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review 2018-01-16 01:04
Release Day Review: The Hockey Player's Heart by Jeff Adams and Will Knauss
The Hockey Player's Heart (Dreamspun Desires Book 50) - Jeff Adams,Will Knauss

I liked this story about an out hockey player who in his teens nursed a crush on his older sister's best friend who was also his geometry tutor. Who's now a teacher at the same school where his sister is the principal. 

After an injury, hockey player Caleb Carter returns to his home town of Foster Grove to recuperate and hang out with his sister before going back to NYC to play for the Rangers. He doesn't realize that his one-time teenage crush Aaron Price now works as a teacher for his sister, but is shook when he finds out. That teenage crush he thought he was over - yeah, not so much. So Caleb pursues Aaron - inviting the slightly older man on a date and makes his interest clearly known. 

Aaron is a bit gun-shy to date another athlete after one broke his heart back in California, but Caleb is persistent, and every argument Aaron brings up that a relationship between them wouldn't work, Caleb counters. And obviously, there's a spark for Aaron too. 

The plot doesn't have any big misunderstandings nor any obvious miscommunications, and both men are open and honest about their interest, even if Aaron isn't convinced this thing between them will be anything more than a short-lived romance. 

We get a glimpse into Aaron's life as a teacher, and Caleb's life with his hockey team (gotta love Dimitri, what a great friend), and also the school's hockey team. The kids were an added bonus, and I enjoyed watching Caleb and Aaron interact.

The drama in this story comes primarily from Aaron, shy, cautious Aaron, who doesn't think he fits in with Caleb's life as a star hockey player, so he finds excuse after stupid excuse to not fully give the relationship a real chance. 

I liked Caleb a lot. He was so honest and straight-forward, and so open about how he felt and what he wanted, but also not pushy - he gave Aaron time to come around to his way of thinking. And really, three hours drive isn't a deal-breaker for most people, especially since there's an off-season to consider. Aaron is just gun-shy, which I could understand, but I also didn't think it was fair of him to think that all athletes are alike. Aaron had some self-esteem issues too - again, understandable, after being treated like so badly by the California jerk. 

There is definitely chemistry between the two men, and we are treated to some steamy yet emotional scenes between them. This being a Dreamspun Desires title, I expected a grand gesture toward the end - and yeah, I got that. Lovely scene, that.

The entire story and relationship development takes place in just a few weeks' time, which might be too fast for some, but in this case, I believed the timeline from meet-cute to HEA, because the two men knew each other from high school, and both had a bit of a crush on each other - it was easy to see how that spark might be kindled to burst into flame. 

This was my first read by this author team, even though I own the Hat Trick series by Jeff Adams in paperback, which obviously I need to read. Apparently, there will be another book which will be about Dimitri, Caleb's friend and teammate. And judging by how Dimitri feels about romance and long-term relationships in general, I cannot wait to read that one!

Give this a try. While there's a lot of hockey in the book, the romance and relationship take center stage.


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

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review 2018-01-10 11:00
ARC Review: Forever With You by Londra Laine
Forever With You - Londra Laine

First off, trigger warning - there is a detailed flashback to sexual assault in this book that happened when Kelly was a teenager. Proceed accordingly if this might be a trigger for you.

I'm of two minds about this novel. On one hand, I liked the characters and most of the plot, and the romance between the two men progressed at a reasonable pace, once Drew pulled his head out of his ass. There was good, believable chemistry between them, and the relationship had little angst - other than Kelly's traumatic experience, which he still grapples with, and Drew keeping a secret he shouldn't have. On the other hand, some of the plot felt a little OTT - there was a homophobic father and blackmail and attempted coercion and a marriage pact that all seemed a bit too much for my taste. In addition, during the first 15% or so, I felt that a lot of the writing was info dump and superfluous. For example, I didn't need to be told multiple times that Kelly's little brother Jaylen has asthma and required breathing treatments, which are expensive. I didn't need to be told multiple times that Kelly has chosen to be an admin assistant at this company because it comes with medical benefits for his brother. Most readers, including myself, will remember if being told information once. Twice is okay. More than that, I get irritated. 

Drew is Kelly's boss, and because Drew has a crush on the younger man, he's been treating him coldly and rudely, which - what? Considering that Drew is supposedly in his 30s, I would assume that someone of his age had a better grip on his emotions than that, and could act in a professional manner - which he didn't. Kelly doesn't understand why his boss is nice to everyone else, but cold with him, especially since Kelly has a bit of a crush on the older man too. I wouldn't have understood either, and Drew's behavior pissed me off.

After Kelly's office birthday celebration, Drew's tenuous hold on his self-control snaps, and the two men share a hot and heavy kiss in his office. Something triggers Kelly, and he freaks out and runs. Confused and worried, Drew attempts to find out what happened. He comes on super strong at first, but when Kelly has a another freak-out due to his trauma, Drew reins it in, thankfully so. He was actually a very caring guy, and I appreciated that.

I did have some concerns about the realism of their office demeanor - nobody seems to have questioned their changed behavior, really, and nobody seems to have any suspicions. Additionally, there were some occasions early on where Drew is a complete ass in making himself sound as if Kelly's job may be on the line if he doesn't comply - which, hello, harassment.

Kelly has a great support system in his friends, and dances at a gay bar on weekends. He also has custody of his much younger brother after his mother and step-father died when Kelly was but 19. Having put himself through college and looking after his baby brother is quite a feat. He had a lot of backbone, which I appreciated, and he didn't let Drew push him around. Much.

Once Drew finds out more about Kelly's background and really takes the time to get to know the other man, lending support when the little brother ends up in the hospital with asthma attacks, and generally being there for Kelly, their romance truly started to flourish, and I could see that Kelly started to trust Drew.

There were many emotional scenes that were either heart-breaking or heart-warming, and plenty of sexy times that thankfully didn't feel gratuitous, and I enjoyed reading this story for the most part. I could have done without the explicit flashback - I didn't feel that was necessary to bring Kelly's trauma across, and it felt somewhat exploitative. Again, heed the trigger warning.

Overall, for a debut novel, this was a good read, and I would be inclined to read more of this author's books as they are published.


** I received a free copy of this book from Gay Book Promotions as part of a review tour in exchange for an honest review. **

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review 2018-01-09 14:30
Rabbit's Snow Day by Todd Strader
Rabbit's Snow Day - Todd Strader

Title:  Rabbit's Snow Day

Author:  Todd Strader

Artist: Penny Collins

Genre:  Animals / Winter / Children's 


Year Published: 2017


Year Read:  2017

Publisher: 
 Cyfarwydd Books


Source:  eARC (Author)

Content Rating:  Ages 4+ (Nothing Objectionable)

Release Date:  November 2017

 

 

 

 

I would like to thank the author Todd Strader for providing me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

I have always loved reading books that deal with animals and when I got a free copy of “Rabbit’s Snow Day” from the author Todd Strader, I was really excited to check this book out since I love reading books about rabbits! “Rabbit’s Snow Day” which is written by Todd Strader along with artwork by Penny Collins is a truly cute story about how rabbits survive in the winter that children will definitely enjoy!

Basically, the plot of this book is about the rabbits trying to survive the winter and about how they try to stay out of the fox and the humans’ way while the winter is raging away and this is all told in a poetic narrative.

Wow! This book was a really cute read, especially if you love rabbits (like myself) and Todd Strader did a fantastic job at writing this book as the book is told in a poetic narrative that gives the book a unique and beautiful tone. I also loved the information that Todd Strader provided about rabbits at the end of the book as I wanted to learn more about rabbits in general and how they live in the wilderness and survive the dangers of the wilderness. Penny Collins’ artwork is gorgeous to look at as all the animals are drawn realistically, especially the rabbits themselves and I enjoyed seeing the winter atmosphere of the artwork as snow covers everything, from the ground to the trees, and all the snow covering up the pages give the artwork a beautiful and peaceful atmosphere. 

Rabbit

The reason why I gave this book a four-star rating was because I felt that the story was a bit too short and I wanted a much longer story on the rabbits’ adventures during the winter season and their encounters with the fox and the humans. I also felt that a good majority of this book was focused more on giving out information about rabbits in general rather than focusing on giving us a story about the rabbits and their time spent surviving the winter season.

Overall, “Rabbit’s Snow Day” is a cute book for anyone who loves reading about rabbits and loves reading about winter as a whole. I would recommend this book to children ages four and up since there is nothing inappropriate in this book.

Review is also on: Rabbit Ears Book Blog

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review 2018-01-09 02:53
Book Review: A Very Wilde Christmas by Sam Burns
A Very Wilde Christmas (Wilde Love) - Sam Burns

This book cannot be read as a standalone. If you haven't read the 4 books in this series, this will spoil things for you, so don't do that.

4 short stories comprise this Christmas book, and we get to visit with all 4 couples. 

 

Possible spoilers below...

 

 

 

 

 

 

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review 2018-01-09 02:37
ARC Review: An Unlocked Mind by K.C. Wells and Parker Williams
An Unlocked Mind (Secrets Book 2) - K.C. Wells,Parker Williams

This 2nd book in the spin-off series deals with Rob Daniels, Alex's brother, who had a hand in Alex and Leo almost not having a happy ever after, and whose actions, to some extent, caused Alex to remove himself from his judgmental family.

Rob is such a lost boy. He blames himself for Alex's leaving, and yet he's determined to prove that Alex has it all wrong - BDSM is not love. Therefore, Rob goes to Secrets to once again prove that point, sneering and judging everyone he sees in the club. Rob has issues. Massive issues.

Then he meets a brick wall named Vic Prentiss, a Dom who used to be a member at the club prior to it becoming Secrets and who might be looking for a new sub. Vic takes one look at Rob and realizes that the young man has built up massive walls and locked away his heart. He offers the young man a night on the couch, with a promise not to touch him but take him to the train station in the morning. After some fussing and insults, Rob agrees. 

Rob returns to his shitty job and his shitty apartment in Manchester, only to blow money on a train ticket back to London to show up at Vic's house, time and again. And slowly, oh so slowly, Rob starts to open up. 

This story really tugged on my heart strings. Rob is so lost, so lonely, and so scared. He's afraid of his mother, and he's regretful of the events he set in motion that resulted in Alex leaving and hating Rob for what he did. He wants nothing more than a chance to make things right with his brother, but is afraid to take that first step, and too stubborn to entertain the possibility that Alex found exactly what he needed in Leo, and that their relationship is built on love, even if there's kinky stuff going on. He doesn't understand how anyone could want to be "smacked around", as if BDSM only consists of whippings, and he doesn't understand why anyone would choose to submit to the will of another. He doesn't understand that the sub holds all the power in a BDSM relationship, and that everything stops with a safe word. He doesn't understand the draw, and the release, and the trust that has to be established. He doesn't understand much at all.

And then Vic starts to show him. And Rob opens his eyes, and I cried. Because once Rob lets go, once Rob tears down those walls - the lost boy grows up and becomes a man. Rob finally lets go of pretending to be straight, lets go of lashing out whenever someone suggests he might be gay, lets go of the guilt and the anger and the pain. I cried and cried. As Rob unshackles himself from his past, as Rob reaches out and claims a bit of happiness, as Rob finds what he's been seeking, in Vic's arms, in his brother's embrace, in his father's support - Rob becomes a man. And I cried.

I adored Vic. He was so patient, so careful, and so intent on finding the key to unlock what Rob kept hidden in his mind, so strong and calm to soothe away the pain and grief and to make Rob see that love and trust are at the root of true BDSM relationships. 

And Rob, the lost boy, becomes a man.

With gorgeous writing and a ton of emotion, this was a fitting continuation of the brilliant collaboration between these two authors. 


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

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