CAUGHT! in the Truth–A TBR Thursday Review

Hi there! Today I’m working off my TBR Thursday list and pulling out a contemporary M/M British romance from JL Merrow. I really enjoyed OUT! and PLAYED!, the second and third books in the Shamwell Tales series, but I’d always wanted to read the first–CAUGHT! Now that it’s been re-released I jumped at the chance to check it off my TBR.

About the book:
Bow ties are cool . . . but secrets, not so much.
Behind Robert Emeny’s cheerfully eccentric exterior lies a young heart battered and bruised by his past. He’s taken a job in a village primary school to make a fresh start, and love isn’t part of his plans. But then he’s knocked for six—literally—by a chance encounter with the uncle of two of his pupils.

Sean Grant works in pest control, lives on a council estate, and rides a motorbike. Robert is an ex–public schoolboy from a posh family who drives a classic car. On the face of it, they shouldn’t have anything in common. Yet Robert can’t resist Sean’s roguish grin, and passion sparks between them even after an excruciatingly embarrassing first date.

Too bad the past Robert’s hiding from is about to come looking for him. His increasingly ludicrous efforts to keep his secrets are pushing Sean away—but telling the truth could make Sean leave him for good.

My Review:
Mr. Robert Emeny is a certified teacher whose life has taken a bad turn. He doesn’t want anyone to know what drove him from the posh boys’ public school (like a private high school in the States…) into a small-town nursery school as a primary school teacher. He’s struggling to make it through the days, class management of 20 six year-olds isn’t the easiest, but he’s especially taken by the doting until of his troublemaker twins: Sean Grant.

Sean’s twin sister’s been suffering from cancer for years, and he’s lived with her and assisted in the care of his rough-and-tumble nephews since their dad skipped off before their birth. It’s made a crimp in his love-life, but not too much of one. Eyeing up his nephews’ cute teacher–who the kids all call ‘Mr. Enemy’–isn’t a hardship either. Of course, Sean thinks Rob’s likely looking at him as the ‘bit of rough’ he is: being a poor ‘ratcatcher’ (exterminator) and all, but darned if he doesn’t like the way Rob wears his sexy bow-ties and cuddles close on the back of his motorbike.

These two are an odd couple, but they hit it off rather quickly. It’s too quick, though, because Rob’s still reeling from the accusations he faced back at his old school, where he tendered his resignation and lost his boyfriend in one fell swoop. If only he hadn’t been so conscientious…

The secret eats at the relationship, and Rob wants to unburden himself, but what if Sean doesn’t believe him? What if he does what his last partner, the man Rob hoped to marry, did? There’s a lot of fear there, and some deep, deep shame, too. Sean’s hurt feelings need smoothing over, and Rob does the smoothing in the sweatiest way possible…after a jog, people! Sheesh! Perverts, the lot of you. 😉 Just kidding, there’s some yummy sexytimes here.

I was so happy to find this one back on the market, and I’m eager to read the fourth Shamwell Tale, SPUN!, released last month. Expect a review soon.

Interested? You can find CAUGHT! on Goodreads, Riptide Publishing, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, and Kobo. I received a review copy via NetGalley.

About the Author:
JL Merrow is that rare beast, and English person who refuses to drink tea. She read Natural Sciences at Cambridge, where she learned many things, chief amongst which was that she never wanted to see the inside of a lab ever again. Her one regret is that she never mastered the ability of punting one-handed whilst holding a glass of champagne.

She writes across genres, with a preference for contemporary gay romance and and mysteries, and is frequently accused of humour. Her novel Slam! won the 2013 Rainbow Award for Best LGBT Romantic Comedy and her novella Muscling Through and novel Relief Valve were both EPIC Awards Finalists.

JL Merrow is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, International Thriller Writers, Verulam Writers’ Circle and the UK GLBTQ Fiction Meet organising team.

Find JL Merrow online on her website, twitter and Facebook.

Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!

Love is a WAKE UP CALL–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a contemporary M/M British romance from JL Merrow. WAKE UP CALL is an interesting look at forging a new life after a disabling disease, getting over past hurts, and being open to love even when it’s not easy. I really enjoyed OUT! and PLAYED! as well as BLOW DOWN and LOVER’S LEAP, so I jumped at the chance to read this first book in a series set in a fictional seaside town in Cornwall.

About the book:
South London mechanic Devan Thompson has gone to Porthkennack to track down someone he’s been waiting all his life to know. But Dev’s distracted from his quest by Kyle, a broodingly handsome local of only a few months, who’s already got a reputation as an alcoholic because of his strange behaviour—including a habit of collapsing in the street.

Kyle Anthony fled to Porthkennack to escape from the ruins of his life. Still raging against his diagnosis of narcolepsy—a condition that’s cost him his job as a barrister, his lover, and all chance of normality—the last thing he wants is another relationship that’s doomed to fail. But Dev’s easy-going acceptance and adaptability, not to mention his good looks, have Kyle breaking all his self-imposed rules.

When disaster strikes Dev’s adored little sister, Kyle steps up to the plate, and Dev sees a side of his lover he wasn’t prepared for: competent, professional—and way out of Dev’s league. With one man determined that they don’t have a future, and the other fearing it, life after Porthkennack is starting to look bleak for both of them.

My Review:
Devan Thompson is a 24 y/o mechanic who desperately wants to know who his family was. He was given up for adoption, but the family who took him disintegrated when he was young and he was shuffled from placement to placement and group home to group home until he aged out of the system. He recently learned that his birth mother is alive and part of a prominent family in Porthkennack, a seaside town on Cornwall’s Atlantic coast, so he’s come on an extended holiday to attempt to meet her in person, now that his attempts to reach her via email have been ignored.

While getting up his courage, and staking out the lay of the land in Porthkennack, Dev meets Kyle, when it seems he’s collapsed due to heavy drinking at eleven in the morning. That’s what a local girl says, anyway, as the townies see, Kyle, the strange new resident, as a lewd mystery. Dev didn’t smell any alcohol though, and some of his “caregivers” were chronic alcoholics, so he’s familiar with the signs. Digging deeper, Dev learns that Kyle was diagnosed with narcolepsy and cataplexy, and he is often struck by attacks of either quite suddenly. He retired from his job as a barrister, fearing that he’d have an attack while in court, and not being able to control his situation left him bitter and frustrated. Kyle’s unsure what Devan might want with a surly, broken man like himself, and isn’t excited to even begin a friendship. But, Devan also knows people, not just cars, and he’s got precious little else to do. Reuniting with his mum seems as exercise in failure, and he’s glad to have Kyle’s shoulder to cry on when it gets ugly.

I liked this textured and layered story of two isolated men building a connection that makes them both whole. Devan’s sweet and faithful attitude is a balm to Kyle’s wounded heart. Kyle has worked his whole life for a career that now seems moot–and he laments giving up on so many opportunities to have a richer life for studies that haven’t borne fruit. Kyle has a lot of resentment about his disability, but Dev hardly finds it a challenge; he’s searching out ways to accommodate Kyle’s attacks and Kyle’s touched that this stranger is more compassionate and conscientious than his former lover of several years. Meanwhile, Dev’s always lamented his lack of family. He’s desired the connections all his friends have–someplace to go come Christmas, and people who build a life around knowing you. His dreams are realized in Porthkennack, but not in the way he anticipated. This is a sweet and tender romance, with some steam, but it’s also an interesting story that educated me regarding new disabilities and the insensitivity some have towards afflicted persons.

Interested? You can find WAKE UP CALL on Goodreads, Riptide Publishing, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, and Kobo. I received a review copy via NetGalley.

About the Author:
JL Merrow is that rare beast, and English person who refuses to drink tea. She read Natural Sciences at Cambridge, where she learned many things, chief amongst which was that she never wanted to see the inside of a lab ever again. Her one regret is that she never mastered the ability of punting one-handed whilst holding a glass of champagne.

She writes across genres, with a preference for contemporary gay romance and and mysteries, and is frequently accused of humour. Her novel Slam! won the 2013 Rainbow Award for Best LGBT Romantic Comedy and her novella Muscling Through and novel Relief Valve were both EPIC Awards Finalists.

JL Merrow is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, International Thriller Writers, Verulam Writers’ Circle and the UK GLBTQ Fiction Meet organising team.

Find JL Merrow online on her website, twitter and Facebook.

Surviving a BLOW DOWN–Release Day Review!

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Hi there! Today I’m sharing a release day review for a new contemporary M/M mystery/romance from JL Merrow. I’ve recently enjoyed her recent books, PLAYED! and OUT! so I stepped into her murder-mystery M/M romance Plumber’s Mate series, and I was not disappointed! BLOW DOWN is the fourth book in the series, but I had no trouble loving it despite not reading the earlier books.

Blow Down (The Plumber's Mate, #4)About the book:

Death is what happens while you’re making other plans.

The Plumber’s Mate Mysteries, Book 4

The last thing newly engaged plumber Tom Paretski needs is to stumble over another dead body. He’s got enough on his mind already as the reality of his impending marriage sinks in. Not only is his family situation complicated, his heroism at a pub fire made him a local celebrity. Now everyone and their uncle wants a piece of his psychic talents.

Hired to find a missing necklace, Tom and his fiancé, private investigator Phil Morrison, wind up trying to unmask a killer—and there’s no shortage of suspects, up to and including the local bishop himself.

As Tom and Phil try to uncover the truth, they find themselves pulled in all directions by the conflicting pressures of their families and their own desires. But the murderer they’re up against is a ruthless schemer who won’t hesitate to kill again. If Tom and Phil aren’t careful, their love—and all their plans for the future—could be blown down like a house of straw.

Warning: Contains a bishop of questionable Christian charity, a necklace of questionable taste, and a plumber of questionable nationality who may be running out of time.

My Review:
This is the fourth book in a series, but I didn’t have any trouble enjoying it without having read the previous three books.

Tom Paretsky is a plumber with a skill that allows him to find “lost” things. Unfortunately, he often finds dead bodies, it seems. He’s newly engaged to Phil Morrison, a private investigator. Tom’s called in as a favor to his sister Cherry, to find something lost, a valuable diamond necklace, for uppity Amelia Fenchurch-Majors. This puts him on the cross side of Amelia’s step-daughter, Violet Majors.

And, when he discovers a body in the midst of the church picnic fundraiser it’s a big, big problem.

Okay, so this is a mystery and it has lots of peril–some bits more mild than others–but it’s also a character study. Tom is fantastic. His language is sublime. I never, for an instant, was confused about his Britishness.

“So, I’ve had everyone and his bloody dog asking me all kinds of crap ever since, up to and including Will it rain tomorrow? and Can you just fill in this lottery form for me? ta very much.”
“That’s just silly. You can’t do anything like that.” She paused. “Can you?”
“Sis, I live in a two-bed semi in Fleetville. What do you think? But try telling them that. Everyone seems to think psychic means whatever they bloody well want it to mean.

Tom and Phil are a sweet couple, still trying to figure out what to do with their relationship. When will they marry? Where? Will they move to Tom’s house, Phil’s flat or elsewhere? Tom has yet to meet Phil’s family–and that’s a fun Sunday roast dinner scene.

Seriously, I was so entertained by Tom I almost didn’t care at all about the murder mystery. Though, the investigation continues and it’s complicated and sordid and there’s plenty of dead-ends and fits and starts. Tom has such a fun and fresh outlook. His dry humor just sings to my soul. I love his bestie, Gary, who makes it perfectly clear that he and his hubs wouldn’t mind a bit of four-way with Tom and Phil. Those sassy blokes! This regular-guy-with-a-gift mystery is just good reading. Expect a harrowing moment or two; the killer sure doesn’t want a psychic getting the better of him (or her!) and might take the opportunity to snuff Tom’s candle. Little bit of sexytimes, but it’s not a big part of this story at all. That said, I liked that their relationship progressed nicely, and in a way that very likely leads us into further mystery stories down the pike.
Sign me up!

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

About the Author:
JL Merrow is that rare beast, and English person who refuses to drink tea. She read Natural Sciences at Cambridge, where she learned many things, chief amongst which was that she never wanted to see the inside of a lab ever again. Her one regret is that she never mastered the ability of punting one-handed whilst holding a glass of champagne.

She writes across genres, with a preference for contemporary gay romance and and mysteries, and is frequently accused of humour. Her novel Slam! won the 2013 Rainbow Award for Best LGBT Romantic Comedy and her novella Muscling Through and novel Relief Valve were both EPIC Awards Finalists.

JL Merrow is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, International Thriller Writers, Verulam Writers’ Circle and the UK GLBTQ Fiction Meet organising team.

Find JL Merrow online on her website, twitter and Facebook.

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Going For It: LOVERS LEAP–A Review

Hi there! I’m sharing a review for a new contemporary M/M romance out today from JL Merrow. I’ve loved several of her books already–OUT! PLAYED! and To Love A Traitor–so I jumped at this one. LOVERS LEAP is a funny odd couple romance between a young budding chef and the big, burly, gift from Poseidon he rescues from the waters off the Isle of Wight.

Lovers LeapAbout the book:

If they looked, would they ever leap?

Good-looking, confident, and doted on by his widowed mum, Michael is used to thinking only of himself. Getting shoved off an Isle of Wight pier by an exasperated ex ought to come as a wake-up call—but then he meets Rufus and he’s right back to letting the little head take charge. Rufus is cute, keen, and gets under Michael’s skin in a disturbing way.

Would-be chef Rufus can’t believe his luck when a dripping wet dream of a man walks out of the sea on his birthday, especially when Michael ends up staying at the family B&B. Life is perfect—at least until Michael has to go home to the mainland.

Rufus can’t leave the island for reasons he’s entirely neglected to mention. And though Michael identifies as bi, breaking his mum’s heart by coming out and having an actual relationship with a guy has never been his plan. With both men determined to keep their secrets, a leap of faith could land them in deep water.

My Review:
4.5 Stars for this humorous and heart felt contemporary M/M romance.

Michael is the youngest of four children, by a ten year margin, and the only son. His father died before Michael was born, so he’s been highly sheltered and protected by his mother and three older sisters. Micheal is a closet bisexual, as he’s sure his mother won’t approve of him with a bloke. Michael is visiting the Isle of Wight in February with his girlfriend of three weeks, Trix, and deciding right then that he’s rather tired of her–at which point she pops The Question. His stammered refusal results in Michael swiftly plummeting off Sandown Pier and into the water.

Rufus Kewell is a leapling–a child born on Leap Day and he’s strolling under Sandown Pier when he crosses a dripping Michael–clearly a gift from Poseidon for his “fifth” (20th!!) birthday. There’s some humorous banter and it’s not long before Michael’s forgetting all about his wet adventure in bed with dear young Rufus. Rufus was born and raised on Wight, and stays on as cook for the B & B that his father and stepmother run. In order to keep it afloat, Rufus has turned down all offers to leave the island to go train as a chef in restaurants on the mainland.

During the course of several days Rufus and Michael get tightly acquainted. But Rufus won’t leave Wight (he claims fear of the water crossing) and Michael won’t tell his mother about having a boyfriend. For these two, they need to take a leap of faith to make it work.

This is such a rollicking, sweet tale, with aggressive, obnoxious and obtuse Michael swaggering his way in to Rufus’ life. And, for Michael, Rufus’ tender charms and selflessness make him want to reach beyond his self-centeredness and be a stronger man. There were some tough love moments carried by Rufus’ best friend, Liz, and even Trix as they both try to convince Rufus that Michael is no good for him. Also, Liz wants Rufus to man-up and go to culinary school. And, there’s a poignant and difficult ordeal with Michael’s staunchly Catholic mum.  I really liked the sentiment and comedy of errors that this plot followed. Plus, a Love Shack was not only located, it was employed. Such fun.

I pretty much inhaled the book in one early morning read. The one thing I might have loved more: more sexytimes. Things got a bit subdued on that front early. *tuts* That said, it’s a fun one filled with delightful Briticisms, great banter and a few praises to Poseidon. Take the leap!

Interested? You can find LOVERS LEAP on Goodreads, Riptide Books, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble. I received a review copy of this book via NetGalley.

About the Author:
JL Merrow is that rare beast, an English person who refuses to drink tea. She read Natural Sciences at Cambridge, where she learned many things, chief amongst which was that she never wanted to see the inside of a lab ever again. Her one regret is that she never mastered the ability of punting one-handed whilst holding a glass of champagne.

She writes across genres, with a preference for contemporary gay romance and the paranormal, and is frequently accused of humour. Her novella Muscling Through was a 2013 EPIC Award finalist, and her novel Slam! won the 2013 Rainbow Award for Best LGBT Romantic Comedy. Her novel Relief Valve is a finalist in the 2015 EPIC Awards.

JL Merrow is a member of the UK GLBTQ Fiction Meet organising team.

Find JL Merrow online on her website, on Twitter, and on Facebook.

Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends!

Daddy’s OUT! What Next?

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a just-released M/M romance form JL Merrow. OUT! is a contemporary romance that features a mature divorced man getting his new life started, with a hot young boyfriend. Oh, and his daughter’s there to take him down a peg, or three.

Out! (Shamwell Tales, #3)About the book:

When the costs are added up, will love land in the black?

Mark Nugent has spent his life in the closet—at least, the small part of it he hasn’t spent in the office. Divorced when he could no longer deny his sexuality, he’s sworn off his workaholic ways and moved to Shamwell with his headstrong teen daughter to give her a stable home environment.

His resolve to put his love life on hold is severely tested when he joins a local organization and meets a lively yet intense young man who tempts him closer to the closet threshold.

Patrick Owen is an out-and-proud charity worker with strong principles—and a newly discovered weakness for an older man. One snag: Mark is adamant he’s not coming out to his daughter, and Patrick will be damned if he’s going to start a relationship with a lie.

Between Mark’s old-fashioned attitudes and a camp, flirtatious ex-colleague who wants Mark for himself, Patrick wonders if they’ll ever be on the same romantic page. And when Mark’s former career as a tax advisor clashes with Patrick’s social conscience, it could be the one stumbling block they can’t get past.

Product Warnings: Contains historically inaccurate Spartan costumes, mangled movie quotes, dubious mathematical logic and a three-legged pub crawl.

My Review:

This is the third book in a series but can be fully enjoyed as a standalone.

4.5 Stars.
Mark is a 39 y/o closeted gay man, who is recently divorced from his wife and assumed custody of their 14 y/o daughter Fen. His ex-wife is the only one he’s told of his sexuality, and he thinks he’s been canny enough that no one will suspect. He’s given up his lucrative career as a tax advisor (one of those blokes who tells the uberwealthy where to hide their money from the taxman) and moved out of London into Shamwell, a countryside village that is the location of all books in this series.

Mark hasn’t had regular contact with Fen in a long time. Even when he lived with her, he was basically a workaholic and hardly saw her. He has fond memories of her being a doting child and immediately thinks he can quell her spate of rebelliousness–that which got her expelled from her school–by installing her in a private school in Shamwell. Oh, poor deluded father. Fen has no trouble giving dear old absentee dad the raw side of her tongue. Or, well, the silent-but-haughty treatment. Don’t get the wrong idea about Fen, she’s aces.

Patrick is a 25 y/o aid worker who is well-out as bisexual, and still gets along mighty well with the locals in a men’s social group, the Spartans Society. He meets Mark when Mark shows up for the club, and begins going out with the group. Patrick’s drawn to Mark, but Mark puts him off. He doesn’t want to tip Fen off about his sexuality. (Oh, poor deluded father!!) Funny thing, Fen KNOWS all about Daddy Dearest, even if he doesn’t wish it so.

I adored how addled Mark was regarding being a parent. I guess I thought he had it coming to him, on account of being a bit pompous and overconfident and still endearingly oblivious. He felt like he was so slick, and so savvy and this 14 y/o girl thwarted him, and befuddled him, and figured him out and played him, by turns. In truth, Patrick owes that girl a life-debt, as she was the one who not only addressed her father’s closet full of skeletons, she pushed her father to find a new partner. Fen, for herself, wants a stable family. And she doesn’t care if she has two dads in her home. At all. Turns out two of the people she most bonds to in the book are Mark’s flamboyant gay former-assistant, and Lex the genderfluid assistant to Patrick.

There’s some issue issues between Patrick and Mark regarding Mark’s former job as a tax (cheat’s) advisor. This has to do with social services in England, and the lack of them when people don’t pay their taxes. It was a very minor part of the story. I liked it for my own self, mostly because I’m rather sanctimonious about people paying their “fair share”, but I doubt that’s the case for every reader. That said, its a SMALL part of the narrative and the one part that Patrick’s mother–a bit of “tarty” lady who disapproves of her son’s choice in partner–actually tries to smooth over.

There isn’t too much heat here. There were a few frustrating interrupted trysts and false-starts (for the characters and myself) Every time Mark and Patrick seem to get things rolling there’s an interruption–for the first two-thirds of the book. That said, I liked the book a lot. It’s funny and smart and I loved that Fen was so great a kid. That girl has a right head on her shoulders. I did really like Patrick, and I liked how Mark had to really grow up, and become the adult he’d rather been playing at his whole life.

Interested? You can find OUT! on Goodreads, Samhain Pblishing, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and AllRomance. I received a copy of this book via NetGalley.

About the Author:

JL Merrow is that rare beast, an English person who refuses to drink tea. She read Natural Sciences at Cambridge, where she learned many things, chief amongst which was that she never wanted to see the inside of a lab ever again. Her one regret is that she never mastered the ability of punting one-handed whilst holding a glass of champagne.

She writes across genres, with a preference for contemporary gay romance and the paranormal, and is frequently accused of humour. Her novella Muscling Through was a 2013 EPIC Award finalist, and her novel Slam! won the 2013 Rainbow Award for Best LGBT Romantic Comedy. Her novel Relief Valve is a finalist in the 2015 EPIC Awards.

JL Merrow is a member of the UK GLBTQ Fiction Meet organising team.

Find JL Merrow online on her website, on Twitter, and on Facebook.

Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends!

What happened to 2015?!

book meme 6So…wow! The year’s end already? I’m a bit stunned, but also grateful. Some years whoosh by like a snowplow burying me under, but this year I’ve had the opportunity to read some really fun books, travel and interact with fantastic authors and review-types, like myself, and enjoy many moments along the way.

I’ve mentioned in the past that I also write, and I’m at the point of sending out a manuscript to agents coming next week. Fingers crossed that I’ll have the chance to promote some of my own fiction one day soon!

Book meme 3For the blog, I’ve gotten some great stats. Nearly 13,000 pages views this year. Not bad for a relatively unknown chick who drones on and on about books. If you’ve signed up to get my posts emailed, you’re in good company–140 of you special folks right now. Thanks for joining me on this madcap escapade! Lots of people are finding my reviews, and reading them/sharing them. I appreciate that so much, because it’s not easy reading and writing content to support the blog. It takes hours and hours each day, in fact. My hubs will attest he’d much rather I gave (most of) it up, so I could just sit and veg out watching TV with him…crossing his fingers that that might ever happen. TV is not really my thing.

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Goodreads tells me I read 375 books this year, but it’s been more. I didn’t log all my reads, though there are few that didn’t get reviews there. I have had a great time working with Joyfully Jay Reviews, picking up some excellent reads through their platform and generally interacting with those lovely folks. Authors have reached out to me and I’ve reached back, supporting their fiction in the best way I can. That’s a wonderfully rewarding experience, emotionally, and helps my pocketbook from getting TOO frayed. Yes, there are books that I do buy, and I cherish all my books–whether they were purchased or gifted for my review.

As this is a year’s end recap, it’s apt to highlight some books/series that got into my brain in the past 12 months.

Best read of the year:
No question it was CARRY THE OCEAN by Heidi Cullinan. This book touched my soul and left it altered for the better. Having suffered depression in my life, and having close friends/family with kids on the Autism Spectrum, this plain-spoken M/M romance between a brilliant autistic man and his depressive neighbor was spectacular.

Best YA read:
NOT IF I SEE YOU FIRST by Eric Lindstrom. Touching tale of an orphaned blind girl who learns to “see” everyone she knows in the best light–even herself.

Best YA series:
I’ve really enjoyed reading the Backstage Pass series of contemporary YA romances between the members of the boy band Seconds To Juliet and the smart, worthwhile girls the boys all fall for. There are five books in the series, and I think I reviewed 4 of them…
Abby and the Cute One, Mia and the Bad Boy, Anya and the Shy Guy, Daisy and the Front Man.

Book Meme-1Best Adrenaline Rush:
KICK AT THE DARKNESS by Keira Andrews, a zombie apocalypse M/M romance kept me glued to my iPad long into the night, and the next day.

Best SciFi series:
I’ve really enjoyed the AI world carved out by Susan Kaye Quinn’s Legacy Human series. It’s a bit dystopian, a bit tech and a bit romance. And I love all those bits! Looking forward to reading more of this in 2016. THE LEGACY HUMAN, THE DUALITY BRIDGE, STORIES OF SINGULARITY.

Best contemporary New Adult series:
Karen Stivali’s Moments in Time series is really a must read for me. This is a contemporary M/M romance which is emotional and sexy, at the same time. I’ve loved all four Moments books so far, and eagerly anticipate the next release. MOMENT OF IMPACT, MOMENT OF TRUTH, MOMENT OF CLARITY, and MOMENT OF SILENCE.
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Best Paranormal Romance:
THE SECRET CASEBOOK OF SIMON FEXIMAL by KJ Charles rocked my world and set it right again. Historical M/M paranormal romance that kept me turning the page long after I went to bed.

Most Resilient Heroines: (Teen)
Ivy in THE REVOLUTION OF IVY by Amy Engel–She takes on her entire desolate town and finds the true love of her life. YA dystopian.

Lulu in MY BEST EVERYTHING by Sarah Tomp. West Virginian high school senior Lulu’s college fund has dried up, but she can’t bear to stay in her small town any longer. So, she enlists the help of Mason to make a fortune selling illegal moonshine. YA contemporary.

Morgan La Fey in SWORD by Realm Lovejoy. Morgan kidnaps a prince, drags him through the swamps of Camelot and helps him find Excalibur–all to thwart a murder plot. And her execution? Wow. YA fantasy.
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Best Action/Adventure:
I AM THE TRAITOR is the final installment in the Unknown Assassin series by Allen Zadoff. You really need to strap in and read I AM THE WEAPON and I AM THE MISSION, first. You’ll thank me. YA contemporary.

Best Enemies to Lovers:
Historical
TO LOVE A TRAITOR by JL Merrow really flipped all my historical British M/M romance switches…
Christmas Romance
IF ONLY IN MY DREAMS by Keira Andrews took two battered hearts and shoved them into a car on a cross-country trek to make it home in time for Christmas. Swoon.

Best erotica:
The CAUGHT ON CAMERA series by Lily Harlem is spectacular M/M romance. Just loved all the sexy sexy bits, and the romance that developed between two new-to-porn stars on a filming trip was tender and lovely.

Best Menage:
M/F/M
THREE TWO ONE by JA Huss. Hot and chilling, by turns. This is a dark romance and not everyone makes it out alive.
M/M/M
SHARING A POND by Alex Whitehall. Frog Shifters. Pretty much knocked me out. Not the sexytimes, as those were satisfactory, but the emotional issues were excellent, and I’ve got a thing for frogs, I think.
Historical M/F/M:
THE MISTRESS AND HER MEN by Julia Talbot. A sassy widow and a daring nobleman–plus some BDSM? Yes, mistress!
Historical M/M/M:
RITE OF SUMMER by Tess Bowery was so loving and tender, and troubled.

Best Near Historical:
IN THE UNLIKELY EVENT by Judy Blume, historical fiction featuring her true-life experience of living in a town where three airplanes crashed within 59 days of each other. Harrowing!

Best Recovery Story:
CLEAN by Mia Kerick. This one gave me chills. M/M YA romance between two guys who’ve been down and out and almost didn’t make it.

book-meme-8Best Subculture:
Who knew the Amish would captivate me? I adored Keira Andrew’s M/M Amish Romances A FORBIDDEN RUMSPRINGA, A CLEAN BREAK, and A WAY HOME. They really touched my heart.

Honestly, I could go on for blogs, and blogs. But I won’t; books to read, books to write after all! That said, I’m looking forward to sharing reviews for great books in the coming year and I hope you’ll enjoy reading along with me.

Feel free to send me your recommendations. Goodness knows, I’ll probably pick it up. (Fiction, and preferably romance-ish, though. I don’t review non-fiction, memoir or cookbooks.)

Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends!
Book Meme 2

 

Learning How TO LOVE A TRAITOR–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a new historical M/M Romance from JL Merrow. TO LOVE A TRAITOR is a quiet intrigue set in the immediate aftermath of what was once called “The Great War,” but we now call WWI. I really enjoyed this slow burn, between a man who mourns his brother, and the person who may have been responsible for his brother’s death. I read PLAYED! by this author, and enjoyed her work enough to seek out another book.

To Love a TraitorAbout the book:
Wounds of the heart take the longest to heal.

When solicitor’s clerk George Johnson moves into a rented London room in the winter of 1920, it’s with a secret goal: to find out if his fellow lodger, Matthew Connaught, is the wartime traitor who cost George’s adored older brother his life.

Yet as he gets to know Matthew—an irrepressibly cheerful ad man whose missing arm hasn’t dimmed his smile—George begins to lose sight of his mission.

As Matthew’s advances become ever harder to resist, George tries to convince himself his brother’s death was just the luck of the draw, and to forget he’s hiding a secret of his own. His true identity—and an act of conscience that shamed his family.

But as their mutual attraction grows, so does George’s desperation to know the truth about what happened that day in Ypres. If only to prove Matthew innocent—even if it means losing the man he’s come to love.

Warning: Contains larks in the snow, stiff upper lips, shadows of the Great War, and one man working undercover while another tries to lure him under the covers.

My Review:
Roger George Cottingham is a scourge to his noble family. The younger son, a bookish sort, continually passed over for affection by his parents in favor of his gregarious elder brother, Hugh, Roger knows he’s second best. When it was time to enlist in the war against the Hessians, he balked. No, he didn’t just balk, this Cambridge-educated man who speaks several languages refused to join up–knowing he was unable to kill a man. He was jailed for a miserable year as a Conscientious Objector before he was sprung and worked as a cryptographer for the Navy.

Hugh was killed in a mission that seems quite dodgy on its surface. Roger’s been tasked by Hugh’s bereaved fiance (and Roger’s close childhood friend) to find out if there’s truth to the rumor that Hugh’s espionage mission was leaked to the enemy beforehand. Inquiries have led Roger to a boardinghouse, home to Matthew Connaught, an amputee veteran of the war–and the man who Hugh replaced in the covert mission. Roger takes a room at the house under the pseudonym, George Johnson, in order to befriend Matthew, and glean information regarding Hugh’s death–information which might implicate Matthew as a spy.

Trouble is, Matthew is a fantastic man. He’s upbeat, and lovely, and he and George immediately hit it off. Not only that, George is attracted to Matthew–and it seems that Matthew may return his interest. For George this is a revelation that is fraught with pain. Could he possibly be falling for the man who had a part in Hugh’s death?

All of his instincts say no, that Matthew is too kind and honest a man to have been a spy, but the deeper he gets involved, the more he recognizes that Matthew has some deep secrets–and he knows more about Hugh’s death than George could have predicted.

I absolutely enjoyed this book. Do not expect a lot of steam–though there is some, for sure. George has a day of reckoning in his future, and his inquiries result in peace for more than one family–though it causes a significant amount of distress for Matthew, and himself. For his part, Matthew finds himself in more than one uncomfortable position, and his confessions are a balm to George, as well as Hugh’s fiance. I ached for George throughout. He’s been abandoned and cast off his whole life, and Matthew provides the compassionate friend and partner that George has been too afraid to admit needing. This is a true hurt/comfort story, with an HEA for men who’ve suffered much, and carry on in the face of grief and loss. Plus, the historical details were a delight. I truly felt as if transported to that era, and was glad for it.

Interested? You can find TO LOVE A TRAITOR on Goodreads, Samhain Publishing, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and AllRomance. I received a review copy of this book via NetGalley.

About the Author:
JL Merrow is that rare beast, an English person who refuses to drink tea. She read Natural Sciences at Cambridge, where she learned many things, chief amongst which was that she never wanted to see the inside of a lab ever again. Her one regret is that she never mastered the ability of punting one-handed whilst holding a glass of champagne.

She writes across genres, with a preference for contemporary gay romance and the paranormal, and is frequently accused of humour. Her novella Muscling Through was a 2013 EPIC Award finalist, and her novel Slam! won the 2013 Rainbow Award for Best LGBT Romantic Comedy. Her novel Relief Valve is a finalist in the 2015 EPIC Awards.

Find JL Merrow online on her website, Twitter,  and on Facebook.

Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends!