Three Player Game (Bluewater Bay #20) by Jaime Samms – Bout of Books 20 Review

Vince’s life has improved immeasurably since he moved to Bluewater Bay two years ago. He’s gone from working for a man he hated, to helping found a company he believes in. And he and boyfriend, Pete, have built a delicate balance of power between them that keeps them both grounded and thriving.
Almost, anyway.
Pete’s job on the set of Wolf’s Landing is demanding. He needs lots of downtime off set, and that’s where Vince’s firm but gentle control isn’t always enough. And for Vince, Pete’s constant high-energy needs are turning out to be more than he can handle alone.
It’s no surprise to either of them, then, that sparks fly when Vince’s coworker Lee enters the picture. Outwardly, Lee is tough and confident, but when a bad back confines him to Pete and Vince’s spare room, the cracks start to show and his desire for connection begins to peek through.
Pete and Vince both like what they see under Lee’s prickly outside, but now the three men must learn that love isn’t about beating the game—it’s about balance, trust, and letting each other in.

If you’ve been here before, you know that BDSM is not my go-to when it comes to contemporary romance. However, I haven’t skipped a book in the Bluewater Bay series yet and I really liked the last book that Jaime Samms wrote in the series (How the Cookie Crumbles), so there was no reason to skip this one. As a matter of fact, I will probably go back and read that book again, because it was 8 books ago and I need a little bit of a refresher, especially since the main character in Three Player Game all got their start in How the Cookie Crumbles. 😉

As for Three Player Game? It’s complicated. I really liked Pete, Vince and Lee individually… together? Let’s just say that their dynamic bugged me a little. Oddly enough, it had nothing to do with the BDSM, mainly because it was mainly a mental Dom/Sub situation, not really physical. At least not on the page. The awkward part for me was the menage situation. Not in general. I’ve read quite a few books that centered around a menage relationship that worked… The relationship between Pete, Vince and Lee… I just didn’t get, or at least I couldn’t wrap my head around why it worked.

I think the main reason that I had issues with their relationship was the fact that Lee was broken and both Vince and Pete both sensed it. The issues that Lee had were barely touched on and to this reader, they were really important if they wanted to help Lee get to where he needed to be. Other than that, I think that Pete and Vince could be good for Lee… there was just something missing. *sigh* 

All Wheel Drive (Bluewater Bay #18) by Z.A. Maxfield

Healey Holly is battered, depressed, and looking to go to ground in his childhood home. He wants to rent the garage apartment, but it’s Diego Luz’s place now, and the last thing Diego wants is to share it.
Diego is recovering too—from the accident that put him in a wheelchair and the death of his mother shortly after. The garage apartment is where he’s keeping his mother’s things, and as long as they’re up those stairs and he’s down on the ground, there’s no way he can deal with his loss. And that’s just how he likes it.
Healey believes in science. Diego believes in luck. It will take a blend of both, and some prayer thrown in besides, for these two to learn that it’s the journey and the destination that matters.

If you’re not a fan of angst revolving around totally broken characters, All Wheel Drive is going to be a hard book for you to get through. That’s not a warning to not read this one, it’s just an observation and since both Diego and Healy are both so heart brokenly… well, broken, I thought it was worth mentioning.

It’s also worth mentioning that even though my heart broke for both Healey and Diego, I found myself sympathizing more with Healey. There were a couple of reasons for this I think. First, readers who have followed the Bluewater Bay series have already met Healey. His twin brother, Nash was featured with Spencer in the 3rd book in the series, Hell on Wheels. Second, for lack of a better way to put it, Diego wasn’t really very nice to Healy. At times he was downright mean. It’s a good thing that Z.A. Maxfield gave readers his POV, otherwise it would have been really hard to find him worth of Healy. It’s also a good thing that Healy could see beyond the shields that Diego had so carefully put up – just another reason to fall in love with him more.

So, Diego grew on my despite his growly personality… because of Healy. That doesn’t mean that Diego didn’t help Healy see things from a different perspective too, because he did. He gave him a unique view of the world around him, his circumstances and even his family. Especially his sister, who was also wheelchair bound. Diego’s willingness to find a way to help Healy come to terms with the events that landed him back in Bluewater and maybe even a way to get beyond and out from underneath it didn’t hurt either.

There was a lot more to love about All Wheel Drive. The supporting characters, which included a lot of family, were front and center. I had already fallen in love with Healy’s family, but I really liked Diego’s too. His relationship with them showed a softer side that I really liked.

The only complaint that I have with All Wheel Drive is that it ended with everything not quite wrapped up. Diego was well on his way to completing his project, but not quite and Healy’s fate was still a little shaky. Other than that, this was a great addition to the Bluewater Bay series and it’s probably no surprise that I’m anxiously waiting for what comes next. 😉 

For a Good Time, Call… (Bluewater Bay #17) by Anne Tenino & E.J. Russell

Thirty-seven-year-old Nate Albano’s second relationship ever ended three years ago, and since he’s grace—gray asexual—he doesn’t anticipate beating the odds to find a third. Still, he’s got his dog, his hobbies, and his job as a special effects technician on Wolf’s Landing, so he can’t complain—much.
Seth Larson, umpteenth generation Bluewater Bay, is the quintessential good-time guy, content with tending bar and being his grandmother’s handyman. The night they meet, Seth’s looking for some recreational sex to escape family drama. But for Nate, romantic attraction comes before sexual attraction, so while Seth thinks they’re hooking up, Nate just wants to talk . . . genealogy?
Dude. Seriously?
So they declare a “just friends” truce. Then Seth asks for Nate’s help investigating a sinister Larson family secret, and their feelings start edging way beyond platonic. But Nate may want more than Seth can give him, and Seth may not be able to leave his good-time image behind. Unless they can find a way to merge carefree with commitment, they could miss out on true love—the best time of all.

For a Good Time, Call… was a great addition to the Bluewater Bay series, but I wanted more. *sigh* I know, that’s a somewhat frequent complaint I have of books that I really like. This time though, it’s more because so much was happening, so many little story lines were thrown into the mix and not all of them were fleshed out. It just seemed like there either needed to be more, or there needed to be a sequel.

That’s just my opinion though and despite that one minor flaw, I really enjoyed For a Good Time, Call… I liked the slow burn between the two characters and the vast difference in their approach to attraction. For Seth, it was a loose concept. He was up for ‘a Good Time’ pretty much 24/7. For Nate, it was a little more complicated. Their attraction to each other was a surprise for both of them. Nate’s past made him keep his distance regardless of what his heart and body were telling him. Seth just tried to keep himself in check because he didn’t want to risk the bond that was growing between them. 

Aside from the romance, the history and ancestral angle was really interesting. I loved the bond between Seth and his grandmother (who, by the way, was one of my favorite characters.) I liked the fact that this story pulled readers into the Bluewater Bay community and history – its roots, but there was still a strong story line within the Wolf’s Landing cast and crew. There was also an interesting twist that I’m really hoping gets explored more because that story line is just too intriguing to be left hanging. There were also a couple of other loose ends that I want to know more about, but we’ve already discussed this, right?

So yes, For a Good Time, Call… had a few bumps and wrinkles, but I still liked it and I’d still recommend reading this along with all the stories in the series. They’re written by different authors, some I’ve enjoyed more than others and they can pretty much all be read as stand alones. However, there’s enough of a common thread, regardless of how thin, that I think readers would get more out of any of them if they experienced most of the Wolf’s Landing/Bluewater Bay world.

No Small Parts (Bluewater Bay #16) by Ally Blue

nosmallparts_600x900Nat Horn is almost living the dream. His part as a werewolf extra on the hit show Wolf’s Landing has somehow turned into a regular role. Beautiful rising star Solari Praveen has taken an interest in him. He’s even making enough money to think about getting out of Bluewater Bay someday. Except his retired dad’s dependence on pain medications seems to be getting worse, and Nat’s the only one around to take care of him.
When Nat learns that Solari’s interest isn’t romantic, his disappointment is surprisingly short-lived, because in getting to know her, he also got to know her assistant, Rafael. And Rafael turns out to be the kind of friend—and potential boyfriend—Nat never dared to dream about.
Distracted by his astonishing new life, new friends, and new possibilities, Nat lets his guard down, and suddenly his life goes careening out of control. Racked by guilt, he tries to push his new friends away, but the bonds he’s formed are already too strong. In fact, they’re strong enough to pull him forward, into the future he’s been longing for—but to get there, he’ll have to let go of the past.

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1First, how in the heck is this the first book I’ve read by Ally Blue? An author who can put her characters through as much as Nat was put through in No Small Parts really should have landed on my reading radar before now.

So yeah, Nat was put through a lot in No Small Parts. Nat’s dad was totally dependent on him, but he was so spiteful that it made what Nat sacrificed for him even more painful. His sister could have helped out, but she was pretty useless. He wasn’t used to depending on anyone else, so when things got even worse, he let his guilt keep him from leaning on anyone. Turns out that there’s nothing wrong with leaning on someone, even if it’s just for moral support. Which turned Rafael into a true hero in No Small Parts by just being there for Nat.

There was so much to love about this story, even with all the pain. Obviously Rafael, but Solari was great too and she had her own crap going on – which I hope gets resolved in a future installment in the Bluewater Bay series (hint, hint 😉 ) There were cameos from previous characters, but No Small Parts could easily be read as a standalone from the rest of the series. The individual authors do a great job of tying the stories together loosely though and there have been few in the series that I wouldn’t recommend, so of course I’m going to tell you to read them all 😉

DragonFlyRating4

Bluewater Blues (Bluewater Bay #15) by G.B. Gordon

bluewaterblues_600x900Jack Daley left his music career behind—along with his domineering father—and is struggling to make a new life for himself and his autistic sister in Bluewater Bay. When a summer storm sweeps a handsome stranger into his general store, Jack is more than ready for a fling. No strings attached, because Jack can’t share the secrets he and his sister are hiding from. Unfortunately, his feelings refuse to stay casual.
Mark Keao is married to his job as a costume designer on Wolf’s Landing. He’s autistic, so he’s used to people not knowing how to interact with him, but that doesn’t mean he wants to be a hermit. Especially when he meets Jack Daley, who dances with brooms, shares his love of the blues, and gets him like no one else. But relationships have proven complicated in the past.
Just when Mark is ready to try anyway, Jack pulls back. But Mark isn’t giving up, and neither is Jack’s sister. And then there’s the music both men love, bringing them together time and again. It will take trust, though, to bring them together for good.
 

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1This is the second book in the Bluewater Bay series written by G.B. Gordon. The first was When to Hold Them, which I liked, but not nearly as much as Bluewater Blues.

At first glance it would seem that Mark and Jack were made for each other. Jack’s life revolved around his sister and it would take a special kind of person to not only understand, but accept and be comfortable with his situation. Given Mark had first hand knowledge of the challenges that Jack faced, the obvious obstacles didn’t exist. The fact that Jack couldn’t be totally honest with Mark made things complicated. Mark was determined to make things work regardless.

Bluewater Blues was a great addition to the Bluewater Bay series. My favorites in this series have been the books that touched on not only tough issues but gave insight into real life situations that not everyone is exposed to or comfortable with simply because they haven’t been exposed to them or don’t understand. Bluewater Blues was that kind of book for me. It was so much more than a romance and that’s one of the many reasons why they’re my favorites.

This was also another book in the series that you could read as a stand alone, but I still wouldn’t recommend it. A few characters are familiar from previous books. I may be a bit biased though since there aren’t many books in this series that I haven’t loved. Next up in the Bluewater Bay series is No Small Parts and since I’m so far behind in all my reviews, I’ve already read it. Stay tuned!

DragonFlyRating4

All the Wrong Places (Bluewater Bay #14) by Ann Gallagher

AllTheWrongPlaces_600x900Three cheating girlfriends in a row have given skateboarder Brennan Cross the same excuse: he wasn’t meeting their needs. Desperate and humiliated, he goes to the professionals at the local sex shop for advice.
Zafir Hamady, a sales clerk at Red Hot Bluewater, has an unusual theory: he doesn’t think Brennan is a bad lover. In fact, he doesn’t think Brennan is heterosexual. Or sexual at all, for that matter. He also can’t stop thinking about Brennan. But even if he’s right and Brennan really is asexual, that doesn’t mean Zafir has a chance. Brennan’s never dated a man, and Zafir’s never met anyone who’s game for a Muslim single father with a smart mouth and a GED.
Brennan’s always thought of himself as straight. But when sex is explicitly out of the mix, he finds himself drawn to Zafir for the qualities and interests they share. And Zafir can’t help enjoying Brennan’s company and the growing bond between Brennan and his son. They work well together, but with so many issues between them, doubts creep in, and Brennan’s struggle with his identity could push away the one person he didn’t know he could love.
 

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1Oh, how I loved these two young men. I know I’ve said that before, but there was just something about Brennan and Zafir’s story that made me melt for them. *sigh*

All the Wrong Places began with Brennan mulling over the fact that he’d been dumped… again. He’s so desperate for an answer to why he isn’t doing ‘it’ right (according to the girls that have dumped him) that he finds himself in Bluewater Bay’s Red Hot Bluewater. The initial encounter between Zafir and Brennan immediately sold me on this one. I honestly don’t think that my first search for answers in Brennan’s situation would have been the local sex shop, but I loved the fact that it was Brennan’s.

There was so much to love about All the Wrong Places I don’t really know where to start. Obviously, I loved Brennan and Zafir. I also loved Zafir’s son, but I’m a sucker for a smart, witty kid who is an integral part of the story. The only thing better was Zafir’s devotion to his son (as overprotective as it was – which was kind of adorable) and Brennan’s budding relationship with him. I also loved Zafir and Brennan’s friends (with the exception of Brennan’s ex-girlfriend…)

Basically, All the Wrong Places was an excellent addition to the Bluewater Bay series in more ways than one. Given the fact that the series has several contributing authors, variety is expected. Sometimes there’s cohesiveness between the stories, which I really like. However, I don’t mind it when it’s missing because each author seems to add another layer to the ‘community’ which makes up Bluewater Bay. Some I’ve liked more than others, but each one adds another dimension. Some also offer readers who follow the series (like me) exposure to aspects of the LGBTQIA genre that they may not go looking for on their own.

I’m not sure what’s next for residents Bluewater Bay or the cast and crew of Wolf’s Landing,  but whatever it is, I’m there. 😉

DragonFlyRating5

 

 

Selfie (Bluewater Bay #13) by Amy Lane

Selfie_600x900One year ago, actor Connor Montgomery lost the love of his life to a drunk driver. But what’s worse for Connor is what he still has: a lifetime of secrets born of hiding his relationship from the glare of Hollywood. Unable to let go of the world he and Vinnie shared, Connor films a drunken YouTube confession on the anniversary of Vinnie’s death.
Thankfully, the video was silent—a familiar state for Connor—so his secret is still safe. He needs a fresh start, and a new role on the hit TV show Wolf’s Landing might be just that.
The move to Bluewater Bay may also mean a second chance in the form of his studio-assigned assistant. Noah Dakers sees through Connor’s facades more quickly than Connor could imagine. Noah’s quiet strength and sarcastic companionship offers Connor a chance at love that Hollywood’s closet has never allowed. But to accept it, Connor must let Vinnie go and learn to live again.

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1You may think that you know by reading the description that Selfie will make you shed a tear or two… Let me just clarify that for you… You. Know. Nothing! This book will crush you. You’ll think the worst of Connor’s pain is over and then he gets blind sided by something or someone and the tears start all over. Yeah, Amy Lane held nothing back in Selfie and I both love her and hate her for it. Connor’s pain was raw and he was falling and there was no turning back from the inevitable crash. This book broke me. So yeah, however many tissues you were planning on having nearby before you pick up this book, triple it. You can thank me later.

To describe Connor as broken is probably an understatement. In the opening of Selfie, he had hit his lowest point. Luckily he had someone to help him pick up the pieces and shove him in a direction that would hopefully get his life back on track. I absolutely loved Jilly. She was brash and honest and wasn’t afraid to admit that she screwed up. She also loved Connor and honestly wanted what was best for him… not your average Hollywood agent.

Then there was Noah… He saw beyond the front that Connor hid behind. He was genuine and funny, honest and caring and he was determined to help Connor, whether he wanted it or not. He was the stability that Connor needed, but it wasn’t always enough. There were some things that Connor had to conquer on his own.

There was so much to love about Selfie, I can’t even begin to convey it all. I loved the support that the Wolf’s Landing community surrounded Connor with. I loved Noah’s family and how obvious it was that they had shaped Noah into the amazing man he had become. I loved the contrast between how comfortable Noah was in his identity compared to how hidden Connor was even though he didn’t want to be. Yeah, there was lot of pain in Selfie, but in the end, the love overpowered it and made every tear shed worth it.

So far, this is one of my favorite installments in the Bluewater Bay series. I’ve said that before and it’s probably not a coincidence that one of my other favorites was the Deep of the Sound, also written by Amy Lane. Like all the other books in this series, Selfie can be read as a standalone, but I have to recommend reading them all. Even though they’re written by several different authors, there is a cohesiveness that flows between the books that I’ve really enjoyed.

Oh, and after you’ve read Selfie and emotionally recovered, follow this link to Riptide’s Selfie page and click on the tab for Extras. There you’ll be able to listen to Vinnie’s monologues… and start shedding tears all over again… *sigh*

DragonFlyRating5

How the Cookie Crumbles (Bluewater Bay #12) by Jaime Samms

HowTheCookieCrumblesAfter losing a rigged cooking show competition — and a potential lover — to another baker, Frederic Jackson packs up his considerable baggage and moves to Bluewater Bay. He uses the network’s hush money to buy a new bakery where he hopes the small town’s revitalized economy will let him start anew.
Blaire Caruthers never wanted to work for his father at Caruthers Industries. He should have known that fixing the company’s show results was a mistake, and that choosing another man over kind, generous Frederic was an even bigger one. But the damage is done. As punishment, he’s been sent to Bluewater Bay to oversee the company’s interest in Wolf’s Landing merchandise.
Stuck in a small, nowhere town doing a job he hates, Blaire wants nothing more than to prove to Frederic he’s changed. However, Frederic struggles to trust the man who betrayed him once already. As Blaire loses ground with his father, and Frederic starts falling back into self-destructive habits, they both have to find the balance and control that’s been missing from their lives.

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1Each time another book in this series is released I end up shuffling around my favorites. I wasn’t sure exactly where How the Cookie Crumbles was going to fall because… well… frankly Blaire sounded like an unredeemable jerk. I love it when an author can change your opinion about a character. 😉

Frederic wasn’t hard to fall for. I loved him from the beginning. I could appreciate him wanting to do everything on his own, I’m kind of the same way. Basically because I hate asking anyone for help. He took that trait to a whole new level though. On the flip side, he had a lot of amazing people jump in and insist on helping him… including Blaire.

Blaire had a lot to make up for and he knew it. Frederic wasn’t easily won over and he had a lot more going on than just his mixed feelings for Blaire. He tried to be everything to everyone and came dangerously close to falling into a position where he couldn’t even help himself. Blaire had no idea what kind of inner demons Frederic was fighting, but he was determined to prove that he had changed enough to be the kind of man to help fix it.

As with many of the books in the Bluewater Bay series, How the Cookie Crumbles can be read as a stand alone. I’ve read them all though and have found few I wouldn’t recommend. There were a couple of familiar characters that popped up, which always makes me smile. This is also the first book by Jaime Samms that I’ve read, but I doubt it will be my last. Selfie by Amy Lane is next in the series.

DragonFlyRating4

Stuck Landing (Bluewater Bay #11) by Lauren Gallagher

StuckLanding_600x900For months, acclaimed Wolf’s Landing director/producer Anna Maxwell has been nursing a crush on Natalya Izmaylova, a former Russian gymnast and current Wolf’s Landing stunt coordinator. When Anna witnesses Natalya’s very public breakup with her boyfriend, she can’t resist inviting her over for drinks to commiserate about love and all that nonsense. Commiseration doesn’t last long, and soon Anna’s in bed with the hottest woman she’s ever touched, living out fantasies she didn’t even know she had.
Despite the amazing sex, Anna wants to proceed with caution. They’re both newly single. They’re colleagues. And there’s the not-so-small matter of Anna’s biphobia.
Natalya won’t commit to someone who clings to ridiculous stereotypes, but they can’t avoid each other at work, and there’s no ignoring their chemistry. Anna’s defenses are slowly eroding, and Natalya is willing to give her another chance. But Natalya only has so much patience, and even scorching hot sex won’t keep her coming back forever. If Anna doesn’t come to her senses soon and let go of her prejudices — not to mention her insecurities — she’s going to lose the woman of her dreams.

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1I love this series, I really do. There are some books in the series that I’ve liked more than others, but in general, I’ve enjoyed them all as well as the characters. Stuck Landing is the first one that I’ve had a problem with… and probably not for the reasons that you might think.

Anna has been a part of this series since the beginning. She was an important character in Levi and Carter’s story, Starstruck, which started the Bluewater Bay series. I’ve liked her character ever since and her relationship that continued with both Levi and Carter. She also played an important role in Jeremy and Scott’s story, Rain Shadow. Her crumbling relationship with her girlfriend was the perfect set-up for Stuck Landing.

Natalya’s break up with her boyfriend sets the stage for her and Anna to connect. I liked them together in the beginning… they just seemed to click. So what was my hang up with this story? It was simply Anna and her hang-ups. True, this was basically my first F/F read and this genre will never be my ‘go-to’ when it comes to romance. But for me, the beauty of this series is the diversity of the characters and the authors. Anna’s prejudice just rubbed me the wrong way because it went against everything I felt the series was trying to accomplish. To be honest, I’m not sure why Natalya gave her another chance. *sigh*

You might be asking why I gave Stuck Landing a higher rating than my opinion warranted… well, that’s simple. Just because I wasn’t a fan of Anna, didn’t mean that it still wasn’t a good story. Carter and Levi pretty much saved it for me on more than one occasion, as well as Jeremy and Scott. One of my favorite parts (besides the wedding) was when Levi pretty much put Anna in her place. (That’s not giving anything away BTW because Levi, Carter and Jeremy weren’t easy on Anna and her attitude through much of the book.)

So, yeah… Stuck Landing wasn’t a shining moment for Anna… I still liked the story though, but not necessarily for the romance. Not a bad thing… just not what I expected.

DragonFlyRating4

Rain Shadow (Bluewater Bay #10) by L.A. Witt

RainShadow_600x900Jeremy Rose came to Bluewater Bay to work as Anna Maxwell’s bodyguard, not to escape his increasingly bitter relationship with his estranged kids. He just wants to focus on his job and be alone for a while. He’s done with love, especially now that three years after his long overdue divorce, he’s got a front-row seat to the rapid deterioration between Anna and her girlfriend. Cynical doesn’t even begin to describe him.
Then Anna and Leigh’s attempts to reconcile put him in the crosshairs of marriage counselor Scott Fletcher. Scott’s exactly what Jeremy needs right now: gorgeous, hot, horny, single, and 100% uninterested in a relationship. The problem is, too much no-strings-attached sex—and too much time in each other’s company—inevitably builds emotional connection.
Except Jeremy refuses to seek counseling for his broken family, and Scott refuses to get seriously involved with men who work dangerous jobs. They both need to realize they can only hide for so long from the pain they came here to escape. They must face their pasts before they lose their shot at a happy future.

ACreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1nother great addition to the Bluewater Bay series. I thought it was cute the way that Jeremy and Scott kind of fell into a relationship while denying the fact that either one of them were looking for a relationship. 😉

Scott had his reasons for not wanting to date someone in a dangerous occupation. His loss was heartbreaking. It was also kind of ironic that Jeremy would finally connect to someone in a profession he wanted to have nothing more to do with. Love really is a fickle thing, isn’t it?

The side story of Anna and her girlfriend added a lot to this story. I liked the connection between Jeremy and Anna, as well as Jeremy’s connection with the other body guards and crew on the set. He screwed up more than once, but he still had support from the people around him. Even when he wasn’t sure where he stood with Scott.

The only real complaint I had about Rain Shadow was that I felt like the ending was rushed. I really would have liked a little bit more closure. Things were on the way to being mended, but not quite there yet.

DragonFlyRating4