Happiness is a cup of coffee and a really good book.

Banter, banter...I love banter...

Friendly Fire - Cari Z.

I'm going to start at the beginning with this one and once again that means I want to talk about the cover. While I don't factor covers into my rating, I do like to mention them especially when they appeal to me as much as this one did. I won't lie between the cover and the blurb for this book, I was hooked. I wanted to read this book and that's what book covers and blurbs are for. They're just another way to promote the story within and in this case for me they worked really well. Now onto the story within...


Have you ever met someone and things have just clicked into place with them and just to be clear I'm not talking about insta-love here. I'm talking about those times when you meet a person and you're comfortable with them from the word go, conversation comes easily, you like them from the minute you meet, there's a level of comfort and trust that you don't always get with everyone you meet. This was Elliot and Lennox. From the moment they met they liked each other, yes there was physical attraction but what there wasn't was that impression of 'oh-my-god-this-is-it. He's the one' nope, it was more like 'This guy's cool and hot. I'd hang out with him. Hell, I'd even do him, if he's interested.' No wedding bells or starry eyed wonder' here. These are two mature men who have each had more than their share of life experiences.


The romantic part of the story was driven by a bit of mystery and suspense, but it never fully took over or surpassed the relationship that was developing between these two men. If anything at times the mystery/suspense part of the story gave the romance a bit of a push.


For me one of the best things about this story was the casual and comfortable way these two men bantered back and forth with each other and with everyone else for that matter...

"You're not going to offer me a beanbag chair?"

"I wouldn't want to insult your dress. It would clash so terribly with the paisley pattern." Elliot sat across from her. "Now. What would you like to talk about first, my being shot or my addictions?"

and then there's Serena, Elliot's assistant and Lennox's ex-sister-in-law and her own force of nature...

"The chips?"

Serena sighed. "She said to bring a side and I don't cook, you know that. this is why I have all my parties catered.

"Don't worry," he assured her with a wink. "I don't judge."

and Lennox tends to have equally interesting conversations...

"You're done early tonight."

"I've got a thing with the ex and her family."

Carl shook his head. "What part of ex don't you understand? You don't stay friends with 'em, Lennox; that's how you go crazy. You give 'em alimony and child support and take the kids over the summer. That's how you handle an ex."

Add to all this a moody but pretty cool teenage daughter, a Pomeranian named Holly and a co-worker who seems a little too anxious to shoot things then throw in some steamy lovin' between our sexy MCs and you've got the makings of a story that I can totally get behind.


While Cari Z is not an entirely new to me author, 'Friendly Fire' is my first time reading a full length novel by her and this definitely won't be the last one either, if I'm going to be as thoroughly entertained as I was by this time around.



An ARC of 'Friendly Fire' was graciously provided by the publisher through Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.


Welcome to philosophy 101...

Where We Left Off - Roan Parrish

I wish I even knew where to begin with this one. This is probably going to be a bit of a rambling rant because I'm honestly at a loss for how to explain this book and how I felt about it. So here goes nothing...or maybe everything...


Let's start at the beginning and by that I mean the cover. I've loved the covers on these books every last one of them without exception.


Ok, moving on to the real issue here...what's between the covers...is the story of Leo and Will. If you've read the first book you'll remember them from there. Neither of these characters appeared in book 2 and if you read my review for that book you'll remember I stated that they didn't really even blip my radar. So let's start with Leo...


For whatever reason Leo just wasn't my cuppa', for most of the book I just could not warm up to him. His fixation with Will was a little intense bordering on stalkerish. Seriously? He moved to New York under the pretense of going to school...truth,..Will lived there. He only applied to 1 university...you guessed it NYU...stalkerish much?


My other issue with Leo was he was a 'romantic'. Ok, if that means you hear what you want to hear and interpret things to have the meaning that you want them to have...Leo was a romantic. Thankfully as the book progressed even Leo started to see that maybe his 'romantic nature' wasn't in tune with the rest of the world. I did find Leo more likable when he was just being a university student and hanging out with his friends Milton, Charles, Thomas and Gretchen, which I guess makes sense given the dynamics of the relationship between him and Will. What I didn't see in Leo at this point no matter who he was interacting with was someone who was read to be in a long-term committed relationship. On this point I was definitely on Will's side. I'm not saying that Leo needed to sleep with every gay guy at NYU but just because Will was the first guy to kiss him, doesn't make him 'the one'.


Then there's Will I didn't love Will, hell a lot of the time I didn't even like Will. But I did feel that he was or at least he tried to be honest with Leo and he's soooooo gorgeous I mean seriously handsome beyond belief, I m pretty sure Adonis would be jealous. I like an attractive man as much as the next person...really, I do, but I did get a little tired of hearing about it and about what a burden it was for poor Will being so attractive and having people always wanting to sleep with him...really, say what now? WTF? Didn't he keep telling Leo how he liked having sex with whoever he wanted and that was part of the reason that he didn't do relationships? Will, I'm confused is being so incredibly attractive a blessing or a curse? I need you to pick now. He told Leo more than once that he was not relationship material and that he didn't do relationships. In Will's eyes relationships were basically a way to lose your individuality...ok, it's a little more complicated than that but really if you want the full score on this read the book because truthfully...it's complicated and more rambling than even I want to do.


Somewhere in this muddle was suppose to be a May/December romance but between Leo's internal dialogue and all the philosophy classes...can I get my diploma please? I just found things getting a little murky and I think because Leo was so young I really would have been more comfortable with a bit of clarification as to what Wills age was. May/December romances really aren't my thing, not a deal breaker but neither is it the icing on my cupcake.


So right about now I'm sure anyone who's still reading is wondering 'but you gave it 3 stars' you must have liked it...well, yes and no. There were some moments that I liked even a couple that I really enjoyed but mostly those three stars are because I read this book from start to finish over the course of a couple of days. I wouldn't have even taken that long but you know real life and all that. As much as I was for want of a better word disappointed in this one. I was also pretty impressed by an author whose writing skills kept me reading in spite of the fact that the story just didn't draw me in.


On a more positive note there were two things I really enjoyed about this book one was Will's response to a lengthy dialogue that Leo was trying to have with him to explain how he felt,,,

"... and then everything's different anyway, you know?"


Will was silent for a beat and then he nodded. "Yeah, totally."


"Yeah?" I let out a breath of pure relief.


"No! I have no fucking clue what you're talking about! Key terms I heard: sunrise yoga, which I really want to refer to a cocktail; flavor of love, which I think was a reality show on VH1; entropy, which I know is a band; and changed forever, which is what I hope this topic is about to be."


I cannot lie in that moment. Will made me laugh so much, I loved him for it...

and in the end Will showed a vulnerable side...

"...Because I wanted you. I didn't know how exactly, but I just...I wanted you, Leo. I always wanted you." (There was a lot more to this conversation but that's all I'm sharing.)


It was quite honestly the last 20 to 25% that really saved this book for me and took it from being 2 maybe 2.5 stars to 3 not because it was hearts and flowers and rainbows of love because it wasn't but for this pairing it was a realistic promise of possibilities and sometimes at the end of the day it's the promise of what is possible that makes tomorrow worthwhile for any of us.




An ARC of 'Where We Left Off' was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Sometimes the hardest books to read tell the best stories...

Out of Nowhere (Middle of Somewhere Book 2) - Roan Parrish

'Out of Nowhere' is the second book in Roan Parrish's 'Middle of Somewhere' series and very possibly not only the best one yet...but the best one...period...end of sentence. 


This is Colin's story and Rafe's. But it's more than that. This is about family. Something we all want and we all get but for each of us it's never the same. The word family can mean so many different things to a person and when it works and it's right, it's the best thing ever, but when it doesn't work it can tear you apart leaving nothing but broken pieces in its wake, pieces that may never fit back together no matter how hard you try. 


For Colin his family ceased to work when his mother died. Life became an endless cycle of working in the auto shop with his dad and brothers, trying to avoid panic attacks and control his rage. Running helps, lifting weights helps and when those things fail there's drinking. For him admitting he's gay isn't even on his radar let alone an option. Colin lives and breathes for his father's acceptance...something he knows he may never have no matter how hard he tries...but it's his father and do any of us ever really give up trying to have that one thing that we should all come into the world with...the unconditional love and acceptance of our parents? I'm not sure that I truly believe we do. I think if we don't have it we either learn to live with the conditional love and acceptance that we're given or we find a way to live with the fact that it's something we'll never have. 


Little by little we are shown how Colin's soul is being shredded and he's losing  himself in his efforts to gain his father's approval until Rafe finds him. Rafe sees past Colin's misery and self-destruction and the man that's hiding there calls to him. Rafe's not perfect he's got his own set of problems but he's a fighter and he knows how to wage a war. He's done battle with a past that he wants to leave behind to create a future worth having. Rafe also knows about family because unlike Colin's his understands about loving and supporting each other when the chips are down.


I first encountered Colin towards the end of book 1 'In the Middle of Somewhere' and if you had told me then that this author could make me even like him. I would have laughed so much...seriously ROFLMAO!!! that would have been me and now I have to say I would have been wrong. I definitely like Colin...a lot. I wanted to feed him milk and cookies and give him a teddy bear to hug along with a bit of tough love because it may be the hardest thing in the world to do but sometimes it's what our kids need from us the most.


'In the Middle of Somewhere' showed us a glimpse of the Colin that is but 'Out of Nowhere' showed us the the Colin that was, more of the one that is and wrapped up with the Colin that will be and this is the Colin that I came to adore and think any parent would and should be proud of.


More than anything what I loved about this book was that Ms Parrish gave us such a real person in Colin. There are a lot of book characters that I can think of that I love, whom I really enjoyed reading about but very few felt as real to me as Colin did. He could so easily be my neighbor, my friend's brother,  my brother.


'Out of Nowhere' wasn't an easy story to read it was dark and heartbreaking and had such a strong dose of realism to it for me. Sometimes I needed to just put it down and take a break but always I needed to see it through because for all it's darkness and heartbreak at the end of it all was love and hope and promise for Colin and Rafe and the future they were both willing to fight for together.


If you read the first book and you didn't like Colin try this one. I think he'll change your mind about him and if not at least you'll gain some insight about the ending of 'In the Middle of Somewhere'.

It's all about the feelz and the balance...

David, Renewed - Diana Copland

Apparently I'm feeling a bit rambly these days but I'm not sure how else I'm going to explain why I enjoyed this book so much. A while ago I wrote a review and in it I said the reason that I hadn't enjoyed the book was because for me a good story had to have balance and what I meant by that was. If you're going to give me characters that I really, really dislike then you have to give me someone that I can love and adore and vice versa although maybe a bit less so because the characters I love don't fill me with the passionate anger and rage that those 'I hate you characters' do. In the case of that other book there were no 'I love you' characters to be had...even the MCs weren't likable for me. So by the end of that book 'I had rage' and no warm, flurffy feelz of any kind. I just wanted it over and this is where the balance makes the difference.


There were characters in this story that I hated, I mean seriously passionately hated. They were jerks total dickheads, doorknobs...ok, I think you've probably got my point. There was of course Trevor, David's Ex and the poster child for what not to hook up with let alone live with...honestly, I could rage about this guy for hours but I don't want to spoil the fun of reading the book for anyone. Next we have Travis, Jackson's charming brother (please add copious sarcasm here). Travis was just all kinds of special, ok...NOT! He's a lawyer and a politician so feel free to stereo-type away because in this case it's accurate. Oh yeah, let's not forget Jackson's sister, Michelle whom I apparently tried to forget since I had to go look her name up in the book...sorry, being a princess doesn't excuse her from being a adult, so while I don't think she falls into the category of douchery that Travis and Trevor the A$$hat twins did, still didn't like her.


Ok that's all of the talk about the icky people we need to have because I'm feeling the rage and this is where I get to appreciate the balance and the warm fuzzies that come from the 'people I love' and it's a lovely list.


First the moms...both Jackson and David had awesome moms. Yes, David' mom was a bit more epic but Jackson's mom still loved him and appreciated all that he'd given up for her by moving back home to take care of her because his brother who's too busy and important to help out with hie sick other and sister who's too much of a princess to be expected to deal with it...see rage coming back, anyways, they both live in the same town close to mom but no Jackson who lives across the country and has a life is the one who's 'suppose' to do this and he does because it's his mom and he loves her. It's not an obligation or  even a responsibility for Jackson it's about caring for someone you love pure and simple...you guessed it, I love Jackson he's awesome and sexy and hot too...ask David, he'll agree. 


Now David, yep, I love him too. He's awesome and sweet and in general I just found him to be adorable. Not to mention that thankfully his taste in men has vastly improved because Trevor to Jackson is totally a case of going from the ridiculous to the sublime. 


I don't know if I'd call this one a case of insta-love or lust but in this case whatever it was it worked and I think that it was mostly because while these two men fell for each other quickly the relationship didn't progress quickly there were obstacles that kept them from really getting together so it didn't become a case boy meets boy, boy falls into bed with boy and they all lived happily ever after. There were problems and things to be dealt with and these guys talked and got to know each other and even after they did finally get to have sex and seriously it was hot!!! They still talked and not all of their interactions took place in the bedroom...ohmygod!!! Isn't that like a real relationship or something?


Ok, let's get back to what I liked David's lawyer...her name was Karen..sue me, it's a nice name. Ok, all kidding aside there were so many characters that I like and that I would just love to know more of Michael, David's assistant who apparently doesn't do love and doesn't like Gil...in that way? Yeah, yeah, sure, sure. Michael, you're not fooling anyone except yourself with that line. But yes, I really liked Michael, he was sassy and just all kinds of fun and Jackson's friend Gil, I think he's a mountain of a man with a heart sized to match and I'd love a story about these two.


Then there's Vern  with all his grump and snarl...tell me there's not a story there? While we're at it what's up with the roofing guy and his brother maybe they could show up in a future story or two so we could find out more about them.


Ok, I've saved the best for last because more than anyone else, I want a story for Manny. We got to find out a bit about him and what he's been through and if anyone deserves a book with a big, old HEA. It's Manny...Manny made me cry so I now want to have some happy tears for him too.


Balance at the end of it all it's that balance of feelings that help to make a story work. Too much hate leaves me angry and frustrated, too much sugary, sweetness makes everything just feel fake. But give me a bit of both and if you want to make the good feelz side of things a bit more that's ok just don't leave either of them out completely because it's this balance or mixture of both that makes a story feel realistic to me. Hell if you want to give me Unicorns that poop rainbows I'm down with that as long as you make me feel. Happy, sad, frustrated, scared, anxious, whatever because for me it's all about the feelings and connecting with how a character feels that puts me into the story and makes me love it.


'David Renewed' was my first read by this author and most assuredly not my last and hopefully not my last trip to David & Jackson's world either with all the potential untold stories that are there.



An ARC of 'David Renewed' was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Even Sociopaths need love...

Gideon - Ashe Barker

Have you ever finished reading a book and when you think about it...really think about it you realize I shouldn't have liked it but I did. That's what happened here. I really shouldn't have liked this there were a lot of reasons not to, but when all was said and done I did and I'm not even sure if I can fully explain why but I'm going to have a little ramble here and see if anything makes sense.


'Gideon' is the first book in a new series called 'The Order of the Black Knights' and it's by Ashe Barker who is a 'new to me author'. So I truthfully didn't know what to expect when I started this. I knew what the blurb told me and it sounded interesting and of course I saw the series title and well 'Order of the Black Knights' seriously how could that not be intriguing. So, I decided I was going to do this thing and that was that.


Now let's talk about the actual book. 'Gideon' is a supernatural mystery with a bit of romance on the side (I'm going with the word supernatural because after doing a bit of googling and reading what I learned was that there is a difference between the words paranormal and supernatural and for the purposes of this story I feel that the word supernatural is the most appropriate).


Gideon Maybury has led a life of privilege and he's use to getting his way. Add to this the fact that his moral compass is pretty much broken. When he's not working as a merchant banker he works for His Majesty's Government as a paid assassin because he's had a fascination with death from a pretty early age and hey, everyone should have a hobby, right? Well Gideon's so good at his he makes a living at it. I want to just take a moment here to clarify the fact that at the beginning of this story I did not like Gideon...not even a little bit and that didn't really change much. As I said to my friend, Dani (who truthfully didn't enjoy this story nearly as much as I did, so I strongly encourage you to go over to GR and read her review if you're looking for a very different perspective) Gideon for me went from 'you are one seriously f*#ked-up dude' to 'ok, I guess even crazies need love'.


While Michael Mathison and Gideon have never really met. Gideon was a key figure in the death of Christopher, Michael's lover back in college. Needless to say Michael has hated Gideon for a long time but it's not until the death of Gideon's  brother, Richard that Michael decides to find out more about the mysterious Gideon Maybury and to try and find proof that he is responsible not just for Christopher's death but for that of his brother as well.


Going undercover as Gideon's driver to gain access to Gideon and hopefully the information he needs to confirm his suspicions draws Gideon and Michael together and places them both in danger and as the body count grows so does the attraction between Gideon and Michael.


Ok, so there you have it that's the gist of the story. Sadly while I enjoy a good mystery the 'who' in the 'who-done-it' part of this story became more than a little obvious far to soon for my liking making a solid contribution to that missing star in my rating.


However, it's the part of the story that I enjoyed that isn't discussed in the blurb and that I'm not going to mention in any real detail that I enjoyed the most. There was a paranormal element to this story that gave it that little bit of different that hooked me and made me want to keep reading the book.


Usually if I really like a book it's because I've connected really strongly with at least one of the MCs and that wasn't the case here. As well as being a sociopath I found Gideon to be cold and indifferent, self-centered and arrogant...and well really he's a sociopath, do I really need more reasons than that not to like him? As for Michael, I didn't dislike him. He was ok a likable enough person. However, interestingly enough, for me, these two characters worked well together. They were believable and I actually liked them better as a couple than as individuals...I'm really not sure I've ever said that before but there it is. 


I enjoyed Ashe Barker's writing style it wasn't quite what I'm used to and I found that for for this story it worked well . Things flowed well and while there were some things that seemed a little incongruous for me they felt like minor issues and didn't really spoil my enjoyment of the overall story. 


My main attraction to this story was the paranormal or supernatural aspect of things, it put me in mind of some shows and books from the past that I've really enjoyed and I found myself anticipating the possibilities that this series could hold. I know there are at least 2 more books to come and each of them are written by different and new to me authors, so I'm looking forward to seeing how the next couple of stories progress and how these authors handle the paranormal or supernatural aspect that started with 'Gideon'. 


'Gideon' is a story about revenge and forgiveness and the path they can take a person down and how once choice can affect a lifetime. This was a strong start for a series that has the potential to be a step outside of the norm and I'm looking forward to seeing how it all plays out.



An ARC of 'Gideon' was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Hot cars and even hotter men...how could I not...

Beyond the Grill - Tracey Michael

If you're looking at this cover which is very nice and sexy by the way and it's got you thinking about Paul Walker and Vin Diesel don't sweat it because 1. you're probably not alone and 2. it'll all be clear when you read the books dedication...it's to them.


I knew I was going to read this one as soon as I saw that cover...hot cars and hotter men...really, how could I not? Plus we've got a friends to lovers thing going on here...seriously things were looking good for this one and for the most part they stayed that way good. I would have liked awesome or fantastic but good is what I got. So what went wrong mostly I think I needed a bit more story. There were spots in the relationship development that I felt short changed on and the ending could have been filled out a bit more, plus there's a time jump of 4 years between the ending and the epilogue and truthfully I would have loved some story in there to fill that gap. Ok so those are the overall reasons why this one was only 3 stars instead of the 4 or 5 that I was hoping for. Now let's talk characters...


I liked Justin a lot. He's one of those guys who's attractive and quiet. He's got plans for his life and while he may be working at a burger place at the moment. His plans don't include staying there. Unfortunately Justin seems to be someone who gets overlooked a lot and mistaken for Mr. Right-Now when he could really be somebody's Mr. Right, if they'd just look close enough and this leads us to Shane...


Shane's hot, seriously big, muscular, close shaven hair...ok, basically bald. Which being a mechanic is a really practical look and speaking of looking he's looking close when it comes to Justin and he likes what he's seeing and he's confident enough to take that first step towards a relationship and smart enough to know he needs to tread carefully with Justin if he wants more than a one night stand. I really liked this about Shane that he saw what others missed about Justin and he was willing to take the time to let Justin know that he mattered and that Shane cared. But having been so aware and attuned to Justin I became confused when things seem to be going fairly well for our guys until they encounter Shane's Ex from high school...seriously? Shane's been around and single all this time and this guy waits until he sees him with someone else to make his move? WTF? add to this the fact that Shane sort of went from Mr. Sensitive to Captain Oblivious in regards to both Justin and the Ex. 


And there you have it the main reason that this story was good and not awesome or great for me. I liked the overall idea but I had a hard time swallowing getting into the scenario involving the Ex-boyfriend. There were just too many quirky little things about the whole situation that didn't work for me. I liked the idea but the execution of it just felt a little too contrived. The devil is always in the details and for me this time around some of those details were missing. I really feel that with a little more filling out of the details in some areas and a bit of reworking on the ex-boyfriend plotline this one could have easily gone from good to "WOW! Can I please have more."


'Beyond the Grill' was definitely a slow burn and while there were a few really hot moments if you're looking for smoking hot on page sex...well, carry on because this is not the place. Although it's not this author's first book from the looks of things it's still fairly early days in her writing career so I for one plan on watching to see what the future brings.



An  ARC of 'Beyond the Grill' was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Somehow I feel like I missed something with this one...

Optical Illusion: An m/m romance (Paint Book 1) - Emma Jaye

If I was rating this book based strictly on Chris this would probably be at least a 4 star rating because I really liked Chris. Chris is a young man whose education came from the school of hard knocks and I think he may have repeated a year or two but in spite of all that he's a pretty upbeat and resilient young man. Along with a laundry list of medical issues Chris has been through some pretty spectacularly bad life events. So the fact that this young man keeps going, keeps trying and putting himself out there for the world to trample is pretty impressive.


Unfortunately my rating is for the book in it's entirety and  that didn't go as well. I had a bit of an issue with the fact that his half-brother Matt and Matt's best friend Jase who also ended up being Chris's boyfriend, not one but two of the people who were suppose to be looking out for Chris's best interest were also two of the people who drugged him. Yes, it was 'just a sleeping pill' and yes, it had been prescribed for Chris because on his laundry list of medical issues is insomnia and I have to admit I don't know about anywhere else in the world but where I'm from if you drug someone without their consent and they are conscious and you don't have medical PoA for them it's illegal. It doesn't matter how good your intentions or what your reasons were, so now we have 2 of the people that Chris is suppose to be able to trust that have not only betrayed his trust but I'm betting they've broken the law to do it.


I actually started out liking Jase but as the story progressed I felt like he shifted from being attracted to the Chris he met, to wanting to help Chris be 'the best person he could be' which not a bad thing until it started to feel like Chris being the best person he could be meant that he had to change and be the person that Jase wanted him to be, which meant no more GoGo dancing, no more wearing make-up. Really? Jase pick your battles in the scheme of things why does a little make-up matter? To me this felt totally like a control issue on Jase's part and this may well be my issue I'll take ownership of it but sometimes there's a fine line between helping someone and trying to control them and Jase crossed it on more than one occasion so his white knight armor got a little tarnished in my eyes.


The ending of this book is one humongous cliffie...I mean serious vertigo inducing, hang on to your stomach as you look over the edge of that cliff and I have to admit I'm not sure if I'm going to make the leap on this one or if I'll just cut my losses and walk away from the edge. i guess I'll need to think about it.


Optical Illusion was a story that should have pulled at my heartstrings, made me cry for all that Chris had been through. I should have been wrecked and yet filled with happiness that he found a good place. He found family, friends and a good man who was falling in love with him. I get that but you see the problem was I didn't "GET IT"...I didn't feel it. I saw the words and I understood the story, but I didn't feel the connection. I'm not going to say it was me but neither will I say it wasn't me. There are a lot of reviews out there from people who got it. They got the story and they made the connection but there are also ones who like me didn't.


I think it comes down to sometimes it happens and sometimes it doesn't. In the end all we can each do is decide for ourselves.



A review copy of 'Optical Illusion' was graciously provided by the author via IndiGo Marketing in exchange for an honest review.


In the world of fashion Miles Brodeur is king...

In Vogue - Lucia Laurent

As Editor-In-Chief of Couture Magazine Miles is the driving force behind the fashion industry. Careers can be made or destroyed on  his whims. Miles lives for fashion. Years of dedication and hard work have placed him at the top of the fashion scene along with Zia his best friend and Couture's creative editor. Miles rules his world down to the last detail. He's in total control and it's not until he meets former model turned fashion editor Alexander Mackenzie that things begin to change.


While their first meeting is only a brief conversation at an event Alexander's presence stays with Miles. Alexander unlike Miles may love his job but he knows there's more to life than the world of fashion and he wants it all. For Alexander the idea of happiness and success includes gaining the attention of one Miles Brodeur. 


If the world of fashion is your thing than I highly recommend this book. While I liked the overall story for me there was some hit and miss about it. So I'm going to start with the miss parts. 


To begin with Miles had his moments where he honestly just annoyed me. I understand that he was a highly successful editor of a magazine that essentially is the fashion worlds bible and that in the publishing world he is extremely influential. I needed for him to be less arrogant and at times just downright less superficial and vain (cue Carly Simon please), I can appreciate confidence in a person and the times when that was the impression that I got of him that he was a man who was driven and confident in his ability to succeed, those were the times that I liked him.


Now let's talk fashion...no, seriously I mean fashion, roughly the first half of this book was for me a huge who's who of designers and maybe if I'd had my computer handy so that I could google some of this stuff and have more of a visual as to the general look and image that these designers create I would have liked this more but honestly if haute couture designs were what I was after I would have gone looking for some copies of Elle, In Style, Vogue, Marie Claire or Harper's Bazaar. For me sometimes less is more and part way into reading this the designer name and description of every piece of clothing and accessory worn by pretty much everyone was boring...sorry, that's the only word I have for it...B-O-R-I-N-G! I actually got excited over the fact that someone was going commando because hey I got to skip an underwear description, I think the men were pretty well all wearing Calvin Klein if you're wondering. 


I'm also going to mention that this book was written from a third person POV and while I have to admit it's not really a favorite perspective of mine, neither is it a deal breaker and admittedly I was a little thrown by it in the beginning but once I'd settled in to reading the story I was ok with it and I didn't find that it took anything away from the book for me. So not a dislike but I'm not sure I'd put it on my like list either, let's deem it a non-issue where I'm concerned and leave it at that.


Now onto what I enjoyed...


I enjoy the parts about fashion week in New York, England, although on behalf of the English I am offended that Miles didn't feel that England was worthy of his attention even though he actually dedicated an edition of Couture to British pop culture...oh, wait I forgot that's because Alexander was English and oh yeah, let's not forget fashion week in Paris and Milan because they were fun too.


While I'm not going to go into the details because I'm truly not looking to spoil this for anyone there was also another part of the story that pertained to Miles that sadly for me got over done as well and I reached a point where again my brain was saying "Sorry, I give no f*cks about  you anymore can we please move on."


I guess really in a nutshell what it came down to for me the reason that this wasn't the 5 star read that it seemed to be for so many others was the fact that some parts were just too much, to over done too drawn out...sometimes less is more and in these parts that's what I needed less of them and more of other things like maybe the relationship between Miles and Alexander and their friends. The overall dynamics between Miles and Zia and Alexander, Dylan and Kane were good and the five of them as a group was definitely worthy of more page time in general.


So let's move on to what worked well, first off Miles worked for me as I said not always but when he did I really liked him. He had moments of wit and charm and in his professional life he was definitely a very confident man and I liked that about him when it came through.


Next Zia, truly he was an epic character and I would honestly love a book about him because I have the feeling Zia's story could be superb.  Zia was a bit of a queen at times, he was outspoken, outgoing and just slightly outrageous in general and definitely relationship-phobic tell me you don't want to know what-up-with-that?


Alexander Mackenzie was perfect...but not and I really, really liked him. He's attractive and sexy, confident but not arrogant. I felt like he was a really good balance for Miles and as a couple they worked well in my mind. He knew what he wanted and he wasn't afraid to go after it...or at least he wasn't once his friends Kane and Dylan remind him of all he has to offer and that brings us to Kane and Dylan. We get enough of a peek at these two characters to convince me that they also have stories that need to be told. Especially Kane...I love Kane, he cares not about fashion...Kane's a DJ while Dylan's thing is sports...yes, these two men were like a breath of fresh air.


'In Vogue' is Ms Laurent's first venture in writing and while it definitely had moments for me that were a bit lackluster...I also felt like there were sparks of talent and promise there as well. So 3.5 shining stars for an author with the potential to gift us with 5 shining stars and more.



A copy of 'In Vogue' was received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

A short, sweet surprise for my Monday morning.

Nothing Better - Megan Derr

Well wasn't that just a sweet and sexy way to kill a few minutes. I stumbled across this in my wanderings this morning and while it's been a while since I read 12078803 I definitely remember the story in all it's steamy Megan Derr goodness and needless to say Marcell has no intentions of leaving the town of Midsummer and his sexy men and there's nothing that could even tempt him to consider it, but finding out why certainly was fun.

Dear Author...did you know that when you make me cry...

Enjoy the Dance (Dancing Book 2) - Heidi Cullinan

it's harder for me to read. I was ok for most of this book but it was probably somewhere around the last 25 to 30% that I found myself crying...a lot. Some of my tears were happy tears but there were quite a few sad tears too.


So now that you know how the last part of the book went for me...let's go back to the beginning and see if I can explain to you where and how those tears came to be...


I was a tiny bit hesitant with this one because I saw a couple of reviews that mentioned that this one was 'very political' and the romance played second fiddle to the political and social justice issues (that's right Dani and Jewel, I'ma lookin' at you) and honestly this is all very true and I have to admit sometimes I don't always want things like this in what I'm reading because lately it seems that the evening news has been more than willing to show us the sad and oftentimes tragic results of man's inhumanity to man.


That not everyone shares the same basic rights and freedoms because of sexual orientation, ethnicity, religion or any one of the myriad of reasons that we hear pranced out to justify the bigotry of others is something that I, like so many others, am well aware of but knowing in advance that this was the case I decided I was going to plunge in anyways because it's Heidi Cullinan and it's the next book in her series 'Dancing' and I really, really loved the first book. 


What I found was a story that wrapped itself around my heart. A story that reminded me of what is true and important...

"...The family we make is as valid as the family we're born to. Sometimes it's a thousand times better."

Spenser is a teacher and he arrives home to find a very battered young man named Duon at his door. A young man who is actually waiting for Spenser's neighbor, Tomas. Spenser takes him in without hesitations and looks after him until Tomas arrives home. He sees himself in Duon and without giving it a second thought, he offers to give Duon a home. Tomas wouldn't hesitate to do the same for Duon, if it wasn't for the fact that he's already got his hands full with his own family who depend on him for so much. Tomas can't afford to have his family fall under scrutiny at least not until he can figure out a way to keep his parents in Minnesota with him where they belong. So Duon ends up staying with Spenser but Tomas is determined to help with him as much as possible and it's that determination that helps Tomas find his way past Spenser's carefully constructed barriers. 


The list of what I liked about this book is pretty much endless. Of course I liked...no scrap that I loved both Spenser and Tomas. I liked Duon. Sure he tried to play it cool and make like it was no big deal but having someone like Spenser step up when he needed them and put their faith and trust in him was definitely a bit deal and Duon knew this no matter how cool he tried to play things. Tomas's parents especially his mother were wonderful as were so many of the other secondary characters in this story.


While the first part of this book focused very much on the political and social issues that affected Spenser, Tomas and the people they cared about. I felt that not only was this relevant information but it connected and impacted so much of what happened and what was done as the story progressed.


As I continued to read I realized just how much these issues were connected to the story...to everyone's story. From Spenser and Tomas to Ed and Laurie and this is where I began to cry...I admit I am a WASP (White Anglo Saxon Protestant) I'm heterosexual and I'm Canadian. So I will never know what it's like to fear that someone I love will be taken from me because they weren't born here, I will never have someone tell me that being married to the person I love isn't legal in the eyes of the law or god, I will never be beaten or abused for being who I am. I am lucky...privileged and yes, I do appreciate the fact that while I did nothing to earn or deserve this, it is the life I was given. It is also the reason that this book broke my heart and made me cry because it was a reminder that the life I was given is the life that everyone deserves. 


'Enjoy the Dance' is a book with a very important message about life, about love, about the human spirit and it's ability to rise above whatever the world will throw at it and still dance...

"There's no guarantee in life of anything. Every second is precious. Every breath is a miracle. Every connection is a gift, each drop of joy a treasure..." 


An ARC of 'Enjoy the Dance' was graciously provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.


Another excellent re-read...

Afterimage - Ais, Santino Hassell

This was my second time reading Afterimage and while there were parts of it that were a bit slow for me. It was in many ways every bit as good the second time around as it was the first and this time I got to share the experience with my lovely buddy read partner, Christelle. So basically my original review is still good just add some hugs and huge thank you to Christelle for sharing the experience with me this time around.




I feel like I've gone through a war, train wreck, god I don't know. This was so amazing and yet at the same time so horribly traumatizing. Most of this book left both Sin & Boyd emotionally bare to the world. Surprisingly it was Boyd who ended up earning most of my disappointment and frustration.


Part way through this book it just became so abundantly clear that while he really isn't a selfish person he can be very self absorbed, I mean really Boyd. Kassian? What the hell were you thinking...oh no wait that's the problem you weren't at least not about anything other than yourself and your self perceived needs.


Next is Sin, god he is so incredibly damaged. It astounds me that he can function in any capacity let alone as highly as he does in some areas and I am getting so frustrated with how much people use him, it needs to stop...just...enough already.

I'm not sure what's become of Annabelle and none of my wishes for her are anything nice, she was such an epic failure in spite of everything and then we have dear sweet Vivienne, wow I'm still holding on to that die in a freakin' fire thought for her.


Ryan, oh I do hope this sweet little techno geek gets the chance to spread his wings and explore the world, MLE & I are hoping to have an anime marathon with him before he departs on his travels. It will be of epic proportions and epic fun, his going away party if you will in a cyber sense.


As to the rest of the book especially the ending all I can say is I was going to take a break and read something a little lighter, just a book or two before going back for more, but no I find I have already jumped into the next book, I need to...no I must know what comes next. What can I say this is crack and I apparently am a crack baby.

Sometimes love just ain't enough...

Guns n' Boys: Chokehold (Book 5) (gay dark mafia romance) - K.A. Merikan

I'm sure that a lot of readers enjoy listening to some music while they read I know I do and sometimes the music just happens. That's what occurred for me this time around. 'Chokehold' is the 5th book in K.A. Merikan's Boys 'n Guns series and I have to admit this one started off a little slow for me. I'm not sure why but when I first started reading this book I was worried because I just didn't seem to be feeling that connection that I felt in the previous books...it was actually kind of scary because I really, really like Seth and Dom. These two men are hot and sexy, they're fierce and intense and so far I've found it fairly easy to get wrapped up in their story so just for a bit there at the beginning I was worried that maybe for whatever reason I'd fallen out of love with them. I mean honestly I couldn't imagine it but hey, sometimes these things happen...sometimes...but thankfully, not this time...


It may have taken me a bit to get back into the feel of things but sure enough I did and right about the time that I fell back into this story I realized that my brain was on a continuous loop of an old song by Don Henley and Patty Smyth called 'Sometimes Love Just Ain't Enough' and after listening to it a few times I realized that for this book for me this was Dom and Seth's song.


'Chokehold' definitely delivers all of the action and suspense of the previous books in this series but unlike those books the real threat to Domenico and Seth's relationship is them. Dom and Seth have left the dangers of biker gangs and swamps behind and with Mark, the recent addition to their family in tow they're heading for Mexico and as with any trip nothing ever goes according to plan.


When Dom gets hurt during their border crossing. Things get complicated when Seth tries to take on Dom's role of provider and protector and Dom is unable to do anything to stop him while his injuries heal. Out of desperation Seth takes a job that places him in the cross-hairs of 'The Gravediggers' and at homes things go from bad to worse Dom begins to heal and tempers run short and begin to flair. 


Their love may be as strong as ever but the question becomes is it enough. What happens when harsh words are spoken, feelings are hurt, faith is betrayed and trust is broken...things are said and done that can't be undone or taken back, old wounds are re-opened. How do you come back from that? Neither Seth nor Dom can imagine a life without each other so they're left with the question of how to make a life with each other.


Seth is Dom's light. He's all that is good and right in Dom's world. He's sunshine and innocence and there's nothing that Dom won't do to keep it that way. Dom is Seth's darkness. He's what keeps the ugly side of life at bay. If it will keep Seth safe, if it will keep that light of innocence burning in his eyes and keep the darkness away from his soul then Dom will go there he will do what needs to be done without hesitation.

"I'm honest. I wake up everyday, and I breathe for you." whispered Domenico without shame, because nothing that he said was for anyone else's ears but Seth's.  "And without you my life is losing all of it's color. I'm stuck in a black and white perfume commercial," he said shaking his head. 

The growth that we see from these men as a couple and as individuals was so beautifully done. I freely admit a few tissues were drowned during the reading of this book. Like the song says "sometimes love just ain't enough" but it doesn't mean that it's not a good place to start to find what is. 


'Chokehold may have been a slow start for me but once the pace picked up there was no turning back and while it may not have a title or a release date yet, book #6 is already on my TBR list. If you haven't read the previous books in this series I strongly encourage doing so before reading this one.



An ARC of 'Chokehold' was graciously provided by the authors in exchange for an honest review.



It was a dark and scary...ok, maybe not so much with the scary...

Raven's Rest - Stephen Osborne

I thought 'Raven's Rest' had the makings of a really good story. There's a spark of mystery here a chance for not one but 2 romance stories one set in the present, one tied to the mystery of the past, add in  a bit of starting over, a bit of comfort and emotional healing, a ghost or two or three and I'm thinking this has the makings of one incredibly good read...at least it seemed to in the beginning.


Somehow what seemed to me like it would be a story filled with awesomeness turned out to be ok...yeah, that's what it was just ok. Sadly the mystery from the past was a little on the obvious side and I have liked for the author to make us work a little harder to figure things out. 


Michael Cook has gone to the small town of Banning to start his life over and escape Kevin, his ex who is controlling and emotionally abusive. He checks into the Raven's Rest and within a day of being in Banning he finds out about Coleman Hollis who is a ghost that haunts the Raven's Rest looking for his lover who happens to look just like Michael.


Venturing out to explore his new surroundings Michael stops at the local coffee shop for breakfast where he meets Trey an attractive musician who also works at the coffee shop when he's not writing music, he also gets a job at said coffee shop which just happens to be owned by Trey's mother. Michael's having one busy day. 


Needless to say Trey is gay and he and Michael are attracted to each other, thankfully though it's not a case of insta-love, lust maybe and hey they're young it's allowed. Except for the fact that for someone who's supposedly just left an abusive relationship that lasted for 5 years Michael doesn't seem to have any lingering issues or insecurities from it and while this wasn't what I would call a case of insta-love things seemed to be happening awfully damned fast and for me the connections just didn't quite happen.


As for our ghost Coleman Hollis and his missing lover. This was the part of the story that I liked the best. Their story was heartbreaking and sadly it was also believable. I liked Coleman, I know he's a ghost but his love for his missing lover, Bryan, felt real and strong. His determination to find him was one of the parts of this story that I was able to connect with. So for me Coleman was a very positive part of this story. 


So what started out as potentially a really great story just didn't quite hit the mark for me. Some things were too predictable, some things needed more filling out and some needed less...but at the end of it all I'm left with a story that worked out ok and in spite of the fact that it didn't meet my expectations I also know that previous books that I've read by this author make me believe that the potential could still be there and if there's something more happening at the Raven's Rest in the future I may give this one more try. 



An ARC of "Raven's Rest" was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


Excuse me can I get some more stars over here...please?

Overexposed - Megan Erickson

'Overexposed' is book 4 in Megan Erickson's 'Focus' series and I have to admit as it turns out it's also my favorite in the series which I realize is not a very obvious thing considering that for me they've all been 5 star reads but trust me until now if I had to name a favorite for this series it would have been 'Focus on Me' Colin and Riley's story. I loved that one and I still do but 'Overexposed' wormed it's way into my heart and so far it's refusing to leave. 


It's about Levi, who we met in book 3 'Out of Frame' and who we get to see is so much more than his reality show character, it's about Thad who Levi meets as he walks the Appalachian Trail in memory of his sister who was suppose to walk it with him and instead came home with a flag draped over her coffin. It's about how these two men see each other and find themselves drawn together as each man tries to find the person they want to be, the person who has gotten buried in the crush of lifes pressures and demands. 

"Because that's just not me, " he answered quickly, "...That wasn't what I was to you, and it was so fucking refreshing. I was just a guy who you hiked with. And you seemed to like me just for who I was. Which was crazy to me, because I wasn't sure there was much of me left.."

As Levi and Thad continue hiking the AT getting to know each other their attraction grows. Levi likes to talk, Thad likes to listen, Levi likes cake, Thad likes pie, Thad likes to look at the moon, Levi thinks it looks like cheese.  Levi needs rescuing, Thad rescues him...more than once. These two men fit. Their hearts wrap around each other effortlessly until Levi is confronted with the knowledge of what Thad's been trying to escape.


When an unexpected emergency forces Levi to return home Thad goes with him determined to be there to be the strength and support that Levi has felt from him since they first met. Thrown back into the real world Thad and Levi continue to explore their feelings. But it's when Thad leaves that Levi has to face the tough question and determine how much his heart can take.

Because I love you, Levi. I love you so much that I can’t deal with seeing you look at me with pain. I don’t want you to have to see me walk away and wonder if I’ll come back.

Start to finish I loved this story and while my head knows that this is a delightful, well crafted work of fiction. My heart ached and I cried more than once as I read. I gave this one 5 stars because that's all they let me give but truthfully this one gets the stars and the moon from me.


An ARC of "Overexposed" was graciously provided by the publisher via Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

Reality tv so not my thing...

Out of Frame - Megan Erickson

J. R. Butler is one of the stars of the reality show Trip League and they're taking their celebratory cruise as their season comes to a close. Quinn Mathers is having a last hurrah with his best friend Jess as 4 hard years of college come to a close. It's just suppose to be one big happy party for everyone.


I have to admit I'm not a fan of reality television and for the most part college age and younger MCs also not my thing, but my rules aren't cast in stone either so I can be flexible. I've read the first two books in this series 'Trust the Focus' and 'Focus on Me' and I really enjoyed them so I was more than willing to check this one out as well and so very glad I did. 


There was  lot about this story that I liked to start with the MCs Quinn has always followed the rules and done what's expected of him and J.R. or Jay as his family calls him has found himself trapped in a situation that he's becoming increasingly uncomfortable with and the more he encounters Quinn the more he questions how much longer he can keep up the pretense of hiding who he really is. I loved the attraction between these two. It was start and stop and a bit of touch and go but given all the obstacles that they had I honestly didn't expect things to be different. 


There were a lot of other things that I liked about this story so many of the secondary characters Jess, Levi and yes, even Casey ended up being more than he seemed at first. It was nice to see some of the characters from the previous books Colin and Riley at the beginning and again along with Justin and Landry in the epilogue (which was really yummy icing on the cake by the way).


Now, I'm going take a minute to talk about the parental units because I tend to like to do that and truthfully this time it's not to rant or say how disappointed/frustrated/whatever that I am with the representation of parents...nope, it's because I loved them...both sets of parents were a win with me.


Admittedly Quinn's parents weren't perfect and maybe that's a big part of why I liked them. Being a parent isn't about being perfect it's about doing your best and giving your children that unconditional love that every child deserves from us as parents, but it's also about knowing when to let go, to have faith that what you did in raising your child(ren) was enough. I questioned whether this would happen for Quinn but it did and for me there was a touch of reality to it that...well, truthfully, made my chest feel a little tight and my heart ache for a bit because I remember that feeling. The one where you hope that as a parent you were enough, you did a good job but you realize that it's time to let go. So while it was a very small part of the book the scene where Quinn tells his parents what he's decided for his future was definitely one of my favorite parts.


Next we have Jay's parents very different from Quinn's but just as warm and real. So yeah, one of the things I really liked about this book was that there were no crappy parents but there weren't those parents that make the rest of us feel like we'll just never measure up either. There were just 2 sets of parents who loved their kids and did the best they could with what they had and who they were...just like what often happens out in the real world.


You probably don't need to read the first two books to enjoy this one but seriously, why read one awesome story when you can read 3?


Ironically I started out giving this book 4 stars and as I was writing my review I realized that I loved and enjoyed this book every bit as much as the first two so I'm changing that now and just like the first two books this one gets 5 fully focused stars because I can't think of one valid reason why it shouldn't. 

Sometimes neither time nor distance can change the course of true love...

Gambling On Love - Jane Davitt

'Gambling on Love' was originally released back on 2011 and I didn't read the first edition so I'm not sure what the changes between it and this second edition are besides the cover and can i say I do like this cover it's definitely the more attractive of the two in my opinion.


This is a second chance story about Abe (Abel, but don't call him that he doesn't like it) and Gary or Fox as Abe tends to call him from time to time and yes, he is a ginger but that's not where the nickname comes from or at least not entirely. Apparently it's because he's too smart for his own good and that makes people wary of him.


Abe and Gary are best friends and during their senior year in high school they figure out that they both want more than friendship and that's all well and good until they get caught in the locker room by Abe's coach he gets an eyeful of how much more than friends they are. Unfortunately when it comes time to face the music Gary decides to pack up and leave without so much as a 'see you later' for Abe who stays and faces the music on his own and eventually settles into the comfortable and safe life he's makes for himself. A life very different from Gary, who has spent the last few years they're apart with Peter an older very dominant and controlling man who has shows Gary a very different world from the one he grew up in.


It's 11 years later when Gary finds himself heading towards his past and quite literally by accident back into Abel's life as he sets out to fulfill Peter's last request following the man's untimely death 


Needless to say while Abe's never stopped loving Gary he's also a little bit angry at how things ended and Gary's got some issues of  his own from that time as well.


One of the things that worked for me was the the emotional roller coaster ride that these two men went on when they encountered each other for the first time after their 11 year separation. It was a case of 'come here, come here, no get away, get away' and I could see that because out of the blue you find yourself confronted with your first love and the first person to ever break your heart add to that the fact that neither man ever really got over the other and I know if that was me it would be roller coaster time. There was more than one instance of 'get out of my life but I'm never letting you go again' totally conflicted feelings on both sides.


However while this worked for me and I could see how and why things would be this way I didn't quite feel it. I didn't have any gut wrenching moments where I felt like all that mattered was these two men getting things worked out. The sex was hot, undeniably so but I didn't find myself squirming in my chair or heading for a cold shower and the ending had a bit of predictability to it not in terms of exactly what would happen but more in that it would go in the direction that it did. In spite of this I liked the specifics of how things ended up the way they did and given what we knew about Peter from Gary's account it make sense to me as well, so for me it worked.


'Gambling on Love' isn't my first book by Jane Davitt and I have to admit it's didn't turn out to be one of my favorites because that spot still belongs to her series 'Laying a Ghost' and her books 'Hourglass' and 'Truthful Change' but it was an enjoyable story that kept me entertained for a few hours and that's never a bad thing either.



A copy of 'Gambling on Love' was graciously provided by the publisher via Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

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