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review 2017-07-19 02:23
ARC Review: Mascara & Bandages (Mary's Boys #3) by Brandon Witt
Mascara & Bandages (Mary's Boys Book 3) - Brandon Witt

This is the 3rd book in the Mary's Boys series, all set in and around a Hamburger Mary's in Denver, CO.

On his way home from Hamburger Mary's after a performance as his drag queen alter ego Ariel Merman, while still dressed as Ariel, Zachary Cooper becomes the victim of a gay bashing. 

I was already crying when he comes to in the hospital, in pain and worried that the homophobic assholes who attacked him messed up his face and that he won't be able to perform anymore. 

In walks Teegan Chau, his doctor, and things suddenly look up.

Teegan has only recently come out as gay, and while he's divorced from his wife, they share a little girl and have a great friendly, supportive relationship. Teegan has had some hook-ups with other men, but has never been on an actual date with a man. Instantly smitten with the younger, somewhat femme guy in the hospital bed, Teegan and Zachary agree on a date. 

While the story had the potential to be really angsty, it actually wasn't, and there's a lot of inner strength to Zachary. He has a steely interior, and while he struggles a little with the trauma from the attack, he doesn't allow it to destroy him. 

I loved that the author didn't rush the developing relationship. Teegan's adorkable awkwardness on their first date was super cute, but neither he nor Zachary jumped into a commitment - they took their time to test the waters and really build a foundation.

As Ariel, Zachary is free to be himself, instead of worrying about meeting expectations other men might have of him. I loved that the author wrote about a femme man and the misconceptions that come with that. 

This book is the most heart-breaking and also most heart-warming of the series so far, as Zachary and Teegan, and the whole Mary's chosen family, deal with societal expectations, homophobia, the bashing, immediate family issues, and how to forge their own way.

There isn't a lot of steam here, and I for one don't need that in a romance novel to believe the relationship. Zachary grows into himself here, and Teegan finds exactly what he never knew he always wanted. 

So well done. 


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

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review 2017-07-19 01:35
Book Review: Not Safe For Work by L.A. Witt
Not Safe For Work - L.A. Witt
I snagged this when the author offered it for free a little while back, and devoured it as soon as I got a chance.

It exceeded my expectations!!

Now, I know LA Witt can write the sexy times, and I know that she will always, always, always make sure that her BDSM novels make it very clear indeed that while the Dom is in charge, the sub holds all the power. She takes the time to weave explanations about the lifestyle seamlessly into her books, and I cannot thank her enough for continuing to educate me and others what BDSM is really all about.

What pushed this book into 5 star territory though was the romance. Never mind the holy hot boysecks, what really impressed me here was the author's ability to convey how her characters felt, through their words and actions. She showed me their emotions, their fears, their joy - she didn't tell me. Told entirely from Jon's POV, we don't hear from Rick directly, but his character was well fleshed out just the same, and I felt a connection to him just as much as I connected with Jon.

Jon and Rick both have struggles to overcome, and Jon often carried a lot of weight on his shoulders (work issues, and paying for his kids' college education), but Rick was always supportive and understanding.

I loved every single minute I spend reading this book, cursing when work interfered, because I needed to keep reading, dammit, and follow Rick and Jon through their first realization that their kinks match up, through growing closer, through realizing that what they have is, while unexpected, exactly what they both need, and through the rough parts where they falter and stumble and nearly crash and burn.

This book is everything I could hope for in a romance novel. The conflict was exterior to the relationship, and I ranted out loud when Jon's employer did that thing they did, and I was enraged when Jon... no, you read this for yourself. 

Extra kudos for not having an evil ex-wife (Jon's ex-wife lives with him for financial reasons, and they are good friends, supportive of each other), and for having a wonderful supporting cast in Jon's co-workers that often made me laugh out loud. 

If you like your romance a bit on the kinky side (it's not overwhelmingly kinky, to be honest, and Rick is not a pain slut or a slave, and Jon isn't a sadist), then I would highly recommend you give this book a try. 

I loved it.
 
 

 

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review 2017-07-18 14:03
Book Review 'Hate To Want You' by Alisha Rai
Hate to Want You: Forbidden Hearts - Alisha Rai

'Hate To Want You' by Alisha Rai is Book One in the "Forbidden Hearts" series. This is the story of Livvy Kane and Nicholas Chandler.
Livvy and Nicholas are what I would say are Star crossed lovers. Their families had a falling out after a terrible tragedy which effected both sides. But Livvy and Nicholas kept meeting one a year to have one night together. But now Livvy is back taking care of her mother putting her and Nicholas in the same area.
They book besides romance, does deal with family lost and depression among other things. So just beware that there is some emotional pull to this book.
Overall enjoyed their story!
"My honest review is for a special copy I voluntarily read."
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Source: www.amazon.com/Hate-Want-You-Forbidden-Hearts-ebook/dp/B01LYE196D/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1500333410&sr=8-1&keywords=Hate+To+Want+You
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text 2017-07-16 04:13
What I've read since I've been away...
Difficult Women - Roxane Gay
Fearless Creating - Eric Maisel
Baltimore Blues - Laura Lippman
The Hate U Give - Angie Thomas
The Girl with All the Gifts - M.R. Carey
Al Franken, Giant of the Senate - Al Franken
Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Res... Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy - Sheryl Sandberg,Adam Grant
Dangerous Ends: (Pete Fernandez Book 3) ... Dangerous Ends: (Pete Fernandez Book 3) - Alex Segura

Difficult Women by Roxanne Gay
Fearless Creating by Eric Maisel
Baltimore Blues by Laura Lippman
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
The Girl With All The Gifts by MR Carey
The Widow Nash by Jamie Harrison
Giant of the Senate by Al Franken
Option B - Facing Adversity, Building Resilience and Finding Joy. 
Dangerous Ends by Alex Segura



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review 2017-07-15 01:16
Hate to Want You by Alisha Rai
Hate to Want You: Forbidden Hearts - Alisha Rai

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Growing up as the pseduo prince and princess of their families, it was almost inevitable that Nicholas and Livvy would end up together. However, their world gets shattered when tragedy strikes and they find themselves ripped apart.
Ten years later and Livvy is back home to take care of her mother and maybe get back some of what was lost to her.
Nicholas wants something too, more than one night a year.
 
First in the new Forbidden Hearts series, Hate to Want Youlends itself to the easy comparison to Romeo and Juliet. We have two families brought together by hard work and determinism, only to be broken apart two generations later by hurt, innuendo, secrets, and pain. Our couple's grandfathers started a grocery store that has been built up over the years to develop into a chain. When the heroine's father and the hero's mother are killed in a car accident together, painful questions are raised. Then the hero's father does some suspiciously underhanded dealings to buy heroine's family half of the grocery chain. Thus, begins the cold war between the families and the fracturing of Livvy and Nicholas' romance. 
 
In terms of pure pleasure and relief, he imagined the feeling he got when he received a text from Livvy was similar to what an addict felt when they got a hit of whatever drug they craved. 
 
We are started off with Nicholas' point of view and what a deep emotional start it was. We learn that on Livvy's birthday she texts him her coordinates, he travels to her, and they have sex for that one night a year. Except she didn't do it this year and he finds out she is in town where she hasn't stepped foot in ten years. Our first look at the couple is so filled with emotion and sexual tension, you'll be hooked. Nicholas starts off as the brighter focus of the two with his barely contained torment, weight of struggling to take care of the business and his family, and inability to stop craving Livvy. There is a tiny little bit of martyr syndrome to him, but ultimately, his character and heart was wonderful to read.
 
All those years ago, she'd lost her father to death, her mother to grief, her brothers to hate. And then she'd lost him. 
 
While I thought Nicholas started off with a stronger spotlight, Livvy grows brighter and brighter with each new insight to her character. Livvy was such an amazing look at strengths and weaknesses that were laid bare with inner struggles that were a painful beauty to behold. Her struggle to try and manage her feelings to what she thinks is acceptable and still respect her herself had so much depth. We also learn of a very real struggle she deals with, I loved how the author didn't use to define her but showed how she is in some ways fashioned from it. Our heroines don't always get to be everything; Livvy was a fantastic multi-faceted woman.
 
There is no way I can do justice in relaying to you the complete picture of story and characters Alisha Rai gives us. The family dynamics going on here were tremendously done, with the emotions feeling real and raw. There's obviously more to be discovered about the instances that tore these two families apart, the introduction to the secondary characters that are connected by these story threads will have you dying to get the complete picture. Nicholas and Livvy's siblings aren't thrown out there as series bait but rather fill out the complete story; I'm salivating for their stories (Put me on team pairing up Eve and Gabe!). 
 
Now, this has more intense sexual talk and scenes than your average contemporary, you could probably put an erotica tag on it. They are gritty, raw, and of course sexual with the author not shying away from pearl clutching language. I would argue though, that what makes them feel so raw are the deep emotion between Livvy and Nicholas, but look, the spanking and hair pulling also helps. What I personally loved about their sex scenes were the powerful dynamics happening. There's a blowjob scene where Nicholas is the more vulnerable participant, even while physically we know he's the more powerful, he's shown to be incredibly emotionally vulnerable. There's been a little bit of a trend to portray "Me Tarzan, you Jane" sex, the power and emotion dynamics sex scenes here blow those depictions out of the water for me. I was a huge fan of what felt more like consensual and emotionally balanced sex. What I'm trying to say, is spanking and hair pulling sex scenes can be amazing when you add depth of emotion. The hint of humor and lightness between our couple, which gets bogged down sometimes from the pain and circumstances, also plays a big part here, even if regulated to the edges.
 
Deep, emotional, raw, and hot, Hate to Want You is an incredible lovers-to-enemies-to-lovers romance. Nicholas and Livvy's desire and love for one another is the stuff of Shakespearean plays. Alisha Rai has set up a series with a world and characters that I can't wait to return to and read about. 
 
"You're not my secret anymore. My love for you is bigger than anyone who might try to tear us apart." He paused. "I won't leave you, Livvy. You don't have to trust me completely right now, but watch me. Watch me fight for you this time." 

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