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review 2017-02-20 16:16
ARC Review: Ashwin
Ashwin - Kit Rocha
Ashwin was a decent start to Kit Rocha's new Gideon's Riders. If you haven't read any of their Beyond series, that is ok, you can start here. Gideon's Riders, while being a spin-off of the Beyond series, is self contained enough that you shouldn't feel lost. The Gideon's Riders series begins several months after the end of the Beyond series ended.

Sector One has a very different feel than Sector Four did. It has a cleaner feel, actually. Less industrial. In Sector One, the focus is on the religion that the Rios family founded. It does have some cultish aspects, but I was never creeped out by the 'cult' factor. Gideon Rios, the current leader of Sector One and head of the family, actually cares for his people and makes sure they are cared for and aid is always offered the other sectors that need it after the war, with no religious strings attached. Also, unlike Sector Four, sex isn't an outright focus. The people do enjoy a healthy liberation and their religion is not anti-sex at all. We just don't see the orgies that are common among the O'Kanes in Sector four. At least there weren't any in Ashwin.

Ashwin Malhotra is a Makhai soldier -- the most elite of the elite super soldiers that Eden created to do their bidding. Makhai soldiers have been manipulated and tortured to make them emotionless, cold-blooded killers. Every now and again, though, A Makhai will fixate on something or someone and that is a danger to everyone, so they undergo a reprogramming. It's a brutal process. For Ashwin, the object of his fixation is Dr. Kora Bellamy.

Kora has spent her life either training to be a doctor or being a doctor. And unlike pretty much every other doctor on Base in Eden, Kora never saw the Makhai as monsters. They are still human and she refused to treat them as anything less. Kora and Ashwin have a history, and since the end of the war, several months ago, Kora had assumed Ashwin to be dead. And she mourned. But Ashwin isn't dead, and encountering Kora again proves that even the harshest of conditioning is useless again some attractions.

I enjoyed reading Ashwin, though I did have some trouble connecting with Ashwin on an emotional level. Of course Ashwin had a hard time connecting to his own emotions, so... He seemed at first to be going through the motions he felt that other humans would, trying to be more like them. It was kind of like he was wearing an Edgar Ashwin suit. And I think it is absolutely true that's how he started. Ashwin wasn't like "normal" humans in any capacity. He takes being analytical to an extreme and tries to work out every possible outcome for a situation, in his head, before doing anything, and that sets him apart. So it took Ashwin a great deal of the book to become accustomed to letting himself feel and to figure out what to do with those feelings.

Kora greatly humanizes Ashwin because she sees him -- really sees him. She knows, from working with the Makhai soldiers, in general, and Ashwin, specifically, that they do feel emotion. Kora is also more empathic than most people. She is driven to help people and is very good at her profession. And when she is unable to save someone, she takes it hard.

There was a lot of world building in Ashwin and if this is your first Kit Rocha book, I think you'll benefit greatly from it. Coming from having read the Beyond series, I found some of it repetitive and I felt like it took me longer than it should have to get through this book, as much as I enjoyed it. But, as I said, if you are new to these authors, I think you will be able to enjoy Ashwin more because of it.

All in all, I'd give Ashwin 4 "I'm a real boy" stars.

ARC of Ashwin was generously provided by the authors, in exchange for an honest review.


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review 2017-02-17 05:22
ARC Review: Imago
Imago - N.R. Walker

Review to come on March 10th. For now, just know that Imago is a gorgeous, low angst story that just made me feel good. Loved it!

"I came to Tasmania in search of an elusive species." ... "But never in my wildest dreams did I expect to find you."

ARC of Imago was generously provided by the author, in exchange for an honest review.

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review 2017-02-15 23:36
ARC Review: Guns n' Boys: Bloodbath
Guns n' Boys: Bloodbath - K.A. Merikan

Warning: there may be some spoilers for previous ​Guns n' Boys books in my review below. Proceed with caution.

Guns n' Boys fans, rejoice! Guns n' Boys: Bloodbath is almost here and fans of the series are going to love it!

First, a couple things of note -- Guns n' Boys: Bloodbath​ is not a standalone novel. You need to read this series in order from book 1, onward. The only book you can skip, if you wish to do so, is Blood & Marriage. Also, do heed the warnings. The Guns n' Boys series is not for the faint of heart. Let's face it, there is nothing morally ambiguous about Guns n' Boys. It's brutal. It's bloody. It's dark. It makes me laugh at the most inappropriate moments. ​And yet, ​Dom and Seth show each other such tenderness and love​, sometimes also at very inappropriate moments. And I love it all.​​ But if the brutal and dark subject matter isn't your thing, then I would not advise reading this series.

Now, for the good stuff...Guns n' Boys: Bloodbath has become my second favorite of this series, just behind Guns n' Boys: Swamp Blood. In so many ways, this series just gets better as Dom and Seth get closer to their goal, and to each other. And their romance is so epic and gorgeous, even amidst all the blood and death that inevitably surrounds them.

Seth -- "You've never seen me like this."
Dom -- "I always see you."

To Domenico, family is everything -- nothing and no one means more. And his family is his husband Seth and Mark, whom they've taken in as a son. Dana and Miguel aren't family, but they are loyal, and he trusts them (I still think of Dana as a snake waiting to strike, however). Bottom line, Dom will do absolutely anything to keep his family safe and to achieve their goal of being able to go back to Italy.

In Guns n' Boys: Bloodbath, Dom, Seth, Mark and Miguel are set to infiltrate Toro's organization. He has ties to Mr. Tropico and so, with their eyes firmly on their goal of finding out who Mr. Tropico is, they go in. Dana is already on the inside, and secure in her position as Toro's mistress, so they have an advantage that Toro knows nothing about, but not everything goes to plan.

For the duration of their stay on Toro's compound, Dom and Seth are watched carefully. They cannot be together as a couple and that causes massive amounts of stress on both their parts. Seth feels insecure when he can't so much as touch Dom, and Dom gets cranky having to go without his husband. And they are both tested, repeatedly, but there are some things even a cold blooded killer won't do.

There were many times during Guns n' Boys: Bloodbath that I felt so awful for Seth. Seth is not cut out for such a brutal existence, but he can't bear to be away from Dom for even a short time, either. Seth can take care of himself, and in a pinch, he can fight and kill if that's what must be done. But Seth isn't really a killer. He wants to take care of Dom and Mark and grow a garden and cook and just be a family. Seth may be a Villani, but the family business isn't really for him.

Dom has grown to respect Seth in ways that he had not, previously, though, and that made me so happy. He still thinks of himself as the man of the house, so to speak, but he knows that Seth will always have his back, no matter what the cost. And that is important to Dom. And Dom will always put himself in the line of fire to save his beloved.

And Mark, who is seventeen now, is nearly a man and even he surprised me here several times. Dom has taught him well, and though Mark isn't as pragmatic as Dom, I do think that he'll be able to handle the life better than Seth. That is, if he can manage to think with his big brain. But he surprised me, and for that I cheered.

Dom and Seth are among my favorite book couples. They find such joy in one another and there is so much love and tenderness between them that I can't help but love them. Their sexy times are hot enough to scorch a planet and even then you can feel their love, and that is why I read this series. Because Dom and Seth, no matter what they face, are always all about each other. If that isn't love, I don't know what is.

PS -- The setup for the next book was seriously ominous. I don't even know what to think about it, but I can't wait to get there.

ARC of Guns n' Boys: Bloodbath was generously provided by the authors in exchange for an honest review.

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review 2017-02-11 18:10
Perfect Catch - N.R. Walker

I loved this best-friends-to-lovers story. NR Walker just does them so right! Perfect Catch was just gorgeous.

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review 2017-02-11 01:01
Forgiving your self can be the hardest part...
Secrets of You - Skylar M. Cates

Sunshine and Happiness is an interesting name for this series. It's set in Florida, so there is plenty of sunshine and the characters do find their happiness, so it isn't misnamed, but I will say that this series is angsty as fuck and often times a touch depressing, but there is always hope. It's never far away. The writing is stellar and the characters feel like real people facing real problems and though they do get their happy ending, getting there is never easy.

Ever since I read Here For You, I've been intrigued by River. He's a loner and he broods and when things get too tough for him, he takes off. Running away is River's signature move. In Here For You, he takes off after Brendan's death and through the other books you can tell he's not dealing very well. He had been seeing Brendan, but no one knew. He had feelings for Brendan, too. Strong ones and when Brendan died, River pretty well went off the rails.

River Darcourt is one of the most depressing characters I've read. He's not in the number 1 spot there, but he's high on the list. He's closed off and prone to running. He feels like no one could ever truly love him and he feels that some events of his past are completely unforgivable. River is screwed up and he knows it. He keeps everything inside and no one really knows him.

Morgan Hayes has lost some of the sparkle he used to have in abundance. Ever since he was attacked at a club, his sparkle has dulled. His father always tried to get Morgan to tone down the gay. To not be so obvious. The problem? Morgan is who he is and telling someone they should dim their shine is just wrong. But since Morgan's attack, he's had trouble not feeling like the attack was his fault. Morgan has been getting therapy, though, thank goodness, so he's getting better, but sometimes panic attacks happen.

So both our guys are a little broken, but neither are irreparably so, no matter what they might think. They have their insecurities -- River feels like he doesn't deserve love and Morgan wonders if he can compete with Brendan's ghost. However, when they are left on their own in the house while all the others are away on a cruise, well, their mutual attraction can't much be contained and they see just how good they can be together. But River needs to open up and let Morgan in, or they'll be doomed before they even begin.

I loved loved loved just how caring, protective and accepting that River was when it came to Morgan. River loved Morgan's sparkle and encouraged him to express himself. And Morgan was able to show River that he really did deserve love. They were fantastic together. And, oh to be in one's twenties again...they were very energetic. And hot.

Secrets of You is about letting go of the past. It's about learning that finding love is not just a dream. It's about opening up your soul and letting another in. It's about forgiveness.

I enjoyed this story quite a lot, but maybe not quite as much as the last book (it's close, though). This series, though, is a favorite and I recommend it for those that have a soft spot for hurt-comfort stories. And I'm hoping we get a story for a certain heartbroken, sexy fireman next (please, say yes!)

ARC of Secrets of You was generously provided by the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.

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