Audiobook: Coach’s Challenge (Scoring Chances #5) by Avon Gale Narrated by Scott Smith

audiobookreview

Dreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/coachs-challenge-by-avon-gale-8609-b

Blurb

It’s been decades since blackmail forced Troy Callahan to retire from playing professional hockey, and he’s built a successful career behind the bench. When he’s offered the opportunity to coach the Asheville Ravens—the most hated team in the ECHL—he’s convinced that his no-nonsense attitude is just what the team needs to put their focus back on hockey. But Troy is disheartened when he finds out the Ravens have signed Shane North, a player known for his aggression—especially when Shane’s rough good looks have Troy thinking inappropriate thoughts about a player, even if he’s set to retire at the end of the season.

Shane’s career in the majors never quite took off. Wanting to quit on his own terms, Shane agrees to a one-year contract with the Ravens and finds himself playing for a coach who thinks he’s an aging goon, and with a team that doesn’t trust him, Troy, or each other. Despite his determination not to get involved, Shane unwillingly becomes part of the team… and is just as unwillingly drawn to the gruff, out-and-proud coach. As the Ravens struggle to build a new identity, Shane and Troy succumb to the passion that might cost them everything.

Review
(Book Reviewed here previously)

Avon Gale is one of my favorite authors – ever! She is very gifted at writing humor and romance – together – which isn’t easy. But – in addition- she really knows how to pull at your heartstrings, too. And then you’re laughing through tears which is an amazing feeling.

I love her hockey series best (so far). Her love of the sport is evident and it comes through in her writing. Since I’m such a fan, it’s hard not to compare one book to the other – though each book is very different. So, I distance myself from my fangirl-love and try to look at each story on it’s own merits.

So, if I’m not comparing this story to others in the series, and I’m looking at this as a book on its own – there is absolutely no question that it was EXCELLENT! There’s a lot of humor and the hockey is good. The general storyline is also solid.

My favorite aspect of this particular couple is their need to bicker with one another. It’s pretty hysterical – and then – all of a sudden – they’re having some really hot sex! The chemistry between these guys is phenomenal. (There is a particular scene where some tender things get expressed in the middle of fight – EPIC – so funny!)

I’ll only say that the lack of a character like Lane or Max is really the only thing that makes this “not my favorite in the series”. Neither of these guys is nerdish or terribly awkward and I ADORE those types of characters, so… But that’s about it. This is wonderful and everyone who loves this series MUST read it and yet it stands alone beautifully as well.

Audio

Scott Smith is definitely growing on me. There are still some nuances to his narrative that make me a little nuts – the way his sentences and emphasized doesn’t always match how I think they should flow – but his sense of humor and his ability to make unique voices is pretty good. I definitely can listen to his books over and over and that’s huge.

Overall 4.5 of 5 stars

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Forever With you by Londra Laine

release day review

GoodReads Link
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36506668-forever-with-you?from_search=true

Blurb
Kelly Brooks Montes is only nineteen years old and just starting college in New York City when tragedy strikes, and he becomes a single dad to his toddler brother. Four years later, Kelly and his baby brother, Jaylen, are doing well, though Kelly leads a double life to make ends meet. He’s a high-level administrative assistant by day and a racy go-go boy by night. Between raising his brother, dancing, and trying not to run afoul of his new boss, Kelly doesn’t have time for a boyfriend. Even if he did want a man in his life, a past trauma makes him question whether he can ever trust a man with his body or his heart. But then Kelly receives an unexpected but steamy birthday kiss from his boss, a man he was sure hated him, and he begins to wish for things he knows he shouldn’t.

Andrew Whitman knew from the moment he held Kelly’s hand that the man was special, and it both annoyed and terrified him. Kelly makes him feel a little out of control and Drew is a highly controlled man. He has to be to keep his sexuality a secret from his father, a conservative politician. And he is OK with that. He has a perfectly good, mutually beneficial, life plan with his best friend, Lex. A long time ago, he’d made his peace with the fact that he’d never find a man worth turning his life upside down for. Then he ends up with his capable and gorgeous assistant under him on top of his desk, and his life plans change. Drew can’t seem to get out of his own way when it comes to the quiet, sexy, and surprising single dad, but he can’t stop himself from falling for Kelly and his sweet baby brother. And just when it seems that Kelly has worked through his past hurts enough to let Drew into his body and his heart, manipulative family and words unspoken threaten to tear them apart. But after getting a taste of a life he never thought he could have, Drew won’t let anything tear his fledgling family apart

Review
Oh wow. Kelly is so perfect. He took responsibility for his baby brother at nineteen, works two jobs (he loves both of them) and is an excellent employee. But for all that too good to be true perfection I found myself liking Kelly and very much drawn to him. He is an extraordinary character. I’ll mention there is a trigger warning of rape in Kelly’s past. It took me a little longer to warm up to Andrew. He seemed a bit too cold and uptight at first but that was just hiding insecurity because he hadn’t felt this way before. I really liked the sensitive way the author has handled their growing relationship. They both have issues to overcome and in the early stages of their relationship Kelly’s are more prominent. For Drew it is his hesitancy in facing difficult personal situations that cause problems for them both. The secondary characters are also solid characters and in some cases integral to the story. This is such a wonderful genuine romance that I loved every moment of it. Londra Laine is an author to look out for and wholeheartedly recommend Forever with You.

5 of stars out of 5

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Buried Passions by Andrew Grey

release day review 

Dreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/buried-passions-by-andrew-grey-9243-b

Blurb

When Broadway actor Jonah receives word that his uncle has passed away and named him the heir to a property in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, Jonah’s plan is to settle the estate as quickly as possible and return to his life in New York City. Much to Jonah’s surprise, the inheritance includes the Ashford Cemetery—and its hunky groundskeeper, recent Bosnian immigrant Luka Pavelka.

Jonah soon discovers Luka is more than easy on the eyes. He sees into Jonah’s heart like no man ever before, and his job at the cemetery is all he has. If Jonah sells, Luka is left with nothing. Luka is there for Jonah when Jonah needs someone most, and there’s no denying the chemistry and connection between them. But Jonah has a successful career back in New York. Now he must decide if it’s still the life he wants….

Review

This is not one of my favourite Andrew Grey books. I just didn’t connect with it but it might have been because I wasn’t in the right frame of mind after the Christmas break. Having said that this is a well written low angst love story. Jonah is certain of his path in life. He is an actor and loves the stage. An Uncle Jonah hasn’t seen for a long time leaves him some property and since the last play has finished he goes to investigate. Jonah expects to sell the property and get back as soon as possible. What he doesn’t expect is to lust after Luca. When I read this scene I imagined Jonah’s eyes bugging out and jaw dropping when he first saw Luca, just like a cartoon character. Let’s just say they got hot and heavy very quickly. There is certainly chemistry between them. Luca is not looking for love exactly but being a recent immigrant he is longing for somewhere to belong. With Jonah he finds both love and a sense of finding a home. This is a story of choices and re-evaluation. Jonah thought his life was going in the right direction but after his Uncles bequest he questions this and has to make the choice between Love and career. I did like the story but as I said earlier for some reason it didn’t grip me.

 

3 of stars out of 5

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Sometimes the Best Presents Can’t Be Wrapped by B.G. Thomas

release day review

Dreamspinner
https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/sometimes-the-best-presents-cant-be-wrapped-by-bg-thomas-9198-

Blurb
Ned Balding used to be a decent man—until the stress of seemingly countless responsibilities changes him, and he becomes cold and driven—the kind of man who considers firing an employee days before Christmas. The kind of man who kicks a dog…. But Ned’s transgressions haven’t gone unseen. A Salvation Army Santa witnesses his misdeeds and decides Ned needs to be taught a lesson.

When Ned wakes up the next morning, he’s stunned to discover he’s been transformed into a dog.

In the past year, Jake Carrara has lost his mother, a lover… even his dog. His boss came close to firing him just before the holidays. He isn’t sure he’s ready for another pet when he’s asked to foster a dog, but Jake’s good heart won’t let him refuse. Little does he know, this isn’t just any dog.

Through a twist of fate, two people with little reason to be friends might teach each other to rediscover the good—and the love—in life

Review
It was the Blurb that attracted me to this story, I really liked the sound of a twist on the redemption of a Scrooge type character. Ned is a very angry man and he takes his anger out on everyone he meets by snarling at them. But when Ned was turned into a dog the depth of his despair and Jake’s sadness made me quite tearful. Jake is so good with dog Ned. He cares for him a great deal. It gives Ned a chance to reflect on his life and panic that he might remain a dog. Whilst Jake can be open with dog Ned about his feelings and worries. This is very well written. I can’t think of a better way for a character to hear so candidly what other people thought about him and be in a situation that gives him no choice but to reflect. Ned had changed for the worse over the last few years. Consequently his husband was now filing for divorce. I did wonder though with the growing feeling Ned has for Jake that surely he should have been thinking of ways to make up with his husband. But this was eventually addressed satisfactorily for me. I suppose it’s a kind of paranormal friends to lovers story. Jake is Neds friend when he is a dog. He looks out for him and cares for him. Ned does the same for Jake. It’s when Ned changes back that their friendship develops into a romance. Dog Ned’s attempts at communicating are sweet and his predicament is amusing at times. The time Ned changes back to a man is handled excellently.
I think this is going to be a book you’ll either love or hate. For me I loved it. It has that Christmas miracle angle that makes me smile. The Christmas message I’m taking from this story is do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

4 of stars out of 5

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Holidays: Alone for Christmas By Ashley John

GoodReads Link

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/32732677-alone-for-christmas?from_search=true

Blurb

With his third divorce looming and his bank accounts frozen, Chip Harington was surprisingly okay with spending Christmas alone, even if he was living out of a suitcase in his office. He had already decided to skip the office Christmas party, until some surprising words from one of his employees makes him change his mind.

Noah always expected the crush for his boss to fade, but after two years working under Chip, his feelings are stronger than ever. With Chip’s personal life in tatters once more, Noah never expected his boss to show his face at the office Christmas party, so he was even more surprised when his drunken attempt to kiss Chip turned into so much more.

Chip assumed his encounter with Noah was nothing more than a one-night stand, but when his employee emerges from a snowstorm on Christmas Eve, they are forced to spend Christmas together in a London office block. With the lines between employer and employee blurred, will either man emerge from the snow the same, or will their Christmas encounter change the course of their lives forever, making them wish they had spent Christmas alone after all?

Review

This is nice story of an office worker having a crush on his boss, going to the office Christmas party and ending up in bed together. Except that said boss is in his 3rd divorce from a beautiful woman. Okay so maybe he is gay after all.

When Noah realizes that his boss Chip is spending the holiday alone at the office he just cannot let him spend it alone. The 3 days snowed in are just so funny to see. It’s like college freshmen the first time they are away from home. The things they get up to will have you giggling throughout. There is some conflict, to make you think all won’t work out and then a HEA.

3.5 of 5 stars

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Holidays: All I Want by Stella Starling

GoodReads Link

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/33127540-all-i-want?ac=1&from_search=true

Blurb

Shy retail clerk Elliott Gaffney’s Christmas wish isn’t something Santa can grant him, but that doesn’t stop it from being his favorite time of year. Especially since he gets to work at Chicago’s prestigious Ashby’s department store in “the North Pole,” doing his part to make the magic of Christmas come alive for others.

All Bennett “Ash” Ashby wants for Christmas is to forget about it. Unfortunately, his father is forcing him to pay penance for the media frenzy caused by his latest public sex scandal. The Ashby heir, working as a lowly department store Santa? Only the fact that no one will know it’s really him can save Ash the embarrassment of being stuck in a fat suit instead of partying with his friends.

But when Elliott catches Ash’s eye, Christmas starts to look a whole lot brighter. And even though Elliott would never have the guts to say yes if he knew who Ash really was, falling for “Ben,” the new Santa, is another story all together…

Review

When you keep Christmas in your heart your dreams really can com true. Elliott has always kept the joy and spirit of Christmas in his heart and it shows in everything he does.

You have the disreputable, moneyed bachelor who’s name is always in the headlines. His father decides that he needs to be punished for his latest indiscretion. Playing Santa is the last thing Ash wants to do, but working with Elliott slowly shows him the true meaning of Christmas. And although this is a romance it’s also a sweet message on keeping the spirit of Christmas.

Elliott has always loved the Christmas holidays at the department store he works at. It started when he was a child and his mother would bring him in to see Santa. As an adult he now works at the store and tries to see the the children that need it the most keep their belief.

4 of 5 stars

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Fangs and Catnip by Julia Talbot

release day review

Dreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/fangs-and-catnip-by-julia-talbot-9030-b

Blurb

A Dead and Breakfast Novel
A romance worth fighting for—tooth and claw.

Solitary vampire Fallon Underwood gets all the social interaction he needs being the silent partner at the Dead and Breakfast B and B high in the Colorado mountains. Change is hard for Fallon, so when his business partner, Tanner, suggests hiring a new manager for the inn, he’s adamant that they don’t need help, especially not in the form of bouncy werecat Carter Hughes.

Carter is a happy-go-lucky kitty, and he loves the hospitality industry, so the D and B ought to be a great place for him. He falls for Fallon as soon as he picks up one of Fallon’s novels, and begins to woo the vamp with gifts. When Fallon finally succumbs to Carter’s feline charms, the results are unexpected, to say the least. Their mating will have irreversible consequences—for their bodies and their hearts.

Review

This is a different take on supernatural interspecies mating.
I liked the quirky characters at the B&B – from Fallon, the moody writer (vampire); Tanner co-owner (Bear) and Glenda (Gorgon). Tanner needs a day manager to help take on some of the day to day managerial duties, (since Fallon, co-owner has little interest in helping). Carter, a werecat, applies and gets the job. Carter is friendly, chatty, with a sunny disposition – all the things Fallon is not. But Carter ‘weres’ Fallon down (I couldn’t resist☺) and they fall in love.
It was interesting the way Fallon and Carter’s relationship progressed; especially the way they took on each other’s traits – Carter developing photosensitivity, while Fallon had a vague craving for meat. However, the two men have to find a way to adjust to their mating changes or they will slowly die. With the help of a B&B staff, a few guests and a local doctor, the two men figure out a way to adjust to each other and live happily together.
There is a bit of heartache when Fallon thinks he’s helping by pushing Carter away. As a result, Carter becomes feral and Fallon has to find a way to bring him back.
I enjoyed the story, especially the twist on the fated mates trope.
I hope there will be stories for some of the other characters, like Tanner or Dan (wolf, guest).

3.75 stars out of 5

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Audiobook: Hemovore by Jordan Castillo Price Narrated by Joel Leslie

audiobookreview

Audible Link

https://www.audible.com/pd/Romance/Hemovore-Audiobook/B075XSR8GL

Blurb
Mark Hansen thought working as artist’s assistant would be glamorous,
especially if that artist was a vampire. Black tie events, witty repartee,
gracing the pages of the local style section. Didn’t happen. Not even
once.

Jonathan Varga is an enigma. True, he’s quiet, generous, and scrupulously
polite. But he has zero social life, refuses to be interviewed or
photographed, and insists he can only consume feline blood.

Why supermarket blood won’t suffice, Mark hasn’t asked. He’s rarely at a
loss for words – he can dish an insult and follow it with a snap as quick
as you can say “Miss Thang.” But one look at Jonathan’s black-as-sin gypsy
eyes, and Mark’s objections drain away.

So he endures the perpetual grind of their routine: Jonathan hiding in his
studio, swiping black paint onto black canvases. Mark hurling insults
while he buffs the office to a shine with antiviral wipes. Each of them
avoiding the other in a careful choreography…until a blurb in Art in
America unleashes a chain of harrowing events neither of them could
foresee.

As secrets from Jonathan’s past are brought to light, it becomes clear
that all his precautions weren’t nearly enough.

Review

I’ve read many of Jordan Castillo Price’s novels and they’ve never failed
to thrill and this is no exception.
I love that this doesn’t follow the predictable conventions, with a middle
aged and not gorgeous protagonist. He’s very human and all the more
appealing because of it.
The world building is fascinating with a unique take on vampirism as a
blood born virus. It has a high mortality rate, but if you survive you
look like a Michaelangelo sculpture for eternity as well as drinking
blood. I love the vampire culture that’s built up throughout the book.
With vampire soap operas and mention of an influential vampire movie
starring Demi Moore and John Travolta released years back, you can see how
the vampire virus not only changed the world but created a subculture that
is both foreign and familiar.
There is a strong subtext of vampire’s treatment in society comparable to
how HIV+ people are treated with fear and prejudice. Moments where our
vampire hero Jonathon tries to pass as “V negative” resonated with me with
how LGBT people also sometimes have to pass as straight for their own
safety.
Our protagonist Mark has been Jonathon’s personal assistant for years,
crushing on the reclusive eccentric vampire artist seemingly without hope.
When a murderous vampire ex lover from Jonathon’s past goes on a
destructive cross country rampage the two men go on the run. The truth of
Jonathon’s past and his feelings for Mark are revealed.

5 of 5 stars

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Unexpected By Sloane Kennedy

GoodReads Link

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36064274-unexpected?ac=1&from_search=true

Blurb

Protectors Book 10

I finally had the chance at a perfect life when I met the man I was supposed to be with. But he’s gone and chances like that don’t come along twice in one lifetime. Right?
Former president Everett Shaw had his whole life laid out for him from the time he was a child and he lived out every expectation to complete and utter perfection… until he met the one man who changed everything. With plans to leave public life behind after finishing his term in office, Everett was looking forward to a quiet life with the man of his dreams at his side. But one brutal act of violence stole that bright future away, leaving Everett struggling just to get through each day.

A decade later finds Everett nearing the age of sixty and living a shell of a life. Haunted by his loss, he finds solace in his roses and evenings sitting in front of the television. But when his estranged son is horribly injured while saving the life of another, Everett leaves everything behind in the hopes of mending the broken relationship and helping his son heal in more ways than one.

My job is to protect and there are rules that have to be followed. Even if there weren’t, I wouldn’t risk letting anyone close… not again.
Special Agent Jonathan Nash’s job is to keep the former president safe, not be his friend. Even if something about the lonely older man draws him in, he’s not about to risk what’s left of his career for anything. And it’s not like a guy like Everett Shaw would really see him anyway. Nor would he want him to, considering the ugly past Nash left behind to pursue his dream. No, he’s better off following protocol and doing his job. Let someone else deal with the broken man. It’s not his problem… it can’t be.

I learned a long time ago to live life on my terms and that sometimes you have to take that leap of faith to get what you want. But wanting two men at the same time? That’s new, even for me.
At forty-five years old, former Navy SEAL Gage Fortier has experienced success and loss in equal measure, and while his life has taken a direction he never planned, he wouldn’t have it any other way. When Reese, the young man he’s partnered with in the underground vigilante group they both work for, is injured on the job, he sees an opportunity to build on the friendship with the bitter former soldier while giving him a place to recover. But when he discovers that the young man is actually the estranged son of a former U.S. president, Gage realizes he has the chance to give both father and son so much more. There’s only one problem with his plan… how to ignore his growing attraction for the devishly handsome Everett Shaw.

And Everett’s perpetual shadow, Agent Nash.

Three men on very separate courses. Until something unexpected happens and three become one…

*TRIGGER WARNING: This book as a couple of triggers. You can check out what they are by downloading the sample or using the “Look Inside” feature and scrolling to the appropriate page. Note that reading the trigger warnings could cause spoilers.

Can be read as a standalone novel.

The Protectors series crosses over with some of my other series, so for the most enjoyment, they should be read in order, but it is not required. You can find the correct reading order at the beginning of each book. I’ve also bundled all my series in the correct reading order under the title of A Family Chosen: The Protectors and Barrettis.

Review

Sloane Kennedy’s ability to take a broken man and build a heartwarming, enticing and deeply moving story makes her one of my favorite authors. Although broken these men still have strength and unusually strong wills.

This time she has 2 broken men, Everett who has never come to terms of his grief for his dead lover and the loss of his son in his life. Nash from growing up as a foster kid and then a malicious lie that derailed his career. The third man, Gage, in this ménage, is actually well adjusted, calm and level headed. We also have 2 children involved, although one is a grown man, as do many of Sloane’s stories.

Sloane Kennedy takes us through a roller coaster of emotions and has us surprised with twists and turns throughout. I loved how she really had two stories twisted together and held us in suspense until the very end. The Story moves at a good pace yet there are times you should have a tissue handy.

The sex scenes are HOT, HOT, HOTTER! As only Sloane can do, it’s like you are sitting in a darkened corner watching it all happen. Did I say HOT!

5 of 5 stars

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Heart Unheard by Andrew Grey

release day review

Blurb:

A Hearts Entwined Novel
The attraction between Brent Berkheimer and Scott Spearman peels the wallpaper, but Brent is Scott’s boss, and they’re both too professional to go beyond flirting. Their priorities realign after Scott is badly injured in an accident that costs him his hearing, and Brent realizes what is truly important… he wants Scott.
Scott pushes Brent away at first, fearing a new romance will just add to his problems, but perhaps he will find unexpected strength and solace in Brent’s support as he struggles to communicate with the world in a new way.
Just as they decide the chance of a happy future together is worth the risk, Scott and Brent discover darker challenges in their way—including evidence that the “accident” Scott suffered may not have been so accidental.

 

Review

 A lovely addition to this new series! This standalone story features Brent and Scott (from Heart Unseen).
For 2 years, Brent has held off acting on his feelings for a younger Scott. Now 20 years old, Scott has all but given up on something happening between him and Brent, when he is badly injured in an accident. Brent realises that he has to do something about his feelings or he’ll lose Scott.
Both men are a little broken – Brent from a past personal tragedy and Scott, more recently, from becoming deaf due to the accident. I really liked how Scott’s disability was presented – there is no easy way to handle suddenly becoming deaf. Andrew Grey showed that it takes a lot of work to communicate and be understood in a world that relies on sound.
The romance between the 2 MC’s was not without some bumps, but not insurmountable. As an added bonus, there is a bit of a mystery as to who caused Scott’s accident and why – it added a nice twist to this really good romance. The next mystery is whether Dean (the 3rd friend) will get his act together and find love ☺
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and look forward to the next in the series!

4 stars out of 5
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Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review