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review 2017-08-12 16:50
The Alpha and His Ace (The Alpha and His Ace #1) by Ana J. Phoenix Review
The Alpha and His Ace - Ana J. Phoenix

Young, handsome, and the alpha of his wolf pack, Brandon has never had trouble finding men to have sex with. Only one thing is missing--his mate. Brandon can’t find him, and the rest of his pack is growing concerned about his lack of partner. An alpha needs a strong partner.

Things seem to be looking up when he finally finds his fated companion in Aidan. One problem—Aidan’s asexual, and Brandon’s now confused. Who doesn’t want sex? Aidan, that’s who. And Brandon hasn’t got a clue how to make someone love him without it.

It's going to take some serious self-examination, acceptance, and some really good cake for Brandon to make his way into Aidan’s heart.




A pretty bland wolf shifter romance made more interesting by the fated mate being asexual.


The world building needed much more detail but the characters and character driven conflict was intersting. Needed more time.

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review 2015-12-06 07:06
readable yet profound & insightful
Nothing Casual - Ana J. Phoenix

*Disclaimer: a free copy of the book was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review

"Man loves company even if it is only that of a small burning candle." - Georg Christoph Lichtenberg

Kenta Kuroki's bitterness over his boyfriend Shota's betrayal drives him to isolate himself from the world. as a result, he joins the ranks of the hikikomori. his self-imposed exile is disrupted by a broken internet connection, forcing Kenta to allow a technician into his home to fix the problem. little did Kenta know that his life would take another unexpected turn as his attraction for Sato Akira grows.

from the get go, this novel piqued my curiosity  as i have never heard of the "hikikomori" before and reading this piece of fiction based on a real "human condition" that is prevalent in Japan opened my eyes to another one of life's bitter and disturbing realities.

as a whole, the novel is very readable yet filled with profound details and insightful information here and there. both protagonists are opposites in every way and their interaction and reactions to one another were a delight to read especially when things get serious at some point and secrets are further revealed.

Kenta's mode of existence is extreme and quite difficult to wrap one's head into but one can somehow relate to his insecurities, fears and struggles. Akira's personality, on the other hand, is the perfect yang (positive, bright) to Kenta's yin (negative, dark). together, they make for a strange pair that works out well in more ways than one as the story progresses.

author Ana J. Phoenix has written one unforgettable, engaging, sweet and romantic tale set in Japan that draws the reader in and never lets go even after the last page is read. 

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review 2015-11-18 00:00
Nothing Casual
Nothing Casual - Ana J. Phoenix A copy was given to me in exchange for an honest review.

As the blurb describes, Kenta becomes a shut-in after he experiences a bad relationship with his now ex-boyfriend. We come across him as he's freaking out about having to call his provider about his internet connection. In comes Sato Akira, the technician sent to his home to help fix his connection issues. After coming across some homoerotic art on Kenta's laptop, the two start very tentative relationship.

It was interesting to see this type of issue in a fictional novel. I've only read about it in manga but I liked that the author decided to take her own approach at the issue and it translated so well.

From the blurb I thought the relationship between Sato and Kenta would be much more dire than it was. Kenta wasn't as against them starting a relationship as I interpreted from the blurb and niether was Sato about giving Kenta a try. I really liked that Sato was so tenacious about changing Kento's thoughts/views on dating. It made me smile when they argue/bantered back and forth about it.

I really liked that Sato never actually gave up on the hope that Kenta would give him a chance. His determination was admirable. I've said this before on other reviews but I really love seeing personal growth and Kenta showed a lot of that in trying to overcome his disability/ aversion to social interactions. The last two chapters were my favorite and it was just hard not to like both characters.
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review 2015-07-14 07:37
The Alpha and His Ace by Ana J. Phoenix
The Alpha and His Ace - Ana J. Phoenix

Brandon is the alpha of his werewolf pack, but lately he's had trouble holding onto their respect. Everyone knows a good leader needs a mate by his side (don't look at me, I'm just writing what the story said), and Brandon still hasn't managed to find his. Since going to gay bars doesn't seem to be cutting it, he decides to try regular bars, too. Almost immediately he's hit on by a very drunk woman named Ruby. He's not interested, but it's also pretty clear that she's drunk enough to get herself into trouble, so he helps her get back to her apartment only to discover that her roommate, Aidan, is his mate. Just one problem: Aidan is asexual. Brandon's not about to run away, but, as he learns more about asexuality, he wonders if his mate will ever be able to become a werewolf, a process that would involve having sex.

This was apparently based on a prompt from someone in a Goodreads group. If the picture I saw was what the story was based on, it's a good thing it wasn't included with this e-book file, since I'm reasonably certain it's someone's Wolf's Rain fan art.

Okay, moving on. This story did not get off to the best start, and I was worried it would turn out to be completely awful. Although it did improve, I still had lots of issues with it.

I disliked that the world rules were set up so that sex was required for someone to be turned into a werewolf. What aspect of sex was it that turned someone into a werewolf? Was it a magical thing tied to, say, orgasms? Or was it more of a sexually transmitted disease? Was it transmitted via semen or blood? None of this was mentioned, probably because exploring those world rules too deeply would have meant admitting that maybe some activity other than penetrative sex could have done the job just as easily.

The asexuality aspect was handled clumsily, but better than I'd feared. I'd have preferred it if the author had chosen a less clunky way to communicate information about asexuality than having Brandon consult the AVEN website a few times. On the plus side, asexuality was not presented as a “one size fits all” thing, and the werewolf soulmate bond did not “cure” Aidan of his asexuality. Brandon made some assumptions and screwed up a bit, and it was emphasized that, for his and Aidan's relationship to work, they had to be open with each other.

As I was reading this story, I had an epiphany: in the process of exploring an asexual relationship, this story was not saying very good things about sexual relationships, or at least Brandon's views on them. Sexual attraction doesn't negate the need for things like good communication, dating, and getting to know each other, but you wouldn't know it from the way Brandon thought. Although he'd slept with tons of guys, he'd never dated anyone and hadn't thought he'd ever need to use romantic words or gestures. Not because he didn't think he'd ever find his mate, but because he just didn't think all of that was necessary. I had the feeling that, had Aidan not been asexual, Brandon would have expected the two of them to have sex within 5 minutes of meeting each other.

I kept waiting for Brandon to realize that, not only did he not know Aidan very well, he hadn't yet made much of an effort to change that. Every time he met Aidan, he learned something new – that he had a little sister, taught fencing, and owned a motorbike. Rather than slow down and take the time to learn more, Brandon just fretted over how to convince Aidan to like him when he wasn't going to be sexually attracted to him, and worried that he wasn't going to be able to keep his own desire in check. It was incredibly frustrating. I mean, it wasn't like he had some kind of deadline. Brandon struck me as being both impatient and oversexed.

I've read far worse asexual romance stories than this, but that still doesn't mean this was very good. The world-building was sketchy at best, I couldn't fathom how someone like Brandon could be pack leader, and Aidan's reaction to Brandon suddenly shapeshifting in front of him was unbelievably chill. Also, Brandon spent more time worrying about Aidan's asexuality than really getting to know him as a person, and the romance suffered as a result. There was no real feeling of intimacy and closeness between the two of them. Even the cake Brandon brought Aidan was more a thing inspired by AVEN forum posts than by him actually getting to know Aidan.

If I pick up the sequel, My Alpha and His Cake, it'll be because it's cheap and I'm a completist.


(Original review, with read-alikes, posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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text 2015-07-13 22:20
Reading progress update: I've read 33 out of 52 pages.
The Alpha and His Ace - Ana J. Phoenix

I had an epiphany about one of the reasons why this story bothers me. I feel like it's saying that, if Aidan weren't asexual, he and Brandon would have been having sex within 5 minutes of meeting each other. And they wouldn't have gone on a date, because who needs to go on a date when you could be having sex.

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