This is a round up of the books I read on the 4rd quarter of this year that I’m too lazy to do a full review.
Valor and Doyle: Elusive Relations – Nicky James
Life was easier when rival detectives, Quaid and Aslan, kept to their own side of the building. They could forget that one glorious night they shared and move on.
But when Aslan is called to a homicide and discovers one of the victims has a personal history with Quaid, he knows a confrontation is inevitable.
When news about the case spreads, Quaid can’t help but get involved. He wants answers, if not for himself, then for the families of the victims.
Joining ranks with Aslan and his partner, Quaid uncovers more than he bargained for. Too many secrets and lies. This case is dangerously personal.
Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea after all.
Plus, the more time he spends with Aslan, the harder it is for Quaid to ignore the attraction they share.
Playboy Aslan, who doesn’t believe in repeats, can’t seem to stop flirting and bantering with the grumpy MPU detective, and his rules go out the window as they’re drawn deeper into the case.
But what happens when one more night turns to two, then two turns to three?
Does Quaid want to risk his heart again?
Has Aslan developed an emotion?
Can they put a stop to their fun and walk away?
But the real question is, do they want to?
It’s all about closure and moving forward in this police procedural with difficult characters, painful angst and compelling writing.
Valor and Doyle: Unstable Connections by Nicky James
Missing children are reappearing, and ties to a thirty-year-old cold case can’t be ignored.
Between his shaky, brand-new relationship with reformed office playboy Detective Aslan Doyle, his sister’s case going from cold to hot overnight, his father insisting on being involved, and his boss breathing down his neck, Detective Quaid Valor is on edge.
The stress of the case is impacting Quaid’s whole life. He isn’t eating or sleeping, and every time he and Aslan are together, he is overwhelmed by feelings of inadequacy, which threaten to ruin the one good thing he has. Aslan’s patience seems unending until something happens to turn his life upside down too.
Can their relationship survive the personal and professional pressures they’re facing, or will it crash and burn?
Between media rumors and unstable connections, Quaid and his team need to work quickly to piece together a complicated case before more children fall victim to their unknown serial kidnapper. Maybe once everything is solved, Aslan and Quaid will have time to work on their rocky relationship and find stable ground once again.
By-the-books Quaid’s insecurities and a very personal MPU case rocked already fragile relationships while notorious playboy Aslan surprised me by winning boyfriend of the year.
Thief in the Night by K.J. Charles
Toby never meant to be a highway robber, but needs must. He didn’t plan to impersonate a top London valet either, but when the chance comes to present himself as the earl of Arvon’s new gentleman’s gentleman, he grabs it. Unfortunately, the earl is the man he seduced and robbed on the road to get here. Oops.
Miles, Lord Arvon, is not impressed. But he’s faced with a tumbledown home and lost family fortune, and desperate times call for desperate measures. Toby—shameless, practical, and definitely desperate—may be just the man he needs.
To steal back a priceless bracelet, that is. What else were you thinking?
Good in the way K.J. Charles works are almost always good and that’s pretty much all I can say about it.
Rath & Rune: Unseen – Jordan L. Hawk
Librarian Sebastian Rath and his lover Vesper Rune are tasked with seeking and containing the evil Books of the Bound. But one of the Books has been freed from its prison—and is in the hands of a killer.
As more bodies turn up, Sebastian finds himself tempted to use forbidden magic to locate the Book and stop the murderer. And when an unexpected connection to the necromancers who created the Books is revealed, Sebastian must choose just how far he’ll go to right the wrongs of the past—even if it means endangering his own future.
I’ve seen more outstanding Jordan L. Hawk books but I’ll still rate this one between good to better.
Fox Hollow Zodiac: Huntsman – Morgan Brice
A grieving wolf. A hunted fox. Fated mates, thrown together by chance, and the looming threat of a fabled Huntsman who might tear them apart forever.
Fox shifter Liam Reynard is running from a killer. He uproots his life to find sanctuary in Fox Hollow, deep in the Adirondack Forest in New York.
When his car breaks down, sexy wolf shifter Russ Lowe comes to the rescue, and one touch makes it clear they’re fated mates. Neither man was looking for love, and both are still mending from past heartbreak. When mysterious fires and disappearances threaten Fox Hollow, Liam fears the killer is hot on his trail. Can he protect the town and his fated mate from the evil hunting him, or will an ex-lover’s betrayal cost Liam everything he loves?
Huntsman is full of sexy shifters, hurt/comfort, second chance love, sincere psychics, hot first responders, found family, and fated mates. Intended for readers 18 years of age or older.
Not my favorite Morgan Brice, though it still managed to capture interest.
Perfect Play: Dead Draw – Layla Reyne
When a marriage of convenience is the only play left…
Special Agent Emmitt Marshall knows how to:
Wear a cowboy hat.
Win at chess.
Fall in love with emotionally unavailable men.
He even knows the perfect play to catch the terrorists who killed his mentor.
Special Agent Levi Bishop doesn’t know how to:
Move on after his wife’s death.
Help his grieving son.
Pay off his mountain of debt.
Fix the mess some cowboy cyber agent made of his case.
The same cowboy who proposes a marriage of convenience to stop a common enemy.
Marsh is either the answer to Levi’s prayers—or a handsome nightmare in a Stetson.
Levi doesn’t know.
But both men do know their cases and lives are at a dead draw.
There’s only one play left…
Layla Reyne returns with an all-new m/m romantic suspense series featuring a cocky hacker with a heart of gold, a widowed father who needs so much help, and a plan only a cowboy could cook up. Grab your hat, hold tight to the reins, beware of the cliffs, and enjoy the ride!
The marriage for convenience plan was a bit far-fetch and the cases convoluted, yet this gritty romantic suspense played its pieces most effectively.
Dr. Maxwell Thornton Murder Mystery: Scalpels & Psychopaths – S.C. Wynne
I assumed the worst I’d have to endure at a boring birthday party was cheap champagne, and dull conversation. Murder never crossed my mind.
After three months of struggling to fit into the small town of Rainy Dale, Texas, Maxwell Thornton is once again thrown into the middle of a murder investigation. While attending Mayor Penelope Granger’s birthday party, he and Royce are witnesses to the cold blooded murder of her father.
Seeing as he’s sheriff, Royce has no choice but to get involved in solving the murder, but he’d prefer Maxwell stay at a safe distance. Maxwell would prefer that too, but when an attempt in made on his life, he’s unwillingly sucked into the case.
When Maxwell moved to Rainy Dale, he’d hoped for a new beginning. But after two attempts on his life, and his unnerving emotional attachment to Royce, more and more Maxwell wonders if staying in Rainy Dale is the logical choice. Perhaps it’s time to run back to Los Angeles, where he can keep his body, and his heart, safe.
The snooty fish-out-water doctor and his genial sheriff continue to make waves with this engrossing murder mystery.
Hostile – Nicole Dykes
Life has been easy for me. Top of my class. Star quarterback of the football team. Every guy wants to be my friend, and every girl wants to date me.
Yeah, life is pretty sweet.
Except it’s not.
It’s all fake. School comes too easy for me, and I’m bored. Football isn’t fun anymore. The guys I hang out with aren’t really my friends.
And the girls? I don’t want to date them.
The only one I want to date . . . He’s a little bit . . . hostile.
Life has never been easy for me. A foster kid, lucky enough to be adopted as a teen but who still can’t find a way to be happy.
I have two best friends who are amazing and supportive, and yet, I can’t bring myself to tell them my biggest secret.
Parents who pay for a private school a kid like me could never have dreamed of . . . that I hate.
It feels all wrong when it should feel right.
And I guess . . . that’s made me nothing but . . . hostile.
Standard new adult enemies-to-lovers romance with winning execution.
Bethesda Barracudas Hockey: Nice Catching You – Ryan Taylor & Joshua Harwood
What happens when the No. 1 college hockey star in the country falls in love—with a man?
Nick Johnson, a top prospect for a pro hockey team, has a secret: he’s gay. Tired of living in the closet for the sport he loves, he sees no way out.
Jacob Meyer’s string of bad boyfriends left him cynical about love. Instead, he focuses on his studies as a third-year law student. With a new job waiting for him, he’s eager to graduate and move on.
On a school-sponsored trip, Nick and Jacob meet in a most unexpected way. When Nick tells Jacob his secret, they decide to hang out, just as friends. But their attraction is too strong to ignore, and they soon begin dating.
Since Nick is a big man on campus, it doesn’t take long for people to notice his attachment to Jacob. All hell breaks loose when the relationship gets out. As the national media descends, university officials try to figure out how to solve their “problem.” Their efforts divide Nick’s team, inflame fans, and put Nick and Jacob’s futures in jeopardy. Will the men be able to survive a plot to destroy them without derailing both their careers?
Nice Catching You is an out-for-you romance featuring a lot of love, exciting hockey, and a beautiful holiday. There’s also plenty of steam and a very happy ending.
Cute but Jacob harping on Nick’s coming out plans made this less of a catch than it otherwise would have been
Double Trouble: Doubling Down – L.A. Witt & Cari Z
Hacker Leotrim Nicolosi and Deputy Marshal Rich Cody may have escaped a vengeful crime boss by the skin of their teeth, but they’re not out of danger yet. With the mob’s tentacles embedded in everything from local law enforcement to federal agencies, the guys are running low on allies.
Rich has one ace up his sleeve—the men who had his back in warzones during his time in the Marines. When he sends out a distress call, the cavalry comes running. Heavily armed, highly trained, and fully provisioned, they hunker down in a buddy’s missile silo, ready to make a stand against whatever the Grimaldi family sends after Rich and Leo.
Leo isn’t so sure about the Marines, though. He trusts Rich, but something isn’t right, and he’s not a gambling man when his life is on the line. The Marines aren’t so sure they trust him, either, and Rich suddenly finds himself in a standoff between the men he’s bled with and the man he’s quickly falling for.
Now they’re running out of time to either find the turncoat among them or get on the same side.
Because the Grimaldi family is coming, and this time they’re bringing out the big guns.
Doubling Down is the sequel to Double or Nothing, and is the conclusion to the Double Trouble duology.
More trouble than its more worthy predecessor.
The Malvagio Duet: Forbidden Mafia Prince – Brooke Blaine & Ella Frank
“What are you going to do with me?”
“Whatever the hell I want.”
In Manhattan, tensions are rising.
In a play for power, the Rossetti family has made a decisive blow, crippling their rivals—an act that has forced the Fiores to make a desperate move to maintain their supremacy.
Many miles away, Luca Davis, a young medical student, has no idea his life is about to change.
No idea that everything he’s been told about his life has been a lie.
Enter Domenico Rossetti, the ruthless Mafia prince. Powerful and unforgiving, he’s a savage in a suit—and the one who holds the cards when it comes to his new captive.
But when the war escalates and both are forced into seclusion, the two men are faced with a new threat: the rising sexual tension between them.
You don’t fall for the one person you’re supposed to hate, but it’s a temptation neither can resist.
Because falling in love with the enemy isn’t only wrong—it’s forbidden.
And the cost for defying everyone will be their lives.
Forbidden Mafia Prince is the first book in USA Today Bestselling Authors Brooke Blaine and Ella Frank’s M/M mafia romance duet.
Super intense writing but lukewarm on the Stockholm Syndrome/forbidden love angle.
Franklin U: The Dating Disaster – Saxon James
Thousands of students on this campus, and I keep being set up with the roommate I can’t stand.
That’s how long it takes for Marshall Harrows to end up on my bad side.
Luckily I have no plans to see the giant teddy bear again. Except, when he shows up as my new roommate, I can’t escape him, and he’s just as irritating as I thought he’d be.
He leaves cupboards ajar and puts empty milk cartons back in the fridge. His bedroom door is always open, I find his underwear on the laundry floor, and he has this whole bashful sweetheart thing going on that I just … can’t … stand.
But the most completely, horribly irritating thing about him, is that he’s totally my type.
And my friends won’t stop setting us up on blind dates.
That’s how long it took for Felix Andrews to steal my heart.
The sparky little spitfire is everything I’m not. Confident, adorable, and completely outspoken.
He also wants nothing to do with me. Which is a real problem when I want to give him everything. Including my virginity.
But the more I try to gain his attention, the more I see the real him. The one who doesn’t feel worthy of being treated like anything other than a one-night stand. So I decide to take matters into my own hands.
A total do-over. One night. One date. Where hopefully I can steal his heart too.
Sad to say this was more a disastrous slog than the fluffy cute I was expecting.
Carlisle Cops – Andrew Grey
Carlisle Cops: Book One
Officer Red Markham knows about the ugly side of life after a car accident left him scarred and his parents dead. His job policing the streets of Carlisle, PA, only adds to the ugliness, and lately, drug overdoses have been on the rise. One afternoon, Red is dispatched to the local Y for a drowning accident involving a child. Arriving on site, he finds the boy rescued by lifeguard Terry Baumgartner. Of course, Red isn’t surprised when gorgeous Terry won’t give him and his ugly mug the time of day.
Overhearing one of the officer’s comments about him being shallow opens Terry’s eyes. Maybe he isn’t as kindhearted as he always thought. His friend Julie suggests he help those less fortunate by delivering food to the elderly. On his route he meets outspoken Margie, a woman who says what’s on her mind. Turns out, she’s Officer Red’s aunt.
Red and Terry’s worlds collide as Red tries to track the source of the drugs and protect Terry from an ex-boyfriend who won’t take no for an answer. Together they might discover a chance for more than they expected—if they can see beyond what’s on the surface.
Moving and immersive hurt comfort gems.
(4 stars each)
Black Veil: Emperor of Dragons – Davidson King
Peace has descended on Black Veil once more, and hope is on the horizon.
Until a new threat arises…
Emil is the head of security, first line of defense for Cain and Black Veil. He takes great pride in his job, is fully prepared to sacrifice everything in order to keep everyone he cares about safe and the world from crumbling. But the Tritons and Sirens have approved a treaty, and the dragons will most likely agree to allow vampires to use their blood for sustenance and protection once again, so all is as it should be. Then Emil meets the emperor of dragons, and his life goes from calm to chaotic in the blink of an eye—loyalty and love now battle for dominance in his head.
Aldrich is the emperor of dragons, and he cannot afford to make mistakes. He and his clans enter Black Veil in the hopes that The Blood Boss will join them in the fight to save his family. Aldrich is ready to lay down his life and for anything else thrown his way—except the crystal-eyed vampire who immediately captures his interest. Emil is everything he has always wanted and would never dare dream of, and when all he holds dear is threatened, it’s Emil who keeps his dragon grounded.
When unimaginable dangers swarm into Black Veil, the vampires and dragons join forces and call upon every living creature in Black Veil to defeat the enemy. While love blooms, lives perish, all to fight a war against the darkness threatening to consume the world. Will Emil and Aldrich claim victory and have their happily ever after, or are they doomed to an eternity apart?
This fast-paced, highly entertaining paranormal romance could use more depth, dragons, and dark fairies.
The Kings of Men MC: King’s Barber – M.D. Gregory
The Undercover Assassin
Quain Beaumont is paid to kill people and he’s good at it. When he’s contracted, for a hefty sum, to protect a district attorney’s son in New Gothenburg, he can’t say no. However, he doesn’t expect Barber to be such an attractive pain in the ass. Complicating matters, Barber is part of the Kings of Men MC. He can’t risk a romantic attraction to a target, but Barber’s charm makes it hard not to fall into bed with him.
The Shit-Stirring Biker
There’s nothing more exciting to Luke “Barber” Booth than pulling pranks and causing problems. The reactions he gets out of people keep his days interesting, even if it sometimes results in fist fights with his club brothers. His next-door business neighbor is no different. Quain is uptight, so Barber takes pleasure in annoying him, which ensures nearly daily visits from Quain to the barber shop. Quain might be a whiny hairstylist, but he’s beautiful. Barber is only too happy to take a bite out of him.
An Attempted Murder and Confessions
When there’s an attempt on Barber’s life, Quain does what he’s been paid to do—protect him—but Barber’s uncle and cousin are kidnapped instead. In order to set things right, Quain must admit the truth to Barber about his undercover status and assignment. To Barber’s disgust, they need to work together to get his family back. By the end of this mess, it’s not only their lives at risk, but their hearts, too.