Deal Maker

Deal Maker by Lily Morton

5 stars! 

“My Jude. My best friend, my lover and my heart.” 

This book made me swoon! And I don’t friggin swoon!!!

Jude is a reluctant model, working the career because it pays well. When his apartment gets flooded, he needs a place to stay other than the sex filled apartment of his best friend. A fellow model gives him a tip, leading Jude to actor Asa.

Asa loathes models, everything they stand for. So when he takes Jude in he makes it clear he thinks Jude is dumb and self involved because of his profession. So Jude decides to make it interesting and plays along, fully intending to make Asa’s life hell…..

“Everyone is entitled to love who they want, and people aren’t weird just because of who they love. No one is weird.” 

After really enjoying Rule Breaker last year, I knew I wanted to read Jude’s story. And wow, personally I think Lily Morton outdid herself! While my tastes run toward angsty, I fell in love with this sweet and swoon-worthy story. Jude and Asa were amazing together, I had a constant smile on my face when reading this book.

Lily Morton is an author I will be automatically one clicking in the future. If you love MM romance you need to start reading her books ASAP!

“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.” 

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Down by Contact

Down by Contact by Santino Hassell

4 stars! 

“It was perfect. He was perfect. We were perfect together.” 

Adrian and Simeon are enemies on rival football teams. They snark at each other during games, call each other out on social media and can’t stand the sight of each other. Simeon is a openly gay football player and Adrian seems to be anti-gay. When the two of them get into trouble on the field they are forced to spend time together working for a charity, where they both learn there is more to the other than they originally thought.

“All this time, I’d not only been starving for his body—I’d been deprived of his kisses. Now I couldn’t get enough. 

Santino Hassell became one of my all time favorite authors very quickly this past year. A very talented writer, he never delivers the same story twice and never the same character twice. That’s what I love about his books, they always bring something new to the table. Football isn’t my sports romance genre of choice usually but I that didn’t even cross my mind when reading this book, the game was important but it also didn’t overwhelm the story which I appreciate.

Simeon and Adrian were both such amazing characters, I loved both in different ways and for different reasons. While they may have started out hating each other, I loved being on the journey of understanding and acceptance with them and thought they had a very beautiful love story.

“I need you to tell me I won’t ruin your career by being in your life. Because no matter how hard I try to be discreet, I know somehow . . . I’ll screw it up. ’Cause that’s me, boo. I’m a mess. A loveable mess, but still a goddamn mess.” 

ARC provided by the publisher via netgalley. All/any quotes in this review came from an advance unedited copy and may be subject to change in the final product. 

The Queen & the Homo Jock King

The Queen & the Homo Jock King by TJ Klune

3.75 stars 

This is TJ Klune at his funniest! This book had me bursting out laughing and then taking snapshots of the kindle screen and sending it to my friends!

A very unconventional love story, I think the only other drag queen romance I’ve ever read was Painted Faces by LH Cosway and that was verrryyy different from this one.

Other than really loving it, I had some issues with it. For one, I was dying for the romance between Sandy and Darren and what we got with this book was a book about Sandy and everyone BUT Darren which was a tad disappointing. I wanted to see more of the two of them together. And sometimes it was a bit over the top with shenanigans that completely wiped out the plot of the book. Hence why I am giving this 3.75 stars and not a higher rating…

But still a very solid and funny book. Klune is an excellent writer and I am excited to read more by him in the near future.

Tell Me It’s Real

Tell Me It’s Real by TJ Klune

This gets 5 stars because it make me LAUGH. Like so hard!!! In places you shouldn’t laugh out loud, like public!!!! That and it’s one of the best books I’ve read in a long time.

TJ Klune is an author I have come to love and reading more of his work just showed me what a talented author he is. He can write funny, he can write serious, he can write steamy. He just never fails to disappoint! Next time I am in a massive book slump again, I am turning to his books for help.

Tell Me It’s Real has possibly one of the worst book covers ever, which is why I’ve waited so long to read it. But this is one of those books where you have to look past the awful cover to get to the amazing inside of the book. Paul is a husky guy, insecure and settled in his life. Until he meets the stunningly beautiful Vince who is interested in Paul right away. Except Paul thinks Vince is playing a joke on him, never thinking Vince could be actually interested.

Loved this book, obviously from my 5 star rating. Again, it had me laughing out loud in public, a rare feat for me as I try to remain stoic when reading. I highly recommend this book!

Off Base

Off Base by Annabeth Albert

3.5 stars 

I’ve been seeing lots of goodreads friends reading this series and I wanted to see what the fuss was about. Lots of mixed reviews on this first book, but I am excited to read more in this series, it seems to get better.

Off Base is about closeted Navy Seal Zack and young professor Pike. The two know each other through personal friends and under random circumstances the two become roommates. The attraction has always been there, but Zack doesn’t want to admit he likes men and Pike is not eager to be some man on the down low. But living in close quarters means things are bound to explode.

I really enjoyed this story, it’s one that got better as you kept reading. The beginning was a bit jarring because the characters were kind of thrown at us and together really quickly, a bit too quickly in my opinion. But once they were together the book really worked and I started to like the characters a bit more.

I’m definitely eager to read the other books in the series, this was a cute start but I felt like I needed to have read other books by this author first to understand some of the characters. Like I was missing something.

Lovers Like Us

Lovers Like Us by Krista & Becca Ritchie

3.5 stars 

I always have the hardest time writing 3 star reviews. The book didn’t suck, but it also wasn’t amazing either. Let me put it this way, I started reading this book when it came out on Halloween, and only just now finished it right before Christmas. I liked it enough to finish, but not enough to read in one sitting.

KB Ritchie are among my favorite authors, in fact I think this is the lowest rating I have ever given their books. So while I enjoyed this book to some extent, I am also a bit sad because usually they are 4 or 5 star authors for me.

Lovers Like Us is the second book in the Like Us trilogy, and I really loved the first book but this one dragged on a bit and was very confusing at times. I honestly couldn’t remember everyone’s names in all the extended family and bodyguards, so it was hard for me to assign a look or a personality for each character. There were so many! It felt like work and I read for pleasure, I don’t want it to be work. Opposite of that, I am in love with the Cobalt children and will continue reading this series solely for Jane’s book and for Charlie’s if they come along in the future. Charlie wormed his anti-hero self into my heart and I am dying for that man’s book!

What saved this book for me was the last 40% picked up a lot, whereas the first 60% was slow for me. Lots of banter, staring, not admitting things to each other. It didn’t click with my reading tastes. I wanted a more plot heavy story and got a more dialogue driven one.

As I said I still love the Ritchies and will read anything they read. These are two authors who I wholeheartedly believe need a lot more recognition in the romance and book world. I just won’t be jumping on Alphas Like Us like I normally would a KB Ritchie book.

Citywide

Citywide by Santino Hassell

Full disclosure, I only read Rerouted. Before all of you jump on me, I am allowed to read what I want to read, and I honestly was only interested in Chris, Jace and Aiden. Not that I have to justify my reading choices to anyone, but I have no desire to read the other two novellas because those characters don’t call to me.

That being said, I LOVED Rerouted. I could read about these three men for, well, forever. I wish they had their own full length novel. It’s about Chris, a bisexual man who finds himself as the extra to a married gay couple Jace and Aiden. Jace and Aiden have been together 20 years and are polyamorous, but lately they only want one man to make them a trio. When a blackout leaves the three of them stuck together, it’s up to the couple to convince Chris he’s perfect for them.

As I said before, I loved this story. Chris I wanted to hug the entire time, I understood all of his insecurities and where he is coming from. It’s easy to want him to fall into his happily ever after, but some things needed to be worked out and I think Hassell did a great job of covering all those issues.

Citywide can technically be read as a standalone, but I think maybe you should read Third Rail a short story first to get some background.

Autoboyography

Autoboyography by Christina Lauren

4 stars! 

“His smile ruins me.” 

This book follows Tanner, an eighteen year old bisexual Jewish kid who moves from liberal Palo Alto to the mormon town Provo, Utah when he was fifteen. His parents ask him to go back into the closet fearing the community won’t accept him. And he does, for three years. But then he meets his new TA Sebastian, the son of the local Bishop. And it doesn’t take long for him to fall completely in love.

“Love fails for a million reasons – distance, infidelity, pride, religion, money, illness. Why is this story any more worthy?
It felt like it was. It felt important. Living in this town is suffocating in so many ways.
But if a tree falls in the woods, maybe it makes no sound.
And if a boy falls for the bishop’s closeted son, maybe it makes no story.” 

This book struck close to home. I’ve been thinking a lot before writing this review because I don’t want to offend anyone with it, so let me be clear. I am a fairly liberal person, and I am not a fan of any organized religion. While I grew up in Southern California, there is a small Mormon community in my home town. I grew up with Mormon kids who I knew were gay, that almost everyone knew were gay and yet they couldn’t admit it (and I know because they later came out after high school). I remember when Prop 8 happened, one of those kids kicking a sign his own father had put on his lawn. It’s something I’ll never forget. To me, love is love, and as long as no one is hurting anyone, everything is okay. So when reading this book, a lot of this was going through my head. Now this isn’t to say I hate Mormons or organized religion, but it’s difficult for me to accept something that doesn’t promote love.

Off my pedestal now, this was an amazing love story. Knowing up front what Tanner and Sebastian face, you can predict what challenges they would face. But this book wasn’t predictable, and I was rooting for these two boys the entire time. I think this is a book that teens need and I wish we had when I was a teen. I highly recommend this book and I hope you give it a chance.

“I don’t actually care if you break my heart, Sebastian. I went into this knowing it could happen and I gave it to you anyway. But I don’t want you to break your own. You have so much space in your heart for your church, but does it have space for you?” 

Third Rail

Third Rail by Santino Hassell

4.5 stars! 

I love love love the five boroughs series by Santino Hassell! This threesome of characters, Jace, Chris and Aiden are among my favorites, I’ll read anything about them. Honestly I wish there was like a 500 page book about them, but I’m just plain greedy. Third Rail is a collection of short stories about them in chronological order, because they get another story in Hassell’s Citywide coming out November 2017.

This book was HOT. I mean, Santino’s books always are. But an MMM threesome? Yeah. Enough said.

I believe this can be read as a standalone, other characters are mentioned but it’s not confusing. This book should also be free, so grab it while you can!

An ARC was provided in exchange for an honest review

Third Rail Release Blitz and Excerpt

Third Rail (Five Boroughs):

Christopher Mendez has always known his sexual identity had a swerve. No straight guy would have low-key lusted after his childhood best friend, right? Unfortunately, a combination of insecurity and overall lack of game has prevented him from further exploring his sexuality. That changes once he agrees to participate in a photoshoot for a queer dating app and meets Jace Fairbairn.

 

Jace is beautiful, fey-like, and in an open polyamorous relationship with his gorgeous linebacker-looking husband Aiden. Once they set eyes on Chris, they’re instantly in lust and determined to broaden his sexual horizons. But what’s supposed to be a straight-forward sexual encounter gets complicated once a one-night-stand has repeat performances, and Jace and Aiden begin to fall in love.

 

This collection of shorts explores the start of a relationship that eventually blossoms into something the three men realize they cannot do without.

 

THIRD RAIL releases on 10/25/2017. It will be FREE at all major retailers.

 

Links: https://www.books2read.com/u/4Awv5qhttp://santinohassell.com/books/

 

Subgenres: queer contemporary romance in the Five Boroughs universe.

 

Excerpt:

We took the train into Queens, which surprised me. I had it in my head that people like Aiden, who were in the same category as Caleb, Ashton, and Meredith, took cabs or slick town cars everywhere. My rich people hookup fantasy was shattered once he led me to the subway with the rest of the suckers.

“This would have been way cooler if you’d had a car downstairs waiting for us,” I confided as we descended the steps to the subway. “Like you in your suit and me with my fifty-pound backpack getting in a black Lincoln. That would have been tight as fuck.”

Aiden slipped his Metro Card from his pocket, snickering. “What, you thought this was some Fifty Shades of Queer set up?”

“Yup. Do you have a play room?”

“My entire apartment is a play room, bro. Have you met my husband? We don’t exactly keep it to one location in the house.”

“Good for you. I’m lucky if I get any action in my own damn bed with my right hand.”

We walked towards the E train, our conversation lost in the rush of bodies moving around us. He could have started describing exactly what they did in every corner of their place and nobody around us would have given a single fuck. But that was New York for you, and it was why I loved it.

 

 

About Santino Hassell:

 

Santino Hassell was raised by a conservative family but grew up to be a smart-mouthed, school cutting grunge kid, a transient twenty-something, and eventually transformed into a grumpy introvert and unlikely romance author with an affinity for baseball caps. His novels are heavily influenced by the gritty, urban landscape of New York City, and his desire to write relationships fueled by intensity and passion.

 

He’s been a finalist in both the Bisexual Book Awards and the EPIC Awards, and was nominated for a prestigious RITA award in 2017. His work has been featured in BuzzFeed, Huffington Post, Washington Post, RT Magazine, and Cosmopolitan Magazine.

 

Connect with Santino: Website | Twitter | Instagram | FB Group | FB | GR | Tumblr

Michael’s Wings

Micheal’s Wings by Tiffany Reisz

4 stars

Michael and Griffin are my favorite couple from the Original sinners series, and The Angel my favorite book. So when I saw they were getting their own collection of stories I jumped on that so fast! This was a great glimpse back into this world, a new original stories and if I am correct 5 previously published short stories about this couple all in one volume. If these men were real, I would love to be the F in their MFM sandwich!

I adore them, thank you for giving us more of them Tiffany!

ARC provided by publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review 

Axios

Axios by Jaclyn Osborn

5 stars! 

“Our lives may take us to unexpected places and it might alter many a things, but I will forever be yours.” 

I’ve been needing an epic romance, and who knew I’d get it from an author I’d never read or heard of before? High five to Arabella for the spot on book recommendation. Axios is the story of two Spartan soldiers (Eryx and Axios), who from a very young age they were trained to kill, always knowing they would live their lives fighting wars.

Eryx is loyal to the Spartan lifestyle because of the sins of his father, while Axios has a harder time adjusting. From childhood to adulthood the two are inseparable, best friends and then lovers, finding comfort in each other’s arms. In a land where feelings are viewed as weak, the two develop a strong relationship. But as war approaches, fear infiltrates them, for one cannot live without the other

“Know what I see? I see someone who is kind and who stops to see the beauty of the world. Someone who likes to watch the birds fly in the sky, wondering where they go… wondering what it’s like to soar amongst the clouds. I see an intelligent mind who ponders what makes the sky blue and where the sun goes at night. But mostly… I see my truest companion.” 

I really loved this book, I felt it was exactly the epic romance I needed to break me out of my book funk. Seriously, this is going under one of the best books of 2017! This book reminds me a lot of The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller, in fact I think super fans of that book may have a hard time with this one because they are so similar. But this was filled with romance, longing, and angst and was just completely perfect for me.

I loved both of the main characters, Axios is a gentle soul thrown into a harsh world. The only thing that gets him through it is Eryx and his desire to be strong for him. Through harsh conditioning Axios becomes harder, but still has the soft and kind soul beneath. Eryx on the outside doesn’t show his emotions as much, we really only see them when he’s with Axios. But he loves Axios with all his heart and will do anything for him, even when it goes against what he truly believes in.

This book is a historical romance and I think the author did really well. There was never really a moment where I was reading and thought “that would never happen” and I was amazed by this. She stayed true to the story and the setting and backdrop only accentuated the love story and made it that much better.

If you’re a fan of epic romance this is the book for you! It flowed across my mind so smoothly and gave me so many feels. I’m going to be dreaming of this couple, I just know it!

PS: sorry to all the friends I’ll be badgering to read the book. It’s a condition of my friendship 😛

“I will kill any man and turn the whole world to ash for you, my warrior. I fear neither battle nor death, but I fear the day you are not by my side. Never question where my heart lies, because it is forever yours. In this life and the next.” 

Illegal Contact

Illegal Contact by Santino Hassell

4.5 stars! 

“I’m your boss. You’re my assistant. We’re not anything else.” 

Gavin Brawley is one of the NFL’s biggest players, and after an assault charge he’s been confined to his home for six months, monitored by an ankle bracelet. Being benched means Gavin needs to hire an assistant to manage his entire life, something he’s not exactly happy about.

Noah Monroe is in desperate need of a job, after him and his father lost theirs they need to make ends meet. The last thing Noah wants is to be a PA to a cranky NFL player, but despite his reservations, he takes the job.

Tension is high between the two of them, and things don’t start off smooth. But the more time they spend with each other, the better it gets until a tentative friendship and mutual respect is formed.

“Better to have an insolent nerd with no interest in football than a kiss-ass fan who will tell all to all their friends.” 

Illegal Contact is the sports romance you’ve been waiting for! Football is never my first choice (like ever), so I was surprised when I ended up loving this football romance. Well, I shouldn’t have been because Santino Hassell is everything that’s good in the MM romance genre. The voice he gives to his characters is so strong, Noah and Gavin felt like real people to me, one’s I could turn my head and talk to.

This is an I hate you/I love you kind of romance. The beginning starts out with much badgering and barb trading, but I loved the journey from dislike to mutual admiration. They always say there’s a thin line between love and hate and this book encapsulates that phrase excellently. I loved Noah and Gavin equally, neither one of them got on my nerves at any point and I was rooting for them both to get what they want.

This is the next big series in MM romance, so you’d be an idiot not to pick up this book!

“You are trustworthy. And I’m tired of always hiding.” 

ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review 

Concourse

Concourse by Santino Hassell

3 stars 

“There’s not always weakness in forgiveness.” 

I had read a lot of mixed reviews on Val’s an Ashton’s story, so I went in with low expectations and an open mind. And while I didn’t love it, I did enjoy these two characters.

Concourse is the story of gay instagram star Ashton, or A Town. Known for being a partier and slutty after a sex tape from his youth. Val’s mom used to work for Ashton’s family, so the two boys grew up together and formed a special bond. Constantly in and out of each other’s lives, the two begin spending more time together, and feelings get mixed.

I wanted to like this book a lot, I really did. But if there’s one thing I hate, it’s wishy washy characters and both Val AND Ashton fit the bill. Well it also didn’t help that the first 20% of the book all that seemed to happen was the characters driving around and just kind of not doing much. The plot didn’t move forward at all until 50% in.

I liked Val and Ash as individuals, it was their actions toward each other that drove me crazy. I would liken this couple/book to Hard Wired by Megan & Santino, and Rowdy by Jay Crownover. By this I mean when one character finally made up their mind about what they wanted, the other character starts to backtrack. IT’S SO FRUSTRATING!!! And not in an angsty good way.

I really liked the self journey Ashton went on to improve his quality of life and to give a good impact in the world. Val’s journey was more about giving up on old things that didn’t seem to matter anymore, just letting go.

I still love Santino, I’ll read anything the man writes. This one just wasn’t a winner for me.

First and First

First and First by Santino Hassell

5 stars! 

“There’s not one way to to live or to love, and whoever tries to tell you any different will probably be dead in a decade or two anyway, so screw them!” 

Santino Hassell has easily become one of my favorite authors in the last year, and it’s because he delivers amazing books like this one! First and First is everything I never knew I wanted.

First and First is about Caleb, a thirty six year old former CFO having trouble finding himself after losing his ex to another man. Oli is a programer whose sex life is open and adventurous. On New Year’s Eve at a party, the two ending up spending a night of mind blowing sex with each other, spinning Caleb’s world and causing him to rethink who he’d always assumed he was.

It’s clear that Oli is not up for a relationship, but Caleb finds more and more often they are spending time together. Oli encourages Caleb to be more free with how he is, yet Caleb still struggles with anxiety at points. A companionship forms, but Caleb knows not to expect anything from Oli….. but should he?

“I said I wasn’t your Prince Charming. You don’t enjoy being banged like a ragdoll because I pranced into your life. You didn’t discover hot sex just because I happen to exist. I don’t want you thinking of me as your savior. As someone you’re beholden to because now you know what you like. You told me what to do that night. You were just drunk enough to stop caring about what I would think of you.” 

I loved this book, if the 5 star rating isn’t clear enough. I love the way Hassell writes, how his characters are flawed and yet so lovable. Caleb at many points in this book spoke to my heart, his struggles with anxiety, his self doubt. After spending so many years hiding what he was it made him insecure, which affected his relationships and his sex life because he never learned how to be himself until now.

Oli is a bit of a mystery, I really liked him for David, but without dual POV it was difficult to gage what he was feeling and thinking. Our perspective was only what Caleb saw, and at times what Caleb thought about Oli instead of Oli himself.

Lately I tend to not enjoy books with erotic tones because I feel there is more sex than plot: Santino’s books are the exception to this because he gives readers an amazing combo of hot and plot every single damn time. It’s like the perfect recipe for my reading tastes, the best of both worlds.

This book can be read as a standalone, it features characters from the two previous novels. So while you can read it as a standalone, I do recommend that you maybe consider reading book 2, as those characters are in this a bit more and it could help with context.

An amazing read, I stayed up until 2 am to finish it. I cannot wait to devour more of Santino Hassell’s books.

“But regardless of what you think of yourself, when I look at you, I see someone beautiful. Someone who makes me insane, because all I can fucking think about is touching you. Being close to you. Being inside you. And there’s a reason for that, baby.”