Reviews

Review: Wild Kisses by Skye Jordan

04:25

Title: Wild Kisses (Wildwood #2)
Author: Skye Jordan
Date of publication: 10 Jan 2017
Genre/themes: Contemporary Romance, Small-town

Author's links: Facebook / Website / Goodreads / Twitter
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My rating: 4 stars


Blurb

Newly divorced, Avery Hart returns home to Wildwood eager to take on her dream opportunity and transform her family’s dive bar into her own bakery. The contractor for hire isn’t just a master with his hands—he’s big, built, and wears a tool belt like nobody’s business. Despite being an ex-con, Trace Hutton is irresistible. Too bad he’d never go for someone as inexperienced as Avery.

Trace needs to focus on the job at hand, not daydream about smearing icing all over the sexy baker…and licking it off. This job is the key to getting his construction company back on its feet after his time in prison. Besides, no one deserves a fresh start more than Avery, and she certainly won’t get that with him.

After a delectable night of passion (and pie), Trace craves something more. But he’ll be damned if he’ll let his checkered past crush her dreams. And as Avery starts to realize how Trace fulfills more than just her physical needs, she struggles with whether to let her history decide her future, or explore the wild new possibilities of forever…

Review 

I loved the first book in the series, Forbidden Fling, and this one is just as good - a moving, sexy, heart-warming romance in a small town setting.

I really like what the author is doing with this series, building a great small town community and populating with the most amazing and intriguing characters. We get the feel-good, heart-warming atmosphere of small-town romance with the added edge of really complex characters, struggling with their past trying to move forward and ultimately falling in love. 

I really loved the heroine here. Avery married young her high school sweetheart but their marriage soon turned loveless and she ended back in her hometown, divorced and trying to get a fresh start. I liked the twist of her having been married, yet being very much inexperienced both sexually and romantically. She was understandably cautious with men but couldn't resist falling for Trace. I loved how determined to succeed, personally and professionally she was. 

Trace was a great character as well, an ex-con, a ladies' man trying to stay away from Avery because he didn't think he was good enough for her. He had a lot of going on in his life and falling (and trying to stay away from) Avery who on top of everything was his current boss was a complication he didn't need.

They had great chemistry and the sexual attraction was there from the start but nothing happened easily for them. The conflict they had to overcome in order to be together felt very real and the way they bumbled their way into a relationship was fitting to their characters - imperfect, a little lost, a lot hesitant because of their pasts but also hopeful and willing to give love a chance. There were no magical solutions to their personal and professional troubles but hard work and concentrated effort made things work for them.

Both Avery and Trace have a lot going on in their lives when they met each other - both trying to get back on their feet, dealing with difficult family issues (though neither of them was on their own) and both reluctant to enter a relationship and yet unable to resist the attraction between them. 

I enjoyed the complex, even slightly convoluted plot and feel it helped bring out all the best/worst qualities of the characters making the reader see them as real people and not just  as figments of the author's imagination.

Wild Kisses is sweet and sexy, real and deeply romantic, definitely a recommended read for me. 

Purchase links: Amazon


Author Interview

New and Debut: Eli Lang

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Here is my first New and Debut post for 2017 and I'm very excited for you to meet a friend of mine and upcoming author, Eli Lang, whose debut novel, Half, will be released next month by Riptide publishing



Meet Eli 


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

I’m interested in the relationships and bonds people form. In families, between friends—and of course, in romance and love. Writing about all the different ways that people connect is fascinating for me, and fun. I like figuring out how people get together and fall in and out of love.

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

Oh, gosh. There’s so many and I’m going to end up forgetting something. Anything by Alexis Hall, KJ Charles, Chris Scully, Harper Fox, Avon Gale, Kris Ripper... For books that are more fantasy, I’m a huge Patricia A. McKillip fan, especially her book The Cygnet and the Firebird. I love Naomi Novik, Guy Gavriel Kay and Emma Bull (her book Finder is one of my all-time favorites.) Andrew Smith and S.E. Hinton on the YA end of things. I love Karin Lowachee’s sci-fi series starting with Warchild. And W.A. Hoffman’s Raised By Wolves series has had a huge impact on me.

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

Definitely everyone I listed above, and all of the authors I love. Reading amazing books makes me want to write more, and write better. I also get a lot of inspiration from listening to music. I like to listen to lyrics and try to build stories out of them. Manga and anime also had a big influence on how I tell stories, how I build plot and relationships.

I’ve also been lucky enough to meet a lot of amazing people in and around the writing community, and I think their thoughts and what I’ve learned from them has had a huge influence on me and how I write.

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

I’m really open to writing anything—I like to read in a lot of different genres, so I’d like to try writing in a lot of different genres, too. But mostly I’m drawn to writing romantic adult/NA fantasy and sci-fi. Some contemporary stories might also sneak in.

5. Please, introduce your upcoming release.

My first book, Half, is coming out with Riptide Publishing in February. It’s a romantic contemporary fantasy. You can read the first chapter from the book on the publisher's site

Blurb

Living between worlds has never been comfortable, but it’s where I’ve always fit: between human and fey, illness and health, magic and reality.

I’ve spent the last six years looking for a cure for the nameless sickness eating me up. If I believed there was one out there, I would keep searching. But there isn’t, so I’ve come back home, where my past and present tangle. Come home to live . . . and to die.

But my father insists I meet Kin. He’s a healer, and determined to help, even though I’m not so hopeful anymore. But Kin isn’t what I expected, in any way. He sees me, not my illness. He reminds me of what it’s like to be alive. And I can’t help falling for him, even though I know it isn’t fair to either of us.

Kin thinks he has the cure I’ve been looking for, but it’s a cure that will change everything: me, my life, my heart. If I refuse, I could lose Kin. But if I take it, I might lose myself.

Preorder from Riptide 


Author Bio and Links

Eli Lang is a writer, drummer, and origami enthusiast. She lives in Arizona with too many pets and too many books.



Annabeth Alberth

Review: Off Base by Annabeth Albert

02:10

Title: Off Base (Out of Uniform #1)
Author: Annabeth Albert
Genre/Themes: MM romance, military, gamers
Release Date: 9 Jan 2017

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

Rating: 4 Stars

Blurb

After trading the barracks for a fixer-upper rental, navy SEAL Zack Nelson wants peace, not a roommate—especially not Pike, who sees things about Zack he most wants to hide. Pike's flirting puts virgin Zack on edge. And the questions Pike's arrival would spark from Zack's teammates about his own sexuality? Nope. Not going there. But Zack can't refuse.

Pike Reynolds knows there won't be a warm welcome in his new home. What can he say? He's an acquired taste. But he needs this chance to get his life together. Also, teasing the uptight SEAL will be hella fun. Still, Pike has to tread carefully; he's had his fill of tourists in the past, and he can't risk his heart on another, not even one as hot, as built—and, okay, yeah, as adorable—as Zack.

Living with Pike crumbles Zack's restraint and fuels his curiosity. He discovers how well they fit together in bed…in the shower…in the hallway… He needs Pike more than he could have imagined, yet he doesn't know how to be the man Pike deserves.


Review


This is a spin-off of her Gaymers series but works well on its own, so there is no need to read the other series though they are rather good, especially the last book, and I highly recommend them.

The main set up is in a way similar to that in Connection Error, here we have a military man and a gamer (in this case, gamer--turned-college professor) coming together. The Navy SEAL Zack is a virgin hero, deeply in the closet, not fully out even to himself, while Pike is his opposite - he has never been in the closet and cannot (doesn't even try) to pass as straight. Now, you can imagine the tension arising from these two living under the same roof and dealing with the strong attraction existing between them.

I liked the intensity of the relationship, both their struggles - personal and professional felt real to me. Pike didn't want to start things with someone who was not clear about his own sexuality, while Zack was under a lot of pressure from his family and the military to keep playing the perfect straight boy. At time sit felt like Pike came as a bit too aggressive in his insistence for Zack to come out since this could and in a way, did, put him in real physical in the military. His family were ultra conservative, religious and homophobic and coming out as gay to them went as well (bad) as can be expected.

All this put enormous stress on both Pike and Zack and made it really difficult for them to form a real relationship rather than just being f*ck buddies on the sly. Add to this the professional insecurity and turmoil both faced as two young men trying to fit in the world of grown-up working people after graduation, and things quickly reached a boiling point.

The story creates a strong sense of community and support for Zack and Pike as a couple, which really sends a positive, hopeful message. Zack ended being rejected by his family and it was not an easy thing for him to deal with but he also got the support he needed from the military and his friends (waves to Ryan and Josiah).

I found both main characters to be well developed, full-fledged, which made them so very likable. Their story is the story any two young men trying to build a life of their own - personally and professionally which I can recommend to any fan of good contemporary romance.

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


Historical Romance

Review: Wanted, a Gentleman by KJ Charles

04:27

Title: Wanted, A Gentleman
Author: KJ Charles
Genre/Themes: Historical, MM romance
Release Date: 9 Jan 2017
Author's links: Website / Twitter / Facebook Group / Goodreads
Add on Goodreads
My rating: 4 Stars



Blurb

By the good offices of Riptide Publishing
KJ Charles’s new Entertainment

WANTED, A GENTLEMAN
Or, Virtue Over-Rated


the grand romance of

Mr. Martin St. Vincent . . . a Merchant with a Mission, also a Problem
Mr. Theodore Swann  . . .  a humble Scribbler and Advertiser for Love

Act the First:

the offices of the Matrimonial Advertiser, London
where Lonely Hearts may seek one another for the cost of a shilling

Act the Second:

a Pursuit to Gretna Green (or thereabouts)

featuring
a speedy Carriage
sundry rustic Inns
a private Bed-chamber
***
In the course of which are presented
Romance, Revenge, and Redemption
Deceptions, Discoveries, and Desires

the particulars of which are too numerous to impart.

Review 

KJ Charles' historical romance are my favourite queer historicals and this one easily joins their ranks. It's impeccably written, engaging and so much fun. This is a kind of road trip story in the chase of a runaway bride where two unlikely people fall in lust-love. 

This Georgian romance is less serious than the Society of Gentlemen series but we have some political elements  here as well and they give this light-hearted story an edgier feel and a certain depth to the characters which makes them all the more likable. 

I won't go into details about the plot, but I just want to say that we have The Matrimonial Advertiser as the great-great grandfather of Tinder and Grindr and reading about it was highly enjoyable. 

The leading characters, as one has come to expect from KJ Charles, read like real-life people dealing with real-life issues. Martin who is an freed slave is a most fascinating character and I loved everything about him -he is very attractive, smart but also struggling with conflicting feelings of gratitude and rightful indignation towards his former masters. He appears so put together,a  successful business man, confident and completely at ease with who he is but meeting Theo and the road trip they take together brings to the fore all his buried emotions.

I found Theo less intriguing than Martin though they certainly made an interesting couple. I loved how they saw the other for he was and even though things between them started as a business transaction they quickly developed into something real, intimate. 

There is a big twist in the story towards the end which I have to admit I didn't expect and it did turn things around in many ways, yet it still worked  and added a certain sensationalist flavour to the story. 

Wanted, A Gentleman is a quick and very entertaining read, recommended for the times you want to escape reality and lose yourself in a good book. 

Purchase links: Riptide

2016

Ellie's Best Books of 2016

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Here is the list of the best books I read in 2016. After some hard struggle I managed to narrow them down to 16 and there are familiar and beloved authors with their releases from this, as well as some new-to me authors whose powerful stories I discovered in 2016. 


A Seditious Affair by KJ Charles - Technically I read it n the end of last year but I posted my review on the blog in January and thus it didn't make it on my best books of 2015 list. And this book is so special, my most favourite historical of all times
Review/buy on Amazon

Walk the Edge by Katie McGarry - an engaging YA/NA romance with realistic and relatable characters put in rather extreme situations by a favourite author.
Review/buy on Amazon

First and First by Santino Hassell - I really love the whole Five Boroughs series but this story stands out the most for me. Because the author managed to redeem a character I thought was nonredeemable. Furthermore, he made me fall in love with Caleb! And Ollie, well Ollie is like a dream come through,just the perfect partner anyone could ask for. 
Review/buy on Amazon

Listen to the Moon by Rose Lerner I discovered Rose Lener this year and binge read all her books. and they all are fascinating but this love story of the upstairs valet and the downstairs maid just stole my heart. Romantic and heart-felt and tender and sad and rigid and joyful - it had everything! Review/buy on Amazon

Downtown Devil by Cara McKenna - Cara McKenna's book has featured consistently in my best book of the year list and it's no surprise Downtown Devil is here this year. Poly/menage romances are not my favourite but this was just so good. A moving exploration of one's identity, sexuality, desires, limits and the writing it superb, as usual. 
Review/buy on Amazon

Gays of Our Lives by Kris Ripper - Another new-to-me author and I found this series completely fascinating. Emerson is the worst curmudgeon and Ollie, the ultimate hipster and their coming together was as unlikely as it was fun to follow. 
Review/buy on Amazon

Burn Down the Night by Molly O'Keefe - Molly O'Keefe is one of my to-go authors for erotic romance. The previous two books in this series were among my best reads last year and it;'s only fitting that ... will make the 2016 list. Biker and good girl turned bad were an explosive combination. Review/buy on Amazon

Fast Connection by Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell  - I liked the first book but really, really loved this one. The depth and complexity of the characters and of all their relationships - personal, professional, with family and friends make it an unforgettable read. 
Review/buy on Amazon

A Change of Heart by Sonali Dev - another regular on my best books list. Sonali Dev is an exquisite writer and storyteller and her romances never fail to touch my heart. This one is darker than her previous two but completely mesmerizing
Review/buy on Amazon

Shatterproof by Xen Sanders - hauntingly beautiful, paranormal, yet very real, dark, yet hopeful and some of the most beautiful, lyrical writing I've read in a while.
Review/buy on Amazon

Keepsake by Sarina Bowen - Sarina Bowen is a favourite author and though this series is not her best, Keepsake was an absolute winner for me. Loved, loved everything about it - virgin hero, runaway from a religious commune where he grew up, heroine is rich, wild child, who suffered some
trauma and struggles with PTSD at the time of their meeting. The book deals with heavy subjects in responsible and considerate manner while telling a love story 
Review/buy on Amazon

Pansies by Alexis Hall - another regular on my best books list. I just love Alexis Hall's writing and this book hit some many of my buttons. It's about finding yourself and about dealing with bullying and loss and grieving and moving on and accepting yourself and being comfortable/happy in your skin and love (between parents and children and siblings and partners and friends).
Review/buy on Amazon

Documenting Light by EE Ottoman - a new-to-me author with a tender story of two trans people building a relationship while exploring queer history. This is a book about the connections between the past and the present and future. quiet and understated but emotionally powerful.
Review/buy on Amazon

Beard Science by Penny Reid - Penny is my to-go author for romantic comedy and her Winston brothers series bring me so much joy and tears of laughter. Cletus is everything and his story is so over-the-top weird and quirky and fun and crazy (the good kind).
Review/buy on Amazon
Baron by Joanna Shupe - Joanna Shupe is a new-to-me author and Baron is the first Historical set in the Gilded Age in NY that I have read. And I loved it. strong characters, strong conflict, great historical setting.
Review/buy on Amazon

Glass Tidings by Amy Jo Cousins - Amy Jo is a favourite author of mine. she has the uncanny ability to write characters that somehow speak directly to me. Tthis Christmas romance is a pure balm for the soul - heart-warming, a bit magical like the season and lot of real and honest story of two unlikely people brought together by circumstances, both weary of forming attachments and building a relationship but ultimately perfectly suited to each other's imperfections.
Review/buy on Amazon

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