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review 2018-10-31 01:17
ARC Review: The Academy by Quinn Anderson
The Academy - Quinn Anderson

This was a not so stereotypical college romance, and I enjoyed it quite a bit. It had some issues, on which I'll elaborate further down.

Nick arrives at The Academy for his senior year after having taken a year off due to the death of his father. Starting over a tiny Catholic college wasn't the plan, but here we are. Nick plans to focus on his studies, maybe making some friends, and then getting his diploma and go home. Still struggling with grief, and on a tight budget, Nick knows that he's dependent on the scholarship he got, and has no plans whatsoever for a college romance or any such nonsense. 

Sebastian is the college campus player. When he spots Nick, he makes a bet with his two oldest friends, Dante and Theo, on who can kiss the new guy first - with the provision that the new guy has to initiate the kiss. Sebastian is the proverbial spoiled rich kid. Or so it seems. 

Nick doesn't want to give Sebastian the time of day at first, but slowly the ice melts a bit. 

With the premise as it is, Nick and Sebastian don't spend a whole lot of time together on page to begin with, though that time becomes more and more as the plot progresses. As Sebastian develops real feelings for Nick, he's terrified of the bet coming out. The author attempted to show us that despite all the material things he has, Sebastian is still yearning for something money can't buy, something that he lost and cannot get back; his insecurities are hindering him, and causing him to covertly lash out and hurt others before they can hurt him.

There are some clever plot twists here as well, which I didn't see coming, so I was pleasantly surprised toward the end. 

What didn't work so much for me is that Sebastian and his friends often sounded and acted a lot younger than their actual presumed ages - they read a lot more like moody highschoolers (especially Sebastian seemed very much a jerk) than college juniors. The poor little rich boy trope is a little overused here also, and while Sebastian's background makes for a good explanation of his behavior, I didn't buy the rapidity with which he falls for Nick, especially considering the fact that Nick and Sebastian have no more than maybe 10 or 15 actual conversations with each other over the course of the book. I wasn't sold on there being an actual romantic relationship between them - it felt more like lust than love.

Dante and Theo, Sebastian's friends - those two had their own issue to work out, and they did, and while they're supposed to be side characters, they actually felt more real to me than the MCs, probably because we see them spent more time together on page than Sebastian and Nick.

The author does a fine job writing the steam, and while there are but two steamy scenes in this book, they were pretty damn hot, but also continued to lead me down the path of believing in their lust, not their love.

Probably not my favorite by this author, but a good effort, and an enjoyable read. 


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

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review 2018-10-31 01:14
Welcome to...the sex trade...
Hotline - Quinn Anderson,Nick J. Russo

Zack is a PSO (Phone Sex Operator) for Murmur Inc. It's not a permanent thing just a temporary stop to pay some bills until he gets himself back on track. But somehow he's been around longer than he'd planed he's fallen into a bit of a rut or at least he was until the day that 'John' calls. 

 

What starts out as a simple phone sex call...just another day on the job for Zack begins to evolve into something more as the calls continues and with each call...each new role play that the men begin, each one of them begins to slip bits of the real them into the story.

 

For Zack life is getting better...at least on the work front it is. Zack's landed a whale and he's finally good earning money and he's doing it talking to a man who seems to push all the right buttons for him. Needless to say for the first time since who knows when Zack doesn't find work to be a hardship.

 

John's educated, cultured, lead a life of privilege. In Zack's eyes he's everything that Zack's not or at least that's how he sounds and that's ok because it's just phone sex and they're never going to meet...or at least they're not suppose to but Destiny...she'd be Karma's sister and sometimes she's also a biotch...anyways, Destiny has other plans for Zack and John and when Zack finds himself face to face with John he does what any sane young PSO would do...he runs.

 

It's going to take more than a few phone calls for these two men to work things out. I have to say these two have a rather unusual path to follow if they're going to get things sorted out. Zack may make a living talking dirty and John may plan on becoming a lawyer but these two mean are going to need to learn how to have some pretty open and honest conversations if they're going to take things from the phone to the same room.

 

Surprisingly while the sex was good when it happened for me the phone sex was the smoking hot stuff and maybe that was because of the fact that these men didn't know each other and it was obvious from that start that they were going to so there was definitely a layer of anticipation involved that wasn't there when they finally met.

 

'Hotline' was definitely unique in the overall premise of the story. It's the first story that I've ever read where one of the MCs is a PSO.  'Hotline' was a light fun read, laced ironically a bit of miscommunication and a touch of humor...all of which combines to make an enjoyable little romance story.

 

Nick J. Russo was the narrator for this story and as always his narration made what would have probably only been a 3 star read for me into something just a little bit better. I could go on about this narrator and expand on all the reasons that I enjoy listening to audio books that Mr. Russo has narrated but I think the simplest thing I can say is in the world of audio book narrators Nick Russo is on my auto buy list. 

 

***********************

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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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