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

Audiobook Review

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Four out of Five Stars

Summary:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In love.

Helpless.

The Review

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

On to the story!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Arctic Wild by Annabeth Albert

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Four out of Five Stars

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

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

Just his luck.

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

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

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

The Review

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

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

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

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

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

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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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The Audacity by Laura Loup

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Four out of Five Stars

The Summary

May’s humdrum life gets flung into hyperdrive when she’s abducted, but not all aliens are out to probe her. She’s inadvertently rescued by Xan who’s been orbiting Earth in a day-glo orange rocket ship, watching re-runs of “I Love Lucy”.

Seizing the opportunity for a better life, May learns how to race the Audacity and pilots her way into interstellar infamy. Finally, she has a job she likes and a friend to share her winnings with—until the Goddess of Chaos screws the whole thing up, and Xan’s unmentionable past makes a booty call.

The Review

The Audacity is one of those books you are either going to love, or you’re going to hate. I LOVED this book. It’s fresh, reminiscent of Douglas Adams’s writing, breaks the fourth wall, and keeps you laughing throughout.

May, a Sonic Drive-In carhop gets pulled right off of earth and out of the monotony of her life to find herself in space in the middle of an adventure even her wildest dreams couldn’t have imagined. She’s rescued by Xan, an a blue alien who has a fondness for ‘I Love Lucy’ and a slightly questionable profession. They go on to race the Audacity, find their way out of hijinks and several conundrums.

The friendship between May and Xan was probably my absolute favorite part of this book. They picked at each other, helped each other, and worked together to find answers to their problems. It’s the kind of friendship you want to have in your life. Xan had May’s back and May had Xan’s.

I cracked up at the use for coffee. Felt for May and the corn that Xan supplied her with. Don’t ask, just go read it to find out what I mean by that. May was pretty kick ass and I look forward to find out more of the adventures that this crew will end up on. The cast of characters featured many on the LGBTQ+ spectrum and while it wasn’t the focus of this book, it was good to see the representation in these characters.

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