Review: Madeleine Ribbon – Death by Dragon


deathAuthor: Madeleine Ribbon
Reviewer: Vivian
Publisher: Loose Id
Genre:M/M Paranormal

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

Fell Harwick, half-incubus and witch extraordinaire, knows how he’ll die. Ever since he was a child, he’s had visions of a dragon tearing him to pieces. Since he’s not terribly fond of the idea–and the power-hungry vampire that killed his mother is now after him for his unprecedented healing abilities–he’s gone into hiding. But when a pair of shifters get shot in front of his cabin in the woods, he feels obligated to keep them safe.

Jett and Theodore are members of the local resistance, fighting against the same vamp that wants Fell. Theodore is a beautiful, tragic mess, and Jett hates all incubi on principle–something Fell finds out as he tries to take energy to power his healing magic.

Jett and Fell might have been able to work around one paranormal prejudice. Jett even encourages Fell into sex with Theodore when he needs energy. But then Fell discovers that his future killer has been sleeping on his couch.
When trouble finds you.

Fell’s got a problem, but it’s not a major problem until an issue of trespassing brings more to his doorstep than a couple bodies. And while I understand the occasional call to play Good Samaritan, the inciting incident for him to get involved beyond the necessary housekeeping just didn’t convince me. Suddenly, this hermit needs to be a team player–ah, no. Not buying it.

Don’t get me wrong. I liked the sticky triangle that emerges and how Fell’s inherent nature of being half-incubus affects his life and relationships. Plus, Theodore’s an adorable guy and Jett is stuff nightmares are made of–Win.

I love his powers and how he uses them and what his limitations are. Plus the surprise visit from someone from his past opens a whole new can of worms. Or advice Hot Line if anyone answers. Still, I had issues with how interpersonal relationship played out because they depended heavily on one of my pet peeves of plot devices–miscommunication.

Oh, the misunderstandings–Ugh. A whole critical conflict point was based on a MISUNDERSTANDING even though one of the characters really had the most of the information and ignored it. So the grand hullabaloo that leads to major carnage had a stupid start. Then there’s the stupid and illogical assumption of guilt that isn’t Fell’s really annoyed me. And the acts that were inspired by that guilt were stupid.

Now the decent body count, I could get behind. I’m bloodthirsty enough to enjoy collateral damage. There are some MC losses in this one to propel the story and one that might even hurt a bit, or not. So with all this mess, the end was great.

Overall, like a mixed bag of candy where most are ones you like and couple you just rifle around.

Favorite quote:

Life will get weird for a while, but I’ll do what I can to see you through in the end.




Review: BA Tortuga – Ever the Same


everAuthor: BA Tortuga
Reviewer: Barb
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre:M/M Cowboy
ISBN: 9781632168313

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Audie Barrack is in it up to his elbows with a sick calf when his son’s school calls. Seems Grainger has gotten into yet another fight. When he walks into the principal’s office, he’s shocked to find his son has been fighting with a little girl named Randi.

A little girl with one blind dad and one dad who recently passed away.


Dixon has lost his sight, his career, and his husband. Thank God for his brothers, Momma and Daddy, and his little girl, or he would simply give up. The last thing he needs is for Randi to start trouble at school, especially trouble that puts him in contact with another dad who might expect him to be a functional human being.

Dixon is struggling to live as a blind man, Audie is terrified someone might see he has a closet to come out of, and everyone from the school to both men’s families is worried for the men and their children. Unless they get themselves together and commit to change, neither of them stands a chance.
Review:When Audie Barrack heads to his little boy’s school to find out why he needs to report to the principal’s office, he’s shocked to find out that a little kindergarten girl named Randi has socked him in the eye, and it’s apparently not the first time his son Grainger has fought with her. But the greater shock is when he finds out that Randi’s father has recently died and her other daddy is blind. No wonder she’s acting out!

Dixon feels helpless and hopeless, especially when he can’t even see the man brought into the office with him. He’s been living in a world of hurt, staying with his mom and dad on their llama farm and can’t seem to find a way to get himself out of the doldrums. Their retirement dream was to have this farm and they’re thankful they have a place for Dixon and Randi to stay, but they are also very concerned that it’s been over a year and he can’t seem to do more than watch TV all day. They don’t realize just how lost and helpless he feels, and when they express concerns about his ability to raise Randi, he nearly loses his mind. They don’t realize that Randi is about all that’s keeping Dix together right now.

When he has a chance to help Randi make friends with his niece, Audie takes it and through this simple act, the beginning of a friendship between Audie and Dix is formed. Over time, both Audie and Grainger become involved with Dix’s family. Audie is a cattle rancher, and his love is training horses so when Randi expresses an interest in learning to ride he encourages Dix to let her. On the flip side, Grainger wants to learn to play guitar and once he hears Dixon picking at his guitar, a deal is made. Each man will help the child of the other. Over time, all four get closer and the kids not only stop fighting, they become fast friends.

The slow burn between Audie and Dixon is hot in and of itself, and I love the way the author handled it right from the start. There’s lots of kissing in this story and lots of romance, love, and affection. The love isn’t just between the men either—it’s also love for the family they begin to build together. When circumstances contrive to force them apart and to give in to the pressures of their mothers who state they only want the best for their boys and their grandchildren, Audie and Dixon firmly unite and find their way to their future together. I enjoyed most of the slow-building romance, the dynamic between the two MCs, the way the author handled Dixon getting over the death of his husband Ron, and the way the author built the new family unit with the children.

In fact, this is the kind of romance that leaves me feeling happy and with that warm and fuzzy feeling that I enjoy so much. Reading is supposed to make me feel good and this one certainly does that. I’d recommend it to lovers of M/M romance, and especially to those who enjoy hurt/comfort, disability/illness, and/or men with children stories.


Audio Review: Mary Calmes and Cardeno C. – Control


controlAuthor: Cardeno C. and Mary Calmes
Reviewer: Barb
Publisher: DreamSpinner Press LLC
Genre: M/M Paranormal

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

Vy Aleknos is the leader of a hawk shifter flock. Openly gay since he was a teen, Vy is proud and self-assured on the outside, while secretly worrying he’ll be forced to spend his life alone because two males can’t be mates. When bear shifter Robert Cimino appears in Vy’s small town, Vy realizes his concerns were unfounded – he has a male mate, and a sexy, dominant one to boot.

Robert is a bear shifter who refuses to shift. Immediately attracted to Vy, he deviates from his normal pattern and seeks more than a one off with the powerful, bristly hawk. But Robert’s affections are rooted in his human form, and when Vy discovers Robert doesn’t recognize him as his mate, he pulls away. If Robert wants to stay with Vy, he must convince a man deeply ruled by his animal instincts to give their relationship as humans a chance

When Vy Aleknos, a hawk shifter, drops into the local hardware store to pick up a few supplies for his construction business, he’s immediately overwhelmed with a scent that turns his world on its axis. He’s found his mate! The only problem is that the store is vacant, and he can’t figure out who she is. Tracking the most recent customers with the help of the clerk, Vy is shocked to find out that his mate is a male—something he thought would never be possible, and not only a male, but a bear shifter as well. The moment he meets Robert Cimino, he knows he’s found his mate, but Robert, though attracted to Vy, is unaware that they are mates.

Apparently, Robert has never shifted, or at least not since he was about five years old. And Vy is not only a hawk shifter, he is the quar, the leader of his hawk ket. Though physically smaller than Robert, Vy is powerful and has the arrogance and self-assuredness that only a true leader would possess. He’s heartbroken when he realizes that Robert can’t recognize him as a mate because only a shifter who actually shifts can understand the depth of the bond. Dejected, he pulls away from Robert.

But Robert’s human side is very attracted to Vy and refuses to be ignored. Unusual for the lone bear that he is, he can’t seem to get enough of Vy and comes back to him again and again. When he finds out that the people in town are afraid of him because they perceive him as big, fierce, and more dominant than Vy, Robert takes steps to assure that his lover’s role as the ket leader is reinforced. He implies to one of the guys in the local vegan cafe that Vy is the top in their relationship and that seems to turn people’s opinions around. After all, if he can be controlled by Vy, then they really have no reason to fear him. When he later helps to save a group of teens and assists Vy in conquering the wolves who’ve attacked them, he inadvertently seals the deal and is shocked by Vy’s response to his actions.

This is a great shifter tale with a different twist from the usual. I enjoyed the story itself, though I was not as enamored of the MCs as I may have been if I had read the story. The narration by Greg Tremblay was good, however, I don’t care for the voices he used for Robert and Vy. I know people who like this narrator, but to me, Robert’s voice sounded odd and shaky. On the other hand, Vy frequently sounded whiny and timid, which was the opposite of the way his personality was described in the story. Because of that, I’ve dropped the audiobook rating from the 4 I would have given it to 3.5 hearts.

If you enjoy shifter stories, by all means pick this one up. I would recommend the e-book over the audiobook, however, for the reasons mentioned above. The authors are both favorites of mine so I would easily recommend this or any of their M/M romances to anyone new to the genre or those looking for a sweet romance between two alphas.


Audio Review: Amy Lane – Blackbird Knitting in a Bunny’s Lair (Granby Knitting #5)


blackbirdAuthor: Amy Lane
Reviewer: Sandra
Publisher: DreamSpinner Press
Genre: M/M Paranormal
ISBN: 9781627988742

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

Sequel to Knitter in His Natural Habitat
A Granby Knitting Novel

After three years of waiting for “rabbit” Jeremy to commit to a life in Granby—and a life together—Aiden Rhodes was appalled when Jeremy sustained a nearly fatal beating to keep a friend out of harm’s way. How could Aiden’s bunny put himself in danger like that?

Aiden needs to get over himself, because Jeremy has a long road to recovery, and he’s going to need Aiden’s promise of love every step of the way. Jeremy has new scars on his face and body to deal with, and his heart can’t afford any more wounds.

When their friend’s baby needs some special care, the two men find common ground to firm up their shaky union. With Aiden’s support and his boss’s inspiration, Jeremy comes up with a plan to make sure Ariadne’s little blackbird comes into this world with everything she needs. While Jeremy grows into his new role as protector, Aiden needs to ease back on his protectiveness over his once-timid lover. Aiden may be a wolf in student’s clothing and Jeremy may be a rabbit of a man, but that doesn’t mean they can’t walk the wilds of Granby together.
This is a sweet ‘lil follow up on the Granby knitting series, where we get to revisit Jeremy and Aiden. It was nice to catch up with our guys, and how they deal with new bumps in the road. It was a little slow going, I think just because I knew these guys and was in no rush (since there’s no will-they/wont-they?). But I enjoy being able to take my time with an audio book, so it was no skin off my back. If you like the series then I think you’ll like this, although I can’t imagine it would be anyone’s favorite compared to the books in which the couples meet. Definitely not a stand alone though!

The narration was consistent with what has been in this series, and overall, I like this series in audio format since it’s light and easy to come and go with over the course of a few days.


Review: TN Tarrant – Loving an Absentminded Astrophysicist


lovingAuthor: TN Tarrant
Reviewer: Victoria
Publisher :D reamSpinner Press
Genre: M/M Contemporary
ISBN: 9781632164773

Rating: ★★★★½ 

At twenty-three, Dr. Liam McGregor is a well-respected astrophysicist, astrobiologist, and geologist. With no family, few friends, and no romantic prospects, he’s used to being alone. Focusing on his various scientific projects and taking care of his decidedly unusual cat help keep the loneliness at bay.

Jareth Manning is starting life over—new town, new job—after the loss of his husband. The last thing he expects is for the most absentminded, and beautiful, man he’s ever seen to take up residence in his heart. Nor did he expect to find himself a willingly humble slave to Her Imperial Highness, Empress the Cat. But Jareth has learned that love doesn’t come around often and to hold on to it when it does. Jareth is willing to be patient if Liam is willing to take a risk after being burned before. They just have to survive Liam’s past returning.

Eight years after Liam and Jareth marry, they want a child. Things don’t go well when they try to adopt, with terrible accusations thrown at Jareth. After recovering, they proceed with a private adoption, bringing home a beautiful little girl, Carinae. Then things get ugly, endangering not only Liam’s life, but Carinae’s.

Loving an Absentminded Astrophysicist is the first and second book combined in the Astrophysicist series by T. N. Tarrant.
Dr. Liam McGregor starts in the first book a twenty three year old astrophysicist, astrobiologist, and geologist. He is so smart he gets lost in his own thoughts to the point he has ended up in the ER on such a regular basis that the ER works know him by name. Liam’s past has left him weary of people around him and very lonely. The second book is eight years later, Liam’s life is different. He is married, and looking to adopt but his accident prone nature is making things difficult.
Jareth Manning is starting his life over after the loss of his husband. He has a new job, and moved to a new town. He is thrown for a loop when the old rules of keeping your hands to yourself are thrown out the window. He has to physically move and/or redirect astrophysicists because they are too absorbed in their work to pay attention. Jareth starts to fall for Liam at first sight. He makes Liam’s safety his first priority no matter how long they are together.
The connection between Jareth and Liam is intense. Jareth tries to help and protect Liam. Despite Liam’s dark past, he trusts Jareth even before he really knows him. They make a great pair and l loved how honest Liam was. Jareth comes across as a strong and trustworthy man.
I found this book well written with a distinctive plot. The main characters and the secondary characters were realistic. While the ending was a little predictable, the journey the book takes the reader is gripping with several unanticipated twists and turns. I had a hard time putting this book down. I hope to see these characters again in the future.






Review: Ashlyn Kane and Morgan James – Winging It


wingingAuthor: Ashlyn Kane and Morgan James
Reviewer: Victoria
Publisher: DreamSpinner
Genre: M/M Sport
ISBN: 9781632166173

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Gabe Martin has a simple life plan: get into the NHL and win the Stanley Cup. It doesn’t include being the first out hockey player or, worse, getting involved with one of his teammates. But things change.

Dante Baltierra is Gabe’s polar opposite—careless, reckless… shameless. But his dedication to the sport is impressive, and Gabe can overlook a lot of young-and-stupid in the name of great hockey. And Dante has a superlative ass in a sport filled with superlative asses.

Before Gabe can figure out how to deal, a tabloid throws him out of his comfortable closet into a brand-new world. Amid the emotional turmoil of invasive questions, nasty speculation, and on- and off-ice homophobia, his game suffers.

Surprisingly, it’s Dante who drags him out of it—and then drags him into something else. Nothing good can come of secretly sleeping with a teammate, especially one Gabe has feelings for. But with their captain out with an injury, a rookie in perpetual need of a hug, and the race to make the playoffs for the first time since 1995, Gabe has a lot on his plate.

He can’t be blamed for forgetting that nothing stays secret forever.

Review: Gabe Martin’s life is all about hockey. His life’s dream is to win the Stanley Cup. While Gabe is gay, he is not out, nor does he want to be known as the first gay player in hockey. All he wants to do is play hockey. As life changes around him Gabe attempts to cope with being outed and heading into a relationship he really did not see coming.
Dante Baltierra the opposite of Gabe in almost every way. While he is dedicated to the game of hockey, he is still young enough to enjoy all the perks of being a hockey player. Dante considers himself straight until he spends time with Gabe. He is attracted to him and battles himself and the ramifications of dating a fellow player, especially one that has been outed.
The connection between Dante and Gabe is intense. The relationship between Gabe and Dante starts slowly almost without either of them even realizing it. I loved how Dante slowly incorporated himself into Gabe’s life in and outside of work. The sex scenes were incredible.
I found this book well written with a distinctive plot. The main characters and the secondary characters were absorbing. The ending of the book was predictable but the book was more about the journey to the end than the end itself so it worked well. I had a hard time putting this book down. .


Review: BJ Sheppard – Suburban Legend


suburbanAuthor: Bj Sheppard
Reviewer: Vivian
Publisher: Smashsword
Genre: M/M Suspense, Horror
ISBN: 9781310811289

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

Halloween is coming, and as the parents of Damsel Creek celebrate the occasion in style, the teen population of the sleepy town are forced into caring for their youngest counterparts. As Aaron settles in to a night of babysitting at the house of the Chief of Police, he faces strange occurrences at every turn. With news of a killer on the loose, he tries to convince himself his mind is playing tricks on him, but when a series of menacing phone calls alert him that the threat is real, he has no other option than to fight. Can Aaron make it through the night as the target of a stalker who desires his death, or will Halloween be coming early this year?

Are you brave enough to read what happens when the line between real life and horror blurs?
A situation horror from the author of ‘The Rainbow Connection’ series and ‘That Day in Spring’.

Warning: scenes of violence, terror, and little to no romance. This is a tale of horror. Expect no love scenes
I’d like ‘Horror Movie Bad Decisions’ for $500, please.

Creepy as all out right from the beginning. There’s the classic babysitter set up, oh yeah… all kinds of bad things happen when mom and dad are away. It’s got that ‘Have you checked the children’ vibe running underneath with enough unsettling things that make the fake starts work.

So if strange noises, unexplained deaths, eerily large mansions, poorly illuminated surroundings, and odd happenings are your thing then this works. There’s the stereotypical horror movie stupid going on here. I know I should do X, but I’m gonna do Z even though it’s a really bad idea and someone told me to do the opposite.

So this is entertaining in the ghost story tradition. Quibbles include a couple of places where the wrong word was used: feign instead of feint, mirthful sneer (paradoxical), affect instead of effect. There was also the issue of no section breaks between chapters on my mobi copy. On the plus side, I’d like to award 10 points for correctly labeling a character’s costume as Frankenstein’s monster, not Frankenstein.

Overall, a campy horror read that Scary Movie 6 could be based on.

Favorite quote:

It’s probably just a Halloween prank.

Guest post with contest: RJ Scott – Max and the Prince


Max and the Prince 400x600


There is something about a sexy muscled man in a pool, or one on the side of a pool, or maybe diving into the pool, or floating in a pool or… you get the idea.

When a strong sexy man lifts himself up out of the pool and every muscle delineates and water slews off of him then he’s standing on the side pushing his hair back out of his face… GUH… Yep, that moment.

It happened a lot in the last Olympics – not that I watched the diving in slow motion (aka I did). Divers and swimmers have physiques that they don’t hide under lycra or shirts. They don’t wear helmets or protective clothing, it’s just their naked selves with the addition of a small band of material protecting their bits. Oh and goggles – but it’s okay I’m generally focusing south of there.

One of my favorite bits of a man’s body is that tempting hip section, the V that you can just see on low riding jeans, the start of the treasure trail… *I need a moment to think about that*.

Swimming is sexy, diving is sexy, water off a man’s smooth skin is sexy, and when I found the man for the cover of Max and the Prince I was hooked. That was Prince Lucien, and he was wet, and he’d just been swimming, in fact he’s on the Cardiff Uni swim team. He’s tall and slim but muscled and strong in all the right places, as Max the Bodyguard is about to find out.

Being completely shallow and only focusing on the sexeh mens, what is your favorite sport to watch?

Max and The Prince – Bodyguards Inc, book 3

Book 1 – Bodyguard To A Sex God

Book 2 – The Ex Factor

Bodyguard Max Connery is used to being mistaken for being younger than he is.

Being carded every time he buys a beer is usual. Even though he’s just turned twenty eight and has two tours in Afghanistan as a pilot under his belt.

When a threat is made on the life of a prince attending University in the UK, Max is the perfect choice to blend in with students and to keep Prince Lucien safe. Even if it means joining the swim team to be by his side.

But, when death visits the University, abruptly this job is a long way past keeping the prince happy and safe. Instead Max has to keep Lucien alive.

Buy Links

About RJ

RJ Scott has been writing since age six, when she was made to stay in at lunchtime for an infraction involving cookies. She was told to write a story and two sides of paper about a trapped princess later, a lover of writing was born.

As an avid reader herself, she can be found reading anything from thrillers to sci-fi to horror. However, her first real true love will always be the world of romance where she takes cowboys, bodyguards, firemen and billionaires (to name a few) and writes dramatic and romantic stories of love and passion between these men.

With over seventy titles to her name and counting, she is the author of the award winning book, The Christmas Throwaway. She is also known for the Texas series charting the lives of Riley and Jack, and the Sanctuary series following the work of the Sanctuary Foundation and the people it protects.

Her goal is to write stories with a heart of romance, a troubled road to reach happiness, and most importantly, that hint of a happily ever after.   (some NSFW (not safe for work) photos)


Unedited Excerpt

The first swimmer dived in at the whistle and CU pulled ahead as Kev set a good pace, the changeover was slick, the second in the team clean into the water, and time slowed so Lucien could see every single moment of Max. The tension in his muscles, the readiness in his taught tight figure, the soft bounce of his knees, the way his blond hair fell over his forehead. He was probably so pissed that he was even swimming today, his big bad bodyguard desire to protect undermined by Billy’s pesky torn tendon.

In his head Lucien counted the strokes as the second came closer and when he touched the side Max entered the water with barely a splash, diving and traveling the longest way under water before coming to the surface and settling into a strong breast stroke. He wasn’t the fastest, but he was strong and determined and as part of the team they bought home the win.

Lucien could only hope he’d do the same in his own race. And he thanked the heavens he was down this end of the pool when Max lifted himself out. The sight of that blond hair and the water running from Max’s slim strong body was enough to drive Lucien mad.

And there it went again. Time to grab his towel and hide his burgeoning erection…

“You’re up next,” Kev said next to him. That was enough of a shock to get Lucien out of his self destructive head space. He’d stared for so long he’d missed the woman’s race. He’d probably been standing there with a dumb ass expression on his face.

So much for self respect. 

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Review: Mia Kerick – Here Without You


Here Without You coverAuthor: Mia Kerick
Reviewer: Victoria
Publisher: DreamSpinner Press
Genre: M/M/M Menage
ISBN: 9781632165596

Rating: ★★★★★ 

With all of his scratched and dented heart, Nate DeMarco wants to be two places at once, but he’s been forced to make an unbearable choice. Having barely survived high school, Nate and his boyfriends, Casey Minton and Zander Zane, are ready to move forward. Casey and Zander have left home to attend Boston City College. Nate remains in New Hampshire to protect his volatile younger sister from their increasingly violent, alcoholic uncle. Nate suffers with anger, resentment, and loneliness as what he wants battles against what he feels he must do.

Separated, the young men fight to stay in contact. But they are faced with separate issues. Casey copes with residual fear from having been bullied in high school. Zander obsesses over the establishment of One Voice, the gay-straight alliance at Boston City College. And Nate fights for his sister’s survival. Meanwhile, the intensity of the boys’ relationship increases, both sexually and emotionally.

Nate’s effort to live two lives leads to tragedy, which threatens to blast their relationship apart before they can adjust to the changes in their lives. They must find their way back to a united path before it’s too late.

Here Without You is the second book in the One Voice series by Mia Kerick. This book is best read as part of the series to get the best understanding of the three main characters and their relationship with each other.
Nate DeMarco wants to be with Casey and Zander at college but his need to protect his younger sister from their guardian and his drug use and abuse thwarts this. Nate does not know what to do but does know he does not want to put his sister into foster care. However, she does not appreciate what her older brother is doing and seems bent on pushing their Uncle to lose his temper and beat on him. When Nate spends more time with Casey and Zander than he should it takes him on a downward spiral that almost costs him his life.
Casey Minton is attending Boston City College with the goal of becoming a medical doctor. He struggles to feel comfortable not only with how life has changed, and his fear of being picked on and bullied. Casey is the glue that keeps Zander and Nate together with himself.
Zander Zane is obsessed over helping people like himself get together to feel comfortable and know they are not alone. He tries to establish One Voice and gay straight alliance similar to what he set up while in high school. Zander seems comfortable with not only himself but how sees his life unfolding.
The connection between Zander, Casey, and Nate is blistering. It’s apparent that after getting to know the trio that the magic would not work if it was only two of them. They each bring something to the trio that the others need. I enjoyed how well they try to communicate with each other. I also enjoyed seeing how those around them accept the trio. The sex scenes were hot.
I found this book well written with a unique plot. I enjoyed how the author incorporated romance, young adults growing up, and ménage relationship in realistic and believable way. The main characters and the secondary characters were mesmerizing. While the ending was a little predictable, the journey the book takes the reader is gripping with several unanticipated twists and turns that kept me intrigued all the way through. I had a hard time putting this book down. I truly can’t wait for the next book in the series. Overall, this was a very captivating book.


Audio Review: Ashlyn Kane – A Good Vintage


a good vintageAuthor: Ashlyn Kane
Reviewer: Barb
Publisher: DreamSpinner Press
Genre: M/M Contemporary

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

Luke Scherer has turned bad romance into an art. When he catches his latest deadbeat boyfriend selling Luke’s belongings—and his own body—to cover his debts, Luke decides he needs a vacation. He just doesn’t expect his Napa Valley retreat to be a step into his past.

Eight years ago Mal Kuijpers was grieving his wife while his vineyard floundered. Hiring Luke for the summer put the business back on track and a smile back on Mal’s face.

Nineteen-year-old Luke had just gotten out from under his father’s thumb and started saving for his education, his last screw-you to his old man. Then he made the mistake of falling for his boss, his dad caught up with him, and Luke panicked—and fled.

Now they have another chance. Mal has his own share of closet skeletons, including a family he doesn’t talk to and a dead wife he sometimes does, and he’s gone without romance for years. He works hard to convince Luke he’s worth more than a casual fling and asks for nothing in return, but Luke needs a relationship of equals. If Mal can believe in himself and Luke can believe in love, two hot summers might yield a lifelong reward.
After catching his current lover selling himself for drug money in his own apartment, it’s not only time to split up, it’s time for Luke Scherer to regroup, so he takes up the offer of a vacation at a B&B Vineyard in Napa Valley when it’s offered to him by his physician brother. Val’s got the money to send Luke away, and he’s got an ulterior motive that Luke doesn’t learn about until he gets there and finds out that it’s actually the same vineyard where he worked for a summer eight years ago.

At that time he was hired by Mal Kuijpers who was a grieving widower struggling to take care of the vineyard without her. Told in flashbacks, we learn that Luke had a major crush on Mal and the feelings looked like they might be reciprocal, but they never went too far and Luke was hesitant to get involved with a man who was still in mourning. When Luke’s estranged father suddenly showed up demanding a portion of the money he inherited when his mother died, Luke gave him the money he had been saving for college since he’d already put the inheritance money into his brother’s medical college fund. Shamed by his father’s drunken behavior, Luke left the vineyard without explaining why to Mal.

Eight years later, when Luke shows up for his vacation, Mal is shocked but pleased to see Luke and vice versa. Their relationship picks up where it left off, and the two quickly become friends again and eventually, just before Luke has to go back to his internship in an architectural firm, they become lovers.The long distance relationship is difficult, but they pull it off and over the next months they explore their pasts and talk about their hopes for the future.Luke doesn’t want to make a long term commitment, because of his past bad luck in relationships and because of the disaster his parents’ marriage was, but Mal is one of those mature, steadfast, goal-driven individuals who sees a bright future for the two of them and is willing to work for it and wait for Luke to get there too.

Both men have secrets from the past that they eventually share, including Luke’s disasters with his father, and Mal’s estrangement from his own family.Concurrent with the story, Val and his wife are expecting a baby, and when the infant is born, Luke has an epiphany about a future with Mal that includes the children and long term commitment that Mal has been hoping they’d have.

I liked this story, however, it was difficult to distinguish the flashback interludes which were interjected between many of the chapters while listening to the audiobook.If I didn’t focus and happened to miss the word “interlude”, I floundered while trying to determine if I was listening to the past or the present in the story. The narrator did a good job with the voices of the MCs, making it easy to distinguish between the two. The story itself wasn’t terribly complex, and certainly not dramatic, but it’s a nice romance for those who are looking for a sweet M/M age-gap romance with a slow build to long term commitment.


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