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review 2018-06-20 01:39
ARC Review: A Little Side Of Geek by Marguerite Labbe
A Little Side Of Geek - Marguerite Labbe

Morris Proctor is a self-proclaimed geek and comic book artist, really tall and lanky, and African-American. Somewhat lonely living by himself, but no interested in his family's attempts at match-making, he spends time with his niece, who's in a wheelchair since an accident, but who features prominently as the heroine in one of his comic series. A somewhat recent relationship with a non-geek who tried to change him has left Morris a bit wary of finding love with someone who's not into the same things he is.

Theo Boarman, short, white, has only recently moved into the apartment above Morris with his younger brother Lincoln, who's still a minor, after both their parents died. Theo is a chef and now co-owns his parents' restaurant with one of his sisters, and relations are somewhat strained with another two of his siblings. Theo is a busy man - there's not much time in the day for dating, while working a full shift at a restaurant, taking care of his little brother, and the responsibilities that generally come with being the oldest of the siblings.

Since they're neighbors, it's inevitable that they meet. Morris can't keep his eyes off the man playing basketball with his younger brother, and Theo is enchanted with the tall dude in a kilt. 

This book is high on geeky references and talks about comic cons and it's very clear that Morris and Theo inhabit two very different worlds. But opposites attract, and neither is unwilling to participate in a little summer fling, because surely that's all it ever can be. 

Except then stuff happens, and their worlds collide and mesh and it surprises both of them how easily they can fit into each other's worlds. There are plenty of supporting characters from Morris' and Theo's side of the aisle, and while there is a bit of angst and some minor misunderstandings, the reason the relationship is slow to come to fruition (frustratingly so at times) is for a couple of reasons - Morris' doubting that a non-geek like Theo will not try to change him or eventually start complaining about how much time Morris spends drawing the comic books or a cons, and Theo just putting too much on his plate and trying to carry the world on his shoulders. 

I didn't entirely buy the romance, to be honest. I didn't feel that they were truly falling for each other for quite a while, but then eventually went with it. Maybe that's on me, and you'll feel differently reading this book. It was nice watching Morris' world through Theo's eyes, and vice versa. Also, some good food being mentioned, though it would have been great to see some recipes at the end of the book. I liked the dynamics between Theo and Lincoln, and see Theo interact with his employees at the restaurant. When he eventually learns to give up a bit of control and trust the people he's worked with for so long, and that it doesn't mean neglecting his parents' heritage, I could even see some growth in him. 

Morris too has to learn to trust, not only his instincts, but another person who sneaks into his heart and thus has the ability to really hurt him. Merging two very different and separate lives isn't easy, but all good things are worth a bit of sacrifice, right? 

I did enjoy reading this, with all his geek speak, and all the references about so-called geeky things.

Bonus points if you know what movie the final quote in the book is from. "Take Me To Bed, Or Lose Me Forever." (Put your guess in the comments, maybe?)



** I received a free copy of this book from its publisher in exchange for an honest review. **

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review 2018-06-19 23:58
Release Day ARC Review: The Best Worst Honeymoon Ever by Andrew Grey
The Best Worst Honeymoon Ever - Andrew Grey

I've never been to Bonaire, but after reading this book, I want to go. There are quite a few sections inside that read like an advertisement for the place, and I want to go. If you pop over to my blog, you'll see a couple of images of the reefs as well, taken by none other than the author.

Here's a link.

Tommy Gordon is getting ready for his wedding, straightening his tie just moments before the ceremony is supposed to start, when his groom-to-be tells him the wedding is off. Xavier (remember the name of the rancid jerkface) has cold feet/second thoughts, and it's goodbye, Tommy. 

Heartbroken, Tommy wants nothing more than to hide, but there's the honeymoon trip, already planned and paid for, and what shall he do with that, amirite? Who wants to go alone on what's supposed to have been the honeymoon?

Tommy's best friend Grayson, who made the suggestion that Tommy take the trip anyway, finds himself and his young son Petey invited to join Tommy in paradise for a bit of snorkeling, relaxation, and enjoying the scenery.

Grayson's had a crush on Tommy for a long while, but he hasn't been a position or brave enough to change the status quo and ask for more.

And off they are, because when you have money, last minute ticket changes are not a hindrance, and thus the romance begins.

Slowly, of course, because Tommy is still mourning what might have been, and kicking his own rear end because he's just so pathetic and worthless that not even a gold digger like Xavier would want him. 

Grayson is no gold digger, just a dude with a heart of gold, and while he has his son to think of, he is all on board with wooing Tommy, with Petey's encouragement. 

I really, really want to go to Bonaire. The descriptions in the book are vivid and enticing, and the author did a fine job transporting this reader into paradise with his words alone. 

Obviously, there's a bit of angst, what with Tommy's self-doubts and Grayson's fears of losing his friend, but they overcome all that. They overcome Xavier showing up at the resort uninvited (the nerve of that guy) and threatening Tommy (the NERVE of that guy), and Grayson making the unwilling acquaintance of a Man O' War (ouchie) and a bit of drama at the end just before all is well and they live happily ever after.

So yeah, this is fluffy fluff, with a wee bit of angst, and beautiful scenery, and would someone please invite me to go to Bonaire? 

It's the perfect beach vacation read, so get this book and enjoy it on a day in the sun.


** I received a free copy of this book from its publisher in exchange for an honest review. **

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review 2018-06-13 01:51
ARC Review: His Leading Man by Ashlyn Kane
His Leading Man - Ashlyn Kane

Well, this was utterly adorable. Extremely likable characters, even if Drew can be a bit of a diva, inside a mainly angst-free romance on a movie set between a famous Hollywood actor and the brand-new screenwriter whose first screenplay was just optioned and who's sucked into playing one of the leading roles in the movie, falling in love on set and off, and character growth wrapped in a fluffy, feel-good novel - yeah, I'm all for that.

Add some fun supporting characters, like Steve's mom, and Drew's agent, and you have yourself a well-rounded book with which to curl up in your favorite beach lounger for a sunny afternoon.

The meet-cute happens at the auditions where Drew rejects more than a few candidates to star in the movie opposite him, until he sees the cute screenwriter and decides on the spot that this is the guy who should be cast. Steve, the screenwriter, may not be a complete stranger to Hollywood but he values his privacy and would prefer to remain out of the spotlight. But who can possibly deny Drew?

Both of them are rather normal outside of the set, and they communicate with each other. There's a date and slow-dancing, and sweet kisses, and even a bit of steam. We see them on set making the movie Steve wrote, and we get to laugh with them when things don't go as planned. We get to see Drew get all frustrated, and we see Steve call him on that foul temper. Thankfully, there are no horrible miscommunications or stupid assumptions, and they even weather the media storm quite well when their budding romance is outed unexpectedly. 

With a lovely epilogue, this book held me enthralled from start to finish, cute dog included. Also, could someone please make this movie from the book? It sounds fabulous, and I want to watch it! 

Recommended. Buy this book and get yourself to your nearest beach or lakefront to enjoy this sweet romance. 

** I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. **

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review 2018-06-11 01:15
Book Review: Secret Seth by Ki Brightly
Secret Seth - Ki Brightly

This was a sweet, unassuming, and rather quiet romance novel. 

We are first introduced to Seth from the title at a family gathering. He is the son of a construction business owner and a partner in the business, leading a construction crew. He comes across as someone reliable, steadfast, and very calm. He's also the only single and childless one in his family, which mean he's the one who's able to travel. The jobs he lands take him out of town more often than not, and while he's not too fond of the nomadic life, he enjoys the fruits of his labor, even if he's dealing with some high-maintenance clients - they sure pay well for his services. There are hints that Seth has never shown much interest in having a love life. 

Tyler, a Hollywood set designer, who after clashing with the producer over a specific set design finds himself in need of a new job. Somewhat flamboyant, Tyler makes zero excuses for wearing make-up and dressing colorfully, and whoever doesn't like it can bite him. He expects perfection of himself and those he works with, and he's not afraid to speak his mind, which sometimes gets him in trouble. 

Seth needs a new designer, and Tyler needs a new design job - obviously, that's how they meet.

Without giving away the plot, let me say that this book takes slow burn to a new level. I got the feeling that Seth is demi - he needed to form an emotional connection to Tyler before being able and willing to take things further. Tyler on the other hand is immediately intrigued by Seth and feels a strong attraction, but as his boss, Seth is obviously off-limits.

While this is on the surface an opposites-attract kind of theme, there's a whole lot more to it. Tyler yearns for a place to belong, for someone who'll take him as he is, someone who'll love him just the way he is. And Seth, having never really felt any kind of sexual attraction, is adorably confused when he starts reacting to Tyler, once he gets to know the other man. 

What really struck me while reading this book is how real the characters felt, not only the MCs, but the supporting cast as well. Seth's family are a loud and somewhat overbearing bunch, but they were all kind and supportive. The construction crew was diverse but worked well together also. The friendly banter between Tyler and Seth was fun, and I could clearly see them both falling in love with each other. 

This is a slow burn romance, so don't expect any hot smexy times right away. There's plenty of UST though, and plenty of longing and yearning, which I definitely enjoyed. The book is told from the 1st person POV, switching between Tyler and Seth. Since their voices were distinct, I had no trouble discerning who was talking at any given time.

Well-written dialogue in an engaging story - I enjoyed reading this very much, and I think you will too. 


** I received a free copy of this book from its author in exchange for an honest review. **

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review 2018-06-05 20:00
The Hunchback Assignments / Arthur Slade
The Hunchback Assignments - Arthur Slade

The mysterious Mr. Socrates rescues Modo, a child in a traveling freak show. Modo is a hunchback with an amazing ability to transform his appearance, and Mr. Socrates raises him in isolation as an agent for the Permanent Association, a spy agency behind Brittania's efforts to rule the empire. At 14, Modo is left on the streets of London to fend for himself. When he encounters Octavia Milkweed, another Association agent, the two uncover a plot by the Clockword Guild behind the murders of important men. Furthermore, a mad scientist is turning orphan children into automatons to further the goals of the Guild. Modo and Octavia journey deep into the tunnels under London and discover a terrifying plot against the British government. It's up to them to save their country.

 

Although others have classified this book as young adult, I would consider it to be for a younger audience than that. I would recommend it for tweens and young teens. I’m rating it three stars, but that’s for the reading experience from my current vantage point as an adult. I think that if I’d read it at the right age, I would definitely have rated it at four stars.

The story is an interesting mix of steampunk elements and allusions to classic literature. The main character, Modo (the hunchback of the title) harks back to Quasimodo of Victor Hugo and Modo’s partner in crime, Octavia Milkweed, reminds me obliquely of La Esmeralda in The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Like Quasimodo & Esmeralda, Modo becomes enamoured with Octavia. Unlike Quasimodo, Modo has a paranormal ability to change his appearance for limited amounts of time. Because of his crush on Octavia, he spends quite a bit of time & effort to avoid being seen by her in his natural state—this is obviously a state of affairs that will progress in future volumes.

The story’s villain, Dr. Hyde, has some roots in Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde, without the virtuous Jekyl state. He performs many horrible experiments on both adults and children, but nothing vivid enough to leave younger readers with nightmares, unless they are ultra-sensitive. The bolts that he inserts in his experimental subjects reminded me strongly of the popular-culture version of Frankenstein’s monster.

Unlike so many of these alternate history Victorian stories, this one seems to be aimed more at boys than at girls, although I think any girl of the right age would definitely identify with Octavia. But with Modo as the narrator of the tale, the appeal to boys is greater. Since I think that reading for young men is a neglected demographic, I am glad to know about this fun, engaging series.

The author, Arthur Slade, will be attending the When Words Collide conference this August (2018) and I am glad that I read one of his books before hearing him speak there.

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