Getting Even KARMA’S A BIT*H–Review and Giveaway

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a new New Adult M/M romance from Este Holland. KARMA’S A BIT*H a standalone romance for a soon-to-graduate computer science major and a professional karma dispenser.

Scroll down to catch an excerpt and enter to win a copy of KARM’S A BIT*H.
About the book:
Karma’s only a bitch if you’re bad.
Jake Michelson plays it safe. All he wants to do is keep a roof over his head and graduate from NYU in a few months. He can count on three things in life: his job at Dinkin’s Donuts, his best friend Marri, and school.

Archer Ferraro plays by his own rules. The one thing he can’t stand is when bad people get away with doing bad things. He’s dedicated his life to righting the wrongs the police can’t or won’t handle.

When Archer accidentally upsets Jake’s life, he vows to make it right and hires him.

Together, Jake and Archer must work on a new case involving stolen jewelry and a womanizer, deal with a lawyer brother and a jailbird father, and stay out of the cops’ way.

Should be easy…right?

How about a yummy taste?

“Hey!” Everyone stopped to gawk at the smallish, drunk man with his glasses askew. Jake struggled from my hold and staggered off his stool. “What the hell do you think you’re doing?” He took a few steps toward the asshole cowboy. “We’re having a good time. You can’t ruin our fun with your stooopid face.” Jake hauled back and punched him.

“Shit!” I lunged and grabbed Jake around the middle, pulling him away before the cowboy retaliated.

The cowboys surged forward, but a piercing whistle ripped through the air and everyone froze. Titus crooked a finger at one of his friends, a guy as big as himself, and pointed at Jake who was once again asleep in my arms.

The biker smiled, revealing a gold tooth. I returned it with an aborted one of my own. He slid his arm under Jake’s knees, then wiggled his other arm between us. I held his head as the guy lifted Jake like a child. I grabbed Marri’s hand before she could attack, and I hurried after the dude. He entered a door behind the bar and deposited Jake on a sofa.

“Thanks, man,” I said.

“No problem.” He slapped my shoulders and my knees almost buckled.

Breaking glass and shouts came from the bar, and I winced.

A chuckle rumbled in his chest like one their motorcycles kicking on. “Don’t worry. This happens at least once a month.”

“Seriously?”

“Titus doesn’t like homophobes, racists, or conservatives.” He grinned and headed out the door.

Marri and I exchanged glances.

“Are your friends okay?”

“They left. That’s what I was coming to tell you guys.” Marri peeked out at the bar and shut the door fast as glass shattered.

“Shit. Does it lock?”

She pushed the little button in the knob, and I laughed.

My Review:
Jake Michaelson has put himself through college on a combination of scholarships and hard work. His dad is a gambling addict, currently serving time for embezzlement, it’s a sore point that Jake’s dad won’t let him come visit–this is his only family in the whole world. Jake’s months from graduating into the lucrative computer science field, but he’s got to make ends meet first. This becomes more difficult when he loses his donut shop job after selling a sexy stranger a bucket of oil. That stranger, Archer, used it to douse the inside of another man’s prized Camaro.

Archer Ferraro is a one-man karma machine. For a fee, he will bring justice to perpetrators the law doesn’t touch. Like Camaro guy–who beat up his former boyfriend (Archer’s client) but kept sliding away from arrest. Sometimes his fees are a lot, sometimes not–Archer just wants to deliver peace to people who felt violated. And, when he learns that his shenanigan of dumping a 5-gallon pail of oil all over his mark’s prized possession cost Jake his job, Archer wants to make that right, too. And he does so by offering Jake a job researching his clients and the marks for karma delivery. Archer wants to make sure the punishments suit the situation–and that his clients are truly deserving of his assistance.

Jake isn’t sure about this opportunity. Money is great, but he knows how quickly a person can be scooped off to prison. He’s not willing to become a super hacker, and destroy lives, but Archer’s enterprise seems…necessary, and helpful to his clients. Through the bits of vengeance Archer manages those folks gain closure, something that Jake deems admirable. And well, Archer and Jake have a mutual appreciation society growing between them. It’s hard for these young virile men to keep their hands off one another. So, they don’t.

Well, the don’t get busy *right* away, but it’s not too long, either. They meet in January and there is both sex and love by Valentines. It’s a funny and quirky story, with alternating points of view. Jake is nervous that Archer will be upset about his dad, but they cross that bridge with hardly a ripple. And Archer’s so gone over Jake he inadvertently plans to introduce Jake to his mom and nonna within days of their sexytimes. And, the family reunions don’t end there. I though the romance moved a little fast, and I also struggled with how quickly Archer unmasks himself–as a vigilante for hire. He’d kept his anonymity for years, but within the course of a couple weeks of meeting Jake there are like seven new people who know his private business. So much so that one of his mark’s starts stalking and messing with him. That made me pull back a bit, since it seemed like such an inconsistency.

If you like odd couples, and new adult romance with a side of vigilantism, this might be a good pick up for you.

Interested? You can find KARMA’S A BIT*H on Goodreads and Amazon.

****GIVEAWAY****

Click on this Rafflecopter giveaway link for your chance to win an ebook copy of KARMA’S A BIT*H.
Good luck and keep reading my friends!

About the Author:
Este Holland is a writer and reader of all things Romance. She’s also a treasure hunter, a word wizard, a lover, and a fighter. She was born and raised in WV, and now lives in Virginia. She works in marketing during the day. She began writing novels in 2012.

You can reach out to Este on her website, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Instagram.

Taking a Chance on THE CUPID CRAWL–Review and Giveaway

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a M/M romance from Hank Edwards. THE CUPID CRAWL is a book set in the Williamsville Inn universe, so if you’ve read previous stories, it’s be a nice addition. It’s fine to read as a standalone, however, and totally fits with my odd-couple theme this week. I’ve read and reviewed some of the Critter Catchers M/M paranormal romance/horror books in the past. You can check out my thoughts on HORROR AT HIDEAWAY COVE and DREAD OF NIGHT if those titles get your engine running.

Scroll down to catch an excerpt and enter to win an ebook of SNOWFLAKES AND SONG LYRICS.
About the book:
What happens when a confirmed hook-up app user falls for a man who is his polar opposite?

Carter Walsh will be alone on Valentine’s Day, and his plans include a candy sampler of hook ups.

But after learning about the Cupid Crawl—a bar crawl covering a half dozen bars, gay and straight—he changes his plans.

During the crawl, he runs into:
An ex-co-worker nemesis who resurrects—loudly—an unfortunate nickname she bestowed upon him years before.
Several hot men eager for a quick hook up.
And one man absolutely not Carter’s type, but who manages to pique his interest and, possibly, steal his heart.

The Cupid Crawl is a funny, sweet, and steamy opposites attract, slight age gap story that takes place in the Williamsville Inn series world, and features characters from the Christmas stories Snowflakes and Song Lyrics by Hank Edwards and Snowstorms and Second Chances by Brigham Vaughn.

How about a yummy taste?

The organizer, Vic, led the way, squeezing past the men and women standing in the doorway and forging a path for Carter to follow. At first, Carter thought he was way overdressed. The men he slid past were shirtless, some wearing just white loin cloths or even cloth diapers along with feathered wings strapped around their broad chests. These men gave him a brief glance, maybe a quick smile, but were busy talking to each other or women who were also baring a lot of skin. Didn’t these people realize it was February in Boston?

When he reached the bar, Carter was relieved to see people wearing shirts and pants instead of just diapers and short shorts. Vic leaned in over the bar and said to the bartender, “Don, this is my good friend, Carter. Put his first two drinks on my tab.”

“Oh, you don’t have to do that,” Carter insisted. “I have money.”

“Happy Valentine’s Day, Carter,” Vic said. “The first two drinks are on me to help you relax. I’m going to make a round of the bar, but when I return, I hope to find you talking with someone, and not just leaning on the bar all alone.”

“I know how to socialize,” Carter said.

“Oh, I’m sure you do.”

Vic winked again before threading his way through the crowd, greeting people as he slid past them. Carter ordered a beer from Don, and then fished a couple of singles out of his wallet for a tip. He lifted his bottle to salute Don and had just taken a swig when a piercingly high voice shrieked from just behind him. The sound startled him so much he choked on his beer and started to cough. He turned, coughing and sputtering, and squinted through his tears at the woman standing behind him.

Auburn hair done up tall, bright green eyes that could be nothing other than colored contact lenses, a pert, upturned nose, and a broad mouth filled with teeth laser-whitened to solar flare level.

Carter’s heart stuttered with surprise and dread as he struggled to clear his airway.

“I saw you walk in and had to come over and see if it was really you!” she exclaimed.

With a final clearing of his throat, Carter managed a smile and said, “Lizzie. Hello! What a treat to see you.”

Lizzie’s smile widened even further and she crossed her arms. It was then Carter noticed she wore what looked like a sports bra with a pair of white wings strapped to her shoulders, and a sheer white shift around her waist that showed off a pair of black panties trimmed with lace.

“As I live and breathe,” Lizzie said with a shake of her head. “Carter the Farter.”

My Review:
Carter is an out-gay man who’s pining just a bit for a steady guy. Approaching thirty, he’s had plenty of fun with hook-up apps but his bestie Will has recently gotten married to a sexy out singer, Rex, and their goo-goo eyes are causing Carter to lament his no-strings life.

He’s expecting to spend his first Valentine’s alone in a long time. Carter and Will usually went out together to get some drinks and keep one another company, but Will is out of town with Rex this year. So, instead of going out alone, Carter plans to make a 3-day weekend of Grindr hookups. He’s all set until his very married and harried co-worker talks up an event she used to attend as a single: The Cupid Crawl. It’s a bar crawl of some Boston spots–straight and gay-friendly–with giveaways and the opportunity to meet like-minded singles. Carter isn’t really feeling it, but when he awakens on Valentine’s Day he learns that most of his go-to Grindr pals are otherwise occupied. Out of sheer loneliness Carter opts to join the Cupid Crawl.

And, boy is he regretting it. He runs into an old co-worker, Lizzie, who dubbed him “Carter the Farter” years ago, and she’s pretty much drunk and obnoxiously shouting this all around the bar. Humiliated from the start, Carter isn’t in a mood to make nice with Lizzie’s “keeper,” an unstylish, platonic friend called Harry. Turns out Harry (and his waxed porn-mustache) is pansexual, and a decent guy. Carter’s not a fan, at first, even as friendly and engaging as Harry is. Carter has an acerbic humor and Harry gives him a lot of challenging chat, when Carter isn’t hopping on Grindr and hooking up with dudes on the crawl.

This book didn’t read as romantic, at first. Carter’s really a bit self-centered, and he’s so used to getting his sex-fix without it meaning much more than mutual release. Harry is SO not his usual guy, what with his middle-part hair and barely-trying t-shirt, but the more that Carter finds vapid men, or selfish hook-ups, the more he begins to appreciate the real-talk he gets from Harry. And, it’s clear that others are seeing how Harry is into Carter–more so than Carter does, in any case.

Carter wants to ditch this whole nightmare, especially once he’s humiliated and left hanging by a couple of hook-ups. Will chats to him via FaceTime, trying to keep his spirits up, and Vic, the crawl organizer, is promising awesome raffle prizes the longer Carter stays. Carter keeps believing his hype, that he and Harry can’t be suited for one another, and he even tells another guy to go for Harry. Much to his regret. Lonely of his own making, Carter FINALLY gets the idea that he’s letting a good man walk off for superficial reasons, perhaps because he’s a bit commitment-challenged from a bad relationship some years before. It’s a Cupid miracle that Carter makes the right moves before the end of the crawl. Still, there’s conflict. Much like the time-honored story, this Cinderfella doesn’t know how to contact his possible prince once the night comes to an abrupt end.

It’s a fun ending, with Grindr “coming” to the rescue. And, plenty of cameos from other Williamsville heroes. Again, totally fine to read this as a standalone. Carter begins being judgey and not super-likable, even as we can empathize with his loneliness. His antics on the Crawl are funny and cringey, and he gains some sympathy points just for his erotic misfortunes. It’s clear that Carter has self-esteem issues, and it was good to see him grow past that a bit on that crawl. The juxtaposition of meaningless hookups with passionate kissing (and later lovemaking) really drove the romance arc forward in the second half of the book. I was definitely rooting for Carter to get his head screwed on correctly and accept the interest and affection of a good man–even if he didn’t tick off all the attraction markers on the first meeting. His attraction for Harry wasn’t instant, but it grew and grew with each connection. I liked Carter a LOT more in the end, when he finally let down his guard and started honestly examining his life choices. There is totally a happy ending waiting, as well as awesome reconnections with other characters from the series for readers who’ve been following along with the previous books.

Interested? You can find THE CUPID CRAWL on Goodreads and Amazon.

****GIVEAWAY****

Click on this Rafflecopter giveaway link for your chance to win an ebook of SNOWFLAKES AND SONG LYRICS–the previous book in this series.
Good luck and keep reading my friends!

About the Author:
Hank Edwards (he/him) has been writing gay fiction for more than twenty years. He has published over thirty novels and dozens of short stories. His books fall into many sub-genres, including romance, rom-com, contemporary, paranormal, suspense, mystery, and wacky comedy. He has written a number of series such as the suspenseful Up to Trouble, funny and spooky paranormal out for you gay romance Critter Catchers, Old West historical horror of Venom Valley, the erotic and funny Fluffers, Inc. series, and the funny and thrilling Lacetown Murder Mysteries series co-written with Deanna Wadsworth. No matter what genre he writes, Hank likes to keep things sweet, steamy, and fun. He was born and still lives in a northwest suburb of the Motor City, Detroit, Michigan, where he shares a home with his partner of over 20 years and their two cats.

You can reach out to Hank on his website, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Instagram.

New Love and Life OUT IN SPRING–Review and Giveaway

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a new New Adult M/M romance from Lane Hayes. OUT IN SPRING is the sixth book in her Out in College series, and features a college hockey player grabbing the courage to meet and romance the nerdy-bookish man he’s crushed on for four years. Catch my reviews for OUT IN THE DEEP END, OUT IN THE END ZONE, OUT IN THE OFFENSE, and OUT ON THE ICE for more on this sweet and sexy series.

Scroll down to catch an excerpt and enter to win a $25 Amazon gift card.
About the book:
The jock, the nerd, and a little spring fever…
Ned
I don’t understand hockey at all. Or any sport. Attending a team party with my best friend might be a mistake. As an out and proud geek, I admit that hanging out with a bunch of jocks and their admirers isn’t my idea of fun, but getting kidnapped by a sexy hockey player who claims to have a crush on me is definitely a highlight. And finding out that Logan St. James is bisexual makes everything more interesting.

Logan
Keeping my big bi secret hasn’t been easy. I have a couple of months of college left and one more game to play. I’m determined to make the most of it and spend as much time as possible with the sexy guy I’ve had a crush on since freshman year. I don’t want this to be over. There must be a way to come out in spring.

Out in Spring is a low-angst MM, bisexual awakening staring a hunky hockey player, a sweet-natured geek, and a little college fun. This story is part of the Out in College series, but each book can be read as a stand-alone.

How about a yummy taste?

“Let’s see how many times we can go across the monkey bars without stopping. In other words, go to the slide and back until your arms give up on you. Winner chooses the next contest and—”

“Hold on. That’s not fair. We both know you’re going to win.”

“Yeah, that’s true. I’ll collect the first prize. Something easy…like you have to answer a truth or dare question. Ready?”

“No, you already owe me, remember?”

I did a quick trip across the bars, then dropped to my feet and brushed my hands off. “You’re right. What would you like?”

“Uh…I don’t know.”

“Come on. Think of something. It has to be reasonable, though. I don’t have a million bucks or a year’s supply of M&M’s in my truck,” I warned.

Ned lifted a brow. “Really? You have T-shirts and sweatshirts. Why don’t you have M&M’s?”

“That’s a genius question. I need to fix that ASAP. Truth is, I live out of my truck. Not literally, but I’ve got a lot of necessities…shoes, socks, water, a first aid kit, lube, a box of condoms.”

He wrapped his arms around himself and shivered. “How about a blanket?”

“Yep. Wait here. And watch out for fairies.”

I ran to my SUV, pulled a wool plaid blanket from the trunk, and hurried to find Ned sitting on the pirate ship with his legs dangling off the edge. I climbed the short set of stairs and draped the blanket over his shoulders.

“Thank you.”

“You’re welcome. Cozy up, ’cause this could take a while.” I flexed my knuckles and started to reach for the first bar, but paused instead. “Or do you want to go first?”

“No, thanks. I’m not good at anything that requires coordination. And those bars are germy. I have Purell in my pocket, but when I fall—”

“I’ll catch you,” I intercepted. “YOLO, Nedster. I don’t want to go back to that party, and I don’t really want to go home. And you don’t either.”

“I don’t?”

“Nope. You’d rather hang out with me.” I waggled my brows comically.

I jumped from the pirate ship before he could argue, then pointed at the bar above me and motioned for him to get moving.

“What about the blanket?” He chuckled when I rolled my eyes. “Okay, fine. But I want to change the rules. If I get to the other side without falling, I should get another prize.”

“Another one? That seems kinda greedy, but all right,” I teased, crooking my forefinger.

“Here goes nothing.” Ned sighed as he stood, glancing from the row of bars to me and back again. He clutched the first one with both hands…and immediately fell.

I caught him around his waist and held him closer than necessary, so he brushed my chest before his feet hit the ground. I didn’t let him go. I stared at his mouth and licked my lips. “It’s okay. Try it again.”

“Um…all right.” Ned let out a nervous chuckle as he set one hand on my shoulder and the other on the bar.

I let go when he gripped both hands around one bar, then reached for the next. And the next. At the halfway mark I cheered him on with a loud whoop, pumping my fist in the air and counting down the bars left. Five, four, three, two…

He dropped like a lead balloon…and sure, I caught him again. But let’s get something straight. Ned wasn’t a small person. Sure, he was on the skinny side, but he was at least six feet tall. I didn’t exactly “catch” him. It was more a matter of pulling him against me and holding on. I fully admit that my maneuver was premeditated. But my goofy, off-the-cuff quest to steal a few more minutes with my crush backfired big time. I didn’t count on my body’s reaction.

I swallowed hard and brushed my sleeve over my nose. “Maybe we should, um…”

He nodded, but he didn’t move. And neither did I.

My Review:
Logan St. James is a college senior on the hockey team at Long Beach State. He’s bisexual, and open about it with his accepting family, but he’s mostly only dated women at school. He’s had a crush on a fellow student he caught sight of way back in freshman year, Ned Bailey. Logan notices the studious boy at freshman orientation, and has noticed him many times over the years–most recently when Ned got his book order together for this final semester. Logan’s last “girlfriend” Kelly was way more serious than he was–thinking they were headed for marriage after college, even getting her father to offer Logan a job, but

Logan is pretty blase about it all. He doesn’t want a job with strings, and he’s not really sure what he wants to do with his communications degree. Or his future. Which is rather unsettling to Ned, who is hyperfocused on his future as an engineer. Also, it’s odd for Ned, who sees himself as a thin, nerdy guy, to find himself attractive to a strong, athletic, attractive partner.

What was a chance encounter at a hockey team party–where Ned got dragged by his BFF who’s a hockey groupie–turns into an odd-couple romance. This is complicated by Logan wanting to keep everything on the down-low because he doesn’t want to rock the boat before his charity game in May. Also, Kelly’s still avidly pursuing Logan, and occassionaly making a nuisance of herself. That’s a drag for both Logan and Ned–Ned because he doesn’t want to out Logan. And the pressure is kind of getting to Ned, in truth. He’s worked up about getting a good position at a firm, and his falling for Logan is becoming a complication. He shouldn’t really base his job choice on whether he’d be able to see Logan, right?

This novella is a quick peek into love for Logan, who’s coming out in the spring. He’s been hesitant to do it, but now that he and Ned are going strong, he’s ready to take that step. It’s so sweet seeing Logan fall hard for his crush, and introduce Ned to the important people in his life. My biggest complaint was I wanted more! I just adore these stories and I would have enjoyed seeing Ned and Logan in their growth toward coupledom. There’s some steamy sexytimes, a little pondering about the future, and a happy ending. Pretty much just enough to keep you entertained on a rainy afternoon.

Interested? You can find OUT IN SPRING on Goodreads and Amazon.

****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.

Inexplicably Bound by DRAGON MAGIC-A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a Throwback Thursday review for a M/M/M menage fantasy adventure/romance from Megan Derr. DRAGON MAGIC feature for unlikely heroes on a quest to save their land from a demon.

About the book:
Four strangers. A shared moment long forgotten. A bond forged in desperation.

On the first day of the Festival of Counting, the beginning of the royal census that takes place every ten years, the royal city is filled to overflowing. Everyone is happy, excited, and proud to be counted amongst those who live in the glorious kingdom of Orhanis.

Then a demon strikes, killing thousands in mere seconds and leveling the city. As the royal castle burns, only four men remain to drive the demon away—and in their desperation, accidentally bind themselves together in a legendary Oath, unable to part ways until they find and kill the demon once and for all.

Mahzan, the King’s Jester, an orphan who clawed his way to the top and hides a fearsome magic… Sule, the notorious North Captain, who sacrificed everything to live as a strong, capable, highly respected man… Cemal, a priest who traveled the continent bent on revenge and now lives lost… and Binhadi, the mercurial shadow mage with a dark history and bloody ties to the throne…

Four men used to standing apart, standing alone, who must learn to stand together if they hope to save themselves and all of Orhanis.

My Review:
I enjoyed this tale of four men and the magic that binds them together. Orhanis is a land of magic, though not everyone embraces it. We begin with the Counting, a time of census for the citizens, and people crowding to the city where Mahzan, one of the king’s jesters is entertaining the masses. He’s a cunning man with hidden magic, and the ability to soothe the tempers of many. He notices key members of the crowd, including Sule–the Captain of the North Guard, Cemal, a jokey priest, and Binhadi, last of the shadow mages in his family. Each of these men holds magic–secretly in the case of all but Binhadi.

It’s not long before a fearmonger (an ancient demon) turns up and kills…most everyone in the king’s hall and throughout the castle and royal city. The jester, the captain, the priest and the mage are spared by linking their magic talents, and sending the fearmonger into temporary retreat. This inadvertently binds the four into a magical oath. Over time, they discover the extent of their bond, which binds and magnifies their powers until they face and defeat the fearmonger. And, thus begins the quest.

Their travels and trials bind them ever closer, bending their partnership into physical companionship. The menage, when it comes to be, is well-developed from mutual hardships and intimacy shared. Mahzan leads the pack here, happy for companionship wherever he can find it. Sule, due to internalized transphobia from his family, is a little more reticent. They travel the country of Orhanis trying to discover the origin of the fearmonger, and uncovering the violent history of their nation and the current rulers.

Their suspicions and struggles are magnified through a mental link, part of the growing bond. This allowed each man to truly see the heart of the others, and make a real effort to support one antoher. When their battle with the fearmonger comes, they are ready to sacrifice all–and create the most fearsome magic their world has ever seen. Treachery has infiltrated Orhanis, however, and the Epilogue set into the distant future gives the reader insight into the effects of the battle. A few reviewers were frustrated about this POV switch, but for me it confirmed the evil festering in Orhanis was still present, and there was a plan to eradicate it once and for all. I enjoyed this adventure. There were issues with pacing, at times, and the many POVs was a tiny challenge, but I felt the creativity of the quest and the deep characterization outweighed the flaws in editing.

Interested? You can find DRAGON MAGIC on Goodreads, Less Than Three Press, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Apple Books. I received a review copy of this book via NetGalley.

About the Author:
Megan is a long time resident of m/m fiction, and keeps herself busy reading, writing, and publishing it. She is often accused of fluff and nonsense. When she’s not involved in writing, she likes to cook, harass her cats, or watch movies (especially all things James Bond). She loves to hear from readers, and can be found all around the internet.

Check out Megan’s website, blog, twitter and Tumblr.

Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends!

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.

Giving him WHAT HE REALLY NEEDS–Review and Giveaway!

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review and giveaway for a M/M contemporary romance from life- and wiritng partners Ryan Taylor and Joshua Harwood. WHAT HE REALLY NEEDS features two old school friends reconnecting–and finding unexpected love amid a contentious lawsuit.

About the book:
Cayo Suárez, who is gay, and Ben Roth, an admitted Oblivious Straight Guy, were roommates in law school, but two years after graduating, they have lost touch. After an accidental meeting, Cayo invites Ben to stay with him while Ben looks for his own apartment. There’s only one complication, but it’s a big one—Cayo has been in love with Ben since they met.

What begins as a heartwarming reunion of old friends heats up quickly, and Ben starts to wonder if he’s as straight as he always thought he was. Cayo and Ben reconnect in a most unexpected way, but their jobs complicate things. Cayo works for low-income people at Legal Assistance, and Ben works for the man.

When Ben and Cayo become involved in a controversial case, powerful people with a lot to lose seize control of the situation. They want to bend the case’s outcome to their own nefarious ends, and they’ll destroy anyone who tries to stand up to them. Will Cayo and Ben find a way to save Ben’s career, and their budding relationship, before it’s too late?

What He Really Needs is an action-packed book full of warmth and humor, a first-time bisexual awakening, a healthy dose of suspense, steamy sexy times, and an extraordinary happy ending.

How about a taste?

The sticky air was thick with the ripe smell of horny men. Johnny’s was the big gay sports bar in town, and on Saturday nights there was always a kickass drag show. At two in the morning, the drag queens had come and gone, and I lost myself in music loud enough to rattle my teeth. It was that time of night when everybody was dancing together, and all eyes were on the lookout for an interested man.

I turned around, and just as I noticed a cute blond twink giving me the once-over, I saw him. A dozen yards in front of me was the man I’d moved to DC to get away from. I’d know him anywhere. Dripping with sweat and obviously a couple of sheets to the wind, Ben Roth was dancing his ass off.

You’re out of your mind. That last vodka tonic was one too many.

The flashing lights made it hard to see, so I started moving in his direction. Since Johnny’s was packed, crossing the busy dance floor wasn’t the easiest thing in the world. I sneaked under and around gyrating bodies, and slid between a few couples who were eye fucking each other for all they were worth. Soon, I was next to him, and there was no doubt. None other than Ben Roth was in one of the most popular gay nightspots in the District.

Eyes closed, head thrown back, he seemed oblivious to the madness around him. He still looked like a cross between a teen heartthrob and Prince Charming, with his wavy brown hair and boyishly handsome face. Broad shoulders, muscular pecs, and a trim waist were tantalizing under the damp T-shirt that clung to his torso.

He must have sensed someone watching him. Opening his eyes, he scanned the room and slowly turned his head to the side, toward me. His gaze, loosened by too much alcohol, immediately sharpened as he shook his head and blinked his brilliant amber eyes. He curled his lips into the smile that had launched a thousand ships—as well as countless jack-off fantasies—and he jumped at me.

“Cayo?” He engulfed me in a bear hug. Lime and honey tickled my nostrils, immediately followed by the unmistakable scent of Ben’s spicy musk. For the three years we had lived together, that peppery, mossy smell gave me a semi every time he came home from a run.

I wrapped my arms around him and reveled in the way his toned muscles resisted my squeeze. He pulled me closer, and I felt safe for the first time in who knew how long. I’d honestly thought I would never see him again. Just as his spicy-sweaty essence began to make me feel giddy, I—

Started getting hard! Shit! After the way things ended, the last thing I needed was for him to get the idea that he was giving me an erection. Which he wasn’t, of course. It was the excitement of seeing him again, the air in the club being so laden with testosterone, the feel of another man’s arms around me when I’d come here knowing I needed a good fuck. It certainly had nothing to do with—

Alarm! Get loose before he notices your cock poking into his leg! I braced my hands against his chest and pushed, successfully extricating myself from his grip. “Ben! What the hell are you doing here?”

Confusion and something else—panic?—flashed across his face as he swiped at the moisture on his forehead. He moved his hand to his throat and tugged at the collar of his T-shirt while his eyes darted around. “Let’s go outside. It’s hard to talk in here.”

Without waiting for me to respond, he took my hand and led us off the dance floor. It was slow going, but I was so distracted that I hardly noticed. Ben is in DC? In a gay club? As I tried to process that, it occurred to me that he had my hand and was leading me toward the exit of said gay club. His own hand was warm, and the calluses from his workouts were frighteningly sensual against my skin. I used to hope I might get to suck those long, supple fingers one day. Actually, his fingers weren’t the only thing I’d wanted to suck. I remembered—

“There, that’s better!” Ben turned, glancing to the side as he took a deep breath.

It was ridiculously hot and humid outside for two o’clock in the morning, but the fresh air was a definite improvement over the sweltering heat inside the club. Better still was that the insanely loud music had receded into a dull thud. Ben trained his amber eyes on me but didn’t let go. I shouldn’t have glanced down, because as soon as I did, he dropped my hand like it was on fire.

“I’m surprised to see you here,” I managed to say, a little breathlessly, barely resisting the urge to touch my hand to my face. “You’re in town?” Kill me now.

He snickered. “Your astute powers of observation haven’t failed you, I see.” Ben had this low voice that had always gotten me going, and it did nothing to deflate the hard-on that had started when he hugged me, and which hadn’t flagged in the least.

I had difficulty forming words. My lips moved but nothing came out, and an eternity passed before I was able to say anything. “Why are you here, Ben?”

He shrugged, as if what he was about to say was of no importance at all. “I live here now.”

The implications of that were too much to consider right then, so I decided to start with the question that buzzed around my brain like a plane caught in a thunderstorm, the question I had to have an answer to right this minute. “At Johnny’s? You live at Johnny’s?”

It wasn’t exactly the sentence I’d wanted to put together, but it seemed to telegraph my concern to Ben. He shuffled back and forth on his feet for a moment before he met my eyes. “Let’s go get coffee. We need to talk.”

Still struggling to come to terms with the reality that Ben Roth was standing next to me, I was slow to respond.

“Or maybe not? Are you with someone?”

With someone? Did he mean at Johnny’s with someone, or in a relationship with someone? Stop overthinking things—the answer’s the same either way. “No, I’m not with anyone.” I nodded toward Vermont Avenue. “There’s a late-night diner down the street. We can walk there.”

Over Easy was crowded, not unusual for a weekend night. A lot of the men who hadn’t found love at Johnny’s had moved the party down here, and the debriefing was in full swing. The pink plastic booths were all occupied, most of the tables were taken, and people were milling around everywhere, a few of them still in drag.

Despite the rowdy throng, we were seated at a table right away. Ordinarily, I’d have resented the claustrophobic location—in a corner in the back, between a supply closet and a wall—but the privacy would be good tonight. Ben and I were apparently going to have a conversation I’d avoided for two years.

After we ordered coffee, he passed some time drumming his fingertips against the tabletop. I stayed quiet. Acting like a bastard wasn’t my style, but I wasn’t going to make things too easy for him. After all, the last time we’d been together, he sure hadn’t made things easy for me.

The waitress brought our drinks, and Ben finally looked at me when she left. “So, Cayo…?”

Really? That’s all you’ve got? “Still my name.” I took a sip of coffee. “So, Ben…?”

“It’s not what you’re thinking.” He glanced between me and the tabletop, and kept reaching up to scratch his cheek.

I forced my lips into a smile. “You’re going to dig a hole in your face, if you don’t stop that.”

“What?” He jumped, almost like he’d forgotten I was there, before he met my eyes. “Oh, sorry.” His little snicker sounded as sweet as ever. “You always used to tell me that.”

“It’s good to see you, Ben. What’s going on? You said you live here now?”

He put both hands on the table, palms down. “I’m sorry, Cayo. Like really, really sorry.”

The din from Over Easy’s drunk and disappointed customers closed in on us while I decided what to say. I kept my gaze on Ben but had to focus on his forehead because his eyes were too dangerous. “You are?” Memories washed over me—it had been raining in Durham, the day after we graduated from law school—and I couldn’t breathe for a few seconds. “Sorry for what, exactly?”

He made a humming noise while he shook his head. His eyes got shiny, and since I knew that, I was obviously looking at them now.

“For everything.” His voice was lower than usual, and it had a quake I’d never heard before. “For being an absolute bastard to my best buddy. For being a total jerk, somebody you know isn’t me and never was.”

The emotion on his face surprised me. “Tu campo? Is that what I was? Your best buddy?”

It was perhaps the tiniest scoff in the history of the world, but I heard it. “Well, yeah. How can you even ask that?”

Because even now, I want what we had to have been more. Maybe I still believe it was more.

“Why did you act like that, Ben? Treat me like that? It fucking hurt, worse than you’ll ever know.”

“I was….” He cleared his throat and took a sip of coffee. “I don’t know. You shocked me. It had only been a year since Amy left, and I…. You and I were….”

My stomach clenched into a painful knot, and I decided that perhaps I wasn’t ready for this conversation, after all. “You said you live here now? You mean in DC?”

He opened his mouth and tried to say something. When that failed, he took a deep breath. “I tried to call you so many times. Sent you dozens of emails and texts, kept it up for a year.”

“You did?”

He flattened his lips into a small frown. “Come on, man. You never blocked me. The phone would ring and ring before it went to voicemail.”

At least I knew you were thinking about me. I stared at his forehead again. “I wasn’t ready to talk to you, Ben.”

He gave a small nod. “Fair enough. I left you alone for a while, but last Christmas something woke me up, and I’ve wanted to talk to you so much since then.” He set his coffee down and leaned over the table. “I’ve almost called you so many times. I decided last week to get in touch as soon as I got to DC, which was only this morning, actually. I was going to find you, Cayo.”

“Well, you found me, so talk.”

He sat back in his chair and put out his hands. “I panicked. I don’t really understand why. You know I don’t have any issues with gay people. My brother’s gay, for God’s sake.”

“I know, but you still—”

In a flash, he reached across the table and grabbed my hand, words rushing out of him in a torrent of emotion. “I love you, Cayo.” He opened his eyes wide but didn’t slow down. “I mean, not like that, but you were my best friend. We always had so much fun together, were there for each other in so many ways. When Amy left, I was so broken and needy, and you got me through it. I started depending on you, way more than I had any right to. I—” He caught himself and lowered his head, though he kept my hand.

It must have been about sixty degrees in the overcooled restaurant, but a bead of sweat rolled down the back of my neck. “You what?” He remained quiet, and I squeezed his hand. He still didn’t move. “Look at me, Ben.”

Slowly, he raised his head.

“You were saying…?” I prompted.

He exhaled, puffing out his cheeks and lips. “I’m not going to deny it. I felt things, about you. I got confused, and it weirded me out.”

I cocked my head, needing to be sure I understood him correctly. “You felt what about me?”

“I wanted you!” His voice was loud, and he brought it back down. “I wanted you in bed, but it wouldn’t have been right. I would’ve just been projecting feelings onto you because I didn’t have a girlfriend. You deserved more.”

I squeezed his hand again. “Go on. Please.”

His eyes, already bright, grew wet. “You were family to me for three years, all through law school. We shared so much, Cay. Remember how we used to talk all night long? I never pulled an all-nighter studying, but who knows how many all-nighters we pulled hanging out, talking about anything and everything?” He smiled. “We had such great times. All those road trips—going to ride roller coasters around the country, visit places neither of us had ever been. If we thought a game might be good, we’d just jump in the car and go see it. Didn’t matter where it was.” He chuckled. “I wore out a car in law school having the time of my life with you.”

His voice choked, and he struggled for control before he went on. “You were the best friend I could ever imagine. When I started having all those crazy thoughts, I was barely able to manage them. Then, when you told me you’d been in love with me all along, when you kissed me, I panicked. You needed somebody who could offer you a future, and since I’m not gay, that wasn’t me. It was either get uber pissed off, or say to hell with it and use you, but that would have left both of us feeling like shit.”

I glared at him until I could get words out. “Well, what you chose to do certainly left both of us feeling like shit.”

He still held my hand and squeezed it hard. “I’d give anything to change what happened.”

“Why didn’t you talk to me that night?” I had to clear my throat. “It took me so long to work up the courage to tell you how I felt, to ask if there was a chance you might feel the same way.” Sadness rushed into my heart and I did my best to push it away. “I had to ask, Ben.”

His voice was very soft. “I knew even then how much you trusted me, to be able to tell me, but I acted like a crazy fool and treated my best friend like a piece of shit.” He shuddered. “When I realized what I’d done, how I’d—”

Tears spilled down his cheeks, and my heart skipped a beat. I leaned across the table toward him. “Hey.” He squeezed his eyes shut and the cascade of tears continued. When he sobbed, I let go of a breath I’d been holding onto for two years. “Oh, Ben.” I sat quietly until he calmed down.

“Please forgive me, Cay. I was a damned coward, and I should’ve told you what I was feeling.” He shook his head. “I’ve been a damned coward ever since. I could have come to see you, gotten right in your face until you listened to me.”

My own eyes overflowed at that point, and there we sat—two guys, holding hands, crying in public. Anywhere else in town, we’d have probably attracted some attention, but sitting in Over Easy at two forty-five on a Sunday morning, no one even turned a head.

My Review:
Cayo Suarez and Ben Roth were roommates at Duke Law School. They were the best of friends, but Cayo–out and proud–had an intense crush on Ben. Ben, having a broken heart and needing the attention of a dear friend, cultivated a close, physical relationship, that was purely platonic–though Ben had other desires too. He wasn’t gay–isn’t gay–though his brother is. He just loved how Cayo loved him–like a brother, that he sometimes fantasized about.

They had a huge falling out right before graduation–when Cayo confessed his deep love, and Ben freaked the F out. Ben behaved VERY badly, using a no-no slur and hurting Cayo emotional and physically in the moment. Cayo hasn’t responded to any of Ben’s attempts to make amend in the two years since, but he’s mystified to find Ben dancing in a gay club in DC when he knows for a fact Ben took a soulless lawyer job for a corporate firm in NYC, while Cayo took the Legal Assistance position in DC Ben had claimed to want when they were students.

Cayo is so shook by Ben’s advent in his life again, that he takes charge to find out Ben’s story–what he’s doing in DC. Ben’s shook too, but he’s wanted to make amends to Cayo for two long years. Cayo was his bestest of best friends, but Ben isn’t gay–he’s always dated women, except for a few hand jobs with a fellow teammate on the swim team way back in high school…

Okay, to be clear, Ben isn’t straight. He spends a LOT of the book trying to figure out if he has a label, actually, but the long and short of this is Ben is sure he loves Cayo, as more than a friend or roomie. He needs Cayo’s care, and wants his whole heart, too. Cayo immediately makes forgiveness happen–he’s been holding his anger close for too long and desperately missed is best friend. He’s not eager to rush into a relationship, however. He does invite Ben to take his spare room while Ben does an apartment hunt; he’s recently been transferred to the DC branch of his conglomerate law firm.

Their close contact ignites all the need Ben can manage. He’s so needy, and it’s not long before he initiates non-platonic contact. Still, he’s convinced he’s not gay–and Ben’s brother and brother-in-law (his brother’s husband) are quick to take him to task. Whatever, he’s not “gay”, he’s definitely into Cayo, which means he’s willing to love a man–and whatever his sexuality, Ben needs to be honest and caring to Cayo. Cayo is upset that Ben may be playing him–and he’s nervous to fall for a man who’s only ever been with women. Cayo is afraid if Ben is bisexual he may want to go back to women, and he’ll lose his best friend as well as the man he’s loved his whole adult life.

I’ll cut to the chase, Ben and Cayo are a solid couple–once Ben owns up to his love for Cayo. The next complication is a court case. Cayo is representing the plaintiff in a sex-discrimination suit, and Ben is–through a series of coincidences–representing the defendant, who happens to be a sexist scumbag. A wealthy sexist scumbag. That’s where the suspense comes in.Cayo’s amazing in the courtroom, and Ben…falls flat. But, a few days later, Cayo receives priviliged information and implication is that Ben sent it to him. It’s super shady, and both Ben and Cayo are worried about Ben’s job. He’s at risk for firing and a board complaint.

In the meantime, Ben and Cayo are deepening their relationship. This book brings the smut, and I loved every moment of Ben’s initiation into the gayest of gay sex. It’s super fun, and enjoyably dirty, which I was delightfully surprised to experience. Ben spends his days figuring out how to make Cayo’s life easier, and gets some extenuating circumstances to reveal his caretaking nature. Like I mentioned, there’s shady business happening, and it leads to destruction of property, relocation, kidnapping and threats to life and profession.

This story comes complete with some cameos from characters in previous books. It’s billed as a standalone, and works that way, but I’m sure there were novels that featured Ben’s brother Aaron, and also his close friend and legal confidant Liam. Both of these men are settled, married gay men, who are also lawyers. Their support and counsel shepherd Ben in his journey to self-acceptance. I was curious about their back stories, but it didn’t detract from my enjoyment of Ben and Cayo’s story. There’s a bit of intrigue and some definite suspense, but those moments end quickly and we have lots of time to focus on the deep love and dirty sexytimes that bind Ben and Cayo together.

I really like this story, and how Ben and Cayo overcome their differences in old hurts, and present disparities in wealthy and experience to find the common ground that will support their nascent relationship. I liked this story, and was intrigued about the previous books, as well. You can tell the authors are lawyers, because they are meticulous about finding the loopholes and knotting them up. It was a good story with cool elements of reconnection and accepting one’s life, even if it’s not going according to plan. I liked the supporting characters and would be interested to read on if we see Ben and Cayo in a new circumstance.

Interested? You can find WHAT HE REALLY NEEDS on Goodreads and Amazon.

****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 Authors:
Ryan Taylor and Joshua Harwood met in law school and were married in 2017. They live in a suburb of Washington, DC, and enjoy travel, friends, dogs, and advocating for causes dear to their hearts. Josh and Ryan love writing, and the romance they were so lucky to find with each other inspires their stories about love between out and proud men.

You can catch up with Ryan and Joshua on their website, Goodreads, and twitter.

Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!

Unexpected Choices in THE ENLIGHTENMENT OF DANIEL–Review and Giveaway!

Hi there! Today I’m excited to share a review for a contemporary M/M romance from Eli Easton. THE ENLIGHTENMENT OF DANIEL is the second book in the Sex in Seattle series but is fully enjoyable as a standalone. You will meet both Tony and Jack from THE THE TROUBLE WITH TONY, but they are only secondary characters, helping Daniel figure out his life, and his plan to woo the love of his life: his unhappily married business partner, Nick.

Scroll down to catch my review and to enter the giveaway for a $25 Amazon GC.
About the book:
Business tycoon Daniel Derenzo lives for his work until his dying father reminds him life is short. When Daniel starts to reevaluate his world he experiences a startling revelation—he’s attracted to his business partner and best friend, Nick, even though Daniel always believed himself to be straight. In typical type-A fashion, Daniel dissects his newfound desires with the help of the experts at the Expanded Horizons sex clinic. He goes after Nick with the fierce determination that’s won him many a business deal.

Nick Ross was in love with Daniel years ago, when they were roommates in college. But Daniel was straight and Nick patched his broken heart by marrying Marcia. Two kids and fourteen years later, they go through the motions of their marriage like ships passing in the night. But Nick’s kids mean the world to him, and he’s afraid he’ll never get joint custody if they divorced. If he can trust his heart to an awakening Daniel, they all might find their way to a happily ever after.

My Review:
Daniel Derenzo’s father is dying. Not that they have a close–or any–relationship, however his father’s waxing about missed opportunities and taking time to stop working and truly live life has Daniel’s analytical brain in a whirlwind. Like his own parents, Daniel married young and divorced early–no kids, but lots of heartbreak. He’s been a successful businessman since college running DRE, Derenzo Ross Enterprises, with his best friend and former college roommate Nick Ross. Daniel has always been hyper-focused on success, a lesson he learned from his successful and absentee father, who seemingly regrets those calculating choices when diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer.

On a long business trip to Hong Kong to purchase a company for turnaround, Daniel and Nick are celebrating the new merger. It’s at the bar that Nick confesses his wife of the past 14 years, Marcia, has iced him out; they’ve had a lackluster sex life for more than a decade and no sex for the past three years. Nick’s ashamed to admit he lives in the guest bedroom, and the only reason he stays married is the fear that Marcia will bar a joint custody arrangement for their two children. Daniel is incensed, but not for the reason he expects–his righteous anger stems from a deep wellspring of love he feels for Nick, the kindest man he’s ever known. Daniel has known since college that Nick is bisexual, but in this moment that nearly-familial love he though he felt sharpens into an unexpected arousal, and a desire to care for Nick in a more than platonic manner. It’s shocking to Daniel, because he’s never really thought of men that way. Before he leaves Hong Kong, Daniel books an appointment with a sex therapist back home in Seattle for the next business day; he needs to know if his attraction is real, or just a manifestation of his recent thoughts of mortality.

Daniel wants clarity, to see if his initial arousal was fluke. Meeting with Dr. Jack Halloran, and a sex surrogate Michael, helps Daniel recognize that he’s definitely bisexual, and totally gone for Nick. Now, Daniel’s challenge is to see if he can get some time with Nick, that has nothing to do with their business–and includes his kids for some quality time, too. It’s not that hard, as Marcia has built a lot of “self care” time into her lifestyle, with long yoga classes, spa days and retreats. Daniel’s also making time to spend with his dad, renting a house on Bainbridge Island so his dad can have home hospice in a relaxing spot as his life ebbs away. Nick and his kids are part of this getaway, while Marcia is out of town, for a change.

Nick’s not sure why Daniel’s interested in spending so much time with him and his kids, but he’s grateful for the connection. Though they are long-time friends Nick had harbored an attraction way back when–and it’s coming back to the surface right now. It’s seeing how amazing Daniel is with the kids–talking baseball stats with his son and getting to the heart of his teen daughter’s insecurities–body issues that have been foisted on her by Marcia and her nitpicky mother. Nick had seen the changes in his daughter, but hadn’t really grasped the impact until Daniel forced him to slow down and spend the time reconnecting with his kids. His unhappiness in the marriage had inadvertently driven a wedge between himself and his kids, who he loves dearly.

On Bainbridge, the chemistry between Daniel and Nick becomes unbearable–and Daniel vows to help Nick escape his loveless marriage with a minimum of damage to the kids. If Nick wants to be free, that is. And Nick knows he can’t continue to live the shadow life Marcia has decreed, including resigning from DRE effective immediately. Once Daniel learns that Nick is ready to make a clean break, Daniel’s mission is to make the divorce as bloodless as possible. In this, Daniel is aided by his father–who has tons of contacts–and PI Tony DeMarco, Dr. Halloran’s life partner. Tony finds secrets even Marcia doesn’t know, but will help ensure she accepts the very generous terms Nick is planned to offer.

I really liked this one, even when I wasn’t sure I would. I’m not big on “cheating” plotlines, so the prospect of Daniel interfering in Nick’s marriage was not ideal, however, I thought it was handled really well. It’s clear from insight we get in Marcia’s POV that she’s supremely unhappy, and being goaded to stay married by her aggressively mean mother. The revelations she gains as a result of Tony’s investigations pave the way toward ultimate happiness for all parties, and that was a nice twist. I really enjoyed the kids, who are just the right amount of present and actively interested in Nick’s happiness. They take to Daniel fine, thanks to his consummate attention to detail. It was amusing how sections of this book were written like a business plan, complete with Daniel’s hostile takeover of Nick’s family. Daniel’s dad assisted his enlightenment, and supported his pursuit of happiness–even knowing he’d never see the full resolution. I liked his dad, who was pragmatic to a fault, and gave advice with hubris and panache. While we get glimpses of Jack and Tony from the first series book, and Michael, from the third one, this story stood on its own.

Interested? You can find THE ENLIGHTENMENT OF DANIEL on Goodreads and Amazon.

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

Or, check out THE MATING OF MICHAEL on Goodreads or Amazon.

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

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

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

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