Thrive

Reviewed by Lost in a Book

4 Stars

I’m a fan of this Guardian series Aly Martinez. She’s one of the very few M/F authors where I’ll read whatever she writes (bonus points because she can write a damn good M/M, too). We just click and this next book in the Guardian series isn’t any different.

This angsty, suspenseful, and sexy second chance romance is set up with a long separation period. A lot of life happens in the 17 years that the MCs were separated and unfortunately for Lark and Mira, it wasn’t filled with happiness.

Seventeen years ago, Lark and Mira were in love, with stars in their eyes, and plans of a future. There was just one teeny tiny problem… Mira’s actual boyfriend, Kurt. They were young, dumb, and dysfunctional. When it came time for Mira to pick, she chose Kurt.

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It was completely evident that Kurt was a cheating (I know, pot/kettle) jackass and she STILL chose him. *Grrrr* Anyway, fast forward time and Lark is a successful badass/Mira hater working with a private security firm while Mira is living in the slums, divorced, and now scared for her life. Good thing Mira is a little Lark stalker because she knows just where to find him when her life and her friend’s life is in jeopardy.

What starts as a hesitant phone call for help sends Mira and Lark on rollercoaster of danger, action, clarity, crime, drug lords, shootings, and kidnappings. And sex. And arguing. Lark taking on Mira’s case brings them in close contact 24/7 while they piece together the reasons behind her new danger. They have a truck load of old hurts to wade through while forging a path for the future. They are hot together. Smoking. But, Mira also argued or had a “snit fit” A LOT. Luckily for her, Lark got off on all the attitude. Unfortunately for me, Mira drove me bat shit crazy when she went off. *shrug* I believed their connection and chemistry. I felt their hurt from 17 years ago and how they hadn’t *really* moved past it even as the years passed them by. I fully appreciated the road they took to get their HEA. They moved fast but they also didn’t hide the hurt, hate, frustration, confusion, and most importantly, love.

The secondary characters were awesome in this one as well as the first. The Guardians are a bunch of gossiping biddies who are quite efficient in their jobs because they have a bunch of time to interfere. At least their interference was comical and I can’t wait for the other guys to get their stories. Especially Johnson *dreamy sigh* because I just know it’s gonna be an epic M/M (or MMF). Another thing I absolutely love about Martinez’s writes is the ability to include past characters from previous books without being awkward or gratuitous. There’s a purpose as they are mentioned/connected and a new reader to her writes wouldn’t feel lost at their inclusion.

This book won’t leave you wanting as the epilogue is *very* thorough. I definitely recommend this and will wait not so patiently for the next man up.

 Copy provided for honest review.

 

Rebel (415 Ink) #1

Reviewed for @BMBR

4.5 Stars

My oh My this was an angsty read.

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On face value it has many of my favorite elements. Rough upbringing? Check. Tattoos? Mmmhmm, Yep. Tortured and broody MC(s)? Oh yes. Then, when I actually started reading it, so many more of my hot spots were being hit. Slow burn, patch-work family, overcoming crippling obstacles, etc… All were a big yes, please. Hell, I was even all about the second chance aspects of this romance when it isn’t something I actively seek.

Three years have gone by since Rey walked away from Gus. Both men have scars from their childhood but Gus’ are much deeper than Rey’s. When he walked away, it reminded Gus of every social worker, judge, foster family, parent, and random person who decided he wasn’t good enough. In the beginning I just thought Gus had a gypsy soul and kept on moving. It isn’t until the surfacing of his kid from a one night stand that he comes back home and we really get to see a different side of him and the effects of his heartbreaking past on his present circumstances.

Rey is a firefighter and best friends/roommates with Gus’ brother, Mason. We learn very early on that Mason pulled Rey out of a fire when they were younger. This solidified their bond as well as Rey’s bond with all of Gus’ brothers. Rey had his reasons for walking away when they were younger but their love for each other hasn’t dimmed over the three years. When Gus moves back to town, they have plenty of encounters and even more time to evaluate their choices.

As I mentioned, this is a slow burn. Both men have baggage and past hurts to work through. It was amazing to *see* how each man held stubbornly to their anger and as time went on, they were able to understand the other’s perspective. I also loved how they had to really work to get to a healthy place without the arrival of the magical peen to help make all the woes go away. Don’t get me wrong, they had chemistry and were H.O.T. together. But, their reconciliation was ugly, beautiful, and real. Their character arc was so transformative and I absolutely enjoyed each step of the way and where they settled.

Let’s talk about the baby mama. I LOVEEEEEEE that this wasn’t written as a bitter ex/one night stand scenario. I was thrilled that all parties acted like adults and Jules wasn’t written to be a she-bitch. Actually, all of the characters acted like adults (minus brotherly shenanigans) and it was refreshing.

It takes the entire book to fully appreciate the complexities of the characters and the role each plays. It reminded me of a kaleidoscope where the patterns can be distorted or crisp with only minor manipulation. The secondary characters of all the brothers added another dimension of angst, confusion, and clarity. Gus and Rey earned their HEA but I think that we’ll understand them even more as each brothers’ story is told. I’m down for that, especially Luke. AND Ivo with his “fuck me heels.” Oh and Bear with him being all big, growly, and soft-hearted. Actually, I just want them all.

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I really really enjoyed this book. There are still holes of information needed but I think the key to understanding each brother individually is to understand them all. Definitely recommended.

“Loving someone doesn’t mean needing them to be what you want them to be or swaddling them in bubble wrap so they can’t move. It means them knowing, deep down inside of their heart, you’re going to be there to hold them when they fall and celebrate when they fly.”

https://boymeetsboyreviews.blogspot.com

Copy provided for honest review.

Deal Maker

Reviewed for @BMBR

Buddy read review with Cupcake

4.5 Stars

Well Ladies and Gents, it’s official- Lily Morton has been added to my automatic author list. If she writes it, I’ll read it.

I really enjoyed this story with Jude and Asa along with the frequent appearances from the fabulous Dylan and Gabe.

I loved almost everything about Jude. He’s sassy, loyal, loving, funny, and intelligent. When his ceiling caves in from water damage, he’s directed to visit Asa for possible boarding in exchange for being his assistant. And man did Jude assist his ass off for Asa.

Asa. *swoon* He has this warm, friendly, intelligent, larger than life temperament that compliments Jude’s so well. He’s a gentle giant that can also be snarky and give as good as he gets. Unfortunately for Jude, Asa despises models and thinks they are all pretty much a waste of space that lack brain cells. Unfortunately for Asa, he doesn’t hide his opinion and makes it clear to Jude on their first meet exactly what he thinks of models.

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Hilarity ensues as Jude wins Oscars daily by acting the part of brainless model. I laughed my ass off at his antics and giggled as Asa begins to pick up on them as well. Both men have a ton of baggage due to family issues and burns from past relationships. They’re quick to judge and very slow to knock down the walls. Their intimate relationship progressed slowly but their emotional connection grew organically as their relationship evolved from boss/employee to friends and then finally to lovers. Their chemistry from the beginning was delicious but once the sexy times kicked in, Yowzaaaaaa. I loved (seems I keep on gushing) how nothing was rushed and I believed each stage of their relationship.

Another star of the show was Billy, Asa’s son. Billy is a cheeky little thing and connects with Jude right away. It was sweet to see that side of Jude and Asa with Billy. Being a parent of a little one that rocks the terrible twos daily, I usually stay away from books with young kids because mental breaks from real life are needed to save my sanity. However, I really enjoyed the sweetness and humor that he brought to the story.

So with all this gushing why not 5 stars? Gabe and Dylan still hold the number one spot for my heart within this series. Jude drove me a tad bit crazy at times with his inner monologue of want a relationship but I can’t. I understood his reasoning but wished that thought train wasn’t so frequent. I still love him though.

Asa and Jude got their HEA and we were given an epic sugary sweet high. Ahhh the epilogue….pure sugar, not the knock off low calorie crap but the real shit we use in the country for our sweet teas. So Good.

Just in case it isn’t clear, Loved it. Loved Asa and Jude. Loved the secondary characters (especially Peggy). Love Lily Morton. Love this series. Definitely recommended.

“Love is simple. Humans are complicated.”

P.S. I love Henry too…*hint* *hint* Henry is also a GINGERRRRR *twirls* I’ll wait not so patiently for his story. *stalks Lily again*

https://boymeetsboyreviews.blogspot.com

Copy provided for honest review.

Spotlight on Relay by Layla Reyne

“Layla Reyne is one of the most exciting new voices in queer romance, and her newest book does not disappoint. RELAY is everything you’d want in an enemies-to-lovers tale and a sports romance. While reading, I had the same heart racing excitement as I do when watching the Olympics and could not put it down.”
-RITA nominated author Santino Hassell

About the Book:

Series: Changing Lanes #1

Publisher: Riptide Publishing

Release Date (Print & Ebook): January 8th, 2018

Subgenre: M/M Contemporary Sports Romance

Link: http://riptidepublishing.com/titles/relay

Book Blurb: Captain is not a title Alejandro “Alex” Cantu takes lightly. Elected by his teammates to helm the US Men’s Swim Team, he proudly accepts the role, despite juggling endless training, team administrative work, and helping out on the family farm. And despite his ex-lover, Dane Ellis—swimming’s biggest star—also making the Olympic Team.

Dane has been a pawn in his celebrity parents’ empire from crib to pool, flashing his camera-ready smile on demand and staying deeply in the closet. Only once did he drop the act—the summer he fell in love with Alex. Ten years later, Dane longs to cut his parents’ strings, drop his too-bright smile, and beg Alex for another chance.

Alex, though, isn’t ready to forgive and forget, and Dane is a distraction he doesn’t need on his team, until an injury forces Alex to accept Dane as his medley relay anchor. Working together, their passion reignites. When Dane’s parents threaten reprisal and Alex is accused of doping, the two must risk everything to prove Alex’s innocence, to love one another, and to win back their spots on the team, together.

Teaser Excerpt:

“How’s it going in there?”

Dane opened the stall door, eyes downcast as he tried to straighten out his shirt. “There are a lot of snaps.”

Alex inhaled sharply, and before Dane could wrap his head around that sound, around the blush streaking those high cheekbones, Alex had already moved on. To standing right in front of him. “You’re supposed to leave the shirt open.”

Dane lifted his hands, and Alex batted them away. He grabbed the uneven shirttails and ripped the buttons apart, the staccato snaps mirroring Dane’s stuttering heartbeat. Alex’s grip on the chambray lingered, as did his presence in Dane’s space, and with each heaving breath, each whiff of cologne tinged with chlorine, a pore-deep scent no swimmer could shake, Dane’s paper-thin resolved shredded.

About the author:

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Author Layla Reyne was raised in North Carolina and now calls San Francisco home. She enjoys weaving her bi-coastal experiences into her stories, along with adrenaline-fueled suspense and heart pounding romance. When she’s not writing stories to excite her readers, she downloads too many books, watches too much television, and cooks too much food with her scientist husband, much to the delight of their smushed-face, leftover-loving dogs.

 

Connect with Layla: Author Site | Twitter | FB | FB Group | Pinterest | Tumblr | Instagram | Goodreads | Newsletter

Giveaway:

To celebrate the release of Relay, Layla Reyne is giving away two paperback copies of Relay. Open internationally!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Charity Release- Signs of Love

Spotlight on a Special Signs of Love Charity Release from Anyta Sunday

 

Gemini Rules Capricorn (Signs of Love #3.5)

Release Date: January 1, 2018

Book blurb:

Rules. Lloyd loves to make them. Wesley loves to break them.

What happens when their roles are reversed?

Find out in this rule-bending romp!

* ~ * ~ *

Gemini Rules Capricorn is a 4000 word sexy short story.

* ~ * ~ *

A Special message from Anyta Sunday: Thank you for all your love and support. To give back, I’m donating all net proceeds from “Gemini Rules Capricorn” between January 1st and January 31st 2018 to Human Rights Campaign. And I’ll match those proceeds up to $500!

From February 1st, “Gemini Rules Capricorn” will be available as a free download from my website.

Buy Link: http://amzn.to/2C8Fl94


Teaser

“What did we say about breaking my back?”

“That the sex would be worth it.”


About Anyta Sunday

Heart-stopping slow burn.

Anyta Sunday is a big, BIG fan of slow-burn romances. She loves to read and write stories with characters who slowly fall in love.

Some of her favorite tropes to read and write are: Enemies to Lovers, Friends to Lovers, Clueless Guys, Bisexual, Pansexual, Demisexual, Oblivious MCs, Everyone (Else) Can See It, Slow Burn, Love Has No Boundaries.

Anyta writes a variety of stories, Contemporary MM Romances with a good dollop of angst, Contemporary lighthearted MM Romances, and even a splash of fantasy. Her books have been translated into German, Italian and French.

Member of Romance Writers of America.

Connect with Anyta: Website | Twitter | Facebook | To receive a free e-book, sign up for Anyta’s newsletter here!

The Soldier Next Door

Reviewed for @BMBR

3 Stars

Holy short story Batman!! I didn’t even know I was at the end until I turned the page at 84% and hit an excerpt for another book. Umm… ok? The good news is that I was interested in reading more. The bad news was the ending was rushed and many parts throughout were glossed over, which compromised the completeness of the story.

Owen is an 18 year old recent high school grad that enlisted in the Army. He’s also a virgin and wants to cash in his v-card before he ships out for basic in a month. When his parents go on vacation and ask Travis, the next door neighbor to keep an eye on Owen, he decides that close, penetrating contact will be the best course of action. Repeatedly. Travis, being such a nice guy, is willing to help Owen out and take one for team USA.

What started as a cherry popping turned into a month long sex-fest. The men get to know each other as more than just neighbors and when Owen ships out, they continue their “relationship” during stolen moments through basic and even into Owen’s first duty station. Feelings become involved and then Owen goes radio silent and leaves behind a heartbroken Travis.

It isn’t until a July 4th BBQ five years later that the men see each other again.

So then what happens? I don’t know. It ended. They got a HEA or maybe it was a HFN? Or it’s whatever blow jobs and fire works equate to?

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There was a story there and could have definitely been expanded to be a longer novella if not novel. I enjoyed the bones of the story and the characters were likable. I wouldn’t mind a reworking to add length, a fully realized plot, and added depth to the characters beyond the shallow details that we were given. The potential is there but this is more of the CliffsNotes version than an actual, fully fleshed out story.

https://boymeetsboyreviews.blogspot.com

Copy provided for honest review.

Holding On

Reviewed for @BMBR

4 Stars

How does one classify this book? Is it a coming of age? It had all of the coming of age feels that I love: the hesitance, the self-discovery, the falling for your best friend, and the coming out. But, it also had other aspects that made me think we were dealing with characters much older than 18 year old high school seniors. Still, there were the moments of magic I crave in coming of age stories that made me pretend the other stuff didn’t exist… at least for a little while.

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Aaron is a high school senior that has it rough. An abusive, alcoholic father has been a dark cloud that finally turned into a cat 5 hurricane. Add in being homophobic to his father’s already glowing personality, a mother who stayed and endured the abuse (not judging, just recounting), a sister that witnessed it and Aaron wins the award for the crappiest luck of the draw. Aaron’s bright spot though, is his best friend Jeff who doesn’t know his two biggest secrets: abusive home life and that he’s gay.

Jeff is an amazing best friend that’s the calm in Aaron’s storm. He attends to his every need and is able to calm Aaron down from his panic attacks. He is the constant rock Aaron counts on as all hell breaks loose. Jeff is also gay and Aaron doesn’t know.

How they finally got together is beyond me. Every time they were about to make a step in the right direction, drama intervened. There was a TON of drama which meant a lonnnng delay in coming out and an even longer delay in actually communicating interest in each other.

Once they got over the overly dramatic lack of communication and the seal was broken on sex, it was balls to the wall. Errr… more like balls to the chin, hand, ass. You get my point. This was one of those areas I had to suspend my reality and pretend. Aaron and Jeff are two nerdy (but hot) high school virgins with zero girlfriends/boyfriends in the past. BUT, you wouldn’t have know based on their sex life. I’m talking zilch on hesitance, dirty talk that was seasoned, alpha male title drops (literally), fantasy sharing, etc.

“Now tell me, my sexy alpha man, what is it you want?”

There was none of the fumbling first time awkwardness. It read like college or mature adult sex which didn’t line up with their age or experience.

As I mentioned, they go through a lot in the story and I appreciated the balance they had in their friendship and eventually relationship. They had a great connection and chemistry that made me all warm and fuzzy… and if I closed my eyes and pretended they were at least in college, it was hot too. They did take for-freakin’-ever to finally come together. It was amazing how clueless Aaron was. Some of the drama was a little after school special-ish with the star quarterback back coming to their defense and awkward classroom speech. The legal proceedings at the end were also a tad unrealistic but again, I pretended because I enjoyed the bond that Aaron and Jeff had.

For the most part, Holding On kept me coming back for more. I’d recommend it for 18+ coming of age fans who don’t mind lots of drama. Trigger warning for abuse, alcoholism, homophobia, and death.

https://boymeetsboyreviews.blogspot.com

Copy provided for honest review.

 

Desperately Seeking Santa

Reviewed for @BMBR

3.5 Stars

Want a feel good, low drama holiday read? This fits the bill with its fluffy, low angst, and likable characters. I liked it, but it didn’t blow my elf socks off like Easton typically does. While many readers may want a feel good, easy peasy holiday romance, I’m all gimme my angst, kindle combusting steam and then seal it with sweetness. *shrug*

Gabe Martin, college senior and aspiring journalist has been assigned to cover the annual Elks Christmas Charity dinner that benefits St. Mark’s Children’s Home. After some research, Gabe decides to turn his story from puff piece to an investigative article on revealing the Santa that has a hidden identity yet brings much joy to the children at this dinner.

Now, I sure do hope you have read Superhero by Easton because it’s awesome and we’re treated to Owen and Jordan being secondary characters in this story. Jordan invites Gabe to Owen’s wrestling match and he begrudgingly accepts. Apparently the idea of skin tight singlets on fit wrestlers wasn’t that appealing… until he sees Mack “The Mountain” McDonall.

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Mack is a 285lb wrestler that’s straight muscle and stirs up an urgent need to learn all about “mountain climbing.” Gotta watch out for that high altitude and proper hand holds/placement. Maybe throw a carabiner in, too. *bites fist*

“That’s not a man, that’s a zip code.”

Yassssss… tell me more.

I was giddy with anticipation for Mack and his ability to pick up huge men off the ground. I was already dreaming about the *ahem* possibilities of someone that big and strong connecting with another man. Except, Mack wasn’t his wrestling persona. Don’t worry, I dig gentle giants too. He was shy, quiet, reserved, smart, and kept his head down to get through school and move on to the next stage. He wasn’t dealt the best hand at life but he is doing his part to make a difference.

Gabe and Mack are officially introduced when Jordan attempts to set them up. It’s all going swell until Mack retreats at Gabe’s mention of investigating Santa’s identity and using it for his article. The night ends quickly but it doesn’t stop Gabe from tracking Mack down. They form a tentative friendship and it slowwwwwly progresses. It grows as much as it can when both men are still tentative and hesitant to take it further. Much of the story shows their developing friendship with some real UST thrown in. An actual relationship doesn’t happen until the last 20% of the book which brought out my *disappointed face*. Gabe and Mack were opposites but likable characters and while I appreciated the foundation they built leading up to that moment when it all changes, I wanted more. More relational connection. More assertive in their wants. More of them together as they transitioned to boyfriends. And yes, I’ll say it, more heat.

One little oddity for me was the integration of Spanish. I’ll warn you that I took Spanish in high school for a few years and only came away with saying “No, I don’t have gum in my mouth” and “can I go to the bathroom.” Clearly, I’m not the expert on it and definitely wasn’t a model student either. However, Gabe embraced his Spanish side but stated that he wasn’t a proficient speaker due to his father not allowing it. Yet, there were many times throughout where Spanish words were thrown in. I have seen this in a few other books but it didn’t seem as forced as it did in this one. Mi Mama, dios, joder, etc., were all thrown in randomly and pulled me out each time. Again, not an expert on language integration and I look forward to some of my fellow reader’s thoughts on the authentic-ness of the placements.

All in all, this was a sugary sweet, low angst, holiday read with a HEA. If that’s what you’re looking for, I’d recommend it.

https://boymeetsboyreviews.blogspot.com

Copy provided for honest review.

Check out S.C. Stephens Latest Release

S.C. Stephens’s THE BEAST WITHIN is available TODAY and paranormal lovers won’t want to miss this one! Be sure to pick up your copy today!

 

About THE BEAST WITHIN

Nika Adams has had a challenging year. She gave her heart to Hunter Evans, only to have him break it. But Nika refuses to give up hope. Not when there’s a chance she can save her true-love—even if she must save him from himself.

Julian Adams finally knows what he wants, and is truly happy. But when he gets mixed up in Nika’s suicide mission to save her wayward boyfriend, he begins to wonder if his dream girl can handle the dangerous life that comes with being an Adams

Add THE BEAST WITHIN to your Goodreads shelf here!

Get your copy of THE BEAST WITHIN now!

Amazon / iBooks / Kobo

 

 

Don’t miss the other books in the Conversion series!

Books in the Conversion series

Conversion / Bloodlines / ‘Til Death / The Next Generation / The Beast Within / Family is Forever

 

About S.C. STEPHENS

S.C. Stephens is a bestselling author who enjoys spending every free moment she has creating stories that are packed with emotion and heavy on romance.

Her debut novel, Thoughtless, an angst-filled love triangle charged with insurmountable passion and the unforgettable Kellan Kyle, took the literary world by storm. Amazed and surprised by the response to the release of Thoughtless in 2009, more stories were quick to follow. Stephens has been writing nonstop ever since.

In addition to writing, Stephens enjoys spending lazy afternoons in the sun reading fabulous novels, loading up her iPod with writer’s block reducing music, heading out the movies and spending quality time with her friends and family. She currently resides in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with her two equally beautiful children.

Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Goodreads

 

Call Me by Your Name

Is giving it Infinite stars a thing?

I hated it.

I absolutely fucking loved it.

My heart broke.

My heart soared.

It broken again…

My heart will never fully be set free from the summer love affair between Elio and Oliver. The obsession and love. The way they talked without words. The way they said nothing which was really everything. It was an epic love. The heart of hearts. It was as pure as it was twisted.

It was captivating.

It was enraging.

The writing was beautiful. Lyrical. It drew me in like a siren call that kept me begging for more. More pretending. More silent talks. More touching. More of anything because that would mean there was something. I wanted to be with them in Italy. They had a summer in paradise while being in “heaven” every day. Together.

The narration was amazing. Armie Hammer brought these men to life and forced me to become even more invested than I already was. The cold shoulders and desperation. The longing and obsession was that much more when I switched to audio.

This was the first time in a while that a book wrecked me and forced me to step back for a couple of days. I try to stay away from books that don’t offer the promise of a HEA/HFN but I had to try this. I’m mad I read it. I’m also SO glad I read it. Thank you to my buddy reader, Cupcake for the moral support.

Definitely recommended.

P.S. Anyone craving some peaches? #Hangry