Tag Archives: friends to lovers

Saxon opens her new series with a fabulous “fake marriage” romance

The Husband Hoax FINAL-2The Husband Hoax by Saxon James

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Oh this book is utterly brilliant, ridiculous in all the best ways, and has a plot which could come straight out of a Hallmark movie script – but it just works beautifully.

I had the biggest smile on my face from start to finish as this story unfolded. It has a wonderful found family at the heart of it.

Christian and his friends live in a shared house they call Big-Boned Bertha, all misfits and rejects with an artistic streak, they’ve come together to create a wonderfully solid group of people who support and love each other without expectation.

When Christian gets an invite to his cousin’s wedding, he’s anxious about seeing his parents, a decade after they threw him out for being gay, and so he hires someone to pretend to be his partner, a successful man with an active social media presence.

Unfortunately, the guy doesn’t show because of illness and Christian’s floundering until a Prince Charming steps in.

Émile has escaped from a memorial event for his late grandfather, his family giving new meaning to the definition of toxic, and he’s overheard Christian’s anguished cries and thinks that helping him out would not only be a bit of a lark, but it would also be a great way to annoy his family.

What follows next is a delightfully madcap scheme in which Christian agrees to play the part of Émile’s fiancé – so he can inherit an astronomical amount of money from his late grandfather and use it to do good deeds – in return for his debts being paid off.

Of course, what actually happens is these two goobers fall madly in love without even realising it as they go through the motions of setting up their fake marriage.

What I loved the most about this was the relationship at the heart of all the crazy. Christian and Émile just click from the off, they take the time to listen to each other, they’re supportive and caring, they want to spend time together.

There’s tension caused by external events, these two never get in each other’s way or have stupid petty arguments, the pacing is excellent and Saxon drives up the need to reach the end through carefully moving on the narrative with little stepping stones of plot that all join together to make a pathway to a really satisfying conclusion.

Along the way we find out more about the guys who share the house with Christian and we meet the only decent member of his family, his sister Elle.

I couldn’t put this book down, it was just such a fun read from start to finish and now I’m dying to find out who the next book will be about!

#ARC kindly received from the author via ForewordPR, I am voluntarily leaving a review

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Release Blitz: Third Time Lucky by Aurora Crane

Third Time Lucky | Aurora Crane

A Chain Reaction Spin-Off

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Release Date: January 28th, 2023

Cover Artist: Cormar Covers

Heat Rating: 4 flames

Length: 80,000 words

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Blurb

Trust didn’t always go both ways, and Grady Donehue learned that the hard way. He hadn’t learned better after the first betrayal, but he wasn’t going to make the same mistake a third time. Striking up a strange friendship with the equally strange—and straight—soldier, Lake, who had sunshine in his eyes? Grady could do that. He could even handle helping Lake figure out he might not be so straight after all, in a very hands-on way. But falling in love? No, thanks.

Lake McKenna has spent his whole life absolutely confident in who he is and what he wants. Even when the picture-perfect future he’d always envisioned seemed further away than ever, none of his plans included another man. But the more time Lake spends with his new friend: grumpy and sneaky-sexy detective, Grady, the more he thinks that maybe what he really needs is something different to what he always imagined.

Neither man was prepared for the other, but Lake is nothing if not flexible. Doubt isn’t part of his make-up. He knows how much more incredible they could be together; if only Grady could see it too. Grady has to decide if Lake is worth risking his heart again, and whether he’s brave enough to see if it really is third time lucky.

Third Time Lucky is an 80,000-word MM romance. It is a bi-awakening, friends to lovers romance with low angst and high feels. It is set in the Chain Reaction universe but can be read as a standalone.

Third Time Lucky Teaser #1

Excerpt

“Is there a reason you don’t like your house?” Grady asked.

It was a fair question, since they hadn’t spent a lot of time in the last few months at Lake’s, even though they’d spent so many evenings together.

Lake didn’t answer at first, staring out at the dozens of people milling about like ants with a purpose. “It’s empty,” he said quietly. “I bought it when my grandpa died about ten years ago, from my half of the inheritance. There was a lot of space for a family, and a pool, and a big yard for a dog. I fixed it up using money I got from a really long deployment.” He stared down at his hands. “I guess I thought it would be filled by now.” He couldn’t quite smother the feeling of failure when he thought about all the personal accomplishments that he hadn’t ticked off yet. As though his life were nothing more than a checklist that he had to work his way down. He knew that wasn’t right, but it slithered in there, anyway.

“It’s okay to not have found the person you want to make a family with yet,” Grady said softly. “Sometimes it takes longer than we’d like, but when it’s right, you’ll know.”

“I would never have pegged you for such a romantic.”

“Don’t tell anyone. And stop trying to dodge.”

Lake sighed. He knew, logically, that Grady was right. And he had dated a few people over those years that he’d thought maybe, but nothing had ever panned out. “It just feels big when I’m there by myself. Even with the TV on the silence gets to me. I like your house.” He shrugged. “It’s small, and cosy, and it has you in it.” He didn’t know if that admission was allowed, or what it even meant, when it felt like so much more than he could find the words for.

“Lake…”

“I know we haven’t known each other long, but friendships are like that sometimes, aren’t they? I like being around you.”

Grady didn’t respond and Lake awkwardly fiddled with the beaded and leather bracelets around his wrist.

“Do you have food at your house?” Grady asked, eventually. That hadn’t been what Lake had expected him to say. He’d been bracing himself for rejection. Lake had gotten too clingy, wanted to spend too much time with him, and it was time to part ways. Lake would have understood. He knew that he was a lot to handle and sometimes he figured the only reason Felix and Zach had stuck around so long was that they’d had so long to get used to it.

“I guess it depends on what you mean by food?” Lake replied. “Why?”

“Because I like your house, Lake,” Grady said patiently. “And you shouldn’t have to feel like you can’t be there.”

“I—what? You like my house?”

“Well, yeah. It’s big, and it’s inviting, and it has you in it.” He paused and then turned to Lake with a grin that had Lake’s mouth going dry. “And it has more than one bed. Just in case.”

“All of my spare beds are being fumigated,” Lake said, hoping he didn’t sound as desperate as he felt. He didn’t give a fuck if it was weird; he liked waking up next to Grady, liked how big Grady was and how much space he took up on the mattress, the heat that radiated off him in waves. There was no mistaking he wasn’t alone when Grady was with him.

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About the Author

Aurora Crane logo

Aurora Crane is an Australian author with a particular love for books featuring poly relationships. You can always find a healthy serving of banter, snark and heat in her books, along with impossible men falling in love, even if sometimes it takes them a little while to get there!

She has an appreciation for men in suits and frequently spreads that love in the Facebook group she shares with her muse, fellow Aussie, and co-writer Briar Kearney.

When not in the writing cave—a rarity to see this author out of her natural habitat—she can be found playing video games, building Lego sets, or hanging out with her fiancé and their menagerie of animals.

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Release Blitz: Two Truths and a Lyle by DJ Jamison

Two Truths and a Lyle | DJ Jamison

Games We Play Prequel

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Release Date: January 26th, 2023

Heat Rating: 3 flames

Length: approx 31,500 words 

Available in Kindle Unlimited

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Blurb

Two Truths and a…wait, what?!

What happens when drunken idiots, aka your friends, use a silly drinking game to sideswipe you and your BFF with the truth bomb that you’re actually in love with each other?

Truman: You impulsively kiss the best friend you’ve been in love with for ages…then wake up with a hangover—and regrets.

Lyle: You freak out because you’re not gay or bi, before realizing the kiss wasn’t *actually* bad. Then you begin to wonder…should we do it again?

Two Truths and a Lyle is a cute, low-angst M/M romance with two oblivious best friends who are perfect for one another, a town full of quirky residents who get in everyone’s business, and a sweet sexual awakening.

This novella was previously published as part of a promotion, but some new content has been added.

Lyle Teaser 2

Excerpt

“Okay, the game is Two Truths and a Lie,” Kevin announced. “Who’s first?”

Calista and Darren put their heads together, conferring quietly. Then Darren straightened, gesturing to Calista. “Ladies first.”

“I’ve never been accused of being a lady before,” Calista said to a round of laughter. She was gorgeous, with curly hair that was a little wild and curves that attracted her a steady number of boyfriends. But she was also one of the crudest people I’d met, always down for a dirty joke or reckless adventure. “But sure, I’ll go first. Okay…two truths and a lie. Hmm. Oh, I’ve got it! Here goes: I’m a Scorpio. I once wrecked my dad’s car. And my two best friends are in love with each other.”

“You’re not a Scorpio,” Tru said.

“Wait, aren’t all the truths supposed to be about yourself?” I asked.

At the same time, Evan said, “I thought I was your best friend. I’m not in love with anyone!”

And that’s when it hit me.

She was talking about me and Tru.

“Drink up, Calista!” Kevin called. “They busted you on the lie. You’re not a Scorpio.”

I noticed no one was suggesting she told more than one lie. Or calling her on the fact she’d told a supposed “truth” that wasn’t her own.

“I’ll go next,” Darren announced gleefully.

My gut clenched. Somehow, I knew what was coming. I glanced around the group playing the game, all ranging in age from about eighteen to twenty-two, all long-time acquaintances or friends. Was this some type of organized effort? Evan hadn’t seemed to know it was going down. So maybe it was just Calista and Darren. But that was still too much.

“Maybe we should head out,” I said to Tru.

“Why? We haven’t even played yet.”

Before I could answer, Darren was announcing his truths and a lie. “I’m a Scorpio. I’m a virgin. And my roommate and his best friend totally need to bone because they are in luuuurrrve.”

There were shouts of laughter, and Calista smirked. “I know you’re not a virgin.”

Hold up now. Calista and Darren? Surely not. At the ooohs and ahhs they started to get, Calista flipped off the room. “Dude, he’s a slut. I don’t need to screw him to know.”

I dragged a hand down my face.

“Wait, hold on,” Tru said. “Ly is your roommate.”

Darren smirked. “Yep.”

“And…his best friend is…?”

Darren raised his brows. “Don’t you already know the answer to that?”

Tru frowned, glancing between me and Darren. “I thought I did. Now, I’m just confused.”

“Join the club,” I muttered, though I suspected we were confused about different things. My stomach was squirming with discomfort as half the eyes in the room fixed on Tru and me. Fucking Darren. I knew he was behind this. I didn’t know why, but I’d find out.

Part of me wanted to jump up and tell him to knock it off. The other half wanted to sink into the sofa and disappear rather than draw more attention to myself.

“Ah, I think I get this game now,” Evan said. “Can I go next?”

Sweet Evan. Sweet, naïve Evan. I sighed with relief. Finally, the game would move on, and everyone would forget Darren and Calista’s entirely deluded suggestions that Tru and I were anything but good friends.

Hell, I wasn’t even gay. Or bi. So how could I be in love with my male best friend? I barely dated women, much less men. I was too busy working my ass off, trying to prove myself at the construction company Truman’s dad had built from the ground up while my dad did his best to drink himself into an early grave.

I’d always thought Truman would be right there by my side on the crew, making the back-breaking labor more fun. He had a way of turning everything in life into a big laugh. I hadn’t even realized how much he made me smile until he was gone and every day was just one dreary slog after another.

“Two truths and a lie,” Evan said. “Okay. I’m creating my own app.”

That was undoubtedly true. Evan was a classic tech geek, and at eighteen, he already did freelance work for a handful of companies. He didn’t need a degree, evidently, because he’d taught himself everything he needed to know in his spare time.

Evan continued, “I’m dating a girl.”

There was an immediate snort of laughter. Evan had been out as a gay boy for years.

“And…” He glanced guiltily in my direction. Oh no. Not him too. “Lyle and Truman are totally couples goals. If they could only see it for themselves.”

“Et tu, Evan,” I said.

Beside me, Truman gasped. “Evan, you’re dating a girl?”

Evan looked floored. “What? No?”

“The game is two truths and a lie,” Tru said. “If you’re not dating a girl, you told two lies.”

Evan shook his head. “Sorry, guys. But I’m still gay.”

“Well, I’m not,” I said shortly, standing and dragging Truman up by the arm. “I think it’s time to call it a night.”

Lyle Teaser 3

About the Author

dj jamison logo

DJ Jamison writes romances about everyday life and extraordinary love featuring a variety of queer characters, from gay to bisexual to asexual.

DJ grew up in the Midwest in a working-class family, and those influences can be found in her writing through characters coping with real-life problems: money troubles, workplace drama, family conflicts and, of course, falling in love. DJ spent more than a decade in the newspaper industry before chasing her first dream to write fiction.

She spent a lifetime reading before that and continues to avidly devour her fellow authors’ books each night. She lives in Kansas with her husband, two sons, one snake, and a sadistic cat named Birdie.

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