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review 2017-05-24 19:30
Just another day in the city of Nis...
Fraud Twice Felt - J.T. Hall

'Fraud Twice Felt' is the second installment in J.T. Hall's 'Oddities' series and basically picks up where 'Murder Once Seen' leaves off. Derwin and Elliot are living together as a new couple and working on making their lives mesh.

 

They're happy and for the most part things are good...or as good as they can be with two men who both have oddities they're trying to keep secret from the rest of the world, are rebuilding their home after having it blown to bits by a killer as well as rebuilding Elliot's life so he can leave his rentboy days behind which would be easier said than done if he didn't have to avoid a former client who nearly killed him and still wants to 'own' him and just happens to be the leader of one of the most dangerous gangs in the city...but hey, let's not stop there why not have a friends son and his girlfriend go missing only to find out that not only are they missing but they've placed everyone in the middle of a power struggle between two of the most powerful gangs in the city.

 

Like the first book 'Fraud Twice Felt' is a bit stronger on the mystery/thriller part than the romance but for me that works. I cut my reading teeth on authors like Mary Higgins Clark and Phillip Margolin so mysteries are part of my staple reading diet add in that this one also has a touch of urban fantasy to it...Jim Butcher and Rachel Caine anyone? Needless to say this is all golden for me...mystery/thriller/urban fantasy with a touch of a m/m romance blended in and I'm happy, happy girl.

 

I really enjoyed the mystery here, it was solid and held a couple of surprises that added a nice little twist to events. What I really enjoyed was the growth that we saw in Elliot as he regained some of his confidence and stepped up to show his man that he's not going to stay anyone's damsel in distress, he wants to be self sufficient and able to protect himself and have Derwin's back when he needs to but more than that he wants to take his life in a different direction from his rentboy days...one that will clearly establish him as Derwin's partner and an equal in the relationship.

 

Watching Elliot struggle to regain the confidence that he lost as a result of the events that transpired in 'Murder Once Seen' is hard for Derwin. He's a good partner loving and supportive but he's already lost one man that he loved and he knows that losing Elliot to the dangers they face would be more than he could handle but he's smart enough to know that for both their sakes Elliot needs to be able to protect himself so he's determined to help make this happen. I really loved this about Derwin because as a  wife and a parent I understand that feeling that need to protect those we love. I also understand that whether it's a child or a partner the best thing we can do for them if we truly love them is to give then the tools to be able to protect themselves.  Sometimes doing what's best for those we love is the hardest thing we have to do, but it's also the most important. 

 

While this story doesn't end on a cliffhanger we are given a hint of what's coming next and I'm definitely looking forward to the next installment in this series and the chance to see how Derwin and Elliot grow as a couple and as individuals. J. T. Hall has definitely found a fan in me with this series and I'm looking forward to my next visit to the city of Nis.

 

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An ARC of 'Fraud Twice Felt' was graciously provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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review 2017-05-24 18:24
Another L. A. Witt success...
The Master Will Appear - L.A. Witt

‘The Master Will Appear’ is L.A. Witt’s newest release. It’s BDSM with an age gap and a sub who has no idea what he wants or who he really is and some scorching hot sex.

 

Ryan appears in Mikhail’s life as an arrogant young fencer who in Mikhail’s eyes needs to be taught a lesson in humility. It’s only after delivering that humility in the form of a sparring match that Ryan approaches Mikhail and with his new-found humility ask the older, more experienced fencer to mentor him that Mikhail truly looks at him and sees his potential surprising himself as much as Ryan with his agreement.

 

As Ryan’s lessons in fencing proceed the attraction between the two men grows. Initially Mikhail is somewhat resistant feeling that the age gap between them is too much. But as Ryan’s need to submit becomes apparent the two strike another bargain and Mikhail agrees to teach Ryan what it means to be a submissive.

 

The relationship between these two men was more than a little complicated by several factors and I loved that this was not a case of insta-love. Sure, they were attracted to each other it was a physical attraction but that’s a real life thing that happens all the time. I think most of us have at one time or another have seen someone who at first glance catches our attention and makes our blood race a little and maybe even leaves us a little breathless.

 

It’s only as they spend time together and actually get to know each other that both of these men begin to feel like there could be more and it’s definitely up to Mikhail to take that first step given how cynical and relationship phobic Ryan is especially for someone his age…he’s young to be so cynical and sadly it’s thanks to a family that’s definitely the poster image for dysfunctional.

 

It’s this emotional connection that develops between Ryan and Mikhail that added so much intensity to their relationship for me. It’s been a while since I’ve read a book where I actually felt the connection between the MCs the way that I did here. For me it was strong…intense if you will. That first time that Mikhail told Ryan to kneel I didn’t wonder if he would, if this was the point at which their relationship would shift to another level. In my mind the instant Mikhail said ‘kneel’ Ryan was kneeling. It was a done deal.

 

As strongly as I felt Ryan’s desire to please Mikhail as his sub, I also felt Mikhail’s desire to care for Ryan to give and be what he needed to keep himself balanced and safe.

‘The Master Will Appear’ worked as a story for me because I need to believe in the unwavering level of trust that is needed to make a relationship work between a Dom and their sub, as well as feeling that being a Dom or a sub is a part of the character’s nature and I may be wrong here but I’ve always felt that being a Dom or a sub is a part of a persons nature the same as being gay, lesbian, bi or straight…it’s just something that’s there and part of that persons nature. It’s not about deciding or not deciding…it just is. The choice isn’t about whether you are or aren’t. It’s whether you act on it or not, whether your true to yourself or not. With this story I got those feelings…the unwavering trust and the feeling that Mikhail was what Ryan needed in order to finally be true to who he was to explore that hidden part of himself and feel safe.

 

Now comes the tricky part there was one particular scene in this book and if you’ve read the book…you know what I’m talking about and if not, I apologize for how vague I’m about to be but giving details would be way more spoilerish than I want to be. I’m just going to say that I’m a bit torn on this scene because honestly while it’s not something I would chose to have in a story I think in this case because of why it happened and everything that resulted afterwards it was relevant and necessary. Also, surprisingly I have to say it was well done and *fans self* definitely hot! So not my choice to have happen in a story but I tip my hat to Ms. Witt…she nailed it…I might have done a re-read on this part…but just once…honest.

 

At the end of it all no matter how it starts or what kind of a relationship it becomes I need to feel that it’s healthy and good for all parties involved and with Ryan and Mikhail it worked. These two men complimented each other beautifully not that they were perfect…just that they were perfect for each other and I was left feeling that what they had together as a couple made each of them better as individuals…for me that’s how a relationship should work.

 

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An ARC of ‘The Master Will Appear’ was graciously provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

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review 2017-05-22 21:48
Back to the world of Delta Restoration, Renovation & Design...
Michael, Reinvented - Diana Copland

This is book 2 in Diana Copeland's series 'Delta Restorations' and while I didn't enjoy this one quite as much as the first book it still held my attention and gave me a lot of good moments. 

 

I would definitely recommend reading this series in order as both the characters and events from the previous book factor strongly into this one. We first met Michael and Gil in 'David Renewed' when David dragged Michael along as his muscle to help move some furniture he'd bought from Gil and while the attraction was instant it was a physical thing. Gil liked what he saw when he looked at Michael...yes, he thought that they could have more and wanted to explore the possibility of  where things could go for them but the problem is Michael doesn't do relationships. He's tried it and he got burned so he's not willing to take that chance again. Lucky for Michael, Gil's persistent and patient.

 

Whether he wants to or not Michael eventually finds his life and Gil's getting tangled together because of their work at DRR&D and because as hard as he may want to deny it he's drawn to Gil. Gil's not only sex on legs for him but he cares about Michael and is determined to keep him safe when events from the first book continue and once again this group finds themselves under attack. Plus Gil's not just easy on the eyes, he's one hella' nice guy and try as he might eventually Michael finds himself unable to ignore how much he genuinely likes him.

 

it's not until things escalate though that Michael realizes how much he wants his mountain of a man and that sometimes taking a chance is better than letting it go and living with regrets.

 

One of my favorite parts in this book was the solid mystery taking place allowing us to once again see this awesome group of men pull together to take care of each other and keep one another safe. 

 

This type of series where we get a different couple for each story while also having glimpses at past couples and ones that are yet to be explored is total book crack for me, it's like spending time with old friends while meeting new ones. In 'Michael Reinvented' we started off with a bit of David and Jackson as Jackson pulled out all the stops to give David an over the top Valentines day. Which for me, ironically, turned out to be the weakest part of this story.  For me this just didn't work, while all the elements were there for it somehow I just didn't feel the romance of the occasion and I have to admit I think that in part this was just a personal preference issue that made it not work for me so pfft, it didn't work not biggie these things happen.

 

However, there was a scene later in the book that pertained to Michael and Gil, specifically to Michael finding out something about Gil that for him was a bit of an eye opener and this worked so wonderfully well for me that quite honestly it had me in tears. It was beautifully done so again personal preference. Which just goes to show how truly subjective reviews are. What works for one person may not for another and in this case I can easily see where what didn't work for me will work for others and what had me in tears may only be nice or sweet or no big deal for someone else.

 

Overall though I loved this story. I liked the banter between Michael and Gil both verbally and texting. I was good with the way the relationship developed and grew. I really enjoyed the mystery aspect of the story and how it tied into everything. So yeah, overall just a really good read and one that has me hoping that whatever comes next, comes soon...maybe Vern and Manny? While I'm not sure how I feel about them as a couple if that's even where they're heading because at times I almost feel like their relationship is more of a big brother/little brother type relationship. What I do know for sure is that I'm looking forward to seeing what's in store for this hard working group of friends.

 

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An ARC of 'Michael Reinvented' was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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review 2017-05-18 22:08
How TJ Klune broke me in less than 100 pages...
Olive Juice - T.J. Klune

So this is going to be a short review because I am definitely keeping it spoiler free. 'Olive Juice' starts off on a heartbreaking but definitely an elusive note. It's only as the reader continues to read that the reason for the heartache becomes revealed.

 

As my friend and fellow reviewer, Todd said:

"Mostly, this story was about when "THE MOST TERRIBLE THING IMAGINABLE" happens."

"Olive Juice" is a story filled with the heartache and despair of two men as they struggle to survive and get past having their world torn apart...to find a way past it, living with the aftermath and reshaping their lives to find a way back to each other.

 

There really is no happiness and light with this one but I can't imagine not reading it. The writing, in true TJ fashion, is both gripping and compelling and while I definitely felt emotionally wrung out at the end I was also left with the tiniest spark of hope that said 'It's ok, they'll be ok." and maybe that's not the HEA that we all love so much but sometimes the HEA that life gives us isn't tied up with a bow or covered in rainbows and sprinkles... sometimes the HEA that we get is having gone through the storm and having the strength to put ourselves back together...to keep trying.

 

Be brave read this, it's less than 100 pages (on my Kobo), it's heartbreaking and amazing. It'll leave you saying 'thank god it's not me' only don't let yourself be fooled because sadly it could be you, it could be any of us and that's why you need to read this story.

 

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An ARC of 'Olive Juice' was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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review 2017-05-16 01:22
I loved this book hard core and...
Shelter the Sea - Heidi Cullinan

so did my husband and he didn't even read it...not really. But I was so taken with this story that I did something I don't often do, I rambled perpetually about it to him and because he's patient and loves me, he sat and listened.

 

'Shelter the Sea' is Heidi Cullinan's follow up story to 'Carry the Ocean' and like 'Carry the Ocean' it's a story that is touching and burrows its way into your heart but it's also a story with such an important message...a message that is both current and relevant to our times. It's through Emmet and Jeremy's eyes that we get to see what it means to live in a world that's geared towards people who are on 'the mean' while bypassing the percentage of society out there whose needs are different but whose right to have the same quality of life as those who are on 'the mean' is real and not only to be met but safeguarded from those who would deprive them of what many consider basic human rights. 

 

Emmet, Jeremy and their friends set out to protect the lives they've made for themselves at the Roosevelt, but not just their lives also the lives of their friends and so many other people with special needs. As their home state restructures its health care system into something that will make it even harder for people with special needs to receive the care and assistance that would enable them to have the quality of life that everyone is entitled to and many simply take for granted.

 

'Shelter the Sea' isn't a story that messes with the HEA that Emmet and Jeremy were so firmly headed towards in 'Carry the Ocean'. It's a chance to see Emmet and Jeremy as they grow as a couple fitting their lives firmly into each others. Loving and supporting each other both in their good moments and their bad. Like any other couple keeping their happily ever after is something that they need to work at on a day to day basis and the love and support that these two give to each other is so sweet and a lesson for all of us because anything worth having is worth working for and while it's such a simple concept Emmet and Jeremy get it in a way that truthfully eludes many of us who live on 'the mean'.

 

For me the romance between Emmet and Jeremy is so beautifully portrayed it's sweet and solid and for both of these men it's the foundation from which they draw their strength and support. It's built on friendship, love, faith and respect for and in each other.

 

This is a beautiful love story about two men willing to take on the world to protect all that they have and hold dear not just their relationship but their friends, their rights and the rights of others who they don't even know but, whom they know need someone to be a voice for them in world that often cares too little and sometimes not at all.

 

'Shelter the Sea' is a story that needed to be told and more importantly needs to be read and embraced by all and Heidi Cullinan has shown us with the beauty of her words that she was the person who needed to tell it. Thank you Ms. Cullinan from the bottom of my heart for bringing Emmet, Jeremy and all their friends into our lives.

 

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A copy of 'Shelter the Sea' was graciously provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

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