Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Hot Asset by Lauren Layne

Title: Hot Asset
Author: Lauren Layne
My Rating: A-

Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: 21 Wall Street #1
Main Characters: Ian and Lara
Release Date: May 2018
Publisher: Montlake
Links to Purchase
Sexual Intensity: hot

Story Overview:
A sexy agent hounds Wall Street's hottest new wolf in an exhilarating novel from New York Times bestselling author Lauren Layne.

Ian Bradley is the definition of a Wall Street hotshot: seven-figure salary, designer suits, and a corner office. His drive off the floor is just as potent. Every woman who knows him has felt the rush. But now he's met his match in Lara McKenzie-a woman with the power to bring Ian to his knees.

An ambitious, whip-smart daughter of FBI agents, Lara is a rising star in fighting white-collar crime. Her latest case-the investigation of Ian Bradley for insider trading-could make her career. She knows a scoundrel when she sees one, and Ian fits the bill: a cocky, ridiculously handsome bad boy with a slick swagger.

She'll do anything to prove he's guilty. He'll do anything to prove he's not. But it's only a matter of time before their fierce battle of wits gets oh so hot and personal. Now taking down Ian has become more than business for Lara. It's become a pleasure-and there's more at risk than she ever dreamed.
My Review:
ooh, what a fabulous enemies to lovers story. I really liked the setup of this one...so unusual...an SEC investigator and the Wall Street genius that she's been charged to investigate...serious no-go for a relationship with these two. 

I really liked the initial intro to Ian...unapologetic playboy and manwhore. But as the story delves deeper, you find out some truly amazing things about how far he's come. Then there's Lara who's more of an awkward homebody (although there were times it felt like her character had a few inconsistencies...she dressed awful and came across as a real introvert, but then wanted to go out to the hottest club in town??) But overall, the story was so good, it was easy to overlook those tiny issues.

I liked them together, and thought Ian's terror about having his world turned upside down was really well-written. 

For so long, it's really unclear how/why Ian's been accused of insider trading. That part of the story line worked for me, too. As did the forbidden aspect of anything happening between Ian and Lara. It goes without saying that it screws everything up if she becomes personally involved with him...for both of them. They simply can't...and that provides a backdrop for some sizzling chemistry. But first, I loved that she simply rejects him...which honestly, he needs just to take his incredibly large ego down a few notches.

We're also introduced to the next two hero/heroines, and I'm excited about where the series is going. I'm really looking forward to both those books. 

I received a complimentary copy of this book in return for an honest review. BUT I already owned a print copy, too, because I need this one on my keeper shelf.

Marek by Sawyer Bennett

Title: Marek
Author: Sawyer Bennett
My Rating: A-

Genre: Sports Romance
Series: Cold Fury Hockey #11
Main Characters: Marek and Gracen
Release Date: May 2018
Publisher: Loveswept
Links to Purchase
Sexual Intensity: hot

Story Overview:
When the Carolina Cold Fury’s hottest young star gets blindsided by an ex with a scandalous secret, it’s game on.

“One of the best voices in contemporary romance.”—New York Times bestselling author Lauren Layne

Marek Fabritis is used to delivering blows, not receiving them. But when he gets tipped off by an anonymous email about his ex-girlfriend, the news leaves him ice cold—and it’s not because Gracen Moore is getting married to a total jerk. It’s the fact that Marek has a three-year-old daughter he never knew about. Now he’s going back home, not to play knight in shining armor but to make damn sure that no man takes what’s his. For the first time, there might be something more important than hockey.

Gracen Moore has always loved Marek. That’s why she let him go, so he could pursue a career in the NHL. And that’s why she never told him about Lilly. Only now does Gracen realize that she made an unforgivable mistake. But is that any reason for Marek to crash her wedding and make an epic scene? If the spark that still smolders between them is to be trusted, maybe. Still, Gracen’s not getting her hopes up. Because she knows better than anyone that appearances aren’t always what they seem. . . .
My Review: 
I love second chance at love books, but wow...I'm not sure I could have given Marek this second chance. He really started out the book as a real jerk, and it sounds like he was that way four years ago when he dumped Gracen. Personally, I felt she owed him a little bit more pain over that. Seriously, the dude dumped her so he could live his NHL life to the fullest...i.e. bang all the puck bunnies. UGH!!

But the rest of the book was good enough that I could forgive the author for writing him so vile in the beginning, but grrr. I do feel like Gracen deserved so much more. And yes, Marek did see the error of his ways, but it didn't feel like it was quite enough. 

Gracen screwed up, too, and her remorse is obvious from day one...Marek's...not so much...and that drove me nuts. 

But moving on...this was a good book. I did enjoy the overall setup because I adored Gracen and felt so badly for her (which is why his attitude bugged me so much...I loved her character). She knows she screwed up and is willing to let Marek abuse her mentally because of that. She also knows that she can't go back and make a different decision so she just deals. Seriously, this woman is so strong and she has raised such an exceptional daughter. Loved. Her!

Marek isn't as easy to love, but he does eventually come around...thankfully. 

As you can see...my emotions were fully involved with this story, which is why I rated it as high as I did even with my personal issues with Marek. I was fully invested in these characters and loved getting to read their story.

This whole series has been phenomenal and Marek was no exception to that rule. I love this team and its group of bad-boy players and management. 

I received a complimentary copy of this book in return for an honest review.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Promo Post: Goal Keeper by Sarah Nego

Title: Goal Keeper
Author: Sarah Nego
Genre: NA Sports Romance
Publication Date: May 21st, 2018
Hosted by: Lady Amber’s PR
Blurb: Plan the work. Work the plan.
Luci Ryder is determined to make the most of her college education. Armed with a partial scholarship to play soccer at Pearson University she knows the next four years are going to be a lot of hard work. Long hours in the gym will be paired with even longer hours in the library. So when the team captain lays down a new rule: No dating the men’s soccer team, Luci couldn’t care less.
Freedom. Sweet Freedom.
Over the summer Ryan VanKamp finally realized that his long-time girlfriend was going to drive him to an early grave. So he cut her loose, along with all the connections her family could offer him after graduation. His future is up in the air, but the guys on his soccer team are ready to help him forget all about his ex.
One little rule.
Neither Luci nor Ryan are interested in settling down with a happy ever after. But as their attaction for each other moves out of bounds, they’ll have to decide if they’re willing to risk a red card for a potential big score.
Goal Keeper is a laugh-out-loud stand-alone college romance. If you like quirky heroines, alpha males, and skinny dipping, then you’ll love Sarah Nego’s New Adult sport romance debut.
Buy Goal Keeper and kick off a swoon worthy romance today!
Sarah Negovetich knows you don't know how to pronounce her name and she's okay with that.
Her first love is Young Adult novels, because at seventeen the world is your oyster. Only oysters are slimy and more than a little salty; it's accurate if not exactly motivational. We should come up with a better cliché.
Sarah divides her time between writing books that her husband won’t read and performing on stage at BE Theatre. Her goal in life is to never grow up.

Wash Out by L.A. Witt

Title: Wash Out
Author: L.A. Witt
My Rating: A-

Genre: Military Romance (m/m)
Series: Anchor Point #7
Main Characters: Casey and Logan
Release Date: May 2018
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Links to Purchase
Sexual Intensity: hot

Story Overview:
Casey Olson has always known he was destined to be a Navy SEAL, and the best day of his life was when he was accepted into training. The worst day was when a snapping bone ended his dream.

After three combat tours in five years, Logan Carter left the Marines and self-destructed. Now he’s sober and, thanks to a forgiving ex with friends in high places, has a promising job as a civilian contractor. All he has to do is stay on the rails and out of a bottle, even when his demons won’t leave him alone.

Logan likes his job, and he really likes the gorgeous man at the next desk. Casey tries not to check Logan out, but who is he kidding? From the start, despite their best efforts, neither man can resist the other. Sizzling chemistry leads to sex so hot they can both almost forget why they’re stuck in this office to begin with.

It would be perfect, except Logan can’t stop reliving wars he’ll never forget and Casey can’t stop grieving the SEAL he’ll never be. And they’ll never have a future together until they can make peace with their pasts.

My Review:
While I've liked some of these books better than others, I really liked this one. Both of these guys are really relatable. I really enjoyed reading both their stories and really enjoyed watching the two of them growing in their relationship with one another. 

Both of them have hard backstories. Logan is a recovering alcoholic. He used alcohol to get through his PTSD after three war-zone tours. So, now he's learning how to live life with PTSD and without alcohol. Casey made it through hell week for the SEALS when he broke his lower leg (badly) in a freak accident. So, his lifelong dream of being a SEAL is over. His leg will never recover enough for that. 

They also work together, but that can be both a pro or a con...and both sides are shown throughout the story. 

I really did enjoy this story. The guys were good together, and it was so easy to see where both of them were coming with their conflict. I loved the way the author illustrated Logan's PTSD with his sketching. The visuals there were so moving...and the progression of his nightmares felt very realistic.

I've enjoyed this entire series and definitely recommend this story. All the books in the series can be read as a stand-alone.

I received a complimentary copy of this book in return for an honest review.

Roped In by A.M. Arthur

Title: Roped In
Author: A.M. Arthur
My Rating: B

Genre: Contemporary Romance (m/m)
Series: Clean Slate Ranch, #2
Main Characters: Colt and Avery
Release Date: May 2018
Publisher: Carina
Links to Purchase
Sexual Intensity: hot

Story Overview:
At Clean Slate Ranch, the men are rugged, the trails are rocky and lassos aren’t only used for roping horses 

For Colt Woods, Clean Slate Ranch is home. The dude ranch in Northern California helped him heal from a devastating breakup. So when his ex-Dom, the man who broke his heart, waltzes onto the ranch, Colt doesn’t know how to deal.

A research job at a nearby ghost town brings history PhD Avery Hendrix to Clean Slate. He’s not in town forever, but it doesn’t take long for him to feel the familiar draw to Colt. When they find out they’ll be sharing a cabin on the ranch, it’s all Avery can do to stop himself from bending Colt over a saddle right then and there.

In such close proximity, Colt’s and Avery’s old feelings come galloping back. Soon Colt is doing his master’s bidding again and loving every moment of it. And the pair may be in for the ride of their lives—if the dedicated professor and his rugged cowboy can learn to trust again.

This book is approximately 88,000 words

My Review:
I really enjoyed the first book in this series, so I was looking forward to this one, but the feel of this book is very different from the first one. 

This book is a second chance at love story. Five years before Avery and Colt were in a D/s relationship that started out as a business relationship. Avery is asexual (I think...he doesn't like labels so would never discuss the specifics), but before Colt, he's never had a sexual relationship. He worked as a Dom, but that never involved sex...until Colt. 

But they had some serious issues back then. Issues that haven't changed now...problems with distance and different standards for morality. Avery is pretty strict on his standings on things and wasn't willing to give Colt a whole lot of leeway...which in the end killed their relationship. 

The thing is...neither has fallen out of love with the other. Five years later, they can see what caused their downfall with a better 20/20 vision of it...and hopefully a better understanding of how to make that work for them now. 

Overall, the book worked for me, although I had a few little niggles that weren't resolved. Avery had problems with Colt automatically dropping into D/s mode. Sometimes Avery wanted Colt to look at him as Avery, not Sir. I was really disappointed that was never truly resolved. Even in the epilogue, Colt would automatically drop into that Sir dialogue during sex. So, I was sad that it wasn't really addressed. 

Avery also isn't the easiest character to love. He's pretty stuffy....although I adored Colt, and hurt so much for him and all his back story. He's been through a lot and I feel like he's really gotten shafted by both Avery and his friends. 

So, while not my favorite book in the series so far, I did really enjoy reading it overall. I'm ready for more stories from this ranch.

I received a complimentary copy of this book in return for an honest review. 

Fourteen Summers by Quinn Anderson

Title: Fourteen Summers
Author: Quinn Anderson
My Rating: A-

Genre: Contemporary Romance (m/m)
Main Characters: Aiden and Oliver
Release Date: May 2018
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Links to Purchase
Sexual Intensity: hot

Story Overview:
Identical twins Aiden and Max Kingsman have been a matched set their whole lives. When they were children, Aiden was happy to follow his extroverted brother’s lead, but now that they’re in college, being “my brother, Aiden” is starting to get old. He’s itching to discover who he is outside of his “twin” identity.

Oliver’s goals for the summer are simple: survive his invasive family, keep his divorced parents from killing each other, and stay in shape for rowing season. He’s thrilled when he runs into his old friends, the Kingsman twins, especially Aiden, the object of a childhood crush. Aiden is all grown-up, but some things have stayed the same: his messy curls, his stability, and how breathless he makes Oliver. Oliver’s crush comes back full force, and the feeling is mutual. Summer just got a whole lot hotter.

Fun-loving Max takes one thing seriously: his role as “big brother.” When Aiden drifts away, Max can’t understand how his own twin could choose a boy over him. Summer won’t last forever, and with friendship, family, and happily ever after on the line, they’ll have to navigate their changing relationships before it’s too late.
My Review: 
This book was simply a sweet read that's perfect for summer reading. So I recommend you buy it now, so you'll have it to read this summer, while sitting in a hammock, and sipping a lemonade. Seriously, it's perfect for that. 

These guys haven't seen one another in about six years (I can't remember the exact amount of time), but once upon a time Oliver, Max and Aidan were inseparable. Oliver wanted to be a brother to the twins for real, mainly just because his home life was so miserable. So, it was no surprise when Oliver's parents got a divorce (his home life was miserable because his parents were fighting all the time). It was really sweet because they used to play wedding where Max (the ringleader for the group) and Oliver got married when they were little, but when they grew up, it was Aidan and Oliver who were gay...and I love how that scene tied in later...LOVE!!!!

I just really enjoyed the story and the conflict was really interesting. Twins are so close (I have brothers who are twins). It's got to be hard when suddenly they aren't one of the close two of a lifetime of being a team. 

I also really loved Oliver and how adamant he was about not getting between the twins. He's grown up with fighting and realizes how truly damaging the constant fighting can be.

I just really enjoyed the story. It was a thoroughly enjoyable read and I definitely recommend it.

I received a complimentary copy of this book in return for an honest review.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Carry the Ocean by Heidi Cullinan (audiobook)

Title:  Carry the Ocean
Author: Heidi Cullinan
My Rating: A-
Narrator: Iggy Toma

Genre: Contemporary Romance (m/m)
Series: The Roosevelt #1
Main Characters: Jeremey and Emmet
Release Date: May 2017 (audiobook)
Links to Purchase
Sexual Intensity: spicy

Story Overview:
Normal is just a setting on the dryer. 

High school graduate Jeremey Samson is looking forward to burying his head under the covers and sleeping until it’s time to leave for college. Then a tornado named Emmet Washington enters his life. The double major in math and computer science is handsome, forward, wicked smart, interested in dating Jeremey—and he’s autistic.

But Jeremey doesn’t judge him for that. He’s too busy judging himself, as are his parents, who don’t believe in things like clinical depression. When his untreated illness reaches a critical breaking point, Emmet is the white knight who rescues him and brings him along as a roommate to The Roosevelt, a quirky new assisted living facility nearby.

As Jeremey finds his feet at The Roosevelt, Emmet slowly begins to believe he can be loved for the man he is behind the autism. But before he can trust enough to fall head over heels, he must trust his own conviction that friendship is a healing force, and love can overcome any obstacle.

Warning: Contains characters obsessed with trains and counting, positive representations of autism and mental illness, a very dark moment, and Elwood Blues.

My Review:
Overall: 4.25
Performance: 4.75
Story: 4.25

Wow, talk about an unexpected story. I honestly wouldn't have expected to enjoy a story written about two characters like Emmet and Jeremey. They are most definitely the most unlikely heroes, but they were wonderful. The story was wonderful. The romance was wonderful. The story line is unexpected, but it was fabulous. Heidi Cullinan (the author) and Iggy Toma (the narrator) both did a phenomenal job with the book. BUT huge, HUGE kudos to Heidi Cullinan for writing such a wonderful, heartwarming, eye-opening story. 

Both Emmet and Jeremey have issues holding them back in life. Emmet is incredibly intelligent, but he's also autistic, which makes it very difficult to interact in the world. Jeremey has crippling anxiety and depression, which make it difficult for him to interact in the world. But together, they work. Emmet sees Jeremey and is so open and honest that it makes it easier for Jeremey to be with him. 

They definitely don't have an easy life, but they work together. Their commitment to one another works and makes for a great read...as they transverse some huge obstacles to being together. Gah, and those obstacles are not small. I hated Jeremey's family and the way they make his life so much worse. After every interaction, my heart just hurts for him. He's such a good guy. 

Note: Iggy Toma was an INCREDIBLE narrator. OMG, so much love for his narration on this novel. It couldn't have been easy and he ROCKED it! I highly recommend it...and most definitely in audio!