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    SERIES REVIEW: The Elite by Brooke Blaine & Ella Frank

    The Elite: Danger Zone – Brooke Blaine & Ella Frank

    The Elite: Need For Speed – Brooke Blaine & Ella Frank

    The Elite: Classified – Brooke Blaine & Ella Frank

    They train to serve their country.
    They strive to be the best.
    But only a select few can be …
    The Elite

    * * *

    MATTEO MORGAN
    CALL SIGN: SOLO


    Reckless, arrogant, and bold, Solo is as known in the U.S. Navy for his bad-boy reputation as he is for his skills as a fighter pilot. It’s a surprise to his peers, then, when he’s chosen to train and compete at the most prestigious naval aviation academy in the world.

    MISSION RULES:
    1. Kick everyone’s ass.
    2. Do whatever it takes to win.
    3. Do your best to distract the competition.
    4. Especially when that competition is a gorgeous blue-eyed perfectionist who makes your blood run hot.

    * * *

    GRANT HUGHES
    CALL SIGN: PANTHER


    Disciplined, smart, and confident, Panther can’t afford not to play by the rules. As the son of a top Navy commander, all eyes are on him, and being anything less than number one is unacceptable.

    MISSION RULES:
    1. Keep it safe in the air.
    2. Prove you’re more than Commander Hughes’s son.
    3. No distractions. Stay focused.
    4. Don’t fall for your competition—especially not the rebellious heartbreaker with lips made for sinning.

    In the heat of the hot California sun, tempers flare and desires ignite as Solo and Panther try to resist their attraction while fighting to be number one.
    With passion this intense, the question remains:
    Who’s gonna come out on top?


    I was in grade school the last time I watched Top Gun so I never realized how gay it was until I saw the gifs. So gay that even if I couldn’t stand Tom Cruise, I had to ship Maverick and Iceman.

    When this series flew in my radar, halle-fucking-luyah!

    The Elite are the best of the best fighter pilots gunning for the number 1 spot. They compete for several grueling weeks. Top of the leaderboard are the reckless daredevil Matteo Morgan aka Solo, and by-the-book golden boy Grant Hughes aka Panther.

    To their fellow pilots, these two very different men were bitter rivals. Unbeknownst to all, Solo was doing his damnedest to get into Panther’s pants.

    Solo locked on to Panther the moment the other man walked into a bar right before their training began. Both were unaware of who the other was. The attraction was mutual but the closeted Panther turned him down. And continued to turn him down as their training progressed. Solo couldn’t be deterred.

    This is the part where Solo was annoying. I almost dropped the book because Panther had said no several times. Even if somebody was obviously interested, it’s still not cool to harass them when they already said no. I even expected him to get punched through his teeth. But the thing with Solo, he could be the most annoying bastard ever existed, you’ll still feel drawn to him (as Panther no doubt felt). And he was funny.

    Panther, on the other hand, exudes a tall, dark, commanding presence much like his namesake. He’s keeping cool under pressure but a certain relentless, out and proud pilot is making him to break all the rules.

    Panther and Solo, they are fire and kerosene. It’s like the authors took those palpable USTs from the movie and ignited them, bringing to life all those subtexts Hollywood was too cowardly to show explicitly. The tension continued to be intense from start to finish, fueled by the combustible energy between the MCs.

    There are three books in the series. It’s really one long story story chopped into cliffhangers. This style is a hit or miss in my experience. There’s the issue of lack of substance for the installments. Happily, each book in The Elite held solid weight, chronicling the evolution of Panther and Solo’s relationship and highlighting several conflicts and milestones.

    The Elite might primarily be romance but it definitely didn’t slack off on the action. It gave us all the breathtaking jet plane maneuvers, all the cocky attitudes, the smack talk, the constant one-up-manship, the homoerotic volleyball games, the sun, the beach, the adrenaline in land and air. Everything we loved about the movie but way, way better because these fighter pilots ride each other’s tail.

    This Top-Gun homage is a dream come true. Thank you Brooke Blaine & Ella Frank for making it happened.

    Rating:
    4.5 Stars – perfection is only half a step away

    Soundtrack: Dangerous Animals
    Artist: Arctic Monkeys
    Album: Humbug

    Soundtrack: High Speed
    Artist: Coldplay
    Album: Parachutes

    Soundtrack: Cool With You
    Artist: Hers
    Album: Songs of Hers


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    DANGER ZONE | NEED FOR SPEED | CLASSIFIED

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    REVIEW: Headlines by Ella Frank

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    Prime Time: Headlines by Ella Frank

    USA TODAY bestselling author Ella Frank concludes the story of Sean Bailey and Alexander “Xander” Thorne in Headlines.

    Xander

    If I had to describe Sean Bailey, it would be as the sexy, caring, wonderful man I’ve gone and fallen in love with. I never could’ve imagined a world where he was my everything. But with each passing day, the connection between us grows stronger, and the idea of a world without him is something I can’t imagine.

    But Sean’s love doesn’t come without complications. As the older brother of my lifelong best friend, this new love has caused relationships to break down and communication to become stilted, and the one question that remains is: am I willing to give up the love and friendship of one for the chance of love and forever with another?

    Sean
    I didn’t mean to fall in love with Alexander Thorne, my brother’s ex and the number one prime-time news anchor in the country. I mean, no one could’ve seen that coming—least of all me. But that’s exactly what happened over these past couple of months: I fell in love.

    That’d be complicated enough, I suppose, but Xander? Well, he fell in love with me too, and while it’s caused some major upset in the dynamics around here, I have to believe that a love this real can only lead to somewhere amazing.

    This thing between us started out as a job, a friend helping out a friend. But after playing the role of Xander’s boyfriend, I find myself wanting the job full-time, because neither of us are playing anymore.

    Headlines is the final book of the Prime Time Series and should only be read after book one, Inside Affair, and book two, Breaking News.


    I was drawn to Prime Time because of its spectacular premise about an out and proud news anchor and his surly, straight detective bodyguard who’s also the big brother of his ex boyfriend cum best friend. It’s a fabulous setup that grabbed me immediately with its enemies to lovers, opposites attract, gay for you scenario.

    And the first book, Inside Affair held true to it’s promise. I was extremely wowed! However, the author tends to end her books with cliffhangers. This would have been okay had the succeeding books offer substantial plots to merit a separate volume.

    The second installment, Breaking News, moved the romance forward several notches. The rest of the book were non-events that weren’t adding anything to the story. It also ended with a cliffhanger.

    Headlines picked up on the aftermath of Sean’s younger brother Bailey finding out about his best friend and big brother. Bailey felt hurt and betrayed that the two important people in his life did not tell him about their relationship.

    Personally, I think this Bailey issue was dragged out for too long. I understand why he reacted that way but story-wise, I think this could have been resolved sooner.

    There’s not much I can say about Headlines because, again, there’s not much going on. There was a mini thread where Sean and Xander were splashed on the tabloids. I appreciated that the author did not make it into a coming out issue.

    However, it was also kind of blah because Xander immediately realized who leaked the story to the press. That it was a person he worked closely with and trusted should have been a bigger deal but it was treated as a non-event.

    I am of the opinion that the entire series could have been done as one book. Removing the fillers, all the essential plot points combined could have made it into a delicious, suspenseful slow-burn story bursting with USTs, snarky banter and first time gay revelations. Sadly, this third offering did not quite capture the magic of that wonderful opener.

    On the upside, Sean and Xander were really good together. There was an almost break up courtesy of Sean’s self-sacrificing nature but Xander kept his head. They remained solid throughout the Bailey debacle. The way they went from strength to strength as a couple and me rooting for their HEA was what kept me reading.

    The part that brought Headlines up to a 3-star rating was the epilogue. It was a lovely tribute and I think it was the perfect way to end the series.

    So do I recommend Prime Time?

    Yes, if you want to witness Sean and Xander’s beautiful romance. This was what made it worth sticking with them until the end.

    No, if you hate cliffhangers or are looking for a trilogy with solid sequels.

    P.S.

    The Prime Time books are not standalones. Check out my reviews of the first two books:
    Inside Affair by Ella Frank (4.5 stars)
    Breaking News by Ella Frank (3 stars)

    Rating:
    3 Stars – not exactly setting my world on fire but I liked it

    Soundtrack: Alan
    Artist: Perfume Genius
    Album: No Shape


    If you like my content, please consider using my Amazon affiliate links below to get your copy of Prime Time. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying Amazon purchases at no additional cost to you.

    You can also use my Bookshop affiliate links to buy paperback copies and help support independent bookstores.

    INSIDE AFFAIR | BREAKING NEWS | HEADLINES

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    REVIEW: Breaking News by Ella Frank

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    Prime Time: Breaking New – Ella Frank

    Breaking News is the continuation of Xander and Sean’s story and should only be read after book one, Inside Affair.

    Xander

    Sean Bailey, the older brother of my lifelong best friend, has always been a surly, temperamental pain in my ass. But sometime during the last few weeks, I’ve gone and fallen head over heels for him.

    Gruff and charming, charismatic in his own way, I’ve found myself looking past my preconceptions and discovered a whole new side to Detective Dick—a side I could fall in love with.

    But life isn’t always easy—it can change course in the blink of an eye. Sometimes for the good and sometimes for the bad. I know this because last night I experienced both sides.

    I went to Sean for help in guarding my body; what I didn’t expect was for him to steal my heart. 


    Like many readers, I was excited to delve into this Prime Time sequel as we were left with one heck of a cliffhanger in Inside Affair. Like some of them, I expected more. This review echos their reactions.

    Breaking News picks up right after that momentous awards ceremony where the stalker finally decided to make his move.

    While I am ecstatic that Xander and Sean lost none of their magical chemistry, there was really nothing earth-shaking happening in the story. Not that that I was bored, more like the story was ‘just there’ and wasn’t really grabbing me.

    I felt it would have done the overall presentation a whole lot of good if the entire series was one book instead of chopping it to 3 volumes. Cliffhangers are Ella Frank‘s thing and which, I believe does work wonders if executed properly. However, Breaking News felt like we were dropped smack in the middle of a story that was just there to set up the next big event.

    On the upside, Xander and Sean took their relationship to a higher level. Sean really stepped up his game here! And boy did he ace it. Not only risking his life to save Xander but also making sure he was emotionally okay too after the trauma.

    Xander was okay for the most part, but had panic attacks triggered by unexpected noises. Sean takes him to his secret getaway to recuperate and woos him with an outdoor spa and a sky full of stars. It was all very romantic until sophisticated, city boy Xander was jumped on by a teeny tiny frog. All hell broke loose…

    So yeah, romance-wise, things are pretty spectacular. Xander and Sean still has one of my favorite gay-for-you stories out there. The way they sync together was almost flawless. I loved the way they continue to discover new things about each other. It’s amazing how a person they knew their whole life could surprise them in so many ways. The book really did a great job highlighting that.

    Overall, I got that middle book feels mixed in with a wonderful relationship development. This ends with another cliffhanger but one I already expected so it wasn’t that shocking.

    I love this series, most especially the characters so I am looking forward to the third book. Xander and Sean went from fake to real to intense and now they just need to let the rest of the world know. The rest of the world a.k.a. Bailey a.k.a. Sean’s lil bro a.k.a. Xander’s bestfriend a.k.a. ex. If only it’s that easy…

    “Thank you for showing me the real you. I had no idea what I was missing.”

    “And what was that?”

    “Someone truly magnificent.”

    P.S.

    The books end in cliffhangers so Prime Time is best experienced as a binge read. Find out where it all started and check out my review of Inside Affair, book one of Prime Time, here.

    Rating:
    3 Stars – not exactly setting my world on fire but I liked it

    Soundtrack: I’ll Maybe Let You
    Artist: The Irrepressibles
    Album: Mirror Mirror


    If you like my content, please consider using my Amazon affiliate links below to get your copy of Prime Time. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying Amazon purchases at no additional cost to you.

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    REVIEW: Inside Affair by Ella Frank

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    Prime Time: Inside Affair – Ella Frank

    Xander
    If I had to describe Sean Bailey, it would be: a surly, temperamental pain in my ass. Never in that equation would I ever include the word boyfriend—and not just because he’s straight.

    The older brother of my life-long best friend, Sean is a detective for the Chicago PD, and is also known as Detective “Dick” for being…well, a surly, temperamental pain in everyone’s ass. He also happens to be the best they have, which is why I find myself on his doorstep the night my life is threatened by an anonymous stalker.

    I only wanted the name of a bodyguard; I didn’t expect for Sean to volunteer for the job. Now, not only do I have a bodyguard, I also have a fake boyfriend.

    Sean
    It must be so hard to be Alexander Thorne, the number one prime-time news anchor in the country, with millions of dollars and a car that costs more than my house. I mean, I’m allowed to give him a hard time about it, but when some creep decides to cross the line and go after him, they’re gonna have to answer to me.

    Going undercover has never been an issue in the past, so I don’t see why there’d be a problem now. Xander and I have known each other for years, so this should be a breeze. Except suddenly my stomach’s flipping when he looks my way, and my body comes alive whenever he brushes by me. I know I’m good at my job and playing a character and all, but this is getting out of hand.

    I can’t be sure that either of us are playing anymore.


    It’s those times where you tried this and that and nothing sticks. It’s the dreaded slump! It was only when I read the reviews for Inside Affair that I knew this is the book that will bring me out of it. Thank you GR friends for bringing this book to my attention.

    The moment I started reading, I couldn’t put it down. I enjoyed it so much I was very tempted to blow off work and just read.

    This series opener had all the right ingredients. We have two antagonistic MCs, not quite enemies, just two people who barely tolerated each other. Throw in a stalker, a fake relationship, a bodyguard gig, lots of zingers and you got a winner.

    The banter between Sean and Xander had me chuckling all the way. They say all kinds of annoying shit, trying to get a rise out of the other. Sometimes, they hit a particularly sensitive nerve and things get ugly.

    Then… they started noticing each other.

    Bam!

    USTs explode!

    This had the kind of expert execution that makes gay-for-you tropes so delicious. Not to mention the fake to real transition came about so naturally it left no room for doubts. The progression was a lovely slow-burn that kept anticipation high and made the feels so damn good. The aha moment was very satisfying as unfolds most especially because they had known each other for most of their lives but hadn’t really look.

    And so Xander was like, “But this is Sean!!!”

    Sean who was his bestfriend and ex, Bailey’s annoying big brother.

    Sean who so grumpy they called him Detective Dick.

    Sean who was straight and yet…

    Sean who never even imagined that Xander lived in a castle with rotating floors.

    Xander whose eyes, Sean suddenly realized, were a gorgeous shade of green

    Xander whose face was so blinding, Sean could see nothing but him.

    Now they know.

    P.S.

    Just a heads up: Inside Affair ends with somebody bleeding and fate unknown. Best to wait until all the books are released if you are not of fan of cliffhangers.

    Rating:
    4.5 Stars – perfection is only half a step away

    Soundtrack: Your Body Changes Everything
    Artist: Perfume Genius
    Album: Set My Heart On Fire Immediately

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    FIRST LINES FRIDAY 56: We Need To Talk

    First Line Fridays” is by Hoarding Books and is all about the first line of a current/upcoming read. Friday 56 is a meme hosted by Freda’s Voice, where you turn to page 56 (or 56%) in what you’re reading a find a snippet that jumps out at you. The idea to combine the two came from Kat @ Here There Be Dragons

    I found this meme on The Writerly Way. And I’m doing this on a Thursday just to be difficult.

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    PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE (July 15, 2020)

    Found this tag on Chelle’s Book Ramblings . It’s simple and fun. I thought I would put my own spin on it and make it a weekly thing.

    Original Rules

    • Find a book published 10+ years ago.
    • Find a book that will be published THIS year.
    • Find a book that will be published NEXT year.

    Some slight revision of the rules:

    • Find a book published 10+ years ago
    • Find a book that will be published THIS month.
    • Find a book that will be published NEXT month.
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    PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE (June 17, 2020)

    found this tag on Chelle’s Book Ramblings . It’s simple and fun. I thought I would put my own spin on it and make it a weekly thing.

    Original Rules

    • Find a book published 10+ years ago.
    • Find a book that will be published THIS year.
    • Find a book that will be published NEXT year.

    Some slight revision of the rules:

    • Find a book published 10+ years ago
    • Find a book that will be published THIS month.
    • Find a book that will be published NEXT month.
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    PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE (March 18, 2020)

    I found this tag on Chelle’s Book Ramblings . It’s simple and fun. I thought I would put my own spin on it and make it a weekly thing.

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