Monday, October 3, 2016

ARC #REVIEW Of Love and Corn Dogs by Parker Williams #RomHero #mmromance

Title: Of Love and Corn Dogs (Of Love And... Book 1)
Author: Parker Williams
Genre: M/M Romance
Release Date: September 23, 2016
Publisher:  Parker Williams
Length: 168 pages

Description: With more money than he could spend in ten lifetimes, Darwin Kincade still couldn't keep death from stealing his lover. A little older and a whole lot wiser, flirting with his twice-a-week waiter is the perfect no-risk substitute for a real relationship. Until the night his routine is upended by the restaurant's newest employee.

Ricky Donnelly loves people. While being a server isn’t his dream, he’s good at it. When a grumpy man is seated in his station, Ricky sees there’s more to him than he lets on, and when the man relaxes, he’s actually sweet.

As the two men bond over a discussion about corn dogs— something Darwin’s never heard of—he realizes how much he’s missed out on in his life. He vows to open himself to new experiences—including, perhaps, a chance at finding love again.

Not wanting anything to muddy their blooming relationship, Darwin hides part of himself from Ricky. He likes the look in Ricky’s eyes, unclouded by Darwin’s notoriety. Unfortunately, the truth can never stay hidden, and when it comes out, Darwin may lose any hope of holding onto the future they’ve begun to build.

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Of Love and Corn Dogs is the story of Darwin, a very rich man trapped in a life of work and luxury. On the other hand, Ricky's life is all about work and holding his own. The men couldn't come from two more different worlds. But that's half the fun, isn't it?
"Tonight we have a truffle-braised tenderloin served with whipped dauphinoise  potatoes and honey-glazed carrots." In fact, as he recited the special, it became obvious the whole stick had been practiced to death.

Darwin grinned. His turn to do a little teasing. "And what did you think of it?"

"Excuse me?" Ricky asked, obviously not expecting the question.

Darwin tapped his index finger on the table, feigning irritation. The adorable look of consternation on Ricky's face ammused him. "I assume you tried it, so what did you think?"

Ricky bit the corner of one lip, then glanced around before he leaned forward and whispered, "Honestly? I thought it was pretentious. Give me a corn dog any day."

Darwin burst out laughing, which drew unhappy stares from the patrons at nearby tables. He didn't care. "What's a corn dog?" 
This is a slow-burn story filled with moments of incredible romance. Darwin is no ruthless mogul. Rather, he's caring and considerate of all the people in his life, especially those who work for him. But sometimes, money isn't the solution to a problem--it's the cause.
"I am so sorry," Maria apologized. "They're good boys, even if sometimes they need to be disciplined. Unfortunately, Darwin refuses to do it."

"Please," Darwin said, frowning at Maria. "Your kids are way more afraid of you than of me. Hell, I'm afraid of you."

That comment set everyone but Ricky to laughing. He wasn't sure why. It had been funny. But he couldn't get it out of his head that his family had come to a mansion for dinner with a man who had his staff serving them. The words part about it? His mother and sister seemed to be perfectly at ease. 
This odd-couple romance has a wonderful mix of sweet moments, tense ones, and sexy ones. The writing is mostly fluid, and the plot moves along at a steady pace. Of Love and Corn Dogs is a solid start to Parker Williams' new series!

OUR RATING: 4 stars!

Thursday, September 15, 2016

ARC #REVIEW The Role by Richard Pearson #RomHero #mmromance #theater

Title: The Role
Author: Richard Taylor Pearson
Genre: M/M Romance
Release Date: March 30, 2016
Publisher:  Lethe Press
Length: 256 pages

Description: Mason Burroughs is an actor on the verge of giving up after being turned away at audition after audition. But his life changes when he bumps into Kevin Caldwell, an old crush from acting school. Kevin helps Mason land a role that could make him the next Broadway star. However, as rehearsals begin, Mason learns that there’s a lot more drama than just what’s on stage. With a personal trainer claiming he can mold his body to resemble a Greek statue, an underhanded understudy waiting in the wings to replace him, a megalomaniacal director, and Kevin hellbent on breaking up Mason and his boyfriend, Mason must choose how much he is willing to sacrifice to make his Broadway dream a reality.

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Well written and captivating, The Role is an intriguing behind the scenes view of Broadway theater. Mason Burroughs is a struggling actor who lands the role of a lifetime with the help of an old crush, Kevin Caldwell. The two will play gay lovers, something Mason had always hoped they'd be. But things are different now. Mason has moved on. He has a boyfriend, Eric, whom he loves.
Kevin grabs me, pulling me close, and begins to ferociously invade my mouth with his tongue. I try to pull away, banging my fists on his compact chest, but he has no problem overpowering me. [...] Just as I'm about to try biting down, Kevin releases me and tosses me on the side of the bed.

"What was that?" I shout, rubbing my aching jaw.

"A congratulatory gift. I got you the job, now you can give me on. You know, quid pro quo and all that," he says, grabbing his crotch.


"Normally, I'd expect more than a blowjob, but since we're old friends..."
 Part of Mason's training involves getting more fit so he can better portray his character. He is becoming the man, the actor, he always wanted to be. Because of his crazy hours that conflict with Eric's the two are drifting apart. In the meantime, Mason and Kevin's personal relationship starts to mirror that of their characters. The line between fantasy and reality starts to blur.
Holding his face between my hands, I kiss him with renewed vigor, managing to not only match his intensity but eclipse it, pushing him to keep up. No longer concerned with just his pleasure, I guide his hands to my ass, showing him how much I want him. the music that was barely audible before, now seems to swell as the light drains from the room, but even as we are consumed by the shadows, I know this moment has forever altered us.

"Hold," a voice cries out, followed by a great murmur of voices and a soft sound of applause. Light returns, illuminating the stage and reminding me that I am in a play, that none of this is real. The intensity of being Caleb is hard to let go of, and it takes me a few minutes to remember who I was before rehearsal began.
For the first time in his life, Mason can have everything he's ever wanted--the career, the money, the man. But where does that leave Eric?

If you enjoy the workings of theater and are fascinating with actors taking on a persona to play a role, The Role is the perfect story for you.

OUR RATING: 4 stars!

Friday, August 26, 2016

ARC #REVIEW Resurrection by S. Davidson #RomHero #mmromance #military

Genre: M/M Romance
Release Date: May 22, 2016
Publisher:  Encompass Ink
Length: 322 pages

Description: His war has just begun.

James (Jamie) Massey has been raised in a strict military household and grew up with the sole purpose of becoming a soldier. He never imagined the heartache his choices in love and war would weigh on his soul, and when he loses everything, he can’t imagine ever being happy again.

Chris Baker grew up in a small town, raised on the rodeo circuit. When he met Ben, he thought he’d live blissfully every after, but things have a way of not going along as planned. Chris, devastated by his loss, was barely hanging on.

When Jamie and Chris end up in the same small town diner, it can only be credited to divine intervention. But are both men too damaged? They say God works in mysterious ways. Well, he certainly had his hands full when he chose these two for saving.
Is it too late?

Triggers: Deals with PTSD, death, and realistic wartime violence.

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Resurrection is an interesting story. Jamie is a soldier, a fighter, a survivor. Chris is a natural caretaker. Both men are alpha. They grow up very differently, and have extremely difficult lives before meeting each other. This makes their story all the more bittersweet.

This review is a little difficult to write because the book is split into three parts, and the writing style changes throughout the story. I must admit that while I love military men and their stories, Jamie's section (a full 1/3) of the book didn't grab me. What happens to him is heart-breaking, but the writing consisted of page after page of telling. The first 3% is entirely backstory with entire scenes about Jamie's father and grandfather. There are huge sections of narrative (telling) and only the occasional non-narrative scene (showing). But those few scenes were very good and are what kept me from tossing the book aside.

Fortunately, the second section about Chris was much better written with only the occasional long narrative passage. Although this section was shorter, I still connected better with Chris. I felt I knew him better and understood his struggles.

The third section, Resurrection, where Chris and Jamie finally meet made reading through the first two sections all worth it. It's very well written. The secondary characters are fleshed out, and the love story between these two men is realistic (given their pasts and health issues) and hot! They have great chemistry both in the bedroom and out. Both men have things they need to change about themselves if their relationship is to have a chance. They can't fall back into old patterns. The challenge is considerable and very exciting for the reader.

Had the first two sections been tighter (less backstory, less telling, more showing), I'd have given this story a 4.5 stars. As it is, I have to give it 3.5 stars.

Readers who enjoy sagas and epic stories of two men who struggle through life to achieve, finally, their happily ever after will love Resurrection.

OUR RATING: 3.5 stars!

ARC #REVIEW Mr. and Mr. Smith by HelenKay Dimon #RomHero #mmromance #military

Genre: M/M Romance
Release Date: May 24, 2016
Publisher:  Random House LLC
Length: 215 pages

Description: Fisher Braun knows how to keep a secret. As a covert paramilitary operative, his job—and his life—depends on it. He’s at the top of his game, ready for action and always in control. No enemy has ever brought him to his knees, but one lover has: Zachary Allen, the man currently sharing his bed. The perfect package of brains and brawn, Zach is someone worth coming home to, and Fisher hates keeping him in the dark about what he does. But the lies keep Zach safe. Until the day Fisher loses everything. . . .

Zachary Allen is no innocent civilian. Although he plays the tech geek, in reality he’s deep undercover for the CIA. In a horrible twist of fate, the criminal enterprise he’s infiltrated has set its sights on the man whose touch drives him wild. Zach would do anything for Fisher—except blow his own cover. Now, in order to save him, Zach must betray him first. And he needs Fisher to trust him with all his heart if they want to make it out alive.

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Loved, loved, loved this book! The suspense starts on page one and keeps going right to the end. Undercover becomes double cover and behind it all is a blazing attraction and love. The danger is thrilling, the banter is witty, and the sex is hot.
"Sometimes you'd hum." Zach smiled at the memory. "I doubt you even realize you did it."

"Fuck it." Fisher whispered the words as he moved. In two lunging steps his hands slid over Zach's shoulders and pushed his back against the wall.

Their mouths met in a hard kiss. Deep and devouring. No slow burn here. They raced from cool and arguing to skin on fire. Lips tasted and hands roamed. A grumble sounded in the back of Fisher's throat. He was all over Zach, crushing him into the concrete while he cradled Zach's head in his palm.
What more could anyone want in an m/m romantic suspense? Oh, how about some heart-wrenchingly impossible situations?
The emotional distance showed in every line of Fisher's body and the stark look in his yes. His mouth pulled tight until tiny lines formed at the edges.

Zach guessed this was what hatred looked like. He'd seen so many emotions cross Fisher's face during their time together. Heat, longing, need, caring. They'd come full circle. Wariness and doubt lingered there now. No warmth. Worse, no trust.
Both Zach and Fisher are intriguing characters. I'd love to know more about them and see how they do in a real-life relationship.

If you enjoy hot, alpha heroes with guns, who happen to love men, pick up a copy of Mr. and Mr. Smith. You won't regret it!

OUR RATING: 5 stars!

Saturday, July 23, 2016

#REVIEW My Dirty Detour by Grace Risata (An Alpha Male Mafia Comedy Romance) #RomHero

Author: Grace Risata
Title: My Dirty Detour (An Alpha Male Mafia Comedy Romance)
Genre: M/F Romance
Release Date: January 19, 2016
Publisher:  Grace Risata
Length: 323 pages

Description: A dominant leader flees the mafia, looking for a fresh start in a small town. He put all his effort into starting a business and resigned himself to a life without love.
A neurotic germaphobe lives vicariously through the books she reads, preferring to play it safe in real life and hide behind her sarcastic remarks.

“I am NOT that neurotic! I just have germ issues and I tend to over-analyze things. Sure, I second guess myself all the time and have a tendency to freak out over the small stuff. I’ll admit that I do ask a lot of “what if…?” questions. Fine. I’m neurotic.” 

One fateful day, the simple act of taking a wrong turn leads Violet right into Rocky’s life and completely turns it upside down. Accustomed to his orders being obeyed immediately and without question, Rocky doesn’t appreciate Violet challenging his authority at every opportunity.

“I don’t like being told what to do. Especially when some arrogant tough guy thinks he can boss me around. I might have argued with him just to keep him close. He smelled like heaven. Although with a body like his, I knew he was no angel. 

Violet charmed her way into his heart with her quick wit and stubbornness, causing Rocky to fail at his many attempts to resist her.

“He’d never met anyone like me before. I trash talk, curse like a sailor, and pretty much say whatever’s on my mind. Life is too short to pretend to be something that you’re not.” 

Rocky tries to keep his violent past hidden from Violet, but it suddenly catches up to him and he can no longer deny who he really is. Will Rocky turn his back on the life he built or stay and fight for what’s his? When Violet is faced with situations that rival anything she’s merely read about, will she be able to face her fears and work together with Rocky or will the truth tear them apart?

“It’s one hell of a wild ride! Take a look inside the first few pages and I’ll tell you all about it.” 

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My Dirty Detour was a welcome surprise. I wasn't quite sure what to expect from "An Alpha Male Mafia Comedy Romance." Turns out, this was a perfect description! The book is filled with sexy dangerous men, witty dialogue, and truly humorous scenes.

Rocky is a man who finds himself in the heart of a mafia family. Danger, fighting, and survival are all he knows. Until he decides that he's had enough and moves to small-town nowhere to start anew, making Olde Devil Gin. As a protege of the Don, Rocky is used to having his word heeded immediately. That all changes when this hunky strongman meets Violet. At first sight, she has the appearance and personality of the stereotypical librarian: meek and mousy. But as Rocky and the reader soon learn, what's on the inside is quite different. And she definitely does not listen. Violet is headstrong and naive. After all, what does she know about Mafia families? That she can give back as good as she gets is one of the things I really like about this character. And it seems, Rocky does too. :)

As for the side characters, they are all a lot of fun. I really enjoyed the interplay between Rocky and his friends: Sergio, Dmitry, Vasily, and Vasily's wife Irina.

There were six shot glasses filled with a clear liquid on a tray and each of us took one. I wanted to ask what it was first, but I didn't want to stand out as being a coward. I held my nose and downed the shot in one gulp. Big mistake. I started sputtering and gasping for air. My throat burned like it was on fire.

"What was that? It tasted like ASS!" I promptly exclaimed.

Irina grinned and replied, "That, my friend, was a shot of Olde Devil Gin made at Grim Rock Distillery."

Oh no! Talk about putting my foot in my mouth. I slowly turned around to look at Rocky with a sheepish expression.

"Thanks, Violet, good to know we're making a quality product. 'ASS' was exactly the flavor we were going for," Rocky told me, looking very offended.
While there is a lot of humor and many light moments, there is also a considerable amount of violence, which is expected given that this is in fact a mafia romance. Rocky is a darling, but he is VERY rough around the edges, especially early on in the story.

If you love books with dangerous, alpha men and spitfire heroines with no filters, you'll love My Dirty Detour!

OUR RATING: 4 stars!

Friday, July 8, 2016

ARC #REVIEW In The Present Tense by Carrie Pack #RomHero #mmromance #timetravel

Title: In the Present Tense
Author: Carrie Pack
Genre: M/M Romance, Science Fiction, Time Travel
Release Date: May 19, 2016
Publisher:  Interlude Press
Length: 336 pages

Description: Miles Lawson goes to sleep dreaming of a future with his boyfriend Adam, but wakes to find he is married to Ana, an acquaintance from high school. When he learns he has been time traveling, Miles is consumed with finding a cure for his rare condition—and finding his first love.

Traveling more frequently, Miles assembles the puzzle pieces of his life and, in doing so, alienates his wife. As he loses control, Miles must realize that sometimes fixing your past mistakes means changing your future. But will he be able to convince Adam he is telling the truth before it’s too late?

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In the Present Tense is a truly fascinating story. Is Miles really time-travelling, or is it some sort of multiple personality disorder? That's the question that gets explored in this first installment of what is sure to be a great series!

The story opens with a very confused Miles who wakes up one day--in the future and in bed with a girl from his high school.
"Oh shit, it's happening again," Ana said, her eyes wide.

"What is?"

"The time travel thing."

"What time travel thing?"

"Oh shit, how young are you this time, Lawson? Don't tell me I got the version of you who hasn't figured it out yet."

He stared at her. Time travel? Had she lost her mind?

"Fuck me running," she said when he didn't respond. "Have a seat, Marty McFly. I've got a story for you that's gonna blow your mind."
The relationships in this story are complicated and intense. Miles wakes up in the body of an older Miles who is now married to Ana. He finds out that he broke up with Adam, the boy who was the love of his life, but he doesn't know why. Older Miles is seeing a psychiatrist, but is she helping or hurting? Does anyone really believe him?

As the story bounces between past and present (and future!), we come to know more about Miles, Ana, and Adam and none of it is what it seems.

In the Present Tense is the story of a true love, one that won't give up. It's that chance to perhaps go back and change the things that went wrong, or to reignite old feelings in the present. A second chance... I loved it.

If you enjoy stories like The Time Traveler's Wife, you'll love In the Present Tense!

OUR RATING: 4.5 stars

Friday, May 27, 2016

ARC #REVIEW North to Zombieville by Meg Bawden #RomHero #mmromance #scifi

Genre: M/M Romance, Science Fiction
Release Date: May 18, 2016
Publisher:  Dreamspinner Press
Length: 200 pages

Description: The year is 2028, and Dallas and Raleigh Jenson are torn apart when a worldwide zombie apocalypse ravages their home of Townsville, Australia. After a year of searching, Dallas, a former Australian Army rifleman, finally reunites with Raleigh, but it’s not like old times. Not only do they have zombies to contend with, but they also have to deal with other humans changed by desperation and willing to do anything to survive.

Dallas and Raleigh have changed too. So much so that Dallas struggles with the idea that Raleigh no longer needs or wants his protection. But they will have to rely on each other and find strength in their love as they are forced to evade zombies and watch their friends die. As they fight for their lives in a brutal landscape where every supply and every step toward a potential cure is a battle to the death, only their trust in each other can keep them from perishing.

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North to Zombieville opens with a bit of normalcy. Dallas and Raleigh Jenson are celebrating a wedding anniversary in style. They exchange words of affection...
Dallas stared into Raleigh's pretty blue eyes, his chest tightening at the thought of how much he loved this man in front of him. Raleigh was his world. Did that sound corny? "I love you, Leigh."

Raleigh swallowed, his Adam's apple bobbing. "I love you too."
And then their world is torn apart. The two are separated for six months. Dallas who has military training soon finds himself in a leadership position, responsible for a group of survivors. But he never forgets, Raleigh, never betrays him, and never gives up on finding him. Raleigh is rescued by a friend of Dallas' and together they team up with a few others, scavenging and surviving as they can. 

Then one day, a miracle occurs; Raleigh and Dallas find each other. Great right? Not so great. Although their love for each other is as strong as it was, the apocalypse has changed them, made them stronger, different. Their roles have changed. Their relationship must adapt to their new situation. Can they make through as husband and husband? Or will the pressures prove to be too much? 
Being strong wasn't helping anymore, and he fell to the ground beside the bed where someone had already put his bags of belongings. With his back pressed against the frame of the bed and mattress, he buried his face into his knees and cried. He couldn't help it. He cried because there was no tomorrow. It didn't matter how long they lasted, they were going to die. If not physically, then mentally. Their personalities would die. Jesus, he'd already begun to dwindle internally. Not even Dallas being around him could help that. Having his husband there felt like a dream. 
The author did a very good job of world building and of putting her own spin on the zombie lore. As a fan of The Walking Dead, I enjoyed this story a lot, especially because it got into the sexual relationship side of things a little more than the show. :) Dallas and Raleigh are a loyal, loving couple, but their challenges are far from over. North of Zombieville ends on a Happy-For-Now note, as expected, and I'm hoping that there will be a sequel to their story!

OUR RATING: 4 stars!