New Author Alert: Midlife Crisis by Audra North

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.

Midlife Crisis: by Audra North
Release Date: August 28th, 2017
Pages: 205 • Format: eARC
Published By: Riptide Publishing
Purchase Links:
Riptide

Cam McGhee grew up like any other small-town Texas farm boy: he played football, went to church every Sunday, and married his high school sweetheart. But thirty-five years after he said “I do,” Cam finds himself nursing a beer in a gay bar, thinking about what might have been.

Dave Montoya is confident, self-assured, and cautiously single. But when he meets shy, uncertain, and clearly-still-not-out Cam in a coffee shop in Austin, his reservations about getting seriously involved again disappear. Cam is everything he’s looking for in a partner . . . almost, anyway.

No matter how much Dave wants him, and how good they are together, Cam can’t bring himself to fully embrace the life he was meant to live. After all, when his secret finally gets out, he faces the very real possibility of losing everything that kept him going for the first fifty years of his life, just like he’s feared for so long. But with a little faith—and a lot of love—his dream of living fully, truly, as himself might finally be within reach.

four-stars

Well, North certainly surprised me. I’ve never read anything by her before. After reading this, I saw she is a MF romance writer. I have skeptical feelings about them, but I don’t let it cloud too much of my judgment. More surprised at myself for finishing it. This was not only a slow burn, but the pacing was snail at best. I didn’t find myself bored so I guess its a win for me. Its very detailed, and everything is written in a way that molasses pours faster. I was really drawn to it because of the older mc’s. They are in their 50’s well off, and established wanting different things in their lives.  North’s writing was real, emotional, and such a sweet romance. It doesn’t focus on the physical side but more emotional. Cam was such a character that touched my spirit. I teared up at plenty of the hard facts that he had to face. Dave is such a sweetheart. Super understanding to the cause and patient.

Cam’s character made my feelings come out through this story. I don’t know what was happening at the time of my reading it, but he resonated so much to me. Maybe its because he’s a black man, and all his loyalties, duties, and reservations about his family is so common in the community, even more in the south. My family is from the south, so I could understand all his thoughts, dreams, fears, hurt when it came to being happy. Or lack thereof in his case. He sacrificed his happiness for the community, the way of life in Bitter, Texas. He was a drowning man, until his wife died. It was heartbreaking and I know it was emotional because it kept an egg shape size of despair in my throat. He tried to do right by what was expected of him, he tried to be the best father, and husband he could be. It only took 51 years of living to realize that he wanted something for himself. In walks Dave, in his biker workout clothes, and friends. With his smile, easy on the eyes, and friendly manner its no wonder Cam falls for him. Its not an easy romance. While Cam does come to terms about being gay, its another to act on it. Its something that he’s never thought of. Of course being happy with Dave, does nothing to dis spell all his responsibilities back home or with his children. No matter his orientation, his children are his. Cam shows so much vulnerability with his kids, Dave, and his knitting crew. Dave is trying to get back on the horse as well. Being single for a few years after being in a long term relationship, Dave has reservations about being with someone as closeted as Cam. Its something that he can’t help since he’s falling just as much as Cam.

I am still kinda shocked at how much I’ve enjoyed this. I look forward to North writing more gay romance if its going to be real like this. If you like older guys, interracial romance, hurt comfort, out for you, tears, and extremely slow burns then this book is for you. I quite like the pacing, and writing myself. I would recommend this read.

 

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About Audra North

Audra North is a contemporary romance author of more than twenty romances, including the Stanton Family series from Entangled Publishing, the Hard Driving series from St. Martin’s Press, and the Pushing the Boundaries series from Samhain Publishing. She is the owner and publisher of Pink Kayak Press, which focuses on the publication of diverse romance works. Winter Rain, a Pink Kayak Press anthology, won a gold medal in the 2015 Independent Publisher Awards.

Audra enjoys speaking to writing groups and at industry conferences. She is also an avid jogger and loves running marathons. She has three children and lives with her family outside of Boston.

Single Malt by Leyla Rayne

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.

Single Malt: by Layla Reyne
Series: Agent Irish & Whiskey #1
Release Date: February 28, 2017
Pages: 194 • Format: eARC
Published By: Carina Press
Purchase Links:
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The heart’s a resilient beast

Eight months after the car crash that changed everything, FBI agent Aidan Talley is back at work. New department, new case and a new partner. Smart, athletic and handsome, Jameson Walker is twelve years his junior. Even if Aidan was ready to move on—and he’s not—Jamie is off-limits.

Jamie’s lusted after Aidan for three years, and the chance to work with San Francisco’s top agent directly is too good to pass up. Aidan is prickly—to put it mildly—but a growing cyber threat soon proves Jamie’s skills invaluable.

Jamie’s talents paint a target on his back, and Aidan is determined to protect him. But with hack after hack threatening a high-security biocontainment facility, time is running out to thwart a deadly terrorist attack. They’ll have to filter out distractions, on the case and in their partnership, to identify the real enemy, solve the case and save thousands of lives, including their own.

three-stars

 

11 days to finish this book.

Yep, I just needed that to be known.

This had major potential for me. I love feds-spooks-spies stories. I like age-gap stories. Two guys with different backgrounds get together to a case that’s interesting enough. I’m still not sure on how much of it can be real for actual FED’s, I mean driving a new benz, stating in the rich digs, and the amount of facetious was a bit much. I did like book characters and some of the side characters.

I like when the case is involved with the story line as well. What I don’t like is the case taking up most of the atmosphere. The case overpowered the potential relationship between these two. I mean, I wasn’t sold on them from the beginning. It seemed forced. I don’t think Aidan should have been pushed so much into Jameson because he is still grieving, and its not fair to the other person if you aren’t going to give them your all. On Jameson’s part, I didn’t really think it was an attraction. They never seemed to meet before being partners so I guess throwing them together created some semblance of him being attracted to Aidan. Can I just say the nickname thing was cute for the first few times, it just got on my nerves by the end of the book. Hopefully book two will tone it down. It was a ton of information about each guy separately, the case, and little things here and there that distracted the shit out of me. I don’t even know who is who’s brother/sister/cousin at this point. It was too much. Add the writing really not working for me, but I was able to push through. I will say I liked it enough to give book 2 a try.

Once I got over the various actions involved in the plot it was pretty good. It of course was connected to Aidan’s husband and brothers’ death. A little far fetch but this author is able to keep me interested the rest of the story. It ends on a cliffhanger, but the possibilities of book 2 are greater for me by the end of the book. I think this was an okay book for the author’s first published book.

About Layla Reyne

2016 RWA® Golden Heart® Finalist, Layla Reyne, was raised in North Carolina but now calls San Francisco home. She enjoys weaving her bi-coastal experiences into her stories, along with adrenaline fueled suspense and heart pounding romance. When she’s not writing stories to excite her readers, she downloads too many books, watches too much television, and cooks too much food with her scientist husband, much to the delight of their smushed-face, leftover-loving dogs.

Arctic Fire by Keira Andrews

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.

kieraArctic Fire: by Keira Anderws
Release Date: October 25, 2016
Pages: 100 • Format: eARC
Published By: KA Books
Purchase Links: Amazon US  • Global

When two strangers are trapped in a blizzard, heat rises.

Haunted by what he lost in Afghanistan, Captain Jack Turner is at a crossroads. While the last place he wants to go is the Arctic, at least the routine mission gets him out from behind his new desk. But he starts off on the wrong foot with the Canadian Ranger guiding him across the forbidding and dangerous land, and Jack would rather be anywhere than sharing a tent with Sergeant Kin Carsen.

The Arctic is in Kin’s blood, and he can’t seem to leave the tundra behind. He wishes he could live openly as a gay man, but the North isn’t as accepting as the rest of Canada. Although he’s lonely, he loves his responsibility as a Ranger, patrolling the vast land he knows so well. But he’s on unfamiliar ground with Jack, and when they’re stranded alone by a blizzard, unexpected desire begins to burn. Soon they’re in a struggle to survive, and all these strangers have is each other.

Note: This gay romance features emotional repression, hurt/comfort, adventure on the tundra, and love where you least expect it.

Arctic Fire first appeared in the military bundle Unconditional Surrender in 2014.

four-stars

I enjoyed this book so much. I hope Keira continues this as a series. I would really like to see where Jack & Kin end up. I’m not happy with the length when I was really getting invested! Listen, I live in Chicago where our winters are brutal as hell. We can have up to 20 inches of snow and freezing cold, but I’ll take that with all my complaints over this Arctic tundra that these two had to deal with. I might have gagged a few times on their food choices, but when in Rome I guess. I want to hi5^ Keira for her world building and the cultural references she did so well on. I loved her attention to detail and all the knowledge that was given about the Inuktitut. It was a good learning experience for me. Learned so many things, and I think I would really enjoy it for a day or so. I wouldn’t even eat just experience that life up north.

Jack & Kin were good together. I like their night and day personalities. They were both dealing with grief from different traumas in their life. I love how Keira paced this relationship. I mean it was a slow burner, don’t know how since it’s only 100 pages, but you get my drift!!! I like how well developed these characters were for the brief instance that we had them. I do think this story has room to expand to a full length novel one day. They do have their similarities both being involved in military life, but I would love to see them as Civilians or no, just in the company of one another. I would like to see them build something. This was a good story, and I highly recommend it.

About Keira Andrews

After writing for years yet never really finding the right inspiration, Keira discovered her voice in gay romance, which has become a passion. She writes contemporary, historical, paranormal and fantasy fiction, and—although she loves delicious angst along the way—Keira firmly believes in happy endings. For as Oscar Wilde once said, “The good ended happily, and the bad unhappily. That is what fiction means.”

Rented Heart by Garret 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.

Title:Rented Heart by Author: Garrett Leigh
Release Date:Sept 12, 2016
Pages: 228 • Format: eARC
Published By:Riptide
Purchase Links:
Riptide

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.

four-stars

 

This was a really good solid story from Garrett Leigh. I enjoyed it alot, and I thought it was the right amount of angst, love, redemption and acceptance.

I requested this book off the author’s writing ability and this beautiful cover. I adore the story. Rented Heart is the story of two lonely guys who aren’t looking for love, but happen to fall in love. Liam is dealing with the death of his husband. He’s lonely and doing everything in his power to stay to himself. He’s grieving and decides to relieve himself of some stress and loneliness and meets Zac. Rentboy Zac who is just trying to survive another day and not think about the past of his old life in London.

Leigh’s writing is truly magical, and the one thing that I’ve noticed in this book that we don’t see in a lot of gay romance is Kindness. They were both nice to each other. It wasn’t the same ole be mean to the rent boy, or the rent boy doesn’t need saving. Liam didn’t try to save Zac not one iota. He wanted a friend, who happens to need help. I appreciated the generosity that Liam had, and I appreciate the way Zac was with them. It was almost timid like in manner, but them being nice was a breath of fresh air. I liked that Liam saw Zac, not as a whore but as a person.

“..there’s not much I wouldn’t pay for the privilege of spending a few hours with you.”

This quote damn near did me in. Liam might have been lonely, but he wasn’t bitter. He was focused now that he got a burst of freshness being around Zac. I don’t even think it was the sex. I think it was having someone around for him to be himself, and to be there for someone else. This story being told about rent boy redemption was uplifting and about self-worth. Liam kept reminding Zac that he wasn’t a whore. I think for Zac he was really worried if Liam’s feelings for him can be true or be because of him being lonely. This is why I’m super proud of the age-gap. I think Liam was mature enough to teach Zac certain things, and be a friend then try to change him. I am gushing over Liam that’s all. I damn near fell in love with him all over.

Zac also has his fair sure of issues. He is enabling his best friend. They’ve been in this lifestyle so long that boundaries get crossed and friendships get blurred. I wouldn’t change a thing between Zac and Jamie. They are who they are for a reason, and if all of this had to occur just for them to get an ounce of happiness then I’m game.

This is a must read for people. I liked it alot, and always seem to get a get read from this author. It was the right about of angst, and love for me. I even was able to not cry! I know, me who cried at everything she writes. I recommend this to everyone!

“Don’t rent your heart out for nothing when I reckon you’ve both been through enough to deserve a hell of a lot more.”

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

Bender by Gene Gant

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.

BenderLGBender by Gene Gant
Release Date: June 16, 2016
Pages: 86 • Format: eARC
Published By: Harmony Ink Press
Purchase Links:
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A Harmony Ink Press New Adult title appropriate for ages 16+

Nineteen-year-old Mace Danner is a college freshman—and a male prostitute. He specializes as a submissive-for-hire to dominant clients. Mace has never experienced any erotic longings, but his profession satisfies much darker needs. He believes he deserves the abuse because he was responsible for the death of his brother. When ill-treatment at the hands of customers isn’t penance enough, Mace turns to the bottle, hoping to drink away the demons still plaguing him.

RA Dex Hammel doesn’t like the road he sees Mace going down, and he offers his help before it’s too late. There’s no denying the chemistry between the two young men, but a lingering lack of physical desire continues to confuse and upset Mace. He seems set on destroying himself, and Dex might not be able to save him.

three-stars

Trigger warning:Physical Assault

So I’ve read a previous book by this author and loved it. I’m okay with the no sex on page and I love the cover. This was a little heavier then I thought it would be. Mace is a 19 year old who decided to sale his body for money. I’m almost certain he didn’t need to do it. Yeah he’s a college student and they have bills, and his parents had to move to Springfield, but he could have gotten another job. His reasoning for selling his body all was internally. He didn’t get sexual gratification from sex. He doesn’t even get an erection during these times. No with his clients he gets the humiliation and degradation that he needs to live on. He is suffering from an enormous about of guilt surrounding his brother’s death. Mace hasn’t dealt with it. It’s as if he’s just floating by in the world. He has no friends, he keeps communication between his parents to a minimum. He’s an empty vessel in fact.

Along the way he meets Dex one of his resident advisers. I like Dex, but certain actions of his or his words confounded me. I mean, Mace explained some things, and went through some thing and you get frustrated about his performance. I was perturbed by that big time. He turned me off, and yeah I was able to forgive him. Mace went through a brutal attack that seriously pissed me off since one of his attackers was their at every corner he turned. I was so mad. It made me emotional because he couldn’t escape and I’m so happy that he sought out help before his harmed himself. Not only is he dealing with this guilt, but he’s dealing with his sexuality. He’s never been attracted to people sexually. It fact he doesn’t get an erection ever outside of his normal facilities. I do like the fact that he was able to get help and talk to someone. I’m not okay with the physical violence in the story, but it’s life things happened. I swear I wish he would have reported it, but I know where he was coming from. I do like the author’s style of story telling, and can’t wait for more from him.

About Gene Gant

‘m Tennessean by birth, a resident of Memphis for most of my life. I tried living in a few northern cities after graduating from college, but I couldn’t take the brutal winters, and I missed good ol’ southern barbecue. Now I make my home on a country lane outside of Memphis. When I’m not reading, working out, watching movies or spending time with family and friends, you can find me tapping away at my computer.

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.

Infected: Bloodlines by Andrea Speed

o-infected-bloodlinesInfected: Bloodlines by Andrea Speed
Series: Infected, Book Two
Release Date: October 14, 2014
Pages: 224 • Format: eBook
Published By: DSP Publications
Purchase Links:
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2nd Edition

In a world where a werecat virus has changed society, Roan McKichan, a born infected and ex-cop, works as a private detective trying to solve crimes involving other infecteds.

The newly married Roan is struggling to balance his work with his home life as he grows increasingly distracted by his husband Paris’s declining health. One case with strong emotions attached takes up most of his time: finding the murderer of a missing little rich girl.

It’s a family with secrets so toxic they’d rather no one investigate, and there’s no shortage of suspects. But despite the dangers and obstructions involved, Roan won’t stop… until he loses something infinitely precious as well.

1st Edition published by Dreamspinner Press, December 2010.

five-stars

Oh my goodness. I haven’t cried this hard in a while. I will be walking into work with puffy eyes and a heavy heart. I mean, I knew what was going to happen because certain tossers can’t put a spoiler tag on their review. But knowing and reading it in that moment was two completely different things. It was so heartbreaking. From the beginning to the end just reading about it left a dull ache in my chest. I mean Roan and Paris get married and instead of spending their time in married bliss, it’s a ticking time bomb on the end that they know it as. I cried early on in the beginning, because Paris was amazing this entire book. I loved the crime and even going into this was better then book one for me. I love seeing Roan grow as a person and a lion. I mean he’s steadily growing stronger and the love of his life is getting sicker.

I like the way the author was able to intertwined the plot and the actions of Roan & Paris. I find Roan’s actions amendable for even trying to work through all the things he’s dealing with. I felt his grief from the page 1. It’s like a slow ticking cancer killing you from page to page. Roan sets out to take the missing person case of a wealthy girl. I really liked the case and the drama surrounding this case. We got to see Kevin who I’m enamored with and some familiar faces among the way. I’m scared to know what the future of MK Investigations hold and the future of Roan. I want Roan to be able to live after this, but I understand and it’s a week later that I’m extending this review and my grief is still palpable. Here’s my favorite quote.

“I’m always going to be with you, you know. As long as you remember me, I will exist. Memory is a form of existence, life after death.”

About Andrea Speed

Andrea Speed was born looking for trouble in some hot month without an R in it. While succeeding in finding Trouble, she has also been found by its twin brother, Clean Up, and is now on the run, wanted for the murder of a mop and a really cute, innocent bucket that was only one day away from retirement. (I was framed, I tell you – framed!)
In her spare time, she arms lemurs in preparation for the upcoming war against the Mole Men. Viva la revolution!

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.

Withered + Sere by TJ Klune

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.

o-withered-sere (1)Withered + Sere by TJ Klune
Series: Immemorial Year
Release Date: April 19, 2016
Pages: 280 • Format: eARC
Published By: DSP Publications
Purchase Links:
DSP • Amazon • ARe

Once upon a time, humanity could no longer contain the rage that swelled within, and the world ended in a wave of fire.

One hundred years later, in the wasteland formerly known as America, a broken man who goes only by the name of Cavalo survives. Purposefully cutting himself off from what remains of civilization, Cavalo resides in the crumbling ruins of the North Idaho Correctional Institution. A mutt called Bad Dog and a robot on the verge of insanity comprise his only companions. Cavalo himself is deteriorating, his memories rising like ghosts and haunting the prison cells.

It’s not until he makes the dangerous choice of crossing into the irradiated Deadlands that Cavalo comes into contact with a mute psychopath, one who belongs to the murderous group of people known as the Dead Rabbits. Taking the man prisoner, Cavalo is forced not only to face the horrors of his past, but the ramifications of the choices made for his stark present. And it is in the prisoner that he will find a possible future where redemption is but a glimmer that darkly shines.

The world has died.

This is the story of its remains.

three-stars

So here’s the thing, everyone knows I’m a TJ Klune fan. I love his work. How To Be A Normal Person has bumped itself up to my favorite book by him. I don’t even know how that happened. Otter is still one of my favorite people in the world. He exists and I won’t stop searching until I found him. When I saw the blurb and cover for this I was immediately hooked. The cover is so beautiful. I couldn’t quite guess what the title meant. I had to think could T.J. pull off a dark novel? I mean he’s known for taking us apart with his emotional reads, and he’s down right hilarious with the sputtering characters. I didn’t know if he could right my kind of Dark. TO me Dark is the end of despair and humanity. It’s when there’s nothing else to live for, and all you got is yourself and maybe a select person that you care enough about for them not to die. I enjoyed the premise of the story, and Bad Dog and S.I.R.S are good characters. I loved them. I loved the opposite of every Dystopian story I read about the Dead Rabbits.

TJ’s world that he build was destroyed almost hundreds of years ago. I loved the opening sequence on how the world ended. As usual he’s very spot on with his words. He’s able to bring you into the scene like you are there. Years later and the world is a gray land with little to no sun. Everyone is trying to survive. We have our Hero Cavalo. He’s the main focus in the book. Him along with Bad Dog (a dog which only he communicates with) are traipsing through the world at their own pace. So many things happened in the story that I enjoyed and other things that I felt didn’t fit into the world. I will say reading about Cavalo and trying to gauge his lunacy or the past and present was a headache.It made me feel like I was on a tidal wave and couldn’t get off. I never really adapted to him. I understand all his shortcomings and why he was the way he is, but he didn’t work for me. It should be warned that this is not a romance story. I knew it going in and I’m okay with it. I can see how it’s set up for book two. There is definitely a cliffhanger at the end. I liked this book, and it wasn’t what I was expecting but hopefully book two leads into the gory stuff for me.

About TJ Klune

When TJ Klune was eight, he picked up a pen and paper and began to write his first story (which turned out to be his own sweeping epic version of the video game Super Metroid—he didn’t think the game ended very well and wanted to offer his own take on it. He never heard back from the video game company, much to his chagrin). Now, two decades later, the cast of characters in his head have only gotten louder, wondering why he has to go to work as a claims examiner for an insurance company during the day when he could just stay home and write.

He lives with a neurotic cat in the middle of the Sonoran Desert. It’s hot there, but he doesn’t mind. He dreams about one day standing at Stonehenge, just so he can say he did.

Under a Sky of Ash by Brandon Witt

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

UnderaSkyofAshLGUnder a Sky of Ash by Brandon Witt
Release Date: March 21, 2016
Pages: 270 • Format: eARC
Published By: Dreamspinner Press
Purchase Links:
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More than an decade after leaving Colorado to attend college and escape his past, Isaiah Greene moves back and builds a life in Denver as a special education teacher. When he meets Ben Woods, the mentor of one of his students, the attraction is immediate. The revelations that they’ve both suffered traumatic childhoods form a bond between them.
Raised by an abusive grandmother, Ben is a recovering addict who has made a family with his construction worker boss, Hershel, and Hershel’s husband, Daniel—drag queen ManDonna. Adding Isaiah to his life gives Ben a glimpse of a future he’d never dreamed possible for himself.
Both Isaiah and Ben are survivors, but when guilt drives a wedge between them, the past threatens to end their relationship.
Ben and Isaiah embark on journeys of self-discovery. Though their path will be difficult at times, humor and love find a way to bring light to the darkness.

three-stars

Reading this story was a little eye-opening with the way that relationships come about. Isaiah and Ben must have been destined to be together. Two guys who went through equally traumatizing things at a young age come together for love and happiness. This is my second Brandon Witt book to date. I’m just learning his style and word play I guess. I really enjoyed two of the supporting couples a lot. Hershel and ManDonna were amazing characters, and I loved every minute they were on page. I can say now that I don’t know how I feel about Ben & Isaiah individually. Especially Isaiah, I know what he went through, and how he is now, I don’t think after 12% I really connected with him. I understand Ben and I get his actions on the decisions he made later on in life. I get at 25 why he’s a recovering addict and I get him fighting for his sobriety each and every day.

This story dealt with a lot of things, self discovery being one of the biggest thing. I don’t think Isaiah discovered his true self, maybe in time it would tell. I would have loved Isaiah to have some peace for himself. I’m not sure the guilt of his childhood would ever allow him to show his true self whoever that is. I will say I do like him with Ben, he might be the normalcy Ben yearns for. I did like seeing Ben in his big brother glory. He might be a little unpolished when it comes to being a parental figure, but just him attempting and trying was so worth it.

When the past comes out it’s like a stabbing motion in my chest. I didn’t know what it meant for Ben or Isaiah. So much happens over their shared past it’s hard to see the outcome for these two. I really liked how the author wrote those scenes. They definitely needed to figure out their things by themselves. I literally hated Ben’s grandmother. It was sickening seeing her treating Ben like that. I don’t really know how I feel about Isaiah’s parents. Maybe it was their way of handling the situation, but it’s a scary situation to be in. I just wanted Isaiah to yell, punch, and break stuff. I felt like he needed an outlet. This was a good read for me. Emotional at times, happy at others, and definitely a positive outcome by the end. I’m starting to enjoy Brandon Witt’s writing.

About Brandon Witt

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

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

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