A MelanieM Release Day Review: Better Not Pout by Annabeth Albert

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

 

One hard-nosed military police officer.

One overly enthusiastic elf.

One poorly timed snowstorm.

Is it a recipe for disaster? Or a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for holiday romance?

Teddy MacNally loves Christmas and everything that goes along with it. When he plays an elf for his charity’s events, he never expects to be paired with a Scrooge masquerading as Santa Claus. His new mission: make the holiday-hating soldier believe he was born to say ho-ho-ho.

Sergeant Major Nicholas Nowicki doesn’t do Santa, but he’s army to his blood. When his CO asks an unusual favor, Nick of course obliges. The elf to his Kris Kringle? Tempting. Too tempting—Nick’s only in town for another month, and Teddy’s too young, too cheerful and too nice for a one-night stand.

The slow, sexy make-out sessions while Teddy and Nick are alone and snowbound, though, feel like anything but a quick hookup. As a stress-free holiday fling turns into Christmas all year round, Teddy can’t imagine his life without Nick. And Nick’s days on the base may be coming to a close, but he doesn’t plan on leaving anything, or anyone, behind.

Ahhhhh….the holiday spirit is in the air! I’m getting the hankering to set a fire, toast some chestnuts, grab a hot toddy, and look out the window for the first sprinkling of snowflakes! Never mind that our leaves just started turning colors and the tricker or treaters barely had the door slammed on them. Nope, feeling all  holiday and Christmassy here.  Why?  Because Annabeth Albert’s story, Better Not Pout, has left me feeling that way!  That’s why!

Next I’ll be hearing jingle bells up on the roof.  Laughing.

With this marvelous, heartwarming story, characters guaranteed to make you laugh, make you love and yearn for family, and everything that the holidays can bring up in your heart and memories, the author has jump started my Christmas and holiday season.

Sergeant Major Nicholas Nowicki?  A hard case that comes under the spell of Teddy the man with a  huge heart in elf h gear and a town that seems full of people all named MacNally.    I was under this town’s and Teddy’s spell myself, that’s how real Albert makes them all.

It’s a slow burn relationship for Nic but he’s the only one.  For Teddy and the reader the slide into love is quick and permanent.  I could have stayed with this couple and town for the longest of times.  Definitely past New Year’s.

It’s the writing that’s so well done.  We feel like we know all these people.  The ones in trouble and needing Teddy’s assistance, all the many family members, all the situations that Teddy and Nic find themselves in, the snow, the tentative path towards a relationship, and finally, the love.

Yes, this is an excellent story for the holidays.  Or anytime of the year.

Grab it up, a warm blanket or two, get all snuggly and prepared to be transported into the snow, and the town where Christmas and love is alive and well and waiting for two men so very much in need of it.

And yes, I highly recommend this story.

Cover art is not credited but it’s adorable and a great representation of the characters. Love it.

Sales Links:   Carina PressBarnes & Noble (mmp)  | Barnes & Noble (ebook)   |   Amazon 

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 1st edition, 288 pages
Expected publication: November 12th 2018 by Carina Press
Original TitleBetter Not Pout
ASINB07DCT4BQB
Edition LanguageEnglish

Ready for Some Holiday Romance? Check out Better Not Pout by Annabeth Albert (excerpt and giveaway)

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Better Not Pout by Annabeth Albert

Publisher: Carina Press (Harlequin)

Release Date (Print & Ebook): Ebook: Monday November 12, 2018

Print (mmp): Tuesday November 27, 2018

Length (Print & Ebook):  Ebook: 288, Print (mmp): 288

Subgenre: Contemporary Romance, Male/Male Romance, Holiday Romance, Military Romance

Order at:

Carina PressBarnes & Noble (mmp)  | Barnes & Noble (ebook)   |   Amazon 

 

 

Book Synopsis:

One hard-nosed military police officer.

One overly enthusiastic elf.

One poorly timed snowstorm.

Is it a recipe for disaster? Or a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for holiday romance?

Teddy MacNally loves Christmas and everything that goes along with it. When he plays an elf for his charity’s events, he never expects to be paired with a Scrooge masquerading as Santa Claus. His new mission: make the holiday-hating soldier believe he was born to say ho-ho-ho.

Sergeant Major Nicholas Nowicki doesn’t do Santa, but he’s army to his blood. When his CO asks an unusual favor, Nick of course obliges. The elf to his Kris Kringle? Tempting. Too tempting—Nick’s only in town for another month, and Teddy’s too young, too cheerful and too nice for a one-night stand.

The slow, sexy make-out sessions while Teddy and Nick are alone and snowbound, though, feel like anything but a quick hookup. As a stress-free holiday fling turns into Christmas all year round, Teddy can’t imagine his life without Nick. And Nick’s days on the base may be coming to a close, but he doesn’t plan on leaving anything, or anyone, behind.

***

Annabeth Albert says that, “BETTER NOT POUT is a male/male holiday romance featuring endearing characters with a fun, flirty plot that will remind readers of their favorite holiday rom-coms.”

 Excerpt :

It was entirely possible that standing in Teddy’s office in his drawers was less humiliating than trying to squash himself onto the couch. He narrowly avoided rolling to the floor, but ended up in a sneezing fit because up close and personal, the couch smelled like a combo of woodsmoke and fabric cleaner of some kind. And his neck and thighs were both cramping, but he tried to not groan aloud.

“Yeah. You look totally comfy.” Teddy shook his head at Nick as he finished putting the game away and banking the fire. “Come on. Bed. I’ll even turn on the electric bed warmer for you.”

“We can share,” Nick said decisively. He’d slept next to men on planes and in various mission situations. Surely he could survive the temptation that was Teddy in a warm bed.

“Excellent.” Teddy’s eyes went dark and hot.

“To sleep,” Nick clarified.

“Darn. Can’t blame a guy for hoping?” Teddy gave him a smile over his shoulder as he led the way up to a cozy sleeping loft. A large, high sleigh bed that still looked too small for both of them dominated the room, piled high with colorful quilts. Teddy clambered onto the bed, crawling across it, muttering something about finding a controller but Nick was too transfixed on his bouncing ass to pay much attention to his words. It was surprisingly round and high and rather bitable and…

“See something you want?” Teddy glanced over his shoulder.

Busted. And he must have not been able to wipe the want off his expression fast enough because Teddy crawled back across the bed to kneel in front of where Nick stood, looking like some angelic offering. An offering Nick wasn’t sure he could turn down a second time.

“How about…” Teddy pitched his voice low and seductive, almost a whisper. “I get it, I’m not your type, but maybe I could turn off the lights and you could… I dunno…pretend? Just for tonight?”

“Never said you weren’t my type,” Nick said, voice like sandpaper. True, he’d been thinking just that an hour earlier, but Teddy not being his usual didn’t mean that Nick didn’t see his appeal or that the chemistry wasn’t there. And fuck, it would be so much easier if the chemistry between them didn’t crackle like the downstairs fire. His hand was apparently done taking orders from his brain that evening and reached out to stroke Teddy’s smooth jaw. “Just that it was a bad idea.”

“It’s an excellent idea.” Teddy stretched like a cat under Nick’s touch, eyes drifting shut, like he was every bit as hungry for Nick’s touch as he was to give it. And Nick gave up the fight with a groan. This was a terrible idea for all sorts of good, logical reasons, and things were likely to get awkward, but hell if he could bring himself to stop touching Teddy. He buried his hand in those golden curls, which were far softer than they looked.

And Teddy knew he’d won, closed the remaining distance between them and looped his arms around Nick’s neck. “Now do I get to tell you what I want?”

This time Nick laughed, long and low. “Yeah. You do.”

“Goody.” Teddy beamed at him. “But it’s probably gonna be easier to show you…”

With that, Teddy leaned in, slow enough that Nick could have stopped him if he’d been so inclined. Which he wasn’t. No, he’d made up his mind to have this thing. He’d deal with the consequences—and there would be consequences—like an adult, but for tonight, he was going to let himself have Teddy.

About Annabeth Albert:

Annabeth Albert grew up sneaking romance novels under the bed covers. Now, she devours all subgenres of romance out in the open—no flashlights required! When she’s not adding to her keeper shelf, she’s a multi-published Pacific Northwest romance writer. Emotionally complex, sexy, and funny stories are her favorites both to read and to write. Her critically acclaimed and fan-favorite LGBTQ romance series include the #OutOfUniform, #Gaymers, #PortlandHeat, #RainbowCove and #PerfectHarmony series.

To find out what she’s working on next and other fun extras, check out her website: annabethalbert.com or connect with Annabeth on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Spotify! Also, be sure to sign up for her newsletter for free ficlets, bonus reads, and contests. The fan group, Annabeth’s Angels, on Facebook is also a great place for bonus content and exclusive contests.

Connect with Annabeth Albert:

 

 

 

Giveaway: Win 1 of 2 e-copies of any OUT OF UNIFORM series book or a finished Paperback copy of BETTER NOT POUT!

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BLOG TOUR Craft Brew (Trouble Brewing #2) by Layla Reyne (with teaser and giveaway)

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Craft Brew (Trouble Brewing #2) by  Layla Reyne

Release Date: E-Book and Audio – October 8;   Paperback – October 30

Publisher: Carina Press

Buy Links: 

Carina: http://bit.ly/2luKFZr

AMZ: https://amzn.to/2NVKiUB

UBL: https://books2read.com/craftbrew/

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Layla Reyne here today on tour for the latest story in the Trouble Brewing series, Craft Brew!

About Craft Brew

Assistant US attorney Dominic Price is staring down the barrel of his father’s debts. The bull’s-eye on his back makes him a threat to everyone he cares about, so when his lover wants to go public with their relationship, he bolts. Not because he isn’t in love—he can’t stomach the thought of putting Cam in danger.

Kidnap and rescue expert Cameron Byrne is determined to figure out what trouble Nic is running from, but devastating news from home brings him back to Boston and to the cold case that has haunted his family for two decades. Shoving aside his pride, he calls Nic for help.

Together they search for answers, navigating the minefield of Cam’s past. But when they get too close to the truth, Cam must use every skill in his arsenal to save the man he loves…before it’s too late.

One-click with confidence. This title is part of the Carina Press Romance Promise: all the romance you’re looking for with an HEA/HFN. It’s a promise!

Excerpt/Teaser

“Move in with me.”

Four words that should have resulted in amazing sex round two.

Not that Cam had ever uttered those words before, but from what he understood, they usually brought a couple closer, including a celebratory tumble in the sheets. Perfect as he and Nic were already there, naked and sweaty from amazing sex round one.

Nic’s understanding, however, was apparently not the same as Cam’s. He stiffened in his arms one second and scrambled out of bed the next. Levering up, Cam braced a hand on the mattress and watched the giant cypress inked on Nic’s back sway with his mad dash to the bathroom.

“Never known you to run from an argument, Counselor!” Technically, they’d not been arguing, but Cam knew the start of one with Nic as well as he knew the other man’s taste. Arguing was what they did best, even better than sex.

“That’s not what I’m doing,” Nic hollered over the running water.

Cam flopped back onto the bed, staring at the ceiling. “Sure as fuck could have fooled me.”

Trouble Brewing Series

Imperial Stout

Craft Brew

Noble Hops  coming soon

 

 

About Layla Reyne:

Author Layla Reyne was raised in North Carolina and now calls San Francisco home. She enjoys weaving her bi-coastal experiences into her stories, along with adrenaline-fueled suspense and heart pounding romance. When she’s not writing stories to excite her readers, she downloads too many books, watches too much television, and cooks too much food with her scientist husband, much to the delight of their smushed-face, leftover-loving dogs. Layla is a member of Romance Writers of America and its Kiss of Death and Rainbow Romance Writers chapters. She was a 2016 RWA® Golden Heart® Finalist in Romantic Suspense.

Author Links:

FB Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/216903272072959/

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/layla-reyne

Amazon: https://amazon.com/author/laylareyne

Newsletter: https://www.laylareyne.com/signup

Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/laylareyne/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/laylareyne/

FB: https://www.facebook.com/laylareyne/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/laylareyne/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/laylareyne

Giveaway

Giveaway: Win 1 of 2 e-copies
of any back catalog book by Layla Reyne!

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New Release Blog Tour for Counterpoint (Twisted Wishes #2) by Anna Zabo

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Counterpoint (Twisted Wishes #2) by Anna Zabo

Carina Press
Published September 24, 2018

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Anna Zabo’s tour for Counterpoint, the second story in the Twisted Wishes series.  Check it out below…

 

 

 

Book Synopsis: Twisted Wishes lead guitarist Dominic “Domino” Bradley is an animal onstage. But behind his tight leather pants and skull-crusher boots lies a different man entirely, one who needs his stage persona not only to perform, but to have the anonymity he craves. A self-imposed exile makes it impossible to get close to anyone outside the band, so he’s forced to get his sexual fix through a few hot nights with a stranger.

When computer programmer Adrian Doran meets Dominic, he’s drawn to the other man’s quiet voice and shy smile. But after a few dirty, demanding nights exploring Dominic’s need to be dominated, Adrian wants more than a casual distraction. He has no idea he’s fallen for Domino Grinder—the outlandish, larger-than-life rock god.

Dominic is reluctant to trust Adrian with his true identity. But when the truth is revealed prematurely, Dominic is forced to reevaluate both his need for Adrian and everything he believes about himself.

Pre-order/Buy Links: Carina / Amazon / B&N / iBooks / Google Play / Kobo / universal link

 

Quirks and Warnings: Contains D/s and bondage. Also discusses anxiety and depicts a panic attack.

Tropes and Themes: Secret identity. Geeks in love. hurt/comfort. Finding yourself behind the mask you wear for others.

Excerpt #1:

When Dominic had suggested going to the Met this weekend, Adrian’d been a little disappointed, since he wanted more than just looking at art. He’d wanted a glimpse behind some of those walls Dominic threw up.

Then Dominic had said the magic words: “There’s a tour today where they’re bringing out some of the stringed instruments for a demo, including a seventeenth century guitar.” His eyes had shone with excitement and delight. “I’ve heard recordings—there’s even stuff on the website—but to experience that in person?”

Adrian recognized the shiver of delight, and that had cinched it. He could touch Dominic like that—he wanted to know what else did. And this was music-related, something Dominic tended to push away.

As it happened, the galleries that housed the Met’s musical instrument collection had apparently been undergoing some major renovations over the last couple of years and they were finally in the process of being reopened. As part of that, there’d been some special tours, including performances with instruments from their extensive collection.

Normally, this was the type of thing Adrian would have passed up—tours were tourist traps or designed for school groups—but the way Dominic’s face lit up each time he thought of hearing some instrument from a couple hundred years ago played live…

Yes, he’d seen Dominic in the throes of passion, but that didn’t nearly measure up to the intense need in every fiber of Dominic’s frame. The man was a musician, indeed. He might not talk about his career or his band for whatever reason, but this—this Dominic was willing to share, so Adrian followed, and gladly.

He also adored the feel of Dominic’s hand in his and how utterly unashamed Dominic was to hold his. For someone who could be so shy at times, Dominic was utterly free about expressing his sexuality. Though sometimes, when he looked at Adrian, there was still that haunting sadness or worry. Less and less, though.

They were dating.

And Adrian was grateful for that. He’d rather have Dominic’s smiles and sexy little glances, and not have to worry about whether this was a very long casual thing. Plus, he wanted more, too. More throaty cries, more cuffs and rope, more lazy talks after sex, more of Dominic paging through books and snuggling next to him to read poetry.

As they walked through the Met’s Great Hall, Adrian had that quickening of breath he got whenever he visited a museum. This one topped his list. The Met had art and history—and he was here holding the hand of Dominic Bradley, with his flushed cheeks and a smile Adrian wanted to kiss forever.

This moment, right here, was giddy and full. The seed of deep love. Tantalizing. But calm and sweet. It took everything Adrian had not to get his hopes up yet.

They’d seen each other every weekend since that first one, and a few weeknights, too. More and more, Adrian learned about Dominic, and his childhood in New Jersey. He’d gotten a degree in history with a minor in music from Montclair State University, which explained his familiarity with New York City.

In return, Adrian shared pieces of his own life, beyond the tangled mess of his return to New York. Pieces of his childhood in Brooklyn. His parents’ reaction to his interest in more than just women. His running with his neighborhood crew until college in Buffalo. How hard it’d been to move to a place where he’d needed to learn to drive and own a car. And hadn’t that blown Dominic’s mind, that Adrian hadn’t bothered to get his license until well after he turned eighteen.

Being at the university had also been less diverse in many ways.

 

About the Author

 

Anna Zabo (they/them) writes contemporary and paranormal romance for all colors of the rainbow. They live and work in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, which isn’t nearly as boring as most people think.

Anna is non-binary and uses they/them pronouns and prefers Mx. Zabo as an honorific.

Anna grew up in the wilds of suburban Philadelphia before returning to their ancestral homelands in Western Pennsylvania. As a child they were heartily disappointed to discover that they couldn’t grow up to be what they wanted (a boy, a cat, a dragon), so they settled on being themself whenever possible, which may be a combination of a boy, a cat, and a dragon. Or perhaps a girl, a knight, and a writer. Depends on whom you ask. They do have a penchant for colorful ties and may be hording a small collection of cufflinks. They can be easily plied with coffee.

Anna has an MFA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University, where they fell in with a roving band of romance writers and never looked back. They also have a BA in Creative Writing from Carnegie Mellon University. (less)

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Counterpoint (Twisted Wishes #2) by Anna Zabo

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

I honestly didn’t think it would be possible for a sequel to be better than the first story in this series, Syncopation, but I was wrong—very, very wrong. This book exceeded all my expectations and effortlessly moved to my top five of 2018.

Adrian Doran heads out to dinner one night in his Brooklyn neighborhood and happens to be seated next to a stunning, nerdy looking guy who returns his casual perusal with one of his own. Adrian is a computer programmer for a NYC bank by day and a Dom by preference in the rest of his life. When the guy accepts Adrian’s offer of a bite of his lemon meringue pie and then proceeds to moan and make subtle orgasmic facial expressions, Adrian knows what, and who, his next goal is going to be.

Dominic Bradley is a quiet, unassuming bookworm, who enjoys reading most genres of literature, visiting museums, playing his guitar, and being an all-around geek. With Adrian he discovers his submissive side, but he suffers from social anxiety, especially when he needs to take the stage with his bandmates in Twisted Wishes, a well-known rock band. To do so, he dons a new personality, Domino Grinder, a rock god who wears leather, has an upper body covered in tattoos, wears makeup, and throws the finger at the world. The lead guitarist takes bull from no man. But Dominic and Domino can’t coexist and as Dominic succumbs to the allure of a new relationship with Adrian, he’s going to have to hide Domino or risk losing the man.

As their relationship grows and Dominic discovers rope play really cements his submissive role with Adrian, he despairs of ever being able to let Adrian in on who he really is. He desperately wants to introduce him to his bandmates, and he wants to find a way to merge his two sides but backs away from any confrontation until it’s almost too late. When Adrian spots Dominic’s tattoos on the arm of the lead guitarist for Twisted Wishes on a magazine cover, he loses hope for a future with the man he loves. Can these two continue their D/s relationship and continue to grow their love if one can’t trust the other completely?

I love this author’s writing style and creativity. Caught up and totally immersed in the relationship between Adrian and Dom, I rooted for both men equally and was captivated by each page-turn as their lives took new twists and turns. Adrian was being undermined at work in a job that provided no satisfaction. Dominic was playing as Domino all day while the band practiced or did promo events, yet he couldn’t let in the one man who’d make his life even better so switched to Dominic the moment Domino was no longer needed. The dynamic of the two men in both their private D/s lives and their “out in the world” lives was comfortable, strong, balanced, in sync, and loving. But their secrets nearly broke them apart.

I accidentally discovered this author last year, but I am 100% on board as a fan. I have yet to read something that isn’t top quality and I highly recommend this story. In fact, I highly recommend this series to fans who enjoy books featuring musicians, domination/submission, great plots, interesting deep characterizations, and MM romance. 

The gorgeous, attractive cover features a handsome, bearded, dark-haired guitarist—complete with the tattoo described in the story, set against a bright turquoise background, the bottom border of which shows fans at a rock concert. It’s perfect for this story.

Sales Links:  Carina Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 1st edition
Expected publication: September 24th 2018 by Carina Press
ISBN139781488089374
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series Twisted Wishes #2

Syncopation

Counterpoint

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Saddle Up (Clean Slate Ranch #3) by A.M. Arthur

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

I’m enjoying this Clean Slate Ranch series that so far has featured love matches for three young men who were friends in San Francisco—two in law enforcement, one a fireman. A series of accidents and heartbreaking injuries and the death of a friend sent them north to work on Mack’s grandfather’s ranch. In book three, it’s Reyes Caldero’s turn to finally find love and happiness and he finds it with Miles Arlington, Mack’s lover Wes’s bestie. Complicated? Not really, but it does show that the book is best read after reading the first two since the characters are intertwined.

Miles takes a job as chef for the newly created ghost-town attraction that Mack is starting on a plot of land surrounded by the main ranch. Wes has talked him into it but Miles is really going because his former abusive lover, Dallas, is back and threatening to ruin the peace of mind Miles has nurtured over the past year away from him.

Reyes is tall, dark, handsome and a former firefighter. He’s stepped into Mack’s role of foreman of the ranch now that Mack is devoting all his time to making the ghost town a success. He and Miles are assigned to bunk together and though they’ve previously met, they finally get a chance to really know one another. And though a romantic attraction develops over the course of time, neither is ready to jump into anything—especially Miles who never told anyone about being sexually abused last year.

The story is fairly long, and it’s the perfect kind of slow burn romance I enjoy. Each man has ghosts to deal with and each needs to learn to trust the other before they can act on their attraction—maybe Miles more so than Reyes, but the author allows time for both the main storyline and several subplots to develop.

Dallas, meanwhile, has set out to find and then harass Miles from a distance, and he refuses to back off. I was pretty happy with the action in this adventure romance and very surprised at what occurs near the end of the story.

I had never read this author before this series, but I’m definitely coming back for more. There’s a sense of family, friendship, trust, and support throughout this story and the secondary characters were as well-rounded as the two MCs. Thoroughly enjoyable, I definitely recommend this to lovers of MM romance, especially if you’d like a little Western flavor to your romance.

~~~

The cover features a cowboy dressed all in black facing a man wearing jeans and no shirt. Though not very unique, I can see that it does represent the MCs closely.

Sales Links:  Carina Press | Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 1st edition, 336 pages
Expected publication: September 17th 2018 by Carina Press
ASINB07C9F6436
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesClean Slate Ranch #3

A MelanieM Pre-Release Review: Loving A Warrior by Melanie Hansen

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

BUD/S: six months of the most intense training there is. It’s survival of the toughest, and Matt Knytych is determined to come out the other side a navy SEAL.

Distraction is life or death. And just the sight of former marine Shane Hovland is enough to shake Matt’s concentration.

Shane came to BUD/S training ready to prove himself—again. Semper Fi is forever, but he needs a new start. Not this dangerous heat with a man he barely knows.

Everything they’ve ever wanted is riding on a thin, punishing line. And they’ll have to fight for more than just each other if they want to make it through intact.

After all, the only easy day was yesterday.

 

I started in with Melanie Hanson on her strong military story, Point of Contact.  Reviewed by both Barb, our Zany Old Lady and myself, each of us found it to be a moving, beautifully written 5 star novel. And each for very different reasons.  Now comes Loving a Warrior, the second in what feels like a series of SEALS themed novels and I’m just as caught up in her characters and storytelling as I was in the first.

Unlike the first novel where the men were out, well, one was at the start.  The men here are on a totally different journey.  Several of them in fact.  Both are first of all on that most intensive and exclusive of all paths…the one that might lead to getting their Trident and being a member of the SEALS.  That’s BUD/S training.  Hansen brings us directly into probably something the majority of us will never experience and can never imagine, what those men and now some women go through in their attempts to become SEALS. Only a tiny few make it.  As Shane and Matt are run through the hellish rigors of BUD/S, we are right there, sweating,  straining, even bleeding and almost breaking along with them.  It’s vivid, and so realistic that it makes you think about all the real soldiers going through training at this moment, doing everything they can to reach that almost unreachable goal.  Your heart is with them all.  Those that make it as well as those that don’t.

Along with the unrelenting stress, mental, emotional, and physical of BUD/S, there’s Matt and Shane trying to figure out their magnetic attraction to each other, one that threatens to become more and derail their  focus on their SEAL training which they can’t afford.

Matt and Shane are complex characters, Matt especially so because he’s got a hard veneer and laser focus on his goal to become a SEAL.  So for Shane to start to get under some of the barriers that Matt has erected takes time.  He seeks to understand   Matt and as he does, we do as well.  It works  both ways. Shane also has a background that makes his appear all too shallow when he’s anything but.  Matt makes certain assumptions about Shane that he also needs to overcome and a narrow view of the  future for himself that needs enlarging if they are to have a future.

This is not a HEA, but a realistic HFN as it should be for two soldiers.  I would love to see Melanie Hanson revisit them down the line in a sequel, perhaps as they both go off on assignments.

Loving A Warrior by Melanie Hansen is a beautifully written novel that is full of complex characters and a gripping plot that kept me connected from beginning to end. It is also a wonderful  complement to the first story Point of Contact.  I absolutely recommend this story as well as Point of Contact.  Both are just amazing and I can’t wait for another in this military series to be released.

Cover art is strong and has the characters well defined.  I like it although not as much as the first one.

Sales Links:  Carina Press | Amazon to come

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 1st edition
Expected publication: November 26th 2018 by Carina Press
ASINB07DCTPL94
Edition LanguageEnglish

A MelanieM Review: Saddle Up (Clean Slate Ranch #3) by A.M. Arthur

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Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5

 

Reyes Caldero keeps his past buried deep and his emotions buried deeper. But what he doesn’t say he always makes up for with his actions. When the hot chef he once saved from an abusive ex turns up at Clean Slate Ranch, the quiet cowboy is happy to act on their sizzling chemistry, even if he’s not ready to share his secrets—or his heart.

Miles Arlington needs to get the hell out of San Francisco, and heading north for a job near Clean Slate Ranch seems like just the thing. It doesn’t hurt that his secret crush slash onetime rescuer happens to work at the ranch. Miles has never been one for the outdoors, but the superhot Reyes has him ready to saddle up.

Reyes is happy to keep things casual, even though his heart has other ideas. And when Miles is forced to confront his past again, Reyes and Miles will have to put all their trust in each other if they want any chance at building a future together.

Saddle Up by A.M. Arthur is part of the Clean Slate Ranch series, one I haven’t read. However, I didn’t feel that diminished my enjoyment in reading the third book in the series where several of the couples were well established.  Arthur gave enough of their back history and the universe for this series that I felt that I knew some of the relationships not to feel that there were holes in the story or overall fabric of the group dynamics.

A.M. Arthur does broken men so very well and Reyes and Miles are no exception.  Each man is both running from their pasts. Reyes from his gang member teenage years and a horrific, brutal crime that he has kept his deepest secret secret.  Miles from his abusive, possessive ex-boyfriend and a night he can’t remember, an ex-boyfriend who won’t leave him alone. Both have come to Clean Slate Ranch for second chances.  Reyes as the head cowboy at the ranch and Miles under a new name as the head chef at the Saloon at the Ghost Town they have just opened up.

Assigned to bunk in together, both fight their attraction to each other while fighting their own demons.  Miles his fear and Reyes his anger, a combustible combination.  I liked how Miles slowly found his footing through creativity through his food, the Ghost Town’s history, and of course, the horses.  Helping him is Reyes, falling in love even though Mile’s isn’t in any emotional condition to handle it.

I liked their romance.  And perhaps, this is where not reading the other stories does hurt, but Reyes’ anger issues threw up red flags for me where Miles was concerned.  For someone coming off of a controlling, stalker abusive ex, to then have a older man wanting to “protect” him showing huge flashes of barely in control anger?  Uh, maybe not.

It does come out later on in the revelations in Reyes’ back history…still you do have to wonder.  Fear and anger/fight and flight can be two sides of the same coin but that doesn’t necessarily mean they belong in the same relationship.

I loved the elements with the horses, appreciated how they became part of Mile’s adjustment and more, part of Mile’s finding himself.  I could also have done with more of the Ghost Town and it’s merry group of workers, including Mile’s partner in the kitchen.

The drama with Geoff clearly showed me that perhaps I should go back and read the previous stories as I do enjoy this author’s writing.  More to add to my TBR list!

There was a suspenseful ending along with the wonderful HEA, almost a too quick HEA. I think I would have settled for a HFN with all that went on in this novel.  So many trials and tribulations, so many emotional upheavals and adjustments, that this ending almost felt to unrealistic.  Sweet, romantic, and lovely.  But unrealistic.

If you love A.M.Arthur, are a fan of this series, or just adore broken man and their road to HEA, then this is a story for you.

 

Cover art seems almost right for Reyes but that figure is too muscular for Miles, that stance too combative.  Would work great for another story however.

Sales Links:  Carina Press | Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 1st edition, 336 pages
Expected publication: September 17th 2018 by Carina Press
ASINB07C9F6436
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesClean Slate Ranch #3

One-click with confidence. This title is part of the Carina Press Romance Promise: all the romance you’re looking for with an HEA/HFN. It’s a promise!

Cover Reveal – Loving A Warrior by Melanie Hansen – giveaway

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Pre-Order Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Carina
 
Length: 77,300 words approx.
 
Publisher: Carina Press
 
Blurb



BUD/S: six months of the most intense training there is. It’s survival of the toughest, and Matt Knytych is determined to come out the other side a navy SEAL.


Distraction is life or death. And just the sight of former marine Shane Hovland is enough to shake Matt’s concentration.


Shane came to BUD/S training ready to prove himself—again. Semper Fi is forever, but he needs a new start. Not this dangerous heat with a man he barely knows.


Everything they’ve ever wanted is riding on a thin, punishing line. And they’ll have to fight for more than just each other if they want to make it through intact.


After all, the only easy day was yesterday.


Author Bio


Melanie Hansen has spent time in Texas and Florida prisons…for work. She’s been in a room with a 17-year-old mass murderer who was also one of the most soft-spoken and polite teenagers she’s ever met. After a 13-year career as a court reporter, she can tell many stories both hilarious and heartbreaking.


She grew up with an Air Force dad, and ended up marrying a Navy man. After living and working all over the country, she hopes to bring these rich and varied life experiences to her stories about people finding love amidst real-life struggles.


Melanie left the stressful world of the courtroom behind and now enjoys a rewarding career transcribing for a deaf student. She currently lives in Arizona with her husband and two sons.

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A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Imperial Stout (Trouble Brewing #1) by Layla Reyne

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Rating: 3 stars out of 5

I must say that the first few chapters of this book were super confusing. I picked it up because it was first in a series and yes, I knew it was a spin-off of a previous series that many of my friends enjoyed. I thought coming in at the beginning of a new series would be a good place to start, but I was wrong. Throwing readers into action in the first chapter that used previous characters without an explanation as to the dynamics and relationships was very, very confusing. There really wasn’t even a backstory on their mission or their agencies or their work history, so unless someone reads the other series first, this is a tough one to read as a standalone.

Dominic “Nic” Price is a US attorney and he also owns a brewery. Cameron Byrne is a Special Agent with the FBI specializing in kidnap and rescue operations. Apparently, the two met and shared a first kiss in one of the books of the previous series so there’s somewhat of a relationship there at the start.

I had to consult the blurb a few times to keep the story straight because there was so much action and so many former character names and acronyms used that I was easily confused. Maybe it’s just me, but I like my stories to build slowly or at least give me a backstory immediately after the initial explosion of action, but I didn’t get that here. Then there’s a secondary plot that never gets resolved, but is apparently connected to Nic’s estrangement from his father. Someone is out to kill Nic, and somehow that’s connected to his father’s gambling debts. As the story closes, this subplot is brought back to the forefront so I suspect it’s going to be featured in the next book.

In the meantime, to get to the heart of the burglary and kidnapping that occurred in this story, Cam volunteers for an undercover operation that will be emotionally painful for him. It’s related to a tragedy in his past but it’s never quite clear exactly what that is. His coworkers and boss, who was away on his honeymoon as the story opened—another former book storyline—all seem to understand exactly why it’s a problem. Nevertheless, the main plot is resolved and he and Nic get together romantically by the end of the book, after a series of starts and stops due to work conflicts.

I would recommend this to someone who has read the author’s previous stories, but not to someone like me who had no clue of the history and backstory of this band of characters. Even now, days after finishing, I’m still trying to piece it together. Short of a full reread, which I’m not sure will help, I remain confused.

~~~

The cover features a close-up of a bearded man in business dress with a shaded older man in the background. It represents the couple in the story and is bright and attention-getting.

Sales Links:

AMZ: https://amzn.to/2qBqID7

UBL: http://books2read.com/u/mBMWMZ

Carina: http://bit.ly/2JQWIOF

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 1st edition, 272 pages
Expected publication: July 23rd 2018 by Carina Press
Original TitleImperial Stout
ASINB07BRTFTG6
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesTrouble Brewing #1