Tag Archives: contemporary

Babycakes (Cupcake Club #3) by Donna Kauffman

Babycakes (Cupcake Club, #3) Published:October 30th, 2012

Publisher: Kensington Books

Available at: Kensington Publishing Corp  Amazon  Barnes & Noble  Books-a-Million

Synopsis: Molten Chocolate…Cinnamon Spice…Gingerbread…Old-Fashioned Vanilla…You can’t stop at just one.

And the women of the Cupcake Club love to indulge…

Kit Bellamy was raised on pie. Mamie Sue’s Peanut Pies, to be exact, the family company her scheming brother-in-law sold out from under her. Now Kit needs a new recipe for her life—and sleepy Sugarberry Island is the first ingredient. Running mail-order cupcake business Babycakes is a chance to get her baking on again—until she meets tall, dark, and adorable lawyer Morgan Westlake. New to the island to raise his goddaughter, he’s as mouthwatering as any of Kit’s creations. It’s just her luck that he’s the spawn of the very law firm that helped crush her dreams…

Fortunately, Kit’s new friends can assure her that Morgan is no typical Westlake—and that even lawyers, not to mention single dads, need romance. If Kit can just be persuaded to follow her appetite—and set another place at her holiday table—her sweetest dreams just might come true…

Rating: 4 stars

Review: I picked this book because after reading the blurb I thought this would be a great, light read and it was. However, I failed to notice that it was the third book of a series. I figured it out while I was reading the book because the author kept giving a lot of back story into the two previous couples. You really don’t need to read the two previous books in order to read this one, but the characters involved in those books are very interesting and I’m sure I would have liked reading their stories. You see, I have a mild case of OCD regarding series and their order, so I am a little bit disappointed but not enough for it to affect my overall rating. I just wanted to let you know in case you are a series freak like me. 😉

The story started slow. Very slow. It took me a couple of days just to get past the first chapter. I’m sure the author, Donna Kauffman, was just trying to let the reader know about the past events in Kit’s life and how she got to be in the situation she was currently in, but to me it felt a bit much. And the same can be said about Morgan’s first narration piece. It was overwhelming for me to keep up. The only difference was that in Morgan’s case I was already invested in the story, so it was easier to bear.

That said, the interaction between these two was great to read. They were amazing characters. Kit was your typical apprehensive young woman who wanted to make something of herself first before getting into a relationship. And Morgan was a funny, caring uncle who suddenly found himself as a single dad to his niece and instantly charmed by Kit. Their connection felt real and believable, which helped the story a lot. There were doubts and hesitation as well as moments of complete abandon between them. What I enjoyed the most was their dialog. It was very amusing, filled with a lot of banter and flirting. The secondary characters added to the story as well. I especially liked Franco and Lily, they were adorable.

The romance side of the story was very good too. When these two first kissed it was amazing. I could feel their passion and their hesitation. And when they finally came together it was everything I imagined it would be. The author really did time it perfectly and wrote it beautifully.

“I want to revel in you.”

Again, it felt very real – there was humor, passion, lust and hesitation. Making their first time together very believable. And after that? Uff, just excellent. There was this one scene…Well you will just have to read about it for yourself. I’ll just say that it was hot and funny and totally unexpected.

This is the first book I read by Donna Kauffman and I think it will not be the last if her others are anything like this one. Light, funny and filled with great characters and amazing romance.

I would like to thank NetGalley and Kensington Books for giving me the opportunity to read and review this title in exchange for an honest review.

Stars & Stripes (Cut & Run #6) by Abigail Roux

Stars & Stripes (Cut & Run, #6)

Synopsis: Special Agents Ty Grady and Zane Garrett have managed the impossible: a few months of peace and quiet. After nearly a year of personal and professional turmoil, they’re living together conflict-free, work is going smoothly, and they’re both happy, healthy, and home every night before dark. But anyone who knows them knows that can’t possibly last.

When an emergency call from home upsets the balance of their carefully arranged world, Ty and Zane must juggle family drama with a perplexing crime to save a helpless victim before time runs out.

From the mountains of West Virginia to a remote Texas horse ranch harboring more than just livestock and childhood memories, Ty and Zane must face their fears—and their families—to overcome an unlikely enemy and bring peace back into their newly shared world.

Rating: 4.75 stars

Review: Well…what do I think? Now, that’s a loaded question. You see, Cut & Run was the third book I read when I started reading M/M Romance. I fell in love with Ty and Zane from the start. I loved everything about them. Their sarcastic remarks, humor and reactions. Their hot-out-of-control chemistry and their vulnerable sides. Zane with his personal struggles and Ty with his tough exterior and soft heart. Mostly, I enjoyed how they related to each other and accepted their connection.

As the series has developed, I have learned to love how they have changed. I loved to see how Ty discovers he loves Zane in Sticks & Stones. I even enjoyed Ty’s ‘submissive’ role in Fish & Chips. It came to the point that I wanted to smack some sense into Zane from time to time. I couldn’t believe he could be so oblivious. Of course, that changed with Divide & Conquer, which showed a whole different side of Zane. One I came to love too. Now here’s where it got so damn confusing and frustrating for me.

In Armed & Dangerous, everything felt screwed up for me. I just couldn’t SEE them anymore. Yes, they had evolved as a couple, came together and accepted their mutual love for each other. But did their personalities have to disappear in order for them to do that? That’s how I felt throughout the book. I chalked it up to the fact that the writing was not a joint effort and that it would be okay in other installments, since I still got glimpses here and there of what I loved about them.

But now, during and after reading this latest installment, I have to accept that IT has changed and maybe, just maybe, my hardcore, bad-ass, sarcastic couple has become a tamed version of themselves. MY Ty and Zane are gone.

Now you’re asking yourself why I gave the book a 4.75 star rating if I feel this way. Well, I am a romantic at heart and it thrilled me that they are so open with each other and wear their hearts on their sleeves, and now after seeing them being so affectionate in public and experiencing their astonishment that they could be that way and have people accept them, that just put a great, big, goofy smile on my face.

So, to bring it all around. I’ll just say that I’m looking forward to the next one and that they are still one of my favorite couples. Maybe they have changed and maybe they are bit mushy, but as long as they keep that hot chemistry between them, their sarcasm and humor and keep on kicking ass, I will still love them.

Of course, I can’t forget to mention that the writing was superb and the pace was excellent. So much so, that it kept me reading all through the night. I wanted to know what the hell was happening THAT much! The characters, well, I love them so I enjoyed them thoroughly.

You can purchase this book at Riptide, Amazon or your favorite book retailer.

Listening To Dust by Brandon Shire

Listening to DustSynopsis: Murder touched Stephen Dobbins when he was a young boy and left him living in a void of aching loneliness. A chance meeting with a young American chased away the fear that he would always be alone and brought him the prospect of a new existence.

Dustin Earl joined the military and escaped his small town Southern upbringing with the hope that he could give his mentally challenged brother a better life. But Dustin had never known real love, an honest hug, or a simple kiss. He considered his sexuality a weakness; a threat that had been used against those he cared about.

For eight months their relationship blossomed until Dustin suddenly returned home. He cherished Stephen, but felt his responsibilities to his brother outweighed his own chance at happiness.

Shattered, unable to function and unwilling to accept Dustin’s departure, Stephen flew three thousand miles to get Dustin back and rekindle what they had. But what he would learn when he got there… he could never have imagined

Rating: 5+ stars

My thoughts: You caught that, did you? Yes, a 5+ stars rating along with my thoughts on the book. Why? Because I can’t bring myself to review this book and do it justice.

I went into this book merely by the recommendation given to me by Lisa, a fellow M/M reader, and the fact that Brandon Shire wrote it. I did not read any reviews nor did I read the blurb. Did it make any difference in my reading experience? Yes, I believe it did. I only knew that it was a different read from what I am used to and that the writing would be spectacular. Oh, and that I needed tissues!

You see, back in August I decided to challenge myself and step out my comfort zone. Which meant that I would explore different genres, hopefully with a romantic undertone to them, but especially something that would be a different read for me. I chose to do this by taking recommendations, choosing books with a more serious storyline and trying out new authors.

I first discovered Brandon Shire’s work when I read Afflicted, where I immediately discovered his talent for weaving emotionally packed stories and creating complex yet very real characters.  So I was looking forward to reading this and took the plunge into unchartered territory. And I am glad to say that it did not disappoint.

“Love steals everything from you, Mémé, and leaves you with nothing”

With just these words, found in Chapter 2, I knew I was in it for the long haul. So much was said in that statement that my heart went out to Stephen right there and then.

And so began my journey into the lives of Stephen and Dustin. What came next was an overwhelming story of love and loss, filled with regret, guilt and heartache. Their love, like a storm, tore through me leaving me painfully sad and angry. Yes, angry. Not at the author or his book. But at the people who continue to abuse, judge and discriminate against others. I was so overwhelmed by my own emotions that I had to step away and gather my bearings.

When I returned to the book it did not take but a couple of pages for my emotions to come to the surface. But this time, I did not want to step away.

“He absorbed every grace Stephen laid upon his body; shivered and moved with Stephen as if they had been lovers for decades instead of mere minutes. He was still drunk, but his passion burned; burned like a white hot sun that sucked Stephen into a realm of ardor which he did not know existed.”

That passage right there is just one of the many that represent why I enjoy Brandon Shire’s writing. He manages to bring such emotion to the page. I could feel Dustin’s apprehension, his fear. I felt Stephen’s passion, his understanding of Dustin in that moment. I felt their loneliness and their longing for something lasting, something real. I felt for them and longed with them. Who doesn’t want to love and be loved? To be accepted for who they are – with their warts and all?

Stephen and Dustin’s story touched me deeply. But what I loved the most was the underlying message of love and acceptance, of forgiveness and of letting go. How all these things when thrown in together define what true love really is. And I am a believer of true love. Of love and loss and that sometimes love is just not enough. What I take from this story is that I need to live in the moment, that I have to accept myself and respect others because life is unpredictable and all you have is the here and now and how you choose to live it.

“Finally, I know that when the air has settled and all the past particles of anger and shame have disappeared, we will still have that one moment. It will still bring us together.”

So I urge you to buy* this book, read it and think it through. My only hope is that it has the same impact on you that it had on me.

*10% of the proceeds from the sale of any of Brandon Shire’s books are donated to organizations that help homeless LGBT Youth get off the street. Click here for more information.

The Flesh Cartel #1: Capture (The Flesh Cartel #1) by Heidi Belleau and Rachel Haimowitz

The Flesh Cartel #1: CaptureSynopsis: In this first installment of the exciting new psychosexual thriller, The Flesh Cartel, orphaned brothers Mat and Dougie Carmichael are stolen in the night from their own home. Taken to a horrifying processing facility, they are assessed, microchipped, and subjected to unspeakable brutality—all in preparation for sale to the highest bidder.

In a world where every person has a price, the beautiful and subduable PhD student Dougie is highly prized. His brother, a rough-edged MMA fighter, is less desirable—and potentially too dangerous—but he still has his own appeal.

Abused and locked up under round the clock surveillance, with no idea where they are or even why they’ve been taken, escape seems impossible, which leaves staying together their only hope. And after being separated once by the foster system, they’ll do anything to keep it from happening again. Anything at all.

Publisher’s note: This title contains material some may find objectionable or trigger-inducing, including explicit violence, non-consent, and forced incest.

Rating: 5 stars

Review: First, I have to say that I laughed when I went to write my review and Goodreads prompted me with “What did you think?” Such an innocent, simple question. But I could not simply answer. Believe me you do not want to know what I first thought. I don’t think you would appreciate all my Spanish cussing and jumbled thoughts. So I stepped away for a bit,  grabbed a Diet Coke and sat listening to the coquis outside on my porch, did some research into serial fiction and this is what I came away thinking.

First, I want you to understand that The Flesh Cartel is a serial story. Think of it as a TV show and Capture is the first episode of the series. This is explained before you read the novella. I appreciated the explanation since it gave me a glimpse of what to expect in starting a serial story.

Having said all that, I will say that this Flesh Cartel episode was simply AWESOME!

Through the first couple of pages I was intrigued. What is this world I’ve been plunged into? After 3 pages I was nervously tapping my fingers on the sofa. Tap, tap, tap.

On I went to the first chapter. I got to know Mat while he was doing his thing and really liked his voice. He came across as a no-nonsense kind of guy, straight forward and always looking out for his brother. I liked him instantly. Tough, assertive – my kind of guy. Later on I met Dougie. A 23-year old PhD student and Mat’s younger brother. Through his point of view I saw a bright, young man. I found him adorable and I could not wait to get to know him. Tap, tap, tap.

“OMG!!! What the hell is happening!?”

And so the storyline begins. This was an emotional roller coaster that dragged me through every single emotion imaginable and some I had yet to tap into while reading. Forget the tapping of my fingers! I was biting my nails, bouncing my foot and gripping the tablet as if it were going to fly out the door at any moment.

Mind you this is only Chapter 1 at the 25% mark of the story. Like any good show, this episode wrapped around me so tight that I was tapping the hell out of my tablet just so that I could get more.  I wanted more.  I needed more.  Bite, bite, bite. Tap, tap, tap.

So off I went to chapter 2 with my heart trying to beat out of my chest. I didn’t know what to expect, but the 7-page break from the intense roller coaster was appreciated. You know, like after the drop in the coaster, but before the triple loop? Yeah, it was like that. Still excited, looking forward for more, but scared of what I might find. The emotions expressed here were great. I got to see how devoted these brothers were to each other and how strong their will was.  And just when I was starting to relax, I realize that I totally miscounted the loops. Tap, tap, tap.

And here I was in Chapter 3, hanging onto every word, crying my eyes out and cursing like a sailor. I was disgusted, afraid, angry, sad.  Every time I was hanging upside down in that loop I reminded myself that this was fiction and that even though I was a mess I was still loving it! It was incredible how I could feel so connected to these guys. And so I started Chapter 4 a bit more relaxed, accepting that maybe there were going to be more loops and that I was ready for it. But then…

WHY? WHY? WHY?”

I was completely unprepared for this coaster to start going backwards through the loops and forwards again, adding a bit more speed in every turn.  My heart was breaking, my anger escalating and I was seriously ready to kill someone! The doctor, the ‘Madame’. I was feeling a bit maniacal and I.DID.NOT.CARE.  I just wanted to throttle one of THEM!!! I needed to do something, I felt so helpless. Reading, crying, angry, exhausted, and excited.

Yes, you read correctly. I was excited. I wanted to keep on reading, I am so connected to these characters, it’s freaking ridiculous!!! Needless to say that the writing was exceptional, the pace was perfect, the characters were wonderful and the emotions overwhelming. I am looking forward to reading Episode 2 very much. I will be ordering my subscription as if this were an HBO show. It was THAT good.

I received this novella through NetGalley and Riptide Publishing in exchange for an honest review and I would like to thank them for giving me the opportunity to read and review this Episode and helping me step out of my comfort zone. This title was published October 1st, 2012 and is available at Riptide and other book retailers.

Men of Smithfield: Seth and David (Men of Smithfield #2) by L.B. Gregg

Men of Smithfield: Seth and David

Expected Publishing Date: October 15, 2012

Publisher: Carina Press

Available at: Carina Press Store, Amazon, Barnes and Noble

Synopsis: He’s everything I’ve never wanted — too young, too weird, too wild.

I wasn’t impressed that I had to get my weekly massage from a guy with a toe ring. But when I discovered David Cooke’s skills as a masseur were literally orgasmic, I couldn’t stop thinking about him and his amazing hands, day and night. Especially at night.

He’s full of surprises. And despite my bad behavior, David’s just as eager to explore this chemistry between us. Turns out, there’s a lot more to him than hemp pants and tattoos. If he’s so wrong for me, why does being with him feel so right?

My Reading Progress:

100.0% “Review to come. Sorting out my thoughts about Seth.”
76.0% “And here’s Quinn again. Get a clue already!”
49.0% “So far, so good. My urge to smack Seth has receded.”

Rating: 3 stars

Review: Seth, Seth, Seth. Herein lies ONE of my problems and thus explains my deduction in stars. I was really considering a 2.5 stars, but the Epilogue was unexpected and very much appreciated. So 3 stars it is. 

I really liked the concept behind this book. Two very different men fall for each other, their chemistry is off the charts hot and each has an event that has impacted their lives. However, what this story lacked was the emotional connection between the main characters. That to me is a very essential element in the story.

Seth came across as an arrogant, self serving, opinionated man. He has custody of his niece after his sister’s death and has been dealing with his feelings about this and the loss of his relationship with his lover Quinn. I understood were he was coming from and even felt for him and his struggles, but I just could not get over his assumptions about David. I think that is why it was so hard for me to really connect with him. David was sweet, funny and adorable. I truly liked him. However, I felt there was so much more to him than what was written on the page. I would have loved to know more about the main characters, since they were so different. It really would have helped in making this union a more believable one.

The story lacked a lot of dialog, which is one of my favorite elements. It consisted mostly of Seth’s thoughts and opinions, which really some of them I could have done without. There were some show of emotions from Seth and David and that at least gave me a glimpse into their personality and vulnerability and helped me connect a bit more with them. Molly, Seth’s niece, was a great addition, as well as her friend Katie. I would have enjoyed reading more about these characters and how they interacted as a family after Seth and David got together.

Overall, the book was good. I liked the concept and enjoyed the chemistry between the characters and the interaction between them. What really saved it from an ‘OK’ book for me was the scene at the start, their first (or second, depending how you look at it) encounter and the Epilogue. I loved those!

I am happy to say that I’m looking forward to reading more books from this series and any other books from L.B. Gregg.

I would like to thank NetGalley and Carina Press for the opportunity of reading and reviewing this title in exchange for my honest review.

Men of Smithfield: Mark and Tony (Men of Smithfield #1) by L.B. Gregg

Men of Smithfield: Mark and Tony (Men of Smithfield, #1)Synopsis: Coming home from work to find my boyfriend banging our hairy, married landlord — in our bed — was bad enough. Discovering Jamie had also cleaned out my bank accounts made it officially the worst day of my life. I think I can be forgiven for wanting revenge, even if a few little laws (and possibly Jamie’s nose) got bent in the process.

Fortunately, the law is on my side in the form of my oldest friend, Tony Gervase. I’ve tried to deny my attraction to the sexy trooper for years. After all, he made it clear long ago that he wasn’t interested in me that way. But if the hot encounter in his kitchen is any indication, he is now. At least the day is ending a whole lot better than it began…

But the morning after, the Jamie situation goes from bad to seriously messed up. The jerk’s in more trouble than I could have imagined. And as it turns out, I don’t know Tony as well as I thought I did either…

Rating: 4 stars

Review: How can you NOT read this book after reading the blurb?  That scene right there was laugh-out-loud hilarious.

Mark. Markie. Meehan.”Oh Mark!” that is what I kept saying throughout the book. He was just so, I don’t know – all over the place. He did things that were just this side of ridiculous, but funny as hell. He was foolish and impulsive. Sarcastic, funny and impulsive. So lovable and sexy and impulsive. Did I say impulsive? Well, he was. But through all that impulsiveness I could see a very funny, sarcastic, adorable, sexy and very loving man with a heart of gold who just wanted to love and be loved.

Tony was awesome. His take-charge attitude really did it for me because it was definitely what Mark needed. He cared very much for Mark and it showed with every one of his actions. And when these two got together? Damn that was hot. Their chemistry was off the charts. But I admit that my favorite scene is right at the end. That scene was them. Hot, messy, filled with emotions and very honest.

This is the first book I read from L.G. Gregg. I liked her writing very much. There was humor, emotions, great dialog and great characters presented in a very straight forward way that kept me interested in the story until the very end. Literally. I turned the page and it was over, which explains my 4 star rating.

I will be reading more books from this author since I have a couple of her books in my yearly challenge. I hope the next book in the series is as good as this one.

*Book was previously published as Gobsmacked on August 2009.

Lana’s Lawman: A Loveswept Classic Romance by Karen Leabo

http://img2.imagesbn.com/images/174260000/174266236.JPGSynopsis: In a tender story of fateful encounters and second chances, Karen Leabo maps the territory of true yearning and its power to heal old sorrows.

Though it’s been years since Sloan Bennett has seen Lana Gaston, time melts instantly when he comes to her rescue during a Texas thunderstorm. Lana was everything a teenage bad boy couldn’t have . . . but she felt like his for three magical weeks. Then she broke his heart—and Sloan walked away from Destiny, Texas. But now he’s back, wearing a badge, and wondering if fate has decided to give him another chance.

A struggling single mom, Lana can’t help looking back at all the wrong choices she made. With Sloan so close again, she’s filled with old regrets and deep new longing. Could the silly souvenir of a policeman’s badge, given to her by a fortune-teller, have more meaning than she ever dared to dream? Once, Lana didn’t have the courage to tell Sloan how much she cared. So she hurt him instead. But as his sensual lips dare to kiss away yesterday’s pain, she’ll risk her heart to let him know that this time, she’s his forever.

Includes a special message from the editor, as well as excerpts from these Loveswept titles: Blaze of Winter, Light My Fire, and Santerra’s Sin.

Rating: 3 stars

Review: I will be absolutely honest here and tell you that this was a very hard read for me. I liked the book and its not bad by any means. I just could not connect to Lana. I tried, I really, did but I just could not do it. As a struggling single mom myself, I could understand her stubbornness of making it on her own and not relying on a man for certain things. But Sloan came across like a very descent man from the start and her constant doubts about his intentions really grated on my nerves.

From the beginning I liked Sloan. He was a very open and caring man who only wanted the best for Lana and her son. Each time they came together I liked him a little more. Again, Lana not so much. I found her inner thoughts to be repetitive and annoying. She kept thinking the same thing over and over. I saw her as overly defensive towards Sloan and at times I just skimmed directly to dialog. Through the dialog I could better understand what she was rambling about. Her insecurities were more relatable to me and her reactions to Sloan were more realistic. However, in the end, I can honestly say that I could see her point in hesitating. I just don’t think that it should have been brought to the surface so much.

The writing was very good in the sense that each character was developed fully and the dialog was very interesting. I am glad that the author did not bring them together sexually right away, it would have been extremely unbelievable to me even if their chemistry was palpable from the start. I liked the storyline brought into the story, it really made for the growth of the characters and gave great insight into them.

All in all, a good read. I just like to connect to my main characters, so it bothered me that I could not do that with Lana.

I would like to thank NetGalley and Random House for the opportunity to review this book. This title is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other book retailers.

Hard Fall (Deputy Joe #1) by James Buchanan

Hard FallBlurb: Deputy Joe Peterson is Mormon and in the closet. Then ex-con Kabe Varghese lands in town on parole. When a tourist falls off the mountain, Joe finds he needs the help of this cliff climbing adrenaline junky to solve the case. Will Kabe tear him apart or does Joe need to fall hard before he can start living?

Rating: 5 stars

Review: Joe, Joe, Joe…this was one of those books that grabbed me right from the start. I loved, loved, loved Joe. His voice drew me in instantly. His humor, his tough side and especially his vulnerable side. Kabe was awesome too and when they got together…I couldn’t get enough. The dialog was superb, the additional characters complimented the story perfectly and the sex scenes…uff! And what amazed me more, was the way the author managed both to entertain me and educate me about some aspects of Mormonism. The way he presented Joe’s struggles with his acceptance of himself, his desires and his religion and how he weaved it into an amazing story of self-acceptance, blew me away.