A Caryn Review: Orderly Affair (Hearts & Health #6) by DJ Jamison

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Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Book 6 in the Hearts and Health series, and I have to say that I am impressed that the author has managed to create truly new characters for each book!  I am enjoying the variety, and though I definitely have some couples and books I prefer more than others (this is one of the ones I liked best) I am now actively looking for more sequels.  Ashe, Kansas, is a small community, but it is big enough to hold the gay/bi community that the author has created so far, and hopefully continue to grow.  This book acknowledges how that community has started to loosely come together, in a way that does not detract at all from this couple’s narrative.

Ian Connolly is a hospital orderly who was briefly introduced at the very end of Surprise Delivery when he walked in to a janitor’s closet to find Eric blowing Caspar.  This book picks up very shortly afterwards with Ian still dwelling on the scene and how erotic it felt, and finally deciding to act on his long suppressed attraction to men.  He’s 37, divorced for a few years after a 16 year marriage, and very unsure of when or even how to start dating men, especially when he was not sure he wanted to come out to his conservative family and his teenage son.  When a hookup app showed another guy right there in the hospital, he gathered his courage and responded to the message.

Callum Price felt trapped:  supporting his disabled and unappreciative mother in a house that was falling down around him, supporting his deadbeat ex-boyfriend who didn’t move out when they broke up because his mother liked having him around, working at a job that he enjoyed but couldn’t advance in because he could never save up the money to finish school.  When a hot guy showed up on Thrust (I don’t know if that’s a real hookup app, but I love the name!), Callum thought nothing of giving up his lunch break to meet with the guy in a deserted corner of the hospital.  What he didn’t expect, however, was for Ian to keep pursuing him – from repeat hookups, to friends with benefits, and finally to an exclusive relationship.  Which would have been great, except that Ian was closeted.

When I first started reading MM romance, it seemed like all of the stories involved closeted men, and coming out was always part of the conflict in the plot.  It’s one of the things that drew me to MM in the first place.  It’s certainly not as ubiquitous now – which is a good thing because to me it means that being queer is starting to become accepted as completely normal like it should be – but I do still like to see how characters navigate the process.  In this case, Ian at least knows that he wants to be out, doesn’t have any internalized homophobia, but is just scared of how it will change his relationship with his family and his son.  Callum was a more complicated character – he struggled with his desire to prove to everyone that he didn’t need help, and his tendency to just give in to terrible situations to avoid conflict, and the whole crazy scenario of living with his mother and his ex-boyfriend didn’t seem so unbelievable after all.  I really rooted for him, and was thrilled when he started to gain more confidence in himself and take charge of his life.  Ian’s family, and especially his son Liam, were wonderful secondary characters that really showed another side of Ian.  I also appreciated the fact that Ian was happy to be an orderly – it’s a necessary job, though distinctly unglamorous, and there is nothing wrong with not wanting a college degree and pursuing the typical materialistic “American Dream”.

Cover art by Lucas Soltow is probably my least favorite in the series so far.  Nice abs on the model, but nothing else about him was similar to descriptions of Ian, and where is cutie pie Callum?

Sales Link:  Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 1 edition, 245 pages
Published April 24th 2018 by DJ Jamison

A Caryn Review: Surprise Delivery (Hearts & Health #5) by DJ Jamison

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Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

This is the 5th book in the Hearts and Health series, and I am so invested in it now!  Once again, it is a stand-alone that does have cameos of characters in the earlier books, and I appreciated the look forward to Paul and Zane, who had previously been my least favorite couple in the series.  I don’t know how long the author can continue the series before she runs out of gay men in Ashe’s medical community, but I am hoping that a few more will move into town so the series can keep going!

Eric Holtz is the administrator of the hospital where many of the characters work.  In the previous books, he was introduced as a workaholic who was a little cool and distant, but still a good guy.  He’d been lonely after his long term partner left him a few years ago, due in great part to the tremendous number of hours he put in at the hospital.  He recognized that his job didn’t really give him much satisfaction any longer, but he didn’t know what else to do with his life and just continued on with it.

When his 16 year old niece showed up unexpectedly on his doorstep and announced that she was pregnant and needed his help, he didn’t even hesitate before he agreed, even though her parents had cut him out of Olivia’s life long ago because of his sexuality.  Her presence made him realize how empty his house and his life had been, and he started looking forward to the change she and her “peanut” would bring to his existence.  It was all good until Olivia told him who she’d chosen to be her obstetrician.

Dr. Caspar Rollins worked at the hospital for several years, and Eric had a crush on him from the beginning – a crush that “turned Eric into a blushing, wide-eyed idiot” to the point that he went out of his way to avoid Caspar.  When Eric accompanied Olivia to her first appointment (which led to some amusing and understandably awkward assumptions before their relationship was clarified) Caspar decided that breaking down Eric’s aloof facade was going to be his next challenge.  Caspar was all about challenges and excitement, but not about commitment.

While I did enjoy the contrast between the two men – Eric older, more settled and focussed on finding a serious relationship, Caspar younger and looking for thrills and challenges – the connection sometimes felt a little bit forced.  Caspar was endlessly analyzing his thoughts about his first boyfriend, and the guilt that kept him from moving forward, and it felt overdone to me.  I thought with all that scrutiny he should have come to his epiphanies a lot earlier than he actually did.  Eric was more believable and consistent, and though I thought more than once that he gave Caspar too many chances, it was clear that was just his natural generosity and not an attempt to drag the story out artificially.  I was also dissatisfied with the outcome of Olivia’s situation, but I think that was just a matter of personal preference rather than any defect in the story itself.  Eric’s final career decision, however, was perfect.

Although I did not like this book as much as some of the others in the series, I am still looking forward to the next one, as well as rereading them.

Cover art by Lucas Soltow features models that fit well with the character descriptions, although I would not have expected Eric to be hotter than Caspar….

Sales Links:  Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 1 edition, 222 pages
Published March 22nd 2018 by DJ Jamison
Original Title Surprise Delivery
ASINB07BJ9CWVD
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesHearts and Health #5

 

A Caryn Review: Room for Recovery (Hearts and Health #4) by D.J. Jamison

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Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

This is the fourth book in the Hearts and Health series, and as far as I’m concerned, is far and away the best so far.  Like the others in the series, it can be read as a stand-alone, and once again several other characters from the previous books make cameo appearances.  Ashe is, after all, a small community!

The characters in this book are much younger than the others in the series:  Beau is an 18 year old high school senior, and Wade is a 19 year old who is redoing some of his senior classes because he failed the first time around.  They are unofficial cousins, with families who have been tied together by marriage and circumstance.  Wade’s story is really kind of tragic – he came out to his father, a successful surgeon, when he was 15, and though he was expecting full acceptance, what he got was a kind of half-hearted “maybe you’re just not sure yet” warning.  And the next day, with no explanation, his father killed himself.

So I guess I should stop here and explain why this book means so much to me.  I am also in the medical field, and the rate of suicide amongst physicians is higher than in the general populace.  It’s a very high stress career, and some specialties, like surgery, are worse than others.  Unfortunately, it is also more difficult for many physicians to seek help, because of censure by state medical boards, licensing committees, and so forth.  It’s a catch-22:  you’re more likely to be suicidal, and less likely to seek help.  I am also a survivor of suicide in my own family, and I appreciated all the misplaced guilt that Wade experienced.  Most suicides don’t leave notes, and that means those left behind must try to come up with their own reasons as to why it happened, and in a situation so fraught with guilt, those reasons don’t have to make sense.  From my own unfortunate experience, I have to say the author got it all right, and it was heartbreaking, but also skillfully and compassionately done.

After his father’s death, Wade (of course) changed, going from a happy teenager with good grades, to a withdrawn, moody young man who didn’t seem to care about anything at all.  He had supportive family, but because he felt his confession caused or contributed to his father’s suicide, he was unable to believe he had worth, and just didn’t care about his future.  He was finally realizing that he had to turn his life around when he was repeating his senior year, and that is when circumstances threw him in with Beau again.  Beau had always crushed on Wade, and Wade knew that, but he was trying to completely suppress any gay feeling or attraction, and in the past that meant ignoring Beau, even when their families got together.  Beau is a good kid, a “real goody two-shoes”, who gets good grades and volunteers at the hospital, and he hasn’t given up on Wade even when it seems that everyone else has.

The narrative of the two of them coming together, gradually opening up, learning more about themselves and each other and falling in love because of it, was heartwarming and at the same time very real.  The part that I think I most appreciated is that this was not a case of true love curing mental illness that I’ve seen done in less educated books.  Wade was already at a point of self-realization before he got involved with Beau, and when he considered coming out – as much to himself as others – he needed professional support to do so.  While Beau may have been a bit of a catalyst, he was not the reason for Wade’s recovery.

I truly enjoyed reading this book – despite the painful reminders of events in my own life – and I highly recommend it.  I’m not only looking forward to the next in the series, I think I’m going to go back and reread the others!

Cover art by Lucas Soltow is nice, matches with the other covers in the series.

Sales Links:: Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 1 edition, 250 pages
Published February 26th 2018 by DJ Jamison
Original Title Room for Recovery
ASIN B07B3Z3MPZ
Edition Language English

Release Blitz – Room For Recovery (Hearts & Health #4) by DJ Jamison (excerpt and giveaway)

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Length: 77,000 words approx.
 
Hearts & Health Series
 
Volume 1 Books 1-3 – Universal Buy Link
 
Blurb
 

Blurb

Beau James isn’t out, but he’s not fooling anyone. When he’s cornered by two bullies, he’s rescued by none other than the broody Wade Ritter, who he’s crushed on from afar. Despite their family connection, Wade has resisted all of Beau’s attempts at friendship — until now. His protective streak gives Beau an opportunity to get past Wade’s prickly exterior.


Wade considers Beau to be a quasi-cousin. He’s been careful to keep Beau in that box because he is too tempting to a gay boy determined to remain in the closet after his coming out went all wrong. But when Wade sees bullies harassing Beau, he offers to help. Little does he know this small crack in the walls around his heart is the opening Beau needs to move in and change Wade’s life.


After years off the rails, Wade realizes there’s room for recovery. If he can face hard truths about his sexuality and love himself, he might be able to love Beau too.


Room for Recovery is part of the Hearts and Health series. It contains cameo appearances by other characters in the series, but it can be read as a standalone.

Excerpt
 

Beau James was trashed. Eyes glazed, words slurred, inhibitions gone, full-on trashed.


He balanced on the orange-and-brown plaid couch in Barry Gleason’s basement, a cup of beer sloshing in one hand as he tried to dance to rap blaring through Barry’s speakers. Tried to dance, as in, couldn’t dance to save his life. It was painful to watch — Beau thrust his slender hips completely off-beat — but it was also hard to look away.


It was hot in the small room with so many bodies crowding in, and Beau’s curly hair was frizzing into a halo around his flushed face. A halo for the angel, Wade thought sarcastically. A sheen of sweat made Beau look as if he were glowing. Or maybe that was the huge smile on his face, beaming his care-free, drunken joy to everyone in the room.


Even Wade wasn’t immune.


That smile did squirrely things to Wade’s insides. It always had, which was why he worked so hard to make that smile disappear when they were together.


He’d known Beau was gay from the moment they met three years before. With puppy dog eyes full of adoration, Beau’s crush on Wade hadn’t been subtle. Wade tried to keep his distance — because annoying or not, Beau was cute — but that was easier said than done when their families were intertwined. Wade saw Beau for Sunday dinners with the James family, for Thanksgiving and Christmas and birthdays in between.


And now, as the drunken star of Barry Gleason’s party.


Barry’s parents let kids drink, so long as none of them drove, so his house was the go-to party spot. Wade didn’t often come to these parties, but Anna had dragged him out and promptly disappeared to gossip with her friends on the cheerleading squad. He tried not to feel too relieved about that. He wasn’t in the mood to have an armful of girlfriend.


Glancing around, he noticed a couple of guys holding up phones, taking pictures or videos. Beau was going to be embarrassed come Monday morning.


“Take it off,” someone called.


“Strip show!”


Beau laughed and fluttered his eyelashes. “I don’t get naked with a guy before the second date!”


“Knew he was gay,” Jeremy Krantz said. “Fucking gross.”


Wade was afraid things might get ugly if Beau didn’t get home soon. He had perfected the art of avoiding Beau, so he searched the room for someone who might know him. Beau mostly hung with the same two friends. Wade scanned the room and spotted Beau’s friend, Nathan something, near the television, where a video game was under way.


Nathan was tall, with dark, messy hair and skinny as a skeleton. Wade mostly remembered because of his height-to-weight ratio. Taller even than Wade, he towered over Beau when they stood side-by-side. Usually a cute, freckled blond girl stood between them, but he didn’t see her.


Nathan held a game controller, and Wade realized he was one of the players. Two others were seated in gamer chairs low to the ground.


“Dude!” a familiar voice said. “I didn’t know you could do that!”


Wade wasn’t surprised to see Shane tucked away in the gamer’s corner. His best friend was addicted to video games. He was more surprised to see Anna in the other chair, fumbling with a remote.


“How do you fire? I forgot which button to hit.”


Shane leaned over and nudged her index finger onto the A button. His hand lingered on hers a fraction longer than necessary, and Wade narrowed his eyes. Was his best friend trying to make a move on his girlfriend?


He wasn’t jealous, exactly. He’d been relieved not to have Anna all over him tonight. It was more the principle of the matter. He shelved his irritation for the moment and turned to Beau’s friend.


“Hey, man, uh … you hang with Beau, right? You’re Nathan?”


The guy was focused on the game, and it took him a minute to respond.


“I go by Nate.” He spared a look at Wade, then did a double-take. “Why?”


There was a hint of suspicion to his voice that made Wade wonder what Beau had said about him.


“Uh, well, Beau’s pretty smashed.”


Nathan hit the pause button, and Anna protested loudly, before she noticed Wade standing there. She smiled brightly and jumped up.


“Hey, you. I thought I’d lost you to a love affair with the wall.”


Wade rolled his eyes. She thought she was funny. She was, which was part of her appeal. If only the rest of her appealed to him. Try as he might, he couldn’t get excited about the thought of the make-out session they’d have before he dropped her off at home later.


“Beau’s wasted?” Nate said, sounding incredulous. He turned, taking in the room, and his eyes popped wide. “Holy crap!”


He rushed off, and Wade watched him intercept a guy trying to hand Beau yet another beer. There was laughter and boo’s as Nate coaxed Beau off the sofa and led him toward the door. Wade couldn’t hear their words, but he could tell Nate was pissed as he flipped off someone and pulled a stumbling Beau out the door.


Disaster averted.


Anna wrapped a hand around his bicep and leaned close. “I’m done playing games. You want to get out of here?”


Wade cut a glance to Shane, who stared at the television, despite the game still sitting on pause. He seemed to be avoiding watching them together, and Wade felt a fleeting sense of guilt. He knew, even before he saw them together tonight, that Shane was into Anna. But Shane had the hots for everyone. Wade didn’t take it seriously. Now, he wondered.


“You want to come out for a burger, Shane?” he asked.


“I can’t drive,” Shane said. “I drank too much.”


“I’ll drive. We can get your car tomorrow.”


“Okay.” Shane unfolded himself from the chair. “If you’re sure I’m not going to be in the way?”


“Come with us,” Anna said easily enough, which was another reason Wade liked her. She was easy-going and genuinely a nice person. “It’ll be fun. Wade’s pretty to look at, but he’s not much of a conversationalist.”


“Fuck you say?” Wade said, though he wasn’t really offended. When she looked as if she was about to apologize, he added, “I’m not pretty.”


Anna and Shane busted up laughing, and Wade headed for the door.


Before they got in the car, Shane pulled him aside. “You’re sure I’m not a third wheel? You could just take me home.”


“Would you stop? I’m pretty sure we both like you enough to hang out for a burger before we tear off our clothes.”


Shane rolled his eyes. “Thanks so much for your patience.”


“No problem. What are friends for?” Wade joked.


But for all their playful banter, Wade was beginning to think that if there was a third wheel in their little trio, it might actually be him.

About The Author

DJ Jamison worked in newsrooms for more than 10 years, which helped tremendously when she began her series centered on The Ashe Sentinel, a fictional small-town newspaper in Kansas. She lives in the Midwest with her husband, two sons and three glow-in-the-dark fish.

Facebook Author Page
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Release Blitz: Urgent Care (Hearts & Health #3) by DJ Jamison (excerpt and giveaway)

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Buy Links:

Amazon US: http://amzn.to/2p85yZO

Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/2pAdy9v



Length: 61,500 words


Hearts And Health Series


Heart Trouble (Book #1) Amazon US | Amazon UK
Bedside Manner (Book #2) Amazon US | Amazon UK


Blurb

Nursing student Xavier James is shocked to run into the first man to ever break his heart while at a gay club. His ex is sexier than ever, but Xavier is not going down that road again … only, when they end up working together at an urgent-care clinic, his willpower will be tested.

Trent Cavendish made a huge mistake at age 18 when he walked away from his first love. Twelve years later, Trent is rattled when his friend suddenly dies. He takes a hard look at his life, realizing how empty it has become. Determined to re-evaluate his priorities and make amends, he returns to his hometown to win Xavier’s forgiveness and maybe even his heart.

Times have changed. Instead of the sweet but tame boyfriend he left behind, he finds a smoking hot man dressed in bits of lace and silk. Trent’s good intentions turn to lust, and love isn’t far behind. But Xavier is wary. The villain of his memories is proving to be a decent guy, but has he really changed or is Xavier just a new goal to chase?


Excerpt


Xavier wore a pair of tight white shorts that practically glowed against his skin tone and an electric blue sleeveless top that showcased his muscles. He added just a touch of make-up, nothing too over-the-top, and his hair was unrestrained for once, spilling to his shoulders and brushing bared skin.

The expressions coming his way, a mix of confused and aroused, made Xavier grin.

His soft feminine touches emphasized his natural masculinity, and people weren’t always sure what to make of him.

He stopped at the bar to order a drink. In the mirror overhead, he watched a man approach. He was tall, lean and casually sexy in jeans and a T-shirt that hugged his thighs and chest in all the right ways. He had dark hair, which had always been Xavier’s type. He kind of looked like Xavier’s roommate at first glance, which was a bit weird, but Zane was a sexy fucker. No denying that.

This is promising. I might even get 8 hours’ sleep tonight unless he’s a total beast in the sack.

Xavier looked down as the man neared, not wanting to seem too eager. He felt the warmth of another body behind him and the press of a hand against his back. Slowly, the stranger’s hand slid up his spine to the nape of his neck, sending tingles through him.

This was one presumptuous fucker, but it was hot.

A breath whispered against his ear. “You are a goddamned treasure, you know that?”

Xavier couldn’t help it. He snorted a laugh. “You lay it on thick.”

The man gripped his hair, tugging Xavier’s head back. “I just go after what I want, and I don’t apologize for it.”

The words should have been sexy. But Xavier’s head tilted back, his gaze slid over, and he saw the face of the guy manhandling him.

“You sure don’t,” he said flatly.

Trent Cavendish’s expression froze. He looked stunned, an expression Xavier hadn’t seen in more than a decade. He hadn’t seen any expression on the man’s face since he left so many years ago.

His surprise faded quickly, replaced with lust as his eyes scanned Xavier’s body.

“Fuck, baby,” Trent whispered, his voice rough.

Fuck was right. Just his luck he’d reel in his ex-boyfriend from high school. The one who’d torn out his heart and stomped on it — and insulted his family and his principles while he was at it.

This excerpt was edited for length and does not match the content of the book exactly.

Author Bio


DJ Jamison worked in newsrooms for more than 10 years, which helped tremendously when she began her series centered on The Ashe Sentinel, a fictional small-town newspaper in Kansas. She lives in the Midwest with her husband, two sons and three glow-in-the-dark fish.

Facebook Author Page

FB group
Mailing list!
Follow me on Twitter
Find me on Goodreads
Check out my Book Bub profile!

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A Caryn Review : Bedside Manner (Hearts & Health #1) by D.J. Jamison

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Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

I had to pick this book to review just for the title.  I love books with medical characters, or medical settings.  The book was well researched (although I disagree to some extent with how conservatively the author interpreted the ethics of doctor/patient romantic involvement) and well written.  The conflicts were plausible, as were the resolutions.  I just never really connected to either of the characters as much as I would have liked.

What was interesting in this book is that it’s a little bit of a coming out story for both Paul and Zane.  Paul is a 39 year old ER physician who has been struggling with his sexuality for years, mainly by living in denial.  He got divorced and came out as a gay man at the hospital where he worked, but his lone attempt at trying to date was disastrous.  He was awkward, insecure, and his attraction to younger men made him feel like a creeper.  When Zane came through the ER after a severe beating from his mother’s homophobic boyfriend, Paul found himself unable to stop thinking about him.

Zane has his own scars – physically and mentally – from coming out.  He was rejected by his father before the beating, and although he had friends providing support and a place to live, he was still feeling pretty adrift.  Paul showed up unexpectedly, and was just what Zane needed to get him out of the funk he fell in to after the assault.  The two men complemented each other – in his professional life Paul was mature and sure of himself as you would expect from a 39 year old, but inexperienced and hesitant when it came to dating and living as a gay man.  Zane was impulsive and temperamental, with little thought to consequences of his actions as you would expect from a young college student, but he was much more comfortable with being gay, and flirted confidently.  They both had the possibility of being exactly what the other needed, if they could get past some real obstacles.  Paul was suspended from his job due to a complaint about professional misconduct, and that created a whole host of current and potential future problems.

I was a little frustrated several times because I felt there was some back story that wasn’t explained as well as it should have been.  For instance, how did Zane end up living with his professor after the beating?  Why was Gage so antagonistic towards Paul?  Why did the person bring the complaint against Paul?  I found out what that was all about in the author’s note at the end of the book – although Bedside Manner is the first book in a series, it is a spin-off of a book in a previous series by this author (Heart Trouble) which told Gage and Ben’s story prior to the events of this book, and I am sure would have filled up all of the holes that I noticed.  So that was a little annoying.  I’m sure if I had read the earlier books that I would have connected to the characters much better.  So maybe I’ll have to go back and read the others…

Cover art by Lucas Soltow fits pretty well with what I imagined Zane would look like.

Sales Links

Book Details:

ebook, 241 pages
Published March 7th 2017 by DJ Jamison at KDP
ISBN139781370601899
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesHearts & Health #1