Smoothing the Kinks in THREE PLAYER GAME-A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a newly-released contemporary M/M menage romance from Jaime Samms. THREE PLAYER GAME features some of the characters featured in HOW THE COOKIE CRUMBLES, also by Samms. Both books are set in the Bluewater Bay universe, like ALL WHEEL DRIVE and GET A GRIP. 3PG features a couple who practice a bit of light BDSM looking for a third, and convincing him they need him as much as he needs them.

About the book:
Vince’s life has improved immeasurably since he moved to Bluewater Bay two years ago. He’s gone from working for a man he hated, to helping found a company he believes in. And he and boyfriend, Pete, have built a delicate balance of power between them that keeps them both grounded and thriving.

Almost, anyway.

Pete’s job on the set of Wolf’s Landing is demanding. He needs lots of downtime off set, and that’s where Vince’s firm but gentle control isn’t always enough. And for Vince, Pete’s constant high-energy needs are turning out to be more than he can handle alone.

It’s no surprise to either of them, then, that sparks fly when Vince’s coworker Lee enters the picture. Outwardly, Lee is tough and confident, but when a bad back confines him to Pete and Vince’s spare room, the cracks start to show and his desire for connection begins to peek through.

Pete and Vince both like what they see under Lee’s prickly outside, but now the three men must learn that love isn’t about beating the game—it’s about balance, trust, and letting each other in.

My Review:
Vince and Lee are co-workers for a newly-formed company that’s planning to make a videogame about Wolf’s Landing. The two of them came to work for Blaire Caruthers. Blaire’s father was an overbearing prick, and they are all glad to be rid of him. Plus, Vince is dating a director’s assistant on the set of Wolf’s Landing, Pete, who is willing to direct some scenes they can use in the rendering of the video game. It seems they have an inside track on this plan, and life is finally going well for Vince–and mostly Lee. Well, Lee suffers from a chronic back injury. He’s laid up in a Vancouver hotel with a flare-up, and being cared for by Vince when the book opens.

Vince has long thought Lee was attractive, but he’s with Pete, and that’s totally cool. In fact, it’s a great partnership. Pete has a stress-filled job on the TV show set, and he struggles to relax in his off hours. Vince’s firm hand and creative loving calm Pete’s manic beast. That said, it’s a lot of stress on Vince, and he’s getting a bit worn from caring for Pete’s emotional and sexual needs. They are fully aware of this, and have been considering asking another man to join them; both Pete and Vince are attracted to Lee, but nervous about approaching him. Lee’s need for care as he recovers from his back troubles seems a perfect fit for their cozy cottage–and lifestyle. One huge snag, Lee’s back was originally injured by a careless Dom, and he wants no more kink in his life.

However, the longer Lee spends with Pete and Vince, the more he comes to realize how very lonely he is in Bluewater Bay. And how bonding with VInce and Pete, only to have them someday move on and leave him behind, could be too crushing to manage.

I liked this one. I’m a fan of poly relationships in fiction, and this one had an interesting spin, for me. The purported triad wasn’t necessarily all about attraction. Vince and Pete had deep needs in their relationship that weren’t being completely met. They are really invested in one another, and want to satisfy the other, too, but there are strains. Pete is a health-mind-body type of guy, and needs a place for balance. When his schedule is thrown off, it can take Vince hours and hours to calm him, and get him to re-center. He knows this is a challenge most men wouldn’t take on, and he loves Vince for all his care, which is by turns tender and kinky. Expect some bondage and light BDSM.

Lee is afraid to engage in kink, to be that vulnerable again, but Pete and Vince are excellent at caring for him. It’s unsettling how cherished they make him feel. Yet, he struggles with Vince, who was the previous office lackey, being dominant at home. Lee’s conflicts in the work place become petty, and illustrate how immature Lee has acted in relationships during adulthood. It’s only once he walks out that he recognizes all he’s given up–and wants back. The sexytimes aren’t burn the sheets up steamy, but they are engaging nonetheless. The power plays and dynamics of navigating a kink-laced, three-way love fest are always tricky. That said, these scenes add a lot of tender moments to a story line already brimming with compassion and self-sacrifice.

Interested? You can find THREE PLAYER GAME on Goodreads, Riptide Books, Amazon, Barnes & Noble iBooks and Kobo. I received a review copy of this book via NetGalley.

About the Author: in Jaime Samms’ words…
With most of the hours in the day taken up by a part time job and the full time occupation of raising and schooling two kids, writing is somewhat of an indulgence, but it’s the indulgences that keep us sane, right? When not otherwise occupied, like most writers, reading is my relaxation method of choice, and you can find my reviews at Kuriousity.com and Dark Diva Reviews to let you know what I liked (and occasionally, what I didn’t). And just in case there are an extra few minutes in the day, I also help out the admin team abelong to a writer’s critique group: Dreaming in Ink. After all, idle hands and all that.

Catch up with Jaime online here: website | blog | Facebook | twitter.

Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends!

True Love? GET A GRIP-A Review

Hi there! Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a newly-published M/M romance from L.A. Witt. Get A Grip is part of the Bluewater Bay series, but totally enjoyable as a standalone. I really enjoyed RAIN SHADOW, also part of the series by LA Witt.

About the book:
If a tree falls in Bluewater Bay . . . could it be fate?
A year after his divorce, Shane Andrews isn’t interested in dating—not that he has time, between three kids and a demanding job as a grip. When a windstorm knocks a tree onto one of the Wolf’s Landing soundstages, Shane’s there to help with the mess . . . and so is firefighter Aaron Tucker.

A former smoke jumper, Aaron’s an adrenaline junkie and way too restless and reckless to be relationship material. As far as he’s concerned, monogamy is for penguins, and he’d rather be alone than tied down. Signing up to be a stepparent? No, thank you.

But after a scorching-hot night together, they’re hooked. Aaron is a taste of the excitement Shane’s been lacking, and Shane’s pushing buttons Aaron didn’t know he had. The more they’re together, the less Aaron craves wild nights with other men . . . but the more Shane wants to play the field like he never got to in his twenties.

This could be the love neither man knew he needed, but only if Shane gets his feet back on the ground before Aaron walks away.

My Review:
Shane is a twice-divorced bisexual father of three kids. He’s tight with his previous ex, Leo, who still acts as stepfather to the kids, though non of them are his blood. (COOL GUY!!) Shane’s been celibate for over a year when he meets Aaron on the Wolf’s Landing set following a big storm that sent a tree crashing into the production studio. Aaron’s an experienced firefighter who volunteers on Bluewater Bay’s crew.

He’s also forty-six, and down for anything.

Aaron and Shane hook up like a wildfire devours a countryside–their chemistry is white hot. But, Shane’s not good at casual sex, and Aaron’s not really interested in a commitment. Or so they think. I liked the way these guys let themselves simply be, for a while. Aaron’s promising no-strings sexytimes fun, what Shane totally missed out on becoming a father so young in life. They have grand plans to be super adventurous, and those fall through. The upside is, they still have each other, and they like it that way.

Both Aaron and Shane try to talk themselves out of taking this relationship into the serious side, but neither of them can stop the progression they are making. There’s room for mistakes, and making up for the missteps. I loved watching it all unfold, and well, there are a good number os yummy sexytimes, so…bonus points! The end is sweet and tender. I appreciated Aaron’s hurt, and Shane’s willingness to make it right. Brought me in mind of “You had me at hello” and that was lovely.

I also liked that these guys are a little older, and have some struggles acting like kids on the prowl. They are good with the self-deprecation on that score. It’s a yummy-sexy-sweet read and I’d recommend it.

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

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

Visit her website, Facebook, and twitter.

Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends!

The Future Holds NO SMALL PARTS-A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a recent release in the Bluewater Bay M/M romance series by Ally Blue. NO SMALL PARTS is a bittersweet, low conflict romance between a bisexual extra and a wanna-be-director production assistant. I really liked it. Like LONE WOLF, RAIN SHADOW and SELFIE in this series, the characters are directly part of the Wolf’s Landing cast or crew. For me it’s always fun to reconnect with that part of this fictional universe.

no-small-partsAbout the book:
Nat Horn is almost living the dream. His part as a werewolf extra on the hit show Wolf’s Landing has somehow turned into a regular role. Beautiful rising star Solari Praveen has taken an interest in him. He’s even making enough money to think about getting out of Bluewater Bay someday. Except his retired dad’s dependence on pain medications seems to be getting worse, and Nat’s the only one around to take care of him.

When Nat learns that Solari’s interest isn’t romantic, his disappointment is surprisingly short-lived, because in getting to know her, he also got to know her assistant, Rafael. And Rafael turns out to be the kind of friend—and potential boyfriend—Nat never dared to dream about.

Distracted by his astonishing new life, new friends, and new possibilities, Nat lets his guard down, and suddenly his life goes careening out of control. Racked by guilt, he tries to push his new friends away, but the bonds he’s formed are already too strong. In fact, they’re strong enough to pull him forward, into the future he’s been longing for—but to get there, he’ll have to let go of the past.

My Review:
Nat Horn is a Bluewater Bay native who’s returned to town to help care for his disabled father. While there he got cast as an extra on the hit TV show Wolf’s Landing as one of the wolf pack members. He’s barely making ends meet, between his acting and helping on his uncle’s fishing boat, but most of the resources are used to pay for his father’s pain medicine–to which his dad has become addicted. Nat feels lonely and guilty, by turns. He loves his father, but he doesn’t love the addict. Plus, he’s bitter that no one will help him care for his dad–not his uncle or his sister, who both wrote his dad off years ago.

Nat gets invited out by one of the stars on the show, Solari. Solari’s assistant, Rafael is frustrated by this, because Rafael finds Nat completely attractive–and Rafael knows that Solaris’ a lesbian in a closeted relationship with a woman who has been pressuring Solari to come out. Rafael thinks it’s wrong for Solari to string Nat along, and he says so–to both Nat and Solari. Nat’s a bit bummed because he had a solid crush on Solari, however, spending time with her actually cures that crush fast; they get along like brother and sister, having no spark. Meanwhile Nat and Rafael have sparks a-flying. As their personal lives get more entwined, Nat’s even more frustrated with his father, who’s always dismissed his bisexuality, and urged him to only date women.

Just as Nat’s professional life is going great–he’s offered some lines on the show that boosts his income enough to pay for caregivers–he’s facing more emotional challenges. His dad’s health is deteriorating, and hits a serious crisis point. Nat has felt alone for so long, but Rafael is there, and so is Solari and others of his WL “family.” I thought that was really special, and the sad bits are nicely softened by this outpouring of love for Nat. Rafael is a good partner, and he’s got big plans for Nat and himself, that include a side project for a movie and a shiny new future. If only Nat will let himself embrace all these good opportunities. There’s a bit of hard times there, but not too much. I felt Nat’s guilt was understandable, and the circumstances of his father’s decline were avoidable, but not really in Nat’s power. He was a good son, and a did his best to make sure his dad was safe. Sometimes it’s too late to help people–and that’s not a personal failing, as Nat had to learn the hard way.

There’s a little bit of sexytimes, and a sweet and tender friendship-turned-more in store. Expect sad times, too, and for Nat to waffle regarding his grief and his open future–though he doesn’t have to go it alone any longer.

Interested? You can find NO SMALL PARTS on Goodreads, Riptide Publishing, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and AllRomance. I received a review copy of this book via NetGalley.

About the Author:
Ally Blue is acknowledged by the world at large (or at least by her heroes, who tend to suffer a lot) as the Popess of Gay Angst. She has a great big suggestively-shaped hat and rides in a bullet-proof Plexiglas bubble in Christmas parades. Her harem of manwhores does double duty as bodyguards and inspirational entertainment. Her favorite band is Radiohead, her favorite color is lime green and her favorite way to waste a perfectly good Saturday is to watch all three extended version LOTR movies in a row. Her ultimate dream is to one day ditch the evil day job and support the family on manlove alone. She is not a hippie or a brain surgeon, no matter what her kids’ friends say.

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

Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends!

Captivated by SELFIE–A Review

Hi there! Today I want to share a bit of the review I wrote for Joyfully Jay of a new contemporary M/M romance by Amy Lane. SELFIE is one of the Bluewater Bay books and, like THE DEEP OF THE SOUND, it packs an emotional punch that knocked me over.

Selfie (Bluewater Bay, #13)About the book:
One year ago, actor Connor Montgomery lost the love of his life to a drunk driver. But what’s worse for Connor is what he still has: a lifetime of secrets born of hiding his relationship from the glare of Hollywood. Unable to let go of the world he and Vinnie shared, Connor films a drunken YouTube confession on the anniversary of Vinnie’s death.

Thankfully, the video was silent—a familiar state for Connor—so his secret is still safe. He needs a fresh start, and a new role on the hit TV show Wolf’s Landing might be just that.

The move to Bluewater Bay may also mean a second chance in the form of his studio-assigned assistant. Noah Dakers sees through Connor’s facades more quickly than Connor could imagine. Noah’s quiet strength and sarcastic companionship offers Connor a chance at love that Hollywood’s closet has never allowed. But to accept it, Connor must let Vinnie go and learn to live again.

My Review:
Some highlights from my review, which can be read in it’s entirety on Joyfully Jay Reviews….

This is the 13th book set in the Bluewater Bay world, and they are designed to be enjoyed as standalones. I’ve read ten or so, and while some characters come in and out of many books, each one relates a new love story. Selfie is about a popular movie star’s steep drop into the abyss of grief-ravaged depression, and the hard slog into emotional well-being and second love.

This is what I have learned: Amy Lane doesn’t write books, she writes literary heroin. I must plan an early start when I get her books because I cannot close the book and go on about my day/night without knowing how her characters survive their story. My hubs will attest, I’m a bit of a snappish basket-case while I devour the ups and downs and dangerous plummets into overwhelming feels, despite knowing an HEA will arrive, but only after I’ve survived the terror and exhilaration of riding the roller coaster forward, backward, and unbelted.

Without Noah’s presence, Connor would easily drift into the mental wilderness he inhabited in the year of grief, a year of physical and temporal wasting. Connor still speaks to Vinnie in his head, making choices that he thinks will benefit Vinnie. This preoccupation is disastrous, and leads to several crises, but Noah is able to pull Connor back from the brink each time, thankfully. Their courtship isn’t sensual; it’s liberating and affirming. It gives Connor hope, and replaces the emptiness of his previous relationship.

It’s an HEA, but wow! It takes some real serious work to get there, for Noah and Connor. They are great guys who deserve happiness, and I was sur glad they got it.

Interested? You can find SELFIE on Goodreads, Riptide Books, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and AllRomance.

About the Author:

Amy Lane dodges an EDJ, mothers four children, and writes the occasional book. She, her brood, and her beloved mate, Mack, live in a crumbling mortgage in Citrus Heights, California, which is riddled with spiders, cats, and more than its share of fancy and weirdness.

Feel free to visit her website, blog, or on twitter and Facebook where she will ride the buzz of receiving your e-mail until her head swells and she can no longer leave the house.

Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!

Mad Love–HOW THE COOKIE CRUMBLES–A Review

Hi there! Wishing a Happy Book Birthday to HOW THE COOKIE CRUMBLES by Jaime Samms. This contemporary M/M Romance is part of the Bluewater Bay series (Lone Wolf, Wedding Favors, Rain Shadow) but can be enjoyed on its own. COOKIE features a baker who was wronged in a reality TV show, trying to make a fresh start in Bluewater Bay, and having a hard time refusing to help his homophobic, terminally ill, alcoholic father…

How the Cookie Crumbles (Bluewater Bay, #12)About the book:

Frederic is a twenty-ish y/o man who is starting his life over again in Bluewater Bay. He’d recently competed in a reality cooking contest program and seemed a favorite to win the big prize, and perhaps the heart of one of the sponsors/judges, Blaire Carruthers, but that all bottomed out when one of the other contestants, Jerry, interfered. He turned Blaire’s head, and got the votes and the guy. The scandal that was close to breaking was settled between Frederic and Blaire’s overbearing, homophobic father for $500K. Frederic used it to pay for a fixer-upper bakery in Bluewater Bay, and goodness knows how many medical bills and IOUs of his alcoholic, ill, homophobic father.

Now Frederic works tirelessly at his fledgling bakery to pay the bills and answer further demand for cash from his good-for-nothin’ POS demon-spawn of a dear ol’ dad. He’s startled one day by Blaire’s unexpected and unwanted appearance at the bakery. Blaine, it seems, has had a full change of heart, regarding Jerry, and wants to make amends to Frederic, for abusing his trust and letting him down–by rigging the contest in Jerry’s favor. Frederic wants nothing to do with Blaire–who frankly makes a nuisance of himself by moving to Bluewater Bay and doing a bit of low-level stalking to catch Frederic whenever he’s in need of a little boost. He sees how hard Frederic works, and assumes he needs money, so he arranges a complicated scheme to drum up business for Frederic’s bakery, causing a spiral of near-constant work that has dire consequences for Frederic’s health.

Okay, so this book is a good read. Not as upbeat as others in the series. Both guys have a rough family history, even Blaire who’s always had enough money has never had love or approval from his father. Blaire really had affection for Frederic, and hopes against hope that he can get Frederic to give him another chance. Frederic has serious trust issues, but is a forgiveness machine, especially for people who generally do not deserve it. Though, I will admit that Blaire works hard for his approval. He takes care of Frederic, in both genuine and misguided ways, but this is all to the good, for it brings Frederic back…sometimes.

This is book low on sexytimes. For the length, there are few (3-4) scenes of lovin’ and many scenes of fighting, not the best mix for me, though some might favor that approach. Also, I struggled a little with the verbiage as there were turns of phrase that more suited the British English–and these are East Coast boys through and through. Most troubling for me, however, was the pace. Again, with so little page time devoted to the romance, the bulk of the story was fighting, illness, and dealing with depressing family problems. I wanted more heat, and less hate. That said, if the book was this long and had 18 smoking hot sexytime scenes, I wouldn’t be frustrated with the slow almost-burn of the plot. This is an enemies-to-lovers plot, but without the incendiary passion that often accompanies those types of stories. Blaire almost immediately went into caretaker mode, and Frederic needed lots of caretaking–so they were more psuedo-enemies in a hurt/comfort scenario. When there was sexytimes there was a hint of kink, a bit of pain for Frederic and a bit of dominance for Blaire.

I consider this an HEA. The characters work through their issues and have a definite plan to stay together. It’s definitely a 3.5 star read, but maybe a 4.

Interested? You can find HOW THE COOKIE CRUMBLES on Goodreads, Riptide Books, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and AllRomance. I received a review copy of this book via NetGalley.

About the Author: in Jaime Samms’ words…
With most of the hours in the day taken up by a part time job and the full time occupation of raising and schooling two kids, writing is somewhat of an indulgence, but it’s the indulgences that keep us sane, right? When not otherwise occupied, like most writers, reading is my relaxation method of choice, and you can find my reviews at Kuriousity.com and Dark Diva Reviews to let you know what I liked (and occasionally, what I didn’t). And just in case there are an extra few minutes in the day, I also help out the admin team abelong to a writer’s critique group: Dreaming in Ink. After all, idle hands and all that.

Catch up with Jaime online here: website | blog | Facebook | twitter.

Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends!

Hidden in the RAIN SHADOW–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a newly published episode in the Bluewater Bay series. RAIN SHADOW by LA Witt is an adult, M/M contemporary romance that features mature men finding love even if they don’t want to… I’ve enjoyed many books in this series, including LONE WOLF and WEDDING FAVORS. While all the books take place in the Bluewater Bay universe, they are all able to be enjoyed as standalones.

Rain Shadow (Bluewater Bay, #10)About the book:
Jeremy Rose came to Bluewater Bay to work as Anna Maxwell’s bodyguard, not to escape his increasingly bitter relationship with his estranged kids. He just wants to focus on his job and be alone for a while. He’s done with love, especially now that three years after his long overdue divorce, he’s got a front-row seat to the rapid deterioration between Anna and her girlfriend. Cynical doesn’t even begin to describe him.

Then Anna and Leigh’s attempts to reconcile put him in the crosshairs of marriage counselor Scott Fletcher. Scott’s exactly what Jeremy needs right now: gorgeous, hot, horny, single, and 100% uninterested in a relationship. The problem is, too much no-strings-attached sex—and too much time in each other’s company—inevitably builds emotional connection.

Except Jeremy refuses to seek counseling for his broken family, and Scott refuses to get seriously involved with men who work dangerous jobs. They both need to realize they can only hide for so long from the pain they came here to escape. They must face their pasts before they lose their shot at a happy future.

My Review:

This is part of the Bluewater Bay series, but can be fully enjoyed as a standalone.

Jeremy is a 40ish man who recently
1. Came out of the closet
2. Divorced his wife of 15+ years
3. Moved to Bluewater Bay to give his family space, and work as a private security detail to the Wolf’s Landing film crew.

In particular, Jeremy is the main protector for one of the show’s director/producers: Anna. Anna and her live-in girlfriend Leigh have a rocky relationship, and are in counseling which is hard for Jeremy to experience. He spent years in couples therapy after coming out, trying to make the marriage work “for the kids’ sake”

News flash: It didn’t work, and Jeremy’s convinced that counseling is a waste of time and money. He want’s nothing to do with relationships now, or ever, partly because his kids are having SERIOUS problems with dad being gay.

He meets silver fox Scott while he escorts Anna and Leigh on one of their “togetherness outings”. Jeremy senses an attraction, but fails to get Scott’s contact info. Imagine his frustration to learn that Scott is a marriage and family counselor at the same clinic where Anna and Leigh seek advice. Scott’s tentative with Jeremy when he learns he’s in security–Scott’s one and only love was a cop killed in the line of duty.

These mature men embark on a no-strings sexual extravaganza, all the while sliding headfirst into Relationshipville. Neither wants to admit it, and neither wants to let it go, but the animosity that each feels for the other’s job is problematic. Scott wants to counsel Jeremy on his family troubles, and Jeremy wants to assure Scott he’s safe in his security duties.

They have struggles. Part of this is not having a healthy communication. Also, Jeremy’s daughter, particularly, doesn’t help. She’s a serious brat. Unfortunately, remembering my own kids in their teens brings back nightmares of that combativeness, so she’s got some authenticity in my read. I think Jeremy and his ex gave her too much power, however. Jeremy seems bent on weaving himself a hairshirt to wear regarding his late coming out, and being a closeted gay man married to a woman. And Scott is not as understanding as I’d like, for a counselor. For mature men, they make some juvenile decisions. Scott’s ultimatum to Jeremy: counseling or else, was completely uncalled-for and jarring due to poor foreshadowing.

That said, there’s lots to be enjoyed in the sexytimes. I love mature men finding love, and this book has that, as well. I admired the amiable relationship between Jeremy and his ex; that was pleasant. The book ends a little shy of an HEA, but it’s implied. So…HFN, hot men, and thoughtful partners, for the most part.

Interested? You can find RAN SHADOW on Goodreads, Riptide Books, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and AllRomance. I received a review copy of this book via NetGalley.

About the Author:
L.A. Witt is an abnormal M/M romance writer who, after three years in Okinawa, Japan, has recently relocated to Omaha, Nebraska, with her husband, two cats, and a three-headed clairvoyant parakeet named Fred. There is some speculation that this move was not actually because of her husband’s military orders, but to help L. A. close in on her arch nemesis, erotica author Lauren Gallagher, who has also recently transferred to Omaha. So, don’t anyone tell Lauren. She’s not getting away this time…

Visit her website, Facebook, and twitter.