“Dirty Games” – HelenKay Dimon

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Justin works for Drummond Enterprises’ Charitable arm in Morocco. Finn Drummond arrives to help Justin investigate why shipments are missing or not delivered. Justin has lusted after Finn for many years, but due to Justin’s hang-ups around wealth & entitlement, plus an assumption that Finn was straight, Justin has deemed Finn off limits. Justin also suffers from abandonment issues, making him a hot mess and fearful of commitment. Emotionally he’s pretty juvenile and self sabotage is his weapon of choice.
Finn’s arrival at the refugee camp, instead of his older brother Alec, throws Justin for a massive loop, causing him to lash out with snark & a shitty attitude. Despite Justin’s best efforts to keep Finn at arm’s length, their attraction for each other and despite the risks in a predominantly Muslim country where homosexuality is pretty much illegal, they hook up. Justin feels like he can’t risk his heart but after a series of attempts on Finn’s life, Justin & Finn grow closer.
Loved the twists and turns in the suspense.
Oliver, Justin’s right hand man was a delight. I hope he gets a novella… hint hint .

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“His Convenient Husband”- Robin Covington

Buy from Amazon here: http://amzn.to/2HNpQ5k

M/M Romance, Marriage of Convenience. Single Parent.

Isaiah is a widowed, gay NFL Player with an artistic non-binary son. He’s pretty much a Papa Bear, protecting his son, still dealing with his grief when he crosses paths with Gender Fluid Chechen Ballet Dancer Victor Aleksandrov. Victor is in a precarious position after speaking out against the atrocities committed against gays in Chechnya. Victor and Isaiah have a hot hot hot one night stand, but don’t anticipate seeing each other again afterwards in spite of the fact they share an agent.
After being refused asylum in the US Isaiah offers to marry Victor to prevent him having to return home (yay thanks downfall of DOMA). Of course they begin to have feelings for each other but keep those under-wraps for the sake of Isaiah’s Son and because after 2-3 years & Victor’s naturalization, they intend to head their separate ways. Personally I loved the push-pull between these two very different characters. You had an out and proud man who risked his life to fight for the protection of others, you also have a much more subdued gay man who’s trying to just get through life after a devastating loss, he hasn’t needed to fight as much and bears a heavy responsibility trying to do the best by his unusual son. This story isn’t neat and tidy with everyone making the right decisions all the time, you have two adults messing up, trying to do their best, trying to get by.
I thought it was great and look forward to reading more in this series and by this author.

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“My Once and Future Duke” – Caroline Linden

Buy from Amazon here: http://amzn.to/2Fx8ngL

Regency Set Historical Romance. Force Proximity.
Enjoyed this story flip where the Heroine is the one out there gambling to earn a fortune. It’s not for nefarious reasons, but to ensure she has some stability in the future in case she can’t get herself a husband. As a 21st century single woman with no kids I completely understand the drive to ensure that I’ll be financially stable in the future. The only person I can rely on fiscally is me. I was nice to have a self reliant autonomous heroine, who, although getting married was an option, it wasn’t her only option. She wasn’t desperate to marry and in fact was wary of relinquishing her autonomy due to those blasted legal rules that subjugate married women to chattle.
Once again we have my favourite kind of Hero, the curmudgeonly one, however Jack (a.k.a. Ware) relinquishes this facade during his enforced proximity with Sophie at his country estate. His brother Philip, who was the instigator of a lot of nonsense that put our heroine in jeopardy, needed a smack upside the head. I suspect we’ll see it in a future book. Great start to a new series.

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“A Hope Divided” – Alyssa Cole

Amazon Buy Link here: http://amzn.to/2GGf9QM

These are not easy times and Alyssa Cole does not go easy on these Characters. Marlie is a Free woman, Half Black, Half White. She is raised from an early age in her white family’s house with most of the privileges & protection that come with that. She’s taken all the herbalist knowledge her mother taught her in her youth and enhanced it with a love of science. Her semi peaceful life is shattered with the arrival of her secessionist sister in law who aids the Home Guard putting Marlie’s life in jeopardy. Ewan McCall, Unionist Soldier, escapes from prison, where he’d met, admired and discussed philosophy with Marlie. He finds himself a refugee at Marlie’s house, hidden away in her sanctuary, both of them trying to survive.

As someone who didn’t grow up in the US my Civil War knowledge is exceptionally limited. I love this series of books as they drop you into the difficult lives of African Americans experiencing the harshest of times, and yet they leave you with the knowledge that even in the most treacherous of times, there is still family and love and hope to be found.

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“Smoke & Mirrors” – Julie Rowe

Amazon Buy Link Here: http://amzn.to/2CGFwDZ

I love this series (which is a spin off of the previous series). STEM Heroine (CDC Nurse), Ex-Military Hero. On a routine project in rural Utah, Kini finds herself under attack for unknown reasons, getting t-boned, scratched messages on her care etc. Lyle Smoke is returning home after 8 years in Special Forces. He’s naturally an Alpha man and seeing Kini under attack, provokes him to accept the CDC Outbreak Task Force offer from his friend River (hero of book 1) to work alongside Kini. Smoke is struggling with returning home & his guilt over his son and baby mama’s death, plus fearing losing control over the inbuilt rage 8 years service has left him with. Kini is a solitary woman whose past means relying on other people is impossible.. As these flawed people are forced to work together to get to the source of the recent Hantavirus outbreak, mayhem, death and intrigue break out. Can they solve the mystery and their personal issues too?
ARC received from Netgalley in return for an honest review

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“Honesty” – Seth King

Amazon Buy Link here: http://amzn.to/2omwwQ3
Available under Kindle Unlimited

A story of first love with two teen (early college) boys, Cole and Nicky. It’s almost YA in that the characters are very young, They’re not setting out into the big yonder after college and given that this is their first same sex relationship, it feels YA-y.

Set in the Deep South where homosexuality is still the cause of much prejudice and hatred. This book is sweet and sad, frustrating and enlightening, passionate and evocative. Your heart is pulled in so many directions wanting this to work out, understanding why it’s failing, watching the destructive nature of the relationship. Yet for me it didn’t have the emotional impact that The Summer Remains did, and that was what I was expecting. Knowing that this is based on a true story, it’s well worth the read to gain an understanding of what a young gay kid in a deeply repressed community goes through, all the micro and macro agressions.

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“Heaven and Hell” – Kristen Ashley

Amazon Buy Link Here: http://amzn.to/2BO8gOk

Classic Kristen Ashley. This book exists in the Rock Chick/The Burg Universe, although it’s not apparent until about 2/3 the way in. I might have squealed when I realised! This book reminded me of why I love KAs Heros. They have an emotional intelligence underneath their alpha facade. It can be hard to deal with some of the ways they apply that intelligence as it can feel like they bully their way through, but its usually in a “tough love” way. As always I come away wanting to borrow a little of the heroine’s personality and having more men, like the hero, in my life.
Lordie this book needs a better cover though.
CW/TW: Discussion of domestic abuse.

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“Everything You Need To Know” – HelenKay Dimon

Amazon Buy Link Here: http://amzn.to/2sSj7DJ

Jordan secretly runs a website called “Need to Know” that collates reports from women about the men they date in order to help others avoid the douchecanoes. She’ll often do the ground work herself to confirm/deny reports. Forest encounters her when she’s assessing one of the men (Ryan) by working as a temp at his office. Sparks fly, attraction is undeniable, they start dating. Turns out they both come from dysfunctional families. When Ryan goes on the attack saying his deal with Forest fell through because of incorrect rumours started on Jordan’s website, she has to choose between revealing her biggest secret & thereby her anonimity and losing her man.

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“Idol” – Kristen Callihan

Amazon Buy Link Here: http://amzn.to/2ovA7KP

Pretty standard RockStar romance. Hiding out after almost losing his BFF and fellow Kill John bandmate Killian crashes into Libby’s life, figuratively & literally. Libby is the daughter of a an old school session musician who died, along with Libby’s mom in a recent car accident. After realising who Killian is, it turns out Libby has singing and playing chops. Killian comes up with a plan for Libby to join him on the road and play with the band. Libby wants to keep their relationship secret so the rest of the band doesn’t think she’s just there because she’s sleeping with the lead singer (which she totes is btw). Friction and tension ensue and Libby gets the chance to branch out on her own, but it means leaving Killian behind…

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“Paris A Go Go” – Tracy Whiting

Amazon Link Here: http://amzn.to/2BRFHzc

Maybe would have gotten more from this if I’d read the 1st one. Set in Paris mainly, Havilah is kinda dating Thierry who was her French police force bodyguard linked to a murder in the first book. Now she’s caught up in another series of murders based around the anti-immigrant movement in France. Given that this was set in 2010, it felt incredibly pertinent to a lot of the current discussions around immigrants and assimilation. I did get confused every now and then with all the secondary characters floating around, and frustrated how Havilah slut shamed people at several instances in the book. There were even a few moments of double standards, but her Aunt Neet called her out amazingly in those instances. It was a fun read, pretty “clean” read i.e no doing the do, for *reasons*, but I don’t feel the need to read more in the series.

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