This was a well researched, well written book that really had me from page one. It was packed with details I didn't know already.
The story of the Peoples Temple is one of utter tragedy because I honestly believe most of those people really did just want a better world. But I will never truly know how to feel about Jones. Was he always evil? Or did he just turn into a wicked man through corruption? None of us will ever know because he was a man of contradictions. In the end, he was a murderer and that is what we all remember him for.
Ok before I get into this one, I'm just going to say if you haven't read the first two books you may want to stop here because some of the stuff that I'm going to mention happened in previous books and I admit I'm not up for spoiler tags, however, I don't plan on mentioning any major plot points and will keep it to smaller things.
It's Sebastian and Calvin!!!! I'm really, really loving these two and this book has cemented them with me. I was more than a little impressed with the first book and book two also went fairly well but this one...Sweetbabyjebus!!!! I loved it. From start to finish this story had my full attention.
After having his apartment destroyed in the last book, Seb's needing a new home and so he and Calvin are taking the next step and they've found a place of their own. Calvin's got a dog and he's seeing a counselor (this is a previous story thing).
Once again Sebastian is faced with a mystery with origins in the past and this time it goes back to the beginnings of the golden age of film...or more accurately the beginnings of film. When Sebastian receives a mysterious package at his shop. Inside he finds a Thomas Edison Kinetoscope a 19th century movie viewer but there's so much more to this than it appears.
As Sebastian gets drawn further into the mystery things begin to become complicated and not everything or everyone is as it seems. But add in to these events the appearance of someone from Calvin's past and Neil, Seb's ex and you've got a story that's teeming with twist and turns. From start to finish I was kept guessing and wonderfully entertained with this one.
Calvin and Sebastian are definitely evolving as a couple and I loved seeing them grown and their interactions had some very definite humorous moments. Along with Calvin and Seb's relationship growth, we're treated to some personal growth on the part of Seb and Neil, as they both evolve from bitterness over their failed relationship to a friendship that just might still be tinged with a bit of sarcasm on both their parts. Sarcasm that also held a touch of affection as Seb and Neil both realize that the biggest problem they'd ever faced was that they were really only ever meant to be friends.
Back when the first book was released in this series there were mentions of another well loved cop & shop owner pairing and the resemblance that Calvin and Sebastian held to them, which is something that I'm not trying to dispute because I truly feel this is a matter of personal perspective so I'm not looking for a right or wrong here because I don't think there is one, but I would just like to say that for a number of reasons with this book I think Sebastian and Calvin have firmly moved themselves out of that shadow and are standing in a spotlight that is all their own.
Now there's just one other thing that I'd like to mention and that's the ending...which, I'm simply going to say I loved it. The ending of this book for me was totally perfect...I loved it and yes, I'm so on board for more of these two men and I can't wait for what's coming next or at least I hopefully I won't have to wait too long, maybe...please?
An ARC of 'The Mystery of the Moving Image' was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
After witnessing Billy Joe an act of cruelty and prejudice that has Billy fearing for his life, he realizes that home is not the place where he and his young son would be safe...no, he needed to run...to run far and fast if he was going to keep himself and his little boy safe. So that's what he does. In the middle of the night Billy Joe packs up their lives, takes his boy and quietly gets the hell out of Dodge or in this case Mississippi.
Billy Joe gets as far as Pennsylvania when his luck seems to run out...or in fact his car dies during a snowstorm, but maybe his luck is just beginning when a passer-by stops to offer help...a passer by in the form of Carlos. Carlos shows Billy that there is kindness and good in the world when he goes out of his way to help him without any ulterior motives...just the honest desire of a good and decent person to help someone in need.
There was a lot that I liked about this story first off I liked both of the MCs and I really loved them together as friends and as a couple, I loved how their relationship progressed and seriously we're not talking about insta-love here...did their attraction to each other happen fairly quickly...yes, but it was attraction not love and I think we can all think of at least once in our life that we felt attraction to someone as soon as we saw them...whether, or not that attraction deepens and becomes more and how long it takes is what determines whether it's insta-love or just lust at first sight and whats fast or too fast or slow can be such a subjective issue.
For me the relationship between Billy Joe and Carlos didn't feel like it was developing at an overly fast pace but I think a lot of that was due to their circumstances. Billy Joe didn't know anyone else and Carlos initially seemed like he was just trying to be a genuinely good person and help them out, which brought these two into close proximity a lot faster and more often than probably would have been the case under other conditions...so given the circumstances for me it worked and while the relationship may not have progressed at a slower pace at times the overall flow of the story was honestly a little slower than I would have liked but in the end I liked it, I guess sometimes it is slow and steady that wins the race or in this case it was the slow and steady that allowed me to truly enjoy the story.
Ok, this is where I'm going to share the biggy the one thing that took away from this being a 5 star read for me and that one little thing was...Tyler...yep, the kid. I love kids truly I do but this one just didn't work for me and I'm going to try and explain without going into excessive amounts of detail why...and yes this is my third try at this, so sorry to say or maybe not so sorry, you got spared the first two rants because I'm trying to keep this somewhat reasonable...so here goes again...in quick summary...
I just wasn't able to buy into Tyler his behavior and development was too erratic. Honestly I had initially thought he was a baby and then it seemed like 'oh, I guess he's maybe 4 or 5 years old and then I just kind of threw my arms in the air and said 'what the hell ever, he's Billy Joe's kid and I care not how old he is.' I know his age was clearly defined as 2 going on 3 at one point but I just wasn't feeling it and by this point I no longer cared, so I basically sidelined Tyler and focused on everything else in the story. I cannot lie Tyler is essentially the full reason that this story got 4 stars and not 4.5 or even 5 from me...sorry, Tyler but as a 2 year old...you were fail for me.
Ok, let's move on from poor little Tyler because now I'm feeling like a bully and maybe I need to send Tyler a teddy bear to say sorry...I'll ponder this.
As for our MCs...there was so much about Carlos that I really liked. How he was basically able to keep such a positive outlook on things in spite of his family and yes, it was very much a case of 'in spite of' and not 'because of', I loved how supportive both he and Billy Joe were of each other which I think was due, at least in part, to the fact that they understood each other in a very basic way...both men had crap families. Sure maybe the circumstances and dynamics weren't identical but at the heart of it both men were failed by their families and they recognized this in each other...reasons and events may be different but at the core it's the same kind of hurt.
While it may have taken Billy Joe time to get there...this guy had strength. From taking Tyler and leaving behind everything that he knew to his determined efforts to make sure that Tyler had a better life, to acknowledging who he was and finally doing what he knew was the only thing he could do to ensure his and his son's safety...Billy Joe had strength. If it took him time to get where he was going I can totally deal with that he had to make the hard choices just as Carlos did in dealing with his family and these two both met the challenge. Sure it wasn't without pain, heartache and a few mistakes but who among us can say differently. We may make different choices and our mistakes aren't always the same but at the end of the day we're all human and we all follow our own path.
Last but not least I want to talk about the narrator...Jack Richmond. I liked his character voices especially for the MCs they were both distinct making it easy to distinguish who was speaking and while I had an issue with Tyler's character in terms of age development unfortunately Tyler's voice didn't really help with this because for me, Tyler's voice was more reflective of that 4 or 5 year old that I thought he was a one point than that of a two year old, but on the upside it was a child's voice that didn't feel like nails on a chalk board which many of my friends will tell you with me that's a definite win.
I loved the ending of this one, especially when it came to Carlos and Billy Joe's families and how things worked out with them and while I'm not sure I'd call this an HEA it's definitely a strong HFN that's heading towards HEA and I'm good with that.
An audio book of 'Running to You' was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
When Craig Elson gets passed over for a much deserved promotion it's the straw that breaks the camel's back and Craig takes it as a sign that he maybe should take a little vacation after all he hasn't done so in years so he's got the time and then some.
One of the first things that Craig does is he goes to his favorite coffee house so he can get a look at the 'hottie' with the tee shirt that says "I would bottom you so hard." something that no one's ever let Craig do and something that Craig spends a lot of times wanting to do with said hottie (otherwise known as Jesse). When Jesse approaches Craig the last thing that Craig figured would happen is that he'd ask Jesse to tutor him, but that's what he does...he pulls on his big boy pants and ask Jesse to tutor him on how to be a top and what follows is a warm, sweet, sometimes funny adventure of Jesse and Craig as Jesse helps Craig to become the top that he knows he can be.
First off I loved Jesse...he was just too freakin' cute for words...like this guy was seriously adorable and perky...I don't think I could handle him first thing in the morning...just sayin'. Also on a random thought here, that I'm hoping someone who's more familiar with this authors works than I am can clarify for me. I'm somehow feeling like maybe we've met Jesse before...say, in one of the Laguna Beach stories? If you have a definite answer for me on this feel free to let me know in the comments, thanks.
And then there was Craig, I liked him...a lot! He was just so lacking in self esteem but he was also such a sweet guy. I loved how he was with his mom and really with everyone. What I didn't love was how some people took advantage of his sweet and unassuming nature but hey, what goes around comes around and I think in the end everyone got what they deserved especially Craig and Jesse...because they got each other.
Sadly what took this from 'I love it' to 'it was ok' for me was the sex...I just felt like Jesse and Craig's relationship was too dependent on it and I know all things considered this probably seems a bit weird since their relationship started out with Craig asking Jesse to teach him how to be a top...but, I guess I was hoping that the sex would ease back and there would be a bit more focus on an actual relationship developing...I don't maybe, I'm just being to picky or quirky here but still at the end of the day it's how I felt.
I fully realize that while 'Love You So Hard' isn't a complicated or profound story, it is a sweet, fun and totally feel good story about discovering how to be the best person you can be and finding love along the way and in reality that rarely happens between the sheets so as fun and sweet as it was this left me feeling a little disappointed.
From a purely audio perspective though this was my second chance to enjoy the narrations of Ry Forest and I have to say his narration was absolutely delightful. I truly can't wait to see what's next with this narrator and will definitely be keeping an eye out for his name on future audio books.
An audio book of 'Love You So Hard' was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.