Review: Us by Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy

Posted November 20, 2018 by Casee in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Us by Sarina Bowen and Elle KennedyReviewer: Casee
Us (Him, #2) by Sarina Bowen, Elle Kennedy
Series: Him #2
Also in this series: Us (Him, #2), Him (Him #1)
Publisher: Rennie Road Books
Publication Date: March 8, 2016
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Alternating First
Genres: M/M
Pages: 322
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads
four-half-stars

Can your favorite hockey players finish their first season together undefeated?

Five months in, NHL forward Ryan Wesley is having a record-breaking rookie season. He’s living his dream of playing pro hockey and coming home every night to the man he loves—Jamie Canning, his longtime best friend turned boyfriend. There’s just one problem: the most important relationship of his life is one he needs to keep hidden, or else face a media storm that will eclipse his success on the ice.

Jamie loves Wes. He really, truly does. But hiding sucks. It’s not the life Jamie envisioned for himself, and the strain of keeping their secret is taking its toll. It doesn’t help that his new job isn’t going as smoothly as he’d hoped, but he knows he can power through it as long as he has Wes. At least apartment 10B is their retreat, where they can always be themselves.

Or can they?

When Wes’s nosiest teammate moves in upstairs, the threads of their carefully woven lie begin to unravel. With the outside world determined to take its best shot at them, can Wes and Jamie develop major-league relationship skills on the fly?

Warning: contains sexual situations, a vibrating chair, long-distance sexytimes and proof that hockey players look hot in any shade of green.

After reading Him, I immediately picked up Us. I proceeded to read it in one day. You guys know me…that rarely happens. Until the end of September I don’t even remember the last time I read a book in a day. The last book I remember reading in a day was Acheron by Sherrilyn Kenyon. Which was quite a feat, I have to say.

This book picks up exactly where Us left off. Wes and Jamie are in Toronto, living together as “roommates” although they’re really shacking up. fans myself These two are it. They are love. However it’s different this time around. See, Wes has to go back into the closet during his rookie season with his hockey team. He knows that coming out as gay could mess up his future. While he’s never been ashamed of who he is nor ashamed of Jamie, he will not risk his hockey career for anything.

Jamie has started coaching younger kids, which he loves. He did like playing hockey, but coaching is his niche. He loves the challenge of it and seeing the results. He would be completely happy with his life if he and Wes didn’t have to hide. The only sanctuary they have is their apartment. It’s only there that they can truly be themselves, be together, just be. Then one of Wes’ hockey teammates moves in upstairs. If Wes and Jamie didn’t think things could get worse, they were wrong.

This book is really about two people trying to be themselves and be together, but having to make a sacrifice for something that is important to them both. Wes hates being in the closet. He’s never been in the closet and he’s proud of who he is. He thought Jamie would be more afraid of coming out with him, but even he gets tired on the charade. They barely see each other due to Wes’ hockey schedule and the precious time they used to have at home continually gets interrupted by Blake, Wes’ teammate.

Then Jamie gets sick and all bets are off. Wes no longer cares if he’s dropped by the team because of the negative publicity. He will not leave Jamie alone in the hospital. It all comes out from there and both Wes and Jamie are relieved though they certainly wouldn’t have come out like that.

Jamie has a hard recovery. This was written incredibly well. Even men have a hard time. Even men can fall into a depression. The thing is that men think they should always be strong. Jamie can’t accept the fact that he’s physically weaker because of his illness. He doesn’t count on the depression either. What he does know is that he has to get away from Wes and he doesn’t even know why.

This part of the book was heartbreaking. They both were just wrecked. I just loved this book from beginning to end. I’m really excited to read Good Boy, which is Blake and Jess’ story. I found Blake incredibly annoying at the beginning, but I adored him by the end. He stuck with Wes and Jamie through everything, proving himself as one of their best friends. He was fantastic.

I highly recommend this series. It is amazing. Don’t pass it up because it’s m/m. If you’ve ever wanted to give m/m a try, this is the series to get started with. Seriously, get started.

Wes + Jamie = FOREVA.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Him

four-half-stars


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Excerpt: Once Upon a Cowboy by Stina Lindenblatt

Posted November 20, 2018 by Rowena in Promotions | 0 Comments

Once upon a time, I used to love the heck out of western romances. I haven’t read one in ages but when this book was brought to my attention, I perked right up. This series sounds like a good one and Once Upon a Cowboy, the second book in the Copper Creek series released last week so it can be yours today for the low price of $3.99!!

Excerpt: Once Upon a Cowboy by Stina LindenblattOnce Upon a Cowboy (Copper Creek, #2) by Stina Lindenblatt
Series: Copper Creek #2
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: November 14, 2018
Format: eBook
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 297
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Goodreads

Cinderella's fairy godmother just turned hot. And male. Very, very male.

Sexy cowboy Jake Daniels has three priorities in his life: his horse ranch that he manages with his brother, his family, and Sophie West. Sophie is the ranch’s horse trainer and his close friend. The one thing he doesn’t have time for is a girlfriend. And he especially doesn’t have time for a relationship with an employee. Mixing business with pleasure never ends well. Been there. Done that. Had it branded on his ass.

Not a problem—until Sophie asks for his help. She’s tired of being single. She’s ready to find her soul mate—or at least a nice man. The issue? She’s socially awkward around guys she’s interested in. The solution? Recruit Jake to be her “fairy godfather” and help her be more confident, especially around the new veterinarian who just moved into town.

Great plan, except Sophie's no naive Cinderella and Jake realizes if anyone's going to be her Prince Charming, he wants it to be him. If only he didn't have to put his heart on the line to win hers.

We are very fortunate to be sharing an excerpt from the book today so please, check it out!

Order the Book:

AMAZON || BARNES AND NOBLE || GOOGLE || KOBO

Excerpt

“So will you do it?” she asks.

I’m about to say “Hell, yes.” Of course I’d be more than happy to give her all the orgasms she can handle…and then some. But a voice in my head points out that I’m a dumbass. That’s not what she’s talking about.

“Will you be like my fairy godmother? You know, the one who turns Cinderella’s rags into a ball gown and a pumpkin into a sparkly coach?”

Here’s the thing about men. Half the time we have no idea what women are talking about. What might seem highly logical to the woman is miles from there for the man.

This is one of those times.

“I have no idea what you’re talking about, Soph. For one, I’m a man. Two—while I might not know anything about the movie, I’m pretty sure the fairy godmother performs some sort of magical spell. Unfortunately, my business degree didn’t include any courses along those lines.”

Chuckling, she pats my arm. “That doesn’t matter. It’s like the Cinderella trope in romances. A friend—sometimes a female and sometimes a gay guy—turns the dull, kind of ugly heroine into a beautiful swan. Then the prince—or whoever the guy might be—falls in love with her.”

“One—you’re already beautiful. You don’t need help with that. And two—are you telling me you think I’m gay?” I slap my hand against my chest, the move as genuine as veneer is to wood.

She laughs. “I’m aware that you’re one hundred percent heterosexual man, which is why I need your help. Who better to teach me to be more comfortable around guys I’m interested in than you?”

Even though the words are coated with syrup to sweeten the blow, they’re a sucker punch to the gut.

One.

Two.

Three…you’re out.

I must have misheard her. That has to be it. There’s no way she just asked me to help her land a boyfriend.

“Please, Jake. You’re my only hope.” The pleading in her voice is like going for another round with a heavyweight champ. You’re already weakened from the first blow and now more likely to go down for the final count.

“Except I have no idea how to teach you something like that. It’s not a skill I’ve ever had to think about.”

She reaches up and kisses my cheek. “I’m sure you’ll figure something out.”

An electrical hum vibrates from the spot where her lips touched me, and I resist the urge to cover it with my fingers.

Remember how I said I would do anything for her?

Now I’m wishing that wasn’t true.

But Ryan is a nice guy. Is he damaged after finding out his fiancée cheated on him?

Possibly.

Sophie deserves to be with someone who makes her happy. She deserves for all her dreams to come true.

Ryan could be that guy…if he gives her a chance.

You really are an idiot, my heart says.

I ignore it.

“All right,” I say. “I’ll help you. I don’t know how I’m going to do it, because I’m guessing this isn’t something I can Google to find the answer. But somehow I’ll help you win your man.”

The bright side?

Once she and Ryan are headed toward their own happily ever after, I can finally move on.

I can finally stop lusting after my best friend.

She flings her arms around my shoulders. Her sweet scent of strawberries and cream teases me. Not helping me, Soph. “Thank you so much, Jake. I owe you big-time.”

My arms automatically go around her and I hold her close. Closer than I should, given we’re just friends and I promised to help her with her love life.

Even with our jackets on, I can feel her heat sinking into my body. It fuels my heart rate,
causing it to kick up a notch.

This isn’t the first time I’ve hugged her.

But it is the first time it’s felt this way. This amazing.

Shit.

Copper Creek

About Stina Lindenblatt

I’m a traditionally and indie published romance author. My traditional books are heavy on heart and emotion. My indie books are on the light and hilarious side of things. But either way, my stories are full of sexy times. I love to travel, and have lived in England, the US, Canada, and Finland. In my free time, I enjoy photography, especially the close-up variety.


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Booksgiving with Book Binge: Day 14

Posted November 20, 2018 by Rowena in Giveaways | 3 Comments

November is a month of giving and a month of sharing so we had a thought. We’ve been at this book blogging thing for over eleven years now and to show our appreciation for all of you lovely readers taking this journey with us, we’ve got books to give away! We’re making this a month of Booksgiving and we hope you’ll join us.

Today’s giveaway includes the following:

Wilde in Love by Eloisa James
The Duke of Her Desire by Sophie Barnes
Tempest by Beverly Jenkins

To enter, please use the Gleam widget below. All you have to do is leave a comment on this blog post, answering the question included in the widget and you are good to go.

Booksgiving with Book Binge, Day 14

What’s the last song you heard recently that you enjoyed and why?

Good luck!


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Guest Review: Renegade Protector by Nico Rosso

Posted November 20, 2018 by Jen in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: Renegade Protector by Nico RossoReviewer: Jen
Renegade Protector by Nico Rosso
Publisher: Harlequin Intrigue
Publication Date: November 20, 2018
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Alternating Third Person
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 256
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Goodreads
two-half-stars

When intimidation turns to deadly force,

It’s time for Frontier Justice.

If ruthless developers want Mariana Balducci’s land, they’ll have to kill her for it. And they nearly succeed—until Ty Morrison foils her attacker. The sexy San Francisco cop is part of a secret organization called Frontier Justice. Mariana is tough, but she realizes she can’t win this fight alone. And when bullets fly, Ty realizes battling bad guys is easier than fighting their sizzling attraction.

Look for 6 new titles from Harlequin Intrigue every month!

Harlequin Intrigue: Edge-of-your-seat mysteries, fearless romance…resourceful women and tough-as-nails men fight for survival.

Mariana Balducci is being pressured to sell her family’s California apple orchard to developers. When the developers start switching from hard-sell business tactics to all-out threats and violence, Mariana doesn’t know if she can hold out…until Ty Morrison swoops in to lend support. Ty doesn’t offer much information about himself or why he’s there to help, but Mariana needs him if she’s going to get the developers off her back and preserve her family’s heritage. Ty has an alternate agenda, however, and when Mariana finds out she may never forgive him.

There were many things I liked about this book, and many things I didn’t. I did actually like the romance between Mariana and Ty. It moves too fast like so many romantic suspenses, but they do seem to have a great connection. I believed that they’d be a good couple going forward. I like that there was a lot of action in the book–there is a lot happening and it kept me interested. I also liked Mariana and Ty. Both were kind of broody but were smart and driven. Plus, the people in this world are diverse in a casual and realistic way, not entirely white as other Harlequin books would have you believe.

Unfortunately, the book also suffers from some of the same criticisms I often have with Rosso’s books. He focuses much more on description and inner thoughts than on dialogue, and his description is sometimes overwrought and kind of silly. Take this passage where Ty is describing eating an apple from Mariana’s orchard:

Savoring it this way strengthened the connection he’d been feeling with her all night. Her work, part of herself, was in his mouth, intimate and close. An apple had never made his blood rush like this.

A little dramatic, especially when he just met hours ago her, no? It’s not bad exactly, but it does get a little old as the story goes on. The plot also has way too much that doesn’t make sense. It’s never properly explained why these seemingly legit land developers would suddenly become willing to kill someone, beyond “money.” Mariana also just lets Ty into her life immediately, with very little mistrust or hesitation. Girl, you have no idea who he is or why he is there, and you barely ask any questions! It’s dangerous and, more importantly, draws out Ty’s lie of omission for absolutely no reason. 

Worse, the larger story arc that I assume will be continued in future books makes no sense. There is almost no explanation given for Ty’s secret mission. He wants to rebuild an organization his ancestors helped found, called Frontier Justice, that…got justice? On the frontier? I really had no idea what that meant beyond that they “helped.” And now Ty, who is AN ACTUAL POLICE OFFICER I might add, wants to create a vigilante justice organization. In this book, they do some pretty illegal stuff to help Mariana, too. He doesn’t seem to plan to quit his day job so how exactly would that work? I don’t know if there was just not enough attention given to world-building/explanation or if the whole premise is poorly designed, but either way, I rolled my eyes a bunch.

It probably sounds like I hated this book, but I definitely didn’t and I really struggled with wanting to give this a 3 instead of 2.5. I was disappointed in parts of the plot, for sure, but I think (?) this will be the start of a new series. I hold out some hope that future books will work better on that front. Still, this book has a different vibe and tone than your average Harlequin Intrigue, and I appreciate that. I appreciate Rosso’s voice, even if I don’t always love his stories, which is why I am glad to see him bringing something fresh to Harlequin.

Grade: 2.5 out of 5

two-half-stars


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Review: Him by Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy

Posted November 19, 2018 by Casee in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Him by Sarina Bowen and Elle KennedyReviewer: Casee
Him (Him #1) by Sarina Bowen, Elle Kennedy
Series: Him #1
Also in this series: Us (Him, #2), Us (Him, #2)
Publisher: Rennie Road Books
Publication Date: July 28, 2015
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Alternating First
Genres: M/M
Pages: 360
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads
four-stars

They don’t play for the same team. Or do they?

Jamie Canning has never been able to figure out how he lost his closest friend. Four years ago, his tattooed, wise-cracking, rule-breaking roommate cut him off without an explanation. So what if things got a little weird on the last night of hockey camp the summer they were eighteen? It was just a little drunken foolishness. Nobody died.

Ryan Wesley’s biggest regret is coaxing his very straight friend into a bet that pushed the boundaries of their relationship. Now, with their college teams set to face off at the national championship, he’ll finally get a chance to apologize. But all it takes is one look at his longtime crush, and the ache is stronger than ever.

Jamie has waited a long time for answers, but walks away with only more questions—can one night of sex ruin a friendship? If not, how about six more weeks of it? When Wesley turns up to coach alongside Jamie for one more hot summer at camp, Jamie has a few things to discover about his old friend... and a big one to learn about himself.

Warning: contains sexual situations, skinnydipping, shenanigans in an SUV and proof that coming out to your family on social media is a dicey proposition.

Due to the fact that I no longer have an aversion to first person, I decided to pick this book up. Elle Kennedy is my girl (although she doesn’t know it) and Sarina Bowen is Holly & Rowena’s (though I don’t think she knows it). This is seriously an ace writing team, so I was really excited to read this book. It’s the first m/m that I’ve read in sometime. I really decided to read it after I read Tracy’s review of Us. I just couldn’t not read it.

Ryan Wesley never expected to see Jamie Canning again. After becoming best friends a hockey camp over the summers when they were young, Wes ruined it the night he made an unforgivable bet with Jamie. Wes left camp and never looked back although he regularly regrets it. Even when he was eighteen, Wes know that Jamie was the only man for him. Problem with that was that Jamie is as straight as an arrow.

Fast forward several years and Wes and Jamie meet at the championship for college hockey. Seeing Jamie makes Wes realized that he didn’t just lose the man he loved, he also lost his best friend. He decides to apologize, which is something he should have done a long time ago.

Jamie never knew why Wes disappeared from his life. Hurt for the friend that he lost, Jamie is thrilled to see him again. He still doesn’t know why Wes left camp so suddenly. All they did was a little experimenting and Wes paid up on a bet. He doesn’t even consider that the bet could have been the reason Wes left and never spoke to him again. He was wrong.

Knowing he was going to lose Jamie for a second time, Wes makes a rash decision. He contacts the director of the very same hockey camp that he and Jamie went to as kids and offers to be a coach. Jamie goes back every summer to coach. All he wants to do is spend six weeks with the man he loves before he heads to Toronto and the NHL. It doesn’t even matter that Jamie doesn’t know it.

I found this book incredibly realistic. After a hot night between the sheets, Jamie grapples with his sexuality. He’s never been attracted to men, but he can’t stop what he feels for Wes. When their summer comes to an end, Jamie won’t let their time to be over. He loves Wes just as much as Wes loves him and nothing, not even Wes’ career is going to stand in the way of him being with the man he loves.

The book wasn’t as much about being gay as it was about finding your person. Wes was Jamie’s person. Jamie was Wes’ person. The fact that they were both men meant little to Jamie. He was a little naïve though. He didn’t realize how difficult it was for Wes to be out of the closet as a gay man. He soon finds out what Wes faces when he faces it himself. That’s still not enough to keep him away from Wes.

I loved Wes and Jamie. Loved them. They were truly meant for each other. Not just romantically, but as best friends. If you’re looking for a good m/m, this is your book.

Rating: 4.25 out of 5.

Him

four-stars


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