Saturday, September 23, 2017

Empty Net by Avon Gale (audiobook)

Title:  Empty Net
Author: Avon Gale
My Rating: A
Narrator: Scott R. Smith

Genre: New Adult Romance (m/m)
Series: Scoring Chances #4
Main Characters: Isaac and Laurent
Release Date: January 2017 (audiobook)
Publisher: Dreamspinner
Links to Purchase
Sexual Intensity: hot

Story Overview:
Spartanburg Spitfires’ goalie and captain Isaac Drake ended last season with an unexpected trip to the playoffs. He’s found a home and family with his coach and mentor, Misha Samarin, and he’s looking forward to making a serious run for the Kelly Cup. But things take an interesting turn when Isaac’s archnemesis, Laurent St. Savoy, is traded to the Spitfires. After Laurent’s despicable behavior in the playoffs last year, Isaac wants nothing to do with him – no matter how gorgeous he is. But that changes when Isaac discovers the reason for Laurent’s attitude.

Laurent St. Savoy grew up the only son of a legendary NHL goalie in a household rife with abuse, constantly treated like a disappointment on and off the ice. When a desperate attempt to escape his father’s tyranny sends him to the Spitfires, the last thing Laurent wants is to make friends. But there’s something about Isaac Drake that he can’t resist, and Laurent has an opportunity to explore his sexuality for the first time, but he’s cracking under end-of-the season pressures. When facing the playoffs and a rivalry turned personal vendetta, Isaac’s not sure he’s enough to hold Laurent—or their relationship—together.

Please be advised: This book does contain some non-graphic references to past childhood physical/emotional abuse as well as issues relating to ED (bulimia and restricted eating, disordered thoughts about eating).

My Review:
Overall: 4.5
Performance: 4.5
Story: 4.75

I do love this series, but wow...this installment surpassed my high expectations. It was such a good story. 

Laurent is a character that we've known (and hated) from one of the other books. He was traded to the Spitfires after an awful ending to their game last year where he spit in Isaac's face. But as it is with the most angst-filled characters...there are very good reasons for his actions, even if they are still unforgivable. Laurent had an incredible character arc in this book. My heart broke for him as his story unfolded, but I love that Isaac gave him a chance, when he really shouldn't have.

And that brings us to Isaac, who is an incredible character. I challenge you to not fall in love with him. He's just such a good guy and I love how he handles Laurent. Laurent has tons of serious issues, but Isaac handles him with patience and empathy. He sees when Laurent is about to do or say something stupid and always manages to pull him back from that edge beautifully. 

I loved this story so, so much. I loved how big of a part coaches, Max and Misha, played in the story as I truly love them and how they take care of their team. It was simply a great audiobook. I highly recommend it. 

Friday, September 22, 2017

For A Rainy Afternoon by RJ Scott (audiobook)

Title:  For A Rainy Afternoon
Author: RJ Scott
My Rating: B
Narrator: Ian Gordon

Genre: Contemporary Romance (m/m)
Series: Tales of the Curious Cookbook
Main Characters: Robbie and Jason
Release Date: September 2015 (audiobook)
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Links to Purchase
Sexual Intensity: spicy

Story Overview:
Robbie MacIntyre manages a small post office in the old Station House on the outskirts of sleepy Barton Hartshourn northwest of London. He’s stunned when the owner, Maggie, a close friend, bequeaths him not only the post office, but also Station House. 

The rest of her estate is left to an American writer, Jason Young, and when he moves to the village, Robbie is thrown by the attraction he has for the man who has more of a claim on the Station House than he does.

Then there is a box that holds several rare first editions and a cookbook. Only when the secrets of the ingredients in a particular recipe are finally revealed does everything begin to make sense, and a love cut short seventy years earlier is finally discovered.
My Quickie Review:
Overall: 3.5
Performance: 3.25
Story: 3.5

This was a quick, quirky little story. Robbie lives in a tiny little English village where he runs the local post office. When his benefactor dies, her death brings some interesting changes...most notably his new neighbor, Jason. 

This one was different from the other two stories that I've read in this anthology in that this one is set in England. Having lived in England for two years where I remember the tiny little villages just like this one with fondness, reading this book was like a little mini-vacay back there. I loved that aspect of it. 

It's a quick story, a sweet romance, and a fun diversion for a couple of hours.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Rogue Soldier by Jamie Lynn Miller

Title: Rogue Soldier
Author: Jamie Lynn Miller
My Rating: B

Genre: Military Suspense (m/m)
Series: Shadow Unit #2
Main Characters: Connor and Shawn
Release Date: September 2016
Links to Purchase
Sexual Intensity:  spicy

Story Overview:
Shadow Unit may have overturned the illegal arms cartel in Kuala Lumpur, but the harrowing undercover op left emotional scars on Sergeants Shawn Weller and Connor Finley. Slowly, patiently, they piece their partnership back together, closer now than ever before.

Until a new mission threatens to tear them apart.

When Connor accidentally kills a civilian, he questions his job, his abilities, his worth. A timely offer of promotion seems his only way out, even though it means transferring out of Shadow Unit and away from Shawn.

The arrival of Julian Montgomery, Shawn's former CIA handler and lover, further strains their relationship. Julian knows all of Shawn's secrets as well as the past Shawn has kept hidden from Connor. Now the self-serving Julian wants Shawn back--with the CIA and with him. No one will get in his way. Including Connor.

When the joint Shadow Unit/CIA mission to stop the supplier of a deadly biological weapon goes sideways, Connor is captured, tortured, and used as a human test subject. It's a race against time to save his life. But who can Shawn trust?

And who has gone rogue?

Missed Shawn and Connor's earlier adventures? Read BROKEN SOLDIER, available from your favorite retailer.

My Review:

I'll admit right off the top here that there are a few series that I read for the secret pleasure. This series is one of those. There's nothing even remotely believable about the military setup, but I'm okay with putting disbelief aside to read this one...because flat out, I enjoy the books. I like Connor and Shawn and the drama in their oh-so-very-fake lives. I'm okay with that. I know what I'm going to get going into the story. ;)

This book isn't quite as harsh as the first book in the series in the details of the mission the guys are on, but that doesn't mean it's not harrowing...because it really, really is. I bought this book and planned on just reading a chapter or two. A few hours later, I closed out the book on my kindle...completely finished with it. I honestly had no intention of doing that today. I had other things to get done, but that is the allure of these stories. They suck you in and you can't look away. 

While I didn't enjoy this one quite as much as the first, I did still find it riveting and can't wait to dive into book #3 in the series....AFTER I get my work done...LOL

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Sugar Pine Trail by RaeAnne Thayne

Title: Sugar Pine Trail
Author: RaeAnne Thayne
My Rating: A-

Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Haven Point #7
Main Characters: Julia and Jamie
Release Date: September 2017
Publisher: Harlequin
Links to Purchase
Sexual Intensity: mild

Story Overview:
An unlikely attraction brings comfort, joy and unforgettable romance this holiday season!

Librarian Julia Winston is ready to ditch the quiet existence she's been living. She's made a list of new things to experience, but falling for Jamie Caine, her sexy military pilot neighbor, isn't one of them. Julia's looking to conquer life, not become the heartbreaker's latest conquest. But when two young brothers wind up in Julia's care for the holidays, she'll take any help she can get—even Jamie's. 

Happy to step in, Jamie reveals a side of himself that's much harder to resist. Not only is he fantastic with kids, he provides the strength Julia needs to tackle her list. She knows their temporary family can't last beyond the holidays, but the closer she gets to Jamie, the more she wonders if things could be this merry and bright forever…

My Review:
Aww, this book made me cry (and I was finishing reading it in the middle of a group of parents waiting for kids at gymnastics, so it wasn't exactly an opportune time to be bawling over a book). So, yeah...crying is an automatic recommendation from me. A book with characters that will move me to that point is a really well developed and written book.

So, this book...first of all...for book lovers everywhere, this one features a librarian as the heroine. And Julia is a bit of a stereotypic librarian. She's a homebody living in her big, rambling Victorian house with the three cats that she inherited from her mom. 

Jamie moved into her upstairs apartment as a temporary thing while his condo was getting finished. Jamie is fairly famous for both his charm and not sticking. He's not looking for a relationship. Julia has had a crush on him for years, and he doesn't remember ever meeting her although they've met several times. Yeah, it's sad. He's not a bad guy. He's just that good looking and personable...and Julia is not. 

But this change in living arrangements is not the only huge change in Julia's life. She finds two young boys in her library and things become even more of an upheaval. 

There are so many sweet moments in this book. There are two young boys kind of lost in this world, as well as two adults that didn't realize that they were both kind of fumbling through, too. Add in the holidays and I loved it.

It's definitely a sweet romance and I enjoyed reading it.

I received a complimentary copy of this book in return for an honest review.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Breaching the Contract by Chantel Fernando

Title: Breaching the Contract
Author: Chantal Fernando
My Rating: A-

Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Conflict of Interest #1
Main Characters: Katerina and Tristan
Release Date: September 2017
Publisher: Pocket Star
Links to Purchase
Sexual Intensity: hot

Story Overview:
New York Times bestselling author Chantal Fernando returns with BREACHING THE CONTRACT, book one in a brand new series—The Conflict of Interest Series—about a brigade of lawyers who, despite being bad boys at heart, always end up just on the right side of the law.

Katerina Dawson knows exactly what she wants from life. And as the new associate at the top law firm in the city, she’s ready to live out her dreams of becoming a criminal lawyer. But going on coffee runs and babysitting kids during the day was definitely not what she had in mind. She knows that anyone else would kill to be in her shoes, but she has to draw the line somewhere. That’s easier said than done, though, when Kat has to confront her handsome boss…

Tristan Channing and Jaxon Bentley run a successful law firm together and the two partners couldn’t be busier right now. When Jaxon suddenly takes a leave of absence, Tristan begrudgingly assumes responsibility of the new associate, the hot new associate, who has curves for days. Needing to keep his distance from her, Tristan sends Kat on needless errands and has her doing work even an intern wouldn’t touch, like picking up his kids. But his plan backfires when he sees his children grow attached to Kat and sees her getting comfortable in his home. It triggers something deep within him, and it feels right to have her there. Will Tristan be able to keep his work and personal lives separate, or will he find that his heart holds the final verdict?

My Review:
When I started reading this book and realized just how short it was (it can easily be read in a couple of hours), I didn't have high hopes for it. I am so happy to report that I was completely wrong. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and didn't feel like the story details were ever short-changed. 

The book is short so I'm not going to write a long review, because I don't want to give any spoilers. I liked that Tristan and Katerina met before they were in a professional setting. It immediately set up the sexual chemistry between the two. I hated what Tristan did to combat that, but it did set up for an interesting dichotomy between Katerina and Tristan's kids. 

I loved Katerina and just how efficient she is at her job, even with all the extra duties. I also really liked the whole office setting. It seemed to feel a bit more laidback than I would expect a normal law office to feel. I liked that and am definitely looking forward to the next book. 

Personally, I enjoyed this one. It's a great story with very little time commitment needed. Sometimes that is just the perfect thing you need with life's time commitments. For that reason, I recommend this one!

I received a complimentary copy of this book in return for an honest review. 

Bad Boy's Bard by E.J. Russell

Title: Bad Boy's Bard
Author: E.J. Russell
My Rating: B

Genre: Paranormal Romance (m/m)
Series: Fae Out of Water #3
Main Characters: Gareth and Niall
Release Date: September 2017
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Links to Purchase
Sexual Intensity: mild

Story Overview:
As far as rock star Gareth Kendrick, the last true bard in Faerie, is concerned, the only good Unseelie is . . . well . . . there’s no such thing. Two centuries ago, an Unseelie lord abducted Gareth’s human lover, Niall, and Gareth has neither forgotten nor forgiven.

Niall O’Tierney, half-human son of the Unseelie King, had never lost a wager until the day he swore to rid the Seelie court of its bard. That bet cost him everything: his freedom, his family—and his heart. When he’s suddenly face-to-face with Gareth at the ceremony to join the Seelie and Unseelie realms, Niall does the only thing inhumanly possible: he fakes amnesia. Not his finest hour, perhaps, but he never revealed his Unseelie heritage, and to tell the truth now would be to risk Gareth’s revulsion—far harder to bear than two hundred years of imprisonment.

Then a new threat to Gareth’s life arises, and he and Niall stage a mad escape into the Outer World, only to discover the fate of all fae resting on their shoulders. But before they can save the realm, they have to tackle something really tough: mending their own broken relationship.

My Review:
Gareth has been in all the books. He's the last true bard...meaning, he can cause people to feel emotion and act certain ways through his music. Gareth has been a tragic figure throughout the series. He was deeply in love with a human who was killed 200 years ago. Gareth never recovered from that loss and truly has no plans to. He's on the verge of cutting all ties to Fae so he can live a mortal life with an end in sight. But then he finds out that his love is still alive. 

What Gareth doesn't know is that Niall was never honest with Gareth about who he was or what he was doing with the bard. He's spent the last 200 years trying to protect Gareth and now also thinks that the man he loved is dead, so he's as shocked as Gareth when they meet again. He's so shocked that he continues with the lies...something that has devastating and far-reaching consequences for Fae. 

There are so many lies between the two men, it takes quite a while before they manage to sort it all out and what exactly is happening back in Fae...where they can't re-enter. I liked the aspect of the story that dwelled on the guys and the slow rebuilding of their relationship. Honestly, I would love a follow-up story focused on just the two of them and their relationship so I could truly immerse myself in their story because it got a little lost in the drama of the Fae world in this book. 

Because the brothers have been mired in Fae politics throughout the entire trilogy, that whole aspect of the story line is coming to a head in this story. As a result, there is a lot of complex mechanisms at work. Those details are extensive and weigh down the story at times with confusing details that are hard to follow. So, for me, this was my least favorite book of the trilogy because I couldn't follow all the details. For it to really work well, I think the books would need to be read back to back. 

So, needless to say I recommend you read all three of these books together. 

I received a complimentary copy of this book in return for an honest review.

Covet by Yolande Kleinn

Title: Covet 
Author: Yolande Kleinn
My Rating: B+

Genre: Erotic Romance (m/m/m)
Main Characters: Jack and Colin and Peter
Release Date: September 2017
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Links to Purchase

Sexual Intensity: erotic

Story Overview:
Jack Mason—graphic designer and unrepentant player—has never been interested in monogamy. He certainly isn’t looking for romance when he meets Professor Colin Sloan.

Newly single and not looking for anything serious, Colin is intrigued by Jack’s offer of a physical affair with no strings attached. Becoming friends wasn’t part of the plan, but as accidents go, this one’s pretty great.

Peter Mason is Jack’s identical twin. In a long-term relationship himself, Peter tells no one that he’s falling for his brother’s newest favorite, even as the secret creates tension with his girlfriend.

When Peter’s relationship falls apart, he seduces Colin, fully expecting Jack to forgive his transgression. But Jack is keeping secrets too—he hasn't told even Colin that he’s fallen in love. Suddenly the twins are feuding, and Colin is caught in the middle, blindsided by the revelation that he doesn’t want to choose between them.

Now all three must find a way to share, or they’ll tear each other apart.

My Review:
I'm trying to figure out how to write this review. The book description is really good, but what it doesn't tell you that I think is important is that the issue in this book is really between the two brothers. 

Colin and Jack have a very open relationship. Colin just came out of a five year relationship and has no desire to have anything more. Neither does first. But things change for Jack, but if he tells Colin that, Colin will dump him. So he goes along letting Colin think that for Jack it's just sex. 

Peter and Colin are friends because of their mutual tie to Jack. They get the point where Peter and his girlfriend break up. This is where things get tricky because as close as Jack and Peter are, they aren't telling one another what is going on in their love lives. Peter has no idea Jack is serious. Jack has no idea Peter is having problems with his girlfriend.

Never is this a betrayal about cheating...and that's an important thing to note because that's a big trigger for some people. This is about the two brothers and what happens when they aren't upfront between the two of them. Theirs is the relationship suffering in this book. 

Also, it's the fact that they're brothers that lends both the conflict and how things actually work in this story. No one knows what to do, how to make this work. It's really a fascinating story. 

Note: the writing for the first ten to fifteen percent of the book is a little ragged. There is a lot of passive voice to what's happening that makes it difficult to engage with the book. Keep reading. Eventually the author settles into the story and it turns out to be a really good read.

I received a complimentary copy of this book in return for an honest review.