Wash Out (Anchor Point #7) by L.A. Witt

Casey Olson has always known he was destined to be a Navy SEAL, and the best day of his life was when he was accepted into training. The worst day was when a snapping bone ended his dream.
After three combat tours in five years, Logan Carter left the Marines and self-destructed. Now he’s sober and, thanks to a forgiving ex with friends in high places, has a promising job as a civilian contractor. All he has to do is stay on the rails and out of a bottle, even when his demons won’t leave him alone.
Logan likes his job, and he really likes the gorgeous man at the next desk. Casey tries not to check Logan out, but who is he kidding? From the start, despite their best efforts, neither man can resist the other. Sizzling chemistry leads to sex so hot they can both almost forget why they’re stuck in this office to begin with.
It would be perfect, except Logan can’t stop reliving wars he’ll never forget and Casey can’t stop grieving the SEAL he’ll never be. And they’ll never have a future together until they can make peace with their pasts.

I loved these guys, I really did, but I also got aggravated with them more than once. I also sympathized with both of them. However, if I had to take sides with either Logan or Casey, I’d have to go with Logan.

Before anyone points this out, I know that I usually don’t choose sides. Especially when both characters are living with their own brand of pain. I could just relate to Logan’s honesty. He had been where Casey so desperately wanted to go and even though he knew that Casey didn’t want to hear it, he couldn’t hold back the relief that Casey wouldn’t have to endure what he did. Casey couldn’t see past his pain and loss and lashed out at Logan every time he voiced that relief. They both had issues that they had to work on individually and even though age was never mentioned (at least not that I noticed) Casey had a lot of growing up to do along with the healing.

Having said all that, it doesn’t mean I didn’t like Casey, because I did. I also think that they were good for each other. In a strange way, Logan’s past helped Casey see things in a way that he never had – and never really wanted to see before. Logan had screwed up, a lot, but he was making up for it and he was also a lot stronger than he gave himself credit for. There were a couple of close calls, but even at some of his lowest points, he pulled himself back up.

Wash Out was most definitely Casey and Logan’s story, but it was great seeing past characters. Readers who have followed the series had met both Casey and Logan in previous books briefly. It was nice finding out what happened to Casey after his accident and giving Logan a chance to make up for everything he put Clint through in Afraid to Fly, the second book in L.A. Witt’s Anchor Point series. I was also really happy to spend some more time with Diego from Once Burned. And yeah, you can probably read each one of the books in the Anchor Point series as a stand alone, but I like all these little glimpses into past characters.

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Amending Plans by C.M. Corett

Luc Weston is employed by his uncle as a cartographer. He’s an office dwelling creator of maps and plans, but as his uncle’s heir, he must learn all aspects of the company. Specifically, surveying. The upside—spending time with the gorgeous surveyor, Rick Masters, in a cozy cabin. The downside—the cabin is in the woods. Luc hates nature, and nature hates him. He’s got the injuries and bites to prove it. How can he impress Rick in such a foreign and hostile environment?
Rick Masters can’t believe he has to babysit the boss’s privileged nephew for two weeks. Come on, the man turned up for a mountain survey wearing skinny jeans and toting a suitcase on wheels. But Luc’s attitude and self-deprecating humor has surprised him. Perhaps he’s misjudged him? He’s nothing like the robust outdoorsmen Rick is usually attracted to, and yet…those skinny jeans sure hug him in all the right places. But Rick has a plan for his life, and a man like Luc Weston could never be part of it. No way!CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1

If you’re in the mood for a short sweet read, with a touch of humor and two characters who are total opposites, but totally perfect together, then Amending Plans will be right up your alley. 😉

Luc is just as described, a tad nerdy, totally at home in his city environment and a total klutz when it comes to anything outdoorsy. Rick was the total opposite, more comfortable outdoors and at home in the woods – the more rustic the accommodations, the better. There was no possible way that these to were even remotely compatible. Yet…

Luc has lusted over Rick for a while, which is why he almost freaks when his uncle suggests that he shadows him. He doesn’t want to give Rick a bad impression of him – but impressing him isn’t remotely possible. Except that’s exactly what he ends up doing, even though he thinks he’s totally screwed things up. It’s Luc’s personality and attitude that eventually win Rick over. Yet, they still have a few minor obstacles in their way to a HEA.

This was my first CM Corett read, but I’m pretty sure that I’m going to be checking out what else she has to offer. Happy reading!

Lock Nut (The Plumber’s Mate Mysteries #5) by J.L. Merrow

Tom Paretski, plumber with a talent for finding hidden things, and his private investigator fiancé Phil Morrison have been hired to locate a runaway husband, Jonathan Parrot. The job seems simple enough—until their quarry turns up dead in a canal, and a photofit of Tom’s face is splashed all over the news, making him chief suspect.
The widow, petite ex–porn star Lilah Lovett, is convinced her husband was killed by his gay lover, but Tom and Phil aren’t so sure. Worried they may have precipitated Jonathan’s death, they’re determined to find the real killer. But with a web of incestuous ties linking the suspects, it’s hard to know who to trust. Especially when a second victim dies a gruesome death.
Meanwhile, with their wedding looming and them sharing a house now, Tom’s worried it may all be too much, too fast. The last thing he needs are the mixed messages Phil seems to be sending out. They’ll need to get back on the same track if they want to make it to their honeymoon together—and alive.

Another great mystery and another case of miscommunication. If I didn’t love these two so much, I might have gotten a tad aggravated with them. *sigh*

Honestly, I think my aggravation stems from the fact that I’ve always liked Tom and his sense of humor. When he gets so wrapped up in himself and acts like he’s not being treated fairly… that just doesn’t fit with the part of his personality that I fell in love with. I’m just not used to liking Phil more than Tom, but I guess that explains why Tom loves him so much. Regardless of my on again, off again feelings toward Tom, Lock Nut was a great addition and fitting end to the series. (Although I wouldn’t object to checking in on them in the future 😉 )

There was a lot going on in this book, especially where the mystery was concerned. I can honestly say that I didn’t figure out the who of the “who-dun-it” until close to the end, but I don’t want to give anything away. You’ll just have to pick up Lock Nut and follow the trail to the bad guy yourself.

There were a couple of HEAs by the end of this one and everything was wrapped up quite nicely. It took Tom and Phil awhile, but I think the journey was worth it.

Roped In (Clean Slate Ranch #2) by A.M. Arthur – Bout of Books 22 Review

For Colt Woods, Clean Slate Ranch is home. The dude ranch in Northern California helped him heal from a devastating breakup. So when his ex-Dom, the man who broke his heart, waltzes onto the ranch, Colt doesn’t know how to deal.
A research job at a nearby ghost town brings history PhD Avery Hendrix to Clean Slate. He’s not in town forever, but it doesn’t take long for him to feel the familiar draw to Colt. When they find out they’ll be sharing a cabin on the ranch, it’s all Avery can do to stop himself from bending Colt over a saddle right then and there.
In such close proximity, Colt’s and Avery’s old feelings come galloping back. Soon Colt is doing his master’s bidding again and loving every moment of it. And the pair may be in for the ride of their lives—if the dedicated professor and his rugged cowboy can learn to trust again.

The Clean Slate Ranch promises to be a great series. I loved the first book, Wild Trail. It was the perfect start to the series and was actually a perfect set up for Roped In.

At the end of Wild Trail, Colt’s world crashed around him. He arranged for Avery to come to Clean Slate Ranch to help one of his best friends work on the ghost town that was discovered near the ranch. Avery had no idea that Colt had kept a secret from Mack. A secret that was destined to destroy a relationship with the only family Colt thought he had left. That slip changed everything for Colt.

Avery honestly thought that Colt would have told Mack the truth in the time that they had spent apart. That secret was also one of the reasons why they split in the first place. Honestly, I can understand why Colt couldn’t find a way to tell Mack. He wasn’t even supposed to know the details of what really happened the day Mack’s boyfriend was killed in a robbery gone wrong. I also understood why Avery thought that Colt should confide in Mack. It really was a no win situation and I felt bad for everyone involved.

There was a lot of healing in Roped In and a lot of miscommunication. The BDSM was also a strong aspect in Roped In – which is kind of hit or miss for me in a romance, but it fit the characters.

If I had to rank the books in this series so far, Wild Trail would definitely be my favorite. I did enjoy Roped In though and I loved the set up for the next couples in the series. 😉

Bones and Bourbon (Deadly Drink #1) by Dorian Graves

Half-huldra Retz Gallows is having an awful day. First, he wakes up in the middle of driving to who-knows-where with an angry unicorn head in his passenger seat. This is almost normal, thanks to a lifetime of sharing a body with Nalem, a bone-controlling spirit with a penchant for wicked schemes and body-stealing joyrides. It’s probably a bad idea to ask what else could go wrong.
Jarrod Gallows left home with plans to rescue his little brother from possession. Instead, he got saddled with a dead-end job as a paranormal investigator, a Faerie curse, and a daredevil boyfriend who might be from another world. At least he’s got a new job—except why is his brother Retz here and why does this sudden reunion feel more like a bane than a blessing?
This day’s going to get worse for the Gallows brothers before it gets better. To survive, they’ll have to escape the forces controlling them, as well as the wrath of carnivorous unicorns, otherworldly realms, and even their own parents. Only time will tell if they’ll make it out alive…or sober.

First, I’m not a “book cover” reader, but honestly, the cover on this book definitely got my attention. Enough that I took a chance on a new author. (The synopsis was a pretty good draw for me too 😉 ) I’m happy to say that this is one time that a cover definitely lived up to the book.

I had no idea what to expect from Bones and Bourbon, but needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised. From the very first chapter, the mystery and action didn’t stop. Not only that, the world building was as much a part of the story as the characters involved.

Part of the reason why I’m drawn to PNR is my love of mythology and it seems that the Deadly Drink series will be full of mythological creatures and legends. The twists that Dorian Graves has added to her take on some familiar creatures was more than interesting. Blood thirsty unicorns for example.

Family is a strong force in Bones and Bourbon as well and there were times that it was hard to tell if the brothers were working for or against each other. There were twists and turns that had my head spinning, danger, mystery and a little bit of romance thrown into the mix – all of it thrown together to keep the pages turning.

It wasn’t clear from the end of Bones and Bourbon, but I was more than a little excited that this book was just the beginning of series. A series that I can’t wait to continue. I can’t wait to see what the Gallows brothers – and company – get into next.

Murder Takes the High Road by Josh Lanyon

Librarian Carter Matheson is determined to enjoy himself on a Scottish bus tour for fans of mystery author Dame Vanessa Rayburn. Sure, his ex, Trevor, will also be on the trip with his new boyfriend, leaving Carter to share a room with a stranger, but he can’t pass up a chance to meet his favorite author.
Carter’s roommate turns out to be John Knight, a figure as mysterious as any character from Vanessa’s books. His strange affect and nighttime wanderings make Carter suspicious. When a fellow traveler’s death sparks rumors of foul play, Carter is left wondering if there’s anyone on the tour he can trust.
Drawn into the intrigue, Carter searches for answers, trying to fend off his growing attraction toward John. As unexplained tragedies continue, the whole tour must face the fact that there may be a murderer in their midst—but who?

I’m pretty far behind with my Josh Lanyon reads. Murder Takes the High Road is only the third book I’ve read by this author. (Fatal Shadows & Dangerous Ground) I have no idea why it’s taken me this long to pick one up, but now that I’ve gotten a taste for this author’s style, I’ll definitely be checking out more.

There was a lot going on in Murder Takes the High Road, but it didn’t make things confusing. It simply made the pages turn faster. There was the fact that Carter had to dodge his ex at every corner (along with his new significant other), the mystery of who exactly John was and what he was doing on a tour centered around a specific author who he obviously knew little or nothing about, the mystery of death apparently plaguing the trip and the actual tour itself.

The romance was sweet, the mystery was intriguing and the suspense was nail biting… I loved every minute of it. 😉 Twists, turns, mysteries within mysteries, a fairly unlikely suspect and just a little bit of romantic heat. The perfect mix. 😉

Medley (Changing Lanes #2) by Layla Reine

Sebastian Stewart was never Mr. Dependable; he was more the good-time guy who only wanted to swim, party, and ink tattoos. Until he cost his team the Olympic gold four years ago. Bas is determined to do right this time around—by his medley relay team and his rookie mentee.
Jacob Burrows is in over his head. The Olympic experience—from the hazing, to the endless practices, to the unrelenting media—makes the shy nineteen-year-old’s head spin. He’s trying to be everything to everyone while trying not to fall for his gorgeous tattooed teammate who just gets him—gets his need to fix things, his dorky pirate quips, and his bisexuality.
When Jacob falters under the stress, threatening his individual races and the medley relay gold, he needs Bas’s help to escape from drowning. Bas, however, fearing a repeat of his mistakes four years ago, pushes Jacob away, sure he’ll only let Jacob down. But the only path to salvaging gold is for Jacob to finally ask for what he needs—the heart of the man he loves—and for Bas to become the dependable one.

I’ve really liked this series as well as both Jacob and Bas when they were introduced in Relay, the first book in Layla Reyne’s Changing Lanes. I fell in love with this author’s writing when I picked up Single Malt, the first book in her Agents Irish and Whiskey series. From that moment on, she landed on my “must read” list and I haven’t been disappointed yet.

Oh Bas and Jacob… they were so perfect together… and such a royal mess apart. *sigh* Sebastian had his reasons for keeping his distance. There was a lot riding on their performance and Bas couldn’t risk screwing up as badly as he did the first times team had made it this far.

Jacob was hard to resist though. He was fun, quirky and even though he was the youngest and least experienced, he quickly proved himself as the “heart” of their team. He was loyal, fun and wasn’t afraid to stand behind his team mates regardless of what they faced. Sebastian didn’t really give himself enough credit and didn’t realize how much he had grown in four years. He also didn’t realize that he wasn’t the same person as he was then – and Jacob wasn’t the same person he walked away from then either.

There was still some left over drama from Relay and I loved how tight this group of men proved themselves to be. There were moments when I wanted to knock some sense into both Bas and Jacob, but they got their act together by the end. 😉

I can’t wait to see what Layla Reyne has in store for readers next 😉

Life of Bliss (Love Life #2) by Erin McLellan


LifeOfBliss1
Nobody plans to accidentally marry their frenemy with benefits.

Todd McGower and Victor Consuelos do not like each other. They can’t have a conversation without insults flying, and Victor seems to get off on pushing Todd’s buttons. The fact that their antagonism always leads to explosive sex . . . well, that’s their little secret.
Victor has a secret of his own. His full-blown crush on Todd is ruining his sex life. He hasn’t looked at anyone else in months, and he’s too hung up on Todd to find a date to his cousin’s wedding.
In a moment of weakness after a heart-stopping night together, Todd agrees to be Victor’s fake boyfriend for the wedding. Victor will have his plus-one—which will get his family off his back—and Todd will get a free mini-vacation. It’s a win-win.
But pretending to be fake boyfriends leads to real intimacy, which leads to too much wine, and suddenly, Todd and Victor wake up with wedding bands and a marriage license between them. That was not their plan, but a summer of wedded bliss might just change their minds.

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1I’ve loved this series so far. Actually, I’ve loved all three books I’ve read by Erin McLellan. This is the second book in her Love Life series, although, I didn’t realize it was going to be a series when I read Life on Pause. I’m glad I read that one first though. I suppose Life of Bliss would be an okay read as a stand alone, but it’s so much better already knowing a little bit about Victo and Todd. 😉

As you probably already gathered, Todd and Victor were introduced in Life on Pause. They were both friends of Niles and Rusty. So… if you’re friends with one, it’s a package deal. The problem is, there’s always a lot of tension when the four of them get together. Only, Niles and Rusty have no clue that the tension is a lot more complicated than it seems on the surface. Turns out that they’ve been “seeing” each other on a strictly sexual basis for quite some time and NO ONE – even their very best friends – has a clue.

Life of Bliss was a pretty sweet romance. Victor and Todd cared about each other a LOT more than either one of them realized. Well, at least a lot more than they wanted to admit to each other. 😉 

Once Burned (Anchor Point #6) by L.A. Witt

Captain Mark Thomas’s world has been tossed on its head: A long overdue but still unexpected divorce. A promotion out of left field. Last-second orders to a ship where careers go to die. As the dust settles in his new home, he barely recognizes his life, but he sure recognizes the loneliness creeping in.
Diego Ramírez wants nothing to do with the military or its men. Not after the Navy burned him both literally and figuratively, costing him his career, his health, and ultimately his green card. Now working illegally in an Anchor Point bar, he keeps the military and its personnel at arm’s length.
But after a single moment of eye contact across the bar, Mark and Diego can’t resist each other. As a one-night stand quickly turns into more, Diego knows he’s playing with fire. Now he can stick around and let things with Mark inevitably fall apart, or he can run like hell and wonder what might have been. One way or another, Diego knows he’s about to get burned. Again.
50% of the author’s royalties from this book will be donated to charities supporting US military veterans who have been deported or are at risk of deportation.

If you’ve been reading the books in the Anchor Point series, you know that readers met Diego in the previous book, Going Overboard. He was Dalton’s best friend and earned just enough page time to make me really look forward to his story. I wasn’t disappointed.

Both Mark and Diego are more than a little bit broken when they meet. Diego has good reason to not want to have anything to do with the military. Falling someone who has obviously decided to make the military his career is someone he needs to stay away from. The problem is, once he gives in, he finds it hard to stay away.

Mark is lost. His marriage wasn’t a great one, far from it, but it was familiar. When he sees Diego for the first time, he’s more than a little surprised that the connection just feels right. These two are drawn to each other physically, but it doesn’t take long for them to form a real connection.

Diego is drawn to Mark, but he knows that there’s no future between the two of them. Trust is hard for him and Mark means well, but he’s oblivious to the situation that Diego is in. Not because he’s unfeeling, just because he had no idea how bad things really were and how precarious his situation really was.

For the record, L.A. Witt did an amazing job of handling this touchy subject. I fell in love with both of these characters and really felt for both of them. Diego because of the situation he was in and Mark because of his determination to make things right, regardless. This was definitely another great addition to the Anchor Point series and I can’t wait to see what comes next with Wash Out – the next book in the series. 

Magic Runs Deep by Alex Whitehall

For the last five years, Veier has been chained to a king’s throne in his bear form. When a neighboring kingdom overthrows the crown, Veier’s imprisonment ends, but true freedom is not so easily earned. With blood on his hands, he needs someone with patience, strength, and trust to help him become the person he was before and prove to the invaders that he isn’t the monstrous king’s loyal pet.
Elrid, the invading king’s brother and a powerful mage, is everything Veier despises. He’s also the only thing between Veier and execution, because he thinks he can help Veier change from an aggressive bear shifter into a reasonable man. While the pair have a rough start, with long talks and mutual leaps of faith, they begin to care for each other.
However, the closer Veier gets to his freedom, the closer he is to losing Elrid. He must find balance in his heart and his life if he wishes to truly claim the freedom he’s been given—and the man he loves.

I had no idea what to expect from Magic Runs Deep, but I was pleasantly surprised. One thing that you need to be aware of before you pick it up is that it’s labeled as PNR, but it’s not heavy on the romance. There is a romantic thread and a strong connection between Veier and Elrid, but the actual story is more focused on Veier and his journey.

I have to admit that Magic Runs Deep took me a little while to get into, but once I got to know Veier and Elrid, the more wrapped up in it I became. Veier did some things that he wasn’t proud of, but he did them to survive. By the time Elrid and his brother found him, he barely recognized himself. He had spent so much time under the King’s control that it was hard for him to tell right from wrong. He knew that if he wanted to gain his freedom he had to agree to the terms of the new power and most importantly to trust Elrid. Not an easy task when he had spent years controlled by magic and Elrid was a powerful mage.

Elrid kind, compassionate and patient. He saw beyond the monster that they found when they first overthrew the previous king. Veier hadn’t always been a beast who had to fight for his life and somehow Elrid recognized that.

I’ve only read one other book by Alex Whitehall and that was Second Skin, which I really liked, but it was also one of those books that was cut too short. Not only was Magic Runs Deep about twice as long, the characters were much more developed, which makes me really happy that I didn’t pass this one by.