Adriana Anders

Review: In His Hands by Adraina Anders

00:00

Title: In His Hands (Blank Canvas #3)
Author: Adriana Anders
Date of publication: 1 Aug 2017
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Abuse, Religious cult

Author's links:
Add to Goodreads

My rating: 4 stars


Blurb


He is Her Salvation



Abby Merkley has been a member of the Church of the Apocalyptic Faith since she was a child, and there's no way out―except death. She will fight the odds to survive, but there's no one in the world she can trust, nowhere she can run that the cult can't find her...until her handsome, brooding neighbor takes her into the safety of his arms.

Luc Stanek craves a quiet life. But he doesn't hesitate when a desperate woman lands, bloodied and branded on his doorstep. Soon he finds himself drawn into her chaotic world, caught in the center of an apocalyptic war...and determined to save the fierce beauty no matter the cost.


Review

I absolutely loved Adriana Anders' debut book, Under Her Skin, and when I got a review copy of this one, I grabbed the chance to read it. It was no surprise that I ended loving this one too.

This is an intense and raw story of two very different characters who discover they are exactly what the other needs.

Abby is trying to escape a religious cult, while Luc is on the run from his past. She wants to experience life to the fullest, he is living as a recluse and wants to keep it that way.

We have the mix of strong, irresistible sexual chemistry with slow opening up to real intimacy which brings them together. He helps her escape, she helps him start enjoying life again.

The whole aspect with the religious cult was very much along the lines of what I expected, still the levels of manipulation and physical abuse were truly staggering. So much pain, so much uncalled-for violence/hate.

I really liked Abby and found her to be a very real, believable heroine. She was determined to escape the cult and its teaching, yet still very much under their influence, we see her struggle, her growth as a person of her own, one thinking and making choices for herself, no longer brainwashed by the teaching of the cult.

Her lack of much experience in the world outside the cult is shown but it's not overdone for the sake of presenting her as more innocent and naive than she really was. I liked it was not a virgin heroine trope, tough she was very much a virgin at every thing to do with intimacy besides the sexual act itself.

Luc was very much a misanthrope or rather he did a spectacular job pretending to be one. He was hurt by his family and like Abby, he was on the run from his old life, trying desperately to build himself a new one. She brought (back) the human(-loving) side of him, she made him care, about her, other people, brought back the life in him.

I loved how the story explored the relations between emotions and physical connection/intimacy, how notions of shame and taboo were questioned.  It's ultimately a celebration of life, enjoying it to the fullest - through food and drink and sex and just interacting with people on one's free will, forming relationships (with friends, with family, with lovers). Overall, this is a great addition to the series and a highly recommended read. 

Purchase links: Amazon / B&N / Kobo / iBooks

Friday Recs

Friday Recs: Romances Set All Over the World

00:00


I have been meaning to do a post with recommendations for romances (contemporary) set outside the US for a while now. It turned out I haven't read many like that and most of the ones I have read were set in the UK. So in order to be more inclusive and for purely selfish reasons of finding more romances set around the world for me to read, I asked romance Twitter for recs and they literally showered me with suggestions. So many new books to add to my TBR list!

I'm starting with my own favourites first, contemporary romances set outside the US which I have read and enjoyed a lot. Then I will proceed with all Twitter recs. Hope you will find something new and interesting for you to read

Note (all links take you to Amazon, for the series I have linked the first book)

My recommendations

  1. 1. Alexis Hall - The Spires is a loosely connected series of queer romances set set in Oxford, UK. It includes Glitterland, Waiting for the Flood, For Real and more to come. As a huge fan of this author I have read and loved them all. His Rita 2017 nominated queer romance Pansies is also set in the UK, the small Northern town of South Shields.
  2. Act Like It and Pretty Face, mf romcoms by Lucy Parker. I absolutely loved these books, both of which are set in the London theatre world.
  3. Abroad by Liz Jacobs, queer NA, a kind of coming-of-age romance which was just released and which is quiet and introverted and gave me all of feels. It's set in London.
  4. Muscling Through by JL Merrow, sweetest mm romance between an academic and a neurodivergent character (the story is told from his POV)
  5. Foxes, heart-breaking and heart-warming NA mm romance with neurodivergent character and a character with eating disorder (TW abuse, violence, extreme poverty);  Light Up the Dark, contemporary mm with Gothic overtones, really dark (TW abuse, violence, manipulation)
  6. Glasgow Lads series by Avery Cockburn - mm football romances set in Glasgow, Scotland which as a football fan myself, I very much enjoyed.
  7. Cara Mckenna has a couple of books set outside US which I've enjoyed a lot. Her Best Laid Pans (NA erotic novella, set in Ireland) and the Curio series of novellas set in Paris featuring an agoraphobic male prostitute and an American museum worker who is virgin. Unbound, an erotic romance exploring kink, is set in the Scottish Highlands.
  8. Amour et Chocolat series of contemporary mf romances featuring top French chefs are all set in Paris, France. She also has a series with female chefs set there too (Paris Nights), La Vie en Rose is another series of her, this time set in Provence and centering a family of rose oil producers and perfume makers.
  9. The Assassins series by Carolyn Crane - one of my favourite romantic suspense series. Book 2, Off the Edge is set in Bangkok, book 4, Behind the Mask in Peru.
  10. The Rain in Spain by Amy Jo Cousins, a low-heat but very intense novella following one couple on their one-night adventure along the streets of Seville - Amy Jo Cousins

Twitter recommendations

UK
  1. Heart (standalone mm romance, TW for sexual abuse), Misfits & Strays (mm romance series) by Garrett Leigh
  2. Housemates series on NA queer romances Jay Northcote (includes characters with different sexualities - gay, trans, bi)
  3. Tyack and Frayne series by Harper Fox, set in Cornwall. It was recommended for very authentic presentation of the geographic location by British readers. The series are contemporary with some paranormal elements.
  4. His Royal Secret and His Royal Favorite by Lilah Pace, series of two mm romances about royals 
  5. About Last Night by Ruthie Knox, mf romance set in London. While I have read and loved many of this author's books, I haven't gotten to this one yet and I hope to remedy that soon.
  6. Broken (mm romance, TW per GR page for mental illness, self-harm, suicide ideation), Who Are We by Nicola Haken 
  7. Jefferson Blythe, Esquire by Josh Lanyon, mm romance/mystery 
  8. True Brit by Con Riley, mm romance set around musical reality competition  
  9. Unsticky by Sara Manning, mf romance/chick-lit
  10. Rugby series by Penny Reid and L.H.Cosway, mf rugby romance
  11. London Legends series of rugby romances by Kat Latham

The rest of Europe
  1. Return of Investment and Witches of London series of mm romances by Aleksandr Voinov, set in Europe
  2. The Sun Still Rises by Laura Bailo, mm novella set in Pamplone during the San Fermin festival 
  3. And It Came to Pass by Laura Stone, mm romance featuring a young Mormon character on a trip to Barcelona
  4. Fall Hard by JL Merrow, mm romance/mystery set in Iceland 
  5. All Roads Lead to You by Harper Fox is set in Italy
  6. Heaven & Hell series of mf by Kristen Ashley (Italy)
  7. Kiss & Ride by Teodora Kostova, mm holiday novella (Italy)
  8. I Love You More Than Pierogi by KA Merikan, mm romance (Poland)
  9. True Love series of mm romance by Anyta Sunday (Germany); Nest, YA mm romance
  10. Fjord Blue by Nina Rossing, YA mm romance set in Norway

The Philippines
  1. Beginner's Guide: Love and Other Chemical Reactions by Six de los Reyes, nerdy mf romance (on 0.99 sale at the time of posting)
  2. If the Dress Fits by Carla de Cuzman, NA romance (diverse, fat-positive)
  3. Better at Weddings Than You by Mina V. Eguerra, NA mf romance; 
  4. Cover (Story) Girl by Chris Marian, mf romance with Filipino hero and Korean heroine (on 0.99 sale at the time of posting)

Canada
  1. Back to You by Chris Scully, mm romance/mystery thriller 
  2. Arrows Through Archer by Nash Summers, mm romance Triggers/tags from GR page: grief, age difference, family, loss, mentions of suicide, recovery, hurt/comfort, homophobia
  3. Wardham series of mf romances by Zoe York (first two books are free at the time of posting) 

Australia and New Zealand
  1. Her Best Worst MistakeThe Other Side of Us and most of the romances by Sarah Mayberry
  2. Butterfly Hunter by Julie Bozza, mm romance
  3. Red Dirt series (book 1 is 0.99 at the time of posting) of mm romance by NR Walker (set in the Australian Outback), Imago series (set in Tasmania and Queensland)
  4. Sydney Smoke Rugby series by Amy Andrews, mf romance
  5. Floored by Ainslie Paton is a Sydney to Perth road romance, most of her books are set in Australia
  6. Tigers & Devils series Sean Kennedy, mm sports romance 
  7. Rock by Anyta Sunday, YA mm romance

Peru
  1. Killing Time by Cindy Gerard, mf romantic suspense
  2. The Path by Ariel Tachna, mm about falling in love on the Inca Trail in Peru
India
  1. Bollywood Confidential series of mf romances by Suleika Snyder 

Alisha Rai

Review: Hate to Want You by Alisha Rai

00:30

Title: Hate to Want You (Forbidden Hearts #1)
Author: Alisha Rai
Genre/Themes: Contemporary romance, Depression
Release Date: 25 July 2017

Author links: Website / Facebook / Twitter / Goodreads
Add on Goodreads

My Rating: 4.5 Stars

Blurb

One night. No one will know.

That was the deal. Every year, Livvy Kane and Nicholas Chandler would share one perfect night of illicit pleasure. The forbidden hours let them forget the tragedy that haunted their pasts-and the last names that made them enemies.

Until the night she didn’t show up.

Now Nicholas has an empire to run. He doesn’t have time for distractions and Livvy’s sudden reappearance in town is a major distraction. She’s the one woman he shouldn’t want…so why can’t he forget how right she feels in his bed?

Livvy didn’t come home for Nicholas, but fate seems determined to remind her of his presence–and their past. Although the passion between them might have once run hot and deep, not even love can overcome the scandal that divided their families.

Being together might be against all the rules…but being apart is impossible.

Review

This is my first book by Alisha Rai and I absolutely loved it. It had everything I enjoy in contemporary romance - interesting, complex characters, a captivating love story, passionate scenes of intimacy, tightly woven plot and very fitting and real HFN.

I love romances with strong heroines and Livvy is definitely one of them though she didn't see herself like that. Just the opposite, she though of herself as weak because she let a man break her heart and still she loved him and couldn't stay away from him. She thought she was weak because she had depression and some serious episodes brought her to the edge. But she was a fighter, strong and determined, and everyone knew it, all the people who loved and cared for her saw her strength and beauty and free artistic spirit and the author made it so that the reader saw it too. There was not a moment of doubt in my mind as to her strength despite her own doubts and misgivings, despite seeing her lose herself in her fears and insecurities. She always got up again (it was not always easy and she needed help and got it), she fought for herself (though she carried her shame in her all the time), fought to build a life for herself and to find a path to happiness.

She had her heart broken and her life torn apart and she came back to reclaim it all, her life, her family, even her love (though it was much more complex then just winning Nico back). She was a force of nature  though she never quite realised it herself. I found her depression and her struggles with mental issues to be presented in a very compassionate way which made it easy for me to relate to them. She was not being dramatic, just struggling with mental health issues which made her sensitive and fragile. We get to see the lying face of depression and anxiety, the build up of I-am-no-worthy, I-am-a-loser mentality and it was scary and painful and raw. We saw how she struggled with it, how she tried to have some control over it, how she fought with herself and the world to be able to live a fuller life. 

And Nico, he had issues of his own. His love for her was no weaker than hers for him - all-consuming, the center of his existence. It brought him both pleasure and pain, relief from the pressure of in his professional/family life but also tension because it appeared to be impossible.We see how the verbal abuse and emotional manipulations of his father made him who he was - someone who shut down his emotions, who compartmentalized every aspect of his life, who became obsessive with controlling himself at all cost. He also carried the sense of being responsible for everyone - he placed himself under enormous pressure all the time, never giving himself the chance to feel, to act on his feelings. Apart from that day once a year he spent in a hotel room with Livvy. It was pretty dysfunctional arrangement, hurting them both but it did take a lot of effort and even more pain to try to change it. It was all worth it.

This is powerful, emotional story, told with depth and compassion. All the characters we meet feel like real people with strengths and weakness, fighting very real battles while trying to navigate their lives. 

Highly recommended read to all fans of contemporary romance!

Purchase links: Amazon / B&N / Apple / Kobo / Google Play

Coming of age

Review: Abroad by Liz Jacobs

00:00

Title: Abroad (Abroad #1)
Author: Liz Jacobs
Genre/Themes: Contemporary romance, Queer, Coming of age
Release Date: 27 June 2017

Add on Goodreads
Author's links: Twitter / Instagram / Facebook / Goodreads

My rating: 5 stars


Blrub 

Nick Melnikov doesn’t know where he belongs. He was just a kid when his Russian-Jewish family immigrated to Michigan. Now he’s in London for university, overwhelmed by unexpected memories. Socially anxious, intensely private, and closeted, Nick doesn’t expect to fall in so quickly with a tight-knit group of students from his college, and it’s both exhilarating and scary. Hanging out with them is a roller coaster of serious awkward and incredible longing, especially when the most intimidating of the group, Dex, looks his way.

Dex Cartwell knows exactly who he is: a black queer guy who doesn’t give a toss what anybody thinks of him. He is absolutely, one-hundred-percent, totally in control of his life. Apart, maybe, from the stress of his family’s abrupt move to an affluent, largely white town. And worrying about his younger brother feeling increasingly isolated as a result. And the persistent broken heart he’s been nursing for a while . . .

When Nick and Dex meet, both find themselves intrigued. Countless late-night conversations only sharpen their attraction. But the last thing Nick wants is to face his deepest secret, and the last thing Dex needs is another heartache. Dex has had to fight too hard for his right to be where he is. Nick isn’t even sure where he’s from. So how can either of them tell where this is going?

Review

What a powerful, memorable debut! This a quiet and understated, yet unforgettable coming-of-age story of finding yourself and your place in the world.

We have three main characters in this story and an array of their friends who equally interesting and compelling to read. We have Nick, a Jewish Russian immigrant on study abroad in London coming to terms with being gay while falling in love with Dex, a Black British openly gay and broody chemistry student. Then there is Izzy, who brings everyone together and who has her own sexual awakening to deal with. She is like the glue that holds together this circle of friends with different sexualities, backgrounds and life experiences whose lives we follow in the book.

I'd describe this as chatty kind of story, especially at the beginning when Nick meets everyone and is completely overwhelmed by them. As a reader I felt in a similar position, so many new characters introduced almost at the same time was a bit confusing but it didn't last long. They all had unique, distinctive voices I could hear in my head while reading.

I loved how the author made all her characters feel like real people one could meet on the street. I really, really liked everyone of them and very much like I would have wanted desperately to be their friends while also worrying I'm not good enough for them. Nick's anxiety, his fears and doubts, as well as his hopes and dreams, and his youthful confusion and indecisiveness were presented with such tenderness and understanding, made vivid and real, something I could relate on a personal level. Even though my life couldn't have been more different from any of the characters' I could identify with bits and pieces of them all through the story and I find this connection truly magical. This is what I love the most about reading fiction - finding pieces of me in character who are nothing like me on the surface.

While i loved Izzy, (who wouldn't love her?), I also felt distracted by her at times. We got two parallel stories going on at the same time and it made me wonder why this choice as made. I think she deserves the spotlight of her own book. This is just a minor quibble I have and in no way it deducts from the amazing gorgeousness of this nuanced, rich book.

This is a slow-building romance, there is some angst and secrets and confusion and a very tentative HFN at the end. We also get to experience the stress of being in your final year in university, navigating school, family, while finding your own place in the world. learning to take care of yourself but also how to be with someone, how to love and be loved, building friendships and romantic relationships.

Highly recommended read and I can't tell you how excited I'm to read more about Nick and Dex and Izzy and the rest of gang in the next book.



Contemporary Romance

Review: Lost Without You and Where I Belong by Molly O'Keefe

23:31

Title: Lost Without You (The Debt #1)
Author: Molly O'Keefe
Genre/Themes: Contemporary romance, Abuse
Release Date: 19 June 2017

Add on Goodreads
Author's links: Website / Twitter / Facebook / Goodreads

My rating: 3.5 stars


Blurb
ALL DEBTS MUST BE PAID

Tommy
Seven years ago, I thought I could save Beth, the girl I loved from the monster who was supposed to take care of us. I thought I could keep Beth and all the other kids at St. Jude’s Home for Court Placed Juveniles safe. 
I failed. Badly. Now we all have blood on our hands and owe a dangerous man a very dangerous debt. We don’t know when he’ll come calling for payment, but when he does – we pay, or we suffer. 
When my turn comes, I’m ready for anything.
Except seeing Beth again. 
LOVE IS NEVER FREE

Beth
No one ever tells you that the cost of having your dreams come true is literally every single other part of your life. Yes, I’m a huge pop star these days, but I’m pretty much a mess, too. 
I’ve spent my life hiding behind disguises, make-up and costumes, all to protect myself from the kind of pain that comes from revealing your true self to someone. 
I did that once. With Tommy. The only person I ever loved. It didn’t turn out so well. 
And now, with everything else falling apart around me, I’m suddenly in the backseat of his car.
Being kidnapped.
And the past we’ve both tried to run from is catching up with us. 

Contains The Debt: A Prologue and 50,000 more words in the continuation of Tommy and Beth's story.



Review


I want to start my review with the preface that book 1 ends in a terrible cliffhanger and since the next book came very soon after it, I have decided to review together.

That said, this was not an easy read. The story has the depth and intensity typical for the author but this one was rather dark and heavy to read at times due to covering the subject of child abuse. I feel a trigger warning is needed for child abuse, including attempted rape presented in real time in the Prologue and in flashbacks later in the story.

Beth and Tommy are two very broken characters that cannot be easily fixed. They have this almost cosmic connection and it seems they are each others' only salvation. The road to their HEA together was not an easy one and often in this story, I couldn't imagine how they will get the happiness they deserved, being together seemed absolutely impossible.

Tommy broke my heart, he felt real, easily accessible, his suffering and dilemmas i could understand.I felt a strong connection with him and think I understood him better. Beth remained a bit of mystery, we never get crucial details about her past and that kept me from understanding her better.

This read like the start of Tommy and Beth's journey both literally and figuratively. I wasn't sold on the whole thing with Bates and the attempted kidnapping of Beth. Tommy and Beth just started unpacking all the hurt from their past and story ended. I strongly recommend reading the next one right away.

Purchase link: Amazon


Title: Where I Belong (The Debt #2)
Author: Molly O'Keefe
Genre/Themes: Contemporary romance, Abuse
Release Date: 26 June 2017

Add on Goodreads
Author's links: Website / Twitter / Facebook / Goodreads

My rating: 3.5 stars

Blurb

THE GIRL I LOVED IS THE WOMAN I CAN’T HAVE
It was simple: Pay the debt and I stay out of jail. Pay the debt and I stay alive.
But I sacrificed it all for Beth.
I didn’t pay what I owed. I’m sure punishment is coming, but I can take it - as long as Beth is safe. Away from her mother and everyone else who would hurt her.
I gave it all up for two days with her. And it was worth it.
She always was. 

THE SECRETS WE KEEP ARE WHAT TEARS US APART
We’re supposed to be done. Over. Tommy goes his way, I go mine. Cue the heartbreaking music.
I’m supposed to forget him, but I don’t think I can. And when the danger closes in on Tommy, we’re on the run again. From Bates. From my mother. From our past. And there are no safe places to hide.
Except one. And it’s the place that will hurt Tommy the most. 
But maybe it’s time for me to face my past. My demons.
Maybe it’s time for me to save Tommy for once.

Review

The emotional and physical journey of Beth and Tommy continued in the second book. It was even more intense that the first one. And a lot more sex was included which made me feel like the characters were trying to solve all their issues with sex. No matter how intimate and liberating it was, I was not convinced it was the right approach. I felt they needed more talking and less (rough) f*cking especially considering the traumas they were both dealing with.

The story was very raw and emotional, tugging at the heart strings. There were plotholes, though, that took me away from the story, the business with Bates, the missing reasons behind the behaviour of Beth's mom at the past and in the present.

The situation with Tommy granddad was difficult and conflicting and not easy to process and I like that it was not sugarcoated but it was presented as something exceptionally painful for everyone involved, something that needs time and a lot of effort to accept.

Overall, I see Beth and Tommy's story as an emotional and raw tale of an almost fatal attraction, exploration of how loving and hurting the person you love often go hand in hand. I have my doubts regarding the representation of trauma survivors but I'm not an expert, so I can't really say if was wring or right. The pacing was uneven at times, there were some plotholes, which did take away from my enjoyment of this series. The prologue worked rather well on its own but I  can easily see book 1 and 2 being just one tighter, more cohesive story.

Having said all that, I still love Molly's writing and think she can spin a story of exceptional depth and intensity but this is not one of my favourties of hers. I expect that we will be getting more stories in the series (Simon, Carissa) and I'm just intrigued enough to continue reading them.

Purchase links: Amazon

Historical Romance

Review: An Unnatural Vice by KJ Charles

02:02


Title: An Unnatural Vice (Sins of the Cities #2)
Author: KJ Charles
Genre/Themes: Historical, MM romance
Release Date: 6 June 2017

Author's links: Website / Twitter / FB Group / Goodreads
Add on Goodreads

My rating: 4 Stars


Blurb

In the sordid streets of Victorian London, unwanted desire flares between two bitter enemies brought together by a deadly secret.

Crusading journalist Nathaniel Roy is determined to expose spiritualists who exploit the grief of bereaved and vulnerable people. First on his list is the so-called Seer of London, Justin Lazarus. Nathaniel expects him to be a cheap, heartless fraud. He doesn’t expect to meet a man with a sinful smile and the eyes of a fallen angel—or that a shameless swindler will spark his desires for the first time in years.

Justin feels no remorse for the lies he spins during his séances. His gullible clients simply bore him. Hostile, disbelieving, utterly irresistible Nathaniel is a fascinating challenge. And as their battle of wills and wits heats up, Justin finds he can’t stop thinking about the man who’s determined to ruin him.

But Justin and Nathaniel are linked by more than their fast-growing obsession with one another. They are both caught up in an aristocratic family’s secrets, and Justin holds information that could be lethal. As killers, fanatics, and fog close in, Nathaniel is the only man Justin can trust—and, perhaps, the only man he could love. 

Review 

This is the second book in the Sins of the Cities series and it continues the mystery/suspense plot from the first book as the background of a rather unexpected romance.

Justine Lazarus, the Seer of London, a fake psychic making money by deceiving  gullible rich people who turn to him is very much at the heart of this story. And he is such a special character, he is so unapologetically bad you can't help cheer for his HEA. Justine is a shameless crook, who has no regrets and second thoughts about what he does for a living. Yet, we gradually see another side of him - he is smart and observant and crafty and resourceful and ultimately, someone with a moral code of his own, someone who cares about his people, wants to do better, live a better life.

He is not an easily likable character, especially at the beginning, but I had no trouble understanding him, relating to him, accepting as legitimate the reasons that made him act the way he did. Deep down he is a good person, caring in his own way, and what makes him even more special is that despite the difficulties he had been through , him acting like a cold-hearted cynic is  all more or less a mask, a role he plays to perfection in order to survive. And still, he has dreams, and hopes, is able to love and show compassion and care.

Nathaniel was a bit harder for me to pin down as a character - strong and stoic, recovering from the loss of his lover. He was a sort of a justice warrior, guided by strong moral principles. While I'm sympathetic to his struggles to come to terms with his attraction to someone like Lazarus, he acted too superior and judgmental for my liking. His privilege was showing in his insistence for Justin to change his ways. Even though in the end he accepted him the way he was, I didn't like his attitude for most of the story.

They are an unlikely pair, which started with an irresistible sexual chemistry in a enemies-to-lovers scenario. I felt the attraction was a bit instantaneous and while I see it as fitting Lazarus, it felt forced with Nathaniel. He's been mourning his partner for a long time and suddenly his attraction awakes, just like that, out of nowhere and it draws him to the unlikeliest of love interest

The mystery/suspense part of the story was full of plot twitst and turns that kept me on my toes the whole time while reading. It was exciting and unexpected and intense and moving without ever going into melodrama and really enjoyed it.

The writing is we have come to expect by KJ Charles flawless, engaging, full of nuanced detail, creating a rich sense of place and time.

As the solving of the overarching mystery of the series progresses, not it's time for Mark to get his story told and I can't wait to read it later this year. 

Purchase links: Publisher / Amazon / Kobo

M/M romance

Release Day launch for Oversight by Santino Hassell

00:00

OVERSIGHT by Santino Hassell

Series: The Community, Book #2
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
 Release Date (Print & Ebook): June 26th, 2017
 Length (Print & Ebook): 242 pages
 Subgenre: Romantic Suspense, Paranormal
Add to Goodreads
Links: Amazon / B&N / Riptide

Book Blurb

Spoiler Alert! The following blurb contains spoilers for Insight, book one of The Community.

Holden Payne has it all . . . or so he thinks. As heir to the founder of the Community—an organization that finds, protects, and manages psychics—he’s rich, powerful, and treated like royalty. But after a series of disappearances and murders rock the Community, he’s branded the fall guy for the scandal and saddled with a babysitter.

Sixtus Rossi is a broad-shouldered, tattooed lumbersexual with a man-bun and a steely gaze. He’s also an Invulnerable—supposedly impervious to both psychic abilities and Holden’s charms. It’s a claim Holden takes as a challenge. Especially if sleeping with Six may help him learn whether the Community had more to do with the disappearances than they claimed.

As Holden uncovers the truth, he also finds himself getting in deep with the man sent to watch him. His plan to seduce Six for information leads to a connection so intense that some of Six’s shields come crashing down. And with that comes a frightening realization: Holden has to either stand by the Community that has given him everything, or abandon his old life to protect the people he loves.
  
Excerpt 

The man who walked into the office did not remotely resemble the teen boy who'd just strolled through his memories. Adult Sixtus was Holden’s height but corded with about thirty more pounds of muscle. His biceps were nearly bursting from the sleeves and his pecs were clearly visible beneath the tight black polo he wore, making the typically conservative style— look like the prequel to a stripping routine in Magic Mike. He also wore khaki pants so tight his thighs looked like they were being strangled. He'd paired the two articles of clothing with scuffed motorcycle boots with steel toes.

Holden didn't make an attempt to hide his slow ogle, and dragged his eyes from boot to crotch to clavicle before taking in Six's face. His fathomless black eyes were the only familiar feature in that olive complexed face. He had a full beard and mustache, thick black hair tied up in a bun, and wide lips that Holden wanted to suck on. Why did his sociopathic handler have to be a disgustingly sexy lumberjack hipster?

"Huh," Holden said. "He's filled out."

Richard went back to pursing his lips but Sixtus didn't even blink. He didn't scan Holden or react to the intense eyefuck he'd just received. There seemed to be nothing behind those dark eyes. The effect was more disturbing when Holden, by default, reached out with his gift to get an impression. He'd expected a hint of impatience or irritation even if it was muted by the mental shield that was apparently always in place.

Author Bio and Links

Santino Hassell was raised by a conservative family, but he was anything but traditional. He grew up to be a smart-mouthed, school cutting grunge kid, then a transient twenty-something, and eventually transformed into an unlikely romance author.

Santino writes queer romance that is heavily influenced by the gritty, urban landscape of New York City, his belief that human relationships are complex and flawed, and his own life experiences.


Crossover romance series

Recs: Crossover Romance Series

06:42

This week's #RomBkLove prompt on Twitter started a conversation about crossover/mixed series of mf and queer romance. This is my favourite kind of series and to my surprise there seem to be more of them already out there and coming soon than I expected. I have collection all the recommendations made in this Twitter conversation in the following list. Feel free to add more if you know any by either commenting on this post or reaching out to me on Twitter (@e_savova).


  1. Bend or Break series by Amy Jo Cousins. My favourite NA queer series. I have reviewed all the books (7 so far) and there are more to come (soonish, I hope) - Amazon
  2. The Ivy Years series by Sarina Bowen - Amazing NA romances, mostly hockey ones. My review/Amazon
  3. Queers of La Vista by Kris Ripper - series of queer contemporary romances. My review/ Amazon
  4. Treading the Boards by Tess Bowery - queer historical romances. I've only read the third book in the series, mf with genderqueer f, both POCs. My review/Amazon
  5. Scientific Method by Kris Ripper - recommended by Amy Jo Cousins. Amazon
  6. Compass Series by Tamsen Parker - Contemporary BDSM romances. Recommended by @_AJCousins. Amazon
  7. Made in jersey by Tessa Bailey - contemporary romance. Recommended by @_AJCousins
  8. The Beyond series by Kit Rocha - post-apocalyptic romances. Recommended by @_AJCousins. Amazon
  9. The Gamers series by Megan Erickson. Recommended by @alice_exclaims. Amazon
  10. lake Lovelace series by Vanessa North. Recommended by @anacoqui. Amazon
  11. Green Men series by KJ Charles - historical/paranormal romances coming out this summer.
  12. Small Change by Roan Parrish - first book, Small Change is contemporary mf, just release. Next in the series is mm romance with not release date set yet. Recommended by @_AJCousins.
Note: I use Amazon Affiliate links on my blog. The links in this post are for the first books in the series except for Treading the Boards where I have linked book 3, That Potent Alchemy, since the others are not available at moment and this is the one I have read/reviewed.

Alex West

New and Debut: Alex West

00:00

It's time for another New and Debut author spotlight. I'm happy to welcome over to the blog today Alex West, author of mm romance whose debut mm romcom Anything But Real was just released this week. Read on to learn more about Alex, his writing inspiration and what kind of stories can we expect from him in the future. 



Meet Alex 


1. Tell us about yourself and why did you decide to become a romance writer?

Hi there! Well, I love books. And I love romance. And I guess I just decided to put the two together! In all honesty, I’ve always been a real romantic. I think there’s romance in everything, and I love reading about love and watching movies about it. I’ve never been able to get enough! So I wanted to write about it. There’s something so special about two people (or three!) falling deeply in love. 

2. Can you share some of your favourite books and authors?

Of course! I have tons of favorite authors and books, and I think, for me, a lot of those favorites change based on how I’m feeling. I will say that I think Riley Hart is an inspiration. I love everything she writes. You can truly feel her characters. I also really love Christina Lee, who has such an easy way with words that I’m jealous! Her writing is clean and superb. 

3. Who/what do you consider your writing influence/inspiration?

I think that life is an inspiration. I know people say that a lot, but there’s something so romantic about living as full of a life as you can. I get ideas every single day! Plus, I really love watching movies and reading books about love. I think you can get ideas from anything. 

4. What kind of stories can the readers expect from you (contemporary/historical/sci-fi, adult/NA/YA, etc)?

Readers can expect warm, happy stories filled with sarcasm, sex and lots of swoony, romantic scenes. I write New Adult, and like to focus on characters who love love just as much as I do. My Anything series is a series of standalone books that are extremely happy. They’re easy beach reads and will put a smile on your face. My Hart Boys series, which will be out soon, is a lot more sexy but still really fun. I like to write characters, so expect big ideas and lots of romance. 

5. Please, introduce your latest/upcoming release.

Thanks! My debut book, Anything But Real, is out on June 20, 2017 and is a warm and swoony romantic comedy. It’s perfect if you want an easy read for summer, or one that will just put a smile on your face. Lots of love and lots of romantic tension. I have another book in the Anything series called Anything Like Lies, which will be out soon. And then my Hart Boys series, which will begin with the first book Watch Me, will be out soon as well! 



BLURB: 

Benjamin Walters and Reid Adams are good at walking away. Good at hiding the truth. So when Ben and Reid find each other again after years apart, they're surprised when the last thing they want to say is goodbye. And when Ben's sister gets engaged, asking Reid to be his wedding date feels like the right thing to do. In fact, everything about being with Reid feels right.
But when an unexpected announcement turns them from second chance boyfriends to fake fiancés, their relationship ignites in lies. Soon, both Ben and Reid are faced with the ultimate decision, one that will define their lives forever. Is their accidental engagement worth losing a future together? Because even though a wedding may be easy to fake, Ben and Reid are beginning to realize their hearts don't lie as easily.

Purchase links: Amazon / B&N


Author Bio and Links

Alex West is the New Adult author of Watch Me, book one in the Hart Boys series, and the standalone gay romantic comedy, Anything But Real.




Nalini Singh

Review: Silver Silence by Nalini Singh

00:29

Title: Silver Silence (Psy-Changeling Trinity #1)
Author: Nalini Singh
Date of publication: 13 June 2017
Genre: Paranormal romance, shifters

Author's links:
Add on Goodreads

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Blurb

New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh introduces a bold new chapter in her extraordinary paranormal romance saga with the Psy-Changeling Trinity series. Wild passion will encounter the darkest of betrayal...

Control. Precision. Family. These are the principles that drive Silver Mercant. At a time when the fledgling Trinity Accord seeks to unite a divided world, with Silver playing a crucial role as director of a worldwide emergency response network, wildness and chaos are the last things she needs in her life. But that’s exactly what Valentin Nikolaev, alpha of the StoneWater Bears, brings with him.

Valentin has never met a more fascinating woman. Though Silver is ruled by Silence—her mind clear of all emotion—Valentin senses a whisper of fire around her. That’s what keeps him climbing apartment buildings to be near her. But when a shadow assassin almost succeeds in poisoning Silver, the stakes become deadly serious…and Silver finds herself in the heart of a powerful bear clan.

Her would-be assassin has no idea what their poison has unleashed... 

Review

This story was another winner for me, a worthy addition to a favourite PNR series of mine. This is the start of spin-off series, or as Nalini Singh herself called it" a second season" of the Psy-Changeling saga.

This is the story of Silver, a cardinal Psy and Valentin, the alpha of the bear clan. There are some similarities with previous stories of cardinal Psys and alpha changelings, as it's book 15 in the series, I feel some repetition is unavoidable but it didn't bother me to much. Still, I would welcome more diversity in terms of tropes and how the romantic relationships develop, these things would be beneficial for the series and would make them even more fun to read. And I'm happy to say that there are signs of such changes coming along - we meet our first gay changelings here and I really hope Nalini Singh will give us their story at some point in the series.

Tthe bears turned Stu to be such a fun changeling clan. I didn't expect they would compete with Lucas' cats for the first place of my affections but they really did. Valentin was alpha to the core but also confused and vulnerable and playful which is something I love about all the changelings, even the wolves have this fun, playful side which I think. He was determined and even stubborn in his wooing of Silver, his love strong and unselfish.

In some ways Silver was the typical cardinal Psy - cold, calculating, smart and determined but we see the cracks in her silence as the story goes. There is an emotional side to her, deep caring for her family, for the world as a whole and gradually for the bear clan. I liked how strong she was, a true equal to Valentin. She didn't give in, didn't back down in their arguments and overall, I felt their relationship was very much based on challenging each as much as supporting and providing comfort to one another.

I absolutely loved the twist in eh last quarter of the story. It is a unique take on the amnesia trope which came rather unexpectedly and worked so well giving the story much needed freshness. It made the romance stand out on its own among the rest of the series.

Wwhat made this book extra special to me is that I'm Bulgarian and we have a lot of cultural similarities with the Russians. And I speak Russian, so all those cultural and linguistic bits in the story felt familiar and made so happy. This is the closest I have come to seeing my culture (rather one that is very similar to mine) represented in the romances I read and the feeling is incredible.

AS usual for the series, the complex world building continues, we see more of all the inhabitants of this world and the complex relationships between them which continue to change and evolve. I'm confident that fans of the series will enjoy this story a lot and at the same it is a good entry to point for new readers though some nuances coming from the previous books will inevitably be lost to them. Still, if you want to try Nalini Sighn's Psy-Changeling world, I highly recommend Silver Silence (and then going back to read all the previous books ;)

Purchase Links: Amazon / B&N / Kobo / iBooks

Blog Tour

Retro review Tour for Enlightenment series by Joanna Chambers

00:00


The Enlightenment series by Joanna Chambers is one of my favoruite queer historical romance series. I read the books last year and here is my joint review. I have all the love for Murdo and David and willingly admit to David coming first in my heart despite what seems the universal preference for Murdo among my reader friends :)

Covers by Natasha Snow

Provoked (Enlightenment #1) 

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK

David Lauriston is struggling to build his reputation in Edinburgh’s privileged legal world. His humble origins are enough of a hurdle, never mind his recent decision to defend a group of weavers accused of treason, prompting speculation that he may harbour radical sympathies. The last thing he should be doing is agreeing to help the brother of one of the convicted weavers find the government agent who caused his brother’s downfall.

David’s personal life is no more successful. Tormented by his forbidden desires for other men, and the painful memories of the childhood friend he once loved, David tries his hardest to live a celibate existence, castigating himself whenever his resolve slips.

But then—into David’s repressed and orderly world—bursts Lord Murdo Balfour.

Cynical, hedonistic and utterly unapologetic, Murdo could not be less like David. Whilst David refuses to entertain the prospect of entering into a loveless marriage for propriety’s sake, Murdo is determined to wed one day—and has no intention of giving up the company of other men when he does so. But as appalled as David is by Murdo’s unrepentant self-interest, he cannot resist the man’s sway.

Murdo tempts and provokes David in equal measure, distracting him from his promise to find the agent provocateur responsible for the weavers’ fate, and forcing him to acknowledge his physical desires.

But is Murdo more than a mere distraction?

Is it possible he could be the very man David is looking for?


Beguiled (Enlightenment #2)


Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK 

Two years after his last encounter with cynical nobleman Lord Murdo Balfour, David Lauriston accidentally meets him again in the heart of Edinburgh.

King George IV is about to make his first visit to Edinburgh and Murdo has been sent North by his politician father to represent his aristocratic family at the celebrations.

David and Murdo’s last parting was painful—and on Murdo’s part, bitter—but Murdo’s feelings seem to have mellowed in the intervening years. So much so, that he suggests to David that they enjoy each other’s company during Murdo’s stay in the capital.

Despite his initial reservations, David cannot put Murdo’s proposal from his mind, and soon find himself at Murdo’s door—and in his arms.

But other figures from David’s past are converging on the city, and as the pomp and ceremony of the King’s visit unfolds around them, David is drawn into a chain of events that will threaten everything: his career, his wellbeing, and the fragile bond that, despite David’s best intentions, is growing between him and Murdo.

Enlightened (Enlightenment #3) 

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK

David Lauriston has been recuperating at Lord Murdo Balfour’s Laverock estate for the last five months. At Laverock, he has regained his health and confidence and has found—with Murdo—more happiness and contentment than he has never known before.

David is all too aware that some day soon he will have to leave Laverock—and Murdo—and return to his legal practice in Edinburgh, just as Murdo will have to return to his life in London. But when David’s mentor, Patrick Chalmers, asks David to return to Edinburgh to visit him on his deathbed, it seems that day has come sooner than either David or Murdo would have wished.

Chalmers begs David to undertake one last piece of business for him: to secure the future of Chalmers’s daughter Elizabeth. But to carry out his old mentor’s wishes, David must travel to London, with Murdo.

No sooner have the two men arrived in the capital than they encounter Murdo’s ruthlessly manipulative father, who reveals a shocking secret that rocks David to his foundations. What’s more, when David discovers Elizabeth is facing far greater danger than even her father feared, he is determined to help her, no matter the cost to his own safety.

As the stakes rise, it is Murdo who must choose what he is prepared to sacrifice to keep David at his side, and ask whether there is any possibility of lasting happiness for men like them.




June 13 - Bike Book Reviews, MM Good Book Reviews

June 15 - Keysmash, The Librarian's Corner

June 17 - Dog-Eared Daydreams, Padme's Library

June 19 - Jessie G Books

June 21 - It's About The Book, Sarandipity, Bayou Book Junkie, My Time Out Book Blog, Gay Book Reviews, Ellie Reads All The Books, My Fiction Nook, Urban Smoothie Read, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, From Top To Bottom Reviews, Boy Meets Boy Reviews


Author Bio

Joanna Chambers always wanted to write. She spent over 20 years staring at blank sheets of paper and despairing of ever writing a single word. In between staring at blank sheets of paper, she studied law, met her husband and had two children. Whilst nursing her first child, she rediscovered her love of romance and found her muse. Joanna lives in Scotland with her family and finds time to write by eschewing sleep and popular culture.


a Rafflecopter giveaway





Hosted By Signal Boost Promotions


Contemporary Romance

Release Day Blitz for Lost Without You by Molly O'Keefe

00:00

LOST_BANNERNOWAVAILABLE
Lost Without You by Molly O'Keefe is NOW AVAILABLE! "With wonderfully drawn characters, deep emotions, and O’Keefe’s draw-you-in-and-hold-you-tight writing, Lost Without You is totally one-clickable!" — J. Kenner NYT and Internationally Best Selling Author
MOLostWithYouBookCover6x9_HIGH
BUY NOW!
Amazon / iBooks / Nook / Kobo / Google Play

Beautiful young couple hugging and kissing isolated on black background.
ALL DEBTS MUST BE PAID
Tommy Seven years ago, I thought I could save Beth, the girl I loved from the monster who was supposed to take care of us. I thought I could keep Beth and all the other kids at St. Jude’s Home for Court Placed Juveniles safe. I failed. Badly. Now we all have blood on our hands and owe a dangerous man a very dangerous debt. We don’t know when he’ll come calling for payment, but when he does – we pay, or we suffer. When my turn comes, I’m ready for anything. Except seeing Beth again. LOVE IS NEVER FREE Beth No one ever tells you that the cost of having your dreams come true is literally every single other part of your life. Yes, I’m a huge pop star these days, but I’m pretty much a mess, too. I’ve spent my life hiding behind disguises, make-up and costumes, all to protect myself from the kind of pain that comes from revealing your true self to someone. I did that once. With Tommy. The only person I ever loved. It didn’t turn out so well. And now, with everything else falling apart around me, I’m suddenly in the backseat of his car. Being kidnapped. And the past we’ve both tried to run from is catching up with us. 
Contains The Debt: A Prologue and 50,000 more words in the continuation of Tommy and Beth's story
MOWhereIBelongBookCover6x9_HIGH
PREORDER WHERE I BELONG - June 26th 

THE GIRL I LOVED IS THE WOMAN I CAN’T HAVE It was simple: Pay the debt and I stay out of jail. Pay the debt and I stay alive. But I sacrificed it all for Beth. I didn’t pay what I owed. I’m sure punishment is coming, but I can take it - as long as Beth is safe. Away from her mother and everyone else who would hurt her. I gave it all up for two days with her. And it was worth it. She always was. THE SECRETS WE KEEP ARE WHAT TEARS US APART We’re supposed to be done. Over. Tommy goes his way, I go mine. Cue the heartbreaking music. I’m supposed to forget him, but I don’t think I can. And when the danger closes in on Tommy, we’re on the run again. From Bates. From my mother. From our past. And there are no safe places to hide. Except one. And it’s the place that will hurt Tommy the most. But maybe it’s time for me to face my past. My demons. Maybe it’s time for me to save Tommy for once.

LOST_JKENNER1

About the Author:
Molly O'Keefe is an award-winning author of over 30 romance novels. She lives in Toronto, Canada with her family and the largest heap of dirty laundry in North America. Sign up for her newsletter to get release day news, exclusive excerpts, sale announcements and in-depth author interviews!

Flickr Images