An Ali Review: Making It (Ringside Romance #3) by Christine d’Abo

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Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5
Devan knows exactly what he wants from life: a good career, a husband who loves him, and a child to call his own. He’s working at the perfect job, and has found the man of his dreams in Eli. That only leaves one box left to tick. When his friend offers to be a surrogate mother for Devan and Eli, he’s convinced all his dreams have come true.

Eli has been fighting his entire life. Fighting to keep his sick mother safe, fighting his frustration, and fighting daily as an up-and-coming MMA star. The one thing he can’t fight is the feeling that he’s made a terrible mistake agreeing to be a father with Devan. On the worst night of their lives, Eli knows Devan is better off without him, and leaves.

When Eli returns three years later he comes face-to-face with Devan and a son who might be his. Devan has moved on with his life, but seeing Eli once again reignites forgotten passion. Yet if Eli wants to make it work with Devan, he must decide if he’s ready for the biggest fight of his life.
I was super excited about this book. I love a good second chance story. Unfortunately this didn’t live up to my expectations. 

The book starts three years in the past. Eli and Devon are married and they’re in a bad place. Things happen and Eli walks away from it all and the way he does it is truly horrible. My status update at this point said “Eli exhibited a bionic level of asshattery. He’s going to need to crawl through broken glass while begging for forgiveness for this to work for me.”

And there is the problem. He didn’t. He just shows back up, says he’s sorry and they’re seeing each other again. I couldn’t understand any decision Devon made at this point. They do this weird thing where they decide Devon should see other people so he knows he wants Eli back (but he hasn’t dated at all in the three years he’s been gone) AND he leaves his kid with Eli as the babysitter. Devon was like that one friend we all have who makes constant decisions that make you scream “WHAT ON EARTH ARE YOU DOING!?!” internally every time you talk about their relationship.
Despite the dramatic set up, the story is actually low angst and low drama and a nice and mellow love story. Which is not necessarily a bad thing but it was absolutely not what I was expecting or wanting from this book.

This is the third book in the series but is fine as a standalone. You see both couples from books one and two in this but the way the books are done they can all be easily read on their own.
This cover was done by L.C. Chase and I like it a lot.  I think it’s a good cover by itself but overall the covers of the books in this series have been some of my favorites this year.  They coordinate really well and they’re all striking in their own way.
Sales Links:  Riptide Publishing | Amazon
Book Details:
ebook, 226 pages
Published August 7th 2017 by Riptide Publishing
Original TitleMaking It
ISBN139781626495821
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesRingside Romance #3

An Ali Review: A Collision with Reality (In Like Flynn #1) by Storm Duffy

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Rating:  3 stars out of 5

 

a-collision-with-realityFlynn’s new boss is so hot he can’t wait to get home to tell the chatroom how much he wants Dom’s cock down his throat. By Friday, he’s shared quite a few thoughts on what he’d like his boss to do to him. But he’s not as anonymous as he thinks, and Dom’s intent on disciplining him for breaching company policy on social networking. Dom gives him a choice of put up or shut up: he can play out the fantasy in real life, or he can walk out of the office without a word to HR as long as he never talks that way about Dom again. Flynn chooses “put up”—but he’s forgotten about one of the things he said he wouldn’t mind doing.

 

This story wasn’t a romance, but that isn’t what I was expecting either.  Flynn lets out his fantasies online thinking that no one will ever know.  He continues and when he mentions a different coworker his new boss knows exactly who has been making the comments.

 

I could feel how cocky Flynn was, thinking that he wouldn’t have anything to worry about with his posts.  Flynn is blindsided when Dom confronts him, but gets the opportunity to play out his fantasies.  I liked Dom putting the experience in perspective to thin Flynn in the end.  I’m interested to read more in this series to see what else Flynn gets up to.

 

Cover art by Natasha Snow is nice and gives great visuals of the characters.

 

Sales Links:

Nine Star Press

65a2f-waxcreative-amazon-kindle

 

Book Details:

ebook, 7100 words

Published: January 2, 2017 by Nine Star Press

Edition Language: English

Series: In Like Flynn #1

An Ali Review: The Road To Frosty Hollow by RJ Scott and Meredith Russell

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Rating:  4 stars out of 5

 

the-road-to-frosty-hollowNick and Cameron face old demons, and find new love, on a Christmas road trip.

 

Former Marine Nick Sheridan is at a crossroads. With his entire life ahead of him he struggles to find direction and his place in the world. Car sharing to get home for his sister’s Christmas wedding seems like a good idea at first. Spending the time with the man he kissed and left years before, maybe not so much.

 

Cameron Bennett lost most of his teenage years to cancer and he now lives every day to the fullest. He decides to drive from Seattle to Vermont for his best friend’s wedding and capture moments of it on film. He hadn’t planned on car sharing with the man who kissed him ten years ago, but somehow he ends up with a brooding Nick by his side.

 

Along the way, the men learn that sometimes life plans mean nothing in the grand scheme of things. Love can be found in the most unexpected of ways, and facing your demons head on is sometimes the only way to live.

 

This was a wonderful story.  Nick has steadfastly avoided Cam since the kiss that Cam ran away from, but sees updates visa his sister’s facebook account.  They both go along with Nick’s sister’s plan for the road trip across the country.

 

Nick is stuck in a rut and hopes this road trip will give him time to put some perspective on his life and decide what he wants to do anymore.  Cam is running away from his past, afraid that his cancer could be coming back.  These two seem to have an underlying connection that they have been denying for years.

 

We get to see both characters’ points of view which is a big help as they both have a lot going on in their heads.  It’s nice to see them both willing to work through their own problems so that they can work on a life together.  It’s funny how they both knowingly played into the sister’s plan, but this trip seemed to give them the opportunity to be themselves in years.

 

Cover art by Meredith Russell is nice and gives us some good visuals for the characters.

 

Sales Link: Amazon | ARe

 

Book Details:

ebook, 137 pages

Published: December 21, 2016 by Love Lane Books

ISBN: 9781785640605

Edition Language: English

An Ali Review: Heaven Sent: The Complete Series (Heaven Sent #1-6) by Jet Mykles

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Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Heaven Sent Boxed EditionThis collection of stories included the 6 main books of the series as well as 4 shorts the author calls “flings”.  The stories follow the 4 guys that make up the band Heaven Sent and their manager.  Each story focuses one couple but the rest of the band members are in each book and we follow their journey along the way.
Book One:  Heaven
Tyler is the manager of the Weiss Hotel and he’s under a lot of pressure.  His dad has cancer and the hotel is doing poorly.  He decides to open a night club and asks the band to perform on opening night.  Tyler is awe struck when the lead singer Johnnie asks him to hang out.  This book was one of my least favorites in the series.  My issue was that the first few sex scenes were dubious consent and that’s something that I’m not at all a fan off.  Johnnie keeps making sexual passes at Tyler and Tyler keeps telling him “No, I’m straight and I’m not interested” but Johnnie does not take “No” for an answer.  Then after being pushed in to it, Tyler decided he’s bisexual after all and falls for Johnnie.  I didn’t care for Johnnie or this plot device so despite the overall plot being good the story was just ok for me.  It was also an insta-love which I can sometimes go with the flow on but since I was already annoyed in regards to the consent issue the insta-love annoyed me too.
Fling 1.5:  Pretty Red Ribbon
This is a short story about Johnnie decorating himself in bows and ribbons as a Christmas gift for Tyler.  It was a short and steamy story that I would have enjoyed had I not still disliked Johnnie. (I did eventually get over my dislike by the time I got to the later books)
Book Two:  Purgatory
This story starts in the past and we see a glimpse of the guys prior to Heaven Sent becoming famous.  Luc and Reese are friends until Reese tries to kiss him and Luc freaks out.  The two men haven’t seen each other for years but a wedding brings them back together.  Reese is shocked to find that Luc has come out as bisexual and has always regretted his past behavior.  I really liked these two together.  Their love story was more believable as they had so much history.  I was really enjoying this one until close to the end when Luc does something really outrageous I couldn’t believe it.  It was an over the top, alpha, “I know what’s best for you” type of move and ended up making me dislike him and dropped my rating of the book.
Fling 2.5:  Sexy Spring Surprise
This is a sexy short featuring Luc and Reese.  It was enjoyable and steamy.
Book Three:  Hell
This story finds the band looking to do some changes in their style of music and they’re auditioning new band members.  They settle on keyboard player Heller and Brent and Hell immediately hit it off with their love of music.  This story shows the guys become friends slowly over time and then become lovers.  Through it all Brent is struggling with some personal issues and he has a hard time accepting that Hell loves him.  There is a bit of drama before Brent figures things out.  This book felt the most realistic to me and I really felt bad for Brent when he messes up.  Hell was a fun and likable character.  This ended up being my favorite book of the series.
Fling 3.5:  Feisty Little Firecracker
This was a very steamy short about Brent and Hell on the 4th of July.  Great little erotica short.  I loved this one.
Book Four:  Faith
This story starts a few years down the road and Darien is the only one of the band members not in a committed relationship.  He’s lonely and he knows it and it leads to him asking a girl he’s been seeing to marry him.  When things don’t work out Hell refers him to his lawyer friend Chris.  Chris is Darien’s total opposite and is quiet and reserved while Darien is constantly talking and seeking people to interact with.  These two were adorable together and they had a nice love story.  I enjoyed this one a lot.
Fling 4.5:  Sly Spectral Trick
This was a Halloween short story that started a bit creepy and then ended quite steamy.  It stars Darian and Chris and it was another one I really enjoyed.
Book Five:  Genesis
This story is another few years down the road and focuses on all four couples equally.  They guys have been touring and working for years and they’re all in a place where they are thinking about taking a break.  A few of them also have big life choices like marriage and children on the mind.  I thought this was done well and it went from one couple to the other and back again.  I enjoyed this one a lot and it was a nice wrap up to these four couple’s stories.
Book Six:  Revelations
This book takes place while the band is on hiatus and focuses on the band’s manager Gretchen.  She has feelings for her personal assistant, Owen, but feels he is too young for (he’s about 10 years younger).  She meets Archer through a business deal and the two of them start seeing each other.  After meeting Owen a few times Archer realizes Owen and Gretchen have feelings for each other so he proposes they have a menage and that leads to a poly relationship.  This was my least favorite story in the series because it felt really under developed.  There is little plot and it felt more like erotica.  It was smoking hot but I would have liked to see these three fall for each other.
This was a mixed bag for me.  Some of the stories I liked a lot.  Some were average and there were a few I didn’t care for.  All of the books and flings can be read as standalones except for book five Genesis.  If you’re looking for something that is lighter with lot’s of steamy scenes this is a series you should check out.
Cover art by P.L. Nunn
Sales Links:  Loose Id LLC   no other links found
Book Details:
ebook, 698 pages
Published May 10th 2016 by Loose Id
ISBN139781682521472
Edition LanguageEnglishSeriesHeaven Sent #1-6

An Ali Review: Hot Dogs and Kisses (Men at Work) by J.D. Walker

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Rating:  3 stars out of 5

 

Hot Dogs and KissesDarwin “Dare” Mancuso owns a string of food trucks across the city. His friends often tell him he works too hard and has too little fun. Dare knows it’s true, but he has high standards for both his business and his love life, and isn’t about to fall into bed with just any man he meets, no matter how hot he is.

Then Abel Messler comes into his life, and Dare takes notice. Unlike the entitled business types to whom he serves every day, Abel has an innocence that’s hard to ignore and draws Dare in. When Abel loses his job, it’s all Dare can do not to hug him and kiss all his troubles away.

Instead he invites Abel out for a good time with friends, and the end result gives both men more than they ever expected.

 

JD Walker did a nice job with this story.  It’s nice and sweet with a HFN ending.  Dare is trying not to be jealous of his friend’s love life when he meets Abel.  He can’t help but want to help the kid when he comes by his food truck.

 

I understood Dare wanting to protect Abel and it’s nice to see Abel give as good as he gets when he is finally in his own environment.  This is meant as a short story, so there isn’t a lot of build up and action, but it didn’t leave you wondering what was going on either.

 

The cover art is nice and consistent with the series.

 

Sales Links: JMS Books | Amazon | ARe

 

Book Details:

ebook, 17 pages

Published: May 14, 2016 by JMS Books

ISBN: 9781634861090

Edition Language: English

Series: Men at Work

An Ali Review: Reaping Fate (Reaping Havoc #2) by A.J. Rose

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Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

 

Health care reform is dead. Concept photo.

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Then Mitch is assigned to reap a serial killer’s victim.

Mitch and Nate are willing to go to just about any lengths to bring the killer to justice, but Divinity has a plan for everyone, and the reapers are at risk of being terminated themselves if they meddle too much. Mitch knows better than to tempt fate, but Nate isn’t wired to sit idly by while innocent people lose their lives to a vicious killer.

Nate sets out to balance the scales of justice for the souls in their charge, but what happens when he becomes the killer’s bug in the web? Ca he stop a killer without exercising his own free will or putting those he loves in the crosshairs? Only Death knows, and he’s not talking.

I enjoyed this next installment in the Reaping Havoc series.  Mitch and Nate have been together awhile and are working as reapers in their town.  A murder victim that Mitch is called to do doesn’t set right with Nate.  He wants to investigate and find the killer.  There is a rule though that reapers can not get involved and by doing so Nate and Mitch are risking their contract and their life together.  I thought the plot was well done and a little more fast paced than book one.  This series has a nice paranormal twist and is not overly angsty.  We meet some new characters in this story and I really liked Sebastian and his husband Robert.
You can read this book as a standalone but it would be a big spoiler for the first book so you should probably read them in order.  This is a low angst paranormal series that has a unique storyline.  The main focus in the murder mystery with a nice on going love story between the two main characters.
Cover art. I love the cover.  I think it is really well done and is a great depiction of the plot of the story.

Sales Links:  ARe | Amazon

Book Details:
ebook, 277 pages
Published May 4th 2016 by The Grim Writer Press
Original TitleReaping Fate
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series: Reaping Havoc

An Ali Review: Mongrel Trilogy Bundle by K.Z. Snow

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Mongrel Trilogy Bundle CoverOne day a shadow is cast on the Mechanical Circus, a rollicking seaside carnival where imagination meets machinery, when a tall, cloaked figure approaches the stand of Will Marchman, a young patent-medicine salesman. Thus begins the adventures of Will; Fanule Perfidor, commonly known as the Dog King; vampire Clancy Marrowbone; and Clancy’s former lover, the mortal Simon Bentcross.
book one:  Mongrel
 Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5
Hunzinger’s Mechanical Circus, a rollicking seaside carnival where imagination meets machinery, shines as the only bright spot in the dreary city of Purinton. A shadow is cast there one day when a tall, cloaked figure approaches the stand of Will Marchman, a young patent-medicine salesman. Fanule Perfidor, commonly known as the Dog King, isn’t welcome at the Circus. No resident of Taintwell is; they’re all Branded Mongrels, officially shunned. But Will is beguiled by the stunning, mysterious Perfidor. Their mutual wariness soon gives way to desire, and a bond forms.Soon the naive but plucky pitchman becomes embroiled in a dangerous quest. Fanule suspects Alphonse Hunzinger and Purinton’s civic leaders are responsible for the disappearance or incarceration of countless Branded Mongrels. But why? As Will’s passion and regard for his tormented lover grow, he’s determined to help Fanule get answers and prevent any further persecution… or worse. They just have to stay together-and stay alive long enough-to see their plan through.
I enjoyed this and found the world building really good.  The author created a really unique and creative steampunk world here.  The writing was so descriptive I could easily imagine it in my mind.  I liked the main couple and their friends.  It was a bit of insta-love but it still worked for me.  My only issue was the dialogue was a bit stilted in places.  The writing style when it came to their conversations was just a bit simplistic.
book two:  Merman
Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

When vampire Clancy Marrowbone returns to Purin province after nearly two years, he intends only to visit with his dear friend, Fanule Perfidor, and find out how his former lover, the unfortunately mortal Simon Bentcross, is faring. But two developments change Marrowbone’s itinerary: the appearance of a drastically altered man from his past, and the reawakening of his passion for Simon.

Both of these unexpected reunions become increasingly complicated. The connection between Simon’s new creation, a bathysphere-like submersible, and a clandestine underwater-research project results in Marrowbone and Bentcross becoming hunted men. But sometimes, it takes danger to make a star-crossed affair seem worth saving.

I really enjoyed the plot in this story.  Again the world building was excellent.  The main couple here were the side characters in book one but there is still a lot of Fan and Will in this one.  I never really felt the attraction between these two so the romance aspect was just ok for me but the overall plot was good.
book three:  Machine
Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

The closing-day flea market at the Marvelous Mechanical Circus always draws a colorful crowd, but salesman Will Marchman doesn’t expect to see a large, elaborate gold wagon on the plaza—especially one called the Spiritorium. The wagon’s exotic looking owner claims he can perform “cleansings and siphonings” via a miracle-working machine housed within. He can supposedly flush the wickedness out of people and places.

The Spiritorium appears in the Mongrel village of Taintwell the next day, setting off a potentially tragic chain of events that begins with a shocking revelation. To make matters worse, Fanule Perfidor, de facto mayor and Will’s lover, has been neglecting to take the tonic that stabilizes his moods. Besieged by his illness, Fan drives Will away. Then Fan’s best friend, vampire Clancy Marrowbone, vanishes, causing a rift between him and his mortal lover. Then Will disappears.

As Fan regains control of his mind, he knows what he must do to save his village and the people most important to him. He must solve the mystery of the Spiritorium and confront a man he’d hoped never to see again.

This story was back to Fan and Will and they are going through a difficult time due to some evil forces that come in to their village.  Their relationship is put to the test as is their friend’s Clancy and Simon’s relationship.  Through the course of the story the guys all end up working together to rid their town of the bad guy.
Overall I really enjoyed this trilogy.  I had some minor issues with the relationships being insta-love and the dialogue not being as good as I would have liked in places but the good things outweighed the bad in my opinion.  There is great world building in the series and really interesting plots and characters.  I would read other books in this series if the author ever wrote any more and they would make a great movie or television show.  These are a recommend for those who enjoy the steampunk genre and I also think these would be a good starter place for those who haven’t read steampunk before but would like to try it.
Sales Links: Dreamspinner PressAmazon
 
Book Details:
ebook, 475 pages
Published April 29th 2016 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 1634774493 (ISBN13: 9781634774499)
Edition LanguageEnglish
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An Ali Review: Hat Trick by Meg Harding

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 Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

Hat TrickNathan Barres has always loved hockey before anything else. When a one night stand with Felix Moore gives him emotions, he flees the scene. He’s not expecting to see Felix ever again. So when an injury knocks him out of the game for several weeks, he’s less than pleased to see the Winnipeg Wolves newest trainer is none other than Felix.

Almost two years later, and the feelings are still there. Nathan does his best to shove them to the back burner and ignore the temptation Felix presents. That is, until Felix makes him an offer that’s just a little too tempting–with amazing results. He’s a hockey player after all, and they’re nothing if not superstitious. If Felix is his good luck charm, who is he to resist?

I am a gigantic hockey fan and therefore a fan of hockey stories.  I had high hopes for this as I had read this author before and enjoyed her work.  Unfortunately this book didn’t work for me.  The main characters were very immature and I had a hard time reconciling that with their jobs and responsibilities.  It didn’t seem realistic to me.  My main issue was that the entire plot is based on super bad communication.  It was to an extreme level and was ridiculous in my opinion.  As previously stated they had important jobs.  Nathan was the captain of the hockey team and would have to be able to communicate well, as his role is to talk to the referees and advocate for his team as well as to provide motivation and guidance of the other players.  Felix was a team trainer and would have to be able to communicate with the players as well as the coaches and owners of the team.  So how they couldn’t have simple conversations was beyond me.  There were a whole bunch of small things that bothered me also and some were petty, but once everything added up it still led to an overall lack of enjoyment of the book.
Cover by Ginny Glass. I do not care for the cover of this.  The overall design and the guy on the right side were fine but the guy on the left looks like a professional wrestler, not a team medical staff member.
Sales Links: Loose id LLC | Amazon
Book Details:
ebook, 133 pages
Published May 10th 2016 by Loose Id (first published May 9th 2016)
ISBN139781682521250
Edition LanguageEnglish

An Ali Review: Dreamers’ Destiny by Tempeste O’Reilly

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Rating:  5 stars out of 5   

Dreamers' DestinyLiam Grady is the owner of the Feathered Quill, a quirky little bookstore in Asheville, and—though he doesn’t realize it yet—a dream walker. His last relationship failed almost a year ago, and he’s not had the interest or nerve to pursue anyone he’s met since.

Cameron Danu is a tattoo artist from rural Georgia. Cameron is left without a job after his boss, José, is forced to close the shop after a heart attack. When Cameron learns José has set up an interview for him at a small tattoo parlor in Asheville, he hopes for a fresh start in a new town.

Fate brings Cameron and Liam together, and they realize they’ve met before—in their dreams. A chance encounter and a winged tattoo might lead them to their destiny—if fear doesn’t turn their dreams into a nightmare

This is another wonderful story by Tempeste O’Riley.  I have enjoyed her contemporary romances and was excited to read a paranormal by this author.

Liam and Cameron have been meeting in their dreams for years and when they actually see and meet each other in the real world it throws everything into a tailspin.  When Liam learns that he is a dream walker and dream weaver he begins to learn about his gift while getting to know Cameron in the real world.  When someone begins to attack them in their dreams they have to work together to get to the other side unharmed.

This was an emotional story and it was nice being able to feel both Liam’s and Cameron’s feelings on what was going on.  The different points of view were helpful in understanding the characters.  They both had to struggle with keeping their dream world and the real world separate from the other and when the dream world begins to invade into the real world they work together with the help of friends to get everything back on track.

This was a great story and I loved how their relationship came together.  Everything wasn’t perfect for either of them and they each had to learn how to be there for the other.  Their sex scenes in their dreams were hot, but once they actually knew each other they got even better.  The story had a great conclusion with them looking towards the future after they conquered the man from their dreams.

Cover art by Reese Dante is wonderful and depicts one of the main tattoos in the story.  Plus, a man with tattoos is always great to look at.

Sales Links: Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | ARe

Book Details:

ebook, 200 pages

Published: May 13, 2016 by Dreamspinner Press

ISBN: 9781634772136

Edition Language: English

An Ali Review: Bored, Stroked and Blueprinted by K.C. Kendricks

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Rating:  3 stars out of 5

Bored Stoked and BlueprintedAs a boy, Mick Ambrose fell in love with cars. Now he owns and operates an auto restoration shop specializing in all things American Muscle. When the black 1969 Camaro Z/28 he years ago dubbed Onyx pulls into his garage, Mick forgets his first love in favor of her driver, Logan Gregg. Mick’s interested and cruises Logan at a speed worthy of the car he drives.

Logan Gregg’s plan to avoid entanglements in his life drives away when he stops at American Muscle to ask a few questions about restoring the Z/28 he inherited from his uncle. The owner of the shop is smooth as a well-tuned V-8 engine and twice as hot. Logan is quick to shift gears and take a closer look at Mick Ambrose and the road ahead.

But when Mick wants to get too close, too fast, Logan backs off. His past holds painful memories he can’t escape and the tattoos on his arms aren’t just for decoration. Working on the Z/28 brings the men closer, but Mick makes a mistake when he confesses his knowledge of the past Logan wants to keep buried. Mick knows a man has to settle his past to step into his future, but can he convince Logan?

KC Kendricks did a good job with this story, it’s a nice and sweet shorter story.  Mick is sure from his first meeting with Logan that he wants more with him and not just something casual.  Logan has trouble trusting others and has a bit of a push and pull relationship with Mick at the beginning.  The more time they spend together working on the car the closer they become.

Mick has been tired of hook ups for a long time, but never met anyone who he was interested in more with and Logan drives up in his dream car.  He can tell that Logan has some demons from his past to deal with but wants to help him move forward.  They both have to grow up a bit and accept that everything can’t be perfect all the time no matter how much you want it to be.

I quickly understood Mick’s feelings in the story, but it took a little longer to know Logan’s.  Neither want to do anything to hurt the other, but aren’t able to prevent it as much as they would like.  It takes time and patience for them to move forward.  I just wish we would have been able to know what Logan was thinking in some parts of the story.

Cover art by April Martinez is very nice and made me interested in the book.

Sales Links: Loose Id | Amazon | ARe

Book Details:

ebook, 97 pages
Published: 2nd Edition April 26, 2016 by Loose Id
ISBN: 9781682521274
Edition Language: English