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Blog Tour: Going Under: Lexi Ryan

Going Under (The Blackhawk Boys #3)
Lexi Ryan

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Expected December 6, 2016

If I met Alexandra DeLuca for the first time today, I would only need one word to describe her:


She's everything she was when we said goodbye. Beautiful, stubborn, sweet...and off-limits.

After two years leading separate lives, our worlds have collided. Now that she's back home working and taking classes beside me, she's bound to make me lose my mind.

She's all I've ever wanted, all I've ever dreamed of, and the one thing I can never have.

Not because she's my best friend's sister.
Not because all four DeLuca brothers would come at me with fists swinging if I hurt her.
Not even because she's way better than I will ever deserve.

I keep my distance because we didn't meet for the first time today. We met five years ago when I was a different person. When my demons ruled me. Even though I've changed--even though I've gotten my life together and become a better man--I can't change the past. And the secrets that haunt me would destroy her.

But I'm not the only one with secrets, and when the truth comes out, I don't know where to turn. What do you do when your world washes away beneath your feet and you feel like you're drowning? What do you do when the woman you promised yourself you'd never touch is the only thing that can keep you from going under?

GOING UNDER is a standalone novel and the third in The Blackhawk Boys series.

For Sebastian Crowe, Alexandra DeLuca was the girl that got away--the one he could never have, shouldn't want, and does not think he could ever deserve. She is his best friend's little sister and they are tied by history. But now she is back home and bringing back old wants, regret, and guilt. 

Alex has suffered serious loss and life changes. And Sebastian knows all about it. She has had a crush on him for years, but he has always kept her at arm's length. 

He has secrets and guilt that eats at him and keeps him from going after what he wants. But even the strongest man can have moments of weakness. Their pasts are twisted together. Their present keeps bringing them together, but just enough to keep them hurting and requiring resistance. There are still layers of secrets and guilt creating a barrier that he feels he cannot cross. But until they face everything, there is no chance either will get what they both really want...or be able to move forward towards the future.

They are both broken and damaged and are in the process of being put back together. But it seems they are both each other's biggest regret as well as possibly the best chance of hope and healing. In some ways they have each saved the other. And in other ways they broke each other down. But now as the secrets are laid bare will they be able to keep the other from going under?

I really liked Sebastian. I felt for him as he struggled with the guilt of his mistakes from the past and did not feel worthy of Alex. But he was so protective, caring, and in need of redemption. And Alex was tough and a survivor. But she had so many lingering questions and hurts that stuck with her in addition to the other scars from her past. But she was also insecure and felt inferior as well. And they had a tendency to inadvertently feed into the other's lack of self worth or insecurities. There were plenty of outside influences and secrets affecting them and shaping their decisions. But all along, I kept hoping that once everything was out in the open, they could find forgiveness and healing.

I love it when there are surprise cameos from other series. And all of the friends from this series are also back and I enjoyed catching up with them. This had the camaraderie and fun that I have come to enjoy with this series, but also had some emotional and tragic subject matter. It also had some mystery as to what really happened in the past. It was gradually revealed throughout and added tension and drama into the present. This is a story about loss, love, forgiveness, redemption, hope, and healing. 

I am looking forward to Keegan's book since his story has been ongoing, and I am also hoping Mason is coming after that. He and Bailey drive me crazy!

I was gifted a copy in exchange for an honest review.

Sebastian Crowe has regrets. Had he met Alexandra DeLuca today, he would pursue her no questions asked. But he met her five years ago when he was a different person, when he didn’t deserve anyone as good as she. Even though he has changed his choices, he still knows she isn’t for him, no matter how much he may be attracted to her.

Alexandra is back after two years away. She knows she doesn’t want to be a mechanic forever, so moving home in order to go to college seems the best course of action. But returning also puts her near Sebastian once again, and the crush she held in high school returns as she gets to know the new Sebastian.

They each have secrets and their own grief and regret to deal with. What surprised me was what a tangled mess the secrets were, and how much they each had to learn about what they thought they knew. The secrets fed the challenges each character must face, and at times seemed to amplify the insecurities each held tightly.

As they slowly begin to rely on each other, putting aside the time apart, the tension of the secrets they hide kept things interesting. With each new bit of information I couldn’t help but hope things wouldn’t shake down the way they appeared to be. I was also surprised by the direction several of the secrets led, as the story took on a bit of suspense about what was going on in Alex’s sister’s life at the time of her death.

Each of these characters were likeable and intriguing. Sebastian’s past was a cloud that hovered over him, providing him with so much guilt that shadowed him even years later. I loved the lengths he tried to go in order to protect Alexandra from his past and the connection to her own pain.

Once again this series has pulled me into the family aspect of the team. I love the way they support each other despite mistakes and forgive without prejudice when they learn the darkest secrets of their own. Keegan, Mason, and Bailey have had portions of their stories play out in the background of the series, and I can’t wait to see inside each of their heads in their own stories.

I was gifted a copy in exchange for an honest review.

Copyright © 2016 by Lexi Ryan

“I don’t want you to think you need to do this now that I’m back.”
He steps forward, close enough that I can feel his heat. “Do what?”
“Spend time with me. Come to my rescue. Make sure I make it home safely.” I wave a hand. “All of it. You don’t owe me anything.”
“You think I’m here out of a sense of obligation?” He laughs. “Fuck, that’s insane.”
“Is it? Can we just talk about the elephant in the room?” I ask him.
He’s staring at me, and it takes a few beats for him to process that I’ve spoken. I’d laugh if seeing him drunk didn’t also unsettle something deep inside me, some old part of me that still wants Sebastian to be my rock. But I’m not the girl recovering in the hospital anymore. I’m not the girl crying at her sister’s grave. Those experiences are part of who I am now, but I’m more, too. I’m stronger. I don’t need Sebastian’s strength to hold me steady. Or I shouldn’t.
I tuck my hands into my pockets. “Two years ago, the night before I left for Colorado…” He goes still, and I can’t make myself finish the sentence.
“I crossed a line,” he says.
I snort. God, the problem isn’t that he crossed a line—it’s that he didn’t. “Are you serious right now?”
He cuts his eyes to me again, the muscle ticking in his jaw. “It was a mistake, and you’re obviously still angry with me about it.”
I step away from him and wrap my hands around the porch rail. If I let myself look at him, I’ll overanalyze every expression that crosses his face. I realize I’m holding my breath and exhale. “It was a shitty thing for you to do.”
He’s silent for several heavy beats of my heart. When I can’t stand the silence anymore, I release the railing and turn to face him. “Let me make sure I understand,” he says. “Since I almost kissed you two years ago, I can’t walk you home anymore?”
“I don’t want…” I take a breath as I search for the words to explain how this makes me feel. “I don’t want a pity friendship.”
“What the fuck is a pity friendship?”
“It’s when you spend time with someone because you don’t want them to be alone.”
“You’re an expert on what I want now?”
“I think you made it perfectly clear what you do and don’t want from me two years ago.”
He takes half a step forward, and his gaze drops to my mouth. Can you feel someone looking at your lips? Because his gaze is so intense on my mouth right now that I’m sure I could close my eyes and still feel it as distinctly as a touch. “Dammit, Alex, if I’d have known you’d hold such a grudge for thirty seconds of weakness, I would have kissed you that night. Fuck my better judgment. At least then I’d know how you taste.”
I swallow hard and tell my pounding heart not to make more of this than it is. “You’re drunk, Sebastian.”
Stepping back, he drags a hand over his face. “Yeah.” He takes another step back. “Good night, Alex.”
I unlock the door and go inside, shutting it behind me without looking at him again. Slowly, I take the stairs up to my old room, close the door behind me, and lean against it. Only then do I allow myself to squeeze my eyes shut and take a long, deep breath to calm my racing heart.
His words replay in my head, making the muscles in my stomach grow tight. Just once I’d like Sebastian Crowe to make good on one of the fantasies he inspires. Just once I’d like him to follow me into this room and lock the door before pushing me against it and lowering his mouth to mine. I’d like to feel those rough hands slide under my shirt to unbutton my jeans…
I pull out my phone and text Bailey, letting her know I made it home okay. Then, without washing my face or changing my clothes, I fall into bed, close my eyes, and break a promise to myself by fantasizing about Sebastian Crowe.
“At least then I’d know how you taste.”

THE BLACKHAWK BOYS, an edgy, sexy sports romance series from 
New York Times bestseller Lexi Ryan. 

Football. Secrets. Lies. Passion. These boys don’t play fair. 

Which Blackhawk Boy will steal your heart?

Book 1 - SPINNING OUT -  (Arrow's story)
Book 2 - RUSHING IN - (Christopher's story)
Book 3 - GOING UNDER -  (Sebastian's story)
Book 4 - FALLING HARD - Coming May 2017 (Keegan's Story)

Spinning Out (The Blackhawk Boys #1)
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Our 4.5 star reviews

Once, the only thing that mattered to me was football—training, playing, and earning my place on the best team at every level. I had it all, and I threw it away with a semester of drugs, alcohol, and pissing off anyone who tried to stop me. Now I’m suspended from the team, on house arrest, and forced to spend a semester at home to get my shit together. The cherry on my fuckup sundae? Sleeping in the room next to mine is my best friend’s girl, Mia Mendez—the only woman I’ve ever loved and a reminder of everything I regret.

I’m not sure if having Mia so close will be heaven or hell. She’s off-limits—and not just because she’s working for my dad. Her heart belongs to someone else. But since the accident that killed her brother and changed everything, she walks around like a zombie, shutting out her friends and ignoring her dreams. We’re both broken, numb, and stuck in limbo.

Until I break my own rules and touch her. 

Until she saves me from my nightmares by climbing into my bed. 

Until the only thing I want more than having Mia for myself is to protect her from the truth. 

I can’t rewrite the past, but I refuse to leave her heart in the hands of fate. For this girl, I’d climb into the sky and rearrange the stars.

Our 4 star reviews

The favor seemed simple: Keep my new stepsister out of trouble for one summer. 

I’ve never met Grace Lee, but Mom tells me she’s a quiet and artsy college student with a troubled past. When I agreed to let her stay with me, I thought it was no big deal. I expected to share my apartment with a sullen girl who’d spend hours locked in her room.

I didn’t expect a walking fantasy determined to make me lose my cool.

I didn’t expect a woman with secrets so dark, so deep, I’d throw away everything if it would save her from the past.

Rushing in to do this favor is turning my life upside down—and not just because Grace needs her ass spanked. Keep her out of trouble? Grace is the trouble. And I want in. 

Falling Hard (The Blackhawk Boys #4)
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May 23, 2017

Lexi Ryan Website | Facebook | Twitter | Newsletter

New York Times and USA Today bestselling romance novelist Lexi Ryan is a former college English professor turned full­time writer. She lives in rural Indiana with her husband and two children. When not writing, she can be found enjoying yoga, reading copiously, hanging out with her family, and thanking her lucky stars.

Release Day Launch: The Only One: Lauren Blakely

The Only One (One Love )
Lauren Blakely
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Expected December 6, 2016

Let’s say there was this guy. And he gave you the most mind-blowing night of sex in your life. And you never saw him again.

Until ten years later.

Now, it turns out he’s the ONLY ONE in all of Manhattan whose restaurant is available the night of my charity’s gala. 

The trouble is, he doesn’t recognize me.

This woman I’m working with is so damn alluring. The first time I set eyes on her, I’m captivated and I can’t get her out of my mind. Even if it’s risky to tango with someone I’m working with, she’s a risk I’m willing to take.

The trouble is, she won’t give me the time of day.

But I’m determined to change that.

Fans of Lauren Blakely might recognize Penny from the dog shelter Little Friends in Well Hung, and Gabriel, the sexy restaurant owner who partnered up with Simon in The Sexy One. But who knew that Penny Jones and Gabriel Mathias had a hot and emotional three day affair in Barcelona ten years ago?! It's a small world. She went home and they were supposed to meet again, but in the end she was left heartbroken.

But now they are face to face again. Gabriel's restaurant is the only one available to cater an event for Little Friends. At their first meeting there is curiosity, confusion. and secrets. Penny does her best to convince Gabriel she is not his long lost Penelope. But there is interest, a good rapport, and such chemistry. Soon they are falling back into a comfort zone of flirty exchanges, humor, and lust. 

This couple is so likable and entertaining. I enjoyed getting both of their points of view. Penny is funny, strong, fiery, and confident. But she still has vulnerability, pain, and trust issues from the past. And Gabriel is sexy, successful, charming, and determined. He has a rep of being a ladies man, but he is not afraid to go after what he wants or demand more of her time. The secrets are not revealed right away adding to the tension. 

I liked that they could appreciate and were attracted to each other in the present as the people they had become. I enjoyed following along with them as they fell again. They're older, wiser, freer, and know what they have been missing. They had an established connection that was easy to pick back up, but they also had to come to terms with the past in order to have a chance of moving on. They still have questions that have not been answered, hurts that need soothed, and to discover how each other has changed in ten years. 

It was funny, sweet, steamy, and romantic. Gabriel was  a swoon-worthy hero with a sexy accent. Why do accents just up the sexiness factor by a thousand?! Penny was someone you would love to be friends with. My favorite part was the fact these people made mature decisions even though there were issues, fears and trust issues. They thought things through, had some self talks, or even asked advice if needed. It had just enough heartbreak, tension, and drama to keep me interested, but was not angsty and full of contrived drama. It was an engaging read that just drew me in and left me smiling. I loved the themes of destiny, fate, and timing.

This can be read as a complete stand-alone and is a full story packaged as a long-ish novella. I was completely satisfied with the character development and how their story progressed, and it did not feel like a partial story just because it was a novella or part of an anthology. So you can read it as a companion to Lauren's other stories or pick it up to get a taste of her writing style. Either way I think you will enjoy it.

I was gifted a copy in exchange for an honest review. 

Penny Jones and Gabriel Mathias had a whirlwind romance in Spain with plans to meet back in the US, but plans changed and 10 years passed with no contact. When Penny’s nonprofit needs a last minute caterer, their paths cross once more. But when they come face to face, Gabriel doesn’t remember Penny. Though he may not remember her, he is intrigued by her.

I love that the intensity of their history is clear without a lot of extra detail. The scenes and memories that are included pack an emotional punch that lets us see exactly what they meant to each other 10 years before. The emotional connection and the threads of memory are revealed by dual narrators, giving readers a complete picture of the story’s progression.

Though the timeline is quick in the present, they have a few things to work out about the 10 years they have been apart. This has all the depth of a novel in a novella’s length. Because it is a novella, the plot focuses on their reunion and the rebuilding of their relationship rather than throwing a lot of additional drama

I love the little touches -- their reunion, the food, her dog. Often what makes a novel a favorite is the little touches, which sometimes can’t be translated to a novella, but they are absolutely present here.

We have met Gabriel, before but I loved this little glimpse into his personal life. This was a great addition to both the 1001 Nights collection and Lauren’s own New York standalones. It is a touching second chance story in a compact package.

I was gifted a copy in exchange for an honest review.
The clock mocks me.
  As the minute hand ticks closer to eight in the evening, I wrack my brain to figure out if I got the time wrong. Maybe we picked two. Maybe he said ten. Maybe we’re meeting tomorrow.     
  My chest twists with a desperate anxiety as I toy with the band on my watch.
  But as the fountains of Lincoln Center dance higher under the waning light, I’m sadly certain there was no error in communication.
  The only error was one of judgment.
  Thinking he’d show.
  Drawing a deep, frustrated breath, I peer at my watch once more, then raise my face, searching the crowds that wander past the circular aquatic display at Manhattan’s epicenter for the performing arts. This fountain is so romantic; that’s why we chose it as the place to meet again.
  One week later.
  Foolishly I hunt for the amber eyes and dark wavy hair, for the lean, tall frame, for that mischievous grin that melts me every time.
  I listen for the sound of him amidst the melody of voices, wishing to hear his rise above the others, calling my name, apologizing in that sexy accent of his for being late.
  My God, Gabriel’s accent was a recipe for making a young woman weak in the knees. That was what he had done to me. The man melted me when I first met him last month in Barcelona at the tail end of my summer of travels across Europe.
  When I close my eyes and float back in time, I hear that delicious voice, just a hint of gravel in his tone, and a whole fleet of butterflies chase each other in my belly at the resurgence of that faraway romantic dream.
  I open my eyes, trying to blink away the inconvenient intrusion of memory. I should go. It’s clear he’s not coming tonight.
  But, just in case I mixed up the times, maybe I’ll give him one more minute. One more look.   
  One more scan of the crowd.
  I let the clock tick past eight.
  I still don’t see him.
  I’ve been here for more than two hours, sitting on the black marble edge of the fountain. Scouring the corners of Lincoln Center. Peering left, then right down Columbus. Circling, like an animal at a zoo—pathetic modern-day female waiting for male to stay true to his word.
This is a stand-alone novella but if you crave more...

Meet Gabriel  first in:

The Sexy One
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And Penny appears in:

Well Hung
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Author pic - Lauren Blakely
Lauren Blakely
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Newsletter 

Since self-publishing her debut romance novel CAUGHT UP IN US over three years ago, Lauren Blakely has sold more than 1.5 million books. She is known for her sexy contemporary romance style that's full of heat, heart and humor. A devout fan of cake and canines, Lauren has plotted entire novels while walking her four-legged friends. She lives in California with her family. With thirteen New York Times bestsellers, her titles have appeared on the New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal Bestseller Lists more than seventy times. Her bestselling series include Sinful Nights, Seductive Nights, No Regrets, Caught Up in Love, and Fighting Fire as well as standalone hit romances like BIG ROCK, MISTER O, WELL HUNG, and THE SEXY ONE which were all instant New York Times Bestsellers. In January she'll release FULL PACKAGE, a standalone romantic comedy. To receive an email when Lauren releases a new book, sign up for her newsletter!
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Release Review: Hit the Spot: J. Daniels

Hit the Spot  (Dirty Deeds #2)
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Expected December 6, 2016

Is this love or just a game?

Tori Rivera thinks Jamie McCade is rude, arrogant, and worst of all . . . the sexiest man she’s ever laid eyes on. His reputation as a player is almost as legendary as his surfing skills. No matter how her body heats up when he’s around, she’s determined not to be another meaningless hookup.

Jamie McCade always gets what he wants. The sickest wave. The hottest women. And Tori, with her long legs and smart mouth, is definitely the hottest one. He knows Tori wants him—hell, most women do—but she won’t admit it. After months of chasing and one unforgettable kiss, it’s time for Jamie to raise the stakes.

Jamie promises that soon Tori won’t just want him in her bed, she’ll be begging for it—and he might be right. Somehow he’s found the spot in her heart that makes her open up like never before. But with all she knows about his past, can she really trust what’s happening between them? Is Jamie playing for keeps or just playing to win?

This book can be read as a stand-alone.

Graphics from Author's Facebook Page
We were introduced to Jamie and Tori in Four Letter Word. Their best friends, Brian and Syd, fell in love. But Jamie and Tori are a whole different story. 

Jamie clearly wants Tori and goes into full pursuit mode. Tori is completely resistant and fights him tooth and nail. She has her reasons. But he is persistent and determined to wear her down. They spar, fight, flirt, and eventually end up in a bet to see who will beg first. There is serious sexual tension and push and pull between them that creates some delicious foreplay.

Tori is sweet and spunky, but she has been hurt and does not want to be duped by a player again. And she has reason to believe that Jamie is and would continue to be one. She has fears, insecurities, and does not trust him. She has up many barriers, but he is determined to take them down one by one.

Jamie does have a reputation and he is a huge flirt. But from the beginning, he has pursued Tori in a different way. He is cocky, dirty-talking, pushy, and really just refuses to take NO for an answer. But they play their game of cat and mouse for quite a while until he finally begins to see her crack.

And when they finally come together, it is raw, steamy, and explosive. Chemistry is not their problem. Getting on the same page at the same time is a big one. There are challenges, miscommunication, hurt feelings, drama, and fights along their journey. Their banter runs from flirty, fiery, to downright dirty. Everything these two do together has an intensity about it.

I enjoyed getting the dual points of view, but it took me a little while to really like the characters. Jamie was a bit hard for me to take in the beginning since he was so pushy and bordering on obnoxious. Then later he turned into what I would swear was a Kristen Ashley hero by his choppy speech patterns and alpha-speak. It is not that I disliked it, but I could not get that out of my mind. But he did win me over with his big heart, determination to be her hero and get to her soft spot. He could be swoony in a totally unfiltered way. Tori was feisty and good at avoiding and running. But deep down she just wanted to be truly loved and claimed. She was just going to make the guy jump through hoops to get there and to prove himself more than once.  It was angsty, steamy, funny, heartfelt, and emotional.

The characters from Four Letter Word are back: Brian and Syd, Shay, Stitch, Nate, Kali, Jenna, and we got more with Tori and Jamie's families. I am intrigued by Shay and Stitch since they have been circling each other for awhile. I am hoping they will be the next book.

I was gifted a copy in exchange for an honest review.

Fate. Hate. Love. Lies.

Which four letter word will change their lives forever?

Sydney Paige was never so mortified to hear the words "wrong number" in her life. She meant to tell off the guy who broke her best friend's heart, but unleashed her anger on a perfect stranger instead. And now her world is turned upside down by the captivating man who wants to keep her on the line.

Brian Savage is living a life he's quickly come to hate-until Sydney's wild rant has him hooked and hungry for more. Soon the sexy woman on the phone becomes the lover in his bed. But Brian has secrets, and the closer he lets Syd get, the harder it is to shield her from the devastating mistakes of his past . . .
J. Daniels 

J. Daniels is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Sweet Addiction series, the Alabama Summer series, and the upcoming Dirty Deeds series.

She would rather bake than cook, she listens to music entirely too loud, and loves writing stories her children will never read. Her husband and children are her greatest loves, with cupcakes coming in at a close second.

J grew up in Baltimore and resides in Maryland with her family.


Release Blitz: Wound Tight: Tessa Bailey

Wound Tight (Made in Jersey #4)
Tessa Bailey
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M/M Contemporary Romance

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Expected December 5, 2016

A sexy new M/M romance from New York Times Bestselling author Tessa Bailey

When CEO Renner Bastion walks into a room, everyone keeps their distance. Well, everyone but the sarcastic, tattooed, Boston-bred security guard whose presence has kept Renner in New Jersey longer than intended. As if the unwanted attraction isn’t unsettling enough, Renner finds out his protector isn’t as unavailable as originally thought.

Milo Bautista just came out to his wealthy, ultra-confident boss, a man he secretly respects and admires…in more ways than he’ll admit. Worldly, experienced Renner would never look in his direction, let alone share some of that confidence he wears like a cloak, so Milo has set his sights on someone else to be his first.

Until Renner offers him private lessons in seduction...

Graphics from Author's Facebook page
Okay...a Tessa Bailey dirty-talking alpha + another hot, outspoken hero! Win Win! How can I resist?

We have seen a bit of  Renner Bastion and the plant's security guard, Milo Bautista, in Worked Up. Renner is the arrogant, rich, unliked, owner of the plant from the city. He is intelligent, controlling, bossy, and calculating. He appears emotionless and guarded. He is gay, but does not do relationships. He has a need to continually prove himself and work encompasses his life. The only soft spot we have seen from him is the one that cares for his sister, Samantha.

Milo takes his job as security seriously and that also means guarding the boss. The boss he secretly has been watching for more reasons than just security. He has been questioning his own sexuality especially since becoming attracted to another man he has met. Milo is charismatic, sarcastic, outspoken, quick-witted, and does not always listen to the boss' authority...or at least is not afraid to talk back. He has no problem being Renner's unwanted protector and PITA.

Milo also wants the more mature and experienced Renner to help him become more confident in his sexuality so he can pursue something with the man he has a crush on. In turn, Milo wants to help the stressed-out Renner relax. They rile each other up, but begin to appreciate and understand each other. Even the most detached man cannot seem to remain unaffected by Milo's presence. They begin to grow closer, succumb to passion, and find themselves getting in deeper. Despite their major differences, they seem to balance each other. They become more protective and possessive, and develop unexpected feelings. But they both have fears and insecurities that creep in and work against what they really need deep down.

Renner has up walls he built a long time ago for a reason. And there is still the matter of the man that Milo initially wanted to impress. Milo is learning to believe in himself, but he is still figuring things out. He needs Renner to not only claim him, but also to truly be vulnerable enough to let him in. Due to their issues, they both question motives and feelings. Renner especially has to figure out his priorities and needs as he has always only made room in his life for work. His past has marked him and made him wary. Milo is becoming more confident, but is still anxious and insecure. They will both have to be willing to take a chance if there is a chance of something more.

They push and challenge each other on a daily basis. There is tension, angst, and both are stubborn. And when it gets down to the hard stuff, sometimes their insecurities and fears cause them to resist, back away, or make mistakes. Hesitation can cause damage and clarity may come too late.

Are these two strong-willed men willing to take a big risk and try to find a way to make it work?

Tessa Bailey succeeded in bringing us her characteristic alpha, dirty-talking hero, but also gave us another strong male who could alternately push back or submit when needed. I loved getting their dual points of view and felt that they had different voices. Milo and Renner were so damn hot together! Raw, passionate, intense, and a perfect combination of needs. This was steamy, sweet, emotional, passionate, and a lot of fun. I loved their sarcastic banter and pushing each other's boundaries. I liked that they were inherently different, but could find common ground. There was intense want and need just flowing off the pages and their periods of pain and happiness were heartfelt. But they definitely had some issues to work through in order to figure out what they could and could not live without.

I enjoyed getting more with Renner's sister, Samantha and her burly husband Duke (Worked Up) and Vaughn and River (Thrown Down). They added humor and a sense of the community of Hook, NJ. I liked seeing Renner beginning to try to fit in more instead of being the elusive outsider. I am glad Tessa wrote a M/M story and it worked great within this series. These guys were so opposite, but fit so well. I got more and more attached to them as their layers were peeled back.

It was a great way to close out this series. I hope Tessa explores more in the M/M genre though because she does such a  great job with dynamic, sexy, outspoken males with possessive streaks and deep emotions...and two are better than one.

I was gifted a copy in exchange for an honest review.

Wound Tight is the first M/M novel from the well-established M/F author, Tessa Bailey. As such, it’s also my first exposure to her work. So in spite of this being the fourth full-length novel of the series, I was reading it as a standalone. While it took a while for me to get into this story, it was a hot and intense read that I couldn’t put down once I did.

Milo Bautista left Boston after an old friend hooked him up with a security job at a factory in Hook, New Jersey. In the time he’s been there, he’s developed more than just a healthy respect for the company’s owner, Renner Bastion. The man may be cold and unliked by most at the plant, but he exudes a successful confidence and worldliness that Milo finds admirable and irresistible. Having recently realized that he craves intimacy with a man, Milo’s complete inexperience results in his regard for Renner extending to how comfortable the boss is with his own homosexuality. All of these are qualities Milo wishes to possess himself, and he hopes that focusing on the man will help him learn. And the more Milo is around Renner, the more he’s attracted to him, but there’s no way someone as wealthy and powerful as Renner would ever look twice at the lowly security guard tasked with protecting him and the factory. So when Milo comes out to Renner and proposes a deal for Renner to help Milo become more confident with his sexuality in order to ask out his crush back in Boston on a date, they’re both in for more than they expected.

Normally I tend to appreciate the plot of a book more than the main characters, but the two main characters in Wound Tight formed my favorite part this time. The story alternates between their points of view, allowing the reader to develop a quick understanding of both these men. Renner is intelligent, driven, commanding, and shrewd, all in an effort to prove—mostly to himself—that he is capable of running his business successfully, in spite of being gay. This, along with a past heartbreak, results in his being totally committed to work to the point of causing himself a medical condition. He doesn’t have time, nor does he have the desire for relationships, neither the friendly kind nor the intimate. While Milo shares the same drive to do his job well—the job of providing personal protection to Renner is one he takes upon himself—he is friendly, outgoing, and well liked. 

When it comes to dealing with Renner, though, Milo is also outspoken and unafraid of the consequences talking back to the boss might have. This behavior results in their interactions having an interesting layer of intensity that makes the spark that develops between the two men all the more volatile. This is definitely a slow-burn story due to the multiple conflicts within each character. No matter how much Renner wants Milo, he refrains from going after him because doing so would break every rule he has regarding relationships. Besides, Milo has his sights on another man back in Boston. This keeps Milo in check as well, but even as he begins to realize his growing need for Renner, he can’t believe there’s any way the feelings could be reciprocal. Cue tension building until neither man can control himself. While the heat between the two leaps off the page, it’s the realization that what they need from the other matches so well with what they offer that makes the dramatic final chapters click so perfectly. 

I mentioned that it took longer for me to get into this story than it usually does, and I believe there are a couple of reasons for that. First of all, I read this as a standalone, which considering there are three full novels and a novella before this in the series, the author had the daunting task of making sure a reader like me understood enough about the backstory without making a full retelling to bore return readers. Unfortunately, I felt at times like I was missing pieces here and there, and this kept the story from feeling as self-contained as I would have liked. As a result, the set-up wasn’t as smooth as I wanted; I felt like I had been shoved into the story somewhat instead of smoothly introduced to it. This might have also been part of the reason that the first half of the story felt a little forced to me, as if the author was trying to force the characters to behave a certain way. Perhaps if I had known the backstory a little more, I would have understood their motivations better.

Regardless, once the story hit its stride about 40% in, there was no putting it down. Plenty of heat, intensity, and dirty talk (that leans a little toward domineering), all of which I’m told are hallmarks for this author. And it led to one of the better, more realistic final dramatic sequences I’ve read lately, complete with a satisfactory and heartfelt denouement that made the story much better than it looked at the start.

Wound Tight, as a whole, marks a successful first foray for Tessa Bailey’s into the M/M subgenre of romance. I hope she makes another effort, ideally with a solely M/M series, so that I can see whether or not my struggle with the first part of this one was a fluke caused by circumstances. Either way, though, I have no problem saying I look forward to it.

The author generously provided me a complimentary copy of Wound Tightin exchange for this fair and honest review.
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Jasmine Taveras is the reason Sarge Purcell grabbed his six-string and bailed the hell out of New Jersey four years ago. She's the fuel for every song he's ever written—each one laced with bitter, hard-edged, hungry lust. Now, with his hugely successful band on temporary hiatus, Sarge is determined to prove to Jasmine that this “kid” turned into every inch the man she's always needed...
Men are slim pickings for a single factory girl in Hook, New Jersey…until tall, broad-shouldered hotness walks—or rather storms—into Jasmine's life. Sarge's return shouldn't affect her this way. He's her best friend's much younger kid brother, and the kind of rough, gritty, sexiness Jasmine has no right to taste for herself. Even if he lets her.
But lust is a blinding, insatiable force. And when it crashes, it will take both Sarge and Jasmine down with it...  

Rough Rhythm (Made in Jersey #1.5)
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God help the woman I take home tonight. 

Band manager James Brandon never expected to find the elusive satisfaction he’d been chasing, let alone stumble upon it in some sleezy Hollywood meat market. Yet the girl’s quiet pride spoke to him from across the bar, louder than a shout. Troubled, hungry and homeless, she’d placed her trust in him. But after losing the grip on his dark desires that one fateful night, James has spent the last four years atoning for letting her down.

This time I’ll finally crack him. 

Rock band drummer Lita Regina has had enough of James’s guilt. She wants the explosive man she met that night in Hollywood. The man who held nothing back and took no prisoners—save Lita. And she’ll stop at nothing to revive him. Even if it means throwing herself into peril at every turn, just to get a reaction from her stoic manager. But when Lita takes her quest one step too far, James disappears from her life, thinking his absence will keep her safe.

Now it’s up to Lita to bring James back…and ignite an inferno of passion in the process.

Reader Advisory: ROUGH RHYTHM contains fantasies of nonconsensual sex, acted upon by consenting characters. Readers with sensitivity to portrayals of nonconsensual sex should be advised. 

Thrown Down (Made in Jersey #2)
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He has one last chance to deserve the girl of his dreams...

Overachiever River Purcell was never supposed to be a struggling single mom, working double shifts just to make ends meet. Nor was she supposed to be abandoned by her high school sweetheart, breaking her heart into a thousand jagged pieces. Now Vaughn De Matteo is back in town, his sights set on her...and River is in danger of drowning a second time.

No one believed Hook's resident bad boy was good enough for River. Not even Vaughn himself. But he'll fight like hell to win back the woman he never stopped loving, to keep the daughter he never expected, and convince himself he's worth their love in the process--even if he has to rely on their fierce and undeniable sexual chemistry.

But even as River's body arches under his hungered touch, the demons of the past lurk in the shadows. Waiting for Vaughn to repeat his mistakes one last time... 

WORKED UP - cover
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Factory mechanic Duke Crawford just wants to watch SportsCenter in peace. Unfortunately, living with four divorcee sisters doesn’t provide much silence, nor does it change his stance on relationships. But when a fellow commitment-phobe stumbles into his life, getting him good and worked up, he can’t deny his protective instincts.

Samantha Waverly’s brother just put her in an impossible situation. The only way out? Marry huge, gruff, gladiator look-alike Duke—for show, of course. She doesn’t make promises—she knows too well how easily they can be broken—and this is no exception.

As the blistering attraction between them grows, the lines around the no-strings relationship blur. But Duke and Samantha’s marriage is only for show…or is it? 
tessa bailey bio.jpg
Tessa Bailey
Tessa Bailey is originally from Carlsbad, California. The day after high school graduation, she packed her yearbook, ripped jeans and laptop, driving cross-country to New York City in under four days.

Her most valuable life experiences were learned thereafter while waitressing at K-Dees, a Manhattan pub owned by her uncle. Inside those four walls, she met her husband, best friend and discovered the magic of classic rock, managing to put herself through Kingsborough Community College and the English program at Pace University at the same time. Several stunted attempts to enter the work force as a journalist followed, but romance writing continued to demand her attention.

She now lives in Long Island, New York with her husband of nine years and four-year-old daughter. Although she is severely sleep-deprived, she is incredibly happy to be living her dream of writing about people falling in love.

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