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review 2015-05-27 08:52
Ariel Tachna & Nessa L. Warin – Dance Off
Dance Off - Ariel Tachna,Nessa L. Warin

Reviewer: Barb

Genre: M/M Contemporary


What a wonderfully pleasant story! This book made me happy, putting me in a good mood and keeping me there throughout the story. Better than a trip to the spa, I found it enjoyable and relaxing and just plain fun to read.


Based loosely on the popular reality TV dance show, this story centers around the competitors in the show, “Dance Off”. Each star is dancing for a charity, getting one thousand dollars for each week they remain on the show, with the top two slots getting fifteen and twenty thousand dollars, respectively. The format of the story and the realistic characterization of the contestants had this reviewer rooting for favorite celebrities right along with the story’s viewing audience.


The authors did a wonderful job fleshing out all of the characters, both MCs and secondary. I hated Eugene, the uptight talk show host, but really enjoyed getting to know Kevan, the rap musician, Deborah, the former Olympic skater, Christine, a former Congresswoman, Freddie, the older and overweight jazz musician, and Amber, a former Miss America. We even got to know the various pro dancers who partnered with the stars, and had insider views of what goes on behind the scenes, both on the show and in their personal lives. The judges were so realistic that I was able to easily picture what they looked like, giving them the faces of other reality TV judges who have been popular in the past and I’m sure were the models in the authors’ imaginations. Most of all, of course, I loved Olivier, the closeted rugby player originally from France, and JC, aka Javier or Javi, a US Olympic gold medal swimmer and his very large and personable Hispanic family, most frequently represented by Mama and Abuela.


Olivier and JC are each athletic and mentally tough enough to be focused, yet each finds it difficult to retrain their muscles into the required dance moves for the show. The authors made their practice sessions and performances come alive with a realism that surprised me. I truly felt like I was there as they struggled to learn their routines. I was also there as they beat around the bush trying to determine if their interest in each other was reciprocated. JC was out and proud as a bisexual man, but Olivier was out only to his closest friends and family members, fearing repercussions from his teammates and/or other teams he’d be playing in the league so he preferred to tread lightly. When the two finally read the signals right and got together, they decided to keep it quiet, fearing that homophobic Eugene would not only cause trouble on the set, but might announce it on his national talk show.


As the season progresses, so do the issues, and when Eugene finally gets voted off, the men share their romance with their housemates. They are warmly accepted and assured of their privacy. As the weeks go forward and they survive elimination rounds each wants to win for his charity, but is very supportive of the other, and once they declare their love for each other they make tentative plans to try to stay together as a couple after the event ends.


It’s somewhat difficult to explain exactly what I most liked about this book. There was never any major angst or confrontations or shocking accusations or other drama. It was simply a beautifully told love story about two young men who join a dance competition to support charities that they felt very strongly about and end up finding the love of their life. Olivier was dancing for Doctors Without Borders and JC was dancing for The Trevor Project. Kudos to the authors for not only highlighting each of the twelve charities in the story, but also for including contact information for each charity at the end of the book.

On the negative side, I was a bit disappointed that some of the opportunities for conflict weren’t pursued. Olivier certainly had a lot at risk if he was outed before he was ready, but the authors didn’t pursue that approach. On the one hand, the story didn’t suffer for not having that kind of drama and tragedy, but on the other, it would have added some spice and been more exciting if there had been some conflict.


The authors certainly did their research for this one and, coupled with the way they made each character and dance scene come alive, I truly felt like I was watching the competition. I’d highly recommend this one to all lovers of M/M romance, especially to those who like an angst-free story. I can’t wait to read more from these two authors.

Source: heartsonfirereviews.com/review-ariel-tachna-nessa-l-warin-dance-off
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text 2014-11-26 16:02
Wine and Roses: Romances featuring Wineries
Syrah - Nessa L. Warin
Kissing Under the Mistletoe - Marina Adair
Baby, It's You - Jane Graves
One and Only - Bianca D'Arc
It Was Only a Kiss - Joss Wood
The Good Woman - Jane Porter
Wine, Tarts, & Sex (Berkley Sensation) - Susan Johnson
A Kiss of Cabernet (a Love in Wine Country novel) - Pamela Gibson
In Your Dreams (The Blue Heron Series) - Kristan Higgins
Once Tasted - Laura Moore

Thanksgiving is coming! Need some wine? 


Here you go! 


Wonderful Romances Featuring Wineries (and wine). Drink up! 


1. Syrah (All Corked Up, #1) by Nessa L. Warin 


All Shawn Neale is looking for when he stumbles into All Corked Up on Christmas Eve is some wine recommendations. What he finds is an instant attraction to Royce Wilkinson, the shop’s owner. After a few weeks of flirting during shopping and some semi-dates at Royce’s wine tastings, they decide on a real date. It goes well, but life isn’t that simple.

Shawn wants to buy Delicto, the local pub he manages. He’s been planning his life around this for years, but when the owner, who believes being gay is an illness, discovers Shawn went out with Royce, he gives Shawn an ultimatum: stop dating guys or he won’t get to buy Delicto. It’s a heartbreaking quandary: Can Royce and Shawn be happy with a secret relationship until Shawn buys Delicto or is Shawn going to have to choose between his dream job and his dream guy?


2. Baby, It's You by Jane Graves


With only the wedding dress on her back and her honeymoon luggage in the car, Kari Worthington is running away. Determined to put her controlling father, her rigidly structured life, and the uptight groom she left at the altar in her rearview mirror, she escapes to the Texas Hill country . . . and lands on a tall, dark, and gorgeous winery owner's doorstep. All she needs is a job and a place to live until she can get back on her feet. So why is she fantasizing about losing herself in his powerful arms?

For Marc Cordero, freedom is so close he can taste it. He's devoted his life to managing the family business and being a single dad. Now with his daughter away at college and his brother taking over the winery, Marc is ready to hop on his Harley for parts unknown-until a runaway bride bursts onto the scene. Free-spirited and tantalizingly sexy, Kari excites him like no other woman has before. But when irresistible passion turns into something more, will Marc give up his future to take a chance on love?


3. Kissing Under the Mistletoe by Marina Adair 


Regan Martin stopped believing in Christmas miracles six years ago when she lost everything—her house, her job, and her impeccable reputation in the wine industry—after she fell in love with a man she had no idea was married. Then Regan gets a chance for a fresh start in the Napa Valley. With her dream job, dream home, and her daughter enrolled in a wonderful new school, she starts wondering if holiday wishes really do come true.


But she soon tumbles back down to earth when she learns that her new boss is none other than Gabe DeLuca, the scorned wife’s brother. Gabe wants nothing more than home-wrecking Regan Martin out of his life, his sister’s world, and his family’s business. Mostly, he wants the lush beauty out of his head. Yet his attempts to run her out of town have him thinking twice, especially when he sees that Regan may hold the key to tracking down his sister’s stolen start-up capital. Even worse for Gabe, Regan might just be his Christmas wish and hold the key to his heart.


4. One and Only by Bianca D'Arc


ampire enforcer Atticus Maxwell stands at the edge of his own oblivion…until the faint heartbeat of a desperately wounded mortal woman calls him back. The terrible crash that almost took both their lives has brought him a charming, intriguing woman who just might give him a reason to live again.

Lissa was headed for a conference at a resort in a last-ditch attempt to find a job. Instead, on a rain-slick mountain road that almost killed her, she finds the love of her life. A love with the most eligible, reclusive vineyard owner in Napa Valley—one that isn’t quite human.

No barrier—not even breaking the news to Lissa’s friends—seems too great to hold back their blossoming love. Until they learn the accident that brought them together wasn’t an accident at all, but a murder attempt by an unknown enemy.

Atticus saved Lissa once. Can he keep her that way in the face of a renewed threat?


5. It was Only a Kiss by Joss Wood


For driven businessman Luke Savage success is the only option. So when gorgeous marketing intern Jess Sherwood waltzes into his office and casually informs him that his newly inherited vineyard has an image problem he's outraged! She's naive, overly ambitious, a know-it-all… And all Luke can do to stop her talking is kiss her senseless.

Eight years later the vineyard needs a boost—and Luke needs a hip new marketing strategy to save it. Jess may drive him crazy but she's the right woman for the job. Their only problem is how to keep their minds on work and off that kiss!


6. The Good Woman  by Jane Porter


The firstborn of a large Irish-American family, Meg Brennan Roberts is a successful publicist, faithful wife, and doting mother who prides herself on always making the right decisions. But years of being “the good woman” have taken a toll and though her winery career thrives, Meg feels burned out and empty, and more disconnected than ever from her increasingly distant husband. Lonely and disheartened, she attends the London Wine Fair with her boss, ruggedly handsome vintner, Chad Hallahan. It’s here, alone together in an exotic city, far from “real” life, that Chad confesses his long-standing desire for Meg.

Overwhelmed, flattered, and desperately confused, Meg returns home, only to suddenly question every choice she’s ever made, especially that of her marriage. For Meg, something’s got to give, and for once in her life she flees her responsibilities—but with consequences as reckless and irreversible as they are liberating. Now she must decide whether being the person everyone needs is worth losing the woman she was meant to be.


7. Wine, Tarts, & Sex by Susan Johnson


World-renowned chef Jake Chambers could have had any ing?nue he wanted in California since the kitchen isn't the only room in the house where the hard-bodied hunk has special talents. Still, when he realized there might be more to life than glitz and silicone, he left for Minneapolis to buy a local joint and try to clear his head.

But even though he's no longer serving the glitterati, that doesn't mean he's about to compromise quality and serve a Minnesota wine. However, local vintner Liv Bell-with curves even more delicious than his tapas-has other plans once she lays eyes on this Adonis. Determined to promote her vineyard's juicy bounty, this sun-kissed goddess might just bring Jake around to at least tasting what she has to offer.


8. A Kiss of Cabernet by Pamela Gibson


Napa Valley vineyard manager Paige Reynoso is furious. After a six-year absence, her boss—big-city entrepreneur Jake Madison—has returned, only to announce he’s selling the vineyard. Paige has always dreamed of buying Garnet Hill, which sits on land where her ancestors first settled, but without the cash, she’s out of luck. And then there’s an even bigger problem…she has a serious thing for the surprisingly tempting man who’s just destroyed her dream.

Jake’s in a tight spot. With his other business ventures struggling, he needs cash—fast. The last thing he needs is the too-lovely Paige convincing him the grapes are an effective long-term investment. Or needing Paige herself, whose spirit and heart bring his to life. But as their attraction grows, Jake knows he’s not in a position to offer her anything beyond this moment. Because Jake has a big secret…and it has nothing to do with sour grapes.



9. In Your Dreams by Kristan Higgins


Everyone loves Jack Holland, but Emmaline Neal needs him. Her ex-fiancé is getting married in Malibu and, obviously, she can't go to the wedding alone. In Manningsport, New York, tall, blond and gorgeous Jack Holland is practically a cottage industry when it comes to rescuing desperate women. He knows the drill, Em figures, so he won't get the wrong idea. 


What Jack needs is an excuse to leave town. Ever since rescuing four teenagers from a car wreck, he's been hailed as a hero and the attention is making him itchy, especially since his too-pretty ex-wife is back, angling for a reunion. He's always liked Emmaline. She needs a weekend date? No problem. 


So when they wind up in bed together, Em chalks it up to red wine and chocolate cake, just one impulsive night not to be repeated. But Jack's pushing for more, and if she lets down her guard, either she'll get her heart crushed again, or discover that Jack's worth more than just dreaming about.


10. Once Tasted by Laura Moore


Everything has come easily to Reid Knowles, the middle son of a California ranching family. But his charmed life is suddenly complicated when his good friend and neighbor asks him to help run the winery next door. His neighbor’s niece, Mia Bodell, is in charge—and she has made it clear that she’d rather be roped to a steer than to Reid Knowles. Never one to back down from a challenge, Reid vows to win her trust.
Her life marked by loss, Mia knows that nothing comes easily—love included. In high school, her heart was crushed by Reid, and even though years have passed, the hurt lingers. Mia is achingly aware that the teen heartthrob has matured into a devastatingly handsome playboy, and the budding winemaker refuses to let down her guard. But one taste of unbridled passion changes things. From Reid’s first intoxicating kiss to his unexpectedly tender seduction, Mia is swept into a passionate affair that could tear her heart to pieces . . . or give her everything she has ever wanted.


Did I miss your favorite? Let me know! 



To vote for the best, go to the Goodreads list: Wine and Roses: Romances featuring Wineries

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review 2013-10-02 18:48
Sauntering Vaguely Downward by Nessa L. Warin
Sauntering Vaguely Downward - Nessa L. Warin

Why can't I ever find a gay boyfriend when I go to cons? Hmmpf.

Only problem I had with this was where Brendan ate... Chick-fil-A. Sure they've stopped funding the whole supporting traditional marriage crap, but still as a gay man (Brendan being the gay man, not me, I only wish I was *sigh*), it's the principle of the matter.



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review 2013-08-20 00:00
To Dream, Perchance to Live - Nessa L. Warin Simply put, I thoroughly enjoyed this story. I loved Aidan, loved Wyatt, loved a lot of the secondary characters. Hated the bad guys that would be Elliott (die in a frigin' fire) and Wyatt's (death is too good for you because it lacks sufficient torment) parents. Set in an alternate time & place the similarities to the real world were enough to give it a comfortable feeling and I didn't have to spend a lot of time trying to mentally create the author's world, which is fun but it was nice just to be able to sink into a good story and enjoy it.
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review 2013-08-19 00:00
Syrah - Nessa L. Warin 2.5 stars. The secondary characters - including the cat - had more personality than the MCs. I've noticed this trait in some of Warin's other books too. It's great to find a book with a strong cast but I have to like the MCs as well and they were just too bland and boring and were definitely overshadowed by their best friends. And the cat.
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