One Night with Rhodes (One Night #4) by Eden Finley

Blair Rhodes considers himself an equal opportunity player. He knew from a young age that he wasn’t entirely straight. Ogling his best friend’s older brother was the first thing that tipped him off. But Garrett Erikson is off limits. Always has been. Garrett is as straight as they come.
Garrett’s reputation as a womaniser precedes him, but it’s not who he is. Not even close. And when Blair turns up on his doorstep, heartbroken over a breakup, Garrett knows it’s a bad idea to go drinking with him.
One night is all it takes for everything to change.
For the past ten years, Garrett’s denied his desires to everyone, including himself.
And as much as Blair wants to be the guy Garrett needs, he needs to protect his own heart. Like his ex-boyfriend always told him: “Never mess with the straight ones. It only leads to trouble.”

I actually almost skipped this one, I think mainly because I hadn’t read the other books in the series. Then, one of my fellow bloggers gave One Night with Rhodes such a great review I couldn’t resist. 😉

Since I haven’t read the rest of the books in the One Night series, I’m not sure how the earlier books played out. The title and description may elude to ‘one night’ but this book covered a lot more than that. It was actually made up of many ‘one nights’. It sounds kind of confusing, I know, but once you read the book, it will make total sense.

The thing that struck me most about One Night with Rhodes was the patience and caring that Blair expressed for Garrett. He was there for him, even when he knew that it would hurt him to walk away. He did his best to protect his heart and still keep Garrett from crumbling and hurting himself. Blair was determined to help Garrett find himself and come out healthy and whole in the process. I also loved their friends and family. Even though they were totally clueless when it came to Blair’s orientation, they still cared.

One Night with Rhodes also had a slightly unique format that I kinda liked. The book opened and closed with pretty much the same scene, but a lot happened in between, which meant that most of the book was set in the past. It gave the story a slightly different perspective.

I also have to mention that even though this is the 4th book in the One Night series, it can easily be a stand alone. Characters from the previous books are a huge part of Garrett and Blair’s story, but there is a lot of back story in One Night with Rhodes that help keep readers up to speed. That doesn’t mean that I’m not curious about those first 3 books. It also doesn’t mean that I’m not seriously thinking about continuing the series. The next couple has definitely peaked my curiosity 😉

 

Relationship Status (Ethan & Wyatt #3) by K.A. Mitchell

Life doesn’t come with a syllabus.
Ethan knows firsthand that long distance is hard on love. If Wyatt is spending his summer at an internship in Pittsburgh, that’s where Ethan will be. Even if it means inventing his own career goal just to find a reason to stay with his boyfriend. He didn’t expect they’d be living in a hot, crappy apartment, with work schedules that keep them apart more than together.
Wyatt’s past has taught him to keep his head down and focus on living through the day. Loving Ethan has him looking to the future for the first time; he’s just not in as big of a rush to get there. It’s hard to trust in happiness when life has been busy kicking you in the nuts.
Together they’re getting the hang of real life, when a new responsibility for Wyatt throws everything off balance. Ethan’s doing everything he can to prove he’s in this forever, while Wyatt is torn between a future with Ethan and a debt to the past. Too bad they didn’t cover this in college.

Relationship Status marks the end of Ethan & Wyatt‘s story. I’ve really liked getting to know these guys and their story did come to a satisfying end… do you sense a but? Well, there isn’t one, really. It’s just if I had to pick a favorite book in this series, it would be the first. Although Boyfriend Material and Relationship Status were great and I liked getting more of Ethan & Wyatt’s story, I just liked Getting Him Back better. 🙂

Ethan & Wyatt have come a long way since readers first met them in Boyfriend Material. They learned a lot about each other and more than that, about themselves. I loved watching them come full circle in Relationship Status – with each other and those that they loved.

Finishing this series reminded me that there are a couple of books in the Bad in Baltimore series that I need to read. There are also quite a few other books written by K.A. Mitchell that I should probably check out.

Faking It (Ringside Romance #2) by Christine d’Abo

Max Tremblay should be happy. His night club, Frantic, is one of the most popular gay clubs in Toronto, and his childhood refuge, Ringside Gym, is well on the way to reopening. But when he finds yet another drunk in the alley beside the bar, Max isn’t sure this is the life he truly wants.
Grady Barnes has it all. He’s rich, famous, and wants for nothing. Well, nothing but a good relationship with his father. When he discovers that his father is going to force him into an arranged marriage, Grady has had enough. He tracks down Max, the man who got him to safety after a night of overindulgence, and makes him a proposal: pretend to be his fiancé for two weeks and he’ll invest in Ringside Gym.
When the pair travel to Vancouver to attend a family wedding, the flames of their mutual attraction ignite, and they discover that the only difference between pretend and reality is how well they can fake it.

I’m really loving this series. I’ve also got to admit that I’ve been really curious about Max since he was introduced as Zack’s best friend and business partner in Working It, the first book in the Ringside Romance series.

The description sets things up well, but there’s so much more between Grady and Max. There’s especially a lot more to Grady than the spoiled brat he first appears to be. I went into Faking It already liking Max, but it didn’t take me long to really like Grady too. So much so that I almost got aggravated with Max near the end.

Grady wasn’t perfect. He felt like he was fighting a losing battle. His father’s expectations were the polar opposite of what Grady wanted. Ignoring his father didn’t work because he seemed to have eyes everywhere. Seeing first hand what Grady was up against convinced Max to go along with his crazy plan. Spending time with him not only made him realize Grady’s potential, but it brought them closer than either one of them expected.

Getting to spend time with Zack and Nolan from Working It was an added bonus. Like I said, I’m loving this series and Making It, the next book in the Ringside Romance, sounds like it’s going to be just as good as the rest. 😉

 

Olive Juice by T.J. Klune

It begins with a message that David cannot ignore:
I want to see you.
He agrees, and on a cold winter’s night, David and Phillip will come together to sift through the wreckage of the memory of a life no longer lived.
David is burdened, carrying with him the heavy guilt of the past six years upon his shoulders.
Phillip offers redemption.

Not your typical T.J. Klune read… but that’s not a bad thing. Actually, after thinking about it a little more, there’s absolutely nothing typical about Olive Juice. That’s not a bad thing either.

I’ve been sitting on this review for a while for a couple of reasons. First, I needed time to wrap my head around this book. It was a fairly quick read, but it was by no means an easy one. Second, readers have been warned to not give away any spoilers – for good reason. That’s usually not an issue for me, but this one has me walking on egg shells and prepare yourself for one of my vaguest reviews. *sigh*

As the description states, the story starts with a text and a simple statement. “I want to see you.” Nothing about the rest of the book is simple though. It’s a lot of things. Painful, depressing, heart breaking and yet at times beautiful. My heart broke for both Phillip and David. Readers get glimpses of the past a little at a time, so things are revealed slowly. Which, oddly enough, kept the pages turning. I found myself needing to know where the pain was coming from.

After reading the description and knowing this author, I expected tears. As much as my heart broke for these characters, it didn’t affect me the way I thought it would. I’m not sure why and I know that it wasn’t the same for all readers. It was a powerful read regardless and it touched me in a way that not many books do. That is very typical of this author and one of the many reasons I love his work.

Cask Strength (Agents Irish and Whiskey #2) by Layla Reyne

Professionally, the FBI team of Aidan “Irish” Talley and Jameson “Whiskey” Walker is as good as it gets, closing cases faster than any team at the Bureau. Personally, it’s a different story. Aidan’s feelings for Jamie scare the hell out of him: he won’t risk losing another love no matter how heart-tripping the intimacy between them. And loss is a grim reality with the terrorist Renaud still on their trail, leaving a pile of bodies in his wake.
Going undercover on a new case gets them out of town and off the killer’s radar. They’re assigned to investigate an identity theft ring involving a college basketball team in Jamie’s home state, where Jamie’s past makes him perfect for the role of coach. But returning to the court brings more than old memories.
As secrets and shocking betrayals abound, none may be more dangerous than the one Jamie’s been keeping: a secret about the death of Aidan’s husband that could blow his partner’s world apart and destroy forever the fragile bonds of trust and love building between them.

The plot thickens… Single Malt ended with quite a revelation – that Jamie promised not to share with Aidan. It also left Jamie in a very precarious position. He was getting closer to Aidan and secrets between lovers never ends well.

I gotta say, I’m loving this series and Cask Strength cemented that feeling. Even though these two characters broke my heart – more than once. Jamie was all in when it came to his feelings about Aidan. The only thing was that Aidan was only all in when he was physically with Jamie. Nothing’s ever exactly what it seems and things started getting really interesting when the agents went under cover.

I don’t want to give too much away, but both Jamie and Aidan thought they had reason to be jealous. Jamie seemed to be in his element when he got back on the court. Then lines started blurring when Aidan worked under cover way too well.

As things in the identity theft case started to wrap up, the case they left behind took another strange turn. The cliff hanger in Cask Strength wasn’t quite as crazy… well, not in the same way, anyway… as Single Malt. That doesn’t mean that I can’t wait to pick up Barrel Proof. Even though I’m pretty sure I’m not going to be ready to say goodbye to Jamie or Aidan, Cask Strength ended in a twist that I never saw coming and I’m kinda hoping that there’s a perfectly reasonable explanation, but…

Summer Stock by Vanessa North – Bout of Books 19 Review

Tabloid scandals have driven TV star Ryan Hertzog to North Carolina’s Outer Banks, where he’s hiding out doing summer stock at his cousin’s seaside theater. When a hookup with local handyman Trey Donovan results in Ryan being photographed butt naked, he vows to keep his pants on and his hands off Trey. How was he supposed to know Trey would turn out to be the summer stock set builder?
Trey isn’t looking for a relationship; he’s still recovering from the emotional fallout of an abusive marriage. But Ryan’s laughter draws him in again and again, and he’s not about to say no to fooling around.
As the summer heats up, the paparazzi catch Ryan in increasingly compromising situations. Ryan might be too much drama for a summer fling—and Trey might be just an intermission from Ryan’s Hollywood life. But if they take their cues from Shakespeare, all’s well that ends well.

Summer Stock was a lot more than I expected. The cover (although I NEVER judge a book by its cover 😉 ) promised a fun summer romp in the sun. Although it did deliver on that promise, even the supporting characters had a lot of extra baggage that they hid behind those playful smiles.

It was easy to spot the ghosts of Trey’s past. His ex did a real number on him, both physically and emotionally. He had a long way to go before he could even think about trusting someone. A Hollywood TV star was definitely not the type of person he was looking for. As transparent as Ryan’s life seemed, there was a lot that he kept hidden. Hiding behind the facade was easier than baring his soul, especially with a summer fling.

Things got complicated when all the people that were not only dealing with their own problems, tried to protect both Ryan from Trey and Trey from Ryan. It was compounded by the fact that part of Trey’s defense mechanism seemed to sabotage any hope they had at building a relationship and Ryan’s lack of self esteem made him an easy target. Despite all that, I was really hoping these two would make it. Readers could tell if they let themselves, they’d be really good for each other.

By the end of Summer Stock I even started to respect the characters that I wasn’t sure about in the beginning. I love it when that happens. Don’t avoid this one if you’re just looking for a fun summer read – not to mention a dog that steals the show more than once. It really does deliver on that end, there just happens to be a lot more to the story than you may be bargaining for, and that’s never a bad thing 😉

Believe in the Wish by Christi Snow – Bout of Books 19 Review

I buried my twin sister six months after she found out she had cancer. Her funeral was three months ago. Today is our birthday and it started with delivery of letters from her.
It seems she didn’t trust me to move on after her death. She knows me too well. But how can I go on when my other half is just…gone? That’s not something I can recover from with a snap of my fingers. But I also can’t ignore her instructions even though I’d be perfectly content to cuddle up with my buddy, Johnnie Walker, and call it a year.
She has a list of things for me to do and there are rules attached.
There’s one major problem besides the fact it’s been three months since I left the house. I have to do all these things with her jerk of an ex, Hawk Simmons. He abandoned her shortly after she found out she was sick. If that wasn’t enough to make this a really bad idea, the fact that he makes an appearance in all my nighttime fantasies probably does.
I don’t think I can do this, but I owe it to my sister’s memory to try.

Note to self: When an author tells readers that they cried every single time they did a read through of the book you’re about to read, PAY ATTENTION!

So yes, I obviously knew what I was getting myself into before I picked up Believe in the Wish and I read it anyway. Why, you might be asking yourself? That’s simple. Even though Christi Snow promised tears, I’ve read enough of her books to know that they would be worth it. Regardless of how much she puts her characters through, she manages to put them back together and most importantly, leaves both them and the readers who fell in love with them, with a sense of hope. I had to keep that in mind through almost every chapter of Believe in the Wish… consider yourselves warned.

Ethan was introduced to readers first and his grief was all consuming. He had no idea how to go on without Emma but thankfully, Emma knew expected that and found a really creative way to help him after she was gone. Ethan just couldn’t understand why she chose Hawk to be the one to help him through his grief.

To be honest, I was afraid in the beginning that Believe in the Wish would only be told by Ethan’s POV. That would have been okay, but I literally sighed with relief when the first chapter labeled ‘Hawk’ popped up. Things aren’t always what they seem and Hawk’s POV only revealed little by little what was really going on, but those glimpses made me fall in love with him. It also helped readers realize that he was almost as broken as Ethan.

Ethan’s grief wasn’t a quick fix and it shouldn’t have been. For every step forward he made, he seemed to stumble back at least two more. This book was an emotional roller coaster full of love, tears, tragedy, anger, grief, betrayal and hope… it took a while, but it’s important to know that they both finally got there, but not on their own. Which brings me to the supporting characters. I loved Miller, Katya, Dix and even Slade almost as much as Hawk and Ethan. (I may or may not be hinting to the author that one, if not all of these characters are begging to have their story told… 😉 ) One of the most amazing characters in Believe in the Wish was Emma. The love and devotion that she had for both Ethan and Hawk was inspiring.

So, pick up Believe in the Wish armed with plenty of tissues and an open heart and mind because those tears were really worth it in the end.

Wake Up Call (Porthkennack #1) by J.L. Merrow

South London mechanic Devan Thompson has gone to Porthkennack to track down someone he’s been waiting all his life to know. But Dev’s distracted from his quest by Kyle, a broodingly handsome local of only a few months, who’s already got a reputation as an alcoholic because of his strange behaviour—including a habit of collapsing in the street.
Kyle Anthony fled to Porthkennack to escape from the ruins of his life. Still raging against his diagnosis of narcolepsy—a condition that’s cost him his job as a barrister, his lover, and all chance of normality—the last thing he wants is another relationship that’s doomed to fail. But Dev’s easy-going acceptance and adaptability, not to mention his good looks, have Kyle breaking all his self-imposed rules.
When disaster strikes Dev’s adored little sister, Kyle steps up to the plate, and Dev sees a side of his lover he wasn’t prepared for: competent, professional—and way out of Dev’s league. With one man determined that they don’t have a future, and the other fearing it, life after Porthkennack is starting to look bleak for both of them.
 

Oh, the ‘British’ is strong with this one. That’s not a bad thing, but it’s worth mentioning, mainly because the dialect takes a little getting used to – at least it did for me.

I like learning about new locations, even if they’re totally fictional. I also like getting to know characters dealing with things that I know little or nothing about. Of course I’d heard of narcolepsy, but I’ve never met or read about a character who dealt with it. Kyle was dealing with his diagnosis the only way he knew how, by shutting himself off from everyone. Not exactly healthy, but in his mind he had lost everything important to him. His former partner didn’t do anything to sway that opinion.

I have to admit, that Devan was my favorite between the two characters. Kyle eventually grew on me, but I liked Devan from the very beginning. The supporting characters were pretty great too, once readers got to know them better. Porthkennack may have been a tourist town, but some local residents weren’t exactly welcoming.

As much as I liked the story and the characters, except for the ones that I didn’t like at all (there were quite a few that were really easy to dislike) there were a few things about Wake Up Call that drove me nuts. One, maybe even two, misunderstanding are acceptable. Between Kyle and Devan though, it seemed like every other situation put them in another moment of doubt. There were times that I wanted to drag back the one (because both of them were guilty) that ran off in a huff and make them really listen to the other. This happened from the time they met and even though I understood, it was still a little annoying.

This is the first book in a series that promises to be interesting. It includes both contemporary and historical books, which is a unique approach. Each book is also written by a different author, so readers will be provided with a variety of perspectives. The next book in the Porthkennack series is A Gathering Storm by Joanna Chambers, which is historical. I haven’t decided if I’m going to pick that one up or not, but the next contemporary, Broke Deep by Charlie Cochrane is already on my TBR list. 😉

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.

Home Fires (Common Law #4) by Kate Sherwood

Trouble comes to Mosely, Montana, from the outside world. When the residents of Mosely are left on their own, they can make things work. Sure, there’s always been a militia operating up in the hills, but they were small-scale—just survivalists doing their thing—until organizers came in from out of state. Now Jericho Crewe and the rest of the sheriff’s department are facing down a heavily armed band of fanatics, and the feds are busy elsewhere.
The odds are hopeless, but Jericho swore an oath to serve and protect the citizens of Mosely. He won’t walk away from that, even if Wade Granger’s begging him to run away somewhere and finally be together the way they always should have been.
But this time, it’s Jericho who refuses to leave Mosely, even if staying kills him.

Well, if things had to end… okay, so I’m still not happy about this series being over, but Kate Sherwood did an amazing job of wrapping things up for Wade and Jericho.

Jericho was so close to quitting, so close. Then things got even crazier in Mosely. So crazy that even Wade was ready to pack it up and move on, but Jericho couldn’t do it. Not when people he cared about were too close to getting caught in the cross fire, literally. There’s not a whole lot more to say than what you see in the description, except Wade blew me away in Home Fires. I honestly thought he was ready to call it quits, but then… yeah, you’ve gotta read this one to get the whole ‘Wade’ affect.

Common Law is the only series by Kate Sherwood that I’ve read. Actually, I’ve only read one other book by her and Mark of Cain kind of left me reeling. This series did the same in a whole different way. It also made me realize that I really need to add more books by this author to my TBR list. As I said in the beginning, I’m sad to say good-bye to these characters. There were a few that I wanted to get to know a little better and even more that I would have liked to ‘check in on’ to make sure they weathered through all the craziness that happened in Home Fires. They were all left in a pretty good place in the end though, so saying goodbye wasn’t quite as hard as I thought it was going to be. 😉