Review: A Love Song for the Sad Man in the White Coat by Roe Horvat

Simon had always expected love to feel different than this. Whether it was his Catholic upbringing or the poetry he'd read - Simon had thought that true love would be uplifting, fulfilling, that it would give a meaning to his loitering, and add joy to his leisure. But not this kind of love. This love was a flesh-eating monster, sharp-clawed and evil-eyed, ravishing his mind with medieval cruelty.

Dr Simon Mráz is a respected specialist and lecturer at the Charles University in Prague. He is a serious man, responsible. His students call him The Cruel Doctor Frost not because he's unkind, but because of his unwavering, ice-cold composure. As a psychiatrist, he values sanity. And sanity can be found in work, restraint, and self-control.

Not many know of that one time in the past when The Cruel Doctor Frost lost his cool. His ill-advised, secret affair with a student left Simon deeply wounded. Since that day, every minute of Simon's life has been a struggle to remain sane, functioning. He's managed so far - as long as he is needed, as long as his work makes a difference, Simon can scrape together enough strength to get up in the morning and run off the nightmares. But when his friends begin drifting away, his beloved protégé becomes independent, and the man who bereaved Simon of his precious sanity might return... Simon's mind and body stop responding to his impressive willpower.



EEeEeeppp!!!

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It took DAYS for me to suck it up and read this. I was in this weird place of come on, it’s Roe Horvat and oh my, this is gonna hurt. I was weak and finally grabbed my blankey and prepared for the big dose of angst I knew was coming. I survived. Barely.

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In all seriousness, I have a thing for angst. I may get all whiney before and need fluff after but I just love when it hurts so good. Just like this one. A Love Song for the Sad Man in the White Coat was like having the wind knocked out of you and not catching your breath for a while. Whatevs, I’m all bring on the pain, angst, and the melancholy it was riddled with. Luckily, mingled in with all the heaviness is fire, passion, connection, and love.

Just a quick note before we dig in… we won’t be digging in too deeply. I liked the discovery in this book and having to really feel for Simon and Matěj as they navigate their pain so I won’t be giving too much away.

The book starts off in 2012 and goes back and forth to various times throughout a five year period that ends in 2017. Matěj is in his last semester of medical school in Prague. Right away, we get his snarky yet brilliant personality as he tries to get a reaction out of the unflappable Dr. Simon Mráz AKA The Cruel Doctor Frost. Matěj is a predator with sights locked on his prey and ready to pounce. Simon is a structured yet mercurial doctor that’s an expert at controlling the emotion he conveys to others. His self control and willpower is on point until he loses himself, his sanity and succumbs to the relentless hauntings of memories.

We get windows into Simon and Matěj’s dysfunctional lives and see the sweet relief for each man when they come together as secret lovers and friends. Matěj soothed Simon’s need for control, order and the habit of being locked in his head while Simon became Matěj’s safe haven. There was just so much want and need between them. They were on fire together and all the noise in their lives went away.

This books drags you through a myriad of emotions as a reader while *seeing* the utter passion, desolation, and then hope the characters go though. There's so much pain and melancholy that it becomes a tangible thing. I loved the secondary characters and the energy they brought to the story. My one niggle with this angsty AF read was the ending. Yeah, they figured shit out and get their HFN. Maybe it’s the tiny cynic in me but I needed a lengthier resolution where explanations were provided. I believed their connection, love, passion, etc., but was the heartbreak necessary? I think so but I’m not sure. *shrug*

I love professor/student romances. I was enthralled with the story, the feels, the desperation and helplessness. I’m glad I sucked it up even through I’m diving into fluff land for a bit. Definitely recommended.

Trigger warning- Suicide and abuse take place off page with minor character but the details of the suicide are described.


Review: Trick Roller (Seven of Spades #2) by Cordelia Kingsbridge

It’s the height of summer in Las Vegas. Everyone believes the serial killer Seven of Spades is dead—except Levi Abrams and Dominic Russo—and it’s back to business as usual. For Levi, that means investigating a suspicious overdose at the Mirage that looks like the work of a high-class call girl, while Dominic pursues a tough internship with a local private investigator. The one bright spot for both of them is their blossoming relationship.

But things aren’t so simple. Soon Levi is sucked into a dangerous web of secrets and lies, even as his obsession with the Seven of Spades intensifies. Dominic knows that Levi isn’t crazy. He knows the Seven of Spades is still out there, and he’ll do anything to prove it. But Dominic has his own demons to battle, and he may be fighting a losing war.

One thing is certain: the Seven of Spades holds all the cards. It won’t be long before they show their hand.




Vague and slightly squirrely review coming right up!

I'm an unabashed Star Wars fan. Every time they rereleased the original trilogy I bought it. I wouldn't even venture to guess how many times I've seen them. I love them all but I love The Empire Strikes Back just a liiiiiitttttlllleee bit more, though it took me YEARS to figure this out. With its great space adventures and Yoda, revelations and the relationship development between Han and Leia, how could it not be? Plus, it has the most epicest of epic movie lines of all time:


Bet you thought I was going to say:


Close but no, I am a sap and apparently have been for a long time. I've built my bridge and made peace with this.

Trick Roller has those same qualities. Like many romance readers I like to see relationships develop. I'm voyeuristic that way. Trick Roller gave those little bird's-eye view bubbles where we get a front row seat to the intimacy building between Dom and Levi. So many moments where I felt like I was on the journey with them and as a reader, that's where the magic is. Those tiny details that so often get overlooked in other narratives were showcased here.

Almost immediately there is a beautiful, perfect, quiet moment after Levi and Dom have spent the night together for the first time where Levi is getting ready to leave for work. He's admiring Dom who's still asleep-his square jaw, his broken nose, his size- and he can't help touching him. Dom kisses his fingertips before drifting back off. In that moment I knew right along with Levi that they're becoming something more. Another one happened after Dom's had a rough night and is on the razor's edge of backsliding and the only person he even considers reaching out to is Levi. Levi sticks with him through the next day and intuitively knows how to shake him out of his funk. That sparring scene was gold. Pure gold.

Couples who yin-yang well, who bring out the best in each other is one of my favorite things. Dom and Levi are opposites in many ways and the way that those differences compliment one another was a joy to read. There is an honesty in the way this relationship is developing that's very relatable in that they're both letting their dating guards down, letting the other truly see them which is the mark not only of growing trust but a healthy relationship.

Of course there's some finding religion inducing, crazy hot sex-dirty talk, biting, making excellent usage of their size difference in creative ways. Of course there is a level of desire between them that's unspeakable. This is CK we're talking about here and she deserves a medal or something for the second sex scene 🙌 but the intimacy that's building between them through those moments when they get lost in the other... yeah. That's what I live for when reading romance. By the end of Trick Roller they have become a 'we'. They are a unit, reliant upon the other, though they've not uttered the big L word yet and I'm certain there will be more obstacles for them to overcome, I feel that they are meant to be.

The thriller aspects were more subdued and less heart attack inducing since the Seven of Spades is supposedly dead, but there are subtle clues that will likely have greater meaning as the series progresses, so it's by no means a throwaway book. Even though it's early in the series I'm going to go out on a limb and say I believe this one has the potential to be my Empire Strikes Back complete with the OMG-no way can I live through the wait cliffhanger, but I'll get back to you.

Trick Roller is not a standalone; it is book 2 in a 5 part series and I wouldn't recommend trying to read them out of order.




An ARC was provided by NetGalley.


Giveaway + Blog Tour: Tribute Act (A Porthkennack Story) by Joanna Chambers


Joanna Chambers & Riptide Publishing are here today celebrating the release of Tribute Act, the latest Porthkennack story, with a great giveaway. Be sure to enter for your chance to win below!


Hello, book lovers! I’m Joanna Chambers and this is the blog tour for Tribute Act, my new romance which is book #8 in the Riptide's Cornwall-set Porthkennack series. I’ll be sharing thoughts on writing my first full length contemporary, writing Christmas songs as an extreme form of authorly procrastination and my love of men with sad eyes. Please join me for a chance to win a copy of the book and a $25 Riptide gift card! 


About Tribute Act
Nathan Bridges hadn’t intended to settle down in his hometown of Porthkennack—he just ended up staying after saving the family business from ruin. The truth is, Nathan can’t stop himself from stepping in when problems arise. He’s a fixer, the man everyone turns to. But even fixers can’t solve everything.

When Nathan’s sister needs an organ transplant, it’s his stepbrother, Mack, who the family turns to as Rosie’s only potential living donor. Nathan’s curiosity about the stepbrother he’s never met turns to shock when he realises that Mack is his latest—and hottest ever—one-night stand.

Nathan and Mack agree to forget their single night together, but that’s easier said than done. When Mack moves in to Nathan’s place to recuperate after surgery, it’s not just the sexual tension between them that keeps growing. Against all the odds, and despite Mack’s wariness of intimacy, the two men grow close enough that Nathan begins to wonder what it would take to mend the rift that’s kept Mack and his father estranged for over a decade . . . and whether Mack might consider staying with Nathan in Porthkennack for good.

Available now from Riptide Publishing!


About Porthkennack

Welcome to Porthkennack, a charming Cornish seaside town with a long and sometimes sinister history. Legend says King Arthur's Black Knight built the fort on the headland here, and it’s a certainty that the town was founded on the proceeds of smuggling, piracy on the high seas, and the deliberate wrecking of cargo ships on the rocky shore. Nowadays it draws in the tourists with sunshine and surfing, but locals know that the ghosts of its Gothic past are never far below the surface.

This collaborative story world is brought to you by five award-winning, best-selling British LGBTQ romance authors: Alex Beecroft, Joanna Chambers, Charlie Cochrane, Garrett Leigh, and JL Merrow. Follow Porthkennack and its inhabitants through the centuries and through the full rainbow spectrum with historical and contemporary stand-alone titles.

Check out Porthkennack! http://www.riptidepublishing.com/titles/universe/porthkennack


About Joanna Chambers

Joanna Chambers always wanted to write. In between studying, finding a proper grown up job, getting married and having kids, she spent many hours staring at blank sheets of paper and chewing pens. That changed when she rediscovered her love of romance and found her muse. Joanna's muse likes red wine, coffee and won't let Joanna clean the house or watch television.

Connect with Joanna:
  • Website: www.joannachambers.com
  • Facebook
  • Twitter: @ChambersJoanna
  • Goodreads





To celebrate the release of Tribute Act, one lucky winner will receive an ecopy of the book and a $25 Amazon gift card! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on January 20, 2018. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!

Review: Second Level by Drew Marvin Frayne

The path to true love is never easy, especially when you are on opposite sides of the world’s greatest theological debate.

It’s Halloween, and the Demon of Masturbation—Dom, for short—has come to Earth to collect sins and souls for his boss. But a representative from the Interfering Angel Network—Ian—has been sent to put a crimp in his plans. Frankly, though, the two seem less interested in sins and souls than in the three bottles of tequila they down during the night. Alcohol can lower the inhibitions, but it also impacts judgment, and Dom and Ian soon find themselves in the world’s most awkward threesome with a young mortal virgin. Forget battling for his soul—their real passion seems to be for each other.

But Halloween night is waning fast, and the veil between the worlds is only lifted for one night. How can two beings from opposite sides come together when they know they are destined to forever be apart?


The blurb for this one caught my eye right away, it sounded like a total kick and the author delivered and then some and then some more. The beginning was a perfect setup with the conference room full of the dark side paranormal beings covering their quotas for Halloween night. Right away I realized the author is a master of showing over telling, the dialog was great and I got a feel for Dom and his questioning nature immediately. He’s not wrong in his observations about sin and the modern world and anyone who has worked in a corporate environment could appreciate his frustration at middle management. The fact that Office Space type humor could translate to the underworld so well was gold.

Dom, as the Demon of Masturbation, knows that the vice he represents is nothing but a bunch of “meh” in contemporary times so his annoyance at having to meet his quota is totally legit. I loved being inside his head as he worked the bar to find “victims” that could fall prey to his charms. Every time he (or his subject) gets cockblocked by something random and it isn’t long before he realizes Ian is in the bar as well. Ian of the Interfering Angel Network is there to work counter to all of Dom’s machinations. The two began a theological debate over a plethora of tequila and discover they agree way more than they disagree about the antiquated philosophies of the otherworld.

If one didn’t know better one would think the two were on a date, they aren’t, but the flirty conversation fueled by alcohol and UST was a delight to read. The conversation the two MC’s had was the stuff that make a story go from good to great. I saw their connection grow as they felt it and the aforementioned UST was all over the place for all of us. The night grew late, and there was one patron left at the bar. He was not the most desirable of specimens on paper, in pictures, in anything really, but Ian being Ian, he recognizes a lonely soul and feels the need to help. Dom isn’t really on board, but their new friend wasn’t super keen on social cues and before they all knew it, they had agreed to what would become the most awkward threesome ever.

I couldn’t help but feel for Dom as they made it back to their virginal nerd-friends place and he set the scene for the most ungainly loving that was about to take place. The scene turned though and Dom and Ian were essentially alone and damn if they didn’t make the best of their time. This was obviously more than just a hook-up brought on by tequila and otherworldly testosterone. The obvious was never stated out loud, but it was pretty plain to everyone in the room and to me the reader.

The veil separating Ian and Dom from the human world will close by morning and the two will go their separate ways until next year, it’s just the way it works. Both of them know it, both are resigned to it, but they also can’t help but feel the bittersweetness in the moment. The next bit is where the story elevated for me from a fun Halloween diversion to a story that smacked me right in the face with feels and made me neeeeeeed more Dom and Ian. This can’t be over Drew Marvin Frayne. It. Can. Not. Ian had his conversation with Peter at the Pearly Gates that is pretty open and hopeful and Dom had his moment, his subtly heartbreaking moment that slayed my cold, cold heart.

Dammit Drew Marvin Frayne, you can not leave this story now. I mean, you could, and it would be still be great but it would also still really hurt. But why would you leave it when you could write more?? Just for me! Well, and everyone else too, blah blah blah, but mostly for meeeee. That would be great, because I would really like this story to continue in any form.

Sound good? Greatthanksbye!




**a copy of this story was provided for an honest review**

Review: The Bones of Our Fathers by Elin Gregory

Malcolm Bright, brand new museum curator in a small Welsh Border town, is a little lonely until – acting as emergency archaeological consultant on a new housing development – he crosses the path of Rob Escley, aka Dirty Rob, who makes Mal’s earth move in more ways than one.

Then Rob discovers something wonderful, and together they must combat greedy developers and a treasure hunter determined to get his hands on the find. Are desperate measures justified to save the bones of our fathers? Will Dirty Rob live up to his reputation? Do museum curators really do it meticulously?

Answers must be found for the sake of Mal’s future, his happiness and his heart.






Cozy!

This little story will probably only appeal to some. It's very British which creates a great sense of place but I also found some of the lingo challenging.

However, it hit my opposites attract sweet spot with Rob being a burly construction worker to Mal's geeky museum curator. Rob's also cheeky and saucy which cracked me up; some of his innuendos were so cheesy they left me chortling. From the moment he sets eyes on Mal there is never any doubt that he'd like to show Mal his power tools. Mal is quite likable in his own rite. He's not as gregarious as Rob but he's passionate and genuinely a good person who's loyal to his friends and committed to his field.

The plot is straightforward and the story sort of meanders to a conclusion with some shenanigans along the way to add to the overall genial quality of the story. The Bones of Our Fathers is a slice of life with a cast of characters that lend to the coziness that is Pemberland. This story and these characters have charisma!

Pemberland is a quaint little town where everyone knows everyone and all their business because they've all lived there forever. Even though Mal is a newb he's welcomed into the fold and is soon knocking around the same haunts like a local, though his blossoming relationship with Rob probably greased those wheels a bit.

Rob and Mal have chemistry and while there are some sexy times they're not explicit with most being alluded to or fade to black. Their relationship evolves naturally with minimal but realistic conflicts that both men use their words to work through. Generally speaking, they fall easily into a committed relationship, have fun together and seem to be on their way to an HEA.

This is my first experience with this author and even though there weren't a lot of bells and whistles that I typically enjoy in my reads what I realized somewhere along the way was a growing familiarity with these characters that snuck up on me. It's a quiet story that packs a punch, a sneaky, ninja punch, but still.

Recommend to romance readers who enjoy low angst, cozy reads with humorous secondary characters.




A review copy was provided.

Giveaway + Blog Tour: The Preacher's Son by Lisa Henry & J.A. Rock


J.A. Rock's here today to talk about her and writing partner's newest novel & they're offering a giveaway to sweeten the deal. Take it away, J.A.! 

J.A. here! Writing The Preacher’s Son required Lisa Henry and me to think quite a bit about faith. Lisa wrote a lovely post for Sinfully about her experience with religion growing up, and about how she used those past experiences to connect with our protestant MC Nate even though she’s an atheist now. 

My experience has some parallels to Lisa’s. My dad was raised Swedenborgian (yep, the dude who traveled to space and made friends with aliens), and my mom Presbyterian. But they were both skeptics, and by the time I came along, they were pretty distanced from their respective religions. I went to church a couple of times with friends, but always found it boring and could never imagine actually taking the Bible as truth. As a queer woman, I was particularly wary of what most religions thought about my friends and me, and pretty hostile toward the concept of organized religion as a result. But I definitely went through a phase when I was little where I was scared Hell might be real. And another phase where my beloved gerbil died, and so my mom bought me a cassette of the Mariah Carey/Boys II Men single “One Sweet Day,” and I played it on a loop and imagined Cocoa shining down on me from heaven.

Most of us have a system of beliefs that guides us. Most of us have doubts, questions, moments where we need to acknowledge forces larger than ourselves. The Preacher’s Son is, on the surface, the story of two belief systems clashing. But really, it's about how all people have fundamentally similar needs and desires. It’s about the way we use our beliefs as self-protection, as weapons, and as a source of comfort. 

Self-righteousness, fear of the unknown, the belief that you know the answers and have a right to tell others how to think and behave…these are human qualities, not religious qualities. So it helped to approach the story not just from the point of view of “how does it feel to be religious?” but by looking at what beliefs guide each character. It’s not just Nate and his reverend father who organize their lives around absolutes. Jason does too. And each character is fighting a battle not to let their version of “right” lead them to do harm.

While religion plays an important role in the book, we don’t see it as a story about religion, but rather about the fears and doubts we all deal with, and the choices we make based on what we believe. 


Blurb:
Jason Banning is a wreck. His leg’s been blown to hell in Afghanistan, his boyfriend just left him and took the dog, and now he’s back in his hometown of Pinehurst, Washington, a place that holds nothing but wretched memories…and Nathan Tull. Nathan Tull, whose life Jason ruined. Nathan Tull, who will never believe Jason did what he did for a greater good. Nathan Tull, whose reverend father runs a gay conversion therapy camp that Jason once sought to bring down—at any cost.

Nathan Tull is trying to live a quiet life. Four years ago, when Nate was a prospective student visiting UW Tacoma, his world collapsed when senior Jason Banning slept with him, filmed it, and put the footage online. A painful public outing and a crisis of faith later, Nate has finally begun to heal. Cured of the “phantoms” that plagued him for years, he now has a girlfriend, a counselor job at his dad’s camp, and the constant, loving support of his father.

But when he learns Jason is back in town, his carefully constructed identity begins to crumble. As desperate to reconcile his love for God with his attraction to men as Jason is to make sense of the damage he’s done, Nate finds himself walking a dangerous line. On one side lies the righteous life he committed himself to in the wake of his public humiliation. On the other is the sin he committed with Jason Banning, and the phantoms that won’t let him be. But is there a path that can bridge those two worlds—where his faith and his identity as a gay man aren’t mutually exclusive?

And can he walk that path with the man who betrayed him?


The Preacher’s Son by J.A. Rock and Lisa Henry is available from Amazon. 


Bios:

Lisa Henry likes to tell stories, mostly with hot guys and happily ever afters.
Lisa lives in tropical North Queensland, Australia. She doesn’t know why, because she hates the heat, but she suspects she’s too lazy to move. She spends half her time slaving away as a government minion, and the other half plotting her escape.
She attended university at sixteen, not because she was a child prodigy or anything, but because of a mix-up between international school systems early in life. She studied history and English, neither of them very thoroughly.
She shares her house with too many cats, a dog, a green tree frog that swims in the toilet, and as many possums as can break in every night. This is not how she imagined life as a grown-up.
Website: www.lisahenryonline.com
Blog: http://lisahenryonline.blogspot.com.au
Twitter: https://twitter.com/LisaHenryOnline
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lisa.henry.1441

J.A. Rock is the author of over twenty LGBTQ romance and suspense novels, as well as an occasional contributor to HuffPo Queer Voices. J.A.’s books have received Lambda Literary, INDIE, and EPIC Award nominations, and 24/7 was named one of the best books of 2016 by Kirkus Reviews. J.A. lives in Chicago with an extremely judgmental dog, Professor Anne Studebaker.
Website: www.jarockauthor.com
Blog: http://jarockauthor.blogspot.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/jarockauthor
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ja.rock.39



Enter your contact info in the comments for a chance to win your choice of any of our backlist titles! Drawing takes place at 11:59 pm on 1/20.

Guest Review: Short Order (Foothill Pride #8) by Pat Henshaw

When recent horticulture graduate Dr. Fenton Miller arrives in Stone Acres, California, he thinks his only concern is which job offer to accept after spending the holidays working at his cousin’s plant nursery. But after he rents a room from another shorter-than-average man, sous-chef John Barton, Fen falls in lust.

While he’s attracted to Fen, John’s got bigger concerns when two men from his past arrive in town and pressure him to return to San Francisco. Although John tries to stop Fen from getting involved, Fen realizes his lover is in trouble and is determined to protect him.

As the holidays get closer and Fen makes his own enemy, the joy of the season gets lost in the ill will around them. To ensure love triumphs, Fen and John must stand tall to show that short, dark, and handsome is a recipe for love.


Reviewer: NeRdyWYRM

Underdogs, Unite!

I love a good underdogs story. Love. Love. Love. And you have a lot of that here. Add in a personal growth twist and an epic romance and you have a whole lotta good feels.

I liked that the MCs were a little different. I liked that they were a little damaged, or well, at least one of them was. More so than the other. I liked the fact that John had to grow up a little and realize that there is a vast different between what you think you want and what you actually need.

Fenton's character was fantastic. Smart, sweet, funny, patient, and strong. John was quieter and a little broken, but still made of steel. They were great as individuals and great together.

pbj time

As always, there are niggles. The villain in the story was more of a paper tiger. I mean, do people as inept as he was really get away with stuff like that in a setting like this? I just don't see it. I guess it's not as much that it's impossible as it seems unlikely. Maybe I'm being hypercritical, but I don't think so.

John pissed me off a few times and Fen, too, for that matter. John was just a little too ... self-sacrificing? Self-deprecating? Doom and gloom. And Fen was too far in the other direction. Hyperfocused on something ephemeral instead of something real. Too dismissive. Too determinedly footloose. It irked here and there even though I knew they'd get it together.

All in all this was an enjoyable read. I really loved the character- and relationship-building even though the guys frustrated me at times. The plot was so-so, like I said before, but taken as a whole I really don't have much to complain about. I liked it. I was thankful—because my work schedule sucks ass—that I didn't have to read the whole series to enjoy this book. It can be read as a standalone. And best of all, I'd truly love to see these guys again sometime.


More reviews by NeRdyWYRM can be found on Goodreads here.
Images (when present) may be subject to copyright.
An ARC copy of this title was provided for an honest review.



Release Day Review: Beneath This Mask (Enhanced #3) by Victoria Sue

Gael Peterson has spent years hiding behind the enhanced abilities he wears like a mask, even though he is an important, confident member of the FBI’s exclusive H.E.R.O. team. The hurt and betrayal of his mom’s abandonment and his father’s fists are secrets buried deep beneath the ugly scars on his face, and he doesn’t trust Jake, his new regular human partner, with any of them. In a world where those with special abilities like Gael’s are regarded as freaks and monsters, it won’t be easy for him to rely on Jake to have his back, especially when the abilities of a vulnerable, enhanced, nonspeaking child make that child a murder suspect.

Tempers rise and loyalties are challenged, and when the serial killer targeting the enhanced finally sets his sights on Gael, not only will Gael have to trust Jake with his secrets, he might have to trust him to save his life.




Once again, Victoria Sue has hit it out of the ballpark. I loved this episode of the Enhanced series! Gael and Jake were an unlikely couple who, even with all the drama and mayhem surrounding them, fit together seamlessly.

I’ve wanted to read Gael’s story since I first got to know him in Five Minutes Longer. He had an air of mystery about him and I could tell his story was going to be heartbreaking.

Jake was a bit of an unknown going into this book. We didn’t really meet him until later in the second book so, although intrigued, I had no idea what to expect from him. Jake also had the extra stigma of coming from ENu, the police’s enhanced unit and the team’s number one archrival. It wasn’t easy for him to acclimate, but he slowly won the guys over after proving himself to be a good cop and even better human being.

I loved the slow progression their relationship took. Yeah, there were some ups and downs, but not more than what you would find in any budding relationship. Gael was averse to having a partner; he didn’t really feel that he needed (or deserved) one. Jake, not one to shirk any duty, put forth a lot of effort in breaking down the wall Gael had erected around him. First, in an effort to fit in with his partner and the team and then, after getting to know Gael a bit more, because he found he liked the guy. He liked the guy a lot. Some would say he may have even developed a crush on the mysterious man with the scarred face. Some would be correct in that assumption. ;)

Their relationship felt natural. It felt easy and genuine. I liked that the author avoided the dreaded Big Misunderstanding Due to a Lack of Communication trope that is prevalent in the genre nowadays, instead offering a natural progression to their relationship that felt real and more true-to-life.

The underlying theme to this book seems to be family and all the differences in each one you may find. There are good families and bad. Families that support you and those that hold you back. Happy families and toxic families. Ones that you are born to and new ones that you form. It doesn’t matter what type of family you come from; only what you make of yourself and the one you create. It was a strong yet subtle message that really resonated within me and made me think.

I can’t leave here without mentioning the villain in this story. What a wonderfully despicable character they were. I was fully invested in their demise. I loathed them fiercely and anticipated their comeuppance with an unholy glee. Fabulous job on the villain!

Recommended for lovers of exciting, action-packed urban fantasy that is heavy on the romance. These ain’t your mama’s superheroes!




https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/beneath-this-mask-by-victoria-sue-9191-b

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/33536685-beneath-this-mask?from_search=true

Giveaway + Blog Tour: Romantic Behavior (Bad Behavior #4) by L.A. Witt & Cari Z.


L.A. Witt, Cari Z. & Riptide Publishing are here today to celebrate the release of Romantic Behavior and they're offering up a generous giveaway to one lucky commenter! Be sure to enter below!


About Romantic Behavior
Detective Andreas Ruffner is no fool—he’s found a man who loves him, puts up with him, and has stuck with him through hell and back, and it’s time to put a ring on it. Darren Corliss is the love of his life, and he wants the whole world to know it.

Now the fun part—the wedding!

Well, after the not-so-fun part of planning the wedding in between dealing with overbearing and impossible-to-please family members. With future mothers-in-law driving them both up a wall, the guest list growing out of control, and the wedding getting ever more complicated, Darren and Andreas have to wonder if they’re in over their heads.

But they’re going to make it to the altar if it kills them . . . and at this rate, it just might.

Available now from Riptide Publishing!



About the Bad Behavior Series

It’s “hell no” at first sight for newly partnered detectives Andreas Ruffner and Darren Corliss. Darren is too chipper, Andreas is too gruff, and that whole “IA wants me to prove you’re a dirty cop” thing really doesn’t get them off on the right foot.

It doesn’t matter if they like each other. They’re partners and that’s final. Though Andreas is easy on the eyes. And Darren is kind of cute. And . . . okay, maybe they can make this work.

They’d better, because as their cases get more horrifying—and more personal—they’ll have to trust each other with their lives, and with their hearts.

Check out Bad Behavior


About Cari Z.

Cari Z was a bookworm as a child and remains one to this day. In an effort to combat her antisocial reading behavior, she did all sorts of crazy things, from competitive gymnastics to alligator wresting (who even knew that was legal!) to finally joining the Peace Corps, which promptly sent her and her husband to the wilds of West Africa, stuck them in a hut, and said, "See ya!" She also started writing, because some things she just thought she could do better. She's still climbing that ladder, but can't stop herself from writing, or from sharing what she creates.

Cari enjoys a wide range of literary genres, from the classics (get 'im, Ahab) to science fiction and fantasy of all types, to historical fiction and reference materials (no, seriously, there are so many great encyclopedias out there). She writes in a wide range of genres as well, but somehow 90% of what she produces ends up falling into the broad and exciting category of m/m erotica. There’s a sprinkling of f/m and f/f and even m/f/m in her repertoire, but her true love is man love. And there's a lot of love to go around.

Cari has published short stories, novellas, and novels with numerous print and e-presses, and she also offers up a tremendous amount of free content on Literotica.com, under the name Carizabeth.

Connect with Cari at http://cari-z.net/  or via her blog, http://carizerotica.blogspot.com/


About L.A. Witt

L.A. Witt is an abnormal M/M romance writer who has finally been released from the purgatorial corn maze of Omaha, Nebraska, and now spends her time on the southwestern coast of Spain. In between wondering how she didn’t lose her mind in Omaha, she explores the country with her husband, several clairvoyant hamsters, and an ever-growing herd of rabid plot bunnies. She also has substantially more time on her hands these days, as she has recruited a small army of mercenaries to search South America for her nemesis, romance author Lauren Gallagher, but don’t tell Lauren. And definitely don’t tell Lori A. Witt or Ann Gallagher. Neither of those twits can keep their mouths shut . . .

L. A.’s backlist is available on her website, and updates (as well as random thoughts and the odd snarky comment) can be found on her blog or on Twitter (@GallagherWitt). 



To celebrate the release of Romantic Behavior, one lucky winner will receive a $10 Riptide credit and their choice in an ebook from each of Cari and L.A.’s backlist! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on January 20, 2018. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info! 



Review: The Hockey Player's Heart (Hockey Hearts #1) by Jeff Adams & Will Knauss

When hockey star Caleb Carter returns to his hometown to recover from an injury, the only thing he’s interested in is a little R & R. He never expects to run into his onetime crush at a grade school fund-raiser . Seeing Aaron Price hits him hard, like being checked into the boards. The attraction is still there, even after all these years, and Caleb decides to make a play for the schoolteacher. You miss 100 percent of the shots you never take, right?

Aaron has been burned by love before and can’t imagine what a celebrity like Caleb could possibly see in a guy like him. Their differences are just too great. But as Aaron spends more time with Caleb, he begins to wonder if he might have what it takes to win the hockey player’s heart.





By now I think it’s pretty obvious that I am a fan of the Dreamspun Desire series and this book is a great example of why. There are some books in the Dreamspinner Press houseline that are super fluffy and they are some that are so damn sweet and meaningful, you need to hug it out with your Nook when you finish the book. This story is the latter.

From the prologue I was hooked as we get a young Caleb waiting to give a gift to his older sister’s best friend Aaron who is also Caleb’s crush and his geometry tutor after Aaron’s high school graduation. Caleb has been crushing pretty hard on Aaron for what seems like forever but he has no way to tell Aaron other than this. It’s a milestone moment for Caleb but it’s over quickly and then life happened and the two men haven’t seen one another in years.

Caleb has always loved the game of hockey and was lucky enough to turn it in to a career playing for the New York Rangers. But a foot injury has Caleb needing some time off the ice so he heads back to his home town of Foster Grove to recover. Once home, his sister Pam who is also the elementary school’s principal thinks it’s a great idea for Caleb to participate in the local school’s carnival and draw some fundraising money, Caleb comes face to face with his teenage crush.

I love that this was told from both Aaron and Caleb’s POV so we really got a chance to see that both men have had crushes on the other for some time. Aaron is nothing short of adorable as he tries to act like seeing a grown up and hot as heck professional hockey player that Caleb now is doesn’t affect him and Caleb momentarily turns 16 again when he sees Aaron but the men keep it platonic.

This story was so sweet and yet really meaningful. We get a lot of Aaron and Caleb building an adult friendship though a natural progression. The men hang out with one another and find out they have a lot in common with their likes and shared history. It’s easy to see how they could quickly find themselves in a relationship though it moves at a slower pace with them keeping respectable boundaries. The moments of Caleb showing Aaron’s third grade class how he uses geometry in Hockey and Aaron being mesmerized by Caleb teaching kids on the ice was lovely to experience. These two have such a healthy admiration for what the other does that it gives the reader a stable building block for their romantic relationship.

With Caleb being a hockey player, we do get a good amount of sport in this story. At least for a reader like myself who isn’t sporty. We get the ins and outs of how the sport works professionally for Caleb and his responsibilities with it. The “You Can Play Initiative” is front and center with Caleb and the story highlights it in an informative and supportive way. Just the memory of Caleb dealing with a young man wanting an autograph and what he does warms my heart. Caleb knows that his position as an out gay man in the world of professional hockey holds a level of responsibility and he doesn’t take that lightly. He gives back to his community and he gives back to kids remembering what it was like to be one.

Aaron broke my heart with his relationship issues and how he wants to trust Caleb but is scared. I think what I liked the most about this element is how he and Caleb were so honest with one another about their past, present and future. The communication is always there even if it’s a little stalled with insecurity but it doesn’t last long.

Once again, I find myself rambling because there are so many positives in this story. It’s a great unrequited/unknown/mutual high school crush/friends to lovers romance that warmed my heart. I truly loved watching Aaron and Caleb become friends and then more. They are sweet and also really hot together when they decide to get down and dirty and Aaron can get pretty dirty.

At the end of it all, this was lovely. I find myself thinking of the moments that made me smile and there are so many of them. I have a note on one highlight that says “Stop highlighting moments before you highlight the whole book” because there are that many.

The ending was super sweet and again, respectful and romantic. Yeah this was a good book.

Wait… I have one more thing to say. Since this is listed as a series, I really hope the next books is Dimitri because he needs someone to show him his hookup days are over.






Blog Tour: Ghost of a Chance (Requiem Inc. #1) by Kris T. Bethke


Kris T. Bethke is here today talking about her inspiration for her new Dreamspun Beyond novel, Ghost of a Chance which comes out tomorrow! Happy Release Day Eve, Kris! 

See our pre-release day review HERE


Thanks so much for having me here today. I’m so excited to be here, and to talk about my newest release, Ghost of a Chance, which is out tomorrow.

When I decided I wanted to write a paranormal romance for Dreamspinner Press’s Dreamspun Beyond line, I had a lot of things to choose from. I’ve always loved paranormal romance, so I had plenty of ideas. But I was looking for something different. Something that I hadn’t seen done hundreds of times in different iterations.

I have to admit, I’m not a huge fan of ghost stories in general. I’m not one of those people that likes being scared, so I usually steer clear and leave them for readers/writers who love it. But Ghost of a Chance isn’t that kind of story.

Blake Jones is a ghostwalker. When he dies, it’s not permanent, and while he’s gone, he can conduct himself on the spirit plane. Blake isn’t the only one. In fact, there are thousands of ghostwalkers in the world. Requiem Inc. formed in 1915 to make use of those ghostwalkers. While they are dead, they help spirits who are trapped on the spirit plane cross over and find eternal peace. It’s a demanding job. Emotionally as well as physically. And ghostwalkers need someone to take care of them when they come back to life.

Enter Derek Scott.

Derek is the natural counterpart to a ghostwalker. He has a gene, the anchor gene, that predisposes him to care for a ghostwalker. Requiem Inc. employs thousands of anchors too, to care for and see to the well being of the ghostwalkers. Not every anchor has the gene, but those that do are especially good at their jobs.

It’s not smooth sailing for Blake and Derek. There’s a lot they need to overcome in order to work together. And when they do? Well, things take a turn neither man expected. Because Blake and Derek connect on levels deeper than either anticipated.

I loved creating this alternate reality, and loved writing Blake and Derek’s story. It’s not something I’d ever seen before, not quite like this, and I enjoyed figuring out how it all worked. And how, in the midst of all that, Blake and Derek fall in love.

If I’ve done my job, you’ll enjoy reading it just as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope you’ll get a chance to check it out.

Blurb:

Only love makes life worth living—over and over again.

Ghostwalker Blake Jones dies every day. It’s his job and how he helps trapped souls cross over. But to return to life, he needs an anchor. His new partner, Derek Scott, is a surprise. Not only is he male, but his appearance belies a caring and gentle heart underneath. Despite attraction and a strengthening relationship, they know they shouldn’t take things further.

But there’s a big difference between knowing and doing.

Their growing love presents a problem, though not the one they expect. Blake and Derek have to decide if they should take their relationship to the most permanent level—an unbreakable metaphysical bond. Doing so offers both risk and unimaginable reward. Can Blake let go of his fears and put his complete trust in Derek in order to have the happily ever after he’s always craved?

Buy Links:

DSP

Author Bio:

Kris T. Bethke has been a voracious reader for pretty much her entire life and has been writing stories for nearly as long. An avid and prolific daydreamer, she always has a story in her head. She spends most of her free time reading, writing, or knitting/crocheting her latest project. Her biggest desire is to find a way to accomplish all three tasks at one time. A classic muscle car will always turn her head, and naps on the weekend are one of her greatest guilty pleasures. She lives in a converted attic with a way too fluffy cat and the voices in her head. She’ll tell you she thinks that’s a pretty good deal. Kris believes that love is love, no matter the gender of people involved, and that all love deserves to be celebrated.

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