Category Archives: New Release

5 Star Review for Your Name In Lights (Love’s Encore #2) by Miranda MacLeod #FF #Romance

CoverTitle: Your Name In Lights (Love’s Encore #2)
Author Name & Publisher: Miranda MacLeod (Apple Blossom Press)
Publication Date & Length: June 28, 2016 – 224 pgs

Synopsis

Your Name In Lights picks up where A Road Through Mountains ended. Minor spoilers ahead!

After eighteen years, the stars may have finally aligned to give Cecily and Rorie a second chance at happiness together. The trouble with stars, though: they don’t stay aligned for long.

As Cecily settles into her life in sunny California, she imagines her biggest challenge will be learning to navigate her new reality as a divorced mother and publicly out lesbian. The last thing she expects is to land the acting role of a lifetime, far away from the loving support of her girlfriend and teenage son.

As disappointed as Rorie is at the prospect of a long distance relationship, she can’t dwell on it for long. It’s hard enough stepping in as a surrogate parent when Cecily’s son arrives for college while she’s away. But when a woman claiming to be her long lost mother appears, and may not be all she seems, Rorie knows she needs Cecily to come home soon.

Despite time, distance, and some very persistent paparazzi, Cecily and Rorie have found in each other a love to last a lifetime, but only if they can survive the dual pressures of fame and family.

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Review
FiveStarsThis second instalment of Rorie and Cecily’s trilogy was not a disappointment . Having read the first book and loved it I had high hopes for this one.  Cecily moves
to Southern California to start a new life and be with Rorie. Her wish to learn to be independent causes a few problems for her though and she finds out its not easy living only on a pay check. Seeing how her career developed was fascinating and although it led to some separation from Rorie it was something she needed to do. The other characters around them were really well written and allowed facets of their personalities and relationship to come to the fore. I especially liked Rorie’s group of lesbian friends and their little side bets.
The love story was of course integral to the book and it was both beautiful and very sexy. I’m glad Miranda Macleod let us see that love doesn’t always run smoothly but needs work and time. Rorie’s past regarding her parents was a brilliant addition and it was at times heart- wrenching.  I was surprised at how affected I was by this part of the story.
Another winner and I can’t wait for the final instalment!
Kitty Kat

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TWO 5 Stars for Welcome to the Wallops (The Wallops #1) by Gill McKnight #FF #Romance

CoverTitle: Welcome to the Wallops (The Wallops #1)
Author Name & Publisher: Gill McKnight (Yiva Publishing)
Publication Date & Length: June 29, 2016 – 242 pgs

Synopsis

The villages of High Wallop and Lesser Wallop have graced either end of the Wallop valley since medieval times. And competition between the two has never ceased since, especially over the famous Cheese and Beer festival.
As head Judge of Show, Jane Swallow has always struggled to keep peace, friendship, and equanimity within the community she loves, but this year everything is wrong. Her father has just been released from prison and is on his way to Lesser Wallop with the rest of her travelling family and their caravans.
Her job is on the line, and her ex-girlfriend from a million years ago has just moved in next door.
Her life is going down the drain unless she can pull off some sort of miracle.

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Review
FiveStarsI absolutely love The Wallops. Gill McKnight has managed to dream up a village full of characters I can believe in and want more of. Jill is strong, caring and goes way beyond the call of duty. When her ex Renata turns up she is thrown off kilter and old feelings threaten to change the idyllic life she has made for herself. Their very complicated relationship is only part of what kept me reading till the early hours. I loved Bishop Andrew – he was such a mischievous fun character. He was such a counterpoint to the intensely annoying Colin Harper. The  mystery of St Poe’s and Renata’s research raised the story to a much higher level.  I am so glad that there are going to be more of these novels as the main characters Jane and Renata give me a warm fuzzy feeling.
A totally involving read, well written and with scope for a series of wonderful tales.
Kitty Kat

FiveStars
I found this book highly entertaining. There were many scenes that made me laugh and one scene that made me laugh for quite some time. In fact, I related that scene to my partner and she laughed just as hard. It was quite surprising to tell the truth. I wasn’t quite sure I would like the book in the beginning, when the two women had their initial reunion. The vitriol seems insurmountable. The entire reason for the end of their previous relationship centers around Jane and her experiences with her family. The question is whether or not Renata can understand and forgive Jane for running away. Jane considers it her own cowardice, but I see it more as a matter of her own survival. There were several things that were revealed that came as a tremendous surprise. I admire McKnight’s skill in making those revelations not only surprising but fitting. The entire plot hinged together tightly and resulted in a story that kept me turning pages and totally satisfied at the end. Oh, my mistake. Not totally satisfied. There was a preview for book 2, Wendy of the Wallops, at the end of the book. I’m totally not satisfied because that book isn’t out yet. I can’t wait and it is definitely on my list to get as soon as it comes out.
Amy P

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5 Star and 3 Star Review for Caught Inside (Boys on the Brink #1) by Jamie Deacon #MM #YoungAdult @JamieDeacon82

CoverTitle: Caught Inside (Boys on the Brink #1)
Author Name & Publisher: Jamie Deacon (Beaten Track Publishing)
Publication Date & Length: September 29, 2016 – 320 pgs

Synopsis

Luke believes he has his life figured out…and then he meets Theo.

It should have been simple—a summer spent with his girlfriend Zara at her family’s holiday cottage in Cornwall. Seventeen-year-old Luke Savage jumps at the chance, envisioning endless hours of sunbathing on the private beach and riding the waves on his beloved surfboard. He isn’t interested in love. Though his rugged good looks and lazy charm mean he can have his pick of girls, he has no intention of falling for anyone.

Nothing prepares Luke for his reaction to Theo, the sensitive Oxford undergraduate who is Zara’s cousin and closest friend. All at once, he is plunged along a path of desire and discovery that has him questioning everything he thought he knew about himself. No one, especially Zara, must find out; what he and Theo have is too new, too fragile. But as the deceit spirals beyond their control, people are bound to get hurt, Luke most of all.

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Review

ThreeStar

I find it difficult to love a book when I find myself disliking the characters more and more as the story progresses. This story starts with a simple mismatched romance between working class Luke and his wealthy girlfriend Zara. And slowly, as characters are added and poor decisions seem to multiply, we see the absolute worst of each character.

I enjoyed the chemistry between Luke and Theo but I hated the exaggerated class divide and Giles’ snobbery. I really never understood the reasons for Giles’ aggressive behaviour and I really didn’t understand how Theo and Zara allowed it in their home. Adding cheating and secrets and lies just made these characters more difficult to like. I felt the ending exploded and then fizzled before limping to a rather unsatisfying conclusion – it just didn’t work for me.

As this descended into angst and drama, I struggled to finish it. I am awarding three stars because this is a young adult story and fans of Hollyoaks and other teen soaps will probably enjoy this much more than I did.

Sarah

FiveStars

This was a great read about the hardships that some young adults may go through when they realize what their sexuality is.

Luke is 17 and has a girlfriend that he is content with, Zara. For summer break Zara invites Luke to join her and her cousin at her parents beach cottage for he summer. Luke is all for the surfing and spending some time with Zara.

Just like any good book there is a twist. When Luke meets Theo, feelings he has try to banish from his mind start to arise. As hard as he tries to deny he is attracted to Theo, he no longer can when Theo kisses him. From that moment on Luke knows that he can no longer deny his attraction and he no longer wants to try too.

Luke and Theo come to the understanding that they will keep things under raps for a while but it keeps getting harder and harder to hide the truth. Especially since Zara really wants to make things work with Luke and Luke really wants things in the open about him and Theo.

Things finally come to a crashing hault and everyone is hurt in the mix.

This book was a great read. It is the perfect example of the struggles that some may face when they come to the realization that they can no longer deny who they are. It is also the perfect example of how some people may be caught in the cross fire and end up hurt. I think that Jamie Deacon did an amazing job with this book and did all the characters justice by making the book so close to reality.

Great read!!!!

Tosha

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4.5 Star and TWO 4 Star Reviews for Piece of Cake: The Wedding (Wedding Novellas) by Gun Brooke #FF #Romance

CoverTitle: Piece of Cake: The Wedding (Wedding Novellas)
Author Name & Publisher: Gun Brooke (Bold Strokes Books)
Publication Date: August 1, 2016

Synopsis

Kendal Moore knows she’s being used shamelessly by her boss, Holly McAllister. What’s more, Kendal has willingly agreed to it. Holly needs a wife to remain in the US despite an expired visa. Now it’s their wedding day. Kendal is about to marry the woman she secretly loves, but she is afraid. What if she fails Holly by getting last-minute cold feet?
Holly McAllister tries to keep up her usual stern demeanor. If she doesn’t marry, all she’s worked for is lost. She is surprised that the only person she can imagine marrying is her assistant, Kendal, whose loyalty she always relied on. Now Holly’s heart and conscience insist she must talk to Kendal and call off the wedding. She can’t take advantage of the woman she’s grown to love. Kendal deserves more.

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Review

FourandHalfStars
This is such a sweet short. Holly and Kendal struggle with their situation because both are afraid to expose the feelings they each have for the other. At the 11th hour, both women are having second thoughts, not because they can’t stomach the idea of being together, but because they’re afraid that the other will have sacrificed too much and come to resent the other. And they each care too much for that to happen. Even so, most of the story the two are dancing around any type of admittance of how they really feel. It almost feels like an entire courting ritual in the space of a few hours. I liked how each genuinely had feelings for the other. Also, I really enjoyed the interracial aspect of the relationship, because it was dealt with so matter-of-factly. And also Brooke used such a deft touch letting us know about it that we got the picture without the type of heavy-handed repeated descriptors reminding us that Kendal was black every time Holly looked at her. It felt like it was mentioned because it was notable, but then, having let us know, we were allowed to relax in to their relationship without having to constantly be reminded. I guess what I’m trying to say is that it was treated like it was just a normal thing, and that was wonderful to read. I did knock off a half a star, simply because like most short stories that I enjoy, I would’ve liked more. I would have loved to have gotten more of their story before the wedding, and mostly because I liked Holly and Kendal so much I didn’t want to let them go. I believe this was written and included in an anthology centering around a wedding theme, and if so, I’d definitely go looking for the anthology based just on how good this story was.
Amy P
FourStars
Gun Brooke has written a lovely novella of hidden love between two women about to marry. Kendal and Holly are marrying to keep Holly in the country and are insisting it’s a marriage of convenience. On the day of their wedding we find out their true feelings for each other are romantic and sexy and intensely loving. I enjoyed this story as it was just the kind of mushy romance I love.
Kitty Kat
FourStars

I enjoyed getting to know Holly and Kendal! I love the idea of the boss and the assistant. This little story was a great break in my day.

Well written, entertaining, and sweet! Would have loved a full novel with these ladies, but loved to meet them just the same. My only issues with the story was not getting to know the characters more; however, that is the downfall of a shorter work and was to be expected. All-in-all, it was a sweet story that was well worth the read!

Tori

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3.5 Stars for Burning Tracks (Spotlight #2) by Lilah Suzanne #FF #RomCom @LilahSuzanne

Burning Tracks 900px FRONT (Tumblr)Title: Burning Tracks (Spotlight #2 – Standalone)
Author Name & Publisher: Lilah Suzanne (Interlude Press)
Publication Date & Length: August 11, 2016 – 224 pgs

Synopsis

In the sequel to Broken Records, Gwen Pasternak has it all: a job she loves as a celebrity stylist and a beautiful wife, Flora. But as her excitement in working with country music superstar Clementine Campbell grows, Gwen second-guesses her quiet domestic bliss. Meanwhile, her business partner, Nico Takahashi and his partner, reformed bad-boy musician Grady Dawson, face uncertainties of their own.

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Review

ThreeandHalfStars

This was a difficult read for me. We’re reading about Gwen and Flora, who’ve been together for almost 10 years, and they’ve hit a rough spot where Gwen is freaking out about their lives together and Flora seems to be a bit clueless, even though this is definitely par for the course for Gwen. Toss in the fact that their best friends and family, Nico and Grady, who are definitely still in the honeymoon stage, have just had a fight and may be breaking up, and it sets the stage for Clementine, a client of Gwen and Nico’s and a friend of Grady’s, to come in and make things a bit murky for Gwen. I have big problems with cheating in the stories I read, so this book seemed to be headed down a predictable road that I really wasn’t sure I wanted to travel along. But I told myself that I didn’t necessarily know what the author was going to do, so I should stick with it. I’m glad I did, as things didn’t go exactly as I’d thought, but it definitely was a wake up call for Gwen. My problem with the book, and I’ll admit that it was all personal preference, is that Gwen seems to love Flora too much to go down the road she was headed. She acts like an immature brat instead of talking to her wife about her feelings, and she almost messes things up. Especially as someone who grew up with the parents that she had, it’s very difficult for me to believe that she’d treat the person who loves her so much so recklessly. And while she may have stepped up in the end, I didn’t enjoy the ride along for her stumble. The book was pretty well-written, and interesting, and if Suzanne decides to write about Clementine finding a woman of her own, I might pick that up. But I see that the first and third books are about Nico and Grady, and I’m not too sure I’d pick those up. Again, I’d say it’s more personal preference than anything really bad about the book or story.

AmyP

Excerpt

“There’s a reason you two aren’t allowed to hang out alone.” Arms crossed, one impeccable eyebrow raised, lips twisted, hair artfully tousled, and dressed to the nines: Alexander Wang black-on- black tropical-printed board shorts, a slim fit black-and- white chino and matching black lapel jacket, black boots, and a black and white scarf to tie it all together. “Nico,” Gwen says.

“Nico?” Grady is up in a flash. “You came?”

Nico’s face softens into his Grady look. “Of course I came. Did you really think you were getting rid of me that easily?” Grady comes closer, and Nico brushes a spiraled lock of hair from his face.

“I’m sorry it took me so long. There were storms over Dallas, and I got stuck on the tarmac with a dead phone. I barely made my connection, and the clusterfuck of morons known as the United gate at JFK could not get its shit together, and I may be banned outright from Charlotte-Douglas International, can you believe they flag you as a security risk and hold you in a room with no phone signal or Wi-Fi just for threatening one person with shoving that goddam intercom up their—” He opens his arms for Grady; his look of annoyance slips away the moment they touch.

“Anyway, I’m here.”

Grady sighs, crowds into Nico’s space, and tucks himself into Nico’s body. Much better, a perfect fit. “God, I love you.”

“I love you, too.” Nico sinks one hand into his hair, strokes the nape of his neck with other, breathes him in, and closes his eyes. “I’m so sorry. About the apartment and taking off and not being here yesterday, I tried to so hard to make it because I know how difficult it is for you. You shouldn’t have been alone.”

Grady sniffs and holds him tighter. “It’s okay. We’re okay. I’m sorry, too.”

Still ensnared in the sheets and duvet and barely awake, Gwen presses her hands to her cheeks and awws. “You guys,” she coos.

Grady lifts his head from Nico’s neck to smile at Gwen. “I wasn’t alone, though.”

“Mmm” Nico says. “And how much trouble did she get you into?”

“None,” Gwen says, defensive. Here she kept Grady safe and sound, searched all over Nashville and Las Vegas while he was off burying himself in work and what thanks does she get? None.

But then Grady smirks and says, “Kind of a lot.”

“Grady.” Gwen throws a pillow at him. “You’re such a tattletale, gosh.”

He bends to whisper something in Nico’s ear, and Gwen doesn’t miss the way his lips drag and linger on the shell of it, or the way Nico’s breath catches and his eyes roll back. When Nico lifts Grady’s shirt and traces around the tattoos with reverent fingers, Gwen takes that as her cue to extricate herself from the bed, put on some pants and a bra, and go fetch her luggage.

“‘Kay you guys have fun and make sure to change the sheets when you’re finished.”

“Wait.” Nico tugs Grady’s shirt down. Then he goes to the case he always has nearby. “You have trouble of your own, Gwen. Thought you might want to know about this.”

Gwen catches the magazine and folded-up papers he tosses her way: screen grabs from a few entertainment websites printed out in black and white.

Is This Clementine Campbell’s Girlfriend? Our source says, “It wouldn’t surprise me.”

Clementine and Gal Pal Definitely More Than Pals Sunning On Vegas Pool Deck.

Our exclusive source and close confidant of both says: Clementine’s married girlfriend “would cheat for sure. She was always touching her. There’s been an energy between them from the very beginning.”

There are pictures: her rubbing sunscreen on Clementine’s bare back, which looks far steamier in a fuzzy long-range picture than it actually was; a picture of them from the back at the store in the Venetian with their hands clasped and Clementine curled in close and her lips on Gwen’s cheek; and most damning of all, grinding together at the VIP club at the Bellagio just last night.

“I don’t—” Frantic and confused, she flaps the magazine and printouts in the air. “What is this? This isn’t— Nico, I didn’t, I swear.”

Nico holds both hands up. “Hey, I am well aware of the slander of tabloids. I get it.” He gives her a sympathetic look. “I’m just not sure Flora is going to.”

AuthorInterview

Tell us about your pets – past or present. Pictures are a must! (Not really, but they would be welcome.)

 

Currently I have four pets: Tank, a chihuahua-Jack Russel mix (yes he’s exactly as crazy as you imagine) a blue and white parakeet named Sky, and two orange tabby cats: Buttercup and Dandelion. By happenstance I have only ever had orange tabby cats, and though I lack the experience to say for sure they are favorite kind of cat.

 

In a flashback chapter in Burning Tracks Gwen and Flora rescue two orange tabby kittens from a dumpster, and this is sort of borrowed from my life, as my current cats are also rescues, though we found them ditched on the side of a very busy road. Luckily I didn’t have to wade through garbage to save them, but the traffic racing by was pretty scary, and an enormous spider landed on my head. I think I’d pick swimming through a dumpster if given the choice, honestly.

 

We spend most the story later on, when Gwen and Flora only have one of the rescue cats, Cheese. And as I’m incapable of writing an animal in my stories without them becoming essential to the plot the story, Cheese and her siblings take on a lot of symbolism: Gwen’s fierce heart, Flora’s unshakeable faith, and Clementine’s continued sacrifices.

 

I don’t usually base characters directly on people (or pets) in my life, but for Cheese I did base her on Buttercup: They’re both enormous, lazy orange tabbies. Both love food and hate food somehow at the same time. And both cats are skittish and sensitive and very sweet. And so far Buttercup is taking being immortalized in a novel in stride, she’s spends just as much time sleeping under my bed as she always has. The the nice thing about orange tabby cats: they’re humble. Or, as humble as a cat can be, I guess.

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5 Stars and 3.5 Stars for A Class Act by T.L. Hayes #FF #Romance

CoverTitle: A Class Act
Author Name & Publisher: T.L. Hayes (Bold Strokes Books)
Publication Date & Length: August 1, 2016 – 240 pgs

Synopsis

Twenty-five-year-old theater grad student Rory Morgan walks into her Intro to Theater class expecting it to be a piece of cake. She isn’t prepared for the diminutive little fireball of a professor who walks in. She is instantly captivated by Dr. Margaret Parks, her forty-year-old professor, and even works up the courage to flirt a little, which Dr. Parks quickly dismisses. After their first class, Rory finds herself thinking about the professor more and more and spends most of her class time watching the professor as she passionately does her job. Rory really wants to ask her out, but she doesn’t know if the professor is even gay, to say nothing of the fact that she’s her professor. What follows is a romance full of humor, passionate awakenings, and college politics. Can they overcome the hurdles that lie before them and still be a class act?

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Review

 FiveStarsWhat a beautiful, romantic and heart-warming love story! I really enjoyed being an onlooker in this well written and totally engrossing new relationship between Maggie and Rory.  Rory was just so gorgeous and kind and brought out a side of Maggie that had been kept hidden her whole life. She allowed her to be herself at last, to be happy and content with who she was. It seemed each of them were waiting for that person to make them feel whole.  They had enormous problems to overcome as professor and student dating and the threat to Maggie’s career was always there in the background.  How they both dealt with it and the reactions of those around them made this a powerful novel.  I hope to read a lot more from T L Hayes in the future.
Kitty Kat
ThreeandHalfStars
Truthfully, I don’t know how to rate this. I enjoyed the book; it turned out in some ways much better than I thought it would at about a third of the way through. But in other ways, there are some things that just missed the mark. This is a May-December book, an age gap book for those who don’t use months (I had to explain the term to someone recently). Rory is a grad student, aged 25, who falls for her professor, Maggie, aged 40. One of my first problems was Miranda’s character. I do like the direction Hayes took it, but at first Miranda seemed like a cliched, contrived character – the mean girl who ruins things for others out of spite and because she’s not getting what she wants. And my opinion of the book would have gone south if Hayes had continued with that as the main conflict. But after Miranda stopped being the main impediment to the relationship, and actually the main catalyst as well, the story coasts with no major conflict the rest of the way. Hayes lost the opportunity to use the age gap and Maggie’s feelings about it to explore the biggest stumbling block to their relationship. As the May in an age gap relationship myself, let me tell you those feelings don’t go away easily for the December portion. There was no real problem with Rory’s parents accepting the relationship, which again I think is a lost opportunity. The problem with Maggie’s coworkers also feels a bit underdone. Maggie is supposed to feel extremely uncomfortable with how much they’re intruding into her private life, but other than a note, an email, and the knowledge that they’re going to the board, and subsequently getting shut down, there isn’t a whole lot there that makes me believe the whole change of jobs would be necessary. In all, the book was entertaining, and the romance was sweet, but missed being as deep as it could have been.
AmyP

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4.5 Stars and 5 Stars for Too Good To Be True (1Night Stand #5 – Standalone) by Deanna Wadsworth (AUTHOR INTERVIEW) #MM #Romance @DeannaWadsworth

TooGoodToBeTrueFinal_1300x2000Title: Too Good To Be True (1Night Stand – Standalone)
Author Name & Publisher: Deanna Wadsworth
Publication Date & Length: June 17, 2016 – 36,000 Words

Synopsis

Disgraced former FBI agent Tim Burkhart desperately wants to reclaim his life and find happiness. Relocating his fledgling private security company to Miami—where his ex-wife moved their two daughters—hopefully is a start. When he’s hired to provide protection for an antiques dealer on his way to Scotland to sell a priceless ancient dirk, Tim believes the break he’s been waiting for has finally arrived. Maybe now he can make enough money to hire a lawyer and get shared parenting of his little girls.

Elliot James runs the antique shop he inherited after his grandfather’s death. Lonely and swimming in debt, he longs for a way to turn his life around but keeps making one mistake after another. Then he finds the ancient dirk tucked away among junk as he’s cleaning out his grandfather’s home. Placing it up for sale, he is thrilled when an out of country buyer purchases the priceless antique. The buyer wants the dirk immediately and sends Tim to ensure Elliot safely delivers it on time.

The moment Tim and Elliot meet, however, everything falls apart. Between break-ins, shoot-outs, stalkers, totaled cars, and the cops, it seems Tim and Elliot will never get to Scotland by the deadline. Despite all the obstacles, an unexpected attraction pulls them together, offering each man a glimmer of hope. But if they don’t deliver the dirk on time, they won’t get paid and neither of them will be able to pick up the pieces of their lives.

Will they complete this job and find a happily ever after, or is all of this really too good to be true?

Review

FourandHalfStars

This book was great, everything from the characters to the plot. I’ve read a few books in this series and this one ranks at the top as one of my favorites. There was excitement and pleasure all rolled up into one excellent book. The author’s writing style made it a very easy read and as it wasn’t a full length novel it was over before I wanted it to be. This book had mystery and excitement in it and it was a great pleasure to see the MC’s, Tim and Elliot, navigate the twists and turns of the plot and most of all their relationship. Ms. Wadsworth was able to bring these two men to life for me and as I read her words I was able to feel the love and acceptance they needed to really embark on a relationship.

Lynn

FiveStars

These two men could not find more trouble if they was to go looking for it!!! This book is a book full of excitement.

Elliott not Tim either one has had it easy in the past. Both come from very different backgrounds but one thing they have in common is they both constantly look down on themselves. I believe that the only reason they both feel that they are not good enough is because of the people they have encountered in their past and the negative influence they had on each of them.

Once these two men meet it seems as if they have a never ending amount of trouble that follows them from Tims ex who has turned stocker.

Through all the trouble these two men seem to come together and find the one thing they both have been looking for… Love and acceptance from each other. This in turn makes them both more secure in their own skin I think.

I enjoyed reading this book and going through all the excitement that both of these men did not know they would encounter once they met. I also enjoyed watching them both open up and blossom into the people they was both meant to be. If ever there is two men that made the other stronger and better because of it, it is definitely these two.

Great read and enjoyed every minute of it.

Tosha

Excerpt

Staring down the sights of his Colt 1911 and into the panicked eyes of the young man, Tim said, “Keep your hands where I can see ’em. I want to know where Mr. James is and why you’re in his store.”

Out of the corner of his eye, Tim saw a flash of metal. Instinctively he dropped to the floor. The sharp crack of a bullet shot through the store, shattering something on his left.

The guy behind the counter made a run for the door.

Tim rolled behind the armoire, gritting his teeth when the door slammed shut and the first guy got away. Careful to stay out of sight, Tim assessed the shooter who’d come from the back room. He looked as young and inexperienced as the one who’d run. Tim recognized the weapon in his hand—a 9mm semi-automatic Beretta. Though Tim’s .45 could out-shoot the little pea-shooter at the range, he had no interest in finding out who was the better shot in real life.

“¿Adónde vas? ¡Esperame!” the shooter yelled to his retreating friend.

Wait for me. Tim knew enough Spanish. The guy planned to make a run for it, too. He clambered to his feet. Before he could tackle and subdue him, the kid aimed his Beretta in the general direction of the armoire and fired off a volley of shots.

“Shit!” Tim dove behind a stack of rugs to dodge the bullets.

The gun went silent.

Tim rolled fast onto his back, his 1911 aimed, only to watch the kid flying out the door behind his friend. The door bounced a few times until it closed, the bells clanging.

“Shit! Shit!”

The scraping sounds in the back room, louder than before, drew his attention once more.

As fast as he could, he crept around the counter, his heart pounding. Both hands on his gun, trigger finger resting on the frame and trigger guard, he took a quick peek into the room, ducking back before a possible third perp could make him.

In less than a heartbeat, his brain registered what he’d seen. He exhaled. Keeping his gun lowered but at-the- ready, he entered.

In the center of what looked like a storage room sat the man Tim had been hired to escort to Scotland. He’d been gagged and duct-taped to a chair.

Elliot James.

“Is anyone else here?” Tim murmured.

Mr. James shook his head wildly.

With a relieved sigh, he rushed over to the man and yanked the gag out. “You okay?”

“Yeah.” He gasped for air. “I’m fine.”

“Were there only two?” he clarified, eyes still peeled for danger.

“Yeah,” he managed, his face flushed and startling green eyes wide. Sandy-brown curls fell across the brow of a very frightened but very beautiful man. He took a few slow, ragged breaths, obviously trying to calm himself. “Just the two of them.”

Tim took a steadying breath of his own and slowly released the hammer on his Colt and flipped the safety up, never taking his gaze off Mr. James. “What happened?” He holstered the weapon then tore the duct tape from the man’s wrist.

“Aarrghh!” Mr. James jumped, the chair bouncing.

Tim winced when he noticed the arm hairs stuck to the tape in his hand. “Sorry ’bout that.” He paused over the other strip. “This one’s gonna hurt, too.”

Mr. James pursed his lips and nodded bravely. He let out a tiny hiss when Tim freed his second arm.

That one didn’t take as much hair because a silver bracelet had protected most of the skin. Obviously, those punks had been amateurs in restraining.

“Sorry,” Tim said again.

Rubbing his wrists, he let out a breathy laugh. “It’s okay. Thank you for saving my life.”

“I believe that’s what I was paid for. I’m Tim Burkhart, your private security detail.”

Mr. James’s smile made his heart flutter. No, probably just the adrenaline. Tim didn’t get butterflies.

“Nice to finally meet you, Mr. Burkhart.”

“Call me Tim.” He stood and withdrew his phone. He gestured toward his bound legs. “You okay to get those? I gotta call the cops.”

“No!”

Tim almost dropped his phone when Mr. James shouted. He gaped at the man. “What do you mean no?”

Prying tape off of his khaki pants, the man paused. Those big green eyes grew even wider. “You can’t call the cops. My whole life depends on it!”

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