So good it keeps all the stars – even with a cliff hanger!

Enemy of My Enemy (The Executive Office Book 2)Enemy of My Enemy by Tal Bauer

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Brilliance, sheer brilliance. This book, and the others in the series, need to be on the big screen, theatre epic in a way the greatest Bond films are, they’re thrilling like a Jack Ryan narrative and they have a perfect “would die for you” love at the heart.

I’ve even not knocked off my usual star for the bloody cliff hanger so I hope you appreciate that Tal 😉

Where to begin with this one though? An element of suspension of disbelief is needed, a reminder that this book is set a few years in the future when medical science had advanced at pace. There’s a little bit of the potential for a dystopian future at play here.

Our mad general is still orchestrating things from hiding, stacking up threat after threat and taking apart Jack and Ethan’s world piece by piece. So many amazing secondary characters are lost in this book, it’s not for the faint hearted and my heart is feeling somewhat bruised at their deaths.

But the tension, lord the tension as the moles on the inside continue to manipulate the plays, is immense. I’m holding out hope that the big reveal is not going to be one of the characters I’ve come to love so much.

And the scene with Sergey and Sasha absolutely killed me. So much emotion in such a small gesture. On to the final one now with the fate of the world literally resting on the shoulders of a small bunch of renegades.

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A Christmas stopover with Jack and Ethan

Interlude: First NoelInterlude: First Noel by Tal Bauer

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It’s weird going back with Jack and Ethan to see their first Christmas together after the story had moved on in time at the end of book one.

But it’s also a really sweet insight into how they made their long distance relationship work after Ethan got banished to Iowa.

There’s also a nice little side plot with an investigation into counterfeiting which takes a sideways turn into an FBI murder case while Ethan deals with his local chief not wanting him there.

Their actual Christmas together is seriously sweet and emotionally satisfying.

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Everything I’d hoped it would be and then some

Enemies of the State (The Executive Office #1)Enemies of the State by Tal Bauer

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

So, when I tell you that The West Wing is my favourite TV series of all time and that when Marc Harmon’s Special Agent Simon Donovan was murdered during a store robbery gone wrong just after kissing White House Press Secretary CJ Cregg, I cried for about an hour, you can hazard a guess at how much I was pinning on this book.

Well, Tal Bauer gave me everything I wanted and then some. This book is explosive, it’s thrilling, it’s emotional, it’s heart breaking, it’s tense, it’s passionate, it’s sexy, it’s about two men in their 40s falling in love unexpectedly with the glare of the world upon them.

Jack and Ethan were beautifully crafted, for all he’s a Republican President (and that was a bit weird), Jack is just the kind of guy you’d want in the White House top job and Ethan, oh how much do I want my own Ethan?! Strong, reliable, dedicated, determined, unassailable, loyal.

I actually did guess fairly early on who the mole, the bad guy on the inside, was going to be but it didn’t stop me from hoping throughout that I’d be wrong and the President wouldn’t be betrayed.

The action and attention to detail is superb, the spy and thriller elements worthy of a book on their own without the added bonus of the experience of an openly gay secret service agent falling for a man who’d always considered himself straight. I loved that Jack was clear he was in love with the person and the fact Ethan was a man didn’t really register for him. They were friends first.

There’s also a whole host of brilliantly drawn side characters and I can’t be the only one wanting to know more about the relationship between the mysterious Marine and the Saudi intelligence head?

Never boring, this book kept me up until 3am reading it. It just is that good.

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Wonderfully erotic tales of sexual discovery

Up-Ending Tad, Bundle 1 (Up-Ending Tad: A Journey of Erotic Discovery, #1-3)Up-Ending Tad, Bundle 1 by Kora Knight

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I loved the first three encounters between Tad and Scott as the former finds out that he not only has a kink for a flogger but that he might just be crossing the line of sexual attraction.

These are stupendously hot, not least the beautifully drawn out breakdown of Tad’s resistance each time he meets with Scott. There’s loads of emotional context though too, it’s not all based on lustful need.

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Release Day for Santino Hassell’s Oversight

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Today is the release of Santino Hassell’s Oversight, The Community #2 from Riptide Publishing.

I’m joining in with the release day buzz here on Mirrigold’s Musings by offering readers this little sexy sneak peek inside the pages of this fabulous paranormal suspense romance which will keep you firmly on the edge of your seat

My own review of this excellent follow up to The Community #1 Insight, can be found here.

“He half-expected to be shoved away and for a fist to crash into his face right before the taste of iron bloomed in his mouth, but it didn’t happen. The hands gripping him closed down harder, grinding bone and muscle, but that was the only way Six reacted. He was frozen as Holden stroked his tongue gently and coaxed it into a response before sucking it entirely into his mouth.

A groan muffled against him, low and quickly aborted, but Holden heard it. And he felt the way Six leaned into him. It was barely a response, but it encouraged Holden to pin Six against the door and dive into a hungry kiss. Slicking tongues, frantically moving lips, and a full body press that made it quite clear that Six was into this. His dick was fully rocked up in a way that could not be explained by anything other than arousal for Holden.

It was right about the time triumph usually exploded in Holden’s chest with invisible banners and balloons celebrating a conquest, but this time he felt apprehension. He didn’t want to end this kiss. He wanted Six to keep exploring the inside of his mouth with a delightfully frantic lack of finesse, and he wanted a genuine fucking smile once they were done. But that wasn’t in the cards. That wasn’t what this was about.”

Author Bio:

SH imageSantino Hassell was raised by a conservative family, but he was anything but traditional. He grew up to be a smart-mouthed, school cutting grunge kid, then a transient twenty-something, and eventually transformed into an unlikely romance author.

Santino writes queer romance that is heavily influenced by the gritty, urban landscape of New York City, his belief that human relationships are complex and flawed, and his own life experiences.

Connect with Santino: Website | Twitter | Instagram | FB Group | FB | GR | Tumblr

 

American Gothic in book form – creepy and perfectly weird

Insight (The Community #1)Insight by Santino Hassell

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As I said in my update, this book is like American Gothic, the famous painting which looks ordinary on the surface but the more you examine it, the stranger it gets.

Santino’s incredible world building skills are in full force for this edgy suspense story which mixes in the romance element without ever fully giving in to that particular trope’s usual formula.

There’s no miscommunication, no odd little hiccup at 70% to allow the couple to reunite, instead there’s a strangely subdued relationship developing between Nate and Trent while around them, stranger things happen.

I clocked the likely villain fairly early on but not anything on how the plot would develop and the final denouement was a quiet surprise in how it came about.

There is an element of cliff hanger to this one in so much as the storyline continues into book two but this opening novel does also wrap up what’s been happening with Nate and Trent and puts them into a pretty steady and secure relationship.

Steam levels are appropriately low, which works for the nature of the narrative but there is a nice connection when they do occur.

I enjoyed it but, unlike other Santino stories, I don’t think I’d be likely to read it again.

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Funny and fishy short story

Marine BiologyMarine Biology by Gail Carriger

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I’ve never read this author before but this one was on sale and it’s the introduction to a new series which has been getting great ARC reviews.

As I had no expectations, I really enjoyed the light hearted edge of the book and the introduction did actually make me laugh out loud.

There’s a few puns, a bit of excitement but no steamy stuff and a fair bit of moody werewolves and a ghost who should know better. Looking forward to more.

As a PS though, mine had a different cover which was much nicer than this.

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