Review: The Hard Truth About Sunshine by Sawyer Bennett

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: The Hard Truth About Sunshine by Sawyer Bennett
Release Date: March 28th, 2017
Format:  Kindle Edition (348 pages)
Genre: Contemporary Romance, New Adult
Purchase Links: Amazon | Paperback | B&N | iBooks | Google Play | Kobo

An angry, bitter amputee.
An optimist losing her eyesight.
A dying kid.
A suicidal thief.

Four people with nothing in common but their destination.
Despite having narrowly escaped death’s clutches, Christopher Barlow is grateful for nothing. His capacity to love has been crushed. He hates everyone and everything, completely unable to see past the gray stain of misery that coats his perception of the world. It’s only after he involuntarily joins a band of depressed misfits who are struggling to overcome their own problems, does Christopher start to re-evaluate his lot in life.
What could they possibly learn from one another? How could they possibly help each other to heal? And the question that Christopher asks himself over and over again… can he learn to love again?
He’s about to find out as he embarks upon a cross country trip with a beautiful woman who is going blind, a boy with terminal cancer, and an abuse victim who can’t decide whether she wants to live or die.
They will encounter adventure, thrills, loss and love.
And within their travels they will learn the greatest lesson of all.
The hard truth about sunshine…

Warning: This book deals with some tough issues including suicide and sexual abuse.


This book was an emotional roller coaster that kind of ended well, but the subject matter was HEAVY. I am glad that I read it though I probably will never read it again.

Christopher Barlow was a former marine floundering after he was maimed by an IED. He was forced to get counseling after a suicide attempt as well as his continuing PTSD battle. During his group therapy, he met several people including: Jillian Martel, a woman going blind, Barbara Stiles, a woman who had attempted suicide a few times due to sexual abuse trauma and Connor McCann, a young guy who had less than a year to live. To help Connor tick off items on his bucket list, the therapy group went on a road trip.

This trip began the bonding that allowed each character to make themselves vulnerable to the other members of their group. Most of the stories were sad but I was also in awe at the strength that each of them exhibited as they tried to deal with their depression.

I haven’t read anything like this from Sawyer Bennett and I am surprised that she tried this. I will give her kudos because the story shows bravery, real life issues and the uncomfortable reality of many people struggling with being less than “society perfect”. I put it down a few times to decompress but I am glad that I finished it. There was light at the end of the tunnel and it was worth it to finish this book.

Menace (Scarlet Scars #1) by J.M. Darhower

Narrator: Iggy Toma, Kasha Kensington
Source: Tantor Audio

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: Menace by J.M. Darhower
Series: Scarlet Scars #1
Release Date: June 20, 2017
Format: Audiobook (11 hrs and 51 mins)
Genre: Dark Romance, Mafia Romance
Published By: Tantor Audio
Purchase Links: • Tantor Audio


J.M. Darhower is my one of my favorite writers when it comes to Mob stories so I was so stoked when this audiobook was released. I may have had Sempre in the back of my mind, or something similar in plot. This was far from it and this one didn’t grip me like that story. J.M Darhower is a great storyteller so I knew if I hung in there, I would be rewarded.
The story starts with dancer/hooker Scarlet (Morgan Myer) selling herself for protection and information from powerful underworld bosses. I couldn’t figure out the significance of the information other than she was hiding from another boss. But it was clear most of her actions were motivated out of an extreme amount of fear.
The hero Lorenzo Gambino vacillated between being a sociopath to a moody/angry mobster. You can’t be unfeeling if you are in a constant state of rage. Just sayin’. Anyway, I am unclear of Scarlet really sought him out as a protector or just picked the pocket of the wrong dude. But that moment seemed to bind them and despite several attempts to pull away from each other, they always drawn back to the other. The sex scenes were definitely the best part of this book because they were steamy, fascinating and provocative.
I couldn’t decide if Lorenzo’s curiosity was based on the great sex or the Russian monster that scared Scarlet more than him. It was like a pissing contest because Lorenzo wanted to meet the Russian who thought he was thought his game was gangsta than Lorenzo’s.
Honestly, the author took her time in getting to the heart of the plot. I prefer faster paced stories or at least great character development to compensate for slower paced yet suspenseful accounts. I didn’t feel that the characters were fleshed out that well but the author did enough to get me to like them.
I was hoping the book would get better and the last two chapters were probably the best in the book and made everything make more sense. It made Scarlet make more sense to me and then I felt empathy for her plight. Lorenzo remains an enigma for me so the jury is out on his character. The writing and the narrators kept my attention and I really need book 2 to be released as this one ended on a cliff hanger.


Shelter the Sea 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.

Shelter The Sea: by Heidi Cullinan
Series: The Roosevlet #2
Release Date: April 18th, 2017
Pages: 190 • Format: eARC
Published By: Heidi Cullinan
Purchase Links:
Amazon USAmazon UKBarnes & NobleSmashwords

Some heroes wear capes. Some prefer sensory sacks.

Emmet Washington has never let the world define him, even though he, his boyfriend, Jeremey, and his friends aren’t considered “real” adults because of their disabilities. When the State of Iowa restructures its mental health system and puts the independent living facility where they live in jeopardy, Emmet refuses to be forced into substandard, privatized corporate care. With the help of Jeremey and their friends, he starts a local grassroots organization and fights every step of the way.

In addition to navigating his boyfriend’s increased depression and anxiety, Emmet has to make his autistic tics acceptable to politicians and donors, and he wonders if they’re raising awareness or putting their disabilities on display. When their campaign attracts the attention of the opposition’s powerful corporate lobbyist, Emmet relies on his skill with calculations and predictions and trusts he can save the day—for himself, his friends, and everyone with disabilities.


Shelter the Sea is such a good follow up to Carry the Ocean. Loved seeing Emmett and Jeremey’s love continue to grow.

This book was much lighter than book one.  Not saying that the guys didn’t have difficulties, but I am so ecstatic that Heidi didn’t torture our guys apart to give us a story. This was a lot more realistic then book one if you want to say that. This book dealt with the difficulties of living with a mental illness. This was such an eye opener for people who don’t seem to matter or get pushed to the wayside. This story was a lot bigger then Emmett & Jeremey to me. Of course every couple goes through little snits together and its healthy. This was them plus the people in their everyday life and everyone else they inspire around the world. It was very emotional at times.

Half of the book focuses on their relationship. Some of it is happy, sad, funny and its them. We see Jeremey struggle with his depression a lot more. We also see him open up and he’s a lot more vocal in his wants and needs. Emmett, oh such a sweetheart. I love Emmett’s resilience. He does not give up. This man is the ultimate fighter and champion of his beliefs and causes. Their relationship grows, and we see them grow individually on page to grown men  and better partners for one another.

This was political heavy. Not to preachy, but very detailed and informed on what goes down. I think Heidi did wonderful with his research for this subject. It’s an emotional journey to say the least. It shows how messed up the government is when it comes to Mental Health and its patients, families and allies. It shows the ugly truth about money being the root of everything in this country. It also shows people of different everything coming together for a cause. It shows them banning together to fight to get the same rights as everyone else.

Shelter the Sea is a good closure to their story. It wasn’t very romancy, but it had its moments where it mattered. I think fans of the book one will be very happy with the outcome to this story. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for the future of the series as well. Hats off to you, Heidi.



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.

Rushing the Goal (Assassins #8) by Toni Aleo

Narrator: Lucy Malone
Source: Tantor Audio
Rushing the Goal Book Cover Rushing the Goal
Assassins #8
Toni Aleo
Contemporary Romance
Tantor Audio
May 31st 2016
17 hrs 31 mins

Lucy Sinclair was no stranger to pain.

She grew up with three younger brothers, met a bad boy, got pregnant by him, married him, and then suffered through a nasty divorce from him. Pain. That was pain. To top it off, she even had to go through the heartbreaking divorce of her parents. Through it all, she survived. All she cared about was making sure her daughter was happy and taken care of. Despite an ex-husband hell-bent on ruining her life, she fought to overcome. She’s gotten to the point that she’s okay with being just okay. She never cared about herself because she never had the time. It was Angie and only Angie she focused on, but that all changed when Benji Paxton offered to help her daughter on the ice.

Benji knew the moment he saw Lucy, he’d never be the same. Especially when she came with the bundle of crazy that was her daughter. His heart wasn’t ready for them. After years spent sobering up and finding who he was without the alcohol, he never forgot he was being punished for not appreciating the love he had when he was younger. Because of his past, he had gotten used to being alone, a recluse, but even he had to admit it was getting old. He was lonely. Hockey wasn’t enough anymore. He wanted a family; he wanted his true love.

And Lucy and Angie were just that.

They were just two lost souls.

Floating through life with no purpose.

But finding each other gave them direction, a chance at a future.

And had them both Rushing the Goal to be together.

This novel had all the things that I enjoy, single and damaged people, children, sports and romance. Lucy Sinclair had a ten-year-old Angie and she was struggling. Her heart has been so damaged by the men she chose to be in relationships with, that Lucy was jaded and bitter. When Lucy signs Angie up for Hockey, she wasn’t prepared for the gorgeous Hockey coach who was substituting for Lucy’s brother.
Benji Paxton agreed to teach hockey as a favor for Lucy’s brother, and had been warned that Lucy was hostile and cankerous. But Benji knew it was a veneer hiding a hurt heart. He would know since he has been there. Benji’s past was sad but it was satisfying to know he waded through the muddy water and came out somewhat clean. So Benji set out to find the woman hidden behind all that all of protection.
I have to say that I enjoyed this story despite the narrator. Maybe it was a language thing, but I hated the way the narrator said “Bin-ji” instead of “Ben-ji”. Also, other words gave me a pause. The author really took her time to lay foundation for this romance because both characters were quite damaged. It took work to really like Lucy because she was just mean and vicious. It made me like Benji that much more as he was patient and persistent. I am a sucker for men who are able to love kids that aren’t their own biological offspring. Benji put in work and eventually built up trust with Lucy and Angie. Lucy was so hard to get close to and she didn’t even let her family in because of her anger, hurt and general wounded heart. Regardless, her family stood by her and supported her.
I felt the drama with Lucy and her ex-husband Rick was quite realistic, but it was still really hard to watch unfold. I wish Lucy went to some kind of counseling because she made everyone around her walk on eggshells. I do commend her for always keeping her daughter the main priority. The growth that Lucy displayed as this story progressed. I appreciate the character development and how Benji and Lucy came together as a couple. This was an enjoyable audiobook.

*Special Thanks to Tantor Audio for the audiobook given in exchange for an honest review.


Dear Stranger by Sid Love

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.

51QNdLslF+L._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Dear Stranger by Sid Love
Release Date: May 12, 2016
Pages: 28 • Format: eARC
Published By: Creative Minds
Purchase Links:
AmazonARe • Smashwords

Reggie is a young man in his early twenties, living a quiet life. His blindness makes him over cautious in new situations, at least until one day on his way home when he meets a stranger, a man with a voice smooth as honey and burning hot as the most expensive whiskey, starts flirting with him.

At first, Reggie is scared. The guy seems like a stalker but he soon realizes that the stranger means him no harm. On the contrary, he is attracted to Reggie and invites him home for a hot romp in bed.

With the ball in his court now, Reggie needs to decide what to do. He could turn him down and continue living his life as it is—boring. Or, he could say yes and see where this unexpected ride takes him…


Taking a chance on a new author can be hit or miss. With this story it’s a bit dead center for me.

The story has a great premise; a blind man who meets a stranger on the train ride home and they have a one off. I liked that Reggie gets to opportunity for someone to want him regardless of his disability. I have a long-time co-worker who has been blind from the age of 8 years old and being treated as “normal” as possible is what he’s always wanted. So with Reggie, getting this chance to be reckless as any young man would be… I really liked the idea. This short story is a setup we get with a lot in romance; the one night stand with the possibility of it being more.

This is a short story so I will keep the review short. For some reason the dialogue threw me a bit, I am not sure what I was expecting but the men talked young and that isn’t a bad thing, it just gave me a moment to pause and begin the story again in a different frame of mind.  I think if I’d known their ages or around how old they were… I don’t know, but once I began again I read them as young, maybe early 20’s with the way they talked and the whole story read in a new way to me.

Was this a mistake? Getting seduced by a total stranger.

Dear Stranger is an interesting read about taking a chance on something you’d never thought you’d do.  It was a short story that I would have loved to see a few pages longer; maybe getting more of the interaction between Reggie and the stranger on the train rides before the whole deal happens and the end not being so abrupt.

About Sid Love

SID LOVE grew up in one of busiest cities in the world, Mumbai, listening to the excerpts of Indian epics from his father every night. While it served as an inspiration back in time, he has always had an ambitious mind. In 2007, when he had just turned sixteen, he decided that he would make his lifelong dream come true—to become a well-known, respected author someday.

Ask him and he would refuse to accept that he is obsessed with books. Or movies. Or TV shows. Addicted may even be the right word. He is a die-hard fan of Jane Austen’s romance novels and loves to reread them time and again.

Werewolves of Chernobyl by K.A. Merikan and L.A. 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.

WerewolvesofChernobyl-f-400Werewolves of Chernobyl by K.A. Merikan and L.A. Witt
Release Date: May 5, 2016
Pages: 214 • Format: eARC
Published By: Wing & Fang Press
Purchase Link:

Being kidnapped by two werewolves is an adventure after all, right? Right?! —


If Quinn wants to get the best photos for his travel blog, no gate is too tall, and no ‘do not enter’ sign actually means he won’t go in. What he finds in a hidden exclusion zone by Chernobyl blows his mind. Mutants? Monsters? He doesn’t know, but he is bound to find out when not one but two of them break into his hotel.
Too bad the rules and attitudes they have toward sex don’t match Quinn’s at all.


Born with a disabled hand, smaller than the other werewolves, Dima is the lowest of the low in his pack, but when he meets the loveliest human he’s ever seen, he knows his luck has changed.
The last thing he expects though is his beloved friend Nazar turning on him once Dima’s affection for Quinn deepens, and he refuses to be mounted by Nazar anymore.


Nazar is a high ranking soldier in his pack, but in his powerful body hides a gentle soul, and all he wants is to escape the pack with Dima. But once Dima claims Quinn as his, secrets Nazar has so far kept hidden rear their ugly head.

The werewolf language doesn’t have words to describe what they crave, so Quinn might be the only one to help them solve the puzzle of the desires that go against the rules of their pack.


I don’t know where to start with this or how to even say what I want to about this book. I mean, when I saw the book it looked good but then I saw the Pinterest board for it and I won’t lie, I drooled. I mean, the image inspiration for Quinn was enough to get me going – I’m a sucker for hipsters – and then you have Nazar and Dima? Yeah, sign me up for this ASAP.

But then… I started reading and I had to stop reading to google a few things and I learned about a new form of werewolf called a bodark and then I had to stop again and consider what I pretty much knew was going to happen. Well, I can tell you I decided to keep reading and holy mother effing cow, what I thought would happen, did happen and oh boy, was it hot. Like ridiculously hot to the point I should probably be ashamed that I found it so hot but screw it, I own all my kinks and this is just a new one I’ve found. Oh and yeah, there is KNOTTING in this book and be prepared, it’s pretty hot. Have I mentioned this was hot yet? Just making sure.

Now I have always said that any subject can be read as long as you have a good writer and I didn’t just have one in this story, I had three and I had three different POV’s that I adored.

We meet Quinn while on a tour of Chernobyl, the horrible nuclear power plant in Pripyat (then in Russia which is now Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic of the Soviet Union) that housed on of the worst nuclear accidents in history. The tour guides strongly insist that no one go to black zones on the map but Quinn, he is all about the anarchy and arrogance with being told what to do so… yup, he goes to that area. While there, he comes upon a creature, something he has never seen before as it appears to be a wolf, yet it’s also a biped though strangely, hunched over. But this creature is curious also so Quinn and it, well they have a moment. I am going to say how I really wanted the creature to shift when Quinn shared a treat with him but that’s just because I have seen too many commercials and my brain is a wacked place to be.


We get to meet the creature, aka Dima, and from the first line of his POV I fell hard for him. There is so much in Dima right away that draws you to him, makes you want to champion him, cuddle him and later on, yeah you want to beg him to do things to you. But Dima, he is this soft-hearted bodark who was born with a lame arm that makes him think he is inferior. He is at the bottom of the pack and would be treated worse than he is if not for his friend and protector, Nazar.

Good lord, Nazar. How is it that we get these bodarks, these werewolves who walk on two legs and have tall the characteristics and mannerisms of wolves and yet I fell in love with them? We know from early on that Nazar, he feels more than friendship for Dima, he wants him in every way he can… except the one way he truly wants him but I won’t give that bit away. Nazar is head over heels for Dima and has always wanted to take him out of the hierarchy of wolves and be free. Free to be whom they want to one another without shame and it’s just so heartbreaking to me.

But when Dima tells Nazar he found a human, a human who was nice to him, who wanted him and who Dima now wants of course Nazar will do anything for his friend and off they go to get themselves a hipster to play with.

Goodness. I just adored the hell out of this. It was much sweeter than I had anticipated with the longing between Dima and Nazar and the complications that come into their relationship once they add Quinn to the mix. It was also witty and funny and downright sexy AF but it was also and engaging read that had me doing many searches on wolves of Chernobyl and yeah, imaging that some of the pictures were possible on Quinn’s blog. Don’t look at me like that! I suspended belief that a hipster would take a chance and leave everything he knows to be real when two freaking werewolves – one who talks – come into his room and want to hang out. So yeah, I will imagine it but really, watching the Radioactive Wolves Of Chernobyl, documentary had a different meaning after reading this.

Once again, I have said nothing with a whole lot of words but I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I love how we learn the dynamics of the bodarks in this seemed forgotten place and how they teach and learn from Quinn. How the three males learn to be with one another, learn to respect one another in a new way and learn to um… get it on with each other.  I loved how this book made me take a moment out of a poly romance story to look up an actual horrific event and even after finishing the book, take time to watch and learn more about the effects of the Chernobyl accident. But what I love most, is this book took me out of my comfort zone and wrapped me in warm furred arms and told me to just relax, because it’d be worth it.

Werewolves of Chernobyl was a great read about two bodark wolves who don’t know how to move from being parallel in their emotions until a third shows them a triad is the way to go. It’s a romantic story with bits of realism and slight engagement of humanities and injustices that are carried out without regard. It’s a story about being free, being authentic to your wants and it’s about love.

About K.A. Merikan

K. A. Merikan is the pen name for Kat and Agnes Merikan, a team of writers, who are taken for sisters with surprising regularity. Kat’s the mean sergeant and survival specialist of the duo, never hesitating to kick Agnes’s ass when she’s slacking off. Her memory works like an easy-access catalogue, which allows her to keep up with both book details and social media. Also works as the emergency GPS. Agnes is the Merikan nitpicker, usually found busy with formatting and research. Her attention tends to be scattered, and despite pushing thirty, she needs to apply makeup to buy alcohol. Self-proclaimed queen of the roads.

They love the weird and wonderful, stepping out of the box, and bending stereotypes both in life and books. When you pick up a Merikan book, there’s one thing you can be sure of – it will be full of surprises.

About L.A. Witt

L.A. Witt is an abnormal M/M romance writer who has finally been released from the purgatorial corn maze of Omaha, Nebraska, and now spends her time on the southwestern coast of Spain. In between wondering how she didn’t lose her mind in Omaha, she explores the country with her husband, several clairvoyant hamsters, and an ever-growing herd of rabid plot bunnies.

She also has substantially more time on her hands these days, as she has recruited a small army of mercenaries to search South America for her nemesis, romance author Lauren Gallagher, but don’t tell Lauren. And definitely don’t tell Lori A. Witt or Ann Gallagher. Neither of those twits can keep their mouths shut…

Worth It All (McKinney Brothers #3) by Claudia Connor @penguinrandom @Claudia__Connor

Worth It All (McKinney Brothers #3) by Claudia Connor @penguinrandom @Claudia__ConnorSeries: McKinney Brothers # 3
on 2016-04-19
Pages: 263
AmazonB&NNarrator: Vanessa Daniels
Paige Roberts learned to fend for herself growing up. Now she’s doing everything possible to give her daughter, Casey, the stability she never had. But when the vivacious five-year-old decides she’s done wearing her prosthesis, Paige faces her toughest challenge yet: trusting a handsome, brooding stranger who simply wants to help.   He’s struggling to connect. . . .

JT McKinney lost more than his leg in a car accident that stole his dreams of pro football. Eight years later, he's made a new life for himself far away from his old one. His business is developing cutting-edge prosthetics and he’s more than happy to turn his attention to machines instead of people. Still, he can’t shake the feeling that something’s missing.   Will they take a chance on love?

When JT gets the chance to help Paige’s daughter, he takes it. He never planned on the two of them tearing down his walls or teaching him to believe in himself again. Paige might not believe in happily ever afters, but JT wants more than anything to be her prince. They’ll both have to let go of the past if they want a future.

This is one of my favorite new series because it has those things that I love in a romance novel. It has a likable hero and heroine, young kids and big family.
This book three was no different as it had hardworking yet self-less characters. It was sweet and hopefully with a pinch of angst.

JT is the youngest McKinney brother and perhaps the most distant brother. JT was on his way to a promising football career when he lost his leg and more in a car accident. He wasn’t supposed to walk again, but those McKinney men know how to defy odds and achieve beyond expectations. Now JT runs his own Prosthetics Company that designs and manufactures cutting edge removable limbs.

JT is reserved but he notices a lot especially regarding a certain waitress at one of his favorite diners. Paige was a waitress who paid attention to those around her. She also has a 5 year old daughter Casey who has a prosthetic. Immediately, JT felt a pull towards Paige and Casey. Thus began their journey towards emotional healing and restoring the character’s faith in love.

This book featured really reliable yet loving people. Paige was an awesome mother who worked full time to provide for her daughter, and in her spare time took college classes in order to train for a better position than a waitress. She was sweet, caring, nurturing, supportive and just generally nice. JT still carries a lot of guilt from the car accident eight years ago, but helping Casey has breathed new life into JT. In addition, the slow building romance between JT and Paige gave both parties a chance to get to build a solid foundation of friendship. I think the author really took time weaving this tale and it showed. The whole family got behind this relationship with Matt and Amy leading the way. The author also did the justice to the plight of amputees, by portraying their fortitude. It increased my respect and pride that a 5 year old girl was still as pleasant and bubbly despite being dealt such as harsh blow as losing a leg. This was a really sweet romance with a sweet ending. I highly recommend this story for those who want a well-developed romance with minimal angst.

*Special Thanks to Tantor Audio for the review copy.

Worth the Risk (McKinney Brothers, Book 2) by Claudia Connor @TantorAudio

Worth the Risk (McKinney Brothers, Book 2) by Claudia Connor @TantorAudioSeries: McKinney Brothers # 2
on 2015-02-03
Pages: 306
AmazonNarrator: Johanna Parker
When a McKinney brother falls in love, powerful emotion and overwhelming desire are never far behind.  
Two hearts locked away . . . Hannah Walker spends her days coaching children through injury and trauma, one therapeutic horseback ride at a time. She knows all too well how violence can change a child and leave scars that never heal. It’s easy for her to relate to the kids; what isn’t easy is the thought of facing her own harrowing past.  

Millionaire playboy Stephen McKinney could use a little coaching himself. Five years ago he encountered his most horrible nightmare—and the nightmare won. No matter what he achieves, nothing can make up for that awful night . . . or so he believes.   Both desperate for a second chance . . . Stephen is used to getting what he wants. And he wants Hannah. So when she turns him down, he’s intrigued. What he doesn’t know is that her secrets will lead him to a place he never wanted to go again . . . to a side of himself he’s tried to forget . . . a side that would scare Hannah away from ever loving him. Now his only chance to win her trust is to bare his soul, risking everything he tried so hard to protect.

This audiobook fell short of the high expectation that book 1 set up. The writing was good, the narrator Johanna Parker was excellent. I just never warmed to the hero Stephen McKinney and I never bought the chemistry with heroine Hannah Walker.

26 yr old Hannah had gone through trauma that left her scared to trust people. She spends her time healing and helping young kids rehab from physical trauma through horseback riding. A chance meeting at the grocery store led to an evening of drinks with the millionaire playboy Stephen. In Hannah, Stephen saw a warm body to lose himself and keep his nightmares at bay. In Stephen, Hannah saw an opportunity for a fresh start because this man who knew nothing about her past. Still, there was fear for both characters to let the other in. This is where the lack of communication led to miscommunications and drama. I tend to find them irritating. I understood them here as Stephen faced his own tragedy but it was no longer a viable excuse midway into the novel.

I loved Hannah and her will to overcome her tragedy. She was strong and so considerate of others. I loved both Hannah’s brothers and Stephen’s family. This book included cameos from Book 1 characters which was so nice to see the love was still passionate.

A little more character development on Stephen may have redeemed him for me. For most of the book, Stephen viewed Hannah as a challenge. She said no when others were so willing. Stephen wasn’t looking for a relationship. I was just lukewarm on him at the end. I didn’t feel intensity in feelings that I felt with Matt and Abby. I missed that love connection here until the very end. I really wanted to feel that angst but Stephen’s focus on the surface matters left me underwhelmed.

I enjoy stories revolving around big families and do like the author Claudia Connor’s story telling so I look forward to book 3 in this series.

Special Thanks to Tantor Audio for the audiobook received in exchange for an honest review.

Taking the Long Way by Max MacGowan

Taking the Long Way by Max MacGowanon February 12, 2016
Pages: 243
Male escort Rye Bellamy is looking for a way out. Any way out. He’s getting older, and clients are getting more dangerous. If he doesn’t find something better, he knows he won’t survive.

He sees his chance in Marcus Townsend, a functionally blind Army veteran. Marcus, who refuses to accept his condition as immutable, has a shot at seeing a specialist who might be able to help him—but that doctor’s based on the other side of the country.

When Rye and Marcus meet, they realize they can help each other. Marcus can’t drive, but Rye can. Marcus knows what Rye is, but he likes him anyway. In fact, he more than likes him. Driving cross-country with a near stranger is a daunting task, but Rye’s biggest risk is falling for the gentle, stubborn-hearted soldier—and it might already be too late to stop that.

They plan to part ways when they reach their destination, but plans change as the affection between them grows. Now neither wants their journey to end, but continuing means finding a way to bridge the distance between who they were and who they'd like to become.

This book was an entertaining gay-for-you with really likable characters. I love stories that leave me feeling happy at the end.

The point is that whatever happens, you’re my best something better. You always will be. There. That’s it. That’s all.

Marcus Townsend was an army vet who was rendered functionally blind by an IED explosion while he was on tour in Afghanistan. He was discharged with a diagnosis of “Cortical visual impairment” which meant that Marcus received light and color transmission to his brain; however his receptors didn’t interpret those signals properly. His eyes are basically fine, but the information is lost in translation.

One day when Marcus was feeling down, he decided to venture out into the unknown, basically the area outside his comfort zone, and that’s when he encountered a male prostitute named Rye Bellamy. Rye tried unsuccessfully to entice Marcus, but ended up saving Marcus from being a prey out there on the streets.

The chance meeting led Marcus to later ask Rye to help him get to Atlanta where Marcus had an appointment with a cortical blindness specialist to see if Marcus would qualify for an experimental study that could fix his receptors. Both Marcus and Rye wanted to more out of life than their current circumstances, so a road trip seemed like a new beginning.

Thus began the foundation of friendship/relationship between Marcus, whose sexuality (his 15 yr. old niece helped him define, LOL) was “demi-sexual”.

A demisexual is a person who does not experience sexual attraction unless they form a strong emotional connection with someone. It’s more commonly seen in but by no means confined to romantic relationships. The term demisexual comes from the orientation being “halfway between” sexual and asexual.

Rye began tutoring Marcus on the art of physical pleasure and they started growing closer. When Rye finally got Marcus to Atlanta, he had to decide if their couple of weeks together was enough to build on or was he better off returning to his no-strings attached life what was familiar.

I really liked both Rye and Marcus because they still retained optimism in the midst of their struggles. They seemed like genuinely nice guys who just had difficulty being so dependent on other people. This road trip was a declaration of their need for autonomy and desire to be as self-sufficient as they could possibly be. I liked that both characters were willing to take risks and explore the unknown. I appreciate that the plot wasn’t overloaded with sex but on the personal journey of each individuals. I thought their coming together was realistic and not rushed. They worked well as a pair because there was no judgment or condemnation for whatever their prior experiences had been.

The author’s writing style was engaging though the book stalled in the middle for me. I definitely found myself focused on what was going on and crossing my fingers for the main characters to see what was right in front of them. It wasn’t overly angst-filled or emotional, just a well laid out story. I will definitely read something else by this author.

*Special Thanks to Dreamspinner Press for the e-arc given in exchange for an honest review.

Tall, Tatted and Tempting (The Reed Brothers #1) by Tammy Falkner @NetGalley @tfalkner

Tall, Tatted and Tempting (The Reed Brothers #1) by Tammy Falkner @NetGalley @tfalknerSeries: Reed Brothers #1
on 2014-06-30
Pages: 323
AmazonNarrator: Dara Rosenberg
***This New Adult book is intended for audiences over the age of 18 due
to adult language, sexual content and adult situations***

Kit Logan
wants to know my name, but I can't tell him. I can't tell him anything.
There are too many people looking for me. He's pretty persuasive,
though, and he convinces me to go home with him so he can keep me safe
from this harsh city where I find myself. It's not my home. It's his. He
belongs. I don't. Logan lives with four brothers in the inner
city. Yet I've never felt more safe than I do when I'm with him. I want
him. But he won't let me have a darn thing, aside from his friendship,
unless I'm willing to tell him my secrets. But they're mine, and I can't
share them. Not unless I want them to come and get me.LoganShe
catches my eye because she's so beautiful she takes my breath. But
that's not all that I love about her. I love the way she smells. The way
she smiles. The way she plays the guitar is unlike anything I have ever
seen. She sleeps in my bed every night, and drives me crazy with her
touch. But I can't take what she offers because I need all of her. I
need for her to tell me her secrets. I need for her to trust me.From the back of the book:She’s locked up tight. But he might be the key. Logan Reed is tall, tatted and tempting. Kit’s a woman with a mean right hook and a secret. Kit
wants a tattoo, but Logan sees more than she intends to share in the
drawing of the tat she wants. He sees her in ways no one ever has.Logan’s not disabled; but he hasn’t spoken in eight years. He hasn’t needed to. Until he meets Kit. Logan doesn’t know everything about Kit. Kit doesn’t know anything about herself, until she has to sacrifice all she ever wanted to save what’s most important to him.

This is new adult romance done well with the right amount of plot, drama, angst, sexy and character growth! This story featured a wanderer named Kat who met Logan and his brothers, when she strolled into their tattoo shop. Something about her called to Logan and even though he is deaf, he could hear Kat’s pain. They began seeing each other but Kat was afraid to trust Logan with her secrets. He knew she was dyslexic and was was hiding from someone/something. Logan was dealing with his own family health issues but he knew he couldn’t live without Kat, so he resolved to break down her walls. Thus began the journey of letting each other into their hearts.

The author did a really good job of laying foundation for both characters, but maintaining the mystery. Kat and Logan were sweet together. I liked the family, loyalty and general affection they portrayed. It found them captivating as a couple and I was in awe of the sacrifices they were willing to make for each other.  I just knew it would come to a head at the end and thus I wasn’t surprised by the cliff hanger.

I love stories that revolve around families and love. Book 2 is a MUST for me. Run and grab this book 1 because it is FREE on amazon. The whispersync audio is $1.99.

Special Thanks to Night Shift Publishing via Netgalley for e-book given in exchange for a review.