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

Audiobook Review

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Four out of Five Stars

Summary:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In love.

Helpless.

The Review

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

On to the story!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Arctic Wild by Annabeth Albert

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Four out of Five Stars

The Summary: When a plane crashes in the Alaskan wilderness, the best place to land is in the arms of a younger man…

Hotshot attorney Reuben Graham has finally agreed to take a vacation, when his plane suddenly plunges into the Alaskan wilderness.

Just his luck.

But his frustrations have only begun as he finds himself stranded with the injured, and superhot, pilot, a man who’s endearingly sociable—and much too young for Reuben to be wanting him this badly.

As the sole provider for his sisters and ailing father, Tobias Kooly is devastated to learn his injuries will prevent him from working or even making it back home. So when Reuben insists on giving him a place to recover, not even Toby’s pride can make him refuse. He’s never been tempted by a silver fox before, but something about Reuben is impossible to resist.

Recuperating in Reuben’s care is the last thing Toby expected, yet the closer they become, the more incredibly right it feels, prompting workaholic Reuben to question the life he’s been living. But when the pressure Toby’s under starts closing in, both men will have to decide if there’s room in their hearts for a love they never saw coming.

The Review

Reuben Graham, a workaholic attorney, finally goes on the vacation he wasn’t excited about going on. His pilot and tour guide, Toby, is young, vibrant, social and everything an older man like Reuben shouldn’t want. He can’t help himself thought. The attraction and chemistry between the men is intense and hard to resist. When their plane goes down in the Alaskan wilderness, Reuben finds himself wanting to stay to help and provide a place for Toby to recover.

If you aren’t into hurt/comfort or the age-gap romance, this book is not going to be for you. That said, I actually loved this book. There was a tenderness to Reuben that you don’t typically come across. He’s described by Toby as a ‘silver bear’ so he is a bigger, fuzzier guy. Which I kind of like that he was a normal character. And all the aspects Reuben was insecure about, Toby found attractive and pushed Reuben to embrace those pieces of himself.

Reuben has to take extensive care of Toby in this. Toby ends up in a wheelchair and has a cast on his arm. He needed help getting into the shower, cooking, everyday functions. It didn’t lead to sexy times – it was rooted in making sure Toby was healing. Toby had a difficult time accepting their relationship for fear of what his family would think, which was entirely believable.

The sex between the two was a slow burn, in the best way. I don’t see scenes like what was given for Reuben and Toby. It was teasing, enveloping and full of emotion. They were one hundred percent vulnerable with each other. It was kind of perfect for them.

I totally read this series out of order, haven’t read the first yet, and it was easily understandable. Looking at other reviews many people have mixed thoughts, but honestly if you like Annabeth Albert, give this one a read. It is a bit different from her usual but I loved it.

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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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