Round up of June’s reads

June saw another fantastic slew of new releases! Let’s dig into my top five.

The Barkeep and the Bro by AJ Truman

Having enjoyed the first two instalments in the ‘Single Dads Club’ I have been looking forward to the release of this one. And with age-gap, boss/employee, and bi-awakening, what more could I ask for?

Set in a small-town, this sweet romance sees the perpetually single bar owner, Mitch, falling head over heels for his ‘straight’ bartender…who also happens to be his daughter’s ex-boyfriend. This plot point, coupled with the fact that Mitch is Charlie’s boss, injects a great level of tension for the characters. Something that particularly stood out with this novel, is the fantastic character arcs both Mitch and Charlie had. Although the romance was definitely front and centre throughout, the other obstacles they faced, and the realisations about themselves and what they both want from the future, made the HEA feel all the sweeter.

It was lovely to see characters from previous books making an appearance, and also meeting some new ones! I cannot wait to see what all the teachers get up to in AJ’s spin-off series that is coming later this year.

The Anonymous Hook-Up by Jax Calder

I’ll start by saying that this book was the first I had read by this author…and I finished it and immediately downloaded and devoured her back catalogue. I’ll save those for a future post because I MUST tell you about this novella.

It has everything. EVERYTHING. It’s funny, smart, sweet and the characters…I just want to SMOOSH THEM!! I’ve never read a novella that has such well developed characters and relationships and a fabulous supporting cast. I genuinely laughed out loud and said ‘aww’ several times.

If you want a light-hearted, gorgeous, entertaining, and sweet read, make sure to pick this up.

Crankshaft by KM Neuhold

Now, if you’re a KM Neuhold fan, you will understand IMMEDIATELY why I have been (very impatiently) waiting for this book.

(If you’re not a KM Neuhold fan – WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?? I can’t link her whole backlist here, but start with Caulky or Rocket Science)

As we know, KM Neuhold is the Queen of found family and sweet low-angst romances. She creates characters you can’t help but fall in love with – one of whom is Porter. The sweet Veterinarian pops up in several of her Four Bears books, normally as a date for one of the main characters who we know is going to end up with someone else. After seeing him keeping his upbeat nature after the many rejections, I (along with many other fans!) have been dying to see Porter get his HEA.

Well, the wait is finally over. Crankshaft delivered everything it promised and a heap more. Not only was Steele the perfect person for Porter to end up with, but the journey that KM Neuhold took us on along the way was hysterical. There was one scene in particular (if you’ve read it you know what I’m talking about) that had tears of laughter rolling down my cheeks.

I devoured it in a single sitting and am already considering a reread. Cannot WAIT for the next book.

Platonic Rulebook by Saxon James

If you follow me on social media, you’ll already know I’m a HUGE fan of Saxon’s books. When the latest instalment of her ‘Divorced Men’s Club’ dropped, I one-clicked that baby so fast my screen nearly cracked.

Having met Griff in Roommate Arrangement, I was already invested in seeing how he achieved his HEA. Having waited an entire year to officially separate from his wife, Griff was more than ready to move on with his life, and his best friend was by his side ready to wingman him.

This book offered a fresh take on the ‘friends to lovers’ trope. Normally, we have one character who has either been secretly in love with the other for years, or they become attracted to them before the other discovers they have similar feeling. What I loved about Platonic Rulebook was how they really were just friends…at first. And rather than having one fall for the other, they both discovered their attraction at the same time.

This book was everything I’d expected and more. Saxon James always creates characters I can’t help but fall in love with, but I must admit that the men of the DMC hold a special place in my heart.

One More Song by B Ripley

As soon as I saw the blurb for this one, I hit the preorder button, and I’m so glad I did…even if it left me with the BIGGEST book hangover once I’d finished it.

I’m a big fan of Daddy kink books and this one hit all the right moments. It made me laugh. It made me cry. It made me immediately message the author and demand the next one (not as weird as it sounds as we’ve spoken before).

Hobie is SUCH a beautifully layered character who you just want to pick up and hug. Ambrose is the perfect Daddy for him – sweet and encouraging. I absolutely LOVED Hobie’s snark and the way he interacted with Ambrose. It felt like a really authentic relationship that you couldn’t help but buy into.

And the steam…wow. Yep, this book is spicy and boy, does Daddy Ambrose know how to play.

If you like Daddy Kink, you do NOT want to sleep on this one.

Round-up of May’s Reads!

Technically May hasn’t finished yet, but I’ve already read SO MANY good books this month that I couldn’t narrow it down to five. So, here are my top 6 reads for May!

Thick as Thieves: An Aster Valley novel by Lucy Lennox

Ok so this one has been on my tbr list for a while and I am now KICKING myself for waiting so long to read it!

I’m an utter sucker for a story about a guy who’s been in love with his ‘straight’ oblivious best friend forever, so I was immediately pulled into Julian and Parker’s story. Starting in childhood, Lucy immediately sets up their closeness and unique relationship. The dual POV was perfect at showing the different journey’s the characters were embarking on and the yearning…oh how I loved the yearning.

 I devoured this book in a single sitting – it made me laugh, it made me cry, and I’m going to read it again…likely in the next few days. I loved seeing the side characters from different series popping in and meeting several new ones who I’m hoping to see in future books!

Don’t be a moron like me and let this book slip you by – go and read it now!

Boyfriend Goals by Riley Hart

If a book has a neurodivergent character, it’s an automatic one click for me. I’ve read some that don’t feel authentic, and others that really capture what it’s like to have a brain that works differently. Boyfriend Goals falls into the latter category and, not only that, but Riley has also created a character who is unapologetically himself. Too often, the character who is neurodivergent apologises for who they are repeatedly – trying to mould themselves into what society expects of them. Here though, Milo does not do that, and I could not love him more for that. Gideon’s love for Milo shines throughout, creating a super sweet story that I couldn’t get enough of.

Sem – Unexpected book 2 by Cora Rose

What can I say about Sem?

Obsessive stalker – check

Possessive alpha with a heart of gold – check

Fiery love interest who has no issue standing up for himself – check

What does this all add up to, I hear you ask?

One helluva fun and spicy ride.

I cannot, I repeat, cannot, tell you how much I enjoyed this book. Fuck – Sem and Maggie are EVERYTHING! The way Sem just wants the absolute best for Maggie; even if it means it’s not him, had me clutching at my chest. Their love for one another, and the way they fought for each other…wow. There was the perfect amount of angst thrown in which was balanced with a healthy dose of banter and humour. I’m already looking forward to the next instalment!!

Unconventional Hearts – Plum Valley Cowboys book 3 by Emmy Sanders

This was another fantastic instalment in the Plum Valley series. What is it about these cowboys that just hits me in the feels?

I absolutely loved the dynamic between Cooper, Tru and Will. The three of them were wonderful together and seeing their relationship grow across the novel was beautiful. I especially loved how Tru was portrayed – often asexual people are shown as not wanting a relationship which isn’t the case for so many. I love that the author didn’t take this route – it was such an authentic portrayal and worked really well in the book.

It was such a fun read too – so much happiness and tenderness shown throughout. This will definitely be a reread for me!

Irresponsible Puckboy – Puckboys book 2 by Eden Finley and Saxon James As I said earlier – I’m a SUCKER for the ‘friends to lovers’ trope – especially when everyone else around them can see how perfect they would be together. I loved Egotistical Puckboy and was so excited to read Tripp and Dex’s story. I’m a huge fan of both Eden Finley and Saxon James and, once again, this instalment from them did not disappoint. Full of lots of love, spice, laughter, and interfering friends, I flew through this with a smile on my face the whole time. The ‘fake marriage’ trope worked perfectly for this story. Gah – Dex is such a sweetheart and I was so happy to see him and Tripp get the happy ending they deserved.

Unwanted by Marley Valentine

Marley Valentine is an author I turn to when I want a good cry. When I want to feel like someone has sucker punched me in the solar plex and then patched up my heart afterwards. When I want to experience all the agony of falling in love in complicated circumstances. Even though they tend to be on the heavier side in terms of angst, the characters, and situations she creates provide a light and gentle foil that make the whole experience one you will want to repeat over and over again.

 If you haven’t read any of her books, WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN DOING WITH YOURSELF? They are all amazing, but Ache holds a special place in my heart.

As soon as I saw Marley had a new release coming, I marked the date in my diary, knowing I would need to read it the day it came out. I was thrilled to learn that, not only was ‘Unwanted’ focused on a character we had met in a previous novel, but that two of those characters also made occasional appearances. I loved Frankie in ‘Ache’ so I was very intrigued to learn more about him.

The relationship between Frankie and Arlo is mired in a long history that, at times, seems insurmountable. What shines through is their love for one another – and that, in spite of everything, is enough. Seeing these two characters finally open up and trust each other again is heart-achingly beautiful. As always, Marley has fleshed out the story with other characters who I cannot wait to see get their happy ending in future books.

Round up of April’s reads

April saw lots of fabulous new titles being released – including several I’ve been (impatiently!) waiting for. Let’s break them down.

Warwick – Kelly Fox

I’ve been a huge fan of Kelly Fox for a while and, like so many others, have been dying to learn how Warwick got his happy ending. In book 4 of the Rebel Sky series, we see Joaquin and Colt team up to tackle Warwick’s fear of falling in love head on. The dynamic between the three of them was wonderful. I especially loved the way Kelly built up the individual relationships before cementing them into the throuple. Despite Joaquin and Colt being determined to bring Warwick to his knees, at no point did it feel that their feelings and relationship with one another played second fiddle. It was a super sweet story featuring *very* hawt levels of spice and lots of fun scenes with characters we’ve come to love from the previous stories.

If you haven’t read any of Kelly’s stories before – you can basically jump in with any series BUT, I highly recommend starting with Sanctuary – Kelly Fox. Don’t forget to check out her fabulous f/f romance which is a prequel to Sanctuary – Scout and the Lavender Girl – Kelly Fox.

Taken by Storm – K M Neuhold

KM Neuhold is an author I reread over and over again and, let me tell you, the second book in her Palm Island series did not disappoint. Taken by Storm features a fake relationship between a grumpy chef and his employee. Full of lots of gorgeous swoony moments, high levels of heat, and lots of laughs, it’s definitely one that will be joining my reread list! Featuring an easter egg that hinted at future storylines for lots of other characters, it left me chomping at the bit for the next book in the series! Even with only two books so far, I can tell that these characters are going to become just as beloved for me as the boys from Heathens Ink and Four Bears Construction.

Hand Picked – May Archer

I cannot tell you how loud I shrieked when I saw this book had been released. Pick Me – the first book in the Sunday Brother’s series was my first experience of May Archer’s work and it stayed with me a long time after I’d finished. In fact, I loved it so much, that I reread it the day that Hand Picked was released so that all the characters were fresh in my mind.

Hand Picked delivered a wonderful twist on the ‘accidentally married’ trope that I haven’t seen before. When a single dad and his child’s teacher drunkenly take part in an age old small town tradition, they find themselves hurtling down a path full of nosy neighbours, interfering family members, lots of humour, and a heap full of love.

I sighed so many times reading this book. In fact, I may go and reread it when I’ve finished this blog post just so I can sigh some more…

Virgin Hearts – Emmy Sanders

Emmy Sanders stormed onto the M/M romance scene in March with her release of Fool Hearts, book one of the Plum Valley Cowboys series. I might need to do a whole separate review post just to convey how much I loved the first book. Spanning a friendship across the decades, Fool Hearts spun a tale of unrequited love and yearning that had me gross sobbing. After experiencing the ups and downs of Wyatt and Easton’s relationship, their happily ever after was so well deserved and beautiful to witness. The epilogue gave us a sneak peek at the characters for Virgin Hearts, and I for one could not wait.

Emmy had a lot to live up to with this follow up but man, she did not disappoint. When Hawthorne, a recently out cowboy with no experience with men, wins a contest for his favourite adult entertainer’s support for the town’s first Pride Parade – he’s not expecting to find himself in a friends-with-benefits situation. Mateo, aka Silver, proves to be so much more than the persona he displays on screen. Emmy delivers the same poignant love as Fool Hearts – capturing once more the beautiful angst the characters face on their journey to their HEA. With lots of humour, risqué photo shoots, and enough spice to ensure you need a tall glass of ice water, this one is not to be missed. Again, it’s earned a firm place on my reread list and I’m already counting down the days until the release of Unconventional Hearts.

Always – Loren Leigh

Ok, so this one didn’t technically get released in April, but I was shamefully late to discovering this gem of a debut. Told entirely from the point of view of Jin, this book was everything that I’ve come to love in m/m romance. Containing two of my absolute favourite tropes (bisexual awakening and brother’s best friend), this book beautifully walked the line between angst and love. Even though it is a single pov, Loren conveyed Kepler’s yearning for Jin so convincingly that you couldn’t help but fall in love with them both.

This is the first book in her Indigo Falls College series and, if this book is anything to go by, Loren is going to be a one click author for me for all future releases.


I’ll always remember the naïve joy that I had writing my first manuscript. The way I treasured that first draft. Oh, I knew of course that I would need to edit, but I truly believed the hard work was done.

I look back now, and I laugh, and laugh.

Let me caveat what I’m about to tell you by saying – this is what works for me. I’ve completed several manuscripts, attended a few online courses, participated in critique groups, read editing books, and exchanged advice with several writing friends. Because, let me tell you, I was woefully underprepared for what being a writer actually involved. And I’m a nerd – give me an opportunity to study something and I’m all over it. Over the years, this has coalesced into the way that works best for me. I’m also very aware that my process is likely to change as time goes on. No doubt I will revisit this blog post at a future time…and laugh once again.

First things first – I try not to edit as I’m going along. There is a temptation when you’re drafting to go back and craft those initial chapters over and over again until you’ve got a shining beacon of an opening. The problem with this? Well, if you’re anything like me, you’ll procrastinate over writing the rest of the sodding thing because you can’t move on until it’s perfect. After spending a decade (not an exaggeration, sadly) crafting the first few chapters of a manuscript, I realised that wasn’t the way forward.

So, what I did for the next two manuscripts, is I refused to read anything that I’d written in the chapters before, and just ploughed on regardless. This worked better, but it still didn’t feel quite right. Sometimes, I would lose the thread of the story or the voice of the character where I had jumped between scenes without revisiting anything that preceded it.

Now, whenever I sit down to write, I read the chapter or scene before. If I notice any errors, awkward language etc, I make a quick change, but I don’t agonise over the language – that fun comes later. Then, I launch into the next scene. I find this helps keep me focused on the character’s mindset and voice.

Once the manuscript is complete – I put it away for a week and have a break.

Hahaha – gotcha! If you read my previous post, you know this is bollocks. You should take a break – but my brain is an asshole so we carry on!

Once the draft is complete – before I do any editing, I send it to my alpha readers. I have three fabulous ladies who are all fast readers. Once they’ve given me feedback, I use that to begin to consider the direction I want to take my edits.

Then comes my first full read through. In this one, I focus on characters, arcs, plot, and pacing. New scenes are written, and old ones struck entirely. It’s also an opportunity to cut down any unnecessary sentences. I read a piece of advice that has stuck with me – ‘every sentence needs to have a function.’ If it doesn’t – cut it out! It’s made such a huge difference to my writing.

Once this read through is complete, I go back again for the next one. I pay close attention to the language (like, the many fucking times my characters SMILE!!) and search up suitable alternatives. I check for typos (although I will inevitably miss a few thousand) and pay attention to the characters’ voices.

Once this edit is complete, it’s time for it to wing it’s way to a beta reader. Even though I have my awesome alpha readers (who I’m super grateful for), a beta reader is usually someone who is well versed with what does and doesn’t work in the genre. As someone who is normally distanced from you and the story, their feedback can often be more constructive. Their thoughts will give you a good indication of how your intended readership will react to your book and what you can improve upon.

Using their feedback, I will generally tweak storylines, add more descriptions (because this is something I always struggle with so is generally picked up!) and take into consideration anything else they have raised.

Then – it’s time for it to go for developmental editing. This tends to be a more in-depth analysis of your manuscript than a beta read. Focusing on plot, characters, and pacing, they can help advice you on how to shape your book into a better beast. You can also ask the editor for advice on areas you feel are weaker which can be really useful. My editor also offers a zoom call option which is super handy to just talk through her notes.

What follows then is normally my biggest edit. With some manuscripts, I’ve scrapped entire characters or storylines. With others, I’ve reordered scenes and introduced whole new ones.

The final stage is copy editing and proof reading. Now some people are tempted to skip this step but, speaking as a reader, please don’t. You wouldn’t believe how easy it is for a typo or error to be missed. I once had a chapter that was read by 6 people in my critique group, several family members, and two agents. It was only when it was being copy edited that a major error was pointed out. It was a proper forehead slapping moment. It seemed so obvious when it was brought to my attention, but up until that point, I’d missed it entirely. From a readers point of view – nothing pulls me out of a story faster than a typo or error. The writer is often too close to the material to see the errors – which is why using a professional copyeditor/proofreader can be so useful.

Now – I’m aware I’ve pointed out that I use three different professionals to help me whip my manuscript into shape. As I said at the start, this is because it is what works for me right now. It’s not necessarily the route for everyone! You may have alpha readers who negate the need for a beta reader. Or, if you’ve used a beta reader, you might not need developmental editing. Basically, you need to find what works for you.

Finally, BUT MOST IMPORTANTLY,if you do decide to enlist any professional help – do your research. Reach out to other authors in your genre to see who they have used. Read reviews and testimonials on their websites. Check the front pages of the bestsellers or books you’ve enjoyed in your genre and see if you think you’d work well for you.

And remember, their advice is just that – advice. You do not need to take it. At the end of the day, it is your baby, your project. You need to make it what you envisioned it to be. Yes, take their thoughts into consideration, but if you disagree with something they suggested, you do not have to do it. At the end of the day – it is one person’s opinion. Don’t get me wrong – if everyone is giving you the same feedback, you need to take what they are saying into consideration – however hard that might be. But ultimately, you need to do what is right for you, your process, and your book.

Confessions of a Pantser

Any of my alpha readers will tell you that I’m a terrible pantser. Even if I try to establish a plan before I write, I get a few chapters in and the whole thing gets thrown out of the sodding window. It’s not my fault – honestly! It’s these bossy characters demanding what they want – especially those sneaky side characters who decide they want a main role in a later book. I’ve got so much respect for authors who are able to plot and stick to it.

When I’m writing, the first half of the book always takes me the longest. It’s when you have to make all those little decisions – who are your characters? What drives them? What do they look like? What differentiates their voice from the other characters? What do they want vs what do they need?

 And that’s just the characters. Next you have to consider the plot – what will happen and how will your character arcs fit into and be driven by this? Couple this with everything else you need to come up with, and it makes sense as to why the first few chapters can take the longest.

I can spend weeks slowly working on my manuscript, writing as the mood takes me. At this stage, I average anything from zero to about 4k per week.

However, when I hit the 40k mark, a change happens. It’s at this point that I’ve established my characters and the plot really takes over. From here on out, it’s a race to the finish line. The story takes over my mind to the point of obsession – everything in my life grounds to a halt. My laptop comes to work so I can write on my lunch break. Takeaways replace home cooked meals. Sleep becomes non-existent. The moment my children are in bed, my laptop comes out. I go from writing a few hundred words every few days to averaging about 5k a day.

This isn’t a brag. Yes, it’s great that I can average that figure, but it comes at the expense of my normal life. My OCD likes to shoehorn in with my novels in the latter half of the process – forcing me to keep going until I’ve reached the final words. My brain tells me that, if I slow down, I won’t ever get the creative juices flowing again. That I’ll be a failure if I don’t get it finished.

So, on the one hand, the final half of my first draft comes together at exceptional speed. On the other though, it always needs heavy editing and reshaping.

Once it’s finished, I’m left feeling almost…bereft. This thing that has taken up all of my mental space is suddenly complete. Of course, there’s still bucketfuls of editing that needs to be done, but the bulk of the story has been told.

What I should tell you, (what my writing friends always tell me), is that’s important to take a break once you’ve finished that first draft. Put it in a drawer, walk away from it for a week, and come back and look at it with fresh eyes. Let your mind and creativity have a break to recharge. This is absolutely the healthy advice and will likely leave you with a stronger manuscript as a result.

If though, you have an arsehole brain like mine, and you dive straight into edits or writing your next book, (or I don’t know, maybe writing a blog post)…know you’re not alone and this is a judgement free zone.

Welcome to my new website!

Hello and welcome!

I cannot tell you how long it has taken me to get this website looking mildly ok. I mistakenly thought that I was quite technologically minded – however, the amount of hours I’ve spent on here suggest that is bullshit.

Hopefully as time goes on I will get better at understanding how to edit things and move them around to my liking. For now though – welcome and enjoy my ramblings!