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

TITLE: Square One – Under the Uniform
PUBLISHER: Aubergine Publishing
GENRE: Contemporary Romance
LENGTH: 247 pages
RELEASE DATE: September 20, 2018
PRICE: $3.88 -e-book /9.99 $ -paperback


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: “Bad Influence” by K.A. Mitchell

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


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

Review: “A Little Side of Geek” by Marguerite Labbe

TITLE: A Little Side of Geek
AUTHOR: Marguerite Labbe
SERIES: Geek Life Book
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner
GENRE: Contemporary Romance
LENGTH: 306 pages
RELEASE DATE: May 22, 2018
PRICE: $6.99 -e-book / $17.99 -paperback


When opposite worlds collide, it’s anyone’s game.
Proud geek and comic book artist Morris Proctor wants nothing more than to live in semiseclusion with his devil cat and gamer friends. Despite what his well-meaning family thinks, he’s perfectly content with his status quo. The last thing he needs is to date another nongeek hell-bent on changing him.
Then he meets his adorkable new neighbor, Theo Boarman, who doesn’t know Star Trek from Star Wars, but who tempts him like no other.
Theo has spent the last year recovering from the loss of his parents and trying to play both roles for his teenage brother, while working to keep the family restaurant afloat. Dating is the last thing on the menu, especially with a man who thinks the height of dining is shoving a packaged meal into the microwave.
But if Morris gives him one more shy smile or flaunts that kilt he wears so well, Theo will be forced to convince him that a hot summer fling is just the recipe to let off a little steam.
When that fling gets serious fast, Morris has to decide if he’s willing to give his heart to Theo on the chance that they’re a perfect mix.

This was a fun read for me. It was nice reading how two people attracted to each other, but they live very busy lives, actually have to figure out how to spend time together. It always seems that love stories go so smoothly and no one really has to work. It was refreshing for me. This author really pulled me into the geek world. I had to look up a couple of things to understand, but it was fun learning these new terms for me. The only thing I had trouble with was a chapter that didn’t really seem to belong. But this is the first book of a series, so I get trying to build up characters for future stories.

Morris is a geek with every aspect of the word. He’s recluse except for a few gaming friends, and his con shows that he does beautiful art for. I loved his crazy cat and their relationship. I found myself cheering on the cat lol. He has neighbors that he had never met until he was arguing with his cat and he was attracted to the man right away.

Theo took one look at Morris and those long legs in that kilt and knew he had to have him. Theo was raising his brother, Lincoln, since the death of their parents a year ago. He was also co-owner of the family restaurant and head cook. His life was extremely busy and knew he didn’t have time for a relationship. As he and Morris talked, he realized Morris’ life was just as busy. They decided to try a fling, but it was very difficult to hook up. But when they do, they each want more, but life has a way of getting in the way.

How will these two wonderful men find the happiness they want but don’t say? How will the family dynamics sit with Morris? Will they ever spend enough time together to realize they are for each other?

The author did a great job with all the characters, and I can hardly wait for the next book.

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

Review edited by : Laura McNellis

Review: “Heavens Aground” by G.R. Lyons

TITLE: Heavens Aground
AUTHOR: G.R. Lyons
SERIES: Treble and the Lost Boys
GENRE: Fantasy
LENGTH: 348 pages
RELEASE DATE: August 24, 2018
PRICE: $4.99 -e-book / $12.89 -paperback


Ryley Skye can’t take anything seriously. Not the murder scenes he investigates, nor the fact that he’s cheating on his boyfriend. Not the bloody nightmares he gets every other night, and especially not Vic’s ridiculous theory that Ryley might be a mage.
Magic? Him? There’s just no way.
When Vic decides he’s had enough of Ryley’s cheating and breaks things off, it couldn’t come at a worse time. They’ve just been handed a case that will require them to work closely together, whether they like it or not. But Ryley plays along. He has to. He can’t afford any kind of confrontation. Things happen when he gets angry or aroused. Weird things. Bad things. He has to stay bottled up and in control at all times.
Then he meets Asher Arden, and indulges in what he thinks is a little rebound fling. But when Ryley loses control and puts Asher’s life at risk, he realizes two things: He loves Asher more than anything else in the world…
And Vic just might have been right all along.
(Note: This story takes place in a fictional world, the same as in the Shifting Isles Series. There are multiple gods, different names for the days of the week, etc. A glossary is included.)

The author has done it again! He’s sucked me in, and I need the next book yesterday. I absolutely love these characters in this series. The author tells such a story that your heart just aches until the end. The reality of what some of these characters go through, to this day, still breaks my heart. Being a woman, I will never understand what a gay man goes through just for being gay, but my heart aches so much anyway. I loved my children unconditionally, and it blows my mind that there are parents that do not.

Now to talk about the characters without giving too much away. This second book has a lot of little twists and plots that I sure don’t want to spoil anything for you.

Vic and Ryley have been together for six years, but Ryley can’t stop cheating on Vic. But Vic will not have sex with Ryley. Ryley has terrible nightmares about lots of blood in his hair and lungs. Vic is very good at calming him down after one, but it’s not enough for them to stay together and Vic moves out.

Ash was pushed off a boat by his own father 15 years ago and survived. He’s been reliant on himself for shelter and food but he’s not had any human contact for all these years. Ryley has been investigating this case as of recently, and Ryley had found a clue, so he traveled to this island by himself. It blew my mind how Ryley introduced himself to Ash.

They bring Ash home and try to introduce him to humanity again. This is not an easy task, as you can only imagine. Ry and Ash have a great connection, and Ry wants to be faithful to him. Weird. But every time they have sex, the lights go crazy, and Ash ends up in some kind of pain. Vic had told him about the lights before, but Ry wouldn’t listen. It isn’t until a tragedy happens that he finally listens.

Will Ash get accustomed to society? Will Ry actually be faithful to Ash? Why won’t Vic have sex? So many questions and so little answers. This is an intense read. Well, it was for me. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. I apologize if this review seems vague but like I said, I don’t want to give away any spoilers.

***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: “Ice on Fire” by G.R. Lyons

TITLE: Ice on Fire
AUTHOR: G.R. Lyons
SERIES: Treble and the Lost Boys
GENRE: Fictional Universe
LENGTH: 341 pages
RELEASE DATE: April 27, 2018
PRICE: $4.99 -e-book / $12.99 -paperback


Zac Cinder is on the verge of making his dream come true. His punk rock band, Inferno, might have a shot at an audition for a record deal. Fame and fortune would mean he could finally help his parents. They’d raised eight kids in a loving household while barely scraping by, so Zac is determined to give back in any way he can.

Keeping Inferno together, though, means keeping his biggest secret. His bigoted bandmates would drop him in an instant if they found out Zac was gay.

Then he meets Adrian Frost, and Zac can’t resist the shy man. Adrian gives up everything to be with Zac, but Zac can’t bring himself to do the same. He doesn’t want to lose Adrian, but he can’t give up Inferno, either. Not when he’s so close to realizing his dream.

When one cruel decision rips Adrian from his life, Zac will have to decide if ambition is worth the price of the greatest happiness he’s ever known.

(Note: This story takes place in a fictional world, the same as in the Shifting Isles Series. There are multiple gods, different names for the days of the week, etc. A glossary is included.)

WARNING: Contains scenes of self-harm that may be disturbing for some readers. 

This author has amazed me again. He’s a definite must buy immediately for my book collections. I love how this author writes about real life issues that tug at my heartstrings. He really tells a story with real-life problems, consequences for their choices (good or bad) and has solutions with usually happy endings. Warning, this book does have self-harm and can be a trigger for some people. The way G.R. describes each character and the way they feel, I find myself holding my breath for them or crying with them and laughing with them. I found myself angry at some of the characters and falling in love with others. Getting frustrated with them and would yell at them, like they could hear me.

First, we meet Zac, aka Blaze. Zac is a very talented musician and leads a double life. As Blaze, he plays his electric guitar with his two childhood buddies in a rock band. And they are good and getting more and more recognition. Then he plays his violin for Treble at Underground. Playing the different styles can get to be a pain in the arse, but he loves them both so much. But playing at Underground has given him new inspiration. The man that sits in the back corner and can’t take his eyes off Zac. No one knows Zac is gay, but Zac must meet this guy, and after each show, the mystery man disappears.

Adrian Frost is the only son of the very wealthy Sebastian Frost. Adrian has huge social anxiety and has to take pills specially formulated for him just to deal with college. But he manages to get to the lounge anytime that Treble’s playing and gets lost in the violinist’s everything. His petite body, the long braid, how the suit he wears fits him so well and the music. He loves the whole package, but every time the show ends, he leaves so that he doesn’t talk to anyone including the violinist.

Well, they end up being in the same college and at the same table in a class. When Zac recognizes his dark shadow, the endless flirting begins. Adrian doesn’t know how to take all this. His father has kept him away from the reality of the real world and is a homophobic prick. These two are total opposites but are so good together, if they can figure things out. Zac has friends that are homophobes too, and trouble lies ahead for these two.

I can’t really say more, but I will say this—I rooted for these two from the get-go. Can these two come to terms of who they really are and not care what the world thinks? Will they get through the hardest times of their lives? Will they let the world conquer or will love? I can’t wait for the next book.

***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