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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