Review: The Fifteenth Minute by Sarina Bowen


Title: The Fifteenth Minute (The Ivy Years #4)
Author: Sarina Bowen
Genre: NA Romance, College
Release Date: 13 Oct 2015
Author's links:
Website / Facebook / Twitter / Goodreads
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My rating: 3 Stars


Freshman Lianne Challice is known to millions of fans as Princess Vindi. But sometimes a silver screen sorceress just wants to hang up her wand, tell her manager to shove it, and become a normal college student. Too bad that’s harder than it looks.

She’s never lived a normal life. She hasn’t been to school since kindergarten. And getting close to anyone is just too risky — the last boy she kissed sold the story to a British tabloid.

But she can’t resist trying to get close to Daniel "DJ" Trevi, the hot, broody guy who spins tunes for hockey games in the arena. There's something haunting his dark eyes and she needs to know more.

DJ's genius is for expressing the mood of the crowd with a ten second song snippet. With just a click and a fade, he can spread hope, pathos or elation among six thousand screaming fans.

Too bad his college career is about to experience the same quick fade-out as one of his songs. He can't get close to Lianne, and he can't tell her why. And the fact that she seems to like him at all? Incredible.


The Ivy Years is one of my favourite NA romance series and what I like the most about it is that Ms Bowen doesn't shy away from heavier/controversial topics in her stories. Mostly she manages to incorporate them skillfully in the romance but this time things did not quite work out for me.

The story explores a difficult and  very sensitive topic - the impact of false accusations of rape on the hero (DJ) and the way the college dealt with it or rather failed to deal with it in a fair and non-judgemental way. 

Actually, I found this aspect of the story to be well presented, with sympathy for both parties involved (though we see the girl only briefly towards the end). I liked how Ms Bowen explored the effects of such accusations to DJ and his family. His fears for the future, his self-doubt and hesitancy to get involved with other women, to allow himself to have feelings and dreams and aspiration made me feel deeply sympathetic to him and the situation he found himself in. 

In a way a understood DJ as a character, I understood where he stood and what he wanted to do. His development through the story felt natural to me and I was really happy about things working out for him. 

On the other hand, I found it more difficult to connect with Lianne. She is a film-star, but she is actually shy and insecure, nerdy and inexperienced. This discrepancy in her character felt forced and artificial most of the time. In general, I like nerdy, smart heroines who are often underestimated and under-appreciated because they are good-looking too but I couldn't quite connect with Lianne.

It's their romance that I didn't enjoy very much in the story. It felt weak and not particularly memorising. There was an attraction and some chemistry but they were not really suited for one another. The timing was particularly bad for him.

That said, I applaud the bravery of Ms Bowen in exploring topics that are usually avoided in NA romance - disability, serious social, family and financial difficulties, STDs, slut-shaming, rape accusations). Her very open and honest treatment of these issues makes her stories real and engaging. Her writing is powerful and polished and it draws you quickly into the fates of the characters she creates.

Overall, this is a nice story and despite my issues with it, I think fans of Ms Bowen and the series will enjoy it. 

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

My reviews of the previous books in the series:


Waiting on Wednesday: Lead Me Into Darkness anthology of Halloween Romance


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.

Lead Me Not into Darkness in an anthology of five Halloween romances by some of my favourite authors. It releases tomorrow and it will be available for free.

Title:  Lead Me Into Darkness: 
Five Halloween Tales of Paranormal Romance
Author: Anthology
Release date: 28 Oct 2015
Genre: Paranormal romance, LGBT

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All-Hallows-Eve brings out the wicked in even the most reserved among us… and the lure of romance is the keenest incentive to follow a beloved into the unknown. Lead Me Into Darkness is a compilation of original tales of queer paranormal romance by five of the hottest authors of contemporary romance.

Take You Farther by Santino Hassell

Brian Watts' boyfriend is a newly turned vampire, and he's shouldering the blame. Watts would do anything--including offering up a vein, stripping for cash, and demanding answers from other creatures of the night--to redeem himself and save the man he loves.

Memory Hill by J.C. Lillis

Billy Hartigan's been dead for ten years, and it's really pissing him off. Stuck in Memory Hill Cemetery due to "unfinished business," he fritters away the long days playing monster movies in his head, reliving the glory days of his indie band, and mourning his missed chance at love with his best friend. Then one Halloween he gets a visit from troubled teen geek Todd Racklin, the last living fan of Billy's old band. Todd needs some beyond-the-grave help from his idol--and his visits might hold the key to Billy's release from Memory Hill.

Grave Circumstances by J.R. Gray
Secret agendas collide with guns, ghosts and confusing erections, on a tour through a haunted graveyard. Jesse's been carrying a secret and needs a night alone with George. But George has his own agenda, leading Jesse into darkness, the fright of his life, and a blinding release he won't soon forget.

Boyfriends in the Boneyard by Kris Ripper

In a perfect world, Truman Jennings would be spending Halloween with both his husband and his boyfriend; alas, in this one he's on a ghost tour with his husband, and his boyfriend is probably watching scary movies and eating pizza rolls.

The cemetery is appropriately creepy, their tour guide weaves a good yarn, and Hugh's in a very odd (but utterly delightful) mood. When Hugh leads him away from the group Truman doesn't know what to think, but considering his husband's filthy, kinky mind, he's more than willing to find out.

As usual, Hugh has both tricks and treats up his sleeve.

Mayfair by Roan Parrish

Jocelyn has been secretly in love with her best friend Bethany for a year. And it's hell. But there are other things—dark, creeping, illusory things—that are tormenting Jocelyn even more. They've been appearing more and more lately and Jocelyn is starting to doubt her sanity. But a Devil's Night ritual in a Detroit cemetery may reveal more than she ever imagined…

About the Authors

J.R. Gray

When not staying up all night writing, J.R Gray can be found basking in the warm glow of the Miami sun, or at the gym where it's half assumed Gray is a permanent resident. A dominant, pilot, and sword fighting enthusiast, Gray finds it hard to be in the passenger seat of any car. Gray frequently interrupts real life, including normal sleep patterns, to jot down nonsense. The bane of Gray's existence are commas, and even though it's been fully acknowledged they are necessary, they continue to baffle and bewilder. 

If Gray wasn't writing…well, that's not possible. The buildup of untold stories would haunt Gray into an early grave or possibly a mental institution where the tales would end up on the walls in crayon and finger paint. 

J.R. Gray is genderqueer and prefers he/him pronouns. 

Santino Hassell

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 LGBTQ 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. 

Sign up for Santino’s newsletter! 

J.C. loves koi ponds, abandoned amusement parks, and peanut butter & banana sandwiches. She hates paper cuts, cabbage, and writing bios. She lives in Baltimore and is the author of two YA novels. 

Roan Parrish

Roan Parrish grew up in Michigan and lives in Philadelphia, but is always a few minutes away from deciding to move. A former academic, she’s used to writing things that no one reads. She still loves to geek out about books, movies, TV, and music—now, though, she’s excited to be writing the kind of romantic, angsty stories that she loves to escape into. 

When not writing, she can usually be found cutting her friends’ hair, wandering through whatever city she’s in while listening to torch songs and melodic death metal, or cooking overly elaborate meals. One time she may or may not have baked a six-layer chocolate cake and then thrown it out the window in a fit of pique. She loves bonfires, winter beaches, and minor chord harmonies. 

Sign up for Roan's newsletter to get periodic announcements about new releases, giveaways, and, you know, general super secret stuff:

Come hang out with Roan and make social media more bearable! 

Kris Ripper

Kris Ripper lives in the great state of California and hails from the San Francisco Bay Area. Kris shares a converted garage with a toddler, can do two pull-ups in a row, and can write backwards. (No, really.) Kris is genderqueer and prefers the z-based pronouns because they’re freaking sweet. Ze has been writing fiction since ze learned how to write, and boring zir stuffed animals with stories long before that. 

Why am I waiting for this? - Because paranormal/horror queer romance is not something I've read much of and I'm intrigued. And I mentioned it's free, didn't I :)


Queer Romance Month: Interview with Jenn Burke


I'm a big fan and supporter of Queer Romance Month - online festival (I read somewhere Santino Hassell describing it in this way and I loved it so much, so I just stole the phrase for myself) going on through the month of October celebrating queer romance with essays, original flash-fiction and art, personal stories, all of which lead to lively discussions on various topics.

This mini-interview with one of our contributors is brought to you in support of Queer Romance Month.

Jenn Burke

1. A queer romance you'd recommend to a newcomer
- Life Lessons by Kaje Harper. The entire four-book series is amazing.

2. Recommend a book you love, but feel is under appreciated
- Nights Like These by Chris Scully. It features an older protagonist struggling with starting over in the crapy economy—and it starts in a Tim Hortons, so bonus points for that.

3. What do you think is the future of queer romance?
- With the new country-wide marriage equality ruling in the States, I think wider acceptance is the only way to go. Like people wiser and better-spoken than I have said, diversity is not a fad. 

4. Tell us about your book(s)
I’m the co-author of the Chaos Station series, along with Kelly Jensen. The books are male/male space opera romance and have been called “Firefly-esque” by some reviewers. The series follows Zander and Felix, former best friends and lovers who were separated by nine years of galactic war. Felix has been changed by his time as a POW and Zander’s been changed by military experimentation, and neither of them know if they’ll be able to recover what they had once had together.

5. Why is queer romance important to you?
Because I want everyone to have a love story. When my kids are older, I want them to be able to read about whatever kind of love they have in their lives, whether it’s heterosexual or LGBTQIA, and know that all love is wonderful and beautiful.

Jenn’s contribution to Queer Romance Month – “The Parental Reading of the Books” - will be published on 23rd October.

I’m kind of proud of the fact that I’ve introduced a good chunk of my family to a new genre and (maybe) a new way of thinking.
--Jenn Burke

About Jenn

Jenn’s always been drawn to weird and wonderful stories, particularly those juxtaposed with our normal, boring world. Her love of the written word prompted her to get a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from the University of Ottawa, and she’s spent the years since working in corporate and web communications—and dreaming up weird and wonderful stories of her own. A self-confessed geek, Jenn loves spending time in the worlds of video games, surfing her favorite websites, reading all the romance novels she can get her hands on, and accumulating an impressive collection of nerdy t-shirts. She currently lives outside of Ottawa, Ontario, with her husband, two kids, and her writing helper, Alenko the husky.

About Skip Trace

Title: Skip Trace (Chaos Station #3)
Author: Jenn Burke and Kelly Jensen
Genre/Themes: MM romance, science fiction
Release Date: 5 Oct 2015
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Purchase links: Amazon | Amazon UK | B&N | Kobo | iBooks | Carina Press


Zander Anatolius has been revived from the fatal effects of the super-soldier program, but now he has to face his estranged family and tell a story few would believe. With his lover and the crew of the Chaos at his side, Zander returns home to a media frenzy, threats from the military and pressure to join the family business.

Felix Ingesson still struggles with the horror of believing Zander dead. And no matter how strong their emotional connection is, Felix feels out of place in the glittery world of Zander's rich family. His lover would be better off without a broken, low-class ship's engineer holding him back.

When the crew receives word that another of Zander's former teammates needs rescue, Felix travels with the Chaos…setting Zander free. But when Zander is arrested for treason, the men realize they need each other as much as ever—not only to survive, but to make their lives worth living.


You can also listen to an excerpt from Inversion Point (Chaos Station #4) which is coming out in January 2016 read by Jenn Burke

Contemporary Romance

Review: Rock Redemption by Nalini Singh


Title: Rock Redemption (Rock Kiss #3)
Author: Nalini Singh
Date of publication: 6 Oct 2015
Genre: Romance, Musicians

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

My rating: 3 Stars


Kit Devigny could have loved rock guitarist Noah St. John. Their friendship burned with the promise of intense passion and searing tenderness…until the night Noah deliberately shattered her heart.

Noah knows he destroyed something precious the night he chose to betray Kit, but he’d rather she hate him than learn his darkest secret. All he has left is his music. It’s his saving grace, but it doesn’t silence the voices that keep him up at night. Chasing oblivion through endless one-night-stands, he earns a few hours’ sleep and his bad boy reputation.

When a media error sees Noah and Kit dubbed the new “it” couple, Kit discovers her chance at the role of a lifetime hinges on riding the media wave. Wanting—needing—to give Kit this, even if he can’t give her everything, Noah agrees to play the adoring boyfriend. Only the illusion is suddenly too real, too painful, too beautiful…and it may be too late for the redemption of Noah St. John.


I love Nalini Signh's PNR series Psy-changeling - the world building and the plotlines are so complex and rich and imaginative and the romance always swept me off my fit.

The Rock Kiss series is a hit or miss for me - I enjoyed David and Thea's novella, Rock Courtship and Rock Hard (Gabriel and Charlotte's story) is my favourite in the series so far. This book, very much like the first, didn't work well for me.

It's a friends-to-lovers story, with a bit of second chance romance - two tropes I quite enjoy reading. It's a slow burn, far too slow with a lot of angst and despite the HEA, I was left disappointed with a number of things.

Kit was nice but not great. I understood where she was coming from and I could accept her infatuation/love for Noah despite all the things he did to hurt her. She came off as too good to be true at times but I liked her overall until a specific moment towards the end when she made what a consider an irresponsible and  plain wrong decision.

Noah was a very interesting character - bad boy rocker, a player on the outside but a deeply scarred person, bitter and disappointed and scared on the inside. He tried to keep Kit at the distance, too ashamed of his past, unable to accept her love. His reaction to what had happened to him was heart-breaking and the way he went about his life because of that was not healthy or healing.

I felt the story showed that it was Kit who saved him, that (true) love had this all-healing superpower and the message that you only need love to make things right is not one I'm really comfotable with. What went like a very much realistic, more or less plausible story suddenly lost all conenction with reality for me. It became of fairytale of the power of love which I don't mind on principle, I enjoy reading it in fact. It's just that it didn't fit with the trauma Noah had suffered. The problems he's been struggling with for decades don't just disappear on their own because a nice woman has fallen in love with him.

I can see how their connection can help them both be happier, content but to refuse and totally disregard any professional help is not OK for me. I was a rather unpleasantly by this development of the story, furthermore, Ms Singh had already dealt with similar issues of past hurt/trauma in a much convincing way in the previous book in the series, Rock Hard.

It may appear that I'm fixating on just one aspect of the story but it really bothered me and it's the main reason why I didn't end up liking this story very much.

There was moments of the magically beautiful writing I've come to expect from Ms Singh and Noah could be great at times but it wasn't enough to make me like this story more than OK. 

Purchase links: Amazon / B&N / Kobo / iTunes / ARe

My reviews of the rest of the Rock Kiss series: 

Amy Jo Cousins

Waiting on Wednesday: Real World by Amy Jo Cousins


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: Real World (Bend or Break #5)
Author: Amy Jo Cousins
Genre/Themes: M/M romance
Release Date: 17 Nov 2015
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Pre-order links: AmazonB&N / iBooks / Samhain


When talking fails, it’s time to break out the big guns.

Give years ago, Tom Worthington busted his ass to overcome the fear and paranoia that led him to withdraw from the world and nearly lose his boyfriend. He never thought he’d find himself right back there, shutting Reese out, keeping secrets again.

Reese Anders is ready to try anything to get Tom to talk: if he can’t seduce his boyfriend with food, he’ll get Tom to open up in bed. But even Tom’s confession that his dad is getting out of prison soon doesn’t clear the air between them. And as the holidays approach, intensive mentoring from a new British boss creates more distractions, until Reese is keeping secrets of his own.

At a company Christmas party, it only takes Tom one look at Reese’s new boss to figure out how much danger their relationship is in. But he’s not about to let the connection that started all those years ago at Carlisle come to an end. It’s time to deal with their problems like adults. Face to face. Or back to front. Starting in the bedroom.

*** *** ***

Why am I waiting for this? - It's pretty simple, the Off Campus series is my favourite queer (diverse) NA romance series and this book goes back the first couple, Tom and Reese whom I love so very much. We get to see them as grown ups in an established relationship dealing with ossies any long-term couple faces, yet which are rarelly explored in romantic fiction.

Historical Romance

Review: The Enlightenment series by Joanna Chambers


I won copies of this series back in spring and have been meaning to read it even before that but somehow I never came around to doing it. Now that I've read that I can't believe I waited so long to do it. What was I thinking?! In short, I absolutely LOVED this series. I'm doing a joint review since the story covers the life and love of the same couple - Lord Murdo Balfour and Mr. David Lauriston.

Title: Provoked (Enlightenment #1)
Author: Joanna Chambers 
Genre: Historical, MM romance
Release Date: 23 July 2013

Author's links:
Website / Twitter / Facebook / Goodreads
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My rating: 4.5 Stars


When a man loses his heart, he has no choice but to follow…

Lowborn David Lauriston lacks the family connections needed to rise in Edinburgh’s privileged legal world. Worse, his latest case—defending weavers accused of treason—has brought him under suspicion of harbouring radical sympathies. 

Troubled by his sexuality, tormented by memories of a man he once platonically loved, David lives a largely celibate life—until a rare sexual encounter with a compelling stranger turns his world on its head. 

Cynical and worldly, Lord Murdo Balfour is more at home in hedonistic London than dingy, repressed Edinburgh. Unlike David, he intends to eventually marry while continuing to enjoy the company of men whenever he pleases. Yet sex with David is different. It’s personal, intimate, and instead of extinguishing his desire, it only leaves him hungry for more. 

As David’s search for the man who betrayed the weavers deepens, he begins to suspect that his mysterious lover has more sinister reasons for his presence in Edinburgh. The truth could leave his heart broken…and more necks stretching on the gallows.


This is a fabulous historical romance series which I enjoyed a lot. Book 1 starts dramatically with an execution followed by a hot sex-in-a-back-alley scene and it looks liked a roller coaster from there. Things do slow down after that and I liked the depth and breath of the story Ms Chambers created.

Told exclusively from David's POV this series got completely invested in his life from the start. I understood his social and sexual anxieties, his fears and dreams and hopes against hope. I grew to care and love him despite not always agreeing with his thoughts and actions. I found his inner turmoil over his sexuality believable. His journey through he story was an amazing one - slow, with twists and turns, but unflinching and honest like himself. David was a person of principles and a strict moral code which often made him seem too rigid and unbending in the eyes of Murdo who had an exactly opposite views on life. 

Murdo was presented as tradionally handsome, very manly, very there, his presence powerful and mesemrizing. I understand his appeal yet I remain a Davy girl till the very end of the series. He did change as the story progressed but i felt there was less development with him. 

The romance barely started here, it was more of a random encounter which had surprising effects on both David and Murdo and their (misguided) attmepts to deal with it. The attraction and chemistry is there but the build up of their relationship is slow, Murdo and David do have much page time together romantically in this book but it felt natural and real given the times and the personal circumstances of the characters.

I liked the simple and elegant writing of Ms Chambers and the way she gave her story a rich and detailed historical atmosphere. The language is evocative and powerfully used to give the readera a strong sense of being there in the city, in the library where David worked, in Murdo's mansion, on the streets in Edinburgh.

There are strong social and political elements in the story which, I have to say, sometiems felt force and not fully intrinsic to the characters. Still, I very much enjoyed the gradual change of David's view of society, politics, religion, personal happiness.

Ms Chambers also included some great secondary characters (we see more of them in the next books too) adding to the richness of the story. The story continues in the next book but there is no cliffhanger ending to to this one. On the contrary, it's a tender, heart-felt ending which made me very happy.

Purchase links: Samhain /Amazon US /Amazon UK  /B&N

Title: Beguiled (Enlightenment #2)
Author: Joanna Chambers 
Genre: Historical, MM romance
Release Date: 24 Dec 2013

Author's links:
Website / Twitter / Facebook Goodreads
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My rating: 5 Stars


"A fleeting pleasure is the sweetest seduction..."

David Lauriston couldn't be less interested in King George IV's first visit to Edinburgh. But with Faculty of Advocates members required to put on a minimal show of patriotism, David makes an appointment with his tailor for a new set of clothes-only to run into a man he hasn't seen for two long years.

Lord Murdo Balfour.
Much has changed since their bitter parting, except their stormy attraction. And when Murdo suggests they enjoy each other's company during his stay, David finds himself agreeing. After all, it's only a temporary tryst.

Amidst the pomp and ceremony of the King's visit, Murdo's seduction is more powerful than David ever imagined possible. But when other figures from David's past show up, he is drawn into a chain of events beyond his control. Where his determination to help a friend will break his body, threaten his career, and put at risk the fragile tenderness he's found in Murdo's arms.


The story in this book continues two years after David and Murdo parted in the end of the first book. There is some more action and plot dynamics in this instalment and David and Murdo get to spend more time together which I thoroughly enjoyed. 

We still get David's POV but we do get to know Murdo better as well through the increasing intimacy they share. They are still very much unlike though more and more common ground grows between them. At the background of some political intrigues, family troubles, David and Murdo explore their connection while keeping one too many secrets, one too many parts of themselves hidden. For David this is because he sees the affair as one-time indulgence on his part and for Murdo, well let's say that his reasons are not reveilled until the next book. 

Euan and Elizabeth also take more prominent place and I enjoyed it, though there were some elements (Euan's feminist rant) felt a bit forced. Overall I found the whole social and political thread running through the series to be an important element in the character development, making them all real people fighting their own battles.

What I love the most in this book (and in the next) is the dynamics between David and Murdo. The slowing growing intimacy between them, the way to open bit by bit to each other, even their fights, they way they try to rationalise what's happening between them is an exquisite pleasure to read. 

The writing is as powerful and elegant as in the first book and both the romance and the intrigue are just getting stronger. This time the ending leaves us anxious for the next story and it's a good thing I already had the next book at hand and started reading it immediately after finishing this one.

Purchase links: Samhain / Amazon US / Amazon UK / B&N

Title: Enlightened (Enlightenment #2)
Author: Joanna Chambers 
Genre: Historical, MM romance
Release Date: 6 May 2014

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

My rating: 5 Stars


Five months ago, David Lauriston was badly hurt helping his friend Elizabeth escape her violent husband. Since then, David has been living with his lover, Lord Murdo Balfour, while he recuperates.

Despite the pain of his injuries, David’s time with Murdo has been the happiest of his life. The only things that trouble him are Murdo’s occasional bouts of preoccupation, and the fact that one day soon, David will have to return to his legal practice in Edinburgh.

That day comes too soon when David’s friend and mentor takes to his deathbed, and David finds himself agreeing to take on a private mission in London. Murdo is at his side in the journey, but a shocking revelation by Murdo’s ruthless father leaves David questioning everything they’ve shared.

As tensions mount and the stakes grow higher, David and Murdo are forced to ask themselves how far they’re prepared to go—and how much they’re prepared to give up— to stay together. And whether there’s any chance of lasting happiness for men like them.


What a conclusion to a wonderful series! It was just so good!

Everything finally fell into place. There is a lot of happening in this book - for Murdo and David, for Euan and Elizabeth, for most of the other characters. There are also some plot twists that kept me on the edge. 

I love the way Murdo and David come together in the end in a way that felt right for them and authentic to their characters the way they were developed throughout the series.

There were again minor moments when I felt the narration too preachy (there seems to be one such moment for me in every book in the series) The love advice David got from Elizabeth's father was very much something he needed yet the way it was presented didn't feel fully natural to the story.

There is some melodrama, some going back and forth, a challenge to a duel and aristocratic fall from grace and I enjoyed it all. It brought to mind traditional historical romance settings and tropes, yet it felt fresh and fun. Murdo's treatment of David as a damsel in disress when he only meant to express his love through caring for him (I can really relate to this because it's taking care of people is a big part of how I love) and David's indignant resistance to being seen and treated like a woman. It was thought-provoking and insightful. 

David and Murdo really try to make their relationship work in the only possible way for them. The ending was beautiful and the epilogue left in a happy place. 

I can't recommend this series enough! If you enjoy historical romances and you haven't read these books yet, I have only two words for you - READ IT!

Purchase links: Samhain / Amazon US / Amazon UK /B&N

Blog Tour

Blog Tour for Everything I Left Unsaid by M. O'Keefe


Title: Everythign I Left Unsaid (Everything I Left Unsaid #1)
Author: M. O'Keefe
Date of publication: 13 Oct 2015
Genre/themes: Erotic Romance, Abuse
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Purchase links: Amazon / B&N / iBooks / Kobo 


Fans of Jodi Ellen Malpas, K. Bromberg, and Joanna Wylde will be unable to resist this sexy, deeply intimate tale of a woman running from her past, and the darkly mysterious man who sets her free. 

I didn’t think answering someone else’s cellphone would change my life. But the stranger with the low, deep voice on the other end of the line tempted me, awakened my body, set me on fire. He was looking for someone else. Instead he found me. 

And I found a hot, secret world where I felt alive for the first time. 

His name was Dylan, and, strangely, he made me feel safe. Desired. Compelled. Every dark thing he asked me to do, I did. Without question. I longed to meet him, but we were both keeping secrets. And mine were dangerous. If I took the first step, if I got closer to Dylan—emotionally, physically—then I wouldn’t be hiding anymore. I would be exposed, with nothing left to surrender but the truth. And my truth could hurt us both.


“When’s the last time you said no to someone?” he asked. 

“Why does it matter?” 

“I have a sense, Layla, that you give away your yeses without thinking.” 

Oh, he was right. So damn right. 

“And you want my no’s?” 

“I want something you don’t give away.” 

My knees buckled and I leaned back against the wood-paneled wall, feeling light-headed. How . . . how did we get here? What has happened to me? 

“Tell me no, Layla,” he murmured. 

No was dangerous in my old life. A red flag in front of a murderous bull. 

I wasn’t brave enough. 

“No.” It was barely a whisper. A breath. A rebellion that screamed through me. It was like Les Misérables in my chest cavity. 

“Do you remember my name?” 

Inherently, somehow I knew what he was asking. Say my name. 

“No, Dylan.” 

The sound he made—half sigh, half groan—was easily the most erotic sound I’d ever heard, and suddenly there was no more wondering, no more innuendo. He wasn’t asking what I was wearing, but the effect was the same. The intent was the same. 

This is . . . oh my God, this is phone sex. I’m having phone sex with a stranger in a shitty trailer in the middle of nowhere!

*** *** ***

Author Bio and Links

Molly O'Keefe has always known she wanted to be a writer (except when she wanted to be a florist or a chef and the brief period of time when she considered being a cowgirl). And once she got her hands on some romances, she knew exactly what she wanted to write.

She published her first Harlequin romance at age 25 and hasn't looked back. She loves exploring every character's road towards happily ever after.

Originally from a small town outside of Chicago, she went to university in St. Louis where she met and fell in love with the editor of her school newspaper. They followed each other around the world for several years and finally got married and settled down in Toronto, Ontario. They welcomed their son into their family in 2006, and their daughter in 2008. When she's not at the park or cleaning up the toy room, Molly is working hard on her next novel, trying to exercise, stalking Tina Fey on the internet and dreaming of the day she can finish a cup of coffee without interruption.

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M/M romance

Waiting on Wednesday: Stygian by Santino Hassell


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: Stygian
Author: Santino Hassell
Genre/Themes: MM romance, PNR, musicians
Release Date: 26 Oct 2015
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Pre-order links: Dreamspinner Press / Amazon


Jeremy has been isolated and adrift since the death of his brother. Most people just see him as the skinny emo kid who wears eyeliner and plays drums. No one gets him. Nobody tries. He thought the indie rock band Stygian would become his anchor, but—lost in their own problems—they’re far from the family he sought.

Still, hoping to get close to Kennedy, the band's enigmatic guitarist, he follows Stygian to northern Louisiana for a summer retreat. They had planned to spend six weeks focusing on new music but things go awry as soon as they arrive at the long-deserted Caroway mansion. Tempers flare, sexual tension boils over into frustration, and Jeremy turns away from the band to find a friend in his eerily beautiful landlord Hunter Caroway.

Kennedy suspects there’s something off about the creepy mansion and its mysterious owners, but Jeremy thinks he's finally found somewhere he fits. It isn’t until Kennedy forces the Caroway’s secrets into the light that Jeremy realizes belonging sometimes comes with a price.

*** *** *** 

Why am I waiting for this? - I am not a big reader of horror/darker stories but I love Mr. Hassell's writing, both his contemporary series, Five Boroughs, and his free dystopian epic assassins saga, co-written with Ais, In the Company of Shadows. I'm intrigued by the blurb and curious about the story but it was the cover in the end which completely won me over. It's beautiful, isn't it?


Review: Badger by C. M. McKenna


Title: Badger
Author: C. M. McKenna
Genre: Dark, erotic, fiction
Release Date: 31 Aug 2015

Author's links:
Website / Twitter / Tumblr / Goodreads
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My rating: 5 Stars


Nearly twelve months sober, Adrian Birch feels like a nobody. But when her wrist is broken in a hit-and-run accident, she’s avenged by the Badger, a secretive street vigilante. Instantly obsessed, Adrian takes to staging suicide and constructing chance meetings to get his attention. Their resulting affair is harsh and needy, wrought with McKenna’s signature dark eroticism—until the connection gets out of hand and ignites the violent passions of the city.

Hailed for her “evocative,” “intense,” “deftly drawn,” and “engrossing” stories by reviewers at Publishers Weekly, USA Today, and Jezebel, McKenna now establishes herself as a rising star in neo-noir. Badgerchallenges the reader to imagine how an impulsive young man is killed, offering only the perspective of the fascinating and unreliable Adrian Birch.
This is the first book by cara McKenan under her new pen name and it's very different and at the same time still similar to her previous erotic romance. 


I generally try to be constructive in my reviews but this is one of the rare ones when it's just a jumble of thoughts and personal reactions to the story.

It's an emotionally intense story, very dark and disturbing and it took a lot of courage for me to read it, yet was totally worth it. I strongly urge everyone to give it a try, though be warned, this story shows some of the the ugliest sides of life with brutal honesty.

I have a hard time defining the genre of this book - it's not a romance, though it's a story about love (and the lack of it). It's a contemporary tale of darkness and self-discovery, a story of two people coming together briefly and changing each others' lives forever.

The story is told from Adrian's POV and I found her voice deeply engaging and easy to connect with - she is dealing with the consequences of a pill addiction - trying to (re)build her life, to find purpose and meaning.

Now, what can I say about Badger, he is unlike any other character I've ever read. My heart broke for him, I was literally in tears by the end of the book. He is a vigilante but he is no hero, let alone a romantic one, yet the ending of the story (and his life) was a moment of profound emotion and feeling for me.

Ms McKenna plays and subverts the very foundations of romance (what we see as romantic, heroic, what is means to love, to care, to feel connection and empathy), yet it's a story about love. It's brutal and painful, and truly disgusting at times but so is life and especially the life of these characters.

The story doesn't have a happy ending in the sense of Adrian and Badger coming together and overcoming their issues with the sheer power of true love. It's not one of those type of story. It's a real one, where Adrian learns to be herself, to love herself and to be strong and independent the hard way and I think Badger got to experience love and affection in his own way before leaving a world he didn't fit it. It's the only way their story could end, yet it left me completely devastated. I have this weird association with the Sons of Anarchy TV show - a sense of helplessness, of no other choice possible, of death being the only option. 

Abuse is often present in romance, it's treated in different ways but I haven't read anything like the way it was presented here and I doubt I ever will.

The romantic in me struggled with the idea that there are people who are broken beyond repair, I want (naively, probably) to believe that everyone can be saved, that sufferings and hurts can be made manageable, that life (and love and happiness) is possible with them remaining part of us but not destroying us completely. I know it's more of a wishful thinking on my part than a real possibility, yet Badger's story hurt, hurt because it can happen and it does happen way too often in real life .

I have to admit Badger's death made me convinced that he was capable of feelings, of love in his own fucked-up way. There was no place for him in Adrian's life or in anyone else's life but the book left me with a vaguely optimistic feelings that things will be all right.

Ms McKenna's writing is superb as usual, engaging, raw, very uncompromising and honest. This is a bold, unconventional story about finding your way, about abuse, about love! A recommended read, not for the faint of heart.

Purchase links: Amazon, B&N, Kobo, Brain Mills Press

Erotic romance

Review: The Truth About Him by Molly O'Keefe


Title: The Truth About Him (Everything I Left Unsaid #2)
Author: M. O'Keefe
Date of publication: 17 Nov 2015
Genre/themes: Erotic Romance, Abuse

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


We played our roles, told each other lies.

But now Dylan is no longer just a mysterious deep voice on the other end of the line. We’re face-to-face and our relationship is very, very real.

We still have secrets—but so much is crystal clear:

The thrilling danger.

The raw, naked desire.

The need to keep feeling the way he makes me feel. Forever.

Dylan is putting up walls, trying to keep me safe, but he can’t shut me out. He has seen my darkness and rescued me. Now it’s my turn, if only he will let me.


This is the second and final book in the series about Dylan and Annie and it brings about a hard-won and very well deserved HEA for them. This time the focus is mostly on Dylan - his struggles, his demons from the past and hopes for the future.

The terrible cliffhanger from the ending of book 1 is solved right away and all the characters are faced with the consequences of their actions. The story here continuous with the same intensity - deeply emotional and erotic, both dark and the occasional rays of sunshine filtering through.

We see Annie and Dylan trying to find a way to be together despite the heavy issues of their pasts (and present). Neither of them knows to let the other one in, how to love and be loved, how to go for the things they want. Dylan's had his spirit broken, just like Annie's had her body broken. It takes a lot of effort and never backing down on both sides to finally be happy together.

We see much more of Dylan, gradually unravelling the mystery of this broken man, plagued by bad childhood and difficult family relationships. Despite his seeming coldness and detachment from everyone and everything, he still cares about his family and friends. He has difficulty showing his emotions, being open and vulnerable. But Annie is there for him all the time. She battle with her own demons - guilt, doubts, insecurity but ultimately she is strong and resilient. She fights with everything she has for the man she loves and for the happiness and future that she has been denied for so long.

Their explosive chemistry just gets stronger and ever more complex. Their romance was raw and gritty, there was a lot of fighting - with each other, with themselves, with the rest of the world. There was no sugarcoating of the truth. We see the ugliness is Dylan's life in its brutal honesty but it also opens up a road towards acceptance, reconciliation, moving on to become a better person.

The supporting cast get their storylines further developed and I my heart went all out for Dylan's brother and I'm already anxiously looking forward to his story.

It's a dark and somewhat disturbing story of suffering and loss and the glimpses of light that shine in the characters' lives are even more precious because of that. The heavy erotic element in the story works well to show the characters' development and how they manage to build a healthy romantic relationship despite everything.

A recommended read!

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

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