A Family Affair by Rob Loveless

It’s been said that if you love someone, set them free. If they come back they’re yours; if they don’t they never were. But what does it mean when they come back into your life—as your sibling’s significant other?
At twenty-five years old, Cal Adams has only ever truly loved one man, the one who broke his heart three years earlier—Andrew Hall. Since then, he has searched for meaningful relationships but cannot smolder the flames of the past his family remains unaware of.
As the holiday season approaches, Cal’s younger sister, Claire, brings her boyfriend home to meet the family. When she arrives, Cal is shocked to meet her boyfriend, who is none other than Andrew. In a darkly humorous tale, Cal decides to show his ex what he missed out on.

Have you ever read a book and gotten stuck on one annoying thing and never get past it? Yeah, that happened to me in this book. Really, it’s a trivial thing and if it had been a “knock my socks off” kinda read, I may have been able to ignore it, but… *sigh*

So, I think my problem with A Family Affair was that I never connected with anyone in the book. So, it’s probably a “me” thing, not a “book” thing and it happens. I just hate it when it does.

I think if Andrew and Cal had had a really deep relationship three years before this story takes place, it would have been a little better, but they didn’t – not really. To me this book was more of a train wreck than a “darkly humorous tale”, but again, that’s just me. A fair amount of readers saw the humor, I just didn’t get it. I didn’t really like a lot of the choices that Cal made, the only family member that he had that I liked was his dad. I can’t really say that I didn’t like his sister, but I felt sorry for her and didn’t really get to know her enough to say that I liked or connected with her. I suppose that if I was pressed to say that I “liked” anyone, it would have to be Cal’s best friend Sophie, simply because she was the only one that seemed to have any common sense. *sigh*

Okay, I think I’ve said enough. I really don’t want to bash this book, because, like I said, there were a fair amount of readers who really liked it. Maybe if I read it at another time, I’d have a different take on A Family Affair, because that’s happened too. Oh and for those of you who are curious about what annoyed me about this book the most… Cal kept referring to his mom as Mrs. Adams. That makes sense if it’s an unfamiliar character referring to someone else’s mom, but the son… in his head? It just threw me off every single time. *sigh*

Burn Zone (Hotshots #1) by Annabeth Albert

Smoke jumper Lincoln Reid is speechless to see Jacob Hartman among his squad’s new recruits. Linc had promised his late best friend he’d stay away from his little brother. And yet here Jacob is…and almost instantly, the same temptation Linc has always felt around him is causing way too many problems.
Jacob gets everyone’s concerns, but he’s waited years for his shot at joining the elite smoke jumping team, hoping to honor his brother’s memory. He’s ready to tackle any challenge Linc throws his way, and senses the chemistry between them—chemistry Linc insists on ignoring—is still alive and kicking. This time, Jacob’s determined to get what he wants.
Close quarters and high stakes make it difficult for Linc to keep his resolve, never mind do so while also making sure the rookie’s safe. But the closer they get, the more Linc’s plan to leave at the end of the season risks him breaking another promise: the one his heart wants to make to Jacob.

I’ve read several books by Annabeth Albert and I have to say that Burn Zone wasn’t my favorite out of all of them. (That would be Squared Away, but that’s another book in another series and pretty tough to beat… ❤ ) That doesn’t mean I disliked it though – it just didn’t blow me away.

I liked Linc and Jacob, but I have to admit that it took me a while for Linc to win me over and I still wasn’t “team Linc” by the end of Hotshots. Jacob was nothing but honest and sincere from the beginning. It wasn’t that Linc was dishonest, but he spent a lot of time hiding – even from himself. I also had a hard time with Jacob’s family, but you’ll have to read Hotshots to see if they redeem themselves for you or not. In my opinion, even by the end, they still had a long way to go.

The rest of the supporting characters were great and I’m looking forward to getting to know the rest of the crew, if that’s where the series takes readers. I’m hoping so because there were a couple that I’d really like to get to know better. 😉

 

Lucien (The Marchesi Family #1) by Silvia Violet – Instagram Tour Review

I never imagined the protector I longed for would be a mob boss who demanded complete control.
I shouldn’t have gone to Lucien’s office.
Once I looked into his eyes, I couldn’t leave.
He commanded me to kneel.
Beg.
Obey.
I couldn’t help myself.
One taste, and I craved more.
Lucien vowed to protect me from his enemies…
But who’s going to protect my heart from him?

This review is part of the Lucien Marchesi #BookstagramTour hosted by Gay Romance Reviews. Check out my Tour post for other Instagram tour stops and chances to enter the Giveaway on Instagram.

First a disclaimer… BDSM is not my go-to when picking up a romance, but, as with other genres, there are some authors that I can’t ignore when a new book is released and Silvia Violet is one of those authors. That being said, after finishing Lucien, I have no qualms at all about continuing The Marchesi Family series.

Strangely enough, I rarely hesitate when it comes to picking up a book that features a “bad boy” and being the head of a mafia family definitely falls into that category. More often than not, even the most heartless of characters is not quite as bad as they portray themselves to be. Lucien was no exception. He was dangerous and definitely someone to be feared, but he also swore to protect those who were most important to him. Peter wasn’t sure in the beginning, but it didn’t take him long to realize that he didn’t have anything to personally fear from Lucien. That didn’t mean that trust came easy, because it didn’t. There were few people in Peter’s life that he could trust – family included.

This is most definitely not a read for everyone, so be forewarned. The author pulls no punches when it comes to either the BDSM aspect or the mafia lifestyle. Lucien will do what ever it takes to keep his “family” safe and no one is immune from his wrath when they cross him.

The Marchesi Family series will follow the family and from what I’ve heard, the next book should prove to be interesting. 

Frog by Mary Calmes

Weber Yates’s dreams of stardom are about to be reduced to a ranch hand’s job in Texas, and his one relationship is with a guy so far out of his league he might as well be on the moon. Or at least in San Francisco, where Weber stops to see him one last time before settling down to the humble, lonely life he figures a frog like him has coming.
Cyrus Benning is a successful neurosurgeon, so details are never lost on him. He spotted the prince in a broken-down bull rider’s clothing from day one. But watching Weber walk out on him keeps getting harder, and he’s not sure how much more his heart can take. Now Cyrus has one last chance to prove to Weber that it’s not Weber’s job that makes him Cyrus’s perfect man, it’s Weber himself. With the help of his sister’s newly broken family, he’s ready to show Weber that the home the man’s been searching for has always been right there, with him. Cyrus might have laid down an ultimatum once, but now it’s turned into a vow-he’s never going to let Weber out of his life again.

This book is a perfect example of how mindset comes into play when you pick up a book. I first read this book in 2016 and couldn’t really connect with it. So why did I give Frog another chance? I kept hearing a lot of positive chatter from readers and authors who adored it. So much so that I couldn’t ignore the urge to give it another try. Not only was it like I was reading a totally different book this time around – I couldn’t really remember what it was that I didn’t like about it the first time around. ❤

What drew me in this time? Weber’s connection with Cyrus’s sister’s kids. He won me over almost as fast as he won her over with his patience and the way he didn’t talk down to them. He showed them respect and taught them the same. I guess, this time around, I saw what Cyrus saw in Weber from the beginning. Weber had always seen the best in Cyrus, he just never thought he was good enough for Cyrus before.

Basically, Frog was a sweet romance between two men who had cared about each other for years, but let distance keep things casual, but not really. I wonder how many other books out there I should give a second chance to… hmmm….

The Family We Make by Dan Wingreen

Spencer Kent gave up on love a long time ago. As a twenty-eight-year-old single father with a fourteen-year-old son, Connor, he knows his appeal to the average gay man is limited, and when you factor in his low self-esteem and tendencies towards rudeness and sarcasm, it might as well be nonexistent. But that’s okay. A man is the last thing Spencer needs or wants.
Tim Ellis’s life is falling apart around him. After four years of hard work at college, he finds himself blacklisted from the career of his dreams by the professor he refused to sleep with and abandoned by the boyfriend he thought he was going to marry. Even though he was lucky enough to land a job at a bakery, he still feels like a failure.
Tim and Spencer’s first meeting is filled with turbulent misunderstanding, but Tim makes a connection with Connor through a Big Brother/Big Sister program, and both men put aside their mutual dislike for his sake. By letting go, they may help each other find their way into a life they never could have imagined.

What was my initial thought when I finished The Family We Make? “Things that would normally bug me about a character’s actions I could let slide in The Family We Make, simply because these characters were so delightfully real. ❤ ” I let this one sit for a few days before writing this review, and I still stand behind that thought.

It’s taken me a while to figure out how to approach this review. I finally decided to ignore the things that might bother some readers, just know that there are all sorts of trigger points. What I can say is that those triggers or those things that both Tim, Spencer and others did didn’t make me like them any less, they just made Tim and Spencer more human and in turn, more relatable. I’m a firm believer in forgiving people who do stupid things when they’re, well, young and stupid. I’m also aware that there are things that a lot of people (myself included) would do that may seem out of character if it involved protecting a loved one, especially a child.

As much as I loved Spencer, he did not make it easy. He was brash, sarcastic and more often than not had no filter between his brain and his mouth. His first meeting with Tim didn’t go well and would have been a total failure, if not for Connor. I loved the interactions between both Connor and Tim and Connor and Spencer. Their love and concern for Connor was the thing that brought them together, but it didn’t happen over night. They both had too much personal history to jump into anything, especially they didn’t really like each other despite their physical attraction.

There was a lot to love about The Family We Make. I adored the relationship between father and son as much as I loved the budding relationship between Tim and Connor. The slow burn between Spencer and Tim was realistic and the sense of family was strong even before the characters realized what was happening. Was it a perfect story? Of course not. There were things that could have probably been left out, but even those things drove the story where it needed to go. This was my first Dan Wingreen book, but now that he’s on my radar, I’m pretty sure it won’t be my last.

A New Empire (Fog City #3) by Layla Reyne

Legacies were made to be rewritten.
Assassin Hawes Madigan wants to do right—by his family, his organization, his city, and the man he’s falling for, ATF agent Christopher Perri. But Hawes’s rules are being challenged by someone willing to kill for the old ways. To save his soul and his empire, Hawes must make an impossible decision: fight from the outside or bend the knee to win back his throne from within.
Chris is used to being the inside man, the one undercover. Now, he’s on the outside marshaling forces in support of the man and the ring of assassins he was supposed to take down. His mission shifted when he found something that’s been missing for ten long years—a home, with Hawes.
As Hawes and Chris make a dangerous play for control, the lines between allies and traitors blur. Trusting the wrong person could destroy the legacy Hawes envisions for the Madigans. But not trusting anyone, or each other, could mean lights out on their love and lives forever.
The King and King Slayer fight together in this thrilling conclusion to the Fog City Trilogy!

Sometimes there’s a really fine line between good and bad. I think that’s why I fall for “bad guys” in books more often than not. There’s no way that people should view an assassin as a “good guy”, but that’s exactly what Hawes is – or at least what he’s trying to be.

Hawes and Chris have come a long way since they first met in Prince of Killers. Their relationship took another turn in King Slayer and now all their cards are on the table. At least most of them.

On the surface, it seems crazy to sympathize with an assassin, but given Hawes’ situation, it was impossible not to. He was betrayed by someone he should have been able to trust. Someone who should have wanted to protect him, instead of destroy him. My heart broke for him in more than one situation, but he did have a few people he could trust with no question.

Chris had his own baggage that he needed to sort through and his situation was no less heartbreaking than Hawes’. These were two people who found each other at just the right time. Even if they were totally clueless in the beginning.

A New Empire was the perfect ending to the Fog City series. And… even though it’s the end, I hope that we get to see some of these characters again. This would probably be a good time to mention that this is not where you should start because A New Empire is definitely NOT a standalone. These characters (all of them) go through a lot to get to this point. So yeah, start with Prince of Killers. Since that one ends in a jaw-dropping cliff hanger, you’re lucky that you can then immediately pick up King Slayer. You’re welcome!

Hers to Tame (NOLA Knights #2) by Rhenna Morgan

As an avtoritet for the most powerful crime syndicate in New Orleans, Kir Vasilek doesn’t act without purpose, doesn’t speak without thought and never, ever loses his cool. The lives of his brothers, his family, depend on it. But then Cassie McClintock strolls back into his life, and staying cool is next to impossible. Cassie was the one who got away—and Kir is willing to break all his own rules to keep it from happening ever again.
It’s one thing to report on the Russian mafia; it’s quite another to sleep with one of them, especially one as dangerous, and as sinfully sexy, as Kir Vasilek. Even though the information he once provided helped make her career—and the memory of his touch still keeps her up at night—Cassie knows too much about his world to go down that path.
But when Kir reaches out for help after a rival family comes for one of his own, Cassie doesn’t want to say no, either to investigating a gruesome murder or to the heat that pulls her right back into his arms…and his heart. Taming Kir—and helping to save the family she’s come to call her own—is not the story she thought she’d write, but it’s the one she’s determined will get a happy ending.

Although I was sad when the Men of Haven series came to an end, it only took reading the first book in Rhenna Morgan’s NOLA Knights series to recover 😉  Yeah, His to Defend had me hooked and Hers to Tame sealed the deal.

Cassie was attracted to Kir, but after she heard disturbing things from her co-workers, she became leery and decided to keep her distance. That worked, until she ran into him again. And then Kir decided he wasn’t going to let her go again.

For me, the romance (almost) plays second to the family aspect between Sergei and those he holds close. Which includes his Haven brothers and their family and especially whoever Kir and Roman bring into the fold.

It took Cassie a while to get used to that kind of love and trust, but once she did, she no longer had any doubts about Kir. It was overwhelming at times, but not in a bad way. Kir helped her find herself along the way.

Mine to Keep is next and there was enough of tease at the end of Hers to Tame to make me wish for the release sooner rather than later. Roman’s next and given who his HEA is destined to be, things are going to get really interesting.

Marry Him by Marina Ford

It was meant to be a one-night stand, not “I do.”
Joe Kaminski likes to go with the flow, a good trait to have as a young artist living in London. His laidback approach to life makes him a fish out of water when he’s hired at P&B Designs, a high-powered PR agency. The money’s good, but with his poor planning skills, he doesn’t see it lasting.
Harry Byrne likes his life the same way he likes his PowerPoint presentations: structured. Known for his dynamic personality, Harry suffered a blow when his seven-year relationship fell apart, souring his mood. The last thing on his mind is getting into another relationship, especially with a man who can barely make it to the office on time.
They’re not even supposed to like each other. But five years later, Joe and Harry are getting ready to tie the knot. They should’ve known it was only a matter of time before everything starts to fall apart: obstructive friends, well-meaning but meddlesome family, a hovering ex, international incidents, fires, pregnancies, and an airport chase. It seems their “I do”s were doomed from the start.

My initial response when I finished Marry Him: “Well, that was frustrating, but fun nonetheless. I think I need a break from angsty, miscommunication reads for a little while though….” Believe it or not, I (almost) stuck to that promise 😉

As frustrating as watching all the missteps (mainly by Joe) that happened along the way to their HEA, it was a fun trip. I know some readers were equally frustrated by the fact that much of the story went back and forth between the past and present. It may have been easier to just tell the story chronologically, but since the story took place during a 5 year span, for me, that approach kept things interesting. Just be forewarned…

On paper, Harry and Joe would be labeled the least likely couple to work, but they really complimented each other… eventually. The humor is what drove this story for me. The supporting characters were great, but not always helpful. More often than not, they added to the chaos. A lot of this couple’s problems would have been resolved with just a little bit of communication.

This was my first Marina Ford book, but I seriously doubt it will be my last.

Chaser (Chaser and Raining Men #1) by Rick R. Reed

Caden DeSarro is what they call a chubby chaser. He likes his guys with a few extra pounds on them. So when he meets Kevin Dodge in a bar bathroom, he can’t help but stare. As far as Caden is concerned, Kevin is physically perfect: a stocky bearded blond. But Caden gets tongue-tied and misses his chance.
When Caden runs into Kevin one night on the el train, he figures it’s fate offering him a second shot. Caden manages to get invited back to Kevin’s place for a one-night stand that turns into the kind of relationship he’s dreamed about.
But the course of true love never runs smoothly—Kevin and Caden’s romance is no exception. When Caden returns from a few weeks away on business, Kevin surprises him with a new and “improved” body—one that fits Caden’s shallow friend Bobby’s ideal, but not Caden’s. Caden doesn’t know what to do, and his hesitation is just the opportunity Bobby was looking for.

Another Rick R. Reed book and another near miss. Honestly, the only person in this book that I cared about was Kevin. That may sound harsh, but it’s how I felt, even when Caden finally came to his senses. And don’t even get me started on Bobby.

To be fair, it was a good story, but not a great HEA. Sure, things worked out for Caden and Kevin in the end, but I’m not so sure I wanted it to work out that way… which is not the way I expect to be feeling when I reach the end of what I expected to be a romance. *sigh*

That being said, I haven’t given up on this author or this series. Am I a glutton for punishment? Maybe, but I’m also a fan of any author who can change my opinion of a character that I loath. Raining Men is next and it’s Bobby’s book. Right now the jury’s out on whether or not I want him to find a HEA. Rick R. Reed has his work cut out for him and I’m just curious enough to stick around and see if he can make it happen.

Hard Ride (Clean Slate Ranch #5) by A.M. Arthur

Five Weddings and a Fake Boyfriend
City slicker Derrick Massey has always had a thing for cowboys. So a roll in the hay with Kendall “Slater” Stamos during a rustic weekend wedding is more than A-OK. But when Slater’s forced to hang up his saddle for the season, Derrick surprises even himself with his proposition: be my fake boyfriend and get my family off my back about finding a permanent partner.
Though unexpected, the arrangement is a win-win. Derrick gets a plus-one for a slew of summer weddings and Slater gets a place to stay while he recuperates…with lots of casual fun in between. Which is just how the sexy cowboy likes it: casual. Yet it’s obvious the chemistry between them is anything but.
With the countdown to their “breakup” on, the more time the two men spend together. And the more it becomes clear that what they have could be real, if only they let it be.

I don’t think I could pick a favorite book in this series if I was pressed, but I can say that Hard Ride would be among my top choices. I can even forgive the fact that very little time was spent at the ranch. That’s mostly because the visits from all the “crew” made up for it… at least a little 😉

Slater and Derrick’s initial hook-up was casual, but it took them both a little off guard. It was something that neither one of them ever really forgot, especially when they were around each other. It made Derrick’s offer to give Slater a place to stay and recover easy. It also made Slater’s acceptance somewhat easy to accept.

It was fun watching these two men avoid the obvious. Neither one of them wanted their time to end, but Derrick was a little bit more than reluctant than Slater. He held secrets close to his chest that kept him from committing to anyone.

Once again, the sense of family in Clean Slate Ranch makes every book in this series a must read. It was especially true in Hard Ride, because with his found family, Slater found the acceptance that he needed and didn’t even know he craved. ❤