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.

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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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Keeping Kellan by Amy Aislin

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3.5 Stars

Summary

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

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

Or so he thinks…

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

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

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

Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

This was a good addition to the series!

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Hooked on You by K.Evans Coles

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3.5 out of 5 Stars

Summary

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

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

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

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

 

Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Uncharted by Alli Temple

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Five out of Five Stars

Summary

In a world of arrogant nobles and their punishing laws, Georgina will be hanged if anyone discovers she is a spy. But when the wicked prince proposes marriage, Georgina must accept. Refusing would expose the secrets she has delivered to a hidden resistance and forfeit her life. With her wedding day looming ever closer, salvation comes from an unlikely source.

Pirate Captain Cinder is a terror on the open sea, striking fear into hearts wherever she sails. Now she has a new target. The vulnerable Princess Georgina should be an easy mark in Cinder’s kidnapping plot. But the legend of Captain Cinder is more intertwined with Georgina’s own history than either of them expect.

Treacherous storms. A mysterious pirate king. The prince’s unrelenting pursuit. Georgina and Cinder can only escape by following the uncharted course of their hearts. But just as a future together is within their grasp, Cinder’s past threatens to drag them both to the deep.

Review

Georgina, “George” is doing her part in resisting the rule of kingdom. She sneaks messages in the skirts of her dress. It isn’t much, but she’s trying her best to help. Never would she have expected to be married off to the King by her brother. It’s a whirlwind of having new clothes made, jewelry, learning how to be a royal, and a handmaid named Rosie, Georgina thinks she’s lost any chance of having the life she wishes for.

Pirate Captain Cinder’s tales are what parents use to scare their children into acting right. Redheaded and willing to do whatever it takes to man her ship and find her riches.

In an explosion, Georgina is swept from the kingdom and onto a pirate ship. Rosie, devoted to Georgina, sneaks onto the ship. It all comes to a screaming stop when Georgina recognizes Captain Cinder and then finds out all she heard of Captain Cinder may not have been true.

What did I love about this book? Everything!!

Royalty, pirates, and an epic race to keep George out of the king’s hands kept me reading page after page. Cinder was everything a pirate should be. She was hard, powerful, and smart. Everyone on her ship served a purpose. The details of certain jobs on the ship and why they were done, like scouring the deck daily, my inner historian did a happy dance. I felt like I was there on the ship with Cinder and George.

The cast of characters were extremely diverse (which I expect on a pirate ship in my mind). There are lesbian pirates, non-binary pirates, and an island they visit is full of LGBTQ+ residents. Maro, Rosie, and Ender were so much fun. For such a big guy, Ender sure was gentle and kind to Rosie. Maro was a hard first mate, but they were kind to George and Rosie.

Rosie was such a spitfire. She is exactly who you want to be by your side. George got in trouble and she was right there with her. George needed to scheme. Rosie was scheming with her. They were quite the pair and I enjoyed every scene with the two of them.

The chemistry between George and Cinder had and ebb and flow that just felt right. The small jealousy moments and all the times they tried to stay away from each other just made their romance sweeter.

If you are a fan of a fast paced adventure, you’ll definitely want to grab a copy of this one.

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Party Favors by Erin Mclellan

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Four out of Five Stars

Summary

Three…

Amanda Ellis knows three things: she’s tired of doing what’s expected of her, she hates her job at her family’s business, and the last thing she wants to do is attend her parents’ boring New Year’s Eve ball with a date her mother picked. A few days of fun with her online best friend is exactly what she needs to ring in the New Year on her own terms.

Two…

Wren Rebello is impulsive and always ready for fun. A last-minute girls’ getaway sounds like the perfect way to spend New Year’s. But even Wren isn’t prepared for the spark of attraction she feels when she meets Amanda in person for the first time. Good thing Wren loves popping Amanda’s cork.

One…

After days spent sharing end-of-year resolutions and the one bed in their cottage, the clock strikes midnight and the ball drops on their time together. As Amanda and Wren go their separate ways, they leave new resolutions unfulfilled. Is there enough New Year’s magic left to turn their online friendship into real-life love?

Review

Amanda Ellis, heir to a disco ball empire, if finally meeting one of her best friends, Wren Rebello, in person. Amanda has always done what her parents expected of her. Date this person, do this job, and act this way. For the first time she is able to be herself with Wren.

As they spend the New Years together, Amanda finds herself inexplicably attracted to everything about Wren. They were a little awkward at first, and it took talking via text to break the ice between them, but once that ice broke? *fans self* … ya’ll .. they were scorching together. A large portion of this book focuses on their sexual relationship and exploration of that relationship. It made my heart beat quickly and my cheeks flush red. These two women together were intense!

Mixed in with all of the sex, was a relationship that grew leaps and bounds. Wren encouraged Amanda to be herself and to leave the disco ball heir title behind her. Amanda had a whole life outside of her family that she wanted, but she never had the courage to pursue it until she had friends who saw her vision and pushed her to follow her dreams.

This was a great New Years themed read that had quite a bit of spice!

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Friends by Nora Phoenix

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Four out of Five Stars

Summary:

Coulson is straight. So why was he checking Seth out?

Seth is an out and proud Secret Service agent. When he’s asked to assist the FBI on the investigation into the presidential assassination, he meets FBI agent Coulson.

Coulson is straight, or so he says. Seth has no reason to doubt that, not even when they become close friends.

Until he finds himself checking Coulson out a little too closely—especially certain over-sized body parts—and Coulson doing the same to him. For someone who’s straight, Coulson shows a lot of interest in Seth’s dating life, his preferences, and his hook ups. Could it be that he’s not so straight after all?

Meanwhile, every discovery they make in the investigation leads to even more questions. Who killed the president and how did they manage to pull it off? And more importantly: are they done killing…or will more attacks follow?

The Review

After the assassination of the President, Seth and Coulson are set to work together for their respective agencies. Seth is with the Secret Service and Coulson is with the FBI. There is something about them that clicks, making it easy for them to work together. They are friends and the longer they work together, the stronger their bond becomes. They push each other to use their strengths while working and they are there for each other in their off hours.

            Seth was out and proud, he didn’t let his job force him into the closet, and I loved a character like him. He lived his life how he wanted to live it and didn’t let his sexuality hamper that. Which is how life should be! He had all these career goals, and nothing was going to stop him.

            Coulson hadn’t considered a relationship with a man before. The more time he spends with Seth, the more interested he becomes. It’s hard not to fall in love with someone like Seth. They have fun with each other, even when they aren’t doing anything but spending the evening on the couch. You don’t find that with just anyone. Yet there they were.

            The action in this one was not as intense as in book one. It picks up at the assassination of the president and we’re given a glimpse into the investigative process and a little background on the agencies that are involved. I loved seeing Seth’s mind work through all the information he came across. Coulson was the perfect complement to Seth’s process. Coulson didn’t let anyone discredit Seth either. Which melted my heart just a little bit.

            The chemistry between them was off the charts, even before they acknowledged their romantic feelings for each other. Probably one of my favorite scenes was the scene Set realized how deep his feelings were for Coulson from the help of his family. That scene is what I immediately thought of while sitting down to write this review.

            I loved being able to see two strong, alpha males who were amazing at their job, fall for each other.

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Feel the Fire by Annabeth Albert

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Four out of Five Stars

Summary

When their career paths bring two high school sweethearts together again, the forest isn’t the only thing ablaze…

Fire behavior specialist Luis Riviera goes where his job takes him. But when he’s assigned to an arson investigation in Central Oregon—the place he left his broken heart twenty years ago—he’s afraid of being burned all over again.

Tucker Ryland had planned to join his first love, Luis, in LA after high school graduation, but life got in the way. Now a fire management expert and a divorced father of teen twins, Tucker’s thrown for a loop when he finds himself working side by side with his Luis, now all grown up and more intriguing than ever.

Though consumed by a grueling fire season and family responsibilities, the two men discover their bond has never truly broken. Tentative kisses turn to passionate nights. But smoking sheets aside, old hurts and new truths stand in the way of this time being the start of forever.

Danger lurks everywhere for Central Oregon’s fire crews, but the biggest risk of all might be losing their hearts. Don’t miss the Hotshots series from Annabeth Albert: High Heat, Burn Zone and Feel the Fire.

The Review

Luis Riviera goes wherever he is needed as a behavior specialist. Going back home to Central Oregon was not what he expected. Going to Central Oregon means he will come face to face with his childhood love, Tucker Ryland.

Tucker, divorced and father of twins, didn’t expect to meet Luis Riviera, but when he does his heart beats faster and his breath catches in his throat. The attraction they had in their youth banked until it ignited again.

What I absolutely loved is Tucker Ryland is a demisexual character. Do you know how many books I’ve read in the past five years with representation of a demisexual character? One. This book. As a demisexual I connected so much to Tucker. He needed a connection with a person before they would become lovers. He had that with Luis and it was a connection that didn’t dissipate after all those years. It was honest, real, and intense.

The chemistry between Luis and Tucker, oh boy, as soon as they saw each other there were sparks. Luis listened to Tucker, made sure he was comfortable and enjoying himself. It felt as though Luis cherished Tucker, and that was everything. I’m a sucker for friends to lovers storylines, but through in a second chance romance? It just hits the spot for me.

Tucker’s boys were great! There were times that had me cackling at times with their matchmaking shenanigans. It was nice seeing how they took to their dad’s new relationship and accepted Luis as he was.

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed this installment. This book can also be read as a stand-alone, but you do see characters from the previous two books in this one.

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Press by Nora Phoenix

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Five out of Five Stars

Summary

Henley is off-limits for Levar. So why can’t he stay away?

Five years ago, Levar survived a terrorist attack. The bombing left its scars, but he’s picked up his life. He loves working for the vice president—who is openly bisexual—as his press secretary.

Levar can’t afford a pesky attraction that proves to be frustratingly stubborn. Worse, those highly combustible sparks are with the very last person he should be falling for: Henley Platt, a well-known reporter covering the White House.

Henley may not be Levar’s enemy, but he’s definitely not his friend. He can’t be, not when their jobs put them on opposite sides. Henley is absolutely off-limits, even when he shows his appreciation for the sexy lingerie Levar loves to wear.

When the terrorists strike again with a devastating blow to the White House, Levar and Henley lean on each other for support. The sparks become a raging fire that won’t be doused, but what happens if they’re found out?

Review

Henley and Levar are on opposite ends of the reporting spectrum. Henley is employed as the press secretary for the Vice President. Levar is a White House correspondent for a DC newspaper. The two men can’t seem to get away from each other and it’s become harder and harder to resist temptation.

These men have a somewhat shared history. Five years ago, they were both at ground zero for a terrorist bombing at a pride parade. Which hurt my heart so much. Once they’re both in DC, they have a push/pull relationship. While they’re friendly, there is a boundary that they can not cross professionally. I liked seeing them acknowledge and point out when that line was crossed.

It takes one chance moment, a peak at what Henley wears under his dress pants, that sparks the slow burn attraction into a full-fledged fire. Normally, I’m not fan of this, but oh my goodness, it worked! It wasn’t cheesy or greasy like some novels. It was just another part of Henley that Levar loved.

Their attraction, flirtation, and sex scenes *fans self* good grief. It was such a good burn. Then, there were moments they took care of each other. That was just as intensive as their sex scenes. In those moments, I could see how much they meant to each other. Hell, if you ever find someone that takes care of you like Henley did for Levar? Don’t ever let them go. It’s a rare find.

There was action and politics, yes, but it wasn’t preachy or overly graphic.

*slight spoiler incoming* 

As a history buff, it was interesting to see the similarities between JFK and a fictional President. I was on the edge of my seat, rushing right along with Henley, the Vice President and the rest of the White House staff. I could feel that urgency and terror of what just happened. Then seeing Henley come in to his own, learning that he is as good at his job as everyone thinks he is, was wonderful. I was rooting for his success! Levar, he found a way to get what he wanted and to find his happiness. I was so excited.

Would I recommend this to friends? YES!! 100 times yes!

If you are on the fence with getting this book? GET IT! If you are a fan of Tal Bauer’s writing, this is a book you won’t want to pass up. This was a fantastic read and I’m probably going to read it all over again, because Henley and Levar? Goals.  

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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.

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