Hard Truths by Alex Whitehall

He can’t have the family he wants, but he may get the love he deserves….
Isaac didn’t expect to find love at his family’s Christmas dinner, but that was before he met his sister’s new fake boyfriend. Tall, muscular, and tattooed, Logan is what Isaac would love in a partner — and also everything his parents would hate in one. Not that they know Isaac’s gay.
That doesn’t stop him from dating Logan — unbeknownst to his parents, and with his sister’s approval after she fake dumps him. The pair dive into a whirlwind romance of motorcycle rides, cheesy puns, and hot sex. They meet each other’s friends and fill their time with happiness and laughter. It’s all perfect.
Until Isaac suggests they move in together, and Logan asks Isaac to come out to his parents. Isaac wants to, but he’s scared; he doesn’t want to lose his family. Unfortunately, he can’t see that his real family has been right beside him all along.

Gotta give Alex Whitehall credit for coming up with a unique way for a couple to meet. It honestly made me like Isaac’s sister from the start. That first meeting also made it clear that I would never be a fan of his parents…

Essentially, Isaac lived two lives. One where he was comfortable in his own skin and was loved, respected and accepted by his friends. The other where he hid who he really was to be accepted by his family. The paths of those two lives never crossed and he was perfectly okay with that… until he risked losing Logan.

Logan didn’t understand how Isaac could keep such an important part of his life away from his family. Unless Logan wasn’t as important to Isaac as he thought he was. He would give anything to share his love for Isaac with the family he had lost. So he pushed…

Both Isaac and Logan made mistakes in Hard Truths. I got really aggravated with both of them more than once. Isaac couldn’t see what was right in front of him and Logan pushed for something when he had no idea how much he was really asking… or risking.

This is the story of not just the love between two men, but it’s also a story that proves that love is love and family isn’t always defined by blood. ❤

 

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High Time (Solomon Mysteries #3) by Keelan Ellis

When skeletal remains turn up in Baltimore’s Leakin Park, Detective Paul Solomon is pessimistic about their chances of solving the case. But a clue discovered near the bones soon leaves his partner, Tim Cullen, in little doubt as to their identity. As the case leads him close to home, Tim struggles to find a balance between professional responsibility and family, testing Paul’s patience and loyalty in the process.
In his personal life, Paul wrestles with his own increasingly precarious balancing act. His friendship with David Haygood threatens his new relationship with Owen, and he finds himself questioning not only his own judgment but his motivations as well. When Paul makes a choice that may irreparably damage his budding romance, the only person he can think to turn to is his ex-lover and friend Andy.
As Paul and Tim sift through details of the short life of a young woman who died over a quarter of a century ago, what eventually emerges from the web of connections and coincidence is a story that’s both shocking and sadly familiar to the seasoned detectives.

I really liked Good Boys, so I wasn’t surprised that I enjoyed High Time just as much. I mentioned in my review of the first book in the Solomon Mysteries series that one of the things that pulled me in was the fact that I was familiar with the area that the book took place. Baltimore isn’t far from where I grew up. Things got even more interesting for me in High Time when Paul and Tim end up close to where I currently live. That’s not the only reason I like this series though, just an added bonus. 😉

Paul’s a great detective, but his personal life is a mess. His best friend is dating his partner, he’s friends with someone who is admittedly attracted to him, he’s still friends with his ex and he has no idea how to be in a relationship – even though he really cares about Owen. Things get really complicated when the current case he’s working on hits way too close to those near and dear to Tim.

For the record, I got as aggravated with Paul in High Time as Owen did – and he’s not the only one who called him out on his actions. Speaking of which, the supporting characters pretty much make this series for me. The mystery wasn’t bad either 😉

Then, there was the location. Since I’m familiar with the area that Tim and Paul traveled to, I picked up on a couple of things that a lot of readers won’t. Still, the accuracy was pretty good and recognizing landmarks was kinda fun. I also learned some things about some sneaky ways that officials collect info…

I’m pretty sure that there’s more to come and I can’t wait to see what’s next for the Solomon Mysteries.

Sentinel (Until You #2) by Karrie Roman

Never allowing anyone too close, Ethan Stone has lived a solitary life since he was disowned by his family when he discovered their darkest secret. He spends his days as a quiet sentinel, protecting others to make up for the ones he didn’t. Love, friendship, and family have no place in his world.
Ben Cronin is a warrior, haunted by a past he excelled at, which almost robbed him of his humanity. He became a professional bodyguard to save lives rather than take them. And he has loved his stoic colleague, Ethan Stone, from the day they met.
When Ethan’s sister suddenly comes back into his life in desperate need of his help, Ethan doesn’t hesitate to do whatever he needs to do. To his surprise, Ben—the man who makes him want things he shouldn’t—is right there beside him, risking everything to help him and finally coaxing Ethan’s feelings back to life.
A desperate race to find his missing nieces leads Ethan to a place he never thought he’d be and takes Ben exactly where he wanted to be—in a life filled with love and desire. But how long can they keep it when evil stalks their every step?

Confession time… I’ve done it again. I picked up the second book in a series before reading the first. Even though I didn’t feel lost at all while reading Sentinel, I still want to go back and read Shipped, the first book in the Until You series. Not just because I want to get to know Ryan and Lucas better, but because I want to see where it all began, especially for Ethan and Ben.

There was so much emotion in this story. My heart literally broke for Ethan. He had lost so much and even though he thought he was at peace with that – he had no idea how much more he had left to lose.

Then there was Ben… he had been in love with Ethan almost since the first time they met. There was nothing he wouldn’t do for him, even slip back into the person he’s tried so hard to leave in his past.

I could go on and on, but I’d end up rambling… and no one wants that. Just know that between the characters, the danger, the heat between Ethan and Ben, and the connection between the characters, Sentinel was hard to put down. Even though I haven’t read Shipped – which I intend to fix really soon – I already know that Until You is going to be a series that I can’t wait to continue.

The Golden City (The Brighton Duology #2) by Liz Long

Down with the Blood King.
Reina Torres and Princess Helena just barely managed to escape the city of Brighton, thanks to the rebels. They now find themselves at the heart of the revolution, planning missions and infiltrating Brighton’s network. An enraged King Magnus doesn’t just want Reina and the rebels to pay, but to suffer; if it’s war they want, it’s war they’ll get.
With Helena by her side, Reina wants so much more than survival. But to live, she’ll have to go back inside the Tower, the last place she ever wanted to see again. No matter how far they run or how hard they fight, it seems their paths are destined to intertwine with the golden city … and the Blood King.

I didn’t know what to expect when I first picked up The Blood King, but by the time I was finished, I couldn’t wait for The Golden City to be released. I wasn’t disappointed.

I’ve gotta say, I had no idea how Liz Long was going to wrap up The Brighton Duology in just two books. Needless to say, there was little to no down time in The Golden City. Danger, action, surprising revelations, heartwarming reunions and yes, even heartbreak kept the pages turning. Let’s just say that Liz Long earned her #EvilAuthor title by the end of this book. *sigh* There were also a few important lessons to be learned that unfortunately, mirror reality a little too closely…

Although the series was brought to a satisfying end with The Golden City (minus the heartbreak) I was left wanting more. Only because I wanted to know how these amazing characters built their new future. I can’t wait to see what Liz Long has in store for readers next…

Running Blind Virtual Book Tour

About Running Blind

An ATF agent who lives for danger finds what he craves from an outlaw biker.

It’s impossible for a one-percenter motorcycle club member to simply walk away—and no one knows that better than undercover agent Bram, who’s almost killed for trying. His cover isn’t blown—yet—but it’s only a matter of time. The Heathens won’t be satisfied until he’s dead, so he decides to lay low and heal.

But when his younger brother’s disappearance throws a wrench into his plan, Bram ends up in Shades Run, a town ruled by the notorious Havoc MC. In less than twenty-four hours, Bram finds himself at the mercy of Sweet, Havoc’s president, as he throws himself into the undercover role of a lifetime: himself. A man who’s never belonged anywhere, and who will do anything to protect his younger brother. 

When finding Linc seems impossible, Bram is torn between Sweet, Linc, and revealing his true identities . . . and there appears to be no way out. Once again, he risks it all trying to save it all. Only this time he’s got no backup to save him if he falls.

Running Blind is available from Riptide.
And don’t miss book one in the Havoc series,
Running Wild!

About SE Jakes

SE Jakes writes m/m romance. She believes in happy endings and fighting for what you want in both fiction and real life. She lives in New York with her family, and most days, she can be found happily writing (in bed). No really…

SE Jakes is the alter ego of New York Times bestselling paranormal and romantic suspense author Stephanie Tyler.

Connect with SE:

Giveaway

To celebrate the release of Running Blind, one lucky person will win an ecopy of Running Wild, the first book in the Havoc series! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on September 29, 2018. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following along, and don’t forget to leave your contact info! 

By creativedeeds

Write On Review-A-Thon (September 28-30, 2018)

Well, I’m not in as good a place as I was last month as far as reviews go, but I’m not as buried as I’ve been in the past. I guess that’s a good thing? I still have a long way to go to get caught up, but I’ll get there and this month’s Write on-Review-a-thon is just the incentive I need.

A little about the Review-a-thon:

Brought to you by Reading the Paranormal and the #boutofbooks-ers facebook group. 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 28th to Sunday, September 30th.

You can see Kelly’s post at Reading the Paranormal

So, what reviews do I have to write? Here’s a start, but since I’m almost done at least a couple more books, I’ll probably be adding to it…

The Wolf at Bay (Big Bad Wolf #2) by Charlie Adhara

Going home digs up bad memories, so it’s something Bureau of Special Investigations agent Cooper Dayton tries to avoid. When he’s guilted into a visit, Cooper brings along Oliver Park, his hot new werewolf partner, in the hopes the trip will help clarify their status as a couple…or not.
When Park’s keen shifter nose uncovers a body in the yard and Cooper’s father is the prime suspect, Cooper knows they’re on their own. Familial involvement means no sanctioned investigation. They’ll need to go rogue and solve the mystery quietly or risk seeing Cooper’s dad put behind bars.
The case may be cold, but Park and Cooper’s relationship heats up as they work. And yet if Cooper can’t figure out what’s going on between them outside of the bedroom, he’ll lose someone he… Well, he can’t quite put into words how he feels about Park. He knows one thing for sure: he’s not ready to say goodbye, though with the real killer inching ever closer…he may not have a choice.

The Wolf at the Door was a great start to Charlie Adhara’s Big Bad Wolf series and The Wolf at Bay was an even better continuation. Even though readers still only had Cooper’s POV, we still got to know Park a lot better in The Wolf at Bay. I’m a huge fan of multiple POVs in a book or series, but not being in Park’s head really works in Big Bad Wolf – mainly because it keeps him just a little bit more mysterious.

There was a lot more going on in The Wolf at Bay than the heat between Park and Cooper. Family drama, crazy revelations, a decades old murder mystery and more. Lots of action to keep the pages turning.

It may not have been clear to Cooper how Park felt about him, but he had a lot going on so I can forgive him for missing the obvious. There’s still a lot for readers to learn about the shifter world that Charlie Adhara’s created in Big Bad Wolf, but I like what we’ve discovered so far.

As for the mystery? I have to say, I was surprised at both the who and the why… mainly because there were a lot of possible suspects that would have been just as believable. Then there was the family drama… let’s just say, I wasn’t a fan, although Cooper’s brother and future sister-in-law kind of grew on me. Like I mentioned… Cooper went through a lot in The Wolf at Bay, but through it all, Park was there for him – whether Cooper knew it or not. Thrown to the Wolves is next and I can’t wait to see how the series continues.

 

Counterpoint (Twisted Wishes #2) by Anna Zabo

Twisted Wishes lead guitarist Dominic “Domino” Bradley is an animal onstage. But behind his tight leather pants and skull-crusher boots lies a different man entirely, one who needs his stage persona not only to perform, but to have the anonymity he craves. A self-imposed exile makes it impossible to get close to anyone outside the band, so he’s forced to get his sexual fix through a few hot nights with a stranger.
When computer programmer Adrian Doran meets Dominic, he’s drawn to the other man’s quiet voice and shy smile. But after a few dirty, demanding nights exploring Dominic’s need to be dominated, Adrian wants more than a casual distraction. He has no idea he’s fallen for Domino Grinder—the outlandish, larger-than-life rock god.
Dominic is reluctant to trust Adrian with his true identity. But when the truth is revealed prematurely, Dominic is forced to reevaluate both his need for Adrian and everything he believes about himself.

Readers met Dom in Syncopation, the first book in Anna Zabo’s Twisted Wishes series. Granted, we didn’t learn a lot about the quiet, private musician, but I got to know him well enough to know I liked him. He was a good friend and a talented musician, but I wasn’t surprised to learn that there was a lot more to “Domino” than just a way to protect his privacy.

Adrian was totally infatuated with Dom, but he knew he was keeping a part of himself hidden from him. He was patient, he knew or at least he hoped that Dom would trust him enough to share what he was hiding. He was also dealing with his own professional issues…

Dom really wanted to open up to Adrian, but he was terrified of people not only finding out, but what would happen to Domino when they did. He also wasn’t sure how Adrian would react because he knew he wasn’t exactly a fan of Twisted Wishes’ genre of music. The band was behind him, but not even they totally understood his fear. There were a lot of twists and turns for both men while working toward their HEA.

I love this series so far and I loved getting to know the band even better in Counterpoint. Mish is next in Reverb and I can’t wait to see what Zabo has in store for readers with her story.

 

Guardian’s Bond (Ancient Ink #1) by Rhenna Morgan

Priest Rahandras has lived with the darkness trapped inside himself for years. Betrayed by his own brother and forced to watch his clan’s brutal annihilation, the only thing Priest wants more than to escape the curse that haunts him—as both man and beast—is to rebuild.
Until the mate he’s longed for walks into his life with an elder from his past. She’s everything he’s wished for, and the key to the clan’s very survival.
Kateri Falsen is a woman of logic and facts. While Priest’s cat can sense her arousal, telling her they’re fated won’t be enough. He’ll have to show her his love: with his words, with his actions and with his body.
Protecting Kateri from the evil trapped inside him is paramount. But when lost clan members are systematically murdered, he’ll have to choose between exposing his mate to his black magic, or risking her as the next victim.

I’ve been a HUGE fan of Rhenna Morgan’s Men of Haven series since I read Rough & Tumble. Somehow I missed Guardian’s Bond when it was first offered as an ARC, but once I saw Healer’s Need, I new I had to start at the beginning, so here we are.

Guardian’s Bond was an amazing start to this series. There was a lot of world building, which is expected in the first book in a new series, but it didn’t bog down the story. The fact that Kateri and her brother knew nothing about their heritage was the perfect catalyst for the magic they knew nothing about to be explained to both them and readers.

There was a lot to love about Guardian’s Bond. I loved the connection between Kateri and Priest. I loved the connection between the clan members. I loved the magic, the world building, the suspense, the characters, even the danger. I can’t wait to continue the series. Healer’s Need is already ready and waiting for me to pick up and from the hint of what’s in store for characters at the end of Guardian’s Bond, Healer’s Need is going to be just as intense.

Saddle Up (Clean Slate Ranch #3) by A.M. Arthur

Reyes Caldero keeps his past buried deep and his emotions buried deeper. But what he doesn’t say he always makes up for with his actions. When the hot chef he once saved from an abusive ex turns up at Clean Slate Ranch, the quiet cowboy is happy to act on their sizzling chemistry, even if he’s not ready to share his secrets—or his heart.
Miles Arlington needs to get the hell out of San Francisco, and heading north for a job near Clean Slate Ranch seems like just the thing. It doesn’t hurt that his secret crush slash onetime rescuer happens to work at the ranch. Miles has never been one for the outdoors, but the superhot Reyes has him ready to saddle up.
Reyes is happy to keep things casual, even though his heart has other ideas. And when Miles is forced to confront his past again, Reyes and Miles will have to put all their trust in each other if they want any chance at building a future together.

I really liked Saddle Up, but there are a couple of things I wished… My heart broke for these two, but I really wish that they felt like they could trust the people closest to them. Of course, that would have lessoned the conflict in the story… *sigh*

Miles was a lot stronger than he thought he was and a lot of that strength came from his friends. I love that about this series and since they’re all so close and supportive, readers get to spend time with all of them.

Reyes is even more closed off than Miles, but with good reason. At least in his eyes. He’s lived with the secrets he holds close for a long time. Because of those secrets, he doesn’t think he’s worthy of anyone’s love, much less Miles’.

There was more drama going on at Clean Slate Ranch than just the tension between Miles and Reyes that kept the pages turning. Saddle Up was a great addition to this series.