Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Wrapped Together by Annabeth Albert

Title: Wrapped Together
Author: Annabeth Albert
My Rating: A+

Genre: Holiday Romance (m/m)
Series: Portland Heat #5
Main Characters: Hollis and  Sawyer
Release Date: December 2016
Publisher:  Lyrical Shine
Links to Purchase:
Sexual Intensity: hot

Story Overview:
In the bustling restaurants, shops, and caf├ęs of Portland, Oregon, things really heat up for the hard-working men behind the scenes when the holidays come into town . . .

For a stationery store owner, the holidays are great for business. But for Hollis Alcott, Christmas reminds him of the tragic events of three years past, and the last thing he wants to do is take part in Portland’s over-abundance of festive cheer. But Sawyer Murphy, a hunky gift shop owner whose brother is married to Hollis’s sister, has made it his mission to pluck Hollis out of his holiday blues. And his plan is beginning to work. Wrapped in the warm glow of newfound passion, the former business rivals hit up Portland’s finest holiday traditions—and Hollis’s icy attitude begins to melt like snowflakes on his tongue. But he isn’t sure he can trust anyone with the only gift he has—his heart—without breaking it like an antique ornament. Unless he can find the courage to take a leap with the one lover he never expected . . .

My Review:
I've loved this entire series, but hands down this has been my favorite book in the group. I loved getting to know Hollis and Sawyer and watching their story unfold.

The thing that made it so good was that they've known one another for a long time. They are both twins and grew up being pretty infamous for that. They were always thrown together, but have never had anything in common besides being gay. Sawyer is outgoing and gregarious and Hollis...is not. Hollis is actually pretty much a curmudgeon. He likes things a certain way and prefers his own company...it's just easier that way. But Sawyer sees beyond that facade that Hollis puts up to everyone and has decided that this holiday season he's going to infuse Hollis with some holiday magic and cheer. Hollis is pretty sure that's impossible. So they place a bet...

This entire book is told from Hollis's point of view, and I kind of loved him. He owns a paper shop and is fanatical about his papers, planners, and pens. I loved that so much about him, and I'd really, really love to visit his store. I really enjoyed how opposite the guys are from one another, but they've been thrown together for so long, they pretty much know everything about one another. I loved how Hollis simply can't see this working out between them no matter how good it is now. He knows Sawyer. Sawyer gets enthusiastic about something, but then loses interest when he sees something else shiny. Hollis expects the next shiny thing to come along at any moment, leaving him heartbroken and broken...so he's trying so hard not to get attached. But Sawyer is pretty stubborn about making the two of them work. He's waited for this long enough. He's not going to let Hollis say no anymore.

It was all so, so good. I loved it...the romance, the sexy times (that had a touch of BDSM if you need warnings about those things...but it's VERY, very light), and all the paper shop porn (and that was not a real warning...there's no real porn happening here), but the pure adulation for the paper and ink goods hit all those happy office supply obsessive genes that I have (just me?...LOL, I know it's a sickness). But anyway, I digress. The whole tale was simply good. I loved the magical aspects of Christmas and watching Hollis find his way to happy during this holiday season. It hit ALL my happy buttons.

I definitely recommend it.

I received a complimentary copy of this book in return for an honest review.

Shut Up and Kiss Me by Jessica Lemmon

Title: Shut Up and Kiss Me
Author: Jessica Lemmon
My Rating: A-

Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Lost Boys #2
Main Characters: Cade and Tasha
Release Date: December 2016
Publisher:  Loveswept
Links to Purchase:
Sexual Intensity: hot

Story Overview:
Cade: I tried. I really tried. I should be out of this small town by now, finishing my law degree and partnering up with my buddies, but I couldn’t resist one last street race. Now I’m sidelined in the hospital, and while my injuries will heal, I’m not so sure my voice will return. What kind of attorney can’t talk? Yeah, exactly. I’m afraid that I won’t be able to come back from this... until Tasha Montgomery reawakens every competitive bone in my body.


Tasha: I nearly watched Cade Wilson die on that lonely stretch of road. He’s damn lucky just to be alive, even if he doesn’t realize it. I know he’s destined for bigger and better things, but I don’t mind helping him get there as he relearns everything he took for granted. Cade’s a good student, a real perfectionist; I can tell how much his stutter bothers him. But when he lets his kisses do the talking, everything else disappears. And one day, maybe he’ll be able to tell me that he wants me—as much as I want him.

My Review:
I love stories that feature wounded heroes and Cade definitely qualifies as that. He was in college on his way to his law degree when his street racing ended in an accident...an accident that cracked his skull and affected his ability to speak clearly. It's hard to be a lawyer when you can't speak without a stutter. Now instead of heading towards being a lawyer, he spends his days working on cars and bussing tables at his brother's restaurant...not exactly all he'd dreamed for his life.

Tasha is a physical therapist, not a speech therapist, but since Cade keeps chasing off his speech therapists she's about his last hope for getting better. The problem is...he likes her and is attracted to her. The last thing he wants to do is look like a stuttering fool in front of her, so he simply refuses to talk...not exactly the way to get better. She wants to help, but she can't force him to do the work. So she just tries to be there for when he decides he will try. But she's attracted to him, too...and it's not a good practice to get romantically involved with a patient and the guy that her father (who's paying her college tuition) wants her to stay away from. 

I enjoyed the story a lot. The two characters have great chemistry. At first their relationship is very antagonistic. They're surviving one another and that's about it. But Tasha doesn't want to give up on Cade, even though he's given up on himself. I loved that about her. And my heart bled for Cade. He lost so much in a single moment and a bad decision. And both of them are suffering from the pressures from their families. It was fun to read about their journey. The story is engaging and I liked the time I spent reading it.

I received a complimentary copy of this book in return for an honest review.

Intended for Bristol by L.P.Dover


Title: Intended for Bristol
Author: L.P. Dover
My Rating: B-

Genre: Contemporary Romance 
Series: Second Chances #9
Main Characters: Bristol and Jaxon
Release Date: December 2016
Publisher:  Loveswept
Links to Purchase:
Sexual Intensity: hot

Story Overview:

L. P. Dover’s tantalizing Second Chances series gets a change of scenery as the Carolina Cougars’ infamous bad boy heads to the West Coast. His best laid plans call for seduction—but a driven career woman has him begging for more.
 
Trying to live down his very public indiscretions, Carolina Cougars kicker Jaxon Reed feels like the most hated man in the NFL. When he’s traded away, his new teammates in California don’t waste any time making his life miserable. Unfortunately for them, Jaxon’s no easy target. As payback, he sets his sights on the quarterback’s sister: a sultry brunette who’s curvy, confident, and sexy as hell. But what begins as a revenge fling turns into so much more.
 
Bristol Thomas doesn’t have time for games, especially those played by her brother’s Neanderthal teammates. A talented interior designer with lofty goals, she doesn’t know the first thing about football, or Jaxon—except that he’s exactly the type of man she usually avoids. But when his deep laugh and deeper kisses break through her walls, she becomes the target of a fan who’s obsessed with Jaxon. Now she needs to know that Jaxon has her back . . . because he already has her heart.
My Review:
This book features Jaxon. Jaxon has a rough history in this series because he's been pretty much the jerk of the team, so I was interested to see how L.P. Dover redeemed him...and I have to admit she made that even more difficult by where he started the book. He has a real beef with the new quarterback for the team and is doing everything he can to make his life more miserable. So when he sees the girl he meets in a bar has some ties to the new qb, he decides this would be a great way to get back at the qb.

Bristol is new to North Carolina and is thrilled to be living near her brother. She has a history with one of her brother's old teammates who proved to her that nothing good ever came from dating a player. As a result, football players are off limits. The problem with that is that Jaxon lies to her so she has no idea he's a player. 

Their relationship away from the football aspect worked for me. She's redecorating his apartment and they find that they have a lot in common through their art. He designs cars and motorcycles in his free time and is also an artist (this story line required the reader to suspend a bit of belief when it came to what he does with the motocross rider). But I did enjoy the aspects of the art that they had in common. 

I've read two other books in this series and they pretty much worked for me (with a few minor pet peeves), but this one...I wasn't a big fan. My problem wasn't with the story line, but with the dialogue. The dialogue in this book just seemed over the top cheesy to me and it really threw off the enjoyability of the entire book for me. One other little note...if the author wants to write about the NFL, she should really do some decent research. All of her books have had glaring problems with allowing things to happen for the players that would never happen in real life. In this book, the girlfriends are allowed to stand on the sidelines for the game...um, NO. Hell, they don't even allow that in high school football.

Like most this series, there was a bit of a suspense side plot. Nothing about that surprised me as I saw all the twists coming. It's a very tried and true "obsessed one-night stand with the pro player" story line that felt a little staid.

So, definitely not a book that really worked for me, but this might be a "it's not you, it's me" issue. But I have to say I think I'm done with this series.
I received a complimentary copy of this book in return for an honest review.

The Farther He Runs by Lynda Aicher

Title: The Farther He Runs
Author: Lynda Aicher
My Rating: A+

Genre: Contemporary Romance  (m/m)
Series: Kick #3
Main Characters: Finn and Tanner
Release Date: December 2016
Publisher:  Loveswept
Links to Purchase:
Sexual Intensity: erotic

Story Overview:
In an explosive novel of long-awaited release from the award- author of The Deeper He Hurts, two emotionally exposed Marines learn to lean on each other—and discover the courage to act on their innermost needs.

After years away from home, Tanner Dorsey is back and sorting through feelings that have him in a stranglehold. The hardened Marine will do anything for a fallen comrade, so when an accident leaves Finn Kelley fighting for his life, Tanner’s eager to be there for him. In fact, Tanner’s ready and willing to do anything Finn asks—especially if it means finally acting on the sexual tension that’s always kept him craving more.

Finn senses it too—when he brushes against Tanner’s stubbled jaw, when he inhales the scent of the T-shirt that clings to Tanner’s body like a second skin. Now that he’s more vulnerable than ever, Finn knows the time is right to take control, even if it means risking the heart and soul of their friendship. The bond they share goes beyond desire; it’s a bond of brotherhood, forged under conditions few could imagine. But once they cross that line, there will be no more secrets. No more boundaries. And no turning back.

The Farther He Runs is intended for mature audiences and includes an excerpt from another Loveswept title.

My Review:
She saved the best for last. I've enjoyed this entire series, but this book, by far, was my favorite of the series. Gah...talk about some amazingly emotional and sexy reading. 

Kick is an outdoor adventure company that was started by three Marines...Chris, Finn and Tanner. Tanner stayed in the Marines, while Chris and Finn actively ran the company. As a trio, this group of friends always had one another's back and although they were all either bi or gay, they never crossed the bounds of friendship. But nine months ago while Tanner was deep into a warzone tour, there was a horrible river accident. It killed Chris and Finn almost died...and he's been recovering ever since. Tanner had no idea until he got home. Now he's trying to recover from the shock while also helping Finn. 

But for these two, there has always been an undercurrent of more. They just couldn't mess with the balance of their friendship. But now with Chris dead and everything changed, emotions are high and things begin to evolve between the two of them. 

I'm a sucker for a military guy and a wounded hero...this story had both those things, so it should have been a given that I'd love it. And I really, really did. The guys have been best friends for years, so when it comes to moving their friendship up to a different level, it's fairly seamless. (And that's why I'm a friends to lovers trope junkie.) I loved their time in the cabin and how they connected. I also really loved how Tanner knows Finn so well and knows how to push him hard. After seeing Finn in a bad way throughout the series, it was nice to see his marked improvement throughout this book. I wanted to cheer with him every time his running time got longer. I love that Tanner pushes him this way...competitiveness is such an amazing motivator for these two. Of course the rewards and even the challenges were pretty amazing too...whoa, hotness!

I just really, really loved the book. It was sexy and sweet while staying so incredibly emotional. I loved the two guys together and the fact that they truly do fit together sexually too, although Finn never really saw it until this book. Tanner truly is perfect for this Dom. LOVED IT!
I received a complimentary copy of this book in return for an honest review.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Wound Tight by Tessa Bailey

Title: Wound Tight
Author: Tessa Bailey
My Rating: A

Genre: Contemporary Romance  (m/m)
Series: Made in Jersey #4
Main Characters: Renner and Milo
Release Date: December 2016
Publisher:  Entangled Publishing
Links to Purchase:
Sexual Intensity: hot

Story Overview:
A sexy new M/M romance from New York Times Bestselling author Tessa Bailey

When CEO Renner Bastion walks into a room, everyone keeps their distance. Well, everyone but the sarcastic, tattooed, Boston-bred security guard whose presence has kept Renner in New Jersey longer than intended. As if the unwanted attraction isn’t unsettling enough, Renner finds out his protector isn’t as unavailable as originally thought.

Milo Bautista just came out to his wealthy, ultra-confident boss, a man he secretly respects and admires…in more ways than he’ll admit. Worldly, experienced Renner would never look in his direction, let alone share some of that confidence he wears like a cloak, so Milo has set his sights on someone else to be his first.

Until Renner offers him private lessons in seduction...


My Review:
Wow...I've been a longtime Tessa Bailey fan and she just combined my two loves...her writing with male/male romance. YES!! And this book did not disappoint at all. It was so, so good. 

Renner is the boss. He's a business mogul, and as such, most of his employees aren't his biggest fans. The exception to that is Milo. Milo works security within the company. He's supposed to be keeping the warehouse workers safe, but he's made it his mission in life to watch out for Renner, too. Part of that has been because he's fascinated by the man and admires the way Renner is completely unapologetic about his sexuality. Milo has just had a sexual revelation...he's attracted to men and doesn't really know what to do with that. So he watches Renner and is trying to figure it all out.

But then they have a moment of truth...and come to an agreement. Renner will show Milo how to be comfortable with his sexuality so he can pursue the guy he has a crush one. Milo will teach Renner how to relax more so he doesn't risk another heart attack (yeah, Renner is the epitome of uptight, high-strung, executive.)

I love that this is all new to Milo, but he's so 'in' with everything that Renner does. He just wants more. And Renner is losing control all over the place...I love that. This book is all about losing control when the chemistry is right. Neither of these guys expect what happens. They are attracted to one another, but whoa...they are not expecting the explosiveness of the combination of the two of them together. It made for an amazing read that I loved. 

I really enjoyed both guys. They're so different, but their attraction adds so much to the story...I couldn't turn the pages in my ebook fast enough. I loved them together. 

Needless to say, I love Tessa Bailey writing in this genre. I hope we see more male/male romances coming from her soon.

I received a complimentary copy of this book in return for an honest review.

Glass Tidings by Amy Jo Cousins

Title: Glass Tidings
Author: Amy Jo Cousins
My Rating: A-

Genre: Contemporary Holiday Romance  (m/m)
Series: -
Main Characters: Eddie and Gray
Release Date: December 2016
Publisher:  Riptide Publishing
Links to Purchase:
Sexual Intensity: mild

Story Overview:
Eddie Rodrigues doesn’t stay in one place long enough to get attached. The only time he broke that rule, things went south fast. Now he’s on the road again, with barely enough cash in his pocket to hop a bus south after his (sort-of-stolen) car breaks down in the middle of nowhere, Midwest, USA.

He’s fine. He’ll manage. Until he watches that girl get hit by a car and left to die.

Local shop owner Grayson Croft isn’t in the habit of doing people any favors. But even a recluse can’t avoid everyone in a town as small as Clear Lake. And when the cop who played Juliet to your Romeo in the high school play asks you to put up her key witness for the night, you say yes.

Now Gray’s got a grouchy glass artist stomping around his big, empty house, and it turns out that he . . . maybe . . . kind of . . . likes the company.

But Eddie Rodrigues never sticks around.

Unless a Christmas shop owner who hates the season can show an orphan what it means to have family for the holidays.

My Review:
What a sweet story about small town, dealing with loneliness, and the reminder that everyone needs someone, especially at this time of the years. 

Eddie was traveling by foot, trying to get to Texas before Christmas when he witnessed a girl hit by a car. He rushes to her aid just as the guy who hits her drives away. It's traumatic and a crime and Eddie ends up getting stuck at Gray's house because the seemingly one-person police force needs more information from him.

Gray is his own type of recluse. For two months out of the year, he interacts with people when he opens his Christmas shop that's been part of this small town for three generations. The rest of the year he buries himself in his monstrosity of a house, reads his books, and drinks his scotch...and remembers the people who used to exist in his life. 

Eddie doesn't have the ties of good memories. He grew up in the foster system, never living one place long, never forming attachments. This is the way he lives his adult life, too. He travels the country doing the Renaissance Faire circuit as a glass blower, but he wants a place to settle, a place where he can form attachments to things and people. But admitting that...even to himself...isn't something he can do. That's the way to get hurt. 

But these two lonely men form a fragile bond throughout the holiday season. 

I enjoyed the book. The little Christmas shoppe was magical and I loved the idea of what Eddie created with his glass blowing. I liked the visuals the author created...and the poignant story line about the hit and run playing out in the background of the romance. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed reading the book. It provided a heartwarming romance and enough holiday atmosphere to keep my heart happy...reading as a couple in front of the fireplace...happy sigh. 

I liked it!

I received a complimentary copy of this book in return for an honest review.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Power Play by Avon Gale (audiobook)


Title:  Power Play
Author: Avon Gale
My Rating: A
Narrator: Scott R. Smith

Genre: Sports Romance (m/m)
Series: Scoring Chances #3
Main Characters: Misha and Max
Release Date: October 2016 (audiobook)
Publisher: Dreamspinner
Links to Purchase
Sexual Intensity: hot

Story Overview:
Listening Length: 6 hours and 22 minutes

A freak accident during the Stanley Cup Playoffs put an end to Max Ashford’s hockey career. Despite everything, Max gets back into the game he loves—only this time, behind the bench as an assistant coach of the Spartanburg Spitfires, the worst team in the entire league. But nothing prepares him for the shock when he learns the new head coach is Misha Samarin, the man who caused Max’s accident.

After spending years guilt ridden for his part in Max’s accident, Russian native Misha Samarin has no idea what to do when he’s confronted with Max’s presence. Max’s optimism plays havoc with Misha’s equilibrium—as does the fierce attraction that springs up between them.


Not only must they navigate Misha’s remorse and a past he’s spent a lifetime trying to forget, but also a sleazy GM who is determined to use their history as a marketing hook. But when an unwelcome visitor targets a player, Misha revisits his darkest days, and that might cost him and Max the beginning they’ve worked so hard to build.
My Review:
Overall: 4.5
Performance: 5.0
Story: 4.5

Wow, this story was good. I was surprised when it started and was about the coaches of one of the rival teams in the league, because at this point I'm simply devouring the entire series and not paying attention to story blurbs. But it was a pleasant surprise...mainly because the intertwined backstory between Max and Misha is so good just in the angst that it adds to the characters. 

Both of these guys were playing for the NHL when the accident happened...and it was an accident. A fluke hit that ruined Max's ability to play. Misha certainly hadn't meant to hit him in that way, but in the midst of the league trying to reinforce safety issues, they penalized Misha. He never played again.  So the accident ruined both their careers through no fault of their own. That's not an easy history. 

For Max, he has no hard feelings. Misha's feelings are pure guilt. And it takes a while for the two of them to work past all that. I loved that Misha was Russian. As a result, he doesn't let things slide by as easily as Max does. He's stoic and serious, whereas Max just lets things slide off his back. That made a great partnership between them. They truly balance one another out. 

I loved so much about this book. Pretty much every thing about the story and the characters worked for me. I loved both of them so much and thought they were absolutely perfect together. 

The narrator was perfect on this one. Misha is Russian and Scott R. Smith did an incredible accent for him as well as showing the perfect emotions through the inflections. Overall, this was one of those audiobooks that will remain a favorite for a long time to come. I highly recommend it.