A Pointed Partnership VARIABLE ONSET–A Review

Hi there! I’m sharing a review for a newly released M/M contemporary romance from Layla Reyne. VARIABLE ONSET features an introverted FBI instructor and analyst, now on the case of the serial killer he’s studied for more than a decade, while also pairing off with the most frustrating academy student as his partner. While their chemistry might be explosive, their timing is not helpful. Not with a clock on the

About the book:
To catch a killer, a special agent and his former student will need to get close—to their target, and each other. Layla Reyne returns with a stand-alone romantic mystery.

When the serial killer known as Dr. Fear seemingly reemerges after a cooling-off period, Special Agent Lincoln Monroe wants on the case. He knows his research on the calculating criminal, who targets couples and uses their worst fears to kill them, could prove invaluable. But nothing can prepare Lincoln for the agent waiting for him in Apex, Virginia: a brash and cocky former student. Carter Warren is everything Lincoln is not, and somehow everything he wants. And they’ll be going undercover. As newlyweds.

For Carter, seeing Lincoln again—and flustered to boot—pokes his raging bear of a crush something fierce. He thinks posing as lovers will provide the perfect bait for Dr. Fear. But pretending to be married forces them to confront fears of their own…like giving in to the very real chemistry between them.

With evidence pointing to the possibility of a copycat killer, Lincoln and Carter will have to race to separate truth from fiction. But when another couple goes missing, finding the killer will test every ounce of their training, skills and the strength of their bond like never before.

My Review:
FBI Academy forensic genealogy professor and Agent Lincoln Monroe is an out bisexual caregiver for his teen daughter. He has a great relationship with his ex-wife, a globe-trotting state department employee and his sister who babysits his daughter if he goes on assignment. Lincoln’s thesis work was profiling Dr. Fear, a serial killer that captured random couples and subjected them to their worst fears for 40 hours, or until they died–which they all had. He’s been active for 25 years, and never caught, but now it seems a copy cat has kidnapped a senator’s daughter and partner, and Lincoln is pressed into active duty. The senator, a former agent, was Lincoln’s mentor and the former lead investigator of the Dr. Fear crimes.

Lincoln is an introvert and suffers intense stage fright and fear of fire. He’s awkward and goofy, and not ready to be paired with a former Academy student who pushed all his buttons in class eight years ago, Special Agent Carter Warren. Carter was in the western Virginia mountains looking up old wrecks to find his missing birth parents when he found a connection to the Dr. Fear victims. He’s arranged a cover story for himself and Lincoln in winter wonderland Apex, Virginia, where they will have unimpeded access to police and genealogical records to help find not only the copy cat, but also the true Dr. Fear. But, uh, they are posing as husbands, much to Lincoln’s discomfort.

Carter has had a crush on his former professor since that very first class, and he’s not beyond having some liberties, if time allows. Not that it really does, with the clock ticking on the missing couple. Their endeavors are hampered by lack of familiarity with the small town folks, oh, and being attacked by crazies and the police department getting firebombed. While one case gets wrapped, two more pop up and the spotlight seems to shine on either the former, or current, police chief–who happen to be lifelong Apex residents…and brothers. When local residents are kidnapped, it’s up to some amazing detective work, involving the bells and whistles of forensic science and good ol’ library research, to bring this killer to justice.

This is a fantastic romantic suspense, with two MCs that have both tremendous respect and attraction for the other. Lincoln and Carter are great guys, who make the best of the tension, but never let their professionalism slide. It’s a total slow burn on the romance, while these men devote themselves to overcoming all the obstacles to find the killers at-large. There were moments of levity, especially regarding Lincoln’s self-deprecating humor and Carter’s mooning over his crush. And those also brought some nice tender moments, as these men bonded over their deep-seated insecurities. It’s a standalone romance, but I’d read another book with these two if it came available.

Interested? You can find VARIABLE ONSET on Goodreads, Carina Press, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo.

About the Author:
Layla Reyne is the author of the Fog City, Agents Irish and Whiskey, Trouble Brewing, and Changing Lanes series. A Carolina Tar Heel who now calls the San Francisco Bay Area home, Layla enjoys weaving her bi-coastal experiences into her stories, along with adrenaline-fueled suspense and heart pounding romance.

Catch up with Layla Reyne on her website, Facebook, twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, Goodreads, or sign up for her newsletter.

Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends!

Gotta Make the RELAY–Review and Giveaway!

Hi there! I’m continuing my Sports Romance theme this week with a brand new M/M contemporary romance from a new-to-me author, Layla Reyne. RELAY features the big strapping lads of the US Olympic swim team, and all the drama they suffer to win the gold. It’s the first book in the Changing Lanes series, and looks like we’ll be getting a new couple with each installment. If you like books about competitive swimmers, you might also enjoy WATER MUSIC or DISTANT SWIMMER.

You can drop down and catch my review and find the giveaway link for a chance to win a signed copy of RELAY and a $25 GC.
About the book:
Captain is not a title Alejandro “Alex” Cantu takes lightly. Elected by his teammates to helm the US Men’s Swim Team, he proudly accepts the role, despite juggling endless training, team administrative work, and helping out on the family farm. And despite his ex-lover, Dane Ellis—swimming’s biggest star—also making the Olympic Team.

Dane has been a pawn in his celebrity parents’ empire from crib to pool, flashing his camera-ready smile on demand and staying deeply in the closet. Only once did he drop the act—the summer he fell in love with Alex. Ten years later, Dane longs to cut his parents’ strings, drop his too-bright smile, and beg Alex for another chance.

Alex, though, isn’t ready to forgive and forget, and Dane is a distraction he doesn’t need on his team, until an injury forces Alex to accept Dane as his medley relay anchor. Working together, their passion reignites. When Dane’s parents threaten reprisal and Alex is accused of doping, the two must risk everything to prove Alex’s innocence, to love one another, and to win back their spots on the team, together.

My Review:
Dane Ellis and Alex Cantu were teammates, roommates, and lovers one summer ten years ago, but being gay isn’t something that Dane’s controlling parents will accept, or understand. His father, a powerful televangelist, and his mother, a Home Shopping diva, have ensured that the money Dane earns from sponsors goes into a trust fund he can’t access until he’s thirty, four years from now. Though he’s now 26, they control his life, and he’s not that happy with the results. Dane may be the fastest freestyle swimmer in the country, but he’s socially isolated and a pariah on his team, mainly due to his grandstanding parents. But, also, Alex still harbors the hurt over their teen love lost. And, the other guys on the team really look up to Alex, who is their captain.

Alex has had to fight and work for all he’s earned his whole life. His parents own a small farm, and he spent years pitching in, and caring for his younger siblings. To him, Dane had a charmed life with plenty of money and no qualms about leaving him behind. As captain, he has some say in which swimmers make the relay teams. And, he doesn’t want Dane on the medley with him. This is a four-man team where each one swims a different stroke: backstroke, fly, breaststroke and freestyle. Alex is the reigning gold medalist in backstroke, and he selects another swimmer, Dane’s teammate and mentor, to swim the freestyle part of the relay. It breaks Dane’s heart, and enrages his parents. It also leads to strife on the team.

The more time they spend together training, however, the more Alex sees that Dane isn’t the arrogant jerk he’d built up in his mind since their forbidden summer. Dane is vulnerable, and tired of his parents stomping all over his life. Seeing the out and proud members of his team being real, Dane decides he’s had enough of the facade, and it leads to a truce with Alex–and a lot more, including acceptance from his teammates for the first time in…ever. But his parents aren’t above blackmailing Dane to get him to fall into their line yet again. When Alex is accused of doping, Dane is sure his folks are the guilty parties. It’s up to his newly-gelling team, and Dane’s particular expertise, to clear Alex’s name.

I really liked this one. There’s a good mix of athleticism, anger and acceptance, including love. Dane’s life isn’t pleasant, and seeing him take the necessary steps to find his own happiness is engaging. Alex is a bit of a jerk, and I understood why–watching him get over his busted heart was nice. I liked his family, and how loving they were. And I liked how his mom, who is struggling with breast cancer treatment, made sure Alex knew that he didn’t need to break his back for everyone besides himself. Expect a lot of drama; these guys are really high stakes competitors, and have tempers to match. It seems as if the next book will take us to the Olympics, and feature a new couple on the team…which is interesting. I’m looking forward to it!

Interested? You can find RELAY on Goodreads, Riptide books, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes and Kobo.

****GIVEAWAY****

Click on this link to comment on my pal Joyfully Jay’s giveaway post. One tour commenter will win a singed copy of RELAY and a $25 Amazon gift card.
Good luck and keep reading my friends!

About the Author:
2016 RWA® Golden Heart® Finalist Layla Reyne was raised in North Carolina and now calls San Francisco home. She enjoys weaving her bicoastal experiences into her stories, along with adrenaline-fueled suspense and heart-pounding romance. When she’s not writing stories to excite her readers, she downloads too many books, watches too much television, and cooks too much food with her scientist husband, much to the delight of their smushed-face, leftover-loving dogs.

Catch up with Layla Reyne on her website, Facebook, twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, Goodreads, or sign up for her newsletter.