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review 2017-08-22 06:40
Heartache
In this Breeze (Lake Shore University Book 1) - Kathleen MareƩ

Breanna is best friends with Ethan and Jason.  Though to her, they are just Eth and Jase.  She tends to have all sorts of nicknames they come up with.  Bree and Breezy as the most common.  She doesn't really care.  She is just glad to have such good friends.

 

Eth has been in love with Bree and does not know how to tell her.  They do everything together.  He cannot imagine a world without her in it.  

 

Jase lives a much harder life.  Things do not always go his way.  He is afraid of the danger his life could bring to her.  He knows he must separate himself before something goes wrong.

 

This story is a deep and compelling tale of young love, mixed choices, and consequences that can happen.  It is a start to the Lake Shore University series that jumps right out of the gate with a bang or two to get you going!  I am eagerly awaiting the next title.  This is character angst that I cannot wait to read more of.  I give this story a 3/5 Kitty's Paws UP!

 

 

***This ARC copy was given in exchange for an honest review.

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review 2017-08-22 00:43
ARC Review: Textual Relations by Cate Ashwood
Textual Relations - Cate Ashwood

This was a sweet, low-angst, meet-cute novella. 

Henry Hathaway, an evolutionary psychology professor, gets up on his birthday to go to the dentist, because that's apparently what one does on his birthday. Except most people go to get their teeth cleaned twice a year, and a dental assistant isn't interchangeable with a dental hygienist. 

Henry is rather dull and a bit socially awkward. When he gets a text out of the blue from someone named Ash, confirming their dinner plans, Henry goes out of his way to meet Ash, thinking Ash is a woman who's going to be stood up, and he doesn't want her to think her date didn't show. Again, most people would reply by text, stating something like "hey, wrong number", but not Henry.

Except when Henry gets to the restaurant, Ash turns out to be Asher. Who's definitely not a girl. 

Meet-cute, right? Except Asher is gay, and Henry is definitely not. That he knows of. 

Henry is also super oblivious so when he and Ash hang out, he doesn't realize it's a date. 

Matter of fact, our oblivious prof doesn't realize much of anything until Ash kisses him. 

What I liked about this book is that Mr. Oblivious didn't suddenly have an existential crisis after The Kiss and his revelation that "huh, how about that, I may be bi", and Asher is spontaneous and fun, and Henry just goes with the flow, allowing Asher to pull him out of his preconceived notions and routines. 

Okay, so when I said "existential crisis", I didn't mean that Henry is all set to go explore his newfound attraction to Asher. There's a somewhat short time period where Henry doesn't answer Ash's calls and texts, but then, professor that he is, jumps feet first into researching sexuality, and... well, you read this for yourself.

As short as this is, there's plenty of steam, once Henry fully commits himself, and starts taking more risks - the staid professor type in Henry takes a leave of absence.

This is only a novella, so there's not a ton of relationship development, and we don't get Asher's POV, which didn't help explain why someone who's supposedly such a player (as we're told) is suddenly hell-bent on gaining the prof's love. I guess the heart wants what the heart wants? They for sure had sufficient chemistry, so even though this thing between them develops quickly, I didn't find it difficult to believe they had the hots for each other. The epilogue sealed the deal.

So, meet-cute, a clueless professor, and a smitten ex-player - this was a fun, albeit quick read. Perfect for an extended lunch break, amirite?


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

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review 2017-08-21 17:12
The Goblins of Bellwater - Molly Ringle
Here's my two cents about this book: I normally don't fall for a book that is being hyped; in fact I normally go the other way, because I'm stubborn and I don't like media telling me what I should read.

With this one, I guess that the title, add the cover, plus the fact that this seemed to be a stand alone (AND I DO LOVE STAND ALONE STORIES), made me decide to risk it and request it...
... not a good decision.
Going by the title, and with goblins to the mix, I was hoping for something dark, urban fantasy type.
Which I didn't get, because this is actually a new adult story with _poorly_ developed traces of paranormal.
Unfortunately once again it seems that the new adult genre is synonymous to very basic writing, stupid and underdeveloped characters and a plot that is only there to get the characters together.
Not my thing.
Like I said, the characters are so undeveloped that when the author decides to create two couples and having them perform sexual acts; the thing reads as awkward and uncomfortable as this phrase. They feel as puppets, and maybe that was what the author was reaching for, but she forgot their souls!
In forgetting that, the whole thing reads as an awkward and boring story about four _ really uninspired _ people.
 
 Arc provided through Netgalley
 
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review 2017-08-21 17:00
ARC Review: Gabriel (Legacy Ranch #2) by RJ Scott
Gabriel (Legacy Series Book 2) - RJ Scott

Gabriel, book 2 in the Legacy Ranch series by this author, was a difficult book to read, primarily because of the abuse Gabriel suffers and has suffered. If you saw my status updates while I was reading this book, you know that I wished a painful and horrific death upon Stefan, the pimp who picked up Gabriel after the trial and who exploited Gabriel's low self-esteem, his weakness and pain, to make him hurt even more.

I'm not sorry for wanting that slimeball dead. 

Gabriel is trapped. While he has escaped the abuse he suffered at the ranch, he's still not free of it. He honestly believes that all he's good for is sex, a lie fed to him repeatedly, constantly, by his pimp, and on those few occasions that Gabriel dares reach for just a little more, like Kyle's letters inviting him to Legacy Ranch, Stefan knows how to keep him down. With fists and dub-con sex, telling him that he's good for nothing else, reinforcing what Gabriel already believes himself to be.

Cameron Stafford, hotel owner, nearly blind from a degenerative disease, just wants his awful, cruel family off his back. His last boyfriend was a no-good thief who stole from him, and Cam has no delusions of finding someone permanent, and he relies heavily on Six, his bodyguard/friend, who's been with him for many years. 

Gabe's latest client has booked a room in Cam's hotel, which is how Cam finds out about Gabe and then decides to hire him as a fake boyfriend. 

It's not as cute as that may sound. Cam's family is ridiculously nasty to him, over the top nasty, to be honest, and Cam's father is trying to take running the hotel away from him, because clearly, someone who's blind cannot possibly run a hotel. Right. Sit down, you jerk.

And Gabe - OMG, he broke my heart. There are a few outs that present themselves to Gabe, ways out of the hell he lives in, but he's too broken, too afraid, to trust and take them, instead returning time and again to his abusive pimp. I cried and cried, and wanted Stefan dead. I don't usually react with such violence to a fictional character, so my reaction to Stefan should tell you how abhorrent his character truly is. There is nothing redeeming about him, and when he meets his demise, I cheered. 

I would have liked to see a bit more development of Cam's and Gabe's romantic relationship - unfortunately, we are mostly told that they develop feelings for each other. Cam tries hard to show Gabe that there is another way, that he doesn't have to stay with Stefan, and I liked that he didn't give up. Sure, he had help from Six, even if it was reluctantly given, but I could see that Six only wanted what was best for Cam, and didn't at first believe that Gabe fit the bill. 

Both characters have experienced pain and hurt, though Gabe's abuse was obviously much more horrific. I felt for both of them, cried at the damage inflicted on them by others, and I wanted them to have their happy ending.

Which, of course, they get. This is a romance, after all. I would have liked that to have been expanded on a bit more, and I felt that the ending wrapped up a bit too quickly. Most of the book also takes place away from Legacy Ranch, and we get only a few scenes there. 

Overall, this book had a very different feel than the first one in this spin-off series. It's a lot heavier, I believe, and on more than one occasion, I wanted to reach into the pages and alternately strangle Stefan, and grab Gabriel and Cameron and shield them both from the people who wanted to hurt them. 

Not an easy book to read, but, I would say, worth your time.


** I received a free copy of this book from its author via Signal Boost Promotions. A positive review was not promised in return. **

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review 2017-08-20 19:28
Godblind
Godblind - Anna Marie Stephens

[I received a copy of this book through NetGalley.]

Attractive cover is attractive! Red and black? Count me in!

This is fantasy of the darker and grittier kind. People fight and die in puddles of gore; the Red Gods thrive on human pain and sacrifices (and their priests and believers are all too happy to oblige); and intrigue abounds in every corner of the world, making it difficult for the characters to know who are their allies, and who are their foes.

This is also the kind of novel about which I hold very divided opinions, because its selling points and its negative points are, for me, often sides of a same coin.

To be honest, I had some trouble to get into the story at first (not because of the sacrifice and rape in the first chapters—I guess it’s more related to the fact I don’t read a lot of fantasy these days, and while I am generally interested, I tend to have a harder time to get immersed in it). This may partly have been due to the short chapters, some as short as 2-3 pages, which creates a fast pace but makes it difficult to get invested in the characters, their predicaments and their stakes, all the more since the story follows several characters, and since the violence at times seemed a wee bit... here for the shock factor more than anything else? As a result, I didn’t feel very close to either the ‘heroes’ or ‘villains’, and that sense of ‘yeah, OK, that must’ve hurt, but I don’t really care’ unfortunately stayed with me.

(The short chapters were a positive thing in a way, though: I often read while walking or in public transportation, or during short breaks at work, and such chapters make it very easy for me too ‘break’ my reading and resume later.)

Another side of the book that is both positive and a hindrance is that it’s the first book in a series, and it looks like it’s going to be epic, with lots of battles and high stakes (a whole kingdom falling into war, people seeing their homes destroyed and families slaughtered, ambitious rulers, treachery and traitors in the heart of power, etc.). This said, it makes the story read more like an introduction, a prologue of sorts, before we get to the actual meat.

Yet another ‘same coin’ aspect: the intrigue. On the one hand, the plot twists were very easy to guess (who’s going to be a traitor, who’s going to double-cross who, etc.). On the other hand, for me, they were also of the ‘I know where this is going but I’m excited nonetheless’ kind.

I did like some characters enough (especially Crys, he’s the kind of easygoing trickster type I’m easily drawn to in novels) to feel invested at times. I’d wish for a little less sexism and homophobia, though (not on the author’s part, just in that specific world in general; it’s like it’s never accepted in most worlds, anyway *sighs*).

Conclusion: More an introduction to the actual plot, and with strengths that are weaknesses at the same time, but still interesting enough that I’d like to read book 2.

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