Scorched By Love BURNING IT DOWN–Review and Giveaway!

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a M/M contemporary romance from C Koehler. <a href="BURNING IT DOWN is the third book in his CalPac Crew series. This book features a mature, but injured, fire battalion chief winning the broken heart of a man on the run from his abusive partner. I’ve enjoyed ROCKING THE BOATand TIPPING THE BALANCE, and enjoyed seeing the characters from those books return to advise our new couple.

Scroll down for an excerpt, and to enter the giveaway for a $10 GC.
About the book:
Owen Douglas, Sacramento’s first out battalion chief, is grievously injured in the line of duty. When Brad Sundstrom finds out that Owen’s been noncompliant with his physical therapy due to depression, he pushes Owen into the Capital City Rowing Club’s adaptive rowing program.

Adam Lennox, a former collegiate rower, escapes an abusive relationship and makes his way to CCRC and quickly finds himself dragooned into helping out with adaptive rowing.

Owen, much to his surprise, finds both rowing and Adam much to his liking. When he realizes that Adam returns his interest, the sparks fly and they start a relationship. But even Eden has its snake, and Adam’s ex, Jordan, comes looking for him, willing to do anything to make Adam and Owen pay.

How about a little taste?

Late summer, approximately a year and a half after the start of Rocking the Boat.

Four months into his new job as battalion chief for Sacramento City Fire’s second battalion and Owen Douglas still couldn’t sit still. Sure, he knew the job from a theoretical standpoint, and every day he learned more from a practical standpoint, but he couldn’t ignore the niggling discomfort he felt when he saw those bugles on his collar. Like his new uniform didn’t fit quite right, and perhaps from a certain point of view, it didn’t. No matter how he squinted or how many times he turned it this way or that, he couldn’t see all that much light between his investigation into the arson at the Bayard House at the beginning of the year and his promotion to battalion chief. More to the point, neither could the men and women under his command.

Not to mention every time he opened his mouth, unicorns crapping glitter and rainbows popped out. At least, that was what people seemed to be waiting for. He liked to think he was discreet, that nothing at work proclaimed him Big Gay Owen, no snapshots of boyfriends, no photos of him shaking his ass on a Mardi Gras float, no matter how much fun he’d had in Sydney, just a subtle rainbow on his battered 4Runner, a bar no bigger than the head of a toothbrush. He tried not to play the gay card, but he was the first out battalion chief in the fire department’s history, and well he knew it. More to the point, the people under his command knew it. Maybe he was just making too big a deal out of it or felt guilty for being promoted over the heads of more senior firefighters.

His intercom buzzed with his secretary on the other end. “Yes?” Owen said.

“Prissy Morrain to see you.”

“Oh! Send her in, please.” He dashed to his office door. He didn’t expect her until tomorrow.

Owen routinely left his office door open, but he quickly got out from behind his desk to greet his visitor, and not just because she outranked him.

“Chief Morrain! I’m so sorry! I must’ve made a mistake in my calendar. I wasn’t expecting you until tomorrow—”

Prissy Morrain waved a manicured hand. “Retired Chief, and I’m a day early. We both have better things to do than make small talk over hors d’oeuvres over at some white-tablecloth restaurant. Did you bring your lunch today?”

Owen nodded. Since he was a “first” for the department, he’d sought out the advice of another “first,” the first woman battalion chief, now retired from active firefighting and promoted off to one side to do something less dangerous involving paperwork. “I’ll grab it out of the fridge. There’s a nice park a block away. We can eat there.”

“That’ll do fine.”

Prissy Morrain was a handsome woman, Owen thought; really, she could’ve been one of those older models, the ones with silver hair and flawless skin who pitched vitamins to women of a certain age. Her wrinkles weren’t so much age lines scoring her face with years but delicate lines of character radiating out from her eyes and around her mouth to accentuate a ready smile. How she’d managed that with a career spent fighting fires and sexism, he’d never know.

He spent the short walk to the park rehearsing what he wanted to say, but when Prissy asked, “So what’s the problem?” Owen could only blurt, “I’m just not clicking with the people under me. This station, sure. My office is here, but the other stations in this battalion not so much, and there’s one station that when I walk in everything stops for a few minutes while I walk back to talk to the captain on duty, and that’s just creepy.”

“Have you talked to human resources?”

“Don’t be absurd” slipped out before he could stop it.

Prissy laughed. “Smart man. You don’t want this on your record.”

And that was why he’d contacted her. “Team-building exercises aren’t my thing at this point and are just a waste of time. I’m not in a burning building with these guys. They simply need to function with each other and work in coordinated groups, and they do. But I don’t like getting the stink eye either.”

“Look, hearts of gold, most of these guys, but it’s a conservative profession. The younger ones are yours,” Prissy said, arching one eyebrow, “maybe even literally. There’s more than one gay man among the recruits, and you’re a fine-looking specimen yourself.” She peered over the rims of her mirrored sunglasses, holding up one hand when Owen opened his mouth to interrupt. “Of course, you know better than that, but you know what I mean. It’s the ones who’ve been around a few years, the ones who’re your age and older, you may have to prove yourself to, the ones who might’ve even been up for your job. They’re the ones thinking ‘fag’ behind their smiles.”

“Or not, some of them,” Owen grumbled. “A few of them don’t even bother to smile.”

Prissy chuckled. “They’ll soon learn the stupidity of that. They may be comfortable for A or B shift, but if they’re dumb enough to piss in the battalion chief’s Wheaties, then they’ll have plenty of time to learn the errors of their ways on C shift, or better yet, transfer to someone else’s command. Too bad for them you’ve got just about the best battalion in town.”

It was true. Since he’d captained one of the downtown stations, when he’d been promoted, the fire department put him into an entirely different battalion so he wouldn’t be in immediate charge of his old buddies. The open battalion encompassed Midtown, East Sac, and part of the Pocket, named for the land inscribed within a bend in the Sacramento River. Sometimes he wondered if it was a coincidence that the city’s first out battalion chief also oversaw the gayborhood. He shrugged mentally. Oh well, easier relations during fire inspections, right? “That just seems so petty.”

“And the frat boy antics aren’t?”

Owen sighed. “True enough.”

“It’s not something you want to do often, because you will hear from their union reps about that, and about anything else if they develop an axe to grind,” Prissy said, “but used strategically, it can make your point quite nicely, and the best part is, it’s hard to prove.”

Owen nodded his head slowly. “One hundred and sixty-eight hours in a week, and five stations to staff twenty-four seven in three shifts.”

“Exactly. If you need to, you can always find something miserable for someone to do for a shift or two.” She ate some of her sandwich while she thought. “One more thing, and I hesitate even to mention it, but it was something a few—a very few—of my own firefighters used against me.” At his quizzical look, she said, “Sexual harassment.”

Owen sat back, tossing his own sandwich down. “Oh, that’s just what I need.”

Prissy patted his hand. “Don’t go borrowing trouble. It hasn’t happened yet, but you need to be aware of the possibility. You’re an out gay man, and you supervise a lot of men, some of whom are, by your own admission, not very happy right now. If they can’t pin anything else on you, they may try that.”

“Did that happen to you?” Owen asked, no longer hungry.

“Oh yes. I was a by-the-book chief, and when they couldn’t come up with anything else, some union rep had the bright idea of sexual harassment. Male firefighters, female chief. It was a situation rife with possibilities. Too bad for them and their credibility none of it was true, which quickly emerged when it came to a hearing. The judge laughed them out of court. It may be the same with you. You’ll be a by-the-book battalion chief, but some of them won’t like you just because you’re you, and the only thing they’ll come up with is that you ‘looked at ’em funny’.” She snorted. “Like you’d go for their stringy asses.” She stood up. “You know how to reach me, so do it if you need to. If you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go sculling. One of the advantages of seniority and a desk job is that you can take off more or less at will and no one will miss you. Of course, that’s one of the disadvantages too.”

Rowing. Brad. “Does everyone in this town row?”

“Only the best people. You should come check it out. The Capital City Rowing Club’s adult learn-to-row camps are about done for the summer, but there are still learn-to-scull lessons available.”

“Thanks for the talk. I really appreciate you taking the time,” Owen said, remembering a time he had been anything but by-the-book. The Bayard House. The second floor. Brad. He shivered at the thought of what they’d done. Unprofessional as it had been, it had also been damn hot.

And just the kind of thing people looking to take him down would eat up with a spoon. Fortunately, Brad didn’t seem like the kind to tell tales out of school. He was just too nice a guy. Brad had spent their one encounter thinking of someone else, someone who’d dumped him, and still the big sweetheart had pined for that other guy, even with Owen’s lips wrapped around his cock, and hadn’t that ever done wonders for his ego.

Owen wanted that, wanted that kind of devotion, he thought, sitting there in the leafy green silence of the park. Instead, like that time in the still-smoldering Bayard House, he was just the hookup. He got Brad off and sent him home and then followed up to make sure Brad called whatshisname. He liked to think he was more honorable than most, always the nice guy, always finishing last.

Then he heard the sirens and that was it, no more lunch. That was fine. He’d parted company with his appetite around the time Prissy had mentioned sexual harassment. The park was barely two blocks from the station, but he jogged back. “What’s going on?” Owen asked the dispatcher when he got back.

“A small grass fire at Cal Expo, sir. It doesn’t sound like anything to get excited over.”

Yet. In Owen’s experience, all fires were worth getting excited over, at least until proven otherwise. But maybe that was why he was a firefighter. He liked suiting up in his turnouts and racing to a fire in an engine running hot. He shook his head to clear the rising tide of adrenaline. He’d given some of that up to become battalion chief.

Then the radio went off. He picked it up. “Douglas.”

“I need four more alarms. This thing’s bigger than we were told. Much bigger, and it’s heading for structures.”

“On our way.” He put the radio down. “You heard Captain Chin. Get those trucks moving and notify Arden-Arcade,” he told the dispatcher.

“Beaufort!” he yelled for his driver as he ran for his office and his turnouts. A huge grass fire at Cal Expo that’s heading for the pavilions, and the state fair in less than a month. Why do I always end up involved in political fires?

He wore his turnout pants over his uniform. Sure, he’d sweat like a thoroughbred in moments in the heat once they arrived at the fire. It certainly wouldn’t be the first time. The rest he chucked in the backseat of the command SUV with the communications equipment. Then he checked his watch as he climbed into the passenger seat. Less than five minutes. Not ideal, but at least he beat his driver.

Beaufort came running up seconds later. “Damn, sir. How do you do that?”

“Because I’m a firefighter.”

“Ha ha,” Beaufort replied, climbing behind the wheel and flicking the sirens and lights on. But it was true. After earning his bachelor’s in biological sciences at UC Davis, Owen had gone to the Fire Academy at Sierra College. Beaufort studied communications and joined the department in that capacity, along with driving Owen’s now important executive-level ass to big fires.

Owen glanced out of Beaufort’s side of the SUV. “Look—!”

All he could tell was that it wasn’t one of his, and then the enormous fire truck smashed into them, tossing the SUV aside like a rag doll. He lost consciousness as the airbags deployed with a thunderclap.

My Review:
This is the third book in a series, but it can be enjoyed as a standalone.

Owen Douglas is the first out fire battalion chief in the Sacramento Fire Department. He’s in his early 40s and a little sad that he’s always the hook-up never the boyfriend. He’s responding to a fire when he’s involved in a fatal crash with an engine truck. He survives, though badly injured, and is upset that his young driver is killed. He’s despondent about his recovery, shying away from the necessary PT he needs to learn to walk again. His physical therapist is adamant that activity is necessary and pushes Owen toward adaptive rowing. Owen’s once hook-up Brad Sundstrom is a former collegiate rower, and he’s a coach on the open men’s rowing club that supports the adaptive rowers. Brad makes it a mission to get Owen to the water’s edge.

Adam Lennox is a veterinarian, and a man hiding in plain sight. After enduring more than a decade of an abusive relationship, Adam has changed his name and licensure and moved to Davis to restart his life. He’s learning to reintegrate with people outside of the watchful eye of his abuser, his college sweetheart named Jordan. Adam had been a collegiate rower and he joins the open men’s rowing club headed by Brad and his former college coach, Nick Bedford. (Both Brad and Nick were MCs in the previous stories.) Nick taps Adam to be a pair rower with Owen, when he turns up for adaptive rowing, and the chemistry is instant.

Both Adam and Owen suffer PTSD from their respective traumas. They are immediately attracted to one another, but neither feels whole. While they begin a tentative connection, Adam is living in fear that Jordan will return–and his hallmarks are appearing again. Owen’s got a pal on the police force, but it seems he might not be able to intervene until Jordan, who is both wealthy and wily as all get-out, is caught confronting or abusing Adam. Owen’s recuperation is put on hold when he’s mysteriously attacked, and Adam is sure that Jordan is involved. It could be someone for the fire department, though, as Owen’s position is pretty tenuous. He’s reinstated for active duty, but grudgingly and with a disability hearing that could bounce him out of the service he’s been a part of for two decades. With both their lives in flux, Owen isn’t willing to let Adam shut him out–not when he’s finally found a man worth loving and fighting to keep. Meanwhile, Adam’s just fighting to stay alive.

This story has some graphic bits of violence, and descriptions of violence against animals. There is a definite sense of the victim’s mentality, of feeling that pain and potential death at the hands of person he loved is simply inevitable. Owen’s strong and fearless love gave Adam hope in his times of complete distress. Owen needed to take charge of his own life in a way he had not, before getting the time his recuperation allowed him to invest in himself. These men finding such a deep love that satisfies on a soul-deep level was so sweet and bittersweet. It rides a fine line between romance and romantic suspense. I really enjoyed the tenderness, and the conflict, and of course the happy ending.

Interested? You can find BURNING IT DOWN on Goodreads, NineStar Press, and Books2Read.

****GIVEAWAY****

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

About the Author:
Christopher Koehler always wanted to write, but it wasn’t until his grad school years that he realized writing was how he wanted to spend his life. Long something of a hothouse flower, he’s been lucky to be surrounded by people who encouraged that, especially his long-suffering husband of twenty-nine years and counting.

He loves many genres of fiction and nonfiction, but he’s especially fond of romances, because it’s in them that human emotions and relations, at least most of the ones fit to be discussed publicly, are laid bare.
While writing is his passion and his life, when he’s not doing that, he’s a househusband, at-home dad, and oarsman with a slightly disturbing interest in manners and the other ways people behave badly.

Christopher is approaching the tenth anniversary of publication and has been fortunate to be recognized for his writing, including by the American Library Association, which named Poz a 2016 Recommended Title, and an Honorable Mention for “Transformation,” in Innovation, Volume 6 of Queer Sci Fi’s Flash Fiction Anthology.

You can catch up with Christopher on Facebook, and twitter.

Reconnected So They FEEL THE FIRE –A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a brand new contemporary M/M hotshot fireman romance from Annabeth Albert. FEEL THE FIRE is the third book in her brand-new Hot Shots series that feature rural firefighters who live on the edge of danger. I really enjoyed BURN ZONE and HIGH HEAT, so I was excited to read on in this series.

About the book:
Annabeth Albert’s Hotshots series continues—the emotions and intensity of Chicago Fire with the raw, natural elements of Man vs. Wild. Danger lurks everywhere for Central Oregon’s fire crews, but the biggest risk of all might be losing their hearts…

When their career paths bring two high school sweethearts together again, the forest isn’t the only thing ablaze…

Fire behavior specialist Luis Riviera goes where his job takes him. But when he’s assigned to an arson investigation in Central Oregon—the place he left his broken heart twenty years ago—he’s afraid of being burned all over again.

Tucker Ryland had planned to join his first love, Luis, in LA after high school graduation, but life got in the way. Now a fire management expert and a divorced father of teen twins, Tucker’s thrown for a loop when he finds himself working side by side with his Luis, now all grown up and more intriguing than ever.

Though consumed by a grueling fire season and family responsibilities, the two men discover their bond has never truly broken. Tentative kisses turn to passionate nights. But smoking sheets aside, old hurts and new truths stand in the way of this time being the start of forever.

My Review:
Luis Rivera came to Painter’s Ridge Oregon when he was in elementary school. The youngest son in his family he felt a bit stifled in the remote location, but he made a really great friend, Tucker, who eventually became the love of his youth. Luis was a bit shattered when his dad was transferred back to LA, even though it brought him near to his extended family. Because Luis did not want to leave Tucker behind. They were juniors in high school and promises were made for Tucker to leave Oregon and join Luis in California for college and a life together. Unfortunately, Tucker’s dad had a heart attack in his senior year and Tucker was pressed to help run his family ranch–and he had to give up the dream of building an out and loving life with Luis–who didn’t want to wait any longer for his life to get started. Both Luis and Tucker had aspirations to be hotshot firefighters in the forestry service, and they did follow those dreams–in separate states.

Luis is an arson specialist working for the Forest Service and he’s unhappily single, now that his closeted partner was killed fighting a wildfire. As an unattached person, however, Luis’ superiors lean on him to make trips to other localities that need his expertise. So, he’s frustrated to again uproot himself for a temporary assignment. He’s incensed, however, when he learns that this assignment is centered in the Bend area, a short drive to Painter’s Ridge–and that his main contact will be Tucker, the boy who abandoned him twenty years before.

Tucker Ryland is a fire management expert working with the hotshot crews in central Oregon to maintain forest and minimize fire damage. He’s lived in Painter’s Ridge Oregon his whole life, but the small town isn’t feeling as homey as it had when he was married raising in his twin sons. He still co-parents living a few blocks from his ex-wife and her new husband, sharing meals with them and the teen boys, Walker and Wade a couple of nights a week. Tucker long ago came to terms with his demisexuality, and he and Heidi split amicable, but he’s getting lonely knowing that his sons will graduate from high school in a matter of months and their plans will likely take them far from their subdivision.

Tucker is melancholy over the loss of his relationship with Luis. He has only truly connected with Luis in his life; his marriage wasn’t planned and he and Heidi, his then-good friend, made the best of a tough situation. It was through her assistance that Tucker began to understand his sexuality, and both he and Heidi have been positive and open about it with their sons.

Luis has longstanding feelings of resentment, thinking that Tucker hid his sexuality and married Heidi as a beard and a way to remain hidden in his homophobic family. His misconceptions had caused him to hate Tucker, but being around him now reveals the truth, that Tucker is a good and honest man, and that Luis’ juvenile fears and hurt clouded a situation that could have been less fraught way back when. They are meeting again as grown men who’ve had some time, perspective, and unexpected patience to temper their feelings–and allow for a rekindling of their original friendship. For each man, the attraction is intense, and Tucker is ecstatic to have a more than platonic relationship to grow. There are the usual hiccups with the kids interfering. The boys aren’t necessarily trying to cockblock their dad. Actually, free-spirited Wade is digging the idea of Dad getting a boyfriend, while Walker, always the ruminator, is sure that his dad finding a partner will upset his own plans to stay behind in Painter’s Ridge with his girlfriend. I liked how both Luis and Tucker had great conversations with these kids, which clarified and solidified their growing bond.

The arson investigations that brought Luis to Oregon are nearly enough to keep him at Tucker’s side, but he’s not sure he wants to give up his city life for the country–again. And that gets Tucker thinking about what he wants for himself, a luxury he hasn’t had since before his dad’s heart attack in his high school days. This is a mature romance with some delicious sexytimes and a reunion of high school sweethearts that burns up the sheets. I really enjoyed it, and am hopeful we’ll see more of this setting in future stories.

Interested? You can find FEEL THE FIRE 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!

Recognizing the Possibilities TODAY–Audiobook Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review and giveaway for a contemporary M/M romance from RJ Scott. TODAY is the second book in the Single Dads series, and features a gay man with emotional issues raising his orphaned niece and nephew, and falling for the sexy firefighter who doesn’t see him as broken. We met both of these MCs in the first book of the series, SINGLE, but this story is really all about them.

About the book:
When the world labels a man and judges them blindly, is it possible to ever find love?
Firefighter Eric is on the front line, battling the threat of nature’s destruction in the California grasslands alongside his CalFire team. Focused and calm, even in the direst of situations, he has a strong affection for his fire truck, loves his career, and has best friends he can rely on. All he needs now is love, but that seems to be impossible to find. At his friend’s wedding. Eric falls in lust at first sight with the shy, slim and sexy Brady, even if Brady isn’t the type of guy he usually goes for. What Eric longs for is an equal in his bed, not a smaller guy who might want Eric to role-play big strong firefighter every time they have sex. He wants to find someone he can be vulnerable with, someone who will love him for his soft heart and quiet ways.

Brady’s life plans grind to a halt when his niece and nephew lose their parents in a tragic accident, and he becomes a dad overnight. His Developmental Coordination Disorder rules his life, but he fights both DCD and the fears that chase him every day, to give Maddie and Lucas a home. Agreeing to go to a friend’s wedding is a decision he regrets long before he even gets there. But, he refuses to give in to his fear, even if he might do something that makes him a target for people’s comments and laughter. Meeting Eric, a huge man with a gentle voice and a flair for chivalry, he falls hard. Now, if only he can let himself get past his panic that Eric would never want someone like him, then maybe he could fall in love for real.

My Review:
I am sharing a review of the audiobook, narrated by Sean Crisden, which lasts just about 4.5 hours.

Eric Lester-Hythe is a firefighter in the San Diego crews who prefers to keep a low profile–so folks don’t associate him with his father, a senator from California. Not that he doesn’t love his dad–de totally does–he just wants people to like him for who he is, not as some part of a power brokerage. Eric lives with his two childhood best friends, Sean Roberts an ER doc and Leo Byrne a cop, but the day this story opens, Sean is marrying the love of his life, their next-door neighbor Ash. So, Eric will be down a roommate, but up a surrogate niece as he loves Ash’s daughter Mia just as much as her daddies, and Leo.

At the wedding ceremony, Ash asks Eric to watch his online friend, Brady, who has arrived with his own niece and nephew to help support Ash in his new married life. Eric is all too happy to agree, because he finds Brady to be very attractive, and he wants to ensure that Ash’s friend has a good visit. Ash and Brady met as part of an online support group for single gay dads, and Ash knows that Brody is not comfortable in public spaces, or while surrounded by strangers. Turns out Brady has Developmental Coordination Disorder, as well as anxiety. This means he’s sometimes unable to interact with coordinated movements, and he trips or drops things suddenly, and this condition is exacerbated when he’s nervous. He is almost ready to bolt before the ceremony kicks off, but Eric is there, and his bulk and sexyiness unexpectedly calm Brady. In fact, Brady is so keyed up he falls over, trips, and feels generally mortified–but follows his instincts to kiss Eric with perfect coordination.

Eric is smitten, actually. He’s tired of partners who want him to take charge all the time. Brady’s forwardness is a huge turn on, and get Eric tracking Brady to his home to deepen their connection. Brady is a self-described hot mess,

This audiobook is really a great listen. Narrator Sean Crisden has a great range for the many male characters in the story. The angst that Brady feels is clearly translated, as is Eric’s exhaustion with his challenging job. I loved how these men supported and complimented one another. Eric is sweet with Brady’s kids, and helps him see that he’s truly a father to those kids, who really loved him dearly. They are so endearingly protective of Brady. Brady grows a lot, finding the steadfast love of such a good man as Eric gives his the confidence to trust in himself in a way that he hasn’t before. The dual narration is successful for allowing listeners to drop into the mindscape of each character.

There are a few sexytimes, and they are nice and steamy. Brady is nearly reckless with his attraction to Eric, and that was fun to experience.

Interested? You can find TODAY on Goodreads and is available to Kindle Unlimited members on Amazon. I listened to the audiobook from Audible.

About the Author:
RJ Scott is the bestselling romance author of over 100 romance books. She writes emotional stories of complicated characters, cowboys, millionaire, princes, and the men and women who get mixed up in their lives. RJ is known for writing books that always end with a happy ever after. She lives just outside London and spends every waking minute she isn’t with family either reading or writing.

The last time she had a week’s break from writing she didn’t like it one little bit, and she has yet to meet a bottle of wine she couldn’t defeat.

Catch RJ on her website, Facebook, Goodreads, twitter and LibraryThing.

Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!

Reforged Future in HIGH HEAT–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a brand new contemporary M/M smokejumper romance from Annabeth Albert. HIGH HEAT is the second book in her brand-new Hot Shots series that feature rural firefighters who live on the edge of danger. I really enjoyed BURN ZONE, so I was excited to read more about Garrick who was a secondary character in that book.

About the book:
Annabeth Albert’s Hotshots series continues—the emotions and intensity of Chicago Fire with the raw, natural elements of Man vs. Wild.

Danger lurks everywhere for Central Oregon’s fire crews, but the biggest risk of all might be losing their hearts…

Smoke jumping is Garrick Nelson’s life. Nothing, not severe injuries nor the brutal physical therapy that follows, is going to stop him from getting back with his crew. But when a lost dog shows up on his front porch, he can’t turn her away, and he can’t take care of her on his own. Thankfully, help comes in the form of his new sexy, dog-loving neighbor. As they work together, trying to re-home their little princess, Garrick can’t resist his growing attraction for the other man, even though he knows this guy isn’t the staying type.

Rain Fisher doesn’t take anything too seriously. He dances through life, one adventure at a time, never settling in one place for too long. When his hot, conveniently buff, neighbor shows up on his doorstep, dog in tow, Rain’s determined to not just save the adorable puppy, but her reluctant owner as well. He never expects their flirtation might tempt him into stay put once and for all…

My Review:
Garrick Nelson is a smokejumper, which is all her ever wanted to be. Except, a bad accident on a jump has sidelined him with severe injuries. He’s worked amazingly hard to get back on his feet, but, while he can walk, he tires easily and relies on crutches or a wheelchair for long periods of the day. That’s why he’s frustrated when he finds an injured stray dog on his porch. She’s skittish, and his lack of mobility hampers rescuing her as she darts away. He wheels himself to his neighbor’s house and enlists the help of her sexy grandson, Rain, to catch and clean up the dog.

Rain thinks Garrick, who is pan, is a delicious treat for his lonely days of keeping an eye on his crafty grams. I mean crafty in that she makes handicrafts–tye-dying cloth for clothes. It’s heavy work, and Rain’s mom has convinced Rain he should be there in case gram needs help–though she rarely does–yet she’s happy to take in her wandering grandson, anyway. He’s drifting since he didn’t get into the city fire training academy, but seeing how buff Garrick is–and knowing he’s a smokejumper–Rain makes a leap to ask him for advice in his physical training regimen. Garrick isn’t sure he wants to commit, but they bond over the care of the stray, who Rain names Princess, and it’s not long before the attraction sparks a brushfire of desire.

This story really handles the emotional toll of surviving a catastrophic, career-ending injury, and the attendant physical issues that arise. Garrick has trouble with sexual arousal, and his nerves aren’t all that sensitive since his spinal injury, but his interest in Rain is more than just companionship–though they do a lot of hanging out as they get to know one another. It’s Rain’s gentle guidance that helps Garrick re-center his life and world accepting his new normal from a viewpoint of ability, not disability. The change is important, because it brings emotional harmony to Garrick, whose depression was getting clinical.

Rain, for his part, does a lot of growing up while he’s in Garrick’s world. His training and focus helps him land a job on a fire crew, and he works hard cutting fire lines and running the comm for his team. He’s insightful and intuitive which helps him on the job, and with Garrick. He’s also body aware and a bit shameless from being raised by freeloving hippies. I loved his sense of compassion, and how he didn’t let the characterization of his youth color the decisions he made now. While he may have been a freewheeler, himself, meeting Garrick gives him a touchstone, a person to whom his life can be bound–for the good of both.

It’s sweet and tender, the way they care for one another. From adjusting erogenous zones, to researching vegan diets, these guys are shaping themselves into ideal partners for one another before they even realize how serious they are becoming. I really enjoyed this one, and expect we’ll get some mature heat for a lonely commander in the next installment. I can’t wait!

Interested? You can find HIGH HEAT 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!

Fighting Ghosts in the BURN ZONE–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a contemporary M/M smokejumper romance from Annabeth Albert. BURN ZONE is the first book in her brand-new Hot Shots series that feature rural firefighters who live on the edge of danger. This book features a dysfunctional family and one man’s determination to keep a promise to his late best friend–over his own happiness.

About the book:
Introducing Annabeth Albert’s Hotshots series—the emotions and intensity of Chicago Fire with the raw, natural elements of Man vs. Wild.

Danger lurks everywhere for Central Oregon’s fire crews, but the biggest risk of all might be losing their hearts…

Smoke jumper Lincoln Reid is speechless to see Jacob Hartman among his squad’s new recruits. Linc had promised his late best friend he’d stay away from his little brother. And yet here Jacob is…and almost instantly, the same temptation Linc has always felt around him is causing way too many problems.

Jacob gets everyone’s concerns, but he’s waited years for his shot at joining the elite smoke jumping team, hoping to honor his brother’s memory. He’s ready to tackle any challenge Linc throws his way, and senses the chemistry between them—chemistry Linc insists on ignoring—is still alive and kicking. This time, Jacob’s determined to get what he wants.

Close quarters and high stakes make it difficult for Linc to keep his resolve, never mind do so while also making sure the rookie’s safe. But the closer they get, the more Linc’s plan to leave at the end of the season risks him breaking another promise: the one his heart wants to make to Jacob.

My Review:
Lincoln Reid lost his best friend Wyatt Hartmann in a big fire about nine months ago. They had been friends throughout childhood, Wyatt’s friendly family taking care of neglected Linc from a young age. Wyatt was the first person Linc came out to–and pretty much the only person. Wyatt’s youngest brother Jacob is gay, too, and Wyatt wasn’t happy about it back when Jacob came out. He could see that Jacob had designs on Linc and Wyatt, in his backhanded bigoted way, forbade Linc from ever messing around with his little brother. Made some crude comments about Linc somehow turning Jacob into a gay man.

That was years ago, and they managed to keep their friendship together, but Linc holds true that he shouldn’t have any romantic interest in Jacob–even though they are both grown men and Wyatt is dead. Jacob has just joined Linc’s smokejumping crew of hot shots, one of many replacements for the new fire season. Linc is having enough trouble keeping himself together with the ghosts of Wyatt haunting him, and Jacob taunting him. Jacob isn’t the flighty queer boy his family thought couldn’t manage his life. He’s a determined firefighter with years of experience and certifications. And, he’s tired of his family getting all up in his business. Especially not the lingering sentiment of Wyatt who wasn’t a fantastic brother for Jacob coming up in the world.

Jacob and Linc have real chemistry together; they have always had. Their connection is growing as Jacob proves himself day-in and day-out in the spring training. And, let’s face it, both Linc and Jacob are lonely. Linc has no living family, and Jacob’s family are too mired in their grief over Wyatt–and mad that Jacob’s joined the smokejumping crew–to be a good support. Jacob proposes for him and Linc to have sex just to get the attraction out of their systems–and Linc is too attracted to let the opportunity pass him by. He’s been alone too long, and grieving his lost family and friend to push Jacob away.

One night becomes another, and another, with Jacob spending more and more time in Linc’s home. This means more than sex, their companionship and camaraderie fills the empty holes in each one’s lives and hearts. And, as the work becomes more dangerous, Linc needs to make decisions to put Jacob at the center of his life, while still honoring his friendship bonds with Wyatt. It’s a big change, and would mean Linc coming out. Can he? Will he?

It’s a solid grief/comfort story mixed with the intense love of any swoony romance. Jacob’s family is a tense affair, with their disapproval of Jacob’s professional life choices, and the grudging approval of his life partner, well, it makes for some fights. Fights Linc doesn’t want to have. He feels like losing the love of the Hartmann’s–his surrogate family–could kill him, even if Jacob remained by his side. It’s a touch call, and leads to a great deal of internal and external conflict for Linc. He feels like dating Jacob would dishonor the love the Hartmann’s have showed him since he was a young boy–and they are quick to remind him how much he owes them–even if it’s hypocritical. I really felt Linc’s anguish, and grief, and tenderness and struggle. He’s a good man, and he wants to take of his “family” the best way he can. Even if he has to sacrifice himself to do it. And it’s Jacob’s strong love and fierce contrariness that pushes Linc to change his stance. Because, when it comes down to it, living without Jacob in his life makes his life not worth living.

Expect family drama, confused firefighters, hot sexytimes and cool insight into the work and experiences of smokejumper heroes on the fire lines. The end is a definite HEA, with growth beyond grief and new love to light up days and warm up nights. I liked the story a lot, and I look forward to more stories in this compelling setting.

Interested? You can find BURN ZONE on Goodreads, Carina Press, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple Books, and Kobo.

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

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

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

Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!

Happy Book Birthday to RAPID RESPONSE–Review and Giveaway!

Hi there! Today I’m sharing an excerpt and giveaway for a new contemporary M/M romance from DJ Jamison. RAPID RESPONSE is the eighth book in the Hearts and Health series, but fully enjoyable as a standalone. Other books I’ve enjoyed by this author include LOVE BY NUMBER and FULL DISCLOSURE, so I’m looking forward to reading this one!

Scroll down for the excerpt and to enter the $10 Amzzon GC giveaway!
About the book:
A confused straight guy and a gay hookup artist walk into a bar…
Firefighter Sean Connolly is straight — until one impulsive night changes everything. He tries to dismiss it as a fluke, but when a fire rescue leads him back to the guy who blew his mind, he’s thrown into a chaos of confusion and want. He gives in to curiosity, exploring a new side to himself — not just his attraction to a man, but his desperate need to please.

Paramedic Jace Gillespie is a hookup pro, never letting anyone get too close. When he meets Sean, though, he feels a connection right away. An ill-advised threesome seems to kill a friendship in the making, but when they’re thrown together by work, it doesn’t take long for passion to reignite. Sean calls to something in Jace he never knew was there, and together, they explore a dynamic that fulfills them both.

But as feelings deepen, doubts surface. Sean is in the closet, and Jace struggles to trust his promise that it won’t last forever. With family conflict and his career in the balance, Sean finds it difficult to picture his life without secrecy, but if he doesn’t find a way, he may lose the one person he most wants to please.

Rapid Response is the longest novel of the Hearts and Health series at approximately 92,000 words! It can be read as a standalone.

How about a little taste?

Sean glanced into the mirror, and though he looked like the same guy on the outside — dark hair, dark eyes, unremarkable face — he didn’t recognize the one on the inside. And that was scary.

“I’m sorry,” he scraped out.

“For what? Staring at my mouth, or for hiding from yourself?” Jace asked caustically.

Sean swallowed hard. His traitorous eyes found Jace in the mirror, locking on the mouth in question. Pink, full lips. Jace had been a good kisser. A good … sucker.

“Yeah, just like that,” Jace said.

Sean jerked his gaze to Jace’s eyes, which bored into him, their power not diluted in the slightest by the mirror acting as their go-between. Could Jace see what was inside? If he could…

“Sorry,” Sean whispered. “I didn’t realize I…”

“What, Sean? What didn’t you realize?”

“That I, um. That I…” He couldn’t get the words out.

“That you like my mouth? That you want it on you again? That you—”

Sean spun around. “Shut up.”

“Make me.”

His breath caught. “What?”

“You heard me,” Jace said. “Make me shut up. You know exactly how to do it.”

Sean hesitated, and Jace smirked. “Yeah, I didn’t think so.”

Frustrated and frazzled, Sean acted on instinct, doing exactly what Jace had asked. He grabbed the front of Jace’s shirt, spun him around, and shoved him against the counter containing the row of sinks.

Then he kissed him.

Hard.

To make him shut up.

It was the only way to get him to stop talking. Gloating. Jace had practically ordered him to do it, the bastard. And Sean needed to shut up the doubts in his head, too.

He closed his eyes, blocking out all thought, and sank into the feeling of Jace’s perfect, hot mouth on his again.

My Review:
Firefighter Sean Gillespie thinks he’s supporting his newly out bisexual brother when he attends a drag night at a gay club. Only, his brother doesn’t show up. Still interested in the show, he’s cajoled into hanging out with Jace and his female bestie. They share beers and chat, Sean admitting to his confusing attraction to the performers. Jace thinks Sean is hot, but gets that he’s not gay, still, he lets his gal pal talk Sean into more drinks at Jace’s apartment. And once there she puts the moves on Sean–convincing him to let Jace pleasure him. It seems to go great, but Sean panics in the end, leaving Jace frustrated.

A couple months rolls by and Jace and Sean reconnect at the scene of an apartment fire. Sean carries a missing girl to safety, but is injured at the scene. Jace is the paramedic who treats him. The girl’s mother is overjoyed by the rescue, and her letter to the paper sparks a PR outreach that catalogues Jace and Sean on outings with the girl and her mother. The more time Jace and Sean spend together the more the attraction grows between them. Jace is just a little bit dominant and that stokes an unknown service kink for Sean.

Sean is struggling with his sexual identity–because he has homophobic crew mates in the firehouse, and his eldest brother has seemingly disowned their middle brother for coming out as bisexual. Still, he’s falling hard for Jace, and takes to spending more and more time with Jace, if only to escape the trouble he’s facing after he takes his eldest brother in off the street–his wife kicked him out for being an insufferable pig and a drunk.

Jace hasn’t had any relationships in a long time, and what’s happening with Sean is feeling like it could be a relationship, if only Sean would come out. Because he won’t well, they fight. And it’s a short bit of heartbreak. I liked the cast of characters here. Both Sean and Jace are decent guys, and they fall hard for one another. Jace knows how much crap Sean will get for coming out publicly, as he’s experienced it firsthand. He won’t push Sean to action, but he also can’t live a shadow-life of happy times behind his apartment door. It felt really realistic, and understandable. The climax, however has some definite heartbreak. Sean figures out what he needs to do, but the timing is complicated. And there’s some family drama and tragedy that he needs to work out. The grand gesture at the end is sweet, and leaves the door open for the next romance in the series. I’ll be keeping my eyes open for that one.

Interested? You can find RAPID RESPONSE on Goodreads and Amazon.

****GIVEAWAY****

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

About the Author:
DJ Jamison is the author of more than a dozen m/m romances, including the Ashe Sentinel series and the Hearts and Health series. She writes a variety of queer characters, from gay to bisexual to asexual, with a focus on telling love stories that are more about common ground than lust at first sight. DJ grew up in the Midwest in a working-class family, and those influences can be found in her writing through characters coping with real-life problems: money troubles, workplace drama, family conflicts and, of course, falling in love. DJ spent more than a decade in the newspaper industry before chasing her first dream to write fiction. She spent a lifetime reading before that, and continues to avidly devour her fellow authors’ books each night. She lives in Kansas with her husband, two sons, two fish and, regrettably, one snake.

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

Small Town Quarrels: FIREBALL–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a new contemporary romance from Nazarea Andrews. FIREBALL is a smoking hot romance between small town folks who can’t avoid one another any longer… I really liked SECRET THINGS, so I was excited to try a new book from this author.

About the book:
He’s infuriating…
Dempsey Jones has been a nuisance my entire life, the straight-laced Boy Scout grown up to be a firefighter, of all things. He was the one helping kittens out of trees and old ladies cross the road while I was lighting cherry bombs with my best friend in abandoned buildings, and now that we’re all grown up—even if my Dad doesn’t agree—he’s still just as annoying.

She’s impossible…
Taite Ridley has been a constant my whole life, the curly haired mischievous daughter of the police chief, charming and devious and alluring. She was wild in ways I never dared to be and too big for our little town. But she’s here, a small town cop, and I can’t avoid her, even if I wanted to.

And I don’t want to.

It’s like mixing fire and gasoline and when these two collide, someone is gonna get burned…

My Review:
Dempsey Jones has had a thing for Taite Ridley ever since high schoo.Painfully shy, Dempsey hid his attraction behind sharp words and one-upmanship. It seems. But Dempsey’s been having some delicious hate sex of late with River City’s junior chief of police. He wants more, but how can he convince Taite he can be the man of her dreams?

Taite, having lost her mom young, is a daddy’s girl to the max. She grew up at the precinct, doted on my the cops and office staff, and has now come in to her own as an officer herself. Taite’s had a lust-hate relationship with Dempsey since high school, but she always thought her troublemaker persona turned him off. And, she’s never getting married. Not after seeing her dad suffer when her mom died. But, as the small town gears up for the big fundraising competition between the fire department and the police department, Taite might have more to lose than her pride. Yup, Dempsey’s careful planning might just win her heart.

This is a sweet and sexy love story that seemed to be enemies-turned-lovers, on the surface. Instead I think it was friends-turned-lovers because the hate posturing was more Taite’s drama than anythign else. Dempsey has been gone on Taite a long time now, and his only angle is how to turn his “drunken,” down-low hook-up into his sleep-in-my-bed-all-night girlfriend. There’s plenty of fun bits, too, like how the fire department tries a new tactic to raise money: a nude calendar. For Dempsey, tall, fit and sexy fire captain, well, he can’t avoid baring all–and it’s part and parcel of his plan to win Taite over too.

There’s plenty of waffling, however, and that was a little bit of a drag, for me. Taite does finally see the light, though, when Dempsey sees her through some dark moments. It’s cute and fun. I enjoyed it.

Interested? You can find FIREBALL on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo.

About the Author:
Nazarea Andrews (N to almost everyone) is an avid reader and tends to write the stories she wants to read. Which means she writes everything from zombies and dystopia to contemporary love stories. When not writing, she can most often be found driving her kids to practice and burning dinner while she reads, or binging watching TV shows on Netflix. N loves chocolate, wine, and coffee almost as much as she loves books, but not quite as much as she loves her kids. She lives in south Georgia with her husband, daughters, spoiled cat and overgrown dog. She is the author of World Without End series, Neverland Found, Edge of the Falls, and The University of Branton Series.

Stop by her twitter and tell her what fantastic book she should read next. You can also find her on her website, blog, Facebook, join her Street Team, or sign up for her newsletter.
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Dodging Bigots and FAST BALLS–Review & Giveaway

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review and giveaway for a contemporary M/M romance from Tara Lain. FAST BALLS is the fourth book in her Balls the Wall series and features an odd-couple romance between two firefighters, one who needs to come out of the closet. We’ve met both of these guys in FIRE BALLS, but expect cameos from pals we met in VOLLEY BALLS and BEACH BALLS, too. It was awesome to watch good-guy Jerry finding love!

Catch an excerpt and enter the GC giveaway below.
About the book:
Can two men with skewed self-images see their true reflections in each other’s eyes?
Jerry Wallender—firefighter, surfer, and occasional nude model—knows he’s no rocket scientist. So why does he keep choosing intellectual guys who make him feel dumber? He worked his buns off to overcome his reading disability and pass the firefighter’s test, and he loves everything about the job. Well, except for Mick Cassidy, the big, blond, hunky homophobe who harasses Jerry for being gay. But Jerry is smart enough to realize it’s not hate driving Mick, but the pain of a very unhappy upbringing.

Mick Cassidy, Firefighter Assist and Search Team, fights fires, but he can’t fight his attraction to the kindest, most generous—and sexiest—guy he’s ever met. Does that make him gay? If it does, he just might get himself killed by his gay-hating preacher father—and take Jerry down with him.

How about a sweet taste?

“Sure. I can’t think of anyone else I’d want to be with forever.”
“Why?”
Mick smiled and took hold of Jerry’s hands. “That’s easy. You’re kind, and good, and funny. And so damned smart I’d be learning new stuff from you forever. Hell sounded pretty good with you in it.”
Jerry just shook his head back and forth.
He sighed. “But I guess hell would have been the easy way out.”
Jerry nodded. “It’s harder to live than to die.”
Mick sat on the floor at Jerry’s feet. “I was thinking I’d leave here. Go somewhere and start over. Leave my father and that whole gang behind.”
Jerry’s voice was very soft. “And me? Leave me behind?”
Mick looked up into those bluer than blue eyes. “That’s the hard part. That’s why I’m still here. I don’t want to leave you.”
“Why?”
“You’re sure full of whys. Because you’re my friend. My best friend.”
Jerry ran a hand across Mick’s cheek. It felt so nice. “I am your friend. Am I your lover?”
Mick’s breath caught. Weird. Half horror. Half delight. “I don’t know.”
Jerry’s fingers roamed into his hair, and he pressed his head against Jerry’s palm. “Wherever you go, you have to decide. Are you gay, Mick?”
“You said I am. Jezebel says I am.”
“We may think so, but you have to decide for yourself.”
Mick frowned. “I thought it wasn’t a choice.”
“It’s not, but there are plenty of guys walking around pretending they’re not gay. A lot of them end up freaking out their wives and kids when they get caught in some bathroom fucking a twink.”
Mick stared at the floor. “People hate you because you’re gay.”
“Yep.”
Mick took in a big breath. Suddenly that moment in the fire washed over him. “But God doesn’t hate you.”
Jerry shrugged. “I guess that depends on who you ask.”

My Review:
This is the fourth book in the Balls to the Wall series and might be better enjoyed after reading the second book, FIRE BALLS.

Jerry is a surfer-turned fireman. He lives and works in Laguna Beach and has one guy on his crew who’s a bigoted homophobe. Mick is big and burly and a decent fireman, but he’s been reprimanded for his attitude and his drunken misadventures. In FIRE BALLS he was a bit of a tormentor for Hunter and got put in his place directly by Rodney, but Jerry’s a different kind of guy. He smiles past the comments and treats everyone with respect, even if they don’t merit any.

This goes a long way toward breaking through Mick’s coarse shell; he’d been raised by a grotesquely bigoted “preacher” of a father. Yes, there’s a cult involved. In fact, Mick is “betrothed” to a teen girl is his father’s congregation. The idea of marrying this girl is really upsetting for Mick, as is his interest in Jerry. Mick’s just never had a friend before and Jerry’s friendliness is so necessary–it makes him reconsider all the hateful lessons he’d absorbed at his father’s church.

Jerry doesn’t know what to make of Mick. The guy is a set of contradictions, but Jerry’s happy enough to try and get to know him better, if it’ll help quell the animosity that’s been a problem in their firehouse. This effort isn’t helped by the advent of some new blood in the firehouse who subscribe more to Mick’s father’s attitudes. One of them had been a disciple of the church, and this scares the bejesus out of Mick; what if his dad learns how friendly he is with Jerry? Considering how militant their stance is about homosexuality, Mick fears Jerry could be put into danger.

They have a sweet quiet romance, with Jerry assuring Mick that his desires are natural and not a problem. Mick, for his part, finally feels as if he’s experiencing the kind of physical contact he’s desired all along. It’s bittersweet, honestly, to see his internalized homophobia tear him apart, but Jerry’s a good guide into self-awareness. There’s a bunch of drama that involves spiteful firemen and a lunatic preacher, but all ends very well. I really enjoyed this one! A nice mix of steamy bits and heartfelt loving.

Interested? You can find out more about FAST BALLS on Goodreads, Dreamspinner Press, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks and Kobo.

****GIVEAWAY****

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

About the Author:
Tara Lain writes the Beautiful Boys of Romance in LGBT erotic romance novels that star her unique, charismatic heroes. Her first novel was published in January of 2011 and she’s now somewhere around book 23. Her best­selling novels have garnered awards for Best Series, Best Contemporary Romance, Best Ménage, Best LGBT Romance, Best Gay Characters, and Tara has been named Best Writer of the Year in the LRC Awards. In her other job, Tara owns an advertising and public relations firm. She often does workshops on both author promotion and writing craft.

She lives with her soul­mate husband and her soul­mate dog in Laguna Beach, California, a pretty seaside town where she sets a lot of her books. Passionate about diversity, justice, and new experiences, Tara says on her tombstone it will say “Yes”!

You can find Tara at:

Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!

So Much to Hide: LOVER ON TOP–A Review

BannerTemplate-16Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a new contemporary M/M romance from Kristine Cayne. LOVER ON TOP is a love story between a straight fire fighter and his good friend’s gay younger brother. There’s a guarantee that this book is a hot read.

Lover on Top FinalAbout the book:
A straight firefighter discovers an irresistible attraction for his best friend’s younger brother—one that could lead to complete disaster.
A perpetual bachelor, firefighter lieutenant Hollywood Wright hops from one woman’s bed to another, searching for something he never finds. Has his father’s emotional and physical abuse somehow damaged him? Or is something else going on, something that involves the intense and uncomfortable feelings aroused by his best friend’s little brother?

Sexy-as-sin paramedic Chad Caldwell has always been out and proud. Sure, some gay-bashers are harassing him, but he’s determined to be true to himself. There’s just one problem: He’s hung up on Hollywood, his older brother’s straight best friend. When Hollywood’s apartment is damaged by fire, Chad reluctantly takes him in. Will Chad’s heart survive such close proximity to a man who’s both unattainable and everything Chad wants?

To their mutual surprise, Hollywood finds Chad and his world fascinating—and much hotter than anything he’s ever experienced. But with a rabidly homophobic father, is Hollywood doomed to die in the closet? Chad won’t accept anything less than a public relationship, no matter how amazing the sex is. Can Hollywood ever accept the man he’s always kept buried deep inside?

How about a little taste?

Hands gripping his head, Hollywood paced back and forth between Chad and the neighboring building, like a caged lion. “I’m confused. It’s your fault. You and your tight ass. Your tattoos. And don’t get me started on your little twink boyfriend.”

“My boyfriend?” There was no way Chad could follow Hollywood’s leaps of logic.

“Fucking cowboy told me about it. You slept with Blondie. It was that same night with Candy, wasn’t it?”

Chad clenched his jaw. “Sandy.”

“Who the fuck cares?” Hollywood shouted.

“Why are you so upset?” Chad asked. “You’re straight.”

“I don’t know what the fuck I am. You’ve got me watching gay porn. Fantasizing about—” Hollywood gritted his teeth together and rubbed his face with both hands. The sound of his stubble scraping against his palms had Chad’s heartrate shooting up. Even when he was a mess, Hollywood was hot.

“What do you fantasize about?” Chad couldn’t help asking any more than he could help the rasp in his voice.

Hollywood stopped his pacing, hesitated, then advanced on Chad. Each step slow and deliberate. Chad sucked a breath into suddenly deflated lungs. Oh God. He was so fucking turned on. And what kind of slut did that make him? He didn’t know if Hollywood was going to kiss him or beat the shit out of him. All he knew was that he needed to find out.

With rough movements, Hollywood gripped the sides of Chad’s head. “I can’t think of anything except kissing you. Your lips, are they soft or hard? How would your stubble feel against my skin? What do you taste like? It’s driving me crazy.” He stared into Chad’s eyes. “You are driving me crazy.”

My Review:
Chad is a 25 y/o paramedic in Seattle. He’s had more than a fair share of run-ins with homophobes who’ve attacked him, defaced his ambulance and stalked him, but he’s not about to stop living his life out and proud. Even if it means for persecution. He harbors a major crush on his elder brother’s best friend, “Hollywood” who is most-assuredly a straight man. This Adonis of a firefighter has got a different woman all the time. Hollywood’s apartment gets torched in a poker-night fried chicken experiment gone way wrong, and is temporarily homeless, so Chad offers him the spare room in his condo.

And things get sexy.

Just kidding. Things kinda do get sexy, in that Hollywood has no boundaries, and Chad comes home after a night looking for a quick trick (to get his mind off Hollywood) to find Hollywood getting it on, in plain sight, with a random gal who isn’t opposed to opening up the equation from 1+1. From that experience Chad knows he’s got to stay way clear of Hollywood, and Hollywood is startled by the odd and inexplicable feelings he gets whenever he catches sight of Chad in, for example, sweaty workout clothes. Or, wet from the shower…

Because of Hollywood’s long friendship with Chad’s brother, Hollywood attempts to smooth things over with Chad, and they develop a strained friendship–and a growing attraction. Hollywood wants to experiment with Chad, and Chad is unwilling…at first. I liked how resolute Chad was regarding Hollywood’s drinking and the need for sobriety if they were to even engage in small-scale carnal activities. Hollywood has been terrorized since his youth by his abusive, alcoholic, homophobic, widower father, and the truth behind that comes out in one big whiskey-fueled rant: Hollywood had been caught in a compromised state with a friend, and it nearly cost Hollywood his life that fateful day. He’d blocked the memory after such a brutal beating, and Hollywood has tried to be the macho straight man his father praises ever since, and had no success finding a true love. What is growing between Hollywood and Chad, this friendship that includes tenderness and affection, is the most real love he’s shared with another person in years. It makes him ashamed to hide away, and keep Chad from sharing his joy with his tight-knit family. Coming out becomes an imperative, but delays and life get in the way.

There are other issues at play here, with Chad being a very real target for some nasty homophobic elements. Hollywood makes serious missteps with Chad, which cost him both love and friendship, and there’s a larger plot arc that spans the entire Caldwell family, subject of this book series. All of that played very-well here. I picked up the book, third in the series, and didn’t feel lost. The two preceding books are M/F romances,
and the next two likely will be as well. That said, this book isn’t a throwaway in terms of series and plot. It’s clear that Chad’s stalker had been problematic in previous books, and had a major impact on both Chad and Hollywood–whose first name we actually learn in this book. The threat against the Caldwells seems to be quelled, but there’s ongoing tension and a long recovery for one of Chad’s brothers who was severely injured in the line of duty.

As for this book, I felt it was interesting and a good effort on the author’s part to include a lot of perspective on same-sex attraction in a previously straight man. I did enjoy Hollywood figuring out what truly mattered in his life, for the first time, really. He and Chad are very sweet together, and their love story was tender. I wished there wasn’t quite so much break-up-to-make-up in the book.

Interested? You can fin LOVER ON TOP on Goodreads, and Amazon.

About the Author:
Kristine Cayne’s books have won numerous awards and acclaim. Her first book, Deadly Obsession, was an RT Book Reviews Top Pick and won Best Romance in the 2012 eFestival of Words Best of the Independent eBook Awards. Her second book, Deadly Addiction, won two awards at the 2014 eFestival of Words and 1st place in the INDIE Awards, Romantic Suspense Category (a division of Chanticleer Book Reviews Blue Ribbon Writing Contests).

Her book Under His Command won Best BDSM Romance at the 2012 Sizzling Awards and was a finalist in the 2013 eFestival of Words and 2013 RONE (Reward of Novel Excellence) Awards, and her book Everything Bared was a finalist in the Erotic category of the I Heart Indie awards.

To learn more about Kristine and her stories, visit her website, Facebook, twitter, Pinterest, Tsu, Google+ and Goodreads.

Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!

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