Saturday, November 29, 2014

Raising the Rent by J.L. Merrow

Title: Raising the Rent
Author: J.L. Merrow
My Rating: B

Genre: Contemporary Romance (m/m)
Series: -
Main Characters: Stephen and Nathan
Release Date: October 2014
Publisher: Samhain
Links to Purchase:
Sexual Intensity: spicy

Story Overview:
"Rent boy rule number one: Never fall in love with a customer."

Life as a rent boy is not a long-term career goal for Nathan, who's determined to get an education. But when he turns up for his first day at college he's horrified to find his English teacher is one of his regular customers: Stephen, the one Nathan dubbed The Voice for his educated, honeyed tones.

Stephen's just as shocked to see Nathan sitting in his class, not to mention terrified he's about to be exposed as having paid for sex with a student which would mean public humiliation and maybe the loss of his job. Yet it's clear Nathan is only interested in getting his A Levels, not in blackmail. And Stephen realizes there's more to the nineteen-year-old than meets the eye.

Nathan still has to earn a living, though, and when a customer turns ugly, he finds himself homeless and unable to work. Stephen steps in to help, and Nathan starts to think they could have a future together if Stephen's guilt and lack of trust don't end their back-to-front romance before it starts.

This book has been previously published.

Warning: Contains unfashionable haircuts, unreasonably long words, and a May-December romance between a not-so-streetwise rent boy and an erudite English teacher."

My Review:
I really love m/m books that feature rent boys or porn star story lines so when I heard the premise of this one, I grabbed it. And while it was a reasonably good book, it didn't quite live up to all that I'd hoped it would be. Part of the reason for that, I think, is because the story is told entirely from Nathan's point of view and he doesn't observe Stephen's reactions to things very well so it was hard to connect to what Stephen was feeling. The story could have been SO MUCH more if there hadn't been that disconnect...because overall, the story is good. It just didn't quite feel as deep as I felt like it could be and that made me sad. 

The book takes place in England and is very British in its language usage...I loved that. It was just like a quick little jaunt to England where I lived for two years so it was fun to hear the phrases again that I haven't heard in a few years. 

I do love the premise of the story too. My heart ached for Nathan...he's in such a desperate place, just trying to make a better life for himself and I think Stephen sees some of that even though he hates what Nathan is doing. I'm telling you, this could have been an incredible book filled with angst and emotion if the author had just explored Stephen's pov some and gotten deeper into Nathan's emotional state. Instead, I've had to fill in the gaps myself and while that works to a certain extent...I still want more. 

But overall, I definitely don't feel like I wasted my time reading this one. It's an interesting story and definitely gave me a couple hours escape onto the streets of England. It's a short story and works for what it is.

Friday, November 28, 2014

The Boyfriend Mandate by River Jaymes

Title: The Boyfriend Mandate
Author: River Jaymes
My Rating: A+

Genre: Contemporary Romance (m/m)
Series: The Boyfriend Chronicles #2
Main Characters: Tyler and Memphis
Release Date: October 2013
Publisher: -
Links to Purchase
Sexual Intensity: hot

Story Overview:
Stuntman and two-time cancer survivor Memphis Haines excels at beating the odds. When he’s presented with the opportunity to help his ex-boyfriend with a charity event, he jumps at the chance to make up for the devastating way he left Tyler ten years ago. Memphis might have taken the college geek’s virginity, but the former mathelete is now a hell of a head turner. And Dr. Tyler Hall’s cool reserve is a challenge Memphis can’t resist. A self-confessed rule breaker and line crosser, he keeps turning up the heat with one goal in mind: to melt the man’s composure.

Tyler Hall sticks to one simple mandate: no more dating ex-boyfriends. Ever. He certainly isn't interested in hooking up with Memphis Haines, the ex who jumps off buildings, dodges explosions, and poses for designer underwear ads. Ten years ago, falling for Memphis changed Tyler’s life. The man’s abrupt departure turned his world inside out. But he moved on long ago. Besides, he has a clinic for the homeless to run, patients to take care of, and no time to deal with the trouble his ex brings. Memphis, however, seems determined to rehash the past. And his boxer-dropping grin, hard body, and confident charm are resurrecting ultra-hot memories best not remembered, making Tyler’s rule harder and harder to keep...

My Review:
Without a doubt, The Backup Boyfriend is one of my favorite books that I've read this entire year (I read it in can find my review of it HERE.) So, while I expected this one to be good, I didn't expect it to ever live up to the other. I was so wrong. This book was so freaking good!

Memphis and, these two guys. Memphis is a balls-to-the-wall, take-no-prisoners adrenaline junkie. He does stunts. He models underwear. He's gorgeous. He's personable. And he broke Tyler's heart when he left without a single word after an 18 month relationship. That was 10 years ago and circumstances have brought them together again...paparazzi and mutual charity work. Since they broke up, Memphis went back to women and was even married.

Tyler is repressed. He's stoic. He's a contained kind of guy. He's a doctor who's passionate about his patients and charity, but nothing else fazes him much. But there's a reason for that. Memphis broke him 10 years ago. Tyler was abandoned by his mother at the age of 4 and then abandoned by his lover in much the same way. For Tyler, Memphis was his forever. For him to leave without a word was harsh in so many ways.

But now Memphis is back and seeking forgiveness and that broke my heart...because there is SO MUCH MORE to this story. makes me teary the morning after just trying to write this review. This book is so emotional and River Jaymes did an incredible job of spinning the layers of the story so you find out bit by slow bit what is really going on. And in the middle of all those bits are some seriously sexy times for these two guys who still have incredible chemistry and not a few unresolved emotions. 

I'm telling you right now...if River Jaymes is not on your reading need to ADD HER NOW. This book and story was so good. Like I said, the first in the series was already on my TOP TEN list for the year...but now, I'm thinking this one has to go on there too. So good! (Note...I'm an angst girl so angsty books like this totally work for me, but this book did not work for a lot of people. Personally I adore characters that have flaws. I have issues that way, but I love an HEA for characters that sometimes don't really deserve a second chance.)

And now I'm ready...where is book #3? Noah & Ky...I'm ready!!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

River Marked (audiobook) by Patricia Briggs

Title: River Marked
Author: Patricia Briggs
My Rating: B
Narrator: Lorelei King

Genre: Urban Fantasy 
Series: Mercy Thompson #6
Main Characters: Mercy Thompson
Release Date: March 2011
Publisher: Ace
Links to Purchase:
Sexual Intensity: mild

Story Overview:

8 hours, 28 minutes 

Car mechanic Mercy Thompson has always known there was something different about her, and not just the way she can make a VW engine sit up and beg. Mercy is a shapeshifter, a talent she inherited from her long-gone father. She’s never known any others of her kind. Until now.

An evil is stirring in the depths of the Columbia River—one that her father’s people may know something about. And to have any hope of surviving, Mercy and her mate, the Alpha werewolf Adam, will need their help…

My Review:
Overall.... 3.75
Performance... 4.75

Story.... 3.25

This book takes Mercy on a different type of adventure as it's just her and Adam on their honeymoon for most of the book and the bad guy is a water devil...something that Adam can't help fight since as a werewolf, he sinks in water. As a result, this book has a very different feel for Mercy. She doesn't have the pack or her pack of misfit paranormals helping her. Instead she has a lot of Indian-based lore legends who help out. 

I'll admit that I missed the normal characters in this book. I love all those characters that Mercy is normally surrounded by. They all have this great camaraderie in their interactions that build the fun in the story. That was missing in this book for me as I just didn't have that same attachments to her band of helpers in this book. I wanted Ben and Stefan and Jessi and Sam and... well, you get the idea. The book simply wasn't as good without them.  

The book does have more Adam and Mercy moments and I enjoyed that aspect of it. It's wonderful to see their relationship and trust grow past where either of them are truly comfortable. But they are comfortable in their love so they trust that when their instincts are screaming. I loved that Adam managed to hold back and simply watch while Mercy did her thing in this book. That's a true sign of love and I did enjoy that he has grown so much to trust her like that...even to the point of losing her. 

Overall, this wasn't my favorite book in the series, but it was still important to the overall story arc and it was still enjoyable. I understand that there are going to be these types of books for me in any series and I'm definitely okay with that. The plus to that is that I was actually able to listen to the entire book on audio rather than skipping to the book where I could read faster myself. And honestly that's its own special treat just because the narrator, Lorelei King, does such an incredible job on this series. Her range of voices and accents is truly impressive. NEVER do I get confused on who's talking and with literally hundreds of characters in the entire series, that's truly impressive. On to book #6.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Grif's Toy by Joseph Lance Tonlet

Title: Grif's Toy 
Author: Joseph Lance Tonlet
My Rating: A+

Genre: Erotic Romance (m/m)
Series: Tease and Denial #1
Main Characters: Grif, Tate, and Wes (is NOT a menage)
Release Date: November 2014
Links to Purchase
Sexual Intensity: erotic

Story Overview:
***Now available at Amazon, Smashwords, ARe.
For a full list of marketplaces, visit my website***

Grif believes he’ll live his life as a virgin. After all, who would want him? How could anyone find him, a guy who came with less than man-sized equipment, worthy of their love?

What he hadn’t counted on were the two amazing men who would change his life. After entering college, he meets Tate, his fun-loving roommate. While years later, with Tate now just a memory, Wes, a handsome, rugged ex-marine who runs his own security firm enters his life.

Both men lead Grif through a twisted mesh of pleasure, pain, and denial, as they force him to see his value, despite his size and insecurities.


My Review:
I bought this book after seeing rave reviews for it on a couple of different blogs. This is the author's debut novel so I've never read him before, but the premise was intriguing and I decided to give it a go.

I'll admit, when I began the book I wasn't sure. It's a HIGHLY sexual book (not that that's a bad, that works for me), but the way it started I just wasn't sure. Because Grif has a BDSM relationship with a humiliation kink I wasn't sure I was going to be able to really enjoy this one as much. But then the book went on and I absolutely fell in love with the story, Grif, and the men Grif has had in his life. But I'm getting ahead of myself. 

This book is written unlike any other book I've ever read before. Each chapter is a different moment in time in Grif's life. They are in there all out of order so as a reader, you slowly get to see how Grif got to this place in his life. It's brilliantly done...seriously, HUGE KUDOS to the author, Joseph Lance Tonlet, because this is one of the most creatively written, beautifully laid out books I think I've ever read. It was just so different in the way that the layers of the story unfolded. But it was never confusing and never was there a time when I wished that I could go back to a different section in time. That's a really difficult thing to achieve when utilizing a flashback-type style. 

Like the description says, this book is about Grif and his somewhat inadequate size. Since jr. high this has been an issue for him and as a gay man, it's even more so. But through his relationships with two men, Tate and Wes, he comes to accept himself and his kinky side that plays into all of it. 

My heart goes out to Grif, but wow...Tate and Wes. I loved them and yes, shed a few real tears over Tate too. But despite how it may sound, this is not a menage book. Tate and Wes both happen to Grif at different points in his life and they are both so incredible in their unyielding love for him. Neither man sees the issue that Grif sees in himself. They see him as the man that they love and that acceptance does amazing things for Grif. 

I cannot tell you just how beautiful the love was in this story. It starts out as one thing that as a reader seems purely sexual, but as the story unfolds you begin to see all the layers of emotion and love and devotion. I cannot express enough how incredibly well the author layers the story. Each chapter is like a little gift to see deeper into how these men enriched Grif's so many different ways. 

I adored this book and cannot recommend it highly enough. As a romance reader this is everything I want in a love story. The incredible emotions and yes, there is plenty of hot, hot sexy moments too. Whoa, earns every bit of its erotic heat rating. So good. I cannot wait for book #2, Wes's Denial.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Darker Water by Lauren Stewart

Title: Darker Water
Author: Lauren Stewart
My Rating: A++

Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Once and Forever #1
Main Characters: Laney and Carson
Release Date: October 2014
Publisher: Off the Hook Publishing
Links to Purchase:
Sexual Intensity: hot

Story Overview:
After another painful breakup, Laney Temple finally understands that love is a fairytale and sex rarely comes with a happy ending. She's too busy for it right now anyway--she has a business to run, art to create, and candy to crush. Eventually she'll be ready to switch from her plastic-or-silicon lover to a flesh-and-blood one. But before that happens, she needs to be sure she won't feel any of those annoying emotions that make her heart do things it wasn't meant to do...

Like break

Carson Bennett is completely upfront about what he wants, and it has nothing to do with Laney's heart. Her lips? Hell yeah. Other parts of her body? You better f*cking believe it. But her heart? Nope, not even a little. Until it does...a lot. But having feelings for someone isn't allowed. It's the kind of thing you're supposed to push down deep and cover up with one-night stands, sarcasm, and booze...

Like secrets

Two people want the same thing--a commitment to nothing more than great sex in a bunch of different positions. Simple. Enjoyable. A win-win. Problem is, those two people have families and fears and pain that spill into every moment of their lives, control what they do and who they are. And if either Carson or Laney can't free themselves from the past, they'll both be pulled under by it.

*** Darker Water is a stand-alone contemporary romance that does not end in a cliffhanger.

My Review:
I'll be honest. I discovered this author when I reviewed her Hyde series...and loved that series. When this book came out, it sounded somewhat intriguing and I liked her writing style, so I bought it even though I knew it would probably languish in my teetering TBR pile. Because this author writes urban fantasy. She does that really well, but I wasn't so sure she could translate her style into contemporary romance. Well, a few weeks later she sent me a review request for the book and I told her that I already owned it and when I got a hole in my tight review schedule, I'd slide it up. Well, unexpectedly a hole opened up this past weekend when I dnf'ed a book I should have loved. I don't know about you, but when I dnf a book it means I'm probably in a pickier mood than normal. Another strike before I even started this book that I probably wasn't going to enjoy it. 

Well, I am telling you right now that this book knocked all my expectations out of the water. 
This book absolutely WILL BE on my Top Ten list of my favorite reads of 2014. So, so good. If you get nothing else from this review, you need to know that you need to go buy this book right now. 

And there are two reasons for that...Carson and Laney. 

OMG, I don't think I've ever loved a couple more than I have these two. They are both so messed up, but they are so honest about that dysfunction that it makes their relationship work. And in an amazing way. Never have I read a book that had more fun back and forth in the dialogue. Smart, witty, snappy...reading the dialogue between the two of them was incredible. I just kept smiling as they would toss snark and wit back and forth between the two of them. They just work so well together and that's way before we talk about the sexual chemistry...which, OMG! 

Carson...this is where this guy shines. He loves a woman's body and he does so much to free Laney from all those hang-ups that women develop. I could fall in love with him for that alone. He was incredible in how he handled her and freed her to simply be herself. No front. No bs.

And they did have a freedom between them. It's complete honesty. No walls. No fronts. No subterfuge. They went into this arrangement with their eyes wide-open. Emotion isn't allowed. Carson can't do emotional entanglements. And Laney ruins the princes. She has the opposite effect. Her princes turn into frogs after dating her for a certain amount of time. Neither of them trusts that they can have a successful relationship so they don't have one. They have a friendship with really hot, incredible sex. That's it. There's no future and they both know that. Until they don't...

I'm telling you. This book is so good. I devoured it, but at the same time, I didn't want it to end. Yes, it was one of those. There's emotion and angst and romance and a relationship so pure, it almost hurts in its honesty. But it was also fun and snarky and sweet. This book had EVERYTHING and everything it had was written incredibly well. I loved it and HIGHLY recommend it!!!

Top Off Tuesday: The Last Cowboy in Texas by Katie Lane

I think pretty much every book from this series has been featured for my Top Off Tuesday post.
Katie Lane has an incredible cover designer.
I definitely approve and like to have her books in print just because of this...
releasing December 16, 2014

Story Overview:
No Sad Songs Here, Darlin'

Country music princess Starlet Brubaker has a sweet tooth for moon pies and cowboys: both are yummy-and you can never have just one. Now Beckett Cates may not be a cowboy, but he certainly has the heart, soul-and body-to whet her appetite. He's a sexy ex-Marine with a touch hotter than the scorching Texas sun and arms strong enough to catch her when she lands into trouble.

Playing bodyguard to America's sweetheart isn't easy for Beckett. But falling for her sure is. Unfortunately, Starlet has a reputation for keeping a guy or two wrapped around her finger and Beckett refuses to be anybody's backup. So now it's up to Starlet to prove that she's put her cowboy-crazy days behind her. Otherwise, she'll be singing solo instead of living in harmony with the man who's loved her even before her fame and fortune.

It's so fun to see so many people get excited about this meme.
(But honestly, we're looking at gorgeous men and talking about can that be a bad thing?)
If you want to play along, we have a plethora of Top Off Tuesday buttons for you to choose from:
created by Deb at HEA Romances with Kick

created by Missie at The Unread Reader


created by Diana at Book of Secrets

Pick one...or all and post it to your blog post.

Then find you a gorgeous cover featuring a gorgeous male specimen and head on over to The Geeky Book Blogger and post your link. We can't wait to see what good books you've found!

Hosted by Geeky Book Blogger's Book BlogOn a Book Bender, & Smitten with Reading (me!)