Romance, LGBTQ+, Contemporary
Exposed was a really great anthology and at just 99 cents it was a fantastic deal! Centering on a charity calendar for literacy, 12 successful men pose naked in various libraries and of course find love. Though not all stories were to my personal interests, I really enjoyed the diversity of characters, sexual orientations, and relationship types that this anthology includes.
Level Up by Annabeth Albert
When Landon, a genius physicist, is picked for a charity calendar, he must deal with an inconvenient attraction to Bailey, his rising-star photographer. Can he slay enough demons from his past to ensure a future together with him?
I am a long time fan of Annabeth Albert so I was really excited to read Level Up and I was not disappointed. I adored Landon and Bailey; they are just too perfect together. Bailey was the most understanding, sweet guy there is and considering he’s also this bearded giant, it made the perfect mix. Landon is bisexual and he prefers to be with men or women who are smaller in stature. In college he was drugged and sexually assaulted at a frat party and since then he’s struggled with panic attacks. He really likes Bailey but he’s not sure they can be together after a make-out session triggers a panic attack. I loved that Bailey sticks by Landon and supports him through his struggles even when Landon doubts himself. I also appreciated that Albert didn’t magically cure Landon of his problems just because he’s fallen in love. It made the efforts they’re both putting into the relationship more real and meaningful.
Artist – Photographers
References to past sexual assault and panic attacks
Wishing by Karen Booth
Jobless and painfully single, Samantha agrees to drive musician Duncan to a photo shoot. He’s in town for only five days, so sexy, and she’s eager for a no-strings fling. But Duncan shoots straight for the heart, making her unsure how she’ll ever survive his goodbye.
This was my first book by Karen Booth and I really enjoyed it! Sam and Duncan were both great characters and I liked how practical they were about everything. They both had some demons to conquer and understood that jumping into bed together wasn’t the best idea. Of course, they struggle to resist the chemistry between them, so things inevitably happen. Duncan was a surprise for me because I don’t typically like rock star romances, so I was happy that he seemed to have his head on straight and wasn’t a conceited jerk. Sam is also incredibly understanding to Duncan’s pain of losing his bandmate and best friend and she supports him through that. She wanted to take a break from men but she can’t stay away from Duncan. I admire her for sticking to her guns about getting her life settled and finding what she wants out of it.
Fling to a Thing
References to side character’s depression, drug abuse, and overdose
Kate Likes Girls by Amy Jo Cousins
Garden center manager Kate Rhee is on a mission. No more hook ups with women or second-guessing her recent break up with an unavailable man. Too bad the foxy, pink-haired bar owner she meets at a naked calendar photo shoot has sworn off girlfriends. Because Kate isn’t doing casual. She can totally resist that temptation. Totally.
I really wanted to like this one more but it was just average for me. I’ve read one other Amy Jo Cousins book and I felt the same way, so I think her writing just isn’t for me. That being said I did like both Kate and Alex who were interesting characters that were quiet self aware of their strengths and weaknesses. I also liked that Cousins shows so many different types of lesbian women in this short story and she gracefully avoids stereotyping either heroine. My biggest issue was the push and pull between Kate who wants a relationship and Alex who doesn’t date. They are constantly getting to the edge of jumping into bed and then pulling back. Over and over again. It started out as really nice tension but then it changed and I wasn’t enjoying it any more.
Ghost by Robin Covington
Oliver Burns publicly bragged he’d sign the reclusive artist “G”- creator of the First Nations graphic novel, Ghost Warriors – to his comic publishing company. But that gets tough when “G” is Gareth Rain – the man he pulled a post-one-night-stand runner on years ago and the man he’s never forgotten.
For my first Robin Covington book, I really enjoyed this one. Oliver and Gareth had a one night stand but Oliver was too focused on his career and proving his father wrong to make time for a relationship. But neither man has forgotten that one night and when they meet again Oliver is determined to have Gareth. I liked both men, in particular Gareth who I really sympathized with. He’s had a rough upbringing and he’s funneled it into his art, but he hates the attention that comes from being comic book artist G. For my preferences, Oliver was a bit too cocky and arrogant, but he grew on me as the story went on.
Artist – Comic Books
One Night Stand
Thrown Off Track by Tamsen Parker
Teague has been License to Game’s bassist for over a decade, during which time he’s slept with almost everyone in his path. But it’s always felt like going through the motions. Until he sees his bandmate Christian naked at a charity photoshoot and suddenly, he knows what it is to want.
I loved the idea behind this story and was really intrigued by Christian’s quiet, calm nature, but unfortunately after getting about halfway I just couldn’t handle Teague’s voice anymore. I felt like I was in the mind of a sugar-hyped 16 year old and while I’m sure most will find him goofy and endearing, I just couldn’t enjoy it.
Friends to Lovers
Natural Enemies by Roan Parrish
When buttoned-up botanist Stefan Albemarle meets freewheeling urban gardener Milo Rios, it’s hatred at first sight. But hatred quickly turns to lust as Milo shows him how exquisite it can feel to lose control. When opposites attract, love blooms in unexpected places.
I really enjoyed this one by Roan Parrish, but I might be biased because I love her writing! Milo was absolutely wonderful and I adored him every second of this book. Milo is confident, charming, and not afraid to take control. His life was completely changed when he discovered planets and his ability to make them grow and I love that he wanted to give that back to others. He loves his job with the Botanical Garden and his work with high school teens was so admirable. Stefan was a little hard to warm up to at first but it was great to watch him come out of his shell and find some happiness. He’s been alone a long time and at first he doesn’t know what to think about Milo but he can’t deny his attraction. Together they were on fire and it’s no doubt that Roan Parrish is a master at writing sexy characters.
Also reviewed individually
Legal Briefs by Karen Stivali
When organizing a naked charity calendar puts Rose’s tenure bid in jeopardy, the last person she wants help from is Michael, the gorgeous, arrogant lawyer she butted heads with during his shoot. He’ll defend her for free, but if their secrets come out they could both pay with their hearts.
Legal Briefs was the last I read in this anthology and it did not disappoint! Rose and Michael start off on the wrong foot and it sets them up as enemies but when Rose needs help from a lawyer, Micheal is there to be her white knight. Rose quickly realizes that all her assumptions about Micheal and who he is are wrong and she soon falls for his caring heart. I liked that they built up to their relationship (as much as you can in a short story) and this also built up the sexual tension between them. Michael was pretty much perfect with his only flaw being his blind devotion to his brother even when it got in the way of his happiness. The reason I took off a star was because of the way things were handled in the end with Micheal’s brother; I just felt like the seriousness of the situation was glossed over too much (see spoiler).
Highlight Below to See Spoiler
Micheal’s brother, Johnny, is a troublemaker and Micheal is constantly bailing him out of jail or helping him out legally when needed. He feels like he can’t have a real relationship because he’s always putting his brother first and this causes a break up between him and Rose. Johnny mistakenly assumes Rose broke Micheal’s heart so being Micheal’s identical twin, he goes to see Rose and seduce her and then I assume break up with her in order to get back at her. Micheal shows up before anything can happen and he and his brother get in a physical fight over it but it’s pretty much forgotten after Rose and Micheal makes up. Revenge f*cking someone while pretending to be someone else is not cool and if I was Rose I’d never feel comfortable around Johnny again.
References to workplace sexual harassment and stalking
The Watermark by Tiffany Reisz
Jason “Still” Waters’ life looks perfect from the outside—money, fame, and the words “World Champion Bull-Rider” after his name. But Jason has a secret, one he never planned on telling anybody…until he meets Simone. She’s the kinky girl of his dreams…and his conservative family’s worst nightmare.
I did not read this one.
Rigged by Vanessa North
For Kaitlyn, seeing her best friend Gordon naked is no big deal—until watching Sean tie him up changes everything.
I did not read this one.
Hot. Naked. Guys. Reading.
When the sexiest Top 30 Under 30 men agree to pose naked for the “Expose Yourself To A Good Book” charity calendar, their hot bodies aren’t the only thing that gets EXPOSED. Ten brand new romances with M/F, M/M, F/F and menage pairings from bestselling and award winning authors, there’s something for everyone in this limited release anthology.
Published on March 13, 2018