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.

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Too Much Man by Katy James

3.5 Stars out of 5 Stars

Summary

A grumpy former hockey player and a bisexual coffee-shop owner refuse to commit—to themselves or each other—in this fun, flirty debut.

Piper Welborn has created a warm, welcoming space for all in her queer-inclusive coffee shop, even if the long hours came at the cost of her love life. But she’s not ready to welcome one man in particular—a grumpy, muscular former hockey player. His smoldering presence is a temptation and a challenge to her long-standing vow not to date cis men.

Gavin Williams has no business starting a relationship, least of all with a woman he’s not sure even likes him. He can’t resist the Friendly Bean’s hot, pink-haired owner, but a casual fling is all he can commit to. He’s hoping to leave town for the next stage in his career…if he ever gets the call with the job offer.

A friends-with-benefits arrangement is perfect for them both—but neither is ready for the feelings that hit. When the post-hockey life Gavin always dreamed of is suddenly within his grasp, they’ll both have to make a choice: hold tight to what they thought life should look like, or work together to build something new.

 

Review

I haven’t had much in the way of bisexual representation here and it’s time I remedy that. Too Much Man by Katy James was a great book to review. It addressed issues that I have dealt with and could relate to. James has put everything I’ve felt into words that I had a hard time putting into words.

I’m not sure I can avoid spoilers, so here’s your warning!

Piper, a bisexual, coffee house owner. Piper offers up her coffee as a coffee house as the location for a charity event for the area hockey team. She is tasked with making sure the players can serve coffee as well as make sure the winners have a great time.

That is a very small aspect of the story, but it’s how she ends up meeting a very angry Gavin Williams who is still healing from a devastating injury. He’s in pain and unsure of his future. I’d be grumpy too.

Piper fights against her attraction to Gavin. She’s made a promise to herself as a bisexual woman she was done with men. The queer community is where she feels most at home and whenever she is with a man, it’s almost like a party trick, her liking women. She feels excluded from the community whenever she dates a man.

I felt that so much. Personal information time, I’m Demi. My attraction tends to lean more towards women, but I’ve been in a relationship with a man the past year and there are times I feel like I’m not who I’ve thought I’ve been my entire life. That people will claim all those dates and relationships were a phase. Spoiler alert, they weren’t. But it just felt good knowing I wasn’t alone in that feeling.

Piper bargains with herself. She can have a friend with benefits relationship with Gavin. He’s leaving, there’s an expiration date on it. There won’t be any feelings and when he’s gone, she’ll move on. Easy as that. Right?

It’s never as easy as that.

Now I will fully admit, I can’t give a rating to the spiciness. I was more focused on the emotional journey that both Piper and Gavin went on as they learn who they truly are as individuals and what they want in life.

The beginning was a little slow for me. At times I got irritated with the pair of them, but overall I enjoyed reading this. The secondary characters weren’t memorable. Which I feel terrible for saying, but I was so focused on Piper and Gavin.

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The Beautiful Things Shoppe by Philip William Stover

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Three out of Five Stars

Summary

Moving to eclectic New Hope, Pennsylvania, and running The Beautiful Things Shoppe is a dream come true for elegant and reserved fine arts dealer Prescott J. Henderson. He never agreed to share the space with Danny Roman, an easygoing extrovert who collects retro toys and colorful knickknacks.

And yet here they are, trapped together in the quaint shop as they scramble to open in time for New Hope’s charming Winter Festival.

Danny has spent years leading with his heart instead of his head. The Beautiful Things Shoppe is his chance to ground himself and build something permanent and joyful. The last thing he needs is an uptight snob who doesn’t appreciate his whimsy occupying half his shop.

It’s only when two of New Hope’s historic landmarks—each as different as Danny and Prescott—are threatened that a tentative alliance forms. And with it, the first blush of romance. Suddenly, running The Beautiful Things Shoppe together doesn’t seem so bad…until Danny’s secret threatens to ruin it all.

Review

I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with this book. I hated the beginning of this book. I almost DNF’ed it, that’s how much I didn’t like the beginning of this book. The enemy shopkeepers, forced to work together, just was written in a way that made me HATE Danny and Prescott. The way Danny and Prescott spoke to each other, just why? It made me angry. I would never treat anyone the way they treated each other.

But, I was one book away from meeting my reading goal for the year and I had invested a good amount of time trudging through the first 30% of it, I was determined to finish it.

I’m glad I did.

As soon as they got over themselves and started to get to know each other as the collectors they were, I liked them as characters. Prescott had gotten to know the people of New Hope and had fallen in love with the town. Danny found himself listening to Prescott as he sold his antiques and he started to understand Prescott.

They were complete opposites. Danny liked the vintage, toy, oddball collectibles. Prescott searched for historical pieces. They ended up working together, along with the town, to save two historical landmarks of New Hope. Of course, small towns means interfering do-gooders, pushing Danny and Prescott together. Which I loved!

Now, don’t expect a fiery romance scene in this book. But there were some toe-curling kisses exchanged and some very sweet moments between Danny and Prescott. I got a little teary eyed at how sweet they were.

So, like I said, love/hate. I detest the beginning 30% of this book but loved the last 50% of it.

To be released January 26, 2021

Royals by J.V. Speyer

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3.5 Stars out of 5

Summary

Two uncles from vastly different worlds. One orphaned child. Will a conspiracy that bridges an ocean somehow build a family, or will state secrets keep Eric and Dan apart forever?

Eric is a genius. He’s a professor of environmental studies at an Ivy League university, an inventor, and one of the most respected scientists in his field. He doesn’t think about his birth family much, and the feeling is mutual – or he thinks it is, until a call from a local hospital throws his carefully ordered world into chaos.

Dan has seen and done a lot in his time as an Army Ranger. Thrown into civilian life by an injury, he’s happy to work for Five Star Security doing what he does best – until he gets a call from his hometown with devastating news.

His beloved older brother, Chris, has been killed in a car accident, along with his bride, Selene. Custody of their amazing four-year-old daughter has been left not to Dan, with whom all three were close, but to Selene’s younger half-brother, Eric – a man Dan has never met and who didn’t bother showing up for the wedding.

Review

 

            This was a fast, escapist type of read. Think old school Harlequin vibes. Some of the details didn’t quite make sense, but I’m a sucker for secret royalty so it didn’t bother me all that much.

            Eric, a law professor at an Ivy League school and estranged from his family, has his world shook up when he’s informed his sister and her husband were killed in a car accident and he is the chosen guardian of a niece he didn’t know he even had. Eric also has a secret he’s kept from the people in his life in Boston. He’s a prince, who fled his country after scandal in his youth.

            Dan, who was active Ada’s life and a bodyguard, doesn’t understand why out of all people to leave Ada with Eric was chosen. He hates Eric on sight for the fact that he has the capability of taking Ada away from Dan. Also, why with Selene’s family? He knew that her family was horrible. That’s why she moved so far away from home.

            Eric was too much of a nice guy at times and it bordered on fake. Dan was a bit too angry in the beginning and then a quick snap of the fingers and he was attracted to Eric. Andreas and his aide, there were a little over the top.

            However, I liked the way Eric and Dan worked together to take care of Ada. They focused on her safety and happiness. I liked the forethought Eric had when he fled from Corvia and started his own life in the US. He was strategic and found a way to live his best life. Eric did his best to be better than the royal family and he was. This is why I could see Dan being attracted to Eric. He got to see who Eric truly was outside of his family.

            If you are a fan of dialogue, like me, you’ll enjoy reading this. There was a lot of talk between characters, but it was easy to follow and pushed the plot along at an even pace.

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Gingerbread Mistletoe by Amy Aislin

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Four out of Five Stars

Summary

The last thing Jeff wants is to spend time with the man who totaled his car—the one he spent years restoring with his late father. But if he wants to resurrect his childhood town’s annual outdoor hockey tournament, he’s got no choice.

The last thing Mika wants is to work with the guy who took off right after the accident, without ensuring he was okay. And working together on organizing Jeff’s proposed tournament sounds like a complete nightmare. He’s got enough on his plate after surviving cancer.

Sparks fly as they’re forced to work together, but is that enough for them to set their differences aside and pull off the tournament in only two weeks? Or will they prove to be immune to the magic of Christmas?

Review

Gingerbread Mistletoe is the second installment in Amy Aislin’s Lighthouse Bay Christmas series. Jeff’s is aimless over the holidays and finds himself back in his hometown of Lighthouse Bay. He didn’t think he’d run into the actor who he had gotten into a wreck with in Los Angeles, Mika. Mika is in Lighthouse Bay, recuperating from illness, but is fully immersed in the inner workings of the town. He’s the heartbeat behind the holiday market and Jeff needs his approval to start the hockey tournament he remembered from his childhood back up.  

            I’m a sucker for holiday themed romances. It was fun to revisit Lighthouse Bay and catch up with the characters from book one and to see Mika’s redemption story. I had such a dislike of him in the first book, I was surprised that he quickly became one of my favorites. He was charming, sweet, and kind to everyone he crossed paths with, even when he was beyond busy with making sure the market ran smoothly.

            Jeff, I felt his character in my bones. It’s hard to know what to do with yourself when you go from busy beyond belief to endless time on your hands. I liked seeing him give back to his community and the enjoyment he got out of it. He may have been a businessman, but he was giving. The way he wooed Mika, oh it was adorable. I knew what he was doing with the first inflatable Christmas yard decoration he sat out in Mika’s parents’ yard. He kept at it, even after he got his man.

            I had fun getting lost in Lighthouse Bay and in the joy that the holidays bring.

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Hairpin Curves by Elia Winters

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Four out of Fives Stars

Summary

Megan Harris had hopes of seeing the world, but at twenty-five she’s never even left Florida. Now a wedding invitation lures her to Quebec…in February. When her ex-friend Scarlett offers to be her plus-one (yeah, that’s a whole story) and suggests they turn the journey into an epic road trip, Megan reluctantly agrees to the biggest adventure of her life.

A week together in a car is a surefire way to kill a crush, and Scarlett Andrews has had a big one on Megan for years. The important thing is fixing their friendship.

As the miles roll away, what starts as harmless road-trip games and rest-stop dares escalates into something like intimacy. And when a surprise snowstorm forces Megan and Scarlett to hunker down without the open road as distraction, they’ve got a bigger challenge than making it to the church on time: facing the true nature of their feelings for each other.

Review

Megan and Scarlett used to be great friends, now? Not so much. Megan felt left behind as Scarlett moved from Florida for college and life. When Juliet invites them to her wedding in Quebec, they reluctantly agree to road trip their way from Florida to Quebec.

Megan packs her scrap book and polaroid camera, hesitantly ready to see what she’s been missing out on. Even with ground rules, Scarlett manages to surprise Megan with her thoughtfulness in planning stops that Megan might enjoy.

I liked that we eventually got to find out what split Megan and Scarlett apart and upon learning those reasons, they were able to address it and move forward in their budding relationship. They both complimented, and challenged each other. Their chemistry and attraction to each other grew with each stop they made and I loved it.

Their romance was a slow burn that grew in intensity. There were a few moments that had me fanning myself lol. I was a little surprised by the boldness of Scarlett at first, but then I can’t see Scarlett being any other way but bold, even in the bedroom.

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Continue reading “Hairpin Curves by Elia Winters”

The Rivalry by Beth Bolden

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Five out of Five Stars

Summary

The first time NFL quarterback Heath Harris meets Sam Crawford, it’s just them, a luxury yacht and a few days of fun in the sun. Sam turns out to be nothing like Heath expects. He’s kind and funny and irreverent—and also unbelievably, shockingly sexy. For three short, glorious, life-changing days, there are no rules.

The second time they meet, Sam has just been traded to Heath’s team, and instead of lovers, now they’re rivals. Heath has spent the last five years working desperately to be the best quarterback the Riptide could ever need, but when injuries threaten to derail his career, Sam is right there, standing on the sideline. Ready to take over, and ready to ruin everything Heath has given his life for.

Rival. Enemy. Teammate. Friend. Lover.

As their orbits collide, sparks fly, and Heath struggles to find the right label and the right box to shove Sam into, hoping to keep him contained. But Sam—and Heath’s feelings—refuse to cooperate.

Sam might not be just one of those things, he might be all of them, and so much more.

Review

Miami was supposed to be a vacation to fish, relax, and hang out with one of his best friends. Except, an early baby arrival, left Heath going on vacation by himself. He did not expect to be on the same boat as Sam Crawford, a younger quarterback and a rival on top of that. The attraction between the two is hard to deny.

Heath, bless it, he’s inexperienced and awkward. He does all he can to cover his inexperience up, which causes a bit of a misunderstanding of what they want from each other in the long run. I loved that Heath wasn’t a confident athlete. He was 100% real. He’s so focused on his career and being the football player he thinks he should be and he forgets to live life on his terms. I felt that in my bones. I related to him so much. It’s hard to pursue a relationship when you don’t have the experience people think you should have.

Sam complimented Heath so well. He’s younger, a little brash at times, but he lives life according to his terms.  He pushed Heath out of his comfort zone, helped Heath learn more about himself while at the same time taking care of his own wants and needs.

At first, they were at each other’s throats and fighting for the starting quarterback position. Eventually, they start to learn from each other. They learn what makes each other tick and how to push each other.

Now to the steam factor … Oh boy, there were some scenes. The tension was expertly drawn out and I needed them to give in to each other. There were intense, burning moments but there were moments that you could tell home much they cared for each other. I melted, just a little bit. They weren’t perfect, but they were just what each other needed.

This is my absolute favorite novel by Beth Bolden.

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Snow Job by Beth Bolden

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3.5 Stars out of 5

Summary:

There’s nobody Micah hates more than his ex-stepbrother, Jake. And nobody he wants quite as desperately. For nine long years, Micah has begrudgingly tried to move on. How could they ever be together when Jake never spends more than a handful of days in the same country, and never more than one night with the same person?

When his job sends Micah to a remote mountain cabin on snowy Mount Hood, a misunderstanding strands Jake there at the same time. Was it actually coincidence or in fact premeditated? Either way, Micah will need to put his resentment—and his longing—aside for long enough to survive the elements that might be conspiring to kill them.

As the snow levels rise, and their situation grows more dire, Micah and Jake might finally be forced to use the heat between them to survive.

**Snow Job is a full length novel and book 5 of the Snowed In Valentine’s Inc. series. It can be read as a standalone**

The Review

A slightly taboo read, (ex-step brothers), so if you are not into that STOP HERE!

Repressing his feelings for his stepbrother (currently ex-stepbrother) has caused Micah a lot more trouble than he ever imagined it was. Their parent’s scheme to get them to address the trouble in their relationship, by sending them to the same cabin to assess its value for the company they run. None of them could foresee the snowstorm trapping them together without electricity, food, or you know, blankets.

They anger and frustration between Micah and Jake is palpable from the first. I found some of the things they did to each other, petty revenge/practical jokes, were hilarious and I’m glad that the author included those bits of their story rather than only referencing them.

The passion between them, well, *fans self* it’s been simmering for a while. It was bound to be a bit explosive.

What I truly liked, was they went back to their lives and dealt with the aftermath of their passions before their story ended. Like my heart hurt so much for Micah once he got out of that cabin. He was happy, there were so many possibilities, and then there wasn’t. Jake, bless it, he pulled at my heartstrings too.

It was easy to get lost in the cabin and in their story.

Give it a try!

** To be released January 28, 2020**

The Bachelorettes by Maria Jackson

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Three out of Five Stars

Summary:

Stuck in a cabin alone for three months, Claudia and Miriam compete to win a cash prize. The reality show only has one rule: they can’t fall in love. Claudia can barely stand the arrogant supermodel, and Miriam only wants to seduce the annoying bookworm. Will these bachelorettes hate each other by the end of the filming? Or will they end up breaking all the rules?

The Review

Claudia and Miriam are both in a competition for the money but along they way they find more than they ever expected. This was a quick, easy, and light read. I think I was expecting more than what was written. The competition or challenges that they faced, weren’t all that challenging. They were tasked with games that you could see at kid parties or outdoor company picnics. It didn’t force them into close proximity like you would have thought if the challenge was not to fall in love.

I will admit that I did have a difficult time connecting with both Claudia and Miriam. Claudia felt too perfect and Miriam was too flawed. The chemistry that I hoped they would have, I didn’t feel it until the very end.

The title and cover was misleading. It’s very pretty and eye catching, but not what the book is about.

If this would have been longer and there would have been a bit more character development I probably would have enjoyed this a lot more. That being said, I did like this book. I just wanted and expected more. It may be your cup of tea though, give it a try if you want.

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Heated Rivalry by Rachel Reid

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Five out of Five Stars

The Summary: Nothing interferes with Shane Hollander’s game—definitely not the sexy rival he loves to hate.

Pro hockey star Shane Hollander isn’t just crazy talented, he’s got a spotless reputation. Hockey is his life. Now that he’s captain of the Montreal Voyageurs, he won’t let anything jeopardize that, especially the sexy Russian whose hard body keeps him awake at night.

Boston Bears captain Ilya Rozanov is everything Shane’s not. The self-proclaimed king of the ice, he’s as cocky as he is talented. No one can beat him—except Shane. They’ve made a career on their legendary rivalry, but when the skates come off, the heat between them is undeniable. When Ilya realizes he wants more than a few secret hookups, he knows he must walk away. The risk is too great.

As their attraction intensifies, they struggle to keep their relationship out of the public eye. If the truth comes out, it could ruin them both. But when their need for each other rivals their ambition on the ice, secrecy is no longer an option…

The Review

HOLY SMOKES YA’LL! I ate this book up in one sitting! That’s how much I liked this book.

Shane Hollander and Ilya Rozanov have always been pitted against each other, from when they met in juniors and into their professional careers. What no one knows is how wrong the rest of hockey world is. They’ve been seeing each other secretly since their draft. My favorite part of this book? We get the entire journey! Seriously, from the first time they hooked up and all the way through the current season and them acknowledging that perhaps there is more to their love/hate relationship.

There had always been a boundary that Shane refused to let Ilya cross, entrance into his bedroom. They would always end up everywhere else but in Shane’s bed. Once that changed, I knew it was going to be amazing. I was not let down. At all.

There was something about how cocky Ilya was and how down to earth Shane was that just worked well together. They balanced each other out while at the same time they pushed each other to be more. They did not let their romance get in the way of how they played on ice. I feel like it made them play harder, to prove who was the better hockey player.

Now, there is a lot of sex in this book. Normally that’s not my thing. But for this, it worked. As their relationship grew, how they were with each other changed as well. Their sexual relationship evolved with them and it wasn’t the same thing every scene.

Then the ending… *sigh* They schemed together to figure out a way to be able to spend more time with each other during the hockey season. Then they found a way to portray the change in the rivalry. I was so happy with the way this turned out. I still want more of Ilya and Shane!

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