Flesh and Gold by Ann Aptaker

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Four out of Five Stars

Summary:

Havana, 1952, a city throbbing with pleasure and danger, where the Mob peddles glamour to the tourists and there’s plenty of sex for sale. In the swanky hotels and casinos, and the steamy, secretive Red Light district of the Colon, Cantor Gold, dapper art thief and smuggler, searches the streets and brothels for her kidnapped love, Sophie de la Luna y Sol. Cantor races against time while trying to outrun the deadly schemes of American mobsters and the gunsights of murderous local gangs.

The Review

Flesh and Gold was much more than I expected. Cantor Gold, a thief and smuggler, arrives in Havana searching for the love of her life, Sophia, but trouble follows Cantor wherever she goes.

Now, the first thing you need to know is that this is not a romance (like my usual reads). It is the ultimate love story though, seeing the lengths that Cantor was willing to go to find Sophia.

This is very much a crime noir, think mobsters and dens of ill repute (I don’t know how else to say it). Every time I thought I had a line on who was playing who, everything flipped upside down. It’s the best kind of mystery to read.

I like the fact that everything and everybody felt important to the storyline. The detail was rich enough that I could feel the balmy humidity of Havana. I could feel the way passersby stared at Cantor and her suits and masculine attire. The attitudes, language, and buildings placed me in 1950s Havana. There was a bit of violence, some of it a little unbelievable, but Cantor does live on the darker and more dangerous side of the life.

If you enjoy crime noire, this is definitely a series you’ll want to pick up and read.

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Loving a Warrior by Melanie Hansen

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Four out of Five Stars

The Summary: BUD/S: six months of the most intense training there is. It’s survival of the toughest, and Matt Knytych is determined to come out the other side a navy SEAL.

Distraction is life or death. And just the sight of former marine Shane Hovland is enough to shake Matt’s concentration.

Shane came to BUD/S training ready to prove himself—again. Semper Fi is forever, but he needs a new start. Not this dangerous heat with a man he barely knows.

Everything they’ve ever wanted is riding on a thin, punishing line. And they’ll have to fight for more than just each other if they want to make it through intact.

After all, the only easy day was yesterday.

The Review

It’s going to be the most intense six months of training that Shane Hovland and Matt Knytych will go through and they’re determined to make it out on the other side as Navy Seals. The men they end up training with are the people that they must depend on in life or death situations.

Right from the get-go both of them men are attracted to each other. At first it’s a bit of annoyance, because this is not something either of them need while going through training. They need to focus. But sometimes losing focus during your off times is exactly what you need.

The chemistry between Matt and Shane burns slowly as they fight their attraction to each other. It’s probably one of my favorite parts of two alpha men, fighting their feelings but feeling it all at the same time.

Neither man is perfect in this story. They both have a history, demons to fight, and insecurities to deal with. There were moments you just wanted to hug Matt and tell him it was all going to be okay. Then to make sure that Shane knew things were going to be different this go around.

It wasn’t all about the romance either. The author puts you into the training these men go through and how that effects them physically and mentally. I think without that aspect this would not have been such a binge-worthy book.

Get your copy here

Struck by Victoria Kinniard

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Four out of Five Stars

The Summary:

Capes are stupid.
Superheroes are just wishful thinking.
True love doesn’t exist.
I’m not a hero.
Well…not yet.

***

A seventeen-year-old hacker, a group of teenage superheroes and one hell of a family secret come together to form the perfect storm.
Are you ready to get struck?

The Review

I have a weakness for Superheroes and YA books. So I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to read Struck. 

Ethan is a small-town hacker who already knows how to his own version of justice done until he was struck. Now he’s trying to figure out what exactly his power it is and how the Lightning Project is going to be doing good for the world. I loved Ethan. He is so freaking sarcastic and witty he had me cackling at times. Everyone needs a friend like Ethan in their lives.

Ethan doesn’t also immediately buy into the Lightning Project. He challenges it like a teenager would. He wants to know as much as he can about the Project and to understand it before he accepts his new role. I enjoyed all the other characters as well. They helped push the story along and each proved vital to the story line in their own ways. I particularly enjoyed Esther and her teasing nature. She was fun for more than just her powers.

I enjoyed the romance between Ethan and Adam. It wasn’t all roses and there were moments that I wanted to shake both of them but they got their act together. But they were sweet to each other in that teenage way. I loved the little flirty moments mixed in with all the action. It made this extremely fun to read and I’m looking forward to the next installment.

Get your copy here

Breaking Down Her Walls by Erin Zak

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Four out of Five Stars

The Summary: Leaving is what Julia Finch does best.

When a meeting with her birth parents goes horribly wrong, Julia escapes on a hastily planned road trip and winds up breaking down in a Colorado town so small the cows outnumber the people. Completely out of her element, she takes a temporary job as a ranch hand at Bennett Ranch. She only has to survive long enough to get her car fixed, and then she’s out of there for good.

Her bad luck continues when she meets the ranch owner, Elena Bennett. Elena is unhappy, abrasive, and annoyingly breathtaking. But the longer Julia stays, the more the ranch starts to feel like home, and her feelings for Elena become impossible to ignore. She’s spent years building her defenses high and running from her past. Could a love worth staying for be the key to breaking down her walls?

The Review

Julia Finch is a runner. If something doesn’t work out well, she moves on. There’s no point in living the disappointment day in and out, is there? When a road trip ends up with her car broken down and no where close to being fixed without dropping a pretty penny, Elijah strikes her a deal. If she works at the Bennett Ranch to pay off the repairs to her car, he’ll get it fixed and then she can move on. It’s a decent deal, even if she has no idea what she’s doing. She didn’t expect to like the ranch owner, Elena Bennett as much as she does. It makes leaving all that much harder.

Now this is an age-gap romance and I have a difficult time finding that in lesbian romances but this hit the spot. It wasn’t your typical meet and move in type of relationship that I have a knack for finding. This was a slow, steady burn that made you want Julia or Elena to make a move. When the move was made, *fans self* whoa boy. They had some intense chemistry and weren’t afraid to get lost in each other. Zak writes sex scenes that don’t make me uncomfortable when I’m reading them. They flow well, it’s never one-sided, both characters are just as into to the moment as the other was.

What I really enjoyed was the fact that each character, Cole, Elijah, Toni, the horses and even Penny, they were all what pushed the story along. (Although Penny I felt like wasn’t entirely necessary to this story, more like just thrown in there as an after thought) I liked reading about the secondary characters as much I liked reading about Julia and Elena. Cole is my spirit animal.

Elena and Julia found themselves when Julia’s car broke down in Colorado. They flourished as they got to know each other. It was a treat to see both of these women settle into their skin again and I don’t think they would have done so if they hadn’t met each other.

I’m definitely looking forward to more written by Erin Zak, she’s become a one-click author.

Get your copy here!

Finding Aurora by Rebecca Langham

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Four out of Five Stars

Summary: Aurora Rose slumbers in the city of Oldpass, a cursed kingdom once allied with Grimvein. The victim of a malicious spell, she is powerless to control her own fate. At least, that’s how the story goes.

Now, as Grimvein faces attack, Prince Amir has been tasked with the life-threatening rescue of Aurora, his parents hopeful he will marry the princess and secure safety for their kingdom. Talia, the strongest spellcaster in the known lands, protects and guides the prince in his quest to save a woman that threatens to change their lives forever.

In finding Aurora, the pair will realise the truth about themselves and each other, coming to understand just what – and who – they really want in life.

The Review

If you are a fan of fairytale retellings, Finding Aurora by Rebecca Langham is one you’re going to want to grab to read ASAP. This is a kickass Sleeping Beauty retelling and it was refreshing to see the Prince having a female spell-caster helping him find Aurora and learning who he truly is.

Talia has been tasked with helping Prince Amir of Grimvein to locate Aurora Rose in the hopes of a securing a marriage contract that will unite the kingdoms and guarantee Grimvein’s safety. As in the traditional Sleeping Beauty, Aurora has been cursed to slumber until her true love wakes her.

Throughout this journey we see the friendship between Talia and Prince Amir grow. They work together and trust each other to make it through whatever situation they land in. Even when Talia speaks her spirit guide, Red, Prince Amir treats her as a friend would. Red comes to Talia in times of need, provides companionship, and protects Talia.

Red is incredible. I got a bit of an image in my mind the first time Red was mentioned and I feel like the word beautiful doesn’t do how I picture he justice. Even while I’m writing this, I can clearly see her in my head. Red and Talia’s connection is deep and I so badly wanted them to meet in more than the spirit world. Red is going on this journey just as much as Talia and Prince Amir.

What I truly enjoyed was the different take on the tale. Once they come close to finding Aurora Rose, they face different ‘tasks’ (that’s the best way I can describe it). They face Goblins, the dragon and it turns out to be more than goblins and a dragon. They were part of Aurora Rose’s family. It was a bit heart breaking finding out that they had been stuck in those forms, unable to remember who they were for over a century.

The love between Red and Talia is sweet and left me feeling happy and hopeful. I’d love to see what happens after this novella and how the kingdoms fair.

Pre-Order your copy here!

Christmas Angel by Eli Easton

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Four out of Five Stars

Summary: When John Trent, a dedicated member of the new Bow Street Runners, finds an exquisite carved angel floating in the Thames, he can’t stop thinking about it. He tracks down its creator, a sad and quiet young sculptor. But neither the angel nor the sculptor is done with John just yet. The blasted angel refuses to leave him be, behaving not at all like an inanimate object should.

Alec Allston is resigned to the fact that his love will ever be a river that flows out and never flows in. All he wanted to do was create a special gift so that a small part of himself could be with his unattainable and noble beloved, always. But when the gift keeps showing back up at his shop in the hands of a windblown and rugged thief-taker, Alec will need to reconsider his conviction that love is destined to remain an aethereal ideal.

The Review

Whenever I see any kind of historical M/M book, I snatch up the chance to read them. Add Eli Easton into that mix and that just sweetens the deal. Elia Easton has written their first book in the series of holiday-based romances that are all connected by the Christmas Angel that connects Alec Allston and John Trent.

Allston is a sculptor who has had his heart broken and dedicates his life to his art. That is, until John Trent appears in his shop holding an angel that had been tossed into the Thames. John is a Bow Street Runner on the hunt for justice and wants to return the angel to its owner/creator.  The connection between the two men is obvious and only intensifies the more they see each other.

I’m a stickler for accuracy in historical novels and this one fit the bill. Even the interactions between Allston and Trent were accurate. Oh John Trent, he could sweep any man off his feet. He was kind and took the time to woo Allston with little gifts, walks and talks at his shop.

I absolutely loved the house of misfits that Trent lived in. I think by introducing Allston to his housemates, it gave Allston the courage to go after what he wanted. They’re romance scenes weren’t overdone. Their kisses were sweet and then steamy.

The detail used throughout put you in the time period. I could see the clothes, the expressions and the city around Allston and Trent as the story progressed. My only complaint was I needed more!, especially between Allston and Trent in certain aspects.

Will I be reading and recommending this one out to friends? Oh yes. Go read it now!

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A Christmas Situation by H.L. Day

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Four out of Five Stars

Summary:  Love conquers all. But can it survive Christmas?

Dominic and Tristan have been together for almost a year. So everything’s got to be plain sailing, right? Not quite. Not if you ask Dominic. Tristan’s a bundle of energy and crazy ideas at the best of times. Add in Christmas, and it’s a recipe for disaster.

That’s not the only issue. There’s also Tristan’s mysterious absences and secret phone calls to contend with. Dominic might be insecure, but he’s not crazy. His boyfriend is definitely up to something, and neither family nor friends seem interested in listening to his concerns. He won’t jump to conclusions this time though. He’ll talk to Tristan. Only what do you do when you can’t get a straight answer out of the man you love?

When Tristan’s secrets are revealed, will their first Christmas together also be their last? Or is Dominic about to discover that all his worries have been for nothing?

Only time will tell.

The (mini) Review

A Christmas Situation is a bit of a holiday bonus novella that gives us a glimpse into the continuation of Tristian and Dominic’s relationship. It’s been a year since they’ve gotten together and they’re still going strong. Or so it seems. Tristian has been acting extremely secretive and disappearing from the office a lot more than usual. Poor Dom thought he knew what he was in for when it comes to Tristian. He doesn’t even know what he’s in for when it comes to the holidays.

Tristian is a bit overzealous when it comes to Christmas surprises involving Dominic. I feel like he may have overstepped buuut Dominic liked the results so I can’t find fault in it. I did expect the little surprise at the end and was excited to see it happen! My lips are zipped, so you have to read it to find out what I’m talking about. But yay!

Overall, an excellent addition to Tristian and Dom’s story.

Get your copy here

Ashes by H.J. Welch

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Three out of Five Stars

The Summary: Kris Novak pours his heart and soul into his job at Hidden Creek’s only gay bar. When an arsonist burns the place to the ground, his whole life goes up in smoke and only his long-time crush can save him.

Firefighter Remi Washington never told anyone he’s bi, let alone acted on it. But when he temporarily offers his spare room to his best friend’s younger brother, he’s drawn to the twinky, beautiful Kris in a way he can’t ignore. How long before he gives in to this temptation?

Soon Kris stands accused of having started the fire and he has to fight with all his strength to clear his own name. Will Remi risk outing himself to stand by Kris’s side, or will that closet door remain closed forever?

The (mini)Review

Ashes is the first book in the Men of Hidden Creek series season two. Each book in this series is written by a different author and focuses on a different character. I’m going start out with this wasn’t my favorite book and I really thought I would enjoy it because of the summary. Something that really threw me off was the ‘preview’ chapter. I don’t know what else to call it but it showed Remi and Kris together before we even got their story. Honestly we all know they’re going to get together but this irritated me. It kind of took away from the magic of seeing them get to that point and it was a bit confusing and had me wondering if I had accidentally skipped pages without meaning to.

Remi is a firefighter who gets the call out to the local gay bar, who everyone believed to be empty but it wasn’t. Kris would lives in the third floor apartment and is trapped. Remi saves him and then offers Kris a place to stay until he gets back on his feet. They are both on a journey to figure out who they are as individuals. Remi wants to come out as bisexual, and Kris just wants to be himself and provide a safe space for the community.

Everything seems like a bit too much if that makes sense. I got tired of how many times the word ‘baby’ was used in sex scenes. Like every sentence uttered, baby had to be present. I wasn’t a fan of the author’s version of dirty talk. I felt like there was not much plot besides Remi saved Kris, they had sex, and Kris was very fabulous and people in Hidden Creek didn’t like it. *shrugs* This one wasn’t for me.

Give it a try, it might be your cup of tea

Breaking In by Ashton Cade

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Five out of Five Stars

The Summary:

Ryan:  After my divorce to Barb, my life has been just me, my little boy and my job. Some people might call me overprotective, but as the Sheriff of Umberland, I know a lot more than they do about what can happen when you let down your guard. When my high school best friend Christian comes to visit, sure, I remember experimenting with him as teenagers, but what I can’t ignore is the fierce attraction that still burns between us.
What’s even more, Christian makes me feel safe and protected—something I do for everyone else.
I’ve never been attracted to a man since Christian… but as soon as I lay my eyes on him, I don’t think I’ll be attracted to anyone else ever again.

Christian:

I knew I was gay forever, it seems. But my first love was the one that stuck with me all these years: Ryan Rainier. He’s a big deal in the police department now, and as a man in uniform, he’s every bit as gorgeous as he was in those young years.
But Ryan’s straight, right? So why does he keep looking at me that way, with hunger in his eyes?
Am I just seeing what I want to see? And can I risk losing a lifelong friend for a shot at love?

 

 

The Review

Ryan is a small town cop how wants the best for his son, Troy. He isn’t actively searching for romance. His ex-wife burned him pretty badly when she cheated and left him for a terrible excuse for a man (he’s a jerk in the politest terms possible).When his former best friend, Christian, is back in town and the attraction they shared as teenagers reignites. They hadn’t gotten past teenage fumbling but it’s clear that they both want much more this go around.

I enjoyed book two in this series a lot more than book one. That’s a rarity for me but there was something about Ryan, his son Troy, and Christian that compelled me to keep reading and rooting for them. I loved how sure Ryan was about Christian. The chemistry between the two of them, oh boy, it was juicy.

Their relationship started to rebuild while Christian slept on the couch and progressed from there. Christian also gave Troy time and attention. Ryan and Troy were a package deal and Christian fell in love with them both. He was so sweet to Troy. He was kind, understanding and willing to step back if it meant Ryan would be happy.

I swear I got heart eyes way too many times while reading this but Ryan going to look for Christian? Oh I melted into a puddle of happiness. I absolutely loved Ryan and Christian and that epilogue? *wistful sigh*

This is a definite must read and one I’ll probably revisit when I need a feel-good, pick me up.

Get your copy here

Grasmere Cottage Mystery by Dahlia Donovan

Three out of Five Stars

The Summary: Join bestselling author Dahlia Donovan on a cosy mystery adventure in Grasmere Cottage Mystery book one. With love, wit, and a murder to solve, life for Valor and Bishan is about to get bloomin’ complicated in this sweet gay romance.

Dead body in the garden? Check.

Mystery to solve? Check.

Police focused on the wrong person? Not good.
All grown up and graduated, Valor Tarquin Scott, son to Earl and Countess Scott, owns The Ginger’s Bread, a biscuit shop, in Grasmere in the Lake District. The love of his life, Bishan Tamboli, has turned his music studies into a successful career playing with the London Symphony Orchestra. It’s a perfect life with their cat, spending evenings watching Poirot on the television.

The nightmare begins with one dead former schoolmate, leading police to believe Bishan is responsible.

Valor struggles to solve the cryptic puzzles left behind in a race to prove Bishan’s innocence.

He can’t help wondering how far the body count will rise before they manage to stop the killer.

The Review(s)

 

The Grasmere Cottage Mystery is three book series that you definitely need to get as a bundle. Otherwise you’re going to hate yourself and the cliffhangers at the end of Dead in the Garden (Book One) and Dead in the Pond (Book Two). I wouldn’t have been a happy camper if I didn’t have all the books in hand while I was reading them.

Dead in the Garden starts out with Valor and Bishan finding the corpse of a former classmate in the garden over morning tea. For some reason the police focus on Bishan as a suspect. Bishan, is Autistic, and very much not who the police should be looking at. It takes another murder and a coded note before Bishan and Valor are back together.

What was really interesting was the fact that we got a realistic Autistic character in this series. You got a couple of different point of views as well. In the first book, which is told from Valor’s point of view, you get to see how they interact as a couple. Valor cherishes the touches Bishan bestows upon him and he knows when it becomes too much.

Valor also comes from a very wealthy family that he’s been disowned from. Honestly, he’s a bigger part of Bishan’s family than he ever was of his own. The Tambolis are extremely supportive and caring. It’s the type of family you want to be a part of, even if they can be a little bit overwhelming at times.

Dead in the Pond, picks up right where Dead in the Garden stops. This book is told more from Bishan’s point of view, which I liked. You got a feel for his internal thoughts and how his mind works. It’s just a little bit different than the way out minds work. The killer ups his game. He starts targeting those close to Valor and Bishan.  They’re trying to figure out the puzzles left behind and who the killer is. This isn’t as easy as Poriot and Mrs. Marple makes it seem. There’s a bit of a subplot going on in this book in concern to Valor and his family. Why do they so desperately want him back in their lives?

The cliffhanger in this one is worse than in the first book. You’re left right in the middle of a situation wondering what the heck is going to happen.

In the conclusion, Dead in the Shop, relief settles over you because you know that Bishan and Valor are okay. That cliffhanger wasn’t nearly as bad as you originally thought it to be. Even though it made me so angry and this is precisely the reason you need all three books in hand when you start this series.

Now, I’m going to be completely honest with you. I kind of forgot there was a serieal killer running amuck. I was much more invested in Valor and Bishan and their friends interacting with each other than I was with the mystery aspect. And when I did find out who the killer was and why he was killing? Well It was an ‘eh, okay’ reaction and I was interested in the frogs vs. gnomes war that was happening.

Over all this was a cute, easy series to read. I really wanted more from it though. I needed a bit more about Valor’s family because it was so hyped up and then it fell a bit flat. And I didn’t much pay attention to the killer in the last book because it got a little boring. I absolutely adored Valor and Bishan though. They made my heart warm and left me feeling happy. Honestly I could have read about them without the mystery and been perfectly happy.

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