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review 2017-10-09 01:12
ARC Review: Safe And Sound by Caitlin Ricci
Safe and Sound - Caitlin Ricci

Oh dear, I'm afraid this book didn't work for me at all. First of all, it was over before I knew it. Secondly, there was no real romance. Thirdly, the characters were flat, and in some cases, completely one-dimensional.

Mason is 21, but still lives with his mother and her boyfriend in his mother's house. He volunteers at an equine rescue, though only part time, and works part time as well, hoping to save up enough money to get his own apartment to get away from mom's boyfriend who is creepy and possibly a sexual predator.

Mason sounded like someone much younger and did not come across as someone who's 21. His mother didn't believe him when he told her of the sexual abuse perpetrated by his uncle when Mason was little, so he doesn't see any point in telling her about the unwanted advances her boyfriend has been making. Which - what? 

When he sees an ad for modeling, Mason thinks this might be an opportunity for him to earn the money he still needs, so he calls the number and agrees to go to someone's house. By bus, because he doesn't have a car either. Again - what? 

Oliver is a photographer and described as in his 30s and having an open relationship with his boyfriend/friend Chester, meaning they do stuff together and have sex with each other. Like a friends with benefits arrangement, though Chester also hangs with others and has sex with them too. Clearly, they're not a love match, and aren't looking for exclusivity. Fine with me - if it works for you. 

There was no relationship development; no steam except a few kisses which is fine; I'm not hung up on on-page sex, but there has to be some kind of connection between the MCs for me to believe the romance. And this just wasn't believable. 

I didn't connect with Mason, I didn't connect with Oliver, and I didn't connect with any of the supporting characters either. The big scene toward the end, where mom's boyfriend is being set up to reveal himself as the creep he is, ending with Mason coming clean to his mom, Mom meeting Oliver and Mason moving in with Oliver - again, WHAT????

And then it was over. I wouldn't even call this a HFN. I wouldn't call this a romance. I was confused for a moment, questioning whether this was a prequel to another book, but apparently that's not the case. As a standalone, this just didn't cut it for me. 

The writing isn't great either - it felt clinical and almost robotic to me. This was my 2nd book by this author, and the other one I read didn't work for me either, so I think this author just isn't for me. YMMV. 


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

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review 2017-10-08 22:46
ARC Review: The Shipwreck (Lavender Shores #4) by Rosalind Abel
The Shipwreck (Lavender Shores Book 4) - Rosalind Abel
"Oh What A Tangled Web We Weave When First We Practise To Deceive..."



Lamont Price, Andrew's older half-brother, is an author of M/F romances under a female pseudonym, attending his first romance book conference and about to come clean to his readers. He's nervous, understandably, not only because he's deceived his fans into thinking he's a woman named Ginger Peach, but also because he doesn't like the spotlight. As soon as he can, he runs from his fans to a bar outside of the conference hotel.

Lamont is an interesting character. In his mid-forties, he is plagued primarily by what he considers his failures (no boyfriend, no long-term relationship prospect, no books in his own name, no sex for years), and largely avoids getting together with his family, because they keep trying to set him up with someone he could add to the family. Lamont hasn't had sex in years because he doesn't do hook-ups and prefers to have sex within a relationship only. Not a bad attitude, of course, but obviously, that can lead to loneliness. And he is lonely. He sees all the happy couples in Lavender Shores and feels left out, like he's on the outside looking in.

While he's at the bar, hiding from his fans, he meets Tate Dallas, who's the prolific cover model for another romance author and whose real name is Tyler Dixon. 

Tyler/Tate is what may be considered a rentboy. He's not only a cover model, but can also be hired as an escort, including providing bedroom attention, and some other jobs within that industry. He does all his to fund his photography and showing his work in galleries, while waiting for his "big break". He makes no secret of having a lot of sex, but he omits telling Lamont outright that he gets paid for doing so. He also omits another major thing, one that... nah, you read this for yourself.

So Lamont, having the baby shower for Andrew and Joel's soon-to-be-born baby coming up, asks Tyler if he would consider posing as his boyfriend for a long weekend in Lavender Shores, no strings attached, and no hanky-panky included. Of course, Lamont thinking that Tyler is the most beautiful man he's ever seen definitely helps in overcoming a smidgen of his shyness to even propose this arrangement. But surely, someone as gorgeous as Tyler has no interest in someone as boring as Lamont.

Except Tyler is struck pretty much just the same, but doesn't feel that he has anything to offer the older and more successful man. And thus expects nothing except the part he's agreed to play. It's a one-time thing, and then they'll go their separate ways. 

But the best-laid plans and all that...

I quite liked the two main characters here, and the author did a darn good job exploring them in depth. It was clear that the Tate Dallas persona was a front, and that there is a real person hiding behind that pseudonym, a person who gets scared of what might be and a person who doesn't believe in love everlasting. Tyler is not ashamed of what he does to support himself, but he also keeps Tyler and Tate very separate. As Tyler, the fact that he's pretty straight-forward in what he says and does helped to draw Lamont out of his shell too.

It was also clear that Lamont, while shy and introverted, faltered more often than not under the pressure his parents put on him, whether it was intentional or not. Many people in town looked at him as if he was this fragile person and failed to realize that Lamont is in fact quite strong. His strength is in his convictions and his unwillingness to settle for anything but the real thing.

The two men have a strong connection from the start, and once Tyler gets to Lavender Shores for the baby shower weekend, they both struggle to stick with the original plan. I really liked that this was a slow burn romance for a good chunk of it, and that they had a chance to get to know each other a little bit before jumping into the sheets. 

I really liked the imagery of the Shipwreck that the author used here, and the many parallels that could be drawn from it. It was also quite lovely how the author used the actual shipwreck as a background for Lamont and Tyler to get closer and soon allows them to realize that neither of them is ready to say good-bye quite yet. 

Obviously, the omissions I mentioned at the beginning of my review play a huge role in the progression of their relationship and end up to be a chasm Lamont and Tyler cannot bridge once the truth comes out. 

Or can they?

This is a romance, after all, so you know that a HEA is guaranteed, and the author doesn't let the reader down. Still, both men need to first find themselves, find who they really are, and figure out that what they had, what they built, no matter how short their time together, may be worth fighting for. 

How they find their way back to each other - well, you read this yourself. There's some angst, some self-discovery, and there's a fabulous epilogue that you don't want to miss.

And plenty of holy hot boysecks, Batman, to boot!!

Recommended.


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

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review 2017-10-03 23:31
ARC Review: Deeds & Confetti (Mary's Boys #4) by Brandon Witt
Deeds & Confetti (Mary's Boys Book 4) - Brandon Witt

This is the final book in the Mary's Boys series, and it rounded out the series quite nicely. 

Steven Conley, in his 40s, is the owner of the Hamburger Mary's restaurant where three couples so far have found love, but he's been mostly in the background, having created a safe place for lost souls and built a strong chosen family for his employees and friends. Before purchasing the Mary's franchise, Steven had a successful corporate career, but left it, much to his father's dismay. When we first meet Steven in this book, he's in the hospital at his father's deathbed, with his sister Pat. Cruel words from his father send Steven reeling and questioning the choices he's made.

Ryan Fuller is 27 and also made choices, leaving behind success as a painter to own a small party planning business, while working part-time at a funeral home to make a bit of extra income. His relationship with his family is strained as his parents don't understand why he would choose to leave wealth and success behind. 

The two meet at the funeral home after Steven's father dies. Yeah, I know that sounds weird and sort of eww, but hear me out - first you have to understand the headspace Steven is in at the time. For which you need to read this book, obviously. Secondly, you need to know that Ryan knows Steven even before they meet at the mortuary. 

Grief makes one do seemingly strange things. So does desire.

For most of the book, Steven grapples with the choices he's made. He's adrift and doesn't know which way to move forward. He also thinks that Ryan, being so much younger, doesn't really see the real him, but some ideal he's built up in his mind, and thus Ryan's feelings cannot be trusted.

This is a heavy story, and not one you can read quickly. There's a ton of emotional upheaval inside, and it would behoove the reader to proceed carefully through each chapter so as not to miss the poignant writing within. 

I'm partly sad that this is the last book, and partly happy with how the author has chosen to end this series. It's not that everything is wrapped up in neat little bows, and the way to Steven and Ryan's HEA is tumultuous and winded, but it ends on a really positive note, with all our previous couples still going strong, and Steven and Ryan embarking on their forever journey. 

It's a really good book. And while it could theoretically be read as a standalone, you don't want to miss the books that came before it. Read the whole series - it's worth your time.


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

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review 2017-10-01 21:41
The Shipwreck
The Shipwreck - Rosalind Abel

Well, I have to say I was rather blown away by this one.  Now I will confess, I first saw the posting for this ARC in Brandon Witt’s group and was so excited to see a new Witt that I immediately went to obtain my copy.  Well…it took actually getting the file for me to realize that this was actually a Rosalind Abel book and not a Brandon Witt.  Yeah yeah…I know they are the same person but…I will get back to that later.  Nowhere in the FB post or in the ARC Instafeebie posting did it tell me this and clearly if I had read the other books I would probably have known this.  But I had not.  So it wasn’t a new Witt after all.  *tears up* But I was committed and I needed up uphold my end of the agreement.  So I proceeded.  And…

 

I absolutely loved this.

 

I commented only a week ago how very few “boyfriend for hires” I have read and how much I had wanted one...so clearly someone was looking out for me.  This was the perfect “boyfriend for hire” book.  And while I expected fluffy romance based on the cover and author, I was greeted with some absolutely beautifully written scenes.  From the scene at the cliff to the shipwreck to the photography aspects to some of the most amazing and quite intimate sex scenes I have read in a while.  The characters had so much depth and were developed just beautifully with their backgrounds unfolding in a way that had me tearing up many times.  And how these characters become so open so quickly with each other is another level of brilliance.  I mean I think we all can more easily open up to someone you don’t really know, or have no expectation of trying to impress. In these situations you are just more free to be yourself.  And this was captured quite well.

 

As with other books by this author, the family dynamics were also so perfectly portrayed and I found myself chuckling out loud many times.  Now as for Lavender Shores, the quaint gay loving community that acts as the backdrop for this series, it actually worked for me.  Now could I read numerous books set in this, I am honestly not sure.  But I think if I was going to have one land in my lap, this was the perfect one for me.

 

Even more than losing you, that’s what I hate the most. That I hurt you. I’ve never met another man like you. Never met one who I’ve admired as much as you. Nor one who seems to be incapable of seeing how truly wonderful he is. If there’s any reason I should feel shame, it’s that. I added to your inability to see your worth. And I do. That is my shame. And you are my loss.

 

Gaaahhh…I mean this was beautiful.  And don’t even get me started on the jar of snow. *cries*

 

Now, as I mentioned above, I have not read any of the Abel books.  And like with several others I know, the whole Abel/Witt author name change just honestly turned me off.  I am a huge fan of Brandon Witt’s work.  He has written several of my all time favorite books and when I pick one up I know I am in for an emotional journey into the love between two men.  Authors write different types of books all the time.  They may go from comedy to romance to paranormal to horror, lots of sex to minimal sex.  Honestly it matters not to me, as there are some authors that become an auto buy for me.  The name change here felt like catering to a reader group or a type of romance that wasn’t something I wanted or liked.  I personally love reading MM Romance written by a gay man.  Not to say that a woman can’t do it and do very well, but there is something about having an author who is actually a gay man that I like.  So to see someone who I see as a well established author in the MM genre change direction to utilize a woman’s name just bothered me.  So yeah, I had no desire really to read these.

 

Imagine my continued surprise when I found out that the main MC in this book is a male author of MF romance who goes by a female name.  Sorry, but I eyerolled at the name…I mean "Ginger Peach".  Seriously?  Do women really pay more attention to a book with a name like this than one with a man’s name? I mean is Nicholas Sparks a woman?  No. I just don’t understand this aspect (both from a character perspective and from an author perspective) and honestly this was really my only issue with the book.  

 

For me I just found myself rather sad not to have Brandon Witt’s name on the cover.  To not have the cover image be that described as part of the story. The “authenticity of the author” is something that as male or female I respect and I was extremely happy to ultimately see Lamont embrace this aspect in the book, especially in regards to him finally writing a MM Romance.

 

And I know I will likely be in the minority on my feelings regarding this but oh well…it would not be the first time.  And as an author has every right to do what they chose with their books, I don’t necessarily need to agree.

 

The bottom line is that this book was absolutely lovely and I fell in love with the characters, the story and the writing.  So if you are wanting a beautiful MM Romance then this certainly fits the bill and does so with the “Witt” I have grown to love.

 

*Highly Recommended* as part of the series or as a Standalone (as I read it).

 

**Note: An ARC was obtained in exchange for an honest review.

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review 2017-09-18 20:13
Review: Be My Best Man by Con Riley
Be My Best Man - Con Riley

 

Gosh, this was different.

During the book I couldn't make my mind up if I liked this or not. But I was so in love with Vanya. He was such a broken character. Broken may not be the correct word because he was also so hopeful. Being litterly thrown out of his own country, Russia he awaits his asylum to legally stay in Brittain. Meanwhile he tries to stay safe and scrapes by with the money he receives from the government. He is not allowed to make money of his own so he's forced to live in cheap hostels.

Vanya

 

 

Life is bad. He's working hard to improve his English. He has not a lot to do otherwise during day so he often visits his frend Kasper at his working place. It's there where he meets Jason and gets mistaken for a personal shopper. Jason is 20 years his senior but needs help at the shopping department because he needs to make amends with his brother. He has to make a perfect impression to his brother's financé, Chantelle who he still has to meet.

I really loved Vanya. I loved his way of speech. His character really makes us realise how comfortable we are having a roof over our heads, food to fill our stomachs. Just being unsafe all the time like Vanya felt was horrific. Really makes you think.....

Vanya and Jason's romance is not the usual romance we read about. Both have trust issues and of course you know Vanya's secret will come out to Jason and you worry what effect Vanya's white lies will have for their relationship.

But it's all worth it. This book will keep you thinking and feel very fortunate and that's always good IMO.

 

 

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