Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Nobody's Angel (Earth Angels #1), Stacy Gail

A paranormal book that read a bit like a superhero comic book story.  

** This review contains spoilers **

- Review by Cindi

Nobody's Angel

Kendall is an investigative journalist.  She watches her friend and coworker (Dave) strangle his co-anchor and then commit suicide by shoving a pen into his jugular during a live newscast.  Kendall jumps into the fray and tries to stop him to no avail.  Being that close, Kendall is the only one who can see the white haze over his eyes as this is all going down.  

Zeke is one of the paramedics called to the scene.  He treats Kendall for injuries and finds that the only blood on her is that of Dave.  Zeke also has a secret.  By day, he is a paramedic.  By night he is a masked man who swoops in and helps those who are in danger.  He has been dubbed by the media The Guardian Angel.  What he is is a Nephilim, which is (as described in this book, though the definition varies according to the source) a descendant of fallen angels.  Zeke also has black wings that he keeps hidden.

Kendall is what I would call the too stupid to live (TSTL) character.  The too stupid to live character is the dumb one (usually a female in my experience) in books and movies who know they are in danger but do really stupid things... like open a door knowing that the killer is on the other side, or running UP stairs to get away from the knife-wielding bad guy instead of running through the open door that is less than 3 feet away.  I recently reviewed a book on this blog actually titled Too Stupid To Live and I have to say that Kendall beats the character in that book by a long shot.

Kendall is in danger.  There is a spirit/demon/poltergeist (shortened to geist)/evil-bad-guy-dude trying to kill her.  She knows this.  So what does she do?  She keeps putting herself in a position of needing to be rescued by The Guardian Angel.  She purposely runs into dangerous situations without thought.  She is warned by Zeke and the stranger in the mask (yes, the reader is very aware early on that Zeke and the Guardian Angel are one and the same) but yet Kendall is too stubborn to listen to those who have to keep rescuing her, so she launches head first (so to speak) into bad situations.  

Kendall is falling for Zeke the paramedic. 

Kendall is falling for the masked man, The Guardian Angel.

Kendall is feeling guilt over being torn between the two men.

Here we have what I call a DUH! moment.  

Kendall has heard the voices of both men.  She has kissed both men.  She has been held tightly against both men's bodies.  But yet...... Kendall has no clue they are one in the same?

If you have read this far down I am sure you have noticed the similarities between this book and some of the more popular comic books and superheroes.  

Kendall is an investigative reporter (think Lois Lane) who falls for one man (think Clark Kent, Bruce Wayne) who is a superhero by night (Super Man, Batman).

I admit to feeling like I was reading fanfiction throughout the entire book.  Then let's throw in the name of the news network that Kendall works for... KPOW.  I kid you not.

The entire point of the book was to stop the senseless murder-suicides that are being caused by the geist.  Zeke and Kendall get together (finally) after one of Kendall's more dumb moves in regards to finding out information.  She discovers who Zeke is and they have sex.  I read one review that put a warning at the end saying EROTIC SEX.  Uh, no.  There is a little bit of sex in this book but I assure you it would never be considered erotica in any way, shape or form.  Erect manhood and glistening womanhood do not erotica make.  Trust me on that one.  I've read erotica and this is definitely NOT it.

Zeke and Kendall finally get to the point where they might be able to rid the world of the 'geist' that is threatening Kendall and killing others.  Do they go in together?  Do they meet the 'person' in a public place?  No.  They separate and Kendall meets the 'bad guy' at a secluded lighthouse on a cliff........ in the middle of fog...... alone.  TSTL.  

Eventually, Zeke saves the day and he and Kendall decide that they care enough about each other to move forward in their relationship.  The end.

I know it may seem like it, but I did not actually hate this book.  I just thought that it was too similar to the superhero movies that I've watched my entire life.  As I said, it read like fanfiction. I obviously had a problem with Kendall as she continued to do stupid things.  Zeke, however, I loved.

Overall, it's not a bad story.  Just a bit too close to other things I've seen and read.  I love the cover.

This book was provided by Net Galley and Carina Press in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Monday, 28 January 2013

Reactivated (Killer Contingency #1), Caitlin West

Reactivated (Killer Contingency, #1)

A nice (though short) story about a worn out assassin who meets someone who gives him the will to want to live again.  A nice start to a series.

- Review by Cindi

Arden Boyle has been a freelance assassin most of his life.  He left a miserable life in Ireland, joined the military and then became a successful assassin whose only targets are the worst of the worst.  He is hardened and he is numb.  After a successful job, he plans a trip to Seattle for an extended holiday.  While in the airport in France before boarding the plane, he meets Brad Myles, an American businessman and aspiring actor.  The two men converse for a little while but then go their separate ways on the plane... Arden to first class and Brad to coach.  Once the flight is over, Arden seeks Brad out and Brad helps him find a hotel in the city.  A quick tentative friendship develops and the men agree to spend time together while Arden is on holiday.  Arden has only been with two people sexually and both were women.  After a day of sightseeing with Brad, they go to the next level and Arden has his first sexual experience with a man and it opens his eyes to things he has denied his entire life.  The short time spent with Brad makes Arden want things that he never thought was possible.  He wants to retire from his dangerous profession and maybe..... just maybe .... settle down.  Even though he has only known Brad for a day or so he feels that there is a connection between them that cannot be denied and he is determined to walk away from his life and start all over again.... hopefully with Brad.  Apparently a certain organization does not agree.

This was a nice start to a series.  It was short and I felt that things moved way too quickly between Arden and Brad but I can see where the author is going with the story so I could accept that.  It was interesting to see Arden let down his guard after being so stiff and secretive in the beginning.  I couldn't help but love Brad from the very beginning.  He's happy and mellow and just comes across as a decent guy.  The story ended abruptly as I know was intentional.  It made me eager to see what will happen in the next installment.

This book was provided by Net Galley and Extasy Books in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Grounds to Kill (Latte, Espresso, Cappuccino & Murder Mystery #1), Wendy Roberts

Grounds to Kill

An excellent murder mystery with the backdrop of one of my favorite things... coffee.

- Review by Cindi

Jen Hanby is a barista at a Seattle coffee shop.  Her coworkers joke with her because she has a habit of taking coffee and sweets to a homeless man who hangs out across the street.  She tries to ignore their ribbing but it's difficult because the homeless man is someone Jen knows well... her schizophrenic father.  Her coworkers do not know this.  They think that she is just being nice to the man.  Jen has another secret that she refuses to share.  The itching of her left palm is not a skin condition.  It is a sign that someone, or something, is trying to tell her something.  Jen is right handed but each time this happens, she is able to write a message on a piece of paper with her left.  She doesn't know where the information comes from and at times she doesn't even believe that these messages apply to her.  Each time this has happened the information has been accurate.  That is, if Jen is able to interpret what the messages mean each time she receives one.  Not long into the book, she is warned by her Hand of Doom (as she and her best friends call it) that her boyfriend is cheating on her with her half sister.  This, of course, doesn't happen until after she has just had sex with him.  He confesses and she kicks him out.  No one except her two best friends (Beth and Mallory) know of her odd ability and she plans to keep it that way.  That is, until her half sister (that Jen hates with every fiber of her being) is murdered in her apartment only a few doors down from Jen's.  Jen discovers the body after going to confront her half-sister about the affair.  Of course Jen doesn't plan to just confront her.  There is the flinging of dog feces involved.  Before she discovers the body of course.  I admit to laughing over that.  Hell hath no fury, right?

So who killed the slutty half sister?  The police are convinced that the murder was committed by Jen's homeless father because there are clues left at the crime scene that point to him.  Jen is convinced that he would never harm anyone regardless of his mental illness.  She and her friends embark on a journey to discover who the real killer is before 1.) Her father is put away for a crime he didn't commit, and 2.) Before Jen is murdered to keep quiet.  

The ex boyfriend plays a big part in the story as he is a police officer.  Jen's father is a former police officer who years earlier had stopped taking his medication and chose life on the streets over his job and family.  There's Mitch, a flirty, handsome employee at the coffee shop where Jen works who has suddenly decided that he may just want more than friendship with the now single Jen.  Beth and Mallory play a huge part in the search for the murderer and then there's the bitchy, nosey neighbor with the psychotic grandson.  Throw in a transvestite hooker named Kiki, an expensive psychic (who may or may not be for real), a mean detective and an adorable dog and you have one hell of a great story.  The mystery was written very well, though I figured out who the killer was early on.  The messages that Jen receives are so cryptic (with the exception of a couple) that you follow along as she and her friends try to figure out what they mean.  The way everything comes together is perfect.

Overall, I have to say this was a really, really good book.  The mental illness is not glossed over and it is written well.  The book has its serious moments but there is quite a bit of humor tossed in as well.  I can't wait to see what this author comes up with next for these characters.  I will definitely be reading the next in the series and any other this author has to offer.

This book was provided by Net Galley and Carina Press in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Covert Seduction, Callie Croix

A predictable story about a Navy SEAL, a so-called strong woman and corporate theft.  

- Review by Cindi

Navy SEAL Reid Galvin has spent the past six weeks in hell.  He watched his brethren die in a crash in Afghanistan and was left (with others) to pick up the pieces.  When deployed, he left Becca Anderson behind.  Reid and Becca had a pretty intense relationship... mainly based on sex.  Becca was convinced there was more to the relationship but when six weeks went by with no contact from Reid she felt that she was wrong in her assumption and made strives to move on.  The only problem?  Reid was very much involved in the relationship but for reasons he could not discuss, he pulled away from Becca and there was zero contact.  Reid comes back to the states and immediately calls Becca in hopes of meeting up with her that evening.  Becca had already consented to go to a charity function with a coworker (David) so she had to tell Reid not to show up.

Covert Seduction
Becca is a computer programmer and had been asked by David to crack the code of a mystery program that he found on the company's computer.  What Becca does not know is that that particular program holds information that could cause deadly circumstances for both Becca and David.  On the way home from the charity function with David, the car is run off the road and into a canal.  Reid, having decided to show up at Becca's anyway, just happens to come across the accident scene within seconds of the crash.  Being a hero (and with no knowledge of who is in the car), he dives into the canal and saves both David and Becca.  David ends up at a hospital and Becca ends up at her house with Reid.  

There is a break-in, a murder and other miscellaneous stuff thrown in to add a little bit of drama to the story.  Then there's the sex.  Quite a bit of sex.  I admit to skimming... often.  There were not two or three pages of sex each time.  There were twenty or more... per scene.  And each time was after something dramatic had happened so for me, it took away from the story.

Becca has a problem with Reid being a Navy SEAL.  Oh she's proud as hell but she still has a problem with it.  Not just the danger involved but the fact that he is out of pocket (so to speak) for weeks at a time.  Granted, while he was away the last time he could have contacted her.  He had access to a cell phone and a laptop with internet.  He chose not to.  But that is not the only issue that she has with his profession.... the same profession that he had when they met.

Overall, I have to say this book was simply okay.  I felt like I was reading the same thing I've read in hundreds of other books... there's the alpha-type male, the so-called strong woman who turns to mush when the man is around, the little bit of mystery and danger thrown in to make it a bit interesting, the lackluster sex between the two main characters and the evil bad guy that was figured out almost immediately into the book.  Pick up almost any book about a male and female and you have this one.  Maybe I'm jaded.  I've read hundreds and hundreds of books in my day.  When I pick up a new one I am always hoping for something new... something original.  I am sorry to say that I did not find that in this book.

This book was provided by Net Galley and Carina Press in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Latitude Extreme, Jackie Nacht and Stephani Hecht


Like reading the LGBTQ version of the Amazing Race. Easy to read and nice characters.

-Review by Kazza K


I did not read the first book in this series but this sounded light and interesting. I don't believe I missed anything by not reading book #1, Latitude 45
Latitude Extreme (Latitude Series, #2)
The MC's in this book are Craig and Luke. Craig's twin, Lana, is also a main player in the book. The theme is that the characters are on a LGBTQ reality program. There are contestants, in pairs, much like The Amazing Race. The contestants/characters travel to different locations, receive relevant information through the 'rainbow envelope,' have different challenges to meet, and move closer to winning the show. The difference being that this is solely for those from the LGBTQ community.

There are seven couples as contestants and while you do learn about them all, it is a short ebook. Craig knows who his sister is teamed up with but what he doesn't know is who he will be paired off with. It turns out to be Luke, a person from his school days, someone he has an unhappy association with and he is pissed to have Luke as his challenge partner. He believes Luke was mean-spirited and teased his sister at school and was homophobic. He really doesn't want anything to do with him. The thing is he's signed a contract for the show and he's stuck with him as his partner. Lana shows Craig that things may not have been as he suspected at school, and that tolerance and understanding should be shown. Lana is a nice character who has had her own life issues to deal with, but has not let that colour her badly. She has found a good partner in Angel.

The story was a little on the unrealistic side - most of the competitors helped each other out way too much for a competition. One where a million dollars is at stake to the winners. However it was nice. Sometimes I like people just being decent. I get sick of bitchy, backstabbing, conniving individuals. So I liked it.

I'll definitely read another in the series as it's easy to read and sweet.

This book was supplied to me by Extasy Books through NetGalley in return for an honest review.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Promises Made Under Fire, Charlie Cochrane

A really charming and poignant M/M romance set during WWI.

- Review by Kazza K

Promises Made Under FireThis is a lovely piece of writing. Set during WWI, it spans the period of 1915- 1918, wars' end, but it is done in a succinct manner as the ebook is not terribly long.

Promises Made Under Fire starts off in France, 1915 with two men who are officers in the same battalion in France, Captain Frank Foden and Lieutenant Tom Donald. Frank Foden is a decent leader and Tom believes an ally. Someone whose company, wit and positivity he enjoys. The letters Frank receives from home he  readily shares with Tom, and Tom loves to listen to them. He knows all about Veronica, Frank's wife, from her photo to her career. He also hears about the Foden family's 'working class' background - his mother the cook, his stern letters from his aunt in Islington. Veronica is the source of much pride and discussion with all the men, though. She's a doctor, unconventional for the time, who has married beneath her class when marrying Frank Foden, a 'chauffeur.' It was 'love at first sight.' Frank understands the morale of his men, Tom believes his roots help. He is upbeat in his outlook - whether it be a dull day, a bleak battle looming, or making sure the men get their own letters from home, Frank is always optimistic -

He smiled, that smile potentially the only bight spot in a cold grey life. Frank kept me going, even on days when the casualty count or the cold or the wet made nothing seem worth living for anymore.

The battlefield is mentioned briefly enough for you to get a picture, but not so much as it to be deemed anything more than a M/M romance with its setting in WWI. Frank dies in France, in battle, and Tom goes home to recuperate from injuries sustained at the same time. He has a slight meltdown, more of an uncharacteristic cry, at his brush with death, the loss of his friend, Frank Foden, and just how unpleasant everything is; on top of being a same sex attracted man who cannot express his feelings to anyone.

When Tom returns from his recuperation, the corporal who served both Frank and Tom prior informs Tom that Frank has left a note with requests for him to see Frank's mother and a request to take a letter, in person, to someone he has never mentioned before, Ronnie Palmer. It is on another return to England that Tom does the things asked of him by his former Captain and friend. He visits Frank's mother, feels that he should reach out to his wife, Veronica, but he has trouble locating her, and he also visits Ronnie, with the letter. From here things take an interesting turn.

I actually want to review the book in full but it won't really do it justice and will spoil it for the reader. Not because you can't work some things out, you can, but it is short and the writing is beautiful and charming and takes you back in time. It makes you think about the difficulties facing same-sex attracted people in another time -

Jonny was one of my sins. Jonny, the chap I'd fallen in love with when we'd been students together in London.....
We'd been inseparable up until the call to arms separated us - just about the only thing to have been able to do so, short of death. And that followed not long after, taking Jonny just after the Christmas it was all supposed to be over by. He'd been lain under the grass of France before I even crossed the Channel, and before I'd summoned up the bravery to tell him what he meant to me and find out if he felt the same.

I'm certainly of an age where I understand quite well a lot of what is being said and written in this book. If you don't understand some of the sayings or unique vernacular of the time I dare say it's easy enough to look them up.

The writing was beautiful, the letters lovely, and an integral part of the story, the characters well drawn, including the stoic attitudes, and the vivid period setting. All in all it is quite lovely -

They don't tell you in advance how it will feel. I wish they did. Monday bayonet training. Tuesday grenades. Wednesday how you know you're in love.

For everything that was positive, and mostly this book is wonderful, I had a one niggle. The ending was anti-climactic and slightly disappointing for me in comparison to the beautiful story and writing that preceded it. I can believe in the ending, given everything that had happened to the main characters. It is hopeful, but I'd be lying if I said I was truly happy with it. I would have loved this book to be longer. It probably would have been a five star read. I just wanted more.

This is a lovely read. Nothing is lost in the narrative being solely from Tom Donald's POV. It isn't long, so it's incredibly easy to devour in a couple of hours. It certainly pulls at the emotions and makes you think about men who had to live a lie in order to continue to be who they really were, which sounds like a contradiction, but isn't. I definitely recommend Promises Made Under Fire for those who like a M/M romance in an historical setting.

Frank had been able to boast about his love in a way I'd never had the privilege of doing and he'd had me and all the other men congratulating him on his luck. The more I thought about it, the more I admired Frank's brass neck, and he seemed clearer to me than he had in life....

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

The Royal Road, Robin Saxon

Not your typical M/M romance story. 

- Review by Cindi

I am going to start off by saying that the beginning of this book was a little confusing.  So confusing, in fact, that I had to take a step back and come back to it later.  Once I was able to take the time to really concentrate on what I was reading, things improved greatly for me.  I ended up enjoying the story, though I will be the first to say that books with any type of dream sequences usually turn me off.  The way everything came together made all of that worth it for me.  It turned out to be a very enjoyable read.  
The Royal Road

Now to the story.....

Weston designs mascots for Sanderson Designs, a small company.  That is his day job.  At night, he spends hours trying to write a novel.  He doesn't lack ideas.  What he lacks are the correct words to put on paper (or computer screen in this case).  He has a very active imagination but for some reason, he is unable to put what he sees in his head (and later, his dreams) into words that make sense for an actual story.  What he does manage to write always ends up full of stereotypes.  

A new productivity consultant at Sanderson Designs, Sidney Romero, starts invading Weston's dreams.  Sidney (aka The Leech... behind his back) is not liked at Sanderson's.  He's too quiet.  Too odd.  It is assumed that he will recommend to the owner that employees lose their jobs at the small company.  Some employees are quietly rude to Sidney.  Some are openly so. Weston is on the fence (so to speak) but he too fears losing his position at the company because of Sidney's recommendations.  

Weston starts having very detailed dreams not long after Sidney begins working for the company... dreams that tell a real story, not just snippets here and there.  I had to giggle at the first one in the story.... so stereotypical of so many of the books I've read over the years.

"I can't tell you how much I love you," William cried.  "I know we only met ten minutes ago after I accidentally ran over your dog, but you're it.  You're my soul mate.  My entire life is now going to revolve around you in a totally noncreepy, definitely not brainwashed way!"

Come on, you know you've read stuff just like that in books and giggled too. :)  And that's only part of that particular dream.  If I typed the whole thing I would make this review too long.

Weston's dreams get more detailed as he has them.  Funny, each hero in the dreams looks just like Sidney, the leech.  

I mentioned not liking books where a considerable amount of time is given to dream sequences but I found myself getting more and more involved with each dream that Weston had.  It was like reading several stories in one.  In the end, each dream is trying to tell Weston something.  Plus, they give him great stories for his novel.... if he can ever put those ideas on paper anyway.  

As the days progress with Weston and his sometimes rude coworkers worry about their jobs, Weston gets to slowly know Sidney (at work and away from) and finds that he's not the leech that everyone assumed he was.  He's a nice guy who Weston slowly grows to love.  Each dream then makes total sense, not just to Weston but to the reader as well.

Overall, I have to say that this was an enjoyable read.  The reader must seriously suspend any and all belief to be able to understand it.  Sure, it got confusing at times but if you keep reading you will see how everything comes together nicely.  The characters are all entertaining (though I did not like a couple who worked at Sanderson Designs) and the dreams were, at times, hilarious.  Weston is so out there that you can't help but love his character.  This is not your typical M/M romance novel.  There is very little sex and the story is more about Weston's dreams and writing than an actual romance.  Did this take away from the story?  Not really.  My only wish is that Weston and Sidney would have had more time together as a couple.  Otherwise, a fun read.  I've read the author's other books, co-written with Alex Kidwell.  I have been a fan ever since.  I look forward to seeing what else Robin Saxon has to offer.

The cover is beautiful.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

The Strength of the Pack (The Tameness of the Wolf Book #1), Kendall McKenna

I do love a good wolf shifter book. I do love a good military book. I do love a good M/M. Here I have all three in one.

-Review by Kazza K

What do you do when you are an officer, a lieutenant, and you have werewolves in your command but you don't know much about them? When your Captain doesn't fill you in on the details of what to expect and how to react? When the Marine Corps has manuals but you're not kept in the loop? Where you only have a few weeks to form an understanding of a True Alpha werewolf that has been posted to your company; one with a legendary reputation and control over quite a few of your men, men who must submit to their alpha, irrespective of rank? And suddenly you find yourself having to dominate the sergeant/werewolf because you require his respect for your role and rank in the corps. You are in this odd position of finding out that you are the Dominant to the True Alpha werewolf and having to deal with odd sensations and physical reactions to the werewolf which are mirrored back at you. Having to deal with.....rituals after a full-moon shift, a stress-shift, a battle shift. Knowing that all the men in your company are aware that you are assisting with those...rituals in a base way. How do you handle that when it goes against your regular training?

It makes for a very interesting read that's for sure, with a different take on the shifter theme. This is not a fairytale paranormal, it is set in America prior to shipping out and then in Afghanistan; in a war zone posting. It looks at all the technical military jargon that is used, without bogging you down, but with a paranormal slant, complete with history and original detail that this book has for its weres. I'll be honest, I had to adjust initially to this kind of at-odds duality of melding military and paranormal. Where rank and pack take on a somewhat interesting perspective. People of rank who are werewolves will bow to an NCO if he/she is an alpha. Particularly if they are a True Alpha, the top dog of all the weres in the pack. Which is who/what Sergeant Noah Hammond is. Apart from a simpering, poor excuse for a Captain at the beginning the armed services support their werewolves and encourage the bond that has formed between Lt Young and Sgt Hammond. It's an excellent combat resource.

Both MC's are very likable. They both have a strong sense of duty. They both have a common goal and ideas on what is right for their men. They're both working through a new situation in regards to the bond they have. Noah is more on the ball in regards to what's happening and more prepared to let it happen. Lucas is more at sea learning what the hell he has to do with the werewolves and his Dominant role and place in the pack as a human.  There is a really romantic connection, but in a very masculine way. Kendall McKenna's men are always very masculine and alpha. The secondary characters are interesting, but apart from Captain Tim Maddison and Captain Stanley, the latter I would have loved to throttle, they aren't yet as well known. There is much building here of the series backdrop, cultural differences, Ms McKenna's werewolves and military action. Every book I'll be looking forward to more and more on the other character's development. However, I enjoyed the fact that here the primary relationship, between Lucas and Noah, was focused on.

I liked this somewhat kinder military outlook. Where the relationship between Lucas and Noah is not seen as unnatural, rather it's encouraged. But Lucas kept feeling like he would be slighted for this physicality that the True Alpha required from him after every shift. There was a developing relationship between Lucas and Noah but because there was action aplenty, some history to be learnt and cultural differences to understand, the relationship was complicated. Lucas felt uncertain. He was unsure whether it was about an attraction or a necessity when they connected physically after shifts. He also felt a responsibility being an officer connecting with an NCO. He found it hard initially to think in terms of the pack. He didn't realise the intensity of the relationship that was there. He wanted it but kept it in the background. Sometimes I thought to myself -'Lucas you are being so bloody clueless' - but I understood why he felt like he did, how that occurred. There is action in Afghanistan and there is a slow learning curve for Lucas about the pack mentality of werewolves, not to mention their overlapping history, which I found interesting and clever. Joan of Arc. Eleanor of Aquitaine? Hmm....interesting. Alexander? Pfftt, no surprise :)

The sex is not frequent and yet it is very physical and erotic, driven by strong shift needs. And where they are located has much to do with it as well. There are sexual encounters, believe me, and they are hot. However, penetrative sex doesn't happen until towards the end. There are (good) reasons for that. Requests made to do with a wish for a proper bed, clean sheets, and the uncertainty that this relationship isn't anything more than a werewolf ritual to come down after a shift, controls how this builds.

The military writing is once again so strong from Kendall McKenna. I really liked Brothers in Arms and I really liked The Strength of the Pack. While there are similarities they are unique in their own right. I am partial to a good paranormal and I do love a good shifter novel. A wolf shifter has me every time over any other kind of shifter. And this is a really interesting take on the wolf shifters, not that there are huge deviations - the pack is tactile, they shift at full moon, they get physical pre and post shift, they act wolf-like when in wolf form - with unique coats/types of wolf, and primal wolf play. They also understand what's being said to them when in wolf form. Here there is also a psychic link/an Alpha/Dominant bond between a wolf and a human. There is biting from both sides with the Alpha liking being bitten and marked by his human mate. There is a True Alpha submitting, interesting, and it worked really well. Another difference - there is not just full moon shifts, but stress shifts and post battle shifts as well. There is also another occurrence here because of the strength of the True Alpha/Dominant bond; and that is mirroring - where both parties mirror intensely what the other feels, what is happening to them, even if they are not together. It comes in very handy when out on a mission but can also be a hindrance if the pair don't learn to block everything they're feeling (when necessary) as strong emotions can be relayed. The werewolves heightened senses have strong defensive uses, aiding in combat - they can smell the enemy, chemicals, hidden explosives etc. Having the Marines True Alpha bond so totally with a human officer also makes the connection between pack and Marines very strong and a very cohesive, powerful military weapon.

The Strength of the Pack is book #1 in a new series by Kendall McKenna, which gives me a new series I want to follow. I don't actually follow many series. I'm really picky about this, but I will follow this one. There are pointers right at the end as to who one of the next book's main characters might be and I look forward to this book very much as I liked his character here. Highly recommended for lovers of contemporary shifters who just happen to enjoy a man in uniform and military jargon as well. 


Monday, 21 January 2013

After the End, Alex Kidwell

A beautifully written, heartbreaking story of loss, grief and finding love again.

- Review by Cindi

After the End
"You'll love him, Quinn, I promise.  He's just what you need."
"And what is that?"
"You know, breathing.  Walking.  Talking.  Come on, trust me.  It'll be fun." 
I bet General Custer had promised his men the same thing.  "Come on, guys, just one more fight.  It'll be fun."

Quinn O'Malley has been talked into a blind date by his best friend, Tracy.  Quinn doesn't date.  He has been mourning the loss of his long-term partner, Aaron, for over two years.  He is not ready to move on.  He is not ready to stop grieving.  His friend means well but he knows there is no way that he is ready to jump into any type of relationship.  His one great love, the man he shared ten years with, is gone.  No one can ever take his place.  Not in Quinn's life and definitely not in his heart.  He goes on the blind date anyway to appease his friend.  When he meets Brady Banner, he likes him immediately.  Brady is a good looking man.  He's funny and the date goes better than expected.  

Brady:  "Tracy didn't really tell you much, did she?"

Quinn:  "Just that I was going to die alone and be eaten by my cat if I didn't take the chance to meet you."

But when it comes to the end of the evening, Quinn is ready to escape back to his lonely apartment... without Brady.  Brady takes Quinn home and he is reluctantly invited inside.  Things are going well..... a few touches and kisses and Quinn is starting to actually feel again... for the first time in over two years.  He freezes.   His mind immediately strays back to Aaron and he is overcome with guilt for feeling something... for allowing himself to do something... with another man.  The date quickly comes to an end.

Quinn is the owner of a comic book store.  He is also an artist, though he hasn't so much as picked up a sketch pad since the death of his partner.   Ten years with his one true love and then suddenly that true love was taken away from him and his life now has little meaning.  How could he allow himself to be touched?  To be kissed? By someone other than Aaron?  What kind of person did that make him?  He had allowed himself... during those few moments in the arms of Brady... to forget... to not remember that he is no one without Aaron..... that he has no life without Aaron.

Brady, an events planner, is persistent.  After the sudden end of the first date with Quinn, he continues to pursue him, even knowing that he is competing with a ghost.  He felt a connection with Quinn when they were together and he's willing to do whatever it takes to make Quinn realize that life must go on.  He doesn't expect, nor want, Quinn to forget about Aaron. He just wants Quinn to realize that he, Quinn, is still alive and that he should move on in his life... preferably with Brady.  A date to the movies and then dinner with Tracy and her partner, Anna, and things are starting to head in the right direction for Brady but Quinn is not yet able to move on.
"I miss him," I whispered, voice breaking.  "Every second, like I'm screaming all the time, and I can't stop.  I want to go up to people and ask them why they can't hear it.  Why they can be smiling or laughing, why can people eat or drink or live when he'll never do any of it again.  How can I be happy without him?  How can anything make any fucking sense?"  My eyes went to his, to those damned beautiful depths, so kind and so confused.  I could see it in his expression; What could he say?  What could anyone?
"But then I kiss you."  I moved a step forward, a magnet on string, his iron sweet solidness drawing me in.  "I kiss you and I don't miss him.  I kiss you and I'm not living in that place.  I'm not soaked in sickness and sadness and grief.  I just... am.  I can breathe." 
The first half of this book is an emotional roller coaster.  It would take a person much stronger than me to get through that part without getting teary a few times.  The author did an outstanding job in making you feel what Quinn is feeling.  The heart wrenching pain.  The guilt of feeling like he is cheating on Aaron.  The agony of knowing that the person he loved more than life will never be with him again.  The fear of wanting to move forward with someone else.  To love someone else.
"God, you're not even here.  You're in that bed, where I lost you.  You're back there, two years ago, and I can't go back there.  I can't ever get back to you."
 Brady is perfect.  He knows not long after meeting Quinn that Quinn is not even close to coming to terms with the death of his partner.  But yet Brady keeps trying.  Through the tears, the yelling... Brady stands by him because he knows that they are meant to be together.  It is a very long road they both must travel for the two men to finally be able to have any semblance of any type of relationship.  Brady doesn't push Quinn to not mourn Aaron.  He doesn't push him to not discuss Aaron.  He just wants him to understand that he, Quinn, is alive and should start living again.  With Brady.  It takes a very long while for them to get there but they do get there.  It was a beautiful thing to watch.
"It was more than just grief; it was bigger than who I'd been before.
 I loved him.  Not the same as I'd loved Aaron, but not less, either.  It was Brady's love, only his, and Aaron's love only belonged to him.  I held them both in my heart, in my very  breath, and I wasn't torn apart from it.
I was sad, yes.  Perhaps I'd always be a little bit sad.  But there was more to me than the sorrow."
This is an amazing story.  With the sadness and grief there is also a bit of humor thrown in.  I loved all the secondary characters as well as Brady and Quinn and Winston, the drama queen cat.  I am a big fan of this author's work so when I saw this was being released I was eager to jump into it.  What I was not expecting was such a moving and touching story, one that will stick with me long after The End.  I highly recommend it.

The cover is perfect. 

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Analyzing Emory, Lily Grace

Analyzing Emory

Two men find that social, education and financial status mean nothing when it comes to what's in their hearts.

-Review by Cindi

When offered the position of the resident psychologist at the Chicago GLBT Center by an old family friend, Kyle Michelson can't get packed fast enough.  Leaving a former lover and his life in New York is not a difficult thing for Kyle.  He is eager to return to his hometown doing what he loves best... counseling gay and lesbian teens, something he had managed to get away from in the big city.  Not long back in town, he decides to check out his old stomping grounds, a gay club called Spin.  Not expecting to do anything more than have a few drinks and check out the new scenery, he is shocked when a gorgeous younger man walks over to talk to him.  One drink leads to Kyle taking the man back to his home and ends with a night of passion... and then breakfast the next morning.  When Kyle suggests getting together again, the young man practically runs out the door after making it very clear that he does not do relationships.  Kyle watches him go knowing that they'll probably never lay eyes on each other again.

Emory Brenner is out for a good time.... and a good fuck.  He dresses to attract and knows he can have any man he wants... but only for the night.  He does not do relationships and he never goes home with the same man twice.  While dancing at his favorite pick-up place, he notices a good looking older man checking him out from across the club.  Making his way across the crowded dance floor, it doesn't take long for the two men to make a connection and head out to the other guy's apartment.  Emory goes in expecting to spend a few hours in bed with the man and then leave when it's over, never thinking about the man .... or the experience... again.  Of course, it doesn't happen that way.  For the first time in his life, Emory feels more than the excitement of an intense orgasm.  He doesn't want to leave when the sex is over and this terrifies him.  He ends up spending the night (something he never does) and even gets talked into breakfast the next morning.  He reminds himself (again and again) that he does not do relationships and he leaves even after the connection he felt, not just in bed, but after spending time with the man.  He bolts in hopes of never seeing the man again.

Of course life doesn't quite work out as planned.

Two days after the amazing experience with Emory, Kyle is at the GLBT Center catching up with the old family friend who hired him and checking out his new place of employment.  He has not stopped thinking about Emory and is shocked to the core when he accidentally runs into Emory, a volunteer at the center.  Playing dumb to cover his own shock, Emory pretends (in front of the Center's director) that he and Kyle have never met before.   Hurt, but willing to play along, Kyle goes along with the introduction.  For days afterward, Emory dodges Kyle and refuses to talk to him.  He is still reeling from the feelings that the other man managed to pull from him and he makes it clear that he will not be starting any type of relationship.  Kyle is persistent and shows up at his place of employment (a record store) and a slow, reluctant relationship between the two begins.

This was a nice story but there were a few things that bugged me.  

What I liked:  

- There is an 8 or 9 year age difference between Kyle and Emory 

- Emory.  He came from a horrible childhood and (with the help of the Center's director) has managed to get his GED, find a job and get an apartment.  When he left home at 17 there was no hope.  Now he is able to have a somewhat normal life... with the exception of his irrational fear of getting close to someone other than his best friend, Ben.

- Kyle's family... for the most part.  His sister makes a few appearances though I found that parts of that were unnecessary and only added to the word count.

- Emory's best friend, Ben.  Ben works with Emory at the record store and does not pull any punches when he feels that Emory is being unreasonable.  This is frequent as Emory has a horrible outlook on life and he feels that he could never be good enough for a man as well off and as educated as Kyle.

- The story of the GLBT Center.  It is described as a wonderful place for gay teens to hang out, get psychological help or even stay if they have nowhere else to go.... if their parents threw them out because of their sexual orientation.  I enjoyed hearing about the center as much as I did reading about Emory and Kyle.  I know that places like that do exist in the world, but as I was reading I found myself wishing there were more like it.  It is somewhere I would definitely want to volunteer.

- Kyle.  He (though annoying at times) was very patient and willing to wait for Emory.  He also wore glasses.  I love men who wear glasses. :)

- I love opposites attract stories.  Kyle and Emory are definite opposites.  Kyle is wealthy with several college degrees while Emory has nothing in the line of education other than a GED certificate and he is far from wealthy.  Kyle is seeking a long-term relationship.  Emory fears getting too close to anyone.

- Max the dog.  Emory adopts a dog at a shelter and 'shares' him with Kyle.  This marks the beginning of a true relationship between the two men.

What I did not like:

- I am aware that the title of the book is Analyzing Emory but I found that Kyle was so busy analyzing that he didn't step back when Emory simply needed a friend... not a psychologist.  Emory was not seeing him in a professional capacity and I felt that Kyle took the "tell me how you feel" spiel a bit too far... too many times.  In one case, Emory is starting to come around and asks Kyle to go on a date.  What does Kyle do?  At the worst possible time?  "Tell me about your childhood...."  Hello???  Dumb move.  Needless to say, Emory ran.

- Richard, the Center's director, betrayed a confidence when he discussed Emory's past with Kyle.  It was not Richard's story to tell.  It was Emory's.  If Emory wanted Kyle to know anything (and it was quite obvious that he did not) then he would have shared that information on his own... in his own time.  

- The story dragged on a bit too long.  While I could relate to Emory's reticence and fears, I felt that part of the story could have be resolved much earlier.  There was so much back and forth that it started to wear thin about two-thirds into the book.

- Parts of the story are so predictable.  I felt like I was reading script from about half of the m/m books I've read (I've read close to 550 m/m books).  While parts of the story were a little unique, others were more of the same unfortunately.  From the cliches to the misunderstandings to... well, pretty much everything.

Overall, I found this to be an enjoyable read.  I enjoyed watching Emory overcome his fears and finally take a chance on Kyle and what they could have.  It took so much quite a bit of time for the two men to finally get it right  but they do finally have their happily-ever-after.

My first by this author.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

How to Save A Life (Haven #1), Sloan Parker

Sloan Parker strikes again with a suspenseful, sexy M/M read.

-Review by Kazza K

How to Save a LifeWhen I reviewed MORE, by Sloan Parker, I actually commented then that I hoped Walter would get his own book. Imagine my delight when I found out he was getting one. I thought he was suave, enigmatic, honest, older (love to see an older guy get a guernsey) and a good friend to Luke, one of the MC's in MORE.

The basic premise here is (much) older, experienced, out gay man, with a past, meets younger, virginal, in denial/closeted gay man, also with a past, at a gay club while both are there in an unofficial/official capacity - Walter for the friendship with the Haven's owner, Vargas, and his role as club security consultant. Kevin as a journalist attempting to go undercover to see how three young, gay men connected to the Haven have gone missing without reports being filed, and why. Plus he's curious. Walter and Kevin are thrown together by circumstances and have to work together to get to the bottom of what is going on.

During the course of the book more young men are abducted and Kevin is a mark. All the abductees are in their twenties but look considerably younger, as does Kevin. Even with added cameras and security no one sees these young men being taken out of the club. The mystery/suspense component of the book was well written and kept me turning pages.

However there is more. Not only does the reader get involved in the main characters stories and feelings, but the mind of the person, the Protector, who is actually behind the young men being abducted. I will say that the Protector did set my nerves on edge, possible due to his third-person creepy narrative. If you are not too keen on the darker side of rape, torture, beatings etc, then this book has your back as Sloan Parker did not delve into that information, it was more off page.

The protagonists -

My Walter
Walter Simon is forty eight, an ex cop who now runs his own security firm. You learn that he didn't part with the force on great terms and why that's the case. Walter isn't a 'player' at the Haven, he doesn't go upstairs with men, not that he doesn't have offers, he sure does. He likes the camaraderie there, he's friends with the owner, he watches, and in MORE was a great help and confidante for Luke. Walter lost his partner, Gary, five years ago to cancer, and he hasn't wanted to get back into the relationship game. But the catch 22 is that he doesn't like meaningless casual hook-ups either. So Walter is more serious and has learnt to be somewhat detached from life, although he'll tell you he's 'just fine.' I already had Walter-like from MORE, and that relationship continued for me here in How to Save A Life. He is charming, takes his job seriously, is honest as the day is long, caring, and is old-school in many ways. All of them good. He takes in one of the abductee's dog Charlie, and takes care of him. You have to love an animal lover.

Kevin in a pair of his superhero boxers.
Kevin Price is twenty nine, a reporter who seems passionately hell-bent on discovering what has happened to the young men that have gone missing at the Haven. More than just a reporter looking for a story. Kevin suspects that the owner, Vargas, is in on it as the police haven't been brought in and, after all, it's a gay nightclub. Kevin is a closeted gay man going into the club with preconceived ideas about what the Haven is really all about - trafficking, drugs, cover-ups - you name it he believes the worst. He also has a feeling that it feeds stereotypes, but as the story develops you discover why he feels this way. I found Kevin hard to like immediately, but as the book progressed I thought he was a really lovely character and perfect for Walter. He's dorky and wears superhero and shamrock boxers. Is a major klutz, he literally falls over Walter's shoe at the very beginning, bumps into things, falls on his arse, knocks things over and is generally sweet and funny. I laughed at how he saw Walter as a vampire before he knew who he was -

He had full lips. They were almost pretty. Did vampires have pretty lips?

Simon sounded like a name for a vampire. But ..."Walter?" ...Walter did not sound like the name for a vampire.

He looked younger in the photo than he had at the club. Softer. Less like a vampire. But still just as irritatingly sexy.

As the book progresses, and Walter is more and more smitten with Kevin, and vice versa, he worries about his age. About their age difference to be specific. A lot. He worries that not only is Kevin nineteen years his junior (48 to 29), but he is older than Kevin's father and that he will deteriorate while Kevin is still young. That Kevin will have to watch Walter die as Walter did Gary. He also knows that coming out is a big deal for Kevin and feels he should experience more than one relationship, and more of life. I liked this because as a person with an older partner I know it is something realistic, that you do think about these things. However, I also liked that Kevin wouldn't let this get in the way. Let's face it  you could get hit by a bus tomorrow. Age for Kevin is not the intense issue that Walter sees. If you love someone then that's what counts.

Lord above the kissing was H.O.T.
This book did not contain the same degree of sex as MORE, for me that's probably a bit disappointing but I know others felt MORE tended towards too much sex. However it was erotic and the kissing was 10 on the kisster scale of kissing. It was holy-shit hot!

....he spun around, gripped the back of Walter's neck in both hands, and tugged him down. The kiss that followed was beyond passion, beyond desire. Like an essential need. Like holding your breath too long, then sucking in a gulp of fresh air. ...
"We should go." He didn't make a move to leave. Instead he leaned in. Walter met him halfway until they had their mouths locked. This time Kevin's lips moved leisurely over his tongue taking long drawn-out tastes like he couldn't get enough of Walter....Like he wanted more and more and more.

And the answer by Walter to Kevin's question of what it's liked to be fucked is too long to put in here but you won't miss it at around the 21% mark. So the eroticism is definitely there and when they get together it is hot.

Walter and Kevin dancing, and kissing at the Haven

This book ended with a strong pointer to who the next book will be about and I cannot wait for them. I am hoping it will be edgy because that's definitely some baggage they have to get through, and I am rubbing my hands together with much glee. Yes, I'm bad :)

Overall -

Even though Walter appeared in MORE this is a standalone book. Yes, Richard, Luke and Matthew all make an appearance here, and while it's nice to know them you don't need to. How to Save A Life is a well rounded book. There is strong technical and creative writing, including plot, good characters, primary and secondary, humour, eroticism/sex, with a compelling  mystery/suspense storyline. While there was that instant attraction or interest between the MC's, declarations of love did not come straight away. There were no throw-away, silly nicknames. I liked who was saving a life and the metaphor of the title as well. It is an interesting progression in Sloan Parker's writing. I can't wait for the next book in The Haven series. Highly recommended reading

Monday, 14 January 2013

When One Door Opens, JD Ruskin

When One Door Opens

Two men, each battling their own personal demons, work together to overcome them and to find their happily-ever-after.

- Review by Cindi

Logan Sellers is an alcoholic.  He has just been released from prison after serving a year for assault that resulted from a night of binge drinking and an obnoxious bar patron.  His parole officer has made it clear that he is to remain sober, stay employed and stay out of trouble.  He has a part time job he hates but it keeps a roof over his head.  The roof being a small, run-down apartment on the bad side of town.  All he has to do is keep his nose clean for a year and he can get on with his life.  He has no family nor does he have any friends.  He gave up everything the day that he allowed alcohol to control him.  One thing he walked away from is his best friend, Michael.  Michael was there when the assault happened and Logan knows that he can never expect his old friend to forgive him for not only hurting the obnoxious bar patron but Michael and others as well.  

Caleb is an agoraphobic who has not left his apartment in three years.  He has panic attacks that prevent him from doing any more than walking across the hall to his elderly neighbor's apartment and even that causes extreme stress.  He has a business that he runs from his apartment, never needing to meet with clients face-to-face.  

Logan is summoned to his boss's office and offered a position off the books.  The job consists of delivering the mail and food to the boss's nephew, Caleb.  Caleb's uncle, Harrison, does not pick Logan at random to replace the man who had the position prior.  Logan is chosen because he is tall, handsome and sexy........ Caleb's type.  It is Harrison's hope that by hiring someone that Caleb is attracted to that it will encourage Caleb to finally leave the confines of his self-imposed prison.  Needing the money, Logan accepts the position grudgingly knowing that an 'off the books' job could cause him to be sent back to prison if his parole officer is made aware of it.  Thankfully, that is remedied not long into the story.

The minute that Logan sees Caleb, he is attracted.  The minute Caleb sees Logan, he is terrified.  Logan is 6'7" tall, his head his shaved and he is intimidating.  This does not, however, stop Caleb from wanting the man standing in front of him.    As Logan's visits increase, a relationship between the two men gradually begins, with each man living their own hell... Caleb and his debilitating panic attacks and Logan and his constant craving for alcohol. The two men work together to help the other, with Caleb slowly making progress in leaving the apartment.

A supervisor where Logan works, Foster, is constantly hitting on him.  When she is not trying to get into Logan's pants, she is doing things at the company that are illegal.  She is an evil bitch who has also made Caleb's life hell.  Thankfully, the author did not dwell on this character too much and the resolution with Foster was satisfactory.

I liked all the characters, both main and secondary.  The back story (with Foster) was interesting but not overly done.  The angst levels were kept low and I am glad of that.  There are a lot of serious moments but the author managed to throw in a few humorous ones as well.  

This was a good read.  It was, at times, difficult to watch Caleb as he suffered his panic attacks and battled the agoraphobia.  The same applies to Logan as he constantly battled himself in regards to alcohol.  Alone, there is little progress.  Together, they fight the demons that plague them both and slowly, gradually try to overcome them.  The sex, though infrequent, was nice.  I enjoyed watching Logan and Caleb as they got closer... in all ways.  I was not, however, all that enthused with the ending.  The important matters had been resolved (and old relationships were reconciled) but I felt that there was still a long way to go for these two and I felt that there were a lot of questions left unanswered.  I was expecting one thing toward the end but the author went in another direction.  Maybe this leaves the door open for a sequel?  

I love the cover..... a lot.  One of the reasons I bought this book was for the cover.  However, I do not feel that it shows one of the characters in the way he is written in the book.  Without a spoiler, I can't say why that is.  Also, some of the things that Caleb managed to do, not long into his treatment, were a bit far-fetched as far as recovery time is concerned.  

Overall, an enjoyable read.  I hope to see more of Caleb and Logan.

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Too Stupid To Live, Anne Tenino (Romancelandia #1, Whitetail Rock, #3)

Too Stupid to Live

Two complete opposites work through insecurities and other issues to find their happily-ever-after.   

A nice addition to the Whitetail Rock series.

- Review by Cindi

You know the character in movies who will run upstairs instead of out the door when a killer is chasing them with a knife or they open that door knowing the killer is behind it?  Or the one in romance novels who keeps going back to the man or woman who strives on treating that person bad?  like a nothing?  That would be the too stupid to live character.  We've all seen them.  We've all yelled at the movie screen when the man or woman runs to the obvious place where the killer can catch them.  How many times have you read a book where a man or woman kept going back to the person he/she is in love with even knowing that person is not good for them? 

Meet Sam.  Sam is a gay man addicted to romance novels and not necessarily gay romance novels.  Sam has had bad luck with men since he came out of the closet.  The last one treated him so poorly that Sam now has zero self-confidence.  He's tall and thin and not exactly the type of person that men are falling over themselves over to be with.  When Sam looks in a mirror, he sees a gangly, awkward, too skinny man.  Sam is that too stupid to live character that he always reads about in his romance novels for reasons that I will soon make clear.

There's Ian.  Ian is tall, built and sexy.  A man's man.  So far out of Sam's league it's laughable.  This is proven when the two men first meet.  For the first time in his life, Sam asks another man out.  For the first time in his life, he is shot down... badly.  Ian is extremely rude and Sam swears he'll never put himself out there again.  It is hurtful and it is humiliating, which only adds to his lack of self-confidence.  If other men don't want Sam what on earth made him think someone like Ian would?  

Sam and Ian accidentally run into each other again not long after the first humiliating episode.  Nik (Sam's best friend) and his partner, Jurgen (Ian's cousin) have a party for an 'acquaintance' of Nik's, Miller, who is slowly working his way out of the closet.  Nik is convinced that a party full of gay men will help ease Miller's way into the gay world.  Unfortunately, it throws Sam and Ian into the same room for long periods of time.  All Ian wants to do is get laid and there are a lot of gay men to choose from.  Jurgen, knowing Ian's reputation, warns him off of Sam because Sam is not a hook-up kind of guy.... he needs long-term.... the last thing Ian is interested in.  Unfortunately, things don't go as planned because of Nik and his matchmaking.  Nik cockblocks Ian every time he attempts to get close to another man and is constantly pushing him and Sam together.  At the end of the party, Ian makes a move and the two men end up having sex in one of the guest rooms.  Afterward, he does as Jurgen suspected he would... he runs while Sam is sleeping.  

Eleven days later Sam, who is a waiter (among other things), ends up having to wait on a large table of patrons.  Ian is one of them.  After once again hurting Sam's feelings (only this time in front of a crowd), Sam has had enough and refuses to go near him at the table again, allowing others to finish the job he started.  There is a lame apology later that ends with Sam blowing Ian inside the door of his apartment.  A sexual-only relationship begins at that point... kind of.  Sam obviously wants more but Ian obviously does not and he makes this known... often.

I have to say that I seriously did not like Ian from his introduction.  Instead of letting Sam down easy, he was rude and made it clear that he would not be interested in someone like Sam.  Then Ian spends the night with him at Nik and Jurgen's place only to run while he's asleep.  Later, he keeps going back to Sam for sex and Sam keeps allowing him to, with Ian still not being shy about it being only sex because Sam is not his type.  This is where the too stupid to live thing comes in.  Sam should have run... far, far away.... not kept allowing Ian to come back for yet another booty call.  But of course Sam can't do that because of the way he sees himself.  If Ian wants to use him, Sam will allow him to because he feels that he could never do better than that particular situation and if he can get good sex while he's being used?  Even better.

Something changes. Suddenly Ian is no longer looking at Sam as just a fuck buddy.  He's starting to care for him outside of the bedroom and it terrifies him.  With the help of a good therapist (who he has been seeing since an on-the-job injury), Ian allows himself to fall in love for the first time in his life.  Once the light bulb goes off (so to speak) everything I initially felt about Ian disappeared. 

I already loved this author's work but this one kind of sealed it.  She did exactly what she set out to do as far as the title is concerned.  The entire first half of this book I was looking at Sam thinking "leave the bastard!" or "he's using you!" and even "do you not have any self-respect at all?????"  But the second half changed all of that. Sure, I felt that Ian was a complete bastard but he slowly. s l o w l y, came around and the reasons for his earlier behavior is explained and what do you know?  I started to really like him as a character and I even found myself rooting for him and Sam.  Who would have thought it?  Normally if I don't like a main character early on, that only gets worse. Not in this case, thankfully.  I love how the tables were turned a bit and the one who was too stupid to live turned out to be the strong one... the one with the real power.

There are issues with Ian's family, a gay-bashing incident and various other obstacles that pop up but the happily-ever-after is very sweet.  A couple of things bugged me (Ian's constant use of the word kiddo for one) but in the end everything came together beautifully.  I also love the fact that Ian is ten years older than Sam as I love books where the characters have an age difference between them.  There is also a homophobic friend and coworker of Ian's who is not quite as he appears.

If you've read the first two books in the Whitetail Rock series, then you have already met most of the characters (main and secondary) in this book. I really enjoyed catching up with Nik and Jurgen again.  

Another great read by Anne Tenino.  I look forward to reading Miller's story someday and hopefully Tierney's.  It would be amazing if it was the same book (hint, hint to the author... :)

The cover is perfect and yes, there is meaning behind the hottie in the kilt.