Saturday, May 30, 2020

New Release-Review & Excerpt: ALWAYS YOU by Nell Iris - Includes Giveaway!

Always You

by Nell Iris

Publisher: JMS Books
Cover Artist: Written Ink Designs
Release Date: May 30, 2020
Genre/s: Contemporary M/M Romance
Trope/s: Childhood friends to lovers
Themes: Self-discovery
Heat Rating: 2 flames 
Length: 11 000 words
It is a standalone story.

Buy Links

Best friends. Roommates. And now, maybe…more?


Thom Novak feels like a walking cliché: the gay guy desperately in love with his straight best friend, Lee. But he’s willing to keep his feelings hidden, to do whatever it takes, as long as they stay friends forever.

Lee Conway loves sharing an apartment with Thom, his best friend since birth, and would be happy doing it for the rest of his life…no matter his current girlfriend’s opinion on the matter. But he’s never been known for being in contact with his emotions.

When something happens to upset the status quo, Lee pulls away. Has Lee learned how Thom feels about him? Will it mean the end of their friendship? Or is there another reason Lee needs time to think? A more…hopeful reason?


The next morning, I’m one hundred and ten percent certain something’s wrong. It’s 6:17 AM and I’m waiting for Lee in the kitchen, leaning against the sink, trying to make my glass of water last so I have an excuse for hanging around, doing nothing but staring in the direction of his bedroom.

Every morning, we go out running together at 6 AM on the dot. Without fail, come rain or shine, weekend or workday. The only exception is if either of us is sick or if it’s a world-ending kind of storm outside. And Lee is a stickler for being on time: between him and me, I’m the one who’s always late and leave him waiting impatiently for me to get ready.

And now it’s almost twenty past six and he hasn’t showed his face yet?

Outside, it’s a lovely May morning. The birds are chirping, waking up the neighborhood, and the first rays of sun promise to finally heat up our corner of the world. So no world-ending storm in sight, and yet he’s nowhere to be seen.

Is he dying?

Any other day, I would march into his room, pull off his down comforter, and yell in my best—albeit not very good—imitation of a drill sergeant—Get up, get up, get up!—but today I’m strangely reluctant.

On one hand, I want an explanation for his weird mood from yesterday—and his tardiness!—but on the other hand I still want to give him time if he needs it. And part of me isn’t entirely sure I’m not over-reacting.

But I can’t help thinking that it has to be something about me. What if he found out how I really feel about him and can’t deal with it? Not that I can recall doing something to show my hand, but I can’t be sure.

Maybe it’s something Debora said? Did she figure me out and tell him? She’s never shown any homophobic tendencies, so I don’t think that would be the reason. But maybe she’s jealous? She wouldn’t be the first of Lee’s girlfriends to be jealous of our close friendship, and I can’t really blame her if that’s the case.

But that can’t be it either. Every time someone has complained about our friendship in the past, Lee’s shut them down immediately. He wouldn’t accept it from her. And to be perfectly honest, Debora has always been friendly and nice whenever we’ve met and not shown any indication of being jealous.

And I’m back to thinking he must have figured out how I feel about him, even though it seems highly unlikely. I mean, I haven’t told him specifically—or written my feelings down on a sign—but whatever it is, I hope it won’t come between us.

I can live without having Lee Conway as my life partner, but I can’t live without his friendship. Losing it would kill me.

In the end, I decide to give him time, and live with his ire if it turns out he overslept—yeah, right!—and I neglected to wake him. I shove my feet into my shoes and head out on my own.

Running alone is weird. Lee is the whole reason I’m a runner at all; when he decided he wanted to become a professional football player when he was ten, he told me he needed to start taking his “fitness routine” seriously and he was going to start running every morning. When I made a disgusted face over the thought of getting out of bed in the buttcrack of dawn to go out and run of all things—wake me up and take me to the library and I would have been game, but running?—he zeroed in on me and started lecturing me on how even science geeks needed to stay healthy. He went on and on—and quoted me honest-to-god, real, actual facts!—until I broke down and agreed to come along. I’ve never been one to resist science. Or Lee. And the combination was deadly even when I was ten.

Carra's Review

Always You is a sweet lifetime best friends-to-more short story that can be enjoyed by anyone looking for something to brighten your day.  The short length of the story still allowed for quite a bit of emotion to shine through.  Could it have been longer?  Of course.  Did it need to be in order to make me smile and give me a relatively complete look at Thom and Lee’s relationship?  Not at all.  The author balanced this one perfectly to give the reader a quick yet satisfying happy ever after tale that can be read in two hours or less.

Thom is a sweet guy, pining away for his supposedly straight best friend for way too long.  Even though as a reader you can be pretty confident of the direction things will go, it was still gratifying to see everything come together.

This is a great pick-me-up story if you just need a smile, and for me it was a solid 4-star read.  

About the Author 

Nell Iris is a romantic at heart who believes everyone deserves a happy ending. She’s a bona fide bookworm (learned to read long before she started school), wouldn’t dream of going anywhere without something to read (not even the ladies room), loves music (and singing along at the top of her voice but she’s no Celine Dion), and is a real Star Trek nerd (Make it so). She loves words, bullet journals, poetry, wine, coffee-flavored kisses, and fika (a Swedish cultural thing involving coffee and pastry!)

Nell believes passionately in equality for all regardless of race, gender or sexuality, and wants to make the world a better, less hateful, place.

Nell is a bisexual Swedish woman married to the love of her life, a proud mama of a grown daughter, and is approaching 50 faster than she’d like. She lives in the south of Sweden where she spends her days thinking up stories about people falling in love. After dreaming about being a writer for most of her life, she finally was in a place where she could pursue her dream and released her first book in 2017.

Nell Iris writes gay romance, prefers sweet over angsty, short over long, and quirky characters over alpha males. 


Enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway for a chance to win

one of five copies of your ebook choice from Nell's backlist

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Cover Reveal & Giveaway: KINGS OF THE MOUNTAIN by Morgan Brice

Kings of the Mountain

Author: Morgan Brice

Cover Artist: Natania Barrron
Release Date: May 21, 2020
Genre/s: Urban Fantasy, MM paranormal romance
Trope/s: Hurt/comfort, mutual pining, friends-to-lovers,  childhood best friends, second chance
Themes: coming of age, forgiveness for self and others, crush maturing into love, letting go of guilt, family
Heat Rating: 4 flames 
Length: 63 000 words/238 pages

It’s the first in a new series

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Fast cars. Outlaw country boys. 

A love that can’t be denied. 

Snarky werewolves, vengeful ghosts and menacing monsters. 


Fast cars. Outlaw country boys. Snarky werewolves, vengeful ghosts, and menacing monsters.

Dawson King’s family has been hunting things that go bump in the night in Transylvania County, North Carolina, since before the Revolutionary War.

Dawson was never happier than when he was racing his souped-up Mustang along winding mountain roads and hunting monsters with his best friend, Grady. Then Grady fell in love with him, which should have been perfect since Dawson had already fallen hard for Grady.

But Grady was only seventeen, and Dawson feared that sooner or later, Grady would realize his feelings were just a first crush, and then he’d be gone, leaving Dawson devastated. They both needed space to figure things out. So Dawson joined the army, while Grady stayed on the mountain.

Four years later, Dawson is coming home. He’s more sure than ever Grady is his forever love, and they’ve both agreed to begin this new aspect of their relationship as soon as Dawson gets back.

Then Grady’s father is killed in a werewolf hunt gone wrong. Grady is devastated, and he’s throwing mixed signals about moving forward. Dawson knows he needs to hold off on this new thing between them until Grady has time to grieve. But monsters never sleep, and one hunt after another throws Dawson and Grady into constant danger, while tension and unresolved feelings ripple between them.

Making it even harder, Dawson’s got a secret. He’s dreamed of death omens—which point to something stalking Grady. Can Dawson figure out who’s trying to kill Grady, save his life, and win back his heart?

Plenty of mutual pining, hurt/comfort, spooky chills, sexy thrills, and a very happy ending. The Kings of the Mountain is the first novel in the series. It is a MM romance intended for readers 18 years of age and older.

About the Author 

Morgan Brice is the romance pen name of bestselling author Gail Z. Martin. Morgan writes urban fantasy male/male paranormal romance, with plenty of action, adventure and supernatural thrills to go with the happily ever after. Gail writes epic fantasy and urban fantasy, and together with co-author hubby Larry N. Martin, steampunk and comedic horror, all of which have less romance, more explosions. Characters from her Gail books make frequent appearances in secondary roles in her Morgan books, and vice versa.

On the rare occasions Morgan isn’t writing, she’s either reading, cooking, or spoiling two very pampered dogs.

Series include Witchbane, Badlands, Treasure Trail, Kings of the Mountain and Fox Hollow. Watch for more in these series, plus new series coming soon!


Enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway for a chance to win

one of three ebooks from Morgan's backlist.

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Re-Release-Review & Giveaway: FAME AND FORTUNE by TM Smith (Stories from the Sound #2)

Fame and Fortune
Series: Stories from the Sound Book 2
Author: TM Smith
Genre: M/M Romance
Release Date: May 16, 2020


I’ve built a life, a home and a business from the ground up with Andrew by my side every step of the way. Fame, fortune and a family was the promise I made him ten years ago; and with hard work and dedication we did it, together. Neither of us even realized something was missing until a skittish young man with a haunted look in his eyes walked into our office.

Victor never doubted who he was, even when he lost everything.

Still a boy when he came to America with his strict, traditionalist Romanian parents, Victor’s Romani upbringing taught him their traditions as well as discipline and perseverance. When he told them he was gay he knew it would be difficult for them to understand, but he didn’t expect them to disown him.

Andrew knew Victor was his soulmate after spending just one night together.

Raised by a single mom, his father disinterested in his role most of the time, Andrew thrived in the chaos. The only thing his dad ever did for Andy that stuck was buy him a camera for his thirteenth birthday. When he went off to college on a scholarship to study photo journalism, he wound up finding so much more than he expected.

Together they created an online businesses that blossomed and grew, the result a family that was as different as they were committed to one another.

Matthew was homeless, jobless and… broken.

At just sixteen he ran away from home after a brutal assault, his parents tossing him aside like garbage. Matthew has done a lot of things over the years living on the street in order to survive. When he finds the flyer for All Cocks, he decides to call and see where it leads. What has he got to lose?

Can three men that did not know they needed each other get past the stigma of society to find a place of happiness, together?

**Trigger warning-Sexual assault**

NOTE: This story was previously published as Fame and Fortune, All Cocks Stories book 2. It has been edited and reworked with a lot of new content added to the story.

Buy Links: Kindle Unlimited

Carra's Review

After reading the first book in this series, I was truly intrigued by the characters of Victor, Andrew and Matthew and how their relationship came about. Here in Fame and Fortune, we get to go back to the point at which Matthew entered their lives and see exactly how they meet and evolve together...which turns out to be a very interesting tale.

You can't help but feel for Matthew after finding out everything he's been through in his life. I wanted to give his parents a very large piece of my mind, and as for his "friends" from high school--I don't see how anyone who reads this wouldn't want to just rip them apart.

There's a lot of emotion in this story, along with a lot of compassion once Matthew is brought into the All Cocks family. To see what he goes through, even as he is starting to heal, pulls at your heart and gives you a lot of food for thought. It's quite satisfying to witness how he makes his way into Victor and Andrew's lives, home and hearts.

The one thing that continually stands out is how carefully Andrew and Victor handle Matthew's situation once they hear his story, and how they thoughtfully manage his entry not only into their business, but into their lives and hearts.

Fame and Fortune is another great story in the All Cocks series, and with the updates in this new edition, it has an even more rounded, full feel to the story.  It’s an even deeper look into all three men, a more complete look at their lives.  I’m looking forward to many more enjoyable books to come with these characters. 4.5 strong, emotional stars for Fame and Fortune, recommended for M/M fans 18+ due to language and explicit sexual content, as well as the sexual assault scene in the blurb's warning.



In The Series: Kindle Unlimited

Gay for Pay (Stories from the Sound book 1)

Amazon US - Amazon UK - Amazon DE - Amazon AU - Amazon CA

Author Bio

A military brat born and raised at Ft. Benning Georgia; TM Smith is an avid reader, reviewer and writer. A Texas transplant, she now calls DFW her home. Most days she can be found curled up with a good book, or ticking away on her next novel.

Smith is a single mom of three disturbingly outspoken and decidedly different kids, one of which is Autistic. Besides her writing, she is passionate about Autism advocacy and LGBT rights. Because, seriously people, Love is Love!

Friday, May 8, 2020

New Release-Review: SEADRAKE by J.A. Jaken (The Dragon Mage Chronicles Book II)

(The Dragon Mage Chronicles Book II)
by J.A. Jaken

Length: 67,000 words
Genre: Fantasy, Adventure, M/M Romance


After much deliberation, Andrei chooses to bring his inexperienced and highly unusual apprentice to the far-off island of Sutan-lei, where the eminent mage-scholar Master Luth is rumored to abide. It is Andrei’s hope that Master Luth will have answers to the growing mystery he and Jander began to uncover in the city of Tempest as well as help his apprentice gain some degree of mastery over his unique—and highly unpredictable—prowess in the magic. But even as they struggle to piece together the puzzle in front of them, their enemy is close behind them every step of the way...and he is determined not to let the two of them get in his way.    

Preorder Links

Carra's Review

Continuing on with the Dragon Mage Chronicles, this time we get a deeper look at the intricacies of the magic itself as Andrei and Jander seek out information to help them in their quest.  Here you’ll find a closer examination of the “why” of magic, as we see Jander finding a greater understanding of it, and of his place and role.  

Granted, this means this book is much lighter on the action—at least until the more adventure-centered last quarter of the story—but it also lets readers form a better grasp of the possible meaning behind Kirin’s actions, as well as the moral responsibilities that being a dragon mage present to Jander.  This gives Seadrake a more somber tone, which is balanced not only by the deep bond he’s formed with Andrei, but also by the resolve Boaen and Tanith display as their little group strengthens.

For those looking for the action, you’ll find it in the last quarter of the story as the danger from the latest dragon reaches its peak.  I did find the resolution this time around just a tiny touch anti-climactic given the story and that final skirmish up to that point, but plenty happened along the way to keep me solidly on board with the overall adventure.

Along with the seriousness of this story came a point for Boaen that truly wrenched my heart, and while his situation might not be the primary focus of the series, the author has made his character so endearing that I am just as fully invested in his happiness as I am in Jander and Andrei’s…I really need to see him get his own happy ending when all this is said and done.

Note that this book is really not meant to stand alone—you really should have read Stormdrake first, and I also strongly recommend you read the prequel, The Magician’s Apprentice before starting the series to understand the full backstory of Jander and Andrei’s relationship.  Once you’ve done so, you’ll have a better appreciation of what the characters have gone through up to this point, and see the progress they’ve made personally and with each other.  4.5 stars for Seadrake…now bring on the fire!  Keep in mind when starting this series it is meant for readers 18+ due to adult language and sexual content.

About the Author

J.A. Jaken has been writing fictional stories and novels for more than ten years, most frequently in the fantasy and science fiction genres. She got her start in the profession writing slash fanfiction, where she has published numerous stories under the pen-name Rushlight. Over the years she has written short stories and novels in genres ranging from science fiction/fantasy to gothic horror to modern detective mysteries, most with at least a touch of m/m romance to them. She lives at home in the southwestern U.S. with her college-aged son, a cat, and the family Rottweiler. Outside of writing, her interests include studying foreign languages, practicing martial arts, riding horses, and collecting medieval weaponry.

Monday, May 4, 2020

New Release-Review & Excerpt: VARIABLE ONSET by Layla Reyne

Variable Onset
by Layla Reyne

Publisher: Carina Press
Genre: M/M Romantic Mystery/Suspense
Series: N/A
Standalone: Yes
Tropes: Fake Marriage, Forced Proximity, Opposites Attract, Undercover LEOs, Single Dad, Hot for Teacher

A mystery whodunit with a romantic will-they-or-won't-they.

Purchase Links


To catch a killer, a special agent and his former student will need to get close—to their target, and each other. 

When the serial killer known as Dr. Fear seemingly reemerges after a cooling-off period, Special Agent Lincoln Monroe wants on the case. He knows his research on the calculating criminal, who targets couples and uses their worst fears to kill them, could prove invaluable. But nothing can prepare Lincoln for the agent waiting for him in Apex, Virginia: a brash and cocky former student. Carter Warren is everything Lincoln is not, and somehow everything he wants. And they’ll be going undercover. As newlyweds.

For Carter, seeing Lincoln again—and flustered to boot—pokes his raging bear of a crush something fierce. He thinks posing as lovers will provide the perfect bait for Dr. Fear. But pretending to be married forces them to confront fears of their own…like giving in to the very real chemistry between them.

With evidence pointing to the possibility of a copycat killer, Lincoln and Carter will have to race to separate truth from fiction. But when another couple goes missing, finding the killer will test every ounce of their training, skills and the strength of their bond like never before. 


Lincoln bent to pick his socks up off the floor, and Carter admired his firm, round ass in well-worn jeans. He’d never seen Lincoln this dressed down before. Not that the professor wasn’t handsome in slacks, a button-down, and argyle, but jeans, a tee, and said argyle was a look Carter could get behind.


That gray tee and pink-and-purple argyle rucked up around his torso, those jeans stretched around lean, muscular thighs, that perfect ass in the air, pale skin flushed for the kisses Carter would like to…

A sharp clap broke through the fantasy unspooling in Carter’s head. Lincoln was on his way back from the mudroom off the kitchen, exasperation painting his face, as if he could see inside Carter’s head. “Explain this,” he said, using his ring finger to gesture between them. “Beverley said I was going undercover as the new librarian at Apex U and that my partner on this case would be teaching a survival course to Apex PD. He said nothing about living together or pretending to be married.”

“Because I asked him not to,” Carter replied. Lincoln opened his mouth, no doubt to protest, but Carter spoke again first. “It wasn’t only Agent—Senator—Kirk who asked for you on this case. I asked for you too. You are the Bureau’s resident expert on Dr. Fear. But it doesn’t take an expert to know who Dr. Fear targets.”


Carter nodded and waited for the implication to register.

It took a few seconds, but then Lincoln paled and braced a hand on the end of the island. “You want us to be bait?” he squawked.

Carter dipped his chin to hide his grin. When he was sure his face was in order again, he lifted it and said, “If they’re active again, or even if this is a copycat, who better to lead the killer to than to two trained agents instead of to more innocents?”

Carra's Review
One fact that is indisputable is that Layla Reyne is an expert at writing romantic suspense.  This time around here in Variable Onset, the story relies more heavily on the suspense and mystery, with the romance being more incidental to everything else that’s going on.  But as a reader you’re so pulled into the intrigue of the case that you may not realize that the relationship that’s developing until it creeps up on you in unexpected moments.

Lincoln has pretty much fallen into being more on the analytical side of things, not just due to the nature of his work’s concentration but also as a result of his more introverted personality.  It was really easy for me to identify with his character since that is me to a T.  Carter’s more outgoing disposition lends itself more to his work in the field working undercover along with his ability to insinuate himself into most any environment.  Right there you have the opposites attract thing going, and if you add that to the age gap and former professor/student dynamic, there’s plenty to attract most readers to their matchup.

With the case being the stronger focal point of the story, it’s easy to be pulled down into the rabbit hole…because let’s face it—when Layla Reyne is writing a story with mystery and suspense, you never know where things will lead or who the actual bad guy is.  She definitely kept me on my toes here trying to guess who the perpetrator was, and that in turn kept me on edge for the majority of the book.

You can’t go wrong when picking up one of this author’s romantic suspense stories, and for me Variable Onset wound up being a 4.5-star read.  This story is a standalone, so no worries if you haven’t read any of her books previously.  Finally, with the adult language and a small amount of sexual content (though there’s plenty of sexual tension throughout), this book is meant for readers 18+.

About the Author
Layla Reyne is the author of Dine With Me, and the Fog City, Agents Irish and Whiskey, Trouble Brewing, 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.