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review 2018-02-06 01:34
ARC Review: And The Next Thing You Know... by Chase Taylor Hackett
And the next Thing You Know . . . - Chase Taylor Hackett

This was freaking AWESOME!!!!

I didn't like Jeffrey (don't call him Jeff) in the first book in this series, because he came across as a pompous ass, and I don't usually have time for the arrogant, cocky, snobby, hot-shot attorney kind of person. 

But this book was delicious fun - I had a blast watching Jeffrey get cut to size by Theo. 

Let me set the stage, okay?

Jeffrey is best friends and co-workers with Rebecca who is Theo's older sister. This is important information. Theo is currently occupying his sister's fold-out couch, because his douchey sort of boyfriend has maybe found greener pastures. 

First scene, Jeffrey, still smarting from the break-up (how dare Roger leave him for Fletcher, the reformed cheater), is supposed to meet Rebecca in a restaurant for lunch and instead finds Theo at the table. Presuming that Rebecca is trying to set him up, Jeffrey informs Theo that, sadly, he's not interested in dating right now, because *sniffles* that break-up is still hurting him, but please don't take it personally, Theo, because surely you're fabulous, really. 

Theo, having no idea what Jeffrey is going on about, immediately makes mince-meat of the self-important prick who presumes to know anything about anything. 

And thus, their hate-ship is born.

The book is chockful of snark and sarcasm, and the witty back and forth between Jeffrey and Theo had me in stitches. And yet, even through my giggles, I could see a vulnerability in both of them, something they would categorically deny if asked, but simmering just beneath the surface. For all his pompousness, Jeffrey was really hurt by Roger choosing Fletcher, and for all his bravado at 5'6" and skinny, Theo was just hiding behind a mask constructed of his cutting remarks. Jeffrey is also not as cold and calculating as he likes to portray himself, even if Theo doesn't quite see it right away. That thing with the red shoelaces though - total win. And that was only icing on the Jeffrey-is-really-a-marshmallow cake. Because, see, Jeffrey doesn't even realize it himself for a long time - the super cool and collected at all times go-getter lawyer - that's a mask too. 

Shenanigans - this book had them. Snappy dialogue, self-deprecating humor, a brilliant use of the enemies-to-lovers trope, this was everything I had hoped for and more. 

Still, it's not all snark and banter aka foreplay here. Jeffrey does a crappy thing, and he knows it's a crappy thing, and he doesn't say anything about that crappy thing, even when he should have, and then it comes back to bite him in the ass. Hard. And it's the end of the Theo and Jeffrey comedy of errors. 

Well, no, not really, of course, since this is a romance, after all. When Jeffrey realizes the crappy thing was really super crappy and had some really crappy consequences, he actually for once in his life puts someone else first, no matter the consequences to himself. And Jeffrey, spoiled, rich, arrogant little boy Jeffrey grows up and becomes a real man. 

Theo too has some growing up to do. He has to learn that being short isn't the same as being helpless, but that sometimes it's okay to lean on others and let them help you. It doesn't make you a lesser person. 

I will warn you though - this book isn't politically correct or sensitive to unkind language. The author didn't pull any punches, but also succeeded in making the characters feel more realistic this way. Because, let's face it, we all have unkind thoughts towards others on occasion, that's just human nature. 

Additionally, and this is not an issue for me but may be for other readers, there is no on-page steam. While Jeffrey and Theo get it on eventually, those scenes are completely fade-to-black and mentioned only in transition to the next scene. There is plenty of chemistry though, and I had no difficulty believing that their bedroom exploits were as explosive as their hate-ship in the beginning. 

The old adage is true after all - there is but a thin line between love and hate, and the opposite of love is not hate, but indifference. Neither MC, despite their protestations, was indifferent to the other, and they went easily from hate to love, without meaning to, without realizing it at first, and without having planned for it. And in the process found in each other exactly that which they never knew they always wanted. 

Brilliant!

I LOVED this book. Highly recommended. 


** I received a free copy from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. **

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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 2018-01-02 01:46
ARC Review: Saint And The Sinner by Sam Burns
Saint and the Sinner - Sam Burns
In this 4th book in the Wilde Love series, we finally get Owen and Mickey's story. I had an inkling in book 2 that they would eventually get their own book, because when I read Keegan's book (Sins Of The Father), there was an undercurrent of want I could see from Owen and Mickey toward each other, so I hoped. And the author delivered.

This book can be read as a standalone, though why you wouldn't read the whole series is beyond me, and it also feels as if this is the last book, as it seems to wrap up any leftover questions and open issues.

Mickey Martin is Owen Quinn's father's 2nd in command, more or less, having worked for Brendan Quinn since he was fifteen years old, owing his life and his livelihood to the man, and is basically a member of the family by now. Brendan is ill, and it looks as if Mickey will be asked to take over to run the Quinn mob syndicate. Mickey, who is also best friends with Keegan, has had the hots for Owen for a long time, but he also knows that nothing will come off it, as Owen is out of his league, and he's been fighting his feelings for the younger man for a long time. A string of girlfriends led to nothing much, because Mickey can never fully commit himself to anyone,since Owen unknowingly holds his heart. Even if he knows the boy deserves so much better than a thug like himself. Or so he thinks.

Owen is in love with Mickey, and has been since he was but a teenager. He doesn't think that the older man will ever love him, and he's basically resigned himself to not ever getting the man he wants. Owen still lives in his father's house, but is not involved at all in the criminal business side, though he reaps the fruits of that illicit labor since it pays for his education and lifestyle. He's disdainful of his father's thugs, except for Mickey, of course. He knows that his dream of joining the FBI will never come to fruition because of who his father is. 

At the core of this book is the juxtaposition of these two characters - how can Owen love a man who represents all that he abhors, and how can Mickey pursue a romantic relationship with the son of his employer, his best friend's little brother? There is angst and drama, of course, though little of it stems from the criminal activities - while there is some of the crime aspect present, it's not the focus of this book. Most of the drama within is based on the two men's differences and their different stations in life, their assumptions and inability to see a future in which they can be together. There is never a question of the veracity of their feelings or the strength thereof - they love each other wholeheartedly - but neither sees a way to overcome what stands in their way.

What is also remarkable about this series is how well the author fleshed out her characters. Not just the main ones, but also all the secondary and supporting characters, and how carefully she has crafted their individual relationships and contributions to the plot. The deep love of a father for his sons, despite misunderstandings, hard feelings, and controversies, permeates this book, and Brendan's sacrifice at the very end only cemented my admiration for him - even if he can be ruthless and cold in his business dealings, I always knew he loved his children, no matter what. 

If this is truly the last book in this series, it is a fitting ending. I closed the book on my e-reader with a smile on my face and happiness in my heart. 

Read this series - I implore you. While Sam Burns may be a fairly new author, her books have a fascinating cast of characters, with complexities and flaws that make them realistic and relatable. 


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

 

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review 2017-12-23 01:57
Book Review: A Love Song For The Sad Man In The White Coat by Roe Horvat
A Love Song for the Sad Man in the White Coat - Roe Horvat

Dear Roe Horvat - you broke my heart, you stomped on it, and then, at the last possible moment, you healed me.

The book starts out with brief moment in which we meet Matej, a student in Prague, on his way to class to take a finals, stopping to buy a cup of coffee to which he attaches a note.

"Are you wondering the same things I am?"



The coffee is for his professor, Dr. Simon Mraz, a psychiatrist who teaches at the university Matej attends. 

Fast forward four years, we now hear from Simon, aka The Cruel Doctor Frost, as he is known among the students at the university, and Matej is but a painful memory. Simon lives with Marta, who is Matej's sister, but who is about to move into her own place. Nobody has heard from Matej in those years, not since he left after a tragic event. 

Simon's sadness is overwhelming. It is sheer willpower that keeps him mostly sane and standing upright. When the pain threatens to pull him under, Simon runs through the streets of Prague, exhausting himself to the point where he can sleep. It is evident that Simon is struggling - with the memories of Matej, with what happened, with what he could have done differently, with finding a reason for Matej's leaving. 

The author did a fantastic job conveying how very empty Simon's life is - he has a few friends, and Marta, but he's only barely holding on. He's numb. He can't even muster a congratulations when his best friend gets engaged. He's rude and offensive, and pessimistic and just so heart-breakingly sad. 

The writing is superb - I felt Simon's pain, his longing, the almost robotic way he goes through the motions of his daily life. It was occasionally difficult to see through my tears, especially as about 75% of this book are spent in Simon's head, seeing and feeling his pain, watching him on his way to self-destruction. 

Then Marta starts to look for her brother, without Simon's knowledge.

This is a powerful novel about pain and loss, and getting a second chance, even if you don't think you deserve one. It's about two complex and seriously flawed MCs, whose bone-deep pain just dripped off the pages. 

It's not your typical romance. This is not a meet-cute and live happily ever after story. This is a story that will break your heart and then slowly, ever so slowly, mend the jagged edges - and yet, the scars remain. 

There's a HFN at the very end, for those of you that need to know, one that I could easily see turning into a HEA, even with Simon's warning to Matej.

"Are you ready to spend your life with a sad man?"



I won't forget this book any time soon.

Highly recommended.


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

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review 2017-12-15 21:35
ARC Review: Where Do I Start by Chase Taylor Hackett
Where Do I Start? (Why You?) - Chase Taylor Hackett

I'm super late with this review - my apologies to the author and publisher.

Where Do I Start, indeed.

Fletcher, immature and possibly a sex addict, is a serial cheater. Two years ago or so, he and his then-boyfriend Roger broke up, because Roger found out about Fletcher treating the gay scene in NYC as his personal buffet and Roger wasn't putting up with that.

Personality-wise, it was clear from the start that Fletch and Roger are two very different people - Fletch is immature, happy-go-lucky, spontaneous, whereas Roger is much more mature, set in his ways and a bit staid. Not that those are bad things, but at the time they were together, perhaps Fletch felt a bit... stifled.

Now two years have passed, Fletch is still sampling the buffet whenever he can, and Roger has a new boyfriend named Jeffrey. And Fletch just ran into Roger and might have realized what he lost. 

Some folks have perhaps shied away from this book because of the cheating mentioned in the blurb - none of that happens on page, and none of it happens once Fletch decides to win Roger back. 

One might think that Fletcher attempting to break up Roger and Jeffrey is selfish and speaks to his maturity level, and one would be right in as much as Fletch at first only sees his own desire to get back with Roger. But then, as I watched Fletcher grow throughout the book, I could also see that Roger, mature, staid, reliable Roger, really needed Fletcher in his life, and that the two of them, as opposite as they are, really complement each other, and bring out the best in each other.

Of course, Fletcher's scheming is not without its up and downs, and there are plenty of hurt feelings in the way at first, as well as a lack of trust, and obviously Jeffrey. 

I loved Fletcher snarky inner voice, his nearly child-like optimism, and his strength of conviction - once he made up his mind that Roger was it for him, he went full on ahead with the seduction, until... well, you read this for yourself.

I rather enjoyed this tale of one very flawed almost anti-hero who grew up and became a real boy when he realized whom he had, through his own actions, hurt. Making amends isn't easy, but he didn't give up, not even when the odds of success where minimal, and when it seemed like the rest of the world was conspiring against him. 

This was an excellent debut novel from a new author telling an awesome tale of an immature boy who became a man, almost on his own.

I look forward to Jeffrey's book which will come early next year. Cannot wait!

 

 

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

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