Fear, Friendship and Love: THE ART OF HERO WORSHIP-Review & Giveaway

Hero-BannerTemplate Hi there! Today I’m so excited to share my review for THE ART OF HERO WORSHIP a contemporary M/M romance from Mia Kerick. This is the first New Adult novel I’ve read from Ms. Kerick and I was definitely pleased.

Catch my review and get in on the $25 Amazon GC giveaway below.

TAOHW Front Cover-1About the book:
Trembling on the floor, pressed beneath a row of seats in a dark theater, college freshman Jason Tripp listens to the terrifying sound of gunshots, as an unknown shooter moves methodically through the theater, randomly murdering men, women, and children attending a student performance of Hamlet. Junior Liam Norcross drapes his massive body on top of Jason, sheltering the younger man from the deathly hail of bullets, risking his life willingly, and maybe even eagerly.

As a result of the shared horror, an extraordinary bond forms between the two young men, which causes discomfort for family and friends, as well as for Jason and Liam, themselves. And added to the challenge of two previously “straight” men falling into a same-sex love, are the complications that arise from the abundance of secrets Liam holds with regard to a past family tragedy. The fledgling passion between the men seems bound to fade away into the darkness from which it emerged.

Jason, however, is inexplicably called to rescue his hero in return, by delving into Liam’s shady past and uncovering the mystery that compels the older man to act as the college town’s selfless savior.

The Art of Hero Worship takes the reader on a voyage from the dark and chilling chaos that accompanies a mass shooting to the thrill of an unexpected and sensual romance.

How about a little taste?

Pop-pop-pop….

No, I’m not even remotely safe. But thankfully I play dead far better than my dog did when I taught him that trick at the age of seven.

The shots are earsplitting and getting louder because the shooter’s heading our way. I’m so fucking scared I’m trembling violently, but I promised the guy lying on top of me that I’d stay still. I concentrate on taking short shallow breaths, one after another, in my effort to stop trembling. To stay frozen—like I’ve been since I pulled Ginny to the floor and promptly let go of her hand so I could curl up into a tight fetal ball.

Somebody near me sits up, scrambles to his knees, and impulsively crawls toward the far aisle.

Pop-pop-pop…

“Bang, bang… you’re dead.” The voice comes from directly above me; it’s blank and monotone and controlled. The weird snicker that follows is chilling. I want nothing more than to throw the big guy off my back and run like hell toward the double doors, but I just keep on going with the short breaths and stay as still as I’ve ever been in my life. Even in my terrified state, I know that the guy on top of me is totally exposed and I can’t move because I’ll cheat him out of his life, for sure. Which is so not cool when he’s trying to save mine.

I smell blood. Never noticed the smell of blood before. It reminds me of Grandma’s penny collection… if it got spilled onto the sticky floor of the theater. The scent of old copper is everywhere… like wet pennies strewn all around me on the floor.

Pop-pop-pop…

Shooter’s right above us now. Don’t move… don’t move… don’t move….

“Dear God, help us!” This request seems to catch the shooter’s attention and he turns around and steps away from us. I curse myself for feeling as relieved, and maybe even glad, as I do.

Pop-pop-pop….

We wait and it seems like forever. We wait as voices beg and plead and pray and he shuts them up with bullets. We wait as the sound of shots moves to the front left near the exit, where I figure he’s shooting at anyone who tries to get out through the double doors.

And then, for a second, it’s quiet.

“Now….” The big guy’s voice is whispering but it seems to blast into my left ear. “We have to make our move now.” Before I agree, the heaviness of his body lifts and I feel cold and exposed. “This is our chance to get outta here….”

His hand is attached to the back of my wrist, clutching me so hard that I know I’ll have fingerprint bruises for a week… if I live so long.

My Review:
College freshman Jase and his bestie/newly ex-girlfriend Ginny are at a Hamlet play when a shooter opens fire on the audience. Ginny is killed instantly and Jase is immobile with fear, sure that the shooter will get him soon. Then, a burly fellow student not only covers him with his body, he pulls Jase to safety. Liam, his rescuer, is a junior, and knew the shooter through mutual classes. As the boys flee the scene, they hope that he danger is behind them.

Not so much. While the police attempt to ascertain if Liam and Jase were involved in the shooting, they keep these two sequestered–for their own protection. Jase is terrified by flashbacks and cannot rest, cannot stop reliving his fear, and his failure to help Ginny. Liam is a patient and stalwart companion. Neither Liam nor Jase have ever had experiences with men before, but their shared horror and shock meld them in ways they had never predicted. The comfort that Liam provides Jase is only temporary, however.

Jase leaves school before the end of term, without even saying goodbye to Liam. He’s haunted by visions of the shooter, and sinks into deep depression, having PTSD-like panic attacks in his stifling home with his “s”mother. Then, Liam calls. Invites him for a weekend escape, and Jase feels compelled to go. This man saved him, twice, actually. And in those shared nights they find a new normal within their closeness. It’s exactly the break Jase needs to get him to start over–but he’s now freaked out about his feelings for Liam. Both men profess they aren’t gay, have never had attraction or interest for men before–but they are certainly into pleasing each other.

For Liam, it’s about protecting Jase, giving him attention, and receiving love and admiration in return. For Jase, he craves the strength, security and devotion he experiences from Liam. Each of these men needs to come to terms with their past–Jase suffers for months from the aftermath of the shootings. Liam’s damage extends farther, deep into his dysfunctional childhood and a tragedy that forever scarred his family. Together, they are strong and loving, but can Jase bear it if Liam continues to strive and save everyone?

I really enjoyed the deep probing that Jase does into his psyche in this one. The story is told from his POV and he’s understandably wrecked in the head after enduring so much tragedy. He can’t cope, but being near strong and sturdy Liam helps him to survive the crushing guilt. That Liam’s been dealing with his own survivor’s guilt for the better part of a decade makes him a compassionate partner, but he’s also suffering a hero complex, and it makes him more reckless than Jase can endure.

I’ve read some accounts of shooting survivors, and the physical and psychological aftermath is frightening. I felt that same guilt/fear/haunted/PTSD experience in this book, in a way that was completely accessible. Jase is continually assessing whether he and Liam are together because of their shared pain, and he decides that’s likely true, but not a problem. His worship, and later love, of Liam is strong enough to bind them into the future. There’s a bit of sexytimes, but that’s never the focus. Instead it’s the closeness, the protectiveness, the ownership, if you will, that’s developing between Jase and Liam which makes this a passionate book.

Interested? You can find THE ART OF HERO WORSHIP on Goodreads, Amazon, Smashwords, Gumroad Books, and AllRomance.

****GIVEAWAY****

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

About the Author:
Mia Kerick is the mother of four exceptional children—all named after saints—and five nonpedigreed cats—all named after the next best thing to saints, Boston Red Sox players. Her husband of twenty-two years has been told by many that he has the patience of Job, but don’t ask Mia about that, as it is a sensitive subject.

Mia focuses her stories on the emotional growth of troubled young people and their relationships, and she believes that physical intimacy has a place in a love story, but not until it is firmly established as a love story. As a teen, Mia filled spiral-bound notebooks with romantic tales of tortured heroes (most of whom happened to strongly resemble lead vocalists of 1980s big-hair bands) and stuffed them under her mattress for safekeeping. She is thankful to Dreamspinner Press, Harmony Ink Press, and CreateSpace for providing her with alternate places to stash her stories.

Mia is a social liberal and cheers for each and every victory made in the name of human rights, especially marital equality. Her only major regret: never having taken typing or computer class in school, destining her to a life consumed with two-fingered pecking and constant prayer to the Gods of Technology.

Where to find Mia online: Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

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Love’s the SAVE OF THE GAME–Review & Giveaway

SotG-BannerTemplateHi there! I’m so excited to share my review of a fantastic contemporary M/M hockey romance from Avon Gale. SAVE OF THE GAME features a focused and lonely goalie and the brash and loyal enforcer in a gay-for-you romance that blows the doors off this subgenre. Both Riley and Ethan are bisexual, as they learn when their friendship becomes…more. It’s the second book in a series, and fully enjoyable as a standalone.

Check out the excerpt and get in on the giveaway below!

SaveoftheGameFSAbout the book:

After last season’s heartbreaking loss to his hockey team’s archrival, Jacksonville Sea Storm goalie Riley Hunter is ready to let go of the past and focus on a winning season. His new roommate, Ethan Kennedy, is a loud New Yorker with a passion for social justice that matches his role as the team’s enforcer. The quieter Riley is attracted to Ethan and has no idea what to do about it.

Ethan has no hesitations. As fearless as his position demands, he rushes into things without much thought for the consequences.Though they eventually warm to their passionate new bond, it doesn’t come without complications. While trying to financially help Ethan, Riley must hide his family’s wealth so as not to hurt Ethan’s immense pride. For their relationship to work, Ethan will need to learn when to keep the gloves on and let someone help him—and Riley will have to learn it’s okay to let someone past his defenses.

My Review:

This is the second book in a series, but is fully enjoyable as a standalone.

Riley and Ethan are teammates in Jacksonville’s ECHL (semi) pro hockey team, The Sea Storm. East Coast Hockey League is the equivalent of AA baseball, it seems. These guys play for love of the game, and in the hope of getting lifted into the AHL, and maybe one day, but probably not–the NHL. Riley’s a goalie, it’s his life’s ambition, and he loves it. He’s worked hard and trained all off season to be better than ever, and he’s in peak condition.

Riley’s in a different place than most of his teammates–he’s loaded financially–and he doesn’t want anyone to know that. He’s always had to hide his wealth in the attempt to fit in better, but when Ethan needs a place to live, Riley’s right there willing to offer his spare room. Riley loves taking care of people, and he gets particular pleasure caring for loud and exuberant Ethan. Ethan’s a goon. He’s big and bulky and the first guy to throw off his gloves and defend himself or a teammate on the ice. It’s a small coincidence that Riley’s got a kink porn file that features guys that closely resemble Ethan…

This is a gay-for-you romance between two newly bisexual hockey players. Both Riley and Ethan have never been with a man, but their close friendship allows for an even closer bond to develop. At first, it’s a surprise, with kisses and some petting, but this quickly escalates to far, far more. I’ll be honest, I was captivated watching them explore their completely new sexual desires. They have lots of questions and concerns, which they face together. In the end, they decide to take it as far as it will go, and that’s pretty dang far, yo. The slow burn was so delicious, and this one’s all about the feels. Riley’s life has been heavy on money, light on love. Ethan’s family has always struggled financially, but overflows with love. Riley’s practically adopted by Ethan’s rowdy sisters and straight-shooting mother the first time they meet. I really enjoyed seeing him be adored by someone.

This book spans a season filled with ups and downs, and more winning than losing. There are some incendiary sexytimes, and the love story is sure to please. I wanted it to never, ever, end. Good thing it’s an HEA. I expect we’ll get peeks of these two in further books in the series, as there are some decent cameos of the couple from book one, BREAKAWAY, in here.

Interested? You can find SAVE OF THE GAME on Goodreads, Dreamspinner Press, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo and AllRomance.

****GIVEAWAY****

Click on this Rafflecopter giveaway link for your chance to win one of TWO copies of SAVE OF THE GAME.
Good luck and keep reading my friends!

About the author:

Avon Gale was once the mayor on Foursquare of Jazzercise and Lollicup, which should tell you all you need to know about her as a person. She likes road trips, rock concerts, drinking Kentucky bourbon and yelling at hockey. She’s a displaced southerner living in a liberal midwestern college town, and when she’s not writing you can find her at the salon, making her clients look and feel fabulous. She never gets tired of people and their stories — either real or the ones she makes up in her head.

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

 

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Taboo Love: QUILLON’S COVERT–Review and Kindle Giveaway

Hi there! Well, this is my last review post of 2015–tomorrow I’ll feature a “Best Of” recap–and I figured why not go out with a bang. I had my curiosity piqued regarding a new M/M taboo romance QUILLON’S COVERT from the writing team of Joseph Lance Tonlet and Louis Stevens so I went for it.

You’ll remember that I absolutely loved Tonlet’s GRIF’S TOY, and I’m no stranger to taboo romance. I read VC Andrews’ FLOWERS IN THE ATTIC when I was in seventh grade. So, at age 13, my first experience reading sex was the rape of a sister by her beloved brother. And I followed that series with MY SWEET AUDRINA which featured the gang rape of a pre-teen girl. So, yeah, my HEAs got off to a VERY rocky start!

That said, QUILLON’S COVERT is an erotic taboo romance that has graphic depictions of consensual incest between a father and son. It includes, as an off-shoot, adultery, as both characters are married at points in the story. If any of these are a trigger for you, avoid the book.

The authors have hosted a series of blog posts in support of the book, which features some candid thoughts and snippets regarding the book’s content and their philosophy. You can access those here. I was not part of that tour, but I read and enjoyed the book enough to recommend it. And there’s a huge giveaway that includes a Kindle, which you can enter down below.

Quillon's CovertAbout the book:
Martin is a guy’s guy, one who enjoys the simple things in life: baseball games with his son, family days, barbecues, and date nights with his lovely wife.

Once a year for two weeks, Martin takes his son, Marty, to Quillon’s Covert, a rustic family cabin secluded in the beautiful California mountains. Since before those long days of learning to play ball, Marty has loved his dad, but as Marty matures, Martin starts to see something else settle in his son’s uncertain gaze. What’s there lingers a little more than it should, and it seems far more appraising than it once was.

As Marty shows every sign of taking the lead, Martin is faced with the tough choices most parents never see: lose his son by being a father, or try to balance what’s best for their relationship by being something… more.

But with another trip to Quillon’s Covert on the horizon, has the point of no return already begun?

Note: This book contains incest. GAY, EROTICA, ROMANCE, TABOO, INCEST, INFIDELITY

My Review:
4.5 Stars for this one. I had to dip my toe in this pond–even just to experience it from a simply puerile viewpoint. So many books in the hetero world deal with incest, of a sort–there’s a huge rise in step-brother/step-father romance. And, after my youthful reads from VC Andrews I knew I was in the target audience for taboo incestuous romance.

This is as soft and romantic a love affair as I could envision. I was captivated, despite my initial fears.

Martin Quillon is a doting father who has feared the loss of his son, Marty, in very real terms when he choked on a candy cane at age 6. Marty has struggled with bullying and stuttering, and Martin’s been his rock, a constant source of unfailing love. This is not to say Marty does not experience this with his mother; he does. But the story is only told in vignettes of the two-week excursions to their father-son retreats they take to their isolated mountain cabin every year.

The book begins when Marty is fourteen, a few years into their visits. While on the Quillon’s Covert “compound”–a one room cabin near a lake–they shed their clothes and live one with nature, fishing and barbequing and having a boys time of it. By the time Marty is fourteen he’s beginning to recognize that he’s enamored of his father, but this is still chrystalizing. His father is big and broad and strong, and all that Marty longs to be. The first several vignettes are really there to establish their deep and loving bond as father and son.

As Marty matures he recognizes that he’s not just in awe of his father, he’s attracted to him. He’s 16 and already confessed his homosexuality, and been totally supported through that. Due to some injury Martin is obliged to not only punish Marty (it makes sense in the story) but to facilitate Marty’s hygiene, and this is the first time that Martin begins to suspect Marty has more than a filial affection for him. Because we have been privy to both characters’ POV, we know that Marty has long desired his father, in a pure love sense.

I will not be coy about this: there is a physical sexual relationship between Marty and his father. This is fully desired and incited by Marty–and only becomes fully physical once Marty is 18 y/o. The result is a spectacularly tender relationship that exists only two weeks a year. It’s expressly a loving experience, one the men anticipate for 50 weeks each year as the story winds on. This continues for…years. As a kid I watched SAME TIME NEXT YEAR (which was wholly inappropriate both of me, and for me) and this book has the same sense of two people finding a respite together in a socially-unacceptable relationship. During this time Marty matures, grows into his manhood, and still never wants his precious alone time with Martin to change. The sexual encounters become more defined and explicit as the story continues. They are determinedly honest.

“No,” Marty began at length, “I don’t feel guilty.” He looked up and met Martin’s interested gaze. “What I mean is, I look at the cabin, at our time here, as a bubble–and I’ve thought about it in those terms for years.”

“A bubble?”

Marty nodded against Martin’s knee. “Our ‘real life’ doesn’t touch out time here, and our time here doesn’t touch our ‘real life’. I said before I’ve accepted that we’ll never live as a couple, and I meant that. It’s taken me a long time to get to that point, but it’s true, Dad.”…”What we do here is between us and no one else.”

I think the biggest problem I had with this one–setting the incest angle completely aside–was this infidelity issue. As mentioned, I read a metric ton of VC Andrews as a kid, so I’m kinda inured to incest. Also, this book has such tenderness, such love, I was less afraid of the damage that Marty might have–especially as he was always the aggressor. No, I think I had this niggle in the back of my mind regarding Martin’s wife, and later, Marty’s husband. I was not satisfied by the epilogue which brought Marty’s son to the lake house–while the shenanigans continued. As a parent, I’m well-versed in getting sexytimes in under the oblivious eye of a toddler, and yet this somehow upset me. It’s probably some hang-up of mine, but it still got to me. I think I would have liked the end better if Little M had stayed home with his other daddy.

That said, this is a well-written taboo story that explored a consensual father-son sexual relationship that was so carefully written as to be a romance.

Interested? You can find QUILLON’S COVERT on Goodreads, Payhip, AllRomance, Smashwords, and Paperback. It is not available at many ebook sellers due to its taboo content.

****GIVEAWAY****

Click on this Rafflecopter link to enter a giveaway for MANY prizes, including a Kindle Fire 7, and several ebooks, audiobooks and signed paperbacks.

Good Luck and keep reading my friends!

About the Authors:
Joseph Lance Tonlet is a born and raised Southern Californian—with a twenty-year stint of living in the Midwest. He loves the laid-back lifestyle of San Diego and considers himself lucky to live where people dream of vacationing.

A lifelong reader of m/m fiction, he began his writing career one night sitting at his MacBook and has never looked back. He writes to bring the characters he dreams about to life.

You can find Joseph online on his website, Facebook, Twitter (18+)ElloGoogle+, tsūPinterest, Tumblr (18+ only!), Goodreads, and YouTube.

Louis Stevens is a gay romance author born and raised in South Africa. He was a shy outcast who had few friends in school; generally feeling excluded and on the fringe of society. However, when he discovered gay romance and erotica in 2007, at the age of seventeen, his mind and world opened up.

He wrote his first story, A Better Life, longhand in a 197 page spiral notebook, on his bed every night with a pillow curled under his chin. Although the book wouldn’t be published until 2011, with the now defunct Silver Publishing, he found the experience entirely liberating. He’s considered himself a writer ever since.

Catch Louis online on AmazonGoodreadsFacebook, his website, his blog, and on Youtube.

Were They BORROWING TROUBLE?–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a newly published contemporary M/M romance from Kade Boehme. BORROWING TROUBLE is a tender and thoughtful story about a divorced man who finds friendship and more with his younger co-worker.

About the book:

After an amicable divorce, Jay Hill decided to move back to his rural hometown with his teenage kids. Being on good terms with his ex-wife and in laws has made the transition into single life pretty smooth. Things were good and uncomplicated. Then Landon Petty walked into his life.

Landon didn’t expect to still be stuck in his hometown working at his dad’s sawmill at this point in his life. Being an openly gay truck driver was as awkward in practice as in description. When Jay came to take over managerial duties at his dad’s business, Landon was surprised to find a friend. When Jay turns out not to be as straight as he thought, things get complicated.

When feelings for Landon shine a light on how much Jay’s life has been actually half lived, he’s forced to decide if he’ll jump in with both feet or if he’ll let Landon slip through his fingers.

Borrowing TroubleMy Review:

4.5 Stars. I really enjoyed this contemporary M/M romance, which is also a Gay For You story.

Jay Hill is the talk of his Mississippi town. He’s newly divorced from his high school sweetheart, Bethany, and returned to his hometown to raise his two kids (16 y/o son and 12 y/o daughter) near their maternal grandparents. Jay and Bethany have an amicable divorce; she’s realizing her career dreams by going back to college in Atlanta, and he’s content to live a slower-paced life as a manager at a local lumber plant. People there don’t understand how Jay and Bethany split, however, and his in-laws aren’t pleased that the kids aren’t being raised in a church home. And, he’s tired of the churchy women he keeps getting introduced to. Scandalous!

Landon Petty has been working two jobs for his father’s lumber business, despite his degree in History and aspirations to teach. He’s so relieved that Jay is hired to take some of the load off his shoulders, but he’s not happy to find his former babysitter so god-awful attractive. Landon’s gay and out to his parents, but he’s very circumspect and quiet in his hometown. He takes himself three hours away for anonymous hook-ups, and it’s tiring.

As Jay spends more time alone, when his kids go to his in-law’s for a weekend visit, he has trouble in his empty house. So, he invites Landon out to watch a football game at a local bar. They hit it off, and it’s a fast friendship, one Jay and Landon really cherish.

Landon keeps his attraction so quiet, but it’s not long before Jay starts to see Landon in a strange (for him) new light. He enjoys their companionship, and is frightened and confused as his friendly feelings begin to turn into attraction.

What I really liked about this story is the long development of the friendship and eventual breach into sex. That worked, as both men are fairly lonesome, and had developed a steady friendship. Jay is alerted to Landon’s sexuality by a nasty busybody, and it flips a switch for him. Experimenting with gay porn opens new chambers in Jay’s brain, unlocking memories of his childhood close friendships with boys. I really thought Jay’s introspection was honest. And, I appreciated that he sought help sorting out his feelings, and was honest about it with Landon. Their candor was refreshing.

Landon was a rock, even when he wanted to crumble. He said “no pressure” regarding coming out, and he meant it. And he lived it. He thrilled to every kiss or touch, and yet he was willing to walk if Jay couldn’t handle it.

While I was angry regarding Bethany’s initial reaction to Jay and Landon, I think she redeemed herself about 90% after sleeping on it. Jay was a far stronger character in the end, than the beginning. His kids were excellently written. Seriously, I wanted to kiss Clint for being an excellent big brother and the sounding board both his parents needed.

There are some fantastic sexytimes, and a beautiful, realistic relationship between two admirable, ordinary men. Expect some editing issues regarding continuity in the plot. Those mostly get smoothed over by the second half.

Interested? You can find BORROWING TROUBLE on Goodreads, and Amazon.

About the Author:

Kade Boehme is a southern boy without the charm, but all the sass. Currently residing in New York City, he lives off of ramen noodles and too much booze. He is the epitomy of dorkdom, only watching TV when Rachel Maddow or one of his sports teams is on. Most of his free time is spent dancing, arguing politics or with his nose in a book. He is also a hardcore Britney Spears fangirl and has an addiction to glitter.

It was after writing a short story about boys who loved each other for a less than reputable adult website that he found his true calling, and hopefully a bit more class. He hopes to write about all the romance that he personally finds himself allergic to but that others can fall in love with. He maintains that life is real and the stories should be, as well.

You can catch up with Kode online on his website, twitter, and

Cover Reveal for THE KNIGHT OF OCEAN AVENUE

Knight Of Oceans Avenue Cover Reveal Banner
Hi there! Today I get to help reveal the cover for Tara Lain’s soon-to-be-released contemporary M/M romance, THE KNIGHT OF OCEAN AVENUE. I’m so excited for this coming out story to, well, come out!

And look how pretty it is:
Knight of Ocean Avenue 400x600
About the book:
How can you be twenty-five and not know you’re gay? Billy Ballew runs from that question. A high school dropout, barely able to read until he taught himself, Billy’s life is driven by his need to help support his parents as a construction worker, put his sisters through college, coach his Little League team, and not think about being a three-time loser in the engagement department. Being terrified of taking tests keeps Billy from getting the contractor’s license he so desires, and fear of his mother’s judgement blinds Billy to what could make him truly happy.

Then, in preparation for his sister’s big wedding, Billy meets Shaz—Chase Phillips—a rising star, celebrity stylist who defines the word gay. To Shaz, Billy embodies everything he’s ever wanted—stalwart, honest, brave—but even if Billy turns out to be gay, he could never endure the censure he’d get for being with a queen like Shaz. How can two men with so little in common find a way to be together? Can the Stylist of the Year end up with the Knight of Ocean Avenue?

How about a little taste?

“Okay, I need to ask, and I have nothing on it so don’t get defensive.”

Billy squinched his nose. “That’s not the best way to keep a guy from getting defensive.”

Shaz grinned. “I know. Not subtle, but seriously, why haven’t you taken the contractor’s license test?”

Shit. Defensive.

Shaz held up a hand. “I assume it has something to do with your reading ability, but I thought Clancy and Yerby and all those others on your bookshelves overcame that issue.”

“Yeah. Pretty much.”

“You read well enough to take the test? Because if not, I’ll bet they’ll let someone read it to you.”

“I can read.” He put down his fork.

Shaz leaned over and picked up the fork. “Come on, darling, this is Shazzy Wazzy. I am no threat at all to you.” He scooped some mashed potatoes and flew them like a plane toward Billy’s mouth.

For a second, Billy compressed his lips. Jesus, the guy was impossible to resist. He burst out laughing. The first time he’d ever laughed at this subject. “I’m afraid to take tests. I panic.” His heart beat fast just thinking of it. He snapped the potatoes off the fork and chewed.

Shaz put a hand on his arm, which made him feel calm and excited at the same time. “How do you know?”

“Know what?”

“That you panic when you take tests?”

Billy frowned. “I’ve blown every test I tried to take since the eighth grade. It got so bad I had to drop out of high school. I could have tested out, but I couldn’t take the test, and I never got my GED because I—”

“Couldn’t take the test. My God, that’s awful.”

The frown got deeper. “Like I said, I’m too dumb to take tests.”

Shaz leaned over until all he could see was that pretty face. “This has nothing to do with dumb. Does it?”

Billy stared at his almost empty plate.

“Does it?”

He shook his head.

“What does it have to do with? Who made you afraid?”

“What?”

“I said who made you afraid. Someone did.”

“How do you know that?”

“Because you’re a strong, capable man who isn’t afraid to take the whole damned world on his shoulders. There’s no reason for you to be afraid of anything unless someone told you there was.”

He nodded slowly. His heart hammered so hard it felt like his chest would explode. “I got beat up a lot in grade school because I was small and couldn’t read.” He shrugged. “I know. Hard to believe, right? Behemoth that I am. Anyway, my eighth grade English teacher was the worst, I guess. I could barely read, and she gave us test after test. I couldn’t read the books and I couldn’t read the test.” His pulse hammered in his ears. Like he was back there in that god-awful room. “She constantly told me how dumb I was and made sure the whole class knew it. I didn’t grow until I was sixteen. I was still a little runt then and got beat up every day while they called me stupid.” Shit, tears pushed out of his eyes. This was not good. “I have to stop talking about this. I have to go.”

“No, Billy, I’m sorry.”

“Not your fault.” He fished in his pocket and pulled out a wad of bills. He threw some on the table. Maybe a hundred dollars. Then he ran for the door.

“Billy!”

The cool evening air hit him like a bucket of water in the face. Where the hell was he going? He’d driven his truck. It was full of furniture, and Shaz had no way to get home. Billy Ballew did not leave a friend behind.

He stared down the sidewalk. That bench looked inviting. Staggering a little, he walked to it and sat. Just breathe. That’s why he never talked about this subject. Never even thought about it if he could avoid it. If he could just forget it, things would be better.

“Billy.”

He looked up at Shaz, who stood on the steps of the restaurant. The man walked toward him with that graceful saunter of his. “You didn’t go. I wouldn’t have blamed you if you left me here to rot.”

He managed to cock half a smile. “Too dry in California to rot.”

“Wither and blow away, then.” Shaz sat next to him. “I truly am sorry. I didn’t mean to open wounds. I have too many of my own to be picking at yours.” He held out his hand with a palm full of money. “You dropped something.”

“I want to pay for dinner.”

“Nope.”

“The champagne.”

“Nope. The least I can do after spoiling your meal is pay for it.”

“But—”

“Never argue with a queen, darling. We always win.”

Interested? THE KNIGHT OF OCEAN AVENUE is due for a May 1st release from Dreamspinner Press. Feel free to pre-order…on eBook or paperback.

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:

Love Amidst the SEX, LIES, AND WEDDING BELLS–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for what one might call a Throwback Thursday book… SEX, LIES & WEDDING BELLS is the first book published by EM Lynley way back in 2009. Well, it’s just got a facelift–revised and re-released I had a good time learning all about a snarky columnist and a (potentially) ‘to be jilted’ groom.
This is an adult read.

Sex, Lies & Wedding BellsAbout the Book:
Of all the tiny towns, in all the world, he walks into mine.

Texas native Kieran Quinn has hit the big time, working in Manhattan as a columnist for Gloss, a national literary magazine. He’s well-known for his snarky, sardonic columns, but deep down he’s more interested in exploring what makes people tick than his editor would like. He keeps his desire to find his own Mr. Right hidden under a sexy, carefree persona that favors champagne and underwear models of the male variety.

Jaxon Lang loves being the high school principal in tiny Buckwheat Springs, Texas after relocating from Austin to pursue his relationship with Danetta Archer, despite her reputation for leaving grooms at the altar. So far, he’s avoided examining the questions he has about himself, certain that marriage will put them to rest. Then Kieran arrives in town. Kieran’s charm and unique attitudes about sex and attraction soon challenge Jaxon’s concept of what—and who—he wants.

While covering the latest wedding of a real-life “runaway bride,” Kieran falls hard for the gorgeous—and supposedly straight—groom, Jaxon Lang, despite that ridiculous X. Then Kieran discovers the bride’s hiding a shocking secret.

How about a little taste?

“So, you never… ya know… with a girl?” Jaxon asked, the alcohol probably having lowered his inhibitions. His voice was quiet, and Kieran had to lean in to hear him, their faces only an inch or two apart.
“I didn’t say that.”
“You must not have liked it much, didya?”
“I didn’t say that, either.”
“Well?”
Oh God. Kieran was way too close to those mesmerizing green eyes, the scattering of freckles, and Jaxon’s clean, fresh scent to start talking about sex now. He wasn’t sure he could handle it. He tried not to watch Jaxon’s mouth as he spoke, but Kieran didn’t have that much self-control. He didn’t really have any lately, it seemed.
But Jaxon’s stare forced an answer out.“I never found girls particularly arousing. I figured things out pretty early on.”
“You think that’s easier?”
“Definitely. No hurt feelings or bruised egos trying to make something work that never will.”
Jaxon opened his mouth, then closed it and inhaled slowly before replying. “And you weren’t at all curious, just to make sure you weren’t into girls?”
Kieran paused a moment. This discussion was going to strange places. Was Jaxon asking what Kieran suspected he was, just reversing their situations? Jaxon looked so serious; he wasn’t just making conversation now.
“I never tested it out with a girl because with another guy it felt so right, not like something was missing. That’s me, but it’s different for everyone. I’ve always just said that if you’re into someone—or not— you know. Then having sex with that person is taking it to the next level. I happen to only like men, but plenty of people enjoy sex with both men and women.”
“Well… I think there’s more to it than that.”
“Are you asking me about sex or about love? Because there’s a difference.”
“Yeah, there is a difference. A big difference,” Jaxon said. “I guess sometimes you can confuse them, huh?”
“Are you still talking about me, now?” Kieran asked with a smile.
“Yeah.” Jaxon was quiet for a few moments as he took another sip of tequila. “Did you ever love a woman?”
“Romantically? No.”
“And you didn’t get turned on by them. Is that why you tried guys?”
“I wouldn’t say it’s exactly like I ‘tried guys.’ I never consciously—at least at first—chose men over women. I just knew that I didn’t get that spark with women.” Kieran didn’t want to think about sparks. There were far too many when he was around Jaxon.
“Spark.” Jaxon smiled and nodded, as if he’d just learned something significant. “But that’s about sex again, right? I’m asking about love this time. Have you loved a man?”
Kieran closed his eyes and pressed his lips together. Why was Jaxon getting so damn personal now? Kieran would rather talk about sex than admit he knew fuck-all about love. “No.” He took another breath and shook his head.
“Do you have a boyfriend?”
“Okay, now who’s interviewing whom?”
“You can’t call this an interview, not when you buy me tequila. That’s got to be against some sort of journalistic code of ethics.”
“There is no journalistic code of ethics when it comes to alcohol,” Kieran said, laughing. “But I suddenly feel that the tables have been turned here. No one’s ever asked me this many questions before.”
“Ha, now you’re on the other end of the question, it seems really nosy and personal, doesn’t it?”

My Review:
I received a copy of the re-released, revised, second edition of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Kieran Quinn is an out gay columnist for Gloss magazine. His snarky wit have made his column famous, but he’s starting to tire of the treadmill ride he’s on. He has no lack of gorgeous sexual partners, but he longs for an actual partner.

In search of his next column fodder, essentially the schmucks who’ll be subject to his literary vivisection, Kieran travels to tiny Buckwheat Springs, Texas in search of Danetta Archer and her fourth fiance, Jaxon Lang. Danetta has jilted her last three fiances at the alter, and, with two weeks to her impending nuptials, it seems she’s ready to finally tie the knot. Or, will she?

Kieran is surprised to find that all of Danetta’s former beaux are quite amiable. And, hang out together as if part of some exclusive club. Jaxon is, unfortunately for Kieran, a very attractive man who is (perhaps) questioning his sexuality, if not the prospect of marriage. While Kieran is searching for the secret behind Danetta landing some of Texas’s most eligible bachelors, he learns just how deep her lies run.

Finding out that Jaxon shares his attraction, Kieran is torn between letting Jaxon live his chosen life, and swaying him onto a new path. Kieran has never been in a relationship, and he’s not sure Jaxon is ready–he’s never even been with a man before–but, as the big date closes in, it is more than just coincidence that these men have found each other at this time in their lives. Jaxon is a quality man who has some very serious choices to make, and not only about Danetta.

Expect break-ups, angry fiances, covert gayness, first times, and big mistakes. There’s a bunch of breaking up and a bit of making up, with an HEA that will satisfy. I have not read the first edition of this book, so I can’t comment on the changes between them, but this book read as a complete story with no cliffhanger.

Interested? You can find SEX LIES & WEDDING BELLS on Goodreads, Dreamspinner Press, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble.

EM LynleyAbout the Author:
EM Lynley writes gay erotic romance. She loves books where the hero gets the guy and the loving is 11 on a scale of 10. Her Precious Gems series is best described as “Indiana Jones meets Romancing the Stone”—only gayer. The Delectable series is Gay Romance with Taste.

A Rainbow Award winner and EPPIE finalist, EM has worked in high finance, high tech, and in the wine industry, though she’d rather be writing hot, romantic man-on-man action. She spent 10 years as an economist and financial analyst, including a year as a White House Staff Economist, but only because all the intern positions were filled. Tired of boring herself and others with dry business reports and articles, her creative muse is back and naughtier than ever. She has lived and worked in London, Tokyo and Washington, D.C., but the San Francisco Bay Area is home for now.

She is the author of Sex, Lies & Wedding Bells, the Precious Gems series from Dreamspinner Press, and the Rewriting History series starring a sexy jewel thief, among others. Her books are available in print and e-book from Amazon & other book distributors.

You can find EM Lynley on Goodreads, her website, Facebook, and twitter.

Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends!

They Breached The MOMENT OF IMPACT–Review and Giveaway

impact640

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for first-time M/M author Karen Stivali. I just loved MOMENT OF IMPACT, and it’s a steamy read–for adults.

MomentofImpactCover-KarenStivaliAbout the Book:
Outside Collin Fitzpatrick’s dorm room is a dangerous place. Beyond his door the students of his small, conservative college think he’s straight, as does his Catholic family who’d disown him if they learned the truth. Inside, he’s safe with his incredibly sexy roommate Tanner D’Amico. Their room makes a perfect place to hide away and fall in love.

The moment they cross the line from roommates to lovers, Collin becomes caught between their heavenly passionate encounters and the hellish reality that someone might find out and destroy everything. Tanner’s not used to being so confined, and wants to show the world how much he loves Collin. But Collin’s not sure he’s ready for the impact stepping outside will make.

MyReview:
Collin is a closeted gay man who has a secret crush on his roommate, Tanner. They are both juniors in college and have been friends for two years. Collin feels really awful about his sexual attraction, not only because he doesn’t believe Tanner would welcome his interest; Collin was raised by his uber-conservative, uber-Catholic mother to believe all sex (even self-love) was bad, unless it was sanctioned by marriage. And homosexual marriage does not qualify.

Tanner has a regular Monday night hook-up with a female friend, Wendy, and Collin usually pretends he’s asleep so he can hear Tanner have sex. One Monday night Tanner comes home alone and Collin watches him pleasure himself–with unexpected–but wonderful–results. Turns out Tanner is bisexual, and has a crush on Collin.

This confession opens a new, scary chapter in Collin’s life–one where he has all the best of love…which he must hide from everyone around him. Tanner isn’t out at school, but he’s open to the possibility. Colin knows what will happen if he comes out–his mother will disown him. As Collin and Tanner become closer, however, it becomes more and more difficult to keep their secret–and doing so may just cost Collin the man he truly loves.

This book is equal parts hot man lovin’ and delicious feels. The pace is brisk, and the sex is copious. And scorching. Collin is a complete novice, and enthralled by Tanner’s openness and experience. They are a good match for each other, and conscientious of each other. Their main conflict, remaining closeted, is a big hurdle which is well managed.

I truly enjoyed, and had my heart engaged from page one.

Interested? You can find MOMENT OF IMPACT on Goodreads, Dreamspinner Press, Barnes & Noble, Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon AU.

MOIteaser2

****GIVEAWAY****

Click the Rafflecopter link below for your chance to win a $20 GC and one of two prize packs (US only on the prize packs).
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Good luck and Keep reading my friends!

Karen stivaliAbout the author:
Karen Stivali is a prolific writer, compulsive baker and chocoholic with a penchant for books, movies, and fictional British men. She’s also the multiple award-winning author of contemporary and erotic romances. Her lifelong fascination with people has led her to careers ranging from hand-drawn animator, to party planner, to marriage and family counselor, but writing has always been her passion. Karen enjoys nothing more than following her characters on their journey toward love. Whether the couples are m/f or m/m, it’s guaranteed that Karen’s novels are filled with food, friendship, love, and smoking hot sex–all the best things in life.

When Karen isn’t writing (and often when she is), she can be found on Twitter attempting witty banter and detailing the antics of her fruit-loving cat, BadKitteh. She loves to hear from readers (and other writers), so don’t hesitate to contact/follow/like her at twitter, Facebook, her website, Pinterest, and Goodreads. You can also email her here.

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January 2014 Cephalopod Coffeehouse–NOT HIS KISS TO TAKE–A Review

Welcome one and all to the Armchair Squid’s Cephalopod Coffeehouse, a cozy gathering of book lovers, meeting to discuss their thoughts regarding the tomes they enjoyed most over the previous month.  Pull up a chair, order your cappuccino and join in the fun.

I’m happy to join in with one of the books I read this past month. As a reviewer of all things ‘women’s fiction’ I have quite a large range. Typically, YA Anything all the way through Erotica. I’ve recently noticed a shift of mainstream romance authors into M/M (male/male) romance–so of course, I’ve checked it out. After reading about 15 of these in the past two months–I must say, I’m pretty impressed. So I chose one that I continue to go back to, because it’s everything I love in a romance (slow build, true emotion), and everything I long for in erotica. (Kink-tastic!)

Not His Kiss to TakeNOT HIS KISS TO TAKE by Finn Marlowe is a contemporary M/M romance set in Spokane, WA.

Dr. Evan Harrison, a gay man and Emergency room physician, suffers debilitating migraines. Due to his inability to function without constant painkillers, he’s stepped away from medicine–and yet the headaches remain. He’s a virtual recluse, shunning bright areas, loud crowds, and general human interaction most of the time. He has a fave watering hole–a quiet dive bar a short walk from his penthouse condo. One snowy night Evan’s hanging out having a beer when an angel walks through the door. Blonde hair, blue eyes, supple young body… Clearly straight, the man captivates him anyway.

Jamie, a good-looking young man, enters the wrong bar on the wrong night. While using the toilet he’s beaten senseless by a trio of homophobes. Problem is, Jamie’s not gay. Still, he’s humiliated and barely coherent when he’s discovered by the strong man who seems to know his way around a body. Afraid that a hospital visit will drain his already meager savings, Jamie begs his guardian stranger to take him anywhere but the emergency room.

Evan complies, taking Jamie to his own home instead. He carefully tends this bright young charge, giving the best care possible. It’s a tender and kind treatment that Jamie has never received. Not from his father–who left a decade ago. Not from his mother who’s too beat down by life to really care–and certainly not from his abusive step-father.

Jamie knows that Evan is gay. And, he knows Evan’s aroused by him. But, he doesn’t seduce him. No, Jamie’s own voracious curiosity is what leads this pair down the rabbit hole together.

In the course of events, both men find what fills their souls–their companionship and eventual sexual relationship. It is a constant push-pull emotionally. Evan knows he’s doing harm by entering into a relationship with Jamie. He’s fourteen years older than his lover, and sure that his sassy angel, Jamie, will bolt back to heterosexuality at any moment. Jamie’s curiously attracted to ‘pervy’ Evan even if he can’t commit to a lifetime of their ‘messing around’–he’s not gay after all–still he’s captivated by the love and kindness Evan lavishes on him. And yet, he’s unable to give the one thing Evan covets most–a kiss.

Yes, they separate, but come together again, stronger, and on more equal terms. This is what is called a GFY story (“Gay For You”) in that one of the characters has never been with a man, but finds the relationship with one man so much more fulfilling than those before that he ‘switches teams’ for his soul mate. It’s the epitome of a romance–with more poignant hardships due to prejudice and homophobia.

If anyone is interested in NOT HIS KISS TO TAKE, the full-length novel can be downloaded FREE ( in multiple digital formats) from Smashwords here. I highly recommend it to fans of women’s romance and erotica. The sex is deliciously written, and there’s a good bit of it, so…YAY!!!

See those links below?  Hopefully you’ll click through to check out the posts of my coffeehouse brethren.  And, as always, keep reading my friends!

1. The Armchair Squid 2. What’s up, MOCK?!
3. Words Incorporated 4. Scouring Monk
5. Huntress 6. A Creative Exercise
7. Libby Heily 8. Trisha @ WORD STUFF
9. Wishbone Soup Cures Everything 10. mainewords
11. Julie Flanders 12. Hungry Enough To Eat Six
13. Yolanda Renee 14. M.J. Fifield
15. StrangePegs — Turn Coat 16. The Writing Sisterhood
17. Ed and Reub 18. StrangePegs — Vader’s Offspring
19. V’s Reads