Coming to Terms with ICE ANGELS!–Review and Giveaway

Ice Angels Blitz BannerHi there! Today I’m sharing a review and #giveaway for a M/M contemporary hockey romance from life- and writing-partners Ryan Taylor and Joshua Harwood. ICE ANGELS is a standalone romance featuring two hockey stars on different teams trying to find a way to come out and love openly.  You can find these other hockey romances from the same authors:   THE NEW NEXT ONE which features two closeted hockey teammates and best friends finally revealing their true feelings, and finding love they never had expected at an all-boys college prep high school. This book is a bit of a prequel to NICE CATCHING YOU, a New Adult hockey romance which I really liked.

Ice Angels CoverAbout the book:

Drew and Cleevs love hockey, but they love each other more. How can the men find a way to save what matters most?

Todd Cleever and Drew Simon are crazy about each other. They started dating three years ago when “Cleevs” was a rookie defenseman for the Chicago Ice. Drew, the team’s captain, was a few years older than Cleevs. Both men were deep in the closet, but it didn’t take long for them to fall in love.

Cleevs was traded to the Bethesda Barracudas a year later, causing a heartbreaking separation. Ever since, they’ve skated around the problem with occasional stolen nights together and brief vacations under the guise of “friends,” but two years of living apart have taken their toll.

As the holiday approaches, Drew and Cleevs decide things have to change. Still, with their careers and two professional hockey teams in the way, how can they score the game-winning goal and save everything they cherish most?

If you like fierce love, a smallish age gap, exciting hockey, and a steely determination to make things work—not to mention enough steam to fog up all your windows and a fantastic HEA—this is the book for you. The novella contains about 43,000 words of sparkling holiday romance.

How about a little taste?

I arrived at the Hilton about three o’clock. Todd wasn’t due for another couple of hours, so I  took a shower and dressed in jeans and an Ice T-shirt. Afterward, I switched on the TV but was  too excited to be still, and I must have walked back and forth to the window a hundred times.  When the news came on, I settled into a chair to watch. Someone knocked on the door a few  minutes later.

Running over, I pulled it open, and there he was. Wearing a gray peacoat and matching  beanie, with a messenger bag slung over his shoulder, Todd looked like a Hollywood heartthrob.  He broke into a crooked grin.

“Hey.” My breath had caught in my throat, and I couldn’t get anything else out. “Hey.”

My pulse raced as my sight and hearing went into overdrive. I couldn’t tear my eyes away  from him.

“Drew? You think I could come in?”

“Oh yeah.” I grinned and stepped aside. “Please.”

He rolled his suitcase in and set it and his messenger bag beside the dresser while I made  sure the door was locked. When I turned, he placed a finger on the tip of my nose and traced it  down to my lips. “You get more beautiful every time I see you.”

“I’m so glad you’re here.”

He reached for me, and I relaxed into the safety of his arms. The relief of being held was  profound. As a hockey player and captain of all my teams since high school, I’d always had to be

strong. Before I met Todd, as a closeted gay man, I rarely had hookups because there was too  much risk of being recognized. When I occasionally met up with someone, what we did wasn’t  about affection or support; it was about getting off.

“Love you, Drew.

“Oh, Todd.” I nibbled his lip, and when he hugged me tighter and kissed me, the heavy  burden of my loneliness fell away. I relaxed for the first time in a while.

“I’m happy you could come and spend the night,” he whispered between kisses. I leaned back to look at him. His face was flushed, and his eyes were already dark with  arousal. Sliding a hand up his back, I cupped his head. His mouth twitched as I moved in, and he  moaned softly when our lips touched. I pressed against him, not ready for the moment to end but  needing more.

Slowly, he glided his hands down my back to my butt, and we teased each other. When he  licked my lips and probed softly, I opened for him. His tongue reassured me somehow, and I  sucked it while my senses did somersaults. Hints of cedarwood and iris, mixed with his soft  musk, surrounded me. We were both hard, and a thrill flickered up my spine as we rubbed our  cocks together. Tiny, needy sounds filled the air while we enjoyed a taste of what was to come. I  pulled away, took his hand, and started toward the bed. “Come with me.” He didn’t move, and I turned to look at him.

“I should shower. It’s been a long day, and I’m not at my freshest.”

Taking a step forward, I gave him another kiss and whispered, “I like you this way,  remember? My sweaty D-man.”

He gulped a breath. “Lead on, then.”

We took our time undressing each other. When I removed Todd’s shirt, I gaped at his  impressive physique as always: brawny arms, massive pecs, and a rippling six-pack. A large  tattoo, a beautiful depiction of a wolf in the forest, ran from the nape of his neck to the middle of  his back. Todd said it symbolized loyalty and family, as well as a willingness to become  ferocious to protect what was dear to him. He’d told me he wanted to have one about us done on  his chest—over his heart—and we’d design it together when our relationship was no longer a  secret.

My Review:

Todd Cleever and Drew Simon are professional hockey players who are also former teammates and current undercover lovers. Drew is the premier player in the league, and captain of the Chicago Ice where they were teammates for one year. Todd was traded after his rookie season and is currently an up-an-coming defenseman on the Bethesda Barracudas. There is about a 10 year age gap between them, and they have a long history. It was Drew who met Todd years before as a high school kid (at his own private alma mater) and who pointed Todd out to his own former college coaches–who later offered him a scholarship. Having been his former captain on the Ice, well, it’s all on the up-and-up but it COULD look shady to outsiders. Like Todd was “grooming” him or something.

So, they have TRIED to maintain a long-distance relationship that doesn’t raise any suspicion, but wow, its been three years, and a few of their close friends have come out without career issues during that time. In fact, Todd came out a few months back, and he doesn’t seem to have any struggles, except wanting to love Drew openly. And, really Drew wants this as well. Their families know, but their teammates do not, and they don’t want the season to get awkward if they declare themselves a couple.

This is a sweet and sexy established couple romance, with two good guys finding a path to happiness. Todd is afraid for Drew to come out, have a bad experience, and later resent him–and besides, they still live hundreds of miles apart. But Drew is a planner and he’s got an idea that would unite them both within a metropolitan area–if he can get an old pal to agree to a trade–and Todd to stop worrying about his love, which is rock solid in Drew’s mind.

This book is really sports-focused, and the pace is sometimes slowed by action in the league, but also by Todd and Drew’s own reticence. It’s also taking place in the run-up to Christmas, but doesn’t have the “holiday book” feel as the central plot is really on the coming, and the hockey. Christmas seemed like an afterthought, by comparison. Expect a lot of steamy reunions, and stolen moments, and friends who are the ultimate in supporters. I liked how Todd and Drew came out on their own terms, and how their love was strong enough to weather such long separations. It’s a definite HEA for all.

Interested? You can find ICE ANGELS on Goodreads, Bookbub, and Amazon.

****GIVEAWAY****

Click on this Rafflecopter giveaway link to enter to win a $25 Amazon gift card.

Good luck and keep reading my friends.

About the Authors:
Ryan Taylor and Joshua Harwood met in law school and were married in 2017. They live in a suburb of Washington, DC, and enjoy travel, friends, dogs, and advocating for causes dear to their hearts. Josh and Ryan love writing, and the romance they were so lucky to find with each other inspires their stories about love between out and proud men.

You can catch up with Ryan and Joshua on their website, Goodreads, and twitter.

Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!

Steamy!! THE JOCK SCRIPT–Audiobook Review and Giveaway!

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a brand new contemporary M/M romance audiobook from Lane Hayes. THE JOCK SCRIPT is the third book in her new The Script Club series, and features a genius astrophysicist who inexplicably ends up tutoring a bicurious lacrosse coach in gay sex. You can catch my review for earlier books in the series, FOLLOWING THE RULES and RULES OF PLAY, but this one is fine read as a standalone, too. I loved the audiobook, which is sooo steamy.

Drop down to catch my review and enter for a chance to win a $25 Amazon GC.

About the book:

The nerd, the coach, and the hookup…

Asher-

Swipe left, swipe left, swipe left. Sure, the idea of a quick, no-strings intimate rendezvous via hookup app sounds oddly thrilling, but it’s simply not me. Or maybe it is me, because it happened…and I liked it. Until I realized he looked familiar for a reason. A bad reason. Now I’ve made a faux pas with the sexiest man on planet Earth, and my internal karma system requires me to fix it. Help!

Blake-

I may seem like I have it together, but the truth is, I’m a hot mess. I’m so deep in the closet that I can’t remember my real name some days. That’s okay. The benefit of one-night stands is anonymity. Until Asher. Not a total surprise. I’ve always had a thing for geeks, but I’ve never met anyone like him. He’s a pint-sized dynamo on a quest for perfection who can help me come out…if I follow his script.

Hmm. I’m in.

The Jock Script is an MM bisexual, geek/jock romance starring a bowtie wearing nerd, a sexy lacrosse coach, and a shenanigan inducing script!

How about a little taste?

Asher closed his mouth in a tight line and sighed. “We should change the topic. Every time I’m with you, I secure my spot in Hades.”

I threw my head back and laughed. “What’s with you and the guilty conscience? I admire your commitment to honesty, Ash, but I don’t think it’s healthy to punish yourself after the fact. Not to mention, your rules seem arbitrary. They don’t make sense.”

“Sure, they do.”

“Hmph. You say sex is a part of nature, and you’re happy to discuss it until your internal sex-o-meter overloads and you decide you’ve overstepped some invisible boundary. It’s like you want to punish yourself for no good reason.”

Asher opened and closed his mouth. “I don’t do that.”

I polished off my salad, pushed my plate aside, and reached for my wineglass. “Yeah, you do. You should give yourself a break once in a while.”

“Says the devil incarnate.”

“Who me?” I flashed a roguish grin. “I’m not so bad, and you don’t have to be so good. Is this the remnants of a super religious upbringing or—”

“Oh, gosh, no. My mother is a hippie. She’s not judgmental at all.”

“Then why—”

“I’m just weird, Blake.”

His tone was firm rather than sharp and sent a strong message that he’d prefer to drop the subject. In fact, he looked suspiciously eager to greet the waiter when he returned to clear our salad dishes and set dinner plates on the table. I observed his animated hand gestures, his starched collar, and perfectly straight bow tie, wondering what he was hiding under all that armor.

Asher wasn’t weird, he was—okay, fine…he was totally weird. But I had a feeling he was compensating too. Making up for something or glossing over an unseen flaw. Sort of like a kid standing guard over a lamp he’d busted by accident. No one would notice as long as he made sure the unblemished side was never shown.

Call me crazy, but that got me. Yes, I was very attracted to him and definitely wanted to get naked and horizontal with him ASAP. But I wanted to know him too. I wanted to peel away his protective layers and study his quirks. His internal system of checks and balances fascinated me.

I twirled my fork around my pasta and smiled. “You know, I’m no devil and anyone who sucks dick like you cannot be an angel. There’s got to be a good middle ground for us.”

“Yes. As friends.”

“Right,” I agreed, shifting in my seat to adjust my cock when he hummed around a mouthful of pasta. No joke, my dick woke up at the mention of alien sex and was now stretching the seam of my zipper. I sipped my wine and willed my body to get the “friend” memo. “So, buddy…since we’re supposed to be spending time together now, I think you should come to my game next weekend.”

“Game,” he repeated, drawing out the single syllable into two. “The one you coach? Or do you play also?”

“I play with a club team, but our season ended a couple of weeks ago. We’re on a break till summer, which is fine ’cause my kids have finals and my girls’ team is in the last stretch before CIFs.”

“I don’t understand that acronym, but I’ll come to your game and maybe afterward we can do power tool…things.”

“Sounds like a date. The game is at ten at Westgate. I’ll text you the address.”

“Okay. I have questions, like…where do I sit and what should I wear? Also, what are the rules?”

I smiled. “Sit wherever you want and wear whatever you want. The idea is to have fun. Well…and to kick OC Lutheran’s ass. As for the rules…the goal is to put the ball in the net more times than our opponent. You’ll be able to follow along.”

He didn’t look convinced. “I’ll do some research. Now, what about us? Do you want me to be there and not speak or…are you going to introduce me? And if so, what will you say? I need to rehearse my lines.”

“Lines? This isn’t a play, Ash. We’re friends.”

“No, we’re not. We hardly know each other.”

I frowned. “Then we need to fix that ’cause I’m going to introduce you as my friend. It’s less complicated that way.”

“And if someone asks where we met, I’m allowed to improvise, correct?” he teased. taking a big bite of pasta.

Too big of a bite. He slurped a rogue piece of tagliatelle with wide eyes, then covered his mouth with his napkin. It was pretty freaking cute. I pointed at the sauce on his cheek.

When he swiped at the wrong side, I hooked my finger and motioned for him to lean in. I wiped his cheek with my thumb, underestimating the intimacy of the gesture. The strong current of heat and desire sizzling between us threw me off guard, rendering me speechless.

My Review:

Asher and Blake are an odd couple matched up out of lust. They find each other on a hook up app, because Asher needs some release, and Blake is exploring his closeted bi side. Blake is a jock. a lacrosse coach and Asher is am astrophysicist. They shouldn’t work, but Blake is so intrigued by Asher’s fearless knowing of himself, and his quest for “perfection”. Blake feels like a bad guy because he’s always had issues settling with a person, while questioning his sexuality. And, Asher’s attitude is so refreshing that he asks him for tips on coming out. While they have lots and lots of sex, developing a friendship though hooking up and then getting more invested in their emotions as the time progresses

This story is really fun and upbeat, and the audiobook brings that same energy. Narrator Alexander Cendese renders clear voices, with plenty of range for the few female parts as well. Asher sounds a little pompous, snarky and stuffy, while Blake is a bit jock-dude-bro sounding. In the moments of passion, it’s just as steamy as anyone could hope for, and the urgency and release is palpable. At just under 6 hours, the pacing is just right and the book kept me company for a few longer car rides and some pre-bedtime stories. I liked the novel and I really thought the narration brought all the characters to life that made me like it even more.

Interested? You can find THE JOCK SCRIPT on Goodreads, Amazon, and Audible.

****GIVEAWAY****

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

About the Author:
Lane Hayes loves a good romance! An avid reader from an early age, she has always been drawn to well-told love story with beautifully written characters. Her debut novel was a 2013 Rainbow Award finalist and subsequent books have received Honorable Mentions, and were winners in the 2016, 2017, and 2018-2019 Rainbow Awards.

She loves red wine, chocolate and travel (in no particular order). Lane lives in Southern California with her amazing husband in a not quite empty nest.

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


Cover Reveal for ICE ANGELS!

Ice Angels Reveal BannerHi there! Today I’m sharing a cover reveal for a M/M contemporary hockey romance from life- and writing-partners Ryan Taylor and Joshua Harwood. ICE ANGELS will release October 29th.  You can find these other hockey romances from the same authors:   THE NEW NEXT ONE which features two closeted hockey teammates and best friends finally revealing their true feelings, and finding love they never had expected at an all-boys college prep high school. This book is a bit of a prequel to NICE CATCHING YOU, a New Adult hockey romance which I really liked.

Ice Angels CoverAbout the book:

Drew and Cleevs love hockey, but they love each other more. How can the men find a way to save what matters most?

Todd Cleever and Drew Simon are crazy about each other. They started dating three years ago when “Cleevs” was a rookie defenseman for the Chicago Ice. Drew, the team’s captain, was a few years older than Cleevs. Both men were deep in the closet, but it didn’t take long for them to fall in love.

Cleevs was traded to the Bethesda Barracudas a year later, causing a heartbreaking separation. Ever since, they’ve skated around the problem with occasional stolen nights together and brief vacations under the guise of “friends,” but two years of living apart have taken their toll.

As the holiday approaches, Drew and Cleevs decide things have to change. Still, with their careers and two professional hockey teams in the way, how can they score the game-winning goal and save everything they cherish most?

If you like fierce love, a smallish age gap, exciting hockey, and a steely determination to make things work—not to mention enough steam to fog up all your windows and a fantastic HEA—this is the book for you. The novella contains about 43,000 words of sparkling holiday romance.

Interested? You can find ICE ANGELS on Goodreads and pre-order it on Amazon. in advance of its release on Oct 29th. I’ll have a review out around then, I think.

About the Authors:
Ryan Taylor and Joshua Harwood met in law school and were married in 2017. They live in a suburb of Washington, DC, and enjoy travel, friends, dogs, and advocating for causes dear to their hearts. Josh and Ryan love writing, and the romance they were so lucky to find with each other inspires their stories about love between out and proud men.

You can catch up with Ryan and Joshua on their website, Goodreads, and twitter.

Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!

Rebound Love THE JOCK SCRIPT– Review and Giveaway!

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a brand new contemporary M/M romance from Lane Hayes. THE JOCK SCRIPT is the third book in her new The Script Club series, and features a genius astrophysicist who inexplicably ends up tutoring a bicurious lacrosse coach in gay sex. You can catch my review for earlier books in the series, FOLLOWING THE RULES and RULES OF PLAY, but this one is fine read as a standalone, too.

Drop down to catch my review and enter for a chance to win a $25 GC.

About the book:

The nerd, the coach, and the hookup…

Asher-

Swipe left, swipe left, swipe left. Sure, the idea of a quick, no-strings intimate rendezvous via hookup app sounds oddly thrilling, but it’s simply not me. Or maybe it is me, because it happened…and I liked it. Until I realized he looked familiar for a reason. A bad reason. Now I’ve made a faux pas with the sexiest man on planet Earth, and my internal karma system requires me to fix it. Help!

Blake-

I may seem like I have it together, but the truth is, I’m a hot mess. I’m so deep in the closet that I can’t remember my real name some days. That’s okay. The benefit of one-night stands is anonymity. Until Asher. Not a total surprise. I’ve always had a thing for geeks, but I’ve never met anyone like him. He’s a pint-sized dynamo on a quest for perfection who can help me come out…if I follow his script.

Hmm. I’m in.

The Jock Script is an MM bisexual, geek/jock romance starring a bowtie wearing nerd, a sexy lacrosse coach, and a shenanigan inducing script!

How about a little taste?

Asher closed his mouth in a tight line and sighed. “We should change the topic. Every time I’m with you, I secure my spot in Hades.”

I threw my head back and laughed. “What’s with you and the guilty conscience? I admire your commitment to honesty, Ash, but I don’t think it’s healthy to punish yourself after the fact. Not to mention, your rules seem arbitrary. They don’t make sense.”

“Sure, they do.”

“Hmph. You say sex is a part of nature, and you’re happy to discuss it until your internal sex-o-meter overloads and you decide you’ve overstepped some invisible boundary. It’s like you want to punish yourself for no good reason.”

Asher opened and closed his mouth. “I don’t do that.”

I polished off my salad, pushed my plate aside, and reached for my wineglass. “Yeah, you do. You should give yourself a break once in a while.”

“Says the devil incarnate.”

“Who me?” I flashed a roguish grin. “I’m not so bad, and you don’t have to be so good. Is this the remnants of a super religious upbringing or—”

“Oh, gosh, no. My mother is a hippie. She’s not judgmental at all.”

“Then why—”

“I’m just weird, Blake.”

His tone was firm rather than sharp and sent a strong message that he’d prefer to drop the subject. In fact, he looked suspiciously eager to greet the waiter when he returned to clear our salad dishes and set dinner plates on the table. I observed his animated hand gestures, his starched collar, and perfectly straight bow tie, wondering what he was hiding under all that armor.

Asher wasn’t weird, he was—okay, fine…he was totally weird. But I had a feeling he was compensating too. Making up for something or glossing over an unseen flaw. Sort of like a kid standing guard over a lamp he’d busted by accident. No one would notice as long as he made sure the unblemished side was never shown.

Call me crazy, but that got me. Yes, I was very attracted to him and definitely wanted to get naked and horizontal with him ASAP. But I wanted to know him too. I wanted to peel away his protective layers and study his quirks. His internal system of checks and balances fascinated me.

I twirled my fork around my pasta and smiled. “You know, I’m no devil and anyone who sucks dick like you cannot be an angel. There’s got to be a good middle ground for us.”

“Yes. As friends.”

“Right,” I agreed, shifting in my seat to adjust my cock when he hummed around a mouthful of pasta. No joke, my dick woke up at the mention of alien sex and was now stretching the seam of my zipper. I sipped my wine and willed my body to get the “friend” memo. “So, buddy…since we’re supposed to be spending time together now, I think you should come to my game next weekend.”

“Game,” he repeated, drawing out the single syllable into two. “The one you coach? Or do you play also?”

“I play with a club team, but our season ended a couple of weeks ago. We’re on a break till summer, which is fine ’cause my kids have finals and my girls’ team is in the last stretch before CIFs.”

“I don’t understand that acronym, but I’ll come to your game and maybe afterward we can do power tool…things.”

“Sounds like a date. The game is at ten at Westgate. I’ll text you the address.”

“Okay. I have questions, like…where do I sit and what should I wear? Also, what are the rules?”

I smiled. “Sit wherever you want and wear whatever you want. The idea is to have fun. Well…and to kick OC Lutheran’s ass. As for the rules…the goal is to put the ball in the net more times than our opponent. You’ll be able to follow along.”

He didn’t look convinced. “I’ll do some research. Now, what about us? Do you want me to be there and not speak or…are you going to introduce me? And if so, what will you say? I need to rehearse my lines.”

“Lines? This isn’t a play, Ash. We’re friends.”

“No, we’re not. We hardly know each other.”

I frowned. “Then we need to fix that ’cause I’m going to introduce you as my friend. It’s less complicated that way.”

“And if someone asks where we met, I’m allowed to improvise, correct?” he teased. taking a big bite of pasta.

Too big of a bite. He slurped a rogue piece of tagliatelle with wide eyes, then covered his mouth with his napkin. It was pretty freaking cute. I pointed at the sauce on his cheek.

When he swiped at the wrong side, I hooked my finger and motioned for him to lean in. I wiped his cheek with my thumb, underestimating the intimacy of the gesture. The strong current of heat and desire sizzling between us threw me off guard, rendering me speechless.

My Review:
Asher is an out-gay astrophysicist with a physical need and a healthy sex drive. He may be a nerd, but he’s definitely got skills, honed by years and years of sexual exploration. He’s never had shame or fear, accepted by his mother, a psychologist, from before he really recognized his attraction. While looking for a no-strings hook-up partner, Asher connects with Blake, a tall, built athletic bed partner, with whom he shares some awesome sexytimes. He’s not sure why he looks so familiar, even if they’d never met before.

He’s not really about repeats, but Blake, a stalwart Star Wars fan and closeted bisexual lacrosse coach, reaches out for a Round 2 and that’s when Asher connects the sense of deja vu with horror: Blake was the closet-case his good friend and housemate Topher fell hard for a year before, only Toph thought his name was Jake… And, boy does Asher give Blake what-for, defending Topher’s honor. But Blake won’t let Asher disappear without explaining his misunderstanding, and well, asking for a big favor.

Blake sees how natural and genuine Asher is, unafraid to live an out life. He wants to learn how to come out, and thinks that Asher can coach him, and they can keep exploring their intense chemistry. Asher’s temper might be a supernova, but Blake has tickled his organization bone, and he’s swiftly assembling a plan, with the help of his mother’s counsel, for Balke to come out. If not for himself, to give support to his goalie who’s recently come out as lesbian. Blake has some struggles with an old female ex, only because he’s not sure how to trust her with his truth–or anyone for that matter. But Asher’s continued coaching is helping him turn the tide. Having a sexy-nerd boyfriend can do that for you.

Expect sweet and sexy moments, with Asher getting way more in deep than he’d anticipated, and Blake loving Asher’s struggle for perfection. They each have a great backstory, and loving families. Their journey into couplehood is swift and engaging. I really liked it and look forward to the next book in the series.

Interested? You can find THE JOCK SCRIPT on Goodreads and Amazon.

****GIVEAWAY****

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

About the Author:
Lane Hayes loves a good romance! An avid reader from an early age, she has always been drawn to well-told love story with beautifully written characters. Her debut novel was a 2013 Rainbow Award finalist and subsequent books have received Honorable Mentions, and were winners in the 2016, 2017, and 2018-2019 Rainbow Awards.

She loves red wine, chocolate and travel (in no particular order). Lane lives in Southern California with her amazing husband in a not quite empty nest.

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


Coming Out? Or PLAYING IT SAFE? A Review

Hi there! Today I’m excited to share a review for a M/M sports romance from new-to-me author Amy Andrews. PLAYING IT SAFE is this author’s first foray into writing M/M romance, though it’s the 7th book in her Sydney Smoke rugby romance series and she’s a USA bestseller in straight romance.

Playing it safeAbout the book:

Donovan Bane loves playing rugby for the Sydney Smoke. And if that means he has to keep his sexuality a secret, that’s a sacrifice he’s prepared to make. At least until after he retires, anyway. He doesn’t want to be the first pro rugby player in Australia to officially come out while still playing. The team doesn’t need the media shit storm and he’d rather be known for his footy skills. Which means no dating, no relationships, no sex. Nothing but playing ball.

Until one man suddenly changes everything…

Beckett Stanton is out and proud—and not looking for a guy who isn’t. Been there, done that, complete disaster. Unfortunately, on the first day of his new job working for the Sydney Smoke, he locks eyes with Donovan Bane and he’s a goner. Big, gruff, and athletic isn’t usually Beck’s type, but for some reason this man is ticking all his boxes. And it’s clear the feeling is mutual. It’s also clear that Donovan is not out, and doesn’t plan to be anytime soon. Still, Beck can’t resist being the man to show Donovan everything he’s been missing.

For the first time, Donovan doesn’t play it safe and allows himself to indulge in things with Beck he knows he can’t have. But when their relationship gets serious, he knows he has to choose between the career he loves and the man he loves, because how can he possibly have both?

My Review:

Donovan Bane is a stud of an elite rugby player, a star on the Sydney Smoke pro team. He’s a mountain of a man, half-Maori and bearing the tattoos of his lineage. He’s also a closeted gay man, divorced from his best friend, and father of a 14 year old daughter he loves more than life. Afraid that his career would suffer, he married his high school girlfriend, hiding his sexuality in his relationship. He’d pursued his true attraction only once, and it was a disaster. His ex-wife knows his sexuality–now–and she keeps his secret because she’s a good woman. But, she’d expressed issues with him coming out while their daughter is young, in case kids at school torment her because of it. And, well, being a high profile player means that there will be blow-back. Anyway, Donovan has never met a man he wants to come out for, anyway, until he meets Beckett.

Beckett Stanton is freshly out of a relationship and has just taken a new position in the finance division for the Smoke. He’s on the job a week before he meets Donovan, and boy is he impressed–with his body. And then his play. And, well, his kindness. Donovan, despite the dangerous attraction he feels for Beckett, spends time with the man after helping him with a flat bike tire in a rainstorm. The more time they spend together, the more they want one another, yet, Donovan is reticent to even dip his toe into physical intimacy because he recognizes it’s a slippery slope. There has never been an active out rugby player in Australia, and he doesn’t want to be the first. The problem is Beckett’s out. And, being around Beckett–while amazing and fulfilling–could jeopardize Donovan’s carefully curated straight persona.

This was an interesting book for reasons that didn’t necessarily pertain to the romance. First, I love sports romance in general. And, I’m always interested in interracial romances, and other cultures. We got a little peek into his Moari culture, and I loved learning a little more about Australia, through the eyes of both Donovan and Beckett. Their relationship is the focal point of the book, even as Donovan continues to deny himself. Beckett is willing to indulge himself a little, as a gay tutor for Donovan, but they both catch feelings pretty quickly.

For me, there seemed to be a lot of talk around the potential for Donovan to come out, and how that could never ever happen. It took up a lot of page time, and was the basis of conflict. Despite knowing that Donovan’s ex was his best friend we never actually have her on the page counseling him. And Miri, his beloved daughter, is only present in the epilogue on page. Donovan’s most fraught moments around coming out were all off page, and that was disappointing. I liked how Becket and Donovan interacted, especially as they connect in friendly ways, but I felt the pacing could have been better. Instead of mooning about, reflecting on every instance of intense arousal there could have been more moments of actual frank discussion abut their developing friendship, and the implications of their growing attraction.

I did enjoy Donovan’s sexual awakening, and both Donovan and Beckett seem like good guys. They genuinely seem to care about one another, even in the short time they spend. I wished we had more time seeing them do more than just hang out in their homes. It was also good to see the allies come out in force to stand beside Donovan.

Interested? You can find PLAYING IT SAFE on Goodreads, Barnes & Noble and Amazon. I read a review copy courtesy of NetGalley.

****GIVEAWAY****

Click on the Rafflecopter giveaway link to enter to win a $15 Amazon GC.

About the Author:

Amy is an award-winning, USA Today best-selling Aussie author who has written seventy plus contemporary romances in both the traditional and digital markets.

Her books bring all the feels from sass, quirk and laughter to emotional grit and panty-melting heat.

She loves good books and great booze although she’ll take mediocre booze if there’s nothing else. For many, many years she was a registered nurse which means she knows things. Anatomical things. And she’s not afraid to use them!

She recently took a sea change and lives by the ocean with her husband of 29 years.

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

Teen Love THE NEW NEXT ONE–Review and Giveaway!

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review and giveaway for a Teen M/M contemporary romance from life- and writing-partners Ryan Taylor and Joshua Harwood. THE NEW NEXT ONE features two closeted hockey teammates and best friends finally revealing their true feelings, and finding love they never had expected at an all-boys college prep high school. This book is a bit of a prequel to NICE CATCHING YOU, a New Adult hockey romance which I really liked. Other stories from these authors that I’ve enjoyed include WHAT HE REALLY NEEDS and TOO CLOSE TO THE FLAME.

Scroll down for an excerpt and to enter the giveaway for a $25 GC.
About the book:
How much are you willing to give up for the man you love?

Best friends Nick Johnson and Tyler Jensen seem to have the world by the tail. The eighteen-year-old stars of their school’s hockey team are looking forward to playing in college and hoping for careers with the pros.

Nick and Tyler know a lot about each other, but there are a few important details they haven’t discussed. To start with, neither man knows the other is gay. Making things interesting, Nick has a massive crush on Tyler, something he’s kept to himself for a long time. And although he’s never said a word about it, Tyler has wanted to date Nick since they met.

On a cold Minnesota night after a big win, Tyler finds the courage to confess his feelings to Nick. When Nick admits his attraction to Tyler, their relationship turns on a dime. As they fall in love, they skate around the challenges of a secret romance in an all-male boarding school, but what will happen when the stakes rise dramatically in a sport not known for being gay-friendly? Will Nick and Tyler make the easy choice or the hard one?

The New Next One is a 20,000-word, new adult, friends-to-lovers romance featuring young athletes, plenty of steam, and a lot of emotion. The events of this book precede those told in the authors’ book Nice Catching You.

How about a little taste?

The two of us bundled up and walked south along the lakeshore. We talked about different things—school, what was going on in the NHL, and the big celebration of our championship that would happen the next week when everyone was back on campus. Ty reached for my hand after we passed the cabin. Even with both of us wearing mittens, it felt incredibly good to be out walking on a beautiful day, openly showing affection with my boyfriend. By the time you’re eighteen, holding hands with somebody you’re dating probably doesn’t seem exciting to most people; for me, it was huge, and I wanted to shout out loud. Instead, I pulled us to a stop and kissed him.

Afterward, he tweaked my nose. “I know everybody we play against thinks you’re a real bastard, but you’re actually a sweetheart.”

I gave it right back to him. “They all think you’re a bastard too. Haven’t decided where I stand on that.”

“What do you mean?” He turned his head to the side, looking very cute with tufts of hair sticking out from under his Penguins beanie. “I’ve always been nice to you.”

“I guess so.” I gave him another peck. “Why’d you make me wait all these years?”

I made you wait? Hell, I’m the one who finally worked up enough courage to do something about it.”

Turning him loose, I backhanded his arm and made a silly face. “I guess I’m glad about that.”

His jaw fell into an open-mouthed smile, and he shook his head. “Every man for himself, Johnson!”

He took off running, and I laughed hard as he bent over to pick up a fistful of snow. Quickly shaping it into a ball, he threw it at me and missed by a mile.

“You throw like a girl, Jensie!” I followed that up with a snowball of my own, hitting him in the middle of the chest.

“That’s it, you’re really gonna get it now!”

An epic snowball fight followed as we whooped and hollered, tossing chirps back and forth almost as fast as we volleyed snowballs. We worked our way into the woods as we ran. Ty was a good shot, and we played like little boys on recess after a hard morning at school. When we were both covered with snow and out of breath, Tyler stared at me until my heart raced with anticipation. Finally, he broke into a run. His hug was bone-crushing, and the hungry kisses were messy and delicious. The moment was all fire and promise, and I couldn’t wait to get back to the dorm. He pulled away from my mouth and mumbled, “You’re the most beautiful thing I ever saw, Nick.”

I huffed in cold air while my heart tried to hammer through my ribcage. “Not as beautiful as you.” I pulled him closer for a slow, deep kiss, and when that finally broke, he got a naughty gleam in his eye.

“We’re already covered with snow, so—” He pushed hard, and I tumbled backward into a snowbank. He jumped on top of me, and we wrestled around, making out while we laughed and played. My scarf slipped out of place, and Ty kissed my throat over and over, making me as hard as one of the trees surrounding us. After more rolling around, I was on top, and we lay humping in the snow. We had on heavy parkas, and it was too cold to take off any clothes, so our game was destined to end in frustration. All the better for a mind-blowing first time later that night.

We’d long since removed our mittens, and when we stilled, I wiped some snow off his cheek. “I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I’ve never felt this way before.”

“Nothing’s wrong, Nick. Everything’s right for once. We’ve got each other.”

My Review:
Nick and Tyler are both seniors in high school at a Catholic boys prep in Minnesota. They play on the once lauded hockey team, and are both closeted–even to each other. They are so afraid of letting anyone know their secrets, that they are both emotionally isolated.

Tyler finally drops some rather ribald hints that turn Nick’s thoughts in the direction that he might be interested in more then their deep friendship. Could Tyler be interested in him…that way? Nick is nervous to have any contact that could harm their relationship, but what if they could have something special… And how can they keep it on the down-low from the rest of their teammates?

This book felt really more upper YA than New Adult, with the students being in high school, and them looking forward to college. Their schemes to find alone time and practice their sexytimes felt appropriately juvenile to the ages of the characters. There is a little complication with a teammate who is inordinately inquisitive, but it doesn’t take long to sort those out. We have a heads up that this boyhood romance is not built to last, because Nick is the protaganist of a fully NA M/M romance that came out a few months back. It was sweet to see him actually find connection, and it was clear how much Nick really needs to live his truth–to have a boyfriend who truly cares for him, to feel whole.

Expect first times and heart-felt confessions. Expect promises made and plans to change. For an athlete-based romance there isn’t an enormous amount of sport in the book, more along the lines of athlete-adjacent situations like training facilities and locker rooms and sweaty encounters. The plans Nick and Tyler make are those of boys, hopeful and irrepressible, and totally unsuited to the new and unexpected paths they are meant to walk. It’s bittersweet watching their romance build, and then wane, as they come of age and enter college. There is a good resolution, and knowing that Nick does find a solid partner later into college, helps take the sting from first love.

Interested? You can find THE NEW NEXT ONE 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 Authors:
Ryan Taylor and Joshua Harwood met in law school and were married in 2017. They live in a suburb of Washington, DC, and enjoy travel, friends, dogs, and advocating for causes dear to their hearts. Josh and Ryan love writing, and the romance they were so lucky to find with each other inspires their stories about love between out and proud men.

You can catch up with Ryan and Joshua on their website, Goodreads, and twitter.

Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!

Maturing Together OUT IN WINTER–Review and Giveaway

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a new New Adult M/M romance from Lane Hayes. OUT IN WINTER is the eighth book in her Out in College series, and features a gorgeous waterpolo player falling hard for the manager a coffee shop owned by his former teammates. 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. This book features Drew, who we briefly met in OUT ON THE SERVE, finding a real love with an athlete he’d written off as “too young”.

Scroll down to catch an excerpt and enter to win a $25 Amazon gift card.
About the book:
The grad student, the jock, and some winter fun…
Drew
My new job at the bistro is fun. The owners are good guys, and the staff is made up primarily of boisterous water polo players. I know nothing about the sport except there’s a Speedo involved, and Liam likes to wear his everywhere. Yes…Liam—the chatty, handsome, utterly charming waiter I can’t seem to stop thinking about. Ugh. Note to self—do not fall for another younger man.

Liam
Getting Drew to notice me hasn’t been easy. He’s a little intense, and he knows how to keep his distance. Something tells me he’s not immune—he’s just stubborn. Maybe a weekend of bonding on the ski slopes will win him over. And if I can get him to come out in winter, I might be able to convince him that we have a chance at something special.

Out in Winter is a low-angst MM, bisexual romance starring an oh so serious grad student, a goofball water polo player, and a little winter magic. 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?

The stunning winter wonderland panorama was dotted with impossibly tall evergreens flocked with snow and the pristine hills glistening in the morning sun. It was so quiet, I could almost imagine we were alone in the world. That was precisely the kind of thought that freaked me out sometimes. But not today. Today the idea seemed…promising. Maybe even cleansing, like a new start.

“It’s beautiful,” I said reverently.

“This is one of the reasons I like coming out here early. The light is so brilliant. It looks like a postcard or the photo in the dictionary next to the word ‘hope.’ ”

“That’s a nice thought.”

We shared a smile; then he adjusted his goggles and inclined his head meaningfully. “Ready?”

“Yeah, but…you go first.”

“C’mere.” Liam crooked his finger.

I shuffled forward until I stood beside him with our skis pointing in the opposite direction, expecting him to impart some advice about the terrain or maybe remind me how to stop. Both might have been helpful, actually.

“What is it?”

“Hold on to my sleeve. Stay still. That’s perfect.” He stroked my chin before leaning in to press his lips to mine. “You taste like cherry ChapStick. I like.”

I grinned. “Thanks. So do you.”

He kissed me again, twisting his tongue with mine and leaving me breathless. “Mmm. I’m making it my personal quest to make sure you get down this mountain safely and that you have fun doing it.”

“Good luck with that,” I sighed, aware that my voice had taken on a dreamy quality.

“I don’t need luck. I’m an expert,” he bragged playfully. “I’m going to give you a couple of tips. Listen up.”

“I’m listening.”

“Bend your knees and stay loose.”

“Like this?” I bent my knees and wiggled my arms like a rubber band.

Liam chuckled. “Something like that. We’re gonna take it slow, moving from side to side, making wide turns. I’ll go first. Follow me and remember to keep your gaze forward.”

“As opposed to?”

“Looking at your skis. You don’t look at your feet when you’re walking, so don’t look at your skis when you’re skiing. It’ll fuck with your balance. Ready?”

“Yeah.” I licked my lips and nodded.

Liam glided smoothly down the incline, veering sharply to the right. He stopped with a flourish, sending a plume of powdery snow skyward before raising his poles triumphantly. I snickered at the silly display. He made it seem fun and relatively easy. All right, then. I could do this.

I grasped my poles in a vise grip and dug into the snow, propelling myself forward. I aimed my skis in Liam’s general direction and honestly, it felt pretty damn good. I was in control, a cool breeze on my face, and a light wind at my back. Best of all, I appeared to be closing in on my correct destination. A hot guy was waiting for me in front of a huge pine tree with—

Oh, fuck.

I couldn’t stop. I picked up speed and barreled forward, trying to remember his advice. Knees bent. Check. Don’t look at your skis. Check. Stay loose…

Nope. Not possible.

I was wound so tight my head felt like it might pop off. Every muscle in my body was rigid as I zoomed closer to Liam…and the tree. It occurred to me as my life began to flash in front of my eyes that if I turned downhill, I could avoid the tree and move in the right direction. I might not have control of my skis, but Liam seemed to know what he was doing. No doubt he’d catch up easily and offer tips on how not to kill myself along the way. A comical vision of him doing circles around me while I tumbled into a giant snowball flashed in my head.

And that might have been when things went sideways.

My Review:
We met Drew in OUT ON THE SERVE because he is Elliot’s ex-boyfriend who was hoping for a reunion. It didn’t work out, and Drew swore off dating younger men, especially athletes. Especially closeted athletes. Since then he’s been working two jobs, and going to grad school. He’s managing a newly-opened cafe and bistro run by two former Long Beach State waterpolo players (we met them in Book 1, OUT IN THE DEEP) and he’s pretty close to quitting the bartending gig–if the bistro takes off he will be able to make ends meet. Most of the waitstaff at the bistro are current waterpolo players and that includes Liam, who is big and burly and everything Drew wants to avoid in a man. He’s flashy and free spirited and hopefully quitting the bistro soon.

Liam has definitely noticed Drew and desired him for a bit of time. Liam is closing in on the end of his senior year and trying to make decisions that will carry him into the future. He’s got some immediate job prospects, but thinks he’d be better off career-wise looking into a master’s degree in engineering. While Drew is attracted to Liam, he doesn’t want to mess around with a coworker, and Liam takes this as a challenge to push Drew out of his comfort zone.

When it turns out the Drew and Liam have booked time on the ski slopes in the same mountain town, Liam makes sure to use his athletic skills to thaw Liam’s uptight heart. Liam is a natural skier and snowboarder and Drew is…a danger to himself and others. But Liam has patience and his unique humor and flirty ways get Drew down the runs faster and faster than ever before. Their connection on this weekend idyll kindles a fire from that flame of attraction, and neither Drew nor Liam want to call it quits.

I liked this one. I didn’t have a great feeling about Drew from the previous stories, and I was glad to see he was redeemable. He liked Liam a lot, but he was also afraid to hold him back, keeping him in Long Beach when he really should be moving on to a career path. It was thoughtful, if a little self-serving. Because Liam would have loved to know that Drew had fallen so hard for him, reciprocating his own feelings. They didn’t have a lot of angst, mostly keeping their relationship on the down low because Drew didn’t want to make things weird at work. The pace is quick and the sexytimes are hot, with a few silly sexcapades that had Drew really thinking over his life choices. I liked how they made it work, and figured out their futures were moe in line than they had previously anticipated. Very sweet.

Interested? You can find OUT IN WINTER 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.

Precarious Love ROCKING THE BOAT–Review and Giveaway!

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a M/M contemporary sports romance from C Koehler. ROCKING THE BOAT is the first book in his CalPac Crew series, which features a dedicated coach for the varsity men’s crew team at a small college falling for one of his rowers.

Scroll down for an excerpt, and to enter the giveaway for a $10 GC.
About the book:
Nick Bedford coaches the men’s rowing team at California Pacific College, a small liberal arts school in Sacramento. He’s quiet, dedicated—and closeted. He struggles with professional ethics and NCAA rules as he denies his attraction for Morgan Estrada, one of his rowers. While they may not be far apart in age, the difference between coach and athlete leads Nick to worry about exploitation.

But Morgan has desires and a mind of his own, and what he wants is his coach. As the spring racing season advances, Morgan feels his coach’s eyes on him. Morgan may be gay, and while he’s not out to team, he hasn’t hidden it, either. It may be a coach’s job to check out an athlete’s form, but Morgan hopes Nick’s interested in more than his technique.

Morgan corners Nick in the boathouse, and Nick admits that while he wants Morgan he can’t have him. Morgan laughingly points out that he’s not bound by any of those rules and he wants Nick. Nick and Morgan start a relationship, but Nick worries whenever they’re in public: what if someone sees? An anonymous complaint from a rower to the athletics director sends Nick’s worries into overdrive just as the crew prepares for the make-or-break race of the year.

How about a little taste?

Coach Nick Bedford watched the eight men—his athletes, sweaty and pushed to the edge, their sides heaving like thoroughbreds—do their best to beat each other on the boathouse ergometers. The ergs, specialized rowing machines that duplicated the rowing stroke almost exactly, were his rowers’ best friends and worst enemies, building their conditioning and strength but also devouring everything they had to give and demanding more. He often shared their workouts, but not today. Today he walked around each athlete’s erg, looking for flaws in his technique. The crew’s coxswain helped him, but he was still the coach. It was his job to get them in shape.

They were a small crew, and California Pacific College was a small school. A former college rower himself, Nick was a graduate student working on his master’s degree in exercise physiology at a not-too-distant state university, and around the boathouse, he did it all. He was the resident expert on bodies in motion, guiding each athlete through workouts on land and water, each designed to make the boat go faster. He was the dietician, trying to keep a group whose natural prey was pizza and beer on the nutritional straight and narrow to build muscle and fuel recovery. He was their sport psychologist, helping them through losses and guiding the young men through the shoals of school, rowing, and life. He spent his free time immersed in exercise science literature, reading, reading, reading—anything to give his men that extra edge.

He even rigged the boats, adjusting the hardware and making minor repairs.

Eight varsity athletes, eight seats in the varsity boat. Nick was lucky they were so competitive, even with each other. Posting their erg scores meant someone would be pulling harder next time. He also had a standing offer to the junior varsity rowers: any JV athlete who beat a varsity rower on the ergs could challenge him for a seat in the boat. He’d only had to make good once. Each of his eight rowers put the “I” in team, each determined to beat the others. For a small program, it was ideal. For eye candy, it was unbeatable.

“What’d you think, Coach?” his coxswain asked, coming to stand next to him.

Nick was lucky. Stuart Cochrane had coxed in high school, and the junior premed major was as skilled as they came. “There’s room to improve,” Nick said, never taking his eyes off his athletes. “Look at Sundstrom. He’s hunching his shoulders. On the ergs, it’ll hurt, but on the water, it’ll strain his muscles and make it hard for him to stay in synch.”

“He’s never going to catch Morgan without fixing his technique, either. I’m on it,” Stuart said. He walked over and knelt next to the large rower, watching intently for a few strokes before correcting him. Stuart returned, his coxswain’s strut even more pronounced.

Nick had to smile. The best coxswains were small and light, so they didn’t slow the boat with weight that wasn’t pulling an oar, and they had Napoleon complexes. Stuart fitted the bill: short and cocky and determined to win. “That worked.”

“Of course, it did.” Stuart smirked. “Keep your eye on Estrada. Have you noticed how he speeds up just a bit during the last two k? That’s part of how he keeps beating Brad.”

“I like a nice, friendly rivalry.” Nick grinned. “It keeps the erg times fast.”

“I’m not sure how friendly it is. Brad was the fastest until Morgan joined the team and hasn’t taken kindly to being beaten,” Stuart added quietly, his voice just loud enough to reach Nick’s ears over the sounds of the ergs. “And some of the other guys are beating him too.”

“Then Brad needs to up his game.” Nick didn’t want to know about rivalries like that. He’d seen crews torn apart by such distractions. So long as his rowers left their differences on the dock when they rowed, he didn’t care. As he’d told Stuart, a rivalry on the ergs would move the boat faster.

Nick returned his focus to the ergs. He’d kept an eye on Morgan Estrada, all right. It was hard not to. Collegiate rowers were in fantastic shape, but something about Morgan drew his eye. He was tall, taller than Nick (who, at six feet, wasn’t short), but then, rowing selected for tall men and turned them into muscular ones. Sweat dripped from one wavy brown lock, running down his cheek, but Morgan ignored it.

Nick noticed it, however. It defined Morgan’s cheek, flushed red with effort, but normally very fair. There was more conquistador than conquered in Morgan Estrada’s background. All Nick’s men were good looking in one way or another, but something about Morgan pulled him in, something that threatened to swallow him whole.

Eye candy was a perk of his job, but Nick tried not to stare too much. They were his boys; he was their coach. There was a trust there, and he took that trust very seriously.

Still, watching Morgan strain, sweaty and grunting and red, made Nick think of crossing that line.

My Review:
Coach Nick Bedford is happy with is life. He’s in a graduate program for exercise science and he’s the head coach of the men’s crew team at California Pacific University. In his late 20s this is a decent living. He tried finance and didn’t like it, and he’s much happier helping his athletes find their best skills and abilities. He’d like a steady boyfriend, but he’s also pretty securely in the closet with his job, so it’s not a hardship that he doesn’t have a significant other.

What is particularly grating, however, is his keen awareness of one of his athletes, Morgan Estrada. Morgan is just 21 and a junior at Cal Pacific. He’s tall and lean, like all the rowers on the team, and the attraction Nick is feeling is definitely more than he truly wants to acknowledge. There are lots of regulations barring sexual relations between coaches and athletes, so Nick knows that his attraction to Morgan is absolutely out of bounds. Beside that, Nick doesn’t want to come out and perhaps face accusations of macking on his rowers. And, he doesn’t even know if Morgan is gay–he is not out with the team either. Nick highly suspects that the coxswain, Stuart, is gay but no one really discusses these personal details openly.

The more Nick notices Morgan, the more Morgan picks up on it. Morgan has had a low-key attraction for Coach Bedford since his freshman year, but always thought it would be unrequited. And, how cliche, to crush on his coach, right? Morgan doesn’t see his infatuation as a problem; he’s a grown man now, and Coach has never been inappropriate. In fact, Coach Bedford had been the epitome of honorable, conscientious and driven. His devotion to the team had inspired to step up his training and make the varsity team as a sophomore. Now, when it seems like Coach might be less than straight, and possibly interested, Morgan wants to test those waters as soon as possible. He’s frustrated when Nick lies about his attraction–and makes an unreasonable request of his own best friend to act as a decoy to Morgan.

This is a bit of a taboo romance due to the coach-athlete connection. That said, these two do dance around their mutual attraction for a bit. Nick’s bestie, Drew, is a great foil and sounding board as Nick moves through the season with all this personal conflict. I loved how Drew let Nick have it after being conned into asking Morgan out–and the aftermath of that scenario follows Nick for a good third of the book. Stuart is quick to tear into his coach, too, because he’s had a crush on Morgan for years, and as a close friend to Morgan, saw how Nick hurt him by setting him up with Drew. The fact is, these guys really do see a future with one another, their connection, once it happens, is not simply lust-slaking. It’s instead world-changing for them, and it’s hard to keep that a secret. And the added conflict of a rower discovering their secret nearly capsizes their budding romance.

There is a fair amount of angst here, mostly for Nick who truly bears all the responsibility and consequences that will undoubtedly ensue should Nick and Morgan go public. There is a reckoning, and believable reconciliation. And. the end is happy, with a glimpse at the next couple to be featured in this series. Nice sexytimes, but they don’t take over the story.

Interested? You can find ROCKING THE BOAT on Goodreads, NineStar Press, and Books2Read.

****GIVEAWAY****

Click on this Rafflecopter giveaway link for your chance to win a $10 NineStar Press GC.
Good luck and keep reading my friends!

About the Author:
Christopher Koehler always wanted to write, but it wasn’t until his grad school years that he realized writing was how he wanted to spend his life. Long something of a hothouse flower, he’s been lucky to be surrounded by people who encouraged that, especially his long-suffering husband of twenty-nine years and counting.

He loves many genres of fiction and nonfiction, but he’s especially fond of romances, because it’s in them that human emotions and relations, at least most of the ones fit to be discussed publicly, are laid bare.
While writing is his passion and his life, when he’s not doing that, he’s a househusband, at-home dad, and oarsman with a slightly disturbing interest in manners and the other ways people behave badly.

Christopher is approaching the tenth anniversary of publication and has been fortunate to be recognized for his writing, including by the American Library Association, which named Poz a 2016 Recommended Title, and an Honorable Mention for “Transformation,” in Innovation, Volume 6 of Queer Sci Fi’s Flash Fiction Anthology.

You can catch up with Christopher on Facebook, and twitter.

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.