Loose Cannon (The Woodbury Boys #1) by Sidney Bell

Released after five years in the system for assault, streetwise Edgar-Allen Church is ready to leave the past behind and finally look to his future. In need of a place to crash, he’s leaning on Miller Quinn. A patient, solidly masculine pillar of strength and support, Miller has always been there for him—except in the one way Church has wanted the most.
With his staunchly conservative upbringing, Miller has been playing it straight his whole life. Now with Church so close again, it’s getting harder to keep his denial intact. As they fumble their way back to friendship after so many years apart, Miller struggles to find the courage to accept who he really is. What he has with Church could be more than desire—it could be love. But it could also mean trouble.
Church’s criminal connections are closing in on the both of them, and more than their hearts are at risk. This time, their very lives are on the line.

I almost skipped this one. Thank goodness another author/blogger/reader that I trust suggested that I pick up Loose Cannon, otherwise I would have missed an amazing story. 😉

I’m a huge believer in not judging someone from mistakes made in the past, especially those made when you’re young… within reason. First, they have to own up to those mistakes and not make excuses. Second, they have to want to make a better life for themselves. Church was that kind of person. He knew he screwed up and he was honestly ashamed of the actions that caused him to eventually end up at Woodbury. He was determined to make up for what he put Miller through and prove to himself that he was a better person… and not his father. Fate had different plans and there was literally no way that Church could have avoided the situation he ended up in.

I really liked Miller, but he frustrated me. Yet, ass frustrated as I got with Miller and his denial, I understood where he was coming from. That denial was engrained in him by his father and religion. There were times that I felt that Church deserved better, but so did Miller. His relationship with Church wasn’t the only thing that he was denying himself though. His fear of loosing everything kept him from seeing what he needed most and kept him from being truly happy. He almost lost it all.

The supporting characters in Loose Cannon were pretty amazing. There were very blurry lines between right and wrong and a lot of the characters fell into that gray area. I’m still not sure how I feel about a couple of them, which is just one of the many reasons why I can’t wait for the next book in the series. I’m pretty sure Tobias’ story is next, which is good. He was such a great, supportive, upbeat character. And then there was Ghost… it stands to reason that Sidney Bell would make readers wait to get to know him better, but I have a feeling that that wait is going to be torture.

At Attention (Out of Uniform #2) by Annabeth Albert

Lieutenant Apollo Floros can ace tactical training missions, but being a single dad to his twin daughters is more than he can handle. He needs live-in help, and he’s lucky a friend’s younger brother needs a place to stay. He’s surprised to see Dylan all grown up with a college degree…and a college athlete’s body. Apollo’s widowed heart may still be broken, but Dylan has his blood heating up.
It’s been eight years since the teenage Dylan followed Apollo around like a lovesick puppy, and it’s time he showed Lieutenant Hard-to-Please that he’s all man now—an adult who’s fully capable of choosing responsibility over lust. He can handle Apollo’s muscular sex appeal, but Apollo the caring father? Dylan can’t afford to fall for that guy. He’s determined to hold out for someone who’s able to love him back, not someone who only sees him as a kid brother.
Apollo is shocked by the intensity of his attraction to Dylan. Maybe some no-strings summer fun will bring this former SEAL back to life. But the combination of scorching desire and warm affection is more than he’d expected, and the emotion between them scares him senseless. No fling lasts forever, and Apollo will need to decide what’s more important—his past or his future—if he wants to keep Dylan in his life.
 

Saying At Attention was packed with emotion would be a huge understatement. Readers were introduced to Apollo in Off Base, the first book in Albert’s Out of Uniform series. He didn’t have a huge role in the first book, but from just that little page time, I knew I wanted to get to know him better. Be careful what you ask for? Not really, but I did get more frustrated with him in At Attention than I expected.

Dylan, on the other hand, I loved from the moment he was introduced. He was younger than Apollo, but not by too much. He had a firm grasp on what he wanted to do with his life and had definite goals. That aspect of his personality lessened the age gap between them even more. I loved his determination to keep things professional, but it was a losing battle for both of them.

As much as I liked Apollo, the way he treated Dylan was what frustrated me. His grief over what he had lost was understandable, as well as his fear of losing again. That’s the only thing that allowed me to forgive him for almost breaking Dylan’s heart. There were a lot of emotional twists and turns, some great supporting characters and a couple of adorable kids who didn’t take over the story, but added to it. The perfect mix.

There’s more to come in the Out of Uniform series and On Point should prove to be interesting. I can’t wait to see what Annabeth Albert has in store for Maddox and Ben.

Strays (Urban Souls #2) by Garrett Leigh

Work, sleep, work, repeat. Nero’s lonely life suits him just fine until his best friend, Cass, asks him to take on a new apprentice—a beautiful young man who’s never set foot in a professional kitchen. Despite his irritation and his lifelong ability to shut the world out, Nero is mesmerised by the vibrant stray, especially when he learns what drove him to seek sanctuary on Nero’s battered old couch.
Lenny Mitchell is living under a cloud of fear. Pursued by a stalker, he has nowhere left to run until Nero offers him a port in a storm—a job at the hottest restaurant in Shepherd’s Bush. Kitchen life proves heady and addictive, and it’s not long before he finds himself falling hard and fast for the man who has taken him in.
Fast-forward a month and a neither man can imagine life without the other, but one thing stands in their way: a lifetime of horrors Nero can’t bring himself to share with Lenny. Or can he? For the first time ever, happiness is there for the taking, and Nero must learn to embrace it before fate steps in and rips it away.

For the life of me, I can’t figure out why I’ve only read 3 books by Garrett Leigh because every single one I’ve picked up has blown me away. Even though it’s been almost exactly 2 years since I read Misfits, the first book in Leigh’s Urban Souls series, it didn’t take me long to remember exactly why I liked it so much. It also didn’t stop me from wanting to pick it up for a reread. Those 3 books have also proven that this author has a talent for taking broken characters and putting them back together, only to rip them apart again. *sigh*

Nero liked spreading himself thin. He floated from job to job within the Urban Souls brand with little or no down time. He also considered himself straight, but curious maybe? His attraction to Lenny made him reevaluate a lot about himself. Lenny was the polar opposite of Nero as far as personalities go. He was friendly and normally outgoing, until his stalker kept him constantly looking over his shoulder. Pairing him with Nero was a crazy idea, but evidently Cass knew what he was doing.

Speaking of Cass, one of my favorite parts of Strays was the time readers got to spend with him as well as Jake and Tom. I loved those guys, which is one of the reasons why I’m seriously thinking about a re-read of Misfits. The other is the way that they take care of their own, whether the recipients want it or think they need it. I’m not sure if there are any other books in the future for Urban Souls, but I do know that there are quite a few other Garrett Leigh books that need to be added to my TBR pile. Stay tuned. 😉

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