Release Blitz + Giveaway: Must Like Spinach by Con Riley

Check out Con Riley's Release Blitz of Must Like Spinach, via Signal Boost Promotions and enter the giveaway for a chance to win an ebook copy of True Brit!

Con Riley - Must Like Spinach

Author: Con Riley

Release Date: October 21 2016

Length: 84,200 words

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK 


Jon’s future in New York seems bright. He’s on the corporate fast track as an executive problem solver, but somehow he can’t help feeling hollow. Yearning for a life spent outdoors makes no sense if he wants to flourish in this city, nor does losing his cool with clients when they make bad decisions. Only leaving the East Coast behind for three months can save his business reputation.

His exile in Seattle has unexpected upsides. Jon’s rented home has a garden where his true passions blossom. It’s overgrown yet idyllic—perfect if he didn’t have to share it with another tenant. Tyler might be as cute as hell, and their landlady adores him, but Jon can’t let himself fall for someone who seems lazy.

Three months could be enough time to see Tyler clearly, but choosing which to nurture long-term—love or a business career—might take Jon longer than one summer.

Buy Links

Amazon US:

Amazon UK:
Author Bio

Con Riley lives on the wild and rugged Devonshire coast, with her head in the clouds, and her feet in the Atlantic Ocean.

Injury curtailed her enjoyment of outdoor pursuits, so writing fiction now fills her free time. Love, loss, and redemption shape her romance stories, and her characters are flawed in ways that makes them live and breathe.

When not people watching, or wrangling her own boy band of teen sons, she spends time staring at the sea from her kitchen window. If you see her, don't disturb her—she’s probably thinking up new plots.

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Review: Tempting Tristan (Harborside Nights #3) by Melissa Foster

Tempting Tristan is a stand-alone M/M romance featuring two sexy, lovable alpha heroes.


Fresh off the heels of yet another bad relationship, Tristan Brewer is taking a break from men to try to figure out where he keeps going wrong. He knows his biggest fault—he leads with his heart, not his head—and that’s never going to change. But after several introspective weeks, he’s beginning to get a handle on things. That is, until badass heartthrob Alex Wells walks into his bar...

Alex has spent eight years in the army, months in a hospital bed, and far too long hiding his sexual identity. He’s guilt-ridden, damaged, pissed off, and up for a Silver Star for the incident that nearly cost him his life—and kept him from his grandmother’s funeral. But all he wants to do is live the life he’s always dreamed of and forget his stint with the institution that allows but doesn’t necessarily accept.

The chemistry between Tristan and Alex ignites from the moment they meet, and the more time they spend together, the hotter the flames burn. But the closer they become, the more Alex's walls go up, and when the two walk onto a military base, Tristan finds out Alex’s physical scars aren’t the ones that run the deepest.

DNF - 41%

Melissa Foster is a new to me author who is dipping her pen into the m/m side of romance. It's obvious here the type of story she possibly writes as this opened up and read like a stereotypical new adult hetero romance. The story is also one of many in a combined series where characters show up with history that is mentioned but glossed over in the way that it felt was intentional to get you to read the other books. Maybe? I dunno. That’s just what I got. There are many instances where the reader is reminded that the MC’s are indeed men, are tough and yes, are gay. That they want to claim one another, even from women and the sheer amount of topping vs bottoming dialogue was enough to make my ass clench.

Oh Boy.

I don’t want to sound like a negative Nanny so I will keep this short. I think this could be one of those books that can bring a standard hetero romance reader over to the side of m/m and possibly was written for fans of the author. This just did not do it for me. I tried to just scratch my head and move on to find out how things would end up. Would Tristan take it slow after his past relationship and when would Alex open up about his past, his leg and really let himself properly grieve for the loss of this grandmother without guilt? I will never know but I do know that there are too many books to read to spend time forcing my way through one that doesn’t do it for me.

So... TULIP!

I’m safing out of this one.

Find on Goodreads!

Review: Where We Left Off (Middle of Somewhere #3) by Roan Parrish

Leo Ware may be young, but he knows what he wants. And what he wants is Will Highland. Snarky, sophisticated, fiercely opinionated Will Highland, who burst into Leo’s unremarkable life like a supernova… and then was gone just as quickly.

For the past miserable year, Leo hasn’t been able to stop thinking about the powerful connection he and Will shared. So, when Leo moves to New York for college, he sweeps back into Will’s life, hopeful that they can pick up where they left off. What begins as a unique friendship soon burns with chemistry they can’t deny… though Will certainly tries.

But Leo longs for more than friendship and hot sex. A romantic to his core, Leo wants passion, love, commitment—everything Will isn’t interested in giving. Will thinks romance is a cheesy fairy tale and love is overrated. He likes his space and he’s happy with things just the way they are, thank you very much. Or is he? Because as he and Leo get more and more tangled up in each other’s lives, Will begins to act like maybe love is something he could feel after all.

Leo Ware is excited to leave small-town Michigan for college in New York City. An even greater pull to NYC is Will Highland - the man who stole Leo’s heart a year ago. Will seems happy to see Leo again, and the two quickly become friends. But Leo isn’t okay with just friendship - he wants to give in to the tension burning between himself and Will, and to make Will his.

However Will makes it clear that he doesn’t do relationships. Even when Leo becomes the most important person in his life, Will still doesn’t believe that he can be in a relationship, or that Leo will want to stick around for long. Leo sets out to prove Will wrong, to show him that they belong together.

Anytime a book is set in New York City, I’m automatically a bit more interested. There’s just something captivating about the Big Apple. Seeing the city through Leo’s eyes was a treat.

It was easy to love Leo. It would be hard not to! He’s adorable - kind, caring, friendly, and just a tad awkward. He jumps headfirst into his new life in NYC, making friends and enjoying the experience of the massive bustling city.

Will, with his ice cold exterior and standoffishness, took a bit more getting used to. However, his armour breaks off bit by bit as the book progresses, and we get to see the heart underneath all of the ice.

I wasn’t at all surprised that Will and Leo slowly became each other’s best friends. It’s undeniable that Leo and Will have had an emotional connection since they first met in book 1. They may have very different personalities, but they understand each other.

And an emotional connection isn’t all they had. The sexual tension between Leo and Will was killer. It takes them a while to give in to it, but Will and Leo finally do, it was very hot. Leo may have been a newbie to sex, but he was more than willing to take charge.

However, an emotional and sexual connection doesn’t necessarily mean that two people will work out as a couple. At the end of the day, Will and Leo have entirely different conceptions of love. Leo wants ever-lasting romance and monogamy, while Will thinks love is fleeting and monogamy is restricting. Up until the very end, Will refuses to commit to Leo, and hurts Leo multiple times. And I really can’t blame Will, because while his actions were often callous, he was always honest with Leo about what to expect.

I’ve read and enjoyed many romance books in which the couple agree to an open or polyamorous relationship and it works great for them, because both parties want the same thing. But that isn’t the case here.

And I think that’s the heart of the problem - this isn’t a romance between equals. This is a relationship between a man who’s too set in his ways and beliefs to change, and a boy who’s so desperate to hold on to his first love that he would agree to anything.

Will and Leo may have chemistry, but they don’t have what it takes to make it long-term. It’s possible that Leo may eventually share Will’s views on monogamy, or it’s also possible that Will may find that he’s okay with only being with Leo. But I don’t believe either of those things will happen.

I think Leo and Will are two very different people, which is completely okay, in very different stages of their lives and they’ll eventually go their separate ways. And that might be realistic, but that’s not what I look for in my romance reads.

A review copy was provided in exchange for an honest opinion.

Find out more on Goodreads & Dreamspinner Press.

Audiobook Review: Prince of the Playhouse (Love in Laguna #3) by Tara Lain

Driven by his desire to become a successful fashion designer and concerned with hiding his questionable past, Ru Maitland lets his obsession with action movie star Gray Anson on the big screen replace his social life. Then obsession and reality collide when Ru is asked to design fashion costumes for a special performance of Hamlet at the Playhouse in Laguna starring none other than Gray Anson. Gray turns out to be a compelling mix of shy and brash and, despite a high profile engagement to a female socialite, the signals Gray sends Ru have his libido doing the salsa.

Gray Anson has what most people only dream of—great wealth, huge fame, a job he loves. For that, he’s given up any semblance of privacy and the right to say no to the thousands of people who depend on him and the millions who love him. He sees everything he’s ever wanted just outside the bubble of his life, but how can he make the compromises needed to embrace it? When Ru’s shady past crashes into Gray’s paparazzi-haunted present, both men have to learn that sometimes the only acceptable compromise is the truth.

Narrator: K.C. Kelly
Listening Length: 8 hours 41 minutes

This book was better than I was expecting. Celebrities are a pretty tricky sub-genre to make work, especially ones where the main character isn’t able/doesn’t want to come out. After hearing a few other people's opinions on the book, I thought all the ‘expected’ drama was handled much better than I was expecting, however it definitely wasn’t one of the best celebrity stories I’ve read.

First let me touch on the narration, as this is meant to be an audiobook review :-P. K.C Kelly’s narration took some time for me to get used to, but it worked and I started to hear the characters in his voice. He certainly had an impressive range of character voices.

One aspect that I really struggled with was Ru’s inner-monologue. I’m assuming this would have been written in italics so it was easy to define what was spoken out loud or in his head. There are obviously no italics in audiobooks and I really struggled to figure out what Ru was actually saying out loud a lot of the time. The thing is while his narration worked, I had no desire to find reasons to continue to listen to this. It's hard to tell whether that was the story, or I just wasn’t captivated by the narration (I’m leaning towards the story), but it just wasn’t as good as other audiobooks I’ve listened too.

Ru, fabulous fashion designer and ex gang member, is obsessed with action star Grey Anson. Grey comes to Laguna Beach to perform a modernised stage play of Hamlet and there's an instant attraction between the two (well going on 3 years for Ru). Of course Grey can’t come out as gay man because it’ll ruin his career.

This had everything you think it’ll have: annoying managers, pretend girlfriends, press cover ups and hurt feelings. Like I said though, it wasn’t as dramatic as I was expecting. Both Grey and Ru were honest with each other and were both willing to do what it took to be together. This story didn’t contain bitterness on Ru’s part, which usually comes with being told to be a secret boyfriend. He thought about it, made the decision that he wanted to be with Grey regardless, and didn’t hold a grudge against Grey for that decision. While I still felt like Grey was too much of a doormat, he was constantly reassuring Ru he was most important and was continually trying to get rid of the ‘girlfriends’, and he never once kissed anyone other than Ru.

There was some ‘action’ drama with Ru and his gang connections which was OTT, but overall it was less than I was expecting, which I really appreciated. I guess this is a 3 heart and not 3.5 because it took me a month to listen to this story. It just didn’t grab me. It wasn’t bad, but wasn’t anything particularly special.

Find on Dreamspinner Press or Goodreads

Review: Pendulum (Kingdom of Night #1) by L.C. Davis

Remus Black is still reeling from an abusive relationship that stripped him of everything -- including his desire for love. Now all he wants is a fresh start halfway across the country, but his new roommate is determined to draw him into his strange world of chains, half-naked men and the infamous Lodge, a BDSM club as lavish as it is secretive.

When Remus is entered into the Lodge's annual Alpha's Pet contest against his will, he finds himself thrown to the Wolf Pack, the very type of men he needs to avoid. What's worse is that the wolves immediately label him a submissive, something he swore he would never be again. Things get even stranger when "wolf" turns out to be far more literal than Remus ever imagined. When both the next-in-line for Alpha and his outcast brother claim Remus as their own, the entire pack is thrown into chaos.

Can Remus learn to embrace the power of submission and choose between the brothers before their rivalry tears the pack apart, or will the tension between them unravel his own sordid past?

A lot happened in this story which deviated from the blurb. Don’t get me wrong, what is in the blurb is definitely in the story, but there is so much more.

This intricately plotted out story seems to have many threads to follow. If you’re looking for a paranormal BDSM story, you will not find it here. Yes, there is some BDSM in a dungeon setting, but it seems to take a back seat to the broader story line. I wouldn’t even call this a BDSM erotica story. I would say that there is a minimal amount, and it really doesn’t have much to do with anything. It was a catch, to get Remus to where he needed to be. I think this could have been achieved another way, but obviously, this was the author’s choice. Once there, the story opened up into a world of Werewolves, Vampires, and the secrets buried deep within Remus’ mind. It was definitely a fascinating read. It certainly kept me in its grasp throughout. There were a few plot holes, and I didn’t really get a good image of what the werewolves looked like, but it was otherwise a good start to a series.

Gritty and a little bit dub-con, Remus has been caught between twins, both for whom Remus is their mate. This isn’t stated, but is pretty obvious from the beginning. I’m not giving anything away, I promise.

Remus’ personality grows into something more than the skittish human whom we first meet on his first day at a new university. He’s run from his abusive ex, and is understandably trying to regain his footing. Brought up in a revolving door of foster families, Remus second guesses himself often, is deeply scarred, both emotionally, and physically. With his meeting of his new classmate cum roommate, Sebastian, and Victor, this story turns into a maze of interconnectedness that made my mind spin at times, but showed that the author has a great imagination.

I enjoyed the development of Remus. I enjoyed the development of his friendship with Victor. I wasn’t totally convinced on his relationship with Sebastian. I didn’t really feel it. There was more time spent with Remus and Victor, and the development was much stronger. I’m more interested in how they progress through this series, and think that maybe Sebastian should look for someone else.

There are a few nice twists in this story, and I’m very interested in continuing this journey. There were some grammar issues, which I think needs a re-edit. They didn’t detract too much from the overall enjoyment of the story, but there were more than there should be, and it did pull me out of the story at times.

I would recommend this to those who enjoy Werewolf and vampire erotic love stories. This is a little darker and less fluffy than standard, which I prefer. A lot of the character’s have questionable morals. I like this grey area.

I will say, I need a bit more detail on the fundamentals of the pack, vampire politics, and overall world building, but I’m hoping those gaps will be filled along the way. There’ a nice blend of author’s imagination and common folklore to make this a unique reading experience.

Find more info on Goodreads!

Giveaway + Blog Tour: Slave Hunt (The Subs Club #5) by J.A. Rock

Clubhouse fave! J.A. Rock is her to promote an AMAZEBALLS book! See our review here!

Hi! I’m J.A. Rock, and I’m touring the internet to talk about Slave Hunt, Book 5 in The Subs Club series. Thanks so much to the blogs that are hosting me on this tour, and be sure to leave a comment with your contact info for your chance to win a $15 Riptide Publishing voucher. 

About The Subs Club Universe

After the death of their friend Hal at the hands of an irresponsible dom, submissive friends Dave, Kamen, Miles, and Gould band together to form the Subs Club—an organization seeking to expose dangerous local doms. The club slowly evolves as romances blossom, loyalties are tested, and tensions mount in a community already struggling for unity in the wake of Hal’s death.

From domestic discipline to knife play to fashion paraphilia, and from family drama to new jobs to first loves, the members of the Subs Club explore life’s kinks inside and outside of the bedroom as they attempt to let go of the past and move forward.

Check out the universe at Riptide Publishing:

About Slave Hunt

Thirty people. Two hours. Only the strong will survive.

When Riddle decides to put on a slave hunt, the Subs Club is on board. Tops hunting bottoms in the woods with paintball guns? Yes. Captives strung up on whipping posts, at the mercy of their captors? Hell yes. But on the morning of the hunt, nothing’s going according to plan. Miles and Drix are at odds over Miles’s reluctance to move in together. Dave is determined to show up D, who thinks Dave won’t last two minutes in the woods. Gould finds himself torn between obeying his master’s orders and living out a longtime fantasy. And Kamen inadvertently becomes a double agent when he aligns himself with two different parties.

By the end of the hunt, alliances will be forged and broken, loyalties will be tested, relationships will be strengthened…and someone will barrel roll. Narrated by ten different characters, Slave Hunt tells the story of two hours in the woods that will change everyone forever. Or at least, remind them that love is the greatest victory of all.

Slave Hunt is available from Riptide Publishing:

About J.A. Rock

J.A. Rock has worked as a dog groomer, knife seller, haunted house zombie, standardized patient, cashier, census taker, state fair quilt hanger, and, for one less-than-magical evening, a server—and would much rather be writing about those jobs than doing them. A lover of m/m BDSM romance, J.A. lives mostly in West Virginia, and always with a beloved dog, Professor Anne.

To celebrate the release of Slave Hunt, one lucky winner will receive $15 in Riptide Publishing credit! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on October 22, 2016. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!

Audiobook Review: Alaska Hunt by Shelter Somerset, Narrated by John Solo

Listening Length: 9 hours and 21 minutes

For Alaska Wildlife Trooper Zanebono Fusca, it's just another summer in Anchorage until a slew of inexplicable fatal bear attacks sets the city reeling. As far as Zane is concerned, the timing couldn't be worse. He's besieged with his own demons, coping with personal loss and an identity crisis that clutches him worse than a grizzly's pickaxe-sized fangs. Ten years before, he hoped Alaska would bring him a sense of his manhood. Now the "last frontier" could put him in an early grave.

Zane's role to protect Alaska's teeming wildlife gets even more tangled when handsome twenty-five-year-old Joshua Gaffner arrives seeking the details of his uncle's gruesome death. But Alaskan officials have few answers. Against his better judgment, Zane takes Joshua deep into Anchorage's far-flung backcountry-populated with eccentric recluses and ego-driven ecologists-in search of the truth. As the bizarre attacks increase, Zane and Josh continue to push for clues to crack the mystery. Finally Zane unravels a shocking discovery that makes the pieces fall into place. The trouble is Josh stands in the perfect position to become the next victim.

John Solo narrated this well and I enjoyed the story - for the most part. There were some bits that irked me and took away from the enjoyment of the story. As I explain these it may be a bit spoilerish so this is my warning. Ok?!

This book has possibly one of the most original storylines I have read. I liked that it was different and not the same old, same old. Set in Alaska - a place I have loved from a distance since watching Northern Exposure as a teen - the setting is a perfect backdrop to the brutal life and death murder mystery story to follow. Shelter Somerset writes wonderful place. I could feel the Alaskan wilderness, the way the weather and the season affect those that live there. It was atmospheric, a great setting, without being too much and taking away from the story.

Overall I really enjoyed the story, but as I mentioned there were a couple of niggles that just dropped down my rating. The first of these is - only in my opinion - a writing error (I'm not sure that's the right word, the author writes what the author wants to write, but it didn't fit with the rest of the story, took from it in fact). Basically in a few scenes we are in the head of the bear (in the opening scene in fact), and while these scenes are well written in themselves the anthropomorphising of the bears took away from the story. It took a grisly murder mystery and turned it into something... less? I can see what the author was trying to do, but it just didn't work.  Bears are not human. They are wonderful animals that do not have the same thought processes as humans. Well, at least as far as we're aware. By being inside the bear's head and seeing the scene from the bear's POV  just did not work. It just didn't. I really feel this should have been flagged at the editing stage and the author should have changed it. 

The second niggle is personal but it really bugged the ever living fuck out of me. For reasons I won't explain so as not to spoil the story, Zane's son lives with his ex-in laws, miles away from the Alaskan home he has made for himself. All through the book we hear how much he wishes he could see his son more, how he had no say etc etc but there was no reason he could not have had his son. Even if he agreed with the in laws that Alaska was no place for the child he could have moved to where his child was. So too for that matter could the boys mum. It pissed me off so much. He's the dad. The child should be his first priority. 

Now just for the record I don[t believe there is anything wrong with grandparents or extended, adopted or foster families caring for children, not at all. A family is a much bigger concept than mum, dad & 2.4 children. In many, many, many circumstances it is not the right choice or in anyway the best option for the child. In this case though it felt entirely selfish to me that Zane made the choices he did, and as a parent it bugged me. This, is of course, my own personal feelings but it did diminish my enjoyment of the story. It's quite possible that every other reader didn't even think twice about it.

If it wasn't for these couple of things this would have been a five star read for me. It was original, in a great setting and had great pacing. I will definitely look out for this author again. Definitely.

A copy of this audiobook was given in exchange for an honest review.
For more information see Dreamspinner Press or Goodreads.

Review: Pictures of You (90's Coming of Age #1) by Leta Blake

Growing up gay isn’t easy. Growing up gay in Knoxville, Tennessee is even harder. 

Eighteen-year-old Peter Mandel, a private school senior—class of 1991—is passionate about photography. Peter doesn’t have many friends, preferring to shoot pictures from behind the scenes to keep his homosexuality secret.

Enter Adam Algedi, a charming, worldly new guy who doesn't do labels, but does want to do Peter. Hardly able to believe gorgeous Adam would want geeky, skinny him of all people, Peter's swept away on a journey of first love and sexual discovery. But as their mutual web of lies spins tighter and tighter, can Peter find the confidence he needs to make the right choices? And will his crush on Daniel, a college acquaintance, open a new path?

Join Peter in the first of this four-part coming of age series as he struggles to love and be loved, and grow into a gay man worthy of his own respect.

This new series by Leta Blake is gay fiction with romantic elements.

Book 1 of 4.

Warning! These books contain: New Adult fiction, ‘90s gay life, small city homosexual experiences, Southern biases, sexual exploration, romance, homophobia, bisexuality, and twisted-up young love. Oh, and a guaranteed happy ending for the main character by the end of Book 4.

This book, this book, this book...
This series, this series, this series...
Gimme, gimme, gimme...
I need more...

I have a confession, I like to gorge read series, which is great when I stumble across a complete series and can power read my way through them all in one sitting. Team this with my lack of willpower to dive into a great sounding book though and it doesn't work so well. I knew this was one of four. I read the warning that the HEA would come at the end of the fourth book - and still I dove in. Now I need the next book. Right NOW. 

Peter, Adam, Sarah... this book is full of emotionally and characteristically complex characters. There's none of that he's a good guy/he's a bad guy stuff. I think I loved and hated each of the MC's equally at times. Reading can be a bit like hindsight - it's easy to see where things are going wrong, where bad decisions are being made. It's also like living in the moment because you can see why choices were made, how they were made... you can see the justification of any given character at any time. Usually, even with the gift of knowing a craptastically bad idea when we see it from the readers POV, we understand the journey the character takes because they don't have the benefit of hindsight at that point. While I was angry and frustrated and pissed off with choices made and actions of the characters - Adam especially, but also Peter too - I also understood it.

I am a child/teen of the 80's/90's. I remember them well. It doesn't seem so long ago but things were different. Even more different in small town USA, I think. Things I take for granted now - mobile phones, the internet - weren't around. Attitudes were different, sometimes in a good way, but often not so much. This was truthfully reflected in the book. I don;t say it excuses the actions of the characters at times, but it does make them easier to understand.

I really need to read the the next book, to me  this felt more like part one of a story rather than book one in a series, and ideally I would have read them all in one binge sitting. But there, when it comes to books I am impatience personified!

A copy of this book was given in exchange for an honest review.
For more information see Goodreads.

Blog Tour: Ethan by Ryan Loveless

We're happy to have Ryan Loveless make her first clubhouse appearance today!

Hello everyone.  Thank you to Boy Meets Boy for hosting me today. I'm excited to share "Ethan" with you.


Carter Stevenson is looking forward to a fresh start in a new high school on the other side of the country. It’ll give him a chance to escape his reputation for twitching and stuttering. He’ll have the summer to himself in his new home in California, and in the fall, he won’t get involved in any activity that puts his Tourette’s center stage. He won’t stand out as different.

But his new neighbor, Ethan, isn’t just going to change his plans. He’s going to change Carter’s life.
Ethan Hart is recovering from a traumatic brain injury, but it doesn’t dampen his enthusiasm or love for life. As soon as he sees Carter, who moves like the music Ethan sees between the clouds and the grass, he’s determined to become his friend, and then his boyfriend. And even if his parents say their romance can’t get physical, Ethan won’t let it stand in the way of falling in love.

Stepping into the spotlight was the last thing Carter ever wanted, but Ethan, along with a group of friends who like him just the way he is—tics and all—starts to change his mind. 

Adapted as a YA edition of the award-winning novel Ethan, Who Loved Carter by Ryan Loveless.

Cover Artist: L.C. Chase

Buy Link:



“Cuh cuh cuh-ca—” I stopped. Not this. Not now. I took a breath and lowered my eyes from the barista’s wince. She was probably seventeenish, small-statured, with a russet brown skin tone and logic-defying hairstyle. Framed by her visor, her hairdo involved a few hundred thin, dark brown braids twisted on top of her head into a loose bun that had no business staying in place from what I could see. But I didn’t know much about girl hair. She had better things to do than listen to me make an idiot of myself, but apart from the wince, she didn’t rush me despite the line. I tried again. CafĂ© au lait. The air was hot around me; my throat strangled the consonants and didn’t give the vowels a chance.
“Maybe you could just point,” came a woman’s not unkind voice from behind me. I squeezed my eyes shut. I hadn’t dared a glance behind myself, but I could hear as the rumblings got louder and knew that the line had increased while I’d stood there. The barista drummed her nails against the side of the register. They were three inches long and each painted with a different immaculate flower. I recorded the absent rhythm. Tap scrape tap tap scrape and twitched, neck and shoulder, to it.
“Just give him a coffee,” a guy said. “Come on.”
I shook my head. Caffeine, no, bad. That would tighten me up even more, make it impossible to unwind, make the tics worse. “Duh duh de deca—”
“Decaf?” the barista asked.
I nodded. I hated having my sentences finished; it reminded me even more that I was the one slowing everything down. Getting stuck on sounds was one of my suppression tics, meaning I only stuttered when I was suppressing the tics my TS really wanted to do, and also my mind was too fast for my mouth, but no one saw that part of it. They simply thought I was stupid or, if I was lucky, shy, which was another reason for my stuttering.
She held up different sized cups. Humiliated, I pointed at the smaller one.
“What are you, a moron?” A different voice this time, the angriest one yet. I folded in on myself, shoulders scrunched and head down. Get your money out. Get ready to go. I had it in hand already: a five dollar bill clutched from the start of this debacle. The barista emerged from behind the counter and stormed past him.
“N-no, p-puh please.” I didn’t think I could ever come back here as it was; if she came to my defense—oh God, was there anything more humiliating?—I wouldn’t be able to talk myself into leaving my house. She was five feet tall at a generous guess. What was she going to do? Head-butt the guy in the stomach? I turned around, using the motion to hide a tic that started from my side and jerked up to my shoulder, to watch the carnage.
I froze as I took in the tableau. The man who had yelled stood red-faced and arguing with his hands; the barista faced him, pissed off and waving back, and off to the side, my new neighbor held a dripping towel. His hair wasn’t dark as I had thought. Rather, it was a deep orange-ish red. It stuck up from his head in thick tousled points that went every which way. I was right about him being tall. He was a comfortable six feet at least. He wore an apron that matched the barista’s over a white long-sleeved shirt. I followed the trail of drips from his towel to the table that the customer stood beside. The relief I felt when I realized the man’s outburst hadn’t been directed at me ended the moment I saw my neighbor’s fragile expression.
“I’m sorry,” my neighbor said.
“Ethan, do not apologize for someone else being a jackass,” the barista said.
“He knocks my coffee over and I’m the jackass? You get what you pay for when you hire re—”
The barista stepped into the man’s space. “You finish that word, Ned, and I’ll ban you for life.”
“You can’t do that. You’re only—”
“The owner’s daughter,” she snapped.
Ned closed his mouth.
“For now, you’re banned for today. Get out.”
Ned looked at the overturned cup on the table as if he were considering taking it with him. Glancing at Ethan, who stood squeezing the towel and staring at the floor, he left. For a moment, no one spoke, although everyone pretended not to be looking. The barista had a quiet conversation with Ethan. When they finished, Ethan stepped over to the table and wiped up the mess. People resumed talking.
The barista returned to the counter. She sighed at me, as if settling in for another challenge. “You want milk?” she asked.
“Yes.” I was too shaken by the distraction of what had happened to notice I hadn’t stuttered until the transaction was over. I had started for the door, coffee in hand and change in my pocket, when I switched my course and headed for Ethan. I could at least introduce myself. We were neighbors, after all.
Ethan looked up. He’d polished the table to a shine. Now he held the towel in front of him like a shield.
“I’m Carter. I just moved in next door to you.”
“I know. I saw you. You have a lot of stuff.” Ethan talked faster than me, but each sound seemed selected with care. Instead of making him sound robotic, the effect was musical. He had a warm voice, softer than I had expected from his size.
I laughed in agreement. We’d unloaded a lot on Catholic Charities before we left Jackson, but there was still a lot that came with us. I’d wanted to leave a larger portion of my things behind, but Molly and John had interfered. They’d said, “You never know when you’ll need a….” and dropped in the name of the item I wanted to toss. “I saw you too. You were in the yard with another man. Was that your—?” I hesitated, not wanting to say “boyfriend” in case Ethan was in the closet.
“My dad,” Ethan said. “I was showing him the music in the clouds. But he doesn’t always understand it.”
“Oh.” I wasn’t sure what to say. I’d never met anyone who heard music in the sky. “Your name’s Ethan? I heard her—” I pointed at the barista “—call you that.”
“Yes. She’s Vera.” Ethan peered at me. “You’re talking better.”
“I… guess I’m more comfortable with other freaks.” I grinned; I felt good and safe talking to Ethan, but Ethan’s smile disappeared. Too late, I realized what I’d done. “I didn’t mean—”
“I’m not a freak,” Ethan said.
No, no, no, I’m sorry. I flailed my hands, trying to catch the words before I tensed up too much to say them.
“You’d better go.” I turned to see Vera standing beside me and, again, the line of people oriented toward us. This time, her sharp glare burned into me.
“Yes, I’m sorry, I…. Ethan, I didn’t mean….”
But Ethan had already shut down. His face flooded with hurt that I couldn’t bear to see.
“Now,” Vera said.
Silent and shamed, I retreated. Outside I took my first sip of coffee. I winced at the sharp taste and threw it away, the wasted $2.50 a bitter reminder of my stupidity.

Carter was a symphony. He tapped his feet when he stood still and drummed his fingers on his leg. His eyebrows rose above his dark glasses in undulating movements, and I bet if I could see behind them, his eyes would have rhythm too. I wanted to tell Carter I could see his music, but then Carter called me a freak.
“You all right, honey?” Vera asked.
“I’m not a freak,” I said.
“That’s right; you aren’t.”
I liked that she agreed about that. I tried to keep working, but my stomach hurt. I didn’t want to show it, but I couldn’t help rubbing it and moaning, which made the customers look at me funny. A few asked me if I was okay and tried to get me to sit down, but it was against the rules to sit when I was working. I’d have to go into the back for that. After a few more minutes Vera took a break and put Andy in front of the register, which meant now there was no one to deliver food to the tables.
“Do you want me to take you home?” she asked.
“Yeah. I’m sorry.” Now Andy would have to do my work too.
“It’s okay.” Vera rubbed my back and helped me untie my apron. I didn’t need help, but I let her do it anyway. Lifting it over my bowed head, she handed it to me. “Go hang this up and meet me at my car.”
“Okay.” Taking it, I stumbled toward the back room and hung my apron on my hook. I changed out of my work shirt and put my T-shirt on before finding my time card and punching out. Elliot had given me the T-shirt for my birthday. It was yellow and said “Likes Boys” on the front in pastel colors. I had loved it. Mom and Dad hadn’t wanted me to wear it outside the house, but I asked and asked until they said I could wear it to and from work, as long as I was getting a ride from someone.
“Ready?” Vera came into the back with her keys in hand.
“Yeah.” I held the exit door open for her. In the car, we listened to Vera’s Tori Amos CD for the millionth time. Vera sang along as I watched out the window. Carter’s bike sat in his driveway when we drove past it. I turned to the other side of the street where the Radlington kids ran around in their swimsuits, jumping over their sprinkler. They waved. I waved back.
Vera pulled into my driveway. She walked up to the house with me. I took her elbow to climb the three steps up to the porch. “Do you want to call your parents?” She asked as we stood in my living room.
“No.” I wasn’t going to hurt myself or burn the house down. I wondered if I should offer her a drink or something to eat. I was supposed to offer guests something to be a good host, but this wasn’t a normal visit, so maybe I didn’t have to. I wanted to be alone anyway, and if I gave Vera food, she’d stay longer.
“All right, sweetie. You call me if you need anything.” Vera kissed my cheek. I bent almost in half for her to reach. After she left, I crawled into bed. I could see Carter’s house from my window, but I turned my back so I didn’t have to look at it. I’d had plans for Carter to be my new friend. Now, I didn’t want Carter to be anything.

Author Contact:

Twitter: @ryanloveless

Re-Release Day Tag Team Review: Timing (Timing #1) by Mary Calmes

Stefan Joss just can’t win. Not only does he have to go to Texas in the middle of summer to be the man of honor in his best friend Charlotte’s wedding, but he’s expected to negotiate a million-dollar business deal at the same time. Worst of all, he’s thrown for a loop when he arrives to see the one man Charlotte promised wouldn’t be there: her brother, Rand Holloway.

Stefan and Rand have been mortal enemies since the day they met, so Stefan is shocked when a temporary cease-fire sees the usual hostility replaced by instant chemistry. Though leery of the unexpected feelings, Stefan is swayed by a sincere revelation from Rand, and he decides to give Rand a chance.

But their budding romance is threatened when Stefan’s business deal goes wrong: the owner of the last ranch he needs to secure for the company is murdered. Stefan’s in for the surprise of his life as he finds himself in danger as well.

Hi, JL here.  Today we're doing something a little different.  My best pal Red (aka Sara) and I have had many discussions about certain books over the years.  We email back and forth letting each other know what we find funny or hot or swoonworthy.  Usually, one of us will read a book that we absolutely love and email something along the lines of, "OHMYGAWD you have to read this!!!!!!!!!!"   But our longest (and my most favorite) emails are when the other one finally picks up the book the first has been raving over.  Timing is one of those books.  We're going to review this from the perspectives of one who has already read it (me - numerous times) and one who is reading it for the first time.  And, just for shits and giggles, we thought we'd share our emails with you too.

The following review contains instances of squeeing, swooning and fangirling.  May cause bleeding of the ears and eyes to roll right out of your head.  


I have read this book so many times, y’all!  Seriously.  I think my latest count is eleventy kajillion and one.  This is my go-to comfort read.  Whenever I have a book hangover and I need to cleanse my palate for my next read, I read this book.  When I finish a particularly dark or depressing book, I read this to make me feel happy again.  If I read a terrible book, I pick this up to remind myself there’s good stuff out there.  Whenever I’m bored, I’ll read this book.  And, whenever I’m jonesing for some good ole Calmes Crack, I get my fix right here.

So, when Red agreed to buddy read this with me I was over the moon!  Immediately the emails started coming in.

Red:  "It’s been killing me since that first day when I walked in and you looked up at me and it was like I got hit by lightning.”
“Fighting with you was all I had, you know?”
“You know how sick I am of watching other people touch you?”
The man had it really bad for me, and I never had a clue.

I AM DEAD!!!!!!


Red:  DUUUUDE! I am dead. They are gonna have the sex and I am so on board with all of this. I love that he watched Stef for so long  but kept his distance and was just DONE and needed to have him. THIS IS SO GOOD! I love Mary Calmes.

Red:  So using this quote! LOL
“If it was any more perfect, I’d be dead.”

JL:  Now you see why everyone raves about Rand.  I'm so happy you're finally reading this.  :)

I read and re-read this book for many reasons, the biggest one being Rand.  He’s the epitome of book boyfriends.  He’s perfect in every way.  The man can be such an asshole but the minute he opens his mouth all is forgiven and I’m swooning like a proper Southern lady.

“Kiss me,” he said, his eyes locked on mine, absorbing me.  “Just once.  If it’s bad, if I freak out or if you do… fine, we’ll forget all this.”  It wasn’t a good idea.  “Come on, you have nothing to lose.  “I have you to lose, and I just got you,” I confessed, terrified.  “You’ll never lose me, I swear.”

“Do you have any idea how long I’ve waited?”
“You’re gonna be mine.”
“You know, you look really good under me.  I knew you would.”
“I have to be closer,”
“You fit me just right,”
“I can’t seem to let go.”
“You get that I’m not leaving your bed, right?”
 See???  How can you not fall in love with this guy?  Now, going by the quotes above, you would think Rand is a perfect gentleman.  Maybe a bit mild mannered.  You would be wrong.  Rand is the Alpha male to end all Alpha males.  He’s strong and confident and growly and bull-headed.  He sees what he wants and takes it and fuck anybody who gets in his way.  He takes not one single shit from anyone.  But most of all, what makes him so truly magnificent to me is his heritage.  You see, Rand is what we native Texans call a Good Ol’ Boy.  A little bit of rough mixed in with classic Southern gentleman.  And it is shown most clearly through his words.  What I like to call  Texasisms.

“That dog don’t hunt.”
...he got a wild hair up his butt…

“You’re gonna be sorry,” he growled at me.  “I am fixin’ to put you over the hood of my truck if you don’t quit.”

 It’s like music to my ears, that way of speaking.  As I am a displaced Texan who has been away from my home state for far too long, I sometimes get a little bit homesick.  But reading words like these eases the heartache some by making me feel like I’m home.  I can actually hear the accent in my head when reading and let me tell you, Rand has the sexiest voice!  Sort of a cross between Randy Travis and George Strait.

“You were made just for me,” he said, leaning back and panting, staring down into my face.  “Only for me… this is gonna be a forever thing, Stef, me and you.”


Anywho, as hard as it is to believe, there’s a lot more to this book than just Rand.  This has all the cracky goodness you’ve come to expect in a Mary Calmes book.  There’s action and adventure, an MC who is golden-perfect and everyone loves him (especially women), orphans, murder and, of course, some seriously hot love scenes.  I mean, hot damn Mary can write passion like no other!  Makes me break out in a sweat just reading it.

JL:  Damn! I forgot just how hot this book is.
"Scream my name, Stef... scream it loud."

Red:  And I read it at work! It was so hot.  I loved Rand being all I need to be inside you... He gets dirty when they do it in the laundry room too.  SO GOOD.

And Mary Calmes writes mature, thought provoking literature that makes me feel smarter just from having opened the book.  It’s so proper I feel as though I should get dressed up in my Sunday best before reading.

Red:  Mary Calmes keeping it real and classy! LOL "I squeezed her so tight she farted."

JL:  Haha!  I was waiting for you to get to that part.

Last but certainly not least, I feel I must comment on the new cover.  Because damned if that ain’t Rand gracing it.  I thought about finding some hot cowboy gifs and pics for my review but really, what can compare with that cover?  My mama always said don’t mess with perfection and that cover is so freaking perfect so no cowboys pics for this review.

So, what did we learn from this review?  Probably not much of nothin’ except that Rand is perfect, Mary Calmes is a goddess and Jenni Lea has a serious addiction to crack.  I am a Calmes Crack Whore and proud of it.  If you're looking for a coherent review, you'll have to read Sara's below 'cause all I've got left to say is a bunch of squees and sighs and words of praise to She Who Can Write No Wrong.  

Now, excuse me while I go read this again and again.  I'll be gone awhile so don't wait up! 



When it comes to Mary Calmes there are a good number of readers who get why I can’t get enough of her books. But there is one reader, one whom I love and adore who told me I would love a book from her (my first) with a ginger cowboy… and I loved that book. This reader, this amazing woman also told me that I would be able to handle my first shifter book, because it was by Mary Calmes and not only did I handle it, I loved and totally understood the magical world that was built around Logan and Jin Church. So when it came for me to finally read this book, the story of Rand and Stefan… who else would I buddy read it with than my darling and gorgeous, Jenni Lea.

I knew it was going to happen sooner or later. It’s just timing.

Where oh where do I begin with this? Well first I knew who the couple was and when I learned that Stefan was best friends with Rand’s sister, Charlotte, I was waiting for the meet cute to happen because meet cutes are my favorite but I didn’t get one. Instead I got a meet rude courtesy of one Rand Halloway to one adorable Stefan Joss and I was not a happy ginger. It really set a tone for Rand but I was assured by my girl that he has the qualities of my favorite type of Alpha Male – the redeemable asshole – so I let it slide and waited for him to fix the mess.

Rand Holloway was, as a rule, stoic, sarcastic, blunt, and unaware of his own strength. 
Rand Halloway is also crack no, he’s not tainted like crack, Rand is a pure as the white driven snow and I cannot stand the way his words melt me into goo because he’s not real. He needs to be real. With all the technology we have why can’t someone create 3D models of Calmes perfect men and make them real? At least make them purchasable so I can hide them in my closet and play with them at will… don’t look at me like that! Can you imagine putting a life-size Rand on a horse and watching his hair move and those thighs grip and him tap the tip of his hat as he… what was I saying? Oh yeah, I LOVE RAND!

Red:  I love that the "shoot first and ask questions later" ranch hands with guns across their laps are thanking Stef for making their boss happy and their lives a bit easier! It's a crack up how easy most folks are taking this and how Rands mom keeps hinting that she knows and holy shit is Charlotte gonna flip when she finds out!

JL:  I told you the crack was especially potent in this batch.  It's complete fantasy.   Totally unrealistic.   But I wouldn't change a single word of it.  That's what makes it so special.

Red:  It is and now someone is trying to kill Stef! I just love the hell out of it. I have been reading at work since I pulled something in my neck and really can't do much but sit here and grimace. The book is totally helping!

Also, I adore the friendship between Stefan and Charlotte. It's so damn pure and good and crazy insane!

JL:  Heh. Most people don't like Charlotte.  I do though.

Red:  I was just ranting about how can people NOT like Charlotte in a draft! I'm nuts but Stefan just showed up at the ranch and Rand said he thought he missed his chance and made me cry.

JL:  I've heard people say she's super annoying but I never thought so.

JL:  You know who Charlotte reminds me of?  Aruna.   A bit whackadoodle but in an endearing way.

Red:  I love the women she writes as companions. Aruna was nutty but she FIT Miro just like Charlotte fits Stef.

JL:  Yes, exactly!  I can't see Stef having anyone else as a best friend.   Or Miro either.

JL:  A best friend should be able to call you out on your shit while supporting you 100% anyway.   Love you,  not in spite of your flaws,  but because of them.  This is Charlotte.   She's fierce and strong and perfect for Stef.

Red:  Exactly! Even when she needs Ben in a different way she still needs Stef and I LOVE that she knew Rand and Stef were hot for one another but would never own up to it so she just let them play it all out. She's great!

I honestly don’t know where to go from here with this review, wait, I lied. I want to talk about Charlotte for a minute because I loved that girl. I loved how she and Stefan became roommates and before they could be separated, they moved off campus together. I adored how fiercely these two loved one another and how loyal they are. Stefan is nothing without his best friend and Charlotte would be nothing without Stefan. Even when he isn’t the holder of all her secrets anymore as she prepares to walk down the aisle to wed Ben, he is everything to her! It was great to see her not only want Stefan around but need him. It’s a special kind of need that is only between the best of friends and these two are indeed that. Without one another, they wouldn't survive and their friendship is twisted and terrific. They have no boundaries with one another and it's great because sometimes, you need that one person who knows it all, the down and dirty behind all the pretty and still loves you no matter what. But along with being Charlotte's best friend, Stef stands up for all that she loves as well, including Ben, and all that he has done for Charlotte endears him to May which aids in her acceptance of Rand and Stef being together. They are soul mates! Ugh.
Also, I mean, she’s Rand’s sister so without her, they never would have met and BOOM! She is amazing.

“You don’t have to be my knight in shining armor for me to love you dearly, desperately, and totally. And not just because you saved me, not because we shared this secret, but because of all the rest… all our history.”
 Back to the romance of the story. It was everything I could hope and want for in a Mary Calmes book. We have the Alpha Male with the heart of gold. The beautiful golden boy who everyone loves and wants. We have a wonderful cast of family and friends and we have guns and bullets with men running for their lives and being saved by the one they loved, men being held close and chastised all while being told just how much they are loved and wanted. Sigh. This was so good. An enemies to “call a truce for the wedding” friends to the all-out swoon fest that is named Rand Holloway romance. Seriously? I fell so hard for these two and that new cover IS ALL THE RAND ALL THE WAY! Those eyes… ridiculous and sexy and so full of heart.

Red:  Charlotte is reading Stefan the riot act about how he just disappears from peoples lives and I think I am Stefan. After admitting that, do I get a Rand of my own? Cowboy can lay his ownership on my ginger ass anytime he wants and do it with coconut oil if the olive isn't available.

JL:  Lol!
Well, if that's all it takes to get a Rand, plan on me disappearing from time to time.

Red:  I'm done. What the fuck do I do with my life now? Do I wait for the new version of After the Sunset or just read the one I have because I need more.

Red:  Sigh. I just loved this. I am trying to write more coherent sentences other that SQUEEE and UNF and  Oh shit, Duck Stef and run from the dudes trying to kill or feed you!

JL:  Haha!  That's how most of my Calmes reviews are.

When do we get the new and shiny version of book two??? I have a need for it. A strong need, baby.

Okay, I’ll stop now because I have a butt load of highlights with notes that just say “Re-Read” because they were too great to read only once. Who the hell am I kidding? This book is too great to read only once. Someone cover me… I’m going back in!

Tune in next time when we review After the Sunset, the second book in the Timing series!

 Find it at Dreamspinner Press and on Goodreads!