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review 2017-07-24 03:04
ARC Review: The Garden (Lavender Shores #2) by Rosalind Abel
The Garden - Rosalind Abel

I may have asked the author for an early copy. Possibly.

Oh, who am I kidding - I shamelessly begged as soon as I saw CrabbyPatty reading it. 

And I would beg again, if given the choice, because this book was fabulous. Gorgeous. Rapturous. Captivating. Brilliant. If my 15 status updates didn't convince you to pick up a copy of this as soon as you can, hopefully my review will.

Where book 1 was a mostly easy love story between Andrew and Joel, book 2 isn't like that at all. In this 2nd book, the author created a much more emotional and pain-filled plot, giving both of the MCs past hurts and some big issues they must overcome.

Gilbert Bryant (Andrew's cousin who sold him the cabin), a member of one of the founding families of Lavender Shores, has escaped his hometown as soon as he could. He designs one of a kind jewelry for the rich and famous, and he's perfectly happy in his cabin above Lake Tahoe, having no illusions that he'll ever be as happy as his cousin. Not that he thinks he deserves to be. Except he's having to go back for family get-togethers every so often, one of which is Andrew and Joel's engagement party.

Walden Thompson has recently moved to Lavender Shores, a place he visited once as a kid and dreamed of making his home ever since. He's a teacher and running from a past he's not proud of. It's clear early on that Walden keeps mostly to himself, and also doesn't have any aspirations of finding someone to love. 

The two meet at the gym, where Gilbert is on a treadmill behind Walden on a Stairmaster. Lusting for the well-formed ass in front of him, Gilbert thinks Walden is a tourist. Attraction is immediate, and after some steamy times in the steam room, they spend a hot night together. Their specific kinks line up pretty well, and that first bedroom scene was .... uh, well... let's call it rough and rowdy. I don't think I've ever read a scene like that in an M/M romance novel... not even in one that I knew would be kinky. 

I might have fanned myself.

Moving on.

Then Gilbert and Walden meet again at the engagement party, and Gilbert finds out Walden is a teacher. Immediate recoil by Gilbert makes things a bit awkward for Walden. I was scratching my head as to why that would be an issue for Gilbert, since no reason is given at that time.

Still licking his wounds, Walden ends up in a resort kind of place on a short vacation near Lake Tahoe, unaware that Gilbert lives in the area. While being propositioned by a Gilbert-lookalike, the real deal shows up, and the attraction still burns brightly. Also, Gilbert might be a little jealous. Possibly. Even if he tells himself that he shouldn't be, because he's no good for Walden.

And Walden fears being hurt again, and possibly falling down that rabbit hole of pain and shame once more if he lets himself get close to Gilbert. Sex is easy (and super hawt) - feelings are not welcome here. 

I really liked that the author didn't make things easy for them. There's a lot of angst here, and both men have pasts that still haunt them. No, I'm not going to tell you what those pasts are, but let it suffice that they both struggle, in their own ways. They're both still hurting, and while they don't immediately share their deepest and darkest secrets, they are both honest about being troubled, and how those troubles are impacting their views and actions. 

Of course, true love will not be thwarted, no matter how hard they both fight it. This is a romance, after all. 

What I really loved is how Gilbert and Walden help each other come to terms with their pasts. Even as Gilbert believes he doesn't deserve Walden, believes the things hateful people have told him in the past, even as he confesses his fears, his depression, his attempts at ending things when the pain got too much, all of his darkness, it is clear that Walden doesn't judge Gilbert for his past. And when Walden comes clean about his own past, he realizes that Gilbert isn't judging him either. 

The author created two complex, flawed, and yet strong characters, with histories that still shape their actions, but also allowed them to grow, to realize things, and to forge a new path - together. Their story isn't without pitfalls, and for some time, it's two steps forward, one step back, but as the plot progresses, their relationship goes from hot animalistic sexy times to real intimacy. Their fears don't disappear overnight, there's no magical healing here, but they face their fears, they move forward, they learn, they grow. 

This is hurt/comfort/healing at its finest, and I didn't want to put this book down until I had finished their story, only stopping for such pesky reasons as work and sleep. Absolutely heartbreaking and heartwarming at the same time. A fantastic supporting cast rounded out this novel, with many of the characters making repeat appearances in this book and its predecessor. 

While this book could easily be read as a standalone, I would personally recommend you read the first one too, because a lot of the history of the town, as well as the intermingled family history, is explained in that first one.

 

What I also want to mention are the titles. The Palisade and The Garden are both places that are important to the stories and to the characters. I thought that this was rather clever on the author's part, since both places play a huge role in the plot lines of their respective stories. I imagine that a veranda will be prominent in the third book, which is Donovan's story.

That's next. I'll be begging for a copy, for sure. 

This is one series you do not want to miss. Read it!


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

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review 2017-07-19 01:12
ARC Review: Satin by KC Wells
Satin (A Material World Book 2) - K.C. Wells,Meredith Russell

The 2nd in this fabulous series, Satin can be read as a standalone. 

Joel Hunter is a DC (Detective Constable) on a surveillance job with his partner Trish, in a bar/lounge, hoping that the owner comes by so he can be arrested.

The stakeout is going fine, but then Joel is rather distracted when Satin takes the stage - a beautiful singer whose sultry voice nearly puts Joel under a spell. 

Shortly thereafter, with the bar owner locked up and the stakeout over, but unable to get Satin out of his mind, the smitten DC goes back to the bar to listen to Satin again. 

And Satin makes her move.

Except, Satin is really Ross Dauntry, a female impersonator and aspiring ballet dancer. Joel gets over his shock pretty quickly and agrees to meet Ross for coffee, as friends. Joel has until now identified as straight, and any previous attraction to a man has never been acted upon. He is confused at the attraction but also doesn't feel any shame or massive angst. He is willing to explore this thing with Ross, even if they only end up as friends.

Obviously, Joel isn't as straight as he thinks he is. Things get steamy pretty quick, and there's very little angst in this book, other than Ross wondering if Joel is attracted to him or to Satin, and Joel taking a bit of time to make peace with his attraction to Ross. The sexy times are not only steamy but seriously sensuous, and I contemplated taking a cold shower after each scene. There's one in the ballet studio where Ross trains... holy hot boysecks, Batman!

Of course, there's a bit of a conflict there too, and Ross' roommate didn't do him any favors with her interrogation of Joel, but I understood where she was coming from. Joel struggles with how to be in a relationship and his feelings for Ross, while Ross falls quickly but also realizes that he might set himself up for heartbreak. 

Trish was a great character - supportive and not afraid to call Joel on his bullshit when he needed it.

There's a scene towards the end - gah! Nope, not gonna tell you what happens. You should read this for yourself and experience the same kind of swooning I did. 

KC Wells' personal brand of magic shines through in every word in this book. This was fabulous, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. I'm pretty damn sure you will too.

Recommended.


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

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review 2017-07-12 19:37
Fast Pace
Rock Hard Baby Daddy: A Billionaire Cowb... Rock Hard Baby Daddy: A Billionaire Cowboy Romance - Rye Hart

Instalove usually has me rolling my eyes, but this one was a little different. Bella holds back more than Reed while she's trying to determine what she's feeling. I think the story would've benefitted from a bit more development, but overall, it does have a good pace and kept me turning pages.

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review 2017-07-09 06:59
good story and characters
Beautiful Mess (Rock ‘n’ Ink Book 2) - K... Beautiful Mess (Rock ‘n’ Ink Book 2) - Kasey Lane

Jami was at the tattoo shop named Tatuggio. Jamie is a corporate law  lawyer. Jamie felt her brother Mason had lost his mind. He quit his job as CEO  of the biggest entertainment market company on the  West Coast. Jamie was chasing after Mason. Jamie would do would do anything for her mom and dad that is why she is there to talk to Mason now. Jami pretty much let her parents  run her life.Jami was now a control freak who lacks self confidence and self esteem from her parents constant emotional attacks on her.  Mason and Jami are very close brother and sister and deeply care for each other. Jami did really love one aspect of her life she volunteered at domestic violence shelter and that makes her happy. Jami and pushed her real passion deep inside herself. Mason had gone crazy for Kevan who was from across the tracks.  Jami liked Kevan and understood why his brother fell for her.  When Jami went into the tattoo shop the song playing her mind went back to the past. Then Jami heard a voice she instantly  recognized but hadn’t heard in five years.. Her body immediately responded to that voice. It was Jackson and he had been her college fling. Jackson and Jami had met when they were both in law school. Jami and Jax dated for about a month. Then Jax left Jami without a word and broke Jami’s heart. Jax had walked away from Jami because the both knew they didn’t fit and and her parents confronted Jax and made it clear they knew Jackson and Jami didn’t fit. Jackson let his fear rule him and he walked away. Then Jamie heard her brother Mason’s voice and he called her over to him he was getting a tattoo on his back and Jackson/Jax was doing it. Jackson now went by the name Jax. There was an electric connection the minute Jax and Jami’s eyes met. Jami did know Jax was a gifted artist. Jax also was a drummer in a band called band called Manix Curse.This was an up and coming band. Jax had come from a family with money and his parents expected him to become a lawyer and aid their political aspirations . Jackson quit law school and instead went after his passion music and art. The next time Jami see Jax it is as her brother's engagement party as Jax is his good friend. Jax and Jami end up in a guest bedroom. Jax decides he wants Jami back He is relentless. Jax’s band needed a lawyer for their upcoming tour in the spring and then another the following summer but also recording negotiations. Mason becomes Jax’s band P R manager hires Jami to be the band’s lawyer. Jami finally decides to give Jax another chance .This time Jax was all in and wasn’t afraid to let everyone know he loved Jami. Even though Jami tried to push Jax away as she wasn't going to let him break her heart again but once Jax committed to Jami again he didn’t leave her just was there for her anyway he could be.

. I really liked this story. It kept my attention from the  beginning to end. I loved that Jax was strong enough to go against his parents for his passion that makes him happy. I wasn’t very happy when he left Jami and broke her heart but he did everything he could to make it up to Jami and I grew to love him. I know how much pressure parents can put on a boyfriend/ girlfriend. I’ll take Jax for my book boyfriend. I am glad Mason broke away also. I also love how Jami eventually becomes happy and trust Jax and has a good relationship with him. I also loved how after Jax decided he wanted Jami back he went all out and refused to leave her or let him drive him away and he didn’t care who knew he loved her. I love the characters and the ins and outs of this story and I recommend.

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text 2017-07-01 19:32
July 2017 Reading List
Rock Courtship - Nalini Singh
The Rake's Redemption - Regina Scott
Licensed for Trouble - Susan May Warren
A Dance with Danger (Rebels and Lovers) - Jeannie Lin
[(Butterfly Swords)] [By (author) Jeannie Lin] published on (October, 2010) - Jeannie Lin
The Doctor's Undoing (Love Inspired Historical) - Allie Pleiter
The Bootlegger's Daughter (Daughters of the Roaring Twenties) - Lauri Robinson
The Soldier's Dark Secret - Marguerite Kaye

COYER continues and I'm doing the 24in48 read-a-thon this month. RB Bingo squares being filled by COYER books and library finds. Pop Sugar is on hold until the autumn, when I can give it the attention it deserves. COYER read-a-thon this month is physical books only, so I have some COYER reading list books on reserve for that.

 

 

1. Rock Courtship: A Rock Kiss Novella by Nalini Singh (COYER) (RB Bingo) (Library Love Challenge)- reading this one for the "heroine is taller than the hero" square. Not really feeling Singh's writing TBH, but it is only a novella and I have read much worse in the rock star niche.

 

2. The Rake's Redemption by Regina Scott (COYER) (RB Bingo) (Library Love Challenge) - reading this one for the "rake/rogue in the title" square....funny, read a lot of rakes/rogues in my historical reading, yet very few have those words in the title.

 

3. Licensed for Trouble (PJ Sugar #3) by Susan May Warren (COYER) (Library Love Challenge) - whenever the person who currently has it borrowed from OverDrive returns it, I am next in line for it. This is the last book in the series. Hurry up fellow library patron!!!

 

4. A Dance with Danger by Jeannie Lin (COYER) (possible RB Bingo) - time to work on completing the Tang Dynasty series. I have four books left to read.

 

5. Butterfly Swords by Jeannie Lin (COYER) (possible RB Bingo) - another Tang Dynasty book.

 

6. The Doctor's Undoing by Allie Pleiter (COYER) (possible RB Bingo) - sequel to Homefront Hero, which I loved. I'm so glad I picked up Ida's story as well during the sale. WWI era romance set in South Carolina.

 

7. The Bootlegger's Daughter by Lauri Robinson (COYER) (possible RB Bingo)

 - not a war time romance HUZZAH! Love in the time of speakeasies!

 

8. The Soldier's Dark Secrets by Marguerite Kaye (COYER) (possible RB Bingo) - back to Regency and the war with Napoleon. But I love the author's writing, so it should be a stand out.

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