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review 2018-10-01 01:22
ARC Review: Hard Truths by Alex Whitehall
Hard Truths - Alex Whitehall

On one hand, this book was less superficial than I expected, considering the blurb. I love the fake boyfriend trope, and I was looking forward to a fun book. While there was lots of humor, the depth within surprised me.

On the other hand, I would have liked to repeatedly smack Isaac over the head, not only for continuing to hide Logan being his boyfriend, but also for not realizing that family isn't always determined by blood, especially when your parents are homophobic racist jerks. 

I think what bothered me the most is that Isaac often sounded much younger than I was told he is, especially when he's around his parents, and that he was too blind to realize that he was hurting Logan, and his friends, with his ridiculous stance. While I could understand his fears, those fears blinded him to what he already has, and he only saw what he stood to lose. He lives a couple of hours away from his parents, and he's out to everyone in his life, except for them. But every time he goes home, it is very clear that not only does he not like his parents, especially his father, but he also mocks and ridicules them. And thus I couldn't for the life of me understand what was stopping him from telling them to shove it and tell them who he truly is. 

The romance is definitely whirlwind, much like the blurb promises, and there is hot sex and cheesy puns, and I believed that both Isaac and Logan had feelings for each other. They have a lot in common, and the growth in their relationship felt realistic to me given the timeframe of this book. 

I guess Isaac still needed to grow up. And I guess he does by book's end; he just leaves a whole lot of hurt in his wake that could have been avoided, had he been more emotionally mature. 

The entire book is written from Isaac's POV, so we don't get a whole lot of true insights to Logan, and Isaac's friends, since his view is somewhat skewered and distorted though his lens. The humor was fun (not cheesy, really), and outside of Isaac's behavior with his parents, I did like him as a person. He's kind and considerate to others - just emotionally stunted. Which is likely a result of his upbringing, but I didn't see the same in his sister, and she grew up in the same emotionally stunted home. 

I liked the writing style, and I'm definitely going to check out more books by this author. 


** I received a free copy of this book from its publisher in exchange for an honest review. **

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review 2018-09-30 05:41
Hardest
Hard Truths - Alex Whitehall

Isaac meets Logan at Christmas, as his sister's boyfriend.  Talk about your forbidden choices.  He will just have to put what he wants aside.  He does not believe he is worthy of a great relationship.

 

Logan has no problem telling Isaac he wants him.  He is only doing a friend a favor.  Their attraction is obvious to anyone who looks at them together.  

 

The characters had an obvious connection.  The sparks definitely fly around them being together.  Very realistic, with a slower pace than I expected.  I give this a 3/5 Kitty's Paws UP!

 

 

***This ARC copy was given in exchange for an honest review only, by Netgalley and its publishers.

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review 2018-09-04 02:08
ARC Review: Love At First Hate by JL Merrow
Love At First Hate - JL Merrow

While this is the 11th book in the loosely connected Porthkennack series, it's book 3 for the Roscarrocks; this one being about Branok (Bran) who was a real git in the first two books, and whom I'd basically written off as a jerk not worth my time.

Boy, was I wrong.

It could theoretically also be read as a standalone, though the characters from the previous two books make an appearance, and it would probably be best to read both of them before reading this one, to fully grasp the layers of Bran's misunderstood character. 

Bran was a real a-hole to his nephew Devan (from book 1) when he came to Porthkennack to search for his birth mother, though it's not clear why until this book. 

Bran showed some contempt for his little brother Jory (from book 2), and again, the reasons aren't clear until this book.

Living with a huge burden on his shoulders, his late father's voice in his ear, Bran has locked himself into the closet all his life, never feeling free to be who he really is. His twin sister Bea (Devan's mother) and he have spent most their adult life on their family estate, setting themselves apart from the general populace as what would 500 years ago be similar to feudal overlords. 

And Bran has for many, many years kept a massive secret from his sister and brother. 

Sam Ferreira is an old friend of Jory, whom he met while at university. Trusting someone he thought he could trust turned out to be detrimental for Sam's academic career, and, in some debt from gambling, he's now in dire need of a new job. When Jory comes to him about helping with an exhibit Bran is funding, about The Black Prince, Sam jumps at the chance to prove himself and says yes.

And thus Bran and Sam meet. The romance between them is slow burn by design - and when I say slow, I mean slooooooooow. There's a lot of UST and longing, but we're more than halfway in before they first kiss. To be honest, the slow burn was necessary - both men have baggage, and it takes some time for Bran and Sam to trust the other. 

The romance is quiet, almost taking a backseat to the rest of the plot, which is basically an exploration, a study of Bran's character. The man, outwardly sensible and hard and difficult to read, is in reality vulnerable, insecure, and scared. He hides his true self. He's taken on the responsibility of carrying the family legacy. He's jealous, he's demanding, and he barks at others. But he puts family above all else, he's generous, and he desperately wants to be loved. Even if he's loathe to admit that to anyone, including himself.

I'm not one who needs a lot of on-page sex, and this book doesn't have a lot of it, which suited me fine. What passion there is felt genuine. We leave Bran and Sam with a HFN, but one that I can absolutely see turn into a HEA, possibly in a future book in which we get to revisit these characters.


** I received a free copy of this book from its publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. **

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review 2018-07-28 13:36
Kismet
The Academy - Quinn Anderson

Nick moves to a new town to attend college with a gull ride scholarship.  Sebastian hits on him right away.  The mutual attraction sets off sparks right away.

 

Sebastian is used to getting what he wants.  What he wants now is Nick.  Nick, however, is a serious student who wants to do well and not let anything get in his way.

 

This book was a serious slow burn, and was almost too slow.  I liked the characters interaction itself but wish the pace had been a little bit faster.  I loved the ending and was thrilled this author once again gave me an HEA.  I give this a 3/5 Kitty's Paws UP!

 

 

***This ARC copy was given in exchange for an honest review only, by Netgalley and its publishers.

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review 2018-07-04 03:08
ARC Review: Inside Darkness by Hudson Lin
Inside Darkness - Hudson Lin

There were some really good themes in this book, and there were some things that weren't so good.

Let's talk about the good stuff first.

The author does a fine job exploring the impact and effects of PTSD that Cameron experiences, and how it shapes his interactions with the world around him, even when (and perhaps especially when) the traumatic events leading to the PTSD have passed. The darkness to which Cameron escapes is a place of safety to which he retreats when he's under extreme pressure or fear. An international aid worker for many years, Cameron has seen more than his fair share of human suffering, violence, and death, and there's not much left of the idealistic, out and proud gay man he was 10 years or so ago, the one who wanted to help others and jumped into aid work with both feet. Being gay is a crime in many African countries still, and Cameron knows only too well what might happen to someone who's found out to be gay. He has hidden that part of himself behind a cynical and gruff exterior because it's safer that way. 

Tyler is very much an opposite to Cameron. Somewhat self-centered and career oriented, he struggles with his ethnicity (born in America of Chinese heritage) and having clawed his way to success out of growing up in foster care. He's extremely sensitive to perceived slights, and he's unhappy at his job because he feels that he's being marginalized for his race and heritage, and not given any real assignments other than covering the happenings in Chinatown. At first, I didn't like Tyler very much. He was angry, perhaps understandably so, but also standoffish. He grew on me, especially as the author peeled back the layers of his personality, and Tyler became Cam's main support system.

While sex happens early, intimacy and romance does not, and the slow burn inside needed to be, since Cameron's PTSD makes for a difficult companion, and Tyler doesn't initially know how to help the other man, helplessly watching Cam sink deeper and deeper into the darkness. 

Love, as it happens between them, happens slowly, almost as a side product of their struggles to overcome the obstacles in their respective lives. 

It is only when they are separated again, by choice to some extent, that both men realize how much they need the other, just when it's nearly too late. The darkness threatens to swallow Cameron whole, and there's no Tyler to pull him back when he needs it the most. The climax of this book did have me at the edge of my seat, even if the ending felt a bit rushed.

Now for the not so good. This was my first book by this author, and the writing style didn't really work for me. It was oftentimes more tell than show, which is a shame, really, because the story itself was well done. But show me what makes your characters tick - don't tell me. 

There was also some slut-shaming inside, which I thought a bit odd, and while I don't know much about UN Aid workers and how things are run there, I was left to wonder if someone diagnosed with severe PTSD, under the supervision of a therapist, would then be sent back to another hellhole with the expectation of performing the job as if the PTSD didn't exist. 

This is a heavy, angsty read, and not the kind of book you take with you for a sunny day on the beach. There's a lot of darkness inside, and both Cameron and Tyler have to fight their way into the light. 

Overall, I enjoyed reading this book. If you like romances that are slow to develop, with a lot of angst, this might be a book for you.


** 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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