I Hope You’re Listening by Tom Ryan

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Four out of Five Stars

Summary

EVERY MISSING PERSON HAS A STORY.

In her small town, seventeen-year-old Delia “Dee” Skinner is known as the girl who wasn’t taken. Ten years ago she witnessed the abduction of her best friend, Sibby. And though she told the police everything she remembered, it wasn’t enough. Sibby was never seen again.

At night, Dee deals with her guilt by becoming someone else: the Seeker, the voice behind the popular true crime podcast Radio Silent, which features missing persons cases and works with online sleuths to solve them. Nobody knows Dee’s the Seeker, and she plans to keep it that way.

When another little girl in town goes missing, and the case is linked to Sibby’s disappearance, Dee has a chance to get answers with the help of her virtual detectives and the intriguing new girl at school. But how much of her own story is she willing to reveal in order to uncover the truth?

Review

Dee Skinner’s life changed the moment she witnessed her best friend getting abducted at seven years old. Ten years later, she still lives in the same town, but in a different house. Sibby is a ghost that haunts Dee every day. She’s the girl who wasn’t taken. That guilt weighs her every action down.

She wasn’t able to help Sibby, but she finds a way to help others who have gone missing. As an anonymous podcaster, the Seeker, she hosts a true-crime podcast called Radio Silent. She focuses on missing person cases and works with the Laptop Detective Agency to find new leads and to find the missing.

Nearly ten years to the day, another girl goes missing in her town.

Dee struggles, wanting to stay away from the case but at the same time wanting to help find the missing girl. Is Sibby’s abduction related to Layla’s? A well-timed e-mail sends her down the rabbit hole to find out what has happened to both girls.

What I loved about the format of this novel, was the fact that the podcast scripts were included. I’m a huge true crime junkie and podcast lover. Being able to see how Dee worked to keep herself anonymous but she worked hard to help get answers from these families was exciting. She was determined to find answers and finally put in the work that her Laptop Detective Agency had been doing since episode one.

Dee meets Sarah, the attraction is immediate, but they balance each other. Where Dee is headstrong and throws caution to the wind, Sarah talks her off the ledge and finds a way to make sure they are safe from harm. Their romance takes a backseat to the plot, but the relationship was normalized in a way I wished my high school years could have been. She and Sarah got to go to the Winter Formal together, her parents didn’t make her sexuality seem anything but normal.

The action was a bit slow in the beginning, but once it got going? I couldn’t put the book down. I needed to find Sibby and Layla. I needed to make sure Burke was going to be okay by the end of it all. I had an inkling of who took Sibby, but the result for Layla? I wasn’t expecting that at all.

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Just Like That by Cole McCade

2-TourBanner-JustLikeThat_McCadeThree out of Five Stars

Summary

Summer Hemlock never meant to come back to Omen, Massachusetts.

But with his mother in need of help, Summer has no choice but to return to his hometown, take up a teaching residency at the Albin Academy boarding school—and work directly under the man who made his teenage years miserable.

Professor Fox Iseya.

Forbidding, aloof, commanding: psychology instructor Iseya is a cipher who’s always fascinated and intimidated shy, anxious Summer. But that fascination turns into something more when the older man challenges Summer to be brave. What starts as a daily game to reward Summer with a kiss for every obstacle overcome turns passionate, and a professional relationship turns quickly personal.

Yet Iseya’s walls of grief may be too high for someone like Summer to climb…until Summer’s infectious warmth shows Fox everything he’s been missing in life.

Now both men must be brave enough to trust each other, to take that leap.

To find the love they’ve always needed…

Just like that.

Review

Just Like That is a story of one man finding himself years after a profound loss and another that is learning who he wants to be.

Summer Hemlock is fresh out of university trying to find his career, he didn’t expect to land back home in Omen, Massachusetts. He secures a position teaching at Albin Academy boarding school, directly under the man who he fosters a crush on while he was a teenager, Professor Fox Iseya.

At their first meeting, Professor Iseya has little faith in Summer’s abilities. I hurt for Summer in these moments, because it felt like Professor Iseya was tearing him to pieces and didn’t even care about the damage he was doing. Summer acted out, in a moment of bravery, and kissed his childhood crush. From that action, the entire course of the school year changes.

A daily act of bravery, Summer gets a kiss from Professor Iseya. The kisses turn into something more and hold a different meaning to them both. Summer whittles away at the walls Fox had put up since the passing of his wife. Fox allows himself to feel something other than nothing and they get lost in each other in the process.

The steam factor on this one I’d give a four out of five. Each scene was intense, full of passion that had been so tightly bound for so long, it was explosive once they were together. A May/December romance, featuring workplace, desk top sex? Woo, I was not expecting that.

Why did this get a three out of five stars? For me, I was expecting so much more. There was so much focus on Fox, with only a brief moment when Summer figured out what he wanted in life. I wish there would have been more to their relationship. I was left wanting, but still satisfied with the resolution of the story.

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Boyfriend Material by Alexis Hall

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Four out of Five Stars

Summary

Wanted:
One (fake) boyfriend
Practically perfect in every way

Luc O’Donnell is tangentially–and reluctantly–famous. His rock star parents split when he was young, and the father he’s never met spent the next twenty years cruising in and out of rehab. Now that his dad’s making a comeback, Luc’s back in the public eye, and one compromising photo is enough to ruin everything.

To clean up his image, Luc has to find a nice, normal relationship…and Oliver Blackwood is as nice and normal as they come. He’s a barrister, an ethical vegetarian, and he’s never inspired a moment of scandal in his life. In other words: perfect boyfriend material. Unfortunately apart from being gay, single, and really, really in need of a date for a big event, Luc and Oliver have nothing in common. So they strike a deal to be publicity-friendly (fake) boyfriends until the dust has settled. Then they can go their separate ways and pretend it never happened.

But the thing about fake-dating is that it can feel a lot like real-dating. And that’s when you get used to someone. Start falling for them. Don’t ever want to let them go.

Review

I have so much love for this book! I don’t have much time to read when I’m in class, but I stayed up late two nights in a row to finish Boyfriend Material.

Having a rock star for a father isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Luc O’Donell will end a relationship before it starts. It’s better to end it before he winds up in the tabloids with the world wondering how much further he could fall. When his job is at risk, he’ll do whatever he can to keep it. Oliver is the perfect person to help him clean up his image and save his job. Scandal doesn’t happen to Oliver, the barrister and vegetarian. They couldn’t be more different from each other, but they both need someone to take as a plus one.

Luc, bless it, I just wanted to tell him, “It’s okay to be who you are and to live your life.” He doesn’t trust anyone and it’s entirely understandable. He’s had some of his worst moments plastered across the tabloids. Oliver, goodness, he needed all the hugs. He strives to be the best and nothing but the best.

I think why I enjoyed their story so much was because I relate so much to both Luc and Oliver. I don’t trust easily, and I’m awkward and odd. I have my own way of doing things and I don’t appreciate people trying to change that.

The arrangement becomes beneficial and is the worst kept secret. It cracked me up with how many people knew they were fake boyfriends. Despite all the fakery, Luc and Oliver had a legitimate connection with each other. They challenged each other to be better and to learn how to trust again.

I think one of my favorite parts was at Oliver’s parents Ruby Anniversary. Luc makes this amazing gesture and I was sitting in my bed sitting up straight and cheering him on. Someone needed to do this for Oliver. He was worth having someone on his side like Luc was.

There were misunderstandings, through the course of things, but the chemistry and attraction between them, even as fake boyfriends? It burned intense and brightly. It was so damn good when they were together.

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Burn Zone – Annabeth Albert

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Four out of Five Stars

Summary

Danger lurks everywhere for Central Oregon’s fire crews, but the biggest risk of all might be losing their hearts…

Smoke jumper Lincoln Reid is speechless to see Jacob Hartman among his squad’s new recruits. Linc had promised his late best friend he’d stay away from his little brother. And yet here Jacob is…and almost instantly, the same temptation Linc has always felt around him is causing way too many problems.

Jacob gets everyone’s concerns, but he’s waited years for his shot at joining the elite smoke jumping team, hoping to honor his brother’s memory. He’s ready to tackle any challenge Linc throws his way, and senses the chemistry between them—chemistry Linc insists on ignoring—is still alive and kicking. This time, Jacob’s determined to get what he wants.

Close quarters and high stakes make it difficult for Linc to keep his resolve, never mind do so while also making sure the rookie’s safe. But the closer they get, the more Linc’s plan to leave at the end of the season risks him breaking another promise: the one his heart wants to make to Jacob.

Review

A brand-new series featuring firefighters and written by Annabeth Albert? SIGN ME UP!

Linc is a veteran fire jumper. He’s been through hell and back. After facing an incredible loss, he doesn’t expect his best friend’s little brother to follow in their footsteps. The warning to stay away from Jacob still echoes loudly in his mind. No matter how attracted to Jacob he is, he gave his word to stay away and that is what he intends to do.

Jacob is pure temptation. After coming out, he goes after what he wants and that’s Linc. A few rushed kisses isn’t enough for him. He takes the time to grow up, work his way to fire jumping, and deals with the fears his mother has after the death of his brother. Everyone treats him like a kid, that he needs to be protected rather than utilized as a team member.

The chemistry between the two, *fans self* it’s intense. It was a constant struggle between should they or shouldn’t they. Once they give in, it was every bit as explosive as you would hope for. Two alpha men, taking the time to bring each other to pieces with burning touches. What made this better, was the fact that it wasn’t all rose between the two men. Linc had to fight something that he had programmed into his mind. He had to learn that it was okay to be himself, yet still remain part of the family that had claimed him for so long.

Jacob challenged Linc to become comfortable with himself. Jacob stopped hiding his sexuality and his wants at the age of nineteen, it was high time for Linc to realize he could do the same. There was something about Jacob that I adored. He wanted to be an equal on the jump-team. He went after what he wanted in his professional and personal life.

The only thing that drove me crazy was how self-sacrificing Linc was. If it wasn’t so extreme this would have easily been a five-star read for me. I’m already looking forward to the next in the series.

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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.

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Going Down by Barbara Bell

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3.5 out of 5 Stars

The Summary: Trapped in an elevator with her boss… 

Ellie has been trying to keep her distance from Casey, her supervisor, ever since last year’s Christmas party. A quickie in a bathroom stall left both women breathless…and more than a little embarrassed when they rejoined the party. Workplace snogging is highly inappropriate.

Though enormously erotic.

Body temperatures are already rising when Ellie and Casey find themselves alone in the elevator one Friday night at the office. When the lift comes to a grinding stop, awkward isn’t large enough a word.

Trapped in an elevator with her boss. Her tall, powerful, beautiful boss—the woman who monopolizes Ellie’s fantasies and sneaks into her dreams.

Whatever will they do to pass the time?

The Review

First, let me give you a little background on Dirty Bits by Carina Press. Dirty Bits gives you what you want, when you want it. Designed to be read in an hour or two, these sex-filled microromances are guaranteed to pack a punch and deliver a happily-ever-after. So any time I review one of these, expect a micro-review, because I’m not giving everything away 😉

Ellie and her boss, Casey, may have crossed a line in a bathroom stall at the previous work Christmas Party. It’s been months and Ellie has been avoiding Casey and only speaking to her boss about work matters when they used to be friends with each other. It takes getting trapped in an elevator for a couple of hours together for Ellie to relive the mind blowing experience, and try to figure out where they went wrong.

The sex between the two is going to leave you fanning yourself and wondering how Ellie could have ever let Casey disappear out of her life as a potential lover. There’s a specific part that I wasn’t really into and I’m finding this in a lot of lesbian erotica, check the tags for that spoiler, but the rest of it was great. I’d definitely want to visit Ellie and Casey again to find out how their relationship has progressed.

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It’s a Sin by Steve Burford

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Four out of Five Stars

The Summary: “He is a talented and very promising young policeman. Make no mistakes, he deserves the promotion.”

But when gay Detective Sergeant Dave Lyon is assigned to Detective Inspector Claire Summerskill’s team as part of the Service’s ‘positive discrimination policy’, no-one at Foregate Street Station is happy. And that includes Summerskill and Lyon.

Mutual suspicion and mistrust must be shelved however, when a young man’s beaten body is found on a canal tow path, and a dead-end case of ‘happy slapping’ unexpectedly turns into a murder investigation.

Why would someone want to kill middle class arts student Jonathan Williams? And how is his death linked to that of rent boy and would be ‘adult’ film star Sean?

As Summerskill and Lyon’s investigations proceed, the newly-promoted detectives begin to untangle a web of connections, false assumptions and sheer prejudices that force them both to question closely not just their relationship with each other but with the rest of their colleagues at Foregate Street Station and with the Police Service as a whole.

The Review

It’s a Sin by Steve Burford is the first book in the Summerskill and Lyon series. I really enjoyed this one. I read it over the course of two nights while in bed. Cause that’s how I like my murder mysteries. What you get in book one of this series is an introduction into who Summerskill, Lyon, the inner workings of the Foregate Street Police Station, and the communities surround them. I feel like at this point you should know there isn’t much romance in this. It’s more focused on developing the characters and solving the crime. I’d love to get to see some steamy scenes with Sergeant Dave Lyon though. I have a feeling he’s a bit of a stunner.

Detective Inspector Claire Summerskill has just been promoted, but she doesn’t get to have the Sergeant she was expecting. Instead she gets Dave Lyon, who is completely new to the area and openly gay (Which I was super excited about and cackled at some of the things he did). You don’t get many cop novels with openly gay characters who don’t need to be saved or coddled. Sergeant Lyon didn’t need coddling.

Their first assignment was ‘happy slapping’ – which I had no idea what that meant but figured it out pretty quick. A random person/persons jumps another and then goes on about their way. What was supposed to be an easy case turned into something much more difficult, multiple murders of gay men along a canal.

What I liked about Claire and Dave was the fact that neither of them were perfect. They had their moments of anger, frustration and misunderstanding. But they pushed each other to figure out what was really happening.  I’m on a bit of a mystery kick and just enjoying what I’ve read so I didn’t quite figure out who the killer was until the last minute. It was unexpected and it was kind of neat that I was kept guess the entire time.

I’m looking forward to getting to know more about Claire and Dave. My inner romance reader is hoping for Dave to get some action but I liked this enough that I don’t have to have that.

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Skating Through by Jennifer Crosgove

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Five out of Five Stars

The Summary: There are two things Ben Lewis has convinced himself he can never have at the same time: playing hockey and being openly gay. Hockey is looking to be his only choice. Until now. Being captain of the team and starting his senior year of high school is a lot to handle. Throw in a budding friendship with his crush, Marcus, and Ben is faced with deciding if he’s brave enough to take the next step.

Fortunately, courage can come from unexpected places. His BFF Ryan, new friends, and a voice from the past are great assists to his determination to be true to himself and keep playing the game he loves, but will they be enough?

The Review

Skating Through combines some of my favorite things to read: hockey, young adult, and first times. It was sweet, a bit emotional in parts and extremely fun to read.

Ben Lewis is a high school senior and he’s the captain of the hockey team. He isn’t your average jock either. He’s shy, quiet, closeted and has one best friend Ryan encourages him to get out of his shell. In all manners, like going to parties, finally talking to the boy he’s had a crush on since freshman year and finding a little bit of happy that’s outside of hockey.

As Ben slowly starts to find himself, he starts to open up to more possibilities of how his life can be if he were to come out of the closest. Everything happened in stages. It isn’t like a switch that flipped and everyone knew. He told the people he cared about the most and went from there. There were times I could see how anxious and afraid he was and then I could feel his relief. They were adorable together and every date like scenario made me root more for them.

There was a bit of a side story happening too. Ben found letters from WWII in his Gran’s attic and turns out there was a little bit of a love story there as well. There is so much of me that wishes there were dual storylines happening the entire span of the book. I wanted there to be more letters, to see the war time romance as well. I was extremely intrigued and now I’m looking for more books like that.

I enjoyed being able to see Ben’s journey and how everything would unfold. I read this book in one sitting, about two hours. I couldn’t put it down once I started reading. I loved this and now I want to read everything by Cosgrove.

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Take A Chance by D. Jackson Leigh

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3.5 Stars out of 5

The Summary:   A Pine Cone Romance

Veterinarian Trip Beaumont likes being a big fish in a small pond. There’s hardly an animal she can’t heal or a woman she can’t charm within fifty miles of Pine Cone, Georgia—except for the irritating and elusive new cop who keeps leaving parking tickets on her truck.

Officer Jamie Grant has never liked rule breakers, but she’s especially incensed when she discovers Trip owns the truck that is constantly parked illegally. She’s searched carefully for a quiet, eclectic community to settle down with her drug-sniffing—albeit gastric-challenged—canine partner, Petunia. Instead, she finds herself on a collision course with the woman who stole her college girlfriend and broke her heart after an ill-conceived threesome.

The Review

Interesting fact about the Pine Cone Romance series, each book is written by a different author.  I didn’t know that coming into reading this and now I kind of want to go back and read the first installment to see what I missed. Saying that, these are stand-alone books so don’t worry if you haven’t read the first book in the series. You won’t be lost.

Trip Beaumont definitely has the golden touch when it comes to charming the ladies of Georgia.  She’s managed to charm everyone but the new cop in town who keeps writing tickets every time she parks illegally. She’s pretty much funding the police department with home many fines she’s going to have to pay. Little does Trip know that the cop causing her so much trouble is former college friend, Jamie Grant. Jamie has changed a lot sing Trip last saw her. She joined the army after the attacks on 9/11, ended up getting a job in law enforcement and has a trained drug dog with quite a heart breaking medical history.

At first, Jamie doesn’t want to have anything to do with Trip. Having her heart broken in college and then run the risk of it happening again? No thank you. But slowly they’re drawn together.  Trip is an amazing veterinarian with access to treatment options for Petunia.

Their romance was well paced. They didn’t immediately jump into bed together. If they would have after the backstory we got, I would have been more than a little annoyed. They spent time together and started to understand each other as adults.

There were bits that bothered me. Like how is a town that small full of that many LGBT people? I’d love to find a place like that in real life, especially in the deep south. So please, tell me this secret! There were a lot of clichés and I felt that it added to the bleh factor.  That’s kind of why the rating dropped from a four star to a three-point-five star rating.

It was an easy, quick and decent escape from what my week has been. I’d give it a try if I were you. I’m definitely going back to read the first book in the series to see if it lives up to everyone’s reviews.

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Tight Quarters by Annabeth Albert

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Five out of Five Stars

The Summary: Petty Officer Bacon, a navy SEAL and ace sharpshooter, has been on the front lines of more than his fair share of dangerous ops. Yet when a minor injury relegates him to the beta team, he’s tasked with what may be his riskiest assignment yet: the silver fox journalist he’s babysitting is the hottest, most charismatic man he’s ever encountered.

Award-winning journalist Spencer Bryant may have been named one of Pride magazine’s most eligible bachelors of the year, but he’s not looking to change his relationship status. He’s a consummate professional who won’t risk his ethics or impeccable reputation by getting involved with a source. Even a sexy-as-hell military man. But while Spencer can resist his physical attraction to Bacon, he has less control over his emotions—especially when the mission goes sideways and the two men are trapped alone.

Getting out of the jungle alive turns out to be easy compared to facing the truth about their feelings for one another back in the real world. And whether or not they can build a future is a different story altogether.

 

The Review

Tight Quarters is book six in the Out of Uniform Series by Annabeth Albert. Bacon, a SEAL, gets tasked with watching a reporter that is embedding with the team for a story. Spencer Bryant is not what Bacon expected. He may be a little bit older, but he keeps in shape, he’s sharp and he faces the obstacles put to him head on and surprises everyone.

I think what appealed to me most about this book was the fact that there was the push and pull of having to deal with the secrecy of military work and the transparency of journalism. This was something Bacon and Spencer have to come to terms with both on a professional and a personal level. Being able to see them navigate this combine with learning more and more about what each other wants with their relationship both gutted me and left me warm with hope.

When things got tough, neither man backed down. It may have taken them a little bit longer to figure things out and they faced some unnecessary heartache but that made their story that much better.

I loved how Bacon stood up to his friends and their homophobic language and jokes. It’s hard to be that person to tell your friends, cut that shit out. It isn’t right. But Bacon does it. He’s got a quiet confidence about him that I admire. He knows who he is, a pansexual man, and he working towards being open with his friends. It’s not often you see talk about demi, pan, ace characters in books. I’m one of those people who is fluid in how I identify but I see myself much like Bacon sees himself. It was probably one of the first times I had ever had a character I could relate to in this way.

Spencer, oh boy. What can I say about him other than I wish I had my own Spencer in my life? He had his faults, but the way he stopped to evaluate and move forward was what truly mattered. He cared for and took care of Bacon when he needed it the most.

The chemistry between Bacon and Spencer *fans self* was intense. The attraction, the build up, the subsequent scenes. Oh my. They were well written, timed and perfectly done. It didn’t feel gratuitous. It felt right.

I all around loved this book and I was hesitant about it. A seal and a reporter? That spells disaster. But because it was Annabeth Albert, I was like, this is going to be great. And it was! I’m definitely going through her back list of books to read everything I can get my hands on. When I’m able to get lost in a book and read it in one day, you know that it’s got to be good.

 

Pre-Order Here  To Be Released July 9, 2018