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review 2020-06-21 03:11
When I first read this story back in 2016...
Rented Heart - Dan Calley,Garrett Leigh

I felt like the story got off to a bit of a slow start and while I very much enjoyed the story back then upon re-reading my review I feel like the me of 4 years ago thought that maybe this slow start wasn't such a good thing. Interestingly enough 4 years later I'm feeling like that slow start was just what this story needed. 


While the sex came fast in this story...lonely, rich man meets rent boy...I don't think one can realistically expect differently. It's the other part...the emotion, the connections and deeper feelings that are slow to follow and in the scheme of things it all works and makes sense to the me of now.


Liam's still reeling from the loss of the man he thought he'd spend his life with. A loss that's affected him in so many ways both personal and professional. When Zac sees him and decides that he's going to hit on him, it's only with a moments hesitation before he agrees and follows Zac to his flat for night of no strings attached sex. It's a win/win all the way around...Liam gets what he needs and Zac...well, Zac's got to eat and pay the rent so Zac gets what Zac needs as well.


What was suppose to be a one night stand slowly turns into two and then three and then more. Neither Liam or Zac truly realize when it happened but both men slowly realize that things have changed or maybe it's just that they've come to see that things were never what they thought they were. After all Liam never really thought that Zac was a rent boy and Zac never truly felt like Liam was just another John. Unfortunately realizing this isn't enough to make things right for either man.


It's going to take a drug addicts intervention, a huge misunderstanding and nearly loosing Zac to make Liam see the second chance that he's being given and make him see that if you want something bad enough than fighting for it isn't an option it's simply what you do.


Zac's never believed that he deserved anything good in this life. He's worked on the streets as a hooker since he was 15 and kicked out of his home by his parents for being gay. He's already been saved once by his best mate Jamie the only person who's ever had his back. 


I really needed to see Zac get some happy in his life and there really wasn't anyone better suited to give him that happiness than someone who'd had it once and lost it through no fault of their own. Sweet, kind, lonely, sexy Liam. A man who'd had love, lost it and still had so much to give. 


While I've only listened to a few books narrated by Dan Calley, I'd have to say this one is probably my favorite so far. I've enjoyed them all but for me, Dan Calley really nailed the voices and brought Zac and Liam to life just a bit more than previous stories that I've enjoyed...which is not to say that they were bad by any means but just that this one was even better.


'Rented Heart' may have had a bit of predictability to it but sometimes knowing there's something good coming and knowing that you can count on it to happen in a story really can be a good thing. I loved knowing that in the end Liam would have Zac to love and that Zac was willing to love him back and letting Garret Leigh put the icing on the cake with the details of how they got there was all I needed to make my soul sigh with contentment.



An audio book of 'Rented Heart' was graciously provided by the author in exchange for an honest review. 

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review 2020-06-21 00:02
The first time I listened to an audio book written by Gregory Ashe...
Police Brutality - Gregory Ashe,Tristan James Mabry


was back in December of 2018...so not really that long ago and I admit I did it for two reasons...#1 some of my friends were reading or listening to his stories and saying some good things and #2 I discovered that Tristan James was the narrator and I've been a fan of his from the first audio book narrated by him that I ever listened to. I've enjoyed around 50 audio books narrated by Tristan James...that is if you only count each title once and not how many times I've listened to a particular audio book...which would mean that I've listened to a whole lot more.


But the subject here is Gregory Ashe's 'Hazard and Somerset: A Union of Swords' series or to be more precise 'A Union of Swords' book #2 'Police Brutality'. Fans of this pairing will know that while this is only the second book in this series this is in fact the eighth novel featuring this couple...give or take a novella and/or story here and there.


The important thing to take away here is that if you want to enjoy the full Hazard and Somerset experience you need to go back to the beginning...back to the original series and yes, it might seem daunting but it's so worth it. I was actually late to the party in discovering what a hidden gem these stories are but once I found out, I was all in. I gathered up the audio books and I marathoned my way through book after book loving every minute of them to the exclusion of all else.


As a rule I'm a big fan of series that present a different set of MCs every book or even two...mostly because in the past I've found that my interest tends to lag as things begin to feel repetitive and so far that has not been the case at all with these stories. Not only has the criminal/investigative aspect of these stories varied in terms of the who, what, where, why and when but the relationship dynamics between Ellery and John-Henry has held a realism to it that's been to say the least kept my need to know 'where things are going for these two men?' 


Back in 'Pretty, Pretty Boys' we watched as Emery Hazard returned to his hometown to find himself partnered with John-Henry Somerset the bane of his existence when he was younger and as they go from antagonistic partners to cautious allies to friends and more in each successive story the reader gets to share in the emotional roller coaster ride as well as the dangers they face along the way.


Even after all this time things are not perfect between Ellery and John-Henry and just like couples in the read world their relationship is a work in progress. It's not all sunshine and light with these two...sometimes it's hard and it's just not pretty.  It was at the end of the first series that we saw Emery Hazard leave the police force and with the encouragement of his John-Henry, he set out to become a private investigator. 


So now here in their follow up series 'A Union of Swords' we get to see the effect of Emery's decision on their relationship. In book #1 "The Rational Faculty" we saw the beginnings of how things are changing for the former work partnership and it's impact on their personal relationship but here in book #2 "Police Brutality" the changes continue and with John-Henry talking about marriage and the addition of Dulac, Somerset's  recently acquired work partner, who seems to be there at Hazard's every turn and add in Hazard's newest client...Walter Hoffmeister, a rather unpopular police officer that we've encountered in previous stories, along with the fact that 'The Keeper of Bees' is very probably still around and a  threat to all that Ellery holds dear and this series is shaping up to be even more intense and mind gripping than the first one.


As much as I enjoy all aspects of the story, I have to admit for me it's the dynamics between Hazard and Somerset that keep me coming back for more. I love how these two men are together. I love that they see the flaws and imperfections in each other, that they fight...sorry, but in the real world people fight and argue and they make up. They say I'm sorry...not always with words but in ways that only someone who truly loves them can see and understand. Theirs is not a perfect relationship but one that's built on love and determination with a bit of sarcasm and snark thrown in for good measure.


Hazard and Somerset is about second chances, it's about flawed men, broken men who are to stubborn to stay down no matter how hard the world tries to keep them there. It's about men who do the right thing even when it's often not the easy thing to do and it's a series that grabbed my attention and has won my heart. I love this couple and having been there for the beginning I absolutely want to be there for whatever comes next.



An audio book of "Police Brutality" was graciously provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.




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review 2020-06-15 02:27
A Way With Words and A Way With You - Lane Hayes,Alexander Cendese

A Way with Words and A Way with You by Lane Hayes consist of two separate stories both of with make reference to characters and/or element from Felice Stevens series ‘The Breakfast Club’ and truthfully the only reason that I was aware of this was the disclosure at the beginning of the audio book and while I can safely say I didn’t feel that I was missing out on anything in these stories for not having read that series. I am left wondering how if I’d read or listened to the Breakfast Club series…would I maybe have enjoyed ‘A Way with Words and A Way with You’ a bit more than I did, but it is what it is and I guess I’ll never know.


While I’ve given the audiobook an overall rating of 3.5 for the most part I found that I enjoyed ‘A Way with Words’ a bit more than ‘A Way with You’ and in fairness to both stories rather than do one big mashed up review of the audio book I’ve chosen to give each book their own mini review here so first of all lets start with what both stories have in common besides the author…


The narrator…Alexander Cendese. This audio book  is only my third time listening to this particular narrator (or more accurately my 3rd & 4th) so he’s a relatively new to me narrator and as with my previous experiences overall I found this to be a good listening experience. The character voices were distinct and unique giving uniqueness and emotion to the characters and their situations. Mr. Cendese is a narrator that I would not hesitate to listen to in future and look forward to enjoying more audio books narrated by him.


Now about the books…


Garnering a solid 4 stars from me ‘A Way with Words’ was the first story in this duology and it in fact turned out to be my favorite. Tony De Luca is a down to earth guy, with a big Italian family to meddle in his life he flies under the radar as often as he can especially when it comes to his sexuality or at least that’s how he rolled until he met a sexy guitar player on a street corner when he was going for lunch one day.


Remy came from a small town looking for a new life in the big city. He plays guitar on a Manhattan street corner during the day and tends bar at night. He’s out and right now more concerned with a steady job than a steady man until he meets a certain sexy Italian construction worker whose kind heart, soulful eyes and uniquely interesting way with words starts him thinking about other things.


For me, Tony and Remy worked as a couple. They were both down to earth and I could so easily imagine them as real people. Their relationship developed as a friendship before becoming something more. Things between them felt genuine.


I especially liked that in his heart Tony knew his family…especially his mother would still be loving and supportive when he came out to them and that Remy’s family was also a loving and supportive family. So often stories have family members that are the total opposite of this and while more often than it should be this is a sad part of the real world. It is sometimes nice to read a story that reminds us that there are also good, loving and supportive families out there.


I think I maybe would have liked a tiny bit more story for Tony and Remy but all in all it was a sweet romance with a nice happy ending and made for an enjoyable summer vacation listen.


‘A Way with You’ is the second book in this audio excursion and I have to admit if I was rating just this story, then my rating would probably be 3 stars at best. Thankfully, Mr. Cendese was present to bolster the characters with his expressive and solid narration.

Reeve Nelson is struggling to be successful in the Manhattan real estate market. He’s willing to give it his all. After leaving his small town and an ex-who-doesn’t-want-to-be-his-ex, he’s determined not to go back. He’s also Remy’s brother (yes, this was one of the best things about him for me). Reeve’s boss is making this all particularly challenging for him. Reeve’s not afraid of a challenge but he’s also not afraid of walking away from things when they’re not right for him.


Leo Rodriguez has a reputation as a ruthless businessman and he’s proud of it. He’s worked hard to get where he is, and he’s done it on his own terms.


These two men should have worked for me but for some reason they fell a little short of the mark and the highlight of this story for the most part were the moments when Reeve interacted with his family… especially Remy and Tony.


At the end of it all though I was left with one story that I quite enjoyed and another that was ok both narrated by a narrated with the ability to enhance a story with is vocal skills.




An audio book of ‘A Way with Words and A Way with You’ was graciously provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

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review 2020-06-15 01:08
"Rainbow Place" where happily ever after comes with dinner and a drink...
Happy Place - Hamish Long,Jay Northcote

I took a little longer than usual to get to this one because after listening to the first book in the series I squirreled off to other things so when this story became available on audio I of course had to squirrel off to the audible story and get the other audio books so that i could catch up and now having enjoyed those stories here we are at the fifth installment of Jay Northcote's "Rainbow Place" series.


George is gay, in his 40's and has never been kissed much less anything else. George's upbringing has taught him that being homosexual is wrong and he's tried to deny this part of himself but after 40 plus years of hiding in a closet he's starting to find it harder and harder to ignore what he knows to be true.


Quentin's had his fill of bad relationships and he's not interested in anything serious and George is sweet and sexy and just looking to sample what it's like to be with another man...it's clearly a win/win for both men when they decide to hook up.


What starts as some no strings attached behind closed doors fun and sex for both men starts to develop strings faster than either man has anticipated and they find themselves navigating rougher waters than either could have anticipated.


We first met Quentin in book #1 of the "Rainbow Place" series Seb and Jason's story and the story of how Rainbow Place came to be.  Quentin's a reporter and he's fresh out a relationship that was bad...so needless to say 'cautious' is his middle name.


George was raised to believe that 'gay is bad' seriously 'going to hell bad' but he's also finding that what he was taught isn't what is or what he wants to believe...he just needs to get past what's been ingrained in his psyche.


The age gap between Quentin and George definitely went into the range that still makes me a bit squeamish, but the dynamics between them, with Quentin actually being the one to have the experience and confidence of being an out and proud gay man really helped to offset the actually chronological difference in their years. 


Hamish Long is once again the narrator for this installment of "Rainbow Place" providing characters with voices that were rich with character and depth. Having the same narrator for each story whether the main characters change or not helps a story to have a continuity and flow that resonates in the narrators voice with a familiarity with the authors world that can only be achieved by knowing a series start to finish the way one would if they had been a part of the adventure from the beginning.


I don't know if this is the last installment in this series but I have to admit I'm hoping not since there's been more than one engagement among these couples so I'm hoping there's a wedding story or two at least.



An audio book of "Happy Place" was graciously provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

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review 2020-05-25 04:46
Second time around for "Second Chance"...turned out to be even better...
Second Chance - Jay Northcote,Hamish Long

Second time around for "Second Chance"...turned out to be even better...


"Second Chance" is another of those stories that I read earlier this year and loved. So when I got a second chance to enjoy this one on audio...what else could I do but say yes.


If I loved this one the first time around, I'm not even sure what word to use for this second chance with a story that holds a special place in my heart. I have to admit I really wanted to come up with a whole lot of new and creative ways to express my appreciation for this story, but truth be told I listened to the audio book, I re-read my original review and my brain stuttered to a screeching halt as realized two things... 1 that I enjoyed the audio book just a tiny bit more than I had the e-book and that adds up to a whole lot of 'loved this story' right there and 2, I still love this story for all the reasons that I originally loved this story. So, yes I'm going to borrow some things from that review to help me create this one.


This book had me not just from the beginning but from the first word of the title..."Second Chance"...we all want them, need them and mostly we deserve them and that's what this story is about...second chances for so many people but mostly for Nate and Jack.


At 45 years of age and after a plethora life events, childhood friends, Nate and Jack are reunited. (Ok, let's hear it for mature MCs who can have a relationship with someone their own age) It's not that I'm opposed to age gaps or daddy kink more like sometimes I just need a break from it...anyways, these are mature men who have been through a lot...good and bad and now they've each come home for their own reasons and dealing with the problems of the present brings them both face to face with memories of the past...both the good and the bad.


Jack's dealing with a break-up that led to a downward spiral into depression and addiction but with the help of his parents and a lot of determination he wants to change that and regain control of his life.


Nate's come home to get his daughter away from life in a big city and the temptations that she was finding around every corner and to help his mom following the death of his father. For Nate there's also the added challenge of the fact that when he lived here before everyone knew him as Natalie...not Nate unlike in the city where everyone knew him as Nate.


As Nate and Jack become reacquainted against the backdrop of everyday life the reader gets to know these two men not just through their efforts to reclaim their lives but through the people they love as Nate's daughter Cass deals with her own efforts to put her life back on track, Nate's mom who not only has a second chance with her granddaughter but her son and Jack's parents who as they try in their own way to repair their fragile relationship with Jack.


While these are some of the second chances that happen in this story not everything is perfect and each chance has it's own solution and degree of positive outcome which went a long way towards making this story work for me. 


Of all these second chances for me the most important one was Nate's...this is Nate's chance not just with Jack, but to live his life as Nate the man, he was meant to be.


'Second Chance' is a story that's told from a realistic perspective. It's doesn't come with over the top magical solutions. It's two men dealing with what life has thrown at them...one gay, one gay and transgender...both seeming very real.  The story feels real...there's passion and humor, awkward moments, interruptions and even moments of frustration...yes, folks it's just like real life.


Hamish Long's is once again the narrator for this Jay Northcote story and for me, his narration has only helped to enhance the depth of reality that this story contained and when it comes to stories set in the UK, he's fast becoming a favorite narrator of mine.


In spite of the fact that each story is unique, we can often see bits and pieces of ourselves or someone we know in a story and it's that commonality that frequently draws us in and lets us relate to what we read. For me, "Second Chance" held small pieces of a story that while it's not mine, it is that of someone so very precious to me. Whose story I know nearly as well as my own and it was these pieces that connected me to this story and kept me listening and wanting to hear it all. 



An audio book of "Second Chance' was graciously provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

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