Tag Archives: Cardeno C

Tour: The Half of Us (Family #4) by Cardeno C. *Review, Trailer and Excerpt*

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The Half of Us (Family #4)
by Cardeno C.

An M/M Contemporary Romance
From Dreamspinner Press
Released October 10th 2014

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Short-tempered, arrogant heart surgeon Jason Garcia grew up wanting a close-knit family, but believes he ruined those dreams when he broke up his marriage. The benefit of divorce is having as much random sex as he wants, and it’s a benefit Jason is exploiting when he meets a sweet, shy man at a bar and convinces him to go home for a no-strings-attached night of fun.

Eight years living in Las Vegas hasn’t dimmed Abe Green’s optimism, earnestness, or desire to find the one. When a sexy man with lonely eyes propositions him, Abe decides to give himself a birthday present—one night of spontaneous fun with no thoughts of the future. But one night turns into two and then three, and Abe realizes his heart is involved.

For the first time, Abe feels safe enough with someone he respects and adores to let go of his inhibitions in the bedroom. If Jason can get past his own inhibitions and open his heart and his life to Abe, he might finally find the family he craves.

 

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Review

5-stars

Jason Garcia is a divorced, father of two who spent his life hiding his sexuality and now works hard to make it up for it. He also works hard as a surgeon, so one-time hookups are his way of unwinding. That is until he meets Abe.

Abe has been disappointed in the relationship department every time he’s tried to pursue a relationship with another man. He’s not one for one-night stands, but when the stranger with lonely eyes approaches him at a bar on his birthday he decides to give himself a present. The handsome stranger exudes sexiness and confidence and Abe can’t help himself from going home with him.

But soon Abe’s finds himself caring for the aloof surgeon and getting more involved in Jason’s life than either of them had initially anticipated. Now it’s up to Jason to either catch up or retreat.

I loved this story, but then again I love most of CC’s stories.

However, this one soon became a favorite simply because Jason was such an extraordinary character to get to know. I wanted to throttle him, shake some sense into him and comfort him all at the same time. He was adorable in his cluelessness regarding his feelings for Abe and a force to be reckoned with in the bedroom. Confident and honest to a fault, he was clear as to who he was and what was to be expected of him. However, he was not counting on Abe to break through all his walls as effortlessly as he did.

Mind you, Abe was a great character too. I admired his tenacity, his caring heart and the patience he found in himself when it came to dealing with Jason. Their relationship wasn’t filled with drama but it wasn’t always a walk in the park for the easy-going Abe. Jason had a talent to ignore what was in front of him and that coupled with his stubbornness, made it hard on Abe to be sure of where they stood.

Thankfully, Cardeno didn’t pull any punches in bringing forth the connection between these two. Through every stilted conversation, honest interaction and heated encounters Abe and Jason’s connection never failed to be present–always growing deeper, bringing them closer each time. It was funny to see how oblivious Jason was in regards to his relationship with Abe. I enjoyed the moments he realized there was something more going on as well as those few times his insecurities got the best of him.

Another element that made this such an enjoyable read was the participation of Jason’s ex-wife and kids. Through his interactions with them we come to understand how very complex Jason truly is. While I had thought he was a against making a commitment, I soon discovered that that was not the case. Jason wanted a family and all his struggles stemmed from his thinking that he was a failure as a family man.

I expect it’s not an easy feat to bring all these elements to the page, but Cardeno brought it all together seamlessly without taking away from any one of the elements involved. The emotions were present, intense yet subtle and correctly portrayed. The romance was slow-building but firmly established and developed. And of course, the chemistry was explored in many different ways. Cardeno managed to not only bring the heat to these scenes but also brought into it the complexity of the characters–what made them tick, what they yearned for and how emotionally invested they were in what they were sharing. Be it their first heated embrace, their flirty banter or just a simple look, Jason and Abe’s chemistry jumped off the page and their emotions made themselves known.

Keep in mind that although this is the fourth book in the Family series, it can certainly be read as a stand alone. But then again, why would you miss all the goodness? I’ve enjoyed all previous books and but I especially enjoyed the hell out of Jason and Abe and the family they became.

All in all, a fantastic read with sweet moments, a few infuriating ones and an abundance of sexy ones to make it all worthwhile.

*I received a copy of this title in exchange of my honest opinion.

 

Excerpt

Abe pursed his lips in thought. “Three things you enjoy. Go!”

“Uh….”

“No thinking!” he exclaimed.

“I don’t know. I, uh—”

“Gut reaction!”

“Fucking, college basketball, and cold pizza,” Jason replied hurriedly. He froze after the words popped out of his mouth, surprised by what he’d said. It was true, but not exactly the kind of information he threw out there. Except he had.

Abe was silent for few moments, then he blinked, cleared his throat, and said, “What’s your favorite team?”

“Duke.”

Abe nodded. “And you like your pizza cold?”

Apparently they were moving forward with the conversation. Okay. “I like it hot too, but, yeah, I like it cold better. I always order extra so I can put it in the fridge for the next day.”

“I see.” Abe nodded again. “So, uh, do you have plans tonight?”

“No.” Jason shook his head.

“Neither do I.” Abe glanced down, bit his lip, and then looked up again. “Want to come over and do that first thing you enjoy?”

 

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About the Author

Cardeno C - Logo

Cardeno C.– CC to friends–is a hopeless romantic who wants to add a lot of happiness and a few “awwws” into a reader’s day. Writing is a nice break from real life as a corporate type and volunteer work with gay rights organizations. Cardeno’s stories range from sweet to intense, contemporary to paranormal, long to short, but they always include strong relationships and walks into the happily-ever-after sunset.

Cardeno’s Home, Family, and Mates series have received awards from Love Romances and More Golden Roses, Rainbow Awards, the Goodreads M/Romance Group, and various reviewers. But even more special to CC are heartfelt reactions from readers, like, “You bring joy and love and make it part of the every day.”

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In Your Eyes (Mates #3) by Cardeno C. *Review and Video Trailer*

 

In Your Eyes (Mates #3)
In Your Eyes (Mates #3)
by Cardeno C.

A M/M Shifter Romance
From Dreamspinner Press
Released on July 14th 2014

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Raised to become Alpha of the Yafenack pack, Samuel Goodwin dedicates his life to studying shifter laws, strengthening his body, and learning from his father. Taking control comes easily to Samuel, but relating to people, including those he’s supposed to lead, is a constant challenge.

When Samuel meets Korban Keller, the son of a neighboring pack’s Alpha, he reacts with emotion instead of intellect for the first time in his life. Resenting the other shifter for putting him off-balance, Samuel first tries to intimidate Korban and then tries to avoid him. What he can’t do is forget Korban’s warm eyes, easy smile, and happy personality.

When a battle between their fathers results in tragedy, Samuel and Korban are thrown together. With his world crashing down around him, Samuel must save his pack and show them he can lead. But first, Korban needs to save Samuel by inspiring him to feel. Two very different men with a tumultuous history must overcome challenges from all sides and see past the rules they’ve been taught to realize they are destined to fit together.

 

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Review

5-stars

It is no surprise to those who know me that I get excited whenever Cardeno releases a new book. This time was no different. However, this time around I had the pleasure of reading the ARC weeks before it was bound to be delivered even to other blogs for review. My task–to gather a few quotes for teaser images and create a video trailer. *insert happy dance here*

As you can imagine, the pressure was on. I had to keep my wits about me and deliver on all fronts. And of course, I had to write a review–it’s what I do!

What I enjoyed most about this story were the characters. From the very start I was drawn to Samuel. An introvert who was strong, smart yet vulnerable in a way that affected him deeply, Samuel’s story was one that kept me intrigued throughout. His growth as the story progressed was beautiful. He stumbled, analyzed, stood his ground and relented in every way that counted and I had to admire him for that.

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I loved that Cardeno didn’t pull any punches in bringing to the page Sam’s faults as well as his other attributes. As the next alpha line, he knew his duties and what was expected of him, so it was a treat to see how he carefully navigated through the obstacles that were thrown at him from all sides. As character development goes, Cardeno didn’t miss a beat with Sam.

Of course, Korban was just as great a character too. I admired his strength of character and his loyalty. Even from a young age he knew what he must do and how he needed to approach Samuel.

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The secondary characters added to the story too, which I appreciated. Some added to the world Cardeno had built in book one, others were downright creepy and the other while Samuel’s parents helped him find his way in any way the could. I believe that this story was mainly about Sam’s journey and how his path led him to Korban, but the conflict that was paired with it was just as intriguing.

As with any book by Cardeno, the emotions were in the forefront and led the story throughout. From Sam’s frustrations (and there were many!) to his father’s worry all the way through the tenderness in which Korban drew Sam in, every single emotion was there jumping off the page. I loved it!

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Needless to say that Cardeno brought the sexy once again. Those two were as sensual together as they were adorable. Ha! That Samuel surprised me for sure!

Keep in mind that although this is the third book in the Mates series it can be read as a stand alone. But I do recommend reading the other books in the series just so that you don’t miss out on this little shifter world Cardeno created or on any of the other intriguing characters that have taken part in the series.

All in all, a fantastic story of self-discovery, acceptance and fated love.

*I received a copy of this title from the author.

 

About the Author

CC_banner9

Cardeno C. – CC to friends – is a hopeless romantic who wants to add a lot of happiness and a few “awwws” into a reader’s day. Writing is a nice break from real life as a corporate type and volunteer work with gay rights organizations. Cardeno’s stories range from sweet to intense, contemporary to paranormal, long to short, but they always include strong relationships and walks into the happily-ever-after sunset. Cardeno feels that characters write their own stories and just hopes to find enough time to get those stories on the page.

Cardeno’s Home, Family, and Mates series have received awards from Love Romances and More Golden Roses, Rainbow Awards, the Goodreads M/Romance Group, and various reviewers. But even more special to CC are heartfelt reactions from readers, like, “You bring joy and love and make it part of the every day.”

You can learn more about Cardeno’s writing at www.cardenoc.com.

Cafe Risqué ~ Shared Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Email

Other Books by Cardeno

~ Mates Series

Wake Me Up Inside (Mates, #1)Until Forever Comes (Mates, #2)

 

Wake Me Up Inside

Until Forever Comes

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Review: Perfect Imperfections by Cardeno C.

perfect imperfections

Perfect Imperfections
by Cardeno C.

A M/M Contemporary Romance
From Dreamspinner Press
Released on May 5th 2014

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Hollywood royalty Jeremy Jameson has lived a sheltered life with music as his sole focus and only friend. Before embarking on yet another international concert tour, he wanders into a bar in what he considers the middle of nowhere and meets a man who wins him over with his friendly smile and easy-going nature. Accountant slash bartender slash adventure-seeker Reg Moore has fun talking and drinking with The Jeremy Jameson and can’t say no when the supposedly straight rock star makes him a once in a lifetime offer: keep him company on his tour by playing the part of his boyfriend.

Listening to music, traveling the world, and jumping off cliffs is fun. Falling in love is even better. But to stay with Jeremy after the stage lights dim, Reg will need to help him realize there’s nothing pretend about their relationship.

 

Buy the Book

perfect imperfections

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Review

5-stars

*sigh*

– A lonely rock-star and a caring, funny and smart accountant fall in love.
– A story written by Cardeno C.

What’s not to love?!

I always get excited about whenever Cardeno releases a new book. And although it’s true that I stray and don’t always read them in a timely manner, it is because once I start I don’t want them to end.

This one was no different.

What I enjoyed the most about this story was the concept behind it. I loved that Jeremy was not your quintessential rock star and that his story was not the typical one you read about in books.

Jeremy is a superstar who has been in the business forever. He is was you consider Hollywood royalty and the expectation thrust upon him are great. Sadly, he his lifestyle lost its sparkle somewhere along the way and he finds himself going through the motions instead of enjoying his place in the spotlight. He yearns to be taken seriously, to be accepted as he is–to love and be loved.

In comes Reg. Smart, funny, caring and confident, Reg is unfazed by Jeremy status as a rock star. He finds himself at odds with where his life is leading so when the opportunity arises to travel and see the world in the company of Jeremy he jumps right in.

What ensues is a story of friendship, trust and acceptance.

As with any book by this author, the emotions are in the forefront along with the humor. The ‘feels’ in this story are subtle but heartfelt nonetheless. Jeremy and Reg’s connection is instant but through honest dialogue, funny banter and flirtatious and candid interactions, Cardeno deepens it. Bringing forth numerous ‘awww’ moments, laughs and sighs.

I loved Jeremy and Reg’s easy camaraderie. It was great to see how it jumped off the page. They were friends first, lovers later and their journey was a treat to experience.

All in all, a fantastic story. I wouldn’t mind reading more about them. Read a bonus scene here!

 

About the Author

Cardeno C. – CC to friends – is a hopeless romantic who wants to add a lot of happiness and a few “awwws” into a reader’s day. Writing is a nice break from real life as a corporate type and volunteer work with gay rights organizations. Cardeno’s stories range from sweet to intense, contemporary to paranormal, long to short, but they always include strong relationships and walks into the happily-ever-after sunset. Cardeno feels that characters write their own stories and just hopes to find enough time to get those stories on the page.

Cardeno’s Home, Family, and Mates series have received awards from Love Romances and More Golden Roses, Rainbow Awards, the Goodreads M/Romance Group, and various reviewers. But even more special to CC are heartfelt reactions from readers, like, “You bring joy and love and make it part of the every day.”

You can learn more about Cardeno’s writing at www.cardenoc.com.

Cafe Risqué ~ Shared Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Email

Other Books by Cardeno

~ Home Series

home series

He Completes Me

Home Again

Just What the Truth Is

Love at First Sight

The One Who Saves Me

Where He Ends & I Begin

Marriage – A Home Series Celebration

Walk With Me

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~ Family Series

family

Something in the Way He Needs

Strong Enough

More than Everything

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~ Mates Series

mates

Wake Me Up Inside

Until Forever Comes

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Available for Pre-Order: Perfect Imperfections by Cardeno C.

perfect imperfections preorder

Title: Perfect Imperfections

Author: Cardeno C.

Expected Release Date: May 5th 2014

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Genre: M/M Contemporary Romance

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Synopsis

Hollywood royalty Jeremy Jameson has lived a sheltered life with music as his sole focus and only friend. Before embarking on yet another international concert tour, he wanders into a bar in what he considers the middle of nowhere and meets a man who wins him over with his friendly smile and easy-going nature. Accountant slash bartender slash adventure-seeker Reg Moore has fun talking and drinking with The Jeremy Jameson and can’t say no when the supposedly straight rock star makes him a once in a lifetime offer: keep him company on his tour by playing the part of his boyfriend.

Listening to music, traveling the world, and jumping off cliffs is fun. Falling in love is even better. But to stay with Jeremy after the stage lights dim, Reg will need to help him realize there’s nothing pretend about their relationship.

Pre-Order

perfect imperfections

Dreamspinner

 

About the Author

Cardeno C. – CC to friends – is a hopeless romantic who wants to add a lot of happiness and a few “awwws” into a reader’s day. Writing is a nice break from real life as a corporate type and volunteer work with gay rights organizations. Cardeno’s stories range from sweet to intense, contemporary to paranormal, long to short, but they always include strong relationships and walks into the happily-ever-after sunset. Cardeno feels that characters write their own stories and just hopes to find enough time to get those stories on the page.

Cardeno’s Home, Family, and Mates series have received awards from Love Romances and More Golden Roses, Rainbow Awards, the Goodreads M/Romance Group, and various reviewers. But even more special to CC are heartfelt reactions from readers, like, “You bring joy and love and make it part of the every day.”

You can learn more about Cardeno’s writing at www.cardenoc.com.

Cafe Risqué ~ Shared Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Email

Other Books by Cardeno

~ Home Series

home series

He Completes Me

Home Again

Just What the Truth Is

Love at First Sight

The One Who Saves Me

Where He Ends & I Begin

Marriage – A Home Series Celebration

Walk With Me

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~ Family Series

family

Something in the Way He Needs

Strong Enough

More than Everything

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~ Mates Series

mates

Wake Me Up Inside

Until Forever Comes

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Review: In Another Life by Cardeno C.

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Title: In Another Life

Author: Cardeno C.

Published: December 1st 2013

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Genre: M/M Contemporary Romance

A story from the Dreamspinner Press 2013 Advent Calendar package “Heartwarming”.

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Synopsis

At age 18, Shiloh Raben is tired. He no longer has the energy to deal with mean classmates, inner doubt, and fear of familial rejection, so he takes a razor to his wrist. When he wakes up in the hospital, Shiloh meets Travis Kahn, the EMT who saved him and didn’t leave his side.

Travis is handsome, smart, and funny – the type of guy Shiloh would never be brave enough to approach. But his near-death experience has an unusual side effect: the life that flashed before his eyes wasn’t the one he had already lived, but rather the one he could live. With visions of a future by Travis’s side, will Shiloh find the strength to confront his fears and build a life worth fighting for?

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Buy the Book
DSP | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | ARe

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Review

5-stars

*sigh*

What can I say? I loved it. Then again it shouldn’t have come as a surprise, at least for me.

Shiloh is eighteen and having a difficult time dealing with the way his life is going. Being bullied at school and still in the closet to his family, he believes that everything would be better for every one if he just went away. Until at the last moment, he has a revelation that would forever change his outlook in life and love.

A story of fate, faith in the unknown and letting go of demons past, In Another Life is everything I have come to expect from a Cardeno C story. The characters were adorable, interesting and relatable. The emotions each one portrayed jumped off the page to impart the most impact in the reader and the chemistry was sizzling hot.

I enjoyed each interaction, each funny moment and all of the emotional ones. The yearning, the trust and the love that the story invoked in me were the sentiments that make this such a heart-warming and touching holiday read for me. But most of all, what made this story so perfect, was the sense of rightness that the story drew from me.

Another winner for Cardeno C and a fabulous holiday read to curl up to this Holiday season (well, anytime really!).

another life

Review: More Than Everything (Family #3) by Cardeno C.

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Title: More Than Everything (Family #3)

Author: Cardeno C.

Published: November 4th 2013

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Genre: M/M Contemporary Romance

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Synopsis

A Book in the Family Series

As a teenager, Charlie “Chase” Rhodes meets Scott Boone and falls head over heels in love with the popular, athletic boy next door. Charlie thinks he’s living the dream when Scott says he feels the same way. But his dreams are dashed when Scott moves unexpectedly and doesn’t return.

Years later, Chase meets brash and confident Adan Navarro, who claims all he wants is a round between the sheets. When they’re still together after eight months, Chase is convinced Adan returns his love. But then the time comes to be open about their relationship, and Adan walks away instead.

Time heals all wounds, but when Charlie runs into Scott and Adan and realizes the only two men he’s ever loved are now in love with each other, his heart breaks all over again. Scott and Adan tell Charlie they want him back, but Charlie doesn’t know if he can trust two people who have hurt him so deeply. And even if he can, why would Scott and Adan want Charlie when they already have everything with each other?

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Buy the Book

DSP | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | ARe

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Review

5-stars

The moment Chase laid eyes on Scott he knew that he was doomed. What developed between them was a friendship based on mutual loyalty, honesty and caring. Their bond developed until one day it became more. Young, care-free and in love, Chase never thought that one day he would have to live without his best-friend and true love. When that day came, his world was turned upside down and his view of life changed.

No longer the care-free young man of his teenage years, Chase made a life for himself doing what he loved. He had his hook ups, but never something as deep as the relationship he once shared with Scott. Then in walked Adan. A closed-off, arrogant handsome man, Adan pushed every one of Chase’s buttons. But there was something in the way the man carried himself that made Chase curious until he found himself wondering if this new found connection could lead somewhere. But Adan was living buried in a closet full of denial and fear, leaving Charlie with a broken heart.

Never one to see the glass as half empty, Charlie made the most out of his life until fate came calling and he reunited with the men that broke his heart.

What followed was a story of healing, letting go and learning to trust once again.

Okay, so this time around I am going to try (“try” being the operative word here!) to keep this review from sounding like an “Ode to Cardeno”. But I warn you I may slip a time or two. 😉

I loved Chase! He was adorably, sweet, quirky and a hell of all lot of fun. He was honest, emotional and completely in love with Scott. Awww, it was so sweet to see him all flustered whenever Scott was around. Likewise, it was heart-wrenching to see how losing Scott hurt him.Yep, I wanted to curse out Cardeno C for putting me through that, but I knew it was all going to work out in the end.

Hell yeah, Cardeno C came through for me, yet again! (I’m trying, geez!)

By bringing in Adan, I felt a bit if hope that Chase would find his happily ever after. Although the man was irritating, withdrawn and came across as an asshole, Cardeno made sure I understood where he was coming from. He was more than confused. The man was a mess of massive proportions and in the end he screwed it up – badly.

Now, there I was, FUMING! How can CC put me through this AGAIN!? Yep, I was ready to withdraw Cardeno’s Diet Coke card just for this. But of course, I’m loyal to a fault so I kept on. It helped that I loved Chase and his outlook in life. His humor and outlook in life was what kept me going. I was NOT going to stop reading until that man got some LOVE, dammit!

It wasn’t surprising to see Scott and Adan come back into the picture. What I was not expecting was the range in emotion these two brought out of Chase. Hurt over everything that had happened between them all and seeing Scott and Adan so happy and settled together, showed a different side of Chase that I had not seen before. Not that I blame him. His doubts and hesitations were valid and understandable. I appreciated that Cardeno didn’t just wrap it all up with a pretty bow. Nope, Cardeno made all of them work through their issues until they could move forward.

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As you can tell, I loved this story. What’s not to love?

  • Range in emotion from all characters – CHECK!
  • Chemistry that jumped off the page each and every time either of them got together – CHECK!
  • Entertaining dialogue – CHECK!
  • Funny moments that had me laughing out loud – CHECK!
  • Likeable characters that touched your heart even through their worse behavior – CHECK!
  • Scrapbooking  – CHECK!

As a fan of Cardeno C this book was everything I was expecting and as a hopeless romantic this story brought about the tears, the smiles and the ‘awww’ moments I’ve come to expect from a fantastic romance.

Although More Than Everything is the third book in the Family series it can be read as a stand alone. Then again, why would you miss out on the other installments? Cardeno has not written a book I haven’t enjoyed! (Okay, okay! I failed!)

* I received this title from the publisher in exchange of my honest opinion.

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Strong Enough (Family #2) by Cardeno C.

18283798Rating: 5 stars

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (August 30, 2013)

Synopsis: When twenty-two-year-old Emilio Sanchez sees handsome Spencer Derdinger walking by his construction site, Emilio makes it his goal to seduce the shy professor. Getting Spencer into bed isn’t difficult, but Emilio soon learns that earning the trust of a man deeply hurt will take time and patience. With a prize like brilliant, sweet Spencer on the line, Emilio decides he is strong enough to face the challenge.
Spencer is surprised when he’s approached by the gorgeous construction worker he’s admired from the safety of his office window. Acting spontaneously for the first time in his thirty-eight years, Spencer takes Emilio home. When the casual hookup turns into the potential for love, Spencer realizes that if he wants to build a life with Emilio, he’ll need to be strong enough to slay his personal demons and learn to trust again.

Review: Emilio is a young construction worker who has had his eye on Spencer, a handsome professor. Although young of age, Emilio is wise beyond his years and knows just how to entice Spencer out of his shell. He is understanding, tender and sexy as all get out. He leaves Spencer floundering and overwhelmed, but I don’t think Spence minds in the least.

Spencer has not had the best luck in the romance department and is always second-guessing his decisions in that regard. His confidence is not the greatest either, so when Emilio first approaches him he is confounded. Although not one to have meaningless flings, Spencer knows that he may not have another shot at Emilio if he doesn’t agree to go to dinner with him.

And so it begins.

There’s something in Cardeno’s writing that draws me in. It can be the great characters that make you laugh, cry and wish them a happily ever after. It can be the wonderfulness of that first kiss that Cardeno writes so well –  full of anticipation, passion and need. Or it could be those sizzling-hot sex scenes full of sighs, moans, touches, licks, nips and sucks where I’m tapping the hell out of my tablet and craving for a cigarette after all is said and done. Whichever the reason, Cardeno gets me every time!

Cardeno, cariño, you have done it again! 😉

I enjoyed getting to know Emilio and Spencer. I suffered right along with Spencer when he recounted his past, admired Emilio’s understanding manner and melted when they came together. It was like a fairy tale, but real.

And that right there is why I love every one of Cardeno’s characters. They feel real because they deal with real issues. Yes, Spencer and Emilio developed strong feelings for each other in a short time, but I can accept that because the connection that Cardeno developed between went beyond lust. You could feel it with each honest word they spoke and with every intimate touch they shared. Spencer endeared himself to me and I think he found his perfect partner in Emilio who, with his easy charm and loving personality, wormed his way into my heart too.

“Say I can stay, cariño.”

Needing a moment to make the world stop spinning and gather his wits, Spencer changed the topic and said, “You keep calling me that.” He swallowed hard. “It’s Spanish, right? What does it mean?”

Cariño?” Warm, soft lips kissed the side of his neck, making him tremble.

“Uh-huh.”

“It means darling.” Emilio kissed his way down the side of Spencer’s neck. “Honey.” He licked a long swathe up over his Adam’s apple. “Sweetheart.” He tugged Spencer’s lower lip between both of his. “Love.” Then he pulled back and pierced Spencer with his deep, dark gaze. “Say I can stay, cariño.”

Although Strong Enough is the second book in the Family series it can be read as a stand alone, but I can’t understand why anyone would pass the chance to read Something in the Way He Needs. That was one hell of an awesome read!  (I know, I know, that’s probably until Cardeno’s next release!).

I received this title from the publisher through Manic Reader in exchange of my honest opinion.

Until Forever Comes (Mates #2) by Cardeno C.

Until Forever Comes (Mates, #2)Rating: 4 stars

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (May 20th 2012)

Synopsis: Ethan Abbatt is a wolf shifter who can’t shift. Plagued by pain and weakness all his life, he hopes to find an honorable death by joining his pack mates in a vampire attack. Instead, Ethan learns two things: draining his blood releases his pain and his wolf, and he has a true mate – a vampire named Miguel.

Miguel Rodriguez is more than four centuries old. Strong, powerful, and vicious, he walks through life as a shadow, without happiness or affection. When a young shifter tells Miguel they’re true mates, destined to be together, Miguel sends him away. But Ethan is persistent, and Miguel can’t resist for long. Once Miguel gives in, being together comes naturally. The challenge is keeping themselves alive so they can stay by each other’s side until forever comes.

Review: Being a fan of Cardeno’s books and having enjoyed Wake Me Up Inside, I didn’t think twice about getting this book.

Although Cardeno C is one of my favorite authors and I usually can’t find fault with his books, I hate to admit that there was one for me in this story. So bare with me while I take a different approach to this review. It’s a doozy!

The Story

Ethan has always been different. An outcast within his pack because of his inability to shift, he knows he doesn’t have much time before his body shuts down and not much to lose by taking part in a vampire attack. Little does he know how his life would be affected by his decision to be a part of this confrontation.

In comes Miguel, a centuries-old, handsome vampire, he can rip a man apart and cross an alley in the blink of an eye. But instead of being afraid for his life when Miguel approaches him, Ethan has a whole other reaction to him – instant attraction.

Until Forever Comes reads as a prequel. It takes place quite a few decades years before Zev and Jonah’s story and it is told by Ethan. I loved the feel of the story that the use of the ‘country bumpkin’ language provided. It added a certain uniqueness to the story and helped to put my mind in a place necessary for me to understand many of the actions and reactions of the pack. I admit that it took me a while to get used to it, but that’s on me. I’m simply not familiar with it.

The Characters

I loved Ethan. He was honest to a fault and relentless when he set his mind to something. Despite knowing the dangers of confronting a vampire, he went to Miguel as soon as he realized that Miguel was essential for his survival. Although saddened to leave his family and everything he has ever known, he was determined to go to Miguel, his true mate.

Miguel was HOT! A powerful vampire who he had roamed the world and had a rough life before being turned, Miguel exuded sexiness with every look thrown at Ethan. Unbeknownst to him, he was reacting to the ‘mate bond’ even before he met Ethan. With an unquenchable thirst that posed a thread of exposure for the vampires, Miguel needed his mate to survive.

I loved this pairing, especially since it was between different species. Ethan was adorable in his loyalty to Miguel, while Miguel was admirable in his fierceness to protect Ethan. Their chemistry was easily palpable and their devotion to each other made for a great romantic read.

The ‘Mate Bond’

And herein lies my problem.

After reading my share of shifter stories and having read how the ‘mate bond’ works in the world Cardeno created, I can understand Ethan’s need to be with his mate. My issue is with how easily he accepted his male mate. Yes, it is an undeniable bond and in Ethan’s case, it is a necessity for him to ‘tie in’ with his mate.

However, if this story takes place before Wake Me Up Inside, in a time when this pairing was not easily accepted, and Ethan’s not much a man of the world and his pack was not exactly ‘in the know’ about the ways of the world how can he not question that his mate is male?

I love it when the characters struggles accept their fate. It is through those struggles that I come to fully admire and relate to the characters. It is their display of emotions and their development as characters while dealing with this acceptance that truly makes their journey as fated mates enjoyable for me. So, no. I cannot overlook Ethan’s easy acceptance.

Hell, I can even overlook the ‘insta-love’ scenario the ‘mate bond’ brings about, but come on, there has to be some sort of hesitation that makes me emotionally invested in their happiness. Something for them to overcome. If it didn’t happen with the difference in species, it should have happened in their ‘mate bond’

 The Writing

I think that Cardeno did a great job of bringing Ethan and Miguel’s story to the page. I was curious about these characters when they appeared in the previous story and I was happy to read their story. It was fun with a little bit of action, a little bit of drama, some conflict a whole lot of steamy sex scenes.

I was not expecting some of what took place and even in their lust-filled haze Ethan and Miguel managed to bring more to these encounter. There were emotions and banter and a lot of things that revealed more about each of them. So, yes. I loved me some Ethan and Miguel together.

All in all, Until Forever Comes was a fun, romantic read with a sexy vampire and a determined, if easily convinced, young wolf.

Eight Days by Cardeno C.

Eight DaysRating: 5 stars

Published: December 1, 2012

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Available at: Dreamspinner, Amazon, Barnes & Noble

Synopsis: Maccabe Fried and Josh Segal have nothing in common, but they’ve been friends forever. Maccabe is an athlete with dreams of playing professional baseball. Josh is a good student with dreams of being with Maccabe. Then both dreams come true.

Maccabe and Josh fall into a passionate long-distance romance, and after years of hiding from the world, Josh wants to bring their relationship into the open. When Maccabe refuses, Josh is faced with a tough decision: stay with the man he loves or live the life he deserves. Somebody’s bound to get hurt, but in the season of miracles, there’s always hope for a happy ending.

Review: Eight Days is a beautiful love story of friendship, acceptance and how the holidays brings families together.

Maccabe and Josh have known each other since birth and have been best friends ever since they remember. They have shared vacations, family dinners and everything in between. Maccabe’s world revolves around baseball and not much else matters, except his family and friendship with Josh. Josh keeps mostly to himself. He is shy, enjoys building with Legos and is not interested in sports. But he loves Maccabe and he will do almost anything for him – even play video games.

One night, before dinner at Josh’s house everything changes. Suddenly, Maccabe is noticing things about his friend that he hadn’t before, he doesn’t trust himself around his best friend anymore and rather than risk his friendship with Josh, he starts to keep his distance. Until a fateful night brings them together again and they start exploring this attraction between them.

What follows is an interesting set of events that will determine if they will continue being together or not. Is their friendship and new-found attraction ruined or will they be able to salvage it before it’s too late?

I loved this story so much! The writing was excellent with the right mixture of humor, emotion and chemistry thrown in to keep my interest. Just what I have come to expect from Cardeno C. I even enjoyed the way the story was told. It jumped from event to event following the eight days of the Hanukkah celebration. Very creative of Cardeno C. The author managed to pack a great deal of story in just a few pages while keeping me entertained and well informed. Well done indeed!

The characters were both adorable and very easy to relate to. I enjoyed the familiarity of their interactions it really showcased the bond these two shared. I loved Maccabe’s voice,  even if he was clueless most of the time and I kept wanting to shake some sense into him. In truth, that’s what really endeared him to me. He was so a strong, big baseball player, but when it came to Josh he was a goner. What’s not to love?

And Josh is not far behind. I loved him to pieces. He was so honest and determined to be himself that he walked away from what meant the most to him – his family and Maccabe. I had to admire him for that but I also wanted to shelter him from the disappointment and pain he was feeling.

In the end, I was misty eyed when they finally came together and even found myself smiling even after I finished reading it. I also found the details included about the Hanukkah celebration very interesting to read. Every detail Cardeno C brought to the page regarding the celebration added to my enjoyment of the story. It made it seem much more real and like I was a part of it too. I ended up doing a bit of research about Hanukkah it because I wanted to learn more about it.

All in all, Eight Days is a short, wonderful holiday read that left me wanting more of Maccabe and Josh’s story.

I received this title through Manic Readers and would like to thank them and Dreamspinner Press for the oportunity to read and review this short story in exchange of my honest opinion.

The One Who Saves Me (Home #6) by Cardeno C.

The One Who Saves MeRating: 5 stars (or 5 Diet Cokes, whichever Cardeno C. prefers)

Published: November 12, 2012

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Available at: Dreamspinner, Amazon, Barnes & Noble

Synopsis: At fourteen, Andrew Thompson and Caleb Lakes become best friends. As the years pass, they stand by each other through family trauma, school, and the start of their careers. They share their first sexual experiences as friends, learning and experimenting. And they talk each other through countless dates and breakups. Decades of trust and loyalty build a deep and abiding friendship —until Andrew suffers a tragedy. Caleb moves in with him, and the parameters of their unique relationship blur.

Wrestling with feelings he can’t articulate, Andrew spirals into self-loathing. Caleb struggles to help his friend heal, but he longs for more than Andrew can give him. After so many years, neither man knows how to break out of his established role. After all, boyfriends come and go, but best friends are forever.

My Reading Progress:

11/12 100.0% “I’m grinning and crying and I love it!”
11/12 76.0% “Oh crap! I think I need a bit of rum in my Diet Coke.”
11/12 61.0% “I’m interrupting this feast ’cause I REALLY need to do some underwear research. I’m off to Andrew Christian‘s website.For research purposes, of course.”
11/12 27.0% “grinning from ear to ear and literally LOL. “Trifecta of goodness”!!!”
11/12 3.0% “1989 14 yrs old. I was so there!!! tape mix! Bwahaha!”
11/12 1.0% “Really, it does NOT bode well for my emotional state if I’m already crying with the dedication.”

Review: A captivating story of everlasting loyalty, friendship and love.

This is the much anticipated story of Andrew and Caleb. They met when they were 8-years old and rekindled their friendship during a summer at the age of 14. From this moment on they are each others confidants and best friends – his yin to his yang. They were as different as could be, but regardless of that or because of it, the bond that they forged was unbreakable.

Their bond was strengthened throughout the years. It started with their love of video games and music. Then evolved with the sharing of family secrets, sexual orientation and sexual experiences. As they matured, their connection grew with each failed relationship and every sexual encounter they took part in. It faltered with the pain, loss and guilt Andrew dealt with after his boyfriend’s death and soared and stood its ground when they finally accepted what was right in front of them all along. They were in love. That sometimes elusive happily-ever-after kind of love.

Andrew, after having experienced the pain of betrayal that caused their parents marriage to fail, was determined to find his Mr. Right. That permanent person who would be there with him sharing the good, the bad and the ugly. His search for that person was heartbreaking and every single time a relationship failed it chipped at his soul. His only salvation was Caleb. The one person he could count on to be there. To patch him back together so he could get back out there to resume his search. A never-ending cycle of new found love, betrayal and heartache. It broke my heart to see him go through this. I couldn’t decide if I wanted to smack him upside the head or hug him tight. And this could only mean one thing – he got to me and I could not help but love him.

I loved Caleb too, but I didn’t feel that need to save him. While I saw Andrew like a brother, Caleb was the best friend I always wanted. He was funny and sarcastic just as much as he was adorably insecure. He cracked me up with his fashion sense and the roll of his eyes. I loved his choosy ways, he reminded me so much of myself. He found the smallest fault with the guys he dated and chalked it off to the fact that he wasn’t looking for his Mr. Right. Of course, I didn’t believe that for a second. I reasoned that he knew in his gut that no one would measure up to Andrew.

And of course, the chemistry between these two was awesomeness with a cherry on top. Like a keg of Diet Coke I savored each and every encounter. Their lust, their need and their bond were very palpable. They were in sync with each other knowing what the other needed without being asked. With touches and kisses, with each nip, pinch and whispered word I was melted into a puddle of goo.

Cardeno C, once again, did a splendid job in bringing this story to the page. The journey throughout the years was an enjoyable one. To see them growing from teenagers to wonderful men was a joy to me. Their friendship and devotion, Andrew’s struggles, their lust, emotions and acceptance of each other was beautifully weaved together in a way that truly made this story real for me. The dialog was both entertaining and revealing. The events that took place throughout the story were perfectly placed to have their proper impact on the reader. I was grinning with happiness each and every time they got together, screaming at them to get their heads on straight and crying my eyes out with each betrayal and each painful thought.

This has become my favorite of the Home series books. My expectations were met and then some. Thank you CC, my excruciating wait was well rewarded. I couldn’t have asked for more and as we all know I am a sucker for perfection.

This one is for you CC!

 Enjoy.