Tag Archives: publisher: carina press

Out of Bounds by A.R. Barley

Out of Bounds

Out of Bounds by A.R. Barley

Series: Boundaries, Book 1
Published by: Carina Press on March 14, 2016
Rating: 3 stars (★★★☆☆)

When Kelly finds Jesse Cole beaten and bloodied on the quad after his roommate attacked him, he brings him back to his dorm and puts him in a room with his friend and ex-boyfriend, Nick Moretti. Jesse is glad to be away from Ryan, but he is wary of his new stranger roommate who is much larger than him and apparently a total slob. And then there’s the fact that Nick isn’t exactly excited to find that he now needs to share his room. But Kelly lets Nick know that Jesse has been through a rough patch, and Nick is willing to give him a chance. And while Jesse is distant at first, the two quickly find a comfort with each other that takes them down a path that makes them clearly more than roommates. But Jesse is not the only one who has experienced some trauma in his past, and Nick finds himself struggling to be the man he thinks Jesse wants and needs him to be. And the pressure may just be what breaks them both…

Give and take is an important part of any relationship. And sometimes we give what we are asked to give and we take what we explicitly request. And then other times we guess what we think should be given or we take more than we probably should. Communication can help us to navigate and mitigate these issues, but it’s one thing to say we will be open and honest and another to truly let go of our fears and do so. Nick and Jesse each carry their own laundry list of things they think they other wants or needs, but they don’t really ever sit down and reconcile those lists. And even though we all know that can be a recipe for disaster, the two end up going through those motions anyway. And when you add a dash of stubbornness into the mix, well, I guess you’ll have to read to find out…

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.]

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.]

Off Base by Annabeth Albert

Off Base

Off Base by Annabeth Albert

Series: Out of Uniform, Book 1
Published by: Carina Press on January 9, 2017
Rating: 4 stars (★★★★☆)

Having just completed his SEAL training, Zack Nelson is looking for some space of his own. Which is why he jumps at his senior chief’s offer to live in one of his rental properties in exchange for completing the renovations. Not only will he save money, but this will get him away from the team in the evening and give him some peace and quiet. But when a friend of a friend gets a job in San Diego and needs a place to stay, Zack reluctantly agrees to let him move in. Pike Reynolds is a nice enough guy, but Zack has a few problems with him. For one, Pike is very open about being gay. Two, Zack may have tried to kiss Pike one night when he was drunk. And three, Zack hasn’t really been able to stop thinking about Pike ever since. But Zack isn’t gay; he can’t be. His SEAL team and his family would never have it. And now that they will be sharing a living space, seeing each other every day–will Zack be able to keep his desire in check? And if he can’t, is he ready to deal with everything that would come along with that?

This is the start of a new series that flows right out of Albert’s #gaymers series, all of which I’ve previously read and reviewed. You don’t need to have read #gaymers to understand what’s happening here. (Though I would highly recommend it because it’s great! And if you have read it, you’ll recognize Ryan and Josiah from Connection Error.)

This is another one of those books that I think reminds us that everyone has their own narrative when it comes to their upbringing, their identity, and the way they present themselves to the world. Although we have an arsenal of labels that we love to assign to others, identity is personal and it is up to the individual to truly own that part of themselves. And it can be easy to assume everyone is coming from the same place we are, and that’s something that is so rarely true. When it comes to love and relationships, one shouldn’t sacrifice who they are for the other person, but it’s important to listen, to be understanding, and to be open to where the other person is coming from. If we place unreasonable expectations on each other (or on ourselves) then we’re more likely to find unhappiness and resentment rather than the love and bliss that we seek.

Pike and Zack live through this firsthand. But thankfully, they both know there’s a chance that they’ll each come around before too long. Or at least they can hope…

[Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.]

Connection Error by Annabeth Albert

Connection Error

Connection Error by Annabeth Albert

Series: #gaymers, Book 3
Published by: Carina Press on September 5, 2016
Rating: 4 stars (★★★★☆)

Josiah Simmons can’t believe he’s late for one of the most important flights of his career. He’s on his way to Germany to meet with the design team for an expansion to his company’s wildly popular game. Despite his best efforts, though, here he is. And although part of him says he should remain focused–he gets distracted easily enough on his own–he can’t help taking notice of the wildly attractive man sitting next to him. And it’s a bonus when he learns the guy is a gamer, and he just happens to play Josiah’s game.

Ryan Orson is hoping for an uneventful flight back to Washington, D.C., so he can get back to his physical therapy. His injuries have put his future as a Navy SEAL in question. But Ryan plans to do all he can to get back to active duty. When he meets Josiah, however, he decides the flight may as well be a little more eventful than he’d planned.

When their plane is rerouted to St. Louis due to weather, Josiah sees an opportunity to get to know Ryan better. But after he sticks his foot in his mouth, he figures he’s ruined that opportunity altogether. There’s something about Josiah that gives Ryan pause, however, and he finds himself willing to let things go long enough to help Josiah out for just one night. But what that one night might lead to is something neither of them has really figured out just yet…

This series is absolutely wonderful. The way Annabeth Albert writes characters is simply masterful. It’s so easy to get into their world as a reader. And the writing is so engaging that I always find it difficult to put these books down.

I do recommend starting from the beginning just for the purpose of catching these in order. But they can all be read as stand-alone books as each focuses on a different set of main characters.

[Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.]

Crushing on the Cowboy by Sarah M. Anderson

Crushing on the Cowboy

Crushing on the Cowboy by Sarah M. Anderson

Series: Rodeo Dreams, Book 1
Published by: Carina Press on June 27, 2016
Rating: 4 stars (★★★★☆)

Mitch Jenner is well-known on the rodeo circuit as The Heartbreak Kid. He leads women on, only to leave them with their hearts broken when he moves onto another town. But none of them really know the truth of why he’s so willing to leave them all behind.

Enter Paulo Bernardes, a Brazilian rider who has come to the States to learn the American way of riding. His goal is to learn and return home to open a riding school. But Mitch pulls his interest, and he pulls Mitch’s as well. Although Paulo doesn’t speak much English, it doesn’t take long for the message to get through to them both. There’s an attraction between them that is hard to deny.

Paulo isn’t worried about being out. He’s quite concerned about making sure Mitch is comfortable, though. Which makes things difficult when Mitch says he’s interested in a relationship, but only if it can be kept a secret. To Mitch, there’s no room for an out cowboy on the rodeo circuit. But Paulo doesn’t only want a part of the man he’s with. And he’s not sure if he can settle for pretending to be “just a friend” the rest of the time.

What’s clear is that some decisions will need to be made. Is this just a fling or is it something more? And if it’s something more, what are each of them willing to give to keep the other in their lives?

There’s an interesting dynamic here with the language barrier that I think the author plays off quite well. Although Paulo can generally understand Mitch, the fact that he can’t just speak right back to him obviously throws some challenges into the mix. And these come out not only in their relationship, but also in the storytelling. Thankfully, despite the challenge, the pacing and the development of the characters and relationship don’t miss a single beat.

This is the first from this author that I’ve read. But I will say I’m certainly up for more if this is what I can expect!

[Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.]

Beta Test by Annabeth Albert

Beta Test

Beta Test by Annabeth Albert

Series: #gaymers, Book 2
Published by: Carina Press on May 30, 2016
Rating: 4 stars (★★★★☆)

Tristan Jones knows he doesn’t fit in with others in the gaming industry, but he’s excited to go to work for one of the biggest games of the moment. His organization makes him come across as uptight. And he’s sort of okay with that because it helps get things done. His family thinks he’s not making the best use of his MBA, but they don’t exactly understand him anyway.

Ravi Tandel is a graphic designer at the top of his game. He’s confident and talented, and he’s active in the community. A creative person, he makes friends easily and is the center of one of the biggest social circles at the company.

When Ravi and Tristan are thrown together on a project, their different styles collide. Ravi sees Tristan as rigid, serious, and possibly homophobic. Tristan sees Ravi as distracted, flamboyant, and borderline unprofessional. It’s definitely a recipe for tension. And the tension escalates when they’re assigned to drive the display they’ve been working on from San Francisco to Seattle. That’s a long time alone together in a truck. But it might be just the time they need to break through each other’s exteriors. There might just be more that they have in common than they’d ever imagined…

The attention to detail that Annabeth Albert shows in her stories amazes me. Both this book and the previous installment in this series show a great deal of care and research into the settings and the gaming industry itself. The world here is so seamless that it’s so easy to be drawn right in to the characters.

And these two: it’s hard not to like them both. Throw in just the right amount of tension at exactly the right points, and you’ve got a great story that is impeccably paced. I’m definitely a fan.

As a bonus: if you’re someone who laments the end of the Looking, the HBO show, this will certainly help you get that fix. It has just enough of that vibe while being something all its own.

[Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.]

Phase Shift by Jenn Burke & Kelly Jensen

Phase Shift

Phase Shift by Jenn Burke & Kelly Jensen

Series: Chaos Station, Book 5
Published by: Carina Press on May 2, 2016
Rating: 4 stars (★★★★☆)

Zander Anatolius has been through a lot. More than any one man should have to go through. And the same could be said for Felix Ingesson. So Zander’s decided to ask Felix to marry him and finally get them both to settle down. Felix isn’t ask keen on the idea of marriage, though Zander thinks he might be able to convince him. But as their past should have warned him, something’s always going to come up at the worst possible moment.

What worse is that what’s come up this time might be the worst possible thing to come up. After a security breach on the ship, Zander catches up with the culprit. And the culprit shifts. That shouldn’t be possible; Zander’s the last of those who should be able to do that. And considering that data about Project Dreamweaver–the experiment that made Zander what he is–is what was taken, things don’t look good. One thing’s for sure, everything else will need to be put on hold until they find the person responsible and stop them before things get worse.

I’ve read this series from the beginning and I have loved every minute of it. It’s an action-packed science fiction story with a m/m relationship between the main characters–what’s not to love? What’s even more great about it, though, is that no aspect of the plot feels forced. I’ve read many m/m sci-fis where the relationship feels thrust into the story. I’ve read m/m romance that tosses a sci-fi background up but doesn’t have it fully developed. You won’t get either of those with this series, for sure.

The final installment takes Zander and Felix back to the beginning. Much as Felix had to confront some of the hardest moments from his past in the previous book, Zander comes face to face with his demons here. And both of them are faced with choices that neither is comfortable with under normal circumstances. But the way they work together is what makes it clear just how much they need each other…on multiple levels.

I must say I will miss these characters, but I’m glad I got to spend five books with them…

[Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.]

Fight to Forgive by j. leigh bailey

Fight to Forgive

Fight to Forgive by j. leigh bailey

Series: Letting Go, Book 3
Published by: Carina Press on March 28, 2016
Rating: 4 stars (★★★★☆)

After suffering a combat injury, James “Freddie” Fredrick has returned to a place he doesn’t want to spend much time: home. There were many reasons he joined the Navy and left four years before. It’s not something he wants to talk about with anyone and he never has. But when his sister picks him up from the airport and tells him she’s buying Elliott House, it seems he just can’t get away. Aaron Elliott is right back at the front and center of his life. Aaron who selfishly left him without a word four years ago. And things get even more complicated when he learns Aaron is back in town.

Aaron Elliott has avoided conflict all his life. If he can get through something without making waves, he will. But when he learned his mother and stepfather were planning to sell his father’s house, he knew he had to speak up. Aaron’s father left that house to him, and though a legal technicality has put his ownership in question, Aaron believes his father’s wishes should be carried out. So he halts the sale and decides to spend a summer at Elliott House. He just doesn’t expect to run into Freddie. The feelings come rushing back, but Aaron tells himself he has to let them go. After all, Freddie destroyed anything the two of them could have had four years ago.

As the two live in proximity again, their past eventually becomes a big enough elephant in the room that it can’t be avoided. Though both are committed to never going back down that road, can their collective willpower hold out? And what exactly is the truth of their breakup? Is it possible all could be forgiven?

I’ve been a fan of this series of stories by j. leigh bailey since the first one. The stories they tell are so rich and dynamic, I always have a hard time putting the books down. And the story of these two is certainly no exception. The value of communication and trust is clear in how this story plays out. And it reminds us that it’s also so important to meet another person where they are. You can’t hold someone to expectations that are outside of their nature–especially if you never communicate those expectations to them.

Strong recommendation on this one!

[Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.]

Thief by Ava March

Thief

Thief by Ava March

Series: Brook Street, Book 1
Published by: Carina Press on March 19, 2012
Rating: 4 stars (★★★★☆)

Lord Benjamin Parker thinks he might prefer the company of men. He can only think because he’s never actually experienced it. But he’s learned there’s a place he can go to pick up a guy. And he tells himself he will give it one chance. Much to his surprise, he picks up the gorgeous Cavin Fox. He soon finds that one night with Cavin is not enough. He needs and wants more.

For Cavin, this is like any other night. He’ll his mark, flirt with him, and get him alone. He’ll spend the night with him, but then make off with his cash before the sun comes up. And that’s his plan when he first meets Benjamin. But there’s something about this gentleman that Cavin didn’t expect. And he finds that robbing him just doesn’t feel right.

To make matters worse for Cavin, circumstances bring him face-to-face with Benjamin again. The goal is to never run into a mark again. And even though Benjamin doesn’t know what Cavin’s plan was, it’s still a risk and it’s uncomfortable. Benjamin makes it clear he wants to pursue something more with Cavin. Cavin’s not exactly opposed to the idea, but he knows it can’t be. There’s no way Benjamin could accept Cavin if he knew what he did for a living. And there’s the issue of trying to escape the leader of Cavin’s gang. The chances that things will work out for them are slim. But they met in a gambling establishment, so neither is averse to games of chance…

Regency gay romance? Sign me up. And these two guys…I just can’t get enough. Their interactions, their feelings for each other, and their…well..private moments are so well written. I felt immersed in the story on every page. I definitely give this a solid recommendation!

Thief on the Carina Press website