Tal turns his hand to college age sports and knocks it out of the park

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The Jock by Tal Bauer

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I don’t know how he does it but it seems whatever he turns his hand to, Tal Bauer can produce a masterpiece of emotional turmoil which just ticks all my boxes and makes me happily raging!

This book sees him visiting college with a new age (21) pairing who really shouldn’t, on paper, have anything in common to connect them, other than their sexuality.

But from the moment Wes and Justin meet in Paris (my absolute favourite city, so this was a joy!) it’s obvious there is the potential for something special.

The thing which struck me most about this book is just how nailed on Tal gives the reader the unbelievable – and quite wrong – amount of pressure Wes is under as a closeted American Football college star with NFL prospects.

His coach piles it on, not maliciously, but it makes him live his life hiding a huge part until Paris and Justin. For the first time Wes meets someone he’d be willing to give it all up for.

Their romance is beautiful in its simplicity and its honesty, they fall fast and hard for each other but they’re also aware of the wider repercussions. At first Wes is willing to stay in the closet, and Justin is willing to live in the shadows.

***SPOILER***

But after the Coach’s responsibility speech, Wes worries about the threat of turmoil, exposure and potential danger to Justin if he comes out and he ends things.

This part of the book broke my heart as each of them suffers from the pain of losing the person you know you want to spend the rest of your life with.

There’s all kinds of sorrow and it’s intrinsically entwined with Wes’ college team’s success on the field, they’re storming their championship and scouts are calling for more than just Wes when it all comes crashing down.

And, at this point, speaking as an ex-journalist, can I just say how much I utterly despise scandal sheet reporting.

***END***

I’ve said in the past how much Tal’s books make me go OMG, so while I was expecting this book would be no different, I have to say I wasn’t prepared for the gut punch I felt when that moment happened.

It’s brutal and, sadly, all too common still even in this day. Wes’ life is upended and the consequences of him falling in love seem to be beyond repair.

However, as this is a Tal book, he somehow manages to draw all the broken pieces back together in a way which isn’t just relatable, but which feels honest and inevitable. The final few chapters are a hard fought for victory which makes it all the sweeter.

I’d have loved an Epilogue a few years down the line but, even though these two young men are only 21, their commitment and love is fixed so deep that you know it will last any challenges it faces.

Definitely one of my favourite books from Tal.

#ARC kindly received from the author in return for an honest and unbiased review

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Release Blitz: Crossing Lines by Jeris Jean

Crossing Lines | Jeris Jean

Hollywood Hopefuls #3

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Release Date: March 30th, 2021

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Blurb

When Matt is propositioned by Jasper, a hot older guy, he’s more than down. That is until he realizes Jasper has a boyfriend, and Matt would be joining them both. He’s not into it, especially since the boyfriend is a jerk, so he ditches them both. What Matt doesn’t expect is the lingering disappointment that the handsome man who approached him wasn’t single and he didn’t get a chance to know him better.

Jasper is not used to rejection. He didn’t become one of the most successful and highest-paid executives in all of Hollywood by accepting defeat. So when Matt, the sexy young barista, turns him down flat not once but twice, he doesn’t quite know what to do. Jasper finds himself going out of his way to get to know what’s behind Matt’s reluctance when it’s clear there is a mutual attraction between them.

Crossing Lines is an age gap, opposites attract mm romance set in Hollywood. There’s some angst and plenty of heat, but you can count on a HEA. (CW: references to past sexual assault.) This is the third book in the Hollywood Hopefuls series, but it works as a standalone novel.

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“I’m Matt, by the way,” he said to Jasper, speaking loudly as they walked shoulder-to-shoulder. Jasper smiled in acknowledgement, looking as if learning Matt’s name was the best thing that had happened to him all day. When they were halfway across the bar, heading toward the dancefloor, Matt presumed, they were stopped by someone stepping in front of them, impeding their progress. It was an attractive guy, mid-thirties, with dark hair and a cocky smirk. He held a mixed drink in one hand and a full beer in the other. He extended the beer out toward Matt. Before Matt had a chance to contemplate what was happening, the man spoke.

“I see Jasper was able to entice you before I even had a chance to buy you a drink. My man’s still got it.” He winked at Jasper, and then pushed the beer closer to Matt. Matt didn’t understand what was happening, but he instinctively reached out to take the beer.

“Uh,” Matt looked from Jasper to the newcomer, still not grasping what was going on. “Thanks? For the drink?”

“I’m sorry.” It was Jasper now, his sexy, smooth voice close to Matt’s ear as he sidled up to speak to him. “I’m being rude. Reid, this is Matt. Matt, this is Reid, my boyfriend.”

Matt was certain his what the fuck expression was comical to behold, but really, what the fuck? Eyebrows raised, he turned to Jasper. “Boyfriend?”

Jasper chuckled and nodded. “Yeah, boyfriend.” He looked at Matt with an amused expression.

Looking back at Reid, Matt said, “And you are somehow happy with the fact that your boyfriend picked me up?”

Reid’s smile was predatory. He stepped a little closer to Matt. “Oh, hell yes.” His eyes slid up and down Matt’s body with naked desire. While Matt had liked similar attention from Jasper not five minutes earlier, it felt somehow unsettling coming from Reid. Less like appreciation and more like assessment. Like he was mentally cataloging all the things he’d do to each part of Matt’s body, and Matt wasn’t here for it. Sure, Reid was a good-looking guy in the traditional sense, but there was something that just felt…slimy about him. And Matt had no interest in serving as a plaything for a couple in a relationship. Many guys might be down for a threesome with two hot men, but Matt wasn’t one of them. Give him regular old hookups between two consenting men, and he was happy. Anything too far beyond that started to dredge up a bunch of shit he’d rather forget.

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Running Lines

Hollywood Hopefuls #1

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Blurb

Finn may look like a Romeo + Juliet-era Leo, but he’s out to prove he’s got what it takes to break the teen heartthrob mold. Grayson is a serious actor, with “serious” as the operative word, so he’s not thrilled to find himself hopelessly attracted to his young new co-star.

Starring on a teen soap may have made Finn Everett Hollywood’s latest “it” boy, complete with the 10 million Instagram followers to show for it, but does he have the chops to cut it as the newest cast member on television’s biggest drama, Frost Manor? Finn’s determined to prove himself as more than just as sex symbol and win the respect of his co-star, Grayson Winter.

Grayson is gorgeous, talented, and the celeb Finn has been secretly crushing on for years. Grayson is dedicated to his job. He has big aspirations to be Hollywood’s best leading man, and he’s willing to make personal sacrifices to get there. When his new scene partner is the charismatic and intensely distracting Finn Everett, Grayson is shaken loose from his single-minded ambition.

When Finn and Grayson start running lines, their off-the-charts chemistry has them wondering if big things are in store for more than just their careers.

Running Lines is an MM Romance featuring hot tv stars, Hollywood drama, and a sweet and sexy gay love story.

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About the Author

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Jeris Jean is a life-long Minnesotan with an obsessive love of books. She has a master’s degree in English Literature but didn’t write her first novel until she was in her mid-thirties. Something just “clicked,” and all fell into its rightful place.

Jeris is a lover of cats, coffee, binge-watching tv shows, her bffs, puzzles, knitting, white sunglasses, black nail polish, purple hair, and reading and writing like it’s going out of style, especially mm romance.

She lives with her husband, two sons and their cat, Fluffy Cat Love, in a lovely little suburb of Minneapolis.

Social Media
https://linktr.ee/jerisjean

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Giveaway

To celebrate Jeris’ new release, she’s giving away a $10 Amazon Gift Card & an e-copy of Hollywood Hopeful’s Books 1 & 2

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Another one to add to my favourites shelf from J.R. Lawrie

57431205._SY475_The Sheltering Tree by J.R. Lawrie

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

J.R.’s debut collection of short stories is one of my favourite books of all time and this one has gone right next to it on the shelf.

The relationship between Alastair and jay is perfectly developed through intense chemistry when they first meet, to a hesitant friends with benefits sexual exploration and then into a deep friendship.

They are studies in opposites, Alastair’s high flying job as Commander of the Metropolitan Police puts him in the spotlight, but it’s something he does under sufferance. Jay’s role as CEO of a company helping at risk kids is close to home, and he’s hiding a painful secret which would have devastating consequences if it comes out.

There’s a tension runs through the book because of this secret, which the reader isn’t a party to either in full, which makes the narrative pacing a perfect blend of the quieter, intimate moments with the suspense elements.

Sex is inspired between these two. Alastair hasn’t had chance to have a relationship for years, Jay is too busy hiding himself to really let go but together, they fly high.

The scenes at Cliveden are among my most favourite romantic encounters in any book, they’re so filled with all the feelings the two men are trying to suppress. The speculative added commentary from the hotel staff just pops the cherry on an already delicious cake imho. It made me smile big time.

There’s also an excellent set of secondary characters, one of my favourites being Alastair’s personal assistant (and general go-to gal) Juliet, who is encouraging and mothering of him even though she’s much younger.

I won’t go into the details of the suspense element of the plot, only to say that it works perfectly throughout as Jay’s past comes back to threaten not only him, but Alastair’s position. The build-up to the final quarter of the book will make your heart race as the danger gets closer.

Oh, and the wee little Easter Egg reference to Richard from J.R.’s Let Your Heart Be Light: A Collection of M/M Holiday Romances was brilliant. If you’ve not read that book yet, I’d definitely suggest you do!

I can’t wait to see what other people think of this book, it’s one of my absolute favourite reads in any genre.

#ARC kindly received from the author in return for an honest and unbiased review

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