Good Boys (The Solomon Mysteries #1) by Keelan Ellis

Having risen through the ranks of the Baltimore City Police Department to the elite Homicide unit as an out gay man, Paul Solomon has always prided himself on his integrity and self-reliance. As the last vestiges of his failed eight-year-long relationship fall away, Paul finds himself adrift, forced to rely on others to help him find his footing again.
When Paul and his partner, Tim Cullen, are called to the scene of a double murder of two high school students on the city’s west side, Paul finds the lives and deaths of the two boys hitting closer to home than he’d expected. With his personal life in upheaval, he struggles with the perspective needed to untangle the web of secrets and lies that led to their demise.
While working his way through the complicated case, Paul starts getting his life back together. After a date with an enigmatic young man takes a dark turn, he reaches out to an old flame who brings some much-needed lightness to his life. But Paul finds that relationships, like murder investigations, are never as simple as he’d like.

I like a good mystery. A mystery with a touch of romance is even better. Good Boys even had the extra bonus of taking place in Baltimore and since that’s really close to where I grew up, it made the first book in the Solomon Mysteries even more interesting.

There was a lot going on in Good Boys and some of that went beyond the mystery behind the boys’ murder. Paul’s personal life gets even more complicated with a man from his past and another he can’t get out of his head. I’m not a huge fan of love triangles and I know who I want Paul to end up with, but I’ll just have to wait and see where things go… Keelan Ellis has her work cut our for her if she plans on winning me over. 😉

Good Boys was a great start to the Solomon Mysteries. It didn’t slow down much, between the mystery, romance, tough issues and danger – it was pretty easy to keep the pages turning. I can’t wait to see where this series goes from here. Since this was my first book by Keelan Ellis, I may have to check out some of her other books while I’m waiting.

 

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The Queen & the Homo Jock King (At First Sight #2) by TJ Klune

Do you believe in love at first sight?
Sanford Stewart sure doesn’t. In fact, he pretty much believes in the exact opposite, thanks to the Homo Jock King. It seems Darren Mayne lives for nothing more than to create chaos in Sandy’s perfectly ordered life, just for the hell of it. Sandy despises him, and nothing will ever change his mind.
Or so he tells himself.
It’s not until the owner of Jack It—the club where Sandy performs as drag queen Helena Handbasket—comes to him with a desperate proposition that Sandy realizes he might have to put his feelings about Darren aside. Because Jack It will close unless someone can convince Andrew Taylor, the mayor of Tucson, to keep it open.
Someone like Darren, the mayor’s illegitimate son.
The foolproof plan is this: seduce Darren and push him to convince his father to renew Jack It’s contract with the city.
Simple, right?
Wrong.

How can you possibly take a book with a title like The Queen & the Homo Jock King seriously? If you’re asking yourself that question, you obviously haven’t read enough books by TJ Klune. And if that is truly the case, you need to remedy that sooner rather than later. You can thank me later 😉

So evidently I inadvertently thought that I read The Queen & the Homo Jock King – but I obviously hadn’t. Don’t judge! I read a lot of books during the course of a year and it happens… The important thing here is that I have now officially read Sandy and Darren’s book and I will never be the same. Slightly dramatic I know, but, again… only someone who has “met” Paul, Vince, Sandy, Darren and the rest of their motley crew could possibly understand. Just as there are some things that can’t be unseen, there are things that can’t be unread and in the case of TJ Klune’s books, can’t be unfelt. Happy feels, sad feels, heartbreaking feels, and yes, fairly ridiculous feels – they’re all included in the At First Sight series.

Readers met Sandy and Darren in Tell Me It’s Real, the first book in the At First Sight series. Everyone knows that Sandy and Darren are inevitable – except for Sandy and Darren. Well, at least Sandy. There’s history between them that no one knows about and since The Queen & the Homo Jock King is told from Sandy’s POV, readers only get his take on that history.

I have to admit, even though I didn’t get Darren’s side of things, I was a little scared when Sandy first made his deal. I just knew that there was more to Darren than Sandy knew and I didn’t want him to get hurt. Sandy getting hurt was off the table too, but no one is immune to “the feels” when TJ Klune is at the helm, so brace yourself…

There are a few twists and turns – a few expected, a few not so much. I ended up falling in love with Paul, Vince, Sandy, Darren, and everyone else all over again. There’s more to come though. Until You has already been released and a story for Kory/Corey is in the works, so stay tuned. 😉

Damage Control (Laws of Attraction #1) by Kate McMurray

Senate candidate Parker Livingston chose his political dreams over a future with the man he loved. He lives with constant regret about not having Jackson Kane in his life. Or his bed. And when a strange woman is found murdered in Parker’s apartment, Jackson is the only person Parker trusts to help clear his name.
Jackson never forgave Parker for the way their relationship ended. He moved on, built a name for himself as a criminal defense attorney and swore he’d never let heartbreak back in. But when Parker shows up on his doorstep, wild-eyed and handsome and desperate for his help, Jackson can’t say no. Parker is a lot of things, but he’s no murderer.
Forced back together, searching for answers, their attraction returns with a vengeance. Any distraction—personal or professional—could be deadly. The murderer is still at large, and he’s made it clear one of them is his next victim.

I love it when I’m reading a book and see all kinds of potential for another book because I think it’s a stand alone, only to find out when I finish that it is going to continue as a series. 🙂 Damage Control was the perfect start to the Laws of Attraction series.

Obviously, I really loved Damage Control. I loved Jackson from the start… Parker grew on me. I understood Jackson’s reluctance to trust him. Nothing about how Parker handled their past was good. You’re not supposed to treat people you love the way Parker treated Jackson. And then there was the way he broke up with him… let’s just say he had a lot to make up for.

Jackson thought long and hard about whether or not to take Parker’s case. Regardless of their past, he still cared for Parker and he didn’t want to risk doing anything that might be considered unethical. He knew that Parker wasn’t capable of murder though and he couldn’t trust anyone else to prove his innocence.

On paper, these two were not a match made in heaven. They were on opposite ends of the political spectrum; one came from money, the other worked hard for his accomplishments – love doesn’t adhere to those boundaries though and the one thing that they had in common was that they never got over each other.

This is the first book by Kate McMurray that’s found it’s way to my reading list, but it most definitely won’t be my last. Especially since I can’t wait to see what she has in store for readers next with Laws of Attraction.

 

John & Jackie

John and Jackie first laid eyes on each other when they were twelve years old. Now, seventy-one years later, Jack prepares to give his beloved husband the ultimate gift. Before he does, they’ll relive five key moments from their younger lives together over the course of a single afternoon. From their first meeting and first kiss to the violence of an abusive father and the heartache of growing up, these moments have defined who they have become. As sunset approaches, John will show the depths of his love for the one man who has made him whole: his Jackie. They’ll soon learn there is no force more powerful than their devotion to one another.

I knew going into John & Jackie that there would be tears. I knew that TJ Klune would once again break my heart. So why did I choose to subject myself to this torture again? Simple. I’ve read enough of this author’s books now to know that I may get my heart broken but there’s healing too. Sometimes in the most unexpected ways.

Just because I trust him to give me a story that will be unforgettable, I’m ashamed to say that I put off reading John & Jackie for quite some time. Just in case, like me, you aren’t sure about putting your heart on the line, don’t pass this one up. Yes, this story is heartbreaking, but it’s also beautiful. The love and devotion between John & Jackie is an amazing thing to behold and I’m so glad I finally picked it up. Their story was beautiful and the strength that it took… well, you’ll just have to read John & Jackie’s story to experience the rest. Just know that there’s a lot more to this story than just the tears – even though every single one of them is worth it. It’s a story that you’ll walk away from and will probably never forget.

Michael, Reinvented (Delta Restoration #2) by Diana Copland

Cute hipster and interior designer Michael doesn’t do love—not after his ex screwed him over. Sex is a different story, though, and the gentle giant who’s painting the mural in the old mansion they’re restoring might be perfect hookup material. Gil is just Michael’s type with his solid muscle, wicked sense of humor, and the hazel eyes that seem to see into Michael’s soul.
Trouble is, Gil does do love. He wants romance and forever, and he’s set his sights firmly on Michael. Michael’s not going there again.
Yet when Michael is the victim of a vandal who’s been plaguing the men working for Delta Restoration, Renovation, and Design, Gil is the first person he tells. No matter how he fights it, it’s becoming harder and harder to deny he’s crazy about the guy—even if that thought terrifies him. But the true fear sets in when the criminal behavior escalates, and Michael realizes he might have lost the chance to tell Gil how he feels—forever.

Confession time! I read the first book in this series (David, Renewed) and neglected to leave a review. It’s worth mentioning for a couple of reasons. First, I hardly EVER do that. I try very hard to review every book I read. Second, Diana Copland holds a very special place in my reading life. A Reason to Believe was the very first M/M romance that I ever read and I haven’t looked back since (except to maybe read that particular book more than once. 😉 ) It looks like I’ll have to schedule a re-read of David, Renewed so I can write a proper review and make up for this uncharacteristic slip. *sigh* (It most definitely won’t be a sacrifice.)

Michael was irritatingly adorable with the way he tried to deny his feelings for Gil. He wasn’t fooling anyone, especially Gil. He thought he knew what he needed and something casual with Gil might have worked, but Gil was most definitely not after anything casual, especially with Michael.

Gil’s tenacity wasn’t pushy, but he wasn’t giving up either. He gave Michael very clear signals about his intentions and that scared the crap out of Michael. Gil was just what he needed. I loved watching his defensive walls crumble. There was a lot more to Gil than Michael had given him credit for and discovering those layers won me over as much as it did Michael.

I’m obviously loving this series so far and part of that is because of the sense of family that surrounds these characters. David and Jackson from David, Renewed are back, as well as the rest of the guys from the first book. I can’t wait to get to know them all better as the Delta Restoration series continues.

Tell Me It’s Real (At First Sight #1) by T.J. Klune

Do you believe in love at first sight?
Paul Auster doesn’t. Paul doesn’t believe in much at all. He’s thirty, slightly overweight, and his best features are his acerbic wit and the color commentary he provides as life passes him by. His closest friends are a two-legged dog named Wheels and a quasibipolar drag queen named Helena Handbasket. He works a dead-end job in a soul-sucking cubicle, and if his grandmother’s homophobic parrot insults him one more time, Paul is going to wring its stupid neck.
Enter Vince Taylor.
Vince is everything Paul isn’t: sexy, confident, and dumber than the proverbial box of rocks. And for some reason, Vince pursues Paul relentlessly. Vince must be messing with him, because there is no way Vince could want someone like Paul.
But when Paul hits Vince with his car—in a completely unintentional if-he-died-it’d-only-be-manslaughter kind of way—he’s forced to see Vince in a whole new light. The only thing stopping Paul from believing in Vince is himself—and that is one obstacle Paul can’t quite seem to overcome. But when tragedy strikes Vince’s family, Paul must put aside any notions he has about himself and stand next to the man who thinks he’s perfect the way he is.

TJ Klune’s books really need to come with a disclaimer… something about uncontrollable laughter followed by tears – sometimes simultaneously. Sometimes within the same chapter and more often than not, within the same paragraph. And for the record, reading it the second (or third…) time around doesn’t change a thing. I fall in love with Paul, Vince and Sandy – and everyone else all over again. Every. Single. Time. 😉

Paul is… well, Paul. There’s really no other way to explain him. His self-confidence and self esteem are at the same level.. zero. It’s not because he has people putting him down – he’s got a huge support system that includes family and close friends who tell him constantly how special he is. You don’t have to spend much time with Paul to realize that he is special and loving and as devoted to those he considers family as they are to him. He just doesn’t see in himself what others see, which is sad. Especially when Vince comes into his life, because there is no way in Paul’s mind that someone like Vince could possibly fall for someone like Paul. He spends the better part of the book afraid that it’s an elaborate prank. There’s no way that it could possibly be real.

Then there’s Vince, sweet, lovable, totally misunderstood Vince. I loved the guy and I loved that Paul saw in him almost from the start (at least after the unfortunate incident with the car) what others didn’t. Just like Vince saw in Paul even more than those who knew him best, Paul saw Vince in a way that no one else did. It became his ultimate goal to protect Vince from everything and everyone who even hinted at the possibility of hurting him in any way. Extreme, I know, but that’s Paul. He jumped first and asked questions later. That trait almost caused him to lose everything… almost.

Tell Me It’s Real was a light read in this author’s spectrum, but there were some parts that were heartbreaking… which is a trait that Mr. Klune sometimes carries to the extreme. Hence, the love/hate – author/reader relationship that I have with TJ Klune. You just never know what type of tears you will be shedding – so have the tissues close by regardless.

Somehow I inadvertently neglected to review Tell Me It’s Real the first time around, so that has now been rectified. Next up is The Queen and the Homo Jock King – which somehow I have no record of reading – but I know for a fact that I did. Stay tuned, because there will be “proof of reading” coming soon. 😉

Amending Plans by C.M. Corett

Luc Weston is employed by his uncle as a cartographer. He’s an office dwelling creator of maps and plans, but as his uncle’s heir, he must learn all aspects of the company. Specifically, surveying. The upside—spending time with the gorgeous surveyor, Rick Masters, in a cozy cabin. The downside—the cabin is in the woods. Luc hates nature, and nature hates him. He’s got the injuries and bites to prove it. How can he impress Rick in such a foreign and hostile environment?
Rick Masters can’t believe he has to babysit the boss’s privileged nephew for two weeks. Come on, the man turned up for a mountain survey wearing skinny jeans and toting a suitcase on wheels. But Luc’s attitude and self-deprecating humor has surprised him. Perhaps he’s misjudged him? He’s nothing like the robust outdoorsmen Rick is usually attracted to, and yet…those skinny jeans sure hug him in all the right places. But Rick has a plan for his life, and a man like Luc Weston could never be part of it. No way!CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1

If you’re in the mood for a short sweet read, with a touch of humor and two characters who are total opposites, but totally perfect together, then Amending Plans will be right up your alley. 😉

Luc is just as described, a tad nerdy, totally at home in his city environment and a total klutz when it comes to anything outdoorsy. Rick was the total opposite, more comfortable outdoors and at home in the woods – the more rustic the accommodations, the better. There was no possible way that these to were even remotely compatible. Yet…

Luc has lusted over Rick for a while, which is why he almost freaks when his uncle suggests that he shadows him. He doesn’t want to give Rick a bad impression of him – but impressing him isn’t remotely possible. Except that’s exactly what he ends up doing, even though he thinks he’s totally screwed things up. It’s Luc’s personality and attitude that eventually win Rick over. Yet, they still have a few minor obstacles in their way to a HEA.

This was my first CM Corett read, but I’m pretty sure that I’m going to be checking out what else she has to offer. Happy reading!

Lock Nut (The Plumber’s Mate Mysteries #5) by J.L. Merrow

Tom Paretski, plumber with a talent for finding hidden things, and his private investigator fiancé Phil Morrison have been hired to locate a runaway husband, Jonathan Parrot. The job seems simple enough—until their quarry turns up dead in a canal, and a photofit of Tom’s face is splashed all over the news, making him chief suspect.
The widow, petite ex–porn star Lilah Lovett, is convinced her husband was killed by his gay lover, but Tom and Phil aren’t so sure. Worried they may have precipitated Jonathan’s death, they’re determined to find the real killer. But with a web of incestuous ties linking the suspects, it’s hard to know who to trust. Especially when a second victim dies a gruesome death.
Meanwhile, with their wedding looming and them sharing a house now, Tom’s worried it may all be too much, too fast. The last thing he needs are the mixed messages Phil seems to be sending out. They’ll need to get back on the same track if they want to make it to their honeymoon together—and alive.

Another great mystery and another case of miscommunication. If I didn’t love these two so much, I might have gotten a tad aggravated with them. *sigh*

Honestly, I think my aggravation stems from the fact that I’ve always liked Tom and his sense of humor. When he gets so wrapped up in himself and acts like he’s not being treated fairly… that just doesn’t fit with the part of his personality that I fell in love with. I’m just not used to liking Phil more than Tom, but I guess that explains why Tom loves him so much. Regardless of my on again, off again feelings toward Tom, Lock Nut was a great addition and fitting end to the series. (Although I wouldn’t object to checking in on them in the future 😉 )

There was a lot going on in this book, especially where the mystery was concerned. I can honestly say that I didn’t figure out the who of the “who-dun-it” until close to the end, but I don’t want to give anything away. You’ll just have to pick up Lock Nut and follow the trail to the bad guy yourself.

There were a couple of HEAs by the end of this one and everything was wrapped up quite nicely. It took Tom and Phil awhile, but I think the journey was worth it.

Roped In (Clean Slate Ranch #2) by A.M. Arthur – Bout of Books 22 Review

For Colt Woods, Clean Slate Ranch is home. The dude ranch in Northern California helped him heal from a devastating breakup. So when his ex-Dom, the man who broke his heart, waltzes onto the ranch, Colt doesn’t know how to deal.
A research job at a nearby ghost town brings history PhD Avery Hendrix to Clean Slate. He’s not in town forever, but it doesn’t take long for him to feel the familiar draw to Colt. When they find out they’ll be sharing a cabin on the ranch, it’s all Avery can do to stop himself from bending Colt over a saddle right then and there.
In such close proximity, Colt’s and Avery’s old feelings come galloping back. Soon Colt is doing his master’s bidding again and loving every moment of it. And the pair may be in for the ride of their lives—if the dedicated professor and his rugged cowboy can learn to trust again.

The Clean Slate Ranch promises to be a great series. I loved the first book, Wild Trail. It was the perfect start to the series and was actually a perfect set up for Roped In.

At the end of Wild Trail, Colt’s world crashed around him. He arranged for Avery to come to Clean Slate Ranch to help one of his best friends work on the ghost town that was discovered near the ranch. Avery had no idea that Colt had kept a secret from Mack. A secret that was destined to destroy a relationship with the only family Colt thought he had left. That slip changed everything for Colt.

Avery honestly thought that Colt would have told Mack the truth in the time that they had spent apart. That secret was also one of the reasons why they split in the first place. Honestly, I can understand why Colt couldn’t find a way to tell Mack. He wasn’t even supposed to know the details of what really happened the day Mack’s boyfriend was killed in a robbery gone wrong. I also understood why Avery thought that Colt should confide in Mack. It really was a no win situation and I felt bad for everyone involved.

There was a lot of healing in Roped In and a lot of miscommunication. The BDSM was also a strong aspect in Roped In – which is kind of hit or miss for me in a romance, but it fit the characters.

If I had to rank the books in this series so far, Wild Trail would definitely be my favorite. I did enjoy Roped In though and I loved the set up for the next couples in the series. 😉

Murder Takes the High Road by Josh Lanyon

Librarian Carter Matheson is determined to enjoy himself on a Scottish bus tour for fans of mystery author Dame Vanessa Rayburn. Sure, his ex, Trevor, will also be on the trip with his new boyfriend, leaving Carter to share a room with a stranger, but he can’t pass up a chance to meet his favorite author.
Carter’s roommate turns out to be John Knight, a figure as mysterious as any character from Vanessa’s books. His strange affect and nighttime wanderings make Carter suspicious. When a fellow traveler’s death sparks rumors of foul play, Carter is left wondering if there’s anyone on the tour he can trust.
Drawn into the intrigue, Carter searches for answers, trying to fend off his growing attraction toward John. As unexplained tragedies continue, the whole tour must face the fact that there may be a murderer in their midst—but who?

I’m pretty far behind with my Josh Lanyon reads. Murder Takes the High Road is only the third book I’ve read by this author. (Fatal Shadows & Dangerous Ground) I have no idea why it’s taken me this long to pick one up, but now that I’ve gotten a taste for this author’s style, I’ll definitely be checking out more.

There was a lot going on in Murder Takes the High Road, but it didn’t make things confusing. It simply made the pages turn faster. There was the fact that Carter had to dodge his ex at every corner (along with his new significant other), the mystery of who exactly John was and what he was doing on a tour centered around a specific author who he obviously knew little or nothing about, the mystery of death apparently plaguing the trip and the actual tour itself.

The romance was sweet, the mystery was intriguing and the suspense was nail biting… I loved every minute of it. 😉 Twists, turns, mysteries within mysteries, a fairly unlikely suspect and just a little bit of romantic heat. The perfect mix. 😉