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review 2017-07-19 02:23
ARC Review: Mascara & Bandages (Mary's Boys #3) by Brandon Witt
Mascara & Bandages (Mary's Boys Book 3) - Brandon Witt

This is the 3rd book in the Mary's Boys series, all set in and around a Hamburger Mary's in Denver, CO.

On his way home from Hamburger Mary's after a performance as his drag queen alter ego Ariel Merman, while still dressed as Ariel, Zachary Cooper becomes the victim of a gay bashing. 

I was already crying when he comes to in the hospital, in pain and worried that the homophobic assholes who attacked him messed up his face and that he won't be able to perform anymore. 

In walks Teegan Chau, his doctor, and things suddenly look up.

Teegan has only recently come out as gay, and while he's divorced from his wife, they share a little girl and have a great friendly, supportive relationship. Teegan has had some hook-ups with other men, but has never been on an actual date with a man. Instantly smitten with the younger, somewhat femme guy in the hospital bed, Teegan and Zachary agree on a date. 

While the story had the potential to be really angsty, it actually wasn't, and there's a lot of inner strength to Zachary. He has a steely interior, and while he struggles a little with the trauma from the attack, he doesn't allow it to destroy him. 

I loved that the author didn't rush the developing relationship. Teegan's adorkable awkwardness on their first date was super cute, but neither he nor Zachary jumped into a commitment - they took their time to test the waters and really build a foundation.

As Ariel, Zachary is free to be himself, instead of worrying about meeting expectations other men might have of him. I loved that the author wrote about a femme man and the misconceptions that come with that. 

This book is the most heart-breaking and also most heart-warming of the series so far, as Zachary and Teegan, and the whole Mary's chosen family, deal with societal expectations, homophobia, the bashing, immediate family issues, and how to forge their own way.

There isn't a lot of steam here, and I for one don't need that in a romance novel to believe the relationship. Zachary grows into himself here, and Teegan finds exactly what he never knew he always wanted. 

So well done. 

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

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review 2016-10-02 01:28
ARC Review: A Matchless Man by Ariel Tachna
A Matchless Man (Dreamspun Desires Book 19) - Ariel Tachna

While I liked the writing in this book, and the characters the authors created, especially Akshat, Navashen's younger brother, the romance part didn't work as well for me.

Navashen returns to Lexington, where he grew up with his parents and younger brother in rather poor circumstances, after sixteen years of college and medical school and becoming a fine doctor and having secured a great position in a local hospital. Upon his return, he seeks out an old schoolmate/rival to help him find a home big enough to accommodate not only Akshat, whom he wants to move in with him, but possibly also their elderly parents.

Brent, the old schoolmate, is now a realtor and only too happy to help Navashen find his first house, as well as play matchmaker to find the guy a, well, guy.

I liked the story arc, and as I said before, the characters were all well done, and I enjoyed reading this book. The only thing that left me somewhat cold was the romance between Navashen and Brent. It just didn't feel organic enough for me, and didn't actually come about until more than 80% of the book was already done.

I appreciated the cultural differences of Navashen's family and thought that they were well done here - the author clearly knows her stuff. Navashen's mother clucking around Akshat, and using his disability as a reason to keep him tied to her, not letting him grow into his own person, was as frustrating for me as it was for Navashen and Akshat. And I really like that Akshat really grew under Navashen's guidance, and found a niche for himself, found something that he enjoyed doing, and became so much stronger for it.

This really wasn't so much a romance as it was a story of family ties and how specific change affected them. The relationship between Navashen and his brother really carried this book for me. It was sweet and supportive, and Akshat became Navashen's greatest supporter when things with his mother's plans to find a nice Indian girl come to a head.

The entire book is told from Navashen's POV, and while the differences between him and Brent are very clear, they also meshed well in their personalities. Though I think this book would have worked better for me if we had been given a view into Brent's mind. When the two men begin dating, it felt too passionless for me from Navashen's POV only, as if he was settling for Brent after trying out other options, instead of seeing this man as being his perfect match. I expected a passionate and grand romance between these men, but that's not what I got, sadly.

Well, can't win them all, I guess. Of course, 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 2016-06-04 01:07
ARC Review: When In Bloom by Nicole Dennis
When in Bloom (Southern Charm Book 4) - Nicole Dennis

Finally catching up on my review for this one. My apologies to the author and publisher for being waaaaaaay behind the 8-ball with this.

This was the only book in the series I read, and it worked well as a standalone, even though it includes characters from the previous books.

This was... nice. A little bland. A little non-exciting. Until the climax, which was out of left field and didn't make a whole lot of sense. Nice banter, nice MCs, nice story flow. Just a little on the bland side.

I liked that a character with a disability was featured. Jude, owner of the flower shop in town, has type 1 diabetes, and has recently developed epileptic seizures. Now partnered with a Medical Alert dog named Dawson, he happily runs his flower shop, preparing custom bouquets.

While at the local clinic, he meets the new doc, Elliott Sheffield, ex-military, suffering from PTSD. Their romance starts out slow, and Jude tries to hide his illness just as much as Elliott tries to hide his traumatic experiences overseas.

As I said, it was nice. The dialogue was stilted on occasion, but I liked their banter. The characters were nicely developed and believable. The story flowed well. The climactic scene toward the end was a little unexpected, though.

This was a nice way to spend a few hours.

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

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review 2015-07-07 15:42
Love Is An Open Road: Mended Hearts by Katherine Halle
Mended Hearts - Katherine Halle

This was just lovely. A free story from the Love Is An Open Road event, we meet Justin and Trey, the former being a patient, the latter a doctor. Only then they're no longer doctor-patient, and free to pursue that thing growing between them. Except Trey likes to ride his dirt bike, and scuba-dive, and Justin thinks that with his heart condition, he can't keep pace/compete. And he pulls an Edward Cullen.

The writing is fabulous. Loved the secondary characters who play a huge role in helping these two stubborn men get it together, loved the hospital settings, and how careful the author was to not break any HIPAA laws.

And yeah, they get a HFN, as they should. Well done!

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