Icebreaker by A.L. Graziadei

4 out of 5 Stars

Summary

Seventeen-year-old Mickey James III is a college freshman, a brother to five sisters, and a hockey legacy. With a father and a grandfather who have gone down in NHL history, Mickey is almost guaranteed the league’s top draft spot.

The only person standing in his way is Jaysen Caulfield, a contender for the #1 spot and Mickey’s infuriating (and infuriatingly attractive) teammate. When rivalry turns to something more, Mickey will have to decide what he really wants, and what he’s willing to risk for it.

This is a story about falling in love, finding your team (on and off the ice), and choosing your own path.

 

Review

Hockey romances are my jam. There’s something about masculinity, the passion for the sport, and the tenderness that can be exhibited by the characters that pull me in. Icebreaker is a great book for those who don’t want all the smut but enjoy the art of flirtation and the development of a relationship.

Icebreaker is branded as a YA novel. I would categorize it as more of a new adult novel. It takes place at a university. There is fade to black scenes and mentions of hookups, but it’s not graphic by any means.

Mickey James III is a legacy hockey player. His father is a pro NHL player and as the predicted number one draft pick, Mikey has a LOT to live up to. Even if he’s not entirely sure if jumping into professional hockey after one year at university is over, staying at university for four years, or not pursuing hockey at all. Add in depression and anxiety? As the first line in the novel says, it makes life wild.

Jaysen is Mickey’s biggest competition in the draft class and the other of our leading men. There’s an intense rivalry between him and Mickey determining who will go number one and who will go number two. He likes to poke at Mickey to get under his skin. He reminded me of a friend in high school, alternative and into screamo.

It isn’t until the two are forced into an icebreaker that the anger melts and once they stop seeing each other as something other than rivals.

The style of writing in this novel makes it an extremely quick read. I read half one night before bed, the next half the morning after. I liked seeing text conversations and Twitter interactions between the characters. It put you further into their world.

The in-game writing was done well. I could picture the plays and actions in my mind without a problem. I also liked seeing the team bonding moments and how that contributed to the main characters’ growth.

Super fun, easy read. I’m looking forward to reading more by A.L. Graziadei.

 

Get your copy here

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Jaclyn Quinn – Author Spotlight

Meet the Author

J.Quinn Author

Jaclyn has been an artist from a very young age. From drawing cartoon characters and evolving into portraits, making jewelry, photography, and now writing. She has an amazing support system in her family and friends and couldn’t be more grateful.
She lives in central New Jersey, love summers at the Jersey Shore, rock music, wine, sexy men, and laughing a lot with her amazing friends and family. Sunday dinners at her parents’ house are crazy, hysterical and you can count on a movie quote…or ten…being thrown out. Insults between siblings is how they show our love for each other!
When she’s not creating, you can find her reading books from her favorite authors. She is a hopeless romantic, starving for passionate characters and always craving that happy ending, whether in reading or in writing my own books.
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Ford Ashton
They say you never forget your first. Who’s they, you ask? Good question. I wish I had the answer because I’ve tried everything to get Abe Manning off my mind. Now he’s here, in Coral Pointe Inlet, staying in the inn that I co-own with my four best friends. Okay, I may have had something to do with that, but these thoughts are driving me crazy. I need to know what happened all those years ago, because if the saying is true, how was it so easy for Abe to forget about me?

Abe Manning
A free trip to Coral Pointe Inlet, the shore town that is the very definition of paradise, is exactly what I need. The best part being there’s no chance of running into two lying liars who lie. For the first time in a long time, I’m able to take a much-needed deep breath. That is, until my past shows up on the beach with a sexy smile and an unexpected confession. It was hard enough forgetting him the first time, and now here he is again—a temptation I’d never been able to deny. I have to admit, though, it’s incredible to know I still have the ability to fluster Ford.

Flustering Ford is book 3 in the Shore Thing series. While it can be read as a standalone, it’s recommended that the reader get to know this hilarious group of friends in Coral Pointe Inlet by starting with book 1.

Click on the covers to learn more
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While Writing ….

I actually can’t listen to anything while writing. I’m easily distracted. Lol
I do, however, always have a lemon-lime seltzer next to me. Not very exciting! Haha
I’m a pantser…which isn’t always easy. I’ve never been good at making outlines.
I absolutely love writing books about found family and small towns. I throw my quirky humor into every book, even the more serious ones.

Connect with Jaclyn Quinn

Website * Facebook Reader Group * Twitter * Instagram * TikTok

Amy Aislin – Author Spotlight

Meet the Author

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Amy’s lived with her head in the clouds since she first picked up a book as a child, and being fluent in two languages means she’s read a lot of books! She first picked up a pen on a rainy day in fourth grade when her class had to stay inside for recess. Tales of treasure hunts with her classmates eventually morphed into love stories between men, and she’s been writing ever since. She writes evenings and weekends—or whenever she isn’t at her full-time day job saving the planet at Canada’s largest environmental non-profit.

An unapologetic introvert, Amy reads too much and socializes too little, with no regrets. She loves connecting with readers.

Pride Month Sale – Keeping Casey

.99 Sale until June 27th

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Purchase your copy here

Casey Preston is the guy with the plan. The list-maker. The one who micromanages his own life.

Spontaneously offering to be his best friend’s fake boyfriend to get Ethan’s annoying team captain off his back?

That’s not thinking things through. It’s not even smart given Casey’s been fighting his feelings for Ethan for years.

Ethan Rain just wants to play hockey and get his college degree. Adding a fake boyfriend to the mix? He doesn’t need that complication.

If Casey were his real boyfriend, though? If he got to keep Casey forever? Now we’re talking.

Click the cover to purchase!

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Connect With Amy

Twitter * Instagram * Website * Facebook

What do I like about Amy Aislin (besides her writing)?

When she says she likes to connect with her readers, she means it. She’s very active in her Facebook group. She is active in other author groups as well. She participates in a lot of fun games and giveaways. She’s as much as a reader as the rest of us. I love checking her Goodreads to see what she’s read and her thoughts on the book.

Amy cares about the accuracy in her work. Fun fact, I got to sensitivity read for her on one of her books.

Also I have an ABSOLUTE love of hockey and I can read her work in one sitting.

If you like Amy Aislin, you should read:

RJ Scott, VL Locey, Rachel Reid, Amy Daws, Beth Bolden

The Long Game by Rachel Reid

Five out of Five Stars

Summary

To the world they are rivals, but to each other they are everything.

Ten years.

That’s how long Shane Hollander and Ilya Rozanov have been seeing each other. How long they’ve been keeping their relationship a secret. From friends, from family…from the league. If Shane wants to stay at the top of his game, what he and Ilya share has to remain secret. He loves Ilya, but what if going public ruins everything?

Ilya is sick of secrets. Shane has gotten so good at hiding his feelings, sometimes Ilya questions if they even exist. The closeness, the intimacy, even the risk that would come with being open about their relationship…Ilya wants it all.

It’s time for them to decide what’s most important—hockey or love.

It’s time to make a call.

Review

 

I have been looking forward to the conclusion of Shane and Ilya’s story since Heated Rivalry ended. I needed to know so much. Would their love make it? Would they come out or keep their relationship a secret until retirement? I NEEDED TO KNOW! And this book did not let me down.

            In this book, we get to see the more emotional side to Ilya. There was a much more vulnerable portrayal of him. I liked that we got to see that part of him. It was funny, when I was reading I had the thought, “Well shit, he’s done a lot for Shane, but what has Shane done for Ilya?” It hit me all at once. Ilya had sacrificed so much for this relationship, and I really wanted Shane to wake up and see what was in front of him.

            There was one scene that made me tear up (in the middle of a Mexican restaurant as I ate tacos by myself during my lunch break), it was such a great scene to include. You’ll know what I’m talking about once you read it, but it made me want to give both Ilya and Shane a hug. I could imagine how difficult it would have been to be on other end of that moment. It made my heart hurt.

            I was so excited to see more of Ilya’s team and how much they evolved over the course of the season. For a team that was already counted out, it was so exciting to see them play their hearts out. The Centaurs, they are definitely a team I would love to be on or a part of.

            There were so many cute moments too. Like Ilya, big bad Ilya, getting married to Shane by one of his team mate’s children? How excited he was at the idea of getting a team dog? I loved it.

            The spicy scenes? Well, I never thought it’d be sexy to do it in a trophy room, but kink unlocked. The passion was still as intense now as it had been years ago. I loved seeing that. They missed each other, craved each other, and treated on each other.

            I absolutely loved this addition to Shane and Ilya’s story.

Get your copy here

Too Like the Lightning by Travis Beaudoin

Four out of Five Stars

Summary

Andrew Madigan had everything he ever wanted.

He’d worked hard to build this perfect little life. A stable relationship with a successful man. A beautiful home in a quiet suburb. And best of all, a job where he spent his days talking about literature.

Then his tenure was denied and, too quickly for him to stop it, everything crumbled.

Now, with his dreams in the dust and his confidence shattered, Andrew has one summer to figure out his next move.

Bulbs, Florida, is like no place Andrew’s ever known. It’s small and provincial. It’s hot as hell. Storms roll through every single day. But Andrew just has to keep his head down. Finish his book, find a new job, put things back on track. Easy-peasy.

He didn’t plan on making a friend.

Coley Brandt has a green thumb and an easy smile. He’s much younger than Andrew, but he puts Andrew at ease, makes him feel at home. Their time together reminds Andrew what having a purpose feels like.

Suddenly, this long, lonely summer feels too short.

But Coley has dreams of his own, and they’re a million miles away from the life Andrew’s trying to get back.

Maybe this is just a summer fling. Maybe, like the lightning, it’s only meant to be glorious for a moment before it disappears.

Or maybe it’s something more.

Review

I don’t know what it was about this book, but it was the most satisfying read. It had an ebb and flow that made Andrew and Coley’s store easy to get lost in. I could see the cottage, the pond, and hear the shrill of crickets and frogs at night. Beaudoin brought the story to life and invited us into a rich, hot, Floridian world.

            Andrew lost everything that made him who he was. His job, his partner, his home. Florida was a means to recharge and get back on track with his writing. Finding a job would be nice too. He didn’t expect to find Coley.

            Their first encounter with each other isn’t the greatest. There may have been tears, but Coley was surprising. He may have been younger, but there was a sense of maturity in him. He was kind and didn’t judge Andrew for not knowing where he was going to end up past his time in the cottage. He slowly pulled Andrew out of his shell. Andrew helped with the yard work, took a swim in the pound, and went out with Coley.

            Andrew and Coley together was *chef’s kiss* spectacular. There was a chemistry that steadily grew from their first meeting. Uh, and those kisses? Can I get more of those? There was something about reminded me of my special somebody. I’d give this a three out of five on the spice scale.

            My heart hurt for Andrew at times. Then there were times I was rooting for Andrew to stay in Florida. He found his happy while he was there. He slowly learned who he was outside of his career. Coley helped him get there.  

            I loved that both Andrew and Coley encouraged each other to go for opportunities they may not have gone after on their own. How comfortable they became with each other. I laughed at Andrew shuffling through the kitchen naked. Coley and his red pick up truck coming to shake up Andrew’s world.

Get your copy here

Hard Sell by Hudson Lin

Three out of Five Stars

Summary

One night wasn’t enough.

Danny Yip walks into every boardroom with a plan. His plan for struggling tech company WesTec is to acquire it, shut it down, and squeeze the last remaining revenue out of it for his Jade Harbour Capital portfolio. But he didn’t expect his best friend’s younger brother—the hottest one-night stand he ever had—to be there.

Tobin Lok has always thought the world of Danny. He’s funny, warm, attractive—and totally out of Tobin’s league. Now, pitted against Danny at work, Tobin might finally get a chance to prove he’s more than just Wei’s little brother.

It takes a lot to get under Danny’s skin, but Tobin is all grown up in a way Danny can’t ignore. Now, with a promising patent on the line and the stakes higher than ever, all he can think about is getting Tobin back into his bed—and into his life for good.

If only explaining their relationship to Wei could be so easy…

Review

There are some mixed reviews on this Hard Sell by Hudson Lin, but I enjoyed this one. There were a few things that I didn’t like, that irritated me a bit. But that’s normal for me. I’m an emotional reader. I think the corporate setting, mixed with a long-distance relationship was something I could easily relate to.

            First, let’s get to the tropes. Brother’s best friend, long-distance, workplace relationship, second chance romance. I’m ALL about these tropes.

            Tobin and Danny were electric when they could get their act together. There were a few romance scenes, a couple of stolen moments. I wish they were a little spicier.

            Tobin had to fight hard to get out of the brother’s best friend role and establish himself as an individual. He made sure that he made his own way from college onwards. He worked hard to become the man he is today. It irked my nerves, unbelievably so, when everyone just acted like he was still a teenager.

            Danny, while older, acted more like a kid. Instead of communicating, he acted in secret. When he could have up front said, “this is for a job, but you should come with me” instead of pretending it was just for fun.

Get your copy here

Heart2Heart Volume 5

5 out of 5 Stars

Summary

Once upon a time, a bunch of authors wondered… what would happen if Heart2Heart, the dating and community app responsible for bringing together couples from all over the world, encouraged people to do something they’d never done before?

#NeverHaveIEver is trending on H2H, and fourteen authors who’ve never before appeared in a Heart2Heart anthology (and one who’s never left) have come together to show how funny, hot, and heartwarming it can be when H2H app users challenge themselves to do something outside of their comfort zones–from singing in public, to skinny dipping, to getting their first real kiss–while they manage to fall in love along the way.


As always, all proceeds from this anthology will benefit LGBTQ+ charities to ensure that love in all its incarnations will be celebrated and protected every single day of the year!

The Review

I was super excited to have the opportunity to read the latest batch of stories for the Heart2Heart Anthology. There were some authors I had followed and wished they’d get to participate at some point and HERE THEY ARE!!! These stories take place all over the globe and it’s exciting to see all the different settings.

Never Have I Ever … Dyed My Hair Flaming Red by Daryl Banner -Three Stars

I had the opportunity to meet Daryl Banner at a book signing, so since then, I’ve kept up with his work. Seeing his name pop up in this collection was exciting for me. He is one of the few authors I enjoy reading from their work from the first person point of view.

If you are a fan of the new adult genre, this will fit the bill for you. It’s more conversational, delves into the drama of stage work, and I could hear the characters’ southern twang in my head while I read.

Zakary is very young, learning who he is and what he wants in life. Jonatho, has a bit of an ego, but what director doesn’t? Zakary is right though; we need more stories that end sweetly and with a sense of hope. Instead of doom and gloom.

It’s a bit cheesy in places, but it was a fun, easy read.

 

Never Have I Ever … Spent the Night with Blanche by Louisa Masters – Four Stars

Okay, if you haven’t ever binged a few episodes of the Golden Girls, you need to treat yourself to that stat. It was the perfect meet-cute for Fin and Clay. A Golden Girls screening to get them to meet outside of the Heart2Heart app.

Also, I cannot get over Ripper’s character. The minute I laid eyes on him; I knew I’d love him. Big biker with a soft spot for the Golden Girls? Yes, please.

This was such a feel-good story that had me grinning throughout it.

 

Never Have I Ever … Been on a Date by Tal Bauer – Five Stars

Tal Bauer is a master at weaving romance into a heart-pounding thrill ride. He creates such strong, intelligent characters that it’s easy to connect with them, no matter where the story takes them. So, it was no surprise that I fell headfirst into a story taking place on Antarctica. I wish I could have gotten a full-length novel for these two.

A chance encounter twines Cletus and Damien together during the time they spend on Antarctica. A missed opportunity that turns into a second chance. Even if it’s not under the greatest of circumstances?

The steam level is fade to black, but it’s very the emotional connection between the men is as strong as you would expect from Tal Bauer’s work. There’s grit, heart, and happiness in their story.

Get your copy here

Season’s Change by Cait Nary

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3 Out of 5 Stars

Summary

Olly Järvinen has a long way to go. He’s got a fresh start playing for a new team, but getting his hockey career back on track is going to take more than a change of scenery. He’s got to shut his past out and focus. On the game, not on his rookie roommate and his annoyingly sunny disposition—and annoyingly distracting good looks.

All Benji Bryzinski ever wanted was to play in the big leagues, and he’s not going to waste one single second of his rookie season. Yoga, kale smoothies and guided meditation help keep his head in the game. But his roommate keeps knocking him off track. Maybe it’s just that Olly is a grumpy bastard. Or maybe it’s something else, something Benji doesn’t have a name for yet.

Olly and Benji spend all their time together—on the ice, in the locker room, in their apartment—and ignoring their unspoken feelings isn’t making them go away. Acting on attraction is one thing, but turning a season’s fling into forever would mean facing the past—and redefining the future.

The Review

            Ya’ll know I love my sports romances. Especially, hockey. So, it hurts me to say this one, was a little difficult for me to get into.

            I think it was more the presentation of the material than the actual storyline. The story was good. There were too many page breaks and not enough transition from scene to scene that I got lost a couple of times. There were a lot of shifts in time that weren’t entirely clear.

            There were aspects about Olly that I think the reader was supposed to infer but later it’s finally spelled out. I’m not a fan of that in writing. I need to understand why a character acts the way they do for me to connect to them better. I didn’t connect as much with Olly and Benji as I usually do with characters.  

            On to the actual story.

            Olly is a bit of a jaded, veteran hockey player. He’s got a lot of issues that impact how he plays on his new team and you can see it in how he plays the game now. Benji is the bright-eyed, excited rookie. He is himself, no matter what anyone else (Olly) may think about his yoga, meditation, and kale smoothies. I like that about Benji. Even if he was pretty clueless at times lol.

            Olly and Benji are a good balance of each other. There is a push/pull kind of relationship that developed between the two men. Benji doesn’t back down when Olly is his angry, grumpy self. Olly listens to some of the things that Benji talks about, like yoga and meditation.

            I was very surprised when Olly and Benji participated in a … spoiler alert …. I’ll let your mind do the running or you can check my tags. I just, don’t feel like Olly would have done that no matter what. Benji? Yes, one hundred percent. That I could see happening.  

            I wanted more affection between the pair. I wanted more tender moments of actualization. I wanted more romance.

            This was definitely a story that focused more on Olly coming to terms with who he is as an individual and as a hockey player on a new team. It got a bit angsty at times, but that was an emotion called for in this storyline.

 

Get your copy here

Winter of the Owl by Iris Foxglove

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Three out of Five Stars

Summary: 

Sava has the best house in all of Lukos. He built it himself, dreaming of the day when he and Milan, the man he loved, could live there and brave the harsh winters of Lukos together—only to be devastated when Milan was found dead in the spring. Fraught with grief, Sava resigns himself to spending his winters alone.

Then a stranger appears on his doorstep, and everything changes.

Victor is a scholar from Gerakia, a land known for its long summers and vibrant history, and he has never been more unprepared in his life. Abandoned on the inhospitable island of Lukos after a disastrous relationship, Victor has to adapt quickly to survive. It helps, of course, that he’s taken in by Sava, who has the biggest heart of any man Victor has ever known. Victor and Sava start to make a home together, growing close as snow falls outside, but the true danger of a Lukos winter is closer than they suspect…
 

Review

So many tropes in this one! Forced proximity, opposites attract, share one bed, snowed in, strangers to lovers, chosen family.

My heart broke for Victor in the beginning. I had a legitimate what the actually fuck? kind of moment. He’s such a bright character and to see someone so willingly just throw that away? Oh it hurt my heart. I was so glad to see he landed somewhere like Lukos.

In an island of exiles, Victor found something beautiful, a home.

Sava had been living his winters alone since the loss of Milan. He has steadily been building a home that would be fit for a mate. Sava has got to be the kindest soul out there. He’s definitely something you would look for in a partner, no matter what world you live in.

There were light BDSM tones. In this world there are dominates and submissives, but it’s not on the extreme end of the spectrum. While there are the traditional roles, Sava and Victor didn’t hold stead fast to them. Victor was very much the scholar, not the best at the home tasks. I found that adorable, seeing Sava step in and explain and teach things to Victor. He did it in a way that was not at all condescending towards Victor. You could tell they cared about each other.

The romance scenes between the two of them weren’t so steamy. You can definitely feel the chemistry between the pair. There were some great kisses between the pair. If you’re looking for something extremely graphic, you definitely won’t get that here.

The suspense or conflict in this was an easy one for me to figure out. I had that figured out pretty early on, but I kept reading because I loved Victor and Sava’s interactions. I knew there was a lot of their relationship I wanted to read about.

Overall, did I enjoy this? Oh yes. Will I read future books in the series? Yes. I needed the fantasy fix and there were so many tropes in this that had mee excited.

Get your copy here

Unwritten Rules by KD Casey

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Five out of Five Stars

Summary

Zach Glasser has put up with a lot for the sport he loves. Endless days on the road, playing half-decent baseball in front of half-full stadiums and endless nights alone, pretending this is the life he’s always wanted.

The thing is, it could have been everything he ever wanted—if only he’d had the guts to tell his family, tell the club, that he was in love with his teammate Eugenio Morales. Well, ex-teammate now. When Zach wouldn’t—couldn’t—come out, Eugenio made the devastating choice to move on, demanding a trade away from Oakland. Away from Zach.

Three years and countless regrets later, Zach still can’t get Eugenio out of his head. Or his heart. And when they both get selected to play in the league’s All-Star Classic, those feelings and that chemistry come roaring back.

Zach wants a second chance. Eugenio wants a relationship he doesn’t have to hide. Maybe it’s finally time they both get what they want.
 

The Review

Zach Glasser lost the best thing in life when he left fear dictate staying in the closet. Fear of losing the sport he loves, the friends and family he’s never told, any chance of happiness with a man who had come to mean far more to him than a team mate.

Three years comes and goes but fate has more in store for Zach and Eugenio. They both get selected to play in the All-Star Classic. It doesn’t matter that it’s been years. The chemistry between them is still off the charts.

So y’all know I love a good sport romance novel. They are my JAM. Add in a second-chance romance, friends-to-lovers trope? I’m about it. There’s so much diversity in this novel, like you would see on a true professional baseball team. Also, Zach has a hearing disability which wasn’t treated as a brief mention. It was present throughout the novel.

I read this when I was supposed to be napping … FYI no naps were had. I couldn’t stop myself from reading.

The way this story was told, in chunks of past and present, really worked. At first it was a little off putting because I expected the traditional one chapter past, one chapter present format. This wasn’t like that. Any time there was a shift, it was easily recognizable.

Do you need to know anything about baseball to understand what is happening here? Nope. You do get pieces of spring training, the all-star game, and activities around the club house, but KD Casey paints such a vivid picture that you don’t really need to know anything about baseball.

Now the romance … it was gooood. The way they flirted with each other in the early stages. While they were training, and when they were together during their off hours. Followed by some steamy kisses. Yes please! I’d give this a 🌶🌶 .5 out of 5 on the spicy scale

Zach’s character, he had my heart. Sure, he fell in love with Eugenio (who had me all 😍 too), but he discovered himself. I liked seeing him understand what he valued in life and the steps he was would take to get there.

Get your copy here