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review 2018-09-17 01:59
Book Review: Truth & Betrayal by K.C. Wells
Truth & Betrayal - K.C. Wells
This was a tearjerker, for sure, but also a book that tackled some big issues.

Jacob is a young man living in a small town in Eastern Tennessee (close to Knoxville) and working for his daddy's construction company. His older brother Caleb left for Atlanta a few years ago and only returns home sporadically, having forged a life for himself in the big city. Jacob knows he's gay, but has no desire to come out to his parents, because he's sure of their negative reaction. He's been taking a few steps to distance himself from their church, but he knows that coming out in such a small town isn't going to go over well. His group of friends are more like acquaintances at this point, since he no longer has anything much in common with them, and the secret he's keeping isn't conducive to a close friendship anyway. Small-town bigots don't make for good friends. 

Then Jacob and his parents get word that Caleb has died in a car accident, while riding in a car with another man who was also injured. And Jacob's whole world crashes down around him.

The author does a fine job describing his grief and his anger at losing Caleb, while slowly coming to the realization that he lost his big brother long before his death. 

Liam is the friend who was driving the car at the time of the accident. Injured himself in the crash, he nonetheless shows up at Caleb's funeral, fully realizing that he's probably not welcome, but needing a bit of closure for himself. The reader is at this point likely aware that Caleb and Liam were more than friends, even if Jake and his parents are not. The scene at the grave - gah, that felt as if plucked from real life, and my thoughts were drawn to Shane Bitney Crone (if you don't know who that is, google his name), and how he must have felt visiting Tom's grave all alone after the fact because he wasn't welcome at the funeral either. 

Going to his late brother's apartment to clean out his belongings brings Jake face to face with the secret Caleb has been keeping. And slowly Jake comes to terms with what he finds out. 

This could have been icky, obviously - one MC feeling attraction to his late boyfriend's little brother, who also happens to be gay, would usually make me feel really squicked out, but the author did a fine job laying out how the relationship between Liam and Caleb wasn't one of true and lasting love, so Liam slowly falling for Jake and vice versa didn't feel weird to me. The fact that it's a super slow burn also helped with this. At first, Liam takes the place of a friend, giving Jake a glimpse into Caleb's life, meeting his friends, visiting his favorite places, and such. He becomes a confidante of sorts as Jake gets more comfortable with who he is, and who he's attracted to. It didn't feel as if falling in love with Jake was what Liam had planned for - it simply happened.

Both Jake and Liam are really likable characters, and the author drew them with complexity and flaws. Their actions and reactions made sense within the overall plot, and the dialogue felt authentic for the most part. What grated after a while was Jake's accent - he often sounded a bit too much like a country bumpkin for my taste, but that's on me, I'm sure. Jake has quite a few hurdles to clear, before he can ride off into the sunset, his mama's machinations being the least of his worries. Jake finds his backbone - and that was a wondrous sight to behold when he told off the bigot preacher. Liam's family is made from a different cloth - fully supportive, warm and welcoming, and embracing Jake for who he is. 

KC Wells always delivers with the emotions in her writing, and this book is no different than what I'm used to from this author. There are heart-wrenching moments of grief and pain that made me cry, but there are also moments full of love and light, and those made me cry also. There is passion between two young men who finally found what they've been looking for, there is courage and strength in the face of adversity, and there are surprise reactions you didn't expect. 

I couldn't stop reading until the very end, and this is no surprise to me at all, really - It's a KC Wells book, after all.

Recommended.


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

 

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review 2018-09-07 11:42
Nancy Drew, Girl Detective #1: The Demon of River Heights by Sho Murase and Stefan Petrucha
Nancy Drew #1: The Demon of River Heights (Nancy Drew Graphic Novels: Girl Detective) - Sho Murase,Stefan Petrucha

 

My library had a bunch of Nancy Drew graphic novels and since I had already planned on reading a ND mystery for this square I decided to make it easier on myself and read the GN. 

 

I wished I had just read one of Carolyn Keene's originals instead.

 

The artwork was okay, although at times it was too dark to make out the characters or scenery. The storyline was less Nancy Drew (from what I remember reading ND in my younger years) and more Scooby-Doo gang. Also Nancy in this is a complete scatterbrain - how could she be a better detective than the police chief when she couldn't remember to put gas in her car SEVERAL times? None of the female characters come across with any good traits (George is an oversexed bimbo, Bess is nosy bitch, and Nancy's nemesis is a gold digging slut - OF COURSE). 

 

A crappy attempt at updating Nancy Drew for a new generation. 

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review 2018-09-04 02:08
ARC Review: Love At First Hate by JL Merrow
Love At First Hate - JL Merrow

While this is the 11th book in the loosely connected Porthkennack series, it's book 3 for the Roscarrocks; this one being about Branok (Bran) who was a real git in the first two books, and whom I'd basically written off as a jerk not worth my time.

Boy, was I wrong.

It could theoretically also be read as a standalone, though the characters from the previous two books make an appearance, and it would probably be best to read both of them before reading this one, to fully grasp the layers of Bran's misunderstood character. 

Bran was a real a-hole to his nephew Devan (from book 1) when he came to Porthkennack to search for his birth mother, though it's not clear why until this book. 

Bran showed some contempt for his little brother Jory (from book 2), and again, the reasons aren't clear until this book.

Living with a huge burden on his shoulders, his late father's voice in his ear, Bran has locked himself into the closet all his life, never feeling free to be who he really is. His twin sister Bea (Devan's mother) and he have spent most their adult life on their family estate, setting themselves apart from the general populace as what would 500 years ago be similar to feudal overlords. 

And Bran has for many, many years kept a massive secret from his sister and brother. 

Sam Ferreira is an old friend of Jory, whom he met while at university. Trusting someone he thought he could trust turned out to be detrimental for Sam's academic career, and, in some debt from gambling, he's now in dire need of a new job. When Jory comes to him about helping with an exhibit Bran is funding, about The Black Prince, Sam jumps at the chance to prove himself and says yes.

And thus Bran and Sam meet. The romance between them is slow burn by design - and when I say slow, I mean slooooooooow. There's a lot of UST and longing, but we're more than halfway in before they first kiss. To be honest, the slow burn was necessary - both men have baggage, and it takes some time for Bran and Sam to trust the other. 

The romance is quiet, almost taking a backseat to the rest of the plot, which is basically an exploration, a study of Bran's character. The man, outwardly sensible and hard and difficult to read, is in reality vulnerable, insecure, and scared. He hides his true self. He's taken on the responsibility of carrying the family legacy. He's jealous, he's demanding, and he barks at others. But he puts family above all else, he's generous, and he desperately wants to be loved. Even if he's loathe to admit that to anyone, including himself.

I'm not one who needs a lot of on-page sex, and this book doesn't have a lot of it, which suited me fine. What passion there is felt genuine. We leave Bran and Sam with a HFN, but one that I can absolutely see turn into a HEA, possibly in a future book in which we get to revisit these characters.


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

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text 2018-08-31 09:00
Friday Reads - August 31, 2018
Get Well Soon: History's Worst Plagues and the Heroes Who Fought Them - Jennifer Wright
Khobar Towers: Tragedy and Response - C.R. Anderegg,Perry D. Jamieson,Air Force History and Museums Program (U.S.)
Rockets' Dead Glare (A Tourist Trap Mystery) - Lynn Cahoon
A Touch of Midnight - Lara Adrian
The Demon of River Heights - Stefan Petrucha,Sho Murase
Miss Frost Solves A Cold Case: A Nocturne Falls Mystery (Jayne Frost Book 1) - Kristen Painter
A Deadly Brew (A Tourist Trap Mystery) - Lynn Cahoon
Hollywood Scandals - Gemma Halliday

2 TBR piles for September and October - 1) Regular reading and 2) Halloween Bingo.

 

Regular Reading: Starting Tuesday, I will be listening to the audiobook version of The Flat Book Society September's pick, Get Well Soon, as that is the only copy of the book my library system had. Next on the non-fiction que is Khobar Towers, which is only 153 pages so it should go quickly. I am hoping to finish Hollywood Scandals soon.

 

Halloween Bingo Reading: A Deadly Brew by Lynn Cahoon (Free Space - will be released Sep 4th), Rockets Dead Glare by Lynn Cahoon (Amateur Sleuth), A Touch of Midnight by Lara Adrian (Relics and Curiosities), The Demon of River Heights (Nancy Drew, Girl Detective #1) by Carolyne Keene, Stefan Petrucha and Show Murase (Baker St. Irregulars), and Miss Frost Solves a Cold Case by Kristin Painter (Cozy Mystery). All are short books that I can get through quickly over the weekend. 

 

Because my husband was denied leave (vacation time) and was TDY to Iceland for a month this summer, he has spent little time with the kids, who are now in school. So we are taking a day trip to Legoland Windsor on Monday as an end of summer surprise. HEE HEE HEE Adam and I can't wait to see their faces when we drive through the arch into the park.

 

Happy Labor Day my fellow Americans!

 

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text 2018-08-19 19:11
The River Knows By Amanda Quick $1.99
The River Knows - Amanda Quick

The first kiss occurred in a dimly-lit hallway on the upper floor of Elwin Hastings’s grand house. Louisa Bryce never saw it coming. Of course, handsome, wealthy Anthony Stalbridge couldn’t possibly have had romantic intentions. The kiss was merely meant to distract the armed guard about to catch the two unlikely sleuths. After all, the only thing these two interlopers have in common is a passionate interest in uncovering the dastardly secrets of Mr. Hastings—a prominent member of Society whom they suspect of murder.  
 
Brought together by their desire for the truth, Anthony and Louisa finally discover the incriminating evidence they’re looking for. But bringing Hastings to justice will be more perilous than they anticipate, especially since their thrilling attraction to danger—and, it turns out, to each other—might very well get in the way...

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