[Blog Tour] Annabeth Albert ~ Squared Away + Giveaway

When a SEAL medic inherits three young children, he must battle to keep the family together and keep his long-held feelings for the man challenging him for custody at bay.

Squared Away

Series: Out of Uniform #5

Publisher: Carina Press

Release Date (Print & Ebook): April 16. Print, ebook, and audio all available.

Length (Print & Ebook): 80,000 words

Subgenre: m/m military romance

Includes: military romance, insta-family, hurt/comfort, angst, interracial, heroes-with-kids, gay romance, demisexual/gray ace hero, first time, loss, reunion, forced proximity

 

Links:

Amazon | Paperback | Audible | iBooks | Kobo | B&N | Carina Press

Synopsis:

In the wake of tragedy, SEAL Mark Whitley rushed stateside to act as guardian to his sister’s three young children. But a conflicting will could give custody to someone else—someone Mark remembers as a too young, too hot, wild party boy. Even after six years, Mark can’t shake the memory of his close encounter with Isaiah James, or face up to what it says about his own sexuality.

Isaiah’s totally over the crush that made him proposition Mark all those years ago. In fact, he’s done with crushing on the wrong men altogether. For now, he’s throwing himself into proving he’s the best person to care for his cousin’s kids. But there’s no denying there’s something sexy about a big, tough military man with a baby in his arms.

As the legal details get sorted out, their long-buried attraction resurfaces, leading to intimate evenings after the kids are tucked in. A forever future is within reach for all of them, if only Mark can find the courage he needs to trust Isaiah with his secrets—and his heart.

What Annabeth Albert has to say about this book in her Out of Uniform series:

“I wanted to write a book about the nature of family and how loss and tragedy can shape family, mold it into something stronger, force growth and change. I’m enormously proud of SQUARED AWAY as a result because how I fell in love with this little family.”

“When Wizard first appeared in ON POINT as a secondary character, I was intrigued by him, but it wasn’t until I let myself get into his head that I really saw how complicated he was. I feel honored and privileged to have been able to tell his story.”

“No book gets written in a vacuum and this one is no different. I owe a huge debt on this book to my sensitivity readers who really encouraged me to dig deep.”

Praise for the series:

“Mark and Isaiah’s budding relationship happens with sensitivity and steamy moments…” RT Book Reviews on SQUARED AWAY

“Annabeth Albert’s Out of Uniform series is a unique look at SEALs’ lives, showing us the insides of their hearts and homes and the love that drives them.” ~Layla Reyne, author of the Agents Irish and Whisky series.

Short Excerpts

It was not a date. Mark had been on those, and they usually made him feel like his clothes were three sizes too small, all buttoned up and uncomfortable. Hanging out with Isaiah was nothing like that. Sure he drove Mark nuts, but he was also fun, making Mark relax in a way he did with few others, and that had been the case ever since their first meeting. And despite himself, despite everything that had happened, he found himself looking forward to the rest of the day. And that was something he hadn’t thought possible.

Damn it. Liking Isaiah was just too easy. He needed to be careful.

About Annabeth Albert:

Annabeth Albert grew up sneaking romance novels under the bed covers. Now, she devours all subgenres of romance out in the open—no flashlights required! When she’s not adding to her keeper shelf, she’s a multi-published Pacific Northwest romance writer. The #OutOfUniform series joins her critically acclaimed and fan-favorite LGBTQ romance #Gaymers, #PortlandHeat and #PerfectHarmony series. To find out what she’s working on next and other fun extras, check out her website: www.annabethalbert.com or connect with Annabeth on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Spotify! Also, be sure to sign up for her newsletter for free ficlets, bonus reads, and contests. The fan group, Annabeth’s Angels, on Facebook is also a great place for bonus content and exclusive contests.

Emotionally complex, sexy, and funny stories are her favorites both to read and to write. Annabeth loves finding happy endings for a variety of pairings and is a passionate gay rights supporter.  In between searching out dark heroes to redeem, she works a rewarding day job and wrangles two active children.

Connect with Annabeth:

Twitter | Facebook | Facebook Group | Newsletter | Instagram | Website

Giveaway:

win 1 of 2 ecopies of any back catalog book by Annabeth Albert:

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Direct Giveaway Link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/88d45f0353/


Here is my review for Squared Away in case you are interested how I liked it

>> HERE <<

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Interview with E.M. Leya

1. Tell us something about you. Who are you? What books do you write?

I’m a single mother of a beautiful daughter who lives in Utah. I’m a recluse but when I do venture out it’s usually to the mountains or some quiet spot. I love the outdoors and was raised on a very large ranch.
As for the books I write, I write a little of everything romance. I have Christian romance, erotica, LGBT romance, and good old MF romances too. If an idea comes to mind, I write it. I refuse to be stuck in one genre.

2. What’s the latest book you’ve written?

The latest book I’ve written is Secret. It is book two of my Save The Kids Series and deals with a group of vigilante pedophile hunters who help to save and rescue kids while making vile perverts pay for their crimes.

3. Anything you want to share about your upcoming book(s)?

My next release is Blinded. It is book 3 of my Terrin Pass Wolves series. It’s a story about recovering from a violent attack and learning to trust and love. It should be out the end of April.

4. What’s your biggest struggle while writing?

My biggest struggle is staying focused and not getting distracted by social media or other things going on around me.

5. Any favourite drinks or snacks you need to have while you’re writing?

Coffee! I drink a lot of coffee through the day. More than is probably heathy. I also suck on cough drops and other hard candy as I write.

6. How do you come up with the ideas for your various series?

Ideas come from everywhere. The idea for the STK book came from watching pedophile hunting groups in the UK. While they stay within the law, my mind took things a bit farther for the books. I love to people watch and come up with ideas all the time just watching people around me.

7. Anyone who inspired you to pick up writing or was that something you always wanted to do?

I’ve always been writing. I started in about seventh grade and haven’t stopped. I have files of old stories I wrote in high school. It took years to get the courage to publish, but writing has always been in my blood.

8. Any tips for new writers?

Stop listening to others tell you how. Stop worrying about the rules. Let the words flow. You are probably better than you think, and you are overthinking. Get the words out and go from there. You can edit a mess, but you can’t edit a blank page!

9. Are you planning a new series in the future?

I don’t have any new series planned as of now, but I do have a few hundred stand-alone ideas that I will be working on. I’m going to push to do more MF romances along with the MM romances I’m more known for.

10. Any writing goals for 2018?

To continue to write and bring the ideas to life on page.

11. What is one word you are using way too often while writing and have to edit out? (Mine are ‘quite’ and ‘though’ when I write reviews)

Actually, pushed, pulled, breath are the words I have to watch myself on.

12. When you’re not writing, what do you love to do?

I love to swim, read, hike, camp, I’m a dooms-day prepper, and I love to travel and show my daughter the world now that she is old enough to enjoy it.


 Random questions that I came up with while on the bus to university:

1. If you could have any type of superpower, what would it be? Any reasons why?

I’d love to fly. I think it would be amazing to see the world from high above.

2. If you could go on vacation anywhere, regardless the cost, where would you like to go?

Israel. I’ve always wanted to go there and see the Holy Land.

3. Water or soda drinks?

Both. I love both. I drink too much soda and not enough water, but if I had to pick one favorite drink it would be coffee.

4. Popcorn buttered or salted, or even sweetened (which is the normal type here in Germany, we don’t have buttered, and rarely salted)?

Extra butter, no salt. I love greasy buttered popcorn.

5. What countries have you visited or want to visit?

I’ve been to Canada, Mexico, Jamaica so far. I would love to get over to the UK and also Israel.

6. Do you speak a second language? Or do you wish you could speak a second language, which one would you like to be able to speak?

I am fluent in Sign Language, speak Navajo, and some broken Spanish.

7. If you could pick one animal from a zoo to keep as a pet, what would it be?

An elephant. I’ve always loved them.

8. Are you more of a sneaker or high heels type of girl?

I don’t own a single pair of heels. Sneakers all the way if I have to wear shoes at all. If I can get away with it I go barefoot.

9. What’s your favourite colour of nail polish?

I don’t wear any, but I love how greens look on others.

10. Favourite season: spring, summer, autumn or winter?

Spring is my favorite when everything is new and fresh.

11. What’s the one thing you can’t live without?

Coffee!

12. Favourite fruit?

Apples. I can make so much with them and have them so many different ways.

13. What was your favourite subject in school and what was your least favourite?

History was my favorite class. I’m still a huge history buff. The class I hated and still hate is math!

About the author

My name is Emma Marie Leya aka E.M Leya.

I live with my daughter and my pets in Salt Lake City, Utah. When I am not writing, I’m an avid swimmer with a passion for the mountains. I can often be found playing outdoors.

Writing has been a major part for my entire life, only recently did I take the time to fine tune and publish my work so others might enjoy it.

My main interest is writing Gay Romance and I am active supporter of the LGBT community.

Website | Goodreads | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon DE | Facebook Group  


In case you are interested in my review for Pain, the first book in the STK series, here it is.

[Review] Pain by E.M. Leya

About the book

Pain
(Save The Kids #1)
by E.M. Leya
ebook
Publication Date: December 12th 2017 by E.L. Publishing

When his daughter is kidnapped, Matt’s life screeches to a halt. He would do anything to get his daughter back, but first he needs to find her. When the police exhaust all possible leads, Matt does the only thing he can do — he uses his hacking skills to infiltrate the dark web. Torn, he desperately hopes he finds a lead on his daughter among the heartbreaking details he comes across, yet prays she isn’t one of the countless children being victimized for thousands to watch.

Xander is a tough, bearded, tattooed pedophile hunter, working for a team who takes down some of the most dangerous people in the country. He doesn’t have time for love or relationships, at least until he meets Matt. Xander’s never let anyone get close, but there is something about Matt that draws him in, and it’s more than just concern for his daughter.

Xander and Matt come together explosively, both searching for a distraction from the darkness they face, but what they didn’t expect were feelings to form. Matt finds himself leaning on Xander and his team for support, while doing what he can to help them find and protect other children from the darkness creeping into their world, never once giving up hope that they’ll get a lead on his daughter.

One phone call threatens to change everything, and when faced with a new reality, the two of them must decide if what they have is worth fighting for. What they need to realize is, sometimes finding the one person who calms you can make it all worthwhile.

review

I wasn’t quite sure if I should write a full-length review for Pain or Secret (the second book of the Save The Kids series). In the end I decided to go with the first book, Pain, because that is normally the book you start a series with, right? If you’re not me, that is. I, of course, started with the second book first, like usually. I don’t know when I finally will be able to pick up the first book in a series first. Maybe it will happen someday. But because of this, I can always tell you if a book is readable without needing to read the other books of a series. Both, Pain and Secret, are perfectly fine to be read as stand-alones.

I will say that this series isn’t for someone who’s squeamish and doesn’t want to read violent scenes, there are some here. Child abuse is also talked about, but the actual abuse happens off page.

I really liked the writing style and the dynamics between the characters. Also poor Faith, she was so strong and I loved her relationship with Xander, I loved that guy, don’t judge me 😉

I also loved how Xander and Matt’s casual relationship slowly drifted off to a serious relationship without them even noticing at first. Those two were cute.

I will definitely pick up the third book in the series, if there will be one. I sincerely hope so. No idea what characters it will be about though, maybe Dyson and a new character?

Rating: 4,5 stars

 

ARC REVIEW: Roped In by A.M. Arthur

About the book

Roped In
(Clean Slate Ranch #2)
by A.M. Arthur

ebook
Publication Date: May 21st 2018 by Carina Press
>> Review copy provided by NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion <<

At Clean Slate Ranch, the men are rugged, the trails are rocky and lassos aren’t only used for roping horses

For Colt Woods, Clean Slate Ranch is home. The dude ranch in Northern California helped him heal from a devastating breakup. So when his ex-Dom, the man who broke his heart, waltzes onto the ranch, Colt doesn’t know how to deal.

A research job at a nearby ghost town brings history PhD Avery Hendrix to Clean Slate. He’s not in town forever, but it doesn’t take long for him to feel the familiar draw to Colt. When they find out they’ll be sharing a cabin on the ranch, it’s all Avery can do to stop himself from bending Colt over a saddle right then and there.

In such close proximity, Colt’s and Avery’s old feelings come galloping back. Soon Colt is doing his master’s bidding again and loving every moment of it. And the pair may be in for the ride of their lives—if the dedicated professor and his rugged cowboy can learn to trust again.

review
Roped In is the second installment in the Clean Slate Ranch series and I have to confess to not liking it as much as I liked Wild Trail, the previous book. The main reason for that is the BDSM theme. I’m just not into the whole Dom and Sub thing, or as it is here, the Sir and pet thing.

The other parts of the story I absolutely liked. How Colt had to deal with that big secret of him that’s now out of the bag, and no, I’m not talking about him being gay. That we already knew. You know what secret I’m talking about, if you read book one. Which you absolutely don’t need to have done, before reading Roped In, just saying. The whole dynamics between the different characters I also really liked.

This would have probably been a 4,5 star read, if not for the BDSM thing… which makes me sad, because I basically like everything A.M. Arthur writes.

If you like to read about BDSM and want to have a good angsty M/M read, this is probably a good book for you. Me not so much, but I’m definitely looking forward to Miles’ and Reyes’ story. These two appear broken and I’m really curious.

Rating: 3,5 stars

[Review] One Night with Rhodes by Eden Finley

About the book

One Night with Rhodes
(One Night Series #4)
by Eden Finley

ebook
Publication Date: May 22nd 2017
>> Review copy provided by the author in exchange for my honest opinion <<

Blair Rhodes considers himself an equal opportunity player. He knew from a young age that he wasn’t entirely straight. Ogling his best friend’s older brother was the first thing that tipped him off. But Garrett Erikson is off limits. Always has been. Garrett is as straight as they come.

Garrett’s reputation as a womaniser precedes him, but it’s not who he is. Not even close. And when Blair turns up on his doorstep, heartbroken over a breakup, Garrett knows it’s a bad idea to go drinking with him.

One night is all it takes for everything to change.

For the past ten years, Garrett’s denied his desires to everyone, including himself.
And as much as Blair wants to be the guy Garrett needs, he needs to protect his own heart. Like his ex-boyfriend always told him: “Never mess with the straight ones. It only leads to trouble.”

review

One Night with Rhodes is my second book by Eden Finley, the first one was Fake Out (totally recommend this one, btw).

I will say right away that I loved One Night with Rhodes, except for one tiny things. That thing was this: The first chapter played in 2016, the chapters after that played in the time from 2011 till 2016, for a really big part of the book. I think it took to around 90% till we caught up to that first scene. And while I absolutely did not mind that, it still felt a bit flashback-like. I think if the first chapter wasn’t there I wouldn’t have had that problem. This is me nitpicking by the way, I read the whole thing till 4:30am in the morning, so that should tell you everything.

By the way in case you are considering reading this book, please know that the relationship between Garrett and Blair is an on/off-relationship, so if you don’t want to see the main couple with different partners throughtout this book (only in the off-phase though), this book probably isn’t for you. Just saying.

Blair was a really nice, considerate and patient guy, he didn’t push and I really loved him. Garrett on the other hand, while I also loved him, I wanted to hit him on the head from time to time, just because some of the things he’s done. I get it, but still, sometimes I want the ability to reach into a book and shake some sense into the characters. Who wouldn’t like to have that ability though? 🙂 These two had a lot of ups-and-downs, but I loved those.

If you are into M/M romances, where one of the guy is closeted, with an on/off relationship, this probably is your piece of cake. Did I mention their crazy family/friends? Hilarious. And the sarcasm. I love sarcasm. You might want to give One Night with Rhodes a try.

Rating: 4,5 – 4,75 stars

 

ARC REVIEW: Medley by Layla Reyne

About the book

Medley
(Changing Lanes #2)
by Layla Reyne

ebook
Publication Date: April 23rd 2018 by Riptide Publishing
>> Review copy provided by NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion <<

Sebastian Stewart was never Mr. Dependable; he was more the good-time guy who only wanted to swim, party, and ink tattoos. Until he cost his team the Olympic gold four years ago. Bas is determined to do right this time around—by his medley relay team and his rookie mentee.

Jacob Burrows is in over his head. The Olympic experience—from the hazing, to the endless practices, to the unrelenting media—makes the shy nineteen-year-old’s head spin. He’s trying to be everything to everyone while trying not to fall for his gorgeous tattooed teammate who just gets him—gets his need to fix things, his dorky pirate quips, and his bisexuality.

When Jacob falters under the stress, threatening his individual races and the medley relay gold, he needs Bas’s help to escape from drowning. Bas, however, fearing a repeat of his mistakes four years ago, pushes Jacob away, sure he’ll only let Jacob down. But the only path to salvaging gold is for Jacob to finally ask for what he needs—the heart of the man he loves—and for Bas to become the dependable one.

reviewAfter reading my very first Layla Reyne book, Relay, and liking it (4 stars), her second book, Medley, had three possible ways to go. #1 It could be better than Relay, #2 it could be not as good as Relay, so it would make Relay a fluke, meaning I only liked Relay by this author and won’t like any other books by her #3 or it could be about the same as Relay.

To keep the suspense short, it was about as good as Relay, maybe a teeny-tiny bit better. Spoiler: I’m giving Medley 4,25 stars 🙂 that’s 0,25 stars more than Relay. Like I said teeny-tiny bit.

I can’t tell a specific reason why this one was slightly better than Relay, it probably was just all things combined – which doesn’t mean Relay was bad, like I said 4 stars 😉

We kind of already got a glimpse at the characters of Medley in the previous book and I really liked Bas and Jacob in the previous and in this book. Bas was this calm and collected guy who tried his damnest not to mess up and Jacob was a cute, clumpsy, way to observant guy who tried to do his best. Those two together just worked, they were like pieces of a puzzle that fit together. Their drama wasn’t overly over the top, but it was there, so if you’re not a fan of drama, back out now. I personally love drama, especially the kind of drama they had.

What I also really liked was that we got another glimpse at Dane and Alex’s relationship. I love it when previous couples are still included – in this case they had to because they were on the swimming team lol.

Also some people didn’t like in the previous book that swimming and the whole Olympia thing weren’t really that much of a deal. Guess what, in Medley it is a pretty big deal, as they are in the midst of the Olympics. So here you go, people! There is your swimming competition! Satisfied now?

Did I mention I was watching the Winterolympics on TV while reading this book? No? I was. Lol.

The writing style sucked me in as much as it already did in the first book. Also I really liked that Layla Reyne mentioned a german speaking country, in this case Austria. We germans are not enough mentioned in fiction romances. 😉

Overall I really liked Medley and can totally recommened it to anyone that wants to read a swimming related m/m romance. Also I really hope there will be a third book, not really sure if that will actually happen since I don’t have a clue what characters that could be about and what the whole setting would be, but I would definitely read it. Just saying.

Rating: 4,25 stars

 

ARC Review: Squared Away by Annabeth Albert

About the book

Squared Away
by Annabeth Albert
ebook
Publication Date: April 16th 2018 by Carina Press
>> Review copy provided by NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion <<

In the wake of tragedy, SEAL Mark Whitley rushed stateside to act as guardian to his sister’s three young children. But a conflicting will could give custody to someone else—someone Mark remembers as a too young, too hot, wild party boy. Even after six years, Mark can’t shake the memory of his close encounter with Isaiah James, or face up to what it says about his own sexuality.

Isaiah’s totally over the crush that made him proposition Mark all those years ago. In fact, he’s done with crushing on the wrong men altogether. For now, he’s throwing himself into proving he’s the best person to care for his cousin’s kids. But there’s no denying there’s something sexy about a big, tough military man with a baby in his arms.

As the legal details get sorted out, their long-buried attraction resurfaces, leading to intimate evenings after the kids are tucked in. A forever future is within reach for all of them, if only Mark can find the courage he needs to trust Isaiah with his secrets—and his heart.

review

After not liking the previous book Wheels Up as much as I hoped I would – I’m just not a big fan of those boss + subordinate settings – we are back to me liking Squared Away as much as all the other books, meaning it got 4,5 stars. Just a head-up.

Be aware that if you don’t like reading about kids, this book won’t be for you, because the kids take a big part of the book and let me say they were adorable. I  personally couldn’t care less if children are part of a book or not, it’s ok if they are a part and it’s ok if there are not. As long as they are not super annoying – never read about annoying kids in a book – I’m good.

I really liked how the relationship between Mark and Isaiah progressed, but I knew what the big fallout between them would be from the very start. It was obvious, but throughout the whole book I hoped that Annabeth Albert would choose a different way. Still I waited for the other shoe to drop and sadly it did. That “twist” made sense, but it was a bit unnecessary, all they would have needed was a bit more communication, but I’m picky when it comes to that. Don’t mind me. Otherwise I really liked the dynamics between Mark and Isaiah and also between those two and the kids.

Also I’m happy that Annabeth Albert introduced some different sexualities as well, which I won’t name. Read the book if you’re curious 😉

Overall I was really happy with this book and can’t wait to read the next one, which I hope will be about Bacon – the guy, not the food. If Annabeth Albert ever chose to write a book about talking food I would probably still read it though, just saying. LOL.

Rating: 4,5 stars

[Review] Cost of Repairs by A.M. Arthur

About the book

Cost of Repairs
(Cost of Repairs #1)
by A.M. Arthur

ebook
Publication Date: June 5th 2012
>> Review copy provided by A.M. Arthur in exchange for my honest opinion <<

Samuel Briggs moved to small-town Stratton, Pennsylvania, to escape his tragic past and try to start over. When he’s not out walking his beat as a police officer, all he wants is peace, a manageable routine, and time to fix up his newly-purchased project home. And Samuel absolutely does not have room in his new routines for a relationship. Except a chance encounter with a handsome diner cook unexpectedly shakes his resolve.

Rey King lives for his work as a short-order cook, part-time hardware salesman, and full-time handyman. He’s in debt up to his eyeballs, so he isn’t looking for complications. And the gorgeous blond cop who comes to Rey’s rescue is a complication he definitely doesn’t need. Lucky for him, Samuel feels the same way.

But what starts as an afternoon of no-strings sex inevitably complicates itself, as the two men learn how deeply each other’s emotional damage goes. When Rey is seriously injured protecting a friend, their already shaky foundation cracks a little more. Samuel barely pulled his life back together after his first lover’s death and falling in love again isn’t part of his recovery plan. He knows renovations are always a gamble, but this one isn’t about risking money—it’s about Samuel risking his heart.

review

After reading two books by A.M. Arthur that were a bit lighter on the angst, we are now back to the angst level I’ve come to expect whenever I’m reading an A.M. Arthur book. And I’m totally digging it. Some people might say that Cost of Repairs had too much angst and too many twists, and on some days I might agree, but those are usually the days I want something fun and light, which I did not want today.

I made the fatal mistake to start this book at midnight and of course I got hooked and couldn’t put it down. Thank God the following day was a Sunday. I’m not the only one that always is like “only the first few chapters” and ends up reading the whole book, right? Tell me I’m not. LOL.

Anyway, I really liked this style of ~1/3 of the book from Samuels POV, ~1/3 of the book from Reys POV and the last third was kinda a dual POV. Haven’t encountered that in another book so far, usually it changes every other chapter or it stays on the same person the entire book. Anyway I liked this POV style and the writing style in general, of course.

Like I already mentioned this book had a lot of angst, so naturally our characters were somewhat broken and had a lot of secrets. What I liked was that they never pushed the other one to reveal all those secrets. They were comfortable with waiting till the other told them because they wanted to share. Overall their whole relationship was kind of a slowburner, emotionwise. I liked that, it was interesting to read. So many things I didn’t expect.

Also I liked the side characters, especially Jenny, poor girl. I hope to see more of her though the other couples in the next books, even if it’s just a glimpse here and there.

Did I mentioned that this book turned a bit thriller-ish at the end? That was an interesting twist.

I am also aware that Rey and Samuel got a second book later on in this series, but I’m not sure if I’m going to read that, not because I didn’t like this pair – I definitely did! – I’m just not that big on follow-up books. That’s probably just a weird quirk of me, but only time can tell if I pick it up or not. It’s called Acts of Faith, in case you want to check it out.

Ah, who am I kidding? I’m probably still going to pick it up, because this story felt somewhat unfinished without that one thing happening that I can’t mention without it being major spoilerish. It totally made sense to leave it unfinished though. I rather have some things not solved, to keep things more realistic.

Overall I liked this book a lot and can’t wait to read about Schuyler (-> Color of Grace). He was an intriguing characters for sure.

Rating: 4,25 stars

ARC REVIEW: Relay by Layla Reyne

About the book

Relay
(Changing Lanes #1)
by Layla Reyne

ebook
Publication Date: January 8th 2018 by Riptide Publishing
>> Review copy provided by NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion <<

Captain is not a title Alejandro “Alex” Cantu takes lightly. Elected by his teammates to helm the US Men’s Swim Team, he proudly accepts the role, despite juggling endless training, team administrative work, and helping out on the family farm. And despite his ex-lover, Dane Ellis—swimming’s biggest star—also making the Olympic Team.

Dane has been a pawn in his celebrity parents’ empire from crib to pool, flashing his camera-ready smile on demand and staying deeply in the closet. Only once did he drop the act—the summer he fell in love with Alex. Ten years later, Dane longs to cut his parents’ strings, drop his too-bright smile, and beg Alex for another chance.

Alex, though, isn’t ready to forgive and forget, and Dane is a distraction he doesn’t need on his team, until an injury forces Alex to accept Dane as his medley relay anchor. Working together, their passion reignites. When Dane’s parents threaten reprisal and Alex is accused of doping, the two must risk everything to prove Alex’s innocence, to love one another, and to win back their spots on the team, together.

review

When I received Relay I was in a foul mood after dnf-ing the last three books I’ve read, so I put it aside, because I was sure if I would read it with a feeling of lingering disappointment that I would not like it. That was a wise decision by me. Instead I read it after I read a book I absolutely loved. Lol.

Layla Reyne is a new-to-me author, but after reading Relay I will check out her other books as well.

Anyway Relay had all the things I love combined: m/m romance, an enemies-to-lover relationship that also included a second-chance romance and it had a sports theme. I loved the whole animosity between Dane and Alex in the beginning of the book. That was fun.

Also their whole 2nd relationship was a slowburner, which I also loved. Slowburners are more fun in my opinion and the relationship makes more sense if its built up slowly instead of over the course of just 30 pages like in some books I’ve read. We didn’t get to find out a lot of their first relationship though. Normally I’m not a big fan of flashbacks, but in this case I would have liked one or two, but that’s me nitpicking.

Dane’s parents I wanted to hurt – a lot. Poor Dane. I kinda disliked the fact though that Dane let them control his own life for that long of a time, but I’m glad he finally stood up to them.

The writing style was really good and while I read some reviews that were disappointed that the whole swimming thing wasn’t as prominent as they hoped and that we didn’t find out if they won any medals at the Olympics, I was quite glad this was the way it was. I want an incentive to read the next book – which I would have read nontheless, just saying –  to know how they did at the Olympics.

Also I’m curious about Bas and Jacob. Their book will be the second one in the Changing Lanes series and according to Riptide Publishing’s website it’s called Medley and will be released April 23. Can’t wait.

Rating: 4 stars

Mini Reviews #4

The Girl From Everywhere by Heidi Heilig (Review copy provided by NetGalley)

To be honest with you I knew the second I hit ‘request’ on NetGalley this was not a book for me, but I let myself be swayed by all the people on Twitter who hyped this book up and I wanted to be in on the hype as well. Well… it’s two years later and I finally decided to own up to my mistakes and pick this book up.

Sadly, like expected this just wasn’t for me. I really gave it a fair chance. I read till 25% in the hopes that it could change my mind, but it never did.

Also I was quite thrown by the way the book started. Normally I wouldn’t mind if the book started right in a situation, but in this book I was lost. Too many characters at once and too much happening that I couldn’t place nor understand.

This book is the very reason why I’m normally not riding the hype wave, because those books never live up to my expectation.

The writing style of this book was ok-ish, didn’t keep me hooked or anything, but maybe it’s just the content that couldn’t keep my interest and not the actual writing.

Rating: DNF


Rachel Van Dyken – Cheater (Review copy provided by NetGalley)

I love everything written by Rachel Van Dyken, may it be NA, Paranormal Romance or something as dark as her Eagle Elite series, but I couldn’t make myself pick up this book. Simply because of the goddamn title. If this book had any other name I wouldn’t even have cared about the title, but that word ‘Cheater’ was the biggest reason I didn’t want to give it a chance.

This is an RVD book, did I really expect some type of big cheater? Apparently… yes, and I wasn’t happy with this book.

For a good part of the book I despised Lucas, because he was so… And I was so… *throws plant pot at wall* but I got over it and over time he grew on me a bit, like mold. Ok, not really, I still was annoyed by him for most of the book.

Avery I liked from the beginning, she was kinda shy, but also not afraid to speak up to Lucas.

BUT, big but, as much as I liked RVD’s writing style – as always – and as much as I found the banter funny, this will not be my favourite book by RVD, probably will be my least liked book by her, because of Lucas. I couldn’t stand him for the fact that once he started seeing Avery, he was still seeing all the other girls right in front of Avery. He was a manwhore and I did not like it.

In hindsight I probably should have trusted my gut and should have never touched this book, because than it couldn’t have ruined this picture I have of RVD’s books, like that she can’t do wrong. Sadly, she proves with Cheater that she can, at least for me :/

This turned out longer than I intended. So to keep thing short: not my piece of cake.

Rating: 2.5 stars