January 2023 Monthly Round-up and Reading Challenges

Hello, I’m going to attempt to check in every month even if I’m the only person who reads the post. This year is off to a smashing start in the reading department.

I have chosen to keep my challenges to ones I know I can achieve, well, I hope so anyway.


As usual, I am doing the Goodreads Reader Challenge and I am already charging ahead so I will probably need to increase my goal by June.

I have already read some really great books and I think it’s my highest 4.5- star or 5-star reads ever in a month.

9/34 of these were audiobooks.


I’m also going to attempt the Aussie Readers A-Z Title Challenge on Goodreads and have picked all my books (subject to change) except for my Q book, so I’m open to suggestions for a book to read for Q. I’ve managed to read 6/26 so far this year.


I am going to attempt to read a minimum of 12 of my Backlist Review Books #Backlistreads2023, so far I have read two, but I’ve only written the post for one of them the second will be up soon.

All About Ella by Meredith Appleyard


I’m also going to do the #HQReadingChallenge as it’s only got 12 boxes to mark off. You’ll find this on Instagram @harlequinaus

I have marked off

YA book – 100 Days of Sunlight by Abbie Emmons

A book published this year – The Husband Hoax by Saxon James

An Australian author – Penelope Janu

Title begins with the first letter of your name – Can’t Say Goodbye by Eden Finley

Fantasy or sci-fi – January Blues by Jax Stuart

So, as you can see I’m nearly halfway there with this one, my hardest will be A genre I’ve never read before because I think I’ve read most genres so I’ll have to do some investigating.


And last but not least I will try, for at least the third time to do the 2023 Nonfiction Reader Challenge hosted by Book’d Out #ReadNonFicChal.

Every year I sign up to do the Nonfiction Nipper but only manage to read 2/3 which is pretty ridiculous going. So, this year I will aim to read all 3 books.

Choose a goal:

Nonfiction Nipper: Read & review 3 books, from any 3 listed categories

Nonfiction Nibbler: Read & review 6 books, from any 6 listed categories

Nonfiction Nosher: Read & review 12 books, one for each category

Nonfiction Grazer: Read & review any nonfiction book. Set your own goal

Categories:

History
Memoir/Biography
Crime & Punishment
Science
Health
Travel
Food
Social Media
Sport
Relationships
The Arts
Published in 2023


On the personal front, I don’t have much going on, I started back at my art lessons after just over 3 months break and managed to finish the painting I started last year. So that feels good to be creating again and I’m ready to start a new painting next week.

Well, that’s me for this month I will check in again at the end of February, happy reading.

Blog Tour: Review & Giveaway: Can’t Say Goodbye by Eden Finley

Synopsis

BRADY

Our quick hellos are followed by drawn out goodbyes.

What started out as one fun night turned into a regular thing none of us ever planned for.

I can’t walk away from Kit and Prescott. Kit is the stern nurturer I need. He’s the caretaker, the solid presence. Prescott enables my wild ways. He’s someone I can have fun with. They couldn’t be more perfect for me.

But come graduation, I have to move across the country, and geography isn’t our only obstacle. Being in a relationship with two men isn’t good for my public image, my brother’s NFL career, or the media frenzy that surrounds my famously queer family.

We have a plan to meet up once a year, but with every reunion, every brief visit, we fall deeper.

There has to be a breaking point, something that will end it for us, or soon it will be impossible to say goodbye at all.

To read an excerpt go here

Cover Design: Natasha Snow Designs
Photo: Wander Aguiar Photography
Models: Jacob, Patrick & Scott

Genre: MMM Romance
Trope: Military romance, pining, long distance


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Review

I love a good MMM story if it is done right and for me, Eden Finley managed to do that really well with Can’t Say Goodbye. I loved all three men, Prescott, Brady and Kit and I was completely engaged in their story to the point I don’t think I slept much the night I read it.

Kit and Prescott already had a connection and had brought a third into their friendship to share in bed, but adding Brady to this equation changed everything for them and forced them to admit they felt much more for each other than just friendship. The bedroom scenes are very steamy and I loved the bond they developed over time and that each of them was emotionally and physically happy in what they shared.

I liked that I got each man’s point of view, it really allowed me to get to know each of them and I was emotionally involved in everything they were going through as they go from just hooking up semi-regularly, then yearly after Brady graduated and moved, to realising that they are each wanting something much more permanent and meaningful. It wasn’t always an easy ride as each dealt with their feelings for the other two and their worry they wouldn’t feel the same or that there is no way it could work out, but with communication and a desire to make it work they found a way.

I really loved Can’t Say Goodbye and will be reading it again I’m sure.



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About the Author

Eden Finley is an Amazon bestselling author who writes steamy contemporary romances that are full of snark and light-hearted fluff.

She doesn’t take anything too seriously and lives to create an escape from real life for her readers. The ideas always begin with a wackadoodle premise, and she does her best to turn them into romances with heart.

With a short attention span that rivals her son’s, she writes multiple different pairings: MM, MMF, and MF.

She’s also an Australian girl and apologises for her Australianisms that sometimes don’t make sense to anyone else.

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Audio Tour, Excerpt, Review & Giveaway:On a Midnight ClearBy Lily Morton


It can safely be said that Lord Barnaby Greenwood is not having the best of Christmases.

He’s penniless, up to his eyeballs in debt, and about to lose his estate. Therefore, it’s hardly surprising that when a local property developer offers a lot of money to buy King’s Wood from him, Barnaby is very tempted. But his father had always impressed on him that the green wood was sacred and must be protected at all costs, so he finds himself saying no.

He knows this will result in the loss of his home, but duty comes before everything. However, that fateful decision leads instead to a magical Christmas for Barnaby, complete with an old god who grants him a favour, and a beautiful statue that comes to life.

Cosmo is perfect for him. He’s funny and kind and completely enraptured with Barnaby, and for the first time in his life, Barnaby falls in love. But how can this lead to anything but heartache, when on the last stroke of midnight on Christmas Eve, Cosmo will go back to being a statue and take Barnaby’s heart with him?

From best-selling author, Lily Morton comes a truly magical romantic comedy.


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Excerpt

I stare at the builder who is sitting opposite me. His florid face glows in the light, and even as I watch, he runs his handkerchief over his forehead, mopping up the sheen of sweat. Then he folds his arms and directs a belligerent glare at me.

“Listen, Lord Greenwood. I have the utmost respect for you, but the time’s come to stop playing silly games.”

I wonder idly why people always say they have respect for you and then go on to prove the direct opposite but put a polite smile on my face as he carries on with his tirade.

“I want King’s Wood, and I mean to have it.”

I spread my hands and lean back in my chair at my desk. The leather creaks warningly, but like so much about my house, it just squeaks through. “Then we have a problem, Mr Thompson, because I own that wood, and I have no intention of selling it to you. You want to bulldoze it and build housing on the land.”

He glowers. “So? Is there something wrong with building new houses for people who need them?”

“Not at all,” I say mildly. “Only the people you build them for don’t need them, per se, as they are all rather rich. You build mansions and not social housing. Roughly translated, they’ll be clogging up the country lanes with their huge cars, speeding everywhere, and being appallingly rude to the local people as if the simple act of possessing three cars and holidaying in the Maldives automatically puts them out of the reach of politeness.”

He scoffs. “It’s not exactly your business.”

I wrinkle my nose. “It sort of is, Mr Thompson. That wood has been in my family’s possession for hundreds of years. It directly abuts my gardens. My father entrusted it to me with a solemn undertaking to keep it safe. Do you know anything about King’s Wood?” He shakes his head crossly, but I continue. “Druids worshipped there. There is still a circle of ancient stones in the centre about which we know very little.”

Druids,” he says in a tone of disgust. “Are they those funny folks who run around in their nighties?”

“I’m so glad you could sum up our ancient pagan history in just a few words.”

He blows his nose belligerently. “I don’t hold with any of that London nonsense.”

I blink. “Well, it’s actually local business. King’s Wood is sacred land.”

“Bloody ridiculous. It’s prime building land, Lord Greenwood, and I want it.”

“Well, as my old nanny used to say, we can’t always get what we want.” I pause. “It was either her or Mick Jagger.” I smile politely at him. “I feel we are at an impasse.”

A smile crosses his face that instantly makes me nervous. “Well, we’ll see about that.”

“What do you mean by that, Mr Thompson?”

He shrugs, standing up and pulling on his coat. “It means that Mr Watson and I play golf together.”

“You play golf with my bank manager? I’m unsure why that was said in such a threatening manner unless he cheats or steals your balls.” Despite my flippancy, anxiousness stirs in me, and by his smug smile, he knows it.

“Him and me, we’ve had some very interesting chats.”

I sigh. “Spit it out, Mr Thompson. I think we’re finally coming to the point after months of these chats of ours.”

“Mr Watson says that you’re in danger of losing all this.”

He waves his hand to encompass the room, and anger boils inside me at his careless gesture.

“Oh really?” I say silkily.


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Review

On a Midnight Clear was a mixed bag for me, there were parts I really enjoyed and others I struggled with. The narrator plays a big role in my enjoyment of a book, I’ve listened to a lot of audiobooks narrated by Joel Leslie and some I have loved and others not so much, this one was a not so much and I think I would have enjoyed the story more if I had read it rather than listened to it because I didn’t get on with how he narrated the characters.

That being said, the story was sweet and full of magic. I enjoyed the mythology behind the story and liked the idea that the statues come alive every night for an hour and get to mingle with each other.

Cosmo was very sweet and enthusiastic about everything around him which was what Barnaby needed, a little magic in his life and a new way of looking at things. I wish I had Cosmo’s ability to use magic to fix everything and help people’s moods. Barnaby was a little sad to begin with, especially how isolated he was from the villagers and how they behaved towards him because they thought he was rich and didn’t care about the village, being he’d lived there all his life I was surprised he didn’t have more friends and had no one to share his problems with within the community. But at least through magic, he had his beloved statue come to life and change his world.

A no angst, sweet Christmas novella with a happy ever after.


About Lily

Lily is a bestselling gay romance author. She writes love stories filled with heat and humour.

She lives in sunny England with her husband and two children, all of whom claim that they haven’t had a proper conversation with her since she got her Kindle.

Lily has spent her life with her head full of daydreams, and decided one day to just sit down and start writing about them. In the process she discovered that she actually loved writing, because how else would she get to spend her time with hot and funny men?

She loves chocolate and Baileys and the best of all creations – Chocolate Baileys.


Connect with Lily
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Cover Reveal & Giveaway: Confessions: Ethan By Ella Frank


Confessions, Book 7

Everything in the world is about sex except sex.

Sex is about power. ~ Oscar Wilde

Desire. Dominance. Sex.

Ethan Holt is in the business of all three.

He believes that any fantasy can be created,

and that any kink should be explored.

Why wouldn’t he, when he has several of his own?

Control. Ethan has to have it.

In his job at The Office. In his relationship with Zayne.

He’s very particular on who he lets in his world,

and even more so on who he lets in his bed.

After all, he’s not the only one who sleeps in it.

Everything in their world is in perfect order,

just the way Ethan likes it.

Until a mysterious redhead walks into their club

and turns their world inside out.

What happens when control turns to chaos?

Do you give in to it? Or do you make chaos…submit?

Confessions: Ethan begins a new sub-series within the Chicagoverse. It is an MMF contemporary romance series that revolves around Chloé Thornton-Priestley, the wild-child daughter of the three P’s. This can be read as a standalone series.

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Cover Designer: Hang Le (@byhangle)
Cover Photographer:
Rafa Catala (@rafagcatala_13)
Cover Model:
Alvaro Torralbo (@whoistcttt)


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About the Author

ella-frank-author-bio2

Ella Frank is the USA Today Bestselling Author of the Temptation series, including Try, Take, and Trust and is the co-author of the fan-favourite Preslocke series with Brooke Blaine. Her Prime Time series has been praised as “highly entertaining!” and “sexy as hell!”

A life-long fan of the romance genre, Ella writes contemporary and erotic fiction. Some of her favourite authors include Tiffany Reisz, Kresley Cole, Riley Hart, J.R. Ward, Erika Wilde, Gena Showalter, and Carly Philips.​

Connect with Ella:
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Brooke & Ella’s Reader Group
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Series Blitz, Excerpt & Giveaway: Lakeview University:Holiday Try-Mester Series


Try Me By Shane K. Morton

Lakeview University: Holiday Try-Mester, Book 1

Thomas Elder
When I took the position as vocal professor at Lakeview Unversity – I knew I was giving up my performing career. I loved being onstage, but I craved security, and not being broke – so I walked away from singing and into the not-so-fabulous world of being a college professor. I had finally settled in and was excited about my second year of teaching when a jock with an attitude walked into my vocal studio. The thoughts running through my head were not the kind of thoughts that a professor should have. I don’t know whether I should fail him or kiss him! But the real question that’s haunting me – why can’t I get him out of my mind? It’s like he has some kind of power over me. I hope it’s not… No! It can’t be!

Darren Peterson
My friends think I’m crazy to switch my major to music. But they don’t understand that music is as much a part of me as being Lakeview’s star soccer player. I’m not going pro, and the last thing I want to do is be a coach. I like making music. I’ve been a DJ since high school and making my own mixes gives me a high unlike anything else. Except… My vocal teacher. He’s a total geek! He likes opera, and old classic books and film. I bet he’s never even seen a superhero movie. But I can’t stop wondering what my hands would feel like against his skin. I’m nowhere near ready to settle down, but the smell of him makes me question everything.

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Try Again By Abigail Kade

Lakeview University: Holiday Try-Mester, Book 2

Can an unexpected miracle bring two very different men the answer to their heartfelt Christmas wishes?

Middle aged college professor, Preston Page, has always wanted a family. After his first relationship resulted in bitter disappointment and betrayal, he put that to the side, however, and disappeared into his career. There was time, right? Maybe not. He’s just found out he’s in early manopause, and kids are a dream he’ll never realize now. Spiraling, Preston’s tight hold on his world unravels.

Cue an uncharacteristic drunk hook-up in an alley with a sexy young stranger. Preston’s received a miracle, but he’s about to get another huge surprise. He might not only get a baby. Could he be getting a husband too?

Career University student, Joe Langford, just changed his major for the tenth time. He’s not interested in Journalism. He wasn’t interested in Physics or any of the other majors either. The truth is as long as he’s in school, his family trust will pay all his bills, and his parents won’t push him to get married to the guy they’ve arranged for him. There’s nothing more Joe wants than to have a family, not a career, but he’s not letting them choose his future for him. When Preston tells him about his unexpected situation, he doesn’t realize it, but Joe is going to do everything in his power to make this miracle work for both of them. Despite what his family thinks, he’s going to propose. They can do this together, make a family of their own, if Preston will agree to take a chance.

Will Joe be able to convince Preston to try again for their own happily ever after?

Includes an older man who’s in shock but happy, a younger dude who’s stoked to have a purpose finally, and a rich family that says hell no! Get ready for love, romance, and enough holiday sweetness to cause cavities.

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Try Not To…By Drea Roman

Lakeview University: Holiday Try-Mester, Book 3

Jaime Westingbrooke’s fall semester starts off so well.

Of course, it would go off the rails immediately.

As soon as he received his new graduate teaching assistant assignment– Dr. Robert Staff. Hot, grumbly, and, so satisfying to. . . Jaime tries not to go down that road.

Nevermind the enormous crush on the man Jaime has been nursing since his freshman year.

Try not to fall in lust…

Try not to fall in love…

Try not to fall pregnant…

Oops, Jaime does all three.

Prof. Robert Staff is failing at all of his rules for life this semester, as soon as his new graduate assistant walks into his office on one sunny afternoon. Robert will try not to find himself suddenly attracted to his new assistant, who used to be a scrawny student but has had a summer glow-up. He cannot help but want to … do all sorts of things a professor should not want to try with his graduate students. It’s gonna be a long, hot semester. Hot under the collar that is. And maybe some other places too.

Try Not To. . . is book three of the Lakeview University: Holiday Try-Semester series. It features age gap, hurt/comfort, professor/student, and surprise baby themes.

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Excerpt

Exclusive from TRY ME- Lakeview University Holiday Try-Mester (Shane K Morton)

“Come in.” I stood from behind my desk and walked around to greet him. Everyone deserved a… And my foot caught the corner of my desk, and the floor rushed towards me – but then it stopped. Two strong hands caught me and held me aloft – my glasses slid off my face and fell to the ground.

Well, that’s about as embarrassing as it can get.

“You ok?” He was a baritone. A nice deep voice that resonated within his chest.

He helped me back up, and I finally got my feet underneath me when the world spun. He was absolutely fucking gorgeous, and my mouth went completely dry as I stared at him with a dumb awestruck look on my face. Dark brown eyes with the thickest eyelashes in the world stared back at me as if he were worried I might stroke out at any moment.

I was making a great impression. I wanted to say something, but my throat had closed, and I felt like I needed to gasp for air. Jesus! That curly blonde hair was fucking beautiful. Women across the world were envious of this… Giant muscle-bound he-man with a dark tan. He smirked, and his teeth seemed to bling as the light hit them. Great… I had to stare at this for an hour twice a week?

Maybe I was having a stroke in front of the most beautiful man in the world – and I had to be his teacher… What the actual fuck was happening. I gasped as air finally filled my lungs.

“Do I need to get someone?” He looked worried.

I held up my hand. “No… Sorry, I’m fine… I… uh… Just embarrassed, is all.” I completely lied. I wasn’t embarrassed – I was mortified and wanted to crawl underneath my desk and hide from this soccer stud who probably had a million followers on Instagram.

“No need to be embarrassed. I play soccer and fall down all the time. I’m your…”

“Darren. I mean, not my Darren… uh… but my new student, Darren. Yes.”

“And you are?” He grinned slyly. He had to know the kind of power he had over people. He had to know how hot he was, and I tried to get my jaw to move so I could speak. I glanced away.

“Sorry.” I cleared my throat and looked back at him. He was blurry. Maybe I… Oh! Glasses.

I bent forward to pick them up and collided once again with him. Our foreheads slammed together, and I winced as I stood back up.

“Sorry.” He grinned and held out my glasses to me. “I have a hard head. Sorry.”

I rubbed my temple as I took the glasses from his hand. “Looks like you have a hard everything.” I frowned and wished I could take the words back.

His grin lit up his face.

“I mean, you’re very muscular, not that… Wow!” I frowned. “I guess I’ve made the best first impression I’ve ever had.”

“Maybe the most memorable.” His brown eyes narrowed as he looked at me. “Maybe we should start again?”

He chuckled as he turned and walked out my door, and closed it behind him. My stomach swirled as if someone had put a hook in me and was pulling hard. If I puked in front of him, I would have to quit teaching forever. He knocked, and I had to stop myself from grinning. He was being very cute and had handled my… incident with grace and kindness. Maybe he wasn’t so bad after all.

“Come in.”

He opened the door with the widest and prettiest smile I had ever seen and stuck out his hand. “Hi. I’m your new student Darren Petersen.”


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New Release Book Review: Shelter From the Storm by Penelope Janu

Shelter From the Storm by Penelope Janu is my first 5-star read of 2023. Penelope Janu is one of my favourite authors, and I look forward to reading her newest release each year.

Shelter From the Storm was something special, whether it was the way it was written, or the main character Patience herself, I found myself fully absorbed in this story, I felt I was reading every single word and at a slower pace than I normally would (this wasn’t the case, it just felt that way), I don’t really know how to describe how reading this novel made me feel other than I felt I was reading something special.

Patience is the second of the Cartwright sisters to tell her story as we met Phoebe in Clouds on the Horizon.

When the story starts Patience, a lieutenant in the navy is on base after being discharged from her ship. The reasons surrounding this draw attention to the power a commanding officer can have over their subordinate and how hard it can be for women especially to deal with unwanted behaviour from other officers. And this isn’t only within the armed forces but in all different jobs and circumstances.

Patience has an affinity for numbers and often looks at things differently because of this, she uses counting to deal with stressful situations and can look at things and reel numbers and statistics off the top of her head. I felt a real connection to Patience, though I don’t deal with stress and anxiety quite the same way, she spoke to me on a deep level. Patience is described as secretive and self-contained, and as her background and fears are uncovered it makes sense why she is the way she is.

Patience has a past with Hugo a biologist who is working on an important project. It has been years since Patience had her heart broken by him, but the impact it made on her has reverberated through her life and continues to do so. When they are reluctantly brought together again, the depth of emotion they are carrying from their previous friendship strikes deep in both.

The romance in this novel is full of so many ghosts and emotional baggage and I loved being there with Patience and Hugo as they work their way through their messy past and unpack everything in order to discover if there can be a future for them together. I felt Patience’s emotions, her heartache and confusion about what she was feeling in my own being as I read her story. And Hugo was one special man, but then I’ve found Penelope Janu only knows how to write wonderful male characters as her leads (and side characters). I loved that Hugo completely ‘got’ Patience and accepted and loved her the way she was.

Hugo’s family were a great support system for Patience along with a few side characters I’ve met before. Patience and Hugo’s coworker Rick was also a great character, I appreciate that Penelope Janu gives us such a vast variety of people with an array of characteristics, in Rick’s case he is a neurodiverse character and I think she did a really good job of portraying one of the ways this can play out in an individual.

Another thing I really enjoy about Penelope’s novels is her love for the environment and how I always learn something new from each novel, in this case, I learnt a great deal about frogs and their habitats and the ecosystem that surrounds the waterways they live in.

This was a wonderful novel and is one of my favourites by Penelope Janu so far, a story of self-discovery, healing and being brave enough to go after what you truly want. I am really looking forward to the third Cartwright sister, Prim’s story next year.

Cover Reveal, Excerpt & Giveaway: The Husband Hoax by Saxon James

THE HUSBAND HOAXAccidental Love #1 by Saxon James

Synopsis

Christian

Being invited to my cousin’s wedding really shouldn’t be such a big deal except, oh yeah, I haven’t seen my family for a decade.

My parents turned their backs on me and I’ve done everything since to become successful and show them what they lost. Only, it’s kinda hard to be a success when you’re a walking trainwreck.

So I’m going to fake it. Hire a guy with an online presence so impressive they’ll be desperate to welcome me back into the elitist fold, and roll into the wedding with the kind of confidence I’ve never felt a day in my life.

The plan’s a knockout.

Until my fake date cancels minutes before the ceremony.


Émile

One letter from my dearly departed grandfather, and suddenly I’m on a husband hunt.

He’s reworked his entire will so I’m set to inherit far more than I’m entitled to, and all because he’s asked me to use that money for “good”.

In order to get that inheritance, though, there’s one stipulation: marriage.

Even with his request, I’m tempted to stick to my original plan of getting as far from my wretched family as possible, and letting them fight it out.

But then I run into a tall drink of scattered mess outside of a wedding who’s in desperate need of a date, and the pieces click into place.

I help him, he helps me.

Marriage, money, then go our separate ways.

Easy.

Now all I have to do is stop myself from actually falling for the guy.

Release Date: February 9, 2023

Cover Design: Story Styling Cover Designs

Photo: Michelle Lancaster

Model: Dylan and Simba

Genre: M/M Romance
Trope: Fake relationship, friends with benefits to lovers, found family


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Excerpt

For a sudden fake fiancé, I could very, very easily be interested in him. My gaze trails over his long limbs, his tight stomach, those cum gutters that are going to be my undoing, before Émile lifts my chin with two fingers. “I’m going to have to ask you to stop looking at me like that.”

“Right.” I clear my throat. “Inappropriate.”

“Not at all. But if I’m going to follow your rules and keep my distance, you really shouldn’t be eye-fucking me.”

My laugh is louder than I expected, and I cut it off quickly. “Sorry. I have a hot naked guy in my bed. Checking you out is my default.”

“Well, take a last look.” He stands up, glances at his suit on the side of my bed, then tugs on the sweats I loaned him for the walk from the bathroom to my room last night … right before I promptly stripped him out of them again. They hang loose around his waist, and my gaze stays with him as he crosses my room to steal a T-shirt out of one of my drawers.

“Sure. Help yourself.” I grin.

“You’re my fiancé now. It’d be basically illegal if I didn’t wear your clothes.”

Fiancé. Damn. That’s … scary. Getting engaged wasn’t supposed to hit my to-do list for the next decade at least and here I am getting hitched to a guy I haven’t even known for twenty-four hours.

Sympathy crosses his face and Émile approaches to run his fingers through my hair. “Look, you’re getting into a lot without much knowledge, so this is what we’re going to do. I’m going to put my number in your phone and leave. Once I’m gone, you’re going to search my name and look me up on social media. Look into who my family is, recent marriage and engagement announcements—because yes, we’re going to have to do those things too. It’s going to be a lot of attention, and I want to make sure you’re ready for it.”

“Wait … are you like, famous or something?” I numbly unlock my phone as he hands it over, then he takes it from me and punches his number in.

“Or something. You good?”

I stare at where his name is lit up on my screen. “Yeah. I think so.”

“Good.” He brushes a long, lingering kiss across my mouth. “And if you decide you want to back out, I’ll be right over to screw you silly.”

Goddamn, I almost blow this whole thing off here and now. “You don’t fight fair, you know that?”

“Just wanted to make sure there was no confusion.”

He picks up his letter and his clothes and I watch him all the way to the door, reveling in last night and this morning and wondering what the fuck I’ve gotten myself into. His hair is still a mess from my pillows, my skin is still tight with his dried cum, my room coated in the smell of sex, and I’m aching to pull him back down under me until I know what every inch of his skin tastes like.

Émile opens my bedroom door and pauses. “Huh. Christian? There’s a naked man in your hall.”

I groan. “Jesus, Madden. You know you’re supposed to wear clothes when we have guests!”

He steps into view, hands raised like a busted perp. “In my defense, we were pretty sure he snuck out this morning. Like, it’s almost eleven, dude.” Madden eyes Émile. “Since when do hookups stay that long?”

Ah, crap. What do I say here? Boyfriend? Fiancé? Fellow con artist?

Émile blows me a kiss. “At least next time I’m here I’ll know that clothing is optional.”

“Next time?” Madden echoes as Émile disappears down the hall. My roommate turns his gaze on me. “There’s a story here, isn’t there? Should I get the others? Popcorn? Pizza? Or is this a rum situation?”

Might as well get it over and done with. “Let me shower and I’ll meet you all downstairs.”

“So is that a yes or no on the rum?”

“It’s still morning.

He raises his hands, lifting each in turn, like scales.

“It’s a no.”

“Gotcha.”

It’s going to be a long day.

The guys aren’t known for being patient though so I grab a towel and some clothes and shower as quickly as I can. The last thing I need is them gathering in the bathroom because I’m taking too long. Again.



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About the Author

Saxon James unapologetically writes happy endings for LGBT+ characters.

While not writing, SM is a readaholic and Netflix addict who regularly lives on a sustainable diet of chocolate and coffee.

Member of SCBWI.


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New Release Book Review: Cosmic Spells and Vampire Lairs by Mia Monroe

I am thoroughly enjoying the Coven of Eaton Falls series and Cosmic Spells and Vampire Lairs pairs up another witch and vampire as well as answering some questions and raising more about the war being waged by the ‘Beautiful One’ against the magical community of Eaton Falls.

The witch Callisto has the gift of divination and has been paired up with the vampire Pietro who has a dark past. Both are drawn to each other but Callisto doesn’t believe Pietro is his fated mate and Pietro wishes he was. I really liked Callisto and Pietro who seem to complement each other well, as Callisto says “You’re the earth to my sky. You’ll keep us grounded while I make sure we never lose the joy of wonder.” So romantic. I liked how these two communicated and how open Callisto was to accepting ‘the change’ when it came to following his heart and his future. The relationship between Callisto and Pietro was really sweet and I could feel how much they cared about each other.

There are a few more discoveries and a trip to New Orleans to try and find their friend Prince who didn’t fare too well in the previous book when he encountered the ‘Beautiful One’ and to hopefully find out some more information from the other coven’s there. But more information also leads to more questions and more potential danger.

I am really enjoying uncovering the mystery behind the ‘Beautiful One’ alongside getting to know the other witches and vampires of Eaton Falls. I am looking forward to uncovering more in A Traitor Shows His Hand which is due out in March, I’m also hoping this will be Willem’s turn to find his love or loves.


Links to my reviews for the series

Never Trust a Guy with Fangs (Book 1)

The Witch’s Power Play (Book 2)

Vampires Make Bad Roommates (Book 3)

Backlist Read 2023: All About Ella by Meredith Appleyard

This is the first book to mark off of my backlist reads for 2023, I wish I’d read it back when I got it because it was so good that it’s kept me up late reading it for the past few nights.

All About Ella does what Meredith Appleyard is so good at and gives us characters we grow to love, people, places and circumstances we can relate to and shows how complicated relationships can be.

Ella was an incredibly strong character, from the moment I was introduced to her I knew I was going to love her. I was angry for the way her family treated her, especially her awful daughter-in-law, what a piece of work she was, I was hoping karma would throw something terrible at her, but alas…
As I learned more about Ella and her late husband Sam’s life and the way he treated her and the children, I was awed by Ella’s way of looking at things, I liked that she was able to look back and see how things weren’t so great, but still, be positive about it all too. Sometimes it isn’t until we lose someone that we really take a look at who they were.

All of Ella’s children were extremely selfish individuals whose pretence at looking out for Ella was only driven by their own desire for her money. I’m sure this happens a lot more in real life than we can imagine, why shouldn’t older people make their own choices and spend their money the way they wish, they shouldn’t need to put their life on hold just so as their children will have something to inherit.

Meredith does a wonderful job of describing the town of Cutlers Bay, I’ve only been to Streaky Bay which is further along the coast than where Cutlers Bay is supposed to be based (I think), but I could imagine myself there, I could imagine the house that Ella fell in love with, I think I would like it there myself. I loved meeting the whole cast of characters from Cutlers Bay who rounded out the small-town feel beautifully.

What Ella finds when she runs away from her family is more than she could have imagined, she finds herself, she says something in the book about this and I felt for Ella, that it had taken her until she was 70 and had lost her husband to really find out who she was and how much she was capable of. Sam had pretty much ruled her life from the moment they got married and then her children had tried to do the same, running away saved her and allowed her to finally live life on her own terms.

Angie was another wonderful character that I grew to love, I felt a lot of compassion for her nomadic way of life, one she’d chosen not so much because she liked to travel and keep moving but because she was afraid to let herself get close to other people. Her family life was dysfunctional at best and her mother was certainly not the mother she (or anyone) needed. At 40 she knows nothing but this way of life, but meeting Ella turns her life on its head and starts her on her own journey of discovery.

Zach came a long way from the taciturn police officer who first met Ella and Angie and wanted them both to leave his town ASAP. Ella really was the catalyst for lots of changes in Angie and Zach, and even in Claire who had become lonely in her older age living by herself.

One of the things that Ella and Angie learn is that family doesn’t need to be blood-related and that sometimes our found families can be more important to us than those we call relatives. This was a beautifully written story about connecting with others and finding the things that make up happy in life and standing our ground against the people who say we can’t have them.

Thank you to Harlequin Australia for a digital copy of this book in return for an honest review.

New Release Book Review: Breaking the Rules by Brigham Vaughn

Despite having a couple of the books from this series on my kindle, this is the first one I have read, of course, it would be the last in the series, but now I want to go back and read about all the characters I have just met in Breaking the Rules (book 5 Rules of the Game).

I really enjoyed Breaking the Rules, Trevor and Wade were great Mcs, with great chemistry these two go from being agent and client who don’t like each other and think they know who the other is to something much more as they discover the other is very different to the person they thought. Trevor starts to show who he truly is as his relationship with Wade changes. Wade brings something out in Trevor he didn’t expect and as he helps Trevor see who he could be they break the rules and start something more.

There are many important topics winding through this novel as the guys fight to uncover the truth about the abhorrent behaviour of one of their teammates, the culture of covering up athletes’ bad often illegal behaviours is brought to attention as well as the culture of athletes abusing women and thinking that it is okay to behave that way. That the team decides that they are not going to stand for this type of behaviour from one of their teammates brings about good and bad reactions from the public, showing just how ingrained some ideas are in our society.

Wade’s son was a great character and played a role in both Wade and Trevor discovering what they really wanted.

Sometimes life throws things at you that make you take a stand and change your journey, Wade and Trevor learn they need to fight for the important things and make changes to get the future they want.

This book stands alone well, but it would have been nice to have followed the other teammates’ stories, something I will rectify in the future.


Thanks to Neon Rainbow ARC Reviews for a digital copy in return for an honest review.