Thursday, March 23, 2017

The Inexplicable Logic of My Life by Benjamin Alire Saenz

* * * * *


From the multi-award-winning author of Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe comes a gorgeous new story about love, identity, and families lost and found.

Sal used to know his place with his adoptive gay father, their loving Mexican-American family, and his best friend, Samantha. But it’s senior year, and suddenly Sal is throwing punches, questioning everything, and realizing he no longer knows himself. If Sal’s not who he thought he was, who is he?

This humor-infused, warmly humane look at universal questions of belonging is a triumph.



Source: advance e-galley provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review




My daughter has stars in her eyes every time she mentions Aristotle and Dante Discover the Universe. It's one of her favourite books and one she never hesitates to recommend to people. It's with this in mind that I wanted to read this latest one from S√°enz.

The Inexplicable Logic of Life explores what it's like being a teenager on the cusp of adulthood. For easy-going Sal who begins to observe the subtle changes underway during his senior year, that uncertainty manifests itself in violence.

Sal feels a shift has begun after hitting back at a schoolmate who called his father by a gay slur. His uncharacteristic outburst has him concerned and he doesn't know how to articulate it. His father who has to be the most even-tempered person in existence is the steady rock that he relies on. His philosophical approach to life is calming though it's not enough to ease whatever undercurrent of self-doubt he's experiencing. His grandmother's ailing health has him feeling that there's too much changing at once. His newfound anger also makes him wonder if it's a question of nature versus nurture; that he could be becoming more like his anonymous biological father than the loving, patient and kind-hearted father whom he admires and who has raised him as his own flesh and blood. All of these doubts make him question his place in his family and who he is becoming.

Reading about this boy turning into a man made me realize that these changes can evolve subtly without even knowing. Sal doesn't give himself enough credit though. He's actually rather astute about human nature and understands quite a bit. However, he's convinced that he's not ready to face his future because he has been sheltered. He's right up to a certain point. What he has yet to realize is that his big heart has prepared him for far more than he is aware of. Sal is also blessed to have the family he has. I wished that they could adopt me! As a quiet observer he sees how each family member demonstrates their love in their own way, whether it be through art, food or the generosity of giving money. As he ponders more about his own history, he reexamines his relationship with his adoptive father.

This is a special story told with such sweetness. There's a connection there, something that a reader can identify with easily. Even when things are looking bleak there's a strong presence of unconditional love holding keeping Sal from fully breaking. At one point I even paused my reading to text my daughter at school to say, "I get it". It made her so happy. It's a wonderful read that ends beautifully and simply put, you'll fall for this absolute treasure!

~ Bel


Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Goodbye Paradise (Hello Goodbye #1) by Sarina Bowen

* * * *


Most people called it a cult. But for twenty years, Josh and Caleb called it home. 

In Paradise, there is no television. No fast food. Just long hours of farm work and prayer on a dusty Wyoming ranch, and nights in a crowded bunkhouse. The boys of the Compound are kept far from the sinners’ world.

But Joshua doesn’t need temptation to sin. His whole life, he’s wanted his best friend, Caleb. By day they work side by side. Only when Josh closes his eyes at night can they be together the way he craves.

It can never be. And his survival depends on keeping his terrible desires secret.

Caleb has always protected Josh against the worst of the bullying at the Compound. But he has secrets of his own, and a plan to get away — until it all backfires.

Josh finds himself homeless in a world that doesn’t want him. Can Caleb find him in time? And will they find a place of safety, where he can admit to Josh how he really feels?

Warning: Contains a hot male/male romance, copious instances of taking the Lord's name in vain, and love against the kitchen counter. This book was previously released under the title: In Front of God & Everyone.
 



Source: e-galley provided in exchange for an honest review


Sarina Bowen. She's our hero. She writes some freaking amazing stories so you can rest assured that if she has a new one coming out we definitely want to get our hands on it.

Josh and Caleb have grown up secluded from the rest of the world in a cult called Paradise. Their experience is nothing like its name. Cut off from the outside world, they had a subpar education, a strict upbringing under sometimes impoverished circumstances.  Josh and Caleb have always been close friends with Caleb looking out for Josh most of the time. One's standing in Paradise depends on what family they're from, and as a man how they can contribute to its survival. A person's place within this cult is never guaranteed. Josh knows that he's one of the weakest links and is not surprised when he's thrown out of the cult. What is surprising is that Caleb follows him. And that's how the adventure begins for Josh, the shy, naive and gentle soul looking for his niche and Caleb, the stoic and loyal friend who feels the burden to fix everything.

After enduring years of indoctrination, you want the boys to experience happiness. I think cynics will find some of the events that occur too good to be true. I can't say that I disagree entirely considering how as readers we've come to expect plenty of angst when dealing with a troubled past. However, this is about Caleb and Josh's coming of age under different circumstances, on their own terms along with the support of a newfound family. For the first time in their young lives, they can determine the direction of their future. They get to love whom they want. First though, they need to overcome the guilt that's been drilled into them. Then they have to accept who they are. Running away from a religious cult is one thing. Abandoning their way of life and their force-fed doctrine - it's all they've ever known. Coming to terms with their sexuality when they've never had a point of reference - that has to be incredibly overwhelming and confusing. It's harder yet when they're unfamiliar with the outside world.

Readers of the True North series will recognize the name of the farm that Caleb and Josh run to after their escape (Runaway Farms) but that doesn't mean you have to read that series in order to read this. I was pulled into this sweet story and loved every moment of it except for one where I unexpectedly felt a knife to the heart. It was a "gasp" and "wth?" moment. I kid you not! That's how consumed I became with the story and invested in these two as a couple. 




Basically if you're a fan of Sabrina Bowen's then you want to read this. If you're new to her, read it. As usual she manages to explore complex situations by putting human faces to them, and she does it without shoving any agenda at you. I always appreciate that about her writing. You hope that Caleb and Josh get their HEA by the end. I just wanted to wrap them up in a tight hug and transfer all those years of love and kindness they'd been denied. I can't wait to see what happens next in Hello Forever.

~ Bel




Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Daily Grind by Anna Zabo

****


A man discovers that love can show up when you least expect it—and in a much different form—in this piping-hot romance from the author of Due Diligence and Just Business.

Brian Keppler, owner of Ground N'At, the coffee shop beneath SR Anderson Consulting, doesn't have time for a relationship. His most recent girlfriend broke up with him because he'd become married to his shop, which is falling apart without his favorite barista, Justin.

As he struggles to stay afloat, the arrival of handsome British high-tech whiz Robert Ancroft becomes another complication. Rob quickly becomes a fixture at the shop with his sharp wit and easy charm, and Brian soon finds himself looking forward more and more to Rob's visits—to the point where his heart skips a beat when he walks in. 

But will Brian be able to come to terms with his previously unexplored sexual identity and find happiness now that he has a chance?


Source:  e-galley in exchange for an honest review.  

Daily Grind is a sweet, hot treat, just like your cappuccino! Daily Grind was my first Anna Zabo, so it can totally be read as a standalone, or you will be like me and have to go back and read Zabo's backlist.  :-)  If you've read Takeover, Due Diligence and/or Just Business, there's considerably less kink in Daily Grind, but it's still a smoking hot story.  I loved Brian and Rob!  Brian and Rob have great chemistry.  This is a gay for you romance by a couple of guys who have been burned by love in the past.  They are snarky and fun and watching them fall is thoroughly enjoyable!   

If you are a Zabo fan, then you will love getting Brian's story.  If you are new to Zabo, then feel free to start here or start with Takeover and work your way through.  You can't go wrong either way!  

~ Shel

Monday, March 20, 2017

The Enemies of Versailles Spotlight & Guest Post

We are happy to be a part of The Enemies of Versailles Book Tour

Book 3 in the Mistresses of Versailles Trilogy by

Sally Christie


enemies-of-versailles

The Enemies of Versailles

(historical fiction) Release date: March 21, 2017 at Atria Books/Simon & Schuster 416 pages ISBN: 978-1501103025

SYNOPSIS

In the final installment of Sally Christie’s “tantalizing” (New York Daily News) Mistresses of Versailles trilogy, Jeanne Becu, a woman of astounding beauty but humble birth, works her way from the grimy back streets of Paris to the palace of Versailles, where the aging King Louis XV has become a jaded and bitter old philanderer. Jeanne bursts into his life and, as the Comtesse du Barry, quickly becomes his official mistress. “That beastly bourgeois Pompadour was one thing; a common prostitute is quite another kettle of fish.” After decades of suffering the King’s endless stream of Royal Favorites, the princesses of the Court have reached a breaking point. Horrified that he would bring the lowborn Comtesse du Barry into the hallowed halls of Versailles, Louis XV’s daughters, led by the indomitable Madame Adelaide, vow eternal enmity and enlist the young dauphiness Marie Antoinette in their fight against the new mistress. But as tensions rise and the French Revolution draws closer, a prostitute in the palace soon becomes the least of the nobility’s concerns. Told in Christie’s witty and engaging style, the final book in The Mistresses of Versailles trilogy will delight and entrance fans as it once again brings to life the sumptuous and cruel world of eighteenth century Versailles, and France as it approaches irrevocable change.

About the Author

Sisters of Versailles - Sally Christie

Sally Christie is the author of The Sisters of Versailles and The Rivals of Versailles. She was born in England and grew up around the world, attending eight schools in three different languages. She spent most of her career working in international development and currently lives in Toronto. Learn more her Versailles trilogy on her website Become a fan to hear about her next novels! 




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GUEST POST BY SALLY CHRIST

One always wonders what amazing bits of information authors come across during their research. Sally Christie shares with us one of the stranger things she discovered during her research for The Enemies of Versailles.


Merkins, Oh My!

When writing historical fiction, the best part about the research process is the funny and often quirky anecdotes that you uncover. While researching The Enemies of Versailles, I had to deep dive into the seedy underworld of Paris vice, as that was the world that Jeanne, the eventual Comtesse du Barry and Louis XV’s last mistress, came from. Before coming to the king’s attention, Jeanne was a casual courtesan, pimped out by her lover, the Comte du Barry, a minor noble who ran a gambling hall where he entertained some of the Versailles high aristocrats who also became Jeanne’s clients / lovers.

While researching that world, I discovered that merkins – those little pubic wigs – were quite popular in the 18th century. Syphilis was rampant in 18th century France and one of the side effects was baldness, including baldness “down there”. Apparently prostitutes used the merkin to avoid showing the symptoms of the deadly disease and keep their business going. Yikes.

In 18th century Paris, if you had the money, you could indulge any of your fetishes or desires, no matter how debauched or technically illegal. I gave one of my characters a fetish for pubic hair and took the idea of the merkin one step further: he was collecting the pubic hair of his many (syphilis-free, one presumes) lovers, in order to make a wig out of the combined hairs! I wonder what that should be called?

Thanks Sally Christie! Now there's some trivia to bust out at the next party!


ENTER THE GIVEAWAY HERE


Visit each blogger on the tour: tweeting about the giveaway everyday of the Tour will give you 5 extra entries each time! [just follow the directions on the entry-form]




Global giveaway - for US residents only 5 winners of a print copy


CLICK ON THE BANNER TO READ REVIEWS, EXCERPTS, GUEST-POSTS

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Saturday, March 18, 2017

Endurance by Amy Daws Blog Tour






He rejected her. She loathes him. Now they have to fool everyone and pretend they actually like each other.

Endurance is NOW LIVE & Free on Kindle Unlimited!
**99cents for a limited time**


Amazon US  I  Amazon UK  I  Amazon CA  I   






He rejected her. She loathes him. Now they have to fool everyone and pretend they actually like each other.

Tanner Harris has been busy shagging his way through the ladies of east London, but getting caught by the paparazzi buck-naked with his trouser snake in his hands means he’s sowed his last wild oat.

Dr. Belle Ryan once thought Tanner Harris was the perfect kind of bearded bad boy she needed to relieve a bit of stress after her intense job as a surgical fellow, but an icy cold rejection from London’s sluttiest footballer puts the two at each other’s throats.

Fate and a favour conspire to put Tanner and Belle back in each other’s paths and they’re forced to do a lot more than get along to save face and their careers.

Rage turns to passion and tempers run sizzling hot when they realise they aren’t just falling for each other—they’re jumping head first. And neither have the endurance to keep their hands to themselves.




 EXCERPT 

I cheers my beer with hers and chug the rest down. I drop the bottle and begin swirling Indie around in a childish spin that sends us both flying in different directions and crashing to the ground. Hot, sweaty hands wrap around me and pull me to my feet.

“Thank you, Good Samaritan,” I slur, turning to face my gallant saviour.

When my eyes glance up and focus, I’m stunned by the bearded vision before me. “You look like a guy I know!”

He clutches his hands firmly around my waist and holds me to him. “You look like a girl I want to know.”

I laugh half-heartedly and try to pull away.

“Are you trying to leave me, lass?” he slurs into my ear.

I frown and my head bobbles. “How could I leave you, Jesus? You’re God’s son…You’re everywhere.” I throw my hands out wide to punctuate my “everywhere” and attempt to stumble away.

He grabs me again, this time his hands dipping lower to my arse. My good mood evaporates instantly. “Hey!” I shout. “Watch your fucking hands!”

I attempt to shove him away, but he feels like one of those doors that you push when you’re supposed to pull. He doesn’t budge. He leans in close and whispers in my ear, “I’d like to put my hands on your tight little—”
Right when I’m about ready to punch the wank stain in his vile mouth, I nearly fall over as a strange momentum spins me away. The man’s hands are no longer groping me. They are now pinned deftly behind his back by no other than—
“Tanner?” I utter with a gasp, my hands covering my mouth at the shock of the scene before me.

“Shove the fuck off, you disgusting prat, before I turn your wrist into a pretzel.” Tanner pushes him into a nearby table, and the man almost topples over but catches himself before scurrying away without a look back.

Blue, angry eyes swerve to me. “Ryan,” Tanner growls, slicing a hand through his hair to get it off of his face. “I’ve texted you like twenty times.”

“I…I…I haven’t looked at my mobile in a while.”

“No fucking shit.” His bearded jaw is taut with anger. “I’m taking you home.”

He reaches out for my arm but I yank it away from him.

“No, you’re not.”

His shoulders rise and fall with a deep breath. “I’m taking you home. You’re completely pissed.”

My eyes narrow. “Of course I am. It’s Tequila Sunrise night.”

“I don’t give a fuck,” he snaps. “Let’s go.”

I shoot him a murderous look when a voice interrupts us. “I’ve got mine. You got yours?” I turn to see Camden holding a sleepy-looking Indie against his body.

Determination slices through Tanner’s voice. “I’ve got her.”

I turn to face him, stumbling a bit as I wag my finger in his face. “Hey, I am not yours!” Suddenly, Tanner bends over and I’m airborne for a second, landing heavily on top of his shoulder. “Are you fucking kidding me, Harris?” I begin pounding on his back but it’s to no avail. “I’m in a dress. My arse is hanging out for all of England!”

“Your arse was hanging out when you spread out on the floor a minute ago. I’m taking you home, Ryan. Even if you’re kicking and screaming.”

“You’re such an arrogant arsehole!” My hands stop their assault on Tanner’s backside in favour of covering my rump. This is mortifying. I hang my head and let my hair cover my face, praying like fuck I don’t see anyone I know. “I can’t believe this is happening.”

“Believe it, woman.” Tanner pauses at the door and turns his body so my head is facing a different direction. “Now, tell this nice man I’m not a rapist.”

A bouncer-looking bloke turns his head upside down to make eye contact with me. I mumble, “He’s not a rapist. Just a walking dead man.” I straighten a bit with my crescendoed scream. The bouncer lets out a hearty laugh that dumps hot coals into the pit of my belly. So not the reaction I was looking for.

He moves to let us pass and then Tanner drops me down in front of a cab. I ball up my fists and wallop him a few times. “I’m not a petulant child, you animal.”
He doesn’t even flinch.

I exhale in concession and fold myself in behind Indie and Camden. When we’re all in the cab and it begins moving, Tanner breaks the silence with a surprisingly jovial tone. “Well, did you all have a fun night?”



 REVIEW 



***1/2

There's a plethora of adult sports romances out now but Amy Daws has my attention because she helps fill the void that I have when it comes to football. No, not that football. FOOTBALL, as in the "beautiful game". And she makes it even better by setting the series in London!

Daws draws us back into the Harris football family, this time with Tanner whose many sexual antics tend to get him in loads of trouble. The media attention he invites is not exactly what Papa Harris wants for his son, his club or the family. It goes absolutely wrong this time when Tanner is thrown out of his lady-friend's house buck naked. With limited options he calls Indie, his team's sports doctor who also happens to be his twin brother's girlfriend. It's not Indie who comes to his rescue but Belle, her roommate who is none too fond of Tanner or his deviant ways. She's not that thrilled either about coming to help him but if there's a proper way to do things, she'll do the opposite. Coming from a well-to-do family with ties in many social circles, Belle has always felt adrift from her parents' priorities to mingle with the rich and influential. So if there ever is a way she can subtly stick it to her parents, especially her ambitious dad, she'll do it. She wasn't banking on the paparazzi plastering her pictures of her and a naked Tanner all over the place though. Oops! Now she appears to be one of his clueless conquests instead of being the hardworking and respected doctor that she is. This latest event angers her and her family, and puts her dad's political aspirations in jeopardy. As a way to make it up to them and to Belle, Tanner's solution is for them to pretend date so that the media won't think it's a one-off. Not ideal but it just might get dad off her back.


I liked Challenge but I like Endurance more. I think it's the playfulness between Tanner and Belle that does it for me. They're both sharp and witty which makes any conversation between them pretty entertaining and of course, loaded with sexual innuendos. They can cut each other with a sentence and also call each other any bull. Making the best of the awkward situation does prove to be too much when the lines get blurred. If it's all pretend, how far should they go in opening up to each other or caring about the other's well-being? For Belle, seeing Tanner with his close-knit family kicks up all sorts of feelings about her own dysfunctional family. And Tanner hears alarm bells when he realizes that Belle is one of the few women in his life who gets through to him. Outside of their evolving relationship, they're both also working on their respective careers. She's working her way up in her chosen area of medicine and he's trying to adapt to his new role within his football organization without his twin by his side. 


I think Amy Daws has become one of my go-to authors. I like how she transports me to a different place and when it comes down to it, I'm entertained. I finished this book pretty quickly because I was having too much fun with Tanner and Belle and their craziness. Fancy a hot footballer and his wicked humour? How about a young career woman who calls it like it is? Endurance will work just fine for you!


~ Bel 



Meet “the other” Harris TWIN  in Challenge!
NOW AVAILABLE & Free on Kindle Unlimited (Standalone)


Amazon US  I  Amazon UK   I   Amazon AU 


Available on Audible


ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Amy Daws is a lover of all things British and her London-based love stories bring the incredible city to life on every page. Read all about hot British men, hilarious heroines, and unforgettable and original ensemble casts that pull out all the feels. For more of Amy’s work, visit www.amydawsauthor.com








Friday, March 17, 2017

The Hot Shot Cover Reveal

 





First we were friends. Then we were roommates. Now I want more…
What can I say about Chess Copper? The woman is capable of bringing me to my knees. I know this about five minutes after getting naked for her.
No one is more surprised than me. The prickly photographer my team hired to shoot our annual charity calendar isn’t my usual type. She’s defense to my offense, a challenge at every turn. But when I’m with her, all the regrets and darkness goes away. She makes life fun.
I want to know Chess, be close to her. Which is a bad idea.
Chess is looking for a relationship. I’ve never given a woman more than one night. But when fate leaves Chess without a home, I step up and offer her mine. We’re roommates now. Friends without benefits. But it’s getting harder to keep our hands off each other. And the longer we live together the more I realize she’s becoming my everything.
Trick is… Now that I’ve made her believe I’m a bad bet, how do I convince her to give this player a true shot at forever?


Add to GOODREADS


Pre-order here: AMAZON  



Pre-order here: AMAZON

About the Author:

Kristen Callihan is an author because there is nothing else she’d rather be. She is a three-time RITA nominee and winner of two RT Reviewer’s Choice awards. Her novels have garnered starred reviews from Publisher’s Weekly and the Library Journal, as well as being awarded top picks by many reviewers. Her debut book FIRELIGHT received RT Magazine’s Seal of Excellence, was named a best book of the year by Library Journal , best book of Spring 2012 by Publisher’s Weekly, and was named the best romance book of 2012 by ALA RUSA. When she is not writing, she is reading.

WEBSITE / FACEBOOK / TWITTER / AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE



Afraid to Fly by L.A. Witt

***

Once a fearless fighter pilot, Commander Travis Wilson is now confined to a desk. It’s been eight years since the near-fatal crash that grounded him, and it still rules his life thanks to relentless back pain.
Lieutenant Commander Clint Fraser almost drowned in a bottle after a highly classified catastrophe while piloting a drone. His downward spiral cost him his marriage and kids, but he’s sober now and getting his life back on track. He’s traded drones for a desk, and he’s determined to reconcile with his kids and navigate the choppy waters of PTSD.
Clint has been on Travis’s radar ever since he transferred to Anchor Point. When Clint comes out to his colleagues, it’s a disaster, but there’s a silver lining: now that Travis knows Clint is into men, the chemistry between them explodes.
It’s all fun and games until emotions get involved. Clint’s never been in love with a man before. Travis has, and a decade later, that tragic ending still haunts him. Clint needs to coax him past his fear of crashing and burning again, or their love will be grounded before takeoff.

Source:  Advance copy in exchange for an honest review.
Clint and Travis have each been through a lot.  Both are struggling.  Struggling through each day to make it to the next.  When each finds out the other bi-sexual their appreciation for the other turns into something more.  But neither really thinks the relationship can be more than sex given their respective issues. 

What Afraid to Fly really comes down to is two messed up guys who struggle a little less together, but who are afraid to make the leap, and end up getting in their own way.  This one has a lot of angst and feels y'all, so read at your own risk.  If you dig the angsty feels, you will love Clint and Travis.

~ Shel