Categories
Action/Adventure adult - 18+ Audiobook Contemporary Dreamspinner Gay m/m Magic Mid level angst Mid level steam/heat Novella 20-160 pgs (20k-40k words) Paranormal Part of a Series Purchased

His Hearth (Warders #1) Audiobook by Mary Calmes Narrated by Andrew Schwartz

HisHearthAudBlurb

Julian Nash should be excited: he’s just earned a huge promotion at work and is going out to celebrate. But his happiness fades when he discovers his date cheating on him an hour before. Suddenly alone when everyone knows he’s supposed to have a plus one, Julian is set for a long night until longtime acquaintance Ryan Dean bails him out of the embarrassing situation. During dinner, they discover they have more than just friendship between them: there is mutual admiration and heated attraction. But getting to know Ryan better-and finding a place in his life-will bring Julian surprises and danger he never expected or dreamed existed.

Review

So if you know Mary Calmes’ work, you know that she has this penchant for giving us these guys who are super awesome but don’t know it. That’s Julian. He’s hot, pulled together, sweet but tough, warm-hearted, forgiving, fantastic in bed and (of course) totally unappreciated and somewhat clueless.

Then we have Ryan. Ryan is a super-hero. He fights demons and all other sorts of bad creatures that go bump in the night. But… he also has a day job and in this case it’s doing a morning show as a talk personality. He’s also super hot, kinda quirky, a little insecure, and great at anything he puts his mind to.

The story of the Warders is this: there are a group of Warders for a given area who protect the people from the bad guys. They have some “powers” but are also well trained. Something about them drains the life force from their lovers unless their lover happens to be their “hearth”. In that case the “hearth” is their perfect mate, able to be the home they need when not fighting against evil, a place for them to rejuvenate and relax. They all want to find their hearth, but they have to be careful in their search because the process damages each lover unless they are the hearth.

Ryan believes Julian is his hearth, but he’s not sure and he can’t risk it. Up until the story begins Julian is involved with someone anyway, so it’s a moot point.

When Julian gets thrown over, Ryan is there to help him out and acts as his date. The mutual attraction between them is combustible and Ryan decides to test if Julian might be his hearth.

Luckily – he is! Now Ryan must introduce Julian to his world and in the meantime fight off the bad guys that have already found him

**

I love this series! It is fun and moves quickly. Each book has a different Warder but sort of takes place sequentially so you can read them separately but reading them in order gives you the most flavor.

Julian and Ryan are hot together and the magic and the action are fun and breath-taking. The huge payout is that once they realize who they are to one another there is lots and lots of sentimentality and lovey ooey goodness.

5 of 5 stars

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Audio
Boy I hate to do this. I love this series but I despise the narrator. Not all the books are narrated by the same guy (thank goodness!) but in this case we get Andrew Schwartz. I could tolerate his narration if he didn’t talk so fast. It made me feel like he didn’t breathe and I could feel the lack of oxygen right along with him.
If you can get past the quick pace, he does an okay job with the story telling. He doesn’t do much to change the voices or do much acting in terms of performing the story, but he’s okay.

2.5 of 5 stars

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(Copy purchased for review)

 

To buy

Dreamspinner Presents
http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=2783

Categories
adult - 18+ Audiobook Bi-Sexual Contemporary Dreamspinner Gay GFY/OFY Homophobia Hopelessly Crying Hurt/Abuse m/m New Adult Novel 140 pgs + (80K + words) Part of a Series Purchased Scorching/high heat

Dex in Blue (Johnnies #2) Audiobook by Amy Lane Narrated by Sean Crisden

DexInBlueAudMEDBlurb

Ten years ago David Worral had plans to go to college and the potential for a beautiful future in front of him. One tragic accident later, he fled to California and reinvented himself as Dex, top porn model of Johnnies.

Dex’s life is a tangled mess now, but the guys he works with only see the man who makes them believe even porn stars can lead normal lives. When Kane, one of Dex’s coworkers, gets kicked out of his house, the least Dex can do is give him a place to stay. Kane may be a hyperactive muscle-bound psycho, but he’s also a really nice guy. What could be the harm?

Except nothing is simple—not sex, not love, and not the goofy kid with the big dick and bigger heart who moves his life into Dex’s guest room. When they start negotiating fractured pasts and broken friends, Dex wonders if Kane’s honest nature can untangle the sadness that stalled his once-promising future. With Kane by his side, Dex just might be able to reclaim the boy he once was—and if he can do that, he can give Kane the home and the family he deserves.

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(Magnificent FanArt Thanks to Karrie Jax!)

Review
This was one of my very first Amy Lane books – maybe the very first – I forget. But it’s still one of my all time favorite books of hers and of the genre.

In book two we see Dex fighting his own battles. He has had exactly one male lover and is not – yet- convinced he’s gay. He has many luke-warm girlfriends and one of them convinces him to give gay for pay porn a shot. So he does. And it’s like he’s finally able to be himself. He. Loves. It. And he’s good at it.

We are now several years down the line and he’s moved to the production side of things. He’s just dumped his lover because he’s tired of being the booty call on the side when he has feelings involved.
Kane is a simple guy with a big dick. He likes girls but can deal with the “boy sex” if that’s what it takes to give him some control of his life. He’s never been one for school and when his sister’s daughter needs chemo, he steps up to the bat doing the gay for pay thing to help pay the hospital bills.

Dex and Kane end up as roommates when Kane’s sister throws him out of his own house (yeah, it never makes a lot of sense) and Dex needs a shoulder to cry on after dumping the crappy lover.

Because – you know – the porn and all – they give each other comfort in a physical way and suddenly a moment of support has kind of turned into a “thing”.

For Kane – who never really questions things too deeply – the “thing” is comfortable and nice and he wants to keep it. But he doesn’t really do “labels” and he doesn’t really identify as “gay” so how can Dex be his boyfriend?

Dex has been down this road before and can’t do it anymore. When Kane ends up inadvertently flirting with a girl at a holiday party and messing things up more by not understanding why that’s a bad thing in Dex’s world – Dex puts down an ultimatum.

Luckily – Kane finally figures out that “anything that keeps him and Dex in the same bed is a good thing” and he fights for that tooth and nail.

**

This book has it’s fair share of angst. Right off the bat – first chapter, Dex’s lover is killed. OH MAN. That hurt. Lola, the sister, is a super-bitch and keeps Kane from his niece because he’s “dirty”. The ex-lover tries to screw things up as does Johnnie himself. Finally, Dex’s family has to make things really ugly but in the end all the tragedies serve to make Kane and Dex more tightly drawn together.

What I love about this book and what keeps me coming back to it again and again is the love. It’s so clear that these two are made for each other. The feels in this book are tremendous without feeling out of place for two men.

I love that both are sometimes “toppy” and that both lean on the other at one point or another.

The secondary characters are as rich as the MCs and the storyline about the niece and Johnnie and the receptionist… so wonderful without distracting from the main love story.

The sex is scorching hot and the emotions wonderful. I can’t say enough great things about this book!

Audio
Sean Crisden – narrating God that he is – does an exceptional job with this. I LOVE his Kane. He’s wonderful. My favorite scene is the “I’m not a booty call” scene. He does the emotion so perfectly! He even manages to give all of Dex’s family their own unique voices – including the women!

Again, I can’t recommend this enough. It’s absolutely best if read in the series but can totally stand on its own without any problem whatsoever.

6 of 5 stars

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(Copy purchased for review)

To buy

Dreamspinner Presents

http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=5048

 

Categories
adult - 18+ Angst Level Audiobook Bi-Sexual Contemporary Dreamspinner Gay GFY/OFY Homophobia Hopelessly Crying Hurt/Abuse m/m Novel 140 pgs + (80K + words) Part of a Series Purchased Scorching/high heat

Chase in Shadow (Johnnies #1) Audiobook by Amy Lane Narrated by Sean Crisden

ChaseinShadowAudMEDBlurb

Chase Summers: Golden boy. Beautiful girlfriend, good friends, and a promising future.

Nobody knows the real Chase.

Chase Summers has a razor blade to his wrist and the smell of his lover’s goodbye clinging to his skin. He has a door in his heart so frightening he’d rather die than open it, and the lies he’s used to block it shut are thinning with every forbidden touch. Chase has spent his entire life unraveling, and his decision to set his sexuality free in secret has only torn his mind apart faster.

Chase has one chance for true love and salvation. He may have met Tommy Halloran in the world of gay-for-pay—where the number of lovers doesn’t matter as long as the come-shot’s good—but if he wants the healing that Tommy’s love has to offer, he’ll need the courage to leave the shadows for the sunlight. That may be too much to ask from a man who’s spent his entire life hiding his true self. Chase knows all too well that the only things thriving in a heart’s darkness are the bitter personal demons that love to watch us bleed.

Review

Wow. Okay. First, if you haven’t read an Amy Lane book and you are starting with this series – take heed and have plenty of tissues on hand!

Amy can write fantastical fantasy with crazy and sometimes funny figures, she can write humorous contemporary romance with quirky and quant characters, and she can write heart-wrenching, gut-twisting, hanky-shredding, angst-filled stories that rip your heart out and make it bleed.

This is that last kind.

But – and this is HUGE – she gives you a tremendous pay out. This is important. In her stories she will absolutely drag your heart out through your nostrils but then she mends it, patches it up, and fluffs it with so much caring and tenderness and purely sweet and luscious goodness that when it goes back into your chest (usually at the end) it feels so much better than when you started.

In this series we have Johnnie (who we hear from in his own story Black John) a director of gay pornography. He runs a respectable shop, no taking advantage of the models, clean, safe, etcetera – but it’s porn. Now it’s often called gay for pay, but the so-called straight guys… not always so straight.

That’s where Chase comes in. Chase is gay but he “can’t be”. He has had a horrible childhood – one where he sees his own mother’s suicide and lives with a father who somehow blames Chase for her death.

He turns to porn to make money, though he has a girlfriend he “loves” and wants to be with. He takes on the name Chance and finds his true home with Johnnies.

There Chance meets Tango. Tango is really Tommy, and Tango/Tommy has no problem being gay. They hook up and find an immediate love connection. But Tommy can’t take it that Chase continues to stay with the girlfriend and internalizes his own pain with a horrible eating disorder.

(I warned you – Angst. City.)

We know from early on in the story that Chase attempts suicide. The story explains the whys and the hows and then the what happens next.

Mercy, Chase’s girlfriend is not particularly vilified – although her decision at the end strikes me as not necessarily in line with the rest of her persona and is particularly harsh given the circumstances.

Chase and Tommy are a match made in heaven – both kinda screwed up but oh so passionate. It’s wonderful to watch them fall in love and it was absolutely horrible to watch each of them fall apart as a result of this love.

We also get to meet the cast of characters that fill the coming books and that, too, is fascinating.

I really loved how Amy was able to really get into Chase’s head and show us that in his mind he had NO CHOICE but to do what he did but then – at the last frickin’ moment – it all got so clear for him.

The time spent in the psych ward was hard to read and maybe drug a bit, but I think it helped to really cement the huge change in direction that occurred in Chase’s thinking.

Like I said at the beginning – Amy knows how to bring on the Angst (with a capital A) – but she also brings you back down with an incredible happy ending – one that we get to see develop in the next books even more.

I absolutely love this book, this series and the author. (FWIW this is my second favorite book in the series – Dex is my favorite – but they are all so dang good!)

Audio:

Sean Crisden is a master! I love all his narrations and this was one of the first I’d listened to. He makes a point of keeping all the various characters separate which is a huge undertaking in this series. We end up with a total of 4 couples and lots of side characters and they all are voiced somewhat differently. So giant Kudos there! He also has a way of making the emotion feel so authentic. He does “perform” the stories – not merely read them.

6 of 5 stars

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To Buy

Dreamspinner Presents
http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=4948

Categories
Angst Level College/University Contemporary Gay Homophobia Hopelessly Crying Humor Hurt/Abuse m/m NetGalley New Adult Novel 140 pgs + (80K + words) Part of a Series Scorching/high heat Trans

Lonely Hearts (Love Lessons Book 3) by Heidi Cullinan

lonelyheartsBlurb

With the quiet help of his wealthy family, Sebastian “Baz” Acker has successfully kept his painful past at bay. But as the end of college draws near, his friends—his buffer zone—are preparing to move on, while his own life is at a crippling standstill.With loneliness bearing down on him, Baz hooks up—then opens up—with Elijah Prince, the guy Baz took a bullet for last year. The aftershocks of their one-night stand leave giant cracks in Baz’s carefully constructed armor. For the first time, the prospect isn’t terrifying.

Accustomed to escaping his demons by withdrawing into his imagination, Elijah isn’t used to having a happy herd of friends. He’s even less comfortable as the object of a notorious playboy’s affections. Yet all signs seem to indicate this time happiness might be within his grasp. When Baz’s mother runs for a highly sought-after public office, the media hounds drag Baz’s and Elijah’s pasts into the light. In the blinding glare, Baz and Elijah face the ultimate test: discovering if they’re stronger together…or apart.

Warning: Contains sex in a Tesla, sex in a cupboard, sex under a piano, kinky role play, and a cappella RuPaul songs. Just a couple of boys groping, battling, then finally loving their way to becoming me.

Review

This is book three in a series, and while technically it can be read on it’s own, it is definitely much better read – in order – as part of the series.

We met Elijah in book 2. He was the son of the crazed religious zealots who was a rent boy, homeless on the streets of the city for awhile, and then Aaron’s roommate. His folks got crazy when they found out he’d only “faked” being converted back from being gay and was, in fact, still gay – and attempted to shoot him! Baz, who we’ve also met before, got in the way of the bullet and sustained an injury but survived to add another scar to his repertoire.

Baz is the poor rich boy whose parents are the “Illinois equivalent to the Kennedy’s”. He was bashed as a teenager and is now crippled sometimes with chronic pain and eye difficulties.

Baz and Elijah had actually met before all the shooting when Baz had rescued Elijah from a trick gone bad and sent Elijah back to the evil parents.

Ok – now here we are today at Walter and Kelly’s wedding (woot!). Elijah is depressed. Baz is depressed. Elijah has a super crush on Baz and Baz is always “worried” about Elijah’s well-being.

They hook up. (Mild form of saying they have super-hot-monkey-sex in Baz’s new Tesla!) From there on the two are mostly on again/ off again lovers then boyfriends.

But… there’s a lot of drama. Elijah has so much guilt surrounding his “Poor Elijah” fund that he takes on a sucky food service job to allay the guilt (though he doesn’t need the cash.)

Baz is feeling unsettled because all his friends are “growing up” without him and graduating and now he needs to decide what he wants to do with his life.

Plus the media is in a frenzy because Baz’s mother and uncle are making moves in the political arena that put Baz and his life in the spotlight.

Elijah’s still in the news from being the victim of his crazed parents but he’s also now dating Baz and that isn’t good for the campaign – what with his background and such.

And… there’s Lewis/Lejla the almost trans friend Elijah makes while doing dishes.

So… lots of stuff and a little bit of the music scene too.

Eventually, they get it all sorted (of course they do!) and find their own version of the Disney Princess Happy Ending – and we get to see Laurie and Ed again! (Woo Hoo!)

**

Wow – I get it now. Even in summarizing this story I have to include many, many, many words!

This is a long story – 355 pages as compared to the 270 of book 2, but not as many as the 379 of book 1. There is a lot – a lot– of detail and a lot of drama.

But… there are a lot – a lot – of feels, too.

I really love Heidi Cullinan’s characters. They are rich, flawed – very flawed sometimes – real, emotive, charismatic, sometimes cantankerous yet charming, and very well developed. Even if you hadn’t read about them before, you know by the end of the book that you have a solid sense of each of these MCs as well as their cadre of friends.

She also has a way of taking these guys through some really awful stuff and making it seem manageable in a way that is realistic. No quick fixes or band-aids, but hard work and sacrifice. (For the most part – see the end for what I mean.)

In this book, we also have some seriously HOT sex, too. These boys can be DIRTY and it shows! But – somehow – it’s also very loving and revealing and tender at the same time.

I absolutely adored Lewis/Lejla and I hope s/he might be featured more in future works. Her story was so honest and heart-felt and really high-lighted some of the difficulties in actually becoming trans that get sort of swept away with the whole emotional process.

Of course it was so great to see our friends Walter and Kelly, Aaron and Giles again – moving on with life and being cute with each other. And the extra-special I about smiled my face off – Laurie and Ed from Dance With Me! Squeeee! I love that book and I LOVE those guys! I was stoked when Ed kinda put the eye on Baz but then said he had enough man waiting on him at home! Whoo-ee. Love those two!

I had just a few issues with this book.

First – the length. I really and truly felt it could have been shortened without losing any of the specialness. It felt – at times – like we were accounting for every minute of every day and every emotion either boy felt. A lot of the “agonizing in my head” stuff both Elijah and Baz did really could have been summarized because by the end I kind of felt bashed on the head with it. And I’m not sure that I needed to know every feature of the Tesla to appreciate that it was fancy and expensive. And I didn’t need to know every decoration on every table at the wedding. And I didn’t need to know about every movie made by Miyazaki.

Second- the ending. I’m going to sound hypocritical here but stay with me a moment when I say that the ending was too rushed. We spent agonizingly long pages outlining Baz’s pain and lack of direction and tons of time hearing Elijah’s self-deprecating and clearly depressed inner workings and in the span of only a handful of pages those two major problems are seemingly solved by bumping into the right guy at the right time and agreeing to eat more healthy and limit the cigarettes and alcohol.
Of course I’m being glib, but it felt that way. Especially Elijah’s part of the equation. I just didn’t buy that he would full scale decide he had everything to live for, reject drugs as a method of self-medicating, and embrace this new, organic, yoga-filled life when he’d been the poster child for self-destruction not 20 pages ago.
I think, realistically, long-term, intense therapy, AND some significant life-style changes over a long period might grant him some relief…

I mean, I really appreciated the sensitivity that Heidi shows around chronic pain (both with Ed and Laurie and now Baz and Elijah) and how a person’s definition of “sexual intercourse” can be different based on fulfilling different needs. So, maybe a bit more attention to the importance of in-depth psychotherapy for someone whose parents SHOT at you is warranted.

However – by large margins my complaints are pretty minimal in the face of how much I did appreciate where this book goes and the overall feeling of happiness that we end up with for these two very, very lost boys.

I highly recommend it to fans of the series and for those who might want to read it on it’s own I say Go For It! It’s really good, Heidi is a phenomenal writer and despite being a bit wordy, the ride is absolutely worth the time it takes.

4.5 of 5 stars

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This copy was generously provided by the Publisher through NetGalley

To buy

Samhain Presents
http://www.heidicullinan.com/Lonely-Hearts

Categories
adult - 18+ Audiobook Bodyguard Book Contemporary Cop/Crime Gay m/m Mid level angst Mid level steam/heat Novel 140 pgs + (80K + words) Part of a Series Purchased Romance

Guarding Morgan: Sanctuary, Book 1 by RJ Scott Narrated by Sean Crisden

guarding morganBlurb

Morgan Drake is the only witness to a murder in an alleyway. Nik Valentinov works for Sanctuary, a foundation offering witness protection to anyone whose safety is compromised. Morgan discovers a bodyguard’s arms can offer more than protection.
Morgan is the only person who can give evidence for prosecuting the cop responsible for the crime. When the FBI safe house where he’s being held is compromised, he follows the instructions of the agent in charge and runs.
Nik Valentinov works for Sanctuary, a foundation that offers witness protection when FBI security is questionable.
When Morgan’s handler sends him to Nik for safety, neither Morgan nor Nik could imagine that two weeks alone in a cabin in the woods would have their hearts racing with something much more than merely trying to keep Morgan alive.

Review

Morgan runs away from his safe house where someone has compromised and injured his FBI protector. Luckily there’s a backup plan and Nik and Sanctuary is on deck to take over when the FBI fails.

Nik is exhausted from having just finished an assignment but he can’t tell his friend Taylor from the FBI no.

Nik and Morgan find the safehouse and begin the long wait for the trial that will hopefully end Morgan’s confinement, but it’s not easy. Morgan is worried about his safety and having nightmares from the murder he witnessed.

Nik doesn’t want to compromise Morgan’s safety but he can’t deny the attraction between the two.

Ultimately they give in to attraction but lust and maybe even love isn’t enough to keep them safe.

When Morgan is injured Nik runs away, thinking himself a failure. But Morgan won’t give up easily.

**

I thought that this was a fun and sexy, mostly light hearted listen. Sean Crisden is one of my favorite narrators and he always does a fantastic job with the growly alphas and the smokin’ sex scenes.

This is a great start to a new series.

4 of 5 stars for the book and the narration

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(Copy purchased for review)

To Buy:Love Lane Books Limited Presents

http://www.audible.com/pd/Fiction/Guarding-Morgan-Audiobook/B00WNBIKMY/ref=a_search_c4_1_1_srTtl?qid=1439753785&sr=1-1

Categories
adult - 18+ Bi-Sexual Contemporary Dreamspinner Exploration Gay GFY/OFY m/m May/December May/December Mid level steam/heat Mild level angst Part of a Series Purchased Short Story 1-20 pages (1-5k words) Sports Virgin

Fragile by Monika Krasnorada

fragileBlurb

Part of the First Time For Everything Daily Dose 2011 collection

Dr. Andy Jameson considers the job of team physician for a regional college football team to be the perfect prelude to a specialized residency. But tending to injuries suffered during the brutal, full-contact sport is nothing compared to the injury he inflicts upon himself by falling in love with the ruggedly handsome head coach, Erik Sheridan. Andy’s content to love from afar until he literally sees the writing on the wall-a message hastily scrawled on the coach’s bathroom mirror-and realizes his last night on the job could be just the beginning of a life with the man he loves.

 

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(Fan Art by Karrie Jax)

Review

This is a delightful example of just how a short story should be!

In only 23 pages Monika Krasnorada shows us (emphasis on shows) that Dr. Andy has had a long time crush on the “straight” college football coach he works for as a team doctor.

Today is his last day serving the team and he’s sad and also longing for the ability to do something about his attraction.

Meanwhile the coach might have something to say about this attraction and how he goes about letting the Doc know… so sweet, so awesome!

Obviously we only get a small glimpse of this couple. But it’s enough to show us that the coach is new to gay sex, which I am sure they experimented with even more with help from videos at teentuber.xxx or places similar. The two men really match well together and the thought of long term and forever is definitely there.

5 of 5 stars

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(Copy purchased for review)

To Buy

Dreamspinner Presents

http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=2357

Categories
adult - 18+ Book Contemporary Gay Homophobia Length m/m May/December May/December Mid level angst Mid level steam/heat Novella 20-160 pgs (20k-40k words) Part of a Series Purchased

Clarity of Lines (Thomas Elkin #2) by NR Walker

clarity of linesBlurb

Sometimes it’s not the two people in a relationship who fight falling in love, sometimes it’s those who love us that fight against it the most.

Finally together, forty-four year old Tom, and twenty-two year old Cooper, are ready to show the world they’re together. They’ve established their relationship is worth it, and want to share it with their families.

Both men thought accepting the age difference was their adversity to overcome, and theirs alone.

Their loved ones, however, will prove them wrong.

For their families, lines are drawn and start blur. Through a series of events, life shakes Tom’s foundations, the lines for him have never been clearer.

Review

In book two Tom and Cooper are established as a couple, but there are obstacles to overcome.

Tom and his ex-wife and son. Cooper and his friends and his family.

Tom and Cooper also have to work out living arrangements. Tom just can’t quite find the words to convince Cooper to move into his apartment.

**

In a lovely extension we get to move into the meat and potatoes of their relationship. Beyond the heat of attraction into the seriousness and the emotion.

I really love how NR Walker allows us to see her characters grow and change as the relationship changes. In this case using Tom’s asking Cooper to move in with him as a way to guage where he’s at emotionally is a very clever tool that both illustrates that Tom may still have some reservations about opening his heart and Cooper might also still be craving some independence.

The smexy times are super hot, too!

This is a wonderful sequel and the new cover is beautiful!

5 of 5 stars

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(Copy purchased for review)

To Buy:

Pride Publishing Presents
https://www.pride-publishing.com/book/clarity-of-lines

Categories
adult - 18+ Book Contemporary Exploration Friends to lovers Gay Homophobia Hurt/Abuse m/m Mid level angst Mid level steam/heat Mild/low level heat Novel 140 pgs + (80K + words) Part of a Series Purchased

Served Hot (Portland Heat #1) by Annabeth Albert

served hotBlurb

In Portland, Oregon, the only thing hotter than the coffee shops, restaurants, and bakeries are the hard-working men who serve it up—hot, fresh, and ready to go—with no reservations…

Robby is a self-employed barista with a busy coffee cart, a warm smile, and a major crush on one of his customers. David is a handsome finance director who works nearby, eats lunch by himself, and expects nothing but “the usual”—small vanilla latte—from the cute guy in the cart. But when David shows up for his first Portland Pride festival, Robby works up the nerve to take their slow-brewing relationship to the next level. David, however, is newly out and single, still grieving the loss of his longtime lover, and unsure if he’s ready to date again. Yet with every fresh latte, sweet exchange—and near hook-up—David and Robby go from simmering to steaming to piping hot. The question is: Will someone get burned?

Review

Robby is a guy who can’t get a break in the boyfriend department – that’s all he wants, but he can’t find a permanent guy. He’s in a great place to find love, Portland, OR – and he’s had quite a few try-outs, but none who are perfect.

David is a “just out of the closet” coffee drinker who casually pushes all Robby’s buttons. They sort of flirt with one another for weeks and months then at a Pride Fest Parade they kiss and thus start their “relationship.”

Here’s the main problem: David doesn’t know how to be in an “out” relationship, his last partner died while in complete denial that they were even “dating”. Robby has so many insecurities that he hesitates to ask for or expect what he wants and deserves. So… for weeks and months more the relationship very (agonizingly) slowly moves forward.

Something’s gotta break though, because Robby can only stand in the shadows so long before he’s going to run.

Luckily – David gets his act together before it all ends in tears.

**

What I loved about this:
The writing: crisp, clear, subtle artistry, deliberate and evocative.
The setting: I loved how well Annabeth described Portlandia. From the gentrification of Alberta to the coffee snobbery to the hipsters on every corner.
The characters: Each was a very three-dimensional person and intriguing on their own merits.

What I didn’t love:
The fact that if Robby had only spoken up so much could have been resolved. It felt a bit contrived, though it did make some sense given his dating history.

All in all it was a wonderful first novel (for me) from this author and I will absolutely be looking for more from her and the series!

4.5 of 5 stars

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To buy

http://www.amazon.com/Served-Portland-Heat-Annabeth-Albert-ebook/dp/B00ONTR778/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

(Copy purchased for review)

Categories
adult - 18+ Audiobook Contemporary Dreamspinner Friends to lovers Gay m/m Mid level steam/heat Mild level angst Novella 20-160 pgs (20k-40k words) Part of a Series Purchased

Just Desserts Audiobook by Mary Calmes Narrated by Greg Tremblay

just desserts audioBlurb

Boone Walton has tried hard to create some distance between himself and his past. He’s invested in his new life, his New Orleans art gallery, and his friendship with Scott Wren. Things finally seem to be settling down to normal, and Boone couldn’t be happier.

Chef Scott Wren wants much more than normal with Boone. He wants to raise things to the next level, but Boone is terrified—and not because of the ghost in Scott’s apartment or Scott’s relatives. No, Boone’s past is about to pay him a visit, and the only thing that can get between Boone, Scott, and a hinky recipe for chocolate mousse found in a curious cookbook is the river of pain Boone had to swim across to get to this side of The Big Easy. There’s a secret behind the ingredients, though—one that might reveal the trust and love that have been missing from Boone’s life.

Review
(Book review previously seen on kimichanexperience.com)
Boone’s heart was broken years ago and he hasn’t let anyone in since. His buddy, Scott, captures his interest, but he’s a player and Boone can’t risk that kind of hurt again.

When it finally looks like the player might settle down, Boone realizes he can’t let Scott go to someone else and together they embark on the relationship both had been pining for, for years.

This is another wonderful Mary Calmes love story, full of clueless MCs, tough guys, friendship, laughter, well structured secondary characters and hot sex. Add to it the Yakuza, NOLA and some amazing chocolate mousse and you have Just Desserts!

Audio

Greg Tremblay has done it again. He is such an amazing performer! He always adds to the story and brings it to life.  I ADORE the lovemaking scenes and he’s always so great with secondary characters and unique accents.  Simply wonderful!

5 of 5 stars

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To Buy
http://www.audible.com/pd/Fiction/Just-Desserts-Audiobook/B013PUKEE8

(Copy purchased for review.)

Categories
adult - 18+ Age Group Book Contemporary Gay m/m May/December May/December Mid level angst Mid level steam/heat Novella 20-160 pgs (20k-40k words) Part of a Series Purchased Romance Time Period

Elements of Retrofit (Thomas Elkins Series Book 1) NR Walker

elemets retrofitBlurb

Book one in the Thomas Elkin series
Generation versus generation, traditional versus contemporary, these men are about to learn a lesson in architecture and love. Can they prove that the old and new can be the perfect design?
A successful New York architect, Thomas Elkin almost has it all. Coming out as gay and ending his marriage before his fortieth birthday, he needed to start living his life. Now, four years later, with his relationship with his son back on track, and after a few short-lived romances, this esteemed traditional draftsman thinks he knows everything about architecture, about life.
Cooper Jones, twenty-two years old, is about to take the architect world by storm. Talented, professional, driven and completely infuriating, Cooper is the definition of Generation Y.
Starting an internship working with Thomas, Cooper is about to knock Tom’s world off its axis. Tom can teach Cooper about the architecture industry, but Cooper is about to teach Tom what it means to live.
Review

Thomas Elkins got married young to a woman he mostly loved, they had a wonderful son but then Tom realized as he got older that his love of men could no longer be denied. He got divorced, moved out and moved on.

Now, he lives his life as a rather famous architect in a lonely apartment in NYC, neither miserable nor happy.

One day his son brings home a friend, a very cute, very interested and interesting friend. Eye-ball messages may have been exchanged, but really, Tom thought nothing of it. He’s 22 years older than the guy for Pete’s sake!

When that friend, Cooper, ends up being Tom’s new intern, trouble really starts showing up.

Cooper is 22, trying to make the best impression he can on an icon in the industry who also turns out to be his friend’s father and a super-hot-newly-out-gay-guy!

Cooper doesn’t back down from a challenge and when he notices the looks Tom inadvertently sends his way, not to mention the fact that the two can talk for hours without missing a beat, and the fact that he’s smokin’ hot… he decides to go for it.

What happens next is the two men making room in their lives for a less-than-usual relationship, in a dangerous-for-them environment.

Tom is afraid he’s too old. Cooper doesn’t know what a real relationship even looks like. Tom is scared that Cooper might be using him for his prestige. Cooper is worried he’ll never measure up or be thought of as an equal. Both are afraid of getting caught by their friends and family.

In the end (part one that is) they decide to dive in and make a go of it because what they feel is too wild and amazing to dismiss.

**

This is the first series I read by NR Walker. I have to admit that I avoided it for a long time mainly due to the name. It felt – stodgy. When I read the blurb I was worried it was going to be a very weird father figure type romance due to the tremendously large age gap.

BOY was I wrong. NR Walker is an amazing writer. Her stories simply flow off the page and into your heart. She creates these REAL characters with heart, and flaws, and compassion and fears and then shows us how they can grow/change/heal in the new relationships they forge.

Tom is kind of … boring. He doesn’t take a lot of chances in the personal department and has gotten lackadaisical at work. He’s… comfortable.
Cooper comes along and messes that right up!

Cooper is young, but way older than his years. Sure, he messes up and acts his “age” sometimes, but for the most these two guys are really well suited and never did I feel like there was a father figure vibe whatsoever.  (Amen to the differences between Gen X and Gen Y!)

The sexual chemistry between them is scorching hot, but has elements of realism too. The boundaries they set and the expectations.

All in all I absolutely loved this book (and series) and am happy to promote the new cover!

6 of 5 stars

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To Buy:  http://www.amazon.com/Elements-Retrofit-Thomas-Elkin-Book-ebook/dp/B013E7UN8O/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1439500494&sr=8-1&keywords=elements+of+retrofit+walker