POUNDING SKIN–A Military Monday Review!

Hi there! Sorry for the radio silence, I was in Virginia Beach through Monday afternoon and didn’t have a chance to post until we completed an overnight drive home, and I managed to get some sleep! So “Military Monday” is happening on Wednesday… Today I’m sharing a review for another M/M military romance from L.A. Witt. POUNDING SKIN is the second book in her Skin Deep series, that feature sexy Navy men, and tattoo artists! It’s on a different coast than her Anchor Point series, set in Virginia Beach, where I spent many a Memorial Day weekend, y’all! I’ve loved other Navy romances from LA WITT, including  JUST DRIVE and most recently WASH OUT, so I wanted to jump into this new series.

About the book:
Fighter pilot Jon Russell never sleeps with the same man twice. Known for his lack of shame when it comes to hooking up, Jon has no interest in commitment—even friends with benefits sounds like too much work.

Matt Huffman has slept with lots of women. He’s had loads of girlfriends. So why does the hot as hell pilot getting a tattoo as the result of a lost bet stop his breath? And how come he can’t stop thinking about him, even after he’s gone?

When Jon returns to Skin Deep the second time, he doesn’t want another tattoo. He wants to hook up with the gorgeous artist he spent hours agonizingly close to, and Matt wants to explore some curiosity about men. Fulfill the desire he can’t stop fantasizing over. And he wants to do it with Jon.

As their casual hook up becomes more than just skin deep, both Matt and Jon are faced with questions they don’t want to answer. Matt understands he’s bi—but are these feelings he has typical of hooking up with a man? Or is it only Jon that can make his heart pound? If Jon wanted nothing more than a fling, why does he find himself needing not just Matt’s body, but all of him? And can their relationship withstand the hardships that makes Jon avoid them in the first place?

My Review:
Navy fighter pilot Jon Russell loses a bet with his squadron mates that forces him to get a tattoo–despite Jon’s intense fear of needles. The artist that he seeks out, Matt Huffman, is nearly down-and-out with too many bills and too little cash, but he’s compassionate and curious. Bi-curious, that is. It seems that some of Matt’s recent experiences have highlighted how attracted he may subconsciously be to men. But, there’s no escaping the fact that he’s aroused by the terrified Navy pilot under his tattoo gun.

Jon’s always ready for a hook-up, but nothing more. And, he’s not sure why he’s so inexplicably attached to Matt–especially so when Matt admits he wants some sexual experiences with an experienced man. Jon’s all to happy to volunteer his sexpertise, and they build a friendship that includes smoking hot sex whenever they can manage. But, they also communicate in a friendly way, and begin to spend non-sex-related time together sharing meals and outings. Matt’s nervous about coming out as bisexual, and Jon patiently stands by his side. Months go on and they are far more than friends, and really more than lovers, before Jon recognizes he’s actually in a relationship. And, that’s not cool with him. He’d sworn to never settle down with another man again, but is being with Matt all the time really “settling”?

I liked this one. Matt was such a tender heart, despite his bulk. Jon’s compassionate, to a point. His freak out because of the ‘-ship’ business was troubling, but I liked how he came to terms with his fears in the end, and salvaged his relationship. Matt was definitely worth it. I also enjoyed all the sexplorations and how eager Matt was to embrace his bisexuality once her mentally committed. It’s clear he’d been traumatized in his youth by an overbearing, homophobic father, but his existing family is supportive, for the most part.

Also, the setting! Virginia Beach is a place I’ve spent lots of time over the years. In fact, on Monday–the day I was supposed to be logging this post–I was doing a drive-by of NAS Oceana, Jon’s base station. I always love when I can connect with a locale and the descriptions of the settings in and around the coastal area there were spot-on. Looking forward to more books in this series!

Interested? You can find POUNDING SKIN on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks and Kobo. I received a review copy via NetGalley.

About the Author:
Lauren Gallagher is an abnormal romance writer who has recently been exiled from the glittering utopia of Omaha, Nebraska, to an undisclosed location in South America. Along with her husband, a harem of concubines, and a phosphorescent porcupine, she remains, as always, in hiding from the Polynesian Mafia. For the moment, she seems to have eluded her nemesis, M/M romance author L.A. Witt, but figures L.A. will eventually become bored with the wilds of Spain and come looking for her. And when that time comes, Lauren will be ready. Assuming L.A. doesn’t have her hands full keeping track of Lori A. Witt and Ann Gallagher, which she probably will.

Visit her website, Facebook, and twitter.

Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!

End of the Road? NEW HAND Review and Giveaway!

Hi there! Today I’m sharing another SMOKING HOT review for a newly-published M/M romance from L.A. Witt. NEW HAND is part of the Bluewater Bay series, but totally enjoyable as a standalone. This book–which may be the last in the series–is a romance between a shell-shocked widower and a young HIV-positive man. I really enjoyed GET A GRIP and recommend RAIN SHADOW and OUTSIDE THE LINES, as several characters from those stories recur in this one.

About the book:
Months after his husband’s death, Garrett Blaine desperately needs a fresh start. He sells his house in Seattle, leaves his accounting job, and starts bartending in Bluewater Bay. There he meets a man who wakes up his nearly forgotten libido.

Jesse Connelly’s newest friend with benefits bolted after Jesse disclosed his HIV status. Stood up and stinging, Jesse tries to drown his sorrows . . . and finds an unexpected connection with a lonely bartender.

Jesse and Garrett quickly bond over a shared love of comics and card games, and they can’t get enough of each other between the sheets. Not even a bumpy start and a fifteen-year age gap can derail them as they go from strangers to lovers, then friends, then much more.

But as Garrett’s feelings for Jesse deepen, so does his grief for the man he lost—especially as he sees hints of his late husband in his new boyfriend. Now Garrett has to figure out if Jesse is his second chance at true love, or if Jesse’s just filling in for the man he’s never fully grieved. And he needs to figure it out soon, because Jesse’s starting to wonder the same thing.

My Review:
Jesse Connelly is a twenty-seven year old flamboyant gay man who manages End o’Earth Comics. He was infected with HIV by his first sexual partner back in high school and has been managing the disease for the past decade. He’s always upfront with his status with new partners, but his most recent love interest was a friend, first, and just when they started getting physical Jesse confided his (undetectable) status. And that dude has just stood Jesse up at the local alehouse. Feeling down, Jesse is charmed by the sexy silver fox bartender who’s new to the area.

Garrett’s younger husband died of cancer eight months ago. Though he’d been counseled not to make big changes for the first year of grief, Garrett sold his home, quit his job and moved form Seattle to Bluewater Bay to be near his good friend, Scott, a marriage and grief counselor. They each had lost partners young, and Garrett’s encouraged that Scott has now found love again. Garrett’s not looking for love, but he wants to know that he won’t always be so overwhelmed with grief that he’ll spend the rest of his life alone. Then, he meets Jesse.

The attraction is unexpected, and immediate. Garrett’s been celibate since before his husband died, but they both agreed he should find a new love. Jesse feels horrible and unattractive because of his status, but Garrett’s interest is a big ego boost. They have some issues regarding Jesse’s health, but it’s not because of HIV; Garrett has PTSD from caring for, and losing, his husband. Once they get past the misunderstanding, it’s hot times in Bluewater Bay for these two. Scott counsels Garrett to enjoy the comfort Jesse offers, and Jesse’s ever-mindful about Garrestt’s loss. In fact, he’s a great confidante, willing to listen to Garrett’s memories of his husband. They enjoy each other physically, but also emotionally and on a friendship-level, too. It’s cathartic and tender, and their bond seems unshakable, until Garrett’s in-laws find out about Jesse. And, their unsolicited disapproval provides a hiccup that makes them both pause and reassess. Is Garrett using Jesse as a replacement? Or, are these feelings both Jesse and Garrett are experiencing the beginning of a new life together.

This is a hurt-comfort story that has many facets. Garrett and Scott do a lot of soul-searching about guilt and loss. Jesse pushes all sorts of buttons for Garrett, but they aren’t all in common with those of his late husband. They share different and fun interests, including gaming and comics. Garrett sees Jesse as his own man, one Garrett feels honored to spend times with, but his friends and family are worried he’s moving on “too soon” which brings conflict and guilt. It’s natural that Jesse would wonder if he’s being set up for huge disappointment. If he’s just a rebound fling, well, it’s going to crush him, now that he’s gone and fallen for Garrett. I loved how Garrett and Jesse examined their relationship, and accepted good advice from friends. It’s not easy to admit one is wrong, and they both had their share of apologies to make at different points. They have a fantastic physical connection, and they are able to reassure each other that their feelings for each other is genuine in the end.

This book may mark the end of the Bluewater Bay series, and I’ve enjoyed so many of the stories. I think I’ve read 21 of the 23 books and probably rated most of the 4 stars or higher. It was great to see the wrap up of some of the previous couples, including Scott and Jeremy from RAIN SHADOW get married. I chuckled to see the age-gap couples (Levi and Carter, and Hunter and Kevin) pal around with Jesse and Garrett. I loved how the young whippersnappers ganged up on their mature partners, but relished their experience and patient loving. O.O A sweet and tender story.

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

****GIVEAWAY****

Click on this link to comment on the giveaway post for my pals over at Joyfully Jay. One commenter on the tour will win a $10 GC from Riptide Publishing and two of Ms. Witt’s backlist books (not NEW HAND).
Good luck and keep reading my friends!

About the Author:
Lauren Gallagher is an abnormal romance writer who has recently been exiled from the glittering utopia of Omaha, Nebraska, to an undisclosed location in South America. Along with her husband, a harem of concubines, and a phosphorescent porcupine, she remains, as always, in hiding from the Polynesian Mafia. For the moment, she seems to have eluded her nemesis, M/M romance author L.A. Witt, but figures L.A. will eventually become bored with the wilds of Spain and come looking for her. And when that time comes, Lauren will be ready. Assuming L.A. doesn’t have her hands full keeping track of Lori A. Witt and Ann Gallagher, which she probably will.

Visit her website, Facebook, and twitter.

Needing To Be ROPED IN–A Review

Hi there. Today I’m sharing a review for a sexy cowboy M/M romance novella from LA Witt and Marie Sexton. ROPED IN is an enemies-to-lovers story that pits a skittish closeted cowboy against an eager animal rights activist. Expect skilled roping, of the submissive kind….

Roped InAbout the book:
Graham and his roping partner, Jackson, have been friends since they were boys. They’ve ruled the rodeo scene for ten years running, but lately, Graham’s heart isn’t in the game. He’s tired of the bruises, the cowboy mentality, and the animal rights activists who picket every event. He’s also tired of being in love with Jackson, and nothing’s been the same between them since their disastrous drunken encounter the year before.

Then Graham has a run-in with one of the rodeo protesters, and everything changes. Kaz is young, idealistic, and sexy as hell. But he’s also a know-it-all, animal-loving vegan, bent on saving the world one cow at a time. They have next to nothing in common, but Graham can’t stop thinking about what might happen if they can stop butting heads long enough to give it a try. Unfortunately, no matter how attracted Graham is to other men, he always panics and runs when the clothes start to come off. But Kaz has an idea for getting Graham past his nerves and into bed.

All they need is a bit of rope.
(Note: This is a re-edited second edition of a previously published title.)

My Review:
I really enjoyed this enemies-to-lovers M/M romance.

Graham is a cowboy, or horseman, through and through. He owns his own horse ranch and training stable and competes in team roping rodeo events with his childhood best friend, Jackson. He’s long harbored a crush for Jackson, but he’s been surrounded by super-macho cowboys his whole life, and Jackson–despite one botched, drunken experience nearly a year ago–is staunchly hetero. Plus, there’s tons of homophobia in their circle. Graham is unwilling to come out, but–at 30 years of age–he’s tired of being alone. One major obstacle for him to overcome is his fear of intimacy. Methinks it’s some inbred self-loathing homophobia that keeps Graham from sealing the deal, but he’s never been able to have sex. He’s stricken by a panic attack anytime he gets close to a man–which is why his tryst with Jackson was aborted.

While out at an event, Graham is so upset by the animal rights protesters that are (loudly) picketing the rodeo and spooking his horse, he lights into one of the protesters, Kaz. And, bam! He’s never been attracted to smallish, academic-type men, but something about Kaz strikes an unexpected spark. Kaz later takes Graham up on his offer to meet at a local bar to actually discuss the issues the protesters have with the rodeo. This meeting is enlightening.

Kaz is a grad student learning all about non-profit management. He’s sickened by the inhumane activity of sport rodeo–particularly calf-roping. He agrees to meet Graham and is surprised it’s not a set-up for his own bashing. He hadn’t expected Graham would find him attractive. Graham’s anxiety intrudes, however, and it’s Kaz who takes Graham in hand, er, in rope. Yep, it seems Kaz likes a bit of kink, and Graham thrives under bondage and submission.

This isn’t all sweaty sexytimes, but, there’s lots of those packed into this short novel/novella. No, Graham has some reckoning to make with Jackson–who, man, I can’t give it away, but DANG! It’s so bittersweet!!! I need there to be some resolution to that situation.

Naturally, while Graham and Kaz are of single purpose in the bedroom, they are still divided on the rodeo issue. And, when Graham recognizes Kaz’s unwillingness to budge, he doesn’t bother to tell him when his own feelings change. It looks like Graham might be a forever single, but Kaz reaches out in a moment of equine need–and a new partnership is forged. One in which both Graham and Kaz can equally participate. I really loved how Kaz had to trust Graham’s knowledge and experience regarding the ethical–if sometimes dubious-appearing–treatment of horses. It was a moment of acknowledgement that Graham had doubted ever arriving. (Disclaimer, I’m not necessarily sympathetic to the Animal Rights Movement, so I really identified with Graham in these scenes.)

I so liked how these guys filled a need in the other, and expect that they will make it, though I really would have liked a longer story so I could see how they did fare after their reunion.

Also, I need Jackson’s story. So, uh, let me know when it’s written, k? K.

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

About the Authors:
Lauren Gallagher is an abnormal romance writer who has recently been exiled from the glittering utopia of Omaha, Nebraska, to an undisclosed location in South America. Along with her husband, a harem of concubines, and a phosphorescent porcupine, she remains, as always, in hiding from the Polynesian Mafia. For the moment, she seems to have eluded her nemesis, M/M romance author L.A. Witt, but figures L.A. will eventually become bored with the wilds of Spain and come looking for her. And when that time comes, Lauren will be ready. Assuming L.A. doesn’t have her hands full keeping track of Lori A. Witt and Ann Gallagher, which she probably will.

Visit her website, Facebook, and twitter.

Marie Sexton lives in Colorado. She’s a fan of just about anything that involves muscular young men piling on top of each other. In particular, she loves the Denver Broncos and enjoys going to the games with her husband. Her imaginary friends often tag along. Marie has one daughter, two cats, and one dog, all of whom seem bent on destroying what remains of her sanity. She loves them anyway.

Visit Marie’s website, follow her on twitter, friend her on Facebook, or join her for Coffee and Porn in the Morning.

Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends!

Faith, Friendship and Love: THE BEST LAID PLANS–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a new MMF menage romance from Lauren Gallagher. This author has many hats, and many names. I’ve really enjoyed several of her books, including LEAD ME NOT, WHAT HE LEFT BEHIND, and LONE WOLF. THE BEST LAID PLANS is a little different as it’s not a gay, or M/M, romance. It features a committed married gay couple who want desperately to have a child and continue to be denied adoption due to one of the characters being Muslim. Then one of their dearest friends volunteers to be a surrogate…and life get complicated.

The Best Laid PlansAbout the book:
It’s a foolproof strategy…until the emotional balance shifts.

After yet another adoption falls through, Gabe is ready to give up, and Shahid isn’t far behind him. Apparently, being a gay couple—half of which is Muslim—is just one strike too many for the powers that be.

When their friend Kendra offers to carry their baby for them, both men balk at first, but gradually warm to the idea. Especially Gabe, whose bisexuality is open to the chemistry among the three of them.

The plan seems simple. Kendra and Gabe, foregoing the cold, impersonal IVF clinic, paperwork and red tape, will conceive the old-fashioned way. They’ll all share parenting responsibilities, and live happily baby after.

But as the heat flares between Gabe and Kendra, Shahid’s long-suppressed insecurities bubble to the surface. Then some unexpected news catches the trio off guard and derails their plans—and now one heart could be left out in the cold.

Warning: Authors subsist on the tears of readers. Please recycle your hankies by wringing out and reusing. We’d hate to be the cause of a worldwide shortage of Kleenex.

My Review:
This is a contemporary MMF menage romance between a married gay couple and a woman who volunteers to be a surrogate. Expect MM, MF, MMF and MFM pairings.

Gabe and Shahid have been together since college. Eleven years of monogamy, married, with a home they’d love to fill with children. They’ve been trying to adopt for years, but the process has been stymied three times when mothers back out on account of Shahid being an observant Muslim. Gabe is completely in love with his husband, even though their clash of religion makes life uncomfortable with his devoutly Roman Catholic family. Their rather callous insensitivity to Muslim customs and law is a constant aggravation, and Shahid’s grueling work schedule as an ER nurse precludes more than one or two visits annually, and never during christian holidays. (Because Shahid is a boss and takes double shifts so his christian co-workers can spend Christmas and Easter with their families…). Plus, Gabe’s bisexual, and wouldn’t life be easier with a woman. Or, not a Muslim… (These aren’t words that they speak, but the intent has been there all along, and don’t think Shahid isn’t sensitive to this. Because, trust me…he is.)

When this latest adoption falls through, Gabe’s work colleague (they are both high school science teachers and cross-country coaches) Kendra begins to consider offering herself for surrogacy. She’s been divorced from her cheating husband for three years and can’t seem to find a good man to date. Gabe and Shahid were her rocks through the divorce and it’s aftermath. They are all good friends, often spending movie nights and meals together. Kendra and Gabe have a solid friendship, and while Kendra’s not convinced she wants the own children yet, it pains her to see both Gabe and Shahid suffer without. After some soul searching she makes the offer.

Gabe and Shahid are gobsmacked, wary and curious. Neither man really wants to go through IVF–for religious and medical reasons–and Kendra’s a dear friend, willing to undertake Operation Pregnancy in the old-fashioned way: knocking boots… Shahid’s old jealousies regarding Gabe’s bisexuality are dusted off and presented afresh. Would Gabe leave him for Kendra? Again, and again, Shahid’s feared Gabe walking away, simply because of the complexities of their religious and familial detente. They all agree to think it over. A lot.

Shahid prays over it, and considers it. Kendra’s offer may be their one and only shot at parenthood. He agrees to see if Gabe and Kendra are compatible. Boy are they. And while it’s awkward and weird and fraught with complexity, Gabe having a taste of Kendra ramps his desire for Shahid up x 1000. (Not that they EVER had an issue with intimacy before.) The aftermath, however, results in Gabe offering to have Shahid present at their next tryst–so he can be a part of the process, and not feel excluded. And Kendra’s down for it. She’s always found both Shahid and Gabe attractive, and she so wants to help them–and not make it weird. The results are sexy-sexy. Shahid’s stunned at how aroused he is with Kendra in the middle. His fears of being excluded are invalidated; though he’s not particularly attracted to Kendra, the experience is mighty arousing. Shahid’s a confirmed gay man, though. That remains the same… well, mostly the same.

Fast forward, and there’s gong to be heartache. I was just as nervous that Shahid’s fears for Gabe and Kendra would be realized, and they are to a degree. This is a complicated relationship. Three dear friends, two committed spouses and a third, finding a love within each other. One that satisfies a need for family that Gabe and Shahid had been experiencing. I really loved how the intricacies of this all got discussed, rationally, and in detail. I loved Kendra, for her heart, and her selflessness. I didn’t want her to be alone when all was said and done.

What was really intriguing was the issue of faith. Shahid’s faith is strong. He’s observant in his religion, more so than Gabe and far more than Kendra. He’s in constant reflection of his actions, and decisions and if Allah would approve. For him, all things come from Allah, and that included Gabe, who initially approached Shahid under the guise of better understanding Islam in their comparative religions class. Though we do not have any contact with Shahid’s family, his reflections tell the reader that they are kind, compassionate people who are also faithful and believe that their son is who Allah intended him to be. I’m not sure if this is “pie in the sky” hopefulness, but the representation of a well-adjusted Muslim-American family (Shahid emigrated with his family from Pakistan when he was four) with a beloved gay son was powerful for me, from a diversity standpoint.

I also loved that the HEA actually hinged on what had been a source of conflict at the beginning: Shahid’s religion. I don’t believe it was convenient, either, because these characters all had a whole lot of suffering to get through before they got there. It’s an emotional read, with a lot of sexy moments, too. I don’t think the author left an unanswered questions for the reader, which was nice. This kind of story, an evolution of the standard relationship, is often tricky to balance. The characters are all good, kind, decent people who make good, kind, decent decisions 99% of the time. I have a hard time believing readers will not love all of them.

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

About the Author:
Lauren Gallagher is an abnormal romance writer who has recently been exiled from the glittering utopia of Omaha, Nebraska, to an undisclosed location in South America. Along with her husband, a harem of concubines, and a phosphorescent porcupine, she remains, as always, in hiding from the Polynesian Mafia. For the moment, she seems to have eluded her nemesis, M/M romance author L.A. Witt, but figures L.A. will eventually become bored with the wilds of Spain and come looking for her. And when that time comes, Lauren will be ready. Assuming L.A. doesn’t have her hands full keeping track of Lori A. Witt and Ann Gallagher, which she probably will.

Visit her website, Facebook, and twitter.

Hidden in the RAIN SHADOW–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a newly published episode in the Bluewater Bay series. RAIN SHADOW by LA Witt is an adult, M/M contemporary romance that features mature men finding love even if they don’t want to… I’ve enjoyed many books in this series, including LONE WOLF and WEDDING FAVORS. While all the books take place in the Bluewater Bay universe, they are all able to be enjoyed as standalones.

Rain Shadow (Bluewater Bay, #10)About the book:
Jeremy Rose came to Bluewater Bay to work as Anna Maxwell’s bodyguard, not to escape his increasingly bitter relationship with his estranged kids. He just wants to focus on his job and be alone for a while. He’s done with love, especially now that three years after his long overdue divorce, he’s got a front-row seat to the rapid deterioration between Anna and her girlfriend. Cynical doesn’t even begin to describe him.

Then Anna and Leigh’s attempts to reconcile put him in the crosshairs of marriage counselor Scott Fletcher. Scott’s exactly what Jeremy needs right now: gorgeous, hot, horny, single, and 100% uninterested in a relationship. The problem is, too much no-strings-attached sex—and too much time in each other’s company—inevitably builds emotional connection.

Except Jeremy refuses to seek counseling for his broken family, and Scott refuses to get seriously involved with men who work dangerous jobs. They both need to realize they can only hide for so long from the pain they came here to escape. They must face their pasts before they lose their shot at a happy future.

My Review:

This is part of the Bluewater Bay series, but can be fully enjoyed as a standalone.

Jeremy is a 40ish man who recently
1. Came out of the closet
2. Divorced his wife of 15+ years
3. Moved to Bluewater Bay to give his family space, and work as a private security detail to the Wolf’s Landing film crew.

In particular, Jeremy is the main protector for one of the show’s director/producers: Anna. Anna and her live-in girlfriend Leigh have a rocky relationship, and are in counseling which is hard for Jeremy to experience. He spent years in couples therapy after coming out, trying to make the marriage work “for the kids’ sake”

News flash: It didn’t work, and Jeremy’s convinced that counseling is a waste of time and money. He want’s nothing to do with relationships now, or ever, partly because his kids are having SERIOUS problems with dad being gay.

He meets silver fox Scott while he escorts Anna and Leigh on one of their “togetherness outings”. Jeremy senses an attraction, but fails to get Scott’s contact info. Imagine his frustration to learn that Scott is a marriage and family counselor at the same clinic where Anna and Leigh seek advice. Scott’s tentative with Jeremy when he learns he’s in security–Scott’s one and only love was a cop killed in the line of duty.

These mature men embark on a no-strings sexual extravaganza, all the while sliding headfirst into Relationshipville. Neither wants to admit it, and neither wants to let it go, but the animosity that each feels for the other’s job is problematic. Scott wants to counsel Jeremy on his family troubles, and Jeremy wants to assure Scott he’s safe in his security duties.

They have struggles. Part of this is not having a healthy communication. Also, Jeremy’s daughter, particularly, doesn’t help. She’s a serious brat. Unfortunately, remembering my own kids in their teens brings back nightmares of that combativeness, so she’s got some authenticity in my read. I think Jeremy and his ex gave her too much power, however. Jeremy seems bent on weaving himself a hairshirt to wear regarding his late coming out, and being a closeted gay man married to a woman. And Scott is not as understanding as I’d like, for a counselor. For mature men, they make some juvenile decisions. Scott’s ultimatum to Jeremy: counseling or else, was completely uncalled-for and jarring due to poor foreshadowing.

That said, there’s lots to be enjoyed in the sexytimes. I love mature men finding love, and this book has that, as well. I admired the amiable relationship between Jeremy and his ex; that was pleasant. The book ends a little shy of an HEA, but it’s implied. So…HFN, hot men, and thoughtful partners, for the most part.

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

About the Author:
L.A. Witt is an abnormal M/M romance writer who, after three years in Okinawa, Japan, has recently relocated to Omaha, Nebraska, with her husband, two cats, and a three-headed clairvoyant parakeet named Fred. There is some speculation that this move was not actually because of her husband’s military orders, but to help L. A. close in on her arch nemesis, erotica author Lauren Gallagher, who has also recently transferred to Omaha. So, don’t anyone tell Lauren. She’s not getting away this time…

Visit her website, Facebook, and twitter.

I Fell For LEAD ME NOT–A Review

Hi there! Today I”m sharing a review for a new release from Ann Gallagher (AKA LA Witt). I have really liked some of Ms. Gallagher/Witt’s recent books, like On the Clock and WHAT HE LEFT BEHIND, and was eager to check LEAD ME NOT out.

Lead Me NotAbout the book:

Isaac Morris has devoted his life to preaching against the sin of homosexuality. But when his sister proposes a documentary to demonstrate once and for all that it’s a choice—with Isaac choosing to be gay as proof—he balks. Until he learns his nephew is headed down that perverted path. Isaac will do anything to convince the teenager he can choose to be straight . . . including his sister’s film.

When Isaac’s first foray into the gay lifestyle ends with a homophobic beating, he’s saved and cared for by Colton Roberts, a gentle, compassionate bartender with a cross around his neck. Colton challenges every one of Isaac’s deeply held beliefs about gay men. He was kicked out by homophobic parents, saved from the streets by a kind pastor, and is now a devout Christian. Colton’s sexuality has cost him dearly, but it also brought him to God.

As the two grow closer, everything Isaac knows about homosexuality, his faith, and himself is called into question. And if he’s been wrong all along, what does that mean for his ministry, his soul, his struggling nephew—and the man he never meant to love?

My Review:
This is a book about coming to terms with sexuality and features a Christian youth minister attempting to “choose” to be gay, in order to PROVE that homosexuality is a choice to turn from. Intellectually, it was a fascinating premise, and the execution of the story was exceptional.

Isaac is the youngest child of a fundamentalist Christian minister whose teachings are undeniably homophobic. His twin, Ruth, convinces Issac–and their conservative family–that Issac should try to be gay and then return to heterosexuality, in order to prove that there exists a “choice.” Isaac is unsure of the wisdom of this path–he’s suffered impure thoughts of men his whole life, and his faith is also shaken by his recent divorce from his high school sweetheart. However, his brother John’s eldest son, Griffin, is showing definite inclinations down this sin-laden path and Isaac wants desperately to can help guide Griffin back to the straight and holy. Still, this premise is dubiously accepted by ttheir father and his congregation. Ruth and Isaac move to Seattle, to immerse Isaac in the “gay scene” which Ruth documents with video. Unfortunately, it’s not exactly what Isaac’s father’s preachings have professed. First, Isaac doesn’t witness the outright debauchery he expected. Second, while trying to find a suitable partner in the bar scene, Isaac is beat up by homophobic bigots, and the man who saves him is Colton, a shy and compassionate gay man.

Colton is a former homeless child prostitute who’s had the roughest of lives since he came out in his early teens and his parents kicked him out. He’s suffered alcohol and drug addiction, exposure and depression, and come out the other side. He’s still tormented by the loss of his family, and works hard at Capital OUT (a gay bar) and the South Street Community Church, a gay-friendly church and homeless shelter for LGBT youth, sheparded by Pastor Mike, Colton’s surrogate father.

Isaac is blown away that a gay person is a church-goer, and he’s sure that the heresy taught there is as big an abomination as homosexuality itself, but time and contact with Colton begin to soften Isaac’s feelings. Isaac takes Colton up on a job at Capital OUT–all in the guise of research–and is astounded by the normality and loving nature of the gay scene. As well as by Colton’s tenderness. (Expect some cameos from characters in other LA Witt/Gallagher books!) In the process of this experiment Isaac does some serious soul-searching, aided by Ruth, his ex-wife, and an estranged sister. I was really touched by the depths to which Isaac dug to understand his sexuality, and also to recognize that his opinions were slowly morphing as he gained new and valuable perspective.

In truth, I felt like this book had so much resonance. Having grown up in a Christian fundamentalist church I was exposed to lots of conservative ideals–similar to Isaac’s upbringing. I got out before things became too contentious, but I could really identify with Isaac, and his big decisions. His torment over his soul, and Griffin’s prospects in their decidedly homophobic family, weigh heavily upon him. (If you want to see some REAL LIFE examples of Pride protests, and Christians who believe in Pride, please check out this wonderful blog post from my friend Victoria Blisse.)

Meanwhile, Colton and Isaac are falling for each other. This is a cautious and quiet exploration. Isaac is essentially a shy virgin, and Colton suffers PTSD from the rapes and horrors he suffered as a rentboy. The emotional context of this story was so ripe and engaging. Do not expect a lot of steam, this book is all about the heart and the feels.

Naturally, Isaac’s mission comes to light, and in the worst way possible. The resolution was outstanding, however, and the epilogue literally brought tears to my eyes. Really, I adored this book. The religious bits were so well done, and Isaac and Colton were not mere shells–they were whole, rendered persons that I cheered for throughout.

Interested? You can find LEAD ME NOT on Goodreads, Riptide Books, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and AllRomance. I received a review copy of this book via NetGalley.

About the Author:

L.A. Witt is an abnormal M/M romance writer who has finally been released from the purgatorial corn maze of Omaha, Nebraska, and now spends her time on the southwestern coast of Spain. In between wondering how she didn’t lose her mind in Omaha, she explores the country with her husband, several clairvoyant hamsters, and an ever-growing herd of rabid plot bunnies.

She also has substantially more time on her hands these days, as she has recruited a small army of mercenaries to search South America for her nemesis, romance author Lauren Gallagher, but don’t tell Lauren. And definitely don’t tell Lori A. Witt or Ann Gallagher. Neither of those twits can keep their mouths shut…

Visit Ann/Lori/LA on her website, Facebook and twitter.

Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!

Moving Beyond WHAT HE LEFT BEHIND-A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a super sexy M/M/M ménage romance newly-released from LA Witt. WHAT HE LEFT BEHIND is a book about married friends helping a friend recover from abuse. My goodness, it was a swooner! I’ve loved these other books from LA Witt, ON THE CLOCK, LONE WOLF and STARSTRUCK, and jumped at the chance to review this one. So glad I did.

What He Left BehindAbout the book:
Can you ever have a second first time?

Josh Carver thinks it’s just another lunch with his best friend, Michael—until Michael confesses he just turned down a date with his hot veterinarian crush. It seems Michael’s abusive ex left him more scarred than Josh realized.

Josh and his husband, Ian, have done their best to help Michael leave his horrific past behind, but even Josh is stunned when Ian suggests that Josh help Michael with his fear of physical intimacy. After all, it isn’t like it would be the first time—Josh and Michael were once each other’s firsts.

A hesitant first kiss, and Josh and Michael’s natural attraction eases the way. But with Michael still balking at the prospect of sex with someone new, Ian steps into the breach.

Everything is fine and dandy until emotions become so entangled, their friendship—and a marriage—could be at risk.

Warning: Contains three guys who will do anything for each other, a hot tub that’s always the right temperature, and a cat with an attitude problem.

My review:
This is a “melt your e-reader” erotic, contemporary M/M/M ménage story that can be summed up thusly: sex, and feels, and sexy feels.

Michael was in a long term relationship with an abusive partner, Steve, for five years. It has been roughly five years since Michael escaped Steve’s abuse, and he’s been working with a therapist all this time, but he still cannot bear to be touched, and has had no sexual relations with any partners in all that time. Each time Michael tried to initiate something with a potential partner he suffered panic attacks and PTSD episodes. He’s in his mid-thirties and completely, miserably, celibate.

Josh is Michael’s friend from childhood. They grew up together and shared all their first sexual experiences. They were besties with benefits, for a long time, but haven’t had any sexual relations in more than a decade–not since Josh met and married Ian. Ian and Josh have a stable, satisfying monogamous marriage, and a close friendship with Michael. When Michael confesses his fears over having sex with a new partner, it is Ian who suggests that Josh offers himself to Michael. That’s right. Ian is so sure that Josh can give Michael sexual healing–without damaging their marriage–that he urges Josh to help Michael get it on.

Through fits and starts, Josh is able to coach Michael to open up sexually. They are slow and tentative with each other, and it’s shattering Josh’s confidence, always wondering if he’ll push Michael too far, while also worrying that he is pushing Ian away.

I’m just gonna say that this is one of the most tender, most honest, and most absolutely scorching ménage stories I’ve read in a long time. The feels! My god! I wanted to weep whenever Michael clenched up and panicked. And Josh is an absolute mess inside. He tells the story, so we are constantly privy to his conflict. Ian is spectacular. Honest, and compassionate, and unrelenting as a sexual partner. When Michael becomes comfortable with Josh, and his anxiety over new partners is the last hurdle, Ian is steadfast. And hot! I almost chuckled when Josh began watching them interact and realized, ‘Hey! Why am I WATCHING when I could be joining in!’ I was cheering these guys on from this side of the screen for sure.

Of course, all good things come to an end, and Michael needs to find himself a stable partner, opening up the next round of conflict between the three of them. Turns out so, so good! It’s an HEA all the way.

Interested? You can find WHAT HE LEFT BEHIND on Goodreads, Samhain Publishing, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and AllRomance.

About the Author:

L.A. Witt is an abnormal M/M romance writer who, after three years in Okinawa, Japan, has recently relocated to Omaha, Nebraska, with her husband, two cats, and a three-headed clairvoyant parakeet named Fred. There is some speculation that this move was not actually because of her husband’s military orders, but to help L. A. close in on her arch nemesis, erotica author Lauren Gallagher, who has also recently transferred to Omaha. So, don’t anyone tell Lauren. She’s not getting away this time…

Visit her website, Facebook, and twitter.

Thanks for popping in my friends, and keep reading!