Audiobook Review: Setting the Hook (Love's Charter #1) by Andrew Grey

It could be the catch of a lifetime.

William Westmoreland escapes his unfulfilling Rhode Island existence by traveling to Florida twice a year and chartering Mike Jansen's fishing boat to take him out on the Gulf. The crystal-blue water and tropical scenery isn't the only view William enjoys, but he's never made his move. A vacation romance just isn't on his horizon.

Mike started his Apalachicola charter fishing service as a way to care for his daughter and mother, putting their safety and security ahead of the needs of his own heart. Denying his attraction becomes harder with each of William's visits.

William and Mike's latest fishing excursion starts with a beautiful day, but a hurricane's erratic course changes everything, stranding William. As the wind and rain rage outside, the passion the two men have been trying to resist for years crashes over them. In the storm's wake, it leaves both men yearning to prolong what they have found. But real life pulls William back to his obligations. Can they find a way to reduce the distance between them and discover a place where their souls can meet? The journey will require rough sailing, but the bright future at the end might be worth the choppy seas.

Listening Time: 6 hrs 22 minutes
Narrator: Greg Tremblay

Reviewer: R *A Reader Obsessed*

Standard Grey fare, which is not a bad thing at all. Some authors you know what to expect, and I expect this from Grey and was not disappointed.

Mike’s life is basically all work and no play. It’s not all doom and gloom though. He has a wonderful mom who helps him take care of his lovely daughter, and he works hard at making a good living charting fishing expeditions for vacationers who come to his small Florida town. Is he a bit lonely?? Sure. However, he’s literally not gonna rock the boat and risk his livelihood by proclaiming his sexuality, especially since there isn’t anyone special in his life. Mike simply contents himself with the little thrill he gets when rich and charismatic William books his boat twice a year for a day out on the water.

William is also stuck in his life. Basically groomed to run the family business from a young age, he’s inundated with unrelenting obligations and finds very little joy in what he does. His only escape is when he’s out on the water, feeling the sun, fishing for great catches, and secretly admiring his favorite captain while enjoying his company. William knows he’s probably barking up the wrong tree, but he can daydream,right?

Fate intervenes and moors William in the small fishing town, forcing him to stay with Mike for a few days. This, of course, allows truths to be revealed and for these two to collide in all the ways. Their brief time together is like a dream, but one has to wake up unfortunately.

How do these two men go on without the other, stuck in life’s circumstance but unable to forget the passion they shared? Can they reconcile their feelings and their lives to be together?

There's a lot of inner contemplation here on both Mike and William’s parts. They both have to make some tough decisions, each afraid to take that first step towards possible happiness, aware of what’s at stake.

Overall, this was a realistic romance - realistic in the progression and the challenges and obstacles both these men face. It was very nice to watch them realize what they wanted and to go after it despite their fears and reservations. Having Tremblay narrate this only enhanced the experience, which absolutely comes as no surprise. Again, this was good standard Grey fare, and I look forward to the sequel featuring an interesting character that charters Mike’s boat skills on the regular!

Thank you to the author/publisher for the audio in exchange for an honest review.

Review: Volatile (Treacherous Chemistry #1) by Avylinn Winter

Like a depressed moth drawn to a wild flame, Chris hoped that flame would brighten his life, not burn him alive.

Chris Sinclair fades into a gray world after losing his mother to cancer. When forced to attend a concert as a last attempt to coax him out of his shell, he discovers that life might not be as bleak as he first thought.

Dante Heron holds the audience between the tips of his fingers and the delicate bow, playing the violin as if every heart is his to command. However, something darker brews behind the façade, and Chris is determined to solve the enigma.

When Chris is offered the job of traveling around Europe with the famous violinist, he surprises himself by accepting. With no idea what awaits him, he's thrown into a world where emotions rule and rules are bent.

They're a perfectly dysfunctional match, but then there's always calm at the heart of the storm.

I love characters that are dysfunctional and hurting or flawed in some way. I love healing stories (not ones about the magic power of a healing penis though, they get on my wick). As I read the blurb I was super excited because this book sounded exactly like my cup of tea. And you know how seriously us Brits take our tea...

I was, unfortunately, disappointed by this book though. However much I wanted it to, it didn't work for me. 

I think my main problem is that the author did too much telling for my liking. I didn't feel what the characters felt, not from their perspective, I was just told it. The telling was good, the author isn't a bad writer but there was just too much of it. Telling is needed but too much keeps from an emotional attachment and a book like this needs emotional attachment. The style of the writing meant I didn't get to know or grow attached to the characters. Without that I had no anchor to the story. I wanted to like them, I really did - Dante especially had so much potential for me, but at the end of the day I just didn't care enough. 

So, for me, this book didn't work, which is sad but that's how reading is. Definitely check out other reviews to get a wider spectrum of opinions.

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

Giveaway + Blog Tour: Barrel Proof (Agents Irish and Whiskey, #3) by Layla Reyne

Layla Reyne is here today to promote the conclusion to her wildly popular Agents Irish and Whiskey series, Barrel Proof. See our 5 Heart review HERE!

She's offering up a Crazy Good giveaway too! Be sure to enter below. Good luck!

Barrel Proof by Layla Reyne

Series: Agents Irish and Whiskey #3

Publisher: Carina Press (HQN)

Release Date (Print & Ebook): August 7, 2017 (Ebook and Audiobook)
(Audiobooks of Single Malt (AIW1) and Cask Strength (AIW2) also releasing August 7, 2017)

Length (Print & Ebook): 189 Pages (Ebook); 6hr, 30mins (Audio)

Subgenre: M/M Romantic Suspense

This book features: Book 3/Trilogy Conclusion. Angst, Action, Romance, HEA

All buy links or pre-order links:

Book Blurb:

FBI agents Aidan "Irish" Talley and Jameson "Whiskey" Walker can't get a moment's peace. Their hunt for the terrorist Renaud seems to be nearing an end, until a fire allows him to slip through their fingers—and puts Jamie's life in danger. When Jamie is nearly killed, Aidan learns how many forms loss can take.

Aidan says I love you just moments before learning that Jamie's been keeping a devastating secret about Aidan's late husband. How quickly trust and love can go up in flames. When Aidan requests a solo undercover assignment, Jamie hopes Aidan will find a way to forgive him.

But the explosions are far from over. Aidan's cover lands him in the heart of the terrorist's conspiracy, and Jamie will have to put his life, his career and his freedom on the line to save the man who has become his entire world. Partners, always is a promise he intends to keep.

A heart-pounding, romantic conclusion to the Agents Irish and Whiskey series.”

Quotes about the book (or others in the series):

From Single Malt:

"Sexy, smart and suspenseful - this book has it all." --HelenKay Dimon, author of Mr. & Mr. Smith

"With sharp writing, compelling characters, and an engaging plot, Single Malt is the M/M romantic suspense series I've been waiting for." - Santino Hassell, award-winning author of the FIVE BOROUGHS series

"Single Malt is full of explosive chemistry, captivating characters, and edge-of-your-seat suspense. A must read for any romantic suspense fan!" -- Megan Erickson, USA Today Bestselling author

Early reviews about Barrel Proof:

RT Magazine - 4.5 Stars, Top Pick:

Barrel Proof is the third and final book in the Agents Irish and Whiskey series. After two books that follow the formation of a heated M/M romantic relationship, Barrel Proof starts off with a climax as secrets are revealed and the romance is tested. … Fans of the series will be equally challenged and delighted by the twists and turns Reyne takes. The book flows into a more action-oriented focus as the plot progresses, but Reyne ends the romance with just the right amount of heft to keep any reader of romantic suspense and M/M romance delighted.

Night Owl Reviews - 4.5 Stars, Top Pick:

Layla Reyne finishes her trilogy with an absolute bang! As sorry as I am to say goodbye to this fabulous pair I couldn't have enjoyed their ending more.

The Romance Reviews - 5 Stars, Top Pick:

BARREL PROOF is the emotional, high impact, AMAZING finale to the Agents Irish and Whiskey series.

Heart-breaking and heart-fulfilling, this book is the perfect finale to the series, and Layla Reyne now has a brand new reader completely addicted to her work. Without a doubt, absolutely recommended by me.

Excerpt (a sexy tease):

Aidan put one knee to the bed, swung the other over Jamie’s lap, and cupped his cheeks in his hands, drawing him in. It wasn’t the lip smashing, teeth clashing kiss Jamie was used to from Aidan. It was slow, devouring, and tinged with the unmistakable taste of goodbye.
Afraid ratcheted up to terrified.
“Baby,” he murmured against Aidan’s lips, the one word trembling.
“Shh, Whiskey.” Aidan pulled back enough to yank off his shirt, then started back in for another kiss. Jamie stopped him, holding his face slightly away and forcing his gaze.
Goodbye was in his eyes too.
Jamie shot past terrified to devastated. “No,” he breathed, barely a whisper.
Aidan shook off the hold and drove a hand into his hair, pulling Jamie in for another melancholy-laced kiss. So little light, so much darkness, and as Jamie ran his tongue along Aidan’s, the tang of tequila and whiskey.
Slow, like the kiss, Aidan’s hands began to rove, as if he were memorizing the texture of his hair, the scruff covering his jaw, the breadth and width of his shoulders. A cool palm flattened over his tattoo, over his heart. The touch was gentle, not the usual digging pressure of Aidan’s fingers.
Bidding farewell.
A whimper escaped Jamie’s lips. His heart was at war with itself. He needed to retreat, to beg and plead with Aidan to stay and give him another chance, but if his partner’s mind was made up, there’d be no changing it now. And if he tried, if he argued, he might not get this last kiss, this last chance to make love to the man who would forever carry his heart, wherever his life went.
Without him.
Conceding the inevitable and accepting the disaster of his own creation, Jamie admitted defeat and surrendered.

Author Bio:

Author Layla Reyne was raised in North Carolina and now calls San Francisco home. She enjoys weaving her bi-coastal experiences into her stories, along with adrenaline-fueled suspense and heart pounding romance. When she's not writing stories to excite her readers, she downloads too many books, watches too much television, and cooks too much food with her scientist husband, much to the delight of their smushed-face, leftover-loving dogs.

Author Tagline:

Adrenaline-Fueled Romance

Author links:

Prizes: (2) HUGE Agents Irish & Whiskey Gift Packs including: 1 Kindle Fire Tablet, 1 Agents Irish & Whiskey mug, and surprise swag! (Ships to US/Canada only; international winners will receive Amazon Gift Card: $35)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Review: Frozen Heart (Love Lessons #1.5) by Heidi Cullinan

Proposals don’t come with instructions.

Walter Lucas knows his boyfriend has been looking forward to the newest movie about a certain snow princess, but he isn’t prepared for the reality that is the front-row seat of Kelly Davidson’s cartoon obsession. There’s more going on in November than just the movie, however—Walter’s been working up the nerve to ask Kelly a certain question. When Walter set up his elaborate Thanksgiving marriage proposal, it seemed like such a good idea, but as the holiday, the movie premiere, and the question Walter never dreamt he’d be asking anyone converge…let’s just say even Hollywood’s best couldn’t sing and dance their way out of Walter’s tangle.

This is the cutest follow up to Love Lessons, where we get to see Kelly and Walter living together and Walter proposing to Kelly.

Kelly is super cute, but it's scary how much he reminds me of my 5 year old daughters, I mean I really really don’t want to think about it.

Disney sex is probably the kinkiest thing I have ever read!

And I will never look at Tangled the same ever again!

Review: The Long and Winding Road (Bear, Otter and the Kid #4) by T.J. Klune

Family is not always defined by blood. It’s defined by those who make us whole—those who make us who we are.

And here, at the end, Bear and Otter will be tested like they’ve never been before.

There’s a knock at the door from a little girl who has nowhere else to go.

There’s a phone ringing, bringing news they do not expect.

There’s a brother returning home after learning how to stand on his own.

As these moments converge, all of their lives will change forever.

Beginning in Bear, Otter, and the Kid, and continuing in Who We Are and The Art of Breathing, TJ Klune has told a saga of family and brotherhood, of love and sacrifice. In this final chapter, the events of the past pave the long and winding road toward a future no one could have imagined.

Just remember, though: it’s not about the destination. It’s about the long and winding road that took us there.

And I will remember that road always.

I am going to go completely out of character here and keep this review short. Why? I don’t think you need me to ramble on about how much this series has meant to me or how much I love Otter first and everyone else after him. I adore the hell out of these strangers from Seafare who crept in so quietly with their laughter and love that will remain etched like an epitaph on my hopeless romantic heart forever.

This book was laid out wonderfully to give the reader closure featuring Past, Present and Future. We get the past, which we know but we get new insights into it all like what went on with Ty and his addiction and how Bear and Otter dealt with the turmoil of making sure the Kid came back whole. We saw them deal with Dom during that time and everything else we missed while Ty told us his story.

We got a lot of Bear and Ty through the series, which totally makes sense but honestly, I wanted more of Otter than the short bits we got at the end of books one and two with his perspective through epilogues. Otter has always been it for me followed by Dom because, he’s totally Otter lite and then Bear and Ty. I can’t explain it but Otter is amazing to me as he is to everyone who loves him and I love that we got Otter focused AF in this book because if anyone deserves more on page time, it’s Otter.

The present part of this book was stunning. We know about the knock at the door of the Green Monstrosity at the end of The Art of Breathing and that Izzie shows up. We know who Bear and Otter are and what they do for people in need but this not only focused on what they do for others but on what they do for themselves and that is starting a family of their own. Now, yeah they have a family with Anna, Creed, Ty, Dom and the rest of the family they have made but Otter and Bear decide to have babies and it’s the most wonderful thing in the world.

Goodness. I promised I would keep this short and I will.

The past will haunt you, the present will tear you up and make you tear up but it’s always followed by the laughs and laughter through tears is always my favorite emotion. The future will give you hope and make you want oh so much more from the series but I will say that this book, it’s enough and it’s so much more than I ever thought we’d get.

Bear, Otter and the Kid holds such a special place in my heart. Hell, it even got me to write a poem ala the Kid for book two as a review, but it’s one of those series, one of those stories with such memorable characters that remain in your heart forever because you can’t let them go. From epic poems, letters of goodbye, shitty things happening to good people, angst beyond the angst should happen to a redheaded reader, awkward long hugs, some of the best speeches ever, revenge seeking seagulls and a love or two that makes your heart long for more, this will be one of my favorite series…ever.

Though, The Long and Winding Road, was classic Death by Klune for me, every tear was worth it and I humbly thank the author for giving us this gift.

Blog Tour: The Charlatan's Conquest (Phantom Fixers #1) by Vivien Dean

Vivien Dean is making her clubhouse debut today! Welcome! She's here today to promote her new Dreamspun Beyond book, The Charlatan's Conquest and she's talking ghosts!

Thank you to Boy Meets Boy for hosting me today! My name is Vivien Dean, and I’m thrilled to be a part of the Dreamspun Beyond line. I’m especially excited to talk about my book, The Charlatan’s Conquest, and why it absolutely had to be about ghosts.

One of my favorite parts about paranormal stories is the chance to use monsters as a metaphor for more abstract ideas. Mary Shelley did it in Frankenstein. Joss Whedon did it with Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Stephen King does it in almost everything he writes. These characters resonate for people because, on some level, we recognize what they represent. We might even identify with it. But putting them in monster form makes them easier for us to confront. The real world can be scary enough.

I knew from the start that my heroes would be scientists. I wanted to write a love story that featured characters similar to those I see every day, men who sometimes get ignored in romance because they game a lot, or work a lot, or are more comfortable with a computer than they are with people. Brody was the first to come to life for me. He was intense and driven by some cause I had yet to figure out, but the second I realized that he also felt incredibly isolated and lonely, everything clicked. A part of him, deep inside, wanted to be invisible. He felt cut off from his father after his mother died and unable to be himself in the affluent, conservative community in which he grew up. In his mind, the best way not to be judged – and be found lacking – was not to be seen in the first place. What better paranormal entity to embody that than ghosts?

In the world of The Charlatan’s Conquest, ghosts roam our plane of existence because they refuse to move onto the next. Most people can’t see them, let alone interact enough to banish them. Only a select few have that particular ability, so when Brody’s father is convinced his house is haunted, he hires someone to get rid of his unwanted guests. For a skeptic like Brody, the whole notion of ghost hunting is ridiculous, and he crashes the initial meeting in an attempt to keep his father from getting scammed. In spite of what he witnesses, he still doesn’t want to accept the truth. That’s another way he’s just like the ghosts.

Lucky for Brody, he has Cruz Guthrie to set him straight. Cruz is a software engineer, not a ghost hunter, but he took the job offered to his best friend because the money was too good to pass up. From the start, he sees Brody for who he is. The trick is, though, convincing Brody to trust him enough to believe in it, too.

Sometimes, in some genres, monsters win. That’s life. This, however, is romance. Love always wins. Even when ghosts fight back.


With love and ghosts, the challenge is figuring out what’s real.

Software engineer Cruz Guthrie needs money for his sister’s cancer treatments. He needs it so badly he’s willing to stand in for a ghost hunter friend and investigate a millionaire’s supposed specters. It should be an easy gig—after all, nobody thinks the haunting is real.

Neurological researcher Brody Weber is furious that Cruz would take advantage of Brody’s father. But his mind changes when spirits manifest—and he realizes Cruz genuinely wants to help. When they learn the paranormal activity centers on Brody, Cruz is willing to fight to free Brody from the entities determined to make his life miserable. With a little help from friends and family—both living and dead—they must figure out why Brody is attracting spirits and how to banish them. Only then can they pursue a future together.


Dreamspinner Press paperback (buy the paperback and get the ebook for FREE!)


VIVIEN DEAN is a firm believer that love doesn’t care about gender. That’s why her titles encompass both GLBT and het, erotic and sweet, as well as a wide variety of genres. After growing up in the snowy and isolated Midwest, she went off in search of her creative muse. She performed on stage, wrote and directed indie films in Orlando, then met her British soulmate online. One wedding, two children, and ten addresses later, she resides in the Bay Area where it’s easy to indulge in her favorite pastimes—good theater, great movies, and amazing food.

Vivien is a four-time EPIC eBook Award winner and collaborated with Pepper Espinoza to write as Jamie Craig for five years.


Twitter: @VivienDean

Review: Fishy Riot by Lindsey Black

Most people think riot squad officer Taylor Jameson is an asshole. Little do they know his apparent indifference stems from having a meddlesome family always butting into his business. And little does Taylor know he’s about to stumble into a situation that’ll make indifference impossible.

When everything goes horribly wrong at a political rally on a harbour ferry, Taylor encounters Sietta Salisbury. The son of a wealthy politician, Sietta is a revered—but presumed dead—musician, and an enigma who is so strange, Taylor is compelled to look into his background. What he discovers draws him into a bizarre mess of prisoners, politics, and attempted murder that makes him realise what he’s been missing.

Falling in love isn’t hard. Trying to convince someone else you’re worth loving despite your crazy family and the people trying to kill you? That’s a whole other can of worms.

This book! This book was so much more than I could have hoped for. I mean, I wanted to read it based on the opening line of the blurb, “Most people think riot squad officer Taylor Jameson is an asshole” because I have a thing for redeemable assholes but Taylor isn’t one at all. Nope. Not. At. All.

There are books that go beyond the blurb and this goes way freaking beyond it. While you do get Taylor’s meddlesome family and Sietta being a mystery, there are many more layers to the story I wasn’t expecting and while they blurb isn’t exactly misleading, it doesn’t do the book justice to me. AT. ALL.

Set in Australia, we meet Taylor Jameson and his identical twin Clay as they are on assignment as Riot Squad officers that give you a hint of the shenanigans and slightly over the top things that are going to appear in the story. We first get the almighty rocket launcher that no one can quite get over being real but we also immediately get the Jamseon family who are all up in their brothers business like you wouldn’t believe. Trust me when I say the rocket launcher is important because of how many times it’s brought up and while the Jameson family loves to check in on one another, it’s all done with love.

So, considering Taylor and Clay have a ton of paperwork to complete after the rocket launcher deal, they are tasked with babysitting a bunch of young adults on a large ferry for a local politician’s, Minister Salisbury, fundraiser for his environmental foundation. What could possibly happen with a bunch of rich entitled kids on an almost cruise liner? Don’t ask because you wouldn’t believe it but while what happens on the ferry is truly important to the story, what’s more important is who Taylor meets when he takes a walk to make sure everything is safe and sound.

The meeting of Taylor with the unknown but obvious son of Minister Salisbury with the telltale gorgeous looks was so good. Meet cutes are always my favorite but Taylor’s reaction to Sietta was adorable and sexy. Yeah, there is some serious insta everything in this book but I didn’t mind it at all because it worked. It worked and I wanted it to happen so it’s a win/win right? Right.

But nothing can be taken at surface value in this book because while we learn right along with Taylor about Sietta being the unseen child of Minister Salisbury, his younger brother Micah takes to task the delivery of a USB to Taylor for an education.

Taylor is attracted to Sietta and wants to get to know him better but a phone call leads to a brush off of “never” that leads Taylor to question the truth about Sietta, because the never felt fishy. When Micah shows up at his doorstep with Taylor’s younger sister asking him to buy a phone for Sietta and then asks about Taylor watching the USB… Taylor indeed gets an education as well as the members of the riot squad and a rescue is put into action.

What was on that USB was difficult to read and I felt for everyone involved in it but it explains so much about both Sietta and Micah. You see, Minister Salisbury doesn’t like the fact that he has a gay son so he goes to disgusting depths to keep him hidden. Sietta does all that he can, and endures more than anyone ever should to keep Micah safe from their father but what’s on the USB is their key to freedom. It’s a freedom that isn’t easy to attain nor to keep when the wrong people are tangled with the corrupt Salisbury family and decide Sietta is a tool to be used. A tool or a means to end all that are involved including Taylor.

Goodness. Despite the darkness that Sieta has to deal with, he is an amazing character. I’ve read plenty of books that either over victimize the victim or make them so strong it’s unbelievable but with Sietta, you feel his strength and his stubbornness to make sure those who have hurt him or could hurt his brother are dealt with properly. Sure, there could have been other outcomes with how he dealt with his father but Sietta is uber smart and knows what he is doing. But while he is strong, he’s not without scars and ghosts that threaten his want of normalcy and it’s such a good thing that he has a big strong riot squad officer who thinks he hangs the moon and wants nothing but to protect Sietta. Sietta’s trust in Taylor was beautiful and just…

Le sigh.

Taylor Jameson is not an asshole, far from it.  He’s a guy who takes his job seriously and takes his family seriously and no one is more important than family. Super close to his twin brother Clay, Taylor is satisfied with cohabitating with his twin when Clay isn’t with his super smart scientist/professor/foster parent to at risk LGBTQ youths Joel, doing his job – while hating the paperwork – and surviving Saturday barbeques with his family. But Sietta, he gets under Taylor’s skin in the best way and watching Taylor fall hard and fast for Sietta was a pure joy.

This book though, it’s funny to the point of highlighting the hell out of all the moments that made me belly laugh. It’s swoon worthy romantic with the hurt/comfort between Sietta and Taylor. It’s a bit over the top but it balances out the darkness that keeps creeping into the story and it’s written so wonderfully that you truly get sucked in and don’t want to stop reading.

Now, I have to mention the Jameson family because they are a HUGE part of this book. The family is amazing to me and I love how they show support and affection to one another. All the Jameson’s are in some sort of public service and they take their jobs seriously. Service and family should be the Jameson’s motto because those are top of the list important for them but so is love, so is acceptance and so is calling one another out on their shit unless it’s mom or dad then tread carefully. BUT them being all up in one another’s business is what makes them incredible. They love, they care and they want the best for one another so it makes sense they would be meddlesome as they are. Only the strong can survive being brought into the fold of the infamous Saturday barbeques with the family and I love that all partners are included but cracked up at the mention of Hayley’s husband.

Okay. I have to make a note here about Clay and Joel because I love the hell out of them. I really would love their story even if we have to go backward four years because their romance needs to be told. Clay is such a good person – he is a Jameson after all – a dedicated twin brother and so head over heels in love with Joel as Joel is with Clay. I adored every moment both men were on the page together and separate but when we get a bit of Joel’s backstory… I want more. More is never a bad thing to want, is it?

Fishy Riot was once again, more than I expected. I am one who loves crazy family dynamics, insta everything when that everything is a forever kind of thing and a beautifully respectful hurt/comfort romance. Taylor and Sietta met for a reason and that reason was to fall in love and to be with that one person who truly sees beyond the surface.

Lord, but this was good and I just have one last thing to say…

“I fucking love Saturday barbeques!”

A review copy was provided.

Review: Caring for Riggs (Love off Leash #1) by Bonnie Dee

Love dogs and smoking hot men? The Love Off Leash series is for you. Different authors. Unrelated stories. Shared theme of new love and pets.

Love, loss and finding a forever home.

After years abroad, Kyle Skelton returns to New York to plan his grandfather’s funeral. Weighed down by guilt about neglecting the prickly old man who once looked after him, Kyle is determined to find a good home for Gramps’s senior dog. The last thing he needs as he confronts his complicated past is the distraction of the handsome next door neighbor who’s been taking care of Riggs.

Darrell Baines is prepared to despise his neighbor’s grandson on sight. He believes this stranger is only interested in valuable things Vince may have left behind. But after witnessing the renewed bond between Kyle and Riggs and learning more about the unhappy teenager who fled New York years earlier, Darrell’s hard stance softens. It’s easier to forgive when Kyle is heaping blame on himself.

Darrell is almost too comfortable in his quiet routine, while Kyle has never found a place that felt like home. As these opposites walk their dogs together, unexpected friendship grows. A late night adventure adds passionate fuel to the fire, but Kyle is only passing through so a chance for anything more than a fling seems impossible.

When Kyle’s never-met father arrives for the funeral and Rigg’s health takes a turn for the worse, Kyle’s emotional turmoil reaches critical mass. Will his fragile new bond with Darrell be the powerful lifeline he has always needed?

I do love a love story where the catalyst for the MC’s is the love of pets, it adds a purity to the tale before I even read a word. I was expecting a sweet, somewhat lighthearted, opposites-attract kind of thing. It was that, but it also was so much more. There were some very touching moments and bittersweetness that made the story read so real and took it from escapist fluff to a story that gave me sincere feels and an honest interest in the future of the MC’s and their furry loved ones.

Kyle has always been a rolling stone and when he comes “home” after his Grandpa’s passing to deal with the mechanics of death of a loved one he dealt with all the inevitable feelings of guilt, loss, etc. He had regrets for not coming home sooner, not being more available which were completely legit and normal feelings. Kyle has never really had roots because his parents weren’t the kind that provided that, but his grandfather took him in and loved him and provided for him the best he could.

When Kyle gets the chance to take off and see the world, there’s no reason he shouldn’t and his grandfather never seemed to begrudge him the opportunity he took advantage of. Grandpa is gone before we begin but the author did a great job of making him a presence throughout the story. Riggs is Kyle’s gramps elderly pup and Kyle loves him dearly as he’s known Riggs most of his life. Gramps neighbor Darrell has been watching over Riggs and in the beginning he doesn’t have the best of opinions of Kyle. Darrell has been feeling pretty protective of Grandpa (Vince) and Riggs and only sees Kyle as the flighty, wayward grandson.

While Kyle is a man without roots, Darrell is a man with very deep ones. They were opposites in many ways but in a complementary way that becomes more apparent as they get to know one another. I love reading books where the relationship evolves that way. Caring for Riggs is a quiet book in that it focuses on the growth of the characters feelings within themselves and for each other rather than any overt actions that move the story along.

The sweetness between these guys grows slowly making it easy to believe especially with everything that Kyle is going through. Darrell is a natural caretaker and Kyle really needs that is his life right now. They may not have come together during the happiest of times, but it was very opportune anyway. Given the solemnity of the reason the two met, the book is pretty angst free in the romance department and man is it refreshing to read about two grown ass men acting like grown ass men. They communicated and took care of business. All of the answers didn’t come easy but there was no manufactured drama to take away from the organic relationship that was building.

There were a lot of great “moments” in Caring for Riggs and I can’t recommend it enough for a sincere feel good read. You’ll get the lovely fluff you need with an added dose of authenticity that makes it all the better.

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

Blog Tour + Giveaway: Chasing Ghosts by M.K. Hardy

Author duo M.K. Hardy visits, along with IndiGo Marketing, on the Chasing Ghosts blog tour. Check out more info on the hurt/comfort romance! There's an excerpt, author interview and a NineStar Press eBook giveaway!


Title:  Chasing Ghosts
Author: M.K. Hardy
Publisher:  NineStar Press
Release Date: 8/7/17
Heat Level: 3 - Some Sex
Pairing: Female/Female
Length: 77600
Genre: Contemporary, contemporary, romance, addiction, drug/alcohol use, performance arts/visual, writer

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Nic is a successful ghost writer, making a decent living churning out best-selling autobiographies of celebrities and other notable figures. She’s also a recovering alcoholic—three years sober and still tempted, every day, to open the bottle again.

Luckily she has distractions—this time in the form of Isobel DeWitt, an award-winning and well-loved actor in her prime, who has decided to release a tell-all autobiography. Nic finds her likeable, charming and fascinating…but also impossible to crack. Every draft sounds like just another magazine piece full of perfectly crafted sound bytes, but there’s no soul.

Undeterred, Nic continues to dig into the actor’s history in search of the clue that will unlock it all and finds it in the form of one Melody Graham, a reclusive playwright and, if rumours are to be believed, Isobel’s erstwhile lover. Nic chances everything to reach out to her and unbelievably she responds, sharing stories about her time with the tempestuous actress and helping Nic get further and further into Isobel’s head. The problem now is figuring out where Isobel Dewitt starts and Nic ends…


Chasing Ghosts
M.K. Hardy © 2017
All Rights Reserved

Chapter One

“Hi, my name is Nicola, and I’m an alcoholic.”

Not much of a way to begin a story, is it? But as James, my agent, always says, “truth is what makes the story.” On the other hand, my sponsor Mary likes to tell me to “be honest with yourself
and screw the rest of them.” Either way, you can’t get any more truthful than that, can you?

“It’s been two years since my last drink.”

I was sitting in a dingy church hall on a flimsy folding chair, surrounded by people who looked as if they’ve been chewed up and spat out by Fate like disused pieces of chewing gum on the pavement. Some of them couldn’t even bring their eyes up to meet the gazes of their fellow addicts. Instead, they focused on the streaked wooden floor, following the whorls and gouges with their bloodshot eyes. I didn’t recognize all the faces; for every regular there was a newcomer, who more likely than not would come for one, maybe two weeks before disappearing off the map in a haze of empty vodka bottles, never to be seen again. Sometimes on my weaker days, it made me angry to see them, knowing by looking at them that they wouldn’t be back next week, and hating them for being weak enough to succumb. Just like I wanted to.

You’re supposed to share your story at these meetings, but that wasn’t really why we were here, was it? You don’t want to hear my story. Nobody does. There’s a reason my name never shows up on the front jacket—why if you read between the lines of each tell-all memoir you won’t find me mentioned there. It’s because I’m very good at my job, you see. I can draw out even the most reluctant person, put their words, their life down on paper so that the masses can’t help but want to read it, and the supposed author can’t help but rake in the cash. So I hope you don’t mind if I just give you the bare highlights of my own life—my name might be all over this, but it still really isn’t my story.

The smattering of half-hearted applause at my testimony had stopped now, and I was talking again. I was sharing my experiences of the past week—the times I’d wanted to drink, the times I’d been glad of the clarity I now had… You don’t need the details.

The truth was I could do without the clarity. Clarity, if you ask me, is overrated. I wasn’t sober because it made me clear-headed or better able to deal with my day-to-day life—honestly, I was a high-functioning drunk. That’s the thing about a Calling—you don’t have to be sober to be able to do your job. I could write just as well—maybe better—when I was drunk. I met my deadlines, I made meetings when I had to, my cat never went hungry, and I was never the type to get into fights or wake up in a gutter because, like all good alcoholics, I drank alone, at home.

No, to be brutally honest, I got on the wagon because when I hit thirty I was starting to develop a slight gut, and that’s not attractive on anyone. And believe me, some days I wish I had just switched to gin and slimline, but here I am now and so here I stay. Never let it be said I don’t see a story through till the bitter end.

After the meeting finished, the group disbanded, drifting away from each other like autumn leaves pushed by a capricious breeze. There was a table set up with orange juice, tea, and biscuits; some of the newcomers lingered there, hoping to meet kindred spirits who would reassure them that everything’s okay and it’ll just get easier with time. The regulars knew better.

Me, I picked up my sleek black laptop bag and hoisted it over my shoulder, exchanging curt nods with a few people before heading for the door. I wasn’t in full Bitch Mode, which on a normal day meant I might stop and exchange pleasantries, but I’d got a meeting to get to across town and not a lot of time. Chances were I’d probably be late. Why didn’t I just skip the meeting, go to a later one, you ask. To which I reply: you’ve never been an addict, have you?

I grabbed a taxi as soon as I could, promising the driver a generous tip if he could get me to my destination by four o’clock. That’s the other thing about having a Calling—you can make plenty of money doing it. I have even more now that it doesn’t all go on booze and mixers, but it mainly just sits in my bank account or occasionally serves to entice cab drivers to get me where I’m going on time.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that what I do is necessarily what I saw myself doing when I majored in Creative Writing at college (you don’t really care where, do you?). My starry-eyed teenaged self thought I was going to be the next Kerouac, or the next Tartt, or at worst the next Stephen King. I think my younger self would probably want to knife me in my sleep if she saw me trampling all over her dreams of renown and accolade, making a tidy little profit without my name ever appearing on a single dust jacket.

It’s still writing, though. It scratches that eternal itch. And I’ll tell you what, it’s satisfying, in its own way—getting into someone’s head, finding their voice, putting their life into their own words when they can’t make that transfer from mind to page for themselves. I’m like a conduit—weirdly, I feel connected to them. It’s an addictive sensation in its own right, and I am, after all, an addict.

Some people go from vice to vice, trying to find something that fills in that emptiness. I knew a guy in the early nineties who, after nearly killing himself on a five-year bender, sobered up almost overnight only to begin falling into bed with a different person each evening. What alcohol couldn’t accomplish, AIDS did. When you look at it like that, my way doesn’t seem so bad, does it?

We got to the hotel at five past four—even though we were technically late, I still gave the driver his promised tip. It wasn’t as if he had any control over London traffic, after all. I slid out of the cab, barely looking around to check my surroundings before heading inside. I have a lot of meetings at hotels, so I’m well acquainted with them—the plush beige carpets, the myriad mirrors, the waxy, sunlight-starved pot plants. These initial meetings are always in the bar, so perhaps it’s unsurprising that I ended up the way I did. Liquor is a natural lubricant; it gets peoples’ tongues wagging. Even now, hours before dinner time, the bar was half full, cluttered with businessmen soothing their jetlag with a pint of ale, nervous tourists tittering over a glass of merlot.

I caught sight of myself in the mirror behind the bar. It’s a rule, in writing—you have to tell the reader who they’re looking at. Never mind the picture on the cover, they want to be reminded of the sparkling blue eyes, the crisp white smile, the smooth, even tan. And you won’t be seeing my picture, so I suppose I ought to lubricate my own descriptive skills with a bit of introspection. Not that I’m going to tell you what you want to hear.

See, unsurprisingly I guess, I’m about as ordinary-looking as it gets. I’m about average height, maybe a little over but not enough to be tall. I’m average weight—maybe a bit extra on the hips and thighs from time to time; it comes and goes. My eyes and hair are a mid-brown that’s neither particularly drab nor particularly inspiring—my hair pretty much lives in a perpetually slightly dishevelled ponytail. I’m the kind of pale that you only get by staying indoors most of the time, summer or winter, and only holidaying to northern European cities that don’t require you to wear sunscreen or mosquito repellent. My wardrobe is mostly brown, black, and navy. I don’t wear rings and my ears aren’t pierced. I’m basically the definition of a cipher.

I didn’t start out that way—I am told by reliable though biased sources that I was a very pretty little girl. And I went through all the normal teenage rebellion phases—heavy eyeliner, dyed hair, outrageous clothes (though who could live through the eighties and not claim fashion victimhood?). But somehow, I ended up like this: a plain Jane, nondescript and unmemorable. Maybe it’s the exterior reflecting the interior, since my job is more or less all that defines me these days. Or maybe it’s just that spending so long in a drunken, intensely personal, and yet wholly impersonal haze erased all desire for self-expression. But if that’s the case, why am I writing this? I honestly don’t know. You tell me.

The woman I was there to meet wasn’t hard to find. Unlike me, she was well-known enough to create a bubble of impermeability around her, one which no tipsy tourist or errant waiter was likely to overstep. And even if they didn’t know who she was, she was striking in a way that caused people to stop and stare rather than come too close. And as used to celebrity as I am, I’ll admit I hesitated for a moment before breaching that no man’s land and approaching her table.

“Ms. Dewitt? Nicola Booth. Sorry I’m late.”

“Oh, are you?” she said politely, in that tone where it was obvious she’d noticed and was pretending not to—which I hate, by the way.

“Yep,” I said, tamping down the urge to roll my eyes as I took a seat opposite her at the table. Lord, save me from the well-meaning ones—give me a stone-cold bitch any day. They’re so much more fun. “Anyway, I’ve just got a few questions before we get started. I assume your agent told you what I’ll be doing?”

“Well, I know what a ghostwriter does, of course, but I’m sure you all have your own methods…”

“Sure.” I sat back in my chair, nodding a little. “A lot of writers like to pore through articles, past interviews, watch appearances on Jay Leno, that sort of thing. Really bumps up the research fee.”

She raised an eyebrow—just the one. You know how in books everyone can do that? I’ll tell you what, not everyone can do that. “And you?” she said in this arch tone and I’m not sure whether it’s getting my back up or turning me on a little.

Not wanting to give her the satisfaction of watching me jump through any of her little hoops, I turned a little, motioning for the single waiter who’s loitering by the bar. He hurried over, more for her sake than mine, I knew, and I ordered a mineral water with lemon before looking back to Ms. Isobel Dewitt with all her arched eyebrow and perfect lips.

“I like to talk.”

“To talk.”

“Mm. I mean, yes. To talk. You’re supposed to be telling your life story, right? So the best way to do that is to… talk about it. To me. I’ll record it, take notes, ask questions…and then I’ll whisk it all away and transform it into a bestselling account of your life.” Maybe it sounds conceited, but trust me, it’s true. I have never failed to turn out a book that exceeded the publisher’s expectations, and I’ve even helped a few minor celebrities to climb the social ladder to better recognition.

The great Isobel Dewitt pursed her perfect lips and tossed her perfect hair and relaxed back in her chair with a nod. “All right. So when do we start?”

Well. This is it, then. “We can start right now,” I told her, leaning over to pull my recorder out of my bag, then set it on the table between us. No time like the present. “Let’s talk about what you want out of this book.”

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Author Interview

If you could sequester yourself for a week somewhere and just focus on your writing, where would you go and what would the environment be like?

M: It would probably be the north east coast or Northwest Highlands of Scotland - Skye or Banffshire maybe - and I’m not just saying that, honest! I have a penchant for holidays - sorry, vacations - in old stone cottages with proper coal fires or wood burning stoves and big heavy tables to play boardgames at and a big clawfoot bath to climb into with a bottle of fizz - and a K, of course. I’d go in the autumn or winter, and pray for a few nice days to go on wanders, and a few howling storms to hide from inside.
K: I was originally going to say somewhere remote, like M (and that does sound like an amazing retreat), but I don’t think I’d actually get much writing done there! Instead I’d have to say a city in another country where I don’t speak the language, somewhere I could go immerse myself in people and culture and art and food without the distraction of English getting in the way so I could come back to my room and splurge up all my words on the page.

What's the one thing you can't live without?

K: The obvious (and true) answer: M!
M: Well, I obviously can’t answer this one now.
M: Cheese.
M: I know I should be vegan but plain ol’ red cheddar cheese.
M: I can’t help it. Sorry cows.

What internet site do you surf to the most?

M: Haha funny you should ask, it involves writing...  
K: Writers gonna write.
M: So the past couple of years we've been active on a website called Storium. I was pretty dismissive when it first Kickstartered because their copy sounded like they thought they'd invented text-based roleplaying (which as an LJer of old I knew to be very much not the case), but we gave it a go and it turned out to be something different again...
K: Storium is sort of amalgamation of tabletop roleplaying with collaborative writing; it has a very stripped back system where character attributes are represented by cards that are then played into 'challenges' set by the story narrator. There's a really good set of functionalities to encourage collaboration between writers and the card system means that you are constantly thinking about how your character is growing in response to the plot. Every genre of story you can think of is represented, and because it's not tied to time zones or meeting up live you get the chance to write with (and get to know) people from all over the world.
M: We should say at this point that we are not being paid to advertise Storium here...
K: Haha, sadly not!
M: Anyway, it's a great way to get yourself writing and I've learned a lot there about narrative structure and about what the 'key moments' are in a story, due to the mechanics systematising it to an extent. It's sort of like gamified writing theory. It's also fun!
K: Yeah, you should try it!

If you had your own talk show, who would your first three author guests be and why?

K: I’m just imagining what that talk show would look like. “And you get a book! And YOU get a book! And YOU!” Best talk show ever.
But for reals, okay. I’d definitely invite NK Jemesin on, because she has managed to write a unique, captivating series in The Broken Earth trilogy and I would love to pick her brain about worldbuilding and craft (and find out what happens in the last book!) After that I’d probably have to go with China Miéville because everything I have seen or read from him is stimulating, weird, and incredibly timely. And lastly I would dither between Ursula K Le Guin and Margaret Atwood, because I worship them both and think the world needs to hear as much as possible from them about what we’re doing to ourselves and our earth and how we can possibly make the future worth living in.  
M: I was totally thinking about Margaret Atwood! We just recently watched the TV adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale so she’s been on my mind - I even found a bag of her books in our crap-filled storage room last night. Also, she’s just a really articulate speaker and interesting person to listen to. My next thought was Jeanette Winterson, because she’s fascinating and one of my all-time favourite writers, but I wonder whether the studio would explode with her and Atwood in the same room together - they’re both such epic personalities! And then I feel like a cliché saying this but I have to pick Sarah Waters, because Fingersmith and The Night Watch are two of my favourite novels of all time.

When you got your very first manuscript acceptance letter, what was your initial reaction and who was the first person you told?

K: I’m pretty sure I saw the email first and woke M up by jumping on the bed excitedly because I’m a big dork. We’d had quite a few rejections by that point and I was fully prepared for another one so seeing an acceptance was a bit of a shock!
M: And I was like “Hey, that’s nice” ‘cause I’m too cool for school. I’ve actually quite enjoyed some of our rejection letters - there’s been a bunch of really good constructive crit and suggestions for changes and resubmissions. Just producing work worthy of constructive criticism is quite flattering honestly, so being published is the cherry on top or something.
K: I love cherries. Especially maraschino ones. Especially on sundaes.
M: You’re disgusting.


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Meet the Author

MK Hardy is the pen name for two geeky women living and writing together in Scotland. They’ve been writing partners for eleven years and life partners for nine. When they’re not typing frantically at one another they like to walk the dogs, cuddle the cats, drink cocktails and play boardgames.

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Tour Schedule

8/7      Divine Magazine        
8/7      Love Bytes reviews    
8/8      My Fiction Nook        
8/9      MillsyLovesBooks      
8/9      A Book Lover's Dream Book Blog      
8/10    The Novel Approach  
8/10    Boy Meets Boy Reviews        
8/11    Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words           


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