Categories
4.5 stars adult - 18+ Angst Level Book coming of age Contemporary Gay GFY/OFY Heat Index Homophobia Humor Little to no angst m/m Mild/low level heat Morgan Novel 140 pgs + (80K + words) Older MCs Part of a Series Riptide Publishing Single Parent Standalone

Spun! (The Shamwell Tales #4) by J.L. Merrow

 

release day reviewRiptide Presents

http://riptidepublishing.com/titles/spun

 

Blurb

With friends like these . . .

An ill-advised encounter at the office party leaves David Greenlake jobless and homeless in one heady weekend. But he quickly begs work from his ex-boss and takes a room in Shamwell with easygoing postman Rory Deamer. David doesn’t mean to flirt with the recently divorced Rory—just like he doesn’t consciously decide to breathe. After all, Rory’s far too nice for him. And far too straight.

Rory finds his new lodger surprisingly fun to be with, and what’s more, David is a hit with Rory’s troubled children. But while Rory’s world may have turned upside down in the last few years, there’s one thing he’s sure of: he’s straight as a die. So he can’t be falling for David . . . can he?

Their friends and family think they know all the answers, and David’s office party hookup has his own plans for romance. Rory and David need to make up their minds and take a stand for what they really want—or their love could be over before it’s even begun.

Review

This is the JL Merrow I fell in love with! One of my all time favorite books ever is Muscling Through (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/11045338-muscling-through?from_search=true) and this reminds me of that story – a lot! It’s very low steam, but high on humor and very, very British.

The HEA is amazingly happy and though it takes our MCs until nearly the end to find one another in the way we’re hoping they do – it’s a fun ride to get there!

Highly Recommended!
(This is absolutely fine as a standalone.)

4.5 of 5 stars
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Categories
3 stars Action/Adventure adult - 18+ Angst Level Audiobook Book Contemporary Cop/Crime Gay Heat Index m/m Mid level angst Misunderstanding Morgan Novel 140 pgs + (80K + words) Part of a Series Purchased Scorching/high heat

Audiobook Month: Still Waters: Sanctuary, Book 4 Audiobook by RJ Scott narrated by Sean Crisden


Audible Link

https://www.audible.com/pd/Romance/Still-Waters-Audiobook/B0711QMJZ5?qid=1495599400&sr=1-2

Blurb

Adam has a new assignment for Sanctuary. It means working with the man who did not trust him two years ago and destroyed their relationship. He still hates Lee, but Jake Callahan, boss of Sanctuary, does not give him a choice, insisting they need to get along for the good of the cross agency case.
Lee wants desperately to understand why Adam betrayed the Bureau. He is still angry and disappointed, but the memory will not leave him alone. The Bullen case is the perfect cover to get back in his ex-lover’s life, and he is determined to find out the truth.
Against the backdrop of Sanctuary and the Bullen case, can they learn to understand and believe that not everything they thought was true was real?
Review

I found this to be really frustrating. Most of the story could be eliminated if our MCs just sat down and had a heart to heart. I felt like they were so stubborn and intractable and though they had a lot of sexual chemistry, I didn’t feel an authentic emotional connection between them.

Where there was an opportunity for a great reconciliation scene, we got a mediocre sharing of events and then sex. Hot sex, but again, no emotional intimacy, or not enough for my tastes.

While I love Sean’s narration, this just wasn’t a great story for me. I’m still a big fan of the author and the series, but this just wasn’t my book.

 

3 of 5 stars

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Categories
2 stars adult - 18+ Angst Level Anna Author Provided Bi-Sexual Book Contemporary Cop/Crime Gay GFY/OFY Heat Index Homophobia Hurt/Abuse Length m/m Mild level angst Mild/low level heat Novel 140 pgs + (80K + words) Part of a Series

Unsettled (On the Strip #1) by Zach Jenkins

Amazon Link

https://www.amazon.com/Unsettled-Strip-Book-Zach-Jenkins-ebook/dp/B071LN8JRQ/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1498666803&sr=1-1&keywords=unsettled+zach

Free on KU!

Blurb

 He’s a cop who looks like a cowboy and I just have to see his gun.

I’ve refused second dates for years because I’m too much of a mess to hope for any relationship to work out. After one wild, impulsive, and let’s face it, pleasantly filling night with James, I’m ready to throw all of that out the window.

Men are for drinking buddies and dirty jokes… and now, so much more.

Evan is the first man I’ve ever slept with. If I get my way, he’ll be the one I’m with forever. I’m not sure how I’ll tell the other guys at the police station, but I’ve got bigger problems to worry about.

Someone is attacking people on The Strip in August, GA, and they are working way too close to the club where Evan is a DJ. I’ve got to catch whoever is responsible so that I can protect Evan, the man who taught me everything about love.

Unsettled is a steamy, standalone, first time with a man, romantic thriller novel with no cliffhangers.

Review

This had a lot of things going for it, but I never really felt it!

James is a closeted cop, who cannot seem to find the courage to actually do something about his bi-sexual leanings. His neighbour, a DJ at the local gay bar, comes over to pick a fight, and the two end up hooking up instead.

I wanted to like this, I really did. But I never really felt I got to know the characters in any depth and the romance between them was so rushed, that I never saw it coming. I was just told that they wanted to be with the other person forever.

There are two main plots to the story, the closeted cop and the rejected-by-his-family gay southern boy falling in love, as well as a murder mystery. However, none of the plots were developed with sufficient depth for me to really care or invest myself in the story.

The writing flowed very nicely however, and even if I wasn’t really invested the story was very easily read and didn’t feel like a chore to read. I just wish there had been more showing instead of telling with regards to the relationship and that the characters emotions had been more deeply explored. I never really believed the things I was told about the character’s behavviour or pasts, as I never saw any evidence of it.

I might still give this author another try, as the book was easily read, and I liked the premise of the story, but this one didn’t really work for me.

 2 out of 5 stars

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Categories
6 stars adult - 18+ Angst Level Audiobook Audiobook Month Book Bullying Closeted coming of age Contemporary Cop/Crime Dreamspinner Finding Family Friends to lovers Gay GFY/OFY Heat Index Hidden Lovers Homophobia Humor Hurt/Abuse Hurt/comfort m/m Mid level angst Mild/low level heat Monthly Theme Morgan Mystery Novel 140 pgs + (80K + words) Older MCs Rating Review Copies Single Parent Teacher Track Widower

Audiobook Month: Bonfires Audiobook by Amy Lane Narrated By Nick J Russo

I think it’s appropriate to start out our Audiobook Month with two of my favs!  Amy Lane is one of my all time favorite authors and her audiobooks rank among the books I can listen to over and over and over.  Some of my favorite are: Clear Water, Bolt Hole and Beneath the Stain.  Narrating two of those is Nick J Russo – he ranks as one of my top three favorite narrators and it’s Amy’s works that help him hold that position.  So, with no further ado…. let’s start off our month of great listens with Bonfire!

 

Dreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/bonfires-by-amy-lane-8682-b

Blurb

Ten years ago Sheriff’s Deputy Aaron George lost his wife and moved to Colton, hoping growing up in a small town would be better for his children. He’s gotten to know his community, including Mr. Larkin, the bouncy, funny science teacher. But when Larx is dragged unwillingly into administration, he stops coaching the track team and starts running alone. Aaron—who thought life began and ended with his kids—is distracted by a glistening chest and a principal running on a dangerous road.

Larx has been living for his kids too—and for his students at Colton High. He’s not ready to be charmed by Aaron, but when they start running together, he comes to appreciate the deputy’s steadiness, humor, and complete understanding of Larx’s priorities. Children first, job second, his own interests a sad last.

It only takes one kiss for two men approaching fifty to start acting like teenagers in love, even amid all the responsibilities they shoulder. Then an act of violence puts their burgeoning relationship on hold. The adult responsibilities they’ve embraced are now instrumental in keeping their town from exploding. When things come to a head, they realize their newly forged family might be what keeps the world from spinning out of control.

Review
(Book reviewed here previously)
I’m going to divide this review into two parts because it was amazingly emotional and really brought so many thoughts and feelings to the surface for me and I think it will for others as well.

The first part will be the review for people who don’t want any spoilers or any discussion about politics – because I know that can really set people off. The second part will be a bit more personal with some very biased opinions and a bit of spoiler action that you all can totally skip ☺

As you all know, I am a huge Amy fan. I’ve read nearly everything the woman has written and I not only admire her writing but think she’s pretty awesome as a person. From knowing a bit about her backstory, I can tell she wrote this book with her own experiences in mind. Larx is a high school principal – reluctantly – and a single parent. He was married before, but after exposing his bi-sexuality his wife left him and the kids. He’s moved from the city (other bad stuff happened there) to a small town to start over. Now, seven years later, he’s still single and thinking it will stay that way til his kids are graduated.

Aaron is the small town deputy, slated for Sherriff in the upcoming years. His wife died in a car accident and though he’s always considered himself bi-sexual he’s never acted on it and really never thought to do anything about it until his kids graduated. When he sees Larx – the man he’s known for years- running down the highway without a shirt a light switches on in his head and suddenly all those plans he had, change.

**
Part of what I absolutely love about this book is that the characters are closer to 50 than 40 and they feel so very REAL. They aren’t in perfect shape – Aaron struggles with his diet – they aren’t sleeping with everything that they see – neither has had any sort of significant anything for years – and they’re parents and their jobs first – not slaves to their lust! They live real lives and have real concerns and yet… Amy manages to find the romance in their lives and bring it out for all to see. It’s magnificent!

In addition to being real people, they have real kids. Neither of them was/is a perfect parent and their kids aren’t perfect either – well – Kirby and Christi might be but…. ☺ …. The kids fight, do dumb things and make mistakes. But – they aren’t evil incarnate either.

I did not see the ending coming… I mean I kinda did… but not exactly. Amy played the mystery out perfectly with just enough hints that you could see how we got there by the end, but it wasn’t hitting me in the face the entire time making me wonder how the MCs couldn’t see the obvious answer.

The good news/ bad news is the “bad guy” in the story is unfortunately very real and very possible. Maybe there were some exaggerations for impact sake, but, unfortunately the people like this exist and that’s up for discussion later.

As for the romance. Ahhhhhhh. Man, I loved these two guys together – so much! If I had any complaints at all it was that we didn’t get to see them together outside of a tense situation for very long. I wanted to see these two settled down and living life – quietly! – for a bit – just because they worked so hard for it (and so did I)!

We also get a bit of a secondary romance (or two!) and I really hope those characters get their own book in the future!

I can’t recommend this enough. It was sweet, exciting, romantic, touching, and also really, really relevant and thought provoking. For fans of the author this is a must, and for any parents, people from small towns, people with brains, or people with hearts – this is a must read!

**
Following, in the spoiler section, is stuff more political and opinionated and it might give away some parts of the story – so skip this or read it after you’ve read the book if you don’t want to be “spoiled”.

Spoiler Inside SelectShow

Audio

Well, you know I love Am[/spoiler]y and you know I love Nick so together – Oh Yeah!

Nick is just amazingly well suited to Amy’s language. I love how his voice gives life to her characters. I absolutely fell in LOVE with Aaron’s voice and thought Larx’s voice suited him as well. Nick does the younger voices well, including the females. While it was different than I’d imagined, I loved his choice for Yoshi, too.

All in all a great way to enjoy this and a perfect choice!

6 of 5 stars
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Categories
4.5 stars adult - 18+ Angst Level Audiobook Book Closeted Contemporary Cowboys Dreamspinner Gay GFY/OFY Heat Index Hidden Lovers High but not hopeless m/m Mid level steam/heat Morgan New Adult Novel 140 pgs + (80K + words) Rating Single Parent

Audiobook Month: Cowboys Don’t Come Out Audiobook by Tara Lain Narrated by KC Kelly


Dreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/cowboys-dont-come-out-by-tara-lain-8519-b

Blurb

Rand McIntyre settles for good enough. He loves his small California ranch, raising horses, and teaching riding to the kids he adores—but having kids of his own and someone to love means coming out, and that would jeopardize everything he’s built. Then, despite his terror of flying, he goes on a holiday to Hana, Hawaii, with his parents and meets the dark and mysterious Kai Kealoha, a genuine Hawaiian cowboy. Rand takes to Kai’s kid brother and sister as much as he drools over Kai, but the guy sports more prickles than a horned toad and more secrets than the exotic land he comes from.

Kai’s earned his privacy and lives to protect his “kids.” He ought to stay away from the big, handsome cowboy for everyone’s sake—but since the guy’s just a haole on a short vacation, how much damage can he do? When all of Kai’s worst fears and Rand’s darkest nightmares come true at once, there’s not much chance for two cowboys who can’t—or won’t—come out.

Review
(Book reviewed here previously)

This was a fast paced, relatively low angst and medium steam-filled romance – with kids and cowboys in Hawaii over the Holidays! So, it’s got a little bit of something for everyone.

The reasons for these guys staying in the closet was reasonable, which I was glad to see, because I was worried about that from the blurb. Kai, especially, I understood as needing to be circumspect in all things. Rand had been hurt – badly – in the past, so I saw his reasoning as well.

Things moved quickly – you have to put on your “it’s fiction” hat and ride it out – else the insta love might be a bit overwhelming.

While I loved the ending, I did wish I’d gotten to see more of these guys in an actual relationship before they did what they did. The timing was important, I get that, but still… I wanted them to be a couple on page more.

The kids were cute if COMPLETELY UNREALISTIC. Again, I donned my “it’s fiction” hat and just enjoyed them for the roles they played in moving the story forward.

All in all, if you’re looking for something light, sweet, a little sexy and fun. Give this a go! If you’re looking for “real” – keep looking.

4 of 5 stars

Audio

I thought KC Kelly was a good choice for the narrator here. He handles the “cowboy” very well and I think he does a great job with the “Hawaiian” as well. His voice is maybe a bit older than I’d imagine, especially for Kai, but all in all that didn’t really affect my enjoyment.

4.5 of 5 stars for the narration

If you’re a fan of the author and coming out of the closet stories, this is definitely for you!

Overall 4.5 of 5 stars
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Categories
4.5 stars adult - 18+ Angst Level Book co-workers to lovers College/University coming of age DA Dreamspinner Enemies to Lovers Friends to lovers Gay Heat Index Humor Hurt/Abuse Hurt/comfort Insta Love m/m Mid level steam/heat Mild level angst Military Morgan New Adult Novel 140 pgs + (80K + words) Part of a Series PTSD

Manny Get Your Guy (The Mannies #2) by Amy Lane

release day review

Dreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/manny-get-your-guy-by-amy-lane-8550-b

Blurb

Starting over and falling in love.

Tino Robbins’s sister, Nica, and her husband, Jacob, are expecting their fifth child. Fortunately, Nica’s best friend, Taylor Cochran, is back in town, released from PT and in need of a job.

After years in the service and recovering from grave injury, Taylor has grown a lot from the callow troublemaker he’d been in high school. Now he’s hoping for a fresh start with Nica and her family.

Jacob’s cousin Brandon lives above the garage and thinks “Taylor the manny” is a bad idea. Taylor might be great at protecting civilians from a zombie apocalypse, but is he any good with kids?

Turns out, Taylor’s a natural. As he tries to fit in, using common sense and dry wit, Brandon realizes that Taylor doesn’t just love their family—he’s desperate to be part of it. And just like that, Brandon wants Taylor to be part of his future.

Review by Beth

This is a great hurt/comfort story. Taylor was injured in the war, but that only accounts for his physical scars. His family life and his hiding his sexual orientation has scarred him just as deeply.

Brandon has spent the last 2 years living over his cousins garage being drawn into the day to day life of his cousins family. When his adopted family suddenly need help wrangling the 4 children he is against Taylor being that person.

We then see the 2 MC’s start by not liking each other to liking each other, to loving each other. Both deal with painful pasts, both have support from the core family they are now attached to. I love how the secondary characters teach acceptance by their actions more than their words.

As I said I really liked this story and will go looking for more of the stories centering around this family in the storyline.

4.5 of 5 stars

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Review by Morgan

I definitely think you need to have read “The Virgin Manny” for this to make a lot of sense. While I suppose there’s enough information for it to be a standalone, really, the first part of the story and all the background is found in the earlier book.

We met Taylor when he was young and dumb and full of … well, spunk and attitude. ☺
He didn’t make any friends with the way he was hiding and that sense of self-loathing has lingered. Now he’s a new man with a ton of baggage. It wouldn’t be an Amy story if we didn’t have some baggage, right?

Well, Brandon has his own issues, but really, he’s quite stable and he’s definitely the rock in this relationship.

Because the Dreamspun genre really supports this type of plot, our guys get together and fall in love with ridiculous ease. However, there are some really great moments between them and their families. It’s not just “blink and it all goes away.” This story, as compared the “The Virgin” has a lot more steam in it (much appreciated!!) and our MCs have a ton of chemistry.

I think I like this book better than book 1 because the characters felt more solid to me and the situation, while still a bit predictable, was unique enough and had some very “real life” elements in it that made it feel authentic.

As always, it was great to revisit the characters from book 1, and I found it fascinating how different Jacob was in this story versus the first book. Besides the passage of time, I think fatherhood absolutely shaped him a lot!

If I have any problems at all it’s that the initial reaction of Brandon to Taylor never made sense to me – I wasn’t ever quite sure where his anger came from, so I was glad it went away quickly.

All in all, highly recommended to fans of the author, book 1, sweet but hurt veterans, and stories with kids.

4.5 of 5 stars

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