Tag Archives: genre: romance

Ace in the Hole by Ava Drake

Ace in the Hole

Ace in the Hole by Ava Drake

Series: Wild Cards, Book 1
Published by: Dreamspinner Press on July 1, 2016
Rating: 3 stars (★★★☆☆)

Christian Chatsworth-Brandeis is nothing if not devoted to his job. And even though the senator he works for is probably not the greatest human being on the planet, Christian is not going to let him down. Besides, it is only for a few more years and then he can be on to something bigger and better. But when a series of threats against the senator lead to the hiring of an additional security team–one that includes Stone Jackson–things go in some unexpected directions. And the almost completely fall off the rails when the senator disappears right before a series of important public appearances and fundraising events. But Christian has a plan…and he can only hope that his burning attraction for Stone–something it’s clear is reciprocal–doesn’t get in the way.

Fun. Lighthearted. Original. Steamy. These are all words I would use to describe this book. It is written in an engaging and entertaining style, and I found myself quickly drawn in to Christian and Stone’s world. It is well worth a read, and is the first book in a series so I am looking forward to what’s to come…

At Attention by Annabeth Albert

At Attention

At Attention by Annabeth Albert

Series: Out of Uniform, Book 2
Published by: Carina Press on April 10, 2017
Rating: 3 stars (★★★☆☆)

Lieutenant Apollo Floros will not readily admit he needs help. But being a father to his two girls after his husband’s death has been a challenge. But his friend’s younger brother needs a place to stay and it just might be a win-win situation all around. Until Apollo sees Dylan all grown up and finds he is not so sure it could work. After all, Dylan always had a crush of his own on Apollo and the combination of them living together could be a recipe for disaster. But the girls take to Dylan right away and Apollo really could use the help…

When you put two headstrong and stubborn men who harbor an attraction for each other in the same house, it can be like sitting on a powder keg as sparks fall from the ceiling. And that is exactly what is packed into this story. But you can expect that when that powder keg does finally catch, there will be quite the explosion. There are those times when we stand in our own way and we just need someone to help us realize it in order to move forward.

[This review is based on an advance review copy received from the publisher via NetGalley.]

Second Chances by Kimberly Hunter

Second Chances

Second Chances by Kimberly Hunter

Published by: Kimberly Hunter on June 27, 2013 (re-release)
Rating: 3 stars (★★★☆☆)

After being kidnapped by an abusive former lover, Noah Richards has found it challenging to trust another person. But he is committed to putting that behind him, determined to still live his life to the fullest extent possible. Marcus Stewart was left behind by the man he thought was the love of his life, leaving him heartbroken and uncertain if he ever wants to give someone that part of him again. But when Noah and Marcus meet, the connection is difficult to deny. And so they both need to find a way to look forward if they want to act on that spark and see where it leads. But the past, for both of them, may not be as far behind them as they believe it to be…

“I grew up in the Mid-West where being gay is as bad as being a Democrat.”

I can relate to that! And overall, this is an interesting read. The way the author tells the two histories of these gentlemen makes for an engaging story that builds to some unwelcome surprises as the plot trucks along. I will say that there are some descriptions of violence that may be uncomfortable for people who have a hard time reading that, but it is nothing too graphic and is only in a small part of the story. Worth a read.

Fair Chance by Josh Lanyon

Fair Chance

Fair Chance by Josh Lanyon

Series: All’s Fair, Book 3
Published by: Carina Press on March 13, 2017
Rating: 3 stars (★★★☆☆)

Former FBI agent, Elliot Mills, thought he’d left his crime-fighting life behind. But when he fell right into the middle of the path of a serial killer, he found out it wasn’t that simple. And even though the culprit was apprehended, it turns out it’s still not over. The Sculptor may not have been acting alone. And he is all to happy to draw Elliot back into the path of the storm–much to the dismay of his partner, Special Agent Tucker Lance. Danger threatens them both, and it might be the thing that pulls them apart forever. But if they can make it through alive, could it also be the thing that pushes them together once and for all?

I found myself wrestling with this one a little. It was an interesting read, but it felt a bit like trying to hang on to the story of the previous book. At times it felt like a new chapter, and at times it felt like a continuation. And it was a bit more predictable than I’m used to seeing from one of Lanyon’s books. I think part of it is that I was wanting to see the Sculptor behind them with the chance for them to focus on moving forward. Maybe if there’s another book?

[Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley.]

Bound to Fall by Jaime Samms

Bound to Fall

Bound to Fall by Jaime Samms

Published by: Dreamspinner Press on June 26, 2015
Rating: 3 stars (★★★☆☆)

Actor Eddie Crane has been plagued with guilt and in mourning for almost a decade. Ever since the love of his life died in a car accident, while Eddie was driving, he’s felt responsible for the death and exhibits a recklessness that could only be described as dangerous. But his manager and best friend always does the best she can to keep him on track. And she’s hoping that some time out of the spotlight learning to ride horses for an upcoming role can help–at least for a little while.

Arthur Pike has mixed feelings about having to teach Eddie to ride. Eddie doesn’t make a good first impression. But Pike can’t deny that the actor has played a role in more than one of his fantasies over the years. And even though it might be easy just to dismiss Eddie as a piece of work, Pike can’t deny that he comes with enough of his own baggage to fill a storage locker.

When it becomes clear the spark of attraction is mutual, they both need to make some decisions. Can Eddie find a way to open up to someone else, knowing that it could all be over in a flash? Can Pike put his own bruised heart aside and trust that love is possible? And can the two of them stay out of trouble long enough to not find themselves on the cover of every tabloid magazine?

These two guys… They’ve both been through so much, and I just had to feel for them. Now that’s not to say there weren’t moments when I wanted to reach through the pages and shake them. But the author approaches their hesitations, their reservations, and their choices in what I feel is a very organic, respectful, and realistic way. And despite some of the heavy baggage they both bring to the story, there are moments of humor to get you through. This isn’t a tear-jerker, but it’s a good reflection on love, loss, and trust–not only for another person but also for yourself.

Texas Winter by R.J. Scott

Texas Winter

Texas Winter by R.J. Scott

Series: Texas, Book 2
Published by: Love Lane Books on June 5, 2013 (2nd edition)
Rating: 3 stars (★★★☆☆)

Riley hoped that he was free from any further harm his family could cause him when his brother died. But the FBI isn’t so willing to ignore the things that Riley’s brother did…things that could put the family business and name on the line. But thankfully for Riley, he has Jack and Jack’s supportive family to help him get through it all. Past unethical behavior by his brother isn’t all Riley has to worry about–it turns out he has an eight-year-old daughter who has just showed up on his doorstep. The start of a marriage for any couple can be challenging, but with all of these added complications, can Jack and Riley find a way to make it work?

This is an interesting glimpse into how Riley and Jack work to find their way forward after the incredibly unorthodox way they came together in the first place. You don’t need to have read the first book to follow this story, but it is my impression that it would help considerably in just having context of some of the references to previous events. It is entertaining, engaging, and at few points even suspenseful. I do find myself looking forward to finding out what happens in the next book, which is currently loaded on my Kindle and ready to go.

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

The Song of Achilles

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

Published by: Bloomsbury on September 20, 2011
Rating: 4 stars (★★★★☆)

Princes in exile generally know they cannot expect too many great things out of life. Which is where Patroclus found himself when he was sent to the court of King Peleus. What he did not expect was to become friends with the king’s son, Achilles, and forge a quick and defining bond. The two become fast friends and there is the lingering sense for Patroclus that their connection might mean something more. A sense that Achilles’s mother, the sea goddess Thetis, does not appreciate at all. And Thetis makes it her mission to keep the two of them apart–for her son’s own good, obviously.

But things change for everyone when Helen of Sparta is kidnapped. Princes from all around are asked to join in the fight–and Achilles cannot escape the call. Despite the danger, Patroclus must decide whether to go with Achilles into battle, knowing in his heart that they cannot live apart. And knowing that the battlefield might just be where everything about both of their lives is truly tested…

I’ll be honest that I was a bit sold on this book before I even opened it up. Mythology, fantasy, romance, etc. are all things I tend to enjoy. But when I opened it up and fell into the story that Madeline Miller crafted, I was surprised at the wonderful construction of this book. Telling epic tales is not easy. It can be even more challenging when it is a story with which many readers may already have some familiarity. But Miller’s narrative is fresh, engaging, and compelling. And this has quickly risen to near the top of my favorite mythology-based novels. If you haven’t read it and have even a passive interest in any of its genre tags, considering picking it up at your earliest convenience!

Second Chances by Nate Tanner

Second Chances

Second Chances by Nate Tanner

Published by: Nate Tanner on August 13, 2014
Rating: 3 stars (★★★☆☆)

Neil is in a tough spot. He’s nearly broke and all on his own. Which is why he accepts a job tutoring Maddy Warbeck, the daughter of a wealthy family and who is perhaps the most spoiled person Nate has ever met. But he’s determined to see things through no matter how many tricks Maddy tries to play on him or how much she tries to reject his help. And then there’s Maddy’s older brother, Dane. Though Neil is put off by Dane at first, after receiving Dane’s help with securing Maddy’s cooperation, Neil begins to see that he’s nothing like his sister. And as they spend more time together, they find they share a mutual attraction that quickly burns bright.

But Dane’s father wants only what he perceives as a perfect family. And Dane being with Neil does not fit into that picture. So when he cuts Dane off, Neil is there for him. But being there for Dane means bringing him into a whole new life–one that is almost the exact opposite of the luxury in which he grew up. And while Neil knows Dane is not a shallow guy, he finds that their circumstances put a strain on their fledgling relationship and he’s hard pressed to try and fix things. Can they find a way to make things work? Or are their worlds just so totally different that they will never be able to find the common ground necessary to carry on a relationship?

This is an easy and entertaining read. The back-and-forth between Maddy and Neil in the beginning is a combination of frustrating (she is kind of a brat) and entertaining (Neil can definitely hold his own). And although I wondered how the relationship would be framed after reading the blurb, I can say that I was pleased to see it start and grow somewhat organically, never feeling forced. There are a few points in the book where I thought things moved a bit quickly, but overall I finished feeling like this was an interesting story and well worth the time to give it a read.

All She Wrote by Josh Lanyon

All She Wrote

All She Wrote by Josh Lanyon

Series: Holmes & Moriarty, Book 2
Published by: Samhain Publishing on December 28, 2010
Rating: 3 stars (★★★☆☆)

Christopher “Kit” Holmes cannot turn down a request to help out his former mentor, Anna Hitchcock. And he certainly wishes he could. But she’s called to ask him to step in and host a writing retreat at her home and he must heed the call. And to do so he must cancel yet another weekend with J.X. Moriarty, his new boyfriend, putting strain on an already tenuous relationship.

But Kit finds his problems are worse than he imagined after he arrives at Anna’s home. The fall that led to her injury and inability to host the event herself–well, it may not have been an accident. Anna suspects someone purposely injured her. And as Kit learns more about the various attendees at the writing retreat, he quickly learns that pretty much everyone around him has some level of motive for being the culprit. And Kit once again becomes an amateur sleuth, trying to find answers and unwittingly putting himself in danger. But will he be able to find out the truth before anyone else is hurt? And will he be able to make up with J.X. when all is said and done?

If you’ve read the first book in this series, you can expect a similar feel and approach in this second installment. Kit wanders unknowingly into a case and falls deep into his quest to solve it. Unexpected twists and turns fall onto his path along the way. And the danger becomes very real to him on more than one occasion. What’s different here is that the ending doesn’t wrap up quite as nicely as the first book. And probably not quite as nicely as most readers would like to see. But just as life is complex and doesn’t always go the way we’d expect or like, I appreciate this approach on some level myself.

You Here Tonight by Candice Blake

You Here Tonight

You Here Tonight by Candice Blake

Series: You Here, Book 1
Published by: Candice Blake on December 26, 2016
Rating: 3 stars (★★★☆☆)

Kevin is an aspiring artist, working hard to earn his degree at a prestigious university. Kyle is the school’s star quarterback, and he’s only enrolled in an art class as a random elective. And because they couldn’t come together over the course of the semester to finish the final project they were partnered up to complete, they stand at risk of failing the class. Their only shot is an extension through the winter break–only a couple of weeks to put something together. Kevin offers for Kyle to come stay with his family for the holiday, providing them with the chance to use the entire break to complete their task. Kevin is a bit nervous about having Kyle in close proximity during that time, since Kyle is one of the most attractive guys he’s ever seen. But Kyle’s obviously a straight jock, right? And even if he wasn’t, he’d never go for a guy like Kevin, would he? As they spend their holiday trying to create art, the two young men just might have the chance to create something else completely unexpected.

The story here is one that intrigued me. There’s a lot of potential for conflict, push and pull, and self-discovery with this kind of plot. And those are among the types of stories that I enjoy. And once these two get going, that energy does find its way into the story. There is a bit of a slow start here during the setup, but once you get past that, things pick up and move at a fairly steady pace. Readers find themselves along for the ride, one that continues right up until these two find a place to land.

[Disclaimer: I received an uncorrected advance review copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.]