Out now! AN ERIE COLLECTION–Release, Review and Giveaway!

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a release week review and book giveaway for a M/M shifter romance series from V.L. Locey. AN ERIE COLLECTION contains four novellas featuring Templeton Reed, a skunk shifter who inexplicably falls for Mikel Lupei, alpha of the Lake Erie wolf pack. I’ve previously reviewed AN ERIE GARDEN PARTY, but was hungry for more of this fun and engaging shifter world. For those who’ve enjoyed any of the previously-released novellas, this collection includes a fourth novella that is new.

About the book:
You can now have all four of the MM Lake Erie pack novellas in this one reasonably priced collection! Included in the set are the previously released novellas An Erie Halloween, An Erie Operetta, and An Erie Garden Party. To round off this whimsical and romantic shifter set is a brand-new novella, An Erie Uprising!

It’s been one wonderfully romantic year since skunk shifter Templeton Reed met Mikel Lupei, the alpha wolf of the Lake Erie pack. During that year, the two men fell in love and worked side-by-side to solve some tricky murder mysteries. They also opened up Lupei Manor, Mikel’s familial home, to other LGBTQ mystical beings in the Erie area. Sadly, being gay in the supernatural world Templeton and Mikel live in can be a death sentence.

During the past year, the magical world has slowly been coming unraveled. Civil unrest now runs rampant through the community as the lesser breeds revolt against the hateful dictates of the Elder Counsel. The uprising will surely touch every person residing in the magical world beside Lady Erie. Will the flames of unrest and war consume everything and everyone Templeton and Mikel hold dear as well?

My Review:
Templeton Reed is a shy skunk shifter working diligently as a lineage specialist for the shifter world. Given the hierarchy of their world skunks are near the bottom–and lots of the “Lesser” shifters are suddenly disappearing–violently. So, he’s worried, but not truly anticipating the attack of a puma and bear shifter. Some quick thinking, skunk-muskiness, and a determined wolf, Mikel Lupei, is all that keeps Templeton on the “still with us” plane. Two things become clear: Templeton’s attack wasn’t random, and Mikel’s got a hankering for his pungent rescuee.

Thing is, same-sex relations are banned in their shifter community. Likewise, even if homosexuality wasn’t a fatal crime, it’s still not okay for a wolf shifter to have relationship with a lesser (skunk) shifter. Defying the laws and customs of their world Templeton and Mikel find love that surpasses their dreams. Unfortunately, it brings more doemsetic trouble than even Mikel could have predicted.

Their love, and the scope of their relationship, grows in the three following novellas. IN these Templeton has the opportunity to show exactly how fierce a lesser shifter can be, risking certain death to uncover the mysteries of murdered shifters, and rescue Mikel from enforcers of their own community. The writing is whimsical, and there’s plenty of sexytimes to balance the action and intrigue. The first time I read AN ERIE GARDEN PARTY I wanted to know more about Templeton, Mikel and their world. Now that I’ve read the whole series, I totally enjoyed the experience. Highly recommend to fans of M/M shifter romance, especially those who love odd shifters and unusual pairings. The series also features some non-shifter paranormal folk, so expect a vamp, or three, as well as some keen insight into societal inequalities and the fight for equal rights for all.

Interested? You can find AN ERIE COLLECTION on Goodreads and Amazon (US and UK) Barnes & Noble, iTunes, and Kobo.

****GIVEAWAY****

Click on this Rafflecopter Giveaway link for your chance to win a backlist book from VL Locey.
Good luck and keep reading my friends!

About the Author:
V.L. Locey loves worn jeans, yoga, belly laughs, Dr. Who, Torchwood, walking, reading and writing lusty tales, Greek mythology, the New York Rangers, comic books, and coffee. (Not necessarily in that order.) She shares her life with her husband, her daughter, one dog, two cats, two Jersey steers and a flock of assorted domestic fowl.

When not writing lusty tales, she can be found enjoying her day with her menagerie in the rolling hills of Pennsylvania with a cup of fresh java in hand.

You can find her on her website, blog, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Goodreads and tsú.

Out now! HONEYMOON FOR ONE–Review and Giveaway!

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review and giveaway for a new contemporary M/M romance from Keira Andrews. HONEYMOON FOR ONE is an older-younger odd-couple story about a jilted fiance who tries to enjoy his lonely honeymoon–and finds unexpected new love on his adventure. The setting is Australia–which seems to be a fave for Ms. Andrews as I’ve enjoyed THE STATION and TEST OF VALOR which are both told from down under…

Scroll down for my review and to enter the giveaway!
About the book:
The wedding is off, but the love story is just beginning.
Betrayed the night before his wedding by the supposed boy of his dreams, Ethan Robinson escapes the devastating fallout by going on his honeymoon alone to the other side of the world. Hard of hearing and still struggling with the repercussions of being late-deafened, traveling by himself leaves him feeling painfully isolated with his raw, broken heart.

Clay Kelly never expected to be starting life over in his forties. He got hitched young, but now his wife has divorced him and remarried, his kids are grown, and he’s left his rural Outback town. In a new career driving a tour bus on Australia’s East Coast, Clay reckons he’s happy enough. He enjoys his cricket, a few beers, and a quiet life. If he’s a bit lonely, it’s not the end of the world.

Clay befriends Ethan, hoping he can cheer up the sad-eyed young man, and a crush on an unattainable straight guy is exactly the safe distraction Ethan needs. Yet as the days pass and their connection grows, long-repressed desires surface in Clay, and they are shocked to discover romance sparking. Clay is the sexy, rugged man of Ethan’s dreams, and as the clock counts down on their time together, neither wants this honeymoon to end.

Honeymoon for One is a gay romance by Keira Andrews featuring a May-December age difference, a slow burn of newfound friends to lovers, first-time m/m sex, and of course a happy ending.

How about a yummy taste?

As Ethan walked through the resort on Fraser Island the next afternoon after a tour to gorgeous Lake McKenzie, he finally admitted to himself that he was looking for Clay.

Because he’s nice! He’s fun to talk to. Besides, my harmless crush is just that. Harmless. Why shouldn’t I enjoy it? Nothing’s going to happen. He’s apparently straight and I’m on the rebound. But we can be friendly. I like his accent, and he’s a nice guy.

Of course, Clay wasn’t just nice. He was sexy. His accent? Sexy. The Australian slang he used that made him sound like Crocodile Dundee sometimes? Sexy. His broad shoulders and solid build? Sexy. That he didn’t have chiseled abs and was a little soft around the middle? Sexy. Those blue eyes, and how the auburn in his hair gleamed in the sun, especially in his beard and the hair on his arms, and how he had freckles…

Sexy, sexy, sexy.

But the sexiest thing of all was how thoughtful he was. How he made such an effort to make sure Ethan could hear him when he spoke. How he’d told him the secret of the Mission Bay sunrise. How he’d copied the tour guide notes for him. Even back in Cairns, how he’d held Ethan’s backpack while Ethan was snorkeling and watched over him, then later took him to buy a hat.

Ethan was wearing the hat now, and it gave him a giddy little thrill.

Is he straight though?

The question had been niggling at him. Clay had been married to a woman for years and had kids, but of course that didn’t mean he was straight. He could be bi or pan. Although he’d mentioned the right woman coming along.

Still, when Ethan had touched his arm that morning on Mission Beach and looked into Clay’s eyes, he swore there had been a flicker between them. That unnamed frisson of knowing.

Wishful thinking. Don’t be an idiot.

There were four pools at the resort, and Ethan strolled around the first two. It was sunny, and through his polarized sunglasses, the water, surrounding palm trees, and forest beyond were vibrant. He waved hello to Shiv—who was reading on a lounger since there was nothing planned for the day after that morning’s trip to the lake in four-by-four jeeps—and continued on to a smaller, kidney-shaped pool that was more tucked away, and—

Fuck. Clay.

There he was, stretched out on a chaise lounge under the shade of an umbrella and surrounding trees on the deck at the far end of the pool. There were a few adults in the water paddling lazily, others on the more exposed side of the concrete deck sunbathing. Kids seemed to be in the bigger pools, their splashing and shrieks distant noises now.

Oh so casually, Ethan ambled around the pool, stealing glances at Clay from the corner of his eye. The chaises on either side of him were vacant. In fact, that whole shady side of the pool was empty and quiet. There was no music piped in, just the rustle of leaves in the breeze. It was perfect.

Clay wore his sexy-AF aviator sunglasses, navy bathing trunks, and nothing else but his gold-colored watch. It was kind of old-fashioned to wear a watch, and it was sexy. He’d apparently taken a dip, since his hair was wet and darker, and drops of water dried on his skin.

His long, muscular legs were crossed at the ankles. There was a newspaper folded over his stomach, his fingers laced on top of it. His nipples were pink amid the reddish hair on his chest, and as Ethan got closer, he imagined licking those nipples.

Heat roaring through him, he swallowed thickly. This was a bad idea, and he should turn back the way he came. But now he was close enough that if Clay saw him, it might seem rude, like Ethan had turned around and left because he was avoiding Clay. So he kept walking slowly around the curve of the shaded deep end, where one woman in a bikini swam a slow side stroke.

Clay’s chaise was partly reclined, and it was entirely possible he was napping and didn’t have any idea Ethan was even there. Ethan slowed even more so his flip-flops didn’t flap on the concrete.

Okay, if I walk by and he doesn’t notice me, that’s a sign. I’ll keep going and stop being ridiculous.

He was still at least ten feet away when Clay called, “Ethan!” and lifted a hand in a wave.

“Oh, hey!” Ethan replied too loudly. Calm the fuck down. He smiled as he approached. “You found a good shady spot.”

“Yep. Got skin cancer once when I was younger, so I reckoned me and the sun aren’t mates.”

Ethan gaped. “Oh my God. I’m sorry. You said before that you had to be careful, but I didn’t realize.”

“Nah, nah. Don’t be sorry.” He casually motioned to the chaise on his left in invitation. Ethan spread out his striped resort towel and settled in, his heart beating too fast as he took off his hat since they were in the shade. Clay added, “I shouldn’t be so dramatic—it wasn’t melanoma. Basal cell carcinoma. Quite common in Australia. It can’t spread, so it’s not dangerous like other cancers. Still, I had to have surgery to remove it, so it’s not nothing.”

“Wow. I’m glad it wasn’t melanoma. Obviously. Where was it?” he asked before realizing how intrusive that was. Even though Clay really felt like a friend now, Ethan had to remember it was probably mostly in his head. “I’m sorry, I’m being totally nosy! You don’t have to tell me.”

See? This was a bad idea. I’m going to make a fool of myself with this crush. Maybe it’s not so harmless after all.

“No worries. It was on the back of my left shoulder.” Clay leaned forward, angling so Ethan could see. He reached over that shoulder with his right hand, his fingers finding a pale circle of a scar. Just below it was a tattoo, a green sort of shield with a yellow sun rising over a green horizon and five stars dotting the shield. It was a few inches wide and several inches long.

“Cool tattoo.” Ethan had never been compelled to get one, but he enjoyed looking at other people’s. Before he could stop himself, he traced it with his fingertip. Clay’s back was freckled as well, and goddamn, why was that so sexy? The seconds ticked by as he touched Clay, neither of them saying anything.

Finally, Ethan asked, “Does it mean something?” He was still touching, and Clay shivered. Ethan dropped his hand, his mouth dry.

Clay cleared his throat as he sat back. “It’s part of the Cricket Australia logo. On their uniforms there’s a roo on the left and an emu on the right, and ‘Australia’ written underneath.” He laughed and muttered something Ethan missed.

“What was the last part? Sorry.”

“I thought having the full logo was overkill for a tattoo. Didn’t want it too big, but I like having a little something.”

“You really love cricket, huh?”

Clay laughed. “What gave me away?”

Ethan chuckled. “Oh, you were going to tell me about that thing. The…” He racked his brain for the right word. “Ashes?”

“Ah, yes.” Clay tipped his head forward and peered at Ethan over the rims of his aviators with his intensely blue eyes. A thrill of desire shot through Ethan’s veins. Clay asked, “Are you sure you really want to know? No need to humor me, mate.”

“No, I really do!” He laughed, and it came out shaky, so he faked a cough. “I always loved sports when I was younger, and I want to get back into them. Although the Mets were epically bad last season, so I wasn’t very inspired to hop back on the bandwagon.”

“What happened to make you lose your interest? I can’t imagine.”

“Oh. It was…” Ethan motioned to his ears. “I lost interest in basically everything. I was really depressed for, like, four years. But the last year’s been a lot better. I’ve come to terms with it, I guess. But I’m still not the way I was before.”

“Ah.” Clay nodded sympathetically. “I understand. Still finding your footing. It can take a while. When I first moved down to Sydney, it was quite a culture shock. My entire life was upended. Home, work—the whole bit.”

“Yeah.” Ethan hesitated, but the way Clay watched him so patiently and without judgement gave him the confidence to say, “And now, being single again, it’s just so…weird. Like, who am I if… If I’m not with Michael?” Saying his name aloud was painful, but felt good at the same time, to release some of the pressure inside him.

Clay nodded again. “I was half of Mr. and Mrs. Kelly for so long. It hurt to lose that, no mistake.” He smiled sadly. “Hell, I still feel like I’m finding my footing. Thought I should have figured it all out by now, but that’s life for ya, I reckon.”

Warmth filled Ethan’s chest, affection and understanding flowing. “Always full of surprises, right?” And some that were actually good surprises. Like meeting a sexy older man who somehow likes me. Somehow gets me.

“Indeed.” Clay looked at him for a moment. Then he said, “You know, it’s nice to chat about it with someone on the same page. Haven’t really made many mates since I moved, and aside from Facebook, I don’t see the blokes from the Curry. Not that we’d talk much about this sort of thing.”

It made Ethan feel so damn good to be in Clay’s confidence. He had to stop himself from grinning delightedly. Instead, he joked, “Strong silent types in the outback, huh?”

Clay chuckled. “Something like that.” He sipped from a bottle of water. “Glad to have met you.” Then he jolted and looked horrified. “Not saying I’m glad at the trauma you’ve had. It’s awful that your wedding was called off.” He grimaced. “Maybe it’s best for me not to talk about all this after all.”

“No, no. It’s okay. I know what you meant. No offense taken.” He smiled genuinely, relieved when Clay visibly relaxed. But maybe it was time to lighten the subject. Sitting back on his chaise, Ethan said, “All right, tell me all about the mysterious Ashes. Maybe cricket can be my new sport.” And since it was something important to Clay, he really did want to know about it.

Clay grinned. “If you insist.” He sat back and re-crossed his ankles. “What do you know about cricket?”

“Um…nothing? It’s kind of like baseball and takes forever to play?”

Throwing his head back, Clay laughed, exposing his neck. Ethan watched his Adam’s apple. Clay said, “I’ll start at the beginning.”

Ethan nodded and uh-huhed as Clay outlined the basics. Stumps, bats, a wicket, a pitch, creases, bowling—Ethan wasn’t sure he really understood all the info, but he kept nodding, loving the rumble of Clay’s voice.

“Is this making sense?” Clay asked.

“Yes! I mean, it’s a lot to try and take in, but I think I get it.”

“We should watch a match. It’s really the best way to learn.”

Belly somersaulting, Ethan tried to keep his voice casual. “That would be cool, yeah. So what’s the thing about ashes?”

“The Ashes is a test series between England and Australia. Test matches can go five days, as opposed to an ODI—” He cut off. “You’re going to be bored shitless if I go into the overs and innings and all that. In a nutshell, England and Australia play a series every year or so of five matches. It’s very competitive. Lots of patriotic pride tied up in it. The name comes from the late 1800s, when we beat England for the first time over there. Being beaten by the colonies on English soil was quite a shock for the poor pommies, bless their hearts. Our bowler went fourteen wickets for ninety.”

“I have no idea what that means, but it sounds good?” Ethan laughed. Clay laughed as well, and God, he was so hot.

“It was very good. So one of the London papers published a mock obit for English cricket after we won. At the end it said, ‘The body will be cremated and the ashes taken to Australia.’ The Brits were determined to get the ashes back, and over the years, mumble mumble.”

A chattering couple walking by made the last part impossible to hear, but Ethan guessed, “Over the years that became the name of the tournament?”

Clay frowned after the couple, who thankfully kept walking. “You’ve got it. Legend goes that when England came back to Australia to play, a lady gave the captain an urn with the ashes of a burnt cricket ball inside. That urn’s in a museum at the MCC in England, but now the winning team gets a crystal version of it to keep until the next series.”

“Are you serious?”

“Mate, I never joke about cricket. Ever.”

Ethan grinned. “I love that the trophy is an urn. That’s awesome. Thanks for explaining all that.”

“I’d give you an ear-bashing all day about cricket if you let me.”

I’d let you do so many things to me.

Before Ethan’s mind could veer too far down the path of wondering what Clay’s beard would feel like against his face if they kissed, Clay said, “Tell me about baseball. Your Mets aren’t doing so well?”

“Not last season. But there was one year when I was a kid? We didn’t make the World Series, but it was still amazing. You know, when everything seems to go right during the season, and the players are all awesome guys and you feel like you know them, and you’re rooting so hard for them. And when they win, it’s just the best feeling in the world.”

Clay grinned. “Nothing like it, mate.” Then he laughed, his shoulders shaking.

“What?” Ethan laughed too. “You get it, right?”

“Absolutely.” Clay looked like he was trying to stop laughing but couldn’t manage it.

What?” Ethan nudged Clay’s bare arm with his fist, resisting the urge to flatten his palm over the firm, hair-dusted muscles. He groaned as he thought back over what he’d said. “Oh, I see. ‘Rooting so hard.’ You know I didn’t mean it like that. ‘Root’ doesn’t mean sex in the US.” He giggled, because he and Clay were apparently twelve.

As they laughed together over the silly joke, Ethan’s hearing aid battery beeped in his left ear. That meant the right likely would go soon too. Grimacing at the loud beep, he said, “Sorry, I need to go change my hearing aid batteries. They beep to let me know.”

“No worries. I’ll try to compose myself. Of course now my mind’s full of stupid jokes.”

Ethan grinned. “Tell me one before I go.”

“Well, did you know Australian’s don’t have sex?”

Hearing the word “sex” come out of Clay’s mouth had Ethan’s balls tingling and his head going light. His voice sounded too high as he said, “No? What do they do?”

“They mate.”

Ethan burst out laughing, and Clay joined in. Sure, it was childish. But he didn’t give a shit. It was fun. Michael would have rolled his eyes because he was always too snobby for puns. And wow, Ethan realized he and Michael hadn’t had goofy fun in a long, long time.

He’d missed feeling so relaxed. Like, he didn’t have to worry about what Clay would think if he made a dumb joke or announced, “that’s what she said” after a double entendre. Because Clay would laugh along with him.

Because Clay was awesome.

My Review:
Ethan is a 27 y/o out gay man who has been battling through depression over the loss of his parents and his hearing all in the past few years. He struggled since college, but now he has a job he likes and he and his college boyfriend, Michael, are one day away from wedded bliss! At least, until Ethan arrives home early on the night of the rehearsal dinner and finds that Michael is…uh, occupied, with another lover. Ethan is devastated to learn the depth of Michael’s betrayal, but he’s unwilling to go along with Michael’s new poly plan, even if he does understand that their relationship had been floundering before Michael accepted his proposal.

Having lost out of the boy of his dreams, Ethan’s set on not missing his honeymoon trip to Australia. It was a promise he’d made to his dying mother to visit the land down under, and though he’s heartbroken and miserable, Ethan takes it. There he meet’s Clay, the big and burly bluey (redhead) from the outback. Clay is in his mid-40s and recently divorced. He has two adult children, and is constantly being pestered by his ex-wife and daughter to find a new woman to share his life. Clay isn’t really interested in dating, but he can’t stop noticing Ethan. And not only because he’s young, fit and single. Clay has a huge protective streak in him, and he’s called into action to help Ethan nearly from the beginning. Learning Ethan’s tale of woe, and knowing how hard he’s found it to cope with becoming hard of hearing, keeps Clay on guard to pitch in.

They spend extra time together, and Ethan revels in it. Unfortunately, Clay’s worldview takes a big shift when he discovers a level of attraction he’d never anticipated. He’s never even thought about being with a man–it wasn’t done in his small outback town. His only experience with gays has been slurs and hate crimes he’d overheard. The very idea of being with Ethan…that way…is terrifying, but he’s also terrified of Ethan walking away and taking the only spark of attraction Clay’s had in years back the States.

I really liked the emotional balance in this one. It starts out pretty melancholy, what with the betrayal and Ethan coming to terms with yet another abandonment situation. He’s trying to make the best of things but he hadn’t really traveled much since he got the hearing aids, and there are so many new situations it’s hard for him to cope. Every thing, every experience, seems colored or filtered through a lens of what Michael would have done, or wanted, and it takes Ethan some time to bust free of those negative sentiments. Clay is a tantalizing bit of eye-candy, but the more intimate they become the more they recognized how unfulfilled they were in their relationships. It’s a wild ride for straight-Clay, who is likely somewhere in the demisexual spectrum. He doesn’t want to come out, but he doesn’t want to let go of Ethan. He has some intense internalized homophobia that he’s able to work through with patience, and listening, from Ethan. While this initially had vacation fling written in bold letters and red ink, this new connection is too good to let languish. Ethan’s still ready for a new beginning, and Clay is poised for starting over. With their lack of ties, it makes a global move possible, one that ties an HEA onto this story. It was kinda cool how that all worked out, without seeming obnoxious, or contrived.

Interested? You can find HONEYMOON FOR ONE on Goodreads and Amazon (US and UK).

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

Keira AndrewsAbout the Author:
After writing for years yet never really finding the right inspiration, Keira discovered her voice in gay romance, which has become a passion. She writes contemporary, historical, paranormal and fantasy fiction, and—although she loves delicious angst along the way—Keira firmly believes in happy endings. For as Oscar Wilde once said, “The good ended happily, and the bad unhappily. That is what fiction means.”

You can catch up with Keira on her website, Facebook, twitter, and Goodreads.

LEANING INTO FOREVER–Audiobook review

Hi there! Going back into my WAY BACK mode, I missed this M/M romance from Lane Hayes, which came out several months back…but it recently dropped as an audiobook! LEANING INTO FOREVER is the seventh book in her Leaning In series, and follows the love story of Geordie, a grieving widower and partner to Wes at Conrad Winery. He’s vowed to never find another man to fill his heart, but retired baseball player, Levi, unexpectedly slides past his defenses. I really liked LEANING INTO THE FALL, LEANING INTO ALWAYS, LEANING INTO A WISH, LEANING INTO THE LOOK, and LEANING INTO TOUCH, so I was eager to round out my experiences with these Bay-area romances.

About the book:
Geordie de la Rosa is a legend among wine lovers in Napa Valley. His ultra-fabulous style paired with a penchant for leading impromptu sing-a-longs has made him a star attraction at Conrad Winery. Co-owning a well-respected winery was never Geordie’s aspiration but he likes the niche he’s made for himself. He won’t deny that his job and his friends have helped ease his heartache and grief after the death of his longtime partner.

Levi Yeager excels at the art of reinventing himself. He’s been a minor league baseball player, a college coach and now a restaurant owner. The problem is he doesn’t know a thing about the food business. And when his chef quits unexpectedly, he’s afraid his new venture is doomed. But Levi isn’t a quitter. It may be the only thing he has in common with the beautiful, sassy man from the neighboring winery who agrees to help get his new business up and running. Neither man counts on their fast friendship or the wild attraction they feel for each other. However, they know they won’t stand a chance until they let go of the past and lean into forever.

How about a little taste?

“My game is coming back. If I keep talking and you keep listening, you’ll eventually warm up to me. Where was I?”

“The psychology of alliterations,” I deadpanned.

“Right. Your tone is imperial, you use alliterations like a poet and you dress like a diva. You’re pleasant to strangers but you hold them at bay. You’re kind but controlled. Most likely you were an elite member of a royal family in a former life.”

“You’re probably right,” I said, amused in spite of myself. “Since you have me figured me, let me see if I can do the same.”

“Be my guest.” Levi made a sweeping motion with his left arm before resting it on his steering wheel. The casual gesture was ripe with potent masculinity. And I hated that I noticed.

I tore my gaze from his stubble jaw and cleared my throat. “You’re a newly out sports enthusiast at a crossroad.”

“Sports enthusiast at a crossroads,” he repeated with a laugh. “I guess that’s better than has-been athlete looking for a new gig.”

“As you said, I do have a way with words and I’m a firm believer it’s crucial to accentuate the positives.” I set my hand over his without thinking then pulled back when a familiar spark of awareness skittered along my spine.

Levi smirked. “You’re weird. I like you.”

“Thanks. I like you too. Platonically of course,” I added.

“Of course. What exactly is my crossroad?”

“I’m not sure. Perhaps you quit your job to try a new venture with this lover who dumped you and now you’re heading to LA to woo him back—”

“Not a chance,” he snapped.

I raised a brow at his vehemence. “Or…you’re going on a fact-finding mission to salvage what you can of your original idea and determine what comes next.”

Levi nodded. “Closer.”

“Have you thought about selling the diner?”

“Yes. But I’m not going to.”

“Why not?”

“I have nothing to lose. And you know what? It’s kinda liberating. No net required ’cause I’m already free falling. Have you ever felt that way before, Geord?”

Every fucking day.

Silence fell like a blanket between us. Soft and warm and safe.  I didn’t want to break the quiet but I couldn’t allow myself to be pulled under either.

I licked my lips and whispered, “Yes.”

Suddenly, I couldn’t move and I couldn’t look away. Maybe I was a sucker for ruggedly handsome men who weren’t ashamed to reveal their vulnerable sides. I admired that he made free-falling sound like an adventure. I’d been doing it for nearly four years and my outlook was nothing like Levi’s. I worked my ass off to make sure no one knew how tired and raw and afraid I felt every damn day. I clung to the best parts of my past like a lifeline, hoping my ghosts would ease the inevitable ‘splat on the concrete’ nosedive I had coming my way.

Levi’s story was certainly different, but I recognized something in him I knew too well. A desperate spirit that wasn’t quite ready to give up. I’d like to think that sense of acknowledgment was why I leaned across the console, closed my eyes and pressed my lips against his.

My Review:
Geordie is a mature man who’s suffered the loss of his long-time partner, Mike. Geordie remains a partner in the Conrad Winery, that Mike and his best friend (and former lover) Wes Conrad founded together. Wes and Geordie didn’t get along at first, but Geordie’s brash, in-your-face diva role from his years as a drag queen mellowed during his ten years with Mike, and now the four years since his death. He still entertains at the winery, belting out show tunes while expertly pairing food and wine, though, and Wes volunteers Geordie to assist a new cafe owner in setting up a pairing menu–now that the cafe will feature only Conrad wines exclusively.

Levi Yeager is a retired baseball player in his late thirties, but he’s only newly out in the gay scene. His dream to return to the family cafe he grew up in is in jeopardy, now that his head chef–and former lover–has decided not to relocate to Napa from L.A. Levi’s pretty-much immediately taken with Geordie, who feels he’s a decade past his prime, but can’t help feeling flattered by the admiration of such a strong, sexy younger man. Levi proposes a partnership–Geordie helping him with translating his grandmother’s cookbook–written in Spanish–and he’ll show Geordie there’s more life to be lived.

As much as Geordie struggles to let go of his grief, he’s also aware that he is still alive, and that Levi doesn’t treat him like the broken man he’s felt like since Mike passed. It’s bittersweet how Geordie feels compelled to maintain his celibacy, and constantly talk to Mike as if he’s listening. Levi takes it all in stride, getting Geordie to open up and experience some new and old things–like riding a motorcycle for the first time, and riding a Vespa again after two decades. Geordie’s friends see the changes for the better, and this gives Geordie the confidence to let Levi in when he would not normally do so. Levi is tender, and patient. He cherishes the struggle Geordie fights to take a chance on love again. It’s kinda funny how they struggle with jealousy issues to a small degree.

I liked the audiobook, and valued the narrator’s gravitas when rendering Geordie’s voice. Both men seem to have problems with starting over, but Levi’s are centered in falling for the wrong man again, while Geordie’s stem from guilt over “forgetting” Mike. Thing is, Levi’s okay with Geordie’s love for Mike, and thinks it’s perfectly fine for him to grieve and find new love. It was so wholly accepting, and gave Geordie the courage to start again. They have a bit of sexytimes, and it’s both sad and celebratory. I really enjoyed the depth of emotions in the book, and I felt it came through is a big way because the narrator’s voice carried the pain of loss, and the hollowness of the shell he’d become to mask his grief. It was endearing to watch him open up and accept Levi’s love. I really enjoyed.

Interested? You can find LEANING INTO FOREVER on Goodreads, Amazon ebook, and Audible (audiobook).

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

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

About the Narrator:
Nick Russo is an award winning narrator with a fan following for his work in fiction, specifically in the romance genre. His performances in two of Amy Lane’s books, Beneath the Stain and Christmas Kitsch, made him the recipient of Sinfully M/M Book Review’s Narrator of the Year – 2015. When he’s not in the booth, Nick enjoys spending time with his wife, Jessica, and kids, (aka their beagle Frank and cat Stella), drumming in his cover band, exploring rural back roads with his wife on his motorcycle, or being enthralled in a tabletop role playing game with his friends.

Catch up with Nick on Facebook and Twitter.

Falling for PROFESSOR ADORKABLE Review and Giveaway!

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a release week review and giveaway for a new contemporary M/M romance from Edie Danford. I’ve reviewed a few of Edie’s books for Joyfully Jay, and I’ve liked all of them. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on her latest release, PROFESSOR ADORKABLE, because it features a nerdy Czech physics professor and the adorbs housekeeper who helps him feel brave and desirable. It’s such a sweet odd-couple, friends to lovers story.

Catch an excerpt and enter to win in the $10 Amazon GC giveaway down below.
About the book:
What happens when a star-gazing professor falls for his hot young housekeeper? One heck of an earthy explosion…

Professor Marek Janos’s genius at analyzing stellar explosions doesn’t apply to his own disordered world. Forgetting to eat, sleep, and leave his lab has triggered some epic personal disasters. When his family insists he hire live-in help, he discovers home life has awesome benefits. His new housekeeper’s smile sparks more energy than a supernova. And the way he moves? It rocks Marek’s galaxy.

Pete Schulz took a tough fall from his high-flying life in Hollywood. But how does a guy whose best skill is getting dirty clean up his act? His new gig with Domesticated Inc seems like a great first step. Keeping house for a nerdy young astrophysics professor is exactly the low-key, no-chance-for-trouble job he needs, right?

Living together is surprisingly easy for both men. And fun. And more than a little hot. It’s when they’re faced with the idea of living apart that the truly messy work begins…

How about a little taste?

“I made the mess,” I tell my housekeeper. “So I will clean it up.”

“Yeah, I know you can clean it up if given several hours,” Pete responds, his smile crooked. There are no signs of exasperation on his face or in his tone. No signs that he’s upset I’ve woken him up with the sound of breaking glass, and that his once-pristine kitchen floor is now covered with a mess I could have easily avoided if I’d been paying attention. “But it’s my job. Tomorrow morning your job is to go teach a class. You’ll sleep until eight, eat a good breakfast, and then be off.”

I raise my eyebrows. “That is exactly how it will happen?”

“I’ll make sure of it.”

“What if I want to negotiate?”

“Negotiate?”

“Yes. Things can be negotiated in a democratic household, yes?”

“Democratic?”

I smile. “We have no dictators here. Or kings or queens.”

“Well.” He snorts. “There is that matter of your uncle signing my paycheck. But I get what you’re saying, I guess. What were you interested in negotiating?”

“Tonight I feel…antsy? Unable to relax.” I move my shoulders up and down to show him all this tension I’m experiencing. “I’ll go upstairs and sleep, but first I would like company. To hang out with you. For a while.”

His mouth droops as he folds his arms across his bare chest and stares at me. “So you’re saying you’ll let me do my job. But only if I give up my free time for you?”

“Um.” It’s cool in the kitchen, but my face suddenly becomes steam-burn hot.

Damn. I’m incredibly bad at talking to him—or any guy—I find attractive. Doesn’t matter where I am—Prague, Pasadena, Chicago. My language barrier isn’t about Czech versus English. It’s about my head versus my tongue.

What I want with Pete is complicated, not simple. But, as usual, I’ve said words that could be construed as—

God, I don’t even know what.

“You suck at negotiating, Marek.” He says it with a kind note in his voice.

“Yes.” I clear my throat. “I do.”

He sighs and runs his hand over his short hair—hair I want so fucking badly to touch. Is it bristly, soft? Would it sift through my fingers easily, or would it be like my hair and cling to my skin?

“I suppose we could listen to one Harry Potter chapter,” he says, lacking his usual enthusiasm for the idea. “But just one. And if you fall asleep or if I fall asleep or if we both fall asleep, it will be your job to wake up and go back to bed. No sleepovers. That’s a rule that’s not allowed to change.”

I swallow. Ordinarily I would give him shit about the unreasonableness of his request—if we’re asleep, how will we know we’re asleep and thus breaking his rules?

But I keep quiet tonight. I know I’m pushing him. I know he’s beginning to figure out I want more than just his company. So much more.

If this were a work-related matter, I would get my way with a few basic words. Logic applies in my lab. When it comes to my personal life, however, logic rarely applies. Basic words never seem to work.

If I tell Pete what I really want—to take him into his room, to put him on his comfortable bed, to kiss his clever mouth over and over and over, to blow him until his sweet hotness spills down my throat, to hold him tightly and use friction to excellent effect (inside or outside our bodies, I don’t care) until we both come—then he would say “no” quickly and firmly, and quietly shut that detestable door in my face. And I’ll be lucky if he’s still around in the morning.

The situation between us is confusing. I hope this is more than just his workplace. We are friends. He’s my best friend, actually. And he’s the one who makes this place a home.

Occasionally, I have a hard time understanding…what had my language tutor called it? Nuance. Nuanced meanings. Pete and I have a lot of nuances happening between us.

“One chapter would be good,” I tell him. “Chapter Twelve. ‘The Tri-wizard Tournament.’ I need to know all about it.”

He nods and tips his head toward the open door to his suite. “I’ll meet you in there.”

My heart bounces around in my chest—more zaps from that ionizer—but my head doesn’t like the take-care-of-business look on Pete’s face. No smile, no teasing, no dancing notes to the way his boots clap against the tile floor. He checks the locks and the deadbolts on the back door and walks toward his room.

He glances at his doorway and then me, his eyebrows rising. He looks as though he’s holding his breath, maybe holding back a sigh.

Maybe it would be better to give him space tonight. Better for me to be apart from what I want so much, but can’t have. I should walk away, go back to my room without bothering Pete.

My damp toes stick to the cold floor. I want to be more than a job for him. I want to be more than some guy he feels sorry for, some guy who can’t even say what he wants.

I walk over to the sink and retrieve a glass from the nearby cabinet. I fill the glass half full at the tap and then drink. I set it down carefully. The water is cold, but my skin feels hot. I can feel Pete watching me, waiting.

My eyes shift to the hallway. But my feet carry me toward Pete.

My Review:

Marek Janos is a certified astrophysics genius. He’s 26, with two PhDs and a professorship at University of Chicago–yet he struggles with the day-to-day business of life. Sure, part of this is due to him being a Czech transplant to the States but mostly it’s him being out-of-step with real life. He’s an adult, but a bit naive, with a history of being taken advantage of–mostly recently by his ex-boyfriend who quite literally took him for all he was worth. Homeless, living in his lab, and ill weren’t what his family wished to see, so his uncle took it upon himself to find Marek a house, and housekeeper, when he moved from California to Chicago.

Pete is a 23 y/o out gay man trying to live without being fabulous for a change. He’s recently returned from a life and scene in LA where his assistant job for a TV studio exec had an “anything goes” policy–and apparently anything went… Ashamed of his callow life, and burning off the fumes of Insta-fame gone stale, Pete is happy to be a domestic assistant, and Marek’s home is an ideal place to work. Doesn’t matter that Marek is “adorkable;” Pete is remaining celibate, and steering clear of blurring any lines in his professional capacity. He’s got a bunch of rules to keep him free of sexy entanglements, and he doesn’t want to risk being fired due to the clause in his one-year contract that will keep him from contacting Marek, who has become his friend.

Pete likes Marek. A lot. He’s also suspicious why Marek’s uncle insisted on hiring him–specifically he was looking for a “worldly gay man” to manage Marek’s household–because reasons. Did he expect Pete to be more than a housekeeper? Or was he simply concerned that Marek would need someone to help him out of his shell. It’s confusing, and Pete needs clarity. Of course, Marek and Pete have been getting closer and closer as the months have passed. They spend time talking, and listening to audiobooks of Harry Potter cozied up in Pete’s room. Pete takes the time to make special treats for Marek, and this makes Marek feel special. Comfortable. Interested.

Marek’s not so good with nuance, but he’s definitely able to be direct. He makes no mistake about how he wants Pete to be more than his housekeeper. His friend, his lover. These are the roles Marek wants to see Pete in. There are some complications regarding family, and Pete’s desire to be with Marek without messing up his life again. They make an agreement that Pete will be a test subject in Marek’s exploration of the Chicago gay scene. Pete only agrees to some level of intimacy–well more intimacy–if Marek will date other, suitable men. See, Pete, due to his history of being a boy toy, doesn’t feel worthy of being loved by Marek. Meanwhile, Marek decides to up his game, calling Pete’s old friends for make-overs that turn Pete’s head nearly off his body. The urge for each man to take care of the other is both tender and strong. Marek never doubts that Pete is good enough; he only fears he won’t be brave enough to do what is necessary to prove he’s capable of surviving on his own so Pete doesn’t feel as if Marek’s “love” is just misplaced need. Not that Pete thinks Marek will take advantage of him.  Pete has the resources to walk away from Marek, as it turns out. But, should he?

I really loved how these guys interact. They are so careful, and thoughtful, with one another. Pete’s tentative nature about slipping into bad patterns is interesting, and admirable. Marek’s naivete is charming, as is his calculating mind. He approaches problems head-on now, which shows a lot of growth over his previous experiences in Cali. His absolute steadfast belief that he will win Pete’s heart and mind is endearing. Pete, despite his youthful foibles, is really being a bit too hard on himself, and Marek helps him recognize this. Marek’s Czech-accented English felt more charming than stereotypical, and the boys all seem to swoon for Marek, but he’s only got eyes for his Pete. The Chicago realities–including the crap weather in January and the crap traffic any dang time of year–were spot on, for me. As a Chicago native, I loved those details and look forward to seeing more of it in books in this new series. I liked the secondary characters, especially Marek’s gal-pal Zoe, who’s an outspoken teen girl who works in his lab. She’s got gumption, and is willing to help Marek tailor his experiments to get the desired results: Pete loving Marek…forever.

Interested? You can find PROFESSOR ADORKABLE 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.

Meet the Author
Edie lives in Vermont with her husband, two sons, and random creatures that might or might not be pets. She loves libraries (where she’s found play, work, and love since she was a kid), long walks (unless ice is involved), lewd language (in the right context), luscious romance (of any variety), and alliteration.

Catch up with Edie on her website, Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads.

Out today! STARTING OVER–Release Day Blitz and Giveaway!

Hi there! I’ back with a release day blast and giveaway for a new book and series by C.J. Baty. STARTING OVER is the first book in her Knights Club series, but is a spin off from the Warfield Hotel Mystery books. I’m looking forward to sharing a review for it next week.

Scroll down for more info and enter to win an ebook in the giveaway.
About the book:
Xavier Knight was starting his life over. A new city. A new club. The past was gone, and he had everything to look forward to… except… love. That ship had sailed, never to return. He was too old to play the games or stack up the one night stands. Until, an old enemy’s son walked into his club and his heart.

Sebastian Brady was through. Through with hiding who he was. Through letting his brother officers dictate his life. And completely through, with his family telling him who he was. He turned his back on his badge and his family’s heritage in the Atlanta police force. But, he never imagined that he’d be serving drinks in a gay bar and working for the hottest silver fox he had ever seen in his life.

Xavier and Seb have a lot to learn from each other. Hopefully, their growing love will survive Xavier’s past, Seb’s family, and a host of characters with secrets of their own, who all work at the Knights Club.

Insights from the Author:

The Knights Club (formerly the Gentleman’s Club) first appeared in the Warfield Hotel Mysteries Series. It was owned by Stony Whitecastle and is located in Atlanta, GA. At the beginning of the Knights Club/Starting Over, Stony is selling the club to Xavier Knight. He renames the club the Knights Club and instead of a private club opens it the public. Some patrons still hold membership though.

This series involves Xavier and his crew of employees and their involvement with a local police family. We meet Sebastian Brady in Starting Over along with his dysfunctional family. Seb’s struggle with his homophobic oldest brother and the shadow of his dead father, Detective Delmonico Brady, haunts Seb as he tries to make a new life for himself.

Occasionally, a character from the Warfield Hotel series will pop up but they are not central to the story line. Everyone who works at the Knights Club has a past and secret they are running from. They are mixed bag of people who have been suffered many things. The Knights Club is their home and the people who work there are their families. But, even families don’t like each other all the time…

The Knights Club Series Release schedule:
Bk. 1 Starting Over September 18, 2018 Today, yo!
Bk. 2 Letting Go October 2018
Bk. 3 Coming Out November 2018
Bk. 4 Learning Trust December 2018
Bk. 5 Deserving Forgiveness January 2019

Interested? You can find STARTING OVER on Goodreads and Amazon US and UK.

****GIVEAWAY****

Click on this Rafflecopter Giveaway link for your chance to win an ebook of STARTING OVER.
Good luck and keep reading my friends!

About the author:
C. J. Baty lives in southwest Ohio. Her heart, however, lives in the mountains of Tennessee where she hopes to retire some day. The mountains have always provided her with inspiration and a soothing balm to the stresses of everyday life.

The dream of writing her own stories started in high school but was left on the back burner of life until her son introduced her to fan fiction and encouraged her to give it a try. She found that her passion for telling a story was still there and writing them down to share with others was much more thrilling than she had ever expected.

She has a loving and supportive family who don’t mind fixing their own meals when she is in the middle of a story, and a network of friends who have encouraged and cheered her on in her quest of being an author.

One thing she has learned from life and she is often heard to say is: “You are never too old to follow your dream!”

Catch up with C.J. on her website, Facebook or twitter.

Rock Starred: RIVEN, a Review

Hi there! Long time no posts… EEP!! I got sucked into overtime in the past two-weeks, and my life went haywire. That said, I’m still reading tons, so today I’m sharing a review for a new contemporary M/M rock romance from Roan Parrish. RIVEN features a lead singer at the top of his fame falling for a musician hiding from his addictions.

About the book:
Theo Decker might be the lead singer of Riven, but he hates being a rock star. The paparazzi, the endless tours, being recognized everywhere he goes—it all makes him squirm. The only thing he doesn’t hate is the music. Feeling an audience’s energy as they lose themselves in Riven’s music is a rush unlike anything else . . . until he meets Caleb Blake Whitman. Caleb is rough and damaged, yet his fingers on his guitar are pure poetry. And his hands on Theo? They’re all he can think about. But Caleb’s no groupie—and one night with him won’t be enough.

Just when Caleb is accepting his new life as a loner, Theo Decker slinks into it and turns his world upside-down. Theo’s sexy and brilliant and addictively vulnerable, and all Caleb wants is another hit. And another. That’s how he knows Theo’s trouble. Caleb can’t even handle performing these days. How the hell is he going to survive an affair with a tabloid superstar? But after Caleb sees the man behind the rock star, he begins to wonder if Theo might be his chance at a future he thought he’d lost forever.

My Review:
Theo Decker is the lead singer of Riven, a rock band formed by his three bandmates: Coco, Ven and Ethan. He was brought on board and his vocals and songs have propelled the band into stardom. But, Theo’s always felt like the odd-man-out, in his band and his family. Disconnected and frustrated by the stifling trappings of his unwanted fame, he stumbles into a dark bar called by a haunting tune drifting into the alley.

Caleb Blake Whitman was a top blues guitarist and songwriter, but for trips to rehab has left him a shell of the vibrant man he’d been. Clean from his heroin habit for the past year, he’s just starting to write songs again. Meeting the sexy, yet shy Theo isn’t in his life plan. They have some serious chemistry in the bedroom–so much so that Theo tracks Caleb down when he’s off tour. Caleb isn’t thrilled about the prospect of dating a rock star because fame brings drugs–and he’s unsure if he can be around Theo and avoid the pull of his addictions.

I liked the slow steps these guys took into making their relationship work. Theo only feels truly at home when he’s near Caleb. They build a camaraderie that makes a safe zone for Caleb to write music again–songs for himself, for his former lover and best-friend, and songs for Theo. Theo’s writing is changing, too, and his new music isn’t in sync with Riven’s style or brand. Being loved by Caleb is a big bolster to Theo’s self-esteem. His disenchantment with touring and fame has been taking a huge toll on his emotional health. The few times Caleb’s able to be with Theo when he performs are big steps for both of them, but Caleb’s fear of failing in his sobriety is a huge barrier to their happiness. Caleb holds Theo at arm’s length in fear that the love he’s feeling is too close the the high he got while using. It’s a tough balance actually, and takes some hard truths from his sponsor and his bestie to get past his fear.

Theo’s ready for a big change, and while he’s been building some stronger friendships within the band, he knows that continuing that lifestyle is untenable. Especially if he’s going to build a life with Caleb. Theo’s emotions are so palpable, and overwhelming. He’s a guy who craves love, and Caleb’s attention is the most love he’s had in a long time, maybe ever. I liked this one a lot. Theo and Caleb are both out, and their problems aren’t related to their sexuality. Instead, they struggle with finding healthy love that supports and affirms. Theo’s sterile childhood set him up for a lonely adulthood, which is paradoxically reinforced by his fame. Caleb never had a problem with fame, it’s drugs that ruined his life and career. Each man has to learn to love himself, first, and that helps them to each be better partners for the other. It’s a sweet story with yummy sexytimes.

Interested? You can find RIVEN on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes and Kobo. I read a review copy via NetGalley.

About the Author:
Roan Parrish lives in Philadelphia, where she is gradually attempting to write love stories in every genre.

When not writing, she can usually be found cutting her friends’ hair, meandering through whatever city she’s in while listening to torch songs and melodic death metal, or cooking overly elaborate meals. She loves bonfires, winter beaches, minor chord harmonies, and self-tattooing. One time she may or may not have baked a six-layer chocolate cake and then thrown it out the window in a fit of pique. She is represented by Courtney Miller-Callihan of Handspun Literary Agency.

You can find Roan online on her website, Facebook and twitter.

Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!

Being True to LOVE YOU SO MADLY–Review and Giveaway!

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review and giveaway for a new contemporary M/M romance from Tara Lain. LOVE YOU SO MADLY is the second book in her Love You So series and features a successful business man who unexpectedly falls for the office handy-man. I’ve really loved a bunch of Ms. Lain’s odd-couple romances including VOLLEY BALLS, BEAUTY INC and THE LORD OF A THOUSAND STEPS to name a few.

Scroll down for an excerpt, my review and to enter the $10 Amazon GC giveaway!
About the book:
Ben Shane has it all… and he’d like to give some of it back. While he loves his job heading a foundation that funds worthy causes around the world, his engagement to one of America’s wealthiest men leaves him feeling more like a trophy wife than a valued partner. The first warning that his relationship might not be designed to last is his irresistible lust for Dusty Kincaid, the golden-haired, bright-eyed handyman for his company.

Though Dusty is odd for a twenty-three-year-old—no liquor, no sugar, and he can’t even drive—the more Ben gets to know Dusty, the more he admires him. But is Ben going to give up a guy who drives a Ferrari for one who takes the bus? He must be mad. Dusty knows he and Ben can never work.

After all, Ben’s perfect… and Dusty isn’t. But Ben might surprise everyone with proof that he’s only madly in love.

How about a little taste?

In the car Dusty said, “Can we listen to that nice music again?”

He’d noticed. “Sure.” Ben flipped on the Chopin.

For a few minutes, they rode in music. Ben cleared his throat. “Dusty, do you mind if I ask how old you are?”

“Oh sure. I’m twenty-three. How old are you?”

Ben almost laughed. As an executive in a top firm, nobody ever asked him that. But turnabout was fair. “I’m twenty-nine.”

“Wow. You’ve done a lot in your life.”

“Thank you.” Ben glanced at Dusty.

“I haven’t been able to do so much, but I’m working at it.”

“That’s what counts. Keep moving toward your dreams.”

“I like that idea a lot.” He leaned his head back and closed his eyes.

“So your dad doesn’t live at home?”

“No. Never has. My mom’s taken good care of me, though.”

“Has she always been a nurse?”

“No. She had to work so hard. She was only sixteen when she had me, but she never gave me up, no matter what anyone said.” He took a deep breath and let it out in a long exhale. “And no matter how hard it was.”

“She sounds amazing.”

“She is.” He looked out the window. “It’s hard for her to, you know, let me do stuff, but she’s the best mom.”

“So you’re not married?” Ben chuckled.

Dusty mirrored the chuckle. “Not yet.”

“Have a girlfriend?” Oh, very subtle, Shane.

“No.”

“Not yet, huh.”

“Not ever. I’m gay. But I don’t have a boyfriend yet. I’d like to, though.”

Well, okay. Ben swallowed. “You would?”

“Sure, wouldn’t you?”

“I’m, uh, engaged.” Shit. Shit. Shit. When did I decide to become Mr. Purveyor of Truth?

The passenger seat became deeply silent.

Ben glanced over. Dusty’s eyes were closed, and he seemed to be breathing deeply.

“You okay?”

“What?” His eyes fluttered open.

“Sorry. Just asking how you’re doing?”

“Good, thanks. Just drop me on the curb over there.” He pointed to one of the entrances to Orange Coast College.

“How will you get back to my place?”

“Bus.” He smiled, but his glance scampered all over the place as he opened the door. “Have a great day.”

Ben couldn’t stop. He put a hand on Dusty’s arm—his sinewy, muscled, hot-as-fuck arm. “Dusty, what’s wrong? Come on, tell me.”

“Nothing, honest. Just sometimes it’s hard not to wish I was somebody else.”

My Review:
While this is the second book in a series, it’s easily enjoyed on it’s own.

Ben Shane is a 29 year-old manager of a foundation that oversees corporate donations. He matches donors with worthy causes that align with the person’s, or corporation’s, missions-slash-beliefs. Philanthropy is a huge part of Ben’s mindset, and it’s partly why he’s struggling with his new fiance, Alan Ashland–sole heir to the Ashland fortune. See, Alan can’t wait until they get married and spend weeks on end traveling for their honeymoon. While Alan seems to have a deep affection for Ben, he also wants a trophy husband who will make all his society dinners and be able to jet-off…whenever for whatever. There’s a lot of tension there, and also over BEn’s unwillingness to sell his cottage in Laguna that’s currently being re-habbed.

Ben has mixed feelings about his life plans, and it doesn’t help that he’s more than a little intrigued by Dusty, the genial, hard-working IT-fixer and general handyman in Ben’s office. Dusty is 23, yet he lives at home with his overprotective mother, can’t drive or drink alcohol. He’s fastidious about his diet, and he’s eager to help Ben out–in whatever capacity Ben needs. Dusty fair swoons for the man, and is deeply disappointed to learn Ben’s engaged. Still, Dusty accepts the offer of a part-time job managing the construction project at Ben’s home, and that’s where things get messy.

Having Dusty in Ben’s home really crosses their wires. The pressure between Ben and Alan has reached crucial levels, and the simplicity of hanging around with Dusty makes it plain that he’s not happy in his relationship. The chemistry is fantastic, but Dusty’s big medical secret is a barrier–perhaps. I liked how the reveal was made, with Dusty and Ben finding more than common ground in ways neither expected. It was intriguing how Dusty’s welfare dove-tailed with BEn’s business plans, and also helped connect these two when it seemed unlikely they would find happiness together. Dusty is a sweet guy, and Ben is in the middle of a personal crisis. Some readers might not like how Ben isn’t exactly honest about his feelings, but the timeframe seemed to allow the flexibility for Ben to recognize that Dusty was the man for him, even as he needed to carefully disentangle himself from Alan.

The happy ending came in a way that Dusty could hardly believe, but felt right for the story. I liked the plan to work with Dusty’s medical situation, and also how he was much more than his disease. If you didn’t read the dedication, well, you wouldn’t know what was going on with him until Ben was half-way in love. For me, that’s important, and I liked how the character was a person who managed his life, not one who was controlled by his medical issues/history. There are some fun side characters here, including a raucous, wealthy woman whose down-home wisdom helped Ben with his life-changing decisions. Also, cameos from the MCs of the first book in this series will likely please readers. There isn’t a lot of steam, but the feels are right out on the page.

Interested? You can find LOVE YOU SO MADLY 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 gift card.
Good luck and keep reading 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 on her website, blog, Facebook, twitter, Goodreads, and Pinterest.