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!

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Hell and Gone by Tal Bauer

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Five out of Five Stars

The Summary

Two vanished cowboys.
Three hundred missing cattle.
The Crazy Mountains are devouring everything they see.

Everett Dawson, Montana’s newest Stock Detective, has been sent from Helena down to the Crazy Mountains. Cattle are going missing in the Crazies and Everett is charged with finding these modern-day rustlers and bringing them in.

When he arrives, he finds a hanged cowboy and a heap of questions. Was it suicide or was it murder? Why are cowboys fleeing the Crazies? Far from a simple investigation, Everett’s case plunges deep into the mountains’ dark past.

Lawrence Jackson, the bad boy who runs the Lazy Twenty Two, was the last man to see the dead cowboy alive. There’s a whole forest fire of smoke swirling around Lawrence, and where there’s smoke, there’s flame… and maybe even murder.

But Everett is drawn to Lawrence, and if he takes the risk Lawrence offers, will Everett find what he craves, or will the Crazies claim their next victim

The Review

Tall Bauer has created another picturesque, gritty and thrilling western set in Montana. Everette is fresh out of the military and headed right into the Crazy Mountains were cattle have gone missing, and ranch hands are slowly starting to disappear.  Lawrence Jackson is beyond frustrated with the lack of investigation happening and doesn’t believe a green Stock Detective, Everett Dawson, is going to make much headway in the investigation.

Let me talk about Lawrence and Everette for a moment. Both men distrust each other from the beginning, but as time passes that distrust develops into trust. Everett recognized that frustration in Lawrence and after hearing everything, his mind starts connecting the dots. Once they start working to trust each other, the chemistry between them ignites.

Everette has flashes of PTSD and they felt genuine. There were subtle triggers that put him back in the desert and deep in his memories. The void that had been in him since his military tours, was finally being filled by one hell of a stubborn cowboy, Lawrence Jackson. I loved that stubborn, take no shit attitude that Lawrence had. He was a modern cowboy, who worked hard and loved harder.

I grit my teeth, felt the frustration that Lawrence had, connected the dots just as Everette did, and melted into satisfaction.

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Hot Potato by Allison Temple

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Three out of Five Stars

The Summary: As Seacroft’s resident weirdo, Avery proudly flies a lot of freak flags. It’s a constant battle to be taken seriously when everything, from his red hair to his sexuality, makes him stand out in this small town.

Small towns are also a terrible place to keep secrets, and Lincoln has a bunch of them. But his demons aren’t going to hold him back from his dream job at the Seacroft Fire Department. His life is finally coming together, until the red-haired twink with the big smile and fast mouth calls in an emergency.

Pining or the hot firefighter is Avery’s newest flag, even if he agrees to be “just friends.” For Linc, every minute with Avery is a temptation. He needs to let go of his fear and admit the truth. Linc doesn’t want to be Avery’s friend; he wants to be his everything. But just as Linc is ready to risk it all, Avery gets an unexpected offer to spread his colorful wings and fly away.

The Review

Avery is an odd duck in the small town of Seacroft. He doesn’t hide who he is, what he’s passionate about or his sexuality, but he’s still shy and a bit awkward. Lincoln, a firefighter, lives a life full of secrets. A sweet potato dinner gone wrong brings Avery and Lincoln together. They can’t seem to stay away from each other, and attraction develops between them.

Avery was my absolute favorite. He’s a genuine ginger. Red hair, pale skin, freckles and to top it all off he is a bit clumsy. He’s a sweetheart and at time I just wanted to wrap him up in a huge hug to make everything better. Lincoln wants to take care of Avery, he wants to take care of his family.

The chemistry between Avery and Lincoln is obvious from their first meeting. It was fun seeing them connect despite the very obvious differences between them. Avery was out, Lincoln was not. I think seeing one of Lincoln’s co-workers be out, that it made things easier for Lincoln to come out.

There were bumps along the way in their relationship. Moments Avery doubted Lincoln’s sincerity, and Lincoln being scared. But they found a way through these moments.

This was a fun read and it makes me want to go read the other books (Yes, I read this series completely out of order!)

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Ride the Whirlwind by Jackie North

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Five out of Five Stars

The Summary: Soulmates across time. Two hearts, stronger together.

In present day, Maxton is good at finding trouble and bad at everything else.

In 1892, Trent Harrington, sheriff of Trinidad, Colorado, lives a respectable but lonely life, devoid of any closeness.

Trying to escape a past that keeps chasing him, Maxton drives south to avoid getting arrested. When his car spins off the road, he is swept up in a desert whirlwind and finds himself in the year 1892. Lost and alone, unused to the laws of the wild west, Maxton gets arrested anyway.

Trent is tasked with escorting Maxton to Trinidad. The request isn’t unusual, but the miscreant is. Maxton draws Trent’s heart out of its shell with his flashing green eyes and lush head of hair. It isn’t right. It isn’t natural. It’s illegal. Yet Trent cannot resist the impetuous young man.

As the two men travel through the vast, empty desert to their destination, will they find in each other the love and companionship they never thought they’d have?

The Review

Maxton is driving away from the trouble he managed to get himself in when he drives off the road and into a desert whirlwind. When he comes out on the other side he finds himself in 1892. He can’t seem to stay out of trouble though. He ends up in jail and in the hands of Sheriff Trent Harrington as he’s escorted to Trinidad. Trent isn’t prepared for a man like Maxton, nor having his eyes opened in the way that Maxton manages.

John and Laurie are still my absolute favorites, but there was something about Maxton and Trent that nearly won me over. Maxton is unapologetically himself. Even if that calls for trouble in 1892. Trent has lived his life hiding who he was. It’s an explosive combination.

Maxton was so different from his friends, that of course he wouldn’t travel the same way they did. Until he accepted himself, the opportunity that 1892 presented him, the whirlwind wouldn’t ever leave him alone. He found that stability in Trent. Even at times when they broke each other’s heart, they found their way back together and ended up stronger for it.

They were cautious with each other. It wasn’t just an opportunity for sex. They formed a connection that made me want to read more of their story. They learned what each other liked, what they were afraid, and they were kind to each other.

There’s something about the way Jackie North writes about life in the west. It’s realistic, it’s gritty, and at times it hilariously funny (the underwear – that’s all I’m saying). I felt like I was watching a movie in my mind. I could feel the heat of the day, see the bright starlit sky at night, and smell the food they made.

This was the perfect escape.

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Spellbound by Allie Therin

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Five out of Five Stars

The Summary: To save Manhattan, they’ll have to save each other first… 

1925

New York

Arthur Kenzie’s life’s work is protecting the world from the supernatural relics that could destroy it. When an amulet with the power to control the tides is shipped to New York, he must intercept it before it can be used to devastating effects. This time, in order to succeed, he needs a powerful psychometric…and the only one available has sworn off his abilities altogether.

Rory Brodigan’s gift comes with great risk. To protect himself, he’s become a recluse, redirecting his magic to find counterfeit antiques. But with the city’s fate hanging in the balance, he can’t force himself to say no.

Being with Arthur is dangerous, but Rory’s ever-growing attraction to him begins to make him brave. And as Arthur coaxes him out of seclusion, a magical and emotional bond begins to form. One that proves impossible to break—even when Arthur sacrifices himself to keep Rory safe and Rory must risk everything to save him.

The Review

Now I’m going to start this review by saying, this is the book that pulled me out of my reading slump. I went quite a while without finishing a book and Spellbound was the one that pulled me back into my happy reader universe. It combined magic with the prohibition era in New York and I fell in love with Ace and Rory (Jade and Zhang were pretty awesome too).

Rory Brodigan is a psychometric, who uses his gift to find counterfeit antiques. He can see into the history of objects. Ace is in need of someone who can see into the history of a magical object. At first, Ace thinks the psychometric might be Mrs. Brodigan, but soon finds that it’s Rory who has this talent. As the pair works together, they become closer and the attraction between them grows.

I found Rory’s talent fascinating and I enjoyed the way the history of the items was portrayed to the reader. Also, Rory’s backstory, very fitting of the time period. Rory was not entirely trusting of Ace at first, but once they learned to trust each other it was sooo good.

It was easy to get lost in 1920s New York, with Ace, Rory, Jade and Zhang. It was refreshing to see that this group of friends weren’t all powerful. They had limits to their powers and had to think creatively to overcome obstacles.

A lot of the romance happened off the page, which was a little disappointing, but I was so into the story line and what was happening that it was okay. So if you’re looking for red hot romance, you’re not going to get it here, but the action combined with the characters kept me entranced in finding out how the story was going to end.

I’m excited to see that this is a series and it’s going to kill me to wait a year to get the next book! But I’ve been recommending this one out to friends and definitely want to get my hands on a physical copy of Spellbound!

Get your copy here!

Perfect Match by Mildred Gail Digby

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Three out of Five Stars

The Summary: After a tragedy derailed her life, Dr. Megan Maier crawls back to the land of her birth to take a job in a private Jewish hospital. There, she meets Syler Terada, a pediatric surgeon with a brash attitude and a lack of respect for authority who incidentally rocks a tuxedo. She captivates Megan with one glance. Conservative culture and rules against fraternization can’t stop Megan. However the secrets she’s running from can.

The Review

Perfect Match by Midred Gail Digby is a medical romance, featuring two female doctors navigating the waters at a private Jewish hospital in Japan and discovering a romantic connection between them. Dr. Megan Maier took a new job at a private Jewish Hospital in Japan after facing tragedy in her personal life. She is still learning how to cope with that when she becomes enchanted by fellow doctor, Syler Terada.

The two women are immediately attracted to each other, but they don’t just jump into a relationship. Which I liked. The intimacy between the two women slowly builds. Syler believes that Megan was straight, and a lesbian relationship is something completely new to her. She lets Megan set the pace and slows them down at times to make sure that Megan is okay with moments they are sharing. They took the time to discover each other’s wants and needs within a relationship and that was sweet. It’s what everyone wants for themselves in a relationship. It was great to see it written out in the way it had been.

What was surprising about this book, was the culture that I had never heard about. I didn’t know there were strict roles in the lesbian lifestyle that are held to and if you don’t fit into that mold, then if feels as though you’re looked down on. Almost as if you aren’t a ‘real’ lesbian.

There were a few things I had a issues with. The terminology. There were bits of different languages sprinkled throughout. It is representative of the characters and the setting and it served to put you further into their world. My problem was that I had to stop and look terms up because I couldn’t figure out what they meant via context clues. (The author does provide a link to the terminology on the GoodReads page) I also had a hard time figuring out what Megan and Syler looked like. Yes, I got that Syler was androgynous and slim, but I felt like I had an incomplete picture in my mind.

I was not expecting this to end when it did. It left me a little baffled and then I figured out there was going to be a second book continuing this story line. (I know, I should have figured that out with the face that the title says ‘Book One’. Don’t judge.) There were a lot of unanswered questions which I feel like will be resolved in book two.

Overall this was a pretty good read and I’m glad that I had the opportunity to read it. There is a lot about the LGBTQ+ culture that is different from region to region, and it was enlightening to see it written out. It sparked the need to broaden the novels I read even further than what I currently read.

Order your copy here

I Knew Him by Abigail de Niverville

40711378Five out of Five Stars

The Summary: In his senior year of high school, Julian has one goal: be invisible. All he wants is to study hard, play basketball, and pretend he’s straight for one more year. Then, he can run away to university and finally tell the world he’s bisexual. And by “the world,” he means everyone but his mom and best friend. That’s two conversations he never wants to have.

When he’s talked into auditioning for the school’s production of Hamlet, Julian fears that veering off course will lead to assumptions he’s not ready to face. Despite that, he can’t help but feel a connection to this play. His absent father haunts him like a ghost, his ex is being difficult, and he’s overthinking everything. It’s driving him crazy.

The decision to audition leads Julian on an entirely different path. He’s cast as Hamlet, and the boy playing Horatio is unlike anyone Julian has met before. Mysterious and flirtatious, Sky draws Julian in, even though he fears his feelings at the same time. As the two grow closer, Julian begins to let out the secrets he’s never told—the ones that have paralyzed him for years. But what will he do if Sky feels the same way?

The Review

This book, I felt it in my bones, and I wished that I had something like this to read when I was in high school. To have something like this to relate to would have made it a little easier getting through the school day surrounded by people who didn’t have to fear being true to themselves.

Julian has a plan during his final year I high school. He’s going to pass his classes, play basketball, and not tell anyone that he’s bisexual. The best laid plans never work. He is talked into auditioning for Hamlet and it brings him down a path he didn’t expect. He lands the part of Hamlet, meets a boy who sparks feelings in him, comes to terms with why his father left his mother, and comes to realize that his happiness matters just as much.

I want to say how much I related to Julian. I’ve had friends who couldn’t believe in bisexuality. You either are, or you’re not gay. There’s nothing else. This was before I knew there was more than gay, lesbian or bisexual identifiers (I live in the deep south and still haven’t come out completely – gotta do this in my own time right?). I felt his fear at coming out to a friend who had a track record of calling him a coward or a liar for not ‘picking’ the gender he wanted to be with. It hurt seeing Julian struggle with all the feelings revolving around Will, but it was one hundred percent real.

Sky was such a beautiful, creative character. I was intrigued with his first appearance on page. He’s smart, kind, sensitive and is everything that Julian needs at this moment of his life. They were so great to each other. Listening, reassuring, understanding, supportive. It’s what everyone needs in a relationship and they had it.

Julian’s relationship with his Dad was touching. They were unsure of where they stood with each other but they learned how to be father and son again. Julian learned that family doesn’t have to be traditional, but happiness is important. To lie to yourself is to set yourself up for some pretty tough times. His mother’s reaction broke my heart. Like damn, why did it have to happen that way. I was pretty close to crying at one point and that isn’t an easy feat with me.

This book left me feeling hopeful, happy and excited for the possibilities that life could bring. I thoroughly enjoyed this, plan on buying a physical copy, and making sure I recommend this to everyone I think needs this in their life. If you are a YA fan, this is definitely worth a read – and very likely a reread.

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First Time by Stella Starling

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Four out of Five Stars

The Summary: Cody McPherson is a high school senior everyone says is destined for the NFL. Simon Andrews is the transfer student who doesn’t want any attention. It’s 2007 and no one is out at Hamilton High School, but there’s a first time for everything, and when biology tutoring sparks the kind of chemistry not found in textbooks, 2007 starts to look like the year that there will be a lot of firsts at Hamilton…

First Time is a coming-of-age gay romance novella of approximately 34,000 words. Every Stella Starling romance takes place in the same interconnected, contemporary world, and First Time is a prequel to Cody and Simon’s present-day love story, which will be told in the novel Second Chance, scheduled for release in 2019.

The Review

This was such a sweet read 😍 I wish there had been more. I love a good coming of age, first-time, YA Romance. And this had everything you could want for a mature reader (I say mature because there is a sex scene towards the end that definitely steps over into the NA genre)

Cody McPherson is the star of the football team and is expected to make it to the big leagues. He just needs to get his biology grade up to par to keep playing and to make sure he keeps those scholarships he’s been offered. He’s been keeping his head down, not looking at his team mates in the locker room and managed to get away with not dating throughout high school because he was focusing on football. Simon Andrews is a nobody and just wants to make it through high school without causing any waves and to make sure he gets a scholarship so he can finally be himself without any barriers.

Cody has been fighting his attraction to Simon since Simon started tutoring him. He’s smart, kind, funny, and sweet. He’s everything that Cody wants but thinks he can’t have. Simon thinks Cody is a straight jock that’s completely off limits. They are so cute with each other. They both get flustered, stumble over their words when they are around each other, and dissolve into shy smiles and laughter. It reminded me of the first relationship jitters that everyone gets. You’re happy, excited and want everything all at once. This was exactly how they were with each other.

Cody’s friends melted my heart. They were supportive and had his back, just like they would have on the football field. They had me smiling and laughing with how they were with both Cody and Simon. It didn’t matter that they were gay, or from different ends of the high school social ladder. They were there for each other.

By the time I finished reading this, I was in such a good mood. It was exactly what I needed.

I wish there had been more tutoring scenes, awkward dates and maybe meeting Simon’s mom scene. I know it’s a novella, and there’s a full length book featuring their second chance romance, but I just needed more!! I’m definitely going to be reading more by Stella Starling.

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Gotta Catch Her by Kelly Haworth

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Three out of Five Stars

The Summary: Who says phone games are only for kids? Sometimes they give just the respite you need from a hectic life. At least, that’s the way Ann feels about Ani-min Move, an AR mobile game full of cartoon animals caught with nets. Legendary raids have just launched, and Ann arrives at a nearby park to find it full of people of all ages playing the game, including Rachael, a kind, attractive single mom. And sweet! Rachael is more than willing to teach Ann the proper way to spin her nets to snag the raid boss.

Back in reality, Ann has a lot on her plate: a full workload as a project manager, finding the energy to walk her dog, Franny, and now trying to figure out if Rachael is queer. And how does Ann converse with Rachael about her six-year-old son when she doesn’t know a thing about parenting?

Ann is lost as to how to proceed until Rachael takes the guesswork out of the equation by proclaiming she’s bi—right when Ann gets a massive work assignment that consumes way too much of her time. Life/work balance was never Ann’s forte, but between caring for her sweetheart dog and figuring out how to navigate a relationship with a single parent, Ann’s determined to make it work, especially before Rachael gets cold feet and leaves Ann playing by herself.

The Review

Gotta Catch Her is a novella featuring two women who meet by chance playing a phone game call, “Ani-Min Move”. The game serves as a break from the reality that our ladies are going through in their every day lives. Ann is a project manager undertaking a massive audit at work, while Rachel is a single-mother running after he young son in the park. I was stoked to see a story featuring a premise like this one. Two characters meeting due to a video game.

The pair meet up with each other during raids a few times before Ann decides to ask Rachel out for coffee. Due to commitments at work and commitments at home, several of their dates get canceled, cut short, or interrupted. It’s how life truly is, but it got frustrating because the point of a romance is for there to be romance! Right?

I feel like if this had been longer, there would have been more interaction between Ann and Rachel this would have been a real treat. Almost all of the scenes revolve around Ani-Min Move and even their first ‘date’ included them playing throughout. Call me old fashioned, but if my date is on their phone its probably because they aren’t interested in me.

Ann and Rachel were just starting to get to know each other and then book ended. There was a romance scene that felt out of place for me, but that’s totally probably a just me thing. It would have read just as well if that scene hadn’t been included.

Did I enjoy it? Yeah, it was a good, quick read. It just left me wanting more for Ann and Rachel.

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New Ink on Life by Jennie Davids

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The Summary: Quiet does not equal weak… 

Leaving a dependable job to apprentice as a tattoo artist was a drastic step after surviving breast cancer, but Cassie Whiteaker is nearly five years cancer-free. Nearly. She’s not ready to go out on her own until she clears that all-important hurdle. Also off-limits are relationships and sex—something Cassie is sure she’ll never want again.

Struggling tattoo shop owner MJ Flores doesn’t give a damn what people think, but losing Thorn & Thistle would mean losing everything. When her former mentor’s protégé arrives at her door, MJ hires her out of obligation…at first. Cross-stitching goody-goodies are not her type, but Cassie’s business background might just get the shop back on solid footing. They strike a bargain: Cassie will enact new marketing plans and MJ will teach her to find her inner bitch.

Only when clients request to see Cassie—having learned of the beautiful, compassionate tattoos she creates for survivors and their families—does MJ realize all Cassie has endured. And as Cassie’s fears fade, she finds it harder to keep her admiration for her bad-girl boss from reawakening all she’d feared was lost.

The Review

Cassie Whiteaker is a survivor. She’s nearly five years cancer free and she’s finally pursuing her dreams. She went from a corporate job to apprenticing as a tattoo artist. She ends up at Thorn & Thistle and MJ Flores hires her out of pity (that’s what it felt like to me). Cassie knew MJ’s mentor who had passed from her fight against cancer. It’s the tipping point that pushes MJ to give Cassie a chance.

The two women couldn’t be more different than each other.  Cassie is quiet, reserved and polite to a fault. MJ is definitely not. She’s loud, brash and has an attitude that is hard to get past. They end up working out a deal, Cassie will help MJ with the shop’s marketing and MJ will help her grow a backbone. Ending up in bed together was supposed to be a no strings kind of deal, but can you really keep something no strings when you start to get to know another person, their struggle and fight?

I liked the concept of New Ink on Life but there was something missing. I think it was the fact that Cassie and MJ were such polar opposites. It was hard for me to like MJ and it was difficult to relate to how meek Cassie was. MJ’s attitude was all a cover and I eventually came to understand that. I did appreciate what she was trying to teach Cassie. To stand up for what she wants and believes in. I just felt like it was the wrong way to go about that. The initial build up to their first kiss and first touches was intense. I was on the edge of my seat waiting for it to happen. But then I was a little let down the further we progressed into the book and their exploration of each other.

I like that art played a big part in Cassie’s growth. This is what she wants to do with her life and she’s settling into her skin as a tattoo artist. The description of some of the pieces she drew were vivid.

Due to be released May 27, 2019