A Second Chance – Van Cole

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“It was childish to cling to the idea of this boy that had built me up and ruined me, especially ten years later – but there was nothing I could do. I was a slave to the lack of closure. I couldn’t move on.”

 

In a word: Read the thing. Not exactly what it says on the tin, though. The summary gives the impression that what we’re about to read will be a more complete novel than what we actually end up with. It’s not entirely inaccurate, but it’s making promises that it doesn’t really deliver. Having said that, this is still a good read and I did enjoy it, there just wasn’t a whole lot to it. The whole story, which is fairly short and only took me about an hour to read, is told from Dane’s first-person point of view. The way it’s written is less like reading events as they take place and is more like Dane is summarizing the events for us and telling his story from some nebulous future point. Some of the story takes place in the past, when Dane was in high school, but the parts that take place in the present read the same way. Even without much focus on Sam’s thoughts and motivations, and the somewhat stilted delivery, I still felt that this was a solid story. I do wish we could’ve gotten more focus on some aspects, there were a lot of points (mostly having to do with Dane’s family) that could’ve been expanded on, but as it is it’s still pretty decent. The main point of the story is Dane trying to get closure over the disaster that was his first love, and I really liked the read. The emotions in the story were great, though not as explored as I would’ve liked in some places, and I thought the outcome was great. The writing isn’t the best, but the story was really good and I would definitely recommend it for the experience of reading it.

 

The Summary: (from Goodreads) Will A High School Reunion Bring These Lovers Back Together?

Sam and Dane were two young men on the brink of their futures. Sharing high school adventures together, these two young men were both figuring out how to deal with their homosexuality when they found solace in the sexual expression of each other. Confused and concerned, Sam and Dane live in a world of mixed emotions, fighting their desires while finding each other undeniably linked.

When Dane shares with his family the fact that he is gay, his world is turned upside down and he turns to Sam for comfort. But, family pressures and a societal fear push the lovers to the breaking point, life and prejudice seeming to separate them forever. Life goes on and two worlds are built…two very different worlds. Then, an invitation threatens to turn their worlds upside down.

Ten years after a graduation, will the reunion of their two souls bring them back together for good?

Or, will time and fate tear them apart forever?

This Romance Short Story Was Formerly Title The Reunion

 

[available for purchase at Amazon.ca as part of the Surprise Baby: Gay MPREG Romance Collection]

 

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Lone Wolf (Bluewater Bay #4) – Aleksandr Voinov & L. A. Witt

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“Kevin was a literary genius and one hell of a twisted pervert. In other words, Hunter’s catnip.”

 

In a word: Read the thing. I will admit that the third-act breakup miscommunication nonsense that happened near the end was a bit annoying, but other than that this was a very enjoyable read. This is the fourth book in the Bluewater Bay series, and the first book where we get a proper introduction to Hunter Easton, the author and creator of Wolf’s Landing, the in-universe popular book series and TV show most of the characters are connected to. Before this I think Hunter had maybe one or two actual appearances (though he is mentioned more), but this time the story is all about him and we get to know him a bit better. I really liked Hunter, I found him to be a genuinely good guy and also pretty funny and cute. I felt the same about his love interest, Kevin Hussain, who is a lot like Hunter except with an extra layer of geek. Their whole story is a bit of a fan’s fantasy, with Wolf’s Landing fan Kevin meeting and starting a relationship with his favourite author and also getting to turn his fanfiction into something profitable and integrated into the show’s canon. I don’t think I’ve read a book that focused so much on fandom and the relationship between fans and creators (though it didn’t go too deep, that wasn’t the main focus of the story). As a fan myself, that was pretty fun to read. The main focus of the story was on Hunter and Kevin trying to figure out their relationship while also dealing with Wolf’s Landing writing obligations and Kevin’s sudden rise to fame. I really liked how the story played out, though I could’ve done without the lack of communication surrounding their romantic expectations. A whole lot of grief could’ve been avoided if Hunter and Kevin had actually talked to each other like the adults they were supposed to be. That whole drama wasn’t even close enough to ruining the book by any means, it’s still a solid read. And as a bonus we got some more scenes with Levi and Carter (from Starstruck), and maybe a bit of clarification on what Wolf’s Landing is even about.

 

The Summary: (from Goodreads) Hunter Easton is screwed. Fans, producers, and his agent are all chomping at the bit for the next book in his wildly popular Wolf’s Landing series, but he’s got epic writer’s block and is way behind deadline. Then he reads The World Tree, a fanfic novel by his online friend “Lone Wolf.” It isn’t just a great story—it’s exactly what the series needs.

Kevin Hussain is thrilled when “Wolf Hunter” wants to meet up after reading The World Tree. When Wolf Hunter turns out to be Hunter Easton himself, Kevin is starstruck. When Hunter tells him he wants to add The World Tree to Wolf’s Landing, Kevin is sure he’s being pranked. And when their online chemistry carries over—big time—into real life, Kevin is convinced it’s all too good to be true.

The problem is . . . it might be. The book deal, the sex, the money—everything is amazing. But fame isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, and Kevin is left wondering if Hunter really loves him, or just loves his book.

 

[available for purchase at Riptide Publishing, Amazon.ca, Book Depository, Chapters, and Barnes & Noble]

 

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In His Arms Again – Lisa Marie Davis

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“After five years of denying himself, resisting temptation, distracting himself with work and family concerns, Ayden was at a crossroad, but he had no control of the direction he was about to take.”

 

In a word: Read the thing. Honestly, I wasn’t really sure if I was gonna like this one, but then it punched me right in the feels and I was totally here for it. Ayden is a business man who has spent the last five years in a marriage of convenience with a woman because of his homophobic father’s scheming. He has been living a lie for all that time, and would probably have continued on with it had a reason to change not literally fallen right into his lap. Ayden meets Simon on a plane and they form an immediate connection (and then join the mile-high club, because go big or go home I guess). Ayden’s not sure what’s come over him, but he knows that he desperately wants to be with Simon while at the same time knowing that he can’t if he wants to keep the family company. Things are a bit different now than they were five years ago, and Ayden’s realizing that neither he nor his wife are happy in their marriage anymore. They both want to be able to live their true lives, but they can’t unless they’re willing to make some very drastic changes. The situation that Ayden is in, through no fault of his own, is heartbreaking. Between his late father’s fuckery, his monster of a step-mother’s evil, and his own unhappiness with it all, he’s got a lot to deal with. Finding Simon was a bit of a dream-come-true for him, even though he came very close to losing him. The emotional ups and downs in this book are amazing, especially for a read this short. I also really loved the support system Ayden found for himself, and the love they all shared. The epilogue was maybe a bit too sweet for my tastes, especially considering how the main story ended, but I still enjoyed the ride from beginning to end.

 

The Summary: (from Goodreads) Five years ago a cruel clause in his father’s will forced Ayden Judson into marriage to keep the family company, and to protect that business from his stepmother’s machinations, Ayden decided to live without love. But when handsome gallery owner Simon Gibson literally falls into Ayden’s lap on a transatlantic flight, he shakes Ayden’s resolve, and by the time they land, Ayden knows he doesn’t want to live without Simon. Simon, burned before by a married man, refuses to hide. So once more, Ayden must choose between happiness for himself and the good of the company-threatened by how dark his stepmother’s plans have become-except Ayden knows he’ll give up all the money and success in the world just to have Simon in his arms again.

 

[available for purchase at Dreamspinner Press, Amazon.ca, Chapters, and Barnes & Noble; also available in the bundle Lisa Marie Davis’ Greatest Hits]

 

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Two Man Station (Emergency Services #1) – Lisa Henry

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“This is a two-man station. If things turn to shit, it’s just us.”

 

In a word: Read the thing. This is the first book in a brand-new series by Lisa Henry, and I am very excited about the whole thing. The setting is the small, remote town of Richmond in the Australian outback. The main characters are the town’s two police officers: Sergeant Jason Quinn, and newcomer Gio Valeri (who is new to the town, not to policing). The plot is somewhat non-existent. This is very much more of a slice-of-life story, focusing more on the characters and setting than any sort of plot. Though there is a clear direction in the story, things move along and develop, it just doesn’t do it with a defined chain of events. This might not be some people’s thing, but I enjoyed it. I really liked Gio and Jason, and I enjoyed reading about what they had to deal with while policing their town. Jason’s son Taylor was a lot of fun, and Sandra from the police station was also pretty entertaining. Gio and Jason’s romance gets off to a slow start, since Gio’s background – the reason he wound up in Richmond in the first place – doesn’t make it easy for Jason to trust him; not to mention the fact that he’s still not completely over the death of his wife and his struggles with being a single parent. Gio’s background, the real one that no one else really knows about, makes it hard for him to trust Jason, or anyone else really. Despite everything, they still do manage to get close, though there really is a lot for them to work through before they can be functional together. This book is mostly character development and random happenings – although domestic violence is a consistent theme, so there is a specific chain of events for that happening in the background – and the story of two men trying to find a second chance at happiness while dealing with their own problems. I had a hard time putting this one down and ended up reading it in less than a day. The descriptions of life in the Australian outback (which is completely alien to me), and wanting to find out just what made Gio and Jason tick really grabbed my attention and made me interested. I’m not sure if either Jason or Gio will be appearing in future series installments, but I’m really excited to see what’s coming next.

 

The Summary: (from Goodreads) Gio Valeri is a big city police officer who’s been transferred to the small outback town of Richmond with his professional reputation in tatters. His transfer is a punishment, and Gio just wants to keep his head down and survive the next two years. No more mistakes. No more complications.

Except Gio isn’t counting on Jason Quinn.

Jason Quinn, officer in charge of Richmond Station, is a single dad struggling with balancing the demands of shift work with the challenges of raising his son. The last thing he needs is a new senior constable with a history of destroying other people’s careers. But like it or not, Jason has to work with Gio.

In a remote two-man station hours away from the next town, Gio and Jason have to learn to trust and rely on each another. Close quarters and a growing attraction mean that the lines between professional and personal are blurring. And even in Richmond, being a copper can be dangerous enough without risking their hearts as well.

 

[available for purchase at Riptide Publishing, Amazon.caBook Depository, Chapters, and Barnes & Noble]

 

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Derek – B. G. Thomas

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“Men with men. Men who weren’t afraid to be with other men. Men who admitted who and what they were. Yes. He had a future. Who knows? Maybe it would start here. Tonight.”

 

In a word: Read the thing. This was sweet and heartwarming and a quick read. All good things. Derek, the titular main character, is newly divorced and is a bit nervous about finally being able to live his life as a gay man for the first time in years (though, the first time he was ‘out’ it wasn’t really so openly). One of the baristas at his new favourite café befriends him suddenly and invites him to a party where he can meet other gay men. He meets Marshall at the party, and through him learns about letting go and being in love for real for the first time. This story is about a romance, but it’s also about letting go and moving forward. Derek has had his only two relationships fail, and isn’t sure if he should gamble his heart on a third. With Marshall’s help he’s able to gain some perspective on his past and look forward to what his future as an out gay man will hold for him. The story isn’t all that long so the characters aren’t totally developed (especially the many side-characters that are mentioned), but I still liked Derek and Marshall and their love story (even though it does technically tip into the insta-love category). I also really enjoyed the positive feel everything had. Derek is trying to deal with the death of a long-term relationship and what that means for him in the grand scheme of things; and even though it wasn’t necessarily a totally happy experience, Derek’s takeaway of it isn’t totally negative either. The message of the story, about not living in the past and looking forward to the future (loosely paraphrased), was also pretty positive.

 

The Summary: (from Goodreads) The end of his marriage leaves Derek Newton hurt and confused, but it also grants him the opportunity to embrace who he really is: a gay man. While navigating his new life with the help of friends in the local GLBT community, Derek meets Marshall Kenworthy, a man who embodies all his fantasies.

To Derek’s surprise, Marshall is as interested as he is, and they make a date. But a failure to communicate leads to a misunderstanding. The party they attend is not what Derek expected—at all—but Marshall, ever the gentleman, makes sure Derek feels comfortable. As they get to know each other, they see how much they have in common. Derek begins to heal and soon realizes he might thrive in this new chapter of his life—and it just might be with Marshall by his side.

 

[available for free at Dreamspinner Press, Amazon.ca, Chapters, and Barnes & Noble]

 

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Will & Patrick’s Endless Honeymoon (Wake Up Married #7) – Leta Blake

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“’You already know how I feel.’ Patrick huffs. ‘I married you, didn’t I? Twice. Just to prove I meant it the first time.’”

 

In a word: Read the thing! I loved this! It was pretty much everything I’d hoped it would be when I first found out about it. The Wake Up Married series was a six-part completed story the first time I read it. This seventh part was a lovely unexpected bonus written by one of the series’ two authors. It continues the story of Will and Patrick and their marriage with all the humour and heart of the original series. Taking place two years after the end of Part 6 (Will & Patrick’s Happy Ending) we’re reintroduced to – still happily married – Will and Patrick and the colourful residents of Healing, South Dakota. Though we don’t stay in Healing long since Will and Patrick spend most of the book on their long put-off honeymoon. Seriously, this book is great, a really great surprise addition to a series I already really loved. Will and Patrick are in a great place with themselves and their marriage (just a note that any conflict in the story does not come from Will and Patrick fighting with each other, which was great) and still just as in love with each other and as entertaining. Will’s family is still completely insane, but Will is learning to deal with it all. Jenny and Jax get a minor subplot, and we even get some closure – although it’s not really pleasant – for Ryan and Hartley’s situation. The story doesn’t really further much character or relationship development, it’s more a timestamp for the series, which I didn’t mind at all because I loved this look into everyone’s lives. I was so happy to read about these characters again. This was written with the same love and heart and emotion and humour from Parts 1-6 and I thoroughly enjoyed the read.

 

The Summary: (from Goodreads) Genius brain surgeon Patrick McCloud never thought he’d fall in love, let alone get married. He and Will Patterson are two years overdue for their honeymoon, and although romance doesn’t come naturally to Patrick, he’s determined to make it perfect.

Will works himself to the bone helping others and dealing with his family, who bring the drama nonstop. A tropical getaway without the usual shenanigans is just what the doctor ordered. But can Will’s family leave them in peace? Knowing the Patterson-Molinaro clan, it’s not likely…

Will and Patrick’s Endless Honeymoon by Leta Blake continues the soapy, sexy fun of the original six part Wake Up Married serial. In Healing, South Dakota, marriage is never boring!

 

[available for purchase from Amazon.ca]

 

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Flight Risk – L. A. Witt

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“I wanted Aaron. I wanted him to be okay, I wanted him to be with me. I wanted my friend back. And, yeah, I wanted him too.”

 

In a word: Read the thing. L. A. Witt is fast becoming one of my favourite authors; I usually really like her stuff. This one is no exception. Though I will say that this felt… not incomplete exactly, but I felt like there could’ve been more to it. But there’s only so much story that can be put into something this short (it’s about 20, 000 words long), I suppose. Even so, I still really liked the story and the characters. The whole thing is a small window into the lives of Bennett and Aaron, two fighter pilots living on a military base in Japan. This details the story of how they became more than friends and is strictly a ‘getting together’ story. We don’t get a lot of background for much of anything; we only really get enough information to set the scene. Bennett and Aaron are friends; Bennett is also attracted to Aaron but has no idea if Aaron feels the same way about him. Then they spend a night together and everything changes. The feelings and emotions in this are amazing (as usual with L. A. Witt), and both men contribute their fair share. One thing I really like about this book is that Aaron’s ‘hot-and-cold’ treatment of Bennett after sleeping with him, while aggravating, came from a place of actual concern/fear instead of some stupid misunderstanding. The fact that it was resolved easily but still not completely, given the circumstances, was also a plus. I definitely recommend this one.

 

The Summary: (from Goodreads) Fight pilot Bennett “Roid-Rage” McKinney has had a crush on one of his squadron mates, Aaron “Tex” Austin, for ages. The snarly RIO is sexy, sarcastic, gay… everything Bennett wants in a man.

When Tex has a rare night off from the chronic pain caused by an ejection a few years ago, he reaches for the nearest warm body… which just so happens to be Bennett’s.

After a hot night, though, Bennett wakes up alone. Tex starts sending him mixed messages—one minute he wants him, the next he’s cold-shouldering him. Bennett isn’t interested in playing games, not even with the man he’s been lusting after. One night stands are fine, but he’s not getting involved with someone who might disappear at the drop of a hat.

But as the men try to resist each other, he realizes he’s not the only one who’s afraid of getting involved with a flight risk…

This 20,000 word novella was previously published as part of the Unconditional Surrender Military Collection.

 

[available for purchase at Amazon.ca; also available in a bundle at Amazon.ca and Barnes & Noble]

 

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