Hard Work in WORK BOOTS AND TEES–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a newly-released a YA M/M story from Jo Ramsey. WORK BOOTS & TEES features the redemption of a deeply troubled boy who needs forgiveness, even from himself. This is the fifth book in a series–and probably needs to be read after SHOULDER PADS AND FLANNEL, at the very least.

Trigger warnings: child molestation, homophobia, acquaintance rape, depression, suicide.

Work Boots and Tees (Deep Secrets and Hope #5)About the book:
Sixteen-year-old Jim Frankel has become the thing he loathes, and he can’t stand thinking about what he has done.

After being accused of sexual assault by two girls, Jim serves out his sentence in a juvenile detention facility. He’s shocked by the arrest for what he thought was consensual sex, and terrified his own childhood sexual abuse has twisted him into a predator—just like the man who molested him.

Upon release, Jim is no longer welcome at his family home, and with nowhere else to turn, he travels from Massachusetts to Michigan to live with his father’s cousin, Delia. Keeping his head down, Jim works hard at Delia’s art supply shop and prays no one will find out about the awful crime he committed. It’s his chance for a new beginning, but when he makes his first friend in Man-Shik Park, Jim is afraid to let him get too close. But by walling himself off from the support Manny’s offering, Jim might sabotage the opportunities in front of him.

My Review:
There are some plot points revealed in this review that COULD be considered spoilers.

At nearly 17 y/o Jim is a cast-off teen, recently out of juvenile detention for the acquaintance rape of two of his girlfriends. This is a pretty murky issue, as I will explain a bit. See, Jim is a survivor of sexual, emotional and physical abuse–from his mother’s boyfriend, father and stepfather, respectively. He has had no counseling, never told anyone about the (very young) sex abuse, and he grew up an angry angry boy–bullying all and sundry. He intimidated so many of his peers that his overbearing nature led to him into “forcing” two girls of his acquaintance into sexual acts that they later claimed were non-consensual. There was no malice in the moment, but it was clearly a very problematic scenario. The girls felt too intimidated to say “no” and it later came out that they didn’t want to–Jim was sentenced to one month of detention, is on probation until age 18 and is registered as a sex offender until age 21. If he has no repeat offenses and continues his weekly court-mandated counseling his record will be cleared. (These are the parameters of his criminal record as outlined many times by the author. In her notes, she concedes that it is likely that Jim would have not served any time based on the testimony of the girls and other reviewers contest that Jim did not commit rape. Given that I have no expertise in this area I am going with this scenario as written, and will only address my opinion of the writing, not the likelihood of the legalities…)

Jim’s mother wants nothing to do with him, his father wants nothing to do with him, and he’s been sent from his small Mass. town to live in a small Michigan town with a distant cousin of his father’s, Delia. Delia is a kind and compassionate woman, and Jim is agoraphobic, constantly afraid that someone will learn of his history and bar him from working at Delia’s art shop. He refuses to attend high school, sure that he’ll be a pariah, or someone will learn of his history. Before the rape accusations, Jim was charged with assault for beating up an out-gay boy in his school (Evan from Book 1 of this series: NAIL POLISH AND FEATHERS). He’s also extremely self-loathing. He is ashamed of his abuse, and ashamed of his actions and ashamed that he’s attracted to boys. He’s not sure if he’s attracted to boys because he was born gay, or because he was molested by a man and that somehow “turned” him. And, he’s ashamed of that, too. He wants to serve out his probation hiding in Delia’s storeroom and getting a GED and being invisible.

Unfortunately he meets a boy that doesn’t want him to be invisible. Manny is a queer boy who is not exactly out, and not exactly in–he’s Ace (asexual) but thinks he’s attracted to boys. He wants to be friends with Jim, but Jim doesn’t feel worthy to the task. In the background, Jim’s suffering panic attacks over his Facebook account which has been littered with hate, on account of all his previous issues back home. He can’t bring himself to delete the page, however, because self-loathing Jim thinks he should be eternally reminded of his mistakes, and suffer duly. Delia tries and tries to reach Jim, but can’t. Depression takes over and there’s a touch-and-go scenario that results in hospitalization.

This book series is built upon the premise of kids in tough situations making decisions that empower them. Jim doesn’t make these decisions until late in the book. He seeks help for his long-standing depression over his abuse and molestation, he does the hard work of self-examination and he begins to heal. He discusses his history in confidence and that results in further trouble–and new alliances. He finally believes Delia and starts to accept that he’s not the monster that he’s built himself up in his mind, and he begins to see that he is worthy of love, and affection. There are some truly heartbreaking revelations in the book.

While the legal issues Jim faces may not be severe enough, or too severe for others, the fact remains that Jim is a boy on a collision course with disaster before he arrives in Michigan. He is, by turns, neglected and abused and his rage is the product of this horrific upbringing. His self-hate is killing him, and it is only through being honest and getting the support and help he needs that he is able to get out of this dangerous path. Jim makes amends the best he can–by hard work, and living honestly and doing his counseling, and for some this is probably not “justice,” and for others it is simply what was necessary to keep Jim alive. The book ends in hope–as do all the others. I really appreciated the clear delineations Delia and Jim’s counselors give him. I like how he meets people who have been in positions like his, and persevered. Having known molestation survivors, I believe that there are accurate representations of an abuse survivor’s mental landscape here.

This is a hard read, because it deals with really hard topics. Jim was the bully and monster of a few books in this series, and now the audience is tasked with finding Jim a sympathetic character who should be forgiven. I don’t think this is out of the realm of possibility. I certainly found Jim redeemable, and had suspected from the earlier books that he was a closet case. That said, I’m not sure how his story will sit with younger readers. For myself, a white het woman, I have the ability to forgive much. I’m not a questioning teen who may be the subject of homophobic hate, or an adult who barely survived high school bullying–both of whom would be possible readers in this genre. So, the book is good, but it’s going to be controversial for many reasons–most particularly surrounding  the rape accusations, I believe.

Interested? You can find WORK BOOTS & TEES on Goodreads, Dreamspinner Press, Amazon and Barnes & Noble. I received a review copy of this book via NetGalley.

About the Author:
Jo Ramsey started writing when she was five years old and hasn’t stopped since. Between ages 12 and 20, she wrote twenty book-length manuscripts, longhand in spiral notebooks which now dwell in the bottom drawer of her filing cabinet. Jo’s first YA novel, Reality Shift 1: Connection, was published in January 2010, followed in October 2010 by book 2: Filtration System. Jo lives in Massachusetts with her two daughters, her husband, and two cats, one of whom occasionally tries to help her type.

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

Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends!

Living in THE WORLD AS HE SEES IT–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a contemporary M/M romance from AM Arthur. THE WORLD AS HE SEES IT is an intense look at living normally after surviving a hate crime. It’s the sequel to THE TRUTH AS HE KNOWS IT but is enjoyable on it’s own.

The World As He Sees It (Perspectives #2)About the book:
Love knows no limits…but fear could keep them from seeing it.
Gabe lives a double life. As Gabriel Henson, he works multiple jobs to support his remorseless, alcoholic mother. As Tony Ryder, he does internet porn for extra cash and regular safe sex without complications.

Yet when he encounters a scared young man freaking out in a night club, he’s compelled to reach out. Ever since then, the memory of that young man has haunted him.

Tristan Lavelle lives his life thirty minutes at a time. After a traumatic brain injury three years ago, he gets through his day recording his life in spiral notebooks and sticky note reminders.

A month after Tristan’s embarrassingly public meltdown, another chance meeting with Gabe sparks a warm, emotionally fulfilling email relationship. Both men crave more, but fear of the next step stands between them.

Until Tristan gets the opportunity to take part in a clinical trial that could improve his memory—if the side effects don’t kill him. But for Tristan, the possibility of a real life with Gabe is worth any risk…

Warning: Contains two damaged but lovable heroes, secret-keeping friends with good intentions, and an abundance of inappropriate food innuendo.

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

Tristan and Gabe met once in the bathroom of the gay bar Gabe’s fathers own, Big Dick’s, in the previous book in this series. Gabe was struck by Tristan’s vulnerability, it flipped all his care-taking switches, when Tristan had a panic attack after he forgot where he was. This book picks up two months later when Tristan returns to Big Dick’s with his friends Noah and Shane–and Gabe takes total care of them.

See, Tristan was gay bashed three years prior and his short-term memory is around 30 minutes. He copes by taking copious notes of all his interactions. His best friend, Noah, was also attacked with him–though Noah came out of it with only physical and emotional scars. Noah visits Tristan twice a week, oftentimes with his boyfriend, Shane. (The previous book was about Shane and Noah, and they have important recurring roles here.)

Gabe knows Shane from work–well in a couple ways. Gabe has been a gay porn actor for two years and did a few scenes with Shane in the previous book. He knew Shane wanted to get out of porn, so he helped Shane to get hired as a go-go dancer at Big Dick’s. They are friendly, though there is no spark between them.

There is, however, a BIG SPARK for Gabe and Tristan. Gabe is drawn to Tristan, and wants to protect him. Gabe has his own troubles, though. He is living with, and paying the mortgage for, his verbally and physically abusive alcoholic mother. She never got over her husband being a closeted gay man, and Gabe suffered her abuse and disease for some time, before he was raised by his dads.

Tristan’s memory is a problem that Gabe works through by having email communication. This way, Tristan has a physical record of their connection. In addition, they video chat and Gabe begins to make an impression in Tristan’s mind. Add to this, Tristan is offered inclusion in a drug trial that may increase his short-term memory retention. The risks can be severe and debilitating, but they are worth it for him to try.

This is a sweet and sexy story that really felt complete. I liked Gabe bunches. He’s a caring and compassionate lonely man. And Tristan is the same. He has been kicked, beaten and kicked again when he was down. Yet, he does look for a better life, a whole life that he can share with someone he loves. Gabe seems to be that man, but what will Tristan think about his mom? Or, the porn?

The results were positive, and smoking hot. I never felt like either man was “settling.” There was genuine attraction and affection throughout. Each man was as honest as he could be, and the full truth was not nearly as devastating as they expected. Expect an HEA and two guys who wear each other out the second they get some alone-time. (Or, “semi” alone-time.)

Interested? You can find THE WORLD AS HE SEES IT on Goodreads, Samhain Books, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and AllRomance. I received a review copy via NetGalley.

About the Author:

No stranger to the writing world, A.M. Arthur has been creating stories in her head since she was a child and scribbling them down nearly as long. She credits an early fascination with male friendships and “bromance” (and “The Young Riders”) with her later discovery of and subsequent affair with m/m romance stories. When not writing, she can be found in her kitchen, pretending she’s an amateur chef and trying to not poison herself or others with her cuisine experiments. You can contact her at AM_Arthur(at)yahoo(dot)com

Tentatively FINDING THEIR WAY-A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing my review for a contemporary M/M romance from AM Arthur. FINDING THEIR WAY is the second book in the Restoration series. I really enjoyed GETTING IT RIGHT and this book is a great sequel.

Finding Their Way (Restoration #2)About the book:

Thanks to an abusive father and a string of bad relationships, Riley McCage learned the hard way that people are not kind without a reason. Now, after landing a job at popular gay bar Pot O Gold, Riley is on the right track–until the night Boxer finds him drunk and drugged in the back room of an exclusive sex party.

Donald “Boxer” Boxwood wasn’t looking for anything beyond some casual kink until he peeled Riley off the floor and gave him a safe place to stay. But there’s something compelling about the guy crashing on his couch, and the two forge an instant friendship that eases into unmistakable attraction. Despite Riley’s hesitancy, Boxer knows one thing to be true: he needs Riley in his life.

Riley risked everything to run away and build a new life for himself, and his secrets aren’t something he’d ever wish upon his kind, gentle new friend. But when the past comes to call, he’ll have no choice but to put his trust in Boxer…and believe people can change enough to deserve a second chance.

My Review:
This is the second book in the Restoration series and can be read as a standalone, though I recommend reading in order.

Riley McGage has a secret–his identity is bought and paid for to keep his angry, gay-bashing alcoholic police detective of a father from ever laying hands on him again. Riley is a bartender at the Pot o Gold bar in Wilmington Delaware, and has met many a sexy man there. He’s a no-go for penetrative sex, but his current boyfriend, Brett seems okay with it. Well, until he roofies Riley at a sex party and prepares to take what Riley won’t offer. A party attendee, Boxer, sees what’s going down and doesn’t like it one bit. Used to taking in strays, Boxer, a hulking tattooed man who recognizes both Brett and Riley from the Pot O Gold (and other places) steps in at whisks Riley back to his place to sleep off the drugs.

Riley can’t believe Brett almost raped him, but he REALLY can’t believe that gentle giant Boxer is really as nice as he seems. They develop a tentative friendship, one based on mutual heartache and loneliness. Riley is grateful for Boxer’s attention, especially when he’s battered by Brett, when he needs someone to help rescue a stray, and when he needs a place to crash while his housemate’s parents arrive for an extended visit.

Boxer is an exceptional man. He’s had a hard life growing up, and his family is a shambles but he’s always willing to help a new or old friend. In his own person, Boxer likes to be topped, and subtly dominated. Having Riley in his home brings the two men close enough to develop an attraction. And then some! I think I liked Riley’s growth and exploration just as much as Boxer did.

This love story is tentative and lovely. People from the previous book end up spending time here, too. Tag, Nathan, Elliott and Detective Carey all make appearances–and it is Detective Carey who has Riley most on edge. Sure, all these guys say the man is stone cold sober and desperately looking for his runaway gay son, but what would the reality be if Riley were to break his cover?

There are really great connections here and fabulous communications between all parties. Riley may not have BELIEVED everything Boxer said straightaway, but he was never in doubt about how Boxer felt. The honesty was incredibly refreshing. The sexytimes were just yummy. I expect the next book will be Elliott’s restoration, and I sure hope he find the right man for the job!

Interested? You can find FINDING THEIR WAY on Goodreads, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble. I received a review copy of this book via NetGalley.

About the Author:

No stranger to the writing world, A.M. Arthur has been creating stories in her head since she was a child and scribbling them down nearly as long. She credits an early fascination with male friendships and “bromance” (and “The Young Riders”) with her later discovery of and subsequent affair with m/m romance stories. When not writing, she can be found in her kitchen, pretending she’s an amateur chef and trying to not poison herself or others with her cuisine experiments. You can contact her at AM_Arthur(at)yahoo(dot)com

 

Dangerous Love Between THE SHEPHERD AND THE SOLICITOR-A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing my review for a new historical M/M romance from the writing team of Bonnie Dee and Summer Devon. THE SHEPHERD AND THE SOLICITOR is a slow-burning romance that develops between two people of completely different worlds. One is a cheeky London lawyer, and the other is a reclusive sheep farmer–who is likely the missing heir the lawyer was sent to find….

The Shepherd and the SolicitorAbout the book:
When a storm is brewing, taking shelter could be the most dangerous move of all.

One careless, public sign of affection cost Daniel Pierce’s lover his life at the hands of a hate-filled mob. Grief-stricken, Daniel retreated from society to a sheep farm in the wilds of the north. Years later, Gregory Tobin erupts into his solitary life.

Sent to confirm the existence—or the death—of the Pierce family’s lost heir, Tobin isn’t sure he’s found the right man. The gruff, shaggy hermit calling himself Jacob Bennet bears little resemblance to photographs of the younger Pierce. Tobin needs more time to study his quarry.

With lambing season in full swing, Daniel grudgingly admits he could use an extra hand. Through a long, exhausting night, they parry back and forth as Tobin probes closer and closer to the truth. And something beyond casual attraction simmers between them.

They come together in a crash of desire, but ultimately Daniel must overcome the terrors of the past to reconcile the man he was with the man he’s becoming—a man capable of loving again.

Warning: Many sexy encounters on a sheep farm—NO, not like THAT!—between two adult males with temperaments as different as night and day.

My Review:
This is a historical M/M romance about a reclusive sheep farmer, who may be a missing heir, and the solicitor who’s tasked with the job of finding him. It is set in 1880’s England.

Daniel Pierce saw his lover, Jacob, murdered by a mob when Jacob made one slight romantic overture in public. That was three years ago. Since then he fled London and changed his name. Jacob Bennet is a sheep farmer, and a recluse. He’s worked hard to hide himself away, but he’s not put his past away–only buried it under grueling hours of work.

Gregory Tobin knows exactly who he is: a conscientious solicitor with a moderate income and a lackluster life. He enjoys being sent to track down missing persons, and is good at cajoling them to come home. His most recent regular lover has caved to his family’s pressure to marry–and wants to keep Tobin as his “bit on the side” which is unappealing and appalling to Tobin. He’s glad for the opportunity to hunt the Pierce heir far away from London.

The adventure begins in Kentshire, with dubious leads and a spooked nag–who drops Tobin unceremoniously at the remote grazing field of Mr. Bennet. Being dusty and mucky and unwilling to walk the 8 mile return trip to the village, Tobin begs to stay one night; Bennet grudgingly agrees. It’s lambing season and he’s up to his elbows, quite literally, in sheep. Tobin’s enchanted with the vagaries of farm-life, and looking to ingratiate himself with Bennet, so he pitches in where he can. Tobin’s quite caught unawares regarding his interest–it’s such a different life from his own well-ordered, clean, natty-dressed existence. Under the wide night sky he feels able to breathe, in a way he hasn’t in a long time.

Over the course of a couple days, Bennet and Tobin exchange confidences–Tobin could see the changes in the young man he’d sought, buried beneath the ragged clothes and unkempt beard. Still, there’s an attraction brewing in the lambing shed. It’s an awakening for Bennet, who hasn’t had a man since Jacob was murdered–and never expected to want one again.

Dealing with his secret being out is not so easy, Daniel Pierce is a different man, now–one afraid of crowds and loud voices. Try as he might, Tobin coaxes and cajoles, with little budging on Pierce/Bennet’s part.

I liked how these two lonely souls found solace. That’s what Tobin offered Bennet, and that was what Bennet needed most. The end went a different direction than I expected, which was all to the good. Daniel Pierce restarted his life twice, and the second time was far better than the first. There’s a bit of heat, here. Not too much, but enough to build a bond and drive their growing affection forward. Tobin is a cheeky man–and this is both scary and fantastic to Pierce. The idea of openly loving a man is too dangerous, but their remote locale provides enough cover for their illicit acts. I love historical books which have a realistic depiction of clandestine love affairs. The resolution was excellent, for me. It’s the best kind of HEA in an environment where cohabitation is not feasible, but affection and love still thrive.

Interested? You can find THE SHEPHERD AND THE SOLICITOR on Goodreads, Samhain Publishing, Amazon, AllRomance and Barnes & Noble. I received a review copy of this book via NetGalley.

About the Authors:

Summer Devon is the pen name writer Kate Rothwell often uses. Whether the characters are male or female, human or dragon, her books are always romance.

You can visit her on twitter or her facebook page, where there’s a sign up form for a newsletter (she’ll only send out newsletters when there’s a new Summer Devon or Kate Rothwell release and she will never ever sell your name to anyone).

Her blog is available here.

She also has a blog with Bonnie Dee, a frequent co-author. It’s mostly just announcements, but we might do good give-aways on occasion.

Bonnie Dee began telling stories as a child. Whenever there was a sleepover, she was the designated ghost tale teller. She still has a story printed on yellow legal paper in second grade about a ghost, a witch and a talking cat.

Writing childish stories for her own pleasure led to majoring in English at college. Like most English majors, she dreamed of writing a novel, but at that time in her life didn’t have the necessary focus and follow through. Then life happened. A husband and children occupied the next twenty years and it was only in 2000 that she began writing again.

Bonnie enjoys dabbling in many genres. You can find her online on her website, twitter and Facebook.

Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!

Kinky Love on NOWHERE RANCH–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing my review for Heidi Cullinan’s NOWHERE RANCH. This is a super kinky, total emotional range M/M romance. I bought it for $.99 and I could not put it down. You know I’ve loved Heidi’s other works: CARRY THE OCEAN is still one of my top reads this year, and SLEIGH RIDE was a fave Christmas book. And I was not disappointed following Roe and Mr. Loving’s story.

Nowhere RanchAbout the book:
Love will grow through the cracks you leave open.

Ranch hand Roe Davis absolutely never mixes business with pleasure—until he runs into his boss, Travis Loving, at the only gay bar within two hundred miles.

Getting involved with the ranch owner is a bad idea, but Roe’s and Travis’s bedroom kinks line up against one another like a pair of custom-cut rails. As long as they’re both clear this is sex on the side, no relationship, no interfering with the job, they could make it work.

Shut out by his family years ago, Roe survived by steadfastly refusing to settle into so much as a post office box. As his affair with Travis grows into more than just sex, Roe’s past catches up with him, threatening the thin ray of happiness he’s found, reminding him it’s well past time he went on his way.

But even a loner gets lonely, and at this point, there’s nowhere left to run. The shame and sorrow of what he’s lost will stay with Roe wherever he goes—until he’s ready to let love lead him home.

My Review:
Roe is a 25 y/o gay farmer whose family kicked him out of the house/family farm when they discovered he was gay. They wanted him to repent and “change” but he couldn’t/wouldn’t and he floundered, even getting incarcerated for a brief time. When he was released he took to ranching, working as a hand anywhere that would accept him, always on the move. Roe had dropped out of school early due to a learning disability and insensitive teaching methods. He has an incredibly low self-esteem, and doesn’t make friends. He ends up in rural Nebraska, the Nowhere Ranch, and is mortified to find the ranch owner out one night at the only gay bar within a 3 hour drive.

Travis is an older (40ish) out gay man who tried to make it as a straight man. He married, confessed, endured counseling, and divorced years ago. He’s a retired math professor running a sheep and cattle ranch because he likes the isolation. He had come out with a lover, but those days are long past. Seeing his newest ranch hand at the gay bar is a blessing in disguise, especially as Roe is compatible with Travis’ kink. Trav is a Dom and Roe loves to feel degraded sexually. The kink in this book is not the standard BDSM fare, but it is intense. I almost died when Trav asked Roe if he had a “safe word” and Roe replies “I’m partial to ‘no.’ ” (The deadpan language was just right for me.)

Roe narrates the whole book, which is written in retrospective voice, detailing how Roe found his “home;” and this home on Nowhere Ranch is truly spectacular. He is a down-to-earth guy who has few needs and fewer desires. He wants a simple life and no relationships, yet, once he and Travis dance around a bit, it becomes clear that their compatibility extends far outside the bedroom. Roe is hounded by his bad memories of home, and some contacts from his family are clearly destructive to his well-being. Trav is a compassionate man, though not outwardly. All Trav’s emotions are locked up tight, but the way he handles Roe, they way he looks after his welfare, is very sweet.

The sex is…whoa. Might be someplace on the solar flare scale. Just, yeah. Extreme at times and sweet only because it is exactly what Roe wants. The emotional landscape of this book is multi-layered, with two men who are so afraid of being hurt that they can barely acknowledge their needs. It is a relationship built almost out of convenience, if we didn’t know how incendiary their attraction really is. How their lives become intertwined was really awesome. I appreciated how Roe made solid, stable friends, how he was a significant force behind the ranch’s business, how he learned to love himself and care for himself and his future. I loved how fiercely Trav took care of Roe, and I adored Haley–Roe’s closest friend who was an amazing ally.

If this book were a food, it would have been a double chocolate lava cake; I devoured it as though it were. Yum.

Interested? You can find NOWHERE RANCH on Goodreads, Amazon, regular price on AllRomance, and Barnes & Noble.

Heidi CullinanAbout the Author:

Heidi Cullinan has always loved a good love story, provided it has a happy ending. She enjoys writing across many genres but loves above all to write happy, romantic endings for LGBT characters because there just aren’t enough of those stories out there. When Heidi isn’t writing, she enjoys cooking, reading, knitting, listening to music, and watching television with her husband and teenaged daughter. Heidi is a vocal advocate for LGBT rights and is proud to be from the first Midwestern state with full marriage equality. Find out more about Heidi, including her social networks, at www.heidicullinan.com.

Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends!

For Them, Love Was About TAKE–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing my review for TAKE, a M/M erotic romance by Ella Frank. TRY is the first in the three book series, and you can find my review here. I totally liked it bunches. I’d advise any readers to get the books in order. The series is billed as an erotic romance, and there is nothing less than a whole lotta sex in the first two books. What’s more, however, is a slowly developing love story between a man who never wanted a man, and a man who never wanted to need a man.

Take (Temptation, #2)About the book:
TAKE – verb: to reach for and hold in one’s hands or get into one’s possession, power or control.

Logan Mitchell is a man who’s always been more than happy to take what he wants. It’s a philosophy that’s proven lucrative in both his business and personal life, and never was it more apparent than the night he laid eyes on Tate Morrison. After pulling out all the stops and convincing the sexy bartender to give him a try—he’s hooked.

Now, Logan finds himself in a predicament that demands more from him than a smart-ass answer and his innate ability to walk away when things get too deep. He has a choice to make, and it’ll force him to do something he’s never done before—take a chance.

Tate Morrison knows all about taking a chance. He took the biggest one of his life the night he showed up at Logan’s apartment to explore his unexpected reaction to the man. Ever since then, he’s thought about little else.

At first he was convinced his attraction was based solely on his body’s curiosity. But the more time he spends with the silver-tongued lawyer, the more Tate realizes that their physical chemistry is only the beginning. He’s starting to catch a glimpse of what life with Logan would be like, and it’s one full of excitement and satisfaction—a far cry from what he had in the past with his soon to be ex-wife.

Each man will face their fears as they begin to understand the true meaning of give and take. Their feelings for one another will be tested, as will their very beliefs. But now that they’ve found love where they least expected it, will they be brave enough to reach out and take it?

My Review:
First of all, that’s probably the sexiest cover I’ve ever seen. And I got the paperback of Lady Chatterley’s Lover on my bookshelf. It had better clue you in that this book is SEXY…

We left the last book with Tate outed to his conservative Catholic family and he and Logan discovering how to move forward with their budding romance. Tate had never had a sexual experience with a man, before meeting Logan. Now, he is beginning to understand how he feels about his sexuality, and how satisfied he is with Logan as a partner. He does not particularly find other men attractive, though this is evolving.

The big crisis of the book is dealing with Tate’s homophobic family. It does not go well. In fact, introducing his family to Logan goes spectacularly bad. On the outs, Tate requests some time apart–which drives Logan insane. (Short trip!!) Still, during their week apart, Tate learns that his appreciation for attractive women is not attraction, and he really wants to make a go of things with Logan. Meanwhile, Logan learns that Tate is a good and honest man, someone to whom Logan can finally cleave, unlike his previous relations with others. The book ends with a minor cliffy, but nothing to get bunched up over.

We do get a fair amount of content between Logan and his half-brother Cole. The family dynamics between Logan’s “family” and Tate’s are quite different, and it was really cool seeing their relationship so accepted by their peers.

There is a lot of heartfelt conversation in this book, more so than in the first one. These men are trying to build a relationship, instead of simply taking sexual pleasure. In that regard, the book names are a little mixed-up, IMHO. It’s absolutely smoking hot, and filled with more sex than a gay bar’s bathroom. Expect to be F-bombed back to the Victorian age. I’ve finished the series, so I’ll share my review for TRUST in the coming weeks.

Interested? You can find TAKE on Goodreads and Amazon.

About the Author: (In her own words…)
I am first and foremost a proud Australian, but currently reside in Texas with my husband. I love to read and write contemporary and erotic romances, but I also like to step outside of the box at times when it comes to telling a story that really speaks to me.

I absolutely adore dessert. I could skip the main meal and head straight to the dessert line every time…especially anything that is covered in caramel. I am a GLEEK (yes I admit it… So? It makes me happy), on the other hand I love Dexter and he makes me happy too, so analyze that!

I love to sing really bad at the top of my lungs, and I often have conversations with myself. Some of my favorite authors include; JR Ward, Tiffany Reisz, Nalini Singh, Lori Foster, Lauren Dane, SJ Frost and many more.

Last but certainly not least, I am the author of The Exquisite Series, Blind Obsession and most recently The Temptation series.

You can find her online on her website, Facebook and Twitter.

Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!

THE RED SHEET To The Rescue!–Review and Giveaway

mia Red Sheet award ImageThe Red Sheet by Mia Kerick
About the book:
One October morning, high school junior Bryan Dennison wakes up a different person—helpful, generous, and chivalrous—a person whose new admirable qualities he doesn’t recognize. Stranger still is the urge to tie a red sheet around his neck like a cape.

Bryan soon realizes this compulsion to wear a red cape is accompanied by more unusual behavior. He can’t hold back from retrieving kittens from tall trees, helping little old ladies cross busy streets, and defending innocence anywhere he finds it.

Shockingly, at school, he realizes he used to be a bully. He’s attracted to the former victim of his bullying, Scott Beckett, though he has no memory of Scott from before “the change.” Where he’d been lazy in academics, overly aggressive in sports, and socially insecure, he’s a new person. And although he can recall behaving egotistically, he cannot remember his motivations.

Everyone, from his mother to his teachers to his “superjock” former pals, is shocked by his dramatic transformation. However, Scott Beckett is not impressed by Bryan’s newfound virtue. And convincing Scott he’s genuinely changed and improved, hopefully gaining Scott’s trust and maybe even his love, becomes Bryan’s obsession.

My Review:
This book brings to light so many issues gay teens face, out or not. Bryan is a victim of homophobia, as well as a victimizer. At the beginning he “awakes” with an overpowering urge to be a hero–to save any and all brings who need help.

This new attitude is more than exceptional. His mother is startled as much as Bryan. See, he’d been both a Superjock, and a Superjerk. His story will talk to you. Really. As Bryan endeavors to figure out what provoked his complete mental flip-out, he’s constantly addressing the audience in “Plain Teen Speak” which–my teen son tells me–is ‘foul-mouthed and direct’. So, expect cursing. Also, expect to move past it quickly. Bryan’s an engaging narrator–for all that he doesn’t know WTF is happening in his brain.

And that becomes readily apparent when he encounters Scott at school. Scott is strangely enticing. Is Bryan gay? He doesn’t know–and that’s troubling to him. Especially as pretty girls tend to swoon over him. Why don’t they excite him like Scott does? And why does Scott hate him?

Bryan’s confusion over his sexuality, his attraction to Scott, and their hostile relationship are all well-described. Bryan isn’t only messed up over Scott. He’s seriously torqued-off with his dad, who abandoned him and his mother for a very much younger woman, with whom he has another child. Bryan wants to hate his dad–and he’s been pretty steadfast at it for years–but the new, “kinder gentler” Bryan responds to his mom’s urging to build a relationship, even if it’s not perfect.

Bryan is convinced that the key to his mental issues lay with Scott–and he hounds his schoolmate until he learns bits and pieces of the truth. He and Scott had been dating on the “down low” until Bryan did the unforgivable. He caved to some serious pressure from his Superjock/Jerk pals and humiliated Scott in order to hide his own attraction. And Scott’s not likely to forget it.

There was this part, where Bryan realizes all his teammates already knew about himself and Scott–and wonders what it was he was hiding for…

RS 5 Promoand he recognizes the futility of all his bullying shenanigans. In the end, coming out is just what he has to do, even if Scott will never accept him as a boyfriend. In fact, Bryan’s willing to take any friendship that Scott will offer in order to be close to him.

This causes more issues, and prompts Bryan to move his alliance from the Superjocks to Scott–and build all new friendships in the process. The level of intolerance spans from simple taunting to all-out battery, something the new Bryan won’t tolerate. I was glad to watch Bryan “get it”. I was also glad to see Scott really consider all that Bryan does to prove his loyalty and friendship. It was refreshing that Scott wasn’t a dishrag–he has a spine, complete with heavy armored plating–Bryan really has to work to gain forgiveness for all his wrongs, and he does it all with a sense of style–even joining a flash mob for a teacher to hang with Scott.

By the end I was so rooting for Scott to accept Bryan–the New Bryan–that I was reading as fast as I possibly could to get to the end–and was relieved to find the resolution excellent. 

How about a little taste:
“Hey, you guys!” Marley plunked her ass down on the chair across the table from me. As usual, Kathy followed closely behind and hovered by her shoulder when Marley sat down. “I’ve got big news!”

We all turned to her at once. Josh even put down his walnut-grape-granola-goat-cheese-chicken-salad sandwich on focaccia to give her his full attention. “What’s up?” he asked between enthusiastic chews.

“I just heard some teachers talking in the hall. And they said that Friday is Miss
Libby’s thirtieth birthday.”

Kathy pursed her green lips. “We can’t let it pass without doing something for her. She’s the coolest teacher at Appleton.”

“You know what would be so funny?” It was Josh again. “It would be such a riot if we set up a flash mob for her.”

We all laughed, just imagining it in our heads.

“No, seriously,” Josh said. “We should set up a flash mob for her. Doesn’t she have lunch duty on most Fridays?”

Is this the Josh I know?

But, then, what did I have to lose? “I’m in.” It was the least I could do for Miss Libby, who’d given me a chance to redeem myself with Scotty.

“You’d do that?” Scott appeared absolutely scandalized. “What about those guys?” He again nodded toward the Superjocks. “They’ll never let you live it down.”

“Ask me if I care?”

Scott just sat there, his full spoon frozen just beneath his lips.

When Scott didn’t voice the question, David did. “D-do y-you c-care?”

I looked squarely at David. “Not even slightly. Plus, you should see me dance. It
is something to behold.”

Josh rolled his eyes, because he’d seen it a time or two, but everyone else seated
at the Social Justice League Table nodded and grinned.

“I’ll get together as many kids as I can and I’ll find some music. We can practice at the community center right after school on Thursday. I’ll reserve it.” Marley was always on top of those kinds of things.

That posed a problem for me, though: basketball practice. But I had new priorities. I would work it out. “I’ll be there. How about all of you?”

Everybody nodded again. Scott had turned an enticing shade of pink.

I looked right at him and said, “Then Thursday after school is a date.”

Interested? You can find THE RED SHEET on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Dreamspinner Press.

***GIVEAWAY***
Click the Rafflecopter link below for your chance to win:
one of (2) ecopies of THE RED SHEET
and (2) THE RED SHEET Swag Bag
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Good luck and keep reading my friends!

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

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

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

Themes Mia always writes about: Sweetness. Unconventional love, tortured/damaged heroes – only love can save them. You can find Mia on her website, Amazon, Facebook, and Goodreads.
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