Clashing Attraction in CONVENTIONALLY YOURS–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a contemporary M/M New Adult romance from Annabeth Albert. CONVENTIONALLY YOURS puts two competitive gamers on a cross-country trip to get on the Pro Tour, and they find out their longstanding tension has space for attraction and even…love.

About the book:
When two “big name fans” go head-to-head at a convention, love isn’t the only thing at stake.
Charming, charismatic, and effortlessly popular, Conrad Stewart seems to have it all…but in reality, he’s scrambling to keep his life from tumbling out of control.

Brilliant, guarded, and endlessly driven, Alden Roth may as well be the poster boy for perfection…but even he can’t help but feel a little broken inside.

When these mortal enemies are stuck together on a cross-country road trip to the biggest fan convention of their lives, their infamous rivalry takes a backseat as an unexpected connection is forged. Yet each has a reason why they have to win the upcoming Odyssey gaming tournament and neither is willing to let emotion get in the way―even if it means giving up their one chance at something truly magical.

My Review:
Conrad Stewart and and Alden Roth are both in their early 20s and regular competitors in the Odyssey card game YouTube program called “Gamer Grandpa”. The titular “Grandpa” is Professor Tuttle, a mathematics professor at Gracehaven College, where Conrad was a student and Alden is in a graduate program. The vlog is super popular and Prof Tuttle has gotten comped tickets to Massive Odyssey Con West (MOC-West) in Vegas for himself and the whole group of players that regularly appear in the vlog. Reactions are mixed for different reasons.

Conrad’s father cut him off financially when he was outed for being gay–and he’s working to stay in New Jersey and away from his homophobic father in Kansas. He’s living hand to mouth, and hardly has the money to pay for his asthma medications, let alone a trip to Vegas. But, if he’s out there and plays well he could get sponsorship to join the pro Odyssey tour, and then his money woes would be over. Not that he can afford to go…until Prof Tuttle suggests a week-long drive out to Vegas in Black Jack, his personal cruiser. He can’t drive alone and thought the team could help him, and stop at some game shops along the way to film pick-up games for the vlog and drop off some merch. When Conrad’s latest couch surfing experience disappears, he’s got nothing left to lose. He’s in.

Alden is deathly afraid of flying, so a cross-country drive is really the limit of his mobility. And, he’d like to be in charge. He’s neurodiverse, whatever that means–and I’m not being flip about it. Neurodiversity is a spectrum of neurological issues that can include anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive, and may weave into the autism spectrum. Each neurodiverse person is unique and needs a tailored care/management plan. For Alden’s case, he’s definitely rocking anxiety pretty hard, but there seems to be a touch of obsessive-compulsive and what had once been called Asperger’s. For years his moms took him to doctors for a diagnosis on his “issues” and this has left Alden feeling like he’s broken. Add to that, he can’t seem to make it into medical school despite his stellar grades. It’s hard for Alden to read context clues in facial, body or verbal cues. It’s why he seems so prissy to Conrad, who’s a bona fide charmer of all god’s creatures. Not sure where his life is truly headed, Alden volunteers to ride along to MOC-West. He can’t let Conrad with the big tourney, after all.

Two other of the vlog team are preparing for the trip, Payton, who’s flying out to Vegas, and Jasper, who will also join the road trip. And, catastrophe strikes. Prof Tuttle needs to stay back for medical treatment, but he urges Conrad, Jasper and Alden to take Black Jack and gas money to make the trip as planned. And then Jasper’s family emergency leaves Alden and Conrad in the car together. They have an animosity on the vlog that translates into real life. Alden is jealous of Conrad’s easy going nature, feeling Conrad embodies all the qualities that his moms had never found in himself. Conrad just thinks Alden is an insensitive, controlling jerk, not really getting that Alden’s lack of inflections and emotional struggles are an issue he can’t truly control.

Long hours together bring reality to the forefront: these young men have a lot of trauma to deal with, and they do so through small and halting conversations, at first. Their experiences on the road cause them to share more and more of their personal demons with one another, and the long nights in shared hotel rooms lead to even more intimate moments. Conrad is drawn to Alden’s fragile-seeming frame and elfin good looks, while Alden’s always coveted Conrad’s affability and experience. I really liked these guys, who are both sympathetic from the beginning. They both want to win the MOC-West tournament, and they are in excellent position to do so. Once they start falling for one another, however, life gets real complicated, real quick.

I’m not going to say more about the plot except to say that the tournament is handled deftly, and I felt like I could have been there watching. The gaming aspects of the book are easily enjoyed even by an old lady like me who never did get into these sort of games. There is such a great description of the Odyssey community, I couldn’t help but be swept away in the fervor of it all. I’m a huge fan of road trips, and I was grateful for the vicarious exploration I got while reading this book under Illinois’ ‘do not travel order’. I fell in love watching Alden and Conrad support one another, first as friends and later as lovers. There really is NOT a lot of sexytimes in this book, but the emotions are off the charts. I highly recommend!

Interested? You can find CONVENTIONALLY YOURS on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple Books, and Kobo.

About the Author:
Annabeth Albert grew up sneaking romance novels under the bed covers. Now, she devours all subgenres of romance out in the open—no flashlights required! When she’s not adding to her keeper shelf, she’s a multi-published Pacific Northwest romance writer.

Emotionally complex, sexy, and funny stories are her favorites both to read and to write. Annabeth loves finding happy endings for a variety of pairings and is a passionate gay rights supporter. In between searching out dark heroes to redeem, she works a rewarding day job and wrangles two children.

Find Annabeth online on her website, Goodreads, twitter and Facebook.

Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!

Figuring Out That SCARLET GAZE–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a contemporary YA M/M romance with magical elements from Foster Bridget Cassidy. SCARLET GAZE features a boy following a cryptic vision to a college where he’s astounded to learn he can wield magic. If only he can use it to save his boyfriend…

About the book:
After a paranormal encounter in his youth with someone from his future, Collin Frey sets his sights on getting to Marke Staple University. Now eighteen and with a full scholarship to the prestigious university, Collin hopes to find an explanation to that life-changing event. Unfortunately, it only leads to more questions.

Finding out he’s there to study magic is the first surprise. The second is his roommate, Terrence, looks identical to the person who started him on the path to Marke Staple.

Collin’s more than willing to sell his soul to get closer to Terrence and uncover all the secrets hidden there. Can knowing a man will change after making a horrible mistake ease the pain of betrayal? Collin is going to find out.

My Review:
Collin Frey has an encounter at the age of 11 or 12 that determines his life path going forward. While on a skiing trip with his family, Collin meets a sobbing man with shining red eyes he doesn’t know, yet who seems to know Collin intimately. This man begs Collin’s forgiveness, and has a gold coin minted with Collin’s name and face on it’s front and “Marke Staple University” on the reverse. He cannot forget the pain in that man’s scarlet gaze, and it drives Collin not only to discover this tiny, private, British university, but to study his booty off and get a full scholarship.

Collin’s also one of only five first year students admitted to the prestigious literature program at Marke Staple. Every student not in the literature program is a business major, like Collin’s roommate, Terrence, who IS the man from Collin’s youthful vision. He’s not sure if he should tell Terrance of their meeting years ago, or if Terrence will think he’s insane. Terrence doesn’t have shining red eyes, and he’s avid about getting to know–and maybe shag–Collin. Terrence is also the son of Collin’s Dean of students–and Collin soon learns that all the literature students and teachers possess magic–including himself. Most of the students in the business program are rudimentary practitioners, but Terrence has a lot of innate talent. He was banished from using his magic years before when he tried to summon a demon in a fit of pique. When a practitioner allies with a demon, their vision goes red–so Collin knows this must be what happens before Terrence goes back in time to meet his child-self.

Collin doesn’t know how to manage the magical world, but the instructors are very sympathetic. His cohort are nice enough, though they wonder how Collin got admitted without knowing he was magically-talented. Collin’s mission is now two-fold. To keep Terrence from making whatever mistake leaves him demon-possessed, and to figure out his talent in magic. Meanwhile, he’s falling steadily for Terrence, who’s bravado is all subterfuge to hide the pain of his youth, his estrangement from his father and his deep longing for connection. And…a little bit of delusions of grandeur. Collin’s talent seems to be in teleportation, a rare gift, and he’s wondering if he can teleport both space and time. He practices the space dimension, using the newly minted pure-gold coins that help practitioners harness and focus their magical abilities. He isn’t allowed to, but he takes Terrence on his teleporting forays. He even teaches Terrence how to teleport, and helps Terrence research how to seek the help of a demon, hoping that he can convince Terrence it’s the worst possible idea. He give Terrence all the rope he needs to hang himself, praying that he will use it to climb back from the abyss he’s manifesting.

This is an interesting romance, with lots of fantastic magical elements. Some of it felt a little convenient, and I wondered if Collin was simply the most gullible man in Great Britain the way he gave all his secrets away. His faith in Terence is almost unbelievable, but I think the most interesting piece of all of this was the connections that Collin made with his cohort and professors–people who wanted to help him save Terrence from himself and his unyielding ambition. There’s a decent amount of family drama, too, with all these high-flying magical teens having very prestigious families and uber high expectations. The way they all leaned on one another was fresh and engaging. For me, I was entertained, and enjoyed how the magical elements worked. I’m a big fan of Harry Potter, so this one scratched that M/M romance + magic + college life itch. It has a little bit of sexytimes, but not overwhelming for an upper YA/New Adult read.

Interested? You can find SCARLET GAZE on Goodreads, NineStar Press, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple Books and Kobo. I read a review copy via NetGalley.

About the Author:
FOSTER BRIDGET CASSIDY is a rare, native Phoenician who enjoys hot desert air and likes to wear jackets in summer. She has wanted to be a fiction writer since becoming addicted to epic fantasy during high school. Since then, she’s studied the craft academically—at Arizona State University—and as a hobby—attending conventions and workshops around the country. A million ideas float in her head, but it seems like there’s never enough time to get them all down on paper.

Her main support comes from her husband, who reminds her to laugh. Mostly at herself. Their partnership may be difficult to grasp when viewed from the outside, but seen from the inside they are a perfect match. He’s helped her though surgeries and sicknesses and is always willing to wash her hair when she can’t do it on her own.

Their children have four legs and fur and will bite them on occasion. One snores loudly.

For fun, Foster likes to take pictures of her dachshunds, sew costumes for her dachshunds, snuggle her dachshunds, and bake treats for her dachshunds. In exchange for so much love and devotion, they pee vast amounts on the floor, click their nails loudly on the tile, and bark wildly at anything that moves outside. Somehow, this relationship works for all involved.

While not writing, Foster can usually be found playing a video game or watching a movie with her husband. While not doing any of those things, Foster can usually be found in bed, asleep.

You can find Foster online on her website, Facebook, and twitter.

Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!

Odd Couple Hysteria: PISCES HOOKS TAURUS-A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a Throwback Thursday review for a sweet New Adult M/M contemporary romance from Anyta Sunday. PISCES HOOKS TAURUS is the fourth book in her Signs of Love series. I really enjoyed LEO LOVES ARIES and SCORPIO HATES VIRGO, so I dove into this one.

About the book:
It’s a time for searching, and a time for finding, Pisces: keep casting your line and you will hook what you’re looking for.

Zane has it all planned out: land the perfect Meet Cute, fall in love, and live happily ever after.
Should be simple enough if he put his mind to it. A little creativity and some thinking outside of the box, and voila, he’d be married to the woman of his dreams.
It would be perfect.
And it would be before his visa ran out.

But why are his feelings running wild now that the pressure’s on? Why is his picture-perfect plan turning into a muddled mess of morphed metaphors he can’t make sense of anymore?

Just as well he’s met an English professor to help. And even though their first meet is anything but cute, this down-to-earth teacher may just be the realist Zane needs to ground him and give him a shot at love after all.

Don’t cast your line too wide, Pisces. Your perfect catch may already have bitten.

My Review:
This is the fourth book in a series, but easily enjoyed on it’s own.

Zane is a 23 year old New Zealander looking to extend his US travel visa…indefinitely. Through marriage. See, his elder brother Jacob is married to an American girl, and their first child is just being born. Zane has felt most-closely connected to Jacob and he wants to remain in the US to be the doting uncle his newborn niece will need. It’s not like Zane has a steady job, or even a college education–like his brothers. Nope, Zane is a secondary school drop-out and is living off a bit of inheritance while drawing panels for a comic series. Zane definitely seems to admire smart people, even as he accpets that he–himself–will never be counted among them.

Couch surfing in the area of his brother’s home turns into a bit of a tough prospect as he’s summarily shut out of the place he’d been crashing in favor of a renter’s relative. He leans a bit on Jacob’s social circle and is put in touch with Becky–whom Zane quite wishes to woo for lodgings to last at least until he finds a suitable marriage prospect, or has to return to New Zealand at the end of the month. Zane is big on the wooing, since he also wants to find a woman to marry him. Perhaps Becky could be the one for him!!

And, that’s yet another of Zane’s misunderstandings in life. Because Becky is a tender nickmane his sister-in-law gave her dearest childhood friend: Beckett Fisher, college literature professor, and out gay man. Beckett is indeed a savior, of sorts, lending a futon in his attic to Zane for a week–just until his own sister arrives. THen Zane will have to move on–unless he can convince Beckett to share his own bed with him.

It’s not as sordid as it sounds, in truth. Zane is a happy-go-lucky Pisces, charming all and sundry, except the women he hopes might fall madly and deeply for him. Beckett is a wounded Taurus, whose marriage to a beautiful young man–Luke–dissolved rather shortly after it began. And, he’s been celibate for going on five years now as a result. Zane is captivated by Beckett in a platonic Bromantic way–and wants to help heal the pain of Beckett’s divorce. He’s also blown away by how intelligent and kind Beckett is, not to mention handsome; at their first meeting, Zane assumed Beckett was a cougar’s model boytoy. Oh the laughs when he learned they were mother and son…

Zane does manage to convince Beckett not to toss him out once his flighty sister arrives–and Zane is a mite oblivious to Beckett’s rising tension regarding dates and connecting with Beckett’s beautiful sister. But, Zane is laser focused on helping BEckett out of his slump–and it takes a few weeks before Zane recognizes that his bromantic feelings may not be completely platonic after all. In fact, they might be downright romantic.

This is a sweet, odd couple slow burn romance with an innocently oblivious man–Zane–awakening to his newly bicurious side. Beckett is as stalwart as he can be, but the attraction for him began from the meet-cute, much to his chagrin. Beckett has spent years telling himself that love is a sham, and he’ll never marry again, and he’s hooked by Zane’s odd and sometimes goofy gestures of connection. They both enjoy a quieter pace of life, and their habits of life dovetail well, with Beckett being reserved, but generous and Zane being gregarious, yet easily intimidated by intellect. I liked how they built a cooperative friendship before anything physical happened. Also, it was important that Zane made the first moves, because Beckett wasn’t able–not with giving up on love. And certainly not falling for a straight man! There are a couple of fun side characters, Darla, Beckett’s elderly neighbor who makes the horoscope predictions that keep Zane on the hunt for his love, and Beckett’s oldest friend–a big buff man Zane calls “Books for Breakfast”–because he’s so intelligent and intimidating, and whom Zane mistakes for having a crush on his Beckett.

With the growth of their friendship, Beckett and Zane both lower their defenses, and Zane does manage to charm Beckett. But the return ticket date is quickly approaching, and Beckett won’t be down for a quickie wedding. It’s a good thing that life is long, and a decision quickly made can portend a whole lifetime of happiness. They take the time to make the best, and right, choices for one another, even if it means temporary separation. The Pisces did hook the Taurus, folks, and they lived happily ever after.

Interested? You can find PISCES HOOKS TAURUS on Goodreads and Amazon. I received a review copy via NetGalley.

About Anyta Sunday: (in her own words…)
A bit about me: I’m a big, BIG fan of slow-burn romances. I love to read and write stories with characters who slowly fall in love.

Some of my favorite tropes to read and write are: Enemies to Lovers, Friends to Lovers, Clueless Guys, GFY/OFY, Bisexual, Pansexual, Demisexual, Oblivious MCs, Everyone (Else) Can See It, Slow Burn, Love Has No Boundaries.

I write a variety of stories, Contemporary MM Romances with a good dollop of angst, Contemporary lighthearted MM Romances, and even a splash of fantasy.

If you’d like to check out more of my stories, check out my website, Facebook and twitter.

Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!

OUT IN THE OFFENSE–Now Available in Audiobook! Review and Giveaway

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a new audiobook of a New Adult M/M romance from Lane Hayes. Y’all know I totally loved OUT IN THE DEEP END and OUT IN THE OFFENSE, but the audiobook was spectacular!

Scroll down for an excerpt and to enter the giveaway.
About the book:
Christian Rafferty is a talented quarterback with a big secret. He’s determined to make the most of his final season on the football field, and if possible, avoid any confrontations with his conservative parents about his future. It shouldn’t be difficult; he’s become adept at keeping his public and private lives separate. However, when a math class threatens to derail his plans to graduate on time, he realizes he may need outside help.

Rory Kirkland has a reputation for being a tough guy. He’s a former wrestler and recent college graduate who needs a real job. Until he finds one, tutoring is a decent temporary gig. Luckily, his brain is his biggest asset. Rory is a genius. He credits his sport for helping him deal with angst and rumors about his sexuality when he was younger, but he doesn’t care what others think anymore. He likes his new status as an out and proud bi man; and he recognizes something of himself in Christian. But Rory didn’t count on falling for him. When an unlikely friendship collides with intense attraction, both men begin to realize that coming out on offense just might be the surest path to love.

How about a yummy taste?

“Can I do anything to help?” I asked, setting my backpack on one of the two barstools at the narrow counter space.
“Nope. As soon as the veggies are sautéed, we’ll be ready to eat. Want something to drink?”
“Yes, please. Water is fine. Where’s Buttons?”
Rory pulled a water bottle from the small fridge behind him and handed it over, then pointed at a basket next to the sofa.
“She’s hiding behind that basket. She’ll make an appearance if she decides you’re worthy. In the meantime, there’s bread in that basket on the counter next to your bag. Help yourself. I’ll bring dinner out.”
I thanked him, then twisted the cap from the water bottle and took a generous sip before rounding the corner in search of the bread. I was ravenous. I bit into the baguette with gusto before turning to check out my surroundings.
Rory’s apartment was tiny. Probably half the size of mine and much older. But unlike the rough exterior, it was…pleasant. Surprisingly so. A short wall delineated the narrow kitchen from the main living area. There was just enough room for a sofa, an ottoman, a TV console, and a smallish television. Two barstools were tucked under the small peninsula by the cut-out in the kitchen wall. The palette was basic “dude”…dark leather against stark white walls, though a large red throw rug anchored the room and provided a nice splash of color. It was simple—but tidy and very clean.
“Your place is cool,” I commented when he entered the room, carrying two plates and a large bowl.
“Thanks. Let’s sit on the sofa. We have more room to eat there,” he said decisively as he set his burden on the coffee table. “Help yourself. I’ll get some forks, napkins, and extra veggies.”
I obeyed and quickly got to work, scooping chicken fettucine Alfredo onto both plates. Rory joined me a minute later, handing over the silverware before taking a seat next to me. I shot a bashful sideways glance at him as I reached for a napkin.
“Do you eat like this every night?”
“It’s really nothing special. I make sauces in bulk and freeze them. Then it’s just a matter of adding protein and veggies. By the way, this Alfredo is a healthy version. If you want to drown it in parmesan, feel free. I won’t be offended. Cheers.” He tapped his water bottle against mine and winked.
“Cheers. And thanks again. This is incredible and very unexpected.” I smiled as I twisted the pasta around my fork.
“You’re welcome. You sounded anxious, but you said we’re cool. Are we?”
“Of course.”
Rory tilted his head and shot me a challenging look. “Then kiss me.”
“Um…now?”
“Yeah, now. The other night could have been a fluke. Instead of wondering, let’s get it over with. One kiss should be enough to tell. C’mere,” he commanded, leaning sideways.
I set my fork down and met him halfway until our noses brushed. Then I waited for him to make the next move. He stayed stubbornly still. When I couldn’t stand the growing tension, I pressed my lips to his. And wow…amazing.
Rory was a great kisser. He had the simple art of give-and-take down to a science. He molded his mouth to mine and gently pushed his tongue inside. The connection was sweet but bold. It was more about discovery than possession. I hummed as I snaked my arm around his neck, pulling him closer. He sucked my tongue, then bit my bottom lip playfully before pulling back.
“Definitely not a fluke,” he said with a devilish grin.

My Review:
I just reviewed the actual book last week, so I’m going to sum it up and discuss why I liked the audiobook.

Christian Rafferty is a college football player in need of a tutor for statistics. His coach recommends Rory, a math whiz and recent college grad who fills his time doing odd tutoring and personal training. Rory is an out and proud bisexual after his closeted status lost him the love of a good man. e gets a vibe off Christian that he’s not too shy to pursue. Christian won’t resist Rory–that former wrestler is too sexy–but he’s not sure if he should come out. His teammate Evan did the season before, and Christian’s conservative parents weren’t best pleased.

Michael Pauley does the audio and he really made me feel like I was in the mix. Whoo boys! His gritty voice really suited both Rory and Christian’s masculine characters. I was not disappointed with all the yummy sexytimes in stereo. The audiobook runs about 5.5 hours, and I felt the pacing was spot on, with great accent in all the right places. Hearing Christian’s uncertainty and frustration with his meddling father was just as easy as hearing his vulnerability meeting and falling for Rory. Rory felt a little flat in the book, but he really came to life in the audio, which I liked. He seems like a better guy than the impression we had in the previous story. He’s grown up and found himself, and that was fun to experience.

If you like audiobooks, I’d recommend any of the ones in this series. They aren’t too long, and they have some great characters finding sexy lovers to satisfy them.

Interested? You can find OUT IN THE OFFENSE on Goodreads and Amazon and Audible.

You can also pick up the first two books in this series, too!
OUT IN THE DEEP is available on Goodreads, Amazon ebook, and Audible (audiobook).

OUT IN THE END ZONE is available on Goodreads, Amazon and Audible.

****GIVEAWAY****

Click on this Rafflecopter giveaway link for your chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card!
Good luck and keep reading my friends!

About the Author:
Lane Hayes is grateful to finally be doing what she loves best. Writing full-time! It’s no secret Lane loves a good romance novel. An avid reader from an early age, she has always been drawn to well-told love story with beautifully written characters. These days she prefers the leading roles to both be men. Lane discovered the M/M genre a few years ago and was instantly hooked. Her debut novel was a 2013 Rainbow Award finalist and subsequent books have received Honorable Mentions, and won First Prize in the 2016 and 2017 Rainbow Awards. She loves red wine, chocolate and travel (in no particular order). Lane lives in Southern California with her amazing husband in a newly empty nest.

You can reach out to Lane on her website, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Amazon.

About the Narrator:
Michael has well over 50 audio book titles currently available for purchase on Audible.com. He is versed in multiple styles and genres including fiction (novels and short stories) ranging from romance to science fiction to crime dramas to thrillers; business strategy books; health and wellness books; and even an occasional children’s book.
Fans of Michael’s narration are welcome to follow him on social media including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and SoundCloud.

If you are interested in working with Michael to produce your next audio book, you can contact him directly at voice@michaelpauley.info

Catch up with Michael on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and SoundCloud.

Cephalopod Coffeehouse February 2018–Bringing the HEAT

0ed81-coffeehouseHi there! Welcome one and all to the Cephalopod Coffeehouse, a cozy gathering of book lovers, meeting to discuss their thoughts regarding the tomes they enjoyed most over the previous month. Pull up a chair, order your cappuccino and join in the fun.

This month I’m sharing a review for a newly published dragon-shifter romance from Donna Grant. HEAT is the 12th book in her Dark Kings series, and really best enjoyed when read in order. I’ve liked SMOKE AND FIRE, FIRESTORM, BLAZE, and DRAGON BURN, and–being a series junkie–I’m eager to see how this all turns out.

About the book:
Nikolai is a dragon shapeshifter who knows well the meaning of loss. Orphaned and raised to be a Dragon King, he never accepts defeat. Now, Nikolai prefers his solitude . . .until a beautiful, irresistible woman calls upon him for help—and Nikolai’s whole world goes up in flames.

Ever since MI5 agent Esther woke to discover her mind taken over with magic, she feels like stranger to herself. She looks to a notorious dragon, one who has the power to help her find her memory. But as she and Nikolai come closer to discovering what really happened to her, a dangerous passion ignites between them. Can this lone Dragon King help the woman he’s grown to love to uncover the truth about her past—or will a deep and fiery danger tear them both apart?

My Review:
This is the 12th book in a series and best enjoyed when you’ve read several of the more recent releases, I think.

To sum up, Dragon Kings are fighting a battle for survival in modern times. They have the ability to shift from human to dragon form, and once ruled the earth, but went into hiding to prevent annihilation from the primitive humans who populated the lands. This decision created a huge rift in the community, and a war ensued. Constantine, the kink of all kings banished Ulrik, another dragon king, for inciting the war.

Nikolai was raised by Ulrik, and he’s always felt it was a deep betrayal to fight against Ulrik to protect humanity. He’s long had issues with his decision, and he wants to make peace with Ulrik. It’s a dangerous time, however, with Light and Dark Fae having devious plots, and a rogue dragon trying to destroy Ulrik, Constantine and the rest of the dragons to assume supreme power over earth and humanity.

Esther is a former MI5 agent whose brother has worked to keep the dragon’s identities secret from society. Esther got tangled up in the midst, having her mind controlled by a powerful Druid. She’s desperate to learn what happened in the three weeks that are missing from her memories. Nicolai has a special gift of sight–he can pluck images from people’s consciousness, even if they can’t remember. He and Esther head to Dublin to trace her paths and see if any patterns develop. In the thick of this they admit they have a ton of chemistry, and are likely to be fated mates.

I’ve really enjoyed the series, and this book in particular is really good. There is convergence between several plotlines at this point so that we can see the impending conflict. Many of the characters have found love, but Con and Ulrik are still single. So I’m expecting some page time to them finding love, as well as defeating the threats from Fae and others. The love story was slower to unfold than I had expected considering Esther and Nikolai have had some close encounters before they set out on their mission. I did love how some of the mystery surrounding the Druid has been cleared up, and it’s clear that most of our “bad guys” aren’t what they seemed to be, at first. Happy endings abound, and the end is clearly near. Looking forward to the next book!

Interested? You can find HEAT on Goodreads and Amazon.

donna_grant_newAbout the Author:
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Donna Grant has been praised for her “totally addictive” and “unique and sensual” stories. Her latest acclaimed series, Dark Kings, features a thrilling combination of dragons, Fae, and immortal Highlanders who are dark, dangerous, and irresistible. She lives with her two children and an assortment of animals in Texas.

Catch up with Donna on her website, Facebook, twitter, Goodreads, Pinterest, Tumblr, Audible, and Tantor.

Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends! Be sure to check out my fellow Coffeehouse reviewers and their fave books of the month below…


Enemies to Lovers: SCORPIO HATES VIRGO-A Review

Hi there! Today I’m kicking off Enemies to Lovers Week with a review for a sweet New Adult M/M contemporary romance from Anyta Sunday. SCORPIO HATES VIRGO is the sequel to LEO LOVES ARIES, but can be enjoyed on it’s own. A grieving young man endeavors to sell his late-aunt’s home and start over fresh where the memories of her love won’t haunt him. Especially important is leaving behind his childhood nemesis/crush but the well-meaning neighbors, and their paired horoscopes, seem to get in the way. It’s a sweet slow burn, and I really enjoyed it.

About the book:
This year is all about healing the heart, Scorpio. It’s time to leave negative attitudes and stoic facades at the door and let others see the real, more vulnerable you.

Percy Freedman is not grieving. Absolutely not, take that back at once. No, he’s entirely sure that selling his dead aunt’s home and leaving the neighbors he’s known for years is the sane thing to do. Who in their right mind would keep the house that smells like all the hugs he’ll never have again?

Nobody, that’s who.

Well, except his cul-de-sac neighbors. They all seem to think some paint and new furniture will clean the emotional slate. They all want him to stay.

Even his nemesis, Callaghan Glover.

Especially his nemesis, Callaghan Glover.

Lured into a game of Sherlock Gnomes, Percy finds himself hanging out with his neighbors more than might be considered healthy. Along with juggling new and surprising verbal grenades from Cal, and his burgeoning friendship with Gnomber9, Percy is starting to wonder if selling might have been the grief talking after all . . .

That’s right, Scorpio. With a little patience, heartbreak might be a thing of the past . . .

* ~* ~* ~*

“Scorpio Hates Virgo” contains sarcasm, sexual content, a slightly sappy HEA, and an unhealthy obsession with dinosaurs.
It can be read as a standalone.

My Review:
Percy’s dear Aunt Abby had died about six months ago, she left him her home–the home where he was raised after his parents made no secret of wanting him gone when he came out in his teens. It’s a bit run-down, but still got great bones and a close-knit cul-de-sac community of neighbors who keep tabs on everyone, plan fun get-togethers, and lend a hand when needed. They were among the chief mourners at Abby’s wake, and though Percy knows they truly care for him too, he wants to sell the house and move away. He’s recently broken up with another boyfriend–who thinks he’s not family material–and he just wants to start over.

But, Callaghan Glover, neighbor and long-time nemesis is becoming a constant presence in his life. Cal should be at school, finishing his masters in paleontology, but he took a break and came home to help care for his pregnant mother and two younger sisters now that his dad had an existential crisis and moved out. Percy has always harbored a secret crush on Cal, but he knows it’s pointless, because Cal’s straight. Still, both of these guys need a solid friend, and their verbal sparring moves from waspish to bantering, confusing Percy more. Add to this, the cul-de-sac community is playing a “Sherlock Gnomes” game where they secretly leave treats or take on chores for their fellow Gnomers–all while trying to determine which neighbor is operating under which Gnome name. And Cal’s mother makes Percy a standing invitation to share their dinners so he doesn’t have to eat alone.

The community that Percy feels, even as he’s sorely missing his aunt, gives him the strength to reach out for what he wants–to build a lasting relationship. It takes a LOOOONG time, but Percy realizes that one of the Gnomes he’s been chatting with (and pouring out his soul a bit to) isn’t the person he expected, and that Cal may have been tipped off about Percy’s attraction. Percy is, meanwhile, building stronger roots of his own, developing a clientele of folks in their community for his massage therapist gig. Including Cal who’s hurting his back entertaining his young sister with dinosaur antics. I liked how Percy and Cal took things slow, it’s a tricky business going from enemies to friends to lovers. Cal’s own need, as a Virgo and a demipansexual, is to build a strong emotional connection before he can get physical, adds to that slow burn. Meanwhile, Percy’s hide-behind-the-sarcasm Scorpio ways makes getting close a challenge. Their love may not have been written in the stars, but it certainly burned bright enough to make Percy recognize his place in life was the one he tried to run from.

Fun and creative, I enjoyed this one.

Interested? You can find SCORPIO HATES VIRGO on Goodreads and Amazon. I received a review copy via NetGalley.

About Anyta Sunday: (in her own words…)
A bit about me: I’m a big, BIG fan of slow-burn romances. I love to read and write stories with characters who slowly fall in love.

Some of my favorite tropes to read and write are: Enemies to Lovers, Friends to Lovers, Clueless Guys, GFY/OFY, Bisexual, Pansexual, Demisexual, Oblivious MCs, Everyone (Else) Can See It, Slow Burn, Love Has No Boundaries.

I write a variety of stories, Contemporary MM Romances with a good dollop of angst, Contemporary lighthearted MM Romances, and even a splash of fantasy.

If you’d like to check out more of my stories, check out my website, Facebook and twitter.

Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!

Mazel Tov! EIGHT NIGHTS IN DECEMBER is Here! Review and Giveaway!

Hi there! Today, I’m sharing a review for a new Hanukkah M/M romance from author Keira Andrews. I just reviewed IN CASE OF EMERGENCY but I couldn’t resist a Hanukkah romance. EIGHT NIGHTS IN DECEMBER pairs a shy virgin with his brash roommate’s “geeky” younger brother. We celebrate both Hanukkah and Christmas in my bi-faith family, and I could almost taste the latkes and sufganiyot as I devoured this New Adult romance.

Scroll down to read my review and enter to win a backlist book for Keira Andrews in the giveaway!
About the book:
A geek. A virgin. One sexy holiday.
Orphaned Lucas figures spending the holidays with his obnoxious roommate’s family in New York City is better than staying alone on campus upstate. He ends up sharing a room again, this time with his roommate’s brother, Nate. Geeky photographer Nate isn’t at all what Lucas expects. In fact, he’s incredibly sexy—especially when he invites Lucas into his darkroom…

They hide their attraction during Hanukkah celebrations, but behind closed doors, Lucas and Nate can’t keep their hands (or mouths) off each other. Nate’s only looking for a bit of holiday fun, and amazing sex with a hot virgin definitely fits the bill. Yet as the candles burn, Nate and Lucas begin to realize eight nights will never be enough.

This gay holiday romance from Keira Andrews features secret trysts, new adult angst, spinning the dreidel, and of course a happy ending.

My Review:
Lucas is a 20-year old college freshman after spending his last two years assisting his father through terminal cancer. HE showed up to his college late in the term, and got roomed with a party-hard senior, Sam Kramer. Lucas really wants to make some friends, but he’s shy, and especially lonely now that his father–who he was very close to–has passed. His mother died when he was a child. Hearing that Lucas is planning to spend his holiday season alone in the dorms, Sam’s mother insists that Lucas join their family for the break–which begins with the first night of Hanukkah that evening.

Caught up in the whirlwind Kramer family, Lucas tries to adjust to rooming with Sam’s younger, “geeky” brother. With Sam being a gregarious athletic person, he dramatically outshines Nate–on the surface. But Lucas isn’t attracted to brash Sam the way he is to broody Nate. And, it makes Lucas all the more uncomfortable as he tries to fit in. So, he’s really caught off guard when Nate reveals that he’s down for some sexy fun…if Lucas wants to keep that on the super down-low; Nate isn’t out to his parents.

Lucas has never been with a man, though he knows that’s where his attractions lay. He’d come out to his father before the end, and he’s sad that Nate won’t be honest with his own family, which clearly loves him. That said, Lucas is eager to find some comfort with Nate, who is a passionate man behind his cool facade. And, well, it’s hard for Lucas to be free-and-easy the way Nate seems to be. Nate insists it’s just going to be a holiday fling, but they each need shelter, Lucas from his grief and Nate from his feelings of inadequacy. While Nate has no plans to come out, his family is ready for that eventuality. What begins as a temporary tryst of convenience grows into a sweet and tender romance made to last. I really enjoyed it, and loved being along for the ride with Lucas as he learns all the many, many ways he and Nate can find pleasure with each other. Talk about steamy! A delightful Hanukkah novella.

Interested? You can find EIGHT NIGHTS IN DECEMBER on Goodreads and Amazon (US and UK).

****GIVEAWAY****

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

Keira AndrewsAbout the Author:
After writing for years yet never really finding the right inspiration, Keira discovered her voice in gay romance, which has become a passion. She writes contemporary, historical, paranormal and fantasy fiction, and—although she loves delicious angst along the way—Keira firmly believes in happy endings. For as Oscar Wilde once said, “The good ended happily, and the bad unhappily. That is what fiction means.”

You can catch up with Keira on her website, Facebook, twitter, and Goodreads.

Young Love DESPERATELY SEEKING SANTA–Review and Giveaway!

Hi there! Today I’m so excited to share a review for a new Christmas M/M romance from Eli Easton. I totally loved MERRY CHRISTMAS MR. MIGGLES last year, and I dove right into DESPERATELY SEEKING SANTA, a sweet New Adult romance between an investigative journalism student and the not-so-out heavyweight wrestler at his university.

Also, don’t miss the MERRY CHRISTMAS MR. MIGGLES book giveaway below!
About the book: Journalism student Gabe Martin gets his first professional assignment—to write about a Christmas charity dinner that benefits a children’s home. It sounds like a total snooze-fest until Gabe learns that the event’s Santa is a mystery man. He shows up in costume and no one has a clue who he is. Uncovering Santa’s identity sounds like the perfect angle to turn a fluff piece into serious journalism.

Mack “The Mountain” McDonall, at 6’10”, is University of Wisconsin-Madison’s enormous star wrestler. When Gabe first claps eyes on him at a wrestling match, it’s lust at first sight. Gabe’s friend, Jordan, sets up the pair on a date. But when Gabe chatters on about his plans for outing Santa, Mack goes cold, and their first meeting becomes an epic fail.

As Gabe researches the children’s home, he learns that Mack has secrets a guy famous for being a brute wouldn’t want the world to know. Can Gabe find his holiday spirit, write a killer article, win the heart of a surly giant, and give everyone a very merry Christmas?

My Review:
Gabe Martin is a journalism student at Univ of Wisconsin-Madison and working on his senior project: an investigative piece. He’s also an intern for the local paper where he writes weather and stock updates. Boring! His first actual article is a story on the Elks Club Christmas dinner, which is a fundraiser for a small orphanage in town. Gabe digs in with his usual zest, praying he can find some shady side of this so-called “feel good” piece that can become part of his project. He thinks he might have an angle when he learns that the identity of the beloved Santa who brings gifts to the orphans is a mystery.

In the meantime, Gabe attends a wrestling meet with his best pal Jordan–who is there to sheer on his boyfriend, an openly bisexual team member. Gabe’s not into wrestling, but he does dig the sexy, strong men grappling on the mat. And, he’s especially intrigued by Mack McDonall, dubbed “The Mountain” because he’s nearly 7 feet tall and has to manage his diet in order to stay under his 285 pound weight limit. Yes, Mack is mountain Gabe would love to scale. And, when Jordan sets Mack and Gabe up on a blind date–dinner at his apartment with his boyfriend–where they seem to hit it off. Gabe is initially upset because he didn’t suspect Mack might be into guys. Still, they seem to build a rapport, and Gabe likes the way Mack looks at him…until Gabe discusses his Elks dinner article. Then, Mack gets frustrated and leaves.

Gabe continues on his journalistic endeavors, inadvertently learning that Mack was a resident of the orphanage, and that feels weird. He knows that Mack’s a really private person, and it seems like an invasion of his privacy. Gabe gets that Mack wouldn’t want this information getting around, yet his discomfort is too great to contain. He seeks out Mack, and tells him what he’s learned. He gets a whole lot deeper story than he imagined then, and decides to interview some of the current residents. The glowing praise the kids have for their home–because that is how they feel about where they live–really shines in Gabe’s article which becomes two pieces. The first one that whets the appetites of readers who are now intrigued by the mystery Santa. And, the orphanage garners tons of interest and donations. Good right? Not so much when Gabe learns that Mack’s past is wrapped into the mystery Santa angle. They have been building a connection on the super down-low because Mack is afraid coming out will jeopardize his scholarship status. They have common interests and a definite attraction.

Gabe knows that revealing Mack’s past in the paper will be the end of whatever it is that’s growing between them. They aren’t really dating, but Gabe doesn’t want to lose the connection; he’s been mostly adrift since his parents divorced and he came out. Mack has a small family, and he’s afraid to trust Gabe, knowing that Gabe has the power to hurt him. They have a slow burning romance, that culminates on the night of the Elks dinner, when Gabe orchestrates an even bigger story than the identity of Mystery Santa. It’s a compromise they can both live with, and their future, while uncertain at first, comes into close focus after that.

This is a tender book, with a sweet holiday theme. Gabe and Mack are a fun couple to watch fall in love. I enjoyed how they built a friendship, and then a romance. Mack’s traditional ideas were endearing, and really showed Gabe that hard work and deep investment yields a treasured result. And, also, that sharing information that isn’t essential isn’t a conflict of interest; it’s life. Shakespeare wrote: ‘The better part of valour, is Discretion.’ Even if Mack wasn’t an English scholar, he truly thought Gabe a hero for keeping his secrets safe.

Interested? You can find DESPERATELY SEEKING SANTA on Goodreads, Amazon (US or UK).

****GIVEAWAY****

Click on this Rafflecopter giveaway link for your chance to win an ebook of MERRY CHRISTMAS MR. MIGGLES from Eli Easton. Wow! I loved that one.
Good luck and keep reading my friends!

And, don’t forget to check out the previous books in this dog-gone fun series….

HOW TO HOWL AT THE MOON, HOW TO WALK LIKE A MAN, and HOW TO WISH UPON A STAR.

Eli EastonAbout the Author:
Eli Easton has been at various times and under different names a minister’s daughter, a computer programmer, a game designer, the author of paranormal mysteries, a fan fiction writer, an organic farmer, and a long-distance walker. She began writing m/m romance in 2013 and has published 27 books since then. She hopes to write many more.

As an avid reader of such, she is tickled pink when an author manages to combine literary merit, vast stores of humor, melting hotness, and eye-dabbing sweetness into one story. She promises to strive to achieve most of that most of the time. She currently lives on a farm in Pennsylvania with her husband, two bulldogs, several cows, and a cat. All of them (except for the husband) are female, hence explaining the naked men that have taken up residence in her latest fiction writing.

Eli currently publishes with Dreamspinner Press and has a few self-pubbed titles as well. She also publishes thrillers under the pen name: Jane Jensen.

Catch up with Eli on her website, Facebook, and twitter.
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Growing Into THE HALF WOLF–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a brand-new M/M contemporary paranormal romance from Jay Northcote. THE HALF WOLF is a new adult shifter romance, and I really enjoyed it. Not that I’m surprised. I’ve adored all Jay’s books to-date including SUMMER HEAT, PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT, and THE LAW OF ATTRACTION, and TOPS DOWN BOTTOMS UP. THE HALF-WOLF is another stellar story about getting over prejudices and accepting love at the right time, and had really fantastic anti-racism messages that warmed me up as much as the sexytimes.

About the book:
Mate, family, pack, home… can Quinn and Kellan have it all?
Quinn grew up feeling out of place in the small town he calls home. Yearning for something he can’t name, he’s always felt different but never known why.

Kellan is part of a nomadic shifter pack. When they set up camp in the woods near Quinn’s town, the humans are unwelcoming and suspicious of the newcomers. The moment Kellan catches sight—and scent—of Quinn, he knows Quinn is special. But for the first time in his life, Kellan can’t trust his instincts. Quinn is human, and Kellan is a wolf shifter, so how can they ever be mates?

Their bond is instant and exhilarating. It breaks Quinn’s heart to know their relationship can only be temporary. Love isn’t enough when pack law forbids shifters to mate with humans. Tension explodes between pack and humans, and when Quinn discovers a shocking truth about himself that changes everything, he fears he’ll have to choose between the only life he’s ever known and the man he loves.

My Review:
This book is set in an alternate reality where shifters are known to exist but are unwelcome members of society in general. They are often transient enclaves that travel from area to area subsisting off the land and whatever work they can find before being chased off by the locals.

Quinn grew up in a small town in Wales. His coming out back in school was a big scandal and he feels like an outsider, having been raised by his aunt since birth, essentially. It’s mid-summer ans super hot, and a shifter group has come to camp outside of town near the quarry where locals tend to like to swim. Quinn’s aunt has been very pro-shifter all his life, and he’s been fascinated by their experience, too, having read and watched all the roods/movies he could about shifters while growing up. And, he decides it’s important to see the shifters in their native state once he hears there are some close enough to observe. So, he spies on them. Once. And, it’s enough to recognize that one of them is supremely attractive.

Kellan, the blond god he’d seen swimming nude in the quarry, appears at Quinn’s workplace the next day. It’s a news and magazine shop owned by his aunt, and Quinn is baffled more by Kellan’s beauty up close. The confusion is mutual, because Kellan’s keen sense of smell tells him that Quinn is human, but something else. Something very intriguing. And, he’s grateful that Quinn gives him good advice about seeking a job. The two keep connecting, and the sexual chemistry is astronomical–but neither wants to give in, because shifters aren’t supposed to mate humans, and they could build a bond that’s only going to ache once Kellan’s pack moves on.

The townsfolk aren’t happy about the shifter camp, but they’re downright enraged when it becomes clear a shifter is killing farmers’ livestock for sport. The shifters claim it must be a rogue, but the humans don’t believe. And, it’s all getting muddled for Quinn who’s fallen deep for Kellan–which sparks a whole new series of changes that Quinn never anticipated.

I’m not going to chat much more about the book except that it’s a fabulously-told book of self exploration and coming to terms with who you are. Quinn isn’t who he’d grown up believing he was, and his love for Kellan, a mate match, reveals all his hidden secrets. The prejudice of the townspeople is frightening–is a mob action that’s only barely leashed. Finding the rogue shifter added a ticking clock on Quinn and Kellan’s relationship, but also turned the anti-shifter tide in many ways. The resolution is awesome, and the ending is happy. Also, some yummy sexytimes. Expect Kellan to make Quinn’s first time something to remember.

Interested? You can find THE HALF WOLF on Goodreads and Amazon (US or UK).

About the Author:
Jay lives just outside Bristol in the West of England. He comes from a family of writers, but always used to believe that the gene for fiction writing had passed him by. He spent years only ever writing emails, articles, or website content.

One day, Jay decided to try and write a short story—just to see if he could—and found it rather addictive. He hasn’t stopped writing since.

Jay writes contemporary romance about men who fall in love with other men. He has five books published by Dreamspinner Press, and also self-publishes under the imprint Jaybird Press. Many of his books are now available as audiobooks.

Jay is transgender and was formerly known as she/her.

You can find Jay on his website, Twitter, Facebook Author Page, and Amazon.

Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends!

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Out Today! MR. BIG–Review and Excerpt

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review and excerpt for a New Adult romance form Delancey Stewart. I rather liked her book MEN AND MARTINIS, so I thought I’d try another book. MR. BIG features two disconnected people finding peace, and problems, with one another. Not least of which because one is the CEO of the company the other works for….

About the book:
Once upon a time, I had everything: money, power, a multimillion-dollar company, a loving family. Well, at least I thought I had everything. Then my parents died, and I found out my whole life was based on a lie. That’s pretty much the moment when I went numb. Told the world to f*** off and went on a bender of epic proportion, just to see how far I could fall before I hit rock-bottom.

Now I’m back and all I want in this world is my morning—okay, afternoon—coffee. Then one of my employees has the nerve to call me out for cutting the line at the coffeehouse at the company I own. Sure, I’m a little scruffier than usual, but come on, bitching out the CEO? Not a smart career move. Just who does this smart-mouthed ball-buster think she is? And more important, what do I have to do to get her number?

Holland O’Dell may be uptight, but I wouldn’t mind taking her back to my place and ripping off that business-casual blouse/skirt combo and burying myself in her curves. She pushes my buttons, but at least I’m feeling something. And whatever it is, I won’t stop until I get more.

Advance praise for Mr. Big

“Mr. Big is the kind of smart, sexy delight that every woman deserves to read! [Delancey] Stewart will make you believe in true love in this steamy, heart-wrenching tale.”—USA Today bestselling author Sierra Simone

“With a smart, feisty heroine and hot, tortured hero, Mr. Big has everything I look for in a contemporary romance. Witty, sexy, and full of heart!”—Melanie Harlow, USA Today bestselling author

How about a little taste?

“Where did you come from, Holland?”

“That’s a good question.” I wasn’t trying to dodge, but I didn’t have an answer. Plus, I wasn’t sure he was speaking geographically.

“Were you born and raised in Los Angeles?”

So he was speaking geographically. “Maybe,” I said. “I was raised here. I don’t know where I was born, actually.”

He raised an eyebrow in question.

I took a deep breath. “I was abandoned. They found me in a cardboard box at a hospital in Long Beach when I was a couple weeks old.”

I watched his eyes, waiting for the predictable sorrow, the sympathy most people offered when they heard about my inauspicious beginnings. Hale’s eyes reflected something else, though—they flashed with anger.

“I grew up in foster homes.” I shrugged.

“You were adopted?” He whispered the words, as if he couldn’t believe what he was saying.

I shook my head, a little confused at his reaction. For a moment I wondered if the revelation made him think less of me. It had certainly made me think less of myself for a lot of years. “Nope. Never adopted. Just fostered.” My salad came and I was thankful for the distraction.

Hale watched me intently, a crease between his dark eyes. He seemed about to say something, but then turned his head and stared out at the ocean instead. The sun was flashing on its surface, glittering like cellophane ribbons. I waited for him to ask more questions, but he seemed lost in thought.

We ate in relative silence, me enjoying the sunlight and warmth, and the entire avocado I’d convinced the waitress to bring me. Hale appeared to be focused on something inside his mind, something he didn’t seem apt to share. I decided to push. “What about you?”

His eyes snapped back to mine and then he shook his head, saying nothing.

“Seriously? I share but you don’t?” After spending most of the morning being thoughtful and kind, Mr. Big Dick was back. His face was closed and anger bubbled in his eyes as he turned his focus to his burger. “I see how it is,” I pressed.

He paused, a fry partway to his mouth, and then his hand lowered again, his shoulder slumping. “It’s not that I don’t want to tell you.”

“Okay . . .”

He dropped the fry and leaned back in his chair, a deep sigh escaping his lips. “It’s more that I don’t really know.” He stared down at his plate as he said, “I was adopted, actually. But I’ve only found that out recently.” His voice was cold, almost clinical, like this was a distant fact to be examined, not something integral to who he was.

“And you’re upset?” It was a stupid question. A dark frown had crept over his face and he looked much more like the broody asshole I’d met at Cody Tech than like the almost sweet man who’d been helping me since then. He was clearly upset.

A smile flickered over those incredible lips, but it did nothing to tamp down the sadness in his eyes. “I don’t know. Yes. It’s complicated.”

Without stopping myself this time, I reached for his hand, my own fingers covering the long square tips of his where they rested on the table. He started slightly, as if I’d shocked him, and then relaxed, his thumb reaching around to rub a line across the top of my fingertips. I suppressed the shiver that ran through me. The pain in his eyes had ebbed, and he looked up at me with something that felt a bit like wonder.

My Review:
Holland O’Dell is an algorithms expert who’s hired in the only suitable position (for a woman) at her dream company Cody Tech: in sales. It’s disheartening, but Holland’s a fighter. She survived three foster homes after being abandoned shortly after birth and has cobbled together a small nucleus of friends that she considers family. She’s also got a great idea for restructuring one of Cody Tech’s earliest device designs, and an in with a contact at Major League Baseball. Id she can refine and sell the product, she might garner enough support to get hired into her dream position in project development.

Oliver “Hale” Cody is a young man adrift. He’d struggled with his posh life for just over a year, and went on an adventure to “find himself” when he thought the need for him at his own company was overblown. Cody Tech was started by his father, and everyone assumed he’d just take the reins once he finished schooling, but Oliver didn’t feel like he’d earned his position as CEO. While on his journey towards himself, Oliver’s parents were killed in a car wreck, and Oliver’s idyll was at an end. The truth of his adoption was revealed by the attorneys of the estate, and Oliver’s reeling from a sense of complete loss. Who was his true family? Not only didn’t he know this big secret about himself, how could he trust his parents’ decisions? His shenanigans and drunken rages have destabilized the company, and caused a major shake-up. While Oliver is mostly too distraught to care, he notices a woman, Holland, working late at the company, and admires how she doesn’t take his crap. Seeing that she’s working on a product he’d developed with his dad, he’s intrigued, and wants to help her fine-tune it.

Through his repeated attempts at connecting with Holland, Oliver learns a lot about himself and his company. He learns about her childhood and feels a kinship for lost familial connections. He learns his company has a long way to go to overcome the ingrained misogyny and sexism. His attraction to Holland is a welcome advent into his broken emotional state, and Holland returns his interest–until she learns he’s the CEO. By then, however, they’ve already gotten physical, and hooked MLB for the project Holland developed and Oliver tweaked.

Then, there’s drama. It’s all really rational and reasonable: Holland not wanting people to believe she climbed the corporate ladder using sex with Oliver, not her creativity and hard work. Oh, and there’s a couple break ups/make ups that cause each of them to really consider the meaning of family, and merit-based rewards, and feminism, and equality. I don’t want to give too much away, but the plot has a few turns I wasn’t expecting. That said, I think I mostly didn’t expect them because they were 99.9% unlikely to happen anywhere in real life, and I’m not an unrealistic person when reading realistic fiction. So, yeah, I kind of rolled my eyes on those things, and kept reading on anyway. The relationship-building between Oliver and Holland is hard work, they are young people for all their career accomplishments: both 26. Yeah, that was unrealistic, too. And, Oliver came off as sullen and spoiled for a good part of the book. Granted, I liked when he was happy, but a lot of the time he felt whiny to me. I liked Holland a lot, and wanted to assure her–like her good friends did–that she didn’t have to be so very independent. It’s really not how the corporate world works, but I could appreciate that level of naivete because of her age.

There’s a happy ending for all, and some steamy bits, too. It’s not a terribly long book, and will likely appeal to people who enjoy romances featuring smart-pants gals and a CEO that’s not too pushy.

Interested? You can find MR. BIG on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, and Kobo.

About the Author:
Delancey Stewart has lived on both coasts, in big cities and small towns. She’s been a pharmaceutical rep, a personal trainer and a wine seller. Despite lots of other interests, she has always been a writer.
A military spouse and the mother of two small boys, her current job titles include pirate captain, monster hunter, Lego assembler, story reader, and tech writer. She tackles all these efforts from her current home outside Washington DC.

Catch up with Delancey on her website, Facebook, twitter and Instagram.

Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!