Second Wind by Aimee Nicole Walker

Title: Second Wind Word Count:236 pgs
Genre: Contemporary Gay Romance

Blurb:Second wind: a new strength or energy to continue something that is an effort. After an amicable divorce, Lincoln Huxley is ready to embrace the sexuality he repressed for more than two decades. Rush Holden is no longer willing to settle for closeted men or those who don’t share his dreams of marriage and fatherhood. A chance encounter on a lakeside pier is the second wind they both need. Or will it just be a painful reminder of all they had lost?

Second chance: an opportunity to try something again that failed one time. Rush and Lincoln have shared a lot of firsts—friendship, young love, and heartbreak. Cruel reality forced the two men to choose paths that took their lives in different directions. Twenty-six years later, they get a second chance to fall in love with each all over again. Can it really be that simple, or will the same issues ruin their happiness a second time?

Happily ever after: to live happily for the rest of one’s life. Rush and Lincoln know that love and life can’t be defined by words alone. Patience, commitment, and the determination to do whatever it takes will be the only way the two men achieve their happily ever after.

Second Wind is a funny, sexy, and endearing standalone romance novel about love, loss, and rediscovery. It contains sexually explicit material and is intended for adults 18 and older.

My Review: This story has been told many times before, but this one really hit me in the ‘feels’ from the very beginning. We are introduced to two young boys who are inseparable from a very early age. They champion each other on the playground and make grand plans of what they want to be in the future. They start feeling the tingles during their preteen years, not really sure what it means. By the time they hit the teen years Rush Holden has pretty much figured out what it means for him. Rush Holden knows he’s totally and irrevocably in love with his best friend Lincoln Huxley. Linc has the same feelings but fear has him resisting the urge and he pulls away from Rush. Linc the jock is certainly afraid of the stigma that comes with liking a boy. He knows it hurts Rush , but he just can’t topple the social hierarchy of which he’s been made the king. Rush stays in the shadows alone with his camera, with only his passion of photography keeping him sane.

A glimmer of hope appears when Rush had to help tutor Linc for his classes. They regain some of their closeness, but their true relationship remains a secret. They share secret kisses and explore the physical side of their relationship with a few stolen moments. These special moments have been indelibly imprinted in both their minds. Rush and Linc lock these treasured moments in a vault that’s kept safely in their hearts. They part ways at the end of high school. On prom night, Rush and Linc enjoy one final heartbreaking dance in the confines of a photographer’s dark room. All their dreams for the future are left in the dark.

Fast forward 20 yrs in the future,here we have Rush stuck in a relationship that seems to go nowhere. It is clear to see that he has been shaped by his past. He’s with a man who doesn’t value him, he forgets their anniversary and tries to turn it around by blaming Rush. Everyone around him knows that Rush deserves better. When he finally gets a proposal Rush is ecstatic, but their is an underlying sadness he knows should not be there. On the morning of the wedding Rush is left standing at the altar, he’s devastated but sadly not overly surprised. His family and friends help him to pick up the pieces of his life.

In the meantime, somewhere in another place Lincoln is also picking up the pieces of his life. Becoming empty nesters has forced Linc’s wife to ask for a divorce. She knows that even though their life has been good, they are more best friends than lovers. They come to a mutually amicable agreement without any drama. For the first time in over 20 years, Linc admits to being gay.Linc cries in his ex wife’s arms for the love of the boy he lost. It is wonderful seeing the support that the ex couple give to each other for the sake of love.

It was certainly inevitable that these star crossed lovers would meet again. This becomes true when Linc goes to Chicago to reveal to his kids, his deepest darkest secret. Linc can’t believe his luck when he runs into the love that he thought he had lost. Their reunion is a joyous affair where everything fades in the background. Their passion is combustible and Rush and Linc realize that nothing has changed in the twenty years they have been apart. What they feel for each other is even more concentrated and pervasive than the puppy love that they felt in their teens.

They spend a blissful week together, making up for lost time, exploring each other’s bodies. They experience a brand new range of emotions like never before. After coming out to his children Linc decides to introduce the love of his life.Rush gets a warm reception from Linc’s kids who are grateful to the man that’s made their dad so happy. However, all good things must come to an end or just a pause.

In their case, they’ve both decided to pursue a long distance relationship for the time being. They do this for a few months with both of them visiting each other for a week here and there. Linc and Rush experience the glorious wonder of the internet, using Skype which affords them the opportunity for some kinky sexy fun. In the end, Linc makes a grand gesture by uprooting himself and moving in with Rush. They are both ecstatic to finally be together, enjoying all the little nuances of everyday life. It doesn’t take them long to take the plunge into married bliss. They decide to complete their family by adopting a beautiful baby girl. All their dreams are finally coming true. This is a love that was carved out throughout space and time for only these two incredible souls. I give this my ratings of 5- bring out the vibrators. This one is truly hottt!!!

P.S. This story has a bomb playlist. Each chapter is associated with the most perfect song. This definitely added to the feelings of the character in my opinion. Check it out.

Resilient Love: Unquiet by Melanie Hansen

​Title : Unquiet                         Word Count: 103,129

Genre: Contemporary Gay Romance
Blurb: Loren Smith has been in love with Eliot Devlin almost his entire life. During their turbulent childhood and teen years, Loren didn’t always understand Eliot, and sometimes he could be a challenge, but Eliot was the only one to ever truly ease Loren’s deep loneliness and accept him. When Eliot’s increasingly erratic and self-destructive behavior culminates in a suicide attempt at seventeen, Loren is devastated.

Upon meeting again by chance nine years later, Loren is enjoying a successful career as a police officer while Eliot’s life has been a constant struggle for stability. In and out of mental hospitals, with a rap sheet a mile long, he continues to be buffeted by the twin storms of mania and depression. Loren’s love and protectiveness for Eliot are deeply ingrained in him, however, and their feelings for each other are quickly rekindled.

Loren has issues of his own he’s dealing with, and trying to understand and cope with Eliot’s bipolar disorder isn’t easy. They believe they’re meant to be, and Eliot brings a fulfillment to Loren’s life that no one else will ever match. But as they both come to realize, love by itself can’t cure all.
My Review: This is one of the most heartbreaking romances I’ve read in a long time. It was my first from this author and it definitely will not be my last. It was very well written and quite informative about a very sensitive subject, Mental Illness. From the very first moment Loren and Eliot meets at the age of 6, they’ve been inseparable.  According to Loren, Eliot is the one that took away his loneliness. Loren was a bit of a loner when he was a kid since he was chubby. Eliot always seemed very hyper always jumping from one subject to the next. They were both latch key kids and they often spent their time at each others house. Eliot was always there to support Loren as they were growing up. Loren was always there to hold Eliot and listen to him even when he acted weird. 

It was during their teenage years that they both became more than friends as they came out to each other. They professed their love for each other and talked about  their futures together. Throughout this all, Loren noticed that Eliot was acting more and more strange day by day. He suggested that Eliot get some help when he realized how depressed he was getting. Before he knew it Eliot seemed to be back to his normal self. 

One day at school Loren goes looking for Eliot and finds him on his knees pleasuring one of the football jocks. Loren is devastated and confronts Eliot with his accusations.  When Eliot tries to brush it off  Loren gets really upset and says some really hurtful things to Eliot and walks away. If isn’t until the next day that Loren finds out that Eliot attempted suicide and failed. After this their lives move in different directions without them speaking again.

It isn’t until 9 yrs later that Loren and Eliot meet up again. Loren is now an  undercover cop meeting an informant in a gay strip club when he sees ‘Angel’  dancing on stage and recognized him as none other than Eliot. Eliot doesn’t even seem to know who he is after giving him a lap dance. Loren is horrified to see Eliot in this way and decides to use his resources to get in touch with Eliot’s mother to get some answers.  The answers are definitely not what Loren expects. Eliot has since been diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder 1 where he goes between manic episodes and depression. Eliot’s mom Rebecca has all but given up on him, she  is all burnt out and doesn’t know how to help him anymore. Eliot drinks way too much and does drugs in order to keep the demons away, but it’s obviously not working. Loren feels so much guilt and wants to try to help the boy he once loved.

When Loren knocks on Eliot’s door for the first time after so much time has passed, Eliot thinks he is in a dream.  They come together like they’ve never been apart.  Loren asks Eliot to date him, but he soon realizes that El is even more sick than he was before. It isn’t long before he truly sees what El looks like during a manic episode and it’s definitely not pretty. El is almost thrown in jail and has racked up quite a few charges. They are able to get him into a mental institution after his mother pays a hefty fee. Loren stands by El supporting him the whole way and El gets a little more stable and does his 3 mths. stint successfully.  

El and Loren realize that sticking to a regimen will definitely aid in El’s recovery. El tries to stay on the straight and narrow path and he does well , but it’s not long before he becomes manic again. All of his worries over Loren’s dangerous job as a cop culminates into him having a severe break with reality. This time his manic episodes affect Loren’s professional life when  El outs him at work and causes him embarrassment. This takes a little bit longer to get  over for Loren but  he finally acknowledges in the end that he has to change his thought process about El’s illness. Loren comes to the realization that El’s illness can’t fit into the expectations and dreams that he always had for his future.  He decides to change his dreams to be all encompassing by taking joy from Eliot being a part of his life. This was definitely not the last time that Eliot would hurt Loren.

Three years into their future, El once again tries to  commit suicide and almost succeeds. Loren becomes very bitter and it almost cost them their relationship,  but somehow they persevered. I can only imagine how exhausting it must be to love someone with a mental illness, but what comes through in Loren and Eliot’s journey is unconditional love.  I really enjoyed these characters despite all the adversities that they will face, most of which will be beyond their control. They make me want to believe in a love that is resilient,  one that will stand against the tests of time. I give this my ratings of 4- the sexual chemistry was definitely amazing between these two, but I fell in love with them because of their all encompassing resilient love story. 

Wes & Toren by J.M. Colail

Title : Wes and Toren                Word Count : 304 pgs

Genre : Contemporary Gay Romance

Blurb : It’s not so easy being young, gay, and in love for the first time at the average high school. Senior Toren Grey cares more about his family and his grades than what brand of clothes he wears. He agrees with the majority consensus that he’s a nerd. So he’s quite surprised when resident bad boy Wesley Carroll speaks to him in the hall, stirring feelings that Toren has to hide.

Disconcerted by Wes’s free and easy ways, Toren can’t deny the attraction between them. As he relaxes and gets to know Wes better, he finds there’s more to the sexy rebel than his public image. Before long the young men are exploring new territory and falling in love, but life just isn’t that simple. After they graduate, obstacles block their relationship at every turn: Wes working versus Toren in college, the virulent disapproval of parents, and everyday trials faced by any struggling young couple. Wes and Toren have to believe in each other… and never doubt that their love can conquer all.

My Review : This is just such a very heartwarming story with lovable characters.  It allows us to believe in the promise of young love and all that it entails. This is one of those stories that is imprinted in my mind and I keep on rereading whenever I need a jumpstart. Wes  is not  the typical high school bad boy. Underneath all his layers he is a sweet caring guy who is gay. He goes after what he wants and what he wants is Toren. Toren is a sweet shy geek who has a crush on Wes.

Toren is really surprised when Wes signs them up to be partners for a history project. This gives them a lot of time to spend together and Wes slowly opens up  Toren and pulls him out of his shell. Toren is scared at first because he is not sure if Wes is just playing with his feelings.He comes to depend on Wes and before they know it , they are  in a caring stable relationship.  The sexual chemistry is really on another plane with these two sweethearts and offers a level of intimacy which is almost tangible. They finish their last year of high school and it opens up certain doors for them, not only towards an educational future, but  towards a committed adult relationship. 

Wes’ mom is far from pleased when she catches the boys making out in her garage. Wes’ parents give him an ultimatum.  Stop seeing Toren or move out. Wes decides to move out. He is so in love with Toren and he knows he can’t deny a part of himself. Toren is shocked, a little scared and a whole lot of happy when Wes asks him to move in with him. Before he can make a snap decision,  Wes tells him to think it through carefully. Toren doesn’t have to think too hard, he knows what his heart wants. It’s a beautiful thing to see them starting their lives right, fusing every aspect of their  lives together. 

Toren’s innocence is so genuine and his shy quality is so endearing,  that is why it’s so hot to see him taking charge in the bedroom and letting that sex kitten side take over. The shy ones are always the sexiest,  rawr 😉. Did I mention how shy I am😇?

 It soon becomes clear that Wes isn’t the only one drawn to Toren’s  innocence when Tor goes to university,  Tor’s lab partner is quite smitten with his appeal. Josh, his cute lab partner gives him a kiss after dropping him home after their study session. Wes is just in time to see his boyfriend being kissed by another man and he is furious. This is their first real fight and Wes takes a few minutes to cool off. Poor Toren breaks down crying, never in a million years believing that their first argument would be over such a misunderstanding. They have hot , sexy make-up sex, tge best kind 😉.Wes lays claim to Toren by making sweet passionate love with him. However,  he makes it very clear to Toren that he doesn’t trust his lab partner.  A little bit of jealousy is good for the soul. It helps us to appreciate that special someone in our lives.

Niggling doubts start to creep in their relationship when Wes starts thinking that Toren has a bright future ahead of him while he is just a grease monkey. Toren tries his best to reassure Wes and explain to him that it doesn’t matter as long as they make each other happy.

Their love was faithful and solid as a rock throughout the whole story. As soon as they found their footing again, Wes becomes really sick. Toren has to rush him to the hospital for an emergency appendectomy surgery. Wes recovers successfully and typical tough guy acts like a baby while recuperating. I am sure it was hard for him though, literally, since he had to sleep beside his sexy shy Toren for two whole weeks without sex. That would make any red-blooded male want to pull their hair out. I totally empathize with him. They certainly make up for it once Wes is fully healed. Hot , hot , hot😆. This was a great story and words can’t explain how much I enjoy it every time I read it over again. I think this is probably my 5th time rereading it. I give this my ratings of 5 – bring out the vibrators.