Book Review: Never Too Famous By Thom Collins

Harry Alexander and Grant Hunter have both made their names on reality shows, but while Grant is happy to milk his fame for all it’s worth, Harry is tiring of being famous for nothing more than having been on TV. When they bump into each other at a nightclub where Harry’s making a personal appearance, it’s obvious there’s a connection between them, but Harry really doesn’t like Grant’s co-stars on the show Sexy Northerners, and unfortunately where Grant goes the rest of his crew are never too far behind. Can the two men ever get together for long enough to act on their desires for each other, or are they destined to be celebrity ships that pass in the night?

Never Too Famous is a fun, hot novella that taps into our current obsession for reality TV and the outrageous micro-celebs these shows create. Harry is an ‘old school’ star, in that he became famous for actually doing a job – in this case, an engineer on a cruise ship – while Grant is from a show that, like Geordie Shore, Made In Chelsea and their ilk, simply features a cast of pretty young things fighting, shagging, and agonising about every last detail of their hook-ups. It wouldn’t surprise me to learn that Thom Collins has spent some time working in TV, because he really captures the vibe of the low-rent TV chat shows where characters like Grant and Harry would wring out the last drops of their fame, and he has plenty to say about the people who are willing to distort their looks with cosmetic surgery, release sex tapes, and generally do whatever desperate things it takes to stay in the public eye.

Harry and Grant are nicely contrasted as characters, with the older Harry initially appearing the more grounded one in relation to the brash, cocky Grant, but as the story progresses and Grant finds himself trying to help a friend who is getting sucked deeper into the seedy side of fame, it becomes obvious they’re really not too different after all. The attraction between them is a slow burn, but when they finally get together, the sex is steamy and the affection between them palpable.

My only quibble with the book is that for something produced by Pride Publishing, who have very high standards in everything from editing to cover design, there’s a noticeable number of mistakes in this copy of the text, though hopefully those have now been fixed.

If you’ve ever thought being a reality TV star might be fun, Never Too Famous might make you think again, and as this is the first book in a series – Success – all about men in the public eye, I can’t wait to see what comes

Never Too Famous is published by Pride Publishing and is available from First For Romance, Amazon US and Amazon UK. I was given a copy of the book by Lucy Felthouse at Writer Marketing Services in return for an honest review.

A Little Background: Guest Post By Londra Laine

My guest today is Londra Laine, talking about her thought-provoking new MM romance novel, Living On The Inside. Londra, it’s great to have you at the Naughty Corner.

Thanks for having me! I’m so thrilled to be featured on the blog and to share a little about my new release Living on the Inside. This is my third self-published book and it marks my one-year authorversary. Here is a little background about what inspired the book.

Adrien and Micah have both spent much of their lives feeling like outsiders and then they meet each other. Micah is formerly incarcerated and out of work. He’s living in his baby mama’s guest house, trying to reconnect with thirteen-year-old son. Adrien is a successful business owner with a traumatic secret he’s been carrying around. Neither of them are looking for a relationship, and at first glance, the two seem like an unlikely pair. Adrien is Micah’s boss, they’ve had different upbringings, and neither of them trusts themselves. But eventually the co-workers become friends, then lovers and there is plenty of tension along the way.

For this book, I didn’t want the central point of tension to be the stereotypical bigoted families or the evil female ex. I wanted to show what I’ve personally experienced and seen with a lot of my own friends and family. Exes with great relationships and friendship, families that love and support their LGBTQ family member, but may have other family tension and problems. Bigotry won’t ever go away and I certainly don’t want to downplay that in any way. But I really wanted to focus on other family dynamics where my characters’ orientation isn’t central to the conflict.

My main characters are also an interracial couple. You should know that I am black, so writing black characters comes naturally to me and I understand the black experience first hand But I will say, the black experience is a human experience. As a kid, I saw more negative portrayals of black people than positive, so it’s important to me to show that black people are just people. We are multidimensional with the same interests, worries, and dreams as everyone else.

The Bright Bean coffee shop, Adrien’s cafe in the book, is inspired by a coffee shop I began frequenting when I was about thirteen, much like Caleb. I did community theater as a teenager and needed a place to do my homework between the end of school and the start of rehearsal, so I’d study at a coffee shop near the theater and rehearsal space. Whenever I go back home, I still visit the coffee shop.

Thanks for reading this guest post and I hope that you take a chance on Micah and Adrien! To learn more about my works in progress you can follow me on Twitter at @LondraLaine or on Facebook at @LondraLaineWrites

Title: Living on the Inside

Author: Londra Laine

Publisher: Independently Published

Release Date: Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: About 55,000 words

Genre: Romance, single dad, gay romance, interracial, ex-con, domestic abuse, work romance

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Blurb:

Micah Grayson lives in his baby mama’s guesthouse. It’s unconventional and awkward, but he’s happy for a chance to reconnect with his teenage son. He doesn’t have time for other distractions—no matter how sexy, independent, and compassionate that distraction might be. Besides, he’s not good enough for more than a fling—no one would ever take him home to meet their parents.

Adrien Darling has book smarts, but no street savvy—at least that’s what his family says. And after a heart-breaking betrayal by the man meant to love and protect him, Adrien believes them. But then a gorgeous guy with a defeated look in his eyes walks into Adrien’s coffee shop and makes him want to take a chance.

After years of living on the outside as two misfits looking in, both men are afraid to reach for more. But in each other’s arms, Micah and Adrien find out what it’s like to live on the inside. As their tender bond grows and blossoms, old insecurities bubble to the surface. Will their commitment crumble under the pressure? Or will the two find the strength to fight for each other.

Please be aware that this book contains a flashback of and several references to domestic abuse that may be triggering to some readers.

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Excerpt:

“Is that what we are?” Micah asked quietly. “Friends?”

“Yeah,” Adrien answered. “I hope so.”

Then he was surrounded by Micah’s body. Adrien hesitated for a moment before returning the other man’s embrace, locking his arms around Micah’s torso. A few seconds into the hug all the reasons why he needed to pull away from Micah—now—raced through his mind. But he couldn’t make himself do it.

Adrien had been fighting his attraction, but the man had slipped past Adrien’s defenses. Micah’s earnest joy at making progress with his son. His trust in Adrien as he shared his insecurities. His nonjudgmental attitude. Their growing friendship. All those things made him feel strong and needed. Adrien wanted more of that feeling. He leaned into Micah.

Micah sighed as he squeezed Adrien tighter, and Adrien’s body sagged against him, the fight against his attraction to Micah leaving his body. He tucked his head into the crook of Micah’s shoulder, and gave in to defeat, breathing in the salty sweet scent of Micah’s skin, running his palms up the man’s back.

The scent and feel of Micah was heady, and Adrien’s head swam as he let his eyelids flutter shut, let his lips graze the exposed skin between Micah’s neck and shoulder. Micah tensed against him and his breath hitched, making Adrien wonder if he’d gone too far. But then Micah’s palm slid up Adrien’s neck, cupping his nape, grazing a thumb along his hairline.

Micah moved his other hand lower, resting it right above Adrien’s ass, his fingers lightly grazing the swell below Adrien’s hips.

“Adrien,” Micah grated out. Adrien pulled back, slowly opening his eyes. Micah licked his lips, his eyes skimming Adrien’s mouth, and then he leaned forward.

Adrien met him halfway, their lips connecting in a kiss. The light brush became a firm press then flared, hot and wet, as Adrien ran the tip of his tongue against the seam of Micah’s lips. Micah submitted to Adrien’s silent request, parting his lips to give Adrien access to his tongue and mouth.

Then a loud honk made them jerk apart as a car sped past them, headlights bright and blinding. Their chests heaved, and Adrien took in Micah’s disheveled hair and damp lips and wondered if he looked nearly as enticing to Micah.

Adrien’s gaze skittered away, and he grimaced, embarrassment replacing the intense need he’d felt moments ago. What was he doing? He knew better than this. He’d been down this road before. He couldn’t get involved with an employee again.

Then a terrible thought occurred to him. What if Micah felt like he had to hook up with Adrien? Had Adrien pressured him in some way? Shit. Negative thoughts tumbled through his mind, making him dizzy. He had to nip this in the bud.

“Micah, about what just happened—”

“Our kiss?” Micah moved closer to him.

Adrien’s eyes wandered, unable to meet Micah’s. “Yeah, the kiss. I’m sorry—I didn’t mean to—I’m sorry.” He shook his head and Micah stopped the motion by gripping Adrien’s chin between his forefinger and thumb. He lifted Adrien’s face to his.

“I’m not sorry.” Micah’s voice was quiet in the night.

Meet the Author:

Londra has loved reading since she figured out how to do it. She writes to give her guys the happy ending she wishes everyone––no matter their race, religion, gender, or orientation––could experience in real life.

Londra makes money as a communications manager. She is a former journalist, a runner and a mezzo soprano.

In 2010, she moved from her native California to New York City where she lived in Harlem for nearly eight years. In early 2018 she relocated to Seattle with her spouse.

Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | eMail | Queer Romance Ink

Tour Schedule:

2/4 Love Bytes Reviews 

2/5 Joyfully Jay 

2/6 Divine Magazine 

2/7 The (Really) Naughty Corner 

2/8 Books, Tattoos and Tea 

Prize Giveaway:

Londra is giving away a $25 Amazon voucher to one lucky reader. You can enter the Rafflecopter giveaway here.

This tour was organised by Indigo Marketing & Design

 

 

 

A Box Of Lions

Box sets are great, aren’t they? They let you binge all your favourite things in one go. or they let you catch up on something you missed the first time round without that impatient wait for the next part of the series. Well, some of the books I had the most fun writing – the Lionhearts series for Pride Publishing – are being released in two box sets, and the first is out now. The series, set in a world where lion shifters live alongside humans, not always without problems, was originally inspired by a plaque commemorating a brewery that once stood on the Brouwersgracht in Amsterdam. It expanded into six books, tracing the fortunes of interconnected lion shifter families, and the human lovers they are fated to meet, and focusing on shifter prides in the Netherlands, Spain, Italy, England and America. If you like tales of murder, obsessive stalkers, weird cults, secret treasures, paranormal investigators and lost loves, they’re all here.

Book One contains the first three books in the series – The Pride of Amsterdam, Taming The Lion and Vintage Pride, and is available from the Pride Publishing bookstore, Amazon US and Amazon UK. Part Two is coming soon. So that’s your next binge sorted…

Book Review: Professor Adorkable by Edie Danford

Pete works for an agency that finds housekeepers for gay men. When he’s hired to work for genius astrophysics professor Marek, it seems like the ideal job, living in Marek’s beautiful home and taking care of a man who’s too busy and disorganised to fend for himself. But Marek’s is cute as well as clumsy, and despite his desire to keep things strictly professional, Pete soon finds himself falling for his boss. A line is about to be crossed, and neither man is sure things will ever be the same…

Professor Adorkable is a light, engaging read that takes two characters who are perfect for each other and then spends most of the book working on ways to keep them apart. It’s one of the oldest tropes in romance, but Edie Danford handles it neatly and with plenty of humour. Both Marek and Pete have troubled pasts, having been taken advantage of in different ways (and in Pete’s case, knowingly letting it happen) and through the course of the story Marek has to learn to stand up for himself and Pete to put his fear of reliving the past aside as they work towards the happy ending certain people wish to deny them.

There’s a lot of hot sex in the book, with the running joke that Marek treats everything in life like one of his science experiments, and this extends to the bedroom too. The love scenes are by turn inventive and tender, and the author has the knack of getting deep into the most intimate thoughts and emotions of the two main characters as they explore their desires for each other. If geeky but self-aware men are your thing, Professor Adorkable should hit the spot for you.

Professor Adorkable is available from Amazon US and Amazon UK. I was given a copy of the book by Indigo Marketing and Design in return for an honest review.

 

Book Review – The California Dashwoods By Lisa Henry

The Dashwood children – Elliott, Marianne and Greta – have lived a happy and privileged life in the comfortable setting of their family home, Norland Park. That changes with the death of their father, Henry. They’re thrown out of the house and forced to relocate to the small California town of Barton Lake, where they have to cope with a vastly diminished income. If that’s not enough upheaval, Elliott’s life is further complicated by his sudden and unexpected attraction to Ned Ferrars, the younger brother of Henry Dashwood’s first wife. Try as he might to tell himself it’s just a fling, Elliott is soon in much deeper than he ever dreamed…

Modern retellings of classic novels always run the risk of being nothing more than a lazy piggybacking off a previously established plot and characters. When they’re done right, though, as in The California Dashwoods, they can breathe new life into a well-loved story. It’s roughly a thousand years since I read Jane Austen’s Sense And Sensibility, the novel on which this book is based, so I didn’t have a mental checklist of all the plot beats The California Dashwoods should hit. However, I think those who cherish the original, and who are fans of M/M romance, won’t be disappointed with the way Lisa Henry tackles the material. And it’s also very easy to come to this book knowing nothing about Sense And Sensibility and enjoy every moment of the tale it tells.

The author has obviously had a lot of fun gender-flipping various characters while retaining the basic premise of two siblings, one quiet and sensible and the other wild and impulsive, negotiating the tricky waters of love and relationships. Elliott, the responsible one, is keen to hold things together for his mother’s sake, while Marianne plunges headlong into a whirlwind romance with a man who might not be the best choice. Much of the social minefield and layers of status that informed Jane Austen’s Regency romances no longer applies in the Twenty-first century – yes, the Colonel Brandon character is older than the person they’re attracted to, but that doesn’t make them a figure of fun in the love and marriage stakes any more. Indeed, Brandon is a nuanced and sympathetic character, as is everyone here but the rich and snobby side of the Dashwood family, who need to be out-and-out villains for the story to work. But there is still plenty for Lisa Henry to explore in the subject of losing a loved one and readjusting to a new way of life, and Elliot’s vulnerability and grief is very nicely handled. He and Ned have chemistry from their first meeting, and their suitability for each other is emphasised with small moments, such as Ned being the only person to tell Elliott he’s sorry for his loss, rather than with over-the-top romantic gestures.

If you’re looking for erotic content you’ll find the book on the light side (one scene involving paint and a canvas in Henry Dashwood’s old studio aside), but that fits the tone of the story. Overall, The California Dashwoods is a funny and charming read that respects Sense And Sensibility while giving it a thoroughly modern makeover.

 The California Dashwoods will be published on May 1st and is available for preorder here. Find out more about Lisa Henry at her website.

I received a copy of The California Dashwoods from Indigo Marketing and Design in return for an honest review.

It’s Advent Calendar Time!

Yes, December has rolled around again already, and that means it’s time for Dreamspinner’s annual Advent Calendar release. This year’s collection is titled Stocking Stuffers, and you have the choice of subscribing to the whole calendar, which means a story delivered to you every day between now and Christmas, or you can buy the stories individually. The best part of getting the whole set is that you don’t know the order in which you’ll receive them, so every morning there’s a saucy surprise in your inbox. You can find out more about the calendar here.

My contribution is titled Candy Canes and Cappuccinos, and it’s the story of coffee shop owner Kyle, who’s smitten with regular customer Steven. Without meaning to, Kyle gives the impression that he doesn’t care about the work Steven does to help the less fortunate over the festive season. When he gets the chance to put that right, and ensure a happy Christmas not only for himself and Steven, but for those in the town’s homeless shelter, will he take it?

Find out more about Candy Canes and Cappuccinos by clicking on the book cover below. But first, take a moment to admire the gorgeous artwork produced by Dreamspinner cover artist extraordinaire Paul Richmond. I just love Santa’s facial expression!

Book Review – Vampire Claus by Robert Winter

A vampire without a territory, Taviano arrives in Boston on Christmas Eve. When he was turned, in 19th century Italy, he was studying for the priesthood, and he still finds himself drawn to the familiar ritual of Midnight Mass. While lurking near the church, he manages to prevent a young short order cook, Paul, from being robbed of the presents he’s taking to a shelter for homeless LGBTQ children. Taviano is drawn to Paul, but even though it’s obvious Paul wants him, too, anything that happens between them can only be a one-night thing. Unless, of course, they can experience a Christmas miracle…

Taviano is the kind of vampire romance readers will adore. While the other vampires that feature in this novella are undead monsters, not afraid to use extreme violence to get what they want, Taviano still retains a soul and a moral code. He satiates his need to feed (here personified as a ‘bloodbeast’, a literal demon living inside him) by drinking the blood of muggers, rapists and other lowlife, and he still has strong memories of his life before he was turned. Paul, meanwhile, is poor but good of heart, willing to put others before himself and with a recklessness to his personality that makes him embrace the desires of a vampire rather than run away from them. Both are loners, so naturally they’ll be drawn to each other, and when they have sex it’s hot and sensual and deliciously described.

Robert Winter tends to overdo Paul’s use of slang to emphasise the difference in age and attitude between him and Taviano (does anyone really say “amazeballs”, and if so, please can they stop?), and there’s a rather too contrived revelation about Paul’s family background late in the story, but these are minor quibbles. If you’re looking for a heart-warming slice of paranormal romance to stuff your Christmas stocking, Vampire Claus is the one for you.

Vampire Claus is available from Amazon US and Amazon UK. You can find out more about Robert Winter at his author site.

I received a copy of Vampire Claus from Indigo Marketing in return for an honest review.