Release Day Review: Set Ablaze By KC Burn

release day review

Dreamspinner Presents
https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/set-ablaze-by-kc-burn-9520-b

Blurb

California firefighter Hayden Hurst is starting to realize there’s more to life than fighting fires and drinking with his buddies. He has room in his home and his life for someone special, but no one has stood out among his hookups. And while he’s out at work, admitting he’s gay is very different from showing up at social functions with a man. He’s afraid that’ll be too much for his less-than-accepting “friends.”
Broadway dancer Jez Bouchet hasn’t been mistaken for straight since he was gay-bashed at seventeen. After getting a lucrative job offer in Hollywood, he uproots his life in New York and drives to Los Angeles. His brother, who is Hayden’s best friend, arranges for him to crash at Hayden’s place.
The attraction between Hayden and Jez is unexpected but fiery, and they succumb before they’re even sure they like each other. But Jez hates Hayden’s homophobic friends, and Hayden knows Jez is too flamboyant for him to fly under the radar. Then there’s the complication of Jez’s brother.
Despite those hurdles, they fling themselves into a relationship. But Jez has secrets: a tiny spoiled dog and a determined stalker. If he doesn’t come clean, he might torch their burgeoning relationship before it has a chance to bloom.
Review

I’ve read several KC Burns stories that I’ve really loved.
Ie
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22294511-rainbow-blues
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/12919441-cop-out

This wasn’t one of them.

To me it felt disconnected and uncertain and I didn’t feel the chemistry between the MCs like I’d wanted to.

I also strongly dislike (you might say hate) “Big Misunderstanding” as a trope and that’s a big theme here.

I’m not sure I understand why these “friends” are friends and why – since we aren’t really told why – they aren’t just dropped. I always support reading of many reviews before judging and this just might be me, but this wasn’t a great fit for me.

3 of 5 stars

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Audiobook: The Fireman’s Pole by Sue Brown Narrated by Finn Sterling

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Dreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/the-firemans-pole-by-sue-brown-8862-b

Blurb
The flames of passion rise for the lord of the manor.

It’s springtime in Calminster village, but things are already heating up. Sexy firefighter Dale Maloney is new to the local station. When Dale backs the company fire engine into the village maypole, he attracts the ire—and attention—of Benedict Raleigh, the Baron Calminster.

Soon after meeting Dale, Ben breaks off his relationship with his girlfriend, and the sparks between Ben and Dale are quickly fanned into flames.

Unfortunately the passion between the two men isn’t the only blaze in the village. An arsonist’s crimes are escalating, and it’s up to Dale and his crew to stop them. Meanwhile, as they investigate, an unscrupulous business partner attempts to coerce Ben into marrying his daughter. The May Day parade is around the corner, but they have plenty of fires to put out before Ben can finally slide down the fireman’s pole

Review
I found this to be a sweet and at times amusing story. I love the Englishness of it and the double entendres, my kind of humour (yep I’m a Brit). I loved the fairy tale aspect of working class boy falling for a member of the aristocracy. Their relationship develops naturally following a couple of incidents that makes Ben notice Dale. In amongst the budding romance is the mystery of an arsonist in the village and the matter of Ben’s girlfriend along with Dale’s ex. Sabrina, sort of Ben’s girlfriend. She is wonderfully strong and devious character. There is a lot going on in this story and it is the skill of Sue Brown’s writing that it all feels natural and suited to the flow, never to much or contrived.

The narrator, Finn Sterling has a pleasant reading voice, husky and deepens for the voice of Ben (Lord Calminster) however Dale’s voice is a little too high in tone for me it sounded squeaky at times. Not at all what I was expecting for a romantic hunky Fireman’s voice. I think there was a sort of south London accent but I couldn’t be sure. Also I found the female voices are a bit grating. They all sounded wobbly. The majority of the time the narration was fine. Just small personal irritations.

4 of stars out of 5 for the story
3 of stars out of 5 for the narration

3.5 of 5 overall

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Audiobook: Rescue Me (Heathens Ink, 1) by K.M. Neuhold Narrated by Cooper North

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Audible Link

https://www.audible.com/pd/Romance/Rescue-Me-Audiobook/B076PV8QZD?ref=a_a_search_c3_lProduct_1_1&pf_rd_p=e81b7c27-6880-467a-b5a7-13cef5d729fe&pf_rd_r=BE005G4M35BTA2PX84M2&

Blurb

“Your life can change in an instant”~ Madden
I never thought a night out could change everything. All I wanted was to dance, drink, maybe take a cute guy home for a night of fun. I met the guy, but the night ended as a nightmare. Screams, and blood, and tragedy haunt my dreams. I’m alive and I owe it all to the gorgeous marine who refused to leave me for dead. But how can I start a new relationship when I’m not even sure who I am anymore?

“I’ll always save you” ~Thane
After a long work week all I wanted was to let my hair down and to meet a nice guy. When I laid eyes on the gorgeous, tattooed man at the bar, I had to have him. I never would have thought the night could end in such horror. I saved his life, and I swear I’ll save him as many times as I have to. Even if it means saving him from himself.

**This is the first book in the Heathens Ink series in which every book can be read as a stand alone.

CAUTION: this book is recommended for readers 18+ and does contain one scene of graphic violence that may disturb some readers. And, in case it wasn’t clear from the description, this is an M/M romance, man parts will be touching.

Review
(Book reviewed here previously)

It wasn’t clear to me from the description, and it doesn’t say so in the book, but this book “felt” like it could be about any of the survivors from Orlando’s shooting. Thane and Madden hadn’t ever met before the night in the club when they end up sort of forced together after the tragic shooting injures Madden.

But… this story is more than that. Madden has a past that makes this particular crisis all the more scary and Thane has to slowly learn about it – even though they are thrown together as though they’ve been dating a long time.

I’m going to put some triggers in a spoiler so that people who have them can look and people who don’t mind can skip it, but there are SEVERAL in the story.

(spoiler) Trigger warnings: suicide, drug addiction, PTSD, pain/chronic pain ) (end spoiler)

This was a far darker story than I had anticipated and far more complex. In a way we get a bit of “insta love”. Both Thane and Madden are very interested in the other and jump very quickly into a relationship that defies explanation. It evolves as it can while the two are essentially living together as strangers and it’s a very unique situation.

The steam level is mid-level, I’d say – and sometimes it felt out of place. More than anything, this is a hurt/comfort story and though I know the two guys are attracted to each other, I think focusing on the serious issues – which were HUGE – was the main story and the sex only a side bit. For the most part, I felt this was appropriate, but there were a couple of times where I thought – “Would he even want sex now?” ‘

This was the first I’d read by this author and I’d definitely look to something from her again. I think there are some compelling new stories in store from Madden’s work crew and they look really interesting!

If you’re in the mood for dark, hurt/comfort, sorta insta-love – this is the right book for you!

4.25 (rounded to 4.5) of 5 stars

Audio

I like listening to Cooper North and thought he handled the emotions and the different character voices well. This is a great way to enjoy this story.

Overall 4.5 of 5 stars

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On Duty (Smoke & Bullets #1) by A.R. Barley

Carina Presents
https://www.carinapress.com/shop/books/9781488079221_on-duty.html

Blurb

Number one rule for a firefighter: never take your eyes off the flame. Male/male author A.R. Barley is back with a new contemporary romance series.

Former marine and seasoned firefighter Troy Barnes has always kept his sex life on the down low, until he takes back-to-back hits: physically injured in a suspicious warehouse explosion and emotionally blindsided when he’s ditched by his boyfriend. When a flirty young paramedic offers him a place to crash, Troy’s not so willing to give in. He’s never needed help before. But if anyone can break through his tough-guy act, it’s Alex Tate.

Alex has crushed on Troy since the minute he saw him. Now here he is, stripped of his turnout gear and recuperating in Alex’s bed. The tattooed hero may be a fantasy-come-true, but Alex wants more than rebound sex—and he’s not sure Troy’s ex is gone or forgotten.

As each night brings them closer together, Troy realizes there’s more to Alex than he’d ever imagined. And with an arsonist loose in Manhattan, neither he nor Alex realizes just how combustible things are going to get.

This book is approximately 64,000 words

Carina Press acknowledges the editorial services of Deborah Nemeth

One-click with confidence. This title is part of the Carina Press Romance Promise: all the romance you’re looking for with an HEA/HFN. It’s a promise!

Review

This was really, really good! It had so many things that I love. Firefighters, paramedics, a funny family, some denial, the right opportunity, a dangerous setting and the chance for one MC to constantly take care of the other MC’s boo-boos!

Troy and Alex are a great couple and their romance felt really natural and proceeded in a way that felt appropriate. They had wonderful chemistry and the other “story” about the arsonist was involving without being overwhelming.

I really enjoyed this and am looking forward to more in this series!

5 of 5 stars

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Rebel (415 Ink #1) by Rhys Ford

release day review

Dreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/rebel-by-rhys-ford-9200-b

Blurb: The hardest thing a rebel can do isn’t standing up for something—it’s standing up for himself.

Life takes delight in stabbing Gus Scott in the back when he least expects it. After Gus spends years running from his past, present, and the dismal future every social worker predicted for him, karma delivers the one thing Gus could never—would never—turn his back on: a son from a one-night stand he’d had after a devastating breakup a few years ago.
Returning to San Francisco and to 415 Ink, his family’s tattoo shop, gave him the perfect shelter to battle his personal demons and get himself together… until the firefighter who’d broken him walked back into Gus’s life.

For Rey Montenegro, tattoo artist Gus Scott was an elusive brass ring, a glittering prize he hadn’t the strength or flexibility to hold on to. Severing his relationship with the mercurial tattoo artist hurt, but Gus hadn’t wanted the kind of domestic life Rey craved, leaving Rey with an aching chasm in his soul.
When Gus’s life and world starts to unravel, Rey helps him pick up the pieces, and Gus wonders if that forever Rey wants is more than just a dream.

Review: I am a big Rhys Ford fan; she has a way with words and she can make a murder scene seem like a work of art. However, I initially struggled with this book because it started off somewhat dark. As the brothers are introduced in the story, one gets a sense of the horrible childhood they all suffered through. This is a story about forging a brotherhood, giving/taking second chances and making a family, no matter how one is (or not) related.
After 3 years, Gus has returned to his brothers, after finding out that he is the father of a 3 year old boy. There are flashbacks to events happened to Gus as a child, while with his mum and in foster care; not for the faint of heart. The horrid childhood Gus suffered through is partly the reason that he couldn’t commit to his then boyfriend, Rey. As Gus and Rey dance around their strained relationship, (realising they never stopped loving each other), they have to navigate past histories, custody hearings for the child, a vengeful child protective service officer and family, to get their HEA.
I thoroughly enjoyed their journey.

It took me 2 tries to read this. I had been expecting something along the lines of the Dirty series – tongue-in-cheek humour, a bit of drama, some hurt/comfort. Instead, I got a story that took me apart emotionally, but put me back together in a cocoon of family, warmth and love. As an added bonus, there are little gems in the form of references to characters from other books, (hers and others).
Now to patiently wait for the next brother’s story.

4.5 stars out of 5

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Holidays: Dear Ruth (2017 Advent Calendar Daily – Stocking Stuffers) by Kim Fielding

Dreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/2017-advent-calendar-daily-delivery-package-stocking-stuffers-9042-b

Blurb
Dear Ruth,
I’m not in the mood for Christmas. After a romantic relationship went up in flames, I returned to my hometown in rural Kansas. Then my mother passed away. I’m really busy with my job as fire marshal—and now with my mother’s advice column, which I reluctantly took over. There’s a sexy newcomer down the street, a guy with a young daughter and an unfortunate disregard for fire safety. He seems to want to be friends, but that creates problems that may be too hot for me to handle. The last things I need right now are flammable holiday decorations and too much holiday food. How am I supposed to give good advice to others when I can’t seem to get my own life straight?
—Bah Humbug in Bailey Springs

Review

This was amazingly and superbly sweet and a perfect start to this Advent Collection!

I just love a story about older guys and Kim Fielding is perfect at giving us “regular Joes” finding love in ordinary circumstances with extraordinary results.

 

This was low key, tender and very sweet.

 

Highly Recommended!

 

5 of 5 stars

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Holidays: Snow Angels By Riley Knight

Amazon Link:

https://www.amazon.com/Snow-Angels-friends-lovers-Christmas-ebook/dp/B01MXOOM1S/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1510515717&sr=1-1&keywords=snow+angels+riley

Free on KU

Blurb

Sometimes, what you really need can be found where you least expect it … Even in your own house.

Billy and James both work more than they do anything else. Billy is a firefighter, James a paramedic, and both of them have dangerous, stressful jobs that leave little time for anything else, such as romance or even dating.

Then Polly, an adorable little black and white kitten that they rescue, comes into their lives and changes everything. James has always thought he was straight, but soon, he has reason to question that, and everything else, when he realizes that he’s falling for his best friend.

Will a blast from James’s past ruin everything that they’ve started to build, or can the magic of the holiday season give them the best gift of all?

Snow Angels is a short standalone gay romance with no cliffhangers, no cheating, and a HEA ending. It features explicit scenes.

Review
James and Billie rescue a kitten on the day before Christmas Eve. That night a scared kitten, a startled man and a broken bed have Billie ending up sleeping in James’ bed. The following afternoon they take a walk and discover a pristine snow covered lawn and make a couple of snow angels, wet from the snow they head back to the house. From there it’s a slow but steamy few days of discovery and pleasure. Most of the sexy scenes are mild, or implied but the final act is described.

A cute story to start you off on the Christmas spirit

3.5 of 5 stars

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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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Back To School Month: The Rebuilding Year Audiobook by Kaje Harper Narrated by Gomez Pugh

Audible Link

https://www.audible.com/pd/Romance/The-Rebuilding-Year-Audiobook/B075QL61GS/ref=a_search_c4_1_1_srTtl?qid=1506049025&sr=1-1

Blurb

Losing nearly everything leaves room for the one thing they can’t live without.

A few excruciating minutes pinned in a burning building cost Ryan Ward his job as a firefighter, the easy camaraderie of his coworkers, his girlfriend, and damn near cost him his left leg. Giving up, though, isn’t an option. Compared to the alternative, choosing a new profession, going back to school, and renting a room from the college groundskeeper are simple.

Until he realizes he’s falling in love with his housemate, and things take a turn for the complicated.

John Barrett knows about loss. After moving twice to stay in touch with his kids, he could only watch as his ex-wife whisked them away to California. Offering Ryan a room seems better than rattling around the empty house, but as casual friendship moves to something more, and a firestorm of emotions ignites, the big old house feels like tight quarters.

It’s nothing they can’t learn to navigate, though. But when dead bodies start turning up on campus—and one of the guys is a suspect—their first taste of real love could go up in smoke.

Product Warnings
Contains two hot men wrestling with a shift in their sexuality, as well as a few positions probably listed in the Gay Kama Sutra. But it’s not all about the hot and sweaty—especially when your previously straight life knocks on the door and comes back to visit.

Review
(Book previously reviewed here: http://kimichanexperience.com/the-rebuilding-year-by-kaje-harper/)

Ryan is a med student, former fireman who was injured in the line of duty, looking for a cheap place to stay while studying. He meets John on campus where John does the maintenance for the university. John is recently divorced father of two who is looking for a friend and someone to share expenses.

John and Ryan quickly become great friends and find themselves inexplicably attracted to one another as more than friends. Neither has identified as gay before but are suddenly seeing the other as very attractive.

There are a lot of hurdles. Neither is willing to jump into this without being sure of their feelings. Ryan has scars on his body that makes him leery of opening himself up to anyone. John’s wife and family aren’t going to see this as something to embrace. And – there’s a dead body found on campus and John is a suspect!

With a lot of careful movements forward and some deep discussion the couple explore their new feelings and in the end find a deep and abiding love.

**

This was one of the first mm books I ever read and I have re-read it dozens of times! I absolutely loved it. It’s a double GFY, both male “virgins” and they are so very sweet with each other! Kaje Harper is an amazing writer, she carefully crafts their relationship so that it is believable and romantic and yet full of realistic challenges and day to day hurdles.

I can’t recommend this book enough and I am ever so excited to read the sequel (finally!)!

6 of 5 stars

Audio

It’s so funny how different (sometimes) a book can “hit” you when you listen to it rather than read it. This was one of my all time favorite books because it does such a nice job of really exploring “gay for you” and now that I know more about sexuality, I think John is probably more “demisexual” than bi or gay. I think Ryan is probably bisexual – not that any of this matters, but I was noticing how frustrated I got when both men jumped on to the “I’m gay now” bandwagon, when really… they probably aren’t.

In any case, I also noticed how much John annoyed me with his letting Cynthia get away with murder… and how wishy washy he was at times – well – they both were at times…

But… Gomez Pugh is one of those delightful narrators who could read me (probably) any book and I’d at least be entertained if not love it! He’s a great voice actor and really knows how to handle emotions and timing.

I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this and couldn’t stop once I started.

Highly Recommended!

6 of 5 stars

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Audiobook: Rekindled Flame (Rekindled Flame, Book 1) by Andrew Grey Narrated by Michael Pauley

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Dreamspinner Presents
https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/rekindled-flame-by-andrew-grey-8770-b

Blurb

Firefighter Morgan has worked hard to build a home for himself after a nomadic childhood. When Morgan is called to a fire, he finds the family out front, but their tenant still inside. He rescues Richard Smalley, who turns out to be an old friend he hasn’t seen in years and the one person he regretted leaving behind.
Richard has had a hard life. He served in the military, where he lost the use of his legs, and has been struggling to make his way since coming home. Now that he no longer has a place to live, Morgan takes him in, but when someone attempts to set fire to Morgan’s house, they both become suspicious and wonder what’s going on.
Years ago Morgan was gutted when he moved away, leaving Richard behind, so he’s happy to pick things up where they left off. But now that Richard seems to be the target of an arsonist, he may not be the safest person to be around.

Review

Andrew Grey is wonderful for giving us both stories with a heart as well as characters who aren’t always “the norm”. I love his hurt/comfort books and Morgan and Richard’s story is full of all that and more.

I’m not a huge fan of second chance romances because I love that first meeting so much, but this was done really well.

Michael Pauley does a great job with the narration and is an easy voice to listen to as well as clearly understanding the use of pacing and emotion to help bring these guys to life for the listener.

Highly recommended for fans of the author, the narrator and fans of second chance/hurt/comfort romances – with fire fighters!

4 of 5 stars

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