Watch Point by Cecilia Tan

Eric Sakai-Johnson joined the Navy SEALs to protect his country and the people he loves. After discharge, he finds himself relegated to protecting big pharma billionaire Aiden Milford from assassination attempts and kidnapping. Until Aiden reneges on a promise, fires Eric, and lets Eric’s mother die with millions of dollars in medical debt.
Now Eric is the kidnapper. Snatching Aiden’s twenty-two-year-old son, Chase, for a multi-million-dollar ransom is the only way to get justice. It’s time for Aiden to learn what it’s like when someone you love is at the mercy of forces beyond your control. Eric has it all planned out. The one thing he didn’t plan for is the intense erotic spark between him and Chase.
Chase has been chafing under his father’s autocratic control. A gay hookup app has been his only ticket to rebellion—to clandestine moments of freedom, excitement, and danger. Now it’s his ticket to a deep connection and amazing sex with his “captor.” On the rocky island where they’re sequestered, Chase finds Eric to be everything he wants in a man: quiet, strong, capable, and honorable . . . until he finds out he’s been captured for real.

I’ve gotta agree with one other reviewer of Watch Point… this book is not for everyone and there are some people who will have a real issue with it. I’ve also have to be clear on one point. I do not in any way condone what Eric did. I can also honestly say that I’ve never been in a situation as desperate as he found himself in, so I’m not judging his actions. There’s a very fine line drawn between right and wrong in Watch Point and Eric pushed it to the limit, but what Aiden Milford did to Eric, in my opinion, was much worse.

Even so, I wasn’t quite sure about this book in the beginning. Both Eric and Chase grew on me though. There was a slight twist that ended up changing my opinion totally. Not everything is exactly as it seems and there were quite a few surprises in Watch Point. My heart broke for both of them by the time they each realized exactly what was going on. I had no idea how they could get to their inevitable HEA, but I wanted it desperately for both Eric and Chase.

There was plenty of heat, some nail biting suspense and more. I’m glad I picked this one up and stuck with it even though I wasn’t quite sure how things could possibly work out. 😉

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Lace Covered Compromise by Silvia Violet

Adam Kingston expects to inherit his father’s multinational conglomerate. When he finds out half of it went to Nate Thomas—an annoying man whose dreams for Kingston Corp.’s future clash with Adam’s need to stave off financial disaster—Adam is furious. He’s willing to do whatever it takes to wrest control of Kingston Corp. from Nate.
Nate may be soft-spoken, but he refuses to be swayed by Adam’s arrogant demands. When Nate accidentally drops a pair of his lacy panties in front of Adam, there’s no mistaking Adam’s interest. Nate hadn’t realized Adam was bisexual, but now that his secret is out, Nate is willing to use Adam’s lust against him if it means protecting the welfare of the company he loves.
For Adam and Nate, hatred and desire are closely linked. Their inability to compromise threatens the company and could expose their tightly held secrets. But as they work together to develop a plan to save Kingston Corp., they begin to realize there might be more to their relationship than anger and lust.

Honestly, the best description that I can come up with for Lace-Covered Compromise is cute. Cliche, I know, but what can I say? There’s absolutely nothing wrong with cute by the way.

Adam was awkward and heartbroken and determined to keep his family’s business running and most importantly in the family. Nate had his own plans for the business that he was left to co-run by Adam’s father and they didn’t include being bullied and bossed around by Adam.

I loved these two together, once they got out of each other’s way. Adam did more to sabotage himself in the process of trying to get rid of Nate. Then there was the fact that Nate was out and Adam was firmly in the closet.

As well as being cute, Lace-Covered Compromise was also fun and did I mention sexy? Sometimes that’s all you need in a short, sweet read. 😉

Snowcroft Restoration (Snowcroft Men #4) by Christi Snow

Two years ago, Law Wyman went undercover for an FBI investigation that went sideways. It cost him both the love of his life and his sanity. The nightmare still haunts him, and so does some unfinished business…Ian Mayne, the son of the man who ruined his life.
Two years ago, Ian had to face the truth about how his father spent a lifetime torturing and trafficking LGBTQ teens. Ever since, Ian has done everything he can to make up for his dead father’s many sins through his law enforcement job. Too many paid in horrific, horrible ways at his father’s hands while Ian kept the truth about his own sexuality hidden.
Law is doing all he can to save Ian, but Ian has no idea about Law’s history with his dead father. When the truth comes out, it could cost them both everything.
Two men…both horrifically haunted by what happened. Is it possible they can find healing together? Only if they have the courage to face their demons and each other…

I can’t tell you how long I’ve been waiting for this book. Law has been breaking my heart since the beginning of the series. In Snowcroft Lost, Law lost the love of his life. In Snowcroft Safehouse, readers spent time getting to know him even better and in the process he broke my heart even more. I never thought I’d say this, but I’m kinda glad that we had to wait for Law’s HEA. It gave both Law and Ian a chance to not only find themselves, but each other. (That doesn’t mean that Ms. Snow has been totally forgiven however… her #EvilAuthor status is still in good standing.)

I never got as attached to Ian as I did to Law, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t feel for him. He had suffered totally different losses, but they were just as haunting – which left him just as broken. His need to pay back for his father’s sins took him away from Snowcroft on a mission to save a friend.

Which brings us to the fact that this book had two parts. The first was away from Snowcroft, where Ian went on a solo undercover operation to find a missing friend and Law went to offer his support – whether Ian wanted it or not. Even though Ian barely knew Law and his history, Law wasn’t in the dark at all. He not only wanted to help Ian, he was attracted to him. That attraction only grew the closer they got to each other and given the circumstances they were thrown into, closeness was inevitable.

These two had a few emotional obstacles to get around, but they were so good together, their HEA was inevitable. I knew better (knowing this author) than to relax once they finally made it back to Snowcroft in the second part of Snowcroft Restoration. It was great having them back in familiar territory though, especially since they were surrounded by family and friends. There were still some emotional hurdles, but I loved watching their plans unfold and the ‘restoration’ begin.

Danger, heat, emotion, humor and a strong sense of family. This series pretty much has it all. I’m really, really happy that their is more to come and the introduction of some new Snowcroft residents is guaranteed to keep things interesting. I can’t wait to see what Christi Snow has in store for readers next. ❤

Off the Ice (Hat Trick #1) by Avon Gail & Piper Vaughn

Tristan Holt is nothing if not pragmatic. Despite a flourishing career as a defenseman for the Atlanta Venom, Tristan knows he can’t play hockey forever. One day he’ll retire—if an injury doesn’t force him to hang up his skates first. His backup plan? Finishing his business degree. But he doesn’t count on a very inappropriate attraction to his standoffish sociology professor, Sebastian Cruz.
Sebastian is on the bottom rung of the Sociology Department at Georgia State. He has his sights set on tenure, and he can’t afford to be distracted, especially not by a sexy student with a body straight out of Sebastian’s dreams. No matter how much Tristan tempts him, that’s one line Sebastian won’t cross. At least not until summer classes end. After that, everything is fair game.
But Sebastian lives loud and proud, and Tristan is terrified of being the first out player in the NHL. Neither of them can afford to risk their hearts when they can’t imagine a happily ever after. The problem is, unlike hockey, when it comes to love, there are no rules.

I’ve read one other book by this writing duo. I liked Permanent Ink, their first book in their Art & Soul series, but I definitely liked this one better. Both books involved a characters that were years apart. I don’t have a problem with “May/December” romances, I just like the way it was handled in Off the Ice better. 😉

I may have liked Sebastian a little less in the beginning of Off the Ice if readers hadn’t gotten both characters’ POV. Actually, even with it, I was a little disgruntled with his automatic assumption that Tristan was a ‘dumb jock’ type of student. Those early encounters said a lot about both characters though and the way Tristan handled the situation made me respect him even more. Sebastian did finally win me over, but not before he screwed up a couple more times.

This is one of those books that had supporting characters that actually made the story. Without Sebastian’s friend R.J. he may not have gotten as far with Tristan as he did. He was a great sounding board for Sebastian, but he also didn’t pull any punches. He let Sebastian know when he was being an idiot. Doesn’t everyone need a friend like that?

I also loved Tristan’s family and the team mates that he he was close to that he pretty much considered family. Coming out for him could have cost him a lot and I would have respected him either way.

I’m really happy that this book is part of a series. There’s more than one character I’d love to get to know better. This writing duo is off to a great start with the Hat Trick series.

Life on Pause by Erin McLellan

Niles Longfellow is a nerd, and not the trendy type of nerd, either. He wears a historically accurate homesteader costume to work every day, has a total of one friend, and doesn’t know how to talk to guys. So when he gets a flat tire and the hottest hipster ever stops to help him, all Niles can think is that he’s wearing his stupid cowboy getup. Normally, Niles feels invisible to other men, but he’d take that invisibility any day over Rusty Adams seeing him in suede and fringe.
Rusty moved to Bison Hills to help his sister raise her daughter, and nothing is more important to him than that. He’s also fresh off a breakup, and isn’t prepared for anything complicated. But then he meets Niles. Rusty sees Niles as more than a clumsy, insecure guy in a costume. He sees a man who is funny, quirky, and unexpected.
Nothing about their connection is simple, though, especially the lies and insecurities between them. Niles doesn’t know if he can trust Rusty with his heart, and when Rusty’s sister decides to move away, Rusty doesn’t know if he can stay behind.

My gut reaction when I finished Life on PauseOh… I wanted to shake some sense into both of these young men by the end of Life on Pause… luckily they had really good friends. 😉 Yeah, that pretty much sums it up, but I suppose you want more right? *sigh*

I was in awe when I finished Erin McLellan’s first book, Controlled Burn. I loved the characters and their story and I couldn’t wait to see what readers would see from this talented new author. I wasn’t quite as enamored with Niles and Rusty, mainly because I spent most of their story being aggravated with them. Niles berated himself so much that he couldn’t fathom why someone like Rusty would ever be interested in him. He actually ended up sabotaging their relationship before it even got started. What made things worse was that Niles knew how he felt, he knew he had no self esteem, so to keep Niles from worrying unnecessarily, he hid some pretty big facts from him. I don’t even have to spoil anything for you to figure out how well things went between these two do I? And this is where the really good friends come in. 😉

So yeah, these guys aggravated me in a big way, but they had people who cared about them and could see past their faults. They also saw how much they were hurting themselves by hurting each other. Niles didn’t know how to be loved and Rusty didn’t want to get hurt so he thought he was better off walking away. All I can say is that it’s a good thing that we got both Rusty and Niles’ POV in Life on Pause or I would have given up all hope on both of them.

You’ve probably already guessed that I fell in love with some of the supporting characters. Rusty’s ex Todd grew on me, especially near the end of Life on Pause. Niles’ best friend Victor… I kinda loved him from the very first video chat. I really liked Rusty’s sister and niece too. Without these characters, who gave readers another perspective on both Rusty and Niles, I probably wouldn’t have ended up liking Life on Pause as much as I did. In case you hadn’t guessed, I’m kinda not so secretly hoping that readers eventually get more from Victor and Todd. Maybe not together (which given their semi-tolerant relationship would be loads of fun) but finding an HEA for one or both of them would be awesome, just sayin’. 

Changing Colors (Seasons of Love #4) by Elyse Springer

Tony Quinn has a knack for figuring people out. He likes labels, likes to be able to put everyone and everything in tidy boxes. As a theater director, it allows him to run a production without too much drama. But when he meets Gentry—“call me Gee”—in a bar one night, he discovers that some people aren’t so easily defined.
Gee Parnell is unlike anyone Tony has ever met before. He refuses to conform—to Tony’s expectations, or to society’s gender roles. He’s sexy and flirtatious, unapologetic and unashamed. And Tony isn’t sure he’s okay with that. So he breaks things off and escapes back into his well-ordered life.
But then an attack leaves Gee bloody and bruised, and Tony realizes that he isn’t ready to lose him. Not only is the passion between them off the charts, but Gee shows him a different way of understanding people. However, an exciting new job opportunity means that Tony has to decide between hiding his sexuality and his relationship with Gee, and his newfound appreciation for the color and beauty Gee brings to his life.

I’ve been waiting for Tony’s book since he was first introduced in White Out, the first book in Elyse Springer’s Seasons of Love series. Since then, he’s made small appearances in each book, but he’s made an impact on almost everyone. Once he reached out to Sara in Heat Wave, readers got a little bit more of Tony’s story… and that was the perfect set up for Changing Colors.

So, confession time. I could kind of relate to Tony. I’m not proud of that fact, but I’ve gotta be honest. I admire Gee for his sense of self and I really liked him, but I’m pretty sure my initial reaction around him would have been as uncomfortable as Tony’s was. I think my reaction is more empathetic than embarrassed though. At least I’d like to think so. That being said, that’s one of the reasons why I like reading books that take me out of my comfort zone. They make me see things from a different perspective and make me want to be more understanding and even more empathetic than I already am.

That doesn’t mean that I wasn’t upset with Tony. He hurt himself almost as much as he hurt Gee. A lot of that goes back to the way he was treated by his father. He knew in his heart that he had screwed up as soon as he turned Gee away and he worked hard to try to make up for it. Then he blew it again by not being honest. Gee was such an amazing character, he deserved more than Tony seemed to be willing to give. It took losing almost everything for Tony to finally realize what was really important.

So yeah, there were a lot of ups and downs in Changing Colors. Although I’m kind of sad that the Seasons of Love series has come to and end, Tony and Gee’s story was the perfect finale. I’d love to check in with these characters again though. This was an amazing debut series for a very talented author and I can’t wait to see what Elyse Springer has in story for readers next.

Kill Game (Seven of Spades #1) by Cordelia Kingsbridge

Homicide detective Levi Abrams is barely holding his life together. He’s reeling from the fallout of a fatal shooting, and his relationship with his boyfriend is crumbling. The last thing he’s prepared for is a serial killer stalking the streets of Las Vegas. Or how he keeps getting thrown into the path of annoyingly charming bounty hunter Dominic Russo.
Dominic likes his life free of complications. That means no tangling with cops—especially prickly, uptight detectives. But when he stumbles across one of the Seven of Spades’s horrifying crime scenes, he can’t let go, despite Levi’s warnings to stay away.
The Seven of Spades is ruthless and always two moves ahead. Worst of all, they’ve taken a dangerously personal interest in Levi and Dominic. Forced to trust each other, the two men race to discover the killer’s identity, revealing hidden truths along the way and sparking a bond neither man expected. But that may not be enough to protect them.
This killer likes to play games, and the deck is not stacked in Levi and Dominic’s favor.

What a beginning that promises to be an amazing new romantic suspense. This is my first read by Cordelia Kingsbridge, but it will most definitely not be my last – not even including the rest of this series.

That word ‘prickly’ that’s used in the description? That’s exactly how I’d describe the interactions between Levi and Dominic. Prickly sparks that were almost tangible. I loved the back and forth between the two of them – especially the denial. Others around them saw it too. That made things even more interesting.

There was so much to love about Kill Game. I loved the strong families that both Levi and Dominic came from. I loved the relationship between Levi and his partner. I also loved the way Levi and Dominic used their gut instincts and tenacity to try to stop the Seven of Spades. They both had their secrets and weaknesses but together they were a force to be reckoned with. They were also beyond hot together – but not immediately. The slow burn between these two was as intense as the suspense.

There were also many things that weren’t so great … the Seven of Spades was ruthless, smart and cunning. He had a warped sense of justice and he stayed one step ahead of everyone. He also used both Levi and Dominic in creepy, stalker like ways. *shivers* There were a few times that I thought I might know who he was, but by the end of Kill Game I still wasn’t sure. Truth is, given the name of the series is Seven of Spades, it may be a while before readers find out. I wasn’t a fan of some of Levi’s co-workers either and don’t get me started about his boyfriend. Although the reasons behind my dislike are probably not what you think.

So yeah, I know that this review was rambling and vague, but I honestly don’t want to spoil anything for anyone else. There is much more to come and I really can’t wait until Trick Roller is released so readers can spend more time with Levi and Dominic. 

PS by Caraway Carter

Looking back, it was kind of crazy to put a down payment on a fallen-down train depot I’d never actually seen, in a state I’d never actually been to, and use it to build a life with a guy I’d never actually met, but love makes people do crazy things. If you’ve ever been in love, you know what I mean.
But before the plane had landed, I found out that Sam—the guy I’d met online and had been talking to for four years—wasn’t really Sam. He wasn’t even a guy.
I already own the little train depot, and I can’t go back to my old life. And Fairville is such a lovely welcoming town. Did I mention James? He’s made sure that I’ve had a really warm welcome.
All I want is to build a great little bookstore, and have a relationship based on humor, honesty, and hardbacks. I see some tough choices ahead of me.
Or maybe I don’t have to choose…

This was a quick fun read. To be honest, from the description, I thought that Gus would get on my nerves a lot more than he did. I mean, who does something like that? Really? It didn’t take long into the book to realize that his decision to make such a life altering change wasn’t quite as drastic as it first sounded. It would have been nice if he had actually met Sam in person before he made the move, but then PS would have lost it’s entire plot. 😉

There were a couple of little crazy, questionable, awkward moments that kind of threw me during the course of the story, but for the most part, I enjoyed getting to know Gus and James. The rest of the sometimes whacky but lovable residents of Fairville were fun as well. There were even a few crazy twists that added to the craziness.

This was my first read by Caraway Carter, but he’s peaked my curiosity, so don’t be surprised if you find one or two of his books find their way to my TBR pile. 

Finding Home by Garrett Leigh

How do you find a home when your heart is in ashes?
With their mum dead and their father on remand for her murder, Leo Hendry and his little sister, Lila, have nothing in the world but each other. Broken and burned, they’re thrust into the foster care system. Leo shields Lila from the fake families and forced affection, until the Poulton household is the only place left to go.
Charlie de Sousa is used to other kids passing through the Poulton home, but there’s never been anyone like his new foster brother. Leo’s physical injuries are plain to see, but it’s the pain in his eyes that draws Charlie in the most.
Day by day, they grow closer, but the darkness inside Leo consumes him. He rejects his foster parents, and when Charlie gets into trouble, Leo’s attempt to protect him turns violent. When Leo loses control, no one can reach him—except Charlie. He desperately needs a family—a home—and only Charlie can show him the way.

Have you ever read a book and found yourself wanting to be friends with the characters? People that touched you in a way that you just wanted to get to know them better? Although I adored Leo and Charlie, I was in awe of Kate and Reg. They were so incredibly good at not only fostering, but truly loving, caring and accepting, plus they just seemed to sense each child’s limits and needs. They were the core of this amazing family and they expected nothing less from each member. To me, that’s a huge part of what made this story work for me. *sigh*

I’ve mentioned before that Garrett Leigh has a talent for totally breaking a character and then slowly put the pieces back together, while taking the reader right along with them. There’s always hope though and that’s what keeps the pages turning, for me anyway. Readers witnessed from the very first chapter the pain that both Leo and Lila went through. Even before the tragic day that left them without parents, their life wasn’t easy. Home had little or no meaning to them and trust wasn’t something that they could give easily. Finding the Poulton family was their hope, it just took Leo a while to figure that out. Except for his connection to Charlie. I love that connection.

Charlie was a good kid with a good heart. He loved and respected his family – even though they drove him nuts sometimes – and trusted them. Leo wasn’t a bad kid, he was just a kid who found himself in a bad situation. To him family was Lila and he would and had been doing everything in his power to keep her safe. He refused to depend on anyone else because he’d learned the hard way… over and over again… that it was him and Lila. He was physically and mentally hurt and broken and angry and then he met Charlie.

I love the way that their relationship grew. Charlie did his best to prove to Leo that the whole family was behind him. Leo did his best to keep his distance from everyone but Charlie, but the Poulton family was a force to be reckoned with. I loved each and every one of them. Kate and Reg proved over and over again that although they were the parents and they had strict expectations for each of their kids, they respected the kids just as much as the kids did them – their opinions mattered.

I hope I’ve made it obvious that this book touched me in a way that few others have in a while. If you’re a fan of Garrett Leigh, but not a fan of the YA genre, I still recommend that you read this one. It’s not always easy and it’s not exactly angst free, but this author held nothing back and ended up finding both Leo and Lila the home… and family… they deserved. ❤

Cover Up (Skin Deep Inc. #3) by L.A. Witt

After ten years of blissful marriage, Navy Pilot Nate Chandler is divorcing his cheating husband. Single for the first time in years, Nate is numb to all emotion and kisses any chance of another relationship goodbye.
Not only is Nate struggling to get through this divorce, but his body is branded with a permanent reminder of his failed marriage: a matching tattoo with his ex. Searching for a place to cover up his old tattoo, Nate finds himself at the Skin Deep, Inc., where he meets the young and charming cover-up tattoo apprentice, Lucas Brandt.
From just flirty glances to steamy hot encounters, Nate and Lucas dive headfirst into a fling of hookups. But worried that he’ll forever be Nate’s “cover up” rebound relationship, Lucas fears that their love won’t be anything more than just skin deep. What was once just a casual attraction, Lucas now hopes to turn into a real relationship. But will he be able to convince the still tender-hearted Nate to fall in love again?

So evidently I’m not only on a L.A. Witt kick, I’m also on a military kick… Like I’ve mentioned before, L.A. Witt is on a role and I haven’t read all her available titles, but there are a few that I just couldn’t resist. The Skin Deep Inc series is one of them. On a side note, if I hadn’t already decided to go back and read Back Piece (the first book in the series – I have no idea how I missed that one) Cover Up would have made the decision a no-brainer.

Nate pretty much broke my heart in Pounding Skin – his break up with his husband of 10 years almost convinced Jon that true, long standing love didn’t exist. Thankfully, things worked out for Jon and and Matt, but I’m equally thankful that Nate got his chance at a true HEA.

Lucas may have been an apprentice at Skin Deep Inc, but he was really just using that title as a crutch. He was especially talented at covering up tattoos that people weren’t happy with for one reason or another. He could have become a full fledged artist, but he lost his confidence with one screw up. He was still trying to get over it when he met Nate.

I gotta admit, even though I wanted Nate and Lucas to be each other’s HEA, I thought things moved a little too fast. Yet, I felt the connection that these two had. Nate had no intention of getting close to anyone else and Lucas had been burned himself a couple of times. He had no intention of being anyone’s rebound. Love had other plans for these two, but that didn’t mean things were easy.

On a side note – isn’t it great when books take place in areas that you recognize? I live really close to Virginia Beach, which is where the naval base and the tattoo parlor are. Cover Up was even cooler for me though because Lucas and Nate traveled across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel and took Rt. 13 north through the Eastern Shore of Virginia, which is where I actually live. It was a quick trip, but it was really fun reading about such a familiar area.

It was great being with Jon, Matt and the rest of the characters again. Colin and Daniel – who were the first couple introduced in Back Piece – also played a fairly important role in Cover Up. Which is just one of the many reasons why I need to go back and read their story from the beginning. You can read any of these stories as a stand alone, but I bet once you read one, you’re going to want to read them all. 😉