Unlocking the Doctor’s Heart by Liam Livings

Headstrong nurse Davie Penrose has moved to London from a small village in Cornwall to start work in the children’s transplant ward. He left to progress his career, but also to escape the painful memories of his ex-boyfriend, a workaholic doctor.
Ambitious Doctor Leo Westbury is in charge of a ward for now, but he has plans to be a medical director soon. Making use of his charm and avoiding commitment due to a painful past, he enjoys temporary relationships with male student nurses.
Clashing over a request to look around the ward before he starts work, Davie thinks Leo pompous, while Leo finds Davie bossy. Becoming friends over a shared passion for helping children on their transplant wards, they get closer through the inevitable ups and downs of caring for sick children. Physical attraction pulls them together; their pasts push them apart.
Both damaged and hurt in different ways, they might just find their happy ever after together.

I really wanted to like this one and there were parts of it that I did, but there was just something that kept me from really getting into Unlocking the Doctor’s Heart. I hate to say this, because most of the time, I’m wishing for more to a story. In the case of Davie and Leo, I think that their story would have been better if it had been shorter. Why? Well, it just felt like there was too much back and forth of the same doubts from both Davie and Leo. A lot could have been settled sooner than it was. *sigh*

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Rough Terrain (Out of Uniform #7) by Annabeth Albert

The camping trip from hell may be the first stop on the road to happily-ever-after.
Navy SEAL Renzo Bianchi has a soft spot for Canaan Finley, and not only because the man makes a mean smoothie. He’s the first guy to get Renzo’s motor revving in a long time. But when he agrees to Canaan’s insane charade—one all-access fake boyfriend, coming right up—he never expects more than a fling.
Creating a hot Italian SEAL boyfriend to save face seemed like a good idea…until his friends called Canaan’s bluff. Now he’s setting off into the woods with the very man who inspired his deception, and Canaan is not the outdoorsy type. The sparks are already flying when a flash flood separates them from their group, leaving Renzo and Canaan very much trapped…very much alone in the wilderness.
Working together to come up with a plan for survival is sexier than either of them expects. But back in the real world, being a couple is bringing its own set of hazards…

Oh Canaan and Renzo… as sorry as I was that Rough Terrain marked the end of the Out of Uniform series, I don’t think it could have ended with a more perfect couple.

On the surface, Canaan and Renzo weren’t even close to a perfect match. Renzo was totally focused on his military career and he had reasons for that focus. Canaan was just as focused. He was working his way through nursing school. He was also “nursing” a broken heart, but that didn’t stop him from being attracted to Renzo – and the feeling was mutual.

Attraction isn’t always enough and it took them almost losing each other to make them realize that their “pretend” romance was a little more real than they realized.

There was so much to love about this final installment. Like a few cameos from previous characters that I always enjoy. A glimpse at military life that’s pretty close to accurate (or as close to accurate as fiction can get.) Then there was the connection between Renzo and Canaan. The supporting characters were both great and aggravating at times – the perfect balance. Although I’m still sad that Out of Uniform has come to an end, I can’t wait to see what Annabeth Albert has in store for readers next. 😉

Perfect Match by A.G. Meiers

Secrets can derail even the most powerful attraction.
Logger Sven Larson has never found a man worth publicly coming out of the closet for. But his family has other plans. As a thirtieth birthday gift, his mother hires the online dating service Perfect Match to find Sven the love of his life. To say Sven isn’t thrilled is an understatement, but it’s too late to cancel, and Jayden Calver arrives.
Perfect Match’s success rate is unsurpassed, but they don’t come by it honestly: if a client can’t be matched, the agency uses a stand-in to fulfil their guarantee and protect their profit.
Tough luck has left Jayden in debt, and playing Perfect Match’s deceptive game is his only option. So he travels — sparkling toenails and all — to a remote camp deep in the mountains to meet Sven Larson and pretend to be his perfect match for a few days.
Sparks fly on first contact. But as the two men get closer, Sven grows more and more suspicious of Jayden, and Jayden struggles with guilt over his deceit. They both want a future together, but first they must find the courage to be honest with themselves and each other.

This was a really cute and sweet read. I loved Jayden even before readers were let in on his full story and then my heart broke for him. It was hard to get aggravated with Sven for not trusting Jayden for a couple of reasons. The biggest was because Perfect Match wasn’t what it seemed to be and Jayden was trying to deceive him. But there was also the fact that he was really a good person who was at the mercy of his well meaning family. Add to that the fact that he was falling for Jayden just as hard as Jayden was falling for him and it was impossible to not want things to work out for both of them – even though things weren’t stacked in their favor.

There were some extra surprises revealed in the epilogue of Perfect Match that leave some clues to the possibility of a series. I was really not a fan of the crew that runs the haphazard Match Making service, but… Well, I guess we’ll just have to see what comes next 😉

Scarred by Mia Kerick

Even in paradise, beautiful faces can hide scarred souls.
ONE tropical island.
Placida Island’s gentle ocean breezes and rolling surf beckon to those who wish to reside in remote tropical serenity.
TWO men living in self-imposed exile.
Wearing twisted ropes of mutilated skin on his back and carrying devastating damage in his soul from severe childhood abuse, Matthew North lives alone in a rustic cabin on the shore, avoiding human contact.
Gender fluidity his perceived “crime” against family and friends, Vedie Wilson flees his childhood home so he can freely express his identity.
THREE persecutors seeking their warped view of justice.
Vedie’s past refuses to stay in the faraway city he left behind when family members, intent on forcing him to change, threaten the precious peace he’s found.
TOO MANY scars to count.
Their beautiful faces masking deeply scarred souls, Matt and Vedie live in hiding from the world and each other.
Can they unite and embrace each other’s painful pasts, leaving the scars behind, to find love?

This was not an easy book to read, but I’m glad I did… Also, I’m not a “judge a book by its cover” kind of reader, but every once in a while (and not often enough) a cover captures a character perfectly. This one comes so close to how I pictured Matt in Scarred that it’s scary…

Both Matt & Vedie were broken. They both ended up on Placida Island to escape and hide. Matt was hiding from his past and Vedie was trying to find a place to be himself and feel safe while doing it.

Watching Matt keep his distance from Vedie and lie to himself about his feelings for him was painful. Watching Vedie try to be what Matt needed to be and knowing it would never be enough was even more painful. They loved each other, they needed each other, but there was too much baggage between them… My heart broke for them throughout most of Scarred.

There’s hope though and it takes them almost losing each other to find it, but eventually they do… and a lot more than they expected.

Ta Weezo’s Blues by Layla Doreen

Sabre never had any intentions of becoming the teacher’s pet. In fact, most of his school years have been spent trying to avoid attention. The scar that mars his cheek has made him wary of strangers, their questions and prying eyes leave him feeling exposed in ways he’s uncomfortable with. Accustomed to blending in, he lurks around the shadows in the back of classrooms, turning in exemplary work but rarely taking part in discussions.
Professor Locklear’s Native lit class is different though. Sabre’s interest in the subject matter, coupled with a dedicated scholar’s need to turn in the best work possible, leads him to seek out a more advanced reading list, much to the delight of Professor Locklear. When he comes across Sabre reading material beyond even the advanced list, Professor Locklear invites on a fieldtrip to a nearby village. Along the way he learns more than just the knowledge contained in the books. He learns about trust and discovers that there are others out there just like him— shapeshifters.
What he believed was an individual anomaly turns out to be something beyond legend and lore, a whole different culture he’d never known existed. The only way he can move forward is to let his shields down long enough to trust the man whose conversations he’s come to enjoy, but to do that, he’ll have to stop distancing himself from everyone.

Short and sweet, but I really liked this one. I love any kind of mythology and even though this falls under Native American lure, it intrigues me just as much.

Sabre doesn’t know his family history and he takes Professor Locklear’s class on a whim. He thrives on reading and learning. The fact that he wants to be an author just ads fuel to that need to learn. Professor Locklear wishes all his students had that same spark that Sabre has, which is just one of the things that attracts him to Sabre.

Once Sabre discovers he’s not as alone in the world as he thought he was, he’s determined to no longer fight his attraction to his professor. The rest of the story is fairly predictable as far as the romance goes, but I still enjoyed the story. This is my first read by Layla Dorine, but I have a feeling it won’t be my last. 😉

Between the Lines (New Milton #2) by Sally Malcolm

Theo Wishart has given up on finding love.
Luca Moretti doesn’t want to find it.
A handful of summer days may change their lives forever—if they’re brave enough to look between the lines.
Eyes might be windows to the soul, but for Theo Wishart they’re all shuttered. His dyspraxia makes it hard to read people. He doesn’t do relationships and he certainly doesn’t do the great outdoors. Two weeks spent “embracing beach life” while he tries to close the deal on a once great, now fading seaside hotel is a special kind of hell.
Until Luca. Gorgeous, unreachable Luca.
Luca Moretti travels light, avoiding all romantic entanglements. Estranged from his parents, he vows this will be his last trip home to New Milton. His family’s hotel is on the verge of ruin and there’s nothing Luca can do to save it. He’s given up on the Majestic, he’s given up on his family and he’s given up on his future.
Until Theo. Prickly, captivating Theo.
No mushy feelings, no expectations, and no drama—that’s the deal. A simple summer fling. And it suits them both just fine. But as the summer wanes and their feelings deepen, it’s clear to everyone around them that Theo and Luca are falling in love. What will it take for them to admit it to themselves—and to each other?

Well, this may be a first. I unknowingly picked up the 2nd book in a series – which for the record, happens more often than I’d like to admit. The new part was that I had already read the first book in the series, Perfect Day before I even knew it was part of a series. So I read Between the Lines not knowing it was part of the New Milton series. Rather serendipitous, don’t you think? Since all of the books can be read as standalone, I probably didn’t need to pick up the novella, Love Around the Corner, that falls between the two, but why break an unintentional streak?

Now, on to Theo and Luca… They were both thrown into impossible situations. Luca’s family feels they have no choice but to sell the Majestic – a huge part of their family history. It’s also a place that Luca called home while growing up, until he decided no home was better than one where he wasn’t welcome. He wants to save it, but has no idea how to go about it. Theo wants nothing more than to take his rightful place in the family business and the only way to do that is to close the deal on the Majestic. The only thing standing in his way is Luca.

I loved and felt for both these guys. It was a great “enemies to lovers” story. They both went into their “relationship” with no expectations, but somewhere along the way things changed and I loved watching them fall.

Between the strained family dynamics, their growing attraction and the fate of the Majestic, this was a pretty quick read for me. The romance was sweet and the guys were clueless when it came to where their hearts fell into the mix. I’m really glad I decided to pick this one up and I’ll definitely be checking out more from Sally Malcolm. 😉

Chasing Forever (This Time Forever #3) by Kelly Jensen

Old wounds, new directions, and a forever worth chasing.
Malcolm Montgomery was a history teacher and track coach until an accident left him with two broken legs. He’ll recover, but life has knocked his feet out twice now. He’s not sure if he’s ready to try again, especially when it comes to love—and slick guys like Brian Kenway. Still, he needs help mentoring the school’s LGBTQ society, so he asks Brian to take some responsibility.
Brian has been hiding behind his reputation as a liar and a cheat for so long that he actually believes he’s that guy—until his nephew, Josh, turns up on his couch, tossed out for being gay. Brian has never considered being a father, but he knows all about being rejected by loved ones. Now Brian wants to be more: a partner for Mal and a role model for Josh.
But when Mal’s recovery is set back and the sad truth of Brian’s past is revealed, the forever they’ve been chasing seems even further from their grasps. It’ll take a rescue effort to revive their sense of worth and make Brian, Mal, and Josh into a family of their own.

I didn’t want to like Brian, but he started working on me just a teeny tiny little bit in Renewing Forever so I knew it was inevitable. What I didn’t expect was to adore him – that was a total surprise ❤ I also didn’t expect for Chasing Forever to be my favorite book in the This Time Forever series – but that just happened too. Well played Kelly Jensen, well played indeed…

So, what tipped me over the edge? It wasn’t just one thing, it was a little bit of everything. The glimpse into his past, his determination to protect Josh and a few well kept secrets all added to my love of this seemingly unlovable character. Things aren’t always as they seem and Brian had become quite adept and keeping his best traits well hidden.

There was a lot more to love about Chasing Forever besides Brian. The supporting characters were great, which included new characters as well as those from the previous books. There were a few characters that brought out the “momma” in me and made me want to jump into the book and shake some sense into them… I also liked the focus on second chance romance for all the characters in this series who thought they had reached an age where that chance had passed them by ❤

Brian was the perfect way to end This Time Forever, but I’m still sorry to say goodbye to this group of friends. I’m really looking forward to what Kelly Jensen has in store next for readers. 😉

Owned by Fate (Dragon Soul #5) by Sean Michael

Dr. Mike Beteferoce turned his back on magic long ago. His heart broke and his desire for a soul mate disappeared. When he sees his family crest branded above Corryn’s heart, his first instinct is to flee. The last thing he wants now is a Fae interfering in his life—especially one who has already rejected him.
But fate has other plans.
Corryn knows Mike is his soul mate, has known since the sigil was branded on his skin centuries ago. Long before Mike came to him as a studly young dragon just entering his prime. It was far too early for them to be together then, but now their time has come.
But despite their draw to each other, Corryn doesn’t believe Mike can accept him for who—and what—he is. Mike must breathe life into their bond—loving Corryn as both soul mate and Fae—if they are to fulfill their destiny.

Mike & Corryn’s story was both sweet and heartbreaking, which I didn’t expect. Corryn had lived with the pain of knowing what he did to Mike for centuries. Because of his denial and rejection, Mike turned to another Fae who broke him in more ways than one. Corryn never stopped loving him though. He had very good reasons for turning Mike down all those years ago, but he also knew he could have handled it a lot better than he did. For that reason, he went to great lengths to try to make things right, but Fate had other plans.

Their destiny brought all the Beteferoce brothers and their mates together in Owned by Fate. Since Corryn had finally found what he thought he had lost – at least in this lifetime, he wasn’t anxious for things to end quite so soon.

This series had its ups and downs and there was a LOT of sex, so if that’s not what you’re used to, prepare yourself. I admit that there were times that I skimmed through parts of all of these books, but I still loved the story and the world that Sean Michael built around these dragons and their mates.

Rough Trade (Woodbury Boys #3) by Sidney Bell

Quick-witted hustler Ghost is no stranger to living dangerously; survival has always been the name of the game.
He’s just always gone it alone.
Now he’s got the wrong people breathing down his neck, and the only way out demands placing his trust in the unlikeliest of heroes: Duncan Rook, a gruff cop whose ethics are as solid as his body.
Cozying up to a criminal is hardly what Duncan’s reputation on the force needs—especially when that criminal is temptation personified. Ghost is Duncan’s polar opposite, and the last person he expected to fall for.
So then why does every imaginable scenario for taking down their common enemy end with Ghost in his arms?

Oh Ghost… I’m always sad to see a series end, but it was inevitable. After all, there were only three boys and the only one that this series could possibly end with was Ghost. Rough Trade provided a perfect balance in what seemed like impossible odds against both Ghost and Duncan….

Readers who have followed the Woodbury Boys have seen many sides of Ghost, but even those who had known him the longest couldn’t really say that the knew him. His friends loved him, worried about him and would pretty much do anything for him, if he’d let them. He kept his distance on purpose. He loved his friends too, but he didn’t really like knowing that they knew it. He even gave himself excuses for doing the things that he did for them. He depended on no one but himself and he wanted to keep it that way. He also didn’t care about what other people thought about him, until Duncan.

I, like a lot of other readers, wondered who Sidney Bell could possibly pair Ghost with and Duncan was definitely not what I expected. He was perfect though. The dynamic between Duncan and Ghost was crazy and ironically fun considering that they were basically on the run from the beginning of Rough Trade. Ghost’s “logic” about right and wrong and skirting the law drove Duncan nuts. On the flip side, for reasons that not even Ghost understood, he wanted to be “good” and not disappoint Duncan and that drove ghost nuts. The attraction that Duncan felt for Ghost and his determination to ignore it at all costs kept the tension thrumming between them. Ghost had no idea how to deal with that determination and Ghost being well… Ghost, considered it a challenge.

Aside from the romantic tension flowing between Ghost and Duncan, there was a lot going on in Rough Trade. They were on the run from two very powerful people in powerful positions. The odds were definitely against them and they had to find a way to rely on others while still trying to keep them safe. That alone kept the pages turning. Readers also learned a lot about Ghost’s past and none of it was easy.

I can’t pick my favorite in this series. From the time I picked up Loose Cannon I was hooked and couldn’t wait for Hard Line. Rough Trade brought everything to a satisfying end and is just one of the reasons why Woodbury Boys has been added to my list of favorite series.

Stay a Little Longer (Fate, Texas #1) by Jess Bryant

Country music superstar, Trent Thorne is on the run. What he’s kept hidden from the world is no longer a secret. He trusted the wrong person, a man he’d stupidly thought he was in love with, and instead of a happily ever after all he’d gotten was outted. Unwilling to sit around and watch his private life get plastered all over the news, Trent hits the road and somehow ends up in his best friend Lemon’s small hometown of Fate, Texas.
Lance Nichols knows a thing or two about hiding. He’s so deep in the closet he can’t even see daylight. The former womanizer finally admitted the truth to himself a few years ago but he never thought he’d be able to say the words aloud, not to his family, not to his friends, and certainly not to his secret celebrity crush when the guy stumbles awkwardly into his life.
Fate brought these two together, but will it also tear them apart? One newly outed man refuses to go back in the closet. The other can’t imagine coming out of his.

What brought Lance and Trent together was a comedy of errors, which was hard to not see coming, but it was still a really interesting way to meet. If not for the events that brought Trent to Fate in the first place it would have been even more comical.

Lance was the town slut and he didn’t have a lot of friends, but Fate was home for better or worse. Trent’s been through enough without getting attached to someone who can’t be honest, but these two have a hard time staying away from each other. Watching Trent fall and Lance battle with how to keep both Trent and his secret kept the pages turning. The fact that the characters were witty, fun and there was plenty of smexiness didn’t hurt either 😉 I also think that everyone should have a friend like Lemon in their life and if anyone knows if she has her own book floating around somewhere, please let me know…

Speaking of which, this was my first Jess Bryant book, but I’m pretty sure it won’t be my last. Especially with the next books in the Fate, Texas series. Since her writing covers several genres, which fits with my eclectic reading style, I can’t wait to check out her other series as well. 😉