At Attention by Annabeth Albert

img_3368

Book: At Attention

Series: Out of Uniform #2

Author: Annabeth Albert

Release date: April 10, 2017

Main characters: LT Apollo Floros, Navy SEAL and grieving single father; Dylan, (Apollo’s friend’s younger brother) confident and in love with Apollo since forever.

Plot: Apollo Flores likes to be in control. A military man through and through, he likes everything to be as black-and-white as possible. With twin girls to raise and a demanding career, he needs some domestic help over the summer.

Apollo’s best friend’s brother Dylan needs a place to stay over the summer and he is qualified in early-years education and excellent with children. Appllo hasn’t seen Dylan in years and one thing is for certain: he’s all grown up!

Dylan has always harboured a crush on Apollo – he spent his adolescence mooning over him. Not much has changed – except that this time, Apollo has actually taken notice. Apollo’s heart might be unavailable at the moment, but maybe, just maybe, if he glimpses what they could have together, he’d change his mind…

Why you should read it: I loved this story – it was low on drama, but high on character development. The characters had depth and their own journeys and experiences to learn from. Apollo is in such pain – grieving for his former life with his husband. Now he is barely keeping things together for his girls. His despair was palpable in many ways and I understood his reluctance to put himself out there again. Dylan was a sweetie – he’s young, focused and incredibly mature. I like how he didn’t put up with Apollo’s nonsense!

What you may not like: No clue. It was well written, interesting and very smart. The dialogue was spot on and made me tear up as well as laugh out loud.

Rating: 5/5 for an engaging and absorbing read.

Next to You by Daisy Prescott

A man and a woman embrace. Her back is to his front. He kisses her shoulder.Book: Next to You

Series:  Love with Altitude novel #1

Author: Daisy Prescott

Release date: 5 July 2016

Main characters: Stan Barnard, aka Lee, (aka Stan man-bun) bartender and rugby player. Sage Blum, his neighbour and quite possibly the woman of his dreams.

Blurb: “If you want to date me, all you need to do is say the word. I’d never let you go.”

I added Sage to my rugby club’s annual list of women who are off limits thinking I could protect her from the gorillas I play with. Aspen’s a small town in the off season when the dating pool shrinks to the size of a melted snowflake. Never did I think I’d be the one to break the code and date her.

Even if it’s all for show. A wager between friends. An excuse to hang out with her more.

Nothing more than that.
Right?

***

Who agrees to date their best friend over a green smoothie? Apparently this girl right here.

Now the man-bun-sporting South African rugby god next door is my fake boyfriend. I need to rebuild my confidence after some poor dating decisions. Who could be better to fluff my ego than Aspen’s hottest bachelor?

This situation is a win-win.
Right?

Why you should read it: I’ve been binge-reading Daisy Prescott books like it’s the end of the world or something. They’re always fun, always smart and romantic as hell, without being over the top or too schmaltzy. I loved this one for its warmth and its characters. I liked that Stan has vulnerabilities and wasn’t afraid to show them to Sage. I enjoyed their playful banter and friendship. It made their blossoming relationship that much more satisfying when it got going. There was no major angst or overblown misunderstandings, just an honest-to-goodness story about a fun couple deciding that they may actually be more than friends.

What you may not like: Hunky South African rugby players with a man-bun not your thing? Ooh well, don’t read this book then! I enjoyed this story and its setting so much that I can’t think of any negatives. The story didn’t drag – it wasn’t drama central, and the heroine wasn’t annoying. All of these things usually impair my enjoyment of a book, and not one of those issues could be found here.

Rating: 4/5 for a truly sweet read that will make you go awww as well as make your toes curl (if ya know what I mean…).

Quickie review: The Rules by Elizabeth Brown

the rulesBook: The Rules

Series: Off-limits #2

Author: Elizabeth Brown

Release date: February 2nd, 2016

Main characters: Ainsley Andrews, heroine who is living with bi-polar disorder and younger sister to Ryan (from The Lessons). ‘Lambo’ Christie, successful hotelier and best friend to Ryan – also he harbours a deep attraction to Ainsley.

Blurb:

When you’re a guy, the rules are simple. Live by the Bro Code:
Rule #1: Always have his back.
Rule #2: Don’t ever leave him stranded.
Rule #3: And never, ever, touch his sister.
Aw hell, two out of three ain’t bad.

Ainsley Andrews has tried everything to get over her issues with intimacy. EVERYTHING. But nothing seems to work. Now, twenty-four years old, it seems the only man that can get her motor running is her brother’s best friend. A strictly off-limits guy that stole her breath when she was just sixteen…

Why you should read it: This is the second book in the Off-limits series and it’s so good! I postponed reading it as we meet Ainsley in book one and she’d been through a whole lot. Why did I postpone reading this book? Because I thought it would be really heavy read. I was totally wrong! Don’t get me wrong, the book does deal with some pretty heavy issues, but the way it was handled was balanced and there is plenty of optimism and humour in these pages to leave you feeling good at the end. I loved the dynamic between Ainsley and Lam – the pair are drawn together and a mutual misunderstanding has them thinking that the other hates them. Their developing relationship built at a steady pace and it was pitched just right in my opinion – no insta-love and no race to the finish.

What you may not like: I don’t have personal experience of any of the issues in the book, so can’t comment on its realism. If you do, you may or may not like the depiction of sexual dyfunction or bi-polar disorder – I guess it’s a judgement call. I loved the inherently optimistic tone of the book, its sexiness and its entertaining narrative.

Rating: 4/5 for a fun and touching read. Love the characters and look forward to book 3! Out on 4 April.

Ready to Fall by Daisy Prescott

Book: Ready to Fall

Series: Wingmen #1

Author: Daisy Prescott

Release date: May 2016 (republished)

Main characters: John Day, lumberjack hottie (well, he calls himself a logger); Diane Watson, his temporary neighbour, who’s trying to make sense of life post-divorce.

Blurb:

Tall, dark, and handsome is an understatement when it comes to John Day. With rugged good looks, his ever present plaid shirt, and a dog named Babe, John is a modern alpha male lumberjack.

After his favorite neighbor rents out her beach cabin for the winter, John finds himself playing fireman and tour guide to Diane Watson, a beautiful brunette with her own messy past and recent battle scars.

Will he be ready to fall in love? Or will he go back to his old, flirty ways?

 

Why you should read it: Oh how I love Daisy Prescott. If you read Geoducks are for Lovers, you’ll remember John. He’s tall, rugged and so very handsome. He has a sweet nature and has his sights set on Diane. At first, he doesn’t know what to make of her, but the longer the two hangout together, the more he sees in her. He understands her vulnerabilities and wants to know why she’s withdrawn into herself. I enjoyed the budding friendship that gradually turned into more. The chemistry was believable and I defy you not to be rooting for these two.

Diane has been through a lot and her self-esteem has taken a bit of a battering. Despite this, she isn’t bitter and her determination to get on with her life is inspiring.

What you may not like: Cannot think of anything – this book had it all: the great outdoors and the descriptions of the rural area were so vivid, you’d think you were actually there. It’s a heartwarming story that  I will definitely be re-reading. I loved the scenes between John and Diane – especially the one where she got hurt and he looked after her. Swoon!

Rating: 4/5 for a fun, touching and sexy tale. Looking forward to more books in the series.

The Night Mark by Tiffany Reisz

the-night-mark-cover

Book: The Night Mark

Author: Tiffany Reisz

Release date: 28 March 2017

Main character: Faye Barlow, heroine still grieving the loss of her husband four years ago.

My name is Victoria Faye Barlow. I’ve always gone by Faye because Vicky is my mom. I was born June 5, 1985 in Portsmouth, New Hampshire…

Plot: Faye Barlow made the mistake of marrying a man she didn’t love soon after the death of her husband, Will. Drowning in grief and an unhappy marriage, she decides to break away and start again.

Her new life takes her to South Carolina wherein she reprises her career as photographer and intends to capture the beauty of Bride Island and its abandoned lighthouse. However, an accident along the beach propels her back in time to 1921, where she meets Carrick Morgan, lighthouse keeper and her late husband’s doppelgänger. Will Faye make the choice between past and present, or will time have its own agenda for her?

Why you should read it: This book is truly beautifully written. The detail of the location and depth of the narrative immersed me fully into the story. Faye is so disenchanted with life it’s palpable. Seeing her return to the land of the living was uplifting and the story kept me gripped. The writing was smart – there were no stereotypical characters in the narrative, each had their own facets and complexities. I loved all of the main characters – Carrick, Faye and Dolly. The practicalities of living in a different time were explored too – it wasn’t glossed over or idealised.

What you may not like: If you’re not a fan of time travel or slightly fantastical elements then you may struggle with this. I thought it was wonderfully done and wasn’t heavy-handed on the magical aspects, as some reads can be.

Rating: 5/5 for an engrossing, romantic and very smart read. I would expect no less from Tiffany Reisz and she didn’t disappoint.

Madly by Ruthie Knox

Cover image for Madly. A woman lies on a man's chest.Book: Madly

Series: New York #2

Author: Ruthie Knox

Release date: 14 March 2017

Main characters: Allie Fredericks, younger sister to May (from Truly), desperately trying to keep her family from falling apart. Winston Chamberlain, father to Beatrice, big brother to Nev (from About Last Night) and all at sea in New York.

Plot: Allie Fredericks is on a surveillance mission. Convinced her mother’s regular disappearances from home are due to infidelity, she sets out to confront her. Hopefully her mother will return to Wisconsin with her. In order for her stakeout to work, Allie commandeers the services of a customer in the bar.

When he walked into the bar, Winston had no idea that he would be drawn into a crazy situation with an even crazier woman. Used to an ordered life, all he was expecting was a quick drink. Instead he comes face to face with a firebrand from the mid-west.

 “Because you never know when the person you meet at a bar might turn out to be the most interesting thing to happen to you in all your life.”

A few drinks and a few deep conversations later, Winston determines to follow whatever this is between him and Allie to its conclusion. He’s never done anything just because it felt good – now seems like the perfect time to start. The pair don’t have a lot in common at first glance, but once they start sharing their innermost secrets, without lies, they find not only a mutual attraction, but possibly even a future together – but will they have the courage to see it through?

Why you should read it: It’s been a while since we’ve heard from Ruthie Knox and I for one have missed her! Madly is the next book in the New York series and focuses on May’s sister, Allie. She’s complicated, frustrating, well meaning and misunderstood. She’s a seriously interesting character who isn’t perfect, even by the end of the book. I wouldn’t want her to be. She learns a ton during the book and she’s entertaining as hell. Winston is hella different from his brief appearance in About Last Night. Four years later he’s seen the error of his ways and is looking for a way to change the rut that his life has become. Their chemistry was believable and their encounters had a truth about them that I enjoyed immensely.

What you may not like: I totally enjoyed this book, so it’s difficult to think of negatives. As I stated before, Allie isn’t perfect so sometimes she can be completely frustrating. She doesn’t always say what’s on her mind, making a bad situation worse. This is human nature. Winston doesn’t know how to relate to his daughter and as a result she runs all over him – again, this is human nature, especially in a post-divorce situation, so I totally bought it.

Rating: 4/5 for an original, entertaining, sensitively written and thought-provoking read. Good to have Ruthie back!

Fair Chance by Josh Lanyon

Two men stand closely to each other looking out into the distanceBook: Fair Chance

Series: All’s Fair #3

Author: Josh Lanyon

Release date: 13 March 2017

Main characters: Elliot Mills, former FBI agent, now university lecturer. Special Agent Tucker Lance, his partner, trying to put an old case to bed and get on with his life with Elliot.

Plot: Elliot Mills has been through a lot in the past couple of years. The object of a serial killer’s obsession, he’s finally ready to be done with the ‘Sculptor’, (the sociopath’s moniker) now that he’s safely behind bars. However, the Sculptor seems to have other ideas. His correspondence seems to suggest that he didn’t always work alone and that Elliot may not be safe yet, after all.

Tucker Lance is glad that the Sculptor is behind bars and not in danger of getting out any time soon. His fxation on Elliot always had him worried, and all he wants to do is keep Elliot out of FBI business and move on without the shadow of murder and mayhem over them. However, it soon becomes clear that Elliot couldn’t stay out of the investigation even if he wanted to – with Tucker’s life possibly in danger, Elliot has to go down the rabbit hole once more…

Why you should read it: This book was a long time coming. I barely remember the earlier books in the series, but this one is definitely my favourite. The dialogue, the story’s twists and turns and the pace of the book were perfect and had me hooked from the start. Elliot and Tucker’s relationship has evolved into something strong and grown up. They are both fiercely protective of each other, but it didn’t descend into angst-ridden drama. The story was thrilling and it kept me guessing.

What you may not like: Not a fan of grisly thrillers? Maybe it’s not for you then. It’s a series, so if you’ve read books one and two, you really should find out how it all ends. I loved the book and all its creepiness.

Rating: 5/5 for a well-crafted tale with a very satisfying conclusion.

Every Little Thing by Samantha Young

eltcoverBook: Every Little Thing

Series: Hart’s Boardwalk #2

Author: Samantha Young

Release date: March 7th, 2017

Main characters: Bailey Hartwell, feisty and warm-hearted owner of Hart’s inn. Vaughn Tremaine, successful hotelier and an enigma Bailey can’t decipher.

Blurb: Bailey Hartwell has many reasons to feel content – her successful business, a close circle of friends and her steady boyfriend . . . even if their romance feels staid after ten years without a serious commitment. The only challenge in her life comes in the form of sexy businessman Vaughn Tremaine. She thinks the ex-New Yorker acts superior and that he considers her a small-town nobody. But when Bailey’s blindsided by a betrayal, she’s shocked to discover Vaughn is actually a decent guy.

Vaughn admires Bailey’s free spirit, independence and loyalty. As his passion for her has grown, his antagonism toward her has only worsened. Every little thing Bailey does seduces him. But when Vaughn’s painful emotional past makes him walk away in fear he will hurt her, it opens an old wound in Bailey, and she uncharacteristically retreats.
Once Vaughn begins to realise he’s made the biggest mistake of his life, he has no choice but to fight like he’s never fought before to convince Bailey that the love they’ve found together only comes around once in a lifetime . . .

Why you should read it: I have been looking forward to this book since finishing book 1, The One Real Thing. Bailey was an interesting character in it and she remained just as engaging in this story. She’s bold, fearless and brave, yet deep down she’s as gooey as a brownie. (eh? I mean she’s soft on the inside.) She’s drawn to Vaughn in a way she can’t explain – they tear strips off each other, yet can’t seem to leave each other alone. Vaughn is a cool customer – in book 1 he’s the in-control businessman. To see him come undone by Bailey is truly satisfying. Their chemistry was strong and their exchanges are very entertaining.

What you might not like: Not much. I was worried there’d be too much angst and back and forth between Vaughn and Bailey, but this is Samantha Young writing another entertaining and romantic story, full of twists with yet more intriguing peripheral characters. I want more characters and more books in this series!

Rating: 4/5 for a satisfyingly sexy read. I’m beginning to love the seaside town of Hartwell.

Follow Me Into Darkness: the Reboot

imageLast year five of the top voices in queer romance teamed up to give you Follow Me Into Darkness: Five Tales of Carnivale Romance. Their stories were bold, they were decadent, they were achingly sinful. They begged you to remove your masks just once and many of you listened as they looked into the heart of modern day New Orleans and its steamy past, as they followed a queen in disguise, as they walked through the lush streets of Rio, and then continued straight on into the lofty pages of a Shakespearean soliloquy.

Mardi Gras is coming fast and Follow Me Into Darkness is back to seduce you! It’s on sale for only 99 cents from 26 February- 5 March plus the authors are giving you gifts and treats along the way!

For one week only, romance writers Santino Hassell, J.R. Gray, J.C. Lillis, Roan Parrish, and Kris Ripper dare you to take off your masks again…but are you ready for what might happen if you do?

About the Book:

Carnivale is a time for decadence, for revelry, and for mischief. A time when we shed the figurative masks we wear in everyday life in favor of new ones… ones that allow us to be a little bolder, a little more adventurous, and perhaps a little truer to ourselves. Follow Me Into Darkness is a compilation of original tales of queer romance by five of the premier authors of contemporary romance.

Hurricane by Santino Hassell

Interesting things never happened to Zay. He was the wallflower everyone forgot about as soon as the booze began to flow, and Mardi Gras had never been an exception. But after a chance encounter with a devil-may-care grifter, this year’s celebration brings adventure and whirlwind romance.

If We Be Friends by J.C. Lillis

Seventeen-year-old Ven should be flying highhe’s playing the title role in a new TV drama about Hamlet’s teen years, and tonight they’re having a Mardi Gras cast party in a possibly-haunted castle. But Ven’s lost all his mirth since his boyfriend suggested they “take a break,” so he plans to skip the bash and brood in his trailer all night. Then the exasperating guy who plays Horatio challenges him to a Shakespearean soliloquy-off, and Ven knows his actorly honor is at stake. He says yes to the duel, trudges off to the the party to meet his fate–and finds that more awaits him onstage than a battle of wits and words.

Masked by J.R. Gray

Blistering heat and half-naked masked men as far as the eye can see, but Heath runs into the one face it’s taken him fifteen years to forget. Javier is plagued with a life of regret, but when a second chance confronts him, can he let go of his hang-ups and seize the moment?

The Queen’s Reflection by Kris Ripper

Isah plays the role everyone expects: malleable and cautious, a true queen. But what others see as a queen’s appropriate modesty is really just a disguise for what Isah has never told anyone, the thing no one can ever know.

This body, dressed in the queen’s gowns, is a lie.

Once a year, at carnival, Isah dons someone else’s clothes and becomes them for a night. A young cook in stained whites, or a stableboy in worn breeches. As long as no one gets too close the pretense holds.

Until two strangers look past all the characters and Isah finally exposes the person behind the mask.

Touched by Roan Parrish

Sometimes when he touches people Philippe Rondeau sees their future. It’s erratic and inconvenient, but mostly he’s learned to deal with it. Sure he hasn’t found true love yet, but he has friends and lovers, and is kept busy running his family’s jazz club in Prohibition-era New Orleans. But now it’s Mardi Gras and all bets are off. In the space of one night, Philippe falls under the spell of jazz musician Claude and learns a terrible secret about his powers. If Philippe is certain of anything it’s that the future can be tricky, but the chance at love makes it all seem worthwhile.

If you fancy entering our giveaway – enter here:

(Giveaway prizes: 1 of 3 (three) $5 Amazon Gift Cards and 1 of 2 (two) e-copies of a backlist book by one of the Follow Me Into Darkness authors.)

Buy Links:

Publisher Page

Amazon

BN, Apple, Kobo, Scribd:  https://books2read.com/u/4jnql4

Goodreads

banner

Something in the Way by Jessica Hawkins – Author Q & A and review

Hi!

jessicaIf you follow this blog, you’ll know how much I like and admire Jessica Hawkins. She’s awesome. So when she announced that she was releasing a new book (kind of surreptitiously actually – she never wants to make a big fuss) I was super excited. She’s done the odd standalone, but she really is a serial kind of woman.

Something in the Way will be a trilogy (trilogies I can handle – 5-parters and I start to tire!) and I was quite curious about this series so decided to ask a few questions (and basically be a bit nosey).

Me: Jess, hi. It’s been a while since we’ve spoken – you’ve been busy and written 3 books since I saw you in June! I have a few questions…

1. When you had the idea for Manning and Lake did you know it was going to span 3 books?

Jess: I knew instantly, yes. The story grew so large and so fast in my head that there was no way it would ever fit in one book. Book 1 was the tip of the iceberg as far as I’m concerned…

2. What kind of timescale will this trilogy cover?

Jess: I don’t want to give too much away, but it will happen over a long period. Many of my other books span weeks or months — that won’t be the case with Something in the Way. It’ll be years…

[Ooh – interesting…]

3. Did you have any qualms about the age difference of your main characters?

Jess: No qualms. I love a good forbidden story, and I’ve always been interested in exploring the teenage girl’s “crush” mentality. I always thought it would be a teacher-student story, to be honest. I worked very hard with my editor to make sure Manning and Lake’s relationship was right for the story. In terms of their physical relationship, I quickly learned that I didn’t need or want to cross a single line to tell this because the story was so much better without it.

4. Was Lake’s dad based on anyone real? – because… he’s kind of an asshole!

Jess: Maybe! Definitely not my dad, who is extremely supportive and who, in fact, patiently talked me through the various legal scenarios toward the ending. However, my brother went to USC and 3/4 of my family is cultish about it (me being the 1/4 who isn’t). 🙂

Review

sitwBook: Something in the Way book #1

Release date: 28 February 2017

Main characters: Manning Sutter, building contractor and seemingly without a family. Lake Kaplan, obedient daughter about to embark on a  future that’s already been mapped out.

Blurb: It was a hot summer day when I met him on the construction site next to my parents’ house. Under the sweat and dirt, Manning Sutter was as handsome as the sun was bright. He was older, darker, experienced. I wore a smiley-face t-shirt and had never even been kissed. Yet we saw something in each other that would link us in ways that couldn’t be broken…no matter how hard we tried.

I loved Manning before I knew the meaning of the word. I was too young, he said. I would wait. Through all the carefully-chosen words hiding what we knew to be true, through his struggle to keep me innocent, and through infinitely-starry nights—I would wait. But I’d learn that life isn’t always fair. That no matter how much you achieve, none of it matters if you suffer the heartbreak that comes with falling for someone you can never have. Because even though I saw Manning first, that didn’t matter. My older sister saw him next.

Why you should read it: The writing in this story is beautiful. The dialogue, the evocative sense of a certain period in time was spot on. The writing flowed and it accurately depicted both the mindset of a teen girl and a young man. It set the scene for the series and also gave a good sense of the characters. Lake is quite immature by today’s standards – but it’s part and parcel of her sheltered upbringing. Her parents have clearly overcompensated with Lake, since their ‘failures’ with her older sister, Tiffany. This series is going to be a nail-biter and heavy on the angst, but if it’s done as well as in this book, I don’t think it will be too much.

What you might not like: As I said before, we’re dealing with first love and a main character who, although intelligent, is severely lacking in any street-smarts. She’s sensible for the most part, but inevitably, the moment she decides to cut loose and do something a little out of character, all hell breaks loose! This provides much of the drama, and I guess we’ll have to see how the story unfolds.

Rating: 4/5 for a promising start to a series that will cover a significant amount of time! It does end on a cliffhanger of sorts, so note that book 2, Somebody Else’s Sky isn’t out until May 2017.