A Lucy Review: Irises in the Snow by Isabelle Adler

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Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

It’s Christmas, and Justin’s life is fraying at the edges. The family business he took over instead of going to art school is bleeding money, and his boyfriend of seven months cheated on him. Under these circumstances, family gatherings can be rough, but Justin believes he has everything under control. That is, until Elliot, his former best friend (and the first guy to ever break his heart) unexpectedly shows up at the holiday dinner party.

With both of them still nursing the wounds of the past, it might take a real Christmas miracle for Justin and Elliot to learn to appreciate the art of second chances.

Justin is the best of sons, to the detriment of himself sometimes.  He has been trying his best to make his family’s hardware store a success but the arrival of a Big Box store (Tool Depot) just a little way from their store has hit the finances hard.  He doesn’t want to spoil the holidays so he puts on his best faux happy face. Add into this his boyfriend Mark was caught “I literally walked in on you with your pants around your ankles and some guy’s mouth around your d**k” and, well, it’s a rough holiday season.

For the icing on the cake he walks into his parent’s holiday dinner to find Elliot, the boy who had been his best friend and the man who had broken his heart, is there on visit from California, where he runs a successful art gallery.  He and Justin were supposed to go to art school together but when Justin’s father was diagnosed with cancer Justin stayed and Elliott left.

I was thoroughly in like with Justin but Elliott brought my rating down somewhat.  I understand continuing to follow your dream even when your boyfriend can’t, but to cut him off completely?  If nothing else, they had been best friends for years and Justin deserved better.  “It was selfish of me, I know.  I got everything I wanted, and I took it.”   I get that, but “You never called or responded to any of my messages. You ignored me on social media…”  He did that on purpose, “I thought it’d be easier that way…I figured at some point you’d give up.”  Do you do that to a friend?  Even if you want out of the romantic angle, do you just cut off your best friend who’s father is going through cancer treatment? When Elliott’s parents are killed in an accident and Justin tries to reach out, again, “The truth is, I was avoiding you.”  I’m not sure how we are supposed to view Elliott but I’ll be honest – I thought Justin deserved to be treated better.   

I very much appreciated they didn’t fall immediately into bed and the magic penis solved all problems.  The ex-boyfriend showing up helped with that but Justin himself didn’t think it was the best idea and I agreed. Elliott’s ham-handed attempt at a second chance just made me want to shake him.  “Mark’s betrayal had stung but this breach of trust cut so much deeper.” I am a fan of second chance stories and I was very glad Justin gets to have his HEA but I’m never going to be a fangirl of Elliott. 

This is a new author for me and I enjoyed the writing very much.  Characters were well fleshed out, even given the short length of the story (74 pages).  The connection between the story and the title was perfection.

The cover by Natasha Snow, two men facing each other as background to a single vibrant iris, fits the story perfectly.

Sales Links:

NineStar Press | Amazon | Smashwords | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

Book Details:

ebook
Published November 4th 2019 by Nine Star Press
ISBN 139781951057695
URL https://ninestarpress.com/product/irises-in-the-snow/

Don’t Miss Out On the Release Blitz for Irises in the Snow by Isabelle Adler (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title: Irises in the Snow

Author: Isabelle Adler

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: November 4, 2019

Heat Level: 2 – Fade to Black Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 25300

Genre: Contemporary, Anxiety, artist, childhood friends, Christmas, contemporary, family drama, holiday, second chances, small town

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Synopsis

It’s Christmas, and Justin’s life is fraying at the edges. The family business he took over instead of going to art school is bleeding money, and his boyfriend of seven months cheated on him. Under these circumstances, family gatherings can be rough, but Justin believes he has everything under control. That is, until Elliot, his former best friend (and the first guy to ever break his heart) unexpectedly shows up at the holiday dinner party.

With both of them still nursing the wounds of the past, it might take a real Christmas miracle for Justin and Elliot to learn to appreciate the art of second chances.

Excerpt

Irises in the Snow
Isabelle Adler © 2019
All Rights Reserved

The Rowel family home greeted Justin with familiar smells of cinnamon cake and fresh pine. In his mind, these scents had always been associated with the holiday season and long evenings spent around the dinner table or playing Scrabble in front of the fire. They were enough to ease some of the ache in Justin’s chest, softening his mood a tiny fraction.

“Justin!” His father clapped him on the shoulder and pulled him into a hug, which Justin carefully returned. “I’m glad you could finally make it.”

Despite the long remission, his father still appeared frail—or so it seemed to Justin, who, like most children, had grown up with the illusion his father was invincible until the universe proved him wrong.

“Of course,” Justin said. “You know me; I can’t say no to mom’s cooking.”

His father raised his eyebrow skeptically, undoubtedly recalling the string of last-minute cancellations and half-hearted excuses for not coming over in the last few weeks.

A familiar wave of guilt washed over Justin. With everything that had been going on, he knew he’d be hard-pressed to withstand his parents’ well-meaning inquiries into his personal life and into the state of the family business, which had become Justin’s sole responsibility. He couldn’t bring himself to tell them just how badly both those things were going.

He cranked up his smile to a new level of dissimulation, but thankfully, his mother emerged from the kitchen before his dad could challenge his statement.

His mother wiped her hands on her apron and reached up to plant kisses on Justin’s cheeks.

“Everybody is already here,” she told Justin as she led him by the arm into the living room as if he’d forgotten the way. “I love it when the house is full.” Her tone was a touch wistful as she gave his arm a gentle squeeze before returning to the kitchen.

Justin supposed having them all together was a rare occurrence these days. He lived in a one-room apartment above their hardware store, and his sister Trish had recently moved in with her fiancé. Nowadays, only the holidays presented an opportunity for Kelly Rowel to gather all of her loved ones, and, despite having to close the shop early on Monday to attend the day-before-Christmas-Eve family gathering, Justin was glad he could do something to make his mom happy. But as soon as he entered the brightly lit living room, he came to a screeching halt.

A fire already crackled merrily behind the grate. Huge red and white socks adorned with hand-embroidered names hung off the mantelpiece, decorated with a fake holly arrangement making its yearly appearance in the Rowel household. The TV showed a romantic comedy set in the Swiss Alps, as far as Justin could tell at a cursory glance. His sister Trish, her fiancé Dave, and Aunt Marnie sat glued to the movie while Uncle Tony fiddled with his iPhone.

None of them, however, had the dubious honor of grabbing Justin’s attention. That belonged to the young man wearing trendy gold-rimmed glasses and the blandest Christmas sweater in existence, sitting ramrod-straight in Dad’s old armchair and seemingly engrossed in Anne Hathaway’s foreign love affair.

No way. What was he doing here?

Justin didn’t know how long he stood in the doorway, transfixed, until his father, coming up behind him, gave him a slight nudge.

“Look who I have here!” he announced, and everybody, including the young man and Uncle Tony, raised their heads and turned his way.

“Hey, Justin!” Trish got up to meet him and give him a vigorous hug.

They sure were an affectionate lot, he thought absently as he hugged her back. Once, all that warmth was what kept him going. Now, it seemed almost…superfluous.

“Hi, Trish,” Justin said when she let up, and nodded to the rest. “Aunt Marnie, Uncle Tony, Dave. Elliot.”

“Oh, right.” Trish finally seemed to recall there was someone else present. “Mom invited Elliot to spend the holiday with us. You remember Elliot?”

Justin nodded curtly, unable to tear his eyes away from their guest. He definitely remembered Elliot Turner.

The man in question stood up, vacating his seat for Justin’s dad, and extended his hand in greeting.

“It’s nice to see you again,” he said.

Elliot’s voice was deeper, more mature than the last time Justin had spoken to him. Somehow, he seemed taller too. His gray eyes behind the shiny glasses regarded him seriously.

“Sure,” Justin said politely, shaking his hand. “It’s been a while.”

“Five years,” Elliot said.

“I was sorry to hear about your parents,” Justin said.

An awkward silence, accentuated by the chatter from the TV, settled around the living room at the mention of the tragedy. Trish and Aunt Marnie exchanged a nervous look. Really, did they expect Justin to just ignore what had happened?

When he’d heard of the terrible car accident last year, he tried calling Elliot in Los Angeles, but Elliot never picked up the phone or responded to Justin’s email in which he offered his condolences. That, above anything else, made it perfectly clear Justin was no longer welcome in his life.

So what was he doing back, standing in Justin’s parents’ living room?

“Thank you,” Elliot said gravely.

Suddenly, Justin was aware he was still holding Elliot’s hand and let it go, taking an involuntary step back. He wasn’t prepared for all the half-repressed memories dragged to the surface by Elliot’s touch—and he certainly wasn’t prepared to deal with them in front of his notoriously meddlesome, if well-meaning, extended family.

Elliot stepped away as well, dropping his eyes. The sudden loss of contact felt like…well, a loss.

“Is Mark coming?” Trish asked, peering behind Justin’s shoulder as if expecting to find his boyfriend loitering in the corridor.

“No,” he said curtly.

“Oh, that’s too bad. Maybe he’ll join us tomorrow, then?”

“I don’t think so. How are your studies going?” he asked Trish, desperately trying to divert her focus elsewhere.

“I’m doing great. Passed all my midterms.”

“With flying colors,” Dave said.

He rose from his seat to shake Justin’s hand as Elliot stepped aside to make room for him and plopped back down, taking over half the couch in a casual sprawl. Dave was a big guy, tall and built like a quarterback. Trish was taller than Justin by an inch, and nearly as broad in the shoulders, but Dave made her seem petite in comparison.

“That’s terrific,” Justin said, his voice warming.

His plan of going to art school had gone up in flames and then slowly fizzled over the years as other considerations took precedence over the illusions of youth, but at least it hadn’t all been for nothing. With her athletics scholarship, Trish had been accepted to UIndy, and as long as she got to achieve that dream, he was happy to do anything he could to support her.

“I can’t believe you got even paler, though,” Trish said, casting a critical eye over him. “And thinner. Are you auditioning for the role of the Ghost of Christmas Past?”

“You’re the one to talk, Trish,” Aunt Marnie observed primly. “That’s the trouble with young people today. You can’t be bothered to take care of yourselves. Eating sandwiches in front of the TV instead of sitting down for a proper meal, chugging all those soft drinks, always on your phones instead of having a nice long conversation over the dinner table.”

She glanced disapprovingly at Uncle Tony as she said it. Justin couldn’t tell whether her dissatisfaction stemmed from his being effectively absent from the proceedings, or that his preoccupation with his own mobile device undermined her point of it being the affliction of solely the younger generation.

Justin rolled his eyes and caught a glimpse of Elliot doing the same. He pretended not to notice.

“Oh, shush, Marnie.” Justin’s dad, John, tsked in annoyance at his sister-in-law as he settled comfortably in his shabby armchair. “Leave the girl alone. The last thing she needs is your dieting advice.”

“Just so you know, I eat healthier than all of you,” Trish said, sitting back down on the sofa beside her fiancé. Thankfully, she wasn’t ruffled by her aunt’s comment. Unlike Justin, she had always boasted a sunny disposition and staunchly refused to let bullies of any variety upset her. “And I drink nothing but fresh juice and water. Carbonated for special occasions.”

Dave snickered and petted her arm lovingly.

“Yes. Well. You must be tired, dear,” Aunt Marnie said, changing the subject and addressing Justin. “Why don’t you sit, put your feet up for a bit? Now, are you sure your young man isn’t coming? I had such a nice chat with him when you brought him over for Thanksgiving. Did you know—”

“I’m sure,” Justin interrupted her. Elliot’s gaze was like a laser beam trained on him, but he refused to meet it head on. “Actually, I think I’ll go see if Mom needs any help in the kitchen.”

Justin beat a hasty retreat before they could all start bickering again—and before he had to explain his current heartache in front of the man who was the first to ever break it.

Purchase

NineStar Press | Amazon | Smashwords | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

Meet the Author

A voracious reader from the age of five, Isabelle Adler has always dreamed of one day putting her own stories into writing. She loves traveling, art, and science, and finds inspiration in all of these. Her favorite genres include sci-fi, fantasy, and historical adventure. She also firmly believes in the unlimited powers of imagination and caffeine.

Website | Twitter

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A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Arctic Wild (Frozen Hearts #2) by Annabeth Albert

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Oh, my! This book has so many of my favorite tropes that I really enjoyed it immensely. I’d tag it age gap, May-December, slow burn, men with children, family drama, Alaska, hurt-comfort, and second chances. Plus, it had a sneak peek at past characters Griff and River to let us know how they are doing.

As the story opens, Reuben is irritated when he learns his friends aren’t going to make the flight to Alaska to begin the vacation they’d insisted he take to destress from his high-powered corporate law office. Add to his irritation the fact that his ex-wife needs an immediate answer about buying out his share in their law firm and he’s not a happy man when he boards the tiny plane in Alaska to begin a solo tour with a chatty tour operator named Toby.

Toby has been providing for his ailing father and younger sister for years so he’s no stranger to responsibility. And he’s flown this trip many, many times over his favorite areas in Alaska and is happy to give personal attention to his solo traveler. Too bad the silver fox is grumpy and straight, or so he thinks. But halfway through the trip, a sudden storm causes them to crash, and it’s Reuben who rescues Toby before their plane catches fire. 

I loved the way the author took both men out of their comfort zones and allowed them to have new experiences and new perspectives—aha moments, so to speak. One of my favorites came at the end of the book when both men acknowledge that the summer they spent together has been all about second chances and what they plan to do with those chances. I’m glad the author didn’t make the crash site the entire setting of the story and, instead, gave them the perfect excuse to spend a few months together and infuse a few other interesting characters into the mix.

Both characters are well-developed and engaging, and added to the chemistry between Reuben and Toby, we have a 14-year-old teen daughter for Reuben who was a spot-on perfect example of an annoying teen girl of that age. (Been there. Had that!) Watching her slowly gravitate toward her father, and he to her, was heartwarming. Meanwhile, Toby had to learn to rely on help from others, giving him a new perspective on how his father has felt for years. Both men changed over the time they spent together during Toby’s recuperation, and the changes had a ripple effect on their families.

When they allowed themselves to live their dreams, the impossible became possible. Set against the background of the most majestic state I’ve ever visited, how could I not love this story? I highly recommend this to lovers of MM romance, especially those who love the tags I mention at the beginning of this review.

The cover predominantly features glorious Alaska scenery with a top pane that holds a partial shot of the MCs’ faces.

Sales Links: Kobo | Barnes & NobleAmazon

Book Details:

ebook
Expected publication: June 3rd 2019 by Carina Press
ISBN 1488051275 (ISBN13: 9781488051272)
Edition Language English
Series Frozen Hearts :

Arctic Sun

Arctic Wild

Arctic Heat coming soon

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Arctic Wild (Frozen Hearts #2) by Annabeth Albert

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Oh, my! This book has so many of my favorite tropes that I really enjoyed it immensely. I’d tag it age gap, May-December, slow burn, men with children, family drama, Alaska, hurt-comfort, and second chances. Plus, it had a sneak peek at past characters Griff and River to let us know how they are doing.

As the story opens, Reuben is irritated when he learns his friends aren’t going to make the flight to Alaska to begin the vacation they’d insisted he take to destress from his high-powered corporate law office. Add to his irritation the fact that his ex-wife needs an immediate answer about buying out his share in their law firm and he’s not a happy man when he boards the tiny plane in Alaska to begin a solo tour with a chatty tour operator named Toby.

Toby has been providing for his ailing father and younger sister for years so he’s no stranger to responsibility. And he’s flown this trip many, many times over his favorite areas in Alaska and is happy to give personal attention to his solo traveler. Too bad the silver fox is grumpy and straight, or so he thinks. But halfway through the trip, a sudden storm causes them to crash, and it’s Reuben who rescues Toby before their plane catches fire. 

I loved the way the author took both men out of their comfort zones and allowed them to have new experiences and new perspectives—aha moments, so to speak. One of my favorites came at the end of the book when both men acknowledge that the summer they spent together has been all about second chances and what they plan to do with those chances. I’m glad the author didn’t make the crash site the entire setting of the story and, instead, gave them the perfect excuse to spend a few months together and infuse a few other interesting characters into the mix.

Both characters are well-developed and engaging, and added to the chemistry between Reuben and Toby, we have a 14-year-old teen daughter for Reuben who was a spot-on perfect example of an annoying teen girl of that age. (Been there. Had that!) Watching her slowly gravitate toward her father, and he to her, was heartwarming. Meanwhile, Toby had to learn to rely on help from others, giving him a new perspective on how his father has felt for years. Both men changed over the time they spent together during Toby’s recuperation, and the changes had a ripple effect on their families.

When they allowed themselves to live their dreams, the impossible became possible. Set against the background of the most majestic state I’ve ever visited, how could I not love this story? I highly recommend this to lovers of MM romance, especially those who love the tags I mention at the beginning of this review.

The cover predominantly features glorious Alaska scenery with a top pane that holds a partial shot of the MCs’ faces.

Sales Links: Kobo | Barnes & NobleAmazon

Book Details:

ebook
Expected publication: June 3rd 2019 by Carina Press
ISBN 1488051275 (ISBN13: 9781488051272)
Edition Language English
Series Frozen Hearts :

Arctic Sun

Arctic Wild

Arctic Heat coming soon

A Jeri Review : Mr. Frosty Pants (Home for the Holidays #1) by Leta Blake

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

 

This was a little bit of a surprise. Not often are Christmas themed books full length. We get a lot of shorts and novellas. So even though the time span (not including epilogue) is less than two weeks, it is packed full enough for a regular sized book.

It almost seems inconsequential that it takes place during Christmas. The holiday brought Casey home to Knoxville for the first time in almost 4 years. He went away to NYU and his parents visit him there. But he left behind his best friend and serious crush, also the boy from the proverbial wrong side of the tracks.
Joel is not thrilled with Casey just showing up at his store. And he had every right to be pissed. His best friend just ghosted him almost 4 years ago. But Joel is a broken man. He grew up mostly without a mother and with a homophobic abusive father. And now that he bought out the family business after his father had a stroke, he is barely making ends meet and honestly doesn’t know how to let someone love him.
Joel just broke my heart. He had a little bit of a martyr complex going on. He didn’t HAVE to buy out the business. He doesn’t HAVE to deliver breakfast to his father everyday. But at the same time I get that he was holding onto the tiny bit of family he had. Equating family with love, although his father didn’t seem to love him at all.
Casey could have been a stuck up snob. Rich parents who finance everything, wanting for nothing. But he really was a down to earth guy. Even what he wanted to do as a career was fairly down to earth. It didn’t come across as fake- just sincere.
I think my only real sticking point is that they were so mature. I mean, they were 22 year old guys. Casey had his own apartment in NYC. Even with the responsibility that Joel shouldered, you would think a 22 year old kid would pop out once in a while. But no. They really had basically mature discussions about life and love. And while they laughed some- they weren’t kids. And at 22, you are still a kid in some ways.
Best friends to lovers, second chances, a demisexual virgin…..and a slobbering dog at Christmas. This is a solid 4 stars for me.
Cover art: Wicked Smart Designs.  This cover delivers.  Christmas, a  kissing couple, everything but the dog.  It needed that.
Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UKExclusive to Amazon and Available to Borrow in Kindle Unlimited
Book Details:
Kindle Edition, 1st edition, 273 pages
Published November 7th 2018 by Leta Blake Books
ASIN B07KB2BX82
Edition Language English
Series Home for the Holidays #1 setting Tennessee (United States)

Blitz Tour for ‘In Over Our Heads’ by CJane Elliott (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title:  In Over Our Heads

Series: Stories from the Shore

Author: CJane Elliott

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Release Date: October 16, 2017

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 67,000

Genre: Romance, Second Chances, Vacation

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Synopsis

Anthony Vallen is the life of any party. Full of energy and fun, Anthony adores romance and enjoys playing matchmaker for his friends while dancing the night away with a series of Mr. Right Nows. But he’s given up on his own happy ending. A bad breakup years ago made him a secret cynic about love… until he runs into Walter Elkins—the boy who broke his teenaged heart—on a scuba-diving vacation in Key West. Suddenly, Anthony’s reasons for shunning romance no longer hold much water. Being with Walter again forces Anthony to get serious—about himself, his worth, and his heart’s desires.

Brilliant and self-contained, scientist Walter Elkins prefers deep thoughts to other people. He’s a good boss and a model citizen, but Walter doesn’t let anyone get close. After a tragedy drove him out of his science career, Walter landed in Key West and became owner of a dive shop and a bar. Things are fine until Anthony Vallen—the only person who ever penetrated his defenses—shows up, and Walter’s calm, controlled life capsizes. He and Anthony have a second chance for love, but Walter must confront the old fears that threaten to torpedo their happiness.

Excerpt

The door burst open, and Sophia sailed in with my morning cappuccino. She was humming under her breath and had that telltale postsex glow about her. I tried not to hate her too much.

“What’re you doing in here with me, doll? Don’t you have a sexy dive instructor to entertain?”

“She had to leave early.” Sophia handed me the mug. “She’s taking her group out on the ocean dive too, and she had to go to Back Bay to get the boat ready.”

I took a restorative sip of cappuccino. “Ahh. Well, I hope you didn’t tire her out too much last night. Or vice versa.” I winked at her, even though I didn’t feel very winky.

“Guilty on both our parts, I’m afraid.” Sophia smirked, then perched on the side of my bed. “Can we talk more about what’s going on with you and Walter?”

“Going on?” I blinked and buried my nose in the cup. “I mean, I told you guys last night. What more do you need to know?”

“Whatever it’ll take to help you and him figure yourselves out, because second chances like this don’t come around often.”

“God, not you too. You and Jonny need to start a group for incurable romantics.”

She straightened, her dark eyes snapping with intensity. “Caro! You’re the one who talks about destiny. This is your destiny!”

I sighed. She was so over the top sometimes. Must be her Italian blood. “Maybe my destiny is to be reminded to never let a guy walk over me the way Walter did.”

“I…. Look, Marco has a good point, and I agree with him that Walter needs to apologize. It was awful of him to drop out of sight. You so don’t deserve to be treated that way.”

“Right.” I put down my cup, having lost my taste for the cappuccino.

“But you two were barely out of high school. So young! People change. It certainly doesn’t seem in character with how he is now.”

“Doesn’t it?”

“Well, I mean, Walter seems so conscientious and thoughtful. Yes, a little gruff, but not someone who would knowingly hurt you. But maybe… safety seems to be a huge concern to him. And maybe he couldn’t stand that you almost drowned, and he couldn’t face you after that? Did he ever explain it to you?”

“No. I begged him to tell me why, and all he would say is ‘I’m not good for you. I don’t want to hurt you anymore.’ I guess the safety thing is the most plausible explanation. Because other than that, it’s bizarre that he would walk away and throw away a great thing. We were….” I paused, hit by an unexpected wave of grief. “Damn it, Soph, we were really good together. Yes, we were young, but we complemented each other so well. Like, I brought him out of his shell, and he calmed me down. And he took me seriously. He listened to me in a way no one but Jonny ever had before.” My eyes betrayed me by welling up.

“Oh, Anthony. That’s lovely. I can tell he still does. Take you seriously, I mean. He hasn’t been able to stop staring at you the whole time we’ve been around him. It’s obvious he still cares.”

Sophia’s words threw little daggers at my silly heart. Jonathan had said essentially the same thing. If they both thought Walter still cared for me, maybe it was true. And God, if it was true, I was in deep waters. I knew I should stiffen my backbone and armor myself with outrage. But I couldn’t. Still hung up on Walter Elkins? Guilty as charged. Convicted. Lock me up and throw away the key, because I had no hope of rehabilitation. I put my face in my hands for a moment. What a hopeless sentimental fool!

Luckily for my humiliation factor, Marco came barging in with a brilliant grin. “All right, darlings! Today’s the day! Scuba diving or bust! Get ready for the adventure of your lives.” He stopped short and peered at me. “You okay?”

Pulling myself together, I returned his smile. “Fabulous, doll! Off to the reefs we go to swim with the fishies!”

 

Purchase

Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Celebrate the release of In Over Our Heads with a special sale: All the Way to Shore is on sale for 99 cents at Amazon through October 24 with that price matched at the Dreamspinner Press store October 16-24.

Meet the Author

After years of hearing characters chatting away in her head, CJane Elliott finally decided to put them on paper and hasn’t looked back since. A psychotherapist by training, CJane enjoys writing sexy, passionate stories that also explore the human psyche. CJane has traveled all over North America for work and her characters are travelers, too, traveling down into their own depths to find what they need to get to the happy ending.

CJane is an ardent supporter of LGBTQ equality and is particularly fond of coming out stories. In her spare time, CJane can be found dancing, listening to music, or watching old movies. Her husband and son support her writing habit by staying out of the way when they see her hunched over, staring intensely at her laptop.

CJane is the author of the award-winning Serpentine Series, New Adult contemporary novels set at the University of Virginia. Serpentine Walls was a 2014 Rainbow Awards finalist, Aidan’s Journey was a 2015 EPIC Awards finalist, and Sex, Love, and Videogames won first place in the New Adult category in the 2016 Swirl Awards and first place in Contemporary Fiction in the 2017 EPIC eBook Awards.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | eMail | Dreamspinner | Amazon

 

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A Jeri Recent Release Review: Living Out Loud by Nyrae Dawn & Christina Lee

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Rating: 4 Stars out of 5

After being raised in a super religious family and town, Ben finally strikes out on his own in San Francisco. Even though he is finally free to be himself, the conditioning he received to “turn him straight” makes it so that he cannot really be free. After garnering the courage to reach out to his childhood friend, Xavier, they meet up. Ben is in awe of how Xavier is his authentic self, unafraid of what anyone thinks of him. So he hatches a plan…..
So, wow. This book is a co-written work between Christina Lee and Nyrae Dawn. Nyrae Dawn is the young adult author name of Riley Hart. So being a half written Nyrae work, I did not expect it to be as hot as it was. HOT.
I pretty much adored Xavier. People who don’t care what anyone else thinks about them, living however they want, I just think is amazing. And even though he lived that way, he still was afraid of falling in love. If anyone should have been open to love, it was Xavier. But he is open to sex.
Ben was cute. His shyness, not only with Xavier, but in life, is a bit heartbreaking but also understandable with his upbringing.
Xavier and Ben together were swoony. They really challenged each other. Xavier challenging Ben to grow sexually and Ben challenging Xavier to grow emotionally. Throughout the book you can see why they were so easily best friends as children. They just come together so easily in all ways. They constantly lift each other up, make each other laugh and are just generally comfortable with each other. And they seem more comfortable with themselves when they are together.
Friends to lovers, second chances, a quirky older woman (another fave of mine. because I may or may not be a quirky 40 something woman), two authors I adore. Recipe for a delicious book.
Cover Design by X-Potion Designs. I seriously wanted to lick the cover.
Sales Links:  Amazon
Book Details:
Kindle Edition, 250 pages
Published September 6th 2017 by Christina Lee and Nyrae Dawn
ASINB075FRXF2Z

The Angel of 13th Street is Back in Fallen Angel by Eden Winters (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title:  Fallen Angel

Series: The Angel of 13th Street 2

Author: Eden Winters

Publisher: Rocky Ridge Books

Release Date: 2/27/17

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 63,000 words

Genre: Romance, Age difference, urban, rent boys, redemption, second chances

Add to Goodreads

Synopsis

Who can save the rescuer of lost souls?

For ten years ex-rent boy Noah Everett has fought the good fight, offering second chances to those still in the life. Now he’s cracking under the stress. What began as a two-man mission is now going corporate, meaning rules, regulations and inexperienced volunteers needing guidance in a field Noah makes up as he goes along. Who can he turn to when his mentor’s strength is all but gone and his lover is leaving for college—possibly for good?

Four years at State with a full ride scholarship will launch Jeremy Kincaid’s future, but his present includes Noah, Doc, and the closest he’s ever had to a family. And a meth addict who’s become Jeremy’s own personal mission.

An attack sends Noah spinning out of control. Jeremy has to find the way to reach Noah before the man he knows and loves disappears forever.

Excerpt

Noah slammed a case of beer down in the cooler and fished his ringing cell phone out of his pocket. Nobody called his personal phone at this time of day without good reason.  “Noah Everett.”

“Noah? Hey, man. It’s Chip.”

Noah emerged from the cooler, passed through the bar and mouthed, “I’ll be back,” to Mary behind the bar. He stepped out the back door of The Twelfth Street Bar and Grill and plunked down onto a dry spot on the stoop. The rain had finally stopped, raising the humidity to sweltering levels. If this call didn’t need privacy he’d have stayed in the cooler.

“Have you thought any more about what we discussed?” Given the phone call, the caller probably had. Trouble was, thinking alone didn’t seem to be getting them anywhere.

The casual, “Yeah,” didn’t bode well.

“And?” Fuck.

A long silence followed. “Well, my… my boyfriend isn’t a bad man. I mean, he treats me good and stuff, it’s just that I don’t like… I don’t like—”

“You don’t like him pimping you out to other men,” Noah finished for Chip.

Inside his bar, sixty-seven notches decorated a doorframe, signifying sixty-seven rent boys who’d left prostitution behind and started over someplace else.

Had Doc Cook carved a notch somewhere when he’d pulled Noah from the gutter, dusted him off, and pointed him in the right direction?

What the hell made Chip stay with the user? Noah should’ve notched him in at sixty-eight by now. Instead Chip sat on a fence, dreaming of a better life and fooling himself into believing he could have it here.

 

An exasperated huff sounded in Noah’s ear. “Yeah. Things were cool until he started arranging dates for me.”

Arranging dates? Noah ran his fingers through his short hair and blew out a breath. Motherfucking pimps. More like pimples on the ass of mankind.

Chip continued trying to talk himself out of seeing reason. “I dunno, maybe he’ll stop. I mean, I know he loves me.”

Loves me? Chip had strange ideas of love. He loves me, and we’re only doing this until we have enough money to go away and have it be just us. Noah had said those same words to himself once.

 

But “us” never happened.

Empty promises had sustained him through sleazy meetings that had started with come-ons and a handful of cash and ended with Noah grateful when johns did him in a hotel room so he could scrub himself raw after they left.

And some johns had scared the fuck out of him.

Chip would be a hot commodity in certain markets. Cute, in an innocent, boy-next-door kind of way, easily influenced, with an inborn willingness to please, and, worse yet, gullible, much as Noah had been many years ago. Chip might as well hang a sign around his neck: “Use me!” No way would the boyfriend give up such a low maintenance source of cash.

Noah began pacing behind the building, boots crunching against gravel. Every kid who called forced him to relive his own past, his own fuck ups.

Damn it all to hell! Had the kid known so little love in his life that he’d cling to a sick illusion?

“Do you actually believe he’ll stop?” Noah kept because I sure as hell don’t to himself.

More silence, a sigh, and then a rare scrap of reality from Chip. “No.”

Noah forced his voice calm when he really wanted to jump through the phone and fix the dumb kid’s life before it was too late. “From what you’ve told me, your parents are out of the question, but how about your grandparents? Or older brother?” Those were Noah’s first choices: stick Chip on a bus and let others with a personal interest manage putting his life back together. Second choice? Put him on a bus to a safe house; let those better qualified handle the details.

This time, no uncertainly colored the adamant, “No! Definitely not! I can’t go home.” More quietly Chip added, “But I’m not sure how long I can stay here, either. He… he talked to a friend of his yesterday.” Even through a telephone connection, Noah envisioned a shudder. “I don’t wanna be in videos.”

Oh shit. Videos. Noah slammed his hand against the wall. No!

“Charge extra for pictures, Noah,” Stevie had said. Noah’s pimp didn’t want to miss a buck, and every time Noah flexed and stretched, it was an easy extra that went straight into the pimp’s pocket.

 

Bad enough how Noah had made his living without adding hard evidence. It was only a matter of time before Stevie sent him to a studio.

 

Noah couldn’t go back in time and save his eighteen-year-old self, but he could save Chip. If only the guy would listen.

Purchase

Rocky Ridge Books | Amazon

Meet the Author

You will know Eden Winters by her distinctive white plumage and exuberant cry of “Hey, y’all!” in a Southern US drawl so thick it renders even the simplest of words unrecognizable. Watch out, she hugs!

Driven by insatiable curiosity, she possibly holds the world’s record for curriculum changes to the point that she’s never quite earned a degree but is a force to be reckoned with at Trivial Pursuit.

She’s trudged down hallways with police detectives, learned to disarm knife-wielding bad guys, and witnessed the correct way to blow doors off buildings. Her e-mail contains various snippets of forensic wisdom, such as “What would a dead body left in a Mexican drug tunnel look like after six months?” In the process of her adventures she has written fourteen m/m romance novels, has won several Rainbow Awards, was a Lambda Awards Finalist, and lives in terror of authorities showing up at her door to question her Internet searches.

When not putting characters in dangerous situations she’s a mild-mannered business executive, mother, grandmother, vegetarian, and PFLAG activist.

Her natural habitats are airports, coffee shops, and on the backs of motorcycles.

Website | Facebook | Twitter
Goodreads
|  eMail |Rocky Ridge Books

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In Our Spotlight: Fallen Angel (The Angel of 13th Street Book 2) by Eden Winters (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title:  Fallen Angel

Series: The Angel of 13th Street 2

Author: Eden Winters

Publisher: Rocky Ridge Books

Release Date: 2/27/17

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 63,000 words

Genre: Romance, Age difference, urban, rent boys, redemption, second chances

Add to Goodreads

Synopsis

Who can save the rescuer of lost souls?

For ten years ex-rent boy Noah Everett has fought the good fight, offering second chances to those still in the life. Now he’s cracking under the stress. What began as a two-man mission is now going corporate, meaning rules, regulations and inexperienced volunteers needing guidance in a field Noah makes up as he goes along. Who can he turn to when his mentor’s strength is all but gone and his lover is leaving for college—possibly for good?

Four years at State with a full ride scholarship will launch Jeremy Kincaid’s future, but his present includes Noah, Doc, and the closest he’s ever had to a family. And a meth addict who’s become Jeremy’s own personal mission.

An attack sends Noah spinning out of control. Jeremy has to find the way to reach Noah before the man he knows and loves disappears forever.

Excerpt

Noah slammed a case of beer down in the cooler and fished his ringing cell phone out of his pocket. Nobody called his personal phone at this time of day without good reason.  “Noah Everett.”

“Noah? Hey, man. It’s Chip.”

Noah emerged from the cooler, passed through the bar and mouthed, “I’ll be back,” to Mary behind the bar. He stepped out the back door of The Twelfth Street Bar and Grill and plunked down onto a dry spot on the stoop. The rain had finally stopped, raising the humidity to sweltering levels. If this call didn’t need privacy he’d have stayed in the cooler.

“Have you thought any more about what we discussed?” Given the phone call, the caller probably had. Trouble was, thinking alone didn’t seem to be getting them anywhere.

The casual, “Yeah,” didn’t bode well.

“And?” Fuck.

A long silence followed. “Well, my… my boyfriend isn’t a bad man. I mean, he treats me good and stuff, it’s just that I don’t like… I don’t like—”

“You don’t like him pimping you out to other men,” Noah finished for Chip.

Inside his bar, sixty-seven notches decorated a doorframe, signifying sixty-seven rent boys who’d left prostitution behind and started over someplace else.

Had Doc Cook carved a notch somewhere when he’d pulled Noah from the gutter, dusted him off, and pointed him in the right direction?

What the hell made Chip stay with the user? Noah should’ve notched him in at sixty-eight by now. Instead Chip sat on a fence, dreaming of a better life and fooling himself into believing he could have it here.

 

An exasperated huff sounded in Noah’s ear. “Yeah. Things were cool until he started arranging dates for me.”

Arranging dates? Noah ran his fingers through his short hair and blew out a breath. Motherfucking pimps. More like pimples on the ass of mankind.

Chip continued trying to talk himself out of seeing reason. “I dunno, maybe he’ll stop. I mean, I know he loves me.”

Loves me? Chip had strange ideas of love. He loves me, and we’re only doing this until we have enough money to go away and have it be just us. Noah had said those same words to himself once.

 

But “us” never happened.

Empty promises had sustained him through sleazy meetings that had started with come-ons and a handful of cash and ended with Noah grateful when johns did him in a hotel room so he could scrub himself raw after they left.

And some johns had scared the fuck out of him.

Chip would be a hot commodity in certain markets. Cute, in an innocent, boy-next-door kind of way, easily influenced, with an inborn willingness to please, and, worse yet, gullible, much as Noah had been many years ago. Chip might as well hang a sign around his neck: “Use me!” No way would the boyfriend give up such a low maintenance source of cash.

Noah began pacing behind the building, boots crunching against gravel. Every kid who called forced him to relive his own past, his own fuck ups.

Damn it all to hell! Had the kid known so little love in his life that he’d cling to a sick illusion?

“Do you actually believe he’ll stop?” Noah kept because I sure as hell don’t to himself.

More silence, a sigh, and then a rare scrap of reality from Chip. “No.”

Noah forced his voice calm when he really wanted to jump through the phone and fix the dumb kid’s life before it was too late. “From what you’ve told me, your parents are out of the question, but how about your grandparents? Or older brother?” Those were Noah’s first choices: stick Chip on a bus and let others with a personal interest manage putting his life back together. Second choice? Put him on a bus to a safe house; let those better qualified handle the details.

This time, no uncertainly colored the adamant, “No! Definitely not! I can’t go home.” More quietly Chip added, “But I’m not sure how long I can stay here, either. He… he talked to a friend of his yesterday.” Even through a telephone connection, Noah envisioned a shudder. “I don’t wanna be in videos.”

Oh shit. Videos. Noah slammed his hand against the wall. No!

“Charge extra for pictures, Noah,” Stevie had said. Noah’s pimp didn’t want to miss a buck, and every time Noah flexed and stretched, it was an easy extra that went straight into the pimp’s pocket.

 

Bad enough how Noah had made his living without adding hard evidence. It was only a matter of time before Stevie sent him to a studio.

 

Noah couldn’t go back in time and save his eighteen-year-old self, but he could save Chip. If only the guy would listen.

Purchase

Rocky Ridge Books | Amazon

Meet the Author

You will know Eden Winters by her distinctive white plumage and exuberant cry of “Hey, y’all!” in a Southern US drawl so thick it renders even the simplest of words unrecognizable. Watch out, she hugs!

Driven by insatiable curiosity, she possibly holds the world’s record for curriculum changes to the point that she’s never quite earned a degree but is a force to be reckoned with at Trivial Pursuit.

She’s trudged down hallways with police detectives, learned to disarm knife-wielding bad guys, and witnessed the correct way to blow doors off buildings. Her e-mail contains various snippets of forensic wisdom, such as “What would a dead body left in a Mexican drug tunnel look like after six months?” In the process of her adventures she has written fourteen m/m romance novels, has won several Rainbow Awards, was a Lambda Awards Finalist, and lives in terror of authorities showing up at her door to question her Internet searches.

When not putting characters in dangerous situations she’s a mild-mannered business executive, mother, grandmother, vegetarian, and PFLAG activist.

Her natural habitats are airports, coffee shops, and on the backs of motorcycles.

Website | Facebook | Twitter
Goodreads
|  eMail |Rocky Ridge Books

Giveaway

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A MelanieM Review: Foundation of Trust (Cost of Repairs #5) by A.M. Arthur

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Not everyone gets a second chance with their first love.

Foundation of Trust coverDavid Weller had it all and then it was gone.  Once day David had a loving partner and soon to be stepson, a business he enjoyed and his health.  In one day’s time, everything David thought he knew and had in his life shattered and was gone.  A devastating diagnosis,and a partner who disappeared along with his son.  All gone.

Now four years later, David is still trying to cope with the past and not doing a very good job of it.  He has started a catering business with a friend that’s thriving but his private life is a mess.  Afraid to trust, filled with anger, David spends his nights in one night stands and increasingly dangerous hookups, using pain to assuage his memories and fear.  And then the impossible happens when his ex partner reappears, son in tow and everything changes.

Owen Hart has a life filled with poor life choices and bad decisions.  But Owen thought he left everything behind him when he met David Weller.  Knowing and loving David meant accepting his own homosexuality, loving David meant having a home not only for himself  but for his son.  Then Owen was forced to leave David and the life they had built together.  No warnings, Owen and his son just disappeared.  Now years later, Owen is back to make things right and hopefully make David love and forgive him once more.

A chance encounter proves to David and Owen that the feelings they had for each other remain as explosive as ever, but the wounds inflicted on David by Owen’s disappearance are deep.  Can David ever forgive Owen for his deception and the pain he caused David?  Both men have changed in the years gone by but when a second chance at love and a future together opens up, can the past be forgiven in order for them to have a future together?

Foundation of Trust is the fifth story in the Cost of Repairs series by A.M. Arthur.  As it is also the only story I have read from that series, I approached with carefully wondering how it would work as a stand alone tale.  I shouldn’t have wondered, Foundation of Trust is a beautifully written and well structured story that works on its own.  A tale of poor life choices and second chances, it’s enduring theme and characters pulled me into their story completely, keeping me happily committed from the beginning to end.

I love the reunited lovers trope.  In Foundation of Trust, A.M. Arthur works her magic to give us two wounded men who are truly incomplete without the other, no matter how hard one of them tries to deny it.  In bits and pieces, the author slowly unravels the steps and bad choices that destroyed their partnership and drove Owen to disappear, taking his son who David loved like his own with him.  The devastation that action had upon David and the emotions and pain that followed  come across as utterly deep, and long lasting.  The betrayal and disappearance shattering David just when he needed Owen’s support the most.

A thread that runs throughout this story is the impact a heartrending medical diagnosis can have upon a person’s life and mental outlook.  Without support and with a disasterous back history, learning that one has a serious medical condition is shattering and Arthur is able to bring that situation to life with David’s character.   It was a realistic and moving choice and it works here beautifully.

Owen too has had a troubled past, one that refuses to let him go.  Without giving away any spoilers, I thought that Owen, his strained relationship with his son, and the tough fight ahead of him to make amends and be forgiven are all realistically portrayed.  Owen is as full of pain over the damage he caused, not only to David but his son as well.  Arthur makes sure that there is no instant forgiveness or easy solutions to these mens issues and problems of the past.

I enjoyed this story so throughly that it will send me back to the rest of the series to see what else A. M. Arthur has in store for the characters involved here.  If you love a story of lovers reunited,  of past hurts and betrayals overcome and redemption earned, then Foundation of Trust by A. M. Arthur is the story for you.  I highly recommend it and am now off to search out her other stories and series to date.

Cover artist Lyn Taylor did a wonderful job of bringing the characters and tone of the story to the design and tone of the cover.

Sales Links:   Samhain Publishing       All Romance eBook (ARe)   Amazon  Foundation of Trust

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 239 pages
Expected publication: October 21st 2014 by Samhain Publishing, Ltd.
original titleFoundation of Trust
ASINB00KT23WJU
edition languageEnglish
seriesCost of Repairs #5

Books in the Series Include:

Cost of Repairs (Cost of Repairs, #1)
Color of Grace (Cost of Repairs, #2)
Weight of Silence (Cost of Repairs, #3)
Acts of Faith (Cost of Repairs #4)
Foundation of Trust (Cost of Repairs, #5)