Hard Bitten by M.K. York

Rule number one: hands off the witness
As a newbie public defender, Mark Eliades is stuck defending DUIs. But when his latest client gets charged with felony arson, the result is a career-making case he has to win. The last thing he needs is to fall for his key witness. Any hint of impropriety and his credibility will be shot, along with Mark’s case. But the more time Mark spends with the jaded private investigator, the more the rules began to blur.
Tired of endless nights chasing people who don’t want to be found, private investigator Lukas Nystrom needs a change—and a guaranteed paycheck. When a high-profile contract with the state falls in his lap, he can’t screw it up. Even if it means ignoring his growing desire for the hotshot attorney who hired him.
Convinced their client is innocent, Mark and Lukas team up to investigate the crime. With the trial looming and every lead gone cold, they work relentlessly to uncover the truth. But keeping things professional while searching for evidence they need might just make this the hardest case they’ve ever taken on.

I’ve only read one other book by M.K. York – actually I think that Necessary Medicine and Hard Bitten are her only two books. I liked both, but I feel the need to warn anyone who is thinking about picking either of these books up that they were each a super slow burn romance. If you’ve read Necessary Medicine, you know that the romance between Eli and Neal spanned years. The time span of Hard Bitten wasn’t nearly as long, but for a lot of reasons, the romance between Mark and Lukas had to wait – but it was worth it 😉

I really liked both Mark and Lukas. They were both trying to make a difference in their own way. They also worked well together. In some ways, too well. The attraction was mutual, but neither one of them wanted to risk the case. Watching these two work through the growing attraction while keeping each other at a not so comfortable distance kept the pages turning.

I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for more from this author. 😉



Where Death Meets the Devil by L.J. Hayward

Jack Reardon, former SAS soldier and current Australian Meta-State asset, has seen some messy battles. But “messy” takes on a whole new meaning when he finds himself tied to a chair in a torture shack, his cover blown wide open, all thanks to notorious killer-for-hire Ethan Blade.
Blade is everything Jack doesn’t believe in: remorseless, detached, lawless. Yet, Jack’s only chance to survive is to strike a bargain with the devil and join forces with Blade. As they trek across a hostile desert, Jack learns that Blade is much more than a dead-eyed killer—and harder to resist than he should be.
A year later, Jack is home and finally getting his life on track. Then Ethan Blade reappears and throws it all into chaos once more. It’s impossible to trust the assassin, especially when his presence casts doubts on Jack’s loyalty to his country, but Jack cannot ignore what Blade’s return means: the mess that brought them together is far from over, and Ethan might just bring back the piece of Jack’s soul he thought he’d lost forever.

Just a quick FYI – I have one really, really big complaint with Where Death Meets the Devil… I want more… I would most definitely not object to a sequel (or 2 or 3 😉 )

I honestly have no idea where to begin with this review. I have to admit, I wasn’t sure how I felt about this book in the beginning. There are a few unique twists to Where Death Meets the Devil, the most notable is the fact that the chapters alternate between “Then” and “Now” and that’s exactly how they were titled. At first, I wanted to hurry up and get through the “Then” chapters to get back to where the previous “Now” chapter had left off… then, it got to the point where I didn’t want the “Then” chapters to go by quite so quickly. It was like an entire book full of mini cliff hangers and that’s not an exaggeration.

Those “Then” and “Now” chapters were more than just a way to give readers a glimpse into the past, they built the suspense. There were times that you thought you were missing something, only to realize that you weren’t supposed to know everything. Where Death Meets the Devil wasn’t only hard to put down, it kept you on your toes.

Even though I’m a huge fan of books that give readers more than one POV, that wouldn’t have worked with Jack and Ethan. Having Ethan remain a mystery throughout the book made it more intense and in many ways brought the reader even further into the story.

Where Death Meets the Devil is one of those books that will stay with you for a while. I’ve read a couple of really good suspense books in the last few years and this one is pretty close to the top of my list of must reads that I want to recommend to everyone. It’s also one that I’m sure I’ll probably re-read. Especially since the author recently revealed that we’re going to be getting more from Ethan and Jack. ❤

Losing It (Ringside Romance #4) by Christine d’Abo

Finn Miller doesn’t do social. He works his IT job from home as often as he can to avoid people. If it weren’t for his weekly training sessions at Ringside Gym, he might never leave his apartment. And he only does that because of Leo, the gym member he’s in love with. When Finn gets talked into attending a speed dating fundraiser at the gym, his greatest wish is to have the courage to try to say something—anything—to Leo.
Justin McCormick has spent most of his adult life being used, whether playing a corporate heavy, or acting as guard dog for his ward. So when he leaves Vancouver for a fresh start in Toronto, he doesn’t quite know what to do with himself.
The moment Justin sees Finn at a speed dating event, he knows there’s no way he’ll make it without a little help, so he offers to coach Finn on the art of conversation. What he doesn’t count on is his unexpected attraction to this shy boxer, or his fear that if Finn gets his way, Justin might lose out on his best chance at love.

If this series had to end, I’m glad that it ended with Justin… and trust me, I never thought I’d be saying those words. He was most definitely not my favorite character when he was introduced in Faking It, the second book in the Ringside Romance series. Up until the very end of Max and Grady’s story, he played the “bad guy” and he was more than a little convincing. For the record, I love it when an author makes me fall for a character that I never expected to even like. 😉

Justin’s trying to turn his life around, which is how he ended up in Toronto. He never expected to get the help he know he didn’t deserve from Grady and his friends. He also didn’t expect to fall for someone he was only trying to help. Finn turned out to be just as clueless as Justin in Losing It. He thought that Leo was who he really wanted, but Justin (and pretty much everyone else) knew that Leo wasn’t good enough for him. Of course, Justin didn’t think he was good enough for Finn either. *sigh* Both these guys needed a huge hug and a healthy dose of self confidence – which is another thing I never thought I’d say about Justin.

Everyone from the previous books in the Ringside Romance finale, which was only fitting. It was great to see them all happy, whole and thriving. I’m sorry to say goodbye to this crew, but the author did an amazing job of bringing things to a satisfying end.

Relief Valve (The Plumber’s Mate Mysteries #2) by J.L. Merrow

If you dig up the past, be prepared for some dirt to stick.
The relationship between Tom Paretski, a cheeky plumber with a gift for finding hidden things, and PI Phil Morrison may only be a few weeks old, but already it’s under attack. Tom’s friends and family are convinced the former bully isn’t good enough for him, and they’re not shy about saying so.
Then Tom’s prickly older sister, Cherry, is poisoned at her own engagement party. Tom’s left reeling and not knowing who to suspect. Could it be her new fiancé, Gregory, a cathedral canon with an unfortunate manner and a taste for taxidermy? Or someone from her old writers’ circle, which she left after a row? Or could the attack be connected to her work as a barrister? Meanwhile, Tom’s honorary auntie’s left him a gag gift from beyond the grave that could be more significant than anyone knows.
Phil’s fighting against the clock to solve the case before somebody ends up dead. And with the poisoner hiding a dark secret, Phil’s terrified Tom could have been the target all along.

Tom and Phil, Gary and Darren and now Cherry and Gregory plus a crazy, eccentric aunt with a somewhat sordid past thrown into the mix… so much happened in Relief Valve, I’m not quite sure where to start.

I’ve loved Tom from the beginning and Phil is kinda growing on me. Since Tom is totally smitten with him, I guess I can give him the benefit of the doubt. That’s more than I can say for Tom’s family once they realize who he’s dating. Seems Phil has a bit to make up for, but readers already knew that.

There’s more than one mystery happening in Relief Valve and more than a couple of revelations. Cherry’s life is in danger and no one really knows who may have it out for her. There’s a lot about her that Tom doesn’t know, which makes it hard for him to figure out whose secret is the most important and there’s a lot of them in Relief Valve.

As the tension rises, even more drama unfolds and it takes awhile for things to settle enough to figure out his own personal mystery. Heat Trap is next and for Tom, the real mystery continues. 😉

Trick Roller (Seven of Spades #2) by Cordelia Kingsbridge

It’s the height of summer in Las Vegas. Everyone believes the serial killer Seven of Spades is dead—except Levi Abrams and Dominic Russo—and it’s back to business as usual. For Levi, that means investigating a suspicious overdose at the Mirage that looks like the work of a high-class call girl, while Dominic pursues a tough internship with a local private investigator. The one bright spot for both of them is their blossoming relationship.
But things aren’t so simple. Soon Levi is sucked into a dangerous web of secrets and lies, even as his obsession with the Seven of Spades intensifies. Dominic knows that Levi isn’t crazy. He knows the Seven of Spades is still out there, and he’ll do anything to prove it. But Dominic has his own demons to battle, and he may be fighting a losing war.
One thing is certain: the Seven of Spades holds all the cards. It won’t be long before they show their hand.

I know that you are used to me recommending not to skip books in a series, especially one that centers on one couple and the story builds from book to book. Trust me when I say that Seven of Spades is most definitely one of those series. Trick Roller starts pretty much where Kill Game took off and if you haven’t read the first book, you will not appreciate the other… like I said, trust me.

So much happened in Trick Roller that I don’t want to give anything away. The mystery and suspense in this book is just as important as the relationship between Levi and Dominic. Levi has secrets and Dominic is fighting demons, but they have to overcome all of that to stay one step ahead of the latest threat and the Seven of Spades, even though he’s been suspiciously quiet.

One thing’s for sure, Cash Plays, the next book in the Seven of Spades series can’t come soon enough. Can you say cliff hanger? Yeah, Trick Roller most definitely went there…

Romantic Behavior (Bad Behavior #4) by L.A. Witt & Cari Z

Detective Andreas Ruffner is no fool—he’s found a man who loves him, puts up with him, and has stuck with him through hell and back, and it’s time to put a ring on it. Darren Corliss is the love of his life, and he wants the whole world to know it.
Now the fun part—the wedding!
Well, after the not-so-fun part of planning the wedding in between dealing with overbearing and impossible-to-please family members. With future mothers-in-law driving them both up a wall, the guest list growing out of control, and the wedding getting ever more complicated, Darren and Andreas have to wonder if they’re in over their heads.
But they’re going to make it to the altar if it kills them . . . and at this rate, it just might.

I admit it, I’m never really happy when a series comes to an end. However, if it does have to end (which most of my beloved series eventually do) Romantic Behavior is a perfect example of how it should be done (in my opinion anyway 😉 )

Andreas and Darren have been through so much, it’s about time they get their HEA. Nothing comes easy for them though, not even something as deceptively simple as planning a wedding. There are in-laws, outlaws and everyone in between. I was beginning to wonder if they could actually pull it off.

These two were determined though and with the love and support of everyone that mattered, they finally reached their well deserved HEA. I’m still sad to say good-bye to one of my favorite romantic suspense M/M couples, but I have no doubt that this dynamic writing duo will be bringing us more amazing couples (either together or on their own) to fall in love with in the future. 😉

Tribute Act (Porthkennack #8) by Joanna Chambers

Nathan Bridges hadn’t intended to settle down in his home town of Porthkennack—he just ended up staying after saving the family business from ruin. The truth is, Nathan can’t stop himself from stepping in when problems arise. He’s a fixer, the man everyone turns to. But even fixers can’t solve everything.
When Nathan’s sister needs an organ transplant, it’s his stepbrother, Mack, who the family turns to as Rosie’s only potential living donor. Nathan’s curiosity about the stepbrother he’s never met turns to shock when he realises that Mack is his latest—and hottest ever—one-night stand.
Nathan and Mack agree to forget their single night together, but that’s easier said than done. When Mack moves in to Nathan’s place to recuperate after surgery, it’s not just the sexual tension between them that keeps growing. Against all the odds, and despite Mack’s wariness of intimacy, the two men grow close enough that Nathan begins to wonder what it would take to mend the rift that’s kept Mack and his father estranged for over a decade . . . and whether Mack might consider staying with Nathan in Porthkennack for good.
Every time I pick up a new book in this series, I think I found my favorite. The thing his, at 9 books in, I really don’t think I can pick just one. They all add a new layer to life in the small town of Porthkennack. Even though they can all easily be read as a standalone, every once in a while readers get a glimpse of previous characters. What’s even more fun is that since the books in the series are written by several different authors, those glimpses add even more layers.
Over the past several weeks, I’ve read a couple of books that involved relationships between family members that aren’t exactly related. Tribute Act was the first. Under other circumstances, this might have bothered me, but Nathan and Mack grew up not even knowing each other. I guess what I’m getting at is, don’t let the familial relationship turn you away from this one. There was so much more to this story than that.
I loved these guys. Nathan and Mack didn’t just jump into a relationship. I liked the slow burn, even though they had a previous encounter before they knew their connection to each other, they didn’t jump into anything. They came from incredibly different backgrounds, which was kind of sad because Nathan had everything Mack didn’t, including the love and support of Mack’s father. (Just a side note, I really didn’t like the guy…) I loved Nathan’s mom though and his sister was great. What she was going through gave her a totally different perspective than most kids her age.
The next book in the Porthkennack series is One Under by J.L. Merrow, who was the author who began the series with Wake Up Call. I can’t wait to see what she has in store for the next set of characters.

How to be a Normal Person by T.J. Klune

Gustavo Tiberius is not normal. He knows this. Everyone in his small town of Abby, Oregon, knows this. He reads encyclopedias every night before bed. He has a pet ferret called Harry S. Truman. He owns a video rental store that no one goes to. His closest friends are a lady named Lottie with drag queen hair and a trio of elderly Vespa riders known as the We Three Queens.
Gus is not normal. And he’s fine with that. All he wants is to be left alone.
Until Casey, an asexual stoner hipster and the newest employee at Lottie’s Lattes, enters his life. For some reason, Casey thinks Gus is the greatest thing ever. And maybe Gus is starting to think the same thing about Casey, even if Casey is obsessive about Instagramming his food.
But Gus isn’t normal and Casey deserves someone who can be. Suddenly wanting to be that someone, Gus steps out of his comfort zone and plans to become the most normal person ever.
After all, what could possibly go wrong?

T.J. Klune’s books are a lot of things. They can be emotionally draining, beautiful, gut wrenching, thought provoking, witty, hilarious, crazy, fantastical – whatever they are, I never walk away from one of this author’s books feeling the same as when I picked it up. Basically, they make you feel. Sometimes more than one emotion in the same book (sometimes the same chapter and occasionally the same paragraph…)

From the description of How to be a Normal Person, you can probably guess where the feels come from. Which begs the question, what exactly is normal? Gus desperately wants to find out almost from the very first time he meets Casey. The craziness that ensues in that desperate endeavor is one of the most entertaining reads I’ve picked up in a long time. In true Klune fashion, hilarity is not the only aspect of How to be a Normal Person. I walked away from my time spent with the residents (and visitors) of Abby, Oregon wanting to be best friends with almost all of them, but mostly Gus.

I honestly could go on and on and on… but it wouldn’t come close to the full experience of How to be a Normal Person. I’m not sure why it took me so long to read this one, but I can pretty much guarantee that it will be added to my re-read list. Especially since there’s a sequel in the future. If you have yet to pick up a book by T.J. Klune, you can start here. Or, like me, you can start with Bear, Otter and the Kid, or Wolfsong, or The Lightning Struck Heart, or… anywhere. Just don’t deny yourself any longer. You can thank me later. 😉

Two Feet Under (Lindenshaw Mysteries #3) by Charlie Cochrane

Things are looking up for Adam Matthews and Robin Bright—their relationship is blossoming, and they’ve both been promoted. But Robin’s a policeman, and that means murder is never far from the scene.
When a body turns up in a shallow grave at a Roman villa dig site—a body that repeatedly defies identification—Robin finds himself caught up in a world of petty rivalries and deadly threats. The case seems to want to drag Adam in, as well, and their home life takes a turn for the worse when an ex-colleague gets thrown out of his house and ends up outstaying his welcome at theirs.
While Robin has to prove his case against a manipulative and fiendishly clever killer, Adam is trying to find out which police officer is leaking information to the media. And both of them have to work out how to get their home to themselves again, which might need a higher intelligence than either a chief inspector or a deputy headteacher.

I love everything about this series. I love Adam and Robin. I love the fact that no matter how far removed from one of Robin’s cases Adam seems to be he always seems to get caught in the middle. I love the crazy, annoying, adorable characters that drive both Adam and Robin nuts – even though they love them dearly. And I absolutely adore Campbell (their lovable Newfoundland) who once again saved the day, even if it wasn’t exactly a life or death situation. He’s way more perceptive than anyone gives him credit for. 😉

When Robin is transferred, it isn’t exactly into friendly territory. No one really trusts him and that makes it hard for him to know exactly who he can trust. There may be a few more bad apples among his new fellow officers that need to be weeded out, but the case must go on. Luckily, he has a couple of co-workers who step up and make his job just a little bit easier. It still takes his team a while to figure out exactly who the bad guys are. The thing is, even the ‘good’ guys aren’t perfect in Two Feet Under.

I can’t wait to see what Charlie Cochrane has in store for Robin and Adam next. Lindenshaw Mysteries is turning into one of my favorite cozy mysteries – at least in this genre. The characters are witty and fun and the who-dun-it aspect takes a little bit of figuring out on the reader’s part as well. 😉 


Pressure Head (The Plumber’s Mate Mysteries #1) by J.L. Merrow

Some things are better left hidden.
Tom Paretski’s not just a plumber with a dodgy hip courtesy of a schoolboy accident. He also has a sixth sense for finding hidden things. Called in by the police to help locate a body near Brock’s Hollow, he’s staggered to encounter Phil Morrison, his old school crush—and the closeted bully whose actions contributed to Tom’s accident.
Phil’s all grown up now, and Tom’s unwilling attraction to him is back with a vengeance. Phil’s now openly gay—and what’s more, he’s interested in Tom’s personal charms as well as his psychic talents. As a private investigator called in by the dead woman’s parents, Phil is sceptical about Tom’s unusual gift, but nevertheless quick to spot its potential to aid him in his work.
The further they go with the investigation, the less they can ignore their shared past, and the more the pressure and the heat build between them. But Tom isn’t certain he wants to know the secrets he’s helping to uncover, while there’s a murderer on the loose who won’t hesitate to kill again—and this uneasy couple is moving right into his sights.

Pressure Head was previously published, but I missed the series the first time around. Not sure what’s been updated since the first go around, but regardless, I fell in love with Tom from the first chapter. 😉 Phil? Well, let’s just say he now has the potential to grow on me…

This book was full of things I love in a book. A solid mystery with a bit of danger, a paranormal aspect, a complicated relationship with potential for romance and a fair amount of humor.

Tom’s got a pretty good relationship with the local police and Phil basically has a good relationship with pretty much no one. He’s a bit prickly to say the least, but that doesn’t stop Tom’s attraction to him. It doesn’t erase from his memory what happened when they were both younger. The thing is, it turns out the attraction goes both ways.

Regardless of the attraction, this wasn’t an instant love kind of story. There was a lot that Phil had to make up for and there were times that Tom felt like he was just being used for his “gift”. He was used to finding whatever was “lost” and going back to his real job. It didn’t take Phil long to realize that Tom’s talent could be a huge advantage during the whole investigation process. In some cases he discovered more than he bargained for.

I’m so glad that this series continues. The next book in the Plumber’s Mate Mysteries line up is Relief Valve. I personally can’t wait to see what J.L. Merrow has in store for Tom and Phil next.