Tag Archives: Manic Readers

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Review

5-stars

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

About the Author

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

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

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

Cafe Risqué ~ Shared Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Email

Other Books by Cardeno

~ Mates Series

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

 

Wake Me Up Inside

Until Forever Comes

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Review: Wood, Screws, & Nails by Piper Vaughn, Kade Boehme

 

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Wood, Screws, & Nails
by Piper Vaughn, Kade Boehme

An M/M Contemporary Romance
From Dreamspinner Press
Released on April 23rd 2014

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Aaron Costa’s summer was all planned. Despite having to remodel the family lake house, it would be a vacation of sorts, and he had every intention of enjoying it—until the friend who was supposed to help him got injured and left him in a lurch. He decides to take the opportunity to bond with his son and hires Julian and his roommate, Malachi, to assist.

As a broke college student, Malachi could use the money, and spending the summer with Aaron for eye candy sounds like a dream. “Look but don’t touch” becomes his motto. But when Julian starts flaking on his responsibilities and Malachi and Aaron are forced to spend long hours alone together, their mutual attraction is impossible to resist.

Aaron can’t fight the temptation sexy Malachi presents. But more than their age difference stands in their way, not the least of which is Aaron’s semi-closeted status and the fact that he’s never openly discussed his sexuality with his son. He has no idea how Julian will react when he learns his father is not only gay, he’s also dating his best friend.

 

Buy the Book

Wood, Screws, & Nails

 

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Review

4 stars

Aaron doesn’t live his life as a gay man. His priority is his business, his son and his family. He’s no saint but he doesn’t shout his sexuality to the world. In need of a helping hand he hires his son to help him out with the remodeling of the family vacation home. His son in turn, asks his best friend and roommate to join him.

Malachi comes from a humble family and has had to work hard for what he needs. He jumps at the chance to make some easy money for the summer and joins Julian in helping his Aaron out. He is conscious of the sexy older man, but even though Aaron is his type he vows to stay away for his sake as well as that of his friendship with Julian.

But fate always has the upper hand and soon he finds himself more than physical invested in Aaron.

It feels so great to read a story that although it deals with a complex subject matter, the authors manage to make it a light sensual read that leaves the reader wanting so much more from the characters.

I loved Malachi. I admired his integrity, his maturity and the way he let go of himself to explore his attraction to Aaron. Mostly I loved that his heart was in the right place and that he never lost his head.

Aaron was a great character too. You had to admired the great lengths he went to make his son a priority. It was great to see how frustrated he became when confronted with Malachi’s presence. He tried so very hard to fight the attraction he felt to Malachi. But maybe if that was all they shared, it could have been easier. But it wasn’t. Although his connection to Malachi progressed over the course of the story, it was always an ever present entity–taunting him, challenging him until he relented.

I have to hand it to the authors, their work was one packed full of the elements I have come to love from the genre. There was the deep connection that grew and strengthened with every interaction exchanged. The was the humor mixed in between and last but certainly not least were the emotions. From hesitation to acceptance all the way through joy and disappointment, the range in emotions was enough to bring forth the characters’ state of mind to the surface without dragging the story down.

As for chemistry, well that you just have to experience for yourself. That first encounter alone had so much tension that it made worth all the anticipation I experienced until it happened. Hot. Very, very HOT!

All in all, a great romantic read with the unlikeliest of pairings but so very enjoyable.

Review: Perfect Imperfections by Cardeno C.

perfect imperfections

Perfect Imperfections
by Cardeno C.

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

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

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

 

Buy the Book

perfect imperfections

Dreamspinner | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | ARe

 

Review

5-stars

*sigh*

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

What’s not to love?!

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

This one was no different.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

About the Author

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

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

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

Cafe Risqué ~ Shared Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Email

Other Books by Cardeno

~ Home Series

home series

He Completes Me

Home Again

Just What the Truth Is

Love at First Sight

The One Who Saves Me

Where He Ends & I Begin

Marriage – A Home Series Celebration

Walk With Me

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~ Family Series

family

Something in the Way He Needs

Strong Enough

More than Everything

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~ Mates Series

mates

Wake Me Up Inside

Until Forever Comes

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Review: Heart of Glass (A Second Chances Novella) by L.J. Harris

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Title: Heart of Glass

Author: L.J. Harris

Published: August 9th 2013

Publisher: Bottom Drawer Publications

Genre: M/M Contemporary Romance

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Synopsis

This story was originally included in the SECOND CHANCES Anthology released in August 2012 and has been individually released to celebrate BDP’s anniversary.

Days after arriving in Australia for a working holiday, Zack Doherty is blindsided by the connection he instantly feels to Heath Connors, but circumstances don’t work in their favour. Zack is uncharacteristically forward in pushing Heath to accept a date when fate gives him a second opportunity.

Heath has only recently had the courage to admit his true self, walking away from his marriage and a good job when he could no longer lie to himself. The attraction he feels for a stranger that fleetingly crossed his path confirms he made the right choice.

Will Zack be the one to mend Heath’s heart of glass?

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Review

4 stars

Heath is in a hard place in life after leaving behind everything he had worked hard to achieve to start his life anew. In a chance meeting with Zach, Heath finds the reassurance that he made the right decision when he decided to embrace his sexuality. But with it comes doubts and hesitations about getting hurt and not being enough for the man he is so attracted to.

I loved this story! Both Heath and Zach were lovable characters I could easily see together. Their view in life was different but their attraction was overwhelming and couldn’t be denied. From the moment they met their connection jumped off the page and it was a treat to see how the author brought it all around to give these two something new to look forward to.

I enjoyed their chemistry, their interactions and their honesty. Each had some demons to deal with but neither denied the connection that had brought them together. They embraced it, dealt with issues they were concerned with and came together at last.

All in all, a sweet romantic story with all the elements I have come to expect in the genre – great characters, amazing chemistry and range in emotion.

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

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

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Title: More Than Everything (Family #3)

Author: Cardeno C.

Published: November 4th 2013

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Genre: M/M Contemporary Romance

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Synopsis

A Book in the Family Series

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

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

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

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Buy the Book

DSP | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | ARe

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Review

5-stars

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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In or Out? by Sara York

Rating: 3.75 stars

Synopsis: Shane and Nick had their fun on the island, but now it’s back to real life where Mark is making Shane’s life hell. When Shane moves in with his sexy new boss, Brian, Nick can’t help but be jealous. And he has plenty of reasons to wonder what’s happening with Shane and Brian.

Guilt twists Brian in knots, leaving him feeling empty and unsatisfied with life. He knew about Mark’s secrets and even shared in them. Now he has the opportunity to make it up to Shane, but will he stop at being a friend or will he try to split Nick and Shane up before they have an opportunity to be lovers? Brian wants what he’s never had before—true love. But who exactly will he find love with?

Review: When I saw that this story was about the Shane and Nick, I couldn’t help get to it right away. After reading Friends or Lovers? I was intrigued by what would happen next in their lives and I wanted to see what their journey was going to be all about.

Now that Shane has returned from his ‘honeymoon’ he is clear on what he has to do – move out and move on. Easier said than done. When Shane tries to move out he is intercepted by Mark. His lover for the past 5 years, Mark is clearly not the person Shane thought he was. Now that he sees him in another light, he wants nothing to do with him but he knows that Mark will make his life hell simply because he can.

Trying to move forward without having to resort to lean on Nick, Shane looks for a new job and a new place to live. In comes Brian. A handsome, business owner, Brian is an acquaintance of Mark’s and is familiar with who Shane is. Propelled by a sense of duty to right some wrongs from his past, Brian is determined to help Shane out. Although attracted to Shane, he tries to keep his distance since Shane is obviously interested in Nick and also because he truly wants to be Shane’s friend.

Nick had not spoken to Shane since his return and now that he has, he is not happy with Shane’s living arrangement. He wants nothing more than to make Shane his, but also knows that if he pushes to hard he is bound to lose Shane. He understands Shane’s hesitations and need for more time, however, it doesn’t mean that he will let him go.

Sara York did a great job in bringing Shane and Nick’s continuing story to the page. I enjoyed their easy camaraderie and honest interactions. This time around their connection shined through and made they coming together much more feasible to me.

Shane continued to battle his feelings for Nick and his insecurities about what was developing between them. Meanwhile, Nick continued to provide his support and showed his love every moment he could. I was glad to see that they had grown as the story progressed. Shane became more sure of himself, while Nick seemed happier and more comfortable sharing his feelings. I loved their humor, their chemistry and their journey from friends to lovers.

The addition of Brian as a secondary characters was well executed. He added the bit of angst necessary to make Shane’s decision to move forward more attainable. I enjoyed the time Shane and Brian spent together and how their relationship flourished into a friendship. Especially when it came time for Brian to prove his loyalty to Shane. However, I wished that his ‘story’ would have been told separately. I think his past was glossed over when it did play a major part in shaping him into the person he was. His new relationship with Jamie felt rushed to me and not at all genuine. I didn’t mind so much the ‘insta-love’ part of the relationship, but I didn’t like how it was all wrapped up so easily either. Yeah, I like my drama and I think that with their combined past it would have made for a wonderful read.

All in all, In or Out? was a wonderful follow-up story in Nick and Shane’s journey from friends to lovers with an added bonus in Brian and Jamie’s relationship. It had all the elements I’ve come to enjoy from the genre – interesting, complex and troubled characters, great range in emotions, chemistry abound and a touch of the sweet.

I received this title from the publisher through Manic Readers in exchange of my honest review.

Roughing It by Holden Wells

18392121Rating: 3 stars

Publisher: Hela Press (September 3, 2013)

Synopsis: Scott Thompson, rock star, has spent years burying the pain of a tragedy in his past by indulging in reckless, often injury-inducing adventures during the band’s downtime. His latest brings him deep into the backwoods, where he’s taken captive by a group of hired rednecks for 48 hours of physical, sexual and psychological torture. He expects the pain and degradation going into to–but he doesn’t expect the instant attraction he feels for the leader of the group, a dark-eyed enigma of a man named Johnny Lee.

Review: Scott wants something more. As a rock star he is used to being given anything he wants, but he wants something different this time around. So he goes and hires a company that specializes in fantasy ‘rides’, where anything short of death is allowed. The customer picks his fantasy and goes along for the ride.

Scott picks the ‘Deliverance’ ride, which takes him to the back country. Once there he is immediately cornered by three violent men after stepping of his raft. He can’t help but think that he’s over his head on this ‘ride’ and tries to escape. He is beaten and treated like an animal, but this is what he wanted and is determined to see it through.

I’ve read my share of rough, violent reads, but I failed to read the blurb before starting this one. Somehow I had forgotten what is was all about and was I in for a surprise.

However, Holden Wells did a great job of keeping me riveted in the story. Once I started, I needed to know how it all played out. The hardest scenes, although gruesome and violent, gave me a moment to see what drove Scott to such measures. I understood his need to NOT be in control of the situation since he had so much riding on his life as a celebrity.

The writing was good, although I would’ve appreciated more interactions between Scott and Johnny Lee. Especially with how the story unfurled in the end. It would have given more of a glimpse into this connection that had developed within them.

Other than that, I felt like Roughing It was a worthwhile read with interesting characters and an unusual storyline. I can’t wait to read the next book in the series and see Scott and Johnny Lee at ‘play’ again.

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

Rumpling Riley (Zero, Ohio #1) by Virginia Nelson

18376148Rating: 3 stars

Publisher: Decadent Publishing (August 22, 2013)

Synopsis: Riley Gold likes things neat. He appreciates order, organization. Sure, he wants to find love but he sticks to the kitchen, loving his life as a chef, where he can carefully measure, time, and control every situation.

Basil Culver grew up alone. An orphan, he got bounced from home to home and learned at a young age to keep people at a distance. Attachment meant eventual agony—when the person unfailingly abandoned him. Better to live every moment, allow for the chaos of the universe, and keep rolling.

When these opposites clash, sparks fly. Can Basil manage to rumple Riley’s carefully tucked sheets?

Review: Riley is tired of his OCD taking over his life, but he doesn’t see any other way to deal with it, until he finds motivation in the form of Basil.

Basil avoids forming attachment with his hook-ups to the point that every encounter has left him empty and impotent. He knows he wants to find something more but doesn’t know how to go about it. But then he meets Riley and he wants so much to have a successful relationship with him that he decides to follow his therapist’s advice and take it slow.

I really enjoyed this story, but I can’t help but feel that it felt rushed. I would have appreciated a little more fact-to-face interaction and seeing the both Riley and Basil deal with their issues. I think it would have gone a long way in making this a more enjoyable read for me.

Virginia Nelson did a great job in bringing these character’s need for something more to the page, but it would have been great to see how their connection grew over time, instead of over a few pages.

I liked Basil and adored Riley. I think they made a great pair although their insta-love was a bit on the unbelievable side.

All in all, Rumpling Riley was a sweet, angst-free story about two men overcoming their issues and finding each other along the way.

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

Rating: 3 stars

Strong Enough (Family #2) by Cardeno C.

18283798Rating: 5 stars

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (August 30, 2013)

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

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

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

And so it begins.

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

Cardeno, cariño, you have done it again! 😉

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

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

“Say I can stay, cariño.”

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

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

“Uh-huh.”

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

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

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

By Design by Lisa Worrall

18298820Rating: 4 stars

Publisher: Silver Publishing (August 24, 2013)

Synopsis: Robbie Cooper gets more than he bargains for when Shane Donald walks into his shop, photograph in hand, asking Robbie to tattoo the likeness on his skin. There’s something about the photograph and the way Shane talks about him that ignites a spark deep inside Robbie, and he longs to know more. But will he like what he hears, and will he be able to control his instant attraction to his client?

Review: Rob owns his tattoo parlor, which means long hours drawing and designing. This in turn means less time at home with his partner. Missed dinners and broken engagements have been happening a lot more often lately. But what can Rob do? He has to work the business to make some business. Then in comes Shane, requesting a tattoo and enlightening Rob in the process.

Lisa Worrall did an amazing job of presenting the facts clearly so the reader could easily decide to be on Rob’s side or not. The characters were interesting and their dialog was both honest and revealing. I loved how palpable their connection was and how hot their chemistry got to be in that one encounter. These are characters that I would love to get to know more.

By Design was a short sexy read with an interesting twist, intriguing characters and sizzling chemistry.

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