Category Archives: Carina Press

Review: In the Raw by Nikka Michaels & Eileen Griffin

in rawTitle: In the Raw by Nikka Michaels & Eileen Griffin
In the Kitchen Miniseries Book One
Publisher: Carina Press
Genre: Contemporary, Erotic, M/M, Romance, New Adult
Word Count: 83,000
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


If you can’t take the heat…

James Lassiter has had a crush on fellow culinary student Ethan Martin for three years, but has never had the guts to make a move. Putting himself out there is hard, especially when under the thumb–and wallet–of his overbearing parents. Now that bad boy chef Ethan–who is always vying with Jamie for best in class–is struggling with the pastry course, Jamie suddenly has a reason to reach out.

Ethan doesn’t mean to be an ass–okay, so mostly he does–but even though he’s secretly hot for Jamie, he sure as hell doesn’t want help with pastry. Ever since his dad walked out, Ethan has been the one to hold things together and he’s done fine on his own. Except that he can’t get his cake to rise.

Jamie could be the answer to what Ethan’s been missing his whole life–someone to depend on. But with the two competing for the same scholarship, things suddenly get too hot to handle. And if Jamie finds the strength to go for what he wants, he isn’t about to settle for what he needs.

83,000 words

The Review:

In the Raw by Nikka Michaels and Eileen Griffin is a wonderful first installment in their In the Kitchen miniseries. This first novel in the series introduces culinary students Ethan Martin and James “Jamie” Lassiter and the rather tumultuous beginning of their romance. It is a sweet, sexy and sometimes exasperating read, but the growth of the characters makes all of the frustration worthwhile.

Jamie and Ethan are locked in a fierce battle for a cooking scholarship but this does not lessen their attraction to one another. Ethan has the edge when it comes to regular cooking but baking is definitely not his forte. Jamie is good at both cooking and baking, but he does not have the creative flair that makes Ethan stand out from the other chefs-in-training. When Ethan reluctantly accepts Jamie’s offer to help tutor him in baking, the two are quickly cooking up more than just éclairs but will their insecurities derail their fledgling romance?

Jamie and Ethan are from completely different backgrounds which is more of a problem for Ethan than Jamie. Ethan is working class and he is working hard to pay for not only his tuition, but his sister Claire’s as well. He is used to taking care of others and he is proud of all that he has accomplished. He is confident of his cooking abilities, but he is also temperamental and a tad judgmental. But Ethan’s biggest weaknesses are his stubbornness and his inability to ask for or accept help.

Since Jamie’s family is wealthy, he does not have any financial worries. Unfortunately, his parents are very conservative, quite controlling and they have his future all mapped out for him. Jamie is under increasing pressure to abandon his degree, join the family business and settle down with a woman of their choosing.  When Jamie is forced to admit his sexuality, his parents issue him an ultimatum but will Jamie follow his heart and his dreams?

In the Raw is a rollercoaster of emotions as Jamie and Ethan work through their respective baggage. They are quick to make assumptions about one another and lack of communication is one of their biggest obstacles. Ethan finds it easier to avoid problems than face them head on, but thankfully his sister Claire calls him on it. Ethan and Jamie’s road to happily ever after takes a lot of detours and Nikka Michaels and Eileen Griffin throw yet another roadblock in their path with a cliffhanger-y ending that will leave readers very anxious for the next book in the In the Kitchen miniseries.

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Filed under Carina Press, Contemporary, Eileen Griffin, Erotic, In the Kitchen Miniseries, In the Raw, M/M, New Adult, Nikka Michaels, Rated B, Review, Romance

Review: Love on the Boardwalk by Christi Barth

boardwalkTitle: Love on the Boardwalk by Christi Barth
Publisher: Carina Press
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Word Count: 51,000
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Author


Atlantic City is the perfect place for detective Bradley Hudson to nurse his broken heart. A week of beer and strippers is sure to erase his former fiancée from his memory for good. What he didn’t count on was running into a sassy redhead from his past. Maybe a rebound romp is an even better plan…

Trina Trimble, private eye in training, is thrilled to be reunited with the hottie she almost hooked up with last summer. She’s undercover on her first solo case, but there’s always time to lock lips with a sexy cop. Besides, a fun fling with Brad doesn’t have to last beyond his week in town.

Brad and Trina are supposed to be just flirting, not forging a new forever. Brad’s still healing, and although Trina changes careers the way other women change shoes, she has finally found her calling in her new life of disguises and stakeouts. But when an irresistible job offer threatens to lure her away, Brad will need to decide to let her go or bet it all on love and risk his heart again.

The Review:

Love on the Boardwalk by Christi Barth is a very cute, lighthearted romance set in Atlantic City. This easy to read sequel to Love at High Tide features the characters introduced in the previous novel, but it can be read as a standalone.

Brad Hudson is in Atlantic City trying forget that he should be on his honeymoon when he recognizes Trina Trimble in a very unlikely place. Trina is working undercover in a strip club for a private investigator and she too is pretty surprised when she is recognized by her best friend’s boyfriend’s hot cousin. A walk on the beach eventually leads to sizzling vacation fling but can their attraction lead to something more permanent when Brad and Trina go back home?

Trina and Brad could not be more different but this is what makes them a great couple. Brad is a by the book cop while Trina is a pretty footloose and fancy free. Both have a few things weighing on their minds and their different perspectives are very helpful when it comes to making some much needed decisions. They each appreciate the difference in their personalities and while Trina helps Brad loosen up, Brad’s input is invaluable when it comes to Trina’s future. Trina is full of enthusiasm but her fun loving attitude makes her character feel a little superficial. Brad is much more serious and the issues that he is dealing with provide him with the emotional depth that Trina lacks.

Love on the Boardwalk is a fun romance that is delightfully entertaining. Trina and Brad are engaging characters and their love story is flirty and full of sexual tension. A little bit of intrigue energizes the plot and infuses Trina with some much needed confidence. Christi Barth perfectly wraps up the story with a wonderfully romantic conclusion.

All in all, Love on the Boardwalk is a lovely feel good story that fans of contemporary romance are sure to enjoy!


Filed under Carina Press, Christi Barth, Contemporary, Love on the Boardwalk, Rated B, Review, Romance

Review: Secrets of Neverwood Anthology

neverwoodTitle: Secrets of Neverwood by G.B. Lindsey, Diana Copland and Libby Drew
Publisher: Carina Press
Genre: Contemporary, M/M, Erotic, Paranormal (ghost), Romance
Word Count: 166,000
Book Rating:B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


Three foster brothers are called home to Neverwood, the stately Pacific Northwest mansion of their youth. They have nothing in common but a promise to Audrey, the woman they all called mother–that upon her death, they would restore the house and preserve it as a home for troubled boys.

But going home is never easy.

Cal struggles to recover from past heartbreak, while Danny fears his mistakes are too big to overcome. Devon believes he may never break down the barriers that separate him from honest emotion.

On the path to brotherhood, they discover the old mansion holds more than dusty furniture and secret passageways. Audrey’s spirit still walks its halls, intent on guiding “her boys” toward true love, and an old mystery stirs up a new danger–one that could cost the men far more than just the house.

Secrets of Neverwood includes:

One Door Closes by G.B. Lindsey

The Growing Season by Diana Copland

The Lost Year by Libby Drew

166,000 words

Stories also available for purchase separately.

The Review:

The Secrets of Neverwood anthology is an outstanding novel about three foster brothers who return to their childhood home after their foster mother Audrey passes away and leaves them her estate. Consisting of three novels written by three different authors, each story focuses on a different brother as they work through their personal issues and find love while struggling to restore the dilapidated mansion so they can continue Audrey’s legacy of helping troubled boys.

One Door Opens by G.B. Lindsey
Word Count: 59,000
Book Rating: B

The Secrets of Neverwood anthology begins with G.B. Lindsey’s One Door Closes. Calvin “Cal” Ware kept in close touch with Audrey and in the aftermath of her death, he is overwhelmed by the financial burden of renovating the rundown Victorian home. Adding to Cal’s stress are his strained relationships with his foster brothers, and his renewed acquaintance with his first love, Will Cabot.

One Door Closes is written from Cal’s perspective but he is not an easy character to get to know. He is haunted by his unresolved relationship with Will and he finds it virtually impossible to talk about anything in his past, including the reasons surrounding their break-up. Cal’s secrets are alluded to on numerous occasions, but nothing concrete is revealed until nearly the very end of the story.

Cal’s interactions with his foster brothers are tense and often overshadowed by some of his bitterness for past events. He finds it difficult to ask them for help and since both men are as close-mouthed as Cal is, he has no idea what their intentions are regarding their inheritance. The tension between the men continues to mount until Cal’s resentment leads to a much needed discussion about the future of the house.

Both the paranormal and romantic elements of One Door Closes are understated for much of the novel. Audrey’s ghostly appearances are vague in the beginning and the reasons for her visits remain unclear until the story’s conclusion. Cal and Will eventually rekindle their teenage romance but this does not occur until very late in the book.

G.B. Lindsey’s One Door Closes is a fabulous introduction to the Secrets of Neverwood anthology. I am very intrigued by the glimpses of Cal’s foster brothers and I am very much anticipating their stories.

The Growing Season by Diana Copland
Word Count: 53,000
Book Rating: B+

The Secrets of Neverwood anthology continues in Diana Copland’s The Growing Season. Daniel “Danny” Redmond is the youngest of the foster brothers and he left Neverwood four years earlier and found nothing but heartache when he was betrayed by the man he thought he loved. Deeply saddened by Audrey’s death, Danny feels closest to her when working in the gardens they both loved and his role in the renovations is restoring the grounds to its former beauty.

Danny’s relationship with his foster brothers has improved, but he is quick to jump to conclusions with landscape architect Sam Ignatius’s unexpected arrival. Although the situation is quickly smoothed over, their relationship is uneasy and complicated by Danny’s unanticipated attraction to Sam.   Like his brothers, Danny has a painful history that he finds impossible to discuss and his unresolved issues quickly come between him and Sam.

In The Growing Season, the paranormal and romantic aspects of the storyline are much more prevalent.   Danny is comforted by Audrey’s presence and she takes on a much larger role in the men’s efforts to keep Neverwood.   The romance between Sam and Danny grows steadily throughout the story and it is an absolute joy watching love blossom between the two men.

The Growing Season by Diana Copland is a superb addition to the Secrets of Neverwood anthology. Although this story primarily focuses on Danny and Sam, glimpses into his brothers’ lives reveal how the changes in their personal lives are having a positive effect on their relationship as well.

The Lost Year by Libby Drew
Word Count: 54,000
Book Rating: B+

The Secrets of Neverwood anthology concludes with Libby Drew’s The Lost Year. Devon McCade is the oldest foster brother and he is definitely the most enigmatic of the three. Although he kept in touch with Audrey over the years through letters, he never returned to Neverwood after he left. While Devon is behind the renovation 100 percent, his career as a photojournalist requires frequently travel. Returning home after his most recent assignment, Nicholas Hardy asks for Devon’s help in locating his runaway son, Robbie.

The Lost Year is a little different than the other stories in the anthology since some of Devon’s story takes place away from Neverwood. He and Nicholas form a close bond during their search for Robbie, but both view their relationship as short term. Surprisingly, although he tends to be emotionally distant, Devon falls hard for Nicholas but he remains very wary of opening up and letting Nicholas completely into his life.

Like his foster brothers, Devon is still struggling to put his painful past behind him. He was one of Audrey’s first (and most difficult) foster children and she felt his loss the most keenly. The reasons behind his behavior and departure are deeply rooted in his dysfunctional childhood and it explains much about Devon, including his career choice. While his relationship with his brothers is much improved, the fact that he is not at Neverwood full time is still cause for uncertainty and they are very wary of his involvement with Nicholas and Robbie.

As with The Growing Season, the paranormal portion of the storyline is much more pronounced in The Lost Year. Each of the brothers experiences their encounters with Audrey’s ghost differently and her role in the storyline increases along with their fight to keep Neverwood out of the hands of an unscrupulous developer. The conclusion of this story arc is rather dramatic and extremely satisfying!

The Lost Year by Libby Drew is a marvelous conclusion to the Secrets of Neverwood anthology. It is well worth the wait to uncover all of Devon’s longheld secrets but it is watching him fall in love that is so incredibly gratifying.

Secrets of Neverwood is a wonderful collection of stories that is written by three very talented authors. Their writing styles are unique and quite distinct, but each of the brothers’ stories seamlessly flows from book to book. Each novel stands on its own and concentrates on an individual brother as he triumphs over his past and falls in love. But to fully appreciate the transformation of the three foster brothers and their relationship, I highly recommend reading all three books in the anthology.




Filed under Carina Press, Contemporary, Diana Copland, Erotic, GB Lindsey, Libby Drew, M/M, Paranormal, Rated B+, Review, Romance, Secrets of Neverwood

Review: No Such Thing by A.M. Arthur

thingTitle: No Such Thing by A.M. Arthur
Publisher: Carina Press
Genre: Contemporary, Erotic, M/M, Romance
Length: 67,000 words
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Author


Twenty-two-year-old Alessandro Silva knows that returning to tiny Perch Creek to help his foster mother was the right thing to do. With no degree and a delinquent’s reputation, he’s lucky to have landed a job waiting tables. But not everyone is happy he’s back, and the only thing keeping his move home from being a total bust is his boss’s hot brother.

Jaime Winters spent most of his life watching the world go by, first from a series of hospitals and then from behind big stacks of textbooks. Studying is easier than facing the fact that years of heart failure means he’s still a virgin at twenty-three. Until the new waiter in his sister’s diner awakens desires he’d long ago given up on.

The last thing Alessandro wants is to fall for someone as fragile as Jaime. And Jaime may have a new heart, but he’s scared of what giving it to another person would mean. Their no-strings-attached, instructional approach to sex keeps emotion safely at bay, until a secret from Alessandro’s past forces them to confront their feelings in the present…

67,000 words

The Review:

A.M. Arthur’s No Such Thing is an incredibly charming love story between two young men whose lives have not always been easy. Alessandro Silva has overcome the most and I love how he was able to leave his bad boy past behind once he graduated high school. He could not wait to leave the small town of Perch Creek behind, but when his foster mom needs his help, he drops everything to move back in with her. Jaime Winters’s precarious health kept him from a normal childhood and by the time he was in high school, his health had deteriorated to the point he was mostly housebound. Now with a new lease on life, Jaime has a lot of living to catch up on, and after a little nudge from his sister Shannon, he and Alessandro are soon involved in a very hot “friends with benefits” relationship.

Alessandro has come a long way from his rebellious teenage years and although he sometimes feels he does not quite measure up to Jaime, he does not let his past define him. His generous and loving heart just shines through with his scenes with his foster mom and foster siblings. Trying to help his younger foster brother escape the heartache he went through, he uses his previous experiences to help guide their sometimes complicated relationship.

Living in a larger city provided Alessandro the opportunity to fully explore his sexuality and he is the perfect man to teach Jaime everything he wants to know about sex. A little awkward and a lot uncertain but always enthusiastic, Jaime willingly follows Alessandro’s lead in the bedroom and oh my goodness, their sex scenes are incredibly hot but also very touching.

Strong family ties, appealing characters and super steamy sex scenes make No Such Thing a must read for fans of contemporary m/m romances. This mostly lighthearted read has just a hint of drama and the conclusion of Alessandro and Jaime’s story is quite heartwarming. My fingers are crossed they’ll make a guest appearance in A.M. Arthur’s next book in this delightful series.

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Filed under AM Arthur, Carina Press, Contemporary, Erotic, M/M, No Such Thing, Rated B, Review, Romance

Review: Paradox Lost by Libby Drew

paradoxTitle: Paradox Lost by Libby Drew
Publisher: Carina Press
Genre: Sci-Fi, Time Travel, Futuristic, Erotic, M/M, Romance
Word Count: 84,000
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Author


Time-travel tour guide Reegan McNamara’s job–taking eager tourists to whenever they want to go–is usually a breeze. A trip back to 2020 to watch a world-changing speech seems no different, until a woman runs away from his tour group before the jump home. Now her tycoon husband is demanding her safe return–or Reegan will lose more than just his job.

P.I. Saul Kildare’s business is running on borrowed time. Due to a messy break with the police, he can’t get a referral to save his life. When an enigmatic stranger bangs on his door one night and promises a windfall for a missing-person case, it seems too good to be true. But the two men have an immediate connection, and Saul can’t pass up the chance to spend more time with Reegan, even if he’s clearly hiding something.

Saul knows he shouldn’t trust Reegan, and Reegan knows he can’t get involved with Saul. But as their attraction evolves into feelings neither can deny, will they have the strength to take a leap of faith–together?

84,000 words

The Review:

As a general rule, I do not read sci fi or futuristic stories but I just had to make an exception for Libby Drew’s newest release. A big fan of both time travel novels and Ms. Drew, I eagerly devoured Paradox Lost. With plenty of action, a bit of mystery and an incredibly steamy romance, this futuristic adventure is sure to be a hit with readers of male/male fiction.

Reegan McNamara escorts a group of time travelers back in time a little over 100 years to 2020 for a historic presidential speech. He has a bit of history with one of his travelers, Silvia Panitierre, and something about her puts him on high alert. He keeps a close eye on her once they travel back in time yet she vanishes when he is momentarily distracted. With his job on the line and Silvia’s angry and powerful husband waiting in the wings, Reegan enlists the aid of private investigator Saul Kildare to help him track down his wayward charge.

Reegan is a fabulous character and as someone who loves history, I was jealous of his ability to journey back in time 🙂 On the surface, he seems to have an enviable life-he has a lucrative career he loves and the modern conveniences he takes for granted are simply ingenious! But Reegan’s position at Blast in the Past Time Travel Tours is precarious and leaving Silvia behind is simply not an option.

Saul is also a great character and of the two, he is the most flawed. He has been in a downward spiral since the loss of his job on the police force. He is also crippled with guilt about the circumstances surrounding a personal loss and he is struggling to maintain his sobriety. Reegan’s case is a welcome diversion for an unhappy anniversary and although skeptical, he is soon immersed in the missing persons case.

The case soon takes an ominous and perilous turn when Saul and Reegan discover that they are not the only ones hunting for Silvia. They are quickly enmeshed in pulse pounding and exciting chases as they outwit the nefarious thugs that are hot on their trail. They are also in a race against time to avoid the dangers that could befall both Reegan and Silvia due to their time travel.

In between following leads and evading foes, Saul and Reegan find time to explore their unexpected attraction. There is plenty of sexual tension between them and with little free time, their sexual encounters are brief but incredibly hot. Although their sex scenes are quick, they are highly sensual and exquisitely detailed.

I typically read historical time travel novels so it was quite fascinating to delve into the futuristic world created by Ms. Drew. The changes and inventions are realistic and easy to envision. The whole time travel concept is always intriguing and I appreciated the creativity that went into creating a believable explanation for traveling to different historical eras and places. I also liked that there could be negative consequences attributed to trips back to the past and into the future.

Paradox Lost is an all around terrific read with a marvelous cast of characters, an incredibly unique storyline and amazing creativity. I honestly had no idea how two men who live in completely different eras were going to find their happily ever after, but I should not have been concerned. The ending is absolutely perfect and all of the loose ends are neatly wrapped up. If you are not reading Libby Drew then you are missing out an unbelievably versatile and gifted author.


Filed under Carina Press, Erotic, Futuristic, Libby Drew, Paradox Lost, Rated B+, Review, Romance, Sci Fi, Time Travel

Review: Forbidden Obsessions by Jodie Griffin

Title: Forbidden Obsessions by Jodie Griffin
Bondage & Breakfast Series Book Four
Publisher: Carina Press
Genre: Contemporary, Erotic, Romance, BDSM
Word Count: 55,000
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Author


Book four of Bondage & Breakfast

Bondage & Breakfast was a safe place for couples to explore BDSM–until an arsonist almost destroyed it. While the inn is closed for repairs, owner Gabe McConnell allows injured firefighter Olivia Watterson to stay and recover as a favor to a mutual friend. His attraction to her is unexpected and intense–but there’s no way she’s strong enough for the type of play he demands from a sub.

When she arrives at the inn, Liv is shocked–and intrigued. Her unanticipated obsession with the sexy, skilled Dom makes her all the more impatient with her slow recuperation. Even more frustrating is the way Gabe handles her like fragile glass, and she’s determined to prove she’s anything but by pushing her body to the limit.

Holding back should be easy for Gabe, but the more Liv challenges his limits, the more he craves her, body, mind and heart…

Want more Bondage& Breakfast? Check out Forbidden Fantasies, available now!

55,000 words

The Review:

In Forbidden Obsessions, the fourth book in Jodie Griffin’s sizzling BDSM series Bondage & Breakfast, it is B&B owner Gabe McConnell’s turn to find love. This über sexy and very intense Dom meets his match in Olivia Watterson but their clashes about her recuperation threaten to derail their newfound relationship.

Needing a reprieve from her well-meaning but overbearing mother, Olivia gratefully escapes to Gabe’s B&B to continue her recovery from a very serious accident. With little knowledge of the BDSM lifestyle, she is a slightly uncomfortable but very intrigued by Gabe and the B&B. Olivia is also very surprised by her desire to submit to Gabe’s domination and while she is a little hesitant, she is also eager to explore the passion between them. Their encounters are fraught with sexual tension as Gabe demands Olivia’s submission and trust as he slowly introduces her to BDSM play.

His relationship with Olivia is new territory for Gabe. He prides himself on his ability to tightly control any situation and his emotions but his explorations with Olivia continually challenge his limits. He is naturally caring and quite nurturing, but he is overly cautious where Olivia is concerned and she is often frustrated by his overbearing attitude. Fearing Gabe will never see her as the strong, healthy and capable woman she is, Olivia is quickly at wit’s end and she ends their explorations.

In the beginning of Forbidden Obsessions, Olivia and Gabe share an easygoing friendship that is underscored by mutual attraction. They quickly embark on a sexual journey that is a push/pull of desire and emotion for both Olivia and Gabe. Olivia is a strong woman and she does not meekly submit to Gabe. She is sometimes fighting herself as much as she is Gabe but she always stands her ground with Gabe when she needs to.

Forbidden Obsessions is another outstanding addition to the Bondage & Breakfast series. Jodie Griffin continues to keep the series fresh with innovative and interesting plotlines. The characters are refreshingly unique and easy to relate to as they explore their innermost, naughty desires.

As with previous works in the series, Forbidden Obsessions can be read as a standalone story.

Please click HERE to read my reviews of the first two books in the Bondage & Breakfast series.

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Filed under BDSM, Bondage & Breakfast Series, Carina Press, Contemporary, Forbidden Obsessions, Jodie Griffin, Rated B, Review, Romance