An Ashlez Audio Review: Road of No Return: Hounds of Valhalla MC (Sex & Mayhem #1) by K.A. Merikan and Wyatt Baker (Narrator)

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Rating – 2 stars out of 5

— Don’t talk to strangers. —

Zak. Tattoo artist. Independent. Doesn’t do relationships.

Stitch. Outlaw biker. Deep in the closet. Doesn’t share his property.

On the day of Stitch’s divorce, lust personified enters the biker bar he’s celebrating at. Tattooed all over, pierced, confident, and hot as hellfire, Zak is the bone Stitch has waited for life to throw him. All Stitch wants is a sniff, a taste, a lick. What follows instead is gluttony of the most carnal sort, and nothing will ever be the same. Forced to hide his new love affair from the whole world, Stitch juggles family, club life, and crime, but it’s only a matter of time until it becomes too hard.

Zak moves to Lake Valley in search of peace and quiet, but when he puts his hand into the jaws of a Hound of Valhalla, life gets all but simple. In order to be with Stitch, Zak’s biker wet dream, he has to crawl right back into the closet. As heated as the relationship is, the secrets, the hiding, the violence, jealousy, and conservative attitudes in the town rub Zak in all the wrong ways. When pretending he doesn’t know what his man does becomes impossible, Zak needs to decide if life with an outlaw biker is really what he wants.

As club life and the love affair collide, all that’s left in Zak and Stitch’s life is mayhem.

 I had a few issues with this book, overall it was nice and filthy – lots of loving.  There were some points I hated .. the use of the word “fag” was very prominent and I found it a huge turn off.  I can’t express that enough, I get that it’s a hardened biker book but the CONSTANT use of the word was just too much for me.  The warning says homophobia which like I said, expected in this context but the WORD always used, downer.
I listened to this book in audio format, for which I’m both grateful and not, perhaps the previous word that was used to often wouldn’t have been as strong had I read the words instead of heard them – I didn’t mind the narrator, he had a few moments of over the top biker growling going on, but overall was well read!
Cover – 100% fitting , and very nice.. who doesn’t like leather
Sales Link:  Amazon | Audible
Audio Book Details:
Length: 11 hrs and 25 mins
Audible Audio, 12 pages
Published January 19th 2019 by Acerbi&Villani ltd. (first published July 17th 2014)
Original TitleRoad of No Return
ASINB07MWHTTWF
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesSex & Mayhem #1, Sex & Mayhem (DE editions) #1, Serie Sex & Mayhem (IT editions) #5 , more
CharactersZac Richardson, Thor ‘Stitch’ Larsen

Love to Listen to Your Romances? Check Out in the Deep (Out in College #1) by Lane Hayes and Michael Pauley (Narrator)

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Both Now Available in Audio!

Title: Out in the Deep, Out in College #1
Author: Lane Hayes
Publisher: Lane Hayes
Narrated by: Michael Pauley
Release Date: January 17th, 2019
Heat Level: 4 – Lots of Sex
Pairing: Male/Male
Length: 4 hrs and 34 mins
Genre: Romance, New Adult, Bisexual, College romance, Water Polo, Coming out

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Listen to an Excerpt & Purchase at Audible

Synopsis

Derek Vaughn is a little too serious. He’s a type A control personality with a penchant for order and a love of water polo. But he’s determined to enjoy his last year of college. The real world with a serious job and big expectations can wait for a few months. He’s going soak up every minute on campus with his friends and teammates before he moves on. The only possible kink in his plan is the new guy on the team… also known as his nemesis.

Gabe Chadwick has big Olympic dreams. His transfer between Southern California universities has nothing to do with scholastics. The degree is his backup plan. He’s not there to party or make friends. And he certainly isn’t going to announce his sexuality. But he can’t deny there’s something special about the uptight team captain. However, when an unwitting friendship and mutual attraction collide, both will have to decide if this is the real thing or if they’re about to lose it all in the deep.


Title
: Out in the End Zone, Out in College #2
Author: Lane Hayes
Publisher: Lane Hayes
Narrated by: Michael Pauley
Release Date: January 23rd, 2019
Heat Level: 4 – Lots of Sex
Pairing: Male/Male
Length: 4 hrs and 58 mins
Genre: Romance, New Adult, Bisexual, College romance, Football, Coming out

Add to Goodreads
Listen to an Excerpt & Purchase at Audible

Synopsis

Evan di Angelo is an upbeat, good-natured goofball who loves his friends and family… and football. A traumatic accident may have ended his hopes of playing professionally, but he’s made the most of his four years on the field at a small Southern California college. He’s learned the hard way to embrace change, take chances and try things outside of his comfort zone…like agreeing to play fake boyfriends for someone else’s senior project.

Mitch Peterson knows that being his authentic self is the path to true happiness. He’s grown from a shy, quiet kid from a broken home to an out and proud budding internet sensation bound for grad school. An awesome senior project is the key. It’s unlikely anyone will believe the hunky, straight athlete is Mitch’s new lover, but it’s worth a shot. However, as their tentative friendship blossoms into unexpected attraction, the lines between reality and fiction blur for both men. Evan is forced to face old demons and decide if he has the courage to take the next step and come out in the end zone.

 

Meet the Author

Lane Hayes is grateful to finally be doing what she loves best. Writing full-time! It’s no secret Lane loves a good romance novel. An avid reader from an early age, she has always been drawn to well-told love story with beautifully written characters. These days she prefers the leading roles to both be men. Lane discovered the M/M genre a few years ago and was instantly hooked. Her debut novel was a 2013 Rainbow Award finalist and subsequent books have received Honorable Mentions, and won First Prize in the 2016 and 2017 Rainbow Awards. She loves red wine, chocolate and travel (in no particular order). Lane lives in Southern California with her amazing husband in a newly empty nest.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Meet the Narrator

Michael has well over 50 audio book titles currently available for purchase on Audible.com. He is versed in multiple styles and genres including fiction (novels and short stories) ranging from romance to science fiction to crime dramas to thrillers; business strategy books; health and wellness books; and even an occasional children’s book.

Fans of Michael’s narration are welcome to follow him on social media including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and SoundCloud.

If you are interested in working with Michael to produce your next audio book, you can contact him directly at voice@michaelpauley.info

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Love Coming Out Romance Stories? Check out ‘Out in the Offense (Out in College #3) by Lane Hayes (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title: Out in the Offense

Series: Out in College #3

Author: Lane Hayes

Publisher: Lane Hayes

Release Date: January 10, 2019

Heat Level: 4 – Lots of Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 54k

Genre: Romance, New Adult, Bisexual, College romance, Football, Coming out

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Synopsis

Christian Rafferty is a talented quarterback with a big secret. He’s determined to make the most of his final season on the football field, and if possible, avoid any confrontations with his conservative parents about his future. It shouldn’t be difficult; he’s become adept at keeping his public and private lives separate. However, when a math class threatens to derail his plans to graduate on time, he realizes he may need outside help.

Rory Kirkland has a reputation for being a tough guy. He’s a former wrestler and recent college graduate who needs a real job. Until he finds one, tutoring is a decent temporary gig. Luckily, his brain is his biggest asset. Rory is a genius. He credits his sport for helping him deal with angst and rumors about his sexuality when he was younger, but he doesn’t care what others think anymore. He likes his new status as an out and proud bi man; and he recognizes something of himself in Christian. But Rory didn’t count on falling for him. When an unlikely friendship collides with intense attraction, both men begin to realize that coming out on offense just might be the surest path to love.

Excerpt

“Can I do anything to help?” I asked, setting my backpack on one of the two barstools at the narrow counter space.

“Nope. As soon as the veggies are sautéed, we’ll be ready to eat. Want something to drink?”

“Yes, please. Water is fine. Where’s Buttons?”

Rory pulled a water bottle from the small fridge behind him and handed it over, then pointed at a basket next to the sofa.

“She’s hiding behind that basket. She’ll make an appearance if she decides you’re worthy. In the meantime, there’s bread in that basket on the counter next to your bag. Help yourself. I’ll bring dinner out.”

I thanked him, then twisted the cap from the water bottle and took a generous sip before rounding the corner in search of the bread. I was ravenous. I bit into the baguette with gusto before turning to check out my surroundings.

Rory’s apartment was tiny. Probably half the size of mine and much older. But unlike the rough exterior, it was…pleasant. Surprisingly so. A short wall delineated the narrow kitchen from the main living area. There was just enough room for a sofa, an ottoman, a TV console, and a smallish television. Two barstools were tucked under the small peninsula by the cut-out in the kitchen wall. The palette was basic “dude”…dark leather against stark white walls, though a large red throw rug anchored the room and provided a nice splash of color. It was simple—but tidy and very clean.

“Your place is cool,” I commented when he entered the room, carrying two plates and a large bowl.

“Thanks. Let’s sit on the sofa. We have more room to eat there,” he said decisively as he set his burden on the coffee table. “Help yourself. I’ll get some forks, napkins, and extra veggies.”

I obeyed and quickly got to work, scooping chicken fettucine Alfredo onto both plates. Rory joined me a minute later, handing over the silverware before taking a seat next to me. I shot a bashful sideways glance at him as I reached for a napkin.

“Do you eat like this every night?”

“It’s really nothing special. I make sauces in bulk and freeze them. Then it’s just a matter of adding protein and veggies. By the way, this Alfredo is a healthy version. If you want to drown it in parmesan, feel free. I won’t be offended. Cheers.” He tapped his water bottle against mine and winked.

“Cheers. And thanks again. This is incredible and very unexpected.” I smiled as I twisted the pasta around my fork.

“You’re welcome. You sounded anxious, but you said we’re cool. Are we?”

“Of course.”

Rory tilted his head and shot me a challenging look. “Then kiss me.”

“Um…now?”

“Yeah, now. The other night could have been a fluke. Instead of wondering, let’s get it over with. One kiss should be enough to tell. C’mere,” he commanded, leaning sideways.

I set my fork down and met him halfway until our noses brushed. Then I waited for him to make the next move. He stayed stubbornly still. When I couldn’t stand the growing tension, I pressed my lips to his. And wow…amazing.

Rory was a great kisser. He had the simple art of give-and-take down to a science. He molded his mouth to mine and gently pushed his tongue inside. The connection was sweet but bold. It was more about discovery than possession. I hummed as I snaked my arm around his neck, pulling him closer. He sucked my tongue, then bit my bottom lip playfully before pulling back.

“Definitely not a fluke,” he said with a devilish grin.

Purchase at Amazon

Meet the Author

Lane Hayes is grateful to finally be doing what she loves best. Writing full-time! It’s no secret Lane loves a good romance novel. An avid reader from an early age, she has always been drawn to well-told love story with beautifully written characters. These days she prefers the leading roles to both be men. Lane discovered the M/M genre a few years ago and was instantly hooked. Her debut novel was a 2013 Rainbow Award finalist and subsequent books have received Honorable Mentions, and won First Prize in the 2016 and 2017 Rainbow Awards. She loves red wine, chocolate and travel (in no particular order). Lane lives in Southern California with her amazing husband in a newly empty nest.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads |Amazon

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Release Blitz and Giveaway for You Forever Always by KA Merikan

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Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK Exclusive to Amazon and Available to Borrow with Kindle Unlimited.
 
Length: 50,000 word approx.
 
Cover Design: Natasha Snow
 
Underdogs Series 
 
Book #1 – Manic Pixie Dream Boy – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #2 – Just Here For The Pain – Amazon US | Amazon UK
 
Blurb

 

—Years of loving in secret. Now the secret’s out.—



Mage. Reasonable. Mature. In love with his best friend’s little brother.
Dawn. Painfully shy. Crazy talented. An anxious cinnamon roll in need of protection.


Mage has always been Dawn’s hero. He’s been there for him when Dawn was bullied, when Dawn came out, and when he joined The Underdogs. He’s also been Dawn’s first and only love—painfully unrequited, since Mage is straight. But that’s only for the better, because they’re bandmates, and Dawn’s brother is Mage’s best friend.


It would all be too intense, too complicated, too real.


But then one drunken kiss proves Mage might not be as straight as he seemed, and their whole world turns upside down. Even though Dawn craves Mage’s love so much his heart could burst, his shyness stands in the way of any future they could share.


While they have to keep their budding relationship under wraps and they prepare to sign a major record deal, Dawn’s anxiety gets out of control. Mage will have to choose between the success he’s always craved and the love of his life.


POSSIBLE SPOILERS:
Themes: rock band, bandmates romance, older brother’s best friend, coming out, bisexuality, first love, anxiety, compromise, music, secret love
Genre: Contemporary M/M Rocker Romance
Heat level: sweet, explicit scenes
Length: ~50,000 words (Can be read as standalone, HEA)

K.A. Merikan are a team of writers who try not to suck at adulting, with some success. Always eager to explore the murky waters of the weird and wonderful, K.A. Merikan don’t follow fixed formulas and want each of their books to be a surprise for those who choose to hop on for the ride.


K.A. Merikan have a few sweeter M/M romances as well, but they specialize in the dark, dirty, and dangerous side of M/M, full of bikers, bad boys, mafiosi, and scorching hot romance.


FACEBOOK PROFILE
K.A. MERIKAN’S TWITTER (RUN BY KAT)
AGNES MERIKAN’S TWITTER
K.A. MERIKAN ON GOODREADS
PINTEREST
M/F ROMANCE BY MISS MERIKAN

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In the Spotlight Tour and Giveaway: Rabi and Matthew by L.A. Witt

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Rabi and Matthew by L.A. Witt
Riptide Publishing
Cover By: Christine Coffee

Sales Links:  Riptide Publishing | Amazon

 

 

 

 

About Rabi and Matthew

A queer retelling of Romeo & Juliet, except no one has to bury their gays.

A decades-old family rivalry is reaching a boiling point as the patriarchs vie for a seat in Congress. Democrat vs Republican, Muslim vs Christian, Hashmi vs Swain — the Midwestern town of Arbor Hills is one spark away from an explosion of violence. So when two men find themselves irresistibly drawn together at a party, only to discover they were born on opposite sides of a bloody battle line, Matthew Swain and Rabi Hashmi know they should leave well enough alone.

The pull between them is magnetic, though, and it’s too strong to ignore. Unable to resist, they meet again in secret. Generations of hatred can’t temper the passionate love growing between them, but two men falling for each other in the middle of a war zone can’t hold back the inevitable clash.

And when decades of political, religious, and personal strife finally come to a head, there will be blood.

Now available from Riptide Publishing.

 

About L.A. Witt

L.A. Witt is an abnormal M/M romance writer who has finally been released from the purgatorial corn maze of Omaha, Nebraska, and now spends her time on the southwestern coast of Spain. In between wondering how she didn’t lose her mind in Omaha, she explores the country with her husband, several clairvoyant hamsters, and an ever-growing herd of rabid plot bunnies. She also has substantially more time on her hands these days, as she has recruited a small army of mercenaries to search South America for her nemesis, romance author Lauren Gallagher, but don’t tell Lauren. And definitely don’t tell Lori A. Witt or Ann Gallagher. Neither of those twits can keep their mouths shut . . .

Connect with L.A.:

Giveaway

To celebrate the release of Rabi and Matthew, one lucky person will win a $10 Riptide gift card. Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on November 10, 2018. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following along, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!

In the Spotlight Tour and Giveaway: Surreal Estate by Jesi Lea Ryan

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Surreal Estate by Jesi Lea Ryan
Riptide Publishing
Cover Art:  Lou Harper

Sales Links:  Riptide Publishing | Amazon

 

 

About Surreal Estate

Sasha Michaels is a psychic with an affinity for houses. And he’s homeless. Go figure. After months of sleeping rough, he stumbles upon an abandoned house, and the lonely place beckons him inside. He’s finally safe . . . until someone comes blundering in to his hideaway.

House-flipper Nick Cooper lost everything in the recession. Desperate to revive his business, he turns to a loan shark to fund his comeback project: flipping an abandoned house full of potential. But it turns out the house has an unexpected occupant.

Nick and Sasha make a deal: Sasha can stay in exchange for helping with the renovation. To both of their surprise, the closer they get to the loan shark’s due date, the stronger their feelings for each other grow. Problem is, Nick isn’t the only one with feelings for Sasha, and now the house doesn’t want to let Sasha go.

Now available from Riptide Publishing!

 

About Jesi Lea Ryan

USA Today bestselling author Jesi Lea Ryan grew up in the Mississippi River town of Dubuque, Iowa. She holds Bachelor’s degrees in creative writing and literature and a Master’s in business administration, along with an assortment of Associate’s degrees, certificates and designations, none of which have anything to do with writing books about psychics.

Jesi considers herself a well-rounded nerd. She loves studying British history, exploring foreign cities on Google Earth, watching TED talks, listening to true crime podcasts, floating in her pool, and reading or listening to books — approximately two hundred books a year in many different genres. The side effect of all this is that she’s the ideal person to have on your trivia team, or what a former co-worker called “a dump truck of knowledge.

Her biggest vice is procrastination. #TheStruggleIsReal

Jesi spent most of her adult life in Madison, Wisconsin, but now lives in Maricopa, Arizona, with her spouse and two exceptionally naughty kitties. Summers may be brutal, but at least she doesn’t have to shovel the heat off her driveway.

Giveaway

To celebrate the release of Surreal Estate, one lucky person will win a $20 Riptide gift card! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on November 10, 2018. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following along, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!

A Barb the Zany Old Lady: Out in the End Zone (Out in College #2) by Lane Hayes

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Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Out in the End Zone takes place concurrently with the first book in the series, Out in the Deep End and explains where Evan’s been going while Gage has been hanging out with Derek at their house.

Evan is Derek’s roommate, a happy-go-lucky football player with a good family background. He’s fulfilling his dreams of playing football at a small SoCal college because a deadly accident four years ago took his friend and his dreams of playing pro ball. Now, for some reason, he’s attracted to a guy at a party and not attracted to most of the girls there, including Nicole who is avidly pursuing him, and Amanda, Derek’s ex. The guy is Mitch Peterson, an out-and-proud cheer crew leader who lives with his gram and has a strong Internet following for his vlog. Evan surprises himself by agreeing to help Mitch on his senior project, which will measure the influence of social media on relationships.

They will be fake boyfriends, but the question viewers need to vote on after each video session is whether or not they are real or fake. Seems simple but doesn’t include the fact that Evan is really bi and falls head over heels for Mitch. All the ensuing chaos and happy romantic times are what makes the story interesting. It’s not all as readers may anticipate, and it is a fun book to read. I particularly enjoyed Mitch’s character and even now, a few days after finishing the story, I can clearly picture him and his wide, sunny smile. Evan was great as well, but as is typical in these stories, he dragged his feet a bit too long in coming out to his family and team and that’s hurt Mitch so I’m sure other Team-Mitch readers like me will feel as I felt and want to kick Evan in the pants—a few times!

Lane Hayes does really good character sketches for young adult/new adult stories. This was an amusing premise—a different play on the fake boyfriend trope. It’s nice that it wove in and out with the first book in the series as well. Not everything in life falls in line smoothly and this proves that point well. All in all, this is a sweet and enjoyable new adult story and I recommend it to those who like the fake boyfriend theme.

The cover by Reese Dante features a torso shot of Evan that is quite attractive.

Sales Links: Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 200 pages
Published October 7th 2018 by Lane Hayes
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesOut in College #2

New Release Blitz for Out in the End (Out in College #2) Zone by Lane Hayes (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title: Out in the End Zone

Series: Out in College #2

Author: Lane Hayes

Publisher: Lane Hayes

Release Date: October 10

Heat Level: 4 – Lots of Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 44000

Genre: Romance, New Adult, Bisexual, College romance, Football, Coming out

Add to Goodreads

Synopsis

Evan di Angelo is an upbeat, good-natured goofball who loves his friends and family… and football. A traumatic accident may have ended his hopes of playing professionally, but he’s made the most of his four years on the field at a small Southern California college. He’s learned the hard way to embrace change, take chances and try things outside of his comfort zone…like agreeing to play fake boyfriends for someone else’s senior project.

Mitch Peterson knows that being his authentic self is the path to true happiness. He’s grown from a shy, quiet kid from a broken home to an out and proud budding internet sensation bound for grad school. An awesome senior project is the key. It’s unlikely anyone will believe the hunky, straight athlete is Mitch’s new lover, but it’s worth a shot. However, as their tentative friendship blossoms into unexpected attraction, the lines between reality and fiction blur for both men. Evan is forced to face old demons and decide if he has the courage to take the next step and come out in the end zone.

Excerpt

Mitch scoffed. “Cooperate, please. This is your intro. Maybe you should put your arm around me and kiss my cheek.”

“Now?”

“Yes. This is a rehearsal, so…go for it.”

I moved to his side, slipped my arm around his waist, and kissed his cheek. His scruff threw me off stride. It wasn’t noticeable because his facial hair was blond, but I could feel it. He smelled and felt different from anyone I’d ever kissed before. Sure, I’d kissed male relatives. I was part Italian. No one in my family shied from physical contact. But a hug and kiss on each cheek from my Uncle Gianni was different from kissing an attractive man. I caressed his cheek impulsively and then leaned in to sniff him the way I’d wanted to since the party. “Mmm.”

“What are you doing?” he asked.

“You smell good. I’ve never kissed a guy I wasn’t related to who had a five o’clock shadow.”

Mitch gave me a funny look. “You kissed me yesterday at lunch.”

“Yeah, but you haven’t shaved since this morning, right? The texture is like sandpaper but in a good way. I like it,” I assured him.

He looked flustered for a second but recovered quickly. “Well, that’ll make the real kiss easier then.”

“Right. When do we kiss, and what’s the intensity level supposed to be? G, PG, PG-13? Or are we going straight to the nasty?” I teased.

“Ha. G is peck on the cheek, which we just covered. PG is peck on the lips. So somewhere in between that and PG-13 works.”

“Got it. Maybe we should practice first,” I said.

“Um…sure.” Mitch turned around and gestured toward the bar stools at the island. “We can sit there, and I’ll set up the tripod a foot or so from where you’re standing now.”

“We don’t have to be in exact position. I just need to get used to touching you. It would be the same with anyone. Guy or girl.”

Okay, fine. I wanted to do it again. I’d thought about him nonstop since the party last weekend. And that throwaway kiss yesterday at the restaurant had opened a Pandora’s box. I was consumed now. I didn’t want to practice kissing him. I had to or I’d go crazy.

“Maybe you’re right. Um…okay. You can kiss me,” he said in a low voice.

“Well, you have to participate,” I chided as I stepped into his space.

“I’m…yes. Do you want to go first? Like…” Mitch set his hand on my hip and inched closer still. “This?”

I lifted my right hand and hovered it above his ear for a moment before threading my fingers through his hair. He suddenly looked nervous, which somehow worked in my favor. I held his gaze, then moved forward and gently pressed my lips to his. And fuck, it felt amazing to be here again. I tilted my head slightly, loving the intoxicating contrast of his soft lips and scratchy chin. Mitch closed his eyes and hooked his arms around my neck so we stood toe to toe and chest to chest. All the ways this felt different no longer applied. I knew what to do here. I was practically a fucking expert.

Purchase at Amazon

Meet the Author

Lane Hayes is grateful to finally be doing what she loves best. Writing full-time! It’s no secret Lane loves a good romance novel. An avid reader from an early age, she has always been drawn to well-told love story with beautifully written characters. These days she prefers the leading roles to both be men. Lane discovered the M/M genre a few years ago and was instantly hooked. Her debut novel was a 2013 Rainbow Award finalist and subsequent books have received Honorable Mentions, and won First Prize in the 2016 and 2017 Rainbow Awards. She loves red wine, chocolate and travel (in no particular order). Lane lives in Southern California with her amazing husband in a newly empty nest.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

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A MelanieM Review: A Taste Of Agapi by Chris Ethan

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

A sweet, Greek romance that will hook you from start to finish.

Jimmy has a secret.

But when he meets Ren, he can no longer hide it.

Ren is an adventurous comic-book nerd.
He transfers to Thessaloniki, Greece in an attempt to find his place in the world.
What he gets is more than just an escape from his academic family.

Jimmy is a hard working man.
After losing his mother, he has put his heart and soul into finishing his studies and helping his dad through his financial difficulties.

When he is introduced to Ren, Jimmy initiates him into the coffee-and-chill culture of his Greek city.

But something awakens in both of them. Something neither can tame.

Can the two boys be more than just friends?

And what is that feeling called? That feeling they can’t seem to shake off?

A Taste of Agapi is a sweet, low-angst, coming-out romance with some swearing, a little bit of geekiness, a lot of Greek culture and a happy ever after.

If you read that last sentence of the blurb above basically my review is written for me.  All that is true.  Review done.  Shortest review ever!  Excerpt that A Taste Of Agapi by Chris Ethan also opens a window into Thessaloniki, Greece. We meet its people with its infinite variety, dive into Greek culture through its food, language, politics, family life, and yes, monuments.  We even get to travel into parts of collegiate life with Ren when we attend classes with him.  No, A Taste of Agapi is a treasure trove and love letter to Greece and the Greek people with it’s honesty about its issues (the elements of racism, homophobia, intolerance) that high unemployment and an economic slump has seen increased as well.  We still want to travel there, share in the love and joy of those we will meet eating and celebrating in their neighborhood bars and seaside establishments, hoping for the same welcome that Ren was lucky enough to find with Jimmy and his friends.

Ethan’s characterizations are marvelous.

Warm, layered portraits of people that you not only want to meet but might recognize anywhere.  Funny, flawed, fierce, and loving, these are young men and women at that most bright and precarious stage of their lives.  Coming into adulthood, finding themselves, figuring out futures, and just being young.  Chris Ethan captures it all and does it while making them genuine Greek youth navigating the peculiars of Greek society.  In this case, it’s the very real fear of what coming out will do to you and those around you in a culture that sees it as something not only to be reviled but criminal, the laws only now changing.  No, this is not liberal Europe or the US.

The relationship between Ren from England (and a more liberal culture) and Jimmy (definitely not out in a hostile one) still manages to be sweet, questioning, and romantic.  It also feels entirely real.  It’s very easy to connect with these two as they try to figure out what they feel about each other, what they are doing with each other (virgins), and  all the conflicting issues they face, each other’s cultures not withstanding.  Huge questions that face these young men in such a short time together.

Therein lies my one issue with this story.

It’s really only half of a book.  It ends exactly where the other half of the book should start.  That keeps this story from being a 5 star read for me.  It almost took it down to a 4 (that and a element with 2 brothers and a uncle that petered out to nothing, not that I’m complaining).

No, it’s that we need the rest of this story.  I can only hope that the author is hard at work writing it.  This couple and the readers deserve to know how it all plays out.  Until then, travel to Thessaloniki, Greece in A Taste Of Agapi by Chris Ethan for a sweet coming out romance you will thoroughly love.

Cover art:  Tiferet Designs.  Gorgeous cover with the White Tower of Thessaloniki in the background, one of the many monuments that Jimmy took Ren to.  Love it.

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 190 pages
Published September 26th 2018 by Chris Ethan Gay Romance
ASINB07GTK9MP2
Edition Language English

A MelanieM Release Day Review: Love and Lint Rollers by Kaje Harper

Standard

Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Even with six beloved cats at home, Thom Fletcher can’t help opening his heart to a little injured stray he finds at Pride. Luckily, the generosity of the veterinarian who helps him means he doesn’t have to open his wallet. Thom’s budget is stretched pretty thin, between his struggling start-up and medical expenses for his Crohn’s disease, so the free cat care helps a lot. Thom may have fallen for the little feline, but he’s also intrigued by the attractive vet in the bi-pride bracelet.

Dean Edwards went to Pride with his colors on his wrist, hoping to find community after his divorce. Instead, he’s pulled into a cat rescue by an appealing man. Dean likes Thom’s kindness to strays, his blue-gray eyes, his intelligence, and his perspective from decades as an out gay man. Maybe with Thom, Dean will finally feel able to explore his long-neglected attraction to men.

They’re not a perfect match. From Dean’s cat-hating dog to Thom’s chronic health issues and preferences in bed, going from a casual date to something more will be a challenge for both of them.

I don’t know when I last read a story with so many elements that stood out as remarkable and yet still folded nicely into a heartwarming romance in the end as the ones in Love and Lint Rollers by Kaje Harper.   First the characters are older which I really appreciated, one in his early fifties, with all that means emotionally, mentally, and baggage wise.  Thom Fletcher has the added complications of Crohn’s Disease, something that has drastically affected his health and his love life (no anal sex to be explicit). Harper addresses life with Crohn’s through Thom and we see all stages of the disease and its effects on his life and relationships.  For some readers it might not be enough information. For others too much.  We definitely learn a lot about life lived with this illness and its tight restrictions.  And how not to give up as well.

The character of Thom is someone I just loved and understood, even if I wanted to given him a shake or two.  If you have ever known anyone who has or had had serious illnesses, then you know how their focus can or sometimes must narrow down to dealing with their own health issues, especially if they have been doing so over a length of time.  And doing it on their own.  Letting someone else in is hard and Harper shows that realistically.  Especially with a diseases such as Crohn’s.  Portraying Thom’s shame, fear, and belief that no one will ever stay with him because it’s too hard will ring true with all readers who will emphasize with this man.

Dean Edwards too is dealing with past issues, coming out at his age, overcoming the emotional restrictions his deceased parents placed on him that still effect him.  I really liked Dean and believed in his internal battles and choices he was making.  As well as his love of his animals and Thom. Oh, and Dean is a vet with years of medical experience behind him which helps when one has many animals and other issues.

Ah, the animals!  Cats Gin, Snap, Buster, Louie, Onyx, Salem, and Cinder.  Plus elderly but still fierce dog Tig.  All with their huge roles to play in Thom’s life, this couple’s relationship, and in the story. And of course, the reader’s heart’s they wind and twine their way into.

There is a lesbian couple with a bestie half with tendencies to want to control Thom’s life.  That was a character i found irritating, probably realistic as there are always people like that in RL who believe that they know better than another person what path that person’s life should take. That they do it out of love doesn’t make it any less controlling. That you as a reader want Thom to have this person back off?  Well, it means that Harper has done her job and written this bestie so believably we have become put off by their behavior.  Well done.

For me, I might have wished for a little less of the Crohn’s, and  a little more of Thom and Dean together at the end with the menagerie for Love and Lint Rollers by Kaje Harper to fulfill all the promise I had hoped for. But honestly?  It came so close I’m not complaining.  I loved it.  And think you will to.  Especially if you love cats as well.  I highly recommend this!

Cover Art is adorable.  At first I thought the models were too young.  Still wavering on that.  But Thom is remarked to look more like in his 40’s than the early 50’s he is and I loved the cats.  More cats.  Where is Louie?

Sales Links:  Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 220 pages
Expected publication: October 9th 2018 by Kaje Harper
ISBN139780463646465
Edition Language English