Tag Archives: publisher: riptide

Starstruck by L.A. Witt

Starstruck

Starstruck by L.A. Witt

Series: Bluewater Bay, Book 1
Published by: Riptide Publishing on November 3, 2014
Rating: 3 stars (★★★☆☆)

Levi Pritchard moved to Bluewater Bay to retire and get away from all things Hollywood. Although he always loved acting, he loathed everything that came with it. And he disliked needing to live a certain way or keeps parts of his life a secret the most. It was more than enough to deal with on top of his alcoholic, conservative parents. So Levi finds himself conflicted when he’s offered a role on one of television’s hottest new shows being filmed right in Bluewater Bay. It would be the ultimate comeback, but even in the offer there is mention of him doing whatever it takes to make sure the old rumors about his sexuality don’t resurface. And that’s exactly the kind of thing he doesn’t want to deal with.

Carter Samuels is the hot lead on one of television’s hottest shows. He’s been open about his sexuality before he made it big in the business, so there’s no question of where his interests lie. And when he spots the man who inspired him to go into acting, Levi Pritchard, touring the set, he seizes the opportunity to track him down. And while he really does intend to just ask him for some advice, when the two hit it off and become friends, Carter can’t help wanting more. But he knows he can’t have it. Yes, there were rumors years ago, but Levi is straight. Right?

I’m not sure why it took me so long to pick up this series. I remember hearing about it when it kicked off, but I think I just had so much else to read. Of course, they’ve kicked it off with an excellent author, so it shouldn’t be too surprising that it starts off strong. I found this to be an enjoyable read. I did feel like Levi’s decisions near the end seemed a bit abrupt, but aside from that, I do give this a solid recommendation.

Waiting for the Flood by Alexis Hall

Waiting for the Flood

Waiting for the Flood by Alexis Hall

Published by: Riptide Publishing on February 23, 2015
Rating: 3 stars (★★★☆☆)

Edwin Tully is still getting over his breakup with Marius. Still living in the house they chose together, he hasn’t been able to move on in the past two years. But the annual flooding of his neighborhood might just be enough to make him reexamine his life this time around. As he bands together with his neighbor to make it through, for now all he can hope for is limited water damage.

Adam Dacre is a civil engineer dispatched to help minimize damage from the flooding. He expects it to be a challenge, but he never expected to run into Edwin. And the moment he does, Adam feels drawn to the man, though he’s not aware of the pain that Edwin still carries with him.

Edwin has to admit to himself that he likes Adam. But it can be hard to open yourself up to someone when you’ve been so closed off for so long. Can Edwin reach a place where he’s ready for something new before Adam leaves his life forever? And does Adam possess the patience that Edwin needs from him?

I really liked the way that each chapter started with a description of one of the rooms of the house. Since part of the story is watching Edwin work through some of the grief for his last relationship that he’s still carrying with him, I feel it helps readers get into the moment right there with him.

Part of me wonders about the way things play out in the end. If Edwin has been brooding for two years, I’d be skeptical about it all turning around in a single night. But it may just be that we as readers don’t see everything he’s been working through before the book begins.

Saugatuck Summer by Amelia C. Gormley

Saugatuck Summer

Saugatuck Summer by Amelia C. Gormley

Series: Saugatuck, Book 1
Published by: Riptide Publishing on May 17, 2014
Rating: 3 stars (★★★☆☆)

Topher Carlisle is looking forward to this summer. He’s staying with his best friend, Mo, at her family’s beach house on Lake Michigan. Well, he’s staying at the house more than with Mo, since she’ll be spending most of the summer working at a camp. But it’s a free place to stay with easy access to getting in the daily swims he needs to keep in form to hold onto his swimming scholarship when he gets back to school. And he might even be able to make some money to bridge the difference between his scholarship and his full expenses.

Topher also thinks there might be a chance he could meet a guy or two at the beach. And he’s not there long before he sees a total hottie. There’s just one problem–he’s Mo’s straight, married father, Brendan. So Topher shakes that one off and tells himself he needs to get over it since Brendan will be staying at the house with him all summer.

And Topher finds a much-needed distraction in Jace, an artist from Chicago who is more than willing to be Topher’s birthday one-night stand. But Topher lets Jace into a place where no one else is allowed to tread, and that just might come back to haunt him later.

As the summer goes on, everything starts to fall apart. Issues surface between Topher and Brendan. His night with Jace led to some unexpected results. And there’s some family drama that Topher hoped he could stay out of that demands his attention. And none of this is good for someone like Topher who is nursing some long-standing issues as a result of emotional and sexual abuse in his childhood. Can he accept that it’s okay to put those things in the past and move on? Is it possible for Topher to recognize the patterns he’s stuck in so he can break out of them? And can he maybe, actually, find love?

I’m often a bit nervous when it comes to first-person narration. I find that it can be difficult for many authors to sustain a character voice for the entire length of a novel. And then there’s the whole issue of only being able to show what the narrator sees, thinks, and feels. But when a good storyteller does first-person well, I find myself hooked from beginning to end. And this author has managed to construct a well-written narrative that never lost me at any point.

Topher’s story is a complex one. There’s not only a large cast of characters in his life during the summer of the story, but there’s also the issues that haunt him from his past. And every one of those–the people and the issues–seem like they want to pull him in a different direction. There’s definitely a great deal of tension throughout this story, though it never veers too far into the angst camp.

The only reason this doesn’t pull a higher rating from me is pacing. It’s not a tremendous problem–the writing is great, so I never felt myself wandering–but the story could probably have been shored up just a bit to add to the tension and drama. Still give this a solid recommendation, though.

Straight Shooter by Heidi Belleau

Straight Shooter

Straight Shooter by Heidi Belleau

Series: Rear Entrance Video, Book 3
Published by: Riptide Publishing on April 5, 2014
Rating: 3 stars (★★★☆☆)

College hockey player Austin Puett appears confident but is often the odd one out. Most of his roommates are gay, but he’s straight. While the rest of his team is straight, Austin’s pretty sure he’s the only one who gets turned on when someone calls him “pussy” or “fag.” And both facts just might do him in.

One of Austin’s roommates is exploring his gender identity. And while Austin hasn’t had any problems living in the house, this fact is one that’s harder for him to deal with. But if he can’t get past things and start treating his roommate better, he’ll be evicted.

The solution to how Austin reacts to being degraded is nowhere near simple. But when a customer returns a fetish video during one of Austin’s shifts at the video store, he finds himself intrigued. There’s something about the premise of the video–and Master Puck, the man on the cover–that draws him in. Austin’s not gay, but neither are the guys in the scenes, right? Getting lost in the video fantasy might just be what he needs to get past his “problem.” But when Master Puck shows up at the store, Austin wonders if there might an even better and more lasting solution… Of course, things are never nearly as simple as we sometimes think they are.

Learning about these young men who live together and work at Rear Entrance Video has been interesting. Each one has faced some interesting complications in understanding and coming to terms with who they are. And Austin’s story is no exception.

There’s a lot of angst here. But one might expect that in a story where the main character is reconciling his sexual desires with his identity. And especially when those desires and that identity don’t seem to match up. The journey isn’t easy, but the author gives us a glimpse while keeping things real and respectful.

Billionaire with Benefits by Anne Tenino

Billionaire with Benefits

Billionaire with Benefits by Anne Tenino

Series: Romancelandia, Book 2
Published by: Riptide Publishing on October 18, 2014
Rating: 3 stars (★★★☆☆)

Tierney Terrebonne lives by the Terrebonne rules set down by his grandfather. There are things that Terrebonnes just don’t do. And being gay is on that list. So there’s no way he can be gay. Yes, he makes use of the restroom glory hole. And yes, he has a major crush on his best friend, Ian. But it’s just Ian, right? Because Tierney can’t be gay. And Ian’s not gay, so even if Tierney wanted to act on it, he couldn’t. Right?

So when Ian comes out, Tierney’s world comes crashing down. How can Ian be gay? And what does that mean for Tierney? He’s still not gay, right? But maybe he could have been with Ian this whole time. Except…Terrebonnes can’t be gay. But when Grandpa Terrebonne dies suddenly, Tierney wonders if maybe the Terrebonne rules don’t really apply anymore. But a lifetime of repressing one’s self can’t be undone overnight. Especially when years of damage have been done…

But Tierney wonders if it might all be worth it for Dalton. Dalton is Ian’s assistant and one of the only people who has shown Tierney kindness despite his status as a perpetual jackass. Tierney may not deserve someone like Dalton, that’s for sure. But Dalton likes to help people. There’s something about broken men who need him that draws him in. And he knows that there’s something underneath the shell that Tierney presents to the world.

But can they work through the baggage that they both bring to the relationship? Can they both get past their issues and find a way to be exactly what the other needs? It won’t be easy, that’s for sure.

Another angst-filled book from Anne Tenino. Don’t get me wrong–it’s an interesting read. But I always know there will be angst in the things she writes. And there were certainly moments when I did think we were getting really close to the “enough already” point. And when you consider this clocks in at 415 pages, it probably could be shored up and paced just a bit better.

But Dalton makes it worth reading. Even though I think he should have turned and ran at first glance, he’s still a great character. It’s difficult not to feel for him and let you draw him into the book.

So this gets a recommendation from me. But be prepared for a book that drips with more angst than a room full of emo teenagers…

Lessons for Idle Tongues by Charlie Cochrane

25098264Title: Lessons for Idle Tongues (Cambridge Fellows, Book 11)
Author: Charlie Cochrane
Published: June 29, 2015
Pages: 241
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Publisher Website: link
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Review:

Jonty and Orlando are academics who have taken up sleuthing in their spare time and have enjoyed success and fame as a result. But most people don’t know they are partners in more than just investigating, something they must keep secret because of the time. What starts out as a case of finding a missing wooden cat quickly turns into a homicide investigation when a guest at dinner alerts them to the mysterious death of a young woman. While the initial consensus is that she wasn’t murdered, they learn of several questionable deaths in the area and rumors about a local recluse that cause them to give this more than just a second look. What they find is a puzzle even they’re not entirely sure they can solve.

While this is part of a series, it can certainly be read as a standalone. It’s only the second of these I’ve personally read, and I had no trouble following the events of the book at all. This is a complex and confounding historical mystery with just a dash of m/m romance to give it some interesting twists. Orlando and Jonty are a great crime solving team, and i enjoy Jonty’s parents just as much–they provide some excellent comic relief in what is generally a lighthearted book (despite the criminal/potentially murderous elements). This is definitely worth a look for anyone that has an interest in any of the subgenres represented here.

Love, Hypothetically by Anne Tenino

Case7.0x10TemplateKey.inddTitle: Love, Hypothetically (Theta Alpha Gamma, Book 2)
Author: Anne Tenino
Published: August 25, 2012
Pages: 100
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Publisher Website: link
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Review:

Paul is a graduate student who works as a tutor for undergraduates and has a strict “no jocks” policy. But when the new softball coach specifically requests Paul to tutor his players, it looks like that policy might be out the window. To make matters worse, the new coach is Trevor, the guy who broke Paul’s heart in high school, the one he has been trying to get over ever since. But Trevor isn’t just interested in Paul’s services for his players–he’s interested in a second chance. And that’s something Paul is just not sure he can give.

Well, this was a bit of a roller coaster ride, and I mean that in the best way possible. I really enjoyed reading this. The characters are complex and real, and the pacing of the story kept me simply gripped to every page. It’s not overly angsty (though, clearly it’s not all bright and shiny happiness, either), but it’s honestly a lighter story than one might initially expect.

This is the second in a series, but it can definitely be read as a stand-alone. I wasn’t huge fan of the first book, so I’m glad that this one was more enjoyable. It has me considering picking up the third installment…

Resurrection Man by Laylah Hunter

23296041Title: Resurrection Man
Author: Laylah Hunter
Published: October 7, 2014 (originally appeared in the Bump in the Night anthology (October 14, 2013)
Pages: 19
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Publisher Website: link
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Review:

Josef’s lover, Adel, has died, but he is not ready to be parted with him forever. He takes many risks to practice dark and forbidden magic to bring him back. But can the magic bring Adel back exactly as he was? Or does death do something to a person that can never be undone? And to what lengths is Josef willing to go for the idea of keeping Adel by his side?

A bit on the darker side of fantasy, this is an interesting story that manages a unique voice, even though it contains motifs that are not unknown to horror readers. In a few short pages, Laylah Hunter brings these two characters to life (that was intentional) and I found myself easily pulled into the story. It’s not graphic (in any way, really), but it’s not a bright and shiny romance, if that’s what you’re looking for. If you’re looking for something dark and intense, this is a good bet.

Lessons for Suspicious Minds by Charlie Cochrane

18588535Title: Lessons for Suspicious Minds (Cambridge Fellows, Book 10)
Author: Charlie Cochrane
Published: re-released on April 20, 2015
Pages: 255
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Author Website: link
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Review:

Cambridge professors Jonty Stewart and Orlando Coppersmith have quite a reputation for sleuthing.  And their relationship makes them a rather formidable pair.  When an invitation to stay with a friend of the Stewart family uncovers two suspicious apparent suicides, the two simply can’t help trying to solve the case.  But there are aspects of this one that hit a personal nerve and uncovering the truth may be a bit more challenging than they expect.

A rather enjoyable read.  It’s one part Sherlock Holmes, one part Poirot, and one part romance.  The mystery is really what drives the plot, but the setting and characters really bring it to life.  I definitely foresee myself reading more of these two in the future.

Aftermath by Alexis Hall

18739317Title: Aftermath (Glitterland, Book 1.5)
Author: Alexis Hall
Published: October 28, 2013
Pages: 28
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Publisher Link: link
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Review:

If you’ve read Glitterland, I’m sure you probably wanted more.  What happens next?  Do Ash and Darian truly reconcile?  Do they find a way to make their relationship work?  Well, wonder no longer.  This free short serves as an excellent follow-up to the novel and provides the resolution many readers (myself included) really wanted to see.  And it definitely hits the spot.  I won’t say more in order to avoid spoilers, but I will say it’s a must for anyone who read the story that comes before…