Strays by Garrett Leigh

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.

Strays: by Garrett Leigh
Series: Urban Soul #2
Release Date: March 27th, 2017
Pages: 249 • Format: eARC
Published By: Riptide
Purchase Links:
Riptide

Work, sleep, work, repeat. Nero’s lonely life suits him just fine until his best friend, Cass, asks him to take on a new apprentice—a beautiful young man who’s never set foot in a professional kitchen. Despite his irritation and his lifelong ability to shut the world out, Nero is mesmerised by the vibrant stray, especially when he learns what drove him to seek sanctuary on Nero’s battered old couch.

Lenny Mitchell is living under a cloud of fear. Pursued by a stalker, he has nowhere left to run until Nero offers him a port in a storm—a job at the hottest restaurant in Shepherd’s Bush. Kitchen life proves heady and addictive, and it’s not long before he finds himself falling hard and fast for the man who has taken him in.

Fast-forward a month and a neither man can imagine life without the other, but one thing stands in their way: a lifetime of horrors Nero can’t bring himself to share with Lenny. Or can he? For the first time ever, happiness is there for the taking, and Nero must learn to embrace it before fate steps in and rips it away.

four-half-stars

 

 

Oh my goodness, this book was amazing!!!! I loved every single minute of it. Leigh packs a healthy punch of angst in her for those lovers, but it was non-angsty enough for me to enjoy it. I mean let’s be honest here who does flawed characters like Garrett Leigh? NOBODY! She is Reigning Queen and this book solidifies it. I thought I could pick it up to start reading to take my mind off things, but I ended up reading the entire book in one sitting. (NTS: go back and re-read Misfits)

Lenny & Nero were so good together. I can’t stop gushing about it. What is it about grumpy ass men? I’m so attached to them. At first grump glance, Nero was mine. He just wants to be in the shadows and maintain a kitchen, but he can’t. LOL. Well he can, but he realizes really late in life how amazing he is. He is the team of a-holes, but with his past its no wonder why. Realizing his sexuality and never acting on it is driving him part mad when in flounces Lenny. Pretty Lenny, who I adored and who adapted to this new situation. I really loved Lenny. He was going through a traumatic experience but was able to mold into something new for himself. The attraction to one another is pretty obvious. Its definitely a waiting game to see who is going to fold first. I didn’t care at this point. Feelings were being made, angst was being dropped, but when moves were made and action was had in this story. It was great seeing Cass, Tom & Jake from Misfits. Loved how they all fitted so well within this book.

Both guys have some sort of trauma that they are dealing with. Lenny’s is most recent, and Nero is in the past. How can he help Lenny, and still deal with his monsters in the dark? I like that Lenny kinda reinforced to Nero that the communicating is a 2 way street. If you want to know all of my flaws, and scares then give up yours. It was a lovely for me to have the emotions that I did have, but I think once again its why I like Leigh’s books. They are definitely realistic and very much you can know these characters off hand in one way or another.

Strays is a definite recommend for me. You can read it as a standalone, but why do that? If you are looking for great writing, and an equally amazing story then pick this book up. You will not be disappointed!

 

signature-fonts

About Garrett Leigh

Garrett Leigh is a British writer and book designer, currently working for Dreamspinner Press, Loose Id, Riptide Publishing, and Black Jazz Press. Her protagonists will always always be tortured, crippled, broken, and deeply flawed. Throw in a tale of enduring true love, some stubbly facial hair, and a bunch of tattoos, and you’ve got yourself a Garrett special.

When not writing, Garrett can generally be found procrastinating on Twitter, cooking up a storm, or sitting on her behind doing as little as possible. That, and dreaming up new ways to torture her characters. Garrett believes in happy endings; she just likes to make her boys work for it.

Garrett also works as a freelance cover artist for various publishing houses and independent authors. For cover art info, please visit blackjazzdesign.com

Darkness by Kate Sherwood

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.

Darkness: by Kate Sherwood
Series: Common Law #3
Release Date: March 6th, 2017
Pages: 189 • Format: eARC
Published By: Riptide
Purchase Links:
Riptide

A murdered prostitute. An obvious suspect. Clear evidence. For once, Jericho Crewe has a straightforward crime to investigate, and Wade Granger isn’t involved.

It all seems so simple, but Jericho’s instincts won’t let him rest. As he investigates, he finds troubling suggestions that the murder is a part of something larger and more sinister. But working within the boundaries of the law may keep him from finding the truth. If Jericho doesn’t break the rules, an innocent man may rot in jail while a killer remains free to strike again.

Inevitably, it all comes back to Wade. Because who else knows as much about breaking rules? And who else knows Jericho the way Wade does—not wisely, but far, far too well?

 

four-stars

GRRRRRRR…… My frustration is so out of here with this series. I might have blue balls reading this series. You know what I hate more then no sex in my books, I hate FADE TO BLACK SEX. I’m not one to need the sex, the romance might suffice enough for me, but the motherf***** UST has been off the rails so far. Goodness, I made a promise to myself if it isn’t any on page sex in the next book then Sherwood and I are done. I can’t keep up with the frustration levels that she gives me.

Book three picks up right along with the events from the previous two books with the same shady characters, crimes, Alphabet agencies around, and Wade Granger. I can’t wait to dive into the last book, because I hope my thoughts about him are proved true. Jericho acted really green during certain scenes in this book. My frustration with him almost costing the case was small compared to my reaction to the fade to black action. I knew Will was innocent, there was no freaking way he did it.

Jericho has finally pieced information together surrounding his father’s death. He has come to the realization about his career and his feelings for Wade. Wade who bothers me with his smarmy face and kindness at times!! Ugh, I totally wanted to strangle both of them. I liked the case alot, it was interesting enough, but I do feel like it wasn’t answered in the how. I know who the killer was, but I wanted it laid out, and it kinda ended abruptly on that front.

Despite my rage and feelings, it was still a good story, and I enjoyed seeing these together. Hopefully by next book I’ve read enough smut to last me over while reading this. Another good installment of the Common Law Series. A definite recommend.

About Kate Sherwood

Kate Sherwood started writing about the same time she got back on a horse after almost twenty years away from riding. She’d like to think she was too young for it to be a midlife crisis, but apparently she was ready for some changes!

Kate grew up near Toronto, Ontario (Canada) and went to school in Montreal, then Vancouver. But for the last decade or so she’s been a country girl. Sure, she misses some of the conveniences of the city, but living close to nature makes up for those lacks. She’s living in Ontario’s “cottage country”–other people save up their time and come to spend their vacations in her neighborhood, but she gets to live there all year round!

Since her first book was published in 2010, she’s kept herself busy with novels, novellas, and short stories in almost all the sub-genres of m/m romance. Contemporary, suspense, scifi or fantasy–the settings are just the backdrop for her characters to answer the important questions. How much can they share, and what do they need to keep? Can they bring themselves to trust someone, after being disappointed so many times? Are they brave enough to take a chance on love?

Kate’s books balance drama with humor, angst with optimism. They feature strong, damaged men who fight themselves harder than they fight anyone else. And, wherever possible, there are animals: horses, dogs, cats ferrets, squirrels… sometimes it’s easier to bond with a non-human, and most of Kate’s men need all the help they can get.

After five years of writing, Kate is still learning, still stretching herself, and still enjoying what she does. She’s looking forward to sharing a lot more stories in the future.

Embers by Kate Sherwood

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.

Embers: by Kate Sherwood
Series: Common Law, #2
Release Date: Febuary 6th, 2017
Pages: 197 • Format: eARC
Published By: Riptide
Purchase Links:
RiptideBarnes & Noble

Small town—big problems. Jericho Crewe is back in Mosely, Montana, trying to deal with police corruption, interfering feds, his newly discovered family members, and, of course, Wade Granger.

He doesn’t really need a biker war on top of it all, but as the bodies start to pile up, it becomes pretty clear that’s what he’s got. Not only that, but Wade’s involved somehow, and as soon as Wade is a part of something, things that seemed clear become cloudy.

With the feds breathing down his neck, Jericho has to find his way through Wade’s maze of half truths and manipulations. It would all be so much easier if Jericho could think straight in the other man’s presence. So much easier if their passionate past could be forgotten, and if he could be sure he’s strong enough to resist the temptation of a passionate present.

four-stars

 

Romantic Suspense gives me a damn headache. I know the “suspense, mystery” aspect of the story takes precedent but the romance is harder to find then common sense in this series. I’m being very patience but if this is the formula to romantic suspense then it’s no wonder why I don’t read it.

Now to the story at hand!! Something’s ain’t right. In my heart of hearts I believe Wade is something bigger that what we know. He just seems so fishy to me. I’m not necessarily saying he’s bad, but I believe that he’s going to be on the good side at the end of the day. I’m crossing my fingers on it.

Jericho buddy, what are you getting yourself into? This book picks up a few months after one. Jericho has came home to help the sheriff find corruption. That’s what he thinks, but he always seems to end up at the wrong place at the wrong time. He’s into 4 threads in this book, and wondering what he is doing. On top of dealing with the feds, Kayla, Wade, the other countless possibilities, he’s dealing with Nikki and her shenanigans. I don’t like her at all. She’s nothing but a user, and I understand why he won’t walk away. Those kids, they a little cray cray, but they are his siblings.

Wade has found his way into the middle of this situation yet again. This time he did everything for the benefit of himself. He’s a business man, and kinda reptile like as well. Whatever love Wade & Jericho had, I’m not sure if I trust it enough for the outcome to turn out well.

Hockley may have turned a corner with me, but I don’t put much stock in it just yet. Good thing I have book 3 and 4 from Netgalley to read in the new few weeks. I think this was a good continuation to the series, and I look forward to more!

About Kate Sherwood

Kate Sherwood started writing about the same time she got back on a horse after almost twenty years away from riding. She’d like to think she was too young for it to be a midlife crisis, but apparently she was ready for some changes!

Kate grew up near Toronto, Ontario (Canada) and went to school in Montreal, then Vancouver. But for the last decade or so she’s been a country girl. Sure, she misses some of the conveniences of the city, but living close to nature makes up for those lacks. She’s living in Ontario’s “cottage country”–other people save up their time and come to spend their vacations in her neighborhood, but she gets to live there all year round!

Since her first book was published in 2010, she’s kept herself busy with novels, novellas, and short stories in almost all the sub-genres of m/m romance. Contemporary, suspense, scifi or fantasy–the settings are just the backdrop for her characters to answer the important questions. How much can they share, and what do they need to keep? Can they bring themselves to trust someone, after being disappointed so many times? Are they brave enough to take a chance on love?

Kate’s books balance drama with humor, angst with optimism. They feature strong, damaged men who fight themselves harder than they fight anyone else. And, wherever possible, there are animals: horses, dogs, cats ferrets, squirrels… sometimes it’s easier to bond with a non-human, and most of Kate’s men need all the help they can get.

After five years of writing, Kate is still learning, still stretching herself, and still enjoying what she does. She’s looking forward to sharing a lot more stories in the future.

Working It by Christine D’Abo

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.

Working It: by Christine D’Abo
Series: Ringside Romance #1
Release Date: February 6, 2017
Pages: 247 • Format: eARC
Published By: Riptide Publishing
Purchase Links:
RiptideKobo

Nolan Carmichael is getting a fresh start—new career, new company, new life. The only problem is, he liked his old life just fine . . . until an accident robbed him of his health, his job, his self-confidence, and his ability to go out in public without having anxiety attacks.

Zack Anderson has scared away his last four administrative assistants. So when he hires Nolan on a whim, he’s not too worried, since Nolan will be gone within the week anyway. Two weeks later, Nolan has made himself indispensable, completely reforming Zack’s schedule, life . . . and libido.

But in a company already torn by internal politics, one wrong step could ruin both their careers. And not only are they working to reopen Ringside Gym, Zack’s retreat when he was a troubled teen, but they also can’t help themselves falling for each other. If only the rest of their lives could go as smoothly as things do when they’re alone together.

three-half-stars

 

Dude!!! What happened???? The first half of the story was going extremely well, and then it declined rapidly. Hmm no. That’s not how it was suppose to happen at all. Working it was going well as enemies to lovers story. I recall stating in previous reviews that I don’t like clingy, needy, or PUSHOVERS as characters. I know realistically they are out there, but I really hate it. Nolan was going well as a character, but then at some point, he decided to be a pushover. It’s nothing wrong with it in a committed relationship, but someone like Zach will always be able to pushover a potential lover because he doesn’t have to own up to anything. FFS, it wasn’t that serious, and a day could have waited. I’m just a strong willed woman, and I refuse to accept certain behaviors from people.

Nolan is trying to get a fresh start again in life. After a life altering accident he is willing himself to get back into the world. Dealing with anxiety and panic attacks doesn’t make it easy. He decides to take a job where his skills exceed his skills. Sure he’s skittish at first, but something in him calls to Zach. Difficult Zach, who is super abrasive, demanding, and not a people person at all. Zach seems to have all this pent up frustration and anger inside of him. He’s super demanding, and doesn’t seem to have a heart. With all these qualities, I had to stop to think what about Nolan called to him. Why, Nolan? He was on the cusp of an anxiety attack during their first meeting. It couldn’t be attraction, because both stated numerous times how they weren’t each other types. Not knowing each of Zach’s backstory I can only presume that besides Nolan being the opposite of him, he’s always never cared for someone. This is something that I wish the author would have wrote about. I would have loved to see a backstory on Zach. I can definitely see when the chemistry between the two started, sure it moved fairly quickly. I do think professional wise that they work wonders together. It shows a glimpse of how they could be personally. I really loved seeing the difference between Zach and his careers. The CTO job is just a stepping stone to something he loves. The Boxing gym that saved his life is something that he is putting his blood, sweat, and tears into. I think seeing more of this in a potential epilogue would have garnered a higher rating from me. 

I didn’t like the Miranda obstacle in the story. That sentence seems a little mean, but that story line did nothing for the story. I don’t like filler information, and I didn’t gain anything from it. Zach’s reaction to the situation was spot on. I’m still confused on what the author was trying to show with it. It didn’t help at all. **Sigh**, the L word was used at the end. Do I think it was to early? Yes, these two have a lot to work on, and we didn’t get to see them grow at all. All in all, I thought it started off really well, but declined around the 50% part of the story. I will read book two. This was an ok read for me.

About Christine D’Abo

A romance novelist and short story writer, Christine has over thirty publications to her name. She loves to exercise and stops writing just long enough to keep her body in motion too. When she’s not pretending to be a ninja in her basement, she’s most likely spending time with her family and two dogs.

My thoughts on any of my Goodreads reviews are only my opinion as a reader. I don’t post anything here that I’d give less than three stars to.

Wanted, A Gentleman by K.J. Charles

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.

Wanted, A Gentleman: by K.J. Charles
Release Date: January 9, 2017
Pages: 155 • Format: eARC
Published By: Riptide
Purchase Links:
RiptideKobo

By the good offices of Riptide Publishing
KJ Charles’s new Entertainment

WANTED, A GENTLEMAN
Or, Virtue Over-Rated

the grand romance of

Mr. Martin St. Vincent . . . a Merchant with a Mission, also a Problem
Mr. Theodore Swann . . . a humble Scribbler and Advertiser for Love

Act the First:

the offices of the Matrimonial Advertiser, London
where Lonely Hearts may seek one another for the cost of a shilling

Act the Second: a Pursuit to Gretna Green (or thereabouts)  featuring  a speedy Carriage
sundry rustic Inns  a private Bed-chamber  In the course of which are presented Romance, Revenge, and Redemption Deceptions, Discoveries, and Desires  the particulars of which are too numerous to impart

four-stars

So I enjoyed this but didn’t love it. Yeah, me didn’t love it. I haven’t read many KJ Charles books where I didn’t love them, but this was missing something. I don’t know if they adventure took up much of the story whereas the romance side got kinda pushed to the way side, and the ending was rushed. I am feeling a little cheated by the ending. It does not seem very KJ Charles-ish to me. I could be wrong and be super picky because I adore her writing and characters.

I really enjoyed the fact that Martin was based on a real person. I love that she did the background information on the actual person and equated it into a possible love story-ish. Martin is a free man in 1805 London. There he is treated with a certain dignity and respect seeing as he is an educated free man with his own businesses to attend to. He has a relationship with the family that purchased him, and freed him. He has all these internal feelings about it. Should he be friendly? Is it morally right? What does he stand to lose if he cuts off the relationship? Whatever you can feel, Martin is currently feeling it. When the family in questions asks for his help in saving their daughter. He agrees to it, only for extreme loyalty to the daughter. After all he’s known her since she was born, and never had a bad thing to say about her. Enter one Mr. Theodore Swann. The owner of newspaper advertisement for lonely hearts.

Theo is lonely as well, but it pays the bills. He’s also an undercover author who uses a pseudonym to write. His job is to print ads to the lonely heart people. When Martin storm his office, its like lightning struck. Okay, that could have been my interpretation. LOL. Theo is immediately attracted to Martin, but personality they seem to clash. I did like the adventure to the story, and figuring out the whodunit or if it’s true. It seemed shorter then other books, or maybe it was fast paced. I would have liked the romance side of the story to be prolonged, and I’m not happy at all at the ending. It was rushed, and I think we were cheated. I would have loved Martin & Theo to talk and get to know each other so more onscreen. I wanted to see them in a different atmosphere without the actual plot hanging over their heads.

All in all, this was a pretty good story! I enjoyed Martin & Theodore’s tale of the lonely hearts meeting. I think KJ did a good job with the time period, terminology and setting. I always love her authenticity of her stories. I look forward to more from her, and I can recommend this title. Charles usually flavor and style is definitely here.!

About K.J. Charles

KJ Charles is a writer and freelance editor. She lives in London with her husband, two kids, an out-of-control garden and an increasingly murderous cat.

KJ writes mostly romance, gay and straight, frequently historical, and usually with some fantasy or horror in there. She specialises in editing romance, especially historical and fantasy, and also edits children’s fiction.

Find her on Twitter @kj_charles or on Facebook, join her Facebook group, or email her at kjcharleswriter {at] gmail {dot} com. She is represented by Deidre Knight at The Knight Agency, and published by Samhain and Loveswept.

Long Shadows by Kate Sherwood

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.

Long Shadows: by Kate Sherwood
Series:Common Law, #1
Release Date: January 2, 2017
Pages: 184 • Format: eARC
Published By: Riptide Publishing
Purchase Links:
Riptide

LA cop Jericho Crewe got the hell out of Mosely, Montana, when he was seventeen. Fifteen years later, he’s back, and everything is just as messed up as when he left. He planned a quick visit to deal with his injured father, but of course things are never that simple. Family complications, police complications, social complications—and, as always, Wade Granger complications.

Jericho and Wade had been so close, once upon a time. First friends, then more than friends—and then, after Jericho’s escape, nothing. Wade’s magnetism hasn’t been lessened by a decade and a half apart; even when Jericho learns that Wade is the prime suspect in the death of Jericho’s father, the old connection still sparks.

When Jericho’s newly discovered half siblings are kidnapped, he needs to trust someone to help him find them. Wade’s a terrible choice, but Jericho’s never been known for his good judgment. Anyway, he’d rather make a bad decision with Wade than a good one with anybody else.

three-half-stars

I’ve read a few books by this author, and always felt like her and I don’t get along. I can never mesh well together when I read her books. When I saw the cover for this book on Netgalley, I immediately wanted to click it. I did click it, and was super happy. I had to tell myself it doesn’t matter how I feel about her past books, but only this one. I’m not a fan of the romantic suspense genre. It just doesn’t work for me. I prefer mystery/thriller and the romance doesn’t even have to play a part. I should not have been worried, because I liked this story. There is no romance in this first book, I’m sure book two will probably see something but Jericho and Wade have a lot of soul searching to do by then.

Jericho left Mosely 15 years ago and never looked back. I liked Jericho as a character. He had his little flaws, but he wanted to prove to people and himself that leaving Mosely was the best thing he could do for himself. He’s successful in his own way, but one can never forget their first love. Enter Wade Granger. All around criminal and bad guy. Yet, by the end of the story I’m not so sure about Wade’s character. He seems to good hearted to be a full blown criminal and bad enough to want to hurt Jericho for leaving him behind. I’m still trying to figure them out.

I did enjoy the pacing of the story. I really liked the mystery element to the story. I’m not so sure about everyone’s motives at this point, but it was only book 1 and I’m sure by book 4 everything will be much clearer. I’m proud that I allowed myself to give Kate Sherwood another try. This goes to show you that every book doesn’t have to work for you, but you never know what might be good for someone else. If you like suspenseful stories, and a good love connection/background between two characters then this is your book. Definitely recommend this book.

About Kate Sherwood

Kate Sherwood started writing about the same time she got back on a horse after almost twenty years away from riding. She’d like to think she was too young for it to be a midlife crisis, but apparently she was ready for some changes!

Kate grew up near Toronto, Ontario (Canada) and went to school in Montreal, then Vancouver. But for the last decade or so she’s been a country girl. Sure, she misses some of the conveniences of the city, but living close to nature makes up for those lacks. She’s living in Ontario’s “cottage country”–other people save up their time and come to spend their vacations in her neighborhood, but she gets to live there all year round!

Since her first book was published in 2010, she’s kept herself busy with novels, novellas, and short stories in almost all the sub-genres of m/m romance. Contemporary, suspense, scifi or fantasy–the settings are just the backdrop for her characters to answer the important questions. How much can they share, and what do they need to keep? Can they bring themselves to trust someone, after being disappointed so many times? Are they brave enough to take a chance on love?

Kate’s books balance drama with humor, angst with optimism. They feature strong, damaged men who fight themselves harder than they fight anyone else. And, wherever possible, there are animals: horses, dogs, cats ferrets, squirrels… sometimes it’s easier to bond with a non-human, and most of Kate’s men need all the help they can get.

After five years of writing, Kate is still learning, still stretching herself, and still enjoying what she does. She’s looking forward to sharing a lot more stories in the future.

Glass Tidings by Amy Jo Cousins

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.

glass-tidingsGlass Tidings: by Amy Jo Cousins
Series: 2016 Holiday Charity Bundle
Release Date: December 5th, 2016
Pages: 226 • Format: eARC
Published By:
Purchase Links:
RiptideAmazon

Eddie Rodrigues doesn’t stay in one place long enough to get attached. The only time he broke that rule, things went south fast. Now he’s on the road again, with barely enough cash in his pocket to hop a bus south after his (sort-of-stolen) car breaks down in the middle of nowhere, Midwest, USA.

He’s fine. He’ll manage. Until he watches that girl get hit by a car and left to die.

Local shop owner Grayson Croft isn’t in the habit of doing people any favors. But even a recluse can’t avoid everyone in a town as small as Clear Lake. And when the cop who played Juliet to your Romeo in the high school play asks you to put up her key witness for the night, you say yes.

Now Gray’s got a grouchy glass artist stomping around his big, empty house, and it turns out that he . . . maybe . . . kind of . . . likes the company.

But Eddie Rodrigues never sticks around.

Unless a Christmas shop owner who hates the season can show an orphan what it means to have family for the holidays.

 

three-stars

 

You guys, I really tried! So much angst, and I can’t live for this.

 

This was suppose to be my second take with Amy Jo Cousins, I have stayed CLEARED away from her since Off Campus. Off Campus was way too angsty for my taste. I’m a chicken. I don’t deal well with angst. Glass Tidings was so hard for me to get through. I kinda got defeated midpoint through the story. I LOATHED the non communication between these two. It was so much internal dialogue, and not enough dialogue between the characters. This is no way in shape form against Cousins, since its her style and people rock with it. It’s just me and my taste doesn’t sway that way.

Because of so much internal monologue going on, I don’t know if I really like Eddie & Gray. I mean, overall I think them enough, but it could be because I wanted the story to be over. Both guys are dealing with internal measures. Eddie is basically a grifter and meets Gray because of witnessing a accident. Gray is a loner, and is okay being a loner. Eddie is a products of the system and for him he doesn’t believe that people do anything for the goodness of their heart. Gray is still reeling from being left from a past lover.

This was definitely a slow burn romance. It took a long time for them to take any step towards romance. It was a lot of walking around each other in circles and the copious amount of internal monologue. It was a bit emotional and so freaking intense, but I think that has to do with the angst. I can’t recommend this for my reading pleasure, because I didn’t like it as much as I expected. It might be perfect for people who enjoy this writing style, and the way the author weaves a story.

About Amy Jo Cousins

Amy Jo Cousins lives in Chicago, where she writes contemporary romance, tweets more than she ought, and sometimes runs way too far. She loves her boy and the Cubs, who taught her that being awesome doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with winning.

Friendly Fire by Cari Z.

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.

cariFriendly Fire: by Cari Z.
Release Date: October 17, 2016
Pages: 252 • Format: eARC
Published By: Riptide
Purchase Links:
Riptide

Elliot McKenzie is the king of reinvention. Five years after losing his job and his lover and almost going to prison, his self-help program, Charmed Life, is more successful than he’d ever dreamed. He thinks he’s put his sordid past firmly behind him, until he starts receiving cryptic threats . . . and realizes it might not be as over as he’d hoped.

Security expert Lennox West has been lost since a deadly skirmish in Afghanistan led to his forced retirement from the Army. His PTSD makes helping his ex raise their daughter a challenge. When his ex’s sister asks him to set her boss up with a security system, Lennox isn’t expecting anyone like Elliot McKenzie—a man who captures his attention and makes him feel relaxed for the first time since leaving the service.

But Elliott is dangerously stubborn. Even as the threats against him escalate, he refuses to involve the police, and Lennox fears that stubbornness could kill him. A battle of wills ensues that brings them closer to each other than either man expected. But if the threats turn real, they might not live long enough to get their future together.

three-half-stars

The only thing that saved me from DNF the book was my need to see the end through. I liked the first half of the story, the two bad people were obvious, or at least one of them was. I enjoyed the writing a lot. It pushed me through the end. At the end of the story, I don’t know if I like the relationship. They didn’t really bond for me. I guess I wanted more passion from the couple and that’s what I found that was seriously lacking! I liked Lennox a lot and kinda loved his name. (It went on my future’s children name list)! I like Elliot for the most part, but I hated his job. It bothered me more then the story. I felt like we were leading up to this amazing story line and it wasn’t apart of the story. I didn’t like his career from the get go, but it became the focal point of why these two guys were together and I don’t get a glimpse of what Elliot does to make it special. Another thing was the getting to see him and Vanessa together. That bothered me. I wanted that scene for myself since Elliot cared so much about letting things happen to him just so Vanessa career wouldn’t get hurt.

I can’t speak for other readers but I look for things I can relate to in novels. I like the realistic idea that Elliot screwed up in life so he is atoning for his mistakes by not being a burden to his sister. Yeah, he had some really crazy things happen to him, but he was so worried about messing up Vanessa’s life that we get word of mouth instead of the actual scene. I’m greedy, I guess I wanted to be able to relate to him in some sort of fashion. I wasn’t to thrilled about the outcome.

Lennox was the type of person that you need to warm up to. He kinda comes of stand offish, but I like to call that “gentlemanly stoic”. He seems like to be in a difficult head space in life. I don’t really know the time frame from him being out the military to present day now. He seemed to be atoning for mistakes he things he’s made, but that’s one thing we don’t get to see about Lennox. I feel like his story wasn’t finished. He didn’t get enough personal screen time to me, and I wanted him to come to terms with his own grievances. It’s a part in the book where he is telling Elliot about his reassurances and atoning for prior mistakes. I don’t know if that was a light bulb moment for Lennox, but it didn’t seem he got the closure to me.

All in all, this was an okay read. I enjoyed the writing way more then the execution of the story. I don’t think it gelled well after the 50% mark. I really would have liked one trope to have been the main focus. Instead, I feel like the mystery/suspense as in competition with the romance side of the story. I will definitely check out more from this author though.

About Cari Z.

Cari Z. is a Colorado girl who loves snow and sunshine. She has a wonderful relationship with her husband, a complex relationship with the characters in her head and a sadomasochistic relationship with her exercise routine. She feels like Halloween should happen every month, which is why you get this picture of her, and hopes that you enjoy reading what she’s put out there as much as she enjoyed writing it in the first place.

Rented Heart by Garrett Leigh

(Website, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads)three-stars
Rented Heart Book Cover Rented Heart
Garrett Leigh
Gay Romance
Riptide Publishing
September 10th 2016
e-book
228

Ex-surfer-turned-businessman Liam Mallaney moved back to Holkham, Norfolk, to mourn the loss of his husband. Grief and loneliness keep him a solitary figure, and he likes it that way. There’s no room in his broken heart for anything else.

Rentboy Zac Payne left London and most of his demons behind, but he still only knows one way to make a living. When he spots Liam in a club one night, it seems he’s found his mark. But Liam proves nicer—and their connection far deeper—than he’d bargained for.

Their arrangement quickly becomes too complicated for Zac, who has other things on his mind: namely his BFF and wayward flatmate, Jamie. Zac owes Jamie the world, and even as Jamie’s drug addiction destroys all they have, Zac won’t leave him behind.

Besides, Liam knows nothing of Zac’s home life, too caught up in his own head to think much beyond the crazy heat he and Zac share. But when trouble comes to Zac’s door, putting his life in danger, Liam must set his grief and anger aside to pick up the pieces of Zac’s shattered heart and his own.

This book didn’t stimulate any feelings of empathy in me or draw me in on any level. The writing was easy to follow but the story felt shallow and ordinary. Rich man Liam Mallaney was in mourning since his husband Cory passed away and he was lonely. After about a year of celibacy, Liam went out to a club. The man he met turned out to be a sex worker Zac Payne and after incredible sex, they found that they couldn’t stop thinking about each other.

There was baggage on both sides, but it was kind of dull Pretty Woman/man story.
Though more time was spent on Zac’s background, I didn’t find that the author really developed both characters that well. Given this author’s prior work, I was surprised with the slow pace of the story and the lack of emotional connection I felt.

*Special Thanks to Riptide Publishing via Netgalley for the e-book given in exchange for an honest review.

About Garrett Leigh

Garrett Leigh is a British writer and book designer, currently working for Dreamspinner Press, Loose Id, Riptide Publishing, and Black Jazz Press. Her protagonists will always always be tortured, crippled, broken, and deeply flawed. Throw in a tale of enduring true love, some stubbly facial hair, and a bunch of tattoos, and you’ve got yourself a Garrett special.

When not writing, Garrett can generally be found procrastinating on Twitter, cooking up a storm, or sitting on her behind doing as little as possible. That, and dreaming up new ways to torture her characters. Garrett believes in happy endings; she just likes to make her boys work for it.

Garrett also works as a freelance cover artist for various publishing houses and independent authors. For cover art info, please visit blackjazzdesign.com

Interborough, by Santino Hassell

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.

tinoInterborough: by Santino Hassell
Series: Five Boroughs, #4
Release Date: October 24, 2016
Pages: 249 • Format: eARC
Published By: Riptide
Purchase Links:
Riptide

The Raymond Rodriguez from a few years ago wouldn’t recognize the guy he is today. He’s left his slacker ways far behind him and is now juggling two jobs and school. But the balancing act doesn’t allow much time for the man he loves.

David is doing his best to be supportive, but problems at work and his own insecurity leave him frustrated—in more ways than the obvious—whenever he goes to bed before Raymond gets home. The heat and affection between them is still there, but they barely have the time or energy to enjoy it. And it doesn’t help that Raymond is still hiding David from his colleagues.

The stress mounts so high that a vacation in paradise is filled with turmoil instead of harmony, and culminates on their return to the five boroughs with broken promises and heartache. They have to figure out how to stop allowing their differences to overshadow their love. It’s the only way they’ll make it to forever.

four-half-stars


Don’t even look Raymond’s way. I got this.

Listen up folks, when Sunset Park came out, I saw all the negative comments about the couple. I didn’t argue with anyone, everyone had a right to their own opinion. I’m okay with you not liking Rayvid together. Perfectly fine in my world. It takes alot of emotions for me to fall in love with a character. I literally will read their story a bajillion times throughout the year. My list is 5 guys. It’s never changed for the last 5 years maybe. It’s always Zsadist, Zane, Reyes, Vadim, and Cole. It’s been these 5 forever. When I read Sunset Park, Raymond literally crawled under my skin. He imprinted on my soul. That’s the only honest way to describe the feeling I get when I talk about Ray and read about him. I have to tip my hat to Santino Hassell. The man can write. It’s beautifully flawed. His story telling, his realism, and his emotions are so powerful that you can do nothing but show the man some damn respect. It’s only a handful of authors who can read series and all be high 4 and 5’s. It’s not easy and you might get bored with the same story just regurgitated. I’ve had this book for a while, and it took everything in me not to crack it open. I wanted it to be fresh for release day, and get to openly discuss with my peers all the growth we see in these characters.

It’s been almost 2 years since David and Ray got together. There’s been growth that we can see on page for both guys. I loved Ray’s transition to being “an adult”. He went from everyone providing for him to holding down two jobs and going to school. I loved seeing his passion about being his own man. David is still there, going through the motions with his career that left him feeling uncertain. I really like David. He’s someone who lives in his head, and I know plenty of people like that. David needs constant reassurance about their relationship. I actually felt David was right. He had plenty of reasons for why he felt the way he did. The biggest problem in their relationship was the lack of communication. It’s authentic. Sure having sex feels good for that moment of time, and afterwards but you problems come back big time. I feel like the stress of life got to these two.

Hassell wrote a book that everyone should be able to relate to. Hell I had these problems in the beginning of my relationship. Going to school and work, leaves your love life feeling destitute. I really enjoyed seeing all the different cast of characters. Loved seeing more of Ray’s friends, and even Michael and Nunzio. This was an appropriate representation of a relationship in the real world for me. Can I say it was perfect? No. I wanted to throttle both of them on numerous times, was I happy with the outcome? Yes!! Did I cry? Fuck yes. Was it another baby makers? Check back with me in 9 months for certain.

All in all, I truly loved this book. It’s possible my love for Raymond overlooks everything. I can see myself re-reading it that’s for damn sure. I had some good times with this crew, and how about that epilogue? Oh my goodness, I definitely cried. It was amazing. I highly recommend this series. I think you’ll find yourself enraptured by these characters from book 1 up until now.

About Santino Hassell

Santino was raised by a conservative family, but he was anything but traditional. He grew up to be a smart-mouthed grunge kid, then a transient twenty-something, and eventually transformed into a guy who spends his days and nights writing romance with an edge.

Santino is a dedicated gamer, a former fanfic writer, an ASoIaF mega nerd, a Grindr enthusiast, but most of all he is a writer of queer fiction that is heavily influenced by the gritty, urban landscape of New York City, his belief that human relationships are complex and flawed, and his own life experiences.