Audiobook Review: Love Lessons (Love Lessons #1) by Heidi Cullinan

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.

Warning: This story contains lingering glances, milder than usual sexual content for this author, and a steamy dance-floor kiss. Story has no dairy or egg content, but may contain almonds.





I had the most ridiculous grin on my face the entire time I listened to this. The. Entire. Time.

My kids were probably wondering how cleaning the house could make me so happy. But I can't be sure... I wasn't listening.

I was busy listening to Iggy Toma's VOICE reading me Heidi Cullinan's WORDS.

Love Lessons has all the things I love about the YA/NA genre.

Two youngins trying to figure out this whole love thing. One is a cynic who prefers things to be short term and the other a hopeless romantic dreaming of Flynn Rider and The One. They were roommates (win!) and quickly became friends (win!), which led to endless tension (win!). It was full of delicious slow burn, with some scorching hot kisses along the way.

Kelly was adorable. He had the cutest quirks and I loved being a part of his journey out into the world. He's finally out of the small town and could be himself without any ridicule. Aw... sweet, naive Kelly... how I wish that were true. Lucky for him, he had Walter there to balance him out. But, no matter how much of a realist Walter tried to be, he couldn't resist all of Kelly's cuteness. Not many people could, I don't think. I loved how Walter was with Kelly. He was so protective and thoughtful. He always put Kelly first, without even trying to. Putting Kelly ahead of himself was just natural to him.

I didn't care much for all the college drama with the professor and such, so those scenes were a bit boring for me. Buuuuuuuuttttt... Kelly and Walter were together, soooooo I wasn't bothered all that much.

They put me in my happy place. I'm sitting here smiling just thinking about them. Kelly was the cutest and Walter was the sweetest. I just want to wrap them up and keep them forever.

I'm 99.973% positive that Love Lessons is fabulous in print, but I really have to recommend the audio version. 

Gah, the voice. Mixed with the words. Iggy Toma was the perfect choice for Love Lessons. He captured all of Walter's cynicism and all of Kelly's naivety and created amazing chemistry between them.

I enjoyed the crap outta this.


A copy was provided in exchange for an honest review.

Find out more info on Goodreads!

Group Review: Fated: Blood and Redemption (Baal's Heart, #3)


With the captain’s mind in shambles, Jon and Tom set out to find the passage home through the black mountain range, hoping to find a cure for Baltsaros’s madness. However, when the men are forced to part ways, darkness takes root in the schism created; fate, lust, and vengeance become obsessions threatening to tear apart the fragile bonds holding the three together.

Following on the heels of Sacrificed, Fated takes the pirates on a quest to find those responsible for the captain’s bloody beginnings. But can they survive what awaits them where past and present meet?









Lorix: 5 Hearts

It's all the stars from me on this one. I was so excited to review this ARC, I even put on my #TeamTom T-shirt. I could so have been setting myself up for disappointment, I'm glad to say I enjoyed every word!
"There was still a long road to recovery ahead, but he felt something he hadn't felt in a long time: hope."
We left book two with a broken Baltsaros, Jon acting as Captain and Tom trying to hold it all together. Though there is plenty of action in this story, lots of piratey ploys, I think this really concentrates on the emotional connection between the three MC's. 

Baltsaros believes he is inherently bad, that he is bad to be around and that it is not good for Jon, especially, to be around him. He doesn't know why or what is wrong with him, but the madness that he is suffering means he is a danger to everyone, particularly Jon. Where does this leave Tom? Well, frankly, jealous. Even he knows it's crazy, but to his mind Baltsaros feels so deeply for Jon that he is willing to kill him to save him. And that is pretty much the basis of this story. Unravelling, not just Baltsaros' madness and what made him that way, but the true feelings these three have for each other.
""Yeah, loving you is a real godsdamn hazard," Jon said, grinning."
I mean it's no secret the three of them are scorching in bed. Oh my god are they scorching. Tom will always have my heart, and how he submits in their sex play is so damn hot. The wildest, fiercest person on the ship and he lets it all go to be dominated sometimes. I can't tell you how hot the sex scenes are in this book - ovary exploding hot is the best I can do. I think the fact that we are seeing the emotional connection forging more - so it is both at it's weakest and it's strongest point, just adds to it. 

I like that we learn more about the captain's past, and also Tom's past in this book. It helps bring a better understanding of what makes them tick. The pain and threat of loss is ever present throughout the story and this just helps, both the MC's and the reader, understand all their tics a little more.

The story flits back and forth between present and past, revealing information as necessary. It's a difficult writing choice to pull off, but I think Bey Deckard does it really well. Everything feeds into the story, adding to it, making actions and reactions understandable. It is a beautiful way of writing.

I believe this is the last in the Baal's Heart series - however I also believe there is to be more set in this world. I hope so. I also hope HOPE hope, that we get to see Tom, Baltsaros and Jon again. These characters are going to be hard to let go.


Sunny: 5 Hearts
Fascinating story, complex characters, intense action, sweet and kinky love...this story had it all. My interest was kept the whole way through and I dreaded reaching the end.

Pirate life is not for the faint-hearted, though, and I cringed a few times while reading. Consequences of past mistakes led to unfortunate situations and although I understood the decisions that were made, I hated that any of it happened in the first place.

However, the dark times did move the story forward, and provided opportunities for reflection and growth. They were also nicely balanced by the rest of this intriguing story, especially the sweet loving and steamy times. Scenes that made me smile. And squirm.  Omg...the neediness in Tom after days of chastity *fans self* and rope play! *sigh*
Tom was beautiful in his submission.

There were crazy times, but through everything that happened, there was awesome relationship development between all three MCs. Support, patient understanding, and determination kept things on track.

Hah! Patience...that was something I needed while reading this story. I had so many questions, and I often had to wait for the answers. No continuity issues, just a slow reveal of information, sometimes in the form of flashbacks. At times, those flashbacks were abrupt and caused some confusion, but the history revealed added so much to the story. I loved getting that background, it helped me understand the characters that much more, and gave their relationships even more layers of complexity.

I can't help but think this would make an amazing movie. An epic pirate adventure and love story, focusing on the redemption of an anti-hero pirate captain.

Side note:
So excited for Saban's story!!!


SheReadsALot: 5 Hearts

Nearly a year ago, I got to meet Bey Deckard's pirates, Jon, Tom and Baltsaros. These three men were damaged, cutthroat, vulnerable, sexy and had one hell of a story to tell. The story telling was vivid, the quality was superb. Book #1, Caged cemented itself on my 2014 favorites list. I wouldn't shut up about it. Blabbed to everyone to read this book and if you haven't, seriously read this book. I felt like I got my deepest wish -I'm a bit of a pirate geek. And I never frown upon the kink. Then Book #2, Sacrificed dropped later last year, and I actually read it. (I'm not one for gobbling a series so soon these days unless I'm impressed) I came to care for these men-they were fucked up, fantasy personified, they were gritty and flawed...couldn't help being drawn to them. And now finally, the end of the trilogy..."Fated".

I had high hopes for this one. I listed things that I wanted in this book in my previous reviews: Tom, kink, more adventure and Tom. And I got them all!!


"Their relationship would continue to grow, to change. There would always be pain, and they would be tested... Their triad had the shakiest of foundations, based as it was on mistrust, jealousy, and deception. But ships didn't need pillars pounded into the earth; no, they needed strong, protective hulls that could carry them over the ever-changing waves of an uncaring sea. With trust, hope... love--all things they had built together--they could weather anything."
I didn't think it was more possible to care for these three pirates but I did after reading "Fated". Each book in this series is my favorite but for different reasons. Possible trigger warning: rape, violence.

"Fated" starts where "Sacrificed" left off, Baltsaros damaged and in need of serious TLC, Jon &Tom trying to come to terms with the changes. Their triad formed in "Caged", their foundation was built in "Sacrificed" and in "Fated"? They were tested, by each other and outside forces. But their bond was solid. (Though I'll admit to being nervous about a certain character who'll be getting their own book in the future making the triad a quadouple!) There was more action of the pirating kind. We got to truly learn the backgrounds of Tom and Baltsaros- what made them tick, what shaped them into the men they became to be. This was Baltsaros' book - we get to travel to his homeland, learn his secrets but Tom and Jon were not forgotten. They provided laughs, heart and sex.

My favorite quote (I laughed so hard and still am):
"I'm gonna ask ye ladies a question, and I bloody expect to be answered," he growled. "Who's the scoundrel been doin' some unwanted rootin' of yer cunts for pay?" 
You know what this author delivers really well? The painting a scene...I swear I smelled their smells, I saw what they saw in just a few words. The flashbacks helped provide background and set the tone for the book. Comparing the throuple in Caged to Fated, they evolved.  That is key for making a triad work for me, I need a solid bond - don't give me perfect, I don't need to read hearts and flowers and I want each person to maintain their sense of self. And the dark intertwined with story was pretty well done - glad it didn't fluff it up and stayed true to the men.

Know what else I enjoyed? The sex. Holy cock rings, Batman was that hot. ;P DP and rope bondage? Yes please. Oh! Oh! Oh! And I got two scenes besides ropes and toys that I really, really wanted more of. Hint: the not so usual bottom. I am a happy lady pirate!

I don't want to spoil because if you're reading this, you're probably down with the pirates and want to know what happens in the final showdown. There is pirate action: some thievery, battling on the sea. We get to visit favorite places.  It ends with HEA (for a minute, I was nervous we weren't going to get that). I'm so honored to have read this series and I am soooooooooooo happy about the new development. I have questions about that. I'm going to make a list. But I definitely recommend this series. This author is dope and worth a peek or three - definitely one of my great finds in 2014.

So now I go through pirate withdrawal because getting over one of my favorites of 2015 is tough.



For more information on Goodreads or Booklikes! [Release date: 4/11/15]


Author Visit: Keira Andrews


Keira Andrews is here today! She's talking our favorite Amish boys, Davis & his eechel, Isaac

Thanks so much to Boy Meets Boy for having me today to talk about A Way Home, the third book in my gay Amish series. It’s a pleasure to be here!

The Amish language is commonly known as Pennsylvania Dutch, although it’s actually a dialect of German, and has nothing to do with the Netherlands. There are theories as to how the misnomer came to be, but no one knows for certain.

Since most people who speak this dialect aren’t online, it wasn’t easy to find a glossary. But I did discover this online dictionary, which was very useful. This is where I discovered that “eechel” means acorn in the Amish dialect. Although the word is a little awkward in English, it felt like the perfect tender pet name for David to give Isaac. I’ve been told by a few readers that it means “asshole” in other languages, but I assure you David is calling Isaac an acorn, not an anus!

Here are a few more cool words in the Amish language:

Blunnevoggel: hummingbird
Budderfass: churn
Glabbordfens: picket fence
Hexegraut: St. John’s Wort
Iemeschwarm: swarm of bees
Karbsegrummbeer: sweet potato
Maulgrischt: pretend Christian

Let’s hope Isaac and David don’t have to contend with any swarms of bees when they return to Zebulon! They definitely have enough on their plate already...

Will returning to their Amish roots renew their faith in each other?

Isaac and David never thought they'd go back to the Amish world. But when Isaac’s younger brother is stricken with cancer, they don’t hesitate to return. Their relationship is on the rocks after insecurity and fear drove a wedge between them in San Francisco, and David is determined to make things right. Yet if they thought navigating “English” life was confusing, being back in Zebulon is even more complicated.

Their families are desperate to bring them back into the fold, and pressure from the community builds. Isaac and David yearn for a future together, but each day it becomes harder to hide the truth about who they really are. They're caught between two worlds, and if they’re not careful it could tear them further apart.

Can Isaac and David make their way back to each other—and find a place to call home?

This is the final chapter in a trilogy of forbidden Amish love.

Available now at:
Amazon
ARe
Barnes & Noble
iTunes
Kobo
Smashwords

An excerpt from A Way Home

“Do I look okay?”

As Isaac glanced at Aaron, he stepped in a pile of slush that soaked straight through his sneaker. It was the end of April, but the vestiges of winter still clung to northern Minnesota, and melting snowbanks dotted the hospital parking lot. Aaron stopped and smoothed a hand down his jacket. It was a nice raincoat—the color of red wine, fitted with buttons down the front—but they both knew it didn’t matter.

Still, Isaac nodded. “You look great.”

Aaron tried to smile. “Thanks.” He pushed back a lock of blond hair that had crept over his forehead, and pushed a button to lock the doors on the salt-stained sedan he’d rented at the airport.

The truth was that Aaron could be wearing his fanciest suit, but the only way to please their parents was if he donned plain clothes again—clothes that followed the rules of the Ordnung down to the very last detail. Isaac wasn’t wearing Amish clothes either, and he realized it would be the first time his parents would see him in English jeans and a hoodie. His green raincoat was thin, and he shivered, wishing he had gloves.

Maybe he should have changed into his Amish clothes after all. Mother and Father would hate to see him like this, but he’d wanted to…what? Make a statement, he supposed. But what was he really saying? Was it brave to spit in his parents’ faces and turn his back on his heritage? Or cruel?

Isaac tugged at his sleeves and scuffed his rubber toe across the wet concrete. Driving from Minneapolis had taken longer than he’d expected, and it would be dark soon. If he asked Aaron to go back to June’s now so he could change, the nurses might not even let him see Nathan by the time they returned.

They stood by the car, breath clouding the damp, wintry air, and stared at the gray and beige concrete block that was the hospital. The glass doors of the emergency room swished open and shut as a nurse in blue scrubs came out. She lit a cigarette as she walked away from the door, joining a man in a wheelchair with a metal pole holding a plastic bag towering over him. The nurse exhaled a cloud of smoke and rubbed her arms.

“I guess we should go inside.” Aaron stared at the doors with hunched shoulders.

“Yeah.”

Neither of them moved. They’d been so desperate to get to Minnesota after the nurse had called. Mother and Father refused to come on the line, and she could only tell them so much. Nathan had cancer. He probably needed some kind of transplant. Could they be tested?

Now, standing in the slushy parking lot of the hospital under a gray slate sky, Isaac felt just as far away as he had in San Francisco. Nathan has cancer. The terror that his brother would die before Isaac could see him again had driven him here as though he were a horse kicked by a merciless rider. Not being able to speak to Nathan or their parents had been torture.

Yet now that he and Aaron had arrived, Isaac’s stomach churned. A vision of blood soaking into the fresh white snow filled his mind, and David’s voice echoed.

“I must repent or my mother will die. Everyone I love will pay for my sins. You need to stay far away from me.”

Isaac swallowed hard over a swell of emotion. They’d come so far together, but somehow not far enough. David hadn’t answered his calls and texts about Nathan. Why hadn’t he? The ache to have David by his side burned hollowly in Isaac’s chest. Isaac had been so afraid not to come back to Minnesota straight away, and now he couldn’t face actually going inside. He itched to clutch David’s hand and feel his warm, solid strength.

“David’s coming tomorrow.”

Isaac blinked at his brother, his pulse jumping. Was I talking out loud? “What?”

Aaron held up his phone. “Jen’s taking him to the airport first thing. The redeye was booked, but he’ll be in Minneapolis by early afternoon.”

The surge of sweet relief was tempered by dark tendrils of disappointment and hurt. He wished he could scrub his brain and erase the image of David in that place. The image of Clark touching him. Kissing him. Kissing his David! Isaac’s mind whirled uselessly. “Oh.”

Aaron’s eyebrows shot up. “Oh? That’s it? Okay, tell me what happened. I know you don’t want to, but before we go in there and deal with all…that, we need to deal with this. Spill it. What did you guys fight about?”

Sighing, Isaac jammed his hands in his coat pockets. His face flushed, and he wasn’t sure if it was with anger or embarrassment. “He kissed someone else,” Isaac mumbled. He hated even saying the ugly words.

“What?” Aaron’s jaw opened and closed. “Are you serious? Of course you’re serious—forget I said that. What happened?”

Isaac kept his gaze on a scattering of rock salt. “I saw them kissing at the dance club. David didn’t think I’d be there, but I got a fake ID. I was going to surprise him.” He laughed hollowly. “Didn’t turn out how I expected.”

“I… Wow. I really can’t believe this. It doesn’t seem like David at all. He’s so in love with you. I mean, when he looks at you little cartoon hearts spring out of his eyes.”

“Really? You think so?” Isaac blinked rapidly to fight impending tears, and breathed carefully. “Then why? I guess Clark has something I don’t,” he muttered.

“Clark?” Isaac nodded, and Aaron pressed his lips together. “I can’t believe this. I’m going to kill him. Both of them! What did David say?”

“He said Clark kissed him like I saw, and that he tried to get away from him, but Clark followed. I saw them go into the bathroom together. David says nothing happened. ” Isaac inhaled through the wave of nausea. “But I know what people do in there.”

Aaron’s gaze narrowed. “Wait—David says nothing really happened?”

“I want to believe him, but…I can’t get it out of my head, seeing them together. It makes me so angry and…sick. Sick to my stomach. I should have known. I heard Clark say that he was going to get David into bed the first night we met him.”

Jaw clenched, Aaron shook his head. “Well, that I can certainly believe. I love Clark, but he can be a selfish ass sometimes. But David? I don’t know. He’s never struck me as a liar, Isaac.”

“But we lied to our families and everyone we knew for months. We’re still lying to them.” He jabbed his finger toward the hospital. “I’m going to go in there and lie. Because it’s bad enough I betrayed God and my community by leaving. But if they found out who I really am? It would be over for good. No visiting. No letters. Nothing.”

Aaron sighed. “Isaac, when was the last time you got a letter? The only way they’ll ever let you back in their lives is if you repent your evil, worldly ways, come home, and join the church. Whether or not they know you’re gay won’t really matter in the end. Yes, you’re right—if they find out, they’ll turn away from you. Right now you’re not shunned like I am, but you’ll never have a real relationship with them. Not unless you go back and do everything they want. Give up everything you have. Everything you are.”

It was all true, but Isaac still shook his head. “I can’t tell them the truth. They can’t ever know.”

“I’m not suggesting you should march in there and come out.” Aaron took Isaac’s shoulders gently. “Just that you should think about how far you’re willing to go to keep that shred of hope alive. How much of yourself you’re willing to give up, and for what? Maybe a letter or two a year if you’re lucky?”

“It’s better than nothing,” Isaac whispered.

Aaron smiled sadly. “Maybe. And yes, you’re right that you and David have lied about who you are, and the truth of your relationship. But don’t hold that against him now. It’s not fair. Hear him out. Has he ever lied to you before?”

“No. I don’t know. I don’t think so. How am I supposed to know?” That was what dug into him the most with sharp, angry edges—that he wasn’t sure of anything now. Had David lied to him in the past? Isaac’s heart said no, but maybe he was fooling himself?

“I know you’re hurt and angry, and you have every right to be. Just don’t make any big decisions right now. Whatever happens in the end, I support you, but don’t give up on your relationship with David without really talking with him. He’s a good person. You both are. You can work through this. I know you can.”

He nodded. Part of him wanted to tell Aaron that David had apparently been lying about drinking as well, but the words wouldn’t come. He didn’t have a clue what to think about that. About any of it. He wanted so desperately to believe David had never wanted anything to happen with Clark, but he didn’t want to be…what was the word Chris had used? A chump. It was as though Isaac’s feeling were a big pot of stew inside him, stirring and stirring and stirring. It wouldn’t be long until it all overflowed.

In his pocket, his phone buzzed. Heart in his throat, Isaac pulled it out and read the words on the screen.

I will be there soon. I love you.

He exhaled shakily, the jagged edge of his panic dulling as warmth flowed through him. As hurt as he was, he knew David truly loved him. If that made him a chump, so be it. There was so much he wanted to say, but it would have to wait. It was better to talk in person, especially since David barely knew how to use his phone even after months.

“I guess we really should get in there.” Aaron blew out a long breath. “It’s easy to give you advice, but not so easy to take it myself. I know I shouldn’t get my hopes up. They might not even look at me, let alone talk to me. God, it’s been so long. Almost ten years now. Hard to believe, isn’t it? Seeing them again, it’s…terrifying. But exciting too.”

Isaac squeezed Aaron’s arm. “I’m here. We’ll do it together.”

On the other side of the lot, a large delivery truck rumbled away, revealing a horse and covered buggy hitched to a light post. Isaac’s heart skipped a beat as he recognized old Roy right away. He thought of dear Silver, and hoped he’d see her again soon. Looking at the buggy, it hit home—Mother and Father were really inside, and so was Nathan. His little brother was in there, lying in a bed not knowing if he’d live or die, and here Isaac was worrying about himself.

Without another word, they hurried across the lot, almost in a run by the time the glass doors swooshed open to admit them to whatever might wait inside.

Copyright © Keira Andrews

~

About Keira Andrews:
After writing for years yet never really finding the right inspiration, Keira discovered her voice in gay romance, which has become a passion. She writes contemporary, historical, paranormal and fantasy fiction, and—although she loves delicious angst along the way—Keira firmly believes in happy endings. For as Oscar Wilde once said, “The good ended happily, and the bad unhappily. That is what fiction means.”

Where you can find Keira:
Website
Newsletter
Twitter
Facebook
Goodreads
Amazon Author Page

Book Blast & Giveaway: Finding Their Way by Tory Temple & Chris Owen




Guess who's back in town?



Yep! Get your apples ready. If they need to be pounded, ground, juiced or... really, anything that involves pummeling Jake and Tor are on the case and, apparently, they've brought reinforcements.


It should be a fruitful harvest... 




Book title: Finding Their Way

Authors: Chris Owens and Tory Temple

Blurb:
When Jake Taggart fell from the roof of his barn, Tor had only one thought -- to reach out to Chance Shanahan and Tucker McBride for support. In this follow-up to Never Too Early: The Beginning, the first book in the Cowboy/Firefighter series, the two couples are reunited in their mutual concern for Jake. But how far will that concern go?

A strong friendship begins to explore the boundaries of something else; something all four men never looked for or expected. Emotions and attraction are difficult to deny, try as they might, but giving in has the potential to destroy everything both couples have worked so hard for. How will they handle something that none of them set out to find?

Pages or Words: 54,000 words

Categories: Contemporary, Erotica, Fiction, Gay Fiction, M/M Romance, Menage/Poly, Cowboy, Romance


Publisher: Torquere Press
Cover Artist: BSClay

Excerpt:

Jake reached out and touched the back of Chance's hand. "Thank you for coming all this way to be with me. Thank you for coming to sit next to me, and for helping Tor. Thank you for everything you and Tucker have done around here, but mostly thank you for being someone I can count on." Jake nodded firmly and looked up into Chance's face, studying his eyes. "Thanks for caring so much."

Chance's gaze was steady and direct. "I didn't mean to," he said quietly. "I thought you were a good guy, that's all. I thought you were nice and funny and smart and easy to talk to. I didn't mean for there to be more than that."

Jake nodded. "I know. We all know. But there is, and I'm okay with that. Thankful for it, really. And so is Tor. And Tucker sent me upstairs to talk to you, and said not to let you overthink it." He smiled, trying not to shake with nerves. "So sit down here next to me and stop thinking." 

Sales Links: Torquere Books

About the authors:

Chris Owen: I live and write in eastern Canada.  I went to a bunch of schools, learned a lot of things, and now make stuff up because not to do so is unthinkable. I'm fond of fountain pens, Levenger's Circa system, and Steampunk fashions. Lately I've been watching a lot of Discovery channel. I've seen every episode of CSI Las Vegas and New York, but I'm not terribly keen on CSI Miami. It might be due to weather envy. I have a crush on the whole cast of Criminal Minds, and fondness for wool. The two are not related. Hoarders keeps me honest. I'm inspired by the day to day minutia of life, and find beauty in the way words go together. I like texture and richness of experience. I'm not shy. I'm happy, I'm learning, I'm living.

Tory Temple: Tory lives and works in southern California, where she spends a lot of time around firemen. She visits the beach frequently and wears flip flops even in the winter. Tory likes television, salted pistachios in the shell, and chenille socks. She dislikes cauliflower, not being able to find the right shoes in the morning, and not having enough free time. She shares her space with numerous pets, including but not limited to cats, dogs, and tortoises.

Where to find the authors:

Websites:

www.chrisowen.net 
www.torytemple.com

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Chris-Owen/362850963876393
https://www.facebook.com/torytemple

Twitter:

https://twitter.com/chris_owen
https://twitter.com/ToryTemple 


a Rafflecopter giveaway



Tour Dates & Stops: April 9, 2015

Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, Molly Lolly, Inked Rainbow Reads, Cate Ashwood, Bayou Book Junkie, Fangirl Moments and My Two Cents, BFD Book Blog, Love Bytes, Vampires, Werewolves, and Fairies, Oh My, Boy Meets Boy Reviews, Chris McHart, 3 Chicks After Dark,Multitasking Mommas, Divine Magazine, Elisa - My Reviews and Ramblings, MM Good Book Reviews, Rainbow Gold Reviews, Velvet Panic, Wicked Faerie's Tales and Reviews, The Blogger Girls

Group Review: Carry the Ocean by Heidi Cullinan

Normal is just a setting on the dryer. 
High school graduate Jeremey Samson is looking forward to burying his head under the covers and sleeping until it’s time to leave for college. Then a tornado named Emmet Washington enters his life. The double major in math and computer science is handsome, forward, wicked smart, interested in dating Jeremey—and he’s autistic.

But Jeremey doesn’t judge him for that. He’s too busy judging himself, as are his parents, who don’t believe in things like clinical depression. When his untreated illness reaches a critical breaking point, Emmet is the white knight who rescues him and brings him along as a roommate to The Roosevelt, a quirky new assisted living facility nearby.

As Jeremey finds his feet at The Roosevelt, Emmet slowly begins to believe he can be loved for the man he is behind the autism. But before he can trust enough to fall head over heels, he must trust his own conviction that friendship is a healing force, and love can overcome any obstacle.

Warning: Contains characters obsessed with trains and counting, positive representations of autism and mental illness, a very dark moment, and Elwood Blues.
 




When the request to review Carry the Ocean came into the clubhouse several of us were interested - but also a little scared. The two MC's are far from the a-typical romantic leads and, as they were dealing with autism and depression, there was every chance this novel was going to be an emotionally hard read. So we did what unicorns do best and decided to share this journey - this wonderful, amazing journey. Here is what Sunny and I (Lorix) thought.

Sunny
This story hit me hard, but in a good way. Emmet and Jeremey, and all their thoughts and emotions, felt so real. I want everyone to know these characters; ones I wish existed in real life because they are that wonderful.

Emmet's voice was so clear, his personality came across immediately and I knew him and loved him.

It’s like Elwood Blues says: everybody needs somebody to love. I’m an everybody. I get a somebody.


I shouldn’t have worried so much about it. Frankly, I’m awesome, and anybody who doesn’t agree should get out of my way. 

I loved his parents, too...

My mom says disorder makes it sound as if there’s something wrong with me, and there isn’t. I’m wired differently, but she says so is everyone if you come right down to it. 


She’s a mom with lots of superpowers, but she says they’re powered by hugs. 

...and the winks and ice cream from his dad :)

When he saw Jeremey, and wanted to meet him, wanted to be his boyfriend, his plans to make it happen were awesome.

The night before I practiced all my facial recognition charts and went through my flash cards of appropriate getting-to-know-a-boyfriend conversation. 

My heart melted.

So we meet Jeremy, with his depression and anxiety, and I just wanted to hug him. And take out his mother >:[
Well versed in 'modifications', Emmet was pragmatic about Jeremy's situation and was able to suggest strategies to help him deal with problem areas. His easy acceptance of Jeremey's diagnosis was so sweet, and his perspective of what it meant was spot on.

“Depression likes to eat happy things, sometimes.”

Watching the two of them get to know each other, learn from each other...it was so honest, no games. I loved that. For someone who supposedly had problems interacting with others, I found Emmet's way of communicating, especially with his hand signs and t-shirts, to be refreshingly direct. 

When they moved into the Roosevelt, their relationship moved up another level, with sex added to the mix. 

I have a thing about my nipples being played with, and Emmet knows all about it.
*grins*
There was a slight hint of D/s that played out naturally and made me grin even more.

When serious conflict occurred, my chest hurt and it was hard to breath, but they way it played out was wonderful...again, honest and real.

Jeremy's baby steps to managing his depression and anxiety also felt realistic. No magic cures, just a lot of work, but also hope. The support from his friends was heartwarming, and when he figured some stuff out...it was awesome :)

For a story with sad topics, this wasn't a depressing read. Emmet and Jeremey were so good for each other, and their love was beautiful to see. 

All the stars for this one *hugs e-reader*



Lorix
I'm not sure I know where to start with my review of this book. Partly I want to just shout THIS BOOK IS AMAZING, EVERYONE READ IT NOW, and partly I want to break it down, to get inside it and work out why this went straight on my favourites shelf.

First of all, let's address the genius that is Heidi Cullinan. I've read and enjoyed - really enjoyed - several of her books, but this has topped the list as my favourite. What Heidi shows time and again is meticulous research into her characters. This doesn't mean she dumps a whole load of information in each book about them but it absolutely shows in every line, every action, every character thought she writes. This book was no exception.

Books/films with an autistic MC have been done before, but what Heidi manages to do is make Emmet a character who happens to have autism rather than him be an autistic character. It's a fine line, a subtle difference, but it makes the story one I couldn't put down. All good authors make their characters come alive. They give them traits and tics and personality and this is what helps move a story along - action and reaction, just as we're all different, so should characters in books be. 

Emmet's life is affected by his autism in that he makes decisions and judgements based on the way his brain is wired. His personality is created by this. This doesn't mean he is not a normal person (as he says, normal is a setting on a dryer) he is perfectly normal. His normal is just different - as is mine, as is yours. We are all individual. We are all different. I love how Heidi shows Emmet working at the things he finds harder - recognition of other's emotions for example. We all have things that come easily and things that don't - me, I have to work harder at maths.  Emmet may have needed a little help to function independently but that doesn't mean he is unable to do so. 

It is fair to say, that even with his difficulty in emotional recognition, he is the one who was able to help Jeremey the most. Jeremey, who is severely clinically depressed, has his own trouble functioning in society. I have to say I understood Jeremey so well. Depression is so often badly portrayed and, though it affects everyone differently, this portrayal felt real to me. It was real to me. As a sometime sufferer I understand so well that feeling of worrying about making the wrong decision, of just wanting to get in bed and hide under the covers, of the tiredness and how difficult conversation is with people, even those you know really well. Jeremey needs support from his family and he isn't getting it. The more they insist he acts a certain way the deeper he is falling into the blackness. Yet Emmet breaks it down in a simplistic way and 'gets' Jeremey, when others really don't.

When Emmet and Jeremey form their friendship, Jeremey's family show a lot of prejudice about Emmet - and that's before the friendship moves further than just friends.  This book shows us the strength in understanding others and not making judgements. It shows us the realism of living 'outside the norm', of dealing with depression and autism and how, if we look beyond the labels, Emmet and Jeremey are just as normal as you and I.

I'm not even sure I've chipped at the surface of why this book is so damn good - but if I don't stop soon this blog post will be rivalling the book in length. I would urge everyone to read this. Read about love and friendship in its most basic form, without the expectations society dictates to many of us. It really is the best tale of love and family and friendship I've read in a long while.

A copy of this book was given in exchange for an honest review.
To find out more, check out Goodreads.



Blog Tour and Giveaway: Carry the Ocean by Heidi Cullinan



Today, author Heidi Cullinan stops by as part of her Carry the Ocean blog tour. Having just read this book, I cannot express how much love I have for it and would highly recommend it. Check out this post for more details and the chance to enter a give-away.


CARRY THE OCEAN
The Roosevelt, Book 1

Normal is just a setting on the dryer.

High school graduate Jeremey Samson is looking forward to burying his head under the covers and sleeping until it’s time to leave for college. Then a tornado named Emmet Washington enters his life. The double major in math and computer science is handsome, forward, wicked smart, interested in dating Jeremey—and he’s autistic.

But Jeremey doesn’t judge him for that. He’s too busy judging himself, as are his parents, who don’t believe in things like clinical depression. When his untreated illness reaches a critical breaking point, Emmet is the white knight who rescues him and brings him along as a roommate to The Roosevelt, a quirky new assisted living facility nearby.

As Jeremey finds his feet at The Roosevelt, Emmet slowly begins to believe he can be loved for the man he is behind the autism. But before he can trust enough to fall head over heels, he must trust his own conviction that friendship is a healing force, and love can overcome any obstacle.

Warning: Contains characters obsessed with trains and counting, positive representations of autism and mental illness, a very dark moment, and Elwood Blues.


TRAIN MAN
Emmet Washington loves trains.

"My family didn’t know I watched Jeremey, because they thought I was waiting for a train. I loved how we had a train track in our backyard, and my favorite way to relax was to count the train cars as they passed. When it rained and a train came, I was pretty much in heaven. I didn’t just count the trains, either. I noted the numbers of the cars and the engines, tried to find patterns in the way they were arranged, checked how many of the cars came through and when, and in which direction. I did watch the trains. But I also watched Jeremey."




The train tracks Emmet loves so much actually exist. They run beside the real-life former Roosevelt school and right through the neighborhood backyards. In the winter, deer follow the tracks because grain cars like to spill corn.


One day a passenger car much like the one Emmet sees in the novel did indeed pass through.



"It was a train, but it was a train different than anything that had ever gone down that track since I’d been watching it. It was a big black steam engine, and when it came close to the track, it pulled its whistle. My skin got goose bumps from the sound. It was so strange and beautiful, and so was the engine. All the cars talk to me, but this one was old and amazing. I wished the train would stop so I could touch it and learn everything about it.
Almost better than the steam engine, though, were the cars behind it. Passenger cars. Old-fashioned passenger cars, with people inside hanging out the windows, waving.
Half the residents from The Roosevelt were at the end of the street, facing the tracks, waving and watching…this was the most wonderful thing I’d ever seen on my train tracks. I couldn’t stop myself from humming and rocking and flapping in happiness as I stared, counting and memorizing the number of windows and wheels and identifying markers on each car. When the train was gone, I’d go look it up online to see what it was and why it was here, but right now it was in front of me, and I was so happy I felt like electricity."


Emmet’s love of trains is no secret, and one of the residents at the Roosevelt, David, gives Emmet the nickname Train Man. Because at first Emmet and David are enemies, it’s meant as a subtle pun on Rainman and a dig at Emmet. But Emmet doesn’t understand those kinds of jokes very well, isn’t allowed to watch that movie, and thinks the name is actually pretty cool.

There’s a lot more to Train Man and to David and Emmet’s rivalry. But you’ll have to read the book to hear the rest of that story.






Available April 7, 2015
Format: Novel
Genre: Contemporary New Adult
Length: 89,300 words
Publisher: Samhain Publishing, April 14, 2015
Ebook ISBN: 978-1-61922-520-6
Print ISBN: 978-1-61922-711-8
Series: Roosevelt
Characters: Emmet Washington, Jeremey Samson
Short Summary: Jeremey doesn’t judge Emmet for his autism. He’s too busy judging himself, as are his parents, who don’t believe in clinical depression. When his illness reaches a breaking point, Emmet rescues him and brings him to The Roosevelt, a quirky assisted living facility. As Jeremey settles in, Emmet slowly begins to believe he can be loved for the man he is inside. But before he can trust enough to fall head over heels, he must trust his own conviction that friendship is a healing force, and love can overcome any obstacle.






Heidi's Bio
Heidi Cullinan has always loved a good love story, provided it has a happy ending. She enjoys writing across many genres but loves above all to write happy, romantic endings for LGBT characters because there just aren't enough of those stories out there. When Heidi isn't writing, she enjoys cooking, reading, knitting, listening to music, and watching television with her husband and teenaged daughter. Heidi is a vocal advocate for LGBT rights and is proud to be from the first Midwestern state with full marriage equality. Find out more about Heidi, including her social networks, at www.heidicullinan.com.


Review: Uniform Fetish: Manlove Edition by Various Authors

Does the sight of a cop’s badge—or his handcuffs—make your pulse race? Do you drive by your local firehouse just to catch a glimpse of your favorite fireman? Ever peek in the cockpit just to check out the captain?

If you agree the only thing sexier than a man in uniform is a man out of uniform, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve handpicked an assortment of sizzling hot, uniformed heroes to satisfy your uniform fetish.










Rain and Promises by Elizabeth Monvey - 4 Hearts
This was super hot and so very sweet. It's an established couple story done right. The author managed to pack a lot into a short story with lots of subtle showing that I really appreciated.

Fine Dining by Nicola Cameron - 4 Hearts
Classy sexy men are very classy sexy in this one. They were very highbrow which is generally way outside my wheelhouse, but the characters were warm and loving so I fell for them anyway. Maybe not at the dirty cowboy level I normally do, but fell for them all the same I did.

The Layover by Gale Stanley - 1.5 Hearts
Hmmmmm. Well, cheating is my no fly zone <----see see what I did there? And in my mind you don't have to have sex to cheat, so the whole premise of the story wasn't working for me before I even started. It made both MC's unlikable for me and so when they got their happy ending all I could muster up was, "Good for you. I suppose." with a *smh* for good measure. If cheating isn't a hot button for you you'll probably like it, but, if you're like me, you'll have trouble.

Scars by the COX - 5 Hearts
No one writes inner dialog like the COX. I loved Devil and Gabe together. They are each dealing with demons from their time served and as much as Devil wants to hide away Gabe won't let him wither away on the mountain alone. When Devil realizes that he isn't the only one suffering and Gabe needs him, he's able to open up and they both get what they've always dreamed of. I'd read more contemporary by the COX any time.

A Walk on the Wild Side by Pelaam - 2.5 Hearts
It was good, just not real memorable. The mom was a convenient villain. She was a one dimensional caricature and it seemed too easy to blame everything on her. She deserved it, she was a royal bitch, but it was too easy and too extreme so the story lost credibility for me.

Real Life Role Play by Tamsin Baker - 2.5 Hearts
Tayte pissed me off. I felt bad for Lachlan because I really didn't see what he was doing so wrong for Tayte to be so irritable. He kind of came around in the end, but I didn't see enough of the good to reconcile the dickish behavior and internal dialog.

Mile High Rebound by L.D. Blakely - 4 Hearts
This one was completely charming. Being inside Will's head for his Mile High Rebound was pretty fun because his inner dialog cracked me up. "When your day starts out with such a heavy dose of suck, ambiance isn't nearly as important as alcohol content." No truer words were ever writ. Des is adorably slutty and I mean that in the best possible way. It's really just a story about a hot hook up with a smidge of optimism that they may meet/bone again. Good enough for me in a short story.

The British Are Coming by Lilith Duvalier - 3.5 Hearts
I liked this unique take on the uniform theme. Elijah is a historical reenactment volunteer and the annual event is extra significant this year as we gradually find out about his families struggles as the story evolves. His best friend Colin, is a total charmer and at first I thought those two were going to hook up. That would have been too obvious and convenient though and I liked what the author did with Elijah and his love interest Jasper. Jasper turns out to be the perfect guy at the perfect time.

Fired Up by Lucy Felthouse - 3.5 Hearts
A sweet story about second chances and not too overly convenient coincidences, but the coincidences did come in handy. I loved the conversation between Lucas and Greg as they got to know one another again. There was shy honestly that was incredibly sweet to read. Then it got damn hot.

**as previously posted on GR**

Review: A Way Home (Gay Amish Romance #3) by Keira Andrews

Will returning to their Amish roots renew their faith in each other?

Isaac and David never thought they'd go back to the Amish world. But when Isaac’s younger brother is stricken with cancer, they don’t hesitate to return. Their relationship is on the rocks after insecurity and fear drove a wedge between them in San Francisco, and David is determined to make things right. Yet if they thought navigating “English” life was confusing, being back in Zebulon is even more complicated.

Their families are desperate to bring them back into the fold, and pressure from the community builds. Isaac and David yearn for a future together, but each day it becomes harder to hide the truth about who they really are. They're caught between two worlds, and if they’re not careful it could tear them further apart.

Can Isaac and David make their way back to each other—and find a place to call home?




After the end of A Clean Break, I couldn't get my hands on A Way Home fast enough.

I knew all would be well. Isaac and David are too good not to be understanding and forgiving. I knew it would all work out... but I still had to find out first hand. Like, right away!

So, it picks up right where A Clean Break left off. After their big fight, Isaac leaves to go back to Zebulon to see his brother who is sick. He leaves without any resolution with David. They're relationship is kind-of up in the air, but it's pushed aside because the health of Isaac's brother is more important.

And that, that right there, is what I love so much about Isaac and David. They're so good. They're selfless, giving, forgiving, loving and full of so much good. It's like they took all the best parts of being Amish and became these amazing young men. Way too young to be so good. But it's not fake or forced, because of their background and their families, it only makes sense that this is who they are. They're not stereotypical perfectly perfect characters. They make mistakes and mess up (book 2, anyone?), but they know how to be gracious and humble. I simply adore them.

They go through quite a bit while back home in Zebulon. Isaac not only has a sick brother, but he's staying with his parents. They, of course, put on the pressure to come back to the church. David feels the same pressure from his family. Ugh, their families. I get sticking to your beliefs, but at the expense of your child? Nope. Can't get behind that. They have a strong faith and I have to admire that much conviction, even if they are contradictions in their beliefs, but rejecting your child is just... too much. Too much to even think about, and it makes me so angry that parents are willing to make their children feel less.

I had so many real, raw emotions while reading A Way Home. These boys have struck a chord with me and I'll be sure to revisit them. I'm not certain if this is the final book. I think it might be? If it is, I would have loved some more couple time. There was so much drama surrounding them, some more HEA bliss would have been welcome. There was a nice epilogue, and I love me an epilogue, but I suppose I'm greedy and selfish and want MORE.

Always more of Isaac and David.



A copy was provided in exchange for an honest review.

Find out more info on Goodreads!

Review: Baked Fresh by Annabeth Albert

From its famous coffee to the mouthwatering fare at its caf├ęs, restaurants, and bakeries, Portland, Oregon, has a lot to whet the appetite, including the hard-working men who serve it all up—hot, fresh, and ready to go—with no reservations…

Vic Degrassi is a baker on the rise, and it’s all thanks to his rare ability to make—and keep—his New Year’s resolutions. Whether it’s losing weight, giving up smoking, or graduating from culinary school, Vic goes after what he wants—and gets it. This year? He wants Robin Dawson, the sweet-hearted hottie who volunteers with him at the local homeless shelter. When he learns that Robin is suddenly single after being unceremoniously dumped, Vic is more than happy to offer a shoulder to cry on—or at least a fresh-baked pastry to bite into. But it’s been a long time since Vic’s gone on a date, and he’s nervous about risking his friendship with Robin. So when their flirtation turns into a steamy night together, Vic and Robin have to figure out if they’re friends with benefits or lovers in the making, and if Robin is ready for something more than just a rebound. There’s only one way to find out: turn up the heat…
 





Cutesy.

If you're searching for a quick, easy, feel good read that's precisely what you'll find in Baked Fresh. This is book 2 of a series but can be read as a standalone. The cover is what initially drew me in along with the promise of baked goods and manlove and, boy, were those delivered in spades. 

Baked Fresh is told through Vic, an Italian Stallion, pastry chef and former fatty. Vic had lapband, lost about 100 lbs but continues to struggle with his body image, but he's ready to hit the dating scene with his newly svelte and gym ratted self. He's been lusting after Robin for two years when opportunity strikes in the form of a painful breakup and Vic swoops in as the rebound guy hoping for more. 

There is very little angst but also very little depth. It felt very superficial in that Vic only ever talks about how beautiful Robin is, they never have any conversations of substance when both of them have significant amounts of emotional baggage. Overall I found the writing to be simplistic and overly reliant on telling rather than showing usually with some sort of anthropomorphic bent which, frankly, made me hope Vic had his internist on speed dial. His innards might need a tune up what with all the churning, burning, clenching and gurgling. And, finally, the conflict seemed rather melodramatic in addition to lacking detail and depth.

The manlove was pretty hot, though. It even had a bit of kinky fuckery, though the "dominance" did come across a little stilted oftentimes. Still, the face fucking was a win. And the rimming.

If you want a quick little petit four sized treat, you'll likely enjoy Baked Fresh.



A review copy was provided by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Find out more on Goodreads.