[764]: Raze by Roan Parrish

I can always count on Roan Parrish to deliver stories with a lot of heat and plenty of heart. Raze, the third installment to her Riven series, is yet another testament to this fact.

Here, we get the story of Huey, the AA sponsor extraordinaire who owns and runs a bar of all places. Not only is he a former addict himself, but he managed to become an anchor for a few who continues to fight their demons day in and day out. Though at some days, he too, has his demons to fight. But through a rigorous routine and living a life free from emotional entanglements, Huey has managed the life of sobriety for the last ten years. Albeit, a lonely one at that.

Along come Felix; a guy who is about to shatter Huey’s carefully created world. Huey was not ready for Felix’ sunny disposition, but he couldn’t help but be drawn in regardless. These two souls didn’t know it at first, but they — in their own ways, needed each other’s help to break free from the doldrums of their existence.

I love how different they are. Huey’s quiet but imposing personality matches well with Felix’ happy-go-lucky friendliness. However, they have being nurturers in common. Felix has been the caretaker of his family – his mom and his sister. While Huey has taken care of anyone who needed the support during their weakest moments. Unfortunately, the years of being everyone’s pillar and support, and his predisposition to help others becomes yet another weakness he had to overcome.

Felix had so much insecurities that held him back. He just didn’t think he has a lot to offer to anyone. Once he was freed from his family responsibilities he was able to step back and reassess what he wants to do with his life. Unfortunately, it wasn’t as easy. The usual insecurities plagued him.

I’ve been enjoying this series a whole lot. I’m not always aware when they come out, but when I see it, it’s an instant download. I guess you can say that Roan Parrish is my go-to author for M/M romance.

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Romance Reads Round Up


Hello. This week, I’m featuring a couple of books that I’ve requested from Net Galley. One came highly recommended by Nick of The Infinite Limits of Love blog and the other is one that I just stumbled upon during my Net Galley hunt. In any rate, both of these were wonderful reads.


Luck of the Draw
by Kate Clayborn
4/5 Stars


As a former corporate attorney in a world run by money and politics, Zoe has a lot of guilt burdening her shoulders. Winning the lottery have afforded her to quit her job. But idleness and boredom gave her too much time to think about her past sins. So much so that she’s started a jar of guilt instead of a jar of blessings.

One of those guilts is the O’Leary’s. They lost their son to a drug dependency from the pharmaceutical company she represented. He committed suicide. The way she handled the case has given her sleepless nights. She was callous about their grief. She wanted to make amends; apologize, at least. That brought her face to face with a taciturn, Aidan O’Leary – who just happens to be their son and the person who found his brother’s dead body.

Aidan wasn’t going to give her an easy out so he proposed that she stand in as a fake fiance, all because the owners of the camp he wanted to buy has a very staunch belief in family.  The camp is a way for him to absolve of the guilt of losing his brother. It’s where they both grew up. Unfortunately, a lie is a lie, is a lie.

This book is more than just a tender, and at times, tumultuous romance. Zoe and Aiden were obnoxious together at first. The only thing they had in common was Aiden’s brother. Unfortunately, he was the burden of guilt that was sometimes too big for them to ignore.


Riven
by Roan Parrish
4/5 Stars


I’m a huge fan of Ms. Parrish.  I haven’t read a book by her that I didn’t like. She conjures up the best, broken characters who find partners that will either save them or will be each other’s salvation. The same could be said for Theo & Caleb.

Theo is the lead singer for the band, Riven. He shot up to popularity and had become an instant celebrity. However, he’s not dealing well with fame. He’s a homebody; an introvert who prefers the quiet solitude of his apartment. On one of his rare breaks from touring, he stumbled upon Caleb singing all by himself at a bar. Their connection was instantaneous.

Caleb’s former life was sort of similar to Theo’s. But he let his celebrity status get the best of him and had turned to drugs and alcohol. He’s long since straightened out his life, though. But that doesn’t mean he’s willing to jump right back into the melee. And that’s exactly what he would be doing if he starts a relationship with Theo. Regardless of the sizzling chemistry between them.

Caleb was consumed with fear with the thought of a relationship with Theo. He’s terrified that being with him would bring back his old demons. So he was very skittish and would waffle between the intensity of his feeling towards Theo and feeling like he’s going to substitute one addiction for another.

Theo is such a sweet character. He understood the precarious situation Caleb was in. He knew he had to give him time to acclimate to the idea of them being together. But sometimes, he wasn’t a very patient person. I was frustrated with Caleb, though. the push and pull thing he put Theo through wasn’t a fun thing to witness. Otherwise, this book was a fantastic read. Roan Parrish does M/M romance well that it’s not hard not to get addicted.

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[702]: Guarding Mr. Fine by HelenKay Dimon

Funny, sexy, and a whip-smart follow up to an already enjoyable series.


Guarding Mr. Fine
by HelenKay Dimon

This series gets better and better with each installment, you guys. I’ve been loving everything that HelenKay has been giving us! I was especially looking forward to reading Seth’s story because he was hilarious in the previous books. I knew that there’s more to him other than the smart ass CIA agent we’ve come to know and he didn’t disappoint.

In here, he’s tasked to guard the newly appointed US consul general in Munich. However, he knows that it’s a cover for something else because no one knows anything about the guy. He seems to have come from out of nowhere. There’s something mysterious about his background and the real reason why someone inexperienced like him got the job. Not only does Seth knew next to thing about this guy but he’ll figure out soon enough that Rick Fine knew him in more ways than one.

One of the things that I look forward to when I read a romance novel is the serendipitous meeting of the main characters. Admittedly, their meet-cute wasn’t so cute. They went from 0-60 in a blink of an eye. It was kind of hot! They met at a bar and hit it off so well that they ended up having a tryst in the shaded part of the club. They thought it was a one-off thing, a one-night stand without sleeping together. But they had another thing coming since Ric knew a bit more about Seth than Seth knows about Rick. Their history is for you to find out, readers.

Rick Fine was sent to investigate the apparent suicide of the former consulate general. But the investigation is only a front for why he was there. As usual, there’s never a dull moment in this installment. Aside from the sleuthing that the boys were involved in, the romance will also have you engrossed. There’s a battle of egos and dominance between the two that heightens their chemistry to a fever pitch. What else could I ask for, right? Seth is a man-of-the-world kind of guy. He doesn’t have a commitment phobia per se, but he’s smart enough to know that a relationship between two CIA agents is not realistic nor it is advisable. So yeah, he’ll do what he can to sabotage his feelings towards Rick. There’s also that history thing that I mentioned above. Whatever it is, Seth has to learn to forgive and forget if he ever wants their relationship to foster.

Overall, HelenKay has been hitting all the right notes with her books. I keep saying I need to read more books by hers, but it keeps slipping my mind. Well, adding the rest of her books on my wishlist for future downloads when I’m in need of something fun, fast, and sexy.

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[652]: The Talented Mr. Rivers by HelenKay Dimon

29966804
The Talented Mr. Rivers by HelenKay Dimon
Series: End of the Line, #2
Source: Publisher via Net Galley
Loveswept | September 13th, 2016
Adult Fiction | M/M Romance | Suspense
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars


As the son of an international crime lord, Will Rivers only inherited one thing after his father died: trouble. The Pentasus organization deals in kidnapping and murder, and Will wants no part of the power grab that’s tearing leadership apart. But the only way he’ll be able to escape is with some help from his former bodyguard, Hunter Cain, whose sculpted body and brooding looks keep Will awake at night. Somehow, Hunter has resisted the tension between them . . . until, suddenly, he gives in.

As a German intelligence officer working deep undercover, Hunter has a very good reason to keep Will in the dark about his identity and his intentions. Although the sex is hot, Hunter’s true feelings are a growing liability. Now the only way to save Will from his old life is to push him deeper into danger. But when two strong men are each determined to protect the other, the heat isn’t just combustible—it’s a firestorm.


I couldn’t be happier to get an email notification from Loveswept that this book was available for request on Net Galley. I became an instant fan of Ms. Dimon after reading the first book of this series, Mr. and Mr. Smith. I was easily swept away by her suspenseful and sexy spy novel filled with the type of he-man characters I love reading about in an M/M romance. I knew I had to get my hands on Will Rivers’ story as soon as it became available because the glimpse of what was to come at the end of the first book was nowhere near enough. This book will not be out until September 13th, but heck, letting it sit in my iPad unread is just too much a temptation for someone like me.

We met Will Rivers and Hunter Cain in the first book. Hunter is a member of a German secret agency working with the CIA to stop The Pentasus organization from selling more weapons and secret agents to terrorists. In the first book, Hunter was playing Will’s bodyguard. Being the heir to a dangerous family who has enemies left and right puts will in a constant precarious situation at all times. He needed someone to keep his ass on the line and Hunter was more than happy to provide that for him.  Will and Hunter’s interactions, though, limited was explosive in the first book. And at the end of Mr. and Mr. Smith, Will and Hunter got separated. I was dying to see the reunion between the two.

So we opened this book with Hunter tracking the elusive Mr. Rivers. The reunion was as heated as I’d expected it to be. I knew that they were bound for a head on collision. The sexual tension that has followed them from the first book exploded in the most glorious way! But with the organization still on Will’s heels, and with another weapons group vying to marry into the family, the danger was far from over. And even though Hunter can protect him to the best of his ability, he would do everything to give Will a chance to get his old life back as a carefree student in the States. More than anything, he wanted Will out of the life and the legacy of his family. The couple has a lot of problems to work through, but it was fun seeing them face the issues together. In some way, they’re like the pairing from the first book: tormented with the decisions they’ve made with regards to their relationship.

We also see the return of the CIA motley crew – to my delight. They are as every bit sarcastic and hilarious as I remembered them to be. Ms. Dimon was so efficient in bringing these characters to life. Their personalities clash and meld in perfect synchronicity. This installment was pleasurably fun, sinfully sexy, romantic, and suspenseful in every sense of the word. As much as I’d loved reading this installment way ahead of its release, I’m a little sad I have to wait forever and a day for the next one.

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[632]: Mr. and Mr. Smith by HelenKay Dimon

27876307 LOVESWEPT | May 24th, 2016
E-Arc via Net Galley
Suspense | Romance | M/M
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars


Fisher and Zach are CIA agents in a secret relationship. But that’s not all they’re hiding. Neither of them disclosed their true occupations to each other. So when Zach got kidnapped by an organization supplying arms to terror cells, Fisher had no choice but to give in to their demands and surrender himself to rescue Zach. What Fisher doesn’t know, however, is that Zach was neck-deep in a case that he himself has been working on for months.

I feel like I should insert an ominous soundtrack right here. Actually, I would have to insert them in random spots throughout the story because it was certainly that suspenseful. This book was so much fun. It had enough humor to cut through the tension. And the relationship drama between Fisher and Zach was oh, so addictive. At times, I wanted to slap Fisher because he refused to see what was in front of him. All he kept focusing on was that Zach lied (as much as he did, mind you!). He was so stubborn.

There was no doubt how much Zach loves Fisher, though. He was ready to sacrifice himself just to save Fisher. These two has chemistry in spades, and even though they frustrated me on many occasions, I rooted for them. Oh, man. The sex scenes were hot. Lol. Nothing like the threat of death to amp up the intensity in the bedroom.

But this book is not only all about sex and romance. After all, they are CIA agents who were up against some very dangerous criminals. The torture sessions were a bit hard to take. It was suspense all the time, so it left very little room for boredom. Ms. Dimon melded romance and suspense well. A one-sitting type of read, honest.

 

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[601]: Status Update by Annabeth Albert

26162169Status Update by Annabeth Albert
Series: Gaymers, #1
Publication Date: December 7th, 2015
Format: E-ARC via Net Galley & Carina Press
Adult Fiction | M/M Romance
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars


Adrian Gottlieb is winning at life. He’s a successful video game designer with everything a man could ask for, including a warm comfy ride to Denver and a date for his sister’s wedding. But he finds himself in need of a total reboot when he’s left stranded at a snowy campground in Utah. Holiday plans? Epic fail.

That is until Noah Walters offers him shelter for the night and a reluctant cross-country ride. Nothing about the ultraconservative geoarchaeologist should attract Adrian, but once he discovers Noah’s hidden love for video games, the two connect on a new level. Soon, a quiet but undeniable chemistry sparks.

Something doesn’t add up, though. As the miles accumulate and time runs out, Noah must face the most difficult choice of his life. Meanwhile, Adrian must decide whether he’s ready to level up. Is their relationship status worth fighting for, or has this game ended before it’s even begun?


I’m not a pro at M/M romances so when I find something really good,    I will check out the author’s other work – which is exactly what I did after reading Status Update. This is the story of Noah and Adrian. Two people who couldn’t be more different who met at a time when they least expected it. One is raised as a conservative Christian, and the other, an out-and-proud hipster.

Noah is a professor at a staunch Christian university whose foundation of belief is based on homosexuality being a condition that is curable by prayers and repentance. He met Adrian at a point in his life when he’s resolved to live a lonely life because he believes that his career is all that will ever be for him. He’s satisfied living in the closet because he feared reproach and ridicule from his family and colleagues.

Adrian, on the other hand, lives in a progressive environment where no one really cared about anyone’s sexual orientation. But even with the liberties he’s afforded, his relationships are usually cultivated on-line and typically, long distance. Some soul-searching will lead him to conclude that it’s because he’s satisfied with the status quo. In any case, these two would meet and would then form a tentative relationship. But regardless of their connection, their lives are just too different. Noah needs to think about his career and what was more important. Adrian, on the other hand, is a successful game developer in Los Angeles who is ready to be in a serious relationship.

I always expect some angst when I read a romance novel where one is a closeted gay man. And there was some here. What I liked about it is that the author didn’t prolong the agony, you know? Noah stepped up to the plate and decided what he needed to do to make it less hurtful for either of them. Adrian also recognized that he can’t force the issue and that the relationship needs to happen only when they are both ready to deal with it. I like their chemistry. I like Noah’s shyness and reluctance. He’s a virgin, but his attraction to Adrian was undeniable.

Annabeth Albert apparently is a pro at these romances, so I’m really glad I found this book on NG. This was a fantastic introduction to her work! She crafted a coming out story that was both steamy and romantic, with no overreaching story arches that over complicate a simple story line.

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[577]: Jefferson Blythe, Esquire by Josh Lanyon

25719256 Jefferson Blythe, Esquire by Josh Lanyon
Carina Press | November 16th, 2015
E-Arc courtesy of Carina Press and Net Galley
Adult Fiction | M/M Romance
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars


Fresh out of college and recently dumped by his long-time girlfriend, shy and bookish Jefferson Blythe is touring Europe using an inherited vintage copy of Esquire Magazine’s Europe in Style.

Jefferson Blythe, Esquire is about old maps, new adventures, getting lost, getting found, getting drunk, and being mistaken for an international criminal. In other words, normal summer vacation when you’re in your twenties.


It’s been a while since I’ve read a book by Josh Lanyon. If you must know, she’s one of those authors whom I trust when it comes to M/M romances. I don’t read too many of them nowadays, but I wanted to read some this month as my contribution to Queer Romance Month. Loving her work is almost as instinctual as loving Sandra Brown’s. I had a great time reading this book!

JEFFERSON AROUND THE WORLD

Jefferson Blythe decided to find himself after a recent break up from his fiance. Armed with an Esquire vintage travel book, he set out to experience Europe in all its retro glory. Adventure was waiting for him as soon as he landed in Heathrow. Mistaken for an artifact thief, Jefferson has no idea that a crazy stalker girl will only be the least of his problems. When his accommodations fell through, he had no choice but to reach out to a man from his past. A man who may not be willing to renew their friendship.

JEFFERSON AND GEORGE

When they were young, Jefferson and George were practically inseparable. But when George came out, they’d become estranged. Jefferson wasn’t ready for the kind of bravery George pulled when he announced to him that he was gay. At the time, Jefferson was only too aware that he too might have some feelings for his best friend. George moved to England; severing ties with Jefferson. Their reunion was strained to say the least. On top of that, there might be some secrets as to what George does for a living. Years of being apart and with no communications doesn’t really make for a warm reunion. But readers will be able to tell that there’s some lingering feelings between the two that has nothing at all to do with friendship.

JEFFERSON IN TROUBLE

Trouble seems to keep finding Jefferson. Stalked, beaten, and kidnapped, Jefferson will find myself the centre of a Fabergé egg scam that will make him the target of a Russian mob family. And in the midst of it all, he’ll have to confront his true feelings towards George and entertain the thoughts of coming out to his family. In the backdrop is the classic beauty of London and the elegance of Paris. Lanyon does not really try hard to make the scenery a part of the story, but it’s there anyway. Though it’s plot-centric, she also spent a lot of time flaying the characters so the readers may be able to empathize with ease. This book is relatively clean as far as sex goes, but it’s never short on tension, suspense and pulse-pounding action.

This book reminded me of what I love about Josh’s stories. Not all M/M romances has to be sexually explicit for any enthusiast to enjoy. Sometimes, all you need is a little heat and a lot of excitement.

 

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