ARC Review: Down by Contact (The Barons #2) by Santino Hassell

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Author: Santino Hassell
Publication Date: January 16, 2018
Format: ARC
Page Length: 230 pages
My Rating: 5 / 5 stars

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SYNOPSIS

Simeon Boudreaux, the New York Barons’ golden-armed quarterback, is blessed with irresistible New Orleans charm and a face to melt your mama’s heart. He’s universally adored by fans and the media. Coming out as gay in solidarity with his teammate hasn’t harmed his reputation in the least—except for some social media taunting from rival linebacker Adrián Bravo.

Though they were once teammates, Adrián views Simeon as a traitor and the number-one name on the New Jersey Predators’ shit list. When animosity between the two NFL players reaches a boiling point on the field, culminating in a dirty fist fight, they’re both benched for six games and sentenced to joint community service teaching sullen, Brooklyn teens how to play ball.

At first, they can barely stand to be in the same room, but running the camp forces them to shape up. With no choice but to work together, Simeon realizes Adrián is more than his alpha-jerk persona, and Adrián begins to question why he’s always had such strong feelings for the gorgeous QB…

Down by Contact is book number two in The Barons series and I absolutely LOVED this. This is so much fun and is a fantastic snippy enemies-to-lovers story. Simeon and Adrián do not get along. At all. They’ve taken to press interviews and social media to attack each other and both of their PR managers have had it.

Simeon and Adrián are forced to work together with children as part of their six game suspension, and reading all of their scenes together is a delight. The background between their disdain for one another is that Simeon used to be on Adrián’s team, the Predators. Well, he wasn’t really being utilized on the team and the brutal culture at the Predators was toxic. Simeon’s only closest friend, or the closest thing to a friend, was Adrián. When Simeon leapt at the chance to sign and play for the Barons? Well, that only sparked the beginning of a long, drawn-out rivalry.

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ARC Review: Darkling (Port Lewis Witches #1) by Brooklyn Ray

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Author: Brooklyn Ray
Publication Date: January 8, 2018
Format: ARC
Page Length: 126 pages
My Rating: 5 / 5 stars

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SYNOPSIS

Port Lewis, a coastal town perched on the Washington cliffs, is surrounded by dense woods, and is home to quaint coffee shops, a movie theater, a few bars, two churches, the local college, and witches, of course.

Ryder is a witch with two secrets—one about his blood and the other about his heart. Keeping the secrets hasn’t been a problem, until a tarot reading with his best friend, Liam Montgomery, who happens to be one of his secrets, starts a chain of events that can’t be undone.

Dark magic runs through Ryder’s veins. The cards have prophesized a magical catastrophe that could shake the foundation of Ryder’s life, and a vicious partnership with the one person he doesn’t want to risk.

Magic and secrets both come at a cost, and Ryder must figure out what he’s willing to pay to become who he truly is.

This is such a rich story filled with magic and wonderful characters. I didn’t really know what to expect coming into this book, but I had already heart wonderful things about this story. Darkling jumps right into the story and we meet Ryder and Liam. Ryder and Liam are in the same circle of witches and are very good friends. Ryder is attracted to Liam, in his own quiet way. He’s never told Liam how he feels and doesn’t know if Liam would feel the same way about him.

Ryder’s power is that he is a fire witch. But what sets him apart from the other witches is that he has a secret running through his blood. He’s also half necromancer.

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ARC Review: Relay (Changing Lanes #1) by Layla Reyne

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Author: Layla Reyne
Publication Date: January 8, 2018
Format: ARC
Page Length: 272 pages
My Rating: 5 / 5 stars

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SYNOPSIS

Captain is not a title Alejandro “Alex” Cantu takes lightly. Elected by his teammates to helm the US Men’s Swim Team, he proudly accepts the role, despite juggling endless training, team administrative work, and helping out on the family farm. And despite his ex-lover, Dane Ellis—swimming’s biggest star—also making the Olympic Team.

Dane has been a pawn in his celebrity parents’ empire from crib to pool, flashing his camera-ready smile on demand and staying deeply in the closet. Only once did he drop the act—the summer he fell in love with Alex. Ten years later, Dane longs to cut his parents’ strings, drop his too-bright smile, and beg Alex for another chance.

Alex, though, isn’t ready to forgive and forget, and Dane is a distraction he doesn’t need on his team, until an injury forces Alex to accept Dane as his medley relay anchor. Working together, their passion reignites. When Dane’s parents threaten reprisal and Alex is accused of doping, the two must risk everything to prove Alex’s innocence, to love one another, and to win back their spots on the team, together.

One of my favorite Olympic sports to watch is swimming. Like, I am there watching prelims, semis, and all that for every swim at the Olympics. If I can find a way to watch trials, Worlds, and all that I am watching it. That said. I was super excited to find out Layla Reyne was writing a duology on competitive swimming. I loved the Agents Irish and Whiskey series, so I had a lot of expectations going into this book.

Relay is a story that takes place leading up to the Olympics. We have two love interests, Alex and Dane. Alex has been voted on to be the team captain, and he’s been to the Olympics before. He’s good at what he does. He puts his team first and has never been one for the spotlight and the cameras. His ex-lover, Dane, however is a different story. Dane is the star, the golden boy in front of the cameras. He has the PR and sponsorship routine on lock. Alex is out, Dane is not. Dane is used to his parents parading him around in front of the press, but sometimes he wishes for the life Alex has – to be carefree enough to do what he wants.

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Release Day Blitz + Giveaway: Relay (Changing Lanes #1) by Layla Reyne

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Author: Layla Reyne
Publication Date: January 8, 2018
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Length (Print & E-book): ~63,000 words
Subgenre: M/M Contemporary Sports Romance

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Goodreads | iBooksKobo | Publisher

SYNOPSIS

Captain is not a title Alejandro “Alex” Cantu takes lightly. Elected by his teammates to helm the US Men’s Swim Team, he proudly accepts the role, despite juggling endless training, team administrative work, and helping out on the family farm. And despite his ex-lover, Dane Ellis—swimming’s biggest star—also making the Olympic Team.

Dane has been a pawn in his celebrity parents’ empire from crib to pool, flashing his camera-ready smile on demand and staying deeply in the closet. Only once did he drop the act—the summer he fell in love with Alex. Ten years later, Dane longs to cut his parents’ strings, drop his too-bright smile, and beg Alex for another chance.

Alex, though, isn’t ready to forgive and forget, and Dane is a distraction he doesn’t need on his team, until an injury forces Alex to accept Dane as his medley relay anchor. Working together, their passion reignites. When Dane’s parents threaten reprisal and Alex is accused of doping, the two must risk everything to prove Alex’s innocence, to love one another, and to win back their spots on the team, together.

“Layla Reyne is one of the most exciting new voices in queer romance, and her newest book does not disappoint. RELAY is everything you’d want in an enemies-to-lovers tale and a sports romance. While reading, I had the same heart racing excitement as I do when watching the Olympics and could not put it down.” -RITA nominated author Santino Hassell

TEASER EXCERPT

The memories he’d brushed aside earlier came roaring back.

Music had coursed through Alex’s then-rangy body, his long legs, narrow hips, and firm ass moving perfectly in time with whatever tune they’d played or whatever song Dane had hummed in his ear. Smooth and seductive, dancing as natural as swimming for Alex.

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Review: Peter Darling by Austin Chant

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Author: Austin Chant
Publication Date: February 9, 2017
Format: Paperback
Page Length: 204 pages
My Rating: 5 / 5 stars

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SYNOPSIS

Ten years ago, Peter Pan left Neverland to grow up, leaving behind his adolescent dreams of boyhood and resigning himself to life as Wendy Darling. Growing up, however, has only made him realize how inescapable his identity as a man is. But when he returns to Neverland, everything has changed: the Lost Boys have become men, and the war games they once played are now real and deadly. Even more shocking is the attraction Peter never knew he could feel for his old rival, Captain Hook-and the realization that he no longer knows which of them is the real villain.

I did not realize what a tearjerker this book was going to be. This is a most wonderful book, don’t get me wrong. But violent. And I may also have a childhood attachment to a character that has an unfortunate end. I realize what happens in the original works of Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie, but I liked living in denial where certain events in An Afterthought do not happen. What can I say?

Peter Darling is wonderfully enchanting and marvelously devastating. I really do love Peter Pan retellings, and this might be one of my favorites and will possibly have ruined all other Peter Pan retellings for me. Peter is trans. He once left Neverland to live with his family as Wendy Darling. But he cannot run from who he is and returns once again to Neverland, older and no longer quite the little boy Captain Hook and the Lost Boys once knew.

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Review: In Other Lands by Sarah Rees Brennan

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Author: Sarah Rees Brennan
Publication Date: August 15, 2017
Format: Hardcover
Page Length: 432 pages
My Rating: 5 / 5 stars

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SYNOPSIS

The Borderlands aren’t like anywhere else. Don’t try to smuggle a phone or any other piece of technology over the wall that marks the Border—unless you enjoy a fireworks display in your backpack. (Ballpoint pens are okay.) There are elves, harpies, and—best of all as far as Elliot is concerned—mermaids.

Elliot? Who’s Elliot? Elliot is thirteen years old. He’s smart and just a tiny bit obnoxious. Sometimes more than a tiny bit. When his class goes on a field trip and he can see a wall that no one else can see, he is given the chance to go to school in the Borderlands.

It turns out that on the other side of the wall, classes involve a lot more weaponry and fitness training and fewer mermaids than he expected. On the other hand, there’s Serene-Heart-in-the-Chaos-of-Battle, an elven warrior who is more beautiful than anyone Elliot has ever seen, and then there’s her human friend Luke: sunny, blond, and annoyingly likeable. There are lots of interesting books. There’s even the chance Elliot might be able to change the world.

I had seen this book around, but never thought to read this book until I was recommended this book by a friend. I’ve been burned on mermaid books, so I wasn’t keen on reading a book on mermaids…I obviously didn’t read the blurb either. But when I was told that this book actually didn’t have much to do with mermaids, the main character is full of snark, and is bisexual? Well, I was on board!

This book is full of adventure and heart and the reason I have had the worst book hangover in a while. This a fantasy standalone, but manages to cover so much. I haven’t been able to pick up and finish another book after reading In Other Lands because this book is just everything. It’s hilarious and fun, but also knows when to tug at your heartstrings. It’s a story of friends, of growing up, and finding love where you least expect it.

And boy, when I say this is a slow burn romance, it is quite possibly the slowest burn I have ever read.

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My Most Anticipated 2018 Books

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Most anticipated book of 2018? More like, what are my auto-buy books and what do I need to budget for? WELL. There are many, many books to look forward to in 2018 in both YA and romance. There are books I am already highly anticipating, and then there are some books that rank on the “IF ANYONE SPOILS ME BEFORE I READ IT, I WILL HUNT YOU DOWN” territory. Okay. This last one applies mostly to Immortal Reign, A Reaper at the Gates, ToG #7, A Wish Upon the Stars, and Ravensong. Are we clear? Good. ❤

The following books listed are only those that have been publicly announced to be released in 2018, or I hunted the upcoming releases down on author FB groups and websites. I’ve linked the titles to their respective Goodreads pages, if they have them.

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