Time to get scared: Laurent and the Beast – Kings of Hell MC’s #1 – K.A. Merikan

Good Reads Link:
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/33959435-laurent-and-the-beast?ac=1&from_search=true

Blurb
Nothing can stop true love. Not time. Not even the devil himself.

1805. Laurent: Indentured servant. Desperate to escape a life that is falling apart.
2017. Beast: Kings of Hell Motorcycle Club vice president. His fists do the talking.

Beast has been disfigured in a fire, but he’s covered his skin with tattoos to make sure no one mistakes his scars for weakness. The accident not only hurt his body, but damaged his soul and self-esteem, so he’s wrapped himself in a tight cocoon of violence and mayhem where no one can reach him.

Until one night, when he finds a young man covered in blood in their clubhouse.

Sweet, innocent, and as beautiful as an angel fallen from heaven, Laurent pulls on all of Beast’s heartstrings. Laurent is so lost in the world around him, and is such a tangled mystery, that Beast can’t help but let the man claw his way into the stone that is Beast’s heart.

In 1805, Laurent has no family, no means, and his eyesight is failing. To escape a life of poverty, he uses his beauty, but that only backfires and leads him to a catastrophe that changes his life forever. He takes one step into the abyss and is transported to the future, ready to fight for a life worth living.

What he doesn’t expect in his way is a brutal, gruff wall of tattooed muscle with a tender side that only Laurent is allowed to touch. And yet, if Laurent ever wants to earn his freedom, he might have to tear out the heart of the very man who took care of him when it mattered most.

Review
Holy cow! There are so many different tropes involved in this book yet it all fits together seamlessly with the fantastic K.A. Merikan’s writing. They’ve created yet another book and series that draws you in right from the start with strong characters, a gripping story line and fantastic interactions.

Laurent is living in 1805 and working as a servant in a bookstore. A late night delivery leads him out to a house of what he thought was an admirer but turns out to be so much more. In order to escape, he makes a deal with a demon.
Beast exists in 2017, living in a crumbling Asylum with his father’s motorcycle club, the Kings of Hell. His own story keeps him pretty quiet and apart from the world after he was left with body and facial scarring which he covered in tattoos to protect himself from other’s pity. When he stumbles across Laurent late one night, he has no idea what he’s in for.

This story has so much and yet our focus remains on Laurent and Beast, and yes we do eventually discover his actual name. Laurent is looking to survive and save himself from certain death back in his time as well as trying to adapt and learn about where he suddenly finds himself as well as carrying out his deal with the demon. Of course, he never counted on Beast. Though scarred and tattooed, he is caring, gentle and endearing to Laurent. All Beast wants is somewhere better for the club than the health hazard that they currently reside in yet his father refuses to move for unknown reasons.

The two men together are frustrating, adorable, tense yet hot. It’s Beast’s acceptance of Laurent and the way he is that makes you like him even more. There are a few different sides we see to all of the characters but when you can imagine a 6ft 5″ man covered in tattoos taking a man like Laurent shopping, it’s completely adorable! These balance out the intense scenes that are the bread and butter of motorcycle club books. There’s not as much violence as you would think with a name such as Kings of Hell but there is a lot of debauchery and partying that goes on.

The story line about the demon and deals that have been made causes underlying tensions to run but with no one knowing the full truth until later on in the book, it’s interesting to read what the characters are doing to ensure their part is played.
There are many secondary characters with the series being set in a club, several we like with a couple we don’t. All make the book much more interesting offering support or trying to pull them apart.

I loved this book, pretty much everything about it drew me in and made me want to know more. I’m interested to see what other stories come with the other men in the club and what supernatural forces they get involved with. It’s great having these different elements come together in one book and these authors are fantastic in bringing the story and characters to life.

I received an ARC from the author and am happily giving a review.

Number of stars out of 5
5

Provided by author for review

 

 

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

Time to go Dark: Vice Enforcer by S.A.Stovall

Good Reads Link

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/37796640-vice-enforcer?from_search=true

Blurb

Holding on to a life worth living can be hard when the nightmares of the past come knocking.
Eight months ago, Nicholas Pierce, ex-mob enforcer, faked his death and assumed a new identity to escape sadistic mob boss Jeremy Vice. With no contacts outside the underworld, Pierce finds work with a washed-up PI. It’s an easy enough gig—until investigating a human trafficking ring drags him back to his old stomping grounds.

Miles Devonport, Pierce’s partner, is top of his class at the police academy while single-handedly holding his family together. But when one lieutenant questions Pierce’s past and his involvement in the investigation, Miles must put his future on the line to keep Pierce’s secrets.

The situation becomes dire when it’s discovered the traffickers have connections to the Vice family. The lives of everyone Pierce cares about are in danger—not least of all his own, if Jeremy Vice learns he’s back from the dead. Pierce and Miles face a conspiracy that reaches the highest levels—one that will gladly destroy them to keep operating. As Pierce uses every dirty trick he learned from organized crime to protect the new life he’s building, he realizes that no matter how hard he tries, he might never escape his past.

But he’s not going down without a fight

Review

This book is about 8months on from the end of book 1 (Vice City) it probably could be read as a stand-alone. There are occasional references to incidents in book 1 but not anything you could not work out or detract from understanding this story. Pierce and Miles are now settling into domesticity. Well Pierce is trying Miles has succeeded. Pierce is training to be a PI and Miles is in the Police Academy. I was surprised at this considering Pierce’s background the last thing they would need is to be around cops, or is it clever having someone on the inside? It kept me wondering how this story was going to turn out. Through out book 1 I couldn’t decide if I liked Pierce, he certainly seemed like a good person caught up in the mob surviving the only way he could (being the Enforcer). Or maybe he was just realising he was getting too old for that life and needed to get out. Or maybe loving Miles gave him the push to change. Whatever it was Pierce is now trying to adapt, gardening with no success and getting use to Miles brother and sister being around. This all goes to nothing when the PI he works with gets him involved in his former life. The story heats up from here. I liked that this not a now they live happily ever after kind of story. There are so many ups and downs to their relationship. Mainly from Pierce (it is told mainly from his point of view) Miles is steadfast in his belief and devotion to Pierce. So much so that he risks his future career to support him.
I liked that there is not a cliffhanger ending. This story is wrapped up perfectly with a thread linking into a future story. If you like the idea of a bad (but not cruel) man turns good but with a touch of realism these could be the books for a you.

4 of stars out of 5

Purchased by reviewer

 

Audiobook: High Test by Elizabeth Noble Narrated by Colin Darcy

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Dreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/high-test-by-elizabeth-noble-9033-b

Blurb
The coffee is rich. Hayden isn’t. But Neal doesn’t need to know that—yet.

Hayden Owens is just your typical graduate student working his way through school as a barista for the Owens Coffee Company—no relation. But he keeps the “no relation” part to himself when he meets dashing architect, Neal Kirchner, a successful older man from an old-money family. Hayden doesn’t exactly lie, but he figures it can’t hurt for Neal to believe he’s a rich kid. After all, Hayden doesn’t want Neal thinking he’s a gold digger.

The closer they become, the harder it gets for Hayden to come clean. Something always seems to get in the way. When a company bankruptcy and a jilted, vindictive woman threaten to expose his charade, Hayden thinks it’s all gone down the drain. Luckily Neal is ready with some innocent trickery of his own

Review

This is a sweet Cinderfella May-December romance. Both Neal and Hayden are lovable genuine characters. The story is told from Hayden’s point of view. Hayden is coming to the end of his studies when he meets Neal at a college function. He enjoyed Neal’s company so much he nearly missed his bus. Neal never gets Hayden’s number. I really enjoyed this take on the fairytale. A slow building romance where they learn more about each other. Hayden never wants Neal’s money, just him. However there was a misunderstanding and Hayden never quite managed to correct Neal and feels guilty about it. I liked the way the age gap works between them, they are well suited in interests and outlook. I’m not sure that the vindictive woman was needed but I suppose there has to be some bumps in the road. Such a charming low angst story.
Colin Darcy is a new to me. I think he does very well portraying Neal’s Indian background without it sounding like a caricature. He also captures Hayden’s youth without making him sound too young. He has a pleasant voice making it very easy listening.

For the second time. This is where the misunderstanding begins

3 of stars out of 5


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

Coming Soon! Squared Away (Out of Uniform #5) by Annabeth Albert

 


April 16 by Carina Press

Good Reads Link
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/37544729-squared-away

Blurb

In the wake of tragedy, SEAL Mark Whitley rushed stateside to act as guardian to his sister’s three young children. But a conflicting will could give custody to someone else—someone Mark remembers as a too young, too hot, wild party boy. Even after six years, Mark can’t shake the memory of his close encounter with Isaiah James, or face up to what it says about his own sexuality.

Isaiah’s totally over the crush that made him proposition Mark all those years ago. In fact, he’s done with crushing on the wrong men altogether. For now, he’s throwing himself into proving he’s the best person to care for his cousin’s kids. But there’s no denying there’s something sexy about a big, tough military man with a baby in his arms.

As the legal details get sorted out, their long-buried attraction resurfaces, leading to intimate evenings after the kids are tucked in. A forever future is within reach for all of them, if only Mark can find the courage he needs to trust Isaiah with his secrets—and his heart.

Review

I don’t think this is too much of a spoiler and I think people would want to know and I think you should read this regardless – but… Mark is Gray Asexual.

Definition: From AVENwiki. Sexuality is not black and white; some people identify in the gray(spelled “grey” in some countries) area between asexual and sexual. People who identify as gray-A can include, but are not limited to those who: do not normally experience sexual attraction, but do experience it sometimes.

This story was very touching, emotional and sexy despite it’s non-traditional characters. I was really rooting for the two of them and it made every physical encounter that much more resonant for what it meant to each man.

The family stuff gets in the way – and that too felt really “real”.

There were times when the story lagged and there were times when I wanted the guys to just “figure it out “ already – but for the most part this was a well-paced, very well-developed love story. (I have only a limited tolerance for angst and there is a fair amount in this.)

Highly recommended- esp for the HEA!

(I don’t think you need to have read the others in the series to appreciate this book.)

4.5 of 5 stars

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Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

Time to Laugh: Warrior’s Cross by Abigail Roux and Madeleine Urban


Good Reads Link

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6782412-warrior-s-cross?from_search=true

Blurb

Cameron Jacobs is an open book. He considers himself a common waiter with normal friends, boring hobbies, harmless dogs, and nothing even resembling a secret… except a crush on a tall, dark, devastatingly handsome man who dines alone at his restaurant on Tuesday nights. All it takes is one passionate night with Julian Cross to turn Cameron’s world on its head.
Julian’s love and devotion are all Cameron could have hoped for and more. But when his ordinary life meets and clashes with Julian’s extraordinary lifestyle, Cameron discovers that trust and fear can go hand in hand, and love is just a step away from danger.

 

Review: Although this book is a standalone, it connects to Armed and Dangerous (part of the Cut and Run series by Abigail Roux) through Julian and Cameron.
This is the story of how Cameron and Julian meet.
Cameron works at a restaurant and waits on the same man, Julian once a week. This goes on for months before Julian decides to talk to Cameron (each man is crushing on the other). They start seeing each other – Cameron is unassuming, unremarkable, lives alone with 4 dogs, whereas Julian is a dark, mysterious, dangerous man – but together they make an interesting couple.

The story is a combination of mystery, (we never confirm what Julian is, hitman for what agency?), action and romance. The story kept me interested, especially when Julian’s past threatened his future with Cam. The only time I was less than engaged was when Cam decided to separate from Julian.
Anyway, I enjoyed reading their story and was thrilled to see them again in the Cut and Run series.

4.5 stars out of 5

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Purchased for Review

 

Friends to Lovers: Step by Step Audiobook by KC Wells narrated by Connor Goff

Audible Link

https://www.audible.com/pd/Fiction/Step-by-Step-Audiobook/B074Z3JZCH?ref=a_a_search_c3_lProduct_1_8&pf_rd_p=e81b7c27-6880-467a-b5a7-13cef5d729fe&pf_rd_r=797B0C8X1J0PC9WTH9W3&

Blurb:

Jamie’s life is one big financial mess, and it really isn’t his fault. However, the last thing he expected to find in the library was a Good Samaritan. He might have been suspicious of Guy’s motives at first, but it soon becomes apparent that his savior is a good man who has been lucky in life and is looking to pay it forward. Guy being gay is not a problem. Jamie’s not interested…or so he thinks.

Guy is happy to help Jamie, and the two men get along fine. But when Jamie’s curiosity leads him from one thing to another, Guy finds himself looking at the young man with new eyes. What started out as a hand up is now something completely different….

Review: The book has been reviewed previously
https://openskyebookreviews.com/step-by-step-by-k-c-wells/

I enjoyed the story and the narration.
Conner Goff is a new narrator to me. He has a ‘comfortable’ voice, cadence. His narration was well paced, and the characterisations of the older Guy and younger Jamie, nuanced. The narration is not dramatic, (the story is mostly drama free), just even keeled. It was right for the story – warm, fluid, and fun.
Overall, I liked the story a bit more – because Conner added warmth to a sweet, May/December romance.

3.75 stars out of 5

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Copy Purchased for 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

 

 

 

 

 

Audiobook: Trust with a Chaser (Rainbow Cove #1) by Annabeth Albert Narrated by Marc Bachmann and Iggy Toma

audiobookreview
Audible Link

https://www.audible.com/pd/Romance/Trust-with-a-Chaser-Audiobook/B079G7D76Q

Blurb

One hot cop. One bar owner out for redemption. One smoking-hot summer fling destined to leave scorch marks…

Mason Hanks has returned to Rainbow Cove, Oregon with one goal in mind: turn the struggling coastal community into a thriving LGBTQ tourism destination. Step one is transforming an old bar and grill into a gay-friendly eatery. Step two? Don’t piss off Nash Flint, the very hot, very stern chief of police who’s not so sure he’s on board with Mason’s big plans.

Nash Flint just wants to keep his community safe and enjoy the occasional burger in peace. He’s not big on change nor is he a fan of Mason’s troublemaking family, especially his rowdy older brothers. But Mason slowly wins him over with fantastic cooking and the sort of friendship Nash has been starving for.

When their unlikely friendship takes a turn for the sexy, both men try to steer clear of trouble. Nash believes he’s too set in his ways for Mason, and Mason worries that his family’s reputation will ruin any future with Nash. Burning up the sheets in secret is a surefire way to crash and burn, and discovery forces a heart-wrenching decision—is love worth the risk of losing everything?

Trust with a Chaser is a 75,000 word stand-alone gay romance with a May/December theme, a hot law-enforcement hero, opposites attract, plenty of sexy times, and one hard-fought, guaranteed happy ending with no cliffhangers.

Review

(Book reviewed here previously)

First, do not be fooled by the cover – this is a GREAT book and the cover makes it seem way cheesier than it is. (Addendum – the new cover is so much better!!!!)

Second, if you’ve read anything by the author before, you know she’s amazing at giving us really flawless writing and superb characters. Normally I have no patience for the slow burn but it was expertly done here.

We get a lovely slow reveal of how poor, lonely Nash secretly wishes for rebellion in the form of “bad boy” Mason – who isn’t bad at all- and underneath all the grumpy lies the heart of true romantic! (See specifically one adorable picnic and fishing trip!)

There is very little angst and a bunch of really sweet build up to a super romantic finish with some hot, yet tender sex thrown in for good measure.

I couldn’t put this down and it literally made my week!

Highly Recommended!
(PS I loved the accuracy of the Portlandisms!)

5 of 5 stars

 

Audio

So. Amazing! First, I love duo narrations and I thought these two did a terrific job of being just enough different to make the individual characters really pop, but similar enough that it wasn’t jarring when the narrators switched up. I’d forgotten how wonderful Iggy Toma was and how good he is at making a listener feel really involved in a story. He’s really good with pacing and emotion and I loved the voice he chose for Nash – so growly and delicious!

Marc Bachman is no slouch either and does a terrific job with Mason as well! Together these two were really a great duo and I highly recommend this as a terrific way to experience this amazing story!

5 of 5 stars

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Copy Purchased for Review

Friends to Lovers: Happily Ever Alfie by K. Sterling

 

 

Good Reads Link

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/38214356-happily-ever-alfie?ac=1&from_search=true

Blurb: Happily Ever After can seem so far away. Especially when life kicks you every time you’re down. Alfie Stanford was a master of fairytales and happy endings but his own story was one sad twist after another. He didn’t have time for true love and he was too tired to dance at midnight, he had four younger siblings to raise.

Happily Ever After doesn’t happen for everyone. Sometimes, you miss your chance while you’re serving your country. Jack Church gave more than thirty years of his life to the Army and believed it was too late for him to be some man’s Prince Charming.

Sometimes, a little girl and a very special quilt are all it takes for something very magical to happen… Sometimes, there’s robots.

Review: I wish I had a way to describe how much I really enjoyed this story! It’s funny, heartwarming with a few hot scenes! What makes this such good story is how well the different tropes/themes are blended together; the May to December trope, hurt/comfort trope, (a past tragedy leaves MC to raise siblings), precocious (but funny) kids, humour and steamy scenes.
I had a great time reading this – definitely in my re-read pile ☺

4.5 stars out of 5

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Copy purchased for honest review