They just keep getting better

Defiance (The Protectors, #9)Defiance by Sloane Kennedy

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

So Vincent might, just might, have sneaked into the number one spot on my list of favourite Sloane Kennedy men, edging out Magnus and Ronan, who were already fighting it out between them.

Defiance is yet another brilliant addition to the Protectors cannon, filled with all the drama and angst and insanely hot men this series typifies.

This one concerns Nathan, the estranged twin of Brody from Sloane’s connected Finding series. Brody is in a relationship with both Quinn Donovan and Beck Barretti, linking in to that set of hot alpha males too.
This is another of the things I love about a Sloane Kennedy romance, they are connected into such a wonderfully developed world with an unconventional family determined to look after their own.

Here the mystery was well hidden, I liked that I had no clue what or who the threat was coming from until almost the end of the book. There is always an element of ‘suspend disbelief’ with these books simply because of the nature of the setting. Secret service, black ops, off the grid assassins and dodgy government dealings in any spy thriller always need an element of just letting it ride. This one is no different.

By, that’s not to say they’re too far fetched, they’re not, this kind of murky underworld does exist and I love how this author constantly finds new ways to hang her romances on it.

Nathan and Vincent were so good together, age gap romances are one of my favourite tropes, as are men figuring out their sexuality and coming to terms with loving another man. Vincent getting his second chance at love was also beautifully crafted.

I wish Sloane could clone herself to get out her books even faster than she already does. I can’t wait to read Everett, Gage and Nash’s story or to find out more about Reese and just who will be mending his broken world.

And, as always, I’ve never met a Jay Aheer cover I didn’t love and this one is no exception, she captures the passion of the story within perfectly.

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Fabulous exercise in how to write a submission romance

The Master Will AppearThe Master Will Appear by L.A. Witt

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

LA Witt is one of my favourite writers no matter which section of the MM genre she’s focussing on and this book is a stunning example of her BDSM work.

The BDSM in this book is light, it’s a Dom/sub pairing with some pain play but mostly it’s an exercise in how one man, taught his whole life that he’s worthless, can come to discover he’s the most precious thing in the world.

The fencing setting was also fabulous, as I actually have friends who fence for the British Olympic team and who train the British Paralympians, and it made a change from the normal mainstream sports setting.

I loved both Ryan and Misha, and their emotional and sexual connections were incredible, the Dom/sub scenes were sensual and the consensual ‘gang bang’ was blissfully erotic and never felt like porn.

This book also has a wonderful epilogue.

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New series starter is smoking hot

Depth of Field (Last Chance Book 1)Depth of Field by Riley Hart

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Gawd this book is hot and sensual and steamy and erotic and all the other words you associate with a brilliantly crafted sexual romance.

It’s also full of emotions and actual conversations and relatively low angst and a minor hiccup of misunderstanding which, for me anyway, didn’t work quite so well as the stumbling block to eternal happiness.

However, the resolution of said stumbling block was executed perfectly and without a load of unnecessary drama and I loved how Shane owned up to his fears and his deliberately destructive reaction.

There’s ancient hurts being healed, there’s an old time enemies to lovers and there’s some of the most beautifully written expressions of love I’ve read in a while.

This book, while it’s hot enough to melt the polar ice caps, also has so much romantic love running alongside it, that it makes reading it an absolute joy.

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Warning: Minor spoiler in this review

Enemy Within (The Executive Office #3)Enemy Within by Tal Bauer

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

OMG, oh my God people this book is beyond exceptional, it wraps up the trilogy in an almost perfect fashion but still leaves a hint behind that there could be more.

And believe me, I want more. Who are the missing clones, will Jack and Ethan head up the secret black ops department, will Sergey and Sasha get married, will Faisal become King with Adam by his side?! I NEED to know these things.

The tension and pacing throughout this book left me breathless. Who was going to be the other hidden traitor? I guessed rightly with one though as soon as I saw his name.

SPOILER ALERT: It was a really nerdy moment and a tribute to one of the greatest Star Trek mythologies ever. Once he arrived I knew there would have to be something going on, it’s a truly stand out name but the discovery of just what his role would be still surprised me and the cleverness of the plotting to get him to that point was superb.

I think I spent half this book praying the traitors wouldn’t be Scott, Levi, Welby, Doc, Colman, the press guys, Elizabeth, there were so many it would have killed me to read as a traitor. And it was still a shock when it came. And it came with such a vengeance, the tension jacked up to such a level I could actually feel my pulse racing.

I should also say that the amount of research and detailing which has gone into this book series is exemplary, it deserves a world of five stars on that basis alone but when added to the rest, it takes this book somewhere beyond just an enjoyable read and into the stratosphere.

I want to see these books on TV or the big screen, they have every single ingredient needed for a true blockbuster and hopefully one day, when the world catches up that love between two men is just as romantic and vital as a heterosexual pairing, we may just get it.

Bravo Tal for writing a trilogy of books which will forever sit on my must be read favourites shelf.

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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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