Sunday, November 24, 2013

4 stars for With or Without Him by Barbara Elsborg

Synopsis: "The most dangerous refuge could be his lover's arms. "

Everyone has at least one deep-seated fear. For Tyler, it's being in debt. He's so desperate to get out and stay out of it, he'll do almost anything-including selling his body at Saturday night sex parties.

But he refuses to open his mind to anyone, especially the men paying to use him however they want. The only time he's truly happy is during the week at college, when he can escape into his music.

The moment Haris sees Tyler playing piano at a concert, he falls hard, and he's willing to do whatever it takes to make the guy his. Even if it means-for the first time in his life-opening his wallet as wide and desperate as his heart.

20,000 to live with a good-looking guy for four months? How can Tyler resist the chance to ditch the sex party scene for good? But neither man realizes how much they're risking. And when outside forces close in, ready to destroy them, the trickiest part about the next four months could be just surviving.

Warning: Contains a "for hire" bad boy with a filthy mouth, an awkward guy with a penchant for BDSM, a hypochondriac butler who won't shut up, a dog called Alcide, and a lot of hot and dirty M/M sex.

 There's a lot I liked about this story. I've always felt that Barbara Elsborg does a very good job with M/M relationships in her books. They feel very authentic to me, so when I saw this release,I wanted to give it a read. Very hot cover, too.

In this story, Tyler is a college student paying off his loans by selling his body to other men at Saturday night "parties" set up by a man named Prescott. Tyler doesn't really like what he's doing, but he likes the money. When Tyler encourages the new boy, Jeremy, to stay away and not live this lifestyle, he buys himself a heap of trouble from Prescott, who then retaliates with demands that mess with Tyler's college music recital and his life in general.

Haris is a wealthy man who happens to be at the recital and overhears what's going on. He's intrigued and on a hunch, he follows Tyler. Good thing he does, because Tyler is in some trouble. When Haris saves him, so begins their relationship.

Haris makes a deal with Tyler to live with him, but he also has problems of his own that impact how he reacts in his life. His secrets aren't revealed until the end of the story, so its tempting to judge him as just a rich and selfish man who only knows how to buy his way into and out of relationships.

But the reader does get some of the innermost thoughts of both men. I thought this was a great way to show how these men felt about each other, but they end up acting in a different way. I liked having that glimpse into their fears and desires and watching how each interaction brought them closer to sharing what was really in their hearts. It did take a long time for that to happen, but it seemed very believable considering what these characters have been through.Some of my favorite scenes were those that had Tyler trying to break Haris from his tight shell of control.

There's a nice little mystery plot threaded through this that I really enjoyed. I appreciated the twists and turns in the story and that there were multiple villains to choose from. Kept me guessing all the way until the end.

This is a very rich story, with many twists and turns and interesting reveals of the background of both of these men. Honestly, Tyler and Haris's backstory broke my heart and I was rooting for them to overcome their history so they could find happiness together.

I read this book in less than a day. The story held my interest in a way that I wanted to keep reading to find out what happens to Tyler and Haris. Even though a good part of the story was dark, I liked the complexity and diversity of it.

I think it's challenging to write sex scenes dealing with prostitution without sensationalizing sex-for-hire and Barbara Elsborg does a great job with this. I really liked the contrast between the prostitution sex and the love scenes between Tyler and Haris. That was very well done.

So great main characters, even though Haris was bit frustrating with his jumping to conclusions. I liked that his trying to use his money to buy everyone was a subject that was dealt with thanks to the fabulous and funny butler Wilson. I loved his contributions to the plot, his sense of humor and his common sense were a relief to the darkness of this story.

So overall, a good read for me. If you like M/M stories with realism, you might like this one.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

4 stars for Holiday Games by Jaci Burton

A Holiday Novella

A Riley wedding is in the works, a Riley Christmas means a house full of family, and baby making is on Liz Riley's mind. Chasing Gavin around and meeting in dark closets can be fun, but Liz is more than a little determined. Even with family in every corner of the house, Gavin is more than ready to do whatever Liz wants—especially when sex is involved. It's a Riley family Christmas.

 First off, let me say I love the early books in this series and the entire sports-minded Riley family. I was so excited for this novella because my favorite couple of the series, Jenna and Tyler, are getting married!

But as much as some of the activity in this book centers around wedding and holiday preparations, this is really Gavin and Liz's story. Liz wants a baby in the worse way and thinks she can manage it just like she does her job. The story opens with a negative pregnancy test and an even more determined Liz.

Most of the Riley's make an appearance in this novella, but unfortunately their interactions are used mostly to present backstory for new readers to the series. I did find that left me wanting more. The football game with Cole and Mick matching up was awesome and while I missed some real dialogue between these characters, it was still nice to have them in the story.

A good bit of the story revolves around Jenna's wedding preparations, and I have to say that the girls bacholorette party was fun, with Jenna kissing bald heads and getting loaded. On the other hand, the guys bachelor party is ho-hum. I would have thought those men could have put together a much better send-off for Tyler.

But this is really Gavin and Liz’s christmas miracle. The absolute best moments of this book are between Gavin and Liz, and I gotta say, I don’t remember Gavin being quite as hot as he is in this book. The scenes between them are steamin’. But Gavin really won my heart when he called his mom to help when they needed it. It’s the little moments in this book that have the impact.

Overall, this is what I’d expect in a Christmas novella. It was great to visit with the Rileys.

Hard one to rate. There were some definitel pluses and minuses. But I wasn’t disappointed to pay for this one. So I'm rounding my 3.5 stars up to 4 on this.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

4 stars for Addcted to You by Krista & Becca Ritchie

She’s addicted to sex. He’s addicted to booze…the only way out is rock bottom.

No one would suspect shy Lily Calloway’s biggest secret. While everyone is dancing at college bars, Lily stays in the bathroom. To get laid. Her compulsion leads her to one-night stands, steamy hookups and events she shamefully regrets. The only person who knows her secret happens to have one of his own.

Loren Hale’s best friend is his bottle of bourbon. Lily comes at a close second. For three years, they’ve pretended to be in a real relationship, hiding their addictions from their families. They’ve mastered the art of concealing flasks and random guys that filter in and out of their apartment.

But as they sink beneath the weight of their addictions, they cling harder to their destructive relationship and wonder if a life together, for real, is better than a lie. Strangers and family begin to infiltrate their guarded lives, and with new challenges, they realize they may not just be addicted to alcohol and sex.

Their real vice may be each other.

New Adult Romance recommended for readers 18+ for mature content

I will admit that I was a little worried about this book at the start. Two self-indulgent, co-dependent, running-from-their-problems privileged young adults. I wasn't sure if I was going to like them, but I decided to give it a go and I ended up really liking this book.

Lilly is a sex addict and Loren is an alcoholic. They live together, hiding each other addictions from their families, hiding from their problems behind their addictions. The first 2/3 of the book is their descent to rock bottom. Lucky for them, they do have a support system of friends and relatives to help them.

The last part of the book reveals some secret that I had figured out early on, but its reveal was still done very well. It ends on a bit of a cliffhanger too, and I will admit to digging right into Ricochet as soon as I finished.

By the end of the book, somehow I'd become very interested in these characters, even though there are some disturbing scenes depicting both Lilly's and Lo's addictions. Their love story is what really pulled me into this book and I'm looking forward to finding out what is going to happen next.

Thanks to NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review. 

Friday, November 1, 2013

Sentinel Tour + Giveaway : Apollyon by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Book Summary for Apollyon

Fate isn’t something to mess with… and now, neither is Alex.

Alex has always feared two things: losing herself in the Awakening and being placed on the Elixir. But love has always been stronger than Fate, and Aiden St. Delphi is willing to make war on the gods—and Alex herself—to bring her back.

The gods have killed thousands and could destroy entire cities in their quest to stop Seth from taking Alex’s power and becoming the all-powerful God Killer. But breaking Alex’s connection to Seth isn’t the only problem. There are a few pesky little loopholes in the whole “an Apollyon can’t be killed” theory, and the only person who might know how to stop the destruction has been dead for centuries.

Finding their way past the barriers that guard the Underworld, searching for one soul among countless millions, and then somehow returning will be hard enough. Alex might be able to keep Seth from becoming the God Killer… or she might become the God Killer herself.

Buy Links:      Amazon     |   Barnes & Noble

# 1 New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Jennifer L. Armentrout Lives in West Virginia.

All the rumors you heard about her state aren’t true.

Well, mostly. When she's not hard at work writing, she spends her time, reading, working out, watching zombie movies, and pretending to write.

She is the author of the Covenant Series (Spencer Hill Press), the Lux Series (Entangled Teen), Don't Look Back (Disney/Hyperion) and a yet untitled novel (Disney/Hyperion), and new YA paranormal series with Harlequin Teen.

Jennifer also writes New Adult and Adult romance under the pen name J. Lynn. The Gamble Brothers Series (Tempting the Best Man/Tempting the Player) and Wait for You. Under her pen name, she is published with Entangled Brazen and HarperCollins.

Author Links:

Spencer Hill Press is giving away a $200 gift card to Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Book Depository or any indie bookstore of the winner's choice to not only stock up on amazing books, but to perhaps buy a Nook HD or Kindle Fire. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I'm in the midst of re-reading Apollyon in anticipation of the release of Sentinel.  So many good lines!  but my favorite so far is this one:

 "Well it's good to see the Scooby gang all in one piece. Warms my heart and all that jazz, but let's get to the point."

Do you remember who said that? 

This book was chock full of action!  I gave it 4 stars!   Here's my review: 

Wow! Another emotionally charged and action-packed installment in this series. Apollyon picks right up where Elixir ends and we learn many new details regarding the two Apollyons, Lucian's plot, the gods involvement, and lots of feels from the "gang of nine" While Apollyon doesn't have quite the intensity of Deity, it is a great setup for Sentinel, the final book in the series.

And although Aiden is incredibly swoon-worthy, I've got to say that Alex is the star for me in this series. She deals with a whole world of crapola in Apollyon and does it well. Even though her feistiness takes a few hits, her core values remain intact. I'm really hoping that Alex and Aiden get the happily ever after they have both been dreaming of, but it's still a long and dangerous road to get there. *sigh*

Here's a mini interview with the author and characters of  Apollyon:

For JLA – So much of your personality comes out in the snark in your books and Apollyon is no exception.  Which character has the most of you in them?  Probably Alex. 

For Alex – As far as I can tell, Aiden is just about perfect.  What are your thoughts on the matter?  I don’t think anyone could be more perfect than Aiden. 

For Aiden – This journey has been full of so many close calls.  When were you most concerned that you would lose Alex?  I can’t even answer that question because Alex is always scaring me.  It seems like I’m never there to protect her or I’m locked on the other side of the door. 

For Caleb – What was it like for you, seeing Alex again?  I wanted to see Alex, she’s my best friend, just not where we were reuniting.

Release Day Review: The Five Year Lie by Sarina Bowen

Bestselling romance author Sarina Bowen’s debut thriller, about one woman’s search for the truth after receiving a text from her deceased ex...