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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 2018-06-11 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 2018-06-03 23:40
ARC Review: Ginger Snaps by John Inman
Ginger Snaps - John Inman

I absolutely adore the Belladonna Arms series by John Inman, always anxiously waiting for the next installment. I do believe though that with this latest addition to the series, we may have seen the last of Arthur, the drag queen with a heart of gold, and the unique set of characters that all live in this somewhat dilapidated apartment building on a hill in San Diego.

I'm getting ahead of myself though. If you've followed the series, which should not be read out of order, you'll probably know that Arthur is preparing to finally get married. Though this doesn't stop him from opening his property and his huge heart to two more desperate souls who just need a bit of love pollen to find their way back from the abyss. 

Gideon has just broken up with his boyfriend, now ex, whose last parting shot was donating all of Gideon's belongings to the Salvation Army, save his laptop, the clothes he was wearing at the time, and a couple of t-shirts he had in the trunk of his car. To say Gideon is hard up would be an understatement. But Arthur makes him a deal on the rent, and the generous spirit of the tenants at the Belladonna Arms is a indomitable force, and soon Gideon finds himself the recipient of all the things he needs. Slowly but surely, as he's embraced and welcomed by the tenants, the grief and anger over the ex lifts and Gideon begins to look forward. 

Even if he's a ginger. 

His apartment neighbor is Reed, who works on the Navy docks and has just come out of a four-year marriage where he hoped that he was bisexual instead of gay. Alas, he's really, really gay, and while his relationship with his now ex-wife ended mostly on good terms, he's lost his house in the divorce, hence his renting an apartment from Arthur. His guilt over leaving his wife due to that whole not-bisexual business still weighs heavily on him, and he's definitely not ready for anything new. 

Oh, and Reed too is a ginger.

I will comment here on the ginger hate that seemed to permeate this book. I don't know if this was tongue in cheek or if the author truly believes that two gingers couldn't possibly fall for each other, and what the whole point was of hating on gingers the whole time, but it became bothersome a few chapters in and I had to force myself to just ignore it.

Moving on...

Reed and Gideon meet, and Reed offers to help Gideon with some repairs to the apartment, and the love pollen is strong and so their romance begins.

But gingers (according to the author) cannot be attracted to another ginger (what does that even mean?) and so they just skirt around that whole relationship issue because the sex is awesome, and the cuddles after are a balm for Reed's wounded soul. Gideon falls faster than he would think, and soon they spend a whole lot of time together.

But guilt is a funny thing, and... well... I guess it makes you stupid too, sometimes, and makes you do things you wouldn't otherwise do. I so badly wanted to reach into this book and slap one of these gingers over the head to make him see how he was being manipulated, but I couldn't and so... well, you read this for yourself.

Of course, all the tenants from previous books make an appearance here, multiple times. And we mustn't forget Arthur, larger than life, dressed in what can only be described as over-the-top costumes, huffing and puffing his way up and down the stairs, trembling in fear during the multiple earthquakes that rattle the windows, preparing for his wedding to Tom - Arthur alone is worth reading this series of books. The hijinks and hilarity and feel good moments are a bonus, really.

And of course, there is a HEA. Gideon and Reed have to take a couple of detours, but in the end they get their happy, as they should. 

Like I said, not sure if there will be more, but either way, you should read this. All of the books in this series. 

Though, OMG, what is it with the ginger hate???


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

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review 2018-06-03 02:14
ARC Review: The Glasshouse by Rosalind Abel
The Glasshouse (Lavender Shores #6) - Rosalind Abel
The Glasshouse is the 6th book in the Lavender Shores series, and tells the romance of Adrian and Harrison.

You may remember Adrian Rivera as Micah's business partner, growing organic produce they sell to the businesses in Lavender Shores. On the farm is an old, somewhat dilapidated glass house (a growing house) with which Adrian isn't sure what to do. The Riveras are of course a founding family. 

Harrison Getty is a former NFL football player, now underwear model (after a career-ending injury), who's been starring in a reality TV show about his romance with and upcoming wedding to Will Epstein, who is also a member of a founding family. Their wedding ceremony will be broadcast live on national TV (as one does, I suppose). 

Adrian has a crush on Harrison, but obviously that can't go anywhere because Harrison is getting married to Will. He's one of the groomsmen and trying his best to keep his distance, and his mask in place.

And then Harrison, overwhelmed, unsure, and feeling trapped, runs. While the cameras are rolling.

Oh, the scandal!!!

And this is only the first chapter or so. Obviously, I'm not going to give away the entire plot here. Let's just say that Will leaves town to escape the humiliation (I did feel sorry for him), and Harrison hides in his brother Jasper's apartment. 

The fallout is massive, for sure, and gets worse when Harrison and Adrian are caught in a passionate embrace in said glasshouse. 

It's obvious from the start that Harrison hasn't been happy for some time, not with Will, not with how his life was going, and not with the TV crews following his every move. For a very long time, Harrison has been who everyone expected him to be, to the point that he doesn't even know what he really wants anymore. Or who he really is. So he's got some work to do on that front, and I really liked how the author gave him that chance here. 

The glasshouse becomes an important part of their story, and I thought that the analogy the author used here was rather clever - as Adrian cleans up the glasshouse (which is sort of the foundation of their romance) and reclaims the space, so Harrison de-clutters his life to make room for the person he wants to be, to make space for his true wants and needs. 

While some aspects of this book touch on couples from the previous books, and supporting characters from the series show up here as well, this can be read as a stand-alone, especially if you've reviewed the author's website that fully lays out how everyone is connected in this town. 

Though, to be honest, I would recommend you read the entire series. These are feel-good, easy reads, high on romance and passion, and well worth your time. 


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

 

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review 2018-05-28 02:27
ARC Review: Nasu by Jet Lupin
Nasu - Jet Lupin

I was approached by the author about a review for this book. The blurb doesn't really tell you a whole lot about who (and what) Shige is, but I was intrigued so I said yes.

I'm glad I did. This was an interesting and enthralling read, despite the multitude of grammatical and spelling issues that a good editor or proofreader should have found. 

Phil, a nurse, is in dire need of some time off. He basically works, comes home to take care of his dog Hugo, eats, sleeps, and goes back to work. His shift is the graveyard one, so he's awake at night and asleep during the day, which doesn't really make for much of a social life. But now he's got some vacation coming, and his good friend decides they both need a night out on the town.

While at a club, Phil meets Shige, a handsome stranger. Attraction is instantaneous and mutual, and they spend a night together.

Then weird things happen. 

I won't spoil the plot here, but suffice it to say that the book had a myriad of interesting characters and doesn't focus on the romance between Shige and Phil. Evil forces are at work, and the relationship doesn't develop naturally because of those, as Phil and Shige don't spend a whole lot of time together, and even when they do, they keep getting interrupted. 

While Phil and Shige are interesting and engaging characters on their own, I didn't feel as if their relationship truly developed outside of the potential supernatural attraction they felt. Shige's mysterious aura, combined with his unwillingness to reveal his secrets, made for a contentious relationship, and though Phil eventually believes what his eyes (and everyone else) are trying to tell him, he too expresses a reluctance to commit. Not that I blamed him - if your entire life is suddenly uprooted because some guy you met a club whisks you off to his lair because of having put your life in danger, but doesn't tell you what's going on, you'd be pissed off too. 

The author did a fine job with the world-building. There was no info-dumping, and information was revealed slowly as part of the plot. There's a myriad of supporting characters, and the atmosphere created here is often dark and mysterious. The book kept me interested, and I didn't feel bored at all. The dialogue felt organic and believable, and I liked that Phil didn't take any crap from Shige or anyone else unless he absolutely had to. I also liked that he wasn't written as a "damsel-in-distress". 

What bothered me a bit was the ending - this wasn't advertised as the first in a series, and I was a bit surprised when I came to the end without having a HEA or even a strong HFN. There are still too many open questions, and I wasn't all that happy to find that the 2nd book isn't finished yet. While we leave Phil and Shige in a somewhat good place in their still developing relationship, their story isn't done, and I wish I had known this before starting this book. I wouldn't call it an absolute cliffhanger, but it wasn't a real ending. 

I mentioned the editing issues - on occasion, they would yank me out of the flow, and I recommend that the author get a good proofreader to fix those issues. I'd hate to see folks miss out on a good book because they can't get past the errors. 

This was my first book by this author, but I'm definitely interested to see what they cook up next. 


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

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