Review: “Out” by Cara Dee

TITLE: Out
AUTHOR: Cara Dee
SERIES: –
PUBLISHER: Self
COVER ARTIST:
GENRE: Contemporary Romance
E-BOOK: Yes
PAPERBACK: Yes
LENGTH: 299 pages
RELEASE DATE: October 19, 2017
PRICE: $4.75 – e-book/ $14.99 – paperback
  

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“I guess I always figured coming out was something you did for friends and family, and maybe it is, but it’s personal too, you know? The person I was last night is new. I wanna get to know him.”

I had two things on my list when I arrived in Los Angeles. One, track down Henry Bennington, the uncle and guardian of my little brother’s best friend, and tell him to get his ass back to Washington. He needed to do something about his nephew, who was turning into a douchebag. And two, figure out just how non-straight I was. For the past two years, I’d had all these fantasies, and now was the time to explore them, far away from my sleepy little town.

Nowhere on this list did it say, “Get Ty’s uncle into bed and fall for him.” I wasn’t supposed to fall in love with another city either. But between brunch, making new friends, and discovering the man I was meant to be, I lost sight of the future that had once seemed pretty damn vivid. How the hell was I supposed to merge my old life and who I used to be with the new dreams Los Angeles and Henry had awakened in me?


I’m not sure that there are enough words in any language on this planet to express how much I loved this book. Out is such a wonderful coming-out, May-December story that it gave me goosebumps, had my skin tingling, and my heart beating like it was going to burst out of my chest. I’ve read a few of Cara Dee’s books and have been completely mesmerized with the characters and story, this was no exception.

Zach Coleman is twenty-seven years old and for the past two years has been feeling some confusion about his sexuality. Although he’s only dated girls in the past, he’s found that there are some guys that he’s been attracted to as well. But due to the small town that he lives in, he’s never acted on any of the feelings he’s been having. When Zach travels from his home-town of Camassia, Washington to Malibu, California, to try and find his brother’s best friend’s uncle, Henry Bennington, he also uses it as a chance to discover himself and find out once and for all if he really is into guys. What Zach didn’t expect, was that when he met Henry, he would be drop-dead gorgeous and it would leave him tongue-tied and lost for words. With the instant attraction and the fantasies that it brings, Zach is pretty much convinced that he definitely isn’t straight.

Henry Bennington is now forty-six years old, once an investment banker, he’s now the owner of Topaz Pages, a little bookstore in Malibu. Henry, originally from Camassia, was disowned by his old-money family when he told them that he was gay, so used inheritance from his grandparents to start a new life in California and has never really looked back. When Henry’s brother and sister-in-law died in a car accident, Henry was given custody of his nephew, Ty. But Henry’s parents didn’t approve of his lifestyle and made him doubt that he was capable of looking after a child. So reluctantly, Henry gave Ty to his parents to raise, and now Ty has almost no communication with Henry, which breaks his heart. When Zach turns up in his store and tells Henry that he’s the older brother of his nephew’s best friend, and that Henry needs to do something to try and change the path that Ty is heading on, Henry sees it as a chance to right the mistakes that he made with Ty in the past. Henry and Zach begin to form an unlikely friendship, but when Zach tells Henry and his friend Martin that he thinks he might be attracted to guys and wants to explore that side of him, they offer to take him to a gay bar in the area. Henry is then surprised to discover that he’s beginning to find Zach attractive and can see him as more than just a friend.

This starts a very passionate and intense relationship between the two men, but as always, reality has a way of reminding them that life is never simple and love isn’t easy.

Just in case I didn’t already make myself clear, I’ll say it again, I really, really, really loved this book. It was absolutely perfect in every way. There was nothing that I didn’t like. Even the chapter names made me smile every time I read them. Henry made me want to swoon on more than one occasion. He was the sweetest, most kind-hearted man you could meet, but in the bedroom…holy heck, I needed an industrial fan, because out came his dominant and kinky side, and it was hot as all hell. Zach completely embraced his new-found personality and sexuality, he became so comfortable in his body and mind, and was proud of who he was. It was simply a beautiful love story.

Oh, and there’s also a little surprise that had me clapping my hands and smiling in excitement. I think Zach and Henry may be my favourite couple that Cara has written. Read it. You won’t be disappointed.

***I would like to thank the author for the privilege and opportunity of reading this ARC. My review is an honest opinion of the book ***

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Review: “Train to Somewhere” by Susan Laine

TITLE: Train to Somewhere
AUTHOR: Susan Laine
SERIES: Before… and After
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
COVER ARTIST: AngstyG.
GENRE: Contemporary Romance
E-BOOK: Yes
PAPERBACK: No
LENGTH: 75 pages
RELEASE DATE: October 18, 2017
PRICE: $4.75 -e-book
  

BLURB:

It was only a game. Wasn’t it?

At a party one night, Charlie Dean’s childhood friend Will Tucker accepts a dare and dresses up as a girl: clothes, hair, makeup. Seeing Will that way incites a riot of confused emotions in Charlie—and he responds by lashing out. He never meant to hurt Will, and now he must do some serious damage control.

During a school trip by train, Charlie and Will share a sleeper cabin. Charlie intends to mend fences, while Will figures it’s as good a time as any to broach the subjects of attraction and sexuality. They want to get their relationship back on track. But after the secrets they both reveal, their friendship can never be the same.


Train to Somewhere is the third book in the Before… and After series but each book is a standalone story.

I loved reading Kissing Lessons, which is the second book in the series and I was hoping that I would love Train to Somewhere just as much. But alas, I had mixed feelings while reading Train to Somewhere and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to continue to read it after what Charlie did to his best friend Will. What do you ask did Charlie do to Will? Well according to the blurb after seeing Will dressed up as a girl, complete with clothes, stockings, hair, and makeup, Charlie has some confused emotions (i.e., he popped a boner) for his best friend and he responds by lashing out. I’m not sure if I would have described it as lashing out when Charlie rips the clothes from his body including his stockings all while Will is pleading with him to stop and then forces him into the shower in his underwear to scrub the makeup and hair gel off of him. I would have considered it abuse and assault, and I was sickened that Charlie would do that to his best friend. And when Charlie finally realizes what he’s done, he is sickened and terribly confused and ends up on a bridge contemplating suicide for what he did to Will and the loss of his friendship. He’s sure that he has lost his best friend and he knows that he only has himself to blame.

But Will comes looking for him and makes him confess to what had happened and what he had been thinking and feeling before forgiving him. A week after the party, they go on a school trip that has been a year in the planning. Will and Charlie, while trying to get their friendship back to what it was, will explore their new feelings and try to figure out their sexuality and through it all, Will reassures Charlie that they will always be best friends and he will never leave him. They both love each other but just as best friends at that point in their lives. They are only eighteen, and they don’t have romantic feelings toward each other.

I liked the epilogue that was ten years after the train ride and how they had kept in touch through the years and were finally ready to be more and finally secure in who they were. I really liked the ending of the book, but I now want to know how their relationship pans out.

Overall, I thought the second half of the book redeemed the first half, but I can’t help but wonder how Charlie would have turned out if Will hadn’t taken Charlie’s first violent reaction well and helped him redirect and process his feelings to be positive instead of negative. Would he have turned out to be a closeted gay that beat up guys that he desired because he couldn’t process his feelings and was adamant that he was straight?

So I’m glad that Will was such a good friend and gave Charlie the unconditional support that he needed and that his life went down a different path.

*** The ARC was provided by Dreamspinner Press. My review is an honest opinion of the book ***

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Review: “Safe and Sound” by Caitlin Ricci

TITLE: Safe and Sound
AUTHOR: Caitlin Ricci
SERIES: –
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
COVER ARTIST: Brooke Albrecht
GENRE: Contemporary Romance
E-BOOK: Yes
PAPERBACK: No
LENGTH: 84 pages
RELEASE DATE: October 18, 2017
PRICE: $5.94 -e-book
   

BLURB:

Second Edition

Twenty-one-year-old Mason has to get out of his mother’s house, where her boyfriend subjects him to unwanted advances—and won’t take no for an answer. Since she didn’t believe Mason when he told her about his uncle’s sexual abuse, Mason knows he’s on his own, and it’s up to him to raise the money he needs. He thinks he’s in luck when he takes a modeling job.

Oliver is a photographer, and getting guys and sex has always been easy for him. His current open relationship is no exception: more friendship and fun than anything. But when Oliver meets Mason, he can see the younger man is fragile and desperately in need of help. Before anything can develop between them, Mason needs to free himself of his terrible living situation and start on the road to healing. Oliver wants to stand beside him as he does. What surprises him is the discovery that he might need Mason as much as Mason needs him.


So I didn’t know at the time that I asked to review Safe and Sound that this book ties into the Thornwood series and takes place after Somewhere to Belong. I greatly enjoyed reading Somewhere to Belong and getting to know Eli and Grayson and the shy innocent Mason that worked at Green Acres Equine Sanctuary. It took me just a couple of minutes to figure out that the Mason that I was reading about in Safe and Sound was the Mason that I had fallen in love with in Somewhere to Belong. And I was so excited to get to read his story.

Mason has been through a lot, and there are somethings that he has kept secret from even his best friend, Eli. Like how he was sexually abused as a child by his uncle that was living with them at the time and how he told his mom but she didn’t believe him. Or that at twenty-one her current live-in boyfriend gives him the creeps and tries to touch him inappropriately. And he hasn’t bothered to say anything because she didn’t believe him before so why would she believe him now. So he’s been working for Green Acres and doing other odd jobs to save up for a place to rent so he can get out of his mother’s house. He also hasn’t come out at home, and that is also putting a lot of stress on him. When he sees an ad for a modeling job, he decides to give it a chance. When he meets Oliver for the first time, he’s nervous, but he doesn’t get any creepy vibes from him. And Oliver is instantly smitten with Mason and tries to put him at ease.

Oliver is a photographer and is always on the lookout for new faces. He’s in an open relationship with Chester who is also in an open relationship with Phillip who is also Oliver’s friend. But Oliver and Phillip are just friends. But Oliver and Chester are both just in their relationships for fun not that they are in love. But Oliver can see himself falling for Mason. It’s too bad that Mason isn’t into the whole open relationship. So Oliver will have to decide what he wants more. The possibility of a monogamous relationship with the potential for love or to continue with his safe open relationship.

The book ends with an HFN ending, and I really hope that this is going to be a series because I want more of Oliver and Mason, especially since there was no explicit content in this book. Not that the book wasn’t sexy or didn’t have any sexual content. Some kissing, light making out, and some slightly naughty pictures. But Mason is still an innocent virgin at the end of the book, and I hope that Oliver will eventually relieve him of it.

***The ARC was provided by Dreamspinner Press. My review is an honest opinion of the book***

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Review: “Coasting” By Yvonne Trent

TITLE: Coasting
AUTHOR: Yvonne Trent
SERIES: States of Love
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
COVER ARTIST: Brooke Albrecht
GENRE: Contemporary Romance
E-BOOK: Yes
PAPERBACK: No
LENGTH: 126 pages
RELEASE DATE: August 23, 2017
PRICE: $5.94 -e-book
  

BLURB:

What happens when you need something but don’t know what it is? Why not look in a place you never heard of?

Out and proud elementary school teacher Cal Hamilton thought he was happy in Philadelphia, but after a breakup, he steps back to reassess his life and discovers something is missing. He gets in his car and drives south with no idea what he hopes to find. The flip of a coin leads him to a small town in Mississippi—practically a different world from the city where he grew up.

Police officer Billy Labarre keeps his sexuality mostly to himself, but he knows just what he needs to fill the hole in his quiet small-town life: the right man. Unfortunately attitudes toward gay men still leave a lot to be desired in the rural South, and it’s hard to meet someone. It’s not likely his perfect match is just going to show up out of the blue….


This author has done a good job at writing the ultimate love story. This story is set in a small town in Mississippi where everyone knows everyone, and I could really feel this in the story. This author really focused on the process of falling in love and letting me really getting to know the characters. There is no angst or drama, just genuine love.

Cal is a teacher in Philadelphia and has recently ended a five-year relationship. He has decided to leave town and start a new life. He doesn’t know where he will end up but the flip of a coin sets his direction, and he ends up in Ocean Springs, Mississippi. Of course, when he gets there and there are no hotels available. When he’s ready to move to the next town, he runs into the cop.

Billy is a police officer that loves his small town and loves keeping it safe. Not that there are ever any problems, but he loves it all the same. Then he runs into Cal and instantly feels connected to him. They begin talking, and Billy has this need to offer Cal a room to rent at his place and doesn’t think twice about it.

They start dating and start having butterflies dance in their bellies. They fall in love pretty much instantly. As this story does let you think this could happen, this is where some of my doubts come in. I had a hard time believing someone would have a stranger move right into their house and falling in love, but stranger things have happened. This story is a great ooshy gooshy love story with great family connections, as well as good friends. So, if you are looking for a low angst mushy kind of book, look no further. You have found it.

***The ARC was provided by Dreamspinner Press. My review is an honest opinion of the book***

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Review: “The Fireman’s Pole” by Sue Brown

TITLE: The Fireman’s Pole
AUTHOR: Sue Brown
SERIES: Dreamspun Desires
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
COVER ARTIST: Bree Archer
GENRE: Contemporary Romance
E-BOOK: Yes
PAPERBACK: Yes
LENGTH: 220 pages
RELEASE DATE: October 15, 2017
PRICE: $4.99 – e-book/ $9.99 – paperback
  

BLURB:

The flames of passion rise for the lord of the manor.

It’s springtime in Calminster village, but things are already heating up. Sexy firefighter Dale Maloney is new to the local station. When Dale backs the company fire engine into the village maypole, he attracts the ire—and attention—of Benedict Raleigh, the Baron Calminster.

Soon after meeting Dale, Ben breaks off his relationship with his girlfriend, and the sparks between Ben and Dale are quickly fanned into flames.

Unfortunately the passion between the two men isn’t the only blaze in the village. An arsonist’s crimes are escalating, and it’s up to Dale and his crew to stop them. Meanwhile, as they investigate, an unscrupulous business partner attempts to coerce Ben into marrying his daughter. The May Day parade is around the corner, but they have plenty of fires to put out before Ben can finally slide down the fireman’s pole.


The Fireman’s Pole is set in the fictional village of Calminster in the English countryside. It’s an enjoyable feel-good little romance with a bit of dramatic excitement to keep you hooked.

Dale Maloney has recently moved to the village for a fresh start. He left his previous station just outside of Nottingham when his ex-partner, Baz, cheated on him with a female firefighter that they both worked with. Dale and Baz were in the closet at the station, so no one knew that they were in a relationship together, and after the betrayal by Baz, Dale couldn’t stay there any longer. Now, Dale has vowed that he won’t hide who he is from the people he works with anymore. So when he arrives at the Calminster village fire station, the first thing he does is tell the other members of the crew that he’s gay, and Dale is over-the-moon to find that everyone is absolutely fine with it.

Benedict Raleigh, or Ben to everyone who knows him, is the nineteenth Baron Calminster of Calminster Hall. When Ben’s parents died, Ben took over the running of the family’s businesses, the estate and village. For the last nine months, Ben has been dating Sabrina, who’s the daughter of one of his business partners. Ben knows he’s expected to marry Sabrina, but Ben isn’t attracted to Sabrina in that way. In all of the time that they’ve been dating, their relationship has never been physical, and Ben can’t seem to bring himself to take that next step either. Ben knows he’s attracted to men, but also knows he’s supposed to marry a woman and produce an heir for Calminster Hall. So Ben is resigned to the fact that even though it’s not what he wants, his life has basically been mapped out for him because none of the villagers or his business associates would accept him being gay or living with a man.

When a fire breaks out at the home of Mrs Wilson, who’s been Ben’s family’s cook since he was a child, Dale and the rest of the crew race to the scene, where Mrs Wilson is found outside in the garden, unconscious. When Ben arrives and tries to cross the cordon to get to Mrs Wilson, he instantly clashes with Dale and gets on the fireman’s wrong side. Dale doesn’t know who Ben actually is, he’s heard about the lord of the manor but hasn’t managed to see him yet, until he finds himself having an argument with the man who owns the village. Dale was expecting an older, rotund man wearing tweed, not someone good looking and around the same age he is. The next day, when the firefighters go to the village green to do the inspection for the upcoming parade, Dale is driving the fire engine when he needs to move to let another vehicle pass, one of the crew tells him to reverse onto the grass but doesn’t warn him he’s heading straight for the village maypole, until he hears the crash. When he gets out of the vehicle the maypole is lying flat on the ground, the fire engine has a slight bit of damage and heading straight towards him with steam practically coming from his ears is Ben. Dale does everything he can to apologise for what had happened, but Ben is furious and won’t hear it until Dale offers to fix the pole in time for the May Day parade. Dale and Ben somehow manage to keep causing each other irritation, but at the same time they both find each other really attractive, and even through the disharmony, they can’t help but sneak little looks at each other in admiration.

Ben and Dale finally sort out their differences, and soon become very friendly with each other, which surprises everyone in the village. But a few people start to notice that it’s more than just friendship between them, and as much as they try to deny it, their actions speak louder than words. To Ben’s amazement, the people who he’s closest to are really supportive of him being with another man, and it makes him believe that he can be happy without having to hide who he is to everyone.

This book was a lovely little change from the norm. The relationship between Dale and Ben was a slow-burner, they waited a long time to get to the sexual part of their relationship, and it was nice to see that two people can get to know each other and enjoy spending time together without jumping into bed the first chance they get. I think that the wait for the first sexual encounter definitely added to the enjoyment when it actually happened and made the whole thing seem very authentic and natural. I really liked how the story was written, the plot and the setting. But I do have one slight criticism, and that’s the ending. I felt that the story ended too suddenly and would have maybe benefited from an extra chapter or epilogue to tie everything up. Apart from that, it was a brilliant book to read, and I’m so glad that I had the opportunity.

****The ARC was provided by Dreamspinner Press. My review is an honest opinion of the book****

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