Tag: Fiona Lyle

Review: “Summer Ride” by Susan Laine

TITLE: Summer Ride
AUTHOR: Susan Laine
SERIES: –
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
COVER ARTIST: Tiferet Design
GENRE: Contemporary Romance
E-BOOK: Yes
PAPERBACK: No
LENGTH: 112 pages
RELEASE DATE: March 30, 2018
PRICE: $4.99 – e-book

BLURB:

High school best friends Toby Billings and Jim Maverick went their separate ways after graduation. Five years later, they meet by chance. Toby needs a ride, and Jim offers to give him one.
During a journey across several states, with stops at roadside diners, state parks, and cheap motels, small talk turns to serious discussions of lives that didn’t turn out the way either of them dreamed. Their choices are catching up to them, and neither is on an innocent summer vacation. Renewing their friendship will mean painful admissions and secrets coming to light. Yet they discover they have more in common now than they ever guessed, and going their separate ways at the trip’s end won’t be easy.
After aimlessly wandering the country, all roads lead back home. But first they must decide what home means.


Summer Ride was a cute little friends to lovers story that had me laughing out loud at times, but also needing a cold shower at others. It’s a story that definitely kept me entertained and stimulated throughout.

Toby and Jim were best friends in high school, but since graduation, they haven’t seen or spoken to each other at all. Now aged twenty-three, they meet out-of-the-blue at a bus station where Toby was waiting and that Jim just happened to stop at while passing in his car. When the two men connect again and discuss what they’ve been doing with their lives and where they’re heading, Jim offers Toby the chance to join him on his journey, even though neither of them has a plan as to where they’re actually going. Along the journey, they discuss their memories and fall into the comfortable and easy relationship they once had. But there’s one big difference between now and when they were teenagers. Both of them are now out and proud gay men, even though they don’t know/realise it about each other. When they talk about their reasons for escaping their lives for however long they’ll be staying on the road, they discover that their lives aren’t as perfect as everyone would believe. And if they have any chance of being happy in the future, then they’re going to have to head back home and face up to their problems. But as the attraction and lust grow, and feelings of more than friendship develop between them, parting again isn’t going to be as simple or painless as they thought.

I really enjoyed this book. It was well written and had a good pace and flow. The characters were very likeable, and I couldn’t help forming an attachment to them. Toby and Jim also made a great couple. There was a lot of chemistry between them which I think was mainly due to their close friendship. An extra bonus was that it meant the sex between them was pretty damn hot too. All I’ll say is be prepared for chapter twenty and the dirty talk; you may need a few minutes to get yourself together before continuing. *wink*

My only criticism of the story is that some of the vocabulary used didn’t feel like it fit with the characters. Toby and Jim didn’t come across as being only twenty-three. Even though I knew that was their age, I couldn’t help but think of them being a lot more mature. I would put them more at late twenties to early thirties. So when they called each other “bruh” it just seemed awkward and out of place. But it really is only a small issue and may not bother you as much.

This book is perfect for when you’re having a lazy day and want a good story, but not something that’s heavy with emotion or angst. I would definitely recommend it because there’s a pretty high chance I’ll be reading it again myself.

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

Review edited by : Laura McNellis

Review: “Staggered Cove Station” by Elle Brownlee

TITLE: Staggered Cove Station
AUTHOR: Elle Brownlee
SERIES: Coast Guard Rescue, Dreamspun Desires
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
COVER ARTIST: Bree Archer
GENRE: Mystery/Suspense
E-BOOK: Yes
PAPERBACK: Yes
LENGTH: 216 pages
RELEASE DATE: March 20 , 2018
PRICE: $4.99 – e-book/ $9.99 – paperback

BLURB:

Rescues are wild in the Alaskan terrain. So is romance.
Sun-kissed California guardsman Dan Farnsworth might be at home in the water, but he’s out of his element at remote, rugged, and freezing Staggered Cove Station. Acclimating proves hard enough, but he’s also digging into how the station’s previous rescue swimmer was lost at sea. Was it an operation gone bad or something more sinister? Add to that the instant tension between him and his partner—no-nonsense Alaska-born Karl Radin—and Dan has his hands full.
As his investigation heats up, so does the attraction between Dan and Karl, even if they don’t completely trust each other. But as suspicious events escalate to sabotage, Dan starts to fear that he and Karl won’t get the chance to become more than reluctant coworkers.


Staggered Cove Station is a story that I was certain I was going to love based on what I had read from the blurb. Unfortunately, it didn’t quite turn out that way. Now, I’m not saying I hated or didn’t enjoy it, because there was a lot about the book that I did like. It just wasn’t what I expected.

The story revolves around a Coast Guard station in Alaska and the people who work there. New arrival Dan Farnsworth has come to the station with a secret. He knows all about the rescue swimmer that has gone missing and is presumed dead, and he believes that there’s some sort of cover-up going on within the station. He knows the person who is missing was one of the best and strongest swimmers around, so doesn’t believe he would have gotten into any kind of trouble in the water that would have led to his drowning and disappearance. Dan plan’s to fully investigate what happened without letting anyone know that’s what he’s doing. His main suspect, the person who was in charge of the operation that day and who he believes is responsible, is the locally-born Alaskan native, and now Dan’s new roommate, Karl Radin.

Karl Radin has been a member of the Coast Guard for many years. Karl is meticulous about everything he does, that way there’s less chance for something to go wrong. He loves his job and takes it very seriously. But due to his experience and length of service, he also gets a little bit more leeway with the boss than the rest of the team. When the station’s previous rescue swimmer went missing, it really affected Karl. He can’t stop thinking about what went wrong or if there was something he could have done differently. The fact that they’ve still not recovered the body just leaves a lot of unanswered questions. When Karl discovers that Dan is his new roommate, he’s kind of shocked as he’s almost always had the room to himself. But just to add to the issue, Dan seems to have some sort of chip on his shoulder and doesn’t come across as being the friendliest of people to have to share with. The other problem is that Dan is extremely attractive. So even though Karl knows he’s attracted to men, it’s not something he’s acted on as the job has always come first, but being in such close proximity to Dan, even with his chilly attitude, is going to test all his resolve.

Over the time working together the two men begin to form a good working relationship and friendship. But also discover that the mystery of the missing team member isn’t all what it seems. This brings them even closer, to the point where the attraction to each other is something that can’t be ignored any longer.

As I’ve already said, there was a lot about this book that I did really like. I loved the story concept and plot. It was really well thought out and had a few good twists to add to the excitement. I liked the characters and how their relationship developed across the story. Based on what I got from the story Karl is older than Dan, but as we never find out their ages, I don’t know how much of an age-gap there is. It could be anything from 8-20 years. This is one of the small details I like to know. I also had a couple of issues with how the story was written. Often there was a jump between the characters dialogue and I found myself having to go back a few sentences or paragraph to remind myself what was going on. I also found the pace of the story to be a little slow for my liking.

Overall, it was a nice and easy read with a great little HFN ending. And even though I was expecting more, I can’t say I was left feeling disappointed because I really wasn’t. It was definitely a story worth reading.

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

Review edited by : Laura McNellis

Review: “Exodus” by CC Bridges

TITLE: Exodus
AUTHOR: CC Bridges
SERIES: Heaven Corp
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
COVER ARTIST: L.C. Chase
GENRE: BDSM; Sci-Fi
E-BOOK: Yes
PAPERBACK: Yes
LENGTH: 200 pages
RELEASE DATE: February 27, 2018
PRICE: $6.99 – e-book/ $14.99 – paperback

BLURB:

The truth could lead to war.
Henry “Hank” Abraham enjoys being one of the most sought-after personalities in Heaven. Life is good in the floating city for someone born to one of the wealthy and influential Founding Families. Hank parties with the privileged and beds someone different every night, flouting the morality laws that control the lives of the common people on the city’s lower levels. Then someone tries to kill him—repeatedly. Terrorists have Hank in their crosshairs, and his long disinterest in politics has come home to roost.
Ian Caldwell has been a security guard for the Abraham family for years. He survives the hypocrisy by sneaking away to the BDSM clubs on Earth to feed his baser desires. When he’s assigned to protect Hank, Ian pushes his attraction for his client aside. That kind of thing could get him reprogrammed. But he doesn’t count on actually falling for a man who isn’t as shallow and self-absorbed as he seems. Neither of them is prepared for the truth behind the attacks. Their journey will take them from Heaven to hell and beyond… and it might bring the tension between the classes to a violent head at last.
Second Edition
First Edition published by Dreamspinner Press, March 2014.


If you’ve read the first book in this series, then you’ll already be familiar with Ian and Hank. However, you don’t have to read the first book to be able to read this one as it’s written as a complete stand-alone. Although we do get to meet some of the characters from book one, this story is about how Ian and Hank first met and how their relationship began, so when we come across the other characters, it’s like meeting them for the first time.

Hank Abraham is a privileged socialite who lives with his family in Heaven. Hank is a rule breaker and likes to see how far he can push boundaries. He’s known for being a bit of a playboy, and whether it’s a man or woman in his bed, it’s all the same to him. As he’s the youngest child and not the heir to the family’s business, whatever he does, no matter how wrong, is usually ignored by everyone around him, even those in power. When Hank wakes up after a one-night stand with a woman he met in a club the night before, he tries to do his usual, which is sneak out before the other person notices. But as he goes to leave, his family security guard, Ian, is waiting outside the window in a vehicle for him. Again, Ian is the only member of security to successfully track down Hank when he was trying not to be found. As they pull away from the building, there’s a large explosion in the room Hank has just left from, which leaves him shaken up and confused. Ian is then assigned as Hank’s personal security by Hank’s mother, as he’s the only person that Hank seems to listen to. When another couple of incidents occur, Hank realises that it’s not just a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, and that someone is actually trying to kill him. With the help and expertise of Ian, they just need to try and figure out who and why?

Ian Caldwell grew up in Heaven, although in the lower levels of the 360’s. So although his life has been hard at times, it’s definitely not been as bad as the people from down below. Ian has always known that he was attracted to men, and in Heaven, this goes against all of their morality laws. The fact that Ian is also into BDSM and a Dom means that no one around him can ever find out about his personal life or he’d be taken to get his memories wiped and reprogrammed by the angels. Ian has worked for the Abraham family for many years, and although the youngest, Hank, can be hard to deal with, Ian always seems to be able to outsmart him, it’s an added bonus that Ian also finds him to be very attractive. And more often than not, his thoughts when around Hank turn to how he would like to have him over his knee, punishing him for flouting the rules. When Ian and Hank are forced to be together for an extended period of time due to attempts on Hank’s life, Ian finds himself becoming more and more attracted to Hank and the person he is behind his public persona. When Ian is unwittingly followed by Hank to the Downside and his BDSM club, and is then framed for something he didn’t do, he realises that to save both their lives and reputations, he’s going to have to make deals with the enemy and give up his valued privacy.

I really liked this book, even though I found it to be a little slow to start. I enjoyed getting to know the back-story of Hank and Ian, as I really liked them in book one. But it was quite strange to almost go backward from the first book instead of forwards. And from where they’re at as a couple at the end of this book and where we see them in book one, it still seems like there’s a lot missing. Even so, it was a very well written and entertaining story, that kept my full attention the whole way through. At the end of the book, there’s a little sneak peak of book three in the series, and I’m going to fully admit, I didn’t read it. I prefer the experience of finding out the storyline/plot of a book when I pick it up for the first time.

Personally, I don’t want to see the first few pages or chapter of the next book at the end of the one I’m reading, to me, it spoils it a little. But I will definitely be reading book three when it becomes available because this series has been so much better than I could have ever imagined. Also, if like me, you’ve recently watched and enjoyed Altered Carbon on Netflix, then this book will be right up your street.

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

Review edited by : Laura McNellis

Review: “Teaching Ben” by Shae Connor

TITLE: Teaching Ben
AUTHOR: Shae Connor
SERIES: Dreamspun Desires
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
COVER ARTIST: Bree Archer
GENRE: Contemporary Romance
E-BOOK: Yes
PAPERBACK: Yes
LENGTH: 218 pages
RELEASE DATE: February 20, 2018
PRICE: $4.99 – e-book/ $9.99 – paperback

BLURB:

Learning to love means a study in patience.
Fresh out of the military, Ben Cooper is ready for a new start. He’s away from his domineering father, making his own choices… and out of the closet. On his first day of college, he meets David Powell, who’s just the kind of gorgeous man Ben’s dreamed of. Too bad he’s the teaching assistant—which makes him off-limits in Ben’s eyes.
David is Ben’s age, but his life has taken a different path. He’s close with his family, who helped him deal with personal struggles after he came out. And while he’s staying away from any hint of scandal, Ben’s a kind of temptation he hasn’t faced in years. If only they’d met on more equal footing.
As the semester progresses and their lives become more entwined, keeping their relationship platonic becomes more difficult. They just have to hold out until the end of the semester….


I don’t quite know what to say about this book except that it was a really lovely, feel-good story, which was an incredibly enjoyable read. I loved the plot and characters from the first chapter of reading and found myself thinking about the story long after I had finished the book. I’ve never read anything by this author before, so wasn’t really sure what to expect, but I can happily say that this definitely won’t be the last book I read from her.

The blurb says more than enough about the story, so I won’t go into any further details as this would be spoiling the experience of reading the book for you. What I will say, is that the supporting characters (except one) are just as amazing and loveable as the main characters, and add a real depth and authenticity to the story. If you’re anything like me, then you’ll be left wanting more.

The romance between Ben and David is a slow-burn, so it isn’t going to appeal to everyone. But I found that it was the reason that I enjoyed the book as much as I did. They started out as friends, and the relationship grew from there. From the first glimpse of each other in the lecture hall, the first conversation, the mutual attraction and compatibility, and then the joint self-imposed abstinence, it all added to the build-up and anticipation of them finally getting together. There was no rushing into anything, no matter how much they both wanted more. So when it finally did happen, it was a much more intimate and emotional experience for them. And as a reader, this was a nice change from characters jumping into bed together just days/hours after meeting. It felt like I was right there with them on their journey, experiencing their feelings and desires. And also to have a romance with a HEA that had basically no drama or angst, was like a breath of fresh air.

The story is written in the third person, from both Ben and David’s POV, so you get a real feel for what each character is thinking and going through as everything progresses. I’m a big fan of dual POV, and think that seeing things from both sides adds a lot to a book. In this case, it was again true, because it worked so perfectly for how the plot/story developed and flowed.
I genuinely don’t have anything negative to say about this book or how it’s written. All I know is that I smiled a lot while reading. And at the end, I felt happy…real, tangible, glowing happiness. I wish it was a feeling I could take away from every book I read.

Do I recommend this book? Of course, without a doubt, I just hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

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

Review edited by : Laura McNellis

Review: “Hurricane Reese” by R.L. Merrill

TITLE: Hurricane Reese
AUTHOR: R.L. Merrill
SERIES: –
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
COVER ARTIST: Kanaxa
GENRE: Contemporary Romance
E-BOOK: Yes
PAPERBACK: Yes
LENGTH: 205 pages
RELEASE DATE: January 30, 2018
PRICE: $6.99 – e-book/ $14.99 – paperback

BLURB:

The life of Tony-winning musician Reese Matheson resembles a natural disaster, and caregiver Jude De La Torre is caught in the eye of the storm. But can the love of two opposites survive caring for an ornery octogenarian with wayward balls and a meddling family insistent upon tradition?
Fresh off the successful London run of his musical, the last thing Reese expects when he comes home is a house surrounded by paparazzi and his girlfriend throwing his stuff into the pool. All he wants to do is spend time with his beloved grandfather and musical mentor who suffers from Alzheimer’s. Reese knows he doesn’t have much time left before the elder Matheson forgets who he is. In classic “Hurricane Reese” form, he moves into the cottage by the sea and displaces Jude, the intriguing caregiver he hired two years before. When Grandpa proves too much for Reese to handle on his own, Jude comes to his rescue, taming Grandpa… and the Hurricane as well. Soon all Reese can think about is how to get Jude out of his scrubs and into his bed—permanently. Will Hurricane Reese destroy everything in his path, or will this odd couple learn to harmonize together?


How do I even begin to explain the love I have for this book? It was unexpected, surprising, and incredibly emotional, but also quite funny at times. I’ve read a few books that deal with “issues” such as depression and suicide/suicidal thoughts, but I’ve never read a book where Alzheimer’s is involved. Although it isn’t the main theme of the story, there is still a big part of the book that has this horrible and heart-breaking disease in the foreground. This, along with one of the main character’s fear of coming out due to his family’s cultural and religious beliefs, meant that I was holding back the tears and trying to push down the lump in my throat on several occasions. The story really was an emotional roller-coaster.

Hurricane Reese is a wonderful example of an opposites-attract love story. The characters of Reese and Jude really couldn’t be any more different if they tried. Reese became an orphan when his parents died in a car accident; his grandmother then died four years ago, so the only family Reese has left is his grandfather, Thomas. Reese is rich, famous and successful, and usually gets whatever/whoever he wants. Jude comes from a very large Catholic Filipino family, and although they aren’t poor, they aren’t well-off either. Everything that Jude has, he has worked for himself, and that’s the way it will always be.

Jude is the live-in caregiver for Thomas, but he’s also studying part-time to become a nurse. Jude and Thomas get along really well, and Jude sees Thomas as a grandfather to him too. When Reese arrives back home to spend some time with Thomas before the disease takes over and he forgets all about Reese, Jude didn’t realise that it would then leave him without a job and a home. But Reese struggles to look after Thomas and the house on his own, and when Thomas goes missing one morning, Reese admits defeat and calls Jude for help. Jude agrees to go back to the house, but this time Reese will follow his rules and routine for Thomas.

The three men are enjoying their time together, but the close living arrangements, make it hard for Reese and Jude to hide their growing attraction to each other. And as time goes on, the attraction becomes flirtatious and feelings start to develop. But Jude is in the closet to almost everyone except a couple of members of his family and very close friends, and because Reese and Thomas are technically his employers, he doesn’t think getting involved with Reese would be appropriate. The fact that a lot of his family also believe that being gay is a sin makes it all the more difficult for Jude to accept what’s happening between him and Reese. Reese knows exactly what he wants from Jude, the ten-year age gap, Jude working for his grandfather and Jude’s own fear’s aren’t going to stand in the way. But Reese hasn’t met Jude’s extremely religious family, and maybe this is a barrier that he won’t be able to just push aside?

The author has done an absolutely brilliant job of bringing these characters to life. They are so well written that I almost forgot they weren’t real and I was just reading a story. I LOVED Thomas, he was so funny, even though he’s always talking about his balls. The moments where he wasn’t so lucid and forgot who Reese was really pulled at my heartstrings though. It showed a vulnerability that we never get to see when he’s having his good days. Reese and Jude also make a great couple, and they are the perfect balance for each other in both strength and weakness. The supporting characters were blended so well into the story that you really wanted to get to know them better instead of it feeling like a name/person was just added in for the sake of it.

I know this is going to be a hard book to read for some people, especially with some of the subject matter, but it truly is an amazing story. I loved every little bit of it. The ending was beautifully sweet and full of the feels, I couldn’t have imagined/wanted it to be more perfect. Love is love.

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

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