Tag Archives: slow burn

This slow burn workplace romance has great depth

Undone coverUndone by Christina Lee

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Not going to lie, I struggled at times with this one because I didn’t really care about one of the MCs for at least the first quarter of the book.

I simply couldn’t get my head around why Shae would fall for Rowan at all and, unfortunately, only getting one POV from Shae didn’t help much in giving any kind impression of his pretty crappy a*hole of a boss.

Shae was fun from the off though, and he kept me reading when I wanted to put the book down and give up.

I also had faith in Christina Lee as an author because I’ve generally always enjoyed her stories and I knew she’d have a plan in hand to make me change my mind about Rowan.

And, as the story progressed, we get glimpses of the real Rowan, hiding behind his cold and aloof personality and you start to get snippets of information which reveals the hurt and the heavy walls he’s put up to protect himself.

One of the things I did love about this book from the beginning though was the depth of information Christina gives about the stylist career, something she knows plenty about, having been one herself in New York.

This brought a huge sense of realism to the day to day activities and banter going on between Shae, Rowan and their celebrity client Kendall. Who I also absolutely loved. She was such a warm and caring personality and it was her interventions and conversations with Shae that let him see behind Rowan’s barricades to the vulnerable man underneath.

There’s very much a slow burn vibe with this book, it’s not overly steamy – which works beautifully for the narrative – and I very much appreciated the step away from the traditional top/bottom roles as Rowan is a side (someone who doesn’t like penetration).

Christina also writes superb first kisses and this book’s one is no exception, it’s a truly tender moment where Rowan allows his guard to be broken.

Overall I had a positive experience once I’d got over the first quarter hurdle of really not liking Rowan’s attitude and the final part of the book, through the Third Act tension/break-up moment and into the HEA, was really well done.

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

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Release Blitz: The Rest of the Story by Tal Bauer

The Rest of the Story | Tal Bauer

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Release Date: January 8th, 2023

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The Rest of the Story cover

Blurb

Let me earn it.

I keep things simple. I’m a classic one-night wonder. Relationships? Are you out of your mind? No. No way. Not interested. My heart is vulcanized rubber, puck hard, and that’s the way I like it.

Then I’m traded to the absolute worst team in the NHL, the Rocky Mountain Outlaws, and I’m hit with a one-two punch.

First: I’m asked to step up and lead the team, which is every kind of bad idea you can imagine. I’m a head-down, mind-my-business kind of guy. Mr. Uninvolved, Mr. No, Not Me, Mr. Find Someone Else. But these players have been through a mess of hell, and someone thinks I can help pull them together.

The Outlaws are made up of jaded veterans and wide-eyed rookies, and we have no business whatsoever succeeding. We are scrappy and plucky and built out of spit and duct-tape… and whatever we’re doing, it’s working.

Second: The first day I’m in Boulder, I go over the boards and come face-to-face with a pair of blue eyes and lose my heart. Boy, howdy: meet my new co-captain, Shea Darling.

He’s way, way off-limits. It’s a stratospherically terrible idea to want or crave him. This crush, this infatuation, is going nowhere fast.

Yeah, right. I’m gone for Shea. I’m head over heels, and I’m all tangled up in something I can’t understand or control. This isn’t me. I don’t fall in love. And there’s nothing simple about Shea, or about the Outlaws. This team is finally putting up the wins, and we are making something of ourselves. Falling for my co-captain while we’re on a Cinderella run could jeopardize everything we’re striving for.

But then there’s this one night.
And this one kiss.
And everything changes.

Eighty-two games in a season.
Twenty men hungry for redemption.
One co-captain who could be my forever.

This is the rest of the story.

*****

The Rest of the Story is a friends-to-lovers, hockey players/teammates MM romance, and includes themes of survivorship.

The Rest of the Story is set in the same universe as Gravity, but each novel can be read independently. You do not need to read Gravity first to enjoy The Rest of the Story.

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Excerpt

We picked up a win in Tampa and got to enjoy an off day before our flight home. Snow was already falling on the peaks in Colorado, but Tampa Bay was eighty-five degrees and drenched with sunshine. We hit the beach.

It was a postcard day. Waves shimmering like scattered diamonds, the surf playing peekaboo with the nearly ice-white sand. I plopped my ass on my towel, buried my toes, and listened to the waves… and the sounds of my team, roughhousing in the shallows, shit talking their way through a beach volleyball game, and then deciding it would be a fucking brilliant idea to rent Jet Skis and race each other around the bay.

I lay back, ready to blank out my mind and replace everything in my skull with sunshine and indulgence. Float around on my subconscious, daydream the afternoon away.

A body thudded onto a towel beside me, wet enough to flick damp seawater across my chest and kick sand over my calves. I rolled, glowered, ready to unburden my substantial irritation at my intruder—

Shea—shirtless, in low-slung board shorts that barely clung to his hips, water dripping down his skin—was propped on one elbow and grinning. “Hi.”

I couldn’t have told you my name with a gun to my head. Every thought had been replaced with him, with the way seawater was moving down his clavicles, with how the sun was already bringing out hidden freckles across his chest. His long legs were lazily crossed, toes tickling the sand, and his hair was finger-combed back from his face. Miles of hockey-player-pale skin was on display. It was almost lewd, lascivious, even, how he’d show the world how gorgeous he was. Were other people as stunned, as speechless, as absolutely bamboozled as I was? Was he causing traffic accidents on the road fronting the beach? What if someone drowned because a lifeguard couldn’t tear his eyes away from the happy trail escaping down Shea’s abdomen and disappearing beneath the shoelace tie of his board shorts? Jesus, one tug of that lace and God’s gift was on display.

I exhaled, grunted some kind of vocalization, my wonderful way with words really coming in clutch. He kept right on grinning, head tilted and resting on his shoulder, his eyes hidden behind sexy little mirror aviators. It should be fucking illegal to smile like that, looking like that.

I hadn’t dressed to impress on this beach trip. My own board shorts were probably ten years old, stamped with big, bold hibiscus flowers in a gaudy tropical print. And no one who looked at me—broad, furred chest scattered with old scars, a layer of padding around my middle that made me “stocky”—was going to be singing hallelujahs or crashing their car in wide-eyed delight.

Why was he here? I found my tongue and kick-started my frontal lobes. Put words in order. Breathe in and out. My standards for getting through the next few minutes were not high. I wasn’t sure I could meet them. “Uhh, you’re not— You’re not going with—” Down the beach, we heard the roar of engines and the high-pitched laughter of Logan and Brody.

“Nah.” Shea flopped back, threw his arms over his head. I could trace his biceps and his forearms into the sand with my fingers, create a perfect outline of him. “You have the right idea,” he said on a sigh. “This is perfect.”

Sure, perfect for him. But now there was a marching band in my chest, fireworks blazing beneath my skin, and big ol’ bongo drums and shimmy-shimmy tambourines going wild inside my skull. Plus, I needed a moment and some deep breathing exercises. Certain things had to calm down.

There went my afternoon of not thinking about Shea.

About The Author

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Tal Bauer writes breath-taking, heartfelt, and often action-packed gay romance novels. His characters are head over heels for each other, and fight against all odds for their happy ending.

Nothing stands in the way of love. Tal is best known for his romantic suspense novels, including the Executive Office series, The Murder Between Us, The Night Of, and his MM sports romance, The Jock.

Visit Tal at www.talbauerwrites.com and on Facebook or BookBub today.

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Tal delivers a powerful story about hope and love

The Rest of the Story coverThe Rest of the Story by Tal Bauer

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

So, so good!

Tal Bauer owes me another four hours sleep because, as I read this relatively low angst (as in there’s not loads of whinging whining!), but still with its own heart-breaking moments romance, I just knew he was going to lay down a gut punch which would totally blindside me.

And he did, waaaaaaaaay past the usual 75% break-up/Third Act crisis point comes a crashing blow which you never see coming and I couldn’t even be mad with him, because it completely fits within the narrative.

You’ll get no spoilers here, but it’s not dramady, it’s not Tal throwing in something just to raise the tension stakes. It feels wholly believable and it’s an earned part of the plot which rocks your very core.

However, this is also Tal Bauer, so happy ending absolutely guaranteed and how he brings around that resolution is an incredible piece of writing that drags on every tender part of your soul and makes you wish with every breath of your body as he mends what was broken and turns it into something beautiful.

Rather like the Japanese art of Kintsugi.

Before that he’s given us a tale of so many emotions. Those of an ice hockey team which has not only hit rock bottom, but plummeted beyond the surface and into a cave of despair. Those of a jobbing player who’s hit his 30s and knows he’s reaching the end and those of a young gun, a 24-year-old rookie who’s holding on to every bit of hope he can.

This is a romance about hope, about opportunities which open where you’d never expect them. It’s about finding strength in the hidden places. It’s about love, oh boy is it about love.

And not just romantic love. It’s about families, both those made in blood and bones and those created in the molten fire of an ice hockey dressing room and out on the arena. It’s about making promises and then doing whatever it takes to make that future happen.

It’s a barnstormer of a book and I fell head over heels for every single person – bar one! – who appears within its pages.

And I want my four hours of sleep back please Tal Horatio Nelson Bauer!

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

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