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Search tags: Less-Than-Three-Press
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review 2017-04-04 02:13
ARC Review: Conflict Management by Rachel White
Conflict Management - Rachel White

This was my first foray into this author's writing, and it was a complete success. I even added a new shelf for this (doing-the-bossman) because it clearly needed that.

This book is at its core about two socially awkward men, one the PA to the other, both struggling with their own personal issues and trying to do the best they can.

Morgan works as a PA for Lawrence King at the recycled paper company. At first, Morgan really dislikes Mr. King due to his awkward attempts at flirting which Morgan deems creepy (and which are inappropriate, for sure). It's always tricky, I suppose, to tell your boss that you're not receptive to his advances, because that could cost you your job, but it's also sexual harassment.

So initially, things aren't going so well between Morgan and Law(rence), until Morgan tells him what's what, and Law, to his credit, backs off, red-faced, realizing that his attempts at flirting aren't welcome.

But then Law's brother ends up in the hospital, and Morgan sees another side of his boss, and his opinion of the man slowly begins to change. Already impressed by the man's sincere apology for his unwitting creepiness, Morgan finds that he's starting to like the guy more and more, and doesn't quite know what to do with those feelings.

As does their relationship. This is by design sloooooooooow burn, and it needed to be. Law is dealing with his brother's illness, his ex-boyfriend's assholishness, a big merger at the company he works for, and his plate is pretty full. Morgan too has some struggles. His attempt at dating Harvey, a young man he meets at a beach cleanup activity, goes awry when Harvey makes a stupid racial comment, and Morgan, being mixed race, has no time for such a fool.

As Law and Morgan continue to accidentally be in the same place after working hours, the UST between them sizzles, but neither makes a move. Because reasons.

Like I said, sloooooow burn. I loved it. I loved the explosion and the fireworks when they finally got it on. I giggled at the awkward morning after. And how both Law and Morgan struggled to keep their hands off each other, even if they had agreed this would be a one-time thing.

Over the course of the book, Morgan goes from a somewhat insecure young man to developing a strong backbone, unwilling to compromise on his principles, even if it hurts him to do so.

Law too grows throughout the story, even if he required a push from his brother to finally stand up for what's right, and for what he wants.

The intrigue here deals primarily with the company they both work for, and includes embezzlement and fraud, which really drives the plot in the last third of this book.

I really appreciated the inclusion of a strong female character in this book, in Morgan's friend Anita with whom he shares an apartment and who's his sounding board. Their relationship was almost that of a brother and sister, and I really enjoyed the scenes where they were both on page together and bicker like siblings.

I even liked Law's brother Christian, who provided the push Law needed to do what he wanted to do. I intensely disliked Simon, the ex-boyfriend, who's just a narcissistic asshole and who didn't really add anything to the plot at all other than possibly give a little bit of background information to explain parts of Law's personality.

This being billed as a romance, there's a strong and hopeful HFN that really made me believe these two will make it long-term. I'd like to get a glimpse at their future and how they work through the obstacles still in their way at book's end.

This was a great read overall, and I enjoyed myself immensely, reading it in one day because I just didn't want to put it down. Well done!


** 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 2017-01-31 01:24
The Galloway Road by Catherine Adams
The Galloway Road - Catherine Adams

Renna is a young mage on her way to her first job. Her traveling companions include a pair of musicians specifically requested by Renna’s new employer, plus Brett, the mercenary hired to protect them all. Brett is closed mouthed about himself and his past, and Renna has secrets of her own. However, none of that may matter if they can't manage to survive the Galloway Road’s deadly horrors.

This story takes place over the course of 11 days and mostly features the group traveling from one inn to another. The beginning was boring, dull, and a little confusing, although the Galloway Road’s creepy atmosphere eventually grew on me, as did Renna and Brett (sort of). A word of warning: some of the descriptions are gruesome. The Galloway Road is called that because it's lined with gallows and gibbets. Sometimes the people Renna, Brett, and the musicians pass are dead, and sometimes they're not. Honestly, if I had been Renna or the musicians, Galloway Road alone would have had me questioning the wisdom of agreeing to work for Lord Galloway.

Okay, on to the characters. The musicians made so little of an impact on me that I had to check the story just to make sure I had the number of characters right - I had thought there were three musicians, not two. Brett was an intriguing character, apparently competent and yet prone to self-destructive behavior (he’d been banned from at least one or two inns because of his drinking). Renna...was just there. I never felt like I really knew her beyond the most surface level. I did gasp at the big revelation about her, but that was in large part because I hadn’t noticed any sign of it in her behavior or thoughts up to that point. This bugged me a bit, because the event had happened so recently. I suppose it could be explained away as emotional numbness on her part, but still.

The main reason I got this story was because it was one of Less Than Three Press’s recent releases in their “asexual” category. Renna was asexual, possibly homoromantic depending on the specifics of her feelings for her best friend. There was a hint of something that might have been ace-related angst - at one point, Renna wondered if she was “stone-hearted, cruel-hearted” (37). It was a bit ambiguous, though, and might have also been inspired by the thing that happened shortly before she was hired by Lord Galloway. I honestly don’t know.

I appreciated what this story tried to do, but overall my reaction was just “meh.” I didn’t care enough about the characters for the ending to have the kind of emotional impact that it should have had. Also, I hate to say this, but I laughed a bit during some of the events in the tomb. I know that stuff was probably supposed to be horrifying/scary, but I kept imagining B-movie special effects.

Rating Note:

I might have opted to give this 3 stars if I had rated and reviewed it right after finishing it. However, my thoughts have had time to settle, and I think 2 stars is more appropriate. There just wasn't enough there in terms of content, characters, or world-building.

(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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review 2016-06-20 01:53
The Cybernetic Tea Shop by Meredith Katz
The Cybernetic Tea Shop - Meredith Katz

Clara is a drifter whose ability to repair Raises, Robotic Artificially Intelligent Synthetic Entities (sentient robots with animal forms), means that she can find work nearly everywhere she goes. When Clara visits the Cybernetic Tea Shop on the advice of her newest boss, she's shocked to see that the owner is a 278-year-old android named Sal. It has long been illegal to create sapient androids, and Sal is one of the few remaining models built prior to the law being passed. Although her owner died a long time ago, Sal does her best to see out the woman's dream: keeping the Cybernetic Tea Shop open for 300 years.

This was a very gentle and quiet story, primarily focused on the characters' emotions. Clara had to deal with the pain of realizing that she was falling for someone whose way of life didn't mesh with hers – she couldn't rid herself of her desire to move to new places, and Sal was completely bound to the tea shop and her memories of her original owner. Meanwhile, the only thing keeping Sal going was the tea shop. At the same time, she suspected she couldn't keep it open for another 22 years. There weren't enough customers, vandalism from anti-android groups was a drain on her finances, and her body and software were beginning to fail her in ways that she couldn't afford to get fixed.

But don't worry, there was a happy ending! I'm still not sure how I feel about certain aspects of it – I can't say too much without including spoilers, but it felt a little unbalanced. Still, I'm glad that Clara and Sal got a happy ending. I enjoyed their deepening friendship and romance, and Sal was so lonely and alone that it was nice to read about her meeting someone who liked being around her and wanted to help her, no strings attached.

This was a wonderfully sweet story, but it wasn't perfect. The first scene, in which Clara decided to move to Seattle, was odd and did nothing more than establish her drifter nature and give readers a little of her history. If that scene had been removed and the important information incorporated into the rest of the text more, Clara and Sal could have met earlier. As it was, they met halfway through the story, and I was left wishing that Katz had spent a little more time demonstrating Sal's growing trust in Clara.

This was a little too short to be completely satisfying, the writing had a few clumsy moments, and the world-building was a little off (the decision to outlaw sapient androids was made because it was considered unethical to own them, but the anti-android groups didn't appear to be very concerned with the ethics of committing hate crimes against them). Still, I enjoyed it. I liked all the characters, Clara's hummingbird Raise was fun, and it's one of the few examples I've found of romance starring an asexual character (Clara) that isn't ham-handed about the character's asexuality.

 

Rating Note:

 

If I think about this one too hard, it seems more like a 3.5-star story. On a more emotional level, 4 stars feels right. I went with 4 stars.

 

(Original review, including read-alikes and watch-alikes, posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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text 2016-02-13 21:58
"Asexuality in fiction" news

"Archie Comic Reveals Jughead Is Asexual":

 

I have little-to-no interest in Archie Comics, and this doesn't really change that. Still, interesting news.

 

Less Than Three Press will soon have 21 works with asexual characters in its catalog:

 

I would be so much more excited about this if the one Less Than Three Press work I read (Wings of Destruction, the last one on the list) hadn't been overpriced and in desperate need of a complete overhaul. Still, 21 items means lots of choices, and I'm cautiously (very cautiously) optimistic about a couple of the sci-fi and fantasy ones.

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review 2015-12-26 22:34
Tasty proposition
Yes, Chef - Alex Cohen

Diego runs his kitchen and likes it.  He was already hurt by a man who was wrong for him.  Along comes his new pastry chef, who just happens to be the bosses nephew.  

 

Ben has his own past pain.  He wants a chance with Diego.  Diego cannot decide if the chance to take is worth it.  Will it be too late when he finally makes his decision known?

 

This was a quick and fun read.  Both men are hot and interesting.  What they cook up makes anyone happy to read.  I give this a 3/5 Kitty's Paws UP!

 

 

***This ARC copy was given by Netgalley.com and its publishers for review only.

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