Romance Redefined by SJD Peterson

release day review

Dreamspinner Presents
https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/romance-redefined-by-sjd-peterson-9099-

Blurb

Opposites attract, but are some differences too drastic for a romance to survive?

On the surface, Benson Howard Winthrop III and Hugh Bayard have a lot in common: they’re young, handsome, and blessed to be one of the wealthiest couples in the country. Surely they have everything anyone could want. But Ben is no longer satisfied with their long-running relationship. Hugh’s need to control every situation is suffocating him, and Ben needs to know if he can make it on his own merits by following his passion.

But Ben’s mother isn’t about to let her son live in a rundown apartment as a struggling actor. She’s determined to get him back to his rightful place at the top of the social ladder—and back with Hugh.

Rekindling their romance will require more than doing what’s expected. Ben and Hugh need to understand and embrace each other’s differences. They’ll have to support each other even when one makes a decision the other doesn’t agree with. For their passionate love to grow, they will need to redefine the meaning of romance… only then can they find true happiness

Review
Whilst reading I kept wavering between thinking that Benson was whiny and just didn’t know what he really wanted to thinking he was justified. He needed to cut his losses if Hugh would not or could not see his point of view and open up. There is also the irony of Ben complaining about his mother when he was behaving just like her and shutting Hugh out. But love is love and Ben and Hugh have a forever love, they just had to understand what each other needs emotionally. Into the equation comes Jason. He is very interested in Ben and romances him in they way Ben has always wanted. But is romance what he really wants or is it for Hugh to change. SJD Peterson’s books always give me pause for thought. In this case Hugh and Ben have everything money can buy but not companionship. Ben feels like he is being controlled and has to leave and make his own life. The story is told from Ben’s point of view and I cannot decide whether this helped me empathise with him or whether it would have worked better knowing what was going on in Hugh’s mind. The love triangle with Jason is needed to spur Hugh on and make him reconsider Ben’s position. I would love for Jason to get his own story. The epilogue does give Ben and Hugh their happy ever after once they realised compromises had to be made by both of them. I think this is quite a good second chance story.

4 of stars out of 5

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Spark by HJ Welch

release day review
Good Reads Link:
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36554882-spar

Blurb

Homecoming Hearts #2

Joey’s dreams are over. His band, Below Zero, is dead and gone. He knows he’s destined for stardom, but showbiz is tough and he has nowhere to go but the last place on Earth he ever wanted to be: home. His homophobic family have spent their lives trying to tear him down. Now all they will do is gloat over his fall from grace.

Gabe loves his town. He thought he had it all: a man he loved, purpose as a volunteer firefighter, and a home to call his own. Except now he’s alone, forced to try and rebuild from scratch. But how can he start over when his heart is already broken?

An unexpected road trip brings Joey and Gabe together and the sparks fly between them, but it can’t last. Their worlds are too different. Joey plans to get as far away from home as soon as he can, yet Gabe can’t imagine any other life. But when Joey hits rock bottom, Gabe is the only one who can save him. Protect him. Keep him warm.

Gabe’s saved lives before. But can he rescue hearts?

Review
The way Joey has been treated all his life colours his perspective on his current situation. He has reached a low point and as much as he wants to pull himself back up life seems to be holding him down. Gabe on the other hand is all about seeing the good and the potential in a situation. Even his previous relationship seemed to have been held together more by hope than love. HJ Welch certainly knows how to tug on your heartstrings. Such a rollercoaster of emotions. Joey is determined to be self sufficient and not seeing things clearly just leads to more heartache. Poor Gabe, people can be so cruel. He is also caught up in slander and misconceptions. Their relationship seems to be about miscommunications and misunderstanding each other. Joey needs to learn he can trust Gabe. They can be so good together. I enjoyed the first book Scorch and in my view this one is just as good, if not better. (Although this is the second book it does stand on its own.) There is a lot more angst and tension and on occasion I wanted to shake some sense into them.The kind of story I can get caught up in. They came to their senses in the end and all ended the way it should. I was glad to see cameos from Blake and Elion (book 1) and from another former bandmate Raiden. I’m looking forward to seeing where the next book takes us.

5 of stars out of 5

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Audiobook: Fool of Main Beach (Love in Laguna #5) by Tara Lain Narrated by KC Kelly

audiobookreview

Dreamspinner Presents
https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/fool-of-main-beach-by-tara-lain-8782-b

Blurb

Merle Justice wants to reach for the stars, but it’s tough to get respect when playing a teenybopper vampire on TV. Then he meets a famous director anxious to give him all he thinks he wants—and maybe a bit more. Everything’s looking up until a life-threatening encounter with some homophobes on Main Beach puts Merle face-to-face with a Sasquatch-sized hero in a pink puffer coat.

Tom Henry defies description. As unsophisticated and simple as an angel, he walks through life content with who he is and asking for very little except to care for his sister, Lily, and the dogs he loves. Then he meets Merle, the embodiment of dreams he barely knows he has. Merle knows the people who hold his future in their hands might love Tom—but they’ll never understand Merle and Tom together. Tom knows it too. With lives this far apart, who’s really the fool of Main Beach?

Review

(Book Reviewed Here Previously)

I LOVED THIS!

Tom is sooooo freakin’ adorable and Merle is (almost) perfect for him!

There were so many times that I was absolutely BAWLING while I read this. Poor Tom had such a low opinion of himself and I was HATING Merle for not seeing how fabulous he was for such a long time! I was also furious with Tom’s sister and – the fact that I felt all those emotions so strongly goes to show just what a great job Tara Lain did!

I have to admit, it was a close call – Merle ALMOST didn’t make me love him. He’s pretty self-involved and I wasn’t ever as attached to him as I was to Tom – BUT – he does manage to see the light and make me believe that he’s good enough for Tom by the end. (However, if he’d done a bit more groveling this might have been a 6 star book 😉 )

This book had me right from the start and I couldn’t put it down. I was totally invested in Tom’s happiness and I wanted to see him find his true love so badly! It was great seeing some of the previous MCs from the series – but this was Tom’s story (more than Merle’s) and for that it was perfect!

If you’re a fan of the series or new to it, you’re going to want to read this. For fans of hurt/comfort or books about people with disabilities I think this will absolutely make your day. I think Tara did a great job of not actually ever “labeling” Tom and yet it’s clear what his situation is.

Usually I’m not a “Hollywood/Actor” fan – and this was still amazing!

Highly recommended!

(I love the cover too!)

 

Audio

What a great choice for narration!!!  KC Kelly has narrated a few books where the main character has a unique speech pattern and I’m always impressed by his ability to do this.  (I LOVED this:  https://www.audible.com/pd/Fiction/Ethan-Who-Loved-Carter-Audiobook/B00K7PMJZC/ref=a_search_c4_1_20_srTtl?qid=1510505353&sr=1-20)  In this case he chose a perfect, subtle, wonderful voice for Tom and picked just a slightly more frenetic voice and not “lispy” at all – for Merle.  

KC is not only great at choosing these voices but at carrying off the emotion, whether it’s the passion, the humor, the anger – he’s excellent!

Highly Recommended!

5 of 5 stars

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Holidays: Twinkle Star by Nicki James

Amazon Link

https://www.amazon.com/Twinkle-Star-Nicky-James-ebook/dp/B07747V76C/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1510510696&sr=8-1&keywords=twinkle+star+by+nicky+james

Free on KU!

Blurb

Meet The Cast

Julian – Desert Dreams stagehand. Sexy, tall, manly, and deeply closeted. Age, 35.

Twinkle Star – Over-the-top, vibrant, and flamboyant actor. Age, 25.

It’s the last show of the season before Julian gets a much needed Christmas break… What could go wrong?
When diva actor Twinkle Star makes his appearance… life for Julian may never be the same.
Julian’s life demands subtlety, but when your secret is Twinkle Star, things get complicated.

Review

A closeted gay man falls for a diva called Twinkle Star. Just imagine how while working together. Julian tries to hide it from everyone else on the cast and crew of the small theater, but mostly from himself.
The author did a good job of telling the story. She set it up to happen in a 2week window and each chapter is the next day. You just feel for Julian. He has hidden all of his life. Sawyer, Twinkle Star, couldn’t hide if he tried. As things progress through the story Julian wants to be a better man, but it takes 2 major events to finally get him to admit to himself and his friends and colleagues he is gay.
The sexy times were plentiful and hot!

4 of 5 stars

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Copy Purchased for Review

 

Spooky! The Ghost Slept Over by Marshall Thornton

 MLR Press
https://www.amazon.com/Ghost-Slept-Over-Marshall-Thornton-ebook/dp/B00QRI60CG/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1508108910&sr=8-1&keywords=the+ghost+slept+over

Blurb

 A ghostly romantic triangle!
When failed actor Cal Parsons travels to rural New York to claim the estate of his famous and estranged ex-partner he discovers something he wasn’t expecting…the ghost of his ex! And, worse, his ex invites Cal to join him for all eternity. Now. As Cal attempts to rid himself of the ghost by any means he begins to fall for the attractive attorney representing the estate. Will Cal be able to begin a new relationship or will he be seduced into the ever after?

 

 

 

Review

I had a lot of fun reading this! The story centres on a struggling actor (Cal), his dead ex (McCormack), who refuses to stay dead and the lawyer dealing with the McCormack’s estate, (Dewitt).
Cal and McCormack had been lovers years before, but had broken up (McCormack’s decision). When McCormack dies, he wills his estate to Cal who moves into his dead lover’s house while dealing with the inheritance. Cal finds himself dealing with the estate lawyer, the local theatre group and with his ex-lover – who wants Cal to ‘join him on the other side! This is not a scary read, but it is a bit unnerving to have a ghost dogging your every step, especially if you’re trying to ‘get it on’ with your new love interest ☺
The local play group come with their own agenda and Cal begins to think that selling everything and leaving may be the best way to go. Between himself and Dewitt, things get sorted out to the satisfaction of all involved – all without Cal having to die ☺
The plot is clever, almost reminiscent of old comedies of the 40’s and 50’s, (think The Ghost and Mrs. Muir).
Funny, romantic comedy; definitely recommend!

4 stars out of 5

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Copy Purchased for Review

(Don’t forget – commenters on this month’s “spooky reviews” will be entered to win some Jordan L Hawk swag or $15 from Dreamspinner!)

 

   

 

Back to School Month: Temptation by Design by Andrea Dalling

 

 

Amazon Link

https://www.amazon.com/Temptation-Design-Andrea-Dalling-ebook/dp/B01MXVCHW1/ref=sr_1_5?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1505409187&sr=1-5&keywords=temptation+by+design

Free!

 

Blurb:

Forbidden attraction…
Shakespeare professor Ben Silver teaches in a small college town with few prospects for love. Most gay men he meets are students and off-limits. That’s never been a problem until architecture major Chase takes over set design for the college production of Macbeth. Older than most college juniors, his maturity and leadership skills—not to mention his smoking-hot body—capture Ben’s attention. But a tryst could ruin Ben’s career, and he can’t risk it.

Awakening desire…
Former petty officer Chase Coltrane understands fraternization rules. His years in the Navy taught him to keep his hands to himself, especially where people in authority are concerned. But when Ben ignites Chase’s attraction to men, Chase’s self-control heads out to sea. He wants to explore this newly discovered part of himself, and the sexy, charismatic professor has tied knots around his heart. Will his desperate attempt to win the man he loves destroy their future? Or will it lead them on a path to lasting love?

Review:
I had a love/hate relationship with this book. I loved how the two MC’s fit so well to each other. I loved that they just couldn’t keep away from each other and I loved how accepting and open minded Chase’s parents were.
I hated that it truly seemed like an insta love. I hated that there was really no second guessing by Chase on his sexuality. And I hated that they thought jumping into a marriage would solve their problem.
That said we have a story of a tenured professor and a 29 year old student who seem to get caught up in each other. They have to work closely in a school production and the looks between them get hotter and hotter until they kiss. From there it’s downhill. Fraternization is frowned on severely at this small east coast school. Add in a student who keeps quoting her ethics class and you have 2 guys trying hard not to show their attraction. The story moved along smoothly and evenly, keeping me engrossed until the end

This was a quick read and a HEA for the couple. Overall I enjoyed the story and would consider reading more from the author.

4 of 5 stars

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Copy Purchased for Review

Yanni’s Story (Spencer Cohen #4) by N.R. Walker

Amazon Link

Free on KU!

Blurb

When Yanni Tomaras is kicked out of his family home, his parents’ final words are religious insults and an order to never return. Homeless and desperate, he’s lured in by Lance—charming on the outside, an evil predator underneath—who abuses Yanni until he finds the courage to leave.

Yanni should feel free. But by the time Spencer Cohen finds him, he’s resigned to being handed back to Lance and once again being caged by fear.

Starting school and a part-time job, Yanni begins to reclaim his life. But a love for silent films leads him to Peter Hannikov, a man with a kind heart but who’s twice his age. An unlikely friendship between them blooms into so much more. Neither man knows what he wants, at first. Finding out exactly what he needs is Yanni’s story.

“I’d spent years as a bird, caged with my wings clipped, tormented and beaten.

I thought I’d escaped when I’d left my abuser, but in hindsight, I could see that I was still caged, this time by fear and self-doubt.

Spencer and Andrew, and Andrew’s parents, opened the door to the cage that confined me.

But it was Peter who taught me how to fly.”

Trigger Warning: Descriptions of violence, suicide, and sexual assault. Reader discretion advised.

Review by Mary

Yianni is a character from book 2 and the timeline runs along books 2 and three. In my opinion it can work as a standalone. As would be expected it is written from Yanni’s point of view. There is little to no angst and I like like that it is a positive story about Yanni pulling his life back together. When they first meet neither Yanni or Peter are in the right place for a romantic relationship but a close friendship develops from shared interests. Liked the pace of the story. I appreciate the slow burn of the impending deeper relationship given what Yanni escaped from and Peter only recently coming out of a relationship.
There is daddy kink in the story rather than just a May/December relationship which sort of surprised me. It comes from the security and nurturing angle of the kink rather than sexual games or the desire to dominate. That’s not to say they aren’t equal in the relationship because they are. It’s definitely not about control. I think this sums up Yanni’s feelings for Peter He was a pillar of warmth and strength and everything my soul craved. Such beautiful writing, so evocative.
The support characters really stand out and each one has a role, whether intentional or not in Yanni’s recovery. Andrew’s parents enfold Yanni into a family he so desperately needs and his house mates provide the understanding friendship. Whilst his work colleagues help to re-enforce his confidence.
I wasn’t sure what to make of this story when I started but as I went on I found it to be a beautiful story of healing, not just for Yanni but also for Peter, and quite thought provoking.

4.5 of 5 stars

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Review by Beth

This is a sweet story about a man, Yanni, who removes himself from an abusive relationship and the struggles he goes through to regain his feelings of self worth. All of the supporting characters are kind and generous, supportive of Yanni’s recovery.

The story shows us how much an abusive relationship can really warp your self worth. Depending how long the situation lasted, the more it seems the victim feels he isn’t worth redemption. The author takes us through many of the steps to recovery letting us root for Yanni to recover each small step he takes.

Then we have Peter who is mildly into the daddy aspect of BDSM. An older man who likes younger men. He and Yanni discover they have a lot of the same interests. Peter doesn’t learn of the extent of abuse Yanni had gone through until about half way through the story, yet he is kind and gentle in general.

The sex is sweet when it finally happens. And all the Daddy/boy play is very, very subtle.

The story moved at a pace that was appropriate for the content. I read this in pretty much 1 sitting, wanting to see how the story progressed.

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Review by Morgan

I want to start by stating that I’m a big NR Walker fan, and I have LOVED pretty much everything she ever wrote. Mostly. But this wasn’t my favorite, unfortunately, it just hit me wrong, and I couldn’t get over the “daddy” kink. I think that’s pretty mild and only people really sensitive to the issue will notice – but that was my overshadowing impression.

I really loved the series and was happy to see Spencer again! But I wasn’t that involved in this story as I have been in the past.

The writing was good and I’m still a super fan!

3 of 5 stars

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Fool of Main Beach (Love in Laguna #5) by Tara Lain

release day review

Dreamspinner Presents
https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/fool-of-main-beach-by-tara-lain-8782-b

Blurb

Merle Justice wants to reach for the stars, but it’s tough to get respect when playing a teenybopper vampire on TV. Then he meets a famous director anxious to give him all he thinks he wants—and maybe a bit more. Everything’s looking up until a life-threatening encounter with some homophobes on Main Beach puts Merle face-to-face with a Sasquatch-sized hero in a pink puffer coat.

Tom Henry defies description. As unsophisticated and simple as an angel, he walks through life content with who he is and asking for very little except to care for his sister, Lily, and the dogs he loves. Then he meets Merle, the embodiment of dreams he barely knows he has. Merle knows the people who hold his future in their hands might love Tom—but they’ll never understand Merle and Tom together. Tom knows it too. With lives this far apart, who’s really the fool of Main Beach?

Review

I LOVED THIS!

Tom is sooooo freakin’ adorable and Merle is (almost) perfect for him!

There were so many times that I was absolutely BAWLING while I read this. Poor Tom had such a low opinion of himself and I was HATING Merle for not seeing how fabulous he was for such a long time! I was also furious with Tom’s sister and – the fact that I felt all those emotions so strongly goes to show just what a great job Tara Lain did!

I have to admit, it was a close call – Merle ALMOST didn’t make me love him. He’s pretty self-involved and I wasn’t ever as attached to him as I was to Tom – BUT – he does manage to see the light and make me believe that he’s good enough for Tom by the end. (However, if he’d done a bit more groveling this might have been a 6 star book 😉 )

This book had me right from the start and I couldn’t put it down. I was totally invested in Tom’s happiness and I wanted to see him find his true love so badly! It was great seeing some of the previous MCs from the series – but this was Tom’s story (more than Merle’s) and for that it was perfect!

If you’re a fan of the series or new to it, you’re going to want to read this. For fans of hurt/comfort or books about people with disabilities I think this will absolutely make your day. I think Tara did a great job of not actually ever “labeling” Tom and yet it’s clear what his situation is.

Usually I’m not a “Hollywood/Actor” fan – and this was still amazing!

Highly recommended!

(I love the cover too!)

5 of 5 stars

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Get a Grip (Bluewater Bay #19) by L.A. Witt

Riptide Presents

http://riptidepublishing.com/titles/get-a-grip

Blurb

If a tree falls in Bluewater Bay . . . could it be fate?

A year after his divorce, Shane Andrews isn’t interested in dating—not that he has time, between three kids and a demanding job as a grip. When a windstorm knocks a tree onto one of the Wolf’s Landing soundstages, Shane’s there to help with the mess . . . and so is firefighter Aaron Tucker.

A former smoke jumper, Aaron’s an adrenaline junkie and way too restless and reckless to be relationship material. As far as he’s concerned, monogamy is for penguins, and he’d rather be alone than tied down. Signing up to be a stepparent? No, thank you.

But after a scorching-hot night together, they’re hooked. Aaron is a taste of the excitement Shane’s been lacking, and Shane’s pushing buttons Aaron didn’t know he had. The more they’re together, the less Aaron craves wild nights with other men . . . but the more Shane wants to play the field like he never got to in his twenties.

This could be the love neither man knew he needed, but only if Shane gets his feet back on the ground before Aaron walks away.

Review

I’ve not always had the best of luck with this series, but I was really attracted to this because it has some older MCs. (I’m a sucker for those!) And a family, too!

What I liked about this was the sincere emotions that flowed between our guys throughout most of the book. (Of course it was super annoying when they kept ignoring the obvious…but, hey, that’s what kept me turning pages!)

Witt is amazing when it comes to hot sex scenes and there are plenty here! But she’s also great at giving us really relatable characters with real life problems without bringing it to the level of mundane. (I loved that the ‘ex’ is still part of the picture!)

You don’t have to be following the series at all to enjoy this (it’s really only peripherally part of the series) and I think if you like later in life / second chance love stories this will be right up your alley!

(The only thing that kept this from being a 5 star read was the soft HEA – though it felt very promising I’d have liked to see them a bit further down the road, or with a more definite “promise” if you know what I mean!)

Highly Recommended!

4.5 of 5 stars

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You Never Know by Mary Calmes

release day review

Dreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/you-never-know-by-mary-calmes-8692-b

Blurb

Hagen Wylie has it all figured out. He’s going to live in his hometown, be everybody’s friend, explore new relationships, and rebuild his life after the horrors of war. No muss, no fuss is the plan. He’s well on his way—until he finds out his first love has come home too. Hagen says it’s no big deal, but a chance encounter with Mitch Thayer’s two cute sons puts him directly in the path of the only guy he’s never gotten out of his head.

Mitch returned for three reasons: to raise his sons where he grew up, to move his furniture business and encourage it to thrive, and to win Hagen back. Years away made it perfectly clear the young man he loved in high school is the only one for him. The problem? He left town and they have not talked since.

If Hagen’s going to trust him again, Mitch needs to show him how he’s grown up and isn’t going to let go. They could have a new chance at love… but Hagen is insistent he’s not reviving a relationship with Mitch. Then again, you never know.

Review

Well, hell. You all know I’m a giant Mary Calmes fan and it pains me deeply to say – this book wasn’t for me. It can happen, I know, and I’m sure others will still love this to pieces because it’s Mary and she is fabulous after all, but this wasn’t one of my favorites.

Mary’s books are strongly character driven (for the most part) and as such you really have to love the characters to love the story. She’s done an excellent job of creating two unique characters and I really feel like I have a pretty good grasp of Hagen and where he’s at. I didn’t feel like I understood or knew Mitch as well, and that is part of my problem.

Hagen and his involvement with Ash gets a lot of page time and this relationship and how Hagen handles it didn’t sit well with me. I was kind of rooting for them to be the couple that “makes it” more than Mitch and Hagen. Ash seems infinitely redeemable and I felt like I knew him better than I knew Mitch so I was rooting for him 😉

Spoiler Inside SelectShow

Mitch hurt so many people and didn’t do nearly enough groveling to earn his way back into Hagen’s life – IMHO.

I worried for Mitch’s kids and wanted to know more about their mother and what was going on there. It made my heart hurt to think of them uprooted every 6 months.

The fact that Ash and Hagen have more on page times of intimacy (if not the full act) also felt wrong. I needed more time with Hagen and Mitch working things out to really pull for them as a couple.

So… all in all – this just didn’t fit my tastes in romance. It’s a blip and I’m sure others will love this – but it wasn’t my cup of tea.

(The cover is amazing though!!!)

2.75 (rounded to 3) of 5 stars

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