Rebuilding in THE OFF SEASON–Review and Giveaway!

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review and giveaway for a new contemporary sports romance from Megan Green. THE OFF SEASON is a sweet romance between a wrongly-accused baseball star and his neighbor-in-need. It’s an unexpected romance for two people who’d closed themselves off to the idea of love. I liked it!

Scroll down to enter the $25 GC giveaway!
About the book:
He had it all…

The day Ian “Tag” Taggart’s world comes crashing down around him, he’s sitting in a fast food drive-thru, waiting for an order of fries. Golden boy of the MLB and shortstop for the Washington Rampage, Tag quickly finds himself losing grip on his superstar life with the use of two awful words: sexual assault.

The only problem? He’s innocent.

Tag’s willing to do anything to prove to the world he’d never commit the crime he’s been accused of. So when his agent suggests taking a break from the spotlight, he listens. The quiet town on Maple Lake is everything Seattle isn’t. And Lexi Barnes is everything he wasn’t expecting to find.

Running from a past she can never escape, Lexi wants nothing to do with her new neighbor. But fixing up an old house takes more work than anticipated, and the new guy in town happens to have quite the set of carpentry skills. She won’t let herself fall for him though. She has no room in her life for love.

If only someone would tell her heart that.

He’s funny and charming. She’s closed off and rude.

Together, they’re like fire and ice.

Prepare to get burned this Off-Season.

My Review:
Ian “Tag” Taggart is a shortstop for the Washington Rampage, a pro baseball team, who’s well-known as a ladies man, and all-around good guy. Until a one-night stand accuses him of rape. Six months later, his accuser drops her charges in exchange for a big payday. It’s the off season, and the Rampage had a rather poor season; some folks believe it was the spotlight of Ian’s accuser casting pall over the team. With months of downtime before spring training, Ian ships off to Maple Lake, to lay low in his best friend’s lake house.

Lexi Barnes hasn’t had a drink in 18 months. Not since that fateful night , anyway. She doens’t want to think about the damage she caused, or her old life in Chicago, but it’s still a noose around her neck. Rehabbing a rundown lake house is meant to fill her days and night, but soon, her athletic and sweet neighbor Ian is helping to hang the shutters and sharing meals. The more time they spend together, the more they connect, and though Ian comes clean about who is–and what he’d been accused of–Lexi’s still afraid to open up.

Thing about being in the spotlight, like Ian, is that reporters are always looking for the fresh dirt to write about. Just as Ian and Lexi are solidifying their love, a curveball comes along to disrupt the scene. I liked how they dealt with their issues, and how trusting Ian is, where Lexi is concerned. While there are some sexytimes here, it’s not the main thrust of the book. They connect emotionally first, and their physical moments are brief in terms of page time. I liked both Ian and Lexi as characters. Each had some tough stuff to get over, and they needed to find a reason to start caring for another person again. It’s sweet and a little sexy, with some nice romantic elements.

Interested? You can find THE OFF SEASON on Goodreads, and Amazon (US, UK, CA and AU).

****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:
Megan lives in Northern Utah with her handsome hubby, Adam. When not writing, chances are you’ll find her curled up with her Kindle. Besides reading and writing, she loves movies, animals, chocolate, and coffee. Lots and lots of coffee. She loves hearing from readers, so drop her a line!

You can find Megan on her Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Email, or check out her Reader Group.

Coming Out Soon DOWN BY CONTACT-A Review

Hi there! Continuing my Sports Week theme I’m sharing a pre-release review of a steamy new contemporary M/M romance from Santino Hassell. DOWN BY CONTACT is the second book in his The Barons series and features a quarterback making contact with a former teammate-turned-hater. It’s a standalone, though it features return characters from ILLEGAL CONTACT, the first book in the series. I’ve loved the gritty romances I’ve read by Mr. Hassell, including SUNSET PARK, INTERBOROUGH and CITYWIDE. DOWN BY CONTACT releases Jan 16th, and preorder links are below.

About the book:
Two rival football players begin a game with higher stakes than the Super Bowl in this steamy romance from the author of Illegal Contact.
Simeon Boudreaux, the New York Barons’ golden-armed quarterback, is blessed with irresistible New Orleans charm and a face to melt your mama’s heart. He’s universally adored by fans and the media. Coming out as gay in solidarity with his teammate hasn’t harmed his reputation in the least—except for some social media taunting from rival linebacker Adrián Bravo.

Though they were once teammates, Adrián views Simeon as a traitor and the number-one name on the New Jersey Predators’ shit list. When animosity between the two NFL players reaches a boiling point on the field, culminating in a dirty fist fight, they’re both benched for six games and sentenced to joint community service teaching sullen, Brooklyn teens how to play ball.

At first, they can barely stand to be in the same room, but running the camp forces them to shape up. With no choice but to work together, Simeon realizes Adrián is more than his alpha-jerk persona, and Adrián begins to question why he’s always had such strong feelings for the gorgeous QB…

My Review:
Simeon Boudreaux and Adrián Bravo were teammates and friends on the Predators for a short stretch a few years back, but Simeon got cut, and picked up by the Barons. Adrián blames the Baron’s success against his Predators on Simeon knowing their playbook, but deep inside he’s really angry that he lost his friend. And, he’s using that anger to fuel some anti-gay slurs he makes once Simeon comes out. Adrián’s Predators are all about toxic machismo, and homophobia; Simeon’s glad he left that behind and found a team where he could be himself–and support a fellow out player. He lives his truth and loves his life.

Of course, he’s not happy with Adrián’s trash talk, or with Adrián’s late hit that lands him on the disabled list for eight weeks. Adrián’s suspended, and their PR teams work out a deal to get both players some positive press: have them use their time off to volunteer at a LGBTQ kids outreach center running the sports recreation. Neither Simeon nor Adrián is wild about this arrangement, and the tension is rough. They have outbursts and power trips, and cause more fuss than help. And, somewhere in the hurt they generate, a kernel of desire is born. As neither man is dating anyone, the taunts they let fly turns the tension up to eleven. Adrián is especially struggling with the recognition that Simeon is such a great guy, and soon he’s also seeing his former adversary as a desirable man.

Not that Adrián can act on his impulses. His old school folks would never accept him coming out as bisexual, nor would he find the Predators to be welcoming. But, Simeon is patient even with all the hate sex Adrián is offering. He definitely likes turning Adrián inside-out; his main mission is to turn Adrián into an ally, even if he’s undercover. The press gets wind of their developing relationship, when one of the kids leaks an incriminating photo, and Simeon tries to shield Adrián from the fall-out, but Adrián wants to write his own story. Especially if it includes Simeon.

I always love the gritty, filthy talking, hot-and-dirty sexytimes Mr. Hassell writes. There’s no shortage of those moments here, and the sweet way Adrián comes around to accepting his sexuality is a bonus. I love the urbanity of the writing, and the ethnic dialect and experiences. Both Simeon and Adrián are men of color and they feel culturally authentic and interesting. I liked the football setting, though there are lots of off-the-field scenes, as both players are sidelined temporarily. The banter between Simeon and Adrián is amusing, and filled with athletic trash talk, amidst the flirtatious challenges. Their physical relationship begins with little more than a dare, but it grows more tender the longer they go at each other. Adrián’s fledgling steps into sex with Simeon are a revelation he didn’t expect to find, but the companionship they share fills a void neither man anticipated. It’s unexpectedly sweet. And, the end leaves the reader wondering if the league’s biggest homophobe, Adrián’s friend and teammate, Rocky Swoops, might be protesting just a bit too much. Looking forward to the next book in this series.

Interested? You can find DOWN BY CONTACT on Goodreads, and pre-order it before it’s Jan 16th release on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes and Kobo. I received a review copy via NetGalley.

About the Author:
Santino Hassell was raised by a conservative family, but he was anything but traditional. He grew up to be a smart-mouthed, school cutting grunge kid, then a transient twenty-something, and eventually transformed into an unlikely romance author.

Santino writes queer romance that is heavily influenced by the gritty, urban landscape of New York City, his belief that human relationships are complex and flawed, and his own life experiences.

You can find Santino online on his website, Facebook, and twitter.

Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!

Gotta Make the RELAY–Review and Giveaway!

Hi there! I’m continuing my Sports Romance theme this week with a brand new M/M contemporary romance from a new-to-me author, Layla Reyne. RELAY features the big strapping lads of the US Olympic swim team, and all the drama they suffer to win the gold. It’s the first book in the Changing Lanes series, and looks like we’ll be getting a new couple with each installment. If you like books about competitive swimmers, you might also enjoy WATER MUSIC or DISTANT SWIMMER.

You can drop down and catch my review and find the giveaway link for a chance to win a signed copy of RELAY and a $25 GC.
About the book:
Captain is not a title Alejandro “Alex” Cantu takes lightly. Elected by his teammates to helm the US Men’s Swim Team, he proudly accepts the role, despite juggling endless training, team administrative work, and helping out on the family farm. And despite his ex-lover, Dane Ellis—swimming’s biggest star—also making the Olympic Team.

Dane has been a pawn in his celebrity parents’ empire from crib to pool, flashing his camera-ready smile on demand and staying deeply in the closet. Only once did he drop the act—the summer he fell in love with Alex. Ten years later, Dane longs to cut his parents’ strings, drop his too-bright smile, and beg Alex for another chance.

Alex, though, isn’t ready to forgive and forget, and Dane is a distraction he doesn’t need on his team, until an injury forces Alex to accept Dane as his medley relay anchor. Working together, their passion reignites. When Dane’s parents threaten reprisal and Alex is accused of doping, the two must risk everything to prove Alex’s innocence, to love one another, and to win back their spots on the team, together.

My Review:
Dane Ellis and Alex Cantu were teammates, roommates, and lovers one summer ten years ago, but being gay isn’t something that Dane’s controlling parents will accept, or understand. His father, a powerful televangelist, and his mother, a Home Shopping diva, have ensured that the money Dane earns from sponsors goes into a trust fund he can’t access until he’s thirty, four years from now. Though he’s now 26, they control his life, and he’s not that happy with the results. Dane may be the fastest freestyle swimmer in the country, but he’s socially isolated and a pariah on his team, mainly due to his grandstanding parents. But, also, Alex still harbors the hurt over their teen love lost. And, the other guys on the team really look up to Alex, who is their captain.

Alex has had to fight and work for all he’s earned his whole life. His parents own a small farm, and he spent years pitching in, and caring for his younger siblings. To him, Dane had a charmed life with plenty of money and no qualms about leaving him behind. As captain, he has some say in which swimmers make the relay teams. And, he doesn’t want Dane on the medley with him. This is a four-man team where each one swims a different stroke: backstroke, fly, breaststroke and freestyle. Alex is the reigning gold medalist in backstroke, and he selects another swimmer, Dane’s teammate and mentor, to swim the freestyle part of the relay. It breaks Dane’s heart, and enrages his parents. It also leads to strife on the team.

The more time they spend together training, however, the more Alex sees that Dane isn’t the arrogant jerk he’d built up in his mind since their forbidden summer. Dane is vulnerable, and tired of his parents stomping all over his life. Seeing the out and proud members of his team being real, Dane decides he’s had enough of the facade, and it leads to a truce with Alex–and a lot more, including acceptance from his teammates for the first time in…ever. But his parents aren’t above blackmailing Dane to get him to fall into their line yet again. When Alex is accused of doping, Dane is sure his folks are the guilty parties. It’s up to his newly-gelling team, and Dane’s particular expertise, to clear Alex’s name.

I really liked this one. There’s a good mix of athleticism, anger and acceptance, including love. Dane’s life isn’t pleasant, and seeing him take the necessary steps to find his own happiness is engaging. Alex is a bit of a jerk, and I understood why–watching him get over his busted heart was nice. I liked his family, and how loving they were. And I liked how his mom, who is struggling with breast cancer treatment, made sure Alex knew that he didn’t need to break his back for everyone besides himself. Expect a lot of drama; these guys are really high stakes competitors, and have tempers to match. It seems as if the next book will take us to the Olympics, and feature a new couple on the team…which is interesting. I’m looking forward to it!

Interested? You can find RELAY on Goodreads, Riptide books, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes and Kobo.

****GIVEAWAY****

Click on this link to comment on my pal Joyfully Jay’s giveaway post. One tour commenter will win a singed copy of RELAY and a $25 Amazon gift card.
Good luck and keep reading my friends!

About the Author:
2016 RWA® Golden Heart® Finalist Layla Reyne was raised in North Carolina and now calls San Francisco home. She enjoys weaving her bicoastal experiences into her stories, along with adrenaline-fueled suspense and heart-pounding romance. When she’s not writing stories to excite her readers, she downloads too many books, watches too much television, and cooks too much food with her scientist husband, much to the delight of their smushed-face, leftover-loving dogs.

Catch up with Layla Reyne on her website, Facebook, twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, Goodreads, or sign up for her newsletter.

Out Today! THE ONE NIGHT STAND–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a new contemporary romance out today from the writing team of Elizabeth Hayley. THE ONE NIGHT STAND features an ex-MLB star keeping his new life secret and the journalist who falls for him…even as it complicates her job.

About the book:
Gabriel Torres thought his life after Major League Baseball would be simple and quiet, or at least quieter. However, as he takes over running the exclusive Players Club, he finds himself continually embroiled in scandal and drama. Surely nothing, and no one could make his life any crazier…Right?

Rachel Adler is a blast from Gabe’s past who crashed back into his life with the finesse of a freight train. But she’s a welcome distraction. At least for a night.

Rachel has been working hard to become one of the top sports journalists in the country. She doesn’t have time for a long-term romance or irresistibly charming baseball players. A one-night-stand with the man who she knew would hit it out of the park was all she wanted.

But when she gets a tip that Gabe could have ties to one of the biggest sports stories in history, a story that could make her career, Rachel decides that maybe she has a little time for the sexy baseball player after all. As she gets in deeper with both her story and Gabe, Rachel begins to question who she is, what she wants, and what exactly she’s willing to sacrifice for her career.

Will the potential grand-slam romance be stopped short or will Rachel and Gabe be able to go the distance?

Check out this excerpt for Chapter 1!

Rachel hustled through the newsroom, her brown hair bouncing against her shoulders as her mind whirled with all of the different things her boss Rick Hartnett may want to talk to her about. None of them were good.

She’d been a reporter with All Access Sports Magazine practically since she’d graduated college, but as she let her eyes roam around the room, she noticed the thrill wasn’t as strong as it used to be. It wasn’t that she didn’t like her job or had much of a desire to move on to a different publication. Moreso it was that she felt stagnant. Every day there was a reminder that she hadn’t reached the kind of success she’d hoped she would have after nearly a decade in the industry.

Reaching the door of Rick’s office, she gave it a few raps. “You wanted to see me?” she asked after he looked up from his computer.

“Yeah,” he replied, gesturing to the chair on the other side of his desk. Though All Access Sports was on the twenty-second floor of a building that was less than twenty years old, their space was anything but sleek. Stacks of old newspapers and magazines littered Rick’s floor, and Rachel had to step around them to make it to the chair.

Rachel took a seat without closing the door, since Rick always preferred it stay open. She and Rick engaged in some sort of odd staring contest before he finally picked up the next edition of their print magazine and dropped it on the desk in front of her.

“You want to tell me why you don’t have an article in there?”

No, actually she didn’t want to tell him. “I didn’t have anything solid to contribute.”

Rick steepled his hands and let his chin rest atop them. “Hmm. That’s interesting. Because when I looked into our budget analytics for last month, I see that you flew across the goddamn country to chase a story. But,” Rick slapped a finger onto the magazine, “I don’t see a story.”

“The lead didn’t pan out.”

“I didn’t even approve that trip. How’d you get the go ahead?”

Rachel shrugged in an overly casual way that was an attempt to pretend she wasn’t about to get reamed out by her boss. And what was worse, she deserved it. “You weren’t here when the story came up so I asked Cal.”

“You asked Cal, a junior editor with no actual authority to make this decision?”

“Accounting thinks he has authority.” It was not the brightest thing Rachel could have said in that moment, but it was at the very least true.

“But you know he doesn’t. What was the story anyway? At our last pitch meeting you said you were going to do a piece on the inflation of prices at ballparks. Pretty sure you didn’t need to go to California for that.”

Rachel looked down and studied her nails. She really needed to get a manicure. Her nail beds looked disastrous. “I heard some grumblings about the club so I thought I’d check it out.”

“Jesus Christ. Not this again.”

Rachel let her hands drop into her lap. “Yes, this again. You know this is an ongoing investigation for me. If I can figure out the truth behind the rumors, it would make my whole career.”

Sighing, Rick crossed his arms on his desk. “How long have you been looking into this club?”

“I’m not exactly sure,” she hedged.

“Too long is the answer. You gotta drop this thing, Rach. If there was any truth to it, you’d have found out by now.”

“Not necessarily. It’s extremely exclusive. Only the best of the best get asked to join, so obviously they’re going to be tight-lipped about it. I just have to find the right angle.”

“Rachel.”

“And I’ve found enough details to support its existence. I just don’t have anything solid enough to base a story on.”

“Rachel.”

“But it’s only a matter of time. The source in San Diego didn’t pan out, but something else will. I just need to keep my ear to the ground.”

“Rachel!” Rick yelled.

Taking a deep breath, she focused on him, even though she knew she wasn’t going to like what he had to say.

“It’s time to give it up. You’re out there chasing a unicorn when there are more pressing things we need you to cover.”

“It’s not a unicorn. It’s a Triple Crown winner.”

“A hypothetical Triple Crown winner. That’s not good enough to waste resources.”

“I’ve spent years on this story. I can’t–”

“You’ve spent years on it and have absolutely nothing to show for it. I’m sorry, but you need to drop it. We can’t allocate any more resources toward it.”

“I’ll work it on my own time.”

“We consider your time our resource. We pay you for it. We need your head to be in the game.”

“You can’t forbid me from working on something when I have nothing else going on.”

“No. But I can fire you if you don’t start providing usable material on a regular basis.”

Rachel’s eyes shot to his, hers widening in surprise. He’d never threatened to fire her before. Nothing even close.

Under her scrutiny, Rick’s face softened. “Look, I’m not trying to scare you. But I do have to be honest. I can’t have a reporter going rogue whenever she feels like it. We’re a team here, and you used to be one of our most integral players. But it’s like you’ve put yourself on the disabled list and refuse to do any more than take a few practice swings.”

“That was…a really involved metaphor.”

Rick rolled his eyes, but some of the good-natured vibes they normally had between them returned, which encouraged Rachel to be completely honest.

“This story is going to be epic, Rick. And it may not happen this month, or this year, but it’s going to happen. And I’ll be damned if it happens for someone else after I’ve spent so many years on it. I refuse to lose out because I was forced to give up.”

“Listen. If something comes over the wire that even so much as hints at the club, you’ll be the first one to know. But as far as using All Access time and resources to investigate it…those days are over. When you’re here, you’re to work the assignments we give you. And for Christ’s sake, next time you use company money to travel somewhere, you’d better go through the proper channels. I don’t give a shit if you’re riding a subway to Brooklyn. You clear it with me first.”

Figuring this was the closest to a compromise as she was going to get, Rachel nodded. “Got it.”

“Good. Now get out of here and pack.”

Rachel startled. “Pack? I thought you’d just finished grounding me for the foreseeable future.”

“Stop being a smartass or I won’t send you anywhere.”

Rachel stood and smoothed out her black slacks. “Where am I going?”

Rick reached across his desk to retrieve the magazine. “The Super Bowl.”

My Review:
This is the third book in a series, but fully enjoyable on its own.

Gabriel Torres met Rachel Adler nearly a decade ago, when they were both in college. She was a writer for the school paper and he was a rising star on the baseball team. Fast forward…Gabe has just retired from the big leagues and Rachel writes for an all-access sports journal. She’s spent years tracking leads on an elusive players-only club that might be the biggest story of her career, and is always on the lookout for the hard dirt. On assignment to cover the Super Bowl, Rachel reconnects with Gabe, and his desire for her is intoxicating, just like it was in college.

Gabe had a mini-crush on Rachel back in the day–she’s the one girl who consistently turned him down. And, seeing her now as a gown woman only intensifies his desire. They have a heated night, and Gabe wants more, but he lives in Philly and she’s in NYC. It doesn’t seem like a big distance, especially as he has so much free time, but he spends a lot of it managing The Player’s Club, a super-secret club for current and former professional athletes to simply chill and not be thronged by hordes of fans. Gabe’s actually excited to learn that Rachel has been sent to Philly to do some work for whatever paper she writes for. He’s never asked directly about that…and Rachel hasn’t volunteered. Because, well, it might be that Gabe is one of the club members, and she doesn’t want to tip him off to her investigation…

Okay, so you can see where this is going, right? It was an interesting take on the investigative reporter trope, and I liked it. One thing troubled me, however. The secrecy about the club seemed a mite unwarranted. I mean, it’s really just a private bar. I thought maybe it was some sort of kink club, or something embarrassing, but that didn’t seem to be the case. For me, that was a little deflating, because I struggled to relate to Gabe’s insistence on secrecy. I get that the club had been a secret for decades, and he was the new manager in charge of it, but it seemed kinda false, as a situation. That said, Rachel and Gabe understood the gravity of their interests andhow it would affect their budding relationship if Rachel spilled the beans. In fact, the closer Rachel comes to learning Gabe’s secrets, the more she wants to turn back time. On account of building something precious with Gabe. There are moments of heat, and moments of laughter, especially with Gabe pretending to be into a whole bunch of community service projects–which he wasn’t–in order to impress Rachel, and build a new persona for her to write about.

The ending is a sweet reconciliation and brings several of the couples in this series back in to celebrate. If you’re a fan of the series, I think you’ll be very satisfied.

Interested? You can find THE ONE NIGHT STAND on Goodreads Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes and Kobo.

About the Authors:
Elizabeth Hayley is actually “Elizabeth” and “Hayley,” two friends who love reading romance novels to obsessive levels. This mutual love prompted them to put their English degrees to good use by penning their own. The product is Pieces of Perfect, their debut novel. They learned a ton about one another through the process, like how they clearly share a brain and have a persistent need to text each other constantly (much to their husbands’ chagrin).

They live with their husbands and kids in a suburb of Philadelphia. Thankfully, their children are still too young to read.

Elizabeth Hayley’s writing motto is best captured by the words of Patrick Dennis: “I always start with a clean piece of paper and a dirty mind.”

Catch up with them on their website, Goodreads, Facebook and twitter.

Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends!

Coming Soon! THE ONE NIGHT STAND–Extended Excerpt Reveal

Hi there! Today I’m sharing an extended excerpt for a new contemporary romance coming December 12th from the writing team of Elizabeth Hayley. THE ONE NIGHT STAND features an ex-MLB star plagued by scandal and the journalist who falls for him…even as it complicates her job.


About the book:
Gabriel Torres thought his life after Major League Baseball would be simple and quiet, or at least quieter. However, as he takes over running the exclusive Players Club, he finds himself continually embroiled in scandal and drama. Surely nothing, and no one could make his life any crazier…Right?

Rachel Adler is a blast from Gabe’s past who crashed back into his life with the finesse of a freight train. But she’s a welcome distraction. At least for a night.

Rachel has been working hard to become one of the top sports journalists in the country. She doesn’t have time for a long-term romance or irresistibly charming baseball players. A one-night-stand with the man who she knew would hit it out of the park was all she wanted.

But when she gets a tip that Gabe could have ties to one of the biggest sports stories in history, a story that could make her career, Rachel decides that maybe she has a little time for the sexy baseball player after all. As she gets in deeper with both her story and Gabe, Rachel begins to question who she is, what she wants, and what exactly she’s willing to sacrifice for her career.

Will the potential grand-slam romance be stopped short or will Rachel and Gabe be able to go the distance?

Check out this excerpt for Chapter 1!

Rachel hustled through the newsroom, her brown hair bouncing against her shoulders as her mind whirled with all of the different things her boss Rick Hartnett may want to talk to her about. None of them were good.

She’d been a reporter with All Access Sports Magazine practically since she’d graduated college, but as she let her eyes roam around the room, she noticed the thrill wasn’t as strong as it used to be. It wasn’t that she didn’t like her job or had much of a desire to move on to a different publication. Moreso it was that she felt stagnant. Every day there was a reminder that she hadn’t reached the kind of success she’d hoped she would have after nearly a decade in the industry.

Reaching the door of Rick’s office, she gave it a few raps. “You wanted to see me?” she asked after he looked up from his computer.

“Yeah,” he replied, gesturing to the chair on the other side of his desk. Though All Access Sports was on the twenty-second floor of a building that was less than twenty years old, their space was anything but sleek. Stacks of old newspapers and magazines littered Rick’s floor, and Rachel had to step around them to make it to the chair.

Rachel took a seat without closing the door, since Rick always preferred it stay open. She and Rick engaged in some sort of odd staring contest before he finally picked up the next edition of their print magazine and dropped it on the desk in front of her.

“You want to tell me why you don’t have an article in there?”

No, actually she didn’t want to tell him. “I didn’t have anything solid to contribute.”

Rick steepled his hands and let his chin rest atop them. “Hmm. That’s interesting. Because when I looked into our budget analytics for last month, I see that you flew across the goddamn country to chase a story. But,” Rick slapped a finger onto the magazine, “I don’t see a story.”

“The lead didn’t pan out.”

“I didn’t even approve that trip. How’d you get the go ahead?”

Rachel shrugged in an overly casual way that was an attempt to pretend she wasn’t about to get reamed out by her boss. And what was worse, she deserved it. “You weren’t here when the story came up so I asked Cal.”

“You asked Cal, a junior editor with no actual authority to make this decision?”

“Accounting thinks he has authority.” It was not the brightest thing Rachel could have said in that moment, but it was at the very least true.

“But you know he doesn’t. What was the story anyway? At our last pitch meeting you said you were going to do a piece on the inflation of prices at ballparks. Pretty sure you didn’t need to go to California for that.”

Rachel looked down and studied her nails. She really needed to get a manicure. Her nail beds looked disastrous. “I heard some grumblings about the club so I thought I’d check it out.”

“Jesus Christ. Not this again.”

Rachel let her hands drop into her lap. “Yes, this again. You know this is an ongoing investigation for me. If I can figure out the truth behind the rumors, it would make my whole career.”

Sighing, Rick crossed his arms on his desk. “How long have you been looking into this club?”

“I’m not exactly sure,” she hedged.

“Too long is the answer. You gotta drop this thing, Rach. If there was any truth to it, you’d have found out by now.”

“Not necessarily. It’s extremely exclusive. Only the best of the best get asked to join, so obviously they’re going to be tight-lipped about it. I just have to find the right angle.”

“Rachel.”

“And I’ve found enough details to support its existence. I just don’t have anything solid enough to base a story on.”

“Rachel.”

“But it’s only a matter of time. The source in San Diego didn’t pan out, but something else will. I just need to keep my ear to the ground.”

“Rachel!” Rick yelled.

Taking a deep breath, she focused on him, even though she knew she wasn’t going to like what he had to say.

“It’s time to give it up. You’re out there chasing a unicorn when there are more pressing things we need you to cover.”

“It’s not a unicorn. It’s a Triple Crown winner.”

“A hypothetical Triple Crown winner. That’s not good enough to waste resources.”

“I’ve spent years on this story. I can’t–”

“You’ve spent years on it and have absolutely nothing to show for it. I’m sorry, but you need to drop it. We can’t allocate any more resources toward it.”

“I’ll work it on my own time.”

“We consider your time our resource. We pay you for it. We need your head to be in the game.”

“You can’t forbid me from working on something when I have nothing else going on.”

“No. But I can fire you if you don’t start providing usable material on a regular basis.”

Rachel’s eyes shot to his, hers widening in surprise. He’d never threatened to fire her before. Nothing even close.

Under her scrutiny, Rick’s face softened. “Look, I’m not trying to scare you. But I do have to be honest. I can’t have a reporter going rogue whenever she feels like it. We’re a team here, and you used to be one of our most integral players. But it’s like you’ve put yourself on the disabled list and refuse to do any more than take a few practice swings.”

“That was…a really involved metaphor.”

Rick rolled his eyes, but some of the good-natured vibes they normally had between them returned, which encouraged Rachel to be completely honest.

“This story is going to be epic, Rick. And it may not happen this month, or this year, but it’s going to happen. And I’ll be damned if it happens for someone else after I’ve spent so many years on it. I refuse to lose out because I was forced to give up.”

“Listen. If something comes over the wire that even so much as hints at the club, you’ll be the first one to know. But as far as using All Access time and resources to investigate it…those days are over. When you’re here, you’re to work the assignments we give you. And for Christ’s sake, next time you use company money to travel somewhere, you’d better go through the proper channels. I don’t give a shit if you’re riding a subway to Brooklyn. You clear it with me first.”

Figuring this was the closest to a compromise as she was going to get, Rachel nodded. “Got it.”

“Good. Now get out of here and pack.”

Rachel startled. “Pack? I thought you’d just finished grounding me for the foreseeable future.”

“Stop being a smartass or I won’t send you anywhere.”

Rachel stood and smoothed out her black slacks. “Where am I going?”

Rick reached across his desk to retrieve the magazine. “The Super Bowl.”

I can’t wait to read this one! Look for my review in mid-December. In the meantime…

Interested? You can pre-order THE ONE NIGHT STAND in advance of it’s Dec 12 release on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

About the Authors:
Elizabeth Hayley is actually “Elizabeth” and “Hayley,” two friends who love reading romance novels to obsessive levels. This mutual love prompted them to put their English degrees to good use by penning their own. The product is Pieces of Perfect, their debut novel. They learned a ton about one another through the process, like how they clearly share a brain and have a persistent need to text each other constantly (much to their husbands’ chagrin).

They live with their husbands and kids in a suburb of Philadelphia. Thankfully, their children are still too young to read.

Elizabeth Hayley’s writing motto is best captured by the words of Patrick Dennis: “I always start with a clean piece of paper and a dirty mind.”

Catch up with them on their website, Goodreads, Facebook and twitter.

Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends!

Cover Reveal THE ONE NIGHT STAND

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a cover reveal for a new contemporary romance coming soon from the writing team of Elizabeth Hayley. THE ONE NIGHT STAND will release in early December and it sounds like a fun one!


About the book:
Gabriel Torres thought his life after Major League Baseball would be simple and quiet, or at least quieter. However, as he takes over running the exclusive Players Club, he finds himself continually embroiled in scandal and drama. Surely nothing, and no one could make his life any crazier…Right?

Rachel Adler is a blast from Gabe’s past who crashed back into his life with the finesse of a freight train. But she’s a welcome distraction. At least for a night.

Rachel has been working hard to become one of the top sports journalists in the country. She doesn’t have time for a long-term romance or irresistibly charming baseball players. A one-night-stand with the man who she knew would hit it out of the park was all she wanted.

But when she gets a tip that Gabe could have ties to one of the biggest sports stories in history, a story that could make her career, Rachel decides that maybe she has a little time for the sexy baseball player after all. As she gets in deeper with both her story and Gabe, Rachel begins to question who she is, what she wants, and what exactly she’s willing to sacrifice for her career.

Will the potential grand-slam romance be stopped short or will Rachel and Gabe be able to go the distance?

Interested? You can pre-order THE ONE NIGHT STAND in advance of it’s Dec release on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

About the Authors:
Elizabeth Hayley is actually “Elizabeth” and “Hayley,” two friends who love reading romance novels to obsessive levels. This mutual love prompted them to put their English degrees to good use by penning their own. The product is Pieces of Perfect, their debut novel. They learned a ton about one another through the process, like how they clearly share a brain and have a persistent need to text each other constantly (much to their husbands’ chagrin).

They live with their husbands and kids in a suburb of Philadelphia. Thankfully, their children are still too young to read.

Elizabeth Hayley’s writing motto is best captured by the words of Patrick Dennis: “I always start with a clean piece of paper and a dirty mind.”

Catch up with them on their website, Goodreads, Facebook and twitter.

Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends!

Fresh Starts in WORKING IT–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a contemporary romance form Christine d’Abo. WORKING IT is the first book in her Ringside Romance series published this year, and I liked the odd-couple sweetness of it.

About the book:
Nolan Carmichael is getting a fresh start—new career, new company, new life. The only problem is, he liked his old life just fine . . . until an accident robbed him of his health, his job, his self-confidence, and his ability to go out in public without having anxiety attacks.

Zack Anderson has scared away his last four administrative assistants. So when he hires Nolan on a whim, he’s not too worried, since Nolan will be gone within the week anyway. Two weeks later, Nolan has made himself indispensable, completely reforming Zack’s schedule, life . . . and libido.

But in a company already torn by internal politics, one wrong step could ruin both their careers. And not only are they working to reopen Ringside Gym, Zack’s retreat when he was a troubled teen, but they also can’t help themselves falling for each other. If only the rest of their lives could go as smoothly as things do when they’re alone together.

My Review:
Nolan Carmichael suffered a devastating injury in a terrible car wreck two years ago. A couple of his co-workers didn’t and he lives with the pain of the injuries as well as their loss. It’s time, however, for him to work through his equally-crippling anxiety, and find a new job because his savings is dwindling and his younger sister’s job prospects might cause her to move soon. He goes to an interview as an admin assistant, where he meets a sexy man in the toilets just before he’s brought in for the interview. And, it turns out the sexy man he’d met is the office tornado, Chief Technical Officer and all-around admin terror, Zach Anderson.

Zach’s never had a male assistant before, and he’s chased off more than a few assistants already. His workload is becoming more than he can bear, however, especially if he wants to devote any thine to rehabbing Ringside Gym, the haven where he met his best pals in his youth. The owner had died and the place is a musty albatross that’s only going to become a bigger money pit the longer it sits vacant. But Nolan, despite his quirks, is a hard worker and unwilling to let Zach’s irrational mood shifts tear him down. Plus, they develop a rapport that only heightens their mutual attraction. Nolan’s also unwilling to let Zach’s dream die–and he works overtime to help him find a pathway to his true passion: building an LGBTQ-friendly gym and after-school shelter for kids in the city.

There’s a mess of office politics going on, as their company prepares for layoffs in order to mean a partnership agreement, and Zach is thoroughly upset that one of the jobs on the chopping block could very-well be Nolan’s. The thing is, Nolan is a different man to the one who barely made it to his interview. He still suffers the depression and anxiety, but he’s tested his resilience, and developed a stronger set of coping strategies. Zach’s friends recognize Nolan for the gem he is, and counsel Zach not to screw it up. But will having to fire the man he’s coming to care deeply for spell the end of the romance?

Spoiler: Nope. It’s a sweet and surprisingly tender read, though I was expecting far more boxing in this tale. Instead, there’s the clean-out of a musty gym, and the building of new dreams together. Also, some rather nice sexytimes, including an office scene that steamed up my screen. I look forward to reading on in this series and watching Zach’s pal Max find love.

Interested? You can find WORKING IT on Goodreads, Riptide Publishing, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks and Kobo.

About the Author:
A romance novelist and short story writer, Christine has over forty publications to her name. She loves to exercise and stops writing just long enough to keep her body in motion too. When she’s not pretending to be a ninja in her basement, she’s most likely spending time with her family and two dogs.

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

Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends!

Happy Book Birthday to LOVE BY NUMBER! Excerpt and Giveaway…

Hi there! Today I’m sharing an excerpt and giveaway for a new contemporary M/M romance from DJ Jamison. LOVE BY NUMBER is a standalone odd-couple romance that features a baseball statistician falling for an artist. I really enjoyed FULL DISCLOSURE, so I’m looking forward to reading this one!

Scroll down for the excerpt and to enter the $10 Amzzon GC giveaway!
About the book:
Aidan doesn’t have the best record with relationships, but he’s had a lifelong love affair with baseball. Player stats and computer simulations make sense. People don’t. But when he needs a ride to the World Series, he must rely on another person: a sexy artist who is as spontaneous as Aidan is predictable.

Jesse doesn’t care about baseball. As an artist, he’d rather paint a player than watch him at bat. But his grandpa loves the Kansas City Royals, so he takes him to every home game. He has no idea a fender bender in the parking lot is about to deliver new inspiration in the shape of a man with a whole bag of quirks.

Despite their differences, Jesse and Aidan hit it off, and their sexual chemistry is fantastic. But when Aidan’s numbers betray him, Jesse isn’t prepared for the fall-out. If Aidan continues to put his passion for baseball stats above everything else, he could miss out on the most important numbers in life: the number of smiles, kisses and laughs they could share in a lifelong journey together.

How about a little taste?

Aidan clutched at his hair, heart hammering in his chest. The front driver’s side of his black Saab was crumpled. The wheel well took a direct hit, the force of the collision pressing it into the tire. He could tell from just looking that the axle must be bent, if not broken, by the way the tire tilted at the wrong angle.

It’s not drivable, he thought, and his heart hammered harder. He felt his hands trembling, and not as an aftershock of the accident. Well, not from experiencing the accident, at least. He was shaking because his plans had just been thrown in the blender.

“Hey, you okay?”

He looked up, gazing blankly at the figure approaching him. A man, but his features were lost in the shadows. Not that Aidan could focus on something like facial features right now. That wasn’t easy on a good day, much less in a moment like this.

“It’s not that big a deal,” he muttered to himself, as he’d learned from his therapist years ago. “It’s not. It’s not. But …” He groaned and clutched at his hair some more. “How am I going to get to the World Series now? I have to get there!”

He’d wrapped up so many hopes in getting to that series, in watching the Royals perform in high-stakes games. It was the perfect time to prove out his math. It might not be rocket science, but Aidan still wanted to watch his math come to life on the baseball field, in the most important series of the season. In person.

A hand touched his shoulder, and he flinched away.

“I’m sorry. Are you hurt?” a voice asked. A nice, mellow voice. He liked the raspy quality of it and the cadence of the man’s words. His tone calmed Aidan.

He managed to drag his gaze from the damage to the man’s face. “I’m …”

Sexy Artist Guy.

He faltered when he recognized the dark hair tinted with maroon highlights, dark eyes and sculpted lips — all coming together in a perfect symmetry. A perfect representation of geometry in nature, really. And the freckles splashed over his nose, highlighted now by the security lights overhead? They somehow added to his sex appeal instead of detracting from it.

Aidan had seen an open sketchbook on this man’s lap more than once when passing by on a bathroom break. He mostly drew portraits, from the look of it, but Aidan had only caught a glimpse. It made sense he was an artist since his entire appearance was like a work of art to Aidan’s eyes. He couldn’t imagine being so creative with his hair or his wardrobe or his skin, where Sexy Artist Guy had embraced both tattooing (his right bicep) and piercing (both ears and right eyebrow).

“I’m so sorry,” Sexy Artist Guy said again. “I saw an opening and went for it. I didn’t see you coming, but my grandfather was distracting me—”

“Blame it on the old man, why don’t ya?” a hoarse voice boomed loudly enough to make Aidan jump.

“Gramps, not now, huh? The guy is freaking out.”

“I’m not freaking out,” Aidan said sharply. The fascination with the stranger’s face faded as he remembered why he was in this situation. He gestured to the damage. “There’s no way I can drive that.”

“We can give you a lift,” the old man said, at the same time the handsome stranger said, “We’ll call you a tow truck.”

“But look at my car!” he said, not sure they understood the direness of the situation.

Artist Guy frowned, then glanced behind Aidan. Following his look, he realized they were blocking traffic. A line of cars snaked through the parking lot, headlights shining on Aidan’s personal disaster.

“I should move my car.” He glanced back at the bent wheel well, frowning. He hoped he could move the car.

“Jesse,” the old man spoke, “you help him push. I’ll get in and put it in neutral.”

They all took their positions, and with some work managed to push the car into an empty space next to the Lincoln Towncar that had so cruelly crunched the Saab. Aidan cringed at the scraping metal sound as his car rolled out of the lane of traffic.

Once off to the side, Jesse pulled out his wallet. He handed his license to Aidan, who stared at it. He took in all the details: 6-foot-1, 175 pounds, brown hair, brown eyes, born one year after Aidan, making him twenty-six.

Jesse cleared his throat, and Aidan glanced up.

“Aren’t you going to take a picture?”

Damn. He’d been staring. The old saying popped into his mind: Take a picture, it’ll last longer.

He flushed. “Sorry.”

He started to hand the license back, but Jesse looked at him as if he had a screw loose. Then it clicked. Take a picture. For insurance. Right.

He dug out his phone and clicked the pic of the license, and then of the insurance card that Jesse handed over. He was still rattled by the accident, thrumming with bottled-up anxiety.

“You okay? You’re pretty twitchy,” Jesse said. “I’m sure the insurance will cover the damage.”

“Yeah, but it’s my car.”

“Yeah?”

Aidan waved to his car, unsure how to make Jesse understand.

“It was reliable.”

“Um, won’t it still be reliable when it’s fixed?”

“The World Series is in two days.”

“So …”

“Jesse, stop being thick,” the old man interrupted. “Obviously, he was going to drive up to St. Louis, and a Saab is a foreign car. He won’t be able to get the parts locally. Maybe not even the mechanic. They don’t make those cars anymore. He can’t get it fixed in time.”

“Oh.”

“I have to go to that game. I go to all the away games within driving distance. I always do. And this is the World Series. I’m going to have to take a bus, and, oh God, I can’t stand to ride the bus—”

“Jesse will drive you.”

Aidan looked at the older man. He had a bushy head of white hair and enough wrinkles to give a Shar-Pei a run for its money, but his tone was confident, the kind of confident that brooked no nonsense. He’d heard that tone from his own mother too many times to count.

“He will?”

“I will?” Jesse echoed. “Gramps, I’m sure Aidan doesn’t want—”

“That would be great!”

Normally, Aidan wouldn’t want to ride long distance with a stranger, but when contrasted with a bus full of strangers, he jumped at the opportunity. Besides, Jesse and his grandfather had been at every home game. If Jesse were some kind of predator or bully, he’d have shown it by now. Right?

He’d only had one other interaction with Jesse. He’d walked up to Aidan once, when he was trying to quickly record the stats from the latest play and compare them against what he’d predicted for that player’s performance. Aidan had been too distracted to make conversation, especially small talk with a stranger. But he couldn’t help noticing his great smile. Jesse was one of those people who smiled with his whole being, not just his mouth. His eyes brightened, his cheeks dimpled and his body even seemed to vibrate with happy energy.

Aidan liked that because it was easy to see Jesse’s happiness. It wasn’t subtle, which would be lost on him, or confusing — like when people’s mouths smiled but their eyes stayed cold. He didn’t understand that. Was he supposed to respond to their mouth or their eyes? And then there were some people who just smiled all the time, even when they said mean things. What did that mean? Smiles could be confusing, but Jesse’s wasn’t.

“I have tickets to the games,” Gramps was saying now. “I was going to ask you to go, as a favor to me.”

“What? But you said in the car—”

“Hush,” Gramps said, a gleam in his eye. “I’m not up for that kind of travel. I want you to go in my place, so you can tell me all about it. You take this nice young man. It’s the least we can do. Watch the games for me, and tell me all about it when you come home.”

Aidan pulled out his phone to call the tow truck, watching the two men in a staring stand-off. He made arrangements for the tow and disconnected in time to see Jesse sigh and nod.

“Okay, Gramps. For you.”

“Good boy,” Gramps said, clapping him on the shoulder.

Interested? You can find LOVE BY NUMBER on Goodreads and Amazon. Currently selling for $.99.

****GIVEAWAY****

Click on this Rafflecopter giveaway link for your chance to win a $10 Amazon gift card.
Good luck and keep reading my friends!

About the Author:
DJ Jamison grew up in the Midwest and worked in newsrooms for more than 10 years before trying her hand at romance writing. Her first m/m romance stories focused on a series of love connections between small-town Kansas newspaper staffers, their sources and their readers before she expanded into novels venturing into emergency rooms and other settings. She lives in Kansas with her husband, two sons and three glow-in-the-dark fish who are miraculously still alive. The same can’t be said for the hamster she got in college. RIP Bogie.

Catch up with DJ on her website, Facebook, twitter, and Goodreads.

Itching to Commit MISCONDUCT–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a newly released erotic menage romance from Samantha Kane. MISCONDUCT is the fourth book in her Birmingham Rebels series and yet I had not one trouble enjoying it as a standalone. The series features the pro football Birmingham Rebels team, and the lusty shenanigans that ensue… This book features a recovering combat veteran and two pals on the gridiron. Yum!

About the book:
The Birmingham Rebels play both sides of the field, proving that the hottest action isn’t always in the arena.
Rookie running back Tom Kelly loves the perks of football stardom. Men, women—there’s no shortage of companionship for a pro athlete who’s hot, young, and willing, and Tom is definitely willing. But deep down he wants a committed three-way relationship, especially if the female in the middle is Carmina de la Cruz. The undeniably sexy Army veteran may not say much, but her body speaks loud and clear.

After a traumatic tour in Afghanistan, Carmina is struggling to regain her speech and rebuild her life. More than anything, she wants to feel like a woman again. Tom may be a wholesome All-American, but he knows just how she needs to be touched—and he’s not the only Rebel who arouses her interest. With his scorching intensity, Tom’s best friend leaves her wondering if two players might be better than one.

Danny Smith is no stranger to his team’s kinky reputation. He gave in to temptation once, but he’s not going down that road again. Sure, Carmina’s curves promise pleasure, but her eyes guarantee it comes with baggage—and Danny has enough of his own. Still, giving up control can feel so good. And when it comes to everything Danny craves, Carmina and Tom make the perfect team.

My Review:
Carmina is a combat veteran from Afghanistan. More than three years ago she suffered a brain injury that still affects her balance and memory, but she’s worked through therapy enough that she only suffers anxiety and a speech impediment. Pretty much, she struggles to initiate words, and sometimes inadvertently switches between English and her native Spanish. It’s embarrassing and she self-isolates so she doesn’t feel humiliated. She has a dedicated dog for comfort, too.

Since her injury, Carmina hasn’t had an orgasm–not by herself, and not with another, not that she’s had sex in three years; she hasn’t. But being around all the sexy Birmingham Rebels is turning her head in two directions: at Tom and Danny, two players who couldn’t be more different.

Tom is the quintessential Nebraska farm boy with All-American good looks and a charm that would woo a man or woman. Which is good, because he openly plays for both teams. His roommate and closest friend on the team is Danny, a brooding black man with a bad history. Danny’s really close with one of the coaches, Marion, and he’s got a hidden spark for Tom because of, well, an orgy they participated in recently to, uh, help Marion get over a gang rape she’d experienced way back in college. (That was all part of a previous book…)

Okay, so Carmina wants Tom and Danny. Tom wants Carmina and Danny. Danny doesn’t want to admit he wants Tom, and doesn’t want the baggage of seriously dating anyone–which is what he thinks he’d have to do with Carmina. And, there’s the question of the elusive Big O. Tom volunteers to be Carmina’s sex coach, but it’s Danny who gets her off. And there’s jealousy. And boosy, bossy Tom who recognizes that Danny wants him, but only when he’s dominated.

I liked this story because it had a bunch of things going on in addition to the menage dynamics. Tom and Danny have an on-field nemesis that had hurt Marion way back when, and the team he plays for is the last on their schedule. Will there be retribution? Players get injured and the Rebels’ playoff dreams are in jeopardy. Further, Carmina has to learn to stand on her own feet, even when it shuts down the “help” of some of her closest pals. It’s still a sensual book, with MF, MM, and MFM activities, and the trio is engaging. I wanted all of them to find comfort in one another. So glad they did! Readers of the series will be happy to get some closure on earlier plot threads, as we have lots and lot of menage couples who peek into the book here and there. I’m looking forward to more sexy tales in this series, for sure.

Interested? You can find MISCONDUCT on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes and Kobo. I received a review copy via NetGalley.

About the Author:
Reviewers have called Samantha Kane “an absolute marvel to read,” and “one of historical romance’s most erotic and sensuous authors.” Her books have been called “sinful,” “sensuous,” and “sizzling.”

She is published in several romance genres including historical, contemporary and science fiction. Her erotic Regency-set historical romances have won awards, including Best Historical from RWA’s erotic romance chapter Passionate Ink, and the Historical CAPA (best book) award from The Romance Studio.

Samantha Kane has a master’s degree in American History, and taught high school social studies for ten years before becoming a full time writer. She lives in North Carolina with her husband and three children. Ms Kane loves to hear from readers.

You can find Samantha on her website, Facebook and twitter.

Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!

Overcoming the Hate–FIGHTER-A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a contemporary M/M sports romance from Carol Lynne. FIGHTER is a bit of a sports epic with a huge cast and a lot of heart.

About the book:
For Lucky Gunn, the hardest fight of his life happens outside the cage. On the south side of Chicago sits an old gym called The Brick Yard. Ten years ago, on a bitterly cold day, Lucky Gunn wandered into The Brick Yard dressed in a threadbare jacket, looking for refuge. He hadn’t expected the owner, Tony Brick, to welcome him with a job and a place to sleep when Lucky’s abusive and drug addicted mother made it too dangerous to return home.

Dray was a gay man living in a world of straight fighters. When his secret was exposed to the media, he dropped out, giving Lucky a piece of advice: if you want to make it as a MMA fighter, bury the part of yourself that won’t be accepted. Lucky discovered the cage was the perfect place to keep his demons at bay, but when he learns his trainer and mentor, Brick, is suffering from end-stage cancer, he begins to spiral out of control.

After eight years, Dray returns to help Lucky and Brick deal with the devastating news. With Dray so close, Lucky’s old desires return, and Dray teaches him more than how to fight. Torn between his career and the passion he feels for Dray, Lucky’s past demons resurface in full force, threatening his sanity and his budding relationship with Dray. Despite leaving the cage years earlier, Dray finds himself in the battle of his life with the only man he’s ever loved. Will he stand and fight, or walk away like he did years earlier?

My Review:
This is a bit of a “sports epic” in that the story arc stretches over the MMA fighting careers of two men and ten-ish years. Dray is an up-and-coming MMA fighter, the pride of The Brick Yard training facility on Chicago’s mean streets. He’s all set to get a title bout when his secret–that he’s gay–gets splashed out. Dray runs, unwilling to see how the fans hate him for his sexuality, heaving behind his mentor and pseudo-father Tony Brick, the man who raised him and saved his life in that broken down gym.

Flash-forward eight years: Lucky Gunn, who’d been a wide-eyed teen spending most of his nights in The Brick Yard’s laundry room, and watched Dray’s rise and fall is now out on the MMA circuit, only Tony’s too sick to be a good coach. He’s dying of cancer and it’s a huge mess. He reaches out to Dray to come back to Chicago and coach Lucky to a championship, and Dray resists. First, because he doesn’t want to taint Lucky’s career and later, because he’s really attracted to Lucky, and the feeling is mutual.

The thing is, Lucky’s not willing to hide his love for Dray, and he’s also doesn’t really care if his career suffers. He’s got a good life, now, and he wants a family like he’s built with The Brick Yard people, taking in runaways like Tony did with him. But, he can’t imagine doing it on his own, and he’s struggling watching Tony waste away.

So, for me, the book was less about coming out than it is about finding one’s tribe. Tony is a remarkable man whose history of saving young men from the mean streets dates back decades. The boys he saved number legion, but they all felt he was a father figure to only them. As Dray and Lucky comfort and care for Tony on his journey to peace, they learn how very much he cared for all of them, and their new passion, besides each other, becomes how to preserve Tony Brick’s legacy. They get some help from unlikely sources, but it only makes this whole story sweeter. Lucky’s still collecting kids, just the way Tony had, but now on a larger scale as they keep The Brick Yard open and include the special services help that these runaways need. Dray and Lucky are saving one kid at a time. Also, it’s good that both men are young, fit and fighters, because sometimes a bit of “Convincing” must be done to save kids from abusive parents who just won’t let go.

It’s a tender and compassionate story, and the stage is set for Dray and Lucky to make a real difference for the castaway gay youth on Chicago, it seems. Expect sweaty sexytimes and some grieving, too.

Interested? You can find FIGHTER on Goodreads, Pride Publishing, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble.

About the Author: In Carol Lynne’s words…
Well, to be honest, I’m completely boring. I spend my days juggling two young children and my writing career. You’re just as likely to either catch me writing a steamy love scene or scrubbing jelly out of the carpet.

Besides writing, my biggest passion is reading. I have a lot of authors I follow (no not in the stalking sense), but Sean Michaels, B.A. Tortuga, J.M. Snyder and Chris Owen have to be my all-time favorites.

Here are some unusual facts about me:

I drink gallons of coffee every day, but I much prefer instant. I catch all kinds of flack for this from my family and friends. Even though I only drink instant, I am very picky about which brand I buy. It must be Taster’s Choice or nothing.

I love country music, but can’t stand to have music playing in my house. Therefore, I don’t even own a stereo or radio of any kind. I listen to my tunes as I’m driving around town and that’s enough for me.

I like to refer to myself as underheight instead of overweight. I’m just sure that if I could add another six or seven inches to my short 5’2 frame, I’d be much thinner. Therefore, it’s not that I overeat, it’s just that I stopped growing.

I enjoy the Hallmark commercials more than I enjoy the Hallmark movies.

Well, sorry folks, that’s about all I’ve got for you. Maybe someday soon I’ll have something really exciting to put on this page, but for now, this is me in a nutshell.

Catch up with Carol on her website, and Facebook.

Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends!