Monday, October 31, 2016

Outside the Lines by A.R. Barley

Title: Outside the Lines
Author: A.R. Barley
My Rating: A-

Genre: Contemporary Romance (m/m)
Series: Boundaries #3
Main Characters: Mitch and Chi Chi
Release Date: November 2016
Publisher:  Carina
Links to Purchase:
Sexual Intensity: hot

Story Overview:
Falling for the drag queen next door 

Mitch Dalton can't stop fantasizing about his sexy and confident drag queen neighbor. He wants to make a move, but he's had a lot less experience with men and isn't sure Chi-Chi would be interested in a guy who's never gone all the way—let alone a widower and struggling single father. And when Mitch's child care falls through, he needs Chi-Chi's help more than he needs a boyfriend.

Chi-Chi Ramirez has his own struggles: getting his degree one class at a time, working too many jobs and performing at a nightclub to make his Broadway dreams come true. Mitch's offer of a nanny position is too good to pass up, even if seeing Mitch every day and not being able to touch him is torture. But when even a simple handshake feels like pure sex, soon touching is all either of them can think about.


A one-night stand, a quick fling—that's all Chi-Chi can give if he's going to leave town for New York City. But once they finally get a taste of each other, what if Mitch wants more?
My Review:
I've really enjoyed this whole series and this was a great addition to it. We met Chi Chi in the last book, so when I saw this book featured him, I had to grab it. 

Chi Chi is a go-getter. When the book begins, he's working 4 jobs...one of them as a drag queen. He dreams of someday making it to NYC and Broadway...and is willing to work to get there. He's had a hard life. He had an abusive father and is from the wrong community. As a smaller, more delicate and feminine guy drawn to pink, and glitter, and lace, that didn't work out too well for him. But now he's in a pretty good place...even managing to go to one college class. 

Mitch is not in a good place. His wife left him as a single father to two young kids when she suddenly died two years ago. His life is a mess and he's not managing any of it well. Things are slipping through the cracks like the fact his nanny is totally unreliable. It's because of that Chi Chi ends up taking care of the kids one afternoon. In that single afternoon, Mitch got a glimpse of what his life could be like, so he hires Chi Chi.

The complication is that the two men are drawn to one another. There's huge chemistry, but Mitch is all about putting his family's needs in front of his dick...no matter that he hasn't dated anyone since his wife died and he's extremely lonely. 

Like I said, I completely enjoyed the book. It's a little bit on the shorter side so I was able to read it in one afternoon, in one sitting. Which was good because once I started it, I didn't want to put it down. Both men have issues. Chi Chi lives with the idea that no one will ever want him forever because he's different than most. His self esteem has taken a battering over the years. Mitch is torn. While he's bisexual, he doesn't have a lot of experience with men. And what if this doesn't work out? His kids need Chi Chi.

Then there were the kids. They were really well written. I loved both of those kids, and how completely accepting they were of this unknown situation. Jack is eleven...he's old enough to pick up on the clues of what is happening between Mitch and Chi Chi and I loved how forthright he was about his questions...and then his actions later...man, that kid was awesome!

Like I said, it was a good one. I enjoyed it...a lot.
I received a complimentary copy of this book in return for an honest review.


Hotline by Quinn Anderson

Title: Hotline
Author: Quinn Anderson
My Rating: B

Genre: Contemporary Romance (m/m)
Series: -
Main Characters: Zack and John
Release Date: October 2016
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Links to Purchase:
Sexual Intensity: hot

Story Overview:
Zack never intended to become a phone sex operator, but with half a college degree and a smart mouth, his options were limited. It helps that he has a knack for thinking on his feet and a willingness to roll with whatever his clients throw at him. Sure, he gets his fair share of creeps and unconventional requests, but it pays the bills, and he’s in no danger of breaking his one rule: never fall for a client.

Until a man named “John” starts calling, and Zack finds himself interested in more than a paycheck. It’s not just that John has money, or that his rumbling baritone drives Zack wild. He’s everything Zack isn’t: educated, poised, and in total control of his life.

A twist of fate brings them face-to-face, and now that they’ve seen each other—and spent an unforgettable night together—they can’t go back to the way things were. A sex worker and a trust fund brat . . . It’s like Romeo and Juliet, but with less stabbing and slightly fewer dick jokes. Hopefully they can pull off a more successful ending.

My Review:
The premise of this story was interesting. Zack is a phone sex operator. He's not a great one, but he's good enough to get by. That all changes when John starts calling. John is what they call a "whale"...he calls regularly and spends a lot of money. But the reason for that was that Zack and John really connected...to the point that Zack is just as turned on by their phone calls as John is. That made for some really sexy reading.

I liked how the guys met in real life. That was the best aspect of this story for me. They have such a connection and to just run into one another was the biggest stroke of fate and I liked it. I found it completely believable that John would recognize Zack's voice even in a club.

There was a certain action on John's part toward the end. While I understood the reasoning, from both the character's viewpoint and the author's need for conflict, it made it harder to believe in their happily ever after. But looking at it as a happy for now worked.  

Note: my one big complaint about this book was it had an undercurrent that made it feel a little dated. I wouldn't be surprised if the author said she wrote it 15-20 years ago. Between the smoking and the phone sex operators (is that still a thing??), it just felt like this was a book that should have been backdated. It didn't feel real for 2016...but maybe that was just my impression of the story.

While not completely 100% positive, I did enjoy reading the book. I would read this author again. 

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

Saturday, October 29, 2016

New Release...Sunshine and Rain by Mo Mabie


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Sunshine and Rain by M. Mabie

Standalone small-town romance, City Limits #2 Release Date: October 28

Blurb:

Welcome to Wynne, population 3402.
No rockstars. No major politicians. No media moguls.
Things don’t change quickly in a small town, except when they do. It’s been pouring rain all summer long, and the disc jockey and local farmer are all of the sudden attached at the hip. It’s not only the rising river getting deeper and deeper.
This is your basic water tower painting, tractor driving, tailgate cooler packing kind a guy chases the single, blonde, radio vixen with mosquito bite rage from his youth type of romance. Or is it the other way around?
Low on drama. High on Love.
Grab an umbrella because it’s a long wet summer.
Add to your TBR on Goodreads http://bit.ly/SandRGR

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Book One in the City Limits Series: ROOTS AND WINGS is currently ON SALE for 99¢ or FREE with a KindleUnlimited Subscription!




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Hold Me by Courtney Milan


Title: Hold Me  
Author: Courtney Milan
My Rating: B-

Genre: Contemporary Romance 
Series: Cyclone #2
Main Characters: Maria and Jay
Release Date: October 2016
Publisher: 
Links to Purchase:
Sexual Intensity: hot


Story Overview:
Eighteen months ago, Maria Lopez felt an unexpected spark with Jay, a hot, tattooed, motorcycle-riding bad boy who checked off every item on her fantasy list. But “too good to be true” never ends well. So when he asked for her number, she walked away.

When she runs into him again, she discovers that Jay is a different kind of trouble than she’s imagined. He’s a demanding, driven genius, and once he’s set his sights on something, he does not give up. Now that their paths have crossed once more, he’s not going to let her get away until he knows exactly what’s on her fantasy list…and he figures out how to make her embrace it.
My Review:

This is a difficult book for me to rate because flat-out this was not the book for me. Both the characters in this book are extremely intellectual people. He's a scientist. She's a math whiz. And when you put the two of them together, their conversations are extremely cerebral. They flirt using math and physics. I am not a math or science girl...so I'll be honest... A LOT of their banter went completely over my head. And that was so annoying, because I liked their story. The setup was cute and brilliant. Their connection was gorgeous in its purity...even when they didn't trust it. In those moments, I loved this book because it was good. But unfortunately those moments only made up about 20% of the book. The rest of the time, I considered DNF'ing it. :(

And I loved the fact that this is a story that you don't find very often. These characters are rarities in romance...minorities in ethnicity and sexuality...gah, I really, really wanted to love everything about their story. 

But like I said...this just wasn't the book for me. Unfortunately, no matter how much I'd like to be cerebral, that is not my gift in life. 

But there are beautiful moments in the story that I absolutely did connect to. The emotion behind the two of them after they find out the truth...LOVED IT...so, so much. That hurt and turmoil played so brilliantly on the page. Courtney Milan nailed their emotional angst and wonderfully drove that home for the reader. 

I loved how feminine Maria is and how staunchly she defends her ability to be both gorgeous, put together, and darn smart. I hated how much she was completely and totally misjudged. Jay had a fantastic character arc and development over the course of the book in that regard. 

So, this was a mixed bag. Although a lot of the banter went over my head with the terminology, in the end I was still able to enjoy the romance. This honestly could have been an A+ read for me, but it would have had to have been dumbed down and that would suck for the honesty about who the characters were. So this is one of those books...it's not you, it's me. Maybe it's time to go back to college and brush up on my math and science knowledge...

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

Friday, October 28, 2016

So Into You by S.E. Harmon (audiobook)

Title:  So Into You
Author: S.E. Harmon 
My Rating: A+
Narrator: Michael Stellman

Genre: Contemporary Romance (m/m) 
Series: The P.I. Guys #2
Main Characters: Noah and Drew
Release Date: August 2016 (audiobook)
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press 
Links to Purchase

Sexual Intensity: hot


Story Overview:
Screenwriter Noah Ashley has a few four-letter words for his agent when she suggests he improve his script by shadowing a PI. Still, because he's an artist dedicated to his craft and she knows where the bodies are buried, he agrees. Then he spends a little time with the gorgeous PI, and suddenly it seems like a really good plan. The PI doesn't seem to entirely love the idea, but Noah has never been afraid to go after what he wants.
PI Drew Rodriguez is used to people depending on him. He's the classic rock for his family. Responsible. Dependable. The classic rock would never succumb to the borderline sleazy temptation of friends with benefits, no matter how sexy that temptation is. Drew is looking for something enduring.
Despite Drew's misgivings, it's not long before they've got all the requisites for friends with benefits going. Friendly, good conversation? Check. Fun times in and out of bed? Check. Hot, electrolyte-sapping sex? Double check. Falling in love? Yeah. About that....
©2016 S.E. Harmon (P)2016 Dreamspinner Press
My Review:
Overall: 4.75
Performance: 4.25
Story: 5.0

Why oh why have I let this book languish in my TBR when it was so good? I just had no idea just how good it was going to be. Such a gift sitting and waiting for me to read at just the right time. 

OMG, just like the first book in this series, I ADORED this book. It was so good, so snarky, so much just pure fun to read and enjoy. Honestly, read that story description...it has this book nailed. It was so good. 

What isn't mentioned in that description is that Noah's agent is also his ex-wife. I loved their relationship so much. They're friends...in fact, Noah has stayed friends with almost all his ex's, except his most recent one that nobody else liked anyway. But he's a casual guy, more about right now than long-term, and his hookups respect that about him. He also lives his life in Hollywood. That world kind of prevents anything lasting to have a chance...to last. 

Drew is the opposite. He's all about commitment. He just hasn't found the right guy for that. His life is a bit chaotic. He's former military who now works as a PI. He has a younger brother that he's basically raised because dad was in prison...and suddenly both those guys are back in Drew's life throughout this book. (Drew is used to be a loner...having his not necessarily welcome family living with him is throwing a wrench in everything about his life.) He's the solid guy that everyone counts on for stability. He doesn't deal with change or chaos well. Ever since Noah showed up, he's had nothing but all that, and Drew doesn't have any patience for that, so he shuts Noah down at every turn. 

I loved the conflict between them at the beginning of the book. It built up some fantastic sexual chemistry between them. I listened to this one on audio and loved every single minute of listening to it. But I just ordered it in print, because this is a new favorite that belongs on my keeper shelf. LOVED IT and HIGHLY recommend it. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The Billionaire Next Door by Jessica Lemmon

Title: The Billionaire Next Door
Author: Jessica Lemmon
My Rating: A

Genre: Contemporary Romance 
Series: Billionaire Bad Boys #2
Main Characters: Tag and Rachel
Release Date: October 2016
Publisher: Forever
Links to Purchase:

Sexual Intensity: hot


Story Overview:
It's Tag Crane's job to be the life of the party. Traveling from one exotic locale to another is just part of running the luxurious Crane Hotel empire. But even paradise isn't perfect. Devising a new business strategy is keeping Tag up at night-and so is the Great Dane barking at all hours in the apartment below his. To muzzle the problem, Tag charges downstairs . . . right into the most beautiful, blond distraction he's ever seen.


Dog-sitting by day, bartending by night. It's not exactly the life Rachel Foster dreamed of. But when Tag Crane rushes in, all mountain-man shoulders and obscenely sexy smile, needing her help for the Crane Hotels, it's a fantasy come true. What's the harm in a fun no-strings fling? Only a fool would give her heart to a billionaire player like Tag-until suddenly the one man who can't be caught is the one flirting with forever . . .

My Review:
In the intro to this book, Jessica Lemmon mentioned that Brock O'Hurn was the inspiration for Tag. Best. Gift. Ever. I loved reading this book with him as my visual for Tag. 

Tag is a laidback guy despite the fact he's a billionaire in charge of all the Crane hotel restaurants and bars. He's the guy who looks more like a beach bum than a business executive. So, when Rachel meets him, she knows he's rich (he lives in the penthouse of her building) but she doesn't think too much about it. He's just a nice, normal...albeit gorgeous...guy who's easy to be around. 

For Rachel, her glamorous life in Chicago hasn't quite lived up to expectations. As a result, she finds herself dog and apartment sitting for one of her customers from her bartending job. Not exactly the marketing position she planned for...but her ex-boyfriend stole that dream along with her trust and self confidence. 

This was one of those books that was simply fun to read. It's like a Cinderella story...Rachel gets swept up by the prince and he takes her away from all the drudgery of her life. It was a great story, punctuated by the Crane brothers. Gah...I love them...and Eli. Wow, I cannot wait for his book. I also found myself completely enamored by Tag's friend, Lucas and his wife. 

This is a series built on fantastic characters and gorgeous locations...hello, upscale hotels...that just makes the books so much fun to read. I liked Tag and Rachel. His goal to get her to relax and to prove to her just how wrong her ex was made for some super-sexy and romantic times. I really did enjoy the book so much. And like I said before...I can't wait for the third in the series!

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

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Only You by Denise Grover Swank




Title: Only You
Author: Denise Grover Swank
On Sale: October 25, 2016
Series: The Bachelor Brotherhood, #1
Publisher: Forever
Mass Market: $6.99 USD
eBook: $3.99 USD

**NOW AVAILABLE IN PRINT**

The first book in a spin-off from Denise Grover Swank's New York Times bestselling Wedding Pact series (The Wedding Pact, The Player, The Gambler, The Valentine)

“Warm and funny, the first book in the Bachelor Brotherhood series reads like a great Hollywood rom-com.” –iBooks Best Books of June

Never say never…Romance isn't an option for Holly Greenwood. With her wedding planner career on the line she needs to stay focused, and that means pleasing her demanding boss, not getting distracted by her mind-alteringly hot neighbor…

Ex-Marine Kevin Vandemeer craves normalcy. Instead, he has a broken-down old house in need of a match and some gasoline, a meddling family, and the uncanny ability to attract the world's craziest women. At least that last one he can fix: he and his buddies have made a pact to swear off women, and this includes his sweetly sexy new neighbor.

After one hot night that looks a whole lot like a disaster in the light of day, Kevin and Holly are about to learn that true love doesn't play by the rules…


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Kevin wasn’t sure why he was surprised Holly was here. She was a wedding planner, and from what he’d seen so far, she was a damn good one.
He’d been on his way out of the room, needing a breather from the noise and the chaos of the reception when he’d seen her at the table. He hadn’t planned on asking her to dance—hell, he hated to dance—but he’d been desperate for a reason to talk to her.
When he sat back down at the table, Tyler wore a smirk. “Crashed and burned, huh? I thought you were going to the bathroom to take a piss.”
“I was. I just happened to run into a friend.”
“Run into a friend, my ass. I thought we’d sworn off women. I’ve held up my end of the bachelor brotherhood. And let me add that I had no idea my balls could turn this blue.”
“She’s a friend,” Kevin said, trying not to sound irritated and feed any more fuel to the fire.
“She’s his neighbor,” Matt said, taking a sip of his beer, and giving Kevin a pointed look. “They’re friends.”
Tyler burst out laughing. “You got friend-zoned?”
“No,” Kevin said slowly, picking up his drink, surprised Matt hadn’t told Tyler about the situation he’d stumbled upon. “I was the one who said I wanted to be friends.”
“Why?” Tyler asked, watching Holly with a little more interest than Kevin liked. “She’s hot. Do you know if she’s seeing anyone?”
“No.” Kevin’s irritation grew.
Tyler stood and adjusted his tie, a smirk lighting up his eyes. “Screw the brotherhood. I think I’ll go over and introduce myself.”
Kevin was up in a flash. “I don’t think so.”
“Why not?” he looked surprised. “She looks like she’d be worth a short break from my hiatus from women.”
Kevin stepped in front of his path, his jaw set. “Because you’re a prick who will use her and toss her aside and she deserves a helluva lot better than that.”
Matt was up in an instant, grabbing Kevin’s arm. “Why don’t we get some air?”
“You like her,” Tyler said, slack jawed.
“Of course he likes her,” Matt said. “For someone so smart, sometimes you’re an idiot.”
“In my defense,” Tyler said. “He said they were friends.”
“Okay,” Matt said slowly. “When was the last time you convinced a woman to be just a friend?”
“Never.”
“I rest my case, counselor.”
Tyler sat back down, and Matt tugged on Kevin’s sleeve to get him to join them.
 “I can’t believe you didn’t last even a single week,” Tyler said.
“He didn’t last a single day,” Matt told him. “He slept with her the night after our agreement to remain single.”
Tyler burst out laughing. “For a tough-ass former Marine, I expected you to be the last holdout, man. At least a week or two.”





ABOUT THE AUTHOR

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Denise Grover Swank was born in Kansas City, Missouri and lived in the area until she was nineteen. Then she became a nomadic gypsy, living in five cities, four states and ten houses over the course of ten years before she moved back to her roots. She speaks English and smattering of Spanish and Chinese, which she learned through an intensive Nick Jr. immersion period. Her hobbies include witty (in her own mind) Facebook comments and dancing in her kitchen with her children. (Quite badly if you believe her offspring.) Hidden talents include the gift of justification and the ability to drink massive amounts of caffeine and still fall asleep within two minutes. Her lack of the sense of smell allows her to perform many unspeakable tasks. She has six children and hasn't lost her sanity. Or so she leads you to believe.



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Repost of my A rated Review:

Although I have several of Denise Grover Swank's books in my TBR pile, this is the first book I've gotten to read by her. Wow...I really liked it. She has a great, easy-to-read style that I found difficult to put down. From the very beginning this story sucked me in and didn't let go until the final page.

This story is about Holly. She's a wedding planner working for a very demanding boss, Nicole. She lives with her cousin in a little bungalow that used to belong to their grandmother...who is begin to suffer from dementia and is in a nursing home that Holly pays for with her salary as a wedding planner. Right now she's willing to put up with Nicole's demands because of her grandmother, but Holly is also working to build her reputation so that someday she'll be able to strike out on her own with her own wedding planning business. 

Kevin just left the Marines and came home to work for his buddy and flip a project house. He tasked his sister to find the house for him. She found the next one to where Holly lives and that's how the two meet. They have instant chemistry, but that worked for me in this book.

In fact, pretty much everything worked for me in this book. First of all, I need to mention Whiskers. Can there be anything sexier than a man holding a kitten? The visuals of Kevin like this made my mouth water. Also, I loved what Nicole added to the story for both Kevin and Holly's situation. It was the perfect source of conflict without being contrived. I really liked that Kevin is planning to flip his house, but he really needed to know SOMETHING about construction for this plan to be viable...seriously. I liked the bromance between the three men and look forward to more from the series. And I adored the whole wedding planner backdrop. It provided great, romantic visuals that really worked for me as the reader. 

Overall, this was a fantastic book. I'm excited to read more, especially from the glances we got of the other two men throughout this story. I liked it and definitely recommend it for anyone that likes smart, witty, fast-paced contemporary romance.

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