Too Hot! by Avery Giles

Eli Johnson is not a hero. He’s just a guy who’s doing his best. His mother was a hero, though, and when she died, he dropped out of college to become a firefighter—a vocation she would have been proud of. He might not be able to save everyone, but he can do what she taught him: put more good out than bad.
Charlie Kinnear is definitely not a hero. When he ran into a burning building to save a trapped child, he was acting on instinct. He’s not expecting a medal, or for a handsome firefighter with a stunning smile to give him his oxygen mask. Charlie’s light-headed, and not from smoke inhalation.
Right as their romance begins, a serial arsonist terrorizes the city. As if that weren’t bad enough, Charlie appears at the scene of every fire. Eli hates to think it, but if someone wanted to get a firefighter’s attention—say, a certain sexy someone who coincidentally wandered into Eli’s life—what better way than by starting fires? Sparks are flying all right, and things may get too hot for Eli and Charlie to handle.

Too Hot! is Avery Giles’ debut novel and it’s not a bad start at all.

I loved both Charlie and Eli, even though Charlie was a mystery throughout most of the story. I had a hard time buying that he was a “bad” guy though, even when Eli wasn’t so sure. I never doubted him though and I have to admit that I got kind of aggravated with Eli when he did. I just knew that there was a logical explanation.

The author did a great job of keeping readers in the dark… even though they got Charlie’s POV. I liked that added suspense.

To be fair, I understood where both characters were coming from. Charlie had his reasons for keeping his secret and Eli had his reasons for suspecting him… They were both in a bad situation, but in the end they had each other. 😉

FYI – this author is now on my radar. I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next.

Advertisements

Building Forever (This Time Forever #1) by Kelly Jensen

Charlie King is doing fine. Sure, he’s a widower raising a teenage daughter who just got her first boyfriend, his book series isn’t writing itself, and he has a crush on his new neighbor — the guy next door. But everything’s just fine.
Simon Lynley is doing better. He moved to Bethlehem to fall out of love and rebuild his career. An affair with his neighbor isn’t part of the plan, but the attraction between them is too hard to ignore.
But when Simon’s ex follows him to Pennsylvania seeking reconciliation, and Charlie’s life starts to feel like a video on repeat, everything comes apart. Charlie worries that he’s failing as a father, and Simon is a distraction he can’t afford. Meanwhile Simon doesn’t know if he could survive being left again, and he hasn’t come all this way to make the same mistakes. But despite their fears, it’s only together that they’ll find the strength to slay old foes and build the forever they’ve been waiting for.

I think that there are more than a few parents out there – single or married – that think that they’re failing somehow. No one’s perfect, but Charlie feels like he’s floundering more often than not. He misses his late wife. She was his best friend and a true partner in parenting their daughter. He really needed the balance she provided when it came to his daughter’s teenage years. And he definitely didn’t need the distraction of his new neighbor.

Simon had a lot on his plate. A new job, a new home, new goals… he didn’t need to be distracted either. Some things you can’t fight though and his attraction to Charlie was one of them.

I felt for both these men. They needed each other, but they were each too guarded to let the other in fully. I liked both Charlie and Simon and I could see where they were coming from… but I couldn’t wait until they both gave in…

This is also one of those books that is enhanced by the supporting characters. I loved Simon’s friends and Charlie’s family was great too… with a couple of exceptions. I’m sure that the rest of the series can be read as stand alones, but since the characters in the next two books were introduced in Building Forever, I going to enjoy getting to know them better. Renewing Forever is next in the This Time Forever series, but I personally can’t wait to see how Kelly Jensen redeems a certain character in Chasing Forever 😉

Running Blind (Havoc #2) by S.E. Jakes

It’s impossible for a one-percenter motorcycle club member to simply walk away—and no one knows that better than undercover agent Bram, who’s almost killed for trying. His cover isn’t blown—yet—but it’s only a matter of time. The Heathens won’t be satisfied until he’s dead, so he decides to lay low and heal.
But when his younger brother’s disappearance throws a wrench into his plan, Bram ends up in Shades Run, a town ruled by the notorious Havoc MC. In less than twenty-four hours, Bram finds himself at the mercy of Sweet, Havoc’s president, as he throws himself into the undercover role of a lifetime: himself. A man who’s never belonged anywhere, and who will do anything to protect his younger brother.
When finding Linc seems impossible, Bram is torn between Sweet, Linc, and revealing his true identities . . . and there appears to be no way out. Once again, he risks it all trying to save it all. Only this time he’s got no backup to save him if he falls.

It’s been a while since I read and reviewed Running Wild, the first book in the Havoc series. I probably should have re-read Running Wild before I started Running Blind (and I probably will), but it didn’t take me long to catch up.

Bram was in a tough spot… he was working undercover and there were few people he could trust. Given his recent history, he most definitely shouldn’t be trusting anyone in a MC, but he needed to find his brother. Since Linc’s closest last known connections were to Havoc, he didn’t have much choice. He didn’t count on Sweet… and Sweet most definitely didn’t count on Bram.

The connection between Bram and Sweet was too strong for either one of them to ignore, but it was also dangerous. Bram didn’t trust Sweet enough to tell him the truth and Sweet wanted to trust Bram, but knew that there was something that he was keeping to himself.

There were times in Running Blind when I couldn’t see a way for things to work out for any of the characters. There were some interesting twists and turns and there was also a lot more going on than just the relationship between Bram and Sweet. Needless to say, I can’t wait until the Havoc series continues.

One-Eyed Royals (Seven of Spades #4) by Cordelia Kingsbridge

Shattered by their devastating breakup, Detective Levi Abrams and PI Dominic Russo find themselves at war right when they need each other most. While Dominic is trapped in a vicious cycle of addiction, Levi despairs of ever catching the Seven of Spades. The ruthless vigilante’s body count continues to climb, and it’s all Levi can do to keep up with the carnage.
When Levi’s and Dominic’s paths keep crossing in the investigation of a kidnapping ring with a taste for mutilation, it feels like history repeating itself. Thrown together by fate once again, they reluctantly join forces in their hunt for the mastermind behind the abductions.
But the Seven of Spades hates sharing the spotlight, and they have an ace in the hole: a new batch of victims with a special connection to Levi. Their murders send shockwaves through Las Vegas and change the rules of the game forever.
The Seven of Spades has upped the ante. If Levi and Dominic don’t play their cards right, they’ll end up losing everything.

So… my first reaction when I finished One-Eyed Royals was… I might have to knock off 1/2 a star… hovering between 4.5 and 5 for REASONS! #EvilAuthor – It’s been a while and that opinion still stands. This author is killing me!

One-Eyed Royals picks up almost where Cash Plays left off, which is both good and bad. Good because readers left Levi and Dom in a not so good place at the end of the last book. Bad because things haven’t changed much. They still aren’t back together and neither have budged. Levi has found some interesting ways to keep Dom from gambling and Dom still insists he doesn’t have a problem. Yet, they couldn’t stay away from each other, which became even more difficult when their cases keep causing them to cross paths. It would also be a lot less difficult if they didn’t still love each other.

The Seven of Spades is also taking a more personal interest in Levi – at least where his current victims are concerned. Levi has his own demons that he’s struggling with and he’s trying to keep in check. The Seven of Spades is pushing buttons that Levi wasn’t proud of.

I’m not gonna lie – there was one point in One-Eyed Royals that I wanted to smack Levi. I honestly couldn’t believe that he… well, you’re just going to have to read it and experience the frustration for yourself.

I have a few ideas about who the Seven of Spades may be, but I’m not positive. There’s one book left and even though Levi and Dom were in a pretty good place at the end of One-Eyed Royals, no one’s really going to be safe until the Seven of Spades is caught. Needless to say, I can’t wait until A Chip and a Chair is released.

Hard Truths by Alex Whitehall

He can’t have the family he wants, but he may get the love he deserves….
Isaac didn’t expect to find love at his family’s Christmas dinner, but that was before he met his sister’s new fake boyfriend. Tall, muscular, and tattooed, Logan is what Isaac would love in a partner — and also everything his parents would hate in one. Not that they know Isaac’s gay.
That doesn’t stop him from dating Logan — unbeknownst to his parents, and with his sister’s approval after she fake dumps him. The pair dive into a whirlwind romance of motorcycle rides, cheesy puns, and hot sex. They meet each other’s friends and fill their time with happiness and laughter. It’s all perfect.
Until Isaac suggests they move in together, and Logan asks Isaac to come out to his parents. Isaac wants to, but he’s scared; he doesn’t want to lose his family. Unfortunately, he can’t see that his real family has been right beside him all along.

Gotta give Alex Whitehall credit for coming up with a unique way for a couple to meet. It honestly made me like Isaac’s sister from the start. That first meeting also made it clear that I would never be a fan of his parents…

Essentially, Isaac lived two lives. One where he was comfortable in his own skin and was loved, respected and accepted by his friends. The other where he hid who he really was to be accepted by his family. The paths of those two lives never crossed and he was perfectly okay with that… until he risked losing Logan.

Logan didn’t understand how Isaac could keep such an important part of his life away from his family. Unless Logan wasn’t as important to Isaac as he thought he was. He would give anything to share his love for Isaac with the family he had lost. So he pushed…

Both Isaac and Logan made mistakes in Hard Truths. I got really aggravated with both of them more than once. Isaac couldn’t see what was right in front of him and Logan pushed for something when he had no idea how much he was really asking… or risking.

This is the story of not just the love between two men, but it’s also a story that proves that love is love and family isn’t always defined by blood. ❤

 

High Time (Solomon Mysteries #3) by Keelan Ellis

When skeletal remains turn up in Baltimore’s Leakin Park, Detective Paul Solomon is pessimistic about their chances of solving the case. But a clue discovered near the bones soon leaves his partner, Tim Cullen, in little doubt as to their identity. As the case leads him close to home, Tim struggles to find a balance between professional responsibility and family, testing Paul’s patience and loyalty in the process.
In his personal life, Paul wrestles with his own increasingly precarious balancing act. His friendship with David Haygood threatens his new relationship with Owen, and he finds himself questioning not only his own judgment but his motivations as well. When Paul makes a choice that may irreparably damage his budding romance, the only person he can think to turn to is his ex-lover and friend Andy.
As Paul and Tim sift through details of the short life of a young woman who died over a quarter of a century ago, what eventually emerges from the web of connections and coincidence is a story that’s both shocking and sadly familiar to the seasoned detectives.

I really liked Good Boys, so I wasn’t surprised that I enjoyed High Time just as much. I mentioned in my review of the first book in the Solomon Mysteries series that one of the things that pulled me in was the fact that I was familiar with the area that the book took place. Baltimore isn’t far from where I grew up. Things got even more interesting for me in High Time when Paul and Tim end up close to where I currently live. That’s not the only reason I like this series though, just an added bonus. 😉

Paul’s a great detective, but his personal life is a mess. His best friend is dating his partner, he’s friends with someone who is admittedly attracted to him, he’s still friends with his ex and he has no idea how to be in a relationship – even though he really cares about Owen. Things get really complicated when the current case he’s working on hits way too close to those near and dear to Tim.

For the record, I got as aggravated with Paul in High Time as Owen did – and he’s not the only one who called him out on his actions. Speaking of which, the supporting characters pretty much make this series for me. The mystery wasn’t bad either 😉

Then, there was the location. Since I’m familiar with the area that Tim and Paul traveled to, I picked up on a couple of things that a lot of readers won’t. Still, the accuracy was pretty good and recognizing landmarks was kinda fun. I also learned some things about some sneaky ways that officials collect info…

I’m pretty sure that there’s more to come and I can’t wait to see what’s next for the Solomon Mysteries.

Sentinel (Until You #2) by Karrie Roman

Never allowing anyone too close, Ethan Stone has lived a solitary life since he was disowned by his family when he discovered their darkest secret. He spends his days as a quiet sentinel, protecting others to make up for the ones he didn’t. Love, friendship, and family have no place in his world.
Ben Cronin is a warrior, haunted by a past he excelled at, which almost robbed him of his humanity. He became a professional bodyguard to save lives rather than take them. And he has loved his stoic colleague, Ethan Stone, from the day they met.
When Ethan’s sister suddenly comes back into his life in desperate need of his help, Ethan doesn’t hesitate to do whatever he needs to do. To his surprise, Ben—the man who makes him want things he shouldn’t—is right there beside him, risking everything to help him and finally coaxing Ethan’s feelings back to life.
A desperate race to find his missing nieces leads Ethan to a place he never thought he’d be and takes Ben exactly where he wanted to be—in a life filled with love and desire. But how long can they keep it when evil stalks their every step?

Confession time… I’ve done it again. I picked up the second book in a series before reading the first. Even though I didn’t feel lost at all while reading Sentinel, I still want to go back and read Shipped, the first book in the Until You series. Not just because I want to get to know Ryan and Lucas better, but because I want to see where it all began, especially for Ethan and Ben.

There was so much emotion in this story. My heart literally broke for Ethan. He had lost so much and even though he thought he was at peace with that – he had no idea how much more he had left to lose.

Then there was Ben… he had been in love with Ethan almost since the first time they met. There was nothing he wouldn’t do for him, even slip back into the person he’s tried so hard to leave in his past.

I could go on and on, but I’d end up rambling… and no one wants that. Just know that between the characters, the danger, the heat between Ethan and Ben, and the connection between the characters, Sentinel was hard to put down. Even though I haven’t read Shipped – which I intend to fix really soon – I already know that Until You is going to be a series that I can’t wait to continue.

Counterpoint (Twisted Wishes #2) by Anna Zabo

Twisted Wishes lead guitarist Dominic “Domino” Bradley is an animal onstage. But behind his tight leather pants and skull-crusher boots lies a different man entirely, one who needs his stage persona not only to perform, but to have the anonymity he craves. A self-imposed exile makes it impossible to get close to anyone outside the band, so he’s forced to get his sexual fix through a few hot nights with a stranger.
When computer programmer Adrian Doran meets Dominic, he’s drawn to the other man’s quiet voice and shy smile. But after a few dirty, demanding nights exploring Dominic’s need to be dominated, Adrian wants more than a casual distraction. He has no idea he’s fallen for Domino Grinder—the outlandish, larger-than-life rock god.
Dominic is reluctant to trust Adrian with his true identity. But when the truth is revealed prematurely, Dominic is forced to reevaluate both his need for Adrian and everything he believes about himself.

Readers met Dom in Syncopation, the first book in Anna Zabo’s Twisted Wishes series. Granted, we didn’t learn a lot about the quiet, private musician, but I got to know him well enough to know I liked him. He was a good friend and a talented musician, but I wasn’t surprised to learn that there was a lot more to “Domino” than just a way to protect his privacy.

Adrian was totally infatuated with Dom, but he knew he was keeping a part of himself hidden from him. He was patient, he knew or at least he hoped that Dom would trust him enough to share what he was hiding. He was also dealing with his own professional issues…

Dom really wanted to open up to Adrian, but he was terrified of people not only finding out, but what would happen to Domino when they did. He also wasn’t sure how Adrian would react because he knew he wasn’t exactly a fan of Twisted Wishes’ genre of music. The band was behind him, but not even they totally understood his fear. There were a lot of twists and turns for both men while working toward their HEA.

I love this series so far and I loved getting to know the band even better in Counterpoint. Mish is next in Reverb and I can’t wait to see what Zabo has in store for readers with her story.

 

Saddle Up (Clean Slate Ranch #3) by A.M. Arthur

Reyes Caldero keeps his past buried deep and his emotions buried deeper. But what he doesn’t say he always makes up for with his actions. When the hot chef he once saved from an abusive ex turns up at Clean Slate Ranch, the quiet cowboy is happy to act on their sizzling chemistry, even if he’s not ready to share his secrets—or his heart.
Miles Arlington needs to get the hell out of San Francisco, and heading north for a job near Clean Slate Ranch seems like just the thing. It doesn’t hurt that his secret crush slash onetime rescuer happens to work at the ranch. Miles has never been one for the outdoors, but the superhot Reyes has him ready to saddle up.
Reyes is happy to keep things casual, even though his heart has other ideas. And when Miles is forced to confront his past again, Reyes and Miles will have to put all their trust in each other if they want any chance at building a future together.

I really liked Saddle Up, but there are a couple of things I wished… My heart broke for these two, but I really wish that they felt like they could trust the people closest to them. Of course, that would have lessoned the conflict in the story… *sigh*

Miles was a lot stronger than he thought he was and a lot of that strength came from his friends. I love that about this series and since they’re all so close and supportive, readers get to spend time with all of them.

Reyes is even more closed off than Miles, but with good reason. At least in his eyes. He’s lived with the secrets he holds close for a long time. Because of those secrets, he doesn’t think he’s worthy of anyone’s love, much less Miles’.

There was more drama going on at Clean Slate Ranch than just the tension between Miles and Reyes that kept the pages turning. Saddle Up was a great addition to this series.

When Love Surprises (When the Mission Ends #6) by Christi Snow

Raised in a religious household, being gay was never an option for Steven, but when an injury left him incapacitated, he was forced to face those urges that he’s been able to ignore for the last thirty-eight years of his life…
Lost…
Three months ago, Major Steven Hardesty’s life sat on the precipice of perfection. Now he’s trying to come back from a life-threatening injury and a devastating romantic loss all while trying to figure out what he’s going to do after separating from the Air Force.
Alone…
Billy Starr never planned on running his family ranch by himself. He was supposed to be doing it with his sister, Whitney. But when she died in a freak accident, it sent his life in a tailspin of despair and alcohol.
Healing…
Steven and Billy were friends. Billy offered the ranch as a good, private place where Steven could recover, but as their friendship deepened, so did other feelings. Is it possible that a love affair between the two of them could heal them both? Or break them even more.

Wow… it’s hard to believe that it’s been 6 years since When the Mission Ends began in 2012 with Operation: End Game. Back then it was labeled as a trilogy – for the record, I have no complaints that it evolved into a 6 book series, including a prequel.

When Love Surprises was…well, for lack of a better description, full of surprises. One of them, for me at least, wasn’t too surprising. I knew at the end of When Love Comes Back, where the next book in the series was headed – I couldn’t have been more excited. Christi Snow did not disappoint me – Billy and Steven’s story was everything I hoped for plus a lot more.

Unfortunately, I can’t tell you about some of the best surprises for Steven and Billy because, well, then they wouldn’t be surprises, now would they? I will say that even though things worked out well for them in the end, there were some major obstacles, heartbreak and even danger. It was hard to see how these guys were finally going to get a break.

I’m kind of sad that this series has come to an end with When Love Surprises, but I know that this author has a lot more romance and happy endings in store for readers. Besides, I can always go back to the beginning and start all over ❤