Monday, April 24, 2017

Cover Reveal: Unsteady by Melissa Collins

Happy Cover Reveal Day! We are so excited to share this amazingly HOT cover with you!
Unsteady by Melissa Collins Release date: 4/28/2017 A stand alone, M/M romance
Cover design: Sommer Stein at Perfect Pair Creative Covers
Photography: Wander Aguiar at WANDER AGUIAR :: PHOTOGRAPHY
Models: Jacob Cooley and Ryan Dick
Micah Hudson and Jude MacMillian were both lonely teenagers. One the new kid and one the target of relentless bullying, they quickly became friends. But when friendship grew into more, the relationship was too much for either to handle. As their tenuous bond was tested, everything tumbled down, leaving them lonely once again.
A decade later, Micah is on the brink of losing his will to live. Beyond exhausted from lying to everyone, including himself, Micah thinks of the one person who knows his deepest secret. Desperate and alone, Micah makes the only decision he feels he has: he must leave. But his need for closure depends on one thing.
Can Jude make room in his Unsteady life for Micah once again?

Pre-order Unsteady today for a special price of $2.99! Grab it here --> Amazon

As an extra special treat On Solid Ground is FREE! Grab it here --> Amazon

And! You can catch up with Dax and Beck in On Higher Ground for only 99 cents! Grab it here --> Amazon

Join me on Facebook where you will find a $50 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway! Melissa Collins Author Page

Melissa Collins has always been a book worm. Studying Literature in college ensured that her nose was always stuck in a book. She followed her passion for reading to the most logical career choice: English teacher. Her hope was to share her passion for reading and the escapism of books to her students. Having spent more than a decade in front of a classroom, she can easily say that it’s been a dream. Her passion for writing didn’t start until more recently. When she was home on maternity leave in early 2012, she read her first romance novel and her head filled with the passion, angst and laughter of the characters who she read about it. It wasn’t long before characters of her own took shape in her mind. Their lives took over Melissa’s brain and The Love Series was born.

Necessary Medicine by M.K. York

Title: Necessary Medicine
Author: M.K. York
My Rating: A

Genre: Medical Fiction with a side of Contemporary Romance (m/m)
Series: -
Main Characters: Neil and Eli
Release Date: April 2017
Publisher:  Carina Press
Links to Purchase:
Sexual Intensity: spicy

Story Overview:
With intelligence and humor, debut male/male author M.K. York delivers an emotionally charged slow-burn romance set in a prestigious Bay Area teaching hospital

In the high-intensity world of hospital residency programs, there's no room for romance. So it's a good thing for first-year surgical resident Neil Carmona that his crush on the gorgeous cardiologist Eli Newcombe is sheer fantasy. Not only is the sexy doctor Neil's superior, he's also recently divorced. 

As Neil's skill as a surgeon grows, so does his friendship with Eli, and his silent, hopeless longing for more. It isn't until Neil's final year that Eli at last admits his own deepest desires. But Neil's joy is short-lived: Eli has no intention of pursuing a relationship. Their positions in the hospital would make it unethical, even if he was emotionally ready for someone new. 

Wounded and furious, Neil is determined to forget about Eli once and for all. But when a near-tragedy strikes, a new question arises: Is a life without love—without Neil—a greater risk than laying his heart on the line?

My Review:
This story is NOT a romance. I think the publisher has done it a disservice by labeling it so. And let me explain why I'm starting my review here, because do not doubt...I thoroughly enjoyed this story and immersing myself into this world. 

Before I got to read this book I had another reviewer contact me so disappointed with this book. She and I normally have similar tastes so I went into reading this fully expecting to have to DNF it. I didn't.

I loved the book, but could see why the other reviewer didn't. THIS IS NOT A ROMANCE NOVEL. By definition (used to apply to romantic suspense on whether it's a romantic suspense or just a suspense novel), the Romantic Writers of America (RWA) states that a novel must have 50% of the story focused on the romance for it to be considered a romance. While this book definitely had a romantic sub-plot, it only made up maybe 25%-30% of the story...and that's probably pushing that percentage. There is no HINT of anything beyond unrequited attraction up to the 62% point in the novel and that doesn't fully develop into anything resembling a relationship until 85%.

So, what is this story? I honestly don't know. I'm not familiar with non-romance oriented genres, but I'd place it firmly into medical fiction (if that's a thing). For reviewing purposes, I'd say that if you enjoy medical dramas on TV (like ER or Grey's Anatomy), especially the moments with patients and the rigors that doctors go through, then you will enjoy this one.

The book starts when Neil is in medical school or just starting his residency (I can't remember where he was at for that first lecture...I'm thinking it was medical school) and then follows him through all the years of residency. The story is about the stresses that these doctors go through and the physical and mental tolls that it takes on them. There is a TON of medical jargon (some I understood, a lot of it that I didn't). If you don't enjoy medical discussions, you will hate this book. It's really an insight into a medical student's life (and it doesn't hold back on some of the more distasteful aspects of it)...and I loved it for that. I feel like I truly have a better understanding of just how rigorous a surgeon's residency is. I thoroughly enjoyed this peek into that life. 

And now to talk about the romance subplot between Neil and Eli (note to the author...don't do that..those names are too close to the same for speed-readers which makes the beginning of a novel so difficult in keeping the characters straight). 

Eli is 12 years older than Neil. They work in the same hospital although Eli is cardio, not surgery. Still, they are not equals...Eli is senior to Neil, so he's in a supervisory role. Also, Eli is straight. There is no hope for a relationship. And it's a long, long time into the book before they're even friends. 

This is purely a one-sided attraction to a beautiful man for Neil. In the midst of his exhausting life, Eli is a reminder that maybe someday he'll have time to date again...someday. Needless to say this book has a VERY slow build up to what eventually happens. (no spoilers) I liked them, especially as their friendship developed. In fact, I liked all of Neil's group of friends and colleagues. They have a camaraderie that comes from this kind of high-stress life that binds them tightly...from Pete to Mark to Kristy...and yes, eventually Eli.

I liked the book. I found the story to be engaging and fascinating and enjoyed submerging myself into the world of medical residency. It's so hard and stressful. I have a new respect for the doctors who go through it. 

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

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Dark Debt by Chloe Neill (audiobook)

Title:  Dark Debt
Author: Chloe Neill
My Rating: A-
Narrator: Sophie Eastlake

Genre: Urban Fantasy 
Series: Chicagoland Vampires #11
Main Characters: Merit and Ethan
Release Date: March 2015 (audiobook)
Publisher: Tantor Audio
Links to Purchase
Sexual Intensity: spicy

Story Overview:
A vampire never gets old. But neither do his enemies. When a figure from Ethan's dark past makes a splashy debut in Chicago, Merit and her Master don't know whether he's friend or foe. But they'll have to figure out soon, because trouble is brewing in the Windy City.

At an exclusive society soiree attended by the upper echelons of the human and supernatural worlds, Merit and Ethan barely stop the assassination of a guest. When the target turns out to be a shady businessman with a criminal edge, Merit suspects a human vendetta. But the assassins have fangs....

The connections to Chicago's Houses go deeper than Merit knows, and even one wrong move could be her last....
My Review:
Overall: 4.25
Performance: 4.5
Story: 4.25

One character made this, talk about a great and really, really creepy bad guy. It made for a great and really suspense-filled read. I was on pins and needles almost all the way through the entire story, not knowing what might happen next. 

As always, this is another great installment to the series. I love how the author has threaded all the various story lines through the stories and we're finally getting some closure on some of those...Mallory and Catcher...LOVE them. There were also some really poignant moments between Morgan and Merit. I feel bad for the guy. He's definitely had a raw deal all the way around...even though he can be a jerk at moments. 

And then there's Ethan and Merit. I felt like their love was tested more in this book...which again helped in all that suspense. I continue to love them together and am going to be so sad when this whole series ends (did I read right? #13 is the last? *sob*).

This has been a fantastic urban fantasy series. There's enough romance to satisfy this romance genre girl, but the story remains focused on Merit and the strife in her life. I adore this series!!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Walk of Shame by Lauren Layne

Title: Walk of Shame
Author: Lauren Layne
My Rating: A+

Genre: Contemporary Romance
Main Characters: Georgie and Andrew
Release Date: April 2017
Publisher:  Loveswept
Links to Purchase:
Sexual Intensity: spicy

Story Overview:
Sparks fly between a misunderstood New York socialite and a cynical divorce lawyer in this lively standalone rom-com from the USA Today bestselling author of Blurred Lines and Love Story.

Pampered heiress Georgianna Watkins has a party-girl image to maintain, but all the shopping and clubbing is starting to feel a little bit hollow—and a whole lot lonely. Though Georgie would never admit it, the highlights of her week are the mornings when she comes home at the same time as her uptight, workaholic neighbor is leaving to hit the gym and put in a long day at the office. Teasing him is the most fun Georgie’s had in years—and the fuel for all her naughtiest daydreams.

Celebrity divorce attorney Andrew Mulroney doesn’t have much time for women, especially spoiled tabloid princesses who spend more time on Page Six than at an actual job. Although Georgie’s drop-dead gorgeous, she’s also everything Andrew resents: the type of girl who inherited her penthouse instead of earning it. But after Andrew caps one of their predawn sparring sessions with a surprise kiss—a kiss that’s caught on camera—all of Manhattan is gossiping about whether they’re a real couple. And nobody’s more surprised than Andrew to find that the answer just might be yes.

My Review:
This book...

I'll be honest, I see Lauren Layne's name and I know I want to read it...regardless. So I'll admit when I started reading and the heroine was a socialite...not a character that I would normally get attached to or even like. But that is the amazing element of LL's stories...she makes you fall in love with her characters. You just can't help yourself. 

And I promise you that you will fall in love with Georgie. She spends her nights out at parties, coming home at 5 AM just in time to see Andrew as he's leaving for the gym on his way to work. They have a contentious relationship. He thinks she's flighty and silly. She thinks he's staid and stodgy. 

But Georgie is one of those people...everyone loves her because she truly cares and listens to everyone around her. She's outgoing and genuine. And it truly bugs her that Andrew DOESN'T like her.

This is an awesome example of enemies to lovers or opposites attract tropes. Andrew and Georgie cross swords (and dialogue) throughout the entire book and that's one of the things that makes it so much fun to read. There are little glimpses for each of the characters though that there are more emotions going on besides just the aggravation that they show to one another. It's so good. 

The emotions are nuanced into the characters and story brilliantly. There were moments when I smiled as I read and there were even a few tears toward the end. I loved this book. If you had told me that I'd fall in love with a party-focused socialite I would have told you no way, but the brilliant, slightly repressed and awkward Andrew is the perfect foil for Georgie. I love them together!! 

Another brilliant book from Lauren Layne!! I highly recommend this one. It's most definitely in the running for one of the Top Ten reads of the year.

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

How to Bang a Billionaire by Alexis Hall

Title: How to Bang a Billionaire
Author: Alexis Hall
My Rating: A

Genre: Contemporary Romance (m/m)
Series: Arden St. Ives #1
Main Characters: Arden and Caspian
Release Date: April 2017
Publisher:  Forever Yours
Links to Purchase:
Sexual Intensity: erotic

Story Overview:
Rules are made to be broken . . .

If England had yearbooks, I'd probably be "Arden St. Ives: Man Least Likely to Set the World on Fire." So far, I haven't. I've no idea what I'm doing at Oxford, no idea what I'm going to do next and, until a week ago, I had no idea who Caspian Hart was. Turns out, he's brilliant, beautiful . . . oh yeah, and a billionaire.

It's impossible not to be captivated by someone like that. But Caspian Hart makes his own rules. And he has a lot of them. About when I can be with him. What I can do with him. And when he'll be through with me.

I'm good at doing what I'm told in the bedroom. The rest of the time, not so much. And now that Caspian's shown me glimpses of the man behind the billionaire I know it's him I want. Not his wealth, not his status. Him. Except that might be the one thing he doesn't have the power to give me.

My Review:
I was intrigued by the blurb on this one, but was honestly a bit worried over whether I would really like it or not. OMG, no worries anymore...I LOVED THIS BOOK AND CANNOT WAIT FOR MORE!!

This book belongs entirely to Arden. Poor Arden. He's a bit awkward...or maybe even more than a bit. He's only 20 coming up on his finals at Oxford. He's been studying English which means he doesn't have a clue about what he's going to do after graduation. He's a really good, sweet guy...and he unwittingly charms Caspian without even trying.

Caspian is an eccentric billionaire. He's young and brilliant. He's EXTREMELY structured with his life. He controls everything and isn't used to anything breaching his walls. But Arden gets under his skin and he doesn't know what to do with that. 

There's a sweetness to this story that I wasn't expecting. Arden is just so artless. He likes Caspian so much and can see glimpses of heaven, but Caspian pushes back for every step Arden makes for breaking through their barriers. Arden has certain needs. We're talking BDSM, although this book doesn't really delve deep into that. Caspian seems almost afraid of his dominant personality when it comes to Arden, no matter that Arden REALLY wants Caspian to immerse into the idea. I think this is one of those aspects that's really going to grow throughout the series. 

Note: do not let the title of this book put you off. (I really feel like that title gives the book a lighter more comedic feel than the book deserves.) It's a serious romance...dealing with difficult issues of finding one's place. The story was good, the romance at times sweet/at times bittersweet. I thoroughly enjoyed it and cannot wait for the next installment. 

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

A Charmed Little Lie by Sharla Lovelace

Title: A Charmed Little Lie
Author: Sharla Lovelace
My Rating: A

Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Charmed in Texas #1
Main Characters: Lanie and Nick
Release Date: April 2017
Publisher:  Lyrical Shine
Links to Purchase:
Sexual Intensity: spicy

Story Overview:
Charmed, Texas... quaint, quirky, and when it comes to romance, there's no place quite as enchanting.

Lanie Barrett didn't mean to lie. Spinning a story of a joyous marriage to make a dying woman happy is forgivable, isn't it? Lanie thinks so, especially since her beloved Aunt Ruby would have been heartbroken to know the truth of her niece's sadly loveless, short-of-sparkling existence. Trouble is, according to the will, Ruby didn't quite buy Lanie's tale. And to inherit the only house Lanie ever really considered a home, she'll have to bring her "husband" back to Charmed for three whole months--or watch Aunt Ruby's cozy nest go to her weasel cousin, who will sell it to a condo developer.

Nick McKane is out of work, out of luck, and the spitting image of the man Lanie described. He needs money for his daughter's art school tuition, and Lanie needs a convenient spouse. It's a match made... well, not quite in heaven, but for a temporary arrangement, it couldn't be better. Except the longer Lanie and Nick spend as husband and wife, the more the connection between them begins to seem real. Maybe this modern fairy tale really could come true...

My Review:
Sharla Lovelace is a queen at writing second chance at love stories. This was not one of those so I went into it with a bit of trepidation...just hoping her style would translate to a different trope as well. OMG, it well. I loved this book!

Lanie is stuck. She told her dying aunt a lie, not thinking it would hurt anything. She said she was happily married. But her aunt told everyone and then put some stipulations on her will about Lanie and her husband before Lanie could inherit the house she grew up in. She doesn't necessarily want the house, but she doesn't want to give it up either. It doesn't help that her skeevy cousin inherits if she blows it, and he has plans to tear the house...her house...down. She can't allow that to happen. 

And that's where Nick comes in. Lanie lost the man who she'd planned to bring home as her husband when she met Nick...on the way there. He was fired from the diner where she was trying to eat and he fits her description of her husband perfectly and he obviously needs a job. She hires him for the 24 hour period...that then turns into so much more. 

The way the story progresses wasn't a huge surprise, but the authenticity of the characters and their mental trials throughout the story was. It was all so well done. I loved Lanie and Nick. The story is told entirely from Lanie's point of view, so the reader doesn't get to know Nick as well, but the author did an amazing job of giving us tiny clues and insights into his stress throughout. Nick is a fairly closed off guy, so that wasn't the easiest thing to do.

Both of these characters have histories which made them really leery of committing to a true relationship. But I liked that they settled in with one another so naturally even though they were strangers. They were a team against everyone else. I loved that about this story and made their connection feel so real and possible. They have a joint mission to make this work. And then there's Nick. He has these moments when he's just so perfect. He sees Lanie's flaws and shores her up when she needs it most. Gah...he was such a great hero. 

There were so many highlights in this book. The visuals of his towel, cooking, rolling up his shirt many happy places. For that aspect alone, I loved that this book was told from Lanie's viewpoint. 

My only (teeny, tiny) complaint is that I wish there had been a bit more of Nick's background filled in. He obviously knows how to cook and is possibly a trained chef, but it was never really explained how he ended up working in a diner where no one appreciated him. There were hints at more to the story there and unless I just missed it, some of those questions weren't answered.

But seriously, that's a minor, minor complaint...because everything else about this book was fantastic! I loved it and can't wait for the next installment in the series. 

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

The Thing About Love by Julie James

Title: The Thing About Love
Author: Julie James
My Rating: B+

Genre: Contemporary Romance
Main Characters: Jessica and John
Release Date: April 2017
Publisher:  Berkley
Links to Purchase:
Sexual Intensity: spicy

Story Overview:
Two undercover FBI agents can hide who they are from everyone but each other in the latest novel from the New York Times bestselling author of Suddenly One Summer

FBI agents Jessica Harlow and John Shepherd have a past. The former lawyer and cocky Army ranger clashed during their training at Quantico, gladly going their separate ways after graduating from the Academy. Six years later, the last thing either of them expects is to run into each other again–assigned to work as partners in a high-profile undercover sting.

For both of them, being paired with a former rival couldn’t come at a worse time. Recently divorced from a Hollywood producer and looking for a fresh start, Jessica is eager to prove herself at her new field office. And John is just one case away from his dream assignment to the FBI’s elite Hostage Rescue Team. In order to nail a corrupt Florida politician, they’ll have to find a way to work as a team–a task that becomes even trickier when they’re forced to hole up at a romantic, beachfront resort as part of the investigation. Suddenly, the heat behind their nonstop sparring threatens to make the job a whole lot more complicated. . .

My Review:
Flat out...I really enjoy Julie James' stories. Her heroines are tough and sassy. Her heroes are badass and alpha and her story lines are usually fun and witty. But this one didn't quite have the umph that I expect from a Julie James novel. And honestly I was trying to analyze exactly why this morning. The dialogue wasn't quite so snappy, despite the hero's constant need to quip about Jessica's saucy attitude. (Honestly by the end, it kind of felt like the author was adding that in to make it feel more snappy than it truly was...and that was kind of a bummer...and distracting.)

But despite all that...this book was good. Just not quite as my very high expectations for a Julie James book. 

But there is a lot of good to be found in this story. The hero and the heroine have a history, but it's a history fraught with contention. They were the two highest performers while qualifying for the FBI at Quantico. As a result, they were constantly trying to one-up one another. For Jessica, this was especially difficult. As one of only two females, she had to perform up to standard even more so than her male counterparts. And at 5'3" she didn't hold much competition physically against John who was 6'4". As a result, they left the academy both pretty much hating the other. 

So, when they become partners in an undercover operation, things aren't quite smooth sailing. Also, they're both coming off hard break-ups and they are both really attractive people attracted to one another. But they're undercover in Florida as high-powered, corporate investors. As such, the ambience was fun. I liked Jessica's tradition of a glass of wine and piece of cake after a long day undercover (she's my kind of girl). Their banter about the core of their jobs was fun. Jessica works white collar; John works in the more violent crimes area (and I can't remember exactly what that was off the top of my head right now). 

I liked the conflict about how there is no easy resolution. Even if the two can resolve their feelings for one another, they are going different places. It kept me reading and wondering how in the world this could ever all get sorted. I love it when I get close to the end of a book and I'm still wondering. That's a great twist that the author pulled off. 

So a bit of a mixed review, but I'll be honest...that's mainly because Julie James has set such a high bar for her writing, not anything truly against this book. It was a fun read. Lots of fun, sexy times, with a bit of FBI intrigue and danger added in just to keep it exciting. 

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

Steeling himself, John turned around and smiled as Jessica approached. “Yes, Agent Harlow. How can I be of service?”
In response to his dry tone, she threw him a glare so cold it could’ve frozen all nine circles of Dante’s Hell. Fittingly, just nine of the many places he would rather be than stuck working with her on this investigation.
 “Look, I’m not thrilled about this, either.” Keeping her voice low, she came to a stop next to him at the elevator bank. “I thought you were supposed to be on the Hostage Rescue Team already.”
“And I thought you were supposed to be in L.A.”
There was a quick flash in her eyes before she shrugged off his question. “Change of plans.”
The elevator arrived at their floor, and they both stepped inside. She hit the button for the seventh floor, where the public corruption squad was located. Standing on the opposite side, he pressed the button for floor five.
They faced off as the doors shut. She folded her arms across her chest and studied him with those crystalline blue eyes that could so cleverly mask her emotions.
As he knew well.
“We’re going to have to figure this out,” she said. “We’re supposed to be business partners in this.”
Thank you, yes, being a professional, he was aware of that. He took a step closer. “It’s called “undercover” work, Harlow. If I can pretend to be a gun-buying, murder-for-hire thug, I think I can handle playing some rich investor-type who wants to skirt a few measly zoning laws.” Even a rich investor-type who was apparently masochistic enough to get in bed with the likes of her.
“Measly zoning laws?” she repeated.
Ooh, now he’d gone and pissed her off. How nice it was, really, that they could pick up like this, right where they’d left off.
She drew in closer, tilting her head back to meet his gaze. He was over a foot taller than her, although he noticed that she was heightening a bit with those expensive-looking three-inch heels she wore.
“Our target in this investigation is the mayor of the thirteenth largest city in the United States. That’s a pretty big deal in my book.” She gestured to his facial scruff and hair. “And while I appreciate that this . . . Sons of Anarchy motif you’ve got going might ingratiate yourself with the gun-buying, murder-for-hire, organized-crime thugs of the world, that’s not quite going to fly with this sting operation.”
 “’Thirteenth largest city in the United States?’” he scoffed. “Just how many hours did you spend reviewing the case files last night?”
She smiled sweetly as the elevator arrived at her floor. “Enough to get the jump on you.”
Then the doors sprang open, and she gave him a friendly wave, once again stepping into the role of Ms. Congeniality. “So glad we got to catch up like this, Agent Shepherd. We’ll talk again soon.”
He watched her stride confidently down the hallway as the elevator doors closed between them.
Enough to get the jump on you.
Not for long, sweetheart.
Time for him to get cracking on that case file.