Wednesday, October 18, 2017

AotM: One Call Away & The Arrangement by Felice Stevens (Review+Giveaway)

Title: One Call Away
Author: Felice Stevens


When a brutal attack from a jealous competitor leaves Noah Strauss, darling of the modeling world, physically scarred and emotionally damaged, he quits the runway to become a psychologist. Using his contacts from his time in the spotlight, he creates One Call Away, a radio show dedicated to gay men looking for love, advice or someone to talk to. But with secrets of his own and a mother who refuses to understand the career path he's chosen, the one person Noah can't seem to help is himself.

On a drunken dare from the senior partner's grandson, Oren Leavitt calls Noah’s radio show, pretending to be gay. Only Oren isn't certain if he's pretending. He's left his strict Orthodox Jewish upbringing behind, but the guilt remains. Guilt that his actions have prevented his sister from finding a husband and guilt that he's failed his parents. Talking to "Dr. Noah" helps, and as he finds himself calling the man again and again, he knows he must be honest. But Oren is unsure if he's lying to Noah or himself.

For Noah, trust is paramount; he's been deceived in his personal and professional life and while he desperately wants to help Oren, he also finds himself falling for the sweet and tortured man. Oren is trapped: he risks losing his job and more importantly the love and security of his family but knows he can't hide if he wants to be with Noah. When unresolved heartaches from the past rise up to control the present, Noah and Oren discover that love often comes from the most unexpected places, and sometimes a call for help not only saves a life, it can be a new and beautiful beginning.

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4.5 Stars!!!

After being dared by his supervisor/senior partner's grandson, Oren calls Noah's radio show, which caters exclusively to gay men, pretending to be gay himself. He feels conflicted afterward, both because he might have not been pretending and for the prank call. He calls Noah again to apologize and Noah helps him admit that he's actually gay. Only there are so many reasons why Oren can't come out, his family is Orthodox Jewish and the firm he works at is not precisely gay-friendly. 

After suffering an attack when he was a model, Noah quit the runway and studied to become a psychologist. However, he has trust issues that might make it difficult for him to believe in Oren, especially after the way they started their friendship. Noah can't help but be drawn to the trapped man, though, and wants to help him in any way he can.

I loved Oren so much. I wasn't too sure about him at first, because of him being closeted, but he actually had very valid reasons to be. He was such a great son and brother and my heart broke for him so many times. I actually cried in a very powerful scene with him and his parents and sister. I liked Noah. Although, he lost some brownie points with me with his reticence to accept others' advice and even applying the advice he gave to others in his own life. He was really stubborn sometimes and I wanted to shake some sense into him. Oren and Noah were perfect for each other, though, helping each other through their issues. Nevermind that their chemistry was off-the-charts and their love transcended the pages. 

Now onto the villain, I absolutely hated Harlan with the fire of a thousand suns! He was awful and I would've liked to read more of the aftermath of his poor decisions. I can't say I liked Noah's mom much, but I guess she wasn't that bad. I adored Oren's parents and his sister, Ilana, though! I also loved seeing Ash (#TeamAshForeverAndEver), Drew, Brandon and Tash and I'd really love to read Jeremy and Blake's story, pretty please, Ms. Stevens? *makes puppy eyes*

While the book started a bit slow, the pace evened out soon enough and I was swept into the sweet, passionate love story and I couldn't put it down until I finished, wanting to find out what was going to happen with Oren and Noah. All in all, very recommendable!

*** Copy provided to Bayou Book Junkie for my reading pleasure, a review wasn't a requirement. ***

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Title: The Arrangement
Author: Felice Stevens


Carter Haywood lives for the weekends—specifically the one weekend every month when he escapes real life, with all the pressures of work and caring for his special needs brother, to do whatever he wants, with whomever he wants. Sex is only a release; he's not looking for love, a relationship or even a second night with the same man, until he walks into a bar and finds someone who makes leaving it all behind impossible. After one incredibly passionate encounter, he breaks his rule and goes back. He needs to see this man again. And again.

Damaged goods. That's all Reed Kincaide sees and hears when he looks in the mirror. Anxiety and ADHD define his life and he’s learned to keep people at a distance, never letting them get close enough to know who he really is. When Carter proposes a monthly weekend of sex without strings, it's the ideal arrangement for him. Or so he thinks. Every month, leaving Carter proves to be more and more difficult. It’s not only the intensely hot sex they have in their hotel suite; Reed wonders about the secret life Carter refuses to share.

As months pass and they grow closer Reed finds himself falling for Carter, but he needs more than hurried hugs and farewell kisses. He wants it all. Letting Reed into his carefully constructed family life could upset Carter’s whole world, but it might be the risk he’s finally willing to take, if it means keeping Reed. Once bodies are engaged, the heart is sure to follow, and Carter and Reed discover that holding on to each other is the first step in letting go of the past.

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5 Stars

 *** Copy provided to Bayou Book Junkie in exchange for a fair and honest review. ***

Carter takes one weekend every month away from home and his responsibilities of raising his little brother to go out, let loose and hook-up. He meets bartender, Reed, while out one night and they go back to Carter's hotel room. After a steamy encounter, they awkwardly part ways, but neither can stop thinking of the other, so Carter hunts Reed down again and proposes an arrangement. One weekend a month filled with no strings attached sex. But what happens when feelings start to develop?

Honestly, I didn't care for Carter throughout most of the book. He gave me whiplash. Sweet and caring and then he could suddenly turn cold and distant whenever he felt Reed overstepped the bounds of the arrangement. I understood why he felt he had to do what he did, but it was still a tough pill to swallow at times. Reed was so sweet and so insecure. I just wanted to give him a big old squeeze and tell him everything was going to be all right.

Reed and Carter shared a chemistry and pull that wouldn't be denied. The connection was powerful, and I loved watching them grow and learn to accept that they could have what neither ever thought they'd want or deserve: A loving relationship. The story is well-written, and I thought Felice did a wonderful job with the subject matter of mental illness. As much as I thought Carter could be a douche, his interactions with his little brother were absolutely heartwarming. And eventually, I fell just as in love with Carter as I did with Reed.

This was a very enjoyable read. Emotional and sexy and I can't wait to see what Ms. Stevens has in store for us next!

I'm a huge fan of Felice Stevens and I have to admit she has a way of writing books that tug hard on my heart strings.  There is usually drama, romance, angst and a bit of humor.  An emotional roller coaster ride for the reader and this book is no different in that respect. 

I loved the premise of the story. One weekend a month, no strings. No contact the rest of the time. 

“We’ll have an arrangement. It shouldn’t be too difficult. I have obligations that keep me home except for one weekend per month. That’s when we’ll meet and spend our time together. Other than that…” He shrugged. “There’s no real need for us to talk. We aren’t dating or romantically involved. It’s not even friends with benefits since we’re not really friends.” Carter narrowed his gaze. “What do you think? Can you handle it?”...

...Relationships were nothing but another avenue for someone to disappoint him, and he’d had enough disappointments in his life. “Yeah. I think it might be exactly what I need.”

However, over time, they can't help but develop feelings for each other, even if it wasn't part of the plan. 

I liked both Reed and Carter. I felt their connection and definitely wanted to see them together. However, there were certain times where they frustrated me. These two men have one vital thing in common, a feeling of very little self-worth. How can you accept that someone might actually want to stick around when your own mother couldn't get away from you fast enough? How can you trust that someone really wants you when your own parent didn't? 

Neither man is perfect, there are so many secrets between the both of them. However, if only they could find the strength, the courage to confide in one another they might find that they could actually help one another. The connection is there and they don't even know it. Honestly, this is so frustrating. Carter and Reed are so good for each other, yet they have these secrets between them. It's understandable at first, you don't reveal these things to a one night stand or a hookup. But as their arrangement continues, it's more and more difficult to not get angry about the lack of communication.  A lot of pain and suffering could have been saved if they would have trusted one another sooner. Of course, then this would probably be a very different story.  

4.5 Stars!

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Felice Logo

I have always been a romantic at heart. I believe that while life is tough, there is always a happy ending just around the corner. I started reading traditional historical romances when I was a teenager, then life and law school got in the way. It wasn’t until I picked up a copy of Bertrice Small and became swept away to Queen Elizabeth’s court that my interest in romance novels became renewed.
But somewhere along the way, my tastes shifted. While I still enjoys a juicy Historical romance, I began experimenting with newer, more cutting edge genres and discovered the world of Male/Male romance. Once I picked up her first, I became so enamored of the authors, the character-driven stories and the overwhelming emotion of the books, I knew I wanted to write my own.
I live in New York City with my husband and two children and hopefully soon a cat of my own. My day begins with a lot of caffeine and ends with a glass or two of red wine. I practice law but daydream of a time when I can sit by a beach somewhere and write beautiful stories of men falling in love. Although there is bound to be angst along the way, a Happily Ever After is always guaranteed.

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  1. My fav stand alone is Shape of You, but then I think it might be the only one I've read so far. I'm slowly making my way through her backlist. I really want to read The Arrangement.

  2. I'm not a big fan of short stories, but it is always nice to see how characters are doing!

  3. My favorite standalone by Felice Stevens is "The Shape Of You"

  4. Mine would be The Shape of You.

  5. My latest favorite standalone by Felice is The Shape of You. Loved that book.

  6. Congrats on AotM, Felice, and thanks for the good reviews, Mari, Tracy & Jaymie. Well let's see. How do I love Felice, let me count the ways. I'm a sucker for her Christmas story, The Greatest Gift. - Purple Reader,
    TheWrote [at] aol [dot] com

  7. I guess mine would be Please Don't Go

  8. I haven't read any of her standalones :\

  9. I haven't read any of the standalones yet