by Karrie Jax
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Zach Mitchell is stuck in a rut. His college boyfriend left him 10 years ago, but Zach still lives in the same apartment, drives the same car, and feeds his ex-boyfriend’s ungrateful cat. His Denver business, A to Z Video Rental, is struggling. He has annoying customers, eccentric neighbors, and an unfulfilling romance with his landlord, Tom.
A combat boot-wearing punk with an attitude, Angelo Green was raised in foster homes and has been on his own since he was sixteen; he has never learned to trust or to love. He doesn’t do relationships, so when Angelo takes a job at A to Z Video, he decides Zach is strictly off-limits. Despite their differences, Zach and Angelo quickly become friends, and when Zach’s break-up with Tom puts his business on the line, it’s Angelo who comes up with a solution. Together with Jared and Matt, their friends from Coda, Colorado, Zach and Angelo will find a way to save A to Z, but will they be able to save each other too? (Listen to Jared and Matt’s story in Promises.)
You can get the gist of the story from the blurb. Zach is clueless. He owns a movie store but knows nothing about movies. Angelo is a wonder. He’s sweet, but gun-shy, knows everything about movies and is in love with the clueless Zach.
It takes a trip to the mountains of Colorado where they meet Jared and Matt (from Promises) and the opportunity to start over, and do it their way, that Zach finally comes to his senses.
The battle isn’t over, though. Angelo is like a bird in a cage. Sometimes he’s content and feels secure in Zach’s love, other times he feels confined and restless.
This is a slow-burn, but extremely hot love story. There are parts that can be hard to read for some – Zach’s affair with Tom and later there’s some sharing as a couple – but that isn’t the main thrust of the story.
Mostly this about two guys finding someone to love, someone who compliments them, someone who will be there in the long run and someone who means everything.
I absolutely love Angelo. He’s nervous, flighty, snarky, sweet, insecure and wonderful. He needs someone as plain and solid as Zach to keep him grounded. Angelo brings life and vibrancy to Zach’s world and Zach brings order.
Both the sexy times and the emotions are top notch in this book and though I loved Matt and Jared, this book and this couple are my absolute favorite in the series.
I highly recommend this book and the entire series.
I did not love this narrator. This is the only series I’ve listened to with him as a narrator, but I didn’t care for his pacing. His voice is nice enough to listen to, but he doesn’t do anything to modulate the difference between speakers and oftentimes the inflection he uses doesn’t match the words he’s speaking.
I was a bit disappointed by his performance, but not enough to stop listening. The quality of the book surpasses the annoyance with the narration and still makes it a good experience.
For the book, 5 of 5 stars; for the combination with the narration 4.5 of 5 stars
(Copy purchased for review)
Dan Fisher is a fun-loving slacker from SSU with a passion for partying and dancing. When rich girl Avery Wakefield offers him a brand-new designer wardrobe in exchange for posing as her boyfriend, he reluctantly agrees. He hates lying, but it’s hard to turn down nice clothes and a chance to live in a historic mansion in Savannah for two weeks. What he doesn’t count on is falling hard for her mysterious, straight brother.
Julian Wakefield is as tortured as he is handsome. He keeps a secret close to his heart and everyone else at a distance. But now his sister’s new boyfriend is stirring up feelings he’s always been able to deny. Like an angel and the devil all rolled into one, he tempts him to take chances he never would have taken before. Too bad Dan belongs to his sister, whom he would never dream of betraying.
But…put two hot boys with an irresistible attraction in the same house for long enough, something is bound to happen.
So we start at SSU with Dan, a friend of the wrestlers we met in book 1, but we quickly leave the state and head to North Carolina where Dan acts as the straight boyfriend to snooty Avery Wakefield for her cotillion. While there Dan meets her “straight” brother Julian and the two find themselves embroiled in a hot romance that was a bit expected when the dust settles.
It seems a simple enough plot and it was, but there is a hell of a lot of other stuff thrown in to make this simple story more (unnecessarily?) complex.
First, Julian is hiding his sexuality but it doesn’t take much for him to abandon that secret because of his obvious infatuation of Dan.
Second, there is a plot line involving a gay friend who ends up committing suicide and that impacts the group for a minute or two –but I’m not sure it was necessary or really handled all that well.
Third, Julian has a problem with alcohol and his new relationship forces him to come to grips with this in a way that was handled very poorly by Julian and mostly unbelievably by Dan.
Finally, there’s a Big Misunderstanding when Julian disappears that made me absolutely crazy in it’s ridiculousness. Avery wasn’t even freaked when her brother just disappears giving his lover his car and an expensive bracelet. Hello? Someone close to them just killed themselves, shouldn’t that act as a wake-up-call that the closeted Julian might be in danger?
So though I appreciated the attempt at making this story a bit more deep and complex than the previous two stories I have to say it didn’t work for me. I’m still a huge fan of Maris Black and am excited to move on to book 3, but this one left me feeling a little confused and unhappy.
Chris Patton rocks this narration! His southern accents are to die for and I loved listening to his interpretation of this story. It’s definitely worth a listen especially if you’ve been a fan of the series and of this narrator.
With that all being said, I give this 3 of 5 stars for the narration and the mostly good if somewhat hard to swallow story-line.
(Copy Purchased for Review)
Maris Black Presents
F.A.S.T. — Firefighter Assist and Search Team
Firefighter and surfing champion, Jerry Wallender, looks like a hero to the world, but he can’t see it. He keeps falling for these intellectual guys who end up making him feel dumb and unneeded. On top of that, Mick Cassidy, super-gorgeous firefighter and total homophobe, makes Jerry’s life miserable with his slurs. Then one day Mick’s nice to Jerry and, at the Firefighter’s Ball, Jerry offers a helping hand and ends up with a hand-job. What the hell is going on?
Mick Cassidy is great with fighting fires and solving math problems but rotten with people. Raised by a gay-hating preacher, Mick’s carefully constructed world of gay bashing starts to crumble when he meets Jerry, the nicest, kindest man he’s ever known. Mick’s never wanted a woman and can’t stop thinking about sex with Jerry. In fact, he can’t stop doing it. Does that make him gay? And if he’s gay, what happens to his whole life? A hook-up between sweet Jerry and mean Mick might be total disaster — or the smartest idea Jerry ever had.
Jerry is a simple guy, a sweet-heart who woks for the fire department, tries to find love with guys who he thinks are too smart for him, but still has a great outlook on life. And he loves to surf.
Mick is a unique soul raised by strict parents in a sort of cult who has near genius math skills but very few social skills. He’s at first a ridiculous homophobe who lashes out at anyone remotely gay, but at home secretly loves porn with big dicks.
Something about Jerry draws Mick in and he can’t help but admire the guy who seems to always act the hero, but never get a swollen ego.
Eventually Jerry and Mick become friends. Jerry helps Mick to bend his brain around the idea that he might be gay and in fact might really be attracted to Jerry himself.
Jerry has always found the bigoted guy hot, even if he drove him crazy. When Jerry finds himself in a life or death situation, Mick has to make a brave call that ends up driving them together and forces them to act on their smoldering attraction.
I love this series by Tara Lain! All of the guys in these stories are unique and special and Jerry and Mick are my most favorite!
Mick’s gentle self-discovery and Jerry’s constant support are really touching. Though the cult thing threw me at first, it really kinda fits and I love how Mick’s mom doesn’t act like you think she would.
All the books in this series are smokin’ hot, but the love story really is the main thing, and each one ends in a way that makes you think of forever.
Though this is only one book in the series, I highly recommend the entire group and this one in particular. You don’t have to read them in order but it does give it a bit more depth as the MCs play recurring roles.
4.5 of 5 stars
(Copy purchased for review)
Etopia press presents
Kieran Delaney-Schwartz—adoptee, underachiever, and self-professed slacker IT guy—lives his under-the-radar life by the motto: Don’t try, don’t fail. His adopted siblings are all overachievers thanks to his driven, liberal parents, but Kieran has elected to avoid disappointing anyone by not getting their hopes up. He’s coasting through his early twenties when he’s hit head-on by Theo. The successful decade-older Broadway producer sweeps him off his feet for a whirlwind thirteen months that are pretty sweet until it all comes screeching to a halt on Valentine’s Day, with an unexpected proposal via a NYC Times Square Flash mob.
Now everyone wants in on the wedding, except the grooms…
Kieran and Theo have been living together for several months and dating for over a year. Everything looks likes it’s going great, so what does Theo do? He takes his very introverted and socially awkward lover to Times Square to propose to him (without having ever brought up marriage before) with a flash mob made up of Broadway singers and dancers.
Not wanting to hurt Theo in front of God and everybody Kieran reluctantly says yes, but it is not his idea of an ideal situation.
Then, to compound things a morning talk show runs with this and promotes their marriage by offering to pay for their wedding in Hawaii so long as they do it in 2 weeks.
Now, just when we think Kieran is going to make a run for it, they manage to come to an agreement only to have it blow up in their faces whether its from well-meaning friends, or family or a devious producer.
In any case, they manage to finally come to an agreement everyone can live with.
This was a different KA Mitchell than I’m used to. I’m quite used to her having “anti-heros” (Bad Boyfriend series) and smokin’ hot sex scenes and these are there. But she has also really touched on some of the important issues every couple faces – communication, trust, honesty and a willingness to be vulnerable.
There were times when I was so mad at both guys, but I totally saw where they were coming from.
I got a little bogged down by the side story with Theo’s college buddies and wondered at the amount of page time they received but I appreciated some of what they had to offer.
I was also a little disappointed by the ending – I won’t spoil it for you – because it didn’t feel as deeply personal and emotional as the rest of the story and in fact felt pretty rushed.
That being said it was still a great book and a nice change of pace from the typical romance that starts with two lovers meeting and ends with them in and a HEA.
4.5 of 5 stars
(Copy purchased for review)
College professor James Richards is in a rut and feeling his age. He moved to northern California to escape heartbreak and humiliation, but so far the only good thing to happen to him has been his Boston terrier, Marlowe.
Then James’s toughest student sets him up with her best friend. Rafael Ochoa is worlds apart from James—chronologically, culturally, and philosophically—but he’s also beautiful, kind, and a shot of adrenaline to James’s not-quite-middle-aged heart. Together, the two of them forge a bridge between James’s East Coast sensibilities and Rafael’s West Coast casualness, but can their meeting of the hearts survive James’s lack of faith in happy-ever-after?
This is the prequel to You Can’t Make an Omelet from the DSP’s Halloween Howl Series.
James has run from Maine because he got worked over spectacularly by his ex. He now works as a tenured professor in a small community college in California and he’s feeling each and every one of his 43 (bitter) years. Except… for his dog. He loves his dog and … well… he loves to teach, too.
Rafael is in his late twenties and hasn’t settled down because in his family they don’t believe in “the gay”. So despite his huge heart and hot body, he can’t find someone willing to be with him long-term.
When Rafael’s friend (and James’ student) set the pair up for a cute meet, it’s instant attraction but neither feels the other could possibly be in it long term.
But James can see the big picture and understands that sometimes life is the bridge where you meet and Rafael knows how to be loyal and true and sometimes those cute meets work out into forever.
I laughed when I read on GoodReads that this is the “prequel” to the teeny tiny short story from the DSP Halloween anthology. It’s wonderful (so is the Halloween story, but this is like 5 times as long!). James struggles so hard not to be a sad sack, but his heart is still broken and (more importantly?) so is his pride. When he sees the “underwear model” Rafi – it’s so wonderful how he’s willing to at least let go long enough to give it a try.
I loved that Rafi was so blunt and open with his feelings. We didn’t have to do the whole “men who won’t talk trying to figure their shit out” thing, because both men were fairly transparent. And… there were still problems to be worked out – real problems- and prejudices that had to be left behind.
The smexy times in this book are scorching and the humor is practically on every page but the most outstanding part of this story is the deep emotion and vulnerability that both guys show – pretty much from the start.
I loved this story very much and if you haven’t yet – I urge you to look it up!
(Plus – YOWZA that cover! Ai- papi!)
5 of 5 stars
Purchased for Review
This stand alone version includes Bonus Scenes adding an additional ten thousand words to this novella. Closet Confession was previously released in the Night Shift Anthology.
Dr. Derek Babineaux is intelligent, dedicated, and one of the best ER physicians in the fast-paced world of critical care at Tulane Medical in New Orleans. Always on top of his game, he’s thrown off balance when the newest medical staff member finally unleashes his hidden desires.
Justin Delacroix’s job at the inner city’s busiest hospital might be just what he needs to ease back into civilian life after a long stint in the military. High-performing shifts make working as a trauma nurse at TMC the perfect way to utilize his skills and quick reaction times. There’s only one problem, his attraction for one sexy ER doctor is off the charts, but he has his reasons for not returning Dr. Baby’s night shift advances. Or maybe he doesn’t.
First, let me warn you that since this was first presented as a short story in an anthology the first part takes place later in the lives of our MCs and there’s a flash-back that explains their back-story in the middle, followed by a new part added of their future.
So it’s a bit confusing but stick with it – it’s totally worth it!
Derek and Justin work at the same hospital and have the hots for one another. Justin does’t want to come out of the closet and also feels he isn’t good enough for the good Doctor.
Derek is tired of hiding his relationship but doesn’t want to push too hard.
In the end, both men realize they need to be brave to get what they truly want from life or else losing everything.
This is a super sweet, very hot, sometimes funny novella that will leave you with a smile on your face.
I loved the nurses and Dr. Baby’s aunt – so funny!
The smexy times are hot and the emotion is touching.
4.5 of 5 stars
(Copy purchased for review)
Kindle Alexander Presents
When alpha shifter Mikael Volokov is called to witness a challenge, he learns the evil and power-hungry Anton Gregor will stop at nothing to attain victory. Knowing he will need alliances to keep his pack together, Mikael requests a congress with the nearby Evergreen pack and meets Denton Arguson, Evergreen alpha, to ask for his help. Fate has a strange twist for both of them, though, and Mikael and Denton soon realize they’re destined mates.
Denton resists the pull between them—he has his own pack and his own responsibilities. But Mikael isn’t willing to give up. The Mother has promised Mikael his mate, told him he must fight for him, and that only together can they defeat the coming darkness. When Anton casts his sights on Denton’s pack, attacks and sabotage follow, pulling Denton and Mikael together to defeat a common enemy. But Anton’s threats sow seeds of destruction enough to break any bond, and the mates’ determination to challenge the darkness may be their only saving grace.
Mikael and Denton meet as alphas of neighboring packs who must unite against an evil shifter determined to take over the entire territory. They realize they are mates, but fight it – everyone knows two alphas will never work as mates, right?
What results is a long, slow romance between two hot-headed and hot shifters. Mikael is the first to realize how vital the mating between them will be. In addition to his own gut instincts, he’s received a message from the Goddess telling him that their partnership will be required to conquer the evil Anton.
The chemistry between these guys is combustible! They slowly get to know one another until they can’t stand to be apart. It was great watching the slow transformation from almost enemies to lovers.
Anton’s plot takes up a lot of storyline and involves several other players who I hope will become MCs in later books.
There is a fair amount of world-building and time spent as wolves – something I always appreciate in a good shifter novel.
The ending is climactic and exciting and also very sentimental and touching.
I really enjoyed this new shifter book and look forward to the series.
4.5 of 5 stars
Copy purchased for review