Hard To Protect is just delightful, a romantic suspense that teases and stalks and feasts in all the right ways. And, aside from the romance between Will and Angel, it’s not predictable, either. You never know what’s going to happen next in Incy Black’s racy, clever adventure.
These characters are vibrant. From ice to volcano, controlled grace to explosive action, they breathe life into the pages. Will is a man used to pursuing what he wants with scary, single-minded determination, and he never fails. And when he relaxes, a whole other man comes out to play, and he is just as much of a treat as the no-nonsense British assassin-spy. Angel has lived her entire life confined by a set of rigid rules set by someone else—someone she trusted, someone who promised it was for her own good. But underneath that ice queen facade burns a woman whose passions could fuel a volcano, and god help any poor sucker in her path when she erupts. Angel and Will both hide their personal traumas well, but the longer they’re together, the more vulnerable they become to each other, and this dynamic is part of what makes the story such a page-turner.
You don’t need to have read any previous stories in the Black Ops Heroes series to enjoy the hell out of Hard To Protect, although I definitely want to go back and read them after meeting Will and Angel and getting a peek into the depths of author Incy Black’s diabolic imagination.
Incy Black’s Hard To Protect is unapologetically British, a must-read for fans of action-packed romantic suspense and gritty spy stories. With Angel Treherne’s fiery spirit and cool intellect, Will Berwick won’t be the only character in this page-turner who takes up residence in your heart....more
This book, the final story in the contemporary gay romance PresLocke series, is a celebration of love and friends and happiness. After all they've been through in the series (and in their lives before that), Wedlocked is their (and their readers') reward for sticking out the tough times and living on their own terms. The book isn't very long—or maybe it's just so darn happy that it passes in a flash—but some memorable characters from the authors' other series make an appearance, and, of course, the big event finally happens.
There's a sequence of scenes right in the middle of the book that gave me some serious warm fuzzies and made me want to run out and snatch up ALL the other books by these authors, just to meet the awesome crew of characters. Bet you've never seen a double bachelor party quite like this one!
And these guys are as sexy as ever. The other books in the series features some seriously hot scenes, and the authors didn't hold back in Wedlocked either. I wanted to make heart hands at this book in practically every chapter, whether for the steamy action or the melt-your-heart romance of it all.
This book is pure, happy endorphins, a feel-good rush from start to finish. I actually cried at the end—for-real, happy tears. If you need a pick-me-up or just want to feel your heart fill up love, you must read this series! Don't start with Wedlocked, though. If you're new to Ace and Dylan, check out Aced instead!...more
The premise for this story is juicy, and it had a lot of potential, but overall I found it to be just meh. The last 40% was relatively exciting, but tThe premise for this story is juicy, and it had a lot of potential, but overall I found it to be just meh. The last 40% was relatively exciting, but the rest felt almost mechanical—the dialogue wooden and the emotional arc forced. It tried to hard to be clever and sexy, and there were parts I enjoyed, memorable quotes like this...
"Meet me in my flat for dinner at seven.” “Is that an invite or a command?” She zipped her dress up as Wolfe stepped back. “Whatever it takes to get you there.” Tilting her head to one side, she pulled on her gloves. “Maybe if you got down on your knees.” The only way she could describe his smile was wolfish. “I guarantee you that at some point in the night I’ll be on my knees, but I won’t be the one begging.”
...but I wouldn't recommend this story over others with a similar setup. I hate giving public low ratings to a book—I know how much sweat and tears go into writing and releasing a novel—but for this rating, I hover between "I sort of liked it, at times" and "I didn't really like it". So I'm rounding up and going with 3 stars. On the GoodReads rating scale though, this is more of a 2.5 for me. ...more
This one is a bit of a departure from what I usually feature on GraveTells, so it's not going to be a good fit for everyone reading this. I was initially attracted to this story by the description and the cover: girl receives heart transplant, spends time with brother of her donor who agrees to help her recreate his sister's "done-it" photographs. I enjoy photography, so a man who knows how to work a camera is automatically sexy to me, so this seemed like a gimme. But this story is actually quite sad. It ends well—I mean, it's technically a romance—but it's more about the characters working through their own problems separately than banding together in an adult relationship. The Heartbeat Hypothesis will appeal to readers who enjoy clean romance with young adult themes. This is not for lovers of hardcore romance or happy-go-lucky stories.
I want to say something like, "This story will rip your heart right out." But that hits a little too close to home, given the way the two main characters meet. The Heartbeat Hypothesis is unique among romances—I've never seen a premise quite like it. It's a New Adult story, but there are times when it feels extremely Young Adult. In other moments it's classic college, peppered with snapshots of a very adult sort of reckoning and emotional processing. Audra, the heroine, navigates the tricky emotional landscape of carrying another girl's heart inside her body, of sorting through layers of guilt and happiness and what-ifs. She's a college freshman, and her speech and general life experience are spot on for her age. We experience the story through her eyes, so Jake is as much of a mystery to the reader as to Audra.
Jake is mysterious, moody, reticent. He's very much a New Adult hero. But he has good reasons, and he's a twenty-something college student with a traumatic past, so I can definitely respect that. This book goes from quirky, uncomfortable college kids trying to relate without giving up too much of themselves, to being heavy, heartbreaking, and introspective. I found it really hard to keep reading in parts. Not because it isn't well written—it is—but because I saw all these alternate (read: SAD!!) futures play out for myself and freaked the hell out.
There is a thread of romance in The Heartbeat Hypothesis, but it's secondary to the development of the characters and plot. This book reads more like a YA than a NA. Definitely not my usual preference, although I did generally enjoy it. This story includes themes of grief, separation, abuse, and suicide, so if any of those are a trigger for you, probably best to avoid. If you're looking for a younger-feeling story that will grab your heart and get the tears flowing, look no further.
For this one, my GraveTells review score will differ from my GoodReads and Amazon scores. The rating system I use on GT focuses more on technical merit rather than personal enjoyment (and they usually line up, so I'll have to tweak that). Technically the story was good. Personally, it wasn't my favorite, as I'm just not that into Young Adult, and I expected a New Adult story with more of a romance. YMMV....more
Fighting Attraction is all about conflict, the push and pull of life and love and soul-deep needs. Both main characters are a study in contrasts. Jack Caldwell is the encouraging, good-natured gossip king of the Redemption gym, but he's a true sadist at heart, and a painful past has taught him to keep that part of himself locked away. Penny Worthington is an adorable pastel- and pearl-wearing British gal with a penchant for death metal and bad boys, and her secret is so damaging, only a few people in her entire lifetime have known. The way their dark needs fit together—and yet also clash so painfully—weaves the gritty undertone that sets this story apart from typical fighter romances in the contemporary erotic genre.
Jack is a complicated man, with self-imposed layers of restrictions and hidden spaces, walls to keep people out and secrets in. He's everyone's high-fiving buddy at the gym and the most fierce, feared sadist at club Sin. And with Penny, he lands somewhere in the middle, somewhere soft and angry and giving, all while holding back the most vulnerable parts of himself. Until he stops and just lets go. That's when Jack will really melt your heart.
And as a fighter, oh man. I'm not into MMA in real life, but dayum. I could watch this guy torture opponents in the cage all day.
I love Penny's spirit. She may dress like a demure little secretary out for tea with the Queen, but she's got fire and spine and wit. Her British accent suits her character—and this story—perfectly and shines through her dialogue.
I LOVED the clever way Penny turns the tables at the end. Without giving spoilers, I'll just say that I was grinning and fist-pumping along with the characters. Brilliant. Sexy. Edgy. Addicting. That's Fighting Attraction. And I want more!...more
Read the full review, including memorable and tweetable quotes (seriously, some of these are SO GOOD!) at GraveTells: http://bit.ly/GT-HeroHairReviewRead the full review, including memorable and tweetable quotes (seriously, some of these are SO GOOD!) at GraveTells: http://bit.ly/GT-HeroHairReview (available on Friday, March 17th)
Ever wonder what happens when two players get together and deny themselves first- (or even second- or third-) date sex? A whole freaking explosion of sparks and feels. I. Love. These. Characters! Both Macs and Teala have such confidence, such acceptance of their sexual selves that they are just flat out addicting. Throw in the ego that Macs is clearly begging to have deflated and the emotional vulnerability that Teala so carefully hides, and these two are a walking mess of hormones and contradictions.
I breezed through this book—barreled is more like it—in a day. Part of the reason I just couldn’t put it down is Mac’s cocky-as-hell personality (it’s more charming than it sounds), and part of what fueled my addiction was the constant sexual tension in the first half of the book. Seriously, the first 50% is practically one big mega-extended foreplay session, and it is freaking glorious. But the real draw, and what sets off such beautiful sexual wanting, is just how uncomfortable these two are with the idea of having a real relationship.
The story is told in dual first person perspective, and I don’t think I’ve ever been more grateful to have a peek inside a male character’s head than experiencing Macs’s side of the romance up close and personal. He is unapologetically male—practically a dog, with some serious charm and a palpable aura of authority and skill, both in the bedroom and in the field. Teala (pronounced Tay-la) is the female version of Macs without the rough edges. She’s refined, successful, and modern, and she’s not afraid or ashamed to sleep around to get what she needs. They’re both so vulnerable to each other, but spend half their time putting up walls so the other doesn’t see it. The symmetry between the characters’ personalities and how the plot unfolds is just stunning.
Not too long after the explosion of sex and feels and lust these two have been chasing for their entire non-relationship, this review suddenly became really difficult to write. I would rather say nothing than give away a pivotal moment in the story (although if you’ve read the first book in this series, you already know what’s coming). I want to give more than 5 stars to this book! I cannot even express how much it teased and charmed and ultimately crushed my heart.
Hero Hair is a hell of a romance, but it’s much bigger than that. This is not your typical Navy SEAL romance. This book has an air of realism and vulnerability that is the mark of honest, progressive, period-appropriate literature, romance aside. I would recommend this to my male friends (who have a tolerance for romance) as readily as my girlfriends, it’s that relatable.
God, this book. We’re only a quarter into 2017 and I already know Hero Hair is going to be one of my favorite romances of the year. It’s raw and devastating and vicious and loving, clever and funny and so heart-stoppingly beautiful at times I wanted to cry. It has atmospheric highs and brutal lows.
Hero Hair is a story about picking your battles, knowing when the choices matter and when a sacrifice is worth someone else’s happiness. It’s about truly growing up, when you could have sworn you were already an actual adult. And it’s about holding on to love with both hands when it’s easier to convince yourself you don’t deserve it.
And if that GQ-looking Navy SEAL you’re so gone over just happens to have amazing hair? Just go with it, girl. As for me, I am gone on author Rachel Robinson. Hero Hair is the first book I’ve read from her, and it ab-so-lutely will not be the last. And I’m pretty sure Macs’s and Teala’s tendency to use swear words as adjectives totally enabled me to indulge my own bad habit! *grin*...more
When the book startsRead the full review, including memorable tweetable quotes, on GraveTells: http://bit.ly/GTreview-Aced (live on Thursday, 3/16/17)
When the book starts off with action star Ace Locke holding up traffic to drool over a billboard of underwear model Dylan Prescott, then Ace nearly runs him over when Dylan shows up on set that day to film the same movie, you know you're in for fireworks. Told from dual first person perspective, Aced sweeps readers along on an adventure of fame and firsts and fumbling toward a future you've barely dared dream about. These guys are such opposites, yet so vulnerable to each other.
Ace and Dylan's relationship blooms through the full series, and this first installment showcases the sacrifices each of them makes as he walks closer to openly dating the man of his dreams. But even for a cocky-as-hell action hero and an underwear model comfortable with his sexuality, these two take a while to get started. Once they do though, whew! There's a particularly memorable sequence of scenes in Las Vegas that culminated in a very public fantasy being fulfilled in a very high-end sex club. Not saying that's my favorite part...okay, yeah that's my favorite part. *grin*
At times I found the dialogue between Ace and Dylan to be a little stuffy or stiff, not naturally conversational (I enjoyed book #2, Locked, better than Aced), but their connection as a couple is solid and sexy, and I enjoyed following their story very much. Beware that the ending of this book is a bit of a cliff hanger. No one's life is in jeopardy and the couple doesn't break up, but the story definitely leaves you at a crossroads. And fiending for more PresLocke. Luckily for us, the next book (Locked) is already out, so you can just go snag it and keep reading immediately....more
Ashwin’s training andRead the full review on GraveTells, including a video review & tweetable quotes from the book: http://bit.ly/GTreview-Ashwin
Ashwin’s training and suppressed emotions—the way he looks at everything so analytically, the quick decisions and dependence on logic—reminded me of another soldier: Hunter from Lara Adrian’s Midnight Breed series. I watched John Wick, Chapter 2 just as I started reading Ashwin, and I imagine Ashwin’s skilled, economical movements in a fight might have looked a little like Keanu Reeves as he plowed through hundreds of trained assassins on screen.
If you’re a fan of the Beyond series and worry about how appealing the religious culture of Sector One will be after spending the last three years with the hedonistic O’Kanes, don’t be. The world-building for this new Riders series is just as compelling—loyalty and dedication to a cause, the closeness and quirks of chosen family, the respect and reverence given to the sector leader by its people, the beautiful artisan hand-crafted goods. Kit Rocha’s comfortable, immersive style is still there, and it’s still a heady thing to experience.
Even more layers of the mystery of Eden are peeled back, exposing a stark truth that runs especially true in the social and political climate of early 2017: people spend a lot of time focusing on (and bickering about) things that ultimately don’t matter while determinedly avoiding ways to protect or invest in humanity’s future.
Ashwin’s story line has been building since midway through the Beyond series, but you don’t need to have read that series to start this one.
This book is the perfect introduction to Sector One—and Gideon’s Riders in particular. Ashwin’s mission to infiltrate the Riders is the perfect opportunity to sweep the readers along on a journey of initiation, and rites of passage, and the first experiences unique to Sector One. Readers new and old will adore Ashwin and savor his dance with Kora and the Riders.
This book is the perfect introduction to Sector One—and Gideon’s Riders in particular. Ashwin’s mission to infiltrate the Riders is the perfect opportunity to sweep the readers along on a journey of initiation, and rites of passage, and the first experiences unique to Sector One. Readers new and old will adore Ashwin and savor his dance with Kora and the Riders....more
Beyond Surrender—the intense final story in Kit Rocha's epic Beyond series—is edgy, gritty, terrifying, and satisfying. It's everything a reader could want in the final piece of the story puzzle we've pieced together over the last three years. The Beyond series was the first erotic dystopian series I read, and it is still the most memorable. The hedonism, the controlled violence, the brotherhood and family. The sheer, uninhibited exhibitionism and sexual freedom. Beyond Surrender features Nessa—the O'Kanes' most protected sweetheart and the whiskey genius who holds the secrets of their lucrative liquor trade—paired up with Sector Eight's leader Ryder, a man groomed from childhood to lead the Sectors in their rebellion against Eden's brutal control. Ryder isn't an O'Kane, and his relationship with Dallas is edgy, so Beyond Surrender veers into new story territory while still delivering that thrilling erotic punch readers have come to expect from the series.
Where most of the O'Kane boys so far have been cocky and dominant, Ryder is unlike any previous romantic hero in the Beyond series. Part of what I enjoyed most about Ryder was his analytical mind, his cool control and the little bits of warmth and shyness tucked away under all that mmm mmm mmm man! He's controlled but gentle, at times rightfully smug but not arrogant, dangerous as all hell but doesn't flaunt it. This guy is smooth dark chocolate—quiet, vibrant, and deep.
And for Nessa, being the whiskey princess of Sector Four is about more than just nurturing and guarding the product that built Dallas O'Kane's empire. She has a connection with Dallas that predates their time in the Sectors, and I loved getting the little peeks into Dallas's past.
Some of the series couples are obvious pairings (or multiples), characters meant to be together and the authors made no secret about it—Dallas & Lex, Ace & Cruz & Rachel, Jas & Noelle—but Nessa's match isn't even hinted at until late in the series, and while Ryder isn't someone I would have picked for her out of a character lineup, they make a pretty darn perfect couple. And the underlying theme that surrounds them is freedom and unification—two people of different backgrounds and temperaments coming together to fight for the same greater good. And, of course, they steam up the pages as hot as any other O'Kane couple.
This was a really hard book for me to read. Aside from it bringing the end of a series I have loved and followed for several years, I personally connected with so much of Nessa—her essence and spirit and self-aware shortcomings. Seeing her flaws and fears and hopes laid out on the pages brought clarity to some of my own life choices.
The mystery of Eden and how it fits into our modern day Earth has been slowly teased out in bits and pieces throughout the series. The authors stay true to form here—you won't find any expository history lessons to tidily wrap it all up—but they do give us enough to satisfy those basic questions about the shining city and—finally!—its locale.
Beyond Surrender is a deeply satisfying ending to a vibrant, addicting series. The pacing is perfect, the build up beautifully tense, and the emotional arc carefully balanced and nurtured. Looking back across the series, I can't choose a favorite story. I just enjoyed them all so much. But this finale in the saga of The O'Kanes vs. Eden is definitely one of the most immersive and enjoyable. It's a rough ride, but it's true to the O'Kane spirit, and I loved it.
I'm actually not sad it's over. Sector Four and it's whiskey gang have earned their peace, and the setup for Gideon's Riders is mouth-wateringly tantalizing. Fans of the Beyond Series will adore this book, with its celebration of all things O'Kane, and hunger for the first Riders book to come....more
The bride walking down the aisle is marrying the President of the United States, and they’re in a kinky three-way relationship with his long-time friend and VP. Holy…now that’s how you start a romance. *fans self* This review is going to have a lot of quotes in it—the author’s words speak as strongly as I can to show just how powerful and classy this story is. Prepare yourself!
This story is elegant and thrilling and sexy. And build up is a slow burn, complicated dance meant for three, even though the third player is still just a memory and a friend.
The history between Ash and Greer is so masterfully woven in and out of the story—flashbacks set amongst the first steps in their fledging, modern day relationship—that even their firsts feel deep and soulful, as if they’ve been together forever. I resented those flashbacks at first, disappointed that they were taking me away from what I thought of as the main storyline, but I eventually came to crave them. Every flashback delivers a new intimate experience, vignettes that shaped these characters into who they are now and drive much of the plot arc for the story.
It’s not hard to see the Arthurian parallels this story draws, as many of them are right out in the character names and the political setting. Ash is the King and Embry, his Vice President, is the charming suitor. The twist is that this Lancelot makes the leap that the one our sanitized the legends often does not: these three are a natural true threesome, sexually and as a power trio.
American Queen is both gut-wrenching and reverent, like finding religion in a war zone. It does end on a bit of a cliffhanger, as does the follow-up American Prince. This series is meant to be read as a full trilogy, and the wait time between each volume will haunt you with memories and feelings about these characters and their impossible situation. Read them now and suffer til Ash’s book comes out? Or wait and devour them all at once? That’s a tough question. How much do you value your sanity? Regardless of whether you take on this oh-so-addicting book now or when the full series is available, the experience will be memorable and the feels will leave you breathless....more
Greer Wilde is on a mission of revenge and he expects to die trying, or shortly thereafter. After the tight knit brotherhood of the Wilde brothers over the last few books in this series, and knowing their concerns for their missing brother Greer, the opening of Too Wilde to Tame packs a solemnly heavy punch and sets the tone for this gritty series finale.
Greer is a tough guy, but his girl keeps up and pushes back. Natalie is graceful and strong—a former ballet dancer—and her personal history gives her the perfect insight into how to connect with Greer in just the way he needs. One of my favorite moments includes a post-shower Greer in a towel, finding an unexpected audience as he slams back over to his apartment across the hall in search of some clothes.
The chemistry between Greer and Natalie is scorching, but the scenes—while hot—are respectful and sensitively worded. I really enjoyed this book. In fact, I’m pretty sure I read it in a single day.
Tonya Burrows’s stories are always so memorable and full of all the things that pull on a reader’s heartstrings—heartbreak, self-loathing, selfless heroism, soul-deep love, crazy hot feels, danger and suspense. Her books are the whole package and every time I read one I want to go on a ‘Burrows binge’. Ms. Burrows writes intense, hardass, vulnerable military men with explosive chemistry and serious skills…both in and out of the bedroom.
Too Wilde to Tame is a MUST-read story if you’ve already started the series. Seriously, it couldn’t have ended better than this. And to Ms. Burrows: Don’t even stress about how the Epilogue turned out, because it was PERFECT. ...more
I loved the premise behind this book—not only the Marvel-like enhanced humans, but also the idea that heroes are just people. People who are braver for just a little bit longer.
Finn is a regular human, no enhancements, but he has been so conditioned to believe he will be sabotaged and fail at anything he tries that he expects it as rote. His dyslexia puts him at a disadvantage in written tests, and his well-hidden sexual orientation paints a target on his back with his family. Why would the FBI treat him any differently? Finn is just an all-around good guy that most readers will instantly click with. He represents the can-do spirit, the never-give-up mentality, and he thinks as quickly on his feet as any other agent on the team.
Talon is enhanced, and the success of his newly-formed team—H.E.R.O. (Human Enhanced Rescue Organization)—depends on the performance of the only human agent on their team. Except Finn isn’t even a real agent. He didn’t score well enough on written tests to be considered for the FBI (which means he has zero training), and Talon is against ANY non-enhanced joining their team. The enhanced are shunned from society in ways that sadly parallel our own nation’s blatant fear and discrimination, and Talon’s men are all hiding secrets of their own. Secrets that would get them killed or locked up—or worse, experimented on—if the very government they work for found out. Of course, no one would come straight out and say that, and the very formation of Talon’s new team is a show, a decision hotly contested even within the agency.
I don’t know if this story was written with political commentary specifically in mind, but it is particularly relevant in the chaotic American social climate of post-inauguration 2017. The enhanced (think mutants with a Harry Potter–style lightning scar somewhere on their skin) are almost completely ostracized by government and citizens alike, and their struggle is a direct allegory for the many groups discriminated against in today’s national circus. Five Minutes Longer isn’t just a potent story about life as a minority, it’s a philosophical statement about basic human rights, and it paints a dire picture.
Victoria Sue’s writing is clean and enjoyable, and Five Minutes Longer is a powerful story simply told well. While I found that the American characters sounded a bit British in some of their thoughts and dialogue, the characters still ring true and the emotional arc of the story is strong. I felt like Finn played more of a damsel in distress role than FBI HERO, but I still enjoyed his scenes and the duality of his vulnerability and personal strength.
Five Minutes Longer is a recommended read for fans of gay romance, whether you’re into political undertones or just want to kick back and enjoy a great story....more
Let me just say straight off: I LOVED THIS BOOK! Not only is this series unique in a genre crowded by tired tropes and cookie-cutter characters, this book in particular shines so brightly that I couldn't stop thinking about it for days.
Connelly Reid—a police detective with a giving spirit and a helping heart—is such a likeable guy, yet he can go into dominant cop mode in a heartbeat. This guy gives off safe vibes as easily as he can send that thrill of power over your skin. So sexy. After an accidental meeting reveals the real Azariah Hayes, Con can't stop thinking about him.
Z's history is a rough one, and he has eeked his way to self sufficiency through sheer grit and determination. His mother always encouraged him to shine bright like a diamond but stay hard and strong, and to never let anyone or anything dull his sparkle—and that advice has savagely defined his choices as an adult. Since Azariah seems to experience more hardships in life than perks, he always expects the worst from people even though he holds himself to the highest standards while hiding behind a mask of bitchiness, snark, and indifference. Z would never admit it, but he's a great guy (a romantic, even!) under all that snark.
Azariah is so charismatic, this bright light that you just can't keep your eyes off of. I love that this series is based around badass femme men: these guys dance for a living, wear makeup and stilettos, and live life on their own terms. They're all so used to armoring up for the rest of the world that every sentimentality, every secret hope is a danger to that carefully maintained equilibrium.
Even in book two, I can tell this series won't get stale or predictable. And the dancing, oh it is to DIE for. The choreography is written so perfectly: I can practically see these guys kicking ass and flaunting the moves in their sky-high heels and rock star gear. The imagery is so vivid, I wish I could watch them perform in real life.
Connelly and Z's story is intense, shocking, deep. It's also true to the characters. The author doesn't shy away from hard choices and she doesn't take the safe route through the conflict. The result is a vibrantly, painfully, beautifully evocative story featuring characters who bleed through the full spectrum of love and lust. I ADORED this book, devoured it in less than a day. I can't wait to see what Ms. Varlet has in store for the rest of the Sassy Boyz!...more
This book nearly became the first historical to win one of the yearly curated honors in the GraveTells Book Awards. Historical romances don't win mostThis book nearly became the first historical to win one of the yearly curated honors in the GraveTells Book Awards. Historical romances don't win mostly because I just don't read them anymore, and even when I do rarely pick up a historical, I don't feature them on GT at all. But this year, when a friend was looking for recommendations of Femme Domme (or male harem) books on Facebook, The Mistress and Her Men caught my eye. Once I started it, I couldn't stop reading, and after I finished I couldn't stop thinking about it. I really wanted to name this book as one of the 2016 GraveTells Standouts, but, alas, it was released in October of 2015. Even if I broke my rules about awarding a historical (one I didn't even post a GT review of), I really shouldn't bend the release timeframe restriction: 2016 award winners need to have been published no earlier than December 1, 2015. Dang it!
Regardless, this book is truly a standout romance in the Menage category. Hats off to Minerva Howe, the kinky alter ego of author Julia Talbot, for a sexy, engaging, free-spirited love story that indulges in bondage but knows no bounds....more
Nine Muses have been reborRead the full review at GraveTells, with memorable tweetable quotes, here: (live after 11/12) http://bit.ly/LureOfObsession
Nine Muses have been reborn into modern day earth with one mission: inspire a new generation of art, and technological and intellectual progress. But not everyone wants these young women to succeed in restoring the old theater where they plan to spread their love of art, and the followers of Kronus will do whatever it takes to stop them. For each Muse, a Guardian has been chosen, and Lure of Obsession starts this series off with Melanie Jacoby as the Muse of Epic Poetry and her Guardian, Crystal City police detective Nate Malone.
Part romantic suspense with a unique approach to paranormal romance, Lisa Kessler's Lure of Obsession brings a fresh, exciting new type of story to the scene. None of the characters are immortal or have any real special powers, but their essence stems from ancient Greek mythology.
Lisa Kessler's signature style is a mix of easy going and a little bit turbulent. The characters, especially the men, have a laid back approachability on the outside, but harbor a deep intensity and sometimes haunting backstory. As Melanie's Guardian, Nate has a hard time checking his need for solitude against the pull she has on his heart. This detective is a survivor of brutal childhood abuse but he badly desires a loving family of his own, and while that drives him to keep others safe, it also means he protects himself against any attachments out of fear of getting hurt. As the Muse of Tragic Poetry, this plays right into Mel's darkest fears.
The story arc isn't all that surprising—this is romance, folks—but it's the wrap at the end that will have you in tears from sheer amount of feels beaming off the pages. Ms. Kessler has really outdone herself with Lure of Obsession, and for all its suspense and muse-of-tragedy-inspired action, this story will keep you hooked until "THE END"!...more
Mason Hayes has no filter. He says just what he's thinking, no matter how inappropriate, where he happens to be, or who he might be with—especially if it has to do with sex. This was a tendency his poor mother struggled with even when Mason was a child.
If you read Winter Ball, you no doubt remember Mason as Skipper's "gentlemen caller", an executive of their company who could have rightly been sued for sexual harassment when he asked Skip to watch gay porn with him at work. Seriously. No. Filter.
If Mace is a social nightmare, Terry Jefferson is an unwitting mama's boy. He lives with his mother and supports her and puts up with her controlling act...because he doesn't know anything else, and she's convinced him he's unworthy, owes her for his very existence. He has such personality and vibrance of life, yet he's used to just folding when it comes to his harpy-tongued mother. Makes things a little tough for Mason, who came from a whole, loving home and found success early in his life.
Where Mason is classy (even if he tends to speak frankly and inappropriately), Terry is a little rough around the edges. He's a working class guy who doesn't see his own worth. He also LOVES sex and has no qualms about trying new things or making a lot of noise, so in that respect he's pretty much the perfect partner for the very horny Mason.
This story is a little heart breaking. It chronicles the relationships of two couples (although Mason and Terry are front and center), and in both relationships one of the guys is learning how to be an independent adult. That learning and growing process many people go through in college is a whole lot harder once you're out in the real world, dealing with real problems and a real partner.
There were a lot of things I loved about this story—Mason's good heart and patient soul, his relationship with his brother and all the happiness and heartache it brings, his unlikely circle of soccer buddies who support each other no matter what—but Terry was a tough character to read. He's young and immature enough to come off as self-centered for most of the book. Contrasted against Mason's giving spirit, I found it very frustrating that Mason kept gravitating to him. His speech is reminiscent of Ritchie's from Winter Ball (so, working class), but I found him far less likable.
Even so, I really enjoyed this story. In Amy Lane's signature style, Summer Lessons has humor, class, heart, and characters who feel REAL, like you could walk out your front door and meet them at the mailbox—and be glad to see them! Mental illness is a thread throughout the story, and Ms. Lane has beautifully captured the highs, lows, joy, stress, and fear that come along with bipolar disorder.
Readers new to the series should start with Winter Ball to get the full introduction to Mason and his awesome secretary. It also helps to have already met the guys on the soccer team since they interchange first and last names so freely. Fans of Winter Ball will enjoy exploring the relationships featured in Summer Lessons, and probably laugh and cry a little too....more