Monday, September 30, 2019

Review & Giveaway: BITTER HEAT by Leta Blake (Heat of Love #3)



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Length: 110,000 words approx.
Cover Design: Dar Albert @ Wicked Strange Designs


Heat Of Love Series

Book #1 - Slow Heat - Amazon US | Amazon UK | Universal Link
Book #2 - Alpha Heat - Amazon US | Amazon UK | Universal Link


Blurb

A pregnant omega trapped in a desperate situation, an unattached alpha with a lot to prove, and an unexpected fall into love that could save them both.

Kerry Monkburn is contracted to a violent alpha in prison for brutal crimes. Now pregnant with the alpha’s child, he lives high in the mountains, far above the city that once lured him in with promises of a better life. Enduring bitterness and fear, Kerry flirts with putting an end to his life of darkness, but fate intervenes.

Janus Heelies has made mistakes in the past. In an effort to redeem himself, integrity has become the watchword for his future. Training as a nurse under the only doctor willing to take him on, Janus is resolute in his intentions: he will live cleanly in the mountains and avoid all inappropriate affairs. But he doesn’t anticipate the pull that Kerry exercises on his heart and mind.

As the question of Kerry’s future health and safety comes to an explosive head, only the intervention of fate will see these desperate men through to a happy ending.

This gay romance novel by Leta Blake is the third in the Heat of Love universe which began with Slow Heat. It’s 111,000 words, with a strong happy ending and a critically-acclaimed, non-shifter Omegaverse. It features alphas, betas, omegas, male pregnancy, mpreg, heat, and knotting. Content warning for a violent and oppressive society regarding reproductive rights.


Carra's Review

After reading Alpha Heat, the second book in this series, my curiosity was already piqued regarding Janus, so I was eager to get started on Bitter Heat to see how he’d be redeemed.  To be honest, it had been a while since I’d read the second book when I started this one so it was almost like I was starting from scratch—and that’s actually a good thing on two fronts.  

First, it means if you haven’t started this series you won’t be lost if you’re reading this one first.  There’s enough background to allow Bitter Heat to stand on its own.  Second, I went into this story with a neutral attitude towards Janus thanks to the time gap between reading books two and three.  For me, that means it was easier to give Janus a chance and not allow my opinions from before color my perception of him now.

I did feel like the beginning of the story started off a bit slowly, but after about a third of the way in things started picking up.  As with the other books in the series, the writing is solid and the world building as strong as before.  And the sex scenes?  Once they get started, it’s hard to decide which of the books in the series have the steamiest ones.  I mean, damn…talk about getting tingles…

While I did correctly interpret the subtle signs the author planted throughout the story regarding Janus and Kerry’s relationship, I have to say I was slightly disappointed that she went that route as the way to resolve the issues with Kerry’s contracted alpha and his family.  Don’t get me wrong—I absolutely do NOT begrudge Janus and Kerry anything at all; I love them together, and I love how their situation allowed things between them to develop slowly on an emotional level (not a physical one though…once that starts, it’s off to the races for these guys).  I just was hoping (like one of the supporting characters was as well) that things would lead to a successful challenge on the legal as well as cultural/religious levels to start making headway for omegas in this world.  I guess I’ll be holding on to that hope for now.


Bitter Heat was a 4-star read for me overall, but I will say that the relationship development and Janus and Kerry’s physical chemistry were 5+ stars all the way.  As I mentioned previously, this story could be read as a standalone, but you’ll get a lot more satisfaction from it if you read this series in order…which will also give you better insight into the road Janus traveled to get here.  This book is meant for readers 18+ for adult language and erotic sexual content.


About the Author

Author of the bestselling book Smoky Mountain Dreams and the fan favorite Training Season, Leta Blake’s educational and professional background is in psychology and finance, respectively. However, her passion has always been for writing. She enjoys crafting romance stories and exploring the psyches of made up people. At home in the Southern U.S., Leta works hard at achieving balance between her day job, her writing, and her family.




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Review & Giveaway: ROMANCING THE ROUGH DIAMOND by Clare London



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Length: 244 pages
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Design: Alexandria Corza


Blurb

Romancing The...

Trust is the most precious jewel of all.

When Mayfair jewelers Starsmith Stones wins the commission for a gay royal wedding, CEO Joel Sterling is recommended to the brilliant young designer Matt Barth—only to discover Matt’s the man with whom he shared an anonymous and passionate kiss on the celebration night.

Disenchanted with the commercial jewelry industry, Matt nowadays prefers muddy archaeological digs to designing. Openly resentful of Starsmith’s hostile takeover of his family’s firm, he is horrified at the realization he’ll be working with the man who engineered that deal—but the opportunity to create something fabulous and unique for the royal couple is too tempting to refuse.

Working as a team reignites the spark between Joel and Matt. But when betrayal from within Starsmith threatens both the project and Joel’s confidence, will they have built enough trust to keep their newfound love as precious as the royal jewels?

Carra's Review

The fourth entry in Clare London’s “Romancing the…” series, Romancing the Rough Diamond was an entertaining read for me, and fits well with the series.  I always like when books start out with a fun or steamy first meet scene, then come back with the “that was YOU?” type of second meeting to throw things off between the main characters.  It’s how they find their way back to that chemistry of the first meeting that then draws me in.

The author does a great job of that here, and though at times Matt can come across as exceedingly gruff, his tendency to put his foot in his mouth helped endear him to me and balance out the brusque exterior.  He feels very much like an Everyman amongst some more polished characters.

The matchup of him with Joel is a good one, and while there are trust issues that cause some havoc (which I’m kind of on the fence about), I thought the two of them made a great couple.  


This one’s bouncing between 3.5 and 4 stars for me, leaning closer to 4.  If you’re a fan of the series—or just M/M romance in general, you’ll enjoy this latest story…though I do confess that Ugly Duckling is still my favorite ;-)  This book is for readers 18+ for adult language and sexual content.


About the Author

Clare London took her pen name from the city where she lives, loves, and writes. A lone, brave female in a frenetic, testosterone-fueled family home, she juggles her writing with her other day job as an accountant.

She’s written in many genres and across many settings, with award-winning novels and short stories published both online and in print. Most of her work features male/male romance and drama with a healthy serving of physical passion, as she enjoys both reading and writing about strong, sympathetic, and sexy characters.

All the details and free fiction are available at her website. Visit her today and say hello!



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Sunday, September 29, 2019

New Release & Giveaway: COAST TO COAST by RJ Scott & V.L. Locey (Arizona Raptors #1)



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Length: 57,412 words 
Cover Design: Meredith Russell


Blurb

When opposites attract, it’s not just the team that’s in for a shake-up.

When a stipulation in his father’s will throws Mark back into a family that disowned him, he has only two things on his mind; buying his way out of contractual obligations and running in the opposite direction as fast as he can. When neither option pans out, he finds he is now a one third owner of the struggling Arizona Raptors hockey team, and that is just about the worst thing he could have happened to him. Not only does he hate hockey, but the Raptors are a bottom-of-the-league team, rife with jealousies and anger in a locker room that only knows self-pity. How is he supposed to help turn things around when the only way to start fixing things is to form an alliance with the estranged siblings he’d run from fifteen years earlier?

Then there’s Rowen Carmichael, a stubborn, opinionated, irritating man with superiority issues and questionable taste in music. Butting heads with Rowen, who he’d never even wanted to hire in the first place, is one thing, but there is no way in hell that he will allow the growing attraction to the new coach become anything more. Until with everything on the line, he has to make decisions that will change his life forever.

After years of collegiate coaching, Rowen is given an offer that he simply can’t refuse, although perhaps he should. When he’s presented with the chance to take one of the worst teams in the league and mold them into a future cup contender, the challenge is just too alluring to pass up. He leaves his beloved Ontario behind and moves west to the arid city of Tucson where he is faced with a broken team, shoddy management, and players overflowing with resentment and bigotry.

Never in his twenty years of hockey has he ever seen such a raging dumpster fire of an organization. Yet there’s something about this team and this city that compels him to roll up his sleeves and start dismantling. He has his eye on a new associate coach that’s bound to makes waves, and several key players who should be sent packing. Now all he has to do is convince the new owners of the team that his choices are for the best. If only Mark Westman-Reid, one of three siblings who now own the Raptors, wasn’t so damned rock-headed, so damned snooty, and so damned appealing his job might be a bit easier.


About the Authors

USA Today bestselling author RJ Scott writes stories with a heart of romance, a troubled road to reach happiness, and most importantly, a happily ever after.

RJ Scott is the author of over one hundred romance books, writing emotional stories of complicated characters, cowboys, millionaire, princes, and the men who get mixed up in their lives. RJ is known for writing books that always end with a happy ever after. She lives just outside London and spends every waking minute she isn’t with family either reading or writing.

The last time she had a week’s break from writing she didn’t like it one little bit, and she has yet to meet a bottle of wine she couldn’t defeat.

She’s always thrilled to hear from readers, bloggers and other writers. Please contact via the links below:



USA Today Bestselling Author V.L. Locey – Penning LGBT hockey romance that skates into sinful pleasures.

V.L. Locey loves worn jeans, yoga, belly laughs, walking, reading and writing lusty tales, Greek mythology, Torchwood and Dr. Who, the New York Rangers, comic books, and coffee. (Not necessarily in that order.) She shares her life with her husband, her daughter, one dog, two cats, a pair of geese, far too many chickens, and two steers.

When not writing spicy romances, she enjoys spending her day with her menagerie in the rolling hills of Pennsylvania with a cup of fresh java in one hand and a steamy romance novel in the other.



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Monday, September 23, 2019

Review, Excerpt & Giveaway: DINE WITH ME by Layla Reyne - Includes Author Q&A!


Layla Reyne’s DINE WITH ME is a contemporary m/m romance following a dying chef on a last tour of his favorite meals, and the travel companion who must convince him he’s more than his taste buds and that the cost of love is worth living for.


Dine With Me

Release Date (e-book and audio): September 16, 2019

Blurb

Life never tasted so good.

Miller Sykes’s meteoric rise to award-winning chef is the stuff of culinary dreams, but it’s all crashing down around him. He’s been given a diagnosis that could cost him something even more precious than his life: his sense of taste. Rather than risk the very thing that defines him, Miller embarks on a last tour of his favorite meals while he still can.

But there’s a catch: he needs a financial backer to make it happen, and he doesn't want anyone to know he's sick.

Dr. Clancy Rhodes has two weeks to come to terms with putting aside oncology to work at his father’s thriving plastic surgery practice. When the opportunity to travel with a Michelin-starred chef presents itself, the foodie in him can’t believe it. It doesn’t hurt that Miller’s rugged good looks are exactly Clancy’s cuppa joe.

As Clancy and Miller travel from coast to coast and indulge in everything from dive bars to the most decadent of culinary experiences, they’re suddenly sharing a lot more than delicious meals. Sparks fly as they bond over their love of flavors and the pressures of great expectations. But when Miller’s health takes a turn for the worse, Clancy must convince him he’s more—so much more—than just his taste buds. And that together, they can win a battle that once seemed hopeless.

One-click with confidence. This title is part of the Carina Press Romance Promise: all the romance you’re looking for with an HEA/HFN. It’s a promise!

Links





Miller and Clancy's delicious courtship will make foodie romance fans swoon. Readers will be rooting for that HEA from the first page.
– Adriana Herrera, author of the Dreamers series

Breathtakingly emotional and deeply resonant, this foodie trip romance will have you reaching for the
tissues and cheering at the well-earned happily ever after for one of my favorite couples. This one
lingered with me and made me hungry!
Annabeth Albert, author of the Frozen Hearts series

Exclusive Q&A with Layla Reyne 

  • Can you share with us something about the book that isn’t in the blurb?
LR: It’s not just Miller and Clancy in this story. There’s a supporting cast of characters—family, of the blood and found sort—that I absolutely adored writing. And they support, first and foremost. No one here is trying to foil or divert our main characters, and I love that about this story. They are there to support Miller and Clancy, as best and as full-of-heart as they can.

  • Are there any secrets from the book (that aren’t in the blurb), you can share with your readers?
LR: Every place Miller and Clancy visited is a place I’ve dined or based on a place I dined. (Sadly, a few of my favorites had closed!) Each place in this book is as special to me, for my own reasons, as it is for Miller and Clancy. For instance, one of the stops is The French Laundry, which is where my husband and I got married, so it holds a special place in my heart too.

  • Does one of the main characters hold a special place in your heart? If so, why?
LR: Ohmigod, they both do. This story has been rattling around in my head since 2015. It was on the initial list of project ideas I gave my agent. There’s a lot of me in both Clancy and Miller (more so Clancy, my husband more so Miller), but it’s really a love letter to all the amazing dining experiences I’ve been so lucky to have in my life.

  • What is the significance of the title?
LR: It starts as the opening line of the advertisement Miller posts for the tour. It also ends the book in a way that still makes me happy sigh.

  • What is the future for the characters? Will there be a sequel?
LR: This is a standalone, so there won’t be a sequel. Though keep your eyes peeled for a special project involving one of the secondary characters.

  • If you had to describe character Miller Sykes in three words, what would those three words be?
LR: Loyal, Self-Sacrificing, Stubborn

  • If you had to describe character Clancy Rhodes in three words, what would those three words be?
LR: Earnest, Honest, Risk-taker

  • If your book was to be made into a movie, who are the celebrities that would star in it?
LR: Oh, this is easy (since the book has been in my head for YEARS). I’ve always had Clive Standen as my fancast for Miller and Grant Gustin as my fancast for Clancy.

  • Was the writing process different and what challenges did you face writing contemporary romance versus romantic suspense? 
LR: I couldn’t just throw a car chase or explosion in when I needed to pick up the pace! But seriously, I really did have to dig deep to center this one more on emotions, more on the journey of these two men, individually and potentially together in the future. That’s what’s driving the story, versus my usual twisty plot.



Exclusive Excerpt 

Seventies Santa laid a hand on Clancy’s hip, and the connection between Miller and Clancy snapped, the latter’s attention drawn to the interloper. Miller was off his stool the next instant. If he thought too hard on it, he’d reverse course and walk out the door instead of onto the dance floor. Let Clancy pursue things with the attractive man who was clearly interested in him. Who wouldn’t be? And why shouldn’t it be Santa? It sure as hell shouldn’t be Miller, who had a death sentence hanging over his head.

He had no business making any sort of claim on Clancy. No business getting more involved with him, even if only for the week they had left together. No business shoving his body between Santa’s and Clancy’s, knocking Santa’s hands off him, and grasping Clancy’s hips. No business, when Clancy grinned and stepped forward, coasting his hands over Clancy’s hips and splaying his fingers across the curve of that perfect ass.

Santa ceased to exist, Clancy’s attention totally on him.

“Dancing,” Miller shouted over the music. “Wouldn’t have figured.”

Clancy leaned forward, speaking right into Miller’s ear. “Did you miss the part where I like d*ck and live in WeHo?”

Laughter bubbled out of Miller, and Clancy’s goofy smile made him impossibly sexier. That body, those moves, and still the irrepressible brightness. Miller stepped closer, swiping back Clancy’s damp hair and letting his fingers drift slowly through it. “F*ck, you’re stunning.”

Smile wide, Clancy draped his arms over Miller’s shoulders and brought their bodies into brushing contact. “Dance with me, Chef.”

Miller didn’t even care about the slip, not when it was uttered in that low, sexy voice, seducing him into movement.

Song after song, they swayed and writhed in sync, their bodies like magnets inching closer and closer. Miller couldn’t say how many songs it was before his forehead fell against Clancy’s and the last bit of distance between their bodies vanished. The instinct was there to close the distance between their mouths too, but almost as strong was the profound relief rushing through Miller. He’d needed this release, needed to let go and forget about everything except moving his body in time with the gorgeous man in his arms. Clancy had known that, had recognized it while they’d sat at the bar, and had made it happen. He’d been exactly what and who Miller needed tonight.

“Thank you,” Miller whispered.

“You’re welcome.” Clancy’s warm breath tickled his lips. “But this is ninety-five percent selfish on my part.”

“It’s one hundred percent selfish on mine.”

Clancy looked up with dilated eyes, only a thin ring of dark green visible. He licked his lips, and if he hadn’t spoken, Miller would have claimed them. “I’m more than okay with that.”

Unhooking his arms from behind Miller’s neck, Clancy ran his hands over Miller’s shoulders and down his arms, tracing the ink. They traveled back up, then down his chest, fingers curling in Miller’s T-shirt. Clancy dragged them backward until his back hit the wall. Miller tried to slam on the brakes, not wanting to crush Clancy, not wanting to eat him alive in public, but Clancy kept hauling him forward. Cheek to cheek, chest to chest, Clancy slid a knee between Miller’s legs and pressed his thigh up against Miller’s straining c*ck. Clancy canted his hips, revealing his own need, and Miller couldn’t stop himself from rocking forward. He shoved a hand between the wall and Clancy’s ass and grabbed a handful of cheek, holding Clancy and his d*ck tight to him, chasing after this feeling. Heat, relief, life, desire, all driving him higher. He snuck his other hand under the hem of Clancy’s shirt, dragging his fingertips through the sweat at the small of his back. A shiver raced through Clancy, and Miller thrust his hips again. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d been this turned on, had felt so wanted while also wanting so much.

Clancy nipped his earlobe. “Be selfish a little longer.” He dragged his lips along the line of Miller’s beard and over his cheek, angling toward his mouth.

Miller wanted to taste him, more than he’d ever wanted to taste anything. Wanted to taste the hot, flushed skin behind Clancy’s ear, the sweat from his back that slicked Miller’s fingers, and the softly curving lips that had tempted Miller every time they’d closed around a damn fork. He wanted to know how the bitter, spicy sweetness of the Vieux CarrĂ© mixed with Clancy’s own unique flavor.


Carra's Review

Dine With Me is a marked change of pace than what I’ve come to expect from this author.  It’s a very slow burn romance with not a touch of suspense in sight, but there are plenty of feelings with the contemplative look into Miller’s life and what’s brought him to this point, as well as Clancy’s own introspective analysis of his own choices in life.

Since I had to set aside my usual expectations for this author with the abrupt change of pace Dine With Me brought to the table compared to her usual intense romantic suspense stories, I approached this story with a more laid-back, reserved attitude.  It does move more sedate pace than I’m used to (not just from this author), and Miller and Clancy’s relationship is the very definition of slow burn.  Emphasis is placed more on their individual issues, and how their personal choices affect not just them but the other people in their lives.

The story takes a more serious tone, while still allowing for gradual relationship development that still has enough intensity to poke at readers’ feelings.  There’s also a lot of food references—after all, Miller and Clancy are on a culinary tour so you’re going to find plenty of descriptions that might make you a bit hungry…especially if you’re a foodie.


Ms. Reyne’s departure from her usual fare worked out well here in Dine With Me, which was a solid 4-star read for me.  If you’re already a fan of the author, set aside your preconceived notions about her stories as they won’t apply here.  Instead, you’ll find something emotional and touching that may even cause you to tear up (I came close!).  This story, while light on the physical intimacy, still has enough going on to make it an 18+ read for adult language and sexual content.


About the Author

RITA Finalist Layla Reyne is the author of the Agents Irish and Whiskey, Fog City, and Changing Lanes series. A Carolina Tar Heel who now calls the San Francisco Bay Area home, Layla enjoys weaving her bi-coastal experiences into her stories, along with adrenaline-fueled suspense and heart-pounding romance. She is a member of Romance Writers of America and its Kiss of Death and Rainbow Romance Writers chapters. Layla is a 2019 RWA® RITA® Finalist in Contemporary Romance (Mid-Length) and 2016 RWA® Golden Heart® Finalist in Romantic Suspense.




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Saturday, September 21, 2019

New Release-Review & Giveaway: FLASH RIP by Keira Andrews



Buy Links: 


Exclusive to Amazon and Available to Borrow with Kindle Unlimited

Length: 290 pages
Cover Design: Wicked Smart Design


Blurb

The most dangerous current is between them.

Training to be a lifeguard at an Australian beach is tough work, but Cody Grant loves a challenge. He spends long days in the sun and surf rescuing swimmers from treacherous rip currents while trying not to lust after senior lifeguard Liam Fox—who is deeply, painfully closeted.

Liam was supposed to be a football legend. Now in his mid-thirties, it’s been over a decade since his dream shattered along with his knee. Fans still recognize him regularly, and he's terrified his sexuality will be discovered and his conservative parents will reject him. He has strict rules to protect his secret and keeps everyone at arm’s length. Liam never acts on his need to surrender after being shamed for it years ago by the first and only man he trusted.

Out and proud Cody fascinates Liam—and tempts him to break all the rules.

Cody is practically half Liam's size and age, but has the confidence and compassion to take charge and give Liam the release, affection, and acceptance he desperately craves. But how long can a secret affair satisfy their hearts? As if saving lives isn’t hard enough, Cody faces his greatest challenge yet convincing Liam to trust him and find the courage to live out loud.

Flash Rip is an M/M gay romance from Keira Andrews featuring a slow burn, an age gap, scorching first times, and of course a happy ending. 



Carra's Review

Combining a few different elements that I enjoy into one great story, Flash Rip was a great read with characters that were interesting and some quick bursts of action when they had to go into lifesaving mode.  There’s a bit of an age gap, one very closeted former professional athlete, sizzling sex scenes, and hot lifeguards everywhere.

Cody is definitely comfortable in his own skin, and with being out.  Liam though has been in the closet for a very long time, to the point where he’s ultra-disciplined at hiding what he really wants from everyone.  Once Cody comes onto the scene though, cracks begin to appear in Liam’s previously solid armor.  Thus begins his journey of acceptance.  I loved how well the two of them fit together, and I have to say Cody’s patience when it came to how paranoid Liam was about anyone finding out about him was pretty strong.

There are quite a few supporting characters from Cody and Liam’s fellow lifeguards to their respective family members, and all of them help contribute to the story.  I was especially fond of their boss (and Liam’s best friend) Teddy with how supportive he was not just of Liam but of Liam and Cody together.  Liam’s family members’ reactions went how I thought they would, which made their story more realistic.

The scenes with them at work patrolling the beach and the rescues gave the story just the right amount of drama to help divert from Liam’s constant fear of being found out, while also bringing some extra excitement.  I liked the setting, even though I’m not much of a beach person myself.


Flash Rip was a 4.5-star read for me, and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this to any M/M romance reader.  This story is meant for readers 18+ for adult language and sexual content.


About the Author

After writing for years yet never really finding the right inspiration, Keira discovered her voice in gay romance, which has become a passion. She writes contemporary, historical, fantasy, and paranormal fiction and — although she loves delicious angst along the way — Keira firmly believes in happy endings. For as Oscar Wilde once said:

“The good ended happily, and the bad unhappily. That is what fiction means.”





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