Tense Attraction OFF THE ICE–A Review

Hi there! Today, I’m starting something I’d like to go back to from time to time, feature weeks! This week, I’ll be sharing reviews/alerts that highlight athletes and I’m kicking this “Sports Week” off with a review for a new M/M contemporary hockey romance from the writing team of Avon Gale and Piper Vaughn. OFF THE ICE is a new collaboration that came out a couple months ago. It’s also a coming out story, which is always fun to read. I really loved PERMANENT INK by this team and I wasn’t let down with this new story. If you like M/M hockey romances I’d highly recommend BREAKAWAY by Avon Gale or THE UNDERSTATEMENT OF THE YEAR by Sarina Bowen, too.

About the book:
Tristan Holt is nothing if not pragmatic. Despite a flourishing career as a defenseman for the Atlanta Venom, Tristan knows he can’t play hockey forever. One day he’ll retire—if an injury doesn’t force him to hang up his skates first. His backup plan? Finishing his business degree. But he doesn’t count on a very inappropriate attraction to his standoffish sociology professor, Sebastian Cruz.

Sebastian is on the bottom rung of the Sociology Department at Georgia State. He has his sights set on tenure, and he can’t afford to be distracted, especially not by a sexy student with a body straight out of Sebastian’s dreams. No matter how much Tristan tempts him, that’s one line Sebastian won’t cross. At least not until summer classes end. After that, everything is fair game.

But Sebastian lives loud and proud, and Tristan is terrified of being the first out player in the NHL. Neither of them can afford to risk their hearts when they can’t imagine a happily ever after. The problem is, unlike hockey, when it comes to love, there are no rules

My Review:
Tristan Holt is a pro hockey player in Atlanta on his summer hiatus and taking college courses to finish his degree in business management. He’s interested in his sociology class, and his sexy professor, Sebastian Cruz, an out and proud gay Puerto Rican man who never quails at speaking truth to power. Prof Cruz can’t help noticing fit and burly Tristan, either. Unfortunately, Sebastian makes some wrong assumptions, and levels an accusation that reveals all of his own prejudices.

Tristan not only calls Sebastian out on it, he accepts Sebastian’s apology, and that allows Tristan to feels safe enough to not only reveal his hidden sexuality, but also his deep attraction. Not that they can do anything about it. But…summer school is over soon, and Tristan wouldn’t mind his austere professor taking him well in hand. If Sebastian is willing to take that next step.

The chemistry between them is intense, and their mutual love of classic rock and muscle cars helps draw them closer. Tristan is a 23 year old pro athlete, and Sebastian is a mid-30s professor, but they share a love of learning, too, and Sebastian’s prejudices are settled once he gets to know Tristan up close and very personally. The biggest hurdle they face is Tristan’s unwillingness to come out. There are gay players in the NHL, but none of them are out and on an active roster; Tristan doesn’t want to be the vanguard player. Tristan hasn’t even come out to his parents or teammates, and he’s rather confident they won’t mind. Sebastian isn’t pushing Tristan to come out…at first, but, the longer they date, the more Sebastian realizes that he can’t just be Tristan’s public “friend.”

This conflict felt real, as did the anguish. They have to take a step back, and think about their lives, careers and goals. Sebastian takes the advice of his good friend to really examine his motives, and his decisions. Sebastian is a prickly guy, who is sometimes self-righteous, but he’s also humbled by Tristan’s quiet dignity, and his kindness. Sebastian wishes his relationship with his own parents was as loving and accepting as Tristan’s is with his family. Tristan’s personal life and his professional face are two very separate spheres, but he recognizes the need to be honest with his closest friends and family. I liked how this shook out, with Tristan being happier in his relationships. There’s a lot of hot moments, and some good discussion of prejudice, in the context of wealth, power and professional sports. I’m looking forward to reading more in this new series. Expect some interesting power plays in the bedroom and on the ice, and teammate shenanigans. There’s heart with the heat, and even a “hot for teacher” reference that brought me back to sixth grade.

Interested? You can find OFF THE ICE on Goodreads, Riptide Books, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes and Kobo. I read a review copy provided by NetGalley.

About the Authors:
Avon Gale was once the mayor on Foursquare of Jazzercise and Lollicup, which should tell you all you need to know about her as a person. She likes road trips, rock concerts, drinking Kentucky bourbon and yelling at hockey. She’s a displaced southerner living in a liberal midwestern college town, and when she’s not writing you can find her at the salon, making her clients look and feel fabulous. She never gets tired of people and their stories — either real or the ones she makes up in her head.

You can find Avon on Facebook, twitter, Pinterest or sign up for her newsletter.

Piper Vaughn wrote her first love story at eleven and never looked back. Since then, she’s known that writing in some form was exactly what she wanted to do. A reader at the core, Piper loves nothing more than getting lost in a great book—fantasy, young adult, romance, she loves them all (and has a two-thousand-book library to prove it!). She grew up in Chicago, in an ethnically diverse neighborhood, and loves to put faces and characters of every ethnicity in her stories, so her fictional worlds are as colorful as the real one. Above all, she believes that everyone needs a little true love in their life…even if it’s only in a book.

You can find Piper online on her website, Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends!

Writing a New Life Story in PERMANENT INK–A Review

Hi there! Today, I’m featuring a review for a new M/M contemporary romance form the writing team of Avon Gale and Piper Vaughn. PERMANENT INK is the first book in a new Art & Soul series and features an older-younger romance that’s hot enough to burn up the pages. I’ve loved solo reads like BREAKAWAY and WOOD, SCREWS AND NAILS from these authors in the past, so I was eager to read this new collaboration.

About the book:
At twenty-three, Poe Montgomery is going nowhere. He still lives in his father’s basement and spends most of his time tagging with his friends. When an arrest lands him in debt, Poe accepts the front desk job at Permanent Ink, the tattoo shop owned by his father’s best friend, Jericho McAslan. Jericho is nearly twice Poe’s age, but with his ink and prematurely graying hair, he quickly takes the starring role in Poe’s hottest fantasies.

Jericho is known for his ability to transform poorly designed tattoos into works of art, but he was once as aimless and misdirected as Poe. Wanting to pay it forward the way someone once did for him, Jericho makes Poe his apprentice and is determined to keep things strictly professional. Easier said than done when Poe makes his interest—and his daddy kink—abundantly clear.

Jericho can’t resist Poe or their intense chemistry for long. But between the age gap, tension with Poe’s father, and Poe’s best friend calling him a sellout, they’ll need to ensure they’re both on the same page before they can rewrite their rocky start into something permanent.

My Review:
Poe Montgomery is wearing his father’s patience very thin. He’s 23, virtually jobless, and just got picked up, again, for making graffiti art–criminal mischief, in this case. His father, Landon, pours out his woes over Poe’s aimless life to his best friend, Jericho McAslan and Jericho feels a kinship to Poe’s situation. Jericho had been a handful, and far more trouble to his caregivers at a younger age than Poe is now, but he’d been given the opportunity to learn the trade of tattooing and it saved his life. Now, twenty years later, Jericho’s in position to pay it forward, and offers to take Poe on as a receptionist at his tattoo parlor, with the bonus that if he is diligent Jericho will offer him an apprenticeship as a tattoo artist.

Poe is a little sulky about the prospect, but he soon is intrigued by the art happening all around him. And, it helps that Jericho is exactly as sexy up-close and personal as Poe had found him when Jericho would pop over for beers with his dad. In fact, Jericho thinks nothing of the age gap between them, and he’s not shy of his interest. Jericho’s undeniably turned on, but he’s also put off by the prospect of damaging his friendship with Landon, and also with the power imbalance in their work relationship. He turns Poe away again and again, but Poe’s attitude only gets worse, and he’s soon in trouble again with his tagging pals–mot notably Blue. Blue wants all of Poe’s attention and he’s not afraid to demand it, which makes their friendship uncomfortable for the first time in years. Blue doesn’t want Poe to learn how to tattoo, or to find a job where he can be supported by his art–because Blue thinks they ought to suffer for it, and it’s all a little off-kilter. Poe hadn’t seen how out-there Blue was until he stepped away and got perspective. He wants a good life, with a good man, and Jericho finally comprehends how good he and Poe could be together. And, it’s super-duper hot, folks. The best of Daddy porn on the page.

I don’t want to give away too much more, but I will say that Blue messes things up for Poe and Jericho big time, and it surely ties into the next book in this series. I’ve read a few tattoo-artist romances this summer and this ones just delightful. The age difference was fun to observe, and the relationships between Poe and his dad, Landon, and Landon and Jericho are really awesome. Landon became a father at a young age and raised Poe without help for nearly all his life. The lack of maternal coddling in their youth is a bonding point for Jericho and Poe, and the way Landon manages to not punch Jericho in the face for “exploiting” his boy is charming. I liked all these characters and felt like they were real enough I’d go have a beer with them anytime. I look forward to the next book where I expect Blue will get a strong lesson in adulting, and love.

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

About the Authors:
Avon Gale was once the mayor on Foursquare of Jazzercise and Lollicup, which should tell you all you need to know about her as a person. She likes road trips, rock concerts, drinking Kentucky bourbon and yelling at hockey. She’s a displaced southerner living in a liberal midwestern college town, and when she’s not writing you can find her at the salon, making her clients look and feel fabulous. She never gets tired of people and their stories — either real or the ones she makes up in her head.

You can find Avon on Facebook, twitter, Pinterest or sign up for her newsletter.

Piper Vaughn wrote her first love story at eleven and never looked back. Since then, she’s known that writing in some form was exactly what she wanted to do. A reader at the core, Piper loves nothing more than getting lost in a great book—fantasy, young adult, romance, she loves them all (and has a two-thousand-book library to prove it!). She grew up in Chicago, in an ethnically diverse neighborhood, and loves to put faces and characters of every ethnicity in her stories, so her fictional worlds are as colorful as the real one. Above all, she believes that everyone needs a little true love in their life…even if it’s only in a book.

You can find Piper online on her website, Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends!

Out Today PRICKLY BY NATURE–A Review

PBN-banner
Hi there! Today I’m sharing my review for PRICKLY BY NATURE. As you may remember, I adored PRICKLY BUSINESS, the first book in this M/M shifter mystery romance Portland Pack series that features a fated bond between a werewolf and a hedgehog shifter.

Dylan and Avery are back, and they are still fighting, sometimes each other…

PricklyByNatureFSAbout the book:
In the four months since hedgehog shifter Avery Babineaux started investigating the disappearance of a young female werewolf from the Portland Pack, he’s discovered his life’s passion. Now he’s apprenticing under established PI Corbin Reid. Avery hopes his training with Reid will help him finally bring Lacey home, but detective work isn’t without its perils, and the potential dangers strain his relationship with his new mate, Dylan.

Dylan Green would be perfectly content with his mating and his motorcycle shop if it wasn’t for his constant worry about Avery’s safety and the fact that Avery’s never home. Proud as he might be of Avery’s determination to prove his worth and fulfill his promise to Lacey’s father, Dylan can’t stand the thought of Avery being hurt. Yet what right does he have to demand Avery give up his job when it’s clear Avery’s found his true purpose? Still, Dylan wishes he could, and the appearance of a new police detective who sets his sights on Avery only adds to the tension.

Something has to give, but stubbornness runs in both their veins, and it might take a catastrophe for them to find a compromise they can live with.

How about a delicious taste?

Running naked through the woods was exactly what Dylan Green needed. Thank the weather gods they’d held back the rain for the past few days. At least the ground was drier. Although wet forest floors didn’t matter to Dylan’s wolf. He was ready to stretch all four legs. It had been too long. Even longer since he’d run with his mate.

“Can you not get this heap to move any faster?” Avery practically vibrated off the seat next to him. Good thing he’d chosen the Firebird over his bike today.

“Hey now. Phoenix is not a heap.” Dylan patted the pristine dash, brushing over the treated wood with love. After glancing at the speedometer, he said, “We’re going the speed limit.” Which, yes, he knew was an anomaly for him, but only when he was on his bike. Phoenix required more finesse.

Before he could say anything else, Avery snorted and cut him off. “Phoenix?”

Unabashed, Dylan kept his focus on the road. “Firebird. Phoenix. Phe and I have been through a lot together. She’s pa—”

“Did you just nickname the car you call Phoenix? And dear God”—Dylan grinned at Avery’s pronunciation of God. It came out more like “Gawd.” He loved how Avery’s accent took over when he was teasing or passionate or angry—“please don’t tell me you’re about to say this mash of metal, oil, and leather is part of your family, our family. I do not, nor will I ever, claim a hunk of junk as a child. You can bet your ass I won’t be wiping its behind.”

That, in fact, was exactly what Dylan was going to say, but thinking about it at the moment, he had to admit how ridiculous it sounded out loud. Though he’d never say so to Avery.

Avery continued, “And let me guess, you talk to your baby.” Dylan could practically hear the giggle Avery was working so hard to suppress. “Does Phe talk back?”

The road up to Forest Park was narrow and curvy, so turning to look at Avery would have to wait. However, he did roll his eyes and reach over to pinch Avery’s thigh. “Don’t be ridiculous,” he said. “Cars don’t have verbal skills.” And, yes, he did talk to Phoenix, because until Avery came along, Phe had been the one thing in his life he’d pampered and taken care of that had never let him down. So what if he talked aimlessly to a vehicle? He’d worked hard to build her. That bond was unbreakable.

He thought of Avery, then amended himself. Almost unbreakable.

Phoenix was his baby. She had seen him through many tough times, and he had done the same for her, but there was no connection stronger than what linked Dylan and Avery. Sitting only inches away and not touching, Dylan still felt Avery like a second skin. So much so that, as he turned off the road to park near one of the forest trails, he felt Avery’s mirth in his bones. Without looking, he knew his mate would have a sparkle in his earthy hazel eyes and a smirk on the lips Dylan craved so much.

He even knew Avery would chuckle before he did, but that had more to do with knowing the man than an actual feeling.

“So what you’re saying is Phoenix doesn’t talk back when you ask how her day went?”

Dylan pulled into an available spot, turned off the engine, and opened his door. “You’re such a pain in the ass,” he replied with a wink and unfolded himself from the front seat.

“Aww”—Avery chased him from the car—“you say the nicest things.”

The brush of Avery’s palm over his ass had the ever-smoldering embers of need inside Dylan blazing to life, completely trumping the lighthearted teasing. How was it possible he wanted Avery more every day?

“You know,” Avery said in a low but conversational tone as they walked to where Lucas, Sawyer, and Kirk were parking their bikes. “I like it when you’re a pain in my ass. What do you say we blow this run and….” He trailed off, quirking his brow at the obvious.

Dylan groaned. Temptation had nothing on Avery Babineaux, and Dylan’s first instinct was to give in to the suggestion, but then he remembered why they were there in the first place.

In the months following Avery’s rescue from the warehouse and Melnyk’s entry into protective custody, Avery stayed true to his word. With help from one of Lucas’s ex-flings, Avery was currently a proud PI’s apprentice. It would still take months—many of them—for Avery to complete the hours of training needed to gain his own license, but he was well on his way. Corbin Reid, Lucas’s ex’s cousin, had taken Avery under his wing and in turn consumed most of his downtime. Dylan had only rare moments with his mate, depending on Avery’s busy work schedule—honeymoon phase or not. Visits to Wolfhound and even nightclubs with Avery were few and far between. Avery spent long hours immersing himself in the world of investigation and soaking up every little thing Reid was willing to teach. And when he wasn’t working, he was searching for Lacey.

By the time they’d broken the first link in the chain of the trafficking ring, Lacey had been missing four months. They had just crossed over into February, which made it six months, and from what they’d heard, the police were no closer to finding Lacey than Avery was. It didn’t help that Wallace, the shifter detective they’d been getting updates from, had gone silent once he transferred into the Human Trafficking Task Force.

While days turned into weeks and weeks into months, Avery hunted the dregs of every single lead he could scrounge up. Dylan watched helplessly as the effects of dead end after dead end weighed heavily on his mate. To say he felt useless was an understatement.

Then Mother Nature smiled down on them, with cloudless skies and sunshine in the middle of the wet season. It gave Dylan and Avery the opportunity for the one thing they both needed. Fun.

Dylan hadn’t enjoyed a run in weeks, and it had been longer since he’d played with Avery in the woods. A run was long overdue, and as great as a long hard fuck sounded right then, Dylan knew Avery’s hedgehog had to be aching for freedom too. Besides, having his mate naked and writhing under him was always a possibility when they got home.

Or in the car before they left the park. Dylan smiled, thankful he’d driven Phoenix, even on such a beautiful day. It was an inspired decision. He could definitely see some hot and dirty backseat action in his future.

Looking down, Dylan’s heart filled at the contented look on Avery’s face. All signs of worry and stress were vanquished for the moment. Dylan wondered, not for the first time, if they would ever have a break, ever have time to enjoy their new mating, or whether it would be a never-ending struggle, with outside forces constantly interfering.

“What?” Avery squinted, perplexed. Knowing Avery felt his concern warmed him.

Damn, Dylan didn’t think he’d ever get enough of his mate.

Avery’s nostrils flared, and Dylan knew he sensed his arousal as much as smelled it. He pulled Avery to him and brushed their lips together. As with most things between him and Avery, the kiss quickly deepened. Avery slipped his hand from Dylan’s hip to his chest and tweaked his nipple. Dylan groaned and pushed his tongue into Avery’s mouth, claiming what was already his. It was a battle of wills Dylan knew all too well as Avery’s perfectly orchestrated dance of want and desire balanced on a thin thread Dylan threatened to tear down each time. All of Avery’s taunting and flirting—it was foreplay, and Dylan could hardly wait for the fireworks. It was always worth the wait with Avery. Always.

“For the love of God, could you two get a room?” Lucas complained as he walked up. “Is it impossible to go five minutes without mauling each other?”

Dylan’s only response was a chuckle into Avery’s mouth as he pushed his fingers through Avery’s hair, holding him in place to prolong the kiss. He didn’t have to look to know Avery flipped off Lucas, mostly because he heard the laughter coming from their other friends.

When he pulled his mouth away, Dylan rested his forehead on Avery’s, breathing heavily. Christ, he loved the dazed, sated look Avery got when he was ready to drop to his knees, his cheeks flushed, and his lips swollen. All because of Dylan. Maybe Dylan should kick his own ass for not taking Avery up on his offer.

My Review:
Dylan and Avery have been together for a few months. Avery has moved into Dylan’s home and they are building a life together, but it’s not easy. Avery is working long hours in his training as a private investigator. He comes home late and doesn’t see Dylan a lot. Dylan’s very protective, and often shadows Avery when he’s out on a case–it’s caused friction in the past, but I think Avery is appreciating it more now. It’s almost a comfort. Well, it can be.

Avery’s still working on a side case, finding a trafficked shifter girl from Dylan’s pack, Lacey. It’s hard work as the main players in the case keep turning up dead. Plus, there’s issue with Avery’s family not liking Dylan–out of prejudice. Avery’s “invited” home for his brother’s wedding, and it’s not a pretty scene, but I loved their growing bond, and the real maturity Avery displayed in such a rough environment.

This book is not about the romance. There are a few sexytimes, which are nice and sexy, but that’s not the focus. Dylan and Avery have to build their relationship, which struggles due to conflicting schedules. Avery’s obsession with finding Lacey definitely puts him in trouble with his mate, and Dylan’s as understanding a wolf as one will find. There were times both Dylan and I wanted to shake Avery, not because he was deliberately mean or obtuse, but because he sacrificed so much of himself and the fruit of his labor was…nothing. The end of the book wraps so quickly, with a break in the case that leads to a seriously dramatic rescue. I felt like that was really well done, with all the proper foreshadowing in place. I loved how the resolution left us in little doubt that Avery and Dylan were going to make it in the long-term. There are some other sub-plots out there that concern secondary characters from this book finding their mates, so I expect to read more about those as the series progresses.

Interested? You can find PRICKLY BY NATURE on Goodreads, Dreamspinner Press ebook or paperback, Amazon AllRomance, and Barnes & Noble.

About the Authors:
Piper Vaughn wrote her first love story at eleven and never looked back. Since then, she’s known that writing in some form was exactly what she wanted to do. A reader at the core, Piper loves nothing more than getting lost in a great book—fantasy, young adult, romance, she loves them all (and has a two-thousand-book library to prove it!). She grew up in Chicago, in an ethnically diverse neighborhood, and loves to put faces and characters of every ethnicity in her stories, so her fictional worlds are as colorful as the real one. Above all, she believes that everyone needs a little true love in their life…even if it’s only in a book.

You can find Piper online on her website, Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

Kenzie Cade was born and raised in the South where she spends her days in the sometimes stressful field of private medicine observing interesting people and committing them to memory for later use. When she isn’t reading, experimenting with recipes, or being distracted by social media, Kenzie spends time with her family, friends, and the Pomeranian/Long-haired Chihuahua mix who likes to keep her company while she writes. As a young girl, Kenzie dreamed of princesses and their white knights. As an adult (or sort of adult), she dreams of princes and their proverbial white knights, which she attributes the fellow Arkansan S.E. Hinton and her novel The Outsiders. Writing to keep the fictional voices at bay, Kenzie enjoys the journeys her characters travel to find their happy endings, and she loves the challenge of writing a great love story.

Contact Kenzie at kenziecade.author (at) gmail (dot) com. You can also find her online at her blog, on Facebook, and on Twitter.

PRICKLY BY NATURE–Cover Reveal, Excerpt and Giveaway!

Hi there! Today I’m sharing the fantastic cover for PRICKLY BY NATURE. As you may remember, I adored PRICKLY BUSINESS, the first book in this M/M shifter mystery romance Portland Pack series that features a fated bond between a werewolf and a hedgehog shifter.

Dylan and Avery are back, and they are still fighting, sometimes each other…

Check out the beautiful cover, and there’s an extended excerpt to whet your whistle. Plus, a book and gift card giveaway! And you can pre-order PRICKLY BY NATURE in advance of it’s Nov 16th release.
PricklyByNatureFS
About the book:
In the four months since hedgehog shifter Avery Babineaux started investigating the disappearance of a young female werewolf from the Portland Pack, he’s discovered his life’s passion. Now he’s apprenticing under established PI Corbin Reid. Avery hopes his training with Reid will help him finally bring Lacey home, but detective work isn’t without its perils, and the potential dangers strain his relationship with his new mate, Dylan.

Dylan Green would be perfectly content with his mating and his motorcycle shop if it wasn’t for his constant worry about Avery’s safety and the fact that Avery’s never home. Proud as he might be of Avery’s determination to prove his worth and fulfill his promise to Lacey’s father, Dylan can’t stand the thought of Avery being hurt. Yet what right does he have to demand Avery give up his job when it’s clear Avery’s found his true purpose? Still, Dylan wishes he could, and the appearance of a new police detective who sets his sights on Avery only adds to the tension.

Something has to give, but stubbornness runs in both their veins, and it might take a catastrophe for them to find a compromise they can live with.

How about a delicious taste?

Running naked through the woods was exactly what Dylan Green needed. Thank the weather gods they’d held back the rain for the past few days. At least the ground was drier. Although wet forest floors didn’t matter to Dylan’s wolf. He was ready to stretch all four legs. It had been too long. Even longer since he’d run with his mate.

“Can you not get this heap to move any faster?” Avery practically vibrated off the seat next to him. Good thing he’d chosen the Firebird over his bike today.

“Hey now. Phoenix is not a heap.” Dylan patted the pristine dash, brushing over the treated wood with love. After glancing at the speedometer, he said, “We’re going the speed limit.” Which, yes, he knew was an anomaly for him, but only when he was on his bike. Phoenix required more finesse.

Before he could say anything else, Avery snorted and cut him off. “Phoenix?”

Unabashed, Dylan kept his focus on the road. “Firebird. Phoenix. Phe and I have been through a lot together. She’s pa—”

“Did you just nickname the car you call Phoenix? And dear God”—Dylan grinned at Avery’s pronunciation of God. It came out more like “Gawd.” He loved how Avery’s accent took over when he was teasing or passionate or angry—“please don’t tell me you’re about to say this mash of metal, oil, and leather is part of your family, our family. I do not, nor will I ever, claim a hunk of junk as a child. You can bet your ass I won’t be wiping its behind.”

That, in fact, was exactly what Dylan was going to say, but thinking about it at the moment, he had to admit how ridiculous it sounded out loud. Though he’d never say so to Avery.

Avery continued, “And let me guess, you talk to your baby.” Dylan could practically hear the giggle Avery was working so hard to suppress. “Does Phe talk back?”

The road up to Forest Park was narrow and curvy, so turning to look at Avery would have to wait. However, he did roll his eyes and reach over to pinch Avery’s thigh. “Don’t be ridiculous,” he said. “Cars don’t have verbal skills.” And, yes, he did talk to Phoenix, because until Avery came along, Phe had been the one thing in his life he’d pampered and taken care of that had never let him down. So what if he talked aimlessly to a vehicle? He’d worked hard to build her. That bond was unbreakable.

He thought of Avery, then amended himself. Almost unbreakable.

Phoenix was his baby. She had seen him through many tough times, and he had done the same for her, but there was no connection stronger than what linked Dylan and Avery. Sitting only inches away and not touching, Dylan still felt Avery like a second skin. So much so that, as he turned off the road to park near one of the forest trails, he felt Avery’s mirth in his bones. Without looking, he knew his mate would have a sparkle in his earthy hazel eyes and a smirk on the lips Dylan craved so much.

He even knew Avery would chuckle before he did, but that had more to do with knowing the man than an actual feeling.

“So what you’re saying is Phoenix doesn’t talk back when you ask how her day went?”

Dylan pulled into an available spot, turned off the engine, and opened his door. “You’re such a pain in the ass,” he replied with a wink and unfolded himself from the front seat.

“Aww”—Avery chased him from the car—“you say the nicest things.”

The brush of Avery’s palm over his ass had the ever-smoldering embers of need inside Dylan blazing to life, completely trumping the lighthearted teasing. How was it possible he wanted Avery more every day?

“You know,” Avery said in a low but conversational tone as they walked to where Lucas, Sawyer, and Kirk were parking their bikes. “I like it when you’re a pain in my ass. What do you say we blow this run and….” He trailed off, quirking his brow at the obvious.

Dylan groaned. Temptation had nothing on Avery Babineaux, and Dylan’s first instinct was to give in to the suggestion, but then he remembered why they were there in the first place.

In the months following Avery’s rescue from the warehouse and Melnyk’s entry into protective custody, Avery stayed true to his word. With help from one of Lucas’s ex-flings, Avery was currently a proud PI’s apprentice. It would still take months—many of them—for Avery to complete the hours of training needed to gain his own license, but he was well on his way. Corbin Reid, Lucas’s ex’s cousin, had taken Avery under his wing and in turn consumed most of his downtime. Dylan had only rare moments with his mate, depending on Avery’s busy work schedule—honeymoon phase or not. Visits to Wolfhound and even nightclubs with Avery were few and far between. Avery spent long hours immersing himself in the world of investigation and soaking up every little thing Reid was willing to teach. And when he wasn’t working, he was searching for Lacey.

By the time they’d broken the first link in the chain of the trafficking ring, Lacey had been missing four months. They had just crossed over into February, which made it six months, and from what they’d heard, the police were no closer to finding Lacey than Avery was. It didn’t help that Wallace, the shifter detective they’d been getting updates from, had gone silent once he transferred into the Human Trafficking Task Force.

While days turned into weeks and weeks into months, Avery hunted the dregs of every single lead he could scrounge up. Dylan watched helplessly as the effects of dead end after dead end weighed heavily on his mate. To say he felt useless was an understatement.

Then Mother Nature smiled down on them, with cloudless skies and sunshine in the middle of the wet season. It gave Dylan and Avery the opportunity for the one thing they both needed. Fun.

Dylan hadn’t enjoyed a run in weeks, and it had been longer since he’d played with Avery in the woods. A run was long overdue, and as great as a long hard fuck sounded right then, Dylan knew Avery’s hedgehog had to be aching for freedom too. Besides, having his mate naked and writhing under him was always a possibility when they got home.

Or in the car before they left the park. Dylan smiled, thankful he’d driven Phoenix, even on such a beautiful day. It was an inspired decision. He could definitely see some hot and dirty backseat action in his future.

Looking down, Dylan’s heart filled at the contented look on Avery’s face. All signs of worry and stress were vanquished for the moment. Dylan wondered, not for the first time, if they would ever have a break, ever have time to enjoy their new mating, or whether it would be a never-ending struggle, with outside forces constantly interfering.

“What?” Avery squinted, perplexed. Knowing Avery felt his concern warmed him.

Damn, Dylan didn’t think he’d ever get enough of his mate.

Avery’s nostrils flared, and Dylan knew he sensed his arousal as much as smelled it. He pulled Avery to him and brushed their lips together. As with most things between him and Avery, the kiss quickly deepened. Avery slipped his hand from Dylan’s hip to his chest and tweaked his nipple. Dylan groaned and pushed his tongue into Avery’s mouth, claiming what was already his. It was a battle of wills Dylan knew all too well as Avery’s perfectly orchestrated dance of want and desire balanced on a thin thread Dylan threatened to tear down each time. All of Avery’s taunting and flirting—it was foreplay, and Dylan could hardly wait for the fireworks. It was always worth the wait with Avery. Always.

“For the love of God, could you two get a room?” Lucas complained as he walked up. “Is it impossible to go five minutes without mauling each other?”

Dylan’s only response was a chuckle into Avery’s mouth as he pushed his fingers through Avery’s hair, holding him in place to prolong the kiss. He didn’t have to look to know Avery flipped off Lucas, mostly because he heard the laughter coming from their other friends.

When he pulled his mouth away, Dylan rested his forehead on Avery’s, breathing heavily. Christ, he loved the dazed, sated look Avery got when he was ready to drop to his knees, his cheeks flushed, and his lips swollen. All because of Dylan. Maybe Dylan should kick his own ass for not taking Avery up on his offer.

Wow! I am so looking forward to this sequel.

Interested? You can find PRICKLY BY NATURE on Goodreads and preorder it on Dreamspinner Press in advance of it’s Nov 16th release in ebook or paperback.

****GIVEAWAY****

Click on the Rafflecopter link below for your chance to win an ebook of Prickly By Nature and a $10 GC to Amazon, Barnes & Noble or AllRomance (winner’s choice!)
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Good luck and keep reading my friends!

About the Authors:
Piper Vaughn wrote her first love story at eleven and never looked back. Since then, she’s known that writing in some form was exactly what she wanted to do. A reader at the core, Piper loves nothing more than getting lost in a great book—fantasy, young adult, romance, she loves them all (and has a two-thousand-book library to prove it!). She grew up in Chicago, in an ethnically diverse neighborhood, and loves to put faces and characters of every ethnicity in her stories, so her fictional worlds are as colorful as the real one. Above all, she believes that everyone needs a little true love in their life…even if it’s only in a book.

You can find Piper online on her website, Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

Kenzie Cade was born and raised in the South where she spends her days in the sometimes stressful field of private medicine observing interesting people and committing them to memory for later use. When she isn’t reading, experimenting with recipes, or being distracted by social media, Kenzie spends time with her family, friends, and the Pomeranian/Long-haired Chihuahua mix who likes to keep her company while she writes. As a young girl, Kenzie dreamed of princesses and their white knights. As an adult (or sort of adult), she dreams of princes and their proverbial white knights, which she attributes the fellow Arkansan S.E. Hinton and her novel The Outsiders. Writing to keep the fictional voices at bay, Kenzie enjoys the journeys her characters travel to find their happy endings, and she loves the challenge of writing a great love story.

Contact Kenzie at kenziecade.author (at) gmail (dot) com. You can also find her online at her blog, on Facebook, and on Twitter.

Touchy Love in PRICKLY BUSINESS–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a recently released paranormal M/M mystery romance from Piper Vaughn and Kenzie Cade. PRICKLY BUSINESS is a fun shifter romance between fated mates of different species…a wolf shifter and a hedgehog! Omigosh, the book was sweet and sassy and funny and daring. I really enjoyed!

Prickly Business (Portland Pack Chronicles, #1)About the book:
Some people might call Avery Babineaux a prick. He’s a hedgehog shifter from an old-money Louisiana family with a penchant for expensive shoes and a reputation for being a judgmental snob. His attitude is why he and his fated mate are estranged. Not that Avery cares. He doesn’t want to be mated to some blue-collar werewolf anyway. Or so he keeps telling himself.

No werewolf likes to be looked down upon, least of all Dylan Green. He doesn’t need a mate, especially not some snotty hedgehog who sneers at his custom motorcycle shop and calls him a grease monkey. But when Avery gets into trouble with a shady loan shark, Dylan can’t stand by and let him be hurt—whether he wants the brat or not.

Yet once Dylan steps into Avery’s world, he realizes there’s more to Avery than his prickly exterior, and that unexpected vulnerability calls to Dylan’s protective instincts. The sassy little hedgehog needs a keeper, and despite their horrible first impressions, Dylan starts to believe he might be the wolf for the job.

My Review:
4.5 Stars for this M/M shifter mystery romance.

Avery and Dylan are both shifters living in Portland, Oregon. They have known each other for two years and should be happily mated except:
1. Dylan thinks true mates are miserable, case in point–his parents.
2. Avery is a hedgehog shifter, and was deeply offended when Dylan made fun of the idea of mating with such a lowly creature (Dylan is a respected wolf shifter).
3. Avery insulted Dylan after Dylan’s insult and now they mostly hate each other.

Avery is a bit of a spoiled brat. His parents give him a hefty monthly allowance which he blows on expensive clothes, personal yoga training and gourmet food. And still, he wagers on an illegal shifter race and finds himself $15K in the hole to a crime lord. Dylan hears of Avery’s predicament, and bails him out. He doesn’t have to, but he chooses to save his mate, even if they aren’t officially mated.

In the course of his money trouble, Avery’s parent’s cut off his allowance and Avery is begging for a job. The Portland Pack Alpha is Avery’s BFF Jaden’s father, and Avery is able to secure a pack job, bringing meals to shut-in shifters and driving them to appointments. It’s lowly, but Avery appreciates that he has more purpose than ever in his life.

In the meantime, Dylan and Avery recognize that their bond is becoming stronger of its own accord, and they should probably get to know one another to see if completing the mating ritual will be the biggest mistake evah. It’s quietly endearing, the way they date and barely touch. Dylan fears being forever glued to a mate he cannot stand, and seeks some advice from his mother. He decides to “go slow” and this is good and bad. We get a lot of tension, but Avery isn’t sure if Dylan’s really interested. Hedgehogs don’t have the same fated mates dynamic as wolves, so he figures Dylan is only invested from a wolf standpoint–and Avery doesn’t want to fall hard for sexy Dylan if it’s all one-sided.

I really did enjoy prickly Avery. He’s so tender on the inside and armored on the outside! Even his designer clothes are a form of protection, keeping others at bay. He gets over himself, and really starts thinking of others first as the plot unfolds. Yay!

The final 2/3 of the book involves a mystery surrounding the disappearance of a young female shifter, only daughter to one of Avery’s shut-ins. Avery vows to find the lost girl and gets dragged into an investigation of a human trafficking operation. Expect a lot of action and drama on this front. Dylan is a great guy, the kind of mate anyone, even Avery, would desire. And Avery’s desire is so attractive to Dylan that he’s drawn in, against his reticence.

There are some yummy sexytimes, though they happen in the second half of the book. I did like the slow burn, and the cautious moves into what Avery and Dylan understand will be a forever relationship. They treat each other with respect, though there is a bit of secret-keeping that drives that action in the climax.

Definitely rooting for these guy in the sequel. And the secondary characters are all super yum. Expecting to see them in their own books!

Interested? You can find PRICKLY BUSINESS on Goodreads, Dreamspinner (ebook), Dreamspinner (paperback), Amazon (ebook), Amazon (paperback), AllRomance, Kobo, Barnes & Noble.

About the authors:
Piper Vaughn wrote her first love story at eleven and never looked back. Since then, she’s known that writing in some form was exactly what she wanted to do. A reader at the core, Piper loves nothing more than getting lost in a great book—fantasy, young adult, romance, she loves them all (and has a two thousand book library to prove it!). She grew up in Chicago, in an ethnically diverse neighborhood, and loves to put faces and characters of every ethnicity in her stories, so her fictional worlds are as colorful as the real one. Above all, she believes that everyone needs a little true love in their life…even if it’s only in a book.

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

Kenzie Cade was born and raised in the South where she spends her days in the sometimes stressful field of private medicine observing interesting people and committing them to memory for later use. When she isn’t reading, experimenting with recipes, or being distracted by social media, Kenzie spends time with her family, friends, and the Pomeranian/long-haired Chihuahua mix who likes to keep her company while she writes. As a young girl, Kenzie dreamed of princesses and their white knights. As an adult (or sort of adult), she dreams of princes and their proverbial white knights, which she attributes to fellow Arkansan S.E. Hinton and her novel The Outsiders. Writing to keep the fictional voices at bay, Kenzie enjoys the journeys her characters travel to find their happy endings, and she loves the challenge of writing a great love story.

You can find Kenzie online on her website, Email, Facebook, Twitter, Google +, Tumblr and Pinterest.

Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends.

Christmas Read Round-Up…

Hi there! Today I’m catching up on all the Christmas reads I’ve read this fall. Some made the blog, others haven’t. Still, I’ve enjoyed these books, and hope you might find one (or three) to entertain you.

Hetero Romance

I adored Brenda Novak’s THE HEART OF CHRISTMAS. A great story about an unlikely couple finding love (and more) in Whiskey Creek.

In THE TROUBLE WITH CHRISTMAS a rich man finds a real holiday with a quiet, unassuming chef who pulls his coals from the fire. This is a novella.

Kat and Stone Bastion’s THREE CHRISTMASES is a steamy/sexy read.

A VERY MARRIED CHRISTMAS reunites an estranged couple on the brink of divorce. This one had a bit of steam, and a lot of heart.

Rivals find love in JUST IN TIME FOR CHRISTMAS. It’s a fun reconnection story about adults who had a teen attraction and come together to make it happen years later.

For those who want to reminisce over Christmases gone by, I loved 8-BIT CHRISTMAS about a boy growing up in the 1980’s and wishing for a Nintendo. It is not a romance, but it cracked me the heck up.

Super erotica from Lily Harlem–in the form of CHRISTMAS CRACKERS: CANDY CANES AND COAL DUST puts a downhearted woman at the center of a man-sandwich.

Kelly Jamieson’s THREE OF HEARTS features three country singers finding love…with each other. It’s a sexy menage.

HOLIDAY AT MAGNOLIA BAY is a nice military romance with a heart-warming familial reconciliation.

Gay Romance

Heidi Cullinan’s SLEIGH RIDE is a great M/M romance, with a super Christmas theme. I just adored this story, of a shy librarian and a out-and-proud lumberjack. D-Lish.

Charlie Cochet’s three novella North Pole series is sure worth checking out. MENDING NOEL, THE HEART OF FROST and VIXEN’S VALOR are building a well-landscaped world in the hinterland.

Cat Grant’s A YEAR IN THE LIFE begins a new series and a tender romance between a young, interracial couple.

Piper Vaughn’s THE WORKING ELF BLUES features a lonely man and the Christmas elf who loves him.

I just finished reading ONE HOLIDAY EVER AFTER which is a three novella compilation–and it’s fantastic. I haven’t had a chance to write a review for it, but oh! it’s a great read. I’ve attached the DREAMSPINNER LINK because it’s on sale there for 25% off. But you can also find it on Amazon.

Well, folks, that’s a good list to get started. I hope all who read this have a great holiday season and a Happy 2015!

As always, thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!

They Were Caught HOOK, LINE & SINKER–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m reviewing a Contemporary M/M Romance from a series that celebrates the working man. Piper Vaughn’s Hard Hats series is all about “regular Joes” who connect. I loved book one, WOOD SCREWS & NAILS, and couldn’t wait to get deeper into this series. There are no billionaires, no dramatic rescues, just ordinary work-a-day guys who meet, connect and find love. Which I adore. That they do this near my beloved Chicago? *swoon*

HOOK, LINE & SINKER is a tale of two childhood frenemies who meet again as adults and find the truth in the statement: There’s a thin line between love, and hate. (This is an ADULT read.)

Hook, Line, & Sinker (Hard Hats, #2)About the Book:
When they were teens, Castor McCormick was the bane of Blake Kowalski’s existence. Their mutual animosity led to summers filled with rivalry. Now, nearly two decades later, Cas is moving back into the neighborhood to live in his grandmother’s old house. Blake tells himself he isn’t interested in seeing how snarky little Cas grew up, but when his mother dupes him into visiting his former nemesis, he finds out “pretty” can evolve into “sexy as hell” on the right man.

Cas didn’t think he wanted to see Blake again. No one has ever pushed his buttons like the arrogant boy he remembers from their youth. Turns out, the adult version of Blake still gets him hot under the collar—and everywhere else. With Blake on leave from work to nurse an injured leg and Cas taking time to move and unpack, they form a tentative friendship that turns into a sexual affair neither man can deny. But when Cas’s job sends him out of state to deal with a difficult client, their new relationship will be tested, and if they fail, Blake’s broken leg might not be the only thing to end up scarred.

My Review:
Blake is a construction contractor and an impetuous man in his late 30s. A broken leg has him sidelined from work and staying back in his mom’s ranch home as he can’t quite manage the stairs to his three-flat condo in Chicago with the cast and crutches. While recuperating, Blake’s mom attempts to catch Blake up on all the neighborhood gossip. Turns out, the neighbor across the street has moved, selling her home to her grandson, Castor. Like Blake, Castor is gay. And, Blake cares not a whit, because Cas was a prissy, one-upper when they were kids and time has likely only made that worse….

Castor is a qualified professional, traveling the country to help upgrade Human Resources software and training new clients on its use and implementation. And, he’s sick of it. Well, he’s sick of traveling. He’s anxious to settle down–and buying his Gram’s outdated house is that first step. He’s also been promoted, which means less travel. Yay! He’s an active gay man, with good friends and some casual sex partners, but finding his childhood nemesis, Blake, on his doorstep, ready to add more than a coat of paint to the avocado green-era kitchen, isn’t the beginning of his new settled life…or so he thinks.

See, Blake was told Cas wanted help refurbing his fixer-upper. And Cas? Well, he wasn’t told anything. Polish mother plus Irish Grandmother. Can you hear the scheming? LET THE MATCHMAKING BEGIN!

These guys are really fun together. Their youth relationship still holds sway, for a bit. But, then they decide to just start over. And, they are smoking hot together. Neither expects to find love, but who can deny the fire between them. Besides, they do share some hobbies–like fishing, and watching baseball. They are fit, virile men, living across the street from each other, albeit temporarily, and they exploit the short commute from bed to bed with zeal. (Double Yay!)

When Cas decides to have a full remodel on his house, they are comfortable enough in what has developed between them to co-habitate Blake’s Wrigleyville condo, now that Blake’s cast is gone and he’s back to work. In fact, these guys are looking forward to a “trial run” of living together. Their chemistry has been great and well, they recognize that each could be THE ONE! for the other.

Then, Cas’s job comes crashing down. He’s got to satisfy an irate client by rebuilding a whole HR platform, onsite. In Colorado. It’s supposed to take 4 weeks. And he can come home for weekends. But, the weeks stretch on and job is only getting more complicated. Four weeks turns into six, and then eight, and then…. With absence stressing their fledgling relationship, can Cas and Blake make it work?

It’s a real romance, with solid characters and fun and flirty scenes. The smexytimes? OMG. Off the scale. Blake has to learn to get over his insecurity about infidelity, and Cas has to learn work/life balance–neither of which is easy for these men. I really enjoyed watching them step out of their boundaries. And I’m glad they were able to connect, and reconnect–even if it wasn’t easy. For all the “first love” stories out there, I do appreciate the effort of writing about mature men finding happiness. They have a lot of self-constructed hurdles to leap, which makes for a satisfying read.

This book brought back some characters from the first book in this series–WOOD SCREWS AND NAILS–which was really fun, and introduced us to charming new characters who will undoubtedly carry the next book. I received this book from the author; this is my honest review. I can’t wait to get her next release. /fangirl 😉

Interested? You can find HOOK, LINE, & SINKER on Goodreads, Dreamspinner Press, Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

About the author:
Piper Vaughn wrote her first love story at eleven and never looked back. Since then, she’s known that writing in some form was exactly what she wanted to do. A reader at the core, Piper loves nothing more than getting lost in a great book—fantasy, young adult, romance, she loves them all (and has a two thousand book library to prove it!). She grew up in Chicago, in an ethnically diverse neighborhood, and loves to put faces and characters of every ethnicity in her stories, so her fictional worlds are as colorful as the real one. Above all, she believes that everyone needs a little true love in their life…even if it’s only in a book.

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

Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends.