A Caryn Review: Pictures of You (’90s Coming of Age #1) by Leta Blake

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Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

pictures-of-you-by-leta-blakeFirst, a disclaimer:  as the blurb says, this book is the first in a series.  The beginning of the story of Peter is completed, as he goes through his senior year in high school, falls in love for the first time, and learns painful truths about himself and about the world around him.  The book ends, not quite on a cliffhanger, but Peter’s future is unclear and the reader is left wanting to know more.

Peter is an only child, son of parents who are kind, but distant, oblivious, and mostly uninvolved.  He was bullied in public school, so for his senior year transfers to a local private school, determined to keep his head down and avoid notice.  At orientation he meets Adam and his twin sister Sarah.  They are truly parentless, shipped off to live with their older brother while their mother and father stay in Jordan.  The twins are beautiful, worldly, charismatic, and Sarah is determined to join the popular clique, so when Adam befriends Peter, Sarah takes him along for the ride as well.  Peter is helplessly attracted to Adam, and when that attraction becomes mutual, the friendship becomes sexual – Adam has been with both women and men in the past, but Peter is a virgin, and lets Adam take the lead in all things.

I admit I am a sucker for stories about this time in a person’s life.  That transition from child to adult, when you start to define both who you are, and who you want to be.  Peter is an amazing character, mature in some ways, but painfully naïve in others.  He’s a photographer, an artist, and Ms. Blake truly captured the intense way that teenagers feel about everything.  The story was so believable, and throughout the first half I was alternately devouring the book and looking away because I was both attracted and repulsed by the train wreck I saw coming.  I knew it would end in tears.

I wanted to be angry at Adam, at Sarah, and at Peter’s parents for all the secrets they kept.  For the way they let past injuries make them afraid of facing the truth, or owning it.  But these characters also were written very sympathetically, and I could understand what made them cruel, what made them twist themselves in knots to justify the actions that in retrospect were bound to cause pain.

In the second half of the book, once some of the underlying motives were revealed, the pace slowed down.  At that point, it was mostly about Peter’s internal struggle to come to terms with who he’d let himself become, and to try to find his path forward and do the right thing.  Several secondary characters were introduced, their personalities and actions defined just the right amount for their involvement in the story.  Renee/Robert, the drag queen that gives Peter a job; Leslie and Susan, the high school friends; Dr. Landry, the perceptive and encouraging English teacher, and even Peter’s father who becomes more engaged in Peter’s life.  I also appreciated the way that sex was introduced into Peter’s and Adam’s relationship, the initial intensity – despite Peter’s inexperience and embarrassment – and the fact that Adam held out for months before he topped Peter, even though Peter begged him for it.  Points to the author for describing that first time as painful, messy, and admittedly done more to prove a point than for physical pleasure.  Not typical for this genre, where bottoming for the first time is usually amazing and the best sex ever.  Um, not.

It’s hard to say more without giving major spoilers, but I can say that the book ends on a mostly positive note, even though there is no HEA, and not much of an HFN either.  Things got messy and stayed that way, because in real life, problems don’t get resolved that easily either.

Fans of Jay Bell’s Seasons series will enjoy this book.  I loved it, and will be waiting anxiously for the sequel.  Highly recommended!

Cover art is amazing, poignant and perfect.

Sales Links

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Book Details:

ebook, 316 pages
Published September 19th 2016 by Leta Blake Books
ISBN139781626227590
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series’90s Coming of Age #1

An Alisa Review: Amen To Love by Carolina Valdez

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Rating:  5 stars out of 5

 

amen-to-love-by-carolina-valdezDr. Bond Bergstrom fights to save the life of a man shot near the lakeside path where he jogs. Later, when the hospital where Bond works as chief of surgery learns the shooter attempted to kill him also, the board insists on assigning security protection to him 24/7 until the killer is caught.

Bond is furious with the decision. Former Navy SEALs, he argues, can protect themselves better than anyone in the world. Not so, counters former Delta Force operative Rory O’Shea. He’s the hot, sexy Irish-American who owns the agency providing the hospital’s routine security.

Bond grudgingly gives in, unaware that O’Shea has an ulterior motive in assigning himself to spend nights with the doctor as his personal bodyguard. Will O’Shea prove he has what it takes to satisfy Bond — both in and out of the bedroom?

 

This was a wonderful story.  Bond tries to save a man shot near his jogging path and ends up putting himself in danger in the process.  When Rory is forced upon him for protection it takes a bit of compromising for him to accept it is the best solution overall.

 

This story is told from both character’s points of view, so we are able to see the struggles they both go through.  Bond wants to be a great surgeon and just help people anyway he can.  Rory loves his security business, but has been following Bond from the sidelines for years and will not waste this new opportunity to get to know Bond and see if they can build a future.  I felt so connected with both of these characters and was rooting for them the whole time.

 

The cover art is nice and catches your eye.

 

Sales Links

JMS Books | Amazon | ARe

 

Book Details:

ebook, 123 pages

Published: 2nd Edition, September 17, 2016 by JMS Books

ISBN: 9781634862196

Edition Language: English

A Paul Review: To Catch His Mate by JD Walker

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Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

to-catch-his-mateA young mix cat shifter cub comes to a campsite tired and hungry.  Smelling food, he investigates further.  There, a man sees the cub collapse before him and gives him something to eat.  The cub shifts into a human boy.  The man makes like nothing unusual happened.  He takes the boy in, names him Felix and raises him as his son.

Felix Cotter grows up and moves to Atlanta.  As an insurance investigator, he uses his were senses to help get the truth for his employer.  He is assigned a case where safes are being cracked and robbed in almost impossible to get into places.  While he investigates, Felix finds the scent of the culprit strangely enticing.  When he catches his man, he will be glad the case is over but upset that the man behind this alluring scent will have to go to jail.

Tyler Panterone has recently been laid off.  When he went out with a couple of other guys who had also been laid off, he changed into his panther form.  The men use this to blackmail Tyler into a string of robberies to steal jewels for their boss.  Seeing he has no other choice, he does so.  That is until he is caught one night by Felix.  He explains to the handsome investigator his tale of woe.  While Felix wants to find a way to keep Tyler out of jail, Tyler himself is half resigned that he will be doing time or worse, outed as a shifter.  To complicate matters, Ben, the man who raised Felix, is suffering from health problems.  Will Felix and Tyler find their happiness amongst their problems?

I really wanted to like this book more than I did.  The romance aspect came across alright.  The shifter part of the book was standard fair.  The mystery aspect of the book however fell flat for me.  The author leads you right to the suspects at the first opportunity.  And I figured out the surprise reveal way too early in the book for my tastes.  Granted this is not primarily a mystery novel but I would have liked better development of that part of the story.

The cover design by Written Ink Designs is alright for the book.  It has Felix’s white tiger shifted form and a young man in a contemplative pose in the bottom half. 

Sales Links

JMS Books LLC

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Book Details

EBook, 123 pages

Edition Language:  English

Published:  March 30, 2016 by JMS Books

ISBN:  9781634860673

A Stella Review: A Selfless Man (Men of Manhattan #6) by Sandrine Gasq-Dion

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RATING 3,5 out of 5 stars

a-selfless-manRyan Carter always hoped his life would turn around for the better. He has a job that he loves, and another one that he hates. Becoming a rent boy was never his life plan, but circumstances forced his hand. When his life falls apart, hunky firefighter Michael Callahan comes to his rescue. Ryan knows better than to believe someone as wonderful as Michael would ever want to be with someone who sells his body. But spending time with Michael gives Ryan something he’s never had before.

Hope.

For months, New York firefighter Michael Callahan has been thinking about the hot guy he rescued while working crowd control during a robbery standoff. His brother is very happy dating a man, and Michael wonders if he’s finally ready for a relationship of his own. An apartment fire brings him face to face with the young man who’s been haunting him for months. Their friendship starts strong, but will Ryan’s alternate life put out the flicker before it has a chance to flame?
Can Michael convince Ryan that he wants him no matter who he is? Or will the relationship turn to ash before it even begins?

I read the previous books in the Men Of Manhattan series and I was very curious about this new installment, A Selfless Man. I don’t recommend to read it as a standalone cause here we found a lot of the couples of the previous stories, so reading the series in the right order would  be a wise choice.

I love firefighters’ stories, especially when they have some action in them and in this sense the book was a winner (even thought there is a little cliffhanger at the end, not related to the MCs story but to the mystery part). Plus firefighter and rent boy together? I couldn’t resist.

I adore when my characters fall in love at first time but the insta love needs to be supported by more elements, at least some knowledge of each other. In A Selfless Man the insta love was too much to me, really over the top;  it’s a shame because it took away credibility and I found it hard to feel Michael and Ryan as real persons.

That’s the only reason I didn’t rate it more than 3,5 stars. But in general I enjoyed the book. In fact I liked the plot, I liked how the relationship between the MCs developed and how many friends they have. Yes I admit if you haven’t read the previous books, too many characters can overwhelm your reading but if you follow the series, it will be a pleasure to meet them again and see how supportive and protective they are of their friend.

Now I just have to jump to the seven  book hoping for Bobby (Ryan’s bestie) to find his HEA and for the serial killer to be stopped.

The cover art by Wilde City Press is hot and well done. Too bad this pic has been over used, I saw it on so many covers it became boring to me.

Sales Links

Wilde City Press

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BOOK DETAILS

Kindle Edition, 132 pages
Published September 14th 2016 by Wilde City Press
ASIN B01LW4DAWM
Edition Language English

Men of Manhattan series

Sizzing Miami Series is Back with His Premier by Jessie G (excerpt and giveaway)

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Book Title: His Premier

Series: Sizzling Miami Book 6

Author: Jessie G

 

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Born into wealth and privilege, Colin Sinclair was raised on the knowledge that money could buy anything and everyone had a price. Trouble was no trouble at all, not when the money was there to sweep it under the rug. But those lessons, learned at the knee of his father, were going to be challenged in a way that would change Colin forever.

In middle class suburbia, Arnaud Dechene learned the value of hard work, focus, and dedication to a dream. He was well on his way to achieving it, the role of Premier, when he catches Colin’s eye. Rich snobs didn’t usually do it for him, but there was something about Colin that made him impossible to resist.

Despite being opposites in every way, falling into a relationship was surprisingly—and deceptively—easy, but Arnaud never lost sight of his dream and Colin had trouble accepting that he was second place to anything. When a stupid argument leads to a reckless act, the repercussions leave Arnaud fighting for his life and Colin paying with his own.

With a little meddling from an aging schemer and intentions that are more well-meaning than realistic, their paths will cross again. However, Colin and Arnaud aren’t the same men who loved with abandon. They are older and wiser, with a history that might be too big to overcome.

Fans of the series know revenge is a double-edged sword, forgiveness doesn’t always come easy, and forgetting is damn near impossible. But love…well, that may just conquer all.

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Sizzling Miami Series

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Like many readers, the dream of being a writer has been with me a long time. After three decades of trying, I’d begun to doubt. Thanks to social media, I followed my favorite authors hoping to glean some words of wisdom as I pounded out half-formed ideas with alarming regularity. Two repetitive themes emerged: To be a great writer you must read a lot and your butt must be in the chair every day like it’s a job. The more you write, the easier it will be to write and the better you will be at writing. I took that advice to heart and write every day. With three series in the works and counting, it’s been amazing to have made this dream my reality.

I am a firm believer in marriage equality, love at first sight, power dynamics and happily ever after. I’m a lover of strong secondary characters and series filled with families, biological or chosen. All are themes you’ll find throughout my books.

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