Thursday, December 22, 2016

Blog Tour ~ Operation Better Tomorrow by Brandi Evans ~ (Reviews + Giveaway)

Blog Tour ~ Operation Better Tomorrow by Brandi Evans ~ (Reviews, Excerpt, Book Trailer + Giveaway)

Title: Operation Better Tomorrow
Author: Brandi Evans
Release Date: November 29th 2016
Publisher: Loose ID
Genre: MM Romance
Publisher: Loose ID
Genre: MM Romance


The interview of a lifetime.

When Aaron Strickland’s assigned to write a feature article on Caleb Douglas, the first openly gay soldier to receive the Medal of Honor, he’s over-the-moon. Meet a sexy, real-life hero? Yes, please. And in the weeks leading up to their interview, the former soldier becomes a recurring player in Aaron’s fantasies.

A man Caleb can’t forget.

Years earlier, lost in the throes of depression and PTSD after an ambush left his body and soul scarred, Caleb was on the brink of giving up when a magazine article changed his life forever—an article written by Aaron. Emerging from the depths of his pain, Operation Better Tomorrow—part homestead, part halfway house for those down on their luck—was born.

Tragedy lurking on the horizon.

As the days pass, Caleb and Aaron’s tragic pasts bind them in ways they aren’t prepared for, but it also leaves them vulnerable. Pushing forward means breaking down walls they’ve built to protect themselves, and just as they’re poised on the precipice of happiness, a darkness descends on the homestead, a hatred that will leave one man clinging to life and the other willing to risk everything to save him.

Resisting the urge to follow Aaron, Caleb unlatched the wicker picnic basket from the left saddlebag, grabbed the thick blanket from the right, and traipsed deep into the waist-high colors. Blues, purples, and yellows dotted the greenery and swayed in the late-summer breeze. The meadow smelled sweet and made him think of peace and tranquility. The area, along with Aaron’s article and daily meditation, were the best anti-depressants Caleb had ever had.
He set the basket and Aaron’s bag down and unfolded the blanket. Considering the height and density of the flowers, laying out the cloth was an exercise in frustration management. A step-and-tug here, an expletive or twelve there, he inched the material down until he created a makeshift hideaway.
Before taking his seat and disappearing into the overgrowth, he glanced around until he found Aaron. The other man was zoomed in on a yellow bud, and Caleb smiled. He liked the idea of sharing this place with Aaron. It was the perfect backdrop to delve into his pain.
He unclipped his walkie and set it on the corner of the blanket before dishing food onto the thin, floral plates that had come with the basket. Thick turkey sandwiches with blue cheese and fresh tomatoes, fruit salad, and oven-baked green bean crisps—green beans drizzled with olive oil, salted, peppered, and then baked until they were crispy. To complement the meal, he’d chosen a Château Timberlay Bordeaux. It wasn’t a full-on red, but it had a deep, lush flavor he really liked.
He uncorked the bottle, removed one of the wineglasses fastened to the inside of the—
“Oh, God, Caleb. Don’t move.”
Caleb froze, Aaron’s soft command triggering an ingrained response from his Army days. When a commander told you to freeze while on patrol, you fucking froze. Period.
No debate. You obeyed or you could die. But what danger was there out here? Had the other man seen a snake or something?
“Don’t move a muscle.” Click. Click, click. “It’s breathtaking.”
Caleb breathed a sigh of relief. Aaron was just taking pictures. “Aaron—”
“Shh.” Click, click. “Not even a muscle. This shot’s gorgeous. You’re fucking gorgeous. I can’t… Your profile’s…” Click, click. Click. Click. “Oh my God, look at yourself.”
Caleb turned toward Aaron’s voice as the other man emerged from the flowers and crawled onto the blanket in an awkward “three-legged” motion, holding out his camera. Blades of grass and broken flower petals stuck in his perfectly messy hair, and his smile was eight times more breathtaking than any Caleb had ever seen. The intensity, the passion on Aaron’s face, matched what was stirring inside him.
Aaron settled beside Caleb and held the camera so they could both see the screen on the back, but Caleb couldn’t take his eyes off the man beside him, watching Aaron as he looked at Caleb’s image on the screen. The pleasure on Aaron’s face, as cliché as it was, stole Caleb’s breath, and when Aaron turned his head, Caleb captured that incredible mouth in a quick, hard kiss.
Caleb pulled back and drew his thumb over the bottom lip he’d just claimed. “Thank you.”
Aaron’s eyebrows drew together. “For what?”
“Just…thank you.” Caleb tapped his lips to Aaron’s again and then forced himself to pull back before the moment spun out of control. He wanted Aaron, but doubt was malevolent, constant. The idea of exposing himself at all was terrifying, but here, in the open, in the light of day, it positively petrified him. Not out here. Not like this. But if ever there was someone to take a chance on…

*Copy provided to Bayou Book Junkie by the author/publisher for my reading pleasure in hopes of an unbiased opinion, a review was not a requirement.*

Operation Better Tomorrow is Book 2 in the Rock-Hard Heroes series. I didn't read the first book in this series and did not feel like I was missing anything, BUT, I believe the couple from Book 1 does make an appearance in this book and their story sounded interesting so I will definitely be checking it out. You should save yourself from having to read the books out of order, and just start at the beginning :)

Reporter Aaron Stickland is given the opportunity to write a feature article on Caleb Douglas, the first openly gay soldier to receive a Medal of Honor and is excited to be given this opportunity. Caleb has refused all requests for an interview until Aaron asked for one. Aaron is invited to spend a week at Caleb's Operation Better Tomorrow location. Aaron has no idea what to expect from Caleb, but after some flirty e-mail exchanges, he's excited to meet the mysterious man. Caleb has his own agenda for meeting Aaron, the man he credits for saving his life. The attraction and feelings that both men experience were unexpected, and they have to figure out how to navigate a future while dealing with unexpected hate.

I loved everything about this story! This is the first book I've read by Brandi Evans, and I really enjoyed her writing. Everything was described so thoroughly, I felt like I was watching a movie instead. The characters had so much depth, there are no shallow, one-dimensional characters in this story! A tragedy in Aaron's past has kept him from having relationships, and he's spent his adult life trying to make up for it. Through hard work, perseverance and a refusal to quit, Caleb was able to overcome the physical trauma of final act as a soldier. Until he's building something with Aaron, he doesn't realize that he hasn't moved on from all the trauma that he's experienced.

This was a beautiful story and even though the relationship and love happened quickly (within days), it happened between two adult men who have experienced more heartache than most people ever know. I highly recommend reading this series!

Rating: 5 ++ stars!

4.5 Stars!

Decent tale, decent guys, decent romance, but Operation Better Tomorrow was barely elaborated on.

This is well-written and a decent tale, don't get me wrong, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The author created credible back-stories for both guys, very different ones and ones which affect them to date. In Caleb, the aftereffects are both mental and physical and in Aaron, they're emotionally crippling, though he tries hard not to let that be seen.

The tale had all the elements for a fling turning into something meaningful from their very first meeting, and the attraction and passion had been building from when they first made contact about the interview and burst into flame when they saw each other for the first time - I totally bought that, read that, saw that and the short timescale over which the tale had to take place totally worked for me.

The additional elements of the tale were OK, and provided reasons for the leads to bond more, and for us to see more into Aaron's psyche, but the only niggle that I have is that the actual Operation Better Tomorrow, that pivotal reason for the interview, took a complete back seat to things. There wasn't much discussion about it, and yes, though Aaron took some notes and copious pictures, it didn't feel as if he did the job he came to do. I'm not saying that the tale needed to be OBT-heavy, but we needed to know more about it, how it got founded, what its aims were, how people heard about it. There was a little, but it was TLI for something that was meant to be at the heart of their meeting.

I still enjoyed the tale and yes, I believed that these guys were it for each other. I kind of wonder if there'll be another in the series (which can be read as standalones, though I am off to check out book 1, based on the blurb and on the glimpse of the characters from that tale that make an appearance here), as there was a sweet character who stood out. Unfortunately, if there is, that means possible additional hurt for him, which would be upsetting, given his past, but I'm pretty certain from what I've read of this author, that she'd do it well and give him an amazing HEA.

ARC courtesy of the publisher and Bayou Book Junkie, for my reading pleasure.

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About the Author

Brandi Evans was raised by a caravan of traveling Gypsies. She spent her days learning the ways of her people and her nights lost in legends as old as time. Okay, not really, but that's way more interesting than the truth!

In reality, Brandi grew up the oldest child of an ordinary family. Grade school, middle school, high school. Nothing extraordinary happened until she left the nest. She joined the military, went to college, got married, and became a mom. And somewhere along the way, she discovered she liked to read—and write!—stories hot enough to melt eReaders.

These days, she calls The Natural State home where she lives with her hubby, two beautiful daughters, two dogs and a cat who has yet to realize she doesn’t own the place. Soldier. Wife. Mom. Multi-published smut writer. Brandi's life might not be "traveling Gypsy" interesting, but she's had fun. And in the end, isn't that all that really matters?

1 comment:

  1. Favorite gay fiction of 2016 was A Heart's Desire by Kris Michaels.