Playing it Safe by Amy Andrews

58341188. sy475

Four out of Five Stars

Summary

Donovan Bane loves playing rugby for the Sydney Smoke. And if that means he has to keep his sexuality a secret, that’s a sacrifice he’s prepared to make. At least until after he retires, anyway. He doesn’t want to be the first pro rugby player in Australia to officially come out while still playing. The team doesn’t need the media shit storm and he’d rather be known for his footy skills. Which means no dating, no relationships, no sex. Nothing but playing ball.

Until one man suddenly changes everything…

Beckett Stanton is out and proud—and not looking for a guy who isn’t. Been there, done that, complete disaster. Unfortunately, on the first day of his new job working for the Sydney Smoke, he locks eyes with Donovan Bane and he’s a goner. Big, gruff, and athletic isn’t usually Beck’s type, but for some reason this man is ticking all his boxes. And it’s clear the feeling is mutual. It’s also clear that Donovan is not out, and doesn’t plan to be anytime soon. Still, Beck can’t resist being the man to show Donovan everything he’s been missing.

For the first time, Donovan doesn’t play it safe and allows himself to indulge in things with Beck he knows he can’t have. But when their relationship gets serious, he knows he has to choose between the career he loves and the man he loves, because how can he possibly have both?

The Review

Ya’ll know I’m a sucker for a good sports romance, right? Well, this one didn’t let me down. I think I’m finally coming out of my book funk.

Donovan has plays professional rugby for the Sydney Smoke. During his time with the team, he’s kept one of the most important aspects of himself a secret. His sexuality. He didn’t want to be the first player to come out and to face the media. It would be easier to face that challenge after retiring.

He didn’t account for Beckett Stanton.

Beckett doesn’t know much about rugby, but on his first day at work for the Sydney Smoke he knows he is immediately attracted to Donovan Bane. But he isn’t sure about being Donovan’s secret. The attraction keeps calling to him though. It’s hard to stay away from Donovan when he keeps showing up.

First things first, you don’t need to have read the previous books in the series to read this one. This is book 7 in the series and the first one I’ve read. Also, if you aren’t familiar with rugby, it’s not hard to follow.

The chemistry between Beckett and Donovan was intense from the get-go. They really couldn’t take their eyes off each other. They both had a lot going on and to consider, but once they made a decision, *fans self* Donovan was such an alpha-like character and to have him want to learn from Beckett? That’s my jam. I’d rate this a 🌶🌶.5 on the spicy scale.

I loved, loved, loved the fact Beckett watched Donovan play and how worked up that got him. I too have experienced that phenomenon and seeing it written into a book was pretty awesome.

I read this one over two nights and had fun reading it. 

To be released September 6th (my bday!!)

Hidden Powers – Tara Lain – DNF

43503480. sy475

No Stars – DNF

Summary

Superordinary Society: Book One

Jazz Vanessen is weird—and not just because he’s a werewolf. For most of his life, he’s felt different from his alpha male brothers and friends. Since he’s adopted, he can’t even blame it on family.

Now eighteen, Jazz meets his idol, the social activist Lysandra Mason, and her breathtaking nephew, Dash Mercury. When Dash is around, even stranger things start to happen, including Jazz falling hopelessly in lust. Not only is Jazz having visions, making people disappear, and somehow turning invisible, but somebody’s following him and threatening to reveal his pack’s secrets to the world.

Together with Dash and Jazz’s equally amazing friends—Carla, BeBop, Khadija, and Fatima—they discover the danger is even more lethal than they thought, and Jazz’s weirdness may save all their lives.
 

Review

            I wanted to like this book. I did. LGBTQ+, YA, werewolves, and intrigue, are all excellent ingredients to an adventure I want to go on.

            My main issue is no knowing anything about the characters. If you hadn’t read any of the author’s other books, you’re going to be as lost as I was. As this was the ‘first’ in a new series, I didn’t think I’d be scrambling to figure out who all these people were. It’s a very established world and if you didn’t know that, you’d get frustrated like I did.

            I also had an issue with the language used. I’m not old by any means, I’m 30, and I read YA regularly across many genres. It was off putting to me. Not even in TV shows, do writers use that much ‘teen’ language.

            Will I be reading the next in the series? No. It just disappointed me entirely.

Give it a try if you’ve read previous books by this author, you may enjoy it.

Role Model by Rachel Reid

54561591

Five out of Five Stars

Summary

Troy Barrett has been freshly traded to Ottawa after calling out Dallas Kent during a team practice. He wants to be a better person, and the weird, scrappy energy of the struggling Ottawa team seems like the place to…well. It seems like the only place that will have Troy right now.

Fortunately the Ottawa team includes Ilya Rozanov and Wyatt Hayes, and also includes an adorable social media manager, Harris Drover. Harris is the opposite of Troy in every way: friendly, cheerful, chatty, and goofy with a booming voice, a startlingly loud laugh, and Pride pins all over his denim jacket. Definitely not the sort of person Troy would normally associate with, and yet…

Review

Troy Barrett has been punished for doing what he felt was right. Calling out a former teammate for deplorable behavior and taking a stand. He landed in Ottawa, to a failing team, trying to find his place among players he feels like are better people than he is. He keeps his guard up and doesn’t let plan on letting anyone in to see the real him.

He didn’t predict the social media manager, Harris Drover. There’s something about the man that makes Troy want to smile, be himself, and to share who he is with everyone else. Troy believes that he could be a better person.

First off, I was not ugly crying towards the end of the book. I just had a really big eye lash in my eye, and I couldn’t get it out. Also, I’m sure Reid had no way of knowing just how Troy’s storyline would tie into reality. There’s a double standard in athletics today that she addresses and does eloquently. Just because someone is an athlete, it doesn’t excuse their behavior. They are held to the same rules as the rest of us normal folks.

What I loved about Role Model was the way I could relate to Troy. He wasn’t just a fictional hockey player. There was depth to his character. There is so much I want to just say here, but I’d spoil the book. I’m trying to be careful not to do that.

Troy had hidden himself from the people in his life for so long, finally meeting people who accepted him no matter what and supported him, I could feel the freedom that Troy was experiencing.

I was proud of him, for sticking to his beliefs and challenging those around him, even when he was pretty much ousted for those beliefs. I was proud of the whole Ottawa team.

Harris was so adorable. Any time he came into a scene I ended up smiling. Then finding out he wasn’t all innocent under it all made him even better.

The chemistry between Troy and Harris was phenomenal. They gravitated towards each other. Then those romance scenes, oh my, they were good. It made my heart beat a little faster. It felt right for them in those scenes and moments.

Reid has a way of painting a vivid picture with her words, and I could see Troy, Harris, and the entire Ottawa setting clearly in my mind as I read.

To be released August 10, 2021

Upcoming reviews!

I had to take a break from reviewing due to work and life in general. I’ve picked up old comfort books, like R.L. Stine, Leigh Bardugo. But nothing that fit my blog. I wanted to give ya’ll a little preview of books I have in line to read and review.

 

54561591              43503480. sy475  

 

Strength Check (Dungeons and Dating, #1)            58111070. sy475

Rare Vigilance by M.A. Grant

55764840. sy475

Three out of Five Stars

Summary

Everything has a price. Especially the truth.

From the author of Prince of Air and Darkness comes the first in a thrilling new paranormal series.

Former marine Atlas Kinkaid knows not to ask questions about the clients he protects at the behest of the elite Whitethorn security agency. Just like he doesn’t like anyone asking about his scars—scars left by a mysterious attack that haunts his every waking moment.

Consumed by the need to find out what happened to him, Atlas takes a job providing security to Cristian Slava, the indolent—and gorgeous—son of a notorious businessman. Cristian seems to be just another entitled client, but when nights at the club turn into secret meetings and people start going missing, Atlas realizes there’s more to Cristian—and to protecting him—than meets the eye.

But the same people who are after Cristian have something Atlas desperately craves: they know exactly what happened the fateful night he was attacked—and are willing to tell him everything…

 

The Review

 

I think I’m the odd man out here, but Rare Vigilance was okay. I think I was expecting a lot more than what I got with this book. It took me awhile to read, because I kept finding myself wanting to read something else.

How would I read this series? Wait until the next book comes out then read them back-to-back. I feel like it would be more enjoyable that way.

What did I like? The idea of the vampires in this world. Vampires can eat and drink regular food, but also need blood. There’s a bond/connection that can be formed with the donor. There was history behind Cristian and his family. Things were hinted at, but we weren’t given a full picture.

There was a lot of build up for the story to end on a cliffhanger. In several ways.

I’m a fan of slow burn romances, but this was the slowest of burns. I wanted more for the relationship between Atlas and Cristian. There were hints of intense chemistry, but something about it was unsatisfying.

Then the abrupt ending. I feel like there was no sense of resolution. I really wise this would have been released as one lengthy novel instead of being split up into two.

It might be the type of book for you though. Give it a try.

Get your copy here

 

Keeping Kellan by Amy Aislin

57892666. sy475

3.5 Stars

Summary

Brant Harkrader is done living by other peoples’ rules. He may not know exactly what he wants out of life, but he’s perfectly happy letting that question figure itself out while starting a new job as a tour guide.

Too bad the one thing he does want—his sister’s BFF—only sees him as a little brother.

Or so he thinks…

Kellan Shelby-Briggs has never shied away from going after what he wants. And what he wants is the important contract that will put his brand new company on the map—and Brant.

Too bad Kellan’s career keeps yanking him away just as things heat up between them.

Now that Brant is back in town—up close and personal in Kell’s living space—can they finally get the timing right to go after the love that has eluded them both for too long

Review

Keeping Kellan is a falling for your sibling’s best friend story. I really liked that instead of falling for the brother’s best friend it was falling for the sister’s best friend.

Brant has moved back home, started a new job as a tour guide, and he isn’t sure what he actually wants to do with his life. He just knows it isn’t hockey.

Kellan is pursuing his career at full speed. He’s been burned at his previous company, and now he’s pushing to establish his company from the ground up.

Brant and Kellan have always been attracted to each other. They just thought a romantic relationship wasn’t ever going to happen. Now, they can’t seem to stay away from each other. The chemistry between them is intense. There are a lot of stolen looks and gentle touches. It’s the kind of romance that makes me all tingly.

Both men were extremely smart, and I liked seeing that. I could picture them lasting long-term, being able to match wit. They also supported each other in the work they did. They were equals.

This is a little bit of a fade to black romance, so the spicy level is a little lower. But it fit how Aislin wrote the story.  The focus, to me, was more on establishing their lives now that they were starting over. The romance came second. I do wish there had been a little more romance scenes, like dates (sex scenes are great, but not always needed).

This was a good addition to the series!

Buy your copy here

 

Queen of All by Anya Leigh Josephs

55921653. sy475

Three out of Five Stars

Summary

The only interesting thing about fourteen-year-old Jena is other people. Her mother disappeared when she was a baby, and her best (and only) friend, Sisi, is not just the lost heir to a noble Numbered house, but also the Kingdom’s most famous beauty. Jena herself is just awkward, anxious, and often alone: not exactly heroic material. But when a letter summons Sisi to the royal court, both girls find their own futures, and the Kingdom’s, in Jena’s hands. Sisi, caught between the king and the crown prince, searches for a magical secret the Prince is willing to kill to keep. Jena can save her: but only if she is willing to let her go, maybe forever. It’s hard to do that when she’s in love with Sisi herself.

 

Review 

I have mixed feelings about Queen of All.

I was extremely excited to see a YA LGBTQ+ novel. Add the fact that it was branded as F/F and a fantasy world I was all about it. One of the main issues I had, was the main conflict was a little meh. There was so much build-up but by the end of the book, I was left wondering if I had missed something. What happened with the prince? Was Jena more than meets the eye like I thought she was going to be? I felt a bit lost.

Sisi and Jena are tight friends. So much so, that once Sisi is summoned to the royal court due to her rumored beauty, Jena goes with her. They take on the royal court and work together to ensure they are safe.

What I liked was Jena. She took the opportunity to read and learn as much as she could. She used her plain appearance to venture around the castle unnoticed. But I feel like she got pushed into the traditional role of supporting character who is the fat best friend. Nothing irritates me more. I had so many hopes for her and was let down.

There were few LGBTQ+ elements in this. Jena does admit to herself that she has feelings for another girl, but again, her happiness here gets sacrificed.

This was just a huge miss for me. Other readers absolutely adored this novel. Check out the reviews on Goodreads, they raved about it. It just didn’t work out for me.

To be released June 9 2021

The Soldier and the Spy by Annabelle Greene

55282522. sy475

Three out of Five Stars

Summary

A beholden man finds himself falling for the war hero he’s destined to double-cross.

Three hundred pounds for one night of protection. It’s a job offer, but it’s also a ruse. Captain Benjamin Frakes, war hero and de facto head of the Society of Beasts—a club for gentlemen who prefer gentlemen—is tempted to turn it down. But August Weatherby, the sexy, brazen stranger making the offer, has captivated him completely.

August is hardly the flush flirt he claims to be, however. An indebted man, desperate to save his infirm sister, August makes an ideal pawn for a lord eager to bring down the Society of Beasts once and for all. But August’s charge to find evidence against Frakes is at odds with his own virgin desire to entice the captain into showing him the true meaning of pleasure.

As August’s infiltration pushes him deeper into the beguiling world of delights behind the Society’s closed doors, he and Frakes discover new ways to push the boundaries of their own cravings. But with mounting pressure to complete his devious mission, August finds himself torn between the man his heart yearns for and the sister whose life depends on his betrayal.

 

Review

August Weatherby is a desperate man. His sister is ill, his debts are racking up, and he’s got nowhere to turn. Until he has an offer to help ensure his sister would remain safe and fed. He needs to infiltrate the Society of the Beasts and get ahold of evidence against Captain Benjamin Frakes to use for blackmail.

I feel like the best part of this novel was August’s character growth. He was initially a man entirely focused on his and his sister’s survival. He was willing to do everything possible to ensure they make it. As he became more involved with the Society of Beasts and got to know each of the members, things started to change for him. It wasn’t easy to betray the people that he had come to call friends.

I was expecting a little more espionage and action, but this was a little light on what I hoped for. There was a little more action towards the end of the ovel and it pulled me in and had me rooting for both August and Frakes.

Towards the end of the novel, I felt like I was finally able to understand who Benjamin Frakes was. He had been so closed off, and despite the courage he had in war, he was afraid now that he was home.

Okay, so the facts. Do you need to read the first in the series to enjoy this? Nope. Would you benefit from it? Yeah, there’s some background on some of the characters that I feel like would have made things better. Would I recommend this to other readers? If you are a historical romance reader, I’d definitely give this one a go. 

To be released April 20, 2021

Hooked on You by K.Evans Coles

56857695. sy475

3.5 out of 5 Stars

Summary

What’s a straight guy to do when he falls for his new friend?

Paramedic Connor Devlin is a stressed-out tower of a man. Hoping knitting will help him unwind, he visits a local craft shop, where he’s overwhelmed by the yarn selection but more so by his feelings for shop owner Judah.

Judah Bissel is tired of falling for unavailable men. He can’t help his crush on Connor, though, or wanting to get closer to the big, gentle bear. And that just might spell trouble because pining for straight guys is not Judah’s style.

As a blizzard pummels the city, the men hunker down together to wait out the storm. When the spark between them ignites, will the revelation that Connor feels more than friendship for Judah bring them together or tear them apart?

 

Review

Hooked on You was a cute, quick, friends to lovers romance.

Connor Devlin needs something to help him manage his anxiety, and knitting is his answer. His first visit to a yarn shop may have been intimidating, but that doesn’t stop him from taking on his first project. With the help of the shop owner, Judah, he able to take on his project and solidifies a friendship with the man.

What Connor never expected, was the intense, romantic feelings he had towards Judah. He had never had feelings like this for another man.

Connor and Judah fit together so well. Where Connor was muscled and bulky, I pictured Judah as lithe but a strong man. He was also very caring when it came to Connor. Which was sweet.

Their kisses were toe curling and intense, but a lot of the spicy scenes were fade to black. I didn’t mind that, because it fit their relationship and the vibe of the book.

Everything was solved a little too easily and the ending was abrupt. There were two extra scenes added to wrap Judah and Connor’s story up but I’m not a fan of those snap forward in time scenes. But you may fall in love with Connor and Judah!

 

Get your copy here

The Gentleman and the Spy by Neil S. Plakcy

56757384. sy475

Three out of Five Stars

Summary

After his father’s death Lord Magnus Dawson has more important things to think about than falling in love—like how to earn a living when all he knows is the idleness he was raised with, and the military training he received before selling his commission.

For Toby Marsh, the impetus is as great, though he doesn’t have Magnus’s family connections to fall back on. A scholarship student at Cambridge, he was forced to spend his last year in college as valet and sometime tutor to a brainless fellow student after his father’s sudden death. Now he scrabbles out a living as a freelance tutor.

Then a call from the Foreign Office brings them together. Toby disdains the idle lordling, and Magnus can’t seem to treat Toby as more than a servant. As they delve deeper into their assignment, the attraction between them grows. But can they envision a future together when so class and culture conspire to drive them apart?

The Review

Lord Magnus Dawson is down on his luck. His father has passed, but his older brother has control of the estate and he’s not offering Magnus work on the estate. Magnus is desperate for work and he stumbles into working for the Foreign Office because of his title.

Toby Marsh, who is also down on his luck. He has a degree but hates the idea of teaching, so he tutors to make ends meet. His specialty in languages and previous experience as a valet lands him a temporary job at the Foreign Office working as a valet for Magnus as they go under cover at a shooting party.

The attraction between Magnus and Toby is instantaneous. It’s got a bit of a forbidden love aspect to it that worked. Magnus and Toby are in different social classes and that is used for their undercover work.

There were parts of this that I was iffy on. What was their purpose of going undercover? I kind of lost that. Then some of the terminology got a little repetitive. I didn’t like that I couldn’t remember the purpose.

TRIGGER WARNING Scene – Toby Marsh scene message me if you want more info. I had to skim through it

What I did like was being able to see this from two separate classes and the issues that come from that. Also it was interesting to see the inner working of estates and how they work. There was detail that late me be exactly where Magnus and Toby were.

Get your copy here