Family Ties and Futures Found THE SILENCE OF LIGHTNING–Review and Giveaway!

Hi there! Today I’m excited to share a review and giveaway for a newly-released M/M novel with romantic elements from Marie S. Crosswell. THE SILENCE OF LIGHTNING features a retired rodeo star who’s struggling with his life choices, and his close cousins who have issues of their own.

Scroll down for an excerpt and to enter the $10 GC giveaway.
About the book:
Former pro-rodeo champion Smith Rose and his cousins Cooper and Christa Boone live a quiet life together in the town of Cody, Wyoming—until the summer of 2015 shakes them to their foundations.

Stuck in an unhappy rut since his retirement from the rodeo five years prior, Smith is forced to reckon with his past, present, and future when his former friend and lover John Henry Walker shows up at Smith’s bar. Meanwhile, the Boone sisters face a threat they never would’ve predicted when an out-of-town stranger begins to stalk Christa after meeting her at a party. While trying to support her sister and their cousin, Cooper secretly agonizes over her fears of their little family splitting apart and where that would leave her.

When Smith, Cooper, and Christa’s problems converge in a dangerous confrontation, will the three of them survive?

How about a little taste?

Cody, Wyoming
Summer, 2015

The three of them sit sprawled in a booth: Smith, Cooper, and Christa. Their table’s littered with beer bottles and the shucked off metal caps. Smith’s got a cooler on the floor alongside his seat because this is his bar and he can do whatever the hell he wants. He opens each beer with the bottle opener on his key ring. His cousins got a pretty good buzz going on, the two of them pink-faced and smiling, leaning into each other. Smith is mellowed out, not drunk. He doesn’t watch the saloon or Georgeanne filling in for him at the bar, just nurses his drink and considers his cousins.

“There is no way in hell I’m riding fifteen hundred miles on the back of a motorcycle,” says Christa.

“Why not?” Cooper whines. “Labor Day weekend, it’ll be beautiful. We won’t see weather that good in between here and Austin until next spring, which is almost a year from now.”

“I wouldn’t go in the spring either. I’m not traveling that far on a bike. Period.”

“You don’t even have to worry about the bike. I’m the one handling it. All you have to do is hold on and enjoy the scenery.”

“I wouldn’t be enjoying anything, Cooper! I’d be terrified the whole way. What’s fun about that?”

“I wouldn’t even go fast!” Cooper says. “I’ll cap it at five above the speed limit; I promise.”

“Eighty miles an hour on a motorcycle is still enough to kill you!”

“Okay, first of all, it would be seventy half the time, and second of all, why don’t you trust me? I’m not some reckless yahoo looking to cheat death taking a corner too fast, and even if I was, I would never gamble with your life.”

Christa gives her sister an indulgent smile. “It’s not about you. It’s about all the things you can’t control. My fear included.”

Cooper sighs in defeat and blinks at Smith sitting across from her. “Will you go with me?”

Smith pauses. “Might follow in the truck.”

Cooper rolls her eyes. “Forget it. I’ll go on my own.”

“You’re not making that trip alone, Cooper,” says Christa, sipping on her beer.

“Well, I wouldn’t have to if you’d come with me.”

Cooper’s been restoring a 1966 Triumph Bonneville T120TT all year, tinkering with it in her spare time at the garage where she’s an auto mechanic. She reckons she’ll be finished with it by the time September rolls around, and she’s been pestering her sister about a long road trip to Texas.

Christa ignores Cooper’s pouting and gives Smith a pointed look. “You coming to the rodeo with us?”

“No, ma’am,” he replies and draws on his beer. He’s sitting in the interior corner on his side of the booth, and he’s got his left arm stretched out along the top of the seatback behind him. He might be hiding a little, from the rest of the room.

“Smith. Come on.”

“Every year, you two go out there, and every year, I don’t. I figure that’ll never change.”

“Why can’t you just suspend your boycott for one night and spend some time with us?”

“I’m spending time with you right now. I’ll follow you anywhere, except the damn rodeo. Why don’t you skip the rodeo and do something else with me? We could take the motorcycle course at the DMV and get licensed.”

Christa makes a face at him. “Very funny.”

“Well, we’re going tomorrow night, with or without you,” Cooper says to Smith. “And I’m betting whoever places first in bronc and bull riding won’t come anywhere near your records, like I always do. Then I’ll be proven right like I always am. At least half a dozen people will recognize me and Chris as your family, ask us how you’re doing, and then recount some memory of your glory days we’ve both heard about a thousand times. We’ll smile and nod and agree you were the best in the West, shake hands, and go home.”

“Clearly, I’m not missing anything,” says Smith, his face shaded under the brim of his cowboy hat.

“If you hate the rodeo so much, why did you decide to live in Cody?” Christa asks. “You could’ve gone back to Rawlins or Cheyenne. Left Wyoming altogether.”

“Cody ain’t a bad place to live.” Smith flicks his eyes past his cousin and gives the saloon a once-over. “You two are here.”

“We’re here because of you,” says Cooper.

Smith glances at her but doesn’t respond, draining his beer bottle instead.

My Review:
Smith Rose retired from the professional rodeo circuit a three-time world champion rider, and settled in Cody, WY where his younger cousins, Copper and Christa Boone, have also decided to live. It’s a small town, and Smith has a honky-tonk style bar and he lives on a spread of acreage in a trailer.

Cooper has long followed Smith through the years, his biggest fan and even now she watches over him, fearing that he’s fallen into a depression. Cooper and Christa are two of the few people in the world that know Smith is bisexual. He’s always kept his activity with men on the down-low and retired in part due to fears over being outed. Smith had one long-ish term relationship with a fellow cowboy on the circuit, a bisexual black man called John Henry Walker. And when John Henry called it quits, it broke a little something inside Smith.

Cooper is an asexual butch mechanic, and her love for Smith and Christa is great. She’s afraid that they will each find a partner and move on leaving her alone. So, she’s poised to observe the change in Smith’s demeanor after John Henry shows up in Smith’s saloon. And, she’s further troubled by an aggressively charming Nite Rodeo rider who seems to be stalking Christa.

John Henry has made it clear he’s riding in the Wyoming-area rodeo circuit this summer, and Smith doesn’t waste time tracking him down. Their sex is still mind-blowing and both men are more touched by the moment than they can let on. John Henry reveals he has a long-time girlfriend whom he plans to marry, but while he’s our on the rodeo he’s not planning to be monogamous. He’s not actually a player, John Henry has long had a love for Smith Rose, and this summer was his attempt to makes sense of his feelings and conflict, before he takes the plunge to either come out and make a life with Smith or marry his girlfriend.

There are many points of view that converge in this story, and there’s a lot of heavy lifting put into the the thoughts and reflections of each character. Cody is small, and people who fall into the quilt bag of the LGBTQIA rainbow are struggling to find family. To feel if they can be safe and out at the same time. John Henry has a double worry, of being out and black, in an area and profession that is undoubtedly white supremicist. The contrasting viewpoints allows readers to really feel the turmoil of these people as they connect and struggle to decide how to live their lives with love and joy. It’s a quiet story, and not exactly a romance. There is happiness, love and peace within, but there isn’t a real romance-y ending. I liked the story a lot, and I loved the characters. For people who love westerns, scenic reads, and deep, emotional introspection, I would recommend this one.

Interested? You can find THE SILENCE OF LIGHTNING on Goodreads, NineStar Press, and Amazon.

****GIVEAWAY****

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

About the Author:
Marie S. Crosswell writes long fiction, short fiction, and poetry. Her novellas Texas, Hold Your Queens; Lone Star on a Cowboy Heart; Alchemy; and Cold, Cold Water are available online wherever digital books are sold. Her short fiction has appeared in Thuglit, Betty Fedora, Plots with Guns, Tough, and other indie crime fiction publications. She’s a graduate of Sarah Lawrence College where she studied creative writing. She lives in the American West.

Catch up with Marie on her website.

Overcoming Daddy Issues STARTING FROM SCRATCH–Review and Giveaway!

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a Throwback Thursday review for a contemporary M/M romance from Lane Hayes. STARTING FROM SCRATCH is the second book in the Starting From series. STARTING FROM ZERO and STARTING FROM HERE recount the falling in love stories of two members of an LA-based indie band called Zero.

Drop down to catch my review and enter the giveaway for a chance to win a $25 GC.
About the book:
Charlie Rourke is an ultra fabulous human whirlwind on a mission to launch the next biggest band in the world. However, he might have taken on more than he could handle when he signed on to manage Zero. Promoting a rock band and finding gigs shouldn’t be hard. They’re a talented group with a ton of star power. If Charlie can find the right record label, he’s sure he can help them get to the next level. The only problem is the skater boy slash bassist with a quirky sense of humor. He’s annoying and silly, and he’s exactly Charlie’s type. Except he’s straight.

Ky Baldwin isn’t afraid to switch things up. He loves a challenge as much as anyone, but Charlie doesn’t make things easy. Zero’s manager is a force of nature with a razor sharp tongue, a quick wit, and a no-nonsense attitude. Ky can’t stop thinking about him. Winning over Charlie becomes Ky’s pet project. But when the ice between them thaws, neither is prepared for the intensity of going from enemies to lovers. They’ll have to decide if they’re willing to start from scratch and take a chance on the unexpected.

My Review:
Charlie Rourke is a 25 y/o out gay internet influencer who has signed on to manage the indie band Zero. He met the lead singer, Justin, through his godfather, Grey, and Charlie wants to use his platform to promote their band as his true career path. He’s a business man, raised in Tinsel Town by Grey who was his father’s secret lover and more of a dad than Sebastian Rourke ever was. With Zero’s promotions to work on, Charlie has a direction, one that fills his time with purpose–besides caring for his 9 year old half-brother, Oliver. Ollie is a lonely kid, and he struggles to make friends. Charlie has a bit of a trouble with obsessing over small details, and right now he’s mostly stressing over the devotion of the bass player for Zero, and some rather nasty reviews of the band that are starting to gain traction.

Ky is the bass player in Zero and Charlie is more than a challenge to him. Ky is bisexual, not that he advertises. He’s a bit of a skater-man, could have maybe been pro, and he’s more into the band than Charlie suspects. Also, Ky’s way into Charlie–who returns his interest. Ky is amazing with Ollie, which pretty much demolishes all of Charlie’s reservations for falling hard for Ky. Ky has some secrets, mainly what a craphead his old man is, but he’s more that willing to schedule regular visits to teach Charlie to skateboard. And, to still Charlie’s whirlwind brain with a simple kiss, or a silly prank.

These mismatched men connect in ways they hadn’t predicted. It’s a fun counterpoint to the family drama each one faces. Charlie’s always felt a bit ignored by his father, while Ky’s dad is a manipulator extraordinaire. This means that they are both fiercely-independent in their own affairs, but they also long for a steady partner who will provide the missing emotional support in their lives. The subplot pulls in Declan McNamara, an ally-turned-rival who seems to be the focus of the nasty reviewer hounding Zero’s shows. The negative reviews are gaining traction and threaten to upset the recording contracts that Charlie is negotiating for Zero. Declan was involved in a band-destroying love triangle that caused Justin, and his drummer-pal Tegan, to break off from Gypsy Coma, the band they were a part of before forming Zero. And, as Charlie is well aware, bad publicity in the social media space can sink a band faster than a terrible song.

I listened to the audiobook version, and I really enjoyed the pacing and narrator’s range, which was able to manage female and child voices as well as the lower register of Ky and Charlie’s manic-mania dialogue. I was glad to keep going with this series, and looked forward to Tegan’s love story, which was the next book to come out.

In this story the issues each character has with his father affects the path of their life. Charlie doesn’t want to lean on his dad for much, because he’s been so unreliable. He does trust his dad’s keen insights and promotional advice, however, which do make a big impact on the resolution of the story. For Ky, he long-since realized that his father is only interested in his own happiness, and he is so mean-spirited and toxic that Ky is better off without contact–and that’s how he likes it. It was a nasty turn, his dad’s way of ingratiating himself into the Zero sphere, but Ky effectively closes the door, and solidifies his place in the band. Their love story is engaging, and well-told in the audiobook.

Interested? You can find STARTING FROM SCRATCH on Goodreads, Amazon, and Audible.

****GIVEAWAY****

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

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

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

Enemies to Lovers STARTING FROM HERE–Review and Giveaway!

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a brand new contemporary M/M romance from Lane Hayes. STARTING FROM HERE is the third book in the Starting From series. STARTING FROM ZEROkicked off this rock romance series with each member of the band Zero finding a solid lover. This book features former childhood friends turned rivals in an enemies-to-lovers story.

Drop down to catch an excerpt, my review and enter for a chance to win a $25 GC.
About the book:
Two bands, one goal, and a second chance…

Declan-
Everything is finally going well. I have a new band, a new label, and a debut album coming out. And then my drummer breaks his wrists. Just my luck. I need a quick replacement to record one more song, but my options are limited, and of course, the obvious candidate hates my guts. Okay, so I may have given him a few reasons over the years, but isn’t there an expiration date on holding a grudge?

Tegan-
I don’t trust Declan McNamara. Sure, he’s talented, smart, and has more sex appeal than any one person should be allowed. And yeah, he may be a rock star in the making, but beware—he’s trouble. However, our new record label’s survival may depend on a truce and extreme measures…of the fake boyfriend variety. If it’s our best shot at the big time, I’m willing to set the past aside and start over…here and now.

Starting From Here is a MM, bisexual romance rock and roll style…rival bands, fake boyfriends, and a second chance at a new love story. Each book in the Starting From series can be read as a stand-alone.

How about a yummy taste?

The sound of cheerful squealing rang in the background before she hung up. I stared into space for a minute or two, feeling very…alone. I didn’t want to slip into teenage levels of self-pity. There was really nothing lamer than a privileged grown-ass adult whining about mommy issues. I flipped through television channels, pausing on a special about great white sharks. Then I tossed the controller aside and picked up my cell again.
Would you ever swim with sharks?
My phone buzzed immediately. I smiled when Tegan’s name lit the screen. Are you high?
I wish. Swimming with sharks is a thing. People get in cages and film themselves being surrounded by predators…for fun.
People are fucking crazy.
True.
What are you watching?
National Geographic. I was hoping for a sex in the wild segment, but I got sharks instead.
Shark sex?
I grinned. Nope. I don’t think I’m ready for that.
It’s not exciting. Fish sex is seriously unhot.
True.
My chuckled morphed into a belly laugh as I sank deeper into the cushion. I shared a quick story about the saucy squirrels who were getting it on outside my window last spring. Tegan teased me for being a rodent voyeur, then recommended a few human porn sites I might appreciate instead.
Btw, it’s officially midnight. Congrats.
I stared at the screen for a moment. I typed and erased two or three thank-yous that seemed a little too effusive. I didn’t want to come across as too excited or too grateful and somehow clingy, so I gave up and pressed Call.
“Hey.”
“Are you really fucking calling me?”
I chuckled. “Yeah. I am. Thank you.”
“You’re welcome. But it’s midnight, and I hate talking on the phone, so good ni—”
“Don’t hang up.”
“What’s wrong?”
I stared at the TV unseeing. “Nothing. I just…I’m keyed up and I need someone to talk to. What was your first release like? I know Zero’s record is still doing well. But…what was like in the beginning? How’d you feel?”
Silence.
“You want the truth?”
“Yeah.”
“It was anticlimactic.”
“Oh. That’s kind of depressing.”
“No, it’s just life. Nothing ever happens as fast as you want it to. You’ve got to be patient and keep doing your thing,” he advised. “We came home from our summer tour thinking we made it. What didn’t turn into superstars, but we made progress. And every day it gets better. But who knows what will happen? Maybe you’ll wake up at number one. Just stay positive and…stop torturing yourself.”
I smiled when Tegan’s uplifting advice gave way to exasperation. It was cute.
“It’s what I do. I excel at the art of self-sabotage. Ask my mom. If I bomb, you can be sure she’ll be the first one to say ‘I told you so.’ She’ll choose her words carefully, though. She’ll be kind-ish before she gently suggests that it’s time to throw in the towel and join the family firm. Fuck my life.”
“But it’s your life. The honor of making mistakes or kicking ass is all yours. You wrote those songs to be heard. Not everyone will love what you do, but plenty of people will. You just gotta be right in your own head. Ask yourself if you gave your best. Did you?”
“Of course.”
“You’ll do just fine, then. If you sell a million copies, great. If not, you’ll still learn something.”
Silence.
“Thanks. I needed that,” I said softly.
“You’re welcome. Now go to sleep.”
“I’m an almost rock star, and it’s midnight. My night is just beginning,” I lied, stifling a yawn.
“Have fun, rock god,” he snorted.
“I’m kidding. I’m channel surfing.”
“You mean porn surfing?”
I barked a quick laugh. “No, I get my porn on the internet like everyone else. I was watching that show about hoarders. It made me feel better somehow.”
“You’re a freak. Get your computer and jack off. You’ll feel better, and you’ll sleep better,” he advised sagely.
“Thanks, Dr. Monroe. I’ll report back in the morning.”
“Not necessary. Especially if there’re boobs involved.”
“I watch more dick porn than chick porn. I watched a great locker room scene last night. The coach and the quarterback. Sexy as fuck.”
“Are you really sharing a spank-bank story?”
“Yeah, you want the link?”

My Review:
Tegan Monroe is a drummer for the newly-formed band Zero. He’s out gay and in his late 20s he’s been feuding with a childhood friend Declan McNamara for the last few years. Declan, Tegan, and their friend Justin were all part of a band called Gypsy Coma, which imploded when a love triangle was revealed. Tegan and Declan has been on and off lovers before that, but Justin and the band’s lead singer, Xena, had a spectacularly bad breakup which ended Gypsy Coma.

Justin and Tegan then formed Zero, while Xena went in one direction and Declan formed a band called Jealousy—which was signed by the same indie recording label that signed Zero, Scratch Studios. Despite their recent issues, the history behind Tegan and Declan is a powerful force, and Tegan’s personal struggles cause him to seek out Declan as a favor to his ailing mother. Declan’s trying to avoid getting trapped by his manipulative mother into some kind of scheme that would either reintroduce Xena drama, or cause Declan to drop out of his band, just on the cusp of breaking out in the LA music scene.

To get ahead of the stories and cut off a return to scandal, Declan and Tegan agree to pose as fake boyfriends to build buzz before their upcoming tours. No one knows that they’ve already begun some low-key reconciliations of the hate-sex kind.

This is an interesting twist on the enemies-to-lovers trope by having Declan and Tegan share a long-standing friendship that had already been sexual, before the introduction of all the drama. Pushing the fake boyfriends subterfuge onto them was a good foil to allow them to fully explore what they were already doing—just without the angst of trying to continue with the down-low tactics. These guys have always been attracted to one another, but they were never in the right headspace to build something long lasting. And jealousy, the emotion not Declan’s band, has definitely been an issue.

I like how Declan is so over all the sniping that he’s finally honest about everything. It helps when the spin-doctors start their voodoo to build the buzz. Tegan is definitely suffering, especially because of his mom’s illness, and Declan is strong enough to be the support he needs. The match between them has always been fraught with drama, but this time they decide to let the past stay there and just pick up from where they are. And that made all the difference. Expect some angry-sex morphing into friendship and happier moments before the drama creeps In. It’s a happy ending, and I think it may not be the last connection between Zero and Jealousy, going forward.

Interested? You can find STARTING FROM HERE on Goodreads and Amazon.

****GIVEAWAY****

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

About the Author:
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.

New Beginnings in TRADE DEADLINE–A Review

Hi there! Today, I’m sharing a review for a new M/M contemporary hockey romance from the writing team of Avon Gale and Piper Vaughn. TRADE DEADLINE featuers a veteran hockey player whose tranfer to a failing team doesn’t bring the professional results he was looking for, but does reconnect him to his childhood love. I really enjoyed PERMANENT INK and OFF THE ICE by this team and I wasn’t let down with this new story.

About the book:
It’s a reunion to remember…

Daniel “Bellzie” Bellamy should be on top of the world—a Stanley Cup is the perfect topper to his fourteen-year NHL career. But despite the post-win high, something’s missing. When the chance to play for his hometown team, the Miami Thunder, comes along, he’s open to it. And when he runs into an old friend from his past soon after he makes the move, he wonders if it might be kismet.

Micah Kelly never thought he’d see his childhood crush—and first kiss—again. Danny Bellamy moved on to bigger and better things when they were teenagers, and the idea that Micah’s relationship with the professional hockey player could be anything more than one-sided Instagram thirst seems too good to be true.

Maybe too good to be true is the new reality, though. As the season goes on, Micah teaches Daniel to surf, and Daniel introduces Micah to his lovable pack of rescue dogs and the world of being a hockey boyfriend. Life is good. But when things on the ice don’t go as planned, they’ll have to decide if their rediscovered romance is built to last.

My Review:
Daniel Bellamy is the captain of the Stanley Cup winning Atlanta Venom, and he’s evaluating his life and career goals. Though he’s satisfied, he’s not sure that he’s truly happy. He’s in his mid 30s, recently amicably divorced, and feeling a bit unsettled–especially as he’s really beginning to embrace his bisexual side. He has two young kids, and his ex-wife is beautiful and lovely, but really she’s his best friend after all these years together.

Daniel is presented with an opportunity to move from the Venom to his childhood hometown of Miami, to play for the Thunder, a perennial cellar-dwelling team. For Daniel, it would bring him close to his retired parents, and allow him to share his experience on a top team with guys who are struggling to make it to the playoffs. His ex is willing to relocate her home, too, so they can continue to co-parent their kids. She likes the idea of having the grandparents nearby, and they all dote on Daniel’s rescued dogs–of which there are many.

So, they all make the move. And…Daniel’s new team is a challenge. There are interpersonal issues with his new captain–who thinks Daniel is there to take over the team. The stands are either empty or filled with fans of the opposing team, and the coaching staff seems to be on autopilot. In short, Daniel is having the worst season of hockey ever–even if his personal stats aren’t horrible. One bright spot, however, is the reconnection he makes with his childhood best friend, Micah Kelly. Daniel had a fierce crush on Micah as a teen, but he moved to Chicago to play juniors hockey, and he’s not been back too often since. They lost touch, and Micah blamed himself for taking a chance and kissing Daniel just before he left.

Micah is gay, and was disowned by his parents in high school when he was outed. He worked hard to complete high school while couch surfing, and paid his way through both college and grad school to become a marine biologist. He currently manages a refuge and rescue aquarium where sea animals injured in the wild get brought for treatment and rehabilitation, or permanent care if they can’t be safely returned to the wild. Micah has struggled to find a steady relationship, because he works long hours and his partners weren’t always respectful of that. And, he’s kinda always had a residual crush on Daniel, who he’s been able to keep tabs on via social media. Their reconnection was a bit of kismet–Daniel seeing him in the nearly empty stands of a game–and their friendship picks up easily. Almost too easily.

Micah has abandonment issues–because of his family abandoning him. He doesn’t want to get too close to Daniel, only to have him get traded, or worse: return to his family. It takes a bit of convincing, actually for Micah to take Daniel’s interest and attraction seriously. Daniel is not a player, in the sexual sense. He craves stability and a long-standing love. He will always love his ex-wife, they both agree it will only be platonic. And, the career move may be a reality–with the Thunder still having chemistry and play issues, they might trade Daniel to another team for financial or player considerations. So, while Daniel’s personal life seems to be soaring, his professional life is a hard slog. The one saving grace there is an entry into pee-wee hockey, which his 5 y/o daughter seems to love. And, the juniors team is really hoping to meet Daniel and gain insight into getting into hockey as a career.

This is a really sweet reconnection romance for Daniel and Micah. They have insecurities and vulnerabilities, and they do the hard work of discussing them, once their fling shapes up to be something quite more permanent. I loved watching this blended family share experiences and holidays together. Micah really fits Daniel’s life and friend spheres, as well. Daniel’s decision-making, as the trade deadline approaches, is the main focus of the conflict, but Micah has a big decision t make, too. Will he be happy having Daniel in his life even part-time, if a trade takes him far from their home in Miami? There’s a lot of good people in this story, and some yummy sexytimes, as Micah shares his own expertise in the art of loving a man. I enjoyed this story, and couldn’t stop turning the pages, thoroughly charmed by the low angst and total sweetness of these men falling in love. The epilogue is as delicious an HEA as I’ve recently read.

If you like hockey romance, this might be a good pick for you.

Interested? You can find TRADE DEADLINE on Goodreads, Carina Press, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple Books and Kobo. I read a review copy provided by NetGalley.

About the Authors:
Avon Gale lives in a liberal Midwestern college town, where she spends her days getting heavily invested in everything from craft projects to video games. She likes road trips by car, rock concerts, thunderstorms, IPAs, Kentucky bourbon and tattoos. As a queer author, Avon is committed to providing happy endings for all and loves to tell stories that focus on found families, strong and open communication, and friendship. She loves writing about quirky people who might not be perfect, but always find a place where they belong. In her former life, Avon wrote fanfiction at her desk while ostensibly doing work in non-profit fundraising for public radio and women’s liberal arts education, and worked on her books in between haircuts and highlights as a stylist. Now she’s a full-time writer, delighted to be able to tell stories for a living.

Avon is represented by Courtney Miller-Callihan of Handspun Literary Agency.

You can find Avon on Facebook, twitter, Pinterest or sign up for her newsletter.

Piper Vaughn is a queer Latinx author and longtime romance reader. Since writing their first love story at age eleven, they’ve known writing in some form was exactly what they wanted to do. A reader to the core, Piper loves nothing more than getting lost in a great book.

Piper grew up in a diverse neighborhood in Chicago and loves putting faces and characters of every ethnicity in their stories, making their fictional worlds as colorful as the real one. Above all, Piper believes there’s no one way to have an HEA, and every person deserves to see themselves reflected on the page.

You can find Piper online on her website, Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends!

Digging Deep OUT ON THE SERVE–Audiobook, Review and Giveaway

Hi there! Today I’m sharing an audiobook review for a new New Adult M/M romance from Lane Hayes. YOu can catch my review for OUT ON THE SERVE, the seventh book in her Out in College series, which features a newly pro volleyball player falling hard for his new roommate. Catch my reviews for OUT IN THE DEEP END, OUT IN THE END ZONE, OUT IN THE OFFENSE, OUT ON THE ICE and OUT IN SPRING 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:
Roommates to friends to lovers…
Elliot:
I need a roommate fast. Even a temporary one. Beggars can’t be choosers. Going pro after graduation has been intense, and time is precious. Thankfully, Braden seems cool. He’s a little quirky…and very sexy. Of course, I would never get involved with a roommate. That’s a bad idea. Isn’t it?

Braden:
Moving to Long Beach seems like a no brainer. It’ll be a perfect chance to wind down before grad school and a nice respite from my folks. Plus, my new roommate is a great guy. A little messy, but sweet. Gotta admit, I like him more than I should. And we’re off to a strange start when a mutual friend hooks me up with his ex. Elliot’s the one I want, but going from friends to lovers is a risk. We could end up out on the serve…or we could win it all.

Out on the Serve is a low-angst MM, bisexual romance starring two roommates, one neat, one messy, beach volleyball, a lot of sand, and a little summer fun. This story is part of the Out in College series but can be read as a stand-alone.

How about a yummy taste?

Ten minutes later, I tied a towel around my waist and opened the bathroom door to release some steam just as Braden opened his bedroom door.
It might have been my imagination or wishful thinking, but I could have sworn he eye-fucked me before he met my gaze.
“Mornin’,” I said in a raspy voice.
“Good morning.”
“How’d you sleep?”
“Pretty good. Are you going to the beach today?” he asked awkwardly.
“Yeah. I’m leaving soon.”
“Hmm. I heard the swell is huge,” he said in a fast, clipped tone.
I crossed my arms and leaned against the doorjamb. “Yeah, I heard that too. There’s some big storm off the coast of Mexico.”
“Right.”
“Want to come with me?”
“To Mexico?”
I barked a laugh. “No, dork. To the beach.”
Braden chuckled. “Believe it or not, I’m going to the theater. Sophie talked me into trying out the assistant gig. Hopefully, it’ll keep me out of trouble.”
And there was the opening I needed. I wasn’t sure how to word it, though. The hint of unease between us told me that I should proceed with caution. We had to be on the same page and willing to try something new and—fuck. My window of opportunity was closing. Braden’s cheeks reddened as he mumbled a good-bye.
I grabbed his wrist before he closed his door, ignoring the spark and sizzle that zipped along my spine. “Hang on…thank you.”
“For what?”
“The cereal.”
“Oh.” He let out a half laugh and yes…his face went a shade pinker. Fuck, that was both cute and hot at the same time. “It was silly.”
“I love silly. I’m a huge fan of all things ridiculous. Ask anyone.”
“I believe you.”
“Good. So…let’s agree that this doesn’t have to be weird. We’re grown adults. Well, you are anyway. We can call it a celebratory kiss if you want and move on. What d’ya say?”
“Yes, okay. I’m—I’m sorry about”—he circled his wrist meaningfully—“everything. I overreacted.”
“You mean the part when you yelled at me for getting sand on the floor? I forgive you.”
“No, I was serious about that part.”
“I know. But don’t worry about the other thing. Boners happen.”
Braden sputtered. “I did not have a boner.”
“Liar. We both did. Might have been your mom’s fudge,” I teased.
“You think my mother’s homemade fudge gave you a hard-on,” he repeated incredulously.
“Dude, chocolate totally gives me wood. Or maybe she added a chemical substance that made us too relaxed.”
“Like what?”
“I don’t know…weed?”
Braden snickered. “Unlikely. My mom is very proper. I don’t think she even knows what weed looks like.”
“Hmm. You seem kind of proper too. Do you take after her?”
“Maybe, but I know what weed looks like,” he assured me. “My roommate in the dorms my freshman year was very fond of the stuff. We didn’t get along at all. He was a total—”
“Slob?” I supplied, quirking my brows.
“Yeah.” He shrugged carelessly. “I was probably overbearing, but in my defense, I come from a super rigid household. I’m an only child, and I was sick a lot when I was little. I had colic and sensitivity issues. I’d break out in rashes if I was in the sun for five minutes or if I ate citrus. My asthma was off the charts. I had a nebulizer at home, and I carried inhalers everywhere I went.”
“That’s a lot of information,” I said with a laugh.
He winced, then sucked in a deep breath. “Sorry. I don’t know what’s wrong with me. My geek is showing.”
“Ha. Nothing wrong with that. You like me, eh?”
Braden chuckled. Like I’d hoped he would. “What makes you think that?”
“You kissed me. Twice. We might as well get married and pick out His and His towels. Thoughts?”
“Great idea. Just don’t tell my mom. She’d have a heart attack. She was already worried I’d moved in with you because you were my…”
“Boyfriend,” I supplied.
“Yeah, except she has a hard time saying that word, so it comes out in a strained whisper like…boyfriend.” Braden modulated his voice to sound like a scared woman. He grinned when I busted up laughing, and I could have sworn a ray of sunshine burst through the wall of our apartment.

My Review:
This audiobook runs about 6 h and 20 minutes, and is narrated by Michael Dean.

Elliot is a new graduate of Long Beach State and is now a pro volleyball player. He’s an out bisexual man, and looking for a new roommate since his friend–emphasis on friend–Sophie wants to move out though she only lived there a few months. She had high hopes of having a relationship with Elliot, but he was still nursing a bruised heart from his break up with Drew. Elliot is a great guy, friendly and effusive, and likes to maintain friendships with his exes. Not willing to stick Elliot out on the rent, Sophie has arranged for her friend, Braden, to look into taking her empty room. Braden is also a volleyball player, and he and Elliot knew each other a competitors, more than friends. But, they don’t hold any grudges. Braden respected Elliot’s play on and off the court, and he’s also not averse to noticing how yummy a specimen Elliot is. Braden is also bisexual, and out to his parents–who aren’t the most accepting about it.

Elliot and Braden do agree to share the apartment, and they manage to even play some pick-up volleyball games. A camaraderie and attraction is growing between them, and it’s complicated by other people. First, Sophie acts as a matchmaker for the two men–with other people. And Elliot’s team partner messes things up wanting a gimmick that will drum up visibility for them–and includes dating a female ex of Elliot’s, while Elliot is meant to go back to dating Drew–even if it’s just for show. A bigger issue is Braden’s helicopter mom who thinks he’d be happier if he dates only women, and barely acknowledges his bi-identity. And, naturally neither of these guys knows if the feelings they are having are temporary, like Braden’s sub-lease which only lasts for the summer.

The audiobook really translates the angst of both characters well. Elliot is more freewheeling, but he’s also introspective and his growing intimacy with Braden has him rethinking his anti-marriage stance. Not that he’s ready, but that he could see staying with Braden for a long, long time. Braden’s summer is going from bad to worse, with losing out on a role in a play, then losing out on his spot as a production assistant for the play. At loose ends, Elliot is a great buffer, giving Braden something positive to anticipate, while helping Braden fully experience a connection with a man. They develop a true connection, and it’s important to both men that the people they love get the message to back off and let them support one another fully. Their sexytimes are expressively rendered by the narrator, and I loved the playful and tender moments equally. Braden takes care of Elliot–to some degree–while Elliot helps Braden break free of some of his eccentricities around cleanliness and order in their living space.

The comedy of errors that Sophie keeps engaging was frustrating for both Elliot and Braden, and that clearly came through the audio. I loved it when Elliot FINALLY stood his ground and ensured that Braden was the man at his side for all the world to see. Very sweet.

Interested? You can find OUT ON THE SERVE 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.

About the Narrator:
Michael Dean is originally from Chicago and currently based in New York City. He has performed around the country and the world on stage, television, and film. He studied acting at the University of Arizona and the University of Kansas City Missouri.

As a narrator, Michael has voiced over 450 titles for authors including Lucy Lennox, Sloane Kennedy, Lane Hayes, Devon McCormack, Riley Hart, Felice Stevens, Pandora Pine, Christina Lee, Susan Hawke, and many more. Learn more about Michael on his website.

Finding New Love in the ARCTIC WILD–A TBT Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a Throwback Thursday review for a contemporary M/M romance from Annabeth Albert. ARCTIC WILD is the second book in her Frozen Hearts series that feature men in the Alaskan wilderness finding their soulmates.

About the book:
When a plane crashes in the Alaskan wilderness, the best place to land is in the arms of a younger man…

Hotshot attorney Reuben Graham has finally agreed to take a vacation, when his plane suddenly plunges into the Alaskan wilderness.

Just his luck.

But his frustrations have only begun as he finds himself stranded with the injured, and superhot, pilot, a man who’s endearingly sociable—and much too young for Reuben to be wanting him this badly.

As the sole provider for his sisters and ailing father, Tobias Kooly is devastated to learn his injuries will prevent him from working or even making it back home. So when Reuben insists on giving him a place to recover, not even Toby’s pride can make him refuse. He’s never been tempted by a silver fox before, but something about Reuben is impossible to resist.

Recuperating in Reuben’s care is the last thing Toby expected, yet the closer they become, the more incredibly right it feels, prompting workaholic Reuben to question the life he’s been living. But when the pressure Toby’s under starts closing in, both men will have to decide if there’s room in their hearts for a love they never saw coming.

My Review:
Reuben Graham is approaching his 48th birthday–in 2 days!!–and prepping for an Alaskan adventure trip with his friends Craig and Letitia when he gets the news he’s going solo. It’s not ideal, but this bisexual attorney is well-traveled and unwilling to let down Craig, who’s urging him to go despite this unexpected drama.

He meets his guide, Tobias Kooly, in Anchorage, and it’s not a meet-cute, per se. Reuben is recently out of a relationship, and not generally panting after younger men–while Toby isn’t usually drawn toward silver “bears” but he can’t help noticing that Reuben is a big ol’ sexy dude.

Their trip together starts inauspiciously, with Toby and Reuben feeling the tension of being opposites in personality. Reuben is quiet and staid, while Toby is dramatic and personable–which suits him as a tour guide. Reuben’s also a little annoyed with his kinda interest in a younger man who seems to be interested in women, but Toby is bi, too, and they work that business out eventually. In the meantime, just as Reuben is getting used to flying in Toby’s tincan of a seaplane, they run into really treacherous weather and crash. The only reason they aren’t both dead is Toby’s heroic flying, and he’s significantly injured in the landing. Reuben, a total city-slicker, is tasked with keeping Toby alive until help can arrive, and the storm is complicating matters.

They’re rescued, but Reuben feels responsible to continue caring for Toby, who is the main support for his family. And, Reuben’s NYC life is kind of crumbling so he allows himself a time out, renting a house that suits both himself and Toby’s care. And, has enough space to bring his teen daughter, Amelia, out for a summer of unexpected reconnection.

The more Reuben lingers in Alaska, the more he realizes his life was passing him by. His situation with Toby is a huge reset, and it’s more welcome than he could have imagined. The age gap is a bit of a stumbling block, as Toby and Reuben realize this interlude is really developing into something more than a summer fling. There’s steamy sexy moments as well as realistic connection between the MCs, and it’s really endearing how Amelia takes to Toby, and counsels her dad to live his best life, for a change.

I really enjoyed the book, and it’s got me hankering for a vacation to Alaska.

Interested? You can find ARCTIC WILD on Goodreads, Carina Press, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo. I read a review copy provided via NetGalley.

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

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

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

Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!

Growing Up and Getting Past SWEET REVENGE–Review and Giveaway

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a new contemporary M/M romance from Tilly Keyes. SWEET REVENGE features a man returning to his hometown to spend time with his sister and niece and falling for the yummy local baker who happens to be dating a tormentor from his past.

Scroll down to catch an excerpt and enter to win a $10 GC.
About the book:
Riley’s not the scared, weak boy of years ago.

Strong, handsome, wealthy, and successful, he should be happy, but he’s not. He’s still tormented by the bullies of his school years, the cruelty he was subjected to. There’s only one way to silence those reverberating memories, and that’s revenge.

But while seeking it, he finds peace in the small village where he befriends Zac, the cake maker. Zac’s the first friend Riley’s had in decades, boyish and fun and, without a doubt, sweet. Feelings grow toward the cake maker, but his need for revenge still hovers in his mind.

When he discovers Zac secret, he wonders if revenge is really worth it with Zac in the crossfire.

How about a yummy taste?

Riley stared at the different bouquets of flowers, then groaned and rubbed his temple. Choosing flowers wasn’t supposed to be torturous. He reached for a bunch of yellow roses and stared at them long and hard. Roses were far too romantic, and it certainly wasn’t meant as a romantic gesture. He put them back and grabbed a bunch of white lilies while nodding. They looked nice, a bit droopy, a bit torn, but it was the thought that counted.

“Are you confessing your undying love or going to a funeral?”

Riley paused and turned to the woman beside him. The old lady clutched a woven bag to her chest and stared him down with her beady eyes. Her lips were framed by a mosaic of wrinkles, and she trembled slightly as she waited for a response.

“Neither…”

She hummed, stepping closer. Her hand closed around the lily stalks, and she pulled them from Riley’s hand. He wasn’t anticipating the strength and speed and was left clutching the air.

“Okay, then.”

“Lilies are what I expect to have at my grave,” she said, slotting them back in the flower stand.

Riley frowned. “That’s…that’s nice to know.”

“And roses are romantic, haven’t received roses in years. If it’s not meant as love, or condolence, what are you buying flowers for?”

“To say sorry, sorry for being a rubbish brother, and an even worse uncle.”

“Ah, well, there’s no tags on the flowers that say those exact words. Boy or girl?”

Riley looked down at himself, then back up at her. The woman rolled her eyes. “I didn’t mean you, did I?”

“No, of course not,” Riley said, scrunched his brow. “Girl, my niece. I’ve got a niece.”

“May I make a suggestion?”

“I’m sure you’re going to whether I say yes or no.”

The woman laughed, and her thin lips stretched in a smile. “Ditch the flower idea, alcohol is far better.”

“Alcohol?” Riley smirked.

“A bottle of whiskey, that was my favourite.”

Riley lifted his eyebrow. “Whiskey?”

She jabbed his bicep with her bony finger. “Don’t think I can’t drink you under the table.”

Riley rubbed his arm. “I 100 percent believe you could.”

“Good, now get to it.”

Her gaze followed him as he walked towards the cashier.

It was only a small village shop, and they kept all the alcohol behind the counter along with the medicines and cigarettes. Riley flicked his chin out at the man serving.

“What rose do you have?”

“We only have one, and it’s £3.99.”

Riley smiled tightly, nodding. “Guess that’ll do, then, can I have a box of those beers too?”

He didn’t particularly like Emily’s husband, but he couldn’t turn up without something for him too.

He paid and strolled out the shop, but a familiar croaking voice made him stop. He turned back to the woman and watched as she hobbled towards him.

Her thin lips tugged into a smile, and her pink cheeks looked fragile as it stretched. “Be a dear and help me cross the road.”

“Of course.”

Riley offered his arm for her to take and she latched on.

He led her across the road and once on the other side, released her arm. He looked down and noticed the flowers poking from her bag—white lilies. His mouth bobbed open as he thought of something to say, but she only waved him away.

“You’ve got something for your sister, but what about that niece of yours?”

Riley darted a look back to the shop, but a tapping sound had him turning back to the woman.

She knocked her frail knuckles against the window, and Riley looked inside the cake shop. He hadn’t been to the village for months, and the cake shop was definitely a new addition. The village shop barely stocked anything of use. There were boards covering the windows of the hair salon; the church looked haggard and crumbling. But the bakery gleamed, and the display he could see through the window was more at home in the posh areas of London.

Riley flashed a smile at the woman. “Thanks.”

She turned and waved over her shoulder.

Riley pushed inside the bakery, and immediately a sugary scent wrapped around him. He strolled up to the counter and admired the cake creations behind the Perspex shield. They were all identical and arranged in uniformed lines. Chocolate sponge, one that looked like lemon, and a pink one with a strawberry on top.

Riley looked up and craned his neck to see further into the bakery kitchen. There was no one inside, and he frowned, checking his watch. It was two o’clock, and he doubted the staff were still on break.

“Hello?”

Riley bunched his lips together and waited, but there was no reply. He turned, poised to go back to the shop, but the billboard caught his eye, and he moved towards it.

Adverts were nailed to the board, one asking for a tenant, one selling a wheelbarrow, and another an old sofa. They were scrawled in pen, and the pictures were black and white. Riley freed one of the pieces of paper and frowned. Not an advert, but a missing pet poster. Not a dog, or cat like he expected, but an African grey parrot.

“Who’s a pretty boy, then?”

Riley startled at the voice and pressed the poster to his chest. He flashed a look at the man behind the counter and laughed softly.

“You scared the hell outta me.”

The man blushed and bit his lip. “Yeah, I don’t know why I did that. I saw you with the poster, and it kinda popped into my head.”

“And out of your mouth.”

“Yeah.”

Riley repinned the poster and walked towards the counter. The man was younger, midtwenties at a guess. He swept his black hair back over his head and fixed his warm eyes to Riley’s. There was a flutter in Riley’s gut that unnerved him.

“So, they haven’t found the parrot?”

“Nope, that posters been up since I opened.”

“The bakery is yours?”

The man puffed up, not to shove his muscles in Riley’s face but to show him the apron smudged with chocolate. “Yeah, it’s mine.”

“This place is real nice.”

“Thank you, it doesn’t bring me much money, but I enjoy it.”

Riley frowned. “Not everything’s about money. Happiness is more important.”

The man smiled warmly, then stuck out his hand for Riley to take. “I’m Zac.”

“Riley.”

He frowned and looked down at their shaking hands when he felt stickiness. Zac glanced down, then up at Riley again.

“Well, that’s embarrassing.”

“Don’t worry about it.”

“Sorry for the wait, I was in the back, and I’m not strictly open right now.”

Riley darted a look back to the door and widened his eyes when he realised the shop was in fact closed.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t realise.”

Zac waved the comment away. “If I open all day, I’ll get overrun. I’ve got the breakfast pastries in the morning and the cakes and muffins in the afternoon.”

“You do this all by yourself?” Riley scanned all the cakes with wide eyes. There were so many it was hard to imagine one guy could do it all.

Zac ruffled his black hair with a tinge of embarrassment in his cheeks. “Yeah, I buy some stuff in and make the rest. My kitchen porter comes in at four and cleans everything up. He’s Dave—he’s a nice guy, but his taste in music is awful.”

“What does he listen to?”

“Very loud rock where you have no idea what the singer’s screaming about.”

“Ah,” Riley said, looking away.

Zac rocked back on his heels. “By that ‘Ah’ I’m guessing you’re a fan.”

“Maybe, maybe not.”

“So, Mr. Terrible-taste-in-music, what brings you here?”

“My sister, she lived in the village. I’ve been a bit of a crap brother recently, wanted to surprise her.”

Zac drew his eyebrows together. “What’s her name?”

“Emily Mathews.” Riley sighed.

It was a small village, but still with a population of a thousand or so—there was no way this man could know who she was.

“Ah. With little Maisy, right?”

Riley was rarely stunned, but it took an extended blink and a squeeze to the bridge of his nose before he could speak.

“Yeah, that’s right.”

“So, you’ve been a rubbish brother, then, and you want to make amends.”

“Something like that.”

My Review:
Riley is a grown man returning to his hometown in the UK (somewhere) to reconnect with his sister Emily and school-aged niece Maisy. He’d sold his business interests and took 6 months traveling to “find himself” and didn’t bother to check in so he’s in Emily’s bad books. Riley meets Zac, the new and talented local baker, while he’s buying a sweet treat for his surprise apology visit. Riley hates returning to his hometown because he was beaten and bullied from a young age, and he still suffers panic attacks thinking about his chief tormentor, a boy named Aaron. As the days pass, Zac and Riley hit it off, and Riley begins to feel a little more settled having a friend in town. Riley even takes the apartment above Zac’s rented shop, deciding to stay indefinitely to help Emily care for Maisy since her now ex-husband abandoned them.

Each day, Riley and Zac converse and share a coffee while Zac readies the shop. It’s a great friendship with subtle hints of maybe more until Zac confesses he has a wealthy boyfriend…named Aaron. Despite his misgivings, Riley continues to befriend Zac, and the confirmation that his tormentor is dating the man he’s crushing on still doesn’t derail this burgeoning friendship. At least, not until Aaron meets Riley, and then it’s old habits all over again.

This is an okay read. For myself I had struggles because I’m a detail-oriented person and I felt a distinct lack of the kind of details I usually enjoy. I like to know about the setting, and the ages of people, and roughly how they made their living. This story was all very generic about those sorts of things, which frustrated me, but may not be a big deal to another reader. I also wasn’t sure if there was a language issue, but it seemed like there were missing words in places, leaving me scrambling to intuit the context, at times. Not sure if this was because I had an advance copy, and those issues were cleaned up in the final edit–but it also bothered me. I grew tired of overlong patches of dialogue, too, where it carried too much of the plot. People do not converse in paragraphs…

Truly, however, the biggest issue I had was the “revenge” arc that was completely non-existent. Supposedly, Riley is going to take revenge on his biggest bully, the man whose very voice or presence STILL gives him panic attacks. Not once did he make any such plan. His whole plan was to AVOID Aaron at all costs. Only in the VERY end when Aaron was making physical threats did Riley make the jump–to protect someone other than himself. I really felt like Riley got a “sweet reward” by falling hard for Zac and having his love returned, versus getting revenge. It’s an otherwise breezy romance.

Interested? You can find SWEET REVENGE on Goodreads, NineStar Press, 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:
Tilly lives in a small village in the UK, surrounded by fields, and meadows.

By day, she’s looks after her two lively boys, but by night…she’s usually asleep, too exhausted to write, but sometimes she gets lucky, sometimes she settles down with a nice cup of tea and sinks into a story.

She hopes you enjoy them.

You can catch up to Tilly via email: tillykeyesauthor (at) outlook (dot) com

Adulting Pressures OUT ON THE SERVE–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 SERVE is the seventh book in her Out in College series, and features a newly pro volleyball player falling hard for his new roommate. Catch my reviews for OUT IN THE DEEP END, OUT IN THE END ZONE, OUT IN THE OFFENSE, OUT ON THE ICE and OUT IN SPRING 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:
Roommates to friends to lovers…
Elliot:
I need a roommate fast. Even a temporary one. Beggars can’t be choosers. Going pro after graduation has been intense, and time is precious. Thankfully, Braden seems cool. He’s a little quirky…and very sexy. Of course, I would never get involved with a roommate. That’s a bad idea. Isn’t it?

Braden:
Moving to Long Beach seems like a no brainer. It’ll be a perfect chance to wind down before grad school and a nice respite from my folks. Plus, my new roommate is a great guy. A little messy, but sweet. Gotta admit, I like him more than I should. And we’re off to a strange start when a mutual friend hooks me up with his ex. Elliot’s the one I want, but going from friends to lovers is a risk. We could end up out on the serve…or we could win it all.

Out on the Serve is a low-angst MM, bisexual romance starring two roommates, one neat, one messy, beach volleyball, a lot of sand, and a little summer fun. This story is part of the Out in College series but can be read as a stand-alone.

How about a yummy taste?

Ten minutes later, I tied a towel around my waist and opened the bathroom door to release some steam just as Braden opened his bedroom door.
It might have been my imagination or wishful thinking, but I could have sworn he eye-fucked me before he met my gaze.
“Mornin’,” I said in a raspy voice.
“Good morning.”
“How’d you sleep?”
“Pretty good. Are you going to the beach today?” he asked awkwardly.
“Yeah. I’m leaving soon.”
“Hmm. I heard the swell is huge,” he said in a fast, clipped tone.
I crossed my arms and leaned against the doorjamb. “Yeah, I heard that too. There’s some big storm off the coast of Mexico.”
“Right.”
“Want to come with me?”
“To Mexico?”
I barked a laugh. “No, dork. To the beach.”
Braden chuckled. “Believe it or not, I’m going to the theater. Sophie talked me into trying out the assistant gig. Hopefully, it’ll keep me out of trouble.”
And there was the opening I needed. I wasn’t sure how to word it, though. The hint of unease between us told me that I should proceed with caution. We had to be on the same page and willing to try something new and—fuck. My window of opportunity was closing. Braden’s cheeks reddened as he mumbled a good-bye.
I grabbed his wrist before he closed his door, ignoring the spark and sizzle that zipped along my spine. “Hang on…thank you.”
“For what?”
“The cereal.”
“Oh.” He let out a half laugh and yes…his face went a shade pinker. Fuck, that was both cute and hot at the same time. “It was silly.”
“I love silly. I’m a huge fan of all things ridiculous. Ask anyone.”
“I believe you.”
“Good. So…let’s agree that this doesn’t have to be weird. We’re grown adults. Well, you are anyway. We can call it a celebratory kiss if you want and move on. What d’ya say?”
“Yes, okay. I’m—I’m sorry about”—he circled his wrist meaningfully—“everything. I overreacted.”
“You mean the part when you yelled at me for getting sand on the floor? I forgive you.”
“No, I was serious about that part.”
“I know. But don’t worry about the other thing. Boners happen.”
Braden sputtered. “I did not have a boner.”
“Liar. We both did. Might have been your mom’s fudge,” I teased.
“You think my mother’s homemade fudge gave you a hard-on,” he repeated incredulously.
“Dude, chocolate totally gives me wood. Or maybe she added a chemical substance that made us too relaxed.”
“Like what?”
“I don’t know…weed?”
Braden snickered. “Unlikely. My mom is very proper. I don’t think she even knows what weed looks like.”
“Hmm. You seem kind of proper too. Do you take after her?”
“Maybe, but I know what weed looks like,” he assured me. “My roommate in the dorms my freshman year was very fond of the stuff. We didn’t get along at all. He was a total—”
“Slob?” I supplied, quirking my brows.
“Yeah.” He shrugged carelessly. “I was probably overbearing, but in my defense, I come from a super rigid household. I’m an only child, and I was sick a lot when I was little. I had colic and sensitivity issues. I’d break out in rashes if I was in the sun for five minutes or if I ate citrus. My asthma was off the charts. I had a nebulizer at home, and I carried inhalers everywhere I went.”
“That’s a lot of information,” I said with a laugh.
He winced, then sucked in a deep breath. “Sorry. I don’t know what’s wrong with me. My geek is showing.”
“Ha. Nothing wrong with that. You like me, eh?”
Braden chuckled. Like I’d hoped he would. “What makes you think that?”
“You kissed me. Twice. We might as well get married and pick out His and His towels. Thoughts?”
“Great idea. Just don’t tell my mom. She’d have a heart attack. She was already worried I’d moved in with you because you were my…”
“Boyfriend,” I supplied.
“Yeah, except she has a hard time saying that word, so it comes out in a strained whisper like…boyfriend.” Braden modulated his voice to sound like a scared woman. He grinned when I busted up laughing, and I could have sworn a ray of sunshine burst through the wall of our apartment.

My Review:
Elliot has just graduated from Long Beach State and begun his career as a pro volleyball player. He’s bisexual, and open about it with his accepting friends and family, having just gotten over a breakup with Drew. Before that he dated Anna for a few years. They’re still friends, but Elliot is working on adulting. That’s why his current roommate, Sophie, is moving out. Sophie is an actress and has had a long-standing and unrequited crush on Elliot for years now. When he made it clear that they would only be friends, she decided to move out ASAP cajoling a friend, Braden, to take her sublease. We have met Elliot and Sophie before. Elliot was living with Colby Fischer (OUT ON THE ICE) before Sophie moved in and Sophie is a dear friend to Phoenix (OUT IN THE FIELD). Elliot is immediately attracted to Braden, who is a volleyball player he knew graduating from nearby Chilton College.

Braden is beginning grad school at UCLA in the fall, and is looking to live anywhere but home with his religious s-mother. He has one year of NCAA eligibility left, and he’s set to join UCLA’s team, but this summer he’s all about Shakespeare. He’s a finance guy with a love for theater, how he met and befriended Sophie. They have both auditioned for a summer Shakespeare play, and Braden’s using this experience to convince his mom he can be out on his own, instead of returning to their home for the summer. Plus, Braden is totally attracted to his new roomie, Elliot, even though Elliot is a total slob, and pretty hopeless in the housekeeping/adulting skills zone. When the play kind of falls through, Braden find himself spending more time with Elliot–who’s receptive to his needs for cleanliness and order–playing volleyball and hanging out.

And, that’s when the sexytimes begin.

This is a low-angst New Adult sports romance with a fair amount of sexytimes and a sweet connection story. Elliot’s pro partner is a smarmy wheeler-dealer, and he gets Sophie involved in crafting their social media–with off-court twists, like setting him up with Anna, Elliot’s ex. And, maybe, setting Elliot back up with…Drew? He really ants to play up the Rainbow angle, while Elliot just wants to play hard. There’s a lot of awkward going on, especially when Braden’s mom won’t get that he’s bisexual–no matter how many times he’s stated it as fact.

Both Braden and Elliot think the connection between them will end when the summer does, and Braden moves on, but what if it didn’t have to be that way? What if they decided to stay together as long as they like? It’s a no-brainer situation, since it requires so little alterations to their original plans. I liked how these guys took charge of their situations and had the conversations necessary to bring happiness into their lives on the regular. Sweet and sexy!

Interested? You can find OUT ON THE SERVE 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.

Brothers Find A WAY WITH Love–Audiobooks Review and Giveaway

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for two New Adult M/M audiobook romances from Lane Hayes. A WAY WITH WORDS and A WAY WITH YOU feature brothers Remy and Reeve Nelson finding love in the Big Apple.

Scroll down to enter to win a $25 Amazon gift card.
About A WAY WITH WORDS:
Tony De Luca is a simple guy. He works for his uncle’s Brooklyn-based construction firm. And he knows from experience that keeping his head down and doing his job is the best way to deal with the meddlesome family members he sees daily. They think he’s quiet and, maybe, a little awkward, but the truth is more complicated. Tony has a secret he isn’t ready or willing to share. He’s an expert at avoiding familial scrutiny. At least, he was until the sexy guitar player showed up.

Remy Nelson is a small-town, free-spirited guy looking for a new life in the big city. He stays busy by playing his instrument on a busy Manhattan street corner during the day and bartending at night. Remy is more interested in finding steady employment than a mate, but he can’t deny his attraction to the dreamy construction worker with soulful eyes, a kind heart, and a unique way with words.

Falling for Remy wasn’t what Tony expected, but he knows keeping him will require courage. And truth.

About A WAY WITH YOU:
Reeve Nelson is determined to make it in Manhattan. He’s hardworking, dedicated and willing to put in the extra hours required to be successful at his new job at a prestigious real estate firm in the city. There’s no way he’s going back to small-town living and an ex-girlfriend who won’t let go. But his boss isn’t making it easy.

Leo Rodriguez enjoys his reputation as a ruthless businessman. He’s a lone wolf who’s scraped his way from the gutter to rebuild his life and launch a distinguished career on his terms. When an opportunity to expand in the market comes up, Leo wants the eager new agent with a sense of wonder on the project. But nothing goes quite as planned. Reeve expected to be intimidated and overwhelmed by Leo, however, the explosive mutual attraction and fierce desire between them is a big surprise. Neither man is looking for love and yet, something special just might happen if they can find their way…together.

My Review:
I listened to the audiobooks so if I misspell names I’m doing my best, y’all!

First off, the audiobooks total out at about 5.5 hours, for both stories. I thought this might be too short, not enough time for the stories to develop, but I think they were both sufficient, if succinct.

The stories begin with A WAY WITH WORDS, where construction worker Tony De Luca finally admits that he’s gay, because he falls hard for Remy Nelson, a bartender, busker and music teacher by trade. Tony narrates his story which is filled with a lot of angst over his closeted state. Tony is nearly 30 and his big and intrusive Italian family want his settled down and married ASAP. Tony’s dad died a year ago, and his sudden loss has amped up the pressure Tony feels. And the guilt, because Tony knows he’s gay, and is terrified his family will not accept him if he comes out. He works for and with family, and if they shun him, he’d be out of a job and a family in one go. He’s nice to the ladies his family trots out to woo him, but he’s never going to fall for any of them–and he’s frustrated to be in this high-pressure situation. This only gets worse when Tony meets Remy playing in the park.

Remy is so light and airy compared to the dark De Luca’s, and he’s engaging both Tony’s interest and emotions. The music really speaks to Tony, who often feels tongue-tied. He’s a good Italian boy, though, and he knows that feeding a man well will pique his interest, so he starts bringing extra lunch to entice Remy to spend some time chatting when he’s on his lunch break in the park. The more time they spend, the more Tony feels inadequate for not being honest with his family. When they keep pushing “Canoli Karen” on him, though he finally makes the stand hes feared for so long–and life gets only better from there.

Lots of sexytimes, and sweet and earnest conversation lead these two into making their way with and without words.

Remy’s older brother Reeve has recently moved to Manhattan to build a new realty business. He’d been living with a woman for the past two years, a fellow realtor back in their small hometown in upstate New York, however she cheated on him, and he left for a new life, new enterprise. Reeve has been hired by a prestigious realty firm, but he’s not really getting his bearings. His direct boss, Leo Rodriguez, is a heavyweight in NYC realty, having his own house shoe on local cable. He’s also demanding, and wanting to expand the TV presence, which is something he wants Reeve to work on. And, it doesn’t quite work out–their big office blow up ends in some NSFW sexytimes in Leo’s office.

And Reeve looking for a new position.

Leo doess’t want him to go, and he surely doesn’t want him to get away. Leo’s been attempting to hide his sexuality from his bigoted family for years–with some limited success, but now he’s on his own and he’s ready to live his truth. Would Reeve be the man who makes life a partnership?

This one moves a LITTLE faster than Remy and Tony’s story, but we have a lot of Remy and Tony in it to grease the skids. Also, the boss-employee dynamic lends itself for physical before emotional entanglement. That said, it’s clear the Reeve is crazy for Leo, and the feelings are mutual. Also, both men have to get over their misconceptions about romance and partnerships–because they’ve been burned a bit in the past. It’s a sweet and sexy story and I really enjoyed the interplay between them.

The narrator does a great job of carrying the Brooklyn accents of Tony’s family, the upstate inflections of Remy and Reeve, as well as Leo’s subtlely accented Spanish/Philly voice. The pacing was great, with lots of description that all played into the characters’ growth. I loved the angst of Tony, the wholeheartedness of Remy and the jaded parts of Reeve and Leo. They all work well, and their voices were easily discerned in my head. It’s a great duology, and I would be happy to listen to both stories repeatedly.

Interested? You can find A WAY WITH WORDS on Goodreads and A WAY WITH YOU on Goodreads. The two-book deal is available on Amazon or on audiobook on 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.

About the Narrator:
Alexander Cendese is a New York–based actor and narrator. He has performed on Broadway (A View from the Bridge) and in regional theater, and has narrated numerous audiobooks. His television and film credits include the CW’s Beauty and the Beast, Best Man in the Dark, and Catskill Park.

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.