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BLOG TOUR: Young at Heart by Kay Ellis

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Thanks for joining us for our stop on the Young at Heart blog tour! We’re excited to share with you some information about the book, as well as an exciting excerpt and our thoughts on this m/m romance from Kay Ellis. Oh and did I mention there’s a giveaway? Take a look – 

ABOUT THE BOOK:
Young at Heart CoverDevon Alexander is a wealthy successful businessman. The world is his oyster. In his work life he is decisive and in control.

His private life is another matter.

There, he doesn’t know if he’s coming or going in his on-off relationship with Jesse Young, an unemployed aspiring model half his age.

Can Devon and Jesse overcome the obstacles and outside influences standing in their way? Can they leave behind their own fear and mistrust? Or will they be their own worst enemies?

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Publisher: Wayward Ink Publishing
Length: novella
Genre: LGBTQ, MM, romance, gay romance

PURCHASE A COPY: AMAZON US / AMAZON UK / AMAZON AU / WIP / BARNES & NOBLE / ARe 

EXCERPT:

OUR THOUGHTS:

If I had to use one word to describe this story it would be rollercoaster. The ups and downs may leave you feeling somewhat unsettled, but they ensure no shortage of drama and tension. Jesse and Devon come from two very different worlds, a point which brings uncertainty in itself. Add to that a meddling mother, a fickle friend and numerous misunderstandings, and you have a recipe for angst and heartache.

It took me a while to decide if I actually wanted this relationship to work; Jesse and Devon manage to hurt each other in numerous ways, and they seem pretty toxic together. Many times I thought an incident brought them to the point of no return, only to be proved wrong yet again. Somehow Ellis manages to establish a solid ground amid all the missteps and distrust, building and rebuilding the connection despite the lies and deceit. One thing’s for sure – Jesse and Devon fight harder than most to make it work.

Ellis gives us two very different and interesting heroes. I enjoyed learning their stories and seeing how they grow throughout. I felt sorry for Jesse and the rough past he’s endured. With the abuse, and bouncing from family to family in the system, it’s no wonder he suffers from a lack of confidence.

Devon is the very picture of an upstanding, power executive, and he commands all the respect his position demands.  I absolutely love the contrast Ellis creates between his confident, successful businessman persona and his vulnerable emotional side. The fact that he loves Jesse enough to consider jeopardizing everything he’s worked for is quite a testament to the strength of his feelings.

I’m not going to lie – the age difference here is a bit tough for me. I struggle with many May-December romances, and this one is a somewhat larger age difference than most. Jesse’s age is a little younger than I’m comfortable with, although I know there are plenty of couples who have successful, loving relationships with such an age gap. In this case I’ll just chalk it up to personal preference.

*WARNING – THIS NEXT PART MAY BE CONSIDERED A MINOR SPOILER.*
I’ve heard many readers say they have mixed feelings about children in m/m romances, not because they’re adverse to gay couples adopting children, but because they don’t enjoy the complication to the story. I usually have no opinion either way – kids in m/m don’t tend to bother me. However this story may be the one exception.  I don’t necessarily appreciate the way that element is introduced. I want to believe Jesse and Devon ultimately get together and stay together for themselves, not because a child enters the picture. Again, this isn’t a horrible twist for the story, just not my preference. It’s certainly a realistic complication, and I feel given the situation the result was the best, logical outcome to expect.

RATING: ONE SNEAKER, ONE BADASS BOOT

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Kay-Ellis-300x300Kay Ellis lives in rural Oxfordshire in the UK, where sheís mum to two beautiful daughters. From an early age, she has written stories, with a sole readership of one ñ her mum, Sylvia. In 2013, someone suggested Kay enter a competition on national television to find a new ëracey readsí author. Much to Kayís surprise, she made it to the final three, and although she didnít win, the high praise received for her work gave her the confidence to start submitting to publishers.

When not writing, Kay enjoys reading, eating out and the theatre.

CONNECT WITH KAY: FACEBOOK / TWITTER

GIVEAWAY:

Prizes: 1 x $20 WIP Gift Card and 1 x ebook copy of Young at Heart
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BLOG TOUR: Frankie’s Series by Sue Brown

Frankie's BannerWelcome to our stop on the Anthony & Leo Blog Tour! We’re here to celebrate Sue Brown’s third installment in the Frankie’s series recently released on March 25, 2015 from Dreamspinner Press. In addition to our full review, we’re also providing a brief excerpt from our reviews of the first two books. So relax, kick back and check out some great m/m romance!

Book One: Frankie & Al
Frankie & Al CoverDumped by his boyfriend, Frankie Mason goes out with the girls, gets totally trashed, and ends his night by falling in front of a taxi. He’s rescued by a man with beautiful green eyes who takes care of him until he’s put into an ambulance. Frankie curses himself as he realizes he doesn’t have the man’s phone number. Still in pain a few days later, he is dragged out to a club only to be saved by Green Eyes once more. This time, he isn’t letting the man go.

Unfortunately Frankie has to attend a team-building exercise, nicknamed Womb Weekend, organized by his company. Al is working so he doesn’t mind, until he discovers who the team leader is. Al has a lot of explaining to do!

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Our Review Excerpt: “What a sweet story of how the fun, vibrant Frankie gets his man. If you enjoy Sue Brown’s stories as much as I do, you’ll love this start to the Frankie’s series. Sue’s trademark style of romance is heartwarming, and it’s here in full force.  I’m drawn in by the various entertaining characters, the interesting world she builds and the fascinating things that happen there. The detail and description is just enough to allow yourself to become part of each scene, but not enough to weigh things down.”

Book Two: Ed & Marchant
Ed & Marchant CoverEd Winters despises his job and hates everyone he works with—especially out and proud, happily in love Frankie Mason. He spends his days wishing he could dance, rather than work.

Late to go shopping one day, Ed ends up soaked in Marchant Belarus’s spilled Coke. Ed’s humiliation increases when Marchant, the owner of a BDSM club, realizes Ed is a sub, albeit a very closeted one. Marchant’s attempts to draw Ed out of his shell release years of pent-up anger and hurt over the abuse Ed’s mother and grandmother heaped on him.

Marchant is patient, but nothing he does seems to help until he discovers Ed’s secret love of dancing—a forbidden passion that might be the key to unlocking the confident, secure man Ed could be.

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Our Review Excerpt: “A lifetime of abuse at the hands of his mother and grandmother are mostly to blame for this unpleasant incarnation of Ed. The demons Ed’s facing are heartbreaking, and it’s obvious that he needs someone to nurture and guide him to a healthier frame of mind. I continue to struggle to understand generations of people who believe that verbal and physical abuse will resolve anything. Sure it’s a negative consequence that effects change due to avoidance, but fear becomes the motivation, not a desire to truly be different. In Ed’s case he was abused by people who should have loved him unconditionally; if you can’t be your true self with your family, then when can you?”

Book Three: Anthony & Leo
Anthony & Leo CoverWatching Marchant train his new sub leaves Tony unhappy at not having found a Dom of his own. Running Marchant’s BDSM club, Tony sees who the Doms prefer and it isn’t him—too big, too old, and too hairy. When his friend Jordan suggests he look outside the club, Tony’s mind turns to Leo, a man he met in a traffic jam. Tony manages to arrange a date and happily learns Leo is funny, very toppy, and not averse to Tony’s lifestyle. As a bonus, Leo sells sex toys.

When tragedy strikes the club, Tony fears he can’t help the mourning club members, but Leo offers his unwavering support. After such a tough start, Tony believes Leo is the Dom he’s been looking for… until he catches him kissing another man.

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 PURCHASE A COPY: DREAMSPINNER PRESS / AMAZON / ARe

Our Thoughts:

Anthony & Leo is a solid third installment in a really great series from Sue Brown. Each story is told with amazing consistency, and I really like how Brown stays true to the series’ roots. Frankie and Al have been a part of each and every story in some way, shape or form while Brown expands the overall cast of characters to include new,  diverse people. These additions allow her to delve into some very interesting topics and issues while also creating a lot of depth in the story arc. These guys have weathered some difficult times, that’s for sure.

This book focuses on Tony, the barman at Marchant’s BDSM club. Tony’s a sub without a Dom, something that’s causing him a great deal of discontent. These feelings have him on edge – he knows he needs to make some changes and soon. I get the impression he feels a little bit trapped; his position in the club hasn’t really allowed him to develop any kind of permanent relationship with anyone. Seeing Marchant training his new sub Ed has him longing for that kind of connection.

I wasn’t sure Tony would ever get out of the behavior pattern he’s in if it weren’t for his friends. Marchant and Jordan are more than a bit controlling when it comes to making sure Tony gets what he needs, but, even if he’s a little annoyed by it,  I think Tony appreciates it on some level. He knows he’s not assertive enough to take action without some direction, and Marchant gives him just that when he arranges for Tony to meet with Leo.

If there’s one thing about this book that left me longing it’s the way Tony and Leo’s relationship develops. From the beginning it’s clear they have some chemistry, and while things aren’t 100% perfect as far as Leo being the Dom Tony’s looking for, he’s definitely dominant and likes to take charge. I was hopeful Leo could learn to be exactly what Tony’s trying to find. What I didn’t feel between these two is the emotional connection I want them to have. In some ways the entire thing is too easy. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows.  Brown does give them one, mini relationship hurdle to add some tension. Other than that, it seems like the pieces fall into place without much resistance. I guess I should be happy, because rarely in m/m romance can two guys find love and happiness without excessive angst.

I’ve come to notice in many of Sue Brown’s stories she manages to work heavy social issues in with the lighter side of romance. In Anthony & Leo that heavy material comes in the form of hate crime against two of Anthony’s friends. I’m always sick over how ugly, brutal and unnecessary these attacks are; I don’t understand what makes a person think he has the right to attack someone else for something that has nothing to do with him in the first place. I’ve said it before, and I’m sure this won’t be the last time – society has a long way to go to get past this type of discrimination. It’s always a bit disappointing to realize just how little progress we’ve actually made.

RATING: ONE SNEAKER, ONE BAD ASS BOOT

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Sue Brown picSue Brown is owned by her dog and two children. When she isn’t following their orders, she can be found plotting at her laptop. In fact she hides so she can plot and has gotten expert at ignoring the orders.

Sue discovered M/M erotica at the time she woke up to find two men kissing on her favorite television series. The series was boring; the kissing was not. She may be late to the party, but she’s made up for it since, writing fan fiction until she was brave enough to venture out into the world of original fiction.

CONNECT WITH SUE:

FACEBOOK / TWITTER / GOOGLE+ / BLOG / WEBSITE / EMAIL

 
GIVEAWAY:
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Passing Through by Jay Northcote

Passing ThroughRelease Date: February 20, 2015
Self-published
Review Copy from Author

ABOUT THE BOOK:

Don’t waste a chance at happiness…

Leo is a lonely workaholic with no time for romance in his life. His job in London takes all his energy and commitment. When he goes to Cornwall to stay with his terminally ill uncle, Edwin, love is the last thing Leo expects to find.

Tris lives in a cottage on Edwin’s land. Gay, but still half in the closet, he and Leo bond over their affection for Edwin, and the pull of attraction between them proves too strong to ignore. In Tris’s arms, in the wilds of Cornwall, Leo finds a peace he’d forgotten existed.

On his return to London, Leo finds himself grieving for more than just the loss of his uncle. When some unexpected news gives Leo the chance to return to Cornwall, he’s afraid it will be too late to rekindle things with Tris. But having learned much from his stay with his uncle, Leo doesn’t want to look back and wish he’d done things differently.

It’s time to seize the day—if it’s not already too late.

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OUR THOUGHTS:

Thank you, Jay Northcote, for a book that is sweet, sensual and at times a bit somber. I feel like Passing Through is a fantastic reminder that life’s too short. It makes me want to seize the moment, take risks and never let a chance go by to tell someone how much they mean to me. There are so many things in daily life that we take for granted.

Leo’s story is simple, one that might even seem familiar to some. He’s a wildly successful, overworked, over-stressed web designer who takes some time off to care for his ailing Uncle Edwin. It’s kind of a classic “city slicker retreats to the country and experiences ground shaking revelations about life” kind of story. You can only imagine the wide spectrum of emotions Leo experiences during his time caring for his uncle in Cornwall: awkwardness, regret, guilt, sorrow, but most of all love. It’s that last one that seems to have a lasting impact, perhaps in more ways than one.

While in Cornwall, Leo meets Tris, an acquaintance his uncle has hired to do some work on the aging, dilapidated cottage on his property. If spending time with Edwin hasn’t made Leo nostalgic and longing for simpler times, Tris is a complete game changer. He’s the kind of guy Leo never thought he’d meet, let alone have the chance to connect with in any kind of relationship. I love stories like this one with an element of internal awakening where a solid character begins to realize something’s missing and how to seek fulfillment. It’s extremely gratifying to watch the way Northcote lays out all the pieces then begins to assemble them. I really love taking that emotional journey along with Leo.

Secondary to Leo’s storyline, Northcote gives us two tremendous side plots with Tris and Edwin. Each has his own journey to make with regards to sexuality, and it’s interesting to note the contrast in how all three have handled this personal issue. In the end I enjoy the complexity with which Northcote interweaves their lives; I’m not sure any one of them would have made the decisions they do without the influence or involvement of the others. In Leo’s case I’m certain of it, but to see Tris confidently make changes knowing it’s likely learning Edwin’s past and meeting Leo that lead him to do it…that makes me happy in ways I can’t even describe.

RATING: BAD ASS BOOTS!

 

Married to a Perfect Stranger by Jane Ashford

Married to A Perfect Stranger CoverRelease Date: March 3, 2015
Published by Sourcebooks Casablanca
Review Copy from NetGalley

ABOUT THE BOOK:
Mary Fleming and John Bexley are the “white sheep’ of their large families, written off as hapless, boring—and thus suitable for each other. But they’re no sooner married than John is sent off on a two-year diplomatic mission.

Upon his return, John and Mary find that everything they thought they knew about each other is wrong. They’ve changed radically during the long separation. They have to start all over. It’s surprising, irritating—and somehow very exciting…

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OUR THOUGHTS:
John and Mary seem to have at least one thing in common – their families believe each is kind of an odd man out. It’s for this reason they decide that a marriage between the two is a brilliant idea and perhaps the “best they can hope for.” With such a lack of expectation for each of them, it’s obvious they don’t garner a lot of respect from their relatives.

Little do they realize their families are right – these two are a very compatible match. Although you’d never guess it the way their marriage gets off to somewhat of a clumsy, awkward start.  That’s before John’s job calls him away to China for nearly two years. Twenty months. It’s a long time for anyone to be apart, let alone a couple that barely knows one another. People change quite a bit in that time, and upon John’s return, he and Mary are virtually strangers. It’s at this point that Jane Ashford begins the long, painstakingly slow process of reacquainting them.

Much of the book is spent with Ashford entertaining us with the charming story of John and Mary getting to know each other. Neither is sure what to expect, and they must relearn everything they think they already know. Both immediately notice the clear changes in the other, creating a bit of tension as we wonder just how they’ll adapt.  John’s work and the mystery surrounding it provides the perfect reason for them to collaborate, throwing John and Mary together in unforeseen ways that serve to further unite them. This makes for a fun, entertaining story, and Ashford’s comfortable, detailed writing delivers it effortlessly.

Perhaps one of my favorite aspects of the story deals with Mary’s art. She’s a talented artist who’s appreciated and even respected for her skill by many. That’s not to say she’s loved and revered by all, but it’s mostly positive. I think it’s refreshing to see a female main character in historical romance who’s viewed in this light. John discounts her drawing as simply a woman’s busy work at first, until he really gets a grasp of what she can do. I love how Ashford creates a hero who’s confident and secure enough to recognize the asset Mary is rather than be threatened by her potential.

I enjoyed this story so much, I visited Jane Ashford’s website to see if perhaps it’s part of a series. As far as I can tell it’s not, but while I was there I discovered that she has begun working on another series. It’s called The Duke’s Sons and is based on her book The BargainI guess I know what I’ll be reading next.  ;)

RATING: BAD ASS BOOTS!