His Favorite Player by Alie Nolan

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Three out of Five Stars

Summary

Ryan has been living a lie his entire life in fear of losing his NFL career, because of who he is behind the lie. Football is all he’s ever wanted, the thing he loves most in the world—until he meets a gorgeous man in a bar, with bleached-blond hair, a sexy British accent, and a Piranhas hat, who changes everything.

Alec doesn’t understand American football—why would he? The cute stranger in the bar doesn’t need to know that though. What starts as a simple white lie about his favorite NFL player, turns into so much more.

Living in a new city, thousands of miles from his home town, the last thing Alec expects is to be swept up into a secret romance with one of the Portland Piranhas’ biggest stars, but is falling in love enough for Ryan to risk losing his career by coming out? Is it enough for Alec to go back in the closet until Ryan retires?

The Review

His Favorite Player was a quick, fun, and low-angst football romance. Ryan and Alec has instantaneous chemistry and a connection that built as time passed.

I love the trope, a celebrity falling for someone who has no idea who they are. There’s an appeal, for someone famous to find someone that makes them feel normal, and loved, and more than what they are famous for. It just tickled me that he lied that Ryan was his favorite player, with no clue he was talking to Ryan. He and Ryan are so happy together. There were times that had me grinning as I read scenes with them together.

They were such a fun couple, foodfight and all.

The *cough* romance *cough* scenes were plentiful. If you’re looking for more of that than a drawn out romance, this will hit all your buttons. I just wanted there to be more.

One scene that stuck with me, and will stick with me for a long time, is when Ryan’s father met Alec. I could sit here and tell you all about it, but I think it’s best experienced by reading it yourself. It was organic, honest, and touching.

On to book two!

Get your copy here!

Tough Guy by Rachel Reid

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Five out of Five Stars

Summary: They have nothing in common—so why does Ryan feel most like himself whenever he’s with Fabian?

Pro hockey star Ryan Price may be an enforcer, but off the ice he struggles with anxiety. Recently traded to the Toronto Guardians, he’s determined to make a fresh start in the city’s dynamic LGBTQ Village. The last thing he expects to stumble upon in his new neighborhood is a blast from his past in the fabulous form of Fabian Salah.

Aspiring musician Fabian loathes hockey. But that doesn’t stop him from being attracted to a certain burly, ginger-bearded defenseman. He hasn’t forgotten the kiss they almost shared back in high school, and it’s clear the chemistry between them has only intensified.

Fabian is more than happy to be Ryan’s guide to the gay scene in Toronto. Between dance clubs and art exhibits—and the most amazing sex—Ryan’s starting to feel something he hasn’t experienced in a long time: joy. But playing the role of the heavy on the ice has taken its toll on his body and mind, and a future with Fabian may mean hanging up his skates for good.

The Review

I looooved this book. I’m an unabashed hockey fanatic stuck in Louisiana. I don’t think we get enough books featuring players from the defense (or goalies or gingers). There is more to Ryan Price as a person than being an enforcer on the ice, and he’s trying to figure out what that means for him. He gets traded from team with the expectation that when it comes down to it, he’ll be there to drop gloves. Arriving in Toronto, he doesn’t want to be that player. He wants to find his love for hockey again, and but he doesn’t know how to find it. I’m going to focus a lot on Ryan’s character, I apologize in advance, but some of the things he said and did, I felt it in my bones.

Ryan and Fabian met when Ryan billeted with Fabian family for a year during his junior hockey years. They shared a moment with each other, but then were separated. (I have such a need for a YA book with this premise, just FYI) Fabian is chasing his dreams, playing music, working in a drug store support himself, and then Ryan unexpectedly comes back into his life.

The chemistry between the two of them, it was present since their youth and it has only grown stronger since they’ve reconnected as adults. As they’ve started to get to know each other as friends, their relationship slowly transitions into something more steamy, delicious and just perfect.

Rachel Reid does something great with Tough Guy. She acknowledges the mental health stigma that men face, and the impact treating those illnesses can have on a personal physically and intimately. There is a moment between he and Fabian, that I wish I could quote it here but it would be entirely spoiler-y and I won’t do that to you, but I felt it in my heart and it brought tears to my eyes. Anxiety makes your mind do crazy things, even during sex, and Ryan trusting Fabian enough to be open with him about this? That got me. I finally felt like there was a character out there that was written for me!

Fabian supported Ryan and Ryan supported Fabian in the very best way, even though they had their ups and downs, they were such a great couple together. The supporting characters, Fabian’s friends and Ryan’s teammate, kept this story moving and fun.

Please, go pre-order this. I apparently did in October, then got approved for an E-ARC, so I was all about this book months ago and younger me was on to something.

Order your copy here!

 

 

 

 

Shots on Goal by Amy Aislin

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Four out of Five Stars

The Summary: Recently traded to the newly formed Vermont Trailblazers, professional hockey player Roman Kinsey needs to focus on helping the team win games and filling the stands, not on the blond, bespectacled part-timer who works at the library he volunteers at. He knows all too well that outing himself equals heartache and ridicule…or worse.

Cody Evans, psych major and grad school hopeful, notices everything and thinks too much. But he doesn’t know what to think when he sees Roman reading to kids. The rugged hockey player just doesn’t look like the type. But it stirs something in him, something he’s never felt before.

When the library is threatened with closure, Cody enlists Roman’s help. As they get to know each other better…much, much better…they realize that they have more in common than books. But Roman’s keeping a big part of himself from his team, and giving in to his feelings for Cody might be more than he’s willing to risk.

The Review

I’ve been in a bit of a reading slump lately. Everything I picked up I just put down and gave up on. This book, Shots on Goal, pulled me out of a severe reading slump and reminded me why I love to read, especially around the holiday season.

I read this in one sitting (well I stayed up late and went to work sleep deprived). Roman and Cody were everything I need as a pick me up.

Roman Kinsey has just been traded to the Vermont Trailblazers and he’s trying to change. He wants to become more active with the team, be it through charity events, community outreach and getting to know his teammates. Roman is a character has been through some rough times and because of it, he’s been closed off.

There were so many times I wanted to jump through the pages of this book to give Roman a hug, and to let him know it was going to be okay. There were times that my heart just hurt for him. But, Roman kind of reminded me of myself. It’s hard to break out of the habits that are so ingrained, that stepping out and doing things like hanging out with teammates, volunteering to help save a local library (thanks Cody!), it’s all a bit overwhelming but he really showed his strength. I looooooved that he baked and cooked his way into his teammates hearts. Like, who does that? Roman Kinsey, that’s who!

Cody Evans, that fella is a handful, in all the best ways. He challenged Roman, reminded him that it’s okay to want certain things, and to be yourself.

Roman and Cody were just so sweet together. Well, a combination of burning chemistry, sweetness, and oh boy *fans self* heat. There was just the right amount of flirty scenes that I felt like they were going to develop into a long-term relationship.

This is another hockey m/m romance that will be in my reread list when I need a pick-me-up and a little extra happy to get through it.

Pre-Order Your Copy Here

To be released January 7, 2020

 

 

 

Stalked by Shadows by Lissa Kasey

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Four out of Five Stars

The Summary:

A missing girl, ritual murders, and a shadow stalking every footstep.

Alexis Caine survived an attack in the deserts of Afghanistan. An attack the government denied and discharged him for, leaving him broken and in a mental institution. What Alex saw that day in the desert continues to haunts him.

When a new job working as a bodyguard for a New Orleans ghost tour guide, Micah Richards, opens Alex’s eyes to a world of paranormal possibilities, he’s not sure he can believe his eyes. What if he’s not crazy after all? When a ritual murder in which two fellow tour guides die and a tourist vanishes, Alex wonders if he brought a curse down upon them all.

A shadow from the desert rears its nightmarish head offering Alex something he wants more than anything, but at what cost?

The Review

I loved Stalked by Shadows! I’m picky when it comes to any book set in New Orleans, like notoriously picky (I’ll drop my rating dramatically because of it kind of picky), and this felt like Lissa has lived in New Orleans since her childhood.  I was in New Orleans (both literally and while reading the novel).

Alex isn’t doing all that well, returning from Afghanistan and a stint in a mental facility. Who would after all that he saw there? What he saw when his unit was destroyed, couldn’t have been real. It didn’t make sense. His twin brother, Lukas, took him in and found people that understood his trauma, didn’t judge him for his PTSD, and brought him back to life.

Micah was probably my absolute favorite part of this book. He felt like New Orleans, even if he wasn’t born there. He knew the history, understood that there was more to the world than most people are willing to acknowledge, and was entirely himself. There was an aspect of his character, I was expecting more development of, because it was such a big deal in the beginning, but honestly? It didn’t bother me.

The chemistry between Micah and Alex was intense. They saw past each other’s walls and supported each other. They flirted, teased each other, and found a partner in each other. When they were intimate with each other, it was like my breath caught in my chest. They connected, understood and trusted each other.

Now, there is the paranormal element, Hoodoo, Voodoo, the violence and the disappearances. Like I’m ready for more of the series because I need answers. There were times I felt Alex’s panic, the fear rising in his throat, and his desperation to make it through the situation. The detail was vivid and helped put me in his memories, in the in between (that’s what I’m going to call it) and around New Orleans.

I thoroughly enjoyed this and you should do yourself a favor and grab a copy now.

Get it Here 

Geeked by Declan Rhodes

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Three out of Five Stars

The Summary:

From the outside, self-described computer programming geek Blake Moss is a straight, happy-go-lucky partner in the rising gay matchmaking company, Match Made. On the inside, the facade he’s built since a traumatic breakup nearly a decade ago is starting to crack.

Hunter Schultz, former football jock, is still licking his wounds only months after walking out on his incompatible boyfriend, Robert. Devotion to his job as head of the city’s LGBTQ+ youth center helps him make it through the rough patches.

The CinderFella charity auction sponsored by Match Made and benefiting the youth center brings Blake and Hunter together in an unexpected way. After a last-minute confession from Blake, his boss, Daniel, buys him a date with Hunter.

Blake is terrified, and Hunter is intrigued by the quirky man who’s fascinated by old dance music and science fiction TV. Against all expectations, the future looks like it might be bright until Robert’s jealousy intervenes, and Blake’s anxiety flares.

The Review

I found the concept of Geeked to be pretty enticing. A match-maker with trouble finding his match and a charity auction raffling off dates? Who could resist that? Not me. (And I had an issue with the cover, it just made it look like either Blake or Hunter were going to be slimy – THEY WEREN’T!)

Blake does all the coding behind Match Made. He can see all the success stories, figure out what everyone else’s perfect match is, but he can’t seem to get his own success story. His boss bids on a fella that caught Blake’s eye and wins Hunter. The chemistry was instantaneous.

What I liked about Geeked was how well I could relate to Blake. A terrible break up resulted in a lack of self-esteem and fear of being out. It caused a lot of anxiety for him, which made my heart break. Hunter was beyond sweet, but at times I was left staring at my Kindle, scratching my head saying, “Really?” Even though he was finished with his ex, Robert kept showing up.

This was a quick and easy read like most of Rhodes’s books, but it didn’t enjoy it as much as I felt like I should have. I didn’t really connect with Hunter and without that connection there was a bit of an empty feeling after I finished reading the story. I was left wanting more. Give it a try though, you might find you liked it better than I did!

Get your copy here

 

 

 

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.

Get your copy here

Picking Up the Pieces by Annabella Michaels

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3.5 out of 5 Stars

The Summary: Two Shattered Hearts

Brody Murphy feels as if he’s lost everything when his best friend and partner, Paul, dies in the line of duty. Partners on the force for years, Paul Donovan was all Brody had. Paul accepted Brody as he was—standoffish from a childhood in the foster system, bisexual in a police force that wasn’t entirely welcoming, Brody is now adrift. Wracked by survivor’s guilt and grief, Brody devotes what’s left of his heart to help Paul’s widow and her children. And when his partner’s oldest child returns home a grown man, Brody is torn between what he thinks he should do and what his heart wants.

Grief Binds Them

Cooper Donovan is in his senior year of college when the unthinkable happens. His father dies, and Cooper returns home to be with his family, and help his mother with his little sisters. So many things were left unsaid between Cooper and his father, a fact that weighs heavily on his heart. College helped Cooper learn more about who he was and what he wanted from life, and with Brody Murphy comes unexpected feelings and complications.

Hope Leads Them Home

Brody and Cooper forge a connection that leaves Brody conflicted, Cooper determined, and both men wounded by their shared grief. While Brody struggles with why he lived, and Paul died—he had no one and nothing, and Paul had everything to live for, Cooper sees a man who deserves love and happiness under the grief. Tension rises when Brody and Cooper can’t deny what’s happening between them. Both men are picking up the pieces of their previous lives and putting together a new future, one where hope and love heals, and home is in each other’s arms.

The Review

Picking Up the Pieces by Annabella Michaels is a story of loss. It is a story about finding hope in the face of losing one of the most important people in your life and finding love in a place you may least expect it.

Brody Murphy watched his partner Paul Donovan get shot in a botched robbery attempt. Not only was Paul his partner at work, but he had become part of Brody’s family. Brody is wracked with guilt. He doesn’t have a family, no children or spouse. Why was he the one who made it out alive?

Cooper Donovan, Paul’s son, returns home to help his mother take care of his little sisters and to make sure they’re going to make it through this as a family. Cooper’s thoughts weigh on him. He never had the chance to come out to his parents and he would never have that chance with his father. Brody evokes feelings in him he didn’t think he should have. He was much older, his father’s best friend and one hundred percent off limits. Or so he thinks.

This is a story that pulls at the heart. There were moments that my heart broke for both these men. Cooper is picking up so much responsibility, while attending school, and trying to keep it all together. Brody becomes a support, someone he relates to and can speak of his secrets with. The attraction between them is established quickly and it runs deep. It’s not only an age-gap romance, there’s depth to it that makes it feel realistic. Brody and Cooper are equals that compliment and keep each other balanced.

I do feel like there was something missing here though. I feel like there weren’t enough scenes between Brody and Cooper. I loved the date scene, and Brody making sure Cooper knew that he felt like Cooper was someone worth being treated special. That he deserved dates and to be won over. It wasn’t just sex between the two of them, it was more. I think everyone deserves that and I love to see it written out in books.

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Enemies of the State by Tal Bauer

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Five out of Five Stars

The Summary: Newly elected President Jack Spiers’s presidency is rocked from the very beginning, and he’s working furiously to keep the world from falling apart. Between terrorism attacks ripping apart Europe, Russia’s constant posturing and aggression, and the quagmire of the Middle East, Jack is struggling to keep his campaign promise—to work toward a better, safer world.

For Special Agent Ethan Reichenbach, Jack is just another president, the third in twelve years. With Jack’s election, he’s been promoted, and now he’s running the presidential detail, which puts him side by side with Jack daily. He’s expecting another stuffed suit and an arrogant DC politician, but Jack shocks him with his humor and humanity.

There are rules against a Secret Service agent and one of their protectees developing a friendship—big rules. Besides, Jack is a widower, and Ethan has always avoided falling for straight men. Ethan keeps his distance, but Jack draws him in, like gas to a naked flame, and it’s a lure he isn’t strong enough to turn away from.

As the two men collide, rules are shattered and the world teeters on the verge of war, and a rogue Black Ops unit bent on destruction sets Jack in their deadly crosshairs. Ethan must put everything on the line in order to save the man he’s come to love, Jack’s presidency, and the world.

The Review

Ya’ll, I don’t know how I managed to NOT read any of Tal Bauer’s work until now. I devoured this book overnight and promptly bought everything else of Bauer’s that I could find. I have always looked for books like Enemies of the State in the M/M romance genre and I could never find them. Political thrillers.

President Jack Spiers has a lot riding on his presidency. He promised to make a better, safe world for the citizens worldwide. But he’s been fighting terrorist attacks in Europe, Russian trying to be the bigger world power and the trouble in the Middle East. It’s a lot to handle without the support of a First Lady/Gentleman. He leans on his Secret Service Detail and one agent in particular, openly gay Ethan Reichenbach. Through this, Ethan gets to see a side of the president that pushes him to break every rule he has when it comes to who he is protecting.

As time passes and they get to know each other better, it’s hard to stay away. Ethan can’t help but blur the lines of professionalism for a man like Jack Spiers. But as the world edges closer to another war, things go disastrously wrong.

This is a President/Secret Service romance, and the chemistry between Jack and Ethan was so good. It was drawn out in actions that could be seen as playful flirting, but at the same time it could have just been Jack’s personality. Every way that Ethan fell for Jack was a way any of us could have fallen for our partners. The romance between them burned slowly and they discovered each other together.

Some of my favorite scenes were when they were together in the residence or at Camp David late at night. They focused entirely on each other as if that was their only world at the time. I can’t tell you how many times they made me smile or wish that one of them would hurry up and make a move! Then there was one moment that utterly crushed my heart. I got teary eyed while reading it and there was no way I could stop reading at that point. I needed to see everything better.

The political thriller aspect was weaved well throughout. It was easy to keep track of because we got chapters centered on that part of the storyline, and then bits and pieces in Jack’s political career that explained it further. It was just as present as their developing romance and I was all about it. I needed to figure out what the heck was being plotted and how they were going to stop it.

This was such a good read I was telling my friends about it who don’t read M/M romance. (Normally I don’t even say a word about my reads to them because they give me that look – you know the one lol). Go read this book! I’m sure everyone has already read it, perhaps more than once, but I can’t stop myself from telling you to read it.

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