Thursday, June 30, 2016

Promo Post: Into the Nothing by BT Urruela

Title: Into the Nothing
Series: Broken Outlaw #1
Author: BT Urruela
Release Date: June 21, 2016
Xander Evans has been on the road for many years. Never settling. Always moving from one place to another, unable to let go of his past. He lived a tragic childhood, spending most of those years in foster care. He's never felt like he's had a home. That is until he stops in the small town of Truman Valley, Missouri, where he meets a woman who will change everything he's ever known.
Paige Watson has it all. A loving family, beautiful home, and a great career. The only thing she's love. After escaping an abusive relationship, she opens her heart up to a stranger. He is unlike any man she's ever met. He came into her life and turned it completely upside down. Everything is perfect. That is, until one fateful night. 
A night that would tear the Watson family apart, never to be put back together again. 
A night that would send Xander away to prison for life.

"How about twenty questions?" I ask.
"I hate twenty questions."
"How about five questions, then?"
He cracks a smile and lifts an eyebrow. "How about three?"
"So, have I mentioned how much I fucking hate Tuesdays?" Brandi's voice cuts right between us. Xander looks relieved.
Me? Not so much. "Damn it, Brandi!"
"Oh nothing. Can you grab me Fireball though? Pretty please. Two of them." I look at Xander. "You're taking one."
"Three. I am too, bitch! Fuck Tuesdays!" Brandi calls out from across the bar as she begins filling the shot glasses from the Fireball chiller.
"Question one. You said you’ve been traveling for a while now, right? Do you ever get tired of it? Ever feel like settling?”
"Damn. Starting out with the heavy hitters, huh?" He eyes the shot glasses as if hoping it will somehow make them fill faster.
"Need me to go easier on you? Maybe a finger or two first before I go in with the whole fist?"
He looks at me in disbelief. "Did you really just say that?"
"Just answer the question, two fingers or three?"

BT Urruela was an infantryman in the US Army from August 2004 until February 2011. At the end of a year long tour to Baghdad, Iraq, his vehicle was hit by two roadside bombs, which took his right leg below the knee and the life of his commander. He was awarded a Purple Heart for his wounds, an Army Commendation Medal, and Combat Infantryman's Badge. He medically retired from the Army in 2011 and moved to Tampa, FL where he currently works as a Director and Brand Ambassador for VETSports, a veteran community sports nonprofit he co-founded in 2012. He also conducts motivational speeches, works as a cover and fitness model and he's a personal performance trainer. He co-wrote the military romance novel A Lover's Lament and will be releasing his debut solo novel, Into the Nothing, on June 21st, 2016.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

The Billionaire Bachelor by Jessica Lemmon

Title: The Billionaire Bachelor
Author: Jessica Lemmon
My Rating: A

Genre: Contemporary Romance 
Series: Billionaire Bad Boys #1
Main Characters: Merina and Reese
Release Date: June 2016
Publisher: Forever
Links to Purchase:
Sexual Intensity: hot

Story Overview:
Indecent Proposal

Manwhore. That's what the board of directors-and the tabloids-thinks of billionaire bachelor Reese Crane. Ordinarily he couldn't care less, but his playboy past is preventing the board from naming him CEO of Crane Hotels. Nothing-and no one-will keep him from his life's legacy. They want a settled man to lead the company? Then that's exactly what he'll give them.

Merina Van Heusen will do anything to get her parents' funky boutique hotel back-even marry cold-as-ice-but-sexy-as-hell Reese Crane. It's a simple business contract-six months of marriage, absolute secrecy, and the Van Heusen is all hers again. But when sparks fly between them, their passion quickly moves from the boardroom to the bedroom. And soon Merina is living her worst nightmare: falling in love with her husband . . . 
My Review:
This is a brand new series set around the hotel world and I really, really liked it. 

Merina's family own a historic hotel that she adores and manages, but unbeknownst to her, her parents have hit a financial speedbump and have gone to the Cranes to bail them out. And Reese Crane wants to change everything that she loves about the boutique hotel.

Reese is on the verge of taking over as CEO for Crane Hotels. He just has to make sure the board approves him when his dad retires...something that should be a slam dunk because he's spent his life training for the job. But the board doesn't approve of his philandering ways. 

His solution solves both their problems. If Merina, who's cool, professional, and elegant, will become his wife for 6 months giving him time to convince the board he's stable, then he'll deed her over her families hotel in the divorce. 

Of course, it's no secret where this goes, but it was an amazing read getting there. 

The colorful characters made this book. I love all the Crane males. Reese is stoic and controlled. Tag is the life of the party. And then Alex, their dad, obviously loves them both a great deal. This is a powerful, rich family, but they stand beside one another and fully support one another. I loved the bonds between them. There is also a third brother (Eli, I think is his name) who's a Marine, but he never made an appearance in the actual book. They've all been through a lot. The story of Reese's mothers death broke my heart and that was before we got to the reason that Reese is so closed off....this guy NEEDS Merina in his life. He just needs to realize that. 

Then there is Merina. I love how tough she is. She's not afraid to stand up for what she wants, even if it's humiliating. I loved that she spoke her mind, even when her heart was breaking. 

This book is so, so good. I loved it and am so excited for the rest of the series to come. 

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

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Body Rocks by A.M Arthur

Title: Body Rocks
Author: A.M. Arthur
My Rating: A-

Genre: Contemporary Romance (m/m)
Series: Off Beat #1
Main Characters: Trey and Dom
Release Date: June 2016
Publisher: Swerve
Links to Purchase:
Sexual Intensity: hot

Story Overview:
Everything is finally falling into place for Trey Cooper: his band has been accepted into one of the biggest music competitions in the country…too bad their drummer just quit to play with XYZ, their biggest rival. When Trey has a mind-blowingly hot hookup with a mysterious violinist, Trey definitely plans to see him again – just not on stage as a member XYZ.

Dominic Bounds’ time to make his musical dreams come true is running out. If something doesn’t happen fast, he has to head home to find a real job. This competition is his last chance, and Dom needs to come out on top – but he never expected to fall for his rival. As Dom and Trey risk everything to begin a secret affair, there’s no denying their chemistry is off the charts – but could their band rivalry turn their romance into a one-hit wonder?

My Review:
There was so much I really, really loved about this book. This story is about two musicians who are right on the cusp of maybe making this music thing work. They are both members of bands. 

Dom lives in Philadelphia and is in a band with his best friend. The entire band is made up of gay men. Dom is also a violin aficionado, but he never plays in public anymore. He meets Trey when the band is at the Delaware shore for a gig. Dom is taking advantage of a rare night off where no one knows him, so he goes to an open mike event to play the violin...something that's a huge step for him to do. Through a twist of fate, he ends up playing with Trey who's there working the bar that night, and they quickly discover they have amazing chemistry...both with their music and everything else. 

Trey's only family is his band. His band is everything. Unfortunately part of what makes their fanbase love them is the chemistry between him and his best friend, who just happens to be female. Everyone just assumes they're he's very much in the closet. But when he meets Dom, he's willing to risk that. 

There's already bad blood between the two bands, because Dom's band stole Trey's band's drummer...something neither one of them realized until after they hooked up. Then to make matters worse, they find out that they are competing against one another in a contest that could make/break their musical careers. 

Trey and Dom have huge odds against them already. Their bands hate one another, they live 2 1/2 hours from one another (and Trey is terrified of traveling by car...there's a story there that is a great sub-plot), Trey is in the closet and Dom is fully out. Plus they're just trying to feel out a new relationship. They definitely have a rocky road, but it made for a great book. I loved this story so much.  

I highly recommend this story especially if you like music based tropes. The musicality established an amazing setting for this book that I truly loved. I cannot wait to see where the series goes from here. 

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

Defending Hayden by L.P. Dover

Title: Defending Hayden
Author: L.P. Dover
My Rating: B+

Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Second Chances #7
Main Characters: Hayden and Derek
Release Date: June 2016
Publisher: Loveswept
Links to Purchase:
Sexual Intensity: spicy

Story Overview:
The Carolina Cougars keep fighting for love as the Second Chances series from bestselling author L. P. Dover continues! In Defending Hayden, a damaged football star teams up with the only woman who can take the pain away.
No one’s tougher than Carolina Cougars linebacker Derek McLaughlin. But when a fatal car accident claims the life of his girlfriend, Derek finds himself caught in a destructive spiral of drugs, alcohol, and meaningless sex. But not even a string of one-night stands can ease the hurt. Football is all he has left. Then fate leads him back to the scene of the crash, and into the arms of a kind, gorgeous woman who sees past his fa├žade to the man he once was . . . and can be again.
When a chance roadside encounter brings Derek into her life, veterinarian Hayden Hunter isn’t fooled by his bad attitude: All bark and no bite, he’s hiding a wounded heart beneath that gruff demeanor. And Hayden wants to be the one to kiss it all better. Soon they both find that a dose of passion is potent medicine. But when a hidden enemy lashes out at Hayden, Derek steps up to do what he does best: put his body on the line in the name of love.

My Review:
I'm really liking this series. We met Derek in the last book and mourned with him when his pregnant girlfriend tragically died. In this book he's just coming back to North Carolina and rejoining the team after months of mourning. He's trying to gather up the crumbs of his life.

Hayden is also starting off fresh in this book. She's a vet and is working at a vet clinic and has only been there a few months, but she loves it and life in this small town. The two run into one another...literally...and there's some chemistry. Then that increases even more in their next meeting. 

There's a lot happening in this book. While Hayden and Derek are slowly adjusting to the idea that there might be something between them, although it's not convenient, there's many, many things happening in the background. There's the whole Carolina Cougars football storyline. I can't wait to see how the story with their kicker develops. Then there's Hayden's gay best friend who is also a vet. I loved how he also developed a love interest in this book. There was a bit of a suspense line also, although it wasn't a real complicated one, it did add some great drama to the end that I enjoyed. 

And overall, the romance was good, too. I loved Hayden and Derek together. I liked how everything worked out for them. The author did an amazing job with an end that I thought was perfect. It was good and I definitely recommend it...and I can't wait for more from the series. 

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

Monday, June 27, 2016

Avenged by Marnee Blake

Title: Avenged 
Author: Marnee Blake
My Rating: B

Genre: Paranormal Romance
Series: Altered #2
Main Characters: Kitty and Nick
Release Date: June 2016
Publisher: Entangled
Links to Purchase:
Sexual Intensity: spicy

Story Overview:
Three terrifying months.

That’s how long Kitty Laughton has been at the mercy of the scientist who experimented on her town, killing over a dozen people and giving the rest of them unique powers. But Kitty doesn’t feel powerful, especially when she learns the crazy man plans to test his research on more unsuspecting people. She refuses to let anyone else die, but trapped with no one to help her she’s out of options…that is until sexy and exasperating Nick Degrassi arrives.

Special-ops soldier Nick blames himself for Kitty’s capture, and he’ll do whatever he can to free the quiet beauty, but close quarters and a shared secret bring an attraction that neither of them expected. With the organization that started it all making mercenaries for hire, Nick and Kitty must save themselves and stop a madman…before it’s too late.

My Review:
I loved the first book in this series just for how creative the set-up for the entire world was. While this one picked up right where the first left off, it had a slightly different feel just because the group we got to know in the first novel is fractured. The main story though involves Nick trying to free Kitty from the jail/complex/medical facility where she's being held. 

In the first book, Kitty was a meek, mild little thing...overwhelmed by her new power to read minds. In this book she's been jailed and basically tortured for 3 months. She's so over any of those things that held her back before. If she gets an opportunity she's going to take it, no matter who she has to run over in the process. 

Her opportunity comes from Nick. He's had a crush on Kitty from the very start, but in the first book she was betrayed by his roommate, so she places him in the same cocky jerk mold as his roommate, although he's done nothing to earn that judgement. It takes a long time for Kitty to trust Nick and her own judgement throughout this story. She didn't see the betrayal coming in the last book and that's how she ended up imprisoned. 

For Nick, he feels so guilty about the fact that Kitty got taken and it has taken so long for them to get her freed. He sees her as such a strong character which she doesn't see at all. And that brings up an interesting point in this story...Kitty can hear Nick's thoughts and still doesn't trust his motivation for a long, long time...and I understand that her track record is to blame for this.

While I did still enjoy this novel and the setup for the story line, I had one major issue with all the confrontational scenes. Various men were running away with various things and people. Everyone has some modicum of power that they can wield on the others to stop their momentum. Over and over again, they would confront the bad guy and then people would get frozen. OMG, don't confront the bad guy...just shoot him in the head, then he can't freeze you. It was such an obvious solution, but I know...then there would be no climactic confrontations. But I felt like I was watching a bad movie and yelling at the screen..."Shoot him, now, before he or someone else freezes you!" 

But maybe that's just me. :D But even with that I did enjoy the book and can't wait for more in the series. Now they have to catch up with that other guy...there's always one who gets away.

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

Fierce and Fabulous by Elizabeth Varlet

Title: Fierce and Fabulous
Author: Elizabeth Varlet
My Rating: A

Genre: Contemporary Romance (m/m)
Series: Sassy Boyz #1
Main Characters: Fitch and Ansel
Release Date: June 2016
Publisher:  Carina
Links to Purchase
Sexual Intensity: hot

Story Overview:
The first book in a scorching new male/male series by Elizabeth Varlet. Behind the Sassy Boyz's seductive smiles and sinful dance moves are desires that will leave readers breathless.

Fitch Donovan never thought a lap dance could change his life, but from the moment the gorgeous dancer’s lips touch his, his world comes screeching to a halt. No matter how hard he tries, he can’t shake the desire that rocks him to his core. He’s longed for this passion all his life—he just never dreamed he’d find it with another man.

Sharing a soul-shaking kiss with a straight boy is the kind of drama Ansel Becke just doesn't need. Spotlights aren't made for two and Ansel prefers to keep things on a one-night-only basis. So when Fitch shows up asking for an encore, Ansel knows he should send his gorgeous ass packing.

Though Ansel tries to pretend that what's between him and Fitch is far from fabulous, there's something about the big, burly contractor that makes Ansel's world sparkle in a way no amount of glitter ever could. And Fitch will do whatever it takes to convince Ansel that when the thing you need most in the world falls right into your lap, you’d be a fool to let it go.
My Review:
Whoa...this book completely and totally blew me away with just how much I loved it. This is a new to me author and she's now on my auto-buy list. This book was simply fabulous.

This book features two great characters. It starts with Fitch. He's absolutely straight, but goes to a gay club with his lesbian sister for her 21st birthday. There he sees Ansel. Ansel is part of a 4 man dance group who all dance in heels and full makeup, but they are fully male while doing so. Inexplicably, he's extremely turned on during the performance and then even more so later when Ansel gives him a lap dance. Fitch is completely aroused and confused. He's not gay...not even a little bit. BUT Ansel is an individual in every possible way...including the reaction that Fitch has to him and only him. 

This is a book about true love and how the perfect person simply fits. That's Ansel with Fitch in this book. 

While Fitch is pretty much together, besides a bit of sexual confusion, Ansel is a hot mess. He drinks too much, parties too hard, and simply lives his life hoping to find numbness. He's had a hard life and throughout this book that comes to a head. While his story broke my heart, I love the family he's created for himself, although it takes him a while to truly the strength he gets from that. 

Seriously, I loved everything about this book. The Sassy Boyz were amazing. I loved the visuals the author created of them and of Ansel as such a unique individual. She managed to give him and them such amazingly feminine attributes while keeping them wholly masculine, too. I also loved how each of the guy's family story lines enhanced the overall story. I'm a huge fan of straight to gay stories, but this one was even better because this was truly a love is love romance. The love Fitch developed for Ansel had nothing to do with his was all about the person and chemistry.

I adored this book and highly recommend it. I cannot wait for more of the series and from this author. This was just a great read.

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

Saturday, June 25, 2016

The Hotter You Burn by Gena Showalter (audiobook)

Title: The Hotter You Burn
Author: Gena Showalter
My Rating: A+
Narrator: Savannah Richards

Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: The Original Heartbreakers #2
Main Characters: Beck and Harlow
Release Date: July 2015 (audiobook)
Publisher: Recorded Books
Links to Purchase:
Sexual Intensity: hot

Story Overview:
New York Times bestselling author Gena Showalter is back with a sizzling Original Heartbreakers story featuring a troubled playboy and the woman he can’t resist… 

Beck O'ckley is ruthless in the boardroom...and the bedroom. He's never been with the same woman twice, and vows he never will. With a past as twisted as his, meaningless sex keeps the demons at bay. His motto: One and done. No harm, no foul.

Harlow Glass is the most hated girl in town. The beautiful artist is penniless, jobless and homeless. When she sneaks into Beck's home—her ancestral estate—for food, she's shocked by his early return...and her immediate, sizzling and intense attraction to him.

For the first time in Beck's life, he can't get a woman out of his mind. All too soon, friendship blooms into obsession and he'll have to break her heart...or surrender his own

My Review:
Overall.... 4.75
Performance... 4.0

Story.... 5.0

*happy sigh* This book was all that I love when I go to read a contemporary romance. It had an angst-filled hero, a heroine that simply broke my heart, and a love story that made me swoon. Seriously I have so much love for this book (and yes, I cried a couple of times while reading it. A book that can touch me that much emotionally always earns high marks from me).

Beck is the man-slut of the trio of men who have moved to Strawberry Valley. Everyone in town knows it, especially Harlow since she's been camping out on the land where the three men of this series live so she's had front row seats to the loops of porn happening nightly in Beck's bedroom. Beck loves women and they love him for it. He never lies to them and he never invites them back for a second go. He's there just to have a good time. Period. Dot. He uses sex to feel good temporarily because he has some mental things going on that never make him feel good. He's more than a little broken (Hint for the series...all these men are more than a little broken, but that's what makes this series so good to read. They just need love.).

Harlow is the town outcast. In high school she learned that she could make herself feel a little bit better (after her father relentlessly tore her down and shattered her self-confidence) by bullying others. This town HATES her and none of them have ever forgotten that horrible girl she was. Harlow takes the hate. She knows that she deserves it and more. She was awful to them. If it helps the townspeople to tear her down now, then she will take it. She's trying so hard to be a better person, but the poor girl simply cannot catch a break. When the story begins she's stealing food from Beck's house. She's camped out on his property and starving to death because no one will give her a job. 

Beck has been fascinated by Harlow Glass from the moment he found a box of photos of her at the top of the closet. Looking at those photos he can see that something significant happened to her to change her over the years. He's curious and needs to know more. When he finds her, this is his chance. 

So many times during reading this book, my heart cracked a bit more. Both of these characters have been through so much. And the blows just kept on. But it's a book filled with hope because they both kept rising up stronger every time. And watching the two of them fall in love and learn to trust that love was gorgeous. Like I said at the beginning of my review, this book is a perfect example of why I love to read romance. It was just so good and made me smile through the tears by the end of it. All the feels were there and they were phenomenal. 

Note: (And I also pointed out in the first book which I also listened to on audio) Overall, I really enjoy this narrator, but she doesn't have much differences between her men's voices. It's okay though because of Gena Showalter's writing...she's always good about identifying who is speaking when the guys are all together.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Sweet Little Lies by Jill Shalvis

Title: Sweet Little Lies
Author: Jill Shalvis
My Rating: A-

Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Heartbreaker Bay #1
Main Characters: Pru and Finn
Release Date: June 2016
Publisher: Avon
Links to Purchase:
Sexual Intensity: hot

Story Overview:
Choose the one guy you can’t have . . .

As captain of a San Francisco Bay tour boat, Pru can handle rough seas—the hard part is life on dry land. Pru loves her new apartment and her neighbors; problem is, she’s in danger of stumbling into love with Mr. Right for Anybody But Her.

Fall for him—hard . . .

Pub owner Finn O’Riley is six-foot-plus of hard-working hottie who always makes time for his friends. When Pru becomes one of them, she discovers how amazing it feels to be on the receiving end of that deep green gaze. But when a freak accident involving darts (don’t ask) leads to shirtless first aid, things rush way past the friend zone. Fast.

And then tell him the truth.

Pru only wants Finn to be happy; it’s what she wishes for at the historic fountain that’s supposed to grant her heart’s desire. But wanting him for herself is a different story—because Pru’s been keeping a secret that could change everything. . . .

My Review:

Happy sigh...a new series from Jill Shalvis. I cannot tell you just how excited I am about this new series. I preordered way before the books were even released, but now that I've read book #1, I'm even more so. I love the setup for this series.

It takes place in San Francisco and centers around a group of friends who all work and live in the historic area of town. Pru is new to the area and the building. She's a ships captain who does day tours around the bay for Jake. While she's been doing the job for a while, she moved to this particular building for a get close to Finn and his younger brother Sean. She has ulterior motives. She's spent her entire adult life taking care of the people who were directly affected by the car accident that killed her parents...a car accident that was their fault because her father was drunk. Sean and Finn are the last people on her list that she still feel need her intervention, because they're the ones who lost just as much as her in that accident. She lost both her parents. They lost their one remaining parent, their father. 

Finn was 21, and Sean was 14 when their parents died. Finn has spent every moment since then trying to make sure Sean has a good life, something that he doesn't fully appreciate. Finn is married to the bar trying to make it a success for both of them. Sean plays. Finn has decided that life is okay this way. He doesn't have to worry about getting his heart broken. He's certainly not looking for love. 

The thing that made this story for me was the building with its historic charm and magical fountain and the group of friends who all work there. They are a varied group...and there's a lot of them, but they love one another and take care of each other, even if they do gossip like firemen (lol). I loved the legend of the fountain and the dumbwaiter in the building that proved to have some interesting plot points. Even the homeless guy has amazing charm and insight into this group of people who all interact here. There was a magical quality to the story just because of all those depths. And I LOVED that about it. 

I also really loved why Pru was here, and her history with, they have a complex friendship, but I liked that. The little glimpses of her life as a boat captain were interesting and I also loved the nights at the pub. It was simply a great book and I can pretty much guarantee that this series will have an honored place on my keeper shelf.

I received a complimentary copy of this book in return for an honest review, but I'd already ordered a print copy of it ages ago, because Jill Shalvis is an auto-read author for me.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

On the Brink by Kate Willoughby

Title: On the Brink
Author: Kate Willoughby
My Rating: B+

Genre: Contemporary Romance (m/m)
Series: in the Zone #0
Main Characters: Hart and Jeremy
Release Date: June 2016
Publisher: -
Links to Purchase
Sexual Intensity: spicy

Story Overview:
Due to popular demand, Kate Willoughby brings you Hart Griffin and Jeremy Fenton's origin story. Find out how these two met and fell in love... 

Holtzer University junior Hart Griffin won't let anything interfere with his future as a professional hockey player. No way, no how. He's the star forward of his college team and a first round NHL draft pick.

One hot night with a male super fan calls into question everything Hart thought he knew about his sexuality and launches him on a soul-searching journey in which nothing is as it seems and his entire world is turned upside down.
My Review:
This story was just pure, romantic fun. Jeremy is out and proud. Hart is not. In fact, even if he can face up to the fact that he *might* be gay, if he wants to have an NHL contract, he needs to stay in the closet. But after one sexy hook-up that can never happen again, these guys became friends, and I fell in love with both of them just a whole bunch more. 

I loved that they were friends...and just how well they get along with one another in every regard not just sexually. I love how brave Jeremy is in the face of homophobia that can and does get him hurt. This is s short novella. It's quick and easy to read. I'll be honest, I read so much, I don't really remember these characters from the In the Zone books, so that HFN ending was a bit hard. 

This is a story that takes place in 2003 when the guys are in college. The other books in the series take place now, so obviously they do have an HEA. I just can't remember the details of it and it makes me want to go back and reread the books they are side characters in.

For a short novella there is lots happening in the background...homophobia, equality education, hockey, roommate issues, apartment issues. Because there was so much, these things were just skimmed. This book could have easily been developed into a full-length novel just with what was already on the page...just expanded. But I did like it. It's a good read and on an evening when I couldn't handle anything deeper or longer, it was perfect. 

I enjoyed this little glimpse into Hart and Jeremy's before.

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