The 2012 Digital First Read-A-Thon Starts June 1st!

Starting June 1st, Book Binge will be hosting a Digital First Read-a-Thon with Tracy's Place, The Book Reading Gals and Novel Sidekick. We're super thrilled to be cross-promoting all things digital first with some fabulous book bloggers.

For the entire month of June, we challenge each and every single reader out there to read as many digital first e-books as you can. There isn't a set number of books you have to read. There isn't a set list of authors that you must read. For that part of the challenge, you set the rules. The only rule we have is that the books read for this challenge have to have been published as an e-book FIRST.

We're not talking about the e-books that are being re-released right now that were apart of print anthologies back in the day. We're talking about books like Slow Summer Kisses by Shannon Stacey, Crazy on You by Rachel Gibson or Room for Love by Sophie Pembroke. All books that were released to the public as e-books first.

There will be heaps of guest authors stopping by all four blogs involved with the Digital First Read-a-Thon so really, stop by and visit us. We'll have giveaways, excerpts and a whole bunch of other goodies so it should be a good time. Load up those e-readers everybody, we're going to have loads of fun come June 1st.

Happy reading!

Review: Necessity's Door by Fiona Glass

Being an openly-gay detective in Birmingham comes with its share of problems. For one, the pay is awful. For another, Jake always gets stuck with the crappy undercover jobs. Like posing as a prostitute to catch the new crime boss in town—a man notorious for rough sex with pretty young rentboys.

Jake’s latest op is fraught with difficulties, all of them men. Like his partner, Mac, who he’s secretly fancied for months. And his new client, Graham, who he keeps sleeping with for reasons far beyond maintaining his cover. And of course there’s the target, Frank Warren, who’s much harder to lure than anyone had anticipated.

The longer the job drags on, the tougher it gets for Jake to juggle his own needs with those of the job. They may be closing in on Warren, but Jake’s heart—and his sense of right and wrong—are slipping through his fingers. Mac is there to back him up, but is he really the man Jake needs? Tough to know among all those lies Jake's been telling himself and everyone else.

Jake is on a case that requires him to play a rentboy. He's not thrilled with the job but he knows that he that he fits the description of the type of boys that the perp goes for. One night when he's on the street he gets propositioned by a john and he takes him up on it. They head to apartment that the department got for him and they actually end up having sex. Jake really likes the john, Graham, as he just doesn't seem like your regular punter.

Jake feels awful that he actually took money from a customer but he's in a bit of a financial bind so he's thinking maybe he can keep the money hidden from the department. It's not really like him but what's a poor underpaid cop to do?

Jake's seriously confused. He's got the hots for his partner, Mac, and has for quite but Mac is firmly on the heterosexual side of the fence. When Jake gets contacted by Graham again he says he'll see him again but then there's the problem of the money again and his own morals. It's just a confusing time.

This was an interesting book. I liked the internal problems that Jake was having with both his attraction to Graham – not only because he was, supposedly, a customer but also because he was married and Jake was lying to him about who exactly he was. He was so confused and I felt for him. Unfortunately the internal struggle wasn't quite as emotional as I felt it should be.

Graham was another enigma. I just didn't know him at all and though we weren't really meant to I felt like I needed to in order to get a good grasp on the situation. Mac was a great friend and I really admired his strength and his loyalty to his friend.

Though I enjoyed the story and thought it was a good one I just didn't think that it was long enough for the level of angst. I would have liked to have known more about all of the characters and delved deeper into Jake's issues.

Rating: 3 out of 5

Fiona Glass

What I Read Last Week

Happy Memorial Day!

I hope you all had the day off and enjoyed it! I've been reading, watching movies with the kids and doing laundry. Yep, I really know how to live it up. Lol

I did get to go to work every day this past week which was good. My back still hurts but not nearly as bad. Still taking drugs but at least I can live a fairly normal life – yay. :)

So on to what I read this past week:

First on the list was Necessity's Door by Fiona Glass. This is another book in the Riptide Rentboys series. I'll be posting my review this week.

Next up was A Night Like This by Julia Quinn. The second book in the Smythe-Smith series about Daniel Smythe-Smith and how he fell in love with a Governess. You can read my review here. 4.25 out of 5

Tyler by Christianna Spencer was my next read. This was a short about two guys who are on a college road trip and have a discussion about how Aiden feels that Chase is a bit vanilla in the sex department. Aiden heads out to a bar to find a guy (with Chase's permission) and he meets Tyler. Fun ensues. This was so cute. You definitely have to keep an open mind about the whole situation to truly appreciate it all. 4 out of 5

Next up was Experimental Repeatability by Elinor Gray was a short story about 2 gay men who are best friends. One has had the hots for the other for years but has never acted on it. One night when they're drunk I thought this was a really good story. I didn't actually realize that Eric was gay at first so I was a bit confused by his actions but once I figured that out it all fell into place. 3.75 out of 5

Tangle of Need by Nalini Singh was next and it was a good one! This was Adria and Riaz's romance but there was quite a bit of Sienna and Hawke as well as other previous characters in the book. The overall story arc continues and ramps things up. I really wanted more of Adria and Riaz who were dealing with some serious issues but I was satisfied in the end. 4.5 out of 5

Ninetten by AJ Mars was the story of Ezra who meets Nick while at an outdoor party in a parking lot. They take off to be alone together and one thing leads to another. Ezra is just nineteen and is a virgin. This story involves a lot of internal thought on Ezra's part and not a whole lot of dialogue between the two men. I loved that the internal thoughts fit Ezra and his age and didn't actually seem like an older man was stuck in a nineteen year old's body. Good stuff. 4 out of 5

Undercover Alliance by Lilly Cain is the story of Sarina who is an humanoid alien and was scarred in a somehow. Her L'inar was damaged and she can no longer reach orgasm. This is an issue as her people use sex as stress relief and without it go insane. She is a warrior and if she can't fight she WILL go insane. She is instructed to cover a human who is a lawyer working on the treaty between Earth and Sarina's planet. Someone is after John but that doesn't stop them from having a little fun in their down time. A good story that was entertaining. 3 out of 5

Lord Atwood's Lovers by Eva Clancy was the story of Charles and Imogen who have been married for 4 months. They have a very different type of relationship but are totally in love. Charles is still in love with his previous lover though. I'll review this this week so stay posted.

The Wary Widow by Jerrica Knight-Catania was the story about Chloe who heads to London from Essex to chaperone her cousin in her season. Even though Chloe is only 19 she is a widow. Chloe, unfortunately finds herself falling in love with her cousin's betrothed, Andrew, and he falls in love with her as well. Parts of this story are so very sweet and a bit heartbreaking but there were others that I just couldn't go for. Like Andrew and his identical twin Michael trading places to fool the cousin, Elizabeth, so that Andrew can spend time with Chloe. Andrew doesn't want to break it off with Elizabeth because he doesn't want to ruin her reputation but will sleep with Chloe. IDK, I was very torn with the story. 3 out of 5

Ambush by Clare London was a very cute short story about the characters from True Colors. Zeke heads to Miles's office and ambushes him with a little sex. It's very hot and a great little story. 3.5 out of 5

Angels and Airhead by Anne Brooke was a short about Ricky who has had feelings for his friend Jez for forever but felt that Jez was out of his league and too high class for Ricky. Ricky is visited by his guardian angel and shown that maybe Ricky should look things a little differently. Very short but cute. 3 out of 5

Last for the week was Payback by Clare London - yet another story involving the True Colors characters. Miles is getting a little payback with Zeke for Zeke's little ambush in his office. Another hot little short that was worth the read. 3.5 out of 5

My Book Binge reviews that posted this week:
A Gentleman Says “I Do” by Amelia Grey
My Lady Rival by Ashley March

Happy Reading!!

Review: A Night Like This by Julia Quinn

Anne Wynter might not be who she says she is…

But she's managing quite well as a governess to three highborn young ladies. Her job can be a challenge — in a single week she finds herself hiding in a closet full of tubas, playing an evil queen in a play that might be a tragedy (or might be a comedy—no one is sure), and tending to the wounds of the oh-so-dashing Earl of Winstead. After years of dodging unwanted advances, he's the first man who has truly tempted her, and it's getting harder and harder to remind herself that a governess has no business flirting with a nobleman.

Daniel Smythe-Smith might be in mortal danger…

But that's not going to stop the young earl from falling in love. And when he spies a mysterious woman at his family's annual musicale, he vows to pursue her, even if that means spending his days with a ten-year-old who thinks she's a unicorn. But Daniel has an enemy, one who has vowed to see him dead. And when Anne is thrown into peril, he will stop at nothing to ensure their happy ending…

After three years on the Continent in exile Daniel Smythe-Smith has returned. He happens to return on the night of the infamous Smythe-Smith Musical and sees Anne for the first time - he is mesmerized. He seeks her out the moment she heads off stage and plants a kiss on her. Anne is more than startled to not only see a strange man coming at her but when he kisses her she’s shocked. She figures out who Daniel is but since she’s only a governess she knows that nothing more can become of the kiss.

Daniel isn’t one to stand on convention and he certainly doesn’t care that he’s an Earl and Anne is a governess. He’s smitten and the more time he spends with Anne the more he wants her. Anne has feelings for Daniel that seem to grow exponentially every day but there is more to her than meets the eye and she knows that it will stop her from ever finding love or having a family…or any kind of future with Daniel.

Book two in the Smythe-Smith Quartet and oh was it a good one. I just adored Daniel and how he was so determined to get Anne. He was just so persistent but was very sweet and tender about it without looking like a weak man. He knew what he wanted and wasn’t afraid to go after it.

I completely understood Anne’s reluctance to get involved with Daniel in any way. First she didn’t want to lose her position. If her charges mother let her go she would be out on the street with nowhere to go. Because of things that happened in her past her family had turned her out and that just broke my heart. I was so happy to hear that she secretly still corresponded with one of her sisters (a future story about Charlotte would be great!). Then there was the threat of the man who had been involved with the scandal in her past who wasn’t quite in her past as she would have liked. She couldn’t live with knowing that if she gave in to Daniel she might be putting him in danger. I had to admire her for her strength. After everything that this woman had gone through she was still a very kind person and wasn’t afraid to share her humor and generosity to her charges and Daniel.

Part of my love for this story was Daniel’s thoughts about Anne. He struck me as such a romantic at heart (though that didn’t stop him from being strong and protective at the same time). There were times when his thoughts just spoke to me. Early on in the book Daniel and Anne head to Rotten Row with Anne’s charges:

…he and Miss Wynter had sat and chatted, talking about very little in particular. And all the time he could not stop thinking how very much he’d wanted to take her hand.

That was all. Just her hand.

He would bring it to his lips, and bow his head in tender salute. And he would have known that that simple, chivalrous kiss would be the beginning of something amazing.

That was why it would have been enough. Because it would be a promise.

*sigh* What a guy! lol

Julia Quinn’s stories are almost always a great read for me and this one was no different. A Night Like This was delightfully romantic and fun with characters that I felt I’d like to be friends with. My kind of book.

Rating: 4.25 out of 5

Saturday Song

When I was growing up Elton John music was a staple in our house.  Goodbye Yellow Brick Road was one of my favorite albums with this song, Funeral For A Friend/Love Lies Bleeding, taking one of the top spots.  It's actually two songs put together but it just worked so well that I couldn't help but love it.  Hopefully you'll like it too.  Enjoy!

Review: Undone by Her Tender Touch by Maya Banks

Just one night? Yeah, right. Pippa Laingley should have known better. When an unplanned evening of passion with Cameron Hollingsworth results in unplanned pregnancy, she's at a crossroads. She knew going in that the enigmatic entrepreneur had built a fortress around his feelings. What she's just discovered is that he's loved and lost before—wife and child. Tragically.

Now Cam stands to lose it all again. If he lets Pippa get too close. If he pushes her away with loveless arrangements of financial support. Either way, he's doomed…unless he can let himself love again.

Cam is totally hot for Pippa and vice versa. One night they decide that they're finally going to quench their lust for each other. Cam is up front about the fact that this is just a one night stand, he will not call her and he does not want a commitment. Pippa is all for it and agrees whole heartedly. They spend a night of total passion and it's wonderful.

The next day Cam calls Pippa and lets her know that he found a condom and realized that it had broken. He lets her know that there's a possibility that she might be pregnant. Pippa freaks a bit but since she's trying to get her business off the ground she tries to concentrate on that instead of the possibility of being a single parent.

Pippa eventually discovers that she is indeed pregnant and Cam is more than happy to be there with her every step of the way. But Cam wants to wrap Pippa in cotton wool and Pippa's not up for that at all. Cam and Pippa start to be friends but then Cam will pull back. Despite Pippa telling herself that it would be the worst thing for her to fall in love with Cam she ends up falling anyway. But Cam is cold, remote and completely emotionally unavailable. He has had experiences in his past that makes him the way he is and is not willing to let the past go and move on with his life.

In this story Pippa is great. She's strong and determined to start her business. She's not afraid to tell Cam how she really feels and stand her ground and I had to admire her balls of steel. Cam was completely intimidating and I can't say I would have stood up to the man.

Cam was so screwed up in this book. He really was living in the past and was so scared of living life that he was letting it pass him by. I understood why he was frightened of letting Pippa into his life as well as the new baby but he was so mired in the past that he couldn't let go and make that step into the future. He was really mean to Pippa at one point and frankly I didn't want him to get Pippa back in his life. There was much grovelling but it just didn't feel like it was enough to me.

While I liked the story it seemed kind of odd at times to me. For all of the work that Pippa put into her business it almost seemed like once it was up she just didn't care about it too much. Then there was the fact that Pippa, who was a very smart woman, completely ignored any information about childbirth. She read all about being pregnant and the child's development after the birth but didn't want to know anything about labor and delivery. This just seemed uncharacteristic to me since she was such a smart woman and not one to be uninformed.

So while I thought it was a good story and a nice end to this series I did have some issues with it.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Maya Banks

Review: Somebody to Love by Kristan Higgins

After her father loses the family fortune in an insider-trading scheme, single mom Parker Welles is faced with some hard decisions. First order of business: go to Gideon's Cove, Maine, to sell the only thing she now owns—a decrepit house in need of some serious flipping. When her father's wingman, James Cahill, asks to go with her, she's not thrilled -- …even if he is fairly gorgeous and knows his way around a toolbox. 

Having to fend for herself financially for the first time in her life, Parker signs on as a florist's assistant and starts to find out who she really is. Maybe James isn't the glib lawyer she always thought he was. And maybe the house isn't the only thing that needs a little TLC….

Parker Welles has always lived the good life. She's never had to worry about money as her father had made millions. She lives with her 5 year old son in the family home and lives off her trust fund. She is an author of a series of children's books but has donated all of the proceeds to Save the Children.

When she finds out that her father has lost all of his money – an her and her sons trust funds – in an insider trading deal she's shocked. She's not sure what she's going to do but she is strong and knows that she'll make it through.

She is reminded that an aunt left her a home in a small town in Maine so she heads up there to flip the house and possibly then live off of the money for a while while she tries to find a job. Her son is on a 3 week trip with his father and she's ready to rock and roll. The problem is that house she considers more a shack and the aunt was a hoarder. The house is a complete pit and she's not sure she can fix it.

Her father's now unemployed lawyer shows up to help her as he used to do carpentry before he became a lawyer. Parker has never cared for James Cahill as she just believes that he is her father's lackey but she admits that she's always been attracted to him. She also resents James a bit because her father treats him better than she treats her and like the son he never had.

James was smitten and in love with Parker from the moment he saw her. He has attended many family parties both with and without Parker's father so he knows a lot about her. Though Parker treats him like he's an non-entity he still doesn't want to give up on his feelings for her.

Parker finally gives in to James and they start a “summer fling” but what happens when both of their feelings grow and then real life gets in the way?

This was a really good book made all the better by James. He was just a great guy. He was a man who knew what he wanted and wasn't all that afraid to go after what he wanted. He would have done it earlier but Parker was always more emotionally unavailable.

The part I really didn't care for in this book was Parker. It's not that she was a bad person but her thinking at times really baffled me. I just didn't get why she was so determined to push James away when he proved again and again what a great person he was. On that flip side of that I really couldn't understand what James saw in Parker and kept coming back for. No, she wasn't a bad person but she hadn't ever treated him very well.

I have to say that there was one part at the end of the book that made me love James even more but if I tell you I'll completely ruin it! Lol Just let me say that it was one of the sweetest things I'd ever read.

This was a really great story that had great characters for the most part. The secondary characters were wonderful and the citizens of the town in Maine were wonderful. I would have liked this story much, much better if I'd liked Parker more but despite that it was worth reading.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Kristan Higgins

Mini Review: Crazy on You by Rachel Gibson

Return to Lovett, Texas, the setting of Daisy's Back in Town, in this smart and sexy new story from Rachel Gibson, the New York Times bestselling author of Rescue Me and the Seattle Chinooks books.

Lily Darlington's been called crazy in her day-and, yeah, driving her car into her ex-husband's living room probably wasn't the smartest move ever made-but the louse deserved it. Now Lily is happily single, and she's turned it all around. She knows she's a good mom, a homeowner, and a businesswoman, all wrapped up in one good-looking package.

A package that police officer Tucker Matthews is dying to unwrap. This ex-military man sure doesn't need another woman in his life. His last girlfriend left him with nothing but memories and a cat named Pinky! But living next door to Lily has been driving him nuts. He dreams about her long blonde hair and even longer legs. And maybe it's time to go a little crazy . . . and fall in love.

Lily has been considered a little bit nuts for most of her life. She's now trying to make that reputation change but people in Lovett, Texas have long, long memories. She now has a successful business and is taking good care of her son and wants all of the bad talk to just go away.

Tucker Matthews is new in Lovett and the new next door neighbor of Lily. When he meets her he is instantly smitten and makes sure that she knows how he feels right off the bat. Lily is worried that Tucker will find out about her “craziness” as well as the fact that Tucker is 8 years younger than she is. She doesn't want to make another bad decision and end up acting crazy. She really likes Tucker but she's not sure she wants to make their relationship public and have people talking about her again.

This story is really focuses both on the romance as well as the idea of appearances and living your life on what other people think.

Tucker is such a doll and tells Lily right off the bat that he likes her enough to make this a long term thing. He doesn't just want the occasional booty call he wants it all. Now I did think he fell hard and fast but moved pretty quickly but you have to admire a man who knows what he wants and goes after it with no hesitation. He just really likes her son and is all in from the get go. Lily is so worried about what other people will think about her she doesn't really examine her feelings for Tucker. She likes Tucker so much but because he's so much younger than she is she knows people will talk.

The resolution to this story was really great. Lily's final decision to let her love for Tucker show to the world was very sweet and was a nice end to a cute story.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Rachel Gibson

Character Sketch: Sean O’Hara with Heidi Belleau

Hi, I’m Heidi Belleau! I’m here to talk about my upcoming short story “Cruce de Caminos” an erotic horror being published as a part of Riptide’s Rentboys line. As with most of my published work, I share writing credits with my good friend Violetta Vane. Our particular co-writing relationship is pretty much a 50/50 split in all respects, so we share equal responsibility in creating characters and following through on that characterization. (IE, our stories aren’t like roleplaying, where one person is responsible for one character and control of the narrative is handed back and forth on that basis.) To keep things consistent, we write detailed character bios during the planning stages on every single thing we write so that we have something to refer to.

As a bit of a behind-the-scenes treat, I thought I’d give you a taste of that process by showing you the initial character sketch we came up with when we first dreamed up Sean O’Hara way back in the spring of 2011, when we were planning “The Druid Stone”, a longer novel featuring Sean. I’ve left it unedited, other than cutting a few spoiler-y things. You might even catch the first seeds of the backstory that would eventually become “Cruce de Caminos”!

Sean O’Hara:
Prominent bone structure on long oval face, angular jaw, strong, straight nose. Full lips. Hazel eyes. Eyebrows form sharp, dramatic line. Thick, full, wavy dark brown (almost black) hair, grown out and slightly messy from cheap cut. Undefined muscles, fit but with a bit of padding, swimmers build. Photo inspiration: Michael Cardelle.

Defining Personality Traits
Brash, tends to overcome nervousness by throwing himself into the middle of new situations. Can seem impulsive, but actually thinks through situations pretty carefully, unless exhausted. Due to unpredictable life, rarely takes things for granted, and is prepared to act quickly/decisively when necessary. Has a hard time trusting new people.

Mannerisms / Style of Dress:
Expressive speaker, smiles easily, charming laugh. Tendency to be loud and crass. Laid back mannerisms. Generally wears jeans and (nice) t-shirts, especially gaudy A|X prints. A bit of a peacock in his styling.

Important Interpersonal Relationships
His mother, who died when he was 10, painkiller overdose - good relationship and memories of his mother, although he subconsciously blames her for not protecting him from his father. Father, abusive and dismissive, completely estranged. Aunt (Marisa), difficult relationship at first because she challenged him a lot, now fairly close. Cold relationships with Boston O’Hara family as they obviously do not accept him as one of them, and he’s not interested in trying to make them. Has decent relationship with cousin (Martha), though not as close as with his aunt.

Dropped out of high school when he ran away.

Defining Life Events
Death of mother. Decision to leave home - father moves his 20yr old girlfriend into house who is obviously a drug addict. Rough encounters on the road, ended up in jail a couple times, a fight over money ends up with him in the hospital with a concussion (tire iron to the side of the head, has scar but covered with hair so not visible).

Sexuality / Sexual Self-Perception
At present, flexible. Fairly average for a (straight) teenager his age, until he became a runaway and got exposed to transactional sex, prostitution.

Family Background:
Estranged from his father, a blue-collar worker with a string of short-term jobs, and his father’s family who don’t accept that he is mixed-race. Mother died; is close to her sister and her sister’s daughter, but never close “enough”. Not because they aren’t welcoming, but because he generally has a sense of never belonging with them.

Now of course, this document is meant to represent an older Sean, so it might not be a perfect match for the character you’ll meet in “Cruce de Caminos”, but see if you can spot the ways he’s changed!


Want to win some “Cruce de Caminos” swag, as well as a few other surprise New Orleans goodies? Leave us a comment on this or any of our other Riptide Rentboys blog tour posts with your email (or other contact info), and we’ll enter you into our week-long draw!

How about a copy of “The Druid Stone”, which picks up Sean’s story five years later? Click here to try your hand at our Cruce de Caminos quiz!

About Heidi and Violetta:

Heidi Belleau and Violetta Vane are two unlikely friends and co-writers from different sides of the same continent. Heidi, from Northern Canada, is a history geek with a soft spot for Highlanders and Victorian pornography. Violetta is a Yank (and a Southerner, and a Japanese-American) with a cinematic imagination and a faintly checkered past. Together, they write strange and soulful interracial and multicultural m/m with a global sensibility and the occasional paranormal twist.

Visit us online!

About “Cruce de Caminos”, out now from Riptide Publishing:
Addiction drives Sean O'Hara to a critical crossroads. Will he make the right decision, or will the floodwaters bound for New Orleans sweep him away?

Street kid Sean O’Hara never had it easy, but New Orleans has driven him to his knees. His girlfriend’s broken up with him for a sugar daddy, a gun-toting pimp has robbed him of everything but the clothes on his back, and he’s down to his last two OxyContin. Sean’s no seasoned streetwalker, but he’s not above it either, not when he’s already itching for his next fix.

A familiar-seeming stranger named Ángel may be his ticket to some quick cash, but only if Sean’s willing to help him indulge a high-class john’s weird fetish for the night. As Ángel tells him, in this city and this business, you have to get a little weird to survive.

When night falls on the French Quarter, Sean realizes Ángel and the john want more from him than he was expecting to give. What once seemed merely strange soon crosses the line into supernatural and sinister. And Ángel, the man Sean had viewed as a partner and protector, might also be his otherworldly judge and executioner.

What I Read Last Week

Happy Monday!

It’s a happy Monday for a couple of different reasons. First is the fact that my back is much improved. My back ended up being much worse than I originally thought and not only was it screwed up but I somehow exposed my sciatic nerve. Oh fun. I didn’t actually work at all last week except for 2 hours and was on some serious drugs. I’m a happy camper to be back at work. Second is that my youngest is back at school at feeling much better as well. Yay for good health! lol

The winner of the Joely Sue Burkhart giveaway is Ames. Congratulations! 

Since I was home all of last week it was a quiet week so there’s not much to say – I’ll just get on with what I read.

First up was a paranormal story that I got for free from Amazon called Samson’s Lovely Mortal by Tina Folsom. This is the story of a woman who is in San Francisco for work and accidentally meets Samson, a vampire. He has been impotent for about 9 months but when he meets Delilah things start looking up so to speak. But there’s someone who is after Delilah and they find out that that issue is related to Samson’s company. There were miscommunications and trust issues in the story and of course the whole he’s a vampire thing didn’t work in his favor. It was a good book but not fabo – not bad for a free read. 3 out of 5

Next up was my TBR Challenge read for the month - Everything and the Moon by Julia Quinn. This was the story of two people who are broken up for 7 years by their own huge misunderstanding. You can read my review here. 3.5 out of 5

Diva and the Frat Boy by Daisy Harris was my next read. This is the story of flamboyant Nathaniel and staid and conservative Greg and how they came together. You can read my review here. 3 out of 5

Cruce de Caminos by Heidi Belleau and Violetta Vane was a novella that takes place, for the most part, in New Orleans and deals with a guy who is on drugs and heading down the wrong path in life. He is assisted in a very strange way by a man who may be a god of some sort. You can read my review here. 3 out of 5

Crazy on You by Rachel Gibson is a novella in the Lovett, Texas series. This is the story of Lilly and her reputation for being a nutcase and the relationship with her younger next door neighbor, Tucker. My mini-review will post on Wednesday. 3.5 out of 5

Next up was The Governess Affair by Courtney Milan. The story is about a governess, Serena, who is basically raped by a Duke. The duke’s assistant, Hugo, is sent to get rid of her when she refuses to leave the premises without her demands being met. Hugo and Serena have an odd connection and end up falling in love. This is seriously one of the best novella’s I think I’ve ever read. It definitely is one of the top 10…and near the top of the list. The story is kind of a prequel to the Brothers Sinister series and tells how the Brothers Sinister came to be. The odd but compelling romance between Hugo and Serena was so very touching and sweet and warmed my heart. Definitely a must read and one that I will re-read many, many times in the future. 5 out of 5

Alien Mate by Eve Langlais was up next and was the story about Kor who’s from another planet who comes to take his mate, Diana from Earth, back home. The story deals with Diana’s resistance and how Kor deals with it as well as his crazy brother once they get back home. Not bad for an erotic sci-fi novella. 3 out of 5

My next read was The Harder They Fall by Trish Jensen. This is the story about a woman who is trying to save her families restaurants from being sold to a large corporation. Darcy and the rep from the corporation end up in a relationship but it’s not all fun and games. My review will post on The Book Binge – I’ll let you know when that goes up. 3.75 out of 5

The Malorie Phoenix by Janet Mullany was a historical novel about a woman pickpocket who has a tryst with a man one night at Vauxhall Gardens. She ends up getting pregnant and when she believes she’s dying not long after giving birth she finds the man and gives him the baby. Seven years later she’s asked to impersonate a woman and ends up engaged to her daughter’s father. It was a good romance as well as having some suspense involved. The hero started out ok in my mind but went downhill throughout the book. I didn’t hate him by the end but my admiration for his good deeds quickly died near the end. Another Book Binge read – I’ll let you know when my review posts. 3.5 out of 5

Somebody to Love by Kristan Higgins was the story about Parker who is a single mom of 35 who suddenly has lost her fortune (well her dad lost it all) and is left with very little money. She was left a home in Maine that she wants to flip so she heads up. Her fathers lawyer heads up to help her and the two start a relationship. The story is about Parker finding her way now that she doesn’t have millions as well as her romance with James. I’ll post my review later this week. 3.75/4 out of 5

Next up was Undone by Her Tender Touch by Maya Banks. This is about Cam who has a one night stand with Pippa and no plans for either of them to ever contact the other. But Pippa ends up preggo after a condom breaks and the story deals with Pippa and Cam dealing with the situation as well as their feelings for each other. I’ll post my review later this week. 3.5 out of 5

Last for the week was Coveted by Shawntelle Madison. This was a strange paranormal story about a werewolf woman with OCD who is a hoarder. She has fear and anxiety issues as well and is subsequently kicked out of her pack for being weak and according to them, a little bit nuts. Natalya tries to deal with her issues along with a rival pack trying to take over her old pack in New Jersey but they’re after Natalya and she can’t quite figure out why. Then there’s her ex boyfriend Thorn who was the love of her life. He left to go to San Diego 5 years prior and never contacted her. Now he’s back in town but his father, the alpha has promised him in marriage to someone else. The story is about Natalya trying to live a normal life, deal with her feelings for Thorn, going to a support group for others like herself and trying to remain alive. The story was ok but kind of all over the place. It wasn’t a romance at all but had a few romantic elements in it with Nat and Thorn. I never truly understood why Thorn left all those years ago and never returned nor ever contacted Nat if he loved her so much. The pack treated her like crap and her family did too for the most part. It was an odd story but definitely readable. 2.5 out of 5

My Book Binge reviews that posted last week:

Happy Reading!

Review: Diva and the Frat Boy by Daisy Harris

Nathaniel Reece is savvy and fierce and wouldn’t give boring-ass Greg Sanders the time of day, except Greg is the president of a fraternity Nathaniel wants to join. But once Nathaniel gets a taste of the ferocity under Greg’s cool exterior, he can’t stop himself from trying to lure the uptight frat brother out of his shell.

The face of gay life on campus and a crusader heading off to law school, Greg doesn’t see any problem with seducing the flamboyant and exciting Nathaniel. But that’s before he finds out his fraternity brothers are refusing Nathaniel's pledge bid. Greg’s athletic and masculine and has never had to deal with the censure of his friends or the odd looks of strangers, but if he’s going to be what Nathaniel needs, he’ll have to be comfortable not just being out, but also standing out.

Nathaniel and Greg couldn't be more opposite. Nathaniel is a flamboyant gay man who isn't afraid to shake what the Good Lord gave him. Greg is more the button up type who worries about appearances. While Greg is totally hot for Nathaniel, Nat's confused as to why Greg would even look at him twice.

Greg makes his move and Nathaniel's all for it but he's not sure where Greg sees them going, if anywhere. Greg wants more from Nathaniel and not just for a quick booty call - but can they work out their many differences in order to have a future together?

This was a good story about opposites attract. The two men really did seem like they would never be a likely couple but that didn't stop Greg from trying. I liked how Greg went after what he wanted and didn't give up until he got what he wanted.

Nathaniel for all of his brash and flamboyant outside view was really not all that flamboyant on the inside. He was more of a quiet man who felt very deeply and I liked the contradictions in his character.

The issue I had with this story is that for all that Nathaniel and Greg's relationship was good on the outside I never truly felt it. There are those romances that you read and you are completely ingrained in the feelings that the characters portray – this one, unfortunately, just wasn't like that for me. I saw the outside attraction and could see how the men would be attracted to each other, but I never felt that they were feeling things as deeply as they should. I'm not sure why that was. The sex was hot and sexy and that was a bonus but I felt there was something missing.

In the end it was a good book but for me it wasn't as good as book one in this series. I like the series so far though and will definitely be reading more about the men of Holsum College.

Rating: 3 out of 5

Daisy Harris

Guest Author Joely Sue Burkhart talks about The Guinevere Effect (+ a giveaway)

Do you love... or hate... love triangles? Personally, I have a love-hate relationship with them.

It all started when I took an Arthurian Lit class in college. I loved Camelot stories, and we read everything from Cretien de Troyes to T.H. White. Most of all, I loved the stories centralized around Arthur, Guinevere and Lancelot, or at least the *idea* of them. In the end, I'm always heartbroken. I call it the Guinevere effect.

The kissing scene in First Knight can make me swoon. Until I see the tortured look on Sean Connery's face.

Some portray Guinevere as the weak-willed woman who cheats on her husband with his best friend. Others say that Lancelot's love for his queen was good and pure. In The Once and Future King, Arthur even cheers when Lancelot manages to carry Guinevere away from being burned at the stake. Lancelot accomplished what the king could not.

But over and over, Guinevere ends up in a nunnery and her loves end up dead.

Why does she have to choose? I loved Lancelot's shining honor and his unswerving dedication to his king. I loved Arthur's courage and dreams for a united future. They worked together to accomplish good for their country. I imagine them saving each other's lives, fighting back to back in battle. They bled together. Why couldn't they love together too?

I guess that's why I'm so drawn to menages. I keep trying to right the wrongs done to Guinevere.

I don't like love triangles where the heroine is forced to choose one of the heroes over the other. In fact, I hate them. Inevitably, one hero is left to suffer alone. Oh wait, he just becomes sequel fodder, right? So how could his love have been so great if his "true" love waits in the next book?

I loved The Hunger Games. Until Katniss was going to have to choose either Peeta or Gale and I knew it wouldn't make me happy either way. So I refused to read the final book. (I got the cliff notes from my oldest daughter who read Mockingjay for me.)

So I made a promise to myself--and to my readers. Whenever I write a love triangle, in the end, the heroine won't be forced to choose. In Yours to Take, I kept that promise. But I never said it would be easy for her to figure out how she can keep both Elias and Jesse. *wink*

What about you - what's your favorite or most hated love triangle?

~ * ~

Joely always has her nose buried in abook, especially one with mythology, fairy tales, and romance. Find her on her website, Twitter, and Facebook.. Be sure to check out her free reads.

Stop by my blog for details about the $100 online book gift certifcate I'm giving away!
Joely Sue Burkhart

Giveaway: One lucky commenter will win a download of Ms. Burkhart's book Yours to Take.  Giveaway ends at 7:00pm on Sunday, May 20.

All fire and gunpowder need is a stray spark…

The day one of her old clients gunned down a cop, former defense attorney Vicki Connagher lost everything—her passion for justice, and her lover, Detective Elias Reyes. The dead cop’s partner.

Even though she’s following her dream to start her own fashion line, it’s tough with heartache as her only companion. Until she brings Jesse, a wandering street artist, in from a freak Texas snowstorm. His submissive flirting brings out dominant tendencies she never knew she possessed, yet she hesitates to let him take her as far and as hard as she wants to go.

Some homeless junkie in Vicki’s house? Not on Elias’s watch. Pride kept him away, but as long as Jesse is staying in Vicki’s downstairs shop, he’s staying with Vicki. On the couch, but it’s a start.

As the days go by, the three work out an uneasy alliance. But Vicki’s joy at having Elias back in her life is tempered with a growing desire to have it all. Elias in her bed, and Jesse under her command. The only question remaining is if her tough alpha cop is willing to embrace all that she is…

Product Warnings Explicit sex, BDSM, a tough alpha cop, a reluctant Domme, and a smoldering submissive street artist willing to do anything to belong to her.

Review: Cruce de Caminos by Heidi Belleau and Violetta Vane

This book is part of the Riptide Rentboys 2012 Collection

Warning: This reviews does contain some spoilers

Street kid Sean O’Hara has never had it easy, but New Orleans has driven him to his knees. His girlfriend’s broken up with him for a sugar daddy, a gun-toting pimp has robbed him of everything but the clothes on his back, and he’s down to his last two Oxycontin. Sean’s no seasoned streetwalker, but he’s not above it either, not when he’s already itching for his next fix.

A familiar-seeming stranger named Ángel may be his ticket to some quick cash, but only if Sean’s willing to help him indulge a high-class john’s weird fetish for the night. As Ángel tells him, in this city and this business, you have to get a little weird to survive.

When night falls on the French Quarter, Sean realizes Ángel and the john want more from him than he was expecting to give. What once seemed merely strange soon crosses the line into supernatural and sinister. And Ángel, the man Sean had viewed as a partner and protector, might also be his otherworldly judge and executioner.

Sean is down and out. His girlfriend has left him, he's been robbed and now has no money for food or shelter. He turns to panhandling and then turns to prostitution. Ángel turns up as Sean is about to make a bad decision with a john. Ángel says he's an males escort and he has a client who wants brothers together. Sean feels extremely comfortable with Ángel so he agrees. After cleaning up they head to the appointment. Sean is having serious doubts but trusts Ángel so moves ahead. Unfortunately Sean was drugged and blacks out. He wakes up the next morning and can't remember a thing.

Ángel is not who Sean thinks he is and seems to keep showing up when Sean least expects it. But what he is saying to Sean is basically that he's fuckin up his life and if he keeps heading on the drug induced road that he's on that the future will be bleak and short. When Sean describes the man to his girlfriend Cristina she believes that Ángel is a some sort of God and since Ángel said that Sean should leave the city Cristina's anxious to go and not tempt fate.

Sean and Cristina get to Florida but life keeps getting worse and worse and eventually Sean has to truly think about the things that Ángel told him.

Let me start by saying this is not a romance. It's stated to be erotic horror but frankly I didn't find it too erotic or horror ridden. It was definitely in the odd/bizarre category for me but it didn't seem it all that dark.

Sean is definitely in a bad place in his life. He has his priorities screwed up beyond belief and Ángel shows up when he's truly needed. Ángel was an enigma as he was never truly explained. Yes, we heard who Cristina thought he was but it was never confirmed.

Ángel and Sean share some hot kisses with the john that Ángel had who wanted the brothers and though the warning on the book says “non-explicit rape” I never got that. I actually didn't see the warning until after I read the story and was actually surprised as what happened was a blank. It was weird and unexplained and a bit disturbing, I guess, but that was all.

There is m/m in the book but Sean thinks himself in love with his girlfriend and that presented a strange angle for the story. He didn't seem all that into the m/m aspect although he was getting hot for Ángel there for a bit.

The story was not something I would normally read as it wasn't a romance but the rentboy aspect of it intrigued me. While I liked it the book showed us a portion of Sean's life and how he dealt with it. As a reader I think I would have liked the story to be longer as I wanted more information on Ángel as well as Sean. His life experiences once he left New Orleans was told but not shown and I think that would have added a more in depth aspect to the story and made it a tad more emotional for me.

From what I understand we will be able to read more about Sean in the upcoming book The Druid Stone which is an m/m urban fantasy. I have to admit that I'm interested enough in Sean after reading this story that I might just pick it up.

Rating: 3 out of 5

Violetta Vane
Heidi Belleau

TBR Challenge Review: Everything and the Moon by Julia Quinn

This months TBR Challenge theme was Old School which meant that we should try to read a book that written some time before the year 2000.  I chose this book A) because it's been on my shelf for a long time and it needed to be read and B) it was written in 1997.

Seven years ago she broke his heart... 

When Robert Kemble stumbles across Victoria Lyndon in hedgerow maze, he can't believe his eyes. The girl who'd torn him in two, who let him plan on elopement and then left him standing by the side of the road, was suddenly within arm's reach, and even though his fury still knew no bounds, she was impossible to resist...

Seven years ago he left her all but ruined... 

Victoria's father had told her an earl would never marry a vicar's daughter, and he was right. Robert had promised her marriage, then danced off to London while she suffered the shame of a foiled elopement. But even though Victoria doesn't particularly enjoy her new life as a governess, when Robert offers her a job of a different sort—his mistress—she refuses, unable to sacrifice her honor, even for him.

Robert and Victoria meet and it's love at first sight. They are basically inseparable for two months and decide to elope. Unfortunately Victoria's father, the local vicar, and Robert's father both conspire (separately) to keep the couple apart and the elopement fails.

Seven years later they run into each other again. Robert is at a house party where Victoria is the governess. He decides to seek revenge for the major heartache he suffered. Unfortunately for him he as he spends more time with Victoria he realizes that seeking revenge is the last thing that he wants. He admits to himself that he still loves her and wants her back – especially after he talks to both his and Victoria's fathers.

The very last thing Victoria wants is to see the man that broke her heart seven years earlier but she can't seem to get rid of the guy. He is ridiculously persistent and though he ends up saving her from a lecherous Lord who has nasty intentions she still gets dismissed from her position. She manages to find a job in a dress shop and is amazingly happy in her new position. Robert doesn't give up though and eventually takes drastic measures to get Victoria's attention.

This is a love story that pretty much centers on the big mis. Robert believes that Victoria is only after his money and Victoria believes that he was just toying with her and only wanted sex – which she didn't give him. Now I understand that there wouldn't have been a book had there never been a misunderstanding but seven years is a long time to not speak to someone that you believed yourself in love with. I was quite happy when the two figured out what had happened but Victoria wasn't so anxious to forgive Robert for not originally trusting her. Of course she obviously wasn't thinking about how she didn't trust him either. I have to say that Victoria's attitude did get a bit frustrating after a while. I totally saw her point of view but Robert so obviously loved her and wanted what was best for her that I just wanted her to give in.

The characters in the story were lively and interesting and the story definitely kept me interested. Robert was such a dear sweet man. Yes, he was kind of an ass when he was trying to get a little revenge on Victoria but even then he wasn't completely into it. I really liked him and though I wanted he and Victoria to work out because I love my HEA's I have to admit that I thought Robert, for most of the book, needed to find someone else besides the woman he was after. Now she did come around in the end and it was great to see her do so but I just wasn't a fan of Victoria's.

In the end I found it an entertaining read and worth the read. Julia Quinn always provides good stories and this one was no different.

Rating 3.5 out of 5

Julia Quinn

What I Read Last Week

Hello my friends!

Well I"m a bit behind in getting this post up this week.  On Mother's Day (hope you all had a wonderful day) my kitty decided to follow her ball under the couch.  Yeah, she doesn't exactly fit under the couch.  She made some distressing sounds so I lifted the couch thinking she would run out.  Silly me.  She didn't run out right away and I ended up spraining my back (yes, again) because I didn't want to drop the couch and get splat kitty.  Luckily my hubby came to save the day. :)  On top of heading to the doctor yesterday and getting many, many lovely drugs to help me my youngest ended up diagnosed with strep throat. Poor thing is just miserable.  She stayed home with me yesterday and it'll be the mom and daughter show again today as the doc didn't want either one of us going out. 

Remember I mentioned that my oldest was trying out for cheerleading?   Well she didn't make it.  I felt so bad for her and she was pretty upset.  Hopefully we can find another extra curricular activity for her next year.

Enough about pain and suffering let's get to the good stuff...books!

I started off the week with Karma by Carly Phillips.  This was third in the Serendipity series but the only one I read from that series.  The story was about a cop who was very attracted to a woman whose brother was a constant in the city lockup.  As much as he liked the woman he had a hard time getting around the way she enabled her alcoholic brother.  Then they find out the hard way that the brother owes a loan shark money and she's the "warning".  The couple also had another issue with her brother who killed a kid years earlier, that the cop witnessed and did nothing about - even when the brother got off scott free.  This was a good book to start and I was really liking the characters and the story.  Unfortunately it got a bit mired in angst and got a little tedious for me.  It was still a good book but not great.  3.25 out of 5

Next was My Wicked Gladiators by Lauren Hawkeye.  The story revolved around a woman, her husband and two gladiators that her husband "owned".  You can read my review here.  3.5 out of 5

Lothaire by Kresley Cole is a book that I've been meaning to read, as I've read the rest of the series, but for some reason it kept escaping my notice.  I finally picked it up and wow, what a really good book.  Lothaire believes that his vampire bride is a goddess whose spirit/soul is stuck in a hick from Appalachia.  He's determined to find a ring from another goddess that will make his real bride into a vampire and get rid of the hick's soul.  This was such a good book.  I wasn't sure what to expect because Lothaire's no boy scout but Cole really did an amazing job making me like him despite his evilness.  4 out of 5

My next read was Thank My Lucky Scars by Tia Fielding.  This is a very sweet story about Matt who gets into a bike messenger accident and is homebound. He gets onto twitter and ends up talking to his favorite porn star, Brian who he is a huge fan of.  The porn star actually comes to see Matt when he goes to London on business and the men end up falling in love.  This was a very sweet novella that I really liked.  Something about the story really clicked with me because of their situation and how it all worked out.  Good stuff. 4 out of 5

Don't Judge a Book by Scarlet Blackwell is about Rhys who is a complete book worm and lives an incredibly quiet life with his books.  He works at the library and is in charge of the men who need community service for a offense that they've committed.  He's SO not thrilled especially when he meets Darren who is adorable but is a car thief.  Rhys has no patience with Darren but the men end up finding that they can't ignore their attraction.  This was another great story that I really liked.  The men were such opposites but I totally saw their continued HEA when I finished the story.  4 out of 5

My Lady Rival by Ashley March was the story of a man and a woman who are rival's in business.  They have a stormy past with stolen kisses but mostly with the woman, Willa, stealing the investors that Alex was going after.  They are now after the same recipe for an amazing dye that was used on a dress for the queen and doing what needs to be done to get it so it will make their companies number 1.  I really liked this book.  I didn't want to put it down because it just had a certain charm and humor to it that I thought blended really well with the romance and intrigue.  4 out of 5

Last for the week was A Hole in God's Pocket by KZ Snow.  This told the story of Jaron who is Amish and gay.  He is conflicted as to whether he should go back to his family now that he's been gone a while.  He ends up living with Greg who was at one point in his life studying to be a Trappist monk.  The story revolved around the two men coming to terms with their sexuality, their roles in life when it comes to their faith and their attraction to each other.  This was a really good story that was so interesting - I just loved it.  It's a pretty quiet story but really good.  4 out of 5

My Book Binge reviews that posted this past week:
Midnight Rescue by Elle Kennedy

Happy Reading!

Saturday Song

I admit that I really like the original song by Joe Walsh because it was all  about great memories for me when I was growing up - but...this remake by Godsmack of Rocky Mountain Way is one I just love.  I think they did a great job of making it a rock song without taking out the basic integrity of the song.  Enjoy!

Review: Priceless by Cat Grant

This book is part of the Riptide Rentboys 2012 Collection

Connor Morrison is a 3D optics pioneer, the star of the UC Berkeley physics department, and a socially-inept workaholic. And with his dear friend and business partner, Steve Campbell, handling their investors, he’s content to remain in the shadows. That is, until he meets the gorgeous and starry-eyed physics student Wes Martin.

Wes is brilliant but broke. Ever since his scholarship fell victim to the financial crisis, he's had no choice but to sell his body to stay in school. Already half in love with Connor, Wes initially resists Steve's offer to be Connor's thirty-fifth birthday present. But in the end, Wes is too broke—and too smitten—to say no.

Wes is a guy who just wants to get through school without having to head back to his home in Indiana and work at a minimum wage job. He’s brilliant and does well but when his scholarship ended he had to figure out how to make money to pay for tuition, rent and food. He becomes a rent boy and that’s how he meets Connor.

Connor has no idea that his friend and business partner paid for Wes as his birthday present. The night of the party things don’t really work out but at a conference things heat up and Wes and Connor find themselves in Connor’s hotel room letting the sparks fly.

Unfortunately Wes can’t let himself get attached to Connor. He’s had a crush on Connor for years but knows that if Connor found out about his “job” he’d never be able to look him in the eye. Connor was shocked that Wes ran out of the hotel room while he was sleeping as he truly felt a connection with Wes. When they run into each other because Wes has moved in to an apartment just three doors down from Connor it’s a bit awkward. Connor still has burgeoning feelings for Wes but feels rejected. Wes is ashamed but still has feelings for Connor though he knows he can’t act on them.

In the meantime Wes has gotten a regular john who likes to spank him. When the john gets violent with Wes Connor manages to step in and save the day – but where does that leave Connor and Wes now that Connor knows the truth?

*sigh* I just love rentboy stories. In this one it’s the connection of Connor and Wes even after the truth comes out about Wes. Connor could have so easily judged and kept on judging but he saw something in Wes that he couldn’t deny and decided to give him a chance. That’s just so appealing to me!

In this story I felt for Wes. He’d really not had an easy life but it was pretty good. Then his senior year comes along and bam – no full ride scholarship any longer and he’s stuck with all those bills that he never had to worry about before. I can’t imagine how horrible that must have been for him. He’d had a pretty good time of it once he started the rentboy gig but then along came “Tom”. Tom was a pig and liked to spank. That’s not too bad and frankly Wes made a bunch of money off of it – even though he hated it. Tom then resorted to blackmail and the real Tom showed up – physical abuse and getting off on someone else’s pain.

Wes was physically as well as emotionally hurt but Connor came through for him in many different ways. The caring and attention that Connor gave to Wes was just what he needed to make it through and I think it solidified the feelings swirling around both of the men.

This was a great book and one that I would definitely recommend.

Rating: 4 out of 5