Review: Rip Cord: The Reunion & The Weekend (Rip Cord #1 & 2) by Jeanne St. James

The Reunion:
Gil Davis hated high school. Ever the geek, he has no intentions of attending his 10th year class reunion. The last thing he wants is to relive the taunting and teasing he received during his teenage years. However there is one thing he misses from high school: the star Varsity football player. The one he had a crush on from the first day he laid eyes on him. But the last thing he expects is the now pro football player to come back to their home town to attend a lame high school reunion. Known as the Bad Boy of the NFL, Ripley “Rip” Cord, not only shows up, but shows up without a date and an eye for Gil.

The Weekend:
Geek extraordinaire Gil Davis hooked up with his long-time crush Rip Cord, the Bad Boy of the NFL, during their tenth year class reunion. It was a dream come true for Gil, so when Rip surprises Gil with a trip to the pro football player’s cabin on the lake two weeks later, Gil looks forward to their weekend alone. Since Rip is still deep in the closet due to his career, Gil will take any stolen moments they have. Little does Gil know, those moments will be filled with a blindfold and ropes, as well as a bad tumble down the mountain.

But a few bumps and bruises won’t stop Gil from spending precious time with Rip and his toys. However when the weekend ends, will Rip disappear again? Or will Rip want to take their relationship to the next level?

The Reunion –
Gil Davis was a nerd in high school who loathed his time there as he was made fun of and constantly bullied. He really did not want to go do his 10 year high school reunion but his best friend and roommate Katie talks him into it. When it’s about time to get his table assignment he hears that Rip Cord will also be attending and it spikes Gil’s anxiety and attraction. You see Ripley “Rip” Cord was the captain of the football team and the captain of all Gil’s high school fantasies. Gil followed Rip through his professional football career after school and never thought he’d see him again, let alone that Rip would remember who Gil was and more.
This moved pretty fast but it was pretty hot so I am just going to go with the flow. It really helped that Rip knew not only who Gil was back in high school, he knew Gil liked him and Rip liked Gil right back. What made it bittersweet is Rip being in the closet because of his bad boy reputation both in high school and now in his professional career that he doesn’t quite know how to rescue Gil or simply just be with him.
“I feel I still have a reputation to live up to. I’m the Bad Boy of the NFL. That’s who I am. Who I’m expected to be. I don’t know how to be anyone else.”
“Can you be yourself with me?”
“I don’t know. Sometimes I just don’t know myself anymore.”

The Weekend – 

Only a few weeks after the reunion and Rip calls up Gil, telling him he has an hour to get ready for a weekend in the mountains. Gil of course is still on a high from fucking his high school crush and “NFL Bad Boy” that he starts packing immediately. When Rip shows up on his motorcycle and tosses just about all the essentials Gil needed for his trip out, Gil is a bit confused but he is dick drunk and just goes along with all Rip wants.
I get the Alpha male deal but Rip was starting to bug me at this point. If he likes Gil and wants to spend any amount of time with him, you’d think he would let Gil bring what he wants and not try to control every damn thing. It’s guys like Rip that were abundant in M/F romance and why I stopped reading it. You can be an Alpha male and still be a decent human being. I am not even going to go into their first time up at the cabin and what Rip did and did not do before he tied up Gil and fucked him… just ugh. Consent is more than asking someone if they are ready and then calling them a liar after they only nod. 

I hoped it would get better, that Rip would become softer at least with Gil and we do see bits of it, of his vulnerability with his career, his reputation and how it all conflicts with his sexuality and coming out. We do get an even softer Rip when he takes care of Gil after the hike and when he expresses his wants and why he can’t have them. It was sweet that you could tell Rip likes Gil for more than just the fuck he promised but what will Rip to do and change what he can?

This ended pretty abruptly and while it was a possible HFN with the second story, I am going to read the next and hope for a much softer Rip, a totally confident Gil and a HEA that these two deserve.

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Blog Tour: Warlock in Training (Studies in Demonology #1) by T.J. Nichols

TJ Nichols is here today playing devil's advocate for... demons. Pay attention, kids. 

Demons Can Be Heroes Too

Demons are usually seen as bad…but what if they’d just received a lot of bad publicity? They have magic and can tempt you into do doing all kinds of things, but they can’t force you to do anything so really, blaming a demon is an excuse.

In the world that Warlock in Training takes place in (which is like our world, but warped by magic) demons are blamed for all kinds of things, from the coming ice age to the rampages that happen through the streets forcing the college to kill the rogue demons. They can trick unsuspecting young warlocks into all kinds of debauched rituals. And warlocks should never, ever, get intimate with a demon (and there are most definitely no sex magic rituals in this book, because who wants to read about Saka and Angus making out and doing other things that would require a rating on this blog post…and I most definitely did not have a lot of fun writing those things that shouldn’t happen between warlocks and demons ;) ).

Saka is the demon hero of Warlock in Training. Much like the human, Angus, he is a magic user to his people and he is greatly concerned about the drying out of his world. There’s less rain, the desert is spreading and less babies are being born.

He makes the choice to connect with a human warlock knowing that warlocks have been killing demons for their magic. Many demon mages won’t take that risk. When a tear in the void between the human and demon worlds opens Saka steps through and meets Angus for the first time. That scene is from Angus’s point of view as he is desperately trying to fail the class and not summon a demon.

If it were from Saka’s point of view it might go something like this…

Saka felt the ripple on his skin as the void tore open. He hesitated even though he knew what he should do. Most mages would turn away the opening so some other demon was forced to go through—only mages had the skill to avoid that first summoning.

But he believed that the best way to fight the death of Demonside was by educating the warlocks. That mean he had to accept the call and cross the void.

This wouldn’t be his first warlock. He knew what to expect.

He drew in a breath and welcomed the cold touch of the void. It shimmered open in front of him.

There was a chance that if he stepped through he wouldn’t come back. The warlocks doing the summoning might try to kill him. But if he didn’t try he was doing nothing to save his home and he couldn’t do that either.

So he stepped through and found himself in a weak circle that he could break with barely a thought facing young man who looked like he’d rather be anywhere else.

His skin was pale and freckled and his hair was red…he was a pretty would be warlock. And for a moment Saka was distracted by the thoughts of how he’d like to rebalance some of the magic taken from Demonside with the warlock who’d summoned him. His gaze slid down the young man’s body and a smile formed on his lips.

He could do nothing, and wait for another summoning to happen, or he could take this warlock in training and show him Demonside and what the warlocks were destroying by not rebalancing what they took.

He didn’t have long to decide.

Would the college retrieve this warlock or leave him to die? It was a risk. One he was willing to take. 


Angus Donohue doesn’t want to be a warlock. He believes draining demons for magic is evil, but it’s a dangerous opinion to have—his father is a powerful and well-connected warlock, and Angus is expected to follow the family tradition.

His only way out is to fail the demon summoning class. Failure means expulsion from the Warlock College. Despite Angus’s best efforts to fumble the summoning, it works. Although not the way anyone expects.
Angus’s demon, Saka, is a powerful mage with his own need for a warlock.

Saka wants to use Angus in a ritual to rebalance the magic that is being stripped from Demonside by warlocks. If Angus survives his demon’s desires and the perils of Demonside, he’ll have to face the Warlock College and their demands.

Angus must choose: obey the College and forget about Demonside or trust Saka and try to fix the damage before it’s too late. Whatever he does, he is in the middle of a war he isn’t qualified to fight.



TJ Nichols is an avid runner and martial arts enthusiast who first started writing as child. Many years later while working as a civil designer TJ decided to pick up a pen and start writing again. Having grown up reading thrillers and fantasy novels it’s no surprise that mixing danger and magic comes so easily, writing urban fantasy allows TJ to bring magic to the everyday.

With two cats acting as supervisors TJ has gone from designing roads to building worlds and wouldn’t have it any other way. After traveling all over the world and Australia, TJ now lives in Perth, Western Australia.

Twitter: @TobyJNichols

See our review of Warlock in Training here

Review: Leaning Into Love (Leaning Into #1) by Lane Hayes

Eric Schuster is a successful guy. He’s part owner of a highly successful tech firm, he has a supportive family and a great group of close friends. But something is missing. Or maybe he’s reacting to his business partner and ex’s wedding news. He knows his former lover is making a big mistake but he also knows it’s time to move on. And hopefully avoid falling for another friend.

Zane Richards is an avid sailor and surfer with a laid-back approach to life. He firmly believes there’s a time and place for everything if you’re willing to take a chance. Like letting his best friend know he’s interested in being much more than friends. Eric has always been half in love with Zane but going from friends to lovers isn’t an easy sell for someone protecting his heart. Eric will have to decide if he’s willing to risk it all by leaning into love.


There was something incredible about seeing someone you've known for years in a different light.

Hey there friends to lovers trope! Good to see ya!

This was a nice introduction to a new to me author.

Eric and Zane have known each other since high school but didn't become friends until they both ended up at Stanford. They don't have that much in common with Eric being an uptight tech billionaire to Zane's laid back independent sailing business owner, but they are both self made men, so I wouldn't characterize them as opposites attracting. 

I liked both of them equally and the evolution of their relationship felt organic with some awkward transitional moments and fumbling how to tell their circle of friends once they realize their relationship has crossed the line in the sand from friends to boyfriends.

I usually have a hard time investing in characters when reading anything other than a novel and that was again the case here. There's usually not adequate time to really flesh out the characters and as a character-centric reader I have a hard time connecting without that. I got an impression of both but I never sunk down into the read. However, it is a sweet, low angst story with some heartfelt moments between them, a couple of tingleworthy sex scenes and serves as a nice intro to a series.

Nick's marital nonsense caused problems for Eric and Zane not to mention his fiancée and I'll say Nick was not my favorite person. He doesn't deserve a friend as good as Eric. Douchey dude is douchey.

The sailing stuff and the fact that they both make efforts to really be in each others lives were the highlights of the story and the epilogue/bonus chapter. Those were both gooey. There was maybe a little too much interior decorating and label dropping but I didn't think it was excessive.

I'd recommend Leaning Into Love to fans of this trope who'd like a sweet little nugget of a read. It makes for a nice palatte cleanser.

A review copy was provided.

Find out more on Goodreads.

Review: Guarding Mr. Fine (Tough Love #3) by HelenKay Dimon

In this steamy novel of seduction and international intrigue, two brave men are stripped of their defenses—and exposed to dangers and desires that simmer below the surface.

As an agent with the CIA’s special activities division, Seth Lang lives for risk—and yet he’s stuck playing bodyguard to the U.S. consul general in Munich. Although Seth’s last assignment nearly killed him, babysitting some desk jockey in a suit sounds way too easy. But when he lays eyes on the new top man, tactical expert Rick Fine, Seth’s thrilled to see just how hard this job is going to get. Mr. Tall, Dark, and Quiet has a body worth guarding—and he requires hands-on attention day and night.

Dispatched to a German consulate to expose the murder of his predecessor, Rick finds himself in an extremely vulnerable position. He needs a man like Seth—in so many ways. This mission will inevitably plunge them both into jeopardy, but each new threat only brings them closer. Rick just hopes that he can keep his deepest, darkest secret hidden—or else risk imperiling a relationship they’re both fighting for their lives to protect.


I don't want to nitpick the stuffing out of this thing. In the simplest terms, I was disappointed which is unfortunate but it is what it is and mine is but one opinion.

Mainly I didn't like Seth. I found his professionalism grossly lacking. I understand love clouding one's judgment and the need to be overprotective of a loved one, but when it's essentially instalove... that's a harder sell for me. He's that guy that walks into a room and feels compelled to prove he's swinging the biggest meat. Pretty much every conversation he engages in has the potential to turn into a throwdown and there seems to always be a thread of contention. I'm not big on anger balls. I'm not averse to some alpha dynamics but the alphahole schtick got WAY too heavy handed for me especially considering Rick outranks him.

I can go for domineering (see every Crossfire review ever) but when the one he's trying to protect at all costs is black ops CIA? Does that guy really need his "bodyguard"/"boyfriend" (of about 15 mins) to dictate every move he makes? It made Rick look like a damsel in distress and I don't even like my actual damsels to need saving when they're in distress! I'd put these two at Level of Cray-2: we get it you're in each others pocket 24/7.

A little less testosterone, please.

My second complaint, and there may be a bit of cyber foot stomping here, is under no circumstances should a reader of a suspense thriller be able to figure out who the bad guy is by 7%!

I care not that this is first and foremost a romance but the window dressing is thriller. Is it too much to ask for at least a mediocre mystery plotline? A little subtlety would've been appreciated. I want to be made to work for it and the clue dropping was about as subtle as ole Spicey.

Even though I found both the MCs to be far too trusting of someone they'd fucked once in a back room of a club, their sexual chemistry is undeniable. There are some sweet moments between them, particularly that shower scene was sappy in a way I like. I found some of the bedroom power games weird but they like to bone often so whatever. I probably would've found all the boinking hotter had I connected with either one of them but I didn't. They're both annoying to varying degrees and 2D. I did like Rick more than Seth. He's cheeky and irreverent but not nearly as cheeky and irreverent as Nathan.

I LOVED Nathan! He was the highlight of the book.

The endgame is predictable on both the romance and the whodunit fronts. Some of the thriller aspects didn't particularly add up which wasn't exactly a shocker given the aforementioned SEVEN PERCENT (implied exclamation point) but the spy lingo was good.

Guarding Mr. Fine can be read as a standalone. I've not read the two prior books and was able to keep up just fine. 

I would recommend it to those in search of crazy possessive MCs. I'm looking at you, fans of The Calmes. Also, those who enjoy escapism infused with loads of testosterone fueled sex should add this to the TBR immediately.

A review copy was provided by NetGalley.

Find out more on Goodreads.

Blog Tour: Wounded Pride by Remmy Duchene & BLMorticia

Remmy Duchene is here to talk about the friends to lovers trope and to promote Wounded Pride, a joint venture with BLMorticia!

Hi everyone! My name is Remmy Duchene and I write interracial romance (heat level depending on my mood). I am here to talk to you about Wounded Pride that is being released today at Dreamspinner Press! I am super excited because it’s the second novel written by myself and my co-author BLMorticia and we are happy to give our Renford and Brian a lil story of their very own!

For those who aren’t aware, Wounded Pride is book 2 to Wounded Hearts. Yes, they stand alone based on the fact that the main characters are different. In Wounded Hearts we meet Cyrus and Zane and in Wounded Pride, we have Renord and Brian.

We read all the time about friends becoming lovers and for me, I love those kinds of stories. I could sit for a whole day and merely read one after the other after the other. Sure, in fantasy land there are a few things that get in the way to make us salivate and rub our hands together like evil geniuses while muttering “the plot thickens!” (Wait – am I the only person who do that? Okay, then…carry on). But in real life that kind of progression could end in tears. The path from friendship to something more is a line that must be towed quite carefully. Often times we sit back and say “well, what if he or she, doesn’t feel the same way?” Yes, that could be an issue.

There’s always the fact that we cannot read each other’s minds. We may be able to guess based on how the other person treats us and even that could be mistaken for something it's not.

The problem is, as human beings we really need to be able to have a conversation and then decide to walk away from it. But we aren’t capable of that. Once one friend confesses to having amorous feelings for another, there are one of three possibilities –

1.      Let’s do this!
2.      No, we can’t possibly do this. What were you thinking?
3.      The world ends!

Dramatic? Perhaps, but life is unpredictable—so is love. We never know what the other person is feeling until one or both of you open your mouth and say something. And now—grabbing a kissing that person is the absolutely wrong thing to do - *shifty eyes* I am not speaking from experience here…


Renford Kline is straight… right? He got over his experimentation in college and moved on. Then how does he explain his blush-inducing fantasies about Brian Daystar? Fantasies he’s having when he should be focused on his career move from attorney to professor. When Brian comes to New York, Renford knows he’s in trouble. Everything about Brian attracts him—from his tight body to his beautiful, dark, hair—but Renford is straight… right?
Brian Daystar needs a break. He’s been working nonstop to turn his Montana ranch into a safe haven for at-risk youth—so much so that he can’t even bring himself to care when he finds out his partner, country star Corey, is cheating on him. Their relationship has been over for a long time, but it might take his feelings for Renford to make Brian accept it.
Both men have decisions to make. Renford must come to terms with who he truly is, and Brian is going to have to decide if he will shun his happiness or embrace it.
“Damn!” Cecily walked over to hand him a bottle of water and a towel. “You’re a beast. Why do you push yourself so hard?”
“It feels good?” Renford panted. “It makes me feel alive.”
“You’re a sucker for punishment.” Cecily laughed. “But you do look good, I have to admit. Anyway, I’m getting better at my pictures, right?”
Renford stopped pacing to take a quick look at the shots she’d taken. He didn’t see why she insisted on taking his picture. He didn’t see himself as particularly handsome. Even in his modeling days, he didn’t really see what the fuss was about.
“They look good—I think.”
“So glad my opinions are all that matters. I’m sending these to Zane… oh shit!”
“Whew! False alarm! I almost sent them to Brian.”
Renford laughed before downing the rest of the water, then walked over to dump the bottle into a recycle bin. He grabbed a cold Gatorade from the small cooler, since his body needed to replace the electrolytes he’d lost during the workout.
“So, Mr. Ex-DA, what are you going to do with the rest of your life?” Cecily sat on the bench before him and set the camera beside her. “Use some of those millions?”
Renford made a face. “I don’t know. I’ve been getting offers from universities to teach.”
“Oh! Professor Kline! Love it. Love it!”
Renford chuckled softly. “I’m not sure if I’m cut out for teaching anyone anything. And who would want to come sit down for an hour and a half to listen to me drone on and on about the legal world?”
Renford nodded.
“If any of my professors looked like you, I’d have gone to more classes. So technically you’ll be doing the future minds a favor.”
“I don’t know.” Renford grinned. “I don’t think I want to be responsible for someone’s education. I’m no teacher.”
“You were a great lawyer, Ren, and an even better assistant district attorney. You just have to share what you have in here”—she tapped the left side of his head—“with the future lawyers. If we can get a few more like you into the system, who knows what kind of good that can do!”
“You have way too much faith in me….”
“Well, someone has to. If we leave it up to you, you’d stay in your condo and become a hermit. A sexless hermit.”
Renford laughed. “I know I’ve been on a little bit of a dry spell….”
“That’s what you’re calling it?”
“What would you call it?” Renford asked.
“A drought.”
“Okay, Ceecee, you’re overreacting.”
She shook her head. “If you ask Zane, he’ll tell you the same thing. You need to get out there more. Meet women.”
Renford flinched. “I haven’t been interested.”
“You?” She rose to press a palm to his forehead. “Not interested in women? You? Are you sick?”
“No, smartass. I’m not sick…. Can we not talk about it? I have to take a shower and head home anyway. Brian had his ceremony today, and I want to know how it went.”
“Why are you putting so much pressure on yourself? You don’t have be a professor or a layer. For once you can just sit back and enjoy your money.”
Renord pressed his lips into a thin line.
“Seriously, Ren. Between your inheritance, what you made as a lawyer, then ADA – you never have to work again. Money will never be an issue for you or your children’s children. So don’t take this so seriously.”
“I know that, Ceecee. But I’d drive myself crazy.”
“So—this isn’t driving yourself crazy?”
Renford laughed. “Yeah. I guess I really need to calm down, huh?”
Ceecee nodded with a grin. “Yeah. Listen, Ren, I need to ask you a favor.”

Author Links:
Find BLMorticia here -
Find Remmy Duchene here
IG: manluvlikeaboss

Thanks for stopping by and have a good one!

Remmy Duchene

Review: Breaker (Exile #1) by Kelly Wyre & A.F. Henley

In the wake of several near-cataclysmic events, humanity created the Cure, a DNA-altering antidote to death by disease and old age. But all cures come with side effects: a small percentage of the population develops a wide range of powers, some of which are lethal to others, and some which are lethal to the wielder.

These people are called the Estranged, hunted and shunned, safe only on the Island of Exile. It is here that Kaeva and Eddie meet—and where they set a prophecy in motion, quite possibly sealing their own demise, and even the end of Exile.

I have a thing for psychic abilities. I think it was created by my thirteen year old self reading Carrie for the first time, while on a backpacking trip with my school.

Authors who can dream up cool abilities, and how they can manifest rarely disappoint me.

This story was cool. There were a lot of fun abilities, and names for the abilities, and I became absorbed in this story from chapter one.

Kaeva is a loner on the island, Exile, and has been tasked with taking care of a new intake. Because of his unpredictable ability, he isolates himself to the farthest part of the island, and is not happy about having to take care of the new person, whom no one actually knows, but one of the island founders has dreamed about.

Eddie has dreams of ending it all. He has a plan and intends to play it out on an island home his uncle left for him in his Will. On his way, an emergency happens and he ends up on a journey to an unknown place. He has no issues with this, as it is a final adventure before the big sleep.

When Kaeva meets Eddie he is less than impressed, and with Eddie’s ability not obvious, and considered weak, Kaeva does not understand why Eddie wants to kill himself.

There is a fair amount of heaviness with Eddie’s suicidal ideations, and I caution readers who may be triggered by this. Eddie isn’t depressed, per se, but he is feeling useless, alone, and fearful. His mind picks things up that he cannot control, he has never been in contact with anyone else who Estranged, and he hasn’t been able to connect with anyone normal.

This story isn’t so much about Eddie’s suicide mission, as it is about Kaeva and Eddie learning to connect. Kaeva has had very few good experiences being around people, and it is difficult for him to be around Eddie without worrying he will kill him.

But as the story progresses, the connection and communication grows, until they are at ease with each other in a way they have never been with anyone else. I found that both had really lovely personalities, as different as they were, and managed to find some happy as they learned about each other.

I’m excited about this series. I enjoyed this book a lot. The world building was thorough, but leaving enough for more stories to follow. I hope the authors run with this, and that they have more to tell from this world.

This is not an action adventure, but more about a group of people living with abilities that can be harmful to themselves and/or others, and making a life for themselves, away from the rest of civilisation.

I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys Sci-Fi, specifically genetic mutations, with psychic abilities.

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Missed the Breaker tour stop? See here

Review: The Bucket List (LoLLA #1) by Tricia Owens

When Quinn nearly dies in a skydiving incident, his life flashes before his eyes...and it's pretty boring. Even though he's moved to Las Vegas to rebel against his strict Mormon upbringing, he still hasn't done much to liven up his life. Quinn worries that he really is a dud, until a gorgeous man walks up to him and suggests an indecent proposal.

Gabriel has had a lot of sex. He's fantastic at it and he's good-looking, so he never lacks for people willing to jump into bed with him. But after a rough break-up, he's determined to make hooking up a secondary priority. It's too bad that when he first sees Quinn and his heart goes pitter-patter, Gabriel's first instinct is to make a bet with Quinn involving sex.

With one spin of the roulette wheel, Gabriel and Quinn embark on a series of sexually adventurous dares, each more exciting than the last. But what happens when one of them pushes for something more? This is book one of the LoLLA series, standalone novellas featuring lots of love/sex, low angst, and a Happily Ever After ending. Perfect for when you want a quick dose of happiness!

I am a bit twisted as to how I feel about this. I liked the opening of Quinn having a near death experience while skydiving to kick his butt to stop living in fear and take chances. I think we’ve all had something happen where we want to try to really live like that but Quinn was all talk - to himself - and no action. When he is working one night at the Lucky Strike Casino, a hot guy aka Gabriel walks in, places a bet at the Roulette table and makes a bet with Quinn. The bet? He wins and he gets to blow Quinn. From there, the place your bet for money and place you bet for sex continues between Quinn and Gabriel. Sounds kinda hot yeah? Not so much.

For me what makes it not hot is how Quinn reacts every time. Sure, it’s normal to do something way out of your comfort zone and then feel weird about it but the shame and confusion coming off Quinn would take me out of the sexy. IF shame was Quinn’s kink I could get on board but I never got that at all. He kept trying these things, even going so far to leave with Gabriel who is still a stranger and do something he didn’t ask for (his friend send the text to Gabriel asking for something and then deleted it so Quinn goes in blind), all for the chance to cross something off his bucket list. The hopeless romantic in me wants to think that at the primal soul lever, Quinn was connected to Gabriel enough to trust him but I can’t even go there. Again, his actions after told me a different story.

At half way through the book we get Gabriel’s POV which was odd but I hoped he could freshen up the story a bit. What we find is he is used to doing the sexy sex deal as it’s his go to but it leaves him empty. We also find out that Gabriel really likes Quinn and even though they lives in separate states, he wants to get to know Quinn. But Quinn, is so freaking odd about it all and keeps blowing Gabriel off which was turning me off and me just wanting the book to be over.

Once they finally get on with the more than sex, I was beyond ready to move on, so it felt anti-climactic to me.

The story had promise but I couldn't feel an ounce of chemistry between the men and while I liked Gabriel, Quinn bugged the hell out of me.

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Release Blitz + Giveaway: How the Other Half Lives (London Lads #2) by Clare London

Clare London and Signal Boost Promotions celebrate the re-release of How the Other Half Lives (London Lads #2) from Dreamspinner Press! Check out information from today's post and enter in the giveaway. You could win an ebook copy of Chase the Ace (London Lads #1)!

Length: 20,000 words


Compulsively neat freak meets chaotic slob: can their living space survive the conflict?

Martin Harrison keeps himself to himself and his Central London flat as neat as a new pin. Maybe he should loosen up and enjoy more of a social life, but in his mind, that’s tantamount to opening the floodgates to emotional chaos. He agrees, however, to join the flat-sitting scheme in his building and look after another tenant’s flat in exchange for a similar watch over his when he’s travelling for his work.

A floor away in the same building, Russ McNeely is happy with his life as a freelance cook and a self-confessed domestic slob. He also joins the flat-sitting scheme, both to be neighbourly and to help keep his flat in order, as Russ also travels for his work.

For a while, the very dissimilar men never meet. Martin is horrified at the mess at Russ’s flat, while Russ finds Martin’s minimalist style creepy. But in a spirit of generosity, each of them starts to help the other out by rearranging things in their own inimitable way.

Until the day a hiccup in the schedule brings them face-to-face at last.


There’s no way I think Ethan’s amusement is justified, no way at all. I suppose I imagined he would share my righteous horror at the experience I’ve just been through. No… suffered is the appropriate word.
“Holy crap in a handbasket, Martin, if you could only see the expression on your face! Was it really that bad?” He laughs, rather too loudly and too long for my liking. “Come on, we’re living in a sophisticated city, in a hub of the civilised world, not some kind of ghetto. These are very smart flats, and the tenants have to pass some kind of credit check before moving in. Your upstairs flat-sit can’t have been the hellhole you so graphically describe.”
“It was.” I’m still shuddering at the mere memory. “Initially I thought the place had been burgled. I’ve never seen such a mess in my life. Everything jumbled together. Nothing labelled, stacked properly, or cleared away.” Ethan’s still laughing at me, and I don’t approve of his levity. “There were dirty plates, Ethan. Lots of them, and not just in the sink! I found an umbrella in the bathroom, a car maintenance kit in the kitchen, and some correspondence pinned to the wall in the lobby with a fork. Like a…. Like a spear.” It remained the most aggressive vision. “There was dust on the top of every door frame, and a very disturbing colour scheme on the walls of the living room. I had a headache after my first evening visit.”
“So, what do you have to do? Do you have to live there while the owner’s away?”
Thankfully, I catch that glint of mischief back in his eye. “Very amusing, I’m sure. No, I only have to check in on a daily basis. Make sure that the alarm is set, turn off lights that have been left on—every single one, Ethan!—and collect up the post. Sensible things like that.”
From the sly look on Ethan’s face, I suspect he’s still provoking me. “What about it?”
“I believe you can tell a lot by a person’s post.”
“I believe so too,” I reply dryly. “But if that’s the case, I’m not much the wiser, having waded through a mass of free flyers and invitations to various gourmet events. The owner appears to be in the catering trade, or has ambitions to be. Unless they’re a professional gamer—there were several magazines with lurid covers of impossibly cantilevered animated women, or surly assassins dressed in camouflage, with guns larger than their own torsos.”
“How the other half lives,” murmurs my so-called friend, unable to hide his grin. “You sorted through it for the owner, then?”
“Well, of course I did.” I can feel a slight flush on my cheeks. “Among other things. The owner obviously needs help, and I… had a spare hour. For example, I put the car kit and the umbrella back in the hall, and took a large pile of bedding from the living room to the dresser in the bedroom. Then back in the living room, I sorted a total mess of CDs into alphabetical order.”
I’m slightly disturbed that I sound like someone’s domestic help, but I’m also secretly impressed with how efficient I’d been in the allotted time. “Oh, and there was a hideous smell in the bathroom. I was going to alert the caretaker of the building, but upon investigation, I found a filthy bottle of stagnant liquid in the linen cupboard by the boiler. I disposed of that, of course.”
“Of course,” Ethan murmurs.
“I did find washing-up the crockery particularly challenging. The tenant appears to cook extensively and uses some very eccentric, exotically flavoured ingredients. If left to dry on the china, they stain—that’s all I’ll say about it.” I finally acknowledge Ethan’s amusement at my expense. “You’re the one who told me to show some neighbourliness.”
“So, you found out who owns this flat?”
“Um. Well, barely.” One would think Ethan assumed some ulterior motive in me, like common curiosity or something equally alien to my calm self-sufficiency. “A person called McNeely, initial R. Apart from that, I have no information. The owner never turned up for the introductory meeting. The management committee provided the key and the details, including the signed agreement to my access.” I shift, inexplicably uncomfortable for a moment. “I’m not sure all of this meets your criteria of making new friends and influencing people, so perhaps I should just let it drop.”
Ethan raises an eyebrow sceptically. I think we’ve either been friends for too long, or else his empathy is improving.
“Okay.” I sigh heavily and a little petulantly. “I’ll persist with it. Actually, I had some ideas for a shoe storage rack in the hallway and more efficient shelving in the kitchen. He might be interested in that, as I’ve never seen so many ill-assorted utensils scattered all over the counter. And I did think a formal message board for him would be an excellent idea.”
“He? Him?” Ethan’s eyelids flicker and his mouth tightens, as if he’s trying hard to keep his expression neutral. Maybe my empathy is improving too.
“I saw his flat, remember? I saw the post. And—” I’m racked with another shudder. “—I saw the piles of unfolded laundry. It’s a male tenant. Please don’t ask me to elaborate.”
“Underwear?” Ethan is relentless. “I believe you can tell a lot by a person’s—”
I glare at him and he bites back the rest of the sentence. “I can assure you, I didn’t stay any longer than necessary. I was going to play some of the CDs that had been left out of their cases, just to check whether they were still serviceable, but I couldn’t get the equipment to work.”
Ethan frowns. “It was broken?”
“No, no.” I’m impatient with him now, and although I like his company, I’m hoping he’ll go soon. There’s something disturbing my thoughts, and I need to wipe the whole flat-sitting episode from my mind. I need to settle back in my own place, on my own, with my things around me. I need… peace. “The place was the most appalling jumble, Ethan. I just couldn’t find the remote control. Then when I was about to lock up and leave, I found it under the—”
Now it’s my turn to bite off my unfortunate words, but it’s too late. Ethan’s all but pounced on me.
“Where, Martin? Where did you find it?”
“Under the laundry,” The flush is all over my neck now. “If you must know, it was under a pile of boxer shorts illustrated with a character called Super Mario.”

Author Bio

Clare took the pen name London from the city where she lives, loves, and writes. A lone, brave female in a frenetic, testosterone-fuelled family home, she juggles her writing with the weekly wash, waiting for the far distant day when she can afford to give up her day job as an accountant. She’s written in many genres and across many settings, with novels and short stories published both online and in print. She says she likes variety in her writing while friends say she’s just fickle, but as long as both theories spawn good fiction, she’s happy. Most of her work features male/male romance and drama with a healthy serving of physical passion, as she enjoys both reading and writing about strong, sympathetic and sexy characters.
Clare currently has several novels sulking at that tricky chapter 3 stage and plenty of other projects in mind . . . she just has to find out where she left them in that frenetic, testosterone-fuelled family home.
All the details and free fiction are available at her website. Visit her today and say hello!

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