A Barb the Zany Old Lady Audio Review: Magic Runs Deep by Alex Whitehall and Adam R Watson (Narrator)

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

I really enjoyed this story. An unusual shifter tale, in this one Veier (rhymes with bear) has been chained to a king’s throne and kept in his bear shifter form for five years. He’s freed when the kingdom is overthrown, but the new king wants him executed and it’s his brother, Elrid, who saves Veier’s life. Elrid is a powerful mage and he rightly points out that the chain indicates Veier was not necessarily loyal to the previous rulers.

But it takes patience and trial and error before Veier is trusted enough to be let outside the room where Elrid works and sleeps with him as the two begin to build trust. He has brief moments of freedom but always seems to be in the wrong place when trouble occurs. He and Elrid become close as he slowly starts to trust that this human may really not wish him harm.

When Elrid is severely injured in an attack by the previous king’s followers, it’s Veier who risks not only his freedom, but his life, to go to Elrid and use his own life force to help Elrid recover and regain his strength. 

I liked the way the author created Veier’s character as a very rough, gruff, hard to get to know man, yet one who we definitely want to get to know and cheer for as he slowly grows from the bear who reacts before thinking to the man who feels all levels of emotion.  Elrid was the strong, silent type—the kind of man with enough patience to wait out Veier’s slow buildup of trust. 

The narrator did a good job with unique vocalizations for each man. If I had one peeve it would be that the MC’s name, Veier, rhymed with bear and he’s a bear shifter. Perhaps the narrator mispronounced it. Or perhaps the author never read the book out loud.  In either event, it caused confusion on several occasions when I was listening as I wasn’t quite sure which word was being used. And at some points in the story, when it was important to know Veier was in bear or in human form, it was frustrating.

Other than that, this is a definite recommendation to my fellow MM romance readers.  Most definitely not insta-love, this is a slow burn, enemies to friends to lovers story with a unique shifter slant. 

The cover by Shayne Leighton features a close-up of a bearded man, hand under chin, and a bear paw print with the title of the story superimposed over it. Very nicely done.

Sales LInks:  Riptide Publishing | Audible | Amazon | iTunes

Audio Book Details:

Audiobook
Published October 24th 2018 by Riptide Publishing (first published April 9th 2018)
Original Title Magic Runs Deep
Edition Language English

A Jeri Review: Shane and Trey (Enemies to Lovers #1) by Anyta Sunday

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Rating: 2.5  stars out of 5

Sorry, this was just a weak story. Boy falls for his sister’s boyfriend. I’ve read that, it’s a decent trope. Sister’s boyfriend turns out to be gay. Ok, I’ll go with it. They are paired up as roommates in college and almost immediately fall into a relationship. Blah.
First, the book started out with Shane and his twin sister June being best friends who would do anything for each other. Guess what, even though they broke up, he shouldn’t have hooked up with her ex.
Second, June is upset but “understands”? Nope.
After they got together, it just turned so sappy. There was a whole spin off story with one of Shane’s friends and his boyfriend and then his father. Trey has some big family secret (although, pretty easy to suss out), and they are “away” at college in dorm rooms but are only 30 minutes from home?
. They were so cutesy. And they seemed to know exactly what to do with each other even though neither had any experience. Where was the awkward? It was all just kind of a mess for me
Book Details:
Kindle Edition, 232 pages
Published January 2nd 2014 (first published January 2nd 2012)
Original Title Shane and Trey
ASIN B0070FDJPG
Edition Language English
Series Enemies to Lovers #1

A Lucy Review: Love Around the Corner (New Milton #1.5) by Sally Malcolm

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Real life enemies, online lovers. Two lonely men, destined for each other—if only they knew it.

Alfie Carter grew up in New Milton, caring for his sick father and keeping their auto repair shop on its feet. He’s touchy about his poor education and doesn’t take kindly to snide remarks from the town’s prickly bookstore owner—no matter how cute he looks in his skinny jeans. Left to run the family business alone, Alfie spends his lonely evenings indulging his secret passion for classic fiction and chatting online with witty, romantic ‘LLB’ as they fall in love over literature.

Leo Novak’s new life as owner of Bayside Books is floundering. And he could do without the town’s gorgeous, moody mechanic holding a grudge against him after an unfortunate—and totally not his fault— encounter last Christmas. Still reeling from a bad breakup and struggling to make friends in New Milton, Leo seeks comfort in his blossoming online romance with thoughtful, bookish ‘Camaro89’. 

But as the holidays approach, ‘LLB’ and ‘Camaro89’ are planning to meet, and realities are about to collide… 

This story has one of my favorite tropes- the online lovers who are finally going to meet, only for one of them to realize his lover is, in fact, his arch enemy.  It was, quite simply, adorable.  Alfie is a mechanic, running the auto repair shop and caring for his dad.  He may not be highly educated but Alfie is smart and he loves literature.  He meets LLB, his online best friend and love, in a Jane Austen group and they share no personal information but share all the important things.  Talking to LLB makes Alfie’s life more enriched.  It might even be incredible, if it weren’t for the snobby, snotty Leo, who owns the used bookstore.

I’ll put it out there – I had a hard time warming up to Leo because of how judgy he is, even though I get it – apostrophe usage needs to be correct! They had a run in last year at the Christmas party, “No offence, Carter, but I prefer a more cerebral type.”  Alfie may have responded but it’s Leo that starts it.  “I’m sorry but I require at least a basic level of literacy, even in a hookup.”  Then he has the nerve to be upset when Alfie fires back.  Ahh, Leo.

When LLB and Camaro89 are finally going to meet, both men are so nervous, so excited and so in love.  Until Leo (LLB) shows up to see that Camaro89 is Alfie.  He is crushed and leaves, never telling Alfie what happened.  So Alfie gets stood up and is devastated.

This is truly a case of opposites attract as Leo and Alfie (who was the bigger person and reached out a friendly hand to Leo) start to spend some time together and get to know each other.  They come to realize they have so much more in common than they thought, beginning with literature.   Alfie, with his big body, his rough exterior, soft heart and love of audiobooks, made the book for me.  I seriously adored this character.  “Rather too light, and bright, and sparkling.”  Not too light – he’s just perfect.

You know the situation has to come to a head and it does, while my heart broke for Alfie.  But Leo is clever and he wants to make things right. I would recommend this bright, lovely book.

Cover art, whimsical and clever, fit the feel of the story for me.  “..light, and bright, and sparkling.”

Sales Link:  Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 117 pages
Published November 29th 2018
ASIN B07KFPF782
Edition Language English
Series New Milton #1.5

Freebie Blitz for Shane and Trey (Enemies to Lovers #1) by Anyta Sunday

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Shane and Trey

Series: Enemies to Lovers (Book 1)

Publisher: self-published

Free for a limited time only: January 20th – 24th

Length (Print & Ebook): 66000 words / 230 pages (print)

Subgenre: Light hearted, sweet, new adult gay romance

Tropes: enemies-to-lovers, sister’s boyfriend, college, roommates, forced proximity, inconvenient attraction, first time, slow burn romance

All buy links or pre-order links:

https://books2read.com/shane-and-trey

About the book:

Light hearted, sweet, new adult gay romance and coming out story of two college boys turning from enemies to lovers.

~ ~ ~

Shane is a little bit screwed, he’s just started college and stuck rooming with that bastard Trey. His sister’s boyfriend. His sister’s damn fine boyfriend. Uh-oh. This so wasn’t going to happen. But try as he might, there’s just a little too much to ignore between the two of them…

~ ~ ~

Each of the four fun & sexy gay romance novels in the “Enemies to Lovers” series can be read as a stand-alone and in any order.

Read what Anyta Sunday has to say about SHANE AND TREY:


Enemies to Lovers – who doesn’t love this trope?!?

I really enjoy romances that pair guys that can’t stand the sight of each other… but then, slowly, realize there’s more to the other… 

My “Enemies to Lovers” series is full of these stories, and right now you can grab the first book, “Shane and Trey”, for FREE!

This classic Anyta Sunday new adult gay romance has over 70 Amazon reviews and over 2000 ratings on Goodreads.

Freebie Blitz excerpt 1:

I took the letter and worked my pinkie under the flap. Who would my roomie be? I’d given a pretty detailed profile of myself in the application. The guy was surely going to have some of the same interests as me, right? I mean, they had a computer system for this stuff.

In a sudden burst of excitement and confidence I winked at June. “Jeez I hope he’s hot.”

She glanced around my room and gave a small laugh. “Well whoever he is, he’s lucky. You’d be a good roomie. So tidy.” She gazed at her letter again. “They should come with a profile picture. Or at least a last name to Google them. Shoot. I hope Sara will be nice.”

“Don’t worry, she will be. And you can always come hang with me if you don’t like her.”

“Or she doesn’t like me.”

I snorted, scanning over the letter. “Not gonna—”happen, June, I was going to finish. Until I read my soon-to-be-roomie’s name.

Trey.

I frowned, my insides sinking toward my toes. Surely there were like, loads of Trey’s, right? I mean what fucked up coincidence would it be to end up rooming with my sis’s boyfriend? Oh, please don’t let the world be that cruel.

“Well, who is it?”

I swallowed and managed a fake grin. “Funny. His name’s Trey.”

Freebie Blitz excerpt 2:

Near the end of the movie, Trey took another handful of chips. Actually, it might have been the rest. But he balanced them poorly and one fell onto the bed between my legs. In a movement so fast it may as well have blurred, Trey stuffed the chips in his mouth and shoved his hand down the tiny triangle of space in my lap.

I sucked in a hard breath, holding it as Trey moved about trying to find his chip. I should have found it for him, or moved or something, but I’d frozen. There was only one muscle able to move now, and I was doing my best to avoid that happening. Trey was still glued to the screen, like he had no real idea what he was doing. Just a voice in his head whispering for him to find the chip. That delicious crunchy chip. Fucking chip!

Finally he found it and came out, managing to brush his hand over my inner-thigh as he did. Bastard. I scowled as he brought the chip to his mouth and began nibbling it. Nibbling it. Like, what was this guy doing to me?

Was it possible to wish for scary Trey back? The Trey that made me want to be best buddies with my dictionary. Because, in all honesty, I think that might have been easier to handle.

As the credits rolled up, Trey rested a hand on my shoulder. I jumped a bit, and he met my gaze directly.

Trey spoke, dropping his hand suddenly, like before. “Guess it’s about time to get ready for that date of yours.”

Syd. Shoot! I sprung off his bed and checked the time. I had ten minutes before I was meant to meet him. I shrugged out of my T-shirt, quickly folded it, and slipped on a causal black shirt. Patting myself, I calculated what else I needed. I turned around, and Trey held my wallet out to me.

I shoved it in my pocket and found my keys, slipping those in behind my phone. “Right. I gotta run.”

Trey opened the door wide, but as I passed him, he stopped me, one hand curled around my wrist. His warm breath tickled my neck, and, in the lightest of whispers, he said, “Don’t sleep with him.”

Freebie Blitz excerpt 3:

We got inside no problem. Though it crossed my mind it was strange I was following him. I’d sort of just assumed we’d hang out. But what if he was wondering what the hell I was doing shadowing him through the door?

“Looks like it’s just us,” Trey said frowning.

Was that frown to say he also thought it was weird I was standing here when my house was five minutes away?

Trey hesitated, and then started up the stairs. “I thought maybe Mom would be up.”

“It’s late,” I said. “Maybe it’s best we don’t see her until morning.” Only a moment after the words came out, I froze on the stairs, as did Trey. Had I just suggested I’d be staying over? We’d barely hugged and now I jumped to sleeping over? Jesus. I wanted to knock my head against something hard. “I mean,” I said, knowing I should just shut up. But I couldn’t stop myself. You’re making this worse! “I’ll be seeing her on my way to pick you up tomorrow. Or not. Or—”

Trey twisted suddenly, and then I was pinned against the wall. Hot lips on mine. Hard body pressed against me, tight, solid.

I hiccupped on a breath. Like, what just happened? I stared into Trey’s gaze still so close.

“What . . . what was that?” I stammered.

Freebie Blitz excerpt 4:

I clapped the phone shut, Dad’s first words still ringing in my ears. How’s my son? Living up Saturday night, drunk and partying? And then his laugh. Raucous. Like a freaking bad omen. I shivered—couldn’t help it, and sat on the end of my bed where I’d wandered during the two minutes and twenty-nine seconds we’d spoken.

Trey stared at me, brows furrowed together, his mouth a straight line. Was he waiting for me to say something? And what? Yeah, that was my dad, we don’t get on, but you probably heard that in my tone, anyway, let’s not talk about it. I reached over and slammed the phone on my bedside table. Stupid phone. Stupid me for not having looked at the caller ID. Damn, what a way to ruin the mood.

Trey sighed and propped himself on one elbow, on his side. “You can’t choose ’em. Right?”

I mirrored his sigh, but just the way he’d said that—that touch of humor to lighten things up—it was like he knew exactly how to calm me down. The corner of my lips twitched. “If only.”

His eyes softened before his lips corresponded in a smile. “But you know who you can choose.” He beckoned me over, which was hardly necessary. As soon as the words had slipped from his tongue, I was on my way.

Like I’d wanted to do for ages, I pounced onto the mass of pillows next to Trey. He looked startled a moment before cracking up. “Fuck, for a second I thought you were doing some type of wrestling move.”

I grinned. “I was, but to the pillows. Be pretty stupid of me to do it to you. I may not be great at math, but I know my chances at survival would be slim.”

That had him laughing louder. How wonderful it was to hear: boisterous, unrestrained, hearty. Quite fulfilling—quite? No, more than that, incredibly. And just like that Dad drowned from my mind. Everything, except for Trey, simply vanished. Didn’t matter.

Lightly, I touched his chest and felt his laugh as it bubbled underneath my hand. It spread through me, highly infectious, until I was laughing too. We didn’t stop, even when we’d forgotten what was funny and stomach muscles hurt and limbs convulsed. It just felt so good. Every bout seemed to reflect our excitement and nervousness, and cracked through any awkwardness we had being together.

So. Fucking. Fine.

 

 

About Anyta Sunday:

A bit about me: I’m a big, BIG fan of slow-burn romances. I love to read and write stories with characters who slowly fall in love.

Some of my favorite tropes to read and write are: Enemies to Lovers, Friends to Lovers, Clueless Guys, Bisexual, Pansexual, Demisexual, Oblivious MCs, Everyone (Else) Can See It, Slow Burn, Love Has No Boundaries.

I write a variety of stories, Contemporary MM Romances with a good dollop of angst, Contemporary lighthearted MM Romances, and even a splash of fantasy.

My books have been translated into German, Italian, French, and Thai.

Connect with Anyta Sunday:

Author website: http://www.anytasunday.com/

Author newsletter signup: http://www.anytasunday.com/newsletter-free-e-book/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/anytasundaybooks

Twitter: https://twitter.com/anytasunday

Instagram: https://instagram.com/anytasunday

BookBub: https://bookbub.com/authors/anyta-sunday

Join our giveaway: Prize: 2 e-box sets of the “Enemies to Lovers” books!

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A Stella Review : The Christmas Lights Battle by Skylar M. Cates

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RATING 4,5 out of 5 stars

A Shelby Beach Romance.

For a single dad and his neighbor, the Christmas competition is on!

Julian Moss wants to give his children a happy Christmas. Since his divorce, Julian has no time for a social life; he’s been doing the tiring work of two parents while his cheating ex-husband dodges his responsibilities. If that isn’t stressful enough, he has to deal with his new—and ridiculously good-looking—neighbor and his noisy dogs. Christmas used to be Julian’s favorite holiday, but lately all he sees is the cost. Then Julian’s young son tells him about a Christmas lights competition with a much-needed prize.

Leo Adams is going to be alone for Christmas…again. All he’s ever wanted is to be accepted by his family, but he knows that will never happen. Deciding to focus on his career as a personal trainer, Leo develops a boot camp program on the beach, but he needs publicity. The lights competition offers Leo a way to get some free press, and if it annoys his snooty neighbor Julian—all the better.

The battle is on, and both Julian and Leo want to win. The stakes are high, the reward is great, and the neighbors are in it to win it. There’s nothing like a little competition to make Christmas at Shelby Beach extra merry and bright.

I love Christmas stories, I love romance with children, I love dogs. This new release by Skylar M Cates has all these three elements, plus something I wish I could experience one day, that is spending the Christmas holiday in a hot place. The premises were all there and I knew I was going to enjoy this title, especially because I also know how good the author can write. I wasn’t disappointed at all, everything I imagined I could get from this book was delivered, and so much more.

I easily fell into the reading, the plot and the characters were interesting and I followed them till the end with great delight. Not just Leo and Julian caught my heart, but all the other persons too, the children, Julian’s sister and mum, Leo’s friends. What started as enemies to lovers soon developed in allies to win the light contest and more both Julian and Leo wasn’t expecting, to find the love of their lives.

The plot is simple, nothing too angst, and it is exactly what I wanted on my  Kindle during Christmas time, it’s a sweet story, with some very hot scene and so much happiness to share. The first part was also funny, when the two men were still rivals, and then the moments spent with the kids warmed my heart. I loved this novel a lot. I really hope the author will give us more about these guys.

The cover art by Cate Ashwood is amazing, I adore it, the guys on it, the colors, the font, all perfect.

SALE LINKS  Amazon

BOOK DETAILS

Kindle Edition, 212 pages

Published December 5th 2018 by Skylar M. Cates: A Treading Chaos Publication

ASIN B07L5LS5B7

Edition Language English

A Lucy Review : Old Acquaintance by Annabelle Jacobs

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Rating: 3 stars out of 5

There are two sides to every story, even those buried in the past.

When Sam spots the hot guy moving in next door, he’s all for going round to introduce himself. That soon changes when it turns out his new neighbour is Charles Whitmore, an old school acquaintance. Sam didn’t like him back then, for good reason, and fifteen years haven’t altered that.

Splitting up from his long-term boyfriend means a move across the city for Charlie. As luck would have it, his immediate neighbour is a guy he went to school with, Sam Gellar. While Sam is less than welcoming, his best mate is more than happy to invite Charlie into their social circle. Whatever problem Sam has with him, Charlie resolves to get to the bottom of it because, frosty beginnings aside, Charlie likes him.

With Christmas just around the corner, fate pushes them together, and they get on much better than they ever did at school. Despite his efforts not to, Sam develops feelings for Charlie, and they appear to be reciprocated. If Sam wants to take things further, he needs to either confront Charlie about their past—a past Charlie seems to have forgotten entirely—or let it go and move on. Sam knows deep down that he can’t let it go, but can’t find the right time to bring it up either.

One of my favorite things to read is the enemies to lovers and second chance stories, so I was excited for this one.  Sam takes notice (through the window) of the hot new guy  moving in next door.  Sam’s best friend, Dave, is also watching and swears the man looks familiar. Sam is making plans to maybe go say hello when Dave figures out who the man is.  “Wanker Whitmore.  His new hot neighbor was the one person he’d hated at school.”  Doesn’t it figure?  Fifteen years ago, Charles Whitmore beat up Sam’s then best friend at school, Nigel.  To add insult to injury, Charles also has a cat, something Sam abhors.  That’s it, this is going to be a nightmare.

For his part, Charles has just broken up with someone he cared about and who cared for him.  “Even though their split had been about as amicable as it could be, it still hurt.”  They are still friends and Charles is going to miss him.  He’s also now across town from his ex, Tim, and their friends.   Charlie is hurting a bit. When he runs into Dave and Sam, he doesn’t remember them from school but he’s happy to have someone to talk to.  Dave is polite, Charlie is not.

While they get to know each other again and Sam thaws, sort of, I liked the interaction.  What kept it from being higher for me was Sam hanging on to this grudge for FIFTEEN YEARS without ever asking Charlie for his side.  The fact that Nigel turned out to be a total jerk doesn’t even weigh in with Sam. I didn’t appreciate that at all.

Sam has some concerns about Charlie and I was glad to see not only does Dave validate them but urges Sam to talk about them with Charlie.  Even better, Sam does.  Communication here was good and they acted like adults.

It’s a very low angst story with some likeable, if a little bland, characters.  It didn’t wow me like I had hoped but it was an easy, quick read. 

Cover design with ornaments and Sam, fit the bill pretty well.

Sales Links:  Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 1st edition, 147 pages
Published November 25th 2018
ASIN B07KWGRB1F
Edition Language English

A Chaos Moondrawn Review: One Step Back by Edie Danford

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 Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Asher is the good boy nerd and Joe is the bad boy jock. Joe’s mom and Asher’s dad have been dating for four years and are about to get married before everything falls apart. Eleven years later, Asher and Joe meet again at a business meeting when they realize they will be working on an account together. This might appeal to those who like the second chance trope. Through scenes and flashbacks, we get layers of their personality and history together a little bit at a time throughout the book. By the end of chapter four, I am wondering why they are not together? There is never a really good answer. Immaturity? Stubbornness? Pride? Fear of more rejection? Maybe all of the above, but if they can’t talk and work things out, they shouldn’t be together anyway.

I think this is a stylistic thing for me. It’s not that it’s badly written–it isn’t. I’m not a huge fan of flashbacks, but they are effective here. I think the alternating first person POV also works well to slowly reveal both sides of the story evenly. It may be that what I don’t click with is: there is so much inner monologue in a way that doesn’t match the style of what they each say when they talk. Even though it is supposed to be first person, the inner monologues of both characters are the same, and really the author telling us what we need to know to make the story work–most of which is complicated family histories or complicated work politics. These feel like manufacturered crisis. I do like that Joe being bisexual is never a problem or issue between them.

The angst and all consuming lust/love is kept high at all times: “…the amount of energy I’d spent thinking about him had probably caused a shift in the universe and, after coming within fifty or so miles of him, I figured we’d be thrown together by the force of cosmic rays.” It’s exhausting. But, plenty of fans love angsty OTT feelings, this style seems to be popular so you might like it. I think it would be more effective if it was used more sparingly for the dramatic moments like a crescendo. Even the sex scenes, while explicit and hot, have a lot of thinking, which banks the fire for me, leaving me distanced from what’s happening. Then, there is sex scene after sex scene after sex scene, past and present. The final complications all happen because they are making plans without talking to each other. I understood that when they were teenagers, but they are late twenties (29?) now at least. Of course, they finally work it out because this is a romance, but it felt hard won even though nothing much happens in my opinion.

The cover is by Black Jazz Designs. This is obviously supposed to be Joe. With dual POV, it seems strange that only one of them are on the cover.

Sales Links:  Amazon
Book Details:
Kindle Edition, 1st edition, 316 pages
Published October 23rd 2018 by Edie Danford
ASINB07GNY5Z8C

New Release Blitz for One Step Back by Edie Danford (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title: One Step Back

Author: Edie Danford

Publisher: Edie Danford

Release Date: October 23, 2018

Heat Level: 4 – Lots of Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 85,000 words

Genre: Romance, Enemies-to-lovers, coworkers, workplace, stepbrothers

Add to Goodreads

Synopsis

When you fall for a guy who’s about to become your stepbrother—do you listen to your heart and risk everything? Or listen to your head…and take one step back?

In high school I had a hundred reasons to steer clear of my soon-to-be-stepbrother, Joe Beneventi. He was a hothead, and I was reserved. His life was football,
mine was academics. He wanted to be out and proud, and I desperately needed to keep my orientation secret.

But when we fell in love, my heart took the wheel, and I took every risk to be with Joe. Then one horrible night our secrets shattered. Joe disappeared—wrecking our
families and breaking my heart.

Eleven years later, I landed a challenging job at a premier PR firm. And the hotshot publicist who’s been assigned to my first big account? Yep. It’s Joe.

Fate truly hates me because now Joe and I have three days to hole up in a Chicago hotel room and nail down a deal that could make or break our careers. He
keeps distracting me, but I’m too jaded to fall for sexy smiles, bedroom eyes, and his impossible-to-ignore body. Except…

I like being close to him again. A little too much. Working together 24/7 is showing me sides of Joe I’ve never seen before.

And when we touch, being together seems like the only step worth taking.

Excerpt

I take a deep breath. Gotta prepare myself for being up-close and personal with the force of nature that is Joseph Vincent Beneventi.

“Hey, Joe,” I say, my voice cracking. Not how I’d wanted to sound.

His sexy mouth curves, and I get hit with the full impact of his attention-sucking energy. It zaps across the entryway. Through the guesthouse and the five-acre yard. All of Chicagoland. The state of Illinois, the entire Midwest…

Yeah, you get the picture. Joe has <em>it</em>. Chemical hoodoo-voodoo oozes from his pores and makes you forget whatever it is you’re doing, whatever happened to be on your mind. And all you can do is stand there and stare at him. And listen to the ridiculous shit that comes out of his gorgeous mouth.

I’ve had to cope with this Joe-phenomenon for three years now, as long as his mom and my dad have been dating. Weekends and vacations together at first, and then mostly full time as of last year, after Kim and Bernie got engaged and bought this monstrosity of a property together.

Wedding-planning and “a home where we can be a family” was supposed to bring us stability. Wishful thinking, because things between my dad and Joe’s mom—between all of us, really—seem rockier than ever.

“Hey, you.” Joe leans against the door jamb, killer smile flashing.

He’s a big, glossy beast, and he lights up the night that I’ve tried to darken. I look away from his shining eyes, but his jacked chest and abs, his maybe-too-tight board shorts, his legs, his feet, aren’t any easier to ignore.

“Why didn’t you tell me you’d be home tonight?” he asks. His deep voice has a slight throb, like he’s actually hurt. “You didn’t answer my message. Any of my messages. I get why you didn’t want to show for my amazingly fucking boring graduation, but… I was hoping to hear about your plans. For the summer.”

He reaches up to brush damp hair from his face, the movement popping every muscle from shoulder to wrist. Matty actually sighs from behind me. I try not to notice how the longer hair and the scruff on his chin make Joe look hotter than his usual smoking hellfire.

He spent his senior year at a therapeutic high school here in the Chicago area and the place didn’t demand buzz-cuts the way the military school did. The longer black waves do amazing things for his cheekbones, his squared-off chin, his sin-dark eyes.

I’m supposed to be saying something. So I open my mouth and a lame excuse comes out. “I wasn’t sure about flight times. Until the last minute. Storms in New York.”

He nods, head tilting as he scrutinizes my features. He wants to believe me even though it’s obvious I’m lying. The sky had been clear when I’d jetted away from LaGuardia, my freshman year of college complete.

I’d been avoiding all contact with Joe since Christmas break. I’d figured he’d understand why I didn’t respond to any of his messages today. Or at least take the hint. <em>Hey, Joey, after I don’t answer your two-hundredth-and-seventieth voicemail, maybe that means I don’t want to communicate with you. </em>But Joe is thick in more ways than one.

His dark eyes get warmer as they take me in, the dimple in his right cheek popping. His thumb traces the sand-dollar tattoo under his left nipple, a move I’m sure he’s making unconsciously. I do the same thing sometimes. I have a matching tattoo; we’d gotten them in Mexico during Christmas vacation two years ago. The ’rents had been very confused when both of us suddenly wore rash guards 24/7 for the rest of the break. Joe had come up with a BS-but-brilliant excuse about stingray sightings and the angle of the sun and the chemicals in sunscreen lotion killing off coral reefs.

And, okay. I’m not being fair. Joe isn’t thick. He’s probably smarter than me. He just doesn’t know how to rein in a lot of the bad shit that constantly roams his head. I’ve actually tried to help him figure out some stuff, given him some pointers about how to focus and prioritize—

There’s a crashing noise from the pool area. More shit breaking.

“Fuck,” he mutters, looking over his shoulder.

“You better get back there. Broken glass. Blood. Nastiness. It’s all gonna happen.”

He sighs—a shudder wracking his six-five frame. “Should’ve never invited anyone over.” His smile is crooked. “Your fault. I wouldn’t have had to get up to shenanigans with Bran and Troy if I’d known you’d be here tonight.”

And, there it is.

The reason why he always, <em>always </em>manages to piss me off. I’m not responsible for him. Not responsible for his feelings, for his actions. I refuse to be.

“Not my fault,” I say, my voice cracking again, damn it. I take a step backward, my hand pulling the door closed.

“Asher, come on. You know I didn’t mean it like that—”

I shut the door in his face. Then I pull the blinds closed, blocking out his beauty, blocking out his hurt expression. Maturity can go fuck itself, because literally closing off Joe from my senses will be the only way I can survive the summer.

“Wow,” Matty says.

“Yeah,” I agree.

#

It’s probably a few hours later when something jolts me awake. It’s Joe looming over me. I must’ve passed out after Matty left. I’m sprawled on the big chaise in the guesthouse’s living room, Joe standing so close his knees are touching the cushion’s edge.

There’s only one light on, a yellow glow coming from the glass-fronted cabinet that displays Joe’s shell collection. It creates weird, streaky shadows across his super-defined chest and abs.

His shorts are dry now, not as tight on his thighs or his package, but I can see he’s erect, a righteous bulge that’s impossible to miss. And, when I look up into his face, my gaze snags on his parted lips, his heavy-lidded eyes .

The house is quiet. No more party outside. When Joe inhales suddenly, I can feel the sharpness of his breath in my own lungs.

I sit, swinging my legs to the side of the chaise, planting my feet on either side of his. He takes my face in his hands. His fingers are warm, familiar, his touch so tender it makes me want to cry.

And, God, when our gazes connect, and I immediately fall into that dark brown and gold I dream about, tears clog my throat, for real.

“Ash,” he whispers, his voice so hoarse I can barely hear it. The pad of his thumb passes over my lower lip. I lick away the taste of him and he sighs. “Damn, I missed you.”

I nod. I can’t speak. It hurts.

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Meet the Author

Edie lives in Vermont with her husband, two sons, and random creatures that might or might not be pets. She loves libraries (where she’s found play, work, and love since she was a kid), long walks (unless ice is involved), lewd language (in the right context), luscious romance (of any variety), and alliteration.

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In the Spotlight Tour and Giveaway: Running Blind (Havoc #2) by S.E. Jakes

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Running Blind (Havoc #2) by S.E. Jakes
Riptide Publishing
Cover Art: L.C. Chase

Sales Links:  Riptide Publishing | Amazon

About Running Blind

An ATF agent who lives for danger finds what he craves from an outlaw biker.

It’s impossible for a one-percenter motorcycle club member to simply walk away—and no one knows that better than undercover agent Bram, who’s almost killed for trying. His cover isn’t blown—yet—but it’s only a matter of time. The Heathens won’t be satisfied until he’s dead, so he decides to lay low and heal.

But when his younger brother’s disappearance throws a wrench into his plan, Bram ends up in Shades Run, a town ruled by the notorious Havoc MC. In less than twenty-four hours, Bram finds himself at the mercy of Sweet, Havoc’s president, as he throws himself into the undercover role of a lifetime: himself. A man who’s never belonged anywhere, and who will do anything to protect his younger brother.

When finding Linc seems impossible, Bram is torn between Sweet, Linc, and revealing his true identities . . . and there appears to be no way out. Once again, he risks it all trying to save it all. Only this time he’s got no backup to save him if he falls.

 

Running Blind is available from Riptide.
And don’t miss book one in the Havoc series, Running Wild!

About SE Jakes

SE Jakes writes m/m romance. She believes in happy endings and fighting for what you want in both fiction and real life. She lives in New York with her family, and most days, she can be found happily writing (in bed). No really…

SE Jakes is the alter ego of New York Times bestselling paranormal and romantic suspense author Stephanie Tyler.

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Giveaway

To celebrate the release of Running Blind, one lucky person will win an ecopy of Running Wild, the first book in the Havoc series! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on September 29, 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 Review: Love at First Hate (Porthkennack #11) by J.L. Merrow

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Another visit to Porthkennack on the Cornwall coast in England, this time guided by the inimitable style of JL Merrow, who not only lends British authenticity to the tale, but who has a wonderful, understated sense of humor that creates multiple moments of quiet laughter throughout the story. Number eleven in this series that’s written by various British authors, this is one of three that focus on the Roscarrock family—founding members of the community, complete with the snobbery that goes with the bragging rights.

Bran is the patriarch, a man in his thirties, of diminutive stature, who’s lived in the closet all his adult life. His father drilled responsibility and the ideals of duty to their legacy into him since childhood, and though he is a twin, his sister knew it would be Bran who took over the estate when their father passed on. Now he’s got a reputation the community of being tight-fisted, uncaring, and uninterested in the working man. He’s creating an exhibition—a tribute to Edward of Woodstock, the Black Prince—and he’s doing it to bring attention to the town, but he’s also doing it to pay homage to his hero, and he’s a bit prejudiced in that regard.

Sam Ferreira holds a doctoral degree and has curator experience and is the first person Bran’s brother Jory (One Under) thinks of when Bran is attacked and hospitalized and needs someone to take over the exhibition. Sam jumps at the chance, after assuring that Jory knows about the disgrace he suffered at his university post which resulted in him being fired. He’s doing a great job with the exhibit and is removing that slight prejudice that seems to make the Black Prince look like a hero, when Bran is released from the hospital and finds out what Sam is up to. And then the sparks fly.

A great enemies-to-lovers story, this truly was first hate before the two decided to compromise and get to know one another. After that, the sparks were flying for a different reason, and it looked like Bran might finally decide that the closet is too small to live in. Of course, that’s when he finds out what happened at Sam’s previous job and creates such a ruckus about it that Sam flees both the job and their budding relationship.

JL Merrow wrote the first book in this series, Wake Up Call, and though I know this is not the last, this is certainly one of the best. The whole series is terrific, but these tales of the Roscarrock family have been among my favorites. Now I’m hoping we’ll get one about the illegitimate son of the family, Devon Thompson, the boy that Bran’s twin, Bea, gave birth to and who was turned away, rejected and dejected, when he found out who is mother is. That would be top of my must-buy list. In any event, in a roundabout way, I’m trying to say that I highly recommend this series, and most definitely this story. Yes, it can be read as a standalone but I think that at least reading One Under would make this more meaningful.

~~~~~

The cover art by Garrett Leigh features two men, who resemble the descriptions of Bran and Sam, set against a dark gray stormy background which represents the Cornwall coast setting of the series.

Sales:  Riptide Publishing | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 325 pages
Expected publication: September 3rd 2018 by Riptide Publishing
ISBN139781626498327
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series Porthkennack #11

Connected stories by JL Merrow in this series:

Wake Up Call

One Under

Love at First Hate