This is a round up of the books I read on the 3rd quarter of this year that I’m too lazy to do a full review.
Hitman vs Hitman: Sniper vs Spotter – Cari Z & L.A. Witt
Mortal-enemies-turned-furniture-breaking-lovers August Morrison and Ricardo Torralba have found a groove that suits them both. They’ve teamed up as hired guns, they live together, and by some miracle, they haven’t killed each other. It’s the closest to normal they’ll ever have, and they love it.
But their guns-and-roses future is thrown into chaos when Ricardo’s past comes crashing into their present. What begins as a favor for an old friend-well, “friend,” but don’t tell August-quickly spirals into something far bigger than they anticipated. Now they’re in way over their heads with powerful people on both sides of the law, and it’s going to take more than snark and explosions to see them through.
Nevertheless, there will be plenty of snark and explosions, because this is August and Ricardo, and no one would expect any less. In between the smoke and sarcasm, though, they are determined to bring an evil operation crashing down… no matter who they have to work with to get the job done.
And no matter who they have to kill.
Sniper vs Spotter is the sequel to the apparently-it-doesn’t-want-to-be-a-standalone Hitman vs Hitman, which absolutely was supposed to be a standalone, but August and Ricardo (predictably) refused to be contained. Our audiobook narrator also shares some of the blame, Michael. So here we are.
Exes in distress shake up the domestic bliss of chaotic idiots in love in this bullets and mayhem romance that begs for more sequels.
Whitethorn Agency: Rare Vigilance – M.A. Grant
Everything has a price. Especially the truth.
From the author of Prince of Air and Darkness comes the first in a thrilling new paranormal series.
Former marine Atlas Kinkaid knows not to ask questions about the clients he protects at the behest of the elite Whitethorn security agency. Just like he doesn’t like anyone asking about his scars—scars left by a mysterious attack that haunts his every waking moment.
Consumed by the need to find out what happened to him, Atlas takes a job providing security to Cristian Slava, the indolent—and gorgeous—son of a notorious businessman. Cristian seems to be just another entitled client, but when nights at the club turn into secret meetings and people start going missing, Atlas realizes there’s more to Cristian—and to protecting him—than meets the eye.
But the same people who are after Cristian have something Atlas desperately craves: they know exactly what happened the fateful night he was attacked—and are willing to tell him everything…
Has all the right ingredients promising thrills that were rarely delivered.
Puckboys: Irresponsible Puckboy – Eden Finley & Saxon James
The worst part of being in love with my straight best friend is the fact he’s too oblivious to see it.
Years of pining have left me exhausted, and I need a break from Dex. I need space to get over my feelings. But when his relationship falls apart and he turns to me for comfort, I cave immediately.
If there’s one thing I hate more than being hurt, it’s seeing Dex struggle. I can’t leave him in a time of need, even if my friends say it’s my biggest downfall.
They say Dexter Mitchale is my weakness, but if that’s true, I don’t want to be strong.
I’ve always been the dumb one. It’s what I’m known for, and usually I don’t let it get to me.
I have hockey, and I have my best friend, Tripp. What more do I need? To settle down? No thank you. Marriage? Hard pass. According to ex-girlfriends, that makes me “irresponsible.”
But the solution I come up with to get over my fear of commitment might be my dumbest idea yet. Not only does it have team management breathing down my neck, but it puts a strain on my friendship with Tripp.
This PR nightmare could lose me the only person I’ve ever loved. Losing girlfriends is nothing. Losing Tripp? It’s not an option.
I’ll do whatever it takes to keep him.
Funny as most of the author duo’s books but plot is run of the mill.
An M/M epic fantasy trilogy by USA Today bestseller R. A. Steffan. It is set in the world of The Eburosi Chronicles, but stands alone. The book contains adult content.
An old soldier in search of redemption.
A condemned prisoner with the power to carve out his heart… or save it.
Caius Oppita has served the Alyrion Empire for more than half his life, watching with growing revulsion as the royal family descends ever deeper into corruption and depravity. Powerless to do more than stand by as the land he loves slides toward civil war and social upheaval, he longs for his days as a general on the battlefield rather than a tame palace lapdog.
When the execution of one of the emperor’s inconvenient bastard sons goes wrong, Caius has a choice to make—do his duty, or do what is right and spirit the innocent man away to safety.
It should have been simple—hide Decian in plain sight for a few days, then smuggle him out of the palace compound. Buy him passage on a ship sailing someplace far away from the capital city, and take quiet pleasure in fighting one single injustice among many.
Instead, the swirling undercurrents of politics and power struggles seem determined to drag them ever deeper into danger—even as Decian guilelessly slips past the armor surrounding Caius’ battered soul. Caius had never considered himself a fool… but only a fool would bed the emperor’s illegitimate son. Much less let the brash young idiot anywhere near his heart.
The problem with secrets is that they breed more secrets.
And betrayal only hurts when you cared in the first place.
Doggedly charmed me with its gruff and gritty tale.
(4.5 stars each)
Blyd and Pearce by Kim Fielding
Born into poverty and orphaned young, Daveth Blyd had one chance for success when his fighting prowess earned him a place in the Tangye city guard—a place he lost to false accusations of theft. Now he scrapes out a living searching for wayward spouses and missing children. When a nobleman offers him a small fortune to find an entertainer who’s stolen a ring, Daveth takes the case.
While Jory Pearce may or may not be a thief, he certainly can’t be trusted. But, enchanted by Jory’s beauty and haunting voice, Daveth soon finds himself caught in the middle of a conspiracy. As he searches desperately for answers, he realizes that he’s also falling for Jory. The two men face river wraiths, assassins, a necromancer, and a talking head that could be Daveth’s salvation on their quest for the truth. But with everyone’s integrity in question and Death eager to dance, Daveth will need more than sorcery to survive.
Entertaining while in the moment but barely remembered after.
Davo – N.R. Walker
When Fergus Galloway takes on a research trip to a tiny mining town in the far Western Australian outback, he’s as far from Sydney as he can get.
Which is entirely the point.
He arrives in Pannalego totally unprepared for the baking heat, unprepared for the people who call it home, unprepared for the craziness and the laughs. And absolutely unprepared for the man he meets there who steals his heart.
Davo is a mining man, as rugged as he is gorgeous. Loves his found family, loves where he lives, and loves his life. He also loves the feel of soft fabric on his skin.
What was supposed to be a short field trip changes Fergus’s life. Going to a place many call uninhabitable might turn out to be the only place he wants to live.
A small mining town in the middle of the blistering Australian desert serves as backdrop to this utterly endearing ode to do-overs and being true to oneself.
Haven Hart: Secret Simon – Davidson King
Being the nephew of one of the most infamous mob bosses in the world isn’t easy. Our family has enemies everywhere, and no one is safe without protection. Here I am at college with a fresh start, a new last name, and secrets hidden from those around me—life is going according to plan. Then one day on campus, I see him…and I want him to strip me bare…in more ways than one.
Abernathy is more than just the university I attend. It’s my destiny, my namesake. Singing and entertaining are who I am, but my father wants me to major in something more appropriate for the name I carry. I’ve resigned myself to being who my father wants, doing what he wants. Then Simon comes into my life…and turns everything upside down. Now I have a reason to fight for what I want.
Who knew our love story would lead to secrets revealed, murderous plots, and finding our forever buried under so many lies? Hopefully we’ll live long enough to see it.
(While Secret Simon is a Haven Hart Novel it is not linked to the 7 book story arc)
It’s no secret Eight holds his own as the beloved Manos heir forges his path in this much-awaited addition to the Haven Hart universe.
Woods Ranch: His Fresh Start Cowboy – A.M. Arthur
From acclaimed author A.M. Arthur comes a tender, sexy cowboy romance, the first in her Woods Ranch series.
Two cowboys will have to risk their hearts—again—to find a home on the ranch.
Hugo Turner’s boots haven’t touched Texas soil in almost a decade, and he’s not sure they should now. Being in the state is complicated, but Hugo can’t resist going back for a job working with his teenage crush. His best friend’s hot older brother is now the ranch’s foreman, so he’ll be Hugo’s boss. Inappropriate? Probably. Will it stop Hugo? Probably not.
Brand Woods isn’t ready for the return of Hugo Turner. He decided long ago to keep his bisexuality private and to focus his life on running the ranch. Working next to the most dangerously tempting man he’s ever known stirs up questions Brand thought he’d put to rest.
The sparks that send their hearts galloping lead to a deeper passion than either man expects. But by giving in to the chemistry without taking a risk and committing to each other—or, more importantly, to themselves and living the lives they’ve always wanted—Brand and Hugo might lose their second chance at true love.
More sleepy than fresh.
Brantley Walker: Off the Books: Mission: All In – Nicole Edwards
Brantley Walker has dedicated his life to fighting for his country. Having given eighteen years to the US Navy, the last ten as a SEAL, the mission was the only thing he knew, the only thing that mattered. He never even considered what life would look like after the mission was over.
Until he’s forced to.
After spending months recovering from career-ending injuries, Brantley finds himself back in his hometown of Coyote Ridge, Texas. Now a permanent resident once again, with the full support of his family and friends, he sets forth to start over, forced to figure out what to do with the rest of his life, which, as it turns out, is far easier said than done.
Then the unthinkable happens.
When his cousin Travis’s daughter goes missing, Brantley puts himself right back in the action, partnering up with Reese Tavoularis to find the little girl and bring her back home where she belongs.
Along the way, Brantley and Reese end up immersed in another mission. Only this one results in a journey that takes them in a direction neither of them expected to go.
Initially in it for the engaging dual narration but turned out to be a bingeable missing persons mystery series.
(4 stars each)
Bad To Be Good – Andrew Grey
Longboat Key, Florida, is about as far from the streets of Detroit as a group of gay former mobsters can get, but threats from within their own organization forced them into witness protection—and a new life.
Richard Marsden is making the best of his second chance, tending bar and learning who he is outside of organized crime… and flirting with the cute single dad, Daniel, who comes in every Wednesday. But much like Richard, Daniel hides dark secrets that could get him killed. When Daniel’s past as a hacker catches up to him, Richard has the skills to help Daniel out, but not without raising some serious questions and risking his own new identity and the friends who went into hiding with him.
Solving problems like Daniel’s is what Richard does best—and what he’s trying to escape. But finding a way to keep Daniel and his son safe without sacrificing the person he’s becoming will take some imagination, and the stakes have never been higher. This time it’s not just lives on the line—it’s his heart….
A rare and engrossing peek at the second lives of people under WITSEC.
Bad To Be Good: Bad To Be Worthy – Andrew Grey
Sometimes Gerome Meadows longs for the excitement of the life he left behind for Witness Protection. But when he stands up to a bully in a bar to protect a homeless man, his past comes very close to home—and it’s no longer what he wants. Tucker Wells has been living in a tent, surviving with the aid of his friend Cheryl and helping her watch over her son. When he winds up on the wrong side of an argument with some dangerous people, his already difficult life is thrown into turmoil. Gerome steps in to find them a temporary apartment, and Tucker is grateful and relieved. Gerome never meant to open the door to trouble. His life and Tucker’s depend on keeping his past a mystery. But as his desire to protect develops into something deeper, he and Tucker will have to evaluate what family means—and hope that their growing feelings pass unimaginable tests.
Does what hurt comfort does best, break the heart and put it back together again.
Valor and Doyle Mysteries: Temporary Partner – Nicky James
Can two rivals work together to solve a case?
When an infant is taken from his carriage in broad daylight, missing persons detective, Quaid Valor, must race against the clock to find the child and bring him safely home to his family. Unfortunately, Quaid’s partner isn’t available, and his team is spread thin. Begrudgingly, Quaid must accept the help from his rival, homicide detective Aslan Doyle, if he wants to get the job done.
Aslan is Quaid’s opposite in every way. He’s bold, outspoken, arrogant, and the office playboy. And much to Quaid’s chagrin, Aslan seems to have set his sights on Quaid as his next conquest.
Quaid doesn’t have time to deal with Aslan’s flirty behavior when he’s trying to solve a case and juggle his cheating ex’s incessant interruptions.
It doesn’t matter how attractive Aslan is or the undeniable chemistry they seem to have. Getting involved with Aslan would be a huge mistake.
But as tension with the case builds, Quaid keeps forgetting he’s supposed to hate this new partner. Maybe Aslan is exactly the kind of distraction he needs.
Temporarily at least.
Hardly anyone here was likable, yet I was permanently glued to the book until the end.
Shadows of London: Trial by Fire – Ariana Nash
The third book in the thrilling Shadows of London series.
Action, MM romance and adventure combine on the streets of London. Time is running out for John “Dom” Domenici.
It’s not just Kempthorne’s secrets bubbling to the surface of London’s streets …
Outmanoeuvred at every turn by the figure known as “M”, only Alexander Kempthorne can free Dom, but juggling the horrors of his own past, containing a rising preternatural threat and the twisted machinations of “M” might just be too much, even for Kempthorne. Can Kage Mitchell be trusted to help?
Alexander Kempthorne lost an agent before. He’ll not lose another. He’ll do anything to save Dom, and if that means revealing who and what he truly is, then his time has come.
Surprised that I was slightly bored with Kempthorne’s much-awaited POV but his adventures with Dom was packed with metaphorical and literal heat.
Life Lessons: Breaking Cover – Kaje Harper
Sometimes a single moment defines a man
For homicide detective Mac, it’s been a good year. Having Tony to go home to makes him a better cop and a better person. For Tony, it’s been hard being in love with a man he can’t touch in public. Evasions and outright lying to friends and family take a little of the shine off his relationship with Mac, but Tony is determined to make it work.
As the Minneapolis Police Department moves into a hot, humid summer, Mac is faced with a different challenge. A killer has murdered two blond women, and the police have no real clues. Mac hates to think that another murder may be the only way they’ll make progress with the case. But when that murder happens, it hits close to home for Tony. And suddenly Mac faces an ultimatum: come out into the sunlight and stand beside Tony as his lover, or walk away and live without a piece of his heart.
While not normally keen on reading about internalized homophobia and parenting woes, Tony and Mac’s story is compelling enough for me to see through to the end.
Life Lessons: Home Work – Kaje Harper
Murder, trauma, and raising children – who said love was easy?
Mac and Tony thought the hard part was over. They’re together openly as a couple, sharing a home and building a life with their two kids. It’s what they dreamed of.
But daughter Anna struggles with the changes, Ben is haunted by old secrets, Mac’s job in Homicide still demands too much of his time, and Tony is caught in the middle. It’ll take everything these men can give to create a viable balance between home and work. Especially when life refuses to give them a break.
A relatively happy book about hard-won domestic bliss shaken by a heartbreaking curveball at the end.
Franklin U: Playing Games – Riley Hart
Tyson Langley thinks the king in Franklin University Kings is in reference to him. Star lacrosse player and God’s gift to the female and male population, there’s nothing the spoiled jock can’t have.
It’s impossible for us to be in the same room without talking crap to each other. But I also have a secret… As much as I despise Ty, I want him too. I revel in our banter and in never knowing what he’ll say next.
I’ve spent too much time on the wrong side of the law for someone like Ty, though, and if I want to make it through college and escape my past, he’s a distraction I don’t need.
Braxton Walker needs to learn to lighten up. If you search brooding online, his name pops up. He’s the bad boy with a leather jacket and a scowl. We couldn’t be more different.
Finding ways to annoy him is like the longest foreplay session of my life. And when we end up working together, it gets harder to deny how hot he makes me.
What’s a little hooking up between enemies?
We weren’t supposed to become friends or share secrets. We weren’t supposed to understand each other and all the complicated stuff we’re going through.
I’m used to playing games, only the more time I spend with Brax, the less it feels like playing around and the more it becomes something real.