Illegal Contact 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.

Illegal Contact: by Santino Hassell
Series: The Barons #1
Release Date: August 15th, 2017
Pages: 259 • Format: eARC
Published By: InterMix
Purchase Links:
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The rules of the game don’t apply off the field in this first Barons novel.

New York Barons tight end Gavin Brawley is suspended from the team and on house arrest after a video of him brawling goes viral. Gavin already has a reputation as a jerk with a temper on and off the field—which doesn’t help him once he finds himself on the wrong side of the law. And while he’s been successful professionally, he’s never been lucky when it comes to love.

Noah Monroe is a recent college grad looking for a job—any job—to pay off his mounting student debt. Working as Gavin’s personal assistant/babysitter seems like easy money. But Noah isn’t prepared for the electrifying tension between him and the football player. He’s not sure if he’d rather argue with Gavin or tackle him to the floor. But both men know the score, and neither is sure what will happen once Gavin’s timeout is over…

four-half-stars

 

This was an instant winner for me. Hassell last few books didn’t really do it for me. I was hesitant to try this one, but I was so glad I did. I loved the slow burn of the relationship, and Gavin Brawley is everything. Love that he means what he says, and says what he means. Noah is everything as well. Who knew Clark Kent would be so dirty? Plus Football is sexy! About time I can get a sports romance and I know the sport forward and backward. No offence to Hockey, but Football is so much sexier.

This is definitely a realistic fiction story, but a softer side then I’m used to. Yeah, I had some issues with me feeling like every guy is a Michael, Raymond and Garrett. I have a hard time keeping different characters apart when all of their backgrounds are so similar. It doesn’t take away from my inner glee with this story though. It was gritty, honest, sexy and I never wanted it to end.

Gavin is a softer version of all 3 of those guys. I mean, he has a shitty life, and anger problems. He’s on a 6 month house arrest for physical assault. No one outside of Simeon & Marcus seems to know the real Gavin. At times, Gavin doesn’t know the real Gavin. Enter mister Noah Monroe. Freshly finished from college, and out of a job. Not caring who the client is, he decides to take a position for a PA. I really enjoyed Noah. More often then not in stories like these we have to deal with that pesky miscommunication trope, but here everyone is outspoken and sarcastic. Basically speaking my language. Right off the start they are bitchy towards each other. After countless assumptions, we finally see a different side to each guy. They start opening up to each other, and everyone around them can see the attraction clear as day. This is something Noah doesn’t want to deal with again. Falling for his boss. It didn’t lead him to a good place the first time, and he’s trying so hard for it not to happen a second time around. Gavin make me gush so hard, he understands Noah’s boundaries so well. He respects him, and that is how he knows he’s screwed. He’s never loved anyone before. I loved that its a slow burn for the romance. The buildup between these two are scorching hot. From the first kiss to the last scene, it kept me glued to my tablet. Do you know how hard it is to read in Miami? If I wasn’t drinking and partying, I was neglecting my friends to read this. **Sighs**, I really enjoyed them.

Fans of sports romance, gay romance, and Hassell in general will most likely fawn all over this. Can’t forget about the amazing Simeon & Marcus. These are the bestest friends ever! I can’t wait for Simeon’s book! I definitely recommend this book!

 

 

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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.

A Guest Review:Back to You by Chris Sully

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.

Back to You: by Chris Sully
Release Date: June 12th, 2017
Pages: 266 • Format: eARC
Published By: Riptide Publishling
Purchase Links:
Riptide

Journalist Alex Buchanan has come home to the remote British Columbia town he grew up in, but only because his estranged father is dying. For Alex, the homecoming holds a mix of memories, mostly bad. The only bright spot is reconnecting with Benji Morning, the childhood friend he never truly forgot. As boys, the strength of their bond had frightened Alex. But now that he’s confident in his bisexuality, he’s drawn back to quiet, soft-spoken Ben.

Ben isn’t the same boy Alex left behind, though. His life has been overshadowed by the disappearance of his sister two decades earlier, and now a new break in the case threatens to undo the peace he’s worked so hard to attain.

As Alex struggles to repair the relationship with his father before it’s too late, he finds himself caught up in a twenty-year-old mystery, a story he never expected, and a shocking truth that could affect his and Ben’s future together.

 

four-half-stars

 

I loved everything about this book. The story itself is fiction but the back drop is set in a real life story. Since the 1970’s a series of young women have gone missing along an isolated stretch of highway in British Columbia, Canada. This is referred to as the Highway of Tears and as of this time they still do not know who is responsible for the disappearances.

Alex Buchanan and Ben Morning had been best friends since they were little boys. When they were teens a crisis had hit both of their families at the same time. Ben’s sister turns up missing and Alex’s parents get divorced and move away. The boys promise to keep in touch but they don’t.

Twenty years later, Alex goes back to see his dying father. He has a bunch of unresolved issues with the man and he’s writing a series of articles about their tumultuous relationship. Also, Alex has never forgotten Ben. In retrospect he knows Ben was his first love but his lack of acceptance about being bisexual prevented him from every admitting that.

Ben still lives in town and is weighted down caring for a mother who never accepted her daughter’s disappearance. She’s spent the last twenty years being obsessed with what happened. The police find the girl’s car right as Alex is getting to town and breaks the case open and causes Ben and Alex to get caught up in it all over again.

The writing was so good. It was atmospheric and had an almost dreamlike feel to it. The world building was so well done that I felt like I was right there with them in this isolated, gloomy, little town.

I really enjoyed the mystery part even though I figured out who did it early on. I think the real life facts weaved into the fiction story added a unique level to the storytelling. I also enjoyed the romance. It was very romantic in parts and I found myself rooting for these two from their first one page together scene.

I enjoyed every aspect of this story and I highly recommend it. I have only read one other book by this author (which I also enjoyed) but after this I am a big fan. I can’t wait to go back and read her back catalogue.

 

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About Chris Scully

CHRIS SCULLY lives in Toronto, Canada where she grew up spinning romantic stories in her head. When the tedium of a corporate day job grew too much, she took a chance and found her creative escape in writing. Always searching for something different, she has discovered a home in M/M romance and strives to give her characters the happy endings they deserve.

Chris would love to hear from readers at: cscully@bell.net.

Release Day Review: Safe With You by Catherine Lievens

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

safe-with-youSafe With You by Catherine Lievens
Release Date: August 12, 2016
Pages: 220 • Format: eARC
Published By: Dreamspinner Press
Purchase Links:
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Leslie Reilly is a police officer in the small town of Santa Anna Springs. He has a job he loves, a supportive family, and good friends, but he’s lonely. He hasn’t had much luck with romance. And he’s not the only one. Since the death of his wife, Gavin Donovan has been alone—raising his young son Ben and trying to protect Ben from his homophobic grandfather, whose attempts to get custody of the boy are growing more and more desperate. When Leslie and Gavin meet, they know making a life together might not be easy, but they’re willing to do whatever it takes to be a family.

All Leslie wants is to protect Gavin and Ben, but it’s proving harder than he expected as Gavin’s father-in-law’s violence escalates. When Gavin is injured and Ben is kidnapped, Leslie must decide how far he’s willing to go to keep the ones he loves safe.

four-stars

I really enjoyed reading this one. What a cute story. It was nice, a little predictable but sweet nonetheless.

Officer Leslie Reilly’s life had grown monotonous. He works with this father, the Chief of Police, and he hangs out at home with his cat puddles. When a routine theft investigation led him to meeting Gavin Donovan, Leslie’s life bloomed.

I love stories involving little kids and extended family. They always add shading to protagonists because it allows the reader to see the main characters through the eyes of others. Both characters had complimentary temperaments. Leslie was a tad goofy, shy and naive.  Whereas Donovan was reserved, confident and a tad more cultured.  I liked how guileless Leslie was around Donovan. I found it endearing and amusing at the same time.

I liked Gavin and how his family was so protective of him and his five-year-old son Benjamin. I also enjoyed Leslie’s relationship with his dad. It was clear that the Chief of police had no qualms about his son’s sexuality. In fact, for a small town, it seemed that only Gavin’s ex-father in law Samuel was the only homophobe around.

I appreciate the author focusing more on growing relationship between Leslie and Donovan and not as much on the father in law’s obsession. It kept the story on the positive and hopeful. The author’s writing had a natural progression and flowed well to me. I just delight in reading this journey to love and would love to explore of this author’s work.

<i>*I received this book in exchange for an honest review.

About Catherine Lievens

Catherine lives in Italy, country of good food and hot men. She used to write fantasy as a child, but it was reading her first gay erotic romance novel that made her realize that that was what she really wanted to write.

After graduating from college in English language and translation, she divides her day between writing, reading, taking care of her son and reading some more.

24/7 by J.A. Rock

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.

24-7_600x90024/7 by J.A. Rock
Series: The Subs Club, Book Four
Release Date: June 6, 2016
Pages: 324• Format: eARC
Published By: Riptide Publishing
Purchase Link:
Riptide

We started the Subs Club to make the kink community safer for subs. Except now the others are so busy chasing their happy endings, it’s like they’ve forgotten what Bill did to Hal and the fact that he got away with it. They used to think I was betraying Hal’s memory by hooking up with the owners of the club where he died. Now they don’t seem to care about any of it anymore.

Maybe I am sometimes angry with GK and Kel for giving Bill a second chance, but they’ve been mentoring me for a year now, and whatever else they’ve done, they make me feel incredibly safe. So I want to try something: I want to offer them my complete submission, 24/7. To serve the people who forgave Bill. That’s the way I want to hurt.

Except I’m starting to care about them in a way I never meant to—and I think they feel the same way. But after Hal, I don’t know if I want to be in love again. Because what I really need, more than anything, is to see Bill brought to justice. Even if I have to do it myself. Even if it means losing GK and Kel.

—Gould

DNF @52%

Unfortunately I wasn’t able to finish reading this. I’ve been grappling over with last few days on what to say. I decided against rating it, because it doesn’t seem fair. The writing itself was fine. I loved it, but the story and Gould not so much. Everything felt wrong to me. The relationship between Gould, Kel and Greg felt forced. I’m having a hard time explaining why and that’s frustrating in itself. A big part of the problem was reading the relationship from the middle. It wasn’t new it was already established and it didn’t seem sincere from Gould’s side to me. The entire time I was reading it he just seemed to be floating by looking for someone to grasp him and anchor him. That is what’s bothering me. Gould spent so much time in his head, I’m not certain who he really is. I know he’s grieving over Hal, but between those thoughts and the thoughts of Bill I don’t him. He seems so fade to black as a character. Easily forgotten. I’m going to be the one to say it, but I didn’t like the m/f/m dynamics. Not because of the female parts, it’s been they didn’t seem connected at all. It seemed forced alot. Another part of my issue was the tone of the story. This was the darkest book out of the story. Very depressing, and with the depression, and me not connecting with the story I just decided to bow out. It sucks because I’ve enjoyed it up to here. Learned a ton of new things and I do enjoy J.A Rock’s work but for me it wasn’t working at all.

About J.A. Rock

J.A. Rock is the author of queer romance and suspense novels, including BY HIS RULES, TAKE THE LONG WAY HOME, and, with Lisa Henry, THE GOOD BOY and WHEN ALL THE WORLD SLEEPS. She holds an MFA in creative writing from the University of Alabama and a BA in theater from Case Western Reserve University. J.A. also writes queer fiction and essays under the name Jill Smith. Raised in Ohio and West Virginia, she now lives in Chicago with her dog, Professor Anne Studebaker.

True Blue by RJ Jones

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.

True Blue 600True Blue by RJ Jones
Series: Out of the Blue, Book Three
Release Date: May 13, 2016
Pages: 184 • Format: eARC
Published By: Vivid Blue Press
Purchase Links:
AmazonAreSmashwords • iTunes

When being true to yourself means denial is no longer an option.

On the heels of a tragedy, Brandon White shaved his hair, adorned his body with tattoos, and concentrated on his attraction to the opposite sex. Fifteen years later, Brandon is a protective son and a loyal and respected member of the San Francisco Fire Department, bedding anything in a skirt that promises not to stick around afterward.

en his past and present collide in his dreams—including his best friend and fellow fireman, Mason—Brandon knows things are never going to be the same again. He starts to recall that fateful day years before, and the long-forgotten feelings that preceded it. The most important thing he remembers—he’s not as straight as he’d thought.

With help, Brandon learns to accept who he was always meant to be. But when tragedy strikes again, Brandon must reconcile his past and present and deal with his grief if he is to ever be true, not only to himself, but to Mason as well.

**This can be read as a standalone, however it is best enjoyed after reading the first two stories as side characters play a major role.**

three-half-stars

This is book three in the Out of the Blue series and it features play boy Brandon and his best friend Mason. I didn’t really remember the two guys before I started reading this but then I went back and skimmed book two and figured it out. I liked Mason’s character alot, and Brandon was OTT at times for me. What I did enjoy was the communication they established between each other early on when Mason felt like Brandon wanted to experience with his sexuality because he had ran out of women to play with. LOL. I thought it was cute seemingly straight Brandon going over Mason’s house to sleep under the guise of Mason bed being comfortable and a pillow. Yeah because that screams heterosexual male. I also liked the Brandon wasn’t freaking out when his past is reflective of the present. To go out and talk to someone about your feelings, and trying to come to terms was a big thing for anyone. I think the doctor hit the nail on the head about his physical transformation and it reflecting on how he wanted others to perceive him. I didn’t think about that until she said something, and this is where I feel like the author writes the realistic part because it can happen this way. Brandon suffered a traumatic experience in his teenage years that he repressed and when it came out presently he took the initiative to deal with it.

I do feel like the physical side of their relationship was rushed. I know emotions, and feelings were high but I would have liked for them to wait more and see if they are compatible as a couple. Just because you are best friends doesn’t mean they make the best lovers. That’s a entire different ball game. I think the pace was a little fast for me. Seeing Cam and Jake again made me happy. I don’t remember if Jet was this flamboyant, but it was good seeing the twins happy. I look forward to more from R.J. and more out of this series. It was a good read.

About RJ Jones

RJ started as a reader and eventually made the progression to reviewing. It wasn’t until two men popped into her thoughts, insisting on telling her their story that she started to write. It started with one scene. A hot and dirty one in the shower.
RJ’s initial thought was if she could write their scene then they’d shut up and allow her to concentrate on other aspects of the day. That shower scene was 3000 words long and three hours of work. But they didn’t shut up. They told her their entire story and she didn’t sleep for days. Sometimes she couldn’t keep up with what they were telling her and she had to keep a notebook by the bed.
Whilst RJ was writing their story a side character decided he needed his story told too. Then other characters followed suit.
You see the problem? If RJ ever wants to sleep again then she needs to write.
RJ is a wife and a mother to two boys. Even her dog is a boy.
She is surrounded by males.

RJ writes emotionally charged, character driven romances. Her guys will always get their HEA, but it will never be easy.

Knit Tight (Portland Heat #4) by Annabeth Albert

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.

Knit-TightKnit Tight by Annabeth Albert
Series: Portland Heat
Release Date: April 12, 2016
Pages: 112 • Format: eARC
Published By: Lyrical Shine
Purchase Links:
Amazon • iTunesB&N • Kobo • Google Play

One of Portland’s hottest young baristas, Brady is famous for his java-topping flair, turning a regular cup of joe into a work of art. Every Wednesday—aka “Knit Night”—hordes of women and their needles descend on the coffeehouse, and Brady’s feeling the heat. Into the fray walks a tall, dark, and distractingly handsome stranger from New York. His name is Evren, and he’s the sexy nephew of Brady’s sweetest customer, the owner of the yarn shop down the street. He’s also got a killer smile, confident air, and masculine charm that’s tying Brady’s stomach in knots. The smitten barista can’t wait to see him at the next week’s gathering. But when he tries to ask Evren out, his plans unravel faster than an unfinished edge. If Brady hopes to warm up more than Evren’s coffee, he’ll have to find a way to untangle their feelings, get out of the friend zone, and form a close-knit bond that’s bound to last a lifetime…

 

three-stars

I love this series a lot. It was my first books by Annabeth Albert. These little nuggets of magic were so realistic and honest. I loved the simplicity of the careers, the realness of the guys and the emotions that are packed into each story. When I seen that we were getting a 4, I was super psyched. I love the idea of an older sibling taking care of his younger siblings, and falling in love. It was a match made for me. It took me a long time to get connected to the main characters, and by the end of it I’m still not sold on either guy. I don’t really see the attraction between the two. This novella just seemed to be missing the magic that book 1-3 had. It wasn’t bad at all, but my 30% both guys were forgettable in my eyes.

Brady is taking care of his younger siblings with his 18 year old sister. I couldn’t imagine doing it, but they make it work. He sacrifices alot of things for his “kids”, but that’s what makes him unique. He’s a barista who actually likes being one works at a coffee shop. He meets Evren who comes to “Knit Night” with the local older ladies. From the first glance, the attraction is obvious to me. I liked Brady way more then Evren. I think Evren was to stand offish in my mind. Or it could be this novella was a lot heavier with real life things then previous novellas in the series. It touched on bisexuality, and both sides dealing with grief. It kinda took away from what I’ve acquainted the series with. I would like to see more of this series, because I truly enjoy them. I think Annabeth is a talented writer and look forward for more.

About Annabeth Albert

Annabeth Albert grew up sneaking romance novels under the bed covers. Now, she devours all subgenres of romance out in the open—no flashlights required! When she’s not adding to her keeper shelf, she’s a multi-published Pacific Northwest romance writer.

Emotionally complex, sexy, and funny stories are her favorites both to read and to write. Annabeth loves finding happy endings for a variety of pairings and is a passionate gay rights supporter. In between searching out dark heroes to redeem, she works a rewarding day job and wrangles two children.

Enemies of the State by Tal Bauer

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.

enemiesofthestate500Enemies of the State by Tal Bauer
Series: The Executive Office
Release Date: February 15, 2016
Pages: 324 • Format: eBook
Published By: NineStar Press
Purchase Links:
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A rogue Black Ops unit with the president in their crosshairs.
A Secret Service agent who will break every rule.
A president falling for the one person he shouldn’t—a man.

Newly elected President Jack Spiers’s presidency is rocked from the very beginning, and he’s working furiously to keep the world from falling apart. Between terrorism attacks ripping apart Europe, Russia’s constant posturing and aggression, and the quagmire of the Middle East, Jack is struggling to keep his campaign promise—to work toward a better, safer world.

For Special Agent Ethan Reichenbach, Jack is just another president, the third in twelve years. With Jack’s election, he’s been promoted, and now he’s running the presidential detail, which puts him side by side with Jack daily. He’s expecting another stuffed suit and an arrogant DC politician, but Jack shocks him with his humor and humanity.

There are rules against a Secret Service agent and one of their protectees developing a friendship—big rules. Besides, Jack is straight as a ruler, and a widower, and Ethan has always avoided falling for straight men. Ethan keeps his distance, but Jack draws him in, like gas to a naked flame, and it’s a lure he isn’t strong enough to turn away from.

As the two men collide, rules are shattered and the world teeters on the verge of war, and a rogue Black Ops unit bent on destruction sets Jack in their deadly crosshairs. Ethan must put everything on the line in order to save the man he’s come to love, Jack’s presidency, and the world.

 

three-stars


“I don’t consider myself gay. Being with Ethan wasn’t some kind of realization of who I was deep inside. It wasn’t a…yearning of my hidden gay man, buried deep.”-Jack
“It was just me falling in love,” Jack finally said.
“And figuring out how to make that work with Ethan.”

Brace yourself this review is a mess because my thoughts are whirring right now!

I didn’t think I would make it to the promise land after starting this book. I don’t know how many eyes rolls I did, I counted at least 4 sobs from Ethan in the first half. I wish I could rate the second half because that’s a glowing 4 stars for me, but it’s not fair to the first half which is a huge letdown. It’s complete boredom. I was bored, super bored. I was tired of all the filler information. A couple of people told me to keep going because by 30% I was ready to DNF it. I’m glad I finished it, because the second half was super worth it. I like political thrillers and the author did a good job on the bad guys because I didn’t guess it. I felt like it should have been 100 pages less then it would have been all good. It was extremely too much political information. I like those things, but again it was all filler things that wasn’t important to me as a reader.

The first half of the story was so much anguish from Ethan’s perspective that I think it could have gone better if Jack had point of views as well. Ethan’s character didn’t seem to match up with his character in book one. The emotional side of him, which I’m usually wanting was unbelievable for me. It seemed so one sided when it came to those sobs, and tears. I didn’t connect with that part. It just seemed to insta-love on his part. This is why Mr.President should have had a point of view because it was needed. Coming from Ethan’s perspective I expected his to be New Adult Age instead of a 40 year old man with all these experiences under his belt. Not saying that it’s wrong to be emotional, but it didn’t fit his character. Stoic Ethan got replaced with a New Adult guy suffering from breaking up with his one true love. I just didn’t by that part at all. I can’t blame everything on Ethan, because Jack personality was a little faulty as well. He is the president so he had to be in politics for a while to get there. Those parts in the first half on needing Ethan drove me crazy. I was kinda happy we got things resolved and he needed to act like the leader of “The Free World”

The second half is where it’s at. I really like the second. It picked up with the actions, the feels, the physical part as well as the communication between Ethan & Jack. I also liked that the author made Jack bisexual instead of Gay, just because it’s okay to be bi, and admit to loving a person and not a gender. I really liked Jack’s character a lot. He took the bull by the horns, and thought the relationship out with Ethan. I think the author did a great job with the cast of characters. The Russian president was hilarious in his twisted mind kind of way The whole disavowed military unit was my thing. I was screaming B613 the entire time!!! I guess that means Collard would be by Huck! I cannot wait to book two. I would love to see more of these two, but Faisal definitely made an impression on me.

About Tal Bauer

Tal Bauer writes LGBT fiction and romance, bringing together a career in law enforcement, trauma medicine, and international humanitarian and disaster relief work to create dynamic, strong characters, intriguing plots, and unique, exotic locations. Tal’s stories weave together pulse-pounding adventure, cunning intrigue, and sweeping romance. Tal is a member of the Romance Writers of America and the Mystery Writers of America.