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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Role Model by Rachel Reid

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Five out of Five Stars

Summary

Troy Barrett has been freshly traded to Ottawa after calling out Dallas Kent during a team practice. He wants to be a better person, and the weird, scrappy energy of the struggling Ottawa team seems like the place to…well. It seems like the only place that will have Troy right now.

Fortunately the Ottawa team includes Ilya Rozanov and Wyatt Hayes, and also includes an adorable social media manager, Harris Drover. Harris is the opposite of Troy in every way: friendly, cheerful, chatty, and goofy with a booming voice, a startlingly loud laugh, and Pride pins all over his denim jacket. Definitely not the sort of person Troy would normally associate with, and yet…

Review

Troy Barrett has been punished for doing what he felt was right. Calling out a former teammate for deplorable behavior and taking a stand. He landed in Ottawa, to a failing team, trying to find his place among players he feels like are better people than he is. He keeps his guard up and doesn’t let plan on letting anyone in to see the real him.

He didn’t predict the social media manager, Harris Drover. There’s something about the man that makes Troy want to smile, be himself, and to share who he is with everyone else. Troy believes that he could be a better person.

First off, I was not ugly crying towards the end of the book. I just had a really big eye lash in my eye, and I couldn’t get it out. Also, I’m sure Reid had no way of knowing just how Troy’s storyline would tie into reality. There’s a double standard in athletics today that she addresses and does eloquently. Just because someone is an athlete, it doesn’t excuse their behavior. They are held to the same rules as the rest of us normal folks.

What I loved about Role Model was the way I could relate to Troy. He wasn’t just a fictional hockey player. There was depth to his character. There is so much I want to just say here, but I’d spoil the book. I’m trying to be careful not to do that.

Troy had hidden himself from the people in his life for so long, finally meeting people who accepted him no matter what and supported him, I could feel the freedom that Troy was experiencing.

I was proud of him, for sticking to his beliefs and challenging those around him, even when he was pretty much ousted for those beliefs. I was proud of the whole Ottawa team.

Harris was so adorable. Any time he came into a scene I ended up smiling. Then finding out he wasn’t all innocent under it all made him even better.

The chemistry between Troy and Harris was phenomenal. They gravitated towards each other. Then those romance scenes, oh my, they were good. It made my heart beat a little faster. It felt right for them in those scenes and moments.

Reid has a way of painting a vivid picture with her words, and I could see Troy, Harris, and the entire Ottawa setting clearly in my mind as I read.

To be released August 10, 2021

The Soldier and the Spy by Annabelle Greene

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Three out of Five Stars

Summary

A beholden man finds himself falling for the war hero he’s destined to double-cross.

Three hundred pounds for one night of protection. It’s a job offer, but it’s also a ruse. Captain Benjamin Frakes, war hero and de facto head of the Society of Beasts—a club for gentlemen who prefer gentlemen—is tempted to turn it down. But August Weatherby, the sexy, brazen stranger making the offer, has captivated him completely.

August is hardly the flush flirt he claims to be, however. An indebted man, desperate to save his infirm sister, August makes an ideal pawn for a lord eager to bring down the Society of Beasts once and for all. But August’s charge to find evidence against Frakes is at odds with his own virgin desire to entice the captain into showing him the true meaning of pleasure.

As August’s infiltration pushes him deeper into the beguiling world of delights behind the Society’s closed doors, he and Frakes discover new ways to push the boundaries of their own cravings. But with mounting pressure to complete his devious mission, August finds himself torn between the man his heart yearns for and the sister whose life depends on his betrayal.

 

Review

August Weatherby is a desperate man. His sister is ill, his debts are racking up, and he’s got nowhere to turn. Until he has an offer to help ensure his sister would remain safe and fed. He needs to infiltrate the Society of the Beasts and get ahold of evidence against Captain Benjamin Frakes to use for blackmail.

I feel like the best part of this novel was August’s character growth. He was initially a man entirely focused on his and his sister’s survival. He was willing to do everything possible to ensure they make it. As he became more involved with the Society of Beasts and got to know each of the members, things started to change for him. It wasn’t easy to betray the people that he had come to call friends.

I was expecting a little more espionage and action, but this was a little light on what I hoped for. There was a little more action towards the end of the ovel and it pulled me in and had me rooting for both August and Frakes.

Towards the end of the novel, I felt like I was finally able to understand who Benjamin Frakes was. He had been so closed off, and despite the courage he had in war, he was afraid now that he was home.

Okay, so the facts. Do you need to read the first in the series to enjoy this? Nope. Would you benefit from it? Yeah, there’s some background on some of the characters that I feel like would have made things better. Would I recommend this to other readers? If you are a historical romance reader, I’d definitely give this one a go. 

To be released April 20, 2021

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

Demons Do It Better by Louisa Masters

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Four out of Five Stars

Summary

I work for Lucifer. Only, it’s not as cool and satanic as it sounds.

The truth is, I’m an admin assistant who applied for a job that sounded kind of interesting and ended up working for the Community of Species Government. I’m the only human in the office, and basically I ride herd on a team of rambunctious shifters and demons.

I also spend a lot of time avoiding Gideon Bailey, the demon I had a one-night stand with right before I took this job. He hates me, and I really want to avoid being murdered. But I’ve been offered a promotion that will mean working with him, so we’re both going to have to get over it.

Plus, people are going missing. Pregnant people. And the word is that someone is dabbling in genetic experimentation. Putting a stop to that is more important than the sexual tension Gideon and I have been ignoring… isn’t it?

Review

Why didn’t I read this book sooner?! This was such a fun read.

Sam, a human, unknowingly applies for a job with the Community of Species Government which is very much not human. It turns out to be one of the best decisions he’s made though. He’s found a family with the group he works with and he enjoys his work again. Turns out, the guy he hooked up with a couple nights ago? Well they now work at the same agency and he’s a lot grumpier at work then he was in the bedroom.

What did I love about this book? Sam’s personality. He might be a short fella, but he is larger than life. He’s sarcastic, witty, and the kind of person I would love to be friends within real life. He keeps you grounded and makes sure you don’t get too big of a head lol.

Then the shift in Sam’s character. I don’t want to give too much away, but I loved this twist and then the resulting events afterwards. Gideon, a demon who is hot as hell, finally melts just a bit towards Sam.

This book is definitely here to establish the bigger storyline. Pregnant people going missing, genetic experimentation involving both humans and members of the community. The case hits close to home, once Sam learns more about where he came from, and it pushes them to work harder to find out how save these people.

What I wish there was more of? A little more resolution. I felt like the story had just got started and then it was over.

Give this book a try. I’ve already scooped up the second in the series because I need more of these characters in my life!

Get your copy here

Learned Behaviors by Jayce Ellis

Learned Behaviors (Higher Education, #1)

Four out of Five Stars

Summary

Two single dads meet at the office where it’s hate at first sight in this new series from acclaimed author Jayce Ellis.

Sending his daughter off to college is the proudest day of single dad JaQuan Reynolds’ life. Everything took a back seat to raising her—including his career. He has no idea what comes next, but his newfound freedom is quickly curtailed by a crash deadline at work and the uptight, hovering presence of consultant Matthew Donaldson. He’s surly and insufferably sexy, and Jaq’s ready to check him out and write him off—right up until a work assignment forces them together.

Every day. From now until Thanksgiving.

Work and fatherhood have been Matt’s whole world for years now, ever since his marriage ended. His eldest son is getting hitched over Thanksgiving weekend, and he’s not going to let a work deadline get in the way of celebrating with his family—not this time. The hours aren’t a problem, but the executive assistant on the project might be. Jaq’s sexy voice makes Matt yearn for things he let go of a long time ago.

Lust isn’t on the schedule, and neither is longing. But as the weeks go by, Matt and Jaq are forced to reevaluate their plans…and discover that even the most tight-knit of families can make room for one more.

Review

This was the first novel I’ve read by Jayce Ellis, and I loved it! I’ve got all the rest of Jayce’s novels on my wishlist.

JaQuan Reynolds is a dedicated, hardworking, young single-father. At 35 he’s dropping his daughter off for her first days of college and finding out who he is outside of fatherhood. He loves his job, but being thrown head first into a time crunch with a partner company to release a line of home goods for Black Friday, it’s stressful.

What JaQuan didn’t factor in was Matt and how, smart, determined, and undeniably attractive the man was. Matt is a little too married to his job and it shows in his family life. He almost doesn’t get an invitation to his son’s wedding, his daughter doesn’t talk to him about her personal life, and his ex-wife has little faith in him when it comes to anything besides work.

What I loved what how distinctive JaQuan and Matt were. I could hear their voices in my head as I read, and oh my, it felt like fingertips dancing down my spine. I was in the office they worked in, on campus with their girls and at Matt’s son’s wedding. I could picture their daughters, Jaq’s mother like they were my family. The secondary characters, were strong, independent women. I don’t think we get that enough in books. They were just as important to Jaq and Matt’s storyline as their interactions were. Ellis paints a vivid picture with her writing.

JaQuan, while younger than Matt, taught Matt more about the important things in life. Your family, friends, and individual happiness is more important than the whir of work. Someone is always there to take your place at work, but not with your family.

The chemistry between Jaq and Matt *fans self* oh from the moment they laid eyes on each other I could feel the heat. They may not have liked each other all that much in the beginning, but the more they worked together the more intense their feelings became. I do wish there was a little more to the romance scenes.  

I’m going to go see which book I’m going to buy next!

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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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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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Risking the Shot by Amy Aislin

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Four out of Five Stars

Summary

Time for distractions? Hardly.

A chance at making the playoffs? It’s a dream for NHL forward Taylor Cunningham that just might come true. If he can keep his eyes on the ball—ahem, puck. And study for midterms. Dakota Cotton, eleven years his senior, isn’t just a distraction, though—he’s everything Tay’s ever wanted.

Dakota has no interest in introducing someone who might not stick around to his four-year-old son. Been there, done that, with the divorce to prove it. But there’s something about Tay that hits all of the right buttons and has him wanting to take a chance.

As things heat up between them, and the pressure to succeed hits an all-time high, will they risk a shot at happiness or choke?

Review

Taylor Cunningham, professional hockey player, has been crushing on Dakota Cotton, who works for the team’s nonprofit, since he laid eyes on the man. Dakota may be eleven years older than Tay, but there’s something about the older man that pushes every button for him. Even his four year old son, Andy.

I related to Taylor so much. Not because I’m a hockey player, but because he takes so much on his shoulders. He’s playing professional hockey while pursuing a degree for paramedicine. Then he works on his comic and helps plan a big party for his mom while dealing with the strained relationship he has with his older sisters.

He’s doesn’t share his art with those closest to him because he felt like it wasn’t ever going to be good enough. When he starts gaining his confidence, oh that was such a sweet feeling. It’s something that I struggled with. I’m glad it wasn’t just me (even if Taylor is a fictional character) other people experience the same feelings.

Dakota, oh goodness, he and Andy were my heart. Taylor integrated into their little family unit seamlessly and he treated Dakota’s son Andy the way any parent would want their child to be treated by someone they were dating. And, Dakota, oh boy, he’s quite an attractive fella. He’s smart, creative, and sexy.  I’ll never think about scotch in the same way after reading this.

Dakota and Taylor, the chemistry and tension between them *fans self* whoo boy. I so wish we would have gotten to see what could have happened in the coat room. And the scotch! Like hell to the yes. All the yeses! I’m going to have to file that away for later *cackles*.

Would I recommend reading this book? 100%, read it. It would be helpful reading the rest of the Stick Side series because other characters pop up in this.

 

To be released September 8th 2020 – Get your copy here

Packing Heat by Austin Bates

Four out of Five Stars

Summary

I’ve never been so humiliated in my life.

My twin brother is the definition of a lost soul. And it bothers me, sure… but I didn’t even know he was out of jail until a steamy older bounty hunter showed up at my workplace, looking for him.

And tackled me to the ground in his place.

Now I’m out of a job and gunning for my brother, and there’s only one person I know who can help me find him – the bounty hunter who got me in this situation to start with.

They say that the enemy of your enemy is your friend, but I’m not sure that teaming up with Neo feels all that friendly. He’s my opposite in every way – I’m younger, he’s older; I’m loud, and he’s the strong, silent type. I’m omega… and he’s all alpha.

The more I get to know Neo, the less I want to be his enemy. But we’re only together for one purpose: to catch my brother.

Right?

Review

Let me start with the narrator, Christopher Kauzlarich. Looking at other reviews, you either love him or hate him. I LOVED Christopher Kauzlarich’s narration. His voice is exactly how I imagined Tucker would sound. Soft, considerate, and easy to listen to.

            On to the story!

            Tucker’s twin brother can’t seem to stay out of trouble. Neo, a bounty hunter, makes an easy mistake, thinking Tucker was who he was trying to find. This gets their romance started. Tucker, even as angry as he is with Neo, he can’t seem to stop thinking about Neo. Even though the man cost him his job.

            One thing you should know, Tucker is an omega and Neo is an alpha. They dance around each other in the beginning, but they compliment each other well. Tucker doesn’t bend to Neo’s will. He challenges the older man. Their chemistry intensified as the story progressed and they had some steamy romance scenes.

            Overall, this was a quick and fun read.

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