The Ruin of a Rake by Cat Sebastian

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.

The Ruin of a Rake: by Cat Sebastian
Release Date: July 4th, 2017
Pages: 352 • Format: eARC
Published By: Avon Impulse
Purchase Links:
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Rogue. Libertine. Rake. Lord Courtenay has been called many things and has never much cared. But after the publication of a salacious novel supposedly based on his exploits, he finds himself shunned from society. Unable to see his nephew, he is willing to do anything to improve his reputation, even if that means spending time with the most proper man in London.

Julian Medlock has spent years becoming the epitome of correct behavior. As far as he cares, if Courtenay finds himself in hot water, it’s his own fault for behaving so badly—and being so blasted irresistible. But when Julian’s sister asks him to rehabilitate Courtenay’s image, Julian is forced to spend time with the man he loathes—and lusts after—most.

As Courtenay begins to yearn for a love he fears he doesn’t deserve, Julian starts to understand how desire can drive a man to abandon all sense of propriety. But he has secrets he’s determined to keep, because if the truth came out, it would ruin everyone he loves. Together, they must decide what they’re willing to risk for love.

five-stars

 

Bloody Brilliant. Loved every single minute of this.

Cat Sebastian, where have you been all my life? I fall in love with your writing more and more with each book. I seriously would like you to lock yourself up and just churn out historical romances! You are fantabulous!

I seriously want to swoony sigh all over the place. Courtenay and Julian gave me so much feelz. Along with the feelz, and steamy goodness you gave an amazing plot as well. So different then the other two, but amazingly good as well as the other. I loved the whole enemies to lovers trope, and these two played it well.

Julian Medlock is a meticulous mad. He is a gentleman, thinker, always plotting his next move. Never one to be surprised, but boy was he in for it was Lord Courtenay. Lord Courtenay is a rake, a wastrel, whose reputation is shot. Neither guy is who they really are deep down. I will not spoil it for you guys, but it is a must read. I loved the development of the relationship between the two, as well as the side character development and the plot. It was endearing to see them go circles over how they were feeling for one another. A few surprises that I truly enjoyed.

He remembered what Courtenay had told him, that love required trust, letting your heart be exposed and vulnerable.”

I really want to pick it up again and re-read it. Its that good. I loved Julian’s clever mind, and Courtenay devilishly handsome ways. He’s so honest, its heartbreaking to see at times especially when his reputation doesn’t account for the man he is. Julian is so protective over him, that its a shame everyone else could see the love but it took some hurt for them to figure it out. I really loved seeing the other couples make an appearance. I would love to see a novella featuring all the couple together at Carrington Hall. You can’t go wrong with this series, and so far Sebastian has gone above and beyond my wildest imagination on what this series could be. I really love her writing, and she’s become an auto-read and buy author. Highly recommend this book, and it’s definitely going on my Best Books of 2017 List!

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About Cat Sebastian

Cat writes steamy, upbeat historical romances. They usually take place in the Regency, generally have at least one LGBTQ+ main character, and always have happy endings.

Before writing, Cat was a lawyer and a teacher. She enjoys crossword puzzles, geeking out over birds, gardening badly, and–of course–reading. In high school, her parents went away for a week, and instead of throwing raucous parties, Cat read Middlemarch. Even worse, Cat remembers little of a trip through Europe because she was busy reading Mansfield Park. Her proudest moment was when she realized her kids were shaping up to be hopeless bookworms too. Currently, her favorite genres are romance, mystery and fantasy.

Cat lives with her husband, three kids, and dog in an improbably small house. After growing up in the northeast, she now lives in a part of the south where every body of water seems to contain alligators or sharks, and every restaurant serves biscuits and gravy. She likes the biscuits, but not so much the alligators.

Nico (Ruin & Revenge #1) by Sarah Castille

Series:
Narrator: Aiden Snow
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: Nico by Sarah Castille
Series: Ruin & Revenge #1
Release Date: December 27, 2016
Format: Audiobook (11 hrs 19 mins)
Genre: Romance, Mafia Romance
Published By: Tantor Audio

In , Las Vegas Mafia boss Nico Toscani is used to getting what he wants, whether it is having the City of Sin under his rule or a beautiful woman in his bed. But when he meets his match in the gorgeous, headstrong Mia Cordano, the daughter of a rival crime lord, all bets are off . . . Sexy computer hacker Mia struggles to break free of her ruthless father’s Mafia ties . . . but she can’t resist the powerful and seductive Nico, who will stop at nothing to possess her. With their families locked in a brutal war for control of the city, Mia and Nico enter into a forbidden game. Will they surrender to the passion that burns between them and risk tearing apart their families? Or will Nico be forced to betray the only woman who sets his blood on fire?

four-half-stars

This story was well developed, well written and completely engrossing. The narrator, Aiden Snow, nailed the voices of the main characters with an authentic Italian accent. His voice was a perfect complement to the entertaining writing of Sarah Castille.

Mia Cordano is a mafia princess but she wants nothing to do with the life. Mia’s father is obsessed with power and he has lined up a marriage for his daughter that will gain him an alliance with more power. Mia attempts to rebel against her father’s decree and begins making a life as a hacker. When it’s clear that Mia can’t escape her father’s arranged marriage, Mia find a champion in Nico Toscano. Nico is a Capo who wants revenge against his Uncle and all those who had a hand in the murder of his parents. Marrying Mia will create an alliance between the Toscano and the Cordano family. When Mia and Nico sneak off and marry subverting Don Cordano’s plan, the Cordanos vow revenge. Now Nico and Mia have to navigate the treacherous mafia world while fighting a growing attraction to each other. In the end, will love win over family loyalty and revenge?

I really enjoyed Mia as a heroine because she did not relish the role of being a mafia princess nor did she glamorize it in her head. She had a good grasp on what she wanted out of life as well as a husband even though she was forced to marry Nico Toscano to escape a worse fate.
The evolution of Mia and Nico’s relationship was gratifying to witness. She had a good sense of herself and so did Nico, who was looking for his place in the mob world. I like that Nico and Mia’s relationship wasn’t instantaneous, instead the author slowly developed their relationship. It added authenticity to the love they eventually found.

This book is one of the best written mafia romances I’ve read in a long time. The characters and the plot were commendably developed and the entire listening experience was so enjoyable. There was action, suspense, sex, love and drama. The only thing missing for me was a little more emotional angst given the environment the main characters existed in. Still, I found this book to be in the top echelon of mafia romances and I am anticipating an awesome series.

Ezi

Breaking the Ice by Tali Spencer

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.

Breaking the Ice: by Tali Spencer
Series: States of Love
Release Date: April 19th, 2017
Pages: 86 • Format: eARC
Published By: Dreamspinner Press
Purchase Links:
DreamspinnerAmazon

For Matt Wasko, February in Wisconsin is the best time of the year, and ice fishing on Lake Winnebago is his idea of heaven. With shanty villages cropping up, barbeques on the ice, monster sturgeon to spear, and plenty of booze to keep everybody warm, things couldn’t be better — until a surprise storm hits and an uninvited guest shows up at his frozen doorstep.

Matt’s not happy to see John Lutz, a coworker who cracks lame gay jokes at Matt’s expense. But John’s flimsy new ice shelter got blown across the lake, and it wouldn’t be right to leave even a jerk outside to freeze. Would it?

In the close quarters of Matt’s fabulous ice shanty, between stripping off wet clothes, misadventures with bait, and a fighting trophy-sized walleye, the two men discover creative ways to keep the cold at bay. And when John confesses his long-running attraction, Matt must decide if he can believe in John’s change of heart — and crack the ice for a chance at finding love.

States of Love: Stories of romance that span every corner of the United States.

three-stars

 

Breaking the Ice is a cute enemies to lovers story. Heavy on the ice fishing, low on the steam, and plenty of sass. I loved Matt’s sass. Being the poster boy for out & proud in this small Wisconsin town doesn’t even matter to Matt. He likes what he likes, does what he does and isn’t going back in anyone’s closet for anybody. John is new to town, and with all new people they find the popular people and try to fit it. Its what he did here, regardless of the homophobe taunts could have been aimed back at him, he just wanted to fit in.

I know next to nothing about fishing. Its not in my wheel house and I’m okay with that. Matt explained enough for the both of us. I really enjoyed his style and delivery on such things. He was a forgiving person even though he didn’t want to. I don’t really know if I liked John personally. I feel like we got to see the glimpse of him in a bad way, but post making up and setting amends it kinda flew passed. I didn’t get a feel of him like I would have liked to. This book is very much low on steam, which was another downer for me. They did move pretty quick together for my liking, or it could have been the second half of the book was rushed in my opinion.

It wasn’t a bad story, but it wasn’t as exciting as I would have liked it to be. The relationship growth was all on page, and majority of the book was spent talking about Ice Fishing. I would have liked too see them work things out together and definitely on page. It kept me interested enough to finish so there’s that. I think people would like it.

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About Tali Spencer

Tali Spencer delights in erotic fantasy and adventure, creating worlds where she can explore the heights and shadows of sexual passion. A hopeful romantic and lover of all things exotic, she also writes high fantasy and science fiction. If you would like to see inspiration pictures for her characters, or glimpse how she envisions her worlds, check out her Pinterest boards.

Thanks to a restless father, she grew up as a bit of a nomad and still loves to travel whenever she can. Her longest stint in one place was Milwaukee where she went to college, enjoyed a series of interesting careers, and raised three surprisingly well-adjusted sons. She later married her true love and put down new roots in Philadelphia, where she lives in an ongoing Italian American family sitcom. At least she’s learned how make good pasta. When not writing, Tali reads everything from sweet goofy romances to medical research, manages her fantasy football team—go Gekkos!—and takes long walks with her loving, if slightly neurotic, poodle.

Tali’s other books include the three preceding Uttor books: Captive Heart, Dangerous Beauty, and Adored, all with Resplendence. Her gay male high fantasy stories, Thick as Thieves, Sorcerer’s Knot, and The Prince of Winds, are published by Dreamspinner Press. She often posts free stories and excerpts on her blog.

Guest Reviewer: Lickety Split by Damon Suede

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.

Lickety Split: by Damon Suede
Release Date: March 13th, 2017
Pages: 286 • Format: eARC
Published By: Dreamspinner Press
Purchase Links:
DreamspinnerAmazon

Lickety Split: Love won’t wait.

Patch Hastle grew up in a hurry, ditching East Texas for NYC to make his name as a DJ and model without ever looking back. When his parents die unexpectedly, he heads home to unload the family farm ASAP and skedaddle. Except the will left Patch’s worst enemy in charge: his father’s handsome best friend who made his high school years hell.

Tucker Biggs is going nowhere. Twenty years past his rodeo days, he’s put down roots as the caretaker of the Hastle farm. He knows his buddy’s smartass son still hates his guts, but when Patch shows up growed-up, looking like sin in tight denim, Tucker turns his homecoming into a lesson about old dogs and new kinks.

Patch and Tucker fool around, but they can’t fool themselves. Once the farm’s sold, they mean to call it quits and head off to separate sunsets. With the clock ticking, the city slicker and his down-home hick get roped into each other’s life. If they’re gonna last longer than spit on a griddle, they better figure out what matters—fast.

four-stars

This book is a hard one to review. I thought the writing and storytelling was really good but there were things I didn’t like about it. Most of those things though are personal preferences so…on one hand I didn’t like this book but on the other, I liked it a lot (yes, helpful I know).

Patch heads back to the small town in Texas where he grew up to settle his parent’s estate. His dad’s best friend Tucker still lives on the property and is caretaking. Patch had a crush on Tucker as a teen but the older man was always mean to him so he’s dreading seeing him again. For the first 30% of the book I didn’t like Tucker. Not at all. He has had a life of running around on women, stealing from an ex and leaving a bunch of kids all over that he never took care of. (the kid thing is a hard limit for me) By 60% I found myself warming to him a bit. I think the thing that stands out about this for me is the author never makes excuses for him or tries to pretty up his past. Tucker is what he is. As the story goes on both Patch and the reader see this and learn to accept it. The good in him slowly unfolds and I have to say he treated Patch wonderfully and with the utmost care. By the end there is no doubt in your mind he loves Patch and he’ll anything he can for him. 

The whole thing made me think a lot as I was reading this. I didn’t necessary like Tucker and I wouldn’t in a million years get involved with someone like him but at the same time I could see the beauty in their relationship. I think that it is a great piece of storytelling when the author can make you care about a character you don’t actually like. I had spent the first 60-70% hoping Patch would go back to his life in New York but somehow as the story unfolded I found that I had somehow bought into this relationship hook, line and sinker. All the things I had been worried about (the age gap, the lifestyle differences, the life experience differences) all just melted away and I found myself rooting for these two to get a hea. On a side note, I also liked how the author handled the age gap and their past. Super realistic imo and not something you see often in romance stories.

Two of my biggest issues though were the slang and the crudeness of the story. They, especially Tucker, talk in heavy Southern slang and there were entire passages where I didn’t know what the heck he was talking about. In fact, there is this huge pivotal moment in their relationship towards the end and I literally don’t know most of what was said. I read it 3x and then just decided to go with it. I got the general idea. I found this frustrating because it did impact my overall enjoyment. I think I missed some of the emotions by not understanding scenes. 

And my biggest complaint…..the crudeness. Gah….it was horrible for me. A sex scene would start off and it would be kind of hot or kind of romantic and then Tucker would open his mouth and it would shoot straight into gross territory for me. This is a really personal preference though so this may not be an issue for other readers. Some examples were: “releasing his meat”, “You got a big load stored up for me? You carrying a lotta squirt in them balls?”, “the fat rammer”, “his fat branch”, “he kissed the juice of Tucker’s knob”, “He bent to suck the sauce off”. These were just never ending and I swear the word “dick” was never used and “cock” only once. It was constantly his “meat” (which I find so, so gross) and a million other euphemisms. (euphemisms are a pet peeve of mine which didn’t help). SO……..different strokes for different folks and all that. I’m including these examples because I know a lot of people told me they didn’t like Hot Head due to the crudeness. I had no issue

with that book, in fact I loved it, so be prepared. If it was too crude for you this is probably not going to work. (I’m just giving little examples….the sex scenes were all pretty crude.) On another note, there was a Hot Head easter egg which made me smile. I love when author’s do those.

I have really mixed feelings about this. Huge portions of it I didn’t like and even by the end I didn’t love Tucker but, I really felt the love between these two men. I felt their emotions so strongly and there’s a scene towards the end where Tucker lays his feelings out that was really beautiful. I think the author did a really good job on making this relationship feel real and turn out good. Big kudos to him for doing this and for writing a romance outside the box.

 

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Working It by Christine D’Abo

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

Working It: by Christine D’Abo
Series: Ringside Romance #1
Release Date: February 6, 2017
Pages: 247 • Format: eARC
Published By: Riptide Publishing
Purchase Links:
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Nolan Carmichael is getting a fresh start—new career, new company, new life. The only problem is, he liked his old life just fine . . . until an accident robbed him of his health, his job, his self-confidence, and his ability to go out in public without having anxiety attacks.

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

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

three-half-stars

 

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

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

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

About Christine D’Abo

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

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

A Coal Miner’s Son by T.A. Chase

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.

The Coal Miner’s Son: by T.A. Chase
Series: States of Love 
Release Date: January 4, 2017
Pages: 104 • Format: eARC
Published By: Dreamspinner Press
Purchase Links:
Dreamspinner PressAmazon

James Callahan is the only son of Nicholas Callahan, owner of the Willow Hollow mine in West Virginia—but he’s never considered himself any better than the miners. He’s best friends with Owain Rees, one of the miners’ kids, and he’s been attracted to Cai, Owain’s older brother, for years. James gets the feeling he might not be the only one sensing the tension between them, but Cai avoids him religiously.

Cai has been working the mine since he was sixteen. He acknowledges James is cute, but he’s grown up privileged while Cai’s family has always been working class, and Cai fears that chasm is too wide to cross. When family drama pushes them together, will Cai and James see they’re more alike than they realized?

Take a leap of faith as two men from different worlds, employer and employee, rich and poor, discover that love transcends social barriers.

States of Love: Stories of romance that span every corner of the United States.

four-stars

My first T.A. Chase book, and it was a sweet fluffy romance! I really enjoyed this story and loved the romance between the two. This series continues to be really sweet and good. Cai and James are kinda enemies. James is the rich son of the boss in Willows Hollow. Cai’s family is a founding family of Willow’s Hollow and he doesn’t take kind to strangers and people who are hoyty toyty. He thinks James is exactly like his father. Well they both come to learn the other isn’t what they same.

I really liked James character in this story. He was the complete opposite of what anyone could expect of him. He is the only child, and he’s super down to earth. He kinda wishes he wasn’t born with a silver spoon in his mouth. He’s so nice, comforting, and realizing now he wants to be in love. Except he’s in love with Cai, his best friend’s brother. Cai who ignores him constantly and thinks the worst of him.

I really don’t get why Cai disliked James so much. He never really had a conversation with him outside of work. He’s never seen him socially, and never gotten to know him. I honestly think Cai disliked him to be a petulant child. I did like Cai, he was a overall good guy. He seemed a little high strung at times, but that can be attributed to the town he stays in and the people he deals with.

After a stressful event, Cai ends up at James house. It’s unexpected for both guys, but the invitation was out there. They realized after much debate how much they are interested in one another. The was a bit of a slow burn, but I really liked the two together. I thought they were cute how they handled one another. All in all, I think this was a really good story. It had a few hiccups along with the way with names in the wrong places, and a mixed up paragraph or so. Overall, I’d recommend this story. Two guys who are meant to be but don’t know it comes together beautifully.

About T.A. Chase

There is beauty in every kind of love, so why not live a life without boundaries? Experiencing everything the world offers fascinates me and writing about the things that make each of us unique is how I share those insights. I live in the Midwest with a wonderful partner of thirteen years. When not writing, I’m watching movies, reading and living life to the fullest.

Striking Sparks by Ari McKay

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.

Striking Sparks: by Ari McKay
Release Date: December 15th, 2016
Pages: 214 • Format: eARC
Published By: Dreamspinner Press
Purchase Links:
DreamspinnerAReAmazon

The stakes are high and the heat is on.

Beau Walker, owner of the Barbecue Shack, needs the help of Jake Parnell, his one-time rival and secret crush, in a televised barbecue competition. Beau is a proud man, but the stakes are high, and smart, sexy Jake is his only hope, even if being around Jake reawakens the attraction he’s fought for years.

Jake left his hometown, determined to build a life somewhere his sexuality wouldn’t hurt his family’s restaurant business—and far away from hunky, obstinate Beau Walker. Then his twin, Josh, is killed, and Jake returns to support his brother’s wife and children. Despite his reservations, he agrees to go head-to-head against Beau on national television. Between stress and grief, as well as pride and determination, only one thing is certain—the heat between Beau and Jake extends well beyond the kitchen.

three-stars

I liked the idea way better then the execution of the story. I guess I spent most of my time trying to figure out why they were enemies. They weren’t really enemies, in fact they spent their time disliking each other for the same exact feelings. I didn’t really warm up to Jake until the end, I really dislike when someone assumes things about people, and he spent most of his time assuming the worst about Beau. The bully word came up to much for me in response to Beau, but he did not one bully thing in this book. I get the authors tried to pave the way by not having a prologue of some sorts, but I can’t take the word of Jake on Beau being a bully. The little flashback instance wasn’t enough, because I didn’t feel he was a bully. Honestly, I just like they were talking to each other and how 17 years old are. Don’t get me wrong, the book wasn’t terrible, but I wouldn’t classify it under my cheesy goodness/sugary sweet fluff tags. I just didn’t feel it all.

Between the competition, and the guys finding realizing what everyone else knows, then I’m left with a blank slate. Jake has to come back home to Buffalo Lick to take over the family’s restaurant. His twin brother and best friend has died two months previous leaving a pregnant wife and two small children. Jake didn’t see himself returning to the small town in Texas. His dreams of teaching got put on hold to help out his sister in law. After all he’s all about family duty. Jake is holding is on, when Gourmet Network decides to film their new Barbecue competition in their town. Jake is know going up against The Shack. His rivalry not just in cooking but in life. Beau Walker is a small town guy, who loves cooking. He has never seen himself doing anything else.

I really can’t explain the reasoning why it took them so long to get on the same page. It was definitely miscommunication on both guys sides. It was low steam for me, 3 stars because it wasn’t bad, but it was nothing there. Not enough character building for me. When they did get together right, the banter was pretty good from there, but that was more then 50% later on in the book. It does offer a HEA. If you are looking for that in your books then the Dreamspun Desires series is right up your alley.

About Ari McKay

Ari McKay is the professional pseudonym for Arionrhod and McKay, who collaborate on original m/m fiction. They began writing together in 2004 and finished their first original full length novel in 2011. Recently, they’ve begun collaborating on designing and creating costumes to wear and compete in at Sci Fi conventions, and they share a love of yarn and cake.

Arionrhod is an avid costumer, knitter, and all-around craft fiend, as well as a professional systems engineer. Mother of two human children and two dachshunds who think they are human, she is a voracious reader with wildly eclectic tastes, devouring romance novels, military science fiction, horror stories and Shakespeare with equal glee. She is currently preparing for the zombie apocalypse.

McKay is an English teacher who has been writing for one reason or another most of her life. She also enjoys knitting, reading, cooking, and playing video games. She has been known to knit in public. Given she has the survival skills of a gnat, she’s relying on Arionrhod to help her survive the zombie apocalypse.

Love Restored (Gallagher Brothers, #1) by Carrie Ann Ryan

Series:
Love Restored Book Cover Love Restored
Gallagher Brothers #1
Carrie Ann Ryan
Contemporary Romance
Pink Ink Books
September 13th 2016
Kindle edition
199

A broken man uncovers the truth of what it means to take a second chance with the most unexpected woman…

Graham Gallagher has seen it all. And when tragedy struck, lost it all. He’s been the backbone of his brothers, the one they all rely on in their lives and business. And when it comes to falling in love and creating a life, he knows what it’s like to have it all and watch it crumble. He’s done with looking for another person to warm his bed, but apparently he didn’t learn his lesson because the new piercer at Montgomery Ink tempts him like no other.

Blake Brennen may have been born a trust fund baby, but she’s created a whole new life for herself in the world of ink, piercings, and freedom. Only the ties she’d thought she’d cut long ago aren’t as severed as she’d believed. When she finds Graham constantly in her path, she knows from first glance that he’s the wrong kind of guy for her. Except that Blake excels at making the wrong choice and Graham might be the ultimate temptation for the bad girl she’d thought long buried.

I enjoyed this story and it was a really good beginning to a new series. This story featured one of my favorite tropes: Enemies to Friends. And this one didn’t disappoint as we got the classic push and pull distinctive of love-hate relationships.

Blake Brennen has grown up from that silver spoon heiress that many people remembered. She has returned home a mature woman who knows the value of hard work. When she hires the Gallagher Brothers to restore her new home, Blake immediately clashes with Graham Gallagher.
His first impression of her is that of a pampered princess born with a silver spoon and he couldn’t stand her. Of course his body got a different memo.

Despite the attraction, Graham treated Blake quite crudely. They spent a lot of time verbally sparring but it was clear that both Blake and Graham’s fighting was fueled by their past hurts and baggage.
Slowly, they begin to see beyond the surface and the secrets final come to life. In the end, Blake and Graham realize how much they misjudged each other and the individual healing began.

It took a while to connect with both character for different reasons, but I felt empathetic to their pain. At first glance, it appears that the author Carrie Ann Ryan wrote simple characters and plots. But as the story evolves, the reader sees just how complex and intricate the individuals truly were.
The pace was very even, and the chemistry was scorching hot. It was easy to read and I felt satisfied by the end. I look forward to finishing the Montgomery Ink series and getting more books in this series.
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Marriage of Inconvenience by M.J. O’Shea

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.

perf4.250x7.000.inddMarriage of Inconvenience by M.J. O’Shea
Series: Dreamspun Desires
Release Date: August 15, 2016
Pages: 214 • Format: eARC
Published By: Dreamspinner Press
Purchase Links:
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Lights, camera, lies.

Kerry Pickering has a problem. As a publicist for Hollywood bad boy Jericho Knox, it’s Kerry’s job to keep Jericho in the news. So far, Jericho’s partying and public escapades have made it easy. But Jericho has a secret, and when that secret is revealed in the most spectacularly disastrous way, it’s up to Kerry to spin it.

The team decides the best course of action is to make the public fall in love—with Jericho’s secret committed relationship. The one that doesn’t exist. Yet.

The team wants someone they can trust. Someone in the inner circle. That someone is Kerry. But what will happen when Kerry realizes that for him, the romance is no longer pretend? Can Jericho love him back, or is he just playing a role?

 

three-half-stars

 

This was my first book in the Dreamspun Desires series. I liked it. It took a while for me to get into it, but I definitely enjoyed it in the end. Jericho Knox is a man made to not follow rules. He’s giving his PR firm a pretty big headache. He’s been persuaded to appear “straight” for Hollywood. This is not a big shocker,because if he wants to be famous then he’ll have to play by their rules. Well things go wrong for him when he’s picture with a guy in a NSFW type of photo. Enter Kerry Pickering one of the publicist for Jericho. He makes a pitch on how to save Jericho’s career and future job.

Sure enough Kerry’s helpful advice comes back to bite him in the butt literally. Instead of a sweet girl next door, the firm tells Kerry it’s his time to buck up and help out. By way of playing Jericho’s fake fiancee’. I liked the steady climb of their relationship. Sure Jericho was a major douche in the beginning, but he doesn’t have anyone in the same city he seems like he can trust. Kerry is so sweet. He’s a little naive about things, and maybe sees the good in people to much, but I still enjoyed him for Jericho. When they both realize that they aren’t really faking it, signals get crossed and actions happen that forced them apart.

This was a sweet, cheesy, low-angst story. I enjoyed it, and liked the OTT things that happened. I enjoyed seeing both guys happy and seeing them mend their relationship!

About M.J. O’Shea

M.J. O’Shea has never met a music festival, paintbrush, or flower crown she can stay away from. She loves rainstorms and a perfect cup of tea, beach days, music, bright colors, and more than anything a cozy evening with a really good book.
She is from the Pacific Northwest. While she still lives there and loves it, M.J. has the heart of a wanderer. So she puts all her dreams of far off places and extraordinary people in her books.
Except for every once in a while when she does what all travelers have to do on occasion… come home.

The First Morning After by Marie Lark

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.

51YY0UTlnLL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_The First Morning After by Marie Lark
Release Date: June 6, 2016
Pages: 129 • Format: eARC
Published By: Loose Id
Purchase Links:
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For as long as he can remember, Danny Rojas has wanted all-star first baseman Mitchel Finch. And he could swear that in high school, Mitchel was maybe interested, too. But the baseball team made Danny’s life a living hell back then, and the moment he was able, he got out. Five years later at a friend’s wedding, Danny finally has the chance, and more importantly, the courage, to act on his years-long crush.

Mitchel Finch used to have it so good–a brilliant athlete with lots of friends, a gorgeous girlfriend, and a place of importance in his home town. All he had to do was play it straight. But when an injury ends his baseball career, and his best friend’s wedding reminds him of everything he lost, Mitchel jumps at the opportunity Danny gives him–a night to be honest with himself. A night to finally feel wanted for exactly who he is.

The trouble is, neither of their circumstances has changed by morning. Mitchel is still closeted, and Danny is still the town pariah. Can a connection, building for years and forged in one night, survive the first morning after?

two-half-stars

I was super prepared to give this 3 stars. Then at 71% everything went to downhill. I went into my hulk rage where I’m mad at the events that are happening. I’m mad at the characters who don’t seem to be thinking straight or thinking about their actions and the consequences of other people. This is my first time reading anything by this author and it was okay up until that point.

I was not thrilled about how the reunion between Danny & Mitchel. The little background on them in high school wasn’t sufficient enough evidence on their unrequited love. If it was that. It seemed one-sided to at times. Even if Mitchel was in the closet, he didn’t really show that he was interested in Danny back then. I mean yeah certain things came out in the story regarding Mitchel’s sexuality. I’m fine with him not defining his sexuality. I was definitely more pissed off at Danny.

Talk about having no self preservation. Now this was my biggest rage. Danny doesn’t seem to know what he wants. I’m not even clear on if it was just lust he was after when it came to Mitchel or just to scored on someone who he’s been crushing on. I’m okay with either one, but then the story takes a different tone when it involves his mother and being gay bashed for the second time around.

I’m not okay with Danny picking the fight because of the argument with his mother, and even though Mitchel prevailed in the end this was the second time Danny was about to get beat up and he sat their idling in his mind because of fear of what it would mean that he’s about to protect Danny. Don’t get me wrong, Mitchel is so far in the closet in this small podunk town that he has to think about his consequences of helping. I get all of that. What you won’t get from me is any sympathy. It’s harsh living their and being who everyone wants you to be. But him being a role model to these losers who he was friends with just turned my stomach. It was pack mentality at best. I definitely checked out at this point. I’m glad Danny was able to forgive him, but I didn’t like it.

I wouldn’t classify this as a HEA or HFN because I’m uncertain on them as a future. It had okay parts in it, but the events after the halfway mark almost made me chuck it into the DNF pile.

About Marie Lark

Marie Lark is a part-time teacher and a rest-of-the-time writer. She lives in New York with her very respectable husband and very tiny dog in an old house that has many stories of its own. Her favorite hobbies are tai chi and yoga, gardening, cooking, and flailing over her favorite characters in literature, television and film.

When not figuring out how to put her PhD in political science to use, she can be found with her journal or laptop, dreaming in the worlds she builds for her characters.