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.

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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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Hush by Tal Bauer

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Five out of Five Stars

The Summary:

A federal judge running from the truth.
A U.S. marshal running from his past.
A trial that can plunge the world into war. 

Federal Judge Tom Brewer is finally putting the pieces of his life back together. In the closet for twenty-five long years, he’s climbing out slowly, and, with the hope of finding a special relationship with the stunning Mike Lucciano, U.S. Marshal assigned to his DC courthouse. He wants to be out and proud, but he can’t erase his own past, and the lessons he learned long ago.

But a devastating terrorist attack in the heart of DC, and the subsequent capture and arrest of the terrorist, leads to a trial that threatens to expose the dark underbelly of America’s national security.

As Russia beats the drums of war, intent on seeking revenge, and the United States struggles to contain the storm before it races out of control, secrets and lies, past and present, collide in Judge Tom Brewer’s courtroom. With the world’s attention fixed on Tom and this case, he suddenly discovers he may be the only person who can put everything together in time to stop the spark of a new world war.

The Review

I don’t think I have read anything by Tal Bauer that I haven’t loved. Hush was no different. It is a political thriller that kept me on the edge of my seat trying to figure out what was really going on all the while I was melting from the heat and romance between Tom and Mike. This is definitely a book that I want a physical copy to have on my shelf.

Federal Tom Brewer has been in the closet for twenty-five years and Mike Lucciano, the U.S. Marshal assigned to him, is the first man who has made him want to take a chance on and to step out of the closet. As their relationship grows, a terrorist attack in Washington DC and arrest of said terrorist, makes it difficult for Tom to be the man he wants to be when he’s thrust into the spot light. All eyes are on him as he sits as judge for the trial and being with Mike is harder than ever.

Mike and Tom are real. Mike is very active in the LGBT community, participates in a volleyball league and slowly pulls Tom away from his fear and teaches him that its okay to be who you are. Mike’s friends never pressured Tom to do more than what he was ready for. They didn’t make a big deal of the fact that he was a federal judge and that served to make Tom comfortable.

Tom was a bit shy, but once his affections were earned, he was so sweet. I loved that they held hands, cuddled, shared soft kisses throughout the entirety of the novel. That affection didn’t disappear after they had bone melting sex. There was a heat to their touches and conversations. They were a gorgeous couple.

So besides the heat factor (which I’m going to rate 10 out of 10), the political thriller plot held my attention as much as Tom and Mike’s growing relationship. It was something that (sadly) you could see happen in today’s political atmosphere. It felt real. The stress, fear, anxiety, anger – all of it was fitting and true.

Do yourself a favor and give this one a read.

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Enemies of the State by Tal Bauer

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Five out of Five Stars

The Summary: Newly elected President Jack Spiers’s presidency is rocked from the very beginning, and he’s working furiously to keep the world from falling apart. Between terrorism attacks ripping apart Europe, Russia’s constant posturing and aggression, and the quagmire of the Middle East, Jack is struggling to keep his campaign promise—to work toward a better, safer world.

For Special Agent Ethan Reichenbach, Jack is just another president, the third in twelve years. With Jack’s election, he’s been promoted, and now he’s running the presidential detail, which puts him side by side with Jack daily. He’s expecting another stuffed suit and an arrogant DC politician, but Jack shocks him with his humor and humanity.

There are rules against a Secret Service agent and one of their protectees developing a friendship—big rules. Besides, Jack is a widower, and Ethan has always avoided falling for straight men. Ethan keeps his distance, but Jack draws him in, like gas to a naked flame, and it’s a lure he isn’t strong enough to turn away from.

As the two men collide, rules are shattered and the world teeters on the verge of war, and a rogue Black Ops unit bent on destruction sets Jack in their deadly crosshairs. Ethan must put everything on the line in order to save the man he’s come to love, Jack’s presidency, and the world.

The Review

Ya’ll, I don’t know how I managed to NOT read any of Tal Bauer’s work until now. I devoured this book overnight and promptly bought everything else of Bauer’s that I could find. I have always looked for books like Enemies of the State in the M/M romance genre and I could never find them. Political thrillers.

President Jack Spiers has a lot riding on his presidency. He promised to make a better, safe world for the citizens worldwide. But he’s been fighting terrorist attacks in Europe, Russian trying to be the bigger world power and the trouble in the Middle East. It’s a lot to handle without the support of a First Lady/Gentleman. He leans on his Secret Service Detail and one agent in particular, openly gay Ethan Reichenbach. Through this, Ethan gets to see a side of the president that pushes him to break every rule he has when it comes to who he is protecting.

As time passes and they get to know each other better, it’s hard to stay away. Ethan can’t help but blur the lines of professionalism for a man like Jack Spiers. But as the world edges closer to another war, things go disastrously wrong.

This is a President/Secret Service romance, and the chemistry between Jack and Ethan was so good. It was drawn out in actions that could be seen as playful flirting, but at the same time it could have just been Jack’s personality. Every way that Ethan fell for Jack was a way any of us could have fallen for our partners. The romance between them burned slowly and they discovered each other together.

Some of my favorite scenes were when they were together in the residence or at Camp David late at night. They focused entirely on each other as if that was their only world at the time. I can’t tell you how many times they made me smile or wish that one of them would hurry up and make a move! Then there was one moment that utterly crushed my heart. I got teary eyed while reading it and there was no way I could stop reading at that point. I needed to see everything better.

The political thriller aspect was weaved well throughout. It was easy to keep track of because we got chapters centered on that part of the storyline, and then bits and pieces in Jack’s political career that explained it further. It was just as present as their developing romance and I was all about it. I needed to figure out what the heck was being plotted and how they were going to stop it.

This was such a good read I was telling my friends about it who don’t read M/M romance. (Normally I don’t even say a word about my reads to them because they give me that look – you know the one lol). Go read this book! I’m sure everyone has already read it, perhaps more than once, but I can’t stop myself from telling you to read it.

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