Review: Warm Heart by Amy Lane, Seach And Rescue 1

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Cover Art © 2019 Alexandria Corza http://www.seeingstatic.com/

I would rate this 4.25 stars.

This is not a typical full length Amy Lane novel; it is part of the Dreamspun Desires line and has to fit into those parameters. This is like reading those romances with the red covers when I was younger–you know, the ones with blazing heat you can get a subscription for and can read in about four hours? My rating is for what it is, rather than what it isn’t. Mallory is the finance guy hired by Tevyn’s grandmother Missy five years ago to take care of his financial future for when he retires or gets injured. Tevyn is a professional Olympian level snowboader. He’s young and has fun with whatever guy or gal catches his eye. With Tevyn being a client as well as a bit of a player, what chance does a ten years older, built for monogamy guy like Mal, have? Turns out, he has a really good chance and maybe Tevyn has only been biding time until he can have the man he really wants. Of course, now Tevyn has his own reputation to overcome. As Missy lays dying and a snow storm rolls in, their lives will change forever.

An emergency can draw people closer and tell you who they really are; Missy’s decline and the crash are just catalysts that allow them to be real about the things that matter. The reader knows right away they are in love with each other. In fact, everyone may know but them. With the author’s writing style, having both points of view enhances the story. Tevyn knows snow and emergency training from working at resorts. Mallory is the sensible, dependable one who is used to calculating risk so even though completely out of his depth, he is an asset to the team as they try and survive. Tevyn stepped up to show he is not a kid and can be a mature partner for Mal. Even though he is older, Mal lets Tevyn take the lead and as this dynamic kicks into place, so does their relationship.

The other great character here is the pilot Damien, who is badly injured when their helicopter goes down. Damien is former military and now works for a rescue outfit. Having Damien there adds a layer of depth that keeps this story grounded, ensuring that the crash is not an excuse for them to just be alone together or focus on sex. Don’t worry, there will be some steamy sex also but this is heartwarming and romantic. After such a traumatic event Mal’s business partner and friend, Charlie, tries to be the voice of reason about Tevyn, but the reader already knows there is no need. Still, it’s good he has someone in his corner.

Amy Lane is known for a bit of angst, but in this shorter format, I didn’t feel it. Even with the harrowing circumstances and the grief, the overwhelming notes here are of life and love. After five days where the survival details sounded plausible–the way they are rescued is not. I will say the end got a little too saccharine for my tastes, almost to make up for any of the actual realism. I really did enjoy this though and hope Damien gets his own story soon.

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Review: Love Is All: Volume 2 edited by Xio Axelrod

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Copyright © 2019 by Xio Axelrod LLC

I would rate this whole collection 3.75 stars.

This is a charity anthology, so I tend to think of the stories as a thank you for donating money. All anthologies are a mixed bag and people will like different stories than I do, but here are a few of my favorites from this collection. There is a variety of combinations (M/M, F/F, M/M/F, M/F) with bisexual, trans, and ace represented. They are all contemporary except for the one historical, paranormal romance. The foreword by Roan Parrish is quite eloquent.

R.L. Merrill, Pinups and Puppies (F/F, 4 stars)

This is told from the first person POV of Marianne, who is struggling with grief and reintegration after her retirement from the Air Force. She owns a vintage plane and volunteers to transport dogs to help shelters who find them homes. That’s how she meets Dinah, who co-owns the shelter. They both seem to have great support systems filled with family and friends. With great chemistry, their lives and interests slot nicely together, making them a cute couple.

Susan Scott Shelley, Sugar Crush (Bliss Bakery Series) (M/M, 4.5 stars)

Jack, a horror novelist, gets to know a baker named Gabriel when he joins a softball team to help his friend Shane. This has an opposites attract trope with great sexual tension and friends as extended family. This is about fitting into someone’s life and making room for them to fit into yours–giving each other a safe space and carving out shared time, while still having their own interests. Also, not letting fear or the past get in the way of the future.

Xio Axelrod When Frankie Meets Johnny (M/M, 4.25 stars)

DJ meets contractor/teacher in this hurt/comfort tale with an age gap. This story is what you make it. I highly recommend listening to all the songs that he plays for a hell of a good time. If an artist is mentioned, but not a song, pick one that has a title that fits the scene. I would have rated this higher, but I couldn’t tell if this was Johnny’s first time with a man or he was demisexual? There is certainly a misunderstanding I think could have been handled better, but the story is charming.

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Review: Heated Rivalry by Rachel Reid, Game Changers 2

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Cover Art Copyright © 2018 by Harlequin Enterprises Limited

I would rate this 4.5 stars.

Although this is a follow-up to Game Changer, this can be read as a standalone. In fact, most of this takes place before book one and then catches up to that timeline, so you could read them in either order. Scott from book one has a brief appearance.

Shane Hollander is on the Montreal ice hockey team and Ilya Rozanov is on their historic rival team of Boston. The author gives the reader a glimpse at what their relationship is like, and then flashes back to when they first met eight years ago. Each interaction over the following seven years is highlighted, showing the personal rivalry both on and off the ice in dual POV. But having hot, steamy encounters for so many years draws them closer. Their status and similar positions in the hockey world make for a strange connection that no one else could really understand. This is an enemies to lovers story and they are not romantic or a couple for the majority of the book, so if it will bother you that they have sex (off page) with other people, this might not be the book for you. While Shane has to confront the fact that he’s gay, Ilya has to confront that even though he’s bisexual, he only really wants Shane anymore. When their dynamic shifts in a way that frightens them both, they have to decide if this is worth their careers.

I loved these guys from start to finish. I loved when they were enemeies, loved how they strangely became friends, and I loved them as a couple. This was a hot, entertaining erotic romance. I also found it a bit more realistic and evenly written than the first book. I was fine with how it ended, although some might not like the practicality.

*Please be aware you can no longer buy books from Carina Press; you must buy them directly from Harlequin and they are in a proprietary format, meaning you have to have their ereader app.*

Rachel Reid’s Website

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