Tuesday, July 28, 2015
Title: Breaking, Book #2 in Fall or Break
Author: Barbara Elsborg
Publisher/GR Link: Samhain, GR
Genre: MM Contemporary
Vice: Assassins, Alphas, On the Run
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
Cover Impressions: Looks great and matches book 1.
Best Line: "'You're my anchor,' Archer whispered in his ear. 'You keep me safe.'"
Synopsis:Archer Hart is on the move before the man he’s just killed is found. When a bullet whizzes past his ear, he realizes hunter is now hunted. So much for his retirement plans. Someone wants him dead and all he can do is keep running.
Downed by a hit and run driver, barrister Conrad Black is certain the ‘accident’ was deliberate but he has no proof or support. In recovery, struggling to work out of partial paralysis, he has plenty of time to wonder who regrets not striking him harder. At this point, running anywhere is a distant dream.
The confidence, determination and stamina of two alphas males will mean little if neither is willing to bend—seize the love offered—and work together to understand why they’re suddenly both marked men. Not easy for either when Archer has broken the law in the worst possible way and Conrad is the law.
Impressions: I loved book 1 in this series, Falling, and it earned a "Banned in Boston Best of the the Blog" award. I was very excited for the follow up, but after meeting Conrad in book 1, I wondered if he would be able to win me over, since I loved Malachi (his ex) from book 1 so much.
You do not need to read book 1 before reading this one (but really, why would you miss that opportunity?!), though his past with Malachi is referenced a few times. In this story we see Conrad as man who is coming to terms with the mistakes of his past as he struggles to literally get back on his feet after a devastating accident. When he meets Archer, Conrad is struggling to reconcile his own Alpha nature with the needs he has due to his injuries, and the things that he has lost due to his single minded focus in work and life.
Archer is an assassin who is also trying to reinvent himself and leave the life he has behind, while realizing he cannot escape his past, since it is literally following him. Archer is also a strong alpha male who is used to putting his survival at the forefront of his own focus.
When these two men meet and make a connection they both believe it will only be temporary. Archer has secrets in his past, and losses that have shaped him and his ability to love. Conrad begins to break through those walls, all the while battling his own challenges.
This book was filled with action, suspense, and twists and turns. Elsborg's writing is tight and engaging, and I was on the edge of my seat as I wondered what obstacle these two men would next encounter. This is not a light or fluffy read, but there is a deep love and a well of emotion in this novel, and for me, that is what drove my obsession to finish this book. I loved watching these men learn how to let each other in and how to open their hearts to each other. I admired Conrad's evolution and self reflection, and I believe that he needed a man like Archer to complete him.
This is a riveting read with a great plot, complex characters and some scenes that burn up the pages! Don't miss this (or book 1) and be prepared to table anything on your to-do list for a while!
Sunday, July 26, 2015
Title: Cotton Candy, book #2 in Wyoming Lovers
Author: Mae Hancock
Publisher/GR Link: Loose Id, GR
Genre: MM Contemporary Western
Vice: Cowboys, Western, Series
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Length: Short Novel
Cover Impressions: I love it!
Best Line: "An extraordinary feeling of relief swept over Bay."
Synopsis: Cowboy Cotton Reid is the laid-back type of guy who accepts people as they are, no matter how flawed. People think he’s fun, honest and crazy about his boss and friend the sexy rancher Bay Redman.
Living with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is something that family man Bay has done his whole life. Bay can be like a bear with a sore head if the hay isn’t stored symmetrically or his fridge contains an odd number of jars.
When the two men begin a hot affair, Cotton keeps an important secret from Bay. If he can't find the courage to tell him the truth before someone else does, Bay may never be able to let it go.
Impressions: I've been looking forward to Cotton and Bay's story ever since we were introduced to them in book 1.
One of the things that I liked about this book is that it doesn't over simplify many significant concerns in the story. For instance, love and sex may help Bay to feel more comfortable in his skin, but they are not the cure-all for his OCD. Bay's OCD isn't just a cute plot device, it is a real and potent challenge to his happiness. He knows how much it affects those around him, and he can't imagine finding a lover who can tolerate living with his issues.
I also really liked that the issue of parents and biology was explored with tact and grace. This isn't a story where family is boiled down to DNA, and that really resonates with me.
I really enjoyed watching Cotton and Bay work for their HEA, and it does take work!
I would have loved even more of the love and romance, and a little less of the secret/parenting plot, but I really enjoyed the series, and its a great view of life on a farm where who you love matters a lot less than how you love.
Dream spinner Press released an Anthology about finding love later in life. All of the stories are available individually, or you can purchase the anthology at a discounted rate from Dreamspinner. I was fortunate to review several selections from this anthology, and I recommend the following:
Anthology Summary: There’s something to be said for maturity and experience, whether it’s a second chance at love, a May/December romance, or finding a soul mate later in life. These stories prove that it’s never too late for a new love
Selection #1: Coffee, Pop, and Bisexuality by Nicole McCormick
Synopsis: When a stranger runs into Douglas, makes him spill his coffee, and offers to buy him another one, Douglas thinks that’s all it will be. Even though the man is gorgeous. Even though his daughter has other plans. Turns out, the stranger, Anthony, has other plans as well, and Douglas soon agrees to go to a movie with Anthony. It’s absolutely not a date. Douglas has slept with men, sure, but he isn’t gay. Or bisexual. No matter what Anthony says.
However, a late night and a frank conversation with his daughter’s best friend leaves Douglas with a different opinion. Not that he plans on letting Anthony know he considers it a date. It’s too much fun to wind Anthony up. After one not-so-perfect date, Douglas thinks maybe if he keeps Anthony around, turning fifty won’t be so bad.
Rating and Thoughts: 3 Stars. Not bad, but I didn't connect as strongly to the MC's as I had hoped. I think a little of the awkwardness of David made him a little unlikable to me.
Selection #2: Dancing Days by Clare London
Synopsis: The day Glen Carson loses his wallet is the day that changes his life. The wallet is returned by Aston Walsh, a man he hasn’t seen for twenty years. He and Aston had a passionate and intense romance when they were in their late twenties, and Glen thought their love would last forever. But his dreams were horribly shattered by a shocking confession from Aston, and they parted for good—or so Glen assumed. Now, two decades later, they’ve lived many years apart, created new histories, and built successful lives. Yet the spark between them is still there. Aston wants a second chance with Glen, but Glen is more cautious this time around. He has to decide if Aston’s regret is genuine, and if surrendering his heart to Aston again is worth the risk.
Rating/Thoughts: 4 stars. I loved these guys, and I love London's writing. The cute "British-ness" of these guys melted my heart!
Selection #3: Mens Rea by Brooke Edwards
Synopsis: James Carter is forty-five and has been a police officer most of his life. He married young, lost her young, and his life revolved around his work and his son. Young is a recurring theme in his life, he thinks, when he meets the considerably younger AUSA Derek Moore on a case and finds himself ruled by the whims of his heart.
The road to love between a hotshot lawyer and a veteran cop was never going to be smooth, not in the real world, but there are criminals, misunderstandings, and a lack of communication standing in their way too. Both are so stubborn and convinced their interest is one-sided that it takes a murder case, exhaustion, and an adjournment for them to get their act together. They move fast after that, but they both know there’s no guarantee for tomorrow.
Rating/Thoughts: 3.5 Stars. I really liked this this story, though at parts it moved a little slowly for my taste. The pace definitely picked up and I'm glad I chose it.
Selection #4: Out In the Blue by Kelly Jensen
Synopsis: At forty-five, Jared Tailler suddenly feels old. When his employer grounds him, he starts thinking in terms of measuring his coffin. Well, not quite, but he’s creakier and hairier than he was ten years ago, and his closest relationship is the one he has with his frequent-flyer card.
It’s time to get out there.
On the first day of a five-day hiking trip, he meets Finley Macrae, a younger, seemingly brighter man. As they inch together in halting steps, Jared learns he’s not the only one lost out in the blue—Fin’s good cheer hides a turbulence deeper than Jared’s midlife crisis. Maybe together they can find the trail to happiness.
Rating/Thoughts: 5 stars. I *love* Jensen's Chaos Station series, so I was eager for this one. Though it is completely different from that series, I also loved this story. The men are older, and I loved seeing characters who were dealing with life issues that we all face as we grow older. I'm not a hiker, but I loved the setting.
Selection #5: Path Not Taken by Andrew Grey
Synopsis: On the train from Lancaster to Philadelphia, Trent runs into Brit, his first love and the first man to break his heart. They’ve both been through a lot in the years since they parted ways, and as they talk, the old connection tenuously strengthens. Trent finally works up the nerve to call Brit, and their rekindled friendship slowly grows into the possibility for more. But both men are shadowed by their pasts as they explore the path they didn’t take the first time. If they can move beyond loss and painful memories, they might find their road leads to a second chance at happiness.
Rating/Thoughts: 4.5 Stars. Grey always delivers when it comes to writing great characters, and this story was no different. I loved watching these two get a second chance, and the story was filled with emotions and love.
Selection #6: Phoenix by Kim Fielding
Synopsis: First a soldier and then a diplomat, Juberi now spends his solitary days on a single ambition: trying to resurrect the phoenix, which has been extinct for centuries. He’s not pleased when he is obligated to attend a public ceremony in memory of an elderly friend and former colleague. But at the ceremony, Juberi meets the friend’s beguiling son, Desen. Despite being from a markedly different culture, Desen has much to offer. But after decades of denying his own desires, Juberi fears there is no alchemy that will reopen him to love.
Rating/Thoughts: 3 Stars. I think the issue with this was partly mine. The writing was great (as it always is with Fielding!) but I didn't enjoy the setting as much. I like the mythology of the Phoenix, but the magic partly took away from the love story for me.
Selection #7: Saints Save A Sinner by Dawn Douglas
Synopsis: William Arthur Ainsworth, second son of the Earl of Cannahan, has just purchased a Lieutenant’s Commission in the Coldstream Regiment, British Foot Guards. A new officer, Will shows promise and is taken in hand by experienced Scottish Sargent Duncan Blair. Friendship grows into affection and desire as the men fight the French from Egypt to Sweden and back to the Spanish Peninsula through the six coalitions of the Napoleonic Wars. A bloody defeat in Spain and tragedy at home pull William away from service in the British Army and turn him from an officer to an earl, but status, time, and distance combined can’t change Will’s feelings for Duncan. When a hard-won peace is finally achieved, Will realizes the most important mission he may ever undertake will be convincing Duncan that the end of the fighting can mean the beginning of their lives together.
Rating/Thoughts: 5 Stars. I love historical like this, and this one literally swept me away. These guys really earn their HEA, and this one was a standout for me.
Selection #8: Until I Found You by B.G. Thomas
Synopsis: Christopher Morin is unlucky in love. The only male worth anything in his life is his sweet dog Frost. Christopher is devastated when, shortly after his breakup with the worst boyfriend ever, his dog vanishes without a trace.
Doyle Schilbrack was lucky at love, until his wonderful partner of many years passed away, leaving Doyle lost and lonely. The solution? He adopts a sad little abandoned dog, a dog he names Jack. Together, man and dog come back to life.
Then one day, a year later, Christopher encounters Doyle in a park—walking his dog! Now the two men are faced with a dilemma. They want to do what is best for their dog, but it will break their hearts to let him go.
But then a rambunctious white Pomeranian takes matters in his own paws. There might be a way for both men to keep the dog, and find something else that’s been missing from their lives.
Rating/Thoughts: 4.5 Really adorable story. I love later in life coming out stories, and between the dog and the romance, this one will leave you smiling!
Selection #9: Up To Boil by Tia Fielding
Synopsis: When plumber and builder Jordan Novotny goes to take a look at the home of the town’s openly gay, recently dumped librarian, he doesn’t expect to find anything other than a falling-apart old house and a water heater in need of repair. Instead, he finds an older man in need of some TLC and a new circle of friends after his ex tossed him aside for a newer model. Stephen might be attracted to Jordan, but he thinks the young man is exactly that—too young. It takes Jordan’s family interfering and a bit of a mishap to make them see that it’s never too late to find a new love, and that age is just a number. All that matters is compatibility and the courage to take a chance.
Rating/Thoughts: 3 Stars. The premise was cute, but the age gap was really big for me. I think as someone who works with people in their early 20's it was hard for me to connect with an MC who is 30+ years older than the other MC. I kept wondering, but what about the next 30 years? Some people will love this one, as the characters are cute, but it wasn't my favorite.
Selection #10 Where There’s Smoke by Nico Jaye
Synopsis: If he can make room in his life and his heart, an isolated medieval history professor might find a real life knight in shining armor.
A terrible breakup in his early thirties left David shying away from relationships. For years he’s been content with his solitary life, finding fulfillment in his career, books, television show marathons, and his cat’s companionship. When David meets his neighbor Zach, he can’t tell if Zach is just being friendly or if the handsome fireman might actually be interested in him. The more time they spend together, though, the more David questions his resolution to remain single. If Zach can extinguish the flames left by David's past, David might finally break away from his structured life and take a chance on love.
Rating/Thoughts: 4 Stars. This was so cute! I'd love to see how these guys make out after the story ends. This was an adorable matching, and I just wanted even more!
OVERALL RATING: 4 Stars
This is a great anthology, and I am sure that there are even more treasures to be discovered among these great reads! Check these out, and don't miss some of the others!
Title: Curveball, Homeruns #2 (To be released on 7/29)
Author: Sloan Johnson
GR Link: GR
Genre: MM Contemporary
Vice: Baseball, OFY, Athletes
Rating: 5 stars
Cover Impressions: Gorgeous!
Best Line: "I just had to get Cam to believe that my efforts to be there for him weren't out of obligation but an intense desire to make him feel as amazing as I did when we were together."
Synopsis: Jason Klein’s living with the fallout from a decision he knew was the right one at the time. He never told anyone about the love of his life, which left him to mourn alone when he found out the man he gave his heart to had been killed in combat. Now, his heart has had time to heal, but he’s not sure he’s ready to let himself move on. Until he meets Cam Morgan…
Without a job lined up following graduation, Cam Morgan took his best friend up on his offer to move to Milwaukee and stay with him until he could get on his feet. The last thing he wanted to do the day after getting to town was go to a party filled with a bunch of jocks. Sure, they were “professional athletes” but Cam was convinced that bigger bank accounts didn’t make them any more accepting of people like him. He certainly didn’t expect to meet Jason, the Mavericks’ catcher who broke every stereotype he’d had.
What started out as one hot, sweaty night together quickly grows into something deeper. Jason welcomes Cam into his home and his life, but now he has to teach the younger man that it’s not a sign of weakness to let people help you.
Impressions: After book 1, I was really looking forward to Jason's story, and Curveball did not disappoint!
After reading and enjoying Jason in book 1, I was eager to see who could help this hurt man to overcome his past loss, and learn to love again. Anytime I like a character from a previous book, I know it will take a lot from a new character to make me believe they are good enough for their guy, and Cam definitely did that!
I like Cam's complexities and his struggle to reconcile some of the experiences that he had at the hands of athletes with the feelings that he has for Jason. One of the things that I liked most about Jason, and one of the reasons that he was so right for Cam, was that his struggle is about overcoming loss. He is not a big, dumb, homophobic jock, and actually faces his coming out with a lot of reflection and thoughtfulness. He knows that this will be a big announcement to some of his teammates, but the people closest to him already know, and he without someone to love, it doesn't seem like its worth the fallout to him. I get the feeling that due to the earlier loss of a loved one, he doesn't want to address his sexuality because he has almost turned that whole part of himself off out of his hurt.
When he meets Cam, he faces coming out with grace and strength, and is challenged more by the fact that his heart is engaged in ways that it hasn't been for ages. I really enjoyed Cam's struggle to find himself in an environment that is so outside of his comfort zone. I also loved his friend, and Jason's teammate, Drew, and I admired the loyalty that he and Cam have for each other.
This was a great book, with a great romance. I am really loving this series, and I am looking forward to the rest! Don't miss Curveball (releasing on 7/29)!