A Caryn Release Day Review: Modern Gladiator (Modern Gladiator #1) by S.A. Stovall

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Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars

If you are a fan of Dr. Spencer Reid of the TV show Criminal Minds, you will love Corbin Friel, one of the MCs of this book. He’s got the same inability to speak normally, and the same need to tell people esoteric trivia. I’m not much of a fan, and it’s one of the reasons I wasn’t able to get into this book.

Corbin was a medical student who had only ever wanted to follow in his parent’s footsteps and be a doctor. His beloved sister Malala had osteogenesis imperfecta, or “brittle bone disease”, and Corbin was more than a little overprotective of her because the disease made her incredibly fragile. Perhaps because she had to be so careful in her own life, Lala loved violent sports, and pressured Corbin in to going to an MMA fight. It was everything Corbin abhorred – dirty, bloody, violent, loud, low-class, and that was just the audience. Lala goaded him into a pathetic attempt at trash talking her favorite fighter’s opponent, and that was how Keon first noticed Corbin. When Lala won backstage passes to see Derek, Keon was there too, enjoying how uncomfortable Corbin clearly was. Lala and Derek started dating, and Corbin got drawn unwillingly into the amateur fighting world. Corbin was very attracted to Keon’s body – and who wouldn’t be? Those fighters are ripped! – which turned out to be good for Keon because Corbin noticed minor symptom that he cleverly diagnosed correctly and treated, allowing Keon to continue in his quest to be a professional UFC fighter.

The bone infection might have been what brought Keon and Corbin together, but their passions for their chosen careers – and their mutual admiration of that passion – was what deepened their connection. Having that kind of passion is rare in the first place, so I was very pleased that both men recognized what a precious commodity it was, and chose to support each other for it, despite their initial reservations. I liked Keon from the very beginning, but it took seeing Corbin come down from his high horse and support Keon even though he personally didn’t agree with fighting before I liked him.

I can’t speak for the details of UFC fighting, but those seemed to be fairly well researched to me. Of course, I know literally nothing about it (other than those fighters are ripped!) so I am not hard to impress on that front. Medical details however…. well, let me just say that my medical colleagues and I got a few laughs out of it. Did I subtract stars for that? Oh yes I did. A few minor mistakes I can handle, but there were A LOT. I am sure that I am significantly more critical than the average reader in this area, so others might not be bothered like I was. More than the medical details, however, I was bothered by the stupidity of the villains and their evil plot to take Keon down. And Corbin’s stupidity in not even noticing what was happening WAY before he cottoned on, and his gullibility in almost letting the bad guys get away with it. That part of the plot was a little too scooby doo for me. And finally, the book is written in present tense, which just irritates me. Again, a personal pet peeve that others may not mind.

Cover art by Kanaxa – buff naked torso with chains – definitely fits with the fighting theme.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 1st edition, 250 pages
Published March 26th 2019 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN13 9781644051399
Edition Language English

A Stella Review: How Not to Break (Lovestrong #3) by Susan Hawke

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RATING 3,5 out of 5 stars

Take one former SEAL with a healthy dose of regret… Nick St. Cloud is living with shame from the one time he let his lust override his sense of honor. He’s haunted by the memory of when he made love to his best friend’s eighteen-year-old son. The tragic accident that happened that same night has only compounded his guilt. A decade later, he’s doing his best to be there for Charlie’s son, but anything more than that just wouldn’t be right… would it? Plus the younger guy who he’s tried to forget… It’s been ten years. Ten long years. Does Shaw Michaelson feel bad about having seduced his dad’s best friend? Umm, maybe? Although he could’ve done things differently, Shaw can’t find it within himself to be sorry for the hottest night of his life with the one man he’s never been able to forget. The man he’s patterned every subsequent relationship after… yeah, Shaw totally has a type. Equals a pair of men who deserve a second chance at a first time. The two men are living in an uneasy peace within the same small town and circle of friends, being careful not to let the other get close enough to open old wounds. All their walls fall when a stalker begins terrorizing Shaw, sending him running to the one man he knows will keep him safe. This is the fourth book in the LOVESTRONG series about finding love and being yourself in a small town. Intended only for 18+ readers, this is an mm romance full of all the fun, fluff, and feels you’d want from an S. Hawke book. Note: Possible trigger warning for the mention of an animal being harmed off-page and the psychological trauma of being stalked.

I was waiting for Nick’s book since I met him in the first title in the Lovestrong series. Although I have to say I was enthusiastic about this new release just because it’s about Seth and Nick, otherwise I would have stopped with the series, the second title was really not for me. I tried to give the series another chance and I’m glad I did.

How Not To Break was very well written, easy and quick to read, so much better than the previous one. I am a huge fan of stories where the MCs have a wide age difference and here I found the relationship between Nick and Seth finally deserved. I could understand how Nick felt uncomfortable with his feelings for his best friends’ son. But the time has at the end come for them to be real and true to their hearts. Sure, Nick took his time to be open with the young man, but then when they were together, it was for the real thing. I liked both of them dearly.

I also liked the plot, well created to give the MCs an excuse to be in the same house and start to create a future. Maybe at the end the resolve of the mystery was too easy but that way the story didn’t become too heavy to take. I appreciated it. Being not so keen on mysteries, it was ok, but I can see how it couldn’t be perfect for a more demanding reader.

One more thing I liked were their friends, all the faces I already met in the previous books and fell in love with. It was a pleasure too see them after they got their HEAs.

I don’t know if there will be more installment in the Lovestrong series by Susan Hawke, I’m curious for more.

The cover art by Ana J Phoenix is cute but I don’t like the blue so dark in the background.

SALE LINKS  Amazon

BOOK DETAILS

Kindle Edition, 239 pages

Published March 9th 2019

ASIN B07PBR884T

Language English

Lovestrong Series:

How Not To Wait (0.5)

How Not to Blend

How Not to Tuck

How Not to Sin

How Not to Break

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Release Day Review: A Party to Murder by John Inman

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Wow! As a longtime fan of Agatha Christie, I am completely impressed with the quality and pace of this mystery. In my opinion, it’s worthy of sitting on the same shelf as Christie.

Both Jamie Roma and Derek Lee have been friends since childhood but they’ve recently discovered that their feelings evolved to more—their chemistry reached a flashpoint, and they’re now lovers. As the story progresses, each man realizes that the man they called best friend all their life is now the man they want to finish that life beside. It’s fun-loving Jamie who prods them to accept an invitation to a weekend house party that each received separately. In a very rural area, neither man counted on the raging thunderstorm, complete with lightning and a flash flood that adds to the creepiness of the isolated location.

Their hosts seem to be absent—that is, until they discover the corpses of an elderly couple in the basement. While the storm rages, they also find their cell phones missing, their tires slashed and the car engine wires cut. The lightning, thunder, and high wind add just the right ambiance to this grisly tale as one by one, the murders continue. Reminiscent of And Then There Were None by Christie, but with a modern-day twist, I was totally caught up in the story from the beginning. 

The author set up the personalities of the main characters with words, memories, and dialogue about their current circumstances right from the beginning, and I realized by the second chapter that I liked these guys and didn’t want anything to happen to them. Getting me on their side early in the story was key to my enjoyment and kept me glued to my Kindle as I turned each page.

I enjoyed the romance between these two really nice guys whose friendship and love is tested under duress, and I enjoyed trying to solve the mystery as the author revealed more and more about each person within the spooky old house before the deaths started to pile up and there weren’t many characters left to pick from.

There’s nothing quite as good as an outstanding story that can take me away from my day-to-day world and transport me to a place where I can enjoy someone else’s drama. Add MM romance to that and then give me a mystery and I’m sold. I very highly recommend this book to those who are looking for a challenging mystery with romance and the spooky ambiance of a high-energy thunderstorm at night. 

The cover by Paul Richmond, done in a spooky nighttime gray tone, depicts two young men, one with his head on the other’s shoulder from behind, the other with his head tossed back and his torso naked. They’re set against the backdrop of a darkened house with one tiny light showing in the gloom. The title is in white fading to dark red and the whole piece just screams murder. Perfect for this outstanding story within.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 214 pages
Published March 26th 2019 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 139781644051368
Edition Language English

An Alisa Review: Cameron & Rylan (A Chance Meeting #1) by Valerie Ullmer

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Rating:  3 stars out of 5

Cameron Hayes believed himself to be a dedicated friend and a good son but destined to be alone. Because in his twenty-one years, he’d never fallen for anyone. Dating never appealed to him when he would rather spend a night at home. Despite his friend’s best intentions for Cameron to find a hookup for the night, he stayed at the bar as he nursed a beer. And that’s when Cameron spotted him and everything he knew evaporated with one look.

Rylan Ellis wanted one night out without complications. To forget about his overwhelming responsibilities and stress at home. He loved to lose himself in the music and ignore everyone around him. But when he happened a glance at the bar and spotted the tall, broad, and sexy-as-sin man, he felt drawn to him.

Soon, Cameron and Rylan learn about each other and establish their lives together. They also have to deal with a group of well-meaning friends, loving parents, and unexpected friendships. But most of all, a dangerous threat that could tear their lives apart.

Will a chance meeting turn into something more?

This novel contains heavy attraction at first sight and first-time gay sex between two men. There is no cheating or cliffhangers and ends with a happily ever after.

*Contains a brief mention of a prior sexual assault and violence in later scenes.

So… first off this is insta-love, if that’s not for you then this book won’t be either.  I don’t really mind insta-love especially if it works for the story, which this did but it was so so sickeningly sweet it would make your teeth hurt.

Basically both of the characters are 100% perfect from the beginning and don’t have much they need to worry about as Cameron has plenty of money to get them anything they could want, even a Hawaiin surprise wedding.  The only angsty part of the book in regards to Rylan’s previous assault just seemed to pop up at random times to try an draw it out and while Rylan did get hurt (and I would never discount that) he didn’t seem to have any problem bouncing right back to their normal lives with his biggest complaint being that he couldn’t have sex.

This book was written pretty well and while I didn’t have trouble getting through the book I couldn’t help but think that it was so unrealistic.  I did like that these two had wonderful friends who were there whenever they needed and they seemed to build their own family when it was needed, though I had to wonder where Rylan’s assistant seemed to disappear to during the last portion of the book.  I could understand Rylan a bit as he hadn’t had the best time growing up and was basically living in fear after that.  Cameron though seemed to have had the perfect life and was able to continue that without any real work or thought.  Like I said, while I liked it, it all just seemed to fall into place waaaaaaaay to easily.

The cover art by Valerie Ullmer is alright, pretty typical of many romances, and is supposed to give us some visuals of the characters but they didn’t connect to how I pictured the guys in the story.

Sales Link: Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 259 pages

Published: March 26, 2019

Edition Language: English

Series: A Chance Meeting #1

Review Tour – Midnight Flit (The Carstairs Affairs #2) by Elin Gregory

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Length: 73,000 words approx.
 
Publisher: Manifold Press
 
The Carstairs Affairs Series
 
Book 1 – Eleventh Hour – Amazon US | Amazon UK | Universal Link
 
Blurb


Miles Siward and Briers Allerdale return for another thrilling Jazz Age adventure .

“Silk stockings on expenses.”

Miles’s aristocratic mother has information of importance to the British Government and he must escort her home from Bucharest immediately, but their plans go violently awry and Miles and Lady Siward find themselves on a train to Belgrade – where Miles’s lover is posted. Since their pursuers are looking for a man and a woman, might two women slip past them unnoticed?

“Is anyone on this train who they say they are?”

Briers doesn’t know whether to kiss Miles or punch him but is delighted to accompany him and his mother on their journey. All he has to do is keep an eye open for their enemies – but who exactly are they; the enormous Russian, the sinister priest, the handsome jazz pianist, or maybe the winsome young movie star? And his mother-in-law might just be the most terrifying of all!

All aboard for the ride of a lifetime, with a cast of characters you’ll never forget!


Excerpt


Secret Intelligence service operative, Miles Siward, is preparing for a mission with the assistance of his gentleman’s gentleman, Pritchard.

“Do you miss working for Father?” Miles asked after a moment. “I feel bad that I’ve never asked before, but I was so grateful when you agreed to come back with me and run my little establishment that I suppose it never occurred to me to ask.”

Pritchard paused, his hands full of snowy linen. “Lord bless you, sir, no. Ronald and I were heartily sick of exchanging letters by then, and maybe seeing each other once a year – your father’s commitments allowing. To be offered the chance to come here, with private accommodation provided, was a Godsend. My only worry was that a relationship started in the trenches and continued on paper might not weather more frequent contact.”

Ronald – professional stage manager, natty dresser, a full head taller than Pritchard – was perhaps a little shrill, but one had to be shrill to be heard in theatrical circles. From what little Miles had seen of Pritchard and Ron together, though, they seemed blissfully happy and he wished them well and envied them with all his heart.

“I’m glad,” he said. “Going from valet to His Majesty’s Ambassador in Bucharest to the man-of-all-work of a clerk seems such a come down.”

“We both know that you are far more than a clerk, sir,” Pritchard grinned. “And speaking of more, Bucharest is not that far from Belgrade. While you are there, will there be any chance of meeting with the master?”

Miles snorted. “You mustn’t call Briers that, it only encourages him. He’ll turn up in plus fours and a monocle next, you wait and see!”

“It’s meant affectionately, sir.” Pritchard gave him a serene smile and tucked a rolled black tie and a pair of silk socks in beside the shirt.

“I know, and he loves it.” Miles paused in smiling contemplation of Briers Allerdale – tall where Miles was short, dark where he was fair, a hard-bitten field agent where Miles spent a lot of time at his desk − and thanked his lucky stars that opposites attract. “But sadly I am only going for one night, solely to retrieve Ma and bring her home safely in time for her appointment. A side trip is completely out of the question.

“I understand, sir.” From the sympathetic glint in Pritchard’s eye, Miles knew that he did understand, very well.

 

 
About Elin
 

Elin Gregory lives in South Wales and works in a museum in a castle built on the edge of a Roman Fort! She reckons that’s a pretty cool job.

Elin usually writes on historical subjects, and enjoys weaving the weird and wonderful facts she comes across in her research into her plots. She likes her heroes hard as nails but capable of tenderness when circumstances allow. Often they are in danger, frequently they have to make hard choices, but happy endings are always assured.

Current works in progress include one set during the Great War, another in WW2, one set in the Dark Ages and a series of contemporary romances set in a small town on the Welsh border.

www.elingregory.com
www.facebook.com/elin.gregory
@ElinGregory
www.elingregory.wordpress.com

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Release Blitz and Giveaway for Scott (Owatonna U #2) by RJ Scott & V.L. Locey

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Length: 50,000 words approx.
 
Cover Design: Meredith Russell
 
Owatonna U Series 
 
Book #1 – Ryker – Amazon US | Amazon UK | Universal Link
 
Blurb
 

What happens when you try to fix the past and end up threatening your future?


Scott is struggling. Grieving the loss of his brother, carrying the weight of his father’s expectations, and getting his ass kicked in the rink, he’s in a downward spiral. He needs a solution and fast, but when his steroid use is exposed, he’s close to losing his place at Owatonna and more importantly, on the Eagles Hockey team. Thrown out of his house, with nowhere to go and no future in sight, he only has one choice; agree to mandatory counseling, random drug tests, and get his act together. Only then will he have a chance at normal. Meeting Hayne, a senior connected to the world through his art, is a shock to the system. Moving in with him is his only option, but falling for the shy artist leaves Scott in an impossible situation, and one he can’t escape.


Hayne has always been that quiet, creative kid who sat in the back of class drawing instead of listening to the teacher. A talented artist, the shy and sensitive young man is struggling with the loss of his childhood friend. Seeing his sadness reflected in his usually colorful paintings, he decides to attend grief counseling and meets Scott, a lost soul in desperate need of light and color in his life. Taking in a homeless hockey player certainly was never part of his carefully orchestrated ten-year plan. But now that Scott is in his life, he’s discovering the joy of this man’s loving smile and tender touch is one of the most beautiful palettes on earth.

USA Today bestselling author RJ Scott writes stories with a heart of romance, a troubled road to reach happiness, and most importantly, a happily ever after.


RJ Scott is the author of over one hundred romance books, writing emotional stories of complicated characters, cowboys, millionaire, princes, and the men who get mixed up in their lives. RJ is known for writing books that always end with a happy ever after. She lives just outside London and spends every waking minute she isn’t with family either reading or writing.


The last time she had a week’s break from writing she didn’t like it one little bit, and she has yet to meet a bottle of wine she couldn’t defeat.


She’s always thrilled to hear from readers, bloggers and other writers. Please contact via the links below:

USA Today Bestselling Author V.L. Locey – Penning LGBT hockey romance that skates into sinful pleasures.


V.L. Locey loves worn jeans, yoga, belly laughs, walking, reading and writing lusty tales, Greek mythology, Torchwood and Dr. Who, the New York Rangers, comic books, and coffee. (Not necessarily in that order.) She shares her life with her husband, her daughter, one dog, two cats, a pair of geese, far too many chickens, and two steers.


When not writing spicy romances, she enjoys spending her day with her menagerie in the rolling hills of Pennsylvania with a cup of fresh java in one hand and a steamy romance novel in the other.

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Don’t Miss Out on the Release Blitz Cameron & Rylan (A Chance Meeting #1) by Valerie Ullmer (excerpt and giveaway)

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RELEASE BLITZ

Book Title:  Cameron & Rylan (A Chance Meeting Novel Book One)

Author:  Valerie Ullmer

Publisher:  Self-Published

Cover Artist:  Valerie Ullmer

Genre/s:  Contemporary Gay Romance

Heat Rating:  4 flames

Length: 66 000 words

Release Date:  March 26, 2019

Add on Goodreads

 

Buy Links – Available on Kindle Unlimited

Amazon US

Amazon UK

 

 

Blurb

Cameron Hayes believed himself to be a dedicated friend and a good son but destined to be alone.  Because in his twenty-one years, he’d never fallen for anyone. Dating never appealed to him when he would rather spend a night at home.  Despite his friend’s best intentions for Cameron to find a hookup for the night, he stayed at the bar as he nursed a beer. And that’s when Cameron spotted him and everything he knew evaporated with one look.

Rylan Ellis wanted one night out without complications.  To forget about his overwhelming responsibilities and stress at home.  He loved to lose himself in the music and ignore everyone around him. But when he happened a glance at the bar and spotted the tall, broad, and sexy-as-sin man, he felt drawn to him.

Soon, Cameron and Rylan learn about each other and establish their lives together.  They also have to deal with a group of well-meaning friends, loving parents, and unexpected friendships.  But most of all, a dangerous threat that could tear their lives apart.

Will a chance meeting turn into something more?

 

This novel contains heavy attraction at first sight and first-time gay sex between two men.  There is no cheating or cliffhangers and ends with a happily ever after.

*Contains a brief mention of a prior sexual assault and violence in later scenes.

 

Excerpt

#1

This wasn’t his scene.  Along with the loud music came the dancing bodies, sharp and piercing howls of laughter, but most of all the flirting.  He’d known what the night held when his friends insisted on going out and despite his hesitation, Cameron had agreed.

He wouldn’t say he was lonely since he was the one who quit the football team the year before and secluded himself using any excuse he thought of to avoid social interactions.  But from time to time, he missed his friends.

The music blared from the various speakers around the crowded club, but it had a good beat as it blended from one track to another.  He nodded toward the bartender as he handed him a new beer before he turned toward the crowd, scanning the dance floor.

Cameron didn’t hold in a laugh as he spotted Tim, one of his best friends, dance up to a girl with a huge smile on his face.  When she rolled her eyes, he reversed the other way with a friendly a wave. That was Tim. He let nothing get to him, even such an obvious rejection.

Unlike his friends, Cameron had no interest in finding a date for the night.  But he watched his friends as they maneuvered around the bar amongst the gyrating bodies having a great time.

As his gaze landed on Aaron, who had a blonde wrapped around him as they swayed back and forth, a small hand landed on his chest before a compact body pressed up to his side.  Cameron blinked down at the beautiful woman who smiled at him. Her eyes traveled over him, down and back up again, unable to keep her predatory gaze from his body.

Cameron sighed.  She wasn’t the first person who thought he was available for a good time, but she was the first to touch him without permission.

Attraction was fleeting.  At this point in his life, Cameron had no desire to pursue a physical relationship with anyone.  Temporary attachments made his skin crawl for a reason he never understood, and he knew as she spoke she wouldn’t be more than that.

“Wanna head to my place?  It’s quiet and we can talk.”

“No, thanks.”

He supposed people thought he was a typical jock, looking to score around every corner.  Although he’d been told he was attractive, he knew attraction was subjective. His six foot three height, wide shoulders, and lean muscles resulted from years of conditioning and training.  His parents gifted him with great genes, his light brown hair, and hazel eyes completed the package. But for him, he wanted something substantial.

#2

“Would you like to dance, Cameron?”

He couldn’t help his pause at the question.  “I would love to, but I’ve never had a lot of rhythm and I’ll trample you.”

Rylan laughed and Cameron liked the scratchy, tinkling sound.  He gifted him with something precious and rare because Cameron smiled as he realized Rylan’s laugh matched his soft, masculine voice.

“Don’t worry.  I’ve got you.” Rylan slid his hand into Cameron’s bigger one and he allowed Rylan to pull him onto the dance floor.

As the other man led the way, Cameron’s gaze roamed over Rylan’s form.  He loved how his hair, even when damp from the exertion of dancing, looked soft.  He wanted to run his hands through it to see if it was as downy as it looked. The blond of Rylan’s hair was a little darker than his own, but it brought out the color in his eyes.

Rylan’s skin shimmered under the lights and Cameron had the strong urge to lean down and lick a swath along his delectable neck, tasting him.  Because of his thoughts, he flushed when Rylan turned back to him and moved his hands to Cameron’s hips.

“Close your eyes.”

Cameron, trusting this man he’d met, he complied with his request.  Cut off from one of his senses, sensations thrummed through him when Rylan tapped out a beat with his fingers against his waist.  He’d somehow burrowed his hand underneath his tee and Cameron could the pads of his fingers on his bare skin.

“Are you paying attention?”  Rylan laughed when Cameron’s head jerked up and caught his gaze.

 

 

About the Author

Valerie writes romances.

Contemporary, Paranormal, Erotic, and Gay.

She lives in Denver, Colorado with her wonderfully supportive husband and their funny and wise black lab, Maddie.  Valerie is addicted to coffee, crime shows, and reading and writing character-driven romances.

As a voracious reader, she’s believes that all writers are rock stars, and she hopes that people enjoy her stories as much as she loves the romance novels she’s devoured over the years!

 

Author Links

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