Smoking hot return to Metropolis

Working It (Metropolis Book 2)Working It by Riley Hart

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Hot, hot, hot, this book is explosive. In Working It Devon and Riley take the reader back to their skyscraper of ridiculously hot men with a beautifully paced story of friends with benefits turning into something much stronger.

I loved book one but this one is even better as I found Hayden and Cody’s relationship a bit less stressy and a lot more of a gentle slide into romance – with the added benefit of some incendiary sexy times. There’s a lot of humour in this one too, the guys laugh a lot together and there’s not as much angsty or dramatic moments.

Hayden was a nicely constructed character, I liked that he wasn’t sure where his life was going and how he was trying to find a new one after breaking up with his ex.
Cody also could have been a one note character, fixated on his pained upbringing, but instead the authors made him an optimistic and encouraging friend to Hayden.

I loved reading their relationship grow slowly as they figured out that the friends with benefits option of their relationship wasn’t enough anymore. Oh and the scene with Finn, make sure you’ve got a) a fan and b) a towel to hand when reading that one. Methinks that sailor boy needs his own story. It’s not easy to write something generally considered “porny” without making it porn but in the hands of these two authors it felt perfectly placed and constructed within the narrative.

The epilogue was all ends up sweet as well. Now we wait for Derek’s story and I’m intrigued as to see how Devon and Riley handle him and stop him from becoming too full on annoying.

Oh, and that cover, where can I get one please?! That’s pretty much my dream guy.

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So good: Violent, dark, passionate, erotic, dangerous

Guns n' Boys: Bloodbath (Book 6) (gay dark mafia romance)Guns n’ Boys: Bloodbath (Book 6) by K.A. Merikan

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I keep running out of things to say about this series of books from K A Merikan but they are simply outstanding.

Seth and Dom are Butch & Sundance, Bonnie & Clyde, Harley Quinn & The Joker, all rolled into two deliciously dark and brutal Italian Mafioso packages.

There’s no glamour here, it’s harsh and vicious and cruel and unrepentant and it’s insanely erotic with heat levels approaching molten lava.

The boys world just keeps on getting more complicated and more twisted and I know Kat and Agnes have said they expect there to be 10 books in this series so I have to wonder just what else dangers and dramas they’re going to be put through.

And who is Diego, what’s Dana’s ultimate motivation, what’s Nero’s game and when’s Miguel finally gonna crack?! I cannot wait to find out.

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Superb start to new military series from Annabeth Albert

Off Base (Out of Uniform, #1)Off Base by Annabeth Albert

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I love military romances and I love Annabeth Albert so this was a marriage truly made in MM heaven for me.

How much did I want to just grab Zach and give him a massive hug?! The poor guy had so much shit to deal with and his fears about being gay felt so real, especially with the background Annabeth gave him. This book is not for the fainthearted with it’s continual insidious low levels of homophobia.

I honestly don’t think anyone who doesn’t identify as LGBTQ+ can truly understand, even if we can absolutely empathise and sympathise, just how damaging it can be when a percentage of the world thinks there’s something fundamentally wrong with you simply because of how and who you love.

This book takes the military, a hotbed of testosterone and masculinity, and focusses on what it’s like to be gay within those uniforms but it does it on a relatively low level, giving the reader insight into how things can still be a problem even with the repeal of DADT.

Zach is such a complex character, never one note but fully expressed as a young man proud of his service but also scared and bewildered at the hostility expressed against anyone who might possibly be gay by a minority of his team mates. The threat hanging over him from bullying draws him back to his confused youth with an older brother who behaved in the same way and parents who never stepped in the way.

Pike, by contrast, is out and proud but also scared to commit having been burnt once before by a “straight” guy who let him get too close and he desperately tries to just be friends with the taciturn Navy SEAL even though he’s attracted to him and his nature is to be a flirt. He senses how Zach is struggling and does his best to make it easier.

Their gradual slide through friendship into lovers is extremely well done, the tip off point resulting in an explosive encounter which leaves them both reeling. I loved every single bit of this book and never wanted it to stop and now I can’t wait to get to read the others.

Apollo is next and I’m sure hoping there’s a guy waiting to bring joy and sunshine back into his life following the death of his husband because who wouldn’t want the kick ass LT to be happy?!

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Regency spy romp with an Indian setting is enjoyable but nothing new

The Secret of the India Orchid (Proper Romance)The Secret of the India Orchid by Nancy Campbell Allen

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is a decent Regency tale spiced up with a bit of a spy mystery and set in the British Empire out in India, which added colour and flavour to the narrative.

Unfortunately, I’d spotted the villain as soon as he first appeared on the page but that didn’t spoil the enjoyment of the story and the way the plot followed through was well done and didn’t drag endlessly on.

The romance element of the book was also well crafted, with both Sophia and Anthony appearing as properly fleshed out characters. There has been, I believe, one book before this one with the same setting and characters but concerning Sophia’s brother Jack and his romance, which I hadn’t read but it didn’t interfere with my understanding of the relationships in this book.
There was a little exposition at the start and then the story set off on its own journey without a lot more and was allowed to show itself without needless telling.

I liked Sophia, she’s a slight variant on the usual Regency heroine but her personality was rounded and her actions believable. Anthony was more on the lines of the Napoleonic spy – an earl masquerading as a rake and wastrel – and, again, his actions felt true.

Overall I enjoyed this book but it’s nothing I’ve not read before within this genre so it didn’t stand out as being new or a novel concept.

#ARC received from the publishers via NetGalley in return for an unbiased review.

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Epic introduction chapter kicks off another brilliant story

Finding Hope (Finding Series, Book 5)Finding Hope by Sloane Kennedy

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I don’t think I’ve ever read an opening chapter that was at once both incendiary levels of hotness and intriguing enough to lay out the main narrative until this one.

Seriously, Sloane Kennedy is one of the finest writers of MMM I’ve ever read, she has a supreme talent for not only making them volcanic levels of sexual tension, but also deeply emotional and erotic where one of the three never feels like a spare wheel.

This book takes us back to Dare, where there’s an extended level of connection with both Ronan’s Protectors and the Barretti security guys, but which we’ve not had a story from for quite a while.

Beck, eldest adopted son of Cade and Rafe Barretti needs to get away from Seattle and so goes to spend the summer with Cade’s former military partner Jax and his husband Dane, where he’s going to work for Callan at his ranch.

Along the way he has an encounter in a club bathroom with not just one man but two, both of whom he never expects to meet again, which leaves him reeling from the intensity.

So he’s shocked into panic when he discovers the man who made him fly on emotions is Quinn, Callan’s right hand horse man. On his panicked flight from Quinn, he crashes his car and discovers the second of his bathroom partners is Brody, a paramedic.

Where the story goes from here is cleverly woven through the lives of both the close knit family in Dare but also ripples back to the extended Seattle crowd. Beck is drowning until the point at which he gives in and lets himself float with the support of Quinn and Brody.

Beautifully unravelled throughout the romance, we find each of the three has fears they have been struggling to live with but which they find a way of coping when they’re in the arms of the others.

No magic dick in this one either – yay thanks Sloane! – happiness is worked for, professional help is sought, and communication is had to make these three work at their relationship.

The scene where they exchange I love yous is beautifully crafted and feels truthful and well earned. I loved this book and was ridiculously happy when I saw it released early.

Now Sloane, bring out the next Protectors book early please!

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Brilliant idea, flawed execution sadly

Stolen Ink (Ink Born #1)Stolen Ink by Holly Evans

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I so, so badly wanted to give this book a higher rating but it was just too frustrating. When it started I was absolutely delighted and felt like I was stepping into a new world with its own rules where magic simply existed as a natural thing.

The idea of tattoo magic was brilliant, I could see them coming to life on the skins of the people visiting the tattoo parlour but then the story narrative went off sideways on a ranger that just never really felt earnt or properly explained.

Two many concepts were thrown into the story without any real level of depth or any sense of how they fit into the world.
The supposed romance element was almost non-existent, there was more chemistry between Dan and Ethan than with Dan and Isaiah imho and Caiden’s weird reaction to Dan’s friendship with his tattoo partner Kiern came totally out of left field.
Oh yeah on the romance front. Everything apart from kissing, as is sadly often the case in fantasy novels, happens off page. I’m not expecting erotica or porn without plot, I do, however, expect an author to give me something on page which demonstrates two characters are supposed to be in love.

As for the ending, well let’s just say that was a huge let down given everything that built up to it and as for being abrupt, if it had been any more instant cut off I’d have thrown my Kindle out the window.

There were also a few minor typos but as this an ARC they may get ironed out before publication. Because this is book one in a series, I’m hoping for a bit of better plotting and more exploration in the narrative as the series goes along.

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Five fat fairy tale stars

Beau and the BeastBeau and the Beast by Kay Simone

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I don’t know how Kay Simone does it but here, again, is an epic tale of love in unusual circumstances, totally different to each of her other novels but carried out with aplomb.

This is billed as a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, but it’s way more than that. Yes we have the ‘beast’ in Wolfram, yes we have the beauty in Beau, but this isn’t so much a tale of beauty saving the beast as of two souls finding their perfect other selves and of acceptance in a world of different.

The ending, and the novel way it deals with what usually happens in this fairy tale, is truly inspired, I didn’t see it coming and I hope readers of this book are able to discover it themselves without spoilers, believe me it’s worth it.

The world building is superb, the secondary characters are given the same depth of treatment as the two leads and Kay’s use of language is again beautiful.

And the sex scenes, let’s just say if anyone ever needs to know just how erotic lovemaking can be between a slight figure of a man and a seven foot furrred man with arm’s horns and a lion’s tail, this book proves beyond doubt that Non Human People can get it on with the best of them.
The sex is lovingly woven into the story as a part of the ever growing relationship between these two and never feels like it’s there simply for titillation.

The ending is perfect, the epilogue a glimpse into a future in which society embraces the differences instead of fearing them and that’s a world I’d love to live in.

Oh, and Noah and Lincoln were absolutely brilliant, such a riot and a pairing which, on the surface never should have worked, but in practice, absolutely did.

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