Finding Family THE EDGE OF THE WORLD–An Audiobook Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing an audiobook review for a contemporary M/M romance from Garrett Leigh. THE EDGE OF THE WORLD connects an rocker and a filmographer in the hunt for one’s heredity. I recently reviewed KISS ME AGAIN, which is performed by the same narrator. I thought this story would be a great kick-off to a string of rock-romance reviews.

About the book:
Shay Maloney is living his dream—on tour with his pirate/folk-rock band. But you can’t know where you’re going until you know where you’re from, and that’s where moody filmmaker and researcher Ollie Pietruska comes in.

The band’s management persuades Shay to let a television company film a documentary about his roots beyond his adoptive Irish family, and Ollie comes into his life knowing more about Shay than Shay’s ever known about himself.

But while Ollie holds the key to Shay’s past, he’s also hiding deep scars. Even as the hardships of the tour bring them closer, Ollie’s demons threaten the blossoming romance. They might both reach the breaking point before Ollie realises he’s been standing on the edge of the world for too long, and it’s Shay who holds the key to his future.

A friends-to-lovers, rock star, road-tripping romance, with a guaranteed happily-ever-after.

My Review:
Shay Maloney is in his late 20s and the front man for a rising pirate/folk/rock band touring the UK. He’d been adopted as a young child by a generous and loving Irish couple, raised well and proud of his family. So he doesn’t think much of the offer his manager makes to have a documentary made about his life–assuming it’s about his adoptive family. But the filmmaker is all about the geneaology research, and his job was finding Shay’s birth heritage.

Ollie Pietruska has had some issues growing up in a family of Polish immigrants in London. He seemed to have a very promising career in film making but a car accident a couple of years ago has shaken his world-view. His burned body has healed, but Ollie suffers depression and anxiety, especially when riding as a passenger. Why he agreed to spend three weeks touring with Shay’s band is a question he asks himself nearly hour by hour. Still, he’s attracted to Shay’s magnetic personality, and the idea that he can reveal Shay’s hidden past–many of which seemed tied to Shay’s starry nature and music-making capabilities–are opportunities for a deep connection to grow. Ollie’s missed connecting with people for some time now, and though his physical scars often pain him it’s the mental scars that have kept him celibate and emotionally separate for these years.

Shay and Ollie have an almost instant attraction, and Shay’s curiosity about his heritage grows because he’s so in tune with Ollie as a guide through the process. Ollie seems to know how to present tantalizing bits to Shay to keep his interest, and keep him wanting to know more. As they travel together, Ollie sees the caring nature of the band, and how the members act as an extended or surrogate family. Shay is the leader, but he’s also their heart, and Ollie longs to have the closeness that would allow him to care for Shay, too. Shay’s diabetes plays a bit of a role in facilitating this, when Ollie get to come to the rescue at some key times. Shay’s a generally sober man to help maintain his health, but his performances are so energetic and intense it plays havoc with his blood sugar management. The bond between Ollie and Shay grows by bits and pieces as Ollie learns to share himself and his history in much that way he’s sharing Shay’s genealogy story.

The audiobook was really captivating. At just under 6 hours, the pace seemed right. The narrator, Dan Calley, was able to capture Ollie’s gruffness and Shay’s more melodic voice admirably. I could sense the pain and anxiety in Ollie’s thoughts as he worked through his fears of traveling as a passenger. And his fascination with Shay was really clear and present. It sometimes affected his ability to do his job, and that tentativeness was evocative in the audio. Shay’s musings are often more introspective than Ollie’s but his struggles maintaining his energy and sugar balance while on the road do erode some of his balance. He’s not eager to lean on Ollie, but he won’t stand on false pride. Plus, he really connects with Ollie, and the warmth and openness he finds the deeper their bond grows is really palpable in the audio. It’s not too heavy on the sexytimes and at times the filmography gets lost in the tour details, but it’s still a strong love story with a happy ending. Definitely recommend!

Interested? You can find THE EDGE OF THE WORLD on Goodreads, Amazon, Audible audiobook or iTunes audiobook.

About the Author:
Garrett Leigh is an award-winning British writer and book designer, currently working for Dreamspinner Press, Loose Id, Riptide Publishing, and Fox Love Press.

Garrett’s 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.

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 renowned LGBTQA+ photographer Dan Burgess.

Otherwise you can find her on her website, twitter or Facebook.

Brave in a New World: HOW TO RUN WITH THE WOLVES–Review and Giveaway!

Hi there! Today I’m so excited to share an audiobook review for the newest book in the Mad Creek universe from Eli Easton. HOW TO RUN WITH THE WOLVES is the fifth M/M canine shifter romance in this series and I absolutely adore them all. Check out my reviews for HOW TO HOWL AT THE MOON, HOW TO WALK LIKE A MAN HOW TO WISH UPON A STAR and HOW TO SAVE A LIFE because this series is amazing.

Scroll down to catch my review and enter the $10 Amazon GC giveaway below!
About the book:
Zeus loves his job on the new Mad Creek Search & Rescue team, and his inner Saint Bernard is finally being used to his full potential. When he sees a mysterious and wild-looking quickened—a dog shifter—at an earthquake site in Alaska, Zeus is compelled to investigate. Zeus falls hard for the primal beauty of Timo and of Alaska itself. Both call to his deep canine soul. But the Quimmiq pack’s laws are as harsh as the Alaskan winters, and Timo is out of his reach.

Timo’s pack of dog shifters left their Inuit village generations ago and have lived wild ever since. Not trusting the “one-skinned,” and with their numbers dwindling, the Quimmiq are on the verge of extinction. Timo is shocked to discover a whole group of “two-skinned” working as a rescue team, and he is particularly fascinated by Zeus, a gentle giant. He senses what Zeus feels for him… but it’s forbidden.

Can Mad Creek save this lost quickened clan? Perhaps—if they can learn how to run with the wolves.

My Review:
I listened to the audiobook version, so if my spellings are off–it’s because I don’t have a print copy to verify the names.

Zeus Barkley is a Saint Bernard quickened, which in this world means that he can assume the form of a man, or a Saint Bernard. He was born a quickened pup to two Saint Bernard shifters who are a happily mated couple in Mad Creek, California–the location of a huge quickened community. Zeus works for the California forest service, and has recently returned to Mad Creek, following his college educaiton, and training and working for the forest service. He’s surprised at how many quick now live in Mad Creek–and a little unsettled. Zeus likes a quiet life, and he’s very at-home amongst the forest trees and his peaceful cabin. Given his size, education, and experience in the human world, Zeus is soon tapped to join a Rescue Squad of quickened from Mad Creek. This is headed up by another forest service employee, Matt, who is not quick, but has mated with a quick, Deputy Sheriff Roman Charsguard.

Mad Creek’s rescue squad is called into service to help find survivors in the rubble of Anchorage following a big earthquake. Zeus finds an Inuit man who invites the who squad to his remote village in thanks for the rescue. Zeus also meets a native quick, Timo, who engages Zeus to help find his sister, Hitty, who has been trapped in a cave due to the earthquake. The Inuit man Zeus rescued says Timo is a Quimmiq, a mythical man-dog, and promises Zeus will learn more if he travels to his home village. There, not only do the Mad Creek folks learn the stories of sled dogs who became human, Zues is “kidnapped” by Timo and friends to become part of the Quimmiq pack.

Unable and unwilling to join the pack as a breeder, Zeus and Timo convince the pack alpha, Timo’s brother Yuki, to allow both Timo and Hitty to travel to Mad Creek to learn about the shifter population there. Yuki wants to learn the secret to good health of the pack–the Quimmiq pups have been dying and their pack is dwindling. Hitty herself is a sickly Quimmiq, small and born with congenital issues that might he managed in the “one-skinned” (human) world.

As an audiobook, the story rolls out in good time. Pacing and descriptions are on-point and evocative. We have alternating point of view, between Timo and Zeus, and their voices were clearly different–Zeus having a deep bass that is resonant and commanding without being brash. Timo is a trickster of a character, and we see his cunning and playful qualities, by turns. He isn’t as suspicious of Zeus and Mad Creek as Yuki is, and he’s twice as determined to find out why the Quimmiq are dying, but without giving away his pack’s weakness if he can. His parts are filled with concern and carefully couched language. And, the more time he spends with Zeus, the happier Timo is. He’s especially happy sharing couch time watching NatGeo with Zeus and sleeping (platonically) in that big soft bed…also with Zeus.

Quimmiq have different standards of modesty, and Zeus, as an acknowledged introvert, is far more prudish than most of the Mad Creek quick. It’s charming to witness his embarrassment and discomfort with his unexpected arousal for Timo. Meanwhile, Timo covers his lack of education and understanding with imperious requests. His thoughts on phones and their use are fun and real. He’s not sure why he’s jealous whenever people take an interest in Zeus, but he definitely likes having Zeus’ attention. He’s befuddled about the same-sex couples in Mad Creek, and asks direct questions about those situations where people will answer them. For Timo, mating is to produce pups–because that is his experience and model in Alaska. Could he take Zeus as a mate? Only in Mad Creek, where there are so many “two-skinned” (quick) and no alpha to get in the way. Yuki would never allow to virile healthy two-skinned like Timo and Zeus to mate–unless Timo can get the secret to making healthy pups and save his pack.

Because this book is the fifth in a series, we meet many characters whose stories appeared earlier. The book does a good job of clarifying who all these people are, and provides enough backstory that new readers won’t feel lost. Also, they interleave with one another well–Lance from book 1 is a confidante to Zeus since they grew up together in Mad Creek. He helps Zeus see that communication is key. Roman and Matt from Book 2 are supports to Zeus when things get dicey with Timo. Dr. Jason Kunik and Milo from Book 3 get to the root of the Quinniq breeding troubles–and Milo’s really helpful with managing Hitty’s medical problems. Curing Hitty is a tricky issue for Timo, who doesn’t trust one-skinned medicine, yet, seeing her thrive for the first time in her life? It shatters barriers Timo didn’t know existed. Like, the barrier to his own happiness, mating with Zeus. Rav from Book 4 provides the transport to and from Alaska, by means of the cargo planes that arrive at Mad Creek’s distribution center.

Every time I pick up one of these books, I’m astounded by the creativity and imagination in the storytelling. I want there to be a dozen more books, so I can keep dropping into this world and fall in love all over again with the many characters I’ve grown with over the years. It’s a slow burn but Timo and Zeus have their happy ending, and I’m thinking we’ll see more stories up in the Alaska setting, now that quickened folks have joined the Quinniq pack.

Interested? You can find HOW TO RUN WITH THE WOLVES on Goodreads, Amazon and Audible (US or UK).

And, don’t forget to  check out the previous books in this dog-gone fun series….
HOW TO HOWL AT THE MOON, HOW TO WALK LIKE A MAN, HOW TO WISH UPON A STAR, and HOW TO SAVE A LIFE.

****GIVEAWAY****

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

Eli EastonAbout the Author:
Eli Easton has 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, an organic farmer, and a long-distance walker. She began writing m/m romance in 2013 and has published more than 30 books since then. She hopes to write many more.

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.
signal boost

A Path To Discovery OUT ON THE ICE–Audiobook Review and Giveaway

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a new New Adult M/M romance from Lane Hayes. OUT ON THE ICE is the fifth book in her Out in College series, and features a college hockey player falling for a college baseball player. Catch my reviews for OUT IN THE DEEP END, OUT IN THE END ZONE, and OUT IN THE OFFENSE, for more info.

Scroll down to catch an excerpt and enter to win a $25 Amazon gift card.
About the book:
Colby Fischer is a bad boy with attitude and a chip on his shoulder. As a senior at a Southern California college, he knows this may be his last shot. He doubts he’ll ever become the hockey legend he dreamed of being as a kid, but he definitely doesn’t want to be an accountant. Things get interesting when he’s asked to train the new intern at his step-dad’s firm, who happens to be the troublemaker from his econ class. And the one guy Colby can’t stand.

Baseball is Sky Jameson’s life. He’s happy to be back at Chilton for his senior year, but he’s burned a few bridges and has a bit too much free time off-season. He could use the money and something to keep him busy until his season begins. But his accidental crush on his prickly coworker could be a problem. Colby is straight and Sky is in the closet. Their timing isn’t great, but the intense attraction is hard to deny. With his final season on the hockey team in the balance, Colby may have to decide if he’s ready to come out on the ice.

How about a yummy taste?

“What position do you play?” Sky asked, pealing the label off his water bottle.

“Right wing. Forward. Think of soccer where the front line moves the ball down the field. We do the same with the puck.”

“I know how it works. I’ve watched a lot of hockey.”

“Have you ever played?” I asked.

“No. Baseball was always number one for me. Besides, hockey is kind of…rough. There’s always a fight. And the game moves so fast, it’s hard to see the puck sometimes.”

“Not if you pay attention.” I raised my beer bottle in a mock toast and grinned. “And I like it rough.”

Sky pursed his lips and stared at me…or maybe he was staring at my throat. I couldn’t tell. “Me too. But not on the field. It distracts from the game.”

“In hockey, it’s part of the game. If you can’t defend yourself, your teammates, and the ice, you have no right to be out there. Might as well take up ice dancing or something,” I snarked, only half kidding. “And no offense, but ice dancing is a hell of a lot more entertaining than baseball. Trust me, I know. I played Little League for a couple of years. I used to beg the coach not to put me in the outfield. Geez, you could take a fuckin’ nap out there some days, you know?”

Sky laughed. “Fuck you. You obviously don’t know what you’re talking about. Baseball is a game of strategy.”

“Strategy my ass,” I huffed, smiling to take the sting from my words…even though I kinda meant it. “It’s one of those weird sports where everyone gets pumped when nothing happens. ‘Oh, it’s a no-hitter. That’s amazing!’ Sure…but nothing fuckin’ happened! No one hit the ball, no one rounded the bases, no one slid to home plate. No one had to even wash their damn uniforms! And you know why?”

“Why?”

“’Cause nothin’ fuckin’ happened,” I replied, taking a long sip of my beer as I let the sweet sound of Sky’s laughter wash over me.

God, he had a great laugh. It made me like him a little more. And yeah, as much as I didn’t want to admit it, I liked Sky. He was smart, talented, easy on the eyes, and he had a sense of humor.

“That just proves baseball players are smarter than hockey players,” he taunted.

“Said no one anywhere ever.” I held my hands up in surrender when he flipped me off. “Hey, I’m kidding. I like baseball fine. I told you I follow the Tigers. I still have the jersey my dad bought me when I was ten. Dude, I’d wear it if I still fit in it. What’s your position?”

“Shortstop. I’ve played almost every position at one time or another but I like it the best. You gotta be quick, have a strong arm, and good instincts. I also have a long wingspan. That helps.”

“Makes sense. I don’t know about wingspan, but you gotta be quick in lightning fast hockey too with quick reflexes. Big ol’ quads help.” I smacked my thighs and chuckled. “Mine are kinda huge.”

Sky gave me a lopsided smile. “I noticed. It’s hot.”

“You think muscular legs are hot?”

“I do. Believe it or not, it wasn’t your sweet personality that made me look twice. It was your thighs.”

I snickered. “That’s weird.”

“Maybe, but it’s true. You always wore shorts to summer school. I used to come in a little late so I’d get a good look at you before I sat down. I purposely didn’t sit next to you because I knew I’d get caught staring. And the one day I did, you were the one who got caught.”

“Are you telling me that all this started because of my thighs?” I asked, narrowing my gaze suspiciously.

Sky nodded. “Basically…yes.”

We held eye contact for a moment then busted up.

And when our laughter faded, the mood changed all over again. I felt that same crackle of heat and sexual energy I always did when I was around him, but this time I knew what it was. And though I might have been unsure, I wasn’t afraid.

I leaned forward on my barstool and motioned for Sky to close the distance. He brushed his nose against mine. I held my breath and waited for him to make a move. Any move at all. When he blinked, I licked the corner of his mouth then pressed my lips to his and closed my eyes.

My Review:
Colby Fischer is a 5th-year college senior, who’s got semi-pro hockey dreams. Back in Michigan as a kid, he and his father bonded over hockey. Colby had mad skills. Then his parents divorced and he moved to California with his mom, who didn’t have money or time for hockey leagues, at least until she remarried and her new husband, Harry, could pay for Colby’s training. Conversations with his dad seemed to center on that hockey connection, and these are the memories Colby keeps close now that his father has died.

Sky Jameson is also in his 5th year of college at Chilton College in California. He missed out on a term of school last year when he freaked out and quit his team due to a falling out with his then-closeted boyfriend, Max, who was a fellow teammate. Sky wanted to come out–and he did to his conservative wealthy family. Then, his wealthy family started planning his conversion therapy and Sky beat a path back to Chilton. He’s still closeted on his team, even though Max has came out with his new boyfriend. To catch up with his degree program, Sky is taking summer classes at another college–where he meets Colby.

Turns out, Sky has been hired by Harry’s accounting firm, where Colby also keeps a seasonal job. He and Sky did not hit it off in summer school–Colby thought Sky was cheating off a quiz in their class–so Colby’s suspicious that Sky will be a bad worker for Harry, who is like the nicest guy on the planet. Colby and Harry have a tense relationship, mostly due to Colby’s struggles with grief and bad behavior, even though he knows Harry is a good man, and great partner to his mother.

The tension between Colby and Sky turns physical quickly, much to Colby’s surprise and confusion. He’s straight, right? Colby’s roomie had recently come out as bisexual, and hearing Elliot and his boyfriend getting it on inexplicably turns Colby’s crank. Sky admits to being gay–and closeted, and shunned, and embarrassed–after a lot of (frankly rude) probing inquiries by Colby, who’s adversarial at the outset. Both Colby and Sky are prickly guys, but they begin to rub the rough edges off one another through frank conversation and eventual experimentation. They both acknowledge the building attraction, and Sky offers to instruct Colby in the how-to’s of man-on-man loving. It’s an awakening for Colby, who isn’t only interested in Sky for the sex.

There are plenty of side issues, with conflict on Colby’s teammates and a bizarro pseudo-love triangle for Colby and a girl who’s interested in a jerk from his team. Colby’s navigating of his sexual identity is hard for him to manage. He’s afraid his teammates with reject him. For Sky, he’s afraid of some backlash from teammates about how he handled things with Max. The longer they stay in touch, the more they begin to fall for one another. And soon, it’s not only a matter of potentially coming out, but staying together in the face of rumors and drama.

This audiobook is a good listen, with great intonation from the narrator. I could easily tell Sky from Colby, and the female parts had feminine-sounding voices. The pacing is great, and I could really feel the tension, the confusion and the frustration that Colby experiences. The story is told from his POV, so we get a lot of his anger, his grief and his befuddlement about his growing attraction to Sky.

Sky has a dark background, and he owns his mistakes with Max, and his bestie Christian, made in previous books. He’d seemed an irredeemable, but–as I have learned from Out in the Offense–Hayes has a way of making a bad seed sympathetic and understandable. Sky has served his punishment, and is making amends on his own and with Colby. Sky is a patient and caring shoulder that Colby has needed for maybe the past ten years–and this really cements their bond. It’s a bona fide HEA, and a great story.

Interested? You can find OUT ON THE ICE on Goodreads, Amazon and Audible.

****GIVEAWAY****

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

About the Author:
Lane Hayes is grateful to finally be doing what she loves best. Writing full-time! It’s no secret Lane loves a good romance novel. An avid reader from an early age, she has always been drawn to well-told love story with beautifully written characters. These days she prefers the leading roles to both be men. Lane discovered the M/M genre a few years ago and was instantly hooked. Her debut novel was a 2013 Rainbow Award finalist and subsequent books have received Honorable Mentions, and won First Prize in the 2016 and 2017 Rainbow Awards. She loves red wine, chocolate and travel (in no particular order). Lane lives in Southern California with her amazing husband in a newly empty nest.

You can reach out to Lane on her website, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Amazon.

Navigating Life’s Pitfalls: KISS ME AGAIN–An Audiobook Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing an audiobook review for a contemporary M/M romance from Garrett Leigh. KISS ME AGAIN is a sweet story of connection for a self-isolating man and the manic-depressive friend he makes while they’re in hospital together. I’ve really liked MISFITS, WHAT REMAINS, HOUSE OF CARDS, JUNKYARD HEART and FINDING HOME, so I was eager to experience this one.

About the book:
Tree surgeon Aidan Drummond is content with his own company. He works alone, and lives alone, and it doesn’t occur to him to want anything else until a life-changing accident lands him in hospital. Then a glimpse of the beautiful boy in the opposite bed changes everything.

Ludo Giordano is trapped on the ward with a bunch of old men. His mind plays tricks on him, keeping him awake. Then late one night, a new face brings a welcome distraction. Their unlikely friendship is addictive. And, like most things in Ludo’s life, temporary.

Back in the real world, Aidan’s monochrome existence is no longer enough. He craves the colour Ludo brought him, and when a chance meeting brings them back together, before long, they’re inseparable again.

But bliss comes with complications. Aidan is on the road to recovery, but Ludo has been unwell his entire life, and that’s not going to change. Aidan can kiss him as much as he likes, but if he can’t help Ludo when he needs him most, they don’t stand a chance.

My Review:
Aidan is a gruff and surly tree surgeon who prefers his own company, along with a whiskey. He’s working on a tree when a drunk driver crashes into it, knocking Aiden into a 20+ foot fall that breaks his leg, some ribs and concusses him greatly. He’s confused on the hospital ward, muddled with pain, when another patient, Ludo, attempts to help him find his morphine drip, and a bucket to vomit into.

Ludo is no stranger to hospital. He’s manic-depressive, and his manic trips often end in injury. At the moment, he’s in to have some pins in his wrist replaced–from an earlier “flying” attempt gone wrong. Ludo’s also having his meds updated to keep him more on and even keel, but he’s not taking well to them. He’s intrigued by Aidan, who is big and sexy and struggling to make sense of his injuries. Ludo is a bit of a mother hen, and Aiden seems to allow it, which pleases Ludo. This is in contrast to Aiden’s rough treatment of his cousin Michael, his only family–and only visitor. Not that Ludo has any visitors; his family gave up on him long ago.

Over the course of about 10 days, Aiden and Ludo learn a bit about one another, and strike up the closest thing to a friendship either has experienced in their adult life. Both in their early twenties, they have only the sense to take care of themselves–not anyone else. And, when Ludo is transferred off the ward, Aiden misses him–a feeling that plagues him upon his own release.

Aiden’s cooped up in his squalid bedsit (like a studio flat but smaller) drinking away his days and nights. He struggles to walk with his cane, even as his leg is healing. He might never be able to climb trees again, one of his his only pleasures in life. He’s a bit drunk, and hankering for some outdoors time, so he takes a walk into the nearby woods and there he runs into a man who resembles Ludo greatly–because Ludo is out walking the therapy dog he’s only just gotten. Turns out, they don’t live that far from one another, and Aiden’s inexplicably unwilling to let Ludo escape him again without a word.

Ludo was almost sure that his memories of Aiden were all imaginary. It wouldn’t be the first time his brain tricked him into grave misunderstandings, after all. His meds got switched around a bunch during his stay in hospital, and Ludo’s pretty sure Aiden was a really lucid fever dream, or something. Right? But seeing him in flesh-and-blood re-boots something in Ludo’s mind. Their first reconnection is tenuous, but they continue to see one another, cautiously exploring the other’s real world. Ludo makes Aiden home-cooked meals, eager to lavish him with care, while Aiden begins planting an herb garden for Ludo–so he’ll have fresh herbs to cook with. THey take walks and cuddle close, spending time with Ludo’s dog and the cat that ‘s adopts Aiden. Their closeness solidifies their attraction, and tiny steps toward physicality begin with a bit of kissing. Over time, Aiden heals enough for light duty work, and Ludo’s meds have his mood stabilized. This brings more issues, though, because Ludo’s so happy he’s not sure if he’s becoming dependent upon Aiden–and the more he feels regularly “happy” and “normal” the more he struggles to remember to take his meds.

Aiden wonders and worries when Ludo’s behavior becomes erratic. Is he doing something wrong that pushes Ludo away, or is Ludo struggling within his mind again? Could Ludo do himself harm? It’s happened before, Aiden thinks. Their connection is strong, now that they’ve been seeing one another for a couple of months, but can Aiden help Ludo find himself again, once the mania seems to set in?

This is a really sweet and tender story, with so many moments of just awesome human connection. I loved how Aiden came out from his shell–his life had been hard: his mom died when he was 6 and his dad was a drunk Aiden took care of more than the other way around. His dad kicked it a couple of years back from liver disease, and he’s been mainly on his own since a young age. To open up and embrace Ludo–who is sweet and charming and kind–is a big step for guarded Aiden, but it seems he’s fallen head over heels for Ludo. And, that’s important because Ludo needs someone who will love him steadily, especially when Ludo can’t remember to slow down and love himself.

The audiobook was really captivating. At just over 5.5 hours, the pace seemed right. The narrator, Dan Calley, was able to capture Aiden’s gruff tones and Ludo’s more melodic voice admirably. I could sense the pain and urgency in Aiden’s thoughts as well as the subtle confusion and blank expanse of Ludo’s musings in the recording. I’ve listened to it at least twice now, and I know I’ll listen again. This story is heavy on connection and light on sexytimes, but the romance is strong, and the moves both Aiden and Ludo make to be better men for their partner is all I could have hoped to find. Definitely recommend!

Interested? You can find KISS ME AGAIN on Goodreads, Amazon, Audible audiobook or iTunes audiobook.

About the Author:
Garrett Leigh is an award-winning British writer and book designer, currently working for Dreamspinner Press, Loose Id, Riptide Publishing, and Fox Love Press.

Garrett’s 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.

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 renowned LGBTQA+ photographer Dan Burgess.

Otherwise you can find her on her website, twitter or Facebook.

Unexpected Love: I WISHED FOR YOU audiobook review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a new audiobook I really enjoyed from Colette Davison. I WISHED FOR YOU is a M/M/M friends to lovers romance that definitely delivered.

About the book:
Three wishes.

Seb wants to be happy.
Matt wants to find ‘the one.’
Connor wants them.

Two drunken kisses.

Seb didn’t plan to kiss Matt and Connor, but he doesn’t regret it, even if it has changed their friendship forever.

Matt has never considered dating a man before, let alone two. Despite his confusion, being with Seb and Connor feels right.

One uncertain future.

Connor’s potential fate has stopped him living and loving. Can he face his fears to be with the men he loves?

How about a little taste?

“Wow,” Matt breathed as a shooting star shot across the now dark sky, trailing a tail of light behind it.
“That’s awesome,” Seb said. “Hey, aren’t you meant to wish on shooting stars or something?”
Matt stood, watching the sky intently. He’d finished his second can of beer and started on his third before he saw another shooting star.
“I wish I could find the one,” he yelled at the star.
Anything was worth a shot. Every girl he’d dated had held the promise of being the one, but every relationship had fizzled out within weeks or months. He was getting close to believing he’d permanently be shut in the friend zone by every woman he knew.
“My turn,” Seb said, leaping up to stand beside Matt. “Find me a star.”
“There might not be any more,” Connor pointed out.
A glance over his shoulder told Matt that Connor was still sitting, nursing a can of beer in his cupped hands. With their breath frosting on the air in front of them, Matt and Seb kept a fierce watch on the sky.
“There,” Matt said, pointing towards the far right as a star shot across the darkness.
“I wish to be happy again,” Seb yelled.
Matt turned to Connor. “It’s your turn.”
Connor shook his head.
“Why not?”
Connor met Matt’s curious stare. “I’ve already had one wish come true. I figure I’d be pushing my luck to make a second.”
Matt’s eyebrows shot up. “Oh? Do we get to know what this wish of yours was?”
Pink splashed across Connor’s nose and cheeks. He looked down, mumbling his answer. “I wished for friends. Someone I could count on. I met the two of you right after.”
Matt’s chest clenched. He tried to speak, but his voice stuck fast in his throat.
“Really?” Seb asked, staring intently at Connor as he sat in the middle chair.
Connor lifted his eyes again, staring at Seb and then at Matt. “Yeah.” He looked to the sky. “I mean… it was probably a coincidence, but I wished for you, and there you were.”
Tears stung Matt’s eyes. He ran his hand over them and down his face, sniffing loudly. “Well, fuck, Con…” He wasn’t even sure what it was he wanted to say. “I’m glad we met you, too,” he managed. “I’m glad we could help you when you needed us.”
“You still do,” Connor said softly. “Every day.”
“Okay, shut the fuck up now,” Matt said, trying not to cry. He flopped into the third chair. “I’m not nearly drunk enough to be getting this sentimental. More booze!”
Seb handed him a full can, and together, they sat and watched the occasional light show of falling stars as they drank into the night.

My Review:
Seb, Matt and Connor have been close friends from primary school. They are grown adults most unlucky in love. Matt can’t find a woman who won’t ‘friend-zone’ him. Connor is afraid to fall in love, sure he will develop early-onset dementia like his deceased mother. Seb thinks He’s found the one, until his boyfriend of five years breaks up with him and asks him to move out…on his birthday.

Matt and Connor help Seb with his despair, and agree to an impromptu camping trip the weekend after Seb moves out. Drunk and reckless, Seb confesses his undying love for both Matt and Connor—the truth more sincere than they anticipate, especially when Seb kisses Matt. Matt’s as surprised as anyone when he realizes he really likes Sb’s kiss. Connor has long fancied his dedicated friends, but he’s shy and inexperienced. Only when Matt presses Connor does he reveal his true feelings for both Seb and Matt. Matt can’t forget that kiss, or the feelings now awakening for him about his best mates.

I think the narrator does a great job of differentiating the characters’ voices, including Seb’s and Matt’s mums. Each man has a distinct sound, and the pace was reasonable. I loved the echoes of vulnerability forMattand Connor, because this is all new for both of them. There is so much good stuff happening between these guys, that I was caught by surprise when the climax came—expect bloodshed and scars, but a stronger love to emerge. There are plenty of sexy times, of the partner and ménage variety. It was steamy and fun, and I really enjoyed it.

Interested? You can find I WISHED FOR YOU on Amazon.

****GIVEAWAY****

Click on this Rafflecopter giveaway link to be entered to win a $10 Amazon GC.
Good luck and keep reading my friends!

About the Author:
Colette’s personal love story began at university, where she met her future husband. An evening of flirting, in the shadow of Lancaster castle, eventually led to a fairytale wedding. She’s enjoying her own ‘happy ever after’ in the north of England with her husband, two beautiful children and her writing.

Catch up with Colette on her website, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Instagram, or Bookbub.

OUT IN THE OFFENSE–Now Available in Audiobook! Review and Giveaway

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a new audiobook of a New Adult M/M romance from Lane Hayes. Y’all know I totally loved OUT IN THE DEEP END and OUT IN THE OFFENSE, but the audiobook was spectacular!

Scroll down for an excerpt and to enter the giveaway.
About the book:
Christian Rafferty is a talented quarterback with a big secret. He’s determined to make the most of his final season on the football field, and if possible, avoid any confrontations with his conservative parents about his future. It shouldn’t be difficult; he’s become adept at keeping his public and private lives separate. However, when a math class threatens to derail his plans to graduate on time, he realizes he may need outside help.

Rory Kirkland has a reputation for being a tough guy. He’s a former wrestler and recent college graduate who needs a real job. Until he finds one, tutoring is a decent temporary gig. Luckily, his brain is his biggest asset. Rory is a genius. He credits his sport for helping him deal with angst and rumors about his sexuality when he was younger, but he doesn’t care what others think anymore. He likes his new status as an out and proud bi man; and he recognizes something of himself in Christian. But Rory didn’t count on falling for him. When an unlikely friendship collides with intense attraction, both men begin to realize that coming out on offense just might be the surest path to love.

How about a yummy taste?

“Can I do anything to help?” I asked, setting my backpack on one of the two barstools at the narrow counter space.
“Nope. As soon as the veggies are sautéed, we’ll be ready to eat. Want something to drink?”
“Yes, please. Water is fine. Where’s Buttons?”
Rory pulled a water bottle from the small fridge behind him and handed it over, then pointed at a basket next to the sofa.
“She’s hiding behind that basket. She’ll make an appearance if she decides you’re worthy. In the meantime, there’s bread in that basket on the counter next to your bag. Help yourself. I’ll bring dinner out.”
I thanked him, then twisted the cap from the water bottle and took a generous sip before rounding the corner in search of the bread. I was ravenous. I bit into the baguette with gusto before turning to check out my surroundings.
Rory’s apartment was tiny. Probably half the size of mine and much older. But unlike the rough exterior, it was…pleasant. Surprisingly so. A short wall delineated the narrow kitchen from the main living area. There was just enough room for a sofa, an ottoman, a TV console, and a smallish television. Two barstools were tucked under the small peninsula by the cut-out in the kitchen wall. The palette was basic “dude”…dark leather against stark white walls, though a large red throw rug anchored the room and provided a nice splash of color. It was simple—but tidy and very clean.
“Your place is cool,” I commented when he entered the room, carrying two plates and a large bowl.
“Thanks. Let’s sit on the sofa. We have more room to eat there,” he said decisively as he set his burden on the coffee table. “Help yourself. I’ll get some forks, napkins, and extra veggies.”
I obeyed and quickly got to work, scooping chicken fettucine Alfredo onto both plates. Rory joined me a minute later, handing over the silverware before taking a seat next to me. I shot a bashful sideways glance at him as I reached for a napkin.
“Do you eat like this every night?”
“It’s really nothing special. I make sauces in bulk and freeze them. Then it’s just a matter of adding protein and veggies. By the way, this Alfredo is a healthy version. If you want to drown it in parmesan, feel free. I won’t be offended. Cheers.” He tapped his water bottle against mine and winked.
“Cheers. And thanks again. This is incredible and very unexpected.” I smiled as I twisted the pasta around my fork.
“You’re welcome. You sounded anxious, but you said we’re cool. Are we?”
“Of course.”
Rory tilted his head and shot me a challenging look. “Then kiss me.”
“Um…now?”
“Yeah, now. The other night could have been a fluke. Instead of wondering, let’s get it over with. One kiss should be enough to tell. C’mere,” he commanded, leaning sideways.
I set my fork down and met him halfway until our noses brushed. Then I waited for him to make the next move. He stayed stubbornly still. When I couldn’t stand the growing tension, I pressed my lips to his. And wow…amazing.
Rory was a great kisser. He had the simple art of give-and-take down to a science. He molded his mouth to mine and gently pushed his tongue inside. The connection was sweet but bold. It was more about discovery than possession. I hummed as I snaked my arm around his neck, pulling him closer. He sucked my tongue, then bit my bottom lip playfully before pulling back.
“Definitely not a fluke,” he said with a devilish grin.

My Review:
I just reviewed the actual book last week, so I’m going to sum it up and discuss why I liked the audiobook.

Christian Rafferty is a college football player in need of a tutor for statistics. His coach recommends Rory, a math whiz and recent college grad who fills his time doing odd tutoring and personal training. Rory is an out and proud bisexual after his closeted status lost him the love of a good man. e gets a vibe off Christian that he’s not too shy to pursue. Christian won’t resist Rory–that former wrestler is too sexy–but he’s not sure if he should come out. His teammate Evan did the season before, and Christian’s conservative parents weren’t best pleased.

Michael Pauley does the audio and he really made me feel like I was in the mix. Whoo boys! His gritty voice really suited both Rory and Christian’s masculine characters. I was not disappointed with all the yummy sexytimes in stereo. The audiobook runs about 5.5 hours, and I felt the pacing was spot on, with great accent in all the right places. Hearing Christian’s uncertainty and frustration with his meddling father was just as easy as hearing his vulnerability meeting and falling for Rory. Rory felt a little flat in the book, but he really came to life in the audio, which I liked. He seems like a better guy than the impression we had in the previous story. He’s grown up and found himself, and that was fun to experience.

If you like audiobooks, I’d recommend any of the ones in this series. They aren’t too long, and they have some great characters finding sexy lovers to satisfy them.

Interested? You can find OUT IN THE OFFENSE on Goodreads and Amazon and Audible.

You can also pick up the first two books in this series, too!
OUT IN THE DEEP is available on Goodreads, Amazon ebook, and Audible (audiobook).

OUT IN THE END ZONE is available on Goodreads, Amazon and Audible.

****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:
Lane Hayes is grateful to finally be doing what she loves best. Writing full-time! It’s no secret Lane loves a good romance novel. An avid reader from an early age, she has always been drawn to well-told love story with beautifully written characters. These days she prefers the leading roles to both be men. Lane discovered the M/M genre a few years ago and was instantly hooked. Her debut novel was a 2013 Rainbow Award finalist and subsequent books have received Honorable Mentions, and won First Prize in the 2016 and 2017 Rainbow Awards. She loves red wine, chocolate and travel (in no particular order). Lane lives in Southern California with her amazing husband in a newly empty nest.

You can reach out to Lane on her website, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Amazon.

About the Narrator:
Michael has well over 50 audio book titles currently available for purchase on Audible.com. He is versed in multiple styles and genres including fiction (novels and short stories) ranging from romance to science fiction to crime dramas to thrillers; business strategy books; health and wellness books; and even an occasional children’s book.
Fans of Michael’s narration are welcome to follow him on social media including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and SoundCloud.

If you are interested in working with Michael to produce your next audio book, you can contact him directly at voice@michaelpauley.info

Catch up with Michael on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and SoundCloud.

LEANING INTO FOREVER–Audiobook review

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

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

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

How about a little taste?

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

“The psychology of alliterations,” I deadpanned.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Of course. What exactly is my crossroad?”

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

“Not a chance,” he snapped.

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

Levi nodded. “Closer.”

“Have you thought about selling the diner?”

“Yes. But I’m not going to.”

“Why not?”

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

Every fucking day.

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

I licked my lips and whispered, “Yes.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Catch up with Nick on Facebook and Twitter.