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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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review 2016-11-08 01:01
ARC Review: Settling The Score by Eden Winters
Settling the Score - Eden Winters

Joey, a small-town mechanic, is counting down the days until he can follow his almost-famous actor boyfriend to Hollywood. He's got his plane ticket booked and can't wait to get out of his hometown, where nobody knows he's gay.

Except, the boyfriend not only dumps him, but also outs him during an interview on national TV, a program watched by nearly everyone in the town. Including Joey's family. While he's with them. Luckily, they are supportive and kind, and sort of build a wall around him to protect him from the town's nosiness and backlash. Small town homophobia is alive and well in their neighbors, but Joey's family is steadfast, and not afraid to stand up for him.

Immediately, reporters flock to the small town, wanting to get a scoop, and basically ambush the poor young man, who's heartbroken over this betrayal.

And only realizes that the now ex-boyfriend has also cleaned out his bank accounts, when the town's sheriff pays him a visit.

Somewhere on the South Carolina coast, Troy Steele, aka Oren Keller, knows only too well what Joey is going through. He had his own heartbreak years ago. He's also an author, and just happens to be writing a story that seems to imitate Joey's life, to some extent.

Together with his PA Erica , Troy hatches a plan to offer Joey a way out of the scrutiny - become Troy's personal real-life research project for the book he's writing.

At this point, I was reminded a bit of My Fair Lady, with Joey getting a makeover, being forced to join a gym and work out, and wearing fancier clothes than he's used to. And being offered a chance at pay-back.

However, what may have started out as a revenge plot, for both Troy and Joey, slowly turns into a romance, as the men spend time together, with Joey answering questions about his feelings, and Troy using the answers to work on his book.

The author gave them lots of time to fall in love, and this is a rather slow burn story. There are very few steamy scenes, which worked really well here. Joey isn't someone who'd fall in bed with another man immediately, and Troy is still, after many years, wary of letting anyone into his heart.

I loved Erica. She pressures Troy into joining Joey at the gym, something that wasn't in their original agreement, and is overall a really great character. She doesn't take crap from Troy either, and was basically a force to be reckoned with. So fun!

Eden Winters always delivers. Her characters are complex and fully fleshed out. Her books have to be read slowly, because there are so many subtle undertones that are easily missed.

There are humorous elements too, one scene specifically late in the book where Big Joe plies Troy/Oren with his special brand of moonshine, that had me howling with laughter, though I giggled quite a bit throughout the book.

I loved Joey and Troy/Oren both. Joey is kind, trusting, and just so sweet - I wanted to wrap him in a hug most of the time. Troy/Oren is a bit prickly early on, primarily because he's been hurt so bad, and betrayed by his former lover, and doesn't trust easily anymore, but he softens over the course of the book, and comes to find that revenge is no longer all that he's after.

Troy's plan offers Joey a chance to get even with the ex, something that Joey is partially looking forward to, and partially questioning. There's anger simmering underneath the nice demeanor, and he eventually gets to say what's he's been wanting to say.

And even Troy gets his revenge, too.

A truly delightful story, and one that I enjoyed quite a bit. Eden Winters has a very distinct writing style, one well suited to this kind of story. The plot flows nicely, without any lulls or big time jumps, and there was something interesting happening on each page, whether it was a humorous moment, such as Troy in the gym, complaining, or a more somber moment, such as Joey dealing with the fallout from his ex's betrayal, and his worry how being outed was impacting his family.

Recommended.


** I received a free copy of this book as part of a blogtour from Indigo Marketing and Design. A review was not promised in return. **

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