Tag Archives: chronic illness

Three More Vino & Veritas Releases Out Today

Today we have three more Release Blitz for the Vino & Veritas Series with books from Eliot Grayson, L.A. Witt and J.E. Birk.

Series Link: https://hearteyespress.com/wotn#/vino-and-veritas/

vinoveritas

Undercover | Eliot Grayson

Vino & Veritas #4

4_V&V_Grayson_ebook_FINAL

Release Date: March 29th, 2021

Cover Design: Christine Coffey

Buy Link: https://geni.us/AmazonUndercover

Add to Goodreads: https://bit.ly/2LTpTTY

READ MY REVIEW

Undercover+Teaser+4

Blurb

Gabe wants Alec between the sheets…too bad Alec’s undercover already…

Rich kid. Party boy. Gabe is tired of the labels. He’s a smart guy, but ever since he got kicked out of grad school, people are only interested in his no-limit credit card and his pierced ears…and other places.

Tall, dark, and scowling Alec hates Vermont, with its artisanal-freaking-everything and its irritating people. To be fair, most people irritate Alec, including the FBI director who sent him here to investigate a smuggling scheme involving yoga mats.

When one of the cutest twinks Alec’s ever seen takes an interest, Alec knows there’s an ulterior motive. No one with multi-colored hair, piercings, and an ass like that would want boring, serious Alec. The kid must be up to no good. Either way, Alec can’t blow his cover. If only he could keep his hands off of Gabe long enough to find out what he’s up to…

Can they ignore their explosive chemistry long enough to foil a smuggling ring? Or will their budding relationship sink faster than a yacht full of contraband?

Undercover+Teaser+1

Excerpt

I swallowed hard, not missing how his eyes flicked down to my throat for a second, and finally found my voice. “What do you want?” I’d tried for challenging, but it came out husky and a little plaintive. Like I’d really said something more like, Looking for a good time?

He took another step, putting him squarely into my personal space. I caught a faint thread of the scent of him, leather and man, just like I’d imagined. Oh God.

“I’m kind of new in town,” he said, still staring right into my eyes. I pressed my hands back against the side of the building, concrete rough beneath my sweaty palms. “Where does a guy go to have fun in Burlington, anyway? You kind of look like you’d know.”

He looked down, pointedly doing a sweep of me from my purple Chucks, up my skinny legs, over my chest—lingering there for a second; could he see the outline of my right nipple piercing through my shirt?—and back up to my ear piercings and multi-colored hair. He landed right back on my eyes again. His own seemed wider and darker. Dilated. Yeah, he liked what he’d seen.

Fuck it. Maybe there was something wrong with me—okay, I knew there was something wrong with me. I always went for the wrong guys, and this was wronger than usual.

But fuck it, seriously. I’d never been cornered in a park by a guy who looked like he could break me in half, and maybe I’d been missing out. Not like I could get away if I wanted to.

And I really, really didn’t want to.

Undercover+AN2

Aftermath | L.A. Witt

Vino & Veritas #5

5_V&V_Witt_ebook_FINAL

Release Date: March 29th, 2021

Cover Design: Christine Coffey

Buy Link: https://geni.us/AmazonAftermath/

Add to Goodreads: https://bit.ly/2LZajWM

READ MY REVIEW

Aftermath+Teaser+1

Blurb

Brent Weyland was the life of the party until an injury ended his hockey career. Now he’s retreated alone to a lakefront house, trying to make sense of a life and body that don’t feel like his anymore.

Jon Norquist was happily married right up until he wasn’t. Now a single father in his forties, he’s trying to figure out what comes next. In the meantime, he pours his heartache and regret into the lyrics he sings for the wine bar crowd a couple of nights a week.

When a friend coaxes Brent out for a night of wine and music, he puts Brent and Jon on a collision course. Their chemistry is instantaneous. Jon gives Brent’s battered body a much-needed remedial lesson in pleasure. And Brent gives Jon a reason to smile again.

Multiple reasons, actually. Neither man wants anything serious, but love has a habit of showing up whether it’s welcome or not. No matter how hard they try, the two can’t help having feelings for each other, even as life continues to throw them curveballs.

But they’ve both got baggage to unpack and hurt to move past, and if they can’t leave their pasts in the past, they might just miss out on an amazing future.

AFtermath+Teaser+2

Excerpt

If there was one thing I was good at when I performed onstage, it was engaging my audience without being distracted by them. The lighting here at Vino and Veritas didn’t mask the crowd in shadows like bigger venues did—no blinding stage lights in my eyes obscuring the people beyond them—which meant I could make out a lot of faces. And there was usually a fair amount of activity, too. People came and went. Waiters brought out drinks and food. Bartenders poured drinks. Quiet conversations went on. Some loud ones, especially as more alcohol flowed.

I was used to it, and I was never distracted by it. The sea of motion and faces was easy to ignore.

Except for that guy’s face.

One glance at him, and thank God I’d been between songs, or I’d have forgotten what I was doing.

And it didn’t help at all that he’d been looking right back at me as if I’d caught his eye the way he’d caught mine. Not just like people casually watched a performer onstage, but like something I’d done had made him stop dead and stare. He was still, his eyes wide and his lips parted as he stared at me. I couldn’t tell if it was a trick of the lights, but I swore he blushed too.

As I played on, I kept my gaze down, or at least tried to only let it drift toward the side of the room where he wasn’t sitting. Otherwise I was going to go blank on every note and every lyric.

But then I was far enough into the music that I forgot, and I glanced in that direction again, and there he was, still looking right at me, and—

What song is this?

I only missed a beat or two, fortunately, and I recovered quickly. I doubted many people noticed, if any of them did. In a venue like this, a lot of people were only half-listening, as opposed to during an actual concert when they were all focused on me. I was background noise for most, even those who applauded between songs. Just as well when I was this distracted.

By some miracle, I made it through my set, and people didn’t mutter things like, “Oh my God, finally,” or “One more and I was going to stab my own eardrums” as I left the stage. Given that this hadn’t been my best or most focused performance, I’d take it.

In the back room where overflow books and promo items from the bookstore were kept, I put my guitar in its case and downed the rest of my water bottle. That had been, hands down, the hardest set I’d done since I’d started singing here. The first few had been tough because the emotions had been a lot more raw—because I’d been real smart, singing what I’d just written about my painful divorce-in-progress—so it had been rough for a while. But even during that period, I’d never actually struggled like I had tonight to remember lyrics and chords, or to keep my fingers from slipping or my tongue from getting tied. 

And now I needed a drink. Not just water this time, either. 

So, I left my guitar and jacket in the back where they were safe, and then headed up to the bar for a glass of wine. Only one, since I was driving. I’d probably have a couple more when I got home. Maybe not the healthiest thing in the world, but I’d been in a shitty place all day, and singing about my divorce poured some salt in wounds that hadn’t closed yet. I wasn’t apologizing for numbing that with a little alcohol once in a while. 

“The usual?” Rainn asked over the bar.

I shook my head. “Glass of pinot blanc.”

Our eyes met. Then Rainn nodded and stepped away to get the wine. He knew me and what I’d been through the last several months, so he didn’t question me. He just didn’t need to know that my ex-wife wasn’t the one screwing with my concentration tonight. 

He handed me the glass, and I thanked him before taking a sip. I wasn’t much of a drinker, but I had to say, I loved the wine they poured in this place. One of these days, I’d buy a bottle or two to keep at home. Maybe after I finished redoing the kitchen and had a place to put a wine rack.

That was another depressing thought that didn’t need to take hold tonight, so I focused on enjoying the amazing wine while I wound down after my set. My son was at his mom’s tonight, so I didn’t need to rush out of here to pick him up from the babysitter. I preferred the evenings where he was with me, but when he wasn’t, I couldn’t complain about relaxing here for a little while.

Someone stepped up to the bar beside me, and as I moved aside to give them some room, I glanced up and—

Oh. God.

Him.

AFTERMATH+AN2

Booklover | J.E. Birk

Vino & Veritas #6

6_V&V_Birk_ebook_FINAL

Release Date: March 29th, 2021

Cover Design: Christine Coffey

Buy Link: https://geni.us/AmazonBooklover

Add to Goodreads: https://bit.ly/2M0GgOE

READ MY REVIEW

Booklover+Teaser+1

Blurb

Jamie Morin’s college GPA drops every time a cow breaks through a fence, but he’s determined to get his degree and keep his parents’ Vermont dairy farm afloat. He’d rather be reading than milking, but he can’t let his family down…not the way his brother did. So the last thing he needs is distraction in the form of an irresistible bookseller with a mysterious backstory.

Briar Nord has a lifetime of experience proving that happily-ever-afters only happen in his favorite books. But his luck might be changing. He’s got a great job at a bookstore, and he lives in a city that puts maple syrup on everything. But Briar knows not to trust anything–or anyone–too closely, and that includes a gorgeous farm boy with soulful eyes and too many obligations.

When Jamie joins Briar’s romance novel book club, they both feel an instant connection and soon they’re turning pages long into the night. But Briar’s past was bound to catch up with him. Sometimes, though, it takes two heroes to write a new ending…

Booklover+Teaser+3

Excerpt

I start heading toward the circle of couches and chairs near the back where the inaugural meeting of The Booklover Club is supposed to take place. I make a quick stop at a shelf of new titles because the store’s got at least three that I’ve been meaning to read. I grab one of them, a nonfiction book about dairy farming, and I take a quick pause to wonder if my wallet can handle a bookstore binge. I’m still reading the inside of the jacket flap when I hear a voice behind me. 

“Can I help you?”

I turn around and try not to do that thing Jeremy says I sometimes do, where I just stand there staring at someone or something without speaking. In my defense, I think the problem comes from spending most of my childhood surrounded by cows. Sometimes I just forget how to people. 

Especially when incredibly hot human beings are standing in front of me. Which is happening right now.    

This guy looks exactly like Porter, one of my other favorite book characters. He’s in Alyssa Samuel’s gay romance novel Lost Key, and right now I can’t help but wonder if he walked right off the pages of that book and into this store. The Porter look-alike in front of me has sharp, angular cheekbones sitting under hazel eyes and dirty blond hair and eyebrows. He’s got some scruffy I-wanna-be-a-beard-but-I’m-not-there-yet hair around his chin that’s straight out of the Vermont tourist brochures. His head is covered by a pilling green tuque, and his skin is this olive tone that should be next to impossible for any white guy to have in Vermont in March. He’s wearing a flannel shirt and jeans, which is pretty much the stereotypical Vermont uniform, but somehow on him it manages to look cool and unique.

And as if all that weren’t enough? He’s carrying a stack of books.

Some men dream of seeing their perfect lover strutting around in hot lingerie or tiny speedos. I dream of my perfect lover naked, with a stack of books strategically placed in front of them.

Booklover+AN2

Jay’s latest romance is subtle and organic and grows beautifully

48194189._SY475_Where Love Grows by Jay Northcote

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It’s no secret that the way Jay writes resonates soundly with me.

But in this one, he pulled out all the feels about how to write a romance where one of the protagonists isn’t a perfectly fit man but is living with the after effects of chronic illness.

I will state for the record that I did a sensitivity reading as someone who is living with a very similar situation albeit from a different condition.

But I’ll also state, I made very little input to the narrative other than lots of “OMG yes, that’s totally right” throughout because all the emotions were there already.

Jay skilfully gives us Stephen’s life as he tries to recover from two huge blows, the loss of his parents being something he was still dealing with when illness struck.

And then, with Luke, we get a man who isn’t on the face of it, a likely candidate for a lifetime of happiness.

However, what happens next really is quite beautiful and you’ll not get any spoilers here, either than to say it’s as organic and natural as the garden which comes back to life alongside Stephen.

I love it when an author steps away from the norm in contemporary romance to give me something a bit more unusual.

There’s no great traumas here, no massive dramedy (that’s drama and tragedy mushed up into unnecessary plot points).

Instead, we get to watch two men, both a little bit broken, start to bloom together.

Love absolutely does grow here and the Epilogue had me smiling and then laughing my head off.

The chicken poo really does make it memorable 😉

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

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Beautifully relatable characters and a complex romance make this a hit

46645167._SY475_Digging Deep by Jay Hogan

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I loved this book big time. I’m already a big fan of Jay’s writing but with this book she’s outdone herself, touching on a complex medical issue and ensuring Drake’s character is not only believable but absolutely relatable.

Both characters are wonderfully expressed, and while I totally fell for Drake, with his spikes and bristles, my heart dropped fully into Caleb’s hands.

I have a soft spot for cops at the best of times (one of my exes was a policeman) but detectives who fall for spikey and bristly midwives with a chronic illness and do their absolute best to find out all they can about it to be a good potential boyfriend are even more delicious.

There’s lots of medical stuff in this but it never overwhelms the basic narrative of two men with very different experiences and personalities falling in love.

I will say that a certain plot element which comes in later in the game, while it works well as a tension point, felt a wee bit just too convenient and I’d maybe have preferred the understanding from Drake about his feelings to have come without needing it.

But, it’s an incredibly minor point, a personal niggle only, and it never took me away from the overriding message of taking chances and living whatever life you get given to the best of your abilities.

#ARC kindly received from the Publisher Dreamspinner Press in return for an honest and unbiased review

Get your copy at Dreamspinner Press: https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/digging-deep-by-jay-hogan-10666-b

View all my Goodreads reviews