Reviewed by Vicki
SEX IN SEATTLE – SERIES REVIEW, BOOKS 1-3
AUTHOR: Eli Easton
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
TITLE: The Trouble With Tony
LENGTH: 144 pages
As part of the investigation into the murder of a young woman, Seattle P.I. Tony DeMarco poses as a patient of Dr. Jack Halloran, the therapist who treated the victim at a Seattle sex clinic. This isn’t the first time Tony has gone undercover, but it’s the first time he’s wanted to go under cover with one of his suspects. He can’t help it—Jack Halloran is just the kind of steely-eyed hero Tony goes for. But he’ll have to prove Halloran’s innocence and keep the doctor from finding out about his ruse before he can play Romeo.
Dr. Halloran has his own issues, including a damaged right arm sustained in the line of duty as a combat surgeon in Iraq and the PTSD that followed. He’s confused to find himself attracted to a new patient, the big, funny Italian with the puppy-dog eyes, and Tony’s humor slips right past Jack’s defenses, making him feel things he thought long buried. But can the doctor and the P.I. find a path to romance despite the secrets between them?
I have read a lot of books over the years, LOTS of romance novels in the last few years in particular, and I’m pretty sure I’ve never read one book, much less a series based around a sex clinic! What a fabulous, unique, setting! What caught my attention first was these books are set in Seattle. I am a Seattle native, I’ve lived within 25 miles of the city for 45 years. Which can be a problem, I know this area really well and I’m a bit picky about my home town. Why would I read a book that I know I might have some issues with? Cause it’s set around a sex clinic! How cool is that….
So here we go. Tony DeMarco is a Private Investigator, investigating the suspicious death of a woman named Marilyn White, a death the coroner determined was accidental. The detective working on the case until it was closed, suggested there may be something suspicious about Marilyn visiting a sex clinic for treatment before her death. Tony schedules an appointment to see Doctor Jack Halloran, at Expanded Horizons, intending to bullshit his way through a visit and see what’s up.
Jack Halloran is a former combat surgeon, injured and sent home from Iraq eighteen months ago. He has some physical injures and suffers from PTSD, flashbacks, and dreams. He tries working in a hospital, but it causes a flashback and he has to leave. He is offered a job at Expanded Horizons by Trudy, the owner, and wife of his friend Sam. He’s alone, damaged, and lonely.
Tony makes a valiant attempt to bullshit Jack, who sees through his pathetic story and gets a bit nasty. Thinking on his feet, Tony offers another reason for his visit, which is actually the truth. He has a picky dick. He decides he might as well take advantage of the visits being paid for by Marilyn’s family as part of his investigation, and see about getting himself treated. He provides Jack with an explanation about his picky dick, and Jack provides him with a very eye opening physical exam. Poor Tony!
Then we get to the heart of this story. Tony is trying to be all sneaky and find out what happened to Marilyn, plus get close to Jack without giving himself away. Jack has the beginning of some feelings for Tony, but can’t get involved with a patient. It’s a rather messy, but fun story! Not overly dramatic, no angst, but a clever story, a little bit of naughty sex with a doctor kink, and a great ending. Some humor but not cheesy, good dialogue, good writing, and the story moved along nicely. I’m also happy to say I had no issues with Seattle, there were no boo-boos! I enjoyed this one very much!
TITLE: The Enlightenment of Daniel
LENGTH: 212 pages
Business tycoon Daniel Derenzo lives for his work until his dying father reminds him life is short. When Daniel starts to reevaluate his world he experiences a startling revelation—he’s attracted to his business partner and best friend, Nick, even though Daniel always believed himself to be straight. In typical type-A fashion, Daniel dissects his newfound desires with the help of the experts at the Expanded Horizons sex clinic. He goes after Nick with the fierce determination that’s won him many a business deal.
Nick Ross was in love with Daniel years ago, when they were roommates in college. But Daniel was straight and Nick patched his broken heart by marrying Marcia. Two kids and fourteen years later, they go through the motions of their marriage like ships passing in the night. But Nick’s kids mean the world to him, and he’s afraid he’ll never get joint custody if they divorced. If he can trust his heart to an awakening Daniel, they all might find their way to a happily ever after.
Oh boy… Daniel is a handful! Type-A personality, highly driven, successful, and clueless! His dad is dying, and points out to Daniel how lonely he was, and how much he missed out on Daniel’s life. He doesn’t want the same thing to happen to Daniel, and basically tells him to get a life. Daniel ignores, or doesn’t really “get” his dad’s advice, and continues on with his life. He was married at one point, but really isn’t doesn’t want or care about a relationship or a life, he just want to win in business!
Nick is Daniel’s best friend, they went to college together, went in to business together, were each others best man at their weddings, and have just cruised along through life together. Nick had a crush on Daniel in college, but his feelings weren’t returned so he moved on. Unfortunately the happy is gone from his marriage to Marcia the Ice Queen. He’s also lost his best friend, to a certain extent. They work together, but don’t spend any quality time together. Nick is lonely, horny and miserable, and Daniel has no clue.
While on a trip in Hong Kong, Nick finally confesses to Daniel how lonely he is, how he and his wife haven’t had sex in three years. Daniel has a very strange reaction to this announcement, and has an epiphany of his own; He might have some sexual feelings for Nick! He is totally shocked by this, panics, and runs to the internet for information. He finds Expanded Horizons sex clinic in Seattle, his home town, and schedules an appointment. Never one to take things slowly, he has a couple of appointments, a little kissing with a sex surrogate, and BAM! He’s gay. Now he needs a plan of attack, to determine if Nick is interested and see what could come out of that.
The first book was fairly light. I expected this one to be as well, but it really isn’t. There’s actually a really deep story here. Nick is dealing with what amounts to bullying and blackmail from his wife, who is a controlling shrew. Yes, her mother is a controlling shrew as well, and Marcia knows it, but she is doing the same damn thing. I wanted to slap her silly! She badgers her daughter and husband endlessly. Daniel’s father is dying, they are just now realizing there might be more to life that what either of them has lived. There is a relationship developing between Nick and Daniel, and between Daniel and Nick’s kids. It’s all quite dramatic and wonderful.
This was a very good book. Great dramatic plot, with a deep message, a wonderful happy ending with a satisfying sense of redemption, and a nice bit of sex. The characters were all well developed, including Nick’s kids, who played a big part in the story. They weren’t just “there”. I was very surprised by this one, just because it was so different from the first one. Both were good but very different!
TITLE: The Mating of Michael
LENGTH: 240 pages
Everyone admires Michael Lamont for being a nurse, but his part-time work as a gay sex surrogate not only raises eyebrows, it’s cost him relationships. Michael is small, beautiful, and dedicated to working with people who need him. But what he really wants is a love of his own. He spends most of his spare time reading science fiction, especially books written by his favorite author and long-time crush, the mysteriously reclusive J.C. Guise.
James Gallway’s life is slowly but inexorably sliding downhill. He wrote a best-selling science fiction novel at the tender age of eighteen, while bedridden with complications of polio. But by twenty-eight, he’s lost his inspiration and his will to live. His sales from his J.C. Guise books have been in decline for years. Wheelchair bound, James has isolated himself, convinced he is unlovable. When he is forced to do a book signing and meets Michael Lamont, he can’t believe a guy who looks like Michael could be interested in a man like him.
Michael and James are made for each other. But they must let go of stubbornness to see that life finds a way and love has no limitations.
Oh wow…. Usually I read and review at the same time, read a few chapters, type a bit, make some notes as I go along, then read and rewrite before I send it in. Occasionally I get so tied up in a book I can’t stop and read straight through. That just happened with The Mating of Michael. This story was amazing.
I liked Michael in the last two books and was hoping he’d get his own man… He does, but he really has to work for him. Michael Lamont is a nurse for an in home nursing company, compassionately caring for housebound patients, and a sex surrogate at Expanded Horizons, caring equally compassionately for men with sex issues. As this story progresses, we learn that his mother is a nurse and he spent time as a boy at the care facility she worked at. When he was sixteen, he read a sci-fi book by J.C. Guise about a medic who saves lives, using his brain not his brawn. This book deeply affects him and inspires him to become the man that he is today. He also develops a bit of a crush on the reclusive author, just from his tiny photo in the back of his book. Years later, he sees J.C. Guise will be doing a book signing in Seattle, and Michael decides to go meet him.
James Gallway, aka J.C. Guise, is damaged. Physically and emotionally, he is a recluse barely living a life. As a child he contracted polio and was abandoned by his mother (there is SO much more to it, but I won’t give it away!), at eighteen he was inspired by his own medical issues to write a sci-fi story that was a huge hit. Unfortunately that was the peak his his writing career, he’s had other books but none as successful. His publisher is about to drop him, so his agent sets up a book signing and forces him to go. Being in a wheelchair in public is the last thing James wants to do, but he’s fighting for his career, so he goes.
James and Michael meet at the book signing and their lives are changed forever. A relationship grows between them, eventually anyway, James does NOT make it easy for Michael. They start as friends, Michael coaxing the shy, self conscious James out of his shell with car rides and mild adventures. Now that I think about it, it’s pretty much Michael making this happen. He is calm and patient, gentle and kind, sneaking in through the walls James has in place. James is stubborn and scared, lonely and somewhat obnoxious. We know why, but I wanted to smack him upside the head a few times! The growth he goes through in the story is huge. It takes time but he does begin to trust Michael, but Michael does keep something from him. As we know is going to happen, it does come out, with nearly tragic consequences.
So there is a lot going on in this story. Michael has patients we learn about, both his surrogacy ones and his nursing patient, they all had individual stories that were a great addition. I appreciate additional characters that actually add to the emotional content of a book, that aren’t just hanging out, and these do. Eli gives us some flawed characters and I loved them all. There are bits of a book James is writing interwoven with their story, I actually wanted to read that book! It made me cry. Speaking of crying… I cried when we learned James’s full story, I cried when James was hurt by Michael, when Michael was hurt by James, when they worked it out, and at a moment of joy at the end. I love that. It was emotional, angsty and dramatic. Perfect!
This is a story of love, obviously, but compassion, strength, patience, kindness, and stubbornness as well. The writing was great, the characters perfectly flawed, it alternated from gentle to hard, and sad to happy. I’ve used the word “compassion” multiple times in this review, but it really is the best word to describe this story. Michael is a compassionate caring soul, he is the true star of this book and I adored him. Thank you Eli for creating him!
I saw the third book on the list we use at Love Bytes to request books to read, and saw “Seattle” in the description. I was not familiar with Eli Easton, maybe I’d heard the name, but knew nothing about her books. I only requested them due to their location! I asked for the three to review, not really knowing what to expect, but I needed books to review so took them. I have to say I was so very pleasantly surprised! The first book, The Trouble with Tony, was cute, I enjoyed it, and would have been happy if the other two were along the same line. Fun, and well written, but not overly dramatic. Then we have The Enlightenment of Daniel. A totally different book! Emotional and dramatic, fabulous and deep. I really liked it. Now I’ve read The Mating of Michael, and adored it. The journey James and Michael make is beautiful. I liked the first book, I promise, but the next two were on a whole different level. I don’t know what happened to Eli between the first and second, but it was a good thing. This series is very much worth reading!