A Jeri Review: After the Fire (Through Hell and Back #2) by Felice Stevens

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Wow. I knew my heart would break even more for Jordan, but I didn’t think it would be that heart breaking. After he fiancé died (in book 1) Jordan is despondent. He blows off his friends, does minimal for his job and completely ignores his volunteer work. He is waiting to die of a broken heart.

It takes a letter threatening to remove him from the foundation his fiancé began for him to get out of the house. He is ready for a fight, but not for Lucas.

Felice Stevens writes such convincingly real characters. With real flaws, real lives and jobs and friends. All of those things are part of her stories and they make you really care for the characters. You can feel Lucas’ pain. You can feel Jordan’s heartbreak.

The characters from book one play a major part in this book, but at the same time they don’t detract at all from the story of Lucas and Jordan- they only enhance it. If you are lucky enough to have friends like them, you are lucky enough indeed.

Lucas and Jordan have a slow burn smoldering heat. So much denial from both of them- but it is completely warranted. I can get annoyed with the ploy of a main character putting up emotional walls because of something in their past. But not here. Because even though those walls were there, they were well founded.

And even after the walls started crumbling, it wasn’t insta love. It grew slowly between the two of them. So beautifully done.

A lot happens in this book- and yet nothing seemed gratuitous or like page filler. And now I am practically salivating for book three!

Cover art is lovely and works for the story and characters.

Sales Links  Amazon Kindle

Book Details:

245 pages
Published January 2017 (first published February 23rd 2015)
Original TitleAfter the Fire
SeriesThrough Hell and Back #2

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

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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 Jeri Review: Smoke and Mirrors (THIRDS book 7) by Charlie Cochet

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
Smoke and MirrorsYou have read the THIRDS series, right? If you haven’t- READ IT! Start at the beginning. Trust me.
Smoke and Mirrors is book seven in the excellent series, THIRDS. This book picks up with the serious cliffhanger ending from Catch a Tiger by the Tail, book 6. As fans of the series know, we were left wndering what happened to Dex when Sloane woke up to find him gone. And boy do we find out.
While many of the books deal with various relationships- Dex and Sloane, Ash and Cael, Calving and Hobbs- there is always an intriguing story behind it all. Complex and interesting, the continuing story sucks you in and keeps you coming back for more. To say you get invested in these characters is an understatement.
In this installment, there are no new relationships being formed. Instead, this book focuses all on the story. What really happened to Dex’s parents. Who know what. How intricate the web is. Who can you trust and not trust? Watching the team come together to save and help one of their own shows how tight they all are, We continue to see the romantic involvements between the various couples, and we hope beyond hope for other couples to form.
I have to say that the one big twist was pretty apparent even before it was revealed. Even with that knowledge, it was no less gasp worthy.
I have to mention that there was one brief part in the book that was so relevant to what is happening in the news, I wondered briefly if Ms.Cochet was psychic.
These books make you think, make you swoon, make you literally laugh out loud and make you cry. Although I love that it is a “gay romance”  I would hazard a guess that if it were a mainstream romance it would be a chart buster and have producers fighting for the movie rights.
The tagline of “Everything changes” whetted our appetites and this book completely satisfied.
Cover art by L.C. Chase is perfect for the book and series.
Sales Links:   Dreamspinner Press | ARe | Amazon  more links to come
Book Details:
ebook, 230 pages
Expected publication: July 8th 2016 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 1634773888 (ISBN13: 9781634773881)
Edition LanguageEnglishSeriesTHIRDS #7

A Jeri Review: A Good Enough Reason by C.M. Lievens

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Rating: 4 Stars out of 5

A Good Enough ReasonComing of age/teenage romance stories can be tough. Too much can be….icky, but not enough leaves you wanting so much more. Just as teenagers skate a fine line between being children and adults, stories based on them can skate that line as well. But this book did that really well.

Ellis is your typical nerdy loner with one friend. Well, he had two but one of them moved away.  Dale is Mr. Jock Popularity in school. We all knew him, that guy that everyone loved and he loved everyone back. So when Ellis and Dale are paired together for an English topic to debate for and against a topic, Dale thinks he is being cool by suggesting they debate if gay teens should get the same perks as straight teens as far as prom goes. Ellis assumes Dale is mocking him and it takes a while to convince Ellis that even though he is popular, Dale is a good guy. He even wants to find him a prom date.

Dale and Ellis grow closer, with Dale pushing the boundaries of friendship. And while this could have come off as supremely cocky of him, it didn’t. He genuinely seemed like a kid who wanted to explore his bisexuality with someone he not only considered a friend, but someone he was really attracted to.

Ellis is wary, but doesn’t throw up walls of “stay away seemingly straight dude”! He has a sounding board in his friend who moved away and best friend who is witnessing it all.

The author also does an amazing job of dealing with bullying. Not only how easily and often it happens, but how it is so overlooked by teachers. They just don’t take it seriously until it goes too far. And usually the person being bullied doesn’t want to come out and say anything because ultimately that makes the bullying worse. One scene, which I will call “the locker incident”, when Ellis is just dumbfounded that he is getting in trouble for something that happened TO him, I was heartbroken. Because it happens every.single.day.

This was a really great young adult romance story with a lot of meat to it. I thoroughly enjoyed it and would actually love to read more about Dale and Ellis.

Cover art by Bree Archer is lovely and works for the story.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | ARe | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 220 pages
Published May 23rd 2016 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 1634772520 (ISBN13: 9781634772525)
Edition LanguageEnglish

A Jeri Review: The Sweet Spot (Homeruns #4) By Sloan Johnson

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

4 ½ Home runs!

The Sweet Spot coverI love baseball. Therefore I love books with baseball and baseball players. I really enjoyed the first three in this series, but I think this one might be my favorite. The previous books all revolved around MLB players at different places in their careers. In this installment, we get to see the side we don’t often see- a guy trying to make it up from the minors to the majors. Think Bull Durham. But gay. And without the cocky attitude of Nuke Laloosh.

Not only is Nick playing in the minors and fighting for a spot in the big show, he is also fighting to distance himself from his father- himself a former MLB player and current general manager for the team he plays in the minors for. He doesn’t want any preferential treatment. He is also harboring a secret- he doesn’t want anyone to know he is gay. Which is just so silly. Not only is his team very open and accepting of gay players- several have come before him and still play. But he doesn’t want that label. So while he is having a hot and heavy fling with Cody, he abruptly ends it to focus more on his career.

Fast forward a few years. Nick is still playing in the minors, but Cody is taken on as a social media intern. He doesn’t expect to run into Nick the first day, but he does.

What I loved about this book. Nick is in the proverbial closet, but he doesn’t end things with Cody because of that- even though that is what Cody thinks. He ends it because he doesn’t want distractions. He wants to make it to the majors.

Ms. Johnson also shines a light on what minor league players go through. It is hardly the glamorous life of a big leaguer. They have to play as a team while battling for the few MLB roster spots. They often travel by bus. They make very little money. They are constantly traded away and rarely get to be with their families. And the politics of baseball could almost put Washington to shame.

I also loved how Cody really came into his own. We met him in a previous book when a couple of players took him in. At the beginning of the book he was a high school senior struggling with life. When we meet him again he is finishing up college and has his eyes firmly on what he wants to do with his life. And although he still loves Nick, he does not immediately jump into his arms.

This book was a roller coaster ride. It was great storytelling from Nick’s point of view. I don’t want to spoil things in the book- because you really need to read it- but the range of highs and lows that he experiences rings so true. Through it all though is Cody.

We get some glimpses and scenes of players from past books, which I always love. You don’t have to read their books to know them in this book. But don’t miss those books, because they are really good.

Great book without the typical cliché angst, it was sweet and although there were struggles, the pay off is totally worth it.

Cover art is terrific, spot on with the sport.

Sales links:  AmazoniBooks | Nook | Kobo

Book details:

ebook
Published May 9th 2016
SeriesHomeruns #4

Homeruns Series: