Review: Where There's A Will (Panopolis #3) by Cari Z.

Being a Hero in Panopolis means living the high life: parties, money, influence, even reality television. And I’m one of the most powerful Heroes in the city. I have plenty of fans, a manager who looks out for me (after himself), and a job that pays the bills. I should be enjoying myself.

Unfortunately, the downside of my superpower means I can’t touch anyone, which tends to puts a damper on things. I probably don’t deserve all those perks anyway, since I’m working in secret with two of Panopolis’s biggest villains to undermine GenCorp—my main sponsor and the company that controls what gets through my force field.

I obviously don’t trust my corporate overseers, but they’ve hired a new scientist who actually seems interested in helping me. Dr. Mansourian might have the answers to all my questions—not to mention a starring role in most of my dreams—but he’s hiding something big. If I let him have what he wants, I might not live to regret it.

Then again, the way things are going in Panopolis these days, I might not live either way.


I’m very surprised by my rating, considering that I really enjoyed the first two books in the Panopolis series.

Also, I think this gif is appropriate in this context:
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‘Where There’s A Will’ diverges from the preceding books by focusing on a Hero instead of a Villain. The Hero is Freight Train, or Craig Haney, whose special ability is that he has a thin forcefield around him which does not allow anything to touch him. Craig has dealt with the loneliness of his powers for years, but after discovering that his sponsor, GenCorp, is not as benevolent as it appears to be, Craig has become increasingly frustrated with his situation.

When GenCorp hires a new researcher, Dr. Ari Mansourian, to help their Heroes with their powers, Craig finds himself in a difficult situation. He likes Ari and is attracted to him, but trusting someone from GenCorp doesn’t seem like a good idea. But as the two begin spending time together and trying to find a solution for Craig, he finds himself putting his faith in Ari.

Craig has been a bit of a conundrum for me since the first book, Where There’s Smoke, when he was Edward’s clueless suitor. Craig was never a bad person, but he was instrumental in exposing Edward and Raul’s relationship to the authorities. And while he redeemed himself somewhat in the second book, I wasn’t sure whether I liked him.

Having read this book from his point of view, I could understand his previous actions. I liked getting into Craig’s head and discovering that he was more than just a pretty face and mindless robot for GenCorp.

The author continues building this world of Heroes and Villains in Panopolis. The additions to the history of the city and its residents were interesting and answered a few questions I had from the previous books.

We also get a front-row seat to how GenCorp and the other sponsors control and manipulate the Heroes, which was eye-opening. GenCorp is the epitome of the evil corporation theme.
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So I enjoyed the worldbuilding, and how the plot moved forward. We’ve got the action scenes, the explosions, the back-stabbing, the twists and turns, and the politics that I’ve come to expect and enjoy from this series. But what really didn’t work me was the romance.

Craig and Ari’s relationship just came off as very bland. I didn’t feel any chemistry between them. It seemed like the main thing that the two had going for them was that they were the only two decent human beings in GenCorp’s employment. It probably also didn’t help that we get nothing from Ari’s POV, so he remains a bit of a mystery.

I couldn’t help but compare Ari and Craig to Edward and Raul. Edward and Raul have passion and a connection that goes far beyond their crappy situation. The two are bit messed up, but together they’re whole. Compared to that, Craig and Ari’s more cookie-cutter romance didn’t shine at all.

Despite the lacklustre romance in book 3 of the Panopolis series, these books are still very fun reads. If you’re looking for some gay superheroes or supervillains and an entertaining plot, I’d recommend this series.


P.S. Imagining Chris Evans as Freight Train makes things more interesting. Because oomph.
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Check out on Goodreads!

Review: Locked Out by Josephine Myles

Getting accidentally locked out of his hotel room on Valentine’s Day night is embarrassing enough for teacher Martin Cooper, but the fact he’s stark naked makes it even worse. It doesn’t help that the one person he runs into is Rod, the gorgeous man he’d been checking out earlier in the hotel pool. But when Rod offers Martin a refuge, the night heats up. Now if only Martin could get the hang of this seduction business…

Previously published as part of the Brit Boys: On Boys anthology.



This short little gem has just the right balance of adorable, heat and angst to make for a perfect afternoon escape read. Martin accompanies his newly single sister to a Valentine resort getaway she had already bought and paid for before she got dumped, so Martin is along to keep her company and be a good drinking partner and listener. The two of them read as siblings from start to finish. Snark with a side of love so they were really good together and their banter gave me a good idea of Martin’s character in a short period of time.

Martin does not lead an exciting life. He’s a teacher in a quiet little town with a history of a couple of boyfriends, and not a single one-night stand. As he says, it was “Just another way in which I failed at being a gay stud”. After engaging in a little eye fucking with a delicious man in a Speedo by the pool, Martin resigns himself to a solo weekend with his sis and a continued lack of one night stand love. Circumstances being adorable, Martin manages to lock himself out of his room nekkid in the middle of the night. His sister is caught in a serious sleep buzz so she doesn’t hear him knocking. Sooooo, who comes walking down the hall? Delicious Speedo Man!

One thing leads to another and Martin finally gets his one night stand. Thing is, it was more than what he had hoped for, he honestly felt a connection to Rod (Delicious Speedo Man). Problem is, he gave Rod a bit of false info as to who he was and what he did for a living. The bit of misinformation was enough to keep Martin locked up in his lie, because for every moment he let it go on, it became too difficult to come clean. He also was pretty unclear as to how one night stands worked and listened to his sister instead of his own brain. Not that she was necessarily off the mark, she advised him to make himself more interesting, live vicariously through his new persona, because, why the hell not? That fits her personality, not his, so it’s no wonder the whole thing backfired on Martin like it did. Fast forward to real life and Martin is back at work and still has regret about not being able to pursue the connection with Rod. Instead he snuck out before morning and hasn’t seen Rod since.

This is a sweet RomCom of a story though, so the two do meet again under real life circumstances and it was a little awkward but Rod is a good guy and some honest communication moved the story along in an angst-free way. The author did a really good job of building both Martin and Rod for a shorter story. There was enough backstory and personality shown without just being told making it easy to get to know both of them. Plus, the chemistry they shared was damn hawt, the connection between them was obviously more than one night stand level heat so it really made me want an HEA for them. I was right there with Martin, I felt his regret as well as his nervousness and excitement when they met up again. And finally, I absolutely loved the role that Martin played in the bedroom with Rod. His sister told him to live it up outside of his ‘boring’ routine, I think Martin just needed to find the right partner to make that be a thing for him.


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


For more information on Locked Out, check it out over on Goodreads.

Tag Team Review: Risk Aware by Amelia C. Gormley

Tattoo artist Geoff Gilchrest is convinced his life is some sort of cosmic joke. Why else would a hemophiliac also be a masochist? He’s given himself more than one elbow bleed since puberty just doing what guys do when alone and bored, so forget about whips and chains. How many partners would contemplate playing with someone even a mild flogging could kill?

Gallery owner Robin Brady knows he can deliver what Geoff needs: to be taken to the edge of danger but never beyond. But Robin came to Saugatuck to get away from the leather scene and heal from a betrayal by his former sub, so he’s not sure he should get involved with Geoff. His ambivalence isn’t helped by the fact that Geoff’s unwillingness to communicate about his well-being hits Robin in some very raw places.

Geoff’s hemophilia isn’t the obstacle he thinks it is. Instead, a lack of trust—on both their parts—is what could end them before they have a chance to begin.





Another Instance of  #UnicornBrainShare


Adam

Tattoo artist Geoff Gilchrist knows he has the talent and drive to be successful, and is deciding whether to set up his own independent business. But it’s a financial gamble, given the immense costs of the treatments for his hemophilia. His genetic disorder has often hindered him, especially in love and sex. At a week-long vacation, Geoff is offered what he’s always wanted in his sex life - pain.

Gallery owner Robin Brady hasn’t been in the scene for a while, but he likes a challenge. He knows he can give Geoff what he wants, while keeping him safe. The two agree to a fling, not expecting that it will last longer than Geoff’s vacation.

The premise of a hemophiliac with a pain kink was immediately intriguing. The only thing I knew about hemophilia before beginning ‘Risk Aware’ was that it affected blood clotting. The detailed picture of life with hemophilia that the author gives was informative without becoming a lecture. Reading about Geoff’s daily struggle with hemophilia was eye-opening.

It also made me stop and think about my own privilege as an able-bodied person. It’s never a bad thing to remember how random the genetic lottery is, and why scientific and medical research and progress are so necessary.


The chemistry between Robin and Geoff is immediate. The two click from the beginning. I enjoyed their banter and how they slowly got to know one another. It was easy to fall for Robin. His backstory tugged at my heartstrings, and the complete attention he gave to Geoff and his medical needs reinforced that.

Geoff, on the other hand, took some getting used to. I could understand his frustration with his situation, but his disregard for his own well-being was tough to read. He was often very immature, particularly when he tried to hide problems during or after scenes with Robin. It wasn’t until somewhere around the halfway point that I truly began liking Geoff, and stopped wondering whether he had a secret death-wish.

The halfway point is also when I started believing that the two MCs could build something long-term. The two aren’t perfect and they often make mistakes or let their hang-ups get in the way, but it was clear that Geoff and Robin shared more than just a physical attraction. Through their ups and downs, the two kept coming back to each other, and worked at it until they got it right.


Pain really isn’t my kink. I often find myself skimming the more hardcore scenes when reading BDSM. However in this book, the heavier kink was a sensual experience. The inventive ways in which Robin indulges Geoff’s need for pain and edge play were sexy, and didn’t make me cringe the way S&M often does. Each time Robin hinted that he had something new up his sleeve, I couldn’t wait to read what it was.

The conclusion of ‘Risk Aware’ is definitely a happy ending, but I don’t think it’s the sunshine and roses that most readers would expect from their romance books. I gave it some time, and realized that while Geoff and Robin’s ending may not have been a shining HEA, it is a very realistic one. Long-term disabilities don’t disappear in the face of love, and hemophilia in particular isn’t something with a miracle cure.

It’s possible that sometime in the future Geoff will bump his head too hard or be harmed in another way that his body can’t cope with. It’s more than likely that his joints will deteriorate in the coming years. But he’ll have Robin at his side, and there’s no question that the two will love each other and deal with things as they come.

‘Risk Aware’ is a wonderfully written book, with an enthralling romance and a very unique look at BDSM and disability. I’d definitely recommend this book for any MM readers looking for something different.


Cupcake

If I had to describe this book in one word it would be impressive.

I was impressed by the level of research that must’ve gone into living with hemophilia, the staggering medical costs associated with the disorder, the stigma attached to it and just how affected hemophiliacs were by the AIDS epidemic. I, too, was impressed by the kink, but I'll get to that later.

Geoff is a masochist and a hemophiliac. It’s taken his mother’s passing and quite a bit of prodding from his sister for him to finally decide to take a chance and dip his toes into the kink pool. He and his best friend Jace head to Saugatuck for the Dunes’ annual Buns & Baskets Benefit, a leather event, where he meets Robin.

Robin has a history in the kink community but had a bad experience with his erstwhile sub which has kept him away from the scene for a while. He’s attending the event to test the Michigan waters to see if he wants to dive back into a pool with less memories than NYC.

They’re attracted to each other instantly, but their story is in no way instalove. As a matter of fact, this may be the best, most honest relationship development I’ve read to date. Gormley meticulously builds it by showing us both of their perspectives along with their angst, achievements and missteps.

Trust.

Trust is important in any relationship but paramount when you’re talking about RACK level kink. I found it brilliant and brazen that Gormley chose to construct a character with Geoff’s condition and make him a masochist. Which is what immediately drew me to this book. It would seem an impossible task for most tops to meet Geoff’s needs without killing him, so not only does Geoff have to trust Robin to respect his limitations, but Robin has to trust Geoff to verbalize them without insouciance. It's a game of inches for them both.

“Jesus…For a whore you’re the tightest piece of ass I’ve ever…Fuck. Gonna go balls-deep…gonna pound the fuck outta you.”


Sadly Robin is not a bear. Maybe an otter… I digress. Robin is amazingly attuned and attentive to Geoff but not in that omniscient way that I find annoying. He’s human and has foibles, quirks and sore spots like anyone else, but he has that quiet composure that centers Geoff when he's being puerile or sardonic.

And that’s what Gormley is astoundingly good a-she shows all her character's eccentricities, insecurities, strengths and weaknesses holistically. There’s good characterization, there's great characterization and then there’s exceptional characterization and Gormley falls in the latter category, in my opinion.

As for the kink... I was just plain ole WOW'd. Since a simple spanking could be tantamount to death that forces Robin to get creative and WOOO BOOOYYYYY does he ever pick up that gauntlet! I had to create a new shelf! That gives me excite. What also gives me excite is reading the heavy kink scenes from the sub’s perspective.

I blinked at him sleepily, feeling so incredibly good that I wanted to crawl inside him and stay there, basking in him and this feeling for as long as possible.

And I, unlike my co-reviewer, LOVE DA PAIN. And Gormley brought it.


My caveat being I’m not sure how feasible some of it would be, but I gotta be honest...


I just soaked it up and rolled around in it like a happy puppy in a field of poppies. A glassy eyed happy puppy with a notepad.

Geoff and Robin are great together and not just in a kinky sense either. Their relationship evolves naturally as they get to know one another. Robin is just as much out of his comfort zone with edge play as Geoff is a neophyte to kink altogether, but they make it work and along the way fall in love. I wholeheartedly believe they will have a long future together filled with good days and bad, ups and downs, with ubiquitous mundanities and joyful events and perhaps even a family of their own.

He could make me feel like I was anything but delicate. He could make me fly.

If you like kink, heavy, sadomasochistic kink step right up, kids. This is a book for you. But I would urge anyone who hasn’t read Gormley to at least give Risk Aware a try if for no other reason than to experience her exceptional writing.


ARCs were provided by NetGalley in exchange for honest reviews.

Find out more on Goodreads.

Blog Tour + GIVEAWAY: Evan's Luck (Riding the Circuit #1) by Jennah Scott & H. Sterling

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Evan’s Luck

by
Jennah Scott
April 26, 2016
Five Hearts Publishing

synopsis


Spencer Quinn has an image to uphold. His family name means more than anything. It’s the reason the reason they've become the most successful stock contractor on the rodeo circuit. Fresh out of school, he’s ready to take over the family business. It’s no secret he’s attracted to men, and so far that hasn’t been a problem.

Until Evan.

The assertive friend who knows how to push every one of his buttons.

Evan Taylor is known for his love ‘em and leave ‘em style, yet the last few months have left him deflated and lonely. His father's shadow wasn't where he wanted to end up, but he's having trouble finding happiness. Maybe because women can't keep his attention. He’s losing hope of settling down until a blast from the past saunters by, his heart catches and tingles spread over his skin.

Of all people, Spencer. The one person who would never give Evan a second glance. It’s just his luck.

The old saying, “Bad luck is better than none at all” fits Evan perfectly. Or does it? Is his bad luck about to change? Will Spencer Quinn be a good luck charm instead?



Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/29921396-evan-s-luck?from_search=true&search_version=service


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Born and raised in Texas, Jennah Scott is a transplant to Missouri long enough ago she should probably consider that her hometown. But she will forever be a Texan. She loves to write any story that will make a reader smile, laugh, and maybe even cry (although you won't ever hear her admit that she cries). No matter what her next crazy idea turns out to be, there will always be romance for everyone.

Sign up for her newsletter (www.jennahscott.com) to stay up to date with new releases, sneak peeks, and other news!

H. Sterling has published multiple contemporary romance books, usually on the more sweet and sassy side of the line, using her alter ego. After pairing up with Jennah she discovered just how much fun writing hot, sexy cowboys can be. Together they experienced how quickly stories can write themselves. Stick around, there's plenty more to come!

Links

Website: www.jennahscott.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/authorjennahscott

Twitter: www.twitter.com/Jennah_scott

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jennahscott/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/jennahscott

Newsletter sign up: http://eepurl.com/E9Tvb


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Audiobook Review: A Casual Thing (Will & Patrick #1) by Annabelle Jacobs

Patrick Mason travels to Bristol to spend the summer with his brother, Ben. He’s cat sitting for the first two weeks while Ben goes on holiday. But Ben neglected to tell him he wouldn’t be doing it alone. Will Adams—Ben’s mate and Patrick’s long-time crush—is staying in Ben’s guest room while he waits to move into his new house after a breakup.

Against his better judgment, Patrick convinces Will that a little no-strings fun is just what they need. Patrick doesn’t want to get involved with a guy on the rebound, and Will isn’t interested in starting something serious with a student. But Patrick’s never been good at separating sex from feelings, and this time is no exception. As their weeks together draw to a close, they need to decide if they have something worth pursuing or if it’s really just a casual thing.

Narrator: Matthew Lloyd Davies
Listening Length: 4 hours and 43 minutes




Oh, I liked this. It was sweet and sexy. I love the falling-in-love-with-my-brother's-best-friend trope. A Casual Thing was every bit of adorable as you would expect with this type of lighthearted romance.

Patrick is house sitting for his brother for a couple weeks. What his brother didn't tell Patrick, was that his brother's best friend - and Patrick's long time crush - would be staying there, too. It was a little awkward between Patrick and Will at first. Mostly because the sexual tension was there and on the rise. Will wasn't sure how he felt about having these sexual thoughts about his best friend's brother. Once they realized they were feeling the attraction both ways, they decided to do something about it.

While they went all in sexually, they wanted the "relationship" part to be casual. Casual, as in non-existent. They did this thing with no strings attached. Well, we all know how this turns out. Someone gets hurt, there's a big misunderstanding, and casual turns into serious. Will and Patrick's story was completely predictable, but I was more than ok with that. Sometimes I'm in the mood for a light story that requires little to no thinking. That's exactly what I got.

Matthew Lloyd Davies was a good choice for this story. The narration was nicely done and his voice was easy to listen to. I do wish he had at least a slight change in voices for Will and Patrick. I found myself forgetting who was narrating at some points. But I would look for more of his books in the future.

I'll definitely be looking into the sequel, as I'm not done with these guys yet. They have a tentative HEA at the end and I'm curious to see what else is in store for them.




Find more info at:

Dreamspinner Press

Goodreads

See our review for the Ebook series here!

Review: Bankers' Hours by Wade Kelly

Even though bankers' hours leave long weekends for romance, cosmic intervention is Grant’s only option when money doesn’t buy happiness and he’s got virginity in spades.

Grant Adams is a twenty-six-year-old bank teller who’s unlucky at love, yet hopelessly hopeful. After years of horrific first dates, he’s convinced he’s saving himself for true love. Surely he has bad taste in men because it couldn’t possibly be his persnickety nature that’s sent them packing.

Tristan Carr has been in a holding pattern since his daughter was born fifteen years ago, which suits his workaholic lifestyle just fine. This ex-Navy turned auto mechanic never wanted anyone interfering with being a weekend dad. For Tristan to rearrange his perfectly orchestrated life, a guy will need to be special. Or in the case of the newest employee at his bank, the guy will need to be adorable, shy, and open to the prospect of forever when it shows up at his window.


Wow, wow wow wow…


That was such a weird book. This review has the very strong possibly of being long and ranty, but I’ll do my best to keep things short, sweet and to the point. Beware there will be SPOILERS throughout this review.

Grant is a 26 year old virgin who works as a bank teller. One day he meets Tristan Carr, 32 year old mechanic and business owner. At first Grant isn’t sure if Tristan is gay because he’s huge and muscled and has a daughter. When it becomes clear that Tristan is indeed gay and interested in Grant, they go on a date, the rest, as they say, is history.

This story is completely and I mean completely fantastical, these two decide to get married after one date to prove the point to Tristan's baby momma, Teresa, that gay men can be committed to each other. After Grant declares to Teresa that they’re getting married in one week, Tristan decides, ‘it was probably going to head in that direction anyway, so why not’. This was after a ton of conversations revolving around Tristan wanting to do the whole ‘dating thing’ the ‘right way’ this time around…


Honestly, I can really get into Insta-love and I even love my ridiculously quick marriages, so I was not too perturbed but that alone. What did really annoy me was how they both questioned the idea of getting married constantly throughout the book, that didn't feel very insta-lovey. If you're going to have a shotgun marriage after one date, at least own it and don’t always second guess yourself. Also these two fought, *cough - Grant - cough*, and had misunderstandings in almost every conversation they had. Despite a few pretty words, it didn't seem like they were a very good match.


Before I get into the craziness that is Grant, I want to say what I liked about this story. Tristan is an amazing character, he is sweet and thoughtful and had enough flaws to feel realistic.


”As soon as I saw you, I knew I had to find reasons to go to the bank. I even took money out of the ATM over the weekend so I could go on Monday and redeposit it on the off chance you’d be there.”

He also had the patience of a God because I certainly would have killed Grant after the first date, let alone marry him.

The sex between these two was pretty darn hot, seeing anyone lose their virginity is always fun but Tristan had to be extra creative to help with Grant's anxiety. I actually did find this a fairly fun read, up until 70%, then the drama just keep coming and it became less quirky crazy and more ripping my hair out annoying.

Ok Grant….


Grant has had possibly the worst dating history, in the history of dating. None of his crushes have ever stuck around for longer than one dinner date. Therefore, he has a bad experience to go with everything that could possibly happen in a relationship, and this carries over to his experiences with Tristan. Grant misunderstands so much of what Tristan does and says as offensive, or proof that Tristan isn’t really interested in him. This happens in almost every conversation, but here’s an example.

This is Tristan explaining his views, yet again, on sex and wanting to go slow with Grant:

“But I was serious about sex. I’m not taking you to bed, not yet. I’ve had way too many relationships that skipped over every pleasantry and headed straight to sex. Not with you.”

Literally 5 pages later, after Grant learns that Tristan slept around 10 years ago, this is what he thinks…


I had never wanted meaningless sex just to satisfy a need to fuck. But he did. I was in a truck, going to dinner, with a man who had needed to fuck so badly that he’d hooked up with guys he didn’t know just to satisfy his lust…every weekend.

A tear rolled down my cheek.

WHAT?!?! I just don’t get it, and this was at 22%.... it continues like this… for the whole book.

When I reached 70% I was gladly going to give this book 3 stars, because even though it was ridiculous and crazy, I was still having fun. Then at 80% Tristan got mad at Grant for leaving in the middle of the night to see his best friend (without even leaving a note) and not coming home until after work the next day. They have a mopey type separation period. Major SPOILERS ahead!! Then I skipped forward to 85%, just to see if it would resolve quickly and saw there was a murder attempt on Tristan by Teresa and that was me done. I’ve had enough of the crazy.

Knowing how the story goes and what to expect will help some people enjoy it I think. If I’d known it was going to be this crazy I think I would have been more prepared and been able to rate it, but it was not for me this time around.


Check out on:

Dreamspinner Press

Goodreads

Group Review: Te Quiero (Falling for You #1) by Suki Fleet

When Ally discovers dozens of naked photos of him have been posted online, he's devastated and tries to contain the situation, hoping it doesn't get worse. Only problem is his laptop has died, and Levi Francis—the guy Ally knows doesn’t like him—sees Ally acting suspiciously on the computers in the University's Physics lab. Ally's day can't get much worse.

But after Levi accidentally drops a love letter written in Spanish, Ally returns it and finds his assumptions about Levi are turned upside down. Betrayed and hurt by his ex, Ally knows it’s the worst possible time to start trusting someone but there’s something about shy, glittery Levi that gets under his skin.







We unicorn gangbanged the hell out of Suki Fleet's NA contemporary...oh the sweet feels!

Lori thought...




I love reading a new Suki Fleet story, because I know without a doubt that I am going to enjoy it. This shorter story is no exception. All the feels are contained here - though for a Suki Fleet it is pretty angst free. I'd even go so far as to say it verges on fluffy. I know, right? Yep, it's definitely by Fleet, I checked. The author who usually takes great care to make your heart feel as though it's done a few rounds with a cheese grater has written a short in which I feel perfectly happy to use the word fluff in the review of.

Ally and Levi are the centre of this short and it concentrates on the light in a dark moment. The light of new friendship an more. Even Ally's arsehole ex (he put naked sexy pictures of Ally onto the interweb, those things can't be unseen, it's a huge betrayal) can't take the glow away from the story. I think this is because it focuses more on the way Ally and Levi react and interact in the light of events than the actual relationship time between Ally and his ex.

I think Suki Fleet fans will love this. I think anyone who enjoys a short sweet story will like this. Go forth and read!



Cupcake thought... 



It’s official. I’ve been Fleeted. Though I’m told it wasn’t a full Fleeting since this is Fleet fluff? I quite enjoyed it and I appreciate not having my chest cavity annihilated so I'm counting it.

It was clear early on that Fleet’s way with words is unparalleled; it’s very figurative and metaphorical. I find this sort of writing very satisfying, wildly creative, maybe even quaint and a bit cozy. Te Quiero was like reading a series of beautiful paintings. I found myself highlighting sentences for no other reason than their winsomeness.



I wanted to say something to let him know I liked him, that I wanted him, but instead I licked my lower lip and watched Levi’s pupils expand blackly in the orange fizz of the streetlight.

Orange fizz! What a remarkably artistic way to see the world. So, yes, I am definitely enamored by the Fleeting and I will indulge in this level of gorgeous writing and sophisticated imagery again to be sure.

Ally and Levi’s story is sweet and skims the surface of emotionality without making the reader want to huddle under a blanket. Ally’s in the midst of a bad breakup and Levi’s been working up the courage to approach him so much so that he’s even taken a Spanish class. And written him a letter. A letter he doesn’t think will ever see the light of day until a chance meeting in the physics lab. That chance meeting was kismet.

Levi helps Ally stand up for himself while dazzling him with his shiny sparkly.

Levi inched closer, all shining and bright and warm, his presence as steady and unerring as the sun.


I like the sentiment of Te Quiero and am intrigued by the series, but it fell into the instalove category for me and skipped over many of the steps I enjoy reading in romance. There wasn't enough for me to sink my teeth into to fully invest in them as a couple. Yet.

But now I know what all the Fleet fuss is about and if you’ve not experienced it for yourself, you’re missing out.


SRAL thought...



"My heart is going to fucking burst. It'll probably be really messy. You sure you want to be around for that?"
Effervescent.

That's how Te Quiero made me feel while reading:


I just want dance in the fizz of Suki Fleet's metaphors and let characters' love bubble all over my face. Or do what that water is doing above. ;)

For my second Fleet read, I think it's safe to say this is Fleet-lite category. There is very low angst, it barely gets to sound out the word angst...basically A-N-G--, oh lookit, it's a shy, awkward boy getting some love finally all thanks to a sweet lover letter!

For a short read, less than 60 pgs, I have tons of quotes.

"We're in this together. It's going to be okay," he whispered. "We're going to make everything okay. Really okay, not just pretend okay."

See it all started with a college boy being violated...

Alejandro aka Ally, is an Argentinian-Brit in college, working at a pub and has his intimate pictures splashed on the internet by his jerk of an ex as retaliation. He goes to the only private computer lab at his university that he could come up with at the time, the Physics lab. FYI: Ally hates physics, as do I, therefore it was love at first read for me and the South American. Ally's privacy gets accidentally invaded by shy, awkward, silver haired former classmate and hall mate, Levi. And a page of a love letter written in Spanish ends up being the mistake that ever happened for either young man.

Fleet portrays the devastation of being publicly humiliated juxtaposes it with a white knight in an unlikely hero and creates finally landing your crush magic. I kept looking at the bottom of my Kindle hoping the end wasn't near as I continued reading. I couldn't help that bubbly feeling the more I read.


Levi was so earnest and sweet. I ate his words. I loved his words. And his passion. I love, LOVE, when the awkward guy leads. Oh! Fleet's skinny, blond boys are going to do me in.
"I think I should warn you I'm not very good at this."
"If you got any better at it, you'd have me on my knees."
I loved the word play and thoughts in this story. I think Fleet got the feelings down pretty well. I'm not one for metaphors unless they're done well and I really think Fleet got the job done in little more than a day for the students.

This story is a beginning.

And those are my favorite of favoritest parts of relationships, that honeymoon period: where wishes seems attainable and the simplest things are magical. And though I riding the foamy waves, this story could've been longer. It's a series (yes, I know) and for a short, it ends at a good spot...some things were left hanging. Ex's like Ally's...they don't go down without a fight...*squints* So I hope I'll see more of him. Also some of the story's transitions between the main characters actions seemed slightly sped up when comparing to their pace. I could've done with a little more length.

"If this is the vast wilderness of love," I whispered my mouth against his cheek, "let's get lost in it together."

I'm down for more fizz. Pour me another glass!




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Review: But First Must Come the Storm by Brooke Radley

On the blustery first day of her fall semester, twenty-year-old Millie Carrera is determined to start her junior year on the right foot. She has a great GPA, a nice apartment, and if she plays her cards right, she might even graduate a semester early. It’s everything she ever wanted. That is, until she runs into Summer Evans.

Literally.

Summer is older, gorgeous, and because of Millie, has coffee seeping through the front of her blouse. She also happens to be Millie’s new Science Writing professor. Millie worries their embarrassing encounter may haunt her for the entire semester, and Summer’s lingering glances don’t make her feel any less self-conscious. Millie makes every effort to get back into Summer’s good graces, and soon she can’t tell if she’s drawn more by guilt or attraction.

Summer’s passion for her subject strikes a chord with Millie, who wants desperately to get to know her better. Astoundingly, Summer seems to want the same thing.

As the two get to know each other, their friendship grows into something more—something forbidden. Acting upon their feelings would jeopardize Millie’s education and Summer’s job, but when they’re together, it’s hard to care. Will they be able to keep their hands off each other long enough to get through finals, or will the semester end in heartbreak?


Millie is a sweet character. I enjoyed learning about her. She is a pretty typical college student, worried about classes, and ensuring every paper she turns in is perfect. She also seems to enjoy socialising. Not the social butterfly, but enough to know she isn’t reclusive or particularly introverted. She is quietly out about her sexuality, but not hiding it. She is part of the LGBTQI community on campus. She appears to have a confidence in herself as a person with only minor social anxieties and insecurities that is expected from all twenty year olds.

Summer is driven, and working towards tenure at the university. A professor of Science Writing (whatever that is) and working on a book, she is focused on academics and has no time for dating, until she crosses paths with Millie, and all she can think about is the beautiful, younger woman. I didn’t get the same depth of character with Summer as I did with Millie. Both points of view are shared, but I found Millie to be more thoroughly developed than Summer. Summer was still likeable, but I found that I became frustrated with her, and her indecision. Yes, the Professor/Student dynamic was restrictive, but Summer as the older and more experienced, should have been able to control herself a little better, and not go hot and cold all the time.

This story was a slow build romance. The limitations of their unbalanced relationship created more time to build character and plot. There was a lot of information about classes that Millie attended, which was different, and kind of fun. Some of it dragged, because really, I don’t care about Science Writing, but it wasn’t completely boring. I did enjoy some of the interactions in the classroom.

The supporting characters were developed well enough. Millie’s room mate had a personality, although it wasn’t as well developed as I would have liked. There was more time spent inside Millie’s and Summer’s head than with interactions between supporting characters.

While I enjoyed Millie and Summer together, I wasn’t completely invested in them as a couple. I didn’t believe that Summer was really worth the drama. That may be harsh, but I found her flip-flopping and angst to be a turn off. Of the two of them, Millie seemed to be the one with more of a level head. That may have been a personality thing, but I couldn’t quite tell.

The writing was good, and the story was well developed. I didn’t have any trouble following the plot, and I liked the general story well enough. Generally low angst, the troubles this couple faced was believable, and there wasn’t anything that created more drama than necessary. There was some heat, but given the storyline, it was minimal. I’m not usually one for UST but it wasn’t built up too much only to go unresolved. The chemistry was there, and there was no fade to black, which I appreciated. The sexy times were heated, but a little short. I would have enjoyed more from those stolen moments.

This was solid read for those who enjoy lesbian romance. It was gentle, and heartwarming for the most part. It is recommended for those who want an easy read, with a nice storyline and a satisfying ending.



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Learn more about But First Must Come the Storm:

Author Bio

Brooke Radley wrote her first story, a fantastical adventure including dragons and castles overrun with ghosts, when she was five years old. She has a degree in English from Virginia Tech. Her first published novel, Nightshade, was released in November 2015. She lives in Chesapeake with her two dogs.

Website: www.brookeradley.com
Twitter: www.twitter.com/brooke_radley
Email: brooke@brookeradley.com


Excerpt
Brooke Radley © 2016
All rights reserved

Once halftime started, she made a run for the concession stand, eager to get something warm. The line already wrapped around the corner, but the cinderblocks prevented most of the cool wind from entering the area, so Millie didn’t mind the wait. She rubbed her hands together and bounced on her feet to stay warm.

By the time she got to the front of the line, they were running low on hot chocolate and were out of whipped cream. The drink came in a flimsy Styrofoam cup, but it was warm enough to bring feeling back to her fingers. Millie found a small nook several feet away from the concession stand. The area was starting to clear out, but Millie didn’t want to get in the way of anyone scrambling for a snack last minute. Zack and Alex were likely chatting about video games again, and Millie wanted a few minutes to herself. She cradled the beverage and shut her eyes, enjoying the warmth. When she opened them again, Summer stood in front of her, an indecipherable look on her face.

“Good drink?” Summer asked. The corners of her lips turned up into a small smile.

“Enjoying the warmth, actually. It’s cold out there.”

Summer eyed Millie’s outfit, then tutted. “Why didn’t you bring a jacket?”

“I forgot to,” Millie said. She gave Summer an embarrassed smile and attempted to change the subject. “I didn’t expect to see you here! Are you enjoying the game?”

“Yeah, absolutely!” Summer swallowed and looked away. Millie frowned, but her concern was forgotten when Summer stepped closer. Warmth radiated off of Summer, as did the floral scent that almost always clung to her. They were inches apart. Millie’s breath caught in her throat, and she stared up at Summer, her lips parted in surprise. A group of students passed them, and Millie realized Summer had come closer to step out of their way. Millie expected Summer to move back, but Summer remained in place. “What about you?” she asked, her voice quiet enough that Millie had to strain to make out the words. “You look like you’re having fun with your boyfriend and Alex.”

Millie took a step back. She hit the wall and put a hand out to steady herself. Her palm brushed against the gritty concrete, scraping the skin. Summer, surprised by Millie’s retreat, froze in place. “My boyfriend?” Millie asked, not sure she’d heard Summer right. “Alex didn’t tell you?”

“Tell me what?” Summer asked.

Millie couldn’t help herself; she let out a giggle. Summer’s lips drew into a thin line, but she didn’t frown.

“I thought he had. I didn’t think he would keep it a secret, after he told me about…” Millie trailed off, the smile falling from her face. She cleared her throat and straightened her stance. Summer tilted her head. “I’m gay,” Millie said with a shrug. “The guy I’m with is my roommate, Zack.”

Summer’s eyebrows rose, but she quickly schooled her face into a more neutral expression. Millie had to bite the inside of her cheek to keep herself from saying anything else. “I’m sorry,” Summer said. “I shouldn’t have assumed.”

“It’s fine,” Millie said.

“No, it’s not. I should have known better than to automatically assume that you two were together. I’m here with one of my friends, too. Dr. Nguyen.”

Millie did her best not to react. She didn’t know why Summer felt compelled to clarify whom she was with. It wasn’t as if Summer thought Millie would be jealous or that she was owed an explanation. Just because Millie got to call Summer by her first name didn’t mean anything. They were just friends.

The concession stand had cleared out and the game had begun again. If she didn’t head back to the stands soon, she knew either Alex or Zack would come looking for her.

Summer took a half step closer, a contemplative look on her face. Slowly, she began to unwrap the zebra-print scarf she’d worn over her coat.

“I think you need this more than I do,” Summer said.

She held it out to Millie, who shook her head. “You don’t have to lend me your scarf. I’m okay.”

“I insist.”

Millie hesitated and then held her hand out. Summer placed the scarf into her palm.

“Thank you,” Millie said. She wrapped it around her neck. The scents of laundry detergent and flowers filled her nose. Millie tugged at it, trying to get it away from her face. She wouldn’t be able to focus at all if she had Summer’s scent surrounding her. Summer reached out to help her adjust the scarf. Her hand trailed over Millie’s shoulder before she grasped onto the cloth and pulled it to the side.

“It looks good on you,” Summer said softly. The back of her hand brushed down the front of the scarf, smoothing out the folds of fabric. Millie looked down just as Summer pulled away. Her fingers were long and slim, her nails shiny with a clear polish. Summer let her hand fall to her side. “I should head back out,” she said. “Susan is probably wondering where I went.”

“Same,” Millie said. “I’m surprised nobody’s come looking for me yet.”

Cheers erupted from the stadium above them. Summer tilted her head toward the exit, and Millie silently followed after her. They stepped out into the open air as the canon went off, the loud crack echoing through campus. The teams were lining up for a new play as the crowds continued to celebrate the recent touchdown. Nobody was watching them. Summer squeezed Millie’s upper arm to get her attention. When Millie looked up at Summer, Summer gave her a quick wave. Millie mirrored the action and then watched as Summer returned to her seat.

Millie went to hers a minute later. She’d thought she’d slipped in unnoticed, but Alex’s eyes flickered between Millie and Summer before he gave Millie a knowing look. Millie pretended not to see it and instead focused on the game.

Alex could think what he wanted, Millie decided. She and Summer were just friends. She repeated it over and over in her mind, but in the end, she wasn’t sure whom she was trying to convince..

Review: Maestro by M. Crane Hana

Gay and happily married, Leo has helped manage a large, influential nonprofit arts foundation over the past ten years. He has built a friendly rapport with the elderly billionaire who began it, but he has enemies within the foundation.

Leo’s birthday is on February 13, and that has always meant candles on heart-shaped cupcakes and birthday cards with “Happy Valentine’s Day” crossed out. To celebrate, Andrew, Leo’s mystery writer husband, arranges a tryst for Leo with Mel, a gifted violinist who is one of Andrew’s biggest fans.

What started as mere pleasure becomes a three-part harmony as Leo, Andrew, and Mel explore the ways their kinks and needs mesh—until Leo’s enemies attempt to use evidence of the liaison to force him out of his job.



Loved this set-up for a threesome. It was so different to anything I’ve read before. Andrew and Leo are married and have an open relationship... well Andrew does. They have an agreement where Andrew can have as many ‘trysts’ as he likes as long as he uses a condom. Leo knows Andrew will be coming back to him at the end of the day… or the next morning, so he’s happy with the open relationship. Leo has only ever been with Andrew and is happy to keep it that way, that is until he meets Mel (also called ‘Irish’). Mel is one of Andrew’s trysts, and his birthday present to Leo.

A few things felt off with their relationship, despite how much I liked the premise of an open relationship. Even though Andrew having trysts is a mutual decision and agreed upon, Leo still uses words such as ‘cheating’ and ‘being faithful’ which made me feel like that's how he saw it, that made me uncomfortable. It’s like he had only agreed to the open relationship to make Andrew happy, not because he was comfortable with it.

Then the connection between the three was fairly rushed, but I generally give leniency in that regard to novellas because there is just not enough time to establish a strong relationship. That being said I liked the way these three interacted with each other, each character was unique and I could clearly see what Mel could add to Leo and Andrews relationship.

The sexual tension and build-up to the threesome was well done. We got to see Leo’s thoughts and concerns about entering into a threesome for the first time and Andrew reassuring him. There were some subtle D/S tones in the sex which was hot. Also a pretty sensual blindfolded, food sex scene which was delicious in every sense of the word.

There was a weird sub-plot about Leo dealing with some homophobic pricks at work which I was half interested in, but this took up too much of an already short storyline. Also, Leo’s work issue resolution was the last scene of the book instead of the three establishing where they'd move on from their night together. It felt a little incomplete.

Definitely a solid HFN. All in all a fun, sexy, unique threesome novella, with a few little niggly issues.


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Purchase Links:

NineStar Press: http://ninestarpress.com/product/maestro/
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Maestro-M-Crane-Hana-ebook/dp/B01BK0NI52

Interested in knowing more about the author and peek at Maestro? Check it out below!

Author Bio

M. Crane Hana lives in a flat place filled with cactus. She writes romances in all flavors, spends too much time world building her sword & planet fantasies and space operas, and makes museum-grade artifacts from cultures that never existed. Publishing credits: (as Marian Crane) ‘The Blood Orange Tree’, Such A Pretty Face anthology, Meisha-Merlin 2000. ‘Saints and Heroes’, Thrones of Desire anthology, Cleis Press 2012. (As M.C Hana) Moro’s Price M/M erotic romance space opera, Loose Id 2012. Novel-length erotic romance and mainstream fantasy and science fiction work represented by literary agent Cherry Weiner.

Email: cranehanabooks@gmail.com
Website: www.cranehanabooks.com/blog
Twitter: https://twitter.com/MCHana2
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MC-Hana-293621984123226/
Wattpad: https://www.wattpad.com/user/CraneHana
Tumblr: http://cranehana.tumblr.com/

Excerpt
M. Crane Hana © 2016
All rights reserved

Above the din of subway crowds and canned music, Leo heard a thread of sound so lovely and incongruous he stopped in the turnstile. Somewhere out on the platform amid the echoing tiles and concrete, someone attempted Gershwin. On a violin. Rather well. From only a few bars, Leo placed Porgy and Bess.
“Sir? Are you okay?” said one voice among the stalled commuters behind him.
Then another: “Get moving, man. We don’t got all morning!”
Leo risked some nastier comments when he backed out of the line. He “accidentally” rapped the angriest of the commenters with his briefcase on the way. Once free, he stopped caring about the subway, his job, and the meeting. Only the music mattered, as it shifted into “Rhapsody in Blue” before he rounded a corner.
A broad-shouldered young man in worn khakis and a tan flannel shirt made love to a violin. Rapt, swept up in a world of his own, the violinist paid little attention to the commuters hurrying along. The black vinyl instrument case lay open at his feet, its scarlet lining forlornly framing a few scattered one-dollar bills.
Leo felt insulted on his behalf. Then he looked beyond the young man’s beautiful hands to his face.
Freckled ivory skin. Short red-gold curls brushing against a clean-shaven square jaw. A full mouth currently set in concentration and such long copper eyelashes, fluttering half-closed in musical ecstasy! Leo had seen the man before, but couldn’t place where or when.
The violinist lifted his chin and stared right at Leo, through him, seeing only the music. Until Leo moved, and the other man’s pale blue-green gaze went from Leo’s face to the scarf draped around Leo’s shoulders. One note, not quite missed, revealed the violinist’s sudden intake of breath. Then he smiled hesitantly over the last bars of “Rhapsody.”
Leo recognized the violinist’s incongruous tie, the fall of ice-blue silk jacquard woven in the same crystalline Art Deco pattern bordering the scarf. His husband, Andrew, had commissioned them together, two ties and two scarves, matching a motif they’d both loved since honeymooning in Barcelona. It wasn’t likely the old haberdasher had made a duplicate set since then.
So, Andrew gave the boy his tie? Leo shuffled through possibilities, settled on “they already know each other,” and waited for a sick jolt of jealousy to claw up his spine. He and Andrew, they’d had their rough patches early on. What couple hadn’t? Instead, low heat settled in Leo’s belly, as he thought of his husband and this young man together.
Where the hell did that come from? He’d known about Andrew’s rare, careful trysts. A one-man guy, Leo had never wanted to be involved in them before.
The redhead was something special, and oh, that music! No wonder Andrew had been frisky. Andrew’s recovering libido was a gift Leo wanted to experience over and over, whatever the cause.
He could so clearly imagine his husband and this milky-skinned musician, twined together in bed. God, yes. If it had already happened, good for them. If it hadn’t, it needed to happen. Preferably with Leo in the room. Hell, in the bed, please.
He swallowed and forced himself to fall back into the music. Leo swallowed, trying to throttle down this new, overwhelming need.
Train cars emptied, a few more people paused for a moment or three, but the latest crowd didn’t break ranks in their march toward the subway exits. Finally, Leo and the violinist were alone on the platform.
After one final trill of music, the redhead lifted his bow from the strings. “Mr. Leo Ellson?” he asked in a Northern Irish lilt, before swallowing.