Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Review & Excerpt: IMPERIAL STOUT by Layla Reyne (Trouble Brewing #1)

 Imperial Stout 
by Layla Reyne

Series: Trouble Brewing #1

Publisher: Carina Press
Release Date (Print & Ebook): Ebook/Audio – July 23, 2018; Print – July 31, 2019
Length (Print & Ebook): 272 pages
Subgenre: M/M Romantic Suspense

Purchase Links:


Layla Reyne spins off from her pulse-pounding Agents Irish and Whiskey books with Imperial Stout, the first installment in the Trouble Brewing series

It’s a good thing assistant US attorney Dominic Price co-owns a brewery. He could use a cold one. Nic’s star witness has just been kidnapped, his joint operation with the FBI is in jeopardy, his father’s shady past is catching up with him and the hot new special agent in San Francisco is the kind of distraction best handled with a stiff drink.

Kidnap and rescue expert Cameron Byrne has his own ideas about how to handle Nic, but his skills are currently needed elsewhere. The by-the-book FBI agent goes deep undercover as a member of an infamous heist crew in order to save Nic’s witness, break up the crew and close the case before anyone else gets hurt. Nic in particular. 

Things heat up when Cam falls for Nic, and the witness falls for Cam. As the crew’s suspicions grow, Cam must decide how far he’s willing to go—and how far into his own dark past he’s willing to dive—to get everyone out alive.


Nic was silent a long minute, the building tension heavy in the small space. “This is why you’re not supposed to get involved with colleagues.”

Finally, an opening. Cam closed the distance between them, winding his arms around Nic and hugging him from behind. Body warm, despite the cool night, Cam wanted to get even closer to it. They might both get burned, but he was done watching the fire from a distance, holding himself back from the heat.

“Technically, we’re not,” he said.

“You have an answer for everything, don’t you?”

“If it wins the argument with you, yes.”

Nic chuckled, hanging his head, and Cam skirted his nose and lips along the nape of his neck. Nic’s quiet laughter died on a breathy gasp.

Carra's Review

Layla Reyne has been an auto-buy author for me ever since I read Single Malt with her always well-written books.  Imperial Stout just reinforces that decision—well thought out plot, intriguing storyline with oodles of suspense, and just enough romance…or at least attraction and heat…to get things started between Nic and Cam.  

The romance is not the center of the story—the suspense of the case takes the main stage here with plenty of complications and action to keep things hopping.  There’s also more than one story arc—you have the case that both Nic and Cam are working on, but there’s also an interesting subplot that gets brought to the forefront a few times involving Nic’s father that has a very unwelcome impact on Nic’s life.  That impact comes at some rather inopportune times when it comes to their case as well.

The relationship between Nic and Cam develops slowly since it has to take a backseat to their case.  But that doesn’t mean their feelings don’t effect the things they do or decisions they make—adding a bit more complication than they were expecting, and a situation Cam was trying to avoid.  When things ramp up between them though, things do get very hot very fast!  And while I would have liked to have seen more between them, it wouldn’t have worked in the framework of this book…but since I know there’s more to come in the series, I’m looking forward to seeing more of their relationship development as the series progresses.

This story is packed with suspense, and at times you don’t know with some characters which side they are really on.  That ever-present uncertainty along with the action, great character interactions, and getting several favorite characters from the Irish & Whiskey series as supporting characters here all had me glued to this book—I read it in a single sitting.

Imperial Stout was a 4.5-star read for me, and I’d highly recommend it to fans of M/M romantic suspense.  While you can read this as a standalone, I would personally recommend reading the Agents Irish & Whiskey series first for background on the characters from that series who play a part in this book (don’t worry—you’ll love it).  Now I can’t wait for the next book in the series to see what’s going to happen next with Nic’s father’s issues, but there’s also the promise of more regarding Cam’s past as well!  Note that this book is meant for readers 18+ for adult language and sexual content.

About the Author

Author Layla Reyne was raised in North Carolina and now calls San Francisco home. She enjoys weaving her bi-coastal experiences into her stories, along with adrenaline-fueled suspense and heart pounding romance. When she’s not writing stories to excite her readers, she downloads too many books, watches too much television, and cooks too much food with her scientist husband, much to the delight of their smushed-face, leftover-loving dogs. Layla is a member of Romance Writers of America and its Kiss of Death and Rainbow Romance Writers chapters. She was a 2016 RWA® Golden Heart® Finalist in Romantic Suspense.

New Release-Review, Excerpt & Giveaway: THE CASE OF THE SEXY SHAKESPEAREAN by Tara Lain

A cozy mystery with a tongue-tied nerd of a history professor tempted by a gorgeous graduate student and millions of dollars if he can solve one of history's greatest mysteries -- who was Shakespeare really?

The Case of the Sexy Shakespearean
by Tara Lain


Dr. Llewellyn Lewis leads a double life, as both an awkward but distinguished history professor and the more flamboyant Ramon Rondell, infamous writer of sensational historical theories. It's Ramon who first sets eyes on a gorgeous young man dancing in a club, but Llewellyn who meets teaching assistant Blaise Arthur formally at an event held for wealthy socialite Anne de Vere, descendant of Edward de Vere, seventeenth Earl of Oxford-who some believe was the real Shakespeare. Anne wants Llewellyn to prove that claim, even though many have tried and failed. And she's willing to offer a hefty donation to the university if he succeeds.

It also means a chance for Llewellyn to get to know Blaise much better.

Not everyone thinks Llewellyn should take the case-or the money. Between feuding siblings, rival patrons, jealous colleagues, and greedy administrators, almost anyone could be trying to thwart his work... and one of them is willing to kill to do it.

When Anne de Vere turns up dead, the police believe Blaise is the murderer. Only the shy, stuttering professor who has won his heart can prove otherwise...

Available for purchase at


Well, damn. He slowly released a breath and took another as Blaise Arthur appeared in the kitchen doorway.

Blaise looked from Llewellyn’s face to his hand, just inches from grasping the handle of a butcher knife. “Whoa. Hang on, Jim Bowie. Sorry to scare you. Your door was standing open, and I was a little worried that you’d decided to run for Alaska or hang yourself by one of Van Pelt’s neckties.”

A laugh bubbled up from Llewellyn’s belly. That description so perfectly described his options, he just kept chuckling until all three cats looked at him like he was nuts. Marie relaxed her puffed-up fur seemingly one hair at a time, flicked her tail, and returned to her chicken dinner.

Finally he managed to stop laughing. “Uh, how d-did you know w-where I live?”

Blaise cocked his grin to the side. “I followed you, and I must say, I had to move pretty fast to do it.”

What the hell? “W-why?”

“I told you. Suicide prevention.”

Was he disappointed in that answer? He spread his arms. “A-as you see.”

“Feline-feeding duty.”

“I’m a cr-crazy cat lady.”

Blaise leaned against the door, arms crossed, one nicely muscled leg cocked over the other, and a sexy-as-hell grin on his face. “Neither crazy nor a lady so far as I can see.”

“S-so what do you want?”

“There’s a challenging question. Just accept my mother-of-compassion routine at face value and offer me a drink.”

He still frowned. “B-beer? Wine?”

“Beer would be great.”

Llewellyn loved craft beers and took two bottles of Red Headed Stranger from his cooler.

He opened and poured them into pilsner glasses and handed one to Blaise, who stared at the bottle. “Whoa, exotic.” He sipped. “Delicious.”

“From R-Reno.”

“I’ll remember it.”

Llewellyn gestured to the hall and led Blaise back to the big living room with its high ceilings, elaborate crown moldings, and polished oak floors. He sat in an easy chair and indicated that Blaise should sit on the comfortable couch.

Blaise sipped and gazed around. “This is quite a house. How old is it?”

“N-nineteen twenties or thirties.” Why was he chitchatting? What’s he doing here?

“Is it a family home?”

“S-sort of.”

“Are you gay?”

“What?” Llewellyn frowned. “Uh, y-yes. E-everyone knows th-that.”

“Yes, I read it, but I wanted to ask.” He grinned.

The cats padded in, Marie making a straight shot to Llewellyn’s lap, where she turned and stared at Blaise while washing her face and paws.

“She’s the formidable one.”

“Oh y-yes.”

“What’s her name?”

“Marie Antoinette.”

He laughed. “Perfect. Marie, I’ll make it my personal objective to woo you to my side.”

That implied some long-term association.

Blaise took another big mouthful. “It looks like you have a nice life.” He set the still partly full glass on the coffee table and stood. “I’m glad. Thanks so much for the beer.” He walked toward the door. What the hell?

Llewellyn stood, getting a squawk from Marie. “W-why did you ask if I-I’m gay?”

Blaise glanced back over his shoulder. “Because I am.”

“I-I know.” Jesus, why did I say that?

“Am I that obvious?” But he smiled.

Llewellyn shrugged. “No. So?”

Blaise laughed. “See you at work.”

Carra's Review
I’m not normally one to read cozy mystery books, but I thought I’d check this one out since it also included romance and I’ve enjoyed many of this author’s books previously.  A bit of corniness, a convoluted mystery, and it seems that everyone—yes, pretty much everyone—has a secret.

Llewellyn is so sweet and adorable, nerdy but incredibly intelligent, and yes he’s got a secret too with his “other life” as Ramon Rondell.  As the beyond introverted Dr. Lewis, he wants nothing to do with most other people and would prefer to be left to his academic research.  As Ramon, his published works are much more sensational—as is the personality of Ramon himself…the complete opposite of Llewellyn’s everyday persona.

Blaise is one of those guys who can charm just about anyone, and his behavior is a bit suspect from the start.  But he does truly like Llewellyn, and quickly understands the man’s shy ways.  His secret is a doozy, but there’s plenty of that going around in this story.

The mystery does keep things quite interesting, and I kept changing my mind as to who the “bad guy” was supposed to be.  Even at the end with the reveal I was still surprised.  There is romance between Blaise and Llewellyn, but the mystery does take center stage for the majority of the book.

Llewellyn and Blaise make for an unlikely couple, but one I enjoyed and hoped once secrets started getting revealed that they’d be able to make it through in the end.  This story was between a 3.5 and 4-star read for me, and I’m interested to see what other stories will come out of this series.  This book is meant for readers 18+ for adult language and sexual content.

About the Author

Tara Lain writes the Beautiful Boys of Romance in LGBT romance novels that star her unique, charismatic heroes. Her best-selling novels have garnered awards for Best Series, Best Contemporary Romance, Best Erotic Romance, Best Ménage, Best LGBT Romance,  Best Gay Characters, and more. Readers often call her books “sweet,” even with all that hawt sex, because Tara believes in love and her books deliver on happily-ever-after. In addition to writing dozens and dozens of romance novels,  Tara also owns an advertising and public relations firm. Her love of creating book titles comes from years of manifesting ad headlines for everything from analytical instruments to semiconductors. She does workshops on both author promotion and writing craft. Together with her soulmate husband and her soulmate Dog, she recently realized a vision to live where there were a lot more trees and a lot fewer cars by moving to Ashland, Oregon. She hasn’t stopped smiling since. 

Monday, July 30, 2018

Cover Reveal & Giveaway: LOVING A WARRIOR by Melanie Hansen

Pre-Order Links: 

Length: 77,300 words approx.
Publisher: Carina Press


BUD/S: six months of the most intense training there is. It’s survival of the toughest, and Matt Knytych is determined to come out the other side a navy SEAL.

Distraction is life or death. And just the sight of former marine Shane Hovland is enough to shake Matt’s concentration.

Shane came to BUD/S training ready to prove himself—again. Semper Fi is forever, but he needs a new start. Not this dangerous heat with a man he barely knows.

Everything they’ve ever wanted is riding on a thin, punishing line. And they’ll have to fight for more than just each other if they want to make it through intact.

After all, the only easy day was yesterday.

Author Bio

Melanie Hansen has spent time in Texas and Florida prisons…for work. She’s been in a room with a 17-year-old mass murderer who was also one of the most soft-spoken and polite teenagers she’s ever met. After a 13-year career as a court reporter, she can tell many stories both hilarious and heartbreaking.

She grew up with an Air Force dad, and ended up marrying a Navy man. After living and working all over the country, she hopes to bring these rich and varied life experiences to her stories about people finding love amidst real-life struggles.

Melanie left the stressful world of the courtroom behind and now enjoys a rewarding career transcribing for a deaf student. She currently lives in Arizona with her husband and two sons.


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Review & Giveaway: FUSION by Posy Roberts (North Star Trilogy #2)

Buy Links: 

Cover Design: Olive Us Designs

North Star Trilogy

Spark (Book #1) - Amazon US | Amazon UK
Flare (Book #3) - Amazon US | Amazon UK - Pre-Order


Kevin and Hugo make plans to blend their lives, but bleak news changes everything. Building a future together is still a priority, but only if their relationship can survive.

Love strengthened by adversity.

Everyone in Kevin’s life knows him as straight rather than bisexual. There was no need to come out until now, but loving Hugo is worth any prejudice he’ll encounter. Hugo does his best to be patient while Kevin navigates his way toward openness, but he refuses to be put back in a closet for long.

Kevin wants to tell his kids without screwing up their newfound stability, and he worries about telling his ex because Erin might use the truth against him to renegotiate custody. Kevin wants it all finalized, but time isn’t on his side.

When Erin gets grim news, it shakes everyone to the core and rips Kevin away from the life he planned with Hugo. The news brings Hugo’s past hurts bubbling to the surface. Yet when Erin turns to Hugo for support, their new connection shows him how essential he is to Kevin and his kids.

Despite the chaos, it’s clear Hugo is very much a part of this unconventional family.

Carra's Review

After how much I loved the first book in this trilogy (Spark), I couldn’t wait to dive right in to Fusion to see how Hugo and Kevin’s relationship would progress.  What was waiting for me was a lot of angst, drama, and a continual unsure feeling throughout the story as Erin’s “grim news” turns into the major story arc.

For me, the heavy concentration on that news and its affect on the entire family did become almost overwhelming at times.  It does provoke character growth for Hugo, but even more so for Kevin, who suddenly has much more responsibility than he’d had before.  It also changes the dynamic of their relationship as their “unconventional family” takes shape.

In Fusion, we not only get to read from Hugo and Kevin’s points of view, but there are also some scenes where Erin is the one we’re hearing from.  This does provide the unique perspective from someone outside the relationship, but still incredibly close—and not just because she’s Kevin’s ex.  Her acceptance of their relationship and her need to see them happy without feeling they have to hide was admirable, and leads to a turning point for them as well.

I was not a fan of Erin’s parents and their views, but especially not of how they spoke about Hugo and treated him.  Erin and her brother Russell though, they do get some very big hugs from me.  Summer, Hugo’s best friend, is back in this story and is just as supportive now as she was in Spark…she even gets a bit of her own happiness here too.

Overall, Fusion was a 4-star read for me.  The more somber tone of the story and focus on Erin’s situation made this a more serious read, but still had moments of love and beauty (the scene in the ocean in particular…sorry, there’s my teasing you for this review).  I’m so very ready for the final story in this trilogy to see how things finally play out for Hugo and Kevin!  Before reading Fusion, it is necessary for you to read Spark—this cannot be read as a standalone.  Also, this book is meant for readers 18+ for adult language and sexual content, but also be aware that serious health issues take center stage for this story, which may upset some readers who have gone through something similar with their own family or friends.

Author Bio

Posy Roberts started reading romance when she was young, sneaking peeks at adult books long before she should’ve. Textbooks eventually replaced the novels, and for years she existed without reading for fun. When she finally picked up a romance two decades later, it was like slipping on a soft hoodie . . . that didn’t quite fit like it used to. She wanted something more.

She wanted to read about men falling in love with each other. She wanted to explore beyond the happily ever after and see characters navigate the unpredictability of life. So Posy sat down at her keyboard to write the books she wanted to read.

Her stories have been USA Today’s Happily Ever After Must-Reads and Rainbow Award finalists. When she’s not writing, she’s spending time with her family and friends and doing anything possible to get out of grocery shopping and cooking.


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