Audiobook Review: Fever Pitch (Love Lessons #2) by Heidi Cullinan

Sometimes you have to play love by ear.

Aaron Seavers is a pathetic mess, and he knows it. He lives in terror of incurring his father’s wrath and disappointing his mother, and he can’t stop dithering about where to go to college—with fall term only weeks away. Ditched by a friend at a miserable summer farewell party, all he can do is get drunk in the laundry room and regret he was ever born. Until a geeky-cute classmate lifts his spirits, leaving him confident of two things: his sexual orientation, and where he’s headed to school.

Giles Mulder can’t wait to get the hell out of Oak Grove, Minnesota, and off to college, where he plans to play his violin and figure out what he wants to be when he grows up. But when Aaron appears on campus, memories of hometown hazing threaten what he’d hoped would be his haven. As the semester wears on, their attraction crescendos from double-cautious to a rich, swelling chord. But if more than one set of controlling parents have their way, the music of their love could come to a shattering end.

Warning: Contains showmances, bad parenting, Walter Lucas, and a cappella.

Cute, cute, CUTE. 

Oh my cuteness.

Giles and Aaron's slow burn, enemies to lovers story was basically perfect.

Giles went away to college in hopes of leaving behind all the crap he dealt with in high school. Then, right away, he sees Aaron. A guy who he thinks used him, just like all the others, from his high school. Kinda rained on his parade. Of course, Aaron was actually there because he liked Giles, but Giles was too bitter to even contemplate that thought.

When Aaron first arrives at college, much to his dismay, Giles doesn't give him the warm welcome he was hoping for. Giles just delivers the death stare and Aaron gets the message loud and clear. On top of that, his roommate, Elijah (oh, Elijah) is totally rude and weird, with friends that wear anti-gay shirts all the time. Although he doesn't get Giles, eventually, Aaron does find his place at college.

I'd usually be totally against a Big Misunderstanding for this much of a story, but not only did it make complete sense, there was a whole cast of amazing characters to amuse me while I waited for Aaron and Giles to happen. Really, I could listen to a book about this group of college students even if there wasn't any romance. They are that good. Especially Walter. Be still my heart, Walter. He makes me melt all over with his fierce loyalty and all-consuming love for the people in his life.

Both Aaron and Giles go about their business, actively avoiding each other, until circumstances bring them together. They can ignore each other's existence no more. Their tentative friendship was so cute, mostly because they were trying so hard not to jump all over each other the whole time. But then, it finally happened.

The Kiss.

Good-NESS, Ms. Heidi Cullinan made them work for it. This was no "I think you're cute, let me kiss you" deal. No, there was angst and tension surrounding their first kiss and it was delicious. Thick, delicious tension. #nomnomnom

Then they were together and oh-so-adorable and forced a huge, sappy grin on my face.

I loved Aaron and Giles. I loved the music. I especially loved Elijah. I especially, especially loved Walter. I especially, especially, especially loved Iggy Toma's narrating.

I think I said this for Love Lessons: I'm sure this was great in print, but I have to recommend the audio. The narration was flawless and one of the best I've listened to.

I really want to rush out and read Lonely Hearts as soon as it's available, but I'm going to have to wait for the audio to get the full experience I think.  

Iggy Toma reading Heidi's words is... everything.

A copy was provided in exchange for an honest review.

Find out more info on Goodreads!

Review and teaser: Sink or Swim by Ashley John

*This is 5th book in the Surf Bay series. It is an origin story for Finley and not a HEA romance novel (although it does have romance elements). It is recommended that you have read the other books in the Surf Bay series first, although this CAN be read as a standalone (no cliffhanger) or as a prequel to the rest of the series*


Framed for a crime he didn’t commit, British teenager, Finley, is given a fake passport and forced to forget the life he’s always known. When he arrives in Surf Bay, he meets his uncle, Monroe, and he learns his time in America isn’t going to be a vacation. From the second his plane hits the ground, he is dragged into a world of organized crime, working under his uncle’s wing.

He is forced to share a tiny apartment with another of Monroe’s employees, Jay, and they soon become puppets, acting out Monroe's terrible crimes, side by side. When their work starts to become increasingly more dangerous, Finley is torn between his need to obey his uncle and his need to protect Jay.

As his life spirals out of control, he falls deeper and deeper into a world filled with money, crime and power and his only form of escapism is in his growing love for Jay.

Can Finley resist the lure of a life-changing proposition from his uncle, while still protecting the one he loves, or will he make sacrifices, which could change the course of his life, forever?

Wow. Wow, wow, wow. I'm throwing all the hearts at this one - which is super generous of me, as I don't actually have a heart that is intact after reading this. As far as I'm concerned, Ashley John blew this one out of the water. After reading the last book, it is hard to believe that I would have any sympathy for Finley. Even though, in Saving Michael, he took a character I didn't have much sympathy for and made me like him, I was convinced that he would not be able to do it again. Boy oh boy was I wrong. I think Finley has become my favourite Surf Bay character (it's not just cos he's a Brit, honest!!), my heart aches for him, I want him to get his HEA. I want the world to see the man that Jay did. I need more for Finely - more of Finley. I really, really do.

Over the course of these books Ashley John has grown and grown as an author. the plot of this is so tight and the characters brilliantly rounded. I said in my last review that we know what we're getting with the Surf Bay series, that was before this book though. I'm not spoiling anything to tell you there is no HEA - it's right there in the blurb. Ashley still manages to give us a love story though. it's a love story that will make you bawl like a baby by the end of the book, but it's a beautiful love story nonetheless. Maybe it's precisely because we know how things go (to a certain extent, we've seen the man Finley becomes in later books) that the love is so much more poignant and heartbreaking. Whatever the magic that Ashley John worked, it has me still longing for Finley to have another story, to get an HEA, to mend is broken, patched, hard-boiled heart.

Please Ashley. Pretty please with a cherry on top???

If you've yet to discover Surf Bay I would urge you too - if for no other reason than to read this book. Just, when you get to this one, make sire you have tissues handy.

I'm going to leave the review there because Ashley John has kindly given us an excerpt from this book, so you can have a taster of it. This was one of the best scenes, really beautiful. Enjoy.

Sink or Swim Teaser
Taken from Chapter 14

In the late morning sun, Finley kicked off his flip-flops, dipping his toes into the cool ocean foam. Awkwardly, he looked over his shoulder as Jay played with the settings on his camera. People were already settling onto the beach and surfers were running into the waves, boards over their heads.
“I can’t do this,” Finley mumbled, “it’s embarrassing.”
“It’s not embarrassing, it’s art,” Jay didn’t look up from his camera, “nobody will be staring at you.”
He wasn’t too sure about that. Porter was still standing on his deck across the beach, watching them with intrigue.
“No, really, I can’t,” Finley stepped back, holding out his hands, “this is too much. This isn’t me.”
The old version of him, the one he’d left behind in England, would have laughed at him for even entertaining the idea. Before he’d touched the gun, he was pretending to be the macho, tough guy. He was denying the feelings he had inside, to fit in with the rest of his family. Somehow, he’d lost all of those fears as he crossed the Atlantic Ocean. He still had Monroe to worry about, but not in the same way. He didn’t need to worry about ‘disappointing’ a family, who had raised him to be a stereotype since birth.
He’d been raised to be the clone of his father, a criminal, a con-man. He thought the good thing about leaving and starting a new life in the States, would mean he’d get away from that life but somehow, he was slowly becoming that man anyway.
Was it his destiny? Did they pick Surf Bay because it was far away, or because Monroe would keep him on the track they’d trained him for?
Despite all of that, there he was, standing on the edge of a never ending ocean, with a man in front of him, who did things to his insides he’d never experienced.
He didn’t want to do the photo-shoot but he also didn’t want to do most of the things he’d been made to do since he’d arrived in town. At least this way, he’d be doing something against his will to make somebody he cared about, happy, rather than to carry out somebody else’s dirty work.
“I’ll do this under one condition,” Finley planted his hands firmly on his hips.
“What? You’re already doing it! No conditions!”
“Hear me out.”
Jay sighed, dropping the camera to his side for a moment, copying Finley’s stance, “What do you want? Blow jobs? Because let me tell you, that thing you have is far too -,”
“No!” Finley waved his hands, “I want you to show your pictures to somebody.”
“I already have,” he shrugged, “I showed you.”
“Somebody else. You mentioned a gallery in the town hall. I want you to try and get your pictures in that gallery.”
“Finley –,”
“Jay,” Finley cut in, “Just promise me you’ll try. You’re too good to be under a bed for the rest of your life.”
He could see Jay arguing with himself in his head. He was struggling between his desire to photograph Finley and his fear of having his work judged. He opened and closed his mouth a couple of times, each time, sighing and huffing out his chest, as if a tantrum was brewing.
“Fine!” he cried, “Will you let me take your Goddamn picture now?”
“Just tell me what to do,” he scratched the back of his head, “don’t leave me hanging.”
“Don’t worry,” Jay held the camera up to his eye, and clicked, the flash almost blinding Finley, “I can tell you’re going to be a natural.”
“I wasn’t ready that time!”
He clicked again, and again, leaving Finley standing there, more and more terrified each time the bright light burned his eyes.
“You’re not going to pose,” another picture, another flash, “just be you. Be Finley. Be the person I see, not the person you want people to see.”
For a second, that statement puzzled him but after a second of thinking, he understood it perfectly.
Jay saw through every act, every wall, to see the person he was deep down. He saw the person behind the fake passport, without even knowing the full story. He didn’t seem to care that Finley was hiding things from him, but that didn’t matter to Jay.
That’s why he cared about him.

Review: Horizontal Analysis (Sinful Temptation #1) by E.M. Leya and Nicole Colville

When Zachary is sent to London to audit a very high profile company, the last thing he expected was to meet the man of his dreams on the flight there.

Killian's life has been hell for the last few years, but meeting Zach is the breath of fresh air he needed, even if he is half his age. He didn't expect things between the two of them to escalate as fast as they do.

One night of passion isn't enough, but there is danger in pursuing more, especially when fate throws them a curveball they never expected, and with Killian's ex ready for the attack, they could lose everything, still, with the chemistry between them, staying apart isn't an option.

With an attraction like neither has experienced, they are willing to risk it all, fighting the world around them that wants to keep them apart. Challenged in ways the two couldn't imagine possible, they must figure out how to hold on to something they know they might never find again.

What to expect: Insta-love, lots of sexy times and evil villains...

Zach has Killian's attention the instant he sets eyes on Zach at the airport. Killian's checking out this sexy guy in the terminal, and now they're on the plane together. Poor Zach is having panic attacks on the plane, so Killian decides to help him stay calm. I mean really, airlines should offer blow job/jacking off services on planes for this type of situation. It's just rude not to. Good thing Killian was there for Zach. 

After they land, they continue to see each other and fall for each other pretty fast. They find out that the big account Zach was traveling for is actually Killian's company. I really expected there to be more of a fallout because of this. Killian didn't seem to care at all the Zach was there to audit his company. Instead, he just bent him over the desk. Really? This dude's in charge? Hmm. Didn't ring true to me.

And the whole thing with the ex... over the top. Completely over the top, unbelievable and just silly. I can just picture him in his office, rubbing his hands together, cackling evilly... like a power ranger villain or something equally cheesy.

Three hearts might be a bit generous, but I did finish it up pretty quick. It was enjoyable enough to read in just a couple of days. 

...that might also be because I was skimming over the sex scenes. *shrugs* There are lots of glowing reviews for this, so I'd say check those out, too. 

 A copy was provided in exchange for an honest review.

Review: Body Art Audiobook by Jordan Castillo Price, narrated by Gomez Pugh

3 hrs 24 mins

Does everyone have a certain “type” they end up with…whether they want to or not? If Ray Carlucci’s ex is anything to go by, Ray likes his men gorgeous, rebellious, and chock-full of issues. But now that Ray is single again, he has a shot at a fresh start—a very fresh start, since his tattoo shop was gutted by repo men and he can fit all his belongings in the trunk of a taxi.

Ray’s shiny new chauffeur’s license lands him a job as a driver for an elderly couple on Red Wing Island. It’s a cold fall, and since the Michigan island is the summer home to snowbirds who fly south for the winter, it’s practically deserted—save for Ray’s new household and a sculptor named Anton Kopec, who works day and night twisting brambles and twine into the distorted shapes of macabre creatures. Compelling, bizarre, and somewhat disturbing…not just the sculptures, but the artist, too. Ray has a feeling Anton is just his “type.”

Despite their scorching chemistry, when a dead body is unearthed by some workers and a freak ice storm traps them all on the island, Ray can’t say for certain that his new flame isn’t capable of murder.

I'm a recent convert to audio books - what a great way to get housework done and not give up reading time. ;) I'm a fan, though they take longer to 'read', A)  because I'm quite a speedy reader (I have a fear of not managing to read everything I want to!!) and B) I can't always listen when the kids are around, so limited times to read. 

Body Art was a book I thoroughly enjoyed though, and I'm really pleased I listened to it as an audio book, because I loved Gomez Pugh's narration.

Ray, our protagonist, is a likeable character. Down on his luck, but not giving in without a fight, under his tattoo's is a man with a heart of gold. He's lost everything material that meant anything to him - his whole business (into which he'd poured his heart) was slowly filtered away from him by his layabout, greedy, good-for-nothing, ex. Ray would have had every right to be downright miserable - he still had bailiffs after him, after all, instead we see him making the best of a bad situation. This really endeared him to me. I mean, he's gorgeous, covered in tattoos but is thoroughly nice too. I know people turn their noses up at nice, but I like nice!

Anton, the other MC, is eccentric and definitely marches to his own tune. Something I thoroughly applaud - even though, sometimes, just sometimes, I wanted to hit him upside the head. Mainly when he was leading Ray a merry dance! Other than that, he intrigued me. The artist who sees the world just slightly differently. He was a character it was difficult to know whether to trust or not. Trust him or not though, Anton + Ray = scorchio sexy times. Just sayin'.

The crime and mystery part of this story came across really well in the audio version. I had no idea what had happened to the previous chauffeur's, or why. I did't know who to trust - in the small island community, where only one family and their staff stay over winter there were several unique characters, nobody seemed to be an open book. I truly felt each moment with Ray as he became more and more part of the household - and mystery.

Jordan Castillo Price is an author I'm going to be reading more from. I've enjoyed everything of hers I've tried and I'm very much enjoying her easy writing style and interesting characters. If you like audiobooks, I'd highly recommend this one - and if you're not sure, it might be worth giving it a go. Just know, if you're listening to it in a car the sex scene will be just as you pull through the drive through/get stopped for directions/halt at traffic lights with you window open etc. It's sods law.

A copy of this book was given in exchange for an honest review.
For more information try Goodreads.

Review: Winter Kill by Josh Lanyon

Clever and ambitious, Special Agent Adam Darling (yeah, he's heard all the jokes before) was on the fast track to promotion and success until his mishandling of a high profile operation left one person dead and Adam "On the Beach." Now he's got a new partner, a new case, and a new chance to resurrect his career, hunting a legendary serial killer known as The Crow in a remote mountain resort in Oregon.

Deputy Sheriff Robert Haskell may seem laid-back, but he's a tough and efficient cop -- and he's none too thrilled to see feebs on his turf -- even when one of the agents is smart, handsome, and probably gay. But a butchered body in a Native American museum is out of his small town department's league. For that matter, icy, uptight Adam Darling is out of Rob's league, but that doesn't mean Rob won't take his best shot.
I'm a newly converted Josh Lanyon fan, or fanyon as we are affectionately known. So, while I'm still discovering this author's backlog of work, I still managed to to get caught up in the hype and excitement of waiting for his new release, Winter Kill. And I wasn't disappointed. Not even a little bit - though some fanyons were.

Before I get to that though, I want to take a moment to admire the front cover. Don't judge a book and all that, except I totally would and, even if I'd never read a Lanyon in my life, this cover would have persuaded me to pick up this book. I have a bit of a thing about wintry scenes anyway, but that with the gun pointing straight out - it promises a good read inside the pages. To me anyway.

The mystery of this story, the crimes that were starting to pile up, were really well executed, in my opinion. I didn't work out 'who dunit' until the author wanted me to know, even though all the clues were there. It's been a while since I found a crime author I enjoy as much. Lanyon manages the set up, the clues, the sleight of hand really well though. It makes an enjoyable read. The kind where you are guessing and second guessing all the time who the perp is and why!

Okay, so the crime bit was good. What about the romance?? Well this is, I think, where some fanyons were disappointed. For me though, I liked the relationship between Rob and Adam. Firstly, I have to say the Darling jokes reminded me of Blackadder, and I could only hear the word Darling in Stephen Fry's dulcet tones.
(I have no idea if you get Blackadder across the pond, but if you do get a chance to see it, I would recommend it.) That's a bit by-the-by though! Back to Winter Kill.

Rob and Adam. I liked these guys I really did. I liked how their relationship developed, the quick fuck, the regret, the yearning. It worked for me. HOWEVER - I do agree the epilogue was too rushed. Lanyon is the king of series and I could absolutely see these two as the next Adrien & Jake. Scrap the epilogue, give them another book, move the romance along in that, the same way it was in the rest of this book, one step forward and two back. I'm not going to deduct hearts though, because, at the end of the day, I still thoroughly enjoyed this book.

Read around the reviews...maybe try it for yourself. IS it a yay or nay for you? I'm very firmly in the YAY camp.

Review: Never Too Early: Finding Their Way (Never Too Early #2) by Chris Owen & Tory Temple

Continuing from the first book in the series (Never Too Early: The Beginning), Chance and Tucker and Jake and Tor find themselves involved in a friendship that goes much deeper than any of them initially suspected.

Jake has been released from the hospital following his fall from the roof, and Chance and Tucker agree to stay in Arkansas for several days to help Tor with Jake's care. Chance, however, spends much of his time trying to resist the growing attraction he has for Jake. The confusion between the love he has for Tucker and the new feelings for Jake play tricks with Chance's mind. Is any of this a good idea, or are all of them headed for disaster?

For his part, Jake has to reconcile not only his growing feelings and physical attraction to Chance, but also the promises he and Tor made to each other. They rebuilt their own relationship in the wake of mistakes neither one of them wishes to repeat. How much communication and longing can one -- or two -- relationships take?

First things first, there were no apple orchard shenanigans!

Words cannot express how shocked I am by this. In fact, the sexy times were few and far between period. Now, I don't know about Chance and Tucker since I didn't read the first book of this series, but Tor and Jake boinked like bunnies in BarebackHere they're more like friends or maybe Jake's just worn down by Tor's childishness. 

There was some buttsex and it was hot, but it was mostly mutual masturbation and longing, though I did dig the voyeurism kink and the hints of bossiness.

I found the LEGO thing endearing in Bareback and the scene was cute here, but the immaturity on display by both Tor and Tucker was annoying. They wrestle, are loud and rambunctious and then the picking a fight because reasons was too much for me. Jake and Chance, on the other hand, are bound for the retirement community any day now. It's a wonder the original two couples are still coupling at all given the disparity in their personalities and, seemingly, interests.

I enjoy polyamorous stories. I do. What I like about them is all parties involved being hot for one another. That didn't happen here. The couples essentially pick new partners and pair off rather than becoming a cohesive unit. On the one hand, I have a hard time believing there weren't more hurt feels involved in this process, on the other hand maybe the couples have simply grown apart and it's time for a change so this "polyamorous" one is a pit stop to Splitsville.

I read this without having read the previous installment and had no trouble picking up the thread of the storyline. I can take an educated guess as to where the story is headed, but this didn't interest me enough to continue to the next one. I found the story dull and the writing prosaic.

Recommend to die hard fans of Tor and Jake or Chance and Tucker.

An ARC was provided in exchange for an honest review.

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Review: The First Hello by Willa Okati

Shawn Tillerman thinks he’s losing his mind. Wary and damaged after a hard life filled with broken promises, he's been having dissociative episodes for the past few months. Flashes of different lives he didn’t live. Walking in the footsteps of men he knows he never was. In these waking dreams, he’s always with a lover, but he can't see the man’s face and doesn’t know his name. Though the episodes are becoming more frequent, he hasn’t told anyone what's happening to him. He’s too busy taking care of his twin sister and keeping her away from Oxy. If he can sell the house he’s inherited from a distant relative, he'll finally have enough money to put her in a good rehab center. He can turn their lives around.

Or not. Because Raleigh, the compelling stranger who wants to buy their house, swears that Shawn isn’t experiencing psychotic episodes, but is reliving memories. That he and Shawn have come together in life after life and time after time. That he is the man from Shawn's dreams, and has been searching everywhere for him. Even if Shawn remembers nothing, Raleigh remembers it all, and he isn’t going to give up now.

Shawn doesn’t believe Raleigh--but he’s beginning to wish he could. What if it is true, after all? What if saying goodbye to all he thought he was sure of is only the first part of hello?

Oh, this was so romantic.

Shawn has had a hard life and is just trying to survive with his sister. He's been having what seem to be flashbacks, but the only problem is there's no way he could have been a part of what he's seeing. He sees himself throughout different time periods, but in all his episodes, he's with another man.

Amongst all this, he's trying to sell the house he inherited so he can continue taking care of his sister. The man who buys the house, Raleigh, takes certain interest in Shawn and tells Shawn what his episodes really are.

I really liked how the author incorporated the flashbacks into the story. I thought they were perfectly woven in with the present story of Shawn and Raleigh. As Shawn gets to know Raleigh in this life, he sees the love they shared in the past. It really brought the characters and their love to life. They were very loving and tender together. Even though they weren't together throughout the present story, I still got a real sense of them as a couple.

Shawn is a very cynical and skeptical character. He doesn't believe in much anymore, let alone a lover from another life who's always been searching for him. Raleigh is open and loving and just wants Shawn to know him so much. I could feel how much he wanted Shawn to know who he was and how hurt he was by Shawn's initial indifference towards him. I loved both characters, but I have a soft spot for Raleigh. He had so much love for Shawn, I really adored his character and his devotion.

I would have liked for their reconciliation to happen sooner, just to get a better feel for their HEA in this lifetime. Also, more closure for what will happen in their next life would have helped. I feel like I missed something, like a big part of their cycle changed, but I'm not completely certain how.

So, the blurb. *sigh* I wish I didn't know the entire plot before I started this story. Literally. It's all there for you. Some mystery behind the episodes would have made this more interesting.

This whole idea of reincarnation is very romantic to me. I really enjoyed this and will definitely look for more from this author in the future.

A copy was provided in exchange for an honest review.

Find out more info on Goodreads.

Tag-team review: Top Me Maybe? by Jay Northcote

Duncan has a secret fantasy, but is Tyler the right man for the job?

Tyler’s new policeman boyfriend, Duncan, is gorgeous. Tall, broad, and ├╝ber-masculine, he’s the epitome of the dominant top—in appearance at least.

When they discuss their sexual fantasies, Duncan confesses to a secret desire that surprises Tyler. Luckily for Duncan, Tyler’s happy to oblige and is determined to give Duncan a night to remember.
and a quarter hearts.

Sunny and I took a look at this sexaaay short by Jay Northcote. Here's what we thought!

Sunny says;

Brit love!

Brits, who watch films and say things like bloke. Throw in one of my favorite themes, and some steamy scenes, and I'm a happy reader :)

*remembers steamy scenes*

So good. Even a brief clean up scene got me going. I loved the intimacy it showed, especially in such a new relationship. And the hints of D/s elements...icing on the cake.

Another great thing about this short story? The genuine sweetness. Not sugary or over the top, just a gentle sweetness that made me smile. *sigh*

Steam and sweetness...a perfect combination. I didn't even feel cheated by the length of the story.

I'll be reading this again when I need a sweet pick me up :)

Lori says;

Sometimes a shorty McShort story is just what you need.

Sometimes a steamy McSteamy story is just what you need.

When you get both, and it's not even PWP, it's just win, win, win!

It would have been so easy to turn this story into just that (Porn Without Plot) an encounter of high hotness - but about charcters we've not learnt to love yet. JAy Northcote doesn't do that though. She gives us characters to lvoe and then ups the hotness factor. What a winning combination.

A recommended read for those times when you want something good to read but don't have the time for a full length novel.


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A copy of this book was given in exchange for an honest review.

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