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Review: Eater of Lives

Eater of Lives - Jordan L. Hawk

Holy moly, these just get better and better! I'm glad I am reading them now, rather than when they came out, because cliffie!!! Though I need to jump into a different book before I read books 5 and 6 here, so...

I am loving John, Caleb and Gray. So much uncertainty regarding how things are going to end up. Gray has developed feelings for John and Caleb, but he doesn't think the feelings are returned and Caleb is so uncertain as to where his relationship with John will be whether or not they are successful exorcising Gray. And that ending! I'm at the edge of my seat -- I'll come back to this series in a couple days.

Review: Reaper of Souls

Reaper of Souls (SPECTR) - Jordan L. Hawk

This is getting really good! I'm so glad I have more I can read, because this one stops at a point where I was like 'you're stopping there?!' .. and if I had to wait for the next part...

Review: Master of Ghouls

Master of Ghouls - Jordan L. Hawk

Wow, this series is right up my tree. I love Gray and am finding that I don't want for John to find a way to remove him from Caleb. I like them all and, well, want them all to be together. <3

Review: Hunter of Demons

Hunter of Demons (SPECTR, 1) - Jordan L. Hawk

This was my first Jordan L Hawk book! I know, I know, what took me so long, right? I'm wondering that, too.

I enjoyed Hunter of Demons quite a lot. It was a quirky take on the paranormal genre. I loved how Caleb interacted with Gray, and John's interactions with them both. And the whole idea of the "paranormally enabled", was pretty awesome, too. Too funny.

I'm off to read the next book, now.

Review: Cherry Pop

Cherry Pop - Samantha Kane

I quite enjoyed the first two books in this series, and I really enjoy this author's writing (most of the time) so even though it took me a good year to read this one, I looked forward to it. Cherry Pop didn't much work for me, though.

I liked Tripp. He was a happy guy and I loved how he just embraced it when he discovered something new about himself. No internal angst, he just went with it full speed ahead. What I​ ​didn't like, though, was that he let Ben walk all over him. Repeatedly.​ I really thought he deserved better than to let Ben dictate all of what their relationship would be. Also, Tripp kind of latched onto Ben, and was much like a puppy begging for attention. There was no build up at all, when it came to Tripp's feelings for Ben​, and I found I missed that.

Ben though....I didn't much like him at all. I get that he got burnt pretty bad by his last boyfriend. He wasn't treated well and he put up with it until the guy finally dumped him​ (8 years later)​. His boyfriend had isolated him and treated him like a dirty secret and was jealous of everyone. So what does he do? He treats Tripp like a dirty secret and treats him like crap. ​And ​I really didn't like it when he presumed to tell Tripp what he (Tripp) felt or thought. It isn't up to Ben to decide if Tripp is gay or not. It's ok to not want to be someone's experiment, but beyond that, no. Ben projected his own issues onto Tripp and was an asshole to Tripp and he kept that up for far longer than my patience will put up with.

​So, Cherry Pop was not really to my liking. And no matter how much I loved the first two books in this series, I just couldn't deal with all the fuckery in this one.​

ARC Review: Enemy Within

Enemy Within - Tal Bauer

​Wow, this book! I was on the edge of my seat through most of it. Action packed, suspenseful, a few swoony moments, and Jack & Ethan (and our other couples) finally get their happy!​

Now, before I get into my review, there are a few things to cover:

1) If you have not read the previous 2 books (and the novela) read them first, as Enemy Within is not a stand alone book.
2) Suspend your disbelief. Turn it off, if you can. This series takes place a bit in the future where science is more advanced than it currently is. Also, the intrigue and suspense plot did strain my credulity here and there, but I don't say that like it's a bad thing, at all. The story is exciting and fast-paced and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
3) And sit back and enjoy the ride. And hang on tight!

​Enemy Within​​ is a touch contemporary a little futuristic a ​bit of sci-fi, a huge helping of suspense and a whole lot of ​awesome​​.​

​The story picks right up where Enemy of My Enemy left off with General Madigan planning his evil and Jack and Ethan working to stop him.​ And the cards are stacked against them.​ I am not going to talk more about the story, though, because this one is meant to be experienced, not spoiled!

I will say that Jack and Ethan are just wonderful together. They didn't have a lot of time to get down and dirty (they have a world to save, after all), but they managed a few moments and they made me swoon more than once. And I was cheering on two other couples, as well. When you know the world might end in a moment -- really know it -- it puts things in perspective. Adam and Faisal were my second favorite couple and I cheered them at every turn. And then we have Sergey and Sasha -- no telling which them is more stubborn. The point, though? Live for today, because tomorrow might not be.

​Those of you that have read the first two books, you are in for a treat here! A​nd if you've been waiting until the story arc resolves in order to read this series, you can safely do so now. Enemy Within wraps things up, pretty well. I'm not going to say it's all neat and tidy, though. Tal Bauer can still take the story further, if they choose to do so, since there are a couple things left open ended, but the story arc that started with Enemies of the State has resolved -- so what are you waiting for?

ARC of Enemy Within was generously provided by the author, in exchange for an honest review.

ARC Review: Imago

Imago - N.R. Walker

4.5 Stars

I absolutely loved Imago. It's a truly gorgeous story with supremely likable MC's and adorkableness in abundance. I have a weak spot for geeks of many flavors, not to mention the tall, rugged outdoorsy type (though I'm not remotely outdoorsy, so this is total fantasy for me) and there is just something about a smart man in a bow tie that just does it for me.

Lawson Gale is a lepidopterist, a person who specializes in the study of all things butterfly. He's flown to Tasmania to meet up with colleague who wishes for Lawson to go in search of a butterfly he saw many decades ago, but could never find again. Lawson is cautious, but cannot pass up such an opportunity. Lawson was gloriously geeky and absolutely adorkable, even when he was a bit clumsy, which was fairly often.

Jack Brighton lives and works in Tasmania as a Parks and Wildlife officer. He's tall and maybe a bit intimidating, but Jack is a teddy bear. When he first laid eyes on the geeky guy in the bow tie when he was on a plane back to Tasmania, from Melbourne, he was quite taken. And when he sees that same guy having trouble at the rental car counter, he offers his assistance. How could he resist, after all?

And thus begins a courtship between two men with very different backgrounds who, none the less, are very compatible - in every way. I loved them together. I loved their dates, I loved their ritual of giving each other flowers, I loved the picnic in the back yard, I loved Jack's dog, Rosemary. I loved Lawson's passion for his butterflies, I loved that Jack saw the importance in Lawson's work, and I loved this story from beginning to end.

"I came to Tasmania in search of an elusive species." ... "But never in my wildest dreams did I expect to find you."

Imago was steamier than most books by this author. The sex was sweet and passionate. The angst is low and the ending a strong HFN. I look forward to reading book two and experiencing more of Jack's and Lawson's story!

ARC of Imago was generously provided by the author, in exchange for an honest review.

Review: Broken

Broken - Nicola Haken
"Broken crayons can still colour."

I don't know if I can write a review to do this book any kind of justice. I was hooked from the beginning and am so happy that I finally got around to reading it. I've been saving this book, you see. Saving it for a time when I knew I could just sit and read and absorb it.

I'm going to work on an actual review, but I think I need to let this story simmer a bit in my head before I'll be able to find the right words. I hope they're in there somewhere.

ARC Review: Dirty Games

Dirty Games - Barbara Elsborg

I'm a big fan of this author's paranormal romances. I haven't read much of her contemporary stuff, but I wanted to give Dirty Games a shot. This one sounded a bit angsty, which is fine with me and the blurb, while convoluted, still intrigued me enough to read the story.

The plot, though, was ... busy. That's about the only way I can describe it. There's so much going on and the characters criss-cross in some unbelievable ways that I nearly had to draw a map to keep up . Also, it involves revenge dating and blackmail, which I wasn't so sure about but thought I would try anyway, just to see. Well...

Linton is an architect. It's all he's ever wanted to be. He left London for three months to work at his company's New York office, to get away from a coworker he got involved with (Pascal). The relationship ended badly when Linton found out that his boyfriend had been cheating on him, with a woman. So, he swears off dating bisexuals and heads to New York to try to get a hold of himself.

When Linton gets back to London, he finds his younger brother has trashed his flat and has been turning tricks. Again. And after a couple days, his brother ends up in the hospital, after being beaten up and dosed with heroin, and he finally wants to get clean. Of course, Linton wants to put him in rehab, but he needs money to do that, and also to pay the debt that his brother owes to some very bad people.

Thorne is an actor. A bit arrogant and very much gorgeous and he has a tendency to get into trouble. He's bisexual, and his agent keeps trying to get him to "choose" to be gay or straight, even though he knows it doesn't work that way. Well, Thorne's last relationship ended spectacularly badly and he's feeling very burnt by it all. Trust doesn't come easy for him at the moment because he's been burned too much by people that were supposed to care about him.

And herein lies the plot. Linton's boss, Max, is the older brother of Thorne's ex, Owen. Owen is very unstable and went off the rails after Thorne, very publicly, dumped him. So, Max pays Linton to seduce Thorne and publicly humiliate him, and blackmails him to make sure that Linton complies.

O.M.G. If you think those last few paragraphs were exhausting, you should read the story. I didn't hate it, I didn't love it, but damn, was it a lot to keep up with.

Summary of things I liked about the story:

-- I liked Linton and Thorne. I liked their banter. I liked their chemistry. I liked their sexy-times. I liked that they really wanted to do right by their brothers.

-- I liked River (Thorne's brother)

-- I even came to like Dirk (Linton's brother), somewhat, once he stopped being a selfish twat.

And what I didn't like:

-- I didn't like that that Linton kept putting off telling Thorne about Max and Owen's plan and where Linton fit into it. So much bullshit could have been avoided by having that conversation and I spent way too long dreading what would happen when Thorne found out (and I wasn't much a fan of what did happen when Thorne found out).

-- I didn't like Max, Owen and Pascal. At all. Not a single redeeming anything with the lot of them.

-- As it turns out, I didn't care for the blackmail plot line or the petty revenge, either

Dirty Games isn't what I expected. Sometimes that works out, sometimes it doesn't. I'm still trying to work out which it is, in this particular case.

ARC of Dirty Games was generously provided by the author, via Signal Boost Promotions, in exchange for an honest review.

Review: An Invitation

An Invitation - Jay Northcote

What a sexy nibble of a story, An Invitation was. Perfect for a lunchtime read.

It is short, only about 35 pages, so don't expect more than a couple scenes. But even with it's brevity, I found it most delightful!

I could feel the chemistry between Jake and Cal and their little sexy spanking scene in Cal's office was delicious. And I found the build up to it satisfying, as well.

I would definitely recommend An Invitation to those who are looking for something short and sexy and enjoy a touch of kink.


Review copy of An Invitation was generously provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

ARC Review: True Colors

True Colors (True Love) - Anyta Sunday

Once upon a time, there were two best friends. They grew up together and though they each felt more than friendship toward the other, as they got older, teenagers are sometimes very stupid and say things they don't mean in order to hide how they feel. And it's never easy to come back from that.

Marco already believed what Oskar said, before he ever said it -- that is why it hurt so badly. That is why Marco never believed that Oskar didn't mean it. That is why saying he was sorry was never enough. So after 9 years of friendship, Marco shut the door and hid behind the hurt and the anger.

Four years have past, though, and Oskar is back. He wants to make amends. He wants to tell Marco how he feels -- how he's always felt. Marco, though, is still deeply hurt and angry that he still cares.

Pain is a hard thing to forget.

Told in first person, present tense, from Marco's POV, True Colors is the story of Marco and Oskar. It tells how Marco learns to let go of things that cannot be changed, how he learns to accept himself, and how he learns to let Oskar in again.

I felt so bad for Marco -- losing his mother, being scarred by the accident that killed her (mentally and physically) and feeling so alone. Marco was afraid to show anyone his body because he felt so ugly. And the one person that really mattered lost his trust.

And Oskar really didn't mean what he said. It was stupid and hurtful and he has spent the last four years filled with regret and wanting only his Marco. He tried to move on, but it's only ever been Marco that Oskar has wanted.

True Colors is a friends-to-enemies-to-lovers story done right. The hurt, the UST, the feelings that were still going strong. All of it.

ARC of True Colors was generously provided by the author, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.

ARC Review: At Attention

At Attention - Annabeth Albert

At Attention, while book 2 in Annabeth Albert's Out of Uniform series, can be read as a stand alone.

Apollo Floros is a Navy SEAL, the father of twin girls, and a widower. When Apollo's husband died two years ago, Apollo stopped living, too. He breathes, he goes to work, he takes care of his daughters, but Apollo has no time for himself. Because that would mean time to think and time to examine his life and time to grieve. Apollo isn't ready for any of those things. He's not ready to move on and doesn't think he ever will be.

Dylan is the younger brother of Apollo's best friend, Dustin. He is in San Diego for the summer, after graduating college, to run a local summer day camp for kids. It fits his degree and is a step in the direction of what Dylan really wants to do, which is run after school programs for kids. I really liked Dylan a lot. He's a good guy who knows what he wants and makes strides to get it. Dylan is more than a decade younger than Apollo and has crushed on his brother's best friend for years. But Dylan is all grown up, now, and while the attraction is definitely still there, Dylan sees that Apollo hasn't moved on from his husband, and maybe never would.

Though there is sex-a-plenty in At Attention (the sex in front of the mirror being a favorite of mine), the romance had a slow burn feel to it. I wasn't fond of the way that Apollo kept running hot and cold, but I understood, at least a little bit, where his issues were coming from. He's never allowed himself to really grieve for his husband and he feels guilt for not still seeing Dylan as the kid he was when they met. Apollo's coping mechanism is avoidance.

Dylan, though, knows what he's in for and goes for it, anyway, figuring that if he knows up front that the relationship is temporary, that he could protect his heart. He's also self-aware enough to know he's lying to himself. And while he has trouble with Apollo pushing him away when things got heavy, he gave Apollo the space. And I loved it when the time came for the 'come to Jesus' moment, that Dylan stood up for himself and made it clear that he deserved better than to be an afterthought or second choice.

And I even enjoyed seeing the interactions with Apollo's five year old daughters. I'm not much of a kid person (read: at all), but it was great seeing just how well Dylan was with them. Also, I think the kids softened Apollo a little bit. They humanized the big, tough, grumpy SEAL without taking over the story.

I think I enjoyed Off Base slightly more, but both are pretty on par for me and I would recommend this series to those who, like me, enjoy military romance.

ARC of At Attention was graciously provided by Indigo Marketing, in exchange for an honest review.

ARC Review: Strays

Strays - Garrett Leigh

No one does tortured, flawed MC's as well as Garrett Leigh.She takes heroes, damaged by life, and gives them well fought and much deserved happy endings and I've never picked up one of her stories that I did not enjoy. In fact, the first book in this series, Misfits, is -- hands down -- my favorite book of hers. And though Strays contains the MC's from Misfits as secondary characters, you can read this one as a stand alone, if you wish.

Lenny Mitchell works for Misfits, one of the many Urban Soul restaurants. He's young and grew up in an affluent family where he was expected to follow a particular path in life. He started out doing just that and then decided that living someone else's existence wasn't making him happy. So he dropped out of Uni, died his hair pink and decided to live a little. He wanted to devote time to his art, too, because that is something he truly felt passionate about.

But then, Lenny got noticed by the wrong someone. He would claim to be Lenny's boyfriend and he would send creepy letters. He also broke into Lenny's apartment just so that Lenny knew that he couldn't escape. But the police weren't much help, so Lenny moved around, changed jobs, going from dancing at a gay club to waiting tables at Misfits. However, when his stalker managed to find him there, too, Lenny had a bit of a melt down.

Cass then offers him another opportunity to work at Pippa's, another Urban Soul restaurant, and stay in the apartment upstairs, with one of their chef's, Nero. That arrangement would mean that Lenny could live and work in the same building and maybe take a much needed break from having to watch his back.

Nero Fierro is a chef that works for Cass, Tom and Jake. He moves around between the Urban Soul restaurants depending on where he is needed. He's helped design the kitchens, developed menus and he works harder than anyone. In fact, work is what keeps Nero going and he will take all the work that Cass, Tom and Jake will give him. What he won't take easily, though, are promotions or praise. He is also one of the "strays" that Cass has taken in over the years, and though Nero feels he owes Cass pretty much everything, he still keeps a lot to himself.

In fact, Nero is a very closed off guy. He's been damaged by things that have happened to him and things he's done and Nero doesn't really think he deserves a happily ever after. He's cynical and a bit grumpy, and doesn't let anyone close to him. Even his best friend, Cass, has only gotten so far. Cass is crafty, though, and thinks that helping Lenny is just what Nero needs.

So Nero and Lenny are thrown together at Pippa's. While Nero doesn't, at first, want someone else in his space all the time, he quickly acclimates to having Lenny around. His attraction to Lenny does make it easier, for sure, but Nero isn't one for opening up, so he continually pushes Lenny away, especially when Lenny asks questions trying to get to know Nero. Even after Lenny finally opens up and tells Nero why he's hiding out at Pippa's and they each acknowledge their attraction to one another, Nero still backs off thinking that Lenny deserves better. Meanwhile, Lenny just want to know Nero. And it was that holding pattern - that they stayed in a bit too long for my tastes - that made this a four star read for me instead of 4.5 or 5 stars.

Still though, I loved Nero and Lenny and I thought they were wonderful together, especially once they really found their stride. And while love does not conquer all their issues, it does at least show them that they aren't alone. And I loved that there wasn't a bunch of drama for the sake of drama. That's one of the reasons, actually, that I am such a fan of this author. Yes, there is angst (sometimes quite a lot) and yes the MC's are always damaged by their pasts, but the stories feel genuine and real and Strays is no different.


ARC of Strays was generously provided by the publisher, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.

ARC Review: Bonfires

Bonfires - Amy Lane

The MC's of Bonfires are both in their late 40's. I love that. I read a lot of M/M romance and while I enjoy the energy of youth, I find maturity to be entirely refreshing. We don't have the same types of angst and drama here as with many books with younger MC's. Instead, we have two men who know what they want and work to get it.

That isn't to say there is no angst or drama in Bonfires. There most certainly is. But there isn't a ton of melodrama and no ex-wife drama at all (thank you, Amy Lane!). Bonfires is about family - family of your blood and family you choose. It's also about second chances at love and life. It's about finding happiness when you least expect it. And, as a plus, Amy Lane left out the Four Horsemen, this time.

Bonfires tells the story of Aaron George, a deputy in a small town near Sacramento, and Larx, a former science teacher at the local high school and now it's reluctant principal. Two bisexual men who never expected to find love again, much less in a small conservative town. They each have kids from former relationships (Aaron is a widower and Larx is divorced) and while I expected some drama to come from that angle, there wasn't really much, I'm happy to report.

There are two sub-plots that run through the book -- a murder, that fits into Aaron's job, and a bully at the high school (mean girl) that is the focus of Larx. Woven into everything is the need for inclusiveness and school being a safe space. Larx and his vice principal and the other teachers we meet really seem to care about their kids.

I liked both subplots and how they wove together and how, ultimately, they were used to illustrate why bigotry has no place in our lives. The kids matter, and the often marginalized kids need to feel like they belong, too. Bonfires was told in an engaging way without ever feeling didactic or preachy.

Overall, I quite enjoyed this story. With younger MC's, I'd call the ending an HFN, since only a few months pass, but with these guys, I'm certain they are in it for the long haul. They're family, through and through.

ARC of Bonfires was generously provided by the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.

Review: Prince of Faith

Prince of Faith - Belinda McBride

Not a bad story, though I never felt the connection between Markus and Caius. They were both so wounded by the last several years, that I think they just needed more time to heal. I did still enjoy the story, even though it was not my favorite of the series.

Review: An Uncommon Whore and When I Fall

When I Fall - Belinda McBride

This review is for both books An Uncommon Whore and When I Fall. You really need to read them together, they do not stand well on their own.

Can you believe I have had both books on my Kindle for nearly 2 years? That seems to happen to me a lot, but I'm working on reading my fairly massive TBR. One thing that always made me pass up these books, even though the blurbs obviously appealed to me (or I wouldn't have bought the books) is I don't really find the covers appealing. Just personal preference. I had been told, by many people, however, that the story was good, so I finally decided to see for myself.

I did enjoy both books, I am happy to say. I can't help thinking, though, that the story would have been better served by having both books 1 & 2 in a single volume. I get -- I think -- why it was put out as 2 books (POV switch and the year time jump), but that could have been made to work. In An Uncommon Whore, there is little to no conflict or angst. All of that conflict and angst is in When I Fall. Though most of the angst came from Griffin's insecurities and jealousy, which I never really understood.

Still, I enjoyed Helios and Griffin and am glad they are secure with one another by the end of When I Fall. I do wish I had not waited so long to read these stories, but better late than never, right?

I'm off to read the third book now, which features two different MC's.