Recent Release: Test of Valor (Valor #2) by Keira Andrews

Good Reads Link
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/39818669-test-of-valor?from_search=true

Blurb

They’re free of the White House, but can their forbidden romance survive in the real world?

With his father no longer president, twenty-two-year-old Rafa Castillo can finally be with ex-Secret Service agent Shane Kendrick. Shane’s given up his career for Rafa, a move his fellow agents question the sanity and morality of. Eager to get away from the questions and judgement, Rafa and Shane are building a new life together in Australia. Though Shane struggles with nightmares and his over-protective instincts while Rafa fights his own insecurity, they love each other more than ever.

Now they just have to get through a visit from the former president and first lady.

Rafa’s parents certainly don’t approve of his romance with forty-year-old Shane, and they’re determined to make him see reason. They don’t see how their son could possibly be happy settling down with an older man, and they question Shane’s motives. Shane and Rafa just want a normal life together—but when they must suddenly battle for survival, they fight to prove their fierce love can withstand any threat.

This gay romance from Keira Andrews is the conclusion of the Valor duology. It features a May-December age difference, sex on the beach, and of course a happy ending.

Review

I fell in love with these guys in book one but I realized, once I’d gone back and re-read it, that they’d been left in a very HFN sort of situation and this book does a terrific job of sealing the deal.

Keira did a great job of showing us how Rafa’s insecurities are still running his life and demonstrating Shane’s issues as well. Rafa’s parents are not as “pretty” as they seem and though Rafa forgave them pretty easily, I’m not so sure either of them deserved it – just yet.

Australia was an interesting setting and appropriate given the new changes there!

I found the developing relationship to be wonderful and though the added “life or death drama” was a touch OTT – it served a nice purpose.

Overall I highly enjoyed this sequel and recommend it to fans of book 1 – but not as a standalone.

5 of 5 stars

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Copy Purchased for Review

Release Day Review: Stand by Your Manny (The Mannies #3) by Amy Lane

release day review

Dreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/stand-by-your-manny-by-amy-lane-9516-b

Blurb
Learning to trust and falling in love.

Sammy Lowell has his hands full juggling his music, college, some pesky health problems, and making the uncles who raised him proud. He needs help fulfilling his after-school duties with his siblings. Nobody can be in two places at once—not even Sammy!

An injury puts Cooper Hoskins in a tough spot—if he can’t work, the foster sister he’s raising can’t eat. But years in the foster system have left Cooper short on trust, and opening up to accept help isn’t easy.

Luckily, family intervenes—Cooper needs a job so he can care for Felicity, and Sammy needs someone who can see past his illness to the wonderful things he has planned for his life. Each heals the damaged places in the other’s heart. But falling in love is a big responsibility for young men deep in family already. Can the two of them get past their fear of the immediate future to see forever with each other?

Review

I absolutely loved these guys! The hurt/comfort between these two was off the charts in the sweet factor and I fell in love with them and their little extended family/ies.

I kinda wanted their “de-virgininzing” to be hotter – but I guess that’s more the Dreamspun thing than anything else. Book 2 was a bit steamier and so this was a bit of a let down.

The glimpses of previous MCs was appreciated and I’m looking forward to the next in the series very much.

I really hope Nick Russo gets to do the narration…. Just my hopeful hint!

For fans of the author and the series this is a must, if you’re new to the series this isn’t my favorite of the bunch but it’s Amy so it’s great!

4 of 5 stars

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Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

Release Day Review: Medley (Changing Lanes #2) by Layla Reyne

release day review

Good Reads Link

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/37556674-medley?from_search=true

 

Blurb

Sebastian Stewart was never Mr. Dependable; he was more the good-time guy who only wanted to swim, party, and ink tattoos. Until he cost his team the Olympic gold four years ago. Bas is determined to do right this time around—by his medley relay team and his rookie mentee.

Jacob Burrows is in over his head. The Olympic experience—from the hazing, to the endless practices, to the unrelenting media—makes the shy nineteen-year-old’s head spin. He’s trying to be everything to everyone while trying not to fall for his gorgeous tattooed teammate who just gets him—gets his need to fix things, his dorky pirate quips, and his bisexuality.

When Jacob falters under the stress, threatening his individual races and the medley relay gold, he needs Bas’s help to escape from drowning. Bas, however, fearing a repeat of his mistakes four years ago, pushes Jacob away, sure he’ll only let Jacob down. But the only path to salvaging gold is for Jacob to finally ask for what he needs—the heart of the man he loves—and for Bas to become the dependable one.

Review

 There was a lot to like about this:
Jacob – super adorkable esp. with the pirate stuff
The Olympics
Swimming
Alex and Dane

There was a lot that was …. Less great:
Continual teenagey angst – even though most of the characters are older than that
A lack of communication
Lack of steam

This is more of a YA than a NA story. I think if you go into it like that – with those expectations – it’s feels better. As an NA story it felt lacking.

I really enjoyed book 1 a bit more, but I’d keep with the series.

3 of 5 stars

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Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

Audiobook: Bone to Pick by TA Moore narrated by Michael Fell

audiobookreview

Dreamspinner Press

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/bone-to-pick-by-ta-moore-9486-b

Blurb:
Cloister Witte is a man with a dark past and a cute dog. He’s happy to talk about the dog all day, but after growing up in the shadow of a missing brother, a deadbeat dad, and a criminal stepfather, he’d rather leave the past back in Montana. These days, he’s a K-9 officer in the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department and pays a tithe to his ghosts by doing what no one was able to do for his brother – find the missing and bring them home.

He’s good at solving difficult mysteries. The dog is even better.
This time, the missing person is a 10-year-old boy who walked into the woods in the middle of the night and didn’t come back. With the antagonistic help of distractingly handsome FBI Agent Javi Merlo, it quickly becomes clear that Drew Hartley didn’t run away. He was taken, and the evidence implies he’s not the kidnapper’s first victim. As the search intensifies, old grudges and tragedies are pulled into the light of day. But with each clue they uncover, it looks less and less likely that Drew will be found alive.

Review: The book has been reviewed previously
https://openskyebookreviews.com/bone-to-pick-by-ta-moore/

:
TA Moore has crafted a great suspense story with enough simmering sexual tension to keep me very interested indeed. To quote Cloister Witte’s opinion of Javi Merlo he’s a prick. Nothing really endearing about Javi whereas Cloister is a driven soul. How these two can meld together was as much a suspense to me as finding missing Drew Hartley. The investigation into missing Drew is quite good, kept me guessing. The storyline in that respect is somewhat complex but I didn’t find it to hard to follow. The main focus is the investigation with the relationship as a side element. I loved the K9 part of the story, Bourneville stole the show.

 

If ever a book would benefit from a sequel it would be this one. Not from the crime drama viewpoint that is resolved but the relationship between Javi and Cloister needs to be explored further. It is the classic case of the two of them disliking each other but also being unable to keep their hands off each other. Made good reading but I would like to know how their non relationship develops, if it does. They are left in a sort of happy for now status.

 

If you like crime stories I would recommend this one.

 

Audio:

Michael Fell is the second new (to me) narrator that I’ve listened to in 2 weeks. In both cases, the narration has complemented the story.
This is a really good story, unfortunately I kept getting interrupted while trying to read it, so I had to put it aside. I was thrilled to be able to listen to the audio version, crossing my fingers that the narrator would not muck it up. I am happy to report that Michael Fell did not ‘muck it up’, in fact his narration made the suspense of finding the missing kid feel real. His narration was well paced, and the characterisations of Cloister and Javi, were distinct and very well done.

Between the story and the narration, I found myself very disappointed when the story ended – not because of the HFN – that was perfect for both men. No, I was disappointed because I wanted more – more story (that’s a hint TA Moore) and more Michael Fell!
Definitely recommend!

4.5 stars out of 5

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Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

 

 

Audiobook: Heart Unheard by Andrew Grey Narrated by Greg Tremblay

audiobookreview

Dreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/heart-unheard-by-andrew-grey-9023-b

Blurb
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

(Book reviewed here previously)

Andrew Grey never fails to deliver a sweet tale, add in Greg Tremblay and what more could you ask for. For me Andrew Grey’s characters are believable, they have all the normal worries and issues to overcome. Thee isn’t any melodrama, just people overcoming fears and obstacles with the help of friends and finding love along the way. Brent made me consider this because he lets his own insecurities rule over his feelings for Scott. It takes nearly losing Scott to spur him on. Even then some of those insecurities threaten their relationship. But Brent comes to see the reality of his fears. Scott is strong and with Brent’s support learns to adjust to his new world. The turn of events around the ‘accident’ was a good twist in the story.

I noticed in the introduction it is ‘performed by Grey Tremblay’ performed is much more apt description than narrated by. It raises the book to a whole new level. There is a lot of emotion in this story which Greg enhances in such a way that I couldn’t help but empathise with the characters. A great story draws you in and great performances bring you into the heart of the story.

4 of stars out of 5

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Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

 

 

 

 

 

Friends to Lovers: The Wolf’s Man Friday by Julia Talbot

release day review

Dreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/the-wolfs-man-friday-by-julia-talbot-9466-b

Blurb
The last thing Sebastian Zeller wants is to be pack Alpha. But when the pack leader, his uncle Ron, is attacked, he has no choice but to leave his beloved Colorado mountains and fulfill his duty as Ron’s heir—at least until his uncle recovers. In the meantime, he intends to lure the attacker out… and make them pay.
When Ron gets wind of Sebastian’s plan to catch the attacker, he doesn’t like the idea of risking his heir.That’s where Jaxon Reedis comes in—he’ll balance protecting the dark and sexy werewolf with pretending to be his personal assistant. He’s walking a fine line that requires all his foxy wit and craftiness… and that’s on top of the inescapable feeling that he and Sebastian are meant for each other. When the attacker returns, will they be able to maintain their deepening bond when danger threatens to tear down everything they’re building?

Review
A delightful, snappy, story about a wolf who doesn’t want to be alpha and a bodyguard pretending to be a personal assistant.

The banter between Sebastian and Jaxon is great. I had a hard time at first when they started talking mind to mind. Thought that would unsettle them more, but it just flowed. Also I’m not sure if Sebastian ever put together that Jaxon was more than a personal assistant. Yes the guy had mad skills, but that issue never came up in conversation. Nobody called Jaxon on him moving from personal assistant/bodyguard to mate. Nothing from the alpha that hired him, or Jaxon’s boss.

The things I liked was how well they played off of each other, mentally, physically and emotionally. I loved their playful side. Running around Dallas following whatever whim was suggested. Julia Talbot was masterful in blending both the human side with the animal. The sex scenes were both hot and tender, and the cuddle times included both skin and fur. I loved how she incorporated the need for touch so deeply into the story.

The main supporting characters really pulled the story together. I’m sure Alan will have a story, and I would love to see Tyrone have one too. I mean really an elk working for a pack of wolves!

This is definitely a fun read, and I look forward to more from the author.

4.5 of 5 stars

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Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

 

Friends to Lovers: Lessons in Love Audiobook by Charlie Cochrane Narrated by Phil Mayes

Audible Link

https://www.audible.com/pd/Fiction/Lessons-in-Love-Audiobook/B01AO7MOFW?ref=a_a_search_c3_lProduct_1_1&pf_rd_p=e81b7c27-6880-467a-b5a7-13cef5d729fe&pf_rd_r=KH0GYNMFVNQKRQJMBH41

Blurb
St. Bride’s College, Cambridge, England, 1905. When Jonty Stewart takes up a teaching post at the college where he studied, the handsome and outgoing young man acts as a catalyst for change within the archaic institution. He also has a catalytic effect on Orlando Coppersmith. Orlando is a brilliant, introverted mathematician with very little experience of life outside the college walls. He strikes up an alliance with the outgoing Jonty, and soon finds himself having feelings he’s never experienced before. Before long their friendship blossoms into more than either man had hoped and they enter into a clandestine relationship. Their romance is complicated when a series of murders is discovered within St. Brides. All of the victims have one thing in common, a penchant for men. While acting as the eyes and ears for the police, a mixture of logic and luck leads them to a confrontation with the murderer can they survive it

Review
I don’t normally read or listen to period romance or drama but I wanted to give this one a try. The setting and the time period intrigued me. There is charm to this story which reflects a world in its own bubble. The high morale code of behaviour and traditions which exclude anyone not in academia. The burgeoning friendship and later romance between Jonty and Orlando has such an innocence around it that cute feels like the wrong word.
I do like the way Charlie Cochrane introduced and kept the murder mystery side going. I certainly didn’t have a clue who could be doing it. Not to mention that the police didn’t seem to know what to do either. The conclusion of the mystery was enthralling.
The only fly in the ointment was the narration. Phil Mayes tone was slow and methodical. Whilst I appreciate that there needs to be narration that reflects the slower way of life in 1905 and to get the accent right for level class in society reflected in the story, I don’t think it works. I think I’ll stick to reading this book in future.

3 of stars out of 5

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Purchased by reviewer

 

 

 

 

 

 

Recent Release: The Necromancer’s Smile by Lisa Oliver

Good Reads Link

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/38892197-the-necromancer-s-smile?from_search=true

Blurb

Detective Dakar Rhodes is an alpha wolf shifter who’s short on sleep and patience. Called to yet another crime scene, definitely the work of a serial killer, he’s shocked to learn the Pedace Police Department has a Necromancer as a consultant. Considering he’d moved to Pedace because of the lack of a coven in the area, he wasn’t pleased with the new development. His previous dealings with magic users never ended well. But when ordered to show the consultant the respect befitting his position, Dakar bites his tongue and longs for a swift conclusion to the case.

Necromancer Prince Sebastian York, or Sy to his friends, has a real issue with people. He doesn’t like or trust them, but because of his position, he has to deal with them. Dead people are so much easier – at least they don’t want anything from him. But Sy has been raised to do his duty and when he’s called to a crime scene, he doesn’t expect anything much to happen beyond talking to a few spirits. The last thing he thought he’d find is a wolf shifter claiming to be his mate.

One short meeting has a wealth of repercussions. Finding a serial killer is easy; coping with relationships is anything but. Demons, journalists, long held grudges and a familiar with loyalty issues all combine to make for a hectic time. It’s a case of one step forward, two steps back for Dakar and Sy, but when evil comes calling will they be able to rely on each other for a chance at an HEA?

This story is the first in a planned trilogy based on the two main characters. A complete story, the epilogue does set the scene for book two, but this can be read as a standalone. This book contains intimate situations suitable for adults only and is M/M. Trigger warnings: Violence, foul language.

Review

I loved all the awesome powers in this! I thought Sy was awesome and I hope we hear more from the butler, too.

I wish there’d been a little bit more time spent with our MCs as a couple, I really wanted to see them bond emotionally a bit more than we did see.

Lisa is great at world-building and I really hope we see more from this world.

If you’re a fan of “underdogs” who are really bad-ass – this is for you!

Highly recommended!

4.5 of 5 stars

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Copy Purchased for Review

Release Day Review: Heart of Glass by Ari McKay

release day review

Dreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/heart-of-glass-by-ari-mckay-9422-b

Blurb: Lawyers In Love

Fear of being like his unfaithful father has put high walls around senior litigator Asher Caldwell’s heart. Can former district attorney Zach Richardson knock them down to reveal the passionate man beneath the commitment-phobic workaholic, or will Zach’s own jealousy destroy what they’re trying to build?

A new life and a new love—that’s what Zach’s hoping for when he leaves the DA’s office and lets his friends give him a makeover. But the jury’s still out on whether the experiment was a success. His new look gets the attention of his boss and secret crush, Asher Caldwell, and leads to a seduction. Unfortunately, to Zach’s horror he learns that Asher assumed he was a paid escort. Asher is equally mortified to discover he had sex with an employee. Even so, the encounter meant a lot to both men, and they want to give dating a shot. Their romance born out of mistaken identity might work if Zack can trust Asher to be satisfied with the love of only one man… and if Asher can trust himself.

Review: What a sweet story, just what I needed after a horrid week!
The romance between Asher and Zach is straightforward, sweet but peppered with a little self-doubt (Zach) and ‘closed-offness’ (Asher).
The blurb says it all, but the gem of the story is the simplicity of their romance, it just is (a romance with dates, meeting the family, etc.). In fact, the story is more than 75% of the way in before ‘the misunderstanding’ occurs, and even then the separation is not protracted, (although Zach should have known better…).
I loved the gift exchange at the end ☺

This story gave me a warm fuzzy feeling, definitely enjoyed it!

3.5 stars out of 5

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Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

 

 

Friends to Lovers: Wow! (On A Night Like This Book 1) by Sean Kennedy

Good Reads Link

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/37952545-wow?from_search=true

Blurb: On a night like this, magic can happen.
Seven couples. Seven stories. One night. A night for love.

Mark is a respectable banker during business hours, but on a Saturday night he becomes the fabulous Allotta Moxie, drag queen extraordinaire. Allotta is everything Mark is not—confident, bold, sassy, and well-loved.
He wishes he had a quarter of her self-assurance, especially when it comes to Joel, the new hire at work. Most men run a mile when they discover Allotta hiding in his closet. She’s a lot to take on. So what will be Joel’s reaction when he meets Allotta for the first time? And more importantly, will Allotta like Joel?

 

Review: This is a really fun, original story. The characters were so much fun, especially Allotta. Mark works in an office by day, but he moonlights as drag persona, Allotta. There’s Connor – he and Mark have an awkward friendship, (they work together, hooked up but didn’t work out). And then Joel, the new guy at work. Mark and Joel hit it off, but Mark is afraid to tell him about Allotta, mostly because past relationships had issues with this part of his life.
This is the first of series of novellas revolving around 1 night – the 2nd and 3rd stories are now available and can be read as standalones.
Overall, this was a fun read!

4 stars out of 5

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Copy purchased for honest review