Blog tour & review: Dirty Deeds by Megan Erickson

25158460 Synopsis: Alex Dawn is saying no to men. No to bad relationships, disappointments, and smooth-talkers. Focusing on her family and her job at Payton and Sons Automotive keeps her mind occupied and her heart content. She doesn’t really miss a man’s touch, until one night, one shows up with the body of a god and a voice from her dirtiest dreams.

L.M. Spencer is only in Tory, Maryland, to scope out the town as a possible site for one of his company’s hotels. The British businessman didn’t expect his car to break down or to find the hottest little American he’s ever seen holding a tire iron, piercing him with bright blue eyes.

They agree to one hot night, one dirty deed to burn out the chemistry between them. But from their first kiss, Alex can’t stop saying yes to this man. And when Spencer’s company threatens everything she cares about, they must make the choice to stand together or apart.

I’m a fan of Megan Erickson’s books, having started with her Bowler University series and then moved onto her In Focus books – both of which I highly recommend. I really enjoyed her New Adult books and the In Focus books are m/m books, both of which deal with some very real issues but also mix in romance which is clearly important. Her Mechanics of Love series is a spin off of the Bowler University series, which I always love because when I spot a side character I find interesting I absolutely love when they get a whole book to themselves. A whole series spun off is ever better.

The heroine in Dirty Deeds, Alex, is the kind of heroine I’m always going on about loving. She’s strong and independent and pretty much thinks she needs no one. Except her friends who are like her family at this point. The guys at Payton and Sons Automotive have become her family as well. I enjoyed seeing that dynamic between all of them. While Alex thinks of herself as this fiercely strong woman – and she is – she has an incredibly vulnerable side that comes from bad relationships in the past. So to see her be surrounded by familial love and watch her realize that is one of my favorite things about this book.

Then of course there’s the romance which is the main focus of the book. Spencer and Alex have some major chemistry here and the banter between them as well as the fire – both negative and positive – brings a lot to this book. Their relationship is fun to watch develop from a one night stand to more. They’re both pretty complicated people, which in my opinion always makes a better and more interested book to read. When characters aren’t complicated they read as flat to me.

This also has a dual POV and Erickson pulls it off well. I liked being able to hear both of their thoughts throughout. Without both POVs I don’t know that I would have enjoyed this as much. I’d recommend this one and the previous books in the series as well.

4 Stars

This one releases 12/8

~Melinda

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About MEGAN ERICKSON
Megan Erickson grew up in a family that averages 5’5” on a good day and started writing to create characters who could reach the top kitchen shelf.

She’s got a couple of tattoos, has a thing for gladiators and has been called a crazy cat lady. After working as a journalist for years, she decided she liked creating her own endings better and switched back to fiction.

She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, two kids and two cats. And no, she still can’t reach the stupid top shelf.

Praise for MEGAN ERICKSON
“A super sweet, extra sexy second chance romance that will have you laughing out loud and needing a minute to cool off. Dirty Thoughts is right!”
— Jay Crownover, New York Times bestselling author

“Megan Erickson ratchets up the romance and sizzle in her sexy new series. The Mechanics of Love will rev readers’ hearts.”
— Jennifer Ryan, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author

“Megan Erickson writes hot, hot, HOT stories packed with emotion and humor. You’re going to want to read everything she’s ever written!”
— Sophie Jordan, USA Today bestselling author

Where to buy DIRTY DEEDS
HarperCollins: http://www.harpercollins.com/9780062407771/dirty-deeds
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Dirty-Deeds-Mechanics-Love-Novel-ebook/dp/B00US2K4TC
Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/dirty-deeds-megan-erickson/1122599629
iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/dirty-deeds/id977352380
Google Play: https://books.google.com/books/about/Dirty_Deeds.html?id=N-1eBwAAQBAJ

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Sacked by Jen Frederick

sacked-400x592 Knox Masters is a quarterback’s worst nightmare. Warrior. Champion. And…virgin. Knox knows what he wants–and he gets it. All American Football player? Check. NFL pros scouting him? Check. Now, he’s set his sight on two things. The national title. And Ellie Campbell. Sure, she’s the sister of his fellow teammate, but that’s not going to stop him. Especially not when he’s convinced Ellie is the one.

…but he’s never met her before.

But Ellie isn’t as sure. She’s trying to start a new life and she’s not interested in a relationship…with anyone. Beside it’s not just her cardinal rule of never dating her brother’s teammates that keeps her away, but Ellie has a dark secret that would jeopardize everything Knox is pursuing.

Knox has no intention of losing. Ellie has no intention of giving in.

I’m a big fan of Jen Frederick’s The Woodlands series. It’s a New Adult series with strong friendships and men who generally don’t treat women like crap. I just got finished listening to The Charlotte Chronicles on audio – which is a spin off from The Woodlands – recently too so it’s been a month heavy on this author for me! I was really excited to hear about this book because it’s also New Adult and kind of in the same vein as Elle Kennedy and Kristen Callihan’s sports NA books, which, in my opinion, is a really awesome comparison.

Somehow all of these authors have made me a fan of books with sports in them. I never thought that was possible since I am not a fan of them at all in real life. But in these books I’m loving them. Knox Masters is somewhat perfect in this and that is both good and bad. I really enjoyed the parts where he lost his cool for one reason or another. Whether it was with the guys or because he wasn’t able to get Ellie to fall for him immediately it just made him seem more human.

One of my favorite things with all of these books and something that this author does really well is banter. Both with the guys on the team, between Know and his twin brother and also between Ellie and Knox.

“If I was a chick, I’d date you, Masters. I’ve seen your dick. It’s good,” Hammer assures me.
“Fuck that. It’s not the size of the wand. It’s the wizard using it,” Daryl Nunn, our nose tackle, pipes up. He, like Potter, wears a pair of black glasses when not on the field.
“Not according to Voldemort.”
Hammer’s retort generates a sharp bark of laughter from me, but poor Jesse looks confused. Hammer sighs. “Voldemort wanted this certain wand, but only Harry could use it.”

I really enjoyed Ellie the most of all the characters. She was strong and didn’t want anything to do with Knox, not that that lasted long. But I appreciated the sentiment. I liked that she thought him being a virgin was bull and called him on it, out loud, and often. And, of course, I loved that she loved to read. The main issue with this book was just that the football aspect was a little too heavy for me in that I didn’t know what was going on sometimes since I’m clueless with sports. It just played a little too much of a feature in the book but I don’t think that most people would have this issue.

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ARC received in return for an honest review.

4 Stars

Melinda

Level Hands by Amy Jo Cousins

25611509 Rafael Castro is so far out of his element he can’t even see it anymore. Carlisle College in Massachusetts is a long way from his Chicago home, even farther from his Dominican Republic roots.

The only thing keeping him attached to his last nerve is the prospect of seeing Denny Winslow again. The first time they met, Denny taught Rafi to fly across the water, rowing hard in a knife-like boat. Now, two years later, on the wings of a rowing scholarship, Rafi is attending Denny’s elite college.

Even before the excitement wears off, Rafi is struggling with classes and fending off rumors that Denny’s family, not Rafi’s talent, won him his spot. To quash the gossip, Rafi tries to steer clear of the man he wants. A plan that evaporates in the fire of renewed attraction.

But Carlisle’s academic pressure cooker has Rafi barely treading water. And when a family crisis hits, both Rafi and Denny must pull hard to keep their relationship from capsizing in rough waters.

I love Amy Jo Cousins’ books, just in general and this series – Bend or Break – in particular just kills it specifically. Every book of this series has included characters that have been really real, which sounds so generic to put it like that! But the characters in this series are all struggling with real life issues. It’s pretty common in the New Adult genre to either have characters dealing with issues on either end of the spectrum – real life or total angst filled unrealistic drama (not that real life is not angst filled!). So I love that Amy Jo Cousins’ characters usually are realistic as well as grounded.

Denny and Rafi, who we met in the last book, are no different. Denny, on the one hand, is a reserved kid who is used to having his parents pay for things. He’s been in love with Rafi for a few years since he met him when he ran away from home because he was afraid what his parents would say about him being gay. Denny’s been quietly waiting for Rafi for years. Rafi, on the other hand, struggles with so much when he accepts a rowing scholarship and comes to college with Denny. He’s used to having no money and dealing with issues of social class and racism but he’s not used to trying to deal with that within a potential relationship. Both of these characters seemed so genuine to me because Rafi was so freaking stubborn that at some points I wanted to smack him and say what is wrong with you!? But that is pretty accurate for a normal person I think. Denny’s patience was almost too much and I was happy to see it break so I could see he wasn’t a Saint.

I felt that the author did a wonderful job describing the overwhelming parts of coming to college. Parts of this book dealt with just not being a genius and being able to ace classes right away. It’s been a while since I was in class but she took me right back there instantly. Rafi’s struggle throughout the book with a variety of issues and his evolution just made me want to give him a hug.

This was also the first book I’ve read that had crew as the sport in it and I loved it! Oh and the cover is ridiculously hot – love the arms. I would highly recommend this series (as always) and this entry is a great one.

ARC provided in return for an honest review.

4.5 Stars

~Melinda

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The Moment of Letting Go by J.A. Redmerski + Giveaway of print copy!

Redmerski_The Moment of Letting Go_TP Sienna Murphy never does anything without a plan. And so far her plans have been working. Right after college, she got a prestigious job and gained the stability she’d always craved-until work takes her to the sun-drenched shores of Oahu and places her in the path of sexy surfer Luke Everett. For the first time, she lets her heart take control. Drawn to his carefree charm, she makes a spontaneous and very un-Sienna-like decision to drop everything and stay in Hawaii for two more weeks.

Luke lives fast and wild. When he meets Sienna, he’s convinced that some no-strings-attached fun is just what she needs. As their nights quickly turn from playful to passionate, Luke can’t deny the deep connection he feels. But there’s a reason Luke doesn’t do long-term. He can’t promise Sienna forever, when the enormity of his past has shown him just how fragile the future can be . . .

I’m a big fan of J.A. Redmerski’s 2 previous NA-type books The Edge of Never and The Edge of Always. They both really lingered with me and I’ve re-read them as well as listened to the audio of them so I was excited to hear about her new release of The Moment of Letting Go. This one is essentially a simple story, there is some drama, but for a book that I consider to be a New Adult book it is very low drama. There isn’t any back stabbing, no love triangles, no holy crap I can’t believe he went there moments but rather a straight forward story. I, for one, really love that about this book! There’s some mystery in Luke’s past which is usually a pet peeve of mine when that’s drawn out throughout the entire book but part of that mystery was pretty apparent to me from the beginning which makes that much less of an issue for me. It worked for me in this book.

I found this book to be almost inspirational, which is not something that I really look for in my books. It may depend on where you are in your life but it made me want to embrace what I love and make the most out of that. The combination of Sienna and Luke was really powerful to me and they created that inspiration. I always like strong women and it could be easy to read Sienna as a not so strong one because she has a lot of fears here – mainly of heights – but throughout the book she embraces her fears and also is strong enough to walk into the unknown. I completely love that about her. I loved Luke as a character but Sienna stole the show for me.

I would definitely recommend this NA book – it’s not set in college, there’s low drama but it’s just a great story and there’s an HEA. What more can you ask for?

ARC provided in return for an honest review.

4 Stars

There is also a giveaway for a print copy of this book just for Happiness fans! US/Canada only. Enter here just by commenting on the post.

~Melinda

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Review: Curve Ball by Sloan Johnson

Title: Curve Ball

Series: Homeruns #2

Author: Sloan Johnson

Genre: MM Sports Romance

Published: July 29, 2015

Jason Klein’s living with the fallout from a decision he knew was the right one at the time. He never told anyone about the love of his life, which left him to mourn alone when he found out the man he gave his heart to had been killed in combat. Now, his heart has had time to heal, but he’s not sure he’s ready to let himself move on. Until he meets Cam Morgan…

Without a job lined up following graduation, Cam Morgan took his best friend up on his offer to move to Milwaukee and stay with him until he could get on his feet. The last thing he wanted to do the day after getting to town was go to a party filled with a bunch of jocks. Sure, they were “professional athletes” but Cam was convinced that bigger bank accounts didn’t make them any more accepting of people like him. He certainly didn’t expect to meet Jason, the Mavericks’ catcher who broke every stereotype he’d had.

What started out as one hot, sweaty night together quickly grows into something deeper. Jason welcomes Cam into his home and his life, but now he has to teach the younger man that it’s not a sign of weakness to let people help you.

Curve Ball Excerpt © Sloan Johnson 2015

“If you have something to say to me, just say it.” I tapped my fingers on the steering wheel to keep from shaking Drew. He was one of the youngest guys on the team, and right now, his immaturity showed through brightly. It was about time someone knocked some sense into him, before he wound up earning a bad reputation, both on the field and off. “I won’t apologize, because I haven’t done a damn thing to offend you.”

“Really? I shouldn’t be pissed off that I had no clue you were gay?” Drew seethed, his brown eyes narrow slits as he glared at me. “And I should be totally cool with you loading up my friend in the middle of the night to take him back to your place, right?”

“Yeah, actually you should,” I quipped, twisting the wheel tighter. “Cam is a grown man, and if you truly care about him, you should be fucking ecstatic that he’s getting out there to meet people.”

Drew muttered something to himself as he went back to staring out the window. His shoulders slumped forward and he seemed to shrink in his seat. I knew that look. It wasn’t one worn by a concerned or pissed off friend, it was the look of a man who felt the love of his life slipping away from him.

“How long have you felt this way about him?” I asked. My chest tightened, knowing that I wouldn’t stand between them. Drew and I might not be close, but I liked to think of him as a friend, a brother on the team.

“Doesn’t matter.” The response was so quiet I could barely hear the words. As I pulled up to the stoplight, I placed my hand on Drew’s shoulder, unsurprised when he jerked away.

“It does,” I assured him. “And you have to know I wouldn’t have done anything with him if I’d known.”

“Don’t say that. I’ve known for a long time that he’d never feel for me what I do for him.” I suddenly missed the anger Drew showed earlier. “If the way he looked this morning is any indication, you’re exactly what he needs in his life. And if I put my own feelings aside, you’re more than that. You’re what he’s always wanted.”

That was not how I expected this conversation to go. It started exactly as I’d seen it in my mind, but I hadn’t expected Drew to step aside. Maybe I was wrong in thinking that he was immature and selfish.

“Drew, if you say the word, I’ll back off. I’m not willing to destroy two friendships just for a few nights of fun.”

“The only way I’d ask you to do that is if that’s all this is for you.” I pulled up in front of the grocery store, but neither of us moved to open our doors. “Cam is one of the best guys I know. He’s got a big heart, but sometimes, he’s a little too open with it. If you’re only in this for a couple of hot nights, then yeah you should walk away from him.”

I felt backed into a corner. Sure, I’d thought about what it’d be like to explore something more with Cam, but I wasn’t in a place to do that. It had nothing to do with being on the road most of the year and everything to do with my own inability to be open with those around me. I’d grown accustomed to never letting anyone get too close, and Cam had already seen more than people I’d known for years. There was no way I’d be able to hold back if last night and tonight turned into something more.

“I’ll keep that in mind.” It was the most I could promise him. 

Sloan Johnson is a big city girl trapped in a country girl’s life. While she longs for the hustle and bustle of New York City or Las Vegas, she hasn’t yet figured out how to sit on the deck with her morning coffee, watching the deer and wild turkeys in the fields while surrounded by concrete and glass.

When she was three, her parents received their first call from the principal asking them to pick her up from school. Apparently, if you aren’t enrolled, you can’t attend classes, even in Kindergarten. The next week, she was in preschool and started plotting her first story soon after.

Later in life, her parents needed to do something to help their socially awkward, uncoordinated child come out of her shell and figured there was no better place than a bar on Wednesday nights. It’s a good thing they did because this is where she found her love of reading and writing. Who needs socialization when you can sit alone in your bedroom with a good book?

Now, Sloan is a tattooed mom with a mohawk and two kids. She’s been kicked out of the PTA in two school districts and is no longer asked to help with fundraisers because she’s been known to lose herself with a good book and forget she has somewhere to be.

Review: This is the follow up to Wild Pitch, which I read earlier this year and also enjoyed. We do get to see the characters from the previous book make appearances here but nothing too heavy so it’s definitely possible to read this book as a stand alone. As always with me though, I think that reading the first book enhances the enjoyment of the second book.

I liked Cam the best in this book. He caused some drama here and there but he was definitely my favorite. He was very determined to make it on his own and also had a great sense of humor I loved. Cam and Jason are both kind of lost but Cam tugged at my heartstrings whereas I wanted to knock Jason upside his head to get some sense in there. There needed to be some sense sprinkled around to quite a few of the characters in the book actually, but it didn’t drive me completely crazy to see.

The banter in this book was probably my favorite thing. Cam and Mason in particular had an ongoing back and forth throughout the book that I really enjoyed. I love that in my books and it served to lighten up some of the angst that was in the rest of the book. I didn’t hate the angst but didn’t love those parts either, I need to be in the right mood for those kinds of books.

Overall this is a great m/m sports romance that I really enjoyed.

ARC provided in return for an honest review.

4 Stars

~Melinda

Review: Him by Sarina Bowen & Elle Kennedy

25686927 Summary: They don’t play for the same team. Or do they?

Jamie Canning has never been able to figure out how he lost his closest friend. Four years ago, his tattooed, wise-cracking, rule-breaking roommate cut him off without an explanation. So what if things got a little weird on the last night of hockey camp the summer they were eighteen? It was just a little drunken foolishness. Nobody died.

Ryan Wesley’s biggest regret is coaxing his very straight friend into a bet that pushed the boundaries of their relationship. Now, with their college teams set to face off at the national championship, he’ll finally get a chance to apologize. But all it takes is one look at his longtime crush, and the ache is stronger than ever.

Jamie has waited a long time for answers, but walks away with only more questions—can one night of sex ruin a friendship? If not, how about six more weeks of it? When Wesley turns up to coach alongside Jamie for one more hot summer at camp, Jamie has a few things to discover about his old friend…and a big one to learn about himself.

Review: When I found out that two of my more recent favorite authors were going to be co-authoring a book together I may have squee-ed out loud. A lot. Sarina Bowen writes The Ivy Years series which I love and Elle Kennedy writes the Off Campus series which I also love and many other books as well. Then I realized it was going to be m/m – which is one of my newest genres that I’ve been reading more and more. So to say I was excited was an understatement and I’m so happy that I wasn’t disappointed at all!

I don’t really get how co-authoring works because it sounds hard to me but these two pulled it off really well. I didn’t get overwhelmed by either of their voices at all – not that that would have been a bad thing since I like both of their writing styles, but instead I found that this read as one cohesive voice. I found that there was a fluidity to the book so much so that I would never have suspected there were two authors if I hadn’t known. Recently the authors shared that they didn’t even switch POV’s or write one particular person which blows my mind. Even funnier to me is that they can’t particularly point out which parts of the book which one of them wrote – and I can definitely tell!

I can’t pick out which hero I loved more – Wes or Jamie. Wes knew exactly who he was. He was sure of his sexuality, knew he was gay and didn’t want to have to hide that from almost anyone. Wes has been in love with Jamie since he was 13 years old, but Jamie is straight. Watching Wes struggle with his feelings was heart breaking. He had felt so incredibly guilty over the years because he felt that he almost forced Jamie into a hookup with him and that loss of their friendship had kind of broken Wes. He had a balance of such confidence and vulnerability that it tugged at my heart strings!

Jamie was just as wonderful – he was so incredibly hurt that Wes has cut off their friendship after their drunken hookup and he could never figure out why. I loved that about him, he never assumed it was because of the hookup, he just missed his best friend. He’s so self assured in a different way that when Wes tells him he’s gay Jamie doesn’t even blink, just accepts it. And when Jamie starts to question his own sexuality he becomes more vulnerable and realizes he is definitely attracted to Wes.

Why hadn’t anyone ever told me the prostate was some kind of magical pleasure zone? Are there unicorns and orgasm fairies dancing around in there?

Jamie and Wes kind of evolve together over the book with their relationship becoming deeper. I love romance books because I love watching two people falling in love and these two falling in love slowly was both hilarious and romantic.

His laughter sends my heart soaring. Which is the most confusing thing of all, because it adds an element to the sex I didn’t expect. I’m comfortable with him. I have fun with him. I’m not trying to impress anyone. It’s…easy. Like splashing in the lake. But with orgasms.

Oh and honorable mention goes to Jamie’s amazing family! They were a hidden gem in this book, they cracked me up and I loved them so much. Everyone deserves a family like that!

Everything about this book is what I’ve come to love about m/m books in general – the incredible sweetness of this relationship combined with how hot it was completely worked for me. If you haven’t read any m/m before but love either of these authors and are hesitating because of the genre, it’s a great entry point for anyone.

ARC provided by the authors in return for an honest review.

5 Stars.

Melinda

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Review: Taking the Heat by Victoria Dahl

24338317 Summary: All revved up for bright lights and steamy nights, writer Veronica Chandler chased her dreams to New York City. When she hit a dead end, reality sent her back home to Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Saving her pride and her new gig—writing a relationship advice column!—requires some faking. No one can know the truth about her big-city flop or her nonexistent sex life. But the town’s irresistibly rugged librarian is determined to figure her out… and give her hands-on lessons in every wicked thing she wants to know.

Gabe MacKenzie’s heart might be in Wyoming, but secretly his future’s tied up in his family’s Manhattan legacy. Getting down and dirty with Veronica is supposed to give him a few memorable nights—not complicate his plans. But the thing about heat this scorching is there’s just no going back… and it might be too hot for either of them to take.

Review: This is the latest in Victoria Dahl’s Jackson: Girls’ Night Out series. If you like contemporary, humorous romances and you haven’t read these you really, really should. What I enjoy about Dahl’s books is that they’re actually both funny and relatable. When I’m reading them I feel as if I could be listening to a friend telling me some of these stories, obviously with some embellishments, but still. She also doesn’t leave out any saucier details, which I appreciate, even in my romantic comedies.

Veronica Chandler is a great heroine, she was flawed and real without seeming helpless – which is a personal pet peeve of mine. She’s terrified when her boss pretty much forces her to do a live version of her Ask Veronica advice column at a local bar. She feels like a complete fake in general in her life in Jackson and in her career so to do this in person on stage makes her completely overwhelmed. I enjoyed seeing this character so off kilter so early in the book, we get to see why she feels so overwhelmed and why she feels like such a fake. I think generally many people feel that way in their careers so I know I could relate in some small way to that and definitely to the stage fright as well. I found Veronica’s flaws endearing.

The hero, Gabe MacKenzie, is a male librarian. Male librarian, with a beard. In my head he also had sexy glasses but I can’t actually remember if that’s in the book or not so don’t take that as gospel. Gabe is in Jackson for a limited time, not that anyone knows that, and that’s the way he wants it. He wants to enjoy his life in Jackson before he has to return to his real life that he doesn’t want. His initial impression of Veronica is exactly the opposite of what he is looking for – too polished and put together. I really loved to see Gabe’s impression of Veronica – on the stage and off and as he got to know her. Dahl did a great job of capturing how what you see is definitely not always what you get.

As things go on their relationship deepens in a variety of ways and of course there are outside factors that contribute issues to the relationship. I liked the secondary characters and how previous characters from the prior books came back to make appearances in this one as well. There are a few other plots that come into play that are important too and Dahl handles the weaving of those into the main issue of the relationship very well.

Overall this was a great book, Victoria Dahl is definitely one of my favorite contemporary romance authors! Oh and this is to be released on this upcoming Tuesday, 7/28.

ARC provided by Netgalley via the publisher in return for an honest review.

4 Stars

~Melinda

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