Tough Situations–THE OTTO DIGMORE DECISION–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a newly-released M/M contemporary adventure from Brent Hartinger. THE OTTO DIGMORE DECISION is a spinoff book to the Russel Middlebrook books I’ve read in the past, so I was really excited to read this one. I have really enjoyed his contemporary M/M romance series, including THE THING I DIDN’T KNOW I DIDN’T KNOW, BAREFOOT IN THE CITY OF BROKEN DREAMS, and THE ROAD TO AMAZING. Otto and Russel are back, fulfilling their dreams–they think. It all goes a bit wonky, and we have a tough situation.

About the book:
“If we get caught, they’ll throw us in jail. On the other hand, we’ll have been involved in one of the craziest Hollywood stories I’ve ever heard, and maybe someone will want to turn that into a movie!”

Otto Digmore is back, still trying to make it as an actor in Hollywood (despite his facial scars), but frustrated by all the schemers who’ll stab you in the back to get ahead. But then Otto’s good friend Russel Middlebrook sells a screenplay, a heist movie set in the Middle Ages — and Otto has been cast in an important supporting role! For twelve weeks, Otto and Russel will be on location together in England and Malta.

Problem is, once production is underway, it quickly becomes clear that the director is ruining Russel’s script. If the movie ends up being the bomb that both Otto and Russel expect it to be, it could ruin both their Hollywood careers forever.

But Otto and Russel aren’t willing to take that chance. Together, they hatch a crazy plan to make a good movie behind the director’s back. But how far are they willing to go to save their careers? Are they willing to become exactly the kind of scheming backstabbers they always said they hated? And what if Otto and Russel disagree?

Regardless of the answer, The Otto Digmore Decision proves the old adage about creative pursuits: that the most interesting drama always happens behind the scenes!

My Review
Otto Digmore is an actor in Hollywood, and he has a strong friendship with his long-time pal, Russel Middlebrook, who is a screenwriter. Otto and Russel with summer camp boyfriends way back in the day, but Russel is married to his high school sweetheart, and Otto has a long-term boyfriend, who is also his agent. They are both stunned and elated when one of Russel’s screenplays gets picked up by a studio. Ruseel had specifically written a part of the hero with Otto in mind, because Otto has some serious facial and body scarring from a fire in his youth. It’s hard for Otto to get parts because he’s not the classically-handsome Hollywood actor–and he’s still got to audition for the part.

And, beyond his wildest dreams, Otto gets the role. It seems as if Otto and Russel are finally making their way in the tough business of movies…until filming begins. The cast is tight, really quality people who are up for the mad-cap hijinks of Russel’s Middle Ages caper script, but the directer is messing it all up. A crony given the directing job based on patronage and familial ties, Otto sees the poignant bits of his role being ditched for slap-stick and cheap laughs. It’s disheartening to the cast and crew, who have become a unit allied against the directors lack of vision.

Otto, as the underdog hero, has a hard line to walk. If his director’s vision is realized, no one will consider this film as worthy of anything, thereby torching Russel’s screenwriting career and his acting career in the process. They are too new on the scene to withstand the professional fall out, not like some of the veterans in the cast and crew. It’s risky, but they hope filming the scenes as Russel intended will give the director more to work with in the editing phase–and that’s really when the movie and be salvaged. Otto channels the cast and crew to film scenes in ways that go against the director’s superficial staging, but that’s not the end of this caper. Nope, the director can still make it a mess with poor editing–and Otto has to decide how far he is willing to go to salvage what could be the most defining performance of his career.

This is a buddy caper, not a romance, with lots of help from sympathetic parties. Otto and Russel are the best of friends, and the difference in their compensation, location housing, and treatment reveals the distinction between writers and talent in Hollywood. Likewise, the risks to Otto are greater, if things go wrong and he’s caught tanking with the director. Let’s say that the director is mainly just incompetent–not particularly malicious–but he believes his incompetent work is superior not based on the cronyism that artificially elevated him, and that false entitlement brings in more narcissistic decision-making down the road. It’s also a fun behind-the-camera peek at Hollywood’s good and bad sides. I really enjoyed spending time with Otto and Russel again, though this story is all about Otto and his professional and personal insecurities. He is distinctly human, and his weaknesses resound beyond his singular character. I really enjoyed this story, though the end felt a bit rushed. The end is, however, mostly positive, and I eagerly turned the pages to ensure Russel and Otto get their happy (platonic) ending.

Interested? You can find THE OTTO DIGMORE DECISION on Goodreads, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble. I received a review copy via NetGalley.

About Brent Hartinger:
I am Brent Hartinger, and I live to write.

For the last twenty years, I have made my living writing just about everything that involves words.

My most famous book is probably my 2003 gay teen novel, Geography Club, which has been adapted into a feature film starring Scott Bakula, Marin Hinkle, Ana Gasteyer, Justin Deeley, and Nikki Blonsky. It was released in selected theaters and on VOD on November 15, 2013.

You can find Brent on his website, Facebook and Twitter.

Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!

Getting Even KARMA’S A BIT*H–Review and Giveaway

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a new New Adult M/M romance from Este Holland. KARMA’S A BIT*H a standalone romance for a soon-to-graduate computer science major and a professional karma dispenser.

Scroll down to catch an excerpt and enter to win a copy of KARM’S A BIT*H.
About the book:
Karma’s only a bitch if you’re bad.
Jake Michelson plays it safe. All he wants to do is keep a roof over his head and graduate from NYU in a few months. He can count on three things in life: his job at Dinkin’s Donuts, his best friend Marri, and school.

Archer Ferraro plays by his own rules. The one thing he can’t stand is when bad people get away with doing bad things. He’s dedicated his life to righting the wrongs the police can’t or won’t handle.

When Archer accidentally upsets Jake’s life, he vows to make it right and hires him.

Together, Jake and Archer must work on a new case involving stolen jewelry and a womanizer, deal with a lawyer brother and a jailbird father, and stay out of the cops’ way.

Should be easy…right?

How about a yummy taste?

“Hey!” Everyone stopped to gawk at the smallish, drunk man with his glasses askew. Jake struggled from my hold and staggered off his stool. “What the hell do you think you’re doing?” He took a few steps toward the asshole cowboy. “We’re having a good time. You can’t ruin our fun with your stooopid face.” Jake hauled back and punched him.

“Shit!” I lunged and grabbed Jake around the middle, pulling him away before the cowboy retaliated.

The cowboys surged forward, but a piercing whistle ripped through the air and everyone froze. Titus crooked a finger at one of his friends, a guy as big as himself, and pointed at Jake who was once again asleep in my arms.

The biker smiled, revealing a gold tooth. I returned it with an aborted one of my own. He slid his arm under Jake’s knees, then wiggled his other arm between us. I held his head as the guy lifted Jake like a child. I grabbed Marri’s hand before she could attack, and I hurried after the dude. He entered a door behind the bar and deposited Jake on a sofa.

“Thanks, man,” I said.

“No problem.” He slapped my shoulders and my knees almost buckled.

Breaking glass and shouts came from the bar, and I winced.

A chuckle rumbled in his chest like one their motorcycles kicking on. “Don’t worry. This happens at least once a month.”

“Seriously?”

“Titus doesn’t like homophobes, racists, or conservatives.” He grinned and headed out the door.

Marri and I exchanged glances.

“Are your friends okay?”

“They left. That’s what I was coming to tell you guys.” Marri peeked out at the bar and shut the door fast as glass shattered.

“Shit. Does it lock?”

She pushed the little button in the knob, and I laughed.

My Review:
Jake Michaelson has put himself through college on a combination of scholarships and hard work. His dad is a gambling addict, currently serving time for embezzlement, it’s a sore point that Jake’s dad won’t let him come visit–this is his only family in the whole world. Jake’s months from graduating into the lucrative computer science field, but he’s got to make ends meet first. This becomes more difficult when he loses his donut shop job after selling a sexy stranger a bucket of oil. That stranger, Archer, used it to douse the inside of another man’s prized Camaro.

Archer Ferraro is a one-man karma machine. For a fee, he will bring justice to perpetrators the law doesn’t touch. Like Camaro guy–who beat up his former boyfriend (Archer’s client) but kept sliding away from arrest. Sometimes his fees are a lot, sometimes not–Archer just wants to deliver peace to people who felt violated. And, when he learns that his shenanigan of dumping a 5-gallon pail of oil all over his mark’s prized possession cost Jake his job, Archer wants to make that right, too. And he does so by offering Jake a job researching his clients and the marks for karma delivery. Archer wants to make sure the punishments suit the situation–and that his clients are truly deserving of his assistance.

Jake isn’t sure about this opportunity. Money is great, but he knows how quickly a person can be scooped off to prison. He’s not willing to become a super hacker, and destroy lives, but Archer’s enterprise seems…necessary, and helpful to his clients. Through the bits of vengeance Archer manages those folks gain closure, something that Jake deems admirable. And well, Archer and Jake have a mutual appreciation society growing between them. It’s hard for these young virile men to keep their hands off one another. So, they don’t.

Well, the don’t get busy *right* away, but it’s not too long, either. They meet in January and there is both sex and love by Valentines. It’s a funny and quirky story, with alternating points of view. Jake is nervous that Archer will be upset about his dad, but they cross that bridge with hardly a ripple. And Archer’s so gone over Jake he inadvertently plans to introduce Jake to his mom and nonna within days of their sexytimes. And, the family reunions don’t end there. I though the romance moved a little fast, and I also struggled with how quickly Archer unmasks himself–as a vigilante for hire. He’d kept his anonymity for years, but within the course of a couple weeks of meeting Jake there are like seven new people who know his private business. So much so that one of his mark’s starts stalking and messing with him. That made me pull back a bit, since it seemed like such an inconsistency.

If you like odd couples, and new adult romance with a side of vigilantism, this might be a good pick up for you.

Interested? You can find KARMA’S A BIT*H on Goodreads and Amazon.

****GIVEAWAY****

Click on this Rafflecopter giveaway link for your chance to win an ebook copy of KARMA’S A BIT*H.
Good luck and keep reading my friends!

About the Author:
Este Holland is a writer and reader of all things Romance. She’s also a treasure hunter, a word wizard, a lover, and a fighter. She was born and raised in WV, and now lives in Virginia. She works in marketing during the day. She began writing novels in 2012.

You can reach out to Este on her website, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Instagram.

New Love and Life OUT IN SPRING–Review and Giveaway

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a new New Adult M/M romance from Lane Hayes. OUT IN SPRING is the sixth book in her Out in College series, and features a college hockey player grabbing the courage to meet and romance the nerdy-bookish man he’s crushed on for four years. Catch my reviews for OUT IN THE DEEP END, OUT IN THE END ZONE, OUT IN THE OFFENSE, and OUT ON THE ICE for more on this sweet and sexy series.

Scroll down to catch an excerpt and enter to win a $25 Amazon gift card.
About the book:
The jock, the nerd, and a little spring fever…
Ned
I don’t understand hockey at all. Or any sport. Attending a team party with my best friend might be a mistake. As an out and proud geek, I admit that hanging out with a bunch of jocks and their admirers isn’t my idea of fun, but getting kidnapped by a sexy hockey player who claims to have a crush on me is definitely a highlight. And finding out that Logan St. James is bisexual makes everything more interesting.

Logan
Keeping my big bi secret hasn’t been easy. I have a couple of months of college left and one more game to play. I’m determined to make the most of it and spend as much time as possible with the sexy guy I’ve had a crush on since freshman year. I don’t want this to be over. There must be a way to come out in spring.

Out in Spring is a low-angst MM, bisexual awakening staring a hunky hockey player, a sweet-natured geek, and a little college fun. This story is part of the Out in College series, but each book can be read as a stand-alone.

How about a yummy taste?

“Let’s see how many times we can go across the monkey bars without stopping. In other words, go to the slide and back until your arms give up on you. Winner chooses the next contest and—”

“Hold on. That’s not fair. We both know you’re going to win.”

“Yeah, that’s true. I’ll collect the first prize. Something easy…like you have to answer a truth or dare question. Ready?”

“No, you already owe me, remember?”

I did a quick trip across the bars, then dropped to my feet and brushed my hands off. “You’re right. What would you like?”

“Uh…I don’t know.”

“Come on. Think of something. It has to be reasonable, though. I don’t have a million bucks or a year’s supply of M&M’s in my truck,” I warned.

Ned lifted a brow. “Really? You have T-shirts and sweatshirts. Why don’t you have M&M’s?”

“That’s a genius question. I need to fix that ASAP. Truth is, I live out of my truck. Not literally, but I’ve got a lot of necessities…shoes, socks, water, a first aid kit, lube, a box of condoms.”

He wrapped his arms around himself and shivered. “How about a blanket?”

“Yep. Wait here. And watch out for fairies.”

I ran to my SUV, pulled a wool plaid blanket from the trunk, and hurried to find Ned sitting on the pirate ship with his legs dangling off the edge. I climbed the short set of stairs and draped the blanket over his shoulders.

“Thank you.”

“You’re welcome. Cozy up, ’cause this could take a while.” I flexed my knuckles and started to reach for the first bar, but paused instead. “Or do you want to go first?”

“No, thanks. I’m not good at anything that requires coordination. And those bars are germy. I have Purell in my pocket, but when I fall—”

“I’ll catch you,” I intercepted. “YOLO, Nedster. I don’t want to go back to that party, and I don’t really want to go home. And you don’t either.”

“I don’t?”

“Nope. You’d rather hang out with me.” I waggled my brows comically.

I jumped from the pirate ship before he could argue, then pointed at the bar above me and motioned for him to get moving.

“What about the blanket?” He chuckled when I rolled my eyes. “Okay, fine. But I want to change the rules. If I get to the other side without falling, I should get another prize.”

“Another one? That seems kinda greedy, but all right,” I teased, crooking my forefinger.

“Here goes nothing.” Ned sighed as he stood, glancing from the row of bars to me and back again. He clutched the first one with both hands…and immediately fell.

I caught him around his waist and held him closer than necessary, so he brushed my chest before his feet hit the ground. I didn’t let him go. I stared at his mouth and licked my lips. “It’s okay. Try it again.”

“Um…all right.” Ned let out a nervous chuckle as he set one hand on my shoulder and the other on the bar.

I let go when he gripped both hands around one bar, then reached for the next. And the next. At the halfway mark I cheered him on with a loud whoop, pumping my fist in the air and counting down the bars left. Five, four, three, two…

He dropped like a lead balloon…and sure, I caught him again. But let’s get something straight. Ned wasn’t a small person. Sure, he was on the skinny side, but he was at least six feet tall. I didn’t exactly “catch” him. It was more a matter of pulling him against me and holding on. I fully admit that my maneuver was premeditated. But my goofy, off-the-cuff quest to steal a few more minutes with my crush backfired big time. I didn’t count on my body’s reaction.

I swallowed hard and brushed my sleeve over my nose. “Maybe we should, um…”

He nodded, but he didn’t move. And neither did I.

My Review:
Logan St. James is a college senior on the hockey team at Long Beach State. He’s bisexual, and open about it with his accepting family, but he’s mostly only dated women at school. He’s had a crush on a fellow student he caught sight of way back in freshman year, Ned Bailey. Logan notices the studious boy at freshman orientation, and has noticed him many times over the years–most recently when Ned got his book order together for this final semester. Logan’s last “girlfriend” Kelly was way more serious than he was–thinking they were headed for marriage after college, even getting her father to offer Logan a job, but

Logan is pretty blase about it all. He doesn’t want a job with strings, and he’s not really sure what he wants to do with his communications degree. Or his future. Which is rather unsettling to Ned, who is hyperfocused on his future as an engineer. Also, it’s odd for Ned, who sees himself as a thin, nerdy guy, to find himself attractive to a strong, athletic, attractive partner.

What was a chance encounter at a hockey team party–where Ned got dragged by his BFF who’s a hockey groupie–turns into an odd-couple romance. This is complicated by Logan wanting to keep everything on the down-low because he doesn’t want to rock the boat before his charity game in May. Also, Kelly’s still avidly pursuing Logan, and occassionaly making a nuisance of herself. That’s a drag for both Logan and Ned–Ned because he doesn’t want to out Logan. And the pressure is kind of getting to Ned, in truth. He’s worked up about getting a good position at a firm, and his falling for Logan is becoming a complication. He shouldn’t really base his job choice on whether he’d be able to see Logan, right?

This novella is a quick peek into love for Logan, who’s coming out in the spring. He’s been hesitant to do it, but now that he and Ned are going strong, he’s ready to take that step. It’s so sweet seeing Logan fall hard for his crush, and introduce Ned to the important people in his life. My biggest complaint was I wanted more! I just adore these stories and I would have enjoyed seeing Ned and Logan in their growth toward coupledom. There’s some steamy sexytimes, a little pondering about the future, and a happy ending. Pretty much just enough to keep you entertained on a rainy afternoon.

Interested? You can find OUT IN SPRING on Goodreads and Amazon.

****GIVEAWAY****

Click on this Rafflecopter giveaway link for your chance to win a $25 Amazon GC.
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.

A Path To Discovery OUT ON THE ICE–Audiobook Review and Giveaway

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a new New Adult M/M romance from Lane Hayes. OUT ON THE ICE is the fifth book in her Out in College series, and features a college hockey player falling for a college baseball player. Catch my reviews for OUT IN THE DEEP END, OUT IN THE END ZONE, and OUT IN THE OFFENSE, for more info.

Scroll down to catch an excerpt and enter to win a $25 Amazon gift card.
About the book:
Colby Fischer is a bad boy with attitude and a chip on his shoulder. As a senior at a Southern California college, he knows this may be his last shot. He doubts he’ll ever become the hockey legend he dreamed of being as a kid, but he definitely doesn’t want to be an accountant. Things get interesting when he’s asked to train the new intern at his step-dad’s firm, who happens to be the troublemaker from his econ class. And the one guy Colby can’t stand.

Baseball is Sky Jameson’s life. He’s happy to be back at Chilton for his senior year, but he’s burned a few bridges and has a bit too much free time off-season. He could use the money and something to keep him busy until his season begins. But his accidental crush on his prickly coworker could be a problem. Colby is straight and Sky is in the closet. Their timing isn’t great, but the intense attraction is hard to deny. With his final season on the hockey team in the balance, Colby may have to decide if he’s ready to come out on the ice.

How about a yummy taste?

“What position do you play?” Sky asked, pealing the label off his water bottle.

“Right wing. Forward. Think of soccer where the front line moves the ball down the field. We do the same with the puck.”

“I know how it works. I’ve watched a lot of hockey.”

“Have you ever played?” I asked.

“No. Baseball was always number one for me. Besides, hockey is kind of…rough. There’s always a fight. And the game moves so fast, it’s hard to see the puck sometimes.”

“Not if you pay attention.” I raised my beer bottle in a mock toast and grinned. “And I like it rough.”

Sky pursed his lips and stared at me…or maybe he was staring at my throat. I couldn’t tell. “Me too. But not on the field. It distracts from the game.”

“In hockey, it’s part of the game. If you can’t defend yourself, your teammates, and the ice, you have no right to be out there. Might as well take up ice dancing or something,” I snarked, only half kidding. “And no offense, but ice dancing is a hell of a lot more entertaining than baseball. Trust me, I know. I played Little League for a couple of years. I used to beg the coach not to put me in the outfield. Geez, you could take a fuckin’ nap out there some days, you know?”

Sky laughed. “Fuck you. You obviously don’t know what you’re talking about. Baseball is a game of strategy.”

“Strategy my ass,” I huffed, smiling to take the sting from my words…even though I kinda meant it. “It’s one of those weird sports where everyone gets pumped when nothing happens. ‘Oh, it’s a no-hitter. That’s amazing!’ Sure…but nothing fuckin’ happened! No one hit the ball, no one rounded the bases, no one slid to home plate. No one had to even wash their damn uniforms! And you know why?”

“Why?”

“’Cause nothin’ fuckin’ happened,” I replied, taking a long sip of my beer as I let the sweet sound of Sky’s laughter wash over me.

God, he had a great laugh. It made me like him a little more. And yeah, as much as I didn’t want to admit it, I liked Sky. He was smart, talented, easy on the eyes, and he had a sense of humor.

“That just proves baseball players are smarter than hockey players,” he taunted.

“Said no one anywhere ever.” I held my hands up in surrender when he flipped me off. “Hey, I’m kidding. I like baseball fine. I told you I follow the Tigers. I still have the jersey my dad bought me when I was ten. Dude, I’d wear it if I still fit in it. What’s your position?”

“Shortstop. I’ve played almost every position at one time or another but I like it the best. You gotta be quick, have a strong arm, and good instincts. I also have a long wingspan. That helps.”

“Makes sense. I don’t know about wingspan, but you gotta be quick in lightning fast hockey too with quick reflexes. Big ol’ quads help.” I smacked my thighs and chuckled. “Mine are kinda huge.”

Sky gave me a lopsided smile. “I noticed. It’s hot.”

“You think muscular legs are hot?”

“I do. Believe it or not, it wasn’t your sweet personality that made me look twice. It was your thighs.”

I snickered. “That’s weird.”

“Maybe, but it’s true. You always wore shorts to summer school. I used to come in a little late so I’d get a good look at you before I sat down. I purposely didn’t sit next to you because I knew I’d get caught staring. And the one day I did, you were the one who got caught.”

“Are you telling me that all this started because of my thighs?” I asked, narrowing my gaze suspiciously.

Sky nodded. “Basically…yes.”

We held eye contact for a moment then busted up.

And when our laughter faded, the mood changed all over again. I felt that same crackle of heat and sexual energy I always did when I was around him, but this time I knew what it was. And though I might have been unsure, I wasn’t afraid.

I leaned forward on my barstool and motioned for Sky to close the distance. He brushed his nose against mine. I held my breath and waited for him to make a move. Any move at all. When he blinked, I licked the corner of his mouth then pressed my lips to his and closed my eyes.

My Review:
Colby Fischer is a 5th-year college senior, who’s got semi-pro hockey dreams. Back in Michigan as a kid, he and his father bonded over hockey. Colby had mad skills. Then his parents divorced and he moved to California with his mom, who didn’t have money or time for hockey leagues, at least until she remarried and her new husband, Harry, could pay for Colby’s training. Conversations with his dad seemed to center on that hockey connection, and these are the memories Colby keeps close now that his father has died.

Sky Jameson is also in his 5th year of college at Chilton College in California. He missed out on a term of school last year when he freaked out and quit his team due to a falling out with his then-closeted boyfriend, Max, who was a fellow teammate. Sky wanted to come out–and he did to his conservative wealthy family. Then, his wealthy family started planning his conversion therapy and Sky beat a path back to Chilton. He’s still closeted on his team, even though Max has came out with his new boyfriend. To catch up with his degree program, Sky is taking summer classes at another college–where he meets Colby.

Turns out, Sky has been hired by Harry’s accounting firm, where Colby also keeps a seasonal job. He and Sky did not hit it off in summer school–Colby thought Sky was cheating off a quiz in their class–so Colby’s suspicious that Sky will be a bad worker for Harry, who is like the nicest guy on the planet. Colby and Harry have a tense relationship, mostly due to Colby’s struggles with grief and bad behavior, even though he knows Harry is a good man, and great partner to his mother.

The tension between Colby and Sky turns physical quickly, much to Colby’s surprise and confusion. He’s straight, right? Colby’s roomie had recently come out as bisexual, and hearing Elliot and his boyfriend getting it on inexplicably turns Colby’s crank. Sky admits to being gay–and closeted, and shunned, and embarrassed–after a lot of (frankly rude) probing inquiries by Colby, who’s adversarial at the outset. Both Colby and Sky are prickly guys, but they begin to rub the rough edges off one another through frank conversation and eventual experimentation. They both acknowledge the building attraction, and Sky offers to instruct Colby in the how-to’s of man-on-man loving. It’s an awakening for Colby, who isn’t only interested in Sky for the sex.

There are plenty of side issues, with conflict on Colby’s teammates and a bizarro pseudo-love triangle for Colby and a girl who’s interested in a jerk from his team. Colby’s navigating of his sexual identity is hard for him to manage. He’s afraid his teammates with reject him. For Sky, he’s afraid of some backlash from teammates about how he handled things with Max. The longer they stay in touch, the more they begin to fall for one another. And soon, it’s not only a matter of potentially coming out, but staying together in the face of rumors and drama.

This audiobook is a good listen, with great intonation from the narrator. I could easily tell Sky from Colby, and the female parts had feminine-sounding voices. The pacing is great, and I could really feel the tension, the confusion and the frustration that Colby experiences. The story is told from his POV, so we get a lot of his anger, his grief and his befuddlement about his growing attraction to Sky.

Sky has a dark background, and he owns his mistakes with Max, and his bestie Christian, made in previous books. He’d seemed an irredeemable, but–as I have learned from Out in the Offense–Hayes has a way of making a bad seed sympathetic and understandable. Sky has served his punishment, and is making amends on his own and with Colby. Sky is a patient and caring shoulder that Colby has needed for maybe the past ten years–and this really cements their bond. It’s a bona fide HEA, and a great story.

Interested? You can find OUT ON THE ICE on Goodreads, Amazon and Audible.

****GIVEAWAY****

Click on this Rafflecopter giveaway link for your chance to win a $25 Amazon GC.
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.

Beginning Again at THE ACADEMY–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a Throwback Thursday review for a New Adult M/M contemporary romance from Quinn Anderson. THE ACADEMY is a new adult romance for two young men who meet at college, and unexpectedly connect. I read and enjoyed FOURTEEN SUMMERS, so I decided to check this one out.

About the book:
True love stabs you in the front.

Nick Steele just wants a normal life, cliché or not. He had one once, back in Chicago. Before his father died and he took a year off from college to grieve. Now, he’s starting fresh at a prestigious—but tiny—Catholic university. Adjusting to small-town life will be a challenge, along with making friends and keeping his scholarship. All he wants to do is blend in, get his diploma, and go back home.

But Sebastian Prinsen—campus heartthrob and a notorious player—has other plans. He notices Nick right away and makes a bet with his two best friends: Who can kiss the new kid first? Nick seems immune to Sebastian’s charms, and yet genuine chemistry sparks between them. Even worse, real feelings do too. Sebastian falls more and more every time Nick blows him off, but if he comes clean about the bet, Nick will hate him forever.

The last thing Nick wants is to fall in love while he’s still grieving, but Sebastian feels like home to him. Nick wants that so badly he may ignore the warning signs and risk his fragile heart once more.

My Review:
Nick Steele had taken a hiatus from college to care for, and then grieve, his dying father. Fulfilling his promise to return for his degree, Nick enrolls at The Academy, a tiny catholic college in Evanston, Illinois–a near-north suburb of Chicago. There he meets Seb Prinsen–wealthy party boy–and his cadre of hangers-on. There’s an immediate attraction, but Nick isn’t ready to break out of his grief and Seb’s aggressive wooing is off-putting.

Seb is an only child of wealthy parents who are divorcing. He’s a dedicated student, and a dedicated partier–with a well-worn fake ID. He and his childhood best pals, Theo and Dante, who are also Academy students have a long-standing competition for the fate of Barbzilla–a mangled Barbie trophy. Seb’s dissolving family has made him yearn for simpler times and the challenge of beating his pals at something seemingly innocent. He’s intrigued by Nick–from their first meeting–and wagers that he can beat Theo and Dante at getting Nick to kiss him.

Classes go on, and Nick’s nerdy roomie is happy to accept Seb’s invitations for parties on Nick’s behalf. Nick is attracted, but he’s not happy. He doesn’t like Seb’s pushiness. It’s actually through conversation with Dante that Nick gets some insight beyond Seb’s smarmy veneer. And, he see what Seb’s been oblivious to: that Dante is in love with Theo. And, it seems the more that Seb begins to understand about Nick, the more he really wants a true relationship for the first time in his life.

So, the love story here is a little more on juvenile side, for New Adult. The way Seb pursues Nick was on the border of stalkery. The Barbzilla bet was totally middle-school, but it gave a good sense of Seb’s emotional development. He’s been a neglected child and always acted out for attention. Nick claims to see those vulnerabilities within a slew of drunken texts Seb leaves him by way of pouting that Nick skipped his fab party. Nick’s gravitas seems to mellow those tendencies, and foster more grown responses. It’s a bit of a slow burn–page count wise–to get the physical on, in accordance with Nick’s hesitance for jumping into a relationship. It isn’t a lot of actual time however. The coupling of Seb and Nick is complemented by Dante and Theo making their commitment, too. That was kind of fun.

In all, it’s a breezy read with a silly bet sparking an attraction that grows between two lonely souls who truly need connection. The epilogue leaves no doubt of the HEA.

Interested? You can find THE ACADEMY on Goodreads, Riptide Books, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple Books, and Kobo. I read a review copy via NetGalley.

About the Author:
Quinn Anderson is an alumna of the University of Dublin in Ireland and has a master’s degree in psychology. She wrote her dissertation on sexuality in popular literature and continues to explore evolving themes in erotica in her professional life.

A nerd extraordinaire, she was raised on an unhealthy diet of video games, anime, pop culture, and comics from infancy. Her girlfriend swears her sense of humor is just one big Buffy reference. She stays true to her nerd roots in writing and in life, and frequently draws inspiration from her many fandoms, which include Yuri on Ice, Harry Potter, Star Wars, Buffy, and more. Growing up, while most of her friends were fighting evil by moonlight, Anderson was kamehameha-ing her way through all the shounen anime she could get her hands on. You will often find her interacting with fellow fans online and offline via conventions and Tumblr, and she is happy to talk about anything from nerd life to writing tips. She has attended conventions on three separate continents and now considers herself a career geek. She advises anyone who attends pop culture events in the UK to watch out for Weeping Angels, as they are everywhere. If you’re at an event, and you see a 6’2” redhead wandering around with a vague look on her face, that’s probably her.

Catch up with Quinn online on Facebook, twitter and Tumblr.

Now Available! OUT ON THE ICE

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a new New Adult M/M romance from Lane Hayes. OUT ON THE ICE is the fifth book in her Out in College series, and features a college hockey player falling for a college baseball player. Catch my reviews for OUT IN THE DEEP END, OUT IN THE END ZONE, and OUT IN THE OFFENSE, for more info. While this book can be read on it’s own, you may want to read OUT IN THE OFFENSE first, because that’s where we meet Sky.

Scroll down to catch an excerpt and enter to win a $25 Amazon gift card.
About the book:
Colby Fischer is a bad boy with attitude and a chip on his shoulder. As a senior at a Southern California college, he knows this may be his last shot. He doubts he’ll ever become the hockey legend he dreamed of being as a kid, but he definitely doesn’t want to be an accountant. Things get interesting when he’s asked to train the new intern at his step-dad’s firm, who happens to be the troublemaker from his econ class. And the one guy Colby can’t stand.

Baseball is Sky Jameson’s life. He’s happy to be back at Chilton for his senior year, but he’s burned a few bridges and has a bit too much free time off-season. He could use the money and something to keep him busy until his season begins. But his accidental crush on his prickly coworker could be a problem. Colby is straight and Sky is in the closet. Their timing isn’t great, but the intense attraction is hard to deny. With his final season on the hockey team in the balance, Colby may have to decide if he’s ready to come out on the ice.

How about a yummy taste?

“What position do you play?” Sky asked, pealing the label off his water bottle.

“Right wing. Forward. Think of soccer where the front line moves the ball down the field. We do the same with the puck.”

“I know how it works. I’ve watched a lot of hockey.”

“Have you ever played?” I asked.

“No. Baseball was always number one for me. Besides, hockey is kind of…rough. There’s always a fight. And the game moves so fast, it’s hard to see the puck sometimes.”

“Not if you pay attention.” I raised my beer bottle in a mock toast and grinned. “And I like it rough.”

Sky pursed his lips and stared at me…or maybe he was staring at my throat. I couldn’t tell. “Me too. But not on the field. It distracts from the game.”

“In hockey, it’s part of the game. If you can’t defend yourself, your teammates, and the ice, you have no right to be out there. Might as well take up ice dancing or something,” I snarked, only half kidding. “And no offense, but ice dancing is a hell of a lot more entertaining than baseball. Trust me, I know. I played Little League for a couple of years. I used to beg the coach not to put me in the outfield. Geez, you could take a fuckin’ nap out there some days, you know?”

Sky laughed. “Fuck you. You obviously don’t know what you’re talking about. Baseball is a game of strategy.”

“Strategy my ass,” I huffed, smiling to take the sting from my words…even though I kinda meant it. “It’s one of those weird sports where everyone gets pumped when nothing happens. ‘Oh, it’s a no-hitter. That’s amazing!’ Sure…but nothing fuckin’ happened! No one hit the ball, no one rounded the bases, no one slid to home plate. No one had to even wash their damn uniforms! And you know why?”

“Why?”

“’Cause nothin’ fuckin’ happened,” I replied, taking a long sip of my beer as I let the sweet sound of Sky’s laughter wash over me.

God, he had a great laugh. It made me like him a little more. And yeah, as much as I didn’t want to admit it, I liked Sky. He was smart, talented, easy on the eyes, and he had a sense of humor.

“That just proves baseball players are smarter than hockey players,” he taunted.

“Said no one anywhere ever.” I held my hands up in surrender when he flipped me off. “Hey, I’m kidding. I like baseball fine. I told you I follow the Tigers. I still have the jersey my dad bought me when I was ten. Dude, I’d wear it if I still fit in it. What’s your position?”

“Shortstop. I’ve played almost every position at one time or another but I like it the best. You gotta be quick, have a strong arm, and good instincts. I also have a long wingspan. That helps.”

“Makes sense. I don’t know about wingspan, but you gotta be quick in lightning fast hockey too with quick reflexes. Big ol’ quads help.” I smacked my thighs and chuckled. “Mine are kinda huge.”

Sky gave me a lopsided smile. “I noticed. It’s hot.”

“You think muscular legs are hot?”

“I do. Believe it or not, it wasn’t your sweet personality that made me look twice. It was your thighs.”

I snickered. “That’s weird.”

“Maybe, but it’s true. You always wore shorts to summer school. I used to come in a little late so I’d get a good look at you before I sat down. I purposely didn’t sit next to you because I knew I’d get caught staring. And the one day I did, you were the one who got caught.”

“Are you telling me that all this started because of my thighs?” I asked, narrowing my gaze suspiciously.

Sky nodded. “Basically…yes.”

We held eye contact for a moment then busted up.

And when our laughter faded, the mood changed all over again. I felt that same crackle of heat and sexual energy I always did when I was around him, but this time I knew what it was. And though I might have been unsure, I wasn’t afraid.

I leaned forward on my barstool and motioned for Sky to close the distance. He brushed his nose against mine. I held my breath and waited for him to make a move. Any move at all. When he blinked, I licked the corner of his mouth then pressed my lips to his and closed my eyes.

Interested? You can find OUT ON THE ICE on Goodreads and Amazon.

****GIVEAWAY****

Click on this Rafflecopter giveaway link for your chance to win a $25 Amazon GC.
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.

Learning How to Be OUT IN THE OFFENSE–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a new New Adult M/M romance from Lane Hayes. I totally loved OUT IN THE DEEP END, so I was looking forward to OUT IN THE OFFENSE. This is the third book in the Out in College series, but easy to pick up and read on its own.

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:
Christian Rafferty is a senior playing quarterback for his small private college. He’s closeted, and terrified that people might guess his sexuality–namely his conservative family. He’d successfully dated his high school sweetheart, Max, who is a current roommate in the house he shares with Max’s new beau, a fellow teammate on the baseball team, Sky. So, things are tense in his crash pad and Max’s also struggling with his statistics class. His coach sets him up with Rory, a recent college grad with a killer bod, tats, and a math degree. The former collegiate wrestler pushes all his buttons.

Christian is a bit startled how much he and Rory get on. Rory’s bold and brash and newly out–lamenting the time he wasted in the closet, and the sweet guy he hurt while in there. So, he’s not angling for Christian to come out. They are having some good times, and Christian’s liking the way he feels around Rory. His playing is going well, and the team’s rallying for a Division 3 playoff berth, but Christian’s getting irritated with the homophobia that’s cropped up in the wake of a fellow teammate who came out the previous season. And, his parents think it’s a bad scene, too.

Tired of living a half-life, Christian is seriously contemplating coming out. But, issues with Max and Sky have him fearing it might not be his choice. Hanging in the balance is a potential fifth-year of school, and a career-path change he won’t have to ask his father to pay for. I liked both Rory and Christian and how they fit together. They have yummy chemistry, and made for some interesting sexytimes. They are also thoughtful and considerate, with real-world issues I could connect with. The climax of the story, however, was a little lacking. Christian’s the subject of a hate-crime, but it sparks him to own his truth and stand up for himself in ways he hadn’t planned. I liked that part, though it took a little while for him to get there.

The resolution is happy with Rory and Christian being stronger than ever, out and proud and living a good life. Expect a new direction for this series to move–batter up??

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

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.