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review 2018-10-18 00:20
ARC Review: Lincoln's Park by Parker Williams
Lincoln's Park - Parker Williams

I read this book, finished it, and then immediately read it again. That basically NEVER happens, but with this book, I couldn't help myself.

Noel is a young man who was kicked out of his home by his ever so loving parents when he told them he was gay. He was lucky in that he found a place at a local shelter, where he's been living and helping out for the past three years. In need of a job, any job, he stops in Lincoln's diner.

Lincoln is quite a bit older than Noel, with a very different backstory, which we find out as the book progresses. He loves cooking and taking care of people, and he treats his employees like family. One look at the forlorn young man asking for a job, and Lincoln can't help himself - the need to pull the young man into the folds is immediate. 

Noel has no idea what hit him - surely nobody can be that decent and kind to someone they don't know at all, right?

I liked both characters immensely, and also the supporting cast - the other employees at the diner, especially Katy, and Robert who runs the shelter where Noel has been staying. However, Lincoln's brother and father - I wanted them to hurt, and badly, but obviously I wasn't supposed to like them. 

Noel is still young, and despite the last three years being really rough, he hasn't lost his sweet kindness, his youthful innocence, his positive outlook. He's fascinated by the older Lincoln, but also has no intention of falling for his boss and being out of a job. Except he doesn't realize that Lincoln feels the same, and that they are well matched despite the age difference and the difference in their life experiences. Lincoln's history plays a huge role in who he became, and he's reluctant to reach for Noel, scared to some extent that he's no good for the younger man. Thank goodness for Katy who gives them the push they both need. 

What struck me most here is that the author created complex and fully developed characters - Lincoln had some layers that ran much deeper than I initially expected, and Noel has an inner strength I didn't expect from someone so young. 

There's a moment toward the end of the book that may be confusing for some - without giving away the plot, I can't really say much about it, but suffice it to say that if you pay attention to what comes before, you will not be confused at all, or even wonder what just happened. 

The BDSM-Lite aspect of the relationship was well done and rang true, and I liked that the author utilized it as a source of some conflict that the two men have to work out, which actually strengthened the relationship.

What is emphasized time and again is family - the one you're born to and the one you choose and make for yourself. Family, even if not by blood, is what binds Lincoln and Noel and Katy and Jesse and Robert and all the others. Even Lincoln's brother, who by book's end seemingly has second thoughts about how he's been acting. I have it on good authority that his story will be told in a future book. I cannot wait! 

But what really permeates this book is love. There is so much tangible, obvious love in every word on every page, and you are cocooned by it, warmed by it, embraced by it. 

I think it's that feeling of love that prompted me to read the book twice in a row, and I highly recommend that you get yourself a copy as soon as you can.

It's available now.


** I received a free copy of this book from its publisher in exchange for an honest review. **

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review 2018-03-07 01:38
Release Day ARC Review: Cowboy In The Crosshairs by B.A. Tortuga
Cowboy in the Crosshairs - B.A. Tortuga

Once upon a time, i.e. 10 years or so prior, Wacey, oldest son of the local rodeo company owners, and TJ were a couple in secret. TJ wasn't ready to come out as gay in their small town and also wanted what everyone else had - a wife and a couple of kids. They broke up and Wacey left town right after, hurt and angry, and they haven't spoken since. TJ married, had two kids, and then came clean to his now ex-wife about how he likes men more so than women.

That's the backstory of their relationship. I just love the second chance at love stories, so this one was right up my alley. I also love when the romance isn't all dramatic and full of angst, and I got that here too.

The story begins with TJ, sitting in the diner, doing his Chief of Police thing with the locals, including calming down some old biddie complaining about some art work on the side of house, when he's told that Wacey got hurt real bad and is coming home to the ranch to recuperate. TJ is still mad at Wacey for not coming home for so long, and Wacey wants nothing to do with his old boyfriend.

Obviously that doesn't last for long, as weird things happening at the Bene ranch keep throwing them into each other's path.

Someone apparently has it out for Wacey.

I just love me some good cowboy loving, and this author always delivers the goods. This was such a charming romance, and I adored both MCs. Their relationship was easy-peasy, and once TJ made up his mind to woo Wacey into his bed again, he was relentless in his pursuit.

The mystery/suspense was also really well done, with the incidents getting worse and worse and the suspense building, and nobody having any idea who might be behind it all. I had an inkling about halfway through about the villain, and though I thought that the reason for the villainy might have been a wee bit far-fetched, it's hard to say what might go on in such a mind.

The author's writing style also really worked for this story, and the dialogue felt organic for the setting and the characters.

This is a feel-good second-chance-at-love story with two likable main characters and a great supporting cast. Though, naming your kids Wacey, Lacey, Macey, and Kacey - I feel I must either question your sanity or applaud your sick sense of humor.

Give this a try, y'all. Definitely worth your time.


** I received a free copy of this book from its publisher in exchange for an honest review. **

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review 2017-12-16 00:44
Release Day ARC Review: Getting His Man by B.G. Thomas
Getting His Man (Dreamspun Desires Book 48) - B.G. Thomas

A delightful, fluffy tale of being in the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong friends and being rescued by a knight in shining armor... er, I mean a bail bondsman/bounty hunter. 

Artie, one of our MCs, is 23, but everyone thinks he's much younger due to his small build and baby face. He's not had much luck finding a guy who wants more than a quick trick in a bar, where Artie is regularly carded, because baby face. Artie yearns for someone to call his, but the cards aren't in his favor.

He lives with Willie, a sort of but not really friend, who smokes a lot of pot and dabbles a bit with dealing on the side. Artie isn't happy with the weed that's in the apartment, and he's been saving up his meager earnings to get a place of his own.

Upon his return from a concert he attends with his real friend Ross, he finds Willie and cohort and a large amount of pot and the music blaring. Scared because of the drugs and pissed off with the ungodly noise, Artie does take one of the offered brownies, not realizing that they are baked. And I mean, BAKED. Which Artie is also, shortly after. Falling into bed stoned is one thing, being woken up by the police is quite another, especially when Artie is being charged with possession and dealing of an illegal substance and find himself in need of bail. 

Whoopsie.

Enter August, our knight, who's a bail bondsman and bounty hunter and manages to get Artie out of jail on bond, at the cost of basically every single penny Artie's been saving to get out of the shared apartment. As long as Artie doesn't skip town, August is sure that he can get Artie out of trouble with the Po-Po. And the slim, small man, still half-stoned, just tugs on his heartstrings and appeals to his inner hero.

If you love the old Hollywood movies themes in which a damsel in distress (Artie) is rescued by a super smart and super handsome hero (August), with tons of movie references, this is the book for you. Artie is delightfully clueless and helpless, and August dreams of being the man to be Artie's hero. 

Written in the author's usual emotionally charged and somewhat breathless style, this is a must read for all fans of BG Thomas. It's of course, as most books in this series, somewhat unrealistic, but I loved the tropes utilized here, and the expected happily ever after was definitely satisfying. 

Artie, despite being idealistic and slightly TSTL, does have a good heart, and it is because of his feelings and fear for August that he gets himself into additional trouble from which he then has to be rescued. But fear not, August is the quintessential hero and saves the day. 

Due to the limitations put upon authors in this series, there are limited explicitly intimate scenes, but what there was is well done and really brought their connection across. I was rooting for them both to ride off into the sunset together. 

A delightful tale that's well worth your time. 


** I received a free copy of this book from its publisher for an honest and unbiased review. **

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review 2017-09-25 00:56
ARC Review: Pins And Needles by A.J. Thomas
Pins and Needles - A.J. Thomas

This is only my 2nd book by this author. The title is apt - I was on pins and needles for most of the time while reading this excellent story of suspense, intrigue, and romance among the ruins. 

Okay, so that latter part is a bit hyperbole - there are no actual ruins, per se. What is in ruins however is a promising career, a father/son relationship, and an invention that could revolutionize a part of the oil industry.

But I'm getting ahead of myself...

This is a complex story, and it would behoove the reader to read slowly and carefully, much in line with the slow progression of the story. As it is so often the case, all is not what it seems, and it takes some time to untangle the many threads that make up this particular plot.

The book begins by introducing us to Nate Delany, a young lawyer working for his father's well-known company, who is basically the do-boy for another lawyer, and whose briefs, as eloquent and well-researched as they are, are not getting credited to him, but the "supervising" attorney. Nate is frustrated, especially as his father doesn't seem to realize that the brilliant briefs "written by" the supervising attorney are actually his son's work and believes that Nate is just a slacker, unable to run the company himself. At the end of his rope, Nate quits. 

On his way out, his assistant gives him the name and number of a man who had an appointment with the supervising attorney, but who was apparently deemed too rough, with too many tattoos, to warrant the jerk's time. 

Nate makes a call. Nate makes a visit to the hospital where he meets Sean Wilkinson, whose former foster father Hawk was the man rejected by Nate's father's lawyer. As Nate hears what happened to Sean, he can't help but be intrigued by the young man who after a terrible accident lost not only his leg, but also his livelihood and his career as a petroleum engineer.

Hounded by his employer's lawyers to agree to a ridiculous settlement after the accident, Sean needs someone in his corner to help him navigate these new rough waters. And Nate is just the guy to do that.

Both MCs have their own personal struggles and rather different personality-wise. 

Sean, with his difficult early life and rough upbringing, isn't quick to trust anyone and plays his cards rather close to his chest. He's not only a brilliant engineer, but also a fantastic tattoo artist, who learned the craft in his foster father's shop. Hawk is perhaps the closest thing to a real father Sean has, and their relationship is very close and supportive. He doesn't have any close friends; in fact even the people with whom he spent months at sea don't really know him at all, including his boss, with whom Sean has had an affair since he interned with the company at 19. 

Nate, on the other hand, had a rather normal, if affluent, childhood and appears to most people as someone who had everything handed to him - with his last name being so well-known and the assumptions which come with that. His personal struggles aren't as obvious, but they're just as real. Nate has to prove himself repeatedly at his father's company, more so really than any other newly minted attorney would have to, because he's his father's son. In addition, his parents have more or less forsaken him because their older son is a bigot and doesn't want his children or his wife anywhere near Nate. Since, you know, homosexuality clearly rubs off and we must think of the children. For years, Nate hasn't been able to spend holidayrs or any quality time with his family; it's as if he's been erased. No photographs of Nate are displayed at their house - it's as if he doesn't even exist. His name isn't ever mentioned around the older son, and his brother's kids have zero relationship with him. 

Taking on Sean as his first client after quitting his father's firm seems like a great idea at the time, even if it's just fighting for Sean to get the biggest possible settlement for the accident that cost him one of his legs, but there's a lot more to their case than just that. See, Sean invented something that's been used on the ship, and the case now also involves intellectual property rights. 

And someone may be out to kill Sean to silence him.

The romance that develops between Nate and Sean is by design a super slow burn. Not only is Sean seriously injured and still recovering from the accident, but he's also Nate's client, and there are a bunch of ethical issues to consider before the two of them can be together. As an added detriment, when Nate tries to find another law firm to represent Sean and remove the ethics issue, he finds that many firms will not even consider taking him on, because of who Nate's father is. No matter how brightly the attraction burns between them, Nate must first and foremost consider that any romantic relationship they might have could adversely impact Sean's day in court. 

Underneath all the suspense and intrigue, the point this book drives home time and again is that of family. Not necessarily the one you're born into, but the one you choose, the one you make for yourself. And for that, Sean had a great example in Hawk, his mother's ex-boyfriend, who took him in, no questions asked, when Sean was kicked out at home for being gay. A man who never asked for anything but was there time and again when Sean needed him. A man who not only gave him a home but also a way of paying the bills, when he taught him the fine art of tattooing. Nate has an example too, really - that of how NOT to treat your family. While I believe his parents loved him, they never even considered how hurtful their behavior was when they excluded Nate to appease their older son's homophobia and bigotry. 

My only niggle came toward the end of the book, during the big reveal as to who was behind all the bad things that happened. It felt a little over the top, and the villain really came out of left field, to be honest. Sure, the explanation made sense, but the way it all went down was a little... too much, I guess. 

Still, this was definitely an enjoyable read, with a satisfying HFN, and I would recommend you give this book a try. I don't think you'll be disappointed.


** I received a free copy of this book from its publisher. A positive review was not promised in return. **

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review 2017-07-10 01:36
ARC Review: Straight From The Heart by Sam Burns
Straight from the Heart (Wilde Love Book 1) - Sam Burns

Very impressive debut novel! 

We are first introduced to Alex, 23 and a little naive, who has just defied his mother and dropped out of college, after which she has kicked him out to couch-surf with his friends from his band and cut off his cash-flow. Undeterred, Alex takes his box of things and his guitar and his last bit of cash to celebrate his freedom in the local bar. While there, a little drunk, he's almost mugged but saved by a hot hunk named Liam, and Alex has an epiphany while being pressed against Liam - yep, he's gay. 

As his Liam. Alex wastes no time wallowing in angst, embraces what he's feeling, and goes home with Liam. Who's a perfect gentleman and doesn't take advantage of the slightly younger and much drunker man. 

And that's basically the first couple of chapters. From there, the story takes off, and the author does a great job mixing the suspense with the budding romance between Alex and Liam. Except Liam isn't exactly who he says he is, but he's mostly honest with Alex about all the things he can be honest about.

The relationship between Alex and Liam develops quickly, and love is rather insta, but I didn't care, because the two characters just made me want them to succeed. And the drama/intrigue plot is action-packed and had me more often than not on the edge of my seat. 

I suspended disbelief on occasion, but the unrealistic moments didn't bother me all that much. What felt real are the complex characters. Not only in Alex and Liam, but also the supporting cast. Alex's bandmates (one of whom will also get a book, I'm told), the crime-boss Liam works for, and his son were fully fleshed out and not just cardboard characters. The villain was perhaps slightly over the top, but that was to be expected. 

Alex as a baby-gay was well done, and I suppose I chalked it off to his age and lack of romancing girls before that there was little angst for him when his body reacted to Liam's hot bod saving the day. He just accepted it, though I would think he had to have had some inklings before. Jumping feet first into exploring his sexuality, with Liam as a willing subject, burning up the sheets - oh yeah, that was fun to read.

Alex's best friend and bandmate Jake has a confession too, and there's a little bit of drama when they come out to each other, but Jake definitely has Alex's back, and is a bit suspicious of Liam at first. 

I don't want to give away the plot itself, and don't want to spoil the experience for anyone, but I will say this: If you like romance mixed with suspense and action, and you like when two men just completely fall for each other and make it work against the odds, this book is for you.

I cannot wait for Keegan's story - that's coming next. Sign me up!!


** I received a free copy of this book from its author. A positive review was not promised in return. **

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