Falling Into RANK & FILE–A Military Monday Review

Hi there! Today I’m kicking off a new series I’ll call Military Mondays–focusing on books that have an active military, or veteran, character. This week I’m reviewing L.A. Witt’s RANK & FILE, which is the fourth book in her Anchor Point navy series. I’ve loved JUST DRIVE, AFRAID TO FLY and CHIEF’S MESS, and read forward into the series…but life got away from me and I’ve been collecting reviews for a while.

About the book:
Senior Chief Will Curtis is as straitlaced as they come. While his fellow Sailors have partied their way through their enlistments, he’s had his eye on the prize—making master chief and retiring after thirty years of service.

Lieutenant Brent Jameson is a Navy brat turned Annapolis grad. He’s lived and breathed the military his whole life, and he knows he’s destined for great things—once he’s done paying his dues at the bottom of the ladder.

When their paths cross, both men know better than to give in to temptation, but that doesn’t stop them. It also doesn’t keep them from coming back for more, even though being discovered would sink their careers. Something has to give—Will can retire, Brent can resign, or they’ll both face court-martial.

But there’s also the option neither wants to acknowledge: jump ship and walk away from each other instead of ending their careers over a fledgling relationship. And they should probably decide before they fall in love.

Except—too late.

My Review:
Senior Chief Will Curtis meets Lieutenant Brent Jameson when he’s called to settle a domestic dispute on base. Will is a master-at-arms, a cop essentially, and Brent was (unknowingly) having a rendevous with a married woman when her husband arrived mid-scene. It’s, well, it’s humiliating for Brent. He’d never knowingly break rules like that, and he’s rather lucky the husband doesn’t press charges–for conduct unbecoming. That said, Will and Brent meet up off base by coincidence, as the nearby gay bar–and it’s hot. But…forbidden. Will is enlisted and Brent is commissioned. For a one off..okay. They could fake their way out of trouble if the “just met” and didn’t know each other’s rank.

But that’s not what happens. Because it’s good, and worth a second try. And a third.

Knowing their careers are at risk if discovered, Will and Brent begin to sneak around, even planning a weekend well away from base so they have the chance to wake up together after sunrise in a bed for a change. Their attraction becomes more than hooking up, with time spent chatting, acting as a partner would–if they could be partners. Will has a decade on Brent, and is angling for a career in the Navy–thirty years and full retirement. Brent, he’s only starting off his career, but it’s far more tedious than he anticipated. And, his folks (particularly his dad who’s retired from the Navy) are a struggle. They want him to be a high flyer like his elder brother, and why doesn’t he marry a good woman and settle down…

As it goes, though, it’s not long before there’s a discovery, and they need to either separate from each other, or the Navy…and it becomes a surprisingly easy choice, in the end. Well, not easy, per se, but manageable, and believable. I really liked both Will and Brent. They are good men, who make bad choices professionally in order to make up for denying their personal needs too long. And, it’s not to angst-ridden. I liked it lots, and found the scorching sexytimes highly satisfying.

Interested? You can find RANK & FILE on Goodreads, Riptide Publishing, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks and Kobo. I received a review copy via NetGalley.

About the Author:
Lauren Gallagher is an abnormal romance writer who has recently been exiled from the glittering utopia of Omaha, Nebraska, to an undisclosed location in South America. Along with her husband, a harem of concubines, and a phosphorescent porcupine, she remains, as always, in hiding from the Polynesian Mafia. For the moment, she seems to have eluded her nemesis, M/M romance author L.A. Witt, but figures L.A. will eventually become bored with the wilds of Spain and come looking for her. And when that time comes, Lauren will be ready. Assuming L.A. doesn’t have her hands full keeping track of Lori A. Witt and Ann Gallagher, which she probably will.

Visit her website, Facebook, and twitter.

Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!

LEANING INTO TOUCH–Audiobook Review and Giveaway!

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 this week it dropped as an audiobook! LEANING INTO TOUCH is the fourth book in her Leaning In series, and follows the love story of Josh, the most sensitive of the Stanford besties, finding love with an Irishman keeping secrets. I really liked LEANING INTO THE FALL, LEANING INTO ALWAYS, LEANING INTO A WISH, LEANING INTO THE LOOK, so I was eager to round out my experiences with these Bay-area romances.

Scroll down to catch my review and to enter to win a $10 GC.
About the book:
Josh Sheehan is unlucky in love and now… newly unemployed. He’s not sure what to do next, but he’s sure he should give up on romance. Especially after last time. His friends warned him that falling for the hunky Irishman was a bad idea. Josh can’t help feeling torn even though he knows it’s best to move on. But when an unexpected dose of family drama blindsides him, Josh finds himself leaning on the one man he’s supposed to forget.

Finn Gallagher is driven by success. He makes no secret that building a name for his tech company is his number one goal. Finn left home a decade ago with a ton of regret, a heavy heart, and a vow to never repeat the same mistake twice. However, there is something undeniably appealing about the self-deprecating man with the silly sense of humor that makes it difficult for Finn to remember why falling for Josh is a bad idea. It soon becomes clear they’re both in deeper than they intended. There is no way to remain untouched. And there is so much to gain, if they’re brave enough to lean in.

My Review:
Josh Sheehan and Finn Gallagher met a year ago at a party and really hit it off. That started up a friends-with-benefits plan for a bit, but Josh’s friends warned him off Finn–who they said wasn’t the type to settle down. Plus, that’s exactly NOT the type of man Josh wants. He’s looking for a partner, like his pals have all found. Still, seeing Finn and his female fiance at the museum where Josh works–on his very last day of employment–seems like kismet. And running into him again twice more that week after not seeing him in months is more than a coincidence, right? Josh had swooned for Finn’s thick Irish brogue, but he’s also addicted to his touch. And Finn’s not as engaged as the world may think…

Turns out his fiance is engaged to a woman–Finn and she serve as mutual beards–and Josh is thrilled by the idea that Finn’s single, essentially, but he’s not thrilled that Finn’s comfortable in his public closet. As Josh’s world seems to implode, with new family challenges and needing to get his career back on track, Finn’s a constant support. Their attraction is intense, but they also build a friendship this time around. Josh keeps his growing relationship from his pals, though, not wanting them to warn him off–or have to explain Finn’s secrets–again. Unfortunately, Finn’s determination to be uber successful impacts his relationships, not only with Josh. He’s had some serious family troubles and has been hiding from them for more than a decade, but being with Josh opens his eyes to his guilt, and helps him move past the shame of his history.

The narration of this audiobook is fantastic, with excellent pacing and great quality. I love the different voices, and how Mr. Russo captured Finn’s lush brogue. There are plenty of steamy bits and Russo’s voice captured those just as well as Josh’s moments of acute emotional distress. He’s fells very much alone, isolated due to estrangement from friends and unexpected difficulties connecting with his father–who has made some big revelations and moved in with a new partner after a decade of bachelorhood following the divorce for Josh’s mother. I found myself really transported into the story, and was easily able to connect with Josh. I like Finn a lot, and hoped that the’d get his own life together. It ended well, with Josh taking charge and Finn making the commitments he’d feared for too long.

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

****GIVEAWAY****

Click on this Rafflecopter giveaway link for your chance to win a $10 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 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.

Coming Out Soon DOWN BY CONTACT-A Review

Hi there! Continuing my Sports Week theme I’m sharing a pre-release review of a steamy new contemporary M/M romance from Santino Hassell. DOWN BY CONTACT is the second book in his The Barons series and features a quarterback making contact with a former teammate-turned-hater. It’s a standalone, though it features return characters from ILLEGAL CONTACT, the first book in the series. I’ve loved the gritty romances I’ve read by Mr. Hassell, including SUNSET PARK, INTERBOROUGH and CITYWIDE. DOWN BY CONTACT releases Jan 16th, and preorder links are below.

About the book:
Two rival football players begin a game with higher stakes than the Super Bowl in this steamy romance from the author of Illegal Contact.
Simeon Boudreaux, the New York Barons’ golden-armed quarterback, is blessed with irresistible New Orleans charm and a face to melt your mama’s heart. He’s universally adored by fans and the media. Coming out as gay in solidarity with his teammate hasn’t harmed his reputation in the least—except for some social media taunting from rival linebacker Adrián Bravo.

Though they were once teammates, Adrián views Simeon as a traitor and the number-one name on the New Jersey Predators’ shit list. When animosity between the two NFL players reaches a boiling point on the field, culminating in a dirty fist fight, they’re both benched for six games and sentenced to joint community service teaching sullen, Brooklyn teens how to play ball.

At first, they can barely stand to be in the same room, but running the camp forces them to shape up. With no choice but to work together, Simeon realizes Adrián is more than his alpha-jerk persona, and Adrián begins to question why he’s always had such strong feelings for the gorgeous QB…

My Review:
Simeon Boudreaux and Adrián Bravo were teammates and friends on the Predators for a short stretch a few years back, but Simeon got cut, and picked up by the Barons. Adrián blames the Baron’s success against his Predators on Simeon knowing their playbook, but deep inside he’s really angry that he lost his friend. And, he’s using that anger to fuel some anti-gay slurs he makes once Simeon comes out. Adrián’s Predators are all about toxic machismo, and homophobia; Simeon’s glad he left that behind and found a team where he could be himself–and support a fellow out player. He lives his truth and loves his life.

Of course, he’s not happy with Adrián’s trash talk, or with Adrián’s late hit that lands him on the disabled list for eight weeks. Adrián’s suspended, and their PR teams work out a deal to get both players some positive press: have them use their time off to volunteer at a LGBTQ kids outreach center running the sports recreation. Neither Simeon nor Adrián is wild about this arrangement, and the tension is rough. They have outbursts and power trips, and cause more fuss than help. And, somewhere in the hurt they generate, a kernel of desire is born. As neither man is dating anyone, the taunts they let fly turns the tension up to eleven. Adrián is especially struggling with the recognition that Simeon is such a great guy, and soon he’s also seeing his former adversary as a desirable man.

Not that Adrián can act on his impulses. His old school folks would never accept him coming out as bisexual, nor would he find the Predators to be welcoming. But, Simeon is patient even with all the hate sex Adrián is offering. He definitely likes turning Adrián inside-out; his main mission is to turn Adrián into an ally, even if he’s undercover. The press gets wind of their developing relationship, when one of the kids leaks an incriminating photo, and Simeon tries to shield Adrián from the fall-out, but Adrián wants to write his own story. Especially if it includes Simeon.

I always love the gritty, filthy talking, hot-and-dirty sexytimes Mr. Hassell writes. There’s no shortage of those moments here, and the sweet way Adrián comes around to accepting his sexuality is a bonus. I love the urbanity of the writing, and the ethnic dialect and experiences. Both Simeon and Adrián are men of color and they feel culturally authentic and interesting. I liked the football setting, though there are lots of off-the-field scenes, as both players are sidelined temporarily. The banter between Simeon and Adrián is amusing, and filled with athletic trash talk, amidst the flirtatious challenges. Their physical relationship begins with little more than a dare, but it grows more tender the longer they go at each other. Adrián’s fledgling steps into sex with Simeon are a revelation he didn’t expect to find, but the companionship they share fills a void neither man anticipated. It’s unexpectedly sweet. And, the end leaves the reader wondering if the league’s biggest homophobe, Adrián’s friend and teammate, Rocky Swoops, might be protesting just a bit too much. Looking forward to the next book in this series.

Interested? You can find DOWN BY CONTACT on Goodreads, and pre-order it before it’s Jan 16th release on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes and Kobo. I received a review copy via NetGalley.

About the Author:
Santino Hassell was raised by a conservative family, but he was anything but traditional. He grew up to be a smart-mouthed, school cutting grunge kid, then a transient twenty-something, and eventually transformed into an unlikely romance author.

Santino writes queer romance that is heavily influenced by the gritty, urban landscape of New York City, his belief that human relationships are complex and flawed, and his own life experiences.

You can find Santino online on his website, Facebook, and twitter.

Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!

The Thrills Continue FIVE DARES–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m so excited to share a review for a new contemporary M/M romance from Eli Easton. FIVE DARES is not a sports romance, per se, but the two main characters are athletes and daredevils, and their predicament makes them nearly acrobatic in the bedroom. I have loved all the Eli Easton books I’ve read, including MERRY CHRISTMAS MR. MIGGLES, her HOWL AT MOON books and most recently DESPERATELY SEEKING SANTA. FIVE DARES is another new adult romance, this time between two best friends who secretly love each other, but have to go through hell to connect physically.

About the book:
Andy Tyler has been the class daredevil since middle school. Over the years, he’s convinced his best friend, Jake Masterson, to perform some dangerous-looking stunts with him. But the dare they attempt on the night of their college graduation goes sideways. The firecrackers explode too soon and both of them end up with badly burned palms.

But hey, nothing gets the “terrible two-o” down for long, and they recuperate in style at Andy’s family cottage in Cape Cod. As the weeks go by, both Andy and Jake grow frustrated over the inability to use their hands for all sorts of daily activities—including getting off. So Andy begins a new series of dares that don’t just cross the friendship line, they obliterate it.

But what might be mere sexual relief to Andy is serious business to Jake, who only recently got over years of secret pining for his straight best friend. Inevitably, the burns heal, summer ends, and hearts are broken. To fix things, Andy will have to face the greatest dare of all.

My Review:
Andy and Jake have been best friends for a decade or more. They grew up together in the Boston area, went to school together and have been roommates for four years now at NYU, from which they’ve just graduated. As kids and adults, Jake has had a secret crush on Andy, the wild and charismatic son of an esteemed lawyer and a financial planner. Andy has a penchant for planning outrageous dares that Jake has been a part of as well, either as the front man egging him on and ginning up the crowd (at Andy’s behest) or as a co-participant. Jake gets a thrill out of being Andy’s closest confidant, but he’s wanted more for a long time now. Jake’s anxious to move to the west coast, knowing that he’ll leave Andy behind, so that he can maybe get the space he needs to find a boyfriend who can love him, unlike Andy who he believes is happily heterosexual.

Andy plans a spectacular dare for a big graduation party–and for once it goes horribly wrong. Andy and Jake end up with second degree burns on their palms, and Jake’s unable to leave for his new job; they both need eight weeks of rest to allow their skin to heal. Andy’s father is frustrated that Andy pulled another stunt, one that sabotaged his summer internship before he starts Harvard Law school in the fall, but Andy’s somewhat thrilled. He gets his father to let him and Jake their family cabin on Cape Cod in which to recuperate. They have daily nurse visits, and the cabin caretaker’s willing to make some meals for them while they both remain bandaged and a bit surly through recovery. Andy didn’t want to see his best friend leave, and this affords them a chance to have some uninterrupted time together before the next phase of their lives begins. Andy’s known that Jake is bisexual, at the very least, for more than a year, and he doesn’t understand why Jake never told him. Doesn’t Jake trust him? Doesn’t Jake want him? Should Andy want Jake to want him? It’s a hornet’s nest of jealousy, in Andy’s mind.

As the days and weeks pass and the boredom sets in, Andy comes up with a new dare, one that will scratch his itch for Jake’s undivided attention: that they combine forces to get each other off. They have no other sexual outlet, and can’t use their own hands to do the deed, not with all the bandages in the way, but some careful positioning might just allow for physical release. Jake’s not down with it, though, because he’s already too in love with Andy, and doesn’t want his heart smashed just for some experimental fling. The thing is, Jake’s been well-trained to go along with Andy’s dares, and this time he’s going to get more than a rush out of it. They only have a handful of weeks left together. And they make the most of it…until the next dare: falling head over heels in love.

This is such a sweet friends-to-lovers story. They history is carefully added in a series of vignette flashbacks that really demonstrate the bond between Andy and Jake, a bond Andy didn’t recognize was love until he’d almost lost Jake, and himself, in his new and lonely future. Andy’s father is a stern taskmaster and Andy can’t see veering of the path they outlined years ago, when Andy was still just a teen. But he’s not happy, and he misses Jake terribly. Their summer of love ended too soon, and his heart can’t take the thought that Jake will move on without him. Andy hadn’t considered himself bisexual, at all, until their summer together, but he’s miserable when Jake moves on to his new job. Jake isn’t doing much better, even though he likes his job and reconnecting with his sister, with whom he now lives. That said, he’s moping over the separation, and had to cut all contact with Jake in order to heal his busted heart. Naturally another dare brings them back together–not a good one, actually, but the more they chat the more Andy recognizes the reason for all his dares, stemming for the very first one, was gaining Jake’s attention and admiration. From then it’s just some career-plan gymnastics to reunite this couple for real.

There’s so much tenderness on the page, and some really steamy bits, too. We get both Andy and Jake’s point of view, so we can see all the internal anguish they manage as their relationship morphs. It was cool how Andy reached out to his mom for help, and advice, and how their conversation allowed Andy to re-evaluate his life goals and tailor them to his current dreams. He’s always been super athletic, and the branch of law he’d initially chosen wasn’t suitable to his outgoing and active personality. Plus, what’s the point of playing it safe all the time? For a dare-master like Andy it’s go big, or go home. And he’s never just gone home. It’s probably why he and Jake fit so well; their mutual love of the thrills in life. It’s a happy ending all around.

Interested? You can find FIVE DARES on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes and Kobo. I read a review copy provided by NetGalley.

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 27 books since then. She hopes to write many more.

As an avid reader of such, she is tickled pink when an author manages to combine literary merit, vast stores of 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, two bulldogs, several cows, and a cat. All of them (except for the husband) are female, hence explaining the naked men that have taken up residence in her latest fiction writing.

Eli currently publishes with Dreamspinner Press and has a few self-pubbed titles as well. She also publishes thrillers under the pen name: Jane Jensen.

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

THanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!

Mission Possible: OPERATION GREEN CARD-Review and Giveaway!

Hi there! Today I’m sharing my review for a new contemporary M/M romance from GB Gordon. OPERATION GREEN CARD is a new book in the Bluewater Bay universe–which is loosely connected to the other books in the series (including WHEN TO HOLD THEM also by this author) but fully enjoyable as a standalone. I’ve loved other GB Gordon books, SANTUARIO and THE OTHER SIDE OF WINTER, so I was excited to read this one!

Check out my review below and head out to a pal’s blog to enter the $10 GC giveaway!
About the book:
Arkady Izmaylov is a family man. He’s also gay. In Russia. His sister Natalya has been telling him to get out for years, but it’s only after an attack in the street that he finally concedes and says yes to her desperate plan of him marrying a stranger for a green card.

Jason Cooley was taught from birth that he’s no good to anyone. Then the military taught him he was good enough to save other lives, but that purpose got amputated along with his leg. He’s now working security at Wolf’s Landing and sending monthly checks to his ex for their daughter’s education. When Natalya asks him to marry her brother, Jason knows right away he’ll do it more for the mission than the money she’s offering. But when he actually meets Arkady, his mission turns complicated.

Jason quickly discovers he’s not as straight as he thought. He’s also the man of Arkady’s dreams. Arkady must convince Jason that he’s worth loving, and that Arkady won’t disappear from his life like everyone else. Because Arkady has always wanted a family of his own, and he’s not letting go of this one.

My Review:
Jason Cooley is a war veteran and amputee. He lost his lower leg and foot in his last rescue mission as an Army Ranger. It crushed the fledgling sense of purpose he’d gained from joining the armed services, following in the footsteps of his grandfather, father and late mother–who was killed in action when Jason was two. His father had little to do with him from then on, and he was raised in the love-bereft home of his mother’s parents, who treated him as a burden. He joined up straight out of high school, and now works as a security guard on the set of Wolf’s Landing, a long-running TV show filmed in his home town of Bluewater Bay. He still lives in that childhood home, though his grandparents are gone, and it’s cramped and run-down. Jason has a five year old daughter, Lily, conceived literally on the eve of his deployment, with his high school bestie, but they were never truly romantically linked. She’s married and her hard-working husband has formally adopted Lily. Jason sends whatever money he can to support Lily, but he’s not really involved in her life; he’s sure that’s for the best. Only, even after working double shifts, and hardly spending any money on himself, Jason still can’t afford the gifted school Lily’s being recommended for enrollment.

Arkady is living on borrowed time. The situation in Russia is grave, with men accused of homosexuality being literally disappeared to prison or shallow graves. No matter how circumspect he is about his sexuality, he’s a target. He’s been attacked before, and saw his best friend murdered years ago for their “crime”. His sister, Natalya, has been trying to get him a job in security–or whatever–at Wolf’s Landing, but the work visa is not coming. Hearing that Jason needs money, Natalya proposes a solution that could benefit her beloved brother: green card marriage.

The idea seems preposterous on its face, but the more Jason ruminates, the more he envisions this scheme as a new mission in his life. He can pay for Lily’s school, and save Arkady from a death sentence. It appeals to his latent hero complex, and it’s not as if he’s never shared intimacy with a man; it was a down-low practice on some of his deployments. When he says he’s down, Arkady makes plans for a “trip” to visit Natalya. His whole family knows this is code for his defection. Arkady had thought he would never have a loving relationship or family, but coming to the States ignites these desires. He finds Jason incredibly attractive, and that feeling, well, it’s mutual. Jason is stunned at Arkady’s masculine beauty and his growing desire for his “roomie” is confusing. They have a real role to play in convincing all their witnesses that they are having a whirlwind romance, but neither of them expected to get so caught up in it themselves.

Jason’s frustrated that Arkady might not even care about him beyond getting his paperwork managed, and Arkady’s heart is so open to Jason that whenever he perceives Jason pulling back, it hurts, and hurts bad. They do find a way to become intimate, and again, the reality is far brighter than the fantasy—but it crashes and burns when they adhere to the idea that this is a temporary situation, to simply get Arkady’s permanent residency card. For both men, this relationship has become important, and breaking up is unthinkable, so they guard themselves against further vulnerability, until they can’t bear it any longer and the honesty bursts forth.

I loved the tenderness and commitment each man showed for each other’s well-being. It was so fun to watch this marriage of convenience to grow into a passionate romance. Arkady’s joy over building a real family, with Lily and her parents, is immeasurable. The HEA is fantastic! And yummy sexytimes as Jason and Arkady learn to share themselves more and more. Expect a wedding that’s somewhat bittersweet, and a love that is built to last.

Interested? You can find OPERATION GREEN CARD on Goodreads, Riptide Books, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Kobo. I received a review copy of this book via NetGalley.

****GIVEAWAY****

Go Over to my pals at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words to leave a comment and be entered to win a $10 Riptide book credit!
Good luck and thanks for popping in!

About the Author:
G.B. Gordon worked as a packer, landscaper, waiter, and coach before going back to school to major in linguistics and, at 35, switch to less backbreaking monetary pursuits like translating, editing, and writing. Having lived in various parts of the world, Gordon is now happily ensconced in suburban Ontario with the best of all husbands.

You can reach GB online here: website, Goodreads, Twitter and Facebook.

Heard Great Things! SMOKY MOUNTAIN DREAMS Audiobook review and Giveaway!

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for an audiobook written by Leta Blake and performed by John Solo. SMOKY MOUNTAIN DREAMS is a bittersweet heartbreak of a book, with a solid love story and intriguing plot. I enjoyed every minute of Mr. Solo’s rendering of this complicated love story. I’ve always loved Leta’s stories, because they feature hardships and big choices. Check out THE RIVER LEITH, WILL & PATRICK GET MARRIED, and PICTURES OF YOU for more hard-won love stories by Leta Blake.

Scroll down to catch my review and enter to win a backlist book from Leta Blake in the giveaway!
About the book:
After giving up on his career as a country singer in Nashville, Christopher Ryder is happy enough performing at the Smoky Mountain Dreams theme park in Tennessee. But while his beloved Gran loves him the way he is, Christopher feels painfully invisible to everyone else. Even when he’s center stage he aches for someone to see the real him.

Bisexual Jesse Birch has no room in his life for dating. Raising two kids and fighting with family after a tragic accident took his children’s mother, he doesn’t want more than an occasional hook-up. He sure as hell doesn’t want to fall hard for his favorite local singer, but when Christopher walks into his jewelry studio, Jesse hears a new song in his heart.

The audiobook is 14 hours and 47 minutes long. You can catch a snippet of it here:  SMD Sample from Leta Blake on Vimeo.

My Review:
Christopher Ryder is an out-gay country singer working at Smoky Mountain Dreams, a family-friendly resort in the Tennessee mountains. He’s happy there, but wishing he could find a forever man to share his life with, even though he knows this will cause strife with his family–dysfunctional as they are. Wanting to create a special Christmas gift for his beloved gran, he reaches out to Jesse Birch, a local jeweler who does custom work. Jesse is a sexy man, and Christopher is stunned to learn he’s an actual fan of Jesse’s performances. Christopher’s mostly the understudy to a regular at SMD, who also happens to be a solid drunk and often needs Christopher to stand in for him. Growing up making himself invisible to stay out of his zealot step-father’s ire, Christopher feels seen by Jesse and basks in his admiration.

Jesse is a hard-working father of two who is raising his kids with the help of his in-laws. His wife had a tragic car wreck several years ago and is in a chronic vegetative state. He’s wanted to pull the medical care for years, to let her go naturally, but her sister holds an old Power of Attorney papers and refuses to let her sister go. The legal battle was decided years ago, and mediation is going nowhere, so Jesse visits each week, dutifully, though their children haven’t seen her since the last brain scan showed no signs of activity.

Jesse’s more than attracted to Christopher; and that feeling is mutual. Learning that Jesse is bisexual turns Christopher on, and they begin a tentative courtship–not that it’s easy. Kids, in laws, and Jesse’s wife all make it complicated. But mostly it’s the kids. Jesse’s daughter, who’s 12 and awkward, is struggling with the idea that her dad could love anyone besides her mama, and has a creative plan to bring their family back together. Still, Christopher is patient, and Jesse is learning that loving someone is more than just caring for their physical needs. He recognizes the tremendous guilt he harbors for the way his marriage soured, and allows Christopher to be the bright spot in his rather bland life to this point.

These guys have a penchant for risky sex–mostly in places that are out in the open. That made for some fun and “better you than me” moments. There are also some really intense moments, like Christopher standing up to his bigoted relations and holding Jesse to task over not telling him the whole truth regarding his marriage–and how it’s not legally over… The audio is fantastic, and had me engaged throughout. I almost didn’t mind my commutes, knowing I’d spend more time with that textured voice relating Christopher and Jesse’s mutual heartbreaks and mutual passion. I cried, y’all! They go through a lot in the several months together, but the end is happy, and Christopher finds a loving home, with Jesse and his family, for the first time in his life.

Interested? You can find SMOKY MOUNTAIN DREAMS on Goodreads and Amazon (US or UK) or Audible (US or UK).

****GIVEAWAY****

Click on this Rafflecopter giveaway link for your chance to win a backlist book from Leta Blake.
Good luck and keep reading my friends!

About the Author:
Author of the best-selling book Smoky Mountain Dreams and the fan favorite Training Season, Leta Blake’s educational and professional background is in psychology and finance, respectively. However, her passion has always been for writing. She enjoys crafting romance stories and exploring the psyches of made up people. At home in the Southern U.S., Leta works hard at achieving balance between her day job, her writing, and her family.

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

Forbidden Fraternization in WHEELS UP-A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a new contemporary M/M military romance from Annabeth Albert. WHEELS UP is the fourth book in her Out of Uniform series that features romances for SEALS stationed in Coronado, California. Having read and loved OFF BASE, AT ATTENTION and ON POINT I couldn’t wait to sink my teeth into this new one–and what a bittersweet love story it was!

About the book:
Their love is forbidden, but their hearts aren’t listening to rules and regulations.
Lieutenant Dustin Strauss is a reformed man. No longer a twentysomething hell-raiser, he’s his SEAL team’s new XO-and a man with a secret. Or seven. He’s kept his bisexual identity under wraps for years, along with his kinky side and a fondness for the military-themed semianonymous hookup website Joe4Joe. His latest chat buddy is more than a sexy online distraction-they’re taking their very not-safe-for-work relationship into real time.

Petty Officer Wes Lowe has a smart mouth, a take-charge attitude and an uncanny ability for making things go boom. The life of an enlisted man isn’t always enough to satisfy him, but one wild, no-questions-asked weekend with his online love comes close. When a transfer order comes in, Wes feels ready and centered. He’ll make a good impression on his new SEAL team and keep his growing feelings for Dustin on the down low.

But as they log more time online and some very real emotions surface, Dustin and Wes struggle to pretend they’re just a harmless fling. And when his commander introduces Dustin to his team’s newest member, they’re in for the shock of a lifetime…and a crushing disappointment: their difference in ranks means even a friendship without sexual contact could end their navy careers for good.

With their hearts on the line, Dustin and Wes may not survive their next mission, let alone find a way toward a future together.

My Review:
Lieutenant Dustin Strauss has known for a long time that he’s attracted to men. He’s never been with a man, though he knows his family likely won’t be too upset if he were to come out–his younger brother Dylan is about to marry Dustin’s best friend Apollo–you may remember them from book two AT ATTENTION. Still, Dustin’s father has been fixated on Dustin marrying a woman and having kids, neither of which truly appeals. The idea of remaining a lone appeals even less–all his friends are coupled up and Dustin feels very much like a third wheel. Not only is he nervous about his sexuality, he’s ashamed that he’s really turned on by submission. Yet, he’s found a cyber pal via the Joe4Joe app that has filled his long lonely nights with exactly the kind of interactions that push his buttons.

They meet one night when Dustin is visiting the DC area. And it’s the best night of Dustin’s adult life. He and Wes really get along, and their sex is amazeballs–for each. Wes is especially adept at getting into Dustin’s headspace and working through his insecurities. Neither Wes nor Dustin has confided that they are SEALs, and they expect this is only one night. Until Petty Officer Wes Lowe is shipped out to Coronado to fill the demolitions expert position open on Dustin’s 16 man team, of which he’s the second in command.

Now, Wes is under Dustin’s direct command, and it’s wholly awkward. Not to mention completely prohibited. If anyone discovers that they’ve been intimate both Dustin and Wes could be subject to court martial.

They know this. And yet their connection is so strong, so necessary. Wes has a stressful life, constantly awaiting for bad news about his young sister’s failing heart. He’s plagued by insomnia, and finds comfort in his time with Dustin–virtual or in person. Wes is also the only person with whom Dustin can be his whole self, gay and kinky, and feel safe. No matter how many times they say they need to stop, they just can’t quit one another. And, they want more. They want the whole package of companionship and comfort–not just sex. It’s quite telling that neither of them really sought out partners before, and would remain celibate before looking for a suitable partner.

In the course of duty, Dustin and Wes both know their connection is too strong to be healthy, or safe. Dustin feels as if he’s constantly distracted, and this adds to his general dissatisfaction with his commission. He doesn’t get along with his commanding officer, and he’s less and less enthused with command. He’s got friends who’ve left the service, and are all the happier. Could he be? Would he and Wes be able to make a true life together if Dustin made this choice?

This was a really compassionate and bittersweet look into this complex world of military rules and regs. Both Dustin and Wes are great guys who want to be loved for who they are, and have the joy of open companionship. They have real struggles, and it’s heartbreaking to see them leave each other time and time again believing this is the “last time” or “never again.” I found myself wanting to yell at the book, tell the navy to make things better, dang it! And that was telling, for me, how very invested I got into these guys and their developing love story. The end is quiet, but lovely. No giant grand gestures here, because doing so could upset the very complex plan they have in place for eventual forever love. Their patience and understanding was enormous, and I found that to be engaging too. Likewise, their considerate treatment in the steamy bits–the vulnerability and the dirtiness were magic together, and I loved how in-tune both Dustin and Wes were with their needs, and those of the other. It’s a book I won’t soon forget.

Interested? You can find WHEELS UP on Goodreads and , Amazon, Audible, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, GooglePlay, 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.