Ian Banner is loving his hectic life. He’s newly married, ready to start a family, and opening a new restaurant. All his dreams are coming true.
The last thing he needs is a problem with his restaurant.
But when one attack after another comes, he grows convinced he has another enemy.
Ian tries to handle things by himself, but his friends are soon drawn in when the attacks become violent. That’s when Ian realizes the target isn’t Rialto. It’s him.
Rialto is the final installment in the Unbreakable Bonds series and features sexy times, Daciana snuggles, overprotective family, fire, and of course, code names.
REVIEW: This book was bittersweet. This is the last time will read about these wonderful men in their adventurous, chaotic, dangerous and lovely lives. But this finale is the series on the sweetest of high notes
The dynamic duo of Jocelyn Drake and Rinda Elliott brought Lucas, Snow, Rowe and Ian together for one last adventure before they settle down to live out the rest of their days as happily married fathers. That is unless Rowe and Noah a.k.a. the Master of Mayhem find some trouble for them all to get into.
Ian is the sole focus of the final installment in the series. As with the rest of the books in the series featuring him, this centers his past life. Ian’s character—to me—is the toughest. I say this because this man survived a horrific ordeal to become the man that he is today. But of course, even from the grave it seems that the man responsible for his horrific pass is still finding ways to intrude on the happiness and success that he has made for himself.
Ian’s story has always rip my heart apart. I love the story because in this book, Ian is able to confront, not one from, his past. Not only that, but he’s proved to Lucas, Snow and Rowe that he’s much tougher than they—and even he— realized.
He truly came to his own in this book and it may the rest of his family finally sit up and take notice that he’s not someone who needs to be wrapped in cotton, insulated from the evils of the world. He prove to them that he was able to handle himself and to protect them if needed and times of extreme danger and it was a glorious thing to finally witness.
The love these men have for each other practically leap off the pages of this book. It is beautifully written; the characters a vivid, bursting with energy that makes each word of each sentence of each paragraph a treat. The action, adventure and romance of these stories are extremely well written; they immediately grab your attention and hold it from the first page read to the very last.
You’ll experience a roller coaster of emotions with this book. You’ll go from having a lump in your throat from heartbreak to having you laughing out loud at their antics to feeling joy at their triumphs.
This book will linger indelibly on the brain long after you finished reading it.
BLURB: At only thirty-two, Bishop Stockley has lived a hard-knock life. His gang was his family, the streets his home. Until the crew he’d always called his brothers betrayed him. After doing five years in a federal prison, Bishop is back at his dad’s trailer and working for his landscaping company, thrust into a legit world where he’s no longer the alpha—a world where a criminal record is the least of his disadvantages, because Bishop can’t read or write. Illiteracy had never been an obstacle for him on the streets, he didn’t need to know how to read Moby Dick to survive, he needed to know how to read people… and that was a hustle he’d learned hard and fast. Now, he had to change his life.
Bishop’s only support system was a young, inexperienced dad who’d insisted he call him Mike all their life—since they looked more like brothers than father and son. And his hot-tempered, childhood, best friend from ’juvie, Trent. Bishop already had the deck stacked against him, but he wasn’t afraid of hard work to change his situation, and he did want to change. Especially after he encountered Edison Scala, a kind-spirited office manager who didn’t hesitate to come to his defense… a man that saw past Bishop’s grass-stained coveralls. A man who wasn’t intimidated by his stern features and his silence.
Edison hadn’t grown up the way most of his peers had. He’d been raised by a single father who’d owned an old-fashioned barber shop where Edison was taught how to not only shave with a straight razor, and shine shoes, but also how to treat others, to not judge, to be a gentleman, to be respectful and speak without profanity. But, the biggest lesson he’d learned, was to always be himself. His lack of friends and a social life wasn’t his fault. No matter how much weight he gained, no matter how many times his staff called him a square, Edison did not need to change.
Bishop knew Edison was off-limits. He’d made personal vows to himself when he was released from prison, ones that he never intended to break. But, when Edison asked him about providing landscaping services at his home, there was no way he could refuse. He hadn’t expected Edison to feed him, praise him, encourage him, and look at him the way he did—as if Bishop was somebody. Mike and Trent warned him not to mix business with pleasure and he didn’t intend to.
No multiple pairings. No cliffhangers. Ends with a very, very HFN. Warning:
This book is a M/M contemporary romance, a hardened man’s struggle to find real love. There are no police chases or doors being kicked in, in this one. But, don’t worry. Bishop is still intense enough to keep you on the edge.
REVIEW: Okay, y’all. Can I tell you how much I loved this book, these characters? Miss Via has done what she always does and spin a story that will make you care for her characters as you’re reading them. Bishop and Edison are two strong men from different backgrounds, yet they seem to find common ground even though they have nothing in common.
Even though Bishop was the main character, it was Edison who spoke to me the most. But I’ll speak on that in a bit.
I particularly loved how the author approached the topic of Bishop’s illiteracy. It was handled with kindness and understanding. The author wrote it in a way that didn’t belittle him. Bishop is a flawed hero. A man who like many of us, have made mistakes, faced the consequences of said mistakes and is looking for a little redemption and forgiveness for it. He wants to live his life—not necessarily a BEST life— but just go along the familiar lines and on the right path of it. He wants to do better and fought hard to BE better. He’s not asking for or expecting the moon and stars, he’s just asking for normalcy and stability with a man who sees him as something other than what he was.
Now, to Edison. His character resonated more with me because his kindness, generosity, sweet nature and integrity reminded me of someone I knew a long time ago. Edison is like many of us, one who struggles with poor self image, body issue and low self esteem but to me, his character was beautiful, more beautiful because he had a beautiful spirit and a big heart. I absolutely loved how the author had a character who didn’t have the perfect body and was still find the type of passionate love still. This story had a great deal of body positivity and I loved it and we need to see more of it in the romance genre.
At first glance, one would think he’s someone whose weak. But I didn’t find that to be the case at all. Edison is gentle and kind. Respectful. Mature. This comes from him being raised around older gentlemen. This made him a target for bullying by some of his colleagues but his insistence on being who he is is what makes him strong. I adored his character and I adored him and Bishop together. Bishop’s gentle toughness combined with Edison’s sweet old world charm is what makes them perfect for each other. Edison’s character was actually like being reunited with my friend. It was amazing.
This author is a master of her craft. Her writing style is absolutely superb. Miss Via’s work is always top notch, regardless of whatever genre she chooses to write. Her characters are ALWAYS vivid, complex and multifaceted. Her dialogues are ALWAYS beautifully written and her storylines are simply perfect. This book flows smoothly. She doesn’t simply tell a story, she’s giving you a front row seat of their thoughts and heart.
This book doesn’t have a traditional HEA and that’s okay because life doesn’t always work that way. You just know that these men’s life Journey is just getting started so the HFN ending fits perfectly. This story is memorable and the characters and their experiences will linger long after you’ve finished reading this book.
This author and this book is a serious must read. Take a bow, Miss Via. You’ve done an amazing job yet again.
When private investigator, Shane Stephens, is hired by the mayor of Cincinnati to track down the hacker who has been threatening him, Shane is sure this is the opportunity to launch the Merleau Detection Agency into the big time. He even convinces Rowe Ward of Ward Security to loan him one of his best IT specialists, Quinn Lake.
Shane, a man who prefers casual intimacy, is surprised by his attraction to the moody computer geek, but when Quinn suggests they have fun for the month he’s on loan, Shane happily agrees. Both men are expecting nothing more than a good time.
But the investigation takes an unexpected turn and they quickly discover they are facing more than a hacker out to ruin the mayor’s re-election chances. And as they spend more time together, they realize their relationship may be a lot more than just a good time.
With only weeks until the election, Shane and Quinn race to gather the proof they need while dodging bullets and possibly…falling in love.
After one quick knock on Rowe’s door, he stepped inside without waiting for him to call since he was already expected. But he stopped short when he saw the tall man standing next to Rowe’s desk, his hands on his slender hips as he grinned down at Rowe. Quinn couldn’t stop his eyes from quickly sweeping over his broad shoulders and chest that tapered into a narrow waist. His eyes snapped back up to find a pair of brown eyes that twinkled as they finished checking him out as well.
“Sorry,” Quinn mumbled, instantly taking a step backward. “I can come back.” Rowe rarely saw clients. He had customer representatives that handled talking to the clients. Of course, with Rowe’s lack of a filter, it was better if he didn’t talk to the new clients directly.
“No, come in, Quinn,” Rowe said sharply. He stood behind his desk, drawing Quinn’s gaze to his shorter but broader frame. His dark red hair stood up slightly as if he’d been running his fingers through it. Quinn never took that as a particularly good sign.
With a quick jerk of his head, Quinn stepped in and shut the door behind him. The other man was smiling at him, that assessing look still in his eyes, and Quinn didn’t want to think about the fact that he was dying to take another longer look at him, but not with the freaking boss in the room.
“Quinn Lake, this is Shane Stephens. He’s a private investigator with The Merleau Detection Agency,” Rowe introduced.
Shane extended his hand to Quinn and Quinn clenched his teeth, trying to hide his discomfort at taking Shane’s hand. His own palms were sweaty, making the momentary contact awkward. Why the fuck was he always so damn awkward around hot guys?
“Rowe tells me you’re the best,” Shane said, releasing his hand.
Quinn couldn’t help the skeptical look he shot at Rowe, who only shrugged as he sat down again. “Well, I said you <em>and</em> Gidget are the best.”
“Is this about a job?”
“Sit, Quinn.” Rowe absently waved toward the two chairs in front of his desk. He shuffled some papers around without seeming to actually look at them, placing them in piles at the edge of his desk.
Shooting one last uncertain look at Shane, Quinn moved to the farthest chair and sat, his tablet clenched in both hands. His mind raced as he tried to figure out why he’d been called into this meeting. Clients didn’t meet with Rowe, and Quinn didn’t meet with clients unless they’d already been assigned a bodyguard. And while they’d worked with some private investigators in the past, Rowe wasn’t usually involved. He had a company to run.
“Shane recently acquired a client who is the victim of a hacker,” Rowe started.
Quinn looked up at Shane, who was still standing beside Rowe’s desk, his mind finally turning away from too many questions to a problem he could understand. “Identity theft? Bank accounts drained?”
“No, not yet.” Shane shook his head, some of his dark curly hair falling forward against his temple. “At least, not that we’ve uncovered.”
“Then how do you know this client was hacked?”
“There are other signs…but I can’t go into it.”
Quinn frowned for a second. That certainly wasn’t going to make his job easier. “Well, do you just need improved protection? Alerts on accounts? We’ve got a comprehensive list of things we can do to help shore up the client’s account protection and privacy.”
“Shane isn’t looking for protection from the hacker for the client.” Rowe paused until Quinn looked back at him. “His client has hired him to track down the identity of the hacker.”
“Whoa…” Quinn said on an exhale, sitting back in his chair. That…that was not an easy task. Most hackers were pretty damn good at not being found. You had to be if you wanted to survive as one. If you sucked, you were usually snagged by the FBI pretty damn fast. Quinn would know. He’d started hacking at a young age—not stealing other people’s money but just breaking through security systems because he could. It took the feds a solid five years to catch him. But his boss knew all this. Rowe knew everything about the people working for him.
“We’re not equipped to handle this level of…” Shane frowned at Rowe’s computer as if he blamed it for his problems. “Well, we’re not staffed yet to handle computer things like this. I can do some of the forensic research in accounting matters, but I need a computer genius like you.”
“That’s why I agreed to loan you to Shane and his business partner, Ethan, for one month,” Rowe announced.
Quinn was out of his seat in a shot, hovering over the edge of the desk as he looked down at his boss. Pain shot through his chest, and he was suddenly having trouble catching his breath. Panic clouded all of his thoughts. He loved working for Ward Security. He’d been there for just less than two years, and he’d never found another place where he’d felt like he fit so damn perfectly. This was home. These people he worked with, they were his friends. He didn’t have to hide or pretend or feel uncomfortable.
And Rowe…Rowe had always been amazing. Sure, he could be cranky and a little crazy. He was always loud and tended to speak before thinking. But Quinn always knew exactly where he stood with Rowe. He always felt like Rowe had his back.
“Are you getting rid of me?”
“What?” Rowe snapped. “Where the fuck did you get that idea?”
“You’re hiring another IT person. I saw the listing. And this? Putting me ‘on loan’?”
Rowe groaned and scrubbed a hand over his face. With a heavy sigh, he pointed back at the chair Quinn had just vacated. “Sit.” Grudgingly, Quinn followed direction while Rowe looked over at Shane. “Can you give us a minute?”
Jocelynn Drake and Rinda Elliott have teamed up to combine their evil genius to create intense gay romantic suspense stories that have car chases, shoot outs, explosions, scorching hot love scenes, and tender, tear-jerking moments. Their first joint books are in the Unbreakable Bonds series.
BLURB: When Jude is offered a lift to anywhere on the back of a handsome stranger’s Harley, he throws caution to the wind and jumps on for the ride.
Jude has a boring office job in a sunny but deadly dull Californian town. The highlight of his day is sitting home alone with pizza and beer. So naturally, when Neo wants to take off into the sunset, with Jude in tow, he doesn’t argue.
Neo makes up his own rules. Deciding quickly that Jude is the mate for him, he breaks into a beautiful beachside home pretending it’s his in order to impress the sexy man he’s picked up. He’s hoping things are going to get hot and sweaty between them real quick.
But the cops are onto them, and as Neo makes a run for it, Jude is hauled off to the police station. It’s not looking good, what started out so promising has now left a bitter taste in Jude’s mouth.
Will Neo come back for him? And if so can he explain why whenever the huge black dog is around, he’s not? And can he really throw his life into the air and see where it lands? These are all questions that Jude’s mind, body and heart need to know the answer to.
REVIEW: This is the first book in the Redwood Shifter series. This book was off to a bit of a slow start for me but as the book progressed, it raised my interest level. The book turned out to be really interesting once I got past the first couple pages of the first chapter. I really liked how Neo’s character wasn’t perfect. He wasn’t an angel but he wasn’t a horrible person either. He was a bit of a bad boy and that’s exactly what Jude needed at the time. He could’ve done without the run in with law enforcement but it worked out in the end.
I really liked this book. I found the characters engaging despite the slow start. The editing and storyline were really very good and the length was perfect. This is definitely a series worth getting in to.
Hatchet has a thing for the enigmatic Mr Smith, Horatio Trap’s spokesman. He’d love to get his hands on the pretty man and show him how good it feels to take orders for once rather than hand them out. He’s had his eye on Smith for years and he’s running out of patience.
The Wyverns’ involvement in the drug trade is limited to stealing money from the cartels, they don’t want junk peddled on their turf. When Trap orders them to destroy a crack cocaine factory in Phoenix, they are happy to oblige. But Smith throws a spanner in the works by posing as a potential buyer, putting himself in mortal danger.
Hatchet and The Wyverns come up with a plan to fake Smith’s death, muscle in on the deal and convince the cartel to do business with them instead. But when Hatchet’s cover is blown he’s left to save a bunch of illegals, destroy the drugs and wipe the factory from the face of the planet. It’s all in a night’s work for The Wyverns—but there are still secrets to uncover and the mysterious Horatio Trap, and his mind games, can’t stay hidden forever.
REVIEW: Oh, my! I’ve been waiting for this installment of this series feels like forever. I know that’s not the case; I was just anxious. Well, the author certainly didn’t disappoint me. This in addition to Adrian and Teddy’s story, are my favorites in the series.
Hatchet and Mr. Smith are as different as night and day but you know they say that opposites attract. Mr. Smith aka Montgomery Smith, is indeed enigmatic but underneath that cool, collected and cultured façade is a man that is attracted to Hatchet’s rough exterior. Monty (yes, I gave Smith’s character my own nickname) is kind of tired of being lonely and acting as the go-between the Wyverns and the mysterious Mr. Trap.
Hatchet and Monty seems like an unlikely couple at first but it works. The action, the dialogue, characters and storyline of this book, of all of the books in this series is absolutely fantastic. The books are short (under 100 pages) but it reads like a full length novel. There are no plot holes or cliff hangers in any of these stories which I really love.
There are a couple of plot twists in this book. Secrets you will not see coming as it pertains to the mysterious Mr. Trap and Monty are finally revealed.
I truly enjoyed this book and really looking forward to reading more. I’m waiting for Artie and Bull to have their HEA.
Please note: The general release date is October 17, 2017. However, you can pre-order from Pride Publishing or Amazon.
BLURB: Sometimes the only way to spring a trap is to use live bait.
Teddy Austin has had more than his share of run-ins with local law enforcement. The Wyverns have a reputation to maintain, and Teddy feels it’s his duty to cause havoc whenever possible. Of course, getting arrested means time in the company of Sheriff Adrian Hayder—always a bonus—though Teddy would far prefer to have the sheriff wearing the cuffs.
When The Knights of War MC arrives in Phoenix, Trap orders The Wyverns to get inside information. In order to infiltrate the gang, Teddy must appear to betray his friends and switch his allegiance. Working undercover, however, he confirms what they have all suspected—The Knights of War are a cover for something much more sinister than a hell-raising bunch of bikers, and they fully intend to turn Phoenix into a battleground.
With Sheriff Hayder getting far too close to the truth, Teddy is left with a few problems—how to stop a war, keep his balls intact and ensure the man he loves keeps breathing.
REVIEW: This is my favorite so far in the series, but it had a few issues. The first issue was the use of some British terms that seemed out of place for Arizona biker gangs to use. Also, with the introduction of Kit in the story and both Teddy and Adrian’s attraction to him, I fully expected it to be a ménage story but nothing ever came of that. It was like a delicious dessert being dangled in front of you as a reward for eating all of your peas only to be denied at the end of the meal. The meal in his case, was delicious but I really would have loved the enticing dessert of the three of them forming a relationship.
I loved Teddy and Adrian together. Their chemistry between the two men is sizzling. The way Teddy intentionally did and said sexy, flirtatious things to get under the gorgeous sheriff’s skin was adorable. It wasn’t just sexual attraction that Teddy felt for Adrian; his feeling went a lot deeper than sexual.
It’s odd, but I felt that unlike the others, this story ended abruptly and unfinished. The characters were engaging but I felt that something should have been done with the attraction between these three men. It felt a little unfinished.
Despite this, I still liked the story and consider these two men my favorite characters and this my favorite book in the series.
BLURB: A man without scars never had to fight for something he believed in.
A new relationship takes time and effort. A new relationship with Orlando de la Pena takes a whole lot more. As a Dom, Rogue knows what he wants, but Orlando refuses to fit neatly into the box labeled ‘submissive’. He’s feisty, demanding and far too pretty for his own good.
Orlando loves Rogue and he’s learning to love The Wyverns, but he hates being stuck out in the desert. Finding a niche in the world of bikes and fierce warriors is difficult, and Orlando’s impatience gets the better of him. He walks out into the desert and runs in to an antisocial diamondback.
Rogue has more than one problem to deal with. The Longhorns MC issues a challenge for territory. The Bellazi cartel is out for Wyvern blood. The Wyverns are under siege, and Rogue has to work out how to save not just Orlando, but all of them.
Reader Advisory: This books contains scenes of mild BDSM.
REVIEW: Death Trap is the second book in this series which is a continuation of Rogue and Orlando’s story. Orlando and Rogue’s D/s relationship has grown deeper. They both realized that their feelings went beyond sex. Life at the Wyvern compound is nice but not as exciting as Orlando is used to. He hates being confined and decides to take off on an adventure that didn’t go as well as he had planned. Rogue is dealing with territorial dispute with a rival gang when he realizes that Orlando is missing.
I really enjoyed this book and so far, this series. The stories are short (less than 100 pages) but the characters and storylines are developed and don’t at all feel rushed or incomplete. I am loving this rough and tumble group of men.
Crow has had his eye on baby-faced Shelton since the young man became part of the Wyverns, but Crow is a committed Dom and unsure that Shelton is ready, or willing, to become his submissive. Getting trapped together during a dust storm provides an opportunity to find out.
When the dust settles, the winds have scoured the desert and uncovered a shallow grave full of bodies. Smuggling people across the border is big business and Crow knows that the traffickers will not want their gruesome secret revealed to the authorities.
When Shelton is taken and used as collateral, Crow and the Wyverns have to decide just how far they are prepared to go to serve justice and save Shelton’s life.
REVIEW: This is the fourth novella in the Wyverns series. In this one, we finally get to Crow and Shelton’s romantic development. Now in the interest of full disclosure, I will admit that this review is form this novella which is the 4th in the series. Even though I was a bit confused as there were back stories and peripheral
characters that I was unfamiliar with, I truly enjoyed this story. The author did a wonderful job with these characters and the storyline. I loved Shelton. At first glance, it appears that he doesn’t really belong among these rough and tumble outlaw bikers but it’s clear that he is actually and integral part of their team. I think that he and Crow are the perfect fit: the rough biker and this smart, geeky and nurturing intel gatherer.
Crow’s had his eye on Shelton for quite some time but wasn’t sure if Shelton could handle being in a D/s relationship. Little did Crow know that Shelton was ready for whatever Crow was willing to dish out.
The love, respect and strong bond that these men have for each other is displayed when Shelton is danger. These men pull together in an extraordinary way and go all out to save one of their own.
This novella was most definitely an exciting little read. My confusion over the peripheral characters and backstories was minor as this was novella. With that said, these definitely aren’t standalone reads and must be read in sequential order to have to full understanding of the characters and their backstories.
Noah Trevelyan has lost his moorings. Disowned over his sexuality as a teenager, he hasn’t been back to his home on the Outer Banks since his fisherman father kicked him out. But when he returns for the Old Man’s funeral, he discovers his father left him the house and boat in his will. Noah must choose whether to stay or go, but he won’t be alone.
There’s Ian, working to overcome the emotional scars left by a domineering ex-boyfriend, and Ty, a cheerful housekeeper who’s struggling to take care of his Alzheimer’s-stricken aunt. There’s Joshua too, running from the destruction of his old life, and Gabriel, who was once beaten and left for dead, and doesn’t know how to survive on his own.
Will they find in each other the strength and courage to keep living—and learn, together, how to love again? A polyamorous relationship is the last thing any of them expected to find in the Outer Banks, but it might be what they need most, and it might even be their redemption—if they can keep their group from breaking apart under the pressure.
Hello, Kimi-chan Experience! Thanks for hosting this guest post for my new novel, Five-Sided Heart.
I love polyamory. Always have, always will. The idea of an entire group of people held together by bonds of affection, passion and friendship captured my heart from the moment I first heard of it, first realized it was an actual thing that actual people sometimes actually did. All that potential, and all that love. I had to write about it.
When it came time to blog about it, I knew I wanted to introduce my characters.
Gabriel, lord. Gabriel was my problem child. There’s always one, and he jumped right in there with both feet. I think because he was the kind of person I’ve been before—the kind of person I can still be sometimes. He’s been hurt, and badly. He’s frustrated by his inability to be perfect, and he let that get so far under his skin that he ended up with scars on the inside and the outside.
Not an easy man to love—mostly because he wouldn’t let anyone even try. Whenever inspiration failed him and his art suffered, he blamed himself. His taste for rough sex started out as the only medicine he could bear to swallow, especially because it wasn’t what he needed. He wanted to be punished for being himself, but ended up being abducted and left for dead. He accepted the blame when he was told it was his fault, and internalized the shame. Even now, he thinks he’s broken because he still likes rough sex, likes being told what to do, and doesn’t know how to ask for it in a safe way.
He’s come to the Outer Banks with the intention of ending it all.
Not easy to write.
But the thing is, Gabriel can’t find the ending he thought he wanted. Instead, he finds himself caught up in something that’s beginning. Something that his passionate soul has been dying of thirst for, though he never knew it. Men who understand him, who can give him what he really needs, and help him learn how to live again rather than drift away into darkness. Whether he likes it or not—and whether he can learn how to love freely, with an open heart.
He wants to trust them. He wants to learn how to forgive himself. He wants to love.
Learning how is the difference, for Gabriel, between life and death.
A few minutes of rummaging through a closet netted Joshua two pockets full of necessary toiletries and a handful of clean-smelling sweats. Small sizes. They’d likely shrunk in the wash and been thriftily saved. He found towels, scented with a different brand of laundry soap, in the hall closet.
He followed his ears and the sound of clanking pipes to another door, where he heard the distinct patter of shower spray on a tile floor and the sound of a body moving slowly through that water. Joshua rapped his knuckles against the door. “Gabriel?”
No answer. Frowning, Joshua tried again. Still no luck.
Could be he was still shocky. Joshua wasn’t sure. He kept flashing back to the way Gabriel had gone limp when towed, not even trying to fight, and it didn’t sit right no matter how Joshua tried to shift it around.
Ah hell. Joshua tried the knob. The pitted brass turned easily—not even locked—and a billow of steam rushed out. Good lord, was he trying to boil himself alive? Joshua swung the door open wider.
Still no response. He could see Gabriel, though, still on his feet, his head bowed directly beneath the spray. The clear glass door of the walk-in shower hid nothing, and though he had indeed gone as red as a lobster from the heat, his scars still showed lurid purple. Gabriel rubbed at them with his bare hand, no soap, as if trying to scrape them away.
Joshua dropped his goods on the sink top and rapped his knuckles against the wall. “Gabriel? You okay?”
He got a reaction that time, all right—a startled gasp, a jerk upright that slung a comma of water from Gabriel’s sodden hair against the shower wall, and two quick steps backward that smacked his shoulders into the same wall. Jesus. He’d been through some shit, hadn’t he? Those scars were vicious. Defensive wounds on his arms and a crosshatched pattern sliced from temple to chin. His mouth ticked up slightly on that side, as did the corner of the eye.
Gabriel’s throat worked convulsively as he stared wide-eyed at Joshua. Slowly, ever so slowly, his scarred hand closed into a fist. “Do you like what you see?”
Well, shit. Joshua held his arm in front of his face. “Didn’t mean to stare. Sorry. Just brought you some dry stuff.”
“Why shouldn’t you stare? Go on. Do you like what you see?”
Gabriel’s wide eyes were wild, feverish, and wouldn’t let Joshua turn his gaze discreetly away. Bringing out the claws and yet pleading with Joshua at the same time, for—what?
All right, then. Joshua dropped his arm and looked frankly at Gabriel. Taking him in good and proper, from his long hair, saturated and gone dark as ink, to the fine lines of his bones and the slim strength in his shoulders, his arms, and his legs. The scars petered out over Gabriel’s ribs, then cropped up again briefly at his hips.
He had been beaten—and beaten badly. Whoever had done this had carved on his face and finished the job by kicking the shit out of him. No wonder Gabriel came across as skittish as a feral cat.
And yet… and yet. Beneath the marred skin, Gabriel’s bones were still as fine as carved ivory.
Gabriel swallowed again, painfully loudly. “Well?”
Joshua shrugged. “I’ve seen worse.” Hell, he’d seen worse done while guards had their backs turned and pretended innocence, though he wouldn’t tell Gabriel as much.
Gabriel scoffed at him.
“They’re just scars,” Joshua said, because they were. “You’re lucky.”
Fine lines appeared on Gabriel’s forehead as if he wasn’t sure he’d heard right. “What?”
“You lived. Whoever did that probably didn’t mean for you to. But you did. They’re just scars. The rest of you, that’s beautiful to see.” Joshua raised one shoulder, embarrassment making him gruff. “I’ll leave you in peace.”
He could feel Gabriel staring holes through his back until he closed the bathroom door behind him.
Max MacGowan is a work in progress. They’ve just turned forty, and are determined not to go gently into that good night. They identify as nonbinary genderqueer, and prefer they/them pronouns. While they can be quiet, friends will tell you all that still water can’t quite hide Max’s quirky personality, Or maybe it’s the ever-present puckish twinkle in the eyes that’s really to blame.
Max has a fantastic time writing male/male romance, and is especially fond of polyamory, found families, love in unexpected places, friends who become lovers, and romantic comedies. They’re owned by two rowdy tomcats who take pains to make sure their owner doesn’t ever get the status confused.
He’s acutely aware of the dark-haired young man checking him out in the supermarket, but he’s too deep in panic mode to even meet the guy’s gaze. Afraid the slightest move will trigger a fall that will never stop.
Fresh off a long-term relationship with a controlling man, Malachi is stuck living with relatives who think he’s a waste of oxygen. The tall guy in the long, gray coat is the first bright spot he’s glimpsed in a long time…though the man’s unblinking stare at a bottle of shower gel is a touch alarming.
Hard experience tells both of them to turn away before lust turns to hopeless attraction, and inevitably to disaster. But once their sparks connect, the arc of electricity is too strong to deny. Even if the cost is too much to bear.
Contains an ex-con with disaster written all over him, a boy toy who’s trouble with a capital T, a damp old British house, compulsive meddling, and enough hot sex to cure the severe case of nervous babbling.
Harper and Malachi. Whew. What a hard, hard story they share. Harper is fresh from prison where he was wrongfully accused of raping students. Malachi is coming off an intense relationship with a controlling boyfriend. Both are wary but so very needy.
There is about a 10 year age difference but Malachi is definitely mature for his age, he’s lived a hard life.
Their relationship is full of hurdles, Elsborg gives us lots of angst and difficulties to struggle against. My heart hurt throughout most of this book – there is a lot of injustice and I was aching for someone to set things right.
The sexual tension and its relief are done really well and the smexy times are very hot between these two.
This is a longish book and for some, there might just be a tad too many of these angsty hurdles to wade through, but the end is pretty satisfying and our heroes certainly earned their HEA.
I think the writing was excellent, the romance fairly wonderful, the chemistry sizzling and overall I really enjoyed this book. Personally I started to lose some steam around the countless road-blocks and crises, but I’m impatient for my happy endings, no matter how long the book!