Source: All books were e-ARC provided in exchange for an honest review
Beta Test (Gaymers #2) by Annabeth Albert
Player vs. Player. Fight!
Brilliant graphic designer Ravi Tandel is ahead of the game—he's just been asked to present a top secret project at a huge conference in Seattle. All systems are go…until he learns his buttoned-up office nemesis is coming along for the ride.
Tristan Jones isn't really the gamer type, but he knows the back end of the video game business inside out. Together, he and Ravi will give an awesome presentation. If they survive the cross-country trip first.
Tossed together in close quarters, Ravi's shocked to see Tristan's sexy, softer side emerge from such a conservative shell. He's less shocked to learn his handsome colleague's prominent family would never support an out-and-proud son. But Ravi didn't struggle through his own coming out to hide who he is now. To be together, Tristan will have to push past his fear and ultimately decide: Does he want a future with Ravi? Or is it game over before they've even begun?
Book Two of the #gaymers series ~ Goodreads
Quick thoughts: The Gaymers series is so wonderful. Even better than Albert's Portland Heat series, which is another favorite of mine.
I loved how Avi and Tristan truly weren't interested in each other romantically or physically at first. There are so few books now that give time for a friendship (or in this case a professional relationship) to bloom before becoming more.
I also really enjoyed how Albert explores family and obligation. Although both men are out to their families, they have to deal with the fallout due to political and cultural expectations.
Beta Test is low on angst but emotional and sensual - their romance is more about a deep connection between two kind souls than trying to rush to the eventual HEA.
Body Rocks (Off Beat #1) by A.M. Arthur
Everything is finally falling into place for Trey Cooper: his band has been accepted into one of the biggest music competitions in the country…too bad their drummer just quit to play with XYZ, their biggest rival. When Trey has a mind-blowingly hot hookup with a mysterious violinist, Trey definitely plans to see him again – just not on stage as a member XYZ.
Dominic Bounds’ time to make his musical dreams come true is running out. If something doesn’t happen fast, he has to head home to find a real job. This competition is his last chance, and Dom needs to come out on top – but he never expected to fall for his rival. As Dom and Trey risk everything to begin a secret affair, there’s no denying their chemistry is off the charts – but could their band rivalry turn their romance into a one-hit wonder? ~ Goodreads
Quick thoughts: Another fun one! I loved that despite the conflict between Trey & Dominic- rival bands in competition against each other, band member betrayals, and a secret relationship – these two made it work. I was kind of surprised how they just jumped in and were open and honest with each other even though they, understandably, had to keep it secret from their fellow band members. The band competition and music references were great too.
*This book doesn't release until June 28th but it's available for review on Netgalley right now.
Come What May (All Saints #1) by A.M. Arthur
Jonas needs Tate. He just doesn't know it yet.
Or at least, he doesn't want to admit it. Because there is no way Jonas Ashcroft is gay. He's a straight, carefree frat boy player, just like any good son of a conservative state senator. If only his struggle to convince everyone—especially himself—didn't leave him so miserable. No matter how many girls or bottles he drowns himself in, Jonas can neither escape nor accept who he is.
Enter Tate. He's smart, confident, and instantly sees right through Jonas's surly exterior. Sure, he's done things in life he's not proud of, but he knows who he is and what he wants. And what he wants is Jonas. As their easy friendship intensifies into something more, Tate introduces Jonas to a life he's never known. One filled with acceptance and sex and a love that terrifies and excites them both.
But some inner demons refuse to be shaken off so easily. When Jonas's old life barges in, he faces a shattering choice, one that could destroy everything he and Tate have fought so hard for. Sometimes love just isn't enough—and sometimes it's exactly what you need. ~ Goodreads
Quick thoughts: The tension and verbal sparring at the beginning was so much fun and I only wish it could have lasted longer instead of turning Come What May into a very sweet, yet generic, story.
Tate's struggle to live on his own, run a shelter and raise his two siblings was the far more interesting story to me but was kind of set aside for Jonas coming to terms with being gay and relationship with his father.
I would have loved to read more with Tate/Jonas *with* Tate's siblings.
Even though this romance didn't really stand out from the rest - I loved the couple and the family dynamics.
Mr. and Mr. Smith by Helen Kay Dimon
Secrets and seduction make for an explosive combination in HelenKay Dimon’s edgy, thrilling new series, which kicks off with a novel about two men who can handle any threat—except the one posed by desire.
Fisher Braun knows how to keep a secret. As a covert paramilitary operative, his job—and his life—depends on it. He’s at the top of his game, ready for action and always in control. No enemy has ever brought him to his knees, but one lover has: Zachary Allen, the man currently sharing his bed. The perfect package of brains and brawn, Zach is someone worth coming home to, and Fisher hates keeping him in the dark about what he does. But the lies keep Zach safe. Until the day Fisher loses everything. . . .
Zachary Allen is no innocent civilian. Although he plays the tech geek, in reality he’s deep undercover for the CIA. In a horrible twist of fate, the criminal enterprise he’s infiltrated has set its sights on the man whose touch drives him wild. Zach would do anything for Fisher—except blow his own cover. Now, in order to save him, Zach must betray him first. And he needs Fisher to trust him with all his heart if they want to make it out alive. ~ Goodreads
Quick thoughts: With a title like Mr. and Mr. Smith, I was expecting lots of witty banter and cool spy action like the movie Mr. & Mrs. Smith with Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.
Instead it was more of a traditional romance setup - betrayed lovers finding their way back to each other and battling the enemy. More dark and angsty than fun.
Don't get me wrong - the book works on that level and I enjoyed it - just wasn't what I hoped it would be.