Review: Drawn In by Barbara Elsborg

Undercover police officer Kell has crossed the line. He’s become trapped in an abusive relationship with his violent thug of a boss and sees no way back without wrecking months of work. The hope of ever being involved with someone who respects him seems a distant dream.

Private investigator Gethin is depressed that the bulk of his work involves following unfaithful partners. He knows just what it’s like to be cheated on. Even worse, his relationship with his ex is complicated and Gethin can see no way of breaking free of a guy who so desperately needs him.

A chance encounter brings Kell and Gethin together, entwining their lives with secrets and danger. They both have reasons to keep things casual. But there are consequences to zipless fucks. Not only do they have to survive people trying to kill them, they need to trust each other and keep their wits about them, while ensuring their hearts stay intact.

Let me just play devil's advocate on behalf of this book for a sec. Drawn In came after reading two phenomenal books back to back, so it had big shoes to fill. Also, I seem to be continuing to struggle with heavy reads under the Cheeto regime. I like Elsborg's writing and she does have a tendency to tackle some weighty issues, had I been in a different mindset this could have been a 4 heart read, but timing is everything. So they say.

This is one weighty read. There are mentions of pedophilia, women being sold into slavery, one of the MCs is regularly beaten and for all intents and purposes raped by his "boss", the other MC's ex-boyfriend is a quadriplegic who wants to be euthanized and the icing on the cake is a sociopathic brother. If that isn't the cake of evil cackling doom I don't know what is. All it was missing was a dusting of Cheeto jizz.


I think it would've been more successful had the euthanasia and maybe the sociopathic brother storylines been deleted. I think I understand the purpose of both I just think it could've been accomplished in a less dire and or sinister ways. To put it succinctly, I struggled to get through this and once it was over I went scurrying directly back to my happy, happy, joy, joy place. With my binkie. Perception is everything though, so what's "weighty" or "heavy" for me may not be for another.

I can always count on Elsborg to bring the heat, though and she delivered there. The chemistry between Gethin and Kell is palpable. I did think their transition from fuck buddies to feels was choppy and verged on instalove, but as the story evolved their relationship strengthened and grew before my eyes. They both have to endure quite a bit and begin relying on and trusting one another more and more. I also loved their banter. Sometimes it was silly but it provided a much needed respite from all the heavy.

The mystery storyline was kind of a bust for me. It came together really quickly with very few unforeseen twists or turns and made these law enforcement officers look like a bunch of incompetent amateurs. The reason I like mysteries and thrillers is that feeling of being kept guessing, on the edge of my seat, if you will and that eluded me. Yet, I always feel badly saying these things when the primary objective of this book or any in this genre is romance. I get that the mystery is supposed to just be the window dressing. I just wish it had been a little more complex.

There were some editing issues that had me rereading sentences to piece them together, but overall the narrative flowed well.

I would recommend this to MM romance fans who enjoy heavier reads, but please heed the warnings.

A review copy was provided.

Find out more on Goodreads.

Audiobook Review: Breakaway (Scoring Chances #1) by Avon Gale

Drafted to play for the Jacksonville Sea Storm, an NHL affiliate, twenty-year-old Lane Courtnall’s future looks bright, apart from the awkwardness he feels as a gay man playing on a minor league hockey team. He's put his foot in his mouth a few times and alienated his teammates. Then, during a rivalry game, Lane throws off his gloves against Jared Shore, enforcer for the Savannah Renegades. It’s a strange way to begin a relationship.

Jared’s been playing minor league hockey for most of his career. He’s bisexual and doesn’t care if anyone knows. But he’s determined to avoid another love affair after the last one left him devastated. Out of nowhere a one-nighter with rookie Lane Courtnall gives him second thoughts. Lane reminds Jared why he loves the game and why love might be worth the risk. In turn, Jared hopes to show Lane how to be comfortable with himself on and off the ice. But they’re at different points in their careers, and both men will have to decide what they value most.

Narrator: Scott R. Smith
Listening Length: 7 hrs 33 mins

Breakaway gave me so many things I love and wrapped them up in a delicious package. I’m a lifelong hockey FANatic but I generally steer clear of hockey romances as I turn into a picky pain in the ass and that’s honestly not fair to the stories. So, I typically keep my loves separate as there haven’t been too many times the streams crossed successfully for my aforementioned pain in the ass self.

Breakaway though, is a completely different story. There’s a good bit of hockey sport, rules and regs throughout and the author did a stellar job of being true to the sport while keeping it accessible to hockey and non-hockey folks alike. That’s not an easy feat as hockey fans have a tendency to be rabid and a little off when it comes to their love of the game, so I get why it doesn’t always work. This one works. The game itself, as well as the ins and outs of the league became an integral part to the story and the vehicle for the relationship between Lane and Jared.

Lane and Jared are at two very different points in their respective careers and I really enjoyed listening to Jared’s views as he made decisions for his future based on his achievements, his overall career and his relationship with Lane. Jared was such a strong character based on his history and maturity, I really liked him. I know Lane is so very popular with fans of this book, I mean, you can’t not be in love with the guy as you get to know him, but Jared’s strength is what did it for me.

It’s the differences between the two characters that gave them so much appeal though. So I can’t have my Jared without Lane and vice versa, which it completely fine by this reader. Lane was just on the border of being too much, but the author knew how to redeem him when he was being clueless and how to rein him in before he went too far. The narrator nailed the voices for these two perfectly. They were distinctive and he was able to capture the subtle nuances of their dialog well so I never got lost in conversations no matter who was speaking.

The playoffs became another character in Breakaway and it was a lot of fun to listen to. Listening to the guys with their game faces when they were on the ice and then how they came together after was perfectly hockey and made me respect them both even more.

I have to give a shout out to Lane’s mom too. She wasn’t portrayed well through the bulk of the story, not awful, but not what I wanted for Lane either. Then when she makes her appearance in the story I loved her. The two of them did some actual communicating and she’s basically a female version of Lane. It’s no wonder they were both kind of lost. Lane makes all kinds of sense after you meet his mom and she and Jared clicked in the best possible way for their future.

There’s setup for the next in the series and I’m pretty hooked on the audio versions as the narrator is a great fit for the characters and when I read the blurbs for the rest of the series, I hear his take on the characters I’ve already met and I want to hear more from them.

For more information on Scoring Chances, check it out on Goodreads and over at Dreamspinner Press.

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

See our eBook review here!

Review: Please Don't Go by Felice Stevens

Danny Friedman knows all about loss. His father left to start a new family and now that his mother passed away, he's even more certain love is only temporary. People always disappoint him in the end, a lesson he learned years ago when his summer camp best friend and secret crush disappeared without a trace, never to be heard from again. Until now.

Fifteen years ago, Paul Merola left everything behind when he ran away with his mother to escape his abusive father. He lived life on the run for years, but never forgot his best friend, Danny. When his job transfers him to the New York City office, the past collides with the present, as Paul finds himself face to face with Danny, who works there as well. To Paul's dismay, a reluctant Danny makes it clear he has little desire to rekindle their friendship.

Despite Danny's desire to learn what happened all those years ago, he refuses to fall victim to Paul's charm, fearing he's being used to get ahead. Paul, finally secure enough to stay and put down roots, must convince Danny that there is more to them than a broken promise. Not only does he want to be friends again, he wants love. He wants forever. And he wants it all with Danny.

This story first appeared in the It Was Always You Anthology. It has been re-edited and expanded by approximately 5,000 words.

Hold on to me. I’ll always be there to catch you if you fall.

Call me a sucker but books about first loves who want second chances are my jam. I can’t help but fall for the idea that first loves are forever and that love can be enough if you give it another try.

Told from the dual POV’s of Danny and Paul, we meet Danny first as he is getting ready for work and has a longing of nostalgia for his camp days when he and Paul were friends. We learn that Danny was bullied frequently in school and considered Paul his only friend and we learn that through Paul’s encouragement and Danny’s growing self-esteem when they are together at camp, Danny fell in love with Paul. But Paul disappeared and Danny has now lost his loved ones and is alone.

But fate, it has its way of playing by its own rules and when Danny walks into work, he is greeted with the knowledge there are new employees via transfers and guess who is part of that bunch? Ack! When Danny hears the question about camp and those words whispered my heart hurt but turning the page to get Paul’s POV was worth it.
Fifteen years melted away and the yearning for Paul rushed through him as if once again they’d jumped off that rock, hand in hand.

The men’s reintroduction to one another was rocky. Danny isn’t out at work and of course he has always held a flame for Paul but little does Danny know, he’s been on Paul’s mind as well. The men haven’t seen or talked to one another in 15 years and Danny has no idea why Paul disappeared suddenly. But oh, Paul has some baggage of his own and he needs some strong shoulders with pale freckled kissable skin to help him carry it.

Goodness. It’s stories like these that my hopeless romantic heart loves. I know the feeling of unrequited love and separation. For me though, it ended in a reunion, marriage and children so I know that these things can work out. They have to work out, right?

Of course Danny would be leery of him. They hadn’t seen each other for over half their lives; to come on as strong as he did tonight was pure stupidity on his part. No matter where Paul had lived and who he’d been with through the years, Danny had been the one person Paul had never forgotten. He owed it to Danny to treat him with the respect he deserved.

Each chapter begins with a flashback phone call between teenage Danny and Paul. Some are truly heartbreaking when you see how desperate and alone Danny is with his absent father and cancer stricken mother. It broke my heart to see how much Paul cared and wanted to be there for Danny but his own circumstances prevented it. These two, Ugh. They have such chemistry, history and yes, hurt but they are adults now and things are different.

The story and romance plays out with Danny holding a grudge at not knowing why Paul left and Paul, feeling ashamed at the reason he had to leave and not wanting Danny to feel sorry for him. They go through the motions over few months and Paul even enlists Danny’s ginger BFF Maxi to get Danny to understand Paul is for real but Danny safely and strongly guards his heart after being hurt before. It’s totally understandable for him to be cautious and yet want to jump Paul, you know? Danny just has to know that he won’t be left again, that his heart won’t be broken and after depending on Paul to be there for him, will he stick around this time?

I liked where the story went, how Paul brought up a happy memory from their time at camp and finally telling Danny the reason he had to leave. I was okay with the instant declarations of love because these two have a past, even if it wasn’t a romantic relationship and love blooms when it wants so for me, it was all fine and sexy to have them be head over heels for one another.

 Find on Goodreads!

Guest Review: Truth of the Heart (Fae Haven #2) by Elizabeth Silver & Jenny Urban

When Conor wants to avoid his family’s well-meaning attempts to set him up with his ex, he asks his attractive and unattainable boss, Matt, to pose as his boyfriend over the Yule season. What he doesn’t tell Matt is that despite his habitual flirting with everyone he meets, Conor wants Matt like no one else. He also neglects to mention he’s fae, and his whole family is equally magical.

Matt doesn’t know and doesn’t care where Conor came from, only that he can’t imagine his store--or his life--without Conor in it. He knows it’s playing with fire to pose as a happy couple with his beautiful and too-young assistant, but he can’t resist the chance to pretend, if only for a little while. What he doesn’t count on is how good Conor feels in his arms...or how desperately he needs it all to be real.

Reviewer: Shee Reader

First let me admit I didn’t read book one in the story. I don’t think it reduced my enjoyment of the book in any way, in fact, I’m quite likely to look out the first one to see the getting together of a lovely couple we see a little of in this book.

Our story opens with Matt in his little magic and charm store, and a very attractive young man comes in. Cue the love interest I thought, but I like that this story is more than meets the eye. Of course the ‘kid’ is for Matt, and of course he is far older than he looks, but Connor comes with considerable baggage and an extremely crazy family who come to stay in town.

The getting together is steady, and then out lovely men fall into bed in a rush wench Matt gets over himself and agrees to play the part of Connor’s boyfriend in front of said crazy family to avoid them trying to marry him off to some woman.

There are many thrills and spills, I loved Connor’s dad misbehaving and the moonshine, but I think the story could have stood a bit more crazy magic family.

When Matt has a hissy fit after overhearing relatives gossiping and runs away from Connor I liked that the family rallied around but randomly appearing in his shop to tell him off!

On the whole I enjoyed the book, the start did feel a little on the slow side and I’d have liked more magic or other-realm stuff, the lovely happy ending was well worth it!

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

Find on Goodreads!

Giveaway + Blog Tour: Making Love by Aidan Wayne

Aidan Wayne is here today for the Making Love tour. Be sure to enter for your chance to win a $15 Riptide credit below!

Hey everyone, Aidan Wayne here! Wanted to welcome you to the blog tour for my latest release, Making Love. Throughout the week I will be sharing behind-the-scenes information about Making Love, and the inspiration behind it. Please feel free to participate in and comment on the tour. By doing so, you also get the chance to receive a $15 Riptide gift card!

About Making Love

Carla the cupid is an excellent shot, but her chemistry is so bad that most of her matches don’t last. Her dream is to shoot a True Love pair, but until her scores improve, she’s relegated to the Puppy Love division of Aphrodite Agency.

Leeta, a succubus, is looking for a True Love match. Which is highly unusual, as most succubi are aromantic. But Aphrodite Agency—her only hope—turns her away because the receptionist can’t believe she’s not just looking for an easy meal.

Carla agrees to take Leeta’s case on freelance. She figures it’s a win-win: Carla gets to put a succubus’s True Love match on her résumé, and Leeta gets to find her True Love! Except as Carla tries to find a match for Leeta, she finds herself maybe . . . relieved when the matches don’t end well. And Leeta seems to be getting pickier and pickier. Things will never work out until Carla learns enough about chemistry to figure out who’s truly best for Leeta, and until Leeta can admit what—or who—she truly wants.

Now available from Riptide Publishing.

About Aidan Wayne

Aidan Wayne is a big believer in character-driven stories with happy endings. This is not to say that stories can’t contain a little (or a lot) of grief, just that at the end of it all expect there to be bandages and hugs. They particularly like to write about minority characters because damn it, they deserve happy endings too.

When not writing, Aidan enjoys practicing aerial, martial arts, and ASL, and watching reality cooking shows. They are probably in the middle of twelve projects as you read this.

To celebrate the release of Making Love, one lucky winner will receive a $15 Riptide credit! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on February 4, 2017. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!

Review: Pieces of Me (Spectrum Nights #1) by Melanie Hansen

Scott Ashworth is a beautiful man and the hottest club host on the Phoenix gay scene. He takes what he wants, does what he wants, and does whom he wants. It’s a good life, but the journey to local popularity and fame wasn’t an easy one. For all that Scott’s looks are a blessing, at the same time they’re a curse—the source of his alcoholic mother’s inexplicable hatred.

Rylan Mahoney dreams of photojournalistic glory. He’s in Phoenix looking for the story of a lifetime, but the project isn’t coming to fruition. Needing rent money, he accepts a gig at Phoenix Pride hawking lewd lollipops and edible condoms…all while wearing gold lamé hot pants and a matching bow tie. When Rylan’s house keys and street clothes go missing after his shift, he’s desperate, until a stranger in a convertible stops to help.

The man is absolute sex on legs, and Rylan is jolted when he recognizes him—his stepbrother Scott Ashworth, long missing but suddenly larger than life. Scott is affluent and successful now, light years away from his hardscrabble days living with Rylan in a double-wide trailer deep in the heart of the Florida Panhandle.

Reunited after six years apart, Scott and Rylan are determined to put their past behind them, but fate may have other ideas and leave their future in jeopardy yet again.

Word count: 90,400

Warning: Underage sexual interaction, mentions of abuse, cliffhanger ending. - As mentioned on publisher's website.

Start as you mean to go on.

Every once in awhile a book comes along that sucks me right in and that is the greatest feeling for me as a reader. I sunk down into Pieces of Me like a good bubble bath with Jacuzzi jets. I connected right away with both Scott and Rylan and I've bought a ticket on their ship. God, please don't let it turn into the Titanic.

It starts off with them as teens having met after their parents unexpectedly married. I was caught off guard by half the book being YA, but it was a smart move on Hansen's part. She captured that youthful innocence and quality that allows kids to bond quickly whereas adults tend to be more cynical and wary.

They soon become allies and best friends all of which felt natural. Rylan is openly gay and Scott begins to recognize he's bi. Their forays into exploring their sexuality were both sweet and titillating with very little teen angst. Thank all the things for that.

I've come to realize that I'm not the greatest judge of whether or not a read is "heavy", so I'll just lay out some facts. Scott's mother Heather is verbally abusive, neglectful and an alcoholic who regularly tells Scott how much she hates him for ruining her life. They are poor and live in a trailer so there is some taunting by classmates both due to their socioeconomic status as well as Rylan being openly gay. Also, Rylan's first school friend is G who's trans, bullied some though most of it happens off page and has religious zealots for parents. I had some feels but my face never leaked, if that helps. It doesn't read like a downer. I even chuckled at some of the conversations and Rylan's ballsyness. 

Both of these characters are nuanced and complex but at the same time I felt like I knew them both right away. Honestly, I could go on and on about them but the fact of the matter is I loved them both. I think they give each other what the other needs without those needs being voiced. They're soul mates. The trust they feel towards one another is clear in the dialogue.

Hansen paid attention to the characterization details like accents and speech patterns and even changed them when we meet up with Scott again 6 yrs later in Phoenix. But what resonated the most with me was the layers she gave all of these characters, not making them caricaturishly black or white but somewhere in the grayscale. I find that believable. There wasn't a character in this book that I didn't at one point or another feel sympathetic towards because they all have their own story and don't easily fit into a specific label.

There is still much to be discovered about both Rylan and Scott and the last 6 yrs and I want a front row seat. It's clear their feelings for each other haven't changed and are on the verge of rekindling, but first Rylan's got to help Scott knit the pieces of himself together into a whole and complete person capable of loving Rylan the way he deserves as well as loving himself. 

The drag queens at Spectrum provide most of the levity and Teena can get directly into my pocket without passing 'Go' or collecting $200. I'm curious about the project Rylan is working on with trans women sex workers and I want to better understand what the story is. So... generally addicted to the whole kit and kaboodle is a fair assessment of my feels.

Word of caution- it does end on a cliff. The blurb does not lie. 

One last thing, I LOVE the cover. Finally! My cover love paid off.

I cannot recommend this enough. I would put it on a billboard but that seems like overkill.

A review copy was provided.

Find out more on Goodreads.

Tag Team Review: Private Truths by C.B. Lewis

For two role models with their reputations on the line, privacy might be a luxury they can’t afford, and love might be impossible.

After returning from service, Army veteran Jack McCall fought his way back from addiction and joined a charity supporting homeless veterans in London, where he became an inspiration to others. He approaches Edward Marsden, Viscount Routhsley, a known playboy and philanthropist, about sponsorship for his charity. To his surprise, Edward isn’t the shallow pleasure-seeker everyone assumes, and he and Edward share many interests. Little by little, they are drawn together in spite of the different worlds they come from.

But for two men in the public eye, happiness won’t be so easily achieved. Edward fears coming out as gay will shift attention from his charity work, and Jack worries his relationship with the aristocrat will undermine the integrity of his foundation. They come under intense scrutiny, leading to an inevitable clash between Jack and the press who won’t stop harassing them. As what they’ve built comes crashing down, Jack and Edward must make a choice: continue presenting the facade the public expects, or expose the private truths in their hearts so they can be together.

Sara - 5 Hearts

This was romantic. Oh so romantic with an engaging plot and character development that kept me so bloody glued to the page and in the story, I forgot to eat. Yeah, it was one of those books.

So before I get into this review, I need to say that I have five pages of notes and quotes that I don’t know what to do with. There is so much in this story, so much more than the blurb even alludes to that I don't know where to begin or what to share without giving too much away. This story is what I call an onion; you think you are getting what you see on the surface and yet the more you read, the stronger the story becomes and things happen to your eyes. Seriously though.

So. I’m gonna try to not ramble but, yeah. It’s my way.

Jack wondered when his world had become so off-balance. Probably, he thought, about the same time a tall, blond gentleman stepped into his life and confused everything.

Jack McCall, our wonderfully freckled ginger narrator, an ex-Army combat veteran, works his tail off with a charity Those Returned, a charity who aids veterans with the transitions back home and into civilian life. It’s not an easy job but it is one Jack takes great responsibility that when Jack is assigned the task of seeking out Edward Marsden, aka Viscount Routhsley, to get him to contribute the charity, a simple act of human decency via a glass of champagne sets the men on a course to one another.

I adored that the story was told from Jack’s POV because the man tells a great story. We get small bits of him and his past but the first meeting with Edward, it gives him a longing he was not prepared for. Little does he know, Edward has the same feelings; after a meeting at the shelter and then another at Edwards flat where the flirting was engaged by a just out of the shower Edward *bites fist* Jack learns that this man, a member of the aristocracy, happens to be so finely dressed because he is in the closet.

I have a soft spot for men in the closet. I think it has to do with the emotional journey they go on while fighting their fears and coming to terms with it all. But this, it’s not the traditional story we get of a closeted man and for that I was thankful. Edward is only in the closet so that the intentions of his money to charities isn’t mixed up with his preferences. The fact that Jack, a man he now fancies, is part of a charity Edward is giving money to, makes this complicated and that’s where the hiding comes into play.

You think I haven’t had people after me for my money before? I know you’re not. You know you’re not. The fact I want to sponsor your charity is irrelevant to the fact I wouldn’t mind having you in my bed.

Now, like I said before, this story is layered and while you have Edward needing to keep his sexuality out of the public eye his liking Jack can cause a few issues. It’s what happens because people (reporters) are terribly nosey that turns the story from a simple case of hiding a relationship to a stellar read that delivers romance, support, fight and true acceptance.

We take privacy for granted. I know I do.  People love to know the ins and outs of those who are in the papers and magazines; the celebrities from all walks of life. Regardless of how they came into the public eye, people want to know what they ate, what they are wearing, who they are dating, where are they going etc. It’s exhausting to see it online and on magazine covers that I just cannot imagine having to live it. To go to the lengths a public figure must when they simply fancy another person and want to have a relationship with them is extraordinary and insane.

This is all bollocks. We’re grown men. It’s no one’s business what we do behind closed doors.

This is true hurt/comfort and it’s done well. I like that Edward being in the closet is only for the public side of himself and that his family and those he holds close and trusts, know the truth. Meeting Edward’s father was a delight and I love how he treated Jack when they met. Edward’s parents are beyond accepting of their son and it was such a change to see and have it be believable.  Though he has the acceptance, Edward believes if he keeps his preferences out of his public life and charity work it’s for the best and both he and Jack believe keeping their relationship private is for the betterment of his involvement with Those Returned and yet, what could it cost them?

This romance is built upon chance that builds into a strong foundation. Jack, for reasons I won’t spoil, has a need to be hidden Edward is there to provide the soft landing jack needs. The men now have time to get to know one another without the public strains of reporters breathing down their necks.  Though the internal anxiety they face, of what would happen to Jack also allows them to deal with the stress of Jack’s PTSD and may I say, it was amazing to read how Edward helps Jack cope.

Edward. Le Sigh. The picture of Edward as a boy was simply adorable. I loved the stories he tells Jack but Jack, his thoughts on his Army career broke my heart and yet the time allowed them to share these bits with one another was truly bittersweet. You feel the connection they have, the friendship and the chemistry as lovers who want more. But how can either of them have more when neither of them are publicly out? It was the angst of all angst to see them struggle and yet the author delivers it gorgeously.

It was unfamiliar. Almost two decades in the military couldn’t ever have been considered safe, but even working with Those Returned, there was always the fear and doubt that if they found out about his past and what he was capable of, he might be turned out. But now, he’d let Edward see a little of who he was and the world hadn’t ended.

Edward is simply amazing. He isn’t your usual aristocratic wealthy man, he is just a man and his new found fondness for Jack is something he prioritizes. He wants Jack to be happy and healthy and seeing all the ways he comforts jack and supports him was amazing. He won’t let jack run away and throw away what is staring them in the face. Edward will fight for them to have a chance, even if that means telling all his truths.

The story is full of romantic moments but I think my favorite is Edward’s addiction to Jack’s freckles. Growing up with them myself, they weren’t always seen as a positive nor attractive so when you have a man, who finds them charming and interesting enough to search out constellations in them, just clean up the puddle of goo I turn into.

“How many men do you know who have the constellations picked out so beautifully on their back?”
“Freckles. They’re nothing special.”
Edward leaned closer. “Charming is what they are.”

This is one heck of a slow burn romance. Though the men move quickly into a physical relationship, it was just supposed to be “an enthusiastic fuck” and nothing more. But circumstances throw them together and they work, they communicate as adults so that they can get through it. You’d think living with someone after knowing them for such a short time would be awkward but the way Jack and Edward go about it was gorgeous and oh so romantic. I so enjoyed watching them fall in love while they learned about the other.

The secondary characters in the story are amazing and vital. Edward’s Matilda is a force to be reckoned with but she always has Edward’s best interests at heart and in her sights. She has known the man too long to not be diligent with his heart and make sure that all of his transactions are treated with the best public relations that can be offered. Even if that means she is a bit of a twat to Jack, I can see where she is coming from. Henderson is a good man and boss to Jack, always having his back and knowing that Jack is just like the ex-soldiers they help at Those Returned.  Again, Edward’s parents bring a spark into the story and Tommy and Angie were a breath of fresh air to an uptight situation but also for Jack.

His whole life was a fishbowl, and everything he’d done was to protect Jack from the worst of it.
Private Truths is a stellar work from a talented author who delivers a truly romantic story that is quick to be a favorite of mine. Not only does she tackle a tough subject of Veterans with PTSD but does so with respect. Lewis has created two men who refuse to exploit their relationship for the sake of comfort and instead, force their truths to be the guiding force to their happiness.

SheReadsALot - 5 Hearts

I love reading romance.

I love reading about all types of protagonists: the socially awkward, the ultra-suave, the shy, the grumpy, etc.  Hell even the super possessive 'alpha' has a place and time. Call it fantasy, guilty pleasure, whatever, just give me a good romance where the main characters have to work for a happy ending, and you will have a fan in me.

Private Truths by C.B. Lewis did this for me, hooked me with layered main characters who didn't expect love to be the final order....and were so happy that it happened to them.

A publicly closeted aristocrat and a war damaged veteran, who at the core of what matters, are great people who totally deserve each other. That's what you can find in Private Truths. This is my first 2017 fave for a reason, it's getting harder and harder I'm finding to read a book I actively want to re-read and bask in. I took joy in starting my day reading about Jack and Edward and seeing what the world threw at them next.

Set in present day London, the book starts with ginger haired vet Jack McCall being sort of forced into promoting his charity for vets in need, Those Returned, at a dress up event. His boss put him on the trail of wealthy Edward Marsden, Viscount Routhsley. Jack awkwardly places a bid for Those Returned, doesn't make much small talk and hightails it out of there as soon as he could. What he doesn't expect is really capturing the attention of the presumed ladies man viscount Routhsley.

I knew this book was going to be a winner from 4%. Jack and Edward have a chemistry that slow burned and simmered from that event and it carried itself all the way to the final page.
"I had no notion I would grow so attached to you, Mr. McCall."
"I'll second that." He leaned sideways until his shoulder rested against Edward's hip. Edward's fingers stroked through his hair and brushed down his neck. There was something comforting about the casual intimacy of that touch. "I'm glad it happened, though."
Edward kneaded his neck gently. "And I," he murmured, "shall second that."

Class differences? Yes. But Lewis didn't make it be the leading difference. Edward is smooth but he cares for people. And he takes a shine on Jack. However his public life is fodder for the gossip rags and ruthless paparazzi. So in the closet Edward remains. He and a reluctant Jack start of as men with a shared passion to help others in need, to friends, to lovers.

Jack gets swept into Edward's world. But Jack's had a taste of the limelight via harassing paparazzi. and for a man on edge and has PTSD, the results weren't favorable.

The story shines a light on those who suffer PTSD without going to extremes or brushing the aftereffects for a far fetched plot line. It's realistic. The relationship between the men doesn't happen overnight, the author wonderfully gives them time. Slow burn is the aim, over saturated sex-fests that drown out the plot won't be found here.
"Why the hell do you care?"
Edward's hand was warm against his cheek, and he had to fight the urge to tilt his head into Edward's touch.
"Why wouldn't I?" Edward asked quietly.
The passion is abundant as is the romance. The author (yes I nerded out to find out more about this author after reading) calls this book an "old fashioned romance", I couldn't agree more. At times, it gave me historical romance in present day feels. I could have easily put two men in a different time period and the story would still work.

The story mainly from Jack's POV. The reader gets to share in his wide range of emotion. The lust (yes, there is a good amount of sex, though not overly graphic), the fear and the uncertainty of falling for someone. Plus, the paparazzi/villainous angle also helped move the story along.

And the humor!
"Jesus Christ!" he exclaimed, rushing around the table to hug her, her round belly knocking against his ribs. "What's that big clown been doing to you?"
"Same thing you lads just done," Tommy said smugly, "with a hundred percent more fanny."
The humor was wonderfully mixed in throughout the book. Edward was a dashing leading man. I could buy why Jack was enamored. And Edward's parents are a hilarious delight. Even when times got rough, the humor peeked though, Great mix.

Another facet of this story is that it's on the quieter side of romance but their chemistry spoke volumes. I do enjoy a well written quieter romance, where the little moments tell a lot about the main characters' feelings. A touch can say so much.

I'm a quote-nista. I love a good quote. The more I love a story, the more quotes I save like a mad woman. Sara has 5 pages of quotes. (I'm pretty close w/ # pages of quotes from Private Truths) After my first time reading C.B. Lewis, I am a fan. I loved her words, pacing, the moments & in-between and all of her characters (even the arsehole ones)

Good persevered, an important light on veterans was portrayed with respect and a romance that definitely left a lasting impression was written. This ends with a solid HEA for me.

I'll be looking for more C.B. Lewis with bells on.

Recommended to readers who love romance between layered characters and enjoy reading slow burn.

Find on Dreamspinner Press or Goodreads!

Re-Release Blitz + Giveaway: A Face without a Heart by Rick R. Reed

Rick R. Reed and Signal Boost Promotions are here to blitz us all to celebrate the re-release of 'A Face without a Heart'! Curious about the book? 
See the information on today's post and don't miss the giveaway: win either an eBook copy of Third Eye or A Demon Inside by Rick R. Reed!

Cover: Aaron Anderson

Publisher: DSP Publications

Length: 56,887 words


A modern-day and thought-provoking retelling of Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray that esteemed horror magazine Fangoria called “…a book that is brutally honest with its reader and doesn’t flinch in the areas where Wilde had to look away…. A rarity: a really well-done update that’s as good as its source material.”

A beautiful young man bargains his soul away to remain young and handsome forever, while his holographic portrait mirrors his aging and decay and reflects every sin and each nightmarish step deeper into depravity… even cold-blooded murder. Prepare yourself for a compelling tour of the darkest sides of greed, lust, addiction, and violence.


He was beautiful. Beauty is so seldom ascribed to men, too often incorrectly attributed to men with feminine features—wavy blond hair, fine cheekbones, teeth cut from porcelain. But I’ve always thought of beauty as a quality that went deeper than the corporeal… something dark, dense, inexplicable, capable of stirring longings primal, longings one would be powerless to resist.

He was beautiful. I sat on a Red Line “L” train, headed downtown, bags of heavy camera equipment heaped at my side, one arm resting protectively over them. I watched the young man, unable to train my thoughts on anything other than this man who had blotted out the reality of the day, magical and transforming. Beauty, especially so rare a beauty, can do that. The young man was an eclipse, his presence coming between myself and the reality of the day hurtling by outside train windows.

He had come in behind three foreign people, a bright counterpoint to their drab clothes, colorless, already wilting in the August humidity. They chattered to one another in a language unrecognizable, Polish maybe, and I was annoyed at their yammering, unable to block it out sufficiently enough to concentrate on the book I was reading, a biography of William Blake.

I almost didn’t notice him. It wasn’t like me to pay much attention to what went on around me, especially when I was preparing for a shoot. Usually I used the time on the train to set up the photographs I would take, the way I would manipulate light and shadow and how it fell on my models, to arrange the props, set up and test the lighting.

But something caused me to look up when the doors opened—perhaps I was struck by the dissonance created by the unknown language—and I saw him. Close-cropped brown hair, a bit of stubble framing full lips, a bruise fading to dull below his right eye. The bruise did not detract from the man’s beauty but served to enhance it, making of the rough features something more vulnerable. The bruise was the embodiment of a yearning for the touch of a finger, the whisper of a kiss. He wore an old, faded T-shirt with a Bulls logo, black denim cut off just above his knees, and a pair of work boots, the seam on the left beginning to separate. In spite of the workman’s garb, there was something intellectual about the man, an intensity in his aquamarine eyes that portended deeper thought.

At that moment, I made a decision. I don’t know what caprice seized me. I have always led an orderly life, completely without surprise. But when the train pulled to a stop and the young man stood, I acted on an impulse that was as sudden as it was uncontrollable.

Author Bio

Rick R. Reed is all about exploring the romantic entanglements of gay men in contemporary, realistic settings. While his stories often contain elements of suspense, mystery and the paranormal, his focus ultimately returns to the power of love.

He is the author of dozens of published novels, novellas, and short stories. He is a three-time EPIC eBook Award winner (for Caregiver, Orientation and The Blue Moon Cafe). He is also a Rainbow Award Winner for both Caregiver and Raining Men. Lambda Literary Review has called him, "a writer that doesn't disappoint."

Rick lives in Seattle with his husband and a very spoiled Boston terrier. He is forever "at work on another novel."

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Review: Delayed Gratification (Daniel and Ryan #1) by Tamryn Eradani

Daniel Brown is a man of routine. You might even call him a control freak. So when the new Director of Marketing, Ryan Cole, starts shaking up Daniel’s routine, Daniel doesn’t know how to react. He finds Ryan intriguing, infuriating and oh so attractive, but he doesn’t mix business with pleasure. As their games start to grow kinkier, dare Daniel give in to his desire to let Ryan top him?

Daniel is a man after my own heart and mental health. I was right there with him and his rigid schedule down to his morning routine and smoothie. When he walks into his office and sees a donut on his desk, the familiarity of routine is jostled and he begins to wonder just who would know him well enough to see through the control freak to the donut lover. Sounds cheesy? Not really. If you are someone of mine and Daniel’s persuasion the interruption of daily routine is well, not welcome, until it is.

When a donut shows up the following day and Daniel notices a light on in a cubicle and follows it, he sees the new Director of Marketing and bearer of two first names, Ryan Cole with a Krispy Kreme bag. Coincidence? Nah. Seduction? Maaayyybbbeee…
Daniel doesn’t deny himself things because he doesn’t think he deserves them but because the reward of self-control is often more fulfilling than whatever it is he’s denying himself.
The little game of Ryan leaving a donut on Daniel’s desk begins. Daniel tries to resist the allure of the glazed goodness and is actually impressed by Ryan’s tenacity and newly learned respect for Daniel’s personal space. When Daniel’s weekend plans get cancelled and he is left in an empty office, will he let the temptation/reward of the donut win?

I know there is a lot of donut talk in this review but the donut was all about Ryan sizing up Daniel to see if their interests match. When he thinks they do, he decides to ask Daniel over for dinner. You see, Daniel being in control of his life, well it doesn’t always mean he wants to be in control 24/7 if you know what I mean and you know what I mean… right? *winks*
It’s instinct and impulsive decisions driven by need, by finally getting what he wants. The problem he’s found with rigid self-control is that when he loses it, he loses it.
I will admit this seems to move a little fast but when you are on point with someone, when they can read you and what you want, why would you wait? The dinner at Ryan’s was nothing short of sexy and being in Daniel’s head made it oh so enjoyable.

Now while I won’t say more, I will say I am anxious for the next book after that sneak peek and to where this all leads. I have to know and I need a few things done from Daniel and Ryan. Yup. I have needs too.

Find on Goodreads!

Review: Nightshade by Brooke Radley

Eleanor Reed spent most of her life at the Darten Academy, trading her childhood for an education in magic. When the King’s Council comes to her with a mission, she jumps at the opportunity for adventure. The assignment is deceptively simple: infiltrate the Nightshade Brotherhood, the city’s infamous thieves’ guild, and confirm their responsibility for the recent emergence of a hallucinogenic drug.

Unfortunately for her, the Brotherhood hates mages. If they catch Eleanor, they’ll slit her throat and toss her in the ocean.

Hiding her identity proves to be an impossible task. Cassandra, a thief as beautiful as she is dangerous, sees Eleanor cast a spell during her trial for the Brotherhood. Rather than kill her, Cassandra offers her a position in the guild. Cassandra holds the key to success for Eleanor—but is she after something more?

Under Cassandra’s tutelage, Eleanor discovers that the Brotherhood isn’t quite what it seems to be, and the ever-growing drug problem is more complicated than originally anticipated. Whoever is at fault will stop at nothing to get what they want.

Things go from bad to worse when Eleanor realizes her growing passion for Cassandra. Will Eleanor be able to decide where her loyalties lie before it’s too late?

This is a work of literary/genre fiction.

DNF @ 21%

I’m just not that into you

I really hate not finishing a book. It grates on me to no end. Even if it’s not a masterpiece, I still want to know what happens, and where the story went wrong for me. I just couldn’t do it here. I cannot drum up the motivation to get even half way through. I can’t pinpoint exactly what the problem is, but I do have a few ideas.

This story sounded interesting. Fantasy + Adventure is usually right up my ally. With an inexperienced mage, right out of the Academy, and a seasoned criminal of the Nightshade Brotherhood; a drug scandal, and risky intel gathering, and it sounds pretty fun.

Unfortunately this just didn’t work for me. I tried…… really hard, but I just couldn’t get into it.
The writing is good, but the flow was very slow for me. It was extremely wordy, and while that may be appealing to some, I found myself 21% into the story, and no real action. Not really my idea of infiltrating a criminal organisation to discover it’s secrets.

While the character building of Eleanor was thorough, none of the supporting characters were built up as well. I also found Eleanor to be a little dry. I think the story would have worked better for me if there was some lightness in it, in the form of a sense of humour. None of them had one. It was extremely serious, which made it drag in dialogue, and narration. This problem, coupled with the lack of secondary character development and I couldn’t connect with the story at all.

Others may enjoy this. The world building was pretty thorough, and I liked the idea of it. It just didn’t capture me, and I really can’t justify trying to pick this story up again.

A review copy was provided by the publisher for an honest opinion

Find on Goodreads!