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    AUDIO REVIEW: The Night Of by Tal Bauer

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    The Night Of – Tal Bauer

    You’ve heard this story before: a guy supposedly kills himself, but his best friend can’t accept it. He calls in an investigator he knows to take a second look, certain there’s more going on.

    I’m the investigator. Secret Service Agent Sean Avery. The guy who called me? My ex, Vice President Jonathan Sharp. And the guy he doesn’t believe put a bullet in his brain?

    That was President Steven Baker.

    The deeper I dig, the more things fall apart. I’ve got a dead president inside a locked room. A hidden note. A secret gun. A missing CIA officer.

    And no one I can trust.

    Now Jonathan’s in the crosshairs, and if I don’t figure out what really happened that night at Camp David, the love of my life might be the next president to die.

    ***This M/M romantic suspense features smoldering forbidden love and a May/December second chance romance that ignites your pages.


    I’m not too keen on politicians as the love interest but the premise for The Night Of intrigued me right away. Secret Service Agent Sean Avery is doing night patrols at the G8 Summit. All while trying really hard not to think about that fateful night exactly one year ago. The night he spent with Jonathan Sharp, the VPOTUS.

    It was a drunken night he barely remembered, but Sean was convinced he fucked up so bad he really should be in jail. His angsting was interrupted by a gunshot and a dead president. The next thing he knew, he was called by the VPOTUS, now POTUS, to investigate if it was indeed suicide or murder.

    The case was a locked door mystery and a damn good one. Sean’s investigation had him involved in federal pissing contests and unearthed evidence that cast him and Jonathan in a suspicious light,

    The book had one heck of a twisty turny plot that kept me on the edge of my seat. Although I had my suspicions regarding a certain well-placed individual, it kept me guessing until the third act. This was when Sean’s spidey senses started tingling around this person as well.

    The WHO might be relatively easy to suss out but the WHY and the HOW was what made the mystery so clever. Things came to a head, in the Oval Office no less. It was such a super intense, super suspenseful climactic scene, I held my breath the entire time.

    The book deals with a lot of heightened emotions that jumped off the page. The grief was almost unbearable. The way the writing and narrator John Solo brilliantly portrayed it, I deeply felt how devastated Jonathan and the First Widow were.

    The aga-gap, second chance romance between Sean and Jonathan was beautiful and tender. I loved how the two men were both strong and vulnerable. Sean may smart-mouth his way around his colleagues, but it’s easy to see how badly shaken he was to have a president die under his watch. It was also easy to see how much he loves Jonathan.

    Jonathan making Sean coffee exactly the way he likes, even after That Night!, slayed Sean. Jonathan, stoic ex-military general and new POTUS, giving his trust, his heart, himself to Sean, slayed me! ♡✧。 (◍>◡<◍⋈)。✧♡

    My favorite part was Sean counting how many times he could make the famously unsmiling Jonathan smile.

    Almost no one could make him smile, but damn it, I had. I’d felt like the biggest man in the whole damn world the first time I’d teased a smile out of him. It was the first time my heart had stutter-stepped, too, the first time I’d realized I was fucked. But not as fucked as that night, when—

    This part had the reader guessing about that night a year ago. Why is Sean beating himself up over it? What exactly did he do that he feels guilty Jonathan was still so nice to him after all this time?

    For their confrontation scene alone, I highly recommend experiencing this story as an audiobook. John Solo is a narrator who takes you inside the story and his portrayal of this particular scene was sublime!

    The way he emoted Sean’s self-flagellation with such rawness, the way he voiced Jonathan’s response with such vulnerability, that scene felt so real. It was like I was there in the Oval Office with them. And the way he portrayed the love scenes, lowering his voice to a whisper, he gave them an intimacy most narrators don’t bother to do. I was struck with the odd feeling of wanting to give them privacy.

    The Night Of is Tal Bauer doing what he does best, gripping romantic suspense that breaks the heart into pieces and puts it back together again. The audiobook is the perfect marriage of writing and narration. All in all, an experience worthy of the Presidential Seal of Approval.

    Rating:
    5 Stars – absolutely perfect

    Soundtrack: Night
    Artist: Zola Jesus
    Album: Stridulum


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    REVIEW: Beautiful Mistakes by Felice Stevens

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    Second Chances: Beautiful Mistakes – Felice Stevens

    The other side of loathing might be lust …

    Or love …

    Wolf
    Desire: What Wolf struggles with from the moment he sees Spencer Hawkins the first day of college.
    Fear: Not a word in Wolf’s vocabulary except when it comes to facing his feelings for Spencer.
    Lust: What he gives in to that changes everything between them. And his life forever.
    Denial: Something Wolf is all too familiar with—denying who he is and who he wants. It’s better this way, even if it’s tearing him and his friendship with Spencer apart.

    Spencer
    Hide: What Spencer does best. He hides from everyone, especially himself and the crazy attraction to Wolf he can’t shake.
    Walls: Spencer throws them up to protect himself from all the hurts life heaps on him—his mother’s death, his father’s indifference, and the men who share his bed and walk away.
    Betrayal: Not by just anyone. By Wolf. The one man he can’t forget. Or forgive.
    Want: Spencer wants to live in the moment, but he can’t stop thinking about that night. And it doesn’t help that he and Wolf keep knocking heads…and locking lips.

    Love: What these two idiots need to realize is happening between them. What started out as their ugliest regret could end up being the most beautiful mistake they ever made.


    Sometimes, you meet one character in a story and you just know right off the bat, their own book is going to blow you away.

    This is what happened with Wolf. I met him in Second Chances, Book 1. He barely said two sentences when I immediately latched on to him. Then seeing his antagonistic interactions with Spencer, I was super eager to find out what was going on between them. So much so that I didn’t wait to finish the first book and completely skipped the second. I jumped right to their story.

    Beautiful Mistakes is an angsty, slow-burn, frenemies to lovers romance of mega-lawyer Garrett Wolf and fashion stylist Spencer Hawkins. The tumultuous history of the two started way back in college. They were rooming with two other students, Elliot and Chess.

    For some reason, Wolf found himself attracted to Spencer. He couldn’t understand why because he has never been attracted to anyone. He never acted on it, not wanting to be just another one-night stand to the very active Spencer.

    Fifteen years later, the four are still friends. Elliot is now a freelance journalist and Chess, a college professor. Wolf still wants Spencer.

    Second Chances is a character-driven series. One of the things that makes Beautiful Mistakes the best installment is that both Wolf and Spencer are very compelling characters. They stood out individually and as a couple. The biggest hurdle of the first book was I didn’t care much about Elliot’s and Win’s issues. Here, I was heavily invested in Wolf’s welfare. I really, really wanted him to be happy because our boy is too hard on himself.

    Wolfie is the workaholic of the group. An enigmatic, dominating presence, he tends to be serious, scowly, blunt, and aloof. He has a deep, dark secret he spent his entire life running away from. And trying to make up for. He also thinks there’s something wrong with him because no one seems to interest him at all. Excerpt for one very infuriating man.

    He kept his desires strictly under lock and key for years, thinking he’s not good enough for Spence. Until one moment of weakness in Milan. Then, he ghosted the next morning. They kept that magical night a secret from their friends. Spencer was hurt by Wolf calling it a mistake. Things were progressively going downhill for them. It got so bad that Chess and Elliot had to stage an intervention.

    Gad! Spencer is annoying! The two tried, boy, they really tried, to talk things out. Several times too. My heart went out to Wolfie. It’s already difficult enough to explain his painful family history, much more about his complicated feelings for a friend. The idiot Spencer would interrupt with a ridiculous comment that would totally derail the conversation. It’s frustrating as hell!

    Spencer also has some family drama he prefers to leave in the past. He might be silly and outrageous, but he’s talented, ambitious, and driven. I loved the way his personality jives with Wolf’s sardonic humor.

    They clash because Spencer is a flamboyant, life of the party. His motto is the more, the merrier. Meanwhile, the demisexual Wolf doesn’t approve of Spencer’s cavalier way with sex. He insists his friend deserves so much more than randos. Me! Me! Poor Wolfie cries silently. Unknown to him, Spencer was also attracted to him since way back when. I wanted to crack their heads together.

    The push and pull between the two men was intense! They had that crazy good annoy-you-because-I-want-you-so-bad chemistry that makes the enemies or in this case, frenemies to lovers trope a joy to read. When they finally realized why they liked pushing each other’s buttons so much, BAM! Fireworks!

    I struggled with Elliot and Win’s story, The List. It didn’t have enough hook to keep me engaged. I also wasn’t so keen on Chess and Andre’s book, Footsteps of the Past. I would have loved to read about an established couple but Chess is kind of meh. However, these two couples make great supporting characters in the third book. I love how the four college friends plus the men in their lives built this lifelong bond with each other.

    If there’s one book that badly needs an epilogue, this is it. I can’t believe it left Wolfie and Spence standing in front of a window. I need more!

    Still, Beautiful Mistakes is a well-written finale. It flowed just right and hit a perfect balance of emotional notes. The book is deep and moving. Many times, heartbreaking. But it’s also funny, snarky, sweet, and heartwarming.

    The way Wolf and Spencer zing throughout the book! The way they became each other’s rock when the past caught up to them. How right it felt when they finally came to terms with their feelings and let each other in. It’s beautiful and damn near perfect!

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

    Soundtrack: Beautiful Mistake
    Artist: Mango
    Album: Beautiful Mistake

    P.S.

    I might have jumped the line but Second Chances is best read in order. Witness hopeless romantic Elliot find his ideal match in hotshot detective Win in The List. Watch long-time boyfriends Chess and Andre rediscover why they’re stronger together in Footsteps Of The Past. All the while, you can enjoy the delicious USTs building up between the bickering dorks. The first two books have rave reviews so I think you can’t go wrong with this series.


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