Tuesday, February 19, 2013

SUSAN: BOOK REVIEW - "The Other Guy" by Cary Attwell

Emory James is, by his own admission, not the type of person the adjective exciting would ever deign to touch with a ten-foot pole.Cautiousreserved and staid, however, all crowd around him like best friends. Still, he gets by -- or at least he gets by up until his fiancĂ©e dumps him at the altar. Out of spite, he takes a solo honeymoon to Thailand, where he can pretend to be someone better than himself for a little while. In meeting Nate, a fellow traveler, Emory slowly discovers how to stop pretending.

My love letter to this book…

Dear Emory “Archibald” James:

Hello! How are you? What a pleasure to get to know you in “The Other Guy”. Will you be my best friend forever? As I see it, we are kindred spirits and are MEANT to know each other. I love that you are witty, self-deprecating, silly, cracked in places, yet so kind. You’re totally unaware of how awesome you are…which just makes you…MORE AWESOME.

Your man, Nate, is quite possibly one of the swoon-worthiest men around. I so love the story of your travel escapes, your friendship, and your growing relationship. Please do what you can to make sure you’re worthy of his devotion and goodness. He deserves it. 

Yes, there are times when your cowardice, your fear, and your insensitivity made me very, very angry. You can be quite dense and clueless, you know. 

But, it does not stop me from adoring you. 

And to your creator, Cary Attwell…please write MORE! 

When do you want to move in? Or I can just come down to Chicago and move in with you. Let me know what works best.


READ THIS BOOK! :) Oh...and a good "cherry-popper" for those who've never read a M/M romance yet.

Monday, February 18, 2013

SUSAN: BOOK REVIEW - "Grey's Awakening" by Cameron Dane

Greyson Cole needs to get out of Raleigh. Everywhere he turns, he sees people falling in love, getting married, and starting families. It’s enough to make a grown man want to rip out his own hair. And for a cynic like Grey, one more employee getting engaged signals the need for a long overdue vacation. Grey owns a cabin in the mountains that he has never even used, and he figures that’s just the ticket out of this nightmare of happily paired up couples.

Grey doesn’t expect to be greeted by a belligerent, half-naked man the minute he opens his cabin door.

Sirus Wilder has known Grey’s twin sister for years, and she has given him permission to stay in the cabin while his residence across the lake is under repair. Sirus has never met Greyson Cole before, but he is thankful when the man lets him share the cabin for a few days. There is plenty enough room for them each to keep to themselves. Sirus has had his heart broken and isn’t interested in a hook-up, let alone something more.

Even so, Grey is, hands-down, one of the sexiest men Sirus has ever seen. Too bad he’s an arrogant ass and his eyes are so damn cold. Every once in a while, though, Sirus thinks he sees a hint of fiery passion in the controlled man sleeping one room away.

For Grey, one look at the roughly handsome Sirus puts Grey’s celibacy pact in serious jeopardy. One problem: Grey doesn’t believe in love, has even less patience for relationships, and he refuses to get mixed up in another messy romantic partnership that can only end badly.

Two weeks. Two hard men. Both running like hell from love.

Look out. Something’s gotta give

This book is about two hot alpha males Sirus and Grey.


Sirus and Grey accidentally find themselves in a situation where they have to share a cabin. 


They start to fall for each other.


There are some really sweet, tender moments. 


A little angst. Some realization. Romance. Love.


And…The End. 

Fun, fun read…oh and HOT as all get out. And I wouldn’t mind being in the middle of that Sirus/Grey sammie…just sayin’…

Smutlicious goodness! But NOT for anyone who has any problems with man-on-man lovin'. 

Sunday, February 17, 2013

SUSAN: BOOK REVIEW - "Almost Like Being In Love" by Steve Kluger

A high school jock and nerd fall in love senior year, only to part after an amazing summer of discovery to attend their respective colleges. They keep in touch at first, but then slowly drift apart.

Flash forward twenty years.

Travis and Craig both have great lives, careers, and loves. But something is missing .... Travis is the first to figure it out. He's still in love with Craig, and come what may, he's going after the boy who captured his heart, even if it means forsaking his job, making a fool of himself, and entering the great unknown. Told in narrative, letters, checklists, and more, this is the must-read novel for anyone who's wondered what ever happened to that first great love.

“Being Travis was a full-time job, yet that never kept him from teaching me how to be Craig.”

This book is about first love, true love, forever love…

Damn this book. 

Charming, witty, funny, original…and almost 100% quotable. This book made me laugh and cry and hope and hurt and hope and smile. Travis (me, if I was a 38 yr-old gay man) and Craig (my soulmate if I was a 38 yr-old gay man) were perfection. 

The book gets slow a bit towards the middle, and there were times, despite its charm, that I felt stuck and wanted the story to move-along a bit. Also, because ALL of the characters are so BIG in personality, I felt overwhelmed and irritable at times. BUT…it was all well worth it. 

The author has you guessing about who ends up where and with whom in the end…is it a HEA? Is it an unconventional HEA? Is it an “I love you enough to let you go” HEA? Is it a threesome HEA? Is it, is it, is it…???

I’ll only say this…it is. 

Hysterical. One of my favorite reads to date.

SUSAN: BOOK REVIEW - "Half Moon Chambers" by Harper Fox

A cop and a recovering addict – no chance for romance there.

Yet Vince, a street-hardened narcotics officer, is having to reassess his life. Six months ago, he hit rock-bottom. A bullet brought him down, and his beloved partner Jack betrayed him. Badly disabled and in constant pain, Vince is flying a desk these days, and it doesn't suit him at all. His world is looking grim when he meets Rowan Clyde, sole surviving witness to a vicious drugs-related killing. 

Rowan doesn't want to talk. He's vulnerable, trying to hold his own life together in the wake of a crippling addiction. Vince should have no time for him, and Rowan certainly shouldn't trust a cop with an agenda to get him onto the witness stand at any cost.

Yet despite their differences, there's an instant pull of attraction between these two damaged men. Their new bond is put to the ultimate test on the tough streets of Newcastle during a dark northern winter, as each turns out to hold the keys to the other's survival – and to his destruction.

Harper Fox has a way about her writing: she can make anything beautiful…and she seems to choose broken people, mired in hopelessness, intertwines these depressing situations with her lyrical prose and makes something…LOVELY. 

What I like best about her books: her couples LOVE desperately and deeply. 

In all honesty, Half Moon Chambers is essentially the same book as Scrap Metal: broken MC1 meets broken MC2 (this one w/ a secret), fall in love (gorgeously), exquisite descriptions of everything around them, handsome ex-boyfriend comes into the mix, a little danger, a little intrigue, and a love that conquers all…strong in character and setting, weaker in story and plot.

But, I loved it. It works…the way Harper Fox writes It, it works fabulously…

Vince and Rowan…their lives were so sad…but they found a way to bring healing to one another. Two imperfect people forging a beautiful bond…

I don’t think her style is for everyone. Some may find her overly verbose. Some may find the lyrical style cheesy. Some may not be able to look past the holes in her story. But as for me…I’m a fan.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

SUNNY: BOOK REVIEW - "The Night Is Mine" by M.L. Buchman

Emily Beale
Mark Henderson

SUMMARY from Goodreads:
NAME: Emily Beale      RANK: Captain     MISSION: Fly undercover to prevent the assassination of the First Lady, posing as her executive pilot.

NAME: Mark Henderson, code name Viper     RANK: Major
MISSION: Undercover role of wealthy, ex-mercenary boyfriend to Emily

Their jobs are high risk, high reward:  Protect the lives of the powerful and the elite at all cost. Neither expected that one kiss could distract them from their mission. But as the passion mounts between them, their lives and their hearts will both be risked…and the reward this time may well be worth it

The Night is Mine is Book 1 in the Night Stalkers series. 
This book is a LOT more complicated than the summary would suggest. I am really torn about how to rate this book. This is a highly suspenseful story (+), if a little implausible. (And frankly, the thing with the President is a little uncomfortable) The biggest critique I have is it is mired in too much jargon. I've learned more than I ever wanted know about piloting a helicopter. Actually, I didn't learn that much because I had no context to understand the specialized language. I guess I could've carried around a helicopter manual and that might have helped. So I was going to give this story an average review, but then.....

But the end was great... and asked a superb question: Who do you choose? Torn between the man of her childhood dreams - the one she grew up next to, the one she has had a mad crush since she was a kid, the one she has dreamed about all her life - and the man who supports her, understands the women who she is now, the woman she wants to be, the man who sets her on fire.  One is the fantasy from childhood, the other represents who she is now.  I like books that pose those kinds of dilemmas. 

One suggest to the author, maybe you might want to rethink the title of this book.  I had no idea how the title connected with the story.  

You have to have a level of patience for the details, but the overall story is really good and the ending is, sigh, satisfying.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

SUNNY: BOOK REVIEW - "Hector" by Elizabeth Reyes

SUMMARY from Goodreads:
Charlotte Brennan is no stranger to heartache and mortification. Her past is full of both. So when amazing and incredibly intense Hector Ayala, literally jumps into Charlee’s life, her walls are immediately up. Letting her guard down and sharing her past and deepest secret is not happening. Charlee is not looking to get her heart crushed once again. However, her willpower proves to be no match for Hector’s mesmerizing pull.

Guilt is a profound emotion to deal with and no one knows this better than Hector. So when he gets the chance to make up for a past indiscretion that’s been gnawing away at him for months, he takes it. Doing so means he’ll also have to pass up pursuing Charlee, the only girl he’s ever been so fascinated by. But his inability to explain why they could never be has him dealing with a new kind of
guilt—the guilt of knowing he is unwillingly breaking her heart.

Elizabeth Reyes is a great writer. She writes with a clear and honest voice. She has made these boys of 5th Street so adorably irresistible. The problem I have with this book is the character of Charlee. I really wanted to like Charlee but she behaves in such an immature manner - constantly jumping to conclusions and running away (or threatening to go home), it became annoying. She certainly has reason for her insecurities, but her unwillingness to give Hector the benefit of the doubt became tiresome. I really wanted to like her. I like that she is a chess genius. I like that she is both innocent and daring. She has the whole geek-chic going on. She is my kinda gal. Unfortunately, her bad behavior was disappointing and overshadowed her charm.  

It is worth reading this book if just to get to know the delectable Hector...he's worth you time and money.  Yeah, to the 5th Street boys!

SUNNY: BOOK REVIEW - "Something About You" by Julie James

Jack Pallas
Cameron Lynde

SUMMARY From Goodreads:
Fate has thrown two sworn enemies...

Of all the hotel rooms rented by all the adulterous politicians in Chicago, female Assistant U.S. Attorney Cameron Lynde had to choose the one next to 1308, where some hot-and-heavy lovemaking ends with a death. And of all the FBI agents in Illinois, it had to be Special Agent Jack Pallas who gets assigned to this high-profile homicide. The same Jack Pallas who still blames Cameron for a botched crackdown three years ago—and for nearly ruining his career.

Into each other's arms...

Work with Cameron Lynde? Are they kidding? Maybe, Jack thinks, this is some kind of welcome-back prank after his stint away from Chicago. But it's no joke; the pair is going to have to put their rocky past behind them and focus on the case at hand. That is, if they can cut back on the razor-sharp jibes—and smother the flame of their sizzling-hot sexual tension

Julie James has a playful style of writing that had me smirking throughout the whole book. I loved the inner dialogue and references to pop culture. 

Jack Pallas is my kind of hero.  He is a reluctant romantic.  He is dumbstruck by how quickly his attraction takes over.  With his glowering looks and serious demeanor, he could easy intimidate even the staunchest of women...but not Cameron Lynde.  She can and does go toe-to-toe with this alpha.

What I like most about this relationship between Cameron and Jack is that it does not take long for them to get brutally honest with each other.  Yes!  It saved me from the frustration of waiting and wondering...and then wait for it, wait for it, yes!  He tumbles right over the precipice.  So hot and satisfying. 

A fun and fast read, this is the perfect weekend book when you want a little laughter peppered with some serious alpha goodness.

Monday, February 11, 2013

SUNNY: BOOK REVIEW - Along Came Trouble by Ruthie Knox

Ellen Callahan
Caleb Clark
Jamie Callahan
Carly Short

SUMMARY from Goodreads:
An accomplished lawyer and driven single mother, Ellen Callahan isn’t looking for any help. She’s doing just fine on her own. So Ellen’s more than a little peeved when her brother, an international pop star, hires a security guard to protect her from a prying press that will stop at nothing to dig up dirt on him. But when the tanned and toned Caleb Clark shows up at her door, Ellen might just have to plead the fifth.

Back home after a deployment in Iraq and looking for work as a civilian, Caleb signs on as Ellen’s bodyguard. After combat in the hot desert sun, this job should be a breeze. But guarding the willful beauty is harder than he imagined—and Caleb can’t resist the temptation to mix business with pleasure. With their desires growing more undeniable by the day, Ellen and Caleb give in to an evening of steamy passion. But will they ever be able to share more than just a one-night stand?

Along Came Trouble is Book Two in the Camelot series.  This book is not a single story, but rather several stories woven into one narrative.  The primary story is between Caleb and Ellen.  Caleb is immensely likable.   He's the kind of guy who you would trust with your life, woo in your bed, and have a beer with. However, I found it really difficult to connect with Ellen's character - she is rather mean to Caleb and it takes some time to discover why that is so.  Once it is revealed,  it makes sense, (it reminded me of that scene in the Joy Luck Club movie when Rosalind Chao's character is sitting out in the rain telling Andrew McCarthy's character about how he doesn't "see" her) but I'm not sure Ellen's character ever truly rebounded in my eyes. 

The story that drew my attention the most was the one between Jamie and Carly.  Jamie is an internationally renowned rock star who falls in love with the girl next door, literally.  Needless to say, havoc ensues and Jamie finds himself in the position of winning Carly back.  It is fun and it is flirty.  

Ruthie Knox has a writing style that is engaging and characters that are always interesting (even if sometimes you want to rage at them) and oh, my, can this writer pen a bedroom scene - some of which does not happen in the bedroom.

Camelot is a time or place of idyllic happiness. Spread the joy and experience a little happiness with this newest addition in the the Ruthie Knox library.

Thank you to Ruthie Knox for the ARC via Netgalley.  

Friday, February 8, 2013

SUNNY: BOOK REVIEW - "Red Zone" by Sherri Hayes

SUMMARY from Goodreads:
After a case ended badly for Rebecca Carson, she’s losing her mind sitting around her apartment waiting on her superiors to allow her to return to work. Since she was a teenager, the only thing she’d ever wanted was to join the FBI. Now that dream was in danger.

Gage Daniels has made a pretty good life for himself. A nice house. A career he loves. As a professional football player, he’s used to getting almost everything he’d ever want with just the snap of his fingers. This includes women. A well-timed smile is usually all it takes to attract the opposite sex, especially in Nashville.

When a stalker threatens Gage, the team owner calls an old friend, Rebecca’s ex-partner Travis Hansen, to help protect his star quarterback and find the person responsible. Hansen offers Rebecca the job, and she jumps at the chance. It’s work, and it will get her out of her apartment. How bad can it be?

Red Zone is Book 2 in the Daniel Brothers series by Sherri Hayes.  This story is a step above most sports romances. It is a cross-genre book where it appeals to both sports romance readers as well as romantic suspense.  I enjoyed the build up of the suspense and particularly liked the evolution of the relationship. 

The critique I have for this book is the same one I have for most sports-related stories:

1.  Is it relevant that the character is a professional athlete?  If the main characters was in a different profession, would it significantly change the story?  For this story? Yes and no.  It is relevant that Gage is a public figure, but not so much that he is a football star. 

2.  Does it address any sports-related issues?  Stalkers and stardom

3.  Are there good scenes of the game being played? This book needed more Game Day coverage.  I prefer it when authors not talk about the game, but rather get us into the game.

As mentioned above, Ms. Hayes really hits her stride with the developing attraction  between Rebecca and Gage.  In this area, this book is a winner.  I like how Rebecca keeps holding herself apart by clinging to her professionalism. It is easier for her to be detached and stoic rather than have to address her emotions.  I like watching Gage bring down those walls. 

This is more of a romance with a sports element, but nonetheless, a good read and one I would recommend. 

Thank you to The Writer's Coffee Shop Publishing House for the ARC via Netgalley

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

SUNNY: BOOK REVIEW - "One Night With a Cowboy" by Cat Johnson

SUMMARY from Goodreads: 
One Sweet Ride. . .
Oh yeah. A single look at the leggy blonde in the stands and Tucker Jenkins is ready to buck all night long. It's time to forget all about his cheating ex and his usual hands off policy.
One Hot Night. . .
Becca Hart is an East Coast professor. Not a buckle bunny. But no degree can prepare her for the moves of the sexy bull rider she hooks up with at her first rodeo. . .or the shock of finding him at her first Oklahoma State University staff meeting.

Sometimes you just want to read a story with a cowboy.  One Night with a Cowboy is book 1 in Cat Johnson's Oklahoma Night's series.   The story starts strong with a one night stand between an academic, Becca Hart in town for an interview for a tenure position at OSU and Tucker Jenkins, local bull rider and current military man. Their paths unexpectedly cross again when it turns out that Tucker's current assignment is at the ROTC program at OSU.   Passions ignite but they run into a problem with the no fraternization rule for faculty. To avoid having Becca lose her job and being on the run from his feelings for her, Tyler volunteers to go to Afghanistan - to the region with the highest casualty count.  Really? It seems a bit extreme to volunteer for such an assignment just to get away from falling in love.  For the most part, the characters are likeable and the story has a good narrative, but hovers on the superficial when it has the potential to go deeper with the emotions. It is the kinda book you read as a a filler - you know, the books you read while waiting for the highly anticipated books to be release. These don't usually require a lot of emotional investment. And still, because I'm such a sucker I will read the sequel because now that I've been introduced to the characters, I gotta know what happens.  

I would consider this a pleasurable read, if not a memorable one. Recommended for poolside reading...

Monday, February 4, 2013

SUNNY: BOOK REVIEW - "Free Fall" by Catherine Mann

Jose James
Stella Carson

SUMMARY from Goodreads:

Pararescueman Jose "Cuervo" James can't imagine committing to anything other than his job. But when he parachutes deep into East Africa to rescue wounded Interpol agent Stella Carson—a woman from his past—he finds himself ensnared in more ways than he can count. Racing through the jungle to stop separatists from attacking the U.S. embassy, Jose and Stella must call upon their training to survive. Could this be their second chance at passion…or will the rebels end their future before it begins?

I love a good second chance story.  And oh my, this is Catherine Mann at her best. Free Fall is book four in the Elite Force series, and these stories just keep getting better with each successive book.  

After a whirlwind global romance, Jose James and Stella Carson are broken up.  Their stressful jobs, their emotionally damaging pasts, their conflicting dreams, all conspire to keep them apart.  However, there is this one thing....the are in love with one another and they can't seem to give that up no matter how many times they keep hurting each other.  

I love the parity between the characters. Stella is a kick-ass  Interpol agent trying to stop criminal activity in Africa.  He is a USAF Pararescue jumper whose mission is to recover downed and injured crew members in austere and non-permissive enviornments (yup, that's from their website)  He is medically and military trained. I love that it is her job to put her life on the line as much as it is his. 

The tension in the relationship is not whether to love or not, but rather, do they love one another ENOUGH.  Sometimes, people have different values, dreams for the future. Stella, growing up in a broken home, wants a family.  This is non-negotiable.  Jose is from an alcoholic family and doesn't want to risk the possibility of passing on that sickness.  
The relationship dilemma is tightly woven around the story of a terrorist group looking to raise havoc by obtaining and releasing the names of operatives around the world. There are some nice surprises regarding Stella's history that works well to enhance the drama.  And I enjoyed the use of flashbacks to give us the background of Jose and Stella's love affair.  

My little critique is that there are one too many times where the characters resolve to never let the other go and then proceed to do things that drive each other away.  It doesn't overwhelm the overall story, but I did take notice. 

IN A NUTSHELL: If you are a fan of romantic suspense or of Catherine Mann, this is a not-to-be-missed installment of the Elite Force series. 

Thank you to Sourcebooks for the ARC via Netgalley.