A Lady for a Duke by Alexis Hall

A Lady for a Duke by [Alexis Hall]

Two out of Five Stars

Summary

When Viola Caroll was presumed dead at Waterloo she took the opportunity to live, at last, as herself. But freedom does not come without a price, and Viola paid for hers with the loss of her wealth, her title, and her closest companion, Justin de Vere, the Duke of Gracewood.

Only when their families reconnect, years after the war, does Viola learn how deep that loss truly was. Shattered without her, Gracewood has retreated so far into grief that Viola barely recognises her old friend in the lonely, brooding man he has become.

As Viola strives to bring Gracewood back to himself, fresh desires give new names to old feelings. Feelings that would have been impossible once and may be impossible still, but which Viola cannot deny. Even if they cost her everything, all over again.

Review

I love Alexis Hall’s work. But this was a complete miss for me. I feel like I may be one of the few people who didn’t enjoy this. Which makes me wonder, what did I miss? I was excited to read a trans, historical romance.

Viola Caroll, presumed dead at Waterloo, took this as her opportunity to live as she truly is. She lost her status, her friends, and most importantly, the Duke of Gracewood.

The families reunite and Viola sees how her decision impacted her dearest friend. He’s lost himself in grief, pain, and suffers from PTSD. He lives in a fog of laudanum and alcohol. His sister, who needs to be presented to society, is suffering due to this. As Viola inches further into Gracewood’s life, chaperoning his sister, she becomes closer to the man who’s friendship she cherished in the war so much.

I had a few issues while reading this. The pacing was sluggish. It took me to about 50% in to actually get interested in what was happening. I was close to DNF’ing this one, but pushed myself to keep reading because of all the other reviews I’ve read. The chemistry between Viola and Gracewood was lacking. I didn’t feel any attraction between the two of them. They just existed.

I was more interested in the secondary storyline, involving Gracewood’s sister, rather than Viola and his story.

What I did like, was they romance was NOT fade to black. Which is what you get with so many novels featuring a trans character. It was handled delicately and read just like a romance in the regency era would read.

The portrayal of a character suffering from PTSD in this time period was what I personally feel to be as accurate. It was a misunderstood illness and Gracewood did what he could to deal with his time in war – drug and alcohol abuse.

Overall, it took me several months to read this book. I read twelve other books between starting A Lady for a Duke and finishing it. While this was a definite miss for me, you may enjoy it according to other readers.

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Jaclyn Quinn – Author Spotlight

Meet the Author

J.Quinn Author

Jaclyn has been an artist from a very young age. From drawing cartoon characters and evolving into portraits, making jewelry, photography, and now writing. She has an amazing support system in her family and friends and couldn’t be more grateful.
She lives in central New Jersey, love summers at the Jersey Shore, rock music, wine, sexy men, and laughing a lot with her amazing friends and family. Sunday dinners at her parents’ house are crazy, hysterical and you can count on a movie quote…or ten…being thrown out. Insults between siblings is how they show our love for each other!
When she’s not creating, you can find her reading books from her favorite authors. She is a hopeless romantic, starving for passionate characters and always craving that happy ending, whether in reading or in writing my own books.
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Ford Ashton
They say you never forget your first. Who’s they, you ask? Good question. I wish I had the answer because I’ve tried everything to get Abe Manning off my mind. Now he’s here, in Coral Pointe Inlet, staying in the inn that I co-own with my four best friends. Okay, I may have had something to do with that, but these thoughts are driving me crazy. I need to know what happened all those years ago, because if the saying is true, how was it so easy for Abe to forget about me?

Abe Manning
A free trip to Coral Pointe Inlet, the shore town that is the very definition of paradise, is exactly what I need. The best part being there’s no chance of running into two lying liars who lie. For the first time in a long time, I’m able to take a much-needed deep breath. That is, until my past shows up on the beach with a sexy smile and an unexpected confession. It was hard enough forgetting him the first time, and now here he is again—a temptation I’d never been able to deny. I have to admit, though, it’s incredible to know I still have the ability to fluster Ford.

Flustering Ford is book 3 in the Shore Thing series. While it can be read as a standalone, it’s recommended that the reader get to know this hilarious group of friends in Coral Pointe Inlet by starting with book 1.

Click on the covers to learn more
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While Writing ….

I actually can’t listen to anything while writing. I’m easily distracted. Lol
I do, however, always have a lemon-lime seltzer next to me. Not very exciting! Haha
I’m a pantser…which isn’t always easy. I’ve never been good at making outlines.
I absolutely love writing books about found family and small towns. I throw my quirky humor into every book, even the more serious ones.

Connect with Jaclyn Quinn

Website * Facebook Reader Group * Twitter * Instagram * TikTok

Rachel Bowdler – Author Spotlight

Meet the Author

 

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Rachel Bowdler grew up and still lives just outside of Manchester, on the edge of West Yorkshire. She was insistent on becoming a dancer until the first time she put pen to paper, and has been writing ever since. After graduating from the University of Salford with a degree in English and Creative Writing, she delved briefly into the world of photography before becoming a freelance romance author, focusing on her passion of representing diverse characters and relationships in her stories, particularly with queer, curvy, and working-class protagonists. Her dream has always been to smell the pages of her own book, and she accomplished this after self-publishing her first novella, Paint Me Yours, in 2021. Her only wish now is that her words make readers feel warm and fuzzy inside – and maybe to see her book on a shelf one day.

When she isn’t assaulting her computer keyboard or daydreaming about fictional people in her pyjamas, you can find her cuddling and walking her talkative dog, Enzo, enjoying and photographing the rural scenery of the local Pennines, wishing it was time to put up her Christmas tree, and painting with watercolours (but not very well!). 

Her festive debut novel, Honeymoon for One, will be brought to readers in November 2022 with Bonnier imprint, Embla Books.

 

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Purchase your copy here

Though they are polar opposites in many ways, best friends Bryce and Thea are both attracted to all things horror, including true crime — and to prove it, they co-host weekly podcast episodes of Perfect Crimes together with their producer, Mikey, in the dusty basement of Stone Grange’s local bookstore. When a string of murders suddenly begins to plague their small, unassuming town and the police find themselves at a loss, it seems that there’s nobody more qualified to help solve the mystery.

However, it’s soon realized that Bryce and Thea are already more entangled than they could have ever expected, because the murders follow a pattern. Their pattern. With every case discussed in the podcast comes a new imitation of the circumstances surrounding the victim’s death, and Bryce and Thea find themselves trapped in a dangerous game of cat and mouse with the killer, as their friendship — and feelings that they’ve always left hidden until now — is pushed to its breaking point.

When the evidence begins to pile up, conflicting suspicions of the killer’s identity begin to rise, and friends and acquaintances of the duo become victims; things seem to get closer to them with each death. Can they survive the dark shadow following them around town, and remain the strong-willed, closely connected partners in crime they’ve always been? Or will their obsession with murder prove their undoing in a final, emotional showdown as the killer is revealed?

 

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Check out the above books in her Pride sale through the month of June!

Saving the Star, a romantic bodyguard suspense with a Hollywood actress who is facing a threat more dangerous than she can grasp; Holding on to Bluebell Lodge, for fans of soft contemporary, small-town, Hallmark-esque rom-coms; and The Fate of Us, which has a hint of magical realism and fantasy as it explores soul mates and past lives. All of these books are 99p/99c!    

Click on the covers to learn more!

 

Connect with Rachel

Website * Twitter * Instagram

 

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I have playlists for each book I write. I usually listen to a few songs from them before writing or between, but never during because I can’t focus with background noise, unfortunately. Here’s the one I made for Partners in Crime, which was fun because it’s much moodier and darker than my usual works. 

Spotify Playlist for Partners in Crime

 

The Long Game by Rachel Reid

Five out of Five Stars

Summary

To the world they are rivals, but to each other they are everything.

Ten years.

That’s how long Shane Hollander and Ilya Rozanov have been seeing each other. How long they’ve been keeping their relationship a secret. From friends, from family…from the league. If Shane wants to stay at the top of his game, what he and Ilya share has to remain secret. He loves Ilya, but what if going public ruins everything?

Ilya is sick of secrets. Shane has gotten so good at hiding his feelings, sometimes Ilya questions if they even exist. The closeness, the intimacy, even the risk that would come with being open about their relationship…Ilya wants it all.

It’s time for them to decide what’s most important—hockey or love.

It’s time to make a call.

Review

 

I have been looking forward to the conclusion of Shane and Ilya’s story since Heated Rivalry ended. I needed to know so much. Would their love make it? Would they come out or keep their relationship a secret until retirement? I NEEDED TO KNOW! And this book did not let me down.

            In this book, we get to see the more emotional side to Ilya. There was a much more vulnerable portrayal of him. I liked that we got to see that part of him. It was funny, when I was reading I had the thought, “Well shit, he’s done a lot for Shane, but what has Shane done for Ilya?” It hit me all at once. Ilya had sacrificed so much for this relationship, and I really wanted Shane to wake up and see what was in front of him.

            There was one scene that made me tear up (in the middle of a Mexican restaurant as I ate tacos by myself during my lunch break), it was such a great scene to include. You’ll know what I’m talking about once you read it, but it made me want to give both Ilya and Shane a hug. I could imagine how difficult it would have been to be on other end of that moment. It made my heart hurt.

            I was so excited to see more of Ilya’s team and how much they evolved over the course of the season. For a team that was already counted out, it was so exciting to see them play their hearts out. The Centaurs, they are definitely a team I would love to be on or a part of.

            There were so many cute moments too. Like Ilya, big bad Ilya, getting married to Shane by one of his team mate’s children? How excited he was at the idea of getting a team dog? I loved it.

            The spicy scenes? Well, I never thought it’d be sexy to do it in a trophy room, but kink unlocked. The passion was still as intense now as it had been years ago. I loved seeing that. They missed each other, craved each other, and treated on each other.

            I absolutely loved this addition to Shane and Ilya’s story.

Get your copy here

No Rings Attached by Rachel Lacey

3 out of 5 Stars

Summary

Lia Harris is tired of being the odd one out. She’s never quite fit in with her uptight family, and now that her roommates have all found love, she’s starting to feel like a third wheel in her own apartment. Fed up with her mother’s constant meddling in her love life, Lia drops hints about a girlfriend she doesn’t have. But with her brother’s London nuptials approaching, she needs to find a date to save face. Lia turns to her best friend, Rosie, for help, and Rosie delivers—with the fun, gorgeous Grace Poston.

Grace loves to have a good time, hiding her insecurities behind a sunny smile. Her recent move to London has provided her with a much-needed fresh start. Grace isn’t looking for love, and she hates weddings, having weathered more than her fair share of heartache. Friendships are different, though, so for Rosie’s sake, she reluctantly agrees to pose as Lia’s adoring girlfriend for the wedding festivities.

Both Grace and Lia are prepared for an awkward weekend, complete with prying family members and a guest room with only one bed. As it turns out, they get along well—spectacularly, in fact. Before they know it, the chemistry they’re faking feels all too real. But is their wedding weekend a fleeting performance or the rehearsal for a love that’s meant to last?
 

 

The Review

A fake relationship for the weekend with someone you’ve never met face to face shouldn’t be that awkward of an experience. Right? In the second installment of Rachel Lacey’s Ms. Right series, Lia and Grace’s story unfolds.

            Lia has always heard about the mysterious Grace from her best friend Rosie. Yet, somehow, Grace has always conveniently dipped out of any obligations that would have allowed them to meet. Attending a wedding in London is the perfect opportunity for the pair to meet face to face and see. Lia grabs the chance to meet Rosie’s ‘best friend’ who lives in the UK.

            Lia wasn’t expecting to like Grace as much as she does. Grace is everything she wants in a partner. She’s fun, smart, gorgeous, and keeps Lia on her toes in the best way. It’s an impulsive move, but when the opportunity presents itself for Grace to come to New York, Lia offers to accompany her on a road trip.

            Feelings and lines get blurred. Lia wants everything she can have with Grace. Grace only wants right now. She doesn’t do relationships and can’t give that to Lia. She’s upfront about that, which was nice, but she was so stubborn.

            I loved each of their stops on the road trip. It was exactly the kind of trip I wanted to take and to go on with my partner. My favorite was the T-Rex moment. It just warmed my nerdy heart. And immediately went on my to-do list with my partner. The flirtation, kisses, and spice between them was excellent. There were a few times my heart fluttered and I let out a happy little sigh.

            Grace was a frustrating character. I just … I’m trying to put it into words without spoiling anything for ya’ll, but there were a few times I skimmed Grace heavy scenes. She irked my nerves.

            I do have to say, the ending really pulled everything all together for me and I was definitely happy with how their story ended up.

Get your copy here

Too Like the Lightning by Travis Beaudoin

Four out of Five Stars

Summary

Andrew Madigan had everything he ever wanted.

He’d worked hard to build this perfect little life. A stable relationship with a successful man. A beautiful home in a quiet suburb. And best of all, a job where he spent his days talking about literature.

Then his tenure was denied and, too quickly for him to stop it, everything crumbled.

Now, with his dreams in the dust and his confidence shattered, Andrew has one summer to figure out his next move.

Bulbs, Florida, is like no place Andrew’s ever known. It’s small and provincial. It’s hot as hell. Storms roll through every single day. But Andrew just has to keep his head down. Finish his book, find a new job, put things back on track. Easy-peasy.

He didn’t plan on making a friend.

Coley Brandt has a green thumb and an easy smile. He’s much younger than Andrew, but he puts Andrew at ease, makes him feel at home. Their time together reminds Andrew what having a purpose feels like.

Suddenly, this long, lonely summer feels too short.

But Coley has dreams of his own, and they’re a million miles away from the life Andrew’s trying to get back.

Maybe this is just a summer fling. Maybe, like the lightning, it’s only meant to be glorious for a moment before it disappears.

Or maybe it’s something more.

Review

I don’t know what it was about this book, but it was the most satisfying read. It had an ebb and flow that made Andrew and Coley’s store easy to get lost in. I could see the cottage, the pond, and hear the shrill of crickets and frogs at night. Beaudoin brought the story to life and invited us into a rich, hot, Floridian world.

            Andrew lost everything that made him who he was. His job, his partner, his home. Florida was a means to recharge and get back on track with his writing. Finding a job would be nice too. He didn’t expect to find Coley.

            Their first encounter with each other isn’t the greatest. There may have been tears, but Coley was surprising. He may have been younger, but there was a sense of maturity in him. He was kind and didn’t judge Andrew for not knowing where he was going to end up past his time in the cottage. He slowly pulled Andrew out of his shell. Andrew helped with the yard work, took a swim in the pound, and went out with Coley.

            Andrew and Coley together was *chef’s kiss* spectacular. There was a chemistry that steadily grew from their first meeting. Uh, and those kisses? Can I get more of those? There was something about reminded me of my special somebody. I’d give this a three out of five on the spice scale.

            My heart hurt for Andrew at times. Then there were times I was rooting for Andrew to stay in Florida. He found his happy while he was there. He slowly learned who he was outside of his career. Coley helped him get there.  

            I loved that both Andrew and Coley encouraged each other to go for opportunities they may not have gone after on their own. How comfortable they became with each other. I laughed at Andrew shuffling through the kitchen naked. Coley and his red pick up truck coming to shake up Andrew’s world.

Get your copy here

Too Much Man by Katy James

3.5 Stars out of 5 Stars

Summary

A grumpy former hockey player and a bisexual coffee-shop owner refuse to commit—to themselves or each other—in this fun, flirty debut.

Piper Welborn has created a warm, welcoming space for all in her queer-inclusive coffee shop, even if the long hours came at the cost of her love life. But she’s not ready to welcome one man in particular—a grumpy, muscular former hockey player. His smoldering presence is a temptation and a challenge to her long-standing vow not to date cis men.

Gavin Williams has no business starting a relationship, least of all with a woman he’s not sure even likes him. He can’t resist the Friendly Bean’s hot, pink-haired owner, but a casual fling is all he can commit to. He’s hoping to leave town for the next stage in his career…if he ever gets the call with the job offer.

A friends-with-benefits arrangement is perfect for them both—but neither is ready for the feelings that hit. When the post-hockey life Gavin always dreamed of is suddenly within his grasp, they’ll both have to make a choice: hold tight to what they thought life should look like, or work together to build something new.

 

Review

I haven’t had much in the way of bisexual representation here and it’s time I remedy that. Too Much Man by Katy James was a great book to review. It addressed issues that I have dealt with and could relate to. James has put everything I’ve felt into words that I had a hard time putting into words.

I’m not sure I can avoid spoilers, so here’s your warning!

Piper, a bisexual, coffee house owner. Piper offers up her coffee as a coffee house as the location for a charity event for the area hockey team. She is tasked with making sure the players can serve coffee as well as make sure the winners have a great time.

That is a very small aspect of the story, but it’s how she ends up meeting a very angry Gavin Williams who is still healing from a devastating injury. He’s in pain and unsure of his future. I’d be grumpy too.

Piper fights against her attraction to Gavin. She’s made a promise to herself as a bisexual woman she was done with men. The queer community is where she feels most at home and whenever she is with a man, it’s almost like a party trick, her liking women. She feels excluded from the community whenever she dates a man.

I felt that so much. Personal information time, I’m Demi. My attraction tends to lean more towards women, but I’ve been in a relationship with a man the past year and there are times I feel like I’m not who I’ve thought I’ve been my entire life. That people will claim all those dates and relationships were a phase. Spoiler alert, they weren’t. But it just felt good knowing I wasn’t alone in that feeling.

Piper bargains with herself. She can have a friend with benefits relationship with Gavin. He’s leaving, there’s an expiration date on it. There won’t be any feelings and when he’s gone, she’ll move on. Easy as that. Right?

It’s never as easy as that.

Now I will fully admit, I can’t give a rating to the spiciness. I was more focused on the emotional journey that both Piper and Gavin went on as they learn who they truly are as individuals and what they want in life.

The beginning was a little slow for me. At times I got irritated with the pair of them, but overall I enjoyed reading this. The secondary characters weren’t memorable. Which I feel terrible for saying, but I was so focused on Piper and Gavin.

Get your copy here

Errant by L.K. Fleet

3 Out of 5 Stars

Summary

Aspen Silverglade used to be a force for good, but now she’s just a sword for hire. On the run from the people she once trusted most, she needs to keep her head down and keep moving.

But old habits are hard to quit. One night in a tavern, Aspen tries to save a woman from some unwanted attention. The woman, Charm Linville, is in the middle of a subtle and delicate act of thievery, and she does not appreciate Aspen blundering in.

The disastrous and public rescue-gone-wrong makes the townspeople think Aspen and Charm are a couple. This mistake sets Aspen’s bloodthirsty betrayers on Charm’s trail, tying the two of them together.

Even if Aspen can’t run from her past any longer, Charm shouldn’t have to suffer. Despite Aspen’s determination to work alone, Charm insists on helping—and she has a past of her own. The two of them don’t care for each other’s methods, but as they journey through the villages and wildernesses of Falland, solving problems and meeting magical friends and foes, Aspen and Charm grudgingly come to care for each other. Can these two guarded, stubborn women admit their feelings, or will Aspen’s enemies kill them first?

 

Review

 

Errant (volume one) features two novellas penned by a combination of three authors: Felicia Davin, K.R. Collins, and Valentine Wheeler under the name L.K. Fleet.

In a series of mistaken heroics, Aspen attempts to save Charm from what she believes to be unwanted attention. As it turns out, Aspen interrupted Charm in the middle of pickpocketing her latest victim. In effort to cover, Charm pronounces Aspen as her wife. This marks the start the wild journey they end up on together.

This is a lighter fantasy filled with mischief, tropes, and adventure. Aspen and Charm annoy each other in the best ways. I got an absolute kick out of the pair of them. The romance was a little lighter and there were no spicy scenes in this volume (but I read there may be some in the next!). It was a little campy at times, but I feel like that’s what made this a fun and easy read.

What I had wished for was full length novels. With a novella you get dropped into the story and action without much build up. There was so much about Aspen and Charm that I feel like we weren’t able to learn about them. Perhaps in volume two?

Get your copy here

Hard Sell by Hudson Lin

Three out of Five Stars

Summary

One night wasn’t enough.

Danny Yip walks into every boardroom with a plan. His plan for struggling tech company WesTec is to acquire it, shut it down, and squeeze the last remaining revenue out of it for his Jade Harbour Capital portfolio. But he didn’t expect his best friend’s younger brother—the hottest one-night stand he ever had—to be there.

Tobin Lok has always thought the world of Danny. He’s funny, warm, attractive—and totally out of Tobin’s league. Now, pitted against Danny at work, Tobin might finally get a chance to prove he’s more than just Wei’s little brother.

It takes a lot to get under Danny’s skin, but Tobin is all grown up in a way Danny can’t ignore. Now, with a promising patent on the line and the stakes higher than ever, all he can think about is getting Tobin back into his bed—and into his life for good.

If only explaining their relationship to Wei could be so easy…

Review

There are some mixed reviews on this Hard Sell by Hudson Lin, but I enjoyed this one. There were a few things that I didn’t like, that irritated me a bit. But that’s normal for me. I’m an emotional reader. I think the corporate setting, mixed with a long-distance relationship was something I could easily relate to.

            First, let’s get to the tropes. Brother’s best friend, long-distance, workplace relationship, second chance romance. I’m ALL about these tropes.

            Tobin and Danny were electric when they could get their act together. There were a few romance scenes, a couple of stolen moments. I wish they were a little spicier.

            Tobin had to fight hard to get out of the brother’s best friend role and establish himself as an individual. He made sure that he made his own way from college onwards. He worked hard to become the man he is today. It irked my nerves, unbelievably so, when everyone just acted like he was still a teenager.

            Danny, while older, acted more like a kid. Instead of communicating, he acted in secret. When he could have up front said, “this is for a job, but you should come with me” instead of pretending it was just for fun.

Get your copy here

Heart2Heart Volume 5

5 out of 5 Stars

Summary

Once upon a time, a bunch of authors wondered… what would happen if Heart2Heart, the dating and community app responsible for bringing together couples from all over the world, encouraged people to do something they’d never done before?

#NeverHaveIEver is trending on H2H, and fourteen authors who’ve never before appeared in a Heart2Heart anthology (and one who’s never left) have come together to show how funny, hot, and heartwarming it can be when H2H app users challenge themselves to do something outside of their comfort zones–from singing in public, to skinny dipping, to getting their first real kiss–while they manage to fall in love along the way.


As always, all proceeds from this anthology will benefit LGBTQ+ charities to ensure that love in all its incarnations will be celebrated and protected every single day of the year!

The Review

I was super excited to have the opportunity to read the latest batch of stories for the Heart2Heart Anthology. There were some authors I had followed and wished they’d get to participate at some point and HERE THEY ARE!!! These stories take place all over the globe and it’s exciting to see all the different settings.

Never Have I Ever … Dyed My Hair Flaming Red by Daryl Banner -Three Stars

I had the opportunity to meet Daryl Banner at a book signing, so since then, I’ve kept up with his work. Seeing his name pop up in this collection was exciting for me. He is one of the few authors I enjoy reading from their work from the first person point of view.

If you are a fan of the new adult genre, this will fit the bill for you. It’s more conversational, delves into the drama of stage work, and I could hear the characters’ southern twang in my head while I read.

Zakary is very young, learning who he is and what he wants in life. Jonatho, has a bit of an ego, but what director doesn’t? Zakary is right though; we need more stories that end sweetly and with a sense of hope. Instead of doom and gloom.

It’s a bit cheesy in places, but it was a fun, easy read.

 

Never Have I Ever … Spent the Night with Blanche by Louisa Masters – Four Stars

Okay, if you haven’t ever binged a few episodes of the Golden Girls, you need to treat yourself to that stat. It was the perfect meet-cute for Fin and Clay. A Golden Girls screening to get them to meet outside of the Heart2Heart app.

Also, I cannot get over Ripper’s character. The minute I laid eyes on him; I knew I’d love him. Big biker with a soft spot for the Golden Girls? Yes, please.

This was such a feel-good story that had me grinning throughout it.

 

Never Have I Ever … Been on a Date by Tal Bauer – Five Stars

Tal Bauer is a master at weaving romance into a heart-pounding thrill ride. He creates such strong, intelligent characters that it’s easy to connect with them, no matter where the story takes them. So, it was no surprise that I fell headfirst into a story taking place on Antarctica. I wish I could have gotten a full-length novel for these two.

A chance encounter twines Cletus and Damien together during the time they spend on Antarctica. A missed opportunity that turns into a second chance. Even if it’s not under the greatest of circumstances?

The steam level is fade to black, but it’s very the emotional connection between the men is as strong as you would expect from Tal Bauer’s work. There’s grit, heart, and happiness in their story.

Get your copy here