Men of Hidden Creek Season 2

 Ashes, Men of Hidden Creek Season 2 Book 1, HJ Welch 
  Allied (Men of Hidden Creek Book 5) by [Hawthorn, Max]


 Ashes: Men of Hidden Creek Season 2 Book 1, HJ WelchFriends-to-lovers can sometimes be a tricky trope because there's a certain amount of history that sometimes needs to be altered in their minds to make their transition work.  In the case of Remi and Kris there isn't much of a friend history, it's more a new friendship with attraction as a new yet secret element under it.  I think this made their evolution easier to accept with the given timeline.  I absolutely love Remi.  He's a huge hottie with an even huger heart.  He has humility, passion, an adorable way of showing his feelings, and his groveling was absolutely perfect.  Kris was young but no less great.  His vulnerability and insecurity was center stage quite often but under the care of Remi's heart he gets a chance to bloom and truly thrive.  The drama was cohesive and quickly resolved.  While it was a bit predictable, it wasn't eye-rollingly so.  It was simple and effective to bring about the relationship conflict and Kris' chance to shine.  Such an absolutely sweet story!  4 stars.
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 Ashes: Men of Hidden Creek Season 2 Book 1, HJ Welch

When a case of mistaken identity and sisterly urging bring these two men together we get the makings of either a meet-cute or a meet-disaster.  Theirs was a bit of both.  I was honestly surprised when Grayson returned to see Andre.  The direction was not where I assumed it would go at all.  I did have a hard time with how much of a Debbie-Downer Grayson was most of the time.  Andre did a bit of that too, but it made it difficult to make the transition of fake to real for me.  The timeline wasn't an issue for me, it's just that I felt like there was something missing from Grayson's personal evolution to truly sell them together.  We see it in the epilogue, which is nice, but I really wish we got it throughout the story.  The resolution was sweet, hot, and very cute.  3 stars.
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An almost-hookup opens Kyle's eyes to more than just a new start in a new town, it opens them up to a future he never saw coming.  It doesn't help that the sexy, understanding man who could play a starring role in that future is the arrogant doctor all his coworkers are warning him about.  I like that Wes is different around Kyle, that Kyle's competence and general demeanor are what draws Wes to him just as much as his looks and their combustible chemistry.  There's something absolutely real between them that I enjoyed watching grow.  What I did have a hard time with was Wes' arrogance.  It came off as him being an a-hole rather than just a cocky kind of arrogance.  Even after we get the reason for his impenetrable walls and attitude he keeps doing things that make me want to roll my eyes so hard they get stuck.  Without Kyle's persistence and determination Wes' cowardice and vulnerability would have won.  Together they change things for the better for Hidden Creek as well as themselves.  The steam was hot, hot, hot and their hearts, once opened and shared, were achingly tender.  There was so much to enjoy in this story.  3.5 stars.
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Second chances are generally hard-won.  In the case of Jonah and Mitch it comes fairly easily.  There are some definite bumps in the road, but their journey to where they always dreamed and yearned for it to end was mostly sweet and uncomplicated.  With the help of the best grandpa in the universe Jonah is able to see that there's more for him in Mitch's gaze than just friendship.  Mitch knows he's always wanted Jonah and even though he knows his father would never approve, there's nothing that will stand in his way to have a taste of what he's been missing for the last ten years.  I do think that the story felt a little too "high school" or even "new adult" despite their ages and life experiences.  I would never believe I'd ever say this, but I think there was a bit too little angst in this story.  The familial conflict was built up so much that the conclusion of it was a let-down.  While I feel that the resolution was a little too perfect, I can't deny that these two men were meant to be together.  Their chemistry and their eagerness for one another is palpable and the love they shared was filled with so much warmth.  3 stars.
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Allied (Men of Hidden Creek Book 5) by [Hawthorn, Max]Between a shy CIA analyst and a John Doe that was shot and run off the road they should have an easy time figuring out who tried to kill him, right?  Between cautious attraction, unmistakable chemistry, and dangerous memories Ethan and Peter ride a roller coaster on their way to their own happily ever after.  Both men were captivating in different ways and together they were perfect.  I love that Ethan never made exceptions for Peter's looks in his mind or his words.  He was attracted to what he looked like before he knew Peter.  Now, that sounds pretty shallow, but when we read the lust at first sight in most books it's because someone is legitimately "media" hot rather than something like we have here or in Cardeno C's book, Not A Game.

I do wish I learned why Peter was so reluctant to hear compliments and praise.  Like, why was Angel a jerk in Peter's mind when he called him pretty?  Should I just assume his geekiness and lack of gym-trim physique contributed to a lifetime of bullying or belittling because kids can be utter a-holes sometimes?  Other than that, I loved Peter in Shield and was so very happy to get his story here.  Peter is so adorably geeky during his glorious moment on the crates.  If I didn't love him before, I definitely did after that.  Oh, also, I seriously want some Cheesecake Factory cheesecake right now...thanks, Peter.  4 stars.
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Made in Portugal: Made In Book 1, Ana Newfolk

Made In Portugal (Made In Series Book 1) by [Newfolk, Ana]

Ten years and thousands of miles separates David and Joel.  But one road trip and a heartfelt confession bring them together in a way neither believed they could hope for.  As they navigate past hurts, secrets, and a travel journal, they'll find more than just answers; they'll find a relationship that spans years and continents but was made and meant to be in Portugal.

The overall story was sweet and touching.  Having their mothers be the very best of friends brought a closeness and cohesiveness to the story that I think would be sorely missed were that not the case.  The dynamic between the two men was believable in the tension and passion.

Their relationship as lovers, though, made me want to celebrate and be disappointed in turns.  I had a hard time with the coming-out issue.  Not that he wanted to, but in Joel's flip-flopping.  It's understandable fear that David has regarding his reveal of his true self when you look at what his uncle did to Isaac.  After acknowledging that it's David's choice and accepting when or if he comes out, Joel's reaction after the club was more than a little disappointing.  Especially when he can see the predatory and familiar man there that gets up in Joel's face.  Reacting in hurt is one thing, but to run away right afterward and treat Joel as he did was cowardly and inconsistent.  David was really trying and a few days of cautious openness isn't going to give him the confidence and courage to possibly lose his family.  I just think Joel was more childish than necessary.

Throughout the story we're led along by a travel journal that David and Joel's mothers shared.  There are quite a few unanswered questions about family members and other people mentioned in the mysterious journal.  It was an element of reality that I'm not exactly looking for in a romance novel.  While it's true that we don't always get the answers to our questions, I'm wondering why Joel's history was even brought up at all.  It didn't add to the story or even enhance the plot.  Though it introduced the impetus behind the uncle's vitriol and despicable behavior, it didn't do anything else for the story.

Other than that, I found Joel and David to be an ideal pairing.  There was a support, a friend, a lover all wrapped up into the person that made you realize that true part of yourself.  Not just a question of sexual identity, but who they wanted to be, where they came from, and what they wished for the future.  There was a hopeful anticipation to what we read between these two men despite their many bumps in the road.

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 Made in Portugal: Made In Book 1, Ana Newfolk

Hybrid Reset: Darker Hollow Book 3, Shannon West and T.S. McKinney

Hybrid Reset (A Darker Hollow Book 3) by [West, Shannon, McKinney, TS]

A werewolf who has lost his mate, a vampire that's lost his coven.  These two men should mix like oil and water...and they do, but there's also something immensely intriguing about one another that neither man can deny for very long.  Everything is against their union but it's whether or not they're willing to fight for one another to be together that really matters.

It felt like I was missing something.  As soon as the book opened I was wondering if I should have read the first two books in the series.  The answer is yes, even though this can kind of be read as a standalone.  A bit of background was explained at times and I appreciated this because there were so many dynamics and connections that led this little misfit/hybrid pack to where they were that I would have been lost and even more confused without that.  That being said, there were a LOT of words.  The amount of background explanations along with the descriptions just didn't make the plot move forward.  They were kind of more FYI moments.

I wish the story had been more focused on Lucas and Conner because there was so little on the building of a relationship.  I mean, at what point did they actually want more than to give in to the intoxicating smells and chemistry they had?  The discovery of one another so as to give them more than an impossible second blood match seemed to be missing.  It read like Conner and Lucas just had to suffer through this torturous relationship because there was really no other option since fate stuck them together in more ways than one.  There was so little to these two men, for whom the story was written, that I just don't believe in them as a couple.

Their page time was further reduced by the situation between Mason, Finn, and Velerian.  These three men really needed their own third book to sort through all the stuff they've got going on.  Instead, they made room for themselves in Lucas and Conner's story and ended up not giving either relationship pairing justice.

So it sounds as if I'm not a fan of the book.  And that's not entirely true.  While I didn't jive with how the story was put together and the distractions based on confusion and other relationships' issues, I did really like the intricacies of their world.  There's so much here that makes me want to go back and read about how they got to this point in the first place.  And the drama with the hunters?  Their connection to Lucas was both a surprise and a little predictable.  I had a feeling there would be a connection like that, but to the degree it was and the result it brought about between Lucas and Conner, that was a welcome surprise.  Overall, the story had immense potential but needed a bit more of an objective eye when it came to beta reading, I feel.

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 Hybrid Reset: Darker Hollow Book 3, Shannon West and T.S. McKinney

The Boyfriend Game, Stella Starling

The Boyfriend Game by [Starling, Stella]

So freaking cute!  Incredibly funny, impossibly sexy, and just un-put-down-able.  I love me some no-angst stories.  When a game show, a hangover, and a years-long crush get put together it should spell disaster.  But in the case of Rip Taylor and Carter Olson, it spells magic, sexy times, and a happily-ever-after.  It's not all sunshine and roses, but the men work their way through shenanigans, jealousy, and miscommunication to steal the show and my heart.

Carter and Rip's chemistry was scorching and also well-balanced by the incredible tenderness between the men.  The miscommunication and lack of words in general always bothers me but I find myself forgiving it quite quickly here because of the way it was fixed...and the fact that it wasn't a recurring problem once it was fixed.

Some aspects of a game show set-up weren't totally realistic but I find myself just not caring.  The side characters that were involved with the show as well as their family and friends all came together to make a well-developed story, one that was not just fun to read, I could believe that these people were real and I needed to read their parts in the story.  The way most of them rallied around Carter and Rip to help them achieve their happy ending was so sweet.

Rip is fun-loving and enthusiastic about everything.  His easy acceptance of his new-found romantic and sexy feelings for Carter is awesome.  We do need to suspend a bit of believability when it comes to how easily he accepts those feelings, but it's relatively simple to do when we get so much of his thoughts concerning their past and his penchant for touching, being close to, and comforting the smaller man.  While Carter was a bit of a Nervous-Nelly at times, he was just adorkable and so very in love with Rip.  His confession for the cameras was truly touching and if nothing else had made me believe in his feelings being based on something deep and abiding, more than just a childhood crush on the hot older-brother's-friend, that did it for sure.

The whole story from start to finish had a great pacing.  There were tender parts, funny parts where I actually laughed outside my head, disappointing moments, and more than several times I caught myself smiling.  To say I loved this book would probably be an understatement.  It's almost as if there was no choice for me but to enjoy this story and these characters.  I have to love these men, it's impossible not to.

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 The Boyfriend Game, Stella Starling

To Love and Protect His Omega: Justice Brothers Omegaverse Book 1, Quinn Michaels

To Love and Protect His Omega (Justice Brothers Omegaverse Book 1) by [Michaels, Quinn]

Gunnar and Liam both have an opportunity for a second chance at love.  Neither think they're ready or willing for that kind of connection but things in life never go according to plan.  An early morning visit to the vet brings Gunnar and Liam together but it'll take determination, moving forward from the past, and a precocious eight-year old little girl to keep them together.  Oh, and catching a killer that may or may not be after Liam.

There's quite a bit of self-doubt and self-flagellation going on under Gunnar's strong, capable, alpha persona.  I can understand his thinking and feel for him.  I'm glad, though, that he allows himself to feel the connection to Liam and somewhat quickly gives in to the pull.  There's an intense draw to the man that I would have been disappointed if he followed the oft-used tactic of hiding behind a dead lover to keep from finding happiness after loss.  It's absolutely normal, healthy, good even to fully grieve before entering into a new relationship after losing a loved one.  I think, from what we learn of Gunnar, that what he really has to conquer to fully accept a new love is his own feeling of failure and not his loyalty or love for his deceased husband.  Ultimately it's his decision to accept what he could have with Liam that pushes them forward into the kind of relationship they can build a forever on.

With Liam it's a bit different.  He has personal trauma that's much more sinister that tries to follow him into his new life.  His days are filled with helping others, helping their animals, and fear.  He's doing his best to move forward but can't shake the terror that his past will find him.  When he meets Gunnar he's determined to squash his attraction but it's Gunnar's earnestness, his daughter, his innate ability to calm and soothe Liam's fear that convinces him to give in.

The chemistry between the men is pretty steamy.  I enjoyed their interplay and that their relationship felt equal.  There was the usual omega submission thing, but not to a level that seemed archaic, rather one that let their true selves come forward.  By allowing their vulnerabilities to show both in and outside of the bedroom they could fully support one another.  Liam stood next to Gunnar in every way, a united front full of give and take.  It was also clear in how Gunnar expressed his worry but wasn't overprotective and Liam didn't stubbornly push back against any posturing.  This came in handy when things went pear-shaped.

Liam's past does, indeed, catch up with them and it ramped up very quickly.  There was a lot of plodding in that regard and I wasn't sure if it would ever get to the point.  Instead, it was very few details and more set-up followed by a huge confrontation and a quick resolution.  While that was okay, I do wish there had been something more direct, active, or harder-hitting in terms of how the plot progressed.  I don't mean more dangerous things happening or anything like that, just for the plot progression to feel more dynamic rather than static.  It felt like the story gave a TON of detail but didn't really move forward very quickly, well, except for the timeline of the romance...that was pretty quick.  Overall, though, the story was a good one with passion, tenderness, and growth.

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 To Love and Protect His Omega: Justice Brothers Omegaverse Book 1, Quinn Michaels

Badlands, Morgan Brice

Badlands by [Brice, Morgan]

Pain from the past drives these two men in their everyday lives but with a serial killer on the loose, they'll need to work together to stop them. It's never as simple as becoming a team, though, because circumstances are against them at every turn. They'll need to get to the bottom of it all before their pride and a killer drive them apart with deadly intent.

Simon and Vic were both great characters.  Not only did they have different backstories, duh, but they had distinct personalities and two distinct voices.  Often you get stories where each character has their own unique history but their speech and affectations aren't dissimilar enough to get a clear sense that the two men are very different.  We end up relying on their backstory to paint two obviously different men but the whole narrative reads somewhat smoothly because it kind of feels like all the same voice.  Not so with these men.  They're written well and are discernible from one another in a way that enhances the story.

I liked that Simon wasn't willing to make excuses or apologies for his talents when faced with Vic's skepticism.  But really it wasn't Vic's skepticism that was a problem, it was his fear and regret.  All of this is resolved satisfactorily even though we see Vic's struggle between career, perception, and love.

The villain was slightly over-the-top but believable...mostly.  The magic part on behalf of the villain felt like a stretch.  How did they know to use it?  How did they get introduced to it?  Why turn to magic when explosives would have done the same thing?  There were also the questions of Vic's past that alluded to a connection deeper than the overarching idea/practice of magic.

I liked the two men, the way they came together wasn't all "hot sex can fix anything."  Instead, we got two men with two very different lives that they tried to blend together despite the difficulties.  There was more to their relationship than passion and I could absolutely respect that.  At times the details overwhelmed the flow of the story and made it feel like it was dragging.  And a couple of details should have been described right away but were left unexplained for another couple chapters that left me with a nagging/wondering feeling that distracted me from what was happening.  Other than that, the story was very good and I enjoyed it, my favorite aspect being the two men and their relationship.

Oh, and a side-note, doesn't the guy on the cover look like a tatted-up version of Shia LeBeouf?

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 Badlands, Morgan Brice

Amongst the Wildflowers, Amali Rose


September 6, 2018...
The third book from the Fleurs d'amour series

 Amongst the Wildflowers, Amali Rose

Layla Jensen dreams of true love.

A quiet soul, she walks through life with one simple goal. Stay invisible in a world where she's never felt enough.

After living in the shadow of her beautiful, vivacious sister and believing she never measured up, Layla has withdrawn into herself, watching life pass her by.

Enter Ethan Miller. Confidant, carefree and outgoing, he is the opposite of Layla in every way. He is also the one person who sees her. Who has always seen her.

With Ethan back in her life, Layla is reminded of the love she once craved and her heart slowly comes back to life. But as they fight to make their dream a reality, their happiness is placed in jeopardy from a threat they never saw coming.

Book 3 in a STANDALONE series.


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Amongst the Wildflowers, Amali Rose

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 Amongst the Wildflowers, Amali Rose

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 Under the Cherry Blossoms, Amali Rose

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 Dandelion Dreams, Amali Rose

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 Amongst the Wildflowers, Amali Rose

Author Bio


Amali Rose is an Australian author, and former blogger, who released her debut novella in 2017.

A self confessed bookworm, her love affair with the written word began as a child, with The Magic Faraway Tree. Her tastes have grown and evolved over the years, and after stumbling into the indie community a few years ago, she discovered her passion for romance with a side of smut.

When not reading or writing Amali enjoys baking, yoga, cheesy pop music & netflix marathons; and believes strongly that pink, puppies and chocolate make the world a better place!

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