The Same Breath is the first book in Gregory Ashe’s new The Lamb and the Lion series and I totally adored it. It has AA Joyfully Jay review.
The Same Breath is the first book in Gregory Ashe’s new The Lamb and the Lion series and I totally adored it. It has Ashe’s trademark of fascinating, well-developed, and often troubled characters, combined with a really great mystery. I found the mystery side of the plot really engaging and Ashe makes wonderful use of the Salt Lake City setting, taking us through the city itself, as well as into the surrounding mountains. There is a great sense of place here that really brings a lot to the whole story, but particularly the investigation. The case is twisty and interesting, with a large cast of potential bad guys, which kept me guessing as to who was behind it all and why. I think things could have been a tiny bit tighter toward the end to pull it all together, but overall, I found the mystery really entertaining and I enjoyed seeing how all the pieces came together at the end of the story.
Impossibly Fond is a fun, playful, and often silly story that I enjoyed. I think you have to be in the mood for this A Joyfully Jay review.
Impossibly Fond is a fun, playful, and often silly story that I enjoyed. I think you have to be in the mood for this style of humor for this book to work for you, and I’ll admit, it took me a bit to really sink into it. The start was a little rough for me as Waltham isn’t the easiest guy to like, and the instant way Ian falls for him made it hard to connect with them as a couple for me. But Tanya Chris really develops this one nicely, highlighting the growth Waltham undergoes over the course of the book and really bringing it all together so well.
The Soldati General is the third book in Charlie Cochet’s Soldati Hearts series. This is a fun, fantasy-like series thatA Joyfully Jay review.
The Soldati General is the third book in Charlie Cochet’s Soldati Hearts series. This is a fun, fantasy-like series that takes place in an alternate realm led by tiger shifters who protect the human realm from demons. It’s been more than three years since the second book was released, so I was excited to see Cochet releasing a new installment. From a plot standpoint, you can read this as a standalone, but the overall world building is more developed in the first book, so having read that will help here.
Ezra and Segreti are sweet together, both somewhat shy and uncertain around each other. Ezra is connected to the Eye, and his power often scares away potential suitors. Segreti is a battle-scarred warrior missing an eye and having seen untold traumas.
Captive Mate is the second book in Eliot Grayson’s Mismatched Mates series and it follows closely on the heels of The AlA Joyfully Jay review.
Captive Mate is the second book in Eliot Grayson’s Mismatched Mates series and it follows closely on the heels of The Alpha’s Warlock. While this book does feature a new couple, the larger world building connects and this book really needs to be read after the first. We get glimpses of Arik in the first book as he is working with the Kimballs and this story picks up soon after the end of that book and continues the larger series arc.
This book has a great enemies to lovers vibe that works nicely with the intense sexual attraction between the men.
I think overall Drake has a nice style and there is some fun humor and playfulness to the story, so I liked getting tA Joyfully Jay review.
I think overall Drake has a nice style and there is some fun humor and playfulness to the story, so I liked getting to experience a new author’s writing.
This book has an interesting set up in that we open with Nick and Phin in the midst of the fight that ultimately leads to their separation. So the story is really focused on the men finding their way back together again, but unlike most lovers reunited stories, we are with them starting from the break up, through the full separation and ultimate reunion. So I enjoyed the slightly different approach here and it gave some immediacy to the conflict that I appreciated.
The Hitman’s Guide to Tying the Knot Without Getting Shot is the third book in the fabulous Hitman’s Guide series. It’A Joyfully Jay review.
The Hitman’s Guide to Tying the Knot Without Getting Shot is the third book in the fabulous Hitman’s Guide series. It’s been about a year since the last book released, and I didn’t realize how much I had missed Leland and Jackson until I picked this one up. They are a couple with Winters’ trademark humor and banter and craziness. And Leland is totally insane on about a million levels. But what stands out most for me here is how intensely in love these guys are. It’s hard to imagine two men adoring each other more, and they basically have hearts coming out of their eyes around one another. Even as Leland is doing another crazy thing that should make Jackson annoyed, Jackson can’t help but find Leland endearing. Or at the very least, he can’t bear not to indulge every one of Leland’s ridiculous whims. I particularly enjoyed watching Jackson play along, sometimes giving as good as he gets when things get particularly outrageous. So I really had fun with these guys here and I loved seeing their incredibly strong bond (plus, we get a lovely wedding scene that made me all misty).
Love Him Desperate is the fifth book in E.M. Lindsey’s wonderful On the Market series. This story stands alone more thanA Joyfully Jay review.
Love Him Desperate is the fifth book in E.M. Lindsey’s wonderful On the Market series. This story stands alone more than most in this series, and you can read this one without having read the other books. However, you will miss the development of Raphael and Lorenzo’s close friendship that begins in Love Him Steady, as well as the introduction of Dmitri and a host of the other side characters we meet here. So the experience is definitely richer if you are familiar with On the Market, as well as Kate Hawthorne’s Room for Love series set in the same town.
One of the things that is a hallmark of Lindsey’s writing is her rich and nuanced character development, and I think that really shines here. This book is a slow burn, friends to lovers story that takes these men from first meeting, through several years of friendship, before they ultimately move to lovers.
Ruler is the second book in Kiki Burrelli’s Wolves of Royal Paynes series and follows closely on the heels of the firA Joyfully Jay review.
Ruler is the second book in Kiki Burrelli’s Wolves of Royal Paynes series and follows closely on the heels of the first book. While this does feature a new couple in Faust and Storri, the series plot continues through this book (and beyond) and so you are best off having started with Hero.
Ok, normally when I review I focus on the things that worked for me before getting into the less successful areas, but I think here it makes sense to start with some issues I faced at the top of the book and then go from there. Basically, there was a lot that you just have to go with here, as things don’t always make a lot of sense or feel very realistic.
I really enjoyed the tone of the story here, told through Braxton’s POV. He is such an interesting character, on one A Joyfully Jay review.
I really enjoyed the tone of the story here, told through Braxton’s POV. He is such an interesting character, on one hand confident in the life he has laid out for himself and proud that he is taking the first steps in his plan, but also uncertain of himself and his worth, wondering what a gorgeous guy like Craig sees in him. As with Craig, there is a vulnerability to Braxton that lies under that surface appearance that really gives his character nuance. He also has a great dry wit, particularly in his own thoughts, and sort of a self-deprecating internal commentary that often made me laugh.
One of my favorite aspects of a road trip story, aside from the fun of forced proximity (and only one bed!), is getting to follow along with the characters as they have a travel adventure. Chris really makes the most of this set up with wonderful detail that really brings the trip to life.
Screwed is the fourth book in the fabulous Four Bears Construction series and it is one of my favorites. This is such A Joyfully Jay review.
Screwed is the fourth book in the fabulous Four Bears Construction series and it is one of my favorites. This is such a fun, playful series with a sexy vibe and a lot of heart, and Screwed definitely continues that tone. Before I go too far, I’ll note that the set up here is sort of over-the-top and takes some suspension of disbelief that Ollie and Daniel would pretend to be married for eight months just to win this bet. And that relationship averse Daniel, who doesn’t know Ollie all that well, would come to his aid when the guys are ribbing him by making this massive commitment to fake a marriage for the better part of a year. So you have to squint a little here and just go with it, but I think it is worth the ride for sure.
Best Laid Plaids is the debut work for author Ella Stainton and kicks off the Kilty Pleasures series. The standout foA Joyfully Jay review.
Best Laid Plaids is the debut work for author Ella Stainton and kicks off the Kilty Pleasures series. The standout for me in this book is the wonderful sense of time and place Stainton conveys. The book takes place in 1928 Scotland and, as the men travel the country, there are wonderful descriptions about the places they visit. Stainton really manages to make the country come to life, giving us great details without overwhelming the story. There is also a lovely sense of the time period woven in, with details on fashion, style, politics, and more. It was interesting to see the way the time period in Scotland had similarities and differences to that era in the U.S. So there is some really nice development here of setting that enhances the story quite nicely.
Jaywalking is the first in Rachel Ember’s new Tangled Leash series and appears to be the author’s debut publication. A Joyfully Jay review.
Jaywalking is the first in Rachel Ember’s new Tangled Leash series and appears to be the author’s debut publication. I was drawn in to this one right away from the blurb highlighting the student/teacher angle, as well as the younger dominant partner dynamic. I found I really enjoyed the author’s writing style and it fit well with the story. Both Jay and Emile have an interest in poetry and Emile is an English professor, and Ember’s style is really evocative with some great imagery and a really nice style. She paints great pictures with her words, without having the writing feel stuffy or overly dramatic. In particular, I liked how Ember connects Jay’s role on the soccer field with his personality as he relates to Emile. It does a great job really giving us insight into his character in a nice way.
The Assassin’s Dragon wraps up the Fire and Valor trilogy in wonderful fashion. The series is told as one long story A Joyfully Jay review.
The Assassin’s Dragon wraps up the Fire and Valor trilogy in wonderful fashion. The series is told as one long story broken into three books, so you definitely need to start at the beginning here to follow along with the action. As with the other books, the authors do an amazing job of building an engaging ensemble cast and letting them all tell the story. We get a wide range of POV characters, from our leads, Tristram and Bet, to Maddox, Gillian, Sidonie, Rhiannon, Roland, and more. As I have noted before, this could have been all muddled, but instead, all these narrators allow us as readers to really keep up with all the action. There are so many pieces in play here and people are in different locations and pursing a variety of goals. By getting in varying POVs, we can keep up with what is going on, as well as really get to know each of these characters. So I am constantly impressed with how well the authors manage such a large cast and use them to tell one flowing story, even as we jump from one to another as chapters change.
Unnatural is the first book in Alessandra Hazard’s new The Wrong Alpha series. I love an arranged marriage trope and IA Joyfully Jay review.
Unnatural is the first book in Alessandra Hazard’s new The Wrong Alpha series. I love an arranged marriage trope and I was drawn to the idea of two men who find themselves unexpectedly in love. I also was intrigued by the omegaverse world in a science fiction type setting, as that it not something I often see. Haydn and Royce are likable together and Hazard gives the men some good chemistry, which I could feel particularly early on as they sense a connection they are trying to resist. The men are sexy together and there is a nice heat to the story. I also liked the way that the men support one another right from the start, even before their feelings get involved. Each man faces his own struggles during the book and they are both there to have each other’s backs in a way that is very appealing. We can see clearly how their connection grows and evolves over the course of the book and how they come to depend on one another.
Try Me is the second book in Neve Wilder’s Extracurricular Activities series. Though we meet both men in the first book,A Joyfully Jay review.
Try Me is the second book in Neve Wilder’s Extracurricular Activities series. Though we meet both men in the first book, Want Me, and Nate and Eric have cameos here, this story will stand alone just fine. It’s worth noting that we do see the conflict regarding Mark’s assumption of Chet’s role in the overdose in the first book, but it is explained well enough here to follow along. Wilder does a great job here with the sexy, new adult feel. There is a nice sense of exploration as Chet and Mark figure out the emotional and physical connection between them, and the story captures their age well as two men who are just on the cusp of their future, post-college lives. Mark and Chet have a nice tension between them where they are bantering and pushing one another’s buttons, and it makes for fun interaction as they often seem not quite sure if they want to beat one another up or tear each other’s clothes off (and both things happen over the course of the book). So they have a fun dynamic I enjoyed. This book is not quite as heavily a sex romp as the first book (which is super sexy and deliciously steamy), but the men do have a wild sex life and not too many inhibitions.
The Lost Prince is part of the Royal Powers universe, a multi-author collection in a shared world. I picked this one up A Joyfully Jay review.
The Lost Prince is part of the Royal Powers universe, a multi-author collection in a shared world. I picked this one up after enjoying the first book I read in this series, Duking it Out, and because I am a super powers junkie. I also found the premise really interesting here, as I have never read any super hero books with ground burrowing powers. So I was intrigued by the set up, as well as interested to see Crave using his powers in the cave in. As it turns out, those elements are really what carried the book for me. The set up was original, Crave’s powers were unusual, and the cave in scenes had some excitement. However, I found that I had some real issues with much of this book overall.
Love Him Steady is the fourth book in E.M. Lindsey’s On the Market series and gives us Wilder and Lorenzo’s story. We haA Joyfully Jay review.
Love Him Steady is the fourth book in E.M. Lindsey’s On the Market series and gives us Wilder and Lorenzo’s story. We have met both characters in previous books in this series (and in Wilder’s case, in the Room for Love series as well), and I was really excited to get Wilder’s story, as he has been a favorite side character of mine. The story really is lovely, following these two men with difficult pasts as they find their way to one another. What I thought was most interesting is the way they are both in different spots in similar journeys. Wilder grew up with an abusive mother who hated him because he was a hearing child in her deaf world. He then lived with an abusive boyfriend who nearly killed him. Wilder managed to rebuild his life in Cherry Creek, finding a place for himself where he can stand on his own and reclaim his sense of self worth. Lorenzo is at the beginning of his similar journey, having reached the point of realizing he is unhappy, but not quite sure how to fix it yet. So it was interesting to watch these two men together and see how they were able to support one another and learn from each other.
Every time I read a Lily Morton book, I find myself transported, and it is hard to pick a favorite after loving so maA Joyfully Jay review.
Every time I read a Lily Morton book, I find myself transported, and it is hard to pick a favorite after loving so many. But After Felix has definitely found a place among my all time Morton favorites. This is the third book in her Close Proximity series, but the story stands alone plot-wise just fine. However, I think you will definitely have some extra fun if you have read Best Man, where both men are introduced and we see the tension between them, as well as Risk Taker, as Ivo is a prominent side character here. Misha, from Charlie Sunshine, is Felix’s cousin and he makes a brief cameo as well.
What makes this book really unique among other “lovers reunited” type stories is the structure. Typically, we join the story for the second half of the journey, as the characters make their way back to each other again. While there may be flashbacks or other recaps to get readers caught up on the relationship history, we usually focus on the reuniting stage. In After Felix, we get both the before and after. In fact, the table of contents lays it out right there for us, dividing the book into “before” and “after.”
NautiCal is the eighth (and seemingly last) of the Forever Wilde series and it turned out to be one of my favorites. TA Joyfully Jay review.
NautiCal is the eighth (and seemingly last) of the Forever Wilde series and it turned out to be one of my favorites. The series follows the Wilde family and the characters appear in each other’s books. However, the individual stories stand alone and this one does in particular, as Cal is only in Hobie a short time. So you can jump in here with no problem.
This story hit so many of my hot button tropes, between the fake relationship set up, the age difference between the men, and the forced proximity as they are all on the ship together. Cal and Worth are great together, and Lennox gives us some fabulous sexual tension before they ultimately succumb to their attraction. Both men have their doubts about how things could work given their differences, but this isn’t an angsty story and it mostly focuses on the way the guys make each other feel.
Blood Oath is the first in A.T. Brennan’s new Legacy of the Assassins series. I have been on a bit of an urban fantasyA Joyfully Jay review.
Blood Oath is the first in A.T. Brennan’s new Legacy of the Assassins series. I have been on a bit of an urban fantasy kick lately, so I was drawn in by the set up right away. I liked the idea of a witch, human, and werewolf all banding together for a big old magical fight. This is my first book by Brennan and I think the foundation and set up to the story is strong and engaging. All the characters were likable and the author has clearly put time into developing this world with a lot of rich detail. I also appreciated that this is a polyamory story, not just with three men, but with two distinct couples (Felix/Luka and Felix/Ryder). That type of set up is rare in romance and I was interested to see it play out here. The story has some exciting moments as they all battle the bad guy and race to complete Ryder’s task. So I think there are good bones here, but I did have some issues with the way it all plays out.
Everything to Lose is the first in E.M. Denning’s new Learning the Ropes series and it is sweet romance with a great A Joyfully Jay review.
Everything to Lose is the first in E.M. Denning’s new Learning the Ropes series and it is sweet romance with a great new adult feel. What I particularly liked here is that while Zane is older, both he and Dante are coming to the relationship from a place of inexperience. Dante has never had much sexual experience, and Zane has never been with a man. So there is a nice sense of discovery here for both men as they explore a relationship with each other, as well as their sexual connection. Denning also does a great job really capturing that freshman experience, with Dante a little overwhelmed and uncertain and trying to figure it all out. The guys are good together and I enjoyed their dynamic. Zane is doting and caring, so there is a nice sweetness and tenderness to their relationship. I appreciated that he manages not to be overprotective, but also looks out for Dante. Dante is more reserved, but Zane helps give him that confidence that he needs to step a bit outside his comfort zone and I liked watching him find his footing as the story develops.
Wolfsbane is the first book in S.J. Himes new Werewolves of Boston series, a spin-off of her Beacon Hill Sorcerer serA Joyfully Jay review.
Wolfsbane is the first book in S.J. Himes new Werewolves of Boston series, a spin-off of her Beacon Hill Sorcerer series and part of her expanding Infinite Arcana universe. I am a HUGE fan of the Beacon Hill books (one of my top all-time urban fantasy series), so I was really excited to see Himes not only writing a spin-off, but building a whole universe of series that will fit into this world (these two, plus more coming). This book totally stands alone (though Angel Salvatore does make an appearance), so you can easily jump in with this series if you haven’t read the others. Wolfsbane also has a slightly different tone than the Beacon Hill books, which have more of a pure urban fantasy feel. This story straddles the line more between traditional paranormal shifter and the magical urban fantasy, which makes sense given the characters, and I think Himes really pulls it all together nicely.
Oh, I enjoyed this book so much, I could barely put it down. The Fantastic Fluke was a story that I wanted to read frA Joyfully Jay review.
Oh, I enjoyed this book so much, I could barely put it down. The Fantastic Fluke was a story that I wanted to read from beginning to end, without pause. I found myself completely captivated and think Sam Burns has created something really fabulous with this book. This story is so layered and, as it develops, more and more is revealed about the magic, the killers, and what specifically is happening to Sage. I can’t even begin to summarize it all, nor do I want to, as so much of the fun here is slowly learning exactly what is going on and how it all connects. I seriously was captivated right from the start and couldn’t stop reading.
What I think really makes it work is that we are in Sage’s first person POV throughout the story and that is perfect. Sage is a fascinating POV character, full of self doubt and lacking a sense of self worth. I loved watching him come into his own as he finds his new abilities, but also comes to believe he is strong and worthy and deserves to reach for his own happiness.
The Enforcer Enigma is the third novel in the San Andreas Shifter series. From a plot standpoint, this story stands alonA Joyfully Jay review.
The Enforcer Enigma is the third novel in the San Andreas Shifter series. From a plot standpoint, this story stands alone just fine and you can start here. But this is a very pack-driven series and the various characters all show up in each other’s stories, so you will miss knowing their backstories if you haven’t read the earlier books. Like the other stories, this book has a playful, occasionally silly sense of humor (e.g. they use “Instalamb” to post pictures and shifters get red their “Panda rights” instead of Miranda rights). The books tend to be a blend of romance with some often intense moments, combined with the humor. I find the style entertaining, and this book doesn’t have quite the silliness of some of them, but I think the sense of humor has to be a fit for you to really enjoy these books.
Duking it Out is the first in the Royal Powers collection, a multi-author series set in a shared world where the royaA Joyfully Jay review.
Duking it Out is the first in the Royal Powers collection, a multi-author series set in a shared world where the royals of North and South Abarran have an assortment of superpowered abilities. I am a big super powers fan, and I love enemies to lovers and forced proximity stories, so this one called out to me. I think Russell does a nice job here with the “stranded on a desert island” theme. It is clear that that Tarik has a lot of hostility toward Sander, partly stemming from Sander’s reputation as having killed people in his youth, and part due to Tarik’s generally prickly nature. Tarik is sure that Sander is behind their marooning and it takes a while for things to warm up between them. There is a definite sense of the pair being stranded and having to figure things out, though they aren’t trapped for that long as far as I can tell. There are some nice moments as the guys work together that lead to a thawing of their relationship and eventually to more.
How to Lure a Hunter is the third book in Alice Winters’ Vampire Related Crimes series, this time focusing on a new coupA Joyfully Jay review.
How to Lure a Hunter is the third book in Alice Winters’ Vampire Related Crimes series, this time focusing on a new couple in Claude and Alexei. Alexei has served as a foil for both Finn and Marcus in past books, and Claude made an appearance in book 2, so familiarity with the series is helpful, but the overarching plot from the first two books is already wrapped up so you can jump into the story here pretty easily. I don’t want to give too much away about Alexei’s past and his big secret, but I will say that Winters does a nice job having his backstory unfold, intermingled with the currently storyline. It balances well, giving us pieces of the story at just the right times to connect the past and the present. There isn’t as much law enforcement investigation happening here as in the earlier books, so there isn’t as much crime drama here as I was expecting and it takes a little time before the action really picks up. But I think the storyline is engaging and Winters does a nice job bringing in Alexei’s backstory and tying things all together.
Limitless is the fifth book in Kate Hawthorne’s Room for Love series, returning us to the small town of Cherry Creek,A Joyfully Jay review.
Limitless is the fifth book in Kate Hawthorne’s Room for Love series, returning us to the small town of Cherry Creek, Colorado (also the site of E.M. Lindsey’s On the Market series). I’m not sure if this fully wraps up Hawthorne’s part of the shared world, but this story does feature the final of the five Motel brothers. Andy has always been an intriguing character, as he is the one brother who did not take their father’s deal for the full inheritance in exchange for living and working Cherry Creek for the year. So while the other brothers have been mainstays in each other’s stories, Andy has remained off page for a lot of the series. So I was really eager to get to know him in this book, and I found him and Leonidas to both be really interesting characters.
The first part of this story has a different tone to the other books, and there is almost a dreamy, languid feel that works very well. It focuses on Leonidas and Andy meeting in France and the early part of their relationship. The men seem to almost exist out of time, to be having this moment where they come together in a passionate rush, before they return to their regular lives. They can’t get enough of each other, and it is all hookups in the rain, and hot Ghost-like pottery making, and bottles of wine in a Parisian garden.