If This Gets Out by Sophie Gonzales and Cale Dietrich

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Three out of Five Stars

Summary

Eighteen-year-olds Ruben Montez and Zach Knight are two members of the boy-band Saturday, one of the biggest acts in America. Along with their bandmates, Angel Phan and Jon Braxton, the four are teen heartbreakers in front of the cameras and best friends backstage. But privately, cracks are starting to form: their once-easy rapport is straining under the pressures of fame, and Ruben confides in Zach that he’s feeling smothered by management’s pressure to stay in the closet.

On a whirlwind tour through Europe, with both an unrelenting schedule and minimal supervision, Ruben and Zach come to rely on each other more and more, and their already close friendship evolves into a romance. But when they decide they’re ready to tell their fans and live freely, Zach and Ruben start to truly realize that they will never have the support of their management. How can they hold tight to each other when the whole world seems to want to come between them?

The Review

If This Gets Out was a good read. If you’re a fanfic reader, you’re going to love this novel so much. It was easy to read. The dialogue flowed well, there was a lot of it (I LOVE DIALOGUE and LOTS of it, it’s my jam). I could picture the hotels they were at, and I could see them performing on stage.

Ruben and Zach make up half of the boyband Saturday. Saturday is touring through Europe and trying to deal with the stress of their fame and the pressures of being teenagers on the edge of adulthood.

Throughout the tour, Zach and Ruben become closer as they deal with the drama of Angel and toeing the line around Jon because his father is management. It’s easy to be free and themselves around each other. But the closer they got; the further apart management pulled them.

Their first kiss, and everything after was so … sweet. A lot of the romance happened off-screen to fit the YA Adult sphere. Their kisses and little touches between them? I lived for it. There were times they couldn’t keep their hands off each other and I was all, yes please, can I get more of this? Because it was just that good.

Drama happened (of course) and the boys tackled it together. They truly were a family and cared for each other. That was a special bond, and I was glad to see it strengthen over the course of the book.

Spicy rating? Two out of Five

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Being Enough by Alie Nolan

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Four out of Five Stars

Summary

Eli has been looking forward to his yearly trip to Camp Lost Lake—a sports camp for underprivileged kids—all season. He is more than ready for a month-long break from his offensive coordinator responsibilities. Until a public fight with the Piranhas’ star tight end, Colton Roth, and the subsequent media fallout, results in the pair being forced to spend the summer at Camp Lost Lake together.

Colton is almost as good at antagonizing Coach Conley as he is at playing football, but as usual, his behavior has landed him in hot water. Now, his position with the Piranhas is on the line, and he must stay away from any potentially scandalous situations. Trying to stay on his best behavior doesn’t last long though, and after hooking up with Coach Conley, it looks like Colton might have put the final nail in his career’s coffin.

Can Colton and Eli survive an entire month in the middle of nowhere together? And will either of them still have their careers intact after the summer is over?

The Review

I found myself falling in love with both Colton and Eli in Being Enough.  They were a true opposites attract couple. Eli Conley is a coach who doesn’t have the time to deal with the drama that one of his players, Colton, brings with him. A risque situation on Colton’s part and a physical confrontation between them lands them both in hot water with their PR people. They needed to find a way to get these men to get along and they find it in Eli’s off season routine. Volunteering at a summer camp together.

Being at this summer camp, seeing each other outside the realm of professional football, allowed them to get to know each other. Being able to see each other in a different light, ignites an attraction they were unaware of.

Colton exudes confidence and sensuality. It’d be hard to resist, no matter who you were. Eli, being older and never having been in a relationship with a man? *fans self* It pushed all my buttons. He’s so open to everything that Colton offers him and willing to explore a completely new part of himself. This definitely had some steamy romance scenes.

I felt the emotions that tore through Eli from the opening pages to the last. He was experiencing something so new, but revelled in everything that Colton had offered him.

I’m really glad that I continued on with this series. It dove in and read it in one sitting. Do yourself a favor, check out this book.

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Rough Terrain by Annabeth Albert

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Four out of Five Stars

The Summary: The camping trip from hell may be the first stop on the road to happily-ever-after in Rough Terrain, the final book in Annabeth Albert’s critically acclaimed, fan-favorite Out of Uniform series.

Navy SEAL Renzo Bianchi has a soft spot for Canaan Finley, and not only because the man makes a mean smoothie. He’s the first guy to get Renzo’s motor revving in a long time. But when he agrees to Canaan’s insane charade—one all-access fake boyfriend, coming right up—he never expects more than a fling.

Creating a hot Italian SEAL boyfriend to save face seemed like a good idea…until his friends called Canaan’s bluff. Now he’s setting off into the woods with the very man who inspired his deception, and Canaan is not the outdoorsy type. The sparks are already flying when a flash flood separates them from their group, leaving Renzo and Canaan very much trapped…very much alone in the wilderness.

Working together to come up with a plan for survival is sexier than either of them expects. But back in the real world, being a couple is bringing its own set of hazards…

The Review

Canaan Finley works at a smoothie shop that Renzo Bianchi (aka Rooster) and other SEALs like to frequent. He doesn’t only have a weakness for men in uniform, there’s more to him. He takes care of his grandfather and he’s studying to be the nurse and he sometimes fills in as a drummer for his former band when needed. When he is invited on a camping trip with those former band mates, they don’t want him coming alone. He makes up a story saying his SEAL boyfriend may not be able to make it, duty calls at any time. The problem is, he doesn’t have a SEAL boyfriend. After spending an evening with Renzo he broaches the topic to see if may Renzo wouldn’t mind pretending for the weekend. When disaster strikes, they both acknowledge that there may be something more there. But can Canaan handle being with someone in the military, who moves around when it’s needed and is deployed at moment’s notice?

Oh, ya’ll, fake boyfriend trope? Sign me up every freaking time. Add in lots of kissing? Annabeth Albert can write some intense kissing scenes. Like when I become a super amazing author, I want to write kissing scenes like hers, kind of intense. There was an intimacy Renzo and Canaan’s kisses that I feel like a lot of authors over look between their characters. That level of intimacy shows a level of trust, understanding and caring between Renzo and Canaan. I’m a sucker for it and I have no shame.

Renzo, no matter how much pride he takes in his body, he’s still insecure. It hurt knowing that there were parts of his romantic life he had been denying himself. He tried so hard to be the perfect SEAL, son, brother and I think that quest for perfection caused a rift in himself. I could relate entirely on that part (except my body is NOT a temple lol). Canaan was so gentle with Renzo and showed him bits and pieces of his life. I think Renzo needed the balance that Canaan offered him and because of that balance he bloomed.

Of course there were parts that you wanted to shake Renzo and be like, “Why are you doing this to yourself?!” But it took someone at work, which everyone should have a boss like that, who kind of woke him up to what was happening and why he was feeling the way he was.

I absolutely loved this installment of the Out of Uniform Series and I’m looking forward to Annabeth’s new series that is to be set in Alaska!! She is definitely one of my favorite authors that I recommend to everyone who reads, or is interested in reading M/M.

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Riding the Track by Kara Ripley

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Three out of Five Stars

The Summary: Herding cattle and drinking Australian beer aren’t pastimes that particularly appeal to an ‘indoor girl’ like Clara, but she’d be damned if she’d let her cheating ex-boyfriend have the vacation they were meant to share. So, to salvage some piece of her self-respect after a bad break-up, she finds herself riding a horse along the Oodnadatta Track for five days.

When Clara arrives, she can’t help but feel an intense attraction to Evelyn, the drover who guides their group through the immensely unique landscape between Coober Pedy and the Anna Creek Station. Clara’s never been one for a no-strings-attached fling, but cowgirl Evie becomes increasingly difficult to resist.

In combination with the exquisite outback, soulful horses, and overly cheerful tourists, Evie may just be exactly what Clara needs to escape her own pessimism.

 

The Review

 

After being cheated on by her boyfriend, Clara decides to take the vacation that had originally been booked as a couples’ vacation in Australia. She goes entirely out of comfort zone for a cattle drive, outback adventure. She’s a bit bitter upon first arriving to the area. She isn’t the biggest fan of the overly positive couple she’s in a group with, but the attraction to their group leader, Evie, is instantaneous.

I was excited to find out that Kara Ripley is a pen name for Sci-Fi author Rebecca Langham. I really enjoyed the length and detail she put in to her characters and settings. This is her first foray into contemporary romance. It was a good starting point for her.

I loved how sarcastic Clara was.  She wasn’t just okay with her boyfriend cheating on her. And she wasn’t magically okay with being interested in a woman after so many years, and knowing that she’d be leaving so soon. But sometimes, that’s exactly what you need to get your groove back.

Clara and Evie do have a lot chemistry when they’re near each other. Then when they finally do give in to their attraction, it’s delicious. It drove me a little nuts that it shifted into a fade to black scene but those scenes are extremely difficult to right and takes a lot of practice writing them to feel comfortable putting it out into the world (I’ve got some personal/professional experience with writing those scenes). So I feel and understand the struggle. What was written was excellent done.

This was a quick and easy escape from my day. I was looking for more when I was finished though. There was build-up but it wasn’t enough towards the end. Don’t get me wrong, I liked reading this.  It just felt like there should have been more.

All in all, this was a good start to jump into contemporary romance. I do look forward to future books put out under both names, Ripley and Langham.

Give it a Read Here

All Things by Amber Belldene

All Things (A Reverend Alma Lee Mystery Book 1)

Four out of Five Stars

The Summary: A priest and a rabbi walk into a lesbian bar…

If something is unjust in San Francisco’s Mission District, the Reverend Alma Lee will face it down. She leads her vibrant church of St. Giles’ with compassion and sass. Her busy days involve match-making, meddling, and saving the city’s beloved lesbian landmark, The Carlos Club. Alma meets the intriguing Rabbi Naomi Cohen there, and she’s smitten.

Death comes to the church’s door…

When the proprietor of The Carlos Club turns up dead on the steps of St. Giles’, Naomi’s brother is the number one suspect. She needs help exonerating him, and Alma’s knowledge of the neighborhood makes her the perfect priest to solve the case. If only Alma’s ex-boyfriend, homicide detective Cesar Garza will accept her help. She still feels the pull of their old connection, but she’s convinced the sexy-smart rabbi is her perfect mate. . . Too bad Naomi is playing by different rules.

Can Alma solve the case before the murderer silences her forever?

The Review

I have to admit, the tagline is what initially grabbed my attention. “A priest and a rabbi walk into a lesbian bar…” Like, what? Rewind that and let me hear that again. Yes, that did say a priest and a rabbi walk into a lesbian bar. I’m a fan of cozy mysteries, and having a splash of a LGBTQ friendly priest piqued my interest. I needed know if if Alma was going to turn out life Father Brown (I binged the show on Netflix and find Father Brown and his clique particularly invigorating).

Alma is her own brand of priest. She’s bisexual, nosy, vegan, honest and has a crush on a lady rabbi.The story opens up at the closing of a local lesbian bar called The Carlos Club that hadn’t evolved with the community and the owner wasn’t business savvy.  Once the owner turns up dead (what’s sad is I can’t remember her name) on the church doorstep, Alma has to act. Her friend has been murdered and crawled to her church as she died.

The police focus in on the new property owner, the brother to Naomi, the rabbi that Alma is crushing on. And here comes the drama. The cop in charge? Alma’s ex-boyfriend Cesar Garza. It’s obvious he hasn’t gotten over Alma and harbors some hard feelings for her. He wants her to stay out of the investigation and safe. Someone had attempted to poison her, and that should be enough to keep her away. But it’s not.

She can’t Naomi’s brother take the fall. Not when he’s innocent. So she figures out how to use her community knowledge to find the evidence she needs to find the real killer. What was really neat about this was I was debating between two people being the murderer but I was wrong. I liked that I was wrong because most of these cozy mysteries I have it figured out pretty quickly.

The romance aspect of this was not a major plot point in this. Anything other than a kiss between Alma and Naomi ended up in a fade to black type of scene. It was fitting for the type of novel this was. There’s still a part of me that really wanted more though. Like let the Reverend get some hot lady love and don’t let her go back to Cesar like what was hinted at. Keep Reverend Alma with the ladies!

I’ll totally read more in this series though. I liked her sassy self.

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Dark City by Sarah Kay Moll

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Four out of Five Stars

The Summary: Jude has a tender heart. Yet he was born into a criminal empire and groomed from childhood to step into his father’s violent footsteps. To survive, he created a second personality. Ras is everything Jude isn’t—cruel, remorseless, and utterly without fear, as incapable of love as Jude is of malice.

But when Ras meets a ruthless socialite, he begins to feel a strange stirring of emotion, a brush of Jude’s passion against his own dark heart. Meanwhile, Jude finds himself with a knife in his hand, the evil in Ras’s soul bleeding into his own.

As the walls between them crumble, they could lose everything—their lovers, their family, and their hold on the dark city itself.

Coming together could break them…or make them whole.

The Review

If you are looking for a dark, gritty, organized crime centered tale of survival then this is a book you definitely need to check out.  In order for Jude to survive Jude’s mind split and created Ras to protect himself from the evil that he faces as the son of the boss of a crime syndicate. The two have always been separate from each other. Jude is kind, loving and compassionate where Ras is animalistic, unafraid to take lives and to hurt those who are a threat to his father’s reign.

As horrible as the events Jude went through to end up with the personality split, I needed to understand how this happened to him and why it was important to survive this way. Jude has gone through hell. He’s still going through hell. I liked the way it the novel was set up. There was the current events happening but then there was also glimpses into the first fractures and splits of Jude’s mind.

What was fascinating was that Jude liked men and Ras was attracted to women. Jude was hopelessly in love with Ash. Ash felt drawn towards someone who had an equally dark past and future in her life, Scarlett Bancroft.

There is so much that I want to tell you and talk about but I don’t want to give any of it away. The violence, the action it was all necessary to move Jude/Ras’s story along.

Eli, Jude’s brother, broke my heart a bit. He fought so hard to be the person his father wanted, but he loved his mother and his brother. Finding out who was behind Ras, I think it broke him.  I hated how this life style tore what had been such a caring family to pieces. But that’s the sad reality of it.

This was more plot centered than romance centered. As soon as I started reading, it was easily to get lost in the world created. No matter how bad it got, I needed to know what happened. The action, the flow, the pacing kept me engaged. I may have also got caught finishing this at work because I hit a spot during my lunch break that I couldn’t wait until I got home to finish it.

 

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