• Incoming

    Title: Incoming
    Series: Veterans Affairs #1
    Genre:
    Pages: 288

    What if what you need could cost you everything you've ever wanted?

    Bartender Troy Johnson is pretty sure he’s gay, but since he’s spent the eight years since high school in the Army, so his actual gay dating experience is, well, zero. But he's out of the army now, and far from West Virginia and his conservative family. If the hot Veterinarian he’s been undressing with his eyes wants to go on a date, Troy is more than willing to jump in.

    Troy is everything Dmitri’s ever wanted in a guy: gorgeous, smart, and funny. He likes dogs, he has the sexiest trace of an accent, and his kisses set off fireworks in Dmitri’s entire body. Too bad Dmitri is getting the hell out of this small town as soon as he can.

    But Troy has secrets he won’t tell, and the demons he’s running from are hot on his heels. When sparks fly on a hot Fourth of July weekend, both men find that the past is not easily left behind, and the future is never as clear as you hope.

    After reading blurb I just HAD to read it, but this book was not what I had expected. It was better. I expected "easy" romance, a vet with some problems but nothing serious and of course sweet unbelievable end. I got something completely different. There was nothing easy about Troy and Dmitri's relationship, they were struggling to cope with everyday life' problems and with their past. Troy's problems were serious and it was painful to read how depressed and lonely he was.

    What is more, the story brings up the issue of veterans problems, how difficult their life after military is, how difficult it is to get back to civilian world once back from war zones.

    It was my first book by this author but it won't be the last one.

    Amazon reviewer

    Heat beat down against the roof of Troy Johnson’s truck. He’d scored the shaded spot in Vincent’s employee parking, but that didn’t mean much when the temperature hovered around ninety-five.
He checked his watch. Fifteen more minutes before he could go into work and not look like he had no life.

    He flicked through his phone half-heartedly. He could read, he had some ebooks on the phone, but nothing interested him. He hung his arm out the window and drummed his fingers against the metal door. He wasn’t bored; God knows he was no stranger to boredom. Army grunts raised figuring out ways to beat the boredom to an art form. He could amuse himself for a day with shoelaces and some rocks.

    This was a different feeling, instead of having nothing to do; he had almost too many choices. For the first time in a long time, he had no externally imposed routine or schedule. School didn’t start for another six weeks. He could go to work or not, if he didn’t care about being fired. It had only been a couple of weeks. He could drive up into the mountains and camp, or get dressed up, drive to Denver and hit the bars. No one would know, either way. And, he feared, no one would care. A box of maps sat on the passenger’s side of the bench seat, taunting him with miles of dirt roads stretching across the top of the Rockies.
None of it sounded appealing. He kept waiting for something to feel important, for something to come along and make him want to get out of bed in the morning. He liked his job, but it wasn’t anything important. Maybe when school started, he’d feel more satisfied.

    He sometimes wished someone would just tell him what to do. He remembered feeling like this his senior year in High School. Graduation had loomed on the horizon. Everyone around seemed so excited about finishing school and finally getting started on their real lives. All he could think was, oh God, what do I do now? When the Army recruiter came in to talk, he offered a path, a purpose, and an identity.

    Now here he was, pathless again. He couldn’t go back; he was done with the military, but he couldn’t find a way forward either.

    He sighed, resting his head back against the seat, and turned up the radio. Two more songs and he’d go inside.

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  • Christmas Outing

    Title: Christmas Outing
    Series: Veterans Affairs #2
    Genre:
    Pages: 96

    Troy and Dmitri have worked everything out - well, almost everything. Except for the part where Troy's family doesn't know Dmitri exists. Coming out to his family sounds scarier than going to war. And Troy would know.

    Troy's been out of the Army for almost a year, and except for a few short weeks, hasn't been back to West Virginia at all. Now Christmas is coming, and Troy has to go home or break his momma's heart.

    But Troy's afraid that going home with a boyfriend and service dog in tow will break his Momma's heart just as much.

    All of the Veteran Affairs Stories ended up bring me to tears and this one was no different.

    Amazon Reviewer

    Troy leaned against the doorframe, his hands gripped around a coffee mug. “I said, my mom wants me to come home for Christmas, is that okay?”

    Huh. Dmitri had never been away from his family over Christmas. He was almost thirty. It was actually a little embarrassing how much his life still revolved around his parents. This could be good for all of them. Christmas in West Virginia. Could be interesting. Probably not the best time to meet the family, over the holidays, but maybe not the worst either. Spirit of Christmas and all that. “Yeah, that will work,” he said. “What’s the weather like there at Christmas?” He turned, leaning against the counter.

    Troy stared at the coffee in his mug, shifted his weight from foot to foot. “Um. It’s not too bad. Sometimes it snows. But, ah, I was thinking of going alone. By myself.”

    Dmitri blinked at him. “Oh. Well. Okay, then. I’ll tell my mom.” He put his mug down on the counter and grabbed his coat. “Are you working late tonight?” He never knew about Thursdays. Sometimes Troy worked late; sometimes he didn’t.

    Troy walked over to stand next to Dmitri. “Look, I just think it’d be easier if I go alone.”

    “Yeah I get that, I totally get it. Fine. Do what you have to do.” Dmitri zipped up his coat. “I’ll see you at work. I’ll probably stop by Vincent’s after work for some dinner.” He left before Troy could say anything else.

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  • Paper Hearts

    Title: Paper Hearts
    Series: Veterans Affairs #3
    Genre:
    Pages: 275

    You never forget your first love. No matter how hard you try.

    The day of his high school graduation after getting caught making out with a boy in his parent’s kitchen, Benny Quintaña left his best friend (and unrequited crush) Mikey behind when he stormed off in a righteous teenage rage and joined the Marines.

    One dishonorable discharge and a few alcohol-soaked years later, things are looking up. He’s almost a year sober. He has a new job in a new town where no one knows his history of failure. He’s totally got this.

    When the smoking hot masked man he hooks up with in the bathroom of a club turns out to be his ex-best friend Mikey, Benny's world explodes. When he meets Mikey's four-year-old daughter and realizes he loves her as much as he still loves Mikey, Benny realizes he’s screwed in more ways than one.

    The gold-plated dome of the Denver Capitol building gleamed against a cloudless blue sky. The Rocky Mountains, still snow-covered at the end of June thanks to late spring storms, rolled off into the west in ever-deepening shades of blue. Benito Quintaña pushed his sunglasses against his face, pulled his straw cowboy hat lower over his eyes, and checked out the parade of humanity passing by his booth at the Denver Pride celebration. His t-shirt lay draped across the bust of some Greek goddess, a black flag of surrender to the heat. His friend and coworker Chris Dobbs, a scrawny platinum blond who at twenty-two had artistic talent and a body of work Benny could only envy, twirled a fake fox tail between his fingers as he continued his quest to get Benny laid.

    One late night when they’d been working non-stop trying to get Jay-Cee’s bronzes ready for a show, Benny had confessed that ever since he’d gotten clean and sober, casual sex had become orders of magnitude harder. Despite his horror of relationships, Chris had made it his mission to get Benny a boyfriend. It hadn’t worked out too well. This weekend, he’d switched tactics.

    “If you don’t find someone to screw by Sunday, I’m going to jump you myself,” he’d said. “A pity fuck, and it’s me I’m taking pity on. I can’t take all this celibacy any more. You’re giving gays a good name. What’s wrong with you? Think of the baby gays who look to you for guidance. You might as well be straight with that kind of attitude.”

    Benny had promised he would do his best. It’s not like he didn’t want to have sex again sometime before he died. And actually, hooking up with Chris wouldn’t suck. They’d done it once before, and it had been fun, but neither one was really each other’s type.

    “What about him?” Chris asked, blatantly pointing at a barrel-chested, bearded white guy wearing a leather harness and bright red hot pants roller-skating slowly down the path through the park.
The guy saw them looking, smiled and did a little jump that had him skating backward past their booth. Chris clapped his appreciation and then blew the skater a kiss. The guy mimed catching it and slipping it down the front of his minuscule shorts.
“Too athletic,” Benny answered. “He probably jogs before work. I like my sleep.”
“More for me, then. You good here?”

    Benny gave an exaggerated sweep of the completely empty booth. Expensive bronze statues weren’t exactly a huge draw, and the hundred-degree heat wasn’t helping business any. “I think I can hold down the crowds.”

    Chris clipped the foxtail to the back of his Daisy Duke jean shorts, tucked in his skin-tight white tank top, and grabbed Benny’s hat off his head. “Later then. Besos!” He hurried after the man on roller skates.

    Benny backed deeper into the shadows of the canvas-sided booth. Dry heat or not, the sun burned through the thin mountain air, and even Benny’s olive skin would burn in no time. He checked his watch. Jay-Cee had said he’d be back after the parade to give Benny a break. Judging by the upsurge in sweaty, rainbow-drenched people wandering through the Civic Center Park, the parade had ended.

    The music had started again. The ever-present bass thumping was so much a part of the day that Benny felt it in his veins more than heard it.

    He people-watched idly from the shadows. The event drew all types, from crowds of young women with smiley-face pasties in lieu of shirts, to grey-haired couples holding hands, to presumably straight families with kids out being allies and enjoying the day.

    One such family caught Benny’s eye as they stopped where every single other family had stopped the entire two days of the festival: at the air-conditioned kitten adoption booth. Okay, to be completely honest, it was mostly the dad who’d caught Benny’s eye.

    A tall African-American man with long black dreadlocks pulled back into a low ponytail, wearing fitted dark blue jeans and a white-t-shirt, he was exactly the kind of man Benny liked. Not that he had anything against the hot pants and roller skate crowd. He’d been with many a guy who looked like that, and if you couldn’t get your freak on at Pride, where could you? But if asked with a gun to his head if he had a type, Benny would have to say yes. And Mr. Tall, Dark, and Straight over there was definitely it.

    Even with a gun to his head, Benny would never admit that he had always wanted children of his own. Something about knowing that this guy was a dad made him extra sexy. He couldn’t tell if the kid was a boy or a girl. You never could be sure with small children and especially at a Pride event. Let’s go with a girl; not like he’d ever have to worry about insulting her to her face. Her dreads were left loose around her face, and rainbow wings and a rainbow tutu embellished her tiny dark jeans and white t-shirts.

    The kid and her stylish-looking mom walked into the Plexiglas-fronted booth. Mr. Unobtainable stayed outside for a second. He raised his arms up, giving Benny front row seats to the gun show, and lifted the heavy hair off his neck with a sigh Benny heard from across the path. The way he blew the air out of his pursed lips gave Benny a funny feeling in his bathing suit area. It also reminded him of something or someone. Someone he couldn’t place, but damn it felt familiar.

    Maybe he should let Chris try to find him a hook up for tonight. Bad enough he would be the only sober queer in the village, he didn’t have to be celibate as well. It would be nice to celebrate night 287 of sobriety with someone. (He always counted nights. Days were easy. Facing the nights sober was the hard part.)

    The crowd blocked his view for a moment. The parade was definitely over, and the people needed overpriced drinks and honey-lavender artisan ice cream. Benny wasn’t judging; that ice cream was the bomb.

    The hottie with the body across the way met Benny’s eyes through a break in the crowd.
Damn, but the guy looked familiar. Could Benny have slept with a guy that hot and forgotten it? Now that would be a shame. But he hadn’t been black-out drunk since moving to Colorado, so he was pretty sure he would have remembered.

    Before he could get a handle on the memory, the guy’s family came out of the booth - without a kitten - and dragged him down the path. Benny watched them until they got lost in the crowd.

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  • Paper Roses

    Title: Paper Roses
    Series: Veterans Affairs #4
    Pages: 130

    First comes love, then comes marriage. Assuming you survive the wedding.

    Mikey Washington really does want to be married.The whole thing had been his idea in the first place. So maybe “Do you want to marry me or not, pendejo?” wasn’t the world’s most romantic proposal, but Mikey had meant every word of it. Besides, Benny Quintaña had been making Mikey crazy since they were twelve-years-old. Mikey was used to it. So why did planning this wedding feel like facing a firing squad?

    When Benny had asked Mikey to marry him, Mikey’s answer had been “I’m going to fucking kill you.”  “Is that a yes?” Benny had asked. He liked to be clear on things. 

    “Yeah, for real, even though you’re an idiot,” Mikey had answered. That sounded like true love to Benny. So why does Benny have the feeling Mikey has one foot out the door?

    Bonus Honeymoon in Puerta Vallarta chapters included! (You knew they'd make it, right?)

    This m/m romance does a fantastic job of giving a glimpse of the dynamics between two charismatic men who complement each other beautifully. Despite not being familiar with the series, I was instantly drawn into the story and cared about the characters immediately. The poignant moments and gradual revelation of the characters' backgrounds are done deftly and I love that there is a balance between the emotionally-laden scenes and lighter humorous moments. There is delicious heat between the guys, and precious moments involving their daughter as well as the canines in their lives. There is a lot packed into this short story, with glimpses of fascinating folks who undoubtedly starred in previous titles in the series, yet I was not overwhelmed by an avalanche of details. Instead, I am intrigued about the rest of the stories and have added a new name to my want-to-read list!

    Amazon Reviewer

    Weak winter sun slipped through the mini blinds on the single high window in the corner of Mikey Washington’s office. The cement brick walls absorbed light and heat equally. Floor to ceiling bookcases filled with blue 3-ring-binders lined two of the walls. Mikey’s desk crouched under the window and cold winter air seeped through the glass, chilling his fingers. Mikey wedged the receiver of his desk phone between his shoulder and ear, punched in a number, and opened his planner while he waited for someone to answer.

    “Gaslight restaurant. How can we help you?”
Knowing full well he was on a fool’s errand, Mikey launched into the conversation he’d had twice already that morning. One Maître d’ had actually laughed at him. “Okay. Hello. Yeah. I’m trying to see if you have availability for a private party on either of these weekends in February. I know it’s short notice, but I was hoping because it was a slow time of year. Well, not Valentine’s Day obviously. About twenty people, maximum. We don’t need a private room, just a corner. Yeah. I know. Okay. Well here’s my number. Can you give me a call if anything opens up?”

    Hanging up, he crossed The Gaslight off his list of possible venues. That was the third place he had called today and the third place that had no openings. He laced his fingers behind his neck and lifted his heavy dreadlocks up letting the cold air slip underneath it. If he’d had more time that morning, he would have braided the whole thing up, but Jasmine had wanted her hair done before preschool. As Second-Dad-in-Charge, Benny could pick up a lot of slack in the morning, but he didn’t know a thing about doing black hair. He was going to have to learn.

    Looking at the list of things he had to do for their wedding, Mikey groaned and shut his planner as if that would make the tasks go away. This whole wedding thing was Benny’s idea. If it were up to him, they’d be down at the courthouse with his sister Vanessa and Benny’s best friend Chris as witnesses. They’d have lunch someplace nice, and it would be done. Over. No muss, no fuss.

    Why did he always let Benny talk him into things?

    Oh, right. His stupid face. Whenever he flashed Mikey that stupid grin and his stupidly gorgeous brown eyes crinkled up with laugh lines, all of Mikey’s higher brain functions shut down. Just the same as they had done back in high school, way before Mikey had quite realized why he was so susceptible to Benny’s cajoling. Benito Quintana had been behind every bad decision Mikey had ever made.

    Okay, maybe that was a little harsh. But at least three-quarters of them. Proposing had been all Mikey though. In his defense, he had been under a lot of pressure and Benny had been sitting there all sad and scared in the hospital bed and all Mikey had wanted to do was take him home, tuck him under his arm, and take care of him. Forever. So what else was he supposed to do but ask Benny to marry him? He still thought being married was a good idea. The wedding on the other hand…

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  • Bronze Star

    Title: Bronze Star
    Series: Veterans Affairs #5
    Genre:
    Pages: 300

    Rich, beautiful, and talented, Chris Dobbs is used to getting what he wants, and what he wants now is his dangerously handsome and intensely private boss, former Army Ranger, Jay-Cee.

    Everything about the tightly-controlled, brooding artist drives Chris to knees in more ways than one, ways Chris realizes he’s always craved but never understood. He needs to know how Jay-Cee does it.

    When Chris smashes through all of Jay-Cee’s hard-earned control, Chris learns that while giving Jay-Cee his body and his submission is as simple as breathing, Jay-Cee wants things Chris can never give him - his heart, his soul, and his trust.

    Jay-Cee offered his brilliant young protégé everything, let him see parts of himself Jay-Cee had buried long ago in the mountains of Afghanistan. In return, Chris took only the pieces he wanted and rejected the rest, leaving Jay-Cee reeling.

    Both haunted by their pasts, the deep connection holds the promise of healing for both of them, but if they are to build a sanctuary from the rubble of their broken hearts, they are going to have to risk losing everything.

    This is such a wonderful and heartwarming story. Chris and Jay-Cee each seem to have just the very thing the other one needs to fill them up and given them a more complete life. Each man has made a life for himself and worked on their own set of issues. I enjoyed the real struggle they had in developing their relationship with each other. This was a wonderful and satisfying read.

    Katy Beth

    I made it to 80% before I had to throw in the towel. Just way, way, way too much angst for me.

    Gigi on Goodreads

    Chris circled the table, critically examining the collection of bronze statues crowding the space. Cold to the hand even in the sweltering heat of the studio, the metal cast a warm glow over his pale skin as he inspected each statue. Sun streaming through the high windows picked out the highlights on his platinum blond hair and threw sparks off the metal bars in the cartilage of his ear as he went around and around. A heavy metal lightning bolt pendant swung from a chain around his neck.

    Leaving the table, he paced over to the group of life-size bronze nudes standing near the door. He ran a hand appreciatively over Hermes’ perfect chest and Apollo’s firm buttocks, threading his way carefully between them.

    “When you’re done feeling up my sculptures, want to help me wrap them up?” Jay-Cee’s quiet voice rumbled from a dim corner.

    Chris had known he was there; had felt the sculptor’s eyes on him ever since he pulled off his sweaty t-shirt. The temperature outside had been climbing steadily all day, creeping over a hundred degrees by late afternoon. Even Jay-Cee had given in, unclipping the strap of his overalls and letting the soft denim hang down from his waist.

    Jay-Cee stepped into the rectangle of light on the gray cement floor. His sweat- and clay-stained white t-shirt clung to his chest, and Chris could make out the faint colored patterns of the tattoos underneath it. 
He’d often wondered if Jay-Cee’s clothes covered more tattoos to match the one that started on Jay-Cee’s neck and cascaded over his shoulder and arms to his scarred knuckles.

    “Seems a pity to cover them up,” Chris said, fingers trailing down the curved muscles of the statue nearest him. The nervous energy sparking up and down his spine drove him, and he flitted from statue to statue and then back to the table.

    “Chris,” Jay-Cee said, the one word heavy with meaning.

    Chris’s next pass around the table took him within inches of where Jay-Cee stood, and he slowed to a stop. Jay-Cee stood silently in front of him, and Chris felt a different kind of heat filling up the space between them now. He didn’t even try to hide his appraisal as he took in the man who was his boss, but could be so much more if he would let Chris in. 
He knew Jay-Cee was attracted to him; he didn’t particularly hide it. He’d never acted on it, and Chris hadn’t pushed it, so they stayed in this precarious stalemate.

    Everything about Jay-Cee was perfect in Chris’s eyes, from his thick silver hair to the short beard Chris would give anything to feel rubbing against his thighs, to the wiry muscles of his arms. The twenty year age gap only added to his perfection. 
Chris had experienced more in his twenty-two hard years than most people ever did and a lot of it was bad. In Jay-Cee’s eyes, Chris thought he saw a shared pain, and he wanted Jay-Cee to tell him how he’d survived it; to tell him how Chris could survive it, too.

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