The State of Love REND–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a Throwback Thursday review for a contemporary M/M rock romance from Roan Parrish. REND features a married couple battling abandonment issues and depress to build a more stable relationship. I liked the first book in this series, RIVEN, and was glad to see some of those characters play a role here. It’s a perfect pick for my rock romance bender, too!

About the book:
After a whirlwind romance, a man with a painful past learns to trust the musician who makes him believe in happy endings.

Matt Argento knows what it feels like to be alone. After a childhood of abandonment, he never imagined someone might love him—much less someone like Rhys Nyland, who has the voice of an angel, the looks of a god, and the worship of his fans.

Matt and Rhys come from different worlds, but when they meet, their chemistry is incendiary. Their romance is unexpected, intense, and forever—at least, that’s what their vows promise. Suddenly, Matt finds himself living a life he never thought possible: safe and secure in the arms of a man who feels like home. But when Rhys leaves to go on tour for his new album, Matt finds himself haunted by the ghosts of his past.

When Rhys returns, he finds Matt twisted by doubt. But Rhys loves Matt fiercely, and he’ll go to hell and back to triumph over Matt’s fears. After secrets are revealed and desires are confessed, Rhys and Matt must learn to trust each other if they’re going to make it. That means they have to fall in love all over again—and this time, it really will be forever.

My Review:
Matt Argento and Rhys Nyland are a married couple. They met and filled a need the other had–Rhys loved to save a man, and Matt needed saving. Rhys is a musician and singer, and the book starts about 1.5 years into the marriage, so it’s not about how they fall in love. No, it’s about staying in the moment, and trusting that love is real–and that you deserve it. Why? Because Matt is a foster system product who has abandonment issues.

Matt loves Rhys, but Matt struggles with depression. He has a long history of being left behind, and the idea of Rhys going on tour is fanning the flames of his anxiety. Rhys, for his part, is a super lover, and a huge caretaker–but he can’t fix Matt. Only time, patience and Matt’s own willingness to believe that he is worthy of Rhys’s boundless affection can solve this conundrum. Be ready with the tissue, y’all.

I loved the deep and brooding moments as much as I loved the intensity of their lovemaking. Matt can’t be whole until he opens his heart and mind to the possibility that Rhys loves all his brokenness. And, Rhys is just amazing at loving Matt. Like, nobody could do it better. The pacing is a little slow in the beginning where the reader is following Matt through his sometimes exhaustingly mundane narration, but the second half is a big emotional lift, and I felt really connected through the climax. And speaking of climax, there’s a LOT of sexytimes in this book.

We met these characters briefly in RIVEN, the first book in this series, but honestly, we know NOTHING about them other than they are married, and Rhys was once Caleb’s boyfriend. I loved getting to see this couple interact with Theo and Caleb and how their friendships only grew stronger. It’s a way darker book than RIVEN, but it’s also so rewarding to see this established couple work on their relationship, and build a love that is strong and real, well beyond the early love infatuation that first brought them together.

Interested? You can find REND on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple Books 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!

Finding Family THE EDGE OF THE WORLD–An Audiobook Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing an audiobook review for a contemporary M/M romance from Garrett Leigh. THE EDGE OF THE WORLD connects an rocker and a filmographer in the hunt for one’s heredity. I recently reviewed KISS ME AGAIN, which is performed by the same narrator. I thought this story would be a great kick-off to a string of rock-romance reviews.

About the book:
Shay Maloney is living his dream—on tour with his pirate/folk-rock band. But you can’t know where you’re going until you know where you’re from, and that’s where moody filmmaker and researcher Ollie Pietruska comes in.

The band’s management persuades Shay to let a television company film a documentary about his roots beyond his adoptive Irish family, and Ollie comes into his life knowing more about Shay than Shay’s ever known about himself.

But while Ollie holds the key to Shay’s past, he’s also hiding deep scars. Even as the hardships of the tour bring them closer, Ollie’s demons threaten the blossoming romance. They might both reach the breaking point before Ollie realises he’s been standing on the edge of the world for too long, and it’s Shay who holds the key to his future.

A friends-to-lovers, rock star, road-tripping romance, with a guaranteed happily-ever-after.

My Review:
Shay Maloney is in his late 20s and the front man for a rising pirate/folk/rock band touring the UK. He’d been adopted as a young child by a generous and loving Irish couple, raised well and proud of his family. So he doesn’t think much of the offer his manager makes to have a documentary made about his life–assuming it’s about his adoptive family. But the filmmaker is all about the geneaology research, and his job was finding Shay’s birth heritage.

Ollie Pietruska has had some issues growing up in a family of Polish immigrants in London. He seemed to have a very promising career in film making but a car accident a couple of years ago has shaken his world-view. His burned body has healed, but Ollie suffers depression and anxiety, especially when riding as a passenger. Why he agreed to spend three weeks touring with Shay’s band is a question he asks himself nearly hour by hour. Still, he’s attracted to Shay’s magnetic personality, and the idea that he can reveal Shay’s hidden past–many of which seemed tied to Shay’s starry nature and music-making capabilities–are opportunities for a deep connection to grow. Ollie’s missed connecting with people for some time now, and though his physical scars often pain him it’s the mental scars that have kept him celibate and emotionally separate for these years.

Shay and Ollie have an almost instant attraction, and Shay’s curiosity about his heritage grows because he’s so in tune with Ollie as a guide through the process. Ollie seems to know how to present tantalizing bits to Shay to keep his interest, and keep him wanting to know more. As they travel together, Ollie sees the caring nature of the band, and how the members act as an extended or surrogate family. Shay is the leader, but he’s also their heart, and Ollie longs to have the closeness that would allow him to care for Shay, too. Shay’s diabetes plays a bit of a role in facilitating this, when Ollie get to come to the rescue at some key times. Shay’s a generally sober man to help maintain his health, but his performances are so energetic and intense it plays havoc with his blood sugar management. The bond between Ollie and Shay grows by bits and pieces as Ollie learns to share himself and his history in much that way he’s sharing Shay’s genealogy story.

The audiobook was really captivating. At just under 6 hours, the pace seemed right. The narrator, Dan Calley, was able to capture Ollie’s gruffness and Shay’s more melodic voice admirably. I could sense the pain and anxiety in Ollie’s thoughts as he worked through his fears of traveling as a passenger. And his fascination with Shay was really clear and present. It sometimes affected his ability to do his job, and that tentativeness was evocative in the audio. Shay’s musings are often more introspective than Ollie’s but his struggles maintaining his energy and sugar balance while on the road do erode some of his balance. He’s not eager to lean on Ollie, but he won’t stand on false pride. Plus, he really connects with Ollie, and the warmth and openness he finds the deeper their bond grows is really palpable in the audio. It’s not too heavy on the sexytimes and at times the filmography gets lost in the tour details, but it’s still a strong love story with a happy ending. Definitely recommend!

Interested? You can find THE EDGE OF THE WORLD on Goodreads, Amazon, Audible audiobook or iTunes audiobook.

About the Author:
Garrett Leigh is an award-winning British writer and book designer, currently working for Dreamspinner Press, Loose Id, Riptide Publishing, and Fox Love Press.

Garrett’s debut novel, Slide, won Best Bisexual Debut at the 2014 Rainbow Book Awards, and her polyamorous novel, Misfits was a finalist in the 2016 LAMBDA awards.

When not writing, Garrett can generally be found procrastinating on Twitter, cooking up a storm, or sitting on her behind doing as little as possible, all the while shouting at her menagerie of children and animals and attempting to tame her unruly and wonderful FOX.

Garrett is also an award winning cover artist, taking the silver medal at the Benjamin Franklin Book Awards in 2016. She designs for various publishing houses and independent authors at blackjazzdesign.com, and co-owns the specialist stock site moonstockphotography.com with renowned LGBTQA+ photographer Dan Burgess.

Otherwise you can find her on her website, twitter or Facebook.

Building a Community in RAINBOW PLACE–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a Throwback Thursday review for a contemporary M/M romance from Jay Northcote. RAINBOW PLACE is the first book in his Rainbow Place series set in Porthladock, Cornwall. I really enjoyed SAFE PLACE, BETTER PLACE MUD & LACE and HAPPY PLACE, so I finally got time to re-read and post about the book that started it all… Meet Seb Radcliffe, entrepreneur setting up a LGBTQ-friendly cafe in Porthladock, Cornwall, finds himself in a tough situation when homophobes come a-calling.

About the book:
Can Jason find the courage he needs to be the man Seb deserves?

When Seb Radcliffe relocates to a seaside town in Cornwall, he feels like a fish out of water. He misses queer spaces and the sense of community he enjoyed when he was living in the city, and decides to open an LGBT-friendly cafe-bar.

Jason Dunn is the builder Seb hires to help renovate the rundown space where the cafe will be housed. Jason is also gay, but unlike Seb, he’s deep in the closet. He’s never had a relationship with another man–only allowing himself the occasional hook up with guys who are prepared to be discreet.

The attraction between the two men is instant and impossible to ignore. But while Seb is out and proud, Jason is terrified of being exposed. With the grand opening of Rainbow Place approaching, tension is growing among some locals who object to Seb’s plans. When things escalate, Jason is forced to choose whether to hide in the shadows and let Seb down, or to openly support the man he’s fallen so hard for.

Although this book is part of a series, it has a satisfying happy ending and can be read as a standalone.

My Review:
Seb Radcliffe has moved to the quaint seaside town of Porthladock, Cornwall with the express plan of opening a queer-friendly cafe and bar. As an out-gay man, Seb knows how valuable it is to have queer-friendly spaces, and he dreams the Rainbow Place cafe will be a beacon to LGBTQ folk and their allies in the area.

Seb hires local builder Jason Dunn to renovate the cafe space, and the two men do hit it off quite well, though Jason has been closeted his whole life. He’s part inspired and part intimidated by Seb’s attitude and compassion. The plans to open are going excellently–Jason’s a carpentry whiz–but days before the cafe opens the worst happens. Vandals attack and the cafe seems ruined. It’s a crucible moment for the community, and the call for help brings folks from unexpected quarters to the haven of acceptance. We get to meet some of the characters who factor into the later stories, as they find unexpected love in Rainbow Place. Jason, for his part, decides that having the solid love of a good man is worth taking those first steps into the light and leaving the closet behind.

There are delicious sexytimes, and heartfelt moments of joy, grief and relief. It’s a very uplifting story, with two good men finding happiness when they least expected to do so–and a community finding a welcoming space for the LGBTQ folk that had existed only in the margins before. The grannies are a hoot, and I liked getting a sneak peek at main characters to come. I’m a fan of the whole series, and recommend it to people who enjoy M/M romance.

Interested? You can find RAINBOW PLACE on Goodreads and Amazon.

About the Author:
Jay lives just outside Bristol in the West of England. He comes from a family of writers, but always used to believe that the gene for fiction writing had passed him by. He spent years only ever writing emails, articles, or website content.

One day, Jay decided to try and write a short story—just to see if he could—and found it rather addictive. He hasn’t stopped writing since.

Jay writes contemporary romance about men who fall in love with other men. He has five books published by Dreamspinner Press, and also self-publishes under the imprint Jaybird Press. Many of his books are now available as audiobooks.

You can find Jay on his website, Twitter, Facebook Author Page, and Amazon.

Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends!

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Getting Even KARMA’S A BIT*H–Review and Giveaway

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a new New Adult M/M romance from Este Holland. KARMA’S A BIT*H a standalone romance for a soon-to-graduate computer science major and a professional karma dispenser.

Scroll down to catch an excerpt and enter to win a copy of KARM’S A BIT*H.
About the book:
Karma’s only a bitch if you’re bad.
Jake Michelson plays it safe. All he wants to do is keep a roof over his head and graduate from NYU in a few months. He can count on three things in life: his job at Dinkin’s Donuts, his best friend Marri, and school.

Archer Ferraro plays by his own rules. The one thing he can’t stand is when bad people get away with doing bad things. He’s dedicated his life to righting the wrongs the police can’t or won’t handle.

When Archer accidentally upsets Jake’s life, he vows to make it right and hires him.

Together, Jake and Archer must work on a new case involving stolen jewelry and a womanizer, deal with a lawyer brother and a jailbird father, and stay out of the cops’ way.

Should be easy…right?

How about a yummy taste?

“Hey!” Everyone stopped to gawk at the smallish, drunk man with his glasses askew. Jake struggled from my hold and staggered off his stool. “What the hell do you think you’re doing?” He took a few steps toward the asshole cowboy. “We’re having a good time. You can’t ruin our fun with your stooopid face.” Jake hauled back and punched him.

“Shit!” I lunged and grabbed Jake around the middle, pulling him away before the cowboy retaliated.

The cowboys surged forward, but a piercing whistle ripped through the air and everyone froze. Titus crooked a finger at one of his friends, a guy as big as himself, and pointed at Jake who was once again asleep in my arms.

The biker smiled, revealing a gold tooth. I returned it with an aborted one of my own. He slid his arm under Jake’s knees, then wiggled his other arm between us. I held his head as the guy lifted Jake like a child. I grabbed Marri’s hand before she could attack, and I hurried after the dude. He entered a door behind the bar and deposited Jake on a sofa.

“Thanks, man,” I said.

“No problem.” He slapped my shoulders and my knees almost buckled.

Breaking glass and shouts came from the bar, and I winced.

A chuckle rumbled in his chest like one their motorcycles kicking on. “Don’t worry. This happens at least once a month.”

“Seriously?”

“Titus doesn’t like homophobes, racists, or conservatives.” He grinned and headed out the door.

Marri and I exchanged glances.

“Are your friends okay?”

“They left. That’s what I was coming to tell you guys.” Marri peeked out at the bar and shut the door fast as glass shattered.

“Shit. Does it lock?”

She pushed the little button in the knob, and I laughed.

My Review:
Jake Michaelson has put himself through college on a combination of scholarships and hard work. His dad is a gambling addict, currently serving time for embezzlement, it’s a sore point that Jake’s dad won’t let him come visit–this is his only family in the whole world. Jake’s months from graduating into the lucrative computer science field, but he’s got to make ends meet first. This becomes more difficult when he loses his donut shop job after selling a sexy stranger a bucket of oil. That stranger, Archer, used it to douse the inside of another man’s prized Camaro.

Archer Ferraro is a one-man karma machine. For a fee, he will bring justice to perpetrators the law doesn’t touch. Like Camaro guy–who beat up his former boyfriend (Archer’s client) but kept sliding away from arrest. Sometimes his fees are a lot, sometimes not–Archer just wants to deliver peace to people who felt violated. And, when he learns that his shenanigan of dumping a 5-gallon pail of oil all over his mark’s prized possession cost Jake his job, Archer wants to make that right, too. And he does so by offering Jake a job researching his clients and the marks for karma delivery. Archer wants to make sure the punishments suit the situation–and that his clients are truly deserving of his assistance.

Jake isn’t sure about this opportunity. Money is great, but he knows how quickly a person can be scooped off to prison. He’s not willing to become a super hacker, and destroy lives, but Archer’s enterprise seems…necessary, and helpful to his clients. Through the bits of vengeance Archer manages those folks gain closure, something that Jake deems admirable. And well, Archer and Jake have a mutual appreciation society growing between them. It’s hard for these young virile men to keep their hands off one another. So, they don’t.

Well, the don’t get busy *right* away, but it’s not too long, either. They meet in January and there is both sex and love by Valentines. It’s a funny and quirky story, with alternating points of view. Jake is nervous that Archer will be upset about his dad, but they cross that bridge with hardly a ripple. And Archer’s so gone over Jake he inadvertently plans to introduce Jake to his mom and nonna within days of their sexytimes. And, the family reunions don’t end there. I though the romance moved a little fast, and I also struggled with how quickly Archer unmasks himself–as a vigilante for hire. He’d kept his anonymity for years, but within the course of a couple weeks of meeting Jake there are like seven new people who know his private business. So much so that one of his mark’s starts stalking and messing with him. That made me pull back a bit, since it seemed like such an inconsistency.

If you like odd couples, and new adult romance with a side of vigilantism, this might be a good pick up for you.

Interested? You can find KARMA’S A BIT*H on Goodreads and Amazon.

****GIVEAWAY****

Click on this Rafflecopter giveaway link for your chance to win an ebook copy of KARMA’S A BIT*H.
Good luck and keep reading my friends!

About the Author:
Este Holland is a writer and reader of all things Romance. She’s also a treasure hunter, a word wizard, a lover, and a fighter. She was born and raised in WV, and now lives in Virginia. She works in marketing during the day. She began writing novels in 2012.

You can reach out to Este on her website, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Instagram.

Odd Couple Hysteria: PISCES HOOKS TAURUS-A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a Throwback Thursday review for a sweet New Adult M/M contemporary romance from Anyta Sunday. PISCES HOOKS TAURUS is the fourth book in her Signs of Love series. I really enjoyed LEO LOVES ARIES and SCORPIO HATES VIRGO, so I dove into this one.

About the book:
It’s a time for searching, and a time for finding, Pisces: keep casting your line and you will hook what you’re looking for.

Zane has it all planned out: land the perfect Meet Cute, fall in love, and live happily ever after.
Should be simple enough if he put his mind to it. A little creativity and some thinking outside of the box, and voila, he’d be married to the woman of his dreams.
It would be perfect.
And it would be before his visa ran out.

But why are his feelings running wild now that the pressure’s on? Why is his picture-perfect plan turning into a muddled mess of morphed metaphors he can’t make sense of anymore?

Just as well he’s met an English professor to help. And even though their first meet is anything but cute, this down-to-earth teacher may just be the realist Zane needs to ground him and give him a shot at love after all.

Don’t cast your line too wide, Pisces. Your perfect catch may already have bitten.

My Review:
This is the fourth book in a series, but easily enjoyed on it’s own.

Zane is a 23 year old New Zealander looking to extend his US travel visa…indefinitely. Through marriage. See, his elder brother Jacob is married to an American girl, and their first child is just being born. Zane has felt most-closely connected to Jacob and he wants to remain in the US to be the doting uncle his newborn niece will need. It’s not like Zane has a steady job, or even a college education–like his brothers. Nope, Zane is a secondary school drop-out and is living off a bit of inheritance while drawing panels for a comic series. Zane definitely seems to admire smart people, even as he accpets that he–himself–will never be counted among them.

Couch surfing in the area of his brother’s home turns into a bit of a tough prospect as he’s summarily shut out of the place he’d been crashing in favor of a renter’s relative. He leans a bit on Jacob’s social circle and is put in touch with Becky–whom Zane quite wishes to woo for lodgings to last at least until he finds a suitable marriage prospect, or has to return to New Zealand at the end of the month. Zane is big on the wooing, since he also wants to find a woman to marry him. Perhaps Becky could be the one for him!!

And, that’s yet another of Zane’s misunderstandings in life. Because Becky is a tender nickmane his sister-in-law gave her dearest childhood friend: Beckett Fisher, college literature professor, and out gay man. Beckett is indeed a savior, of sorts, lending a futon in his attic to Zane for a week–just until his own sister arrives. THen Zane will have to move on–unless he can convince Beckett to share his own bed with him.

It’s not as sordid as it sounds, in truth. Zane is a happy-go-lucky Pisces, charming all and sundry, except the women he hopes might fall madly and deeply for him. Beckett is a wounded Taurus, whose marriage to a beautiful young man–Luke–dissolved rather shortly after it began. And, he’s been celibate for going on five years now as a result. Zane is captivated by Beckett in a platonic Bromantic way–and wants to help heal the pain of Beckett’s divorce. He’s also blown away by how intelligent and kind Beckett is, not to mention handsome; at their first meeting, Zane assumed Beckett was a cougar’s model boytoy. Oh the laughs when he learned they were mother and son…

Zane does manage to convince Beckett not to toss him out once his flighty sister arrives–and Zane is a mite oblivious to Beckett’s rising tension regarding dates and connecting with Beckett’s beautiful sister. But, Zane is laser focused on helping BEckett out of his slump–and it takes a few weeks before Zane recognizes that his bromantic feelings may not be completely platonic after all. In fact, they might be downright romantic.

This is a sweet, odd couple slow burn romance with an innocently oblivious man–Zane–awakening to his newly bicurious side. Beckett is as stalwart as he can be, but the attraction for him began from the meet-cute, much to his chagrin. Beckett has spent years telling himself that love is a sham, and he’ll never marry again, and he’s hooked by Zane’s odd and sometimes goofy gestures of connection. They both enjoy a quieter pace of life, and their habits of life dovetail well, with Beckett being reserved, but generous and Zane being gregarious, yet easily intimidated by intellect. I liked how they built a cooperative friendship before anything physical happened. Also, it was important that Zane made the first moves, because Beckett wasn’t able–not with giving up on love. And certainly not falling for a straight man! There are a couple of fun side characters, Darla, Beckett’s elderly neighbor who makes the horoscope predictions that keep Zane on the hunt for his love, and Beckett’s oldest friend–a big buff man Zane calls “Books for Breakfast”–because he’s so intelligent and intimidating, and whom Zane mistakes for having a crush on his Beckett.

With the growth of their friendship, Beckett and Zane both lower their defenses, and Zane does manage to charm Beckett. But the return ticket date is quickly approaching, and Beckett won’t be down for a quickie wedding. It’s a good thing that life is long, and a decision quickly made can portend a whole lifetime of happiness. They take the time to make the best, and right, choices for one another, even if it means temporary separation. The Pisces did hook the Taurus, folks, and they lived happily ever after.

Interested? You can find PISCES HOOKS TAURUS on Goodreads and Amazon. I received a review copy via NetGalley.

About Anyta Sunday: (in her own words…)
A bit about me: I’m a big, BIG fan of slow-burn romances. I love to read and write stories with characters who slowly fall in love.

Some of my favorite tropes to read and write are: Enemies to Lovers, Friends to Lovers, Clueless Guys, GFY/OFY, Bisexual, Pansexual, Demisexual, Oblivious MCs, Everyone (Else) Can See It, Slow Burn, Love Has No Boundaries.

I write a variety of stories, Contemporary MM Romances with a good dollop of angst, Contemporary lighthearted MM Romances, and even a splash of fantasy.

If you’d like to check out more of my stories, check out my website, Facebook and twitter.

Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!

Taking a Chance on THE CUPID CRAWL–Review and Giveaway

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a M/M romance from Hank Edwards. THE CUPID CRAWL is a book set in the Williamsville Inn universe, so if you’ve read previous stories, it’s be a nice addition. It’s fine to read as a standalone, however, and totally fits with my odd-couple theme this week. I’ve read and reviewed some of the Critter Catchers M/M paranormal romance/horror books in the past. You can check out my thoughts on HORROR AT HIDEAWAY COVE and DREAD OF NIGHT if those titles get your engine running.

Scroll down to catch an excerpt and enter to win an ebook of SNOWFLAKES AND SONG LYRICS.
About the book:
What happens when a confirmed hook-up app user falls for a man who is his polar opposite?

Carter Walsh will be alone on Valentine’s Day, and his plans include a candy sampler of hook ups.

But after learning about the Cupid Crawl—a bar crawl covering a half dozen bars, gay and straight—he changes his plans.

During the crawl, he runs into:
An ex-co-worker nemesis who resurrects—loudly—an unfortunate nickname she bestowed upon him years before.
Several hot men eager for a quick hook up.
And one man absolutely not Carter’s type, but who manages to pique his interest and, possibly, steal his heart.

The Cupid Crawl is a funny, sweet, and steamy opposites attract, slight age gap story that takes place in the Williamsville Inn series world, and features characters from the Christmas stories Snowflakes and Song Lyrics by Hank Edwards and Snowstorms and Second Chances by Brigham Vaughn.

How about a yummy taste?

The organizer, Vic, led the way, squeezing past the men and women standing in the doorway and forging a path for Carter to follow. At first, Carter thought he was way overdressed. The men he slid past were shirtless, some wearing just white loin cloths or even cloth diapers along with feathered wings strapped around their broad chests. These men gave him a brief glance, maybe a quick smile, but were busy talking to each other or women who were also baring a lot of skin. Didn’t these people realize it was February in Boston?

When he reached the bar, Carter was relieved to see people wearing shirts and pants instead of just diapers and short shorts. Vic leaned in over the bar and said to the bartender, “Don, this is my good friend, Carter. Put his first two drinks on my tab.”

“Oh, you don’t have to do that,” Carter insisted. “I have money.”

“Happy Valentine’s Day, Carter,” Vic said. “The first two drinks are on me to help you relax. I’m going to make a round of the bar, but when I return, I hope to find you talking with someone, and not just leaning on the bar all alone.”

“I know how to socialize,” Carter said.

“Oh, I’m sure you do.”

Vic winked again before threading his way through the crowd, greeting people as he slid past them. Carter ordered a beer from Don, and then fished a couple of singles out of his wallet for a tip. He lifted his bottle to salute Don and had just taken a swig when a piercingly high voice shrieked from just behind him. The sound startled him so much he choked on his beer and started to cough. He turned, coughing and sputtering, and squinted through his tears at the woman standing behind him.

Auburn hair done up tall, bright green eyes that could be nothing other than colored contact lenses, a pert, upturned nose, and a broad mouth filled with teeth laser-whitened to solar flare level.

Carter’s heart stuttered with surprise and dread as he struggled to clear his airway.

“I saw you walk in and had to come over and see if it was really you!” she exclaimed.

With a final clearing of his throat, Carter managed a smile and said, “Lizzie. Hello! What a treat to see you.”

Lizzie’s smile widened even further and she crossed her arms. It was then Carter noticed she wore what looked like a sports bra with a pair of white wings strapped to her shoulders, and a sheer white shift around her waist that showed off a pair of black panties trimmed with lace.

“As I live and breathe,” Lizzie said with a shake of her head. “Carter the Farter.”

My Review:
Carter is an out-gay man who’s pining just a bit for a steady guy. Approaching thirty, he’s had plenty of fun with hook-up apps but his bestie Will has recently gotten married to a sexy out singer, Rex, and their goo-goo eyes are causing Carter to lament his no-strings life.

He’s expecting to spend his first Valentine’s alone in a long time. Carter and Will usually went out together to get some drinks and keep one another company, but Will is out of town with Rex this year. So, instead of going out alone, Carter plans to make a 3-day weekend of Grindr hookups. He’s all set until his very married and harried co-worker talks up an event she used to attend as a single: The Cupid Crawl. It’s a bar crawl of some Boston spots–straight and gay-friendly–with giveaways and the opportunity to meet like-minded singles. Carter isn’t really feeling it, but when he awakens on Valentine’s Day he learns that most of his go-to Grindr pals are otherwise occupied. Out of sheer loneliness Carter opts to join the Cupid Crawl.

And, boy is he regretting it. He runs into an old co-worker, Lizzie, who dubbed him “Carter the Farter” years ago, and she’s pretty much drunk and obnoxiously shouting this all around the bar. Humiliated from the start, Carter isn’t in a mood to make nice with Lizzie’s “keeper,” an unstylish, platonic friend called Harry. Turns out Harry (and his waxed porn-mustache) is pansexual, and a decent guy. Carter’s not a fan, at first, even as friendly and engaging as Harry is. Carter has an acerbic humor and Harry gives him a lot of challenging chat, when Carter isn’t hopping on Grindr and hooking up with dudes on the crawl.

This book didn’t read as romantic, at first. Carter’s really a bit self-centered, and he’s so used to getting his sex-fix without it meaning much more than mutual release. Harry is SO not his usual guy, what with his middle-part hair and barely-trying t-shirt, but the more that Carter finds vapid men, or selfish hook-ups, the more he begins to appreciate the real-talk he gets from Harry. And, it’s clear that others are seeing how Harry is into Carter–more so than Carter does, in any case.

Carter wants to ditch this whole nightmare, especially once he’s humiliated and left hanging by a couple of hook-ups. Will chats to him via FaceTime, trying to keep his spirits up, and Vic, the crawl organizer, is promising awesome raffle prizes the longer Carter stays. Carter keeps believing his hype, that he and Harry can’t be suited for one another, and he even tells another guy to go for Harry. Much to his regret. Lonely of his own making, Carter FINALLY gets the idea that he’s letting a good man walk off for superficial reasons, perhaps because he’s a bit commitment-challenged from a bad relationship some years before. It’s a Cupid miracle that Carter makes the right moves before the end of the crawl. Still, there’s conflict. Much like the time-honored story, this Cinderfella doesn’t know how to contact his possible prince once the night comes to an abrupt end.

It’s a fun ending, with Grindr “coming” to the rescue. And, plenty of cameos from other Williamsville heroes. Again, totally fine to read this as a standalone. Carter begins being judgey and not super-likable, even as we can empathize with his loneliness. His antics on the Crawl are funny and cringey, and he gains some sympathy points just for his erotic misfortunes. It’s clear that Carter has self-esteem issues, and it was good to see him grow past that a bit on that crawl. The juxtaposition of meaningless hookups with passionate kissing (and later lovemaking) really drove the romance arc forward in the second half of the book. I was definitely rooting for Carter to get his head screwed on correctly and accept the interest and affection of a good man–even if he didn’t tick off all the attraction markers on the first meeting. His attraction for Harry wasn’t instant, but it grew and grew with each connection. I liked Carter a LOT more in the end, when he finally let down his guard and started honestly examining his life choices. There is totally a happy ending waiting, as well as awesome reconnections with other characters from the series for readers who’ve been following along with the previous books.

Interested? You can find THE CUPID CRAWL on Goodreads and Amazon.

****GIVEAWAY****

Click on this Rafflecopter giveaway link for your chance to win an ebook of SNOWFLAKES AND SONG LYRICS–the previous book in this series.
Good luck and keep reading my friends!

About the Author:
Hank Edwards (he/him) has been writing gay fiction for more than twenty years. He has published over thirty novels and dozens of short stories. His books fall into many sub-genres, including romance, rom-com, contemporary, paranormal, suspense, mystery, and wacky comedy. He has written a number of series such as the suspenseful Up to Trouble, funny and spooky paranormal out for you gay romance Critter Catchers, Old West historical horror of Venom Valley, the erotic and funny Fluffers, Inc. series, and the funny and thrilling Lacetown Murder Mysteries series co-written with Deanna Wadsworth. No matter what genre he writes, Hank likes to keep things sweet, steamy, and fun. He was born and still lives in a northwest suburb of the Motor City, Detroit, Michigan, where he shares a home with his partner of over 20 years and their two cats.

You can reach out to Hank on his website, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Instagram.

Coming to Terms With THE PERILS OF INTIMACY–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m excited to share a review and giveaway for a contemporary M/M romance from mega-writer Rick R. Reed. THE PERILS OF INTIMACY features two unlikely men making a connection–and realizing their history goes far deeper than a diner meet-cute. It’s an odd-couple romance, for sure, especially viewed through the lens of addiction, recovery and forgiveness. If you liked LEGALLY WED, you’ll like this one, too.

About the book:
Mark believes he’s meeting Jimmy for the first time in the diner where he works, but he’s wrong. Mark has no recollection of their original encounter because the wholesome Jimmy of today couldn’t be more different than he was two years ago. Back then, Jimmy sported multiple piercings and facial hair. He was painfully skinny—and a meth addict. The drug transformed him into a lying, conniving thief.

Mark doesn’t associate the memory of a hookup gone wrong with this fresh-faced twenty-something… but Jimmy knows. Can Mark see Jimmy for the man he is now and not the addict he was? The answers depend on whether true love holds enough light to shine through the darkness of past mistakes.

My Review:
Mark and Jimmy meet for the second time at Becky’s Diner in Seattle. Jimmy is the cute 23 year old waiter, and Mark is the 40-something flirtatious customer. They feel a spark, and set a date for a date. Jimmy has a sense of deja vu regarding this man, which is unsettling. Jimmy is a recovering meth addict and he hurt himself and a lot of other people when he was using. He’s been sober two years now, and is rebuilding his life. His intuition bears out when Jimmy remembers…Mark was a man he robbed during a meth-fueled hook-up shortly before Jimmy hit rock bottom and sought recovery.

Now, Jimmy is a whole different man. He lives with a fellow recovering addict and makes his meetings. He’s really got a spark with Mark, and he doesn’t want to lose out on the possibility of something good just because he was out of control years before. Mark hasn’t forgotten the violation of Jimmy’s theft. What he’d taken wasn’t that expensive, but the sense of violation was far more destructive for Mark. It makes him skittish around new lovers, and particularly when he connects the dots back to that terrible night. Sure, Jimmy has his life together at this moment, but what guarantee could he make to Mark not to hurt him again? What if he goes back to using? Can he really ever trust this Jimmy–knowing what he does about Jimmy’s past?

This story really hit home for me, having close family members who struggle with, and have overcome, addiction. Jimmy can only accept the responsibility for his actions, and continue to demonstrate how much he has changed in his sobriety. This situation with Mark is definitely stressful, and Jimmy reaches out to his supports to keep him from using when he feels triggered. Mark has to decide: can he forgive Jimmy for the man he was, and accept him for the man he is? They have a shot at getting a happy ending, but only if they are both able to be honest and trust one another.

I liked the compressed time frame of this story, that they connect on a Monday and their lives intersect several times in the course of a tumultuous week. This gave a lot of space to a deep dive into the character’s mindsets and struggles. Neither Jimmy nor Mark are simple men–even if they truly want something simple: a steady life and a loving partner. There’s a little bit of mystic running in here, too, especially for Jimmy who seems in tune with his past, present and future in the way of heightened awareness. This comes through in glimpses, with the deja vu, intuition, conversations with trusted “spirits” and the call to assist people–from junkies cleaning up, to Mark in the heat of a bad moment.

I really liked this one, with its messages of forgiveness–of both self and others–of redemption, and finding the right partner at the right time in one’s life. It stuck with me long after I turned the last page. The romance was low-key, but solidly based in connection of spirit and emotion.

Interested? You can find THE PERILS OF INTIMACY on Goodreads, NineStar Press, Amazon Barnes & Noble, and Apple Books.

About the Author:
Real Men. True Love.

Rick R. Reed is an award-winning and bestselling author of more than fifty works of published fiction. He is a Lambda Literary Award finalist. Entertainment Weekly has described his work as “heartrending and sensitive.” Lambda Literary has called him: “A writer that doesn’t disappoint…” Find him at http://www.rickrreedreality.blogspot.com. Rick lives in Palm Springs, CA, with his husband, Bruce, and their fierce Chihuahua/Shiba Inu mix, Kodi.

Catch up with Rick on his website, Facebook, twitter and Instagram.

Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends!

New Love and Life OUT IN SPRING–Review and Giveaway

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a new New Adult M/M romance from Lane Hayes. OUT IN SPRING is the sixth book in her Out in College series, and features a college hockey player grabbing the courage to meet and romance the nerdy-bookish man he’s crushed on for four years. Catch my reviews for OUT IN THE DEEP END, OUT IN THE END ZONE, OUT IN THE OFFENSE, and OUT ON THE ICE for more on this sweet and sexy series.

Scroll down to catch an excerpt and enter to win a $25 Amazon gift card.
About the book:
The jock, the nerd, and a little spring fever…
Ned
I don’t understand hockey at all. Or any sport. Attending a team party with my best friend might be a mistake. As an out and proud geek, I admit that hanging out with a bunch of jocks and their admirers isn’t my idea of fun, but getting kidnapped by a sexy hockey player who claims to have a crush on me is definitely a highlight. And finding out that Logan St. James is bisexual makes everything more interesting.

Logan
Keeping my big bi secret hasn’t been easy. I have a couple of months of college left and one more game to play. I’m determined to make the most of it and spend as much time as possible with the sexy guy I’ve had a crush on since freshman year. I don’t want this to be over. There must be a way to come out in spring.

Out in Spring is a low-angst MM, bisexual awakening staring a hunky hockey player, a sweet-natured geek, and a little college fun. This story is part of the Out in College series, but each book can be read as a stand-alone.

How about a yummy taste?

“Let’s see how many times we can go across the monkey bars without stopping. In other words, go to the slide and back until your arms give up on you. Winner chooses the next contest and—”

“Hold on. That’s not fair. We both know you’re going to win.”

“Yeah, that’s true. I’ll collect the first prize. Something easy…like you have to answer a truth or dare question. Ready?”

“No, you already owe me, remember?”

I did a quick trip across the bars, then dropped to my feet and brushed my hands off. “You’re right. What would you like?”

“Uh…I don’t know.”

“Come on. Think of something. It has to be reasonable, though. I don’t have a million bucks or a year’s supply of M&M’s in my truck,” I warned.

Ned lifted a brow. “Really? You have T-shirts and sweatshirts. Why don’t you have M&M’s?”

“That’s a genius question. I need to fix that ASAP. Truth is, I live out of my truck. Not literally, but I’ve got a lot of necessities…shoes, socks, water, a first aid kit, lube, a box of condoms.”

He wrapped his arms around himself and shivered. “How about a blanket?”

“Yep. Wait here. And watch out for fairies.”

I ran to my SUV, pulled a wool plaid blanket from the trunk, and hurried to find Ned sitting on the pirate ship with his legs dangling off the edge. I climbed the short set of stairs and draped the blanket over his shoulders.

“Thank you.”

“You’re welcome. Cozy up, ’cause this could take a while.” I flexed my knuckles and started to reach for the first bar, but paused instead. “Or do you want to go first?”

“No, thanks. I’m not good at anything that requires coordination. And those bars are germy. I have Purell in my pocket, but when I fall—”

“I’ll catch you,” I intercepted. “YOLO, Nedster. I don’t want to go back to that party, and I don’t really want to go home. And you don’t either.”

“I don’t?”

“Nope. You’d rather hang out with me.” I waggled my brows comically.

I jumped from the pirate ship before he could argue, then pointed at the bar above me and motioned for him to get moving.

“What about the blanket?” He chuckled when I rolled my eyes. “Okay, fine. But I want to change the rules. If I get to the other side without falling, I should get another prize.”

“Another one? That seems kinda greedy, but all right,” I teased, crooking my forefinger.

“Here goes nothing.” Ned sighed as he stood, glancing from the row of bars to me and back again. He clutched the first one with both hands…and immediately fell.

I caught him around his waist and held him closer than necessary, so he brushed my chest before his feet hit the ground. I didn’t let him go. I stared at his mouth and licked my lips. “It’s okay. Try it again.”

“Um…all right.” Ned let out a nervous chuckle as he set one hand on my shoulder and the other on the bar.

I let go when he gripped both hands around one bar, then reached for the next. And the next. At the halfway mark I cheered him on with a loud whoop, pumping my fist in the air and counting down the bars left. Five, four, three, two…

He dropped like a lead balloon…and sure, I caught him again. But let’s get something straight. Ned wasn’t a small person. Sure, he was on the skinny side, but he was at least six feet tall. I didn’t exactly “catch” him. It was more a matter of pulling him against me and holding on. I fully admit that my maneuver was premeditated. But my goofy, off-the-cuff quest to steal a few more minutes with my crush backfired big time. I didn’t count on my body’s reaction.

I swallowed hard and brushed my sleeve over my nose. “Maybe we should, um…”

He nodded, but he didn’t move. And neither did I.

My Review:
Logan St. James is a college senior on the hockey team at Long Beach State. He’s bisexual, and open about it with his accepting family, but he’s mostly only dated women at school. He’s had a crush on a fellow student he caught sight of way back in freshman year, Ned Bailey. Logan notices the studious boy at freshman orientation, and has noticed him many times over the years–most recently when Ned got his book order together for this final semester. Logan’s last “girlfriend” Kelly was way more serious than he was–thinking they were headed for marriage after college, even getting her father to offer Logan a job, but

Logan is pretty blase about it all. He doesn’t want a job with strings, and he’s not really sure what he wants to do with his communications degree. Or his future. Which is rather unsettling to Ned, who is hyperfocused on his future as an engineer. Also, it’s odd for Ned, who sees himself as a thin, nerdy guy, to find himself attractive to a strong, athletic, attractive partner.

What was a chance encounter at a hockey team party–where Ned got dragged by his BFF who’s a hockey groupie–turns into an odd-couple romance. This is complicated by Logan wanting to keep everything on the down-low because he doesn’t want to rock the boat before his charity game in May. Also, Kelly’s still avidly pursuing Logan, and occassionaly making a nuisance of herself. That’s a drag for both Logan and Ned–Ned because he doesn’t want to out Logan. And the pressure is kind of getting to Ned, in truth. He’s worked up about getting a good position at a firm, and his falling for Logan is becoming a complication. He shouldn’t really base his job choice on whether he’d be able to see Logan, right?

This novella is a quick peek into love for Logan, who’s coming out in the spring. He’s been hesitant to do it, but now that he and Ned are going strong, he’s ready to take that step. It’s so sweet seeing Logan fall hard for his crush, and introduce Ned to the important people in his life. My biggest complaint was I wanted more! I just adore these stories and I would have enjoyed seeing Ned and Logan in their growth toward coupledom. There’s some steamy sexytimes, a little pondering about the future, and a happy ending. Pretty much just enough to keep you entertained on a rainy afternoon.

Interested? You can find OUT IN SPRING on Goodreads and Amazon.

****GIVEAWAY****

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

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 won First Prize in the 2016 and 2017 Rainbow Awards. She loves red wine, chocolate and travel (in no particular order). Lane lives in Southern California with her amazing husband in a newly empty nest.

You can reach out to Lane on her website, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Amazon.

Truly Heroic PRINCE OF AIR AND DARKNESS–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a M/M fantasy romance from M. A. Grant. PRINCE OF AIR AND DARKNESS is the first book in her Darkest Court series.

About the book:
Phineas Smith has been cursed with a power no one could control.
Roark Lyne is his worst enemy and his only hope.

The only human student at Mather’s School of Magick, Phineas Smith has a target on his back. Born with the rare ability to tap into unlimited magick, he finds both Faerie Courts want his allegiance—and will do anything to get it.

They don’t realize he can’t levitate a feather, much less defend the Faerie Realm as it slips into civil war.

Unseelie Prince Roark Lyne, Phineas’s roommate—and self-proclaimed arch nemesis—is beautiful and brave and a pain in the ass. Phineas can’t begin to sort through their six years of sexual tension masquerading as mutual dislike. But Roark is also the only one able to help Finn tame his magick.

Trusting Roark’s mysterious motives may be foolish; not accepting his temporary protection would be deadly.

Caught in the middle of the impending war, Phineas and Roark forge a dangerous alliance. And as the walls between them crumble, Phineas realizes that Roark isn’t the monster he’d imagined. But their growing intimacy threatens to expose a secret that could either turn the tide of the war…or destroy them both.

My Review:
Phineas Smith is the only human at Mather’s School for Magick. He doesn’t have magick, per se, instead he can pull the magick of ley lines through the earth, a rare and dangerous talent. No one can remember the last human who could do so, and its universally acknowledged that Finn is the oldest living human to wield this power. All previous persons died young due to lack of control–not that Finn’s really controlling things. And, he has to call upon the ley lines to rescue himself time and again from beings bent on capturing him and using him as a power conduit of their own. One of these beings is the Unseelie Queen, who happens to be his roommate Roark’s mother.

Prince Roark Lyne is the Unseelie liaison on campus. He’s gruff and challenging, especially to Finn, but they share an undercurrent of sexula tension that belies all of their interactions. Roark is centuries old, and powerful but it seems that he and Finn have a bit of synergy and symbiosis that allow their powers to mend in ways that could turn the tide of the oncoming Fae war. Their partnership could dissolve if Finn can’t handle the secret that Roark is hiding from him.

The sexual dynamic seems to hover between fated mates and enemies-to-lovers, what with the longstanding animosity, the constant rescues and challenges, and the secret nature of their budding relationship. I thought the fantasy elements were fresh and interesting, and there are lots of cool chararcters to round out the fantasy. It was cool to see the parent-child dynamic here, with its inherent imbalance in power, as Roark brushes against and battles with his mother’s controlling ways to benefit Finn.

This is the first story in the series so, while there is some wrap-up and a resolution to the romance question, we still have a lot of intrigue and tension due to the impending Fae war. Pacing was a bit slow to begin, but really picked up as we approached the climax, and I found myself reading late into the night to get to the end. Finn and Roark do find their happiness, sometimes with explosive results, and their power issues seem to be settled for the moment. I liked the story and would definitely read on in the series.

Interested? You can find PRINCE OF AIR AND DARKNESS on Goodreads, Carina Press, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and and Kobo.

About the Author:
M.A. Grant has always loved reading and writing, but fell in love with the romance genre when she started working at an independent bookstore in high school. After meeting her husband in college, they began a steady northward migration and are now happily living in the rugged beauty of Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula. When she’s not calling out to passing ravens or making a cup of tea, she’s writing dark and moving stories.

Catch up with Ms. Grant on her website, Facebook, and twitter.

Unexpected Connections A HARMONY OF FIRE AND EARTH–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a Throwback Thursday review for a M/M fantasy romance from Antonia Aquilante. A HARMONY OF FIRE AND EARTH is the second story in her Elemental Magicae series. I really enjoyed THE PRINCE’S CONSORT and THE ARTIST’S MASQUERADE, so I thought I’d try this one.

About the book:
Prince Edmund of Thalassa and Prince Arden of Aither are eagerly anticipating their upcoming wedding, but the danger to their kingdom hasn’t lessened. They have a plan, but they won’t be able to carry it out alone: they need a strong wielder of each Element, whom they can trust implicitly, to carry out the magic.

Rhys is a commoner and wielder of Earth magic. He and his sister have made a living from the use of their magic for years and have become highly respected in scholarly circles, though he prefers a more simple life with his plants. When a message from Prince Arden reaches them asking for their help, they don’t hesitate. They stop only to request that Gaz, a strong Fire wielder and the man Rhys has long been enamored of, accompany them on the journey to Thalassa’s royal palace.

What no one knows is that Gaz was once known as Prince Gareth of Thalassa and is Edmund’s younger brother, long believed dead. He fled his home after his Fire Affinity made itself known and put him in danger, and he had no intention of ever going back. But he can’t keep himself from going to his brother’s aid, despite the risk of discovery and of the weight of his secrets potentially crushing his fledgling relationship with Rhys.

Working against time, they must find a way to come together in a magical working the likes of which none of them has ever imagined, or their homelands will surely burn.

My Review:
This is the second book in a fantasy series, and likely best enjoyed when read in sequence, though I read it as a standalone and had minimal trouble following the complete story arc. There may be spoilers for the first story in here.

Prince Edmund of Thalassa, a water wielder, and Prince Arden of Aither, an air wielder, met in the first book because Edmund had been betrothed to Arden’s Elder sister, Queen Hollis. THis was a way to unite the fractious nations and stave off war. There is a lot of intrigue, some attempts at assassination, and it seems the culprits–backed by the grasping rulers of neighboring Tycen escape, and Edmund and Arden have retreated to Thalassa where now their marriage is part of a treaty to halt escalating tensions between Thalassa and Aither. Tycen’s fire-wielding agents have been creating conflicts at the borders of both nations to incite violence that will weaken these countries to make an advantage for Tycen’s forces to attack. While the marriage is a political alliance, Arden and Edmund are very much in love with one another, and determined to manage the growing threat of Tycen’s plots side by side and hand in hand.

Arden, a scholar in magic, has determined that the way to stop the fire attacks by Tycen’s agents is to shore up their borders using a complex combination of the magic of all four elements. He’s a strong air wielder, and he sends for a strong earth wielder, Briallen, who travels with her brother Rhys, also an earth wielder. It’s trickier to find a fire wielder, especially in Thalassa, where the water-wielding King Torin has made the practice illegal. His second son, Gareth, barely escaped Thalassa with his life once his Talent for fire became known in his puberty. Briallen and Rhys do know Gaz, a reclusive fire wielder who resides in a cottage inside the borders of Aither, where fire wielding isn’t illegal. They invite Gaz to come with them on Arden’s request to bring any fire wielder they might trust. They don’t know that Gaz is really Prince Gareth living in exile with his bodyguard.

Gaz knows that he should refuse Briallen’s quest, but he can’t resist the possibility of helping safeguard the kingdom of his birth. He doesn’t know he’ll see his brother again, but he is in fear of discovery. The disguises his bodyguard fashions are pretty good, though. And the growing attraction between Gaz and Rhys is also a balm. Gaz has lived in near solitude for the better part of a decade and he’s…burning (ha!) for some affection. The journey unites Rhys and Gaz, but Gaz’s true identity becomes a secret that divides them. When the reunion comes, Gaz fears Edmund will send him away–or worse imprison him, but his need to reconnect makes him reckless–with the best possible result. In fact, it is connection that will power the big magic Arden has planned, so Rhys must get past his (kinda unreasonable) hurt that Gaz concealed his true name from him.

This is a quest story, considering the bigger picture, but also a romance for Rhys and Gareth/Gaz, as well as a reunion of brothers/family as Gareth connects with both Edmund and his younger sister. There are many points of view in the story, but I found it easier to follow than I expected. The sexytimes are on the down low–less graphic and more emotional connection, which made sense given the objectives of the story and the needs of the character–particularly Gaz. Rhys, as an earth wielder and low-key healer, is a nurturer by nature, and he’s more than willing to care for reclusive and attractive Gaz, but thinks he isn’t worthy of a prince–despite these two identities describing the same man. It takes a bit of magic to get his mind turned around, but that’s all to the good.

Danger lurks throughout the book, and even up to the end the potential for surprise and disruption are lurking. The location the magic must be performed is close to the borders and sites of incursion, and Thalassan guards could still arrest Gareth, if he’s recognized. The climax does bring more battle than expected, but also a better sense of closure, with it. This book ends the duology–leaving the reader satisfied that peace will reign and happiness will follow our stalwart heroes. I liked the book, and would recommend for folks who enjoy fantasy, magical realism and quest stories with a side of romance.

Interested? You can find A HARMONY OF FIRE AND EARTH on Goodreads, NineStar Press, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple Books and Kobo.

About the Author:
Antonia Aquilante has been making up stories for as long as she can remember, and at the age of twelve, decided she would be a writer when she grew up. After many years and a few career detours, she has returned to that original plan. Her stories have changed over the years, but one thing has remained consistent—they all end in happily ever after.

She has a fondness for travel (and a long list of places she wants to visit and revisit), taking photos, family history, fabulous shoes, baking treats (which she shares with friends and family), and of course, reading. She usually has at least two books started at once and never goes anywhere without her Kindle. Though she is a convert to e-books, she still loves paper books the best, and there are a couple thousand of them residing in her home with her.

Born and raised in New Jersey, Antonia is living there again after years in Washington, DC and North Carolina for school and work. She enjoys being back in the Garden State but admits to being tempted every so often to run away from home and live in Italy.

Catch up with Antonia on Facebook, and twitter.