Tuesday, September 1, 2015

August Top Reads #Reviews #Giveaway

I can not begin to tell you how difficult it was for me to come up with my top reads for August. I read so many books this month. I think I read more books in August than any other month this year. Some were great, some not so great, and others were AMAZING! Here's where the difficulty began. I didn't read a lot of bad books this month. They all were pretty damn good. So I had to make my top reads 10 books instead of the usual 5-7. I tried! I REALLY DID! So, you can take a look at them and buy them if you like. There's a giveaway at the end where one lucky person will win their choice of any one of these top reads. Enjoy and good luck.

You Are The Reason by Renae Kaye
Davo’s a pretty average guy. He has a decent job, owns his own home, and spends his weekends at the pub. He fully accepts that he’s gay, but doesn’t want to be one of those gays, who are femme and girly. He likes football and other masculine pursuits, and firmly avoids anything that could be seen as femme—including relationships that last beyond fifteen minutes.

Then Davo’s friend and gay idol not only gets a boyfriend, but also adopts a baby girl. Davo is seriously spooked and scuttles down to the pub in fright. That’s where he meets Lee, who is cute from her cherry-red hair, to her pretty little dress and pointy red shoes. Davo is charmed—but how is that possible? He’s gay. Isn’t he? Then Lee tells him he’s actually a guy—he just likes to wear women’s dresses occasionally. Thoroughly confused about an attraction that’s out of character for him, Davo begins the long journey to where he can accept himself without caring what everyone else thinks.

My Review:
Renae has always been one of my most favorite authors. From her first book to this one. I know when I open up one of her books that I’m going to laugh and be thoroughly entertained. You Are The Reason was brilliant. Davo is… I know there’s a word for him but I can’t figure out which would describe him best. When he meets Lee, WHO Lee is isn’t well understood. Watching Davo go through his “thought process” is outstanding. With the help of a magic 8 ball of course! I loved how Renae showed that even in the best houses, the most supportive homes, surrounded by loving family and friends, there are other people with the power to shape our lives and make us live a life not totally for ourselves. That’s where Davo is at when we meet him. Seeing Jake and Patrick from The Blinding Light was like Christmas coming early. I ADORED THAT BOOK!
And Lee, oh my Lee. A bright light all his own that one. The breath of fresh air Davo needed and pure joy and happiness wrapped up in a fire cracker. In short, I love Lee. I love Lee even more with Davo.

Once again Renae Kaye has knocked it out of the park. It’s a heartwarming, beautiful, breathtaking story about love. About hope, understanding, and acceptance. I loved it so so so much!!!

Beyond the Surface by Felice Stevens
On 9/11, firefighter Nick Fletcher’s world changed forever. He's unable to rid himself of survivor’s guilt, made worse by the secret he hides from his family and co-workers. Nick's life is centered around helping burn victims, until he is reunited with the man he’d once loved but pushed away. Now he has a second chance at a love he thought lost forever.

For fashion designer Julian Cornell, appearances mean everything. His love affairs are strictly casual, and the only thing he cares about is making his clothing line a success. A chance encounter with the man he loved long ago has Julian thinking for the first time in years there may be more to life than being seen at the best parties and what designer labels to wear.

When Julian’s world takes an unexpected turn, it's Nick who helps him regain perspective on what matters most in life. Julian, in turn, helps Nick accept who he is and understand he isn’t responsible for tragedies he couldn't prevent. Lost love found can be even sweeter the second time around and after all the years apart, both men learn to look beyond the surface to find the men they are inside.

My Review:

It’s no secret I’m a huge fan of Felice Stevens. I’ve read all her books from the first to the most recent and have been blown away every time. Her words, her stories, they hurt, and you cry and then inevitably she wraps you in a blanket of warmth and love. It’s not predictable it’s hopeful. You know you’ll be okay, that there will be a HEA. But first she’ll put you through the ringer. Beyond the Surface is no different. It’s book one of a new series she’s doing called The Breakfast Club and it’s clear who the main 3 men of these books will be pretty quick. This one follows Julian (breakfast Club man numero uno) and his long time heartbreaking love, Nick. Nick’s past surrounds him, suffocates him, owns him. A survivor of 9/11, he’s been chasing demons for years. Until the love of his past comes to the surface and rescues him. They rescue each other really. But there’s a journey they need to take first. For me this book is the essence of beauty. Beauty isn’t skin, it’s heart. It’s unconditional love. It’s find what completes you. It’s your purpose and Felice really pulls through with that understanding. Beyond the Surface will touch your heart, make you cry but it will be worth every tear drop and hiccup. This is a brilliant book and I can’t wait for more of this series.

Building Bonds by Morticia Knight
Kyle’s a natural sub who builds dungeon furniture, yet has no interest in BDSM. It takes a hunky Dom to show him just what he’s been missing.

After Kyle’s partner of five years leaves him for another man on the night of their housewarming party, the shy, early-thirties carpenter needs to do a major reassessment of his life in addition to raising some serious cash. With no one to help him pay the lease on his Los Angeles condo, he worries how he’ll survive. His best friend sets up a meeting with one of the Doms and partners at Kiss of Leather, a gay BDSM club being built as a premier destination for those who want the best of the best.

Master Gavin not only wants the best—he demands it. When he meets Kyle, he assumes that part of the builder’s reticence to share anything personal with him must be due to his experiences with an abusive former Master. Not one to back down from a challenge, Gavin determines to break through the walls surrounding the beautiful man he can’t get out of his mind. He’s hopeful that once he convinces Kyle to sign an initial contract, Kyle might be the first sub to open up his heart.

Misunderstandings and accusations almost destroy everything between them before they have a real chance to begin. However, the true obstacle becomes not only whether Kyle will embrace BDSM as a lifestyle, but also whether he can handle a full-time D/s relationship with a big, bad, scary Dom who’s as sexy as hell.

My Review:

This is book 1 of Morticia Knight’s new series Kiss of Leather. If this first book is anything to go by, we are in for a wonderful treat! Gavin is a perfect Dom. Morticia has written a Dominant who is very well educated in the do’s and don’ts of the lifestyle. ALWAYS a breath of fresh air when I read an author who’s done their homework. Kyle is a “natural sub” as everyone keeps telling him. Never finding love worth his amazingness. Kyle never really knew what he was capable of until Gavin walks into his life. Watching the learning process with Kyle was as wonderful as watching any love affair unfold. He needed TLC and Gavin craves giving it to Kyle.
I loved this books. Terrific flow, wonderful characters. I can see so many avenues Morticia can take with other characters and I’m curious to see who she tackles next! Great book.

Kage Unleashed by Maris Black

My name is Jamie Atwood, and I am an idiot. Against all odds, I got the attention of Michael Kage, the hottest MMA fighter on the planet. To say he rocked my world would be an understatement. He transformed me completely, made me depend on him, and made me love him. And the sex? Let me put it this way: I'd never been with a guy before I met Kage, but I'd gladly spend the rest of my life on my knees for him. He is my obsession and my addiction. But I did something stupid, and now I'm paying for it. I don't know if I'll ever see Kage again.
Being Michael Kage was never easy. Too many demons, too much anger, and not enough to live for. And then I met Jamie Atwood. He's got this innocence about him that speaks to something deep down inside me- in a place that's never been touched by anyone. He's beautiful, smart, and courageous, and he hasn't been tainted by the darkness that's ruled my life. I wanted him from the first second I laid eyes on him. It's selfish, I know. Because you can't bring an innocent thing into the darkness and not expect something to rub off

My Review:
When we left Kage and Jamie last (Book 1) it was a cliffhanger. I think everyone, including myself, kept tapping their kindle in hopes a new page would appear. So, if you were dying like I was book 2 is very much needed!
It picks up exactly where it left off… Thank God! But Maris likes to make everyone bust. It’s not smooth sailing for these guys and she made me sweat… A lot.
Before I go on I want to say this I LOVE THIS BOOK AND SERIES. I feel I need to say that before you read further into this review.
Kage is frustrating. He’s so closed off, letting Jamie in like a trickle of water from a faucet. Not fast enough for my liking. I wasn’t a huge fan of the passive-aggressive attitude from both MC’s. It was in abundance with them. A lot of non-communication and believing outside sources. Many times I shouted, “For the love of God, come here, I’ll bake a pie you two will sit down and not get up until you’ve talked it all out.”
I realize that is not how Kage is. He’s safe if he’s closed off. And I am beginning to realize he may not know or understand himself or his past. I can’t imagine how that shapes a person. So I don’t fault him for his actions.
I liked this Jamie better than in the first one. He’s stronger. Weak in some ways and I wanted to thump him on the head. But still I found myself proud of him on many occasions.

Kage and Jamie’s love is brutal. Brutal love. That’s exactly how I’d describe them. Kage is all alpha to Jamie’s willing submission. They have a great formula if only everyone else would shut up. LOL.
This series is rough, tough, and I can’t get enough. I get angry but I’m supposed to. Maris knows what she’s doing. She’s weaving quite a web and each book leaves me wanting for more. A sign of a wonderful writer.
Keep an open mind and surrender yourself to this because it’s so worth it.

Against the Grain by Charlie Cochet
As the fiercest Defense Agent at the THIRDS, Destructive Delta’s Ash Keeler is foul-mouthed and foul-tempered. But his hard-lined approach always yields results, evident by his recent infiltration of the Coalition. Thanks to Ash’s skills and the help of his team, they finally put an end to the murdering extremist group for good, though not before Ash takes a bullet to save teammate Cael Maddock. As a result, Ash’s secrets start to surface, and he can no longer ignore what’s in his heart.

Cael Maddock is no stranger to heartache. As a Recon Agent for Destructive Delta, he has successfully maneuvered through the urban jungle that is New York City, picking up his own scars along the way. Yet nothing he’s ever faced has been more of a challenge than the heart of Ash Keeler, his supposedly straight teammate. Being in love isn’t the only danger he and Ash face as wounds reopen and new secrets emerge, forcing them to question old loyalties.

My Review:

I love every word in this series. We have followed Dex and Sloan through the beginning. We have truly come to just adore everyone in THIRDS… well mostly everyone. In Against the Grain we get to finally see Ash and Cael! Do they make it? Is it love? You’ll find out soon enough. Of course it wouldn’t be perfection without the cheesy doodle-y crunching Dex! That man cracks me up. OMG! I laugh so hard it hurts! And with more Cael in it, watching Dex and him is brilliant. Thanksgiving in the kitchen! EPIC! Pretty much this entire book is everything I have waited for. Charlie has created such an amazing world. When I start one of these books, I never want to leave. We see all the familiar faces, learn so much more about the characters, and *Crosses fingers* get a glimpse of what the future holds for some.
Ash, rough and tough assholish man, isn’t more than the impenetrable armor he wears. He really hugged my heart and to see him and Cael discover each other and their past? That was something else.
THIRDS wouldn’t be THIRDS if not for surprises and Charlie gives you those on top of all that you are hoping to see in this book. Against the Grain is an outstanding addition to the THIRDS books and I impatiently wait for more from Charlie Cochet!

Andrew’s Promise by Nic Starr
Young mechanic Andrew Campbell’s life couldn’t be better. He is about to restore a Ford Mustang with his dad before heading off on the ultimate cross-country road trip with his best friend, Tanner McKenzie.

But tragedy strikes, and Andrew’s life is shattered. Worried his family will be torn apart if he doesn’t step in, Andrew makes a tough choice between following his heart and doing what he needs to do to protect his little brother.

When Andrew pushes Tanner away, Tanner heads off on the planned trip alone. Once Tanner leaves town, his life takes a different path and it’s ten years before he returns. Now a firefighter, he’s never forgotten his first love, and no one has ever taken Andrew’s place in his heart. He’s determined to see if Andrew feels the same way. He just hopes Andrew’s excited to see him, hopes that he’s available—and finally out—after all this time.

They might not have been ready to deal with emerging feelings years ago, but now might be the time for their second chance at love.

My Review:
Book 2 of Nic Starr’s Heroes series is equally as fantastic as book 1. Andrew’s Promise takes us 10 years in the past in a 2 part, past to present story. It’s an emotional, heart soaring tale. We follow Andrew, Josh’s brother, and his best friend Tanner as they discover themselves and each other. A love story a decade in the making. Part 1 is the past part 2 is the future. No time jumps people, so don’t worry! Tanner is a pure delight. He holds Andrew up, supports and loves him until tragedy tests their strength. I loved how this book showed that sometimes we are on the right path but there are detours we need to take to reach our destination. Home is still the same address, getting there isn’t always easy, but always worth it. I cried my eyes out both in sadness and in joy. This is a marvelous series. Each book has linked characters brilliantly and I cannot wait to read book 3!!

Bloodline by Barbara Elsborg
No one can tattoo better than Inigo, a two hundred year old vampire, who works on human and supernatural skins. But he’s never tattooed a faerie and when a bunch of them insist he comes with them to tattoo one of their kind, saying no proves not to be an option. His skin is Oberon, the faerie king, and Inigo fears this will be the last tattoo he’ll ever do.

The moment Micah lands in the faerie king’s bed chamber, he knows the guy is trouble. But if he’s to save his sister and his family, let alone the job he’s paid to do, he has to stay in Faerieland and endure Oberon’s sadism. When he’s thrown into a vampire’s cell, covered in blood, he fears this day will be his last.

This book follows on from Jumping in Puddles - though there is no need to read that one first.

My Review:

I read this series out of order. This is book one, but I read The Demon You Know First. What I discovered is, it doesn’t matter which you read first. It was totally fine. I had a feeling going into Bloodline that it was going to be very dark due to having read the other book in this series. And yes, it wasn’t for the faint of heart. But it wasn’t AS dark as The Demon You Know… pretty close. There’s fairies and vampires, angels, zombies, mortals, and torture… sex… sadism… you name it it’s there. Now don’t freak out! It’s AMAZING! Barbara worked it like a pro!!! This is such a dark, twisted, extraordinary world. It’s like seeing beyond the veil when I read about Roman, Micah, Inigo, and all the paranormal happenings. Barbara has a gift. She makes you feel utterly hopeless. Like there is zero possibility that everything can work out. You start to mourn, drink, and bargain. Yes, you begin to talk to yourself and be all, “I swear, Barbara, if you make this okay I will gift you a unicorn all your own.” LOL. But, never fear there’s a light at the end of the portal! I enjoy this crazy place she’s created! Great book!

Trasmundo: Escape by Varian Krylov
Strange, quiet Luka doesn't live in this world; long ago he took refuge in his art, escaping into surreal mindscapes inspired by his favorite painters. In the beautifully monstrous realms of his imagination, he is safe from the pain of his losses: his family, his friends, his hope.

Until war breaks out, and he is forced to flee the only home he's known since he was thirteen.

Captured by an enemy soldier, young Luka is marched across brutal terrain, toward a fate known only by the bearded menace holding him prisoner. Quick with a knife, tireless and strong, Tarik guards the purpose of his mission as he takes Luka deeper and deeper into enemy territory.

When the soldier discovers the painful secret he has been hiding since childhood, Luka fears he is about to endure a new kind of cruelty, worse than being abandoned, ostracized or beaten. Or is it possible the soldier holding Luka prisoner is the one person who isn't afraid of the truth behind Luka's silence and lies?

My Review:

Every writer has a style, it’s their signature. Varian Krylov has always been one to push the boundaries. The trip to the happily ever after is never easy and it’s filled with open faced truths. Humanity isn’t perfect. In Trasmundo we follow Luka and Tarik. 2 men from different sides of a horrifying war both seeking the same thing. Peace and acceptance. Varian is masterful in showing you the raw brutality of mankind and balancing it out with the beautiful kindness of it as well. Luka’s life if utterly the worst in the history of forever until he meets Tarik, his captor? Maybe. I love their journey. It’s not just for survival it’s for self-discovery. It’s for them to be free in everything and that is what we all struggle for. I knew coming into this book it was going to be a rush. It was going to bruise my heart and I knew every second would be worth it. Varian has written an inspiring, beautiful, heart soaring story. This will be a wonderful series!

Bitter Taffy by Amy Lane
Rico Gonzalves-Macias didn't expect to fall in love during his internship in New York—and he didn’t expect the boss’s son to out them both and get him fired either. When he returns to Sacramento stunned and heartbroken, he finds his cousin, Adam, and Adam's boyfriend, Finn, haven't just been house-sitting—they've made his once sterile apartment into a home.

When Adam gets him a job interview with the adorable, magnetic, practically perfect Derek Huston, Rico feels especially out of his depth. Derek makes it no secret that he wants Rico, but Rico is just starting to figure out that he’s a beginner at the really important stuff and doesn’t want to jump into anything with both feet.

Derek is a both-feet kind of guy. But he’s also made mistakes of his own and doesn’t want to pressure Rico into anything. Together they work to find a compromise between instant attraction and long-lasting love, and while they’re working, Rico gets a primer in why family isn’t always a bad idea. He needs to believe Derek can be his family before Derek’s formidable patience runs out—because even a practically perfect boyfriend is capable of being hurt.

My Review:
Candy Man was outstanding. Adam and Finn were breathtaking and of course who doesn’t love Darrin??? To see them all again with the awesome addition of Rico (Adam’s cousin) and Derek, was so great! Bitter Taffy is worthy of some boner inducing chocolate truffles! Chapter one started with a bang, I held my breath, I heard my heart shatter for Rico, and when I knew he was going back to his cousin; I knew it was going to be okay. Adam and Rico need love, family, understanding, and each other. Broken and sad Rico is no match for Derek and his persistence and I loved loved loved how persistent he was. Rico and Derek are a perfect pair and they made me laugh, cry, and fan myself quite a bit!
Amy Lane has written another wonderful story and you need it in your life.

Sutphin Boulevard by Santino Hassell

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.

My Review:

This isn’t your typical friends to lovers type of story. Like the city it takes place in, it’s gritty, rough, and unforgiving. Set in Michael Rodriguez’s point of view we get a very detailed view of his mind… and all the shattered pieces that linger there. This is a man who is carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders and he really shouldn’t. Mentally he can’t handle it, physically it’s killing him. His family is a mess, his job is drama filled, and his best friend Nunzio is the only anchor he has… and he’s losing that too.
I was born in Flushing Queens NY. Queens is a borough I know well. I love that Santino is a New Yorker and was spot on with his geography. Nothing worse than reading poor researched books. It’s the little things, you know?
This story is a tear you apart, chew you up, spit you out kind of story. There’s great pain and great triumph. There’s hate and there’s love. No matter what you get you get it epically.
Sutphin Boulevard is not a fairytale, it’s reality. I loved that most about it. There wasn’t that, okay I forgive you let’s hug it out crap. It was no, it’s not okay, work out your shit! That was fantastic!
Santino Hassell’s writing is stunning, his descriptions are beautiful, and he writes the human condition like poetry. This is a book you want to own!

One person will get the choice of any of these Top Reads. Simply enter the rafflecopter below. Contest runs until September 15th. Winner will be contacted via email so check your spam.
Thank you all! Remember to always review what you read.


a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Your list of top favs looks a lot like mine. My favorite August read is Discovering Dalton by Nicole Colville

  2. too many great books to pick just one! Loved Against the Grain and Beyond the Surface !

  3. They all sound fabulous. (I'm not including mine in that comment!!!!) but I'd read all of them. (not including mine) LOL

  4. I loved all the Dreamspinner books but there are a couple of the others I haven't read and I'm now adding them to my wish list.

  5. I have read & loved a few of these books, a few more I have but not read yet. I also have 2 on my wishlist & just bought another one... So many great books I read last month but the one(s) that will stick with me for a while is The Flesh Cartel. It was a series that was amazing/awful but I just couldn't stop & glad I read to the end...

  6. I really liked Building Bonds by Morticia Knight and Beyond the Surface as well this month. I also read Loving Jay by Renae Kaye and thoroughly loved that one as well.

  7. As I just finished reading You Are The Reason by Renae Kaye that's the one I will go with! Your list and mine are almost identical. Great books for August.


  8. Beyond the surface was definitely one of the best I have read this year!!

  9. I have not read any of these yet, but I would love to read any and all of these books. Thanks for the giveaway and for the chance at winning. brandylucero832@gmail.com

  10. Only read Beyond The Surface and would love a chance to read Kage Unleashed.

  11. The Lightning-Struck Heart by TJ Klune was my favorite read in August. I've read it 3 times already. :)