New Release Book Review: Loving Summer by Carole Brungar

Loving SummerThis was one of my most anticipated reads of 2021 and it did not disappoint. Carole Brungar has done it again with her 4th novel in the <b>Return to Nam series<b>, she’s written a heartfelt, emotional read that manages to deal with important and often forgotten issues.

This is the love story between two unexpected soulmates, Scott Taylor a soldier in the Vietnam war and a teenage girl Summer, who is a free spirit in every way. What starts off as a Christmas card project organised by Summer’s school to send messages to the soldiers in Vietnam, turns into a pen-pal friendship that eventually becomes so much more. The effect that this friendship has on both of these characters is profound and changes them both even after they lose touch for many years.

From the jungles of Vietnam to the hippy communes of NZ in the 60s, through to NZ in the early 80s, I was transported to these very different places and I had my heart ripped out several times (you will require tissues).

Both Scott and Summer we great characters, both real, flawed and passionate. They both face many heartbreaking times, Scott with his marriage, Summer with trusting people she shouldn’t, but both of these characters have the will and the support of friends and family and the love of each other, to help them through whatever they face.

There is so much I want to say about this novel, but I don’t want to give anything away, because this is a journey that needs to be taken with no spoilers.

I highly recommend Loving Summer along with the rest of the series, while this is a standalone, there are mentions of characters from previous books and I recommend reading those too, in order if possible, but you will enjoy this even if you haven’t read them.

My reviews of the other books in the series

The Nam Legacy

The Nam Shadow

Going Home

Blog Tour and Review: Dare You by Ella Frank and Brook Blaine

Dare You - BT banner

Dare You, the first book in the all new sexy and playful Dare to Try Trilogy from USA Today bestselling authors Ella Frank and Brooke Blaine is available now!

My Review

This was a delightful read, I’m a big fan of Ella Frank’s Confession series and was excited to be able to read a new trilogy with some new characters.

I adored Bash, he was a delightful character, I loved his attitude, his confidence to be himself, that he knew who he was, his authenticity, and his humour, but he also had a vulnerability to him that he kept hidden from most people.

Keiran was a really great guy, Bash’s inadvertent knight in shining armour when he rescues Bash from a fire during a callout. While Keiran was out of his comfort zone in his feelings about Bash, I liked that Keiran wasn’t afraid to go with those feelings. I loved the banter between Bash and Keiran, it made for some humourous times, but also some much deeper connections and conversations.

This ended on a massive cliffhanger and I cannot wait to get my hand on book #2, I couldn’t believe how the authors left me hanging and I’m glad the next book is out next month. I couldn’t put this book down and stayed up way too late reading, I can’t wait to see what happens between Keiran and Bash next.

DareYou AMAZONAbout the book: From Ella Frank’s Prime Time series and Brooke Blaine’s South Haven series comes an explosive spin-off of both worlds.

Sebastian “Bash” Vogel, the magnetic, cross-dressing CEO of AnaVoge, has long been a lone island when it comes to his personal life. Self-assured and playful, he’s never left wanting for suitors—but Bash isn’t looking for something permanent. He’s more than fulfilled with his company and his closest friends, and no one is going to shake up the status quo.

That is, until he’s thrown over the shoulder of one of Chicago’s finest and hauled out of a burning building.

Kieran Bailey, a sexy, hardworking lieutenant at Station 73, has been reaping the rewards of being crowned the city’s hottest fireman, which his crew never lets him forget. So many ladies, so little time. So when he rescues the latest damsel in distress, no one is more shocked than him to realize he’s played prince charming to another…prince.

But Bash isn’t like anyone Kieran has ever met, and soon his world is turned upside down as he becomes more intrigued by the enigmatic man that he can’t stay away from.

They’re from two different worlds. This could never work. But what if…they dared to try?

Dare You is book one of the Dare to Try trilogy, which must be read in order. Prior reading is not required, but is always a fantastic idea for maximum enjoyment.

Grab your copy today or read FREE in Kindle Unlimited!

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Reserve the second book in the trilogy!

Dare Me

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Truth or Dare

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About Ella Frank

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-favorite erotic serial, Sex Addict. Her Exquisite series has been praised as “scorching hot!” and “enticingly sexy!”

A life-long fan of the romance genre, Ella writes contemporary and erotic fiction.

Some of her favorite authors include Tiffany Reisz, Kresley Cole, Riley Hart, J.R. Ward, Erika Wilde, Gena Showalter, and Carly Philips.

Connect with Ella Facebook  Instagram  Twitter  Stay up to date with Ella by joining her mailing list  Website

About Brooke Blaine

Brooke Blaine is a USA Today Bestselling Author of contemporary romance that ranges from comedy to suspense to erotic. The latter has scarred her conservative Southern family for life, bless their hearts.

If you’d like to get in touch with her, she’s easy to find – just keep an ear out for the Rick Astley ringtone that’s dominated her cell phone for years. Or you can reach her at http://www.BrookeBlaine.com.

Connect with Brooke    Website       Facebook      Twitter     Instagram    Amazon Author Page

Brooke & Ella’s Facebook Group       The M/M Daily Grind

If you’d like to be the FIRST to know about a new release, sale, giveaway, or upcoming signings & events, make sure to join Brooke’s mailing list

 

New Release Book Review: Dare You by Ella Frank and Brook Blaine

DareYou AMAZONThis was a delightful read, I’m a big fan of Ella Frank’s Confession series and was excited to be able to read a new trilogy with some new characters.

I adored Bash, he was a delightful character, I loved his attitude, his confidence to be himself, that he knew who he was, his authenticity, and his humour, but he also had a vulnerability to him that he kept hidden from most people.

Keiran was a really great guy, Bash’s inadvertent knight in shining armour when he rescues Bash from a fire during a callout. While Keiran was out of his comfort zone in his feelings about Bash, I liked that Keiran wasn’t afraid to go with those feelings. I loved the banter between Bash and Keiran, it made for some humourous times, but also some much deeper connections and conversations.

This ended on a massive cliffhanger and I cannot wait to get my hand on book #2, I couldn’t believe how the authors left me hanging and I’m glad the next book is out next month. I couldn’t put this book down and stayed up way too late reading, I can’t wait to see what happens between Keiran and Bash next.

 

About the book

From Ella Frank’s Prime Time series and Brooke Blaine’s South Haven series comes an explosive spin-off of both worlds.

Sebastian “Bash” Vogel, the magnetic, cross-dressing CEO of AnaVoge, has long been a lone island when it comes to his personal life. Self-assured and playful, he’s never left wanting for suitors—but Bash isn’t looking for something permanent. He’s more than fulfilled with his company and his closest friends, and no one is going to shake up the status quo.

That is, until he’s thrown over the shoulder of one of Chicago’s finest and hauled out of a burning building.

Kieran Bailey, a sexy, hardworking lieutenant at Station 73, has been reaping the rewards of being crowned the city’s hottest fireman, which his crew never lets him forget. So many ladies, so little time. So when he rescues the latest damsel in distress, no one is more shocked than him to realize he’s played prince charming to another…prince.

But Bash isn’t like anyone Kieran has ever met, and soon his world is turned upside down as he becomes more intrigued by the enigmatic man that he can’t stay away from.

They’re from two different worlds. This could never work. But what if…they dared to try?

Dare You is book one of the Dare to Try trilogy, which must be read in order. Prior reading is not required, but is always a fantastic idea for maximum enjoyment.

Buy your copy today!

Amazon           Amazon Worldwide           Add Dare you to Goodreads

New Release Book Review: The Forever Place by Michelle Montebello

The Forever PlaceThis was a really great read, a compassionate look at a woman struggling with alcohol addiction and the havoc it plays with her life and those around her.

I was completely engaged in this story from start to finish, I felt so much compassion for Marley and her struggle with alcohol addiction and the choices she makes and the impact this has on her relationships and her professional life.

Sometimes it really does take hitting rock bottom to make you take a look at what is going on, and for Marley it took hitting rock bottom and an ultimatum from her sister before she is willing (albeit under duress), to make a change.

Marley is a criminal defence attorney whose life was badly affected by the repercussions of a case she worked on a couple of years before. Without being aware of it, alcohol has become more than just a fun time. I could relate to this myself and really felt for her when she became aware just how much she was relying on alcohol to function and also how much certain relationships relied on that alcohol consumption.

Michelle Montebello introduces us to ‘Blue Zones’ which are some of the healthiest places on earth to live, (there is a link in the back of the book if you want to know more), White Cedar Island is off the coast of Nova Scotia (this is actually a made-up blue zone based on the real blue zones, which is a shame because I could have lived there myself for half a year (the summer half) if it had been real). Cedar Island is a small community with healthy eating, mostly a vegan diet, self-sustainable for the most part and very little alcohol available.

Marley originally goes there for two weeks to dry out after her sister’s ultimatum, this is extended when she makes friends with her landlady Noelle, who plays a big part in Marley’s recovery, and with Lachlan, a lovely guy who befriends her, along with his gorgeous dog, and realises if she returns to her life at this point she will go back to drinking and nothing will change. I admired Marley’s determination, once she admitted she had a problem, to make changes in her life.

She has some hard decisions to make during her time on the island and she also makes some bad decisions too, I wanted to pull her aside and say nooo don’t do it, but she had to make her own mistakes in order to learn and move forward.

I think that Marley and Lachlan both had very real flaws, ones that made them both easy to relate to. There were a couple of not so nice characters who played quite important roles in Marley’s life and the outcomes that occurred, both on the island and back in Australia.

This really was a wonderful read, an emotional one, highlighting the very real struggle of addiction that so many people deal with every day.

Thank you to Beauty and Lace Book Club and Michelle Montebello for a digital copy of this novel in return for an honest review.

AWW 2021

New Release Book Review: Rewind by Tania Joyce

rewindRewind is book #5 in the Everhide Rockstar Romance series and follows the couple we met in Ruined #2, Kara and Hunter which I thoroughly enjoyed.

This was another emotional read, (you may need tissues), Kara and Hunter have now been together for a year and things are going well until Kara decides she wants to try for a baby using a surrogate. Kara and Hunter’s journey to becoming parents and at the same time following their dreams is full of ups and downs and plenty of struggles and drama.

I have to say, I found Kara slightly selfish and single-minded in Ruined, but she takes it up another level in Rewind and I found it hard to deal with. Yes, she wants a baby desperately, but she didn’t take Hunter’s thoughts or career into account at all instead she just didn’t let up at him until he changed his mind and went the way she wanted to. Saying that I still very much enjoyed Rewind, and about halfway through Kara becomes a nicer person to deal with. 

Hunter and his friends from Everhide are reaching new heights and they have the next two years of their career planned out, a new album and touring. I found Gemma seemed to flip-flop in her feelings about Hunter and the baby issue and seeing as Kara was one of her best friends I found her slightly lacking in support. Kyle, I loved, he was a good friend and supportive all the way through. 

Hunter doesn’t only have to deal with Kara wanting a baby, but also with having problems with his voice, something no lead singer would find easy to deal with. I really felt for him in this, though I did think he should have listened to the experts to start with, everyone has to make their own choices and mistakes and there were possible negative side effects with surgery so I could see where he was coming from.

I really enjoyed getting to know Kara’s sister better and I thought the gift she gave to Kara and Hunter was something very special, and her husband for supporting that choice. Kara’s parents are as toxic as they were previously and I didn’t like them at all and I would have preferred a different ending when it came to their relationship with Kara, but maybe I’m just cynical.

Despite my issues with some of the characters’ behaviours and choices, I really enjoyed reuniting with the Everhide family and enjoyed taking the emotional journey with Hunter and Kara especially after the struggles they had been through and overcome in the past. Theirs is a love that burned strong despite all their differences and they both needed to see what was important if they wanted to be together.

Thank you to Tania Joyce for a digital copy of this novel in return for an honest review.

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New Release Book Review : The Painting by Alison Booth

img_20210606_142209I couldn’t put this book down, it drew me in completely, the descriptive writing was well done, and had me able to imagine the people and places where this story took place, as well as being able to see ‘The Painting’ that Anikar loves and which causes so much drama for her and those around her. 

This novel had two aspects I enjoy, a good mystery and history written in a way I can appreciate, empathise and learn from. I love learning as I read. Set in 1989, in Sydney, Anika, who immigrated from Hungary 5 years previously, during the time of the Soviet Union, the Berlin Wall and all that came with it, has escaped a past she tries to forget, but which is a constant in her life, from tapped telephone calls to her family, memories of being arrested by the secret police and a constant distrust of letting people in. I admit to not knowing as much as I feel I should about this time in history and I appreciate novels that can give me insight into this time and place, I was 14 in 1989 and I new next to nothing about what was going on on the other side of the world, and what people had to endure during this time. 

When Anika left Hungary to live with her aunt Tabilla, who had escaped over the border into Austria many years before, after the death of her husband and immigrated to Australia, she brings with her a painting of an auburn-haired woman in a cobalt blue dress, that was once her uncle’s posession. This painting is the catalyst for everything that happens; secrets, lies, theft and distrust, as Anika’s life is thrown into the centre of a mystery about where the painting came from, who owns it and who is telling the truth. Anika starts to doubt everything her parents and her grandmother have told her about the painting as questions about it’s providence arise, it is stolen, and someone discloses a secret from his past. 

I could really feel Anika’s struggle as she meets the three men that will turn her world around. Daniel, a curator from the art gallery of NSW, who offer’s to help her get the painting valued, but who also seems interested in her as a person, Jonno, who she meets at the art gallery who doesn’t seem trustworthy and turns out to be a jounalist, and Julius, a friend of her aunt’s, an art collector, who is more than a little weirded out when he sees the painting. Anika already struggles to trust people and open up to them and when the painting it stolen, she doesn’t know who to trust, each man seems to have a motive and each one is suspious in his behaviour in some way. I myself wasn’t sure who could be trusted and though I initially liked Daniel, I wasn’t completely sure about him. 

Things that come to light after the painting is stolen,  the history of the Nazi’s and the Russian’s looting and stealing art works, and her own families secretiveness around the painting, cause Anika a great deal of stress and when the Iron Curtain falls and she is able to return safely to Hungary to visit her parents, she goes determined to uncover the mystery and get some answers. 

It is during this trip that she also learns to trust and to heal and right one of the wrongs of the past. 

This paragraph from near the end of the novel really spoke to me:

“Her thoughts floated free. Free of drag, free of resistance, and she felt an expanding sense of detachment. Not only was she seeing the earth from a different vantage point but she was seeing her life in a new way too. Generations of her family had been scarred by upheavals, and their stories where multiplied millions and millions of times all over the globe. Everywhere there were people like them. Damaged people, displaced people. But there were survivors too.”

This was a fabulous read and I will be looking to catch up on this authors backlist if this book is anything to go by, I am sure I will enjoy them. 

 

Release Blitz: Pause by Kylie Scott

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Pause, an all new emotional friends-to-lovers standalone romance from New York Times bestselling author Kylie Scott is available now!

An unpauseable new romance from New York Times bestselling, Audie Award winning author Kylie Scott!

When Anna wakes up from a coma after a car crash, she discovers life has gone on without her. Her husband has been unfaithful—with her best friend—and she’s been long since replaced at work. While her old life is a distant memory, her new life feels like an empty shell. Then she meets the stranger who saved her life during the crash, and he changes everything.

Leif Larsen—tattooist, joker, and player—has his own scars thanks to the crash that put Anna in a coma. Helping her move on from her failed marriage, and create a new life, sounds like a perfect distraction. So when he needs a new roommate, he invites Anna to begin her new life with him.

Although their lives may have been put on pause, together they just might find a way to heal.

Grab yours today!   Amazon       Amazon Worldwide       Apple Books      Nook       Kobo  Amazon Paperback

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About Kylie Scott

Kylie is a New York Times and USA Today best-selling author. She was voted Australian Romance Writer of the year, 2013, 2014 & 2018, by the Australian Romance Writer’s Association and her books have been translated into eleven different languages. She is a long time fan of romance, rock music, and B-grade horror films. Based in Queensland, Australia with her two children and husband, she reads, writes and never dithers around on the internet.

Connect with Kylie   Amazon     Bookbub     Facebook    Twitter     Instagram    Goodreads  Pinterest     Book+Main Bites

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New Release Book Review: The Other Side of Beautiful by Kim Lock

IMG_20210630_183741.jpgI knew from the first couple of chapters that I was going to thoroughly enjoy this novel.

Mercy was a character I felt a connection with immediately, I think reading books that deal with issues such as grief, anxiety and other mental health issues are important because we can realise we are not the only ones struggling with these issues. Mercy hasn’t left her house for nearly two years due to her anxiety taking over her life. We don’t know what happened to start with that led to anxiety disorder taking over her life, but as we travel along with Mercy in her little old van with her little Dachshund Wasabi, she slowly lets herself think about what transpired, how it has affected her life, and slowly allows herself to open up to the people she meets along the way.

Having made my own unplanned road trip from Queensland and down the centre of Australia then across to Perth, I loved travelling with Mercy on her trip in the opposite direction up the Stuart Highway. I also remember stopping at various shops along the way picking up things I had forgotten or didn’t think I’d need, along with having no esky let alone a fridge, and a camp stove and one saucepan, I definitely understood her challenges. Travelling alone and trying NOT to worry about where to camp each night and was it safe, I’m lucky I didn’t have the level of anxiety that Mercy did.

This was a story of awakening, of learning who she was and what she was capable of but most important, it was a journey of healing. I felt a great deal of compassion for Mercy, both because of her debilitating anxiety and because of what she had gone through. I really appreciated her journey, though completely spontaneous, unthought out and due to another trauma, the burning down of her house, the only safe place she’s had for two years, this journey, to The Other Side, was exactly what she needed.

I loved the characters she met along the way, the Grey Nomads travelling in their caravans and various 4WD’s, travelling for all sorts of reasons, many to feel they are still alive. I liked Scottish Andy who was running away in his own way from his ex-wife’s new marriage. The connection he had with Mercy made a big impact on her over the week of bumping into him along the way and I think this helped them both in being able to look towards the future.

Kim Lock has done a great job of portraying Mercy and her anxiety and the traumas that have lead to her removal of herself from everything in her life. This was a novel I didn’t want to put down until the very end, and even then I hoped there was more.

Thank you to #TheBookStack and Harlequin Australia for a copy of this novel in return for an honest review.

 

New Release Book Review: A Home Like Ours by Fiona Lowe

A Home Like OUrsHow gorgeous is this cover.

I thought this was a fabulous read, it had so many issues weaved into the story that are of great importance to me; homelessness, racism, refugees, single mothers, domestic abuse; I thought Fiona Lowe did a great job of covering them all and bringing them to people’s attention.

Though I have several of Fiona’s books waiting on my shelf, this is the first one I have read and I am now determined to get around to reading them all.

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, the cast of characters were so varied, all going through their own struggles. Some I liked, some I didn’t, but they all played their part in making this story a full experience. 

Set in a small town, where tension towards refugees and immigrants is high, I was upset at the way some of the people of the town behaved towards these people, because of the colour of their skin or their religion, just as I am upset when I see it and hear about it daily, I really appreciate authors who bring these issues to the fore. Whilst some of the characters in the story were willing to learn about who these people actually were, to look beyond what was on the outside and see the person and their experiences, to see what they could bring to the community, there were those who were too closed-minded and bigoted to do any such thing, these are the kinds people who I wonder if they will ever wake up and see that we are all people and all entitled to be treated equally.

Homelessness was also a topic covered, Helen used to be homeless, now she caretakes the community garden and works in a cafe in town. She also takes food and invites the hidden homeless women in the town to join her for a meal, she knows it isn’t much, but it is a way of letting these women know they haven’t been forgotten and providing them with a meal they otherwise mightn’t get. It is incredible how blinkered people are to issues that don’t personally affect them, and this is the case when people would ask, oh, do we have homeless people in our town? Homelessness is a big issue and more women are becoming homeless every day through no fault of their own, it is an issue for everyone to address, not just the government.

This novel made me think and feel and I felt compassion and empathy towards the characters. This is a big novel, over 500 pages, but it was one I couldn’t put down and ploughed through, completely engaged and invested in the people of this town.

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

AWW 2021

New Release Book Review & Excerpt : Code Red by N.R Walker

Code RedLately, most romances I read are written from both main characters points of view in alternating chapters, so it took me a while to get used to only having Roscoe’s point of view, but once I did, I was pulled into the sweet, slightly angsty blossoming relationship between Roscoe and Maddox, manager and rock star.

We get a good look at the toll being famous, especially from a young age, can take on the people involved. Maddox is struggling with anxiety which he has been doing a good job of hiding for a while now. Roscoe has been his manager for years and has been falling for him for at least half of that time. When Maddox needs him emotionally, and he offers his support, this is the catalyst for the change in the dynamics of their relationship.

This is a relationship that is against all the rules, but the feelings they have for each other stop them from wanting to follow the rules anymore. I loved Maddox and the way he would ambush Roscoe when he was trying to be strong and keep their relationship professional, and I loved the way Roscoe unknowingly touched Maddox, whether it be on the arm or his lower back, offering support and his presence. Their friendship and attraction were a great foundation for their romantic relationship.

Maddox’s struggle with anxiety was painful, I suffer myself and my heart went out to him. Roscoe’s support was everything for Maddox and while this was a good thing to start with,  it did become a problem and I liked that the author covered both aspects.

Maddox’s bandmates and the other managers, along with Steve, the head of security were fabulous supporting characters and I enjoyed getting to know them and their relationship with Maddox and Roscoe. The management, well, business before the health and wellbeing of the people making you the money is nothing new.

The role the public and media play in making or breaking a band, in supporting or harassing the people in the band, seemingly forgetting these are human beings who have feeling and lives that don’t need to be fully disclosed all the time, I felt for all the people involved, but especially Maddox and Roscoe and the toll it played on them, individually and as a couple.

N.R Walker has certainly done a lot of research on what goes on behind the scenes in the music industry, at times I felt this information bogged the scene down a bit, but I did appreciate the detail she put into setting the scene.

I loved the ending of this novel, it certainly had all the feels.

Thanks to the author for providing me with a digital copy in return for an honest review.

Excerpt:

“Roscoe Hall,” I answered my phone, out of time and patience. It didn’t dawn on me that it was Ryan’s number until after I’d said my name. It was my twentieth call this morning already.

“Just confirming ETA for 9:00 am.”

I checked my watch. It was 7:30 now and I’d already been up for far too long. It was a big day, and I could take a moment to breathe once we were all together.

“Yeah, Ryan. Will be there, thanks.”

There was a brief pause. “Is Maddox with you?”

“On my way to get him now.”

“See you there.”

I pocketed my phone and did one last check. Phone, wallet, passport, tickets, keys. I grabbed my carry-on, locked my front door, and wheeled my suitcase down to the waiting car. I hadn’t even greeted the driver when my phone rang again, and it beeped again on my way to collect Maddox.

I was organized and efficient, aggressively so.

It’s what made me good at my job. Being the personal manager for one of the world’s biggest boy bands was every minute of my life.

These boys didn’t accept second best for anything, and neither did I.

And I should clarify that while they were classified as a boy band, they were men. They might have started out as boys—they were just kids in high school when they formed their first band. But they were twenty-three now. They’d done the small local gigs, needing their parents’ permission to play in bars and clubs around LA when they were underage.

The story of how the band called Atrous made it to the big time was well-known.

The five boys came from nothing. A garage band that crossed pop with rock and rap, playing small gigs wherever they could, when a well-known radio DJ saw them and uploaded footage to his social media. Platinum Entertainment, one of America’s biggest entertainment management companies, signed them, and they’d been on the top of the world music stage for the last four years.

To the outside world, these guys were the ultimate success story.

They had no idea what went on when the lights went out.

Saying I was the personal manager of the whole band wasn’t true either. Personal assistant, handler, manager. It was all the same. But it wasn’t just me. I was one of three. Ryan Morten, Amber Seratt, and I were the personal managers of Atrous, as a whole. While the three managers looked after the five band members, I was, however, the unstated personal manager of one of them in particular.

Lead vocalist and rapper, main dancer, bad boy, Maddox Kershaw.

Ryan and Amber took care of Jeremy, Wes, Luke, and Blake. But Maddox was mine.

Well, not mine. But mine.

God, how I wished he were mine . . .

Over the last four years, Maddox and I’d just gelled. He didn’t trust easily, and for some reason he’d put his trust in me. And the truth was, he needed his own personal manager more than the other four guys.

Maddox was the face of Atrous. Unwilling, but the face, nonetheless.

He carried the weight of their reputation, their brand. He was the one they hounded, the one they chased, the one they followed, the one that made headlines every other day.

He wore black, he had a full sleeve of tattoos, perfect skin, and he had attitude to spare. His motto was to burn down the institutions, to stand tall for those who had to kneel, and to speak for those who had been silenced.

He resonated with the youth around the world.

He was also incredibly good-looking.

When I say good-looking, I mean hot. Sexy, enigmatic, ethereal, even.

His heritage had been talked about a million times. So much of his life was public. His grandmother on his mother’s side was Japanese, and his grandparents on his father’s side

were Dutch. He was a second generation American, a very talented musician, and he was incredibly smart.

He sang like an angel and danced like the devil.

And he answered the door looking like a mix of both. His hair was wet from the shower, he smelled warm and clean, he wore black cargo pants, a black T-shirt, and combat boots. It was his standard attire. Seeing him like that made my heart feel far too big for my chest. “Forget your key?” he asked. He even almost smiled.

It had been so long since I’d seen him smile . . .

Yes, I had a key to his house. But that was for emergencies only. I followed him inside. “You ready? The others are meeting us there.”

He grumbled something that sounded like assent. His house was still dark, open and vast, mind-bogglingly expensive, and it felt empty. It was in Beverly Hills, worth a reported twelve million with incredible views of the canyon and the city, but Maddox had the blinds drawn.

He plucked a black hoodie off the back of his sofa and pulled it on. I ignored how his T-shirt lifted a little, exposing a sliver of pale skin above his waistband. I’d seen him shirtless a thousand times. Hell, I’d even seen him in his underwear. It was nothing new, but it still managed to warm my blood.

I grabbed his two suitcases, wheeling them toward the door. He picked up his black backpack. “Got my passport?”

“Yep,” I replied. “We’re all good. Your mom’s got her key and security numbers?”

“Yeah,” he said with a shrug.

His mother was going to come look after his place while we were gone. We’d be gone for almost seven weeks. Seven long, grueling weeks.

“Come on, I have an iced coffee waiting for you in the car.”

He pulled up his hood, but I swear there was the beginning of a smile before the shadow stole it.

My phone buzzed again, and I pulled it out of my pocket and groaned at the screen. Another message that could wait until we were in the car. I pulled the door shut behind us, made sure it was locked, and wheeled the luggage to the waiting car. I opened the car door for him, I closed the door for him, I loaded the bags into the trunk—it was my job to do these things for him—and finally I got into the back of the car with Maddox.

My phone buzzed again, and I thumbed out a quick reply. We’d been driving for about ten minutes when I realized Maddox hadn’t said a word. He’d sipped his coffee but not much else. I looked at him then, really looked at him, and underneath the killer good looks was a tired man.

“You sleep okay?” I asked.

He scoffed as his answer, then glanced pointedly at my phone. “Did you? Has your phone stopped yet?”

I didn’t need to reply because we both knew the answer.

He nodded because he knew he was right and proving his point, I replied to some more emails and messages on the drive downtown. Yes, we all lived in LA, and yes, we were staying at a hotel in LA because when the tour began, the band and the whole crew would stay together. Mostly for logistical and security reasons, but also for bonding. We were one unit from day one, regardless of location.

As the car pulled into the hotel’s underground parking lot, Maddox’s eyes trained on the people rushing about. “The guys are already here?” he asked.

“Yep. Arrived five minutes ago.”

His shoulders relaxed a little, and for that I was glad. He and his bandmates were like brothers; they’d been through everything together. He was closer to Jeremy than the others, but the bond between the five of them was clear. I was relieved that he’d be with them again. I was pretty sure he’d spent the last few days by himself, holed up in his house. I’d spoken to him on the phone, even came to see him a few times, but getting ready for a tour was a busy time for me.

Before we came to a complete stop, he was quiet and chewed on his bottom lip. I wanted to ask him if he was okay, but there wasn’t time. I doubted he’d even answer that question, or answer it honestly, anyway.

“You excited?” I asked instead. “Sellout stadium tour, twenty-three concerts. You ready for that?”

He met my gaze and didn’t look away. His smile was as brief as it was beautiful. “Yeah. Of course.”

I didn’t believe him, and it was devastating how he could look right at me with those dark, dark eyes and speak so sincerely while he lied.

I spent almost every day with him. I knew him. I knew the real Maddox Kershaw, not the Maddox he showed the world. The private one, the quiet one, the intellectual one . . .

The miserable one.

The Maddox I’d been secretly in love with for years . . . the Maddox I could never have.

“Maddox,” I said, but his door opened from the outside, and people were getting luggage from our car and giving directions, and there was no time.

The commotion had begun. These seven weeks were going to be brutal.

He lowered his head, pulled up his hood to hide his face, and got out of the car.

Blurb

Maddox Kershaw is the main vocalist of the world’s biggest boy band. He’s at the top of every music chart, every award show, every social media platform, and every sexiest-man-alive list. He’s the bad boy, the enigma, the man everyone on the planet wants a piece of.

He’s also burned out and exhausted, isolated and lonely. Not in a good headspace at the start of a tour.

Roscoe Hall is Maddox’s personal manager. His job is high-flying, high-demand, high-profile, and he loves it. Maddox has consumed his entire life for the past four years. Roscoe knows him. He sees the real Maddox no one else gets to see.

He’s also in love with him.

When the tour and stress become too much, when the world begins to close in, Roscoe becomes Maddox’s lifeline. But as Maddox knows already, and as Roscoe is about to learn, the brighter the spotlight, the darker the shadow.

Tag Line: The brighter the spotlight, the darker the shadow

N.R. Walker Bio

N.R. Walker is an Australian author, who loves her genre of gay romance. She loves writing and spends far too much time doing it, but wouldn’t have it any other way.

She is many things: a mother, a wife, a sister, a writer. She has pretty, pretty boys who live in her head, who don’t let her sleep at night unless she gives them life with words.

She likes it when they do dirty, dirty things… but likes it even more when they fall in love.

She used to think having people in her head talking to her was weird, until one day she happened across other writers who told her it was normal.

She’s been writing ever since…

For more about N.R. Walker you can find her at:

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