Release Day Review: Heart of a Redneck by Jodi Payne and BA Tortuga

release day review

Dreamspinner
https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/heart-of-a-redneck-by-jodi-payne-and-ba-tortuga-9971-b

Blurb: Colby McBride is a blue-collar cowboy trying to make ends meet laying tile in Colorado. A loner by choice, Colby works hard with his hands and finds his peace camping in the mountains outside Boulder. Gordon James is a white-collar restaurateur who owns not one, but two successful establishments in downtown Boulder. He’s a sophisticated urbanite who is devoted to his work and is accustomed to getting what he wants.
The men are friends, but sparks fly when Colby falls in love and decides to show Gordon how much fun a good old boy can be. They’re just beginning to explore their relationship when Gordon’s sister’s suicide leaves him with custody of his five-year-old niece.
Colby comes from a huge family and is eager to help with the girl and to prove his worth to Gordon. But neither of them is ready for the tremendous changes to their already busy lives, or for how this new relationship with Olivia challenges them, complicating the way they interact with each other.

They say opposites attract, but can these two very different men work together to join their disparate lives and form a strong, if highly unlikely, family?

Review:

I was expecting another nice, low angst read with lots of humour and heart from BA Tortuga. And yes, I got that and a bit more from this collaboration with Jodi Payne.
I really liked the 2 MCs: Gordon (Gordy), a well to do, somewhat cultured restauranteur, and Colby, a blue collar, born and bred Texan that just happens to live in Colorado. The pairing of the 2 men should not have worked (and it didn’t always work between them), but they suited each other just fine.
Both men have been mutually attracted for a bit, and once they decide to act on the attraction they go hot and heavy. It’s all fun and games for them until Gordy becomes the guardian to his niece, Olivia. He automatically shuts Colby out, at first thinking that his thing with Colby might be a short term thing. Colby proves him wrong by helping Olivia settle in and Gordy, by being his backup, friend and partner.

So, as I mentioned there is the low angst and humour, but there was a lot of realistic feelings – Gordy being wary of Colby’s role in his (and his niece’s) life; the jealousy when Colby seems to connect with Olivia better than he does; all the while tring to run to very successful businesses. Colby is unsure of his part in ‘co-parenting’ Olivia – he doesn’t want to step on toes, but he’s a born nurturer and loves caring for both Gordy and Olivia. He’s also unsure of his budding relationship with Gordy – are they going to be serious, a family or is he just a casual thing.
Happily, they work things out – not perfectly, but with the understanding that they need to talk things out – they tend to get their wires crossed a lot.

As usual, the secondary characters are memorable. I found it to be a warm, fun story.

4 stars out of 5


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

 

 

 

Audiobook review: Alpha Heat by Leta Blake, narrated by Michael Ferraiuolo

audiobookreview

Audible Link

https://www.audible.com/pd/Alpha-Heat-Audiobook/B07JFPNMPT?ref=a_search_c3_lProduct_1_2&pf_rd_p=e81b7c27-6880-467a-b5a7-13cef5d729fe&pf_rd_r=8YC23T2BAR602CEFTRZK&

 

Blurb
A desperate young alpha. An older alpha with a hero complex. A forbidden love that can’t be denied.

Young Xan Heelies knows he can never have what he truly wants: a passionate romance and happy-ever-after with another alpha. It’s not only forbidden by the prevailing faith of the land, but such acts are illegal.

Urho Chase is a middle-aged alpha with a heartbreaking past. Careful, controlled, and steadfast, his friends dub him old-fashioned and staid. When Urho discovers a dangerous side to Xan’s life that he never imagined, his world is rocked and he’s consumed by desire. The carefully sewn seams that held him together after the loss of his omega and son come apart—and so does he.

But to love each other and make a life together, Xan and Urho risk utter ruin. With the acceptance and support of Caleb, Xan’s asexual and aromantic omega and dear friend, they must find the strength to embrace danger and build the family they deserve.

Review

Story:
I fell completely in love with Xan and Urho, who are both amazing, complex characters.
Xan is so filled with self-loathing and he has completely given up hope on ever being happy or deserving of happiness even. It was heartrending to read. I wasn’t prepared to feel such depth of emotion for a fictional character, but only a rock would fail to be moved by Xan’s troubles.

Urho was a perfect match for Xan.
I loved their connection and Urho’s acceptance and understanding of who Xan truly is. The first moments where Urho gets a glimpse of Xan’s true self, and his struggle to accept his own reaction to that truth were so intense! Loved that.

At first glance, Urho appears to be quite conservative and rigid in his thinking, but he bends and even breaks the rules when he needs to in order to be able to help others. He’s modest and brave and oh…be still, my beating heart! Just such a lovable, strong & silent type hero.
Xan throws Urho for a loop, because he doesn’t fit their society’s established gender roles and so Urho is required to rethink some of his long-held beliefs.

I was a bit apprehensive about how Caleb would fit in. But I needn’t have worried. He’s such an extraordinary individual. The bond between Xan, Urho and Caleb is not a romantic one, but it is a deeply loving one, just the same. They’re a family unit. The author totally makes it work.

This book also stands out to me because of the astonishing amount of detail that went into the world-building. The author raises some fascinating points about gender identity, sexual orientation and the danger of entwining politics and religion. There’s also a great set of secondary characters that surround the MC’s, friends we know already from Slow Heat as well as new characters that I hope to see again in future books.

Narration:
Michael Ferraiuolo is a brilliant performer. Simple as that. How he manages to do so many different voices and match them so perfectly to the characters, I’ll never understand. I’m so glad that he did this sequel to Slow Heat as well, because it was absolutely wonderful to hear Jason and Vale’s voices again too. I must confess that I’m something of a Xan and Urho fangirl and I was so excited and curious to hear their story in audio! It was everything I hoped for and more.
I loved hearing Michael Ferraiuolo’s interpretation of their voices and interactions. The nuance and emotion which he brought to these fictional characters took the entire book to a whole new level.
And it was already pretty amazing. I’m awestruck.

Number of stars out of 5: 5


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

 

 

 

Time to Comfort: Designs of Desire by Tempeste O’Riley Narrated by Max Lehnen

Good Reads Link

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18139107-designs-of-desire?from_search=tru

Blurb

Artist James Bryant has forearm crutches in every color from rainbow for fun to sleek black for business. He even has a pair with more paint splatters than metal. After his family’s rejection and abuse from a man he thought loved him, James only just gets through the day by painting. He lives in constant fear that he’s not worthy of anything, let alone love.

As CEO of his company, Carrington Enterprises, Seth Burns is a take-charge kind of guy, and he is instantly smitten by the artist helping with his newest project. When he witnesses James suffer a panic attack, a protective instinct he never knew he had kicks in. He truly believes nothing is unobtainable—including James—if he’s willing to put in the time and effort.

James is shy and confused by Seth’s interest in him as a person. With Seth’s support, can he work through his fears to finally find the true love he deserves, or will someone finally land the crushing blow he won’t survive?

Review
It seems like this is one of those stories you either enjoy or don’t. It’s an insta love kind of story. James was born with a genetic condition which affects his joints. James’s past relationships have been a disaster, with his last partner abusing him. It has taken him a long time to consider another relationship. Then along comes Seth. Not a person to take no for an answer. He is determined to show James BDSM is not abuse.
Whilst I liked the story James does seem to suffer or attract bad luck more than the average person. His fortunes turn when he meets Seth. The right man makes it all better! maybe it’s more the case that Seth builds James’s self belief and confidence back up so that he can show the world what a fantastic artist he is. This is the first book in a series, each one focuses on a different pair of characters, and can be read alone.
I’ve read this story and when you have a good narrator it can bring different aspects to the story and make it almost feel like the first time. Unfortunately not in this case. I couldn’t quite match the voices to either Seth or James, there isn’t any distinction between characters. Although not unpleasant to listen to. The story just felt like I was being read to by someone who wasn’t that interested. It was the story itself that kept me tuned in otherwise I might’ve zoned out. The narrator changes for the rest of the series series, not necessarily for the better.

3 of stars out of 5 for the story
2 of stars out of 5 for the narrator
overall 2.5 of 5 stars

Purchased for Review

 

 

 

 

Recently Released: Fae on a Roll (Kontra’s Menagerie #25) by Charlie Richards

Good Reads

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/42092323-fae-on-a-roll?ac=1&from_search=true

Blurb

On the Road: When a serious fae warrior stumbles across his soul-mate in a fun-loving, paralyzed human, he discovers the hardest task in his life is learning how to connect.

Prudhoe Rison is a specially trained fae enforcer and had been sent to the human realm to search for a missing prince. After completing that task, he should have returned home, but feeling a pull to stay, he’s remained for several weeks. Wandering the town to discover the source of the sensation has proven fruitless…until he drives past the library. The pull he’s been feeling intensifies, and he follows it into the building. There he meets Korvyn Peruke—his paramour—the other half of his soul. Prudhoe is drawn to Korvyn’s friendly disposition and outgoing personality. Even though the human is wheelchair-bound, it doesn’t stop Korvyn from enjoying life.

At first, Korvyn doesn’t understand why the serious and handsome Prudhoe is taking an interest in him—until he puts two and two together. A visit from a fae enforcer alerts Prudhoe that people in his own realm are talking about him. It also tells Korvyn—who already knows about paranormals—that Prudhoe is something other. Can Prudhoe keep Korvyn safe when trouble from the fae realm comes calling, or will he have to make the ultimate sacrifice to keep Korvyn safe?

Review

While helping rescue a fae prince, enforcer Prudhoe senses his paramour (mate) in the area. After completing his mission he stays in the area searching for him. He eventually finds Korvyn working in the local library. Korvyn can tell that there is something different about Prudhoe and having grown up knowing about shifters and paranormals he is more open to the concept of fated mates.

Sadly, this story didn’t have much of a storyline. There was promise of a good action or confrontation scene when Prudhoe’s brother shows up to make trouble, but it ended up being a pretty lackluster scene. The ending was very abrupt and unsatisfying. I’ve been a big fan of this whole series therefore I am used to the quick ending stories Charlie usually writes but sadly this one falls really short.

2.5 stars


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

 

 

 

Release Day Review:The Kinsey Scale (Campus Connections #1)by CJane Elliott

release day review

Dreamspinner

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/the-kinsey-scale-by-cjane-elliott-9963-b

Blurb

Life is good for Eric Brown. He’s a senior theater major, an RA for a freshman dorm, and has a great circle of friends. Single since sophomore year, Eric isn’t looking for love. But then Will Butler—fellow senior, co-RA, and the cutest guy Eric’s ever seen—walks into his dorm. Will has a girlfriend he sees off campus—a minor disappointment that becomes a major problem when a housing shortage causes Will and Eric to become roommates, and Eric is forced to witness Will’s hotness day in and day out. For protection, Eric asks Jerry, his ex-boyfriend, to pretend they’re still together. Jerry warns him it’s a stupid idea, but he reluctantly agrees.

Too bad it won’t save Eric from losing his heart.

Will Butler has never believed in himself. His dysfunctional family saw to that. Although Will has loved music since childhood, he’s never seriously considered pursuing it, and the person he’s dating doesn’t encourage him. Then he and Eric Brown become roommates, and everything changes. Eric believes in Will and his talent. He’s also gorgeous and playful and fast becoming Will’s best friend. And that’s not good, because Will is hiding some big things, not only from Eric, but from himself.

Review
I really liked this! I thought the characters were great and though I sometimes felt like they were missing the boat by just not TALKING I could kinda understand it given their respective ages.

I liked the smexy times (though I wish there were more) and really felt the HEA was worth the time invested. Highly enjoyable!

4 of 5 stars


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

Review
This book took me a long time to read. Not because it was particularly difficult or taxing, but just that it didn’t engage me at all. At 65% through, I was still waiting for something to happen. For a book about a drama student there really was no… well, drama.
Everything is written from Eric’s point of view, but it felt like we never really get to know him as we bounced through the academic term. And Will similarly so.
Will had a potential home life back story that could be quite interesting, but nothing was made of it. His music, another strong potential story never flourished.
The best character of the bunch was Jerry, the pretend boyfriend as we got to see some animation from him, the rest just seemed insipid.
Sadly, this book did not live up to the blurb.

2.5 stars out of 5


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

 

 

Recent Review: Running Blind (Havoc #2) by S.E. Jakes

Good Reads Link
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22094535-running-blind?from_search=true

Blurb

An ATF agent who lives for danger finds what he craves from an outlaw biker.

It’s impossible for a one-percenter motorcycle club member to simply walk away—and no one knows that better than undercover agent Bram, who’s almost killed for trying. His cover isn’t blown—yet—but it’s only a matter of time. The Heathens won’t be satisfied until he’s dead, so he decides to lay low and heal.

But when his younger brother’s disappearance throws a wrench into his plan, Bram ends up in Shades Run, a town ruled by the notorious Havoc MC. In less than twenty-four hours, Bram finds himself at the mercy of Sweet, Havoc’s president, as he throws himself into the undercover role of a lifetime: himself. A man who’s never belonged anywhere, and who will do anything to protect his younger brother.

When finding Linc seems impossible, Bram is torn between Sweet, Linc, and revealing his true identities . . . and there appears to be no way out. Once again, he risks it all trying to save it all. Only this time he’s got no backup to save him if he falls.

Review

(Some spoilery type info – not to ruin the plot though.)

Honestly I had thought SE Jakes had stopped writing.  It’s taken literally FOREVER for her to publish another book in this or her other series (m/m).  As a result I sure had some high expectations for this…

On the one hand – she delivers the rough love we’ve come to expect from her.  Very damaged people with questionable moral compasses doing what it takes to survive in their hard worlds.

We get to see a bit of some of our favorite MCs from previous books.

There is a LOT of very kinky sex.  A lot.  Kinky.  This absolutely lowered my rating.  At one point I’m not sure there was consent and it there was I wasn’t sure it was for multiple partners or fisting.  This didn’t sit well with me and as a result I won’t be buying the audio or reading this again.  I barely finished the first time.

I know that’s very person dependent so if that’s your thing – awesome!

I did love the HEA and how it came back around again to trust – it just never felt comfortable and I never felt the connection between these guys that I did the MCs from book 1.

Somewhat recommended – but read some reviews and read her other stuff before this.


Purchased for Review

Recent Release: Not Just Friends by Jay Northcote

Good Reads Link

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/42181544-not-just-friends

Blurb
Is it worth risking a friendship for a chance at love?

Leaving home to go to university is an exciting phase in anyone’s life. One that’s full of new places, new friends, and new experiences. But Lewis isn’t prepared for the sudden and intense crush he develops on his out-and-proud flatmate, Max, because Lewis had always assumed he was straight.

Max starts dating another guy, and Lewis’s jealousy at seeing them together forces him to confront his growing attraction. When Max’s relationship goes awry, Lewis is the one to comfort him and one thing leads to another. After a night together, Lewis is devastated that Max wants to go back to being just friends.

Lewis tries his best to move on and their friendship survives, but the feelings he has for Max don’t go away. He faces other challenges as he deals with coming out to his parents, and needs Max’s support more than ever. But Lewis isn’t the only one who’s conflicted. When Max finally admits he cares for Lewis too, Lewis must decide whether he dares risk his heart again on being more than just friends.

Please note that although this edition has been re-edited for publication, there is no new or additional content.

Review
This book is has been re-edited from its original release but included no new content.
I am a big fan of Jay’s books. Being from the South West UK, it’s really great getting to read about places close to me and speech that I can easily hear in my head in the correct accent!
We follow Lewis as he starts at university, sharing student accommodation with four others guys but feeling an instant attraction towards Max. It’s not a new experience for him but the first time he’s contemplating it and making decisions about himself.
It’s a fun read with the five men meeting for the first time and getting to know each other, several nights out especially in Fresher’s week which is well known for the drunken shenanigans of new students!
Lewis’ inner turmoil regarding his sexuality and attraction to Max is our main focus and you’re easily pulled along for the ride with him. He doesn’t really have anyone to turn to which makes it harder for him to sort through his thoughts. We do get to meet some good characters. The other guys in the accommodation all have individual personalities that shine through, and then there are couple of people that are met on courses and societies that we get to read more of . They offer friendship and support at important times.
One thing I loved was when Lewis and Max go running and get to go along Avon Gorge and the Clifton Suspension Bridge. It was wonderfully written and described. Jay is a great writer at drawing you into the story and keeping you engaged throughout. The characters come across as very “real” to me and are people that I enjoy reading about. These students are mostly just starting out with independent living and first, big relationships. They’re fun to read and leave me wanting more.

Number of stars out of 5
4


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

Time to Comfort: Belonging (Firsts and Forever #8) By Alexa Land

Good Reads Link

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25368856-belonging?ac=1&from_search=true

Blurb

Can two damaged men build a future together from the shattered pieces of their lives?

Gianni Dombruso’s life was altered forever at the age of four, when his parents were murdered and he and his brothers went to live with their grandmother, the irrepressible Nana Dombruso. Now almost thirty, Gianni has spent his life bouncing from relationship to relationship, seeking but never finding the security and stability he so desperately craves.

Alexzander Tillane was one of the biggest pop stars in the world when he walked away from it all in the middle of a concert in 2002. Almost destroyed by the pressure of fame, Zan retreated to a life of quiet solitude in an effort to heal. But the cure backfired, leaving him with more issues than answers.

Zan knows he can’t give Gianni the stability he’s looking for, not with all his problems. He can’t even imagine why the beautiful younger man would want to get involved with someone so damaged, but the heat between them can’t be ignored. Giving in to it could be a huge mistake. Or maybe both men might end up right where they belong.

Approximately 98,000 words. Please note: contains explicit language and graphic sex. For ADULTS ONLY.

Review

First off this book is a part of a series, and while it can be read as a standalone, there are a lot of secondary characters that appear in previous books. I highly recommend reading the entire series for most enjoyment.

Zan is a former famous musician who walked away from everything when life became too much. He lives in complete isolation with only his son for company. Unfortunately, his son Christian is sick and unable to care for Zan any longer. Christian asks his good friend Gianni to fill in for him while he recovers. Gianni is a complicated character. He comes off as a very put together young man but in reality, he is a vulnerable, sensitive man who has poor self-esteem and is ok with being mistreated by past lovers because he feels like he deserves it. Zan has his own issues as well. He suffers from mental illness, which is now keeping him a prisoner in his own home and preventing him from living. When both men finally meet they are attracted to each other but neither one of them has any experience with healthy relationships and seem to be waiting for the other to make the first move. Gianni ends up thinking Zan hates him and his feeling of self-worth diminishes even further. He ends up leaving Zan in the care of one of his brothers and decided to go to New York to be with another man who treats him horribly. This is the push Zan needs to make the move. He ends up following Gianni to the airport and one of the hottest kisses happens here. Now Gianni is in an unfamiliar situation of becoming the caretaker in the relationship. With Zan’s mental issues, Gianni must become more aware of his moods in order to prevent Zan from sliding into darkness.

Belonging is a very much a fluffy enemy to lover sort of romance. There is very little angst and the romance between Zan and Gianni is sizzling. The character development in this book is amazing and you can’t help but falling in love with all of them. This is a beautiful story of two broken men overcoming their insecurities in order to be with each other. This is book is full of crazy, zany characters and it will have you laughing out loud.

5 Stars

Copy Purchased for Review

Recent Release: Clutch (Forbidden Desires #1) by Piper Scott and Virginia Kelly

Good Reads

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/42208487-clutch

Blurb

Bookish, snarky, and fiercely independent Nate Boudreaux leads a solitary life. Between teaching classes at the university and working toward his PhD, he doesn’t need a partner to occupy his time, and he certainly doesn’t need a man like Alistair Drake complicating his future.

Alistair Drake, black sheep of the tremendously wealthy Drake family, is more interested in adding another notch to his bedpost than another zero to his bank account. When a Grindr message brings him to Nate’s doorstep, then straight to his bed, he has no reason to believe that what they share will be more than a simple hookup, until, three months later, a tug on his soul informs him otherwise.

For the Drake family has a secret—one that will force Nate and Alistair together as much as it will demand that they be torn apart. One that Alistair and his brothers have carried all their lives… and one that Alistair and Nate’s future children will carry, too.

Bound to each other by the three precious impossibilities, Nate and Alistair have no choice—no matter the consequence, they will fight for their forbidden clutch.

Review

This book gives a different quirky twist to the usual mpreg alpha/omega story.
Both Nate and Alistair are likable characters who fit together well. The relationship between them moves along at a fast pace, with both snark and vulnerability balancing out the romance.
The comedy elements had me laughing out loud more than once through the story and the way Alistair takes off hand comments literally adds to the charm of the book.
The cast of secondary characters were a great addition, with an obvious set up for a following story that I look forward to reading.

4 stars out of 5

 

Purchased by the reviewer

 

Time to Comfort: Love Me Louder by Christina Lee

Good Reads Link

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/40663475-love-me-louder?from_search=true

Blurb
Noah Dixon is damaged goods. After an accident leaves him physically scarred and emotionally vulnerable, dating isn’t in the cards, so he throws himself head-first into his retail job. When he’s obligated to attend his best friend’s engagement party on Fire Island, it dawns on him he’s about to spend yet another weekend feeling totally invisible and alone among a swarm of gorgeous men.

That’s when the idea of an escort comes in.

After Will Crossen was forced to put his theater major on hold in favor of two jobs to tackle his ailing mother’s hospital bills, he tells himself becoming an escort isn’t that big of a deal. It’s just another form of acting, right? He doesn’t expect his newest customer to be the cheery, overconfident sales associate he avoids like the plague at his day job. Talk about awkward.

But what happens on Fire Island stays on Fire Island…especially when a smoldering attraction sparks into flames. Will doesn’t feel so alone anymore, and for the first time, Noah realizes someone is seeing him behind all the scars. But between their jobs, Will’s massive familial responsibilities, and Noah’s vulnerabilities, they don’t stand a chance unless they find a way to let love speak louder than their demons.

Review
I enjoyed this story immensely!!

It had everything I want in a romance: emotional depth and a real connection between the MC’s, great chemistry and a lovely slow-burn hurt/comfort theme.
Throw in the excitement and angst that comes with falling for a fake boyfriend and I knew I was in for an allnighter because no way was I putting this book down!

Noah feels inadequate and has a very low self-image, especially with regards to his appearance. Initially, this skews his view on the world, read Will, and he has a difficult time accepting that Will might be genuinely attracted to him.

Will takes care of his mother and works two jobs to make ends meet, giving up his dream of a career in the theatre. I love his sense of responsibility and family.

Noah and Will dance around each other and their true feelings for quite some time, afraid to give too much away and get hurt, hesitant to believe that what they share between them could be real.

I love how the fake boyfriend trope was written here, with the closed-off colleague turning out to be an escort! The author didn’t take the easy way out by turning the route of insta-lust, but slowly let the feelings build, raising the emotional stakes bit by bit.

We get to reconnect with some of my all-time favorite characters as well, which was a delightful surprise!
Tate & Sebastian are such an adorable couple and I loved that Tate’s alter ego, Frieda Love, was the one to give Noah and Will that final little nudge to help them confess their true feelings to one another!

As is the case in all her books, Christina Lee surrounds her MC’s with engaging, three-dimensional secondary characters, be they family, friends or co-workers, drawing us into the wonderful fictional world she created. If only there was a portal the reader could step through to make their acquaintance!

I loved the title of this book so much!! Its message is incredibly apt and feels so true to these two amazing characters.
The extraordinary Frieda Love sums it up marvelously:

“Sometimes people need you to love them a little louder!”

Number of stars out of 5: 5


Review copy provided by Author