Series: Smoke & Bullets, Book 1
Published by: Carina Press on December 18, 2017 Rating: 3stars (★★★☆☆)
Troy Barnes feels like things are going well in his life–or at least well enough. He enjoys his work as a firefighter and things seem to be working between him and his roommate/boyfriend-on-the-downlow. But after Troy is injured while saving a young man from a fire and is asked to move out so his roommate’s pregnant girlfriend can move in, things no longer seem as solid. Not entirely sure where to go or what to do, Troy accepts an offer from paramedic Alex Tate to crash with him until he gets on his feet. Troy knows Alex loves to flirt, but the invitation doesn’t mean anything more than a friend helping out a friend, right? Or at least it doesn’t have to. Unless that’s what Troy really wants. But before these guys can start to understand any fire that might start burning between them they’ll need to track down the arsonist who is striking sites around the city…
I found myself enjoying this story quite a bit. Even though it was clear where the relationships would be going from early on, the banter between Alex and Troy (and Alex’s family–who are incredible) kept me smiling throughout my entire read. There are a couple of unexpected twists, which served as just enough to keep me on my toes at a few points in the book. This is the start of a new series, and I look forward to continuing to read it as future installments come out.
[Disclaimer: This review is based on an advance reading copy provided by the publisher via NetGalley.]
Published by: Loose Id on January 27, 2015 Rating: 3 stars (★★★☆☆)
High school football player Kyle isn’t one who would jump at the idea of a bachelor auction. But since it’s a fundraiser and Coach expects all the players to participate, he finds himself on stage, taking off his shirt, and hoping he goes for a decent bid. He certainly does not expect that shy-seeming, nerdy Craig would be the one to win the bid. Why would a guy bid on him? Kyle’s not gay. And Craig’s not, either, is he? But even if he is, that’s not a problem. But if he is and Kyle just might realize he feels something in return? Well that would be a problem of epic proportions.
This was definitely an entertaining read. For a realizing-who-I-really-am and coming out story, it stays on the lighter side overall. But that also means there are some aspects of those types of experiences that seem a bit glossed over. There almost seems to be a surprising amount of gay people (or really, really gay-friendly) people in Kyle’s life, so much so that it felt a tad unrealistic at a couple of points. And there is so. much. sex. in this book–way more than I was expecting. But it’s overall a good read, and I’d give it a solid recommendation.
Series: The Night Wars, Book 1
Published by: Torquere Press on January 31, 2012 Rating: 3stars (★★★☆☆)
Detective Fynn Adder of the Chicago Police Department is about to embark on a case that will not only make or break his career but also change his life forever. Still reeling somewhat from the loss of his fiance, Robert, a few years ago, he’s drinking more than he knows he should and is engaging in meaningless sexual encounters. So when a series of murders occurs that seem to pulling in closer to Fynn, and then when he starts getting clues from the ghosts of these murder victims, it’s only a matter of time before everything could go completely off the rails. But as Fynn and his partner Jack start to dig deeper into the case, they learn there is a lot more to the crime spree that than meets the eye. And they uncover an Adder family secret along the way.
There are moments when I was reading this one that I honestly wasn’t quite sure where it was going. But it found its way back every time, and every time an additional layer of complexity was added to the story. This is an entertaining read, with a great paranormal element threaded throughout. The relationship development aspect seemed a bit glossed over, but it felt like such a minor point in the story (with an inevitable outcome) that I didn’t see it as impacting my enjoyment of the story.
Series: Long Pass Chronicles, Book 1
Published by: Dreamspinner Press on September 18, 2014 Rating: 3stars (★★★☆☆)
Will Ashford wants to be an artist. And he’s good enough to make it. But it doesn’t fit into the life his father has laid out for him. He’s the quarterback for the SCU football team and a business major, with the expectation that he will continue to play professionally and eventually take over his father’s business. So he attends art classes in secret, even using an alias to help ensure he won’t be found out. But there’s something in his newest class that might make it harder to keep his other secret: Will is gay, and he has designs on his classmate Noah Zajack. Will is hoping he will be able to secure a prestigious scholarship so that he can leave his father’s life (and money) behind to pursue his dream. But Noah also hopes to get the scholarship, as he may not have the means to continue his studies without it. Will is torn, not only when it comes to living his truth (and figuring out exactly what that truth is) but also when it comes to his own designs on the scholarship and the direct conflict with the man he loves. But the fact that one can’t always have everything is a cliche for a reason, and there are some decisions Will must make.
I can’t say that there were a lot of unexpected twists and turns with this story, but I found myself glued to the pages from beginning to end. The situation is ripe for drama and conflict, and it certainly delivers. But there are some great moments between the characters (not just Will and Noah, but many of the supporting players as well), and I found Noah particularly endearing. Definitely worth a read.
Published by: HarperTeen on September 5, 2017 Rating: 4 stars (★★★★☆)
In a future where people receive a phone call on the day they will die to let them know it is their last day, Mateo Torrez and Rufus Emeterio happen to get the call on the same day. Total strangers to each other, they meet up on an app called Last Friend and decide to spend their End Day together. For Mateo, it’s an opportunity to step outside of the cautious life he’s lived to find some adventure and tie up loose ends. For Rufus, who has a number of his own challenges to work through, a day with Mateo provides a chance to be a bit more carefree on his last day while spending his time with someone who understands exactly what he’s going through. And both find that it truly is amazing how deeply a bond can form in less than 24 hours…
This is a moving and thought-provoking book. Of course, it raises the obvious questions about whether one would want to know they were going to die or simply let it come as it does. And there’s the question of how we choose to live our lives on a day-to-day basis–live every day as if it’s your last or save that for your actual last day? And what does living your life as though it’s your last day really mean? The chances we don’t take may sometimes be just as impactful on our lives as the ones we do. And even though the title tells you exactly where this book is headed, I found I was still completely gutted when I got there. These two characters and the world in which they live really comes to life on these pages, and I found myself lost in the book and hoping–even just for a moment–for an ending that I (and Rufus and Mateo) knew deep down wasn’t possible.
Published by: Samhain Publishing on July 19, 2011 Rating: 3 stars (★★★☆☆)
Al Fletcher never expected what would happen when he helped a drunk Larry Morton home. His efforts were not exactly appreciated as Larry sent him away and threatened to call the police. Though he came and apologized after he sobered up, it was still a bit of a jarring experience. But the two started spending time together, finding after a short time that the last thing Larry would want to do is send Al away. It might be too good to be true, though, as they come from two completely different worlds. And as much as they seem to click together, Al can’t help wondering if Larry can truly see past those differences in the long term…
This is a short read that moves quickly while managing to bring the reader right along for the ride. Without a lengthy exposition, the conflict that exists for these characters is made real rather quickly. Readers get a strong sense of both characters, even though the story is written from the perspective of only one of them. A well-written and entertaining story!
Series: The Angel of 13th Street, Book 1
Published by: Torquere Press on May 12, 2010 Rating: 3stars (★★★☆☆)
Jeremy Kincaid is hiding out. He loved his boyfriend, and he thought his boyfriend loved him. But he’s not willing to live the life of a hustler, selling himself on the street, even if it’s for love. And when he crosses paths with Noah Everett, a kind man who seems interested in helping him with no expectation of anything in return, he thinks he may have found his way out. But this is not Noah’s first entanglement with the men who want Jeremy to come work for them. He has a history of helping young men get out, and that history has not gone unnoticed. Their meeting may be what puts Jeremy’s would-be boss over the edge, but it also might be what sets the stage for both of them to finally be free of their pasts. If they can make it through to the end, that is…
Complex characters with storied histories and lots of baggage pepper this story from beginning to end. There are twists and connections that may not immediately be expected, but once they are explained they make total sense and are part of spinning together the web that is at the heart of this entire story. The characters are dynamic and easy to connect to, and I found myself lost in the world of this story a little more quickly than I had initially expected. It’s a relatively easy and quick read, sure to entertain while pulling at the heartstrings just a bit at the same time.
Published by: Dreamspinner Press on January 5, 2017 Rating: 3 stars (★★★☆☆)
Christopher Vincent has tried his best to avoid drawing attention to his psychic abilities. That’s more of his mother’s thing, and he’d like to try to live a normal life. But when a bit of desperation leads him to accept a job as a psychic at his friend’s club, it looks like he may have no choice. And then there’s the issue of his friend’s brother, Jack. Chris can’t keep his eyes off the man, and they even had a brief encounter years ago, but they’re from two different worlds. Which is made even more apparent by Jack’s clear disapproval of Chris’s work in the club. But when a mysterious stranger begins to target the three of them, they may all have to rely on Chris’s abilities even more than any of them expected. And it just might be what’s needed for Chris to break down the wall between him and Jack once and for all.
I would describe this as a light and easy read, despite the fact that there’s a very dark character hanging out on the periphery for most of the book. There are some definite twists and turns that I didn’t expect while still keeping many of the elements one might expect from a romantic thriller. Enjoyable, entertaining, and recommended.
Series: Infected, Book 2
Published by: Dreamspinner Press on December 16, 2010 Rating: 3stars (★★★☆☆)
Roan McKichan was born infected–it’s what he’s always known. But in a world where the virus turns people into werecats, the noninfected don’t really care how you got it. An ex-cop, Roan works now as a private investigator with a reputation for taking cases many others might not. Despite being newly married, Roan is not one to slow down, and the case he’s just pulled is one that is going to pull him down to some of the lowest depths of society while rubbing elbows with some of the most well-known elites in the city. With Roan’s line of work, he knows everyone meets their end at some point–even though many of us are often unwilling to face what that means until it’s too late.
I know this series is not “new” per se (hey, it’s new to me), but there’s a freshness to it that I found to resonate with me as a reader. The entire cast of characters really reflect a humanity that I think would appear (and be needed) in a world like this. And there are some strong parallels to some things we have seen throughout our own history reflected back in this story of an alternate future. As much as he would probably refuse to admit it, Roan is also developing as a character, and I am very interested in seeing where he goes next.
Series: Hours of the Night, Book 2
Published by: Prescourt Books on October 12, 2017 Rating: 4stars (★★★★☆)
When a prominent society lady (and, as it turns out, essentially the head of a powerful coven) mysteriously dies at her own party, the only thing anyone knows for certain is that foul play is more than suspected. So it’s also no surprise that Thaddeus and Sarasija find themselves working to track down the murderer. And if it’s not enough to be on the trail of someone (or something) nefarious, they still need to track down the missing grimoire (a.k.a. guide to demon summoning) while Thaddeus is struggling to keep himself in control and Sara is having strange dreams that he is keeping to himself. Recipe for disaster? Probably. But these two just might be up to the challenge.
I was excited to see another installment in this series. There was something about Thaddeus and Sara that drew me in when I read Vespers, and that something is definitely still here. These two have experiences that are so different–they’re even from different eras, really–and through those differences they have managed to find something that works for them. Now, sometimes it doesn’t work as well as others, but I think it’s safe to say that is true of nearly any relationship. There are some unexpected twists to rush down in reading this story, and–I’ll just put it out there now–there are some unanswered questions that remain at the end. But that’s what book three is for, right?
[Disclaimer: This review is based on an advance reading copy provided by the authors.]