Monday, April 30, 2018

Release Day Review, Excerpt & Giveaway: Medley (Changing Lanes #2) by Layla Reyne


Medley by Layla Reyne
Series: Changing Lanes #2
Will the race for gold cost them their hearts?
Publisher: Self-Publish
Release Date: April 30 (Print & Ebook)
Length (Print & Ebook): Approx 270 pages
Subgenre: MM Romance, Bisexual Romance, Contemporary Romance, Sports Romance, New Adult Romance

With Medley, Layla Reyne combines love, self-discovery, swimming, and the excitement of the Olympics in to one stellar event. I loved Jacob and Bas’s story. --Anna Zabo, author of Syncopation

Book synopsis:
 

Sebastian Stewart was never Mr. Dependable; he was more the good-time guy who only wanted to swim, party, and ink tattoos. Until he cost his team the Olympic gold four years ago. Bas is determined to do right this time around—by his medley relay team and his rookie mentee.

Jacob Burrows is in over his head. The Olympic experience—from the hazing, to the endless practices, to the unrelenting media—makes the shy nineteen-year-old’s head spin. He’s trying to be everything to everyone while trying not to fall for his gorgeous tattooed teammate who just gets him—gets his need to fix things, his dorky pirate quips, and his bisexuality.

When Jacob falters under the stress, threatening his individual races and the medley relay gold, he needs Bas’s help to escape from drowning. Bas, however, fearing a repeat of his mistakes four years ago, pushes Jacob away, sure he’ll only let Jacob down. But the only path to salvaging gold is for Jacob to finally ask for what he needs—the heart of the man he loves—and for Bas to become the dependable one.

“How can you be your best when you’re not sure if your best will measure up? That’s the dilemma facing Bas and Jacob, as they deal with the immense pressure of swimming for Olympic gold while also trying to sort out their tangled hearts.” --Layla Reyne


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Excerpt:

Lawyer, priest, shrink.
Maybe bartender.
Ask someone to name their confessor and those were the usual suspects.
Bas would argue tattoo artist for the last spot in the top five. Humming needle in hand, he’d heard more than a few confessions over the years.
From the second a client stepped into his shop, they told a story. The design they picked. How much liquid courage it took. The tale of joy or woe that spilled from their lips after the first shock of the needle. Their reaction when it was done—relief, pain, regret, pleasure.
He’d heard almost every story.
In love, in lust, in rebellion, in hate, in freedom, in chains.
But he still couldn’t figure out the story that’d nagged him most the past ten days. He swiveled on the stool in the rented studio, droplets of dark ink splattering his worn jeans. “You gonna give me something to go on, Pup?”
Straddling the fancy tattoo-massage chair, Jacob laid a cheek in the cradle and glanced to his side. Mint green eyes, tequila-hazy, peered out from under long burnished lashes. “This was your idea, not mine.”
Maybe there was the start of a story. Why did his nineteen-year-old teammate have a fake ID, and why was he so friendly with Mr. Cuervo? Was it the same story as countless other college undergraduates?
Bas didn’t think so.
Jacob’s eyes slipped shut again, lips turning up in a faint smile. “You said you needed to get out of there and work.” He shrugged his bare left shoulder, the one closest to Bas. The breaststroker’s upper back was wide, like most swimmers’, his delts and lats hard and lean beneath suntanned skin. Not yet fully developed, given his age, but stronger than most. “So do what you need,” Jacob said. “Work it out.”
There.
There was the start of the story.



What I thought about Medley

Bas is desperate to make sure he doesn't repeat the mistakes of the last Olympics which cost the medley team the gold medal. He's determined to do the right thing, and that includes staying away from the pup, Jacob. Jacob is the newest member of the team and he's got what it takes to get the medley team to that gold medal, but it's all so very complicated.

The complication? Well, Bas has feelings for Jacob and Jacob has feeling for Bas. Both bisexual, they share an understanding of how people don't get what that really means. I liked the inclusion of the women swimmers in this part of the storyline.  And since they are rooming together during the practices before the Olympics, Bas feels the need to deny his feelings for Jacob, thinking they will impact their ability to bring home the gold. Until one fateful night when Bas gives Jacob what he wants and needs, leaving Jacob devastated and unsure the next day. His confidence in tatters, Jacob enters the Olympic competition ripe for head games from the competition and he get those head games from Bas's ex. 

Only Bas can fix this and it takes him a while to see that. I really loved these two guys and what they went through in the midst of the Olympic games. They are both trying to do the right thing and yet everything turns out wrong. While there is a definite sexual spark between them, what I loved the most about this story is how these two men felt about each other, and how much they cared about doing the right thing. It was great to see how Alex and Dane (the main characters in Relay, the first book in the series) contribute to Jacob and Bas's getting together too.
 
I loved the Olympic aspects of the story and how the incredible pressure during the games was part of the story. And Jacob's home life and his father's issues were a very touching part of this story, especially since Bas really got how much it all meant to Jacob.

Medley worked for me as a sports romance. I really liked Jacob and Bas (and the whole swim team) and I was rooting for Bas to get his act together when that was what he needed to do. Medley works well as a standalone, but you probably want to check out Relay too. 
An ARC was provided for review.



 Giveaway: win 1 of 3 ecopies of any back catalog ebook by Layla Reyne 
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About Layla Reyne
 
Author Layla Reyne was raised in North Carolina and now calls San Francisco home. She enjoys weaving her bi-coastal experiences into her stories, along with adrenaline-fueled suspense and heart pounding romance. When she’s not writing stories to excite her readers, she downloads too many books, watches too much television, and cooks too much food with her scientist husband, much to the delight of their smushed-face, leftover-loving dogs. Layla is a member of Romance Writers of America and its Kiss of Death and Rainbow Romance Writers chapters. She was a 2016 RWA® Golden Heart® Finalist in Romantic Suspense.


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Saturday, April 28, 2018

Review & Excerpt: Such Dark Things by Courtney Evan Tate


From New York Times bestseller Courtney Cole, writing as Courtney Evan Tate, comes the psychological thriller that will keep readers up turning pages long into the night,
SUCH DARK THINGS! 

"Written in breathless style, this page-turner relies on quick thrills, surprise twists...[for] readers seeking a fast entertaining tale..."(Publishers Weekly).

Grab your copy of SUCH DARK THINGS today!


A HORRIFIC RECURRING NIGHTMARE IS THREATENING TO STEAL HER SANITY…


Dr. Corinne Cabot is living the American dream. She’s a successful ER physician in Chicago who’s married to a handsome husband. Together they live in a charming house in the suburbs. But appearances can be deceiving—and what no one can see is Corinne’s dark past. Troubling gaps in her memory mean she recalls little about a haunting event in her life years ago that changed everything.
 

She remembers only being in the house the night two people were found murdered. Her father was there, too. Now her father is in prison; she hasn’t been in contact in years. Repressing that terrifying memory has caused Corinne moments of paranoia and panic. Sometimes she thinks she sees things that aren’t there, hears words that haven’t been spoken. Or have they? She fears she may be losing her mind, unable to determine what’s real and what’s not.
 

So when she senses her husband’s growing distance, she thinks she’s imagining things. She writes her suspicions off to fatigue, overwork, anything to explain what she can’t accept—that her life really isn’t what it seems.

  Grab your copy of SUCH DARK THINGS here!

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Excerpt
Prologue-
My skin is sticky with blood.
My waistband is wet with it, and I can taste it on my lips. It’s splattered on my face, and it tastes like metal that has been rotting in the sun and rain for a hundred years. The night makes me shiver, the cool breeze rustling my hair, and for a split second, I’m back there in that house, standing in that blood. My bare toes feel the warmth of the liquid turn cool as the minutes tick past.
Goose bumps raise on my neck, and a knot that I can’t swallow is lodged in my throat. My feet are frozen frozen frozen on the ground, and I can’t move.
Their eyes are open and lifeless, although they stare at me.
They see me.
Yet they see nothing.
I can’t breathe.
My lips are ice, just like theirs.
My heart is pounding and racing and stuttering, and I can’t breathe I can’t breathe I can’t breathe.
“Corinne. You’re safe here. Corinne.”
And just like that, I’m not there.
I’m here.
“There was blood all over me.” My words are stilted and fragile, like glass.
I stare at my hand, and even though it’s clean now, I see it as it was seventeen years ago, covered in the blood of two souls…souls that were living and that aren’t anymore. It’s hard to wrap my mind around. First they were breathing, and then they weren’t. It happened in a split second. I inhale shakily.
“Think about that moment,” the doctor instructs. “Who can you see?”
I think on that. “Melanie is next to me on the floor. Her head is bleeding into a pool. There is so much blood that it looks black.” I close my eyes, because it had been the first time I’d seen blood like that, and it terrified me. “Joe is on the bed. His blood is splattered all over the wall. Both of them have their eyes open.”
Staring at me.
The emotions welling up in me are like a wave, swelling, swelling, swelling…until I can’t handle it anymore. The horror and the guilt and the pain are just too much.
“I can’t do this,” I blurt out. “I’m done for the day.”
Dr. Phillips looks at me, and he’s calm and detached.
“Corinne, why are you here?”
I pause. What a stupid question. “You know why I’m here.”
I hate it when they treat me with such condescension.
“Humor me,” he tells me. “Why are you here?”
I grit my teeth and look away.
He waits.
“You’re saying that I tried to hurt myself. But I wouldn’t do that.”
I look at him now, and he’s so fucking emotionless. I look down at my left wrist, at the bandage covering up the stiches.
“I wouldn’t,” I insist again. “I’m a fucking physician. I wouldn’t have cut my wrist horizontally. If I really wanted to hurt myself, I would’ve known to cut vertically along the vein.”
I finger the gauze. Beneath it, the cut throbs, evidence of something I don’t remember doing.
“I’m not crazy,” I add. And I don’t know if I’m trying to convince Dr. Phillips, or myself.
“You’re not crazy.” He nods. “But you’ve experienced a mental break. You’re here because you need to deal with the causal underlying issue so that it won’t happen again. Right?”
He’s a fucking asshole.
I stare at the wall. At the whiteness, at the sterility.
“You need some plants in here,” I tell him, avoiding the question. “Greenery puts patients at ease. All this blankness…it’s maddening.”
“I’ll keep that in mind,” he says wryly. “Corinne…”
I interrupt. “Dr. Cabot,” I tell him. “I’ve earned it.”
“Dr. Cabot,” he corrects himself. “You’re right. You’ve earned it. You worked a long time to finish medical school and your residency. You’re a top ER physician. You have a life envied by everyone around you. You’ve got to take care of yourself, so you can protect this life you’ve built.”
I close my eyes. Behind my eyelids, it’s dark and safe. It’s black and warm.
“Protect it from what?” I whisper.
“You tell me,” he answers. “You’ve got something inside of you that is triggered now, something that creates panic and a fight-or-flight response. We know what your father did so long ago. What we don’t know is why…or what damage it has caused in you, damage that seems to be affecting you now.”
“I don’t know either,” I say helplessly, my eyes opening to the white walls again. “I can’t remember. I never could. You know that.”
“I know.” Dr. Phillips nods again, and he tries to be so fucking comforting. “You have a history of dissociative behavior. You blocked out what your father did so long ago, and it stands to reason that your brain has developed that as a defense mechanism. It’s doing it again now. If we don’t get to the bottom of why your memories are being triggered now, after all of these years…you’ll never have peace. Do we agree on that?”
Reluctantly, I nod.
“So we have to start at the beginning. You have to stay here and focus.”
Anger flares in me, red and hot, and I stare him down. He doesn’t blink and neither do I.
“Focus?” I ask him, and my words are sharp and I wish they would cut him. “You think it’s as simple as sitting down and focusing? How dare you sit there and tell me what to do, when you have no idea what it’s like?”
I stand up to leave, but the psychiatrist’s next sentence holds me in my place, freezing me.
“Corinne, you promised Jude you’d try.”
Jude.
My beautiful, understanding Jude.
I swallow hard. I did promise. And I have to follow through, even though the pain it causes me is immeasurable. I owe it to him. I’ll do it for him. Not for this psychiatrist, but for Jude.
My body folds back into the seat, and I finger the medical bracelet circling my right wrist. Corinne Elizabeth Cabot, Female. It’s me, condensed into one stark sentence, yet I’m a stranger to myself right now. That’s why I’m here. I don’t know myself or my thoughts. My memories are foreign, blocked, nightmarish, out of control.
“Fine.” There’s nothing else I can say.
Dr. Phillips is quietly triumphant. “Let’s begin again. Take a deep breath and close your eyes.”
I do, drawing the cool air in a rush over my teeth, expanding my lungs and holding it, before I let it slowly exhale. I do it again, then again.
“Think back to that night, Dr. Cabot. Stand in that room. Tell me where your father is.”
I envision it, I see it in my mind like it was yesterday. My father in his bloody steel-toed boots. “He’s on the porch, waiting for the police to come.”
“He left you alone in the house with two dead bodies?”
“Yes.”
“He didn’t try to run?”
“No.”
“Okay. What did you do then?” my doctor asks me calmly, unfazed by the ugliness of my story.
“I was stunned. I think I was in shock. My hand was bleeding.”
Dr. Phillips looks at my hand, because I’m stroking the scar now, an unconscious nervous tic that I often do when I’m anxious. “What happened to your hand?”
“I don’t remember.”
“Is there a lot that you don’t remember from that night?”
“Yes. You know that.”
“Yes, I do,” he acknowledges. “So you’re standing in the middle of a bloody crime scene because your father left you alone. What did you do then, Corinne?”
“I looked out the window,” I tell him. “I was frozen. I couldn’t move. My feet felt like concrete and I was afraid if I moved, my heart would explode. So I took deep breaths. I watched the trick-or-treaters walking by. I looked at the blood on my shoe. I looked at the jack-o’-lanterns that were lit on porches, and the ghosts hanging in the trees. There was a full moon. There was light on my shoulders.”
“Anything else?”
“I stared at the street sign on the corner. All Hallows Lane.”
“That’s ironic,” the doctor points out needlessly.
“Yes.”
“How long did you stand there?” His question is quiet.
“Until they came and took me away.”

 
What I thought about Such Dark Things

I really don't want to say much about the plot of this book because that would really spoil it for you, so I'll leave the Blurb to do the job of giving you the highlights of the plot.


That being said, I'm still not all that sure how I feel about this book. I think that's a good thing because there were times I was engaged and there were times I just wanted to stop reading this. The story and the writing definitely evoked some emotions in me while I was reading this and I did like that about it.

There were times I liked the main characters and understood their actions and there were times I really didn't get them at all and really didn't like them. Jude was an enigma to me, one minute a devoted sensitive husband, and the next.. well, he's doing things that can trigger Corrinne's darkest fears. Same goes for his twin brother Michel, who as a priest lusting after a young waitress just didn't work for me. I did like Corinne's character as she works through a devastating experience from her past that is now coming full circle.


I loved the suspense part of this book. It kept me guessing and that was what kept me reading this book. I also liked the creative way the story was presented by giving little glimpses between past and present. I do think there should be a content warning as cheating is sometimes a topic that can be triggering in some readers.


I give Such Dark Things high marks for how the story was presented, and the suspenseful and emotional elements. That's a five star for me. But I wasn't such a fan of the characters and I found that the sex was just not sexy. That's three stars for me. So together, I'm giving Such Dark Things 4 stars. Your mileage may vary as they say.


An ARC was provided for review.

 “Fans of domestic thrillers with an unreliable narrator will gobble this one up...Recommended for all thriller/suspense collections." --Booklist

Add it to your Goodreads Now!

     
Courtney Evan Tate’s SUCH DARK THINGS – Tour Schedule:
April 16th
Aurora B's Book Blog – Interview
Devilishly dirty book blog – Review & Excerpt
Smut Book Junkie Reviews – Review & Excerpt
The Book Hammock – Excerpt
April 17th
Book Freak – Review
Bookish Proclivity – Review & Excerpt
Ficwishes – Excerpt
April 18th
Read more sleep less – Review & Excerpt
Suey Library – Review
The Bashful BookWhore – Excerpt & Interview
April 19th
A Literary Perusal – Excerpt
Feel the Book – Excerpt
TBR Book Blog – Review & Excerpt
April 20th
Roxy's Reviews – Review & Excerpt
April 21st
KDRBCK – Review & Excerpt
April 22nd
Angela's Opinion – Excerpt
Evermore Books – Excerpt
Lattes & Paperbacks – Review & Excerpt
April 23rd
Becky on Books – Excerpt & Interview
Linz Readz – Review & Excerpt
Little Read Riding Hood – Review & Excerpt
V's Reads – Review & Excerpt
April 24th
M&J’s book blog – Review & Excerpt
Quesarasera Book Blog – Review & Excerpt
Talkbooks – Review & Excerpt
April 25th
Devilishly Delicious Book Reviews – Review & Excerpt
April 26th
Jax's Book Magic – Excerpt
Literary Misfit – Review & Excerpt
No BS Book Reviews – Review
The Book Hookup – Review & Excerpt
The Fairest of All Book Reviews – Review & Excerpt
April 27th
Just Me & My Kindle – Excerpt
Miss Riki – Review & Excerpt
Next Book Review – Review & Excerpt
Sassy Moms Say Read Romance – Review & Excerpt
Shh Moms Reading – Excerpt
Smokin' Hot Reads Book Blog – Review & Excerpt
April 28th
@all_encompassing_books – Review & Excerpt
Book Lovers Hangout – Review & Excerpt
Books A-Brewin' – Excerpt
Bout-a-Book blog – Review & Excerpt
Rainy Day Reviews – Review & Excerpt
Red Hot + Blue Reads – Review & Excerpt
Tfaulcbookreviews – Review


About Courtney Evan Tate: Courtney Evan Tate is the nom de plume for New York Times bestselling author, Courtney Cole. Courtney Evan Tate is her darker side... the side that explores shadowy places. Courtney lives in Florida with her husband and kids. She has a passion for raising drug addiction awareness, the Marine Corp (her middle son is a Marine) and being introspective on the human condition. To learn more about her, you can visit www.courtneycolewrites.com.  

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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...