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★★★★ Shaking the Sugar Tree by Nick Wilgus ★★★★

Shaking the Sugar TreeShaking the Sugar Tree by Nick Wilgus

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Blurb…

Wise-cracking Wiley Cantrell is loud and roaringly outrageous—and he needs to be to keep his deeply religious neighbors and family in the Deep South at bay. A failed writer on food stamps, Wiley works a minimum wage job and barely manages to keep himself and his deaf son, Noah, more than a stone’s throw away from Dumpster-diving.

Noah was a meth baby and has the birth defects to prove it. He sees how lonely his father is and tries to help him find a boyfriend while Wiley struggles to help Noah have a relationship with his incarcerated mother, who believes the best way to feed a child is with a slingshot. No wonder Noah becomes Wiley’s biggest supporter when Boston nurse Jackson Ledbetter walks past Wiley’s cash register and sets his sugar tree on fire.

Jackson falls like a wet mule wearing concrete boots for Wiley’s sense of humor. And while Wiley represents much of the best of the South, Jackson is hiding a secret that could threaten this new family in the making.

When North meets South, the cultural misunderstandings are many, but so are the laughs, and the tears, but, as they say down in Dixie, it’s all good.

So what did I think?

“What was I writing exactly? Romance? Drama? Slice of life? Romantic comedy? Would there be an audience for such a book? Watching Noah sit down, chomping on his Pop-Tart, I realized it was none of those things. It was a love story about a father and a son. The rest was window dressing. As a love story between a parent and a child, it was universal. Didn’t matter that I was gay, that he was deaf, that we didn’t fit in, that we were outcasts in our own way. God, fate, the universe, luck–we had been thrown together in this thing we call life for reasons we couldn’t fathom. As Mrs Humphries would say, The Lord gon’ find a way–and He had.”

This is the story of Wiley Cantrell and his son Noah. Their life isn’t easy – it is largely the two of them against the world and they sure have been dealt with more than their fair share of things to overcome.

Noah is a special little boy. Born addicted to meth and deaf, from the very moment of his birth he has struggled. Emotionally he is also very fragile and has craved the love of his mother who left him at birth. But Noah is blessed with the love of his father.

Wiley has reached his thirties and struggles through life. As a gay single father of a child with difficulties, he is on minimum wage and deals with people continually judging his lifestyle and deeming him an unfit parent. Even Wiley’s own family judge him.

“I had no career to speak of, no future, no money in the bank, no man to go home to and make love to and be with, no chance in hell that I would ever get gay-married and live happily ever after. I don’t often through myself a pity party, but I threw one for myself that afternoon, sitting there on the bench staring into space. I couldn’t help but feel that maybe Bill and my mother were right, maybe there was something really wrong with me. Maybe I didn’t deserve happiness. Maybe there was no room in the Magnolia state for souls like mine. Maybe I was really born at the wrong time, in the wrong place, living a life that fit me about as well as Elvis’s sideburns or Honey Boo Boo’s baby fat.”

Sad and heartbreaking, it is also inspirational to see such love and such sacrifices made by a father for this child. But the standout is the writing and how this tale is told – even in the depths of feeling Wiley’s pain, I was laughing at the total, hysterical craziness that accompanied every visit Wiley made home to see his family. Papaw is definitely a character I won’t be forgetting in a hurry!

“Mr. Light-in-the-Loafers is here,” Papaw announced. “And he’s got a little faggy friend. He’s also a little light in the loafers, if you know what I mean. They’ll probably both be dead of some venereal disease by Christmas so I wouldn’t get attached.” What a wonderful way for your new boyfriend to be greeted by your grandfather!

Yes, there is a love story. Jackson enters Wiley’s life and so begins the first relationship Wiley has had in years. They are wonderful together and I loved their easy banter and teasing and how their relationship worked around Noah. It’s not smooth sailing (you wouldn’t expect it to be) and Jackson has some problems of his own. I would have loved some more insight into Jackson’s struggles, to understand how he got to be in the situation he was in and his emotional journey to win Wiley. But the focus of this story stayed with Wiley.

Sadness, happiness, life, religion, homophobia, violence, tolerance, family, forgiveness, humour, love – this book pretty much packs it all in and is highly recommended reading!

I received a copy of this book from the author in return for my honest review.

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To find out more about Nick Wilgus and his books visit his website.

Buy Shaking the Sugar Tree from Amazon.

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Excerpt: The Silver Tongued City Boy by Tamsin Baker

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  The Silver Tongued City Boy

        By Tamsin Baker

Contemporary m/m novella

Synopsis

Mitchell’s job is his life. He works hard, with good men and he gets to be around the horses he loves. The only thing that will ruin his perfect life is if they find out he’s gay, but that’ll never happen, so he’s safe.

Jayden Donner doesn’t really want to visit his estranged father on his farm, but how else is he going to get the money he needs for his overseas holiday?

When Mitchell first sees Jay, he knows the city boy is trouble. But Jay won’t leave him be, and when the sparks fly, hay bales won’t be the only thing on fire.

Excerpt

The vision in the mirror was not a pretty one.

“I look like you’ve been dragged through a bush backwards.”

His long, red hair stuck out at odd angles and his face had got too much sun. His horrible orange freckles looked like they were on fire. Fuck. He’d taken his akubra off while working on the fence and hadn’t put it back on until he’d finished. It wouldn’t happen again.

“Idiot.” He chastised himself as he unwrapped the dirty bandage and threw it in the bin. He opened the top drawer and pulled out the plastic butterfly clips. Perfect. Now to clean it.

Mitchell turned on the taps and adjusted the temperature. He watched for a moment as the steam rose, braced himself and pushed his right fist beneath the gushing hot water.

“Fuck!” He swore, knives of agony crippling his arm muscles. He withstood the searing pain for another few seconds before pulling it back out and examining the now clean gash. He should probably get some metho or something, but couldn’t be bothered to go searching for it.

At least that got all the dirt out.

“Need some help there?” A smooth, deep voice made Mitchell jump and he whirled around to see a man, who was clearly a city boy, standing in the doorway.

Mitchell stared, the pain in his hand disappearing as his blood ran south. The man in front of him was delicious. Brown straight hair, green eyes and the most amazing mouth Mitchell had ever seen.

The man cocked an eyebrow and ran an assessing eye over Mitchell. “Can I help?”

Mitchell shook himself and grabbed a clean towel hanging from the rack.

He pressed the towel to his dripping wet hand and hissed a little. “Nah, I’m fine thanks.”

The vision in tight blue jeans and white cotton shirt stepped forward and picked up the butterfly tapes from beside Mitchell. As the stranger moved again, Mitchell inhaled the spicy scent of his cologne and groaned from the pain in his groin. It had been far too long since he’d gotten laid.

“Show me.” The man demanded, his tone brooking no argument as he tore open the packaging and held the tape ready.

Mitchell pulled the towel away from his hand and held it out, watching the man’s eyebrows fly up in surprise.

“You sure you don’t need stitches?” He asked as he placed the tape on one side of the cut and pulled the flesh together before sticking the other side down. His hands were soft, not like Mitchell’s own callused ones. Definitely a city boy.

Mitchell shrugged, trying for nonchalance when it was the last thing he was feeling. Those hands may be soft but they looked strong and moved with confidence.

“I hate stitches.”

The man took up another plastic butterfly and stuck it next to the first.

“Yeah, and they say chicks dig scars.”

He looked up and smiled, the effect of those brilliant white teeth enough to make Mitchell fall back a little against the sink. Wow.

“You ok?” The guy asked, stepping closer, making it even harder for Mitchell to think.

He shook his head to clear the fog. “Yeah, fine. What did ya say?”

The brunette took one more butterfly clip and placed it next to the second one.

“I said chicks dig scars.”

Mitchell huffed in response, unable to laugh when he was enduring both the pain of the injury and the closeness of this hot male.

He may as well be honest. If the guy was a homophobe then at least he’d leave Mitchell alone and he could breathe once again.

“I’m not really into chicks, if you get my drift.”

The hot guy’s head shot up and Mitchell got his first real look into those amazing green eyes, which were a little familiar. They were almost yellow at the centre giving him the look of a wild cat.

“Me neither…” He replied, rubbing his thumb gently over the fleshy part of Mitchell’s hand that wasn’t cut and causing fissions of awareness to sparkle and slide across his skin.

“I’m Jayden by the way… Jay.” The hot guy introduced himself and Mitchell swallowed hard, withdrawing his hand that was now tingling as well as throbbing.

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Author Links

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BLOG TOUR: Their Plane From Nowhere by Princess So

 

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Hell’s Fire, those of you folks that were visiting our last stop when Earl was telling you about our story, I just want you to know, he’s got it all wrong there thinking ya’ll folks ain’t interested in no hunk grizzly bear like Earl. I mean come now, what’s not to like? I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling just a might warm and fuzzy on the inside as I am on the outside when I get anywhere near my very own Paul Bunyan Bear. And all that salt ‘n pepper hair? Mmmm… my da-dunk-a-dunk is getting excited.

Anyhows, I’m Hank Grisset and this growling goodness next to me is Earl Knox. Like Earl was tellin’ ya the other day, we’ve been together for a while now. Thing is though, it ain’t been one of those romancy types that’s all tied up and perdy in a bow kind of relationship. But I’ll take every bit of what I can, cause I know his heart belongs to me. But this plane stuff… I don’t know what’s going on and it ain’t my fault for not telling him, it’s just… well, it does stuff, and I don’t know how to ‘splain it really. ‘Sides, Earl’s youngest, Leanne, just had her first baby last weekend. Earl’s first grandbaby girl. And well that plane down at the docks didn’t seem all that important at the time, but with everything else that’s about to fly up in our faces after Earl makes the big move, that there plane might turn out to be a little more important than we thought.

 

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It’s Complicated by L.A. Witt

It's Complicated (Tucker Springs, #7)It’s Complicated by L.A. Witt

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

The Blurb..

After their umpteenth breakup, Brad Sweeney and Jeff Hayden are living apart and starting over from scratch. The morning after a promising first date, they’re more optimistic than ever that they can make it work this time . . . until Jeff’s ex-wife and business partner calls to announce she’s pregnant with Jeff’s baby. Brad’s already competing with a demanding business for Jeff’s time. Now there’s a baby on the way, and worse, he’s afraid Jeff is still carrying a torch for the woman who’s carrying his child.

Jeff is desperately trying to keep his life together, but before he can even get his head around the news that he’s going to be a father, his ex announces that she wants to leave Tucker Springs. Now he either has to take over her role at the shop while ferrying the baby back and forth from Denver, or move the business—and himself—with her.

Brad and Jeff knew reconciliation wouldn’t be easy, but they’re rapidly running out of room for compromise. And sooner or later, something has to give.

So what did I think?

It wasn’t lying when this book was titled It’s Complicated! This is the story of trying to repair a relationship while dealing with a whole mess of issues.

I haven’t read many m/m romances which are focused on an established couple sorting through relationship issues – their ups and downs, arguments, hot make-up sex, stress and worry – so it was nice to read something a bit different for a change.

I’ve always enjoyed this series so was looking forward to getting a glimpse of some characters from the past books – although to be truthful, I wasn’t really taken with them and struggled a little bit to see the relevance to the story. The group played a role in enabling Brad to do something that Jeff wasn’t happy with, causing yet another argument, but what I really wanted was for some more interaction and support.

Brad and Jeff have been together for years but their relationship has been tested by their continual arguments. When the story starts, they are living apart but making an effort to get back together by slowly dating again and trying to sort out the reasons for their issues. But just as they start down this path, new obstacles are thrown in their way. The ramifications of one night Jeff spent with his ex-wife come back to haunt him – the resulting pregnancy has him facing some big decisions about his business, the baby, where he’s going to live and the role Brad will play in this life.

Overall it was an enjoyable story with lots of emotional discussions between the two men, interspersed with some sizzling sex and I appreciated the way Christine was portrayed. She had the potential to be one of those characters you just wanted to hate but she wasn’t.

A copy of this book was received from the publisher via Netgalley in return for my honest review.

To find out more about L.A. Witt and her books visit her website.

Buy It’s Complicated from Amazon.

Check out some reviews for other books in the series…

After the Fall

Never A Hero

Covet Thy Neighbor

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☊☊☊☊☊ Audiobook: After Ben by Con Riley ☊☊☊☊☊

After Ben

Written by: Con Riley
Narrated by: JP Handler
Length: 10 hrs and 47 mins 

The Blurb…

A year after the sudden death of his longtime partner, Ben, Theo Anderson is still grieving. The last thing he’s looking for is a new lover. But as Theo soon discovers, sometimes life has other plans.

While Theo experiences a powerful physical attraction to fellow gym member Peter, it’s his new online friend, Morgan, who provides the intellectual challenge to make him come alive. Morgan is witty, brave, and irreverent, and Theo is ready to take the plunge… until he discovers Morgan might be half his age.

Theo’s late partner was significantly older—enough to strain Theo’s relationship with his family—and the potential of another relationship being cut short leaves him gunshy. Theo needs to lay Ben’s memory to rest, reconcile with his family, and rekindle neglected friendships if he’s to start afresh with a new lover. But Theo isn’t the only one with a past.

His biggest challenge, in living after Ben, might not be his to face.

So what did I think?

I read this book back in 2012 and loved it – 5 stars and straight onto my Favourites shelf! So when I found out the audio version was available there was no doubt that it was time for a re-read (well, really it was a first-time listen).

Because I had read and loved this story so much I was looking forward to listening to the audio version. I was nervous though, worried that the narration would not do justice to the story. I needn’t have worried, JP Handler, did a great job of bringing Theo’s story to life.

This is a wonderful story of someone’s grieving and reawakening process as Theo mourns the loss of the love of his life but then finds he can finally open his heart to love again. It is a story about love and friends and families. It also has a strong message about abuse and people in need, with a number of characters being involved with a shelter.

The book starts about 12 months after Ben’s death. It is jam packed full of flashbacks – flashbacks of Theo’s time with Ben and flashbacks of Theo’s past 12 months.

Theo has closed himself off from most people, apart from his assistant Maggie, but it is the arrival of some new people in his life that sets him on the road to recovery – his interns, his new friend Peter and his online forum friend Morgan.

I’m not going to say much about the story itself, accept to say that it is engaging and emotional and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I was also very impressed with the narration, particularly the gorgeous Italian accents of Ben and his brother Marco, which were so sexy.

This audio book comes highly recommended. It is not a fast story, at times, at least in the audio version, it can be a little slow, but it is heartbreaking and heartwarming and so worth the journey. This still stays a 5 star read for me.

At the time of writing this review, the audio book is only $1.99 from Audible so go check it out!

The Seattle Stories

  • After Ben (book #1)
  • Saving Sean (book #2)
  • Aiden’s Luck (book #3)

To find out more about Con Riley and her books visit her website.

Buy After Ben from Amazon

Buy After Ben from Audible

Dreamspinner Press

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Blog Tour & Giveaway: A Hunted Man by Jaime Reese

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Synopsis

After surviving ten years in prison, Cameron Pierce is attempting to put the past behind him. He tries to adjust to his newfound freedom with a place at the halfway house and a job. But one lesson he learned in prison keeps him guarded: hope is a dangerous thing.

Hunter Donovan, Assistant State Attorney, is a man of justice who loves a challenge. After a lifetime of putting his career first, a milestone brings him to a harsh realization—he’s lonely.

Hunter’s world changes when he meets Cam. The wary young man intrigues him and awakens a desire unlike anything he’s ever experienced. When Cam’s past resurfaces and threatens to rip them apart, their budding relationship is challenged and Cam’s hope for a future begins to dim.

These outside forces hunting Cam will stop at nothing to send him back to prison. But they’ll have to get past Hunter first.

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Excerpt

Hunter stood in line and watched Cam tend to the few lingering post-lunchtime customers. Cam’s smile came a little easier and his stance less guarded.

His body, although still lean, was tighter and a little broader from the yard work at the halfway house. A slight tan colored his skin now, the faint golden tone further accentuating the blue in his eyes and the white of his smile. His hair had a sprinkling of highlights as if the sun had kissed his head. Sunrises gave him hope, but they also seemed to awaken a natural physical beauty that had been hidden for far too long.

“How can I help you? Sir,” Cam said when it was finally Hunter’s turn at the register.

Hunter leaned over the counter. “You know that drives me nuts.”

Cam smiled and grabbed Hunter’s tie to pull him closer. “I know.” After a quick peck, Cam released him.

Hunter reached over and rubbed Cam’s stubble. “Are you letting this grow out?”

Cam shrugged. He looked away and scratched his growing scruff. “It makes me look older.”

“Since when do you want to look older?”

Cam shrugged again and fidgeted with the receipts.

Realization finally hit Hunter. He grabbed Cam’s chin and forced him to make eye contact. “Are you doing that for me?”

Cam’s mouth narrowed and his brows lowered. “There’s not much I can do for you. So if growing some hair on my face will make you feel a little less self-conscious, then I’ll grow a full fucking beard if I have to.”

Review (4)

What did Jonesy think?

This was a 4 star story!

This is a plot driven romance which has Cameron and Hunter coming together in some pretty hot scenes.  Cameron is released from prison after 10 years and Hunter is a lawyer for the state.  That makes for an interesting plot right there!  Not to mention Hunter is also ex Marine Force Recon!  Hotness!!

Cameron starts working at the local diner upon his release and Hunter is a regular.  They have an instant attraction to each other and they start a slow yet intense relationship.  Cameron hasn’t been intimate with anyone in 10 years and is struggling to come to terms with his new life which he doesn’t believe will last.  He expects Hunter to walk away and leave him any minute.  Hunter must be the most patient man alive, happy to steal a few kisses during his lunch break in the diner.  It doesn’t take them long to get hot and heavy though.  Cam hides himself emotionally as he needed to do this to survive prison and it was lovely to see him come out of his shell, but only with Hunters help.   Hunter was strong yet needy at the same time.  He needed Cam to ground him while Cam needed Hunter so he could feel safe again.  Surprisingly it was Hunter that was the romantic sappy one.  He just knew that Cam was it for him and the love was clear.  It was a great combination of MC’s.  So when twisty crime plot starts to thicken both men become intensely protective and Hunter must use all his skills to keep them both alive.

There were a couple of elements that didn’t work for me.  There was one sex scene that seemed to go on and on.  I’m sure it took up nearly the whole chapter and it felt far too long for me.  Also, part of the crime plot had me rolling my eyes with the believeability. There were some good action scenes but nothing OTT and it was only small things that got to me.  Although these things bothered me I’m pretty sure they won’t bother the vast majority of readers out there.

All in all – another great read by Ms Reese !

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MeetTheAuthor

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Jaime Reese is the alter ego of an artist who loves the creative process of writing, just not about herself. Fiction is far more interesting. She has a weakness for broken, misunderstood heroes and feels everyone deserves a chance at love and life. An avid fan of a happy ending, she believes those endings acquired with a little difficulty are more cherished.

 

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Love Lessons Learned by K.C. Wells

Love Lessons Learned (Love Lessons Learned, #1)Love Lessons Learned by K.C. Wells

The blurb

John Wainwright is having a momentous day. To start off, he lands his first teaching job. Then his brother, Evan, and Evan’s husband, Daniel, take him out to celebrate in Manchester’s gay village. An encounter with a sexy man forces John to admit what he’s been denying for too long—he’s gay. His coming out proves he’s supported and loved by his family and roommates. What more could a man want? There’s just one small problem: John’s dishy Head Teacher, Brett Sanderson, and John’s gigantic crush on him. Too bad Brett is straight. 

Brett Sanderson leads a double life. At thirty-three, he is the Head Teacher of a primary school. But for seven years now, during every school holiday, Brett has fled to Brighton, where he becomes ‘Rob,’ a man who has a different guy in his bed every night but has never had a relationship. 

Once he’s back in school, Brett is firmly back in that closet, until his newest staff member starts prying open the door. When John pulls out all the stops to get Brett’s attention, neither man is prepared for the consequences.

So what did I think?

Love Lessons Learned was typical K.C. Wells and reminiscent of the cross-over series Learning to Love – this story focused on John, brother to Evan from Learning to Love: Evan & Daniel.

It is very similar in style which was perfect because I was looking forward to some nice and sweet characters. It was also nice to get the little peak at Evan and hear how the boys from the previous series were doing.

In this story, John is venturing out into his first real job, as the teacher at a school in a disadvantaged area. John has just acknowledged his own sexuality and has no experience with a man but he falls heavily for Head Teacher, Brett.

Brett, at 33, has just discovered he wants more out of life than the anonymous sex filled holidays he takes a few times a year. He wants a real relationship but the fact John is the new teacher he is mentoring takes him out of the equation for Brett.

In this story, they first need to take the steps to get together, face the ramifications of a relationship at work and deal with a number of other obstacles thrown their way. Along the way there are good friends, aggrieved co-workers, and some dramatic moments. There is hot sex and there is romance. The characters are sweet and nice and emotional.

This was a 4 star for me, mainly because I needed a good dose of sweet with happy endings.

DSP Buy Now

To find out more about K.C. Wells and her books visit her website.

Buy Love Lessons Learned from Amazon.

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This Is Not A Love Story – Available for pre-order!

ThisIsNotALoveStory

THIS IS NOT A LOVE STORY

by Suki Fleet

Available for Pre-order Now – releases 22nd May

 

❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤

When fifteen-year-old Romeo’s mother leaves one day and doesn’t return, he finds himself homeless and trying to survive on the streets. Mute and terrified, his silence makes him vulnerable, and one night he is beaten by a gang of other kids, only to be rescued by a boy who pledges to take care of him.


Julian is barely two years older than Romeo. A runaway from an abusive home, he has had to make some difficult choices and sells himself on the street to survive. Taking care of Romeo changes him, gives him a purpose in life, gives him hope, and he tries to be strong and keep his troubles with drugs behind him. But living as they do is slowly destroying him, and he begins to doubt he can be strong enough.

This is the story of their struggle to find a way off the streets and stay together at all costs. But when events threaten to tear them apart, it is Romeo who must find the strength within himself to help Julian (and not let their love story turn into a Shakespearean tragedy)

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