by Karrie Jax
For more look here: https://openskyebookreviews.com/fan-art/
It’s not easy for a young gay artist like Jordan Carson to grow up in Jefferson, Wisconsin, where all anyone seems to care about in middle school and high school are the sports teams. But Jordan was lucky. He met Owen Nelson in the second grade, and they’ve been BFFs ever since. Owen is a big, beautiful blond and their school’s champion wrestler. No one messes with Owen, or with anyone close to him, and he bucks popular opinion by keeping Jordan as his wingman even after Jordan comes out at school.
Their friendship survives, but Jordan’s worst enemy may be himself: he can’t seem to help the fact that he is head-over-heels in love with a hopeless case—his straight friend, Owen. Owen won’t let anything take Jordan’s friendship away, but he never counted on Jordan running off to find a life of his own. Owen will have to face the nature of their relationship if he’s to win Jordan back.
Owen and Jordy have been friends since forever. Jordy is the arty, small boy to Owen’s large, jock, wrestling counterpart. When Jordy comes out Owen protects him and together they make a comic about a superhero who looks suspiciously like Owen with a counterpart who is suspiciously like Jordy.
Once, in a swimming pool, things between Jordy and Owen crossed the line – but Owen wasn’t ready for something like that, so it gets “tabled”. They remain friends, and in fact the three of them (Jordy, Owen and Emily – Owen’s long standing girl friend) remain tight throughout high school.
Eventually these guys face graduation and moving on to college. It’s at this crossroads that Owen must decide where his loyalties lie. Emily has decided on Smith – no wrestling there!- and her own career path. Owen had thought Jordy and he would be together forever, but when Jordy chooses something different, Owen has to come to grips with the fact that he can do without a lot of things – Jordy isn’t one of them.
You know I’m a huge Eli Easton fan (all my previous reviews can be found here: http://kimichanexperience.com/?s=Eli+Easton or on GoodReads https://www.goodreads.com/search?utf8=%E2%9C%93&query=Eli+Easton), so this was right up there among the top titles of favorite books. The best part is that though it is YA, there’s an appropriate amount of hot smexy times, done just like Eli knows how to do ‘em!
The HEA and feels in this book are wonderful, as are the very well developed MCs and secondary characters.
Eli’s writing is always crisp and flowing, smart and engaging. She makes you laugh and say “awwww” every time.
“Say yes, Jordan,” he said, shifting closer.
“No,” I said.
Owen smiled. “Close enough.” And then he kissed me.”
I highly recommend this to any fan of the GFY/friends-to-lovers theme, don’t be dissuaded by the age, it’s just as hot as you’d want it to be!
Tristan Wright is a new narrator to me, but he does an excellent job with the narration. He doesn’t do anything over the top as far as voicing or acting goes, but he’s easy to listen to and does a nice job with the emotions and making the story come to life.
5 of 5 stars
(Copy purchased for review)
Joel Martinez, a practical and organized computer programmer, is roommates with Ian Cooper, a certified IQ-in-the- stratosphere mathematical genius who literally can’t find his own underwear in the mess of his day-to-day life. When Joel uneasily leaves Ian for the holidays, he ends up telling stories to his sister and discovers he feels much more for Ian than he thought. So when Ian calls, distraught because the only other thing in his life that loves him (a half-feral cat named Manky Bastard) is going to have to be put down, Joel hurries back home hoping that opposites really do attract.
Part of the Dreamspinner Press “Mistletoe Madness” advent calendar
In this short story, Joel has a roommate, Ian who is a bit of a hot-mess. Ian has a huge IQ but not a great grasp on the mundane. Joel is a steadying influence and a great friend.
When Joel goes home for Thanksgiving it becomes clear to both guys that they mean something more to the other – more than just a body to come home to or someone to watch out for the laundry.
What I loved about this story – besides the humor – is the great development we see of Joel as a “clueless gay” guy. Without hitting us on the head, through a lovely demonstration of show (not tell) Amy exposes the subtle ways that Joel creeps from “buddy” , to “close friend”, to potential lover. In his language, accent and the use of the word “papi”. It’s wonderful! Such a short book but we get a great movement from just met through several months and I didn’t feel like I missed anything!
Of course, when we have these short stories, I am always sad to see them end and hopeful to see these guys again in the future – but it was a great look at this new “OFY” relationship and a definite HEA… even though… Amy had to give us some angst… poor Manky Bastard 🙁
6 of 5 stars
Purchased for Review
Latino linebacker Emilio Madero has a huge crush on the new backup quarterback. He’s perfection in motion with his lean, muscled body and rich-boy good looks. But there’s no way in hell Emilio is going to do anything about it. He’ll just have to be content with fantasizing about the guy of his dreams and watching him from afar, because hitting on another player is out of the question. That is until Andrew turns the tables and makes the first move. Then all bets are off as the two of them drift into uncharted territory.
So this is a bit sized love story that is pretty angst-ridden.
Emilio has a crush on Andrew but fears he’s out-classed by the all American freshman. Not to mention that he can’t just be gay with a guy on the team.
The night the two get together is a truly awful event of hazing and then furtive sex between a jaded “player” and a golden-hearted virgin. Andrew has a lot to teach Emilio about love – the kind you do with your heart.
The smexy times are super hot between these two and in a short number of pages you get the idea that they just might have a chance at something – it’s definitely something that keeps you interested in the series.
But… be warned it is hard to read at times, there is a lot of pain in this story, but a lot of feels too. And a HFN, no HEA – not yet.
Chris Patton is amazing. I really have become quite a fan of his. I’ve enjoyed every one of his narrations and though he doesn’t do anything “over the top”, he is really good at handling emotions and making you part of the story. It definitely adds to the overall experience.
4.25 of 5 hearts
Former Navy SEAL Axel Blaze lives a solitary life. He doesn’t do emotions, and he doesn’t do babysitting. Used to being on his own, his job consists of Wetwork (a charming term coined by the KGB) for his former Master Chief, Mac. When an out-of-the-ordinary job lands on his doorstep, Axel heads down a path that includes a famous heavy metal rock band and one quiet, vulnerable, guitar-shredding virtuoso named Gareth Wolf.
Gareth Wolf’s life changed in an instant when a car he was a passenger in crashed, hurting his brother’s best friend and the band’s lead guitarist. They created the band, Skull Blasters, as kids. Gareth had always been happy in the background, playing roadie. With the lead guitarist’s injury, Gareth is suddenly thrust into the limelight and into a frenzied life he never imagined for himself. Finally fed up with living a lie, Gareth comes out as gay in a newspaper interview and finds himself in the bulls-eye of a crazed stalker. Somebody wants Gareth hurt – or worse – and Mac has been hired to be sure that doesn’t happen. Babysitting duty is NOT Axel’s strong suit, but Mac won’t be budged.
Enter Axel Blaze. Against his better judgment, the big man takes the job to protect the shy musician. The more time he spends with Gareth Wolf, the more he admires the man. Where’s a simple assassination when you need one? The situation becomes more volatile for each man as the attempts on Gareth escalate just as Axel finds himself falling for the quiet lead guitarist.
Strong, funny, smart-ass — and kinda sweet Axel is everything Gareth has ever wanted in a man. Too bad he’s off limits. As the stalker grows bolder, Gareth and Axel move closer emotionally – but is it too late? All Axel knows is that they don’t stand a chance if he can’t find the maniac trying to kill the man he’s come to care about. A lot.
Everyone knows that relationships that begin in pressured or volatile situations eventually fizzle out. Or do they?
Gareth and his brother have been beaten down by life, but came up swinging. They formed a band and have hit the top after touring with Black Ice and Ivory Tower (from Ann Lister’s Rock God Series). Now Gareth wants to come out and live honestly (and quit having sex with women and start having sex with men!) When he does come out a crazy stalker keeps trying to hurt him, so the band hires a bodyguard, Axel Blaze to protect him.
Axel is a tough ex-Seal, gay, but doesn’t “do” relationships. He has a hard time letting anyone touch him beyond the basic necessities and an even harder time opening up emotionally.
At first Gareth resents the need for Axel and Axel doesn’t make it easy for him. But the constant stream of near misses proves Axel’s importance and skill at life saving and the constant time spent together shows the two how much more they could have if they just let it happen.
This was a tremendously sweet, sexy and fun story. There are a few areas where I didn’t exactly follow the logic of the “stalker”, but in the end that really didn’t matter.
The smexy times and chemistry between Axel and Gareth is wonderful and the slow burn to the final coming together was well worth the wait.
I loved the HEA and really enjoyed all the parts leading up to it. The low angst, high steam is just what I was craving and I highly recommend it.
I’m really looking forward to more in this series.
4.5 of 5 stars
(Copy purchased for review)
Skull Blaster Publishing Presents
(Free on Kindle Unlimited!)
Jared Templeton returned to Colin City for one reason, to make it through his sister’s wedding. After that he wanted to return to his home in Massachusetts and go back to his blessed solitude and his life as an assassin. He didn’t plan on attending a viewing for a deceased mentor, agreeing to help his shifter friend rescue a blind man, or learning that he had a shifter mate, a male shifter mate. He’d never been attracted to a man before, but he couldn’t deny that he lusted after this one. And he had no clue what to do about it, or how he could fit the wolf shifter into his life if he did give in to his desires.
Carson Angeni is the enforcer for the Stone Ridge wolf pack. He’s followed his alpha’s commands and obeyed him without question, even to the point of taking lives to ensure the safety of his pack. When he’s faced with a mate who kills for money, with no remorse and no conscience, he questions Fate’s choice. How can he accept someone who seems to get his jollies by goading those around him, not to mention Jared lives halfway across the country? But as he gets to know the man, Carson learns that there is more to him than Jared’s brash exterior displays. There’s definitely a connection between them and both have trouble denying it, but Carson can’t accept Jared’s work as an assassin. And when Carson discovers that Jared knew from the beginning that he was Carson’s mate, it creates even more tension between them. Can Carson learn to trust his mate while trying to convince Jared to give up the only life and the only job he’s ever known, to settle with him in Stone Ridge?
This is the first book of this series for which I’ve done a formal review – but I gotta tell you that I love this series so much!
I chose this book to start with because Carson and Jared hold a special place in my heart – they are so damn funny and so damn sexy that I get excited and giggle any time they get mentioned. So far Charlie Richards has put these guys in several of the following stories and each time they get a little bit cuter and lot more kinky!
I am (desperately) hoping these guys get their own sequel in the future… maybe with babies… hint hint!
In any case… this book introduces them as a couple. At first Jared identifies as straight, but as you know that mating bond takes hold and makes even the straightest guy think twice.
Carson is this tough, stoic, calm (most of the time) guy and acts as the perfect foil for Jared’s outrageous personality. Within moments of meeting Jared is willing to explore the “gay side” of his sexuality and the two go hot and heavy on the dance floor.
Jared is more than just a pretty face, however. He’s got mad skills with a gun and knows his way around security systems and computers, as well.
Together he and Carson help to free some of the shifters who have been captured by the evil scientists and they manage to take time for making out, too!
You don’t have to read the series in order, but it really helps to give it more depth. Each is it’s own HEA and has it’s own pair of MCs but the other characters have recurring rolls, so it’s good to know them ahead of time.
I highly recommend this series and this book in particular if you like snark, humor, hot, kinky sex and shifters who give everything for their mates.
5 of 5 stars
(Copy purchased for review)
Extasy books presents:
*Helping Hand is the first in the series. This story is a spin-off and both books can be read as standalones.
Josh has a plan: get through uni with a good degree and no debt. Focused on his goals, he pays his way by working as an escort. He enjoys the no-strings sex because he doesn’t have time for a relationship. Falling in love definitely isn’t part of the deal—especially not with a client.
When Rupert meets Josh in a bar, he’s smitten on sight. He’s never paid for sex, but when Josh propositions him, he can’t resist. He should’ve known one night would never be enough. Luckily for him he has an inheritance to fund his addiction to Josh, because his job in IT support wouldn’t cover the cost.
With each encounter the lines get blurred, creating something that feels more like a relationship than a business transaction. But they come from different worlds, and to go from client-and-escort to lovers seems impossible. If they want a future together, Josh and Rupert have a lot to overcome.
“I like your lip ring,” Rupert said. His gaze dropped lower to Josh’s collarbones. “What are your tattoos of?”
“Swallows.” Rupert would just be able to see the wing tips that showed in this low-necked T-shirt. “Two of them.”
“Have you got any other tattoos?”
Josh gave a slow, teasing smile. “Maybe. Do you want me to show you?”
Rupert met his eyes again. There was a flicker of uncertainty before he answered. “Yes. I’d like that.”
Josh turned over the possibilities in his mind. It had been a long time since he’d had sex for anything other than for money. He usually saw clients at least three nights a week. They scratched the itch for him, and he didn’t have the time or inclination to hook up with other guys. He hadn’t dated since he’d started working as an escort. Josh didn’t like lying about his job, but most guys didn’t want to date escorts.
It would be easy to pick Rupert up tonight, though, and have no-strings sex with him for fun rather than cash. But Josh’s rent was due.
“Me too. But it’ll cost you,” he finally said.
Rupert frowned, obvious confusion crossing his features as he tried to make sense of Josh’s words. “What? I don’t—”
“You’re hot, and I wish I could do this without asking you for money. But a client let me down this evening. I have a hotel room booked and paid for next door, and I need someone to cover the cost for me.” The lie came smoothly. “I can’t afford to have sex for free tonight.”
Rupert’s mouth dropped open. Shock was evident on his face, but there was something else that was harder to read. His cheeks flooded pink again and his eyes went dark. “You’re….” His voice came out husky, and he cleared his throat. “You’re a….”
“A sex worker. An escort, to be precise. Hooker, rent boy, you get the gist. I’m an expensive one too. But my clients think I’m worth the money.” Josh waited, tension making a muscle tick in his jaw as he forced himself to stay still and hold Rupert’s gaze. On the occasions he’d tried picking up clients face-to-face, their reactions had varied. Interest, anger, excitement, disgust… he’d seen them all. He steeled himself, ready for rejection.
Rupert licked his lips. “How much?” he finally asked.
In Helping Hands we met Josh as the roommate of Jez and Mac. He’s known in the house as a “player”, but in reality, he’s a rent boy. So each night out he works hard for the money in order to go to university. His parents are out of the picture and he doesn’t want student loans.
Rupert is a shy IT guy who normally has a hard time meeting people. When he’s stood up at the same bar as Josh one night, the two strike up a conversation. When Josh makes it clear that he’d love to spend more time with Rupert, but it’ll cost him, something takes over Rupert and he finds some new-born confidence.
The sex is phenomenal and both parties are left a bit shaken. They quickly make plans to be together again, and again, and again. Though there is always an exchange of money, it begins to feel wrong as their emotions get involved.
Finally, on a long “working” weekend where Josh poses as Rupert’s boyfriend, the lines get so blurry as to be non-existent between “client” and “lover”.
This book was another wonderful example of Jay Northcote’s ability to give us a very sweet romance, no matter the circumstances. Yes, there were times when I wished she’d delved a bit deeper into the emotional impact Josh’s job had on both parties, but I appreciated that from early on Josh admitted to fantasizing about Rupert while with his other “clients”.
I think that – if you can believe it- there was more sex in this story than needed to be. I wanted to have more of an emotional connection between these guys than I saw on page. Yes, they did do some other, non-sex related things with each other, but I didn’t get to see enough of it to really buy into their HEA.
Rupert is a super sweet MC and though Josh isn’t a bad guy, I didn’t ever see him as being quite “worth” of Rupert… he just needed to spend more time with the guy as himself, not as his escort.
That being said… I enjoyed reading this and the writing was excellent – as always – and I will certainly look forward to any more books in this series.
3.5 of 5 stars
(Copy provided by author for review)
Jay lives just outside Bristol in the West of England, with her husband, two children, and two cats.
She comes from a family of writers, but she always used to believe that the gene for fiction writing had passed her by. She spent years only ever writing emails, articles, or website content. One day, she decided to try and write a short story–just to see if she could–and found it rather addictive. She hasn’t stopped writing since.