Review: Striking Sparks by Ari McKay

The stakes are high and the heat is on.

Beau Walker, owner of the Barbecue Shack, needs the help of Jake Parnell, his one-time rival and secret crush, in a televised barbecue competition. Beau is a proud man, but the stakes are high, and smart, sexy Jake is his only hope, even if being around Jake reawakens the attraction he’s fought for years.

Jake left his hometown, determined to build a life somewhere his sexuality wouldn’t hurt his family’s restaurant business—and far away from hunky, obstinate Beau Walker. Then his twin, Josh, is killed, and Jake returns to support his brother’s wife and children. Despite his reservations, he agrees to go head-to-head against Beau on national television. Between stress and grief, as well as pride and determination, only one thing is certain—the heat between Beau and Jake extends well beyond the kitchen.

Okay, now this is so the kind of story that makes me happy. Enemies to friends to lovers with unrequited love just warms my heart and that is what Striking Sparks has to offer.

You don’t have to be friends to feel sparks...
Jake Parnell is one hell of a good guy. He has come back to Buffalo Lick, Texas after leaving 10 years ago to pursue an education and a life in Southern California. He’s done well finding a teaching job at a private school he loves while going for his doctorate. When the unthinkable happens, when his twin Josh - who stayed in their home town to run the family business, Parnell’s Pantry and who was married with 2.5 kids - gets in a car accident and dies, Jake returns home to do the honorable thing and help everyone out.

But Jake, while he was comfortable in California, he has reasons for not welcoming his own homecoming because he is not out in Texas. The only people that know Jake is gay is his immediate family and Beau Walker, his high school rival and the boy he crushed on for far too long. A crush really, that is so deep rooted, you might mistake it for disdain. A disdain that needs an overhaul because Jake finds out Josh was signed up to do a reality show with the Pantry againsy Beau’s Barbeque Shack and well that just means the two rivals are gonna be all up in each other’s spaces for some time.

It was strange that it had taken Beau Walker, of all people, to provoke a positive change before Jake burned himself out completely.

GAH! I really liked both Jake and Beau upon first meeting. I loved that they still fancy one another but neither of them wants to do anything about it. Well, they would if they could leave the past in the past and truly see the men they have become. The story Trisha tells Beau about Jake and prom made me so happy and then his flashback to the realization both he and Jake had was bitter sweet. But Beau, he is one hell of a good guy as well and he is there for Jake when he needs it, even if Jake swears he doesn’t.

Maybe if you kick my ass in the final round, you can spank it afterward.

The setting of the Gourmet Network barbecue cook-off, hosted by Chef Shane Brody and assisted by his husband Richard, was great to show off just who Jake and Beau are now. Jake’s confidence in his cooking was boosted by the attention of Chef Shane and Richard is just the person Jake needs to give him confidence in being who he is along with the rumor mill of the townsfolk in Buffalo Lick. The men, need a chance to really get to know one another and the competition gives them the ability. I have to say, when both Jake and Beau let down their guards and decide to try each other out, they get damn adorable and their flirting was a blast to read.

The relationship moves a bit quick but not so much if you consider they have known one another since high school and the hidden feelings they had haven’t gone away. They are just waiting for a chance, the change of heart to appear so they can move forward with what they really want and what they really want is one another. And really, they have waited long enough.

God, I feel like I’ve wanted you my whole life. You wouldn’t believe the crazy daydreams I came up with as a teenager about how it would be with you.

The supporting characters of the Parnells, the Walkers and the people running the show were all great additions to the story. I loved how Jake thought he had folks fooled but even his mama knew the truth and Beau’s family are so willing to help out when folks need it they melted my heart. Lexy was a strong woman, mother, sister in law and supporter of Jake’s happiness that I couldn’t help but like her and grieve for her as a widow. Really, everything in this made for a lovey read.

I have a tendency to ramble when it comes to this series because it’s so damn good and just the right amount of romance I crave. It’s perfect, it’s sexy, it’s funny at times with riding the line of cheesy but when you’re in love; you get to be silly with the one person that accepts you completely. Am I right?

Striking Sparks was my first book from this writing pair and it won't be my last. If they can make this vegan smile while reading about flesh cooking on grills, they’ve won me over. Jake and Beau were a wonderful couple and I am all for them not wasting any more of the time they have with one another.

Find on Dreamspinner Press or Goodreads!

Review: Midnight Chat by Jo Ramsey

For the past two years, since meeting in ninth grade, Mira MacDonald and Rob Stevens have been inseparable best friends. Rob’s struggles with depression, and his reliance on Mira, sometimes make the friendship difficult for Mira, but she wants to support Rob. Especially since he’s the victim of severe bullying at school due to his sexuality. Even though Rob isn’t out, he is gay, and the suspicion is enough for some people to torment him.

Now Mira has her first girlfriend, Talia Acevedo, and Rob’s jealousy is becoming even more of a problem. Rob insists that Talia doesn’t like him and is trying to break up their friendship. Mira tries to stay neutral, but it isn’t easy when Rob’s obsession with her escalates—along with his anger as the harassment gets worse.

One night, during one of their typical midnight text sessions, Rob tells Mira he’s decided to take drastic action at school to stop the bullying once and for all. And if she tries to stop him or tells anyone else, she’ll be first on his target list.

This story made me feel really uncomfortable, in a way that opened me up to self-analysis and critical thought.

Mira is in a really tough position. Fifteen, with a friend who requires a lot of attention and care, Mira is trying to be loyal, but the things Rob is saying to her are scary. She’s not sure how to handle it, and also fears that Rob will feel betrayed if she asks for help, even though he needs more help than Mira can provide.

This is one of those stories that really shines a light on the reality of school bullying and teens with mental illness. Whether it is overcrowding, underfunding, or misunderstanding, the sorts of things that happen in this story are seen across the world in schools. News articles, activism, and parent groups all over find the system, and social norms, impossible to navigate when bullying gets to this point. It’s a lose-lose situation, and it’s one of the things most parents I know, fear when having children.

This story was raw, and powerful, in the way the author spared no quarter with displaying bullying. It is something I’m sure the majority of people have experienced, seen, or heard about. The outcome can be tragic, and cause generational damage. All these messages came across in this story.

Mira is in the most impossible situation, and I really felt her pain, fear, and frustration. Her ability as a child to be heard, for the sake of her friend, shines a glaring light on how children and teens are perceived in our society. While this is set in America, this is also a global problem. Dismissing children as exaggerators, hysterical, or troublemakers instead of listening first, is one of the biggest problems I see when my own teens try to express something that is bothering them.

Rob’s homelife is a continuation of his life at school. He feels trapped, and bullied by his parents. His perceived sexuality is associated with his manliness, or lack thereof, by his father, he is told he should just stick up for himself, and “be a man”. This was the most difficult part of the story for me. This lose-lose battle, where children who are bullied are told to stick up for themselves, and then end up in trouble with everyone as a result, victims of more severe bullying, or emasculated due to their innate nature of pacifism. They feel so hopelessly trapped that there is no winning. Children lose their lives because adults cannot accept what is right in front of them, or do not have the tools or support to navigate this type of situation. All throughout the story, I was frustrated along side Mira. I was torn in two by the scenes in the story. We have international events and programs dedicated to anti-bullying, but on a local, individual level, the system fails. Heartbreaking, and soul destroying, this story had me analysing my own worldviews, and how fragile mental health can be in adolescents who face this type of ostracism.

I also battled with my feelings on whether I want my children to read a story like this. I tried to think of the types of stories I was reading when I was a teen. What was the earliest I read something as complex as this? The conclusion I came to was, yes, they are old enough. They are old enough to know how to be an advocate for themselves and their friends, with the support of adults. They are old enough to speak up, and speak out. My teens are thirteen and fourteen. They are as different as night and day, and most times I worry more about one, than the other. I worry about secrets, and bullying, and whether I need to act. I worry that if something were to happen to one of them, would they tell me, and whether I could successfully advocate for them, without overtaking their own needs for self-advocacy. I worry constantly about whether or not I would know that this was happening. And I worry about how the men in my family view “being a man” and “fighting back” and whether that would impact how they advocated for my children. If I am worried about these things, then I accept that they are participating in a culture that produces bullying, and therefore they are old enough to read something that resonates with the reality of that culture.

Mira is also trying to navigate her own sexuality, and first relationship, while trying to support her friend. It is draining, and I felt her exhaustion. Being split between being a friend to Rob, who needs her, with her new relationship with Talia strains her to her emotional limit.

The importance of being there for those who need her overtakes her own needs for self-care. I think this is a golden message for teens (and adults) about boundaries and being well enough to clearly assist someone else. It also facilitates that really important conversation of when something is beyond your ability to manage, and when to seek outside help. This is something that plagues Mira, and freezes her in an unhealthy situation.

I loved the complexity of relationships in this story. I thought the character building was good. I connected with Mira and felt all her feelings with her. I also empathised with Rob’s struggle, and how his lack of support from those with authority, along with his mental illness, created a pretty toxic situation for both Rob, and Mira.

Being YA I would first recommend a parent reading this before deciding whether their child is ready. I think this would be an excellent book for parents and teens to read together. This is something that could be used as a communication tool. It’s not perfect in execution, but it is definitely a story that is powerful in it’s delivery. It is hard to read, there will be a lot of tears, but it is important on many different levels.

A well rounded read, with some pretty heavy content. I would recommend it to all, but check in with your own mental well-being before diving into this.

A Review copy was provided for an honest opinion

Find on Harmony Ink Press or Goodreads!

Don't miss today's Midnight Chat tour stop here!

Blog Tour: Midnight Chat by Jo Ramsey

Jo Ramsey is here today to promote her new release, Midnight Chat. See our review here!

Best Intentions

There’s an old saying, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” I’m not sure how true that is, but sometimes the best of intentions can definitely go wrong.

That can be especially true if you’re trying to do something for someone else. You might believe you know what’s best for them, or what they want or need, but you aren’t necessarily correct. If you haven’t asked them, you don’t really know. You’re just guessing, and that might lead to hurt feelings or even to the end of a friendship if you’re wrong.

At the same time, it isn’t always easy to ask someone how you can help them. If you suspect that they don’t believe they need help, or might be offended by you asking, you might consider it better to simply do what you think is right for them. Another old saying: “It’s better to ask forgiveness than permission.”

But when it comes to intervening in someone else’s life, that quote doesn’t always hold true. People sometimes don’t take well to having someone else interfering. They might be handling things just fine on their own. Or maybe they don’t think there’s anything they need to handle. Even if you disagree, it’s their choice how to live their life, unless someone is actually in danger.

That’s when good intentions can become a bit blurred. If you know a friend is being harmed or might be, or they are harming or might harm someone else, you absolutely want to step in to help. And in those cases, you might not be able to ask whether they need help or what you can do for them. You might have to just step in and do what you can, even if it does mean losing a friend.

In my novel Midnight Chat, that’s a dilemma facing main character Mira MacDonald. Her best friend Rob Stevens is obviously struggling. He’s badly bullied, he’s showing signs of depression, and he’s made comments to Mira that imply he’s considering drastic action to change things. She doesn’t know whether she can help in any way other than continuing to listen to him, and she isn’t sure going behind his back is a good idea.

Her girlfriend Talia, though, completely believes that going behind Rob’s back to get help for him is the right thing to do. When Mira disagrees with Talia’s plan to talk to the school counselor without first consulting Rob, Talia goes anyway. Rob blames Mira and the friendship almost ends; Mira is furious with Talia and breaks up with her.

Did Talia do the right thing? That’s open for debate. And you can find out in the book how things turn out.


For the past two years, since meeting in ninth grade, Mira MacDonald and Rob Stevens have been inseparable best friends. Rob’s struggles with depression, and his reliance on Mira, sometimes make the friendship difficult for Mira, but she wants to support Rob. Especially since he’s the victim of severe bullying at school due to his sexuality. Even though Rob isn’t out, he is gay, and the suspicion is enough for some people to torment him.

Now Mira has her first girlfriend, Talia Acevedo, and Rob’s jealousy is becoming even more of a problem. Rob insists that Talia doesn’t like him and is trying to break up their friendship. Mira tries to stay neutral, but it isn’t easy when Rob’s obsession with her escalates—along with his anger as the harassment gets worse.

One night, during one of their typical midnight text sessions, Rob tells Mira he’s decided to take drastic action at school to stop the bullying once and for all. And if she tries to stop him or tells anyone else, she’ll be first on his target list.

Cover Artist: Aaron Anderson

Midnight Chat is available from Harmony Ink Press,

Author info

Find out more about Jo Ramsey and her books on her website,; her Facebook page; her Twitter,; Tumblr,; and the Real Life Rising YouTube channel

Review: Shifting Views (The Carlisles #4) by Meg Harding

Successful fashion model Denver Carlisle is finally living on his own. He’s got a new apartment, a neighbor who has a problem shutting his blinds, and a local bakery with an owner who makes his knees weak. It’s raining men, and Denver hasn’t gotten any in a long time. Going out on a limb, he asks Ethan Monahan out and resorts to a little exhibitionism for his neighbor. Only to be turned down by both. That’s a first. 

Ethan Monahan runs his own bakery and has a new neighbor who walks around naked. The latter is a little too distracting. When his naked neighbor turns out to be none other than model Denver Carlisle—and the customer who asked him out—Ethan tries to make amends. In a purely friendly way. 

Friendship leads to more, and both men find themselves in over their heads with emotions and compromises. Denver has trust issues that could span the Sahara, and Ethan is a product of the foster system with a chip on his shoulder and a serious wariness of those with money. There’s only one way to reconcile their issues: work together.

This SO worked for me! Dinner For One is still my fave of this series, but this is a close second. Admittedly, it checked several of my favorite boxes:

√ Begging
√ Crying ~ from being wrecked not the hurt feels kind
√ Spanking
√ Feeding
√ Couple toys thrown in for good measure
√ Orgasm denial
√ Precoming cocks that drool like faucets
√ Bossy top
√ Baker

Which one of these... awwwwwww... look at their faces!!!!!!!
Wut? I like culinarily inclined MCs! It's one of my jams. I particularly like a baker or chef that turns into Toppy McTopperscones in the bedroom. Honestly, I was surprised by it so that may have made it better. On second thought... Nah. Harding knows her way around a sex scene and even though they are infrequent in this tale they still managed to leave me in a puddle.

Denver is the lone singleton Carlisle and he's got a bad case of the sadz about it too. So he buys himself a new apartment/condo and promptly discovers he's got a hot as fire neighbor who seems to be naked frequently. What better way to get naked neighbor's attention than by joining naked neighbor in the nakedness, right?

Yeah, no.

Never fear! The fates intervene and Denver discovers his favorite place in his new neighborhood is a place called Monahan Bakery. SQUIRREL! Denver's got a GINORMOUS sweet tooth. Listening to him order food had my eyebrows rising multiple times. I think he must have a hollow leg or something. 

Anywho! Guess who owns the bakery? They meet and there's a sizzle but figuring out how to insert part D into slot A proves a bit of a challenge, so they try the friends thing. And then things got awkward. I wouldn't recommend this to those who get impatient with awkward characters. I, personally, thought it was cute. They're both introverted, fail at small talk and keeping a conversation going... forget it, thus Denver often enlists his numerous siblings to be his wingman.

Ethan has a difficult past and no family, so Denver's large and boisterous clan is a bit overwhelming. He still struggles with trusting other people, but he's pulled himself up by his boot straps and made himself into a business owner which proves to me he can do anything he sets his mind to. With the right incentive. Bubble butted models with sweet toothes can make for one helluva incentive. However, he's busy all the time with the bakery which led to some of the cutest scenes of him trying to figure out how to make room for Denver in his life. Cole and Casey are keepers and just as instrumental in facilitating Ethan's growth as Denver and the Carlisles.

I loved that we got both of their perspectives to really see how they felt about each other. They have their hurdles which I usually snickered through how blunt they were with each other; it's a little like word vomity but it gets the job done. I appreciate MCs that can talk to each other like adults about their disagreements or misunderstandings instead of jumping to conclusions. Ethan and Denver's blips never felt overwrought. 

I also really loved the epilogue and catching up with all the Carlisles. Shifting Views is a strong finish to the series. I'd recommend this to anyone who likes feel good reads with likable MCs who aren't given to dramatics.

I'll miss you, Carlisles. 


A review copy was provided.

Find out more on Goodreads & Dreamspinner Press.

Review: Saving Jason by KC Wells

When David Merrow is given the task of finding a suitable soup kitchen so his company can improve their PR, he realizes he needs help. He turns to Jason Garton, the owner of the coffee house that David visits every morning. Funny how it took David so long to notice all the food and beverages Jason gives away to the homeless. Because until then, Jason had been almost invisible.

But the more David learns about him, the more intrigued he becomes. There’s something about the selfless, lonely older man that pulls David in, and what began as work becomes so much more.

This is a sweet story, it's a slow burn love story set (mostly) in the season of goodwill amongst men. In fact it is the goodwill bit that gets David and Jason talking properly, When David finally notices Jason and the good deeds he does he becomes, at first, intrigued then he starts to fall in love.

There was lots to enjoy about this story; the May/December romance, the warmth, goodness and generosity of Jason that spreads to David giving him a new purpose in his life, the backdrop of the city in winter. 

This is a curl up on a cold day read. One for when some sweetness and goodwill are needed in a read instead of angst and heartache. Some of the subject matter is beyond sad, but the tone of the story is one of warmth and caring. It is a book to be enjoyed for its romantic storyline between two deserving characters. The front cover perfectly captures the feel of this story for me, an overall feeling of warmth and love. 

A great little Christmas story, to be enjoyed anytime of the year - but especially in the greyness of late winter when the glitz and sparkle of the festive season seems so long ago.
A copy of this book was given in exchange for an honest review.
For more information see Goodreads.

Giveaway + Blog Tour: Working It (Ringside Romance #1) by Christine d'Abo

We welcome Christine d'Abo today to talk about her newest release.

Don't miss out on an opportunity to win a $25 Riptide Credit below either!

Thank you for having me here today. I’m so happy to be able to talk to you about my new book, WORKING IT, which is book one in my new Ringside Romance series. Don’t let the series title fool you, this is low on the boxing and high on sexual tension.

As an avid reader of all things romance, I personally love it when authors take chances and play around with what we consider typical romance tropes. Those situations that for whatever reason, really work for us as lovers of romance. One of my personal favorite tropes is the whole boss-assistant dynamic. There’s something wonderful about the tension that can be created when two people are working together, under pressure and in close quarters, that appeals to me.

I wanted to take this trope and do something a little fun with it. What would happen if both the characters were gay? What if they were so vastly different that under any other circumstance they probably never meet, let alone fall in love? What if they worked day in and day out in an office together?

In WORKING IT, Nolan Carmichael is working through the trauma of a serious car accident. He gets a job as Zack Anderson’s executive assistant, a position that no one at the company wants. Somehow the two of them work through their differences and fall in love.

I hope you’ll come along for the ride.

You can visit Christine at her website, and chat with her on Facebook and Twitter. Want to keep up with Christine’s new releases? Sign up for her newsletter and receive a free book!

About Working It

Nolan Carmichael is getting a fresh start—new career, new company, new life. The only problem is, he liked his old life just fine . . . until an accident robbed him of his health, his job, his self-confidence, and his ability to go out in public without having anxiety attacks.

Zack Anderson has scared away his last four executive assistants. So when he hires Nolan on a whim, he’s not too worried, since Nolan will be gone within the week anyway. Two weeks later, Nolan has made himself indispensable, completely reforming Zack’s schedule, life . . . and libido.

But in a company already torn by internal politics, one wrong step could ruin both their careers. And not only are they working to reopen Ringside Gym, Zack’s retreat when he was a troubled teen, but they also can’t help themselves falling for each other. If only the rest of their lives could go as smoothly as things do when they’re alone together.

Now available from Riptide Publishing.

About Christine d’Abo

A romance novelist and short story writer, Christine has over thirty publications to her name. She loves to exercise and stops writing just long enough to keep her body in motion too. When she’s not pretending to be a ninja in her basement, she’s most likely spending time with her family and two dogs.

Connect with Christine:

To celebrate the release of Working It, one lucky winner will receive a $25 Riptide Publishing credit! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on February 11, 2017. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!

Review: Bullet (Blue Boy #1) by Garrett Leigh

Levi Ramone entered the gay porn market for one reason, and one reason only–he needed the cash to pay his momma's spiraling gambling debts.

Seven years later, he's a veteran with a reputation as one of Blue Boy Studio's most ruthless tops, and when his boss suggests it's time for a change, he finds himself staring down the barrel of a gun. Figuratively speaking, at least.

Enter Sonny Valentine, a go-go dancer at Blue's sister club, Silver's. Levi has secretly admired Sonny from afar for years, but there's one problem–he can't stand Sonny and the feeling is entirely mutual. When Levi learns Sonny is to play the third part in a scene he considers his worst nightmare, he figures things can't get any worse.

But when preparations for the scene from hell collide with tragic events in his personal life, he finds his fast growing, red hot attraction to Sonny the one thing left between him and a bullet.

Always fashionably late to the party...

Look at the table setting at the Blue Boy party!
I think I might one of the few stragglers who hasn't read Bullet. This is also my second Garrett Leigh. Can I still visit the party with my low Leigh credentials? I promise after reading the re-release version of Bullet...I'll make more an effort to read her work.

The novella stars seasoned porn actor Levi Ramone is a well known top in the industry. Ripped, bearded and rough, Levi is a lumbersexual wet dream. (Oh the new cover fits him, does it not?)Does he enjoy his job? In a way, yes. He gets all the ass he wants and doesn't have to worry about commitments. But...he's virtually alone. His father committed suicide and his mother is an alcoholic with a grudge against her son, Levi doesn't have really close connections. The majority of his money is pay for his mother's bills despite her animosity towards him. He's desperate for cash to help.

It's a sad existence.

Enter the "bitchy twink" (in Levi's eyes) Sonny, a fellow Blue Boy porn actor who also works at the pron studio's go-go club as a dancer/stripper. Sonny sees there is more than meets the eye to Levi. He calls Levi out for not being into his porn scenes, being too aggressive and not considerate. When Sonny and Levi's boss offers more money to star in a threesome, Levi accepts. Even though Sonny gets under his skin and the fact that he'll have to lost his butt cherry.

That setup though...

"Dude, you don't want to go there for the first time without a good lead off. Do you want me to suck you off?"
"What? No!"
"You're kinda coy for a hard-core porn star. It's cute."

Sonny picks through the wall Levi builds around himself. He also helps Levi discover the untapped pleasures...below. As the upcoming bottoming scene looms as the novella progresses, there is also Levi's broken home/ dealing with a harridan of an alcoholic mother.

Now I thought it might've went one way with the mother, I was not expecting some of the resulting blows from that front. Or bottom assistance/prep/seduction

Though Sonny is helping his future scene actor out, there seems to be an underlying current of care...along with the obvious attraction between both men. Also for a book about porn, it's not as sex filled as you might think. I'm still new to Leigh's writing style, but methinks angst is her forte, yes? There was definitely a decent amount of emotions from Sonny to help carry this novella along, along with the obvious courting via anal play.

When Sonny and Levi finally culminate the obvious courting...the book ends!

Where is the rest of the story? I had to stop myself from shaking my Kindle upside down. There is no way Levi and Sonny just ends the relationship like that.


*listens to the squawking from the party*

There's follow up in the rest of the series? Is that so?

Well, hell looks like I need to rest of this series! I'm so curious to see what happens with the other characters. And Sonny and Levi of course...there's a hint of unresolved drug abuse somewhere along the line.

I'm invested.

Gonna see if I can get my Garrett Leigh dance card filled out now that I've joined the party:

I enjoy what I've read so far.

Recommended for readers who like some angst, some sexy and characters that have some baggage too.

Find on Goodreads!

Review: A Boy Named Khwahish by Dee Aditya

The last year of school was supposed to be a stressful mess, but Sathya never expected it would get this stressful or this messy. He’s pissed off with his parents, his best friend is convinced something is wrong with him, and there’s a new guy with a pretty face and dazzling eyes, and Sathya just can’t seem to ignore him.

Or rather, Sathya doesn’t want to ignore him.

* * * * *

Part of Take a Chance Anthology.

When I read the blurb for this I knew it would be super cute and it was. This was my first story set in a South Indian boarding school and I can tell you what a pleasure it was to spend time with young men and women this way.
Have you, um, ever met a person who makes you feel great just being with them, and you like to make them happy? Like a really good friend, but…more.
Told from the POV of Sathya we join him as he is entering Class 12 at school. We know he has been named head of Lotus House (a big responsibility), has a best friend named Prithvi and has a complicated relationship with his friend who is a girl, Ashwini. During class, when a new boy is introduced form Kashmir and Sathya is asked to switch seats with him, he gets lost in the hazel eyes of Khwahish and well, gets lost.
The crush is a slow burn for Sathya and he learns a lot about Khwahish when Prithvi decides to take him under his wing and show him around school. Sathya starts to really like Khwahish and when they are both at school over the break, a chat on the stairs over art leads him to acknowledge the crush, at least to himself.
It was sad to know how Sathya’s parents treated him and why he would rather stay at school than go home during vacations. But when he tells his best friend the reason, it was so sweet to get Prithvi’s reaction. The boys have a wonderful friendship that is only strengthened by not only the years they have been friends but the respect they give one another. It was a nice way for Sathya to acknowledge his sexuality to his best friend and then questioned/teased about Khwahish.
And then we get the moment I had been waiting for, when Sathya tells Khwahish he has a crush on “someone” and wonders… ACK! I won’t go into more because it was an adorable moment that led to a very strong HFN.
For a short story, this was sweet and truly adorable. I tend to have soft spot for the YA stories and this tale of Sathya finding his voice within his sexuality is exactly why I love them. 

Find on Goodreads!

Blog Tour: Flag on the Play by Sherrie Henry

Sherrie Henry is here today talking football and her latest release, Flag on the Play. Be sure to check out the excerpt below!

We’ve made it to stop five on my blog tour to promote my newest release, “Flag on the Play.” Thank you to Boy Meets Boy for having me!

As I’m writing this, the Super Bowl is happening, the penultimate football game of the year. I’ve always been a big football fan, thus my MCs in ‘Flag on the Play,’ Liam and Cody, are football players.

It’s been a few years since the sensation of the NFL’s first openly gay player, Michael Sam, gained fame on the world stage. Unfortunately, I think the notoriety of his sexual preference did him in, as a scant three years later, he’s no longer even playing football. I just have to wonder why his sexual preference had to be such a big deal in the first place. Did it hinder his ability to play football? Um, no. But his ‘coming out’ made news, made him a celebrity whether he liked it or not, and eventually, that aspect of his life overwhelmed his football accomplishments.

I’d love to live in a world where you are judged by your triumphs and successes, not the color of your skin, the gods you worship, or who you want to have a relationship with. I long for a day where no one has to ‘come out,’ where love is love. In my story, the coming out is almost brutal, with emotions running high and at least one punch is thrown; per my research, sometimes this is the outcome for teens trying to express themselves in small-town America.

I included some help line numbers in my introduction to the book; if anyone out there needs someone to talk to, please take advantage of those numbers. As the PSAs say, Life, it gets better.


Sherrie was born and raised in Southern Indiana, in a small farming community. A stop-over at Indiana University in Bloomington to earn bachelors and masters degrees was the next step before she struck out to the big city of Chicago. She has lived in the ‘burbs of the Windy City for the past 19 years, currently residing with her dog Rocky and teaching at the local community college. She is a third-degree black belt in hapkido and is considering a run for a fourth-degree before hanging up the ol’ black belt. Writing and photography are her hobbies, and hopes that she can add travel to her hobbies soon.



Liam Hartley has just turned sixteen and is struggling with his sexual orientation. He meets Cody Williams, a bisexual transfer student, and Cody shows him that what he feels is normal, but they agree to keep their budding relationship under wraps due to the extreme homophobia throughout the conservative small town. They find their own little hideaway where they can intimately explore each other.

Cody hides their relationship by platonically dating a cheerleader, much to Liam’s dismay. The jealousy, secrets, and stress of dealing with hateful messages coming from religious bigots push Liam to the breaking point, and he turns to cutting himself. Things go from bad to worse when the rest of the school finds out Liam and Cody are more than friends. Even if they can get through this difficult time, Cody’s family will soon be moving back to the city, and Liam knows his chances of standing alone against the rest of the town aren’t good.

Though there might be a glimmer of hope in Liam’s future, he’ll have to travel a dark road to reach it.

Cover Artist: Alexandria Corza

DSP Sales Link


Liam lingered over his pot roast, trying to find a segue into the family conversation that would lead him to asking about staying at Cody’s. It had rained most of the day on and off. The humidity in the air and the pastor’s droning on and on had made it hard for Liam to pay attention during the sermon. His mind kept wandering to the night before and just as his memory would play the kiss, he’d remember where he was and his cheeks would burn.

He had questioned himself all during the sermon, all during lunch. Was he going to hell for what he felt? Should he even consider being with Cody, though, by the nature of their sleepy little town, it would be a fairly platonic relationship? Or could he see himself becoming more with Cody, going beyond kissing? His mind tumbled over and over until he wasn’t certain which direction was up. But all that changed when he logged into his computer that afternoon and found Cody had left him a message. Just a little note saying he hoped Liam had a good day and he missed talking to him. Nothing overt, nothing sexual, nothing that could be construed beyond a friend talking to a friend. But it meant the world to Liam, and he made up his mind. While he wouldn’t fully come out of the closet, he wasn’t going to deny himself his feelings.

Now he was hoping to find a way to spend time with Cody without bringing any suspicion on either of them. He jabbed at a piece of carrot while listening to his parents discuss the new mall going in on the outside of town.

“There’s talk of putting in a theater.”

Liam looked over at his mother. “Really?”

“That’s what I heard. Six screens. And they want to sponsor some oldie nights. Show some musicals and older classics. What I wouldn’t give to see Brigadoon on the big screen.”

“I swear, if Gene Kelly was still alive, I’d have some stiff competition.” Liam’s dad gave his mom a smile.

“You’re absolutely right. They don’t make ’em like that anymore. He was so debonair, classy.” She reached over and gave Steven’s hand a squeeze. “But don’t worry, you are just like him.”

Liam rolled his eyes. He’d heard all about his mother’s crush on Gene Kelly since he was a toddler. They’d sit and watch all his musicals in the afternoons before his dad got home from work. Liam could pretty much recite every one of them by heart.

“So, Liam, what do you think about the mall? Gonna be a place for you and your friends to hang out?” His mom took another roll from the basket.

“If there’s a comic book store, for sure.”

“I’ll never understand what you see in those comic books. Too much violence in my opinion.”

“I had comics as a kid. I don’t see any harm in them, sweetheart. Besides, we’ve raised a thoughtful, respectable boy who doesn’t have a violent bone in his body. Well, except when it comes to football, right, son?”

Liam looked over to his dad. “I’m only a punter. I don’t get to do much tackling.”

“All the more reason we shouldn’t worry about your comic book reading. I don’t think they’ve influenced you in the least.”

“I still don’t like them.” Liam’s mom got up and collected some dishes off the table.

“I don’t think they’re marketed toward girls, dear.”

“Actually, some are. And some of the artists are girls too. I think the industry’s evolving.” Liam slid his plate over to his mother.

“Where did you hear that?” His mom put the dishes in the sink.

“My friend, Cody. You know, the one who stayed over a couple weeks ago?” Liam was grateful he could swing the conversation over to Cody.

“Oh yes, the one with the weird hair. Seems like a nice young man, regardless. Although—” Sarah started scraping the remnants of food off the plates. “You know, his family never comes to church. And I haven’t heard of them going to the Methodist church either.”

Liam shrugged. “Maybe they’re a denomination that we don’t have here. They’re only here for a few months. Maybe they didn’t want to get too attached to a new church.” His heart started beating faster. He knew if they ever hooked him up to a lie detector, he’d be found guilty as charged.

“Perhaps.” Liam’s dad picked up the last two plates and set them on the counter. “I’m heading to watch the late game. Anyone want to join me?” He gave Sarah a peck on the cheek.

“I’ll be in right after I put the dishes in the dishwasher.” She patted Steven’s face.

Liam looked over to his father. “Um, can I ask something before you go?”

“Of course.”

“Cody’s having a little get-together, watching a bunch of movies all night. Next Friday. He invited me. Can I go?”

Liam’s dad raised an eyebrow. “Movies?”

“He said they were all PG or PG-13. No adult stuff. And his parents would be there, of course.” Liam’s words came out fast.

“What do you think, Sarah?”

Liam’s mom pursed her lips for a moment. “Well, as long as you swear the movies aren’t violent or contain sex, I don’t see why not. You hosted him a couple weeks ago. I don’t see the harm in him reciprocating.” She sat down next to Liam. “But I want you to promise to call us as soon as any drinking or drugs come out.”

“Mom! His family is not like that.”

Sarah raised an eyebrow. “How do you know? Maybe I should meet them first.”

All sorts of scenarios ran through Liam’s head. What if Cody’s mom wore a pentagram or didn’t wear a bra? Or Cody’s dad started in on religion, or politics? “Is that necessary?”

“I agree with your mother. We should meet them first. Now that I think about it, his parents let him stay here without meeting us. What kind of parent does that?”

“Cody is seventeen. Maybe they are a little looser with him as he’s almost an adult. He has his own car and driver’s license.”

Liam’s mom nodded. “Perhaps. But I still want to meet them before I agree. I’m not saying no, I just want to make sure my baby, ahem, my very grown-up son is going to be okay at their place. Can you get me their phone number?”

“Yes, I’ll text Cody for it.”

Liam’s dad leaned against a chair. “I remember the days when a family had one telephone number and the phone was in the kitchen.”

“Yes, dear, and you hiked two miles uphill in the snow both ways to school.”

Steven leaned over and gave Sarah a kiss. “So you’ve heard the story?”

Sarah rolled her eyes. “Too many times. Now both of you, shoo. I’m going to finish the dishes.”

Audiobook Review: Power Play (Scoring Chances #3) by Avon Gale

A freak accident during the Stanley Cup Playoffs put an end to Max Ashford’s hockey career. Despite everything, Max gets back into the game he loves—only this time, behind the bench as an assistant coach of the Spartanburg Spitfires, the worst team in the entire league. But nothing prepares him for the shock when he learns the new head coach is Misha Samarin, the man who caused Max’s accident.

After spending years guilt ridden for his part in Max’s accident, Russian native Misha Samarin has no idea what to do when he’s confronted with Max’s presence. Max’s optimism plays havoc with Misha’s equilibrium—as does the fierce attraction that springs up between them.

Not only must they navigate Misha’s remorse and a past he’s spent a lifetime trying to forget, but also a sleazy GM who is determined to use their history as a marketing hook. But when an unwelcome visitor targets a player, Misha revisits his darkest days, and that might cost him and Max the beginning they’ve worked so hard to build.

Listening Length: 6 hours and 22 minutes
Narrated by Scott R. Smith

I'm still very new to the audiobook thing. This is only my second one, so I'm still sussing out what I like and don't like. Scott R. Smith showed me that I like the narrator to get into it. Act all the parts out and entertain me. I found myself snortling and chuckling at not just the dialogue but how he threw himself into these characters.

His Belsey had me in stitches and I didn't even like that guy when I first read this, but Smith's impersonation of him was reminiscent of one of the T-Birds!

How can you hate that guy? Answer: I don't! I even found myself being a little charmed by his bluntness and audacity. I mean, he's still skeevy AF but no one can say he doesn't call 'em like he sees 'em and I respect the hell out of that.

I also wasn't the biggest fan of Max the first time around. I didn't hate him or anything but I was definitely on the meh side of Max Ashford. Guess what? Smith must be some kind of verbal magician because Max's earnestness came through in such a way that I actually found myself feeling badly that I'd misjudged him. I'd be happy to send a let's make up fruit basket if that'll soothe any butthurtedness, and by "fruit basket" I mean an assortment of flavored lubes and cookies, because who doesn't like cookies?

But Misha is what brought this girl to the table and Smith delivered on those goods. Damn, I heart the becheezus out of that Russian! Smith brought him to life from his dryness to his sexy toppy bedroom sweet nothings to his confusion over crazy American slang.

I loved it so much I wish there had been more dialogue because I could listen to Smith's Misha until... forever. These were good to great characters who engaged in funny and at times heartfelt conversations and that's Gale's craftwork. Smith just electrified them with his performance.

Ok, clearly I've seen Grease one too many times. Recommend to audiobook fans far and wide as this could be listened to as a standalone.

A review copy was provided.

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