Monday, February 29, 2016

Literary Pickers February Update

Literary Pickers February Update

  1. Tablecloth: Assumption by Aurora Rose Reynolds
  2. Razor: Trusting Thomas by KC Wells
  3. Coffee Table: Someone to Keep Me by KC Wells
  4. Earbuds: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
  5. Scarf: Virgin River Christmas by Robyn Carr
  6. Mask: Veil of Midnight by Lara Adrian
  7. Cuffs: Damian's Discipline by KC Wells
  8. Lingerie: Mating Games by Dana Marie Bell
  9. Rifle: Her Wild Hero by Paige Tyler
  10. Measuring Tape: Pony by SJD Peterson
  11. Gun Silencer: Pursuit by Elizabeth Jennings
  12. Russia: Dark Wolf by Christine Feehan
  13. Spain: Midnight Rising by Lara Adrian
  14. Another Planet: The Degan Paradox by Rob Colton
  15. Reunion/2nd Chance Romance: Her Lone Wolf by Paige Tyler
  16. Dom/Sum: An Unlocked Heart by KC Wells
  17. One Night Stand: Rock Addiction by Nalini Singh
  18. M/F: Shelter Mountain by Robyn Carr

Holiday Bookish Bingo Wrap Up Post

Holiday Bookish Bingo Wrap Up Post

I read 14 of the 25 categories but wound up with no bingos.  I was hoping for two but since many of the books on my list were really good reads, I'm not bummed.  

Squares Read:
Romance: Dark Lycan by Christine Feehan
Snow on the Cover: Window Dressing by Sean Michael
Holiday Themed: Hitman's Holiday by Alexa Land
Multi POV: Until Jax by Aurora Rose Reynolds
Series Finale: A Tiger's Bride by Eve Langlais
Pink Cover: Midnight Awakening by Lara Adrian
2015 Release: In the Company of Wolves by Paige Tyler
Free Choice: Her Lone Wolf by Paige Tyler
One Word Title: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
White Cover: Yes My Accent is Real by Kunal Nayyar
Graphic Novel: Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson
Start a New Series: Hungry Like the Wolf by Paige Tyler
Blue Cover: Edge of Danger by Katie Reus

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Damian's Discipline by KC Wells and Parker Williams

Damian's Discipline by KC Wells and Parker Williams

The man who pimped Jeff may be in prison, but Jeff is still living the nightmare, selling himself to men and relying on pills to manage.  Then he meets Scott, a young American man who could easily have been where Jeff is now.  Scott's friends extend a helping hand to Jeff, and he grabs it.

Leo and Thomas bring Jeff to stay with Dom Damian Barnett until they can find someplace more long-term.  Still grieving from losing his sub to cancer two years before, Damian agrees to help.  But when he glimpses the extent of the damage, Damian wants to do more than offer his guestroom.  Jeff is not submissive, but Damian can see he desperately needs structure to his life.  It's up to Damian to find an answer.

He never expects that what he discovers will change both their lives.

After the disappointment that was book three, I downloaded book five because I really wanted to know what happened to Jeff, the young man's whose picture was used to lure Scott to England.  Jeff was in a horrible place, having to sell his body to afford the pills that allowed him to cope with what he had to do to survive.  Scott was desperate to help Jeff, after all, it was only luck that kept him from being Jeff, so he enlisted his Dom Ben and Ben's friends to help and the solution that everyone came up with was Damian.

Damian lost his sub Oliver to cancer after only being together for two years.  He's always been a gentle giant, never really participating in scenes revolving around pain, but more those that revolved around control.  He instantly determines that he will do everything that he can to help Jeff...but Jeff does NOT make it easy.  Damian's patience and skills are tested almost to their limits by Jeff but Damian does not give up.  Instead he turns to friends for advice, elicits the help of a professional therapist for Jeff, and researches possible options.  It is soon clear that Jeff is not a sub, so many of the tricks in Damian's bag won't help Jeff...but when Damian stumbles across Domestic Discipline he realizes it may be what would work.  At this point, he involves Jeff in conversations and has him think about if Domestic Discipline is something that he is interested in trying as well.

Jeff is not used to getting anything for nothing.  He is placing his life in the hands of a stranger who he wants to trust, but trust is something that has burned him more than once in the past.  Starting with his mother who tried to "cure" his gayness, to a man who offered him a meal and instead kidnapped him and used him in sexual slavery.  While he feels that Damian is his best option, there are many times when his gut tells him to escape, but something keeps bringing him back to Damian.  When Damian approaches him with the idea of Domestic Discipline, it feels right.  Jeff knows he wants someone else to make decisions and having rules to hold him accountable that he and Damian can create themselves seems fair and structured.  And it really works for quite awhile.  There are some punishments as Jeff backslides at time, but his forward progress is amazing.  He gets a job, begins a trade apprenticeship, and really begins to feel that Damian's house is home.

It is when Jeff's feelings for Damian get deeper that he begins to have more problems.  He is worried that his past as a rent boy will mean that Damian could never love him.  The fact that Damian is leaving two to four times a week leaving Jeff on his own doesn't help.  He worries a lot and this causes him to get angry.  When he learns that Damian is going to his club, Jeff assumes he is out screwing subs and it makes him feel that once again he isn't enough for someone just as he is.  This leads to him having a rather spectacular freak out and Damian is left wondering what happened--he felt that everything was working out well even if he was falling for Jeff.  Working out this latest issue seems to be the last hurdle to Damian and Jeff finally being in a place where their relationship can turn romantic.  

Overall I enjoyed this book.  It didn't have the sparkle or excitement of the first two books in the series for me but it was heads and tails better than book three.  I do appreciate how slowly Damian's and Jeff's relationship evolved...there were so many serious issues they both have to work past, anything faster wouldn't have been realistic.  I also liked how Dr. Herne was back--Jeff's issues needed to be worked through with a professional, and the fact that Damian also talked with her about various issues was great as well.  I would not recommend beginning this series with this book, but I do think you could easily skip book three and not miss out on too much to understand this book--the beginning of this one establishes what you miss from book three.  I don't know yet if I am going to continue reading books in this series...Two great books followed by a total miss plus one slightly-better-than-okay book leaves me worried about a lack of consistency.  

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Assumption by Aurora Rose Reynolds

Assumption by Aurora Rose Reynolds

a thing that is accepted as true or as certain to happen, without proof

They say when you assume that you make an ass out of you and me.

Kenton Mayson learned this lesson firsthand when he made assumptions about Autumn Freeman and the kind of woman she is based on what little information he had.  What he finds out is she's not only beautiful, but also smart, funny, a fighter, and exactly the kind of woman he wants to share his life with.

Autumn made assumptions of her own about Kenton, and now he needs to prove her wrong in order to protect her and their future.

Autumn is the witness to a mob-hit that kills five people in the strip club she works at in Vegas.  For her protection, a friend sends her to stay with Kenton Mayson in Tennessee.  Kenton makes some asinine comments based on his knowledge of her being a stripper, often lodging his foot so deeply into his mouth it is a miracle he was ever able to walk again.  Time after time, he would apologize only to react in the same knee-jerk way soon after.  The biggest black mark against him, in my opinion, is that he never changed his ways until he saw Autumn in the ER when she is working the night shift.  She used the money she earned stripping to put herself through nursing school and is working on getting the needed hours to finish her degree.  I would have preferred that Kenton alter his opinions of Autumn while he still believed her to be a stripper rather than only having it happen after it is proven she is no longer in the profession.  It felt like an easy out and almost as if she was suddenly good enough for him when nothing had changed in any way about her personality or her choices.  

Beyond that quibble, this book is a fun one with more action than I was anticipating.  There was a crazy ex of Mayson's who was fun to hate and while Autumn did one incredible job of giving her her just desserts, if felt like she went away too easily.  The same with Autumn's mom who we are given hints of throughout the book--she is one horrific piece of work but the sum total of page time given to her is a couple of pages at the very end of the book and it just felt tacked on and too rushed.  Once Kenton finally got over himself, he was quite a sweetie, albeit with a bit of a temper.  He was so frustrated with Autumn's self-defense mechanisms.  He would get through one of her barriers and she would quickly erect many more to replace it...and yet he kept coming back for me.  He was willing to fight for her when no one else ever had.  

Kenton, like the other Maysons in the Until series, has an amazing family that he brings to the table and I think Autumn fell in love with them just as much as she did with Kenton...and Kenton's friend Justin is amazing.  I want his story!  He is different in the fact that while I am sure he can be a major badass, he is much more lighthearted than many of the males dominating Reynolds' books.  While much of the story was a bit familiar as I have read so many of Reynolds' books in a relatively short period of time, I still felt that this was one of the better ones.  I liked Autumn and Kenton on a fundamental level and wanted to see them get their happy ever after.  I will give a warning though: there were a couple of scenes that are fairly graphic compared to the rest of Reynolds' books.  One in particular made me wish I had skimmed it rather than actually reading it.  I know this review reads like I had mostly quibbles with this book but I really did enjoy it greatly...maybe that is why the few negative parts bothered me more, it was so close to reaching the high point that I felt after reading Until November.  

Friday, February 26, 2016

Reading Assignment Challenge: Operation: Endgame by Christi Snow

Reading Assignment Challenge: Operation: Endgame by Christi Snow

It's been six months.

Six months since Jake Madsen let Chris Robertson die.

Six months since the passion between Jake and Cassie, Chris' sister, stepped over the line.

But now Cassie's being stalked and it's time for Jake to swallow his guilt, grief, and lust so he can save her life, even it it's a life without him.  He owes it to his dead friend and he owes it to Cassie.  He's fallen in love with her, but she doesn't have to know that for him to keep her safe.

Meh.  That was my thought when I finished reading the last page.  Which is a shame because I thought the book started our very strong and I readily snuggled in after the first couple of pages expecting to be fully immersed in a fun world peopled with interesting characters.  And I was...for a few chapters.  And then things started to slowly...not unravel...but loosen up.  The plot, which started out nice and taut, started to develop some snags and then a few small holes.  Pretty soon the main characters were approaching TSTL territory.  And when I finally finished the book, over the course of three days, which if you know me is two days more than it would have normally taken, I had figured out who the bad guy was (although I did not fully figure out what he was).  

Cassie, Jake, and Chris have been the three musketeers since they were children.  When Jake, who is a military PJ rescuer is unable to get to Chris who has been shot down over the Colombian jungle in time to save him, it breaks his heart and his joy in his job.  Distracted, he takes a bad landing on a training jump and breaks his leg.  His superior officer tells him to take a month of leave to get his head and future in order.  Jake head's home to Lubbock, TX not sure of his reception there since the last time he was home he had to watch the woman he loved bury her twin brother and later they slept together (to take their mind off their grief).  

Upon arrival in Lubbock, Jake learns that Cassie has acquired a stalker who has assumed the identity of a villain in a video game that Cassie had been associated with.  Jake determines to save Cassie and reinserts himself into her life.  Cassie, a supposedly brilliant military and war strategist (although I never saw a single instance of this in action), has in no way done anything to ensure her safety.  Instead she is still following her exact routines, running alone for miles every morning at the same time, stopping at the same cafe to get her morning coffee, etc. 

Honestly, I didn't care if Cassie or Jake got together because while they claimed to love each other, I never saw anything to indicate they were more than close friends who had strong sexual chemistry together.  I could not figure out why the two of them decided that each was the love of their lives.  I was more interested in the relationships of Cassie's friends and coworkers than I was in hers.  I also felt that the reasons behind the stalker fixating on Cassie were ridiculous.  I was unable to buy into the premise which was a shame because throughout the book, there were several instances of great promise...none of them really went anywhere for me, though.  There is enough for me to go ahead and try the second book in the series (but only because I already have it on my kindle--if I was expected to pay for it at this point, I wouldn't) and my fingers are crossed that it is better.  I read the author's bio and I love the idea of her going for her writing dreams after wanting to for years.  Even if I personally didn't connect with this book, I hope she is still living her writing dreams!!  

Thursday, February 25, 2016

My Little Kitty by Joyee Flynn

My Little Kitty by Joyee Flynn

While at a party to celebrate his brother's return home, Trey Donovan smells his mate in the crowd.  Addison Cambell is a werewolf from the local pack.  Still hanging on to his ex-boyfriend, Addison isn't ready to let go and accept Trey into his heart.

After realizing his new mate still holds a torch for his ex, Trey leaves with a broken heart and decides to move on and start a new life without Addison.  But Trey gets more than he bargained for when furniture shopping for his new house.  He meets his other mate, Jasper Knight.  Still mending from Addison's rejection, he decides to take things slow. 

Can Trey get over his past heartbreak and move on in the new relationship with his new mate,or will Trey imitate Addison by allowing past hurt to dictate his new relationship with Jasper?

After reading the first book in the Purrfect Mates series, I immediately dug into the second entry.  Trey is thrilled to meet his mate and is ready to whole-heartedly fall in love and live happily ever after.  Unfortunately, things do not go smoothly.  Addison continually picks at Trey, pointing out errors and trying to give him advice on every topic from moving in boxes to how Trey can more efficiently do his job as an author.  But the final straw comes when Trey finds Addison hiding the fact that he is constant contact with his ex--he feels emotionally cheated on and to make matters worse, Addison doesn't do anything to change the situation but instead chooses to cling to his old relationship.

While out finding furnishings for his new place, Trey and Jackson have one of the cutest of cute-meets...they both sit on the same bed to try it out and find that they are mates.  They leave after buying the bed they met on and pretty much live happily ever after from that point on.  Jackson is emotionally ready to mate with Trey and his love is a balm to Trey's broken heart.  Trey does worry at times that he doing to Jackson what Addison did to Trey but I didn't see it...Trey is always conscious of the fact that he is beyond lucky to have found his mate and his words and actions back that up.  Eventually Addison is able to pull his head out of his butt and approaches Trey for forgiveness and the three men are able to find a way to move on from their very rocky beginnings.  I will admit that I never truly warmed up to Addison after his beginning actions towards Trey but hopefully in future book installments we will see these three men's relationship continuing to grow.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Mating Games by Dana Marie Bell

Mating Games by Dana Marie Bell

The Wallflower

Emma's loved Max for years, but to him she was invisible.  Now she's in business--and out of her shell.  Max returns home to become the Halle Pride's Alpha, and he finds Emma has blossomed into--his mate!  Taking her out for a bite ensures she'll be his.  But first she must convince the Pride she has what it takes...

Sweet Dreams

Getting attacked by some she-devil wasn't part of Becky's plans when she agreed to attend a masquerade.  In a few slashing moments, she learns things about the man she loves that she never suspected.  When Simon rescues Becky from on of his Pride, he finally confirms that she's his mate.  Carrying her off gives him the chance to mark her as his.  But a strange illness threatens to turn their sweet dreams into a nightmare.

Cat of a Different Color

Adrian has friends, a thriving business, and the occasional Saturday night date.  Life is good.  Until Sheri hits town.  Sheri knows Adrian is her mate, but she's running from an ex who's got the teeth to take whatever he wants.  With Adrian by her side, though, she might just survive--if he doesn't become lunch...

After reading Bear Necessities last month, I knew I wanted to read more Dana Marie Bell--I enjoy her voice which is full of fun and her heroines (and heroes) who are full of snark.  This book consisted of three novellas from the Halle Pumas series featuring the Alpha, Beta, and Marshall and the mates they find and have to keep safe.  All of them were enjoyable, although I felt that the third book really suffered from this shorter format--I would have preferred more details...

The Wallflower was my favorite of the three...Emma is a straight talking, no-nonsense woman who has always liked Max Cannon but knows that he has never actually seen her as a person.  Years ago at their high school prom an altercation took place between Emma, her best-friend Becky, and Max's girlfriend, Livia, who Max broke up with soon afterword and who has been plotting to get her claws back in Max ever since.  Emma is unaware that Max is a puma and the alpha of his Pride, although Livia is in the know and is determined to become the Curana, or alpha-mate.  As soon as Max hears Emma on the phone giving his Beta hell, he knows he needs to meet the sassy owner of the sexy voice.  When he does he realizes Emma is his mate and he wants to kick his ass for overlooking her all those years ago.  He wastes no time claiming Emma and gleefully plans on using her to finally get Livia off of his back...unfortunately Livia isn't planning on giving in that easily.  Emma is a delight and Max is a sexy kitty who has absolutely every intention of getting what he wants--I loved it (and while Livia was totally over the top, there is always something so enjoyable about watching a truly catty person getting what they deserve).

Sweet Dreams picks up right where The Wallflower left off, with Becky's attack from an irate Pride member.  When Simon, the Beta, announces she is his mate and threatens to kill her attacker, Becky is taken aback to learn there are more than humans in Halle and that her best friend is apparently now a shape shifter.  She takes it fairly well in stride, appearing more surprised that Simon, the man she has loved from afar for years, is interested in her as well more than the fact that he turns furry.  When Becky starts experiencing hallucinations, she is diagnosed as hypoglycemic, but there seems to be more going on than just low blood sugar.  Can Simon figure out how to keep Becky safe and healthy before it's too late?  Simon has liked Becky for months and thank goodness Emma and Max decided to work to get the two hard headed, love-sick people together or who knows if they ever would have gotten their acts together long enough to go after one another themselves.  After the attack, it takes an act of Congress for Simon to allow Becky out of his sight.  The fact that she often suffers attacks when on her own doesn't play in her favor for independence either.

Cat of a Different Color needed to be about a hundred pages longer.  Sheri is running from a possessive, abusive ex and I would have preferred to know more about him...we were told some things about Sheri's past with Rudy and we see some attacks by him on various people but I would have preferred more depth and more time for the suspense to really build.  This story also involves bringing in a local Pack as Rudy is a wolf and I would have liked more page time to get to know the Pack Alpha as well as his Pack mates.  With all of that, plus Adrian and Sheri's mating, everything happened so quickly that it was fairly overwhelming in volume of events and fairly underwhelming in volume of details and back story.  Great ideas, just not enough time for the proper execution.  There were some definite hints at a great romance to come between the Pack Alpha and a pride mate who helps defend Sheri and is injured in the process.  I am looking forward to reading their story!  

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Monthly Key Word Reading Challenge: Veil of Midnight by Lara Adrian

Monthly Key Word Reading Challenge: Veil of Midnight by Lara Adrian

Bound by blood, addicted to danger, they'll enter the darkest--and the most erotic--place of all.  

A warrior trained in bullets and blades, Renata cannot be bested by any man--vampire or mortal.  But her most powerful weapon is her extraordinary psychic ability--a gift both rare and deadly.  Now a stranger threatens her hard-won independence--a golden-haired vampire who lures her into a realm of darkness...and pleasure beyond imagining.

A combat-loving adrenaline junkie, Nikolai dispenses his own justice to enemies of the Breed--and his latest quarry is a ruthless assassin.  One woman stands in his way: the seductive, cool-as-ice bodyguard, Renata.  But Renata's powers are put to the test when a loved one, a child, is threatened and she's forced to turn to Nico for help.  As the two join forces, as desire fans flames of a deeper hunger.  Renata's life is under siege by a man who offers the exquisite pleasure of a blood bond--and a passion that could save or doom them both forever...

Wowzer...this book was not what I was expecting, and not necessarily in a good way.  Danger has been heightening over the course of the series but this particular book was REALLY dark--lots of chills and violence and just plain cruel characters whose activities ranged from creepy to sadistic.  

Renata overhears Nicolai asking about the Gen One vampire she serves and draws Nico into a trap.  When he is incapacitated, the debilitating effects of her gift kick in leaving her weakened.  Nico recovers more quickly than any other Breed vampire she has used it on and he quickly turns the table on Renata and those with her.  When Nico is asked back to the Gen One's place of lodging, another first, she isn't sure what to think.  Renata has a lot of secrets and she is finding it harder and harder to walk the tightrope of survival.  

Nico is dismayed and disgusted to find the Gen One vampire he has worked so hard to find and warn of Gen One assassinations is himself an evil creature who kills with no regard to the sanctity of human life.  When he meets Renata he isn't sure if she is an innocent or tied up in the hideous acts or somewhere in between.  And then there is Mira, the child who can show you your future if you look into her eyes...

This book was full of violence and was definitely not my cup of tea.  I liked Nico and I liked Renata but felt their relationship definitely took a backseat to all of the horrific events that take place throughout the story to the point that I really just wanted it to be over.  Since I have been looking forward Nicolai's story from the beginning I felt really let down with what I got...and based on something huge that happened at the end and the fact that Andrei is the hero of the next book, I don't know if I can expect things to lighten up anytime soon.  I am okay with some dark and difficult times but this book was one relentless downer...even at the end when our characters were mostly okay, it didn't feel like a happy ending. 

Monday, February 22, 2016

Someone to Keep Me by KC Wells and Parker Williams

Someone to Keep Me by KC Wells and Parker Williams

Eighteen-year-old Scott Keating knows a whole world exists beyond his parents' strict control, but until he gains access to the World Wide Web, he really has no idea what's out there.  In a chat room, Scott meets "JeffUK."  Jeff loves and understands him, and when he offers to bring Scott to the UK, Scott seizes his chance to escape his humdrum life and see the world.  But when his plane touches down and Jeff isn't there, panic sets in.

Collars & Cuffs favorite barman and Dom-in-training, Ben Winters, drops his sister off at the airport and finds a lost, anxious Scott.  Hearing Scott's story sets off alarm bells, along with his protective instincts.  Taking pity on the naive boy, Ben offers him a place to crash and invites him to Collars & Cuffs, hoping his bosses will know how to help.  Scott dreams of belonging to someone, heart and soul.  Ben longs for a sub of his own.  And neither man sees whats right under his nose.

After reading, and loving, the first two Collars & Cuffs books, I read the blurb to this book and immediately downloaded it.  This blurb sounded like it would be right up my alley--and as the book began, I settled in for another great read.  And it was.  At first.  Reading about Scott's oppressive, overbearing parents.  Watching him gather his courage to flee to the airport.  Seeing him lost and scared with nothing except the clothes on his back in an airport in a foreign country.  Ben showing up and being caring and sweet.  Watching the two begin to was all lovely.  And then it went straight downhill from there and when I finally finished the book, my first thought was, "What a disappointment!"  

Ben, a thirty-year-old man who has had the responsibility of taking care of his mother who has Alzheimer's started out as a very swoony hero who dealt competently with the harsh realities that life can deal out.  And then he decides to let Scott stay with him and he regresses from that point into an immature jerk who covers for his boss who is obviously not doing his job, ignores Scott completely unless it is to yell at him about something (usually connected to money), keeps insisting that he wants Scott to find a Dom until a Dom is found and then Ben is suddenly possessive, and worst of all, sends Scott away to live with a family that Scott literally gave everything up once before to escape.  

Scott is an eighteen year old boy who has never had any type of independence.  The first time he rebels, it is to run away to England using a ticket bought by an internet friend (can we say online predator?) whom he has never seen or met.  When he realizes the trouble he is in, he relies on another stranger to take care of him.  He makes it clear many times to different people that his biggest dream is to have someone take care of him;  he decides he wants to be a sub because then he could provide service while someone else made all the decisions and he could be cared for.  He hooks onto Ben as the one he wants but it feels as if someone else had seen him in the airport and cared for him, that he would have just as easily felt the same emotions for that person.  I never saw why Scott fell for Ben specifically but then again, I never really saw why Ben fell for Scott either.  It seemed more a matter of circumstance and convenience rather than compatibility or love.

When the two finally do settle into a D/s relationship, weeks are glossed over at time so we never see them really meshing...we are only given bits and bobs of the training and are more told they are falling in love than shown it.  I cannot honestly say that I believe in the HEA in this book which is a shame because both Scott and Ben started out as characters I really liked and while I continued to care for Scott through to the end, I quickly grew disillusioned with Ben.  I wish that Scott had been able to take the time to grow up a bit, to find his independence so that I could feel that he really knew what it was he wanted rather than just wanting to emulate what he saw between other loving couples.  And the last line of the book is Scott saying that he is happy because he always wanted someone who would keep him...It makes it sound like he is just relieved that someone finally wants him and he could care less who it actually is.  Which might be an okay thing, because while Ben apologized and admitted his faults he never groveled to my satisfaction so I feel that Scott got the short end of the stick in this questionable HEA.

Despite all of this, I am not ready to give up on this series...In fact we are given quite the tease about a possible future couple that I really want to read about.  However, if there is another entry in the series like this one, I might have to call it quits.  

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Until July by Aurora Rose Reynolds

Until July by Aurora Rose Reynolds

Wes Silver wasn't looking for love, but when July Mayson literally knocks him on his ass during their first encounter, his world is turned upside down by the quirky blond, and every moment with her makes him more determined to protect her.  

July Mayson doesn't understand the pull she feels toward the bad boy biker Wes Silver, but she knows being with him is like nothing she's ever felt before.  Now all she has to do is tell her overprotective father, Asher Mayson, that she's found her boom.

Despite the fact that I do not enjoy biker romances, I did end up enjoying Until July.  I think that it could be considered biker-lite.  While there were aspects of the book (usually dealing with Wes's MC) that I didn't care for (the scantily clad women who rubbed themselves over Wes, the way that Wes used the term bitch to be even more derogatory than it normally is) overall I enjoyed enough of the story to read it in its entirety.  At some point, the MC stuff became more background noise for me rather than in-your-face obnoxious and I was able to settle in and enjoy the book.  

Wes is a true jackass in several of his early interactions with July; part of it seemed to be written to underscore his biker bad-ass-y-ness (although he just seemed petulant and immature) and part of it to show us how alpha he is (again, didn't serve him well).  But, July tended to stand up for herself initially, although she caved fairly soon after in order to further the story's plot.  There was enough backbone there for me to keep reading and soon Wes seemed to level out to more of the sexy male I have gotten used to from Reynolds and less of the self-absorbed jerk.  

There are several plot lines going on in this story but it seemed like most of them happened in the background--this was a story where the reader is told that a lot is going on but you don't really see it in action.  Most of the action dealt with July and Wes getting together which was a mostly smooth process after their first few encounters.  Neither Wes nor July are my favorite Reynolds characters as they felt as if I had read them both before...they felt interchangeable with other Until story characters.  And yet...the writing still had enough zing to it to keep me turning pages through to the end.  I do hope that the next Reynolds book I read feels a little more original and the male lead needs to be a LOT more likable.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Pursuit by Elizabeth Jennings

Pursuit by Elizabeth Jennings

A shocking betrayal...her father's murder...and a life-threatening accusation...Heiress Charlotte Court has walked into a waking nightmare--one that sends her running from her wealthy home to anywhere she can hide.

Across the border in Mexico, Charlotte creates a new identity and finds refuge in the battle-torn arms of Navy SEAL Matt Sanders.  Fleeing his past, Matt yearns to protect her and replace her pain with pleasure.  But Charlotte can't trust anyone, not even someone she's starting to love.  She knows she's a target--and out of sight, a soulless killer is zeroing in on his prey...

I have read this book several times and every single time I am reminded again how much I love it!  While not perfect (there are some scenes that deal with the bad guy(s) I prefer not to read as they are fairly graphic and I am a weeny when it comes to anything that even suggests pain or torture) but every word about Matt and Charlotte I suck up like a starving woman downing carbs.  

Charlotte is spending every minute she can spare with her father who is dying of pancreatic cancer.  The two are incredibly close and Charlotte feels beyond blessed to have the resources at her disposal to be able to spend so much time with her father.  Upon her most recent visit, she was attacked and shot after witnessing her father's murder.  Wounded and in shock, she quickly realizes that she can't go to the police or to her house--she recognized the man who pulled the trigger and he works for the man in charge of her father's company.  It gets even worse when she happens to see a news story naming her guilty of murdering her father.  Charlotte goes on the run and ends up in Mexico.

Matt survived five bullet wounds gained while fighting off insurgents targeting his special ops team in Afghanistan.  He is recently released from a veteran's hospital and has gone to Mexico to live with a friend and fellow former soldier while Matt painstakingly rebuilds his strength and decides what to do with the rest of his life.  Matt has always been a master planner, a strategist whose skills are equaled by very few and yet he finds himself floundering while recovering with plans that stretch a day or two at best.  Figuring out how to reshape his very uncertain future consumes his mind except when he is training and pushing his body through the pain of exercises that he used to do effortlessly.

Charlotte sees Matt and his broken body on the beach one afternoon and recognizes a fellow survivor,  She can't help silently cheering him on, fiercely hoping for his success.  When he finishes his excruciating exercises, he sees her and grins.  From that day on, Charlotte always sits on her steps and watches Matt as he slowly but surely rebuilds his body, strength, and abilities.  She cheers his successes and they begin to build a bond even though they have never spoken.  They exchange some simple gifts, but somehow just sharing their time together is something they both cherish.  One particularly cloudy afternoon, the ocean gets super choppy and Charlotte loses sight of Matt while he is swimming laps.  Frightened that something has happened to him, she rushes out to the quay to try to find him, while leaning on the rail it breaks sending Charlotte careening into the water.  Just as she is sure she won't be able to resurface, Matt swoops in and saves her. 

From that point on, Matt and Charlotte become inseparable.  Matt realizes that Charlotte has been a victim of violence, although he doesn't know why and he becomes determined to protect her.  Feeling grateful to finally have a plan again, a purpose again, he puts together a program to give Charlotte every advantage he can.  He is gently implacable and they share some really cute banter at times.  Charlotte is an artist who gets Matt to pose for her which he hates.  Matt is an ex-soldier who teaches Charlotte how to shoot a gun and has her practice using a video game which she hates.  When they are together, which is almost all the time, they slowly build on the bond that was forged on those afternoons until they create a relationship different from anything either of them has experienced before.  

Unfortunately while Charlotte and Matt are working together to keep Charlotte safe, there are forces back in the state planning on taking Charlotte out of the picture.  The man in charge of Court Industries is furious that his plans to gain control of the company and thus secure a multi-billion dollar deal with the government and hires an assassin to track down and kill Charlotte.  We get little vignettes throughout the book of this man's tracking of Charlotte and we see him getting closer and closer to her safe haven.  Wondering if all of Matt and Charlotte's efforts will be enough or if their love (and lives) will be cut short is rather alarming and the tension really ramps up at the end when all the players are finally in place for a final showdown.  

Overall, this is an amazing book that I will reread again in the future.  The scenes where Charlotte and Matt first see each other on the beach and we watch Matt rebuilding himself through to his saving of Charlotte after her fall in the water are my very favorite and I have been known to pull this book off the shelf just to read that section (they are so swoon-y) but this time when I started the book, I just couldn't put it down until I had read the entire thing.  Give this one a try, I really think you'll like it!

Friday, February 19, 2016

Reading Assignment Challenge: Pony by SJD Peterson

Reading Assignment Challenge: Pony by SJD Peterson

Grant Maxwell, aka Max, wakes to find his coffeepot has died in the night.  Not one who can start his day without his favorite brew, he heads to the local coffee shop.  Max finds something even more appealing than caffeine in the form of twenty-six-year-old hottie Aiden James.  For the first time in his life, well-established, confident and respected Dom Max finds himself sputtering and unsure in the face of Aiden's charms.

Aiden lives with three roommates, works a dead-end job, and isn't sure where his life is heading, that is, until he meets Max.  Max introduces him to a foreign yet intriguing lifestyle, and they soon discover they have something more than mutual attraction in common.

A shared kink is one thing, but Aiden's past vanilla sexual experiences as well as his fear of losing himself in Max may keep Aiden from experiencing his fantasy.  Max has an obstacle of his own to overcome.  He must somehow figure out how to help Aiden explore his submissive side when, for the first time in his life, he's head over heels in love.  

This is the third Guards of Fulsom book I have read it is by far my favorite!! There was something so romantic about this story--now, don't get me wrong, there are some STEAMY hot scenes in this book--but the overall vibe that I got from it was the beautiful story of two men meeting and finding that they compliment each other so perfectly that they cannot imagine their lives without the other anymore.  Max and Aiden could probably both find other partners they could be happy with, but they could never find someone else who would so perfectly fit them as they do each other.  

Aiden grew up in Indiana and always knew he wanted to move to a city but beyond that he wasn't sure who he really was or what he wanted to do.  He is busy working hard to make the rent on the small apartment he shares with three roommates.  

Max is a psychiatrist who is stunned by the beauty of the man he meets behind the counter of the local coffee shop.  He is surprised to find his normal confidence deserting him in the face of trying to ask Aiden out for a date...but he doesn't let that stop him.  There is something compelling about Aiden and Max is determined to get to know the man and see if they are compatible.  When they go on their first date, the conversation, the sexual tension, the spark are all beyond what he had hoped for.  So he asks Aiden out again...and pretty soon they are discovering all the ways they fit each other.  

Max is a Dom and he brings this up to Aiden.  He encourages Aiden to ask questions to see if being a submissive is something of interest to him.  Aiden quickly learns that he is indeed open to pursuing a D/s relationship with Max and their fantasies mesh more perfectly than Max could ever have hoped for.  They begin exploring this new dynamic to their relationship together, with lots of honest conversations along the way.  I absolutely adored how Max was both patient and pushy...he always encouraged Aiden to express his feelings and went out of his way to make sure that Aiden was being completely fulfilled by his new role as a submissive.  He also continually pushed Aiden's boundaries in a way that allowed Aiden to feel comfortable putting his trust in Max.  

Aiden, meanwhile, was so honestly earnest about getting his pleasure from Max's pleasure.  He was also open about what he wanted as well as what he didn't understand.  He didn't allow himself to get frustrated when the answers weren't what he wanted, but would instead try again to make himself understood, even when he wasn't sure how to say or ask what he needed or wanted to know.  Aiden was amazed to find that by giving himself over to Max, he found himself.  It was only when external pressures in the form of a friend's questions and nagging got in Aiden's head that he began to second guess the bonds that formed between himself and Max.  Watching the two men get through the frustrations and doubt that rose up at times was beautiful because both were always willing to fight for the relationship.  No silly misunderstandings; no needless posturing or jockeying to save face or pride; just the great habit of sitting down and communicating until both men were comfortable and confident in any agreements and conclusions they came to.  

This book truly was a love story (a kinky one at times!) that left me feeling uber confident that these two really will live happily ever after and that they will enjoy the hell out of each other, both in and out of the bedroom, for the rest of their lives.  They are so compatible on so many levels.  Not only do they meet each other's sexual needs, but they meet each other's emotional needs.  They take care of each other, pamper each other.  Take turns putting each other's needs and wants before their own...they are an amazingly balanced partnership where both men are truly devoted to the other.  These men felt so real to me and I wish they were if only because our world can use this level of pure love in it.  A truly beautiful story.  

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Trusting Thomas by KC Wells

 Trusting Thomas by KC Wells

Christmas is a time for goodwill to all, but Collars and Cuffs co-owner Thomas Williams receives an unexpected gift that chills him to the bone.  A Dom from another Manchester club asks Thomas for his help in rescuing an abused submissive, Peter Nicholson.  Thomas takes in the young man as a favor to a friend, offering space and time to heal, but he makes it clear he's never had a sub and doesn't want one.

Peter finds Thomas's home calm and peaceful, but his past has left him unwilling to trust another Dom.  When Thomas doesn't behave as Peter expects, Peter's nightmares begin to fade, and he decides he's like to learn more about the D/s life.  A well-known trainer of submissives, Thomas begins to teach Peter, but as the new submissive opens up to him, Thomas finds he cares more for Peter than he should.  Just as he decides it's time to find a permanent Dom for Peter, they discover Peter's tormentor is still very much a threat.  With their lives in danger, Thomas can't deny his feelings for Peter any longer.  The question now becomes, can Peter make it out of the lions' den alive, so that Thomas can tell his boy that he loves him?

What a beautiful story of a sub who has been completely abused by a someone calling himself a Dom but who is really a monster and the man who regains his trust and shows him how wonderful a safe, nurturing D/s relationship can be.  Peter has been abused by his master for years and as he was never trained in BDSM he doesn't realize that what his Master does to him would be considered reprehensible by any Dom worth his salt.  All Peter knows is that the dream he had of serving a master, a dream he sees other subs living out, must not be for him.  And then he is rescued one evening by a Dom who can no longer do nothing about Peter's predicament...however, the man rescuing him has his own sub and can't give Peter the time or attention he needs.  He turns to his friend Thomas, half-owner of a very well-respected club and trainer of subs and Doms alike.  Thomas agrees to take in Peter and to train him as a submissive if Peter is still interested in the lifestyle.  If not, Thomas will allow Peter to rest and heal in his home before helping him determine what he wants to do with his life.  

Peter can't believe it when he meets Thomas...this large, older man is so gentle in his care for Peter and gentleness has not been a part of Peter's life for years.  The conversations they have about Peter's experiences open Peter's eyes to the fact that what he has always wanted: a Sir to serve and love who will treat him with respect, isn't a pipe dream but could actually become his reality.  Peter agrees to undergo training and slowly begins to open up and trust Thomas.  He is amazed at the rules Thomas teaches Doms and the scene where Peter realizes it is the sub who actually holds the power in scenes just about broke my heart.  Watching Peter's journey of discovery and healing was absolutely gorgeous--Peter is so easy to love and watching Thomas start to fall was breathtaking.  Watching Peter feel so safe with Thomas that he was able to fall in love himself brought tears to my eyes.

This is the first book I have read about an abused sub where actual therapy with a psychiatrist was part of their treatment and it was so refreshing to see a Dom acknowledge that professional help was needed.  The physical intimacy between Thomas and Peter was also slow to come about which also made so much sense based on Peter's past experiences.  I loved that the author didn't rush that side of things but rather began with emotional intimacy and went from there...when Peter and Thomas begin doing actual scenes, the fact that both characters have worked hard to get to the point where they were ready for them only deepened the impact of those scenes.  

As Peter and Thomas begin to fall in love with each other, both are hampered with worries.  Peter worries that what he knows about his previous Master's illegal activities will put himself and Thomas in danger.  Thomas worries about the thirty year age difference between himself and Peter...he has always trained submissives, he has never taken one for his own.  With the help of his friend Leo, and Leo's sub Alex who befriends Peter, these two begin to work through these issues.  I loved both Leo and Alex and will definitely go back and read their story in the Cuffs and Collars series.  When Peter's former master does make an appearance, both Thomas and Peter will have to take risks to protect each other and put the monster away.  

This book was a pleasure to read from start to finish and I look forward to reading more in the Cuffs and Collars series.  I know that Thomas and Peter are a couple who will stay with me for a long time and I hope they make appearances in later books.  I would love to see their relationship continue to evolve!  

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

TBR Challenge: Here Kitty, Kitty by Joyee Flynn

TBR Challenge: Here Kitty, Kitty by Joyee Flynn

Avery Donovan has escaped after being held captive almost thirty years.  He is injured and on the run seeking refuge.  While making his way across a ranch in southern Montana, he catches the unique smell of his mates.  Alone and scared, he decides to trust fate and follow the scent of his men.  Childhood friends, Cord Hartwell and Tyson Fitzgerald, have spent decades denying their feelings for each other until one day, an injured saber tooth tiger shows up on their front porch, shifts into a gorgeous man, and changes their lives.  Avery has forty-eight hours to convince them he is their mate and claim them, or he will die.  Will Cord and Ty finally admit their feelings for each other and their desire for Avery, or will they continue to deny their feelings and risk losing their chance at happiness?

February's theme for the TBR Challenge is series catch up.  I, instead, started yet another new (to me) series, Purrfect Mates by Joyee Flynn.  Makes sense to me!  

Avery has escaped from the freak show circus where he has been in captivity for almost thirty years and been shot in the shoulder while in his saber tooth tiger form when he catches the scent of his mates.  While trusting humans is tough, as he has been under their cruel control for decades, he decides he can't miss out on meeting the men that fate has in store for him, so he walks up to their door, collapses on the porch and shifts back into human form.  This understandably freaks out the two men who live in the house and witness his shift.  Despite the fact that a long-assumed-extinct predator has just shifted in front of them, they decide to take Avery in and try to heal him.  

Before long, Avery is explaining that the men are his mates, destined to be with him and each other for the rest of their lives.  This is the point that Cord and Ty decide they have a problem--how dare this cutie insist that they are 1) gay and 2) have feelings for him and each other...they have managed to keep themselves in the closet this long and this little upstart has no right to drag them out now.  Heartbroken, Avery runs away until he collapses, exhausted.  Ty and Cord have a change in heart and go looking for him.  From this point on, things are fairy smooth sailing--Avery has to shift into his half-cat/half-human form to claim both men and from then settles into 48 hours of honeymoon heat where there is lots of sexy lovings in multiple combinations with the three men.  They also get to look forward to repeating the experience each month when Avery goes into his mating heat.  

There were so many places while reading this book that my eyes may have rolled a little bit and yet I gobbled it up like chocolate covered almonds (WHICH I LOVE!!) and was so sad when the story ended.  Joyee Flynn's writing is very addictive and while there are too-good-to-be-true coincidences, major issues brushed under a rug, and crazy, over-the-top bad guys, I was able to dive right in and enjoy the book despite all of that.  I can't wait to dig into the rest of this series! 

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Until Nico by Aurora Rose Reynolds

Until Nico by Aurora Rose Reynolds

Sophie Grates has never had it easy, but she's finding her way through life one step and one day at a time.  That is, Until Nico comes in and flips her world upside-down.  He forces her to see you cannot live life from the outside looking in, and sometimes you have to step out onto the ledge so you can really enjoy the view.

Nico Mayson knew the moment he saw Sophie Grates that she was the one.  His whole life, he has been judged by what's on the outside, so finding a beautiful woman who sees the real him only makes his feelings that much stronger.

Nico knows the kind of man he is, and the things he is capable of, and he will do everything in his power to help Sophie fight her demons so they can have their happily ever after.  Everything in life worth having is worth fighting for.

Nico is the brother who has most intrigued me since the first Until book I read...he is covered in tattoos, works in a mysterious job (turns out he is a bounty hunter), and always seemed to have a "keep back" sign when in scenes with his brothers in the other books.  Getting his story was great and I really enjoyed it. 

When Nico finds a phone and returns it to its owner, he is stunned to find the owner is his boom, his one.  The legend of the Mayson men seeing a woman and knowing she was it for him finally comes home to roost for Nico--his first sight of Sophie and he is done.  All he knows is that he is going to bring her into his life regardless of what he has to do.  And what he has to do is take it slow...really slow.  When Sophie refuses a date, he brings her ice cream in the parking lot when she is leaving work.  When she relents and invites him over for dinner, he makes sure to not rush her physically although he wants nothing more than to dive into her lush beauty.  

Sophie had a rough experience shortly after her mother died when her father should have protected her but didn't.  She has been on her own a long time and doesn't easily trust others.  She also has no desire to let others close as she doesn't want the pain of losing them.  However, sexy Nico slips under her defenses and slowly she finds herself falling for him.  Before she quite knows what is going on she is living with him, and then meeting his family.  She finds in the Mayson clan the type of family she always longed to be a part of: large, noisy, nosy, but ultimately incredibly loving and welcoming.  Sophie discovers that Nico is exactly who and what she wants and needs.  However, there are a couple of incidents that cause Nico to worry about Sophie's safety.  A man is seen lurking around her house and a threatening note is left on her car.  

Throughout everything that happens (and I have to admit, I mostly guessed who the bad guy was and rolled my eyes at the "twist") Nico and Sophie hang in there and are a great couple.   I only had one niggle and that was Nico's continual secrecy around Sophie regarding his job.  I get not wanting to share details but when he quits bounty hunting and signs on with the local PD and doesn't even mention it to her until he leaves for training?  He would have flipped if Sophie made such a decision without his input so it felt like a slap to not let her know something that would so directly impact her life.  It didn't fit with who he really seemed to be which was a man who trusted his woman to be strong.  Other than that, I thoroughly enjoyed this book, even when the ending events were more silly than suspenseful.  

Monday, February 15, 2016

A Virgin River Christmas by Robyn Carr

A Virgin River Christmas by Robyn Carr

Last Christmas Marcie Sullivan said a final goodbye to her husband, Bobby.  This Christmas she's come to Virgin River to find the man who saved his life and gave her three more years to love him.  Fellow marine Ian Buchanan dragged Bobby's shattered body onto a medical transport in Fallujah four years ago, then disappeared as soon as their unit arrived stateside.  Since then, Marcie's letters to Ian have gone unanswered.

Marcie tracks Ian to the tiny mountain town of Virgin River and finds a man as wounded emotionally as Bobby was physically.  But she is not easily scared off.  As Marcie pushes her way into his rugged and reclusive life, she discovers a sweet but damaged soul beneath a rough exterior.

Ian doesn't know what to make of the determined young wide who forces him to look into the painful past and, what's worse, the uncertain future.  But it is, after all, a season of miracles and maybe, just maybe, it's time to banish the ghosts and open his heart.

Best one yet!! I really loved this story of Marcie and was tightly focused on their story rather than being a collection of stories from Virgin River and I must admit I liked it.  It really helped to underscore Marcie and Ian's isolation in his mountain top cabin to not have the story pulled to other characters.  Marcie is one stubborn woman, and for reasons that she can't totally clarify, even to herself, she has to find out what happened to Ian, the man who allowed her to have four more years with her husband when he should have, by all rights, died in Iraq after an explosion and two gunshots tore through his body.  Ian was Bobby's friend and through letters, both from Bobby and to Ian from Marcie, Ian began to feel like Marcie's friend too.  It has been almost a year since her husband finally passed and Marcie needs...something to act as closure.  She is sure if she can just find Ian she will find the closure she needs.

Ian may be my favorite Virgin River hero yet.  He was one sexy mountain man, with a gnarly beard and no indoor plumbing.  He roars, he whistles and he sings.  He is way more complicated than Marcie could ever have figured and yet, had far fewer issues than she expected.  He is gruff and sweet, has carved out a satisfying life (or at least an existence) for himself but fully admits that for a while he might have reveled a bit at first in the restrictions of his new lifestyle.  Watching him open himself up to Marcie, and then slowly to others in and around Virgin River was a lot of fun.  He really made this book for me.  Marcie was also awesome, but the two of them together were great to read about.  This book is shorter than some of the others but I highly recommend it.  I can only hope I like the next book as well...

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Her Wild Hero by Paige Tyler

Her Wild Hero by Paige Tyler

Name: Kendra Carlson
Rank: Trainer, Dept. of Covert Ops
Objective: Get out of the office and into the field

Name: Declan MacBride
Rank: Tracker, Dept. of Covert Ops
Status: Bear Shifter
Objective: Protect Kendra at all costs

The steamy Costa Rican jungle brings out the bear in Declan MacBride when he and new operative Kendra Carlson are ambushed.  In the midst of relying on each other to survive, and fighting his explosive attraction to Kendra, this shifter is about to lose control...

Kendra has been itching to get out into the field ever since she helped Ivy and Landon with the shifters in Washington...she is getting her chance when Declan's team is scheduled to go to Costa Rica to help train some local policemen.  While Kendra is only going in an observational capacity, it's closer to the action than she has officially gotten isn't long before Kendra is hoping for a little less action as her entire team is soon overrun by shifter hybrids.  When the team loads two helicopters for evacuation, the helicopter Declan and Kendra are on crashes, causing them to have to evade hybrid capture on their own.

Declan has crushed on Kendra for seven years and has finally decided enough is enough.  It figures that as soon as he is ready to move on, Kendra might just be noticing him, however, before either of them can do anything about it, they have to figure out how to survive against overwhelming odds.  Declan uses all of his skills as a former forest ranger and as a bear shifter to hid from the relentless pursuit by the hybrids.  He is pleasantly surprised by Kendra's capabilities but that doesn't mean that they are home free.  Being prey doesn't sit well with Declan, who will have to combine both his brains and his brawn if he is to get himself and Kendra out of this situation alive.

Declan and Kendra have been in the background for a couple of books now and I was really cheering for them from page one.  Unfortunately there are a lot of things against them including poor timing, a previous relationship that has left Declan gun shy, copious amounts of hybrids trying to kill them, and Kendra's past infatuation with Declan's colleague Clayne.  What these two really need to do is sit down and talk honestly but finding a safe place and enough time to do so is tough when you are running for your life in a jungle.

Lots of secondary characters come back in play when a rescue mission is mounted.  When questions regarding this new generation of hybrids arise, the smell of corruption gets thick and the question of who can be trusted puts pressure on many to find out who is selling out the DCO.  Trusting the wrong person(s) could put shifters and humans alike in the cross hairs of an increasingly dangerous enemy.  With all of this going on, it would have been easy to lose track of the romantic thread in the book but Paige Tyler kept a tight focus at all times keeping the pacing and tension just right and the balance of action and romance both believable and enjoyable.  

Saturday, February 13, 2016

An Unlocked Heart by KC Wells

An Unlocked Heart by KC Wells

Since the death of his submissive lover two years ago, Leo hasn't been living--merely existing.  He focuses on making Collars & Cuffs, a BDSM club in Manchester's gay village, successful.  That changes the night he and his business partner have their weekly meeting at Severinos.  Leo can't keep his eyes off the new server.  The shy man seems determined to avoid Leo's gaze, but that's like a red rag to a bull.  Leo loves a challenge.

Alex Daniels words at Severinos to scrape together the money to move out on his own.  He struggles with coming out, but he's drawn to Leo, the gorgeous guy with the icy-blue eyes who's been eating in his area nearly every night.

Leo won't let Alex's hesitance get in the way.  He even keeps him away from the club so as not to scare him.  And as for telling Alex that Leo is a Dom?  Not a good idea.  One date becomes two, but date two leads to Leo's bedroom...and Alex discovers things about himself he never realized--and never wanted anyone to see.

Alex is unhappy living with his parents after being away for four years at university.  But the job market sucks and he is feeling lucky to have a job as a server at Severinos even if it is taking him a long time to save up enough to rent his own apartment so he can get away from his cold, unfeeling mother and selfish, untrustworthy younger brother.  Spying a sexy, tall man with vibrant blue eyes sitting at a table and then having his boss ask him to be the server brings all of Alex's nervousness to the forefront.  He makes it through dinner but is shocked when Mr. Sexy comes back...night after night.  

Leo can't believe that any man has caught his interest--he was sure that all of those feelings died with his lover and submissive, but he can't get Alex off his mind.  When he finally finagles a date he is ecstatic.  When one date leads to two, and then two leads to hot lovin' Leo is thrilled.  For the first time in a long time he is happy.  Everything about Alex leads Leo to believe that he is submissive, but Leo worries about rushing Alex and so keeps his Dom life to himself.  Unfortunately, someone else has their eyes on Leo and hopes to sabotage his relationship with Alex by giving him a pass to Collars & Cuffs.  What Alex sees there shatters the trust he has placed in Leo and both men are left miserable and alone.

Watching both men realize that they aren't willing to give up their amazing relationship without a fight was refreshing...Alex decides that he won't let his fears dictate his life and Leo determines that he is going to sit down and talk with Alex about this part of his life.  If he can show Alex his world from his point of view, Leo is sure that Alex will see himself fitting into Leo's life where Leo desperately wants him to be.  This doesn't come easily to either of them, however...they might have needed a quick kick in the pants from their closest friends but once their heads were screwed on straight they went after each other.  

This is an amazing beginning to a series that I am excited to read more of...I loved this author's writing style.  There was a great balance of romance and steam.  I am really looking forward to reading more books in the Collars & Cuffs series and can only hope I like them all as much as this one!