A MelanieM Review: What It Looks Like by Matthew J. Metzger


Rating: 3 stars out of 5

What It Looks LikeEli Bell is the only son of a police chief inspector and a forensic scientist. He’s grown up wonky in a world that only deals with the straight and narrow — and his new boyfriend isn’t helping.

Rob Hawkes is six feet of muscle, tattoos, and arrest warrants. A career criminal and a former guest of Her Majesty’s Prison Service, he’d rather hit Eli’s parents than sit down to dinner with them. One wrong move, and Rob could destroy Eli — and his family — without a second thought.

But this isn’t what it looks like.

Rob’s not in control here — and Eli’s the one to blame.

What It Looks Like by Matthew J. Metzger is one of those books that took a while for me to finish and even longer to write a review for.  Why?  Because I couldn’t figure out exactly why I couldn’t connect to the book and the characters.

Its well-written and the story certainly emotional and pertinent to the times.  So why couldn’t I get involved?

It kept coming back to the characters.  I’m just not sure I liked them very much.

The character of Eli Bell, which will hold a few surprises for the reader, has had a childhood that has been emotionally overwhelming at times in a family not always supportive and understanding.  He’s realistically drawn as a character but…and here’s my but…I  got  tired of Eli quickly.  He covers the same ground in his arguments, shows little growth as a person for the longest time.  Kudos to the writer for making Eli real, but after a while…I wanted to put the book down because scene after scene I knew what was coming.

Rob Hawkes was a little more interesting but again not by much.  A bad boy by history and now by his own choices (and need), he comes off as going over the same landscape as Eli does. He looks after his younger brother, comes from a troubled, criminal family known to the police. He’s angry that Eli’s dad hates him. He hates Eli’s dad. You know the drill.  Its a pattern.  Perhaps that’s the authors intent.  Both are stuck in a pattern, even with each other.  Unfortunately, so is the reader.  At least that’s how I felt.

About 75 to 80 percent through the story, I started to care about them.  Everything turned over for me.  I liked their relationship.  Things that felt needlessly tedious were dropped in favor of change and the story seemed fresh again.

There is considerable amount about Eli and his sexuality. Also Eli and Rob’s relationship includes a huge amount of bdsm content.  As this makes up a large part of the story, if this is not your thing, I would take that into consideration when thinking about reading this story. Metzger does fold it realistically into Eli and Rob’s relationship, less so when its occurring at Eli’s house.

As I stated, I really went back and forth with this review in my head.  There are some wonderful scenes and elements here, most of which I felt came towards the last part of the story.  There the book became more concise, the narrative pared down to what mattered most (at least to me) and I could connect emotionally to the characters and their relationship.

You may feel otherwise.

Its the first book I’ve read by this author and I certainly look forward to reading more.  What It Looks Like by Matthew J. Metzger is a well-written book that left me with a conflicted review.  Maybe that’s as the author intended.  Pick it up and decided for yourself.

Cover art definitely shows a inked bad boy.  Nice but standard.

Sales Links

   JMS Books




Book Details:

Published August 20th 2016 by JMS Books LLC
Edition LanguageEnglish

A Jeri Release Day Review: Lord of a Thousand Steps (Love in Laguna #4) by Tara Lain


Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Lord of a Thousand Steps by Tara LainTo architecture student Ian Carney, family means everything. Taken in by his brother, Jim, when his father threw him out at eighteen for being gay, Ian yearns to create his own family with his boyfriend, Rico. But Rico’s in Mexico caring for a sick father, Ian hasn’t had sex in a month and a half, and his gorgeous boss, Braden Lord, CEO of the architectural firm Ian interns for, is looking better and better.

Braden’s life is chaos. Just out of the closet and going through an ugly divorce from his wife of fifteen years who’s trying to take custody of his two children, he desperately resolves not to succumb to a completely inappropriate attraction to Ian—even though his kids adore both the man and his crazy cat.

When Rico proves to be a snake in the grass and Ian exercises his powers of seduction, what starts as a “friends with benefits” fling turns into real life real fast. Can Ian give up his romantic dreams for an “old guy” who didn’t come out until he carried a mountain of baggage? It’ll only take a thousand steps.

I’ve been a big fan of this series since the beginning.  One of the great things is that they are all good stories, not recycled tropes that you’ve seen again and again.

In this installment we get to know Ian, a young architect student who is young, in love, and interning at his dream firm. Until his boyfriend goes to Mexico and doesn’t come back.

Braden is a partner in the firm. Going through an ugly divorce, fighting for custody of his kids, and recently coming out of the closet makes his life crazy. He does not need to be attracted to Ian, the young intern.

So the boss/intern thing has been done to death, but I really like how this was done. Involving the kids and a cat who likes walks and the beach was a fresh perspective.  Being friends while fighting their attraction. And finding out that collaborating on projects brings magic.

Ian craves the life Braden can bring him, but Braden fears losing what is important in his life if he succumbs to Ian.

The tentative love affair they begin is both sweet and hot. The chemistry between the two was obvious and not forced at all.

Definitely add this to your list. You don’t have to read the others, but you’ll be glad you did.

Cover art by Reese Dante is gorgeous and in step with the novel.

Sales Links


Book Details:

ebook, 220 pages
Expected publication: August 31st 2016 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 1634776666 (ISBN13: 9781634776660)
Edition LanguageEnglish

A Lila Release Day Review: Wrenches, Regrets, & Reality Checks (Wrench Wars #3) by L.A. Witt


Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Wrenches, Regrets and Reality ChecksWhen Reggie’s garage became part of a popular reality show, business went through the roof. And he supposes having his shop in the black is a fair trade for jumping through the network’s hoops.

As the show’s lowest-ranking producer, Wes is tasked with proposing a new spin-off show to Reggie. The sexy mechanic makes him sweat on a normal day, but this time, Wes is holding cards he can’t show. With execs breathing down his neck, he’s expected to pitch a show Reggie will never agree to do, even if his rejection puts his existing show on the line.

The network is counting on Reggie refusing to sign. But they’re not counting on their messenger falling for the man they’re trying to fire.

Wrenches, Regrets, And Reality Checks is so far, the best in the series. Perhaps because by now, we are used to the way the stories work, or due to its quick pacing. The author concentrated on the important subjects and used the characters to let the reader know what to expect from the main characters’ relationship.

As soon as the story starts, we are in familiar territory; inside the no-camera zone in Reggie’s garage. We get introduced to Wes and through him, to Reggie. The action starts unraveling from their first conversation and continues, without pause, for the next two days.

Just like with the previous books, this story is about the MCs’s relationship and its impact on the show, not the reality show itself. We get a recap of what had occurred in the previous book by this author, but it isn’t necessary to read the Last Mechanic Standing to enjoy this installment.

This is a true short story, a couple of scenes that could be part of a novel. Reggie and Wes have a strong chemistry in bed, a healthy amount of lust, and the possibilities to work on something more. It has a happy-for-now ending, open enough for the readers to imagine a future between the MCs or to be happy they gave it a try if they break up later on. Their interactions are based on lust and attraction, no romance and feels.

If you’re looking for a quick, hot, and engaging story, this is it. But the characters are generic enough that can be placed in any other book and still get the same outcome. Therefore, if you’re trying to connect with the characters and cheer for their relationship to be sublime, then think about it twice. And if you’re an L.A. Witt fan, you’ll get exactly what you’re looking for, a well-written erotic tale.

Garrett Leigh created another well-matched cover for this series, but still generic.

Sale Links



Book Details:

ebook, 67 pages
Published: August 31, 2016 (2nd Edition), by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN: 1634773861 (ISBN13: 9781634773867)
Edition Language: English

Series: Wrench Wars
Book #1: Last Mechanic Standing
Book #2: Normal Enough
Book #3: Wrenches, Regrets, And Reality Checks

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Wide Open Spaces (States of Love) by Renee Stevens


Rating: 2.5 stars out of 5

Wide Open Spaces by Renee StevensDevon fled Wyoming as soon as he turned eighteen, leaving behind his high school love, Levi. After six years in the big city, Devon returns to his hometown. Not much has changed, except that Levi is no longer in the closet. He’s also single and living his dream—managing the local wild horse population. Both of them are very interested in picking up where they left off, but Devon is no more ready to reveal his orientation than he was as a teenager.

No one is going to shove Levi back in the closet—not even Devon. For a relationship to work, they’ll have to put the past behind them and find the courage to face the future as who they really are—a couple in love. But Devon doesn’t know if he’s strong enough. Maybe Levi would be better off without him—and his hang-ups.

This was a sweet story, but almost too sweet.  Devon returns to his small hometown in Wyoming because life in the big city no longer appeals to him. He left home after high school six years before, and he left behind his first love, Levi.  Once he’s back, he quickly learns Levi completed college and now works rescuing wild mustangs, and he came out a few years before when he brought home his boyfriend on a college break. 

Devon would love to see Levi, but he’s afraid his high school jock friends and his new employer, a mining operation, would make his life hell if they determined he was gay too. He is, and he was out for the past six years in Washington, but doesn’t want to be out here.  When he meets up with Levi, it’s evident that their chemistry is still there, so he plans to take it slowly as he gets to know the man he always loved.

They do take things slowly, but Devon is such a jerk about staying in the closet that eventually Levi clues in to the fact that they never go out in public, and he gives Devon an ultimatum (thank God!).  Devon is still a wuss, even when he finally determines that there’s nothing he’d do to hurt Levi and wins him back.  To be honest, I couldn’t believe how juvenile his behavior was, especially given the fact that he’s been out for six years.  And Levi was way too nice to the jerk. Really? He should have put his foot down from the beginning.  Also, there was no real angst surrounding the fact that Devon ran off six years before. They smoothly transitioned back together, even though there had been no contact during that time.

Overall, although I somewhat liked the story, mostly my “like” was centered around Levi and around the early parts of the story before I realized what a jerk Devon was.  Also, it felt a little too juvenile, and the resolution didn’t come until the end. And then it just ended—there should have been a bit more of a resolution toward their future as a couple.  So, I have to give it 2.5 stars because I thought it was a minimum of “okay” with a little bit of “like” as a booster.

The cover by Maria Fanning is okay, featuring a close-up of a muscular man’s chest with another (less than sexy and unappealing man) in the background and both superimposed over a scene of grazing horses.

Sales Links


Book Details:

ebook, 98 pages
Expected publication: August 31st 2016 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 1634777026 (ISBN13: 9781634777025)
Edition LanguageEnglish

SeriesStates of Love settingWyoming (United States)

In the Spotlight: Matthew J. Metzger’s What It Looks Like (giveaway)


Matthew J. Metzger – What It Looks Like

Author: Matthew J Metzger
Release Date: August 20 2016
Buy Links:  Amazon US  Amazon UK  JMS Books  
Add to Goodreads here.
Length: 80,615 words

Eli Bell is the only son of a police chief inspector and a forensic scientist. He’s grown up wonky in a world that only deals with the straight and narrow — and his new boyfriend isn’t helping.Rob Hawkes is six feet of muscle, tattoos, and arrest warrants. A career criminal and a former guest of Her Majesty’s Prison Service, he’d rather hit Eli’s parents than sit down to dinner with them. One wrong move, and Rob could destroy Eli — and his family — without a second thought.

But this isn’t what it looks like.

Rob’s not in control here — and Eli’s the one to blame.


Author Bio
Matthew J. Metzger is the front for a British-born author dragged up in the south of England as part of a typical nuclear family with three kids, a mortgage, and no dog because a dog would get hair on the carpet. A brief escape to the north to study focused his writing from daydreaming rambles to his first novel, Our Last Summer. It is unquestionably better than the dissertation he produced at the same time for his university degree, but probably not as inventive as the excuses he provided for missing classes so often.

Matthew has since returned to the London area, and therefore lives mostly on the public transport. He suspects that his next few pieces will probably involve homicidal characters on the London Underground.

For more information, please visit matthewjmetzger.wordpress.com.


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