Growing Pains (Toronto Connections #3) by Cass Lennox

Gigi Rosenberg is living his best life: performances in the big city, side gigs at a dance company, a successful drag act, and the boy of his childhood dreams who now adores him. Even if the boyfriend part isn’t the sparkly ride of passion he expected it to be, life is sweet. So when his sister’s wedding calls him back to his hometown, he sees an opportunity to show the hicks from his past how wrong they were about him. Only, his boyfriend isn’t quite on board.
Brock Stubbs left their hometown and his parents behind for a reason, and the prospect of facing them again is terrifying. He swore he’d never go back, but Gigi has made it clear refusal isn’t an option, and Brock will do nearly anything for him. There’s just one deal-breaker of a problem: Brock promised Gigi he was out to everyone, including his parents. He lied.
It’s magical to run into the sunset together, but staying the course takes work. For Gigi and Brock, going home feels like the finale of a long, disappointing year. Sometimes love isn’t all you need.
 

If you’re paying attention, you may have noticed that I read the first book in the Toronto Connections (Blank Spaces) series, but not the second (Finding Your Feet) and now I’m reviewing the third. It’s not my usual squirrel brain hard at work, this time I skipped one on purpose. Not sure why, but Finding Your Feet just didn’t grab me, but Growing Pains did. In case you’re curious, I’ll probably skip The Wrong Woman too, but you never know…

Anyway, for what it’s worth, I’m really glad that I decided to read Growing Pains. I really liked Brock and Gigi’s story… for a lot of reasons. I’m kind of a sucker for a story that brings out the ‘momma bear’ in me and Brock did just that. It would have been easy to sympathize with Gigi in Growing Pains, and I did… kind of.

You’ll have to read the story to understand, but one of the reasons why I loved Gigi’s family so much was because they loved him, supported him and they were everything that Brock’s family wasn’t. What made me really respect them was the fact that they saw his faults and weren’t afraid to call him out on them. To Gigi’s credit, he may have complained a little, but he loved them for it. They weren’t perfect, but not many families are. The point is, I loved the honesty as much as I loved the unconditional love. On the flip side, I walked away from Growing Pains with absolutely no respect for Brock’s parents at all.

I may find myself going back to pick up the two books I skipped, but right now I’m fine with the taste of Toronto Connections I decided to read. You’ll have to let me know if I missed anything if you decide to read the whole series. 😉

Darkness (Common Law #3) by Kate Sherwood

darkness_500x750A murdered prostitute. An obvious suspect. Clear evidence. For once, Jericho Crewe has a straightforward crime to investigate, and Wade Granger isn’t involved.
It all seems so simple, but Jericho’s instincts won’t let him rest. As he investigates, he finds troubling suggestions that the murder is a part of something larger and more sinister. But working within the boundaries of the law may keep him from finding the truth. If Jericho doesn’t break the rules, an innocent man may rot in jail while a killer remains free to strike again.
Inevitably, it all comes back to Wade. Because who else knows as much about breaking rules? And who else knows Jericho the way Wade does—not wisely, but far, far too well?

This series really knows how to blur the lines between right and wrong. It’s pretty clear where those lines converge by the description of Darkness. It’s also getting harder for Jericho to ignore Wade’s twisted logic, especially when the law doesn’t seem to be on the right side of things.

Jericho doesn’t always follow the book, but outright breaking the law isn’t something he’s willing to do. Wade doesn’t have the same black and white vision that Jericho has and in Darkness, there doesn’t seem to be any other way to free an innocent man and keep the guilty man from walking away. This book puts both men (Jericho and Wade) on the line and the story is intense, in more ways than one.

I love the dynamic between Jericho and Wade in the Common Law series. Wade’s not any easier to figure out for the reader than he is for Jericho, but it’s obvious that there’s more to him than his shady dealings. It’s obvious he cares, which is what keeps Jericho coming back even though he knows it’s not the smart thing to do – which he’s reminded of on a regular basis by other characters who care about him. Jericho sees something in Wade that others don’t though and that’s what keeps me wanting them to find a way to get past those blurred lines.

Darkness was a turning point. A couple of mysteries were solved and Wade and Jericho are definitely getting closer, but Kate Sherwood isn’t done with them yet. There’s one more book left in the Common Law series and as anxious as I am to read Home Fires I’m not quite ready to say good-bye. *sigh*

 

Dating Ryan Alback by J.E. Birk

datingryanalback_500x750Ryan Alback has almost everything he’s ever wanted: a successful acting career, a dog who adores him, great family and friends, and a life outside the closet. The only thing missing is a boyfriend — but Ryan’s been burned by Hollywood relationships before, and he’s not eager to try one again.
Jason Santos has almost everything he’s ever wanted: a fulfilling career teaching middle school, a house in a city he loves, and parents who support him in every way. Too bad he can’t seem to forget the ex-boyfriend who rejected his marriage proposal.
When a talk show host launches a dating contest to find Ryan a boyfriend and Jason accidentally wins, neither of them expect anything to come from it. Yet somewhere between a disastrous massage and a mud sinkhole, they both start to wonder if this date could be more than just a public relations stunt. But before they can move into the future, they’ll both have to learn to let go of the past.

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1This is one of those super sweet romances that has a couple of characters who you can’t help but want to be happy. I have to admit though that I got a little annoyed at Ryan more than once…

Jason had no desire to enter the contest, much less hope to win, but his well meaning friend gave him no choice. Ryan was a ‘victim’ of the same kind of well meaning friend. The weekend date had absolutely no hope of going anywhere for either one of them, only it did… almost.

There was a whole lot that I liked about Dating Ryan Alback. The supporting characters were great, including the dog. The chemistry between Jason and Ryan was great too… when they weren’t trying to fight it. Honestly, the only thing that I didn’t like about Dating Ran Alback was Ryan. Well, to fair, I didn’t exactly not like him, I just didn’t like the way he jumped to conclusions. I could forgive him the first time, but… you’re just going to have to read this one for yourself and see if you feel the same way.

DragonFlyGreen3-5

 

Single Malt (Agents Irish & Whiskey #1) by Layla Reyne

singlemaltThe heart’s a resilient beast
Eight months after the car crash that changed everything, FBI agent Aidan Talley is back at work. New department, new case and a new partner. Smart, athletic and handsome, Jameson Walker is twelve years his junior. Even if Aidan was ready to move on—and he’s not—Jamie is off-limits.
Jamie’s lusted after Aidan for three years, and the chance to work with San Francisco’s top agent directly is too good to pass up. Aidan is prickly—to put it mildly—but a growing cyber threat soon proves Jamie’s skills invaluable.
Jamie’s talents paint a target on his back, and Aidan is determined to protect him. But with hack after hack threatening a high-security biocontainment facility, time is running out to thwart a deadly terrorist attack. They’ll have to filter out distractions, on the case and in their partnership, to identify the real enemy, solve the case and save thousands of lives, including their own.

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1I’ve got a few fellow readers/bloggers whose advice I take when they send me a book recommendation, no questions asked. That’s why that even though Layla Reyne was a new author, when I was told Single Malt was a book that I needed to read, I jumped on it. One book in and I can already tell that I’ll be pouncing on each book in the Agents Irish & Whiskey as soon as they’re available.

Aidan was broken, but he had a huge support system, which included his boss/sister-in-law. Jamie’s been attracted to Aiden for years, but out of respect for Jamie’s marriage he never acted on those feelings. Of course things get complicated when they become partners.

I loved the connection between Aidan and Jamie, but there were a lot of other things going on in Single Malt. There was danger, mystery, guilt and strong family/friend connections that introduce a lot of great characters that I can’t wait to get to know better. It basically looks like Agents Irish & Whiskey is going to have pretty much everything I love about romantic suspense.

Then there was the ending… let’s just say things are going to get really interesting and the second book in the series, Cask Strength can’t come soon enough.

DragonFlyGreen4-5

More Than Luck (Legendary Pairs #2) by Casey Cameron

morethanluckDrey Harper isn’t looking for love; he had more than enough heartbreak after a betrayal cost him everything five years ago. Now at 40, he’s the art director for the hit collectible card game Legendary Pairs. Between long hours at work and countless anonymous hookups, Drey’s life seems pretty full…until the day he meets Lucas Cho.
In the world of Legendary Pairs, 24-year-old Lucas Cho is a superstar. He plays for big money and parties like a rock star, and his arrogant swagger gets him what he wants, at the gaming table or in bed. But when a chance encounter with Drey in a crowded bar leaves him wanting more, all his fortune and skills count for nothing.
The company thinks Lucas’s glamorous playboy lifestyle is good for business, but it’s going too far–Lucas is spinning out of control, and Drey has been sent to clean up the mess and save Lucas’s sponsorship. With a major tournament coming up and Lucas’s contract with Legendary Pairs on the line, it’s up to Drey to keep him out of the bottle and walking that line.
For Lucas, the stakes have never been higher, but the game he’s playing has nothing to do with cards and everything to do with the stoic older man who’s captured his attention. Drey knows a relationship between them is out of the question–Lucas is too young, too reckless, too broken–but the more time he spends in Lucas’s company, the more he wants what he shouldn’t have in this steamy May/December romance.
 

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1So, par for the course, I read book 2, before even realizing that there was a book 1. I honestly don’t think it matters though. Of course I’m going to now have to go back and read Perfect Game 😉 As for Drey and Lucas’ story? There were things I loved and things that kept me wondering…

Okay, so I’ll apologize in advance for being a little vague, but I don’t want to give anything away. There were a lot of things in both Lucas and Drey’s past that didn’t bode well for their future together. Some of those things crept into the present. There were also some conflicts that just kind of resolved themselves. Those are the things that I wanted to know more about. I wanted some of those resolutions to be a little more detailed and not just ‘talked’ about. Other than that, I really liked Lucas and Drey together. They were good for each other in a crazy sort of way.

I also liked the supporting characters, especially Drey’s daughter. There were other characters that I liked in the beginning, but wasn’t quite sure about by the end. There was at least one character that I had the opposite reaction to. I kinda like it when that happens. 😉

This is the first Casey Cameron book I’ve read and she’s piqued my interest. I’ll definitely be checking out more of her books.

DragonFlyRating4

 

As I Am (All Saints #3) by A.M. Arthur

asiamWill Madden is healing.
Thanks to therapy and a growing support system, he’s taking baby steps into a promising future. One of those steps leads him to an online chat room, where he quickly bonds with fellow PTSD sufferer Taz Zachary.
Despite their virtual connection, Taz is initially freaked out at the idea of meeting Will face-to-face. A sexual relationship may be the last thing on his mind, but his craving for human interaction—and more of the way Will makes him laugh—gives him the courage he needs to take the next step.
In person, the chemistry between them is undeniable. But Will is hurt when Taz doesn’t seem to be in any rush to get him into bed. Still, acceptance, love and happiness all seem within reach for the first time in forever—until demons from the past threaten the future they both finally believe they deserve.

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1

My favorite so far in this series… hands down!

The All Saints series is one of three of A.M. Arthur’s series that have common threads. I love it when a series brings characters from previous books back. Especially when characters are as ‘broken’ as some of Arthur’s. It’s nice to check up on them. 😉 These books take things even further by keeping readers in touch with not only characters from the current series, but with characters from past series. It seemed like As I Am had even more ‘cameos’ than most, but I’m not complaining. ❤

I’m also pretty sure that Taz and Will might also come close to being the most broken couple that I’ve read in a while. Both of their back stories were heart breaking, but they were individually stronger than they gave themselves credit for. I ended up admiring them both for their courage. They had set backs and revelations were revealed that could have easily crushed them… and almost did. They held on though and learned to trust, not only each other, but people outside their tight inner circle. That circle expanded to include several supporting characters that readers had already met. As I Am made me fall in love with some of them all over again.

I’m pretty much caught up on the books in the series that are set in Wilmington, but I still have a few to go. If you want to read a few of A.M. Arthur’s thoughts on her Belonging, Restoration and All Saints series, you can visit her website. It kinda makes me want to start from the beginning 😉

DragonFlyGreen4-5

White Out (Seasons of Love #1) by Elyse Springer

whiteout_600x900Noah Landers wakes up one day with a headache and no memory of where—or who—he is. Jason, the man taking care of him, tries to fill in some of the blanks: they’re in a cabin in Colorado on vacation, and Noah slipped on ice and hit his head. But even with amnesia, Noah knows Jason is leaving out something important.
Jason O’Reilly is sexy as hell, treats Noah like he’s precious, and seems determined to make this the romantic getaway they’d apparently dreamed of together. But Noah’s more concerned that he’s trapped alone with Jason in the middle of a blizzard while his slowly-returning memories bring hints of secrets and betrayal.
Noah’s not sure what’s the truth and what’s a lie. But as he learns who he is—and who Jason is to him—he’s forced to reevaluate everything he believes about himself, about loyalty . . . and about love.

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1Full disclosure here… I’ve been dreading writing this review. So much so, I’ve even asked a couple of bloggers/readers for advice. Rest assured, it’s not because I didn’t like the book, because I did. No, I was just trying to figure out how in the heck I was going to review Whiteout without giving anything away. Once you read it, you’ll totally understand, but until then? *sigh*

The book opens with Noah waking up not knowing who he was. From the time he ‘wakes up’ until he finally regains his memory takes up the first part of this book. During that time little snippets of his memory return making him doubt the intentions of the man who claims to be someone he not only should trust, but someone he loves. The second half deals with the fall out from what he finally remembers. Yeah, things got kinda complicated.

This story was a lot more unique than I expected. Nothing about this story was what I expected. I loved the characters, even though the second half of the book didn’t give readers much time with Jason. That’s one of the only complaints I have with Whiteout, which isn’t much of a complaint since it worked for the plot. I’m also kind of hooked on Rent – which has more of a tie-in than just the series title – so I got pulled in even more. There’s also the great supporting characters, although I wasn’t sure about Sara for a while, she did finally grow on me.

This series is a mix of M/M and F/F stories that follow the seasons. Thaw is next and it features Abi, who we met in Whiteout. Actually, all the featured characters in the series were introduced in this book. Heat Wave is Sara’s book and Changing Colors features Tony. Although I’m not a huge fan of F/F books, I don’t want to miss any of this series. I’m also kinda hoping that we get to check in on Noah and Jason a time or two 😉

DragonFlyRating4

 

 

Long Shadows (Common Law #1) by Kate Sherwood

longshadowLA cop Jericho Crewe got the hell out of Mosely, Montana, when he was seventeen. Fifteen years later, he’s back, and everything is just as messed up as when he left. He planned a quick visit to deal with his injured father, but of course things are never that simple. Family complications, police complications, social complications—and, as always, Wade Granger complications.
Jericho and Wade had been so close, once upon a time. First friends, then more than friends—and then, after Jericho’s escape, nothing. Wade’s magnetism hasn’t been lessened by a decade and a half apart; even when Jericho learns that Wade is the prime suspect in the death of Jericho’s father, the old connection still sparks.
When Jericho’s newly discovered half siblings are kidnapped, he needs to trust someone to help him find them. Wade’s a terrible choice, but Jericho’s never been known for his good judgment. Anyway, he’d rather make a bad decision with Wade than a good one with anybody else.

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1A cop who comes back to the town he escaped when he was a teenager. A friend/ex-lover who never left but blurs the lines of right and wrong on a regular basis. Oh, this series is going to be fun. 😉

Jericho had no intention of spending a lot of time in the town he ran from. He didn’t expect to find out his father was dead under questionable circumstances or family members he didn’t know he had either. To say things got interesting would be an understatement.

Long Shadows had plenty of mystery, action and suspense. Although there was little or no romance, there was plenty of romantic tension. There was also an added connection between Wade, Jericho and Kayla, the current Sheriff. Which made things even more interesting.

There are at least 3 more books in the Common Law series – Embers, Darkness and Home Fires. I’m pretty sure things are going to heat up… no pun attended. 😉

DragonFlyRating4

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

Friendly Fire by Cari Z

friendlyfire_600x900Elliot McKenzie is the king of reinvention. Five years after losing his job and his lover and almost going to prison, his self-help program, Charmed Life, is more successful than he’d ever dreamed. He thinks he’s put his sordid past firmly behind him, until he starts receiving cryptic threats . . . and realizes it might not be as over as he’d hoped. 
Security expert Lennox West has been lost since a deadly skirmish in Afghanistan led to his forced retirement from the Army. His PTSD makes helping his ex raise their daughter a challenge. When his ex’s sister asks him to set her boss up with a security system, Lennox isn’t expecting anyone like Elliot McKenzie—a man who captures his attention and makes him feel relaxed for the first time since leaving the service.
But Elliott is dangerously stubborn. Even as the threats against him escalate, he refuses to involve the police, and Lennox fears that stubbornness could kill him. A battle of wills ensues that brings them closer to each other than either man expected. But if the threats turn real, they might not live long enough to get their future together.

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1I’ve read all the Panopolis books written so far. I really enjoyed Where There’s Smoke, Where There’s Fire and Where There’s a Will, which are set in a SciFi/Fantasy world. I didn’t know exactly what to expect from Cari Z in a contemporary setting, but she most definitely did not disappoint.

Lennox was a good guy. He was still friends with his ex-wife and had a good relationship with her family. His only real fault was not spending enough time with his daughter, but his PTSD had him terrified that he’d terrify her or worse, so it was hard to blame him. Because of his military background, he was also very good at his job, when the person he was trying to help cooperated. Which brings us to Elliot…

Elliot had a past he wasn’t proud of, but he was doing his best to make it right. Because of that, he tended to look past the worst in others. Plus, he needed people who looked to him for guidance in his self-help program to keep confidence in him. That’s a great attitude to have as long as someone wasn’t trying their best to harm him and anyone who got too close. It made Lennox’s job exceedingly difficult. Add to that the attraction that the men shared, you can imagine the frustration.

I really liked this story as a whole. There was plenty of action and suspense as well as some heated romance. The mystery wasn’t too complicated, but that didn’t bother me too much either. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going go back and check out some of Cari Z’s back list and wait patiently for what she has in store for readers next. 😉

DragonFlyRating4