Every month I do a Top Reads for the month. Well, I've since taken on 2 reviewers and their opinions matter a great deal to me and this genre. So, I've spiced things up a bit. This is broken down into 3 parts. Meredith's Top Reads (me), Erin's Top Reads, and Morningstar's Top Reads. We each have chose our Tops for the month. Some of us read more than others so some lists are smaller. But regardless we read a ridiculous amount and we had to cut it down to the ones that really stuck with us. Thank you to them for being awesome, thank you to the authors for being amazing, and thank you to you readers for being fabulous! There's a giveaway at the end. Enjoy!
Doc Brodie and the Big, Purple Cat Toy by Brigham Vaughn
Grant Murchison is a computer programmer with a great job, a small house he’s fixing up, and a mischievous tabby cat named Molly. Doctor Brodie Hall is a veterinarian with a sleeve full of tattoos and an enormous mastiff named Ruby.
When Molly gets sick after nibbling on Grant’s favorite purple toy, he rushes her to the vet clinic where the doctor works. Grant’s embarrassed to admit what Molly ate, but Brodie finds Grant’s reaction charming.
Brodie decides to pursue Molly’s owner, but getting close to Grant is a bigger challenge than he anticipated. Despite Grant’s attraction to the vet, his past leaves him unable to trust in a future together. Doc Brodie may be great with scared and hurting animals but will his technique work on Grant?
This was such a fabulous, fun, feel good book! This is the type of book you look for when you need to smile, laugh, and unwind. The writing is wonderful, truly! The characters? Oh well, what’s not to love about a tattoo clad Veterinarian, and a geeky hunk? Add a big dog and a tiny cat and you have a cast of awesome.
Brodie and Grant are totally adorable together. I love how Brodie absolutely makes it his life’s mission to lift Grant up and just appreciate him for who he is. Since Grant’s last relationship was borderline verbally abusive, it’s a relief to see him with someone perfect for him.
The creativity behind Brodie and Grant’s meeting was brilliant. There’s a moment when you read a book, after you’ve met the MC’s that you wonder how they will meet. And Brigham sparkled with that intro! I laughed so hard at poor Grant when he had to admit what happened.
Seriously, though. This is a book you need to have. No angst, not fluff, just really amazing feel good romance writing!
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Collateral Damage by J.T. Cheyanne
Fleeing the questions and horrific memories in Miami-Dade, Trevor Garrett accepts a deputy position in the small town of Rolling Fork, Mississippi. Plagued by anxiety attacks and an abhorrence to being touched, Trevor rebuffs his best friend’s attempts to set him up. He has no desire for any type of relationship; until the local golden boy strolls into his line of sight at the neighborhood dive…
Logan Andrews just wants to take care of his mama. After years of serving his country in the Army Special Forces, Logan resigns when he learns his mother is suffering from advanced stages of Alzheimer’s disease. A night out with old friends turns heated when the newest deputy in town catches his attention…
When a sexually deviant killer sets his sights on the gay men in the area, Trevor is assigned the case. In a wicked twist, all evidence points to Logan. Can Trevor’s past be repeating itself? In a race against a killer, Trevor struggles to overcome his own insecurities and clear the man whose touch sets him on fire. Will he succeed or will their budding relationship become Collateral Damage?
Well Well Well! This was a suspenseful, emotional, wild ride! Here we have 2 men, both with haunting pasts struggling to make a future for themselves.
Trevor comes from Miami Dade and is now working for the Rolling Fork Sheriff’s department. He suffers from horrible mental trauma at the hands of a person he swore loved him in return.
Logan is an Army man who comes home to care for his sick mother. His past kept him stagnant for such a long time.
Of course these two guys meeting and forming a relationship wouldn’t be easy. There’s a murderer on the loose! This book has a great mystery to it. I’d label it as a psychological thriller for sure.
Even though I figured out the murderer half way, the author wasn’t taking any chances and there were SO many surprises! Even the epilogue threw me for a loop!
Easily a wonderful book. It will hug at your heart, tear at your soul, having you reaching for the bottle. But in the end you’ll smile. It will feel slightly bittersweet but it will also feel right.
These men, these characters don’t have it easy. Minus maybe one guy, this town is full of heartache but it’s also a place of hope.
I really enjoyed this book!
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No Man's Land by Theo Fenraven
Amateur ghost hunters Cy and Zelda are invited to the BWCA in Northern Minnesota to investigate an alleged haunting at Brighton Lake Lodge. Mac, the owner, has returned home from London with plans to restart the family business, but the ghosts have to be dealt with first.
Interesting things happen the moment they arrive; it seems there isn’t one ghost, but many. One of them uses Zelda’s robot, Orwell, to communicate with them, and they find out the ghosts aren’t ghosts at all.
Set in a time in the not-so-distant future, the story destroys ideas of what is real, what isn’t, and the lengths people will go to in order to survive.
Normally when I review a book I talk about the plot a bit. I say situations that I loved or didn’t so that I can explain my emotions. Well, I can’t do that with No Man’s Land. I can’t because if I did that I’d inevitably give something away. This story is a labyrinth and you have to really be in it to get out of it.
Theo Fenraven is an eclecticist in his writing. Each book is different. He has no steady pattern and because of that, you’re always pleasantly surprised.
In No Man’s Land I wasn’t sure what to expect. Where would this story take me? How will I feel? I must say, Theo never stopped my brain from thinking. This story weaves around and when you think you’ve grasped it… BAM… you don’t.
There’s suspense, frustration, and total wonder. This books keep you on your toes and your head constantly turning.
Brilliant poetic writing. Memorable well-formed characters, descriptive places and situations.
This isn’t a romance, there’s love, but that’s not the point or focus of No Man’s Land. Only when you read it will that become clear to you.
This was a terrific read!
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Opportunity by Nicholas Bella
Théoden: It seemed my gut instincts were spot on. I tried to prepare my House as best as I could considering the limitations I was facing. The River Rock Alpha was coming and things were about to get very serious, very soon. Blood was going to flow like a river and supes were going to die. I just didn't know who.
Noel: My heart is racing a mile a minute as I try to prepare for an attack I'm not sure I'll survive. I've been in fights before, but those were nothing compared to what was coming. I just hoped I'd be able to hold my own when the battle begins.
Deacon: After watching Josef chasing his tale on the news, I'm sure he's approached the vampire Prince of the City, Théoden, about his dead wolf. I'm sure Théoden suspects Josef is responsible for his deceased vampire. My plan is working perfectly. Now, all I need to do is one more push, and then Théoden will have no other choice but to fall into my trap.
Josef: The minutes are ticking by so slowly for me. All I can think about is liberating my beautiful mate from the clutches of that bloodsucking son of a bastard, seeing as Ara made him. I will shred the flesh of my enemies and leave his entire coven in pools of their own blood when I'm finished with them. Dante will be mine before this day is over.
Warning: This serial contains strong adult content not meant for sensitive eyes. The novelettes in this serial will be filled with dark, twisted, raunchy and steamy scenes between powerful, sexy men that will either offend you or get ya revved up. This series will not be pulling any punches, and it won’t apologize for hurting your feelings, either. You’ll find no fluff and ruffles here. The vampires are not misunderstood, hopeless romantics looking for love. The werewolves are not cute and cuddly and the dragons aren’t the ones from your childhood. This is NOT a romance.
This series… these episodes… they test my heart! I tell you! When the last book ended we were clinging to our chairs! We were DYING TO KNOW what was going to happen with Josef, Theoden, Deacon… So Opportunity opens where Suspicion left off… commence nail biting.
The fight was so unbelievably suspenseful. I was freaking out the whole time. I screamed, swore… I messaged Nicholas! I did. I had to let him know how mad I was with him! Anyway… I won’t tell you the outcome. I didn’t see ahead though. I didn’t see it taking the direction it did. Once again Nicholas Bella shocked me!
This is such a breathtaking and amazing series/episodes. I can’t get enough and I’m always on the edge of my seat for more!!!
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Tournament of Losers by Megan Derr
All Rath wants is a quiet, peaceful life. Unfortunately, his father brings him too much trouble—and too many debts to pay—for that to ever be possible. When the local crime lord drags Rath out of bed and tells him he has three days to pay his father's latest debt, Rath doesn't know what to do. There's no way to come up with so much money in so little time.
Then a friend poses an idea just ridiculous enough to work: enter the Tournament of Losers, where every seventy-five years, peasants compete for the chance to marry into the noble and royal houses. All competitors are given a stipend to live on for the duration of the tournament—funds enough to cover his father's debt.
All he has to do is win the first few rounds, collect his stipend, and then it's back to trying to live a quiet life…
I have wanted this book for a while now. When I was finally able to purchase it I did! Megan Derr has such a talent of creating fantastical worlds that sweep me away. I smile throughout even when I’m crying because I feel like I’ve been rewarded with this amazing gift.
Rath is the relatable character. The kind, strong, gold hearted character we all hope we are like. Perhaps not a prostitute but still, that is not WHO he is. It’s something he does to keep himself and his mother safe and fed. Following him through this story was an adventure. Exciting, suspenseful, and absolutely lovely.
Tress is Rath’s “lover” and holds a very interesting secret all the way to the end of this book. Somewhat predictable but the unveiling still made me giddy.
Tournament of Losers was everything I hoped it would be and more. Witty characters, crisp dialog, terrific flow, and entertaining plot lines.
Once again Megan Derr has written an extraordinary book that will leave you desperate for more.
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Dirty Angel by Barbara Elsborg
Particularly when you discover there really is a hell. Aden thinks there’s no way he can avoid going down, but when an angel and demon can’t agree over his fate, Aden is given one more month to gain redemption. He doubts he can find a way to become a better man in so short a time. But it’s worth a try, right?
Particularly when you can’t shake free of an obsessive ex. Brody might be managing to hold down his job as a vet, but his personal life is a mess. If he doesn’t pull himself together soon, he’s going to be sliding downhill too fast to stop.
One wet night, on a dark country lane, two worlds collide and destinies change forever.
I positively love how Barbara Elsborg writes fantasy. Though Dirty Angel was almost realistic fantasy to me.
I don’t want to give away this book because the discoveries are what really gave this book that extra dose of amazing. But, so you get the gist. Aden is dead. We know this from the blurb and the first paragraph. Aden had lead a half good and half bad life. So does he goes to Hell or does he go to Heaven?
They do not know. What happens next I LOVED! He has to prove himself. Is he worthy or Heaven, or damned to Hell. He has one month and seven chances. WHAT DOES THAT MEAN? Sorry, go read the book.
In that month Aden learns a lot about himself. In that month he meets Brody. A broken man. Half confident half vulnerable and ashamed. You’d think that’s the last thing Aden needs but it turns out Brody, and his family are exactly what Aden needs.
There’s unexplained miracles, serious obstacles, life lessons, and horrors that happen and are discovered in the short time Aden is with Brody. When you see Aden’s past I honestly can’t understand why he didn’t go straight to Heaven for the Hell he endured on earth. Brody’s past isn’t much better but Aden? Yeah. Not a fun life. And yet he’s been, and continues to be so heroic!
I really adored all of this story as I do many of Barbara’s books. Her fantasy novels are always outstanding and Dirty Angel is fabulous!!!! SO fabulous! I highly recommend you read this book!
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Senseless by Kol Anderson
Jason Hamilton has been in love with his baby brother for as long as he can remember. He made it a point to pamper and protect him all his life. After the death of their parents, they’ve grown accustomed to each others love, relying on no one else but themselves. So, when eighteen year old Colton gets kidnapped from his college dorm, Jason will do anything to get him back.
Devyn Taylor has had a crush on Colton Hamilton for years. But being Jason’s friend he never had the guts to actually go ahead with what he wanted. But no matter how much he’s tried Devyn can’t seem to forget about Colton. So when some friends who got badly burned by Jason, devise a plan to kidnap his brother, Devyn realizes this is his one and only chance to get Colton.
Colton loves his brother and isn’t even willing to give Devyn a shot.
And Devyn didn’t realize how sadistic his so-called friends are and just how serious things are about to get.
Okay so I’m for sure going to say this: HEED THE WARNINGS. It’s funny because Kol said those exact words to me before I started this.
I have read pretty much everything out there. Every element, every scenario, every twisted thing the dark promises and yet Senseless rattled me. It was a rough read I won’t lie. Harder than any book I’ve ever read if I’m being honest.
The torture in this book is immeasurable. I honest to God have no idea how Colton lived… and does he? It’s a cliffy. Sorry. It is but I know there are 2 more books coming so don’t panic!
Here’s the thing. I KNOW the justice will be amazing because if Kol can write torture like this I have zero doubt that the justice will be the sweetest nectar to ever soothe your torn up soul.
This book will test you. It will have you choking on so many questions. You might find yourself praying… even if you don’t believe. I had to put the book down and hug my kids and shower and just look out the window to appreciate that I could see life moving about.
This book is SO DARK! SO SO DARK! I rated it how I did because it deserved it. It made promises and it kept them. It warned and it meant it. As prepared as I was I couldn’t have been.
To shake ME in a book it take a lot! I mean more than you know. I don’t shy away from much. I don’t freak out easily and I’m not squeamish. This book found the weakness in my barriers and breached it. It set a limit a book hasn’t done in a very long time.
For that I applaud Kol Anderson. I will never forget this book!
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Scorched: Seeing Red by T.C. Orton
Down the twists and turns of the London alleyways, where Chinatown meets the highstreets, lies a small venue where unknown rock bands often play to crowds of less than one-hundred.
Isaac is nineteen, living on the sofa of his best friend’s brother – Eric – after his bible-loving parents tossed him aside because of his sexuality. After two years of struggling to make sense of his life, Eric and Charlotte convince Isaac to attend Red’s gig; an up and coming rock band with a small cult following.
All hell breaks loose and Isaac is left injured, with the whereabouts of his friends unknown and his body crippled on the ground. It’s then that the four members – Troy, Nicolai, Kyle and Moss – aid Isaac by infecting him with a ‘magical’ virus that grants immortality in exchange for consuming blood.
The ‘Paranorm’ world is exposed to Isaac. Vampires, werewolves and warlocks lurk in the depths of the city he has lived in his entire life, but he won’t become one with the night until he completes his nine-month transition, leaving him in the hands of the band and at the mercy of vampire politics.
OMG I LOVED THIS BOOK! I wasn’t sure I would based on the blurb. I had some doubts but I was wrong!!!!!!!! This was creative, entertaining, and wildly original!
We have all read many vampire stories. Probably enough that we may even roll our eyes when we see another being published. Well if this book is anything to go by then know it hasn’t ALL been written yet.
We have four band members of RED and one night Isaac goes out with his best friend Charlotte, and his roommate Eric, and what promises to be a fun night turns into a nightmare.
I won’t give anything away but I will tell you when Isaac wakes all is not the same and neither is he.
I adored every character in this book. That’s not easy to do. Many times I couldn't like them all or one irritated me. Nope. Each one was excellently written and they were their own character. The vampires weren’t cliché; they were unique.
Isaac has so many struggles in this story. I’m glad he didn’t just have it easy. His obstacles were real and they made sense and I was glad he had them. How he starts and how he ends is different and though my heart broke quite a few times; in the end everything was how it should be.
I do hope there are more books to this series because I have no doubt I’ll be devouring them all!
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Love Can't Conquer by Kim Fielding
Bullied as a child in small-town Kansas, Jeremy Cox ultimately escaped to Portland, Oregon. Now in his forties, he’s an urban park ranger who does his best to rescue runaways and other street people. His ex-boyfriend, Donny—lost to drinking and drugs six years earlier—appears on his doorstep and inadvertently drags Jeremy into danger. As if dealing with Donny’s issues doesn’t cause enough turmoil, Jeremy meets a fascinating but enigmatic man who carries more than his fair share of problems.
Qayin Hill has almost nothing but skeletons in his closet and demons in his head. A former addict who struggles with anxiety and depression, Qay doesn’t know which of his secrets to reveal to Jeremy—or how to react when Jeremy wants to save him from himself.
Despite the pasts that continue to haunt them, Jeremy and Qay find passion, friendship, and a tentative hope for the future. Now they need to decide whether love is truly a powerful thing or if, despite the old adage, love can’t conquer all.
I have to admit, one of the first thing that piqued my interest about this book was the title. It made me wonder what was going to happen, what the conflict in the story was going to be, how it would get resolved. That's the mark of a good title, yeah? The cover is pretty fantastic, too. Kim Fielding's Love Can't Conquer is a beautifully written story about two very imperfect, flawed men who find one another when they need each other the most.
Jeremy Cox is a park ranger in Portland, Oregon. He loves his job, he has friends, a home he's proud of, and if he's sometimes a bit lonely, if something is missing from his life, well he can't really complain too much. Enter the very broken, but very compelling Qayin Hill. Quiet and unassuming, but with an inner strength that peeks through the hard shell Qay has erected, Jeremy becomes totally captivated. He feels a pull to Qay, a familiarity he can't quite understand or figure out, one that once he discovers their connection, brings the two even closer together (after a bit of angst of course!)
There's lots going on in this book. A lot of angst, a lot of inner demons, a lot of heartache, especially for Jeremy in regards to his ex-boyfriend Donny. Donny is a total mess—an addict who Jeremy hasn't seen in five years and who turns up on his doorstep bloodied and bruised. I absolutely love how Kim Fielding wove this story together. The mystery surrounding Donny, the gentle, powerful way Jeremy and Qay navigate their relationship from friends to lovers, and the way Qay slowly puts his life back together is engaging and beautiful. I like quiet books, and this one is definitely that. There's enough drama to keep you interested, enough sex to titillate but not overwhelm. Jeremy and Qay are well-developed and layered, and the story will pull you in. I thought it dragged a bit in places, but not enough to take away my enjoyment of Love Can't Conquer.
Fielding does a wonderful job with the secondary characters as well. Rhoda was a colorful presence and an absolute rock for both Jeremy and Qay. I loved Nevin; he was brash and funny and provided light hearted moments in the perfect places. As always with a Kim Fielding book, the writing is stellar and the imagery evocative and powerful. Make sure you check this one out, you won't be sorry!
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Reckless by Caitlin Ricci
When his best friend, Lee, offered him his sub as part of a bet, Colton Prier never expected more than a clean condo from the boy. But Tate Nicholson is well-trained, eager , and he likes rope play as much as Colton enjoys tying him up. It should have ended after one night, but they begin meeting in secret, and Colton can’t stop thinking about Tate. It’s a betrayal of his friendship with Lee to fall in love with Tate, but Colton can’t help wanting the sub for himself.
He’s not alone in his feelings, either. Tate thought he was happy with Lee. Not completely fulfilled, but happy enough. But as he spends more time with Colton, he realizes Lee isn’t capable of giving him what he wants anyway. Lee demands his full submission, but Tate doesn’t want to be a lifestyle sub. Colton expects his obedience at times but gives him his freedom more often than not, which is more in line with what Tate wants.
When Tate really needs his Dom and Lee isn’t around to help him, he reaches the tipping point and needs to choose who he wants to give his submission to, and to accept the consequences of his choice when he does.
I'm almost embarrassed to say that Reckless is my first Caitlin Ricci novel. After reading this book, I can tell you all it won't be my last. Delicious sexual tension, chemistry that is off the charts hot, well-developed, multi-faceted characters, a plot that was engaging and a pace that was perfect, Reckless ticked all my buttons and when you throw in some VERY well written BDSM, well, this was like candy to me. I loved this book from start to finish.
Colton Prier is my favorite kind of Dom to read about. Intense, focused, strict but giving, and that touch of cold aloofness that is somehow just so very sexy. Reckless is told solely in first person from Colton's point of view and while I prefer to get dual points of view when I read, spending so much time inside Colton's mind was all kinds of yummy. And the connection between these two? Whoa, it was sizzling. Tate was fascinating to me, on the outside he seems so delicate, but inside there lurks a steel resolve and the sparks flying between Colton and Tate are palpable.
I loved the conflict going on in Reckless. Tate isn't Colton's, not at the beginning. Instead he is his best friend, Lee's, submissive. Colton knows he shouldn't want Tate like he does, but their pull toward one another is undeniable. When the perfect person for you walks into your life, what else can you do but choose him over your best friend?
"I wanted him, though. That was the worst of it. I wanted to yank the baggy lounge pants he’d found off him, and I wanted to hold him down on the bed and fuck him. Even after everything he’d been through that night. I pushed my sneakers off and lay down behind him. He wasn't mine. I wasn't supposed to care about him. I shouldn't have held him close, and I shouldn't have pressed myself against him. But that night what I should have done melted away completely as I fell asleep with Tate in my arms as his soft hair brushed my chin."
Gah. Soooo intense, yeah?
Being inside Colton's head while he struggled with his wants versus not wanting to hurt Lee kept me turning page after page. Watching these two fall more and more in love was captivating. Reckless is so well written. The BDSM scenes were intense and steamy, but there weren't so many that they overpowered the rest of the story. Colton and Tate were such compliments to one another, they were absolutely delightful. Colton in all his focus and rules and Tate, all feisty and sassy, with such a touch of vulnerability that you can't help but love him. Reckless is a low angst, passionate story about two men who are so right for one another that they stop at nothing to have their HEA. I highly recommend this book, you'll love it. Promise.
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Undercover Boyfriend by Jacob Z. Flores
Two men, one lie, and a whole bunch of trouble.
Marty Valdez is in serious trouble. His sister’s wedding is around the corner, and everyone expects to meet Marty’s super-successful underwear model boyfriend—whom Marty invented. Now Marty has to produce a half-naked hottie or suffer the worst humiliation of his life.
FBI agent Luke Myers is in serious trouble. He’s been working undercover to take down a dangerous drug cartel, but his cover’s blown and he needs to disappear. Luckily, a geeky yet intriguing comic book artist gives him the perfect opportunity. Luke just has to pretend to be his boyfriend, and pretending is what he does best. But between Marty’s mother and his ex, Luke might’ve bitten off more than he can chew, and Marty’s knack for finding trouble might ruin more than just his sister’s wedding.
Out of all the Dreamspun Desires books published by Dreamspinner Press, Undercover Boyfriend by Jacob Z. Flores is my favorite! It’s entertaining, sweet, utterly charming and fabulous fun! I fell in love with Marty on the first page and Luke was fantastic as well.
Sure most everything in the book is on the unrealistic side, and yeah, you can see the plotline coming from a mile away but trust me when I tell you, you won’t mind any of that one little bit. The setting was written so perfectly I could envision everything from the smell of the tamales to the accent of Marty’s mother. I loved all the characters (well not the one’s I wasn’t supposed to like!) and Crispin and Sophia were great secondary players. Marty is just so freaking cute and adorable in all his geeky, nerdiness and then of course Luke falls captive to all his charms.
The writing in Undercover Boyfriend was spot on, and the pace was fast moving and kept me turning page after page until I finished in one sitting. There’s a bit of intrigue, some very swoony, sweet moments, and enough heat to please everyone. Such an enjoyable, fantastic read!! I highly recommend this one!
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THIRDS: Beyond the Books Vol 1 by Charlie Cochet
oin us as we celebrate the THIRDS universe with this collection of flash fiction stories written to prompts submitted by fans. Sometimes we want to know more about our favorite characters. Where they came from, how they became who they are, their families, friendships, and past heartaches. These snippets of moments in time offer an inside look at the lives of our favorite THIRDS characters. Whether it’s first shifts, the forging of unbreakable bonds, or a night full of shenanigans, these stories are sure to enrich your THIRDS reading experience.
** All royalties earned from THIRDS Beyond the Books are being donated to Big Cat Rescue.
So if you're like anyone who has read and fallen in love with Charlie Cochet's amazing THIRDS series (and who hasn't?!) you know all about the THIRDS blog Charlie has set up where she posts all kinds of extra information. Pictures, teasers, bio's for all the characters, and then of course the flash fics where readers can submit a prompt for something extra they'd like to see from the books. It's these extras that make up THIRDS: Beyond the Books.
I'm telling y'all, for anyone who is fan of Dex, Sloane, Cale and the rest of the characters that make up the THIRDS universe, these extra little peeks add SO MUCH to the overall stories. Some are funny, some are quite sad (Cael getting his Therian tattoo at the age of 2 and Dex being so protective of his baby brother about killed me) and of course some are steamy and sexy. All are written in Charlie's signature mixture of humor and drama, and getting a bit more of characters we might not see so often in the books was such a treat. Zach, Nina, Tony (omg he's just SO awesome!), Hudson ... I loved every single snippet.
THIRDS: Beyond the Books is an absolute delight from start to finish. If you find yourself salivating like me as we wait for the next book in the THIRDS series, this book will definitely make you remember why we love our favorite Destructive Delta guys … and make that wait maybe, MAYBE a teeny bit easier. But omg, are you as ready for Smoke and Mirrors as I am?!
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Wolfsong by TJ Klune
Ox was twelve when his daddy taught him a very valuable lesson. He said that Ox wasn’t worth anything and people would never understand him. Then he left.
Ox was sixteen when he met the boy on the road, the boy who talked and talked and talked. Ox found out later the boy hadn’t spoken in almost two years before that day, and that the boy belonged to a family who had moved into the house at the end of the lane.
Ox was seventeen when he found out the boy’s secret, and it painted the world around him in colors of red and orange and violet, of Alpha and Beta and Omega.
Ox was twenty-three when murder came to town and tore a hole in his head and heart. The boy chased after the monster with revenge in his bloodred eyes, leaving Ox behind to pick up the pieces.
It’s been three years since that fateful day—and the boy is back. Except now he’s a man, and Ox can no longer ignore the song that howls between them.
I L.O.V.E.D this book!!! I mean it’s TJ Klune are you really surprised? On top of the fact that it’s TJ it’s paranormal which had me thinking HELL YES! This isn’t just a story about two boys growing up to be men and falling in love it was a story about healing and trust and opening your mind to a new world you never knew existed and finding that one place you feel welcomed.
Ox Matheson was named perfectly! He is big, strong, and to me he really was the center of this whole universe we were invited to love. Ox has the type of personality that even though people weren’t always nice to him or could understand him it didn’t seem to hurt him, not until he had to deal with his father leaving him. Ox was that human boy that lived down the lane who one day walking home from work met his destiny, one he didn’t think he had and didn't believe he was worth. The human boy that healed a powerful pack of werewolves without even knowing he was doing it, just by being himself.
Joe. What can I say about Joe Bennett that really encapsulates who he is? Joe was a boy that was damaged and hurt by the evil in his world but that isn’t who we meet that fateful day. Who we meet is a 10 year old carefree little blonde “tornado of fingers and feet and words” who climbs Ox like a tree who can’t stop talking about everything, because to him Ox is his…”all candy canes and pinecones, and epic and awesome.”
There are so many things about Ox and Joe and all the secondary characters that I connected with. Each of their voices were so clear that I never got confused about which one was thinking or speaking in any moment. TJ creates secondary characters that in this story were just as important to the story has the main characters. Each one serving a greater purpose within the story. Gordo and his little shop of misfits made a home away from home for Ox. At first I wasn’t sure that Gordo was going to be good for Ox because he was gruff and distant but he was a big ball of fluff underneath it all when it came to Ox.
TJ has such a unique way of writing particularly in this book where there was a lot of repetition of lines but only with the ones that were important, the ones that were meant to stick into your head. I am not sure how to exactly describe TJ’s style of writing but it’s more styled or poetic and less “He woke up and got ready for work. Then called his friend Steve.” The imagery that he is able to create through his writing was very expressive and called up emotions in every word. I didn’t wookie cry face like I am sure some people did but that was because I feel like those scenes had so many emotions going on that for me it was hard to focus on just one. Did I tear up or feel utterly heartbroken? Oh yeah! I would have to be dead not too. Not only is there this heartbreak that nearly breaks, not just Joe and Ox, but all of the characters is the aftermath of that heartbreak that causes more anger and hollowness.
I know we are all aware that when TJ writes a book it isn’t about the down and dirty sex scenes and that's actually perfect for his stories. BUT this one...this one was sexy and heat. It is in no way filled with sex scenes but we do get that hot parts here and there! And each one fit perfectly and in no way felt like they were just put there to appease the readers. They were a part of the story!
But what I loved most of all in Wolfsong wasn’t even the writing or those scenes that gut punch us with all the FEELS but watching Joe and Ox grow and change together, becoming more complex as people, getting stronger together, and overcoming some serious obstacles in life. If for no other reason read this story for that!
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Everyday History by Alice Archer
Headstrong Ruben Harper has yet to meet an obstacle he can’t convert to a speed bump. He’s used to getting what he wants from girls, but when he develops a fascination for a man, his wooing skills require an upgrade. After months of persuasion, he scores a dinner date with Henry Normand that morphs into an intense weekend. The unexpected depth of their connection scares Ruben into fleeing.
Shy, cautious Henry, Ruben’s former high school history teacher, suspects he needs a wake-up call, and Ruben appears to be his siren. But when Ruben bolts, Henry is left struggling to find closure. Inspired by his conversations with Ruben, Henry begins to write articles about the memories stored in everyday objects. The articles seduce Ruben with details from their weekend together and trigger feelings too strong to avoid. As Henry’s snowballing fame takes him out of town and further out of touch, Ruben stretches to close the gaps that separate them.
This is not just a story about about a young man trying to figure out his sexuality. This isn’t a story about growing up and experiencing life to make sure you are ready for the tough things, the commitment things, the you are my world things. This is a story about a man who sees history in everything we touch, cherish, and have by our side through the everyday life. The picture of you and your best friend on your very first vacation together, the tea kettle that’s been handed down generation after generation in your family, or the hat your mom made you for the cold winter in your favorite color. This story not a=only shows us that love can persevere through distance and time but that our history is embedded in the very things we live with everyday.
Reuben is that guy we all knew in high school. The cocky, beautiful, popular guy that oozed charisma. But through the course of an internship something changed. Oh he was still beautiful and charismatic but some of that cockiness disappeared in the face of a major change in his sexuality. A change that made him unsure, naive, and enraptured with his teacher.
“His exuberance is incandescent. He doesn’t simply enter the classroom, he radiates into it, vibrant with life, as though fueled by an energy source of pure dazzle.”
Henry is smart, like I will make you love history without even knowing smart. On the surface he is exactly what you expect a history professor to be. Shy, wears glasses, tweed vest, ironed shirts..typical. Henry is anything but typical and lives with a secret of his past that holds him back in life and love. A past that literally sends him into panic at the mention of it. But after one weekend, a year after they met, Reuben brings him to life. This sends Henry on a course that changes his life.
“This feeling of awakening grows all through winter’s fear and into spring's tortured taunt.
By May’s countdown to the end of Reuben’s time as my student and his subsequent catapult away to college… I require him to leave. I ache for to him leave. To please just go.”
There is literally so much I LOVED about this story. Alice Archer writing style is somewhat poetic but not. It is unique style that helped make me love these two characters, The Historian and The Explorer, as Alice calls them in her book. You know how when you’re reading and a quote or paragraph catches you and you want to highlight it to remind you later of that part? I was so engrossed in this story I couldn’t even THINK to highlight anything but if I did most of the book would’ve been highlighted!
“Leaning into you and kissing you with all our clothes on that night was a million times better
than any other kiss I’d ever had.”
I loved how she took Reuben on a journey of self discovery that didn’t just take one week or one month but took time to slowly build to a place where he knew who he was and what he wanted. Where he was so sure of that in the end you never questioned whether someone his age could know. Henry, being the older of the two, definitely changed the least amount but he knew what he wanted in a relationship sense but what his discovery and journey was about what himself. Showing him he was more than his past, more than his last relationship, more than just the “typical” historian.
Even though through most of the book Henry and Reuben are not together the special way that Alice Archer writes this story with Henry’s articles, Reuben’s reactions to those articles, Henry’s letters to his cousin, Reuben’s experiences in love, and finally Reuben’s fight to get to Henry she makes you feel like they are on this journey together. I will not lie and say this was an easy read because it most certainly was not. It wasn’t the most angsty read I’ve ever read but it was painful, heartbreaking, and soul hurting kind of read that I love! The ending...that ending is worth EVERYTHING! I was on the edge of my seat until the very moment the happy started because this author doesn’t let you the reader off easy, doesn’t let you believe it’s all so easy and all tied up, she makes you work for that happy ending where you aren't sure if there is going to be one until it happens. Anticipation of what is to come is always the best!
I read this book in one night. One very long night that turned into morning. One night that had me on such an emotional rollercoaster I wasn’t sure if I wanted it to end to get to what I had hoped was the happy ending or for it to go on forever because it made me feel so much. One night that changed how I look at my everyday histories. That one night turned into days of emotional recovery and days of being able to gather my thoughts to write this review. This is the kind of book that makes me want to be a reader, makes me addicted to stories, and puts me in awe of authors.
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A Kind of Romance by Lane Hayes
Zeke Gulden is a ruthless Wall Street exec. His hard-edged, no-nonsense attitude has served him well in the cutthroat business world, but less so in his personal life. When he finds out his ex-boyfriend cheated on him with a coworker, Zeke can’t let go—not until he finds a way to get even. However, his meddlesome father has other ideas. The new hire at the family-owned bagel store is somewhat colorful, but his dad is sure he’s the perfect man for Zeke.
Benny Ruggieri is a fiercely proud New Yorker who dreams of making it big as a costume designer in the theater. In the meantime, he’s working two part-time jobs in the food biz. When his new boss sets him up with his successful son, Benny has zero expectations. If nothing else, he figures he can entertain himself by making the uptight businessman squirm. Instead, the two become unlikely friends with an inexplicable attraction they can’t ignore. Benny might be the one to help Zeke set aside his quest for revenge, if he’s willing to let go and forgive what he can’t forget… and give in to an unexpected kind of romance.
People say first impressions are everything. Ever met someone you knew who wasn’t your type after just one meeting because they were everything you thought you didn’t like? They were loud where you were reserved. They were spirited and snarky where you were subdued and straight-forward. They were full of life where you were full of...nothing. Now imagine getting to know this person realizing they may be just what you need.
Benny has dreams of making it big as a costume designer for the big stars on Broadway and eventually Hollywood. He is full of life and sass! He is beautiful and a slightly effeminate man who holds such a strength inside him that he is not afraid to be who he is, pink shirts and all. Benny’s new boss George, who we met in book one, is the owner of Bowery Bagels and whom everyone loves. George is determined to find that forever person for his son Zeke and he thinks that Benny is that guy.
“...It’s what’s inside that matters, Ezekiel. Don’t put up walls to hide the sunshine.”
Zeke is a high powered Wall Street executive who is great at his job and is at the top of his field. He works too much and when it comes to the people in his life, the few that there is, he keeps his distance. On the outside we see this strong and arrogant guy who hates being wronged and loves getting revenge on those that do him wrong. The moment he meets Benny at Bowery Bagels he thinks he is charming but weird and totally...fabulous, not in a good way and not for him. But he is also inexplicably attracted to Benny too!!
“ To say he was colorful would be a gross understatement. He was...flamboyant. And I was fucked.”
Zeke and Benny give into George's matchmaking in order to get the man off their backs but what ends up happening is totally NOT what they meant to happen. They are totally not each other's type and it can never be something serious or meaningful. Right? What starts out as surprising friendship turns into more. A kiss outside Antigua on their first “date” starts them on a path that is hot, passionate, intense and altogether unexpected.
“He tasted like honey and sunshine and something I’d always wanted but didn’t have the name for.”
To say that I loved Benny and Zeke together would be a gross understatement! They were the epitome of opposites attract in that explosive and possessive kind of way. Zeke is that stubborn guy who refuses to think that he needs to forgive his father, or that he needs to let go of his revenge towards his ex, and that maybe his life is changing for the better. He is fighting so hard to not admit his feelings for Benny are more than friends with benefits, even to himself.
“My heart flipped in my chest. I felt tangled in the moment. I didn’t want him to go.”
And it just needs to be said that from the first sexual encounter in the back of Zeke’s car these two light these pages on fire!! Truly some of the best smexy times I’ve read in a while. I loved the secondary cast of characters even the ones that you wish never stepped into the picture. The story line between Zeke and his father George was rough and raw but truly done so well. Oh and that epilogue? That was beautiful and loving and sad all wrapped up together. All the feels!
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Losing Faith by Scotty Cade
Father Cullen Kiley, a gay Episcopal priest on hiatus from the church, decides to take his boat, T-Time, from Provincetown, Massachusetts, to Southport, North Carolina, a place that holds an abundance of bittersweet memories for him. While on a run his first day in Southport, Cullen comes upon a man sitting on a park bench staring out over the Cape Fear River with his Bible in hand. The man’s body language reeks of defeat and desperation, and unable to ignore his compassion for his fellow man, Cullen stops to offer a helping hand.
Southport Baptist Church’s Associate Pastor, Abel Weston, has a hard time managing his demons. When they get too overwhelming, he retreats to Southport’s Historic Riverwalk with his Bible in hand and stares out over the water, praying for help and guidance that never seem to come. But Abel soon discovers that help and guidance come in many forms.
An unexpected friendship develops between the two men, and as Cullen helps Abel begin to confront his doubts and fears, he comes face-to-face with his own reality, threatening both their futures.
I fell in love with this story. There is nothing else that can describe how I felt reading this story. Straight from the Preface to the last page Scotty Cade created a story that simultaneously broke my heart and made me feel hope. I feel like it takes a certain kind of writer to write realistically about religion without it bogging down the story or turning into a preachy book. Scotty more than accomplishes this in Losing Faith!
Try putting yourself in a place of such loss that you are no longer actually living but merely existing, walking away from the one place that gave you peace because you feel betrayed, living a lie because of how you were brought up tells you that being true to yourself is wrong, or fighting everyday not only with yourself but with the people that you gave solace.
Cullen Kiley is a Episcopal priest who has been on a break from the church for the last 2 years after what he sees as a complete falling out with his faith. He decides to take his boat T-Time on a much needed vacation from his home in Massachusetts to Southport, North Carolina. A route and place he is not unfamiliar with. One that brings many bittersweet memories that he would much rather not think about. Ones he has avoided thinking about for the last 2 years. When finally decides that maybe moving onto another port that doesn’t hold such memories he comes upon Abel Weston sitting on a bench holding a bible looking...defeated. There is no way he can just run past this man without offering him the help he think he needs.
“He silently begged his legs to keep going, but it was no use. The damn things had a mind of their own and stopped right in front of the bench.”
Abel Weston a Associate Pastor at Southport Baptist Church has been fighting with himself for what feels like forever. When these feelings become too much he finds solace at the Riverwalk while sitting on a bench holding his bible praying for guidance. But he’s been finding himself more and more sitting on that bench still waiting for the guidance that never comes. Abel has had a rough life but has come out the other side a strong man with a life and people that at one time gave him purpose.
Cullen shook Abel’s hand and then impulsivity laid his other hand over Abel’s “And remember. Whatever you’re praying for, I know if you look deep enough in here, you’ll find all the right answers.”
While Cullen is trying to avoid his issues he is drawn to Abel in a way he can’t explain. He wants to be there for Abel to help him talk out his problems but what ends up happening is the building a new friendship. A friendship that on the surface is the thing they both seem to need but underneath something more is building. Something that Cullen isn’t ready for and that could cause Abel to lose everything.
“What a smile. If this is what he looks like while he’s carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders, he must light up the universe when he’s carefree.”
Back to my first point...I fell in love with this story! That just needed to be said again. Scotty is not a new to me author and I have loved all of his other books that I’ve read but this one is EVERYTHING!! There are just so many feels in this one. You go back and forth from heartbroken to hopeful to love then add a dose of sexy! Yes sexy but it’s beautiful! Cullen and Abel have this connection that you can feel right from when they first meet on that bench on the Southport Riverwalk. That connection keeps Cullen from running even if he doesn’t understand why. And watching Cullen struggle with moving on from the past or staying on his current path because of this connection with Abel was both heart wrenching and hopeful! Abel is scared of the feelings that Cullen stirs in him but can’t get himself to walk away. Of course with any story that includes religion there are those that don’t like the friendship between these two men and boy do they pay a big part for Abel. Losing Faith is low angst, sweet, hopeful story of two men coming to a crossroads in their faith and life.
“ A little lost. At a crossroads, maybe. And feeling forgotten and left behind, but other than that, I’m just dandy.”
Just read it! You will not be sorry! I promise.
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Soul Seekers by Jake C. Wallace
Nineteen-year-old college student Levi Reed has spent his life with hollow emotions and a darkness so deep that he’s convinced he’s losing his mind. He’d give anything to feel something, anything, real.
When a mysterious stranger appears, Levi is convinced the man is trying to kill him. When he’s near, Levi experiences head-crushing pain and something surprising—real emotions for the first time. Jeb Monroe is arrogant, self-assured, closed-off, and handsome, but he isn’t the harbinger of doom Levi assumed. Jeb’s mission: help Levi find his missing soul.
Levi is pulled into the secret world of Seers and Keepers, those born with the innate ability to manipulate souls and tasked with balancing the negative energy they can produce. Levi learns he possesses a rare gift, and he’s in danger. As Jeb and Levi grow closer, they discover a group of zealots who want to harness Levi’s power to cleanse the world of damaged souls. Everyone Levi cares for is threatened unless he agrees to become their tool of death. But agreeing could spell the destruction of humankind. With no one to trust and nothing as it appears, it’s up to Levi to save them all.
One sign of good book is when the world around me disappears so much that someone could probably come in and steal my TV and I wouldn’t notice! This book did that for me!
I cannot imagine living in such a state of fear, a fear you can’t control and one that comes from nothing, everyday of my life. Levi Reed does though, everyday for the last 19 years he has lived with fear inside of him but nothing else. He doesn’t feel, no anger, or sadness, or guilt only darkness. He knows he should. He knows he’s broken and is just a drain on his family especially his older brother Logan who has stood by him and rescued him from the fear more times that he should have too. One day things start to change because all of a sudden he feels pain such excruciating pain that he feels like he’s going to die but also real emotions for the first time! Will he accept what he is told of why he has lived with the fear and hollowness or will just accept this life as his fate?
Jeb Monroe is not who Levi thinks his is. He is arrogant and closed-off but he is there to do a job and that job is all about helping Levi get his soul back. Jeb has had a rough life one that keeps him focused on his job in hopes that one day he will find what he lost. But instead he gets Levi who he struggles to stay away from.
Soul Keepers in an urban fantasy books much different than any I have read. There are Seers and Keepers, Guardians and the Council, and The Righteous all who make up this fantastic story of people who can manipulate souls and the conflict born from that ability. The world that the author is able to build within a world we are already familiar with is truly amazing. There are so many details that this story required and he was able to put them across is such an easy to understand way that I was able to become enveloped by this story.
Levi and Jeb had this almost explosive love-hate chemistry right from the start. Which made their coming together even hotter and even though this was a slow build heat, once they came together it was magnetic! What I found ironic about these two was that although they lead very different lives they were, on the inside, the same. Each had this innate shyness and lack of self worth when it came to this relationship.
You never knew who you could truly trust because Jake was able to make me doubt so many of the secondary characters that the evil was hard to find and man that was excellent! Not many authors have I found with the ability to totally keep you off the trail of the actual bad person. Truly a very complex read but one that I super glad I was able to experience!
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The Hardest Fall by Christina Lee
Lee trades country ballads for show tunes in the next standalone book of her Roadmap to Your Heart series.
After licking his wounds from a painful relationship, Tate Sullivan is ready to move back home. He picks up where he left off as drag queen extraordinaire Frieda Love in a West Village bar in New York City. He doesn’t expect to be drawn to the mysterious man with the dark eyes who shows up to every single performance—flirtatiously eyeing Tate one second and disappearing on him the next. Why mess around with a guy who is clearly giving him mixed signals?
Sebastian Clark is on a mission the first night he shows up at Ruby Redd’s. He doesn’t anticipate his plan being flipped on its head by the charismatic drag queen and even more so by the mesmerizing man beneath the makeup. But the more he learns about the vibrant and brash Tate Sullivan the more intrigued he becomes. So he pushes aside his guilt about why he sought out the bar in the first place in order to get to know the guy behind the stilettos.
They’re opposites on many levels, but as Tate spends time volunteering with Sebastian at the shelter, he begins to feel good about himself in ways he hadn’t before. For Sebastian, Tate represents a sense of fun and freedom that is completely fresh and invigorating. Before they know it, their easy companionship catches fire, and Sebastian is kissing a man for the first time, while Tate is opening his heart to new possibilities. But Sebastian is still keeping a secret, and Tate will have to decide if he can trust again, or if the betrayal he feels from Sebastian’s confession is too much to overcome.
I have yet to read a Christina Lee book that didn’t in some way touch me and make me want to smish her characters and this one did not disappoint! This is the case of opposites attract and man are those some of the most hard won loves of all. We always say that we don’t want to fall in love with someone who is exactly like we are but Sebastian and Tate take opposites to a new point.
We get to meet Tate first or rather I should say Frieda Love in all her glory singing Lady Gaga wearing purple eye shadow and silver stilettos! Tate is a fun, sassy, outgoing, and confident guy who has been through some major heartbreak coming out the other side with a huge lack of trust and a rule of keeping men at a distance. But something about Dark Eyes draws his eye and encourages him to make nice. What happens is an eye opening friendship that sparks more. More feelings than Tate wants maybe enough to make him throw in the towel before it goes too far.
“We covered in scarlet read, our hearts mixing and tangling together to form a richer shade.”
Sebastian, Sweet, beautiful on the outside as well of the inside, Sebastian. I have claimed him as mine and I will not share :) Sebastian is this guy who has learned the hard way in life that honesty and truth is the best and only option. So when he seeks out Tate and finds Freida Love he can’t walk away because he finds them both beyond intriguing and beautiful. Night after night he goes back to Ruby Redd’s just to see Tate perform which leads to a friendship and guilt of why he was there in the first place.
“You think that’s what this is about? I don't give a damn who knows, I can’t do this...and it’s not for the reasons you think.”
I loved how different these two characters were not only in personality but in their approach to life. This is the thing that actually gravitates one to the other, that part of themselves they didn’t even know was there is opened up and shown the light of day. Sebastian opening Tate up to volunteering at Safe Harbor and realizing there are people in the world who can use all the help and support you can give. Tate showing Sebastian that he needs to open himself up to those close to him like his father’s long time employee Annie. I really truly understood Sebastian’s hesitation and fear in revealing his secret and although some might say it went on too long to me it was perfect because it seemed true to form for who Sebastian was.
Tate came alive to me in this book to the point that his innate sexiness came through in every movement and sassy line. As much as Sebastian is the warmth and heart character in this story once he comes into knowing who he is sexually, that sexy mouth gets to work and shows Tate some things! Oh and the YouTube video with Sebastian and the lipstick...have a fan ready, you are going to need it!
“I kissed him softer, harder, deeper, longer. Our tongues mingled and the lipstick smeared against my bare lips and chin.”
Christina wrote a love that really was layers of complex emotions and not just a basic does he get the boy storyline. What you also hoped and dared to dream for in this book was that they would find themselves and realize their own self worth. It is a low on angst, high on love, and scorching on sexy book. Go read it but remember Sebastian is mine :)
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