Audio Review: Carry the Ocean by Heidi Cullinan

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review.
This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Carry the Ocean: by Heidi Cullinan
Series: The Roosevelt
Release Date: May 29th, 2017
Pages: • Format: Audio
Published By: Heidi Cullinan
Purchase Links:
Amazon Audible

Normal is just a setting on the dryer.

High school graduate Jeremey Samson is looking forward to burying his head under the covers and sleeping until it’s time to leave for college. Then a tornado named Emmet Washington enters his life. The young man with a double major in math and computer science is handsome, forward, wicked smart, interested in dating Jeremey—and he has autism.

But Jeremey doesn’t judge him for that. He’s too busy judging himself, as are his parents, who don’t believe in things like clinical depression. When Jeremey’s untreated illness reaches a critical breaking point, Emmet is the white knight who rescues him and brings him along as a roommate to The Roosevelt, a quirky new assisted living facility.

As Jeremey and Emmet find their feet at The Roosevelt, they begin to believe they can be loved for the men they are beyond their disabilities. But before they can trust enough to fall head over heels, they must trust their own convictions that friendship is a healing force and love can overcome any obstacle.

 

five-stars

I am in general a fan of this authors but I think this may be her best work. This was extremely well written. This is an unconventional love story about two young men who are a bit different and have a host of challenges to over come in their lives.

The story begins one summer when the two guys meet at a neighborhood block party. Jeremey is struggling with depression and anxiety and he gets no support from his parents. Due to his personal struggles he is oblivious to Emmet’s existence. Emmet on the other hand has been watching Jeremey across their yards for months. Emmet is on the Autism spectrum and he’s been practicing daily for what will happen when they finally meet. When Emmet approaches him, Jeremey is unsure of him at first. With gentle persistence from Emmet the two of them become friends and then they eventually fall in love.

Their story is not an easy one. The two of them have very different ways of perceiving things which makes them struggle to understand each other sometimes. They are also both different from what mainstream society says they should be and they have to deal with a bunch of outside pressure. Their lives are a roller coaster and things are very hard for them in a few places in the story.

I thought the author did a fantastic job writing this story and dealing with both boy’s conditions. It was obvious she did a lot of research and I think she really presented these characters as real people. She did not sugar coat anything or make it one of those “love heals all wounds” type of stories, but she also did not paint them as people who were less than or who were incapable of having a love story of their own. It may not have been traditional but I think that made it even more beautiful.

My favorite part of the story was Emmet and his parents. I loved all three of them. On the flip side I could barely contain my anger for Jeremey’s parents. Every mother instinct I had came out over his character and I swear I raged every time his parents were on page. My emotions were all over the page. One minute I was laughing and the next I was crying. That, too me, is a testament to a really well written story.

I did these on audio and they were narrated by Iggy Toma. I feel like he also did an excellent job. He does two very different voices for both Jeremey and Emmet. I think Emmet’s was probably a bit challenging as he is described as having a flatter affect and not being able to modify his tones like others do due to his inability to read emotions. The narrator really did a good job with this aspect. There were also multiple side characters and I think those were also all done really well.

I’m sure there a lot better written reviews out there that describe this beautiful story but I will end this is saying that I definitely recommend this audiobook. It is not only a great story but it is narrated extremely well and the narration adds another level of emotion to this story.

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About Heidi Cullinan

Heidi grew up in love with story. She fell asleep listening to Disney long-playing records and read her Little House On The Prairie books until they fell apart. She ran through the woods inventing stories of witches and fairies and enchanted trees and spent hours beneath the lilac bush imagining the lives of the settlers who had inhabited the homestead log cabin and two-story late 1800s home on her family farm. She created epic storylines for her Barbies until it wasn’t satisfying enough to do so any longer (age ten), and then she started writing them down. Her first novel, The Life and Times of Michelle Matthews, was published when she was twelve in the school anthology and took up nearly half of it.

Though Heidi continued to write novels through high school (and still has the Rubbermaid tub full in her bedroom), she stopped in college, deciding it was time to grow up and do something meaningful with her life. When the specifics of that didn’t pan out, Heidi ended up in grad school to become a teacher, and through one of the courses rediscovered her love of romance novels. She began to write again on the side, continued to do so while she taught seventh grade language arts and reading, and when she quit teaching to have her daughter, she took up writing with more seriousness, both as a stress relief and as a potential means of bringing in money.

Many million pages later, Heidi has learned a lot about writing, more than she ever wanted to know about publishing, and most importantly, finally figured out that writing IS the meaningful something she wants to do with her life. A passionate advocate for LGBT rights, Heidi volunteered for One Iowa during the fight for marriage equality and donates with her husband as a monthly partner to the Human Rights Campaign and Lambda Legal. She encourages you to support your own local and national LGBT rights groups, too

Heidi enjoys reading, watching movies and TV with her family, and listening all kinds of music. She has a husband, a daughter, and too many cats. Heidi is an active social networker, and of course has good old-fashioned email.

The Layover by Roe Horvat

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review.
This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The Layover: by Roe Horvat
Release Date: July 19th, 2017
Pages: 104 • Format: eARC
Published By: Dreamspinner Press
Purchase Links:
DreamspinnerAmazon

Eight years ago, Ondro Smrek fled Slovakia and the bigotry that drove his first lover to take his own life. The demons proved impossible to outrun, though, and now, desperate for somewhere to belong, Ondro is returning to start over. During a layover in Basel, Switzerland, he meets Jamie, an American living in Scotland who is as brilliant as he is beautiful.

Jaded Ondro never would have guessed he could fall in love during a brief layover—until now. When he is put in a position to offer Jamie comfort without hope of recompense, Ondro doesn’t hesitate. Soon, he catches a glimpse of the home he longs for. But with their separation looming, confessing his feelings would only lead to pain and humiliation. Life has taught Ondro not to hope, but then, he never believed in love at first sight either….

 

four-half-stars

 

Stop. Whatever you are doing stop and go grab this book.

New Author Alert!!!! Roe Horvat is a bloody good writer.

We all know I’m a fickle reader. I’m loyal to my authors to a fault, even when they are write less then my expectations. Sadly, I’ve had a few of those happen in the last year and its only 2 authors at the #1 stop. Stop distracting me. Last year I read a book by a new author on the recommendation by Josh Lanyon, and loved it. If you haven’t picked up Dal Maclean’s Bitter Legacy then you’ve been sleeping under a damn rock or just stupid. Either option is fine with me. What I’m trying to state is this author came out of nowhere with a big recommendation by a really big named author in the genre for support, and her work was brilliant. When I requested this book I had no idea what I was getting. I had no idea what to expect, and honestly I was dreading reading it. I had all these thoughts in my head about how bad it would be. Well color me surprised when it was the EXACT opposites of those thoughts. It was beautiful, endearing, inspiring, and lovely. It was about pain, fear, real life and love. It was eloquent and I wish it would have been a full length novel. I mean you can’t give me this scrumptious morsel, and cut me off. I need more woman. Roe Horvat came so left field for me, that I was gobsmacked at how much I would like this book. I literally just finished and haven’t reviewed a book  in 2 weeks, and this got me back on the horse so pleasantly.

The first thing that I realized that I love was the setting. I don’t read too many books in this part of the world. I enjoyed the authenticity feeling  I get while reading this. I can close my eyes and picture parts of the book. I really liked the cultural difference that each guy has. Its easy to fall for someone in a similar situation, but from a different walk of life is hard. Its hard to compromise, to explain, to enjoy, and to try to mend worlds. Trust me, I’m married to an Irish man who morals & values are just as important as my African American Baptist roots. Its hard, its invigorating, and scary. 

I don’t know which character I’ve enjoyed more Ondro or Jamie. Both were really good, and I’m going to beg the author for another update with these two. 128 days later wasn’t enough. I’d like to see them 529 days later or more & more. Ondro, poor sweet Ondro. He’s kind, cynical, fearful and brave. He’s from Slovakia, a place that isn’t kind to him based on his sexuality. Not on the place but his family. Leaving at 22 was the one way that he thought he would gain some semblance of happiness. Years later he realizes that running has done nothing but let me win. Running has not helped in his love life, and some part of him wants to come to terms with his past there. Jamie is the sweetest ever. He’s fiery once meeting him, and I thought his stands & values were so endearing. Ending up together longer then their expected layover wasn’t in their plans but they made due with it. I don’t want to go to much into the plot, but I got this feeling while reading this book. It wasn’t about the physical aspect of the book, but all the emotions, tears, fears and hope. My favorite trope ever, realistic fiction is the best. The circumstances that they both go through can be someone you know, love, spouse, brother, father, or friend. Right now I feel like I’m rambling because I can’t put in words what made this book magical. It just felt raw, it felt real. It felt like people still have morals, dreams, and people don’t know the difference between lonesome or lonely. 

I’m going to end my review now, and say just buy the book. I’m looking forward to more writing from this author. If you want to try a new author, with a brilliant love story then try this. Try this for love, try this for Ondro & Jamie. Highly recommended!

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About Roe Horvat

Queer fiction author Roe Horvat was born in the post-communist wasteland of former Czechoslovakia. Equipped with a dark sense of sarcasm, Roe traveled Europe and finally settled in Sweden. They love Jane Austen, Douglas Adams, and daiquiri, with equal passion. When not hiding in the studio doing graphics, Roe can be found trolling cafés in Gothenburg, writing, and people-watching.

Crooked Tree Ranch (Montana #1) by R.J. Scott

Series:
Narrator: Sean Crisden
(Website, Blog, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads)Source: Signal Boost Promotions

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review.
This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Title: Crooked Tree Ranch by R.J. Scott
Series: Montana, Book 1
Release Date: November 16th, 2015 (first published on December 13th 2013)
Format: Audiobook (6 hrs and 20 mins)
Genre:
Published By: Love Lane Books Ltd
Purchase Links: •  Amazon US | Amazon UK | Audible US | Audible UK

When a cowboy, meets the guy from the city, he can’t know how much things will change.

On the spur of the moment, with his life collapsing around him, Jay Sullivan answers an ad for a business manager with an expertise in marketing, on a dude ranch in Montana.

With his sister, Ashley, niece, Kirsten and nephew, Josh, in tow, he moves lock stock and barrel from New York to Montana to start a new life on Crooked Tree Ranch.

Foreman and part owner of the ranch, ex rodeo star Nathaniel ‘Nate’ Todd has been running the dude ranch, for five years ever since his mentor Marcus Allen became ill.

His brothers convince him that he needs to get an expert in to help the business grow. He knows things have to change and but when the new guy turns up, with a troubled family in tow – he just isn’t prepared for how much.

four-stars

This story was very sweet and satisfying. It wasn’t overly dramatic and angsty but it was emotionally engaging enough that I listened to the book in one day. I have to be honest, I am on the fence about Sean Crisden, but his narration of this story was spot on. The author told the story in a dual POV and the voices the narrator used for the characters fit my image of them. This one was one of Sean Crisden’s better performances.

Jay Sullivan worked for a marketing firm while taking care of his sister Ashley who has a history of falling in love with abusive guys. Currently, Jay was standing as a male figure for his 15 year old niece Kristen and 6 year old nephew Josh as Ashley’s husband was serving time in jail for abusing them. When Jay is laid off from his firm, coupled with Ashley’s husband was released from jail, Jay quickly accepted a job to be a business manager for a ranch in Montana and they quickly flee New York City.

Crooked Tree Ranch was hemorrhaging money so they agreed to trying marketing the Ranch differently to attract new customers. The Ranch is owned by three families, The Todds, The Allens and the Starachs. Nate, Gabe and Luke represent the Todd family and work on the Ranch. They were skeptical about the City boy Jay being in charge of creating a marketing plan, but they were low in funds and they were desperate.
Nate is the oldest and he used to work in the rodeo circuit so the city boy just rubbed him the wrong way. But Nate accepted that Jay’s expertise was necessary so he tried to tamper his irritation with Jay. What Nate couldn’t ignore was his attraction to Jay and vice versa. Soon, the two agreed to try a relationship. Nate and Jay were a delight because their attraction was clear but they were so supportive and accepting of each other and their respective families.

I though the author did a great job in building up the relationship so while it was short amount of time, it didn’t feel like insta-love. RJ Scott’s writing appeals to me because she focuses on the family, their interactions and their emotions more than the physical acts between the couples. I prefer a juicy story over copious amounts of sex so this audiobook was so good. There was a number of subplots, but the pace at which the author tackled them was comfortable so the reader never felt bogged down with angst or overly emotional scenes. I am looking forward to finding out more about the second family of the Ranch trifecta, The Allens.

Ezi

About R.J. Scott

My goal is to write stories with a heart of romance, a troubled road to reach happiness, and most importantly, that hint of a happily ever after.

I’ve has been writing since age six, when I was made to stay in at lunchtime for an infraction involving cookies and the mixing bowl. You can’t tell a six year old not to lick the bowl!

I was told to write a story and two sides of paper about a trapped princess later, a lover of writing was born.

As an avid reader myself, I can be found reading anything from thrillers to sci-fi to horror. However, my first real true love will always be the world of romance. I love my cowboys, bodyguards, firemen and billionaires (to name a few) and love to write dramatic and romantic stories of love and passion between these men. (Yum)

With over 90 titles to my name and counting, I am the author of the award winning book, The Christmas Throwaway, which was All Romance Ebooks best selling title of 2010.

I’m also known for the Texas series charting the lives of Riley and Jack, and the Sanctuary series following the work of the Sanctuary Foundation and the people it protects.

I’m always so thrilled to hear from readers, bloggers and other writers.

The Rancher’s Son (Montana #2) R.J. Scott

Series:
Narrator: Sean Crisden
(Website, Blog, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads)Source: Signal Boost Promotions

 

 
Narrated By: Sean Crisden
Length: 6hr 25mins
Cover Design: Meredith Russell 
 
Blurb: A man without memories and the cop who never gave up hope.

When he wakes up in the hospital, the victim of a brutal beating, John Doe has no memory of who he is or who hurt him. The cops can find nothing to identify him and he can’t remember anything to help…except the name Ethan and one recurring place from his dreams. Two words, and they’re not much, but it’s a start: Crooked Tree.Detective Ethan Allens has never stopped searching for the two boys who vanished. When a report lands on Ethan’s desk that may give new leads, he jumps at the chance to follow them up. The man he finds isn’t his brother, but it’s someone who could maybe help him discover what happened 12 years ago.What neither man can know is that facing the very real demons of the past could destroy any kind of future they may have together.
 four-stars

In Book 1, we met Marcus Allen, who tended to the financial aspects of Crooked Tree Ranch, the 300 acre land in Montana shared with The Todds (see book 1) and The Starachs. We also got a small glimpse into his strained relationship with his son Ethan especially regarding the disappearance of the youngest son Justin.

Marcus’ wife died and his son Justin disappeared 12 years ago with his best friend Adam when they went swimming. Marcus’ oldest son Ethan Allen never accepted the “death” of his brother Justin and best friend Adam, and left his family’s ranch and joined law enforcement.

In this sequel, Marcus still struggles with his health and still doesn’t believe Justin is alive. His relationship with his son Ethan was still strained and the return of Adam absent answers to what happened twelve years ago added to the tension. As a police officer, Ethan had put out feelers and one day got a call about a John Doe asking for Ethan and Crooked Tree Ranch. At the hospital, Ethan comes face to face with Adam, although, now Adam is an amnesiac. Ethan brings Adam back to the Ranch to help jog his memory.

This book was more emotional and angst than book one, but I love it just the same. Ethan was a really great guy. He was so hopeful, steadfast and patient with Adam as the families tried to figure out what happened those years ago. Again, the narrator gave a masterful performance as he returned the reader to Montana with the same families, giving more detail to the subplot of the Allen’s family. RJ Scott does a great job slowly building these characters and their stories. These characters feel like people I could relate to and I definitely rooted for their happiness. I had a hard time deciding which couple I liked best, Ethan & Adam or Nate & Jay. Plus, Gabe (Nate’s middle brother) & Ashley (Jay’s sister) was an added extra dose of sweetness to this story. While this particular love story ended well, some other threads remain loose and I look forward to the author’s next book.

I received this audiobook for free from in exchange for an honest review.
It
did not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Ezi


 

Hosted By Signal Boost Promotions

About R.J. Scott

My goal is to write stories with a heart of romance, a troubled road to reach happiness, and most importantly, that hint of a happily ever after.

I’ve has been writing since age six, when I was made to stay in at lunchtime for an infraction involving cookies and the mixing bowl. You can’t tell a six year old not to lick the bowl!

I was told to write a story and two sides of paper about a trapped princess later, a lover of writing was born.

As an avid reader myself, I can be found reading anything from thrillers to sci-fi to horror. However, my first real true love will always be the world of romance. I love my cowboys, bodyguards, firemen and billionaires (to name a few) and love to write dramatic and romantic stories of love and passion between these men. (Yum)

With over 90 titles to my name and counting, I am the author of the award winning book, The Christmas Throwaway, which was All Romance Ebooks best selling title of 2010.

I’m also known for the Texas series charting the lives of Riley and Jack, and the Sanctuary series following the work of the Sanctuary Foundation and the people it protects.

I’m always so thrilled to hear from readers, bloggers and other writers.

Mascara & Bandages by Brandon Witt

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review.
This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Mascara & Bandages: by Brandon Witt
Series: Mary’s Boys #3
Release Date: July 12th, 2017
Pages: 121 • Format: eARC
Published By: Dreamspinner Press
Purchase Links:
DreamspinnerAmazon

Ariel Merman is a new drag queen who’s already finding a family at Hamburger Mary’s. After a performance as Ariel, Zachary Cooper walks home in his makeup and is assaulted by homophobes. Zachary’s worry that the attack has thrown a wrench in his good fortune is eased when he looks into the eyes of his doctor.

Dr. Teegan Chau is a little lost after divorcing his wife and coming out of the closet, but he can’t deny the pull he feels toward the young man he patches up. Luckily, Zachary takes the initiative and asks Teegan out. But attraction is the easy part of their blossoming relationship—as they deal with an ex-wife and child, being a drag queen in a heteronormative culture, Zachary’s lingering trauma from his attack, and Teegan acclimating to life as part of an out-and-proud gay couple.

The challenges seem daunting at the start of a romance. Can Zachary and Teegan make it through the rough patches and take a chance on the love that’s been missing from both their lives?

three-half-stars

Left wanting more. That is my initial thought after reading this. I didn’t feel like it was finished at all. Felt like it left off in the middle of the story except it ended. I enjoyed this a little bit more then book 2 in the series. It starts off with a brutal attack. Both guys kinda deal with heavy life choices in this book. I do enjoy reading Witt’s writing because I always get the most vulnerable and realistic feelings while reading his work. I love that he puts so much emotion into his writing and character development. My only downfall is that this book ended about 50 pages to short.

Zachary is alone. He’s young, both parents are gone, and his own redemption is being Ariel Merman. While being Ariel Merman, Zachary’s insecurities and self-esteem is completely gone. He doesn’t have to think of his life, he doesn’t have to think of his future, he just has to let Ariel take over and enjoy it for the time being. He’s attacked and its left all his doubts, fears and insecurities come swimming to the surface. The only plus is meeting Dr. Teegan Chau. He’s a gay man, but not out and proud. Instead he’s swimming through murky waters since coming out to the people that matter a few years ago. The plus side is a boulder is lifted off his shoulders. He can live his truths and care for the people most important in his life.

I did like the two of them together. It was nice to see the relationship grown on page. I liked the nervous energy that each guy had. It is super new for the both of them, and I liked the realness of it. I could see these two being something in the future. I think with each other’s personality they work well together.

Its really no surprise that I liked this story. I do enjoy Witt’s writing alot. I love the series and can’t wait for more. I think if you love reading about real problems, guys persevering, and falling in love then picking up the Mary Boys books shouldn’t be an issue. Its a recommend for this series.

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About Brandon Witt

Brandon Witt is many things. Above all, he is living the dream. After years of writing and reaching for the stars, he is a published author through Dreamspinner Press. Thus far, his novels include The Shattered Door, Then the Stars Fall, and three installments of the Men of Myth series. Also, he has short stories published in various anthologies.

For the first eighteen years of life, Brandon lived in a small Ozark town, El Dorado Springs, Missouri before moving with his family to Colorado. There he got degrees in Youth Ministry and Special Education and worked as a counselor and special education teacher for fifteen years.

The tension of his religious upbringing and being a gay man finds its way onto nearly every page in his novels, as does experiences that over a decade of loving children who have faced much abuse and many struggles. Reflecting what he has discovered to be true in life, Brandon’s writing does not shy away from challenges and conflict but also revels in the joy that can only happen when truly embracing and loving all that life has to offer.

Release Blitz & Giveaway: Force of Nature by J.K. Hogan

Title:  Force of Nature

Series: Coming About, #4

Author: J.K. Hogan

Publisher:  Euphoria Press (self)

Release Date: 7/4/17

Heat Level: 4 – Lots of Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 80,000 words

Genre: Romance, contemporary, adventure

Add to Goodreads

Synopsis

Everyone knows that bonds formed under extreme circumstances never last.

Harbor Patrol officer Neal Hesse has had his life turned upside down by a sudden break-up with his partner of ten years. After sleeping his way through Seattle failed to take his mind off his broken heart, he decides to take a leave of absence from work to find himself again. He hires a professional wilderness guide to take him up into the mountains, so he can get away from everything and live off the grid for a few days.

Travis “Rock” McCreary, ex-Army Ranger turned survivalist, hates doing guided excursions, but it’s his primary source of income while he’s working towards getting his own survival show. Working in such a testosterone-fueled profession has forced him so deep into the closet, he feels like he might never see the light of day again, which makes it even harder to put on a friendly face for his happy, normal clients.

When Rock is hired by clumsy city-boy Neal to take him up into the North Cascades for a survival adventure, his patience and his resolve are tested at every turn. He has to teach Neal to survive in the wilderness while fighting an attraction he can’t allow himself to act on. When their trip doesn’t go as planned, Neal’s getaway turns into a true survival situation, and he and Rock are forced to rely on each other to stay alive. If they make it out of the wilderness, can their newfound connection survive in the real world?

Excerpt

Neal didn’t see how this was supposed to help take his mind off his ex because, as they trudged up the trail mostly in silence, he had nothing but time to think. Time to think about how he’d fallen for and spent years with a wolf in sheep’s clothing. He thought he’d been settled, that Tony was The One, that they had been on their way to growing old together. How wrong he’d been.

When the party reached an overlook at the highest point on the trail, they stopped for a panoramic view of the waterfall. Even Neal had to admit, with the sun streaming into the gorge and casting rainbows from the mist, it was a beautiful sight. It was still hard to drag himself out of his head, though. He knew his friends meant well, and they were right, of course. He needed to get up, get out, get back on the proverbial horse of life. But he didn’t wanna. He wanted to be at home on the couch moping, damn it.

He wished for that even harder when he saw the so-called trail that descended from the overlook to the foot of the falls where hikers could walk around or swim on warm-enough days. This trail was also steps, but natural ones of smooth, flat rock. It was narrow. Very narrow, and the lower part had a thin coat of slime from the water spray and mud. So it was fucking slippery.

When he’d almost made it to the flat riverbed, Neal lost his footing on a slick rock. He barely avoided taking a tumble—probably would’ve cracked his skull open—but he gained his balance again at the last moment. He breathed a sigh of relief when he stepped off that part of the trail. The falls dumped into a wide open part of the gorge, forming a broad pool that was bordered by a large, semicircular bank of river rock. There, day-hikers and tourists spread out on the rocks, picnicking, sunning themselves, or generally just taking in the scenery. Neal’s friends spread out to do their own thing.

Addison stalked off to the tree line with her cell phone, probably trying to get a signal so she could call her girlfriend. Bennett led Rory around the edge of the pond so they could get close to the actual waterfall. He was wearing a chest harness that held his Go-Pro, the action camera he usually kept on his boat. Rich and Paddy sat down on some large rocks and got out their trail snacks. And Nic Valentine, the crazy fucker, was wading in the frigid pool while Justice looked on, shaking his damn head.

Neal shivered just thinking about it. It was the tail-end of summer, so it was still quite warm, but these high lakes and rivers were always brisk, even on the hottest days. He’d been trained to withstand cold water temperatures for marine rescues, but that didn’t mean he had to like it, and he certainly didn’t do it for fun. Turning away from the splashing idiot, Neal looked around at all of the tourists and vacationers. Everyone had phones out, taking pictures, and he was sure they were tweeting and Instagramming like mad whenever they could find a bar or two.

He shook his head, then smirked and took his own phone out. “When in Rome,” he muttered. First, he snapped a picture with the reverse camera of himself with the waterfall in the background. Then he flipped the view so he could get a shot of the gorge. His frame wasn’t wide enough, so he took a few steps back, mindful of the rocks that became more slippery the closer he got to the falls.

His foot slipped and plopped down into water still cold enough to make him gasp, and right at the same time, he backed into something hard. Solid. Something alive. Neal winced when he heard an outraged cry and a splash behind him. Oh, fuck. Had he just…knocked someone into the water? He knew he needed to make sure they weren’t hurt or anything, but damn, he was afraid to turn around…because that had not felt like a small person.

Cautiously, he turned around and looked down, where he saw a man flailing around in the shallows of the pool. Once he got control of his feet, the man sprang up in the perfect kip-up. Neal cringed when he saw that his clothes and trail pack were completely soaking wet. And when he looked at the man’s face, he froze. His brain registered three things almost simultaneously: he looked vaguely familiar, he was very attractive, and he was really fucking mad.

“What the fuck is wrong with you?” the stranger shouted.

He stepped forward so aggressively that Neal backed up, and his right hand went instinctively to his hip, where he would’ve put his hand on the stock of his service weapon—only there was nothing there because he was off duty.

Not wanting to seem like an equal aggressor, he covered the move by sticking his hand in his pocket, hoping to appear non-threatening. This guy was about his age and shorter by a few inches, but he was ripped. He looked rugged and whipcord strong and looked ready to kick some ass in a heartbeat. Neal might’ve been able to take him—he had him on height and weight, but the guy looked like he might be stronger…and a lot meaner. Neal really didn’t want to fight. That was a helluva lot of paperwork.

He held his arms out in front of him, both as a gesture of peace and to stave off an attack if that were to happen. “Man, I am so sorry. I didn’t realize anyone was behind me.”

“Clearly,” he growled, shrugging out of his pack. He unzipped it and started digging through it.

“Again, really sorry. If anything in your pack got damaged, I’ll reimburse you.”

He scowled at me. “This is a waterfall hike. I’m not an idiot. Anything of value is inside a dry bag.”

Neal bristled because the guy was basically calling him and everyone with him an idiot because they hadn’t brought dry bags. They’d just figured they could avoid, you know, falling in the water. Probably should’ve planned better, because if Neal hadn’t knocked into this guy, it would’ve been him in the water. But Neal had been the one to cause the fall, so he tried not to let his attitude get to him. “If you need a towel, I think one of my friends might’ve brought one.”

He sat down on a large, flat rock and pulled off his hiking shoes, probably to let them dry a little in the sun. His socks looked dry, so Neal assumed his footwear was waterproof. That also would’ve been a good idea, since Neal’s right sneaker was soggy as hell from stepping in the water.

The guy shook his head and didn’t make eye contact. “I’ve got more hiking to do. I’ll air-dry. Just try not to drown anyone, will ya?”

Neal’s eyes narrowed, and he fought a valiant battle not to tell the guy to fuck off. Instead, he fell back on his usual façade of charm and reached out a hand. “I’m Neal. Wish it had been under better circumstances, but it’s nice to meet you.”

His mega-watt smile, the one that had gotten him laid all the time when he was with Tony and before, bounced off this angry stranger like he had some kind of nice-guy force field. He glared at the proffered hand until Neal got the hint and put it back in his pocket. Just when he was about to say ‘fuck it’ and walk away, the guy mumbled, “Travis.”

“Pardon?” Neal asked, raising his eyebrows.

“Name’s Travis.”

“Well…Travis. It’s been a pleasure. I’ll get out of your hair.” About maxed out on politeness, Neal turned on his heel and started walking, stumbling slightly on the wet stones.

“Hey, Neal?”

He turned and looked at Travis. “Yeah?”

“You should stick to walking in the park or going to the gym. You don’t belong out here.”

Rage burned in Neal’s gut. He’d apologized profusely, and this guy just wouldn’t let it go. Where the hell did he get off? “The fuck did you say to me? I’ll have you know, I’m a police officer.”

Bennett had obviously picked up on the tone because Neal sensed his partner and Paddy creeping up on his flanks.

Travis’s eyes flicked back and forth between the three men, then he shook his head with a scoffing sound. “I’m just trying to give you some advice. It’s guys like you who come out here and fall down into the ravine because you don’t have the instincts to pay the fuck attention to where you put your feet.”

Neal lunged forward, but Bennett stopped him with a hand on his shoulder. “Nuh-uh. Walk away, Hesse.”

“But—”

“Nope.” Paddy started pulling him backward.

Travis spoke again, and the sound of his voice grated over Neal’s nerves like sandpaper. “I’m not just trying to be an asshole, although I’d be justified, considering.” He gestured down at his wet clothes. “But seriously, if you want to be all outdoorsy and shit? Get yourself some survival training, because you seem pretty fucking hopeless.”

Neal growled and lunged again, but was stopped by his two strong friends.

“Aaaand we’re done here,” Bennett said, as he and Patrick hauled Neal to the other side of the river where the rest of their group was waiting.

“Come on, just one swing!” Neal shouted over his shoulder. It was just for show because his pride was more bruised than he wanted to let on, but the boys kept a firm grip on him just in case.

Why the fuck did it matter that some asshole stranger thought he was incompetent? But Neal knew the answer to that—because his own boyfriend had as well. Tony had basically unmanned him by suggesting Neal’s career and choices didn’t matter, and now some random guy was telling him he couldn’t even wipe his own ass without help.

Neal seethed quietly all the way back down the trail. He’d never see that crazy fucknut again, but he’d be damned if he’d let the guy be right. So as soon as he got back, he booked himself on a survival excursion with a professional wilderness guide. That’d show that asshole. The one he would never see again.

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Meet the Author

J.K. Hogan has been telling stories for as long as she can remember, beginning with writing cast lists and storylines for her toys growing up. When she finally decided to put pen to paper, magic happened. She is greatly inspired by all kinds of music and often creates a “soundtrack” for her stories as she writes them. J.K. is hoping to one day have a little something for everyone, so she’s branched out from m/f paranormal romance and added m/m contemporary romance. Who knows what’s next?

J.K. resides in North Carolina, where she was born and raised. A true southern girl at heart, she lives in the country with her husband and two sons, a cat, and two champion agility dogs. If she isn’t on the agility field, J.K. can often be found chasing waterfalls in the mountains with her husband, or down in front at a blues concert. In addition to writing, she enjoys training and competing in dog sports, spending time with her large southern family, camping, boating and, of course, reading! For more information, please visit www.jkhogan.com.

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Guest Review: A Kind of Home by Lane Hayes

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review.
This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

A Kind of Home: by Lane Hayes
Series: A Kind of Stories #4
Release Date: June 23rd, 2017
Pages: 224 • Format: eARC
Published By: Dreamspinner
Purchase Links:
DreamspinnerAmazon

A Kind Of Story

Isaac Dalton is the guitarist for Spiral, arguably the biggest rock band in the world. The band’s meteoric rise to superstardom has its perks, but fame and fortune aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. Nonstop touring and performing exhaust him, and when an overzealous fan makes it imperative that Isaac travel with a clingy bodyguard, he is ready for a break from the madness. More so when his newly single first crush shows up on his doorstep. The man is strictly off-limits. He’s a memory from a place Isaac would rather leave behind. And he’s straight.

Fun-loving former athlete slash construction worker Adam McBride desperately needs a new beginning. And New York City is the perfect place to start over and think about how to rebuild his life. A short stint as roommates with his brother’s best friend from high school seems like a mutually beneficial arrangement. However, when friendship gives way to fierce attraction, both men find themselves in uncharted and possibly dangerous territory. Isaac has to decide if he’s willing to take the ultimate risk for a kind of love and a kind of home he never dreamed possible.

four-stars

In previous books of this series we have gotten to know the guys from the rock band Spiral. By the time this book begins the band is huge. They’re one of the most famous bands in the world and the long hours, traveling and lack of privacy has begun to wear on guitarist Isaac. He loves the music but he’s growing weary of everything else. What he wants most is to be left alone. Unfortunately for Isaac he’s picked up an odd fan who seems like they might be obsessed with him. As a result he has also picked up a body guard he doesn’t want.

Imagine Isaac’s shock when he gets home from a tour to find that the old friend he said could use his apartment for a week or so is still there a few months later. Adam is the older brother of Isaac’s best friend from high school. Isaac always had a crush on the older boy and hasn’t seen him since his wedding a few years earlier. Despite his annoyance at finding Adam at his place he agrees to let him stay a bit longer. Adam is getting divorced and is looking to make some changes in his life.

As the two men begin to get reacquainted Isaac finds that all the things that attracted him to Adam in the past are still there but now there are even more things to like about him. Adam is in New York to make big changes in his life and apparently he’s not as straight as Isaac always thought he was. The two can’t deny their chemistry and soon friendship turns into something more.

I liked both of these MC’s individually and I really loved them together. They were a perfect compliment to each other. Their chemistry jumped off the pages and the book was filled with both sweet, romantic scenes and some super hot bedroom scenes. The grand gesture at the end was especially lovely.

Extra kudos to the author for not making the ex wife the stereotypical shrew and for not making Adam’s bisexuality an issue or problem within the marriage. I thought the entire divorce part of the plot line was well thought out and executed perfectly.

This book can be read as a standalone. Because of both band work and their friendships we see a lot of some of the previous characters (especially Rand) so if you’ve read the others you’ll probably appreciate that. So whether you’re an existing fan of the series or new to it, this is a book I would definitely recommend.

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About Lane Hayes

Lane Hayes is grateful to finally be doing what she loves best. Writing full-time! It’s no secret Lane loves a good romance novel. An avid reader from an early age, she has always been drawn to well-told love story with beautifully written characters. These days she prefers the leading roles to both be men. Lane discovered the M/M genre a few years ago and was instantly hooked. Her debut novel was a 2013 Rainbow Award finalist and subsequent books have received Honorable Mentions in the 2014 and 2015 Rainbow Awards. She loves red wine, chocolate and travel (in no particular order). Lane lives in Southern California with her amazing husband and the coolest yellow Lab ever in an almost empty nest.

Coach’s Challenge by Avon Gale

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review.
This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Coach’s Challenge: by Avon Gale
Series: Scoring Chances #5
Release Date: June 26th, 2017
Pages: 200 • Format: eARC
Published By: Dreamspinner
Purchase Links:
DreamspinnerAmazon

It’s been decades since blackmail forced Troy Callahan to retire from playing professional hockey, and he’s built a successful career behind the bench. When he’s offered the opportunity to coach the Asheville Ravens—the most hated team in the ECHL—he’s convinced that his no-nonsense attitude is just what the team needs to put their focus back on hockey. But Troy is disheartened when he finds out the Ravens have signed Shane North, a player known for his aggression—especially when Shane’s rough good looks have Troy thinking inappropriate thoughts about a player, even if he’s set to retire at the end of the season.

Shane’s career in the majors never quite took off. Wanting to quit on his own terms, Shane agrees to a one-year contract with the Ravens and finds himself playing for a coach who thinks he’s an aging goon, and with a team that doesn’t trust him, Troy, or each other. Despite his determination not to get involved, Shane unwillingly becomes part of the team… and is just as unwillingly drawn to the gruff, out-and-proud coach. As the Ravens struggle to build a new identity, Shane and Troy succumb to the passion that might cost them everything.

four-stars

I really enjoy this series, and for a time while reading this book I wasn’t certain on how I felt about it. Took me longer to get involved and invested into this installment. I had to warm up to Troy, and ended up liking the relationship between him and Shane. It didn’t help that the dirty talk was so much above board with these two. Good Lord, we needed a fan, and a spray bottle at times. Their quirky, dominating relationship worked well for me. It didn’t have the formula of the past 4 books, but I was okay with it. To be honest, I enjoyed most of the series but Power Play will always be my favorite. 

After reading 5 books, you’d think I would know something about Hockey. Nope, still clueless. Its okay though I just substituted it with other sports in my head. LOL. I really liked the idea of the guys being in their late 30’s, early 40’s. I like mature guys, and it doesn’t help that its their first relationship ever at this age. I really <3Troy. Not saying Shane was bad, I liked him alot. Dirty filthy Shane, but lordy he was freaking hot. Troy though comes off as this brash, careless, dictator. Well dictator was the last dude, but he’s very demanding and I guess him being so blunt takes people by surprise, but that caring side of him will win you over every time. Troy has his reasons and methods for being the way he is. Being a ex-pro hockey player and having dealt with the St.Savoy it only felt right for him being the head coach to take over the Ashville Ravens. They are the most hated team, and Troy is trying to do everything in his power to overcome that negative. When Shane is late his first day of practice, it doesn’t look to good for these two. We see right away their issues, but I seen the UST a mile away. Dude!! I had to fan myself. These two were so freaking explosive together! I will never look at another jigsaw puzzle with innocence again in life. I won’t spoil it for you guys! Avon did us justice!

Once I got involved in reading it, I really enjoyed it. I enjoyed seeing these two together, and liked that they were so different from the other couples in previous books. I do hope Xavier gets him a gentleman. He needs one, or maybe a bad boy for his sweet self. I wouldn’t mind reading a Ben & River book. Didn’t see much of those two but the short instances definitely were impact. Fans of this series will truly enjoy this book. I can’t wait to see what’s next!

 

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About Avon Gale

Avon Gale wrote her first story at the age of seven, about a “Space Hat” hanging on a rack and waiting for that special person to come along and purchase it — even if it was a bit weirder than the other, more normal hats. Like all of Avon’s characters, the space hat did get its happily ever after — though she’s pretty sure it was with a unicorn. She likes to think her vocabulary has improved since then, but the theme of quirky people waiting for their perfect match is still one of her favorites.

Avon grew up in the southern United States, and now lives with her very patient husband in a liberal midwestern college town. When she’s not writing, she’s either doing some kind of craft project that makes a huge mess, reading, watching horror movies, listening to music or yelling at her favorite hockey team to get it together, already. Avon is always up for a road trip, adores Kentucky bourbon, thinks nothing is as stress relieving as a good rock concert and will never say no to candy.

At one point, Avon was the mayor of both Jazzercise and Lollicup on Foursquare. This tells you basically all you need to know about her as a person.

The Palisade by Rosalind Abel

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review.
This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The Palisade: by Rosalind Abel
Series:Lavender Shores
Release Date: June 20th, 2017
Pages: 243 • Format: eARC
Published By: Wings of Ink Publication, LLC
Purchase Links:
Amazon

Confident businessman Joel Rhodes sees the small California town of Lavender Shores as nothing more than a business opportunity and a final stepping stone to the position he’s been working toward his entire life. It was supposed to be just one night in town to close the deal, and sleeping with one of the local men, no matter how gorgeous, meant nothing more than a few hours of fun.

Andrew Kelly is perfectly content with the life he has in his hometown. So much so that the only thing missing is someone to share it with. Going to bed with a tourist was never meant to be the answer to his dreams, just a beautiful distraction. He could get back to looking for Mr. Right the next day.
Both Andrew’s and Joel’s worlds are turned upside down when a few hours of pleasure get extended to a couple of days. Even that shouldn’t have been a big deal. You can’t fall in love in that amount of time. That isn’t how it works. However, if destinies collide, a few short days may be all it takes to find your soul mate. Even so, when secrets and motivations get tangled, fate may do nothing more than leave two hearts in pieces.

 

four-stars

Reading this book felt like one big celebration! It was sugary sweet overload for me, but surprisingly I didn’t end up in a diabetic coma. YAY!!!! I think this book caught me at the right time. I like cheesy stories, and appreciate the insta-love from time to time. BUT, with this amount of fluff be warned! It can cause an insane amount of eye-rolling. I did it alot, but still managed to enjoy it. It was steamy hot, can’t take that away from the author. Andrew and Joel definitely set the pages on fire. I really enjoyed the side characters. They were phenomenal, and I loved Andrew’s father!

Lavender Shores, is a closed knit community. Everyone knows everyone. Picture Mystic Falls from the Vampire Diaries without the supernatural element, and a lot of Caroline’s in this place. Founding Families, one shop only businesses, friendly open minded folks and we have a really nice place to land. Joel is on a business trip to show his father he can be what he needs him to be to lead their family’s business in the right direction. Andrew is Lavender Shores offspring. Born and raised in this place, he couldn’t be more happy with the endless support of the family and friends he has here. He has everything he could ever want, minus the picket fence, children, animals, and oh the husband. I loved the opening scene. It was funny and drew me into the characters.

This series is so angst free that angst wouldn’t even know what to do at this point. Its all about the romance. Romance is front and center, and it doesn’t deviate from the plan. I look forward to more of this series, and I might have my shield for the next one in the book. I can’t wait for book 2, the characters I’ve been waiting on seems to be the next focus. So, if you are in the mood for romance, hot love making, witty banter and all around crazy characters then this is definitely the series for you!

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Romancing the Ugly Duckling by Clare London

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review.
This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Romancing the Ugly Duckling: by Clare London
Series: Romancing the Ugly Duckling #2
Release Date: June 15th, 2017
Pages: 260 • Format: eARC
Published By: Dreamspinner Press
Purchase Links:
DreamspinnerAmazon

Is this the makeover of a lifetime?

Ambitious fashionista Perry Goodwood lands the project of his dreams—track down a celebrity family’s missing brother in the Scottish Highlands and bring him back to London for a TV reality show. But first he must transform the rugged loner into a glamorous sophisticate.

Greg Ventura has no use for high fashion. He lives on the isolated island of North Uist to escape the reminder that he’s nowhere near as handsome as his gorgeous brothers and avoid the painful childhood memories of being bullied.

Greg wants nothing to do with city life, and Perry’s never been outside London. When Perry is stranded on North Uist, this conflict seems insurmountable. But Greg is captivated by the vivacious Perry, and Perry by both the island and his host. However, Perry’s one heartfelt wish remains: that ugly duckling Greg fulfill his potential as a swan.

 

four-half-stars

 

Definitely one of my favorite books so far from this series!!! I didn’t want it to end. I fell in love with Perry & Greg!

I am being a tad bit petty by only giving it 4.5 stars. Initially I was going straight for the 5 stars, but I wanted an epilogue. Why??? Why couldn’t we see where Greg & Perry end up in 6 months or a year? Does Greg and his brothers end up mending the rift in their brotherhood? What becomes of Perry’s business proposal with Aileen? Does Bridie and Lisa get married? I have so many questions and no answers.

I really enjoyed Perry as a character. Being who he is and what he stands for did not disappoint me. He didn’t let anyone push him over, and his stood up for himself. We can see the moments between the two falling in love. We can see Greg thawing out to Perry. I really enjoyed their transition every step of the way. I don’t want to give much away with the plot, but I really would have liked an epilogue. Or better yet, please give me a novella of such! I swear Clare London, I would love you forever and ever.

The writing was really good. It had just the amount of steamy scenes, but heavy on the sugary sweet goodness that I’ve come to expect from this series. I couldn’t recommend a better book in the series to read and that’s saying something. I definitely can see myself reading this and it becoming a comfort read for me!

 

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About Clare London

Hi, I’m Clare London, a published author of gay romantic fiction, often erotic, usually contemporary, but sometimes in other worlds entirely. I publish with several publishers, in print and ebook, and I also offer free fiction on my website www.clarelondon.com. Clare took the pen name London from the city where she lives, loves, and writes. A lone, brave female in a frenetic, testosterone-fuelled family home, she juggles her writing with her other day job as an accountant. She’s written in many genres and across many settings, with award-winning novels and short stories published both online and in print. She says she likes variety in her writing while friends say she’s just fickle, but as long as both theories spawn good fiction, she’s happy. Most of her work features male/male romance and drama with a healthy serving of physical passion, as she enjoys both reading and writing about strong, sympathetic and sexy characters. Clare currently has several novels sulking at that tricky chapter 3 stage and plenty of other projects in mind . . . she just has to find out where she left them in that frenetic, testosterone-fuelled family home.