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review 2017-07-17 02:22
ARC Review: Smitty's Sheriff (Hope #3) by Cardeno C.
Smitty's Sheriff: A May December Contemporary Romance (Hope Collection) - 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 2017-07-14 00:53
ARC Review: M4M by Rick R. Reed
M4M - Rick R. Reed

This book is told in three parts/novellas and span about 10 years of Ethan's life.

We start off with VGL Male Seeks Same, in which Ethan, in his early 40s, has lost hope of ever finding someone to build a life with. He's tired of the bar scene and his empty bed. When he overhears a younger colleague at his job talking about a website to meet other men, he's intrigued and signs up. At first, he doesn't get any bites, but when he changes his profile picture to that of a fabulous hunky silver fox, his profile gets a ton of responses. Including one from a hot guy named Brian. 

This story really drove home the point that looks can and do fade and what matters are the personalities and compatibility of two people in a relationship, as well as the fact that many people on dating sites will focus more on looks and less so on the actual person behind the profile. And that lies have a way of catching up with you. 

I quite liked this - 4 stars.

In NEGUB2, Ethan goes for a routine HIV test and is told that it came back positive. Knowing he hasn't had sex with anyone but Brian recently, Ethan is immediately convinced that Brian has to have infected him. He stops responding to emails and texts and avoids his boyfriend while he grapples with his new reality. Needing an outlet, Ethan starts a blog "Off To See The Wizard Of Poz", in which he shares his fears and muses on what the future will hold. I really liked the blogposts that were included for this, but I hated Ethan for jumping to conclusions and the utter lack of trust he displays in Brian. It frustrated me that he would immediately suspect Brian of infecting him, and it took the advice of a co-worker for Ethan to pull his head out of his ass and talk to Brian. Still, considering that this novella kept me glued to the pages, I give it 4 stars also.

In the third novella, Status Updates, we catch up with Ethan 8 years later. And the moment I found out what had to happen for this novella to take shape, I was mad. I understood why the author did what he did, but I hated it nonetheless. Sure, it brings Ethan's story full circle, and it was beautifully written and really brought out the author's ability to write realistic emotions, which is why it's getting the 5 stars it deserves, but I was so upset at Ethan being alone again that I actually cried. Ethan's grief was heartbreaking. 

I thought that the entire trilogy was very realistically written. The character of Ethan was beautifully done, and while I didn't always agree with his actions and reactions, he did feel real to me. He could be that guy I saw the other day at the grocery story, looking a little sad, while filling his basket with groceries for one. 

It's not a grand romance, but there is love inside, real love, and loss, too. And it begs the question - is it better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all?


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

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review 2017-06-30 00:38
ARC Review: Love And Other Hot Beverages by Laurie Loft
Love and Other Hot Beverages - Laurie Loft

2.5 stars

I wanted to like this, really, I did. I read the blurb and thought this was going to be a drama-filled romance, but it's not.

Oh, there's plenty of drama, alright, but not really the romance I expected. 

Todd Addison is working for a construction company after his last relationship ended with a bad and painful break-up. Having put many miles between himself and his former boyfriend, he's taken the construction job until he finds something better to do or until ex-boyfriend changes his mind. Oh, he's also now in the closet, because construction workers are generally homophobic, according to Todd. 

Sebastian (Sebby) Nye is out and proud and the office manager for the construction company. He is an outrageous flirt, and tries his charms on a very standoffish Todd, plying him with coffee and more. Eventually, Sebby gets what he wants. It's supposed to be healing Todd from heartbreak, and Sebby isn't planning to fall for the guy but he does anyway.

I really didn't like Todd. He exasperated me with his back and forth, and he hurt Sebby more than once. Their relationship is messy because Sebby isn't totally honest, and Todd is still pining for the cheating ex. 

I had a difficult time liking both characters, actually, and their actions and reactions were possibly a little to realistic for me. I don't mind realism in the books I read; I welcome it usually, but here it just got too much for me - I just didn't believe that these two men are going to make it, despite the HEA we get in the end. 

The writing is a bit stilted on occasion, and the dialogue felt off, especially when they were bantering. There are sexy times, but I wasn't super impressed with those either. 

Overall, it was just meh. 

 

 

** 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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review 2017-06-25 03:19
Book Review: Shadows On My Soul by Leigh Jarrett
Shadows On My Soul - Leigh Jarrett

First off, trigger warning - there's is on-page male on male rape in this book. Be aware. The blurb hints, but doesn't spell it out. It's thankfully not drawn out, and done with sensitivity toward the subject matter.

This was my first book by this author. I liked the complexity of the characters in this book, but they exasperated me as well.

Supposedly best friends as well as business partners, Justin has kept a huge secret from Derek, and Derek has a secret of his own. Neither of them has the emotional maturity to discuss things honestly and openly, and their relationship was highly dysfunctional. Even at the end, which is supposedly a HFN/HEA, I didn't believe they will make it. There was a ton of unnecessary drama that could have been avoided if Derek wasn't so emotionally stunted and hadn't make such stupid assumptions, and if Justin hadn't lied for so long. Both of them needed therapy after the trauma (Justin for being violated, and Derek for having seen the violation first hand) to help them cope, but neither got that.

Their inability to read each other's facial expressions and emotions also threw a big wrench into their relationship, so much so that it made no sense considering that they had been best friends since their high school days. They just didn't really seem to know each other at all.

In addition to this, the two of them are also apparently completely oblivious to how their friends perceive them - Justin pretends to be straight and not in love with Derek, and Derek has one-night-stands to distract himself from being in love with his supposedly straight, supposedly best friend, but to everyone around them, they appear to be a couple.

The writing itself was perfectly fine, but the characterizations and the constant back and forth drama between the two main characters who have lied to each other, by omission or directly, for years, in a story that was billed as a romance, didn't work for me.

YMMV.


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

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review 2017-06-07 02:26
ARC Review: Texting, Autocorrect, and a Prius by M.A. Church
Texting, Autocorrect, And A Prius - M.A. Church

Cute premise - the blurb had me interested, and I was looking forward to reading this book.

It started off well enough. Darrell, early forties, is a car mechanic who recently repossessed a Prius from a customer for not paying the repair bill. Darrell doesn't need or want the Prius and hopes to sell it to recoup some of the money. What better place than Craigslist, amirite? So on suggestion of his brother Bert, Darrell puts the car up for sale.

Enter Clay, mid-thirties, who needs an inexpensive car that won't break the bank in gas consumption for his daily round-trip to work, something he's no longer willing to do in his truck.

There are a couple of almost-meets early on that set the tone for the soon-to-come romance, but then the meet-cute happens when Clay texts Darrell about the Prius and autocorrect strikes.

"Is your penis still for sale?"

Bwahahahahahaha!!!!

The attraction is sizzling when they first meet at Darrell's house to look at the car. A test drive and some light innuendo-filled banter later, a deal is struck for a Prius and a date, sealed with a hot kiss.

This is also where the book had its first WTF moment for me - I couldn't believe that two grown men would actually yank their dicks out in the driveway upon first meeting. This just rubbed me wrong - like it was perpetuating some gay man myth about promiscuity and unrelenting horniness, without any thought to who might be observing them in the driveway during their display of public indecency.

But I moved on. The sale is agreed upon, as is a date for the next evening, and then the book took a nose dive into a 2nd WTF moment.

Sure, it's all explained and what not, but I wasn't expecting Clay to be such a massive idiot. Seriously, what a stupid assumption to make. Yeah, yeah, yeah, he had his reasons with past hurt and trust issues, but come on - really? Really?

So, meet-cute, followed by a handjob in the driveway, followed by a huge misunderstanding and lack of communication, and a HFN at the end. The two MCs were nice enough, as were the supporting characters, but at supposedly 35, Clay sounded and acted at least a decade younger, and I wasn't quite buying Darrell's supposed age either.

The writing includes quite a few minute details that stretched the word count but didn't really add anything to the plot. I usually like this author's writing, so I'm a little sad that this book didn't work 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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