Tag Archives: potential triggers violence

Tal turns his hand to college age sports and knocks it out of the park

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The Jock by Tal Bauer

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I don’t know how he does it but it seems whatever he turns his hand to, Tal Bauer can produce a masterpiece of emotional turmoil which just ticks all my boxes and makes me happily raging!

This book sees him visiting college with a new age (21) pairing who really shouldn’t, on paper, have anything in common to connect them, other than their sexuality.

But from the moment Wes and Justin meet in Paris (my absolute favourite city, so this was a joy!) it’s obvious there is the potential for something special.

The thing which struck me most about this book is just how nailed on Tal gives the reader the unbelievable – and quite wrong – amount of pressure Wes is under as a closeted American Football college star with NFL prospects.

His coach piles it on, not maliciously, but it makes him live his life hiding a huge part until Paris and Justin. For the first time Wes meets someone he’d be willing to give it all up for.

Their romance is beautiful in its simplicity and its honesty, they fall fast and hard for each other but they’re also aware of the wider repercussions. At first Wes is willing to stay in the closet, and Justin is willing to live in the shadows.

***SPOILER***

But after the Coach’s responsibility speech, Wes worries about the threat of turmoil, exposure and potential danger to Justin if he comes out and he ends things.

This part of the book broke my heart as each of them suffers from the pain of losing the person you know you want to spend the rest of your life with.

There’s all kinds of sorrow and it’s intrinsically entwined with Wes’ college team’s success on the field, they’re storming their championship and scouts are calling for more than just Wes when it all comes crashing down.

And, at this point, speaking as an ex-journalist, can I just say how much I utterly despise scandal sheet reporting.

***END***

I’ve said in the past how much Tal’s books make me go OMG, so while I was expecting this book would be no different, I have to say I wasn’t prepared for the gut punch I felt when that moment happened.

It’s brutal and, sadly, all too common still even in this day. Wes’ life is upended and the consequences of him falling in love seem to be beyond repair.

However, as this is a Tal book, he somehow manages to draw all the broken pieces back together in a way which isn’t just relatable, but which feels honest and inevitable. The final few chapters are a hard fought for victory which makes it all the sweeter.

I’d have loved an Epilogue a few years down the line but, even though these two young men are only 21, their commitment and love is fixed so deep that you know it will last any challenges it faces.

Definitely one of my favourite books from Tal.

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

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Blog Tour: Taste of Fear by Davidson King

Taste of Fear | Davidson King

Joker’s Sin #4

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Release Date: March 8th, 2021

Universal Link: https://books2read.com/u/mgg9Bv

Add to Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/57175074-taste-of-fear

READ MY REVIEW

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Blurb

Ciro Navarro has never had it easy, but he learned to survive. Nightmares of a past he cannot erase plague him but thankfully, much of his horrible life is in the rearview mirror. He lives in the present, focusing on his found family, lifelong friends, and the job that fulfills him.

Ciro’s circle is small but tight; if you’re in it, you are his world. And somehow he’s become a rescuer—at the slightest hint someone he cares about is in trouble, he comes running.

After years of hard work and patience, Xander has fulfilled his goal and made a name for himself as a world-renowned chef. He lives his dream every day: cooking up and serving recipes that bring people joy. Though he has restaurants in several locations, it’s Haven Hart Xander calls home, and he can’t imagine settling anywhere else. Life is good. In fact, everything in Xander’s life is perfect…until people from his past start turning up dead.

When word of a serial killer hell-bent on ending Xander comes to light, Ciro’s instincts kick in and he vows to keep Xander, the sweet and humble man he finds himself gravitating toward, alive. The seriousness of what is happening rattles Xander, and he allows Ciro into his home to protect him. Close proximity heats things up and shows Ciro and Xander how much they’ve come to mean to each other, but the precautions they’ve taken may not be enough to keep them safe.

When the unthinkable happens, they are put to the test. Can Xander and Ciro survive the crazed serial killer who stands in the way of their forever?

TOF live teaser

Excerpt

I found myself wondering what he’d order as we walked up to the counter. What did a chef get at other food establishments? What kind of coffee?

When the woman asked what we’d like, I gestured for him to go first. “Hmm, maybe just a black coffee, medium, please.”

Black coffee? “You’re a monster,” I said, and he looked over at me with wide eyes.

“Pardon?”

“Black coffee? That’s not right, not at all.”

He chuckled. “And what is right?”

“I will have a hazelnut coffee, with hazelnut swirl, and cinnamon, large, please.” I quirked a brow at him after I ordered.

“No. Not even a little of that is right. All sugar.”

He moved down to the pickup area and I followed. “You’re a chef, you’re supposed to order things like truffle coffee with gold flecks of vanilla sprinkles or something.”

He laughed so loudly, the few people who were in the place turned toward us. “That’s such a stereotype.” He took his coffee when the woman handed it to him.

“But…black? It’s tasteless sad water.”

He shook his head, brought the cup to his lips, and sipped. “Mmm.”

Oh, shit. My mind was off coffee and on to how I liked the way he hummed.

“So good,” he said with a smile.

“No. I like my coffee happy.” I took my cup, dropped a tip for the barista on the counter, and moved toward the far booth. I sat, my back facing the wall so I could see all the comings and goings. Xander sat across from me.

“I remember about a month ago, Max, who works at Joker’s Sin with you, came into the restaurant to pick up an order. He was going through the carryout bag, and I asked him what he was looking for. He said he had to make sure the hollandaise sauce was in there, or ‘he’ would be upset.”

Oh, fuck… “Well, Max is weird, so.” I drank my coffee, hoping the conversation would drop.

“Are you the ‘he,’ Ciro?” He was enjoying this.

“How’s your sad coffee, Xander?”

He took another sip and smiled softly. We sat in companionable silence for a few minutes. I wanted to bring up what was going on, to ask what was so bad in his life that he had the HHPD as bodyguards, but he was so at ease, and I didn’t want the scared man I’d seen earlier to return.

“Go ahead and ask.” Xander looked at me, worry marring his beautiful face.

I took a deep breath and asked, “Who wants to hurt you, and why?”

About the Author

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Davidson King always had a hope that someday her daydreams would become real-life stories. As a child, you would often find her in her own world, thinking up the most insane situations. It may have taken her awhile, but she made her dream come true with her first published work, Snow Falling.

She managed to wrangle herself a husband who matched her crazy and they hatched three wonderful children.

If you were to ask her what gave her the courage to finally publish, she’d tell you it was her amazing family and friends. Support is vital in all things and when you’re afraid of your dreams, it will be your cheering section that will lift you up.

Linktree: https://linktr.ee/davidsonkingauthor

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A satisfying end to this series from Davidson King

57175074._SY475_Taste of Fear by Davidson King

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Haven Hart spin-off comes to a close with Ciro’s romance, and it’s an interesting one.

What I’ve really loved about all of this author’s books is that her characters aren’t ambiguous about the fact they’ve done bad things.

Whether that’s as a crime boss, an assassin, or, like Ciro, whose past involves dodgy contracts while serving his country.

When he gets caught up in a threat, through mutual friendship with local chef Xander Vayne, he’s not expecting to find a man he’s willing to die – or kill – for.

The suspense element of this one was a lot less involved in ‘mystery’ than others in the series. The likely perpetrator isn’t a secret.

Here the tension is built by a slow dragging of time as he picks off other chefs from Xander’s past.

Because of that, I didn’t have the same racing heart as the conclusion approached.

That’s not to say it wasn’t still an adrenaline packed race to rescue Xander from the clutches of the madman and I think it was handled perfectly.

I definitely had zero issues with quite how Ciro brought the situation to a Close and I was very happy to see Riordan on hand to help out.

I’m sad this is the end of this wee series and I’m very much looking forward to Davidson King’s next book, which all about Manos crime boss Christopher’s nephew Simon.

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

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