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★★★★ Stripped Bare by Susan Mac Nicol ★★★★

This was a great story. I loved the emotional warmth, the wonderful leading men and all of the interesting drama. If you’re interested, don’t forget to check out the Book Trailer at the bottom of this post.

Stripped BareStripped Bare by Susan Mac Nicol

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Blurb…

After two years, Matthew Langer is still getting over the death of a loved one. He’s steered clear of serious relationships, but when he meets the irascible, dirty mouthed and tempestuous Shane Templar that decision has never been harder. Shane is sexy, warm and funny, and Matthew finds himself trying like hell not to care about him. Especially when Shane, with his quick wit and hacking skills, is quick to stand up for justice and avenge wrongs. Then Shane strikes at the wrong target, and Matthew realises just how far gone he already is. At the threat of losing for good yet another man who’s broken through his armour, Matthew finds his heart stripped bare. He must face the demons of his soul or a future without love.

So what did I think?

This is a story that perfectly blends drama and romance and keeps the action going at a fairly rapid pace! The relationship is full of ups and downs – immense passion interspersed with arguments and fall-outs – and the drama keeps on coming – assaults, computer hacking, threats, computer hacking…

We are introduced to Shane while he is providing an escort service to David. They have met a couple of times before but only for an escort service without any sex (Shane is picky with who he gets involved with). But this changes and they end up in a hotel room together. After their encounter, David receives a phone call from his father and is obviously very fearful and upset. David is the son of a wealthy business man who is a homophobic jerk and threatens David.

After David leaves, Shane is concerned for him and tries to contact him without success, eventually finding out he is in the hospital. My question is why Shane was so concerned about David after what had happened between them. I don’t think this was fully explained or else Shane must be a very accepting/forgiving man! He visits the hospital and meets Matthew, David’s father’s lawyer. This is the start of a relationship between Shane and Matthew.

Shane is a little bit wild and gets up to some mischief that gets him into some trouble. But his heart is really in the right place and he falls hard for Matthew. Matthew is more controlled with tragedy in his past. He finds it hard to put himself out there and open his heart.

Together these men are wonderful and they certainly heat things up between the sheets (and everywhere else!). The sex scenes threatened to be a little too many but then I decided I enjoyed them so much that they suited the story perfectly!

There is much to be resolved in the story – David’s father’ actions and treats, Shane’s problems with his family, Matthew coming to terms with his own personal tragedy and finally Shane and Matthew trusting each other enough to love. It is an emotional journey with some really sweet and tender moments.

“Babe, you call me all upset and say you need me. I would have run twice the distance just to get here for you, to hear you say that.” Shane to Matthew.

“You drive me crazy. You’re bloody cheeky, you’re a maverick, and you never bloody listen to anyone. You do what you think is best, all the time. You also care so much about people – it’s what I love about you. I love the way you smell, the way you look, the way you make me feel.” Matthew to Shane

Of course I loved to see Matthew finally proclaiming his love but I think my other favourite part was Shane’s father’s response to seeing him with Matthew. “God, you two are incredible together,” he whispered, his face pale. “How could I ever think this wasn’t right?”

So all in all, a great story with emotional warmth, wonderful leading men and lots of interesting drama!

4 Stars

Check out the Book Trailer!

For more information on Susan Mac Nicol and her books visit her website.

Buy Stripped Bare from Amazon.

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☂☂ Raining Men by Rick R. Reed ☂☂

Both the Chaser books, Chaser and Raining Men, were books that I was not sure I was going to like but for every different reasons: Chaser because of it’s interesting ‘chubby chaser’ theme and Raining Men because of my feelings towards the main character based on the experience of the first book. Luckily I enjoyed both immensely!

The Chaser series:

  • Chaser (Book #1) Click to check out my review of Chaser
  • Raining Men (Book #2) – in this review

Raining Men (Chaser, #2)Raining Men by Rick R. Reed

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

4 Stars

The Blurb…

The character you loved to hate in Chaser becomes the character you will simply love in Raining Men.

It’s been raining men for most of Bobby Nelson’s adult life. Normally, he wouldn’t have it any other way, but lately something’s missing. Now, he wants the deluge to slow to a single special drop. But is it even possible for Bobby to find “the one” after endless years of hooking up?

When Bobby’s father passes away, Bobby finally examines his rocky relationship with the man and how it might have contributed to his inability to find the love he yearns for. Guided by a sexy therapist, a Sex Addicts Anonymous group, a well-endowed Chihuahua named Johnny Wadd, and Bobby’s own cache of memories, Bobby takes a spiritual, sexual, and emotional journey to discover that life’s most satisfactory love connections lie in quality, not quantity. And when he’s ready to love not only himself but someone else, sex and love fit, at last, into one perfect package

So what did I think?

Bobby did some pretty terrible things in Chaser, treating his best friend really poorly. So poorly that I thought he would really struggle to redeem himself in my eyes. However, Raining Men provides insight that really allows us to see deep inside Bobby to better understand why he did the things he did.

We get quite a different perspective of Bobby in this book. Originally he is portrayed as a really good looking guy who can get anyone he wants and he only settles for the best and most gorgeous guys. But in reality he has deep issues manifesting in a destructive sex addiction which results in him taking on nearly anyone and anything.

The first half of the story really focuses on Bobby and his behaviour, the men he hooks up with and his first attempts at getting help. A family tragedy also gets him thinking about his upbringing and his father. Plus he continues to dwell on how he betrayed Caden, wanting to make amends. It isn’t exactly an enjoyable read, more an emotional journey where I really started to feel Bobby’s pain.

There are two key men who come into Bobby’s life, both of whom understand his issues, have been there themselves and can offer support and empathy. During the second half of the book, Bobby starts to explore a new relationship but continues to face heart-break and rejection.

What made this story great for me were the changes in Bobby, the idea that you can change the way you live your life, that there are such things as forgiveness and second chances and ultimately that everyone deserves love.

The book starts with Bobby dreaming to the song “It’s Raining Men” by Martha Wash and the Weather Girls so I thought I would end with the song!

For more information about Rick R. Reed and his books visit his website.

Buy Raining Men from Amazon

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★★★★★ To Catch A Fox by Geoffrey Knight & Ethan Day ★★★★★

I have some good news and some bad news. The good news is that this book is fantastic! The bad news is that it makes you desperately want to read the second book which isn’t available yet!

The Knight and Day Fox Mystery series

  • To Catch A Fox (book #1) – in this review
  • A Fox In the Hole (book #2)

To Catch A Fox (Fox Mysteries, #1)To Catch A Fox by Geoffrey Knight & Ethan Day

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Blurb…

Sex. Murder. Blackmail. Revenge. Life in the Big Easy can be a real bitch.

Meet Jon Fox, a sexy New Orleans private detective with more family secrets than even he knows about. But his latest case is about to bring more to the swampy surface than Fox himself could ever have guessed—

A polite old lady with a plot to murder a stranger;
A mother whose secret sent her insane;
An uncle with complete control over the family empire;
A father whose suicide might once again tear his family apart;
And a hot, handsome, clueless blond with a knack for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Yes, meet Jon Fox.  A New Orleans private detective whose complicated life…just got a little more complex.

So what did I think?

This book opens like a blockbuster action movie as our hero, Jon Fox, has to outsmart a crazy women with a gun, avoid alligators and survive explosions. It sets the pace for the rest of book which is filled with mystery and murder.

Fox was the heir to his family fortune but the loss of everyone close to him had driven him to despair. His life had spiraled out of control into one of parties, drink and trouble with only his Uncle Mason to rule over the family empire and clean up the messes left by Fox. That is, until Fox resorts to doing something that even he can’t live with and changes his ways. He is now working as a Private Investigator and basically up to his eyeballs in a different kind of trouble.

I liked Jon. On the exterior he is not very friendly and he is definitely tough and rough.  He trades sexual favours with a wide network of contacts who provide him with information (it sure is handy being friends with a cop who like taking it over his desk while in handcuffs!) . He is about the quick and the dirty. But underneath there is something quite appealing about him.

Fox is working on a case which leads to him meeting Tucker. There is an immediate physical attraction which neither man deny however they are kept pretty busy avoiding the bad guys, whether it is dodging bullets, escaping handcuffs, fist fights, the list goes on….There is a huge amount of action and an equal amount of humour. The banter between Fox and Tucker is what really makes the book.

Shortly following an explosion..
“Are you okay?”
“What?” Tucker shouted back, trying to wring out his ear with one finger.
“I said, are you okay? Fox shouted back.
“Of course I’m gay!” Tucker yelled. “For a detective you pick the strangest times to ask the most idiotic questions.”

Along with action and some very sizzling sex, there is mystery. The case involves a mysterious old lady, a unknown man and links to both Tucker’s and Fox’s families. There are twists and turns and surprises which keep you guessing right to the end.

The ending…arghh! So frustrating but in a good way I think. Maybe, maybe not? The ending would be easier to deal with if the second book was available now! It is not a HEA and not really even a HFN, at least in the romance stakes. The mystery is largely solved and everyone is alive and safe, at least for now. What we really get at the end is the perfect set up for the next book. We know evil and trouble is on it’s way and neither Jon Fox or Tucker Wilder are safe for much longer!

I contacted one of  the authors to find out when A Fox In The Hole will be released. They had hoped for later this year but it will most likely be early 2014.

Finally thanks to Wilde City Press for providing a copy of this book in return for an honest review.

5 Stars

To find out more about Geoffrey Knight and his books visit his Goodreads profile.

To find out more about Ethan Day and his books visit his website.

By To Catch A Fox from Amazon.

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Legal Artistry (Bottled Up #5) by Andrew Grey

The Bottled Up series by Andrew Grey consists of 8 books which are centred around a group of friends who live in the same town. Each time I choose to pick up a new book in the series and start reading, it is like going to visit old friends – safe and warm and comfortable.

Make sure to check out the Book Trailer below!

Reading Order

  • The Best Revenge (book #1)
  • Bottled Up (book #2)
  • Uncorked (book #3)
  • An Unexpected Vintage (book #4)
  • Legal Artistry (book #5) – in this review
  • Artistic Appeal (book #6)
  • Artistic Pursuits (book #7)
  • Legal Tender (book #8)

Legal Artistry (Bottled Up, #5)Legal Artistry by Andrew Grey

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Blurb…

Years ago, Dieter Krumpf’s grandmother died and left him everything, including a photo album containing pictures of the art collection she left behind when her family fled the Nazis. Now, Dieter is calling on the services of a lawyer, Gerald Young, to determine whether his family’s legacy might be returned to him.

Gerald doesn’t hold out much hope that the paintings will be returned, but Dieter’s earnestness speaks to him and he agrees to help. At first he concludes that while Dieter has a case, suing in Austria isn’t practical. But Gerald is a good lawyer, and as his feelings for Dieter develop, so does his determination to win the case. Together, Gerald and Dieter navigate research, hearings, and a dysfunctional family in the pursuit of fine art—and discover the art of love along the way.

So what did I think?

I go into the books in this series with eyes wide open, hoping and knowing that I am going to get a sweet story with warm and loving characters and a totally happy ending. Admittedly I need to be in the mood but when I need a comfort read, I can turn to Andrew Grey with confidence.

Apart from a brief bit of confusion in the first chapter or so, when I realised the story had jumped ahead 3 years, this book delivered exactly what I expected and was a nice, gentle read.

The story centres around Dieter, a young man who was raised by his grandmother but who is now all alone in the world. He is a quiet, gentle man with a passion for dancing but is very inexperienced with relationships.

When Dieter finds out that paintings belonging to his family were confiscated by the Nazis and now reside in a museum, he engages a law firm to assist in getting them back. Gerald is assigned to the case and the two men hit is off immediately.

The story weaves the romance together with the details of the legal processes being undertaken to bring back the artworks, including the two men traveling to Austria. All the background information about the war, the family and the artist plus the legal intricacies could have bogged the story down but I actually found it quite interesting. I assume the author did an awful lot of research to provide the facts here, but even if he didn’t, it felt really believable and fact based.

The romance between Dieter and Gerald is interesting. Dieter is innocent and adorable in Gerald’s eyes, not his usual type but he is immediately drawn to him. The sex scenes are interesting as Dieter is shy and blushing, reluctant to say what he wants but he wants it all – there is quite a bit of passion! The only issue I had with the sex was the pillow talk afterwards which kept returning to the court case – it was too business-like and a bit strange given that it was usually instigated by Dieter who was also concerned that “he was just a case to Gerald.”

Gerald has his own issues with his family and finds himself facing up against his older brother. This case becomes an opportunity for him to make a name for himself and show his brother and father what he is made of.

The tension in the story is provided by outside influences, with Dieter and Gerald largely getting on, apart from some minor worries from Dieter. And of course there is the happy ending that I always knew was coming!

4 Stars

For more information on Andrew Grey and his books, check out his website.

I have also reviewed some of his more recent books: A Wild Ride and Organic Chemistry and In Search of A Story.

Buy the Bottled up series from Amazon

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The Second Chances series by Susan Laine

The Second Chances Series – an enjoyable series with an injection of humour – a fun, quick read

  • Twice by Chance (book #1)
  • Accidental Chemistry (book #2)

Twice by Chance (Second Chances, #1)Twice by Chance by Susan Laine

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Blurb…

As a teenager, Addy Monroe had a life-changing experience-although technically the “experience” was happening to someone else in the steamed-up backseat of the taxi stuck in traffic next to him. Six years later, at a club in LA, Addy meets rock singer Zak Roscoe-the man who unwittingly taught him who he is-and gets a shot at experiencing Zak for himself. A private and guarded person, Zak finds Addy’s determined advances both annoying and intriguing, and he allows himself to be seduced for a night of pleasure. Unfortunately, some old habits die hard: Zak’s postcoital nature leaves something to be desired, and Addy quickly realizes that sometimes fantasy and reality don’t have much in common. If wishes were second chances….

So what did I think?

The beginning of this book set up for an interesting scenario as 15 year old Addy witnesses two men making out in the back of a cab which confirms he definitely likes men! The scene, and eye contact with the man in the back of the cab, makes such an impact on the young Addy, that he can’t forget and fantasises about the man for years. Eventually Addy runs into Zak and gets to enjoy the man in person.

While an enjoyable story, this was a difficult relationship to believe. Zak is not exactly likable – he is avoids relationships and treats Addy poorly after their one night stand. But Addy is persistent and keeps chipping away at Zak. This is the part where I struggled as I couldn’t fully understand why Addy was interested in Zak, why he wanted the second chance.

Zak is ‘no good at relationships’ but Addy gets under his skin and eventually he can’t deny his feelings. While I wanted them to have a happy ending, and eventually Zak does open up to Addy, it feels more HFN, with not enough insight into the relationship to really believe it will last the long haul.

3 Stars

Accidental Chemistry (Second Chances, #2)Accidental Chemistry by Susan Laine

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Blurb...

Zane Roscoe’s evil day job at a musical instrument store is supposed to teach him responsibility. What he really wants is the fun, excitement, and artistic challenge of being a musician. Joshua Norton is in college, training to become a pharmaceutical chemist, and he is Zane’s complete opposite: introverted, intellectual, and quiet. When the two meet at a gay night club, their relationship begins with a case of mistaken identity and a wounded ego.

They try talking but stumble over one miscommunication after another. So Zane decides they better stick to sex—except a series of bumbling disasters, accidents big and small, and minor mishaps leads to frustration. Afterward, Zane wants to apologize for his behavior. But Joshua ran, and finding him turns into a test of character, as does earning Joshua’s forgiveness. Can they find the new beginning they need for a second chance at love?

So what did I think?

It was great to find this story focused on Zak’s (from Twice by Chance) little brother Zane.

The story was sweet as Zane and Joshua commence a relationship filled with accidents and incidents – basically anything that can go wrong, does go wrong. There is no real relationship development, more just these guys trying to have a successful sexual encounter without mishap! However they do seem to have an opposites attract chemistry.

There are definitely moments of cuteness and this makes a fun quick read.

I also like books that contain songs. This one includes “Who Will Love Me Now?” by PJ Harvey. Zane’s band plays the song and Joshua sings “And his voice was divine, echoing such mournful tones and painful longing that I felt my fingers slip and miss a few chords because I couldn’t take my eyes off him. Never had I seen or heard anything as beautiful as Joshua singing, his voice growing stronger and more confident as the song went on.”

 

To find out more about Susan Laine and her books visit her website.

Buy the Second Chances series from Amazon.

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★★★★ The Good Boy by Lisa Henry & J.A. Rock ★★★★

I finally got around to reading The Good Boy which has been sitting on the Kindle for ages – and I’m REALLY glad I did!

The Boy Series

  • The Good Boy (book #1) – in this review
  • The Naughty Boy (book #1.5)

The Good BoyThe Good Boy by Lisa Henry

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Blurb…

Introverted college student Lane Moredock is in a bad place. His mother has been arrested for securities fraud, his father is on the run, and everyone, including the SEC, suspects Lane knows where the missing millions are. Lane, with no money and nowhere to live, makes a desperate deal that lands him in trouble and leaves him unwilling to trust a so-called Dom again.

Photographer Derek Fields lost money to the Moredocks, and is as sure as anyone that Lane is guilty despite his claims. A chance meeting with Lane shows him there might be something more to the young man than arrogance and privilege, and Derek wonders if Lane might be just what he’s been looking for: a sub with the potential to be a life partner.

As Lane slowly begins to open up to Derek and explore his needs as a submissive, the investigation closes tighter around him. Lane might be everything that Derek wants, but first Derek needs to trust that Lane is innocent—and Lane needs to trust Derek with the truth.

So what did I think?

I didn’t read the blurb, or if I did it was ages ago because this one has been sitting on the Kindle for a while, but perhaps due to my experience with the author’s (Lisa Henry) other work, I expected this to be darker and different type of story. I didn’t expect the heartbreak and sadness and definite emotional pull of The Good Boy.

That’s not to say that it still doesn’t have it’s darker moments as it absolutely does. It is heart wrenching to watch Lane suffer at the hands of a so-called family friend and have his misplaced trust abused. His experiences are horrendous, from the emotional desertion of his family and the physical and psychological impacts of his abuse.

Lane Moredock is extremely shy and finds himself under immense pressure as his mother is arrested for securities fraud and his father is on the run. He is accused of knowing more than he does (which is nothing) and held accountable for his parent’s actions. Under scrutiny, hounded by the press and hated by many, he is abandoned and alone. That is, until Derek offers the first gesture of support.

This is a story of trust and acceptance. Derek has been the victim of Lane’s parents scheme. Lane’s inability to tell him the truth plus Lane’s own feelings of guilt, largely mean that Derek needs to trust his own instincts about Lane. Lane bears a terrible burden, believing he deserved everything that happened to him, believing his own desires and willingness to submit were ‘asking for it’.

It was wonderful to watch the journey as Lane slowly started to heal with the tender care and support of Derek. There ware some obvious parallels in the story as Derek’s sister runs an animal shelter and Lane befriends an extremely shy dog and brings it out of it’s shell.

I found the sex scenes to be beautifully written, conveying the emotion of each man. Their interactions were based on respect and honoring their desires. Things more very slowly for Lane and ramp up a little as his trust builds but not to the extent of anything heavy. There is some puppy play but once again, this is just a gentle use of collar and leash, and doesn’t move much further.

There are some lighter moments in the book with an interesting cast of secondary characters including Brin, Derek’s ex-sub who is now with Ferg (book 1.5 The Naughty Boy provides a little more about Brin and Ferg, relating one of the incidents touched on in this book) plus Derek’s sister and mother.

Overall, quite an emotional story but with a happy ending.

4 Stars

To find out more about Lisa Henry and her books visit her website.

To ind out more about J.A. Rock and her books visit her Goodreads author profile.

Buy The Good Boy from Amazon

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★★★★★ Blindside by N.R. Walker ★★★★★

I enjoyed this book even more than the first two books in the series and I really enjoyed those.

There are lots of reasons why I adored this book but even if I hadn’t, I think I would have given it 5 stars anyway, just for the cover. There is something that really appeals to me with this one and I think it might be one of my all time favourite covers. The smile lights up his whole face and conveys so much emotion! However, the story is good too!

The Blind Faith series

Blindside (Blind Faith, #3)Blindside by N.R. Walker

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Blurb…

Mark Gattison has avoided love and commitment his entire adult life. Not interested in more than a one night stand or a brief encounter in a bathroom stall, he is the epitome of a good time.

Will Parkinson is the guy who defends him, the guy who puts up with him, the guy Mark calls his best friend.

When Will becomes unsettled and a little distant, Mark takes it upon himself to find Will a boyfriend. Not familiar with the concept himself, Mark thinks Will needs someone to make him happy.

What Mark doesn’t know, is that he’s about to get blindsided. He’s about to get knocked off his feet by the one thing that’s been right in front of him the entire time.

So what did I think?

We first met Mark in Blind Faith where he was the loyal and funny bi-sexual best friend of Carter. Carter moved away and is now in a very happy relationship with Isaac so Mark has a new best friend.

Will is a work colleague and Mark’s constant companion and when Mark notices that Will is unhappy he tries to remedy the situation. Mark fears commitment himself but thinks a boyfriend is just what Will needs to make him happy and anchor him to the town.

What follows is a journey that is sometimes funny, sometimes sweet and sometimes painful. Mark is blind to what he has in Will and it is definitely one of those books where you wish you could just shake the character to open his eyes to what should be so obvious!

I loved the dialogue between Mark and Will. Their conversation was so natural flowing and filled with cute and amusing banter. They make a great couple and it is obvious to everyone except Mark!

The other characters in this book are also wonderful with Mark’s mother a particular favourite…
“Why can’t you date Will?”
“Mom, we’ve been through this.”
“Or someone like him. There has to be a boy out there that’s cute and nice…and hung.”
“No, seriously. Why can’t you whine at me about finding a nice girl, getting married, having the picket fence and two-point-four kids like all the normal mothers.”
“Because I’m not a normal mother, and you’re not a normal son.”

It is nice to see Carter and Issac make an appearance. They offer support to Mark once he finally realises he is losing Will. One of the highlights of the book was Mark’s physical manifestation of a broken heart. Shortly after follows my favourite scene (you know that scene in a book that makes it worthwhile reading the book just for that one moment?)
[ I love Mark snuggled under the covers, wallowing in his heartache, finally admitting he would do anything for Will, only to find out it is Will sitting on the edge of the bed – so sweet! (hide spoiler)]

Wonderful characters, sweet story, lots of love and laughter and a fabulous happy ending!

5 Stars

To find out more about N.R. Walker and her books, visit her blog or check out her profile on Goodreads.

Buy Blindside from Amazon

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★★★★ The Truth about Riley by Henrietta Clarke ★★★★

This book is gorgeous. It is a heart-felt story of how one man’s love finally convinces another of his beauty.

The Truth about RileyThe Truth about Riley by Henrietta Clarke

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The blurb…

Riley Aylworth’s life has been completely devoid of intimate contact since a fire three years ago left him with horrific facial scarring, so when he finds an ad for a phone sex service, he decides to give it a call. Except that the number is not a phone sex service—it’s the revenge Cameron Kirkwood’s ex-boyfriend took on the uptight advertising executive after Cam forgot their anniversary and accidentally put him in the hospital. Needless to say, after thirty-nine disturbing calls seeking phone sex, Cameron is at the end of his tether and yells at his fortieth caller. What he doesn’t expect is for Riley to hit redial and yell right back.

The argument helps both Cameron and Riley vent about their issues, and when they’ve calmed down, they decide to exchange numbers and talk again. From this decision springs a friendship that, over time, grows into a gentle romance—all over the phone, because Riley is too scared to meet Cam in person. Showing a potential boyfriend his disfigured face is the fastest way to get rejected, right? Even a month of scorching hot phone sex can’t change his mind, no matter how hard Cam tries to persuade him that with their phone chemistry, the sex would be so much better in person.

Meanwhile, Cam is haunted by the scarred blond he seems to be seeing everywhere, and Riley can’t get the handsome brunet who always seems happy to see him out of his mind. It’s a shock to both men to realise that the guy they’re falling for over the phone is also the man who brightens their day with just a smile; but it’s one thing to let a stranger smile at you and quite another to let him close enough to see into your soul. If Riley can’t break down the walls in his mind and believe that Cameron loves him in spite of his scars, their relationship may be doomed before they’ve even had a chance to kiss.

So what did I think?

This book is gorgeous. It is a heart-felt story of how one man’s love finally convinces another of his beauty.

Through a series of telephone conversations and over a period of months, Cameron and Riley share their thoughts and feelings and develop a deep connection. It is so easy to like both Cameron and Riley. Through conversations we learn that both men are intelligent and witty and kind.

But Riley is a haunted by his own face in the mirror and can’t believe anyone would be able to see past his scars. It is so sad and heartbreaking to read of him referring to himself as a monster. However this made it even more beautiful when Riley finally starts to understand how Cameron sees him…“You’re just the same as everyone else, Cam’s voice said in his head. You’re not a freak, not an outcast. You just need to find the right person to walk through life with. Your load may be heavier, but you don’t have to carry it alone.”

I appreciated the slow journey of the relationship, sure it was frustrating for the two to take so long to meet, but it made their final getting together so much more meaningful.

There are some very special romantic moments in the story and some beautiful ‘firsts’ – first touch, first kiss – but the most romantic element to me was towards the end of the book where Cam used songs to send special messages to Riley, messages about love, support and inner beauty.

Here are the songs if you are interested before reading the book.

The ending was wonderful as the trust and love shown by Cameron ensures Riley finally realises the truth and what is really important to him.

The author closes the book with mention of a continuation of Cam and Riley’s story in 2014 so something to look forward to! Yes, I would like to see more of them, particularly as they are now actually in the same room together! But I do feel that this book can be read very much as a standalone. The ending didn’t leave me feeling that anything was missing or unresolved.

4 Stars

To find out more about Henrietta Clarke and her books visit her website.

Buy The Truth About Riley from Amazon.

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Sweet Young Thang (Theta Alpha Gamma #3) by Anne Tenino

The third book in the series, Sweet Young Thang lives up to it’s name! Collin is young and sweet. Eric is wonderful. The age difference is fabulous!  Add some mystery and drama to the romance and it all adds up to a great story!

The Theta Alpha Gamma series

  • Frat Boy and Toppy (Book #1)
  • Love,  Hypothetically(Book #2)
  • Sweet Young Thang (Book #3) – in this review

Sweet Young Thang (Theta Alpha Gamma, #3)Sweet Young Thang by Anne Tenino

My rating: 3.5  of 5 stars

The Blurb…

Thanks to Collin Montes, Theta Alpha Gamma now welcomes gay and bisexual students. Persuading his Uncle Monty, president of the TAG Alumni Association, that the open approach won’t adversely affect TAG’s reputation is Collin’s own first step toward coming out. As long as there are no repercussions, he’ll escape the closet by graduation.

Enter repercussions, stage left: someone rigs the TAG House water heater to launch through the ceiling, then plants a bomb—thankfully unsuccessful—in the fraternity’s basement. Now Collin has his hands full not only trying to convince his uncle that this might not be the work of homophobes, but also dealing with a fratful of brothers worried about their kegger fridge.

Paramedic Eric Dixon can’t stop thinking about the kid he met during a call at his former college fraternity house. The age gap between them is trumped by sexy eyes, so when Eric sees Collin again at the bomb scene, he pursues him. Soon, Eric is dreaming of being a househusband, fighting to keep Collin safe from whoever’s trying to destroy the fraternity, and helping his sweet young thang realize that repercussions sometimes have silver linings.

So what did I think?

I was looking forward to revisiting Theta Alpha Gamma and spending some time with the boys. I was so pleased to discover a story involving a relationship with an age difference.

Eric is immediately attracted to Collin but doubts his own reaction. “Besides, he was thirty-six and he had no business jonesing after a twenty-year-old kid who may or may not even be gay. Lecherous old fart.”. What I did find interesting was a repeated mention of the age difference as the relationship was announced to various friends, colleagues and family but no really obvious concern or fall out. There was just acceptance, including from Collin himself. The age difference also didn’t appear that obvious in how the men behaved – perhaps this was because Collin seemed quite mature (particularly compared to some of the other TAG boys) and he was confident in how he related to Eric.

I loved the way Eric was described, prematurely greying and losing his abs, and not just as a totally buff paramedic. Don’t get me wrong, he was obviously hot and sexy, particularly to Collin, but there was a sense of realism and also a relationship built on emotional attraction as well.

What didn’t work for me so well was the speed of the relationship and how quickly love developed between Eric and Collin, but that aside, they work so well together and I even liked the endearments.

Collin is still in the closet to his family and friends. He has an interesting relationship with his Uncle Monty who has huge influence on his life right down to his college subject choices and future career in the family olive oil business. Monty is also president of the TAG Alumni Association with a large influence on funds for Theta Alpha Gamma.

The story revolves around solving the mystery of who is trying to destroy Theta Alpha Gamma. Eric and Collin meet when Eric attends the scene of an explosion at the frat house. So while their relationship is growing, Collin is also facing frat house issues and dealing with his uncle who is exerting pressure for the fraternity to change their policy of publicly accepting gay and bi members, blaming this for the arson.

I didn’t really get into the frat house politics and thought maybe there could have been a bit less of this in the book and more of the relationship. Plus I must have missed why Eric’s knowing Monty from when they were at school was really relevant but all in all, the plot moved at a pretty steady pace, with enough action and drama to keep things interesting.

I did have some favourite funny scenes in the book. It was amusing to see the results of the Sensitivity Training the frat members had undergone – so many hearts in the right place but no idea how to execute! And Collin’s ‘coming out’ to his frat brothers was brilliant.“I’m sorry, dude, but I’m not really prepared to handle outing a guy to himself. Fuck, I hope I didn’t , like, traumatize you or anything.” Plus Eric’s mothers reaction to the age difference “Oh, a younger man.”….”So, can he just fuck forever? And my education is now complete because I know about the Awkward Turtle!

I love a happy ending and this book didn’t disappoint.
[“Ten years down the road, he wanted a househusband named Eric with completely gray hair and no abdominal muscles. An if he had to choose between those things? He’d give up the company and take the kids and the husband and the beer gut.”
(hide spoiler)]

3.5 stars

4 Stars

For more information on Anne Tenino and her books visit her website.

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Image

☊☊ Audio Book: IM by Rick R. Reed ☊☊

IM by Rick R Reed

By Rick R. Reed

Narrated by Taavi Mark

***** Audio book review  *****

5 Stars

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Part 1 – 5 hours 13 mins

Part 2 – 4 hours 49 mins

The blurb…

The Internet Is the New Meat Market for Gay Men Now a Killer Is Turning the Meat Market into a Meat Wagon.

One by one, he’s killing them. Lurking in the digital underworld of Men4HookUpNow.com, he lures, seduces, charms, reaching out through instant messages to the unwary. He’s just another guy.

They invite him over. He’s just another trick. Harmless. They’re dead wrong.

When the first bloody body surfaces, openly gay Chicago Police Department detective Ed Comparetto is called in to investigate. Sickened by the butchered mess of one of his brothers left on display in a bathtub, he seeks relief outside where the young man who discovered the body waits to tell him the story of how he found his friend. But who is this witness… and did he play a bigger part in the murder than he’s letting on?

For Comparetto, this encounter with a witness is the beginning of a nightmare. Because this witness did more than just show up at the scene of the crime; he set the scene. And maybe, he’s more than just a killer… maybe he’s dead himself.

Comparetto is on a journey to discover the truth, a truth that he needs to discover before he loses his career, his boyfriend, his sanity…his life. Because in this killer’s world, IM doesn’t stand for instant message… it stands for instant murder.

So what did I think?

I ‘read’ this book in its audio format so my enjoyment was impacted by a number of factors: the plot, quality of the story, style of the telling, characterisation and finally the narration. Ideally I would like to be able to assess the two components (the story and the narration) separately but actually find the narration has too much direct impact on my views of the story to do this effectively.

This is a mystery/thriller and is a beautifully crafted tale that takes the listener deep into a darker side of the world of internet hook-ups. It plunges straight into a series of brutal murders. It is blunt and graphic and violent and horrific. The murders are descriptive, grossly so, with descriptions of sights, sounds, smells and feelings giving a sense of realism to the scenes. It was almost like being plunged into an episode of Criminal Minds.

During the early part of the story, we are introduced to the various murder victims before they face their final moments. Even though each of these characters only play a short role, the author does a wonderful job of bringing a real personal element to each one. He describes their homes, personal traits and provides an insight into each man’s emotional state. We learn how feel about their online hookups and the men they meet and what they are really looking for in life – and all are looking for love.

Ed Comparetto is the main focus of the story (apart from the killer). He is a cop who gets caught up in the murder investigation but ultimately gets suspended. I am not sure why the killer singled Ed out but contact from the killer and a desire to get his job back gives him no choice but to solve the mystery himself. While going through this really difficult period in his life, Ed meets Peter, which adds a romance element to the story. But mostly this story is focused on Ed’s efforts to catch the killer.

It is difficult to talk about the killer and other characters without giving away the plot so I will keep it short. I thought the character of the killer was brilliant. He was perfectly creepy and his true evil nature was evident. There were some devices used in the story, such as diary entries, which provide a fabulous view into the past and the pyschy of the killer. A word of warning that the story does have some scenes, apart from graphic murder, that could be upsetting to some readers (pedophilia/rape).

Now to the narration which was brilliant! I am not an expert (I’ve only listened to three other audio books) but truly believe this guy (Taavi Mark) got it right. The accents were perfectly suited to each character and he switched effortlessly between them.

He mastered the voice of the killer, truly adding a real sense of creepiness. The voice is breathy but chilling. It was quite clever how the killer’s breathy voice deepened when he was switching into character for his IM hook ups which even included when he was reading them.

This story had large sections of dialogue and switched between different characters points of view so it was even more important to get the voices right – it wasn’t just small sentences here and there but large tracts of narration while in character. One of the significant characters was female and I found her voice (the pitch, tone, accent and inflections) perfect!

It is really hard to make this claim because I hadn’t read the book first but I’m going to put it out there anyway – I think listening to this book actually added to my enjoyment. I felt the use of the voices, particularly the killer and his family member, actually helped immerse me into the story, added to the atmosphere and gave a great sense of the emotion.

In summary, I highly recommend this story for lovers of a good graphic, murder thriller (it’s focus is not romance) and the audio book is excellent.

If you do choose to listen to the audio version then be aware that it is long (you can change the pace of the narration but it does have a big impact on how it sounds – I listened at x1.25). I think this one was nearly 10 hours. I listened to the first half during a weekly commute to and from work and the second half on a 4 hour road trip which made good use of my time!

If you’re not sure if the audio version is for you, you can listen to a sample before completing your purchase. If you already own the Kindle version then the audio version is sometimes cheaper. If you own both, you can switch back and forth using WhisperSync which is brilliant.

Finally I would like to pass on my thanks to the author who provided me with this Audio book in return for an honest review.

For more information on Rick R Reed and his books, visit his website.

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