Review: Cardinal Sins (Hidden Gems #2) by Lissa Kasey

Paris Hansworth, star whore turned senator and the most powerful man in City M, has been hiding his terminal illness for years. Searching for a way to reverse the toxic environment that’s killing him, Paris stumbles upon a lost research facility, and a merman named Rain.

Years alone have made Rain long for companionship, and the beautiful man on the other side of the glass intrigues him. But Rain speaks the wrong language, and is decades out of touch. He isn’t quite sure what to think of the new environment he’s been thrust into.

As a virus spreads through the city targeting City M's most private residents—A-Ms—Paris realizes he’s out of time. He’s willing to sacrifice everything, even his own life, to stop it. But Rain might just be the missing DNA link to explain the mutations created in the last plague, maybe even the cure.

Watching Paris race to save his friends, Rain knows he's found someone special and will do anything to stay by his side. But the past Paris thought he’d escaped is seeking revenge, and he’s forced to adapt yet again, possibly even becoming a monster. He only hopes Rain will still want him.

This is a hard one for me to rate. There is so much to like about the second installment in this series-great world building, great suspense, great storytelling, great characters so much greatness! But there is one issue and that is it's unfocused.

Let me just stop right here and say after reading Hidden Gem there was one secondary character that stood out and that was Paris. Paris's rags to riches story coupled with his domineering personality and no nonsense attitude spoke to me. When I read the blurb and realized it was not only going to be Paris's story but there was to be a merman... well, let's just say I kinda whigged out. A tiny bit. In a completely dignified way.

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Paris is a senator now and an influential one but when he first came from the South to the North he worked as a whore at the Hidden Gem. His Southern family is affluent and chock full to the brim with asshats who made every effort to make his childhood and adolescence a living hell until finally kicking him out to fend for himself. He was rescued by Bart and has gone on to make his own family of rescues and strays.
Paris is also a dom but the BDSM strikes me as superfluous to the plot thus I'm not going to prattle on about it.

He uncovers a long forgotten near frozen facility with an aquarium which contains a merman named Rain who is the sweetest! I kinda wanted to stick him in my pocket but the whole no water in there would be problematic. And he's smitten with the pretty man a.k.a. Paris. 

Such is life.

It just so happens that Paris has recently bought a former casino (Cardinal Sins) with a huge empty aquarium.

For science Paris and his team bring the merman and all the other fishes to Cardinal Sins. Of course he and Rain are drawn to one another, but Paris has a debilitating illness which is incurable and is literally on his last legs, so he simply takes comfort in being able to see Rain on a regular basis. 

Where things began to falter was the virus that's sweeping the North which brings many A-Ms and psis to Cardinal Sins for treatment by Paris's on call doctor, Quinn Vitoric, including Shane which means Aki and Candy and his newest acquisition, Ivy. Quick side note:  a glossary of terms would be appropriate. I'm not sure if it made it into the final published version, if not it would be a good idea for the next installment.

Anyhoo... where was I? Oh right, subplots.

These two subplots got so much page time that they overtook the main. I found myself rushing to get through those chapters so I could get back to Paris and Rain. The subplots are interesting held my attention. I especially loved all the shifted Shane looking for Mate (Aki) and even howling mournfully for him. They are crazy, stupid in love and it's cavity inducing in it's sweetness. I am kind of a sucker for a possessive, growly alpha though. 


I know they're meant as set up for the grand finale as well as the next book, but there is such a thing as letting the teasing for the next book overwhelm the plot of the current one and that negatively affected my enjoyment. 

The other casualty of these subplots was minimal relationship development between Rain and Paris. The romance is more of an afterthought. The sex is mostly awkward. But the HEA at the end came out of nowhere and I found my suspension of disbelief button on the fritz.

The last 30-35% was much tighter and more what I was looking for which is Paris being a BAMF! If the whole thing had been that focused this would easily be a 5 Hearter. As it stands, I'm somewhere between 3-4 Hearts.  

In all likelihood, I will read the next one. Take that for what it's worth.

As always, your mileage may vary.

A review copy was provided by the author for an honest review.

Find out more on Goodreads.

Review: Careened: Winter Solstice in Madierus (Baal's Heart, #3.5) by Bey Deckard

A Baal's Heart short, following the events in Fated: Blood and Redemption Plagued by terrible dreams, Jon begins to distance himself from Baltsaros and Tom. Perhaps a little holiday cheer is just the thing to help the three of them find common ground again.

My favorite pirate throuple returns just in time for Christmas *ahem* Jizzmas!

Finally, a Santa jizz story that I can get behind! Pirates! And not your run of the mill pirates either. I've made my love for the "Baal's Heart" series well known. It's been documented all over. Sadly, you can't just jump to this Jizzmas short, you must read the first three novels before reading Careened.

Trust me, it's worth it.

We're back on the lush island of Madierus with Jon, Tom and Baltsaros, where one of the men is having some trouble, after effects from events in Fated. Are the men strong enough to weather the storm?

Yes! They are communicating, though you'd be surprised (or maybe not) who is having more trouble with talking in this novella.It's Winter Solstice. And each man has different customs but band together because no matter what their relationship is important to them and makes them strong.

The story starts dark (not as dark as the author can get don't worry). Not only does Careened revisit with the main men but also Kate and her lady love, Maya. They're having a big surprise! The Winter Solstice is getting to the inhabitants and the holiday spirit seems to even affect the pirate a good way. The story ends happy, hopeful and a little kinky. I wasn't expecting that present at all. I loved all the gifts they each got each other but Baltsaros' gifts for each of his men were golden. I'd add my favorite quote here but I think it'd ruin the surprise and what's Jizzmas without some surprises, huh?

This is a great gift for Baal's Heart's fans. Highly recommended.

I'm wavering between 4.5 - 5 Hearts for my rating, but you know what? I just finished this with a huge smile on my face. I just read through a range of emotions (depression, anger, fear, guilt, hope, love) from all three men in less than 45 pages and it packed a punch, so I'm going with the higher end of rating.
"It's Li'l Tom's first time in his golden gibbet. Give the poor hurtin' thing a bloody break!"
So happy to see the men growing stronger together.

P.S. There are a number of unicorns that will quelt themselves when getting to this, but there is one especially that will prance with glee. She might even go off like a rocket when she reads this.

For more information on Goodreads or Booklikes!

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Forget what you've heard, Santa rides the hell out of a unicorn on Christmas Eve to deliver all the toys to all the girls and boys.


Because that's the kind of gentleman he is.

Santa Claus representing like the true pirate he is. Aye Mateys!

So if you celebrate the Christmas holiday or not, have a lovely day!

With love from,

Try not to show off too much in your BOSS Jizzmas sweater today.

We see the Stallion sized erection there. #proud

Review: If Only In My Dreams by Keira Andrews

To be home for Christmas, they must bridge the distance between them.

Charlie Yates is desperate. It’s almost Christmas and his flight home from college has been delayed. For days. Charlie promised his little sister Ava he’d be home for her first holiday season since going into remission from leukemia. Now he’s stuck on the opposite coast and someone else grabbed the last rental car. Someone he hasn’t even spoken to in four years. Someone who broke his heart.

Gavin Bloomberg’s childhood friendship with Charlie ended overnight after a day of stolen kisses. With years of resentment between them, they don’t want to be in the same room together, let alone a car. But for Ava’s sake, Gavin agrees to share the rental and drive across the country together.

As they face unexpected bumps along the road, can Charlie and Gavin pave the way to a future together?

If you are a Keira Andrews fans, a road-trip story fan, a frenemy to lover fan, a Christmas story fan - then this story is for you. It is the perfect Christmas story combination in my mind. The kind that leaves you with a warm glow. And it has snow. Lots and lots of snow. I don't know what it is about snow that warms the cockles of my heart in stories, but it really, really does. It just adds even more goo for me. Dammit. Snow is romantic in stories/films. Bridget Jones anyone?

The road certainly starts out bumpy for Charlie and Gavin. How do you react when the person you feel so much for ignores you for four years? I'd know how I would feel, no matter how good the reasons are. Charlie is dealing with so much that rejection from Gavin is about the last thing he can handle, yet somehow he does and moves on, until the fateful day when they are stuck together at the airport with only one option of getting home; a shared car. Pride takes a backseat when there is a sister and a special promise involved.

I've said it before and I'll say it again - friends to lovers is my favourite storyline. This has the added 'bonus' of being friends turned enemies... it all makes for a great feel good story. The kind you want to read with a hot chocolate and mince pie in front of a roaring fire. If you're looking to add to your Christmas reading, please don'#t miss this gem.

A copy of this book was given in exchange for an honest review.
Find out more at Goodreads.
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Quillon's Covert Blog Tour Stop and GIVEAWAY!!!!!

Give a warm Unicornian welcome to Joseph Lance Tonlet and Louis Stevens!!!

*flailing Kermit arms*

Pardon me while I do a little name dropping/bragging/gloating . . . I live in San Diego, so does a certain author with the initials JLT and I have had the distinct honor to have had a few cocktail hours with the man and I can't say enough good things about him. He's sweet, kind, thoughtful and has a deliciously filthy mind. Louis is a smidge further away from San Diego, but he's obviously good people if he's in tight with JLT. We can only hope he'll be able to visit some day to join us for Happy Hour!!!!

As per usual, I digress . . .

So Joseph and Louis have a new novel out, Quillon's Covert and we're pleased to welcome them to the Clubhouse to tell you all about the new book and there's a GIVEAWAY!!!!!

Check it out . . . .

Martin is a guy’s guy, one who enjoys the simple things in life: baseball games with his son, family days, barbecues, and date nights with his lovely wife.

Once a year for two weeks, Martin takes his son, Marty, to Quillon’s Covert, a rustic family cabin secluded in the beautiful California mountains. Since before those long days of learning to play ball, Marty has loved his dad, but as Marty matures, Martin starts to see something else settle in his son’s uncertain gaze. What’s there lingers a little more than it should, and it seems far more appraising than it once was.

As Marty shows every sign of taking the lead, Martin is faced with the tough choices most parents never see: lose his son by being a father, or try to balance what’s best for their relationship by being something… more.

But with another trip to Quillon’s Covert on the horizon, has the point of no return already begun?

Note: This book contains incest.


- Novella
- 44k Words / 186 Pages

Look at this goodie pack for cripe's sake!

These are the goods people.

Rafflecopter yourself all over this!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

And now, some words from JLT about GFY and what it means to the M/M world . . .

Gay For You...It's Much More Than A Trope

It seems Gay For You (GFY) has become so incredibly popular that it's now an m/m subgenre all of its own. With my total affinity for GFY I can't say this really comes as a huge surprise.

However, GFY isn't just well-liked in our m/m world. No, as any gay porn viewer knows, several media empires have been built on the concept of Gay For Pay (GFP); Corbin Fisher, Broke Straight Boys, and my personal favorite, Sean Cody, are just a few. In fact, MTV's True Life series has done a segment on the topic, and Broke Straight Boys has reality show which explores the lives of some of its top models. (Granted, aside from the promos, I haven't seen either show – yet. *winks*) Unquestionably, the genre is quite popular. But why?

Could it be the taboo factor? You know, the whole straight guys doing things they shouldn't be doing aspect? Not long ago - perhaps 15 or 20 years - gay sex was considered taboo. However, times have changed. Has that change acted as the catalyst for the birth of a new taboo (GFP)?

Whatever the reason for its popularity, there's no denying I find writing GFY storylines very appealing. They allow me to explore a character's new experiences, and subsequent jumbled feelings, in completely enjoyable way. And if an author enjoys what he's writing, then hopefully that enjoyment will translate onto paper for reader's enjoyment.

On a more personal level, GFY stories bring back memories of my own adolescence - and the straight but horny guys that, thankfully, my teenage years seemed to have an overabundance of.

Quillon's Covert sees it's protagonists, Martin and Marty (a father and son) navigating these foreign GFY waters. And, when equally challenging factors are added into the story - such as incest and infidelity - their journey (hopefully) becomes even more interesting. *grins*

So, without future ado, I offer you an excerpt from Quillon’s Covert.


Martin thought for a moment, swallowed hard, and bowed his head. “Who says it’s not gonna happen?”

He knew what he was saying, knew what it meant, and knew that if he put it out there he couldn’t back down. No, if he said something like that, something this important, he’d have to stand by it.

Marty shook his head. “What? I’m not sure what that means.”

“It means that maybe you’re not the only one who’s embarrassed and hurting and who feels like mourning. I’m totally out of my element here and I’m fucking petrified.”

His son’s head shook back and forth again. “No. I think I know what you’re doing, Dad, and even though I appreciate it—”

“Can I touch you?” Martin interrupted.


“I’m asking if I can touch you, Marty.”

“Since when do you need to ask permission?”

Martin took a small step to close the gap between them and rested his hands on the outsides of Marty’s upper thighs, his fingers curving behind his son’s back and landing just above the swell of his ass.

“Since the way I planned on touching you is in a way I’ve never done before.”

Marty’s head shook again. “Dad,” he whispered, “you can’t. I don’t think you understand. I love you. And as much as I’d like to, I won’t let you do this to try to fix things. I promise, I’ll be okay. I just need some time. We just—I—just have to find a way of dealing with the passing of a dream.” Marty snorted. “Now if that doesn’t sound fucking dramatic, I don’t know what does.”

Martin ignored his son’s well-meaning comments and decided it was time to man up, to say what he’d been relentlessly turning over in his mind for months.

“Marty, I’m not gay.”

“Dad, I know—”

“No, please let me finish. I’m not gay, but…but I love you more than anyone. Probably more than I should, in fact. But that’s beside the point. The point is…” Martin’s confidence faltered for a moment, but he plowed ahead. “The point is, although I’m not sure I’ll be able to love you exactly the same way in return, the thought of being that close to you, of sharing something so…intimate with you, it’s very appealing. Very. And, honestly, I’d be honored. Beyond honored.”

The trembling in Marty’s body couldn’t be missed.


“Yep, right here, Buddy”

“Cuh-cuh-can I touch you?”

“Um, so I’m guessing it’s not your fingers nudging my thigh, then?”

Marty smiled briefly before bringing his fingers up to run along Martin’s jaw. “Are you saying it’s okay for me…to love you? I mean, that you’re cool with that? And that we’re gonna…” Marty stopped and waggled his eyebrows.

“I’ll never ask you not to love me, son. How could I, when I love you more than what’s probably appropriate? And as far as…the other,” he said with a goofy grin, “I think I’d enjoy trying. But I don’t know much about…gay dude sex.”

Marty laughed. “What’s to know? Tab A goes into Slot B.”

“Yeah, well so long as mine is Tab A, and yours is Slot B…” Martin said with a smile.


JOSEPH is a born and raised Southern Californian—with a twenty-year stint of living in the Midwest. He loves the laid-back lifestyle of San Diego and considers himself lucky to live where people dream of vacationing.

A lifelong reader of m/m fiction, he began his writing career one night sitting at his MacBook and has never looked back. He writes to bring the characters he dreams about to life.

LOUIS is a gay romance author born and raised in South Africa. He was a shy outcast who had few friends in school; generally feeling excluded and on the fringe of society. However, when he discovered gay romance and erotica in 2007, at the age of seventeen, his mind and world opened up.

He wrote his first story, A Better Life, longhand in a 197 page spiral notebook, on his bed every night with a pillow curled under his chin. Although the book wouldn’t be published until 2011, with the now defunct Silver Publishing, he found the experience entirely liberating. He's considered himself a writer ever since.

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Review: Love is for the Living (Albion Rising, #1) by Nicholas Kinsley

The zombies have arrived, and Blaine needs to escape. He'd always thought of his London neighborhood as a place of safety, but then his infected neighbors tried to eat him. Blaine packed a bag and fled through growing numbers of shambling, voracious monsters--people, he had to remind himself, they're people--toward his family in Bristol. He would surely have died without the turn of luck that brought him Commander Andrew Peterson. Together, they face the horrors and adversities of the apocalypse, trying to protect their loved ones, and—if they’re lucky—find love for themselves.

Do you ever find a book that interests you but then, when it comes to reading it, don't really fancy it? I kind of have to be in the right mood for each book i read - I like a ton of genres, but I need to be in the right mood for whatever I'm reading. If I'm fancying fluff, angst ridden is no going to do it etc. well, that happened to me for this book. The request came in and I thought it sounded interesting but when it came to actually reading it I just kept putting it off. I wasn't in the mood.


Seriously. The only idiot in this scenario is me because once I actually started reading this book I loved it. I devoured it. I could not read the thing fast enough.

Zombie apocalypse is not my go to reading material of choice, but this was so well written I just fell in love with it. It is very obviously the start of a series, both Blaine and Andrew are introduced with a background so we know of them individually before we knew them as a potential couple. I loved this. They were very much individuals to me, not just part of a couple. Both characters were very different. Their life experiences were different, their attitudes were different. A zombie apocalypse though is all about survival and survival means stepping out of the known comfort zones. It means making hard choices and life being turned completely upside down. It's about impossible decisions and no regrets. And this book included all of these.

While there is a romance in this book - well a need for love at least - it is about more than that; it is about the need to survive and the interactions between very different people. Now, I'm not a Walking Dead watcher, but I very much imagine if you are, you would love this book. I cannot wait for the next installment in this series. I want to know all the things about these characters. I want HEA's... I don't think they're going to be just handed out though, I'm preparing myself mentally for some tough times ahead for these people I've come to love.

I don't want to go to any more in depth with this review, I don't want to spoil the story, in fact part of me just wants to say, bloody brilliant, go and read it! So I will. Read this book if you like a bit of horror in your reading.

A copy of this book was given ion exchange for an honest review.
For more information see Goodreads and Forbidden Fiction

Review: His Heart's Desire by J.P. Barnaby

If Santa Claus could have one wish, what would it be? 

Each century, Father Time selects a new Santa Claus. In return for his service, the lucky St Nick receives his heart’s greatest desire. Unfortunately, Matthew Carpenter is down to his last night as Santa and has no idea what his heart desires. 

Short story previously released as part of the 'Twas a Dark and Delicious Christmas, Manlove Edition anthology.

I never do this but... never is a long time and, really, that cover?!?! What's going on with that cover? It has exactly bupkis to do with this story. I mean, the dog and the dude are cute and all but... B.U.P.K.I.S.

Aside from an odd cover choice this story is sweet, sexy and a bit of a novel idea for Santa jizz. 

Matthew chose to become the jolly man himself at 21. He left his home and family for the North Pole and 100 yrs of Santadom. At the end of 100 yrs of service he will be rewarded with his heart's desire.

However, that day is upon him and he's yet to decide what exactly his heart desires.

Good thing Father Time has a little omnipotence. He reunites Matthew with his childhood bestie, Luca, and gives them until Noon the following day to become reacquainted. High Noon, if you will. Will they decide they are each other's heart's desire?

Now what do you suppose two boyhood friends who are both virgins would come up with to occupy themselves for 24ish hours? SPOILER ALERT: The did not play Battleship I'll tell you that.

I fully expected this to be kinky which it wasn't, but it's sweetness hit the spot and put a smile on my face. They're both a little bit awkward, very eager and happy just to be together, innocent, cute. It's too short to really sink your teeth into it, but for 20 odd pages it delivers the vanilla Santa jizz with two cherries on top.

Yap! I totally went there. Sorry. Not sorry.

And that ending... *cue D'AWWWW*

A feel good Santa jizz nugget sure to please even the Grinchiest of Grinches.

A review copy was provided in exchange for an honest review.

Find out more on Goodreads.

Review: Shelter by Ashley John

Fresh from his fourth stint in rehab, Elias James doesn’t have much to live for. His relationship with his family has never been so strained and with no real life of his own, he has nothing to live for. His overachieving twin sister and his ruthless mother's political success as Mayor of Havenmoore has left him empty. Getting high started as an act of rebellion but the addiction soon controlled his every waking moment.

Aspiring writer, Caden Walker, thought he had the perfect life until he discovered his boyfriend in bed with his best friend. Leaving everything behind in New York, he returns to Havenmoore to re-evaluate his life from his parent’s guest bedroom. When his mom offers him a job working for the charity she runs, helping people struggling with addiction, he’s not in a position to turn it down.

Caden never expected to find what he did, but when he is assigned to work with Elias, a reluctant attraction quickly blossoms into something deeper. Can Elias find in Caden the one thing he’s always searched for or will his addiction drag him under once again? Is Caden ready to let go of his New York dream to take a chance on something unexpected? Both men are faced with difficult times of change, but can they make it through the storm to find the shelter?

This story was pure Ashley John. This author regularly creates characters that are far from perfect, beautifully flawed one might say, puts them through the mill a little and then rescues them in the nick of time. I like characters that are far from perfect. For me characterisation is a huge part of any book. It matters not how good the storyline is, if I can't love the characters - and I really did love these two.

Elias, so unsure of his own worth, is broken. Not just broken but convinced he is beyond fixing. That he's not worthy of the effort it would take. The first step in recovering from an addiction is admiting there is a problem. The second is wanting to change that. It's the addict who needs to make the change. Who needs to want to change. Who needs to be ready to put in the hard work. Before any of that can happen the addict needs to feel they are worth the effort beating an addiction requires. It's a fucking hard thing to do. Elias really didn't feel he was worth the effort. He broke my heart a little. Bolshy and rebellious and everyone's pain in the arse, I wanted to grab the sad little boy he was inside and love him and mother him and heal him.

Of course, Ashley John had a better idea than that. He introduced Elias to Caden.

Caden was the sunshine to Elias's rain.

He wasn't having an easy time of it, but what he did have, what Elias sorely lacked, was a family who loved him. A sense of self worth, self esteem. It might have wavered for a minute but it was there, a fundamental foundation to build his life on. It shone through in his need to help others; to put others first. I think this is what I love about this book. There isn't an easy fix. It requires effort from Elias - meeting Caden made him want to be better. It didn't make him suddenly better, he still had to put in the effort.

Sure, at times, I wanted it a tad more real. Elias's mum was a tad cartoonishly nasty and Caden's mum a little bit too wonderful. The focus of the main characters was much wider. They were shades of grey and not so black and white. it worked. I rooted so hard for both of these guys. If you're a fan of Ashley John, I promise this book will not disappoint.

A copy of this book was given on exchange for an honest review.
Find out more at Goodreads.

Review: Reindeer Games by Kenzie Cade

Dashing von Stride has one thing on his mind: winning the window display contest for the Miracle on Main Christmas Contest. His plans are set and ready—and then he walks into his toy store, Reindeer Games, to find a sleigh that shouldn't be there. The mystery sleigh sparks a new plan, however, and now all Dash needs is the perfect Santa to model his display after.

This year, the pranks with his reindeer have gotten out of hand. Instead of preparing for the Big Day, Niklaus Kringle is hunting for his missing sleigh. Locating it should have been easy, but games easily won are seldom worth playing…

How stinkin' cute does this book look and sound? I KNOW. Well, it totally lives up to all the promised cuteness.

Dashing von Stride owns a toy store in a cute little town in Colorado. The town really gets into the Christmas spirit and every year they have a window display contest. This year Dash is determined to win. A sleigh mysteriously shows up in his shop, so he decides to use it as a part of his display.

Who should come looking for this sleigh but one of Santa's sons, Nik. One of the reindeer decided to pull a prank on him by hiding the sleigh. BUT, the little guy had some ulterioir motives, as well...

Kris and Dash instantly hit off and were absolutely adorable together. There was a whole fated-mates deal, but I loved them together anyway, even thought I'm not a huge fan of fated mates. I was so charmed by them and the setting that I couldn't begin to care about anything but their HEA.

The story was very magical with a bit of world-building woven in. There was quite the backstory between the von Strides and the Kringles that really added to Nik and Dash's romance. Dash discovered some secrets from his past and where he's really from. I loved all the bits about the North Pole, and the elves and reindeer. Their role was a little different than what I've read in a Christmas romance before.  Even the town in Colorado had a feeling of magic.

Completely charming, magical, and perfect for a feel-good holiday romance.

A copy was provided in exchange for an honest review.

Find out more info on Goodreads.

Blog Tour: Cover Reveal & Giveaway - Unquiet (Resilient Love, #3) by Melanie Hansen

Today, Melanie Hansen is revealing the cover of Unquiet (Resilient Love, #3) by cover artist Natasha Snow! (Hey we know her.) Melanie is hosting a giveaway in honor of it's reveal for a $20 Amazon gift card. Plus, there is an excerpt of Unquiet below! Please note Unquiet can be read as a standalone - releases January 22, 2016!!!

Loren Smith has been in love with Eliot Devlin almost his entire life.  During their turbulent childhood and teen years, Loren didn’t always understand Eliot, and sometimes he could be a challenge, but Eliot was the only one to ever truly ease Loren’s deep loneliness and accept him.  When Eliot’s increasingly erratic and self-destructive behavior culminates in a suicide attempt at seventeen, Loren is devastated.
Upon meeting again by chance nine years later, Loren is enjoying a successful career as a police officer while Eliot’s life has been a constant struggle for stability.  In and out of mental hospitals, with a rap sheet a mile long, he continues to be buffeted by the twin storms of mania and depression.  Loren’s love and protectiveness for Eliot are deeply ingrained in him, however, and their feelings for each other are quickly rekindled.
Loren has issues of his own he’s dealing with, and trying to understand and cope with Eliot’s bipolar disorder isn’t easy.  They believe they’re meant to be, and Eliot brings a fulfillment to Loren’s life that no one else will ever match.  But as they both come to realize, love by itself can’t cure all.

Pages or Words: 102,000 words

Categories: Contemporary, Fiction, M/M Romance, Romance

Are you happy, El?” Loren finally asked. “I’ve seen so many different incarnations of your moods, but I honestly don’t know if I’d recognize happiness in you.” His voice held a faint note of apology for asking, and Eliot glanced at him, surprised but pleased by Loren’s candor.
“I don’t know if I’d recognize happiness either, Loren,” he admitted, rubbing his thumb over the back of Loren’s hand when he threw Eliot a stricken look. “Hey, hey,” Eliot said reassuringly. “I don’t mean that the way it sounds.”
Eliot blew out a breath, thinking about how to explain this. Loren waited, but his lips were pressed together in a tight line, and Eliot squeezed his fingers.
“Usually when I wake up in the morning, I’m afraid,” he said, and Loren opened his mouth to speak but then didn’t say anything. Eliot glanced at him again, then continued, “I feel the craziness, the madness lurking, just waiting for me. It feels like it’s attached to me, that when I get out of bed, I’m dragging it with me. It’s always there, ready to pounce and swallow me up.”
“Oh, El,” Loren whispered.
Eliot stroked his hand. “And this morning when I woke up, I wasn’t afraid. I think that’s what it feels like to be happy. It’s enough for me.”
Loren didn’t say anything, but a lone tear slid down his cheek. Eliot reached up and wiped it away with his thumb, stroking Loren’s jaw tenderly.
“What’s the matter, honey?”
Just then the sign for a scenic lookout appeared, and Loren took the exit, parking the truck. He stared through the windshield, blinking fast, more tears welling up.
“The thought of you for all those years, waking up afraid,” he whispered brokenly. “And I wasn’t there, Eliot. I wasn’t there.” Eliot could see Loren’s throat working as he fought not to cry, and with a soft exclamation, Eliot opened his arms, gathering him close. He stroked Loren’s hair, feeling the hot wetness of tears against his neck.
“But you were there, Loren. Shhh,” he soothed.
When Loren calmed a little, Eliot pulled back and took Loren’s face in his hands, forcing him to meet his eyes.
“I’ve been in a lot of therapy over the years, and they always ask me the same thing, what my best memories are, what memories do I have of feeling happy or safe. I’m supposed to bring them to mind when I’m stressed or scared or angry. It’s part of cognitive therapy, learning to readjust your thinking, to focus on good things and not negative things.”
Eliot caressed Loren’s face. “And Loren, there’s a lot I don’t remember, but what I do, every single one of those types of memories is about you. Being kids, riding our bikes, playing with toys, laughing at stupid jokes. Then later the way you held me in the dark after a nightmare or sat with me when I was so sad and hurting that I wanted to die. The way you—the way you loved me, loved my batshit crazy and fucked-up mess.
“You’ve always been with me, Loren, through my memories. Always.”
Loren completely lost it then, and Eliot let him cry it out, murmuring to him, rocking him, reveling in being the one to comfort, to soothe, of being able to shore up the man he loved when he needed it.
Finally the storm passed and Loren pulled away, sitting up and scrubbing his hands over his face.
“I’m glad, El,” he rasped, clearing his throat several times before starting the truck and pulling back onto the interstate. “I’m glad I’m your best memories.”

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Meet the author:
Melanie Hansen has spent time in Texas and Florida prisons…for work.   She’s been in a room with a 17-year-old mass murderer who was also one of the most soft-spoken and polite teenagers she’s ever met.  After a 13-year career as a court reporter, she can tell many stories both hilarious and heartbreaking.
She grew up with an Air Force dad, and ended up marrying a Navy man.  After living and working all over the country, she hopes to bring these rich and varied life experiences to her stories about people finding love amidst real-life struggles.
Melanie left the stressful world of the courtroom behind and now enjoys a rewarding career transcribing for a deaf student.  She currently lives in Arizona with her husband and two sons.
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Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Cover Artist: Natasha Snow

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