Five Dares by Eli Easton

Andy Tyler has been the class daredevil since middle school. Over the years, he’s convinced his best friend, Jake Masterson, to perform some dangerous-looking stunts with him. But the dare they attempt on the night of their college graduation goes sideways. The firecrackers explode too soon and both of them end up with badly burned palms.
But hey, nothing gets the “terrible two-o” down for long, and they recuperate in style at Andy’s family cottage in Cape Cod . As the weeks go by, both Andy and Jake grow frustrated over the inability to use their hands for all sorts of daily activities—including getting off. So Andy begins a new series of dares that don’t just cross the friendship line, they obliterate it.
But what might be mere sexual relief to Andy is serious business to Jake, who only recently got over years of secret pining for his straight best friend. Inevitably, the burns heal, summer ends, and hearts are broken. To fix things, Andy will have to face the greatest dare of all.

Oh Andy and Jake… I loved these guys. I loved the spontaneity of Andy and the fact that Jake always had his back. As the story progressed and the author gave readers little glimpses into their past, I grew to love them even more.

Andy and Jake were quite a pair. They both worked hard to get to where they were. They’d been together forever and for the first time in forever they were heading in totally different directions. It made a crazy kind of sense to pull off one last stunt. Crazy being the operative word. 🙂

Five Dares was one of those books that was just as much fun as it was touching… and heart breaking. Jake had his life after graduation planned. He had a job and his sister was waiting for him. Andy has his future planned too, but it wasn’t a future he was excited about. Leaving Andy behind was only part of what he dreaded.

Both Andy and Jake learned a lot about themselves in Five Dares. They also learned a lot about each other. They had a unique relationship and a great one. I loved that they finally found out exactly how much they meant to each other. The dares were a crazy way to figure it out, but whatever works, right? 😉 

 

 

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Off Campus (Bend or Break #1) by Amy Jo Cousins

Everyone’s got secrets. Some are just harder to hide.
With his father’s ponzi scheme assets frozen, Tom Worthington believes finishing college is impossible unless he can pay his own way. After months sleeping in his car and gypsy-cabbing for cash, he’s ready to do just that.
But his new, older-student housing comes with an unapologetically gay roommate. Tom doesn’t ask why Reese Anders has been separated from the rest of the student population. He’s just happy to be sleeping in a bed.
Reese isn’t about to share his brutal story with his gruff new roommate. You’ve seen one homophobic jock, you’ve seen ’em all. He plans to drag every twink on campus into his bed until Tom moves out. But soon it becomes clear Tom isn’t budging.
Tom isn’t going to let some late-night sex noise scare him off, especially when it’s turning him on. But he doesn’t want any drama either. He’ll keep his hands, if not his eyes, to himself. Boundaries have a way of blurring when you start sharing truths, though. And if Tom and Reese cross too many lines, they may need to find out just how far they can bend…before they break.
Warning: This book contains cranky roommates who vacillate between lashing out and licking, some male/male voyeurism, emotional baggage that neither guy wants to unpack, and the definitive proof that sound carries in college housing.

This is only the 2nd book by Amy Jo Cousins that I’ve read. The first was a Holiday novella, Glass Tidings and since I really enjoyed that one too, I really need to pick up more of her books. Maybe I can rectify that by continuing the Bend or Break series. 😉

I really liked both Tom and Reese – and they were both broken in very different ways. Seems to be a theme in my recent reads, doesn’t it? Since this book is told strictly from Tom’s POV, readers found out his back story fairly early. At least most of it. Reese’s issues were a mystery, but once Tom found out why he was promised a room to himself. Why he was so crushed when he found out Tom was his new roommate, things changed. For both of them.

To say that Off Campus was filled with angst would be a slight understatement. Granted, there was good reason for it, but I still wanted to smack some sense into Tom more than once. He couldn’t see past his determination to do everything for himself and as a side affect, he had little trust for anyone but himself. Even Reese. Which almost caused him to lose everything. *sigh*

Both of these characters grew a lot and I loved them even more by the end. I also love their friends – Cash and Steph. Spoiler: I’m definitely going to have to read this series up to The Girl Next Door 😉

Boyfriend Material (Ethan & Wyatt #2) by K.A. Mitchell

BoyfriendMaterialPhysically, it’s easy for Ethan and Wyatt to be together—well, if “easy” means stolen moments when Ethan’s roommate is away, or sneaking away to a hidden nook in the library. Privacy is hard to come by in a dorm, but finding ways to connect is half the fun. 
Emotionally, though, that’s a different story. Wyatt isn’t sure if a relationship is something he can make last—years of having to hide his emotions have left him with a shaky sense of self-confidence. And when it’s time to head home for the holidays, their steamy on-campus connection may not translate so well to the real world…

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1This installment of the Ethan & Wyatt series was short and sweet, but that doesn’t meant it was lacking… especially in emotion.

The first book in this series was Getting Him Back, which introduced Ethan and Wyatt. It would have been easy to get frustrated with Wyatt’s hesitance to trust what he and Ethan had. Their relationship was still new and since readers had the advantage of being in Ethan’s head in Getting Him Back, we had a slight advantage. The tables were turned in Boyfriend Material and readers got a chance to find out exactly how insecure Wyatt really was… and why.

Even though Boyfriend Material was short and sweet (just under 100 pages) it covered a lot of ground. Wyatt may not have been able to totally trust what he had with Ethan, but even when they weren’t together, it gave him quality time with his uncle. That time gave him the confidence to believe that things for him could actually turn around.

Beyond Ethan and Wyatt, there were characters that I both loved and hated… some of those characters I wasn’t quite prepared for. Those confrontations made me love Ethan just a little bit more – they also didn’t gain Blake any brownie points. I really thought… well, you’ll just have to read Boyfriend Material to see what I mean. *sigh*

Needless to say, I’m really hoping that there’s more to come for Ethan & Wyatt. 😉

DragonFlyRating4

 

Promised at the Moon (Shifter Rising #1) by Rebekah R. Gainer

PromisedAtTheMoonIf he can save her from her past, she could be his future. 
Natasha Moon is running for her life. Though she’s managed to evade a forced mating, she arrives at a California safe house with no idea if the parents who entrusted her to an enigmatic Alpha are alive or dead.
The lone wolf who gets her to safety draws her like a magnet. But to him, she seems to be just another shifter in need. Just another female he thinks he can boss around.
Liam Grey avoids attachments at all costs. With his own demons to fight, he sticks to relocating shifters in trouble, not playing social worker. But when beautiful, fragile Natasha shows up desperate for more than just a place to stay, his inner wolf howls for a chance to give—and be—everything she needs.
Liam has his hands full keeping Natasha safe from other shifters, and from his own desire. But when Natasha’s ex-boyfriend tracks her down, Liam will have to push beyond the brink to keep her for himself—or lose her for good.
Warning: Contains an Alpha who can’t help sticking his nose in where it’s not wanted, and a feisty female who secretly wishes he’d rethink his paws-off policy.

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1As series starters go, Promised at the Moon did a good job of introducing the characters and laying the ground work for the author’s take on werewolves.

The book starts with Natasha’s escape and continues with her fleeing to a new life. Once she meets Liam, everything changes. At least for her. She doesn’t know that Liam is battling his attraction to her as well.

I liked the twists and turns and getting to know all the characters. Some of them surprised me and my opinions changed, but not all of them.

I also liked the way things worked out in the end, but since Promised at the Moon is part of a series, there’s more to come. 😉

DragonFlyRating4

Getting Him Back (Ethan & Wyatt #1) by K.A. Mitchell

GettingHimBackEthan may have followed his high school sweetheart to college only to get dumped his first day there, but he’s not going to let that stop him from exploring all his new life has to offer. Sex-only hookups, his photography, new friends and a campus-wide game of zombies vs humans all help keep his mind off his broken heart and move him toward building a new, better life without his ex.
And then there’s Wyatt. Mysterious, grouchy—hot. And possibly not gay. But Ethan’s not going to let that stand in the way of figuring out what makes Wyatt tick. New college goal? Get Wyatt into bed and into Ethan’s life.
Step one: arrange a “tutoring” date. Step two: “accidentally” bump into Wyatt as often as possible. Step three: explore the sexy body under that ever-present hoodie. And when their friendship deepens into something neither of them expect, convince Wyatt he’s not just a pity fling or a one-time hookup, but that Ethan is in it for the long haul.

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1Poor Ethan… even though I knew it was coming, his breakup with Blake was still heartbreaking. To put it mildly, Blake was a jerk. I liked the fact that Ethan didn’t let it totally crumble him though. It took him a while to pick himself up and come up with his plan, but not too long.

Wyatt was a mystery, but I still liked him. I didn’t particularly like Ethan using him to get Blake back for more than one reason. The obvious was because Blake was a jerk (have I mentioned that?) and the less obvious was that I didn’t want Ethan to ruin anything he may eventually have with Wyatt.

Besides Wyatt, Ethan had a couple other friends that were great. His roommate Connor and his friend Makayla help him to see that there’s more to campus life than classes and his dorm.

Even though I didn’t approve of Ethan’s initial motives, he came around and I ended up wanting to learn more about the mysterious Wyatt as much as he did. Getting Him Back turned into a sweet romance that I really didn’t expect. What’s even better is that this isn’t the end, which is good, because there is definitely more to their story.

DragonFlyRating4

Break My Fall (Falling #2) by Jessica Scott

BreakMyFallViolence. 
I’m addicted to it. It’s how I feel alive. It’s the only thing that’s real any more.
And now I have to sit around and discuss it like it’s physics or calculus. 
I can’t do it. I can’t pretend that it’s some sterile academic topic. 
Violence isn’t sterile. It isn’t calm. It’s pulsing. It’s alive.
It’s my drug.
Until I met Abby, I never wanted anything beyond the next fight. Never considered that I might finally find a way back to the land of the living.
Now? Now I find myself dreaming of a woman with golden eyes.
But I can never be with her. Because I am not whole. And I never will be again.
But I cannot stay away. And loving her might finally be what breaks me.

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been a fan of Jessica Scott’s military love stories for a while. Even though Falling was her first venture into the New Adult genre, I didn’t hesitate picking up the first book, Before I Fall. Once you fall in love with a series after reading the first book, there’s always a danger that the books that follow won’t quite live up to that high you get with starting something new. I didn’t have that fear when I picked up Break My Fall. I was rewarded with a book that was just as intense and emotional as the first, with characters that I fell in love with from the time they were introduced.

You need to know going into this series that it’s not a sweet romance. These characters are broken and fragile, but they’re also stronger than they give themselves credit for. There’s also a realness about them that pulls you in and makes you feel for them. I think that’s one of the things I love most about Jessica Scott’s writing. Her military background adds to the ‘realness’ that gives her characters a depth and dimension that they wouldn’t have without that knowledge.

As for Abby and Josh? Abby was suffering from her own demons and falling for Josh was a risk, but one that she couldn’t turn away from. Josh was more broken than anyone knew, but he couldn’t pull himself away from Abby even though he knew it could totally break him as well as her. It took them a while to figure out that they were much better off together than apart.

Break My Fall was intense and at times heartbreaking, but it was also full of hope and even humor. The characters were smart and witty and full of life. That includes the supporting characters, who were, once again, just as important as Abby and Josh. They added another layer to the story through their interactions between Abby and Josh.

I don’t think that you have to read Before I Fall to enjoy Break My Fall, but I wouldn’t skip it. The first book lays the groundwork. It’s gives some insight into the different things these young soldiers face when they come home and the steps they have to take to try to get back even a little of what they’ve lost and find a new kind of normal. Not everyone’s journey is the same, but they’re all important. I’m going to try to remember that before the next book in the series comes out. If I Fall features one of my least favorite characters so far, which means Ms. Scott has her work cut out for her. I have no doubt that she’s up to the task.

DragonFlyRating5

Reckless Hope (Letting Go #2) by J. Leigh Bailey

RecklessHopeWhat’s life without a little risk?
Or a lot of risk, if you’re Sebastian Carlisle. He’ll never live up to the legacy of his dead brother, so why try? Being the wild child in a family of stuck-up rich snobs suits him just fine.
Until he meets Micah Burke, and everything changes.
Micah’s got too much going on for a relationship. Even if he could trust Sebastian, a distraction—a sexy, reckless distraction with a death wish—would only derail his carefully scheduled life. If it were just Micah, maybe that would be fine, but his mother and sister depend on him, and he can’t let them down. Or at least that’s what he tells himself.
A hot moment leads to a hot night leads to a connection neither of them are ready for. And when a crisis hits Micah’s family hard, Sebastian will have to shed his bad-boy image and decide whether he can be the man Micah needs—and Micah needs to decide whether he’ll let him.

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1I’m so glad that this book had alternating POVs. Otherwise, I would have had a hard time sympathizing with Sebastian. On the surface, he was a spoiled brat who took full advantage of his financial status. Underneath, there was a lot more to him than even he realized. Unfortunately, Micah didn’t have the same advantage that readers did, so Sebastian had his work cut out for him.

Oh Micah… he had so much responsibility at such a young age. He was one disaster away from losing it all. The last thing he needed was a rich playboy distracting him. He trusted no one but himself to shoulder all that responsibility and he was coming close to failing miserably. These two guys needed each other, whether they knew it or not.

I’m not sure whether Micah or Sebastian broke my heart more. The sympathy I felt for Micah was obvious, but Sebastian’s need kind of sneaked up on me, mostly because his pain was hidden under layers of denial. He carried a lot of guilt, but he wanted to be seen for something other than the screw-up that he was known for. Micah kept a lot hidden from Sebastian as well, but his need was obvious regardless of what he kept hidden.

I liked the way things played out and I was happy that some of the characters weren’t as bad as I thought they were in the beginning. I was also kind of disappointed that at least one character didn’t get what they deserved, but I’m okay with the eventual HEA regardless.

Just a quick note… you don’t have to read Letting Go in order since none of the characters in Nobody’s Hero are even mentioned in Reckless Hope. I’m not sure what the future holds for the series, but both books are excellent, so you can pick up either one and not feel like you’re missing anything at all.

DragonFlyRating4

Seth and Greyson (The Coincidence #7) by Jessica Sorensen

SethAndGreysonAfter being betrayed by someone he thought he loved, Seth leaves for college hoping to get a new start. But leaving his past behind is more complicated than he expected, and underneath his upbeat attitude, Seth struggles with opening up to people.
Then he meets Greyson.
Seth is instantly drawn to Greyson and his sweet and charming personality. But even though he feels a strong connection with Greyson, Seth’s still hesitant to open his heart to love.
With the help of his best friend Callie, Seth realizes he needs to overcome his fear of commitment. But will he be able to finally admit how he truly feels about Greyson?

Yes, this is book 7 in the Coincidence series and yes, this is the first book in that series I’ve read. Are you honestly surprised? For those of you wondering, Seth & Greyson turned out to be a pretty good stand alone. Mostly because it seems that the books in this series jump all over the place as far as order goes. That’s not a criticism though. It actually makes a strange sort of sense.

I fell in love with Seth the moment he decided to take Callie under his wing. He was fun, supportive and brought the best out in people… but he was just as broken as Callie.

Greyson was amazing. He was patient with Seth, even though he wanted him to open up to him and let him help. Seth was slow to trust anyone though and he had every right to be cautious. Basically these characters pulled me in and wouldn’t let me go.

This was definitely a character driven story… both the good and the bad. The thing about Seth’s back story is that the people who he should have been able to trust did as much damage as the people who physically hurt him. Those are the kind of stories that make me not only shake my head but I end up wanting to jump in and protect. It’s a mom thing I suppose, but I both love and hate it when an author makes me feel that strongly about a character. *sigh*

This is also my first Jessica Sorensen read, but it won’t be my last. I originally picked up Seth and Greyson because it was a short M/M Romance, but the rest of the characters have now grabbed me and I need to get to know them all just a little bit better. I’m sure it won’t be long before I pick up The Coincidence of Callie & Kayden.

DragonFlyRating4

Before I Fall (Falling #1) by Jessica Scott

BeforeIFallStay focused. Get a job. Save her father’s life.

Beth Lamont knows far too much about the harsh realities of life her gilded classmates have only read about in class. She’ll do whatever it takes to take care of her father, even if that means tutoring a guy like Noah – a guy who represents everything she hates about the war, soldiers and what the Army has done to her family.

Noah Warren doesn’t know how to be a student. All he knows is war. But he’s going to college now to fulfill a promise and he doesn’t break his promises. Except he doesn’t count on his tutor being drop dead gorgeous and distracting as hell. One look at Beth threatens to unravel the careful lies Noah has constructed around him.

A simple arrangement turns into something neither of them can deny. And a war that neither of them can forget could destroy them both.

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1I’ve been a fan of Jessica Scott’s military love stories for a while, but it’s also been a while since I’ve read one. When I found out that she was delving into New Adult territory, I jumped at the chance to read her first book in the Falling series. I wasn’t disappointed.

There was so much to love about Before I Fall, I’m not sure where to start. Beth was an amazing character to start this series. The opening statement in the description may seem a little over the top, but it’s exactly what Beth was dealing with in a very real way. Everything for Beth was a fight and had been since she was sixteen years old. Her mom abandoned her and her father when things got tough. Beth was left to pick up the pieces, take over the finances and literally fight for the healthcare that her dad deserved.

Noah came back from the war more broken than even he realized. He wasn’t in a great place either physically or mentally when he met Beth. She made him want to be a better person, but it wasn’t that easy. When Beth finally revealed some of her own secrets, he wanted to be strong for her. To do that he’d have to come to terms with his own issues, before it was too late. The inevitable crash for these two was heartbreaking.

I felt for both of these characters. Beth wasn’t wrong for decisions she made regarding Noah, but she wasn’t entirely right either. Her judgement was clouded by her own reality, which was understandable. Noah was as much a victim of circumstances beyond his control as Beth and her father. It came down to much more than right vs. wrong, it was more a matter of survival the only way either of them knew how.

The supporting characters were an important part of Before I Fall. They gave the characters strength and love when they needed it most. They added to the depth of the characters by helping them reveal parts of themselves that they couldn’t reveal to anyone else. I love it when supporting characters are… well… supportive.

Interlaced within the depth of the characters and the touching love story was the evident personal knowledge that it took to bring this story to life. I’ve always admired that with Jessica Scott’s writing and the switch in genres didn’t change that. If you’ve been a fan of her adult military romances, you will definitely enjoy Before I Fall. If you’re new to this author’s writing, it’s also a perfect place to start. Needless to say, I’m really looking forward to see where this series goes next.

DragonFlyGreen4-5

 

Inferno Park by J.L. Bryan

InfernoParkCarter was only twelve when he witnessed the disaster that killed more than a hundred people at Starland Amusement Park. Five years later, Carter’s hometown is no longer a busy Florida panhandle resort, but a slowly dying town full of empty motels and attractions rusting behind chains and padlocks.

Now something evil stirs in the ruins of the old amusement park…something with an alluring siren song drawing visitors into the dark mysteries of the forbidden world behind the gate. Something with an appetite for restless, yearning souls. 

Carter reluctantly returns to the old park in the company of a new girl in town, who is obsessed with urban decay and pop-culture ruins, and discovers the evil at work. To stop it, and protect the children of the town, Carter will have to face his oldest and deepest fears.

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1You know when you watch a scary movie and you yell at the stupid characters to not go in that abandoned house, not look out the window into the shadows, not to leave their safe and warm bed to see what was making that eerie noise outside? Then, when they do it anyway, you cover your eyes and hope that they aren’t going to end up dead… or worse? Yeah, I spent a lot of time mentally yelling at the characters in this book. If I could have closed my eyes I would have, but that would have made it kind of difficult to read.

It came as no surprise to me that J.L Bryan did scary well. That’s actually part of the reason why I drug my feet in finally reading Inferno Park. His vivid descriptions and his talent at making readers squirm is evident in both his dark Paranormals series and his lighter Songs of Magic series. I had no doubt that the same vivid descriptions and attention to detail would take the horror factor in Inferno Park over the top. I wasn’t disappointed.

Besides spending a lot of time trying to mentally coax characters into doing the smart thing and stay away from the creepy abandoned amusement park, I enjoyed the story and the characters. Carter was a sweet kid at 12 and had grown into an impressive teen. He was pretty level headed as well as compassionate. He could have easily given up, especially with all he had been through. He had a goal to work his way out of town and for a lot of reasons, he took it very seriously.

Victoria was great too. I think I liked her most for bringing a spark back into Carter’s life. She shook things up. I liked her outlook and the unique way she looked at things.

As for the story itself… it was intense. No, the author held nothing back. The gore, the terror and the suspense were all there. Thankfully, there were tiny breaks in the in those moments where things seemed almost normal. There were even a couple of moments that made me smile, but not a lot of them. The different POVs that were divided between most of the characters gave the story a different kind of flow. I liked it. Well, ‘like’ may not be the correct word since most of those POVs didn’t end well…. but you get the idea.

No one came out of this one totally unscathed and there was more than one moment where I wanted to read ahead just to make sure that everyone made it out alive… but I didn’t… and you shouldn’t either. If you’re looking for something scary to read with an intriguing story line, Inferno Park is perfect.

DragonFlyGreen4-5