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review 2017-08-16 02:06
Release Day ARC Review: Out Of The Shadows by KC Wells
Out of the Shadows (Dreamspun Desires Book 40) - K.C. Wells

I adored this so much! What a sweet romance between one hunky gardener/handyman and one damaged, hiding young man who thinks an accident 8 years ago that left him severely scarred turned him into a monster not fit for society. 

Josh is a gardener/handyman for an apartment complex and has been tasked with modernizing some of the apartments by upgrading the kitchens and bathrooms. The first apartment is the home of a mysterious resident, whom nobody has apparently ever seen. Josh is a really nice guy, easy-going and kind, and he has no preconceived notions about the man who lives in the apartment. Josh feels he's there to do a job, and he plans on doing a good one. He also has a nice group of friends, including two (Nate and Dylan) who may be given the "oblivious men of the year" award. I sure hope the author has a book planned for them as well. 

Christian made a horrific mistake 8 years ago while helping a stranded motorist to jump-start his car and hooked up the wrong side first, resulting in severe acid burns to his face, arms and chest. He moved to Boston to start a new life - if you can call it a life - and cut himself off from friends, family, and everyone. He orders what he needs online, groceries are delivered to his front door, and he only rarely goes outside, and when he does, it's at night, cloaked in darkness. He's afraid of people's reactions to his scars and would rather be alone than see them pity him or recoil from him.

Unbeknownst to Josh, Christian has been watching him work in the flower beds and such, admiring and lusting after him. Of course, Christian has no illusions of getting any closer to Josh than through the window, but ogling is enough. Or so he tells himself.

On the first day of the renovation job, Josh believes that Christian isn't home, but the truth comes out, and Christian has a difficult time believing that Josh's reaction to the scars (and the monster he sees in the mirror) is so calm and accepting.

A mutual love for Harry Potter brings them closer, they share lunch every day while Josh is working on the apartment, and even after he's done and has moved on to the next place, and it was so lovely to watch Christian begin to trust Josh, who starts to draw the slightly older man out of his shell. Shared lunches turn into watching a movie at the theater (late at night, of course), and meeting Josh's friends.

Christian blossoms under Josh's unfailing support, and their mutual attraction fairly quickly turns into real emotions and a desire to be together. Josh helps Christian realize that what he sees in the mirror is not a monster after all, and that while some people may react in a way Christian expects them to (recoiling in horror), the majority of folks do not. 

I would have liked Christian to consider therapy to deal with his self-hatred, because Josh is not a therapist, and while he provided steady support, love, and understanding, I wasn't sure that Christian's rather rapid progression to being comfortable in public spaces (after hiding for so long) was completely realistic. However, considering that this is a Dreamspun Desires title, this did not influence my rating or enjoyment of this book.

The author did a great job with the characters, and their romance was believable within the parameters of this series. Their story is, while definitely on the fluffy side, super romantic and hopeful, and their HEA was well deserved. A quiet, low-key romance, very little angst, and so very sweet - I had a fabulous time reading it.

And I'm serious about Nate and Dylan needing their own book. Please get right on that, Ms. Wells.


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

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review 2017-08-02 01:20
Release Day ARC Review: The Teddy Bear Club by Sean Michael
The Teddy Bear Club (Dreamspun Desires Book 39) - Sean Michael

The blurb sounded fun, and the general idea of this book was great, but the execution left me wanting. I expected more than talk about diapers, and burping, and bottles, and just kids in general from a book being billed as a romance.

Aiden has adopted his sister's two children, since his sister struggles with mental health issues and cannot take care of them. He works from home, mostly at night, and his adult interactions are pretty much limited to his twice-weekly trip to the local coffee shop where he meets with friends.

Devon is taking care of his much younger sister's newborn baby after she left town. He is completely over his head taking take of a baby, even three months in, and he hasn't started any legal proceedings either. Invited to join Aiden and the others at the coffee place, he's glad for some adult company too.

Most of this book is told in dialogue. Most of this dialogue is trite, bland, and non-engaging, and while a romance develops between Aiden and Devon, amidst taking care of the children, there just didn't seem to be any kind of believable spark. 

For a romance to work for me, there has to be more relationship development, and more to the relationship than just the commonality of taking care of kids. The kids just took over this book, and I was often rather bored while reading about their feeding times, their bedtimes, and their baths. While the romance itself was fine (what there was of one), the constant talking about the children was a major turnoff. 

There's some drama with Devon's mother who wants to take the baby from him, but that's also easily resolved, and her role in this book was slightly OTT, as was Devon's reactions to her threats. 

So yeah... this didn't do it for me. YMMV. 


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

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review 2017-07-28 02:34
ARC Review: Scrap by Josephine Myles
Scrap (The Bristol Collection Book 3) - Josephine Myles

This third book in the Bristol Collection is about Grant (Mas' asshole cheating married ex) and Dare, who had a thing for Perry, but didn't succeed.

There's a scene in Stuff where Grant shows up at Perry's store in hopes of winning back Mas, a little on the drunker side, and gets doused with wine, courtesy of Perry, and then escorted out by Dare, who also attended the 'grand re-opening' of Perry's store.

You see, Grant was married with children when he carried on an affair with Mas, but he's come clean to his wife, divorced, and now doesn't know how to move forward. He's gay, he knows it, but still closeted. His boss, a sleazebag first class, sends him on a fact-finding mission, which brings Grant to Dare's scrap yard, where Dare rebuilds travel vans (and lives in his "office" trailer), while taking care of his junkie brother who lives in Dare's house. 

Dare is out and proud, straight-forward, and doesn't take shit from anyone, especially not some real estate developer's minion who's rude and snobbish and looks down his nose at him.

Of course, to the wanna-be posh Grant, Dare's motor oil perfume isn't what he's looking for, but while he's busy looking down his nose, he cannot help but notice the other man's body and lust for what seems to be a sizable endowment. 

Dare remembers Grant from the store reopening and feels kind of sorry for the guy. They get physically close quickly, but Grant is an idiot and selfish and scared, which nearly costs him the one good thing he's found since he fucked over Mas and his wife and kids. 

With her typical charm and style, Jo Myles made me care even about someone like Grant, even though I usually cannot abide cheaters in my romance novels. I felt sorry for him, really. He sucked, sure, but I could see that he didn't really want to be a bad guy. He tried to do the right thing in the end, even if it cost him. 

This book was probably the angstiest of the three in this series. Dare's situation with his brother's addiction does have a positive ending, even if it didn't look like it would, for a while there. I liked Dare a lot - his no-nonsense attitude combined with his deep love for his brother, and his steadfastness when it came to people he cared about made him a lovable character and a good guy in my book. 

The author teases at the end that there might be another book forthcoming. Possibly a new character not yet introduced, or possibly a book that revisits all three couples in the future. I'd read it either way.


** I received a free copy of this book from Signal Boost Promotions as part of the re-release. A positive review was not promised in return. **

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review 2017-07-28 02:06
ARC Review: Stuff by Josephine Myles
Stuff - Josephine Myles

In this second book from the Bristol Collection, we meet Mas (again, sort of) who was Jasper's sometime fuck-buddy, suddenly out of a job and suddenly homeless. And nevermind the nasty security dude following him and accosting him in the store about the bottles of perfume Mas might be smuggling out in his backpack. 

But Mas runs fast, and then slips into a small store while trying to hide from the big bad security dude.

Fortuitously, Mas ends up in a Vintage shop owned by Perry, who's a bit (okay, a lot) more posh than Mas. And quite startled at the young man popping into his store.

With her typical Britishness and fabulous sense of humor, Jo Myles lets their story unfold one vintage garment at a time. Mas is a quirky and often exasperating character, and Perry, much more sedate, doesn't quite know what to do with the quivering and bouncing slip of a boy. 

I adored them both so much! Perry doesn't know what hit him, never thought of himself as gay, but holy hot boysecks, there's not a single thing he lets stand in his way once he allows Mas to sex him up. Except maybe for his belief that he's not good enough for Mas.

All the while, Mas has a similar issue thinking that he's not good enough for the very posh Perry in his vintage vests and shirts.

Of course, neither one of them has the guts to talk about their self-doubts so they just dodder along until - well, you read this for yourself.

A fitting continuation of book one, we also get to revisit with Jasper and Lewis, and their oh so happy ever after. 

Utterly charming and adorable, this book made me smile and giggle and awww a lot. Perry is wonderful, Mas is slightly crazy, but together they just fit perfectly. 

Recommended.


** I received a free copy of this book from Signal Boost Promotions as part of the re-release of this series. A positive review was not promised in return. **

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review 2017-07-28 01:48
ARC Review: Junk by Josephine Myles
Junk - Josephine Myles

I can always count on Jo Myles to write a very British book, and this first one in the Bristol Collection has all the usual charm and style I expect from this author. 

Jasper, he with the dull librarian job at the university and the unfashionable somewhat dowdy clothes, is a hoarder. Of books, magazine, newspapers, pamphlets - anything printed, really - and the immense collection in his house is preventing him from really living his life. 

The book gave some great insights into what it must be like to live with this disorder (and it is a disorder, let's face it), and how it can impact a person so very detrimentally. 

Intellectually, of course, Jasper realizes that he has a problem - unable to use most of the rooms in the house he inherited from his mother, he is cognizant that one day, and likely one day soon, one or more of the stacks of books and other printed materials will collapse and bury him. And yet, he cannot stop himself from bringing home ever more material, because he cannot allow books etc to be just thrown away. His home is a prison, more or less, but he just cannot stop. Even when he tries to remove a single book from his house, his mind simply shuts down and refuses to cooperate. Anxiety is trapping him, in more than just one way.

In a moment of clarity while in the clutches of an anxiety attack, Jasper reaches out to a brother-sister declutter/organizer team and soon meets Lewis and Carroll. 

Lewis knows Jasper from long ago, when they were both in still in school, even though Lewis was a few years behind Jasper. Nursing a crush way back when, Lewis still feels the attraction when coming face to face with Jasper.

Jasper remembers Lewis too, and the admiration he had for the younger, but out and proud boy a few years below him. 

At 30, Lewis still lives with his parents, dealing with unhappily falling in love with men he wants to change, and a bit of a shopping addiction, which explains his usual lack of funds and having to live with his somewhat eccentric mum and dad. 

But attraction is burning brightly, and if it weren't for the dilemma of not dating a client, and Lewis' history of falling for men not good for him, he'd be climbing Jasper like a tree. As their relationship begins to change from a business transaction to friendship to lovers, some of Lewis' demons make him doubt and question his feelings and his motives, and he tries to set boundaries time and again, and breaches every single one himself. 

Jasper is a complex and flawed character, full of shame for his hoarding, not willing to allow anyone into his home because of the hoarding, which has cost him what few friends he had, with occasional one-night-stands with his fuck-buddy Mas (he of book 2) the only real human contact he has. It is immediately clear how very lonely Jasper is, and how deeply he yearns for friendship and love. He's shy, but kind, and also has a bit of a backbone when pressed, and I really adored him. I wanted him to get help. I wanted to hug him. 

It was fascinating to watch this story unfold. It's pretty quiet and sedate overall, and the romance between Jasper and Lewis grows ever so slowly, which made perfect sense within this plot, but you can see with every passing day how much stronger Jasper gets, how he and Lewis work not only on cleaning out the clutter but also on chasing away their respective demons. 

A beautiful story, complex characters, a great supporting cast; this is a book definitely worth your time. 


** I received a free copy of this book from Signal Boost Promotions as part of a re-release tour for this series. A positive review was not promised in return. **

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