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review 2017-12-29 02:08
ARC Review: Fortune's Slings and Cupid's Arrows by Ari McKay
Fortune's Slings and Cupid's Arrows - Ari McKay

This was a sweet little romance, even if slightly unbelievable. 

The premise is that Dane is deep in the closet, so far so actually that he's almost in Narnia. The reason for being in the closet is that his father, a cruel and despicable man, has succeeded in making Dane fight the notion that he's gay by holding Dane's mother over his head as a threat. Dane, being a dutiful son, would do anything to ensure his mother's happiness, even if it means becoming engaged to a woman his father chose for him and marry her to produce an heir to the family fortune. 

Dane's best friend Cal sees the announcement of the engagement in the society pages and knows he must step in to prevent Dane from making a horrible mistake, even if that means seducing Dane to show him that he's not straight.

Does Daddy Dearest get his way, or will Cal find a way to save Dane? Will Dane find his spine and stand up to Daddy Dearest?

There's obviously a lot of angst and drama in this shortish book, and we don't get a lot of character development. It's a quick and easy read, and one that shouldn't be taken too seriously. Not a bad way to spend a few hours, curled up in your favorite chair.


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

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review 2017-12-29 01:54
ARC Review: Strike Up The Band by Sam Burns
Strike Up the Band (Wilde Love Book 3) - Sam Burns

This is the 3rd book in the Wilde Love series, switching back to Freddie Mercury Isn't Dead aka FRED, the band that got its start at Wilde's, Keegan's restaurant/bar in book 1. Some time has passed since then; they now have a hit single and are on a tour. 

The band is forced to take on a new member, to finish the tour as their record label demands, because record labels are cruel assholes only concerned with making money, no matter what it costs the band.

Jake McKenna doesn't want to stay on tour, he doesn't want to even interact with the new member of the band, one Brian Mulholland, and he sure as hell doesn't want a career in music anymore.

The aforementioned Brian is the ex-member of a now-defunct boy band, who is looking for a new start after firing his manager/mother when she caught him kissing another man. 

Now, I'm not going to give away the plot or why Jake feels the way he does about continuing in his music career - there's a reason why that's not in the blurb, and I'm not going to spoil things here. 

This book can be read as a standalone, though I don't know why you wouldn't want to read the first two books as well. 

I do want to talk a bit about Jake's sexuality - he identifies as homo-romantic/asexual - and how well the author worked that into the book, showcasing without ever getting preachy that love is definitely not dependent on sexual contact, and that someone like Jake can find the right person for him. Both Brian's bisexuality and Jake's asexuality are handled in really positive ways, making it clear that romance and love can happen even if sex is off the table. Brian is a really good guy, sympathetic and forgiving, even if Jake is prickly and disengaged at first, and they eventually begin a friendship that then leads to more, and I was happy that the author didn't change Jake for Brian, or vice versa. They had honest and open conversations about Jake not wanting sexual intercourse, and how that might affect Brian down the road, which allowed them both to make the right choice for themselves. 

If you've read the first book, Straight From The Heart, you already know what Jake is like, and I was happy to find that the author didn't change his personality from the first book - he's still the somewhat grumpy, mostly introverted guy who just wanted to play his guitar and write music. 

The author does a really good job fleshing out the characters and giving them realistic, complex, and somewhat flawed personalities. They're both more complex that what initially meets the eye, and I thought they were rather well suited to each other. There's not a lot of relationship angst here, though the beginning of book is somewhat difficult to read, and ... no.... not going to spoil it for you. I will say that I didn't expect the turn of events, and I must applaud the author for taking things in that direction, no matter how it... no... not going to spoil it for you. The romance develops slowly, as it should have, and is based on friendship with comfort, hugs, and kisses. 

What I also love is that this book isn't just about Jake and Brian and their slowly developing romance, but also about the other band members, about their strong friendships, about being a family of sorts, about their struggles to integrate Brian into the band, and how to move forward from... nope, sorry, not going to tell you.

Do yourself a favor and read this series. There's a 4th book out now too. 


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

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review 2017-12-23 02:30
ARC Review: Exposure by Aly Hayden
Exposure (Drawn Together Book 1) - Aly Hayden

I'm super late with this review - my apologies to the author.

This book uses the fake-boyfriend trope, in which the fake boyfriend eventually turns into a real boyfriend.

Sam has been lying to his parents about having a boyfriend - and it's even worse, because the man Sam pretends to be his actually exists, even though Sam has created a whole persona that is based on lies. And now Sam's parents insist that Sam bring his boyfriend to the annual Labor Day family reunion.

Ben is a struggling photographer and the man featuring prominently in Sam's desires. And Sam's lies. He reluctantly agrees to accompany Sam to the family reunion after being bribed into it. I say reluctantly because even though Ben is half in love with Sam too, he always thought him way out of his league. 

Because Sam has money and Ben does not. 

Sam works because he wants to. Ben works because he needs to. 

Ben is a bit wary at first, especially since there's someone in his past who hurt him badly, by making him feel that he wasn't good enough. 

I liked Ben, and I liked most of Sam's family (his grandma especially), but I didn't really like Sam all that much. He comes across as a spoiled brat on occasion, and he sounded younger than his actual years a few times. 

Of course, as expected, Sam's lies begin to unravel over their weekend in the Hamptons, and he hurts Ben badly when the truth comes out. Inevitably, they make up and get their happy ending, because, after all, this is a romance novel.

It's a sweet story, with a well-used trope, and while it ends on a good note, I had reservations about Sam's maturity level and his reasons for lying - he made out his family to be so much worse than they actually were. 

This is the kind of story that you read when you need something fluffy with little angst. 


** I received a free copy of this book from Gay Book Promotions as part of a tour in exchange for an honest review. **

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review 2017-12-23 01:57
Book Review: A Love Song For The Sad Man In The White Coat by Roe Horvat
A Love Song for the Sad Man in the White Coat - Roe Horvat

Dear Roe Horvat - you broke my heart, you stomped on it, and then, at the last possible moment, you healed me.

The book starts out with brief moment in which we meet Matej, a student in Prague, on his way to class to take a finals, stopping to buy a cup of coffee to which he attaches a note.

"Are you wondering the same things I am?"



The coffee is for his professor, Dr. Simon Mraz, a psychiatrist who teaches at the university Matej attends. 

Fast forward four years, we now hear from Simon, aka The Cruel Doctor Frost, as he is known among the students at the university, and Matej is but a painful memory. Simon lives with Marta, who is Matej's sister, but who is about to move into her own place. Nobody has heard from Matej in those years, not since he left after a tragic event. 

Simon's sadness is overwhelming. It is sheer willpower that keeps him mostly sane and standing upright. When the pain threatens to pull him under, Simon runs through the streets of Prague, exhausting himself to the point where he can sleep. It is evident that Simon is struggling - with the memories of Matej, with what happened, with what he could have done differently, with finding a reason for Matej's leaving. 

The author did a fantastic job conveying how very empty Simon's life is - he has a few friends, and Marta, but he's only barely holding on. He's numb. He can't even muster a congratulations when his best friend gets engaged. He's rude and offensive, and pessimistic and just so heart-breakingly sad. 

The writing is superb - I felt Simon's pain, his longing, the almost robotic way he goes through the motions of his daily life. It was occasionally difficult to see through my tears, especially as about 75% of this book are spent in Simon's head, seeing and feeling his pain, watching him on his way to self-destruction. 

Then Marta starts to look for her brother, without Simon's knowledge.

This is a powerful novel about pain and loss, and getting a second chance, even if you don't think you deserve one. It's about two complex and seriously flawed MCs, whose bone-deep pain just dripped off the pages. 

It's not your typical romance. This is not a meet-cute and live happily ever after story. This is a story that will break your heart and then slowly, ever so slowly, mend the jagged edges - and yet, the scars remain. 

There's a HFN at the very end, for those of you that need to know, one that I could easily see turning into a HEA, even with Simon's warning to Matej.

"Are you ready to spend your life with a sad man?"



I won't forget this book any time soon.

Highly recommended.


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

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review 2017-12-22 02:32
ARC Review: Sometimes The Best Presents Can't Be Wrapped by B.G. Thomas
Sometimes the Best Presents Can’t Be Wrapped - B.G. Thomas

This story is a rather different take on A Christmas Carol. It's adorable, really, and I had a fabulous time reading it. The author, one of my favorites, also deviated from his usual style in this story - which I also quite enjoyed.

Ned Balding is a bit of a Scrooge. After his father died, he's been running the family's company, which allows no time for anything else. Stressed, overworked, Ned no longer resembles the decent guy he used to be. In fact, he's gone as far as considering firing a long-time employee right before Christmas, because the poor guy took a couple of days off after losing his dog. Listen, Ned - dogs are members of the family, and people naturally grieve, and your piss-poor attitude made me mad. Especially since the man in question, Jake Carrara, is still grieving the death of his mother, and the loss of his boyfriend - all in the same year. So Ned needed to cut Jake some slack. 

Thankfully, Ned is prevented from firing Jake when a friend and co-worker steps in and halts Ned's tirade. 

On the way home, still raging mad, Ned attempts to kick a dog, which is witnessed by a Salvation Army Santa - who issues a stern warning, and tells Ned that enough is enough.

Come morning, Ned wakes up in his apartment, but the world looks very different than it did the night before. For one, Ned seems to be closer to the floor. And covered in fur. Colors aren't the same either. 

I really liked how well the author must have done his research to let us experience life as a dog. Some of it was fascinating, like the colors dogs apparently see, and some of it was hilarious, like lifting a leg to tinkle. I giggled quite a bit, watching Ned figure out how to be a dog.

Long story short, Ned is shocked, howls and barks, and ends up at the pound - well, almost. He's super lucky that the guy from the pound knows HD (he from Hounddog and Bean), so Ned, fortuitously, is put into foster care, being taken care of by none other than the guy he almost fired - Jake.

As Ned spends his days in Jake's apartment, and his nights sleeping on the bed with Jake, he starts to realize what an utter ass he's been, not only to the people he works with, but also to his remaining family. And he realizes that he has to make some drastic changes - if only he was able to figure out how to turn back into a human. On top of that, he sees Jake in a wholly new light, and can't for the life of him figure out why he would have been such a jackass to the man. 

And then Ned has to make a choice, one that could cost him dearly - but he does what he does out of love, and by then he realizes that love is worth anything and everything.

Due to the plot here, we actually don't really see the romance fully developing, as Ned spends most of the book as a dog, and Jake obviously doesn't realize that the dog he's fostering is in reality his boss, but we do get a very happy ending, and a lovely epilogue that takes place a year later and showcases the changes Ned has made. 

I thought it utterly adorable, with a good sprinkle of Christmas magic, humorous moments, and a massive act of selflessness that really shows the reader how much Ned has grown from the start of the book.


** I received a free copy of this book from its publisher. A positive review was not promised in return. **

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