Review: Summer Stock by Vanessa North

Tabloid scandals have driven TV star Ryan Hertzog to North Carolina’s Outer Banks, where he’s hiding out doing summer stock at his cousin’s seaside theater. When a hookup with local handyman Trey Donovan results in Ryan being photographed butt naked, he vows to keep his pants on and his hands off Trey. How was he supposed to know Trey would turn out to be the summer stock set builder?

Trey isn’t looking for a relationship; he’s still recovering from the emotional fallout of an abusive marriage. But Ryan’s laughter draws him in again and again, and he’s not about to say no to fooling around.

As the summer heats up, the paparazzi catch Ryan in increasingly compromising situations. Ryan might be too much drama for a summer fling—and Trey might be just an intermission from Ryan’s Hollywood life. But if they take their cues from Shakespeare, all’s well that ends well.


Facing scandal and the possible end of his Hollywood career, Ryan Hertzog’s exiled to his cousin’s seaside theatre in North Carolina for the summer. Though he isn’t too happy about it at first, he soon realizes that getting back to his roots may be just what he needs.

Ryan’s lonely, even more so now that his best friend, Ali, is on the other side of the country. Having to keep his bisexuality under wraps makes it difficult to have lasting relationships.

Trey Donovan, a summer stock set builder, has been slowly putting himself back in the dating scene. His experiences with an abusive husband have left him wary. But he finds himself unable to resist Ryan’s laughter and sunshine.

The two don’t start off on the best foot. They have a drunken hookup, but Ryan remembers little of it and then escapes in a hurry the next morning, leaving Trey a bit offended.

But they patch things up quickly, once Trey realizes that it was a fear of his massive dog that made Ryan skedaddle the way he did.

They both know that getting involved with a co-worker probably isn’t the best idea, but the attraction between them won’t quit.


The romance between Trey and Ryan is gradual and sweet. There’s very little drama. Though the both have their pasts, and Trey is still recovering from his abusive relationship, this isn’t a particularly angsty book.

The two spend a lot of time talking, sharing bits of themselves with one another. This is one of those books where you really see the MCs fall for each other.

And the sex is scorching. Ryan and Trey have some great chemistry!

Four secondary characters play important parts in the book - Ali, West, Cora, and Mason. All were well-rounded and complex characters, but I did feel that they took up too much of the spotlight at times.

As the summer comes to an end, the two have to figure out what to do next. I thought the bumps in their relationship were entirely realistic. Obstacles and compromises are a big part of making relationships work.

The happy ever after was perfectly done. Trey and Ryan find a solution that gives them everything. Perhaps it was a bit too perfect, but I loved it.


If you’re looking for a laid-back, sweet, and sexy read, I’d definitely recommend giving ‘Summer Stock’ a try!


An ARC was provided by NetGalley.

Guest Review: Good as Gold: A Villainous Love Story by T.J. Land

Being the most powerful superhero in the world can get lonely.

Ask the Golden Ranger. He’s still struggling to make friends after landing on Earth two years ago, even now that he’s become a member of the Remarkables. Humans are just so complicated, with their odd aversion to public nudity, their obsession with sex, and their temperamental genitals.

Thank goodness for his villains. Sure, they’re crooks and it’s his job to thwart them, but at least they offer him a chance for social interaction. And they’re all pretty cool, as villains go. Henry X has a gun that can fire anything from exploding bullets to robot bees, and he's also got these incredible biceps and warm brown eyes – not that the Golden Ranger cares about stuff like that. Light Brigade can create holograms, plus he’s handsome and snarky and covered in tattoos – again, not that the Golden Ranger cares. The Sash can use his clothing as a weapon, which isn’t really fair seeing as how his slinky body would be an effective weapon all by itself. Which isn’t something the Golden Ranger cares about. At all.

It’s possible that the other Remarkables are right when they accuse the Golden Ranger of being a little too intrigued by his rogues gallery. But he thinks they’re just jealous. Even so, when they tell him that Henry X, Light Brigade and the Sash are working for someone who might be a threat to the whole city, the Golden Ranger knows he needs to learn the truth. And what better way to do that than by adopting a civilian disguise and getting to know his villains personally? It’s a brilliant plan. Nothing can go wrong.

65K, M/M/M/M, standalone.


Reviewer: R *A Reader Obsessed*


Well that was certainly different!

Imagine a world where superheroes on a daily basis, go against their set group of villains, trying to thwart whatever current scheme they’re hatching. It’s basically a gentlemen’s agreement - fighting crime/doing crime - a delicate balance of not too much and not too little, keeping the cycle going in order to live to fight another day.

First, you have Golden Ranger, who’s not from these parts. He’s actually an alien who left his planet in search of a purpose, and thus picked Earth to use his indestructible self to do good. This is a guy who’s a little naive, a little innocent, one who doesn’t fully grasp the nuances of human nature but is so eager to learn and acclimate. As a member of the superhero team, the Remarkables, Ranger has been tasked to keep in line three villains, who each have extraordinary, mysterious weapons to aid their escapades. In order to learn more about them, he dons a civilian disguise to covertly do recon.

Funnily enough, Ranger is not fooling anybody, let alone his three villains. These guys are simply ordinary men wanting more out of life, whether that be notoriety, a sense of purpose, or simply to belong. They too, have vulnerabilities and flaws, revealing personal facets that definitely blur the line that sharply delineates “good” from “evil”. As these four dance and interact, all of them come to know each other better, not only through their masked identities, but their true selves outside their disguises. Understandably, feelings change, loyalty develops, and their dynamic slowly evolves beyond their initial fractious beginning, as each is lonely and yearning for more.

So to make a long story even longer, there’s definitely a certain kind of interplay taking place between all the superheroes and their nemeses, creating a somewhat orchestrated environment of peace. However, there’s unseen forces and players manipulating the situation and purposefully influencing these 4 men and how they do their “jobs”. What results is a very complicated relationship that can often be antagonistic, intense, and definitely proprietary, as they ultimately band together to fight a common foe.

I’m finding it difficult to quantify or explain this story, except that it was interesting and unique, with some fun and funny, lending a comic book vibe or oddly enough, akin to the cartoon movie The Incredibles. I was consistently entertained despite no overt smexiness and the need of a good edit. In return though, there is some sweet romance and carnal, emotional scenes that involve all 4 players in various different groupings, and ultimately encompassing the full M/M/M/M aspect. It was well done and totally plausible. Well... plausible in a world of superheroes and villains. Overall, if you want something different and like this particular genre, I don’t think you could go wrong.

Thanks to the author/publisher for a copy in exchange for an honest review.


https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/33554200-good-as-gold

Review: An Invitation by Jay Northcote

“I should put you over my knee and spank you for teasing me…”

Jake’s new boss, Cal Mackenzie, is hotter than hell. Fortified by a little liquid bravery on a work night out, Jake makes his move and finds out that Cal is interested too. To Jake’s dismay, Cal makes it clear that nothing is going to happen as long as they work together. Fortunately for both of them, this is just a temp job and there’s only a week left in the contract.

Cal admonishes Jake to behave while he waits, but as the week drags on, Jake can’t resist flirting and teasing. When Friday finally arrives, Cal shows Jake what happens to people who can’t follow his rules. Jake learns a surprisingly enjoyable lesson over Cal’s knee—one that he won’t forget in a hurry.

Length: 5870 words
This short story was originally published in the Juicy Bits anthology from Dreamspinner Press. It has been re-edited but no major changes have been made.


That was pretty damn sexy! Spanking at work and sex over the desk?!?! Hell YES!

This story is super short, so I didn’t expect, or want, a ridiculous HEA or a major emotional connection between the main characters. What I did want was some hot sex, humour if I was lucky enough and characters that feel realistic and that's what I got here.

Jake is working as a temp for Cal's company for a few short weeks and has quite the crush on his older and more distinguished boss.

There were a few disappointing moments such as Cal was waaaay to responsible and didn’t have sex with Josh until he’d officially stopped working for him, I mean, where's the fun in that! I want some taboo boss sex. Also Jake’s crush on Cal was very sudden, but given the length of the story it's fairly understandable.

Worth the read if you want something quick, light and a tiny bit kinky to pass a bit of time.



https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34489157-an-invitation

Blog Tour: Fishy Riot by Lindsey Black


Lindsey Black is making her clubhouse debut on the Release Day of her first novel!

Big Unicorn welcome and Happy Release Day!


There are a lot of lists out there along the lines of ‘hottest occupations’. We’ve all contributed at some point; a man in uniform, the military, police and firemen. Perhaps it was the intellectual—the teacher, the professor, the scientist, perhaps the occasional astronaut. Or sometimes it’s the trade, we like a plumber, an electrician or the odd builder. And then of course there is the sportsmen, because who doesn’t like a good footy or hockey player, right? There’s something about a man who works. I can’t say I’ve strayed far from the traditional in that sense with Fishy Riot; a policeman and a classical musician is an odd combination but both would be considered ‘attractive’ in the traditional sense. Though honestly, in Australia no one is really lining up to date a classical musician unless they’re in an AC/DC cover band.
Regardless, I thought it would be fun to briefly explore the attractive men of the Northern Territory, where I live, and what would be considered ‘stereotypically’ attractive. And by that I mean a completely separate species of man that is wholly un-attractive. I confess I enlisted the assistance of several companions in the creation of our list, but I hope it gives you a good chuckle. Here’s our wanted ad, for that special someone…
Wanted: True-Blue Territory (Bogan) Bloke
Requirements:
1. Must be unemployed, with nothing better to do than spend every waking hour administering to my needs. None of this 70 hour work week business. Not owning your own home is a bonus, you can move in immediately. Preferably on the dole, so you can help pay the rent. Basics card preferred, so you can’t go on any benders without my assistance.
2. No fancy bottles of wine for dinner, this lovely gent knows to turn up with a goon bag and knows how to hang it on the line. BYO plastic cups to avoid meningococcal, thanks. Doesn’t try to drink his partner’s goon and instead brings a carton of XXXX for himself.
3. Preferred footwear is thongs. Design matters; red white and blue colouring is obviously best but green and gold is tolerable. Singlets are clearly the shirt of choice, bonus points for both nipples out. Shorts, the shorter the better, stubbies clearly…no underwear, let it hang. We don’t like to restrict ourselves in this kind of heat.
4. Some scientific knowledge preferable, to run garage hydroponics, background in economics useful, or at least able to count notes. If unable, must own vehicle (unregistered is fine, no expectation that you actually have a license due to understandable charges) so you can pick up from dealer down the road. Short trip, fuel money provided since no Uber in NT.
5. No need for walks on the beach, have the app to put it on the TV, just need to walk to the couch together for Netflix and chill. No oysters, I’m allergic to seafood, just bring shark and taties from the corner store when you go for darbs.
6. Don’t expect to spend all your time with me; must have close knit circle of friends who are welcome at the house anytime, but must sleep outside. The bitza-dog you provide from the pound will be adequate protection from itinerants who somehow meander innocently into the kitchen through the dead-bolted door in their search for hydration and find only beer in the fridge.
7. Must enjoy piggin’ with the boys to provide for family. Bulk spotties on the Ute; must be a Ute so we can chuck the barbie in the back to cook ‘em up on the spot.
8. Tinny ownership preferred. You can always ‘borrow’ the neighbours though, he’s totes cashed up. 
9. Yuppie Barista types need not apply, but if you can shake Nescafe into a mug and stir it with anything but your finger, you’re already in front of the tea baggers. If you know what Chai is, don’t bother applying, ‘cos you'll be drinking that shit on your own.
Of course, it’s unlikely you’ll get many responses to this ad if you don’t live local to the NT, but perhaps you’ve discovered something special you can add to your own dating apps. Should you respond to an advertisement like that above and actually attend a party, do not be in any way surprised if you are expected to participate in a round of Goon of Fortune.
Goon of Fortune is a real game. The hills hoist clothesline was invented in Australia, as was the goon bag, so it should come as no surprise that someone invented a way to use both of these inventions in tandem. Basically, everyone stands around in a circle around the clothesline, and you hang a goon bag from one of the lines. The line is spun and whoever it lands above must tip their head back and take a drink. On and on and on… No wonder the world thinks Australians are alcoholics. We turned hanging out the washing into a drinking game! You’re welcome.
I hope you enjoy Fishy Riot and that it gives you a reason to laugh.
Release date for Fishy Riot: April 24th
Blurb:
Most people think riot squad officer Taylor Jameson is an asshole. Little do they know his apparent indifference stems from having a meddlesome family always butting into his business. And little does Taylor know he’s about to stumble into a situation that’ll make indifference impossible.
When everything goes horribly wrong at a political rally on a harbour ferry, Taylor encounters Sietta Salisbury. The son of a wealthy politician, Sietta is a revered—but presumed dead—musician, and an enigma who is so strange, Taylor is compelled to look into his background. What he discovers draws him into a bizarre mess of prisoners, politics, and attempted murder that makes him realise what he’s been missing.
Falling in love isn’t hard. Trying to convince someone else you’re worth loving despite your crazy family and the people trying to kill you? That’s a whole other can of worms.

About Lindsey Black:
Lindsey Black lives in Darwin, Australia, where the weather report permanently reads ‘humidity at 100%, only going to get worse’ for ten months of the year and ‘monsoon at 4:00 p.m. for exactly fifteen minutes’ for the remaining two. Between teaching and studying full-time, she escapes this oppressive environment to bushwalk for weeks on end wherever the mobile phone reception has zero bars for as long as possible and the weather report reads something along the lines of ‘blizzard likely.’ She enjoys martial arts, music, and mayhem, which explains the untidy state of her home where she attempts to write while splitting her minimal amounts of spare time between her incredulous husband, lazy Chinchilla cat, and crazed Siberian husky. If you expect her to sit and have a chat, it’s best to have a matcha green tea latte with almond milk on hand and your hiking boots within reach. Oh, and be sure to bring a guitar for impromptu jam sessions.
You can find Lindsey on facebook / twitter / www

Review: The Star of Versailles by Catherine Curzon & Willow Winsham

As the Reign of Terror tears Paris apart, a dandy and a spy are thrown together on a desperate race through France.

In the darkest days of the Reign of Terror, rumors grow of the Star of Versailles, the most exquisite treasure ever owned by the doomed Marie Antoinette. For Vincent Tessier, the notorious Butcher of Orléans, this potent symbol of the ancien régime has become an obsession and he’ll stop at nothing to possess it.

When Alexandre Gaudet arrives in France to find his missing sister and nephew, the last thing he expects is to fall into Tessier’s hands. Tortured and left for dead, salvation stumbles accidentally, if rather decorously, into his path.

For Viscount William Knowles, life as a spy isn’t the escape he had hoped for. Yet a long-held secret won’t let him rest, and the fires of revolution seem like the easiest way to hide from a past that torments him at every turn.

Adrift in a world where love, family and honor are currencies to be traded, the world-weary Viscount Knowles and the scandalous Monsieur Gaudet have no choice but to try and get along if they want to survive. With Tessier in pursuit, they search for the clues that will lead them to the greatest treasure in revolutionary France—the Star of Versailles.




This was yet another slam dunk request, because French historical. The Star of Versailles is set during the French Revolution's Reign of Terror.




It is largely a fictional book but it does fold in some historically accurate information and if you know not of the French Revolution, it was a bloody affair. The authors did not pull any punches when it came to depicting the torture either. Beware the first 15% or so is predominantly Gaudet being tortured by Tessier. 

Then it mostly settles into a slow burn, opposites attract romance between William and Gaudet. 

William Knowles is an English spy who has adopted the persona of Yves Morel to infiltrate Tessier's inner circle. He's an introverted loner and a man of few words who has made every effort to submerge himself in work. He has his reasons for his escapist ways which are eventually revealed. He's also been straight up until he meets the fiery and irresistible Alexandre Gaudet.

Gaudet is his polar opposite in most ways. He's flamboyant, has close ties to the French royal family, has never met a stranger, is a chatterbox and a clotheshorse and has a penchant for wearing powder, rouge and the occasional dress. I was really looking forward to that dress but it never appeared. *pouty face* He's also outspoken, passionate, is utterly and completely devoted to his girl, "Mademoiselle Papillon", a poodle and reads very French. Despite what his outward appearance might lead one to believe, he's very perceptive and intelligent. I was a smitten kitten. 

This narrative is an ensemble cast with lots of head hopping. It's split between the burgeoning romance between William and Gaudet and the quest to find the Star of Versailles, a ginormous diamond of Marie Antoinette's. It's an obsession of Tessier's and it's likely in the possession of Claudine Gaudet, Gaudet's sister who was a former lady-in-waiting of the court.



The Star of Versailles is full of adventure and a toe curling romance saturated with UST. The authors did a great job of building tension and once they are together there is no contrived conflict. They just want to be together as much as the time period will permit and safe. They do get the HEA but they have to find Gaudet's sister and get out of France first. Both of these objectives push the plot forward. I would've liked an epilogue, though.

I don't ordinarily have a problem with head hopping but the head hopping has to have a purpose, has to drive the plot and there were too many times when I felt it was superfluous. I would've liked for the story to be tighter with less meaningless minutiae that could've been edited out altogether. 

Also, it says this book is 270 pgs on Goodreads. Ummm are those scroll pages?



Because they most assuredly are not kindle pages.

In the end I did enjoy this story, though I wish it had been more focused on the romance between Gaudet and William even though I did like the majority of the cast and thought they were all well drawn secondary characters whether they were "good" or "bad". There are strong female characters, adorable kids that read age appropriate, intelligent and sometimes monstrous men and one charming as all get out staring poodle. I should warn that there are on page mf interactions for those that find that problematic in their mm reads.

Recommend to historical fans, particularly French history.



A review copy was provided.





Audiobook Review: Rough Edges by Cardeno C.

Kyle has an unwelcome crush on his nemesis Brent. Brent has a welcome crush on his friend Kyle. As it turns out, the line between a friend and an enemy doesn't have to be a line at all.

Born on the wrong side of the tracks to the wrong family, Kyle Potter has spent his life clawing his way toward a better future. When he gets the perfect job at the perfect firm in perfect Los Angeles, Kyle is sure there are only blue skies ahead. And then he meets perfect Brent Haralson.

Born with a silver spoon to a well-established family, Brent Haralson has never been interested in leveraging his connections. Friends, success, and dates come easily to Brent and rejection isn't something he has to deal with in life. And then he meets perfect Kyle Potter.

Kyle despises his unwelcome crush on his lazy, arrogant nemesis. Brent welcomes his feelings for his stubborn, brilliant friend. As it turns out, the line between a friend and an enemy doesn't have to be a line at all.

Listening Length: 1 hour and 52 minutes
Narrator: Kevin Chandler


Another Cardeno C winner for me! Short and contemporary from this author seems to work for me.

I love a lot of tropes, but enemies to lovers is near and dear. In Rough Edges, the enemies are within a group of friends.



Can we say awkward especially when they all hangout?

Thirty-something year old Kyle is determined. He's come a long way from that trailer park in Alabama. He fought and studied hard to be a professional at a prestigious firm in LA. He's got the right clothes, the perfect job, and soon to be the perfect condo. And others think he's a pretentious snob, so what? He's earned it. What he can't stand are people who are "lazy" and live off their trust funds without working and making something of themselves.

Unfortunately, the guy he started to crush on when he first moved to LA, Brent, falls under that category. And Kyle's been prejudiced ever since. Two years has passed from that initial magic meeting. The vitriol that Kyle spews is still iron strong. He digs at the happy go lucky Brent any chance he gets.

One day Kyle loses it all. (Cardeno is good at that, giving a character maximum crap day dealings by the boatload) And you know who helps the pissy guy out? You guessed it, Brent. They become roommates.

In this book the enmity read more one sided but Brent had the mouth and backbone to give as good as he got. But damn is Kyle a prick to Brent. I get Kyle's mindset: when you come from nothing and have to fight for any semblance normal you can get, you could resent others who have it easier aka born with a silver spoon in their mouths.

But Brent's not that guy. He's so likeable. He gets under Kyle's skin. And best part is he gets why Kyle is the way he is toward him.

Kyle is angry and pretentious and that stick in his ass is rooted deep. (The thing is I expected Kyle to be appreciative and humble. But he's not that guy.)



Thankfully, the chemistry is there. And we got dual POV because if it was one sided, I might not have bought it.

I both read and listened to new to me narrator, Kevin Chandler. I think he did a pretty good job. And I would listen to him again. Chandler didn't make all the voices distinct.  But I loved what he does for Kyle's voice. I knew exactly where he was from (the South). And when Kyle gets upset, the Southern intensifies. That was the best part of the audiobook, his take on Kyle.

The roommates learn about each other. That years long lust that was shelved for Kyle's ridiculousness? It comes off the shelf...

"When you want more, I'll give you my dick and then we can see which of us is begging to finish first."

Yes!

The sex is hot, nothing extreme. But the author sets up the characters to share just enough of themselves for the moment to feel intimate. Having Chandler narrate those bits didn't hurt.

Someone's monogamous and definitely a relationship guy. (Cardeno C staple!) Once bedroom action happens, he wants his man. The relationship is not one sided. And the guys seemed to be a great fit, in and out of the bedroom.

Kyle's the type of character who needs to learn as a person to grow. I think he's still a work in progress. He shares his inner demons with Brent. And Brent brings out the best in him.

Overall, a pretty great story with good narration. I'd recommend either version: ebook or audio.





https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34207821-rough-edges

Audiobook Review: Drama Muscle (Nicky and Noah Mystery #2) by Joe Cosentino

It could be lights out for college theatre professor Nicky Abbondanza. With dead bodybuilders popping up on campus, Nicky, and his favorite colleague/life partner Noah Oliver, must use their drama skills to figure out who is taking down pumped up musclemen in the Physical Education building before it is curtain down for Nicky and Noah. Complicating matters is a visit from Noah’s parents from Wisconsin, and Nicky’s suspicion that Noah may be hiding more than a cut, smooth body.

You will be applauding and shouting Bravo for Joe Cosentino’s fast-paced, side-splittingly funny, edge-of-your-seat entertaining second novel in this delightful series. Curtain up and weights up!


Narrator: Chip Hurley
Listening Length: 6 hours and 6 minutes



Reviewer: Shee Reader



This is the second Nicky and Noah Mystery, and I didn’t know quite what to expect, since I had not read or listened to the first one.

Nicky and his life partner Noah are both professors in the drama department at the tiny campus college in Vermont. They have teamed up with the bodybuilding department (who knew such a thing existed? Not me!) to help produce an outstanding body building contest. Suddenly the contestants (and some faculty too) are dropping like flies, and Nicky always seems to be on hand with his over the top amateur sleuthing whenever a new dead body comes to light.

The long-suffering detective who was the happy recipient of Nicky’s “Help” in the first book is back again. There is a huge number of suspects for Nicky to snoop around and each and every one is like a larger than life caricature, so much so, that the descriptions are somewhat cartoony, but are none the worse for that.

How Nicky manages to fit in his teaching time, working out, popping vitamins, amateur detective work and taking part in his and Noah’s enthusiastic sex life I have no idea!

We are left hanging until the end for our ‘who dunnit?’ and the journey is magical.

What can I say about this audio book? It was fun, funny, cheeky, sassy, tongue-in-cheek, over the top and brilliant. The writing is so energetic and hilarious and the narration was awesome. Such good characterisation and an engaging tone. It was exhausting in the best possible way. If I had one tiny criticism, it would be that the book is so over the top that I had to be in the right frame of mind to listen to it, but really it was so much fun. Recommended!

I was given a free copy of the audio book in exchange for an honest review.


https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34680018-drama-muscle

Giveaway + Blog Tour: Shelter the Sea (The Roosevelt, #2) by Heidi Cullinan



Heidi Cullinan is here today to promote the second book in The Roosevelt series, Shelter the Sea

She's also offering a pretty cool giveaway. See details at the bottom!

Love Doesn’t Make Depression Go Away

An important element in Emmet and Jeremey’s relationship will always be the factor of Jeremey’s depression and anxiety. In Shelter the Sea, Jeremey’s depression intensifies, which can be common for someone in his stage of relationship and life development—but of course it can also happen to someone with major depressive disorder for no discernible reason at all. And so because Emmet is Jeremey’s partner, he must learn how to manage how Jeremey’s intensifying depression relates to his own life.
Being the partner of someone with depression can be a challenge, and handling that mantle improperly can inadvertently make the loved one’s burden worse. In Emmet’s case, he also has his own unique needs to consider, meaning the situation is even trickier. Part of the reason I wanted to show this chapter of their story was to let the reader see how the two of them navigated this aspect of their relationship, but it was also to drive home the reminder that for people with depression, falling in love doesn’t magically make their depression leave.
My partner struggles with depression (and is open about his issues), and we learned a number of lessons the hard way when he was first diagnosed. For the longest time I kept trying to fix the situation, to help him, to make his sadness go away, and he wanted it to go, so he let me try. It’s an irresistible impulse for many partners of people with depression, because it’s almost physically painful to see someone you love be swallowed by a black hole you can’t see, touch, or fight in any way. The hard lesson all of us in that position eventually have to learn is to be supportive, not invasive. We can stand beside the black hole, and we can send in love and support and maybe the occasional load of supplies, but we can’t go inside. It’s not our depression, it’s not our battle. It’s not ours to fix.
I wanted to let Emmet struggle with this issue, but I also wanted him to be smarter than I was and get to the better path faster—because at the end of the day Emmet would say he’s smarter than I am, and he would be correct. I hope you enjoy reading how Emmet and Jeremey find their way to the next phase of their happy ever after together, and all the new aspects that make of that journey.


Service Dogs, Therapy Dogs, and Emotional Support Animals

In Shelter the Sea, one of the characters acquires a service dog during the course of the novel, and in researching for the book, one of the most interesting things I learned was that the terms service dog, therapy dog, and emotional support dog are not interchangeable, that each animal does a slightly different job and has a distinctly different classification.
Service dogs are specifically trained to assist one person, and their primary function isn’t to provide companionship or emotional support, though the individual they care for often forms a tight bond with the dog and vice versa. They’re required (and trained to) tolerate a wide variety of experiences, environments, and people. They’re also covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act, meaning their owners have a right to bring them into public establishments, and they may live with their owners even if the building has a “no pets” policy.
Therapy dogs can also tolerate a wide variety of experiences and environments, but they aren’t trained to support just one person, meaning they aren’t tailored specifically for them. They’re trained to assist generally, helping multiple people. They aren’t covered by the ADA, as they aren’t designed for individuals, only for specific spaces and instances where there would be no conflict for their use.
Emotional support animals, which can include dogs but don’t always necessarily only include them, are mostly there to provide, as the name suggests, emotional support. They aren’t covered by the ADA, as the ADA has ruled their work isn’t directly related to their disability and they’re not specifically trained for that individual, and therefore they can’t necessarily go everywhere. They are, however, sometimes allowed in places with “no pets” policies.
You can read more about the rules about service, therapy, and emotional support animals on the ADA website.
Some heroes wear capes. Some prefer sensory sacks.
Emmet Washington has never let the world define him, even though he, his boyfriend, Jeremey, and his friends aren’t considered “real” adults because of their disabilities. When the State of Iowa restructures its mental health system and puts the independent living facility where they live in jeopardy, Emmet refuses to be forced into substandard, privatized corporate care. With the help of Jeremey and their friends, he starts a local grassroots organization and fights every step of the way.
In addition to navigating his boyfriend’s increased depression and anxiety, Emmet has to make his autistic tics acceptable to politicians and donors, and he wonders if they’re raising awareness or putting their disabilities on display. When their campaign attracts the attention of the opposition’s powerful corporate lobbyist, Emmet relies on his skill with calculations and predictions and trusts he can save the day—for himself, his friends, and everyone with disabilities.
He only hopes there isn't a variable in his formula he’s failed to foresee.

Buy links: Amazon USAmazon UKBarnes & NobleiTunesKobo, Tolino, Smashwords

Author Bio

Heidi Cullinan has always enjoyed a good love story, provided it has a happy ending. Proud to be from the first Midwestern state with full marriage equality, Heidi is a vocal advocate for LGBT rights. She writes positive-outcome romances for LGBT characters struggling against insurmountable odds because she believes there’s no such thing as too much happy ever after. When Heidi isn't writing, she enjoys cooking, reading, playing with her cats, and watching television with her family. Find out more about Heidi at heidicullinan.com.

Carry the Ocean + Shelter the Sea signed paperbacks and Roosevelt Blues Brother kit (black fedora and skinny tie); runs from April 12-May 5!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Review: A Boy Worth Knowing by Jennifer Cosgrove

Ghosts can’t seem to keep their opinions to themselves.

Seventeen-year-old Nate Shaw should know; he’s been talking to them since he was twelve. But they aren’t the only ones making his high school years a living hell. All Nate wants is to keep his secret and keep his head down until he can graduate. That is, until the new boy, James Powell, takes a seat next to him in homeroom. James not only notices him, he manages to work his way into Nate’s life. But James has issues of his own.

Between dead grandmothers and living aunts, Nate has to navigate the fact that he’s falling in love with his only friend, all while getting advice from the most unusual places.

Ghosts, bullies, first love: it’s a lot to deal with when you’re just trying to survive senior year.

Sold, sold, sold by that GORGEOUS cover and the fact that I like me some ghosties in my reading!

My rating for this was hovering between the 3.75 and 4 heart mark, I decided to round it up though because I did enjoy the story. It was a cute YA with a bit of a twist and I think the premise could have  made it a 5 heart read for me, but I felt the narrative needed a little tightening up.

What I liked was the relationship between Nate and James. I love friendships that develop into something more. I love reading about characters who are perhaps a bit different, I like finding out why they don't quite fit into the society created for them by the author. Getting to know characters like these and seeing more of them than their book peers can makes for a great story as far as I'm concerned. Once I'm relating to the character I'm on their side and wanting them to win through. Nate and James both had me rooting for them.

In some ways though, this story felt a bit 'bitty'. There were parts of the plot that needed editing through. One of my notes says why so many movies? Because this duo seemed to watch a lot of films - but they didn't add to or tie into the plot in any way. I have to admit watching a good night of telly is my idea of fun in my old age, but it seems like this young couple of friends can't find anything else to do. It didn't feel ironic or meant though, just a bit unimaginative and lazy on the part of the author. There felt no reason to it other than the MC's had to be doing something...

The other point that felt irrelevant to the story was the whole Nate not living with his mum thing. There seemed no point to it, it added nothing to the story other than a few extra words. I'm going to misquote something I read years ago, I believe it was by Alfred Hitchcock but I could (and am highly likely to) be completely wrong about that. It went something along the lines of, if there is an umbrella in scene 1, it had better have rained by scene 3. Basically, everything added needs to have  a definite reason for being there and I couldn't see the reason for Nate having to live with his aunt.

That said, as I started with, this was an enjoyable read, I just wish it had had one more story edit by the author to tighten it all up a bit. 
A copy of this book was given in exchange for an honest review.
For more information see Goodreads.

Review: No Matter What by Sydney Presley

They must protect each other. No matter what.

Quinn has resigned himself to living a life alone. His cabin, on the outskirts of a village, is the perfect place for him to paint. No distractions, lots of peace and quiet—until he goes out for a run as a wolf and sees another wolf scarpering for its life.

Goddard is that wolf. He’s been running for God knows how long, and he’s tired of looking over his shoulder, waiting to be found by the one man Goddard doesn’t want finding him. Injured, he discovers a cabin and goes inside.

Quinn’s and Goddard’s lives are changed forever when they realize they are bonded mates. The thing is, there’s still the problem of the man from Goddard’s past to get over, and when an incident in the village means Goddard’s whereabouts is public knowledge, things might take a nasty turn.

Gone are the days when the two men had to stick by human law. Being mated means wolf law comes first—and if it means killing to keep each other safe, then that’s what they’re prepared to do. They must protect each other. No matter what.




*** I am going to start this off with the warning that this book has on page killing of a woman and children and is done so not as wolves. It’s told in flashback but I felt it was important for anyone who could be affected by reading the scene. ***


Quinn left the busy city life that he knew to live out in the remote country. The stress of hiding the secret of his wolf was becoming too much and the quiet country life with just him and his art was appealing. When he has a restless night and decides to let his wolf run to exhaust him to sleep, he comes across wolf being hunted by his farmer neighbor and tries to help. The wolf evades Quinn but ends up naked and shifted back into human form on Quinn’s kitchen floor and this is how we meet Goddard.


Told from the dual POV of the wolves, we get a very British story that is a different take on shifters than I have read so far. Traditionally when you have mates, there is sense of insta-knowing that the wolf across from you IS your mate and both wolves have the urgency to get it on - RIGHT. THE. FUCK. NOW - but with Quinn and Goddard it’s more of a questioning the feelings game. There is no pack politics in this book and actually not a lot of pack knowledge at all. Goddard knows a bit more than Quinn but really, all they know is a small handful of stories about the need to roam being the call of one’s mate but neither man holds it to gospel.


“Do you like it, roaming? I ask because my grandfather did it once. Took about five years out, he said, to be just wolf. Then he ended up in a small town and saw my grandmother.”


“Sounds like he roamed until he found his mate. That’s what we’re meant to do, isn’t it? But I always thought it was bullshit. A myth.”


We find out that Goddard is on the run, though we don’t get reason immediately. There is a brief discussion of both men being shifters and of Brent, the farmer, who shot Goddard. When Brent, shows up at Quinn’s door asking about the “dog” that was sleeping in his barn, Quinn doesn’t exactly lie saying he hasn’t seen it as Goddard is a wolf and the farmer leaves. What he leaves is a shaken Goddard who is finds himself quickly liking hanging out with Quinn and has no idea Quinn is feeling the exact same way.

Quinn decides to let Goddard rest at his place after being hunted and shot by the farmer and Goddard in appreciation, offers to help Quinn out with a few jobs around the house.


The story moves fairly quick, as it’s a short, with the relationship though we don’t get much character development of Quinn nor Goddard. We do get flashbacks of Goddard's life allowing us to know why is running and from whom and that flashback is the trigger I mentioned earlier. I find the reason a bit of a suspension of reality because it didn’t seem like enough to have him running as a wolf for so long but it also wasn’t enough to bug me.


I liked the romance and the new to me mate deal. It’s slower and less shall we say, slutty than the usual fated mate stories that I read but I liked it. The pace was enough to briefly get to know bits of each man; have their pasts meet their present and move forward into their future and the epilogue was enough to give me satisfaction and closure.


This wasn’t a mind blowing sexy AF fated mate story I am used to, but it was a decent romance read quickly at my desk during a short work day that let me get lost.


https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34098114-no-matter-what

Review: Berzerker (Twirled World Ink #1) by J.M. Dabney

Welcome to Twirled World Ink where the crazies run the asylum. 

The hum of a tattoo machine was Brian “Berzerker” Anderson’s favorite sound in the world. He’d won a coveted spot at Twirled World Ink with a legend in the business, Gib Phelps. Creating beauty with his large, scarred hands was his happy place—the place where he fit in the world. Although, nothing could remain perfect forever, his boyfriend of over a year decided to move on and up without him in tow. He had two choices, return to living with his friends and co-workers or take an offer too tempting to pass up.

Landon Phelps grew up in an unconventional home as the only child to Legendary Tattoo Artist Gib Phelps and mother, Peaches. He always felt a bit out of place when he became a boring accountant instead of following in his parents’ footsteps. Boundaries were in place early on; he didn’t date the employees of Twirled World Ink. Sometimes rules were meant to be broken. Bezerker was his idea of perfection, large, husky and tattooed; the thick, grab-worthy beard was a bonus. So when the boyfriend became the ex, Landon decided it was time to get his man.

With the help of the matchmaking Twirled Crew, can Landon finally get Berzerker to see him as more than a friend and the employer’s son?

Author's Note: Although this is the first book in a series each book is a standalone and every book deals with a separate couple.


The blurb caught my eye with the description of Zerk from the get go. His description is basically my character crack so there was no way I wasn’t going to be reading this one. And I liked it, it was a good low angst story with appealing characters and a positive set up for the series.

On the upside, the theme is like brain candy; a tattoo parlor full of misfits, one of whom is a delicious toppy bear who’s been unlucky in love, his complete opposite who has been in love with him forever and a shared kink for rough possessive boneage. SOLD! I appreciated the fact that the story was low on the angst and high on the fluffy love. Turns out Zerk and Landon had been crushing on one another for years and all the pining is finally paying off. Zerk has been dumped by his douche of a BF and Landon is conveniently single too so the two enter into a roommate deal and the friendship escalates to teasing and flirting and it was really just sweet as hell.

The supporting characters are truly supportive, not just accessories to the tale of Zerk and Landon. There’s enough info on the rest of the crew to set up further books without distracting the reader away from the MC’s.

It fell into a couple of traps though that took me out of the story now and again. The use of the word “man” just kills me sometimes. And this is a personal niggle of mine, but it makes the speaker’s voice sound too diva in my head and I just long for a name or a more prolific descriptor to give actual spice to the scene, not

“ . . . Landon’s claim on the big, gruff man.”
“ . . . Landon couldn’t help laughing at the man’s sulk.”
“In this case, the pretty man bent over the nearest surface . . .”

They’re men, I got it, give me something else.

I didn’t really ding for the editing, because I try not to let that get me too much and usually it doesn’t, but I also know it can really dig at some readers so I have to mention it as it did effect my enjoyment of the story. When a question is being asked, I need a question mark and too many pronouns and the overuse of “man” instead of a name had me rereading conversations to get the correct tone and to figure out who the hell said what 4 lines later. No major changes are needed, but some thorough editing would raise this story up a notch.

All that being said, it’s the start of a fun series and I’ve already bought the second one because I do like the world the author has built and I know enough about the secondary characters to know I want to read their HEA’s too.


**a copy of this story was provided for an honest review**