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review 2017-03-08 23:29
ARC Review: Dirty Games
Dirty Games - Barbara Elsborg Dirty Games - Barbara Elsborg

I'm a big fan of this author's paranormal romances. I haven't read much of her contemporary stuff, but I wanted to give Dirty Games a shot. This one sounded a bit angsty, which is fine with me and the blurb, while convoluted, still intrigued me enough to read the story.

The plot, though, was ... busy. That's about the only way I can describe it. There's so much going on and the characters criss-cross in some unbelievable ways that I nearly had to draw a map to keep up . Also, it involves revenge dating and blackmail, which I wasn't so sure about but thought I would try anyway, just to see. Well...

Linton is an architect. It's all he's ever wanted to be. He left London for three months to work at his company's New York office, to get away from a coworker he got involved with (Pascal). The relationship ended badly when Linton found out that his boyfriend had been cheating on him, with a woman. So, he swears off dating bisexuals and heads to New York to try to get a hold of himself.

When Linton gets back to London, he finds his younger brother has trashed his flat and has been turning tricks. Again. And after a couple days, his brother ends up in the hospital, after being beaten up and dosed with heroin, and he finally wants to get clean. Of course, Linton wants to put him in rehab, but he needs money to do that, and also to pay the debt that his brother owes to some very bad people.

Thorne is an actor. A bit arrogant and very much gorgeous and he has a tendency to get into trouble. He's bisexual, and his agent keeps trying to get him to "choose" to be gay or straight, even though he knows it doesn't work that way. Well, Thorne's last relationship ended spectacularly badly and he's feeling very burnt by it all. Trust doesn't come easy for him at the moment because he's been burned too much by people that were supposed to care about him.

And herein lies the plot. Linton's boss, Max, is the older brother of Thorne's ex, Owen. Owen is very unstable and went off the rails after Thorne, very publicly, dumped him. So, Max pays Linton to seduce Thorne and publicly humiliate him, and blackmails him to make sure that Linton complies.

O.M.G. If you think those last few paragraphs were exhausting, you should read the story. I didn't hate it, I didn't love it, but damn, was it a lot to keep up with.

Summary of things I liked about the story:

-- I liked Linton and Thorne. I liked their banter. I liked their chemistry. I liked their sexy-times. I liked that they really wanted to do right by their brothers.

-- I liked River (Thorne's brother)

-- I even came to like Dirk (Linton's brother), somewhat, once he stopped being a selfish twat.

And what I didn't like:

-- I didn't like that that Linton kept putting off telling Thorne about Max and Owen's plan and where Linton fit into it. So much bullshit could have been avoided by having that conversation and I spent way too long dreading what would happen when Thorne found out (and I wasn't much a fan of what did happen when Thorne found out).

-- I didn't like Max, Owen and Pascal. At all. Not a single redeeming anything with the lot of them.

-- As it turns out, I didn't care for the blackmail plot line or the petty revenge, either

Dirty Games isn't what I expected. Sometimes that works out, sometimes it doesn't. I'm still trying to work out which it is, in this particular case.

ARC of Dirty Games was generously provided by the author, via Signal Boost Promotions, in exchange for an honest review.

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review 2017-02-27 03:46
Review: Prince of Faith
Prince of Faith - Belinda McBride

Not a bad story, though I never felt the connection between Markus and Caius. They were both so wounded by the last several years, that I think they just needed more time to heal. I did still enjoy the story, even though it was not my favorite of the series.

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review 2017-02-26 02:16
Review: An Uncommon Whore and When I Fall
When I Fall - Belinda McBride

This review is for both books An Uncommon Whore and When I Fall. You really need to read them together, they do not stand well on their own.

Can you believe I have had both books on my Kindle for nearly 2 years? That seems to happen to me a lot, but I'm working on reading my fairly massive TBR. One thing that always made me pass up these books, even though the blurbs obviously appealed to me (or I wouldn't have bought the books) is I don't really find the covers appealing. Just personal preference. I had been told, by many people, however, that the story was good, so I finally decided to see for myself.

I did enjoy both books, I am happy to say. I can't help thinking, though, that the story would have been better served by having both books 1 & 2 in a single volume. I get -- I think -- why it was put out as 2 books (POV switch and the year time jump), but that could have been made to work. In An Uncommon Whore, there is little to no conflict or angst. All of that conflict and angst is in When I Fall. Though most of the angst came from Griffin's insecurities and jealousy, which I never really understood.

Still, I enjoyed Helios and Griffin and am glad they are secure with one another by the end of When I Fall. I do wish I had not waited so long to read these stories, but better late than never, right?

I'm off to read the third book now, which features two different MC's.

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review 2017-02-24 23:09
An Uncommon Whore - Belinda McBride

I reviewed books 1 & 2 together in my post for book 2.

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review 2017-02-15 23:49
The Boyfriend Makeover - River Jaymes

The Boyfriend Makeover is a book I've been looking forward to for a long time. Ever since reading The Backup Boyfriend, I've wanted Noah's story. And it was...not as good as I had hoped it would be. It was an alright story, don't get me wrong, but it was missing something...

Some things that did not work for me:
The first quarter, or so, of The Boyfriend Makeover was super slow, to the point of being a bit boring. It had trouble keeping my attention. I thought there was too much focus on traumatic past events. How many years has it been since Rick died? It's been a long time, but Noah still acted like it was a recent event. Now, I know there is no time limit for grief, and I'm not saying at all that Rick should be forgotten, I just thought it was over played.

Also, the author had a tendency to refer to one of the MC's as "the man" or "the guy", rather than using their name, way too often and it took me out of the narrative every single time.

"He threaded his fingers through the guy's hair." and "He gripped the man's elbows." and also, "Without so much as a warning, the man swallowed his cock deep."

To me, that's just awkward and impersonal. If they were from an anonymous hookup at a club or something, that would be one thing, but they're not. And all of those examples were from a single scene -- and I didn't quote all the examples from that scene, either.

But thankfully, there was enough I liked to keep me reading the story.

The sex, which there is plenty of, was steamy and full of emotion, even if Noah didn't want to be feeling it. It was a highlight of the book for me.

Noah is a pretty screwed up guy who needs therapy more than he needs that next one-night-stand. There is so much he simply has not dealt with and it's keeping him from finding happiness. He prides himself on being the life of the party and always being the happy, jokey guy, but all that is a front to hide just how miserable he really is. If he doesn't give himself time to slow down, he doesn't have to think about his past or what he might want from life. Avoidance, is Noah's MO. And Noah's favorite form of avoidance is sex. Talking about sex, having sex, innuendo....anything to keep his thoughts from turning inward.

Ky, I absolutely loved. He's self assured and knows what he wants, he's just not sure if he can have it. He spent two decades in the closet because of his homophobic asshole of a step-father, just because he didn't want to damage the relationship his sisters had with their dad. His sisters mean everything to him and he just didn't want to do anything that might cause them pain. Do I think that was a good decision? No, I don't, but I get why he thought it was the way to go. Now, thankfully, they're smart women and they figured him out long ago. They were just waiting for him to trust in them. Family -- sometimes it's a good thing.

I completely agreed with Ky's decision to break things off with with Noah until Noah faces himself and figures out what he really wants. To me, it was the only way they would even have a chance. I'm not sure I buy just how quickly Noah made his turn around, but on the other hand, perhaps he just needed a little push to do something he already wanted to do.

All in all, I'd give The Boyfriend Makeover three "not great, not terrible" stars.

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