#WhatToReadWednesday | Friends to Lovers

Did you know that May is Date Your Mate Month? Well, it is, so I figured we’d have a look at some friends to lovers books.

I have to say, it’s not a trope I seek out. I have nothing against it, and it’s not like I never read them, but I don’t set out to find friends to lovers books. It happens by mistake LOL

Shut Your Face, Anthony Pace! by Claire Davis and Al Stewart

Whenever I’m thinking about friends to lovers, I’m thinking about Charlie and Anthony. I love this story.

Shut Your Face, Anthony Pace!First love – coming of age – family – acceptance

When Charlie was eight years old, his mum bought him a microscope for his birthday. Since then, he’s known how he wants to spend his life. There have been trials, and challenges, but now – finally – the day is here for him to start college with his lifelong friend Anthony Pace.

Anthony is a red-haired force of nature. He writes poetry about their enemies and eagerly participates in all Charlie’s science experiments without understanding a word. Every morning, he waits at the end of their street so they can get the bus together.

But things are changing.

Families are important, and complex. Charlie’s mum hasn’t been well, and his relationship with Anthony begins to shine like a different star in the sky.

Can everything come together in this explosion of physics and chemicals that Charlie calls life? Will Anthony Pace ever share his poems with the world, and can the Chihuahua, Princess Arabella, ever learn to stop licking?

https://books2read.com/AnthonyPace

The One That Got Away by Rhianne Aile and Madeleine Urban

I just remembered this one! So many years since I read it and I haven’t spared it a thought in ages, but now I had an urge to reread it. I’m pretty sure it was among all the ebooks I lost way back when, though. I’ll have a look.

David is injured, and Trace takes care of him. It’s a GFY story, but I remembered liking it a lot.

The One That Got AwayWhen David Carmichael suffers a migraine and a broken shoulder, Trace Jackson, his best friend, simply moves in to take care of him. Their easy camaraderie is threatened when David discovers an undercurrent of heat and tension flowing between them. Despite knowing his best friend is straight, David is not-so-slowly falling in love. Trace has never desired another man. He’s a ladies’ man with quite the reputation, considered a top prize around town. But his close, treasured friendship with David is intensified by the emotion and arousal, and the lure of having David so close is irresistible. Soon Trace makes it clear to David that he wants to know if they can make it work between them. Because Trace is sure he won’t ever want anyone else—he already loves David. 

https://books2read.com/TheOneThatGotAway

Hot Head by Damon Suede

It’s been years since I read this. Best friends Griff and Dante are firefighters and when Dante gets into financial problems, he suggests Griff and him make some money on a gay porn site. Had this been now and not back in 2011 or 2012 or whenever I read it, I never would have picked it up. Pornstars and rentboys are something I avoid like the plague. The glorification of that kind of life turns my stomach, but to each their own and if you like firefighters getting it on, here’s a book for ya! 😉

Hot HeadWhere there’s smoke, there’s fire…

Since 9/11, Brooklyn firefighter Griff Muir has wrestled with impossible feelings for his best friend and partner at Ladder 181, Dante Anastagio. Unfortunately, Dante is strictly a ladies’ man, and the FDNY isn’t exactly gay-friendly. For ten years, Griff has hidden his heart in a half-life of public heroics and private anguish.

Griff’s caution and Dante’s cockiness make them an unbeatable team. To protect his buddy, there’s nothing Griff wouldn’t do… until a nearly bankrupt Dante proposes the worst possible solution: HotHead.com, a gay porn website where uniformed hunks get down and dirty. And Dante wants them to appear there—together. Griff may have to guard his heart and live out his darkest fantasies on camera. Can he rescue the man he loves without wrecking their careers, their families, or their friendship?

https://books2read.com/HotHead

Dangerous Ground by Josh Lanyon

Best friends who work together. It’s Josh Lanyon, not my favourite Lanyon, but you know what you get.

Dangerous GroundSpecial Agents for the Department of Diplomatic Security, Taylor MacAllister and Will Brandt have been partners and best friends for three years, but everything changed the night Taylor admitted the truth about his feelings for Will. And when Taylor was shot a few hours later, Will felt his reluctance to get involved was vindicated. For Will, the team and the friendship have to come first–despite the fact that he hasn’t failed to notice just how…hot Taylor is.

Taylor has been in love with his partner and best friend since they were first partnered. There isn’t much he wouldn’t do for Will–but he doesn’t know how much longer they can stay teamed feeling the way he does. Still, he agreed to a camping trip in the High Sierras–despite the fact that he hates camping–because Will wanted a chance to save their partnership.

But the trip is a disaster from the first, and things rapidly go from bad to worse when they find a crashed plane and a couple of million dollars in stolen money. With a trio of murderous robbers trailing them, Will and Taylor are on dangerous ground, fighting for their partnership, their passion…and their lives.

https://books2read.com/DangerousGround

Waiting for Clark by Annabeth Albert

Cosplay and best friends. This is cute!

Waiting For ClarkWhen Bryce Weyland agrees to go to a comic convention dressed as a superhero, the last person he expects to see is his one-time best friend (and hopeless crush), Clark Kenmore. But Clark is impossible not to notice—he’s wearing spandex tights, a rainbow cape, and the same disarming smile that haunts Bryce’s dreams.

Five years ago, they shared an ill-advised kiss that torpedoed their friendship. But now Clark has returned to Portland, and he wants nothing more than to return to the easy friendship that defined their college years. But the glowering Bryce makes it clear Clark’s mission is going to require a super-human effort—and more than a little luck.

https://books2read.com/WaitingForClark

Take My Picture by Giselle Ellis

Ah, another old one. This is a case of not only one but two people completely blind to the relationship their having. There is a lot of frustration, but I liked it.

Take My PictureAaron has no idea what he’s walking into when he shows up to pose for a famous—and famously bad-tempered—photographer. He certainly doesn’t expect to end up working as Jake’s assistant for five frustrating, thrilling, and crazy years instead of in front of the camera.

It all works until Jake realizes Aaron has become the focus of his life, a life that’s threatened when Aaron actually leaves him to start a relationship with someone else. Though it breaks his heart, Jake realizes he has to set his beloved muse free to have any chance of winning Aaron back.

https://books2read.com/TakeMyPicture

Finding Zach by Rowan Speedwell

This is a little darker than the rest. Zach was kidnapped, and it takes a lot of effort to build himself up again. It deals with PTSD and how to move on from major trauma.

Finding ZachFor five years, Zach Tyler, son of one of the world’s richest software moguls, was held hostage, tortured, and abused. When he is rescued at last from the Venezuelan jungle, he is physically and psychologically shattered, but he slowly begins to rebuild the life he should have had before an innocent kiss sent him into hell. His childhood best friend David has lived those years with overwhelming guilt and grief. Every relationship David has tried has fallen apart because of his feelings for a boy he thought dead. When Zach is rescued, David is overjoyed–and then crushed when Zach shuts him out. Two years later, David returns home, and he and Zach must come to terms with the rift between them, what they feel for each other, and what their future could hold. But Zach has secrets, and one of them might well destroy their fragile love.

https://books2read.com/FindingZach

Nor Iron Bars a Cage by Kaje Harper

We need a little paranormal representation too. I’ve listed this before, but it’s well worth the read.

Nor Iron Bars a CageFirst I was a sorcerer. Then I was a hermit. For so long—for years that seemed to go on forever—I couldn’t bear to be touched. I put up not just walls but whole stone bunkers to keep everyone out, emotionally, and physically as well. I was protected from people, from ghosts, from specters real and imagined. Sure, I was alone. But I felt safe. Only, after a while, I wasn’t sure any longer whether a totally “safe” empty life was really worth living.
Then Tobin came along. Out of the blue, out of my past, with a summons from the king that he wouldn’t let me ignore. I tried to cling to my isolation, but he wouldn’t give up on me. Tobin never believed in walls.

https://books2read.com/IronBars

Glitter by Ayla Starr

I reread this right before writing this post to see if I still thought it was as amazing as I did the first time I read it. It’s a Valentine’s letter, I’d forgotten that. I remembered it was a letter, but not for Valentine. Seriously, people, it’s a free 2.8k long story, and it leaves me blinking rapidly and with a lump in my throat. Read it.

GlitterI kept tripping over my feet, tripping over my words, and eventually gave up talking all together. You continued to smile anyway.

https://books2read.com/Glitter

All Kinds of Tied Down by Mary Calmes

Reminds me a little of Dangerous Grounds, best friends working in law enforcement. It’s not my favourite Calmes story, but I’ve been meaning to read book 2 for quite some time now. We’ll see if I’ll get around to it LOL

All Kinds of Tied DownDeputy US Marshal Miro Jones has a reputation for being calm and collected under fire. These traits serve him well with his hotshot partner, Ian Doyle, the kind of guy who can start a fight in an empty room. In the past three years of their life-and-death job, they’ve gone from strangers to professional coworkers to devoted teammates and best friends. Miro’s cultivated blind faith in the man who has his back… faith and something more.

As a marshal and a soldier, Ian’s expected to lead. But the power and control that brings Ian success and fulfillment in the field isn’t working anywhere else. Ian’s always resisted all kinds of tied down, but having no home—and no one to come home to—is slowly eating him up inside. Over time, Ian has grudgingly accepted that going anywhere without his partner simply doesn’t work. Now Miro just has to convince him that getting tangled up in heartstrings isn’t being tied down at all.
 

https://books2read.com/AllKindsofTiedDown

Between Sinners and Saints by Marie Sexton

Again, a book I list way too often, but it’s one of my favourites.

Between Sinners and SaintsLevi Binder is a Miami bartender who cares about only two things: sex and surfing. Ostracized by his Mormon family for his homosexuality, Levi is determined to live his life his own way, but everything changes when he meets massage therapist Jaime Marshall.

Jaime is used to being alone. Haunted by the horrors of his past, his only friend is his faithful dog, Dolly. He has no idea how to handle somebody as gorgeous and vibrant as Levi.

Complete opposites on the surface, Levi and Jaime both long for something that they can only find together. Through love and the therapeutic power of touch, they’ll find a way to heal each other, and they’ll learn to live as sinners in a family of saints.

https://books2read.com/BetweenSinnersAndSaints

Eleven stories, that should last you for some time, right? If not, let’s move on to the:

Ego Wall

thewingman

A year ago, Cole Hudson got out of an abusive relationship. Since then, he’s been hiding in the kitchen of his bakery, avoiding people best he can. He prefers it there, but his best friend Gavin has other ideas.

Gavin is set on finding him a boyfriend, but Cole doesn’t like hanging around bars, and it’s precisely what Gavin has in mind. As Cole’s self-proclaimed wingman, Gavin is on the hunt for a worthy partner, but it isn’t an easy find.

Cole doesn’t want to date; he only wants to spend time with Gavin. Gavin only wants Cole to be happy. How many men flocking around Cole will he have to chase away before the right one shows up?

 books2read.com/TheWingman

kissesandcabins - small

Kace and Lukas have been best friends for over thirty years, but the last couple of years they haven’t talked much. Lukas’ girlfriend doesn’t like Kace, he doesn’t know why that is, but he’s dreading the wedding invitation or news about a baby on the way he suspects will reach him any day now.

One afternoon there’s a knock on Kace’s door. Lukas is standing outside, not to deliver a wedding invitation, but to ask if he could stay with Kace for a bit.

He is separating.

When Lukas kisses him, Kace doesn’t know what to do. He wants to kiss Lukas, but Lukas is straight, isn’t he? And even if he wasn’t, Kace doesn’t know if he can risk ruining their friendship. Lukas is the most important person in his life. He can’t lose him.

https://books2read.com/KissesandCabins

justtobreathe

Nico Allegretti has been best friends with Matt Barnes since kindergarten. There is no one more important to Nico than Matt, and while he’s known for years Matt is the one for him, he’ll never tell him. He won’t risk ruining their friendship.

On his way to meet Matt at the restaurant, a case of mistaken identity ends with Nico in the trunk of a car. When he’s released, his kidnappers give him twenty-four hours to give them what they want. The problem is, Nico has no idea what that could be.

Not knowing what else to do, he turns to Matt, who is a cop. Together they go into hiding while looking for clues. Being kidnapped doesn’t change Nico’s resolve to not let Matt know how he feels, but hiding in a small cabin together makes it hard to ignore. Matt’s small touches and compliments must mean nothing. Had Matt felt the same, he’d let him know by now … right?

books2read.com/JustToBreathe

Guest Post | Kelpie’s Claiming by Alexa Piper

Guest-Post

Today, we have Alexa Piper on a visit, and this post had me laughing. Welcome, Alexa!

The Interesting Case of Kelpies

For those not aware, a kelpie (also known as a water horse) is a shape-changing horse, who is an alluring man when not in their horse form. They spend their time luring people into lochs or other bodies of water, and they really like liver. Human liver.

I’ve not seen a lot of kelpie books, but something about the creature always spoke to me. Maybe it’s the mythical aspect, the way to kelpie is connected with just one place and doesn’t actively go out of its way to hunt prey.

At any rate, when I wrote an M/M romance with a banshee in it (The Night Bartender, check it out, it’s fun), Rob, my kelpie, just appeared as a side character. I wasn’t always sure that a kelpie was what he was, but that was pretty clear as soon as I started thinking about him more.

Rob is a bit of an oddball kelpie, but he would never admit to that. He’s very social for one, but again, he wouldn’t like being called out on it. But, you know, you don’t own a bar if you’re not the social type.

Rob’s employees all love him, and he’s probably not aware quite how much. Why? Well, he cares about them. He’s basically a big, beautiful stallion protecting his herd… while fantasizing about eating liver.

It goes without saying that someone like Rob would not fall for just anyone. Rob certainly wouldn’t tolerate any discussions about it, being a stubborn stallion. And since he found Bertrand in the snow, finders keepers applies, and in Rob’s mind, he has every right to the Fae with the nice thighs (Rob has a thing for thighs. It’s a horse thing. Don’t ask.)

Except, Bertrand has his whole life planned out, and getting claimed by a carnivorous horse shifter was never part of the plan…

Meet the kelpie and in Fae in Kelpie’s Claiming.

Kelipes Claiming

Rob’s current goal in life? Do not eat people. That’s easier said than done when you’re a kelpie in the service industry. While Rob pursues his goals from behind the bar, a stranger walks in, and Rob catches the man’s scent. Yet, patrons are not for eating, and it should have ended there… except when Rob smells that delicious scent again, the beautiful stranger needs help.

Bertrand wants to fit in, but because he’s part Fae, part Elf, and grew up human, he’s not really at home in either human or supernatural society. Still, he likes being a reporter and following a story all the way to its conclusion. The story he’s pursuing when he walks into Rob’s bar one night is one of supernaturals going missing, and Bertrand seems to be the only one who cares.

Meeting Bertrand might just shift Rob’s life goals. Coming face-to-face with a kelpie stallion might be enough to help Bertrand see where he fits in perfectly. Except Bertrand doesn’t really know what to make of Rob, and also, Bertrand’s missing persons story is bigger than even he envisioned. It’s turning into a case of abduction and trafficking he needs to unravel before he can even think about Rob’s advances. The story will lead Bertrand to some dark places before the year is out.

Kelpie and Bartender

EXCERPT:

Kelpie’s Claiming (Fairview Chronicles 10)

Alexa Piper

All rights reserved.

Copyright ©2022 Alexa Piper

The daytime drinkers with the incipient beer bellies were getting louder. Rob was just about to get back to gutting his lime in order to suppress thoughts of gutting those three when the door opened once more.

The icy air tickled Rob’s nose with the smell of the season turning, of snowdrops shaking off the weight of frozen water to sing of longer days and sun returning to the world.

But the man walking into the Ragdoll wasn’t a sprite. He was — glamoured.

Rob, who knew how to use a glamour even if he turned into a carnivorous horse who could break hearts without prettying himself up with magic, could tell. The glamour wasn’t exceedingly strong on this man.

Out of the corner of his eye, Rob saw the mage look up briefly, noticing the same thing, but then dismissing it. She’d have been able to see through it easily enough, and since she didn’t react further, Rob could be sure the man who smelled of snowdrops didn’t have any openly nefarious intentions.

But the man… Rob’s mouth was watering, and he watched as the new patron pulled his fur-trimmed hood back from his golden locks and pried his snug gloves off his long fingers. He had to be part Fae. Rob was pretty sure just from his looks, but with a glamour that hid what he was, Rob couldn’t tell precisely.

The man looked shifty, though. Rob had misspent his youth lingering in pools, ponds, and really any body of water that didn’t have a kappa infestation. He’d done it in order to lure humans and whoever wanted to be lured, so he knew what shifty looked like quite intimately.

The glamoured patron wasn’t the let’s-drown-them-and-eat-their liver type of person, not that Rob would ever admit to anyone that he himself had ever been that person. The man wore glasses. They misted up in the warmth of the Ragdoll, and he had to pull them off, revealing a set of hazel eyes that brimmed with intelligence. Without the glasses, he wasn’t too blind to find one of the quiet corner tables, where he deposited his large frame in a chair that looked flimsy under him.

Because yes, the man looked like the kind of person Western directors with a bottomless budget would cast for the role of a Greek hero or an intergalactic hero. Rob liked a man who could hold his own in a fight, and he shivered at the thought of this one’s thighs pressing into Rob’s sides when he was in his horse form. He shivered at the thought of this man riding him.

Kyle grabbed a menu and made his way to the man while Rob watched.

The new patron was interested in the soon-to-be beer-bellied. He glanced past Kyle and seemed too distracted to properly examine the menu, but Kyle nodded and scribbled something on his notepad.

“Hey, boss.” Carla, Rob’s strawberry blonde half-succubus bartender, had snuck up on him and was clapping him on the shoulder.

“Please don’t startle me,” he told her. “And also, hello. You are early.”

“Well, I figured you might need the extra pair of hands,” she said and gave his still unharmed lime a pointed look.

“I was getting to that,” he told her, frowning.

Carla sighed. “Can I say something?”

“Can I stop you?”

She crossed her arms in front of her beautiful succubus chest. “What do you think?”

“Well, let’s have it.”

“You, boss, need to get laid. It might be, I don’t know, a shifter thing. I swear it’s like you guys molt or something.”

Rob sliced the lime in half neatly and let it bleed its acidic last on his cutting board. “Carla, dear. I turn into a horse. I do not molt.”

She raised her finger to forestall a lecture. “Changes nothing. You need to bang someone.” She tapped her nose with a finger, the nail painted fire-engine red. “I can tell.”

“I’m stressed because I’m tending bar when I shouldn’t be tending bar,” Rob said.

She waved that off. “Pfft. You’re happy for Ilya, admit it. Maybe ask that witch if he has a brother?” she asked and wiggled her eyebrows.

“He’s the sole Fey heir, and you know that as well as I do,” Rob said. “Also, I do not need to urgently bang a witch.” Rob kept his voice down, because he was not easily shaken, certainly not by the suggestion that he was in need of sex. Rob was accomplished. He had the occasional one-night stand, because (just like Ilya) he looked good behind the bar, almost as good as he did as a horse with his hooves in a lake, his mane dangling in the water, and the moon hitting his shiny coat just so.

Yes, if Rob wanted to find a warm body to put his cock in, he could do just that, but the succubus was overreacting. It was a thing with ‘cubi, assuming that one needed to have sex all the time or else one’s health — mental or otherwise — was in danger.

“Did you just daydream about fucking Aaron?” Carla asked.

Rob made quick work of the lime. “I did not, and I reject the idea.” Although the witch was a big strong man under that coat he wore all the time. But no. Going there was no good — even if from the looks of it, Aaron had very nice shoulders.

Kelpie_review_2

About Alexa Piper:

 Alexa Piper writes steamy romance that ranges from light to dark, from straight to queer. She’s also a coffee addict. Alexa loves writing stories that make her readers laugh and fall in love with the characters in them. 

Connect with Alexa: https://linktr.ee/AlexaPiper

Giveaway | May

Book Giveaway

Right, peeps, I’m sad to say we’re going dystopic this month – just what we need, right? Sigh. Months ago, I pulled The Maddest of Men and The Lords of Lettuce from Amazon. I meant to put them up again as one book instead of two. Lords starts right where Maddest ends, and when I wrote them, I meant for them to be a series, but I never wrote more books, so it felt silly to have stories up that just as easily could be one. Then I decided I’d do these giveaways that matched Holly’s previous releases and told myself I didn’t need to fix that book until May 1st because that was when Holly had her dystopian story… And here we are! Have I fixed the book? No. Sigh.

This month last year, Holly released The Hunger Gap which is a dystopic story about a society where everyone living outside of the city limits has to provide food for those living in the city. George lives outside the city, and it’s Axel’s job to make sure he pays what he’s due.

In The Maddest of Men, it’s not really that organised, and it’s a paranormal story. The military did some weird experiments, and part of the population ended up with psychic abilities. They’re called metas. It’s Creed’s job to find the metas and take them to facilities. Grayham is a meta, he’s also a drug lord’s right-hand man, and not an easy person to sneak up on.

If you’ve been around for some time, you know the deal. Hop on over to Kingsumo and type in your email address. You’re not subscribing to anything, and make sure you use an address you check since it’s the one I’ll contact you on if you’re the winner.

Join the draw!

thehungergap

After years of the government taking everything he grows, homesteader George Vega has had enough. Food is scarce and people are starving. To provide for himself, he’ll need to break the law. Together with his next-door neighbor June, he sets up a system to hide food from the controller during his weekly collecting visits.

Axel Rowe won’t survive much longer. Every scrap of food he can get his hands on, he gives to his six-year-old daughter, but it isn’t nearly enough. Luck is on his side when he secures a job as a controller. He realizes taking the job will make people dislike him, but he has to eat.

George understands the danger he’s in when his old, lazy controller is replaced with a new, more observant one. Axel suspects there is something George is withholding, but when George takes care of him after nearly collapsing from hunger, Axel is more curious about how he’s able to keep food for himself than he’s interested in reporting him. George knows the risk, but after having looked into Axel’s desperate eyes, he’s compelled to take care of him. But can an outlaw homesteader have a relationship with the man who’s supposed to make sure he follows the law?

23,976 words

Read an excerpt

The Maddest of Men

To prove his loyalty to Cham, Grayham is willing to do anything, and he does. He helps Cham run his empire by finding out the truth by any possible means. It’s not as hard as it may seem, all he has to do is ask the right questions, and his internal polygraph will tell him if someone is lying or not. And when they lie—well he deals with that too. Life as an executioner can get quite lonely, not that Grayham plans on doing anything about it. It would kill him to have to off a lover.

Creed is a retrieving agent on a mission. He is to infiltrate one of Carona’s drug organisations to get to the inquisitor. Rumour states the man with the fiery red curls has supernatural powers; it also says anyone coming close to him disappears. Creed has no idea how he’s going to make it out alive or why his supervisor sent him in without backup. But, when an opening to work as a waiter at one of the drug lord’s parties presents itself Creed sets to work.

In a world where people compensate for the years of bombings and starvation with clinic bought physical perfection a man with crooked teeth and mismatching eyes stands out. Grayham notices the waiter watching him straight away. If he’s there to harm Cham, he’ll deal with it. Creed knows he must get his hands on the inquisitor so when he is invited to the man’s flat he agrees to come even though he knows it might be the last thing he’ll ever do.

30,910 words

Read an excerpt