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review 2017-05-16 02:25
Release Day ARC Review: Two For Trust by Elle Brownlee
Two for Trust (Dreamspun Desires Book 34) - Elle Brownlee

Well, that was mostly lovely. No steam but a few hot kisses and a lot of longing, and a super slow burn romance between an American nurse/tourist in England and the well-off owner of a manor. Finch is utterly adorable and exactly what the somewhat stuffy Benedict needed in his life.

Finch Mason, young, single, and a nurse, is on the trip of a lifetime - two weeks in jolly olde England, armed with a National Trust pass, that turns out to be a pass for two for one week, instead of a pass for one for two weeks. No matter, because why not offer the 2nd entry to the old mill he's visiting to the handsome Brit who shows up ever so fortuitously. And then Finch and Benedict meet time and again, and share a week of visiting historical sites in that particular area of Britain.

Over the course of the week, Finch rescues a puppy from a hole in the ground, has tea and crumpets with Benedict, and starts to have feelings for the handsome older man. He's quit his job in the States because they wouldn't grant him the vacation time, and he is not looking forward to returning stateside because of that pesky job search he'll have to undertake.

His funds are limited, but he's optimistic and a bit of a history geek, and admires Benedict and his charms.

I could see how Finch would look to the older Benedict as someone to admire, but I just didn't really buy the developing relationship. More often than not, Benedict comes across as a cold fish - I'm not sure whether that was his personality or if he acted this way because he thought it was expected.

After the first week, Benedict plans to move on to the next hostel, but his plans are dashed when he returns to his room and discovers someone has ransacked it and stolen nearly everything. And Benedict rushes to the rescue.

I had already figured at their first meeting that Benedict wasn't quite who Finch assumed him to be, so the reveal wasn't a big surprise to me. I also at that point became a little bit uncomfortable with the manner in which Benedict takes over control, and starts telling Finch what to do. It could be said that he was doing this only because he too had started to look at the young man with something like desire and longing, and possibly even love, but it wasn't well explained and not really shown.

At about 2/3 in, Benedict asks Finch to take his grandmother across the Channel to visit her sister in The Netherlands, for payment, and Finch agrees to play nursemaid for the trip across and a few days in the Dutch countryside, and then catching a flight to London and get there in time for his return to the US. There's an unexpected kiss at the dock. Except things don't exactly go as planned once they've made it across, and Grandma gets herself into a spot of trouble, and then Finch... well, you read this for yourself.

Finch ends up staying longer than initially planned - not that he has a job to go home to - and then there's a bit of a misunderstanding, and an impetuous Finch runs off, thinking he's unwanted.

As this is a romance, we get a happy ending, of course.

I quite adored Finch. He had a really bad relationship experience prior to getting to England, and I don't think he saw himself as someone who was worthy of Benedict, or anyone else, for that matter. He's unfailingly polite, gracious, and always very grateful to everyone who helps him, but also not a complete doormat. He loves animals, he's kind and optimistic, and he doesn't let life get him down. I do believe he was good for Benedict, and helped to loosen the chap up a bit, and maybe pull the stick out of his arse.

Benedict - well, I guess he grew on me by the end, but I didn't like it when he said things that sounded a bit too much like scolding Finch for my taste, or giving me the impression that he was bothered by the young man's presence in his home. Sure, we're told that he doesn't feel that way at all, but it doesn't really come across that way in his actions. I guess I was missing the chemistry here - there just didn't seem to be much passion at all - and while I don't need steam in my romance books, I found it strange that the two men would share nothing but a few hot kisses before the grandiose ending, not even off-page.

YMMV.


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

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review 2017-05-05 02:46
ARC Review: Blue by B.G. Thomas
Blue - B.G. Thomas

I first encountered Blue McCoy in book 2 of the Seasons Of Love series by this author, when he was unwittingly and unwillingly involved in a terrible act committed by Howard, who was Wyatt's "husband" at the time.

I've been waiting for some time for Blue to tell me his own story and delighted when it was finally available.

There may be some slight spoilers below...
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review 2017-04-16 00:25
ARC Review: Forgotten Paradise by Shira Anthony
Forgotten Paradise (Dreamspun Desires Book 32) - Shira Anthony

This book made lovely use of the amnesia trope - with a twist, albeit one that was (un)intentionally revealed fairly early on.

Adam Preston is a programmer by heart and a computer business owner by trade. Having taken over the company his father built after Dad's untimely demise, he now has Entech, a giant, ruthless company, after his business and his brains. At odds with his younger brother, and stressed from having to deal with a merger he doesn't want, Adam takes his sister's advice and take a week's vacation in the Dominican Republic.

Where he meets Jonah James, who's lived on the island for the last 10 years after washing up on its shore without any memory of his former life. He's managed to become a Diving Instructor, and now leads groups of or individuals tourists on dives around the island. Any time he tries to remember his past, he's hit by massive headaches and mostly doesn't even try anymore. Except spending time with Adam seems to lift the murky veils that cover his past, and Jonah starts to get glimpses of events of who he might have been before.

The first half of the story describes what they presume is just a vacation fling - picnics on the beach, diving, spending time together as much as possible, talking to each other about whatever comes to mind, and realizing that the feelings they're developing may be more than just a fling. On Adam's last night, they finally fall into bed together and burn up the sheets.

The second half of the book deals with the fallout of Jonah regaining his memory (nothing like a night of great sex to get that clarity, amirite), and that changes the dynamic completely.

Adam finds out on the news that what they had joked about during an evening at the beach is actually true, and (view spoiler).

Which brings us to the second trope utilized in this book - getting a second chance. Jonah, upon regaining his memories, and reliving the event that caused him to ultimately wash up on the beach, uses this as a turning point in his life and begins to make amends, realizing that chasing success ruthlessly isn't all that life's about. There's a subplot here too with his business partner that for a while there causes Adam and Jonah's romance to fully derail.

Adam too has a chance to change - especially the relationship he has with his brother - and look at things differently. He's heartbroken, of course, thinking that he's lost Jonah, but deals with the pain as best as he can.

The author did a fabulous job realizing fully fleshed-out, three-dimensional characters in this book and allowed them to grow as well. Set against a gorgeous backdrop, the romance was absolutely believable, even if Jonah's background story is pretty unrealistic, but I expect that from the books in this series. I very much enjoyed reading this, especially as the author seamlessly weaves in fun facts about diving as well.

Obviously, this has a HEA - it wouldn't be a Dreamspun Desires title without. Recommended.


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

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review 2017-02-28 15:18
ARC Review: The Real Thing by B.G. Thomas
The Real Thing - B.G. Thomas

I read the 2nd edition of this book.

This was a little too short for my taste at only about 40 pages.

Bryan Mills has a thing for older men who are also cowboys. He likes to dress up as a cowboy too, thinking that looking the part might get him an in with the kind of man he desires.

So while he's out pretending to be a cowboy, he meets an actual, take-charge cowboy. Curtis Hansen is everything Bryan wants in a man, and they spend a hot night together.

Bryan is head over heels for Curtis, but also realizes that he may have given gave the wrong impression with how he dressed and presented himself.

The rest of the book basically deals with Bryan trying to figure out how to set the record straight and keep his cowboy despite his misrepresentations, and waiting for his cowboy to call him again.

Unfortunately, the book is too short to really delve deeply enough into the developing relationship. I felt as if Bryan was glamorizing and almost fetishizing Curtis, who deserved better than that. I also had a hard time believing there was an actual spark between the two men, because Bryan misrepresented himself for a while and deceived Curtis, and while Bryan does come clean, the whole thing left me with a bad taste in my mouth. I felt too much insta-love and awe from Bryan versus a strong emotional connection.

The writing is typical B.G. Thomas - a little breathless, but descriptive without being flowery, and as always evoking specific emotions. I do adore this rather unique writing style, and it's something I tend to look for in his books.

I liked this book well enough - it just didn't bowl me over, and that was due to lack of length and depth. This author's strength lies in writing the longer books, the ones that take their time to develop the relationship and the characters.


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

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review 2017-01-31 06:40
All together the book just doesn't stand up as a polished piece of work.
For the Love of Women: Volume 2 - Kat Watson,Lisa Hollett,Toira O'Brady

Individually these stories range from 1-4 stars, but all together the book just doesn't stand up as a polished piece of work. There are some really great ideas within, but they need some work to make them stand on their own, or even in a collection of short pieces. Some of the ideas really need a lot more room to develop, while others are clearly aimed at the titillation crowd but they just don't mesh well with the rest of the pieces.

I've got some comments on each piece below:

She marries her
Sweet and tender, the blushing brides are a nice read, except the end felt a bit too much for the rest of the piece. If you're going to go with sweet and tender, leave it there. Don't go for too much. There's also a few adverbs and adjectives I'd pull to strengthen the story, but overall a nice story.
3.5 stars

Are Angels Allowed to swear?
Interesting premise, nice, albeit swift lead up to and complete sex scene, but reasonable. The story on the whole was more of a glimpse than a whole story.
4 stars (really needs to be longer!!)

Scars of War
What a sad story. The beginning started so peacefully, only to be shattered by war, fighting and death. I feel this one could benefit from being longer to give the reader a better picture of the world and belief system. In the story as it is, only a small glimpse is possible.
3 stars

Beautifully exposed
Way too short, not enough of anything to really get into.
2 stars

Wava and Claire
Paranormal vampires and a heap of backstory thrown at the reader. Too short to work well, too much info dumping. Not enough characterisation to really set the tone. Some editing required to smooth the adjectives and adverbs not needed.
2 stars

The Beach
There is so much wrong with this story it's not funny. Too much gushing, both characters are experts in bed when they've only just met, they each have way too many orgasms, the intimacy is too much and in general there's just too much of everything. Totally unbelievable and clearly written for the titillation crowd, not those who might want more of a story.

One thing I noticed: '...and slowly start moving my fingers in and out of her quickly.'
1 star

**Note: I was provided an electronic copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.**

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