Release Day Launch: Lover On Top: Kristine Cayne

Lover on Top (Six Alarm Sexy #3)
Kristine Cayne
Genre: M/M romance (can be read as stand alone)
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Sexy-as-sin paramedic Chad Caldwell has always been out and proud. Sure, some gay-bashers are harassing him, but he’s determined to be true to himself. There’s just one problem: He’s hung up on Hollywood, his older brother’s straight best friend. When Hollywood’s apartment is damaged by fire, Chad reluctantly takes him in. Will Chad’s heart survive such close proximity to a man who’s both unattainable and everything Chad wants?
A perpetual bachelor, firefighter lieutenant Hollywood Wright hops from one woman’s bed to another, searching for something he never finds. Has his father’s emotional and physical abuse somehow damaged him? Or is something else going on, something that involves the intense and uncomfortable feelings aroused by his best friend’s little brother?
To their mutual surprise, Hollywood finds Chad and his world fascinating—and much hotter than anything he’s ever experienced. But with a rabidly homophobic father, is Hollywood doomed to die in the closet? Chad won’t accept anything less than a public relationship, no matter how amazing the sex is. Can Hollywood ever accept the man he’s always buried deep inside?

Lover on Top is my first exposure to Kristine Cayne, which is fitting since this is also her first M/M novel, though it’s not her first romance novel by any means. This is the fifth book (third full-length novel) of her “Six Alarm Sexy” series, so her setting and many of the characters are already well established. While this can be problematic for those, like me, who are jumping into the series to read this as a standalone, have no fear because there was no confusion for me in reading it. In fact, having the history already there made this novel feel even richer than I could have hoped.

Nathanial “Hollywood” Wright is a lieutenant in the Seattle Fire Department and is known for being a ladies’ man, but his relationships never last long since the death of his only real love. Chad Caldwell is a paramedic with the SFD and has always been proudly out of the closet with the full support of his family. Hollywood, as Chad’s eldest brother’s best friend, has also been a part of the family since before Chad entered his teens, though they have never gotten along very well. Despite this, Chad has always had it bad for Hollywood’s hot bod, so when his brother talks him into allowing Hollywood to stay with him after a fire makes Hollywood’s apartment uninhabitable, it’s a difficult challenge for Chad to keep himself in check. As if Chad’s feelings weren’t bad enough, Hollywood discovers that he too has an intense attraction to Chad, but after growing up with an intensely homophobic and abusive father, who also happens to be both his and Chad’s big boss, there’s no way he could ever be gay, let alone be out, even though he knows Chad would never accept hiding what they could have together.

In case you haven’t figured it out yet, this is quite an angsty story, primarily surrounding Hollywood’s internal struggle not only to accept the fact that he isn’t as straight as he always believed but to deal with his fear over the ramifications of such an admission, primarily what his father’s reaction would be. From start to finish, this single aspect makes this story worth reading. But it isn’t just Hollywood’s issues that are so compelling. Chad has a history of being harassed for his sexuality, and though everyone believes it has stopped, Chad has once again become a victim of it. Putting all of this together yields some of the most intense and, quite frankly, delicious sexual tension between a pair of main characters that I have read in the recent past. As a result, when things do finally get sexual between them, the author goes all out to make sure it’s as explosive as it ought to be. Even outside the bedroom (and the other places these two get busy), you can’t help but like these two, even if you want to knock them silly for being stupid every now and then. Though to be honest, it’s during one of these times, though, that I wanted to smack the author for being silly—I’m not going to say what scene it is because it would be a bit of a spoiler, but I just didn’t buy what it is they were fighting about. I freely admit that I have a bad habit of wanting to scream at authors at least a handful of times when I’m reading a book, so the fact that this only happened once is a good thing.

The strong character development isn’t limited to just the two mains. Several of the other members of the Caldwell family read like fully fleshed-out characters, even though I had no prior experience with them. The author chose well on how much information to give about those who appeared earlier in the series and when in this story to give it. The result was a set of secondary characters that felt integral to the development of this story line with none of them stealing the spotlight from Chad and Hollywood nor feeling like throwaway characters.

The same can be said about the plot development itself. I honestly cannot think of a single scene throughout that felt like wasted pages. Even the scene I complained about earlier was important to the overall plot. Considering that this is on the longish side for a romance novel, that’s quite an accomplishment. There’s nothing particularly complicated nor shocking about the plot itself, but it’s woven together in a way that is satisfying, and even if you can’t figure out exactly what’s going to happen, you know there’s some nasty shit that’s gonna happen by the time it’s done. But there’s also a good bit of humor to be found scattered throughout the novel, including some that pokes fun at a few of the common tropes found within romance novels. It’s always fun when we can get a chuckle at our own expense. It's just one example of the smart writing to be found here.

The year still has a long way to go, but I wouldn’t be surprised to find Lover on Top on my list of favorites when all is said and done. It’s too bad the rest of her books are M/F, as I would like to read more of Ms. Cayne’s work. Maybe I will at some point, but for now, I hope she chooses to take another dip in the M/M pond. She’s got a knack for it.

The author generously provided me a complimentary copy of
Lover on Top in exchange for this fair and honest review.
Charming paramedic. Sexy fireman.  Bring on the heat! 

Chad Caldwell is a paramedic who is gay, out, and proud. But he has a bit of a problem. He is in lust with his brother's best friend Hollywood Wright who is a firefighter...and straight...or at least he has always thought he was. And they are now suddenly temporary roommates. They have always had antagonistic interactions and were not really friends with each other, but living in close quarters brings some surprises.

Chad finds it challenging trying to keep his long time crush on Hollywood under control. While Hollywood finds himself surprisingly drawn to Chad which completely confuses him. They have different lifestyles and a significant age gap. 

From acquaintances who barely tolerated each other, to friends, to attraction, these two men are thrust into a situation neither of them expected. Hollywood is perplexed and conflicted as he tries to get a handle on his foreign thoughts and feelings. And Chad is wary about not being accepted and/or being hurt or used as an experiment. There is a building awareness and confusion. Sexual tension and lust surrounds them and causes anxiety.   The world around them is riddled with intolerance, and they have to worry about how  acting on their desires could affect those around them. 

I really liked both Hollywood and Chad. They were charismatic, funny, loyal, and smart. Hollywood was a typical alpha male, but he had a softer side. Chad had a dominant alpha side as well, but also could take on a more flamboyant persona at times. They had scorching hot chemistry and a connection they could not ignore. But they both had defense mechanisms, insecurities, trust issues, fears, and at times had difficulty understanding the other's struggle. It was not easy to navigate the delicate situation, figure out what they both really wanted and needed, and deal with any fall out. There was some definite relationship angst and internal turmoil. It was at times a challenge to try new things, explore new roles, and deal with power exchanges. 

It was told in dual points of view allowing us to explore each of their thoughts and feelings and how they shifted at various times.  I loved seeing their vulnerability and the intensity between them. Their internal dialogues and humor, as well as fun banter made me smile. The wit and sarcasm made a nice foil to the sexual tension, emotional turmoil, and intense passion.

The characters were well developed and the plot was interesting not only from the dynamics between the characters, but also with some added suspense and drama. I liked the side characters of Chad's family and their friends. I read the prequel novella Aftershocks so was familiar with some of them, but the author does a good job explaining anything pertinent about the side characters and it truly reads well as a stand alone story. There are still a couple more of the Caldwell siblings left so I imagine the series will continue with either brother Derek or sister Tori next. 

I was gifted a copy in exchange for an honest review. 
Hollywood’s focus rose to Chad’s eyes, and held. “I know what I want now.”

Unable to believe, hell, unable to think, under the force of that seductive green assault, Chad’s blood roared southward. He licked his lips. “And what’s that?”

The fire in Hollywood’s eyes flared, turning Chad’s blood into lava as he waited, feet on the edge of a cliff, for Hollywood’s response.

Chad swayed. “Oh boy.”

Stepping back, Hollywood chuckled, clearly aware of his effect on Chad. “Get that look off your face. I’m keeping my hands to myself tonight.”

“All night?” The words barely out of his mouth, Chad winced at the disappointment in his voice. But, Jesus, he was disappointed. For months now—no, if he were being honest, it had been years—he’d been dreaming of what it would be like to hold Hollywood, to kiss and touch him, to sink his cock between those muscled ass cheeks. Not that he expected to do all that tonight, or anytime soon, but something. Christ, he needed something.

Hollywood gently tapped his cheek and snorted. “At least until after dessert, Loverboy.”

Loverboy. Chad felt as though he’d entered some kind of twilight zone or an alternate universe where a determined, confident Hollywood said all the things Chad desperately wanted to hear. “Is that what I am to you?”

Hollywood brushed two fingers along the edge of Chad’s hairline and wiped away the beads of sweat popping out as Chad’s heart hammered faster and faster. “It’s what I’d like you to be.” He moved closer and, slipping his hands under Chad’s topcoat, pushed it off his shoulders.

Chad shuddered as the coat slid down his arms and dropped onto the carpeted floor with a muted thud. Taking a deep, calming breath, Chad leaned in so his chest was almost touching Hollywood’s. “Where is all this self-assurance coming from?”

He hoped like hell this new version of Hollywood stuck around, because this man was hot-as-fuck. Not only did Hollywood not take the expected step back, he took one forward, pressing their chests fully against each other. “I’ve done a lot of thinking in the past couple of days.”

“Oh, yeah? And?”

Hollywood grabbed Chad’s ass and ground against him. “And I’ve missed you.”

Feeling Hollywood’s hard-on against his own, Chad’s head reeled. He’d missed Hollywood too. So fucking much. And here they were, hard cocks rubbing together.

Dreams did come true.
Other Books in the Six-Alarm Sexy Series

Aftershocks (Prequel)

Under His Command (Book One)

Everything Bared (Book Two)

Handle with Care (In-between Novella)

Six-Alarm Sexy, Volume One

(ebook and print, Aftershocks and Under His Command)

Six-Alarm Sexy, Volume Two

(ebook and print, Everything Bared and Handle with Care)

Available from your favorite ebook seller!

Kristine Cayne Website/Facebook/Twitter

Kristine Cayne's books have won numerous awards and acclaim. Her first book, Deadly Obsession, was an RT Book Reviews Top Pick and won Best Romance in the 2012 eFestival of Words Best of the Independent eBook Awards. Her second book, Deadly Addiction, won two awards at the 2014 eFestival of Words and 1st place in the INDIE Awards, Romantic Suspense Category (a division of Chanticleer Book Reviews Blue Ribbon Writing Contests).

Her book Under His Command won Best BDSM Romance at the 2012 Sizzling Awards and was a finalist in the 2013 eFestival of Words and 2013 RONE (Reward of Novel Excellence) Awards, and her book Everything Bared was a finalist in the Erotic category of the I Heart Indie awards.
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