Blog Tour

Blog Tour, excerpt, review and giveaway for The Shameless Hour by Sarina Bowen

03:48




Title: The Shameless Hour (The Ivy Years, #4)Author: Sarina Bowen
Genre: NA | Contemporary Romance
Release Date: April 14, 2015
Tour Hosted by: As the Pages Turn

Purchase links:  Amazon + Amazon UK + B&N + Kobo + iTunes







Synopsis



The girl who’s had everyone meets the boy who has no one.

For Bella, the sweet-talking, free-loving, hip-checking student manager of the Harkness men’s hockey team, sex is a second language. She’s used to being fluent where others stutter, and the things people say behind her back don’t (often) bother her. So she can’t understand why her smoking hot downstairs neighbor has so much trouble staying friends after their spontaneous night together. She knows better than to worry about it, but there’s something in those espresso eyes that makes her second guess herself.

Rafe is appalled with himself for losing his virginity in a drunken hookup. His strict Catholic upbringing always emphasized loving thy neighbor—but not with a bottle of wine and a box of condoms. The result is an Ivy League bout of awkwardness. But when Bella is leveled by a little bad luck and a downright sinister fraternity stunt, it’s Rafe who is there to pick up the pieces.

Bella doesn’t want Rafe’s help, and she’s through with men. Too bad the undeniable spark that crackles between the two of them just can’t be extinguished.


Excerpt


I held her a little closer as we danced. The band had no vocalist, but I could hear Louis Armstrong’s voice in my head. Give me… a kiss to build a dream on. “I’ve always loved this song,” I confessed.

“Wait, really?” Bella stood up taller so she could look me in the eye. “Have you listened to the lyrics? The guy gets a single kiss, and he basically says that it’s enough — he’s just going to fantasize about it for the rest of his life. I mean… what a rip.”

I bit back a smile. “It’s romantic.”
 
“It’s unsatisfying,” she countered. “Here, I’ll show you.” Before I knew what was happening, Bella came closer. Her silky thumb stroked once across my cheekbone. Then she stood up on her toes and kissed me.


The first press of her sweet lips against mine stopped my breathing. Though you couldn’t have paid me to resist her. Sheer instinct made me lean into that kiss with my entire being.

Bella’s mouth melted onto mine, and a needy little sound issued from the back of her throat. Heaven. I deepened the kiss, and our tongues touched once. She tasted of red wine and desire. An electric pulse traveled the length of my body. Unbidden, my hands pulled her closer, my fingers in her hair…

The sound of applause brought me back to earth with a thunk. The song had ended, and the band segued into some kind of swing tune. Bella and I broke apart on a gasp. For a second we just stared at each other. “See?” she said eventually.

But I didn’t have the faintest recollection of the point she’d been trying to make. “What?”

Amusement tickled her features. “Never mind. I hear my wine glass calling me.” She tugged on my hand.

Books in the Ivy Years Series



Purchase Ivy Years Series: Amazon + Amazon UK + B&N + Kobo + iTunes


About Sarina Bowen

Sarina Bowen writes steamy, angsty contemporary romance from Vermont’s Green Mountains. (Her ancestors began logging and farming Vermont during the 18th century. These were rugged, outdoor types without benefit of a laptop or a good latte. It boggles the mind.) Sarina enjoys skiing, skating and good food. She lives in Windsor County, Vermont, with her family, eight chickens and too much ski gear and hockey equipment.

Website + Facebook + Twitter + Pinterest + Instagram + Tumblr + Goodreads



Giveaway



The giveaway is open internationally and ends 05/03/2015.
(1) An Ivy Years Notebook (It’s super cute)
(1) eBook box set of Ivy Years #1-3
(1) Signed paperback of The Year We Fell Down

a Rafflecopter giveaway 



Review

The Ivy Years is hands down my favourite NA series at the moment. I loved all the books so far but the first one, The Year We Fell Down stands on its own for me.

Book 4, the Shameless hour, tells the story of Bella who is the student manager of the hockey team whose players have been the main characters in the previous books. She had a very central role in The Understatement of the Year, which I'd recommend to be read before you start with The Shameless Hour. 

Bella is an intriguing heroine - open and easy going, loves sex and is not ashamed of it. I have to admit that sometimes I can't quite connect with characters who go for no-string sex and avoid relationships at all cost. My own very romantic and monogamous heart earns for true-love relationships but I also like to read about the journey from just hook-ups to real intimacy and Bella's journey along that road was not an easy one.

While Bella was strong, independent and very much liberated, Raffe was her opposite in many respects. He was confident and certain in his beliefs but he was also quiet, a bit introverted, and most importantly a 20-year old virgin in college. I loved everything about him, really.

After the initial hook-up between him and Bella, they for most the story they are just friends. He came into her life at a terrible time for her and acted as the pillar of strength she had never thought she'd need. We see Bella as any other college girl, somewhat vulnerable, despite her bravado, she had her own insecurities and old-time hurts. The abuse she suffers throws her completely off her game and it takes Raffe's strong and loyal support and ultimately his love for her to help Bella get back to her old self. 

The story explores the intricacies of shame, the lack of inhibitions and restraints and the consequences of it. I really liked the intense dynamics family/friends/lovers dynamics Ms Bowen so successfully examines in this book. Both Raffe and Bella have complicated relationship with their families, for different reasons.

This college romance digs deep into some very serious issues affecting young people - harassment, physical and verbal abuse, slut shaming and how they affect everyone involved. Bella lost her confidence, came to question herself and her choices. slut shaming but ultimately, she got her revenge. Raffe had no major conflict to deal with but he won me over with his acceptance of Bella for who she is and with his loyal support and care for her when she was at her lowest.

The story also deals with the issue of STD which is not very often covered in NA romance. This sensitive subject was treated with respect and no judgement which I very much appreciate. 

I only had two minor issues - Bella's family sudden change of heart and acceptance didn't fit well in the story for me, and also I was annoyed by the fact that Bella never got the discuss her STD with Raffe. I feel it was an important issue initially, well-developed and examined, but then kind of got forgotten.

I also like to congratulate Ms Bowen for writing a truly diverse story - there were characters with different ethnic and social background, queer characters and the story created a sense of inclusion. i loved the fact that this diversity was not presented as an/the issues in this book, it was treated as a fact of  of life and people were ok with each other.

Just like the previous books in this series The Shameless Hour brings together some sweet and sexy times with some serious issues which college students often face. A recommended read for fans of NA romance!


Meme

Waiting for Wednesday: Moonlight on Nightingale Way by Samantha Young

21:30


Waiting on Wednesday is a book meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine and it features books that we are eagerly awaiting to be released.

Title: Moonlight on Nightingale Way (On Dublin Street #6)
Author: Samantha Young
Genre/Themes: Contemporary romance
Release Date: 2 June 2015

Add on Goodreads
Pre-order: Amazon / B&N / iBooks 






Synopsis

Logan spent two years paying for the mistakes he made. Now, he’s ready to start over. He has a great apartment, a good job, and plenty of women to distract him from his past. And one woman who is driving him to distraction…

Grace escaped her manipulative family by moving to a new city. Her new life, made to suit her own needs, is almost perfect. All she needs to do is find her Mr. Right—or at least figure out a way to ignore her irresistible yet annoying womanizer of a neighbor.

Grace is determined to have nothing to do with Logan until a life-changing surprise slowly begins turning the wild heartbreaker into exactly the kind of strong, stable man she’s been searching for. Only just when she begins to give into his charms, her own messy past threatens to derail everything they’ve worked to build.


*** *** ***

Why am I waiting for this? - I've been following this series and so far they have been hit and miss for me. This is the final book in the series and we met Logan in the previous book. He seems like a great guy and I'd be happy to see how his love stories goes.

New Adult

Release Day Blast for Sweet by Tammara Webber

00:00

This post is part of the Release Day Blast of Sweet by Tammara Webber! Check out the blurb, a short excerpt and a hot teasers below!



Ttile: Sweet (Contours of the Heart #3)
Author: Tammara Webber
Genre: NA Contemporary Romance
Release date: 27 April 2015

Add to Goodreads
Purchase links: Amazon | iBooks | B&N | Kobo |Amazon UK

Blurb


He’s the love of her life, but he doesn’t know it.
She’s his one moment of sacrifice in a lifetime of survival.

He was damaged and wild, but resilient.
She’s always been obedient. Now she’s restless.

Home for the summer between college and med school, Pearl Torres Frank knows two things: Boyce Wynn is the embodiment of everything she should run from, and everything she wants to run to. Rebellious and loud. Unconcerned with society’s opinion of him. Passionate. Strong. Dangerous.

And one more trait he hides from everyone but her:

Sweet.


*** *** ***

Excerpt:

Boyce watched me, a lit cigarette in one hand and a koozied beer in the other. We hadn’t spoken since that kiss, other than his usual juvenile quips during biology—the ones that drove Mel and Mr. Quinn insane and made Landon smirk and shake his head and had me biting the inside of my cheek to suppress my smile.

At first, I’d been confused, then disappointed, and then angry. I’d worked my way to acceptance, like when I’d known I was drowning and there was nothing I could do. He’d merely gone back to being Boyce Wynn, who did what he wanted and who he wanted. And I’d gone back to being Pearl Frank—star student, social royalty, good girl.


But I couldn’t forget that kiss. The fixed glint of his eyes across the fire said that neither could he.

About the Author: 


New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of Easy and Breakable (Contours of the Heart series - NA), as well Between the Lines, Where are You, Good for You and Here without You (Between the Lines series - YA/NA).

I'm a hopeful romantic who adores novels with happy endings, because there are enough sad endings in real life. Before writing full-time, I was an undergraduate academic advisor, economics tutor, planetarium office manager, radiology call center rep, and the palest person to ever work at a tanning salon. I married my high school sweetheart, and I'm Mom to three adult kids and four very immature cats.

Author links:  WebsiteFacebook / Twitter / Intsgram



Favourite Books

Friday Favourites #1: Santino Hassell

00:00

Welcome to Friday Favourites, a new feature on my blog where you have a chance to learn more about my favoruite authors in blitz interview and see what their favourite books are.



We starting off with Santino Hassell, writer of M/M romance and gay fiction, co-author of the popular dystopian M/M series In the Company of Shadows, available for free at 


Friday Favourites


1. Favourite place

My favorite place... This is a tough one. It's really a tie between Rome and Key West which seems really damn random, but I'm basing it on my emotional response to traveling instead of just thinking a place is cool. Rome is steeped in so much history that my inner history teacher goes a little insane. Just being in a place that has so many remnants of the distant past is amazing to me. I know people who live there are totally over it, but I'm the type of person who gets chills from walking through streets that used to be full of chariots and seeing the small Madonna portraits every time I turn onto a new street. 
As for Key West... Well, Key West just feels like home to me. It's where I want to end up. It's such a laid back city that is full of easy going people that you can't help but relax there. It also has a really large queer community. You can't beat that.

2. Favourite food and drink


PASTA. All of the pasta. And wine. I'd do a lot of profane things to get my hands on a good bottle of Bordeaux right now.

3. Favourite music/genre/artist/song

This is tough. My taste in music is pretty eclectic. I love hip hop (especially 90s-early 2000s), but I also regularly listen to classic rock, grunge, dubstep, trip hop, etcetera. If I had to go based on recent listening habits, I'm all about the New York based rapper El-P right now, and his song "Works Every Time" is one of my favorites. I like El-P because he is a sardonic bastard and his rhymes are brilliant. 

4. Favourite movie/TV series

Favorite movie is a tie between The Godfather pt 1 and The Empire Strikes Back. Can you tell I have issues making decisions? Favorite show is a little easier. I'd go with The Walking Dead. The character development over the course of the seasons is unreal. It's more of a show about human nature than zombies.

5. Favourite hobby (besides writing, if you consider writing a hobby)


Besides screenshotting the weird stuff people say to me on Grindr? ;) I'd say reading. Definitely reading.

Favourite books - (Listed in no particular order and a mash of different genres)

A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin. The first book in the A Song of Ice and Fire series. Not the show. If you haven't picked it up and watch the show, give it a shot. It's my favorite fantasy book of all time. 

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. Another fantasy novel, and one that is way different than Game of Thrones. It's told almost bard-style, and explores how legends are born of random events by regular men. Not that there's anything average about the MC. It's not perfect, but it's a brilliant and engaging read. Very unique.

Meatworks by Jordan Castillo Price. A, in my opinion, flawless novel about very flawed people. Gay men who are gritty and real. They reminded me of who I used to be, who I still am sometimes, and a lot of people I know. People who don't often have their stories told.

Night Watch by Sergei Lukyanenko. Spec fic and paranormal. It was rec'd to me by an old friend who said "It's about a guy who is in charge of keeping the balance between the light and dark forces of the supernatural world in Moscow. But he's a real fuck up. He reminds me of you!"

Return on Investment by Aleksandr Voinov. Brilliant gay romance and financial thriller. There needs to be more like it.

*** *** ***
Author Bio and Links

Santino Hassell is a dedicated gamer, a former fanfic writer, an ASoIaF mega nerd, and a Grindr enthusiast. Most of all he is a writer of LGBT fiction 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.

Amazon / Twitter / Facebook / Instagram / Website



Santino's first solo novel was the dystopian romance After Midnight, available at 

His second novel, Sutphin Boulevard, will be published by Dreamspinner Press on July 31, 2015. 

Synopsis

Michael Rodriguez and Nunzio Medici have been friends for two decades. From escaping their dysfunctional families in the working-class neighborhood of South Jamaica, Queens to teaching in one of the city’s most queer friendly schools in Brooklyn, the two men have shared everything. Or so they thought until a sweltering night of dancing leads to an unexpected encounter that forever changes their friendship.

Now, casual touches and lingering looks are packed with sexual tension, and Michael can’t forget the feel of his best friend’s hands on him. Once problems rear up at work and home, Michael finds himself seeking constant escape in the effortless intimacy and mind-blowing sex he has with Nunzio. But things don’t stay easy for long.

When Michael’s world begins to crumble in a sea of tragedy and complications, he knows he has to make a choice: find solace in a path of self-destruction or accept the love of the man who has been by his side for twenty years.

*** *** ***
Look forward to Ais, co-author of ICoS series, sharing her favourites next week in Friday Favourites.

Reviews

Review: Busted by Shiloh Walker

00:00

Title: Busted (Barnes Brothers #3)
Author: Shiloh Walker
Date of publication: 5 May 2015
Genre: Romance

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

My rating: 4 stars

Synopsis

Like his brothers Zach and Zane, Trey Barnes thought he had found the love of his life. But fate had other plans. A widower who’s had to raise his five-year-old son on his own, Trey has not allowed himself to be with another woman. Until he meets Ressa Bliss at—of all places—a children’s library program. The beautiful librarian is wonderful with his son, Clay, but every time Trey even considers asking her out, he is tortured by guilt.

Fate is indeed fickle. When the two meet again at a conference, this time the attraction is too powerful to resist. But is their connection and passion strong enough to survive Trey’s deep inner torment?

Review

After reading and enjoying Zane's story in Razed (my review), I was very much intrigued by Trey. He is a writer, single dad to a young son - practically a catnip for me in romance. 

I expected a somewhat lighter and more easy going read but was pleasantly surprised by the depth of the story. The slightly darker elements that pop up here and there worked well for and added yet another dimenstion to the romance. 

It's a multicultural romance, the heroine is African-American and the hero is white and I think their enthic differences were handled really well in th story - they didn't overshadow the romance but not swept under the carpet either. 

Trey was a very interesting character and I liked him from the start. I found it easy to relate to him - the sorrow of the loss of his wife, the difficulties of raising his son alone, the slow return to being a popular writer - all were skilfully presented and felt very real. His issues with romance and intimacy were well grounded, though they seemed to disappear overnight when he met Ressa. It was a case of instalust/love and I never really understood what made Ressa so different (at first sight) from all the other women Trey tried to date previously. 

I wasn't so much a fan of Ressa. She was full of life, very strong and independant, just like Trey raising a kid on (her niece) her own. I liked them as a couple and the sex scenes were intense and very, very hot. Yet I found her reasons for not wanting a relationship with Trey too contrived, if not downright silly. Her unwillingness to open up to him, to at least give them a chance to be in a relationship really annoyed me. Her big secret was aslo sort of a letdown. I understand her insecurities and fears, yet she kept pushing Trey away and became annoying.

The whole drama with Tessa's cousin and later with Trey's neighbiur seemed over the top and not really necessary. It added some suspense to the plot but I could have done away without it. 

I loved Travis, Trey's twin and I'm excited about his story. Of the other Barnes brothers Sebastian also made an appearence, short but memorable one. The almost supernatural connection between the two twins was very interesting to read and very much liked its role in the story.

Overall, this was an enjoyable romance with some dark overtones, likable characters and little drama. Fans of the series will definitely fell in love with Trey and Ressa's story.


Purchase links: Amazon | BN | iBooks | Kobo

*** *** ***

My reviews of other books by Shiloh Walker:
You Own Me - 3.5 stars

Jessica Topper

Waiting on Wednesday: Courtship of the Cake by Jessica Topper

21:30

Waiting on Wednesday is a book meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine and it features books that we are eagerly awaiting to be released.

Title: Courtship of the Cake (Much "I Do" about Nothing #2)
Author: Jessica Topper
Genre/Themes: Contemporary romance
Release Date: 2 June 2015

Add on Goodreads
Pre-order: Amazon



Synopsis


“Always a bridesmaid, never a bride” has suited Danica James just fine…until the mysterious man who crashed her sister’s wedding steals her heart, leaves a slice of groom’s cake under her pillow, and then disappears.

Hoping to forget her unforgettable fling, Dani takes a job as a backstage masseuse for a rock music festival, not expecting the tour’s headlining bad boy to make an offer she can’t refuse. Nash Drama needs a fiancĂ©e—and fast…

Mick Spencer is the best wedding cake designer in New Hope and the town’s most eligible bachelor. But despite the bevy of bridesmaids he’s sampled, Mick can’t get the evening he spent with Dani out of his mind.

So when she shows up for a cake tasting at the Night Kitchen—with his former best friend’s ring on her finger—Mick vows to charm the woman of his dreams into choosing a sweet and sinful ever after, with him…

*** *** ***

Why am I waiting for this? - This is the third book of Ms Topper and I have read and enjoyed the previous. Her debut, Louder Than Love (my review) is a great, thpughtful and funny rockstar romance and her first book in this series, Dictatorship of the Dress (my review), was even better - contemporary bittersweet romance with engaging characters. We met the heroine, Danica, in the previous book and even though we really see just tiny glimpeses of her here and there, she seems one of a kind lady and I can't wait to read her story.

College

Review: Shooting for the Stars by Sarina Bowen

00:00

This review counts to the TBR Challenge 2015, hosted by Wendy at the Misadvetures of a Super Librarian. This month's topic is contemporary romance and this winter sports romance fits the bill. 

Title: Shooting for the Stars (Gravity #3)
Author: Sarina Bowen
Genre: Contemporary romance, sports
Release Date: 16 March 2015

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

My rating: 3.5 Stars
Add on Goodreads



Synopsis


For one night she had everything.

Pro snowboarder Stella Lazarus has always loved her brother's best friend. But the one time she tried to show him, she was shot down faster than you can say "competitor disqualified."

Until one blissful night in Tahoe, when Stella finally gets her man.

Or does she? In the morning, Stella and Bear wake up to horrible news. The sort that sends them racing back to Vermont, and straight into the arms of guilt and family obligations.

For all of Bryan “Bear” Barry’s life, three natural laws held true: his best friend Hank was destined for greatness, Hank’s sister Stella was off-limits, and Bear would always manage to negotiate the rocky paths that life threw his way. In the space of two days, that’s all shattered. 

Bear can't believe he slipped up so badly with Stella. Even if his best friend wasn’t lying broken in a hospital bed, it would still be unforgivable. Determined to do better, he devotes himself to his friend's recovery, denying himself the very person he loves. And the very thing he needs.

Review


I love Sarina Bowen's NA college/hockey series, The Ivy Years, and I rather enjoyed the previous book in this adult/winter sport series, Falling from the Sky. 

This one worked even better for me. Little sister and big brother's best friend coupled with friends-to-lovers trope is one I generally enjoy and most sports romances are a hit with me. This is nicely done, low on angst, easy flowing and overall all sweet love story. 

Both Bear and Stella were sports people and I really loved this aspect of the story. Their romance happens at a bad time for both of them - Hank's incident chnages both their perspective on life and it brings them closer together as well as tearing them apart. 

Stella was a great heroine and I'm happy that Ms Bowen created a strong-willed woman determined to make it in the sports world. She had so much going against her, (her brother's success and subsequent incident, her own serious illness as a child, the resistance/lack of support from her family), yet she never gave up and worked hard to follow her dream of free ride snowboarding. 

She was just as stubborn in her affection for Bear. He was also an itneresting character. Coming from the wrogn side of the tracks, always in the orbit of the Lazarus' family but never quite one of them. His life was in a complete trumoil, losing his safe ground and wandering where to go next, yet he stood by Hank and his family. His selflessness and loyalty totally won me over. And it was easy to relate to his sense of loss of direction in life, feeling of inferiority, not deserving someone as strong and determined as Stella. 

There was some going back and forth in their romance, some angst but also really intense feelings and sense of characters belonging together. I really liked the way Hank accepted things, no over-the-top drama, just a normal reaction of being happy because Bear and Stella are happy together. 

The ending was a bit too sweet for me, wrapping things nicely for everyone, more of a fantasy and wishful thinking than reality, but romance is meant to leave you happy and hopeful for the characters and this one did just that.

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

*** *** ***

More of my reviews of Sarina Bowen's books:
Falling from the Sky (Gravity #2) - 3.5 Stars
The Year We Fell Down (Ivy Years #1) - 4.5 stars
The Year We Hid Away ( Ivy Years #2) - 4 stars
The Understatement of the Year (Ivy Years #3) - 4 stars


Meme

Waiting on Wednesday: Heat Exchange by Shannon Stacey

21:30

Waiting on Wednesday is a book meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine and it features books that we are eagerly awaiting to be released.


Title: Heat Exchange (Boston Fire #1) 
Author: Shannon Stacey
Genre/Themes: Contemporary romance, Firefighters
Release Date: 30 June 2015


Add on Goodreads
Pre-order: Amazon / B&N / Kobo / iTunes



Synopsis

Lydia Kincaid's shipping back to Boston, but she's not happy about it. She left to get away from the firefighting community—her father was a firefighter, her brother's a firefighter and, more important, her ex is a firefighter. But family is number one, and her father needs her help running the pub he bought when he retired. Soon, Lydia finds it hard to resist the familiar comfort and routine, and even harder to resist her brother's handsome friend Aidan. 

Aidan Hunt is a firefighter because of the Kincaid family. He's had the hots for Lydia for years, but if ever a woman was off-limits to him, it's her. Aside from being his mentor's daughter, she's his best friend's sister. The ex-wife of a fellow firefighter. But his plan to play it cool until she leaves town again fails, and soon he and Lydia have crossed a line they can't uncross. 

As Aidan and Lydia's flirtation turns into something more serious, Lydia knows she should be planning her escape. Being a firefighter's wife was the hardest thing she's ever done, and she doesn't know if she has the strength to do it again. Aidan can't imagine walking away from Boston Fire—even for Lydia. The job and the brotherhood are his life; but if he wants Lydia in it, he'll have to decide who's first in his heart.

*** *** ***

Why am I waiting for this book? - I quite enjoyed Ms Stacey's Kowaski brothers series - the last one, Falling for Max, was just delicious (my review). Heat Exchange is book 1 in her new series and I haven't really read any firefighters romances so far (I know, it's a shame), so I'm very much looking forward to trying this one. 

M/M romance

Review: Trust the Focus by Megan Erickson

00:00


Title: Trust the Focus (The Focus #1)
Author: Megan Erickson
Date of publication: 17 March 2015
Genre / Themes: Romance / New Adult / MM

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

My rating: 3 Stars




Synopsis


With his college graduation gown expertly pitched into the trash, Justin Akron is ready for the road trip he planned with his best friend Landry— and ready for one last summer of escape from his mother’s controlling grip. Climbing into the Winnebago his father left him, they set out across America in search of the sites his father had captured through the lens of his Nikon.

As an aspiring photographer, Justin can think of no better way to honor his father’s memory than to scatter his ashes at the sites he held sacred. And there’s no one Justin would rather share the experience with more than Landry.

But Justin knows he can’t escape forever. Eventually he’ll have to return home and join his mother’s Senate campaign. Nor can he escape the truth of who he is, and the fact that he’s in love with his out-and-proud travel companion.

Admitting what he wants could hurt his mother’s conservative political career. But with every click of his shutter and every sprinkle of ash, Justin can’t resist Landry’s pull. And when the truth comes into focus, neither is prepared for the secrets the other is hiding.


Review


This is my first book by Megan Erickson and it came highly recommended. It's a nice, bitter-sweet M/M coming-out romance but to be honest I expected more of it.

I liked the writing, the story flew effortlessly and I got deeply involved in the characters' fates. Both Justin and Landry were easy to relate and quite likable. I could picture them in their RV on their journey across the country. 

The story was centered on Justin grieving the loss of his father and at the same time becoming his own person - coming out in all the ways that matter - being open about what he wants to do with his life, who he loves. It was an emotionally intense story of discovery, of finding your place in life and getting there.

There was a lot of back and forth between Justin and Landry but I felt it fitted the story - both heroes were young, dealing with different issues, trying a relationship for the first time. They followed the general pattern every young person goes through in the process of becoming an adult - you trip and fall, but stand up again, you make mistakes but you learn from them, try to make amends and ultimately move forward as a better person (or at least you try to).

This said, there were minor weaknesses in the story which annoyed me. I felt the whole loss and grief element was treated somewhat superficially. Some elements of the romantic relationship didn't work well for me but it's more of a matter of personal preference than a real weakness of the story (Landry making Justin change his appearance to be more flashy, flamboyant really bothered me). 

My biggest disappointment was the way the relationship between Justin and his mom played out in the end. Her change of heart was far too sudden and abrupt. It didn't really fit the story and just made things too perfect to be real.

I've read a couple of NA M/M stories lately and can't avoid the comparisons. This was more on the fluffy, sweet side than a profound, in-depth realistic romance. Despite the issues I had with it, it's an overall fell-good friends-to-lovers story that I can recommend to fans of M/M romance!

Purchase links: Amazon / Barnes and Noble / iTunes / Google Play

Amy Jo Cousins

Waiting on Wednesday: The Girl Next Door by Amy Jo Cousins

21:30

Waiting on Wednesday is a book meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine and it features books that we are eagerly awaiting to be released.

Title: The Girl Next Door (Bend or Break #3)
Author: Amy Jo Cousins 
Genre/Themes: Contemporary romance, Queer
Release Date: 16 June 2015


Add on Goodreads
Pre-order: Amazon / B&N / Kobo / iBooks



Synopsis 

When it comes to love, go big or go home.

Charles “Cash” Carmichael traded his high-rise condo and family-firm career for a job coaching soccer for Chicago’s inner-city kids. He’s adjusting to living on minimum wage when his young cousin, newly out and running away from home, shows up on his less-than-luxurious doorstep.

Angsty teens definitely aren’t Cash’s thing. He needs local backup, and there’s only one name he can think of: Stephany Tyler. Back in the day, the bisexual Steph was the perfect friend with benefits until she fell in love with a woman.

To his relief, his former friend steps up to the plate. Soon, though, Cash finds himself feeling the familiar need to keep her in his bed, and in his life. But Steph, burned by the ex-girlfriend and by the absentee dad she’s been trying to connect with, won’t risk her heart again.

Good thing Cash believes in leaving it all on the field. If he can just convince Steph to get in the game, there’s a chance they can both win.

*** *** ***
Why am I waiting for this? - I loved the first two books in this series which are m/m NA romances. Actually, we meet Cash and Steph and I absolutely lovedthem, him especially. Now, I'm really excited to read their story, already as adults coming together. Another thing I'm very very happy about how inclusive this series is shaping to be - we have straight, gay, bi characters and their stories come to show only one things - Love is Love. 

Jill Shalvis

Release Day Spotlight for Still the One by Jill Shalvis

00:00




Title: Still the One (Animal Magnetism #6)
Author: Jill Shalvis
Date of publication: 7 April 2015
Genre / Themes: Romance / Small town / Animals

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

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




About the book


Darcy Stone is game for anything—except sexy Navy vet and physical therapist AJ Colten, the guy who’d rejected her when she’d needed him most. Now the shoe is on the other foot and he needs her to play nice and help him secure grants for his patients. Unfortunately Darcy can’t refuse. She needs the money to fund her passion project: rescuing S&R dogs and placing them with emotionally wounded soldiers.
AJ admits it—Darcy is irresistible. But he’s already been battle-scarred by a strong-willed, vivacious, adventurous woman like Darcy, and he’s not making the same mistake twice—until he and Darcy are forced to fake a relationship. Growing closer than they’d ever imagined possible, Darcy and AJ have to ask themselves: how much between them is pretend? What’s the real thing? And where does it go from here?

About the author

Jill Shalvis is a New York Times and USA Today bestseller. She has written more than four dozen romance novels and lives in Nevada with her family.

Giveaway


a Rafflecopter giveaway

March

Recommended Reads: March 2015

04:41

I'm late posting my recommended reads from March but real life got in the way and my blogging schedule got mixed up. 

March was a busy month for me book-wise. I read some books, some fanfiction (Sterek) and some free short stories (companion pieces to Nalini Singh's Psy-Changeling series). Without further ado, here are my March favourites - Nothing Like Paris by Amy Jo Cousins and Champion by Marie Lu.

Recommended Reads


Genre/Themes: Contemporary romance, M/M, New Adult
Read my review
Add on Goodreads
Purchase links: Amazon / B&N / Kobo / iBooks / Samhain

I very much enjoyed the first book in this series (Off Campus) but Jack was a real jerk there and I wasn't sure how/if Ms Cousins will manage to redeem him. Boy, did she do it. I fell in love both with Jack and Miguel and their second-chance, reconciliation, coming-out love story. 


Genre/Themes: Dystopia, Young/New Adult
Read my review
Add on Goodreads
Purchase links: Barnes & Noble | Amazon

I read the first two books in this series over right after their release and was excited about the final one but somehow my reading drifted more towards romance and this book got left behind. Going back to the story of June and Day was a real pleasure. Reading a well-written dystopian story with good worldbuirlding and great characters (YA, NA or Adult) still can make me very happy. 
I felt this book was the perfect finale to the series. 

*** *** ***
So, what is your favourite book from March? Did you blog about it or review it somewhere? Leave me a comment and I'll stop by and check it out.

Jill Shalvis

Review: Still the One by Jill Shalvis

04:24

Title: Still the One (Animal Magnetism #6)
Author: Jill Shalvis
Date of publication: 7 April 2015
Genre / Themes: Romance / Small town / Animals

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

My rating: 3 Stars




Synopsis

Darcy Stone is game for anything — except sexy Navy veteran and physical therapist A.J. Colten, the guy who'd rejected her when she'd needed him most. Now the shoe is on the other foot and he needs her to play nice and help him secure grants for his patients. Unfortunately, Darcy can't refuse. She needs the money to fund her passion project: rescuing S&R dogs and placing them with emotionally wounded soldiers.

A.J. admits it — Darcy is irresistible. But he's already been battle-scarred by a strong-willed, vivacious, adventurous woman like Darcy, and he's not making the same mistake twice—until he and Darcy are forced to fake a relationship. Growing closer than they'd ever imagined possible, Darcy and AJ have to ask themselves: how much between them is pretend? What's the real thing? And where does it go from here?

Review

I've said it before that Jill Shalvis' book are my comfort reads, sometimes they work better, sometimes - worse but I love the familiar writing style, the warmth  and security of the relationships she creates.

The Animal Attraction series are one of my favourite of hers and the blurb for this latest installment really drew me in. I had very high expectations of this story and loved some bits of it but there are a few things that threw me off and it ended a nice, but a bit annoying 3-star read for me.

I admire strong characters, overcoming physical and emotional trauma and naturally, I loved Darcy. Her fears felt real, her courage and openness were much appreciated. Her attraction to AJ and her sense of rejection were well presented and this made them believable. She was a real human being - a little reckless, a lot of spunky and sassy, yet vulnerable, tender, caring. She knew had made mistakes and will probably make more in the future, she had issues with her body image after her accident. 

AJ, on the other hand, came off a bit as super human - all cool, calm and collected, a responsible adult who had his life figured out. At least that's how Darcy saw him and that's how he acted most of the story. His reluctance to risk his heart with Darcy did piss me off. I wanted him to man up and go for what he wanted, consequences be damned. 

There were some heartbreaking descriptions of Darcy's daily physical struggles and her difficult road to recovery but I was disappointed how it all was glossed over in the love scenes. There was not a hint of physical discomfort, pain, strain, or anything like that, while we kept seeing this things happening  in her daily activities all the time.

I liked the glimpses of Dacry's brother and sister, AJ's dad, Xander and Tyler plotlines, and the "other" woman from the gym. They did create the warm small-town, close-knit family and friends atmosphere I enjoy in Ms Shalvis' novels. What I didn't like were Trent and his wife - they seemed really cheesy to me and out of place in the story.

I also got annoyed with the constant miscommunication between Darcy and AJ, and the eavesdropping scene is a trope in romance I absolutely hate. Acting out and not really discussing things happened one too many times and felt forced. 

On the good side, I loved the animal theme here. I'm not a big fan of animals in general, to be honest, I'm scared of them and prefer watching from afar rather than interacting directly. Still, I love how Ms Shalvis' pours her own love of animals in her stories. It's touching and never overly sentimental.

Fans of Jill Shalvis will enjoy this novel, though it's not my favourite in the series. 

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

Flickr Images