Unsure How to Become BOYFRIEND MATERIAL–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a brand-new contemporary M/M romance from Alexis Hall. BOYFRIEND MATERIAL is a sweet and sassy love story for a tangentially-famous man and a bit of neurotically-ethical barrister who agree to be temporary fake boyfriends.

About the book:
Wanted:
One (fake) boyfriend
Practically perfect in every way

Luc O’Donnell is tangentially–and reluctantly–famous. His rock star parents split when he was young, and the father he’s never met spent the next twenty years cruising in and out of rehab. Now that his dad’s making a comeback, Luc’s back in the public eye, and one compromising photo is enough to ruin everything.

To clean up his image, Luc has to find a nice, normal relationship…and Oliver Blackwood is as nice and normal as they come. He’s a barrister, an ethical vegetarian, and he’s never inspired a moment of scandal in his life. In other words: perfect boyfriend material. Unfortunately apart from being gay, single, and really, really in need of a date for a big event, Luc and Oliver have nothing in common. So they strike a deal to be publicity-friendly (fake) boyfriends until the dust has settled. Then they can go their separate ways and pretend it never happened.

But the thing about fake-dating is that it can feel a lot like real-dating. And that’s when you get used to someone. Start falling for them. Don’t ever want to let them go.

My Review:
Luc O’Donnell is in his late 20s and son of 80s rockers. His parents never married, and he never actually met his father, Jon Fleming, who’d moved on and toured with a different band, making a tabloid nuisance of himself for the most of Luc’s youth. His last serious boyfriend sold stories of their relationship, including compromising pictures, for an interview, and it’s left Luc feeling emotionally violated and preternaturally suspicious of any man who might take an interest. Now, Jon Fleming is back on the British music scene as an advisor to rock wannabees on a reality show. And, Luc’s many foibles are prime for the tabloids to print. Luc works as a fundraising manager for an obscure dung beetle charity, and this miserable job is in jeopardy when some of the usual donors take offense to the sensationalized antics that Luc hasn’t really committed, but are now in the papers.

He’s got to find a respectable boyfriend to win back the snooty donors, or find a new job. But who will hire this pariah? Better yet, who would really date him?

Luc’s friend sets his up with Oliver Blackwood, a decent and ethical vegan barrister who Luc is sure looks down on him from his moral high ground. Oliver is in dire need of a partner for his parents’ anniversary luncheon, and he’s willing to become part of Luc’s circus life to make this onerous occasion palatable. Luc tells the story so we get a lot of his emotional issues, but he begins to see that Oliver’s seemingly perfect life is a carefully constructed facade to paper over the isolation he’s long felt in his family.

Luc and Oliver are the sweetest men, both needing love and reassurance that they aren’t making horrible messes of their lives. Fleming’s not only on the telly, he’s making in-roads with Luc’s mum and seems to want to make amends to Luc, as well. Luc’s horrified by the tawdriness of the situation, and leans heavily on Oliver’s steadfastness to survive some of these encounters. Oliver is a great guy, noble yet a little sanctimonious, but he treats Luc better than a boyfriend, and Luc strives to be even half as good. Their communication becomes more necessary than perfunctory, and they develop a bond that neither wants to acknowledge in total–because they believe this is a meant to be temporary.

I love fake boyfriend tropes, and this one is extremely well-done. The friends and family drama is on point, and Luc’s self-deprecating humor is a constant delight. His sensitivity and emotional vulnerability are so raw, and I was glad that a good man like Oliver was there to help him patch himself up. Their sexytimes are tentative, at first, but tender and loving as they gain a keen interest in one another.

I honestly fell hard for Luc, and his quest to live a decent life and have a decent guy was so engaging. He’s got a brain that never shuts off, and it was a bit of a thrill ride as his feelings for Oliver ramped up. It was hysterical how Luc figuratively and literally cleaned up his life–including his apartment, because he wanted to be someone that Oliver could admire–not even realizing how much Oliver admired him already. I loved how he stood up for Oliver, especially against Oliver’s own family who all treat him rather shabbily. There’s a big conflict near the end, where Luc needs to make a grand gesture and it surely goes to heck in a handbasket, but he still ends up winning Oliver back for a happy ending.

I finished reading this a couple of months ago, but re-read it so it would be fresh for the release. It’s a book worth reading over again, and I still laughed out loud repeatedly as I absorbed Luc’s deep-seated self-consciousness for the second time. I loved these guys and was only sad to see the book end.

Interested? You can find BOYFRIEND MATERIAL on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Apple Books. I received a review copy of this book via NetGalley.

About the Author:
Alexis Hall was born in the early 1980s and still thinks the 21st century is the future. To this day, he feels cheated that he lived through a fin de siècle but inexplicably failed to drink a single glass of absinthe, dance with a single courtesan, or stay in a single garret. He did the Oxbridge thing sometime in the 2000s and failed to learn anything of substance. He has had many jobs, including ice cream maker, fortune teller, lab technician, and professional gambler. He was fired from most of them.

He can neither cook nor sing, but he can handle a 17th century smallsword, punts from the proper end, and knows how to hotwire a car. He lives in southeast England, with no cats and no children, and fully intends to keep it that way.

Catch up with him on his website, twitter and Facebook.

Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!

Now Available! DRIFTER by Eden Winters–Excerpt and Giveaway!

Hi there! Today I’m spreading the word for a new M/M contemporary romance from Eden Winters. DRIFTER features a rocker in hiding helping out a castaway musician.

Scroll down for an excerpt and enter the giveaway for a free copy of the book.
About the book:
Some legends never die…
Killian Desmond met his end in the fiery crash that killed his band, or so the newspapers say. Now a nameless drifter, he plays one pick-up gig after another in a haze of pain and regret, moving on the minute someone says, “You sound like that guy from Trickster.”

Getting outed cost Mike Rose his musical family. A bassist without a band, he’ll play any kind of music to earn a paycheck, but Trickster’s music provides light during the darkest moments of his life.

A chance meeting brings together two lost souls who spark enough heat to set their guitars on fire. Their chemistry, both onstage and off, feels like something written in the words of a song and gives them courage to face life again.

But to seize their future, they have to confront their past.

Every damned, ugly inch of it.

How about a little taste?

The throbbing beat blended with screams from the crowd; a crowd hidden by bright lights. Sweat and cologne and beer filled Killian Desmond’s nose. Familiar sounds. Familiar scents.

Home.

Did he love this life or hate it? Who cared, he’d never known another. Back to back with his brother Elliot, he shredded his electric acoustic guitar, improvising for the fans. The strings bent to his callused fingertips, note after note falling from his guitar.

Elliot kept up. Elliot always kept up. Others might get lost in Killy’s musical fantasies, but El gauged Killy’s intentions by the way he moved, held his shoulders, or gestures, like pausing to flip his sweat-dampened hair out of his eyes.

The drummer and keyboardist faded away, letting El set the tone with a deep bass beat.

Killy strutted to the front of the stage. Hot lights illuminated him from behind, shining on sweat-soaked skin. “What you wanna hear?” He didn’t need the words to know they’d be sticking to their prearranged lineup. At their manager’s urging, he’d saved the best for last.

Highway!” roared through the arena.

He grinned and cupped a hand to one ear. “What’s that? I can’t hear you.”

Highway!” roughly six thousand voices cried out in unison, louder this time.

“Aw, c’mon, now,” Killy teased. “We’ll play whatever you want, but you gotta tell us.”

The thunderous chant of “Highway! Highway! Highway!” threatened to blow the roof off the building.

Strolling over a few paces and throwing an arm around his brother, Killy said, “Well, I reckon we better do as they say.”

“Since when have you ever taken orders?” Elliot shot back.

Faster than most could follow, Killy slung his guitar back into place and launched into their best-known riff.

The screaming nearly deafened him. He tried again. On his sixth attempt the crowd settled enough to begin.

He grinned. Adoration and energy flowed from the crowd, straight into his veins, to gather strength and escape through his fingers and his voice.

His deep growl purred through the arena, pouring out the melody he’d written in a single night in a hotel room God knew where. High on life, cheap vodka, and the rush of their first big show, he’d settled onto the bed in the dark, except for the flickering image of a black and white movie on the TV, sound turned down, and began strumming.

The words flowed out of him unbidden, leaving him raw, shaken, and in possession of a number one hit.

He didn’t sing or play Highway—the melody made him its bitch, possessing him, demanding release into the world.

Who was he to refuse?

“Some were born to sand and wind, on the sea they make their home

Some may live a hermit’s life, on a mountain all alone

Or in a glass and metal cage, high up in the sky

Packed in tight with a thousand souls, all trying to get by

Nine to five may work for some, but that don’t work for me

Saddled to day in day out, no, I need to be free

Living a life all on my own, free of family, lover or friend

On the highway I was born, it’s there I’ll meet my end.”

Alone, just him and the highway, until the chorus.

“On the highway I was born, it’s there I’ll meet my end.”

Elliot’s sweet tenor wrapped around Killy’s pack-a-day growl, blending together seamlessly.

The audience joined in, chanting, “Highway! Highway! Live and die on the highway!”

Rob kept pace on the drums, a musician not really worthy of the band they’d become, and Ace, a friend and one hell of a musician, wound his way through the twists and turns on his keyboards.

“The only home I’ll ever know stretches from sea to sea

No start, no end, no in between, just miles of road and me

Living a life all on my own free of family, lover or friend

On the highway I was born, it’s there I’ll meet my end

Highway! Highway! Live and die on the highway!

Highway! Highway! Live and die on the highway!

Highway! Highway! Live and die on the highway!”

The mass of humanity might have started chanting again for all Killy knew. His world boiled down to this moment, the music, his brother, his friend, and the life laid out for him long ago, the first time his mother brought him and Elliot onstage.

They’d stayed. She’d gone.

Here they still stood, though she didn’t.

Never would again.

Nope, no bad thoughts. Just the music.

Note after note poured from him like rain, blocking thought and feeling.

He crashed to his knees, striking a chord and letting his guitar speak for him. Caught in the spotlight, he leaned back in a signature move his manager made him practice, making his shirt ride up to show some skin, while his hair fell back, glittering like gold in a strategically placed spotlight.

The blue streak, his own addition, voiced his defiance at being a commodity.

He should’ve been exhausted after the show they’d put on, but in that moment, he swore he could go all night.

He jumped to his feet, racing across the stage and running through part of the guitar solo for those seated to the left of the stage, then reversed course to the right, repeating the solo.

Arms reached for him, a thousand voices calling his name.

Rejoining Elliot centerstage, he launched into the chorus and let the others join him.

After extending the song by two more choruses, he finally wound down.

An announcer stepped up on stage, to catcalls, whistles and ear-splitting shouts. “Let’s hear it for Trickster!”

Interested? You can find DRIFTER on Goodreads and Amazon.

****GIVEAWAY****

Click on this Rafflecopter link for your chance to win one of 5 ebook copies of DRIFTER!
Good luck and keep reading my friends!

About the Author:
You will know Eden Winters by her distinctive white plumage and exuberant cry of “Hey, y’all!” in a Southern US drawl so thick it renders even the simplest of words unrecognizable. Watch out, she hugs!

Driven by insatiable curiosity, she possibly holds the world’s record for curriculum changes to the point that she’s never quite earned a degree but is a force to be reckoned with at Trivial Pursuit.

She’s trudged down hallways with police detectives, learned to disarm knife-wielding bad guys, and witnessed the correct way to blow doors off buildings. Her e-mail contains various snippets of forensic wisdom, such as “What would a dead body left in a Mexican drug tunnel look like after six months?” In the process of her adventures she has written twenty gay romance novels, has won Rainbow Awards, was a Lambda Awards Finalist, and lives in terror of authorities showing up at her door to question her Internet searches.

When not putting characters in dangerous situations she’s a mild-mannered business executive, mother, grandmother, vegetarian, and PFLAG activist. Her natural habitats are airports, coffee shops, and on the backs of motorcycles.

Catch up with Eden online on her website, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads or Bookbub.

Living Through Tragedy THE SECRETS WE KEEP- Review and Giveaway!

Hi there! Today I’m excited to share a review and giveaway for a contemporary M/M romance from mega-writer Rick R. Reed. THE SECRETS WE KEEP features two grieving men connecting at the funeral of a woman they both loved and lost. It’s an odd-couple romance, and the age and wealth gap pose interesting conflicts. If you liked LEGALLY WED, or THE PERILS OF INTIMACY you’ll like this one, too.

Scroll down for an excerpt and to enter the $10 GC giveaway.
About the book:
Jasper Warren is a happy-go-lucky young man in spite of the tragedy that’s marred his life. He’s on a road to nowhere with his roommate, Lacy, whom he adores, and a dead-end retail job in Chicago.

And then everything changes in a single night. Though Jasper doesn’t know it, his road is going somewhere after all. This time when tragedy strikes, it brings with it Lacy’s older, wealthy, sexy uncle Rob. Despite the heart-wrenching circumstances, an immediate connection forms between the two men.

But the secrets between them test their attraction. Will their revelations destroy the bloom of new love… or encourage it to grow?

How about a little taste?

Prologue
“Hey! I don’t think you should go through that,” Rob said, barely audible because he didn’t want his fear to show. He sucked in a breath and clutched his suitcase close to him, as though it were a child—or a flotation device. Or a boy he loved and didn’t want to lose…

The water spread out on the road under the overpass like a black mirror. It could have been a few inches deep or a few feet. From just a visual, there was no way to gauge how deep it was. No person with any sense would drive into it.

His Uber driver, a sallow-complexioned man in his forties wearing a black baseball cap, gave out a low whistle. “We’ll be okay,” he said cheerfully, with a confidence Rob simply didn’t have. “Just sit back and let me worry. We’ll be fine.”

Rob wished he had the nerve to speak up, to command, “No! Don’t! Just turn around.” After all, this driver was putting them both in danger. But he felt like protesting would make him seem insane or, at the very least, silly. So what’s worse, he wondered, seeming crazy or drowning? He cursed himself for the ridiculous lengths he went to so as to avoid confrontation.

A thunderclap as loud as an explosion sounded then, and Rob swore the black Lincoln Continental shuddered under its vibration. Lightning turned the dark, cloud-choked dawn skies bright white for an instant, as though day had peeked in, seen the weather, and then ducked back out.

“This baby can get through it,” the driver said, giving the car a little more gas.

Rob tightened his lips to a single line and furrowed his brows as his driver set off into the small lake stretching out before them. As the driver moved completely under the overpass, the drumming sound of the rain on the roof suddenly ceased, and the silence was like the intake of a breath.

“C’mon, c’mon,” the driver urged almost under his breath as he sallied farther into the water, giving the car more gas.

Even before the engine started to whine in protest, Rob knew they were in trouble by the way the water parted to admit the Lincoln. Waves sloshed by on either side.

Rob thought again he should speak up—like maybe to suggest that the driver could attempt to back up—but held his tongue. The guy was a professional, right? He knew what he was doing.

They’d be okay.

And the driver continued, deeper and deeper into the water standing so treacherously beneath the overpass.

The engine made a lowing sound, like a cow’s moo, as the flood rose up the sides of the vehicle.

Rob gasped as brackish, foul-smelling water covered his loafered feet, pouring in through the small spaces around the doors.

The driver eyed him in the rearview mirror. There was a defeat in his voice as he said, “You better open your door and get out while you can.”

Rob wondered, for only a moment, why he would want to. Then it struck him with the adrenaline-fueled clarity born of panic that if he didn’t open his door now, he might never get another chance. The rising water and its pressure would make it impossible to open the door.

If it wasn’t already too late…

Rob leaned over and pressed against the door. The engine stalled at that moment, and his driver reached for his own door handle up front.

For a brief moment that caused his heart to drum fast, Rob feared his door wouldn’t open. He slid over and leaned against it with his shoulder pressed against the black leather, grunting.

The door held and then suddenly gave way.

Granted access, water rushed into the vehicle. The icy current rose up, covering his ankles and his calves. It was almost over his knees when he managed to slide from the Lincoln.

Outside the car, he stood. The water rose up almost to his neck. He felt nothing, only a kind of numbness and wonder. His driver was already sloshing forward toward the pearly light at the other side of the overpass. He didn’t give Rob so much as a backward glance.

Rob started moving against the water, wondering what might be swimming in it.

Thunder grumbled and then cracked again. The lightning flared, brilliant white, once more. And the rain poured down even harder.

He looked back for a moment at the Lincoln Continental, thinking about his TUMI bag on the seat. There was no hope for that now!

He slogged through the water and progressed steadily forward, feeling like a refugee in some third-world country, bound for freedom. In his head he heard the swell of inspirational music.

After what seemed like an hour, but was really only about five minutes, Rob reached dry land at the end of the overpass, where the entrance ramp veered upward toward the highway. Cars whizzed by, sending up sprays of water, the motorists oblivious.

His driver eyed him but said nothing. He was out of breath.

Rob stood in the rain and remembered his iPhone in the front pocket of his khakis. He pulled it out, thinking to call for help. But when he pressed the Home button, the screen briefly illuminated and then blinked out, the picture of an ocean wave crashing toward the shore first skewing weirdly, then vanishing.

“Shit,” he whispered and then replaced the phone in his soaking-wet pants pocket.

He needn’t have worried about calling for help, however, because it seemed the universe had done it for him. On the other side of the overpass, a fire truck, lights on but no siren, pulled up to the water’s edge. Then two police cruisers. And finally, surprisingly, a news van with a satellite antenna on top brought up the rear.

The rest was kind of a blur. Through a bullhorn, one of the firemen advised them to come back toward them but to use the median instead of slogging through the flood. The concrete divider was only a few inches above the sloshing water.

Somehow, Rob and his driver managed a tightrope walk across the lake the underpass had become, balancing on the concrete divider.

When they reached the other side, one of the newscasters, a guy in a red rain slicker, stuck a microphone in his face and asked him to tell him what happened. Was he afraid? Stunned, Rob shook his head and moved toward the cop cars. Behind him, he could hear the driver talking to the reporter.

At the first police car, a uniformed officer got out from behind the steering wheel. She shut the door behind her and held a hand above the bill of her cap to further shield her from the rain. She was young, maybe midtwenties, with short black hair and a stout and sturdy build.

“You okay, sir?”

Rob nodded. “Yeah, I guess.” He smiled. “Didn’t expect a swim this early in the morning.”

The officer didn’t laugh. “Where were you headed? We might be able to take you, or at the very least, we can summon a taxi for you.”

And Rob opened his mouth to say, “To the airport” and then shut it again.

One thought stood out in his head. I could have drowned. He looked toward the Lincoln, which was filled now with water up to the middle of the windshield.

“Sir? You need us to get you somewhere?”

Rob debated, thinking of a young man, perhaps out in this same rain, getting almost as drenched as he was. He opened his mouth again to speak, unsure of how he could or should answer her question.

What he said now could very well determine the course of the rest of his life.

My Review:
Jasper and Lacy are the best of friends living in a vintage courtyard one bedroom apartment in the Rogers Park neighborhood of Chicago. They both work retail jobs, and they adore one another, but Jasper is openly gay, and Lacy is his subtlely enamored wingwoman. Jasper and Lacy make up each other’s “chosen family” since Jasper’s emotionally-closed father hardly calls to talk; his pregnant mother and younger sister were murdered when Jasper was a young child and his father never crawled past his grief. Lacy says her family are a bunch of liars and she wants nothing to do with them, so they support one another and have done so for the past few years as roomies and friends. Jasper knows Lacy wants a sexual relationship with him, but its beyond his ability, and he’s comfortable being her best friend anyway.

They are out for drinks one night and Jasper hangs out later than usual, hoping to find a sexy man for the night, but he gives up and goes home alone, where Lacy convinces him to cuddle with her following a bad dream. Jasper awakes in his own bed the next morning, unsure how he got there and unsettled by the stillness of the apartment. Lacy should have been up long ago, and his morbid curiosity leads him to find Lacy in her bed, cold and past saving.

Jasper is wrecked. Lacy was his lifeline, and he’s unable to do more than visit the funeral home where her detested parents have the wake arranged. “Lacy” was her chosen name, and he doesn’t recognize the goth girl he knew in the brown-haired pink-dressed Heather who fills Lacy’s coffin. Jasper is intercepted by Lacy/Heather’s uncle, Rob, a 40ish silver fox who seems desperate to know something of Heather’s life over the past five years, since she’d broken off all contact with her family. Lacy’d urged Jasper to move on, and not wonder about the darkness of her family, and how they broke her spirit, but he’s willing to console Rob for a bit.

The secrets of Lacy/Heather’s family begin to unravel in ways that Jasper couldn’t have expected. Turns out Rob is a famous mystery/suspense author that Jasper has been a fan of for years–and Lacy never shared that secret. Rob convinces Jasper to correspond with him via text and email, to keep Lacy alive between the two of them, and Jasper is reticent, but determined to share the truth of his dearest friend. This tentative communication begins to build more of a bond between the two men, and Jasper is kind of shell shocked. He’s never sought out older men, or fancied himself a gold digger, yet he’s difinitely attracted to Rob who is nearly 20 years older, and wealthier than God. This inequality is unsettling and a big barrier for the growing intimacy that Jasper and Rob are developing. It’s not until Jasper finally accepts Rob’s request to come visit his Palm Springs mansion that Jasper learns the true nature of Rob’s place in Lacy’s life–the huge secret that cut Lacy’s ties to her family.

This story had a lot of spooky-ish moments that seemed like sinister foreshadowing, but turned out to be more introspective than at first glance. I didn’t really know what to expect about the tragedies Jasper has faced, and I was sad for his losses. He’s a decent guy, but not nearly as happy-go-lucky as the blurb indicates. Losing Lacy really exposes Jasper’s depression, and he’s not sure he’s worthy of love, in many ways. It obstructs his ability to build strong relationships, but he works through his grief, and his confusion about Rob–who has his own secrets to share and grief to survive.

The end is truly a happy one, however, with Rob and Jasper living honestly, and supporting one another emotionally. I liked how Jasper repaired his relationship with his father, and made the effort to connect with Rob, who really needs a loving partner. The harrowing moments didn’t result in further tragedy, but there were certainly enough breadcrumbs out there to keep me on edge for the next shoe to drop.

I liked the story and enjoyed watching the love that grew through patience, honesty and communication between Jasper and Rob. They each deserved a caring lover, and they helped each other grieve and move on from the pain that first united them.

Interested? You can find THE SECRETS WE KEEP on Goodreads, NineStar Press, and Amazon.

****GIVEAWAY****

Click on this Rafflecopter link for your chance to win a $10 NineStar Press GC.
Good luck and keep reading my friends!

About the Author:
Real Men. True Love.

Rick R. Reed is an award-winning and bestselling author of more than fifty works of published fiction. He is a Lambda Literary Award finalist. Entertainment Weekly has described his work as “heartrending and sensitive.” Lambda Literary has called him: “A writer that doesn’t disappoint…” Find him at http://www.rickrreedreality.blogspot.com. Rick lives in Palm Springs, CA, with his husband, Bruce, and their fierce Chihuahua/Shiba Inu mix, Kodi.

Catch up with Rick on his website, Facebook, twitter and Instagram.

Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends!

Now Available: THE REDEMPTION OF RIVER! Promo and Giveaway

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a contemporary M/M romance from Eli Easton. THE REDEMPTION OF RIVER is the fourth book in the Sex in Seattle series and is fully enjoyable as a standalone. You will meet Jack from THE TROUBLE WITH TONY as he’s Michael’s boss at the Expanded Horizons sexual health clinic. THE ENLIGHTENMENT OF DANIEL and THE MATING OF MICHAEL follow a patient and a sex surrogate from EXPANDED HORIZONS. This new book follows a widower who is trying to get past his grief, and River is the Reiki and Tantra expert that helps him heal and find love again.

Scroll down to catch my review and enter to win a $20 Amazon GC.
About the book:
River Larsen is a world traveler, truth-seeker, and tantric healer. He’s a master of loving all—and no one. Both his past and his spiritual path warn him against attachment. When he falls for his surrogacy client and coffee magnate, Brent McKay, River tells himself it’s a temporary idyll, a beautiful encounter they’ll both enjoy and move on from like two ships passing in the stream of life. Except his heart misses that memo.

Brent McKay hasn’t been interested in sex since his wife died two years ago. When he goes to Expanded Horizons sex clinic in Seattle for help, he meets River Larsen, a sex surrogate specializing in reiki massage and tantric sex therapy. Brent never expected to be interested in a man, but River’s light-filled spirit, inner peace, and electric touch bring him back to life. Brent’s loyal heart is ready to commit again. But how can he convince River that love can last forever—if you just have faith?

The Redemption of River features a widower who surprises the hell out of himself, a gorgeous hippy who thinks he’s a dandelion puff, an age gap, midlife discovery of bisexuality, foodie Seattle, a houseboat, dogs, a trip to Mumbai, and tantric secrets. (You know, the ones that let you have sex for hours. Those secrets.)

I look forward to sharing my review in the coming days. I did finish reading the book, and I loved it!!

Interested? You can find THE REDEMPTION OF RIVER on Goodreads or Amazon.

You can also find book 1, THE TROUBLE WITH TONY, on Goodreads and Amazon.

Or, check out book 2, THE ENLIGHTENMENT OF DANIEL, on Goodreads and Amazon.

Book 3 THE MATING OF MICHAEL is available on Goodreads or Amazon.

****GIVEAWAY****

Click on this Rafflecopter link and enter for a chance to win a $20 Amazon GC.
Good luck and keep reading my friends!

Eli EastonAbout the Author:
Having been, at various times and under different names, a minister’s daughter, a computer programmer, a game designer, the author of paranormal mysteries, a fan fiction writer, and organic farmer, Eli has been a m/m romance author since 2013. She has over 30 books published.

Eli has loved romance since her teens and she particular admires writers who can combine literary merit, genuine humor, melting hotness, and eye-dabbing sweetness into one story. She promises to strive to achieve most of that most of the time. She currently lives on a farm in Pennsylvania with her husband, bulldogs, cows, a cat, and lots of groundhogs.

In romance, Eli is best known for her Christmas stories because she’s a total Christmas sap. These include “Blame it on the Mistletoe”, “Unwrapping Hank” and “Merry Christmas, Mr. Miggles”. Her “Howl at the Moon” series of paranormal romances featuring the town of Mad Creek and its dog shifters has been popular with readers. And her series of Amish-themed romances, Men of Lancaster County, has won genre awards.

Catch up with Eli on her website, Facebook, and twitter.

Gritty and Lovely RENTED HEART–An Audiobook Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for the audiobook version of a 2017 LAMBDA finalist contemporary M/M romance from Garrett Leigh. RENTED HEART features a rent boy fighting to stay clean and the mourning widower whose life he helps restart.

rented-heartAbout the book:
Ex-surfer-turned-businessman Liam Mallaney moved back to Holkham, Norfolk, to mourn the loss of his husband. Grief and loneliness keep him a solitary figure, and he likes it that way. There’s no room in his broken heart for anything else.

Rentboy Zac Payne left London and most of his demons behind, but he still only knows one way to make a living. When he spots Liam in a club one night, it seems he’s found his mark. But Liam proves nicer—and their connection far deeper—than he’d bargained for.

Their arrangement quickly becomes too complicated for Zac, who has other things on his mind: namely his BFF and wayward flatmate, Jamie. Zac owes Jamie the world, and even as Jamie’s drug addiction destroys all they have, Zac won’t leave him behind.

Besides, Liam knows nothing of Zac’s home life, too caught up in his own head to think much beyond the crazy heat he and Zac share. But when trouble comes to Zac’s door, putting his life in danger, Liam must set his grief and anger aside to pick up the pieces of Zac’s shattered heart and his own.

My Review:
Zac Payne is a rentboy in Norwich, England. He’s twenty-three and six months clean of his heroin addiction, after his best pal, Jamie, saved him from an overdose. Jamie’s still using, and hooking, disappearing from their flat for benders that last days on end. One night Zac spots Liam hanging outside a bar and decides to entice him into a trick. Liam’s a bit older, clearly wealthy, and bloody gorgeous, but the reason Zac marks him is the dead look in his eyes; Zac’s familiar with that “checked out” look.

Liam Mallaney hasn’t been with another man since his beloved husband, Cory, died in a wreck. Over those nearly two years, Liam had to assume full control over their company, leaving his art director position behind. Despite living within a mile of his twin sister’s family and also his father’s home, Liam’s a virtual hermit. His constant comfort are two Labradoodles that nudge him out to the beach for their walks. Meeting beautiful and nubile Zac is a chance event, and he’s willing to pay for some no-strings, one-off sex to calm the void of grief in his chest for an hour, or so.

Their chemistry is electric, and Zac’s so shell-shocked he gives Liam a card with his personal number, hoping Liam might become a regular. Thing is, Liam’s not just interested in sex. He needs companionship, too. And he hires Zac to be a companion–as well as a lover. In their few trysts, Liam begins to thaw his frozen heart, wondering about Zac, and if he could convince him to try working as something other than a rentboy. Zac’s gone over Liam by their second meeting, and wishes he was more, someone suitable for kind and compassionate Liam to cherish. But, he isn’t. And, Jamie sees Zac’s pain over it immediately. Things between Zac and Jamie have been complicated since Zac got clean, but Jamie’s addiction is reaching critical mass; he’s clearly getting too far into the scene to get help, but–beyond that–Jamie’s bringing trouble home.

While Zac and Liam figure out what they want from the other, Jamie’s problems land Zac in a dangerous situation–that’s what happens when your vindictive drug dealer shows up looking for his money. Jamie does the right thing, but it’s not the end of the drama, for Liam or Zac. Still, it brings them together, and gets Jamie the help he needs, both legally and medically.

As an audiobook, I was totally captivated. I’ve been a fan of narrator Dan Calley’s range for some time now, and I feel transported to England whenever I hear his voice. He’s easily able to manage Zac, Liam and Jamie’s rich and gruff tones. He’s also able to manage Liam’s twin sister’s voice with ease. The sexybits are only hotter in Mr. Calley’s richly-accented and emotionally-inflected performance. It’s so easily to hear Zac’s angst here, with his unexpected and unwanted attraction for a john. He’s not the sentimental sort, and struggles maintaining the proper boundaries–which is heart breaking. Liam’s a good man, but he doesn’t know how, or if, he can love again. He’s rendered in a flat-affect at the beginning which translated as depression/grief, but his voice got progressively warmer as the story went on, and he became more and more captivated by Zac. His reticence to fall for anyone, especially a hooker, is a huge shift and I could truly hear it in the audio. It’s kind of shocking to Liam when he decides that answer isn’t NO.

There’s other issues at play–notably Liam’s father experiencing dementia, Zac’s struggle to stay clean, and Liam’s crushing depression–but those are a small part of the building romance. As we’ve got a rentboy-romance, expect lots of sexytimes. For all the steam, there’s tons of tenderness, too.

Interested? You can find RENTED HEART on Goodreads, Amazon, and Audible.

About the Author:
Garrett Leigh is an award-winning British writer, cover artist, and book designer. Her debut novel, Slide, won Best Bisexual Debut at the 2014 Rainbow Book Awards, and her polyamorous novel, Misfits was a finalist in the 2016 LAMBDA awards, and was again a finalist in 2017 with Rented Heart.

In 2017, she won the EPIC award in contemporary romance with her military novel, Between Ghosts, and the contemporary romance category in the Bisexual Book Awards with her novel What Remains.

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

Garrett is also an award winning cover artist, taking the silver medal at the Benjamin Franklin Book Awards in 2016. She designs for various publishing houses and independent authors at blackjazzdesign.com, and co-owns the specialist stock site moonstockphotography.com with photographer Dan Burgess. Bonus Material available for all books on Garrett’s Patreon account. Includes short stories from Misfits, Slide, Strays, What Remains, Dream, and much more.

You can find Garrett on her website, twitter, Facebook and Patreon.

Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends!

Clashing Attraction in CONVENTIONALLY YOURS–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a contemporary M/M New Adult romance from Annabeth Albert. CONVENTIONALLY YOURS puts two competitive gamers on a cross-country trip to get on the Pro Tour, and they find out their longstanding tension has space for attraction and even…love.

About the book:
When two “big name fans” go head-to-head at a convention, love isn’t the only thing at stake.
Charming, charismatic, and effortlessly popular, Conrad Stewart seems to have it all…but in reality, he’s scrambling to keep his life from tumbling out of control.

Brilliant, guarded, and endlessly driven, Alden Roth may as well be the poster boy for perfection…but even he can’t help but feel a little broken inside.

When these mortal enemies are stuck together on a cross-country road trip to the biggest fan convention of their lives, their infamous rivalry takes a backseat as an unexpected connection is forged. Yet each has a reason why they have to win the upcoming Odyssey gaming tournament and neither is willing to let emotion get in the way―even if it means giving up their one chance at something truly magical.

My Review:
Conrad Stewart and and Alden Roth are both in their early 20s and regular competitors in the Odyssey card game YouTube program called “Gamer Grandpa”. The titular “Grandpa” is Professor Tuttle, a mathematics professor at Gracehaven College, where Conrad was a student and Alden is in a graduate program. The vlog is super popular and Prof Tuttle has gotten comped tickets to Massive Odyssey Con West (MOC-West) in Vegas for himself and the whole group of players that regularly appear in the vlog. Reactions are mixed for different reasons.

Conrad’s father cut him off financially when he was outed for being gay–and he’s working to stay in New Jersey and away from his homophobic father in Kansas. He’s living hand to mouth, and hardly has the money to pay for his asthma medications, let alone a trip to Vegas. But, if he’s out there and plays well he could get sponsorship to join the pro Odyssey tour, and then his money woes would be over. Not that he can afford to go…until Prof Tuttle suggests a week-long drive out to Vegas in Black Jack, his personal cruiser. He can’t drive alone and thought the team could help him, and stop at some game shops along the way to film pick-up games for the vlog and drop off some merch. When Conrad’s latest couch surfing experience disappears, he’s got nothing left to lose. He’s in.

Alden is deathly afraid of flying, so a cross-country drive is really the limit of his mobility. And, he’d like to be in charge. He’s neurodiverse, whatever that means–and I’m not being flip about it. Neurodiversity is a spectrum of neurological issues that can include anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive, and may weave into the autism spectrum. Each neurodiverse person is unique and needs a tailored care/management plan. For Alden’s case, he’s definitely rocking anxiety pretty hard, but there seems to be a touch of obsessive-compulsive and what had once been called Asperger’s. For years his moms took him to doctors for a diagnosis on his “issues” and this has left Alden feeling like he’s broken. Add to that, he can’t seem to make it into medical school despite his stellar grades. It’s hard for Alden to read context clues in facial, body or verbal cues. It’s why he seems so prissy to Conrad, who’s a bona fide charmer of all god’s creatures. Not sure where his life is truly headed, Alden volunteers to ride along to MOC-West. He can’t let Conrad with the big tourney, after all.

Two other of the vlog team are preparing for the trip, Payton, who’s flying out to Vegas, and Jasper, who will also join the road trip. And, catastrophe strikes. Prof Tuttle needs to stay back for medical treatment, but he urges Conrad, Jasper and Alden to take Black Jack and gas money to make the trip as planned. And then Jasper’s family emergency leaves Alden and Conrad in the car together. They have an animosity on the vlog that translates into real life. Alden is jealous of Conrad’s easy going nature, feeling Conrad embodies all the qualities that his moms had never found in himself. Conrad just thinks Alden is an insensitive, controlling jerk, not really getting that Alden’s lack of inflections and emotional struggles are an issue he can’t truly control.

Long hours together bring reality to the forefront: these young men have a lot of trauma to deal with, and they do so through small and halting conversations, at first. Their experiences on the road cause them to share more and more of their personal demons with one another, and the long nights in shared hotel rooms lead to even more intimate moments. Conrad is drawn to Alden’s fragile-seeming frame and elfin good looks, while Alden’s always coveted Conrad’s affability and experience. I really liked these guys, who are both sympathetic from the beginning. They both want to win the MOC-West tournament, and they are in excellent position to do so. Once they start falling for one another, however, life gets real complicated, real quick.

I’m not going to say more about the plot except to say that the tournament is handled deftly, and I felt like I could have been there watching. The gaming aspects of the book are easily enjoyed even by an old lady like me who never did get into these sort of games. There is such a great description of the Odyssey community, I couldn’t help but be swept away in the fervor of it all. I’m a huge fan of road trips, and I was grateful for the vicarious exploration I got while reading this book under Illinois’ ‘do not travel order’. I fell in love watching Alden and Conrad support one another, first as friends and later as lovers. There really is NOT a lot of sexytimes in this book, but the emotions are off the charts. I highly recommend!

Interested? You can find CONVENTIONALLY YOURS on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple Books, and Kobo.

About the Author:
Annabeth Albert grew up sneaking romance novels under the bed covers. Now, she devours all subgenres of romance out in the open—no flashlights required! When she’s not adding to her keeper shelf, she’s a multi-published Pacific Northwest romance writer.

Emotionally complex, sexy, and funny stories are her favorites both to read and to write. Annabeth loves finding happy endings for a variety of pairings and is a passionate gay rights supporter. In between searching out dark heroes to redeem, she works a rewarding day job and wrangles two children.

Find Annabeth online on her website, Goodreads, twitter and Facebook.

Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!

The Songs of Love: RAZE–A Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!

A New Beginning ACCIDENTALLY FAMILY–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m excited to share a review for a new contemporary romance from Sasha Summers. ACCIDENTALLY FAMILY is a standalone romance set in the Pecan Valley series for a woman who thought her broken heart was irreparible.

About the book:
Welcome to Pecan Valley, where the town may be small but the townspeople will always lend a helping hand or a shoulder to lean on. Where good times, good humor, and good people will always lead to happily ever after.

Life for Felicity, and her teen children, is finally back on track. After her divorce, she wasn’t sure if her sweet family would ever be the same. But things are good––right up until her ex’s spirited toddler lands on Felicity’s doorstep. If the universe is going to throw lemons at her, thank God she has her best friend, Graham, to help her make lemonade out of them. How did she never notice how kind and sexy he is?

Graham is still recovering from his wife’s death years ago and trying to help his teen daughter get her life together. Who is he kidding? His daughter hates him. Forget lemons––he’s got the entire lemon tree. So when Felicity suggests they join forces and help each other, he’s all in. And suddenly he can’t stop thinking about her as more than just a friend. Too bad their timing couldn’t be worse…

Because life rarely goes as planned. Luckily there are many different kinds of family to hold you together and lift you up…plus maybe even a little love between friends.

My Review
This is not really a romance, more a family drama with some romantic elements.

Felicity Buchanan is a newly-divorced mother of two who lives in Pecan Valley, Texas. She’d married her high school sweetheart, Matt, and supported him through medical school. And about three years ago Matt started having an affair with a pretty, young drug rep. He left his family to move in with his then-pregnant fiance Amber. Felicity and their kids, Honor and Nick, were blindsided and devastated. Matt has moved to Austin with Amber and is raising young Jack; he’s has mostly neglected his family, friends and colleagues left behind in Pecan Valley. Only Honor has maintained some limited contact with her father. In fact, the book opens with Felicity and Honor being disappointed that Matt didn’t show up for Honor’s high school graduation.

And, that’s when they get the call to turn up to the emergency room. Matt, Amber, and Jack were in a catastrophic car wreck. Amber is DOA, and Jack has a broken femur and is in a coma due to head trauma; Matt’s on death’s doorstep. His former practice partner and best friend, Dr. Graham Murphy was at the ER to manage a delivering patient when Matt was rushed in. Graham spent some time with Matt awaiting the arrival of Felicity and the kids, so he knows the story is grim. Before Matt gets wheeled into surgery he tells Felicity that he isn’t going to make it, and he begs her to raise his love child. Felicity agrees, reluctantly. Her main focus was trying to clam Matt, and her intention is to find some relation of Amber’s to find a permanent guardian. Graham is there to help Felicity when they find out that Matt didn’t survive the surgery.

Nick, furious with his dad’s betrayal and lingering neglect, is a hot ball of rage when he learns his mother has agreed to care for baby Jack. It’s a good thing, almost, that Jack is unconscious for a few days because it gives everyone time to cool down from the high drama. Felicity gets an inside peek at what Matt’s life looked like with his replacement family, and it wasn’t pretty. All signs point to him being quite unhappy–and that’s not as satisfying now that she’s saddled with Jack. Because, as it turns out, Amber was a foster kid with no family, and so Jack’s next of kin, and legal guardian of record according to Matt’s will is…Honor. And there ain’t a hell cold enough for Felicity to allow her eighteen year old daughter to forego her college scholarship to care for her half-brother. So, that’s that. Jack will be coming home to Felicity’s re-vamped sewing room just as soon as he’s released from the hospital.

Add to this unexpected house guest, Felicity’s younger sister Charity is back to help celebrate Honor’s graduation. What no one yet knows is that world-touring travel guide Charity doesn’t have a return flight back to Italy. And, she’s homeless, jobless…and has bigger secrets she’s sure her big sis will help her figure out.

Graham has his own difficulty. His beloved wife Julia died of cancer maybe some years ago. He’s been raising their daughter Diana alone ever since, and Di’s a hot mess. Rebelling, sneaking out at night to drink and get high, she’s just been kicked out of her elite private school. So, she’ll be a sophomore at the public school where Nick will be a junior next year. That doesn’t stop all the old widows in Pecan Valley from trying to set Graham up with the assistant principal of that private school. That’s small-town Texas life, I guess, all the matrons want to make sure folks are properly coupled-up.

In fact, they want to see Felicity happily settled again, now that there’s no chance of reconciliation with Matt. As I said, this is a family drama. The blurb tells us that Felicity and Graham will team up, and their rekindled friendship will lead to more. But, “it’s complicated” is kind of the whole gist of the story. Felicity is a champ of a woman who takes her constant struggles in stride. She maintains the bravest face in the history of humanity and not only takes in Jack, but makes a home for him–one warmer and more loving than the one Jack was born to. Nick is as hot a mess as Diana, and these two team up on their own to create some havoc. Meanwhile, the earnest boy who’s been dogging Honor’s steps since freshman year English lit is not willing to leave for his Marines boot camp without trying everything he can to turn her head.

I really enjoyed this story. It is lush in description and characterization. The hero and heroine are grounded humans with real issues. They have problems with problems. They try their best and get crapped on, and they try even harder. The kids have issues that make sense, and their actions may be destructive but they are also reasonable in context. I didn’t hate anyone in the book, really, except Matt who was rendered somewhat sympathetic, in the end. And the choices that the characters make are all so real. The third-person point-of-view shifts between many narrators, but it’s always clear who’s talking and when. This level of clarity helped even bratty and manipulative Diana seem somewhat justified. There is a lot of comfort to go with all the hurt, especially following the funerals. Poor Felicity is overrun with casseroles, desserts and vittles she has no hope of consuming–so why not share it with Graham and Diana? Diana’s in dire need of some women in her life, and the increased visits with Honor, Felicity and Charity do her a world of good. Even Nick is an unexpected help, with both Diana and Jack. Turns out Nick’s uncanny resemblance to his despised father becomes the one touchstone confused and hurting Jack can find.

There is a bit of romance and a VERY LITTLE bit of sexytimes. That said, we know that Graham and Felicity make a great and happy couple to help parent this cadre of kids in various stages of hurt and healing. I’m sure we will see another Pecan Valley novel, this time featuring Charity and the sexy but grieving sheriff who’s always in the right place at the right time…

Interested? You can find ACCIDENTALLY FAMILY on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Target and Wal-Mart.

About the Author:
Sasha Summers grew up surrounded by books. Her passions have always been storytelling, romance and travel–passions she uses when writing. Now a best-selling and award winning-author, Sasha continues to fall a little in love with each hero she writes. From easy-on-the-eyes cowboy, sexy alpha-male werewolves, to heroes of truly mythic proportions, she believes that everyone should have their happy ending–in fiction and real life.

Sasha lives in the suburbs of the Texas Hill country with her amazing and supportive family and her beloved grumpy cat, Gerard, The Feline Overlord. She looks forward to hearing from fans and hopes you’ll visit her online

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

The State of Love REND–A Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!

Beat of Love ROCK HARDEST–Review and Giveaway!

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a contemporary rock romance from MJ Roberts. ROCK HARDEST is the third book in her Chords Brothers series and features a rocker trying to get his life and band together and the sexy drummer he falls hard for…

Scroll down for my review and to enter the books + $25 Amazon GC giveaway!
About the book:
Cole’s world shattered seventeen years ago. Now he’s got one chance to get his life back on track. Hoping that going back to music will ease his tortured soul, Cole starts his own band. There’s only one problem— he can’t find a drummer.

T.J. Casarez is stuck working in her family’s restaurant until her cousin calls her to audition. Cole’s not expecting a female drummer. Yet from the first beat they sizzle. But there’s no way she’s getting involved with a privileged pretty boy. She’s been burned before, and dating a band member is a recipe for disaster.

Only… it’s not just their onstage chemistry that’s on fire.

My Review:
Cole Chord is the elder brother of Ryder Chord–Ryder is an international rock star, and Cole regrets stepping away from music in his late teens due to a family tragedy. In the intervening years Cole had a drug problem–though he’s been clean for years now. Now, Cole’s 34. It’s 17 years since he left his original band, and he’s a very wealthy real estate tycoon in L.A. Cole is ready to chase his dream of music stardom. He hires a wild and outrageous bassist, Tremor, and a guitarist who might just KEEL you–Spider. With no non-addict + talented drummers showing up for an audition, Spider calls his cousin TJ for an impromptu jam session/audition. TJ turns out to be a sexy and sassy woman–and she makes Cole sit up and take notice.

TJ is in her mid 20s but she still lives in a family-owned apartment above one of her family’s Mexican restaurants. Her brothers and extended family are especially protective, and TJ herself doesn’t want to date any man–not after the last guy–a wealthy white man–broke her heart, their engagement, and left her in deep debt. So, while she finds Cole attractive, she doesn’t want anything physical to happen between them…or does she?

Cole’s real estate empire SHOULD run itself, but a misdirected call for assistance from a disgruntled tenant tips Cole off to a burgeoning problem of fraud that may have been perpetrated by his long-time business partner. Knowing that man has mafia ties makes Cole especially wary. Could this situation torpedo his day-job, or his new chance with his nascent band? The chemistry between the members of Phoenix Rising is growing, helped out a bit by Ryder’s support–and that of his friends, other rock superstars and friends of Cole, too. And, the chance to open up for Ryder’s band on a leg of their European tour really palys havoc with their lives–in a good way.

TJ realizes she needs to stand up to her overbearing family, but the boost she gets from Cole makes all the difference. She could barely resist him as it was, and now she’s swooning. And Cole’s a half-mile ahead of her into complete attraction and maybe true love.

This alternating POV rock romance is heavy on Cole being an absolutely-awesome human who cannot do enough to make his and everyone else’s lives easier, busier and more lucrative. He’s like an angel come to Earth. Meanwhile TJ is as aggravating and unlikable as I can imagine a female lead–without her being a sheer criminal or abusive cheater. She’s all about the tease, and then pull away. She takes gossip for gospel and deliberately hurts Cole time and time again. Instead of having ONE adult conversation, TJ flounders, and nearly squanders, her opportunity with Phoenix Rising. All the supportive folks are on Cole to make things right with TJ and it felt pointless because their biggest conflict was her unprofessional behavior. I didn’t connect with TJ much at all, and for that I struggled to understand the relationship. It seemed superficial and forced. Likewise, the resolution Cole developed to keep TJ from thinking he’d use his money to entrap her was almost ludicrous. Since I seriously couldn’t fathom how Cole became so uber-wealthy in the first place, his plan to fully-woo TJ was especially befuddling.

I haven’t read the other stories in this series, but many of those characters were involved in this story and I was honestly intrigued about those characters falling in love.

Interested? You can find ROCK HARDEST on Goodreads and Amazon.

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About the Author:
Fan favorite M. J. Roberts is known for lovable characters, witty dialogue, exciting plot twists, fast-paced action that keeps you on the edge of your seat, and romance scenes that sizzle.

With more than two million copies of stories in circulation worldwide, Roberts is well loved for creating characters who feel as real as your most cherished friends.

M.J. Roberts is the author of seventeen novels, including the popular Rock Hard: Chord Brothers series, and over twenty short stories; she’s won six literary awards including the Literotica Summer Lovin’ Contest 2015 for Risk Your Heart and the April 2019 gold medal from Literary Titans for Rock Hard: Chord Brothers, Book 1.

Roberts is also an editor, songwriter, audiobook narrator, and professor of creative writing. A modestly humble egomaniac with a penchant for superheroes, she’s married to an awesome professional musician (a.k.a. The Rock and Roll God). Her ‘I’m with the band’ status and access to a bunch of real-life alpha bad boys means she’s always saying ‘Anything you say can and will appear in print. Names will be changed to protect the guilty.’

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