Release Day Review: Goodbye Paradise by Sarina Bowen

Goodbye Paradise by Sarina Bowen
Series: Hello Goodbye #1 (full reading order below)
Publication Date: March 21st 2017
Links: Ebook • Goodreads
Source: I received an ARC from the author in exchange for an honest review

Most people called it a cult. But for twenty years, Josh and Caleb called it home.

In Paradise, there is no television. No fast food. Just long hours of farm work and prayer on a dusty Wyoming ranch, and nights in a crowded bunkhouse. The boys of the Compound are kept far from the sinners’ world.

But Joshua doesn’t need temptation to sin. His whole life, he’s wanted his best friend, Caleb. By day they work side by side. Only when Josh closes his eyes at night can they be together the way he craves.

It can never be. And his survival depends on keeping his terrible desires secret.

Caleb has always protected Josh against the worst of the bullying at the Compound. But he has secrets of his own, and a plan to get away — until it all backfires.

Josh finds himself homeless in a world that doesn’t want him. Can Caleb find him in time? And will they find a place of safety, where he can admit to Josh how he really feels?

Warning: Contains a hot male/male romance, copious instances of taking the Lord’s name in vain, and love against the kitchen counter. This book was previously released under the title: In Front of God & Everyone.

I love anything Sarina Bowen writes, but I have to say I think this is the most adorable M/M romance I’ve ever read. I had all the heart eye emojis while reading Josh and Caleb’s lovely, emotional, heartwarming story. I seriously ADORED this book! If you’re looking for a sweet, unique M/M romance, you’ll definitely need to read Goodbye Paradise!

Josh and Caleb grew up in Paradise, and for the past two decades, they’ve been living in this cult, working as laborers and getting few benefits from it. One perk of the job though, is the fact that Josh can be around his best friend Caleb… and he can long for him from afar. No one can know that Josh has got a crush on his best friend, who’s a guy, because they’ll be sure to kick him out of Paradise and leave him homeless. But that day comes sooner than later when the cult finds little use in Josh anymore. But when Caleb escapes so he can stand by Josh’s side, can they possibly start a new life together from practically nothing?

As they make their way to Massachusetts to find a woman named Maggie who left Paradise years ago and made a home for herself, Josh and Caleb are once again side by side, but now out in the open. It’s here that Caleb finally makes his move and shows Josh that it’s okay to love a man, because he loves Josh back. Despite how much Josh tried to keep his feelings hidden, loving Caleb was as easy as breathing and there was nothing that could stop him from being with the man he’s loved for so long.

I reached up, circling him in my arms, pulling him down beside me. “I love you.” I could say that without guilt. Because loving someone wasn’t a sin. Other things… sure. But love could never be a crime.

I absolutely adored everything about Josh and Caleb’s story. The raw and beautiful love they have for each other was so simple and easy… it was everything surrounding them that made their lives difficult. But these two are nothing if not hardworking and persistent, and even before the end of the novel, I knew Caleb and Josh would survive and thrive in their new lives.

Goodbye Paradise brought out ALL the feels and emotions out of me. My heart honestly couldn’t stop overflowing with happiness over Caleb and Josh’s love for each other. They are absolutely perfect for each other – I can’t imagine a sweeter couple than them! I almost wish this book was longer, because I didn’t want to let go of their story. I loved this book – and I can’t wait for more M/M from Sarina Bowen!

“I’m so hard for you right now. That’s never going to change. Whether I’m stupid or smart, and whether you still love me anymore, or not. I never could help loving you. It’s just the way that I’m wired.”


lacey

Quotes are taken from the arc and are subject to change in the final version.


Reading Order: Hello Goodbye series

 

#1 ~ Goodbye Paradise: Ebook • Goodreads
#2 ~ Hello Forever: Goodreads (release date TBA)


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Audiobook Review: Pretend by Riley Hart

Pretend by Riley Hart
Series: Blackcreek #3 (full reading order below)
Audiobook Publication Date: September 27th 2016
Length: 6 hours and 52 minutes
Narrated by: Luke Itzvic
Links: Audible • EbookPaperback • Goodreads
Source: I received an audiobook in exchange for an honest review

Mason Alexander thought all he wanted in life was something to call his own—something without the family name attached. He got that when he bought his bar in Blackcreek…but then a hard truth opens his eyes that he’s been lied to his whole life, and he’s tangled amid the family that loves him, a truth that haunts him, and torn between the life he wants for himself and the obligation he feels for his family.

Gavin Davis knows a thing or two about living a double life. Being a gay man with strict Christian parents who believe he’s going to Hell, has never been easy. Instead of dealing, Gavin lost himself in his career. Teaching music gives him solace. So when he loses his job at a private school for helping out a gay kid, he feels like he lost more than a job. He lost his identity.

Blackcreek is a new start for both of them, two men, loyal to a fault, who both feel obligated to people in their lives. What Mason and Gavin don’t expect to find in each other is the place where they can be real. They know they want each other, it’s the rest of it they can’t figure out. Caught between loyalty, obligation, fear, tragedy and family, Mason and Gavin’s lives threaten to pull them away from each other if they don’t get real, and stop playing pretend, for good.

Riley Hart’s Blackcreek series continues to be a hot, romantic M/M series that I’m enjoying listening to. I think the first book is still my favorite so far, but the rest of the series is still fun to listen to, especially with Luke Itzvic narrating all the books. Pretend features Gavin Davis, the ex-boyfriend of Braden, one of the main characters from book two of the Blackcreek series, and Mason Alexander, the new owner of Creekside bar. Both men are in Blackcreek to avoid family drama and their problems, while finding solace in each other.

Gavin has lost his position as a music teacher, so he’s in need of a job. What a coincidence that Mason needs help running his new bar, right? Plus, there’s the side perk of the two of them being wildly attracted to each other. They lose themselves in each other to avoid their current problems – Mason, not wanting to deal with his revelation of being adopted by his wealthy family, and Gavin, not wanting to deal with his religious family not accepting of his sexual orientation. The chemistry between them is fantastic – Gavin and Mason are insanely hot together! This might be the hottest of the series yet. And I loved how dominant Mason was even as a bottom (hello, power bottom!).

Riley Hart did a wonderful job balancing out the drama with the romance, though I do think the conflict dragged on for a bit too long. I didn’t feel as deep a connection with this story as the other two in the series, which is why I didn’t LOVE it, but I did adore the ending, which was perfect for the main characters. Luke Itzvic once again did an incredible job with narrating Gavin and Mason, and I’m really happy that he narrated the whole series. If you love audiobooks and M/M romances, I would definitely recommend you give this series a try!

PRETEND is now available on Audible: http://amzn.to/2eCcrPo

3 hearts
lacey


Reading Order: Blackcreek series

   

#1 ~ Collide: My Review • EbookPaperback • Audible • Goodreads
#2 ~ Stay: My Review • EbookPaperback • Audible • Goodreads
#3 ~ Pretend: EbookPaperbackAudible • Goodreads
#3.5 ~ Return to Blackwater Creek: EbookPaperbackAudible • Goodreads

Here’s an audio excerpt from Pretend!


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Audiobook Review: Stay by Riley Hart

Stay by Riley Hart
Series: Blackcreek #2 (full reading order below)
Audiobook Publication Date: September 27th 2016
Length: 7 hours and 14 minutes
Narrated by: Luke Itzvic
Links: Audible • EbookPaperback • Goodreads
Source: I received an audiobook in exchange for an honest review

Wes Jensen just lost the sister who raised him, and gained custody of his niece. The last thing he needs to add to his full plate is dealing with Braden Roth, the one-night-stand who continues to try to push his way into Wes’s life. He has a kid to raise now, and Wes isn’t great at getting close anyway.

Braden has never had a woman or a man sneak out on him the morning after. From the start, Wes intrigues him, and Braden isn’t one to deny himself something he wants. And he wants Wes. The more time he spends with Wes and the little girl who constantly keeps them on their toes, the more Braden realizes this isn’t just about getting the guy who walked away.

As their lives intertwine more and more, Wes discovers Braden isn’t as shallow as he thought. But after everything Wes lost in his life, he isn’t sure he can risk his heart, and truly want Braden to stay—and if he did, would Wes’s quiet life be enough for Braden?

I’d been excited for Wes and Braden’s story ever since listening to Collide! They were such an interesting couple – I couldn’t wait to see how the man raising his sister’s daughter and the consummate playboy would fall for each other and make a relationship work out. This book was surprisingly sweet, especially with the adorable Jessie. I didn’t fully connect with the story, but I appreciated that there was so much heart in the romance and characters. I enjoyed listening to Stay, but I do think I liked the first book a little more.

Wes Jensen lost his beloved sister, but gained her daughter instead. Getting custody of Jessie was never in his plans, but he’ll do anything to care for and protect his niece. She’s his number one priority at the moment, which means his personal – and romantic – life has to take a step back. But Braden, his one-night-stand, won’t stop trying to push himself into Wes’s life. Can Wes believe that Braden truly wants more with him, or will he keep his heart forever guarded against this man?

I adored Braden and how hard he tried to make Wes see that he genuinely wanted more with him. This playboy fell hard and fast, and it warmed my heart to see him act in such a caring way with Wes and Jessie. Wes’s struggles and his back and forth with Braden were understandable but frustrated me a little. Overall, this story was a pretty mellow listen with little drama, which I appreciated. Luke Itzvic once again did an incredible job with narrating the two male characters, and I would definitely listen to other audiobooks he narrates Even though I didn’t love Stay, I’m still looking forward to listening to the rest of the series!

STAY is now available on Audible: http://amzn.to/2eeCkGZ

3 hearts
lacey


Reading Order: Blackcreek series

   

#1 ~ Collide: My Review • EbookPaperback • Audible • Goodreads
#2 ~ Stay: EbookPaperback • Audible • Goodreads
#3 ~ Pretend: EbookPaperbackAudible • Goodreads
#3.5 ~ Return to Blackwater Creek: EbookPaperbackAudible • Goodreads

Here’s an audio excerpt from Stay!


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Audiobook Review: Collide by Riley Hart

Collide by Riley Hart
Series: Blackcreek #1 (full reading order below)
Audiobook Publication Date: September 27th 2016
Length: 7 hours and 44 minutes
Narrated by: Luke Itzvic
Links: Audible • EbookPaperback • Goodreads
Source: I received an audiobook in exchange for an honest review

At ten years old, Noah Jameson and Cooper Bradshaw collided mid-air when they dove for the same football. For three years, they were inseparable…until one day when Noah and his parents disappeared in the middle of the night.

Noah and Cooper never knew what happened to each other. Now, seventeen years later, after finding his boyfriend in bed with another man, Noah returns to Blackcreek looking for a fresh start. And damned if he doesn’t find his old friend grew up to be sexy as sin. Coop can’t believe Noah—the only person he trusted with the guilt over his parents’ death—is back. And gay… Or that Cooper himself suddenly wants another man in his bed for the first time.

There’s no denying the attraction and emotion between them, but can they overcome the ghosts of their pasts to have a future together?

Collide is the first M/M audiobook romance I’ve listened to, and I totally adored it! I love friends-to-lovers romances too, so Noah and Cooper’s story was pretty much the perfect listen for me. It was surprisingly sweet, with heaps of sexy to balance it out. If you’re a fan of M/M romances, I’d definitely recommend giving this one a listen!

Cooper and Noah were childhood best friends, until Noah and his family disappeared from town. Now, seventeen years later, they’re reunited, but Cooper is in for a shock when he finds out that his childhood best friend is actually… gay. It throws Cooper off, but it doesn’t stop him from offering Noah a place to stay at his house. But when Cooper sees Noah getting intimate with another man, he struggles with the jealousy that arises in him. Cooper knows he’s straight… right? So why doesn’t he like the idea of Noah with another man?

What starts off as a tentative sexual exploration for Cooper turns into so much more. For Noah though, he’s always been in love with him best friend, and he’s happy to take whatever Cooper can give. But what happens when Cooper still wants to keep his sexuality – and their relationship – in the closet? Will it be enough for Noah anymore?

Collide was a great mix of angsty, sexy, sweet, and heartwarming. I loved Noah and totally felt for him. Cooper was frustrating at times but he won me out by the end. The story is told in alternating third person, and Luke Itzvic was the perfect narrator for Noah and Cooper. I was hoping he would be able to distinguish between the two male characters’ voices, and he did just that, so I have no complaints. I’m so excited to listen to the rest of the Blackcreek audiobooks!

COLLIDE is now available on Audible: http://amzn.to/2eeHkeO

4 hearts
lacey


Reading Order: Blackcreek series

   

#1 ~ Collide: EbookPaperback • Audible • Goodreads
#2 ~ Stay: EbookPaperback • Audible • Goodreads
#3 ~ Pretend: EbookPaperbackAudible • Goodreads
#3.5 ~ Return to Blackwater Creek: EbookPaperbackAudible • Goodreads

Here’s an audio excerpt from Collide!


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Early Review: His Royal Secret by Lilah Pace

His Royal Secret by Lilah Pace
Series: His Royal Secret #1 (full reading order below)
Publication Date: July 19th 2016
Links: EbookGoodreads
Source: I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

The first in an enchanting new male/male romantic duology from Lilah Pace, author of Asking for More and Begging for It ….

James, the handsome, cosmopolitan Prince of Wales, is used to being in the public eye. But he’s keeping a king-sized secret…James, next in line for the throne, is gay.

He’s been able to hide his sexual orientation with the help of his best friend and beard, Lady Cassandra. Sometimes he feels like a coward for not coming out, but he daren’t risk losing the crown. If he did, the succession would fall on his deeply troubled younger sister, Princess Amelia. To protect her, James is willing to live a lie.

While on holiday, he meets Benjamin Dahan—a rugged international reporter with a globe-trotting, unattached life—who catches far more than James’s eye. And when Ben is transferred to London, it seems fate may finally be smiling on James.

But what began as a torrid fling grows into something far more intimate and powerful. Soon James will have to decide who he is, what he wants from life and love, and what he’s willing to sacrifice for the truth…

Last year, I loved Lilah Pace’s debut novel and fell in love with her writing, so when I heard she’d be writing a new series, and an M/M one at that, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. Everything about His Royal Secret sounded amazing – a secretly gay Prince of Wales, a reporter he falls for, a clandestine relationship – so much goodness right there! I ended up not quite loving His Royal Secret, but enjoying it nonetheless. It’s a good start to James and Ben’s story, and I’m excited for their finale. If you’re in the mood for a sexy M/M romance with a unique twist to it, I’d say you should definitely give this book a try. Just know, it’s a duology, and the sequel releases in a month!

James is the heir to the British throne, but the thing is, he’s also gay. As modern as the world is, the monarchy is still pretty conservative, and there are a ton of other legitimate reasons why James hasn’t come out. He also keeps low in relationships, obviously, but one road trip to Africa changes things when he meets Benjamin Dahan, a reporter – with morals – James instantly forms an attraction to.

I’m taking this. One stolen hour in my entire bloody life–it’s mine, he’s mine, and no one else ever has to know.

Since neither of them believe they’ll ever see each other again, they fall into temptation and a night of passion… but when Ben is reassigned to England, they reunite and begin a secret, sex-only affair. How long will they be able to keep up their relationship before they get caught? And can they keep their feelings out of the equation?

I really enjoyed James and Ben’s characters. They’re so sweet and adorable together, especially when they both try to believe that they’re not falling for each other. Their romance moved a bit slow, despite the short length of the book, and I honestly would’ve rather read their full story in one longer book. I wasn’t the biggest fan of the third person POV, so that spark in Lilah Pace’s writing that I loved in her debut was missing for me. The main characters were mainly the highlight of this book for me, and I’m hoping we get to focus on their relationship much more in the next book.

“If the world finds out we’re together, my life is ruined. But my life is ruined if I lose you. So I’m pretty well fucked either way.”

I’m not dying to read the sequel, but I am looking forward to it and what will happen after the consequences of the ending in His Royal Secret. Ben and James are such great characters – they’re interesting, unique, and they’ve got insane chemistry together. Hopefully, they’ll be just as wonderful in His Royal Favorite!

3 hearts
lacey

Quotes are taken from the arc and are subject to change in the final version.


Reading Order: His Royal Secret series

 

#1 ~ His Royal Secret: EbookGoodreads (July 19, 2016)
#2 ~ His Royal Favorite: EbookGoodreads (Aug. 16, 2016)


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