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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Close Contact (Body Armor #3) by Lori Foster

MMA fighter Miles Dartman’s casual arrangement with personal shopper Maxi Nevar would be many men’s fantasy. She seeks him out, they have mindblowing sex, she leaves. Rinse, repeat. Yet lately, Miles wants more. And when Maxi requests his services via the Body Armor security agency, he’s ready to finally break through her defenses—and protect her day and night.
Receiving a large inheritance has brought chaos and uncertainty into Maxi’s life. Her ex has resurfaced, along with lots of former “friends,” and someone is making mysterious threats. Then there’s Miles, who doesn’t ask for anything…except her trust. Pleasure is easy. Now Maxi has to give her heart as well as her body…or risk losing a man who could be everything she needs.

I think I’ve said this before, but this series gets better with each new book that’s added. Of course, that’s pretty much the norm for me when it comes to any Lori Foster series, so I shouldn’t be surprised.

I loved the relationship between Maxi and Miles. They really wanted the same thing, but they were crappy at picking up the cues from each other. Their friends saw through them first, which was fun. They had serious problems to figure out first though. Like who was terrorizing Maxi and trying to get her to break her promise to her grandmother. It was more than that though. She honestly loved the farm her grandmother had left her and she wasn’t about to back down. Which meant that Miles, Body Armor and his friends weren’t giving up either. Not until whoever was threatening Maxi was taken care of – for good.

Once again, the sense of family was front and center. Not only the guys (and gals) from Body Armor, but Miles’ family from his MMA days. Which, by the way, was absolutely fine with me because I wasn’t ready to say good-bye to that bunch and having them drop in from time to time is the perfect consolation. 😉

The sweet (and hot) romance between Maxi and Miles, along with the suspense, danger and mystery kept the pages turning. There were quite a few bad guys to choose from in Close Contact so it was fun trying to figure out who the baddest of the bad really was. I almost saw it coming, but not quite.

The next book in the Body Armor series is Fast Burn and I really can’t wait for this one. I can’t think of a more appropriate title for whatever Lori Foster has in store for Sahara and Brand. 😉

Wheels Up (Out of Uniform #4) by Annabeth Albert

Lieutenant Dustin Strauss is a reformed man. No longer a twentysomething hell-raiser, he’s his SEAL team’s new XO-and a man with a secret. Or seven. He’s kept his bisexual identity under wraps for years, along with his kinky side and a fondness for the military-themed semi-anonymous hookup website Joe4Joe. His latest chat buddy is more than a sexy online distraction-they’re taking their very not-safe-for-work relationship into real time.
Petty Officer Wes Lowe has a smart mouth, a take-charge attitude and an uncanny ability for making things go boom. The life of an enlisted man isn’t always enough to satisfy him, but one wild, no-questions-asked weekend with his online love comes close. When a transfer order comes in, Wes feels ready and centered. He’ll make a good impression on his new SEAL team and keep his growing feelings for Dustin on the down low.
But as they log more time online and some very real emotions surface, Dustin and Wes struggle to pretend they’re just a harmless fling. And when his commander introduces Dustin to his team’s newest member, they’re in for the shock of a lifetime…and a crushing disappointment: their difference in ranks means even a friendship without sexual contact could end their navy careers for good.
With their hearts on the line, Dustin and Wes may not survive their next mission, let alone find a way toward a future together.

The odds were against these two from the start. They had a strong enough connection that after months virtual hook-ups, they decided to meet face to face. By the time that they realized that they had no future without losing everything they had worked for, that connection had grown too strong to ignore.

That blow was even harder for Wes in some ways because the transfer had totally blindsided him. He needed to be close to his family for a lot of reasons. Reasons that Dustin knew and understood, but he had to keep his distance. Wes’ emotions were all over the place and the one person he would normally go to was right there, but out of reach.

The closeness that their positions kept them in didn’t make things easier. Dustin couldn’t talk to anyone about what he was going through either. Not just because the relationship forbidden, but he had kept the fact that he was bisexual away from everyone – even those he was closest to. He had his reasons for the secrecy, maybe not logical reasons, but he had done it for so long he didn’t know how to get past that first hurdle. I think even most readers probably breathed a sigh of relief when he finally talked it out. That didn’t solve the problems between he, Wes and the Navy, but it was definitely a step closer to being true to himself.

There was no easy solution for Wes and Dustin, but they did finally get their well deserved HEA. As with the rest of the books in the Out of Uniform series, the supporting characters were great. I loved Wes’ family and readers already knew most of the characters nearest and dearest to Dustin. It was great checking in with them. Hopefully, we’ll get to know them even better as the series continues. 😉

Tequila Sunrise (Agents Irish & Whiskey #4) by Layla Reyne

Former FBI agent Melissa “Mel” Cruz spent years skirting the line between life and death, knowing the next assignment might be her last. Back from overseas and eager to enjoy life outside the Bureau, she’s ready to give Danny Talley a Christmas Eve he’ll never forget.
A proven asset in high stakes missions, Danny’s known for having the skill and brains to get the job done. When the Talley Flag Ship is hijacked during the company holiday party, he’ll do anything to save his family, his love, and everything they’ve all worked so hard to build. But their enemies have a secondary protocol—leave no survivors—and that plan is already in play.
Navigating through a tangled web of lies and betrayal, Mel and Danny race against the clock to retake the ship before their future goes up in flames. As the seconds tick down, they’re forced to face their greatest fear—losing each other.

This may have been a short and sweet glimpse of Danny and Mel, but there was most definitely nothing lacking. I also made a point of tagging this one M/F Romance because the rest of the books in the series were all M/M and featured Mel’s brother-in-law and Danny’s brother. Although Aidan and Jamie played important roles in Tequila Sunrise, this book was all Danny and Mel’s and I loved every minute of it. 😉

Readers were not only treated to a new story in this series, but they were given tidbits of Danny and Mel’s history from the beginning of the series. It’s kinda fun to see things that you didn’t know were happening in the ‘shadows’ to other characters in the same time frame. The really great part about this holiday read was that it gave readers some extra time with characters that they may not have been quite ready to say goodbye to when the series ended.

Nothing’s easy when it comes to this family, but the one thing that they never have to worry about is doing it alone. They always have each other’s back and giving up isn’t part of their mindset – even when the odds seem to be totally against them.

Getting to know Mel and Danny a little better was a great way to put the finishing touch on this great series. I can’t wait to see what Layla Reyne has in store for readers next.

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. 😉

Can’t Let Go (The Original Heartbreakers #5) by Gena Showalter

With trust issues a mile long, Ryanne Wade has sworn off men.  Then Jude Laurent walks into her bar and all bets are off.  The former Army Ranger has suffered unimaginably, first being maimed in battle then losing his wife and daughters to a drunk driver. Making the brooding widower smile is priority one. Resisting him? Impossible.
To Jude, Ryanne is off limits. And yet the beautiful bartender who serves alcohol to potential motorists tempts him like no other. When a rival bar threatens her livelihood, and her life, he can’t turn away.  She triggers something in him he thought long buried, and he’s determined to protect her, whatever the cost.
As their already scorching attraction continues to heat, the damaged soldier knows he must let go of his past to hold on to his future…or risk losing the second chance he desperately needs.

Okay, so I may or may not be skipping around this series… okay, so I’m totally guilty of skipping around. It hasn’t been intentional, honest. I’ve just kind of lost track… a lot. I read the prequel in the Original Heartbreakers, The One You Want. Then I missed books 1-3, but I picked the series back up at Can’t Hardly Breathe and here we are at Can’t Let Go. I really do intend to play catch up, but in case you’re wondering, other than a few references here and there, I didn’t get lost at all. Although, I did enjoy watching the back and forth between Ryanne and Jude in Can’t Hardly Breathe. 😉

Jude’s back story is heart breaking. Watching him begin to care for someone after everything he’s been through is both amazing and gut wrenching. I still found myself getting frustrated with him at times for the way he treated Ryanne. He had a lot to work through and Ryanne understood that, but it was still hard to watch. Having him not have issues would have been less realistic and believable though, so his slip ups were easy to forgive… eventually.

Ryanne’s determination, along with the love and support that they both had from their friends is honestly what made this story work. I know I sound like a broken record, but stories with a strong sense of family get me every time and this series is full of those kind of connections. Brock and Lyndie are next in Can’t Get Enough and it will not be a book that I will be skipping. 😉

 

Right Where We Belong (Silver Springs #4) by Brenda Novak

Savanna Gray needs a do-over. Her “perfect” life unraveled when, to her absolute shock, her husband was arrested for attacking three women. With her divorce settled, she takes her two children home to Silver Springs to seek refuge between the walls of the farmhouse where she was born. It needs a little TLC, but she’s eager to take control of something. 
Gavin Turner understands the struggle of starting over. Abandoned at a gas station when he was five, it wasn’t until he landed at New Horizons Boys Ranch as a teen that he finally found some peace. He steps up when Savanna needs help fixing things—even when those things go beyond the farmhouse. 
Despite an escalating attraction to Gavin, Savanna resolves to keep her distance. She trusted her ex, who had a similarly tragic background, and is unwilling to repeat her past mistakes. But it’s hard to resist a man whose heart is as capable as his hands.

This book went all over the place and honestly, I could have done without the ‘extra’ conflict in that was thrown into the mix. I liked Savanna and Gavin together and I think if the story would have focused only on Gavin and Savanna’s complicated backgrounds I would have enjoyed it more. *sigh*

Savanna’s husband (he wasn’t legally her ex, but there was no going back) was truly despicable. She was caught in a nightmare that there was no escaping from no matter how far away she went. I understood her reluctance to trust Gavin, especially when she found out about his background.

Then there was Gavin. I really liked him and admired him, but I wish he would have listened to his mother and brother when it came to judge of character. Things wouldn’t have escalated nearly as far as they did if he had. I’m glad that things worked out, but like I mentioned before, I think the story had enough drama without adding that extra layer.

I’ve read all the books in this series except for the 3rd, Until You Loved Me. I’m planning on picking it up soon though, so stay tuned. 😉

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’. 

Holiday House Call (Calling It #3.5) by Jen Doyle

Dr. Karen Carmichael prides herself on being capable, optimistic and always in control. But even neurosurgeons have breaking points, especially as the holidays approach. When Karen finds herself on the side of the road, explaining to a cop that her less-than-stellar driving was due to stress and tears rather than too much booze, it’s humiliating. When that cop turns out to be a one-night stand from her past, it’s icing on the bad-day cake. 
Officer John “Tuck” Tucker didn’t expect to see Karen again after their night together. The circumstances may not be ideal, but convincing this beautiful, stubborn woman to get to know him with his clothes on is more fun than he could have imagined.  
Karen swore she’d never fall for someone who risks his life for his job. She sees enough heartbreak at work without inviting it into her personal life, and she has no interest in becoming involved in the small town Tuck calls home. But despite valiant efforts to keep her walls up, her affection for Tuck is growing into something much stronger. With a life built around work alone looking less appealing by the day, Karen will have to take a leap of faith—and trust that Tuck will leap with her.  

So, hear I go jumping into a series 3 (and a half) books in, but I suppose if I was going to do it, a novella about a new couple in the Calling It series was the perfect place to start. It gave me a taste of Jen Doyle’s writing and  a glimpse of Inspiration, the small town where the series takes place.

I kinda love small town romances and this one worked for me. Karen was not a small town person, but she cared about her patients and their families. Being part of a close knit community wasn’t a bad thing, but she planned to keep her distance. Falling for the local cop was most definitely not part of the plan – which was easier said than done given the connection and attraction that there was between Karen and Tuck.

Tuck wasn’t sure he was ready for commitment either, but he couldn’t deny the attraction and he was just as stubborn as she was. Being part of a small town though also meant that EVERYONE knew EVERYTHING about EVERYONE else and given his position, he wasn’t a fan of that aspect.

I really enjoyed their story and even though it was short, it wasn’t really lacking. They had a couple of missteps and they didn’t always communicate as well as they should have, but they both had big hearts and deserved the HEA more than either one of them realized.

I’ll probably be back tracking with this series or at least keeping an eye out for what comes next. Stay tuned. 😉