A Chaos Moondrawn Review : Hitting Black Ice (Heart and Haven #1) by Heloise West

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

For the first nine chapters, the reader is in Hunter’s POV as he navigates his crush on Shawn, a colleague at the hospital he works at. He is beset by guilt over the death of his boyfriend. Hunter’s drinking and PTSD are a source of worry for his friends and family, who are all in medical services and law enforcement. Life changing events happen fast, allowing Hunter and Shawn to break down some barriers and bond more quickly than would otherwise happen. The reader is thrown into this weird drama because Hunter’s emotions, doubts, and fears are like a roller coaster. Add in Shawn’s PTSD and fear, and neither of them are operating on all cylinders; having said that, the beginning could have flowed more smoothly. I found the dialogue and conversations strange. There are characters thrown in who are underutilized. Luckily, it gets better.

When the magnetic FBI agent Truman shows up, I was intrigued. I don’t think the sexual tension works quite as well as I would have liked to better sell this character. Relying on Hunter as a bit of a cop chaser isn’t enough for this to really shine as it could have. Who doesn’t like a bit of will they, won’t they? By chapter ten when the POV switches to Shawn, aka Alex, I was hooked into the story intellectually and wanted to know the why of everything. The flashback helps make sense of how everyone got to where they are. Between the betrayals, criminals, and dangerous ex-lovers, Hunter and Alex make perfect sense together.

There could be a debate about cheating in this book. It’s something I know some people can’t stand, so I’m warning you. In my opinion, it is all completely understandable: they weren’t really together yet (maybe), and they were on a break (sort of). It made sense for the character as written because that’s one of his coping mechanisms. One of the best things about this book is that the three major characters are complex. They make good and bad decisions; they do good and bad things.

Even with the unexpected turns, this whole book is careening towards a final confrontation. Here is where everything would have been more intense if Hunter’s family had been completely fleshed out beforehand. Also, the feeble attempt at any sort of redemption for the bad guy (he did this awful thing, but he had a really good reason) didn’t work for me. I am happy it was just a sentence thrown in and not given legs. This is still where I became more emotionally hooked into the story for Hunter and Alex. I would call this a HFN. Everyone is changed by the events and I would like to see what happens next with these characters.

The cover art by Natasha Snow fits the story well. I am going to assume this is Truman.

Sales Links:  NineStar Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook
Published August 19th 2019 by NineStar Press (first published December 1st 2014)
ISBN 139781951057145
Edition Language English
Series Heart and Haven #1

Action/Suspense And Romance? Check Out the New Release Blitz for Hitting Black Ice (Heart and Haven #1) by Heloise West (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title: Hitting Black Ice

Series: Heart and Haven, Book One

Author: Heloise West

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: August 19. 2019

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 75100

Genre: Contemporary, LGBT, FBI, double agents, action/suspense, medical profession, contemporary, action, suspense, theft, gay

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Synopsis

Shawn is on the run from the law and love, to protect himself and anyone else involved. Until he meets Hunter, and he no longer wants to run.

ER physician’s assistant Hunter guards his heart carefully, but that doesn’t stop him from falling for the temp front desk clerk. He keeps his distance from relationships for a good reason but just can’t help himself when it comes to Shawn.

Forced into a hostage situation, buried passions explode in the aftermath, and sex in the supply closet brings both their hearts back to life. But as they explore their relationship, the past catches up with Shawn.

FBI agent Nick Truman has finally found his man, and when Shawn escapes, he focuses his attention on Hunter. Will Shawn sacrifice himself to save Hunter from the man who framed him for murder?

Excerpt

Hitting Black Ice
Heloise West © 2019
All Rights Reserved

Hunter had a crush, a big one.

In the cafeteria late one night on his break at the hospital, he sipped at a coffee and focused on Shawn, the night desk clerk for the ER, sitting a few tables over. With long black hair tied back neatly and eyes of faded denim blue, Shawn had a lean body, his face long and bony. Tonight, he wore a brown turtleneck under a white-and-green-striped button-down. The rolled sleeves revealed muscled forearms dusted with golden hair, as mismatched to the dyed black hair as his pale eyebrows and lashes. A silver skull ring and silver studs in his ears appeared at odds with the lanyard and dangling ID card.

Hunter drank more coffee, barely tasting it. He’d tried to talk himself out of it, but he couldn’t squirm away from the attraction. When he’d walked past the registration desk to the water cooler—again—or hung out there a moment too long with an empty clipboard in his hands, he caught those tiny flicks of interest in Shawn’s eyes. Hunter must have given away his interest, because the nurses smirked at his pretended obliviousness.

He bent to the not-very-engrossing crossword in the newspaper, imagining what tattoo might lie beneath Shawn’s cool demeanor. Maybe gargoyle wings across a broad and muscled back, or a snake wrapped around his thigh. Something more esoteric—a phrase in Latin, like Hunter’s own primum non nocere, or a bit of wisdom in Chinese characters. Or an old-school Aerosmith tat? Hunter glanced up from filling in the little squares with black ink blocks. He could have sworn Shawn hurriedly dropped his attention down to the paperback in his hands. He turned the page and shot a second glance at Hunter. Gazes locked and jumped away.

Shit!

Heat rushed through Hunter all at once and climbed up to his face. Too aware of the black-haired man with biceps to die for and long legs to—well, never mind. Taking a boner back to the ER was not a good idea.

He had touched those biceps once when he gave Shawn a flu shot back in the fall. Shawn had taken the needle without a flinch.

Shawn stood with his tray in hand and walked toward the trash container behind Hunter. The back of his neck prickled as if Shawn breathed on the little hairs there. Hunter picked up his coffee cup once more but tasted only the dregs.

Good thing he’d decided to become a physician’s assistant and not an actor. He didn’t talk to Shawn unless he had to, the worst giveaway of all. No shy bones in his body, yet he feared conversation led to more conversation, to flirting, and the next thing he knew, they’d be going on a date, Hunter falling head over heels, and then the asshole—

Stop. You know how the story ends.

Behind him, Shawn cleared his throat. Hunter didn’t turn around. Shawn returned to his seat, picked up the paperback, and slumped down into the chair with a scowl.

Marisa slipped into the seat across the table from Hunter, and he smiled.

“I’m onto you,” she whispered.

“Uh-huh.” Hunter moved his body slightly so he could still see Shawn around her.

“You’ve been taking late lunch for three weeks now. I know why—or who.” She smiled, a small Hispanic woman with curly chestnut hair framing her heart-shaped face and hazel eyes. If Hunter weren’t himself, and she weren’t married, he thought he’d be with her. Her lips always gleamed with gloss, and her eyes snapped with fire when she got pissy. He loved it, most days, even when she aimed for him.

She leaned toward him. “Shawn, right?” Her eyes took on a warning snap now and dared him to contradict her.

“I don’t even know if he’s gay.” Which wasn’t true, but he knew better than to deny it to her face.

She sipped at her coffee with her gaze on him. Her mouth left lipstick smiles on the rim of the cup. “There’s something different about this one. And he’s lovely to look at.”

“Lovely.” Hunter snorted. Dead sexy Shawn. Hunter spied him out at the clubs twice now but avoided him there too. Shawn undulated like liquid fire across the dance floor.

“Talk to him, honey.”

“Please. Don’t.” He must have spoken louder than he meant to. Shawn glanced at them and away again.

“You’re letting Jerry’s death run your life.”

Hunter slapped the magazine down. “I’m too sober for this conversation.”

“It’s like he’s locked your heart away.”

Mindful of the potential audience, he lowered his voice. “You’re jumping way ahead here.”

She shook her head. “I know you. You have so much love to give, and I hate to see you suffer.”

Her probing questions about Hunter’s past, family, present situation were all familiar ground. Friendship he could manage; he recognized it when it was offered to him. He’d been out since he was nine. Always been out was what he told people. She was one of the few friends to whom he could confide nearly everything. Jerry’s addictions had killed him, but his family and friends blamed Hunter, and on a deeper emotional level, he blamed himself too. Marisa knew this, and it worried her. She wanted him to find love and move on, be part of a couple. She knew, but she didn’t understand.

He wasn’t abstinent now, not at twenty-five, and never got involved with anyone beyond one- and two-night stands. Hunter didn’t want to take responsibility for another heart.

When the tide of emotion and memory washed through him and left him able to speak again, he said, “I’m not suffering here.” He kept much of the darkness at bay with whiskey and anonymous sex. Who needed Prozac with a warm, muscled body in the bed?

“Stagnating,” Marisa said.

“Maintaining.” It had been a far prettier day in May, eight months ago now, when he walked out of the ER at Boston General to Jerry waiting for him in the parking lot with a gun.

“Ask him out on a date. An old-fashioned date where, at the end of the night, you kiss him good night.”

“No!”

“Don’t get angry.” She patted his hand.

He whipped it away. “Too late.”

Marisa sighed. “I’ll make it up to you. Toni, Anna, and I are going to Twisters tonight. I’ll buy you a drink.”

Hunter gathered up his tray. He liked the ER crowd. They always had fun when they got together in off-work hours, and he agreed to meet her at Twisters before hitting the clubs.

When his shift was over early in the morning, he drove back to his apartment and crawled into bed as the day glowed behind the blackout curtains. The end of the week had left him exhausted, and his sleep was blessedly dreamless.

Purchase

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Meet the Author

Heloise West, when not hunched over the keyboard plotting love and mayhem, dreams about moving to a villa in Tuscany. She loves history, mysteries, and romance. She travels and gardens with her partner of fifteen years, and their home overflows with books, cats, art, and red wine. Find Heloise on Facebook

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Cover Reveal for His Dark Reflection (Heart and Haven #3) by Heloise West (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title: His Dark Reflection
Author: Heloise West
Series: Heart and Haven #3
Release Date: September 12th 2017
Genre: Gay Romance, mystery

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BLURB

Disgraced FBI agent Nick Truman has failed to save his sister, held hostage by a drug cartel until he could give them Alex Crow, who eluded him. His epic downfall lands him in witness protection, where he plays by the rules and keeps to himself. But the murder of his neighbor brings danger to his door. He unexpectedly finds himself the champion of innocents and helplessly attracted to the homicide detective in charge of the case.

This can’t end well.

Homicide Detective Hank Axelrod is good at digging out secrets, maybe because he hides a big one of his own. He also suspects his husband has one foot out of the door of their marriage and the specter of single life looms unpleasantly on the horizon.

A murder resembling another brings Nick into his world, a man who claims to be a mystery writer looking for a real life resource. Hank’s instincts say he’s more than that, and he’s rarely wrong.

Torn between the errant soon-to-be-ex husband and the distracting, sexy stranger, Hank needs to focus all his attention on his murder case before he becomes the next victim.

Pre-Order: Loose ID

Find Heart and Haven series on Goodreads

EXCERPT

It was different when he’d wanted information from Nick. Hank wanted to confide in Nick, like with the partner he used to have before he got stuck with Burgess. Like Nick knew what he was talking about—could be trusted.

“Are you a cop?”

Nick touched his fingers to his mouth. He must have needed a cigarette, if the telltale scent of tobacco was any indication. “I answered that one already. Nope.”

That nope was annoying. “Fed? PI? Security?” Hank threw out a few more. “Reporter? Work for the criminal court?”

“I drive limos,” Nick said with a languid shrug. Glancing over his shoulder at the impatient date, he held up two fingers.

“Oh, a fan, are you? Watch CSI, NCIS—a lookie-loo?”

By the tightening of his mouth into a sneer, that pissed Nick off. “I’m no cop wannabe. I don’t watch the idiot box.”

Well, shit. The pain in Nick St. Cloud’s brown eyes was real. Deep. Hank gave him a minute to recover, watching him rub his wrists, then naked arms. It gave Hank a thrill, as if he could feel the man’s heated skin on his own.

“Don’t be a bastard, Detective.”

“Well? I can run a background check on you in a heartbeat.”

Nick tried to hide it, but a flare of panic made his pupils dilate. “And if I say I’m not that extremely guilty guy who hangs around helping the know-nothing cops, you’ll believe me?”

“You’re something. What is it, I wonder?”

Don’t tease the cat, Hank.

“Okay.” A bead of sweat dripped past a pale white scar at his hairline, the only imperfection Hank could see. “I’m a writer, not a journalist. I mean, I’m a mystery writer.”

“Published?”

“Nope, not yet. So maybe you can be a resource, you know? I can do a ride-along with you or something.” Nick looked away, back toward Probably and gave him a nod. Probably picked up his sweater from the back of the chair and stood.

“Sure,” Hank agreed.

“Wait, what—really?”

Hank held still a moment, beer glass halfway to his mouth, unsure what he was seeing in Nick’s intelligent eyes. Hope? Excitement? Fear? “We can talk about procedure—I’ve got some good stories. But I don’t know about the ride-along at this point. My partner’s a prick.”

“But we can meet…and talk.” Nick stood and dug into his pocket for his wallet.

“I’ve got this.” Hank waved it away. “You want the book to be accurate, right? It’s good PR too.”

Nick’s smile curled Hank’s toes.

“On me next time. We can meet here or wherever.” Nick hovered, as if Hank had held out something sweet to him, and he was afraid to take it.

Probably cleared his throat loudly.

“Have a good night, Nick,” Hank said. “We’ll talk. You have my number.”

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About the Author

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Heloise West, when not hunched over the keyboard plotting love and mayhem, dreams about moving to a villa in Tuscany. She loves history, mysteries, and romance of all flavors. She travels and gardens with her partner of thirteen years, and their home overflows with books, cats, art, and red wine.

Links: Blog | Website | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Tumblr | Goodreads

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