Friday, September 30, 2016

The Books We Fell For: September Book of the Month Picks

Hi, everyone, and welcome to this month's peek at some of the books we read, reviewed, and loved at The Novel Approach.

One of the things I always love about compiling these titles is the eclectic variety of genres we're able to offer--from Urban Fantasy to Historical to Contemporary--variety is the spice of reading, I guess. :)

So, here's a little taste of the books we loved in September, and don't forget to enter our monthly e-book giveaway!


Cassie Mad Lizard Mambo by Rhys Ford – “One of the things I love about Rhys Ford is that I always feel like I learn something reading her books. I pick up new vocab words or end up googling pictures of paho’eho’e lava in the first five pages so I know what the landscape actually looks like. Her phrases are innovative and complicated in that fun way that feels like your brain just took a yoga class and came out bendier and hotter, or you know, sore and sweaty. Either way, FUN. It also has the added benefit of slowing this speed-reader down and prolonging my enjoyment. I dig it.

One of the other things I love (yeah, there are lots—just strap in for the gushing, okay?) are the opening sequences. All her books tend to start off with a bang, this series and the Cole McGinnis series in particular. But this time, Ms. Ford REALLY outdid herself. I’ve never been so concerned, while laughing so hard, while also feeling slightly ill. It was great. I went back and read it again before I moved on just to be sure it had actually just happened. It had.

The writing style is visceral. The hard living and pointy edges of Kai’s character are very clear in the voice of the book. Well done, as it’s first person from Kai’s perspective. The fight sequences are graceless, glorious, mad-scrabble scrambles for survival; not well-choreographed bouts, but sheer, desperate brute force and stalker-wiles. It communicates a sense of reality and urgency that I thoroughly enjoy.”

Maryann Cougar Chaos by A.J. Marcus – “Cougar Chaos is really an emotional read. Besides the danger Brock and Landon face, they have to deal with the worst crime imaginable to wildlife. It was painstakingly hard for Landon just to put down a creature who was already suffering.

If you are a true lover of nature’s beauty and wildlife, you will never regret reading A.J. Marcus’s Mountain Spirit Mysteries series. He never ceases to educate and entertain with his amazing stories. He takes us into the world of Parks and Wildlife, the rehabbers and the creatures that are in danger.

Come along and follow Brock and Landon’s adventures, and Bear’s too, starting with Eagle’s Blood, Grizzly Discovery, and Moose Fever.”

Lindsey The Pill Bugs of Time by Angel Martinez – “Not only did Ms. Martinez do a phenomenal job with the present day in this book, but I quite enjoyed the additional world building from both future and past that Vikash himself reveals during the course of this investigation. The future world and its changes was extremely intriguing and unique in its portrayal. I found myself wanting more of the future world.

I am officially hooked on this series and the quirky and creative world that Angel Martinez has built. This book was just plain fun, and I can’t wait to see what the next installment has in store for the readers.

If you are a reader looking for a book that is quick, light, and bizarre, and that leaves you with a smile on your face, this book—and this series—is highly recommended.”

Sammy What About Everything? by John Goode – “I laughed until I cried–that is a given in a John Goode novel. What should be so simple—loving another–is so fraught with pitfalls, and these men leap in every time. It’s not just miscommunication that has Tyler and Matt on the brink of a break-up; it’s the fact that Tyler cannot seem to allow for the idea that his past should not define him. When we cannot forgive ourselves, Mr. Goode tells us, we can hardly expect to embrace happiness in any form when it’s offered. Forgiveness must start at home, and Tyler learns this the hard way. Matt is the most patient man ever written, but even he has his limits and every one of them is pushed in this novel. Through flawless humor, incredible moments of intimacy and support from the craziest yet most loyal friends ever, Matt and Tyler begin to realize that a relationship takes work and in order for it to stay afloat, one must recognize the life rafts floating alongside and grab hold of them.”

Angel David, Renewed by Diana Copland – “I love the realism, I suppose, is the word for both Diana Copland and her writing. This new story doesn’t disappoint in any way and delivers what it promised in spades. I loved David and his broken down house and the reasons why he was renovating. Jackson was cute and I loved his attitude and perseverance. This story was fraught with real-time angst and the characters were involved in the tragedies of their stories, but they’re weren’t caricatures of the angst. It made blips in their lives, but it didn’t destroy them, and I think the entire story was stronger for that. The MCs settled their problems with real solutions that weren’t hand waved away.”

Carrie Dinner for One by Meg Harding – “Overall, the French cooking bites are delicious. The secondary characters hold up their portions of the story, weaving in and out of the main characters’ lives. These are family men, both of them, and the secondary actors are important in the development of who these men are. I laughed at James’ family, and I adored Bastien’s niece, Avery.

I thought the title was clever. At first I thought dinner for one was a play on the fact that James is a food critic—except he never eats by himself, always taking his brother with him. I appreciated that it turned out to be a play on what James has to do to win Bastien’s affections back. That was refreshingly original, and I appreciated that he had to work for absolution; it wasn’t just given to him.

Low angst, high romance, amusing banter, hot guys, good sex with a little kink, an interesting plot and great writing. Sometimes it’s enough that two men fall in love.”

Jennifer The Soldier’s Scoundrel by Cat Sebastian – “The Soldier’s Scoundrel is set in regency era London and focuses on Oliver Rivington and Jack Turner. The two men could not be more opposite. Oliver is the son of an Earl, former military, and very high class and proper. Jack, on the other hand, is lower class and circumvents the law at the request of the people who hire him. It seems that the two men should not be together, should never fall in love, but love is blind and all that. Of course, there is the initial tension between the two men, but that slowly melts away as they get to know each other.

There is a bit of a mystery in this novel, which was fun to read even if it wasn’t overly complicated; however, the heart of the story lies in the relationship between Oliver and Jack as it unfolds. The problem with their relationship is not that they are two men, but the status difference between them as it makes associating with each other in public even more difficult and downright dangerous. This might seem like a common trope in many historical romances, but Cat Sebastian really did a great job at highlighting those differences as well as bringing up the justice system without making it heavy-handed. Instead, the risk was high, yes, but you had hope for them, even if my heart broke several times for Jack.”

Jules Empty Net by Avon Gale – “I love the way Gale handles so many things in this book. She does a really wonderful job with the sharing of Saint’s cruel and abusive past, as well as with discussions of his substantial eating disorder. Both topics demand being handled with care, and she certainly does that. I felt like she covered all the bases, but also kept things within the spirit of the series, i.e., there was plenty of emotion and respect for the subject matter, but nothing ever got too heavy.

So many things to love in this book. More Misha for one. Gahhhhh. I LOVE that man. He’s perhaps my favorite character in all of the books. Also, I thought it was so cool that we got two different perspectives of the game in this one. Unlike all of the players in the series thus far, Saint does NOT play for the love of the game, and I love the story that Gale tells there. And I just used ‘love’ four times in this paragraph, annnnd thirteen times total in the review…Perhaps I should take this as a sign to wrap this up!”

Lisa Bad Judgment by Sidney Bell – “Bad Judgment is author Sidney Bell’s debut novel, and I hope to the gods of fiction that it’s not her last, because this. Book. Is. Awesome. As a change of pace in the M/M romance genre, it’s not a story about being gay. Rather, this is a story of intrigue and danger and espionage and revenge, which happens to feature two gay protagonists, Brogan Smith and Embry Ford. This is also not a run of the mill love story. Not by a long shot, thanks to Embry, who hasn’t built walls as much as he’s constructed a poison tipped razor wire façade meant to deter familiarity, and a sharp tongue he’s not afraid to use to cut to the quick as a means of avoiding conversation.

Heaped upon my love of Bell’s gift for characterization is her overall talent for telling a fast paced and gripping story. There’s not a single throwaway scene or word of dialogue in Bad Judgment, not a moment where I didn’t want to give this book my full and undivided attention. The author wrung every conceivable emotion from me, from happy to horrified, as we learn more about all of Embry’s motivations and watch as he comes near to being psychologically dismantled in a ruthless way, which ultimately justifies (at least in the fictional sense) his actions. The pivotal confrontation scene was pitch perfect and rife with tension as Embry enters the final showdown with his demons and must decide how far he’s willing to go to sacrifice the man he has a difficult time admitting he loves.”


And that does it for this month! Happy reading and here's the giveaway!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, September 23, 2016

Happy release day to Nicki Bennett & Ariel Tachna!
Back in 2010 when All For One by Bennett & Tachna first came out, I remember being sort of disappointed because the story wasn't about Teo and Christian again. I had fallen in love with those two reading Checkmate and wanted there to be more. And there is because the musketeers end up being friends with the English ambassador and his bodyguard, but  the whole book isn't about them. So I went into All For One sort of growly and grouchy but as they say, a funny thing happened...I fell madly and completely and more-in-love with Léandre and Perrin than I ever was with Teo and Christian. And I loved Teo and Christian so...

The second book starts out with a threesome, Aristide, Léandre, and Perrin. They are, three of the King's musketeers and they sleep together and they love each other--as buddies--and are inseparable. Right away, I loved Léandre and Perrin. They're both funny, gorgeous, loyal, deadly, funny (did I mention the funny?), and though we see it, the reader, the two men miss for a bit the fact that they are MADE for each other. Don't get me wrong, Aristide is great too. But Aristide is perfect. Like annoyingly so. He's the best of them and I'll be honest, I wasn't feeling him until the musketeers meet Benoît on the road. He's carrying a note that basically says that their boss, the man the musketeers all report to and keep on a pedestal is a traitor. And it's not true but to figure out the mystery of who's behind the plot, they have to keep Benoît alive. Well once Aristide starts protecting Benoît and we see that relationship grow, I understood that Aristide only "seemed" perfect and he became endearing. So I really liked him, I liked Benoît too but for me, the real draw, the heart of the story, is Léandre and Perrin. Everyone has their favorites. I'm sure there are people who prefer the first and think that Léandre and Perrin, the way they banter and tease and how snarky they are with each other and how loud they get in the sack, is crass. The thing is, in this book, you have the idealized love that grows from mutual appreciation and trust in Aristide and Benoît and then you have the love that grows organically from day-to-day friendship into something powerful and possessive in Léandre and Perrin. And Léandre and Perrin are melt-the-paint-off-the-walls hot. Here look:


“I expect we’ve seen the last of Aristide in our bed,” he lamented. “It seems the blacksmith finally got his head out of his ass.”
“If he’s willing to remain once Raúl and his companion depart, it’s more likely he’ll wind up with Aristide’s cock there instead,” Léandre agreed, “as soon as Aristide’s strong enough to give it to him.” Reaching across the table, he rested a hand atop Perrin’s, the warmth that ran through him at the simple contact making him realize he was not as distressed by the defection of their third as he would once have been. “At least Aristide will be happy.”
Perrin nodded, sliding his stocking-clad foot beneath the table to find Léandre’s leg and then working his way up until he came to the juncture of Léandre’s thighs. He pressed lightly on the swelling at the apex, flexing his toes in an effort to increase his arousal. An idea flitted across the back of his mind, but he pushed it away for the moment. Léandre would be more receptive after they’d taken the edge off their passion.
“Merde,” Léandre groaned, his head falling back and eyes closing in bliss. He tightened his fingers around Perrin’s hand, encouraging him to continue. While he might be surprised Perrin was taking Aristide’s loss with so little complaint, Léandre certainly wasn’t about to complain himself, not when Perrin was rousing him to aching hardness with the wanton contact.
Perrin grinned, adjusting himself in his chair so he could lift his other foot to join the one currently teasing Léandre. The look on Léandre’s face was enough to have him reaching for his own cock and rubbing it through his breeches as he bracketed Léandre’s shaft between his feet, kneading repetitively with his toes until Léandre was squirming eagerly. He could probably bring him off just from this, but he wanted more than that. Letting his feet fall to the floor again, he rose and pulled Léandre with him into the sitting room, where the high-backed chairs provided a much more conducive setting for what he had in mind. After pushing Léandre down into one, he knelt between Léandre’s thighs and drew his cock out through the placket of his breeches.
Léandre felt positively decadent, letting his legs slide out and fall open to welcome Perrin between them. Perrin smiled up at him with a wicked gleam in his eyes before bending to lap at the head of Léandre’s cock, light teasing licks that only made Léandre ache all the more to feel Perrin’s hot, wet mouth surrounding him. “Putain, don’t tease, Perrin.”
“You don’t like that?” Perrin asked innocently, knowing full well how much Léandre liked it. “Maybe you’d like this better?” He lowered his head, lifted the hard cock out of the way so he could reach the pendant sac beneath, sucked it between his lips and rolled the balls with his tongue. He released them with a pop and looked up at Léandre expectantly. “So, which shall I suck, lover? Your hot, thick cock, or your full, heavy balls?”
“Either—both—just stop talking and start sucking!” Thrusting a hand into Perrin’s dark hair, Léandre pushed down roughly, tearing with his other hand at the laces of Perrin’s shirt to seek the warm skin beneath.
Perrin chuckled and shrugged out of his shirt before he latched his mouth onto Léandre’s balls again. He licked and sucked and lavished attention on them for several long moments before Léandre pulled his head away and bent forward to attack his lips. Perrin returned the kiss eagerly as Léandre sucked his own flavor from Perrin’s tongue. Breaking the kiss but holding Léandre’s gaze, Perrin lowered his head to the weeping cock again, swallowing it all the way down, then pulling off slowly, coating his tongue in Léandre’s cream. Pushing up on his knees, he kissed his lover again, sharing the salty-sweet essence.
Léandre explored Perrin’s chest and back as they kissed before pausing to knead at the firm pectoral muscles. When he’d coaxed Perrin’s nipples to pebbled hardness with his thumbs, he broke away from the kiss and leaned forward to drag his tongue over the tightened nubs. With the hiss of breath this won spurring him on, he nipped at the dampened flesh, closing strong white teeth around a nipple and tugging until Perrin groaned in pleasure.
Bracing one hand on the arm of the chair, Perrin slid the other around Léandre’s cock, forming a tight channel for him to fuck. Léandre rocked his hips into Perrin’s hand in time with his bites on Perrin’s nipples, drawing a long, deep moan from Perrin’s mouth. Suddenly needing more, Perrin rocked back onto his heels, pulled Léandre to his feet, and spun him around. He jerked down his breeches, but the smallclothes defeated him momentarily. In frustration he grabbed the thin fabric and pulled, tearing it open to reveal the perfect curve of Léandre’s ass. Closing his hands over the smooth globes, he parted the muscular cheeks and dove between them, finding the tightly furled hole unerringly with his tongue.
Any protest Léandre might have made over the ruination of his smallclothes died in his throat when Perrin’s tongue speared into him. “Merde, yes,” he groaned, digging his fingers into the armchair’s padded back to hold himself upright. Craning his neck, he stared over his shoulder at the debauched sight of Perrin’s dark head bobbing between his pale cheeks, tongue stretching him with ardent fervor.
Desperate now for more of Léandre’s lusty cries, Perrin reached between the parted thighs to grasp Léandre’s cock again. He worked it hard, with the same determined intensity he applied to his ass. His cock ached, but he’d had enough of his self-control giving out before Léandre came. This time would be different. This time, Léandre would come first.
The urgent pressure in his balls warned Léandre that he wouldn’t be able to hold out against Perrin’s erotic assault much longer. Too aware that he had received the lion’s share of pleasure until now, he forced his arms to push himself upright, the sudden movement catching Perrin by surprise. Taking advantage of the momentum, Léandre spun around and tore open Perrin’s breeches, fell to his knees, and swallowed the dripping shaft to the root.
All his resolve flying out the window, Perrin came with a hoarse shout as Léandre’s mouth engulfed him. He collapsed backward onto the floor, panting for breath. “Putain, Léandre, I wanted to make you come first!”
Swallowing the flood of seed filling his mouth, Léandre cleaned his lips with a lascivious swipe of his tongue before kneeling beside Perrin. “Do you have any idea how much of a man it makes me feel when you lose control that way? You make me feel like the most potent lover alive.” He tucked an errant strand of hair behind Perrin’s ear, lingering for a moment before he rose to his feet, offering his hand. “Let’s take this to bed.”
Perrin’s only response was a growl as he tackled Léandre to the rug in front of the fireplace and pinned his hips. He closed his lips around Léandre’s still-hard cock, spearing one finger deep into the channel his tongue had started to prepare. He might not have managed to outlast Léandre, but that didn’t mean he’d leave him unsatisfied, even for the time it took to move to the bedroom.
Léandre’s knees fell open, hips canting to press deeper into Perrin’s hot mouth and plundering touch. Before he could ask, a second finger joined the first, twisting as Perrin worked his shaft until the head nudged the back of his throat. Perrin swallowed around the thick head just as his fingertip found the bump of nerves that triggered Léandre’s climax, his howl loud enough to be heard at the royal palace as he pulsed his release down Perrin’s throat.
Grinning smugly, Perrin took his time licking Léandre clean. When no trace of his release remained, Perrin rocked to his feet. “Now we can go to bed.”
“Good thing Benoît’s still with Aristide, or we’d have given him reason to complain that time.” Léandre’s smile was broad as he stood, his legs still unsteady with the force of his climax. He kicked off the tangled remains of his clothing, leaving the tattered garments where they fell as he followed Perrin to their bedchamber.
“Somehow I doubt he’ll have quite so many of the same reservations by the time Aristide brings him back to Paris.” Perrin laughed. “Besides, I’d be willing to bet the majority of his complaint stemmed from the idea that Aristide was with us rather than that we were together.” Sprawling across the bed, waiting for Léandre to join him, he met Léandre’s green eyes, trying to imbue his expression with all the emotion he had discovered in himself recently. “Aristide asked me once if I wanted more than what we shared, if I wanted someone just for myself. I gave him some flippant answer because I’d never really thought about it and because the idea of leaving you to find someone scared me.” He took a deep breath, searching Léandre’s gaze for some indication of his feelings. “But the last few weeks have made me realize something. I don’t need to go searching for someone I want for myself. You’re already right here with me.”
Lowering himself to the bed, Léandre lost himself in Perrin’s eyes, their expression one he had never hoped to see directed at him—and one he’d be damned if he wanted directed at anyone else. Even Aristide. “And will be, for as long as you want me.” The rest of the clever retort he meant to make died on his lips, his gaze still locked with Perrin’s, hoping Perrin would have the courage to say the words Léandre couldn’t be the first to admit.
“Forever might be long enough,” Perrin murmured, drawing Léandre’s head toward his. Just before their lips met, he paused. “I love you, Philippe de Chambléan.” He’d never expected to make such a declaration to anyone, but the first time he did, it would be with nothing less than Léandre’s real name. Not waiting for a reply, he captured Léandre’s mouth, ravishing it with his own.
The response he might have made swallowed in Perrin’s kiss, Léandre let his reaction speak for him instead. Opening to Perrin’s insistent tongue, he acquiesced to Perrin’s dominance for a handful of heartbeats before pulling him closer and doing some plundering of his own.
Perrin moved his hands reverently over Léandre’s back as they lay side by side, mouths meeting, then parting, only to meet again even more deeply, until they drew breath from each other’s mouths rather than from their own, and the taste of the other’s mouth was more familiar than the taste of their own.
Léandre was surprised at the lack of urgency he felt for more than the long, slow kisses he and Perrin shared. Perhaps it was knowing with a certainty he’d never had before that Perrin would always be there with him—forever, he’d promised, and Léandre meant to hold him to that. Resting his forehead against Perrin’s, he paused until the hazel eyes opened to his. “I love you, Mathieu Jacquet. I never thought to say it to anyone, but there’s no one else I’d want to share my bed and my life.”
Perrin understood the vow Léandre was making, but even the thought of anyone else seeing him this way was enough to prick his jealousy. Rolling Léandre beneath him, he captured his wrists. “Never again,” he growled, pinning his arms to the pillows. “There’ll be no one in your bed but me.”
“I think I’ve trained you well enough to satisfy me by now.” The warmth shining from Léandre’s eyes belied the teasing tone of his answer. Enjoying the firm weight of Perrin’s body atop his, he didn’t struggle to free his hands, instead wrapping his feet around Perrin’s calves to add to the intimacy of their contact. “As long as the same holds true for you. No more whoring for any cock but mine.”
“Don’t want any cock but yours,” Perrin assured him, “but we’ll see which of us is begging before the night’s over. I’m going to make you scream.” Lowering his head, he bit hard at Léandre’s neck, raising a bruise to stake his claim. “No more mistresses,” he growled, working his way lower to bite at the peaked nipples, knowing Léandre could take the rough touches. “No more pretending anyone else touched you but me.” He sank his teeth into the skin just above Léandre’s navel. “You’re mine now.”
Léandre moaned at the harsh caresses, the claim resonating with a need he hadn’t realized he had—to belong to one man, and to know, down to his bones, that man belonged to him just as fully. “Yours,” he agreed, voice husked with desire. “As you are mine.”

*swoon* Perrin is my favorite in the whole All For Love series, he took over Teo's spot with this book because he's vulnerable and sexy and stuffed full with bravado but fiercely loyal and he'd give his life without question for the man he loves. When he jumps in, he's there forever. He's not to be missed.
I'm so thrilled that these books got re-edited and re-covered and even if historicals aren't your thing--because I'm not crazy about them as a rule either--this series is different because the characters are there front and center and how can you ever go wrong with sexy swordsmen? 

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Guest Blogger: Shira Anthony
I'm very excited to have the wonderfully talented Shira Anthony on my blog today chatting about her newest release, Take Two, which I so loved because it's the kind of shmoopy romance I adore. You know, the one where the guys who should be together get a second chance and you root for them the whole way. It's funny that there's a movie being made in the book because the book itself would make a great romantic film. Wesley and Sam have that snarky, hot banter going with heat and yearning between them. I scooped it up as soon as it come out. But enough of me, here's Shira to talk about the book:

Take Two is a sweet and funny story about getting a second chance at true love. Some angst, some adventure, hot sex, and lots of silliness and romance.
Wesley’s a slightly uptight college history professor. Sam is a Hollywood superstar. Entirely different personalities, but they fit well together. At least they did until Sam’s career took him away from Wesley and their life in New York City. Wesley’s the first one to admit he still loves Sam, but his heart has just started to heal and he’s doing his best to move on. Sam, on the other hand, knows he wants Wesley back and he’s willing to grovel if he needs to. Sam conspires to take a role in a less than D quality movie about a pirate that’s being filmed on location at the North Carolina coast, and manages to trick Wesley into consulting on the movie. But will Sam’s over the top antics to get Wesley back work? Maybe. Maybe not.


 Lights, camera, action! When Professor Wesley Coolidge accepts a summer job as a historical consultant to a pirate movie being filmed in North Carolina, the last person he expects to bump into is his soon-to-be-ex, movie star Sander Carson.

Just like the flamboyant pirate he’s playing, Sander, aka Sam Carr, is used to getting what he wants, and he makes it clear he wants Wesley back in his life. Sam lost Wesley when he left their life in New York City behind for a career in Hollywood. But Wesley has finally managed to put the pieces of his heart back together, and he isn’t interested in Sam and Wesley: The Sequel.

Convincing Wesley to give their relationship a second chance will take much more than Sam’s apologies and reminders of good times past. If Sam wants Wesley back, he’ll have to show Wesley that they really can sail into the sunset together—a real-life happily-ever-after that won’t end once the final credits roll.

Buy Links:

About Shira: Shira Anthony was a professional opera singer in her last incarnation, performing roles in such operas as Tosca, Pagliacci, and La Traviata, among others. She’s given up TV for evenings spent with her laptop, and she never goes anywhere without a pile of unread M/M romance on her Kindle.
Shira is married with two children and two insane dogs, and when she’s not writing, she is usually in a courtroom trying to make the world safer for children. When she’s not working, she can be found at the Carolina coast aboard Land’s Zen, a 35’ catamaran sailboat, with her favorite sexy captain at the wheel.
Want to hear Shira sing? You can listen to an excerpt from a live recording of Shira performing Tosca on her website:

Where to find Shira:
Twitter: @WriterShira