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adult - 18+ Angst Level Book Christmas Contemporary Cop/Crime Dreamspinner Established Couple Gay Heat Index Holiday Hopelessly Crying Hurt/Abuse m/m Mid level steam/heat Novella 20-160 pgs (20k-40k words) Purchased second chance at love

What Can Be by Mary Calmes

what can beBlurb

Thirteen years ago, Eli went on a summer trip with his mother and never came back. Now, existing in a new life as Jacob Somerville, he’s again running from fear and memories, only to end up where he started. As Jacob struggles to reconnect with his father and brothers, he realizes that his lover, Craig Zhao, was the only thing filling his empty heart and standing between him and ghosts of the past. It will take the power of love—from his family, from Craig, and from himself—for Jacob to see that his life truly is filled with the promise of what can be.

Review

Eli/Jake has a reason to go home, but he’s scared. He doesn’t know who he is now. He’s run all his life and now he can’t decide the next step, so he cuts all ties, even though he has a happy life and love in Chicago.

Craig won’t accept that Jake wants out. He knows Jake. Knows all his secrets. Knows he needs Craig’s help.

When Eli/Jake finally faces his family after 13 years of absence, there’s a chance he could lose it all, or finally be free.

**

This is a no-holds-barred emotional read. Eli’s past is harsh and the love that he shares with Craig is special.

It was hard reading about what happened, and so many times I was tempted to rush to the end to see what he’s hiding, but the way it’s laid out is perfect – of course – it’s Mary!

Craig and Eli/Jake are a wonderful couple and I wish we’d gotten more of their story – but I almost think it would have been even more painful to have it drawn out. Seeing this – the pinnacle moment – was hard enough.

“You look at me and I feel like I could do anything just because you love me. We fit so perfect. I mean, I just have to see you, and I know I’m home.”

I love all of Mary’s work, and this is one of her more dark stories, showing us her breadth of talent.

I highly recommend this and the author, in this case, especially if you are in the mood for a happy ending but a darker story.

4.5 of 5 stars

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Categories
adult - 18+ Angst Level Book Cop/Crime Dreamspinner Established Couple Gay Heat Index m/m Mid level steam/heat Mild level angst Novella 20-160 pgs (20k-40k words) Purchased second chance at love

Again by Mary Calmes

againBlurb

Six years ago, Noah Wheeler went to meet his boyfriend, Dante Cerreto, at the airport, and his world ended. Dante was kissing someone else and claimed to be in love. So Noah took his heartbreak-and the sonogram pictures of their surrogate child-and closed the door on the big picture of what he thought his life would be, focusing instead on the piece of the dream he got to keep, being a father.
Now on vacation in Las Vegas, Noah accidentally runs into the Cerreto family, and then the man himself, and learns that not only was he deceived, but Dante was as well. Now Dante wants to make up for lost time, six years’ worth, and to do that he needs Noah, the only man he’s ever loved, and Grace, the daughter he didn’t know he had, to give him a chance at happiness. Dante’s going to have to take a crash course in communication and seduction, though. Noah’s not going to fall in love just to be broken again.

Review

Noah went to the airport to surprise his boyfriend Dante with a sonogram of his child only to find Dante in a clench with his work partner. When confronted Dante tells Noah he wants out of the relationship and that he’s fallen in love with someone else.

Though Noah is crushed he does what he can to share with Dante their child, but to no avail. It isn’t until 6 years have passed that they cross paths only to find out that things aren’t what everyone originally thought.

**

This is a short story, only 96 pages, so much of it happens in a re-telling and the only “real time” is a matter of hours.

As usual I loved the characters. Noah is the perfect guy who did everything “right” but with all the wrong information.

Dante, you think is all bad, isn’t at all… but he still screwed up, and how! But… he’s the alpha guy who makes your eyeballs melt and nobody can just let that get away.

Dante’s family is also perfect and helps to smooth everything over. Noah’s current “boyfriend” is perfectly stupid and manages to do just the right thing so that nobody feels bad about what happens to him.

Most of this is typical Mary wonderfulness and I loved it. What I didn’t love was the brevity and what it did to the story. Instead of having our MCs work out something realistic (Mary does like to split her guys up – for years!) they end up making up in less than 48 hours and it felt really forced. I just hadn’t gotten to the point where I was able to buy into them getting back because Dante hadn’t done enough to earn his right to be back in Noah’s life.

It was close… but I couldn’t quite feel good about it.

So though it pains me to do so, I must give this a 3 of 5 stars. Great for Mary fans, but those less forgiving might not like this title as much.

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adult - 18+ Angst Level Audiobook Baseball Contemporary Dreamspinner Friends to lovers Gay Geek/Jock Heat Index Hidden Lovers High School m/m Mild level angst Novel 140 pgs + (80K + words) Purchased Scorching/high heat second chance at love Sports

Caught Running Audiobook by Madeleine Urban and Abigail Roux Narrated by Jeff Gelder

CaughtRunningAUDmedBlurb

Ten years after graduation, Jake “the jock” Campbell and Brandon “the nerd” Bartlett are teaching at their old high school and still living in separate worlds. When Brandon is thrown into a coaching job on Jake’s baseball team, they find themselves learning more about each other than they’d ever expected. High school is all about image – even for the teachers. Brandon and Jake have to get past their preconceived notions to find the friendship needed to work together. And somewhere along the way, they discover that perceptions can always change for the better.

Review

Brandon and Jake were never friends nor really enemies in high school, simply occupants of totally different social spheres. Ten years later they are both teaching at their old high school and things are looking a lot different than they did back then.

Brandon, who was home schooled for much of his schooling, was never a “team” type of guy. But, he’s still an athlete. When the school needs a coach to help with the winning baseball team, new teacher Brandon is pressed into service.

Jake is very skeptical of Brandon’s “help” in the coaching department, but after seeing the guy run, he re-evaluates. They end up kind of working really well together as coaches, and that slowly blossoms into more.

It’s a slow-burn, but both are aware of the other physically, more than just friends. It takes an act of bravery on Jake’s part to test the waters, but once he does the two barely come up for air!

These are still tough times, and nobody can find out about them… and are they willing to even admit how important they are to each other?

**

I really loved this and it was my first audiobook that I bought in the m/m genre. It’s an easy read. Very low angst, very hot sex, fun dialog, quirky MCs and in general just a light fun book.

Now that I’ve read a ton more in this genre, and have come to expect a bit more from it, I can say that there are things that could be done to improve it – ie make these guys move past the ILYs to the nitty gritty living life in secret as co-workers, dealing with Jake’s pain management, coming to grips with Brandon’s life ambitions… lots of heavy “issues” that got fairly well brushed under the rug at the end of the book and left as things to be dealt with “later”.

I think that, as authors, both Madeleine Urban and Abigail Roux definitely grew and improved as they published more books, but as far as a fun, light books go – this still ranks among the top!

4.5 of 5 stars

Audio

Jeff Gelder isn’t my favorite author, and as has been pointed out in other reviews, he makes many mistakes with this narration. In addition, his tone is rather flat or sometimes takes on an up note that doesn’t fit the story.   In any case, it isn’t horrible, but it’s not great, and other narrators could’ve definitely done a better job.

Regardless, I still highly recommend this book and as a way to enjoy this without reading it, this narration will absolutely get the job done.

So for the book and the narration a solid 4 of 5 stars.

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(Copy purchased for review)

 

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adult - 18+ Angst Level Contemporary Established Couple Friends to lovers Gay Heat Index Hopelessly Crying Hurt/Abuse m/m Magic New Adult Novella 20-160 pgs (20k-40k words) Paranormal Purchased Scorching/high heat second chance at love Totally Bound

Someday It Will Be by SA McAuley

 

someday it will beBlurb

Poe is about to learn death and time are fragile barriers—if he has the strength of will to let go.

Poe passes through a graffiti-laden alley, his chin tucked into his chest, a scarf wrapped tightly over his mouth to keep out the cold. He has nowhere to go since Isaac’s death, but something compels him out in the frigid Chicago winter.

He steps out of the alley, off the curb, and…into sand. In summertime. Isaac told him it would happen but Poe doesn’t care how it’s possible, only that now he has a chance to make everything right.

 

Review

I can’t really sum this up without giving up the entire story. So … let me tell you that this is a very short, but profound story about two kids who grow up as best friends, find one another later in life and after way too much time admit what the other means to each other.

There’s a touch of the supernatural and mystery thrown in, some regret, growth, and pain, but in the end a truly beautiful happy ending that will leave you wanting more.

It’s a quick read, but it will stick with you.  SA McAuley is a new author to me, but I one I’m going to definitely look into for further reads.

5 of 5 stars

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(Copy Purchased for Review)

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Categories
Angst Level Bi-Sexual College/University coming of age Contemporary Established Couple Exploration Friends to lovers Geek/Jock GFY/OFY Heat Index Hockey Homophobia m/m Mild level angst Mild/low level heat New Adult Novel 140 pgs + (80K + words) Part of a Series Purchased second chance at love young adult

Bully and Exit (Midwest Series book 1) by Brigham Vaughn

bully exitBlurb

Theater student Caleb Stockwell is ready to leave college behind. Too bad his past isn’t ready to let him go.

With less than a month to go until graduation, Caleb runs into Nathan Rhodes at a house party. Nathan is a star hockey player for Western Michigan University and finally ready to step out of the closet. He’s also the guy who broke Caleb’s heart in high school.

Nathan’s determined to make amends for what he did four years ago, but Caleb isn’t willing to risk getting his heart stomped on again. With only a few weeks left before they go their separate ways, it’ll take all of Nathan’s creativity and help from some interfering friends to convince Caleb to give him a second chance.

Review

Caleb and Nate met in their senior year of high school. Caleb wasn’t sure of his sexual orientation, but he knew he was sometimes attracted to guys and girls. Nate was pretty sure he was gay, but was in no way prepared to act upon his desires.

When Caleb catches Nate’s eye, they begin a hidden affair – mostly innocent – that ends in disaster on Prom night.

Now, it’s four years later and though they’ve been at the same university, they’ve not met up again. Until now. It’s one month before graduation and when Nate sees Caleb at a party he just knows he has to do what he can to both let Caleb know how much he’s changed, how sorry he is and how much he’d like to start over again.

Caleb has been carrying around a lot of pain and anger from the incident in high school and can’t let it go. With the urging of his friends and family and a relentless pursuit by Nate, he finally agrees to sit down and hear Nate’s side of the story.

In the end we get a very solid HFN that looks promising and a very satisfying end to the pursuit.

**

I really liked this book. I was worried because I don’t like “second chance loves” as a general rule. (For me that first meet is what really pushes my buttons) but in a way we get that too as a series of flashbacks into the boy’s high school life.

There is lots of talk of sex and some uncomfortable discussions of past lovers, but only one real sex scene between the MCs. So, to me, this reads as just barely a NA book and almost a YA book.

I appreciated, however, that the reactions of both guys felt pretty authentic and age-appropriate.

If you are a fan of second chances, college romance and geek/jock pairings – give this one a try!

4.5 of 5 stars

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(Copy Purchased for Review)

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