Friday, June 23, 2017

The Dom's Way by Sean Michael

Neal and Way from The Closet Boy are back, only now they’re Dom and sub, and exploring their relationship through the lifestyle. Way is eager to learn everything, and more in love with his master every day. For his part, Neal can’t believe how lucky he is to have found such an innocent but sensual boy.

As they learn what works best for them both, Way has trouble obeying some of the rules Neal imposes. Like the no touching himself rule. Neal wants Way to learn control, but Way, after so long holding back, has trouble not indulging. The two men must work together to find the balance that brings them each the most satisfaction and happiness.

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Book 5
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Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

You really need to read The Closet Boy before reading this book, you will get so much back story to Neal and Way. I love this series and Neal and Way are such a sweet couple. Neal and Way have decided to give the Dom/sub lifestyle a try. Way is still hesitant on a lot of things even though he really loves all of them and wants more; he is just still used to his past and everything being wrong and evil. I love how patient Neal is with Way, they are so good together. In true Sean Michael style, there is tons of sex and lot and lots of love. We do get to see characters from other books as well. Sweet love story, which I devoured in a short time. Can't wait for the next book in the series.

Avid Reader☆☆☆
M/M BDSM Romance
Triggers: Click HERE to see Avid Reader’s review on Goodreads for trigger warnings.

Okay, so I hate to say this, but I really couldn't connect with these characters or this particular book in the series. I just never really felt that Way and Neal had a great connection.

It was a lot of sex and a lot of them talking, but I never really saw the connection that the other couples were able to achieve.

I also felt that this was very underdeveloped. I'm not sure if it was because we had seen these characters in previous books, but this was more about sex than the connection between Dom and sub.

Also Available in the Iron Eagle Gym Series

Book 3
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For reviews & more info, check out our The Luckiest Master post.

Book 4
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For reviews & more info, check out our The Closet Boy post.

A prolific author, Sean Michael takes notes dictated by the men who live in his head and shares their stories.

Often referred to as "Space Cowboy" and "Gangsta of Love" while still striving for the moniker of "Maurice," Sean Michael spends his days surfing, smutting, organising his immense gourd collection and fantasizing about one day retiring on a small secluded island peopled entirely by horseshoe crabs. While collecting vast amounts of vintage gay pulp novels and mood rings, Sean whiles away the hours between dropping the f-bomb and pursuing the kama sutra by channelling the long lost spirit of John Wayne and singing along with the soundtrack to "Chicago".

A long-time writer of complicated haiku, currently Sean is attempting to learn the advanced arts of plate spinning and soap carving sex toys.

Barring any of that? He'll stick with writing his stories, thanks, and rubbing pretty bodies together to see if they spark.

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of The Dom's Way (Iron Eagle Gym #5) by Sean Michael to read and review.

Summer Heat by Jay Northcote Blog Tour

A summer fling is an ideal cure for a broken heart. But when it’s with your best friend, things get complicated.

When Adam is dumped by his boyfriend, a week away at a beach resort seems like a great opportunity to get over his ex. Sun, sea, and no-strings sex will be just the boost he needs to move on with his life.

Adam’s best friend, Finn, agrees to accompany him at short notice. Finn’s had a crush on Adam for years, but is determined to put his feelings aside and be the perfect wingman in Adam’s time of crisis.

A spontaneous threesome with another guy forces Adam and Finn to confront their attraction to each other. Having a holiday fling together wasn’t part of the plan, and as their trip heats up, they soon realise that one night of fun won’t be enough for either of them.

The passion might be scorching, but their hearts and friendship are on the line. If their romance is going to survive the flight home, they have to be honest about what they want.

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Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

4 Steamy stars

Adam seems to put everything of himself into a relationship, until his fiancé is all he has in his life – he loses himself in the process. The catalyst for the novella is Adam's fiancé leaving him for another, younger man. To be honest, this beginning portion was written quickly, without any emotional punch, so I didn't feel much on this. But, in a way, this is a good thing. It takes the focus off the negative, and focuses on the true vibe of the story – warm and fuzzy like the sun on a summer beach.

Finn, I felt Finn more during his narration, was able to connect with him as a reader. I've walked in Adam's shoes, so I was surprised how real Finn felt by comparison. Protective, caring, only wishing Adam happiness, Finn is a solid friend and an even better potential partner.

Taking the vacation he was meant to take with his ex, Adam licks his wounds with Finn at his side, determined to forget the older man he spent the last five years with by getting laid by all the hot guys poolside.

Summer Heat was just that – HOT. Tons of sexual tension and steamy between-the-sheets action, and the friends-to-lovers storyline brought the cuddly warm and fuzzies. It's the perfect vacation read, beach escape, or your own poolside entertainment. It wasn't as heavy as some of Jay Northcote's other books, which made it an unexpected, easy read.

Slight spoiler – I need to note, since these devices may triggers some readers: cheating (not shown, or by the main couple) and ménage, featuring our budding couple with an eager pink-haired fella. That stuff floats my boat, but it may sink yours... and the rest is sweet romance.

Highly recommended as an escapism read, and I look forward to whatever Jay Northcote releases next.

This is a sweet and steamy friends-to-lovers romance. Mostly set in a gay Spanish seaside resort, the story is an easy, sexy beach read. The grit and angst I’ve come to expect in Jay Northcote’s writing has been replaced by sunshine, cocktails, and pretty boys in tiny Speedos.

Finn and Adam are easily recognisable English lads on holiday. I liked and enjoyed both of them but there wasn’t much that made either of them terribly unique or individual. The story starts with Adam’s breakup, but he seems to forget about his ex the moment he spots a group of pretty men at Heathrow. Together, Finn and Adam are wonderful. I loved their friendship and I enjoyed watching them awkwardly push the limits of their friendship into something more.

The sex in this story is hot – from vivid descriptions of bulging Speedos to a fabulous ménage scene, this is great fun in Jilly Cooper bonkbuster style.

Ultimately, there isn’t a whole lot of substance to this book, but it is a perfect cocktail in hand beach read. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Jay lives just outside Bristol in the West of England. He comes from a family of writers, but always used to believe that the gene for fiction writing had passed him by. He spent years only ever writing emails, articles, or website content.

One day, Jay decided to try and write a short story—just to see if he could—and found it rather addictive. He hasn’t stopped writing since.

Jay writes contemporary romance about men who fall in love with other men. He has five books published by Dreamspinner Press, and also self-publishes under the imprint Jaybird Press. Many of his books are now available as

Jay is transgender and was formerly known as she/her.

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Hosted by

Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Summer Heat by Jay Northcote to read and review for this tour.

The Prendarian Chronicles by Doreen DeSalvo

For the Love of Rigah

She demands satisfaction...

Rigah, the most powerful woman on the world of Prendara, has purchased a handsome Earther slave to serve as her consort. He will pleasure her in every way imaginable--or die.

He vows to resist...

Jason refuses to accept his role as Rigah's personal whore. But he can't fight the passion she demands from him...or the need to demand much more than passion from her. More than she may be willing to give.

For the Heart of Daria

A human who's lived under alien domination for her entire life, Daria vows to rid Earth of the evil invaders no matter what the cost--even if it means seducing a powerful alien sympathizer.

Stunningly handsome, irresistibly charming, Gray isn't the monster she wants him to be. He saves her life...and gives her more pleasure than she ever imagined. But despite the passion he forces her to feel, she can't sacrifice her mission--and she can't tell him who she really is. He's a collaborator, and nothing will ever convince her to trust him.

She hates his people. He hates her prejudice. They don't understand each other, but they want each other with a passion that defies all reason. And with a desperate mission of his own on the line, Gray will do whatever it takes to win the heart of Daria.

Publisher's Note: Both stories in this collection were released as single titles.

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Loose Id

Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

4.5 Stars

There are two stories within this one book so I'll talk about them individually.

For the Love of Rigah is about a woman who is trying to show her mother that she deserves her place as second in line to take over, since she has a sister that is determined to prove that she would be the better option.

I really liked following along as both Rigah and Jason fumbled their way through their very awkward and different situation, while dealing with an alien species that appreciates different things in life. The way that sometimes things were taken wrongly simply because one or the other didn't know how to properly express their feelings or simply by what was and wasn't important to each species.

In the end, it was lovely to see how nice things wrapped up, but it wasn't easy or so painless for the characters. It was quite wonderful.

For the Heart of Daria was the second story in the book and was the longer of the two.

I will say that I didn't quite care for the name change as it is a character that we saw in the first story, but now he goes by a different name than the one he did in the other story. I understand that it is because he is no longer a young boy and that likely plays a big part, but it still made it hard to remember sometimes who he was, but the author did a good job at reminding us of it as well.

Daria was quite the character. I felt like we really could've spend some more time learning about her life to help us relate to her since she absolutely abhors the Prendarians at the beginning of the story. However, I simply loved the way Gray fell head over heels for her because she was so different than the women he'd been around all his life. She wasn't afraid of his family and connections because she didn't know who he was (Well, he doesn't think she does).

There are definitely some twists and turns in this story that kept me wondering how on earth it was going to work out and what kind of waves were going to be caused as secrets came to light. Once again, we see love prevail, and this is a big deal when it comes to the topics and situations that are being handled in this story.

A lifelong daydreamer, Doreen DeSalvo sold her first short story at the age of eight. Her payment was a candy bar. Over thirty years later, her passion for writing—and chocolate—remain. Her work has received the National Association of Independent Publishers' Fallot Literary Award and the Doubleday Venus Book Club's Best Book of the Year award.

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of The Prendarian Chronicles by Doreen DeSalvo to read and review.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Patron by C.B. Lewis

Theodore Wentworth, who possesses little more than a sharp and well-educated mind, is trying to solicit a sponsor for his studies of Greek antiquity by performing recitations at gatherings of collectors. Desperate for luck and better skills in oratory, in jest, he places a coin at the feet of a statue of Hermes. It seems like coincidence when his fortune turns and a gentleman calling himself Alexander becomes his benefactor. Despite his friend John teasing him about it, Theodore continues to offer tokens to Hermes and sinks himself into his study of the classics.

Alexander encourages Theodore’s interest, prompting Theodore to face desires he tried to put aside years before. As Theodore embraces the knowledge, he must also resist his attraction to Alexander—knowing his feelings are a serious crime in Victorian England.

But the secret Alexander keeps will change everything in a love story for the ages, steeped in taboo, temptation, history, and myth.

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Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

Some of the best stories are those that leave much to the reader’s imagination – at least to me they are. That’s exactly what Lewis has tapped into with Patron. As a teen, I was fascinated by mythology: Greek, Roman, and even some Norse for flavor – it’s not really surprising that Chris Hemsworth became one of my favorite actors simply because of his role as Thor. So upon reading the blurb for Patron, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. The mere suggestion that Theodore might find himself face-to-face with an ancient god, all in the search for a patron for his studies… well, there was no way I was passing that up, especially as this is a m/m historical romance. And Lewis did not disappoint.

For those readers looking for between-the-sheets action, this is not the book for you. Theodore is a student of Greek literature and is hoping that an invitation to read a passage from the Iliad, in its original Greek, will open up avenues of study and access to collections that his lower social class does not allow. It is in a moment of weakness… folly… desperation… or perhaps acknowledgement of the gods he actually believes in (rather than the god he is expected to believe in) that he makes an offering and a plea to Hermes, patron of oratory and good luck, for his reading to go well. It goes spectacularly and Theodore soon finds himself with more invitations than he ever dreamed of, but there is one invitation that was more than he hoped for but was exactly what he wanted, and it is in the course of utilizing that particular invite that Theodore learns just how lacking his education has been – but not because of his social class, rather because of the Church’s hand in teaching abridged copies of the classic Greek texts. The more he reads and translates from the complete texts, the more his past inclinations are revived and he finds it harder and harder to deny them in light of Alexander’s attention – especially when Alexander intimates that he is receptive to Theodore.

I found Patron to be a rather seductive read. Theodore’s passion for Greek literature and mythology is conveyed so well that I was easily caught up in his excitement, his anticipation, and his worry over the discoveries he made. That it went hand in hand with his growing attraction to Alexander and his internal struggle over whether or not he could accept what Alexander was offering made it impossible for me not to be swept along with him. I felt myself being seduced by Alexander’s illicit proposal and during the final scene in the book, I was probably panting just as hard as Theodore was as the lines between reality and mythology were blurred. And while my immediate reaction when I got to the end of the story was, “NOOOOOOOOOO!”, I cannot convey how much I appreciated that the author left it where she did, allowing me to use my imagination for what comes next, because quite honestly, the ending was perfect.

C.B. LEWIS is small and Scottish and can often be spotted perched around historical monuments with her notepad and pen. She has been writing and telling tales for almost as long as she can remember and has a brain that constantly fizzes with an abundance of ideas. If she’s not working on half a dozen things at once, it should be considered a slow day.

She loves to travel and just has one continent left to complete her travel bingo card. A lot of the travel has also been research-based, and if pointed at any historical event, she will research it vociferously, just because she can.

Normally she is based in Edinburgh, where she tends toward the hermit lifestyle, needing nothing but a kettle, a constant supply of tea, and—of course—the Internet. There are no cats, no puppies, no significant others, only a lot of ideas and an awful lot of typing. And occasionally, cake. Never forget the cake.

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Patron by C.B. Lewis to read and review.

Vanishing Act by A.M. Madden

In this captivating standalone romance from the USA Today bestselling author of Stone Walls, Hollywood’s hottest actor meets his dream woman: a free spirit who has no idea who he is.

After personal heartbreak and professional setbacks, Landon Price is running on empty. If he doesn’t take a break from the public eye soon, he’ll risk becoming another cautionary tale in a town that’s full of them. So in between film projects, Landon asks his agent to clear his schedule and then he simply... vanishes. Renting a discreet home on a remote Hawaiian beach for the summer, Landon begins to recharge. And in the process of finding himself, he meets a beautiful, feisty local who challenges everything he thinks he knows.

Zara Jobert has no interest in being a conquest for a cocky playboy from the mainland—even one with undeniable charisma and movie-star good looks. So she’s pleasantly surprised when the handsome newcomer’s persistent advances mellow into cozy banter and a sneakily seductive intimacy. When Landon reveals his true identity, Zara’s hurt that he lied, but she doesn’t care that he’s famous. Unfortunately, not everyone feels the same way. And falling for Landon might come with a heartbreaking choice—between Zara’s old life, and a new love.

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Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

3.5 stars

This is pure romantic fantasy fluff. When the world’s most famous movie star finally has enough, he hides himself away on a tiny Hawaiian island where he meets a local girl and her adorable dog.

Landon Price is a perfect romantic hero – he’s handsome, rich, and famous. Beneath the surface, he is a loyal and often lonely family man who is secretly grieving the loss of his brother. Too good to be true, he ticks all the fantasy man boxes and then some.

Zara isn’t quite as interesting. She doesn’t recognise Landon because the island she lives on has very little access to 21st century entertainment. We know she is beautiful and that family issues have made it difficult for her to chase her dreams off island. Besides a deeper understanding of her family troubles, I’m not sure we ever see anything deeper from Zara.

The relationship between Landon and Zara is predictable and sweet. The Pretty Woman moments after the identity reveal are fun but for me, the angst and conflict once their relationship is discovered made the rest of the story really drag.

This is light and superficial entertainment meant for poolside reading with a cocktail in hand. I enjoyed it in the spirit it was intended even though I had to force myself not to think too hard or question too much.

3.5 Stars

Landon Price is the hottest actor in Hollywood, but he is in need of a break. So he is taking a vacation and not telling anyone where he is going. When the plane lands on a small secluded island in Hawaii, Lance White is ready to relax. A little R&R is just what he needs and no one seems to know who he is. After a few days, a small white fluffy dog shows up at his bungalow and he is instantly attached to him and calls him "Spike." When Lance finally meets Spike's owner, the sparks fly.

Zara Jobert is living in her own little world on a small Hawaiian island. She still lives at home but is ready to be on her own, she is 23 after all, but her father is overprotective and will fight to keep her close. When she meets Lance, she can't believe the attraction she feels for him.

What happens when Zara finds out who Lance really is? Can she handle his fame? Will Landon/Lance give up Zara to keep his career?

I loved the idea of this story, but it seemed to drag along and I had to push myself to read through the slow parts. I am looking forward to reading more from this author in the future.

Avid Reader☆☆☆
M/F Romance
Trigger: Click HERE to see Avid Reader’s review on Goodreads for trigger warnings.

This was a very romantic, Pretty Woman type story. Famous actor needs break, hides away on an island and meets a local girl. Local girl is SO local that she doesn't recognize the heart throb.

Zara is such a sheltered woman that I actually found her to be hard to believe. Yes, while I understood that her family had tragedy in their life, what teenager/early 20-year-old isn't somehow connected to social media or the outside world?

Then you have Landon Price (aka Lance). He was more believable in his story of wanting to just get away from everything. He also has suffered a tragic loss and feels somewhat responsible. While he's trying to figure out what he wants from his life, he meets Marshmallow (aka Spike). From there, he has an ally when it comes to Zara.

I actually found Marshmallow (aka Spike) to be the most endearing character in this story. He is what brought the couple together and kept them coming back.

Overall, this is a sweet story with very predictable twists and turns. It's an easy read for a day when you don't want to have to think of anything but romance.

This is a really good story – not a new concept, but really interesting take on it. That said, I did have a few struggles with this author's writing style. There is too much introspection and inner voice, by both the male and female lead. I am fine with a little, after all, that is inevitable, but pages of uncertainty make for a frustrated me. As I say I think the story is good, hence I kept reading, as I was invested enough to want to know how it could be resolved. Some of the issues were a little odd, like the constant fear of being targeted after 15 years, a regime change, and 1000s of miles distance – but I let it pass, for dramatic effect.

If you like a lot of inner debate and monologue, then this is definitely for you. If not, well the story is worth a read, and there is a good mix of romance, sex, and fun.

USA Today bestselling author A.M. Madden is a wife, a mother, an avid reader of romance novels, and now an author. A self-proclaimed hopeless romantic, she loves getting lost in a good romance book.

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Vanishing Act by A.M. Madden to read and review.

Burn for Me by Ilona Andrews

#1 New York Times bestselling author Ilona Andrews launches a brand-new Hidden Legacy series, in which one woman must place her trust in a seductive, dangerous man who sets off an even more dangerous desire...

Nevada Baylor is faced with the most challenging case of her detective career—a suicide mission to bring in a suspect in a volatile situation. Nevada isn't sure she has the chops. Her quarry is a Prime, the highest rank of magic user, who can set anyone and anything on fire.

Then she's kidnapped by Connor "Mad" Rogan—a darkly tempting billionaire with equally devastating powers. Torn between wanting to run and wanting to surrender to their overwhelming attraction, Nevada must join forces with Rogan to stay alive.

Rogan's after the same target, so he needs Nevada. But she's getting under his skin, making him care about someone other than himself for a change. And, as Rogan has learned, love can be as perilous as death, especially in the magic world.

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Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

I have loved the husband/wife duo Ilona Andrews since the start of the Kate Daniels series! I was quite eager to try a new series even though paranormal hasn't been my go to genre lately. I'm so glad I picked up this book! Amazing! Yet again, we have a super strong female lead who isn't looking for someone to help her, Nevada can do that all on her own! I love how amazing Andrews write their leading ladies. They are written with strong wills, a bit of innocence, and a lot of butt kicking! The world building is perfectly timed and doesn't give too much info dump on us as readers. Andrews does have a tendency to over-descript, but I wasn't too put off by it because the meat of the story was amazing.

Mad Rogan, our man hero, was written strong and sexy with an abundance of smirk and overconfidence. In other words, just perfect. I only wish we didn't have to refer to Mad Rogan AS Mad Rogan every single time we spoke of him, but that's classic Andrews.

Nevada is a private investigator, she and her family live in the warehouse, which is also their business offices, after having to sell their home to pay for treatment for their dying father. Nevada is trying to keep the business afloat after her dad's death and put her siblings through school. Her mother is ex-military, who was injured during duty, and her grandmother is an armored vehicle tech. In this world people have magic and either you're nothing, or a notable up to a Prime magic user. Nevada has kept her particular magic under wraps for fear of the government manipulating her into using it for nefarious reasons. She's a truth seer, but also so much more than she knows. Mad Rogan is a Prime telekinetic. He can destroy entire downtown areas with barely a blink. When he needs to apprehend the same client that Nevada is also trying to bring in, the two team up and crazy sparks fly. Loved the banter between these characters and Nevada shooting down Mad's advances at each turn. Awesome cat and mouse that made me reach for book two without a pause. I'm excited for a great new series!!!

OMG... This has to be the best book I've read in quite a while. I absolutely could not put it down. I LOVED every single character we met and each was so different while playing such important roles in both the characters’ lives and the story.

Oh... Rogan. Mad Rogan. So strong and stubborn and... wonderful. The poor man has been through quite a bit and people fear him because of that, but not Nevada. Well, she does, but she is determined to not let that stop her from getting her job done and protecting her family and the city of Houston.

There is so much about this book that I enjoyed I can't put it into words. The plot is great. The hero is great. The twists are wonderful. Oh, and then there are the sarcastic one-liners that had me laughing unexpectedly.

I can't wait to get my hands on more of this couple.

I can’t stop fangirling over this series! I read this first story in a single sitting and ended up reading the whole trilogy back to back. This is brilliant, action-packed Urban Fantasy writing. Within the first few pages, Nevada joined the ranks of Mercy, Gin, and Anita and Cat as one of my favourite kick ass UF heroines.

When we meet Nevada, she’s an underdog. Born poor, to a family without much useful magic in a world where magic is everything, Nevada relies on her brains and her skills to keep her family together. She’s smart, brave, and loyal – and she’s got more magic than she wants anyone to know.

I love that Nevada is determined not to make this a romance. She is courted by two dangerous, handsome bad boys, both full of charm and flattery, but her priorities are clear. Nevada needs to save her family business and she doesn’t have time for romance. I love her sarcastic rebuttals and her refusal to accept help. In this first book, readers warm quickly to Mad Rogan but Nevada doesn’t let herself. The result is wonderful chemistry and an intense, slow build of emotion that I wouldn’t quite call a romance.

Mad Rogan remains an enigma for most of this story. He is a living legend with unquantifiable destructive power. We first meet him when he kidnaps Nevada and his later attempts to redeem himself don’t always go to plan. But I couldn’t help falling hard for him, and anyone who loves a bad boy will be madly in love with him well before the end of the first book.

I love Nevada’s slightly dystopian world where magical abilities provide power; a world where wealth and magic have created a structured caste system in a parallel USA. Each character has a different magical ability, which makes for fascinating superhero style action sequences. And this story is full of action. It is also full of layered plots and subplots. Some resolve in this first book but this is the first in a trilogy and I’d dare any reader not to pick up the second book the moment this finishes.

The difference between good UF and unforgettable UF always lies in the characters. Alongside Nevada and Mad Rogan, Nevada’s family makes this series special. Nevada may front the family PI business, but she is supported by her tank building grandmother and her sniper mother. Nevada’s siblings and cousins are equally quirky and the whole family only gets better as the book and the series progresses. Together, they have the strength and the smarts to stand up to the wealthy and powerful members of Houston’s elite.

3 stars in total
2 stars on the world-building
5 stars on the entertainment factor.

As a fan of the writing duo, I was ecstatic to start this series. I was hooked from the first page, finding Nevada intriguing, her family giving off the warm and fuzzies. As the book evolved, I kept stumbling as I read. There is a lot of extraneous information on the pages, unnecessary minutiae. But it was the world-building I had the most problem with. I was confused for 100% of the entire book, and I'm hoping it's explained and expanded as the series progresses further.

I need to state I'm not a stranger to either Urban Fantasy or the writing style of Ilona Andrews. But the delivery and execution of the world-building was a huge problem for me. I just rolled with it, getting the rough outline of what was going on in the world, but where I needed finer details, there were none, because it was buried beneath a ton of minutiae that wasn't of any importance to the progression of the story.

The intriguing characters kept my interests when the story itself lost me. Nevada is a strong character – loyal, practical, flawed and insecure, and compassionate, and this creates a fully developed narrator who is easy to relate to and root for – however, I found how she was instantly attracted to every male a bit out of character, like tween crushing levels of "OMG, he's so hot!" (both figuratively and literally). This made her appear to be vapid and immature, when that wasn't how she was written to be. Nevada kept equating Mad Rogan to a dragon. Not to point out the obvious, but wouldn't that have been more apt for Adam, our pyro? Ya know, dragons and FIRE?

The secondary cast was just as intriguing. Nevada's entire family were a pleasure to see interact with her. There was a ton of characters, family, side characters, and mentioned characters. Then there are Mad Rogan and Adam, who most definitely hit on my psycho meter (I have a thing for the crazy guys in fiction).

Be forewarned: many readers may not enjoy a romantic entanglement which began via kidnapping, drugging, violence, and remained on an extortion level throughout the book, sometimes taunting and abusive in the way they interact. There is a difference between alpha behavior and abusive behavior – one is a personality trait and the other is about control and a lack of respect for their partner. Mad Rogan is no alpha.

I also need to state, this book/series rings more toward paranormal romance than Urban Fantasy. The cover and title most certainly describe the contents to a certain extent, but at the same time, it's almost like the book had an identity crisis. The title and cover are more paranormal romance in nature (the title suggests she's with Adam, not Rogan. Burn?), yet it's not sexual enough to be PNR, but not enough solid world-building to be UF. Identity crisis.

Gavin (Mad Rogan's cousin) and Adam were significant for 50% of the book, and just dissolved for the last half as the story warped into 'using action to bring about a romantic entanglement.' The storyline itself was interesting, what I could grasp of it, but it devolved into a means to an end to propel Rogan and Nevada into each other's orbit for the sake of 'romance.' The conclusion – ultimate reason/true 'enemy' for all that was occurring on the pages was ridiculous.

I'd go in-depth and explain the magic system in Burn for Me, but that's the problem. It was never truly explained. Nevada was too into describing everyone's clothing, actions, and even what coffee mugs they were holding. One of the first pieces of advice I received as a writer was by an Urban Fantasy author. "Just say the character waved. Every reader envisions that. Don't waste time explaining how the arm moved the wrist to move the hand. Just say the character waved." In other words, if it's not important, doesn't set the scene, or propel the story forward, don't put it on the page. Don't waste your time or the reader's. This is Urban Fantasy, explain the world-building, and don't detail every character's clothing choices or redundantly express how hot they are, and not in the way Adam makes them hot.

When it came time for Nevada to know something (which I felt was odd, since she was of this world, and a magic-user too, but she was kept in the dark, because the readers were in the dark, yet it made her seem incompetent and unintelligent), someone would explain it to her (and us, the readers) in an info-dump. The book was filled with so much information, the important stuff was buried or not even shown.

There are families (or houses) where Primes hold the upper echelon of power in the community. Primes are the strongest magic-users, with levels of magical strength filtering out throughout the rest of the population. But the magic was never truly explained or explored on the pages. All the sudden, another type of magic would be used on the pages, and the authors would explain how it's a major one (but Nevada's isn't). It was random, not plotted out, and cropped up out of nowhere. But when a character came on scene, Nevada would go on a five-page tangent about their entire family history, with at least six characters from maternal and paternal great-grandparents, to sisters, cousins, and friends of the family – I had NO idea who these people were, if I should take notes (because there was no way I was going to remember it), and multiple mentions of how magic wasn't prevalent 'back then' but never explained (truly) how, when, where these magic abilities cropped up. Eventually this was explained, but it didn't feel definitive. Everything was 'hinted' around, but never truly explored, easily warped to fill a plot hole.

To be honest, the book felt as if it were written on the fly, not plotted out in-depth. "We better explain this *here*" the authors said to each other. So they used an info-dump that sometimes contradicted a previous info-dump. I'm hoping as the series unfolds this will feel more organic and flow better, with a solid world-building foundation that won't change on a whim.

I enjoyed the characters, the speed the story unfolded, and am intrigued to see where it heads next. I enjoy this author duo, but the execution on this first-in-a-new-series book wasn't organically flowing and easy for the reader to get a grasp on the world-building (because I felt the authors didn't have a grasp on their own world-building).

Ilona Andrews is the pseudonym for a husband-and-wife writing team. Ilona is a native-born Russian and Gordon is a former communications sergeant in the U.S. Army. Contrary to popular belief, Gordon was never an intelligence officer with a license to kill, and Ilona was never the mysterious Russian spy who seduced him. They met in college, in English Composition 101, where Ilona got a better grade. (Gordon is still sore about that.) They have co-authored two New York Times and USA Today bestselling series—the urban fantasy of Kate Daniels and the romantic urban fantasy of The Edge—and are working on the next volumes for both. They live in Texas with their two children and many dogs and cats.

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Burn for Me (Hidden Legacy #1) by Ilona Andrews to read and review. Review copy purchased by blog.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Gnarly by Mickie B. Ashling

Dr. Ed Hollingsworth, widowed for five years, returns to San Sebastián, Spain, after a thirty-year absence. He seeks out his first and only male lover, pro surfer Javi Elizalde.

After surviving a near-fatal shark attack, Javi turned his back on the sport he loves and became a recluse.

Iker Lizaso, professional jai alai player, finds himself at loose ends now that his contract has expired. Forced to retire at thirty-eight, he returned to his home in the Basque Country to figure out what to do with the rest of his life.

Three different men, encumbered by their past, converge in a city famous for its food, summer festivals, and romantic promenades. Can they find happiness together? It’ll be difficult, maybe even improbable, considering their backgrounds, but Cupid’s arrow usually hits the mark, and this particular strike might be epic.

World of Love: Stories of romance that span every corner of the globe.

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Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

I have to admit that I had a really hard time with the first half of this book. It just seemed very slow moving. However, I understand that it was necessary to build the history and explain what each of the characters had been through up to that point. But once we got over that hump, the story was just so much more interesting to me. Watching the three men figure out how they fit together, while also dealing with life changing and evolving around them.

It was wonderful to watch as Javi pulled himself from depression to turn back into the man he'd once been. His two men each helped in their own ways and together. It was just fantastic.

I liked Iker, but he was sort of an added bonus in my opinion. Sure, he made their love scenes sexier than ever, but he didn't really see a whole lot of growth in my opinion except for figuring out what he wanted to do with his life since the career he'd once had was over.

Now, Ed. He was by far my favorite character even if I did want to kick him in the rear from time to time. There was just so much that he had to go through. I loved the scene when he came out to his boys, but that's all I want to say about that so I don't give anything away. I felt like Ed was the one that had to work the hardest and the one that had to make the most sacrifices through the story, but he was also the one that really learned a lot about who he was and what was important to him.

This is a wonderfully complex second chance romance between three slightly older men. Ed returns to San Sebastian a widower with grown children. He has fond memories of a college summer fling with a beautiful surfer and he is drawn back to a time when his life was much simpler. Javi never forgot his American lover but the former champion surfer is struggling to adjust to life as an amputee and to find a reason for life after surfing. Together, the men meet a third, slightly younger man who is also dealing with important life changes.

This isn’t an easy story. All three men are complex and their lives have been both interesting and challenging. Where many ménage stories are written as erotica, this story focuses more on the emotional connection between Ed, Javi, and Iker. It is definitely still a sexy read, but it isn’t only a sexy read. At times, this story moves slowly. All three men have lived full lives and the relationships between them build gradually. This is a thoughtful study of middle life and the unexpected moments that change expectations, needs, and desires.

The author brings the magical Basque region of Spain to life beautifully. The wonderful description the beaches, the food, and Javi’s bar had me desperate to return to Javi and Iker’s beautiful home. The Basque country is a very special place and the writer definitely does it justice.

I really enjoyed these three slightly life-worn older men who are willing to explore new possibilities together. The story is more thoughtful and reflective than exciting, but there is a warmth and depth to the writing that really resonated with me.

This is an interesting mix of a book, starting way back in Spain the mid-80s, and then fast forwarding 30 years... and a whole lifetime of experiences for both Ed and Javi. Ed moved on and is now widowed and looking for... well he isn't quite sure what, but maybe if he finds Javi, he will know. But the Javi he finds is someone battered by life and loss. He does, however, rally at Ed's arrival, and feel jealousy when Ed spends the evening with Iker.

There is a lot to grab your interest in this book, and it gets super hot when the three men realise that maybe there is something in the feelings that they all have for each other. I am always curious as to whether one feels like the third, and this is addressed really well here – and in a slightly unexpected way, given their original insecurities. Some really fun moments, like Ed with his boys, and some extremely hot ones too.

This book, for me, is a success!

The blurb for this book captivated me and I couldn't wait to dive in. Once I started reading this book all my enthusiasm left. The book was very wordy, there were pages upon pages without dialogue and I just couldn't connect to any of the characters. I put the book down several times and each time I picked it back up it was the same. Even the sex scenes couldn't pull me out of the blah feeling I had. Javi, Ed, and Iker could have been something great together, but I just didn't feel it. Then Ed was afraid of telling anyone he was bi and he didn't even tell anyone until the second to the last or the last chapter of the book. Plus, we didn't really get much closure. Sure, Ed came back for the holidays but how long did that go on? Was he ever going to move to be with Javi and Iker full time? It was just one long drawn out book that I couldn't connect with any of the characters.

MICKIE B. ASHLING is the pseudonym of a multifaceted woman who is a product of her upbringing in multiple cultures, having lived in Japan, the Philippines, Spain, and the Middle East. Fluent in three languages, she’s a citizen of the world and an interesting mixture of East and West. A little bit of this and a lot of that have brought a unique touch to her literary voice she could never learn from textbooks.

By the time Mickie discovered her talent for writing, real life got in the way, and the business of raising four sons took priority. With the advent of e-publishing—and the inevitable emptying nest—dreams of becoming a published writer were resurrected and she’s never looked back.

She stumbled into the world of men who love men in 2002 and continues to draw inspiration from their ongoing struggle to find equality and happiness in this oftentimes skewed and intolerant world. Her award-winning novels have been called “gut-wrenching, daring, and thought provoking.” She admits to being an angst queen and making her men work damn hard for their happy endings.

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Gnarly (World of Love) by Mickie B. Ashling to read and review.