Love Lessons (Love Lessons #1) by Heidi Cullinan

Series:
Narrator: Iggy Toma
(Website, Blog, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads)four-stars
Love Lessons Book Cover Love Lessons
Love Lessons #1
Heidi Cullinan
Gay Romance; Contemporary Romance
Samhain
October 1st 2013
audibook
379

Love doesn’t come with a syllabus.

Kelly Davidson has waited what seems like forever to graduate high school and get out of his small-minded, small town. But when he arrives at Hope University, he quickly realizes finding his Prince Charming isn’t so easy. Everyone here is already out. In fact, Kelly could be the only virgin on campus.

Worst of all, he’s landed the charming, handsome, gay campus Casanova as a roommate, whose bed might as well be equipped with a revolving door.

Walter Lucas doesn’t believe in storybook love. Everyone is better off having as much fun as possible with as many people as possible…except his shy, sad little sack of a roommate is seriously screwing up his world view.

As Walter sets out to lure Kelly out of his shell, staying just friends is harder than he anticipated. He discovers love is a crash course in determination. To make the grade, he’ll have to finally show up for class…and overcome his own private fear that love was never meant to last.

Warning: This story contains lingering glances, milder than usual sexual content for this author, and a steamy dance-floor kiss. Story has no dairy or egg content, but may contain almonds.

Kelly Davidson is an incoming freshman to Hope University and he’s petrified. First, he has some allergies that limit what dorm he can reside in as well as what foods he can eat. Plus, he is finally coming out as a gay young man. Imagine his surprise when he finds out at the very last minute that he has a roommate, Walter Lucas.

Walter Lucas, a junior, just wants to finish school while minimizing the stress of his family life. When he lands freshman Kelly for a roommate, it seems like it’s one more person he has to look out for. But Kelly just brings him joy. Being around Kelly is like seeing the world through fresh and untainted eyes. Kelly is sweet, thoughtful and just curious of life outside the little bubble his parents raised him in. No one to give him lessons like love-’em-and-leave-’em Walter. Except Walter doesn’t want to ruin Kelly’s views on love and sex. So the new best friends attempt to tiptoe around what’s going on between them.

Iggy Toma nailed this book. It was sweet, humorous and had that college angst that draws on the reader’s emotions. His narration was easy to follow, and he didn’t use overly dramatic voices for Walter and Kelly. His voice just flowed with the story and I was immersed in the college world.

Kelly and Walter were opposites and that’s why they worked so well as a couple. The effort the author made in developing the characters showed because their chemistry felt so real. For most of the story, there was a range of emotions.
I docked it a star because towards the latter part, the pace slowed down a lot and I just wanted to know how it concluded.
Even so, the writing and the plot was awesome. I look forward to book 2.

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.

Pressure Head by J.L. Merrow

pressure-headPressure Head by J.L. Merrow
Series: The Plumber’s Mate, Book One
Release Date: September 18, 2012
Pages: 279 • Format: ebook
Published By: Samhain Publishing Ltd.
Purchase Links:
SamhainAmazonARe

Some secrets are better left hidden.

To most of the world, Tom Paretski is just a plumber with a cheeky attitude and a dodgy hip, souvenir of a schoolboy accident. The local police keep his number on file for a different reason—his sixth sense for finding hidden things.

When he’s called in to help locate the body of a missing woman up on Nomansland Common, he unexpectedly encounters someone who resurrects a host of complicated emotions. Phil Morrison, Tom’s old school crush, now a private investigator working the same case. And the former bully partly responsible for Tom’s injury.

The shocks keep coming. Phil is now openly gay, and shows unmistakable signs of interest. Tom’s attraction to the big, blond investigator hasn’t changed—in fact, he’s even more desirable all grown up. But is Phil’s interest genuine, or does he only want to use Tom’s talent?

As the pile of complicated evidence surrounding the woman’s murder grows higher, so does the heat between Tom and Phil. But opening himself to this degree exposes Tom’s heart in a way he’s not sure he’s ready for…while the murderer’s trigger finger is getting increasingly twitchy.

Warning: Contains a flirtatious plumber with hidden talents, a cashmere-clad private investigator with hidden depths, and an English village chock full of colourful characters with plenty to hide.

five-stars

Who is an ass for waiting so long to read this book? *raises hand* Why hasn’t someone smacked my ginger self and told me how much I would love Tom and Phil? Ugh. Love is a light word to describe how I feel about those two and this book.

Tom Paretski has a talent, a talent for finding hidden things and well, water. His talents lend to his day job as a plumber and his side job as a consultant for the police department. When he is called out on a case to find a missing girl, he comes face to face with is crush from his youth and the jerk who created all kinds of trouble for Tom, aka Phil Morrison. OMG! Seriously? Merrow has gone and created one of my favorite types of characters; the redeemable asshole, and made me fall for him so fast regardless of his jerk antics.

Goodness this book was everything and then some. It has unrequited love on both sides, it has mystery, it has UST, it has witty and quirky banter, intimacy, humor, romance and just… yeah. This book is, was and forever will be everything and it’s now one of my all-time favorites.

So Tom and his crush, Phil meet again. Tom holds a grudge and a flame for Phil but knowing that Phil was part of the accident that put Tom in hospital and hurt him badly, makes you not wanna like Phil at all. BUT, redeemable assholes need their place in romance because they usually turn out to be smooth and swoony to the point of turning me to goo. Yup, Phil has the goo talent.

Phil is private investigator who is working the same case where he meets Tom again. He doesn’t really believe in Tom’s talent but decides to ask him on a view visits to folks who may be hiding something and that something could solve this latest murder. I loved the visits and the menagerie of suspects we meet along the way. What a colorful cast of characters this book has. I mean, Tom’s reaction to Robin East was awkward but adorably hilarious and Tom… that man is so clueless it’s endearing AF!

I really am trying to gather words that make sense to tell you how awesome this book was. To tell you I usually have figure out who done it with mysteries but I was so wrapped up in the stellar story telling that I let the book play out and went with it. I was so wrapped up in Tom and Phil that when we find out what Phil is hiding it kicked me straight in the feels. I was kinda expecting it to go along those lines but when Tom says “But—I thought you hated me!” and we get Phil’s reaction???? Cue the feels and shred my heart because that was so freaking intense. Yup, if I didn’t like Phil before, that right there made me adore him beyond the beyond.

So this book, it was oh so good! The mystery was mysterious. The romance was romantic. The humor was hilarious and the men were on point to make me smile and melt many times over.

I am so happy I finally read this and giddy that I have more books read with Tom and Phil. How is it possible to ever get enough of them?

Shhhh! That was rhetorical….*grins*

 

 

About J.L. Merrow

JL Merrow is that rare beast, and English person who refuses to drink tea. She read Natural Sciences at Cambridge, where she learned many things, chief amongst which was that she never wanted to see the inside of a lab ever again. Her one regret is that she never mastered the ability of punting one-handed whilst holding a glass of champagne.

She writes across genres, with a preference for contemporary gay romance and and mysteries, and is frequently accused of humour. Her novel Slam! won the 2013 Rainbow Award for Best LGBT Romantic Comedy and her novella Muscling Through and novel Relief Valve were both EPIC Awards Finalists.

JL Merrow is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, International Thriller Writers, Verulam Writers’ Circle and the UK GLBTQ Fiction Meet organising team.

Rag and Bone (Rag and Bone #1) 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.

rag-and-boneRag And Bone by K.J. Charles
Series: Rag and Bone
Release Date:March 1, 2016
Pages: 146• Format: eARC
Published By: Samhain Publishing
Purchase Links:
SamhainAmazon • ARe

It’s amazing what people throw away…

Crispin Tredarloe never meant to become a warlock. Freed from his treacherous master, he’s learning how to use his magical powers the right way. But it’s brutally hard work. Not everyone believes he’s a reformed character, and the strain is putting unbearable pressure on his secret relationship with waste-man Ned Hall.

Ned’s sick of magic. Sick of the trouble it brings, sick of its dangerous grip on Crispin and the miserable look it puts in his eyes, and sick of being afraid that a gentleman magician won’t want a street paper-seller forever—or even for much longer.

But something is stirring among London’s forgotten discards. An ancient evil is waking up and seeking its freedom. And when wild magic hits the rag-and-bottle shop where Ned lives, a panicking Crispin falls back onto bad habits. The embattled lovers must find a way to work together—or London could go up in flames.

This story is set in the world of the Charm of Magpies series.

Warning: Contains a warlock who needs to go straight (but isn’t), a waste-man running out of patience, blood magic, bad-tempered justiciars, and a pen with a mind of its own.

four-stars

Once again K.J. Charles takes us into this fun world of Magic & Mayhem with a side of romance. This book continued on from the short that was released a month ago. Ned & Crispin are becoming more and more chummy with one another. Crispin is trying to work on his magic for the greater good. Crispin is trying to do better, and learn the right way to work his magic. Once again his is partnered with someone doing more bad then good. I really like that this is in the same world as A Charm of Magpies. The justicary department is still dealing with things from the past summer when Crispin is partnered with a new teacher. He feels good about it. He feels good about Ned. Ned the paper man who is absolutely sick of magic. It doesn’t help that he is a Flit himself, or a person who can see or hear the ether.

The feels in this one is so K.J. Charles. Every time Ned called Crispin “Freckles” I swooned. I mean it was his own special nickname for the man that he was falling in love with. I love how their relationship developed. They basically realized that they loved one another after bad things have happened between them. It puts things into perspective after basically dying yet again. The magic in this one was so good. I loved the magic in this one. The magic was so good. I swear, I don’t want to compare but those bottles and His Evilness Voldemort horcuxes had me giddy with joy. I loved how Crispin & Ned worked well together. I think K.J. Charles did another great job with this installment. I can’t wait for more from this series as well as the little nugget at the end of the story.

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.

Clockwork Heart (Clockwork Love #1), 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.

clockwork-heartClockwork Heart by Heidi Cullinan Series: Clockwork Love
Release Date: February 2, 2016
Pages: 248 • Published by: Samhain Publishing  • Format: eARC
Purchase Links: Samhain  Amazon • ARe

Love, adventure and a steaming good time.

As the French army leader’s bastard son, Cornelius Stevens enjoys a great deal of latitude. But when he saves an enemy soldier using clockwork parts, he’s well aware he risks hanging for treason. That doesn’t worry him half as much, however, as the realization he’s falling for his patient.

Johann Berger never expected to survive his regiment’s suicide attack on Calais, much less wake up with mechanical parts. To avoid discovery, he’s forced to hide in plain sight as Cornelius’s lover—a role Johann finds himself taking to surprisingly well.

When a threat is made on Cornelius’s life, Johann learns the secret of the device implanted in his chest—a mythical weapon both warring countries would kill to obtain. Caught up in a political frenzy, in league with pirates, dodging rogue spies, mobsters and princesses with deadly parasols, Cornelius and Johann have no time to contemplate how they ended up in this mess. All they know is, the only way out is together—or not at all.

Warning: Contains tinkers, excessive clockwork appendages, and a cloud-sweeping tour of Europe. A little absinthe, a little theft, a little exhibitionism. Men who love men, women who love women, and some who aren’t particular.

five-stars

Wow. I feel so star struck right now. Like starry eyed and happy. This book is awesome. I would have never picked up a steampunk book. Or I think steampunk is for me if this is what I’m going to get. Heidi Cullinan you rock. I don’t even have all the words to get out how much I really enjoyed it. This is such a great cast of characters. I loved the concept from beginning to end, and it really is well written. Immediately after finishing my first thoughts were for me to re-read it again and Valentin & Crawley better be book two. Ugh you can feel all the UST from them.

Cornelius and Johan two guys who make love look almost easy . Their coming together wasn’t easy, but it doesn’t matter because we see the love between the two. Johan seems so much older than he is, he embraced this gift that Conny gave him and was fantastic. I like the way the story molded together. I also really enjoyed that I wasn’t able to figure anything out. I read it in one sitting, it’s hard to step away from it. I can’t even explain in words how Conny & Johan were. Just read the book people. Their personalities definitely matched each other.

I can’t really say anything without spoiling it, but the way these two came together is still so beautiful. I felt like I was watching an action movie. That is how good it is, every little sequence kept me on the edge of my seat. We had the espionage, historical facts, love, the steamy sex scenes, the laughter, and the villains. The villains were perfect, as well as all of the females in the story. Every one of these ladies were such bad ass women.

**Special Thanks to Netgalley for giving me this in exchange for an honest review**

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.

Heart Breaker (Break on Through #2) by Harper Kincaid

Heart Breaker  (Break on Through #2)  by Harper KincaidSeries: Break on Through #2
on 2015-07-28
Pages: 219
AmazonB&N
Love wasn’t in the script... Break on Through, Book 2Former man-eater Samantha Lockhart has been an actress long enough to be able to spot a smooth-talking player a mile away. Dark-haired, bourbon-eyed, a wicked smile...Kyle Masterson is one of the best.From his bad-boy motorcycle boots to his good-ole-boy Southern drawl, everything about Kyle screams sex appeal. But after a tragedy hits close to home, Sam tries to convince herself she’s done with players on and off the stage. Kyle, a V-twin-riding divorce attorney, has witnessed enough horror stories of love gone wrong to know that while women are welcome in his bed, they’re definitely not in his future. But once the petite, mercurial redhead catches his eye, he can’t think of anything—or anyone—else. Sam’s trust doesn’t come easy, but the more time they spend together, the deeper they both fall. Yet just as they’re breaking through each other’s barriers, someone who doesn’t like being upstaged makes a deadly play of his own. And if Sam refuses, she may not be able to breathe a word to anyone...ever.Warning: Contains a small-town thespian who isn’t easily fooled and a lawyer with a weakness for V-twin engines and sassy redheads.

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LINK: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/726d2572242/

Life, Some Assembly Required (The Rebuilding Year, #2) by Kaje Harper

Life, Some Assembly Required (The Rebuilding Year, #2) by Kaje HarperSeries: The Rebuilding Year
on 2015-06-09
Pages: 427
Amazon • (Website, Facebook, Goodreads)
Finding love in the ashes was easy. Building a life together? Don’t make Fate laugh.The Rebuilding Year, Book 2After spending the first part of his life chasing pretty girls, love has finally come to Ryan in the form of John, a tall, lanky, red-headed landscape architect with wide shoulders and a five-o’clock shadow. For the first time in his life, love feels easy. Hell, he even ran into a burning building for John and his son, and he’d do it again if he had to. But telling his father and brothers “I’m gay. I’ve met a man”? That’s a bumpy ride he’s not looking forward to.For John, loving Ryan is as natural as breathing. Now if only the rest of his life would fall into place. Dealing with his teen son is complicated enough, but with his ex-wife causing trouble and his daughter wanting to move in, John’s house—and his relationship with Ryan—threaten to split at the seams.Would one month without a new surprise knocking him upside the heart be asking too much? If the sound of Fate’s laughter is any indication, the answer must be yes...Warning: Contains two formerly straight guys learning to navigate the gay-guy waters, sometimes without a paddle. Plus six kinds of family ensuring nothing comes easy.

Special Thanks to Samhain Publishing via Netalley for the e-arc.
four-stars

I was excited to revisit John and Ryan, who fell in love in the Rebuilding Year, one of my favorite books. The sequel starts right where book 1 ended, with Ryan, John and his son Mark  recovering from the school fire.
Then out of the blue, John’s daughter and his pregnant ex-wife Cynthia show up on their door step. And immediately the fireworks began.

Let me start off by stating what I loved: I loved John and his capacity to be understanding to the point of fault. While some may see it as a weakness, I saw it as strength and I admired him for keeping a cool head under pressure. I loved how regardless of what was going on, Ryan and John’s love never wavered! Both John and Ryan were very good at not letting other people define their relationship. They were supportive, loving and tolerant of each others’ baggage, which in case were their respective families. They truly blended into one loving unit.
What I didn’t love: Cynthia and her drama. She was self centered, ungrateful and just disrespectful. Ryan and his Jekyll & Hyde responses when his family shaded his relationship.

The book was solid. The writing is top notch and everything flowed. Whenever I read a book by Kaje Harper, I know it will be a good story. This is my favorite series by the author and John and Ryan will always be one of my favorite couples because their journey continues to make me feel good.

About Kaje Harper

I live in Minnesota, where the two seasons are Snow-removal and Road-repair, the mosquito is the state bird, and where sometimes in winter it can be breathtakingly beautiful. Of course, the deepfreeze chill contributes to the breath-taking, but Minnesota’s a kindly, quiet place and it’s home to me now. I’ve been writing for far longer than I care to admit (*whispers – forty years*), mostly for my own entertainment, and currently am focused on M/M romance (with added mystery, fantasy, history, SciFi…) I also have a few Young Adult stories released under the pen name Kira Harp.

My first professionally published book, Life Lessons, came out from MLR Press in May 2011. My husband finally convinced me that after all that time writing, I really should submit something, somewhere. I was thrilled when it was accepted. I have a weakness for closeted cops with honest hearts, and teachers who speak their minds, and I had fun writing the four novels and three freebie short stories in the series. I’ve been just delighted by the reception Mac and Tony have received.

My first free book became the first story that I actually released – I put it up a month before Life Lessons just for the fun of getting it out there. Lies and Consequences began as a reaction to the November 2010 election. It looked like the repeal of DADT might be derailed by the political shift and I put the insanity of that law into the book. Then as I was finishing the first draft in mid-December the repeal passed. Which was great, but prompted a rewrite to a lighter and more action/romance book. This was a solo effort and I learned a lot from writing and releasing it and from the reviews. Check Smashwords for that one and many of my other freebies.

I now have a decent backlist in ebooks and print, both free and professionally published. A complete list with links can be found on my Books page. This writing thing is addictive. So read, comment, tell me what you like and what you don’t, and help me make the upcoming books even better. I have an author page on Goodreads where I do a lot of book reviews, and this blog is reposted there.

You can find me to chat on my author page on Goodreads most easily – I hang out on Goodreads a lot because I moderate the Goodreads YA LGBT Books group there. I also post free short YA stories on that group, more than 50 of them so far.

You can also email me : kajeharper ~at~ yahoo ~dot~ com or find me on Facebook –

Mark of Cain by Kate Sherwood

Mark of Cain by Kate Sherwoodon 2014-05-20
Pages: 460
(Website, Twitter, Goodreads)
When a man is consumed by hatred, is there anything left to love? After a tough day of counseling sessions, Anglican priest Mark Webber is looking forward to a relaxing dinner at a local restaurant. When he sees who’s bellied up to the bar, though, he reaches for his cell phone to call the police. It’s Lucas Cain, the man who killed Mark’s brother three years ago. Apparently he’s out of jail and hanging out with his old crowd, which has to be a breach of parole, right? Pulled over upon leaving the bar, Lucas blows a clean breathalyzer and hopes this isn’t a harbinger of things to come. He’s ready to build a sober, peaceful life. His friends aren’t ready to let him move on, though, and he ends up taking refuge in an Anglican half-way house. Thrown together, Mark and Lucas find common ground in the struggle to help a young gay man come to terms with his sexuality—and the fight against homophobic townsfolk. As attraction grows, the past is the last stumbling block between them and a future filled with hope. Warning: Bad boys being good, good boys being bad.
four-half-stars

WoW. I loved this book. It had the right amount of angst and character growth that I require in my books. Much better than Dark Horse.

Lucas Cain is getting out of prison after 3 years for his role in accidental death. His friends are happy to have him back but Anglican priest Mark Webber is not. After all, Lucas Cain was responsible for his brother’s death so it doesn’t seem fair to Father Mark that Lucas is getting another chance in society. So Mark begins a personal crusade to make life as miserable Lucas.

One thing Mark and Lucas’ old friends failed to recognize was that Lucas changed in the penitentiary. And Mark finds himself really see Lucas in a different light. Mark begins to question a lot of things about himself, his faith, the death of his brother and especially Lucas. What will Mark do about his growing feelings for Lucas, how will the society deal with the homosexual priest?

This story made me shed a few tears. I really liked it. I have thought about this book for the past week since I finished it. The writing felt real and authentic. The pain both characters were experience was palpable. I enjoyed the gradual progression and the honesty they both tried to give other. By the end of I was just so hopeful for both Mark and Lucas to experience some joy and peace. It’s always nice to have love and forgiveness grow out of pain and loss.

*Special Thanks to Saimhain Publishing via Netgalley for the reading copy.

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.

Off Campus (Bend or Break #1) by Amy Jo Cousins

Off Campus (Bend or Break #1) by  Amy Jo CousinsSeries: Bend or Break #1
on 2014-12-30
Pages: 427
Amazon • (Website, Twitter, Goodreads)
Everyone’s got secrets. Some are just harder to hide.Bend or Break, Book 1With his father’s ponzi scheme assets frozen, Tom Worthington believes finishing college is impossible unless he can pay his own way. After months sleeping in his car and gypsy-cabbing for cash, he’s ready to do just that.But his new, older-student housing comes with an unapologetically gay roommate. Tom doesn’t ask why Reese Anders has been separated from the rest of the student population. He’s just happy to be sleeping in a bed.Reese isn’t about to share his brutal story with his gruff new roommate. You’ve seen one homophobic jock, you’ve seen ’em all. He plans to drag every twink on campus into his bed until Tom moves out. But soon it becomes clear Tom isn’t budging.Tom isn’t going to let some late-night sex noise scare him off, especially when it’s turning him on. But he doesn’t want any drama either. He’ll keep his hands, if not his eyes, to himself. Boundaries have a way of blurring when you start sharing truths, though. And if Tom and Reese cross too many lines, they may need to find out just how far they can bend...before they break.Warning: This book contains cranky roommates who vacillate between lashing out and licking, some male/male voyeurism, emotional baggage that neither guy wants to unpack, and the definitive proof that sound carries in college housing.
two-half-stars

This book starts with Tom Worthington, who is working his way through college driving cabs on the weekend, disastrous meeting his roommate Reese Anders.
Tom seemed really humbled and somewhat broken, whereas Reese came off a tad neurotic and difficult.

As Tom tried to accommodate his new roommate, we began to get bits and pieces of their life. Tom’s dad is in prison and Tom lost everything. He is doing his best to work with Reese’s rules because he doesn’t want to rock the boat on his second chance at school.

Soon Tom and Reese’s truce becomes more. But these two have so much baggage between them, and each one keeps their issues secret. Will they be able to overcome the past which weighs each down?

I wanted to like this one more but it was just boring. Plus, it was unnecessarily angsty. Ton’s hero complex made me roll my eyes numerous times and his inner monologue got old really fast. I was hoping the besties would get in on since they were a lot more self-aware and they were funny. I may read book 2 later.

*Special Thanks to Saimhain Publishing via Netgalley for the reading copy.

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.

No Boundaries (Phoenix, Inc. #1) by S.E. Jakes

No Boundaries (Phoenix, Inc. #1) by S.E. JakesSeries: Inc, Phoenix
on 2014-11-04
Pages: 210
AmazonB&N
When your past closes in, running isn’t always an option...Phoenix, Inc., Book 1The jobs Marcus Lowry works for at Phoenix, Inc. Investigations are quick and easy, and they don’t give him the nightmares his days as a CIA operative did. That is, until he gets involved in a case that grabs him by the throat and won’t let go.Cole Jacobs left behind his old life as a rent boy to make a name for himself rebuilding high-end and vintage cars and bikes. But when a stalker threatens to kill him—and to hurt anyone who stands in his way—his past closes in on him, and he’s not sure where to turn.The last thing Marcus wants to do is take on a charity case, and to say that he and Cole don’t see eye to eye at first is putting things mildly. But when the first attempt on Cole’s life nearly kills them both, Marcus realizes that Cole is in real danger, and Cole is forced to reveal everything. Almost everything. Because Cole’s deepest secrets could destroy them both. Warning: Contains a secretive mechanic with a talent for spotting a diamond beneath a beat-up exterior; a hard-nosed investigator who isn’t so rusty he doesn’t recognize instant attraction when it hits him in the gut; and hot sex spiced with trust issues and danger.
three-stars

I really wanted to love this book because Bound by Law (Men on Honor #2) was my favorite book in the series, and this spin-off was like a sequel.
But I was faced with similar issues I have had in most of the books I have read by SE Jakes: The character building was sub-par, her transitions are jarring (not fluid), and the storyline itself are generally weak. Things just happen and then I find myself in a new scene. Unfortunately, I tend to feel like that when reading this author. But there is such potential in the story and I keep reading because I feel like one day, we will get there. But we didn’t get there in this book.

What I liked:
* More Paolo, Law and Styx and the hotness! Oh yes! The author manages to nail the chemistry with this trio. This is a menage that works and works well. did I mention Paolo, Law and Styx had an anniversary?  Plus, was Styx such a sweetie or what? His guys have really brought out his tender side.
* A Clint and Jace sighting (though brief), it was nice to see C&J are still together.
* I loved the community service that Law is involved with. That was a nice touch to the story.

What I didn’t like: 
* I found The MC’s chemistry was lukewarm. I didn’t buy Marcus and Cole’s passion. I just didn’t “feel” their connection.
* I also disconcerted by Law, the jackass, who suddenly morphed into Cole’s fairy godmother.
* The bad guy—how he just appeared out of nowhere, outsmarted 2 ex-special ops guys and a detective time and time again didn’t do wonders for my confidence in Phoenix inc. It was just too easy for the antagonist.
* And then the showdown with the bad guy…*yawn* Seriously? I really was expecting fireworks, but got such an anti-climatic ending. It was just a build up to nothing. At the end, I felt unsatisfied–like I just engaged in really boring sex.

Will I read book 2?
*covering my face* Probably, but I won’t be in a rush to get it when it is released.

 

***Special thanks to Netgalley for the reading copy