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review 2018-01-11 03:09
ARC Review: Only You by Kay Doherty
Only You - Kay Doherty

Holy Insta-Love, Batman! And holy magic dick, Batman!

I took a chance on a new-to-me author, because the blurb of this book was intriguing. Rich party-boy/man-whore seeks new life away from the six maybe-boyfriends who'd only use him for his money and runs to his aunt's house in small-town Clover City, where he meets older, grumpy, closeted sheriff, who's still nursing a broken heart and carrying some massive guilt after his PD partner/secret lover died, back in Denver, during a domestic disturbance call gone very wrong.

I liked Case(y) initially - I could see that he was tired of being used and adrift, not sure of his way, and I hoped that he would find what he was looking for. He was immature to some extent (breaking up with his many boyfriends via text is just one example) and in desperate need of some direction in his life, something that would make it meaningful. But then, one of Case's ex-BFs tracks him down and instead of sending the guy back to where he came from, he puts him up in a hotel and pays the bill? Where was his spine? It's not like this happened shortly after Case's arrival - no, ex-BF shows up when he's already deeply involved with the sheriff. What gives?

Rawley, the closeted sheriff, is still mourning the loss of his partner, a death for which he blames himself, though he has built himself a quiet and mostly content life in Clover City. He's lonely, of course, even though he'd deny that if asked. Rawley takes one look at Case and wants. Grumpy sheriff wants the younger man, and after dragging him away from a barbeque to his house and sexy times, the sheriff is completely in lurve with the younger man, wants to keep him always, but also wonders if Case's man-whore past is not entirely a thing of the past. Jealousy is an ugly thing. 

There were some sweet moments too, and this book is entertaining. The plot flows well, I liked Case's aunt Sylvia (she was a sweetheart), and the townsfolks were nice too. 

Rawley just came on too strong sometimes, and I thought that the age gap was actually hindering them. Many times, Case acted like a doormat, and I wondered if he saw Rawley as a father figure too, instead of only a lover and an equal. Rawley had some hang-ups about Case's age as well and a bit of a dominant personality that, while it suited Case's character, was for me a bit too much. I like equality in the relationship, equal standing from a maturity perspective as much as possible, and I didn't get that here so much. 

Some of the plot points had me scratching my head, such as the rapidity with which Rawley stops grieving his ex-lover after meeting Case and their first bedroom encounter. Not only that, he also quickly gets over his guilt, a guilt that he's carried with him for two years and that he's worn like a shield to keep everyone out. Similarly, Case has one encounter with our grumpy sheriff, gets fucked through the mattress, and suddenly swears off anyone else's dick - never again will he have sex with anyone else, because... well, I guess because Rawley's dick is magic too. It's so magic, actually, that Case willingly puts up with Rawley's jealousy and distrust in his statement that he's done being a party-boy/man-whore and came to Clover City for that reason - to be done with that life. 

The ending felt a little too abrupt to me. I still had questions. What is the punishment Deputy Ted promised at the end? Is Jordan, the ex-BF, going to get that talk Case wants to have with him, and why, oh why is he still in town when the book ends? 

So, this wasn't a great read, but it did keep me entertained. Case and Rawley had some good banter going on, and while the relationship smacked of insta-love, they do get a rather nice HFN that will likely lead to a HEA, even if that must happen off-page. I could see Rawley open himself up to new beginnings and a second chance at love, and I could see Case find what has eluded him so far - someone who cares for him not because of what he can do for them, but for who he is. And don't we all want that, too?


** I received a free copy of this book from its publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. 

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review 2018-01-09 02:12
ARC Review: Before You Break by K.C. Wells and Parker Williams
Before You Break - Parker Williams,K.C. Wells

I'm ridiculously overdue with this review - my apologies to the authors. 

This book is the first in the series called Secrets, which is a spin-off from Collars & Cuffs, which I loved. At the end of book 8 of C&C, Eli and Jarod (from book 7) have decided to move to London to purchase and revamp an existing BDSM club, which they rename Secrets. 

I was excited to see Eli and Jarod again, and how the authors would set this new series apart from their first one. 

Wayne and Ellis are both members of London's Specialist Firearms unit and best friends. In recent months, Wayne has noticed Ellis behaving erratically, angering quickly, and being generally sleep-deprived. So far, Wayne has covered for Ellis and prevented any fuck-ups, but he realizes that this cannot go on. Thus, Wayne, a member of the club Eli and Jarod bought, invites Ellis to the Grand Reopening, in hopes that Ellis will see what goes on in Wayne's world for himself, and perhaps be more agreeable to a proposition Wayne has for him.

As I expected, Ellis has a freak-out. 

I had a difficult time understanding how Wayne thought that his straight best friend would be amenable to what Wayne was proposing, and that he thought this would be best for Ellis. At no time had Ellis ever given Wayne any kind of indication that he was a) not straight, and b) interested at all in the lifestyle. That whole situation felt forced to me early on, even if Ellis eventually agrees. I also was a little exasperated with Wayne's constant BDSM lectures, even though they made sense within the plot, since Ellis has zero experience in the lifestyle and possibly some preconceived false notions. 

The angst in this book comes mainly from Ellis and the messy relationships he has with his family, primarily his sister. It was clear to me that she was emotionally manipulating Ellis at all times, and that he bent over backwards to keep her happy. For someone in such a high stress job, I was wondering if there weren't psychological evaluations required at certain intervals, and whether an experienced therapist wouldn't have figured out that Ellis was at breaking point. Not even Wayne, his supposed best friend, really had any idea what Ellis was dealing with.

Once Wayne and Ellis set off on their BDSM journey though, I could see the relationship flourish, and there were many emotionally charged moments between them as Ellis learns more about Wayne's proclivities, and opens himself to being not so straight after all. These emotional moments are what keeps me coming back to these authors - they really have a knack for writing hardcore explicit kink with hardcore emotional impact. 

The ending was well done, even though there are some edge-of-your-seat moments that had me with my heart in my throat. Still, all's well that ends well, and this was a good start to this new series. I can't wait to see what else they have in store. 


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

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review 2017-10-16 00:47
Release Day ARC review: The Fireman's Pole by Sue Brown
The Fireman's Pole - Sue Brown

This book is pure fluff. Which, let's be honest, fits perfectly within the Dreamspun Desires titles. And the cheeky title - hahahaha!

Here we have Dale, a firefighter who recently moved into the little village of Calminster, still smarting from a bad break-up with his closeted, cheating ex, hoping to lick his wounds and put his hopes and dreams for that relationship behind him. Unwilling to be in the closet himself, he's open about his sexuality, but has no aspirations to find himself another boyfriend.

Called out for a fire on his first shift, he manages to rescue the homeowner, a sweet elderly woman, and draw the ire of his Lordship at the same time. Shortly thereafter, he backs the big fire engine into the maypole, which was originally erected by his Lordship's great-great-grandfather. So, having blown his opportunity for making a good first impression, Dale offers to fix the pole in hopes to calm down Ben, Lord Calminster, who is behaving like an ass both during the fire and after Dale's unfortunate mishap with the big fire truck and the maypole. 

Don't expect any kind of realistic or believable relationship development - there's none. 

Ben, the lord of the manor, has kept his own sexuality hidden to the point where he's got a girlfriend/beard. Of course, he takes one look at our hunky firefighter, feels the stirring in his loins and finds the backbone to break things off with the woman he's been dating. 

Dale was a nice guy, and I liked him. Ben, once he removed the stick from his ass, was a nice guy too. I liked him fine as well. 

It's just that nothing here between Ben and Dale felt anything close to realistic. Dale states that he's still hurting from the break-up and doesn't want to fall in bed with yet another closeted man, but then shortly thereafter dismisses that notion and jumps right in with Ben. 

Ben apparently, after meeting and tongue-lashing Dale twice, is willing to risk a whole lot for the possibility of being with Dale. Perhaps exchanging angry words with the firefighter turns him on. 

There's a bit of mystery here with someone unknown setting fires all over the village, a subplot that culminates in an edge of your seat sequence of events that not only casts Dale as a hero again but also firmly pulls Ben right out of that closet for good. 

Since I usually suspend disbelief whenever I read one of the Dreamspun Desires titles and don't expect anything realistic, I didn't mind the rapid development of the romantic relationship. What I did mind however is that we're merely told these two men have the hots for each other - we're not actually shown that they do - so this book ended up in three star territory. Sure, there are sexy times within, but I didn't really feel their passion - I was only told about it.

Still an enjoyable read that fits perfectly within this harlequin-esque series. 


** I received a free copy of this book from its publisher in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. **

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review 2017-07-17 02:22
ARC Review: Smitty's Sheriff (Hope #3) by Cardeno C.
Smitty's Sheriff - Cardeno C.

It pains me to no end to have to give such a low rating to a CC novel, but I hated Richard in this book, and the romance here was not what I expected.

I quite liked Todd, and I really wanted him to fall for someone not Richard, someone who deserved him, but I guess the heart wants what the heart wants.

Todd is in his early 20s, and six months ago, Richard, the town's sheriff, broke off their three year hidden relationship for no apparent reason. Just no longer called or came by. Todd doesn't know why, and he's still carrying a torch for the sheriff, but doesn't know how to get him back. 

At 41, Richard is considerably older than Todd and a condescending, judgmental, stuck-up ass. He likes to be in charge, but he also looked down his nose at the younger man, his carefree, somewhat flighty personality, and didn't consider it appropriate to be known as "the grocery boy's booty call". Say what now? >.<

Both suffer from a serious lack of communication with each other, with Richard being averse to Todd sleeping with others, and Todd not knowing that Richard wants a committed relationship, when Richard never even hinted at it. When you're someone's secret booty call, the message they're sending is not one of commitment. 

But then Todd's sister needs a babysitter (how convenient), and since Todd couldn't possibly handle the baby by himself, he's expected to move into Richard's place to get help with his niece. I didn't like Todd's sister either. She older than Todd and closer in age to Richard, and they BOTH treated Todd like he's just a fuck-up.

But he's not. And I guess as Richard sees a more grown-up, responsible side of Todd, he has to reconsider his actions and maybe realize that he was wrong. Only he doesn't really think he was wrong, and it takes Todd telling him what he didn't consider for Richard to pull his head out of his ass.

The book makes it sound like Richard misses Todd as much as Todd missed Richard, but jealousy and distrust don't make a good foundation for a relationship, and for Todd to feel as if he has to justify himself all the damn time, and for him to offer Richard access to his phone so Richard can verify that Todd is not sneaking around with other men - UGH, NO!

CC's usual writing style of course shines through here, which is why I finished the book, because the fluff and hot sexy times are all there, but the romance was definitely lacking, and I don't have high hopes that these two will ride off into the sunset together. 

If you love CC's books, I hope you'll give this a try. You never know - it might work for you, even though it didn't for me. 

 



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

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review 2017-04-27 01:56
Release Day ARC Review: Vodka And Handcuffs by Brandon Witt
Vodka & Handcuffs (Mary's Boys Book 2) - Brandon Witt

The title of this book, much like the first one in this series, plays on the occupations of the two MCs - one a bartender, the other a cop.

Vahin, the bartender, is Muslim, and from India, and gay, and out, which has caused him to be shunned by his family. Marlon, the cop, is black, also gay, but deep in the closet. His partner on the beat is basically a Jeff Sessions wannabe - a racist, homophobic, xenophobic asshole first class, who thinks he can do what he wants because his daddy is a Senator. He's also universally hated by all, including the Chief, and only assigned to Marlon because the Chief figured it'd be best to pair the asshole with his best cop.

Marlon meets Vahin at Hamburger Mary's, they have a night of drunken fun, mostly off-page, and then shit hits the fan, what with the racist cop partner trying to frame Vahin and arrest him, and Marlon being involuntarily outed, and ... yeah... none of it is pretty. This is not a fluffy book. The blurb is a bit misleading. Okay, maybe a lot misleading. Don't expect a fluffy, easy read.

The only real fun on page is when ManDonna struts her stuff - I flove her! She takes no shit, and she will hand you your balls, and you'll thank her for it.

I didn't quite believe the romance in the time line used, and while we get a HFN, I wasn't sure that things were going to last - perhaps we'll see how that goes in a future installment for this series. I do want them to last, I do. I just have doubts that their still fresh relationship can survive the roadblocks that will continue to be in their way, despite marriage equality, and despite the tide slowly turning in their favor. I want to believe that Denver is a bit more enlightened when it comes to racism, homophobia, and xenophobia.

I think this might have worked a little better for me if the book had been longer and had taken the time to really delve into the issues, and perhaps stretch out the time frame a little bit more. The issues raised here are definitely hot topics, and I was a little disappointed that Marlon's forced coming out, and that loathsome, filthy, evil, little cockroach partner's despicable actions weren't given adequate resolutions. Perhaps that is fitting after all - in today's political climate, what with the current administration in the White House, and the "values" for which they stand, it's certainly possible to look at this and realize that, yeah, there won't be any adequate resolutions to homophobia, xenophobia, and blatant racism, until we've gotten rid of the pestilence in orange that empowered this pond scum to strut around with their ignorant flags and "white power" bullshit.

Kudos to this author for making his main characters non-white. I wish there were more books that did that. There is a message within this book too - as a POC, you have to stand up for yourself every damn day, against hatred, against persecution, against blatant ignorance, and if you're POC and gay, your resilience will be tested time and again in triplicate. I commend the author for touching on these difficult subjects with honesty and sensitivity.

The author also sets up the next book toward the end, which will feature Zachary aka Ariel Merman. I had my heart in my throat while reading that bit, and I need the next book, like, now.

This series is quickly becoming a favorite of mine, and that's primarily due to what it isn't - lighthearted fluff. I want to read books that deal with current affairs, and this one definitely does.


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

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