Out on the Ice by Kelly Farmer

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Three out of Five Stars

Summary:

Caro Cassidy used to be a legend.

During her career, Caro was one of the best defense players in women’s hockey. These days, she keeps to herself. Her all-girls hockey camp is her life, and she hopes it’ll be her legacy. Sure, her new summer hire is charming and magnetic, but Caro keeps her work and personal life strictly separate.

Amy Schwarzbach lives life out loud.

Amy’s as bright and cheerful as her lavender hair, and she uses her high-profile position in women’s hockey to advocate for the things she believes in. Ten weeks in Chicago coaching a girls’ training camp is the perfect opportunity to mentor the next generation before she goes back to Boston.

Letting love in means putting yourself out there.

When the reticent head coach offers to help Amy get in shape for next season, her starstruck crush on Caro quickly blossoms into real chemistry. As summer comes to an end, neither of them can quite let go of this fling—but Amy can’t afford a distraction, and Caro can’t risk her relationship becoming public and jeopardizing the one thing that’s really hers.

The Review

This was a low-angst, quick-to-read, romance.

Caro Cassidy runs a hockey school for girls. She keeps her personal life close to the vest and doesn’t advertise her sexuality. She adheres to a strict professional policy. In comes Amy Schwarzbach, lives her life out loud and doesn’t let anyone tell her how she should live her life. She does her best to encourage girls to be true to themselves while playing hockey in a safe space provided by Girls and Goals.

What I liked about Out on the Ice was the fact Caro and Amy were polar opposites, but they still fit together. Caro had gotten stuck in a repetitive cycle, but Amy makes her consider what how she could change for the better.

Amy was a bisexual character and If eel like there aren’t enough books with bisexual characters, and they talk about their previous partners. It was a genuine representation.

A lot of the romance was off screen, so if you’re looking for that you aren’t going to find that here. It was very sweet.

I was left wanting, but this was a good debut for Kelly Farmer .

Pre-Order here

 

Wolfsong by T.J. Klune

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Five out of Five Stars

Summary:

Ox was twelve when his daddy taught him a very valuable lesson. He said that Ox wasn’t worth anything and people would never understand him. Then he left.

Ox was sixteen when he met the boy on the road, the boy who talked and talked and talked. Ox found out later the boy hadn’t spoken in almost two years before that day, and that the boy belonged to a family who had moved into the house at the end of the lane.

Ox was seventeen when he found out the boy’s secret, and it painted the world around him in colors of red and orange and violet, of Alpha and Beta and Omega.

Ox was twenty-three when murder came to town and tore a hole in his head and heart. The boy chased after the monster with revenge in his bloodred eyes, leaving Ox behind to pick up the pieces.

It’s been three years since that fateful day—and the boy is back. Except now he’s a man, and Ox can no longer ignore the song that howls between them.

The Review

As soon as I finished Wolfsong, I immediately purchased the next books in the series. I found a werewolf novel that was just like what I loved growing up. There was pack, found families, danger, discovery, and love. While there is the alpha, beta, omega dynamics explored it isn’t sex here. It was the hierarchy in the pack. This is the werewolf story that I freaking love (and secretly want to write one day)!

Ox was sixteen when he met Joe. He had never met anyone like Joe. Slowly, he was pulled into the Bennett’s family and into a life he didn’t know was possible to exist. Werewolves exist and he’s found himself part of a pack. He and his mother become part of their pack, taking on the danger that comes with being associated with the Bennetts.

I had so much love for Ox. He’s an outcast, but there’s something about him that I was able to connect with and understand entirely. He’s damaged goods, but with the help of Bennetts he’s learning that he’s better than what his father said to him. He’s strong, important, and perhaps the person they need in their lives.

Joe, there were times I wanted to hug him and then times I just wanted to shake him. How could he do this to Ox? Didn’t he see that his pack needed him home? But I understood his need to do what he did. I still hated it.

I think I fell a little bit in love with each character in this novel. They were each vital to pushing the plot forward, they were each important for every dangerous situation that the Bennett pack came across. I loved Gordo and the body shop guys. They cracked me up. You could tell they had worked together for years and considered themselves to be brother.

Ox and Joe’s relationship *wistful sigh* it grew from childhood to adulthood so naturally. You could feel their bond. Once they both (Joe is younger by a few years) reached adulthood, their flirting was so goooood. Then they had to relearn each other and their spot in the pack.

There’s so many good things I could say about Wolfsong, but I feel like I would give the book away. If you haven’t had the chance to read this, go grab a copy and read it.

Get your copy here

Straight as a Wheel by K.A. Merikan, Narrated by Wyatt Baker

Audiobook Review

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Four out of Five Stars

Summary:

“Your secret’s safe with me, Leo Heller. Whatever happens here, nobody will know. Ever. Do you understand?”

Zolt. Gay. Player. Predator. Fetish: Straight guys
Leo. Straight. Biker. Prey. Fetish: True love

Zolt knows what he wants from life–cold hard cash so that he can enjoy an early retirement in the Carribean as rent boys serve him drinks on the beach. Meanwhile, he’s got his pawn shop as a front for illegal operations, and a baseball bat to deal with troublemakers.

When it comes to men, Zolt loves the chase, and his favorite, most elusive prey is curious straight guys. He goes out of his way to seduce and devour them. If he can be their first, all the better.

His next mark? A biker. And not just any. An outlaw, Leo Heller.

Leo’s got his future all figured out. A wife, two to four kids, maybe a dog. If love was as easy as others make it seem, Leo would have been married already.

A string of failed relationships leads him to the one person he shouldn’t be crushing on, shouldn’t be admiring, and most definitely shouldn’t be touching. Because a man like Zolt Andorai won’t give Leo the family he wants. Hell, Zolt doesn’t even do boyfriends. But what Zolt does offer is no-strings-attached experimentation, and Leo is only human.

After all, if no one ever finds out Leo’s secret, it’s as if it doesn’t exist.

One kiss leads to another, lines blur, and before Leo knows it, he’s in over his head.

In love.

Helpless.

The Review

First, I’m going to talk about Wyatt Baker, the narrator. This is the first audiobook I’ve listened to that he has narrated and he’s now on my list of must listen narrators. He has a very masculine, authoritative voice that fits the characters in the Sex & Mayhem series. He kept me in the story with the characters and in the action. He was a believable narrator for such a gritty, violent story. Baker brought Leo to life and made me love Leo.

On to the story!

This one I was hesitant about reading, mainly because of Zolt’s character, but I ended up liking him as the book went on. Leo, I loved him. No matter how angry he got, I still wanted, no needed, things to work out in his favor.

Zolt loves the hunt of hooking up with men who are straight, but curious. Leo, is a hopeless romantic, wrapped up in the shape of a biker. The Smoke Valley MC has to hide some merch and Zolt’s pawn shop is the perfect place for it to be stored. The only catch? They need one of their men watching the product. Leo volunteers, and he sure didn’t know what he was in for when he agree to live at Zolt’s until enough time has passed and they can bring the product back to Smoke Valley MC land.

Leo, I had so much secondhand embarrassment for him in the beginning of his story, I knew he was bound to have something amazing happen. The chemistry between he and Zolt was palpable, hot, and perfectly drawn out. Some of the scenes between he and Zolt, well, I couldn’t keep listening to it at work like I had been doing.

I liked that Leo and Zolt’s relationship was as complicated as the situation that they were put in. It wasn’t easy and they both had a lot of reflecting to do about what they wanted in life.

The grit of this story was excellent. I could see the fights, the conflict playing out in front of me. It was a little bit of everything that I didn’t know I needed in my life.

If you’re looking for something to spice up your TBR list, grab this series up when you can. It’s an exciting read.

Get your copy here

The Audacity by Laura Loup

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Four out of Five Stars

The Summary

May’s humdrum life gets flung into hyperdrive when she’s abducted, but not all aliens are out to probe her. She’s inadvertently rescued by Xan who’s been orbiting Earth in a day-glo orange rocket ship, watching re-runs of “I Love Lucy”.

Seizing the opportunity for a better life, May learns how to race the Audacity and pilots her way into interstellar infamy. Finally, she has a job she likes and a friend to share her winnings with—until the Goddess of Chaos screws the whole thing up, and Xan’s unmentionable past makes a booty call.

The Review

The Audacity is one of those books you are either going to love, or you’re going to hate. I LOVED this book. It’s fresh, reminiscent of Douglas Adams’s writing, breaks the fourth wall, and keeps you laughing throughout.

May, a Sonic Drive-In carhop gets pulled right off of earth and out of the monotony of her life to find herself in space in the middle of an adventure even her wildest dreams couldn’t have imagined. She’s rescued by Xan, an a blue alien who has a fondness for ‘I Love Lucy’ and a slightly questionable profession. They go on to race the Audacity, find their way out of hijinks and several conundrums.

The friendship between May and Xan was probably my absolute favorite part of this book. They picked at each other, helped each other, and worked together to find answers to their problems. It’s the kind of friendship you want to have in your life. Xan had May’s back and May had Xan’s.

I cracked up at the use for coffee. Felt for May and the corn that Xan supplied her with. Don’t ask, just go read it to find out what I mean by that. May was pretty kick ass and I look forward to find out more of the adventures that this crew will end up on. The cast of characters featured many on the LGBTQ+ spectrum and while it wasn’t the focus of this book, it was good to see the representation in these characters.

Get your copy here

Spellbound by Allie Therin

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Five out of Five Stars

The Summary: To save Manhattan, they’ll have to save each other first… 

1925

New York

Arthur Kenzie’s life’s work is protecting the world from the supernatural relics that could destroy it. When an amulet with the power to control the tides is shipped to New York, he must intercept it before it can be used to devastating effects. This time, in order to succeed, he needs a powerful psychometric…and the only one available has sworn off his abilities altogether.

Rory Brodigan’s gift comes with great risk. To protect himself, he’s become a recluse, redirecting his magic to find counterfeit antiques. But with the city’s fate hanging in the balance, he can’t force himself to say no.

Being with Arthur is dangerous, but Rory’s ever-growing attraction to him begins to make him brave. And as Arthur coaxes him out of seclusion, a magical and emotional bond begins to form. One that proves impossible to break—even when Arthur sacrifices himself to keep Rory safe and Rory must risk everything to save him.

The Review

Now I’m going to start this review by saying, this is the book that pulled me out of my reading slump. I went quite a while without finishing a book and Spellbound was the one that pulled me back into my happy reader universe. It combined magic with the prohibition era in New York and I fell in love with Ace and Rory (Jade and Zhang were pretty awesome too).

Rory Brodigan is a psychometric, who uses his gift to find counterfeit antiques. He can see into the history of objects. Ace is in need of someone who can see into the history of a magical object. At first, Ace thinks the psychometric might be Mrs. Brodigan, but soon finds that it’s Rory who has this talent. As the pair works together, they become closer and the attraction between them grows.

I found Rory’s talent fascinating and I enjoyed the way the history of the items was portrayed to the reader. Also, Rory’s backstory, very fitting of the time period. Rory was not entirely trusting of Ace at first, but once they learned to trust each other it was sooo good.

It was easy to get lost in 1920s New York, with Ace, Rory, Jade and Zhang. It was refreshing to see that this group of friends weren’t all powerful. They had limits to their powers and had to think creatively to overcome obstacles.

A lot of the romance happened off the page, which was a little disappointing, but I was so into the story line and what was happening that it was okay. So if you’re looking for red hot romance, you’re not going to get it here, but the action combined with the characters kept me entranced in finding out how the story was going to end.

I’m excited to see that this is a series and it’s going to kill me to wait a year to get the next book! But I’ve been recommending this one out to friends and definitely want to get my hands on a physical copy of Spellbound!

Get your copy here!

I Knew Him by Abigail de Niverville

40711378Five out of Five Stars

The Summary: In his senior year of high school, Julian has one goal: be invisible. All he wants is to study hard, play basketball, and pretend he’s straight for one more year. Then, he can run away to university and finally tell the world he’s bisexual. And by “the world,” he means everyone but his mom and best friend. That’s two conversations he never wants to have.

When he’s talked into auditioning for the school’s production of Hamlet, Julian fears that veering off course will lead to assumptions he’s not ready to face. Despite that, he can’t help but feel a connection to this play. His absent father haunts him like a ghost, his ex is being difficult, and he’s overthinking everything. It’s driving him crazy.

The decision to audition leads Julian on an entirely different path. He’s cast as Hamlet, and the boy playing Horatio is unlike anyone Julian has met before. Mysterious and flirtatious, Sky draws Julian in, even though he fears his feelings at the same time. As the two grow closer, Julian begins to let out the secrets he’s never told—the ones that have paralyzed him for years. But what will he do if Sky feels the same way?

The Review

This book, I felt it in my bones, and I wished that I had something like this to read when I was in high school. To have something like this to relate to would have made it a little easier getting through the school day surrounded by people who didn’t have to fear being true to themselves.

Julian has a plan during his final year I high school. He’s going to pass his classes, play basketball, and not tell anyone that he’s bisexual. The best laid plans never work. He is talked into auditioning for Hamlet and it brings him down a path he didn’t expect. He lands the part of Hamlet, meets a boy who sparks feelings in him, comes to terms with why his father left his mother, and comes to realize that his happiness matters just as much.

I want to say how much I related to Julian. I’ve had friends who couldn’t believe in bisexuality. You either are, or you’re not gay. There’s nothing else. This was before I knew there was more than gay, lesbian or bisexual identifiers (I live in the deep south and still haven’t come out completely – gotta do this in my own time right?). I felt his fear at coming out to a friend who had a track record of calling him a coward or a liar for not ‘picking’ the gender he wanted to be with. It hurt seeing Julian struggle with all the feelings revolving around Will, but it was one hundred percent real.

Sky was such a beautiful, creative character. I was intrigued with his first appearance on page. He’s smart, kind, sensitive and is everything that Julian needs at this moment of his life. They were so great to each other. Listening, reassuring, understanding, supportive. It’s what everyone needs in a relationship and they had it.

Julian’s relationship with his Dad was touching. They were unsure of where they stood with each other but they learned how to be father and son again. Julian learned that family doesn’t have to be traditional, but happiness is important. To lie to yourself is to set yourself up for some pretty tough times. His mother’s reaction broke my heart. Like damn, why did it have to happen that way. I was pretty close to crying at one point and that isn’t an easy feat with me.

This book left me feeling hopeful, happy and excited for the possibilities that life could bring. I thoroughly enjoyed this, plan on buying a physical copy, and making sure I recommend this to everyone I think needs this in their life. If you are a YA fan, this is definitely worth a read – and very likely a reread.

Get your copy here

Enemies of the State by Tal Bauer

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Five out of Five Stars

The Summary: Newly elected President Jack Spiers’s presidency is rocked from the very beginning, and he’s working furiously to keep the world from falling apart. Between terrorism attacks ripping apart Europe, Russia’s constant posturing and aggression, and the quagmire of the Middle East, Jack is struggling to keep his campaign promise—to work toward a better, safer world.

For Special Agent Ethan Reichenbach, Jack is just another president, the third in twelve years. With Jack’s election, he’s been promoted, and now he’s running the presidential detail, which puts him side by side with Jack daily. He’s expecting another stuffed suit and an arrogant DC politician, but Jack shocks him with his humor and humanity.

There are rules against a Secret Service agent and one of their protectees developing a friendship—big rules. Besides, Jack is a widower, and Ethan has always avoided falling for straight men. Ethan keeps his distance, but Jack draws him in, like gas to a naked flame, and it’s a lure he isn’t strong enough to turn away from.

As the two men collide, rules are shattered and the world teeters on the verge of war, and a rogue Black Ops unit bent on destruction sets Jack in their deadly crosshairs. Ethan must put everything on the line in order to save the man he’s come to love, Jack’s presidency, and the world.

The Review

Ya’ll, I don’t know how I managed to NOT read any of Tal Bauer’s work until now. I devoured this book overnight and promptly bought everything else of Bauer’s that I could find. I have always looked for books like Enemies of the State in the M/M romance genre and I could never find them. Political thrillers.

President Jack Spiers has a lot riding on his presidency. He promised to make a better, safe world for the citizens worldwide. But he’s been fighting terrorist attacks in Europe, Russian trying to be the bigger world power and the trouble in the Middle East. It’s a lot to handle without the support of a First Lady/Gentleman. He leans on his Secret Service Detail and one agent in particular, openly gay Ethan Reichenbach. Through this, Ethan gets to see a side of the president that pushes him to break every rule he has when it comes to who he is protecting.

As time passes and they get to know each other better, it’s hard to stay away. Ethan can’t help but blur the lines of professionalism for a man like Jack Spiers. But as the world edges closer to another war, things go disastrously wrong.

This is a President/Secret Service romance, and the chemistry between Jack and Ethan was so good. It was drawn out in actions that could be seen as playful flirting, but at the same time it could have just been Jack’s personality. Every way that Ethan fell for Jack was a way any of us could have fallen for our partners. The romance between them burned slowly and they discovered each other together.

Some of my favorite scenes were when they were together in the residence or at Camp David late at night. They focused entirely on each other as if that was their only world at the time. I can’t tell you how many times they made me smile or wish that one of them would hurry up and make a move! Then there was one moment that utterly crushed my heart. I got teary eyed while reading it and there was no way I could stop reading at that point. I needed to see everything better.

The political thriller aspect was weaved well throughout. It was easy to keep track of because we got chapters centered on that part of the storyline, and then bits and pieces in Jack’s political career that explained it further. It was just as present as their developing romance and I was all about it. I needed to figure out what the heck was being plotted and how they were going to stop it.

This was such a good read I was telling my friends about it who don’t read M/M romance. (Normally I don’t even say a word about my reads to them because they give me that look – you know the one lol). Go read this book! I’m sure everyone has already read it, perhaps more than once, but I can’t stop myself from telling you to read it.

Get Your Copy Here

Gotta Catch Her by Kelly Haworth

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Three out of Five Stars

The Summary: Who says phone games are only for kids? Sometimes they give just the respite you need from a hectic life. At least, that’s the way Ann feels about Ani-min Move, an AR mobile game full of cartoon animals caught with nets. Legendary raids have just launched, and Ann arrives at a nearby park to find it full of people of all ages playing the game, including Rachael, a kind, attractive single mom. And sweet! Rachael is more than willing to teach Ann the proper way to spin her nets to snag the raid boss.

Back in reality, Ann has a lot on her plate: a full workload as a project manager, finding the energy to walk her dog, Franny, and now trying to figure out if Rachael is queer. And how does Ann converse with Rachael about her six-year-old son when she doesn’t know a thing about parenting?

Ann is lost as to how to proceed until Rachael takes the guesswork out of the equation by proclaiming she’s bi—right when Ann gets a massive work assignment that consumes way too much of her time. Life/work balance was never Ann’s forte, but between caring for her sweetheart dog and figuring out how to navigate a relationship with a single parent, Ann’s determined to make it work, especially before Rachael gets cold feet and leaves Ann playing by herself.

The Review

Gotta Catch Her is a novella featuring two women who meet by chance playing a phone game call, “Ani-Min Move”. The game serves as a break from the reality that our ladies are going through in their every day lives. Ann is a project manager undertaking a massive audit at work, while Rachel is a single-mother running after he young son in the park. I was stoked to see a story featuring a premise like this one. Two characters meeting due to a video game.

The pair meet up with each other during raids a few times before Ann decides to ask Rachel out for coffee. Due to commitments at work and commitments at home, several of their dates get canceled, cut short, or interrupted. It’s how life truly is, but it got frustrating because the point of a romance is for there to be romance! Right?

I feel like if this had been longer, there would have been more interaction between Ann and Rachel this would have been a real treat. Almost all of the scenes revolve around Ani-Min Move and even their first ‘date’ included them playing throughout. Call me old fashioned, but if my date is on their phone its probably because they aren’t interested in me.

Ann and Rachel were just starting to get to know each other and then book ended. There was a romance scene that felt out of place for me, but that’s totally probably a just me thing. It would have read just as well if that scene hadn’t been included.

Did I enjoy it? Yeah, it was a good, quick read. It just left me wanting more for Ann and Rachel.

Get Your Copy Here

Rubyfruit Jungle by Rita Mae Brown

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Three out of Five Stars

The Summary: A landmark coming-of-age novel that launched the career of one of this country’s most distinctive voices, Rubyfruit Jungle remains a transformative work more than forty years after its original publication. In bawdy, moving prose, Rita Mae Brown tells the story of Molly Bolt, the adoptive daughter of a dirt-poor Southern couple who boldly forges her own path in America. With her startling beauty and crackling wit, Molly finds that women are drawn to her wherever she goes—and she refuses to apologize for loving them back. This literary milestone continues to resonate with its message about being true to yourself and, against the odds, living happily ever after.

The Review

Rubyfruit Jungle is a book one of my graduate studies professors recommended to me for a term project in comparison of a classical vs. contemporary work. I hadn’t ever heard of this book and out of all the choices, this sounded like the least torturous option out of them all. I actually read it over the weekend and enjoyed the story, although I don’t see it in the amazing light that so many other people have. And I’m not going to review it in a literary way because I already have to do that for class.

Molly Bolt is most definitely gay. I figured that out very quickly when she decided to make money off of getting her cousin to show other students his penis. She didn’t care at all as to what he was packing. I think that was the best part of this book, even if it through me way off, I was cracking up laughing at how methodical she was at getting her money.

We get to watch Molly as she grows up in the south and how each experience she has in different times of her life impact who she ultimately becomes. First we meet Molly in elementary school. Middle school is when she first kisses a girl and falls in a younger version of love. Then, in high school she has sex with her ‘cousin’, who really isn’t her biological cousin but a male sexual partner.

I really started to enjoy this book once Molly went to college. She finds love in a sorority sister and once they are discovered, there goes their college careers. This was the relationship that I was most invested in. They were friends first, sarcastic, witty, and jerks to each other kind of friends. The pair felt real compared to the rest of Molly’s love interest. I think perhaps because of how everything played out. I felt for them.

No matter the trouble Molly found herself in, she never gave up. She was still sassy and one hundred percent herself. She didn’t make any apologies for being a lesbian, enjoying living a much different lifestyle than she did where she grew up. She fought for what she wanted and I admired that about her.

Now, do I recommend this to every person who is coming out the closet? Eh, probably not. It was a good read and I can see the literary value in it. The boundaries were pushed upon its first publication in the early seventies. It could be seen as quite racy in several sections. I do think if you are into literary fiction this is a great read for you to pick up and try out.

Grab your copy here

Breaking Down Her Walls by Erin Zak

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Four out of Five Stars

The Summary: Leaving is what Julia Finch does best.

When a meeting with her birth parents goes horribly wrong, Julia escapes on a hastily planned road trip and winds up breaking down in a Colorado town so small the cows outnumber the people. Completely out of her element, she takes a temporary job as a ranch hand at Bennett Ranch. She only has to survive long enough to get her car fixed, and then she’s out of there for good.

Her bad luck continues when she meets the ranch owner, Elena Bennett. Elena is unhappy, abrasive, and annoyingly breathtaking. But the longer Julia stays, the more the ranch starts to feel like home, and her feelings for Elena become impossible to ignore. She’s spent years building her defenses high and running from her past. Could a love worth staying for be the key to breaking down her walls?

The Review

Julia Finch is a runner. If something doesn’t work out well, she moves on. There’s no point in living the disappointment day in and out, is there? When a road trip ends up with her car broken down and no where close to being fixed without dropping a pretty penny, Elijah strikes her a deal. If she works at the Bennett Ranch to pay off the repairs to her car, he’ll get it fixed and then she can move on. It’s a decent deal, even if she has no idea what she’s doing. She didn’t expect to like the ranch owner, Elena Bennett as much as she does. It makes leaving all that much harder.

Now this is an age-gap romance and I have a difficult time finding that in lesbian romances but this hit the spot. It wasn’t your typical meet and move in type of relationship that I have a knack for finding. This was a slow, steady burn that made you want Julia or Elena to make a move. When the move was made, *fans self* whoa boy. They had some intense chemistry and weren’t afraid to get lost in each other. Zak writes sex scenes that don’t make me uncomfortable when I’m reading them. They flow well, it’s never one-sided, both characters are just as into to the moment as the other was.

What I really enjoyed was the fact that each character, Cole, Elijah, Toni, the horses and even Penny, they were all what pushed the story along. (Although Penny I felt like wasn’t entirely necessary to this story, more like just thrown in there as an after thought) I liked reading about the secondary characters as much I liked reading about Julia and Elena. Cole is my spirit animal.

Elena and Julia found themselves when Julia’s car broke down in Colorado. They flourished as they got to know each other. It was a treat to see both of these women settle into their skin again and I don’t think they would have done so if they hadn’t met each other.

I’m definitely looking forward to more written by Erin Zak, she’s become a one-click author.

Get your copy here!