Gabbi Reviews: Love Lessons by Heidi Cullinan


Title: Love Lessons
Author: Heidi Cullinan
Publisher: Heidi Cullinan
Pages: 301
Characters: Kelly Davidson, Walter Lucas
POV: 3rd
Sub-Genre: Contemporary Romance
Kisses: 5+

Blurb:

2nd Edition

Love doesn’t come with a syllabus.

Kelly Davidson has waited what seems like forever to graduate high school and get out of his small-minded, small town. But when he arrives at Hope University, he quickly realizes finding his Prince Charming isn’t so easy. Everyone here is already out. In fact, Kelly could be the only virgin on campus.

Worst of all, he’s landed the charming, handsome, gay campus Casanova as a roommate, whose bed might as well be equipped with a revolving door.

Walter Lucas doesn’t believe in storybook love. Everyone is better off having as much fun as possible with as many people as possible…except his shy, sad little sack of a roommate is seriously screwing up his world view.

As Walter sets out to lure Kelly out of his shell, staying just friends is harder than he anticipated. He discovers love is a crash course in determination. To make the grade, he’ll have to finally show up for class…and overcome his own private fear that love was never meant to last.

Review:

I’ve read several books by Heidi Cullinan and I’ve loved them all. Ms. Cullinan has a way of really getting to the heart and soul of her characters. She has an ability to write well-told, sexy and thought provoking stories that live long with you long after finish reading it. The blurb does an excellent job at describing the story, so I won’t rehash a lot of it. Instead, I thought I’d talk about why I love this book and why I highly recommend it.

After I finished reading Love Lessons, I couldn’t help but feel like this was a well-rounded story. I loved how both heroes, and in my opinion, by the way Ms. Cullinan wrote them, loved them too. They are definitely not your average everyday cookie-cutter characters. No, these two men are extremely well-developed, humanly flawed and lovable heroes that live and breath off of the written page.

When it comes to the old adage that opposites attract, it is never better said than the romance in Love Lessons. Kelly comes from a small town, loves anything romantic. His favorite movies are Disney related and he hopes to one day find his own Prince Charming. Kelly is determined to have his own happily ever after.

When Kelly meets his new roommate, Walter, he wonders what in world they could have in common…except that they are both gay.

Walter has a love ’em and leave ’em attitude and doesn’t believe in romance, but he can’t keep from becoming fascinated with his new roommate, Kelly’s, romantic ideas and naive view of the world. As a budding friendship between the two men turn into something more, Walter soon learns that maybe there really is a Prince Charming out there for everyone…even for a pessimistic romantic like him.

I loved how Ms. Cullinan reveals the quirks and problems her characters are experiencing little by little as the story continues. Just as the Walter and Kelly get to know each other, we as readers, also truly get to know who these two heroes really are on the inside. I also loved how these two men really seemed to have an undying affection, friendship and deep love for each other. Believe me, Kelly and Walter’s story is not a quick, easy ride, but it’s truly a beautiful one to read.

Love Lessons is one of my all-time favorite books. It will be on my re-read and keeper shelf where I know I’ll revisit these characters and their amazing story again and again. If you are looking for a romantic read that will both bring tears to your eyes and joy in your heart, then Love Lessons is definitely the book for you!

Highly Recommended!

Reviewed By: Gabbi

Click HERE to purchase Love Lessons by Heidi Cullinan

Gabbi Reviews: Trust with a Chaser by Annabeth Albert


Title: Rainbow Cove, Book 1: Trust with a Chaser
Author: Annabeth Albert
Publisher: Annabeth Albert
Pages: 275
Characters: Mason Hanks, Nash Flint
POV: Alternating 1st
Sub-Genre: Contemporary Romance, Series
Kisses: 5+

Blurb:

Mason Hanks has returned to Rainbow Cove, Oregon with one goal in mind: turn the struggling coastal community into a thriving LGBTQ tourism destination. Step one is transforming an old bar and grill into a gay-friendly eatery. Step two? Don’t piss off Nash Flint, the very hot, very stern chief of police who’s not so sure he’s on board with Mason’s big plans.

Nash Flint just wants to keep his community safe and enjoy the occasional burger in peace. He’s not big on change nor is he a fan of Mason’s troublemaking family, especially his rowdy older brothers. But Mason slowly wins him over with fantastic cooking and the sort of friendship Nash has been starving for.

When their unlikely friendship takes a turn for the sexy, both men try to steer clear of trouble. Nash believes he’s too set in his ways for Mason, and Mason worries that his family’s reputation will ruin any future with Nash. Burning up the sheets in secret is a surefire way to crash and burn, and discovery forces a heart-wrenching decision—is love worth the risk of losing everything?

Review:

As soon as I read the blurb to Trust with a Chaser, I knew I had to read it. Not only has, Annabeth Albert, quickly become a must-read author for me, I was excited to see that Trust with a Chaser is the first book in a new series.

Many of you know that I am a sucker for a May/December romance. Throw in a surly chief of police officer and a thoughtful man who is determined to make something of himself and I’m all in! The problem is…I made the mistake of starting this story right before my bedtime. Honestly, I should have known better, but since I was anxious to at least start the book, I didn’t think there would be any harm in reading a chapter or two before falling asleep. WRONG. I ended up becoming so wrapped up in Nash and Mason’s lives that I read through the night and finished the book without any sleep. Believe me when I say it was worth it! I loved every minute I spent reading this story and I can’t wait until the next book in the series!

Mason and Nash are complex characters. Nash is a forty year old man who still lives his life firmly in the closet. For all of his life, Nash has lived his life to not only serve the community he loves, Nash has strove to live up to his dead father’s expectations. Since his father was something of a homophobe and a cold fish, Nash has pushed aside his own wants and happiness to please a man who couldn’t ever be possibly pleased.

Mason Hanks has just returned to town and he is determined to not live up to his family’s bad reputation. To the townspeople and to Nash, the “Hanks” name has become synonymous with trouble, and Mason’s conviction to be nothing like his family is a noble one. Mason’s steadfastness to become a successful businessman and to make Rainbow Cove a safe haven for LGBTQ tourist makes him an easy character to like. Between his dedication to get Nash to like and respect him and his zest for life, Mason is truly a force to be reckoned with.

At first glance, one wouldn’t think these two men should be together, but between the sizzling chemistry they shared between them, and Mason’s determination to be seen as someone important in Nash’s eyes, I admit I hopelessly fell for this couple. I liked the way they brought out the best in each other and I loved the way both of them continued to grow and evolve as people and as a couple throughout the book.

Mason and Nash truly fit together. I loved them and I hated to see the book come to an end. I will say that both of their family’s attitudes drove me crazy. There were times I wanted to punch Mason’s family in the throat because of their laziness and constant mooching off of Mason. Nash’s mother can be a real cold fish, too. BUT saying this, the hate I had for them made this story and Mason and Nash’s journey an even better read.

Trust with a Chaser
is one of my favorite books I’ve read this year. It’s a great start to what looks to be an amazing series and I can’t wait to read the next book! Do yourself a favor and read it and check out other books written by this author. You won’t regret it.

Highly Recommended!

Reviewed By: Gabbi

Click HERE to purchase Trust with a Chaser

Susan Reviews: The Shadow Mark by Mason Thomas


Title: The Shadow Mark
Author: Mason Thomas
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Pages: 281
POV: 3rd
Genres: Fantasy, Gay
Kisses: 5+

Blurb:

Auraq Greystone, once a military officer with a promising future, exists on the fringe of society. Accused of murder, Auraq is on the run from the ax—until two fugitives crash into his solitary life. One is a young man named Kane. The glowing marks on his arm pulse with an otherworldly power, and they have made him the target of a sinister organization called the Order of the Jackal. When the old man protecting Kane dies in an ambush, Auraq swears an oath to take his place.

But the runes are far more significant than they realize. They are a message from the shadow realm, a dark memory of the past—one holding evidence of a bloody massacre and its savage architect; one that will shake the kingdom to its foundation. Risking arrest and execution, Auraq fights to get Kane to the capital city where the cryptic marking can be unlocked. And with assassins close on their trail, Auraq might never get the chance to show Kane what’s in his heart—or the way their journey together has changed him.

The Shadow Mark is an epic tale of magic, murder, conspiracy, betrayal, and—for the two men tasked with unraveling the mystery—love and redemption.

Review:

This one starts out with a bang. There’s so many fascinating things happening here that the romance becomes secondary to the superbly written plot. Thomas is an excellent writer who paints vivid, visceral landscapes, characters, and events. Thomas’s handling of battles, especially, shines as the reader can feel each and every punch, slash, and cut as if they themselves were on the receiving end. Top marks.

Another top mark comes from world-building. Though this is the second book in the Lords of Davenia series, it’s a standalone. Details and background of the world around the characters is given in tiny increments and shown with subtle but short descriptions or through dialogue. Everything else is left to the imagination, and it’s a wonderful choice of writing styles. It’s captivating, luring and drawing the reader in without fail. Once begun, the story must be completed practically in one sitting.

Fair warning: It’s worthy of note that this is far more a fantasy adventure than a romance. There’s only a kiss or two, no more. No hanky-panky of any kind. I admit, I was hoping for some intimacy. But the pace of the plot is tense and unyielding. Once the events are set in motion, there is virtually no reprieve, no chance to pause and take a breath. The pace moves swiftly and efficiently, without any annoying lulls or boring dialogue. In fact, I could not leave a single word unread. Not a single one. This book is masterfully written.

The only POV given is Auriq’s. It’s intriguing because it keeps Kane’s mystery, well, a mystery. Both men are still well described individuals, with their own ways of doing things. Auriq is the strong silent type while Kane is a pretty regular guy thrust into the thick of things because of strange magecraft by accident. Kane could have been a bit more fleshed out, I suppose, but his character as a steadfast young man was shown adequately.

In the beginning, the interaction between the two men was wonderful to follow, the dialogue snappy and witty, the chemistry hot and heavy. Toward the end, though, as Kane grows weaker and events spiral out of control, they had less chances to interact, and that was a real shame. Personally I would have preferred more scenes with these two alone, even just talking and getting to know each other. Nonetheless, this wasn’t enough for me to lower my rating. Why? Because of the story and the plot which, like a storm, races toward the end at a breathless pace, urging the reader to continue until the very last word.

From forest and hamlets to palaces and cities, we get to see a lot. Thomas’s writing brings us there, to travel alongside the (anti)heroes as they make their way through the kingdom in a desperate escape from monsters and assassins. Never was there a dull moment. There’s plenty of action, sword-fighting and battles, narrow escapes and tense chases, magic and palace intrigue. We learn about the world through the people, through merchants, soldiers, mages, palace noblemen, and so on. I was drawn in, and I loved it.

The rest of the review would undoubtedly merely repeat what I’ve already stated, with a whole host of more glorifying adjectives. If you’re not too hung up on expectations of sensuality with your gay romances and you appreciate the fantasy genre, I wholeheartedly recommend this book, and likely this series. I know I’ll be checking out the first book, Lord Mouse, and whatever comes later.

Reviewed by: Susan

Click HERE to enter the Dreamspinner Press Website

Pippa Reviews: Romancing the Ugly Duckling by Clare London


Title: Romancing the Ugly Duckling
Author: Clare London
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Pages: 260
Characters: Perry and Greg
POV: Third person
Sub-Genre: Contemporary
Kisses: 5+

Blurb:

Is this the makeover of a lifetime?

Ambitious fashionista Perry Goodwood lands the project of his dreams—track down a celebrity family’s missing brother in the Scottish Highlands and bring him back to London for a TV reality show. But first he must transform the rugged loner into a glamorous sophisticate.

Greg Ventura has no use for high fashion. He lives on the isolated island of North Uist to escape the reminder that he’s nowhere near as handsome as his gorgeous brothers and avoid the painful childhood memories of being bullied.
Greg wants nothing to do with city life, and Perry’s never been outside London. When Perry is stranded on North Uist, this conflict seems insurmountable. But Greg is captivated by the vivacious Perry, and Perry by both the island and his host. However, Perry’s one heartfelt wish remains: that ugly duckling Greg fulfill his potential as a swan.

Review:

This book hits all my romance feels in a huge way. I do love MM takes on fairy tales, and Romancing the Ugly Duckling is no exception.

Like all good fairy tales this one has heroes and villains, Prince Charming(s) and a hero dog. All good fairy tales have a hero dog. I wanted to hug Greg for his horrid childhood and hug Perry, well, I just wanted to hug Perry. I loathe reality TV with a passion so I really felt for Greg resisting the attempt to be molded into the antithesis of himself.

The small Scottish island setting was perfect and I loved the locals. I appreciate the fact the author didn’t resort to stereotypes. There were business brains among the knitters.

If I had one minor quibble, I would have liked to have seen Perry making friends with the villagers rather than after the fact. But it didn’t matter too much. This was about Perry showing Greg in the most wonderful way that he wasn’t an Ugly Duckling at all.

Clare London has written a story with humour and pathos, there was tension, angst, and tender loving. If you need an antidote to today’s uncertain world Romancing the Ugly Duckling is it.

Reviewed By: Pippa Wood

Click Here to enter the Dreamspinner Press Website

Gabbi Reviews: Slow Heat by Leta Blake


Title: Slow Heat
Author: Leta Blake
Publisher: Leta Blake Books
Pages: 350
Characters: Jason Sabel, Vale Aman
POV: 3rd
Sub-Genre: Paranormal, Series, Romance
Kisses: 5+

Blurb:

A lustful young alpha meets his match in an older omega with a past.

Professor Vale Aman has crafted a good life for himself. An unbonded omega in his mid-thirties, he’s long since given up hope that he’ll meet a compatible alpha, let alone his destined mate. He’s fulfilled by his career, his poetry, his cat, and his friends.

When Jason Sabel, a much younger alpha, imprints on Vale in a shocking and public way, longings are ignited that can’t be ignored. Fighting their strong sexual urges, Jason and Vale must agree to contract with each other before they can consummate their passion.

But for Vale, being with Jason means giving up his independence and placing his future in the hands of an untested alpha–as well as facing the scars of his own tumultuous past. He isn’t sure it’s worth it. But Jason isn’t giving up his destined mate without a fight.

This is a stand alone gay romance novel, 118,000 words, with a strong happy ending, as well as a well-crafted, non-shifter omegaverse, with alphas, betas, omegas, male pregnancy, heat, and knotting. Content warning for pregnancy loss and aftermath

Review:

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started this book. I admit the blurb peaked my interest, so I was anxious to read it. I’ve read many shifter romances so I expected for this story to be good, but what I wasn’t expecting was how fascinating and addictive this story became for me. Between the fresh story-line and the captivating heroes, Slow Heat has easily become one of my all-time favorite paranormal/shifter reads.

Ms. Blake created an alluring world of tantalizing characters with an intriguing backstory and a well-thought out society these heroes live in. I found myself really wrapped up into the traditions and expectations these characters lived by and quickly became invested into their fascinating lives.

As you know, I’m a big fan of May/December romances. I’ve read many, and some are better than others. In Slow Heat, Ms. Blake really tackles this head on without sugarcoating any issues this couple has AND will possible have in the future. As a reader, I appreciated this very much. Both Jason and Vale and the secondary characters really give their age gap a lot of thought and consideration. What I liked about it was they are able to forge through this head on and become a stronger couple because of it.

Both Jason and Vale are well-written characters. In actuality, ALL of the characters in this story really bring something special to the story itself. They are easy to care for and become invested into their lives.

Throughout the story both Jason and Vale do a lot of self-growth and evolve as people. Jason truly becomes a man and Vale learns that change can be a very good thing. I loved how these two men really became the most important part in each others’ lives and I adored how they learn to communicate, respect and truly love AND like one another.

All in all, Slow Heat is an addictive read that left this reader wanting more! I cannot wait to see what happens next in series! As far as I’m concerned, Ms. Blake can’t write it fast enough! If you are craving a well-written romance filled with a fascinating story-line, then Slow Heat is definitely a book not to be missed.

Highly Recommended!

Reviewed By: Gabbi

Click HERE to purchase Slow Heat by Leta Blake

Gabbi Reviews: The Bounty Hunters, Book 3: Promises, Part 3 by AE Via


Title: Bounty Hunters, Book 3: Promises, Part 3
Author: A.E. Via
Publisher: Via Star Wings Books
Pages: 260
Characters: Ford *Bradford* King, Dana Cadby
POV: 3rd
Sub-Genre: Contemporary Romance, Series
Kisses: 5+

Blurb:

Bradford (Ford) King was sure he had the rest of his life mapped out. Though he was no longer a SEAL Lieutenant, his brother was home safe and he had a job that still allowed him to satisfy his hunger for hunting bad guys. Life was simple, no distractions or complications – at age forty-six – that’s all Ford wanted. What he didn’t want was his work partner, sniper/watchman, Dana, giving him s**t all the time.

Dana Cadby had grown up labeled a roughneck from the wrong side of the tracks. He’d fought, scrounged, and survived despite a father that constantly told him he couldn’t. Dana pulled himself up by his own boot straps and made a name for himself in the marksman community. He’d been Duke’s bounty watchman for five years. It was his job to ensure their safety, watch their backs. At thirty-three, he was trusted, well respected by his peers, his bosses, his friends… so why couldn’t he earn the same respect from his partner?

Dana knew he was bisexual before he graduated high school. He also knew he was attracted to the huge, 6’3”, SEAL from the moment he and his brother came to join their team. It wasn’t easy for him to tamp down his immediate reaction to Ford’s thick muscles, full beard, and dark eyes. Still, Dana exhibited nothing but professionalism towards him, not wanting to make his ‘straight’ partner uncomfortable. So why did Ford constantly give him hell?

After Dana took back his ex-girlfriend, he’d noticed an intensification in Ford’s bad attitude. One that turned aggressive and downright antagonistic, and Dana was damned if he’d just lay down and take it. He was gonna make that man respect him if it was the last thing he did.

When Duke sends Dana and Ford out to track down their most dangerous bounty yet, they both embrace the fact that they make one hell of a team… but they fight tooth and nail against the powerful intimacy brewing between them.
Beware: If Ford and Dana connect completely, god help the fugitive who’s in the sights of the hunter and his watchman.

This story is a part of a series but can stand alone. It does not end on a cliffhanger and has a HEA. (less)

Review:

Promises, Part 3 is an action-packed story full of heated glances and sexy heroes with a hot and provocative romance that left this reader craving for more! I absolutely loved every moment I spent reading this book and I can’t wait to read the next book in the series.

First, a word of warning…DO NOT start reading this book unless you allow yourself plenty of time to read the entire story without stopping. Promises, Part 3 is a very addictive and fast paced read and it is so easy to become engrossed into these characters lives and the story they have to tell. Once you start it, time begins to fly and before you know it hours have passed and the story has come to an end.

I totally fell in love with these two heroes. Both Ford and Dana are well-written, compelling heroes that live and breathe off of the written page. The chemistry between these two heroes steamed up my computer screen. I found myself turning on the fan to cool off. It’s easy to see how much they belong together. I liked how these two men fit so well together. Not only are they working partners, the heated attraction they have for one another really resonated with me as a reader. As the dance around their feelings and physical desire, I found myself really becoming invested into their relationship.

Dana is a genuinely nice guy. He has fallen for Ford long ago, but since Ford doesn’t seem to reciprocate his feelings, Dana tries to find solace with his on again/off again girlfriend. *I think it should be noted that Dana is bisexual* Though his attraction to Ford is a strong one, he’s mostly dated women in the past. As Dana struggles with his attraction and feeling toward Ford he soon discovers that there is more to the gruff and alpha-y Ford than meets the eye.

Ford was a harder sell for me. At first, I thought he was…well…an asshole. He’s got this gruff exterior and controlling personality that made grit my teeth at times, BUT as the story progressed and Ford’s icy exterior began to melt, I soon began to see the caring and even vulnerable man he is inside. I understood why Dana fell for him and Ford quickly became a wonderfully flawed and sexy hero that I totally fell for. *Dana truly is a lucky man*

Ford and Dana’s romance is a slow burn. As the story continues and they dance around their feelings and attraction for each other, the flame between them soon flares up and before you know it, the slow burn turns into a raging fire. I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED the story they had to tell and I truly hated to see it come to an end.

If you like military men…read this book. If you like alpha men…read this book. If you love a sexy romance that will keep you on the edge of your seat…read this book. It is such an easy book to recommend and I know I’ll be re-reading it soon.

Promises, Part 3 is the third book in the Bounty Hunters series. I somehow have missed reading the first two books in the series *Believe me I will rectify that very soon* and though I came into reading this story blind without any knowledge of how the other two books are, I had NO problem reading this book as a stand-alone. I can’t wait to read Brian *Ford’s brother* and Sway’s story!!! OMG…I hope we don’t have long to wait!

Highly Recommended!!

The Bounty Hunter series in book order:

Promises, Part 1
Promises, Part 2
Promises, Part 3

Reviewed By: Gabbi

Click HERE to purchase Promises, Part 3 by AE Via

Gabbi Reviews: The Masterpiece by Bonnie Dee


Title: The Masterpiece
Author: Bonnie Dee
Publisher: Self-Published
Pages: 142
Characters: Arthur Lawton, Joe Sprat
POV: 3rd
Sub-Genre: Historical Romance
Kisses: 5+

Blurb:

Built from the bottom up: one perfect gentleman.

Man about town Arthur Lawton spends his days pursuing entertainment while shoeshine Joe Sprat labors to better his family’s lives. When an argument about nature versus nurture sparks a wager, Arthur swears to a friend he can turn this working man into a gentleman who will pass at a society function.

Joe is happy to participate in the experiment for a fee but receives more than he bargained for after moving into Lawton’s house. Arthur is determined Joe won’t merely wear a veneer of sophistication but educates him in every way. As he creates his new and improved man, Arthur grows more deeply infatuated with him, while Joe falls equally hard for his charismatic mentor.

Underneath a growing friendship, desire simmers and one day explodes. After their relationship escalates, the pair exists in a dream bubble until the threat of exposure sharply reminds them they belong in different worlds. When the ball is over, each must resume his own life, changed by their encounter but destined for different courses.

Find out if love is strong enough to bridge the gap between peer and pauper in this twist on the tale of My Fair Lady.

Review:

The Masterpiece by Bonnie Dee is a brilliantly written romance set in 1909 London. Not only was I immediately swept up into the lives of these characters, the historic setting was almost as captivating.
The blurb describes the story so well, there is really no reason for me to rehash it. Instead, I thought I’d write the reasons why I loved this story and why it’s one of my favorite books I’ve read this year.

To say that I loved this book is an understatement. Not only was it a beautifully told romance, I became addicted to these two heroes. Coming from two totally different lives and circumstances, they shouldn’t have fit together so perfectly…but they did.

There is an honest emotional connection between them. It was easy to see how much they came to like, respect and admire one another. I loved the friendship they developed and enjoyed the camaraderie and easy banter they shared together as their story progressed. When they do give into the heated attraction they have for one another, it is a natural and beautiful step in their relationship.

Actually, heated attraction is an understatement. WHEW! The sizzling chemistry they shared steamed up my computer screen! After a scene or two, I found myself needing to turn on the fan to cool off! *Fans Self*

There isn’t anything I didn’t love about this story and the two heroes. They will live with me long after I write this review and I know I will have to read this book again, just to have my Joe and Arthur fix. In my opinion, Bonnie Dee is one of the best gay historical romance authors out there, and her books are not to be missed. I’ve loved each and every one of them and I can’t wait to read more stories written by her in the future.

If you love historical romance…read this book. If you love sexy heroes that are so well-written they live off of the written page…read this book. If you are craving a fast-paced romance that will live with you long after you finish reading it…read this book.

I honestly can’t recommend it enough.

Highly Recommended!

Reviewed By: Gabbi

Click HERE to buy The Masterpiece by Bonnie Dee