What a pleasant surprise this book turned out to be

Given the CircumstancesGiven the Circumstances by Brad Vance

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’ve never read this author so I had no preconceived ideas about what I’d be reading and so it was a very pleasant surprise to get a well written exploration of the pressures of fame in the sporting world for two gay men.

I loved Roger, strong reliable steadfast and true, secure in his talent and the support of his father. But Brian, oh how I wanted to hug Brian and tell him it would get better if he could just believe in himself.

I loved the world setting, I loved that there wasn’t an overt focus on the institutionalised homophobia found in big sports like American Football and baseball. I loved Jacob, Roger’s dad, who was the perfect role model and I loved Joe, who gave Brian the other father figure he’d been missing.

This book is written like a series of vignettes, peeking into bits of Roger and Brian’s lives and it worked really well. It never felt disjointed and watching their sexual and loving relationship develop over time was a clever way of drawing out the narrative.

The sex was hot, hot, hot, Roger loving how Brian just took control and made him fly. But the scenes during Brian’s worst times, when they would just hold each other were also beautifully told.

The ending felt earned, a true payoff for both men.

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Woah this is all ends up messed up but still an adrenaline rush

Red Hot: Coffin Nails MC California (Sex & Mayhem #5)Red Hot: Coffin Nails MC California by K.A. Merikan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Where to begin with this one. It’s a love story but it sure as Hell ain’t no romance.

This one is the most messed up so far out of all the Sex and Mayhem series I’ve read and at times its difficult to keep going with the thought of what might happen next.

But, ultimately it is about love, it’s about desperation, self awareness, stalking, screwing, brotherhood, companionship, compromise, violence, eroticism, kink and cravings.

It’s dark and brooding, it’s the book that hangs out on the street corner after dark waiting to jump someone. It’s hard as the proverbial nails.

But Red Jack and Loki are also loving, in their own twisted ways, and they just work together. Not every love story resembles a Disney fantasy and who am I to question their passion?!

I love how these two authors twist the boundaries of what constitutes a love story and in this they’ve got it right on the money again.

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Beautiful broken Beck stole my heart

Victim of LoveVictim of Love by Darien Cox

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Oh Beck, beautifully broken Beck, how much did I love you? This book made me hurt so much because I’ve been where Olsen was but I didn’t get the HEA.

My Beck, (not his actual name obvs), walked out the door just after Christmas 1996 and he took my heart with him. It took an awfully long time for me to take control of it again. Even now, when I’m very happily settled into a 12 year relationship, with a 9-year-old son together, I’m honestly not sure how I’d react if my Beck walked back into my life.

I’d like to say I’d be able to sit down and shoot the breeze, catch up on those two decades, but if I’m brutally honest, I’m not sure I wouldn’t just want to fall right back into his arms, in spite of how much pain it would cause.

I can understand why people found Beck frustrating. But I got him, he’d suffered an intensely traumatic experience, he had lingering guilt over it, he felt he had to push away everything that had made him Beck before the incident happened. He put a mask on to protect himself from the pain.
When he met Olsen, he didn’t know what to do. Here was someone with the potential power to heal some of that pain, but also capable of crippling Beck beyond recovery.
I understood Olsen, I’ve been Olsen, waiting for just a glimpse of something that, if given the chance to bloom and grow, could develop into something truly beautiful.

You live with the expectation that today might be the day when your Beck admits that you are their one, the one they’re willing to fight for, to open up everything and you wait. You wait until eventually the realisation slips in that they’re not – in the words of Arnie – going to “be back” and you shut your heart down.

I was hoping and praying throughout this book that Beck and Olsen got their Happy Ever After together because for me, it never came. My Beck was the one that got away, that was too damaged to let go

The setting, the secondary characters, the world building, all are superb, these people feel real, you could bump into them on the street. The sex was sensual, passionate, powerful, heart-breaking, emotional, painful, healing and caring.

This book broke me.

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Vicious and brutal but passionately brilliant

Road of No Return: Hounds of Valhalla MC (Sex & Mayhem, #1)Road of No Return: Hounds of Valhalla MC by K.A. Merikan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a love story but it ain’t your hearts and flowers and the ending isn’t so much a happy for now but more a happy to be alive.

This book is dark, brutal, harsh and painful in its themes. But it’s also about two men connecting in a way which transcends all the darkness.

I don’t want to spoil it, I think this book should be read blind but let’s just say the events of the final quarter of the story narrative were intensely shocking and a serious twist out of the expected.

Loved the Dom and Seth cameo too.

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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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Simply beautiful tale of love

True Colors (True Love, #2)True Colors by Anyta Sunday

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Beautiful, simply beautiful. This book is not a unique trope, it tells the age old story of two young men who were once the truest of friends before it all went horribly wrong.

What is unique about it though is the simple but so very clever way Anyta uses colours to signify emotional states and moments of connection, both negative and positive, throughout this romance.

We have, of course, met both Oskar and Marco before, in the Wish You Were Here anthology short story which was also published as a stand alone late last year Bottle Boy. Now we find out just what happened to push them apart for more than two years.

This is a tale of broken teenage hearts, a piratical play, fears over being hurt again, and a young man who needs to see his own soul burns just as sunburnt yellow bright as he once saw his best friend’s shining.

I’m just a little bit purple and maybe a tiny bit pillar box red after reading this.

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

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Epic epilogue on top of a beautifully told story of pain and redemption

Between These SheetsBetween These Sheets by Devon McCormack

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I love it when the epilogue of a story jumps years into the future and not just a few weeks. The one in this romance is wonderful, it brings with it such hope and happiness and it makes everything that went before it a well earned journey.

War isn’t kind, it’s cruel and vicious, destructive and damaging, even in those times of justified conflict, the suffering it brings has lingering effects.
This book looks at what it’s like afterwards, when you have to deal with the aftermath of a war zone, what PTSD can do to a person’s brain and how it affects every single thing they do.

Reese and Jay were fully fleshed out characters, their flaws and faults as real as their positive traits. Reese was terrified he’d hurt Jay simply because he couldn’t always cope. Jay was scared he’d be the second choice, the one not good enough for anything but sex.

And speaking of sex, Devon sure knows how to write those, this book has some incredibly passionate moments between the two men and some off the charts hot action to leave you flustered.

What I enjoyed the most about this though was that, in spite of all their hang ups and insecurities, they leant on each other and they talked, truly talked, through the pain.

And a shout out for the stunning cover from Jay Aheer and Allan Spiers Photography.

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