Review: “Square One – Under the Uniform” by JJ Harper

TITLE: Square One – Under the Uniform
AUTHOR: JJ Harper
SERIES: –
PUBLISHER: Aubergine Publishing
COVER ARTIST: JC Clarke
GENRE: Contemporary Romance
E-BOOK: Yes
PAPERBACK: Yes
LENGTH: 247 pages
RELEASE DATE: September 20, 2018
PRICE: $3.88 -e-book /9.99 $ -paperback

BLURB:

Xander is angry and fed up with being signed off work for something that was out of his control. He loses himself in alcohol and one-night stands, anything to dull the pain in his head.
Jonah is enjoying the freedom away from his small-town life, living life to the full in a big city. A few weeks away from starting his job as a firefighter, he embraces the nightlife and the men found in the clubs. One man, in particular, catches his eye, and not even exchanging names, they spend a night lost in each other, and then another. Still not bothering to find out any more about each other, they go their separate ways.
Until they find themselves face-to-face at work.
Unable to stay away from each other, they embark on something that soon morphs into so much more. Deeper, more intense, looking a lot like love.
But will it be enough when Jonah hears some life-changing news and he turns to Xander for support?


Square One is a 55k word standalone gay romance and a part of the multi-author Under the Uniform M/M romance book series released by Aubergine Publishing, which also includes:
Dance With Me by Ann Grech
Made to Measure by Viva Gold
Rescue Me by T.A. McKay
Isola di Fiore by Lou Watton
Hot Nurse by Brad Tanner
Long Tall Texan by L. J. Harris


JJ has done it again. This time with two smoking hot firemen and the fire is hot. I love how she
brings two men together and the chemistry is so strong from the get-go. She loves to capture my heart and not let it go and making me want more. Along with the chemistry, she always throws heartache in there and this time is no different. My heart breaks for these men that are not accepted by their families for being who they are. No one should ever feel that conditional love and should never be ashamed of who they are.
Xander has been off work since a terrible incident at a scene that was out of his control. He has to see a therapist until she releases him back to the fire department. The incident has really messed with his head, so he turns to drinking too much and one-night stands. He doesn’t sleep with the same guy twice until an extremely sexy (didn’t get his name) tells him where he can find him again. He seeks out Mr. Sexy, but he still doesn’t want his name and sneaks out before he wakes. Finally, he gets released to go back to work.

Jonah is new in town and checks out the local club and enjoys some of the locals. He can’t believe how hot this one-night stand is and tells him to come find him if he wants to hook up again. Jonah comes from a small town, and he wasn’t very welcome there when he came out
as gay. He’s very excited to start his new job at the fire department and to feel part of a team again. Mr. Hottie came, and they hooked up again without names. They were both in a hurry just to get naked.

On Xander’s first day back he’s a bit nervous. He’s heard from his best friend about the new guy and how great he is. What a shock when he walked into the station and was introduced to Mr. Sexy. They both do their best to be professional, but they can’t seem to keep their hands to themselves. They both soon realize they have more than sexual chemistry together.

They are falling for each other and hard. The day Xander moves in with Jonah, Jonah gets life changing news.

Will this be too much for Jonah to handle? Will Xander be able to handle this news? Will Xander be able to support Jonah whatever the decision is? Can these two survive the heat? I would love to help you out with these questions, but you’ll have to do what I did and read this steamy love story.

***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 ***

Review edited by : Laura McNellis

Review: “Blood and Rain” by Shira Anthony

TITLE: Blood and Rain
AUTHOR: Shira Anthony
SERIES: Blood
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
COVER ARTIST: Reese Dante
GENRE: Paranormal
E-BOOK: Yes
PAPERBACK: Yes
LENGTH: 280 Pages
RELEASE DATE: Dec 15, 2014
PRICE: $ 6.99- e-book/ $ 16.99- paperback

BLURB:

Adrien Gilbert has spent several lifetimes searching for the love he lost. Born in the 1800s into a clan of fabled vampire hunters, Adrien once wanted nothing more than to tend his family’s vineyard in southern France or read a good book. But Adrien’s peaceful existence ends abruptly when his older brother, François, is murdered. Bound by his hunter’s oath, Adrien sets out on a path that will forever change his life when he agrees to execute his brother’s killer, the vampire Charles Duvalier.
After months chasing the elusive Charles, Adrien reluctantly makes a bargain with Nicolas Lambert, an ancient vampire. Adrien will escort Nicolas to Paris for his marriage to a rival clanswoman, and Nicolas will help Adrien find Charles. Nicolas’s quiet strength and gentle heart soon convince Adrien that Nicolas is nothing like the vampires he has sworn to destroy. As the wedding date draws nearer, a force intent on destroying the fragile peace between the vampire clans threatens to tear apart both the vampire realm and the world of the hunters. To secure both past and future for those he loves, Adrien must find a way to stop the looming war between hunters and vampires. But first he’ll have to let Nicolas go.


I’m going to start out by saying that I really enjoyed this series. It’s one of the best vampire series I’ve read. Flashbacks in books have always been an issue for me because a lot of time they’re not very easy to follow. This book is book one in a three-book series. Being book one, there’s a lot of information being thrown out and adding flashbacks, I got a little cross-eyed. I thought the storytelling and world building was absolutely fantastic. The author did a great job with not only telling an intriguing story, but she actually brought in so many details that it was so easy to be transported into the world she created.

Adrien Gilbert is a hunter. Born into one of the most powerful hunters families, he accepts his place, but he also wants to live a quiet life on his family’s vineyard. The problem is that he pledged his life to the hunters at age sixteen, so his life is not his own. When his brother is murdered, things quickly go from peaceful to utter chaos. Being a Gilbert and a bound hunter, he’s expected to perform his duties no matter how high the cost. His first assignment, take the life of the vampire that murdered his brother.

Nicolas Lambert is an ancient. Born into one of those oldest and most powerful clans, he’s surprisingly humble and soft-hearted. Nicolas has pledged to marry a clanswoman from a rival vampire clan seeking a truce between the two ancient rivals. Adrien has been hunting his brother’s killer for months with no luck. He won’t give up, but it’s like he’s just chasing a ghost. When an old mentor of Adrien’s presents an opportunity to help catch his brother’s killer once and for all, Adrien knows he can’t refuse. He needs to avenge his brother’s death and complete the contract from the hunters by any means necessary. Nicolas’ overly protective brother, Jean, hires Adrien to escort Nicolas to his betrothed. All Adrien has to do is get Nicolas to Paris safely, and Nicolas will help him find Charles, the vampire responsible for his brother’s death. Simple right? Not even close.

I enjoyed the characters although sometimes I got a little impatient with Adrien’s childishness. He has a lot of anger towards vampires in general, which is understandable and I don’t necessarily blame him. I just wish he would actually seek answers instead of just holding on to his animosity. Nicolas is adorable. He is such an original character. I assumed with him being an ancient and clearly powerful that he would be insufferable, but he wasn’t at all. He showed so much patience with Adrien even when I felt Adrien didn’t deserve it. The secondary characters were just as enchanting as the main characters.

I highly recommend this series. The first book is a little mind numbing at times because a lot of information is being thrown out, but if you stick with it, you’ll find you’re flipping pages and rushing to find out what happens next.

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

Review edited by : Laura McNellis

Review: “The Second Time Around” by Rowan McAllister

TITLE: The Second Time Around
AUTHOR: Rowan McAllister
SERIES: –
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
COVER ARTIST: Adrian Nicholas
GENRE: Contemporary Romance
E-BOOK: Yes
PAPERBACK: Yes
LENGTH: 200 pages
RELEASE DATE: Sept 11, 2018
PRICE: $6.99 e-book / $14.99 paperback

BLURB:

Though born into wealth and privilege, Jordan Thorndike can’t keep pretending. He’s never going to become the lawyer his parents hope for or provide the daughter-in-law and two-point-four grandkids they expect. Faced with an ultimatum—carry on living the lie or get out—Jordan leaves with only what he can pack in his BMW. Homeless, jobless, directionless, Jordan heads to one of his mother’s pet charities: Better the Second Time Around Rescue Ranch. With his family name and charm, he has the staff eating out of his hand in no time—except for one man. Russ has never been handed anything, and he resents the spoiled rich brat using the ranch to live out a fantasy. Though Jordan is determined to prove himself to Russ through hard work, family and old wounds complicate matters. Will Jordan realize that what he sees as an escape is real life for most people? And can Russ accept that Jordan can grow—and that he wants him?


Jordan is 24 years-old, born with a silver spoon in his mouth and had never had to worry about money, health care or everything else since Mommy and Daddy had always taken care of it… Until Jordan comes out to them and his family rejected him. Jobless and homeless, Jordan only had his shiny car and his backpack when he came to B STAR, a rescue ranch for animals where he used to visit when he was younger.

Russ is the right-hand of Phyllis, the owner of the ranch, when he meets Jordan for the first time. He only sees a spoiled, rich brat who doesn’t know what real work means.

Jordan is at a crossroads in his life and he has to decide what kind of life he wants…one like his parents want for him, or one really for him. With the help of Phyllis, the horses and especially Russ, Jordan will have to make the right choices for his own happiness.
The Second Time Around by Rowan McAllister is my second book by the author, and like for the first time, I wasn’t disappointed and really loved it.

Jordan is completely lost when he comes to B STAR. He’s an emotional mess and only wants to forget his situation. He tries to avoid thinking of it by diving into work and seducing Russ. It works for one, but Russ is another subject, and the man always reminds Jordan how useless he can be. Until Jordan speak his mind and call Russ on his shit. That’s when things change for them. It was sweet and hot, like super-hot and I completely melted for them.

Russ is over 40 years-old, but the two are a very good match. Jordan is young, immature and a drama queen, but he’s also very smart and kind with a big heart. He tries to avoid thinking of his situation because he doesn’t really know how to deal with it, that’s when Russ came. With his care, gentleness, experience, and love, Russ helps Jordan to figure out what he really wants in his life. They were perfect for each other.

Rowan McAllister has a super good writing style that I like. The book and plot are captivating, and the feelings are very well written and developed without plot holes or inconsistency. That’s what I love here—the plot is simple—a young man trying to know what he wants in his life who meets an older man who knows what he wants in his life. But it was so well written with the feelings developed so well without being forced on us that you can only read the book and hold on it until the HEA.

I gladly recommend this book, It’s a good May-December book, with adorable MCs that you will love as much as I have.

It’s 4 OptimuMM for the Cowboy and his fallen Prince.

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

Review edited by : Laura McNellis

Review: “Raising the Bar” by Leigh Dillon

TITLE: Raising the Bar
AUTHOR: Leigh Dillon
SERIES: States of Love
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
COVER ARTIST: Brooke Albrecht
GENRE: Contemporary Romance
E-BOOK: Yes
PAPERBACK: No
LENGTH: 91 pages
RELEASE DATE: September 7, 2018
PRICE: $3.99 – e-book

BLURB:

Destin Bellingham has inherited a problem. Thanks to his late playboy father, Destin faces putting a For Sale sign on his family’s historic horse farm. Getting his talented stallion, Black Sambuca, into the Grand Prix show ring would put Bellmeade back on the map—if only someone could make “Sam” behave like a show horse.
Disgraced top rider Tonio Benedetto has his own problems, but he can work magic with difficult jumpers, so Destin hires him despite his bad-boy reputation. The street-smart, openly gay loudmouth from Miami and the closeted, buttoned-down son of Old Dominion Virginia make a rocky pairing, but time is running out to save Bellmeade from bankruptcy.
Opposites attract, sparks of tension grow into flames of passion. But if Tonio fails to tame Sam, will true love become a lost cause too?
States of Love: Stories of romance that span every corner of the United States.


Raising the Bar by Leigh Dillon is part of Dreamspinner’s States of Love series. This book takes place in Virginia. I liked the storyline and the flow of the book. The book is only ninety-one pages long, so it’s a nice quick read, perfect for relaxing when you only have a couple of hours. Definitely recommended for people who enjoy opposites-attract storyline and problem show jumper horses. I happen to like both of those characteristics in a story, and I did enjoy reading this book. My only disappointment in the story is that I wish the author had stated what kind of horse Black Sambuca is. I would have liked to have known if he was a pure breed horse or a cross. Although since they’re planning to breed him, I would assume that he was a pureblood. But the author doesn’t mention what kind of horses the Bellingham’s were breeding. It would have helped with my visualization of what the horses on the farm looked like.

I liked Destin Bellingham. He’s inherited the family farm when his playboy father dies suddenly. Moving back from Boston, Destin finds that the family farm is about to go bankrupt. Destin may have grown up on the farm, but he’s out of his element trying to keep Bellmeade afloat. His only hope of putting Bellmeade back on the map, getting back their sponsors and saving the farm is his incredibly talented stallion, Black Sambuca. However, he first has to find somebody crazy enough to ride the powerful horse. I would have liked Destin more if he’d been a little more confident in his abilities. He grew up on this farm, but he acts like he has no idea how to run it or what needs to be done to keep it afloat. Tonio even mentions a lot of things that can be done to help keep them afloat while getting Sam where he needs to be in his jumping career but Destin isn’t willing to do any of them.

I really liked Tonio Benedetto. He’s on the smaller side with a wiry build, but he has a lot of personality. He also has an alcohol problem which he’s dealing with. For Tonio, alcohol makes him belligerent and for Destin, it’s almost a deal breaker after he takes Tonio to dinner on the first night that Tonio comes to evaluate Black Sambuca. But I liked how Tonio realizes that he messed up and promises that it won’t happen again. I also liked that Tonio isn’t willing to give up on Black Sambuca. I also liked the chemistry between Tonio and Destin. He compliments Destin in areas where he lacks experience.

Overall Raising the Bar is a cute, fun, short novella about a show jumper rider and a show jumper breeder and owner and a black stallion that is too smart for his own good.

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

Review edited by : Laura McNellis

Review: “Bad Influence” by K.A. Mitchell

TITLE: Bad Influence
AUTHOR: K.A. Mitchell
SERIES: Bad in Baltimore
PUBLISHER: DSP Publication
COVER ARTIST: Kanaxa
GENRE: Contemporary Romance
E-BOOK: Yes
PAPERBACK: Yes
LENGTH: 260 pages
RELEASE DATE: June 12, 2018
PRICE: $6.99 -e-book / $14.99 -paperback

BLURB:

To remake their future, they’ll have to use pieces of their broken past.
The young man the world knew as Jordan Barnett is dead, killed as much by the rejection of his first love at his moment of greatest need, as by his ultra-conservative parents’ effort to deprogram the gay away.
In his place is Silver, a streetwise survivor who’s spent the last three years learning to become untouchable…unless you’re willing to pay for the privilege. He shies away from anything that might hold him down long enough for betrayal to find him again.
Zebediah Harris spent time overseas, trying to outrun the guilt of turning his back on the young man he loved. Now, almost the moment he sets foot back in Baltimore, he discovers Silver on a street corner in a bad part of town. His effort to make amends lands them both in jail.
Trapped together in a cell, Silver sits on his mountain of secrets and plans a seductive form of revenge, but finds that using a heart as a stepping stone is no way to move past the one man he can’t forgive, let alone forget.
Warning: Contains a surly hero. May cause angst. A prolonged delay in sexual situations may cause frustration. Author recommends a steady dose of familiar friends and characters to alleviate those symptoms. No actual teenagers were used during the construction of the backstory.


I have just loved this series, and this was no disappointment. Mitchell has really tugged at the heartstrings this time. I loved how she deals with real-life situations that occur, but people like to pretend they don’t. Homophobia is real, HIV is real, Teen homelessness is real, and teen sex is very real. I know some people have issues with teen sex, but it was a 17-year-old. I was that age myself, and I was into older men myself. It was only a 5-year gap. That isn’t nothing. So, if these issues bother you, this is not the book for you.

Jordan, aka Silver, was brought up by a horrible family that sent him to a camp to take the gay out of him. Such a ridiculous notion. He was caught having an affair with his teacher. They really cared for each other. But it all came to a halt when his family sent him away. So he ran away and became a homeless teenager that sold himself to survive. Then one night at the club, he sees this teacher again and freaks out.

Zeb, aka teacher, sees Jordan in the dance club and follows him out when he ran out. There’s a confrontation and the homophobic cops show up and arrest them both. Zeb struggles with why Jordan treats him so badly. It’s like Zeb is to blame for everything that’s happened to him. When the truth is, he lied to Zeb about his age all those years earlier.

I really love how the characters from previous books come together to help Silver cope with everything going on including his HIV diagnosis. This book deals with a lot of issues but is wrapped up in a pretty red bow. Blood family isn’t always best for people. The family we hand-pick and surround ourselves with can be more of a family than the one we were born into. HIV isn’t like it used to be. I love how his friends support him and don’t treat it like a death sentence. It’s not a death sentence anymore. There’s good medicine to keep it bay, and you can live your life as anyone else. Safe sex should be an everyday practice, so why do people have to act horribly.

Zeb and Silver go through a lot, but their love is there and will get them through some of the roughest life choices. This book proves to me that no matter the situation, no matter the terrible family dynamics and no matter your past, life can be good. You just have to keep putting one foot in front of the other.

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

Review edited by : Laura McNellis