Genre: M/M

Sunday Spotlight: Illegal Contact by Santino Hassell

Posted August 13, 2017 by Holly in Features, Giveaways | 4 Comments

Sunday Spotlight is a feature we began in 2016. This year we’re spotlighting our favorite books, old and new. We’ll be  raving about the books we love and being total fangirls. You’ve been warned. 🙂

Sunday Spotlight

Sunday Spotlight: Illegal Contact by Santino HassellIllegal Contact (The Barons, #1) by Santino Hassell
Series: The Barons #1
Published by Penguin, Intermix
Publication Date: August 15, 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance, M/M
Pages: 251
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads

The rules of the game don’t apply off the field in this first Barons novel. 

New York Barons tight end Gavin Brawley is suspended from the team and on house arrest after a video of him brawling goes viral. Gavin already has a reputation as a jerk with a temper on and off the field—which doesn’t help him once he finds himself on the wrong side of the law. And while he’s been successful professionally, he’s never been lucky when it comes to love.

Noah Monroe is a recent college grad looking for a job—any job—to pay off his mounting student debt. Working as Gavin’s personal assistant/babysitter seems like easy money. But Noah isn’t prepared for the electrifying tension between him and the football player. He’s not sure if he’d rather argue with Gavin or tackle him to the floor. But both men know the score, and neither is sure what will happen once Gavin's timeout is over…

Order the Book:

AMAZON || BARNES AND NOBLE || KOBO

Excerpt


Gavin

Somewhere in the past couple of weeks, right around the time I’d watched Noah’s face light up as he threw himself into philanthropic planning schemes and he’d warned me about Joe being a nosy scumbag, I’d lost my mind. Evidence? Me wanting to smack my closest friend for putting the moves on him.

At first I’d thought I was being overprotective. Not even a week ago, I’d had this whole talk with Noah about him feeling safe, and I’d taken it seriously. As a foster kid, I’d never felt safe. Especially in the homes of people who’d temporarily taken me in. I’d been constantly reminded of my precarious position in their houses, and how they could put in a thirty-day notice with my social worker at any point. And they’d used that leverage against me.

I wasn’t about to step into the shoes of bastards who’d worked hard to ensure I would end up distrusting and despising people for the rest of my life.

He was my employee. I was his boss. He obviously didn’t trust me but had agreed to shack up in my house for two reasons only—money to help his father and to catch up on his debt. He didn’t really want to be here, but he had to be. The least I could do was respect his wishes. The same for my friends, but Simeon was laying it on thick.

As he’d run his hands all over Noah, I’d justified each jolt of discomfort by saying Simeon was shitting all over my promise. But Noah agreeing to fan day and whatever else? That had turned discomfort into outright jealousy. Especially since he hadn’t even known my damn name after meeting me at the interview, but he knew all sorts of random facts about Simeon. Simeon, who was in full-throttle, charming superstar QB mode. I was over it.

Regardless, my jealousy was a complete anomaly. Had never happened before. But it was happening right the fuck now, and I was furious with myself. Who cared if Noah was cute and a smartass who wasn’t afraid to tell me to go fuck myself? And so what if that turned me on? Who cared if he was proving to be helpful and loyal enough to warn me about Joe? He was still my employee. I wasn’t supposed to care that he was more interested in my best friend.

Fuck. Whose idea had it been for me to be someone’s boss? I had zero clue what I was doing. Why had I ever listened to Joe?

I returned to the game room and paced the mostly empty space. I’d just seen that anger-management person a few days ago, and every tip and suggestion had flown out of my mind. All I could think about was how pissed I was at myself, and how I needed to go down to the gym and beat the shit out of a punching bag to work it out of my system. The last time I’d been this mad at myself had been when I’d trusted a journalist who’d invented a fake backstory for himself to get me to respond to his prying questions. Then he’d blasted my childhood across the front page of the newspaper.

Gavin Brawley Blames His Out of Control Temper on Hardscrabble Past.

Every word out of context. Bits and pieces of my identity twisted to fit the story he’d wanted. After that, I’d vowed to never talk to a reporter again. I hadn’t expected my emotional thermometer to blast through to enraged over Simeon coming on to Noah. And now I had nothing to use as an outlet. I could work out from morning to night, but after a while it was monotonous. Energy being expended but not going anywhere, and I felt like it circled the air and absorbed right back into my shoulders every goddamn night.

“You’re being real extra right now.”

Marcus’ calm voice did nothing to settle me down. “Shut up.”

“Nah.” Marcus yawned and plopped onto one of the sofas. “Fuck, dude, I’m ready for nap time. Your cagey, jealous shit is ruining the vibe.”

“Who says I’m jealous?”

“Your white ass gets so flushed when you’re mad that it would be impossible to miss. I thought you were going to jump Simeon when he made that comment about giving ole boy a ride.”

“Yeah, well, what can I say?” I stopped pacing. “I didn’t invite you assholes over here to give my employee a hard time.”

“Your employee.” Marcus threw his muscular legs up onto the couch and stretched out. “Don’t even front like you don’t want to smash him.”

“I don’t.”

“Bullshit. You were staring them down the whole time we were downstairs. I mean, hey, no judgment. He just looks like a typical white-boy hipster to me, but whatever floats your boat, man. You may want to lay it down for Simeon if you’re serious, though. He most definitely wants to tap that ass.”

I ground my teeth together and tried to remember the last time I’d felt possessive over anyone, but I came up short. Then again, I didn’t normally hang out with the people I had sex with for more than ten minutes after we both came.

“I don’t want Simeon fucking him, and it has nothing to do with me being jealous.” “Oh yeah? What’s it got to do with?”

“Him not pissing off the only person I can stand to have in my house for six months,” I snarled. “Simeon can stick his dick in someone else until Noah is finished here.”

“And then you’d be cool with it?” “Yeah, then I’d be cool with it.”

Marcus snickered. He knew I was full of shit. “Let me ask you a question, Gav.”

“Is that a question or a warning about the fact that I can’t stop you from asking even if I wanted to?” “Probably the last one.” Marcus propped his feet up on the arm of the couch, making himself nice and comfy. “If you’re having jealous temper tantrums over this kid after a month, how the fuck are you gonna act in another two or three? He’s gonna be here all the time, dude. Showering in your bathroom, sleeping in your guest room, jacking it in bed a few thousand square feet away . . .”

“For fuck’s sake, Marcus.”

“Am I right or am I right, though?” He was right. But I refused to admit it.

“I already told you I’m not jealous. Do we get along? Yeah. We do. And you know that’s a miracle when it comes to me. Half the Barons can’t stand my ass because I won’t laugh at their stupid jokes, but at least they respect me. Most people think I’m a piece of shit.”

“And your boy?” Marcus pressed, looking truly intrigued. “What’s he like?”

“He’s . . .” How was he? What was it about him that had even clicked with me enough to make me want to guarantee he not walk out of the oversized front door and not come back? To become desperate and throw in that huge bonus so he wouldn’t have to keep commuting? “He’s a smartass, but he’s a good person. And he gets me.”

Marcus raised an eyebrow. “How’s he get you? He doesn’t even like football.”

The disgusted tone drew a smile out of me. I plopped down in one of the armchairs and tilted my head back. “He didn’t grow up like me, but . . . he gets it. And he’s not phony. He’s straight up with his opinions and isn’t afraid to tell me them.”

“So he’s not scared to say . . . ‘Gavin, you’re being a dickhead.’”

“Basically. He talks almost as much trash as I do, which is probably why we managed to get along. Also, he keeps trying to make me look good to Mel. Gave me credit for all this shit that he came up with. I don’t get it, since I was a total douchebag to him, but I appreciate it. He’s a good dude.”

“Huh.” Marcus slowly nodded, analyzing me with his big dark eyes. “Aiight, I’ll talk to Simeon.” “About what?”

“Him keeping his greedy hands off your boy.” Marcus winked. “But if you’re keeping on with this whole I’m-trying-to-hold-on-to-my-employee bullshit, I’d recommend getting laid. From where I’m sitting, you just look like a jealous, horny bastard.”

“Done.”

Marcus rolled off the sofa and sprang to his feet. He arched his back with a jaw-cracking yawn. “You mind if I catch some sleep, dude? I’ve been having nightmares every night for the past few days.”

“What kind of nightmares?”

“Eh. Stress shit. Getting injured before the season even starts. Moe getting hurt messed me up, man.” “You spoke to him?”

“Yeah.” Marcus sobered. “His agent isn’t feeling too good about his contract since this is his last year, and he’s had four fucking surgeries during the life of it. Remember what I said earlier? About them saying he was injury-prone? I wasn’t making it up. His career may be over, man. Or maybe they’ll trade him to some douchebag team like the Predators.”

The Predators were infamous dickholes. It seemed to be a requirement for signing with them. Even their cheerleaders were mean as fuck. The Slytherin of the NFL. The only time I could play a game without everyone mentioning my shitty reputation was if we were playing the Predators. They, as a whole, had a shittier reputation than me.

“You won’t get hurt.”

Marcus arched a brow. “You a prophet now?”

“Yeah. And I prophesize your ass winning the Super Bowl this year.”

“Without you and Moe? Nope.”

I scoffed. “Yeah, right.”

“For real, man. I love Phil, but he’s no Brawley. He’s small and lean enough to run circles around D- men after a reception, but he has none of your force or bulk. They’re changing everything to account for you and Moe not being there. Fucking sucks.”

It did suck. Even more so because I was now facing the reality that my team was short not one but two starters. If I’d controlled myself better, I’d be there to support them. All of this stress and anxiety about how the season would roll out wouldn’t be on their shoulders, although in my opinion Moe was more of an asset to the team. He was one of the best wide receivers in the league. Even so, I wanted to be there to step up. But I was stuck. Because of my need to escalate shit five times past where it could have ended.

“All right, bud. I’m gonna go talk to Simeon, and you figure out how to get laid.”

I nodded, watching him go, and actually listened to the tip. Between Simeon and Noah, the shit about Moe, and now the news that my replacement wasn’t rising to the occasion of starting for the Barons? I needed an outlet. It was either time to get in a monstrous fistfight or take out the brimming frustration on someone’s ass.

I went for the latter.


Giveaway: We’re giving one lucky winner their choice of one of our Sunday Spotlight books. Use the Rafflecopter widget below to enter for one of this month’s features.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Are you as excited for this release as we are? Let us know how excited you are and what other books you’re looking forward to this year!

About the Author

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK | INSTAGRAM | PINTEREST | TUMBLR | GOODREADS

Santino Hassell was raised by a conservative family but grew up to be a smart-mouthed, school cutting grunge kid, a transient twenty-something, and eventually transformed into a grumpy introvert and unlikely romance author with an affinity for baseball caps. His novels are heavily influenced by the gritty, urban landscape of New York City, and his desire to write relationships fueled by intensity and passion.

He’s been a finalist in both the Bisexual Book Awards and the EPIC Awards, and was nominated for a prestigious RITA award in 2017. His work has been featured in BuzzFeed, Huffington Post, Washington Post, RT Magazine, and Cosmopolitan Magazine.


Tagged: , , ,

Guest Review: Frostbite by Alexandria Bellefleur

Posted April 26, 2017 by Tracy in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: Frostbite by Alexandria BellefleurReviewer: Tracy
Frostbite by Alexandria Bellefleur
Published by Less Than Three Press
Publication Date: April 26th 2017
Genres: Fantasy, M/M
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
three-half-stars

After his sister touches a lethal Frost Flower and succumbs to Frozen Sickness, Rainor seeks out the mysterious Dragon, who purportedly holds the only cure for the fatal disease. In gratitude for saving his sister's life, Rainor agrees to bring him fresh bread twice a week—despite the man's insistence he wants for nothing.

As Rainor makes his deliveries, the two slowly become friends, and Rainor finds in the Dragon all the things he never found in his little village. But on his way to make his latest delivery, the unthinkable happens, and Rainor fears that if he asks for the cure he needs to live, he'll lose the man he's coming to love…

Rainor loves his sister and she means a lot to him.  When he takes her out to the lake and then accidentally falls asleep his devastated when he realizes that she’s touched one of the Frost Flowers.  He knows that he must get the cure to her quickly or she’ll be dead within 24 hours.  The doctor tells him the only cure is up in the mountain cave with the Dragon.

When Rainor arrives in the cave he’s shocked to see how homey it is.  The man they call Dragon isn’t a dragon at all – just a man.  He gladly gives Rainor the cure and asks for nothing in return.  Rainor insists on bringing him bread every three days to pay for the cure and Dragon, actually named Drachen, finally agrees.

At first Rainor is afraid of Drachen but as the days go by and Rainor continues to take the bread, they start to talk and become friends.  Rainor learns the horrible tale of how Drachen came to be living in the caves – evil witchcraft.   When that very witch tricks Rainor into touching one of the Frost Flowers Rainor thinks he can get the cure without bothering Drachen but his decision ends up turning on him.

This was a great little fantasy short story.  It had wonderful characters and the story was well written.  I liked the way that the author wrote Rainor as he was such a good person and rarely put himself first.  This fairytale was a lovely, sweet m/m romance that I truly enjoyed.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

three-half-stars


Tagged: , , , , , , , , ,

Guest Review: Dragon Soldier by Mell Eight

Posted March 10, 2017 by Tracy in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: Dragon Soldier by Mell EightReviewer: Tracy
Dragon Soldier by Mell Eight
Series: Supernatural Consultant #5
Also in this series: Dragon Consultant, Dragon Deception, Dragon Dilemma, Dragon Detective, Dragon Adventure, Dragon Home
Published by Less Than Three Press
Publication Date: March 8th 2017
Genres: Fantasy, M/M
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
three-half-stars

The aftermath of the last battle has left Nickel weak in bed and grounded for the next decade. Despite being in trouble, Nickel wants to return to the battle as soon as he can, but thoughts of Platinum, the dragon helping to nurse him back to health, keep distracting him.

Platinum can't believe how much his life has changed. He went from being a lonely fugitive on the run to part of a family in only hours. The last few days have been his happiest, especially now that he's met Nickel. He knows it's only temporary, though. The enemy that kept him captive for most of his life isn't finished with him yet, and even Platinum and Nickel's combined powers might not be enough to save them.

In the last book Nickel was hurt by a scientist who had stolen dragon magic.  He is put into a medically induced coma so that he can heal, which he does, but it’s a very slow process.  (In the blurb is says “the next decade” but I’m thinking it just seemed like a decade to Nickel because in truth it was only about a month or so, not 10 years.) Nickel wants nothing more than to get back in the game of finding the horrible scientists that are torturing dragons and stealing their magic. Unfortunately he has to get his strength back in order to do that.  One that that makes it all worthwhile is Platinum.

Platinum was taken from his mother at a very young age and grew up for the last 16 or so years in captivity.  He was tortured and operated on almost daily until he escaped.  Well, he thought he escaped but it was all a plan by the scientists to lure another dragon in.  Luckily they didn’t succeed.  Platinum is now living in Mercury and Dane’s home with all their kits, and his twin who was saved 10 years earlier.  He’s getting much needed schooling, helping Dane at his office and mostly looking after Nickel.  When Nickel awakens Platinum knows that there’s something special between the two of them and when Nickel says “mate” he knows that feels right.

Both Platinum and Nickel need to find their place in the world they live in.  Each of them want to find and stop the scientists but once that’s done where do they each go from there?

Dragon Soldier was another lovely look into Mercury and Dane’s little dragon family.  Adding Platinum into the mix made a huge difference in the lives of Platinum and Nickel, even though the younger kits just went with the flow.  🙂

I really loved Platinum and Nickel together.  There’s was a very new relationship but was very comfortable.  Watching the pair get to know each other but yet find comfort in the other was quite sweet and I liked the way Eight wrote this little slice of their lives.

The smaller kits like Lumie, ‘Ron and Alloy are still up to no good.  I’m still hoping we’ll get to see them grow up cuz there’s a lot of mischief in those three bodies that I’d love to read about. 🙂

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

three-half-stars


Tagged: , , , , , , , , , ,

Guest Review: Half by Eli Lang

Posted February 15, 2017 by Tracy in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: Half by Eli LangReviewer: Tracy
Half by Eli Lang
Published by Riptide Publishing
Publication Date: February 13th 2017
Genres: M/M
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
four-stars

Living between worlds has never been comfortable, but it’s where I’ve always fit: between human and fey, illness and health, magic and reality.

I’ve spent the last six years looking for a cure for the nameless sickness eating me up. If I believed there was one out there, I would keep searching. But there isn’t, so I’ve come back home, where my past and present tangle. Come home to live . . . and to die.

But my father insists I meet Kin. He’s a healer, and determined to help, even though I’m not so hopeful anymore. But Kin isn’t what I expected, in any way. He sees me, not my illness. He reminds me of what it’s like to be alive. And I can’t help falling for him, even though I know it isn’t fair to either of us.

Kin thinks he has the cure I’ve been looking for, but it’s a cure that will change everything: me, my life, my heart. If I refuse, I could lose Kin. But if I take it, I might lose myself.

Luca is half human, half fey.  He is very sick and has been for quite some time.  No one that he’s seen can figure out what is wrong with him.  He’s convinced that the fey half of him is poisoning his human half.  He doesn’t know how long he has to live so when he meets the healer, Kin, it’s a mixed blessing.  He loves that he falls for him but he hates that he won’t be able to live a full lifetime with him.

Kin didn’t expect to like Luca when he told Luca’s father that he would check him out to see if he could heal him.  He was very wrong about that and almost immediately fell for the man.  The connection was obvious from minute one so he’s determined to find a solution that will keep Luca alive.

Kin tells Luca that he thinks he might have found a cure.  It’s really a legend about his people, the ningyo (they are water people/fey and have scales).  The legend says that if you eat one of a ningyo’s scales then you will be immortal.  Now, Luca wants to find a cure and live a long, full, happy life but he’s not sure that he’s willing to become immortal.  Kin’s not sure that the scale will work but if it does, what will that mean for Luca? Is he willing to take the chance?

This was such a good but sad story.  It was a very evenly paced story – nothing too, too exciting happens during the course of the book, but almost from the start I was intrigued by Luca and Kin and couldn’t put the book down.

Luca had been gone for six years traveling all over the world trying to find a cure and also living.  He had finally decided that he needed to be back home with those he loved because he realized there is no cure to what he has.  While he was once close with his sister, Saben, who is wholly fey, they are now near strangers.  Luca hadn’t contacted anyone in the time he was gone hoping that they would forget about him as he knew he wasn’t long for this world.  That kind of shot him in the foot and the strain it put on the relationship with his sister was a big one.  I loved watching Saben and Luca kind of dance around each other at first and then finally start to get to know one another again.  You could tell that they loved each other but there was a lot of hurt on Saben’s side as she had looked up to him and he left her.  She had felt abandoned.  Luca didn’t really know how to cross the divide but they managed it by the end of the book  and I felt they had reached a point that they could both be happy with.

The main part of the story was the relationship with Luca and Kin.  It definitely wasn’t a typical romance as it happened very quickly but it was still really good and very emotional.  The decision that Luca had to make about the scale really effected everyone.  Kin, of course, didn’t want to lose Luca.  Luca didn’t want to lose Kin either but he wasn’t sure that he could live forever and be a happy person.  That thought, however, brought him back to the fact that he thought he’d do anything to find a cure and now here it is staring at him in the face and he wasn’t sure he wanted it.  I can’t say I blamed Luca for his indecision.  I’m not sure I’d want to live forever.  I loved the tension that this brought to the relationship – it was written in a really great way. I also loved the way they talked things out in the end and loved each other enough to respect Luca’s decision.

The story was an emotional rollercoaster that had me turning page after page.  I’m not a huge fan of first person POV as we don’t get to read everyone’s thoughts and only get things from one angle, but I thought the author did a great job conveying Kin’s POV through Luca.  I definitely recommend this book but I’d say only read it when you truly want an emotional read.   It’s a very good book but it’s not a light and airy story.

Rating: 4 out of 5

*While this story invovles a few Fey people I wouldn’t consider this a paranormal romance.

four-stars


Tagged: , , , , , , ,

Guest Review: Steady Stroke by A.M. Arthur

Posted September 19, 2016 by Tracy in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: Steady Stroke by A.M. ArthurReviewer: Tracy
Steady StrokeSeries: Off Beat series #2
Also in this series: Body Rocks
Published by Swerve, St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: September 6th 2016
Genres: Contemporary Romance, M/M
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
two-half-stars

After a tragic accident, Lincoln West’s dreams of making it big as a guitarist fell apart. Unable to play music, he’s battling a hopeless downward spiral, and takes his friend’s offer to stay at their beach house for the summer. While at an open mike night at local bar Off Beat, he locks eyes with a busboy who doesn’t make Linc feel so broken anymore.

Emmett Westmore lives for the anonymity of busing tables in his aunt’s quirky bar where no one pities him for the fire that killed everyone he loved. He blames himself for the fire, and he doesn’t want anyone to see him—except for Linc. Emmett’s walls drop when he’s around the gorgeous blue-eyed guitarist, but he has a secret that could destroy his budding relationship with Linc.

Both Linc and Emmett are looking for a way to live again…will they let their fears control them or take a chance on something real?

Lincoln was in a horrible accident.  He almost died but managed to put himself back together and move on with his life.  Move on without music, that is.  He was a guitarist but can’t play because every time he strums a guitar the vibrations cause a migraine headache.  Music was his life and now he doesn’t have that, or anything else – according to him.

Lincoln is staying at Trey’s beach house for the summer and decides to go out to a local bar one night.  He meets a friend, Melody, and also sees a bar back who he’s attracted to.  Lincoln invites Emmett to lunch as friends and while Lincoln wants more Emmett just isn’t ready.

Emmett is living with his aunt Beatrice and working in her bar and has been since a fire killed his family.  His parents were very religious and he feels that he’s betraying them by admitting he’s gay and wanting to be with a man.  Linc, however, is making him want things more than ever and Linc finally makes him see that his parents would have wanted him to be happy, gay or straight.  The pair become lovers and much more but when Emmett tells Linc a secret about himself it may tear the two apart.

This was a cute but somewhat slow book.  I liked the premise and I liked Linc and Emmett together. I thought the pair of them worked so well together and their connection was pretty spot on.  It was nice seeing some characters from book one and seeing where they were in their lives, as well.

The story started off well but then slowed down significantly in the middle of the book.  That part was getting further into the relationship which was nice but didn’t make for great reading.  It also had Linc working on playing the QChord which is an instrument that apparently sounds like a guitar but has no vibrations.  It brought music back into Linc’s life which was fabulous but the practicing, etc. was sort of mundane.

Anyway, while I would consider this an ok book I didn’t feel it lived up to book one and that was a bit disappointing.

Rating: 2.5/3 out of 5

two-half-stars


Tagged: , , , , , , , , , ,