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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.

DSP Buy Now

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

Buy Shaking the Sugar Tree from Amazon.

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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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The Provincetown Series by Jacob Z. Flores

The Provincetown series:

  • When Love Takes Over (book #1) – click here for review
  • Chasing the Sun (book #2) – click here for review
  • When Love Gets Hairy (book #3) – in this review
  • When Love Comes To Town (book #4) – in this review

When Love Gets Hairy (Provincetown, #3)When Love Gets Hairy by Jacob Z. Flores

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

The blurb…

As vain as he is beautiful, Nino Santos happily lives life waiting for the next ferry full of fairies to bring him new conquests. As long as they aren’t hirsute, he’s all in. So he’s shocked to wake up after a beach party he cannot remember with a hairy naked man lying next to him.

Teddy Miller doesn’t remember the “Bear Week” party either, much less the Abercrombie & Fitch model wannabe next to him. Teddy doesn’t give two cents about appearances, but guys like Abercrombie don’t return the favor. That’s why he prefers men with extra fur and padding over carbon copy clones of perfection—a type of man Teddy is far too familiar with. 

When Nino and Teddy glimpse each other the next morning, it’s loathing at first sight. Instead of exchanging phone numbers, they exchange insults and vow never to see each other again. In Provincetown, however, escaping a trick best forgotten isn’t easy. Mutual friends and chance circumstances keep Nino and Teddy in each other’s orbit. But are they fighting each other or the attraction growing between them? The answer lies amid Provincetown’s windswept dunes and the night neither of them can recall.

So what did I think?

It’s Bear Week in Provincetown.

“Why couldn’t everyone be like these guys and not be so damn body conscious? They loved and lusted after each other with hearts as big as their barrel chests.”

This is Nino’s story, as he meets Teddy, who’s in town for the week. It’s a story about preconceived ideas and making judgments based on outwards appearances. I this case, our two MCs, see something outwardly in the other that immediately turns them away from each other despite a hook-up that neither remember.

Nino, who we met in When Love Takes Over as Van’s roommate, is a model and hate’s Bear Week. Teddy, doesn’t like shallow men like Nino, who only think about their looks. He likes men like himself. Or does he? There’s a reason Teddy shies away from men like Nino and it makes for a nice story as Teddy finally confronts his own demon (who we see lots more of in the next book).

I like the books in this series – cute and sweet.

When Love Comes To Town (Provincetown, #4)When Love Comes To Town by Jacob Z. Flores

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Blurb…

Brody O’Shea isn’t looking for much, just a hot guy with a decent job, who is sane and doesn’t have kids. The son of a former rock star, Brody has lived through the pain of bankruptcy and bad parenting, and he doesn’t want to experience it again. As a reformed horndog, he wants the security and stability of a relationship. But almost every guy he meets seems satisfied with Mr. Right Now, and he wants to find Mr. Right—now! 

The only men Eric Vasquez chases are criminals. As a deputy and single father, he has no need for a relationship after his last one ended disastrously. He lives for and through Maddie, his nine-year-old daughter. Everything else is a needless distraction, but distraction is what Eric gets when he comes to Provincetown to attend the wedding between his cousin Van and the man of his dreams. 

When Brody and Eric meet, what they want and what they find conflict. An ocean of expectations separates them. If they cannot move past their reservations to reach each other’s shores, they might miss the boat when love comes to town.

So what did I think?

Brody is looking for Mr. Right and his Mr. Right needs to meet certain requirements – most importantly to not have a child. So of course, Mr. Right arrives in town with a kid in tow.

Eric has not had an easy time of it over the last couple of years and is extremely protective of his daughter, Maddy. Maddy is sweet and wise and just a bit precocious.

Certain misunderstandings allow Eric and Brody to develop a friendship which pretty much leads to love, although it takes the two of them a while (okay, so it’s only a couple of days) so acknowledge their feelings. They are a great couple and together are sweet and very sexy.

I liked the way all the couples from the previous three books make an appearance and it’s a happy ending all round for everyone.

This is light, feel-good reading with a great setting, love, romance, nice characters and a touch of hot sex.

To find out more about Jacob Z. Flores and his books visit his website.

Buy the books from Amazon.

 

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★★★★ Love Comes Home by Andrew Grey ★★★★

The Senses series:

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Love Comes Home (Senses, #3)Love Comes Home by Andrew Grey

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Blurb…

When architect Gregory Hampton’s son, Davey, starts having trouble in Little League, Greg takes him to an eye doctor. The diagnosis hits them hard. Davey’s sight is degenerating rapidly, and eventually he’ll go blind.

Tom Spangler is used to getting what he wants. When Greg captures his attention, he asks Greg for a date. They have a good time until Greg gets a call from the friends watching his son, telling him Davey has fallen. Greg and Tom return to find the worst has happened—Davey can no longer see.

With so much going on in his life, Greg doubts he’ll see Tom again. But Tom has researched beep baseball, where balls and bases make sounds to enable the visually impaired to participate in Little League. Tom spearheads an effort to form a team so Davey can continue to play the game he loves. But when Greg’s ex-wife shows up with her doctor boyfriend, offering a possible cure through a radical procedure, Greg must decide how far he’ll go to give Davey a chance at getting his sight back.

So what did I think?

I’m the first to admit that I have a BIG soft spot for Andrew Grey. This is my 32nd story from Andrew so that definitely says something. He’s my go-to author when I want to read something sweet with emotional pull, a little bit of sexiness and a nice happy ending.

Love Comes Home didn’t disappoint. Perhaps not as good as the first book in the series , Love Comes Silently,  but great just the same.

In Love Comes Home, Davey is a little boy who is going blind. His father, Greg, is doing his best to cope. He has a supportive network of friends (little glimpses of the guys from the past books in the series) but it is new friend, Tom, who really helps both him and Davey.

“It’s the funny thing about hearts. The more people you love, the bigger they get.”

There is some romance but this story primarily sends a message about dealing with the challenges life faces you. It is about how a father copes with the stresses of watching his child deal with something as traumatic as blindness. It is about looking for new alternatives rather than giving up on life. The whole concept of Beep Baseball was fascinating.

Here’s a link to a YouTube clip about Beep Baseball. It’s pretty amazing!

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To find out more about Andrew Grey visit his website.

Buy Love Comes Home from Amazon.

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Books 7 & 8 of The Men of Riverside series by Serena Yates

Men of Riverside explores the lives of a group of men who all share a high school in the fictional town of Riverside, Texas. Not all of them know they are destined to be couples. Some of them believe they are only friends.

Circumstances and life separate them, sometimes for several years. But luck, determination and love will help them get the reunions they deserve.

Reading Order:

  • Finding Elliot (book #1) 
  • Rediscovering Adrian (book #2) 
  • Understanding Mark (book #3)
  • Saving Zeke (book #4) 
  • Forgiving Jason (book #5)
  • Loving Vincent (book #6)
  • Convincing Landon (book #7)  – in this review
  • Helping Harry (book #8) – in this review

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Convincing Landon (Men of Riverside, #7)Convincing Landon by Serena Yates

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

The blurb…

Afraid of being openly gay, Landon rejected Kendall after a brief affair. Will they be able to make a fresh start when chance reunites them years later?

Landon Tully is a social worker who only returned to Riverside for his father’s funeral. But when a job opportunity opens up, he decides to stay for a while. Within days he runs into Kendall Gable, the man he’d thought was too young for him eight years ago – only now Kendall is all grown up and on the opposite side of a bidding contest for the land Landon has been asked to obtain to build a homeless shelter.

Kendall has made a life for himself as an architect. Focusing on work has helped him fill the hole in his life that Landon left behind. Running into him is painful, but helps him realise some of the issues in his professional life need fixing.

Will Kendall be able to convince himself, and Landon, that they deserve a life together after all?

So what did I think?

This was a really nice addition to the series. There are some hot moments of sizzling sex but really this is about more. Landon has sacrificed a lot of his dreams, firstly to protect and look after his younger brother and secondly to protect his career as a social worker (yes, he really is a nice guy!).

The story covers a number of years providing some little snippets of Landon’s early years and family life, his first meeting with Kendall and his subsequent contact with the man years later. Although young and inexperienced, Kendall is very forward thankfully! But things don’t end well and it isn’t until even more years have passed that the men finally get their chance together.

There’s a bit of a morale with the corporate giant versus the good guy charity in the story. The resolution is a bit quick but really, who cares as long as it is a happy ending, right?

3.5 stars because I was just in the mood for a sweet quick read!

Helping Harry (Men of Riverside, #8)Helping Harry by Serena Yates

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The blurb…

Tim’s attraction to his friend Harry flares up once again when they run into each other at their ten-year reunion, but will it be enough to build the lasting relationship they’ve both longed for?

Tim Jacobi, who owns and runs his parent’s car dealership, is professionally successful but lonely. When his high school reunion brings his best friend Harry back to Riverside after a ten-year separation, he realises he is still attracted to him. And this time around, he can admit it to himself.

Harry can’t believe the strong feelings his best friend awakens in him. Despite being afraid of rejection, he opens up and tells him the truth about the intervening years—why he is now divorced and has sole custody of his two children.

When Harry’s ex-wife reappears—demanding not only visitation rights, but threatening to sue for custody—Tim find himself facing more obstacles than he’d expected. Will he run for cover or help Harry get the relationship and life he has always wanted?

So what did I think?

The strength in this story was the inclusion of children in a realistic way. I liked the consideration given to the children as Harry and Tim’s relationship blossomed! I particularly liked the children’s easy acceptance of Tim in their lives and the innocent, honest reaction to his skin color.

This is the story of Harry, compelled to marry Lisa when he gets her pregnant, and the choices he makes when the relationship with his wife disintegrates. He is a tower of strength, fighting for what’s best for his children when faced with her alcoholism. When Harry returned to Riverside for his school reunion, I was just rooting for him to find some happiness at last and build a family for his kids.

We get a little peak at the lovely gay men we’ve met in Riverside in the series of books up until now although I must admit that all the couples and relationships – friends, brothers, lovers – started to get a bit confusing causing me to stop and ask ‘who’s he with again?” 🙂

Love, support, family, sex and a nice happy ending!

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To find out more about Serena Yates and her books, visit her website.

Buy the Men of Riverside Series from Amazon.

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☊☊☊☊☊ Audio book review: Who We Are by T.J. Klune ☊☊☊☊☊

A highly recommended audio book! And at the time of writing this review on special from Audible for only $3.49 so get shopping!

  • Bear, Otter, and the Kid  – book #1
  • Who We Are – book #2 – the audio book is reviewed in this post
  • The Art of Breathing – book #3 – release date unknown

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Who We Are

Who We Are

Author: T.J. Klune

Narrator: Charlie David

Length: 12 hours 42 minutes

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The blurb…

Sequel to Bear, Otter, and the Kid

Bear, Otter, and the Kid survived last summer with their hearts and souls intact. They’ve moved into the Green Monstrosity, and Bear is finally able to admit his love for the man who saved him from himself.

But that’s not the end of their story. How could it be?

The boys find that life doesn’t stop just because they got their happily ever after. There’s still the custody battle for the Kid. The return of Otter’s parents. A first trip to a gay bar. The Kid goes to therapy, and Mrs. Paquinn decides that Bigfoot is real. Anna and Creed do… well, whatever it is Anna and Creed do. There are newfound jealousies, the return of old enemies, bad poetry, and misanthropic seagulls. And through it all, Bear struggles to understand his mother’s abandonment of him and his brother, only to delve deeper into their shared past. What he finds there will alter their lives forever and help him realize what it’ll take to become who they’re supposed to be.

Family is not always defined by blood. It’s defined by those who make us whole—those who make us who we are.

So what did I think?

I read Bear, Otter, and the Kid in 2012 and absolutely loved the beautiful story of family and love. I’m not sure why it took so long for me to get to Who We Are but when I was looking for a new audio book to listen to, it seemed a great time to continue the story.

This is a story of Bear and Otter, wrapped in each other’s love, facing the next steps in their future.

“….I came back for you, and I promised myself that I was never going to let you go again.” He sighs. “All I want is to grow old with you and know that one day, it’ll just be you and me, that we’ll be able to look back and be proud of what we’ve done with our lives. I want to know that you belong to me and I belong to you. I love you with everything I have and I can promise you what I’ll never ever stop. I couldn’t, even if I wanted to. It won’t be perfect, Bear, nothing ever really is. There will be days when we are angry with each other, and days where it seems the world is a fucking messed up place, but it won’t matter. Because I’ll have you and the Kid and you’ll both have me…..”

The blurb provides a really good indication of the journey this book takes – it’s full of love and family, happiness and sadness, heartache and jealously, death and new life – hilarious one minute to warm and sweet the next to shedding tears – definitely an emotional journey!

As far as being a tearjerker, there was a section of this book that had tears streaming down my face as some of the book seemed so relevant to recent events in the author’s life. Those of you who know or follow T J Klune will know exactly what I am referring to…

Spoiler Alert!

I have no idea how to add a spoiler in WordPress (I need to do some research!) so be warned that what follows is a big spoiler. Stop reading here if you don’t want to find out about one of the events in the book. If you want to read the review with spoilers hidden, check out the review on Goodreads.

It was so heartbreaking to read the scenes of Bear sitting by Otter’s hospital bed, holding his hand while he is unconscious and not knowing what the future will hold. What if Otter didn’t wake up? What if he was different? What would it mean for their lives?

“I brought up my free hand to wipe at my face, and the ring on my finger glinted in the low light, a flash that was brilliant and heartbreaking. I dropped my left hand on top of his. “You’ll see,” I said. “You’ll see. You and me? We aren’t done yet. Not by a long shot. I promise you that. I don’t care what it takes. I don’t care how you come back to me. But you come back, you hear me? You come back and everything will be fine. I don’t care if you can’t walk right, or if you can’t think right, or if you can never remember my name. It won’t matter to me, just as long as you come back. You’ll see. You’ll see how great it can be.”

The audio book is narrated by Charlie David and I loved the way he voiced this book. It is obvious that the narration is by an actor. Charlie David really captures the emotion in the moment, not just reading the words from the pages. His pace is quite fast which I really, really like. It is not a slow, dragged out kind of reading, rather a vibrant and engaging telling of the story. I think he perfectly captures the characters and is wonderfully suited to the craziness of thoughts in Bear’s head! The sex scenes are fabulous with the voice capturing passion and love. He could be soft and loving, funny and sarcastic, quite, thoughtful…….If you haven’t checked out any audio books narrated by Charlie David, do give them a try!

And speaking of other books, there is good news! As we speak TJ Klune is working on the third book in the series. There is no release date as of yet but if the epilogue of this book is any indication, pretty soon we will be hearing more of the Kid!

5 Stars

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To find out more about T.J. Klune and his books visit his website.

Buy Who We Are from Amazon.

Buy Who We Are from Audible.

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If you would like to support T.J. Klune and Eric Arvin, please do so at the following site or by buying their books!

EricArvinSupportFund

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★★★★★ Last First Kiss by Diane Adams ★★★★★

The Southern Comfort series…

  • Last First Kiss (book #1)

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Last First Kiss (Southern Comfort #1)Last First Kiss by Diane Adams

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The blurb…

Eighteen-year-old Gage Harris is not a part of twenty-five year old Trent Foster’s plans. He likes Gage but the intense attraction between them makes remaining just friends unlikely, and the young farmer with two small children is a complication Trent doesn’t need.

Despite all the reasons to stay away, Trent is pulled into the small family. Gage’s boys are delightful and the young man’s honesty and genuine affection impossible to resist. Trent is intrigued by a life so different from everything he’s known. As he struggles to reconcile his plans with his feelings Trent begins to suspect that his random offer of a ride in the rain might lead straight to his last first kiss.

So what did I think?

Totally fabulous – 5 stars all the way!

I was intrigued from the beginning, with it’s clever blog post, right through until the wonderful, happy ending. Stupidly (I’m a very impatient person!) I started this book when I went to bed and then found myself unable to put it down until I’d read the very last page. Who needs a lot of sleep – so overrated!

I wasn’t 100% sure what I was in for when the book started with Trent breaking up with his “We’re a couple, but club sex doesn’t count.” boyfriend. What a douche bag! But the book moves away from the club scene and instead we get a slow introduction to Trent, interspersed with chapter introductions in the form of Gage’s blog posts.

Trent is a medical administrator for a small practice in a small town – well educated, he had made decisions that will result in his career progressing. His stop in the current job and town is a temporary one to gain experience before moving on.

I found the reasoning for Trent’s focus on his career quite insightful. “The lack of gay role models in his life, the absence of anyone to teach him being gay did not mean he had to fill his life with shallow, meaningless sexual encounters had left him empty. As a result he had focused exclusively on his career, trapped by his belief he wouldn’t find purpose for his life anywhere else.” Thank goodness his world opened up and he’d discovered that gay men could have life-long meaningful relationships, something that he was hoping for.

Trent enjoys the quiet life which includes a scenic country detour that becomes his regular route to work. His drive down a country road takes him past Gage each day. Gage is a farmer who walks the miles to work on his uncle’s farm. One rainy day, Trent offers him a lift and thus starts a morning tradition. It is so gorgeous that a small thing, such as seeing Gage for a few minutes a day, can become so important in Trent’s life and make his day.

Gage is a wonderfully unique character – a father at age eighteen with two adorable sons. His situation is very unusual, life’s circumstances giving plenty of opportunity to show what a brave and honourable man he is. He made some tough decisions to support the mother of his children and give his boys the best life he could.

He seems so mature in so many ways that it is hard to remember he is only eighteen. However, he may appear strong and capable on one hand but on the other there are some lovely tender moments which show his vulnerability. His blog posts are heartbreaking at times, but so reinforcing of his mature reasoning and sense of ethics.

The success of this book for me with the gentle progression of the relationship between Trent and Gage and the struggles they both experienced in their attempt to do the right thing – the right thing by themselves, each other and the children. The children were superb – the individual characters were endearing (without being too cutesy) and the dialogue at the perfect level to capture the essence of a four year old.

A wonderful combination of plot and characters with emotion and drama – a true feel-good story.

This is an honest review of a book provided by the publisher, with no commitment for me to provide a review.

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To find out more about Diane Adams and her books visit her website.

Buy Last First Kiss from Amazon.

Buy directly from Love Lane Books.

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Texas Family by R.J. Scott

This great series mainly follows one couple, Riley and Jack.  Click here for the review of the first three books.

  • The Heart of Texas (book #1)
  • Texas Winter (book #2)
  • Texas Heat (book #3)
  • Texas Family (book #4) – in this review

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Texas FamilyTexas Family by R.J. Scott

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

The Blurb…

Jack and Riley Campbell-Hayes begin a journey that will change their lives forever.

Set against the backdrop of the Double D, the cast of the Texas books face changes that won’t leave a single one of them untouched.

Jack and Riley want to extend their small family of three. Their first choice is surrogacy with Jack as the father and when all this begins smoothly both men can’t help but contemplate at what point would things go wrong. After all, their lives are far from normal and nothing is ever smooth.

Add a small four year old boy in foster care into the mix and suddenly things become a whole lot more complicated.

So what did I think?

Texas Family really is about family! The story is much focused on Jack and Riley and family they are looking to build. They already have one daughter and are now looking at surrogacy and adoption.

The previous book very much had a soap opera feel with lots of drama and action and new characters. This book has a slower pace and more of a sense of domesticity. I actually liked the dose of reality as the men faced their doubts about choosing the right surrogate, their worry throughout the pregnancy and their concern about raising their children in a household such as theirs – busy lives, full careers, and yes, the two dad’s issue. There is also a special needs child who they take into their hearts.

You definitely do need to read this series in order to follow the back stories and to know who the characters are – but that’s actually a good thing because who would want to miss any of it?! I appreciated the fact that the author didn’t rehash the previous story lines to bring new readers up to speed but still allowed these stories to continue into the new book.

We were provided with a glimpse of the issues that Eden was facing with Sean, continued concerns about Beth’s health and got to see a little bit (maybe not enough?) of Eli and Robbie.

But rest assured, although we see Jack and Riley largely in the role of fathers – school visits, doctor’s appointments, family functions – they are still hugely passionate with each other – the barn especially plays a key role both in Jack’s fantasy and in one particular encounter!

This is one of those stories where reading is really like spending time with old friends which makes for warm and fuzzy reading.

One final comment…on a side note, and totally unrelated to my enjoyment of the story itself is the cover. I LOVE the pics of Jack and Riley and have always thought these men were so appealing on the covers of all the book in the series. They don’t disappoint on this cover either (totally gorgeous) but I wasn’t overly excited by the kids. I found they had a slightly old-fashioned feel but more than that, thought they maybe gave away the plot just a little too much – it wasn’t hard to guess how things would turn out.

Many thanks to the author who provided a copy of this book in return for an honest review.

❅❅❅❅❅❅❅

To find out more about. R.J. Scott and her books, visit her website.

Buy the Texas series from Amazon.

Check out my blog for other reviews of books and series by R.J. Scott as I can highly recommend them all!

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✯✯✯✯ One Small Thing (One Thing #1) by Piper Vaughn & M.J. O’Shea ✯✯✯✯

The One Thing Series:

  • One Small Thing (book #1) – in this review
  • One True Thing (book #2)

One Small Thing (One Thing, #1)One Small Thing by Piper Vaughn and M.J O’Shea

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Blurb…

“Daddy” is not a title Rue Murray wanted, but he never thought he’d have sex with a woman either. Now he’s the unwitting father of a newborn named Alice. Between bartending and cosmetology school, Rue doesn’t have time for babies, but he can’t give her up. What Rue needs is a babysitter, and he’s running out of options. He’s on the verge of quitting school to watch Alice himself when he remembers his reclusive new neighbor, Erik. Erik Van Nuys is a sci-fi novelist with anxiety issues to spare. He doesn’t like people in general, and he likes babies even less. Still, with his royalties dwindling, he could use the extra cash. Reluctantly, he takes on the role of manny-and even more reluctantly, he finds himself falling for Alice and her flamboyant father. Rue and Erik are as different as two people can be, and Alice is the unlikeliest of babies, but Rue has never been happier than when Alice and Erik are by his side. At least, not until he receives an offer that puts all his dreams within reach and he’s forced to choose: the future he’s always wanted, or the family he thought he never did.

So what did I think?

I enjoyed immersing myself in this story. I liked both Rue and Erik and their relationship was quite unique. It was interesting to watch their changing perceptions of each other and of course see them both bond with baby Alice.

I loved some of the lines as they acknowledged their feelings…
“It was as if he’d woken me up after years of living as half a person. I’d never even realized what I’d been missing, but when I kissed him it ws like everything came together, and for the first time in my life I saw the whole picture instead of just the pieces.” Erik about Rue.
“He’d somehow manged to seep into my cracks and fill all the odd, empty spots in my heart.” Rue about Erik.

The story blended interesting and seemingly opposite characters with Rue being the party boy and Erik being the reclusive author. The secondary characters were great. Lots of humour but a situation of bringing a child into the world was handled really well. It was lovely to see all the people who wanted the best for the baby.

I particularly liked Erik’s thoughts about his own feelings for Rue. “I didn’t even really know if I was gay. I suppose society would assign me that label. I was in love with a man, and he made me hot and hard, his kisses made me shiver, and there’d never been anything more perfect than the feel of his body inside mine. So maybe is was the right word. But I honestly didn’t think my attraction to Rue had anything to do with his gender. I didn’t love Rue for what he did or didn’t have. I loved him because he was Rue. Nothing else mattered.”

It as a cute little touch having Erik rewrite his book to include a romance between his male characters due to the increasing popularity of m/m romance – guaranteed to make it a best-seller!

4 Stars

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The Texas series (books 1-3) by R.J. Scott

From my archives…

This great series mainly follows one couple, Riley and Jack. As book 4 in the series, Texas Family, is due to be released next month I thought I would share my thoughts on the first 3 books in the series which I read earlier this year.

  • The Heart of Texas (book #1)
  • Texas Winter (book #2)
  • Texas Heat (book #3)
  • Texas Family (book #4) – due for release on 11 October 2013

In The Heart of Texas, Riley marries Jack to spite his father who insists that Riley must ‘marry and stay married for one year to someone he loves’. Seeing a loophole, he makes the most of it!  Jack is a corporate type, while Riley is a rancher. Riley is also the son of Jack’s father’s arch rival so the perfect man for Jack to marry. What follows is a story filled with action and plot twists (and romance of course!)

Texas Winter brings even more drama to the two men as surprises from Riley’s past present them with a situation that neither would have expected. Their story continues in Texas Heat but we are also introduced to a new relationship. Eli, a friend of Riley’s, meets and finds love with Robbie, the new cowboy on the ranch.

I am now really looking forward to Texas Family!

The Heart of Texas (Texas, #1)The Heart of Texas by R.J. Scott

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Thoroughly enjoyed this entertaining book. The story was filled with lots of action and plot twists. The end was very much a who-done-it. A real page turner with great main characters and a large group of interesting support characters.

Both Jack and Riley were strong characters and very likable, not to mention gorgeous. They worked very well together both in bed and out.

Texas Winter (Texas, #2)Texas Winter by R.J. Scott

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This sequel is an enjoyable read. There is still drama with new-found children, family relationships, a bit of corporate foul-play and a shooting but this action all happens around the main characters and does not appear to directly impact on their relationship.

It would have been good to see something really impact on Riley and Jack’s relationship and give the romance more focus.

I also found the use of ‘his husband’ when describing the men very overused plus hated Jack using the nickname ‘het-boy’ for Riley but these were only minor irritations which although used in the first book did not annoy me so much then. I am probably  just being a bit picky !

Overall it, it is a nice addition to the series and great to see more of Riley and Jack!

Texas Heat (Texas, #3)Texas Heat by R.J. Scott

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

This 3rd installment in the Texas series follows the same formula as others in the series. There is a soap opera quality as the story follows the lives of Jack and Riley with new business ventures, corporate dealings, weddings, bar brawls, ex-lover jealously, fashion photo shoots…..
Texas Heat continues the story of Jack and Riley but it also includes a new relationship. Eli, a friend of Riley’s, and Robbie, the new cowboy on the ranch, each have their own issues but find love.

Really nice easy reading.

To find out more about. R.J. Scott and her books, visit her website.

Buy the Texas series from Amazon.

Check out my blog for other reviews of books and series by R.J. Scott as I can highly recommend them all!