Hello! Things have been busy around here as the summer wraps up and I’m getting the kids ready to go back to school. There is still time to read, though! I have some great contemporary romances this week, ranging from fluffy sweetness to dark and dangerous.

What Erin is Reading

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All Note Long, Annabeth Albert

Michelin Moses is a country music star on the rise. With a hit single under his Texas-sized belt buckle and a sold-out concert tour underway, his childhood dreams of making it big are finally coming true. But there’s one thing missing—a promise to his dying mother that he’d find it—him—when the time was right. With a little luck, he won’t have to wait too long . . .

Lucky Ramirez is a hunky boy toy who dances at The Broom Closet, one of West Hollywood’s hottest gay bars. He loves what he does, and he’s good at it—almost as good as he is at playing dumb when he spots Michelin Moses at the bar. What happens next is off the charts—and keeps Michelin coming back for more. He’s just not sure it’s the right move for his career. But if Lucky gets his way, Michelin will get Lucky—and no matter how the media spins it, neither of them will be faking it . . .

This book is the conclusion of her Perfect Harmony series, and the first one that doesn’t revolve around a reality show. We finally get Michelin Moses’ story, the elusive rock star-turned country star who we’ve seen mentoring the heroes of the past two books. Michelin is deeply closeted due to his immense popularity in the Bible Belt/country world. Again, Albert takes a trope that has been done quite a bit in m/m and makes it work. Michelin is outed after a moment of indiscretion with Lucky, a nightclub dancer. Michelin and Lucky have to pretend to be in a serious relationship to mitigate the publicity backlash. Lucky doesn’t want to give up his privacy and his own ambitions, and Michelin is desperately trying to hang on to his life as it was before.

As I said, the outing trope works well, but I somehow didn’t quite buy into the relationship itself. Lucky and Michelin spend a lot of the book in emotionally very different places, and despite the fact that I like the author and I love the tropes, the book never really came together in a way that worked for me. To be fair, I was fairly stressed out when I read the book, so that might be coloring my perception of it.


Love on My Mind, Tracey Livesay

Successful PR executive Chelsea Grant is one assignment away from making partner at her firm and nothing will stand in her way. Her big break? Turn a reclusive computer genius into a media darling in time for his new product launch. He may have been dubbed the “sexiest geek alive” but he has no patience for the press—and it shows. Piece of cake, right? Only problem is… his company doesn’t want him to know they hired her.

After a disastrous product launch two years ago, tech CEO Adam Bennett knows the success of his new device depends on the media’s support. When a twist of fate brings the beautiful PR specialist to his door, Adam hires Chelsea to help turn his image around. Their attraction is undeniable and the more time they spend together, the harder it becomes to keep things professional.

But when Adam discovers Chelsea’s deception, will she risk everything for her career or is love the real thing on her mind?

I enjoyed the crap out of this book! The trope of one character having a big, awful secret that would devastate the other isn’t my favorite. And to be fair, I spent a good part of the book reading through my fingers, waiting for the other shoe to drop. However, Livesay’s characters are fresh, bright, and well-drawn. Even though Chelsea is deceiving Adam, she has really good reasons for doing so, and Livesay builds her character with a background where her actions make sense.

And Adam? *fans self* Adam is hot, intimidating, brilliant, and hates messy feelings. He is suuuuuch a great hero. I love him. He has Asperger’s Syndrome, a fact that he conceals from all but the closest to him. He’s built an empire and doesn’t want his competition to sense any weakness in him or his company.

Chelsea and Adam have phenomenal chemistry and a sweet romance. I enjoy all the other characters she introduces, and I’m so excited for the next books in the series. (The next one is a secret baby book!!! I love a good secret baby book.) I believe that Livesay is a relatively new writer, and I’m going to be honest, her writing does at times feel a little rough around the edges. However, her strong characters and excellent instincts made me fall right into the book and not want to get out.


PRE-RELEASE REVIEW!

Burn Down the Night, M. O’Keefe

The only thing that matters to me is rescuing my sister from the drug-cooking cult that once enslaved us both. I’ve run cons my whole life, and I’ll use my body to get whatever I need. Max Daniels is the last connection I have to that world, the one person reckless enough to get involved. Besides, now that his brothers have turned on him, he needs me too.
 
The deal was supposed to be simple: a place to hide in exchange for rescuing my sister. Now he’s my prisoner. Totally at my mercy. But I’m the one captivated. Enthralled. Doing everything he asks of me until I’m not sure who’s in control.
 
We both crave the heat. The more it hurts, the better. But what if Max wants a different life now, to leave the game . . . to love me? I thought I knew better than to get burned. Now I’m in too deep to pull away. And the crazy thing is . . . I don’t want to.


I am such a Molly O’Keefe fan. I love everything she writes, and this is no exception. This book would make a lot more sense if you read the first two books in the series, but can be read as a standalone. Joan, the fearless and tough stripper from
Everything I Left Unsaid kidnaps an injured Max Daniels, an MC president with a price on his head. She drags them both, her desperate and him dying, down to a retirement community in Florida. Her plan is to use him to save her sister, but it ends up getting more complicated than that, and her feelings get in the way.

Like all M O’Keefe books, this book will either work for you or it won’t. Her writing is brilliant, intense, and claustrophobic. Max and Joan’s connection is twisted and intense — he hates her for kidnapping him, she sees him as a means to an end — but ultimately, these very damaged people find their way to each other. So much of the book is spent in a dark place, physically and psychologically, that the tentative hope and eventual HFN feels like taking a deep breath at the end of the book.

This story is explosively hot, dark, and compelling. I love how Joan’s bisexuality was discussed, shown, and not dismissed. I absolutely adore the characters in the retirement community, and I really liked Joan’s difficult relationship with her aunt. There are so many angry women with agency in this book, which is always a plus for me.

Fair warning: This book is, as I said, quite dark. Trigger warning for just about all the big things that might trigger people. You might want to avoid this book if you don’t like dark, sometimes violent romance.

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