A Julia Review: Heat Wave (A Seasons of Love story #3) by Elyse Springer

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Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Sara Walker’s life is going nowhere fast: she has a job she enjoys but doesn’t love, friends who are too busy to hang out with her, and no boyfriend in sight. Then a phone call on a lonely Friday night changes everything, and suddenly she’s spending her weekends with Laura. Newly single and openly bisexual, Laura makes Sara think decidedly not-straight thoughts.

Laura Murphy, with her red hair, freckles, and killer curves, is any guy’s wet dream. But Laura’s done with guys for now, and it’s Sara who can’t stop dreaming about her. When Sara finally gives in to the curiosity, Laura blows her mind and pushes her further than she’s ever gone before.

But Laura makes it very clear that this is only a rebound fling, and she’s still planning to move to California. She’s more than happy to tie Sara up, but she’s not ready to be tied down. If Sara wants to keep her, she’s going to have to work hard to convince Laura that New York is worth staying for . . . and so is she.

Heat Wave by Elyse Springer is the third volume in the “Seasons of Love” series which I got hooked on after reviewing the second entry “Thaw”. Though having read the previous books will certainly enrich your experience due to the reappearance of several characters, it is not necessary to get into the individual volumes. I’d still recommend checking out all of them as it is well worth it.

What I find particularly appealing about this series is that it features characters from a range of different sexual orientations and addresses this fact in a natural and genuine way. This time the story is told from the point of view of Sara, who is now faced with being sexually and romantically attracted to another woman after she has thought of herself as being exclusively heterosexual her entire life. Sara is a character many can sympathize with, in my opinion. She is relatively content with her current living situation but is also in need of new and more profound experiences both in her work and love life – even if she does not quite realize it or can openly admit it to herself at first. She is a strong person who enjoys organisation and efficiency as well as testing her own limits (though she is still hesitant to give it a try in certain areas).

Sara is made aware of her own ambitions and hesitations when she gets closer to Laura who is by now the ex-girlfriend of Sara’s ex-boyfriend. Laura, who identifies as bisexual, is a very open and direct person who makes no secret out of her physical attraction towards Sara and the fact that she is only looking for a friendship with sex and nothing more (at least at first). Her directness challenges Sara to re-examine aspects of her life and herself that she had previously thought to be set in stone. And it was just the thing that Sara needed in her current situation. It is inspiring and quite admirable to witness how Sara finds at last the motivation to give it her all and take her life into a new direction she had not anticipated up to this point – especially her fight to keep Laura in it.

As I mentioned, we also encounter other characters from throughout the series – most notably Nathan, the protagonist of the first book and Sara’s best friend, who acts as a source of encouragement and support. I found it quite endearing to meet familiar faces again and learn a bit about how they have been getting on with their lives.

The sex scenes here are much more numerous and explicit than in the previous book (which is only appropriate considering the characters involved). We are treated to some steamy lady on lady action with light elements of sexual submission and domination as well as a cheeky scene of public sex in a dance club.

While I greatly enjoyed the previous entry to this series, I enjoyed this one even more. The author has a clear, expressive style of writing that gives the characters very distinct voices. They are depicted as realistic and relatable with their own individual sets of strengths and challenges. The frequent reappearance of characters – one time as a protagonist facing the ups and downs of their own relationship troubles and another as a supporting friend – makes you invested in them more and more. I can honestly recommend this series to anyone who enjoys a heartfelt and motivational love story.

The cover design by Natasha Snow is quite pretty and fits in well with the rest of the series.

Sales Links:  Riptide Publishing | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 262 pages

Published July 31, 2017

by Riptide Publishing

ISBN: 978-1-62649-515-9

Edition Language: English

A MelanieM Audiobook Review: Drama Cruise (A Nicky & Noah Mystery #3) by Joe Cosentino and Brad Enright (Narrator)

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Theater professors and couple, Nicky Abbondanza and Noah Oliver, are going overboard as usual, but this time on an Alaskan cruise, where dead college theater professors are popping up everywhere from the swimming pool to the captain’s table. Further complicating matters are Nicky’s and Noah’s parents as surprise cruise passengers, and Nicky’s assignment to direct a murder mystery dinner theater show onboard ship. Nicky and Noah will need to use their drama skills to figure out who is bringing the curtain down on vacationers before it is lights out for the handsome couple. You will be applauding and shouting Bravo for Joe Cosentino’s fast-paced, ribald, edge-of-your-seat entertaining third novel in this delightful series. Curtain up and ship ahoy!

I’m a real fan of Joe Cosentino’s over the top murder mystery drama series, The Nicky & Noah Mysteries.  Campy with a heart is one way I love to describe them, so I had already read Drama Cruise and was looking forward to the audio version.

Drama Cruise is one hilarious story about a cruise full of professors, Nicky, Noah, their parents, and a killer out to kill of the professors one by one.  I laughed my way through the book, puzzling over the mystery, loving the interaction between men, their parents, and all the crazy wedding plans.  Really, the book is terrific.  So how did the audiobook version measure up?

Great story is still there, so is the mystery.  But somehow the narration of Brad Enright just didn’t do it for me.  His voices seemed to slide between either way too bland.  I had a hard time telling the difference between some characters unless the author told me there was a change to the hugely campy tones (think 50’s television Italian roles in comedies) used for Nicky’s parents.  I just felt that the narration swung from campy to realistic to bland which threw me off.  I felt the narrator should have chosen one tone and then just  gone for it.

Love the Nicky and Noah mysteries?  You’ll love this one but I think I would go ahead and read the ebook or paperback version.  That’s the story I highly recommend.

Cover art is the wonderful movie poster/high camp version I so love and come to expect.

Sales Links:      Amazon | Audible

Audiobook Details:

Audible Audio Edition
Listening Length: 5 hours and 56 minutes
Program Type: Audiobook
Version: Unabridged
Publisher: Joe Cosentino
Audible.com Release Date: August 10, 2017
Whispersync for Voice: Ready
Language: English
ASIN: B074N6Q1SB

A MelanieM Review: Burning Tracks (Spotlight #2) by Lilah Suzanne

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Gwen Pasternak’s got it all. Or so it seems…

In the sequel to RT Book Reviews’ Top Pick Broken Records, Gwen’s life looks perfect: She has a job she loves as stylist to the stars, a beautiful wife, Flora, and a house in the heart of Nashville. But the more she works alongside country music’s dynamic princess Clementine Campbell, the less Gwen is certain of her commitment to a life of domestic bliss.

Meanwhile, her business partner Nico Takahashi is happily settled down with reformed bad-boy musician Grady Dawson. But when Nico questions the permanence of their relationship, Grady retreats into some dangerous old habits. Will Gwen ruin the life she’s built with Flora for something new and exhilarating? Can Grady be convinced of Nico’s devotion before it’s too late? Burning Tracks is a story of tough choices, taking risks, and the pressures of living life in the spotlight.

Burning Tracks, the second installment in the Spotlight Trilogy, sees Gwen Pasternak take center stage in this saga of intertwined relationships.   Gwen and her wife Flora have always been an integral part of Nico Takahashi’s life.  She’s his partner, sometime life support, best friend and even foundation when things have gone wrong.  And Nico has been hers, even if that put Flora on the outside.  So bringing Gwen out here and letting us see more of her life makes total sense.  She and Nico switch places for a book, with Nico and Grady switching places, their relationship drama swirling as a secondary although still greatly important element here in Burning Tracks.  Neither Gwen or Nico can be separated from each other.

We have been leading up to crisis in relationships, small, large and everything in between and the cause of them.  Here the push has been for a child from Flora, something that Gwen doesn’t really think she wants or is capable of being a good parent to.  Adding to that pressure is a new client, Clementine Campbell, who  wants all of Gwen all of the time.

Lilah Suzanne expertly threads us through the confusion that Gwen feels about all the complications in her life, the pressure she feels, the knowledge that she’s on the precipice of her relationship with her wife who she loves….we feel it all and love Gwen all the more.  She’s so human and vulnerable yet trying to do her best.

Clementine Campbell, the powerful charismatic country star on the rise is just as amazing.  She’s so brilliant a character, she shines off the page, even at her most irritating.  Only Flora comes off as a grey figure here in comparison which is a shame.

Nico and Grady, and the others are all here too, fighting for their relationship, making mistakes still due primarily to communication, something that seems to plague them all.

I love the aspect of the country music business and style here.  That never fails to entertain and inform.

Now to the sex.  Yes, there’s a lot of F/F sex here.  If you don’t care for that, then you can fly over it and still stay at the heart of this story, the relationship dynamics, the mistakes people make, and the paths back to the people who are really their HEA.  I really enjoyed this story, loved it place in the trilogy and highly recommend it.

Cover art again is perfect.

Sales Links:  Interlude Press | Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 224 pages
Published August 11th 2016 by Interlude Press
ASINB01FSLEMXQ
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series Spotlight Trilogy:

Release Blitz – EXPOSURE by Aly Hayden (excerpt and giveaway)

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exposureebooksmall

Title: Exposure

Author: Aly Hayden

Publisher: Self-published

Cover Artist: Aria from Resplendent Media

Genres: Contemporary M/M Romance

Length: 61,000 words/150 pages approx.

 It is the first book in the Drawn Together series.

Each book follows a different couple, so there’s a HEA and no cliffhanger.

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Blurb

Sam Hayward’s parents think he has a boyfriend. And he does… in his dreams. But when they insist Sam bring his partner to the annual Labor Day family reunion, his options are to either admit it was all a lie or find a stand-in in a hurry. The trouble is that his lies have all been based on one very real man.

Ben Matheny has been hurt before. When he’s bribed into playing a part by his friends, he fleshes out Sam’s dreams, but it’s like flying too close to the sun. He’s always had a crush on Sam, and now they’re going to the Hamptons to spend a week pretending they’re lovers, everything is getting harder.

When Ben uncovers another lie Sam has told – that Ben is every bit as rich as Sam is – things begin to unravel. If Sam isn’t happy with who Ben is, Ben can’t stick around to get burned again.

With their hearts on the line, the two must fight for their dreams as the pressure mounts. It would be so easy to admit that it was all a sham, but some dreams are worth the risk.

EXPOSURE BLURB

Excerpt

“Guess we have the hot tub all to ourselves,” Ben said with a smile.

He didn’t know whether he meant the words to be flirtatious or not. It was one thing to flirt when there were other people present. That was just what he did, how he interacted with people. Deliberately flirting with Sam was different. Dangerous.

“Guess we do.”

Sam’s voice was lower than usual. Almost seductive. There was no one around that would make Sam feel like he had to play the part of the boyfriend, which meant only one thing: Sam was actually into him. The signs were all there, if Ben was reading them correctly—the way Sam had taken to holding his hand, the morning wood after cuddling all night long, the look Sam had given him when he’d seen Ben in the shorts. And then there was that thing he had started to say right before they had gotten on the boat.

Much as Ben wanted to believe that Sam might have feelings for him too, there was still a part of him that wasn’t sure. There was certainly one way for him to find out, though. The hot tub was big enough for about six people, so naturally they had taken corners along the same wall. Slowly, Ben moved closer and closer to Sam, until they were sitting side by side. He took a deep breath, steeling his nerves, and let his leg brush against Sam’s.

“What are you doing?” Sam’s voice was low and husky, and when Ben looked up, he found Sam’s pupils so large that only a sliver of hazel showed around the edges.

He swallowed hard. “Getting closer to you.”

His heart beat so fast that his chest ached as he waited for Sam to do something. Say something. Have any reaction at all. It had been so easy when it was just flirting, but this…this was terrifying.

Seconds passed, though, and Sam didn’t move away. Instead, he leaned back against the side of the hot tub and slid his hand into Ben’s, underneath the water.

“I’m glad you’re here,” he said softly.

Encouraged by the reaction, Ben shifted down a bit and let his head rest on Sam’s shoulder. “Me too.” They sat in silence for a few seconds. Ben didn’t want to ruin the moment, but he knew that if he didn’t say anything, he would regret it. “Before, when we were about to get on the boat. What were you going to say?”

“I um…” Sam scratched at the back of his neck. “I was going to say, what if—”

“Sammy, Benny!”

Ben whipped around to see Karrigan. Someone had escaped from nap time. He fought to suppress a groan. Looked like this conversation would have to wait.

Buy Links

Amazon US link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B075L266KH

Amazon UK link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B075L266KH

Goodreads Link

Meet the Author

Aly Hayden has loved writing ever since she learned to pick up a pencil. As a child, she used to write short stories, then progressed to novels of various genres, none of which were ever published – for good reason. She started writing fanfiction in 2011, publishing on Archive of Our Own. After finding M/M romance in 2012, she fell in love and made it her mission to write one of her own one day. When Aly isn’t writing, she can be found playing with her lovable Yorkie and watching old reruns of House Hunters.

Social Media Links

Blog/Website

Facebook Author Page

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Giveaway

Enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway: WIN ONE OF THREE e-copies of Exposure

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Release Blitz Schedule

EXPOSURE SCHEDULE 2

SEPTEMBER 14

Millsy Loves Books 

The Way She Reads

Tangents and Tissues 

Geekymama’s Reviews 

SEPTEMBER 15

Books Laid Bare Boys 

The Reading Addict 

Reviews by Crystal 

SEPTEMBER 16

Diverse Reader 

Bayou Book Junkie 

Top 2 Bottom Reviews and More 

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words 

Making it Happen 

My Fiction Nook 

Valerie Ullmer | Romance Author 

Megan’s Media Melange 

A Book Lover’s Dream Book Blog

SEPTEMBER 19

Drops of Ink  

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