Write On Review-A-Thon (September 22-24, 2017)

This ‘event’, my dear readers couldn’t have come at a better time. I know some of you may have experienced a reading slump or two. I’m currently experiencing a review slump. So, when Kelly (Reading the Paranormal) posted in the #BoutOfBooks-ers Facebook group about the Write on Review-a-thon, how could I refuse. After all, I obviously need all the help I can get. 😉

A little about the Review-a-thon:

This monthly review-a-thon is a chance to get caught up on outstanding reviews. Bring your to-be-reviewed list, block out some time, write reviews. It’s that simple. This month’s review-a-thon will run from Friday, September 22nd to Sunday, September 24th.

You can see Kelly’s post at Reading the Paranormal

So what will I be reviewing? I’m kinda embarrassed to admit how far behind I actually am, but here it goes:

I might get to at least one or two of these before the actual Review-A-Thon, but I’m not making any promises. If so, I’ll take them off before the 22nd. The sad part is that this list doesn’t include the 3 books that I’m currently reading which I may or not finish before the Review-A-Thon starts. Stay tuned!

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Bound by Thorns (Dragon Soul #3) by Sean Michael

Park ranger Luke Beteferoce likes the quiet of the forest—a place he can be alone. The dragon shifter keeps himself busy maintaining his territory in the park…that is, until he meets ex-soldier Greyson Paulson. Suddenly, Luke finds himself thinking of all sorts of scenarios that involve Greyson. And with the kind of tension he’s feeling, hot, sweaty, nonkinky sex is only the beginning. 
While he’s perfectly fine being left alone, Greyson finds he enjoys the company of the bossy yet tender park ranger. Soon, trying to fight the heat between them is a losing battle: he’s ready to give in to the irresistible lust he feels for Luke. Greyson may not be ready to completely submit, but he still can’t stop himself from following every command Luke whispers his way. 
Luke hasn’t felt this kind of connection and satisfaction with anyone ever before, leading him to discover Greyson’s marked as his mate. But with Greyson battling his own limitations and lack of experience, it’s going to take Luke more than hours-long hot sex to convince Greyson to stay and accept his destiny. 

I’ve gotta admit, I think that Grey and Luke may be my favorite couple in this series so far.

If you’ve been following my reviews of Dragon Soul, you know that I’ve had a couple of issues with how things developed between the brothers and their soul mates. There was still more sex than story in Bound by Thorns (which isn’t really an issue, just worth mentioning) but I think what I liked most about their story was that Luke was totally up front with Grey about who and what he was. His revelation came a lot earlier than his brothers and even better, Grey accepted it a lot better than the other soul mates.

I’m also a push over for broken characters and Grey was broken enough that Luke felt the need to save him. Their relationship grew from there, even though it was inevitable. Bound by Thorns gave me hope for the rest of the series. Two brothers left to go and I’m kind of looking forward to meeting them. Even though at least one of them is destined to be a heart breaker. 

Can’t Hardly Breathe (The Original Heartbreakers #4) by Gena Showalter

Bullied in high school, Dorothea Mathis’s past is full of memories she’d rather forget. But there’s one she can’t seem to shake—her long-standing crush on former army ranger Daniel Porter. Now that the sexy bad boy has started using her inn as his personal playground, she should kick him out…but his every heated glance makes her want to join him instead.
Daniel returned to Strawberry Valley, Oklahoma, to care for his ailing father and burn off a little steam with no strings attached. Though he craves curvy Dorothea night and day, he’s as marred by his past as she is by hers. The more he desires her, the more he fears losing her.
But every sizzling encounter leaves him desperate for more, and soon Daniel must make a choice: take a chance on love or walk away forever.

Confession time… (again.) I’ve skipped around a bit with this series. Translation: I read the opening novella (The One You Want) but evidently I’ve skipped the next three books in the series until I finally managed to pick up Can’t Hardly Breathe. The good news is that although I want to catch up with the first four couples in The Original Heartbreakers series, I wasn’t lost at all throughout Daniel and Dorothea’s story.

Dorothea and Daniel had a history. A history that they each remembered just a slight bit differently. She had a crush on Daniel that she never really got over, but she had no idea that Daniel had feelings for her too. High school can be a battle ground and Daniel and Dorothea were definitely on opposing sides.

I loved Dorothea’s spunk, but she didn’t have it easy. Her mom was flighty, her sister was a brat and her ex was a jerk. She’d suffered loss and came out fighting, but she still longed for a love that would last. If she couldn’t have that, she’d settle for a good time and if she kept her heart out of the equation, Daniel was just the man to provide it. Because Daniel didn’t jump at the chance, Dorothea assumed he didn’t want her. That was just the beginning of the crazy assumptions that worked to keep these two apart.

Honestly, I could have done with a little less drama, but this story worked anyway. A couple of the supporting characters from past books also made me want to go back and pick up the rest of The Original Heartbreakers series and there’s even more to come. Ryanne and Jude are next and given the sparks already lighting between these two, I might have to pick Can’t Let Go up before I start playing catch up. 😉 

The Druid Next Door (Fae Out of Water #2) by E.J. Russell

Professor Bryce MacLeod has devoted his entire life to environmentalism. But how effective can he be in saving the planet when he can’t even get his surly neighbor to separate his recycling?
Former Queen’s Enforcer Mal Kendrick doesn’t think his life could get any worse: he’s been exiled from Faerie with a cursed and useless right hand. When he’s not dodging random fae assassins in the Outer World, he’s going toe-to-toe with his tree-hugging neighbor. And when he discovers that the tree-hugger is really a druid, he’s certain the gods have it in for him—after all, there’s always a catch with druids. Then he’s magically shackled to the man and expected to instruct him in Supernatural 101.
All right, now things couldn’t possibly get worse.
Until a mysterious stranger offers a drunken Mal the chance to gain back all he’s lost—for a price. After Mal accepts, he discovers the real catch: an ancient secret that will change his and Bryce’s life forever.
Ah, what the hells. Odds are they won’t survive the week anyway.

The relationship between Mal and Bryce most definitely did not begin with love at first sight. Mal’s lack of trust, respect, etc., of druid’s didn’t improve when he became magically attached to Bryce. The feeling was pretty much mutual since Bryce had absolutely no knowledge of the supernatural world he was suddenly thrust in head first with an uncooperative tutor. Then the real fun began. 😉

I have to admit, I didn’t like The Druid Next Door near as much as I liked the first book in the Fae Out of Water series, Cutie and the Beast. However, I did end up liking Mal more in The Druid Next Door than when readers were first introduced to him as Alun’s playboy brother, eventually.

When the book opened, Mal was pretty much a shell of the characters that readers first met. When he wasn’t feeling sorry for himself, he was trying desperately to figure out how to reverse the curse that had been placed on him. He thought he knew exactly what he had to do until a mysterious stranger gave him another option. It’s true that nothing is quite what it seems and I honestly didn’t see any of what that drunken alliance led to. In the mean time, Bryce and Mal started seeing things in each other that they didn’t expect either.

I ended up really liking The Druid Next Door. It wasn’t quite as light and ‘cute’ as Cutie and the Beast, but there was nothing light or cute about Mal or Bryce. There were a couple of fun moments though and David did make quite a few appearances, which was fun.

At the time I wrote this review, I’d already read the next book in the series, Bad Boy’s Bard. You’ll have to wait a little while to see if Gareth won me over. Honestly, after the first two books I thought that E.J. Russell probably had her work cut out for her. Stay tuned. 😉 

Illegal Contact (The Barons #1) by Santino Hassell

New York Barons tight end Gavin Brawley is suspended from the team and on house arrest after a video of him brawling goes viral. Gavin already has a reputation as a jerk with a temper on and off the field—which doesn’t help him once he finds himself on the wrong side of the law. And while he’s been successful professionally, he’s never been lucky when it comes to love.
Noah Monroe is a recent college grad looking for a job—any job—to pay off his mounting student debt. Working as Gavin’s personal assistant/babysitter seems like easy money. But Noah isn’t prepared for the electrifying tension between him and the football player. He’s not sure if he’d rather argue with Gavin or tackle him to the floor. But both men know the score, and neither is sure what will happen once Gavin’s timeout is over…

Another new author to me and another almost missed read. Thank goodness I have fellow bloggers/readers who pass along amazing read recommendations. I’m SO glad I picked this one up. 😉

On the surface, Gavin was the epitome of a true bad boy… but nothing is exactly as it seems. Noah knew nothing about football and had no idea who Gavin even was, which made him perfect. Turns out he was perfect in more ways than one.

I loved the tension between Gavin and Noah. It wasn’t all romantic tension either. Gavin was a grumpy, overbearing tyrant that was impossible to work for, but Noah had been walked over and hung out to dry by his last boss and he wasn’t about to let that happen again. He was there to do his job and ignore his attraction to Gavin.

There was a lot more to the relationship between Gavin and Noah than the slow burn romance that simmered between the two of them. They were good for each other, but the end was inevitable. There relationship had a very strict timeline and it was destined to end once Gavin was free. Santino Hassell kept readers on the edge wondering how these two could possibly get past what they both knew was coming. The outcome paved the way for the rest of the series and I honestly can’t wait to see what’s in store for the rest of The Barons.

Controlled Burn by Erin McLellan

At eighteen, Joel Smith’s life fell to pieces. His boyfriend died in a car crash while reading a sext from him, the local newspaper outed them both in the aftermath, and his parents got a divorce. Joel did everything possible to outrun his past: he moved to Oklahoma for college, legally changed his name, and started over.
Since then, he hasn’t let anyone get close—not his classmates, not his roommate, and definitely not his hookups. The strategy has served him well for over three years. Why would he change it now?
But Joel doesn’t plan on the articles about his boyfriend’s death being used as a case study in one of his classes. And he doesn’t plan on Paulie McPherson, who is sweet and giving and fun. In Paulie, he finds a home for the first time in years.
But love isn’t simple, and lies have a tendency to get in the way. Joel must figure out if he’ll allow his grief to rule him, or if his connection with Paulie is worth letting all of his walls come tumbling down.

I almost missed this on. Thank goodness I pay attention to my favorite bloggers/readers because otherwise I would have missed an amazing read. It’s also my first Erin McLellan read, which isn’t surprising, since it’s her first book – but the fact that Controlled Burn is her first book is surprising because it was just that good. I’m rambling aren’t I?

The odds of Joel finding himself in a class where his worst memory was used as a case study in a class were crazy, yet that’s where he was. The only thing that made things easier was Paulie, but he pushed his feelings about him away, because that was safer. Safe is easy and Paulie didn’t accept easy.

This book had so many layers. Joel was trying hard to hide from the past. What he went through was traumatic and the aftermath was heartbreaking. He literally had no support so hiding, burying his feelings was second nature. Paulie didn’t have it easy either, but he didn’t let his past dictate his future. He made Joel want to come out of hiding, but he still kept his past to himself… until he couldn’t anymore.

I have a real soft spot for characters who don’t get the love and support from their parents that they deserve – because honestly – that’s kind of a basic requirement for a parent. Joel’s parents were in serious denial about everything, especially his dad. And Paulie’s parents? I don’t even know where to start with them. I’m just thankful that he and his sister had his aunt.

And then there’s Joel’s roommate, Travis. There’s no indication that this is a series, but I’m seriously hoping that Travis eventually gets his own story. Regardless, I’ll be watching for more from this author.

Permanent Ink (Art & Soul #1) by Avon Gale & Piper Vaughn

At twenty-three, Poe Montgomery is going nowhere. He still lives in his father’s basement and spends most of his time tagging with his friends. When an arrest lands him in debt, Poe accepts the front desk job at Permanent Ink, the tattoo shop owned by his father’s best friend, Jericho McAslan. Jericho is nearly twice Poe’s age, but with his ink and prematurely graying hair, he quickly takes the starring role in Poe’s hottest fantasies.
Jericho is known for his ability to transform poorly designed tattoos into works of art, but he was once as aimless and misdirected as Poe. Wanting to pay it forward the way someone once did for him, Jericho makes Poe his apprentice and is determined to keep things strictly professional. Easier said than done when Poe makes his interest—and his daddy kink—abundantly clear.
Jericho can’t resist Poe or their intense chemistry for long. But between the age gap, tension with Poe’s father, and Poe’s best friend calling him a sellout, they’ll need to ensure they’re both on the same page before they can rewrite their rocky start into something permanent.

This one had its ups and downs for me, but in the end I was pleasantly surprised….

Okay, I discovered something as I read Permanent Ink. I’m not a fan of ‘Daddy’ kink. It may not have been so weird if not for the fact that Jericho’s best friend was Poe’s father, but that obviously upped the weird factor for me. Other than that, I really did like Jericho and Poe’s story and given the fact that Jericho is the founder and owner of the tattoo parlor, this was a perfect place to start the Art & Soul series.

As obvious as it is, I can’t not say something about the Poe/Raven references in Permanent Ink. It was a creative bonus that kind of drew me in (I may or may not have mentioned before that I have a thing for all things Poe 😉 )

There were a lot of other relationships in Permanent Ink besides the one that developed between Jericho and Poe. Some of them were more complicated than others and not all of them were healthy. I loved both Poe and Jericho’s relationship with Poe’s dad. I also liked the relationship between Jericho and his other good friend Callum. Blue and Poe? Not so much.

The jury’s still out on whether or not I continue the Art & Soul series. I’m a huge fan of authors who turn my opinion around about characters that I didn’t like. This writing duo has their work cut out for them if the next couple turns out to be Callum and Blue. *sigh*

 

 

Foxglove Copse Virtual Book Tour

About Foxglove Copse

After a massive anxiety attack, Sam Atkins left his high-powered job in the City and committed himself to life on the road in a small van. Six months in, he’s running out of savings and coming to the conclusion that he might have to go home to his emotionally abusive family.
Needing time to think, he takes a walk through a copse by the Cornish roadside, only to stumble upon the body of a ritualistically killed sheep. As he’s trying to work out what the symbols around the animal mean, the sheep’s owner, Jennifer, and her nephew, Ruan Gwynn, come upon him.
Ruan is a kind-hearted young man with a large supportive clan, and since he and Sam feel almost instant attraction, he doesn’t want to believe Sam is a sheep-killing cultist. In fact, the moment he lays eyes on Sam’s miserable solitary life, he wants to rescue the man. But as the killings escalate, he and Sam need to stop whoever is actually to blame before they can concentrate on saving each other.

Now available from Riptide Publishing. http://www.riptidepublishing.com/titles/foxglove-copse

About the Porthkennack Universe

Welcome to Porthkennack, a charming Cornish seaside town with a long and sometimes sinister history. Legend says King Arthur’s Black Knight built the fort on the headland here, and it’s a certainty that the town was founded on the proceeds of smuggling, piracy on the high seas, and the deliberate wrecking of cargo ships on the rocky shore. Nowadays it draws in the tourists with sunshine and surfing, but locals know that the ghosts of its Gothic past are never far below the surface.
This collaborative story world is brought to you by five award-winning, best-selling British LGBTQ romance authors: Alex Beecroft, Joanna Chambers, Charlie Cochrane, Garrett Leigh, and JL Merrow. Follow Porthkennack and its inhabitants through the centuries and through the full rainbow spectrum with historical and contemporary stand-alone titles.

Check out Porthkennack! http://www.riptidepublishing.com/titles/universe/porthkennack

About Alex Beecroft

Alex Beecroft is an English author best known for historical fiction, notably Age of Sail, featuring gay characters and romantic storylines. Her novels and shorter works include paranormal, fantasy, and contemporary fiction.

Beecroft won Linden Bay Romance’s (now Samhain Publishing) Starlight Writing Competition in 2007 with her first novel, Captain’s Surrender, making it her first published book. On the subject of writing gay romance, Beecroft has appeared in the Charleston City Paper, LA Weekly, the New Haven Advocate, the Baltimore City Paper, and The Other Paper. She is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association of the UK and an occasional reviewer for the blog Speak Its Name, which highlights historical gay fiction.

Alex was born in Northern Ireland during the Troubles and grew up in the wild countryside of the English Peak District. She lives with her husband and two children in a little village near Cambridge and tries to avoid being mistaken for a tourist.

Alex is only intermittently present in the real world. She has led a Saxon shield wall into battle, toiled as a Georgian kitchen maid, and recently taken up an 800-year-old form of English folk dance, but she still hasn’t learned to operate a mobile phone.

She is represented by Louise Fury of the L. Perkins Literary Agency.

Connect with Alex:

Giveaway

To celebrate the release of Foxglove Copse, one lucky winner will receive a $10 Amazon gift card and an ebook of their choice from Alex’s backlist! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on September 9, 2017. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info! 

Making It (Ringside Romance #3) by Christine d’Abo

Devan knows exactly what he wants from life: a good career, a husband who loves him, and a child to call his own. He’s working at the perfect job, and has found the man of his dreams in Eli. That only leaves one box left to tick. When his friend offers to be a surrogate mother for Devan and Eli, he’s convinced all his dreams have come true.
Eli has been fighting his entire life. Fighting to keep his sick mother safe, fighting his frustration, and fighting daily as an up-and-coming MMA star. The one thing he can’t fight is the feeling that he’s made a terrible mistake agreeing to be a father with Devan. On the worst night of their lives, Eli knows Devan is better off without him, and leaves.
When Eli returns three years later he comes face-to-face with Devan and a son who might be his. Devan has moved on with his life, but seeing Eli once again reignites forgotten passion. Yet if Eli wants to make it work with Devan, he must decide if he’s ready for the biggest fight of his life.

The beginning of Making It was heartbreaking and it didn’t get much better from there. This is one of those books where I was exceedingly glad that readers got both POVs. Otherwise Eli wouldn’t have stood a chance, I would have totally sided with Devan after Eli broke his heart and his trust. Because Christine D’Abo let us into the turmoil surrounding Eli’s heart and mind, my heart was breaking for both of these men.

There was a lot to love about Making It. I loved Devan’s relationship with his son. I loved the growing relationship between Eli and the baby that may or may not be his. I loved the cautiousness from Devan that was totally warranted and believable in their situation. He didn’t want to risk his heart or his son’s, which made me love him even more. I loved Eli’s determination to make things right because he knew how bad he had hurt Devan, even though neither one of them had all the facts. The only thing that frustrated me was what it took to knock some sense into Devan… What I really, really loved was how Eli’s friends didn’t cut him any slack for his actions, both past and present.

I think what I love most about the Ringside Romance series is the sense of family. These guys have had each others’ backs for a lifetime and the new men in their lives just added to the circle. I can’t wait to see what happens next. I’m not sure why I thought that Making It was the last book in this series, but finding out that Losing It is coming next was a pleasant surprise. 😉

 

Heat Wave (Seasons of Love #3) by Elyse Springer

Sara Walker’s life is going nowhere fast: she has a job she enjoys but doesn’t love, friends who are too busy to hang out with her, and no boyfriend in sight. Then a phone call on a lonely Friday night changes everything, and suddenly she’s spending her weekends with Laura. Newly single and openly bisexual, Laura makes Sara think decidedly not-straight thoughts.
Laura Murphy, with her red hair, freckles, and killer curves, is any guy’s wet dream. But Laura’s done with guys for now, and it’s Sara who can’t stop dreaming about her. When Sara finally gives in to the curiosity, Laura blows her mind and pushes her further than she’s ever gone before.
But Laura makes it very clear that this is only a rebound fling, and she’s still planning to move to California. She’s more than happy to tie Sara up, but she’s not ready to be tied down. If Sara wants to keep her, she’s going to have to work hard to convince Laura that New York is worth staying for . . . and so is she.

So… most of you know that F/F romances aren’t my go-to genre. But, if you’ve been following closely, you also know that I’m committed to the Seasons of Love series and didn’t want to take a chance on missing anything that happens between Whiteout and Changing Colors. 😉 I also have a confession. I’ve kinda had a love/hate relationship with Sara since the beginning of the Seasons of Love series. Honestly, it wasn’t her fault. She was just looking out for her best friend and eventually she did come around. It still took her a little bit of time to win me over.

From the beginning Sara and Laura were on the same page… until they weren’t. Sara wasn’t a lesbian or even bi, she was just curious. Laura wasn’t looking for anything but a rebound, especially since she wasn’t planning on sticking around. Sara began to see more though. More to Laura and more to the non-relationship that was developing between them.

There were a couple of fun little twists in Heat Wave and a couple of cameos from previous characters. I’m really loving this series and the more layers that are added, the more fun it becomes. This was a nice little segues to Changing Colors, the next and final book in the Seasons of Love series. I’ve gotta admit, I’ve been looking forward to Tony’s book since the series started. Some of the events in Heat Wave only reinforced my need to see him find his HEA.