Tag Archives: 5 stars

Lying Eyes

Author: Robert Winter

Publisher: Robert Winter Books

Rating: 5 stars

Buy Links: Amazon

Type: Novel

Received from Publisher

 

Blurb:  This bartender’s art lies in more than mixing drinks …

Randy Vaughan is a six-foot-three mass of mysteries to his customers and his friends. Why does a former Secret Service agent now own Mata Hari, a successful piano bar? Where did a muscle daddy get his passion for collecting fine art? If he’s as much a loner as his friends believe, why does he crave weekly sessions at an exclusive leather club?

Randy’s carefully private life unravels when Jack Fraser, a handsome art historian from England, walks into his bar, anxious to get his hands on a painting Randy owns. The desperation Randy glimpses in whiskey-colored eyes draws him in, as does the desire to submit that he senses beneath Jack’s elegant, driven exterior.

While wrestling with his attraction to Jack, Randy has to deal with a homeless teenager, a break-in at Mata Hari, and Jack’s relentless pursuit of the painting called Sunrise. It becomes clear someone’s lying to Randy. Unless he can figure out who and why, he may miss his chance at the love he’s dreamed about in the hidden places of his heart.

Note: Lying Eyes is a standalone gay romance novel with consensual bondage and a strong happy ending. It contains potential spoilers for Robert Winter’s prior novel, Every Breath You Take. Continue reading Lying Eyes

Small Change (Small Change #1)

Author: Roan Parrish 

Publisher: Roan Parrish

Rating: 5++++ stars

Buy Links: Amazon 

Type: Novel in Series 

Provided by Publisher

 

Blurb: Ginger Holtzman has fought for everything she’s ever had—the success of her tattoo shop, respect in the industry, her upcoming art show. Tough and independent, she has taking-no-crap down to an art form. Good thing too, since keeping her shop afloat, taking care of her friends, and scrambling to finish her paintings doesn’t leave time for anything else. Which … is for the best, because then she doesn’t notice how lonely she is. She’ll get through it all on her own, just like she always does. 

Christopher Lucen opened a coffee and sandwich joint in South Philly because he wanted to be part of a community after years of running from place to place, searching for something he could never quite name. Now, he relishes the familiarity of knowing what his customers want, and giving it to them. But what he really wants now is love.

When they meet, Christopher is smitten, but Ginger … isn’t quite so sure. Christopher’s gorgeous, and kind, and their opposites-attract chemistry is off the charts. But hot sex is one thing—truly falling for someone? Terrifying. When her world starts to crumble around her, Ginger has to face the fact that this fight can only be won by being vulnerable—this fight, she can’t win on her own.

Small Change is the first book in a series that will include M/F and M/M romances. Continue reading Small Change (Small Change #1)

Retro Review Tour & Giveaway: Enlightenment Series by Joanna Chambers

 

Covers by Natasha Snow


Provoked (Enlightenment #1) 

 
Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK  (FREE till June 17)
 

David Lauriston is struggling to build his reputation in Edinburgh’s privileged legal world. His humble origins are enough of a hurdle, never mind his recent decision to defend a group of weavers accused of treason, prompting speculation that he may harbour radical sympathies. The last thing he should be doing is agreeing to help the brother of one of the convicted weavers find the government agent who caused his brother’s downfall.



David’s personal life is no more successful. Tormented by his forbidden desires for other men, and the painful memories of the childhood friend he once loved, David tries his hardest to live a celibate existence, castigating himself whenever his resolve slips. 


But then—into David’s repressed and orderly world—bursts Lord Murdo Balfour.


Cynical, hedonistic and utterly unapologetic, Murdo could not be less like David. Whilst David refuses to entertain the prospect of entering into a loveless marriage for propriety’s sake, Murdo is determined to wed one day—and has no intention of giving up the company of other men when he does so. But as appalled as David is by Murdo’s unrepentant self-interest, he cannot resist the man’s sway.


Murdo tempts and provokes David in equal measure, distracting him from his promise to find the agent provocateur responsible for the weavers’ fate, and forcing him to acknowledge his physical desires.


But is Murdo more than a mere distraction? 


Is it possible he could be the very man David is looking for?
 


Beguiled (Enlightenment #2)



Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK 
 

Two years after his last encounter with cynical nobleman Lord Murdo Balfour, David Lauriston accidentally meets him again in the heart of Edinburgh.


King George IV is about to make his first visit to Edinburgh and Murdo has been sent North by his politician father to represent his aristocratic family at the celebrations.


David and Murdo’s last parting was painful—and on Murdo’s part, bitter—but Murdo’s feelings seem to have mellowed in the intervening years. So much so, that he suggests to David that they enjoy each other’s company during Murdo’s stay in the capital.
Despite his initial reservations, David cannot put Murdo’s proposal from his mind, and soon find himself at Murdo’s door—and in his arms.


But other figures from David’s past are converging on the city, and as the pomp and ceremony of the King’s visit unfolds around them, David is drawn into a chain of events that will threaten everything: his career, his wellbeing, and the fragile bond that, despite David’s best intentions, is growing between him and Murdo.

 


Enlightened (Enlightenment #3) 



Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK
 

David Lauriston has been recuperating at Lord Murdo Balfour’s Laverock estate for the last five months. At Laverock, he has regained his health and confidence and has found—with Murdo—more happiness and contentment than he has never known before.


David is all too aware that some day soon he will have to leave Laverock—and Murdo—and return to his legal practice in Edinburgh, just as Murdo will have to return to his life in London. But when David’s mentor, Patrick Chalmers, asks David to return to Edinburgh to visit him on his deathbed, it seems that day has come sooner than either David or Murdo would have wished.


Chalmers begs David to undertake one last piece of business for him: to secure the future of Chalmers’s daughter Elizabeth. But to carry out his old mentor’s wishes, David must travel to London, with Murdo.


No sooner have the two men arrived in the capital than they encounter Murdo’s ruthlessly manipulative father, who reveals a shocking secret that rocks David to his foundations. What’s more, when David discovers Elizabeth is facing far greater danger than even her father feared, he is determined to help her, no matter the cost to his own safety.


As the stakes rise, it is Murdo who must choose what he is prepared to sacrifice to keep David at his side, and ask whether there is any possibility of lasting happiness for men like them.

June 13 – Bike Book Reviews, MM Good Book Reviews
June 15 – Keysmash, The Librarian’s Corner
June 17 – Dog-Eared Daydreams, Padme’s Library
June 19 – Jessie G Books
June 21 – It’s About The Book, Sarandipity, Bayou Book Junkie, My Time Out Book Blog, Gay Book Reviews, Ellie Reads All The Books, My Fiction Nook, Urban Smoothie Read, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, From Top To Bottom Reviews, Boy Meets Boy Reviews

Review:  As someone who counts historical fiction as their favorite subgenre, this series is definitely an all-time favorite of mine. Joanna Chambers combines settings and actual events in Scotland and England with provocative, authentic characters, resulting in a stunning portrayal of humanity and love. David and Murdo’s journey revolves around plenty of intrigue, power struggles and introspection. It ventures deep into the heart and soul of each man and the countries they call home. The titles of the books are so clever, the solitary yet powerful words hint of the relationship progression: Provoked, Beguiled, Enlightened. I’ve reread this series a few *cough* times and am ecstatic to discover audio versions are in the works. Last but not least… the new covers by the talented Natasha Snow!? Exquisite, and in my opinion, are perfect depictions of David and Murdo.

Provoked (Enlightenment #1)

Historical MM? Yes please! This is a subgenre in which new books always ping my radar and have me clicking “buy” immediately. Provoked went beyond my wildest dreams with its depth. This book’s richness of plot, protagonists and purview are stunning. In a nutshell, this is gorgeous writing with characters that feel as though they could walk right off the page.

David has risen from humble beginnings where it was made clear to him that desire for other men was sinful. Well, it’s also against the law. His conflict between “doing the right thing” in both his private life and his professional life as a solicitor always weigh on him. David has worked hard to achieve what status he has, and he is thankful for it. It’s oh so plausible then, when he crosses paths with Murdo – who is as powerful in physical presence as he is in social standing – that any attraction David feels for the overwhelming man is tamped down, and even met with self-loathing.

Murdo is to-the-manor-born. He expects people to jump for him, yet he doesn’t come across as haughty or unkind. A bit pushy sure, but he’s accustomed to getting what he wants and also being above common law. When he sets his sights on David, the mutual attraction is evident. The vast difference with which each man deals with said attraction is acutely plausible, given their personalities and backgrounds. Murdo appeared to have a grand life, but things aren’t always what they appear from the outside – in either man’s situation.

The disparity in the men’s social standing, as well as David’s personal struggles and causes, dovetailed perfectly with what was going on in the political climate of the times. I liked both men at once; getting to know them and seeing them learn from each other while dealing with burgeoning political intrigue made for a highly satisfying read. Provoked? Why yes, yes I was. Next book now, please!

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Beguiled (Enlightenment #2)

Such a fantastic historical romance series. After adoring the fabulous Provoked, I’d been very much looking forward to this next installment in the story of David and Murdo, and the author delivered in a deliciously satisfying way. I love how both Murdo and David are very strong in character; the evolution of their interpersonal dynamic is a delight to witness. Murdo has more “life experience” and is higher class than David, but never acts superior, snide or dismissive. He does treat David with the care and respect he deserves, while gently, yet insistently, guiding him to accept his feelings regarding his sexuality, and their relationship. I have so much adoration and respect for this depiction. Such a breath of fresh air these characterizations are. (I read a lot of historicals, and so many feature one haughty main character and one that is presented as painfully naive.) The sex and intimate scenes between David and Murdo are the perfect blend of passion and tenderness – hot, romantic and also very much important in depicting character development. The plot is interwoven with wonderful secondary characters and threads which are very exciting, and is set among authentic historic events and vivid descriptions of Edinburgh. I could not put this book down – I just had to know what was going to happen next. Highly anticipating the final book in the series.

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Enlightened (Enlightenment #3)

This is such a superb historic romance series, featuring two rewardingly strong main characters in David and Murdo. I absolutely ate this latest installment up. As I mentioned in my review of Beguiled, I love the depiction of the interpersonal dynamic between the aristocratic Murdo, and David, who while a solicitor, is still viewed by society as being dirt on Murdo’s boot. Murdo never allows the class disparity to be an issue between them. Unfortunately, this proves more difficult for David to cast aside…

The sheer believability of the actions of David and Murdo, and their romance, is largely what sets this book, this series, apart. Well, that and amazing dialogue, stunning settings, and some great “I’m holding my breath over what’s going to happen next” moments. The author’s writing is breathtakingly sublime. I think I may have highlighted half the book!

Enlightened begins six months after the distressing and daring events at the end of Beguiled. David has been residing at Laverock House, Murdo’s country estate while recuperating from a severely broken leg. It’s fairly evident by his caring behavior that Murdo desires for, and believes David will decide to stay on indefinitely. David, while not invulnerable to the growing closeness between himself and Murdo, still cannot see that as a viable option. Partly due to their different stations in life, and partly due to deep personal hurt from his past.

“The protective barriers he’d spent a lifetime building up felt like they were crumbling away in the face of emotions he was helpless to deny. There would be no protection left to him when this ended. And the end was coming.”

I kept muttering aloud, Oh David, don’t give up please! Murdo adores you, he’d do anything for you. Trust that the two of you can find a way! The conflict of David’s emotional turmoil, coupled with what Murdo was feeling and whether or not they could give voice to their true feelings, was realistically dealt with and did not come across as contrived at all. It took them a while to find their way, considering the time in which they lived, their pride, and their stubbornness. All of these elements combined with complicated extenuating circumstances, and the fact both were not men given to spouting hearts and flowers made for an engrossing read. One of the sparkling aspects of this book is while conflicted and often angry with each other, David and Murdo were still able to communicate, to talk and not flail around or storm off over cross words or failure to be completely truthful. They stuck it out, they worked it through. All brought forth in glorious, on-page dialogue.

Time and again, David would hear the echo of his dear friend and mentor’s words:

“Be happy. Don’t let love go. Don’t deny it.”

Elizabeth’s situation puts a strong and sobering light on women’s complete lack of rights and equality in 19th century England and Scotland, dovetailing with the scandalous and criminal issue of homosexuality. Her story continued to be closely interwoven with David and Murdo’s, and indeed is key in the brilliant resolution to the men finding lasting happiness together. Being such a huge fan of historical fiction, I always look forward to how authors will resolve issues satisfactorily, leaving the main characters free to pursue a life together.

With Enlightened, Joanna Chambers deftly delivers stunningly clever plotting into a very satisfying resolution of all major issues including: Murdo finally detaching himself from his cruel and overbearing father, Murdo’s future as a political player vs. a recluse bachelor, Elizabeth’s fate as a battered wife on the run, and David’s courage in the face of decisions regarding his personal and professional future. It was such a rise to witness the very social mores and customs of Murdo’s social circle become the key to unlocking freedom for David and himself. Brilliant.

Murdo to David: “I thought you were naïve, till you made me see that the life I’d always wanted – the two lives I’d wanted – didn’t amount to anything at all. I wasn’t going to have it all. I was going to have nothing.”

The Enlightenment Series as a whole depicts David’s process of maturing, his coming to realize what he truly desires, and indeed can actually achieve in his life. His enlightenment. Murdo in turn grows to realize what is of utmost importance in his life. He realizes his true enlightenment as well. Enlightened together ♥.

I can’t recommend this series highly enough.

Author Bio



Joanna Chambers always wanted to write. She spent over 20 years staring at blank sheets of paper and despairing of ever writing a single word. In between staring at blank sheets of paper, she studied law, met her husband and had two children. Whilst nursing her first child, she rediscovered her love of romance and found her muse. Joanna lives in Scotland with her family and finds time to write by eschewing sleep and popular culture.

 

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I Knew You Were Trouble (Oxford #5)

Author: Lauren Layne

Publisher: Loveswept

Rating: 5 stars

Buy Links: Amazon

Type: Novel in Series 

Provided by Publisher

 

Blurb: New York City’s hottest bachelors are stirring up trouble in this fun, flirty Oxford Novel, as a love triangle forces a feisty beauty to choose between winning back Mr. Right or giving in to Mr. Wrong.

Taylor Carr has it all—a sleek job in advertising, a stunning Manhattan apartment, and the perfect man to share it with: Bradley Calloway. Even after Bradley dumps her for a co-worker on move-in day, Taylor isn’t worried. She’ll get her man eventually. In the meantime, she needs a new roommate. Enter Nick Ballantine, career bartender, freelance writer—and longtime pain in Taylor’s ass. Sexy in a permanent five-o’clock-shadow kind of way, Nick knows how to push Taylor’s buttons, as if he could see right through to the real her.

Nick’s always trying to fix people, and nobody could use a good fixing more than Taylor. Sure, she’s gorgeous, with mesmerizing silver eyes, but it’s her vulnerability that kills him. Now that they’re shacking up together, the chemistry is out of control. Soon they’re putting every part of their two-bedroom apartment to good use. Then Taylor’s ex comes crawling back to her, and Nick figures she’ll jump at the chance to go back to her old life—unless he fights for the best thing that ever happened to him. Continue reading I Knew You Were Trouble (Oxford #5)

Dim Sum Asylum

Author: Rhys Ford

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Rating: 5 stars

Buy Links: DSP & Amazon

Type: Novel

Provided by Author

 

Blurb: * Novel-length expansion of original short story found in Charmed & Dangerous anthology. *

Welcome to Dim Sum Asylum: a San Francisco where it’s a ho-hum kind of case when a cop has to chase down an enchanted two-foot-tall shrine god statue with an impressive Fu Manchu mustache that’s running around Chinatown, trolling sex magic and chaos in its wake.

Senior Inspector Roku MacCormick of the Chinatown Arcane Crimes Division faces a pile of challenges far beyond his human-faerie heritage, snarling dragons guarding C-Town’s multiple gates, and exploding noodle factories. After a case goes sideways, Roku is saddled with Trent Leonard, a new partner he can’t trust, to add to the crime syndicate family he doesn’t want and a spell-casting serial killer he desperately needs to find.

While Roku would rather stay home with Bob the Cat and whiskey himself to sleep, he puts on his badge and gun every day, determined to serve and protect the city he loves. When Chinatown’s dark mystical underworld makes his life hell and the case turns deadly, Trent guards Roku’s back and, if Trent can be believed, his heart… even if from what Roku can see, Trent is as dangerous as the monsters and criminals they’re sworn to bring down. Continue reading Dim Sum Asylum

An Unnatural Vice (Sins of the Cities #2)

Author: K.J. Charles

Publisher: Loveswept

Rating: 5 stars

Buy Link: Amazon

Type: Novel in a Series

Received from Publisher

 

Blurb:  In the sordid streets of Victorian London, unwanted desire flares between two bitter enemies brought together by a deadly secret.

Crusading journalist Nathaniel Roy is determined to expose spiritualists who exploit the grief of bereaved and vulnerable people. First on his list is the so-called Seer of London, Justin Lazarus. Nathaniel expects him to be a cheap, heartless fraud. He doesn’t expect to meet a man with a sinful smile and the eyes of a fallen angel—or that a shameless swindler will spark his desires for the first time in years.

Justin feels no remorse for the lies he spins during his séances. His gullible clients simply bore him. Hostile, disbelieving, utterly irresistible Nathaniel is a fascinating challenge. And as their battle of wills and wits heats up, Justin finds he can’t stop thinking about the man who’s determined to ruin him.

But Justin and Nathaniel are linked by more than their fast-growing obsession with one another. They are both caught up in an aristocratic family’s secrets, and Justin holds information that could be lethal. As killers, fanatics, and fog close in, Nathaniel is the only man Justin can trust—and, perhaps, the only man he could love. Continue reading An Unnatural Vice (Sins of the Cities #2)

Liar, Liar

Author: TA Moore

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Rating: 5 stars

Buy Links: DSP & Amazon

Type: Novel

Received from Publisher

 

Blurb: Just another day at the office.

For some people that means spreadsheets, and for others it’s stitching endless hems. For Jacob Archer a day at the office is stealing proprietary information from a bioengineering firm for a paranoid software billionaire. He’s a liar and a thief, parlaying a glib tongue and a facile conscience into a lucrative career. He just has one rule—never get involved with a mark.

Well, had one rule. To be fair, though, Simon Ramsey is dark, dangerous, and has shoulders like a Greek statue. Besides, it’s not as though Jacob’s even really stealing from Simon… just his boss and his brother-in-law. Simon didn’t buy that excuse either after he caught Jacob breaking into the company’s computer network.

That would have been that—one messy breakup, one ticket to Bali booked—but it turns out that the stolen information is worth more than Jacob thought. With his life—and his ribs—threatened, Jacob needs Simon to help him out. Or maybe he just needs Simon. Continue reading Liar, Liar

Score (San Francisco Thunder #1)

Author: Victoria Denault 

Publisher: Forever

Rating: 5 stars

Buy Links: Amazon 

Type: Novel in Series 

Provided by Publisher

 

Blurb: He’s used to winning, but now he’s playing with his heart.

Jude Braddock. Hockey god. That’s how everyone sees him now. But when they were teenagers, Zoey knew him as the kid who didn’t have enough nerve to make a move on their one and only disastrous date. Seems he doesn’t have that problem anymore, though. According to the rumors, he’s with a different woman every night. After a rough divorce, the last thing Zoey needs is more heartbreak. But Jude’s cocky, playful attitude is mighty hard to resist.

Jude knows he isn’t built for long-term relationships. But he’s getting sick of women pounding on his door in the middle of the night looking for a rematch. When Zoey comes back into his life, it’s like fate has given him a second chance. He’ll do anything to make her happy again. Is this what love looks like? He has no idea. All he knows for sure is that this time, he’s playing for keeps. Continue reading Score (San Francisco Thunder #1)

Every Breath You Take

Author: Robert Winter

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Rating: 5 stars

Buy Links: DSP & Amazon

Type: Novel

Received from Publisher

 

Blurb: When Zachary Hall leaves Utah for a job in Washington, it’s finally his chance to live as a gay man and maybe find someone special. In a bar he meets Thomas Scarborough, a man who seems perfect in and out of the bedroom. But Thomas never dates. He never even sleeps with the same man twice. Despite their instant connection, he can offer Zachary only his friendship, and Zachary is looking for more.

Thomas is tempted to break his own rules, but years before, he became the victim of a stalker who nearly destroyed his life. Even though his stalker died, Thomas obsessively keeps others at a distance. Despite his fascination with Zachary, he is unable to lower his barriers. Frustrated, Zachary accepts he will never have what he wants with Thomas and soon finds it with another man. 

But young gay men in Washington, DC, are being murdered, and the victims all have a connection to Thomas. Once again someone is watching Thomas’s every move. Can it be a coincidence? When the depraved killer turns his attention toward Zachary, Thomas must face the demons of his past—or lose his chance to open his heart to Zachary forever. Continue reading Every Breath You Take

Snared (Elemental Assassins #16)

Author: Jennifer Estep

Publisher: Threshold, Pocket Books

Rating: 5 stars

Buy Links: Amazon 

Type: Novel in Series 

Provided by Publisher

 

Blurb: The sixteenth book in the New York Times bestselling Elemental Assassin urban fantasy series that RT Book Reviews calls, “An extraordinary series…[containing] one of the most intriguing heroines in the genre.”

If you don’t know Gin “the Spider” Blanco, you don’t know dangerous female heroines.

Irony 101—The Spider herself snared in someone else’s web…

Another week, another few clues trickling in about the Circle, the mysterious group that supposedly runs the city’s underworld. Gathering intel on my hidden enemies is a painstaking process, but a more immediate mystery has popped up on my radar: a missing girl.

My search for the girl begins on the mean streets of Ashland, but with all the killers and crooks in this city, I’m not holding out much hope that she’s still alive.

A series of clues leads me down an increasingly dark, dangerous path, and I realize that the missing girl is really just the first thread in this web of evil. As an assassin, I’m used to facing down the worst of the worst, but nothing prepares me for this new, terrifying enemy—one who strikes from the shadows and is determined to make me the next victim. Continue reading Snared (Elemental Assassins #16)