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review 2018-11-06 16:34
The Complications of T (The Actor's Circle #1) by Bey Deckard Review
The Complications of T - Bey Deckard,Starr Waddell

Stuart Leandro knows he’s washed up, both on the big screen, and in his marriage. Then, when things take an even bigger turn for the worse one night, he winds up blind drunk and lost in a foreign city.

Thankfully, someone’s there to rescue him before his face ends up plastered all over the tabloids.

Wary of the motives of the reclusive stranger who brings the fading star into the quiet shelter of a hip but isolated loft, Stuart nonetheless can't deny his curiosity… Or his attraction. Tim is unlike anyone the actor has ever met, but underneath the mystery and quiet attempts at invisibility, Stuart discovers someone whose life has been intertwined with his own for years.

Neither could have predicted that Tim's act of kindness would lead to one of the most intense encounters of their lives—but, are they willing to weather the media storm their extraordinary relationship will cause?

 

Review

 

I like the center of this romance between Tim and Stuart. 

We get an intense time of them together while Stuart hides out a bit before dealing with his impending divorce and rethinking his acting career. 

However, as nice as those moments are, we don't get them together in the more complicated world and we don't get enough resolution with any of the outside factors.

So, unfinished in too many ways and I don't want a sequel to address these areas, I wanted a fuller love story here.
 
 

 

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review 2018-11-06 02:54
Rites of Winter (Inheritance #6)
Rites of Winter - Amelia Faulkner

This is the first book in a new "season" and it shows. (I didn't steal that line from Elena! She just got to her review first.) ;)

 

It was nice to pick up more or less where the previous book ended, and to see Laurence and Quentin start to work on some of their issues. Quentin especially is messed up from the events of the previous book, but Laurence has his own hangups he needs to work out too. I really would've liked to see more emphasis made on their emotional and psychological trauma, but that was mostly skimmed over in favor of focusing on their sex life. Which is also important because of what Quentin was forced to remember in the last book, and I don't want to discount that. I'm happy none of that caused a backslide. 

 

But look, I don't like D/s at all and this is getting very close to bordering on that and has been steadily going in that direction for awhile. I also have no idea what's supposed to be so sexy about mesh shirts. To me, they look like an overenthusiastic cat attacked someone's wardrobe. So none of this was working for me, and for it being such an important part of their relationship development it left me cold. Add onto that Laurence wondering when the hell he became so submissive and the theory I've been working with since the end of the second book, and this all gets unfortunately cringe-worthy. I could be totally off with my theory, but there is no way for me to know that at this point. All that combined means their sex scenes are the equivalent of dumping me into the Arctic Ocean.

 

The plot itself is well done and paced, and it was good to see more of Otherworld and see the various ways that fantasy and magic blend together in this world. I did think there was a little too much focus on the action at times, when it would've been nicer to see the emotional tolls some more. I'm not really sure what to make of Basil or Jon at this point, since they're not given much dimension. They're interesting though and I'm looking forward to seeing what they bring to the mix in the future.

 

There were a few missing words in this one, and one chapter's formatting was just wonky - but readable. I also don't remember Laurence being so excessive with the "baby" endearments in past books. I'm not one to quibble over that word like others are, but even I wanted to cast it into the fires of Mt. Doom after the third or fourth chapter.

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review 2018-07-25 03:04
The Ruin of a Rake (The Turner Series #3)
The Ruin of a Rake - Cat Sebastian

This one started off kind of slow and I wasn't sure I would be able to like Julien or Courtenay much. Their brief appearances in The Lawrence Browne Affair were too small to really get a fix on Julien, and Courtenay came off a little slimy. 

 

He starts this book in not much of a better light. His reputation has been tarnished, much by his own means, and he's finding himself a social leper after a salacious book written by an unknown author comes out with him cast as the main villain. Courtenay does everything he can to live down to everyone's bad opinions of him. Julien, on the other hand, designs his outward person to ingratiate himself into high society, despite being the son of a merchant and being "cursed" with having to earn a living. He's so preoccupied with appearing proper and perfect at all times that doing anything even remotely scandalous is unthinkable. So what happens when these two buffoons get together?

 

At first, a lot of frustration. Julien's wrangled into helping Courtenay repair his reputation and Courtenay does not cooperate. Of course, they're both secretly lusting for each other and so of course have to act like they hate each other. The hijinks they get into early on just had be eye rolling because I don't consider that kind of behavior remotely appealing or sexy. I really was worried I wouldn't like this one.

 

And then the characters got over themselves and started opening up, and secrets started being revealed that explained their motivations, and the story and relationship got a lot better. There's even an interesting subplot involving Julien's sister and her estranged husband that was very well done and didn't feel shoe-horned in. The second half really helped pull the rating back up. I also really appreciated that this ended with Julien and Courtenay in a much more realistic point of their relationship giving the times and their social standings.

 

Once again, Gary Furlong does a fantastic job narrating. If it wasn't for him, I'm not sure I would've finished this. He's become a favorite over the course of this series.

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review 2018-06-14 04:24
Team Phison by Chace Verity
Team Phison - Chace Verity

Phil is a grumpy restaurant owner who spends his free time playing first-person shooters and going on unsuccessful dates. He's playing his newest favorite FPS one night when he meets an enthusiastic newbie player, BisonFalls, and agrees to give him a few tips. He figures that's the end of it, but then Bison sends him a friend request and the two men eventually start talking about more personal stuff. It turns out that Bison's real name is Tyson, he's bisexual, and he's currently single. Phil finds himself arranging time to play with Tyson, texting him, calling him, and just generally thinking about him a lot. But the guy's just a gaming buddy. A young gaming buddy, 28 to Phil's 55. Surely there's no way he'd ever be interested in someone like Phil.

This was pretty sweet. For the most part, Phil and Tyson's romance was light and fluffy. The main things keeping them apart were distance and Phil's own doubts about his attractiveness to Tyson and worries about the difference between their ages. 

Tyson was like a friendly Golden Retriever in human form. Phil had a tendency to jump to conclusions and be a bit judgmental, but he was willing to listen, reevaluate his ideas, and apologize if necessary. Watching Tyson slowly turn Phil into putty was adorable, and I loved the encouragement Phil got from his friends and staff (even as I raised an eyebrow a bit at the hypocrisy of Phil texting Tyson during work hours while telling his staff they shouldn't be on their phones at work).

As I believe I've mentioned in the past, I'm not generally a fan of first-person present tense. It mostly worked okay here, other than a few moments that gave me fan fic vibes. And the sex scenes - first-person present tense sex scenes are weird.

 

(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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review 2018-05-27 21:46
Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst
Of Fire and Stars - Jordan Saia,Audrey Coulthurst

Dennaleia (Denna) is a princess of the northern kingdom of Havemont. She's engaged to be married to Crown Prince Thandilimon (Thandi) of Mynaria for political reasons I can't recall. Denna has a secret: she can perform fire magic. Unfortunately, Mynaria is becoming more and more anti-magic. Recusants, illegal magic users, are being hunted down, and things only get worse after a member of the royal family is assassinated by someone who is likely a Recusant.

While everyone else is quick to blame the Recusants and the nearby country of Zumorda for Mynaria's recent problems, Denna and Mare, the Mynarian princess, are the only ones who suspect something else might be going on. As Mynaria prepares for Denna and Thandi's upcoming marriage, Denna and Mare work together to uncover the truth...and gradually realize that they've fallen in love with each other.

I'll start by talking about the good. For the most part, the progression of Denna and Mare's relationship from rocky, to being friends, and finally to falling in love was pretty good. Although Mare would have preferred to have as little as possible to do with Denna when they first met, she was forced to help Denna learn how to ride horses (riding isn't a thing people do in Havemont) and got to know her more than she probably would have otherwise. Their eventual romance had a solid foundation and didn't feel like it appeared out of nowhere.

I was also happy to see that homophobia wasn't one of the things standing between Denna and Mare. From what I could tell, bisexuality was the default in this world. As far as marriage went, however, things were a little fuzzier. It sounded like same-sex marriages existed, but also like same-sex political marriages were less likely than political marriages between men and women.

Now it's time to get into the things I didn't like, and unfortunately the list is long.

First and foremost, Of Fire and Stars was boring. It took ages for things to happen and for Mare and Denna's investigations to move forward. I wanted more tense political intrigue, and instead I got occasional badly executed spying attempts, some library research, and Denna stressing over the possibility that her magical abilities would be discovered. Most of that was pushed into the background after Denna and Mare realized that they loved each other. I should have been rooting for their relationship and instead I couldn't wait for the book to finally be over.

The book alternated between chapters from Mare's POV and chapters from Denna's POV (first person past tense). Mare was a tomboy who preferred dressing up as a man and going information-gathering in local taverns to putting on gowns and spending time at court. Denna had been trained to be a perfect princess since birth. Coulthurst could have alternated between chapters devoted to Mare's spying activities and chapters in which Denna made connections at court, collected potentially useful court gossip, and did a bit of research in the palace library.

Instead, readers got the former (sort of) but only the barest sliver of the latter. Both Denna and Mare dismissed court gossip as something only silly court ladies participated in, an attitude that boggled my mind. Was I really supposed to believe that only commoners in taverns gossiped about the current state of affairs in the country, city, and palace? In the end, the only useful thing Denna got to do was library research.

Denna felt like little more than a sidekick throughout much of the story, even going so far as to beg Mare to take her on one of her trips to a local tavern. Mare, meanwhile, didn't strike me as being nearly as competent as the author wanted readers to believe. She'd have died or had her identity uncovered many times over if it hadn't been for her best friend Nils, one of the few halfway intelligent and capable characters in the book. She was also annoyingly childish, kicking her shoes off at things (bushes, doors) multiple times.

The way Mare and Denna's romance played out caused me to dislike them both. They were both selfish and frustrating. Mare viewed Denna moving forward with her and Thandi's wedding as choosing Thandi over her. Never mind that it was a political marriage and that there would be consequences for both of their countries if Denna suddenly announced that she had fallen in love with Mare and wanted to marry her instead.

Denna had a similar reaction when Mare considered agreeing to a political marriage of her own that would have at least guaranteed she could work with horses on a daily basis. If Denna had had her way, Mare would have stayed by her side for the rest of her life, unmarried and perpetually available for stolen kisses. Never once did she consider Mare's feelings and that it might be best for the person she supposedly loved to find what happiness she could elsewhere.

Although the book has a proper ending, there's definitely room for a sequel, and I see that one is supposed to come out sometime in 2019. I don't currently plan on reading it.

Extras:

There's a map at the beginning of the book. Somehow I didn't manage to see it until after I'd finished reading.

 

(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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