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review 2018-05-02 02:01
ARC Review: Hard Line by Sidney Bell
Hard Line - Sidney Bell

Tobias is a consummate good boy. The perfect people pleaser. After announcing at a young age that he would become a doctor like his Papa, he's now stuck in premed classes he hates, but can't tell anyone. Struggling with abandonment issues all his life, after being found in a dumpster as a baby and having been adopted by a Haitian couple who provide a loving but strict home, he has tried and tried and tried to be the perfect son, the perfect friend - because if only he's perfect, people won't leave him. He remembers what happened the last time he tried to break free of his parents' expectations. It earned him a trip to the Woodbury Center, where he met Ghost and Church (whom we met in the first book). Yes, Tobias is a good boy. 

Until he isn't. 

When Ghost goes missing and Tobias realizes that he may be in trouble, he will do whatever it takes to find his friend. Including blackmailing a PI to help him.

Sullivan is that PI. He's working an old case that his boss took over from the previous owner of the firm, and he is pursuing a new trail that puts him in Tobias' path. Blackmailed into helping the younger man find his friend, he reluctantly begins to spend time with Tobias while gathering clues.

It becomes clear quickly that Sullivan possesses a quality Tobias craves. He craves it without knowing what to call it. Soon, they spend their days searching for clues and their nights exploring their mutual kink. 

This book is really a character study wrapped in a mystery/suspense plot. The author cleverly weaves Tobias' growth as a person, as an individual, as someone who figures out his own needs and wants compared to what he's been told to need and want, into the plot and provides Sullivan as the key to give Tobias wings to fly. 

Of course, standing up for yourself isn't an easy thing to do when you've been indoctrinated all your life to do for others, to sacrifice your own wants and needs, to stay the course laid out for you by someone else, while grappling with crushing guilt and fears of abandonment. All too often, we attempt to change ourselves, only to be told by those we love to change back. To revert to who and what we were, because change is hard. It's difficult, not only for the person changing, but also for the people in your lives who may not understand your need to become someone different. Some people will withhold their affection because you've decided to become a truer version of yourself, and if you fear losing them, if you don't meet their expectations - well.... That takes a lot of strength to overcome.

Tobias learns that people don't always leave because he's not perfect. Tobias learns to trust himself. Tobias learns to trust Sullivan. 

And Sullivan learns to trust Tobias. It takes him a bit longer to see the younger man clearly, but eventually, he does. 

The mystery/suspense - yeah, not going to give anything away here. I will say though that it had some twists and turns I didn't expect, and it kept me glued to the pages until the very end. 

I really enjoyed this book. I enjoyed it even more so than the first one. While it could be read as a standalone, I think it would make more sense to someone who's read the first one - there is some background info that should be present for this book to have the full impact. 

And, honestly, why wouldn't you read both? Sidney Bell has written a fabulous follow-up to the first book, and they are both well worth your time!


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

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review 2018-04-03 06:30
Complicated
Squared Away (Out of Uniform #5) - Annabeth Albert

This is book #5, in the Out Of Uniform series.  This book can be read as a standalone novel.  For reader understanding, and to avoid spoilers, I recommend reading these in order.

 

Mark is a SEAL and not much shakes him up, usually.  With tragic news, he rushes to home to find Isaiah has things in hand.  The very man he has been avoiding since his sister's wedding six years ago.  Now they must find a compromise for the future.

 

Isaiah has been doing just fine with the kids in his care.  Mark coming home is not going to change that.  With a little luck, and maybe a miracle, they can come together for the kids and make is better.

 

Sizzle and pop are what you hear when these men look at one another.  This great addition to an already stellar series, brings back some series favorites with cameos too.  I loved the very real feelings that were between the characters.  I also loved that the pace was not rushed.  I give this book a 4/5 Kitty's Paws UP!

 

 

***This ARC was given by Netgalley and its publishers, in exchange for an honest review.

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review 2018-02-06 01:34
ARC Review: And The Next Thing You Know... by Chase Taylor Hackett
And the next Thing You Know . . . - Chase Taylor Hackett

This was freaking AWESOME!!!!

I didn't like Jeffrey (don't call him Jeff) in the first book in this series, because he came across as a pompous ass, and I don't usually have time for the arrogant, cocky, snobby, hot-shot attorney kind of person. 

But this book was delicious fun - I had a blast watching Jeffrey get cut to size by Theo. 

Let me set the stage, okay?

Jeffrey is best friends and co-workers with Rebecca who is Theo's older sister. This is important information. Theo is currently occupying his sister's fold-out couch, because his douchey sort of boyfriend has maybe found greener pastures. 

First scene, Jeffrey, still smarting from the break-up (how dare Roger leave him for Fletcher, the reformed cheater), is supposed to meet Rebecca in a restaurant for lunch and instead finds Theo at the table. Presuming that Rebecca is trying to set him up, Jeffrey informs Theo that, sadly, he's not interested in dating right now, because *sniffles* that break-up is still hurting him, but please don't take it personally, Theo, because surely you're fabulous, really. 

Theo, having no idea what Jeffrey is going on about, immediately makes mince-meat of the self-important prick who presumes to know anything about anything. 

And thus, their hate-ship is born.

The book is chockful of snark and sarcasm, and the witty back and forth between Jeffrey and Theo had me in stitches. And yet, even through my giggles, I could see a vulnerability in both of them, something they would categorically deny if asked, but simmering just beneath the surface. For all his pompousness, Jeffrey was really hurt by Roger choosing Fletcher, and for all his bravado at 5'6" and skinny, Theo was just hiding behind a mask constructed of his cutting remarks. Jeffrey is also not as cold and calculating as he likes to portray himself, even if Theo doesn't quite see it right away. That thing with the red shoelaces though - total win. And that was only icing on the Jeffrey-is-really-a-marshmallow cake. Because, see, Jeffrey doesn't even realize it himself for a long time - the super cool and collected at all times go-getter lawyer - that's a mask too. 

Shenanigans - this book had them. Snappy dialogue, self-deprecating humor, a brilliant use of the enemies-to-lovers trope, this was everything I had hoped for and more. 

Still, it's not all snark and banter aka foreplay here. Jeffrey does a crappy thing, and he knows it's a crappy thing, and he doesn't say anything about that crappy thing, even when he should have, and then it comes back to bite him in the ass. Hard. And it's the end of the Theo and Jeffrey comedy of errors. 

Well, no, not really, of course, since this is a romance, after all. When Jeffrey realizes the crappy thing was really super crappy and had some really crappy consequences, he actually for once in his life puts someone else first, no matter the consequences to himself. And Jeffrey, spoiled, rich, arrogant little boy Jeffrey grows up and becomes a real man. 

Theo too has some growing up to do. He has to learn that being short isn't the same as being helpless, but that sometimes it's okay to lean on others and let them help you. It doesn't make you a lesser person. 

I will warn you though - this book isn't politically correct or sensitive to unkind language. The author didn't pull any punches, but also succeeded in making the characters feel more realistic this way. Because, let's face it, we all have unkind thoughts towards others on occasion, that's just human nature. 

Additionally, and this is not an issue for me but may be for other readers, there is no on-page steam. While Jeffrey and Theo get it on eventually, those scenes are completely fade-to-black and mentioned only in transition to the next scene. There is plenty of chemistry though, and I had no difficulty believing that their bedroom exploits were as explosive as their hate-ship in the beginning. 

The old adage is true after all - there is but a thin line between love and hate, and the opposite of love is not hate, but indifference. Neither MC, despite their protestations, was indifferent to the other, and they went easily from hate to love, without meaning to, without realizing it at first, and without having planned for it. And in the process found in each other exactly that which they never knew they always wanted. 

Brilliant!

I LOVED this book. Highly recommended. 


** I received a free copy from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. **

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review 2017-12-12 11:08
Starting now
On Duty (Smoke & Bullets) - A.R. Barley

Troy has one thing happen after another.  When a really bad situation turns good thanks to a new roommate, he tries to settle into a new routine.  If he finds his friend attractive, does that make him a bad person?

 

Alex was interested in Troy from the moment he saw him.  Getting him moved in was just a bonus.  He is hoping they can both overcome the past, and make a bright future together.

 

This book was really such a bright spot.  I was pleased the characters had such a banter, that they came across as a couple right away.  The main hero was just fun to read.  I loved the humor and the real pieces to the story that made it fit just right.  This author is always a go to purchase, and this was this author's best work yet!  I give this book a 4/5 Kitty's Paws UP!

 

 

***This ARC copy was given by Netgalley and its publisher in exchange for an honest review only.

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review 2017-10-08 13:34
Hit me
Wheels Up (Out of Uniform) - Annabeth Albert

This is book #4, in the Out Of Uniform series.  This book can be read as a standalone novel.  For reader enjoyment and to avoid spoilers, I recommend reading this great series in order.

 

Dustin & Wes have an incredible hot moment in time.  Then they find out they are co-workers.  Now it cost them everything if they choose to be together.

 

Wes moves all the way across country to a new team.  Only to find out he knows someone there already.  Can he resist the one man who has held his dreams captive?

 

This is such a sweet, yet steamy book.  I love this series and how it brings out the characters choosing from real odds for love.  The characters are easy to connect with and have a sparkling chemistry that is hard to deny.  I give this story a 4/5 Kitty's Paws UP!

 

 

***This ARC copy was given in exchange for an honest review by Netgalley and its publishers.

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