#NewRelease: Goodbye Paradise, by @SarinaBowen

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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.

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If you’d like a copy of Goodbye Paradise, you can find it on:

AmazonB&NKobo

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About the Author:

Sarina Bowen is a USA Today bestselling author of contemporary romance. She lives in Vermont’s Green Mountains with her family, six chickens and too much ski gear and hockey equipment.

In 2016, Sarina became a Rita Award winner! The Romance Writers of America honored HIM by Sarina Bowen & Elle Kennedy with Best Contemporary Romance, Mid-Length.

Find out more:

#Review: 180 Day, by @TE_Ridener

180-daysTitle: 180 Days (Prairie Town #1)
Author: T.E. Ridener
Rating: 5/5 stars

“Lydia McIntosh left her old life behind when she said goodbye to Prairie Town, North Carolina and started over halfway across the country with her beloved Gran; away from her family, away from everyone who knew the person she once was, and from the identity she never quite wanted in the first place. When her grandmother passes away, she returns home and while she only intends to stay for the funeral, her grandmother has other plans, from the grave. Her will states that Lydia must remain in Prairie Town for six months in order to give her family and her old town a chance to get to know the new her, the real her.

Lydia has had years to adjust to long hair, summer dresses, and nail polish, but she understands her family will need time to get reacquainted with a daughter they’ve never known and a sister they’ve missed terribly. Anticipating the worst, as she always has, Lydia’s feelings about her old town begin to change when she meets her brother’s best friend, Callum. Callum is kind and more accepting than she could have ever imagined and she’s falling for him.

When her 180 days are over, will she be able to say goodbye to the family she’s missed so much? Will she survive her mother’s endless intolerance? Can she really leave the man who acknowledges her past and still wants her?

A NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This is a story about a transgender girl and her journey to acceptance and love when she returns to her hometown. Within the pages of this book you will be introduced to characters who color outside the lines and that’s just how they like it. I implore you to give them a chance because we are all beautiful and unique in our own ways, and we all deserve love and happiness.” (description from Goodreads)

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I’m happy that this book wound up being my first romance with a transgender lead character in it. Through reading it, I was able to diversify my reading even more. And it’s not just a box for me to check off. It was a way to expand my understanding and knowledge of the real world where such a variety of people live. Along with that, I was able to discover a series that might make it on my favorites list as I read more of the Prairie Town books.

There was so much in this book that I loved. I could go on and on about the characters and the depth the author gave to them. Ridener was even able to make me enjoy a book with more than two POVs. And I think that was a major plus for helping the book work. As a reader I was able to see into the minds of a variety of characters, and not just the two romantic leads.

And this book was more than just a romance, though it was in there and worth the read for it alone. It’s a coming of age story. It’s a novel about family and acceptance within a family, a community, and within oneself. There are many different levels in 180 Days and I’d rather not pick the book apart. I think it’s better to just know that this book was a great read and worth giving a chance! It also has me eyeing the rest of the books in the series already, and I’ve only just finished it this morning. I can’t wait to visit Prairie Town again soon.

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You can grab a copy of this book from

Amazon | Kobo | B&N

And since I listened to this on audio, and enjoyed it in that format, here’s the link for:

Audible

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About the Author:

T.E. Ridener, better known as Tonya to her close friends and family, was born in a small town in Kentucky but be not fooled; she has huge dreams and chases them every day. With a love for the written word and the imagination to back it up, Tonya spends her days writing, playing on Photoshop, and getting into the usual shenanigans of an author.

She recently started a new series that features transgender characters. Two books have already been released (180 Days, 90 Days), and she *hopes* to release The Next Thirty Days soon. Her other titles include The Kadenburg Shifters SeriesThe Blood Betrayal SeriesThe Descendants Series, and Chartreuse.

When she’s not writing, she’s watching her favorite TV shows (Teen WolfThe OriginalsGame of ThronesSense8, Penny Dreadful, Shadowhunters), and lots of movies.

Find out more:

Themed Book Recommendations: Men who write M/M Romance

Themed Book Recommendations is back! Yes, there was a holiday reading edition, but that was the first in a long time and then I skipped a week. Let’s hope it sticks this time.

For this list, I’ve put together (with a HUGE help from Twitter friends, new and old) a list of male authors who write M/M books. Why did I create this recommendations list? Well, while men dominate the publishing world still (big shock), the romance world is heavily populated by women. It always has been (to my knowledge), and it’s a great thing. But at the same time, I noticed something in my search for more diverse books.

Most of the M/M (that’s male/male if you’re new here) books I’ve read, seen promoted through my regular channels, had on this blog…they’re all written by women authors. Straight (to my knowledge, but I don’t go around asking) women authors. I’ve enjoyed MANY of these books. I have nothing against any of these books or authors. I’m friends with many. But I got to thinking, what are the guys writing about in their M/M books? Why don’t I see as much of these books in my timeline from those authors making the bestsellers lists? Why have I only read a handful of them, and probably only the random short stories I find?

I’m here to help shed more light on male written M/M books, today. It’s all part of making my own reading more diverse, and hopefully you’ll add some to your TBR, as well. In the end we just want to read ALL THE BOOKS! And that includes books from everyone from every walk of life. I can’t wait to dive in, and I hope you’re ready too!

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Special thanks for many of the names on this list go out to: Con Riley, Megan Erickson, KJ Charles, (Twitter) Jenny from Reading the End, Amy Jo Cousins, Chelsea M. Cameron, Dirty Book Chick, and anyone else I left out.

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Find something you might want to read? I hope so. Want to see another set of recommendations focused on a theme? Let me know what that theme is, and if you can help with some recs for it, include them in the message.

Happy reading!

#Review: Second Kiss, by @Chel_C_Cam

second-kissTitle: Second Kiss (Violet Hill #1)
Author: Chelsea M. Cameron
Rating: 5/5 stars

Daisy Grace Webber’s life hasn’t exactly turned out how she thought. She didn’t think she’d drop out of college and come back to the small town she grew up in. To be fair, she didn’t think her love of baking would turn into a job at the Violet Hill Cafe either, but it did.

Something else she didn’t expect was for Molly Madison to walk back into her life, eight years after she moved away. They’d been best friends forever, or so she’d thought. But Molly is back in town and she’s looking… really good, actually. And that reminds Daisy of that one time at a sleepover when they’d kissed during a game of Spin the Bottle. That one kiss has been on her mind since then, but it’s irrelevant. Molly isn’t into girls.

But as Daisy and Molly spend more time together, feelings start to grow, and Daisy is wondering just how “straight” Molly really is…” (description from Goodreads)

fancy lineresizeSecond chance romances may be the trope I enjoy most within romance. And Chelsea M. Cameron gets it right in Second Kiss. She gets it right and in a refreshing way for my reading history.

I still haven’t read enough f/f romances, so the premise of this story was very fresh for me. I’ve read a few books where best friends fall in love, before. But they’ve all been friends of the opposite sex. There’s a completely different dynamic than when those friends are both women. That’s a big part in why I enjoyed reading this novella. There’s a deep history between the characters and the connection could be felt even with a fast-growing romance occurring.

Along with the great storyline and characters, we get a slow-growing small town setting. Another thing I enjoy in the romances I read. We get a few secondary characters, as well. Knowing this is part of a series makes me hopeful we’ll see more of them and the town in coming novels or novellas. I’d be more than willing to keep reading in this world.

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You can grab a copy of Second Kiss from:

Amazon

and if you’d like more F/F romance from Cameron, you can find her YA novel Style at:

Amazon | Kobo | B&N | iBooks

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About the Author:

Chelsea M. Cameron is a YA/NA New York Times/USA Today Best Selling author from Maine. Lover of things random and ridiculous, Jane Austen/Charlotte and Emily Bronte Fangirl, red velvet cake enthusiast, obsessive tea drinker, vegetarian, former cheerleader and world’s worst video gamer. When not writing, she enjoys watching infomercials, singing in the car and tweeting. She has a degree in journalism from the University of Maine, Orono that she promptly abandoned to write about the people in her own head. More often than not, these people turn out to be just as weird as she is.

Find out more:

#NewRelease: Second Kiss, by @Chel_C_Cam

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Daisy Grace Webber’s life hasn’t exactly turned out how she thought. She didn’t think she’d drop out of college and come back to the small town she grew up in. To be fair, she didn’t think her love of baking would turn into a job at the Violet Hill Cafe either, but it did.

Something else she didn’t expect was for Molly Madison to walk back into her life, eight years after she moved away. They’d been best friends forever, or so she’d thought. But Molly is back in town and she’s looking… really good, actually. And that reminds Daisy of that one time at a sleepover when they’d kissed during a game of Spin the Bottle. That one kiss has been on her mind since then, but it’s irrelevant. Molly isn’t into girls.

But as Daisy and Molly spend more time together, feelings start to grow, and Daisy is wondering just how “straight” Molly really is…

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You can grab a copy of Second Kiss from:

Amazon

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About the Author:

Chelsea M Cameron

Chelsea M. Cameron is a YA/NA New York Times/USA Today Best Selling author from Maine. Lover of things random and ridiculous, Jane Austen/Charlotte and Emily Bronte Fangirl, red velvet cake enthusiast, obsessive tea drinker, vegetarian, former cheerleader and world’s worst video gamer. When not writing, she enjoys watching infomercials, singing in the car and tweeting. She has a degree in journalism from the University of Maine, Orono that she promptly abandoned to write about the people in her own head. More often than not, these people turn out to be just as weird as she is.

Find out more:

#Review: Out of Frame, by @MeganErickson_

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Title: Out of Frame (In Focus #3)
Author: Megan Erickson
Rating: 5/5 stars

Romance trades the open road for the high seas in the latest from the author of Focus on Me and Trust the Focus

Perpetually shy, Quinn Mathers is content to remain in the shadow of his brash best friend Jess Hartman. But before their college graduation, he and Jess have planned one last hurrah: a spring break Caribbean cruise.
 
And it won’t be just any cruise. On board are members of the reality show Trip League, which follows young twenty-somethings on adventures around the world. Since the show’s beginning, Quinn has been fascinated by J. R. Butler, with his amazing body, warm eyes, and killer grin. Unfortunately, he’s straight—or so the world thinks.
 
At nineteen, J. R. signed a contract to play straight for the show, and there’s no way to get out of it now. Yet with each passing day, Quinn and J. R. find it harder to keep their hands off each other and to keep out of the camera’s frame. But when the lens finally focuses on them, J. R. must decide if he’s willing to risk his career by admitting his bisexuality, and Quinn must determine if he’s bold enough to stand in the spotlight with the man of his dreams…
 (description from Goodreads)

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Erickson continues to write great books in her In Focus series. Out of Frame was no exception. In fact, it was more enjoyable than I was expecting.

I wasn’t too keen on the reality show and cruise ship aspects of the book, after reading the description. Those are just two things I don’t normally have interest in. But, it’s a book written by Megan Erickson. I had to give it a chance, especially since I loved the first two books in the series. The two aspects of the book that I wasn’t expecting to like may be the two that made this story as good as it was.

Being on a cruise ship, the characters were limited in where they could go, who they could interact with, and what they could do. Add in the cameras, fans, and script of a reality show…you get a difficult to develop relationship between two characters needing something good to happen to them.

I think if I went into more detail about why Quinn and J.R. were so great, and why I liked them together, this review would end up being too long. Plus, I want to leave readers with things to discover for themselves. Just know, like all Erickson’s characters, there’s a great deal of depth to them. Even the secondary characters. (Maybe Jess could get her own spin-off?)

Out of Frame takes to the seas for a road trip of a different sort. But it still continues on in a series full of memorable moments with memorable characters. I’m confident that when I get to the 4th book, Overexposed, the magic will continue.

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If you’d like a copy of this book, you can find it on:

Amazon | B&N | KoboiBooks

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About the Author:

Megan EricksonMegan worked as a journalist covering real-life dramas before she decided she liked writing her own endings better and switched to fiction.

She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, two kids and two cats. When she’s not tapping away on her laptop, she’s probably listening to the characters in her head who won’t stop talking.

Find out more:

#Review: Cole in His Stocking, by @Nya_Rawlyns

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Title: Cole in His Stocking
Author: Nya Rawlyns
Rating: 2.5/5 stars

There’s no place more festive, more glorious than the Big Apple during the Holidays. Jake Richardson loves the city, loves the lights and the hustle and bustle … but being alone again has put a real damper on his Christmas spirit.

Cole O’Neil is marking time as he plans his escape to a new life in the country, doing what he’s always dreamed about. When he encounters Jake at a party, he’s completely unprepared for the vision with curly auburn hair and sinful green eyes.

What starts as an embarrassing accident sends both Cole and Jake on a journey of discovery, but with time running out will they be able to find the courage to accept the magic of the season and to believe in each other? 

Holiday M/M romance short story (25659 words)” (description from Goodreads)

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Leading into the last months of the year, I tend to lean toward holiday-related stories. That’s one of the reasons I gave this one a shot. It’s also an M/M romance. Being that I want my holiday reading to be more diverse than in the past, this was a great choice for me.

But, as you see from my rating, this story didn’t shine through for me as much as I had hoped. It has a great premise. And to quote the description “There’s no place more festive, more glorious than the Big Apple during the Holidays,” maybe I held it up to those words too much. One of the main things I felt hurt the story was the way the point of view was written. It’s a third person story, told from both Cole and Jake’s points of view. While this is normal, I didn’t feel that the switching between the two was balanced enough with the telling of the story, nor were the transitions always very smooth.

Along with that, I think the characters were too inside their own heads for the reader to see the full story, the full relationship blooming. It was slightly a case of telling more than showing due to this. It also didn’t give way to much in the way of showing a “festive…Big Apple.” I felt the holiday aspect was lost to being a mere mention.

Even though I didn’t feel emotionally involved in the relationship, the characters, and their issues, there was early promise with this novella. Maybe it needed to stick to following one character’s POV. Maybe it just needed more room to flesh itself out and not be bogged down inside of the men’s heads. It wasn’t totally put off of reading Rawlyns again. The author is good with her words, when looking closer at a sentence. I’m hoping other works could suit my tastes better.

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If you’d like a copy of this novella, you can find it on:

Amazon

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About the Author:

Crossing boundaries, taking no prisoners. Write what’s in your soul. It’s the bass beat, the heartbeat, the lyrics rude and true. Nya Rawlyns is the pseudonym of a writer who cut her teeth on sports-themed romantic comedy and historical romances before finding her true calling in the wilderness areas she has visited but calls “home” in that place that counts the most: the heart. She has lived in the country and on a sailboat on the Chesapeake Bay, earned more than 1000 miles in competitive trail and endurance racing, taught Political Science to unwilling freshmen, and found an avocation in materials science. When she isn’t tending to her garden or the horses, the cats, or two pervert parakeets, she can be found day dreaming and listening to the voices in her head.

Find out more: