Tag Archives: Carina Press

Favorite New Release Tour ~ Status Update (#gaymers #1) by Annabeth Albert *Review, Excerpt and Giveaway*

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Status Update (#gaymers #1)
by Annabeth Albert

An M/M Contemporary Romance
From Carina Press
Released December 7th 2015

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Adrian Gottlieb is winning at life. He’s a successful video game designer with everything a man could ask for, including a warm comfy ride to Denver and a date for his sister’s wedding. But he finds himself in need of a total reboot when he’s left stranded at a snowy campground in Utah. Holiday plans? Epic fail.

That is until Noah Walters offers him shelter for the night and a reluctant cross-country ride. Nothing about the ultraconservative geoarchaeologist should attract Adrian, but once he discovers Noah’s hidden love for video games, the two connect on a new level. Soon, a quiet but undeniable chemistry sparks.

Something doesn’t add up, though. As the miles accumulate and time runs out, Noah must face the most difficult choice of his life. Meanwhile, Adrian must decide whether he’s ready to level up. Is their relationship status worth fighting for, or has this game ended before it’s even begun?

 

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Review

4 stars
4.25 stars

You know you’ve found a winner when you’re dead tired the morning after reading an all-nighter, and you’re still remembering the story and its characters the next day with a huge grin on your face. What can I say? Annabeth Albert is fast becoming a must-read author of mine and with this latest story she just proved why she’s earned a place in that list.

What I enjoyed must about this story was the way Noah and Adrian were brought together. Their paths crossed in an unexpected way and a tentative friendship was formed where both men eventually gave in to the attraction that simmered between them. But what made this different from some of the stories I’ve read lately was the fact that although the attraction was palpable, it was slow burning with tentative touches and stolen looks to add to the allure of these two coming together.

Both Noah and Adrian were great characters and I appreciated the chance Annabeth Albert afforded me to get to know them. On the surface, Noah and Adrian appeared to be opposites, but ultimately they complemented each other perfectly well. Noah with his caring nature helped Adrian recognize that his previous relationship never allowed for something real where there was no distance and opportunity to put problems aside. Likewise, Adrian’s laid-back personality and honest acceptance allowed Noah to relax and eventually recognize what he was missing by keeping himself closed off.

Although emotions did play a major role in the story, the author made sure that the story never reach angsty levels. I thought Noah’s hesitancy was perfectly brought to the page. I understood where his doubts stemmed from and I loved seeing him exploring that side of him he kept to himself. It was fantastic to see how Adrian’s understanding and caring nature put Noah at ease and eventually brought him out of the ‘closet’ Noah had lived in for so long. Their happy moments were a treat to experience and their more candid and honest moments only served to prove how deeply the connection between Noah and Adrian ran.

I loved that the romance was slow in coming that the connection shared was firmly established and developed throughout. But that’s not to say that the chemistry was lacking. Like I said before, those tentative touches kept the tension alive and present which made for some tantalizing moments. And when they finally did come together? It was everything I was expecting and much more.

Even though I enjoyed this story from beginning to end, I couldn’t help but want to see more of Adrian and Noah as a couple after everything was said and done. The last chapter was great, but I feel like I missed on seeing them go through all the intricacies of establishing and maintaining a relationship, especially when it came to Noah. The last chapter was great, but I don’t know, I just wish I could have seen more of them as a couple.

All in all, a fantastic romantic read.

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

 

Excerpt

Noah knew the dog was trouble as soon as he and Ulysses entered the campground’s off-leash dog area. The little guy—some sort of Chihuahua/mini-pin mix in a yellow-and-green checked coat—stood in the center of the scrubby grass, barking his fool head off. The only human in the dog area sat at the picnic table on the far side, completely absorbed in his shiny phone, oblivious to his dog strutting around like all eight pounds of him would be enough to keep potential threats out.

Ulysses gave Noah a look, like “you really expect me to ignore that?” Noah tightened his hold on the tennis ball chucker. Ulysses never did well competing with smaller dogs for his toys. He unclipped Ulysses with a stern look.

“Be good.”

Still yapping, the little dog rushed over to inspect his new enemy. Predictably, Ulysses wandered away to do his business. He was too old for these sorts of games.

Noah gave a halfhearted wave in the direction of the owner, but the guy didn’t look up from his phone. The young guy was a typical hipster tourist—thick tortoise-framed glasses, artfully messed-up dark hair, with a thick purple streak, falling over his forehead. Slim build, but his wide shoulders stretched his too-thin jacket, making the shiny fabric ripple with his motions. He wasn’t any more prepared for November in Utah than his designer dog. Still, he was a cute guy, if one was the type to notice things like that, which Noah was not.

Noah looked away, studying the sheer cliffs that surrounded the Capitol Reef National Park. Didn’t matter how much time he spent in Southern Utah, he never got tired of the view. Phone guy was missing the light shifting into one of those perfect late fall sunsets that made the early dusk worth the loss of daylight. Pink streaks mingled with gray sky to cast a rosy glow over the scrubby grass and low fence of the dog area.

Rowwwr. Ulysses flopped at Noah’s feet, a deep beseeching whine rattling out of his barrel chest. He was eighty pounds of unhappy. He’d waited patiently all afternoon while Noah worked, and now he was missing out on his ball time thanks to the teacup gatekeeper.

“Okay, but play nice.” Noah threw the ball hard with the chucker toy, going for enough distance to outstrip the tiny dog’s ability to keep up with Ulysses. Not surprisingly, the little guy was tenacious, cutting off Ulysses’s path to the ball. Ulysses gave a warning woof, and Noah broke into a run, heading after the dogs.

“Down,” he called out. Ulysses wouldn’t attack the smaller dog, but he wasn’t above a major tantrum. And despite the smaller dog acting as instigator, people would see the huge black dog and toss out the “aggressor” label. Noah preferred to exercise him late in the day—Ulysses simply didn’t enjoy playing with other dogs, and Noah wasn’t one to force his dog into uncomfortable situations.

The little dog stood over the ball, yapping up a storm while Ulysses barked and growled, ignoring Noah’s command to sit.

Finally, the owner hefted himself off the picnic bench.

“Pixel, baby, what are you doing?” the owner called in a melodic voice that didn’t inspire Noah’s confidence in the man’s ability to control his dog. “Did the big doggie scare you?”

Hah. Typical. Noah snorted. “Can you grab the ball?” He didn’t trust those little dog breeds—too quick to snap. He’d nearly been bitten trying to retrieve a ball more than once.

“Oh sure.” The guy reached under Pixel—typical cutesy name for an annoying dog—and delicately plucked the ball free, but instead of handing it to Noah, he gave it a toss, sending both dogs running.

Oh great. Noah let out a slow breath, little puffs of vapor in the crisp evening air that did nothing to defuse his tension.

“It’ll be okay.” The way-too-handsy guy patted the sleeve of Noah’s parka. “They just need to work it out. Pixel loves to play.”

Noah took a step to the side. Who did that? Touched complete strangers? But the guy kept up his friendly grin, not unlike his dog, who kept gamely chasing Ulysses. Ulysses won the race to the ball this time and hightailed it back to Noah. Not releasing his prize, he whined softly.

“Hey, boy. You got a toy?” The guy knelt to dog level and extended a hand, but instead of sniffing, Ulysses shook his head.

“Sorry. He’s not much on new people.” Neither am I. Noah’s voice sounded rough to his own ears—too many days with only Ulysses to talk to.

“It’s okay.” The guy straightened, then extended a hand to Noah. “I’m Adrian Gottlieb. You been at Capitol Reef long?”

“Couple of weeks.” He returned Adrian’s handshake, hating it when a little buzz shot up his arm. Unlike his own gloved hand, Adrian’s hand was bare, a hint of a tattoo playing peekaboo with his cuff, his grip strong and firm. And Noah had absolutely no business noticing anything more than the guy’s relentless friendliness.

Adrian smiled expectantly as he released Noah’s hand.

“Oh, I’m Noah. And that’s Ulysses,” he added, because dog people always wanted to know all about the dog. No doubt the guy was bursting to tell Pixel’s life story.

“Add-dreeee-an,” a heavily accented voice called from the gate. A beefy guy close to Noah’s age leaned on the fence, bald head gleaming in the setting sun. “I’m lonely. When are you coming back?”

“Coming,” Adrian shouted, then gave Noah a shrug with a “what can you do?” expression on his face. He grabbed Pixel and jogged across the field.

Noah nodded like he knew anything about handling demanding friends. Adrian greeted the mammoth dude with a quick peck. Okay then. Not a friend. He should have guessed, but he was a bit slow about relationship stuff. The country was changing, even way out here, but no one would dare try even that much PDA in his tiny West Texas college town. His stomach gave a weird flip—not quite discomfort, but something else he refused to name. Time to return his attention to Ulysses. He hurled the tennis ball as hard as he could.

 

About the Author

Annabeth

Annabeth Albert grew up sneaking romance novels under the bed covers. Now, she devours all subgenres of romance out in the open—no flashlights required! When she’s not adding to her keeper shelf, she’s a multi-published Pacific Northwest romance writer.

Emotionally complex, sexy, and funny stories are her favorites both to read and to write. Annabeth loves finding happy endings for a variety of pairings and is a passionate gay rights supporter. In between searching out dark heroes to redeem, she works a rewarding day job and wrangles two toddlers.

Represented by Saritza Hernandez of the Corvisiero Literary Agency

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Tumblr | Goodreads

 
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Tour: Hidden Impact (Safeguard #1) by Piper J. Drake *Review, Excerpt and Giveaway*

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Hidden Impact (Safeguard #1)
by Piper J. Drake

A Suspenseful Romantic Novel
From Carina Press
Released November 9th 2015

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He’s not the hero she’s looking for…

As part of the elite Centurion Corporation team, military-veteran-turned-mercenary Gabriel Diaz is a natural defender. He’ll do anything to ensure a mission is successful. Anything but get emotionally invested—he learned the hard way that can be deadly. Easy bodyguard jobs in between the more challenging missions are all he’s interested in now.

Maylin Cheng is desperate and running out of time. Her younger sister has gone missing but no one seems to take her concern seriously. Her last hope lies in asking an aloof bodyguard for help. He dismisses her outright, but all that changes when she is almost killed in a not-so-accidental hit-and-run right before his eyes.

As Maylin leans on Gabriel, she begins to rely on him for more than just her safety. But as their attraction grows, so does the danger surrounding them. When the elaborate web they’re trapped in unravels, Gabriel will do anything to protect them. Even if that means putting his heart in the crosshairs.

 

HiddenImpact

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Review

4 stars

Gabriel is biding his time while he and his team recover from their latest mission. Acting as a bodyguard is not exactly what he signed up for, but keeping busy makes the time go by faster. During one of these events he’s approached by a beautiful woman asking him to consider a missing person’s case. Sadly, Gabe doesn’t like to take these ’emotion-driven’ type of cases and firmly refused. In any case, the higher ups in Centurion have the last word on which type of assignment they’ll take on so he doesn’t give the woman or her missing sister another thought. Until he realizes the woman’s life is in danger.

Maylin is determined to find her sister and she will go to any lengths to seek help in her search. But when the opportunity arises to seek help from Centurion, she’s not expecting for her request for help to be turned down flat by the agent she approached. Maylin’s outlook does not seem to be improving either since it appears someone is after her.

If nothing else, the hit and run attempt catches the attention of the very man who refused to help her, driving them both to seek answers amidst a tangled web that involves major players and their own personal emotions.

What I enjoyed the most about this story was that the author kept me intrigued throughout. It’s not often that I find myself clueless as to what the hell is going on. I enjoyed the twist and turns in regards to the missing person’s case as well as seeing the romance between Gabe and Maylin develop.

Betrayal. Passion. Lies. Heartbreak. Danger. Every single element the author brought to the page flowed seamlessly to bring forth a captivating, riveting read full of ‘Awww’-inducing moments with some added heat to make it more than worth my while.

I enjoyed watching as the connection between Gabe and Maylin grew and strengthened as the story progressed. Although theirs was a lust at first sight kind of pairing, Piper Drake made sure that their connection made it to the page too. Sure, their chemistry was undeniable but it was those candid moments spent over a meal, the fleeting touches and honest interactions that ultimately had me cheering them on.

As a first book in the series, Hidden Impact was a success. Not only did the author provided us with Maylin and Gabe’s story, she also introduced various key players and set the stage for other books to come.

All in all, an action-packed, intriguing romance.

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

 

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Excerpt

“What you need to do is hear me out.” Steel edged her voice now, and maybe a bit of desperation.

It was the former, not the latter, that made him take a real look at her.

Her eyes caught him first. Deep emerald green. Shocking, actually, set in a delicate Asian face framed by a cascade of hair so black the lighting caught blue highlights. Her features were naturally beautiful, accented with a minimal amount of makeup. Very different from the majority of the people in attendance, regardless of gender.

Color leached from her face as she must have realized she had his full attention. But she didn’t back away or break eye contact. Good for her. Lesser men had balked when Gabe had stared them down.

“My little sister is missing.” The edge was gone from her words but the desperation was still there.

Anger washed away. Damn. “I’m sorry, miss. But the police are the people to contact.”

Political targets, reporters and prisoners of war were the kidnap victims private military might be contracted to locate and retrieve. The kind of people held for ransom in places so far off the radar, even sunlight might not find them. And those weren’t his team’s specialty.

The woman in front of him was a normal civilian. Willowy, slender. The thought of a little sister conjured up images of some tiny waiflike kid. He and his partners were heavy hitters, not the kind of people you sent in to do anything but cause strategic destruction. They went into hot spots overseas and did the things politicians didn’t admit to knowing about at these glitzy events, things a US uniform wouldn’t be doing. Delicate, gentle—the sort of handling a traumatized girl retrieved from a kidnapping situation would need—was not their forte.

The older sister shook her head. “I’ve spoken to the police and the US Embassy. No one will do anything, not yet. And by the time they believe something’s actually wrong, I might never find her.”

Missing persons cases were tough. She was right about the time crunch. There was only a short window before the abducted was more than likely dead. Considering what could have already happened, death might not be the worst thing either.

Definitely not going to add to what this woman was already imagining. Hopefully she didn’t know what could happen.

“You’d do better hiring a private investigator.” He drew his eyebrows together, tried not to let the urge to squirm under her very direct stare show. Damn. Give him vapid groupies and a clueless entourage and he had no problem staring them down. This woman, it was like she could see straight through him and know how much he didn’t want to cause a scene at this very moment. There was nothing good he could do for her.

 

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About the Author

Piper_TH
Piper J. Drake (or “PJ”) began her writing career as “PJ Schnyder” writing sci-fi & paranormal  romance and steampunk. She has recently received the FF&P PRISM award for her work as well as the NJRW Golden Leaf award and Parsec award.

Now, PJ is exploring the complexity of romantic suspense, incorporating her interests in mixed martial arts and the military into her writing.

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New Release Favorite! Taking a Chance (Restoration #3) by A.M. Arthur *Review*

Taking a Chance Book Cover Taking a Chance
Restoration #3
A.M. Arthur
M/M Contemporary Romance
Carina Press
September 14th 2015
eGalley
NetGalley

 

The last time Elliott fell in love, his fiancé cheated on him. Now fresh out of rehab, Elliott's confidence lags behind his libidoénot that that stops him from lusting after the sexy carpenter working on his kitchen—from a distance. He won't risk his sobriety on another potential broken heart.

As half of an experienced home renovation duo, Augustus expects this job will be easy. Until he sees the house's tenant, a man he never thought he'd meet—his ex's other man. Augustus knows he should say something about their secret, shared past, but he's tongue-tied by their intense, unwanted attraction.

Despite attempts to keep things professional, the two men give in to temptation and forge a genuine connection—and his developing feelings for Elliott leave Augustus in an impossible situation. If he stays, his secret will always hang over the relationship. But telling the truth might send Elliott spiraling to a new rock bottom and cost Augustus the only man he's ever really loved

Review

Damn! I somehow keep putting myself through all this angst and keep on loving it.

I said in my review of Finding their Way that Elliot’s story would be either a fantastic story or a clusterf@ck. And thank goodness is was the former with just a little bit of the latter. I loved it!

Elliot is getting himself settled in his new life after rehab. He has good days and bad ones too, but his support system is steady and ready to be there at a moment’s notice–something that he both appreciates and resents. He wants to lead a ‘normal’ life, even when he knows he’s can’t go back to being the same man he was before, but his issues are many and at times overwhelming. It isn’t until he meets Augustus that he starts to put his life in order and recognizes that he’s much more than his issues.

Augustus is not looking to get involved, especially with his ex’s boyfriend. But he can’t seem to keep away from Elliot, there’s just something about the broken man that draws him in. Although haunted by his guilt over his role in Elliot’s situation, he knows that Elliot is the man for him and he is determined to make the best of his time with him.

What can I say? There was drama and angst and sexual tension galore–all things I’ve come to expect from A.M. Arthur.

I loved Elliot. He had intrigued me from the moment I met him, but getting to know him in this story truly revealed how much he has been through and how far he has come. I admired his tenacity, worried about his recovery and hoped he would finally find his happily ever after.

Did I think Augustus was the right partner for him? Er, nope. Not in the beginning. Mainly it was because Augustus seemed so serious and withdrawn. Thankfully, as the story progressed I not only got the chance to see how good he was for Elliot but how well they complemented each other. They had great chemistry, but it was their connection that truly did it for me. I loved their interactions. Be it their flirty banter, their honest dialogue or their candid moments every single one served to showcase how their connection had grown from that first meeting.

As with all other books in the series, I enjoyed the secondary characters and what they brought to the story. It was nice to see James and Nathan again, but I admit it was Boxer and Ryan’s presence that I enjoyed the most. *sigh*

Although this is the third book in the series, it can be read as a stand alone. However, I do recommend you read the previous books (in order) if you truly want to experience Elliot’s downward spiral firsthand. The author does a great job in providing the backstory but having experienced it for myself made me recognize how far Elliot had come from that initial meeting in Getting it Right.

All in all, an fantastic emotion-driven story. I don’t think I could have ask for a better story for Elliot.

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

 

Restoration Series

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Getting It Right (Restoration #1)
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Finding Their Way (Restoration #2)
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

 

 
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New Release Review: Finding Their Way (Restoration #2) by A.M. Arthur

Finding Their Way Book Cover Finding Their Way
Restoration #2
A.M. Arthur
M/M Romance
Carina Press
July 20th 2015
eBook
NetGalley

 

Thanks to an abusive father and a string of bad relationships, Riley McCage learned the hard way that people are not kind without a reason. Now, after landing a job at popular gay bar Pot O Gold, Riley is on the right track--until the night Boxer finds him drunk and drugged in the back room of an exclusive sex party.

Donald "Boxer" Boxwood wasn't looking for anything beyond some casual kink until he peeled Riley off the floor and gave him a safe place to stay. But there's something compelling about the guy crashing on his couch, and the two forge an instant friendship that eases into unmistakable attraction. Despite Riley's hesitancy, Boxer knows one thing to be true: he needs Riley in his life.

Riley risked everything to run away and build a new life for himself, and his secrets aren't something he'd ever wish upon his kind, gentle new friend. But when the past comes to call, he'll have no choice but to put his trust in Boxer…and believe people can change enough to deserve a second chance.

My Review

 

There you go! I had a feeling that James and Nathan’s friends would have great stories and I was right!

This is Donald “Boxer” Boxwood’s story.

Finding Their Way picks up soon after the first book in the series. Boxer made an appearance in the previous book where it was evident that he was having relationship troubles. Since then he has broken up with his boyfriend and it is in his search for a little casual hook up that he comes to Riley’s rescue.

Riley McCage is a new bartender at the Pot O Gold. After running away from an abusive father at eighteen, Riley doesn’t want anything to do with his past. He has a new identity and it’s trying to make a new life. He’s weary of most people and trust is not something that he hands out easily. So when he lets his guard down and finds himself in a dangerous situation at the hands of his boyfriend, it’s even harder for him to trust the man that comes to his rescue.

I liked this story–angst and all! Riley and Boxer were great characters to get to know. Each had a past and difficulty trusting other people, so watching as they slowly allowed themselves the chance to explore the connection between them made for a very enticing read.

Through honest interactions and some very intense moments, AM Arthur managed to bring these two together while showcasing and strengthening their connection. I liked that they each had their doubts and didn’t give in to their attraction so easily. It really spoke to how well they got to know each other that they could come to voice their apprehension, their pasts and their needs.

Which leads me right to their chemistry. Boxer wants someone who takes charge in the bedroom and he finds that in Riley. To see him, you wouldn’t think Riley would be up to the task. Ohhhh but how he truly was. It was a subtle thing, but so very much who he truly was meant to be. I loved it! I appreciated how the author approached this element of the story. It felt real to have this dynamic between Boxer and Riley.

There were other added elements that I enjoyed too. The author truly weaved this story with the previous one giving some closure in some areas and giving us some new story lines to keep us intrigued along the way.

As with the previous book, I enjoyed the secondary characters as well. I got to see James and Nathan again, which was nice. It was great to see them together without all the other chaos. It helped to soothe my doubts about them. Of course, there was Elliot again, which served to lay the way for the next book in the series. I admit, I’m curious about him. His would be a fantastic story or a complete clusterf@ck! We’ll see.

Finding Their Way renewed my interest in this group of friends and made for a great addition to the series. A little bit angsty, a little bit romantic and a lot sexy! A perfect combo.

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

TBR Review: Getting It Right (Restoration #1) by A.M. Arthur

Getting It Right Book Cover Getting It Right
Restoration #1
A.M. Arthur
M/M Romance
Carina Press
March 16th 2015
eBook
NetGalley

 

Detective Nathan Wolf might just be a junior detective, but he tackles every case with the passion that he lacks in his personal life. A series of failed relationships with women has left him still single at thirty-four—because he's too scared to admit to his longtime crush on his best friend James.

Dr. James Taggert likes to keep his profession as a psychiatrist separate from his party-animal persona. Known around the gay clubs as Tag, he's the guy who screws them, leaves them, and never looks back. But James's drinking is getting heavier, and when bad memories from the past resurface, he's close to becoming the worst version of himself.

After a drunken blackout ends in a hot and heavy make-out session with his very straight best friend, James has no memory of the steamy affair. But Nathan isn't sorry for the kisses that James can't remember. Nathan finally musters the courage to tell James how he really feels, but a life-altering event might force them apart before they can ever be together.

 

My Review

 

This is my second attempt at writing a review.

So I decided on a re-read.

It didn’t help.

So here goes…

The first time around, I was conflicted because although I loved some aspects of the story, there were others that just didn’t work for me. Too much angst, too little romance. It didn’t help that at the time I was still on the the fence in regards to the characters, their connection and the relationship they were trying to establish.

I liked James and Nathan and I thought they shared an awesome friendship. I just wasn’t convinced that it could become more than that. Although I had no problem recognizing a connection between these two, I just could not see them romantically involved. At least not with what was brought to the page. Misunderstandings, lies by omission and plain old lack of communication made James and Nathan’s story heavier than it should have been.

I’ve read AM Arthur’s work plenty of times to expect some heavy emotions throughout the story. But it came to be too much this time. It was one thing after another…coming from all sides–Nathan, James, friends and everybody else too! I love the thrill of an emotional roller-coaster ride, but this was a bit too messy for my taste.

I think it’s sad that I remember all the drama–Nathan’s attack, his subsequent PTSD, James’ drinking, Elliot’s loss, James’ mother and James and Nathan’s attack at the end–but I can’t remember one freaking love scene. Pfft!

I did enjoy the addition of the secondary characters that constituted Nathan and James’ circle of friends. Elliot was a bit out there and I’m kind of scared to read his story, but the others were intriguing and I’m curious to know more.

Maybe not the right story for me, but a good beginning to a spin-off series. I’m intrigued and not giving up just yet.

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

On the Surface (In the Zone #1) by Kate Willoughby *Review*

On the Surface (In the Zone, #1) by Kate Willoughby Book Cover On the Surface (In the Zone, #1) by Kate Willoughby
In the Zone
Kate Willoughby
Contemporary Romance
Carina Press
April 14th 2014
eBook ARC
272
NetGalley

 

NHL player Tim Hollander lost his temper one time and threw a water bottle at an abusive fan. After "Bottlegate," he's traded to the San Diego Barracudas, where he'll need to keep the bad publicity to a minimum while proving he can still compete with the younger guys on the ice.

Erin Collier is a pediatric nurse who's never seen a hockey game, but gets in line for Tim's autograph at a PR event in hopes of impressing the doctor she has a crush on. When an obnoxious fan gets pushy toward Erin, Tim rushes to defend the pretty stranger, throwing a punch in the process.

Grateful for the rescue, Erin agrees to stand by Tim during the resulting press conference and host him at a hospital charity event. Their chemistry is palpable, and soon their lives are intertwined. But Erin doubts a hockey player is capable of anything resembling a real relationship. And if Tim can't get her to see beyond what's on the surface, they'll never last longer than a single season…

 

Review

This was such an enjoyable read!

I was drawn in form the very beginning, especially by the characters.

Tim is just joining a new hockey team after a bit of a controversial episode. Immediately he is doing PR for the team, which leads to him getting in another ‘bit’ of trouble. But luck is on his side because it’s during this event that he gets to meet Erin.

Erin is a Pediatrics nurse with her eye on a promotion to Labor & Delivery. She loves children and is her dream to help deliver them into the world. She also would like to get laid some time soon and has her eyes on a certain doctor on staff. It is with the idea of impressing said doctor that she gets in line to have a cap signed by one of the players. But her attempt fails miserably when she gets in a heated argument with the guy in front of her. Lucky for her, she just met the new member of the team and he will make sure to get her sign merchandise and much, much more!

I liked this story very much. So much so that I read it twice simply because. What truly made the story so great for me what the camaraderie between Tim and Erin. It was easy for me to see how perfect they were for each other because their rapport shined through the page with their every interaction.

It sure helped that they had great chemistry too! Phew, that first kiss alone was a scorcher! I liked that the author took her time in bringing them together, but that she didn’t hold back when they did get together. It was hot!!

There were additional elements thrown into the mix that made this story so enjoyable. I especially enjoyed the range of emotions the characters portrayed. From anticipation to hesitation all the way through fear and disappointment, every single emotion jumped of the page and served to impact the reader. There were fun moments, laugh-out-loud moments, tender and heated moments too. Heck, I might have shed a tear or three too!

All in all, a fantastic and truly enjoyable story…and I don’t even like hockey!

New Release: Blamed (Blood Money #1) by Edie Harris *Excerpt and Giveaway*

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Blamed (Blood Money #1)
by Edie Harris

A Suspenseful Romance
From Carina Press (HQN)

Released November 3rd 2014

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Born into a long line of spies, sanctioned killers and covert weapons developers, Beth Faraday carried out her first hit-for-hire when she was still a teenager.

That part of her life—the American spy royalty part—ended one year ago, with a job gone wrong in Afghanistan. The collateral damage she caused with a single shot was unfathomable and, for Beth, unforgivable. She’s worked hard to build a new life for herself, far away from the family business.

But someone, somewhere, hasn’t forgotten what Beth did in Kabul. And they want revenge.

As the Faraday clan bands together to defend Beth and protect their legacy, Beth is forced to flee her new home with the unlikeliest of allies—MI6 agent Raleigh Vick, the only man she’s ever loved. And the one she thought she’d killed in the desert.

 

Blamed

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Excerpt

There were worse things than having a gun held on him by a beautiful woman, he supposed. Such as glancing down in time to watch the pink heat drain from her honey-gold skin when he told her he was supposed to kill her.

That was worse.

He sucked in a breath as they hit the street, the chilly night air swirling around them as Beth hustled him to the other side of the block. “Not sure going back to yours is the best idea,” he mumbled, hissing as each step jarred the wound in his side. He hadn’t been lying when he told her it was a flesh wound, but he could feel the bullet lodged against his lowest rib, pinching and scraping and being generally uncomfortable.

She shouldered open the front door to her building. “Do you want me to get that bullet out of you or not?”

“I do,” he grated as they ascended the stairs. “But we’ve got a limited window before they send someone to do my job for me.” He let her push him into her apartment, taking a seat at the dining room table while she set the alarm and locked the door.

“And by job, you mean me, right?” She didn’t look at him as she dropped his briefcase to the floor and disappeared down the hall, emerging a moment later with a hefty black nylon case that resembled an oversized lunch cooler. Drawing his surrendered gun from the waistband of her jeans, she replaced it with hers, setting his Ruger aside on the kitchen counter before she unzipped the case and began pulling out various medical supplies: latex gloves, sterilization pads, tweezers, an actual suture gun.

Thirty seconds later, she was kneeling next to his chair. “Lift your hand and take off your shirt.”

“Bossy. I like it.” But he complied, yanking his tie over his head, unbuttoning and shrugging off his shirt, and was relieved to find that the bleeding had slowed to a trickle.

Dark-lashed hazel eyes glared up at him, their gold-speckled gray flashing under the light of the chandelier above the table. “You flirt with me, I make this hurt. Understand?”

 

 

About the Author

Edie

Edie Harris studied English and Creative Writing at the University of Iowa and Grinnell College. She fills her days with writing and editing contract proposals, but her nights belong to the world of romance fiction. Edie lives and works in Chicago and is represented by Laura Bradford of Bradford Literary Agency.

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Author Spotlight: Cost of Repairs and Belonging Series by A.M. Arthur *Reviews*

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A.M. Arthur was born and raised in the same kind of small town that she likes to write about, a stone’s throw from both beach resorts and generational farmland. She’s been creating stories in her head since she was a child and scribbling them down nearly as long, in a losing battle to make the fictional voices stop. She credits an early fascination with male friendships (bromance hadn’t been coined yet back then) and “The Young Riders” with her later discovery of and subsequent love affair with m/m romance stories.

When not exorcising the voices in her head, she toils away in a retail job that tests her patience and gives her lots of story fodder. She can also be found in her kitchen, pretending she’s an amateur chef and trying to not poison herself or others with her cuisine experiments.

A.M. Arthur’s work is available from Samhain Publishing, Carina Press, Dreamspinner Press, and Musa Publishing.

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The Cost of Repairs Series

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An M/M Contemporary Romance Series
From Samhain Publishing

Set in the fictional small town of Stratton, Pennsylvania, the Cost of Repairs series follows a group of friends and acquaintances in their quests to find love, as well as a comfortable place to call home. Each book can be read as a standalone, however they are best enjoyed in order.

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Series Review

4 stars
The series starts with Cost of Repairs. Here we met Samuel Briggs, a cop who just moved into town and is getting settled and meeting the people of Stratton, especially those he runs into every day while working. Trying to escape a painful past, the least he expects is the way his life is bound to change when he is called to a disturbance at Dixie’s Cup. There he meets Rey King, the handsome short-order cook who will soon come to mean the world to him. Rey King is a hard working man who keeps has given up on lasting relationships–until he meets Sam. Drawn to the handsome stranger that makes him feel safe, Rey is reluctant to give into his attraction to Sam fearing that his past and his secrets won’t allow him the happiness he years for. But fate keeps Sam firmly in Rey’s path and soon they are both contemplating something more.

“Fixing the home can heal the heart-if you can find all the pieces. “

The author did a great job of bringing forth the emotions these characters were fighting so hard to keep at bay while still firmly establishing the setting and the characters that will be taking part in this series. I enjoyed the way she went about bringing Rey and Sam together. Their first encounter was fully fueled by lust but as emotions came into play their connection grew and deepened until both men were overwhelmed by the emotions the other one was stirring within them. Lust, confusion, hesitation and doubts were among the many emotions A.M. Arthur managed to bring to the page.

As the first book in the series, Cost of Repairs worked well. It also helped to set the stage for the next book in the series.

Color of Grace tells Barrett McCall and Schuyler Rhodes’ story. We met Schuyler in Cost of Repairs as Rey’s ex-boyfriend and Dixie’s nephew. He’s been consumed by guilt and the secret he carries. He spends his days going through the motions without allowing himself to live his life to the fullest and getting drunk on the anniversary of the event that changed his life. Barrett is no stranger to secrets and guilt, so when he notices Schuyler trying to drown his pain in alcohol, he decides to help him through the hard time he’s suffering through. But what was meant as a one night good deed soon becomes more.

Looking to the future begins with forgiving the past.

*sigh* Barrett–I loved him! He was such a complex character but his heart was good and his story both touching and heartwarming. I appreciated the fact that the author went the ‘friendship’ route with these two. Mind you, the attraction between them was always present and jumped to the page any time they were near, but it was the candid moments that convinced me these two were fated to be something more. What I enjoyed the most was the support they provided each other. Although they were both reluctant to start anything lasting with the other, they were there for each other–talking, laughing or simply just being. So when the moment came for them to be more I was more than ready to cheer them on.

The third book in the series, Weight of Silence, tells the story of two young men who suddenly find each other and soon after they can’t see themselves living without each other’s presence in their life. Jace Ramsey returns to Stratton for Thanksgiving break and meets Gavin Perez. They connection is immediate and soon they find themselves sharing one lustful night together. Gavin can’t seem to forget the charming endearing boy he met on Thanksgiving, so when he runs into a withdrawn and shaken Jace during Christmas break he can’t help but be there for him every capacity. In Gavin, Jace finds a friend, a confidant and later on an understanding lover. But his secret is eating away at him and making it difficult for him to enjoy his new-found relationship.

The wrong secret can poison everything–even if it’s kept with the best of intentions.

I admit that I was a bit surprised when I discovered who were the main characters in this story. First, because I didn’t know much about them and then because of their age. However, A.M. Arthur soon put my doubts to rest by making Gavin and Jace’s connection apparent and by having them portray such a wide range of emotions. I appreciated the degree of conflicting emotions Jace suffered through since it went hand in hand with the stage of life he was on at the time–the uncertainty of a future, the yearning for something more and the weight of keeping a secret while dealing with your own set of problems. Gavin’s role was a great one too. He was exactly what Jace needed at the time and his unwavering support was the key to Jace’s healing.

And here I was all set to discover a new set of characters when I find that the next book in the series, Acts of Faith, centers on Sam and Rey’s relationship and the struggles to keep that relationship in the face of unexpected events and circumstances. Rey and Sam return to the page as parents to Rey’s daughter, Faith. Doubts arise, tempers flare and emotions run rampant in this story that shines light into what a true family is and how the bond between two individuals can be enough to survive whatever obstacles are thrown at them.

Love can be built on a broken past…but not on broken trust.

Kudos to A.M. Arthur for bringing forth such a compelling and touching story while still maintaining the intensity of Sam and Rey’s relationship I experienced in Cost of Repairs. And I’m not only referring to the intense sexual attraction either (although that was present too!). I appreciated the fact that the author didn’t make it easy for Sam and Rey to get their issues sorted out. She made them work for their happily ever after and I loved every second of it. I laughed, I cried and I melted. And I got another character to be curious about.

Which leads me to A.M. Arthur’s latest installment in the series, Foundation of Trust. David Weller first came into the scene as Rey’s business partner in Acts of Faith. He has given up on love and sends his time trying to forget the family he loved and lost with meaningless hook-ups to numb to the pain of loss. But when the very man he’s trying to forget comes back to plead for forgiveness, all the pain he kept at bay comes back with double the force. Battling confusion, past insecurities and feelings that haven’t lessen since Owen left 4 years ago David struggles to make sense of his life, his emotions and his future.

Not everyone gets a second chance with their first love.

A.M. Arthur certainly didn’t pull any punches in bringing David and Owen’s story to the page. *sniff* I cried like a baby, that’s how emotion-driven this story was. I loved how I got both sides of the story–present and past. Which helped me tremendously in connecting to both characters and understanding where they were coming from. I loved David, but I also wanted to smack him upside the head a few times. He was a mess of massive proportions, but I didn’t appreciate the way he purposely hurt Owen when he was trying so hard to make amends. Mind you, I understood David’s pain, but that was no excuse for some of the things he did.

Thankfully, A.M. Arthur made every effort to show how deeply conflicted David truly was which in turn calmed my urge to throttle the man into submission. That is why I’ve come to enjoy A.M. Arthur’s writing. Be it emotions, sex scenes, candid moments or thoughts and musings, she always goes the extra mile to show the reader, which I appreciate since it helps me to understand these characters and their circumstances better.

All in all, a fantastic series with an intriguing cast of characters, emotions abound and stories that will tug at your heart strings and chemistry that make you melt with its intensity.

*I received a Foundation of Trust in exchange of my honest opinion.

 

Belonging Series

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An M/M Contemporary Romance Series
From Carina Press

The Belonging Series is a trilogy of New Adult novels featuring a close circle of friends in Northern Delaware. From the tiny town of Perch Creek to the larger city of Wilmington, these young men will learn that there’s more to life and love than just sex–no matter how steamy it is….

Each book is a standalone story, however they are best enjoyed by reading in order.

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Series Review

4 stars

In No Such Thing we met Alessandro Silva, a young man who returned to Perch Creek to help out his foster mother. Alessandro has had a hard life but is determined to make a new life for himself and his first step towards that goal is to get a job. He finds work as a waiter and although it’s not much it is honest work and leads him to meet Jaime Winters. Jaime has also had a hard life, but his was due to a failing heart he had recently replaced. He’s always yearned to lead a normal life, but his situation required him to always be cautious. Although he still has to be careful about his health, he’s determined to life as normal a life as possible.

This was a sweet, heartwarming romance but with an added touch of mystery and sexiness that made it a worthwhile read for me. I liked the characters, their differences and how well they complemented each other. But mostly, I loved the connection between Jamie and Alessandro–the sweet touches, the candid moments spent getting to know each other and the sexual tension that fed their attraction to one another.

No Such Thing was a great start to a series and paved the way to the next book in the series by introducing Ezra to readers. When I first met Ezra I was intrigued by reputation and his penchant to match his eye color to his outfit du jour. But Ezra Kelley does not do relationships so my curiosity was upped a notch. I so very much anticipating how the author was going to go about bringing some romance into this man’s life in Maybe This Time.

Well, for me this story worked very well. I liked that Donner was older and more experienced. He had a sense of calmness and control about him that helped to center Ezra at moments. And Ezra had certain traits that encouraged Donner to allow himself the chance to explore their ‘relationship’ further. They had both loved and lost and vowed not to do it again, but their connection proved to be too intense to be denied and left unexplored. Which the author did. Of course, they had great chemistry, but it was the way the author worked that initial connection into something more as the story progressed that sold me on their relationship. Miscommunication, fears and doubts got in their at times way but ultimately they realized they had found something great and unexpected. In the end, their love for one another won out and I was so very happy to have experienced it with them.

In addition to telling Donner and Ezra’s story, Maybe This Time served to give a bit of background on the latest installment in the series by having Donner, Ezra and Brendan come to Romy’s rescue when he found himself in a life-threatening situation. Stand By You tells Romy Myers and Brendan Walker’s story.

Brendan, Donner’s best friend, has stood by Romy as he struggles to come to terms with his situation. Romy is determined not to make the same mistakes he’s done in the past and that includes standing on his own two feet without turning to hook-ups to find his happiness. However, it seems that Romy can’t escape his past but thankfully he has the unwavering support of Brendan, Donner and Ezra. But it is Brendan presence that gives him the most peace out of the three. He feels safe with Brendan and their easy camaraderie soon has him wondering about what could be.

But if has learned anything about his past is that he must learn to find happiness within himself before he should be looking for it with someone else. And ultimately that’s what this story is all about. Is about a young man’s journey in finding himself, accepting his faults, his past and fighting his demons. It’s about appreciating the family you have made regardless of the family you were born in and allowing yourself the chance to experience the joy that can be found by trusting the one man who has stayed by your side without wanting nothing in return.

As it’s the usual in her writing, A.M. Arthur doesn’t fail in bringing the emotions to these stories. The stories are complete without being overburdened with details and touching while still maintaining the sizzling factor intact. It helps that brings about intriguing characters that although complex are easy to relate to for the reader. I have thoroughly enjoyed her stories and I am certainly looking forward to reading more of her work.

*I received these titles through NetGalley in exchange of my honest opinion.

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No Apologies by Sybil Bartel *Review and Excerpt*

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No Apologies
by Sybil Bartel

A New Adult Contemporary Romance
From Carina Press (HQN)
Release on June 23rd 2014

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Never apologize

Hard-edged rocker Graham Allen has it all. He’s flush with cash from playing bass in a band by night and restoring classic cars by day. And there are plenty of women willing to share his bed for a night, complication-free. Perfect, because if there’s anything he learned from his past, it was to never get attached—to anything. So when bartender Carly Sullivan flashes her innocent smile, Graham isn’t prepared for what happens next.

Never fall in love

Two rules, that’s all Graham has—never apologize and never fall in love. He knows Carly is everything he should avoid. Cheerful and sweet, she has “relationship” written all over her. But Graham can’t stay away from her probing questions and concerned blue eyes.

When Graham discovers Carly is hiding a crushing secret, he’s prepared to risk it all. Until in one single moment, everything changes and Graham’s past threatens to collide with his future. His life is crumbling down around him, and soon no apology in the world can save him.

He should’ve known to walk away.

 

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Review

4 stars

Graham doesn’t do relationships, but he can’t help but be drawn to the beautiful bartender around the corner. Her innocence calls to him and even he knows that he is not worthy of her. But try as he might to stay away, Carly doesn’t make it easy on his will to stay away with her sweet smiles and funny remarks.

Carly’s past doesn’t allow her to get close to a man, but there’s something in Graham that she recognizes on herself–his pain and reluctance to connect with someone of the opposite sex.

What I loved most about this story was that although it presented Graham in a bad light, it also showed him to be a very caring person. although sure that he never wanted a relationship, it was his heart’s desire to find that one person who understood him fully without judgement and without asking something in return.

Graham’s past, like Carly’s, was not an easy one, but it made him into the man he was which explained a whole lot of things about his behavior.

I appreciated the fact that Sybil Bartel took her time in bringing Graham and Carly together. Through the use of honest interactions, flirty banter and some intense bickering, she allowed Graham and Carly’s connection to settle and grow into something more.

I found the writing to be captivating and the conflict and its resolution well executed. Mostly, I enjoyed the fact that it allowed the romance to blossom without taking away from it, but still remained powerful enough to keep me riveted throughout.

All in all, a powerful emotional read.

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

 

Excerpt

I wasn’t prepared for my reaction to the sight of her. She was wearing boots, jeans, a tight black sweater, and my favorite smile. Everything shit in my life disappeared. Her blond hair was loose and her innocent expression was full of humor. I wanted to touch her so bad, I was almost shaking. She caught me checking her out and heat flushed her cheeks a sexy shade of pink.

“I wasn’t sure what to wear. I didn’t know if you’d come on the bike or in the Barracuda. I figured this worked for both.” She smiled tentatively.

I was beginning to think she could wear a fucking sack and my dick would respond to the sight of her. “Barracuda, I don’t take chicks on the Ducati,” I stated, feeling more like myself.

“Why not?”

It’s mine. I bought it to ride, not show off and haul chicks around. “I ride solo.” When she frowned, I felt like shit. “It’s more fun,” I grumbled, pissed I was explaining myself.

“Hmm, I’d be willing to test that theory. Can I drive it?”

“You ride?” I asked, incredulous.

“Does a bear shit in the woods?”

 

About the Author

I grew up in Northern California with my head in a book and my feet in the sand. I dreamt of becoming a painter but the heady scent of libraries with their shelves full of books drew me into the world of storytelling. I love the New Adult genre, but really, any story about a love so desperately wrong and impossibly beautiful makes me swoon.

I now live in Southern Florida and while I don’t get to read as much as I like, I still bury my toes in the sand. If I’m not writing or fighting to contain the banana plantation in my backyard, you can find me spending time with my handsomely tattooed husband, my brilliantly practical son and a mischievous miniature boxer…

But Seriously?

Here are ten things you really want to know about me.

I grew up a faculty brat. I can swear like a sailor. I love men in uniform. I hate being told what to do. I can do your taxes (but don’t ask). The Bird Market in Hong Kong freaks me out. My favorite word is desperate…or dirty, or both—I can’t decide. I have a thing for muscle cars. But never reply on me for driving directions, ever. And I have a new book boyfriend every week—don’t tell my husband

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Bonds of Courage (Wicked Play #6) by Lynda Aicher *Series Review*

 

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Bonds of Courage (Wicked Play #6)
by Lynda Aicher

An Erotic Contemporary Romance
From Harlequin/Carina Press
Released on June 16, 2014

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Book Six of Wicked Play

Pro hockey player Holden Hauke has kept his sexual needs buried for years. After a near miss over a picture of him bound to a spanking bench resulted in a mid-season trade, he’s kept his image clean. But with the season over, he’s ready to surrender control. And he’s found just the woman to help him—if only he can convince her to give him a chance.

Bending men to her will is nothing new for Vanessa Delcour, aka Mistress V—she’s a full-time rep for pro athletes, a part-time owner of exclusive sex club The Den, and an experienced Domme. But when Holden Hauke comes looking for a discreet partner, Vanessa’s concerned about his motives. Touching his training-toned body during a scene wouldn’t exactly be a hardship, but taking him on crosses barriers between work and play that she’s had in place for years.

From their first intense encounter in Mistress V’s playroom, Hauke knows he can’t let this chance slip away; he’s found the woman he’s always needed. Submissive or not, he’s willing to push her every limit to prove how good they can be together.

 

Buy the Book

Bonds of Courage (Wicked Play, #6)

 

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Review

4 stars

Holden has a need to be dominated–one that he has denied for too long. Although he accepts his need he doesn’t want to shout it’s still not something he can openly pursue because of his career. That’s how he finds himself at The Den being interviewed by Mistress V.

Vanessa keeps a tight control on her life. She separates her Domme persona from her business one and not once has she let them collide. But there’s something about Holden that pushes all her buttons and tests all the boundaries she has set for herself.

Once again, Lynda Aicher brings to the page a lust-filled, emotional tale of trust and acceptance.

I loved the characters, especially Holden. His submission was a beautiful thing to see and when paired with Vanessa’s conflicted emotions it made their story a fantastic read.

I enjoyed Holden’s acceptance of his needs and his easy and laid back personality. He was intense when it came to his desires but yet so understanding, open and caring when it came to Vanessa that I couldn’t help but cheer him on in his pursuit of something more with her.

As for Vanessa, I have to say that I admired her strength of character. Her past and conflicted emotions were the one thing that kept me interested in the outcome of her story. I admit though, that there were times when I wanted to shake some sense into her, but eventually she came to realize that Holden was not only the perfect sub for her but the man she needed at her side.

Of course, their chemistry was off-the-charts hot. I enjoyed their scenes and the intensity in which they came together. And when emotions came into play? Ufff! Amazing!

Although Bonds of Courage is the sixth book in the Wicked Play series it can certainly be read as a stand alone. However, I recommend reading all the previous books since they all are a great addition to the series.

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

 

Series Review

 

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Bonds of Trust (Wicked Play, #1) — 3.5 stars

Cali has finally decided to explore the idea that she might be a submissive, so she becomes a member of the most exclusive sex club in town. Although scared of taking this step, she knows that it’s the only way she can ever be true to herself after years of being what everybody expected her to be. What she wasn’t expecting was to have one of the owners take an interest in her. Not only does Jake bring her submissive side to the surface, he also wakes up feelings she had thought long forgotten – love and longing.

I loved the premise of this story very much, it’s not often that we get an “older” woman as a main character, much less having her try something new at this stage in her life. That was what I liked best of Cali. She felt real, with insecurities and needs that had been unfilled for a long time, but strong enough to go after what she wanted. Then to pair her up with Jake, a self-proclaimed wanderer who’d never stayed long enough in one place, and you know that what you’re going to get is one intense story.

Bonds of Trust is a great start to a series with the introduction of the club setting and the additional characters that appeared in the story.

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Bonds of Need (Wicked Play, #2) — 4 stars

Kendra is running from her past and her needs. A natural submissive who needs pain to gain her pleasure. She doesn’t want to need the pain and feels shame that she does, but her desire to fulfill those needs are greater than her will to not engage in the lifestyle, so she heads out to The Den once and for all. Once there she is fully determined in her mission. With her set of rules to keep her safe she finally approaches a Dom.

In a set of events that are packed-full of emotions, she finds herself not with the Dom she approached but with Deklan. A quiet man that exudes confidence and sexiness just by the way he stands, Deklan is a partner in The Den. A Dom who’s focus is on training submissives, he sees something in Kendra that he can’t help but want to explore. So with their set of rules all laid out they venture forward to help Kendra accept her needs without shame or fear.

And what a journey that was!!!

This time around the author delivered in all fronts. The story not only had the sensuality I’ve come to expect, it also had the range in emotions, a little bit of angst with a little humor mixed in and the wonderful development of a romance. This was not insta-love. This was a relationship based on trust earned and acceptance of needs. They talked, they laughed and they shared intimate moments and what came out of it was a beautiful coupling.

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Bonds of Desire (Wicked Play, #3) — 2.75 stars

Allison is an independent, young lawyer who makes her own decisions and doesn’t see the appeal of letting herself submit to a man to gain her pleasure. Like she said, that’s what vibrators were for. However, she does feel drawn to Tyler and Seth both for different reasons. She admits that she’s attracted to Set, a partner in The Den and a practicing Dom. She just doesn’t think that they have anything in common except their mutual attraction. When she meets Tyler she feels not only an instant need to protect him, but sees something in him that pulls at her – his quiet dominating way.

I had great hopes for this threesome. I thought that the concept had a great chance of bringing to the page a whole range of emotions and depth in characterization, instead I was left feeling flat. The connection between the three was thin at best and not developed thoroughly within the story. There was a lack of dialogue, but a lot of inner pondering that in reality didn’t help in me relating to any of the characters. Just when I thought I had a beat on who that character was, the story veered in another direction. It felt like I had to wade through a lot of ramblings just to get a sense of who each character was.

I believe that it is because of this that I couldn’t buy Allison’s sudden change of heart and acceptance of their relationship. Don’t get me wrong, they had chemistry to boot. The sex scenes were good, even if I felt they were cut short sometimes. It was hot seeing them together, but it would have been even better if their connection were stronger. It was just that connection, that time of truly getting to know each other that was missing. Maybe with a few more pages of dialogue and a lot less pages of pondering and wondering and more time spent together, this relationship would have been more believable to me.

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Bonds of Hope (Wicked Play, #4) — 4 stars

Quinn arrives at The Den to get some training for a movie role. She is tired of what her life has become and wants a chance to make a change. The Den is both shocking and exciting and she wants to learn more.

Marcus is not keen on ‘babysitting’ a movie star, especially now that he is a partner in the club. He has his hands full with his clients and has not time to waste. So when Quinn requests to experience the lifestyle, he goes full out. What he wasn’t expecting was how this experience will affect them both.

Once again, Lynda Aicher managed to deliver a sensual yet emotionally driven story. Neither Quinn nor Marcus are in search of love, but when they start their training and their emotions come into play, both of them must deal with the reality that is their life.

She’s an actress, he’s a Dom. She’s not strong enough to speak of her feelings and too inexperienced in the lifestyle to compromise on his career. He’s too stubborn to let go though and when tragedy strikes, he’s there ready to change his life in order to have her.

I liked that the author developed their connection over time and that their relationship wasn’t immediately a physical one. They had their scenes, but mostly they talked and shared and when the time came for them to ‘train’ it was packed full of sexual tension and excitement. I enjoyed it thoroughly.

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Bonds of Denial (Wicked Play, #5) — 5 stars

Rock has been fighting his sexuality since he was fourteen years old. This was made essential when he lived under his father’s thumb and then when he went in the service. Forced to deny himself the pleasure of another man’s company, he has lived his life lacking any emotional involvement other than those of friendship. But his need to give into his desires strengthened ever since he first laid eyes on Carter at The Den.

Carter is an escort and although it has worked out for him for a decade he can’t wait to get out. However, his fear of failure has him questioning his decision to renew his contract. He’s glad that at least his ‘work’ has become routine, especially now that he has a few regular who make it easy on him to continue with this trade. That is until one appointment with an unknown ‘john’. Although rattled by the man who paid for his services, he is a professional and will do what it takes to bring pleasure to the conflicted man he encounters.

Little do these men know that their meeting will lead to a journey where the strongest of the two will crumble and the one that was in a tattered state would be the one to save them both.

I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED this story!

Lynda Archer brought together all the elements I have come to expect from the M/M genre to make this an intense romantic read. She took a difficult subject and brought all the emotions and consequences it entailed and blended it together with need, lust and longing to bring forth a story of acceptance and new beginnings. I loved it and enjoyed from start to finish. The dark, the light and everything in between.

Full Review

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About the Author

Lynda Aicher has always loved to read. It’s a simple fact that has been true since she discovered the words of Judy Blume at the age of ten. After years of weekly travel as a consultant implementing computer software into global companies, she ended her nomadic lifestyle to raise her two children. Now, her imagination is her only limitation on where she can go and her writing lets her escape from the daily duties of being a mom, wife, chauffeur, scheduler, cook, teacher, volunteer, cleaner and mediator. If writing wasn’t a priority, it wouldn’t get done.

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