Don’t Cry for Me by Rachel Lacey

Don't Cry for Me (Midnight in Manhattan Book 1)

Four out of Five Stars

Summary

Eve Marlow has her eyes on the prize: a third season of her popular business makeover show, Do Over. But when her ratings take an unexpected dive, Eve needs a blockbuster new client, or she can kiss season three goodbye. She has her work cut out for her, and that’s before she discovers a litter of newborn kittens in a trash can. Now she’s desperate to find someone to take them so she can concentrate on reviving her career.

Josie Swanson had to put her kitten rescue on the back burner when she inherited her father’s bar two years ago. Since then, she’s invested all her time and energy into keeping it afloat, but despite her best efforts, Swanson’s is going under. When she gets a phone call from Eve Marlow, host of the television show Josie applied to earlier that year, the woman she’s convinced can save her bar, Josie hopes her luck has finally turned.

Eve knows what she needs to succeed, and it isn’t Josie–or her bar. There’s no denying the chemistry sizzling between them, though. Josie’s personality is as vibrant as her turquoise-tipped hair. She stirs things in Eve that haven’t been stirred in a long time, but there’s a reason she keeps her heart under lock and key. Eve stands to lose a lot more than her TV show if she lets her guard down, no matter how tempted she is to see if Josie’s love would be worth the risk.

Review

Eve is doing her best to ensure her business makeover show makes it past season two. Josie is struggling to keep her father’s bar afloat and she put her career hopes, rescuing cats, on hold. A horrible instance of Eve finding abandoned newborn kittens draws these two women together. Eve reaches out in desperation hoping Josie would take the kittens off her hands. Josie teaches her the basics. Eve ends up working with Josie to rebrand the bar and ensure its success. The more time they spend with each other, the deeper their connection grows.

            What I really enjoyed about Don’t Cry for Me was how genuine both Eve and Josie appeared to be. They were themselves from the moment we met them on page. Eve is still grieving a loss, but Josie is the first person that she connects with. Eve fights the attraction in the beginning. She has a sense of professionalism that she holds herself to. But it’s hard to resist the whirlwind of Josie.

            I’ve always wanted to read a romance where the reality show hosts falls for a ‘contestant’ on their show. There were flirty moments and stolen kisses between the two women and it was just so good. I wish we would have gotten steamier scenes between them. Their chemistry was intense, and I wanted to see more.

            The writing was fluid, I could picture Eve, Josie, and the bar perfectly in my mind as I read. Josie’s friends were exactly like a couple of my friends and I loved seeing secondary characters like Adam and Kaia. I had fun reading their story and I was able to read it quickly. It was an escape from everything happening around me with work and class. I’m definitely going to give Lacey’s other works a read!

Get your copy here

Huntsman by Morgan Brice

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Three out of Five Stars

 

Summary

A grieving wolf. A hunted fox. Fated mates, thrown together by chance, and the looming threat of a fabled Huntsman who might tear them apart forever.

Fox shifter Liam Reynard is running from a killer. He uproots his life to find sanctuary in Fox Hollow, deep in the Adirondack Forest in New York.

When his car breaks down, sexy wolf shifter Russ Lowe comes to the rescue, and one touch makes it clear they’re fated mates. Neither man was looking for love, and both are still mending from past heartbreak. When mysterious fires and disappearances threaten Fox Hollow, Liam fears the killer is hot on his trail. Can he protect the town and his fated mate from the evil hunting him, or will an ex-lover’s betrayal cost Liam everything he loves?

Huntsman is full of sexy shifters, hurt/comfort, second chance love, sincere psychics, hot first responders, found family, and fated mates.

Review

I want to preface this by saying that I am normally a huge fan of Morgan Brice. I absolutely love all her work.  Huntsman was not it for me. It was an okay read, but I expected more than what I read. If you enjoy the fated-mates trope, this is definitely a book you’ll want to check out. It has a sweet romance between a fox-shifter and a wolf-shifter that is weaved throughout, action takes a backseat in this one.

Liam Reynard, fox shifter librarian, is on the run from a Huntsman. With little warning, he packs his bags and heads to the one place he can think of, Fox Hollow. A former professor offered him a job and now it’s his only hope for safety.

His car breaks down just outside of town and Russ Lowe, wolf-shifter, firefighter, and tow truck driver, comes to his rescue. From the moment they meet, sparks ignite between the two of them. Neither man put much thought into fated mates, but it seems like they are it for each other.

One aspect of Huntsman that I did enjoy was the fact that it was a shifter story, where the characters were able to live their lives out loud in Fox Hollow. I’ve had a difficult time finding shifter stories that aren’t mpreg and I was excited to see this wasn’t a mpreg story. Don’t get me wrong, there are some great mpreg stories, but sometimes you don’t want that.

Also, the secondary characters (I’m sure will also get their own books), teased Russ mercilessly because of the preternatural sniffers. It always makes me laugh and feel a little bit of second hand embarrassment for the characters.

Fox Hollow felt like a small town that I would want to be a part of, but I felt like there was something missing throughout the entire novel. Everything wrapped up too cleanly and quickly. I wanted more than what I got. 

Get your copy here

Ruby Run by Sam Burns

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3.5 Stars out of 5

Summary

Augustus Ambrose never planned to return to the United States after graduation. His mother’s final letter, with its dire threats about what would await if he did, had been more than enough to keep him away. But when his Aunt Grace dies unexpectedly and leaves him her ranch in the New Mexico Territory, he can’t ignore it. Grace gave him everything, and he can’t let her legacy suffer for his childish fear of his mother.

Griffith Taylor doesn’t want much. Quiet nights on the range, a big blue sky, and no rattlesnakes in his boots. He definitely doesn’t want to travel to Boston to take care of his late boss’s heir. When he lays eyes on his charge, everything changes. Not just because Augie is the best looking greenhorn he’s ever clapped eyes on, oh no.

Someone wants Griff’s new boss dead, and they’re not afraid to use forbidden magic to get the job done. Griff can handle himself in a fight, but this job might be more than he’s prepared for.

Review

If you are looking for a light-hearted, quick read with a paranormal western edge then this is the perfect book (and series) to dive in to. Ruby Run is part of the Tin Star Witches: The Witches of Ruby Gulch series, each novel written by a different author.

Griff and Augie are complete opposites of each other. Griff is a Range Witch working at the Lost Chance ranch. Augie has just inherited the Lost Chance ranch from his aunt. The journey to Lost Chance bring a lot more trouble then a city boy not being able to cut it in the west.

These two character are so cute together. Augie is unsure of himself, he knows nothing about ranching but this is the first opportunity to find a home. He can’t pass that up. Griff likes Augie just as he is, caring, kind, and perfect for him in every way.

The chemistry between Griff and Augie is instantaneous and burns brightly. There are a few spicy scenes which were great. There were some flirty scenes that just had me grinning. Griff and Augie, I just love them. This was a great read.

Get your copy here

A Vigil in the Mourning by Hailey Turner

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Four out of Five Stars

Summary:

Special Agent Patrick Collins is dispatched to Chicago, chasing a lead on the Morrígan’s staff for the joint task force. Needing a cover for his presence in the Windy City, Patrick is ordered to investigate a politician running for mayor. In the lead up to election day, not everything is what it seems in a city where playing to win means appeasing the gods first and the electorate second.

But Chicago brings its own set of problems outside the case: a stand-offish local god pack, a missing immortal, and Patrick’s twin sister. Fighting Hannah and the Dominion Sect provides Patrick with a sinister reminder that some blood ties can never be cut.

Left behind in New York City, Jonothon de Vere finds himself targeted by hunters who will go through anyone to kill him—including the packs under his protection. With a bounty on his head, Jono is forced to make a choice that Patrick would never approve of. Doing so risks breaking the trust he’s built with the man he loves, but not acting will give the rival New York City god pack leverage Jono can’t afford to give up.

When Patrick and Jono reunite in Chicago, Patrick must confront the fraying of a relationship he’s come to rely on for his own sanity. But fixing their personal problems will have to wait—because Niflheim is clawing at the shores of Lake Michigan and the dead are hungry.

The Review

It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of Hailey Turner’s novels. No matter what the book is, I have to grab it as soon as I can to read it. Vigil in the Mourning wasn’t any different. It was full of action, adventure, Wade’s snack shenanigans, Jono and the pack, and ultimately Patrick and Jono finding home with each other.

This novel separated Patrick and Jono apart for a bit of time. Patrick was in Chicago while Jono remained in New York. That was one thing I missed, Patrick and Jono’s intimacy that we got in the previous books. He had no moment of quiet with Jono and after everything they went through, I desperately wanted that for them. That’s my only complaint.

We did get a better insight into Jono, which I loved. He has such strength as an individual but when he is with his pack. He’s unstoppable. I feel like we were teased a bit with this aspect of the storyline. There’s more what happened in New York while Patrick was in Chicago. I’m on the edge of my seat waiting for more to happen.

If you are a fan of Norse mythology, you will thoroughly enjoy this. I loved the portrayal of the Valkyrie with a modern day twist. Thor, Odin, and a plethora of other Gods worm their way into Patrick’s life and case, and they make his life even more complicated. Each of these gods were portrayed as warriors, harsh, cunning, and willing to push the boundaries.

It was a good addition to the series. I do feel like this book set up so many different avenues for the plot to continue on. I wonder what the next book in the series will bring. At this time of this posting, Hailey Turner mentioned being 50K into the next book, so hopefully we won’t be waiting too long for answers.

Get your copy here

The Last Kiss by Sally Malcolm

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Five out of Five Stars

Summary

When Captain Ashleigh Arthur Dalton went to war in 1914, he never expected to fall in love. Yet over three long years at the front, his dashing batman, Private West, became his reason for fighting—and his reason for living.

But Ash’s war ends in catastrophe. Gravely wounded, he’s evacuated home to his family’s country house in Highcliffe. Bereft of West, angry and alone, Ash struggles to re-join the genteel world he no longer understands.

For Harry West, an ostler from London’s East End, it was love at first sight when he met kind and complex Captain Dalton. Harry doubts their friendship can survive in the class-bound world back home, but he knows he’ll never forget his captain.

When the guns finally fall silent, Harry finds himself adrift in London. Unemployed and desperate, he swallows his pride and travels to Highcliffe in search of work and the man he loves. Under the nose of Ash’s overbearing father, the men’s intense wartime friendship deepens into a passionate, forbidden love affair.

But breaching the barriers of class and sexuality is dangerous and enemies lurk in Highcliffe’s rose-scented shadows.

After giving their all for their country, Harry and Ash face a terrible choice—defy family, society and the law to love as their hearts demand, or say goodbye forever…

The Review

As a military history buff (I got my Bachelor’s degree in history with a concentration on American history) this is the type of book I have been itching to find. It didn’t romanticize World War I. It showed the horrifying moments that men had to face. We were witness to the emotions, the acts the forced themselves to commit in the name of their country, and the consequences that war has on those brave souls.

War forges bonds between those involved. They find their moments of peace, share the bits of joy when they can, and do what they are ordered. It is no different for Captain Ashleigh Dalton, no matter how he has come to think of the men in his company. He blows his whistle and they rush forward greeting death.

During one of those rushes, Ash suffers a devastating injury and by the will of Private Harry West, he is carried to safety. A desperate kiss being the only communication between the two of them. Ashleigh survives, losing his leg, and being sent back home to recover. West continues fighting hoping Ash had survived.

The war ends and Harry West drifts aimlessly in London as he searches for work. He swallows his pride and goes to the man who kept him going during the war. Captain Ashleigh. The connection they formed hadn’t dampened. Seeing each other, all their feelings resurface and intensify. They’re who they chose to be when they are alone with each other.

There was this burning chemistry between Ash and West from the first pages. They understood each other’s needs and how to calm war raging inside. It was as simple as a cup of tea, a few pages from a book, and sitting shoulder to shoulder. West was the only rays of happiness Ashleigh had after the war. Their friendship wasn’t accepted by Ashleigh’s parents or anyone in his social circle. But they found time and a way to be there for each other.

Once they admitted their feelings and acted on them? It was beautiful.

There were moments my heart hurt for them, and times I didn’t want to take my eyes from the pages because I could feel their happiness. I feel like I could go on and on about what I liked about this book, but I would spoil it for ya’ll. I want a physical copy of this book for my bookshelf.

Get your copy here

The Easy Way – Written by May Archer, Narrated by Michael Dean

Audiobook Review

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Four out of Five Stars

Summary:

Camden Seaver had it easy – a loving family, plenty of money, and the freedom to follow his dreams while his older brother, Sebastian, took charge of the family business. But when a tragic plane crash killed his parents, all the responsibilities he never wanted landed firmly on his shoulders. Now saddled with his crazy, grief-stricken brother and his dad’s multimillion dollar company, Cam doesn’t trust in dreams anymore. He’s forgotten what “easy” feels like.

FBI Agent Kendrick “Cort” Cortland learned the hard way that he couldn’t depend on anyone but himself. Before joining the FBI, the one constant in his life was his foster brother, Damon – and then Damon disappeared. Now, Cort is determined to find his brother and to bring down the man responsible for ruining Damon’s life, Sebastian Seaver. He’s got nothing left to lose.

When Cort’s investigation leads him to Seaver Tech…and Camden Seaver…what started as a quest for revenge and a one-night deception quickly turns into far more than either man bargained for. But how can either man trust in something that seems so easy? As long-held secrets are revealed, the attraction between Cam and Cort becomes combustible – an undeniable love that will either make or destroy them. Will Cam and Cort let their conflicting loyalties drive them apart? Or will they decide that sometimes love is the easy way?

Review:

Michael Dean has a voice that hits in all the right spots. There were moments his voice dripped along my spine and kept me mesmerized with Cort and Cam’s story. Out of everything, my favorite parts of narration were how he portrayed their text conversations. He captured the different tones and inflections for Cam and Cort’s responses, it felt like he knew them. He had a very alpha like quality to his voice.

Cortland is determined to find a way locate and clear his foster brother, Damon, of any wrongdoing in the Seaver plane crash. He didn’t expect to find Camden Seaver, very much the antithesis of what he was expecting to find. Geeky, self-conscious, and desperate to be anywhere but where he was. He wasn’t expecting to be so drawn to someone he was supposed to hate.

The attraction between Cortland and Cam, burned in all the best ways. When the first met, they challenged each other, teased each other, and found something completely unexpected in each other.

Cortland’s desire to be as many of Cam’s firsts, well, *fans self* it was just so good. The heat factor on this one is up there. He pulled Cam out of his shell, taught him how to experience life again after a devastating loss. Cam grounded Cort. He let Cort know that there were more people in life that he could depend on than himself.

The epilogue made me so happy. I needed to know what things would be between Cort and Cam after everything. And I got more of their text conversations. I probably smiled way too much at my desk at work listening to them banter back and forth.

This was definitely a book I was able to get lost in and loved listening to.

Grab your copy here!

Happy Place by Jay Northcote

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Four out of Five Stars

Summary:

A first kiss from a younger man leads to a sexual awakening…

George’s strict upbringing has left him ashamed of his sexuality. In his forties now, he’s yet to come out or even kiss a man – until he meets Quentin.

Quentin has had enough of bad relationships with men who won’t commit. Still raw from the last one, he’s not ready to try again. But George is sweet, and helping the older man get some experience might be a fun diversion.

Swept rapidly into a deeper connection than they bargained for, they face a dilemma. George isn’t ready to come out, and Quentin wants a boyfriend who isn’t afraid to be seen with him in public. Can they find a way to navigate the unpredictable waters of their new relationship and find happiness together.

The Review

This is the first book I’ve read of the Rainbow Place series and I’m sitting here wondering why I waited this long to grab one of these books? George, I wanted to give him a hug and tell him to trust that it was going to be okay if he was true to himself.

George is firmly planted in the closet, coming to terms with his sexuality and is used to denying himself basic companionship. Quentin tears into his life in the form of an interview for a local paper. It’s hard to resist an older man with no strings attached.

George, I felt for him. He’s denied himself for so long, he doesn’t know how to handle himself. He wants to experience actual human touch and interaction, but he’s terrified. I one hundred percent understand that  fear. There were so many expectations on him, at one time being married to a woman, having a child with her. He was an older man, with no experience.

Quentin lived openly and wanted to have a relationship he didn’t have to hide. Some how, George’s offer was too hard to resist. He’d help George experience life as a gay man outside of the porn he watches.

The two together, you don’t think they would work out well. But they do. Eventually. There are hiccups in their arrangement. George is terrified and Quentin wanting more than what he is getting from their arrangement. Their interactions sizzled. Like there were some intense moments between the two men. George was willing to try any and everything, but wasn’t afraid to say he didn’t like something. One thing that didn’t work for me was the dirty talk, that’s a personal preference though. I’m not a fan of it.

My favorite scene was the date on George’s boat. They were both so free, happy, and excited about life. It was only fitting that it served as a turning point in their relationship. It is a scene that still floats around my mind when I think of this book.

After reading this, I did go out and get the rest of the series. Northcote writes in a way that it’s easy to get lost in the characters.

Get your copy here

Before the Call by Emma Alcott

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Four out of Five Stars

Summary:

Rule #1 Don’t fall for the ridiculously hot straight guy
Rule #2 Especially not if he’s your best friend
Rule #3 Extra-especially not when you’re supposed to be his private tutor
Rule #4 Oh, god, but those eyes
Rule #5 Okay, maybe eyes are fine if you don’t look south
Rule #6 Don’t look south
Rule #7 You looked south, didn’t you?
Rule #8 Are you even listening?

Gabe Mitchell isn’t listening. What’s worse, ever since he moved back to the small town he thought he’d left for good, he’s turned into a habitual rule breaker.

Falling for his straight best friend, Clark Summers? Check.
Falling for his straight best friend, Clark Summers, who also happens to be his newest mature student? Check.
And don’t you dare get him started about what’s going on down south, because Gabe doesn’t need to check that to know he’s in deep.

It’s a good thing Clark’s missed him these last four years, and a better thing that he’s willing to do whatever it takes to have Gabe back in his life, because rules are about to be broken. All of them. And Clark’s only rule? The one about being straight? It might just end up broken, too.

 

The Review

I’m an absolute sucker for the friends to lovers trope, but add gay for you to it? That’s my jam. There was something about this story that made my day a little bit brighter and made me want to go back and read the first book in the series.

Gabe and Clark *sigh* have been friends since high school. Gabe is a kind, nerdy and moved back to town because he couldn’t find a job anywhere else. Clark has never left. He worked in the mines, takes care of his brothers and sisters while his mother works and never finished high school. Reuniting ignites an attraction between the two of them.

The heat factor in this one is up there. Once Gabe and Clark get it together, they can’t keep their hands off each other. Clark is willing to learn and try whatever Gabe throws his way. I have a thing for couch scenes, and it was done well in this book.

Family was a central force in this book. Gabe accepted how much Clark’s family relied on him, but he also worked around it and he helped when he could. He treated Clark’s family as his own, because that’s how it was while they were in high school.

They were such a cute couple. This was a low angst, longer read, but I thoroughly enjoyed this book!

Get your copy here!

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.

Get your copy here

Hemingway’s Notebook by Jackie North

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Five out of Five Stars

Summary

Soulmates across time. Two souls connected by destiny.

In present day, Jake, lonely and cut off from his parents, travels to the Chamberlin Inn in Cody, Wyoming to work on extra credit for his college seminar.

In 1932, Sebby labors at the Chamberlin Inn for pennies a day, wishing with all his heart for a better life.

While taking photographs in the room where Ernest Hemingway once stayed, Jake is flung back in time to the year 1932. There he meets Sebby who is living on the edge, half starving, a victim of the Great Depression. He’s been dodging rent collectors, getting behind on doctor’s bills, trying to care for his ailing Pop.

Sebby falls hard for Jake with his movie star smile, but knows something is different about him. Jake wears strange clothes, talks too fast, and doesn’t look like he’s gone hungry a day in his whole life. He’s also the handsomest boy Sebby has ever seen.

Jake is drawn to Sebby’s dark eyes, shy smile, and gentle heart. Sebby is like nobody Jake has ever met. And though the year 1932 scares him to his very core, he needs to decide. Go home? Or stay and weather the Depression with Sebby, whom he has grown to love.

Review

I absolutely love this series, that is no secret. The covers are gorgeous, the characters feel real, and the history is accurate. These are books I rec out to everyone. Saying that, this book hit me in a different way. It could be I’m currently studying Hemingway in one of my classes, or I spent a lot of time in my undergrad years studying this time period. But this one officially takes my number one spot in the Love Across Time Series. Sebby and Jake are just, they’re everything!

Sebby and Pop are living life the best they can during the Great Depression. They’re barely making it, but they do the best that they can without heat, hot water, or enough food. Jake’s trying to get through his college program, but ends up in in 1932 Cody, Wyoming.

Sebby’s so sweet and innocent, which makes his attraction to Jake that much sweeter. Jake, he wants to do all that he can for Sebby and Pop. He cared so much for the people he had just met, it was hard to find fault in him.

The attraction between Sebby and Jake was perfect *sigh*. Sebby’s unintentional flirting had me smirking while reading. I like that this was kept, low level heat. I mean, there were still intimate moments between them. Both Sebby and Jake had so much to learn about themselves and each other, that I could picture a follow up short story showing us how Colorado turned out for them.

This was a definite one-click read for me and I’m so glad that I read it.

Get your copy here!