Unraveling by Rick R. Reed

Randy Kay has the perfect life with his beautiful wife and adorable son. But Randy’s living a lie, untrue to himself and everyone who knows him. He’s gay.
Marriage and fatherhood, which he thought could change him, have failed. He doubts if anyone can love him for who he really is—especially himself.
With his wife’s blessing, he sets out to explore the gay world he’s hidden from all his life.
John Walsh, a paramedic with the Chicago Fire Department, is comfortable in his own skin as a gay man, yet he can never find someone who shares his desire to create a real relationship, a true family.
When Randy and John first spy each other in Chicago’s Boystown, all kinds of alarms go off—some of joy, others of deep-seated fear.
Randy and John must surmount multiple hurdles on the journey to a lasting, meaningful love. Will they succeed or will their chance at love go up in flames, destroyed by missed connections and a lack of self-acceptance?

I know that I tagged this book as a M/M Romance, but that’s the least of what it is. I’m not saying that there isn’t any romance, because there is, but Randy and John don’t even “officially” meet until the book is around the half-way point. Even then, it takes them a little while to get there. What Unraveling really is about is Randy and everyone around him coming to terms with the fact that he’s gay.

The opening chapter in Unraveling is the first turning point in Randy’s new life. His wife, Violet, made a decision that I admired her for. She made other decisions later that were less endearing, but this story wasn’t just about Randy’s life. It was also about the fall out. It was at times heart breaking and at times uplifting – mostly because the characters were “real”.

Although Randy was at the center of the story, John and several of the supporting characters helped drive it. There were those that I adored and more than a couple that I was less than impressed with. And at least one that I went back and forth with.

It’s probably worth mentioning that Unraveling is set in the mid 80s, a time when AIDS and HIV was even scarier than it is now. The time frame added to the tension, but the same stigma and prejudice exists today, which is more than a little depressing. It may not have been an easy story to read, but it’s one that I’m glad that I did.

Howling on Hold by E.J. Russell

Sometimes it’s harder to teach a young dog new tricks.
That’s why werewolves embark on a Howling: a three-year rite of passage in which they’re sent to a group residence to wrestle with their wolfy instincts and assimilate into the Wider World. But Tanner Araya’s Howling is almost over, and he could be called back to his remote pack at any moment. His twenty-first birthday might be his last chance to act on his strongest instinct and finally kiss Chase Denney.
Chase is RA at the Howling residence affectionately dubbed “the Doghouse,” and he takes his job seriously. So seriously that when he realized he was developing feelings for a resident, he forced himself to keep Tanner at a distance. But now that Tanner’s twenty-one, he’s not Chase’s charge any longer. They could be friends or—if Chase is lucky—something more. At least until they both return to their home packs for good, as tradition demands.
It would take a miracle for them to get together—especially when the other Doghouse werewolves insist on “helping.”
Warning: Many Frisbees are harmed in this story, forgiveness is not always easier than permission, and the five-second rule does not apply.

The books in this universe created by E.J. Russell are so much fun! Of course, it’s not all fun, because there’s always a hint of danger.

The guys at the Howling residence are there to get a handle on their “wolves” and prepare them to take their place in each of their individual packs. Not all of them are happy about leaving though. Times have changed and a lot of the packs are still living in the past. Tanner is one of those who have no desire to go back, especially since he never really felt like he fit in there to begin with. And then there’s Chase, another big reason why he doesn’t want to leave.

Chase knows he’s not supposed to give into his feelings for Tanner, but the closer Tanner gets to the time when it won’t matter anymore, the harder it is for Chase to hold back.

There were a lot of twists and turns in Howling on Hold that definitely helped keep the pages turning. And that “hint of danger” came from a totally unexpected place.

As much as I loved meeting all the new guys, the cameos from a lot of my favorite characters in the previous series were a real treat. Which brings me to another point – Howling on Hold is probably not the place to introduce yourself to this world. Fae Out of Water is the introduction to this world and Cutie and the Beast is still one of my favorites by this author. 😉

 

Love on the Spectrum by Alec Nortan

LoveOnTheSpectrumHervé has Asperger’s, a specific kind of autism that makes him unable to interact with other people.
Luc has been severely scarred by fire and flees human presence to avert the way people glare and frown when they see him.
It was impossible for them to meet, but life sometimes likes to cheat the odds. Is it just a trick or a way to bring together two men who could be each other’s lifeline?

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1Such a sweet, sweet story. Both Hervé and Luc have the cards stacked against them. Luc is broken and Hervé is resigned. Neither one of them is looking for love, they’re basically trying to live as normal a life as they can by simply trying to fit in as best they can.

I fell in love with both of these characters immediately. They were just trying so hard to be “normal” – whatever that is. Both of them spent their lives on the outside, looking in. On a chance meeting their lives and their outlooks changed. It wasn’t easy and they had to really work at it, but they saw in each other what no one else really did.

This is my first read by Alec Nortan, but I will definitely be checking out more of his work.

DragonFlyRating4

Lord of Thundertown by O.F. Cieri

In the movies, Thundertown was depicted like a real town, with boundaries, Folk-run businesses, and a government. In real life, Thundertown was a block here or there, three businesses on the same side of the street, an unconnected sewer main, or a single abandoned building.
When an epidemic of missing person cases is on the rise, the police refuse to act. Instead, Alex Delatorre goes to Thundertown for answers and finds clues leading to a new Lord trying to unite the population.
No one has seen the Lord, and the closer Alex gets to him, the farther Alex gets from his path home.

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1I really wanted to like Lord of Thundertown. Actually, I did like a fair amount of it. The writing was great, the characters were intriguing and the world building drew me in. The problem was that this story line was all over the place. So much so that I spent a fair amount of time confused.

Even so, that doesn’t mean that I’m going to give up on this author. Given that this is not only the first book that I’ve read by O.F. Cieri, I’m pretty sure it’s their first book. I’ll be on the look out for more from this author.

DragonFlyRating4

Jeremiah (High Rise #1) by Jayce Ellis

Jeremiah Stewart’s sexuality is no one’s business. Not that he’s hiding it. When—if—he finds the right one, he’ll absolutely introduce him to Mom. But a late-night brush with a sexy stranger in too much lip gloss has him rethinking nearly everything…
To Collin Galloway, direction is a four-letter word. Sure, he hates his job, he hates living with his parents and he really hates watching everyone move on without him. But he doesn’t know what he wants to do, long-term, and he won’t figure it out by thirsting over Jeremiah, the superhot, superintense paramedic who is suddenly everywhere Collin looks.
When Jeremiah’s faced with losing all he’s worked so hard to build, he reluctantly accepts Collin’s help. They’re both determined to stay professional…which works about as well as either would imagine. But Collin only does closets with clothes, and Jeremiah has to decide if he’s finally found the one worth bringing home to Mom.

This is the first book by Jayce Ellis that I’ve read and I can pretty much guarantee it won’t be my last. Jeremiah was one of those books that drew me in. There was a lot going on with both Collin and Jeremiah, besides their budding attraction.

Jeremiah was being pushed out of a job that he really liked and Collin was desperately trying to find himself.

I really liked how this story played out. Jeremiah came from a large family that was close, but they all seemed to have their secrets. The only one who knew about Jeremiah was his youngest sister. He didn’t see any reason to come out until he met someone worth it. There was a lot of family history revealed during Jeremiah that made it even harder, but he would risk the fall out for the right person.

Collin didn’t have that problem. Besides the fact that he had been out for years, he didn’t have a family that seemed to care one way or the other – about anything. His only support came from his friends and things were even getting a little weird with them. Their first meeting wasn’t something to build a relationship on, but there was definitely attraction there on both sides.

It took them a while to figure things out – both for themselves personally and for their relationship. It wasn’t really a slow burn, but the emotional attraction took a little while. They were there for each other in ways beyond the physical attraction.

Along with being my first book by this author, it’s also the first book in Jayce Ellis’s High Rise series. André is next and I can’t wait to see who we’ll be introduced to.

Perfect Kiss by A.G. Meiers

One kiss can change everything.
So far, Detective David Gallagher has managed to keep his private life . . . well, private. There has always been some gossip about his sexual orientation, but it’s nothing the even-tempered cop couldn’t handle. All that changes in a flash when a new fire inspector joins his task force. With a few unfortunate remarks, the openly gay Travis Sommer outs David in a bar filled with their colleagues. Suddenly David can’t even get coffee without people whispering. To make matters worse, the two men have to work together for months to bring down a dangerous arsonist.
Finally, the case is closed. It’s New Year’s Eve—perfect time for a new start, but David’s anger burns as hot as ever. Rumors have reached his family, and after a tough day, David is ready to blow off some steam. But all bets are off when he runs into the one man who seems determined to cause havoc in David’s life.
There is just something about Travis Sommer that makes it hard to stay away, and David has to decide if he wants to hold on to his anger or give the new year a chance.

Another sweet read by A.G. Meiers in her Perfect Match series. The first one was Perfect Match and I loved them both.

David had a good reason for not trusting or even liking Travis, but the thing is, it was pretty obvious that Travis wasn’t a malicious kind of guy. He just didn’t think before he spoke, which could happen to anyone. But it caused a lot of issues for David and that kind of “outing” isn’t cool, whether it’s intentional or not.

Even though this was a short book (less than 100 pages) it was just long enough to get to know these guys well enough to realize that they were meant to be together. Perfect Kiss was a perfect short, sweet holiday read.

Anyone but You by Brien Michaels

Jack Kieza has a problem. He’s deeply attracted to men, but his homophobic family has left him too afraid to act on it. With his thirtieth birthday around the corner, his curiosity gets the best of him, and he finds himself at a gay club. After spending a fiery night with drag queen Sheila Saltue, everything changes. Especially when he discovers her alter ego: his boss, Ryan Swift.
Ryan knew he should’ve said no the second Jack approached him. Now he can’t stop himself from texting Jack every chance he gets. But Jack won’t let him take the wig off during sex, and being Sheila off-stage is wearing thin.
The more time they spend together, the more intense their feelings get, but Jack isn’t ready to date a man yet. When drag queens start turning up murdered, it forces Jack to reexamine his feelings, because what if Ryan is next? While Jack wants their burgeoning relationship to work, it would mean having to admit who he is to the world. And that’s an idea as frightening as death.

My first reaction when I finished Anyone but You was that “this one grew on me… slowly.” It’s not that I didn’t like Jack and Ryan, it’s just that I spent a lot of this book wondering how a relationship between them was going to work.

Ryan really had the upper hand in their “hook-up”. After all, he knew who Jack was from the beginning and knew exactly how complicated things could get. He couldn’t help himself though and even when Jack figured out who Ryan/Sheila really was, he couldn’t either. Ryan wanted more though and even his growing feelings for Jack weren’t enough to risk getting hurt in the long run.

Along with the burgeoning romance, there was also a mystery and a touch of suspense that kept the pages turning.

This was my first Brien Michaels read, but I’ll be on the lookout for more.

Hearts of Magic (Chevalier #3) by Kay Doherty

A moment of quiet was all Theran was looking for. He was not looking to be nearly decimated when he stumbled across a sorcerer near the pack’s hunting grounds. He’s certainly not looking for his mate when the pack congregates at Elysium for a meeting, but that’s exactly what Theran finds when he runs into the sorcerer a second time.
Colby has been the bartender at Elysium for a year, and he’s been relatively happy. He hides his paranormal identity well, flirting for tips while using sarcasm to keep others away. When he first saw the wolf in the forest, he was stunned. Learning the wolf he’s been dreaming about is real is only compounded by learning the wolf is his mate.
With the Sorcerer’s Enclave now interested in the Chevalier Pack, Colby attempts to protect Theran by kidnapping him, which only results in a deeper involvement with the pack. Despite managing the Enclave, dealing with increasing threats from the McBane Pack, and forging new alliances, Theran and Colby are determined to find their happy ever after.

This is one of those series that I get more emotionally invested in with each book. It also seems like each fated mated pair gets just a little bit more complicated. There was absolutely no way that having Theran and Colby be destined made sense. Colby was on a mission to find out more about the Chevalier Pack, he had no idea that he would find out more about them than he bargained for.

Theran was more than ready to find his true mate, but even so, he was kind of shocked to find out who it was. Regardless, once they figured it out there was no denying it and no turning back. Because of the threat to the Chevalier Pack, Colby’s main concern was protecting Theran, which didn’t go over too well with the rest of the pack.

There are still a few pack members who need to find their mate, along with at least one mated pair that is complicated? I can’t wait to see how Kay Doherty finds a way to finally get them together. Danger, mystery and plenty of heat… everything I love in a shifter series.

I Buried a Witch (Bedknobs & Broomsticks #2) by Josh Lanyon

Cosmo Saville adores his new husband, but his little white lies—and some very black magic—are about to bring his fairytale romance to an end. Someone is killing San Francisco’s spellcasters—and the only person Cosmo can turn to—the man who so recently swore to love and cherish him—isn’t taking his phone calls.
The only magic Police Commissioner John Joseph Galbraith believes in is true love. Discovering he’s married to a witch—a witch with something alarmingly like magical powers—is nearly as bad as discovering the man he loved tricked and deceived him. John shoulders the pain of betrayal and packs his bags. But when he learns Cosmo is in the crosshairs of a mysterious and murderous plot, he knows he must do everything in in his mortal power to protect him.
Till Death do them Part. With their relationship on the rocks, Cosmo and Commissioner Galbraith join forces to uncover the shadowy figure behind the deadly conspiracy…
Can the star-crossed couple bring down a killer before the dark threat extinguishes true love’s flame?

Funny story… this is my second read of I Buried a Witch. I read it at the end of last year, but it showed up on my TBR list on GoodReads. Now, I know that I could have backdated the read, because I definitely did read it, but I thought what the heck? It definitely wasn’t a hardship on my part to read the book again, so here we are. (This time I double checked to make SURE it was marked correctly on GR.)

You probably already guessed that I considered I Buried a Witch a great addition to Josh Lanyon’s Bedknobs & Broomsticks series. I have to admit that I went into this one a little leery after reading Mainly by Moonlight. Not because I didn’t like the book, but because John and Cosmo’s relationship was sorta doomed from the start and this book’s description is kinda ominous. I wasn’t wrong to be hesitant, but I’m glad I decided to dive in (twice). 😉

The mystery from the Mainly by Moonlight continues in I Buried a Witch, in a round about way. Much to John’s dismay, Cosmo finds himself playing amateur detective. John started growing on me by the end of the last book, but he lost some major points in I Buried a Witch. He had some definite old fashioned ways of thinking how marriage worked. Cosmo took it for the most part, mainly because he felt guilty for the secrets he was keeping from John. Eventually enough was enough and the inevitable blow-up happened.

Beyond the break-up, there was a mystery to solve and the danger was coming way too close to home. There were also some revelations about John’s family that threw and extra twist or two in the story. Things were looking a little bit better by the end of I Buried a Witch, so I’m not as worried about starting Bell, Book and Scandal. Even so, I’m also pretty sure that John and Cosmo haven’t gotten past all of their relationship hurdles. *sigh*

Boiling Over (Caro Mysteries #2) by Thea McAlistair

On the run from trumped-up murder charges, Alex Dawson and his boyfriend Sev settle in a small town in Vermont on the recommendation of Sev’s mob-boss cousin Bella. Chickadee is so tiny that it has only one major employer in the depths of the Great Depression: Trask & Co. Maple Sugar Mill. It’s a quiet place. That is, until Walter Trask is found in his own maple grove with his head smashed in.
Alex doesn’t want to have anything to do with the death, but things get much more personal when Bella is falsely arrested. Determined to free her and even the scales, Alex scours the town for clues as to what really happened. He quickly learns that small towns have big secrets that people may be willing to kill for. And if that weren’t bad enough, Alex and Sev’s once-sweet relationship is turning bitter under the combined pressures of isolation, anxiety, and jealousy. Alex needs to find the true murderer quickly before Bella is turned over to the feds, or worse, Sev walks out of his life forever.

Well, dear readers, I’ve done it again. I’ve picked up the second book in a series without reading the first. The thing is, I could have sworn that I double checked before I requested an ARC of Boiling Over. *sigh* Looks like I’ve added another book to my ever growing TBR pile, because now I HAVE to know exactly where Alex and Sev’s story began. Actually, I’ve added a couple of books to that ever growing pile because the ending of Boiling Over is most definitely not the end of Alex and Sev’s story. Not by a long shot…

I like a good mystery and Boiling Over definitely fell into that category. I don’t read a lot of historical books. It’s not because I don’t enjoy them. It’s mainly because it takes me a while to get myself into the time frame. I can’t really pinpoint why, but I didn’t have that issue with this book. I wasn’t even particularly lost having not read the first book, but I wouldn’t recommend it. It’s obvious that a lot happened in No Good Men. Those events in the first book in the Caro Mysteries sent Alex and Sev on the run with new identities and a lot to hide.

It didn’t take Sev and Alex long to find out that trouble can find you just as easily in a small town as it can in the big city. It seems that everyone has something to hide, which makes it pretty hard to figure out who the good guys are among the not so good guys and the really bad ones. While trying to figure that out by playing amateur sluth, Alex finds himself trying to see exactly where he fit in- if anywhere – including Sev’s world.

A few interesting twists at the end of Boiling Over left readers wondering where Alex and Sev will end up next. Now to figure out if I’m going to back-track or wait patiently for the next book in the Caro Mysteries series.