New month, new theme! This time we’re having us a friends to lovers month! On June 5th, Just to Breathe will be published and it’s a friends to lover story.
I didn’t think I’d read all that many friends to lovers books – though considering it’s a common trope, I should’ve known. Since I didn’t want to overwhelm you with a zillion books, though sometimes those lists are fun too, I decided to pick twenty. Since I had stories to choose from, I made a selection. You’ll find several books that have been with Dreamspinner press but none (unless I’ve missed some) that currently are because, you know, as an author, I think we deserve to be paid for our work, so… Here we go! Oh, and they’re not in any order.
Moonlight Becomes You
Moonlight Becomes You (Lucky Moon 1) by Piper Vaughn and M.J. O’Shea – There was a time when I read a lot of rockstar books, many many years ago. The lucky Moon series is one of those I remember liking. Book two was my favourite, but that’s not friends to lovers LOL
Can’t forget the boy he left behind. Can’t seem to win the respect of the man he’s crazy about. Shane Ventura might be rich and famous… but his love life is a disaster waiting to happen.
Eleven years ago, Shane Ventura made the biggest mistake of his life.
He caved in to pressure from his record label to kick his best friend, Jesse Seider, out of their band, Luck. To this day, Shane has never wanted anyone more. All the sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll can’t fill the void Jesse left behind. Not even the prospect of teaming up with Britain’s hottest band, Moonlight, for a massive world tour can get him out of his funk.
Then he meets singer Kayden Berlin and falls into Instant lust.
Kayden may act like he’s not interested but Shane knows he feels the spark between them. Yet the harder Shane pushes, the more Kayden pulls away, until on explosive night leaves Shane with a broken heart.
That seems to be his lot in — lucky at everything but love.
Shane still has one lesson left to learn: when it comes to love, you can’t always leave things to chance.
Hard Tail (Southampton Stories 2) by J.L. Merrow. Who doesn’t like a hurt-comfort story? This book deals with domestic abuse, so if that’s a trigger, stay away. I liked that they work in a mountain bike shop. I think it’s the only mountain bike shop story I’ve read LOL. I haven’t read the first story in this series, so I’m gonna go ahead and say it’s not necessary to enjoy this.
Finding love can be a bumpy ride
With his job and his marriage dead in a ditch, Tim Knight doesn’t take much persuading to leave London for the greener fields of Southampton and look after his injured brother’s mountain bike shop. But Tim’s a fish out of water in this brave new world of outdoor sports and technical jargon—not to mention struggling with the realisation he can no longer deny his sexuality, at least to himself.
The reason? Matt Berridge, his brother’s bike mechanic. Fit, tanned and an adorable klutz, Matt takes a tumble the day they meet and falls straight into Tim’s heart. There’s only one problem: Matt’s boyfriend, who Tim’s convinced is abusing him, despite the stories Matt comes up with to explain away the bruises.
A black belt in karate, Tim’s no pushover when it comes to physical confrontation. But he’ll need to step his courage up a gear if he’s ever going to come out, be himself—and save the man he’s coming to love.
Billy’s Bones by Jamie Fessenden. This is a gruesome story – attempted suicide and childhood trauma, so don’t go into it thinking it’s a light fluffy read. It’s worth it though if you’re okay with those kinds of stories.
Kevin Derocher was thirty-two when he walked into Tom’s office, newly married, a baby on the way, and the collar of his red flannel shirt pulled up to hide the bruises around his throat from when he hanged himself in his garage. After his initial consult, therapist Tom Langois believes he’ll never see Kevin again—but Kevin turns up three years later to make repairs on Tom’s new house.
Kevin and Tom become fast friends, and Tom begins to suspect Kevin may be interested in more than friendship. However, Kevin remains haunted by something from his childhood—something so terrible he blocked it from his mind. These suppressed memories make it impossible for Kevin to get close to anyone without panicking and lashing out, sometimes violently. But as his past begins to surface, it becomes apparent that Kevin may hold the key to a twenty-five-year-old mystery: what happened to Billy?
A Private Gentleman
A Private Gentleman by Heidi Cullinan. Orchids! I love a nerd, I don’t care what you subscribe to, be it orchids or superheroes, I’ll stand by you. Albert Engström (1869-1940), Swedish artist and author, said: Det är varje människas förbannade plikt att bli ett original. Which roughly translates into: It’s every person’s bloody duty to become an original (in the eccentric meaning), and I agree. We need more rare birds out there!
To seal their bond, they must break the ties that bind.
Painfully introverted and rendered nearly mute by a heavy stammer, Lord George Albert Westin rarely ventures any farther than the club or his beloved gardens. When he hears rumors of an exotic new orchid sighted at a local hobbyist’s house, though, he girds himself with opiates and determination to attend a house party, hoping to sneak a peek. He finds the orchid, yes…but he finds something else even more rare and exquisite: Michael Vallant. Professional sodomite.
Michael climbed out of an adolescent hell as a courtesan’s bastard to become successful and independent-minded, seeing men on his own terms, protected by a powerful friend. He is master of his own world—until Wes. Not only because, for once, the sex is for pleasure and not for profit. They are joined by tendrils of a shameful, unspoken history. The closer his shy, poppy-addicted lover lures him to the light of love, the harder his past works to drag him back into the dark. There’s only one way out of this tangle. Help Wes face the fears that cripple him—right after Michael finds the courage to reveal the devastating truth that binds them.
Winter (The Haunted Heart 1) by Josh Lanyon . Speaking of rare birds, there are some unusual things in this one. There used to be a pretty cover for this book. I was quite disappointed to see that it’s been changed. Ah well, it’s the content that matters, and here we have us some creepy ghosts.
“Let us be grateful to the mirror for revealing to us our appearance only.”
Since Alan died, Flynn isn’t eating, isn’t sleeping, and isn’t spending a lot of time looking in mirrors. But maybe he should pay a little more attention — because something in that 18th Century mirror is looking at him…
Still grieving over the sudden death of his lover, antiques dealer Flynn Ambrose moves to the old, ramshackle house on Pitch Pine Lane to catalog and sell the large inventory of arcane and oddball items that once filled his late uncle’s mysterious museum.
But not all the items are that easy to catalog.
Or get rid of…
Nor Iron Bars a Cage
Nor Iron Bars a Cage by Kaje Harper. More ghosts and magic, and while I’d slap some trigger warnings on this one (self-harm, past abuse) it’s not a very dark read. Lyon who only wants to hide in his house has to do a job for the king, and who’s to come get him if not Torbin, his childhood friend.
First 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.
Suicide Watch by Kelley York. This book… I don’t often read YA, and I don’t often read books dealing with suicide, but it’s been years since I read this, many years, and it’s still with me. It’s not heavy on the romance, so don’t expect that, but you should read it.
18-year-old Vincent Hazelwood has spent his entire life being shuffled from one foster home to the next. His grades sucked. Making friends? Out of the question thanks to his nervous breakdowns and unpredictable moods. Still, Vince thought when Maggie Atkins took him in, he might’ve finally found a place to get his life—and his issues—in order.
But then Maggie keels over from a heart attack. Vince is homeless, alone, and the inheritance money isn’t going to last long. A year ago, Vince watched a girl leap to her death off a bridge, and now he’s starting to think she had the right idea.
Vince stumbles across a website forum geared toward people considering suicide. There, he meets others with the same debate regarding the pros and cons of death: Casper, battling cancer, would rather off herself than slowly waste away. And there’s quiet, withdrawn Adam, who suspects if he died, his mom wouldn’t even notice.
As they gravitate toward each other, Vince searches for a reason to live while coping without Maggie’s guidance, coming to terms with Casper’s imminent death, and falling in love with a boy who doesn’t plan on sticking around.
Scrap Metal by Harper Fox . Ah, a Scottish farm, what’s not to like about that? Nichol is knee-deep in lambing when Cam, a man on the run from the city, shows up at the farm. Nichol gives him a place to stay and they become friends. I loved the environment in this one.
Nichol Seacliff is facing his darkest hour. He’s sole remaining heir to a failing sheep farm on the Isle of Arran, and about as lonely as any young man could be. His only companions are his grumpy grandfather Harry, and three sheepdogs who won’t answer to his whistle.
He’s thinking about throwing the whole business in when, one bitter, stormy night, a stranger breaks into his barn. Nichol, at the end of his rope, is inclined to deal with new trouble with a shotgun, but soon realises this intruder means no harm. He’s a lost lad by the name of Cameron, on the run from a dodgy and dangerous Glasgow past.
As the island winter melts into glorious summer, Cameron finds a place not only on the farm but in Nichol’s heart. Even Harry can’t hold out against his charm. But Cam can’t escape his shadows, and the dreadful secret he’s concealing has the power of a hungry tide, ready to wash all his newfound happiness with Nichol away.
Play It Again, Charlie
Play It Again, Charlie by R. Cooper. I love this book, and now when I read the blurb and saw the word daddy, I froze. I don’t do daddy books unless it’s by mistake LOL and I checked the original blurb – no daddies. I can’t remember if the word is in the book, maybe it is, what I do know is, in it, there are lots of old black and white movies and a balcony scene.
After an accident left him in chronic pain and his boyfriend abandoned him, Charlie Howard settled down to teach at a community college and hide from the world in his apartment. He takes care of his family, friends, neighbors—everyone but himself. He’s fine with his books and his cat, and sees his future as one without a partner by his side. That is, until a classic-film-loving twink named Will moves into the apartment across from him and throws flirtatious quotes from classic movies at him from his balcony.
To Charlie’s surprise, lively, sexy Will does his best to get invited into Charlie’s apartment and then doesn’t seem to want to leave. Beneath the flirtatious exterior, Will has been looking for home since he was kicked out as a teen, and views the soft romances of old black-and-white movies as something he will never be able to have. Someone like Charlie, older, educated, kind and loving, in pain and achingly lonely, obviously wouldn’t want to keep Will around, much less let Will fuss over him, so he goes for what he thinks he can get, and makes it clear he’d like Charlie to be his new daddy.
Charlie discovers it’s a role that suits him perfectly because Will needs care, and Charlie loves to give it. But Will has never stayed in one place for long. He’s never stayed long with one person, either. Charlie wants Will more with each moment they spend together, but to have him, he’ll have to risk the security of his quiet life. To be happy, Charlie will have to put his shattered heart in Will’s hands and invite him to stay.
Superhero by Eli Easton – At first, I hadn’t planned on including this. It’s not my usual kind of read, but it has its moments. And I do have a soft spot for anyone who wants to become a comic book artist, I can’t help it LOL
It’s not easy for a young gay artist like Jordan Carson to grow up in Jefferson, Wisconsin, where all anyone seems to care about in middle school and high school are the sports teams. But Jordan was lucky. He met Owen Nelson in the second grade, and they’ve been BFFs ever since. Owen is a big, beautiful blond and their school’s champion wrestler. No one messes with Owen, or with anyone close to him, and he bucks popular opinion by keeping Jordan as his wingman even after Jordan comes out at school.
Their friendship survives, but Jordan’s worst enemy may be himself: he can’t seem to help the fact that he is head-over-heels in love with a hopeless case—his straight friend, Owen. Owen won’t let anything take Jordan’s friendship away, but he never counted on Jordan running off to find a life of his own. Owen will have to face the nature of their relationship if he’s to win Jordan back.
The God Eaters
The God Eaters by Jesse Hajicek. I talked about this last month. It’s one of my favourite stories in all categories, but I have a hard time putting it in a fitting genre. They’re in a prison where they do weird experiments, and there is magic. It’s a fantasy adventure, so you have to have the time to get into it.
Imprisoned for ‘inflammatory writings’ by the totalitarian Theocracy, shy intellectual Ashleigh Trine figures his story’s over. But when he meets Kieran Trevarde, a hard-hearted gunslinger with a dark magic lurking in his blood, Ash finds that necessity makes strange heroes… and love can change the world.
The Disassembled Life of Duncan Cole by S. Hart
Ah, Duncan and all his inventions and his conversations with his coffee machine. It’s steampunk people, lots of smoke and stuff. Awesome!
In which we meet Duncan: professional nobody who presents himself to the public as a scowling, smoking pile of contempt. Against his will, he meets Sam: a less than professional coal miner who inspires the worst in men. Together they take on one malicious train and a most insidious re-animator, and along the way Duncan remembers a few things that he’d previously forgotten.
Glitter by Ayla Starr. While The Disassembled Life of Duncan Cole is a 700 pages long book, this little gem is 2,869 words. If you’re a good short story writer, you don’t need more to touch a soul.
I kept tripping over my feet, tripping over my words, and eventually gave up talking all together. You continued to smile anyway.
Butterfly Hunter (Butterfly Hunter 1) by Julie Bozza. This is beautiful. An Englishman in the Australian bush searching for butterflies. It’s about the fragility of life, the short moment we get to be on this earth. It touched me.
It started as a simple assignment for Aussie bush guide Dave Taylor – escort a lone Englishman in quest of an unknown species of butterfly. However Nicholas Goring is no ordinary tourist, his search is far from straightforward, and it’s starting to look as if the butterflies don’t want to be found. As Dave teaches Nicholas everything he needs to survive in the Outback he discovers that he too has quite a bit to learn – and that very often the best way to locate something really important is just not to want to find it…
A Frost of Cares
A Frost of Cares by Amy Rae Durreson. We’re leaving the warmth of Aussieland for a cold, wintery England. This is a ghost story. Every time I mention Durreson’s books, I’m thinking I should read more by her. I’ve loved every story I’ve read, and she creates a mean ghost story.
A Winter Ghost Story
Looking for a fresh start, historian Luke Alcott takes on a job cataloguing the archives in an old army training centre. Eelmoor Hall is an old house on a lonely heath and the only other living soul on site is Sergeant Jay McBride, the surly caretaker. But Luke can’t escape the feeling he’s being watched, and as the halls echo with invisible footsteps and his sleep is haunted by nightmares, he realises that he and Jay aren’t alone in this house.
The Mistletoe Bride has been trapped here a very long time. She’s cold, angry, and desperate. And she has no intention of letting Luke leave until he’s found her—or joined her in death. As the snow begins to fall, Luke and Jay must risk all to save each other from this vengeful ghost.
Waiting for Clark
Waiting for Clark by Annabeth Albert. Now we’re back to the nerds. Best friends and cosplay, what can possibly go wrong? This is so cute.
When 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.
Shut Your Face, Anthony Pace!
Shut Your Face, Anthony Pace! by Claire Davis and Al Stewart. Again, one of my all-time favourites. I don’t read YA/NA if I can get away with it UNLESS it’s either Suki Fleet or Davis & Stewart. This is a beautiful story about Charlie who is on the Autism spectrum and has a love for science. And then we have Anthony Pace, Charlies best friend ever since he stole a toy from Charlie at the playground when they were little kids. This story made me laugh and cry ugly tears. Love it!
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?
Tommy’s Blind Date
Tommy’s Blind Date by Anne Brooke. I’ve talked about this book before on the blog. It’s a short story about Tommy who goes on a blind date with his best friend who is an actor. I love how this one starts.
Thirty-two year old Tommy Godolphin has been on a series of blind dates, as he doesn’t want to be single any more. However, none of them really hits the spot and the latest one has proved a complete, if amusing, disaster.
When he recounts what happened to his best friend, Jacob, he expects Jacob to laugh with him as usual, but this time he doesn’t. Instead, Jacob challenges Tommy to go out on a blind date with him, to see what, if anything, he might be doing wrong. If Tommy accepts, how will their friendship survive?
Love on a Wing and a Prayer
Love on a Wing and a Prayer by T.A. Webb. Here we’re past the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, but navy pilots Davey and Chuck still hide their orientation. It’s easier, but when they’ve met, hiding becomes harder. This is a short freebie, but definitely worth reading.
Even with the repeal of DADT, it is not commonly known that I am gay. Living on an aircraft carrier, surrounded by so many men in such close quarters, I worry that if my sexuality is known, most of them will subscribe to the narrow thinking that I am attracted to all of them. But there is one who has caught my eye and driven my senses into overload. The problem is that he is a fellow pilot. I don’t want to cause any issues in our working environment, and I don’t even know if he is gay, but I am drawn to him and cannot stop thinking about him. What I wouldn’t give for a stolen night together, but I long for even more than that because I am attracted to his personality, sense of humor, and strength of character as much as I am attracted to his physicality.
And then one day, his co-pilot gets sick, and I am told to fly with him. Will this time together possibly lead to something? I can’t help but hope that it does.
This is Not a Love Story
This is Not a Love Story (Love Story Universe) by Suki Fleet. Ah, here we have one of those YA/NA stories I don’t read… You know, since there aren’t any YA/NA on this list LOL. Here we have two boys living on the streets. One abandoned by his mother, the other to escape abuse. They have to fight to survive, so… prepare to cry.
When fifteen-year-old Romeo’s mother leaves one day and doesn’t return, he finds himself homeless and trying to survive on the streets. Mute and terrified, his silence makes him vulnerable, and one night he is beaten by a gang of other kids, only to be rescued by a boy who pledges to take care of him.
Julian is barely two years older than Romeo. A runaway from an abusive home, he has had to make some difficult choices and sells himself on the street to survive. Taking care of Romeo changes him, gives him a purpose in life, gives him hope, and he tries to be strong and keep his troubles with drugs behind him. But living as they do is slowly destroying him, and he begins to doubt he can be strong enough.
This is the story of their struggle to find a way off the streets and stay together at all costs. But when events threaten to tear them apart, it is Romeo who must find the strength within himself to help Julian (and not let their love story turn into a Shakespearean tragedy).
Just to Breathe
Just to Breathe – the reason we’re having this theme. This is a light-hearted story. Nico is being kidnapped but has no idea why, so he turns to the one person he can’t live without, his best friend Matt. Matt is a cop, his entire family are cops, and they all try to come to the bottom of why Nico was taken off the street and what it is he’s supposed to give his kidnappers within twenty-four hours.
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?
Moonlight Becomes You: Amazon
Hard Tail: books2read.com/HardTail
Billy’s Bones: Amazon
A Private Gentleman: books2read.com/APrivateGentleman
Nor Iron Bars a Cage: Amazon (free)
Suicide Watch: books2read.com/Suicide-Watch
Scrap Metal: books2read.com/ScrapMetal
Play It Again, Charlie: Amazon
The God Eaters: Read here
The Disassembled Life of Duncan Cole: books2read.com/DuncanCole
Glitter: books2read.com/Glitter (free)
Butterfly Hunter: books2read.com/ButterflyHunter
A Frost of Cares: Amazon
Waiting for Clark: books2read.com/WaitingForClark
Shut Your Face, Anthony Pace!: books2read.com/AnthonyPace
Tommy’s Blind Date: books2read.com/TommysBlindDate
Love on a Wing and a Prayer: download here
This is Not A Love Story: books2read.com/ThisisNotaLoveStory
Just To Breathe: books2read.com/JustToBreathe