Hard Bitten by M.K. York

Rule number one: hands off the witness
As a newbie public defender, Mark Eliades is stuck defending DUIs. But when his latest client gets charged with felony arson, the result is a career-making case he has to win. The last thing he needs is to fall for his key witness. Any hint of impropriety and his credibility will be shot, along with Mark’s case. But the more time Mark spends with the jaded private investigator, the more the rules began to blur.
Tired of endless nights chasing people who don’t want to be found, private investigator Lukas Nystrom needs a change—and a guaranteed paycheck. When a high-profile contract with the state falls in his lap, he can’t screw it up. Even if it means ignoring his growing desire for the hotshot attorney who hired him.
Convinced their client is innocent, Mark and Lukas team up to investigate the crime. With the trial looming and every lead gone cold, they work relentlessly to uncover the truth. But keeping things professional while searching for evidence they need might just make this the hardest case they’ve ever taken on.

I’ve only read one other book by M.K. York – actually I think that Necessary Medicine and Hard Bitten are her only two books. I liked both, but I feel the need to warn anyone who is thinking about picking either of these books up that they were each a super slow burn romance. If you’ve read Necessary Medicine, you know that the romance between Eli and Neal spanned years. The time span of Hard Bitten wasn’t nearly as long, but for a lot of reasons, the romance between Mark and Lukas had to wait – but it was worth it 😉

I really liked both Mark and Lukas. They were both trying to make a difference in their own way. They also worked well together. In some ways, too well. The attraction was mutual, but neither one of them wanted to risk the case. Watching these two work through the growing attraction while keeping each other at a not so comfortable distance kept the pages turning.

I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for more from this author. 😉



Where Death Meets the Devil by L.J. Hayward

Jack Reardon, former SAS soldier and current Australian Meta-State asset, has seen some messy battles. But “messy” takes on a whole new meaning when he finds himself tied to a chair in a torture shack, his cover blown wide open, all thanks to notorious killer-for-hire Ethan Blade.
Blade is everything Jack doesn’t believe in: remorseless, detached, lawless. Yet, Jack’s only chance to survive is to strike a bargain with the devil and join forces with Blade. As they trek across a hostile desert, Jack learns that Blade is much more than a dead-eyed killer—and harder to resist than he should be.
A year later, Jack is home and finally getting his life on track. Then Ethan Blade reappears and throws it all into chaos once more. It’s impossible to trust the assassin, especially when his presence casts doubts on Jack’s loyalty to his country, but Jack cannot ignore what Blade’s return means: the mess that brought them together is far from over, and Ethan might just bring back the piece of Jack’s soul he thought he’d lost forever.

Just a quick FYI – I have one really, really big complaint with Where Death Meets the Devil… I want more… I would most definitely not object to a sequel (or 2 or 3 😉 )

I honestly have no idea where to begin with this review. I have to admit, I wasn’t sure how I felt about this book in the beginning. There are a few unique twists to Where Death Meets the Devil, the most notable is the fact that the chapters alternate between “Then” and “Now” and that’s exactly how they were titled. At first, I wanted to hurry up and get through the “Then” chapters to get back to where the previous “Now” chapter had left off… then, it got to the point where I didn’t want the “Then” chapters to go by quite so quickly. It was like an entire book full of mini cliff hangers and that’s not an exaggeration.

Those “Then” and “Now” chapters were more than just a way to give readers a glimpse into the past, they built the suspense. There were times that you thought you were missing something, only to realize that you weren’t supposed to know everything. Where Death Meets the Devil wasn’t only hard to put down, it kept you on your toes.

Even though I’m a huge fan of books that give readers more than one POV, that wouldn’t have worked with Jack and Ethan. Having Ethan remain a mystery throughout the book made it more intense and in many ways brought the reader even further into the story.

Where Death Meets the Devil is one of those books that will stay with you for a while. I’ve read a couple of really good suspense books in the last few years and this one is pretty close to the top of my list of must reads that I want to recommend to everyone. It’s also one that I’m sure I’ll probably re-read. Especially since the author recently revealed that we’re going to be getting more from Ethan and Jack. ❤

Losing It (Ringside Romance #4) by Christine d’Abo

Finn Miller doesn’t do social. He works his IT job from home as often as he can to avoid people. If it weren’t for his weekly training sessions at Ringside Gym, he might never leave his apartment. And he only does that because of Leo, the gym member he’s in love with. When Finn gets talked into attending a speed dating fundraiser at the gym, his greatest wish is to have the courage to try to say something—anything—to Leo.
Justin McCormick has spent most of his adult life being used, whether playing a corporate heavy, or acting as guard dog for his ward. So when he leaves Vancouver for a fresh start in Toronto, he doesn’t quite know what to do with himself.
The moment Justin sees Finn at a speed dating event, he knows there’s no way he’ll make it without a little help, so he offers to coach Finn on the art of conversation. What he doesn’t count on is his unexpected attraction to this shy boxer, or his fear that if Finn gets his way, Justin might lose out on his best chance at love.

If this series had to end, I’m glad that it ended with Justin… and trust me, I never thought I’d be saying those words. He was most definitely not my favorite character when he was introduced in Faking It, the second book in the Ringside Romance series. Up until the very end of Max and Grady’s story, he played the “bad guy” and he was more than a little convincing. For the record, I love it when an author makes me fall for a character that I never expected to even like. 😉

Justin’s trying to turn his life around, which is how he ended up in Toronto. He never expected to get the help he know he didn’t deserve from Grady and his friends. He also didn’t expect to fall for someone he was only trying to help. Finn turned out to be just as clueless as Justin in Losing It. He thought that Leo was who he really wanted, but Justin (and pretty much everyone else) knew that Leo wasn’t good enough for him. Of course, Justin didn’t think he was good enough for Finn either. *sigh* Both these guys needed a huge hug and a healthy dose of self confidence – which is another thing I never thought I’d say about Justin.

Everyone from the previous books in the Ringside Romance finale, which was only fitting. It was great to see them all happy, whole and thriving. I’m sorry to say goodbye to this crew, but the author did an amazing job of bringing things to a satisfying end.

Relief Valve (The Plumber’s Mate Mysteries #2) by J.L. Merrow

If you dig up the past, be prepared for some dirt to stick.
The relationship between Tom Paretski, a cheeky plumber with a gift for finding hidden things, and PI Phil Morrison may only be a few weeks old, but already it’s under attack. Tom’s friends and family are convinced the former bully isn’t good enough for him, and they’re not shy about saying so.
Then Tom’s prickly older sister, Cherry, is poisoned at her own engagement party. Tom’s left reeling and not knowing who to suspect. Could it be her new fiancé, Gregory, a cathedral canon with an unfortunate manner and a taste for taxidermy? Or someone from her old writers’ circle, which she left after a row? Or could the attack be connected to her work as a barrister? Meanwhile, Tom’s honorary auntie’s left him a gag gift from beyond the grave that could be more significant than anyone knows.
Phil’s fighting against the clock to solve the case before somebody ends up dead. And with the poisoner hiding a dark secret, Phil’s terrified Tom could have been the target all along.

Tom and Phil, Gary and Darren and now Cherry and Gregory plus a crazy, eccentric aunt with a somewhat sordid past thrown into the mix… so much happened in Relief Valve, I’m not quite sure where to start.

I’ve loved Tom from the beginning and Phil is kinda growing on me. Since Tom is totally smitten with him, I guess I can give him the benefit of the doubt. That’s more than I can say for Tom’s family once they realize who he’s dating. Seems Phil has a bit to make up for, but readers already knew that.

There’s more than one mystery happening in Relief Valve and more than a couple of revelations. Cherry’s life is in danger and no one really knows who may have it out for her. There’s a lot about her that Tom doesn’t know, which makes it hard for him to figure out whose secret is the most important and there’s a lot of them in Relief Valve.

As the tension rises, even more drama unfolds and it takes awhile for things to settle enough to figure out his own personal mystery. Heat Trap is next and for Tom, the real mystery continues. 😉

Going Overboard (Anchor Point #5) by L.A. Witt

Second-class petty officers Dalton Taylor and Chris Ingram have been best friends since coxswain’s school. Now they’re stationed together in the harbor patrol unit of NAS Adams. They’re content as friends, but secretly, they both ache for more. Neither makes a move, though; while Dalton is out and proud, Chris is closeted—even from his best friend.
Then another coxswain’s negligence nearly drowns Dalton. After a taste of how easily they could lose each other, neither man can keep his feelings hidden anymore, and it turns out love and sex come easy when you’re falling for your best friend.
Things aren’t just heating up between the friends-turned-lovers, though. The Navy is investigating the accident, and the harbor patrol chief isn’t going to let his star coxswain go down for dereliction of duty, even if saving him means throwing Dalton under the bus.
As the threats and gaslighting pile up, Chris and Dalton need each other more than ever—as shipmates, friends, and lovers. But if their chief prevails, the only way they can save their careers is to let each other go.

Anchor Point is turning into one of my favorite Military Romances. I’m not sure if I can say that Going Overboard was my favorite in the series, but it’s close. There were a couple of things that made this book unique to the series and although it could probably be read as a stand alone, there were a couple of key characters who would make it worth reading the rest of the series. If for no other reason, just to get to know them better. 😉

So what makes Dalton and Chris’ story different? Well, first, they’ve known each other for a long time. They started out together, got separated for a while, then ended up on the same base. They had a long history and they had grown to love and respect each other long before there was any romance between the two. Especially since Dalton had no idea that Chris was gay because he kept it hidden from everyone, including him. On the surface it may have seemed unnecessary, but the color of Chris’ skin had subjected him to more than enough discrimination. He didn’t need to add being gay to the mix. Plus, falling for your best friend is complicated. There was just too much to lose.

The other thing that makes Chris and Dalton’s story different from the previous stories in Anchor Point is that they were being personally attacked by a superior officer. All the couples before them had obstacles to overcome, but they were different. The battle that Chris and Dalton were fighting seemed so daunting to them that they had no choice but to give up. There were times that I wanted to push these two into trusting someone, anyone, who could stand up for them and actually help. They had to make that decision on their own though. I think the “mom” in me came out because these guys seemed so young compared to all the characters who had come before them.

I’m looking forward to the next book in the Anchor Point series. At least one of the characters in Once Burned was introduced in Going Overboard, which promises to keep things interesting. 😉

The Wolf at the Door (Big Bad Wolf #1) by Charlie Adhara

Hunting for big bad wolves was never part of Agent Cooper Dayton’s plan, but a werewolf attack lands him in the carefully guarded Bureau of Special Investigations. A new case comes with a new partner: ruggedly sexy werewolf Oliver Park.
Park is an agent of The Trust, a werewolf oversight organization working to ease escalating tensions with the BSI. But as far as Cooper’s concerned, it’s failing. As they investigate a series of mysterious deaths unlike anything they’ve seen, every bone in Cooper’s body is suspicious of his new partner—even when Park proves himself as competent as he is utterly captivating.
When more people vanish, pressure to solve the case skyrockets. And though he’d resolved to keep things professional, Cooper’s friction with Park soon erupts…into a physical need that can’t be contained or controlled. But with a body count that’s rising by the day, werewolves and humans are in equal danger. If Cooper and Park don’t catch the killer soon, one—or both—of them could be the next to go.

My initial thought when I first finished this book: I love it when a new author blows me away with the first book in what promises to be an amazing series. ❤ That pretty much sums it up! So, yeah… you probably want more, right?

It’s already been established that this book blew me away – I hate to repeat myself, but this is a new author and Charlie Adhara’s first book. I find that simply amazing because this book was so much more than I expected. Especially since the plot took readers places that I never expected and the twists and turns were intricate, but never slipped. Not every revelation was a surprise, but some of them were. Even though the plot was at times complex, this author never lost me, not once.

I loved both Cooper and Park. Even though I’m a huge fan of getting both characters’ POV, this story wouldn’t have been nearly as good if readers would have been in Park’s head as well. Cooper had a lot of reasons not to trust Park. It was no surprise that Park gained my trust a lot sooner than he gained Coopers, but… well, you’ll have to read the book and experience it for yourself. Trust me, it is so worth it.

I have to admit that what initially drew me to this book was the PNR aspect – especially since it included werewolves. The Wolf at the Door was so much more than a PNR book though. There was intrigue, mystery, danger, suspense woven right along with the romantic tension between Park and Cooper.

One thing’s for certain, I’m extremely happy that this book is part of a series. I for one can’t wait for the Big Bad Wolf to continue. 😉

Trick Roller (Seven of Spades #2) by Cordelia Kingsbridge

It’s the height of summer in Las Vegas. Everyone believes the serial killer Seven of Spades is dead—except Levi Abrams and Dominic Russo—and it’s back to business as usual. For Levi, that means investigating a suspicious overdose at the Mirage that looks like the work of a high-class call girl, while Dominic pursues a tough internship with a local private investigator. The one bright spot for both of them is their blossoming relationship.
But things aren’t so simple. Soon Levi is sucked into a dangerous web of secrets and lies, even as his obsession with the Seven of Spades intensifies. Dominic knows that Levi isn’t crazy. He knows the Seven of Spades is still out there, and he’ll do anything to prove it. But Dominic has his own demons to battle, and he may be fighting a losing war.
One thing is certain: the Seven of Spades holds all the cards. It won’t be long before they show their hand.

I know that you are used to me recommending not to skip books in a series, especially one that centers on one couple and the story builds from book to book. Trust me when I say that Seven of Spades is most definitely one of those series. Trick Roller starts pretty much where Kill Game took off and if you haven’t read the first book, you will not appreciate the other… like I said, trust me.

So much happened in Trick Roller that I don’t want to give anything away. The mystery and suspense in this book is just as important as the relationship between Levi and Dominic. Levi has secrets and Dominic is fighting demons, but they have to overcome all of that to stay one step ahead of the latest threat and the Seven of Spades, even though he’s been suspiciously quiet.

One thing’s for sure, Cash Plays, the next book in the Seven of Spades series can’t come soon enough. Can you say cliff hanger? Yeah, Trick Roller most definitely went there…

Romantic Behavior (Bad Behavior #4) by L.A. Witt & Cari Z

Detective Andreas Ruffner is no fool—he’s found a man who loves him, puts up with him, and has stuck with him through hell and back, and it’s time to put a ring on it. Darren Corliss is the love of his life, and he wants the whole world to know it.
Now the fun part—the wedding!
Well, after the not-so-fun part of planning the wedding in between dealing with overbearing and impossible-to-please family members. With future mothers-in-law driving them both up a wall, the guest list growing out of control, and the wedding getting ever more complicated, Darren and Andreas have to wonder if they’re in over their heads.
But they’re going to make it to the altar if it kills them . . . and at this rate, it just might.

I admit it, I’m never really happy when a series comes to an end. However, if it does have to end (which most of my beloved series eventually do) Romantic Behavior is a perfect example of how it should be done (in my opinion anyway 😉 )

Andreas and Darren have been through so much, it’s about time they get their HEA. Nothing comes easy for them though, not even something as deceptively simple as planning a wedding. There are in-laws, outlaws and everyone in between. I was beginning to wonder if they could actually pull it off.

These two were determined though and with the love and support of everyone that mattered, they finally reached their well deserved HEA. I’m still sad to say good-bye to one of my favorite romantic suspense M/M couples, but I have no doubt that this dynamic writing duo will be bringing us more amazing couples (either together or on their own) to fall in love with in the future. 😉

Down by Contact (The Barons #2) by Santino Hassell

Simeon Boudreaux, the New York Barons’ golden-armed quarterback, is blessed with irresistible New Orleans charm and a face to melt your mama’s heart. He’s universally adored by fans and the media. Coming out as gay in solidarity with his teammate hasn’t harmed his reputation in the least—except for some social media taunting from rival linebacker Adrián Bravo.
Though they were once teammates, Adrián views Simeon as a traitor and the number-one name on the New Jersey Predators’ shit list. When animosity between the two NFL players reaches a boiling point on the field, culminating in a dirty fist fight, they’re both benched for six games and sentenced to joint community service teaching sullen, Brooklyn teens how to play ball.
At first, they can barely stand to be in the same room, but running the camp forces them to shape up. With no choice but to work together, Simeon realizes Adrián is more than his alpha-jerk persona, and Adrián begins to question why he’s always had such strong feelings for the gorgeous QB.

Readers met Simeon in the first book in The Barons series. He was the real reason Gavin found himself under house arrest in Illegal Contact. Speaking of which, if you haven’t read Gavin and Noah’s book, you really should. I suppose that you could read Down by Contact as a stand alone, but I wouldn’t recommend it. (I never really do, when it comes to series) 😉 )

Anyway… Down by Contact is Simeon and Adrián’s story. These two had a rocky start, but the more time I spent getting to know Adrián and seeing them together, the more I really liked them both. The kids in the story are great, as well as the directors at the center. The athletes didn’t win any of them over in the beginning, but I didn’t expect them to. Simeon and Adrián not only learn to trust each other, they gain the trust of the kids, workers and parents, which was amazing to watch.

There’s a lot more to this story than the growing romance between Simeon and Adrián – which made me love their relationship even more. There were also a few characters in Down by Contact that were easy to dislike, but I have a sneaky suspicion that Santino Hassell isn’t quite done with them yet. I’m kinda looking forward to it as The Barons continues. 😉

Tribute Act (Porthkennack #8) by Joanna Chambers

Nathan Bridges hadn’t intended to settle down in his home town of Porthkennack—he just ended up staying after saving the family business from ruin. The truth is, Nathan can’t stop himself from stepping in when problems arise. He’s a fixer, the man everyone turns to. But even fixers can’t solve everything.
When Nathan’s sister needs an organ transplant, it’s his stepbrother, Mack, who the family turns to as Rosie’s only potential living donor. Nathan’s curiosity about the stepbrother he’s never met turns to shock when he realises that Mack is his latest—and hottest ever—one-night stand.
Nathan and Mack agree to forget their single night together, but that’s easier said than done. When Mack moves in to Nathan’s place to recuperate after surgery, it’s not just the sexual tension between them that keeps growing. Against all the odds, and despite Mack’s wariness of intimacy, the two men grow close enough that Nathan begins to wonder what it would take to mend the rift that’s kept Mack and his father estranged for over a decade . . . and whether Mack might consider staying with Nathan in Porthkennack for good.
Every time I pick up a new book in this series, I think I found my favorite. The thing his, at 9 books in, I really don’t think I can pick just one. They all add a new layer to life in the small town of Porthkennack. Even though they can all easily be read as a standalone, every once in a while readers get a glimpse of previous characters. What’s even more fun is that since the books in the series are written by several different authors, those glimpses add even more layers.
Over the past several weeks, I’ve read a couple of books that involved relationships between family members that aren’t exactly related. Tribute Act was the first. Under other circumstances, this might have bothered me, but Nathan and Mack grew up not even knowing each other. I guess what I’m getting at is, don’t let the familial relationship turn you away from this one. There was so much more to this story than that.
I loved these guys. Nathan and Mack didn’t just jump into a relationship. I liked the slow burn, even though they had a previous encounter before they knew their connection to each other, they didn’t jump into anything. They came from incredibly different backgrounds, which was kind of sad because Nathan had everything Mack didn’t, including the love and support of Mack’s father. (Just a side note, I really didn’t like the guy…) I loved Nathan’s mom though and his sister was great. What she was going through gave her a totally different perspective than most kids her age.
The next book in the Porthkennack series is One Under by J.L. Merrow, who was the author who began the series with Wake Up Call. I can’t wait to see what she has in store for the next set of characters.