Anne Reviews: The Ugliest Sweater by Gillian St. Kevern

TITLE: The Ugliest Sweater

Author: Gillian St. Kevern

Publisher: NineStar Press

Pages: 56

Characters: Dan/Jake

POV: 3rd

Sub-Genre: Series, Contemporary, Humour

Kisses: 5

Blurb:

Dan’s favourite festive sweater is so ugly, it’s cost him not one but three boyfriends and sent him back to his parents’ place for the third Christmas in a row. About to give up hope of ever having a Christmas date, Dan meets Jake, a hot guy with a rock and roll edge. Jake is infatuated with Dan’s sweater but vanishes before Dan can decide if Jake is for real or really in need of an eye-check. After all, no one has ever liked the sweater.

Dan’s sweater is rocketed to national attention, when Jake’s radio colleagues launch a hunt for the mystery man in the hideous jumper. Dan jumps at the chance to meet Jake again, and they hit it off in a big way, to the accompaniment of intimate gigs, exclusive clubs, and the paparazzi. Dan falls hard, but despite obvious mutual attraction, Jake refuses to take him back to his apartment. Is the relationship real – or a ratings stunt? After all, Jake has a reputation for cool that Dan, a lowly gym instructor, could never approach. Is a fondness for tacky Christmas clothing the only thing they have in common? Or does uber-cool Jake hide a Christmas secret of his own?

Review:

The Ugliest Sweater is a short, sweet, feel-good story. I loved the tone and humor and found myself smiling as I was reading.  It’s a great mix of romance and fun with quirky characters.  The description of the sweater itself was… impressive…. and visual.  Truly an ugly sweater.  Dan and Jake are a perfect match, both in personality and their Christmas obsessions.

Although it is a feel-good story, there’s still some tension within the relationship as both men struggle with their own insecurities, which made their path to a relationship feel realistic. I appreciated the fact that Dan feels out of place at Jake’s work function—it reaffirms the fact that although these guys are quirky, they’re still three-dimensional characters.

There’s a bit of sex for such a short piece, but the story is such fun, an easy read, and left me with a warm glow. Although it’s a Christmas story, it’s one to enjoy all year round.

I’d recommend The Ugliest Sweater to readers who enjoy a short, sweet, feel-good story with likable characters, and a very ugly Christmas sweater.

Reviewed By: Anne

Click HERE to purchase The Ugliest Sweater

Gabbi Reviews: From a Jack to a King by Scotty Cade

Title: From a Jack to a King

Author: Scotty Cade

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages: 200

Characters: Bay Whitman, King Slater

POV: 3rd

Sub-Genre: Contemporary Romance

Kisses: 5+

Blurb:

New York Times best-selling mystery writer Bay Whitman leads the life of a celebrity—at least on the surface. In public he’s self-assured and in control. Women hang on his every word, while men envy his confidence and swagger. But in reality, Bay is a loner. He’s shy and introverted, and his life consists of sitting in a dimly lit room writing his famous Jack Robbins mystery novels. His one vice—gambling. Winning an escort in a poker game will change Bay’s life in ways he never imagined.

Matthew “King” Slater is one of the hottest tickets in gay porn. He spends his days in front of the camera and his nights as a highly paid escort to the rich and famous. Deep down, he craves romance and a real connection, but his past makes it hard to separate the needs of his body from those of his heart. For now, it’s easier to think of sex as just a job. But while doing a shoot in Vegas, King is hired for a tryst at a famous hotel and casino, and his handsome client might blur the line between work and play.

Review:

I just finished reading From a Jack to a King and all I can say is, Whew! Scotty Cade can write romance! There is something special about the way his heroes connect with each other that really make his stories a well-written, beautifully told romance.

King is an unapologetic gigolo and porn star. He’s good at what he does and he enjoys it, too. At first, King seems to be very arrogant and his confidence about himself that borderlines a superiority within his field that can almost be off-putting. At first, I honestly didn’t know if I was going to like him.

Here’s the thing about King. He is a very complex character. As more about him is revealed, I began to really care for him. I liked how Mr. Cade did not sugarcoat his character or some of his behaviors at all. Why? Because watching King’s personal growth and how hard he falls for the sweet, intelligent and sexy Bay was a heartwarming thing to experience.

I understood why King fell so hard for Bay. Bay is a genuinely nice guy. He has a knack for poker, he’s a very successful writer and is an all-around likable guy. But, Bay is a very introverted man who is afraid to open up and allow people to see who he is on the inside. When he meets King, Bay is challenged to take a hard look at himself, as well as, allow himself to be opened to new possibilities.

I loved this book. Yes, there were times I wanted to strangle King, but those moments were few and far between. As a reader, I appreciated the way these two men learn to communicate and open their hearts and minds to one another.

I also loved the difference between King going through the motions at his job vs making love with Bay. Yes, there was a significant difference between it, and I was swept up in how each touch King and Bay shared between them was a loving, beautiful one.

I love romantic tales that sweep me up into the lives of complex, sexy, intelligent men who clearly are made for one another. Mr. Cade is a master storyteller and I adored every moment I spent reading this book.

Highly Recommended!

Reviewed by: Gabbi

Click HERE to enter the Dreamspinner Press Homepage

Click HERE to read my review of An Unconventional Courtship by Scotty Cade. *It’s one of my all time favorite reads*

 

 

 

Gabbi Reviews: In Too Deep by Kate Sherwood

Title: In Too Deep

Author: Kate Sherwood

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages: 234

Characters: Cade, Aiden

POV: 3rd

Sub-Genre: Contemporary Romance

Kisses: 4

Blurb:

At first glance, Cade and Aiden hardly seem like a match made in heaven. Their worlds couldn’t be further apart. Cade is quiet, serious, and determined to succeed; Aiden’s a party-loving frat boy. Cade comes from a rough home and worked hard to get the scholarships that make it possible for him to attend college; Aiden’s had it all thrown in his lap by supportive, kind, and wealthy parents. Cade wants nothing to do with Aiden, but from the moment they meet, Aiden is determined to find a way to bring their different worlds together.

Aiden manages to persuade Cade he’s a decent guy, and a tentative friendship becomes much more. But a trip to Aiden’s family cottage puts Cade in the path of a ghost from his past, and a dark secret he never expected to face again. Cade did what he had to do to escape his dead-end life, but now he sees he didn’t leave it as far behind him as he thought.

Review:

Kate Sherwood writes strong-willed heroes who always have an interesting story to tell. I had a feeling when I started this book, it was going be an interesting read and I was right.

What I liked about this book was personal growth each of these young men goes through. Cade has had to be street-smart and work hard for each and everything good in his life. Between his excellent work ethic and drive to make the best grade point average, so he can keep his scholarship and continue to work toward changing his life for the better.

On the other hand, Aiden was born with a silver spoon in his mouth. He enjoys having fun and being around his family and friends. His zest for life is often contagious and though he can get a little frustrated at times, basically Aiden keeps a positive attitude.

At first glance, these two men are total opposites. Because of his past, Cade has a chip on his shoulder and pushes people away. He has very few friends and likes to keep to himself. What Cade doesn’t expect is Aiden’s determination to get to know him. Aiden’s stubbornness to get to know Cade, even though Cade can be quite hateful at times, shows how much Aiden really wants to get to know Cade and hopefully have him in his life.

In Too Deep is a difficult story to read at times. Cade can be surly and even unlikable at times, but as the story progresses, we learn why he is so scared to open himself to friendship and love from Aiden. Aiden’s sweetness and determination to be around Cade could be considered either lovestruck or even a little stalkerish, but honestly, I thought Aiden was truly a sweet guy who is simply dazzled by the mystery of Cade. In the end, I ended up really getting behind these two men and enjoyed the journey they go through to form a solid bond between them. I liked how these two men brought out the best in each other and loved how everything turned out between them.

In Too Deep is a well-written story with complex characters and a gritty and romantic storyline. I really liked it and I’m looking forward to reading more stories written by this author.

Reviewed By: Gabbi

Click HERE to enter the Dreamspinner Press Homepage

 

 

LeeAnn Reviews: Bad Company by KA Mitchell

Title:  Bad in Baltimore, Book 1: Bad Company

Author:  KA Mitchell

Publisher:  Dreamspinner Press

Pages: 200

Characters:  Nate, Kellan

POV:  3rd

Sub-Genre: Contemporary Romance, Series

Kisses:  5

Blurb:

Bad in Baltimore: Book One

Some things are sweeter than revenge.

“I need a boyfriend.”

Hearing those words from his very straight, very ex-best friend doesn’t put Nate in a helpful mood. Not only did Kellan Brooks’s father destroy Nate’s family in his quest for power, but Kellan broke Nate’s heart back in high school. Nate thought he could trust his best friend with the revelation that he might be gay, only to find out he was horribly wrong and become the laughingstock of the whole school. Kellan must be truly desperate if he’s turning to Nate now.

Kellan’s through letting his father run his life, and he wants to make the man pay for cutting him off. What better way to stick it to the bigot than to come out as gay himself—especially with the son of the very man his father crushed on his quest for money and power. Kellan can’t blame Nate for wanting nothing to do with him, though. Kellan will have to convince him to play along, but it’s even harder to convince himself that the heat between them is only an act….

Review:

At first, Kellan made me mad.

He wanted to use a man who was once his best friend.  To get even with his day, Kellan abandoned him  in high school. As the story progressed, and things became clear to me about Kellan, I began to like him a lot. In this story,  KA Mitchell puts us face to face with the dilemma that Kellan faces. There are truths about himself Kellan was a tiny bit aware of but couldn’t face.

I loved how KA Mitchell fleshed out the characters of both Nate and Kellan. Their mannerisms and the way they held themselves was so clear, I could visualize things as they happened.

Eli was another treat in this book. I LOVED him!  He had this perky personality AND there is something special he could do, BUT the YOU need to read it to find out just exactly what he is capable of.

KA Mitchell didn’t give me the satisfaction I craved in regards to Kellan’s dad, but that is probably a good thing. The way Kellan and Nate’s story unfolds held my attention and made me want to find out how it ended. I enjoyed Bad Company so much, I didn’t want it to end.

I hope Eli will get his own story because I liked him so much and wanted to know more about him.  After watching his interactions with Nate and Kellan,  I wanted him to get an HEA too.

Highly Recommended!

Reviewed By: LeeAnn

Click HERE to enter the Dreamspinner Press Homepage

Gabbi Reviews: All that Glitters by Kate Sherwood

Title: All that Glitters

Author: Kate Sherwood

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages: 206

Characters: Liam Marshall, Ben Harding

POV: 3rd

Sub-Genre: Contemporary Romance

Kisses: 4.5

Blurb:

No matter what he tells himself, wealthy NYC architect Liam has never been able to forget his first love, Ben. But as he approaches midlife and realizes something is missing, can he forgive himself for the worst mistake he ever made—the one that left a hole no amount of career success can fill? Or will fear keep him from the full life he really wants?

Liam and Ben were childhood sweethearts, then college boyfriends. But when Liam cheated on Ben, Ben forced himself to cut ties and move on. He’s still living in the small town where they grew up, teaching, but it’s not the life he imagined for himself as a younger man. Still, when Liam returns, he can’t risk his heart again. He certainly can’t allow himself to love Liam again after fighting so hard to get over him.

Neither man wants to let go of the past and face their apprehension at starting over. They don’t want to fall in love a second time—but sometimes love happens whether it’s wanted or not.

Review:

All that Glitters is a lovely told story about redemption and rekindling a love once lost. I’m a newish fan of the author, Kate Sherwood and was admittedly a little hesitant to read and review this book. Why? I’m not a huge fan of reading about heroes who cheated. I dislike a cheating storyline *hey, I read romance for romance, not for a lot of true-life heartache and angst* but because the hero, Liam, cheated over 15 years ago on Ben, I thought I would push my reservations aside and give this one a try.

I am glad I did.

At first, I wasn’t sure of what I thought of Liam. He successful and a bit arrogant, bitter even, but I quickly saw that there is so much more to Liam than meets the eye. Though Liam can be a tad materialistic, he is also searching for something he is missing in life. Liam’s social card is always full, but inside he is lonely and unsatisfied with his life. I liked how Liam is willing to put himself out there and allow Ben and his former friends to vent their anger and frustration at Liam’s past betrayal and behaviors. I also liked how much Liam himself, goes through some personal growth and begins to strive to hopefully gain Ben and his friends back into his life. Liam’s determination to find his “Passion” for life became a journey that I enjoyed reading.

Ben was also a complex, interesting hero. I liked his integrity and genuine affection and love he freely gives to the people he cares about. I understood why he was so bitter towards Liam, but I was honestly glad to see him become willing to look inside himself and see if starting something special with Liam was something he truly wanted to do.

Both Liam and Ben have a heart of gold and I quickly became fond of them both. The secondary characters also brought something special to the story. Between the genuine friendship and love they all shared among them, I felt like all these characters were likable and interesting within their own right.

Best of all, Ms. Sherwood penned a serious tale with enough humor and lightness to make this reader not only laugh out loud at times, but my heart was filled with warmth for these two heroes and all her characters as well. All that Glitters is an easy book to recommend and I can’t wait to read more from Ms. Sherwood in the future.

Highly Recommended!

Reviewed By: Gabbi

Click HERE to enter the Dreamspinner Press Homepage

Gabbi Reviews: Love You So Hard by Tara Lain

Title: Love You So, Book 1: Love You So Hard

Author: Tara Lain

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages: 77

Characters: Craig Elson, Jesse Randall

POV: 3rd Limited

Sub-Genre: Contemporary Romance, Series

Kisses: 4.5

Blurb:

Craig Elson’s life has hit rock bottom. Even though he’s one of the best strategic planners around, a more confident guy takes credit for his work, and despite being a good-looking man, he suffers insults from the slimiest creep at the bar. Taking care of his beloved mom, who has Alzheimer’s, uses all his funds, leaving him in a plain, depressing car… and a plain, depressing life.

Until he sees gorgeous grad student Jesse Randall and his T-shirt that reads “I Would Bottom You So Hard.” The message seeps into Craig’s soul, and he asks Jesse to teach him to top.

Jesse’s had his eye on the quiet hottie who comes into the coffee shop, and he’s more than eager to perfect his tutoring. He sets out to get Craig a new job, a new apartment, and a new life so far outside plain and depressing that it’s unrecognizable. The problem is, Craig loves his lessons—and his teacher—too much to want to graduate. How can Craig reach the top without losing his sassy bottom?

Review:

Tara Lain writes romances with sexy, unique characters. I’ve read several of Ms. Lain’s books and I’ve enjoyed every one of them. She seems to have a real knack for writing romantic tales filled with sensual and likable men. I was in the mood for a light, romantic read and Love You So Hard filled that need for me perfectly.

Love You So Hard is told from Craig’s perspective. Since he is a good storyteller and an interesting character, I found myself quickly becoming intrigued by the story he had to tell. Craig is a quiet, shy and thoughtful man who gets overlooked by others. He’s a good son who takes care of his mother, who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease, and he is a good worker who never gets the recognition he deserves. The one bright light in Craig’s life is the sexy man he sees at the coffee shop every morning. The younger man’s zest for life and sexy disposition makes Craig wish he was more bold, more confident and more comfortable within his own skin.

One day when Craig is at the shop he is surprised when the young man, Jesse, approaches him and begins talking to him. Soon, Craig is almost overwhelmed by Jesse’s interest in him and is almost unsure of how to handle himself around the sexy man. When Craig blurts out that he needs Jesse’s help *You’ll have to read what he wants help with* and Jesse seems more than a little excited and interested in helping him, Craig is determined to enjoy every moment he has with Jesse…no matter how long or short it is.

I really loved this book. Not only is it a fast-paced story, I found myself really getting into Craig and Jesse’s romance and the story Craig had to tell. I loved both characters and though it seems like they are polar opposites from one another, together they fit perfectly and easily became a couple with a solid, loving foundation. Though I Iiked both men, I have to say that Jesse’s sweetness and zest for life made me easily see why Craig adored him so much, because I did too!

Love You So Hard is an easy book to recommend. If you are in the mood for a fun and flirty romance with two heroes that you’ll easily adore, then Love You So Hard is the book for you!

Highly Recommended!

Reviewed By: Gabbi

Lydia Reviews: A Breath of Innocence by KA Merikan

Title: A Breath of Innocence 

Author: K.A. Merikan 

Publisher: Self Published

Genre:  Coming of Age, Mafia 

Pages: 330 

Kisses: 4  

Blurb: 

“I would wait a lifetime for this.” 

“You don’t have to wait anymore. I want you.” 

Mark is done with flings. He is looking for something real, and he knows just where to find it. Years ago, he fell in love with Charlotte Elswood, but after saving her life, he made the difficult choice to stay in a cartel for the sake of his family.
Now, free of the bloodstained work, he’s ready to rekindle what he’s lost.
But in England, he meets someone who is also blond, blue-eyed, and irresistible. Problem is, Griffith Elswood is Charlotte’s brother. Should Mark even consider putting his hands all over an innocent who would push him away if he knew what kind of monster Mark is?

After years of homeschooling, Griffith wants nothing more than to finally spread his wings at university. Secretly, he dreams of meeting a man he can fall madly in love with. A man he would have all the firsts with. But it’s hard to trust anyone after witnessing his sister’s heartbreak.
When Mark moves in next door, Griffith reaches out despite his sister’s warnings. Mark is mysterious, experienced, cocky, and just oh-so-dreamy. Alternating between hot and cold, Mark’s presence sends Griffith into a frenzy of passion like he’s never known before. So hot in fact, it might just burn him if he isn’t careful. 

Review: 

A Breath of Innocence is the eighth book in the Guns n’ Boys series by author K.A. Merikan.  The author recommends that the series be read in order, something I did not know when I read this book.  While I did not feel lost while reading this story, it did make me want to go back and read the books I missed.  If you do not want to read all seven prior books, I strongly recommend you at least read books 4-7 as this is when Mark comes into the series.  Also book six is when Charlotte is introduced which sets this book up well.   

Mark has decided to step back from the family business and try to make a go of it as a photographer.  At least that is what he has told his fathers.  In actuality Mark has gone to England, not just for schooling, but also to track down Charlotte, the young girl he fell in love with back in Columbia.   Only the loving reunion he has been hoping for turns out to be anything but.  Charlotte has moved on with her life and wants nothing to do with the young man that kept her safe during a trying time.   

I have to say that at first I could understand Charlotte’s reasoning, even if she is a bit of a hag, but it was not until I read book six that I really started to dislike her.  Mark has a plan though.  He’s going to buddy up to Charlotte’s brother, Griffith and use him to get close to Charlotte. 

After his sister’s little adventure in the jungle, Griffith’s parent become a  little over protective, making his life miserable.  When he turns 18 and is finally able to leave home he can’t wait.  Although he does not always get along with his sister, he can’t wait to move in with her and look for some adventure of his own.  What he does not plan on is someone like Mark, or how the other man will affect his life.  

I have to say more than once I wanted to shack Mark because of how he planned to treat Griffith.  However, once Mark realizes just were his happiness lies, he goes after what he wants.  Now if everyone else would just mind their own business he would be happy.   

A Breath of Innocence is different from the other seven books in this series.  While there are a few little twists and one or more secrets, this story is a lot tamer than the previous books.  Since there is an ongoing story line running through the series, one that does not come into play in this story, I wonder if this is the last time we see Mark or if he will return to the family fold when they need him.  If he does, what does that mean for Griffith?  

Reviewed by: Lydia  

Click HERE to purchase A Breath of Innocence