Saturday, September 24, 2016

Out of Nowhere by Roan Parrish (audiobook)

Title:  Out of Nowhere
Author: Roan Parrish
My Rating: A
Narrator: Robert Nieman

Genre: Contemporary Romance (m/m)
Series: Middle of Somewhere #2
Main Characters: Colin and Rafe
Release Date: July 2016 (audiobook)
Publisher: Audible/Dreamspinner
Links to Purchase
Sexual Intensity: hot

Story Overview:
10 hrs 33 mins

The only thing in Colin Mulligan’s life that makes sense is taking cars apart and putting them back together. In the auto shop where he works with his father and brothers, he tries to get through the day without having a panic attack or flying into a rage. Drinking helps. So do running and lifting weights until he can hardly stand. But none of it can change the fact that he’s gay, a secret he has kept from everyone.

Rafael Guerrera has found ways to live with the past he’s ashamed of. He’s dedicated his life to social justice work and to helping youth who, like him, had very little growing up. He has no time for love. Hell, he barely has time for himself. Somehow, everything about miserable, self-destructive Colin cries out to him. But down that path lie the troubles Rafe has worked so hard to leave behind. And as their relationship intensifies, Rafe and Colin are forced to dredge up secrets that both men would prefer stay buried.
My Review:
Overall: 4.5
Performance: 5.0
Story: 4.5

Straight up, Colin's story is painful and HUGE KUDOS to Robert Nieman for his narration of it, because his voice for Colin was perfection. He managed to feed so much emotion and pain into his voice for Colin and that added so much to this already powerful story. 

Colin is one of those guys who's in the closet because he doesn't know how else to be. He's so far in the corner back there that he can't even admit to himself that he might be gay. That's something that's just not a possibility for him with him and his matter that he has a brother who is gay. (And it should be noted...that Colin HATES that Daniel is out and free to be himself. It makes him so angry that Daniel was brave enough to do that when Colin isn't.) Because Colin is flat out embarrassed of who he is. In fact, he pretty much hates himself and the person that he really is. 

I'll be honest...this is my one niggle with this book. Colin has deep, dark issues that really should be addressed by a trained professional. It's obvious that he has deep self-loathing as well as prolonged issues with depression. He is not in a good place and that comes out in so many aspects of his life. It's painful to read...and like I said earlier, the narrator does a brilliant job of acting that out in his voice for Colin. 

Rafe is amazing. Seriously, he's one of the best heroes I've ever read. I can't imagine how difficult it would be to deal with Colin's hang-ups, but Rafe handles him incredibly well.

There was so much to love about this story. Normally I read about one audiobook a month as I do my chores and my household stuff. I listened to this audiobook in a single day because I was so caught up in the drama of the story. I thought it was wonderfully done and I love the way that this book and the first book story lines overlap so the reader is able to see the same scene in completely different ways. It was a brilliant book and I highly, HIGHLY recommend it...especially the audiobook version of it. 

Friday, September 23, 2016

To Hate Adam Connor by Ella Maise

Title: To Hate Adam Connor
Author: Ella Maise
My Rating: A-

Genre: New Adult Romance 
Series: #2
Main Characters: Adam and Lucy
Release Date: June 2016
Publisher: -
Links to Purchase:
Sexual Intensity: erotic

Story Overview:
*Lucy's story is a complete standalone*

So you may ask, who is Adam Connor? He is the recently divorced, Academy Award-winning actor who just moved in next door with his kid. He also happens to be an exquisite male specimen and the most infuriating sly bastard I’ve ever come across.
Let’s be honest here, wouldn’t you wanna take a peek over the wall to catch a glimpse of him, hopefully when he is naked? Wouldn’t you melt away after watching him work out as his five-year-old kid cheered him on? Do I even have to mention those abs, the big bulge in his pants, or that arm porn? Oh, wait, you would never spy on him? Sure…

While I was being thoughtful by not breaking and entering and was actually considering going over to offer him a shoulder—or maybe a boob or two—to cry on (y’know, because of his divorce), instead he had me thrown in jail after a small incident. Jail, people! He was supposed to grant me countless orgasms as a thank you, not a jail cell.

After that day, I was mentally plotting ways to strangle him instead of jumping his bones to make sweet love. So what if my body did more than just shiver when he whispered dirty little things in my ear? I can’t be held responsible for that. And when was the last time he’d kissed anyone anyway? Who’d enjoy a kiss with a side of heart attack?

Even if he and his son were the best things since sliced bread—and I’m not saying he was—I couldn’t fall for him. No matter what promises he whispered on my skin, my curse wouldn’t let us be. I wasn’t a damsel in distress—I could save myself, thank you very much—but deep inside, I still hoped Adam Connor would be the hero of my story.

My Review:
This is one of those books that has a great character's voice leading it. In this story, that voice comes from Lucy. Lucy is a girl who knows what she wants and isn't afraid to state that...especially mentally. Whoa, this girl (and Adam, too) has a dirty, dirty mouth...and imagination...and fantasy life...and eventually, real life, too. 

She's best friends with Olive, who's involved with movie star Jason, from the first book. She's moved in with them temporarily, and they just happen to have the movie star, Adam Connor, move in next door. Adam is blond, and gorgeous, and cut...and just too much of a temptation for Lucy to resist, especially since there's only a small rock wall (requiring a ladder to scale) separating Olive and Jason's backyard from Adam's. His backyard is where he runs around half-naked, working out with his adorable five year old...and he's half-naked. Did you catch that? You can't blame poor Lucy for taking a peek or one hundred. 

And of course, this is a humorous book so you know it's going to backfire eventually. And it does...and then the sparks really start to fly. The chemistry between Adam and Lucy is sizzling. There's a huge build-up of anticipation between the two characters. They hate each other...oh, and seriously want to tear each other's clothes off. I don't think I've ever read a book where the anticipation was written so absolutely perfectly. I really enjoyed that aspect of it. 

In fact I really enjoyed most aspects of this book. There were tons of little details to the characters that just made them love them more. I didn't read the first book (although it's in my TBR now), but I adored Olive and Jason. Seeing their love through Lucy's eyes...there was so much intense emotion between them. I also loved the running joke about Lucy being their adoptive daughter. I also loved how Lucy called Aidan, little human. There were such amazingly sweet moments between Aidan and Lucy and Aidan and Olive. 

While I enjoy books with a bit of snark and sass, it's really easy for them to go over the top to too far. And for me, that was an issue with this book, too...although it wasn't to an extreme by any means of the imagination. I enjoyed almost all of this story. Toward the end though I needed Lucy to begin to take some things seriously...that character arc never happened for her and that was a disappointment. 

Also...someone please buy this author a baby name book. We had Aidan and Adam...and then Jason and Jameson., don't do that. Never. Ever. It's just screwing with your reader's ability to keep the characters straight. 

But overall, I did really enjoy the book and can't wait to find time to read the first in the series.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Just What I Needed by Lorelei James (audiobook)

Title: Just What I Needed
Author: Lorelei James
My Rating: A-
Narrators: Lidia Dornet and Roger Wayne

Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Need You #2
Main Characters: Trinity and Walker
Release Date: September 2016
Publisher: Tantor Audio
Links to Purchase:
Sexual Intensity: hot

Story Overview:
The second sexy novel in the Need You series, from the New York Times bestselling author of the Mastered Series and the Blacktop Cowboys® Series.
Trinity Carlson might be having the worst day ever. And that was before she started drinking in a dive bar, right across from her ex and his new girlfriend. So when she finally decides enough is enough, she grabs hold of a hot, blond stranger and gives him the kiss of his life.

Walker Lund never expected that a chance at love would hit him right on the mouth. Since the moment his brother decided to settle down, Walker has been dodging his family’s hopes that he’ll do the same.  He’s never been interested in following in anyone’s footsteps. But when he discovers his sexy assailant has given him a fake name and number he suddenly finds himself in the mood for a little hot pursuit...
My Review: 
Overall: 4.25
Performance: 4.5

Story: 4.25

Oooh, I really liked this story, although both the MC's have some interesting issues. 

Trinity is an artist. She also has an artist's soul. She's emotional, moody, and has had serious issues with depression and self-doubt. As the story unfolds, a lot of the reasons for her issues were revealed...a couple of them really took me by surprise because I didn't see the twists coming. 

Walker is the black sheep of his millionaire/billionaire family. He's the blue collar guy despite his wealth. He works construction and is generally discounted within his family and by others who normally bow down to the Lund name. Yeah, he has a few issues, too. Despite the fact this generation is all very close, including Walker, he still feels like an outsider who's taken for granted. Yep...issues. 

For both these characters, they don't seem to quite fit within their world. Even in the artist world, Trinity is different. She uses lots of different mediums and doesn't restrict her artistic endeavors. She creates huge custom mixed-media pieces, small paintings that she sells for a few dollars, and will then work painting sets at the local theater. Within the constricts of the story, their situations both come to a head adding extra stress onto their relationship which isn't exactly smooth sailing to begin with. But despite that, I really loved the two of them together. Neither one is divulging all their secrets which causes issues as they move through their relationship, but I did really like them. 

The story was romantic and fun. I loved every moment of listening to it. The narrators were both fantastic. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to it. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Bad Judgment by Sidney Bell

Title: Bad Judgment
Author: Sidney Bell
My Rating: A+

Genre: Romantic Suspense (m/m)
Series: -
Main Characters: Embry and Brogan
Release Date: September 2016
Publisher: Carina
Links to Purchase:
Sexual Intensity: hot

Story Overview:
Embry Ford was a quiet, ordinary guy—until tragedy ripped his life apart. Now he's living under the radar, desperate to hide his identity and determined to learn the truth behind what happened. Even if that means working for—and bedding—a man he loathes.

As a bodyguard to a shadowy arms dealer, Brogan Smith knows distractions can kill as easily as a bullet. But when he sets his eyes on his client's sexy assistant, he can't get him out of his mind. Even more unnerving: the closer he gets to Embry, the more Brogan starts to suspect he might be protecting the wrong man.

Embry was sure nothing but vengeance would satisfy him—until Brogan offers him something far more tempting. Now Embry must choose: punish the people who nearly destroyed him or fight for a future with the man who has become his entire world.

My Review:
Hands-down, this is one of the best books I've read this year. The book is long. At 120,000 words, it's longer than almost every romance out there, but even with that, I was so not ready for the story to end. It was so good. 

This is one of those books that's broken up into large sections from the individual POV's. As such, a whole lot of the book goes by before it's in Embry's POV, and there's so much unknown about what's going on with him. OMG, not knowing and trying to guess made it such a riveting read. But there's no denying that there's so much going on with him below the surface. When the reader first meets him, he's pure ice. He shows no emotion, never cracks. But Brogan is one of those guys. He's extremely attracted to Embry and he slowly begins to break Embry's harsh facade. The thing is...Embry is NOT available. OMG, is he not available. It seems like there is no way that these two even have a semblance of a chance.

There is so much at risk here. These two men are playing in a world where people go missing, never to be heard from again. One false move and one or both of them could be forfeiting their lives. It's a nail-biting read, but I loved it so, so much for just that reason. 

Brogan is the one making all the bad judgments here that the book is named for. He's hired to do a job and Embry is a distraction that he should not be indulging in. But Brogan talks about the fact that this is the first time that he sees someone he wants that's totally worth the risk. Embry is worth that risk. 

Then Embry's story comes out and OMG, I had inklings of what his story might be, but wow...when it came out my heart just shattered. There are so many emotions to this entire story and to see just how much Embry is repressing is heartbreaking. Gah...I just want to hug him and take him to a safe place. But I love that Brogan feels exactly the same way. They are in an impossible situation that's got to be awful for both of them, but Brogan's reactions just melted my heart. I loved both of these guys so, so much. 

The story...all of it...was just fantastic. I cannot express just how much I loved all of it. I need to check to be sure, but I don't think I've ever read this author before, but regardless, she is now on my auto-buy list. Now if Carina would just bring this one out in print for my keeper shelf, I would be a happy girl. I love so many of Carina's titles, it kills me...and makes me sad...that most of them never come out in print. 

I received a complimentary copy of this book in return for an honest review.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Overexposed by Megan Erickson

Title: Overexposed
Author: Megan Erickson
My Rating: A

Genre: New Adult Romance (m/m)
Series: In Focus #4
Main Characters: Levi and Thad
Release Date: September 2016
Publisher: Intermix
Links to Purchase:
Sexual Intensity: hot

Story Overview:
Love runs wild on the Appalachian Trail in the latest from the author of Out of Frame and Focus on Me...
Levi Grainger needs a break. As a reality show star, he’s had enough of the spotlight and being edited into a walking stereotype. When he returns home after the last season of Trip League, he expects to spend time with his family, only to learn his sister is coming back from her deployment in a flag-draped casket. Devastated, Levi decides the best way to grieve will be to go off grid and hike the Appalachian Trail—a trip he'd planned to do with his sister.
His solitary existence on the trail is interrupted when he meets Thad, a quiet man with a hard body and intense eyes. Their connection is stronger than anything Levi has ever experienced. But when Levi discovers the truth about what Thad is hiking to escape, their future together looks uncertain, and uncertainty is the last thing Levi needs...

My Review:
OMG, this series has been one of my all-time favorites, but I loved that this one is set on the AT....and with a military still my heart. It's like Megan Erickson wrote this one just for me. 

Levi was one of the side characters in the last book in the series. In this book, he's going out to hike the Appalachian Trail, something he'd planned to do with his sister when she got back from her deployment. She never came home, so now he's doing it as a tribute to her and to deal with some of his profound grief over losing her. Levi is not someone who would normally be the one hiking the AT. He's not a loner, or an outdoor adventurer. In fact I loved the bit about his hair product at the beginning of the story. 

On the flipside of that is Thad. Levi runs into Thad in the middle of the night his first week of hiking. Thad barely talks at all. In fact when it comes to everyone else, he actively blocks attempts to draw him into conversation. But it's different with Levi. He wants Levi to talk and latches onto him while they're hiking.

This is an interesting story just in that Thad is so closed-mouth about anything about himself. Very, very slowly the layers are pulled back about how he ended up on the trail, but when the full story came out, I did not see that coming. I love it when an author can surprise me like that. 

The entire story was just plain good reading. I loved the aspects about the trail details that made it into the book. I loved the slow build of the romance. And I loved how the events unfolded. Everything about this book worked for me and I highly, highly recommend it. I've loved the entire series, and every single book works as a stand-alone. If you're only going to read one or two from the series, read this one or the first...they're both my favorites. 

Monday, September 19, 2016

Gambling on Love by Jane Davitt

Title: Gambling on Love
Author: Jane Davitt
My Rating: B

Genre: Contemporary Romance (m/m)
Series: Hard to Play #1
Main Characters: Gary and Abe
Release Date: September 2016
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Links to Purchase:
Sexual Intensity: hot

Story Overview:
When Gary and Abe came out to each other in their final year of high school, a longstanding friendship turned into a new love. Keeping their feelings a secret was easy until a coach caught them together in the locker room, and their fragile relationship shattered around them. Panicked, angry, and rejected by his mother, Gary fled town, breaking Abe’s eighteen-year-old heart.

Eleven years later Gary returns just as unexpectedly, crashing into Abe's truck during a blizzard. He’s as arrogant and stubborn as ever—and just as irresistible. Time has changed them both in ways they never imagined, but the heat that flares between them is enough to thaw any ice.

While Abe discovers what Gary did to survive in the city, Gary realizes that Abe has grown into a man with needs to match his own, and they fall in love all over again. But Gary’s determination to carry out one final order from the rich, older man he lived with—and obeyed—for years means that a dead man's plans might split them apart again . . . this time for keeps.

My Review:
This book starts when these two guys were in high school. From the age of 9, they were best friends. Gary had come out, but Abe never even hinted that he might be gay too...until their senior year. After that they had 8 months together, although they kept their relationship in the closet. But at that age, they weren't the smartest in the world and they got caught in the locker room at school. For Gary, his mom was very religious, so he came out to her and left, but Abe refused to go with him. Something that devastated him. 

Then the book jumps ahead 11 years when Gary is driving across the country to follow his dead boyfriend's last wish. But part of that last wish was to take his time crossing the country, so Gary wandered closely to home in Montana, where he just happens to get caught in a snowstorm and runs into Abe...literally. 

I enjoy books where the MC's get snowed in, so in that regard, this book really worked for me. I also love stories that are a second chance at love. It quickly becomes obvious that despite the last 11 years, neither of these guys ever got over what happened 11 years ago. Those feelings didn't go away...either the love or the hurt and sense of abandonment that both men felt. My only real complaint about the book though is when the whole story of what all happened 11 years ago. That should have been devastating to Gary, but I feel like the emotion of that scene didn't quite make it onto the page enough to make it as emotional as it could have been. 

Although I really liked the story as a whole there were moments throughout the story where I just didn't understand why the MC's reacted as drastically as they did. Some of the reactions felt a little more dramatic and feminine based rather than how guys would really react. But who can really say when emotions are running this high and no one is settled in how they fit together? For me it was a minor blip that took me out of the story a few times, but it truly didn't affect my enjoyment of the story. 

Overall, I really enjoyed this one. 

I received a complimentary copy of this book in return for an honest review.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

The Talented Mr. Rivers by HelenKay Dimon

Title: The Talented Mr. Rivers
Author: HelenKay Dimon
My Rating: B+

Genre: Romantic Suspense (m/m)
Series: Tough Love #2
Main Characters: Will and Hunter
Release Date: September 2016
Publisher: Loveswept
Links to Purchase:
Sexual Intensity: hot

Story Overview:
HelenKay Dimon’s suspenseful, provocative series of double agents and dark desire continues with a novel featuring two men bound by a dangerous job—and by the cravings they feel for each other.

As the son of an international crime lord, Will Rivers only inherited one thing after his father died: trouble. The Pentasus organization deals in kidnapping and murder, and Will wants no part of the power grab that’s tearing leadership apart. But the only way he’ll be able to escape is with some help from his former bodyguard, Hunter Cain, whose sculpted body and brooding looks keep Will awake at night. Somehow, Hunter has resisted the tension between them . . . until, suddenly, he gives in.

As a German intelligence officer working deep undercover, Hunter has a very good reason to keep Will in the dark about his identity and his intentions. Although the sex is hot, Hunter’s true feelings are a growing liability. Now the only way to save Will from his old life is to push him deeper into danger. But when two strong men are each determined to protect the other, the heat isn’t just combustible—it’s a firestorm.
My Review:
Hunter and Will...hmm, yes, I did love them. Seriously, how can you not love a star crossed lovers when one is an undercover government agent and the other is part of the organization he's trying to take down. There's a ton of angst and no one knows who they can trust which makes for some great suspenseful reading. 

I love Hunter and Will. From the first moment they are on the page, it's so obvious how much emotion and unquenched sexual lust there is between them. Will's entire life is in upheaval though and everyone is trying to kill he's hard pressed to trust anyone, which is a smart way to be. Even though they both know this is the worst timing in the world, neither can resist the pull to the other. Chemistry...this book has it on almost every page....and that makes it such a great read. 

While I loved the sparks between Hunter and Will, I also loved the three other guys who played into this story. Of course, Fisher and Zach from the first book were amazing, but hands-down my favorite was Seth. I'm really, really hoping he'll get his own book, too. 

This is a romantic suspense and it's hard to predict how it's all going to turn out despite knowing exactly who all the players are and who to watch out for. 

Overall, I just really enjoyed reading this book and am definitely looking forward to more.

I received a complimentary copy of this book in return for an honest review.