Appearances Deceive GOING DUTCH–A Review

Hi there! Today, I’m sharing a review for a TBT M/M contemporary “dramady” from James Gregor. GOING DUTCH features a single gay graduate student in NYC struggling to find direction, purpose and love in his life.

About the book:
Exhausted by dead-end forays in the gay dating scene, surrounded constantly by friends but deeply lonely in New York City, and drifting into academic abyss, twenty-something graduate student Richard has plenty of sources of anxiety. But at the forefront is his crippling writer’s block, which threatens daily to derail his graduate funding and leave Richard poor, directionless, and desperately single.

Enter Anne: his brilliant classmate who offers to “help” Richard write his papers in exchange for his company, despite Richard’s fairly obvious sexual orientation. Still, he needs her help, and it doesn’t hurt that Anne has folded Richard into her abundant lifestyle. What begins as an initially transactional relationship blooms gradually into something more complex.

But then a one-swipe-stand with an attractive, successful lawyer named Blake becomes serious, and Richard suddenly finds himself unable to detach from Anne, entangled in her web of privilege, brilliance, and, oddly, her unabashed acceptance of Richard’s flaws. As the two relationships reach points of serious commitment, Richard soon finds himself on a romantic and existential collision course—one that brings about surprising revelations.

Going Dutch is an incisive portrait of relationships in an age of digital romantic abundance, but it’s also a heartfelt and humorous exploration of love and sexuality, and a poignant meditation on the things emotionally ravenous people seek from and do to each other. James Gregor announces himself with levity, and a fresh, exciting voice in his debut

My Review:
Richard is a gay graduate student in New York City struggling to complete his doctoral thesis due to writer’s block. His living money is dependent upon him continuing to write papers and win grants, and he just…can’t. He’s eternally depressed, and pines for his best friend–a situation that doesn’t get any better.

It’s a bit of a crisis, this not having money, and his advisor is less than helpful. Richard’s fortunes seem to change when one of his fellow grad students, Anne, offers to help him with his writing. All she wants is his company. And, not in a sexy way. She’s wealthy and lonely, and they get along. They’re friends…of a sort. Richard actually doesn’t have a lot of close friends. Richard isn’t above having Anne write any and all work on his behalf. He doesn’t outright take credit for all the work she’s done, but he also doesn’t admit to how little of the writing he does in their “collaboration” either.

Richard looks for love in the way of young urban men in the digital age–via his apps. And it seems like he gets a bunch of duds. One disastrous date with Blake seems to put him off looking for men altogether, and that’s okay, because he has Anne’s odd fascination/friendship to prop him up and help him feel somewhat worthwhile. Spoiler alert: Richard isn’t really that worthwhile, at least, that’s how he feels and that’s how he came across the page to me, as a guy biding his time fore the Bigger Better Deal he couldn’t actually accomplish for himself.

As Richard commits more and more of his time to Anne and her desires, while sponging off of her generosity, he and Blake actually make a latent connection. And, it seems like Richard will FINALLY make a good choice, one that will jump start his lackadaisical approach to everything. And…I got my hopes up too soon on that one.

This book is billed as a “dramedy” and a comedy of manners, but my Midwestern manners didn’t align with Richard’s by any stretch. I thought I could connect because I was once a starving grad student who had to write her thesis in order to get paid, too. Unfortunately, Richard’s a guy I wouldn’t want to be friendly with, for fear he’d be looking down at me while simultaneously holding his hand out for a payout. His handling of relationships with both Anne and Blake definitely qualified as falling into the “user” category, and that’s never how I like my MCs. Despite the dubious character flaws, I found the prose interesting and compelling, causing me to read on even when I knew I was traveling into parts I wouldn’t care for. And, even though I didn’t much care for any of the characters or their choices, they had a gritty authenticity and enough texture that I could see these vapid sort of folks as real beings. They were just the sort of people I don’t like to spend time with, even when it’s time on the page. I’m sure the plot is like some great and timely show on TV, or a movie about urban folks doing their urban thing, but I don’t watch a lot of that stuff, so it didn’t resonate with me as a reader.

That said, if you like contemporary urban gay fiction the book might be a winner for you. It had some great press behind it upon release, which was why I chose to read it.

Interested? You can find GOING DUTCH on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple Books and Kobo. I read a review copy provided by NetGalley.

About the Authors:
James Gregor holds an MFA in Fiction from Columbia. He has been a writer in residence at the Villa Lena Foundation in Tuscany and a bookseller at Shakespeare and Company bookshop in Paris. James was born and grew up in Canada. Going Dutch is his first novel.

Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends!

Digging Deep OUT ON THE SERVE–Audiobook, Review and Giveaway

Hi there! Today I’m sharing an audiobook review for a new New Adult M/M romance from Lane Hayes. YOu can catch my review for OUT ON THE SERVE, the seventh book in her Out in College series, which features a newly pro volleyball player falling hard for his new roommate. Catch my reviews for OUT IN THE DEEP END, OUT IN THE END ZONE, OUT IN THE OFFENSE, OUT ON THE ICE and OUT IN SPRING 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:
Roommates to friends to lovers…
Elliot:
I need a roommate fast. Even a temporary one. Beggars can’t be choosers. Going pro after graduation has been intense, and time is precious. Thankfully, Braden seems cool. He’s a little quirky…and very sexy. Of course, I would never get involved with a roommate. That’s a bad idea. Isn’t it?

Braden:
Moving to Long Beach seems like a no brainer. It’ll be a perfect chance to wind down before grad school and a nice respite from my folks. Plus, my new roommate is a great guy. A little messy, but sweet. Gotta admit, I like him more than I should. And we’re off to a strange start when a mutual friend hooks me up with his ex. Elliot’s the one I want, but going from friends to lovers is a risk. We could end up out on the serve…or we could win it all.

Out on the Serve is a low-angst MM, bisexual romance starring two roommates, one neat, one messy, beach volleyball, a lot of sand, and a little summer fun. This story is part of the Out in College series but can be read as a stand-alone.

How about a yummy taste?

Ten minutes later, I tied a towel around my waist and opened the bathroom door to release some steam just as Braden opened his bedroom door.
It might have been my imagination or wishful thinking, but I could have sworn he eye-fucked me before he met my gaze.
“Mornin’,” I said in a raspy voice.
“Good morning.”
“How’d you sleep?”
“Pretty good. Are you going to the beach today?” he asked awkwardly.
“Yeah. I’m leaving soon.”
“Hmm. I heard the swell is huge,” he said in a fast, clipped tone.
I crossed my arms and leaned against the doorjamb. “Yeah, I heard that too. There’s some big storm off the coast of Mexico.”
“Right.”
“Want to come with me?”
“To Mexico?”
I barked a laugh. “No, dork. To the beach.”
Braden chuckled. “Believe it or not, I’m going to the theater. Sophie talked me into trying out the assistant gig. Hopefully, it’ll keep me out of trouble.”
And there was the opening I needed. I wasn’t sure how to word it, though. The hint of unease between us told me that I should proceed with caution. We had to be on the same page and willing to try something new and—fuck. My window of opportunity was closing. Braden’s cheeks reddened as he mumbled a good-bye.
I grabbed his wrist before he closed his door, ignoring the spark and sizzle that zipped along my spine. “Hang on…thank you.”
“For what?”
“The cereal.”
“Oh.” He let out a half laugh and yes…his face went a shade pinker. Fuck, that was both cute and hot at the same time. “It was silly.”
“I love silly. I’m a huge fan of all things ridiculous. Ask anyone.”
“I believe you.”
“Good. So…let’s agree that this doesn’t have to be weird. We’re grown adults. Well, you are anyway. We can call it a celebratory kiss if you want and move on. What d’ya say?”
“Yes, okay. I’m—I’m sorry about”—he circled his wrist meaningfully—“everything. I overreacted.”
“You mean the part when you yelled at me for getting sand on the floor? I forgive you.”
“No, I was serious about that part.”
“I know. But don’t worry about the other thing. Boners happen.”
Braden sputtered. “I did not have a boner.”
“Liar. We both did. Might have been your mom’s fudge,” I teased.
“You think my mother’s homemade fudge gave you a hard-on,” he repeated incredulously.
“Dude, chocolate totally gives me wood. Or maybe she added a chemical substance that made us too relaxed.”
“Like what?”
“I don’t know…weed?”
Braden snickered. “Unlikely. My mom is very proper. I don’t think she even knows what weed looks like.”
“Hmm. You seem kind of proper too. Do you take after her?”
“Maybe, but I know what weed looks like,” he assured me. “My roommate in the dorms my freshman year was very fond of the stuff. We didn’t get along at all. He was a total—”
“Slob?” I supplied, quirking my brows.
“Yeah.” He shrugged carelessly. “I was probably overbearing, but in my defense, I come from a super rigid household. I’m an only child, and I was sick a lot when I was little. I had colic and sensitivity issues. I’d break out in rashes if I was in the sun for five minutes or if I ate citrus. My asthma was off the charts. I had a nebulizer at home, and I carried inhalers everywhere I went.”
“That’s a lot of information,” I said with a laugh.
He winced, then sucked in a deep breath. “Sorry. I don’t know what’s wrong with me. My geek is showing.”
“Ha. Nothing wrong with that. You like me, eh?”
Braden chuckled. Like I’d hoped he would. “What makes you think that?”
“You kissed me. Twice. We might as well get married and pick out His and His towels. Thoughts?”
“Great idea. Just don’t tell my mom. She’d have a heart attack. She was already worried I’d moved in with you because you were my…”
“Boyfriend,” I supplied.
“Yeah, except she has a hard time saying that word, so it comes out in a strained whisper like…boyfriend.” Braden modulated his voice to sound like a scared woman. He grinned when I busted up laughing, and I could have sworn a ray of sunshine burst through the wall of our apartment.

My Review:
This audiobook runs about 6 h and 20 minutes, and is narrated by Michael Dean.

Elliot is a new graduate of Long Beach State and is now a pro volleyball player. He’s an out bisexual man, and looking for a new roommate since his friend–emphasis on friend–Sophie wants to move out though she only lived there a few months. She had high hopes of having a relationship with Elliot, but he was still nursing a bruised heart from his break up with Drew. Elliot is a great guy, friendly and effusive, and likes to maintain friendships with his exes. Not willing to stick Elliot out on the rent, Sophie has arranged for her friend, Braden, to look into taking her empty room. Braden is also a volleyball player, and he and Elliot knew each other a competitors, more than friends. But, they don’t hold any grudges. Braden respected Elliot’s play on and off the court, and he’s also not averse to noticing how yummy a specimen Elliot is. Braden is also bisexual, and out to his parents–who aren’t the most accepting about it.

Elliot and Braden do agree to share the apartment, and they manage to even play some pick-up volleyball games. A camaraderie and attraction is growing between them, and it’s complicated by other people. First, Sophie acts as a matchmaker for the two men–with other people. And Elliot’s team partner messes things up wanting a gimmick that will drum up visibility for them–and includes dating a female ex of Elliot’s, while Elliot is meant to go back to dating Drew–even if it’s just for show. A bigger issue is Braden’s helicopter mom who thinks he’d be happier if he dates only women, and barely acknowledges his bi-identity. And, naturally neither of these guys knows if the feelings they are having are temporary, like Braden’s sub-lease which only lasts for the summer.

The audiobook really translates the angst of both characters well. Elliot is more freewheeling, but he’s also introspective and his growing intimacy with Braden has him rethinking his anti-marriage stance. Not that he’s ready, but that he could see staying with Braden for a long, long time. Braden’s summer is going from bad to worse, with losing out on a role in a play, then losing out on his spot as a production assistant for the play. At loose ends, Elliot is a great buffer, giving Braden something positive to anticipate, while helping Braden fully experience a connection with a man. They develop a true connection, and it’s important to both men that the people they love get the message to back off and let them support one another fully. Their sexytimes are expressively rendered by the narrator, and I loved the playful and tender moments equally. Braden takes care of Elliot–to some degree–while Elliot helps Braden break free of some of his eccentricities around cleanliness and order in their living space.

The comedy of errors that Sophie keeps engaging was frustrating for both Elliot and Braden, and that clearly came through the audio. I loved it when Elliot FINALLY stood his ground and ensured that Braden was the man at his side for all the world to see. Very sweet.

Interested? You can find OUT ON THE SERVE 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.

About the Narrator:
Michael Dean is originally from Chicago and currently based in New York City. He has performed around the country and the world on stage, television, and film. He studied acting at the University of Arizona and the University of Kansas City Missouri.

As a narrator, Michael has voiced over 450 titles for authors including Lucy Lennox, Sloane Kennedy, Lane Hayes, Devon McCormack, Riley Hart, Felice Stevens, Pandora Pine, Christina Lee, Susan Hawke, and many more. Learn more about Michael on his website.

Adulting Pressures OUT ON THE SERVE–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 SERVE is the seventh book in her Out in College series, and features a newly pro volleyball player falling hard for his new roommate. Catch my reviews for OUT IN THE DEEP END, OUT IN THE END ZONE, OUT IN THE OFFENSE, OUT ON THE ICE and OUT IN SPRING 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:
Roommates to friends to lovers…
Elliot:
I need a roommate fast. Even a temporary one. Beggars can’t be choosers. Going pro after graduation has been intense, and time is precious. Thankfully, Braden seems cool. He’s a little quirky…and very sexy. Of course, I would never get involved with a roommate. That’s a bad idea. Isn’t it?

Braden:
Moving to Long Beach seems like a no brainer. It’ll be a perfect chance to wind down before grad school and a nice respite from my folks. Plus, my new roommate is a great guy. A little messy, but sweet. Gotta admit, I like him more than I should. And we’re off to a strange start when a mutual friend hooks me up with his ex. Elliot’s the one I want, but going from friends to lovers is a risk. We could end up out on the serve…or we could win it all.

Out on the Serve is a low-angst MM, bisexual romance starring two roommates, one neat, one messy, beach volleyball, a lot of sand, and a little summer fun. This story is part of the Out in College series but can be read as a stand-alone.

How about a yummy taste?

Ten minutes later, I tied a towel around my waist and opened the bathroom door to release some steam just as Braden opened his bedroom door.
It might have been my imagination or wishful thinking, but I could have sworn he eye-fucked me before he met my gaze.
“Mornin’,” I said in a raspy voice.
“Good morning.”
“How’d you sleep?”
“Pretty good. Are you going to the beach today?” he asked awkwardly.
“Yeah. I’m leaving soon.”
“Hmm. I heard the swell is huge,” he said in a fast, clipped tone.
I crossed my arms and leaned against the doorjamb. “Yeah, I heard that too. There’s some big storm off the coast of Mexico.”
“Right.”
“Want to come with me?”
“To Mexico?”
I barked a laugh. “No, dork. To the beach.”
Braden chuckled. “Believe it or not, I’m going to the theater. Sophie talked me into trying out the assistant gig. Hopefully, it’ll keep me out of trouble.”
And there was the opening I needed. I wasn’t sure how to word it, though. The hint of unease between us told me that I should proceed with caution. We had to be on the same page and willing to try something new and—fuck. My window of opportunity was closing. Braden’s cheeks reddened as he mumbled a good-bye.
I grabbed his wrist before he closed his door, ignoring the spark and sizzle that zipped along my spine. “Hang on…thank you.”
“For what?”
“The cereal.”
“Oh.” He let out a half laugh and yes…his face went a shade pinker. Fuck, that was both cute and hot at the same time. “It was silly.”
“I love silly. I’m a huge fan of all things ridiculous. Ask anyone.”
“I believe you.”
“Good. So…let’s agree that this doesn’t have to be weird. We’re grown adults. Well, you are anyway. We can call it a celebratory kiss if you want and move on. What d’ya say?”
“Yes, okay. I’m—I’m sorry about”—he circled his wrist meaningfully—“everything. I overreacted.”
“You mean the part when you yelled at me for getting sand on the floor? I forgive you.”
“No, I was serious about that part.”
“I know. But don’t worry about the other thing. Boners happen.”
Braden sputtered. “I did not have a boner.”
“Liar. We both did. Might have been your mom’s fudge,” I teased.
“You think my mother’s homemade fudge gave you a hard-on,” he repeated incredulously.
“Dude, chocolate totally gives me wood. Or maybe she added a chemical substance that made us too relaxed.”
“Like what?”
“I don’t know…weed?”
Braden snickered. “Unlikely. My mom is very proper. I don’t think she even knows what weed looks like.”
“Hmm. You seem kind of proper too. Do you take after her?”
“Maybe, but I know what weed looks like,” he assured me. “My roommate in the dorms my freshman year was very fond of the stuff. We didn’t get along at all. He was a total—”
“Slob?” I supplied, quirking my brows.
“Yeah.” He shrugged carelessly. “I was probably overbearing, but in my defense, I come from a super rigid household. I’m an only child, and I was sick a lot when I was little. I had colic and sensitivity issues. I’d break out in rashes if I was in the sun for five minutes or if I ate citrus. My asthma was off the charts. I had a nebulizer at home, and I carried inhalers everywhere I went.”
“That’s a lot of information,” I said with a laugh.
He winced, then sucked in a deep breath. “Sorry. I don’t know what’s wrong with me. My geek is showing.”
“Ha. Nothing wrong with that. You like me, eh?”
Braden chuckled. Like I’d hoped he would. “What makes you think that?”
“You kissed me. Twice. We might as well get married and pick out His and His towels. Thoughts?”
“Great idea. Just don’t tell my mom. She’d have a heart attack. She was already worried I’d moved in with you because you were my…”
“Boyfriend,” I supplied.
“Yeah, except she has a hard time saying that word, so it comes out in a strained whisper like…boyfriend.” Braden modulated his voice to sound like a scared woman. He grinned when I busted up laughing, and I could have sworn a ray of sunshine burst through the wall of our apartment.

My Review:
Elliot has just graduated from Long Beach State and begun his career as a pro volleyball player. He’s bisexual, and open about it with his accepting friends and family, having just gotten over a breakup with Drew. Before that he dated Anna for a few years. They’re still friends, but Elliot is working on adulting. That’s why his current roommate, Sophie, is moving out. Sophie is an actress and has had a long-standing and unrequited crush on Elliot for years now. When he made it clear that they would only be friends, she decided to move out ASAP cajoling a friend, Braden, to take her sublease. We have met Elliot and Sophie before. Elliot was living with Colby Fischer (OUT ON THE ICE) before Sophie moved in and Sophie is a dear friend to Phoenix (OUT IN THE FIELD). Elliot is immediately attracted to Braden, who is a volleyball player he knew graduating from nearby Chilton College.

Braden is beginning grad school at UCLA in the fall, and is looking to live anywhere but home with his religious s-mother. He has one year of NCAA eligibility left, and he’s set to join UCLA’s team, but this summer he’s all about Shakespeare. He’s a finance guy with a love for theater, how he met and befriended Sophie. They have both auditioned for a summer Shakespeare play, and Braden’s using this experience to convince his mom he can be out on his own, instead of returning to their home for the summer. Plus, Braden is totally attracted to his new roomie, Elliot, even though Elliot is a total slob, and pretty hopeless in the housekeeping/adulting skills zone. When the play kind of falls through, Braden find himself spending more time with Elliot–who’s receptive to his needs for cleanliness and order–playing volleyball and hanging out.

And, that’s when the sexytimes begin.

This is a low-angst New Adult sports romance with a fair amount of sexytimes and a sweet connection story. Elliot’s pro partner is a smarmy wheeler-dealer, and he gets Sophie involved in crafting their social media–with off-court twists, like setting him up with Anna, Elliot’s ex. And, maybe, setting Elliot back up with…Drew? He really ants to play up the Rainbow angle, while Elliot just wants to play hard. There’s a lot of awkward going on, especially when Braden’s mom won’t get that he’s bisexual–no matter how many times he’s stated it as fact.

Both Braden and Elliot think the connection between them will end when the summer does, and Braden moves on, but what if it didn’t have to be that way? What if they decided to stay together as long as they like? It’s a no-brainer situation, since it requires so little alterations to their original plans. I liked how these guys took charge of their situations and had the conversations necessary to bring happiness into their lives on the regular. Sweet and sexy!

Interested? You can find OUT ON THE SERVE 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.

Brothers Find A WAY WITH Love–Audiobooks Review and Giveaway

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for two New Adult M/M audiobook romances from Lane Hayes. A WAY WITH WORDS and A WAY WITH YOU feature brothers Remy and Reeve Nelson finding love in the Big Apple.

Scroll down to enter to win a $25 Amazon gift card.
About A WAY WITH WORDS:
Tony De Luca is a simple guy. He works for his uncle’s Brooklyn-based construction firm. And he knows from experience that keeping his head down and doing his job is the best way to deal with the meddlesome family members he sees daily. They think he’s quiet and, maybe, a little awkward, but the truth is more complicated. Tony has a secret he isn’t ready or willing to share. He’s an expert at avoiding familial scrutiny. At least, he was until the sexy guitar player showed up.

Remy Nelson is a small-town, free-spirited guy looking for a new life in the big city. He stays busy by playing his instrument on a busy Manhattan street corner during the day and bartending at night. Remy is more interested in finding steady employment than a mate, but he can’t deny his attraction to the dreamy construction worker with soulful eyes, a kind heart, and a unique way with words.

Falling for Remy wasn’t what Tony expected, but he knows keeping him will require courage. And truth.

About A WAY WITH YOU:
Reeve Nelson is determined to make it in Manhattan. He’s hardworking, dedicated and willing to put in the extra hours required to be successful at his new job at a prestigious real estate firm in the city. There’s no way he’s going back to small-town living and an ex-girlfriend who won’t let go. But his boss isn’t making it easy.

Leo Rodriguez enjoys his reputation as a ruthless businessman. He’s a lone wolf who’s scraped his way from the gutter to rebuild his life and launch a distinguished career on his terms. When an opportunity to expand in the market comes up, Leo wants the eager new agent with a sense of wonder on the project. But nothing goes quite as planned. Reeve expected to be intimidated and overwhelmed by Leo, however, the explosive mutual attraction and fierce desire between them is a big surprise. Neither man is looking for love and yet, something special just might happen if they can find their way…together.

My Review:
I listened to the audiobooks so if I misspell names I’m doing my best, y’all!

First off, the audiobooks total out at about 5.5 hours, for both stories. I thought this might be too short, not enough time for the stories to develop, but I think they were both sufficient, if succinct.

The stories begin with A WAY WITH WORDS, where construction worker Tony De Luca finally admits that he’s gay, because he falls hard for Remy Nelson, a bartender, busker and music teacher by trade. Tony narrates his story which is filled with a lot of angst over his closeted state. Tony is nearly 30 and his big and intrusive Italian family want his settled down and married ASAP. Tony’s dad died a year ago, and his sudden loss has amped up the pressure Tony feels. And the guilt, because Tony knows he’s gay, and is terrified his family will not accept him if he comes out. He works for and with family, and if they shun him, he’d be out of a job and a family in one go. He’s nice to the ladies his family trots out to woo him, but he’s never going to fall for any of them–and he’s frustrated to be in this high-pressure situation. This only gets worse when Tony meets Remy playing in the park.

Remy is so light and airy compared to the dark De Luca’s, and he’s engaging both Tony’s interest and emotions. The music really speaks to Tony, who often feels tongue-tied. He’s a good Italian boy, though, and he knows that feeding a man well will pique his interest, so he starts bringing extra lunch to entice Remy to spend some time chatting when he’s on his lunch break in the park. The more time they spend, the more Tony feels inadequate for not being honest with his family. When they keep pushing “Canoli Karen” on him, though he finally makes the stand hes feared for so long–and life gets only better from there.

Lots of sexytimes, and sweet and earnest conversation lead these two into making their way with and without words.

Remy’s older brother Reeve has recently moved to Manhattan to build a new realty business. He’d been living with a woman for the past two years, a fellow realtor back in their small hometown in upstate New York, however she cheated on him, and he left for a new life, new enterprise. Reeve has been hired by a prestigious realty firm, but he’s not really getting his bearings. His direct boss, Leo Rodriguez, is a heavyweight in NYC realty, having his own house shoe on local cable. He’s also demanding, and wanting to expand the TV presence, which is something he wants Reeve to work on. And, it doesn’t quite work out–their big office blow up ends in some NSFW sexytimes in Leo’s office.

And Reeve looking for a new position.

Leo doess’t want him to go, and he surely doesn’t want him to get away. Leo’s been attempting to hide his sexuality from his bigoted family for years–with some limited success, but now he’s on his own and he’s ready to live his truth. Would Reeve be the man who makes life a partnership?

This one moves a LITTLE faster than Remy and Tony’s story, but we have a lot of Remy and Tony in it to grease the skids. Also, the boss-employee dynamic lends itself for physical before emotional entanglement. That said, it’s clear the Reeve is crazy for Leo, and the feelings are mutual. Also, both men have to get over their misconceptions about romance and partnerships–because they’ve been burned a bit in the past. It’s a sweet and sexy story and I really enjoyed the interplay between them.

The narrator does a great job of carrying the Brooklyn accents of Tony’s family, the upstate inflections of Remy and Reeve, as well as Leo’s subtlely accented Spanish/Philly voice. The pacing was great, with lots of description that all played into the characters’ growth. I loved the angst of Tony, the wholeheartedness of Remy and the jaded parts of Reeve and Leo. They all work well, and their voices were easily discerned in my head. It’s a great duology, and I would be happy to listen to both stories repeatedly.

Interested? You can find A WAY WITH WORDS on Goodreads and A WAY WITH YOU on Goodreads. The two-book deal is available on Amazon or on audiobook on 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.

About the Narrator:
Alexander Cendese is a New York–based actor and narrator. He has performed on Broadway (A View from the Bridge) and in regional theater, and has narrated numerous audiobooks. His television and film credits include the CW’s Beauty and the Beast, Best Man in the Dark, and Catskill Park.

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.

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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.