MyFictionNook

Sandra @ My Fiction Nook

I like romance and boys loving boys in my books. 

You can also find me on my main blog

 

 




1416 Devotees
117 Devoted To
3401 BOOKS


Currently reading

Secrets and Charms
Lou Harper
Progress: 100%
The Luckiest (Lucky Moon Book 2)
M.J. O'Shea, M.J. O'Shea
Progress: 100%
My Favorite Uncle
Marshall Thornton
Progress: 100%
The River Leith
Leta Blake
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Favorite quotes


ARC Review: New Heights by Quinn Anderson

New Heights - Quinn Anderson

Insta-love done right, this is.

James is traveling home from NYC to Charleston, SC, after attending a friend's wedding. Mika, pronounced Mee-kuh, is heading the same way as part of work. Except, they don't initially know this.

The meet-cute happens when both of them need a power outlet at the airport after their respective flights are delayed. James is hogging the outlet, and Mika is irritated. Then Mika hogs the outlet and James is outraged. 

It's difficult to flesh out your characters in what amounts to a novella, but the author succeeded in weaving plenty of background info for both James and Mika into the plot. It's also admirable how well this book worked for me, considering that most of this novel takes place in an airport - there's not a potential for change of scenery, and you're somewhat limited in what you can get your characters into. 

The characters had immediate chemistry, and none of it felt forced. The attraction burns brightly from the start, despite James' prank (that was so funny) and Mika snagging the outlet when James isn't looking. They have a rough start, for sure, but ultimately, they both call a truce, give in to the attraction, and realize that there might just be something there. 

I liked this a lot. It's a quick and easy read, and it just flows and flows, and before you can blink, they're in the family bathroom doing not-so-family-friendly things. Which, as fiery as the attraction was, isn't really a surprise.

The sweet epilogue just sealed the deal on this book - that was fabulous.

Recommended for when you need a little pick-me-up for a long lunch break or some such. This was a lot of fun to read.


** I received a free copy of this book from its publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. **

Release Day ARC Review: Teaching Ben by Shae Connor

Teaching Ben (Dreamspun Desires Book 52) - Shae Connor

Ben Cooper put in his time with the military, but at 24 is now looking for a fresh start, using his GI bill to attend college in Savannah, GA. And finally step out of the closet. 

David Powell is a TA in Ben's class, same age as Ben, but obviously off-limits due to his status. David also had some struggles in his past, but has tried hard to stay away from temptation and stay the course. 

The attraction is immediate, but neither can act on it, thus there is lots of UST in this book, and the romance is super slow burn. David and Ben become friends, and as they learn more about each other, and secrets are revealed, their friendship, while platonic, becomes even stronger. 

I liked how the author gave Ben room to expand his horizons, how she let him spread his wings, away from his commandeering father, away from the rigors and structure of the Air Force, building the life he wants to live. 

David made a huge mistake once and it cost him dearly. He's making up for it, but he also knows that he cannot step a single foot out of line, no matter how attracted he is to Ben. The author did a fine job fleshing out his character and giving him a background story that felt realistic and believable in how much it still impacted his life. 

Told alternatively from Ben's and David's point-of-view, we get a well-rounded story with a believable plot that even had a bit of suspense, though the villain of the story was rather clear from the get-go and the suspense was more in how this particular piece of the plot would unfold and impact their budding relationship. 

As with all the books in this series, there is little explicit steam on page, which is fine as far as I'm concerned. I much rather read about the relationship development, and how the two MCs get to their HEA than about what they do in the bedroom. I much rather see an emotional connection develop more so that a romp in the sheets, and I got that here. Ben and David really clicked, like they were meant to find each other, with both of them having had to struggle to get to this point in their lives, which meant that they were more aware of what they found and thus more protective of it. 

I enjoyed reading this. 


** I received a free copy of this book from its publisher in exchange for an honest review. **

ARC Review: Wolf And The Holly (Rowan Harbor Circle #2) by Sam Burns

Wolf and the Holly (The Rowan Harbor Cycle Book 2) - Sam Burns

In this 2nd book in her new series, Sam Burns gives us Jesse Hunter, brother to Wade, childhood friend to Devon, reluctant would-be Alpha wolf, who came back to Rowan Harbor five years ago after dropping out of college for reasons not entirely clear and has been sort of drifting along aimlessly ever since. He's the accountant for many of the business owners in town, still lives with his parents and doesn't want to take his mother's place on the town council.

The night before his 30th birthday, which is where the book opens, we find Jesse in the bar with friends, trying out one of Cassidy's new concoctions and generally feeling a little sorry for himself. The evening is interrupted when a rogue vampire named Sol enters the bar. He's known to both Cassidy and Max and warned immediately to not feed from humans, but register with the bloodbank. 

Jesse has a bad feeling about the new vamp - he smells wrong, and Jesse's wolfy nose is still perfectly functional, no matter how much he tries to deny the wolf inside. 

As Jesse leaves the bar and walks home, he smells blood in an alley way. Thinking the rogue vamp may have struck, he investigates and find his childhood friend Isla slumped at the end of the alley, unconscious and bleeding from a head wound. 

Thus the author has set the scene for what follows, and Jesse can no longer deny his instincts - the wolf wants free to protect his family and friends. 

This is billed as a paranormal romance, and there is a romance inside as Jesse finds his mate in Sean Anderson, who recently returned to take over the flower shop in town (a unique place, you'll see). The romance however takes a backseat as the paranormal and suspense parts of the plot unfold. 

The whole story is told from Jesse's POV. Sinister forces may be at work, and Jesse must use his wits and overcome his reluctance to figure out what is going on and how to stop it and who's behind it all. I still had questions at the end, and can barely contain my excitement at the prospect of book 3.

Most of the world-building was taken care of in the first book, and these cannot be read as standalones - don't even try. A lot of the background information provided in book 1 is needed to understand the dynamics and the events in this book, and I expect that the subsequent books will be no different. The author calls this a trilogy of trilogies so these must be read in order as well. There is also no HEA for Jesse and Sean in this book, only a HFN, which made sense to me because they have only JUST found each other. I also like very much that while there is a mating pull at work, the couples aren't automatically in love - they still need to learn about each other and forge a relationship. 

This book is alternatively edge of your seat intense and giggly fun (such as when Jesse gets zapped by Sean, as I knew he would), but there are also parts that really showcased the author's talent in creating fully fleshed-out characters, who are flawed and complex and don't always have their act together. Jesse's self-doubts, his fears, and the reason he's denied his wolf for so long - there were moments when I wanted to either shake him to pull his head out of his rear end or hug him and tell him that yes, he could become what he was meant to be. 

None of these characters are perfect, not Devon whose anger can make buildings shake, nor Wade who can be a bit grumpy, nor Isla who has been running for years for reasons explained within, nor Jesse, the wolf who left to find his place in the world, only to realize that his rightful place is home in Rowan Harbor, doing what he was born to do. 

The townsfolk have interesting dynamics. Some made me laugh and some made me think - especially since not all is as it seems at first. So well done.

At the very end, the author cleverly sets up the events to come in book 3 - I cannot wait. Is it March yet?



** I received a free copy of this book as part of a review tour, in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. **

Author Of The Month - J.K. Hogan - Week Three

Join us again today as we continue our celebrations for this fabulous author!! 

ARC Review: Blackbird In The Reeds by Sam Burns

Blackbird in the Reeds (The Rowan Harbor Cycle Book 1) - Sam Burns

This, ladies and gents, this is how you write the first book in a new series. The world-building and character development in this book are absolutely fabulous. There is absolutely no info dump. Each piece of new information is revealed via the plot progression, and while I still had no idea what was actually going on at about 30% in, I couldn't wait to find out.

Devon Murphy, from whose 3rd person POV the story is told, rushes home to Rowan Harbor, Oregon, at the request of his grandmother. Who never asks for anything. Some years ago, Devon fled his hometown because everyone knew everyone, and everyone had their nose in everyone else's business. But now Gran needs him, and Devon rushes home. He's in such a rush that he gets into a car accident not far from town and comes face to face with a massive wolf. 

I'm not going to give away the plot - you should read this book yourself to find out what happens within. I will however tell you that this series is planned for 9 books, and I cannot wait to devour each one. This author mixes a suspenseful whodunit with a paranormal romance, and it all fit exceptionally well together. I was on the edge of my seat more often than not, and grinned and giggled when Devon gets zapped by Wade Hunter, and then comes to terms with what that means. 

Supernatural politics? A town council? The Knit Nights? Devon being treated like the town's long lost son, without having any idea why? Each step forward in unraveling the mystery surrounding this small coastal town only poses more questions, with some hinting at things to come in future books.

The romance itself was more subdued and doesn't really come to fruition until the latter part of the book, which made sense to me, considering the many things Devon has to explore and figure out. While there was some mating compulsion at play here, there was no insta-love, and while the book doesn't end on a cliffhanger, there's no HEA - obviously. I did believe though that Devon and Wade will get their happy ending, once the series runs its course, and I had no doubt whatsoever that they are truly in love, but still need to learn so much about each other. 

This author is quickly becoming one of my favorites. The first series, Wilde Love, was obviously very different from this one, but Sam Burns is an author to watch and I will gladly read anything they decide to publish. 

Fabulous, just fabulous. Go get yourself a copy, stat!

 

 

** I received a free copy of this book from its author. A positive review was not promised in return. **

ARC Review: Cinderella In The Sheets by Reece Pine

Cinderella in the Sheets - Reece Pine

This was superficially cute and engaging, and I had a good time reading it. For those readers looking to spend a few hours with a comfortable read, this book would be a good choice.

For me personally, this didn't reach the depths I usually expect from a romance novel. The idea behind the book is that Presley, step-son to the Republican President of the United States, whom he regards as evil (though no reason is really given, other than the guy being Republican and thus presumably homophobic, which explains why Presley is in the closet), therefore Presley has only anonymous sex with escorts who are provided by Rico, a member of his security team. As part of the anonymity, Presley wears a blind-fold before, during, and after sexy times so his hook-up du jour can't recognize him. Which means that while he's in a hotel room alone with the escort, HE CANNOT SEE. 

Stupid and dangerous? You bet. 

Presley is tired of traveling all over the country trying to win over other Republicans to his way of thinking, no matter how stealthily (since he has evil step-daddy in the White House), and when he finds out that his latest escort wasn't an escort after all (thanks, Rico), he moves heaven and earth, and his entire security team, to find the guy. Because this was more than a fuck and run, and Presley might have fallen harder than he thought possible.

The title of the book is misleading. Neither Presley nor the escort are Cinderfellas by any means, and any real similarity to the real Cinderella story is rather far-fetched. While Cinderfella leaves his glasses in Presley's room, in a nod to the glass slipper, that's about the only thing that felt somewhat familiar.

I think this would have worked better for me if the presumed Cinderfella was actually poor and/or in distress, or the one with the evil step-mother or step-father, but that wasn't the case here. Unfortunately, due to the plot, the MCs spend most of the book apart, and I had a difficult time believing that Presley had truly fallen in love to the point of not leaving any stone unmoved to find his man. 

The search for Cinderfella was the best part of the book, and the snarky banter between Rico and the head of Presley's security detail was fun. Like I said, I had a good time reading this book. I would have liked a bit more character development, and I would have liked to know a bit more about Louis the Cinderfella, other than how sweet and considerate he was. The HEA was cute, though I would have liked for Presley to grow a bit more of a backbone than he did. 

This was a fun albeit not very deep read. 

** I received a free copy of this book from its author. A positive review was not promised in return. **

ARC Review: Autumn Fire by Cameron D. James

Autumn Fire - Cameron D. James

Dustin, our narrator, doesn't believe in love. Definitely not lasting gay love. He's young, full of cum, and enjoys anonymous hook-ups since they allow him to remain in the closet. Of course, fate has other ideas, and Dustin's latest blow-and-go, in the university library men's room of all places, leaves him questioning whether his current choices are the right ones. He cannot get this particular hook-up out of his mind, and when he meets him again in the form of his algebra tutor, Dustin is pulled in further.

He tries and tries to get Kyle out of his system by having more meaningless sex with others, which only confirms the feeling of missing something in his life. Namely Kyle. Who is not gay, no, sirree, nope.

There's also Jason, his straight roommate, and Jason's girlfriend (she's actually really sweet). Jason calls Dustin "buddy" all. The. Damn. Time. That quickly grated on my nerves. Props to Jason though for being supportive after Dustin comes out to him and generally trying to be a good friend. 

About 1/2 of the book is taken up by explicit sex scenes, most of which are Dustin with other people. Not exactly what I'm looking for in a romance, but I dealt, since this is billed as erotica more so than a general M/M romance. It surely wasn't cheating since Dustin and Kyle aren't together at the time, considering that Kyle has made it clear he's not willing to do that again, and each subsequent hook-up does drive home the change in Dustin - he now realizes how empty hook-ups are and wants to be in a relationship, and he's possibly in love with Kyle. 

The writing isn't terrible overall, but the dialogue often felt contrived and stilted. However, there were definitely moments when I thought that the author did a fine job bringing Dustin's confusion and longing across. 

The only character that felt sufficiently fleshed out for me was Dustin himself, which makes sense as he's the one telling the story, so we don't get a whole lot of real info on Kyle, other than what Kyle shares in dialogue. Some scenes felt rushed and lacking depth, and some were drawn out to the point that I started skimming. 

I guess I wanted a more meaty story than what I got here. It had so much potential - peer pressure, fear of coming out, first love, figuring out who you are and what you want, risking your heart... all those things sounded promising in the blurb, but sadly, the story didn't delve deep enough for me. I was on board with Kyle's fears and as he hems and haws his way out of the closet, but then the sudden switch at the end was too rapid for me to be believable. 

YMMV. There is definitely an audience for this book, so don't let my personal hang-ups scare you off giving this a try.


** I received a free copy of this book from its publisher in exchange for an honest review. **

Author Of The Month - J.K. Hogan - Week Two

Join us again this week for more of J.K. Hogan's books, and some other awesome facts. 

ARC Review: And The Next Thing You Know... by Chase Taylor Hackett

And the next Thing You Know . . . - Chase Taylor Hackett

This was freaking AWESOME!!!!

I didn't like Jeffrey (don't call him Jeff) in the first book in this series, because he came across as a pompous ass, and I don't usually have time for the arrogant, cocky, snobby, hot-shot attorney kind of person. 

But this book was delicious fun - I had a blast watching Jeffrey get cut to size by Theo. 

Let me set the stage, okay?

Jeffrey is best friends and co-workers with Rebecca who is Theo's older sister. This is important information. Theo is currently occupying his sister's fold-out couch, because his douchey sort of boyfriend has maybe found greener pastures. 

First scene, Jeffrey, still smarting from the break-up (how dare Roger leave him for Fletcher, the reformed cheater), is supposed to meet Rebecca in a restaurant for lunch and instead finds Theo at the table. Presuming that Rebecca is trying to set him up, Jeffrey informs Theo that, sadly, he's not interested in dating right now, because *sniffles* that break-up is still hurting him, but please don't take it personally, Theo, because surely you're fabulous, really. 

Theo, having no idea what Jeffrey is going on about, immediately makes mince-meat of the self-important prick who presumes to know anything about anything. 

And thus, their hate-ship is born.

The book is chockful of snark and sarcasm, and the witty back and forth between Jeffrey and Theo had me in stitches. And yet, even through my giggles, I could see a vulnerability in both of them, something they would categorically deny if asked, but simmering just beneath the surface. For all his pompousness, Jeffrey was really hurt by Roger choosing Fletcher, and for all his bravado at 5'6" and skinny, Theo was just hiding behind a mask constructed of his cutting remarks. Jeffrey is also not as cold and calculating as he likes to portray himself, even if Theo doesn't quite see it right away. That thing with the red shoelaces though - total win. And that was only icing on the Jeffrey-is-really-a-marshmallow cake. Because, see, Jeffrey doesn't even realize it himself for a long time - the super cool and collected at all times go-getter lawyer - that's a mask too. 

Shenanigans - this book had them. Snappy dialogue, self-deprecating humor, a brilliant use of the enemies-to-lovers trope, this was everything I had hoped for and more. 

Still, it's not all snark and banter aka foreplay here. Jeffrey does a crappy thing, and he knows it's a crappy thing, and he doesn't say anything about that crappy thing, even when he should have, and then it comes back to bite him in the ass. Hard. And it's the end of the Theo and Jeffrey comedy of errors. 

Well, no, not really, of course, since this is a romance, after all. When Jeffrey realizes the crappy thing was really super crappy and had some really crappy consequences, he actually for once in his life puts someone else first, no matter the consequences to himself. And Jeffrey, spoiled, rich, arrogant little boy Jeffrey grows up and becomes a real man. 

Theo too has some growing up to do. He has to learn that being short isn't the same as being helpless, but that sometimes it's okay to lean on others and let them help you. It doesn't make you a lesser person. 

I will warn you though - this book isn't politically correct or sensitive to unkind language. The author didn't pull any punches, but also succeeded in making the characters feel more realistic this way. Because, let's face it, we all have unkind thoughts towards others on occasion, that's just human nature. 

Additionally, and this is not an issue for me but may be for other readers, there is no on-page steam. While Jeffrey and Theo get it on eventually, those scenes are completely fade-to-black and mentioned only in transition to the next scene. There is plenty of chemistry though, and I had no difficulty believing that their bedroom exploits were as explosive as their hate-ship in the beginning. 

The old adage is true after all - there is but a thin line between love and hate, and the opposite of love is not hate, but indifference. Neither MC, despite their protestations, was indifferent to the other, and they went easily from hate to love, without meaning to, without realizing it at first, and without having planned for it. And in the process found in each other exactly that which they never knew they always wanted. 

Brilliant!

I LOVED this book. Highly recommended. 


** I received a free copy from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. **

Release Day ARC Review: Swann's Revenge by Shira Anthony

Swann's Revenge (Dreamspun Desires Book 51) - Shira Anthony

This book uses the Ugly Duckling to Beautiful Swan trope, with a bit of a twist.

When Jimmy Zebulon was 15, he was a bit of a band geek and a little on the short and chubby side, in love with Danny Parker, the hot and straight football player, who unknowingly broke Jimmy's heart when he stood idly by, allowing his teammates to reduce Jimmy to snot and tears with their torment and taunts.

Fifteen years have since passed and Jimmy is now J. Graham Swann, successfully attorney and co-owner of his very own law firm. The years have been good to Graham, who now sports movie-star looks and has left Jimmy, the band geek, in his past.

But of course the past comes back to haunt him - in the form of Danny, now Dan, recently widowed and moving back to North Carolina to be closer to his parents. 

Graham recognizes Dan, though not until after an almost hook-up, but Dan has for the longest time no idea that his super hot new boss is his former classmate. 

Graham is standoffish and almost rude, but then remembers to be a professional.

As the story unfolds, we see Dan and Graham become friends and then more, though Graham keeps his past identity to himself. Of course, I knew this would come back to bite him. Graham is not willing to tell Dan the truth - that he's Jimmy - and things are complicated a little bit further when Dan reveals he has a young daughter named Lacey.

And then Graham finds out that Dan, his secret high school crush, is gay and came out not long after leaving high school, met and married a man and adopted a child. 

I adored this story. I loved both characters, and I loved how well the author brought across Graham's hang-ups and his pain from the past, and Dan's confusion when Graham blows a bit hot and cold for a while. I loved how easily the story unfolded, how seamlessly each scene flowed into the next, how Graham and Dan go from employer and employee to friends and then to lovers.

And then... well, you read this for yourself. I don't think you'd regret it. The book has two great MCs, a lovely little girl that pulls them together, and an excellent supporting cast that rounded out the story. 

Seriously, read this. This was a perfect addition to the Dreamspun Desires series, and I utterly adored it.


** I received a free copy of this book from its publisher in exchange for an honest review. **

Author Of The Month - J.K. Hogan - Week One

Please join us today as we kick off our month-long celebrations for this fabulous author. 

ARC Review: Heard by A.M. Arthur

Heard: An Omegaverse Story (Breaking Free Book 3) - A.M. Arthur

This series just keeps getting better and better.

In this 3rd installment, the main couple is Jax Orris, a widowed omega who was previously mated and has a baby son from that marriage, and Karter Jenks, a young constable who had a supporting role in the previous books.

Karter has recently undergone a change of mind after witnessing Kell Iverson's trial (from book 2) and has opened his eyes to how badly many omegas are treated by alphaholes. He's slowly becoming woke and has started to rebel against his own father's conservative views. He's still relatively young, and fairly new to being a constable, so he's not looking for his mate but fate has other plans.

Jax and his baby managed to escape from an illegal fight ring where he's been held captive since shortly after his husband died. Forced to bulk up with daily protein shakes and workouts, Jax has the appearance and stature of an alpha. Homeless and penniless, he's forced to break in to homes and steal supplies for his baby and himself. And a botched surgery has also left him mute.

Karter is investigating a recent break-in and is shocked to find the young omega is his bondmate. Jax cannot believe he isn't being hauled to jail immediately upon his capture and has no intention of trusting the constable, but also cannot deny the pull he feels toward the man fate intended for him.

This book cannot be read as a standalone. While it focuses on the relationship development for the main couple as part of the plot, there is too much backstory from the previous books to make it readable on its own. Some specific plot points from the previous books are also further developed and explored in this one, and I expect that to continue into future books. The characters from the previous books all make an appearance, and it's important to know their stories to fully understand and appreciate this one.

I cried a lot. A lot, a lot. When Jax's story comes out, as he tells Karter about his time in captivity, the consequences of losing a fight, the cruel and inhumane treatment he received because of his omega status, his fears for his baby, his willpower to survive, his inner strength - I alternately cried in anger and in joy. 

The author writes with so much emotion, and the world she's built is colorful and vivid and horrifying and believable. There are parallels to be drawn to our own society. There are people fighting for equality and there are people pushing these fighters back down, to keep the status quo, to keep the oppressed under their thumbs. It's an interesting comparison to our current political climate where some folks aren't viewed as human beings by those in power, because of the color of their skin, their gender, or their sexual orientation, their country of origin or ancestry. The author created a world in which alphas hold all the power and most of the well-paying jobs, while omegas aren't even guaranteed a driver's license but expected to be the little house-husband, taking care of the kids and their alphahole's every need, including spreading their legs whenever their alpha so desires, and their own wishes and dreams don't matter none to anyone. 

These aren't easy books to read. The author doesn't shy away from being explicit in the descriptions of the violence perpetrated by alphas against helpless omegas, but she also shows that it can be different, and that a bond-mated couple can be truly in love and deeply care about each other, and that an alpha who loves his mate is capable of treating his mate with respect and dignity. 

The horror is mellowed to some degree by the love that exists between Jax and Karter, Kell and Ronin, and Braun and Tarik. That loves gives hope to others, shows them that they don't have to accept the status quo, and that the fight to make a better world for all is in everyone's best interest and totally worth it. I loved how Jax learned to communicate in sign language, and how Karter tried and tried and tried to win his trust. I loved how Karter grew into his own person in this book, how he moved past his father's views and stood up for himself and his mate and became a better person for it. I loved how supportive Kell and Braun were with Jax, how Tarik and Ronin helped where they could, and how Serge and Dex continued to be awesome friends to them all. The characters are all fully fleshed out and carefully crafted, with realistic and reasonable personalities that all felt authentic and believable. 

This was an edge-of-your-seat read from start to finish. Have tissues ready. Wine and chocolate is also useful.

Highly recommended that you read this series. The next book is going to come out soon. 


** I received a free copy of this book from its author. A positive review was not promised in return. **
 

Author Of The Month - N.R. Walker - Grand Finale

Join us again for our grand finale celebrations! 

Book Review: The Rules by Jamie Fessenden

The Rules - Jamie Fessenden

I normally avoid reading M/M/M stories, because I'm usually worried that jealousy will seep in and tear things apart, but the blurb of this book made me perk up and put it on my wishlist, for a kind soul to gift to me. Totally worth the initial anxiety. This was wonderful. I read it in one go. Put this on your list, if you haven't yet.

The author does a fantastic job exploring the intricacies and potential pitfalls of a poly relationship in this book, with fully fleshed out characters in Boris and Thomas (a married couple), and Hans (their housekeeper-cum-third), and doesn't shrink away from including realistic conflict, vulnerabilities, and hurt feelings. Theirs is not an easy journey, but it's one I was happy to follow along.

So well done.

Author Of The Month - N.R. Walker - Week Three

Join us again today as we continue our celebrations for this fabulous author. 

Release Day Review: The Hockey Player's Heart by Jeff Adams and Will Knauss

The Hockey Player's Heart (Dreamspun Desires Book 50) - Jeff Adams, Will Knauss

I liked this story about an out hockey player who in his teens nursed a crush on his older sister's best friend who was also his geometry tutor. Who's now a teacher at the same school where his sister is the principal. 

After an injury, hockey player Caleb Carter returns to his home town of Foster Grove to recuperate and hang out with his sister before going back to NYC to play for the Rangers. He doesn't realize that his one-time teenage crush Aaron Price now works as a teacher for his sister, but is shook when he finds out. That teenage crush he thought he was over - yeah, not so much. So Caleb pursues Aaron - inviting the slightly older man on a date and makes his interest clearly known. 

Aaron is a bit gun-shy to date another athlete after one broke his heart back in California, but Caleb is persistent, and every argument Aaron brings up that a relationship between them wouldn't work, Caleb counters. And obviously, there's a spark for Aaron too. 

The plot doesn't have any big misunderstandings nor any obvious miscommunications, and both men are open and honest about their interest, even if Aaron isn't convinced this thing between them will be anything more than a short-lived romance. 

We get a glimpse into Aaron's life as a teacher, and Caleb's life with his hockey team (gotta love Dimitri, what a great friend), and also the school's hockey team. The kids were an added bonus, and I enjoyed watching Caleb and Aaron interact.

The drama in this story comes primarily from Aaron, shy, cautious Aaron, who doesn't think he fits in with Caleb's life as a star hockey player, so he finds excuse after stupid excuse to not fully give the relationship a real chance. 

I liked Caleb a lot. He was so honest and straight-forward, and so open about how he felt and what he wanted, but also not pushy - he gave Aaron time to come around to his way of thinking. And really, three hours drive isn't a deal-breaker for most people, especially since there's an off-season to consider. Aaron is just gun-shy, which I could understand, but I also didn't think it was fair of him to think that all athletes are alike. Aaron had some self-esteem issues too - again, understandable, after being treated like so badly by the California jerk. 

There is definitely chemistry between the two men, and we are treated to some steamy yet emotional scenes between them. This being a Dreamspun Desires title, I expected a grand gesture toward the end - and yeah, I got that. Lovely scene, that.

The entire story and relationship development takes place in just a few weeks' time, which might be too fast for some, but in this case, I believed the timeline from meet-cute to HEA, because the two men knew each other from high school, and both had a bit of a crush on each other - it was easy to see how that spark might be kindled to burst into flame. 

This was my first read by this author team, even though I own the Hat Trick series by Jeff Adams in paperback, which obviously I need to read. Apparently, there will be another book which will be about Dimitri, Caleb's friend and teammate. And judging by how Dimitri feels about romance and long-term relationships in general, I cannot wait to read that one!

Give this a try. While there's a lot of hockey in the book, the romance and relationship take center stage.


** I received a free copy of this book from its publisher. A positive review was not promised in return. **