Best in the series for me and a passionate romance

Cover Up (Skin Deep Inc., #3)Cover Up by L.A. Witt

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is, in my opinion anyway, easily the best in the series with two characters who felt relatable and believable.

Nate has been on the periphery of the other two books in this series, he’s Jon’s best friend, his RIO (Radar Intercept Officer), his wingman, the guy who’s always had his back. At the end of book two, the reader was left with Nate’s discovery of his husband Caleb’s cheating and his 10-year marriage crashing around him.

Lucas was the new guy at Skin Deep, an expert at covering up other tattoos and, at 28, already divorced twice from impulsive relationships both as a teenager and at college. He’s struggling running two other jobs and his confidence has been knocked by a mistake he made freehanding a tattoo and not looking for anything when his and Nate’s worlds collide.

Now, a disclaimer here, I think LA Witt is one of the finest proponents of emotionally driven characters and her talent for writing sex scenes which bounce off the page with their chemistry isn’t matched by many, so this book was just my cup of tea.

The instant attraction between the two is palpable, you can feel it like a lightning strike and it’s a no brainer for them to fall into some hot sex. But, as the weeks go on, the hook-ups start to feel a bit more like friends-with-benefits and then the months lengthen out and everything slides a bit more into a relationship.

For both men there are unforeseen consequences. Lucas realises, as Nate’s tiger tattoo – the one his ex-husband also has – remains uncovered, that he’s become the crutch Nate’s using to avoid dealing with his pain and grief from the divorce and Caleb’s cheating.

Nate hurts Lucas, unintentionally, but it’s something which needed to happen because he realises he hasn’t dealt at all with the the end of his marriage and covering up his tattoo isn’t going to help at all. There some real conversation between Nate and his ex which allows him to realise that what he has with Lucas is even more precious to him and leaves him wondering how he’s going to fix things.

The ending is a sweet conclusion to what has been a slow and steady falling in love of two people who never set out with the intention of doing that. There is an honest expression of emotion and hopes for the future and we also see Colin and Daniel from book one concluding their HEA with a truly sweet proposal and wedding and expectations that both Jon and Matt, and Nate and Lucas, will be following them down their own HEA aisles in the not too distant future.

I don’t know if there are any other books planned in this series, there’s no obvious other characters to pick up the narrative, but I’ve enjoyed each one for different reasons.

#ARC received from the publishers via NetGalley in return for an honest and unbiased review

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Gentle pacing and lacking in angst equals a sweet romance

Maybe This TimeMaybe This Time by Annabelle Jacobs

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Just like her fellow West Country author Jay Northcote, there’s something about Annabelle Jacobs’ writing which speaks to me and I always enjoy her romances.

This one is no exception with two older MCs, one 30 and one 38, who almost accidentally fall into a friends with benefits relationship that slowly develops into more.

I loved both Matt and Ryan, neither of them were dramatically angsty, the majority of tension and conflict coming from Matt’s father’s frailties and his stubbornness over wanting a ‘proper’ relationship.

Ryan, having been burnt before with an FWB relationship, is keeping his feelings guarded but the way they slip I’ll not something more felt organic.

This book is also unashamedly British, another thing I love this author’s work for. We have bacon butties and brown sauce, copious cups of tea, drunken Friday nights with curry afterwards, fry ups for breakfast and Tesco Express (a supermarket mini-store for the non Brits).

Loved it. It only loses a star for being perhaps a bit too sweet and easy, not that I’d expect dramady just for the sake of it. But Matt’s turnaround was possibly a little quick.

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Sweet as spun sugar and a real pick me up tonic

Ready For Love (Semper Fi, The Forever Faithful, #1)Ready For Love by Stella Starling

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book is just candy kisses, spun sugar sweet and you know what, sometimes that’s all I want to read.

This spin off from the BeLoved a series is a delight as Brandon’s older brother Gabe gets his flirt on with Jake, the cute flight attendant from the first two books.

Gabe was clueless, his total lack of awareness that what he felt for Jake was more than just long term friendship had me smiling throughout this book.

Gabe was also hot as Hell and let’s just drop in wall sex here shall we?! That scene was jaw dropping and, for a first attempt at getting his gay on, just all ends up wow. I loved how Gabe just went for it without much angsty – except for the odd freak at demonstrating his relationship status – not his being with a man one.

There was a bit of non communication but not much and thankfully no misunderstandings. The tensions came from outside the romance element of the narrative.

And the epilogue, everything I want to read in a rom/com style setting, a huge public declaration of love in front of the world. Not something I’d be happy with in RL, but in my fiction, all the Hell yes’s!

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Loved this sweet and supportive romance

Out of the ShadowsOut of the Shadows by K.C. Wells

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

KC does sexy and downright dirty so well but she also has a real deft hand with the lighter touch and this latest addition to the Dreamspun Desires is on form.

Low on angst, low steam, high emotional connections, good romance and a supportive bunch of secondary characters make Out of the Shadows a really sweet read.

I felt for Christian but Josh proved to be the perfect foil to draw him back into the land of the living eight years after a horrific accident had left him isolated.

It’s perhaps a little bit long and didn’t need quite as much relationship build up before they got together, but I’m glad there was some good development as they moved from acquaintances to friends to lovers.

Most of the steamy stuff happens towards the end and is well done, with a lot of care given to show how Josh had helped Christian to see himself again.

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

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Much more rounded story than book one

Abel's Omega (Mercy Hills Pack #2)Abel’s Omega by Ann-Katrin Byrde

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This story was much more detailed and rounded out in comparison to the first one in the series. There was also a better paced narrative and more fleshing out of the world.

Bax and Abel made for a really sweet pairing, I felt their attraction to each other was given time to properly mature and there was a lot of good communication.
Most of the drama came from outside sources as Abel continued to change and challenge traditional things with his leadership of the Mercy Hills Pack.

I do like that these books don’t gloss over the mPreg element of the stories, the reader is given a ‘realistic’ alternative for birthing a shifter baby.

The more I read in this series, the more I like the setting.

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Great debut for this new partnership

Lost and Found (Twist of Fate, #1)Lost and Found by Lucy Lennox

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Being a massive fan of both these authors and knowing how different in style their books are, I was fascinated to see how they’d work together.

Well, the answer is very well indeed. Lucy’s humour and soft touch marries perfectly with the skill Sloane has for creating well crafted drama even in the most unlikely of settings.

Perhaps Xander held onto his grudge a little bit longer than was maybe needed and Bennett took little bit too long to cut ties with his reprehensible parents, but these are minor points in what was, overall, a very nice romance.

I’m not sure I needed Aunt Lolly to live at a nudist camp but I guess she’s following in the footsteps of the Made Marian series’ Aunt Tilly, Irene and Gran by being a feisty older lady.

There’s an interesting mix of secondary characters too that I’m looking forward to finding out more about too.

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More fun with this mismatched pack

The Sumage Solution (San Andreas Shifters, #1)The Sumage Solution by G.L. Carriger

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

These books are just plain fun, they’re an enjoyable romp through an alternative paranormal world where magical creatures live happily alongside humanity.

The first one in the series set up Biff’s brother founding the new pack and moving them to the West Coast where this tale now has them settling down and turning to find their way in their new home.

Biff bumps into ‘failed’ mage Max when he goes to register the new pack and all of a sudden it’s all systems go on him actually putting into practise his newly admitted status as a gay werewolf.

Biff is an absolute delight, he’s so sweet, gentle and caring even though he’s a piece of man muscle, as Max so eloquently describes him. Max has all sorts of hang ups and being able to trust someone isn’t even the hardest one.

Together they muddle through the triumphs and traumas of introducing a werewolf with brilliant self healing to the delights of gay sex (very hot), the acerbic wit of a man who might actually be the most powerful mage there’s been in an age and an overly protective pack.

In between they fight off baddies with an eye on the wreck of the house next door to Max’s where his father’s hidden secrets, a work colleague with relationship troubles and an overly harsh boss who might secretly be a bit of a softie really.

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