A Stella Review: Christmas Riches by H.L. Day

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RATING 4 out of 5 stars

Opposites might attract. But does that include age?

Christmas comes early for Aiden Malone in the form of a seductive blue-eyed stranger down on his knees. But a shock revelation about his new ‘friend’ has him running for the hills and cursing his stupidity before the night is out.

Tom’s not prepared to give up that easily. He may be rich, where Aiden’s poor. Innocent in a way that Aiden isn’t. And on the wrong side of twenty. But he’s old enough to know what he wants. And that’s Aiden. He just needs to persuade the older man to look past his hang-ups about age and wealth.

Lust and prejudice pull Aiden in opposite directions, severely testing his willpower. As Tom’s layers begin to peel away, Aiden discovers the younger man’s life of privilege may not be all it seems. If Aiden gives in, they could have the sweetest Christmas that either of them has ever tasted.

But Tom’s about to shatter their joy with a surprise announcement. Decisions need to be made on both sides. It’s down to Aiden, though, to stay strong and decide whose happiness is more important. His? Or Tom’s? Because they can’t have it both ways.

It’s possible their relationship won’t even last as long as it takes for the snow to melt.

I honestly wasn’t liking this new release at first, I wasn’t quite sure why at the time, I just wasn’t enjoying the story. Maybe I didn’t like the first encounter between the characters, maybe I didn’t like them at all. Still I went on with the reading and I have to say my stubbornness was well rewarded, as Tom was in trying to convince Aiden they were made for each other. Later I learnt to like both of them, I saw how lonely Tom’s life was, how unbelievable his parents were. He was only eighteen and he had gone through so much. I felt his desire to be part of something, to be loved and to love. There were so many differences between the two men, so many years, so many money. And then things changed, I realized how mature Tom actually was, I fell for him deeply when I saw him make hard choices, cause he was so sure of his love and his future with Aiden.

I ended up loving Christmas Riches a lot, the ending part was beautiful, the author couldn’t have written a better epilogue, it was perfect, so sweet. I liked the writing style too, the book was easy to read and the characters well done, I think I will look for more stories from H.L. Day, I’m curious to know what else the author delivered.

The cover art by is cute, I like the colors.

SALE LINKS  Amazon

BOOK DETAILS

ebook, 157 pages

Published November 15th 2019

Edition Language English

A Lucy Review : Temporary Insanity (Temporary #2) by H.L. Day

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Sleeping with the enemy never felt so good.
When Paul Davenport comes face to face with the man he caught in bed with his boyfriend years before, it’s hate at first sight. Well, second sight. Indy should be apologizing, not flirting. Except the gorgeous barman is completely oblivious to their paths ever having crossed before. 

Despite his feelings, Paul’s powerless to resist the full-on charm offensive that follows. It’s fine though. It’s just sex. No emotions. No getting to know each other. Just a bout of temporary insanity that’s sure to run its course once the simmering passion starts to wear off.

Only what if it’s not? Indy’s nothing like the man Paul expected him to be from his past actions. What if they’re perfect for each other and Paul’s just too stubborn to see it? Forging a relationship with him would require an emotional U-turn Paul might not be capable of making.

There’s a thin line between love and hate, and Paul’s about to discover just how thin it really is. He can’t possibly be falling for the man that ruined his life. Can he?

What could be more awkward than accidentally running into the guy who cheated with your boyfriend and ruined your relationship?  How about if said guy has no idea who you are?  I was cringing for Paul when he walked up to the bar and realized why the guy looked familiar.  Except, of course, the last time he saw the man he was riding Paul’s ex-boyfriend.  Awkward.

Paul waits for “…guilt, followed by a string of abject apologies.”   Except Indy likes the look of Paul and flirts but doesn’t remember him, other than a “You know, it’s weird, sometimes I think you look slightly familiar. Have we met before?”  I could sympathize with Paul – it was a life-changing event and Indy doesn’t even remember.  “Just over three years ago, I came home to find you in bed with my boyfriend.  His name is Stephen, in case it happens to you a lot and you can’t remember which one it was.  So that’s probably why I seem so familiar.”   While Indy gives a “For what it’s worth, I’m sorry”, I was super irritated that he was pretty blasé about it.  “…three years is a long time. Can’t we put it behind us and move on?”

I very nearly gave this book three stars because I couldn’t figure out why Indy kept pursuing Paul in the wake of their past and Paul’s rudeness to him.  Glutton for punishment?  “Because you don’t like me and you can’t forgive me for making a stupid mistake years ago.”   I had to step back, though, and consider that Indy was not the guilty party in that affair.  The ex was. 

With the advice of Paul’s new friend, Gabrielle, he goes on a hunt for hate sex with Indy.  Which, I should say, he’s really bad at.  Especially since there are times when he does wonder if Indy and Stephen did the things he and Indy were doing.  “So how did I compare to my ex?”   Indy isn’t having it though, “Can’t we forget about it: Or at least find some way to move past it? We’re good together.”

We get a lot of denial on Paul’s part.  It is sex only, no feelings, he doesn’t like Indy, his tattoos, his attitude, nothing.  Umm, hmmm.   “I didn’t want to see him that way though. That was the path to madness, to feelings I couldn’t entertain.” 

There is a secondary plot woven here regarding Paul’s friend, Dom, and the boss of the company, Tristan.  They have a book, completely focusing on them, Temporary Situation which I haven’t read.  I don’t think you need to in order to enjoy this book, as it appears both stories are happening at the same time.  I will now go back and read Temporary Situation.

It was entertaining to me how he was giving advice to Dom and considering him stubborn for his treatment of Tristan and he was so blind to his own situation. Indy gives so many opportunities for Paul to admit they have more than sex but he is twice as stubborn as Dom. Even when Indy gives up, he gives Paul a chance to make it right.  Paul, of course, flubs it entirely and makes everything so much worse.

The side characters, Gabrielle, Paul’s virgin friend Russell, Dom, Tristan and Paul’s family play important roles here and are fully fleshed out characters.  Paul’s issues with his family seem real and so frustrating. Being forced to attend lavish parties, attending holidays where he really isn’t wanted and doesn’t want to be there, having the whole family not listen or understand what he wants.  It added to the story and to understanding Paul.  Getting to know more about Indy’s past  added depth to his character.  And the elephants?  Just made everything better.

The book sets up the next one in the series, obviously going to focus on Russell, shy, virginal Russell.  “You’re never going to believe what he’s been up to and who with.”  Teaser successful, because I want to know what he’s been up to and who with!  I thoroughly enjoyed the humor in this book and the writing really worked for me.

The cover, showing Indy with his tattoos set against the city backdrop, is pretty close to showing how I visualized him. 

Sales Link:  Amazon

Book Details:

book
Expected publication: August 29th 2019
Edition Language English
Series Temporary #2

A MelanieM Review: A Step too Far (Too Far #2) by H.L. Day

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Two men. Three identities. An unstoppable attraction.

Desperate for his luck to change, Jake Spencer manages to land a dance contract with Dmitry Gruzdev. The job has plenty of perks, including a simmering lust between him and Dmitry’s hulking brute of a bodyguard, Mikhail. Life is finally looking up. Except as the shine wears off, it becomes clear that Jake’s stepped into a world of darkness and depravity where Bratva answers to no one and allies are not what they seem.

Mikhail’s hiding a secret: there is no Mikhail. He’s simply a front for undercover operative, Ryan Harris. A means to gain access to Dmitry. Ryan’s not stupid. There’s no way he’s going to get distracted by a pretty face, no matter how attractive Jake might be. That would be far too dangerous for all concerned. Only it’s not that simple and before Ryan knows it, the line between personal and professional begins to blur spectacularly.

Lust develops into more. Secrets start to unravel. Ryan’s got an impossible choice to make: keep Jake safe or maintain his cover. But how much does Dmitry know? The hunted may be about to become the hunter, blowing both men’s worlds to pieces and leaving them with nothing.

Can a relationship built on lies ever lead to love?

Warning: This book contains a seductive dancer prone to getting into trouble, a gruff man who’s anything but, and a villain who just won’t go away.

A Step too Far (Too Far #2) by H.L. Day picks up after the events of A Dance Too Far where Dmitry’s loses his star dancer (and much more), Valentin.  Valentin’s escape has left a hole in Dmitry’s organization as a cover, the lack of a dancer a continuing blow to the mobster’s pride and other self interests and something needs to be done about it.  Immediately.

Questions that Valentin asked himself in the last story were what had happened to Mikhail, the stoic Russian bodyguard who had finally risked everything to help Valentin.  And why?  A Step too Far gives us those answers and so much more. Including the startling information that Mikhail is actually undercover agent Ryan Harris trying to gather intel and take down a Russian gang. The toll of being Mikhail is becoming too much, he’s seen and been a part of to too much. And now Dimitry has tasked him with finding Valentin’s replacement.

Day actually splits this character into Mikail/Ryan, that’s how it reads for most of the story because he’s two completely different personalities.  One cold, ruthless, and trying to being sexless.  The other warm,torn, intelligent, with a conscious that’s telling him he can’t keep doing this no matter the end result.   We see them both.  First it’s mostly Mikhail staying in character, then a mixture, and then finally mostly Ryan as that personality becomes dominant, dangerous while undercover.

The reason why?  A young dancer name Jake who to his peril falls naively into the space vacated by Valentin because he wants to dance and needs an apartment to live, while having little outside ties.  The perfect victim.  Unlike Valentin who had been with Dimitry for a decade when we met him (and endured the abuse and control), Jake is fresh, happy, bouncy even, full of optimism and, trust me, the reader just starts to cringe from the moment Dimitry ushers him into his office and shuts the door.

Because this is a darker story than the first.  Valentin had figured things out in a decades time, had methods to deal with Dimitry’s twisted love and abuse.  But here Dimitry feels no love for Jake, he’s just a commodity.  And what happens between Jake and Mikhail/Ryan is one that develops more than once because its with different men, a neat trick, narratively speaking.

Mixed in with all this is a deep espionage storyline, a high suspense thread that will have you on your seat,  and a long, drawn out climax and resolution  that includes timely and perfect appearances by Max and Valentin to give Ryan and Jake the ending their deserve.

The one thing that did bother me, the lack of therapy for Jake, was finally given a brief mention, a rationale as to why it didn’t work, and what was helping.  I’m not sure I ever bought it , and yes, that was one of my issues in the first story as well.  But at least it was mentioned here.  That was a step up.

I tried to think about how I compared the two stories and decided I couldn’t.  That was like comparing the two men as dancers.  Totally different in so many ways.  I liked some things about this story better but really not the characters.  The characters in both stories are amazing.  And this one leaves me wondering if there is anywhere to go from here.  Just not sure.

But if you love your contemporary romance with raw sex, open emotion, some darkness and wild suspense.  This story and the one prior to it, which you much read before this one, are just the thing!  Pick up Valentin’s story and then head straight for Jake’s. Be prepared to  be totally connected and unable to put them down.  I highly recommend them both.

Cover art: H.L. Day.  That’s post Dimitry Jake alright.  I like the cover but truthfully nothing can match that impact of the first one.

Sales Links: Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 275 pages
Published June 3rd 2019 by Amazon Digital Services
ASIN B07SNCMDNW
Edition Language English

A MelanieM Review: A Dance Too Far (Too Far #1) by H.L. Day

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Love can be dangerous!

Valentin Bychkov, rising star of contemporary Russian ballet, appears to have everything: wealth, talent, success, and a face and body to match. Not that anyone can get close. Bypass the entourage and there’s still Valentin’s sharp tongue and acerbic wit to deal with. He may give his body freely, but his emotions are kept tightly locked away.

Max Farley’s life is a simple one. All he’s interested in is work, drinking, and picking up the latest in a long line of one-night stands. The way he chooses to live may not be to everyone’s taste but it suits him down to the ground. He’s never met anyone who’s made him want to confront the demons from his past. Until now.

A show in London brings the two together. Lust brings them closer still. But if rumors of Bratva connections turn out to be true, then dangerous men wait in the wings. One dangerous man in particular, who’s used to people following his orders without question.

Difficult choices need to be made on both sides. Valentin and Max need to stop playing with fire and let each other go, or face the consequences. But letting go isn’t that easy where love is concerned.

And some things are worth the risk.

Warning: This book contains a snarky ballet dancer with an aversion to clothes, a little too much wall sex and an overabundance of Russian heavies.

Well, this is a first, but I’m starting my review with that cover.  It’s extraordinary!  From that gorgeous, arrogant, and yes, mysterious visage, you are  pulled towards him and his story.  That lace covered forehead and matching collar!  Those lips, that metallic blue eyeshadow and that side glance!  Tell me you aren’t hooked?  Well, author H.L. Day was.  From the moment they saw that photograph, a  character was born and then a story created, and then a series.

That unforgettable picture launched Valentin Bychkov  and the name suites perfectly.

The story?  Let’s get to that.

I just loved both characters. Author Day has two complex men who could  each fill a novel with their back histories alone.  Valentin’s, when it is revealed, is steeped in his parents romance and then mysterious death that left him an orphan of easy prey, especially since he was a boy a great talents and ambitions.  Valentin remains someone who keeps evolving, as layer after layer is lifted, showing new aspects to his personality and story.

Max Farley’s life has also been one of pain and disillusionment, betrayal actually.  Something that will emerge later in the story.  I thought this element was dealt with far too quickly and easily for the topic which accounts for the 4 instead of 5 star rating.  I realize that there were other issues at hand here for the characters to deal with but to throw this in here at this stage of the story and in this manner and not bring it up again just struck me as a less than responsible treatment.  Especially given that underage boys, sexual slavery, and pederophilia is a business for the Russian mafia and has had its effect on Valentin.

The story was well written, full of suspense, lots of action, hot sex, and finally love and romance.  If it feels like the love flows between Valentin and Max too quickly I think it’s because we forget how the time flew over the course of the story.  Still the chemistry rocked between the pair.

Did I buy that Valentin was a diva ballet dancer?  Absolutely!  The ballet seemed to pour out of this character, it was a part of him, and it grounded him even further in my mind.   Did I get that Max was a sound engineer?  Not so much.  We only saw him briefly in that role. Once in the sound booth and then it was only one more time after that.  He’s supposed to be so great at what he does that he can swagger into his booth late, smelling of sex and in dirty clothes and not get fired.  He’s as much a diva in his profession as Valentin is in his.   That’s the way the music world works yet I never got that from him.  Nor from the lack of repercussions from the events that happen later on.  So that never rang true.  While we had a entire foundation of work and passion from Valentin, we were missing that from Max and it made him a little less substantial.

Of course, I’m thinking of this after all the fast moving events are over, the drama is done, and the boys are now safely together.  For a while there, the author had us questioning everything!

Which made this a wonderfully exciting, sexy, and romantic read.

Valentin poses some questions for himself and us at the end of the story.  The next book will answer them.  I’m already on it.  And loving it.

But for now I’m recommending you stare at that cover…a long, long, time.  Then go pick up the story and get acquainted with Valentin and Max.  What a ride awaits you!

Cover art: H.L. Day.  One of my favorite covers this year.  See my opening statements above.

Sales Links:  Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 245 pages
Published February 15th 2019
ASINB07NTTRXR2
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesToo Far #1

An Alisa Review: Kept in the Dark by H.L Day

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Rating:  4 stars out of 5

Struggling actor Dean, only escorts occasionally to pay the bills. So, his first instinct on being offered a job with a strange set of conditions is to turn it down. No date. Don’t switch the lights on. Don’t touch him. I mean, what’s that all about? What’s the man trying to hide? Dean certainly doesn’t expect sex with a faceless stranger to spark so much passion inside him. It’s just business though, right? He can put a stop to it whenever he wants.

When Dean meets Justin—a scarred, ex-army soldier unlucky in love. Dean’s given a chance at a proper relationship. He can see past the scars to the man underneath. He’s everything Dean could possibly wish for in a boyfriend: kind, caring and sweet. All Dean needs to do is be honest. Easy, right? But, Justin’s holding back and Dean can’t work out why. But whatever it is, it’s enough to give him second thoughts.

They both have secrets which could shatter their fledgling relationship. After all, secrets have a nasty habit of coming out eventually. The question is when they do, will they be able to piece their relationship back together? Or will they be left with nothing but memories of bad decisions and the promise of the love they could have had, if only they’d both been honest and fought harder.

I put off reading this book and I’m not sure why because I really enjoyed it.  Dean is struggling to get by and when the opportunity to make the extra cash he needs he cautiously takes it but it turns out to be more than he bargained for.  Justin has been hurt by a lot of people since he got out of the army but Dean is one of the first to not treat him differently.

Dean and Justin get along well from the first time they meet but Dean can feel that Justin his holding something back and knowing he is hiding something too doesn’t help.  Both men try to give the other a chance to come clean but neither of them know how and when it happens it blow up in both of their faces.

This story was told from Dean’s point of view so we didn’t see Justin’s thoughts but with his reactions to many of the things Dean said or did I was able to see what he was thinking and figure out what was going on prior to the big reveal.  I could see how torn Dean was about his regular Tuesday client and his feelings for Justin, both make him feel alive in different ways but he just needs something to give but when it does he isn’t ready for it.  I felt bad for Justin with how hard Dean pushed him away and knew he was hurting both of them with his actions.  I was glad when Dean finally gave in for them to talk and loved when they cleared the air to be able to move forward and truly Justin has to be one of the most patient men out there.

I like the cover art by HL Day love the picture it gives of Dean.

Sales Link: Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 254 pages

Published: February 11, 2018 by HL Day

Edition Language: English