A Lila Release Day Review: Falling Into the Black (A Planet Called Wish #3) by Caitlin Ricci

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Rate: 4 stars out of 5

Sometimes there’s a difference between duty and doing what’s right. And sometimes doing what’s right comes with a high price.

Every aspasian at Asiq adores the handsome peacekeeper Resan—all except for Arin. While the other workers vie for Resan’s attention, Arin avoids him at all costs, which rouses Resan’s suspicion. When he discovers Arin is a runaway slave, Resan is bound by law to return him to his master. It is only later that Resan realizes what he’s done.

Arin’s owner bought him at twelve, married him, and not only violated Arin himself, but loaned him out to his friends. Resan has returned him to a life of rape and abuse, and now he must make a decision: free Arin and abandon the oaths he swore as a peacekeeper, or leave him to languish and abandon his own conscience and heart.

Falling Into the Black has a different feel than the previous books in the series. Perhaps because it takes place on different planets in the galaxy, and Corbin & Thierry are just secondary characters with a limited participation in the story. Even when they do play an important role, and we get updates on their relationships.

Arin and Resan are interesting characters. As a peacekeeper, Resan sees everything as black or white, good or bad. On the other hand, Arin’s life experiences have shown him the diversity found in-between those places. It takes time, and many rough moments for them to see beyond their own perceptions and into a future together.

The first part of the story moves fast and gets into the main issues right away. I’m glad that Arin’s experiences weren’t too graphic even when they were heartbreaking. I did have trouble putting the book down because I wanted to know how everything would be resolved. It does slow down toward the middle before it picks up again.

There are several twists and turns, and when you think the story is almost over, it’s just halfway there. Some things are a bit gut wrenching but don’t take away from the story. I enjoyed learning about the rest of the planets, the species, and all their characteristics. The world-build makes sense and enhances the scenes instead of being intrusive.

I’m not too sure about the ending and that’s why the story isn’t five stars for me. It’s more of an HFN than anything else, but not exactly what I was expecting. I love this series and I hope another one comes out soon. I definitely want to read more about this world and the couples we have met.

The cover by Brooke Albrecht goes well with others in the series. But, Arin’s representation seems too human.

Sale Links: Dreamspinner | Amazon | Kobo

Book Details:

ebook, 145 pages
Published: March 17, 2017, by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN: 9781635334890
Edition Language: English

Series: A Planet Called Wish
Book #1: To the Highest Bidder
Book #2: Fantasy for a Gentleman
Book #3: Falling into the Black

 

A Lila Release Day Review: The Mystery of the Curiosities (Snow & Winter #2) by C.S. Poe

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Life has been pretty great for Sebastian Snow. The Emporium is thriving and his relationship with NYPD homicide detective, Calvin Winter, is everything he’s ever wanted. With Valentine’s Day around the corner, Sebastian’s only cause for concern is whether Calvin should be taken on a romantic date. It’s only when an unknown assailant smashes the Emporium’s window and leaves a peculiar note behind, that all plans get pushed aside in favor of another mystery.

Sebastian is quickly swept up in a series of grisly yet seemingly unrelated murders. The only connection tying the deaths together are curiosities from the lost museum of P.T. Barnum. Despite Calvin’s attempts to keep Sebastian out of the investigation, someone is forcing his hand, and it becomes apparent that the entire charade exists for Sebastian to solve. With each clue that’ll bring him closer to the killer, he’s led deeper into Calvin’s official cases.

It’s more than just Sebastian’s livelihood and relationship on the line—it’s his very life.

The Mystery of the Curiosities is an intellectual interpretation of a murder mystery. I’m not a mystery reader. I never read any of the classic or watched any mystery programs. But, this series drew me in with great characters, interesting clues, and a lot of new facts. Like Sebastian, I love to know a lot of useless facts and information.

If you are looking for a realistic contemporary story, this isn’t one. You must give the characters, but especially the events, a lot of leeway. The facts, the settings, and most of the clues in the book are real, but everything is a bit over the top. Solutions come quick, and a sense of mysticism surrounds the story.

Sebastian’s dad is one of my favorite characters and Neil is a close second. There’s great banter between Calvin and Sebastian, and their relationship works great with the clues. The settings were very detailed and it was easy to understand their importance and how all the details added up in the end.

If you’re into detective’s stories with an intellectual edge, this is a good book to read. It moves fast and keeps the reader wanting to know more about the next clue. Looking forward to other installments in this series.

The cover by Reese Dante fits perfectly with the events of the story and gives the reader another good look at Sebastian. Also, it matches the first one in the series.

Sale Links: DSP | Amazon | Nook

Book Details:

ebook, 200 pages
Published: March 7, 2017, by DSP Publishing
ISBN: 9781635332650
Edition Language: English

Series:  Snow & Winter
Book #1: The Mystery of Nevermore
Book #2: The Mystery of the Curiosities

A Lila Release Day Review: I Love You More Than Pierogi (World of Love) by K.A. Merikan

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Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

i-love-you-more-than-pierogi-by-k-a-merikanMarek and Adrian dated in high school, but a bitter breakup led them to choose different paths. Adrian is out and proud while Marek is in the closet. Adrian embraces his eccentricity while Marek clings to a conservative image. And while Marek worked hard to build a successful life and financial stability by climbing the corporate ladder, Adrian threw caution to the wind and has spent the last five years backpacking across the world.

Now Adrian is back in Warsaw, Poland, but while Marek thinks they will have a hookup and have a blast from the past, Adrian is just looking for a place to crash. Worse still, Adrian turns up at Marek’s advertising agency for help with his outrageous new business venture, and if Marek wants to get promoted, he might have to work with the guy who broke his heart.

I Love You More Than Pierogi is all about Poland; especially their food. This is my first World of Love story and I like the idea of reading about countries I haven’t visited. It’s easy to see the authors’ affinity for the country and how they’re transmitting some of their own experiences throughout the story. It feels personal and realistic.

I love second chance stories and the relationship between Marek and Adrian is no exception. You can see the sparks between them from the moment they get back in contact. The paths theirs lives took after their original relationship ended transformed them into the man they are and somehow changed the expectations between the two.

The first part of the story is a bit slow and filled with information that helps the reader get into the smells, sites, and tastes of Poland. I had to google most of the food terms, including pierogi, but it didn’t take away from my enjoyment. I like learning new things as I read new stories.

The descriptions of the streets, architecture, etc. and the way of living (apartments, cars, and so) go hand in hand with what I knew about the country and its post-war reality. Some of the ways Marek’s office operates and the people they met were a bit over the top for me, but it added to the foreign feel.

The characters are beautifully written and their friendship is lovely later in the story. I just had trouble with Marek’s and Adrian’s mood swings, and some of the side stories. But overall, this is a great introductory romance with Poland at its heart.

The cover by Anna Sikorska is beautiful. One of the best I have seen in a while. The colors, the images, and the model work perfectly together to entice the reader to look further into the story.

Sale Links: Dreamspinner | Amazon | Nook

Book Details:

ebook, 101 pages
Published: January 4, 2017, Dreamspinner Press
ISBN: 9781635332100
Edition Language: English

A Lila Release Day Review: Holiday Weekend (Buchanan House #5) by Charley Descoteaux

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

holiday-weekendRyan Orchard moved from small-town Idaho to Portland almost two years ago and still feels like a hick. When Paulie Nesbitt dumped him, he wasn’t even surprised. Despite losing twenty-five pounds since then, Ryan’s confidence is nonexistent, and his life has stalled. Not only is he convinced the career he wants is beyond his reach, he’s given up on relationships. A new job at a familiar restaurant—and his gorgeous coworker—could be just what Ryan needs to believe in himself again.

Glenn Hernandez might be the only nineteen-year-old in Portland who dreads his days off. Between his horrible housing situation and the ever-present temptation to crawl back into the bottle, Glenn prefers to keep busy. He volunteers at the Elliott Foundation House, a homeless shelter helping LGBTQ former sex workers. As an alum of the shelter himself, Glenn finds it hard to leave his past behind. But when the new server at the trendy restaurant where he works catches Glenn’s eye and works his way into his heart, Glenn finally has a reason to start a new life.

Holiday Weekend is a sweet novella. Just like Pride Weekend, this is a short and to the point side story. We get to see the main characters from the other books, but they are simply part of the overall atmosphere. In reality, Glenn’s and Ryan’s story don’t interfere with the relationships of those living at the Buchanan House.

This story has a more new adult feel than the others. It takes us through Glenn’s and Ryan’s journey of self-discovery and trust. They came from different backgrounds, but circumstances only made them stronger in the end. I’m glad for the slow burn and the time they spent getting to know each other.

Both characters were flawed but they were able to be there for the other. They worked well together, and that translated to their relationship. They were sweet and almost innocent, even after everything they went through. And I loved seeing how real Glenn’s day to day struggle was.

I wanted to see a little more of the time frames that were skipped over, but I understand the constraints of a novella.  It’s nice that they got their HEA, but it was just too fast for the reader to really get invested in the couple. Overall, this story is a nice addition to the series.

Another perfect cover by L.C. Chase. It matches the series and the holiday season just like the story itself.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner | Amazon | ARe

Book Details:

ebook, 125 pages
Published: December 16, 2016, by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN: 1634778200 (ISBN13: 9781634778206)
Edition Language: English

Series: Buchanan House
Book #1: Buchanan House
Book #2: Pride Weekend
Book #3: Tiny House
Book #4: Safe House
Book #5: Holiday Weekend

 

A Lila Release Day Review: Cowboys Don’t Come Out by Tara Lain

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

cowboys-dont-come-out-by-tara-lainRand McIntyre settles for good enough. He loves his small California ranch, raising horses, and teaching riding to the kids he adores—but having kids of his own and someone to love means coming out, and that would jeopardize everything he’s built. Then, despite his terror of flying, he goes on a holiday to Hana, Hawaii, with his parents and meets the dark and mysterious Kai Kealoha, a genuine Hawaiian cowboy. Rand takes to Kai’s kid brother and sister as much as he drools over Kai, but the guy sports more prickles than a horned toad and more secrets than the exotic land he comes from.

Kai’s earned his privacy and lives to protect his “kids.” He ought to stay away from the big, handsome cowboy for everyone’s sake—but since the guy’s just a haole on a short vacation, how much damage can he do? When all of Kai’s worst fears and Rand’s darkest nightmares come true at once, there’s not much chance for two cowboys who can’t—or won’t—come out.

Cowboys Don’t Come Out is a different type of cowboy story. Californian cowboys are common in romance books, but a Hawaiian cowboy, a paniolo, was an interesting addition. We don’t get to see Kai in a ranching environment, but the guiding expeditions he offered gave the reader a little inside about his riding style. Together with the background and cultural information provided through the story.

The beginning of the book is slow and it takes some time to get into it, but in the end, the wait is worth it. As always, the author did an excellent story describing the settings and giving us a tour of the area; showing us exactly what the characters saw and their reactions to their surroundings—from Kai’s modest home to the beautiful Hawaiian views.

I liked Rand’s & Kai’s dancing duels and how good they were together. I enjoyed how they interacted as a family when the kids were with them. They might be from different backgrounds, but their differences merged well. I do think Rand was too young for the way he acted. I wished he has at least in his early thirties.

The story has many supporting and secondary characters, but Mrs. O was my favorite. Her relationship with Rand worked for me. There are many events during the story in which the reader needs to suspend disbelief, but overall, they gave the book an air of separation from reality. Almost like glazed-view of contemporary events. This is a story for fans of Tara Lain’s over-the-top plot lines.

The cover by Reese Dante shows a bare-chested Rand with a faint view of Hawaii in the background. It’s nice, but a bit generic.

Sale Links: Dreamspinner | Amazon | ARe

ebook, 200 pages
Published: December 7, 2016, Dreamspinner Press
ISBN: 1634778375 (ISBN13: 9781634778374)
Edition Language: English

A Lila Release Day Review: Hell Takes a Holiday By Kiernan Kelly

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Rating: 3 stars out of  5

hell-takes-a-holidayDespite a major setback, Lucifer has no time to feel sorry for himself. Running Hell is a monumental task, even though he’s taken steps to modernize it with technology like closed-circuit cameras and security systems.

As he struggles with his infernal issues, an unannounced visitor threatens to break his black heart. Lucifer hasn’t seen Uriel since his Fall, but he remembers how much he loved Uriel and how betrayed he felt when Uriel didn’t stand with him during the War.

Uriel has been sent to inspect the changes Lucifer has made and report back to Heaven. Lucifer has no choice but to give Uriel a guided tour of the Nine Circles, and all the feelings come rushing back.

Uriel hasn’t forgotten Lucifer either, and they pick up where they left off—with enough sizzle to rival the hottest of hell’s fires. But their reunion will be short-lived, unless Uriel relinquishes his halo—which Lucifer is unwilling to let him do.

Hell Takes a Holiday has a great premise. I love the idea of Uriel visiting Hell to “spy” on his ex-lover. It starts really interesting and I like the way they get to see each other for the first time in centuries. Their chemistry is palpable, and their internal monologues and witty banter very nice.

Unfortunately, after that, the story takes a preachy tone that drowns their conversations. Uriel goes from flirt into total drama quickly, killing the mood. Yes, their smexy times are hot, but not enough to compensate the knowledge overload. Don’t get me wrong, I agree with 90% of Luce’s explanations, but it was too much for such a short story.

The only relation to a holiday the story has it’s the mention of the events taking place on Christmas Eve. I find the ending too perfect to work overall. I wanted a bit of plot mix with the explanations to get me to cheer for their HEA.

The one thing this story has is great characters. Uriel and Luce are perfect individually, but even better together. And God has a great sense of humor too. Perhaps I expected more since this is the second edition of this story.

The cover by Bree Archer is nice, but the models don’t fit Luce’s & Uriel’s descriptions.

Sale Links: Dreamspinner | Amazon | ARe

ebook, 48 pages
Published: December 7, 2016 (Second Edition), Dreamspinner Press
ISBN: 1634777360 (ISBN13: 9781634777360)
Edition Language: English

A Lila Release Day Review: The Soldati Prince (Soldati Hearts #1) by Charlie Cochet

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Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5

the-soldati-princeOne moment Riley Murrough is living a normal life working in a coffee shop, and the next he’s running for his life from demons, learns he bears the mark of a shape-shifter king from a magical realm, and—worst of all—he’s destined to become the mated prince to the arrogant tiger shifter he would rather strangle.

Khalon, the shifter king, is equally distraught at the idea of being bound to a human prince, and along with his Soldati warriors, he sets out to return Riley to his own world where he belongs. On their journey they might discover why the priestess brought them together—if they can escape the demons and make it to her alive.

The Soldati Prince is an interesting take on shifters and royalty. Even when the author is known for her shifters, the tigers in this story are completely different from the other characters she had written before. I like the idea of them shifting back into their clothes and being part of the royal family.

The story is short for the amount of world-built in it. From the very beginning, we get to know Riley, and through him, the new world in which the book takes place. There are a lot of action scenes with interesting antagonists and new ways of life. Just like Riley, the reader has to learn what to expect when dealing with the demons trying to take over.

I like the tension between Riley and Khalon and how they tried to stay away from each other. But the best part is when they become friends. They are a nice couple to read about and have an easy chemistry. Their sense of humor is great too. They worked well together and is lovely to see them interact with the villagers–especially the kids.

Seeing the new world from Riley’s human perspective is a fun part in the book. Their travel to see the priestess takes most of the story and it’s slow in parts. Some questions still unanswered but it’s to be expected since it’s the first book in the series. The author also did a nice job setting up the main characters in the next installment.

The cover by L.C. Chase shows Riley–wearing his leathers and holding his sword. He’s accompanied by two Soldati warrior tigers, and we can see small details about the realm in the background.

Sale Links

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Book Details:

ebook, 97 pages
Published: November 23, 2016 (second edition), by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN: 1634775805 (ISBN13: 9781634775809)
Edition Language: English

Series: Soldati Hearts
Book #1: The Soldati Prince

A Lila Release Day Review: Where We Left Off (Middle of Somewhere #3) by Roan Parrish

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Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

where-we-left-off-by-roan-parrishLeo Ware may be young, but he knows what he wants. And what he wants is Will Highland. Snarky, sophisticated, fiercely opinionated Will Highland, who burst into Leo’s unremarkable life like a supernova… and then was gone just as quickly.

For the past miserable year, Leo hasn’t been able to stop thinking about the powerful connection he and Will shared. So, when Leo moves to New York for college, he sweeps back into Will’s life, hopeful that they can pick up where they left off. What begins as a unique friendship soon burns with chemistry they can’t deny… though Will certainly tries.

But Leo longs for more than friendship and hot sex. A romantic to his core, Leo wants passion, love, commitment—everything Will isn’t interested in giving. Will thinks romance is a cheesy fairytale and love is overrated. He likes his space and he’s happy with things just the way they are, thank you very much. Or is he? Because as he and Leo get more and more tangled up in each other’s lives, Will begins to act like maybe love is something he could feel after all.

Where We Left Off is a new adult, coming of age story. The majority of the book is about Leo and his experiences as a young gay man moving into the city; including his first times with sex, lust, and new love. There are a lot of details about Leo’s everyday routine, and his friendships. Rating it solely on this, I could give it a solid four.

As a romance, Will is kept on the outside of Leo’s circle. We get a limited amount of information about him, and it’s difficult to be invested in their relationship. Most of their time together happened off-page, and we are told about it from Leo’s point of view. I think their love story is more of a goal than something they felt for each other.

One thing they do have is a great friendship. I like how Will was a bit of a tutor for Leo; someone for him to feel comfortable asking questions and exploring his sexuality. And this made the smexy times well worth it. They have great chemistry in those moments they spent together as friends and during the sex scenes.

The reasons behind Will’s distant behavior were somehow over the top, and not entirely resolved by the end of the story. There was a lot left to the reader’s interpretation on that front. I also didn’t like some of the events which occurred when the MCs weren’t together, but I can’t say more without spoilers. The book ends with an HFN, but I’m not too sure about the possibilities for it to turn into an HEA in the future.

This book works well within the series but it relates more to the first book than the second. Unfortunately, the second one was my favorite. In the end, if you enjoyed In the Middle of Somewhere, this one is for you.

Another matching cover by AngstyG. It goes with the story, but it’s a bit depressing.

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Book Details – add it to your Goodreads shelf here:

ebook, 260 pages
Published: September 26, 2016, by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN: 9781634776912
Edition Language: English

Series:  Middle of Somewhere
Book #1: In the Middle of Somewhere
Book #2: Out of Nowhere
Book #3: Where We Left Off

A Lila Release Day Review: Safe House (Buchanan House #4) by Charley Descoteaux

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Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5

safe-house-by-charley-descoteauxKyle Shimoda is an asshole magnet, has been for as long as he can remember. At forty-seven, he doesn’t see much chance for improving his luck in love. His friends who run Buchanan House, a gay retreat on the central Oregon coast, know he wants to find “someone nice” to settle down with, and they set him up with Officer Brandon Smith. Kyle has a turbulent history with law enforcement, but he can’t deny his attraction to the buff cop.

Brandon has been a police officer in Lincoln City almost since the day he graduated from high school over thirty years ago. He’s cultivated the facade of a serious, disciplined law enforcement officer, but beneath his overdeveloped chest beats the soft heart of a drama queen. A cancer scare shifts Bran’s focus from finding a serious relationship to having as much sex as he can—putting his goals squarely at odds with Kyle’s. If he can’t find the courage to be honest about his feelings for Kyle, the happiness they’ve both been searching for could slip through their fingers.

Safe House goes beyond a simple love story and into each main character as individuals. I like how we were able to see them with their friends and families before they were together and how well it worked when both their worlds met. We see how their past framed their future and relationship approach. Kyle and Brandon didn’t need each other to be great characters, but they complemented the other; giving the reader the opportunity to enjoy mature men falling in love.

I enjoyed Kyle’s and Brandon’s story. They were perfect for each other and had the life experience to value the small details that made them a lovely couple. There’s a bit of miscommunication between them, but not enough to take over the entire story. Their times together in bed were hot and their interactions sweet.

The cancer scare and Kyle history with police were the only two aspects that kept me from giving this story a higher rating. Not because they were part of the book, but because they became secondary and almost were solved too quickly. In the beginning, the author did an excellent job bringing them to the forefront, but after the MCs’ relationship starts, their backgrounds get pushed aside.

As in the previous books, every character taking part in the series has a reason to be there and are as important in this particular installment. It’s also nice to get updates from those we met previously.

Overall, this book has a well-balanced amount of flirt, smexy times, and low angst making it a perfect read for a fall afternoon.

Another beautiful cover by L.C. Chase. It matches the rest of the series and shows important aspects of the story.

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Book Details:

ebook, 200 pages
Published: September 19, 2016, by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN: 9781634776073
Edition Language: English

Series: Buchanan House
Book #1: Buchanan House
Book #2: Pride Weekend
Book #3: Tiny House
Book #4: Safe House

 

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

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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.

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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