Drawn to You, Jaclyn Quinn

Drawn to You (A Beyond the Cove Novel) by [Quinn, Jaclyn]

A heart can only pine for so long before the ache takes over.  For Elijah, he feels like he's approached that point over and over but after hearing the callous words from Jake, the man he hoped could be more, he's finally done.  Jake sees what he's doing is hurting Elijah but he just can't stop because he doesn't feel worthy enough to give Elijah what he deserves.  Until a tragedy brings Jake to his knees and Elijah to his side.  Navigating loss, heartache, and the casualties of the devastation bring both men closer together until they think that maybe, just maybe, they might be able to make things work after all; or maybe their closeness is just a product of hurt and comfort and it won't last.  Without courage they might lose it all before they can speak their hearts.

From their first coupling until the end, it's clear Elijah and Jake have serious chemistry.  It's that chemistry and the hope for more that brings Elijah back for more over and over again.  Finally, when he declares he's had enough, Jake begins to show his possessiveness, a possessiveness that has no place in the face of his rejection of Elijah's heart.  I was pretty disgusted with Jake's treatment of Elijah and the things he'd say to their partying coworker.  All the broken pieces of our hearts, mine and Elijah's, are mended by Jake's confession near the end though.  In fact, it's Jake's heart that made me fall in love with this story so hard.

There was so much pain, so much raw honesty over and over here.  From the horrendous grandparents, the grief of so many, the fallout of the grief and recovery, the passion, feeling undeserving, the tenderness and healing, feeling worthy...I was moved all throughout the story and couldn't have predicted just how much I would love the journey.  It's family that can bring us down or lift us up, but it's the chosen family that gives our heart a home, enhances the meaning of who we are, and provides a place to land when life throws us its worst.  From lows to highs, the family Jake and Elijah surround themselves with are some of the best humans and it was a pleasure to read this story.

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 Drawn to You, Jaclyn Quinn

Faith: SEAL'ed Book 5, Andi Jaxon and AJ Alexander

Faith (SEAL'ed Book 5) by [Alexander, AJ , Jaxon, Andi ]

Being randomly paired with a soldier overseas, Becca begins to write letters to a lonely SEAL and finds her heart being slowly engaged by the man.  Justin is captivated by the lonely but beautiful soul that has become a true friend through their correspondence.  What he didn't expect was the desires he'd have toward her romantically or that he'd want to have her and her daughter for his own.  But Becca is running in fear of a future heartbreak she's sure is inevitable.  Justin will have a tremendous task in front of him if he hopes to claim his family, but no SEAL backs down from a challenge.  If Becca can find the faith to believe in her letter lover, she might find freedom from grief and an enduring love she never expected to find a second time around.

The premise here was so sweet and I'm a sucker for a pen-pal turned more because they have a chance to build something immensely strong before lust enters the picture.  Too often we find relationships based on sex first rather than a foundation of all the other solid stuff.  There's nothing wrong with physical passion in a relationship, for many it's an essential part of it.  But everyone knows sex has a way of confusing things and lengthening relationships that really shouldn't have happened in the first place.  What we get here is something tangible and sweet and deep before adding in the physical attraction, which is definitely abundant on both ends.

 Faith: SEAL'ed Book 5, Andi Jaxon and AJ Alexander

What bothers me here, though, is Becca.  She vacillates so quickly and uses her daughter as a shield rather than a legitimate reason.  If she wants friendship first, stick to that and don't keep her daughter from knowing a good man.  Having a great male influence in her daughter's life can benefit her beyond the possibility that the connection could turn into more.  There's no rule that says if you can't have someone as a lover that you need to break your kids' heart by separating them from someone who genuinely cares about them beyond what they might feel or not feel for you.  Becca going from wanting more to shedding tears over cutting herself and him off, to deciding to keep him in her life, then again to reiterating the same fears yet again to her girlfriends gets super annoying very quickly.

Justin is mature and I liked him quite a lot.  He had a clear understanding of where she was coming from and knew how far he'd go for her and them together.  He didn't push, he respected her and loved her for all the best reasons.  His confessions and the end were so very sweet, absolutely worth reading in the end.  The depth of character created here was almost enough to make up for Becca's disappointing predictability.

 Faith: SEAL'ed Book 5, Andi Jaxon and AJ Alexander

The story dragged in places because we kept going over the same thoughts over and over from both perspectives, mostly Becca, and we didn't actually learn much that was new no matter how many times we covered their fears.  I honestly skimmed a ton of the story making it much shorter than even the novella is originally.  After reading Honor and Love from this series I have to say I had super low expectations for this story.  I'm glad it seems to have improved greatly and I may even go back to give Fate a chance.  Overall, this is one of the the better books from a cliche, erotic, and superficial series that could have been great.

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 Faith: SEAL'ed Book 5, Andi Jaxon and AJ Alexander

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Andi Jaxon
 

Raised all over the USA, Andi Jaxon is an interesting mix of East Coast meets West Coast with a little bit of Southern thrown in, just for good measure. She drinks too much coffee until it's late enough to drink too much wine and while her husband is defending his country, Andi is sexually frustrated for your freedom. If you see Andi online, she is probably sitting in a closet, hiding from her kids.

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AJ Alexander

AJ Alexander is a wannabe psychologist, writer, and author of the recently completed, SEAL’ed Series. AJ’s passion is writing angst filled happily ever afters that have to be earned by her characters. Women with no backbone need not apply.  AJ uses sarcasm and an unlimited supply of song lyrics to bring her romance novels to life.

AJ lives in the angst capital of the world, Seattle Washington with her own personal knight in shining armour and her two beautiful girls.

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Promise to Shield: Personal Protectors Book 2, Brittany Cournoyer

Promise to Shield (Personal Protectors Book 2) by [Cournoyer, Brittany]

A father's love puts Brice and Carter in close proximity to one another and while Carter was willing to do the job, it doesn't keep their personalities from clashing, often.  Attraction is buried deep under their animosity, but when an enemy from Carter's past puts them in danger the situation changes and their feelings change along with it, deepening to something irreplaceable.  If they can shield one another from the dangers and survive, they might get the chance to let down all their walls and keep what they've found.

From the very beginning the sniping, childishness, and assholery took center stage.  I'm not a fan.  I do understand that Brice had some major issues and was acting out in the only way he knew how.  Totally get it.  But it went on for sooooooo looooooong that I wanted to skip so many pages of their interactions because none of it gave much insight beyond the first couple chapters, none of it progressed their feelings or changed their relationship, none of it made me like either man...and that's a damn shame because the way the story ended made me want to like them so much.

The drama was definitely big and the conclusion came quick on its heels.  There wasn't a ton of build-up, that was used on drawing out their insane chemistry through hate-sex as well as their constant bickering.  I don't know that I'm a fan of the villain.  The players were slightly predictable as were their accomplices, but the situation did work.  Jillian was the most disappointing and I felt that her little confession was forced and contrived rather than natural and the confrontation in the hospital didn't really give closure because the same feelings of betrayal and hurt were the same after their earlier phone call.  Ultimately, I think the bad people were sufficiently bad and was surprised by the amount of damage that was allowed to happen at the end.  I wasn't mad at that surprise despite all the pain and awfulness Brice and Elliot had to endure.

Speaking of surprises, the set-up for the next story was a big shock when it was revealed though I could see how it came together afterward; hindsight is always 20/20.  With enough of these little surprises and all the heart and honesty that came at the end I wasn't ready to write this one off.  My extreme annoyance with their quarreling immaturity was tempered with the way things ended.

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 Promise to Shield: Personal Protectors Book 2, Brittany Cournoyer

False Memory and False Hope: The False Series Books 1 and 2, Meli Raine



Waking up and seeing your attempted killer's face is frightening enough.  For Lily to realize she's been in a coma for 14 months and that killer has integrated themselves into her family is worse.  Learning they know she knows who they are could spell her death, for real this time.  Only by lying can Lily have the hope of surviving and saving her family in the process.  Trusting no one is second only to lying to ensure the safety of all those she loves.

Lily is a very strong woman.  I admired her inner strength and commitment to her goal, that no one and nothing would keep her from remembering who she is and what she's fighting for.  She never gave up the fight and handled everything that came at her with a focus and clarity that I didn't expect.

But I have to say this story dragged...a lot.  While I appreciated all the little elements that made hour journey through the coma and afterward so real, so visceral, it went on for a long, long time.  We do get to the point where she's out of the hospital and going through the excruciating experience of PT, but by this point we're deep into the danger from her would-be killer.  Her emotional outbursts are quite understandable and I liked seeing her get to a point where something had to change for progression's sake.  When she and Duff were finally coming to some kind of understanding I had a really difficult time following their interactions.  Their dialogue wasn't easy to follow either because it was far more difficult to decipher joking, sarcasm, honesty veiled with lies, outright lies, and intent in their words than it should have been.  I had to re-read sections wondering if I was missing something.

The end is quite abrupt and very leading in terms of Lily and Duff's path together and the drama surrounding them is ramping up to be quite big.  It's definitely a cliffhanger, but that's to be expected with this author and how she puts her stories together, and the stopping point quite effectively makes you feel almost a sense of panic to get to the next book...


Picking up exactly where we were left with False Memory, we're treated to Duff's POV.  He knows Lily is lying and it's imperative she reveals her secrets to him.  But what he learns is both devastating and enlightening.  The truth leads them to a web of secrecy so interconnected it'll take a miracle to sort it out and save Lily's life.

Through Duff's eyes we see Lily in a similar way as before, but we're adding a tender element to the crazy that surrounds them.  Lily is still the strong woman we've come to know and despite her moment of panic and shock, which is completely understandable in their situation, she's also seen as a bit more vulnerable.  We get to see her tells and her frustrations with a fresh perspective.


Duff is frustrating to no end.  I'm not really a fan of how often we have to hear that he's a robot, or he shouldn't see Lily as he does, or the endless references to their job descriptions as well as his secrets without learning them at all.  He lies, he conceals, he evades, he distracts until he's backed into a corner and is forced to share his true allegiance.  Nothing is ever that simple, though, because the web just gets more tangled.

If at this point you haven't read the Harmless or Shameless books, you may be lost like I was.  Even starting The False Series from the beginning isn't helping me because the characters brought in, mentioned, and the motives and machinations of all of them are so convoluted I can't seem to keep it all straight.  I'll be doing a bunch more reading before False Start comes out so I can get it all straight before we're treated to the finale.  The final scene here creates that same sense of panic, but we also get disorientation and more urgency.  The finale should be a doozy...

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About Meli...
Meli Raine writes romantic suspense with hot bikers, intense undercover DEA agents, bad boys turned good, and Special Ops heroes — and the women who love them. Meli rode her first motorcycle when she was five years old, but she played in the ocean long before that. She lives in New England with her family.

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Stark Memory: Stupid, Awesome Love Book 3, Ceri Grenelle

Stark Memory (Stupid Awesome Love Book 3) by [Grenelle, Ceri]

Their summer together changed everything, and then she disappeared.  Almost two decades later and Santiago catches a ghost in his arms, a ghost who has no clue who he is or what they meant to one another.  When Opal is given a chance to live her dreams she slowly comes to the realization that she'll need to address the memories of the past that she's been running from; and who better to help her sift through it all than the handsome blast from her past?  Together they traverse memories, heartache, and find a love that rivals the one of their youth.  But it'll take more than courage to forge ahead, they'll have to find and gift others with the forgiveness that they've been denying themselves and so many others.

Santiago was a pretty solid character from start to finish and his endless patience definitely won me over in the face of Opal's vacillation.  I liked that he was so completely honest with her from the very beginning, that he didn't hide himself away or his growing, changing feelings.  Even knowing when Opal wasn't ready he came out and warned her that to discuss certain things further was deeper for him and would upset her.  It layered their interactions with a complicated kind of hesitant transparency that wasn't expected.  His stubbornness and refusal to forgive his family time and time again was frustrating, especially in the face of his two best friends that had lost so much.  He eventually pulled it out, though, and gave him greater perspective for when he finally came to terms with his separation from Opal.

 Stark Memory: Stupid, Awesome Love Book 3, Ceri Grenelle

Where Santiago was consistent and stable, Opal was back and forth, fearful, and a bit too dismissive.  She was also quite damaged and I didn't fault her for running away.  Doesn't mean I liked it, just that I can understand and don't judge her too harshly for it.  When she did begin to open up and let Santiago help her work through her memories and feelings, though, she softened and became much more relatable.

 Stark Memory: Stupid, Awesome Love Book 3, Ceri Grenelle

Throughout the entire story I had a problem with the inconsistent feeling between their voice and how much time was supposed to have passed.  It felt more like everyone should have been in their mid-twenties rather than their late thirties.  That alone gave it a frustrating element of juvenility where I was expecting something more staid and grown-up.  Feeling like that never went away, by the way, it was a disconnect that lasted from start to finish.  Along with Opal's insistence at avoiding her memories and then her reluctance to come clean about having them, and I had a lot of moments that I felt as if my eyes would get stuck in their rolled position.

But there were so many gems!  I caught myself smiling many times when there were small revelations, confessions that about broke my heart with how much feeling was expressed, and the interplay between friends and family.  I'm so in love with the night Opal and Santiago met.  The awkwardness, the interest, the humor, the banter, their youth, and the excitement and promise of a happy future.  It's what makes their situation that much more devastating and the ending so tenderly triumphant.  The journey is pretty long with a few divergent paths on Santiago's part that lengthen the story.  Overall, though, the story is as painful as it is sweet and I enjoyed reading it in its entirety.

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 Stark Memory: Stupid Awesome Love Book 3, Ceri Grenelle


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 Stupid, Awesome Love Series, Ceri Grenelle


Author Bio
 Ceri Grenelle

Ceri is the author of quirky and sexy contemporary romance novels. She has a major weakness for sappy cuddle moments as much as hot and steamy sex scenes, and a penchant for writing snappy and sarcastic dialogue. She loves romance that isn't afraid to be awkward and uncouth, and thrives on flawed characters with big hearts.

A New York native, Ceri now lives in California with her two cats, Mercy and Eugene Fitzherbert, who should be very thankful she didn't name him frying pan. She is a proud functioning introvert and lover of all things geeky. You can find her haunting the Twitter machine or posting pictures of her ridiculous cats on Instagram.

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An M/M Christmas, episode 7

Christmas Homecoming (The Christmas Angel Book 4) by [Witt, L.A.] Under the Felt Mistletoe by [Iris, Nell] An Alpha for Christmas by [Parkerson, Charity]



Christmas Homecoming (The Christmas Angel Book 4) by [Witt, L.A.]Best friends share one stolen kiss only to be separated until Christmas.  And then a war separates them for much longer.  They each come back changed men with more fears and hesitations than before, but also more longing.  Maybe with the help of a Christmas angel found half a world away they can find the courage to share what's in their hearts and get a second chance at a forever happiness.

Roger and Jack are both so hesitant but their slow-burn is believable.  I liked how they came together and the end was wonderful with the epilogue.  It really brought them all the way around from their cautious, youthful beginning.  There was a great inclusion of reality and sensitivities of the time, how they worked around it while not letting that angst come between them in the end, and that keeping their love was far more important than keeping up the pretense of societal expectations.  Neither man, however, had a voice that was distinct from one another and I didn't connect to them individually.  On the whole, though, this was a sweet story despite finding it to be less captivating than I was hoping for.  3 stars.
 Christmas Homecoming: The Christmas Angel Book 4, L.A. Witt

Under the Felt Mistletoe by [Iris, Nell]With hearts a mile wide and fathoms deep, Finn and his grandpa invite a stranger into their home.  It was a kind gesture in the face of horrible weather in a season that would mean nothing without the warmth of kindness.  What they don't expect is to find another addition to their family in Nelson.                                                                                                                                        Finn was absolutely adorable with his excitement, passion for crafts, and his immense love for his grandparents.  Nelson was much more reserved but no less adorable for all his simple yearning.  Together they were so dang cute and bubbly!  I really loved this story.  It was so very short but we really got to know Finn's irrepressibility and Nelson's quiet steadfastness.  Their family situations were both complicated but explained simply so we weren't lost in drama or feeling like something was left open and unsatisfied by the end.  And Finn's grandpa was the best in every way.  No steam at all, just a ton of sweetness.  All the warmth and love of the season, of families, of couples was here in this very short story.  4.5 stars.
 Under the Felt Mistletoe, Nell Iris

An Alpha for Christmas by [Parkerson, Charity]A car that won't start and an unexpected offer of a ride from the hot Santa makes Austin think that maybe his streak of bad luck will give him a break for a couple hours.  Will's not above creating favorable circumstances and getting what he wants, especially when what he wants comes in the tall, obliviously gorgeous package that is Austin.  An amazing weekend opens up the possibility of something that could mean forever, but only if Will can save Austin from the consequences of their indulgence.                                                                                                                  First of all, I don't remember ever seeing a cover that both looked good and fit both characters.  This cover is practically perfect and I'm totally loving it.  As for the men themselves, their chemistry is off the charts hot and the tenderness they share completely balances it.  I'm not one for secrets or omitting important details to create the conflict, but I think the challenges are overcome quickly enough to be okay in the end.  The reunion is slightly confusing because the surprise reveal reveals something we weren't aware was hidden, meaning we didn't know this part of Will even existed.  It caused more confusion than clarity for Will's penchant for omitting details of himself.  Then, introducing characters important to Will's past is also unnecessary in that while the circumstances of the past were important to show how much he has changed, the people are inconsequential because they're just causing complications to a moment that should be more focused than it is.  Despite the confusing things that were thrown in as a mistaken attempt to add depth and interest, the story was totally sweet and I really liked it.  4 stars.
 An Alpha for Christmas, Charity Parkerson

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Old Acquaintance, Annabelle Jacobs

Old Acquaintance by [Jacobs, Annabelle]

When a hottie moves in next door, Sam gets curious.  But curiosity may well have killed the cat here, because not only does Sam dislike cats, of which his hot new neighbor seems to have, but that same hottie is also the cocky kid from high school that brutally put his then-best friend in the hospital.  After a few awkward coincidental meet-ups it's looking as if Charles isn't the same as he was in high school and might be more than platonically interested in Sam.  If Sam can't let go of his grudge he might ruin the best thing to come into his life and miss out on the partner of his dreams.

The premise was a cute idea of second-chances and happy futures and both men had a lot of potential.  Sam was cute but more frustrating than anything because of a grudge he held onto simply because he was stubbornly unwilling to address the situation, look at things objectively, and because he just felt quite immature.  There were interesting things about him but, for the life of me, I can't actually remember them...and that's a sign right there, isn't it?  Charles was much more interesting from the start and I couldn't wait for Sam's parts to be over to get back to Charles' POV.

As for their conflict, the issue was built up quite a bit but the moment of reckoning came and went very quickly.  I have mixed feelings about that.  It was too "flash in the pan" and yet I truly appreciated the mature way they looked back on the moment to realize that there are far more important things at stake.  There was a lot of mundane detail that dragged the story out and slowed the flow.  It took way too long for Sam and Charlie to getting together and then their reconciliation and epilogue were quite anticlimactic.  Some of the side characters pulled focus as well and that's not really what you want in a short story like this one.   The moments of sweetness, Storm, and Charlie were the parts to recommend, however, and it wasn't a bad read at all, it just stayed a nice, pleasant story rather than charming or captivating or full of holiday warmth.

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 Old Acquaintance, Annabelle Jacobs