Young and Questioning HAVING HER BACK–Review and Giveaway!

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review and giveaway for a YA transgender romance from Ann Gallagher (aka: L.A. Witt). HAVING HER BACK is a tender and age-appropriate novel about acceptance, friendship and love–and contains the right amount of teen misunderstandings and angst. I liked LEAD ME NOT, another low-steam “Ann Gallagher” book, and I love YA romance, so this was an auto-pick for me.

Scroll down to enter the giveaway for a backlist book from LA Witt.
About the book:
Trevor Larson is a Navy brat. He’s used to moving every few years, and thanks to social media, he can stay in touch with the friends he leaves behind. But shortly after he leaves Okinawa, his best friend, Brad Gray, cuts off contact and disappears.

Four years and two bases later, Brad resurfaces—and announces his family is coming to Trevor’s base in Spain. But a lot’s changed in four years, and Trevor is stunned to find out Brad is now Shannon. Their reunion isn’t quite what either of them had hoped for, but they quickly find their footing, both relieved to have each other back.

Except nothing is ever all sunshine and roses. The military is a small world, and there’s no keeping Shannon’s transition a secret. Parents warn their kids away from her. She can’t attend school on-base for fear of harassment or worse. And although her parents try to hide it, being ostracized by their only social circle while they’re thousands of miles from home is taking a toll on them too.

More and more, Shannon leans on Trevor. But she’s also drawn to him, and he’s drawn right back to her, feeling things he’s never felt for anyone before.

Trevor’s scared, though. Not of dating a trans girl. Not of damaging his chaplain father’s career or reputation. After finally getting his friend back, does he dare take things further and risk losing her a second time?

My Review:
Trevor is a 16 y/o Navy brat on a base in Rota, Spain. He’s grown up moving every few years when his dad, Pastor Larson, a Protestant chaplain, gets reassigned. Sometimes he meets up with friends he’d made in DOD schools at other bases, and that’s the case in Rota. He’s lived there a few years now, and a few of his better pals from the Okinawa base are now in Rota, but not his very best friend Brad. Brad shipped out form Okinawa and dropped off the face of the earth, it seemed, because he wouldn’t respond to any of Trevor’s emails, IMs or texts. It’s been four years, and Trevor’s stunned to get an email from Brad saying he’s coming to Rota in a month, and he’s changed. A lot. Trevor wonders if that’s because Brad’s gay and bad things happened when he moved form Okinawa. Trevor’s determined to be good friend to Brad, no matter what.

Shannon is a transgender girl, who used to be Brad. It’s been a hard four years but she’s transitioned well, and feels good in her body for the first time, perhaps, ever. She’s had a lot of backlash in her personal life, though her parents completely support her, even if they all suspect her transition may have caused her dad not to make his promotion that past two years. Still, she’s being homeschooled, and trying to keep a low profile; unlikely in the small circle of families that make up overseas bases.

Trevor is stunned when he meets Shannon, and pretty angry she didn’t trust him enough to divulge her big secret before they met in person–or at any time in the past four years. His reaction isn’t excellent, but Shannon interprets his swift departure as a rejection of her new self, and that’s a stumbling block. Trevor does make it up to Shannon, and Shannon fits into their group of Okinawa friends without too much issue. There are some quakes in the personnel, however, and Shannon’s the center of some anti-trans sentiment that’s sweeping the base, including members of Pastor Larson’s congregation. It’s upsetting for all, but Trevor’s more confused about his changing feelings for Shannon. They shared a deep friendship as kids, and now when he thinks back, he doesn’t see “Brad” in those memories, he sees Shannon, and he’s not sure what to do with his growing attraction to her. What if they break up and become enemies, as some of his buddies have with their exes?

This book is told from Trevor’s and Shannon’s point-of-views and that’s really interesting. I liked how culturally-competent the characters’ inner thoughts, actions and dialogue are. These are kids who are have fought hard to maintain friendships, and they aren’t willing to toss Shannon aside because of her transition. In fact, all of Trev’s pals accept her wholeheartedly into their group, and their girlfriends invite Shannon on shopping trips and makeovers. The kids also stand up for Shannon when she’s accosted in public or put-down in conversations they overhear. Trevor’s mistakes with Shannon come from his own insecurity, and aren’t related to her transition.

The intimacy that develops between Trevor and Shannon is cautious and tender. Trevor just got his best friend back…he doesn’t want to mess things up by being a bad boyfriend. He’s never even dated a girl before; realistically he’s sure he’ll mess up and they’ll stop speaking again. Shannon’s never dated and she is insecure about her body, and how a partner would view her body. It leads to some discord between them, that has a good resolution in the end.

This is a YA read, so expect YA-levels of steam, and nothing more. That said, there are some unique experiences here due to Shannon’s physiology and that provokes some valid and frank discussion. I liked how sensitively that was handled, and the introspection both Trevor and Shannon demonstrate is valuable for people who have concerns about trans-persons and their relationships. Shannon didn’t expect to find a partner who could love her as she is, and has a reasonable fear of fetishization, though she doesn’t think Trevor sees her as a fetish. She’s also nervous that he’ll be unhappy with her physical state, and that’s an anxiety-triggering situation. Trevor’s more afraid of being a bad partner, given his lack of experience. It was really endearing and felt realistic. The military aspect of this story likewise felt well-informed, and I could absolutely see all the sights in Rota and nearby, just as Shannon did. Yet another locale to put on my travel bucket-list. Readers who enjoy teen romance, or trangender stories, will really enjoy this one. I know I did.

Interested? You can find HAVING HER BACK on Goodreads and Amazon US or UK.


Click on this Rafflecopter giveaway link for your chance to win a backlist book from LA Witt.
Good luck and keep reading my friends!

About the Author:
Ann Gallagher is the slightly more civilized alter ego of L.A. Witt, Lauren Gallagher, and Lori A. Witt. So she tells herself, anyway. When she isn’t wreaking havoc on Spain with her husband and trusty two-headed Brahma bull, she writes romances just like her wilder counterparts, but without all the heat. She is also far too mature to get involved in the petty battle between L.A. and Lauren, but she’s seriously going to get even with Lori for a certain incident that shall not be discussed publicly.

Visit her website, Facebook, and twitter.

Surviving in a BANE New World

Hi there! Today I’m sharing my review for Amelia Gormley’s BANE, out today. This is the next (and perhaps last) book in the Strain M/M romance, post-apocalyptic series. As you know I read and loved STRAIN and JUGGERNAUT, and those books must be read first in order to properly enjoy BANE.

Bane (Strain, #2)About the book:
The weapon that nearly destroyed humanity may be their only salvation.

Rhys Cooper’s unique immunity to all three strains of the virus that nearly annihilated humanity has brought him the unwanted attention of Clean Zone scientists. They’ve summoned him for testing—ostensibly in the hopes of finding a vaccine—but Rhys’s partner, Darius Murrell, has good reason not to trust any government. He and his comrades in Delta Company were unwitting test subjects for Project Juggernaut, the military experiment that gave them superhuman abilities and unleashed the pandemic. Doubting the government’s intentions, Delta Company refuses to let Rhys go alone.

Fear of infection has kept Zach Houtman and his lover Nico Fernández apart for a decade. They meet rarely, just long enough to coordinate their spying on the head of the government’s virus research division. Secretary Littlewood is a vicious predator, and they suspect he’s trying to acquire the strain of the virus that would make him superhuman. To stop him, they need the perfect bait: Rhys.

For Rhys, helping them might cost him his relationship with Darius—or his life. For Zach and Nico, even if their plan succeeds, they still face the ultimate question: can infected and uninfected people ever live together safely?

My review:
This is the third book in the STRAIN world and should absolutely be read after JUGGERNAUT and STRAIN. It picks up the story where both JUGGERNAUT and STRAIN left off, bringing their romantic pairs (Rhys and Darius from STRAIN and Zack and Nico from JUGGERNAUT) in direct contact to save what is left of the world.

This series of books is set approximately 100 years in the future after a military-developed supervirus decimated the population. People left on the planet? Estimates are in the ten thousands–the majority of them uninfected survivors living in small-to-large enclaves, the largest a settlement in Colorado Springs. The others are experimentally-treated soldiers, Jugs, who help comb the country to kill the lingering revenants–ravenous, Bane Gamma infected zombie-like persons.

Rhys is a survivor who is likely to be immune to all three strains of the Bane virus, and the scientists who remain in Colorado Springs want to test his blood and determine if a vaccine can be developed. Rhys’ partner, Darius, is a Jug who will not leave Rhys to the whims of the scientists. The Jugs are outcasts, and rather bitter about it, due to their lethal blood. He and several other jugs travel from the Seattle area to keep Rhys safe.

They encounter Zack in Colorado, as he is a health worker for the scientists–this meeting is scarring for Rhys who was the subject of abuse from Zack’s father and brother for nearly half his life. Over the course of testing, however, they build a rapport, and Zack confides in Rhys, Darius and the other Jugs about the disappearances in the compound, and how he knows that there are real scary things going down–likely due to the machinations of the sadistic Secretary Littlewood.

There are lots of political issues with the still developing society in Colorado, not least of which is a forced breeding program. Zack enlist Rhys’s cooperation to help discover the secret lab of Littlewood, and the chase–quite literally–is on.

If you were hoping Zack and Nico would work things out, they do, but it’s not pretty–for a long time. I just marveled at the deft plot twists and fantastic use of character in this book. I could honestly see and feel the scenes unfold. The love between Rhys and Darius is as harsh as their world, and it’s erotic and delicious, too. Expect extreme monogamy. Yay! Also, expect the Jugs to save the freaking day, yet again. I hate to say it, but this book is frighteningly on-point with contemporary issues (think: corporations buying up the natural park lands) and with the supramilitaristic response when faced with the viral outbreak.

Rhys was a child when the outbreak occurred, and his adult insight–as he travels past burned out hospitals and tenements where the infected were locked down and incinerated alive–is poignant. Darius’ constant love is engaging, Zack’s commitment to his purpose (to remain Bane Alpha-free) is as noble as it is frustrating. Nico has known for years that he could sexually transmit safety to Zack, but Zack feels called to remain unprotected. His faith has a surprising reward and gave me the ability to breathe again–after holding my breath so long in fear that Zack would become infected and turn revenant.

The series is phenomenal, and I cannot love it more.

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


Amelia C. Gormley may seem like anyone else. But the truth is she sings in the shower, dances doing laundry, and writes blisteringly hot m/m erotic romance while her son is at school. When she’s not writing in her Pacific Northwest home, Amelia single-handedly juggles her husband, her son, their home, and the obstacles of life by turning into an everyday superhero. And that, she supposes, is just like anyone else.

Her self-published novel-in-three-parts, Impulse (Inertia, Book One; Acceleration, Book Two; and Velocity, Book Three) can be found at most major ebook retailers, and be sure to check for her latest releases, including her Highland historical, The Laird’s Forbidden Lover, the The Professor’s Rule series of erotic novelettes (co-written with Heidi Belleau), and her upcoming post-apocalyptic romance, Strain.

You can contact Amelia on Twitter, Facebook, GoodReads.

Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends!

Caught in the Crossfire in TIME WAITS–A Review for Joyfully Jay

Hi there! Well, I’m feeling elated after yesterday’s big SCOTUS decision, and wanted to pass on my recent update via Joyfully Jay. This week, I shared my review for TIME WAITS, a fascinating near-future time-travel M/M romance recently released by a new author to me, CB Lewis, and Dreamspinner Press.

Time WaitsAbout the book:

Badly wounded and on the run from his WWII Hungarian brigade, Janos Nagy stumbles through a temporal gateway to the future. Suddenly stranded in Manchester, England, 2041, Janos wants answers about a crazy world he doesn’t recognize.

Dieter Schmidt, flamboyant historian/linguist for the Temporal Research Institution has those answers, but the TRI is a neutral entity, set up to verify historical events under a strict code of noninterference. That doesn’t stop Dieter from taking Janos under his protection. Trust doesn’t come easy to Janos, who came from a time when revealing his secrets could get him killed, but the two men slowly build a tentative friendship with a possibility for more. But Janos’s continued presence in the future and Dieter’s persistence raise questions about the limits of the noninterference policy.

Since the rules have been bent once, one agent sees no reason why he can’t push them further, and he travels back to 1914 to make a few changes of his own. Under Janos’s guidance, Dieter must leap back in time to stop the rogue agent from changing the past and risking everyone’s future—if he can survive history.

I really liked the idea of this book and felt like it was well-executed. The romance between Janos and Dieter is slow to build and develop. Each man experiences an attraction he feels is wrong—Janos due to ingrained homophobia and fear, Dieter because he feels like he’s taking advantage of a man trapped in time. Dieter and Janos were fantastic characters. They have a real chemistry that simmers. Dieter is required to retrieve his fellow time agent, and he’s intellectually prepared for a job that he is physically untrained to perform. He’s never BEEN on a mission, and his own mother was lost to a time incident, but Dieter is determined to do this right. It is heartbreaking for Janos to have to train him, both of them knowing that this time jump will likely separate them forever, even if Dieter is successful in his mission.

Check out my entire 4.25 star review on Joyfully Jay Reviews.
Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends.

Happy Book Birthday to Laura Kaye’s HARD TO COME BY–Review and Giveaway


Hi there! Today’s a big release. Best-selling contemporary romance author has unleashed her fourth book in the Hard Ink series. HARD TO COME BY brings veteran-amputee Marz together with an unlikely love interest…the sister of his adversary. This is an ADULT read.

Hard To Come By CoverAbout the book:

Caught between desire and loyalty…

Derek DiMarzio would do anything for the members of his disgraced Special Forces team—sacrifice his body, help a former teammate with a covert operation to restore their honor, and even go behind enemy lines. He just never expected to want the beautiful woman he found there.

When a sexy stranger asks questions about her brother, Emilie Garza is torn between loyalty to the brother she once idolized and fear of the war-changed man he’s become. Derek’s easy smile and quiet strength tempt Emilie to open up, igniting the desire between them and leading Derek to crave a woman he shouldn’t trust.

As the team’s investigation reveals how powerful their enemies are, Derek and Emilie must prove where their loyalties lie before hearts are broken and lives are lost. Because love is too hard to come by to let slip away…

How about an excerpt?

Marz was playing with fire. He damn well knew he was. But that didn’t make him want to pull away.

He just wanted more of the heat.

Marz nuzzled the side of Emilie’s face with his nose, his lips. She turned her face toward him and offered her lips. He couldn’t refuse.

Capturing her mouth on a tortured groan, Marz poured every ounce of his longing and confusion and desire into the kiss. They grasped at each other and Emilie turned in his arms. He pinned her against the railing and planted his hands in her hair. She opened to him and accepted his tongue, sucking him in until Marz’s blood ran hot and his hard-on ached. He ground himself against her and devoured every little moan and whimper and gasp she spilled.

Trailing kisses from her mouth to her jaw to her ear, Marz dragged a hand down her body and grasped her breast in his palm. She cried out and her head dropped back, drawing his mouth to her neck, where he licked and sucked and nipped as he kneaded her soft flesh. “You are so damn sexy.”

Her hand flew to his hair and grasped the back of his head. “Touch me,” she said. “Don’t stop touching me.”

Marz pulled away long enough to do a three-sixty scan. The lighthouse cast a dark shadow over them, and the pier was otherwise empty. His heart raced and his pulse hammered. He dove back in, trailing kisses down her neck to her collarbone, which he traced with his tongue. Her nails scratched deliciously at his scalp and her grip urged him down.

Through the thin material of her blouse and bra, he mouthed and flicked at her nipple. He shifted the deep vee of the neckline to reveal a lacy royal blue bra. He tongued her through the lace until she was panting and moaning and writhing against the railing.

“Oh, my God,” she rasped as he shifted her shirt and moved to her other breast. This time, he tugged the lace down to bare the deep pink of her nipple. She tasted and smelled like something fruity and sweet, and it made Marz hunger for more. “Derek,” she gasped. “Yes, yes, yes.”

My Review:
I really enjoyed this! Derek “Marz” DiMarzio has had a lot to overcome in his life. Abandoned at age five, he shuttled through the foster care system and then, into the army. It was there, within his Special Forces unit, that he found family–and all that got shot to Hell about a year ago, when his unit was ambushed, three of his comrades killed, and it came to light that his commanding officer was a drug-runner. Dishonored and disheartened, Marz also has to come to terms with the loss of Righty–his leg, blown off when a grenade landed nearby. His battle buddy, Bennett, still barely speaks to him–shocked from the impact and the knowledge that Marz push him from the blast.

Now the final five members of their squadron have come together to help clear their names, and undo the horrors set in motion by their deceased commander. The three previous books in this series centered on these wounded warriors finding love at the wrong time, and now it’s Marz’s turn.

Emilie Garza is a licensed psychologist, so she knows there’s something really wrong with her brother, Manny. Ever since he returned from Afghanistan he’s paranoid, and sullen, and liable to cause physical harm–and that’s just what she knows. What she doesn’t know is how deep Manny is into the heroin dealing Church gang. She wants Manny to get treatment for his PTSD–and he won’t–but his behavior is only becoming more erratic and more dangerous. How can she convince this man, the one who stepped up and became the father figure she needed when their own dad left, to get treatment?

Well, she’s gonna try her darnedest. In the meantime, she’s just met a man–Derek–and he’s so different from her cheating ex-husband! He’s kind, and thoughtful, and keeping really tight surveillance on Emilie because, well, Manny seems to be a kingpin in the conspiracy that killed his friends and disgraced his unit. Not that Emilie knows anything about the dark side of Manny’s life.

Bigger problem? Derek Marz is falling for Emilie. Hard. She’s a down-home, honest gal who turns all the knobs for Marz–a man starved for family, and affection.

I really appreciated how conflicted Marz is. He knows he’s taking advantage of this situation, and he hates himself for it–at the same time relishing in the first real connection he’s ever had with a woman. He’s a tremendously sympathetic character, working tirelessly to clear his name and to protect Emilie from the problems that surround Manny.

Emilie is a strong character, too. She’s steadfast and loving, her world is all about family and giving back. Her acceptance of his amputation is really heartwarming–and admirable. For Emilie, finding Derek seems too good to be true, and those fears are founded when she learns of his covert mission. He’s got a real battle on his hands to win her back–and keep her out of the crossfire. I’m glad this was an HEA, because I love when two good people find love, even if the road to happiness is littered with land mines.

Interested?  You can find HARD TO COME BY on Goodreads, Amazon,, Amazon UK,  B&N,  iTunes, and Kobo Purchase before December 2, and get awesome bonus content!

And don’t miss the other Hard Ink books, now available:

Hard As It Gets

Hard As You Can

Hard to Hold On To


Praise for Hard to Come By:

“Rough sex and explosive fights power Kaye’s fourth Hard Ink novel, a thrilling adventure that feels more like an action movie with a romantic subplot than a typical contemporary romance. New readers will head straight for Kaye’s backlist after powering through this installment.” ~Publishers Weekly Starred Review

“TOP PICK! If you’re looking for danger, gritty action, and sizzling passion, then Kaye has just the book and the series for you.” ~RT Book Reviews Magazine


Click the Rafflecopter link below for your chance to win

One of two signed copies of HARD TO COME BY or

one of FIVE Amazon or B&N $10 Gift Cards!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck and keep reading my friends!

Oh! Feel free to join the Facebook Release Party today at 12-9pm EST

Lots of Laura’s author friends will be celebrating and giving away books and swag.

LauraKayeAbout Laura Kaye:

Laura is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of over twenty books in contemporary and paranormal romance and romantic suspense. Growing up, Laura’s large extended family believed in the supernatural, and family lore involving angels, ghosts, and evil-eye curses cemented in Laura a life-long fascination with storytelling and all things paranormal. She lives in Maryland with her husband, two daughters, and cute-but-bad dog, and appreciates her view of the Chesapeake Bay every day.

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