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review 2018-06-11 02:58
The romance begins when the semester ends...
Teaching Ben - Shae Connor, Kenneth Obi

Ben Miller and David Powell may be the same age but they've lead very different lives... ironically, Ben's spent the past few years in the military as a way to escape his overbearing father and earn his freedom to discover and be the person he wants to be.

 

David comes from a life of privilege and ultimately excess leading to his ultimate downfall. But thankfully David's grandfather refused to turn him back on him and after some tough love David's turned himself around and now he's back in school with a plan for his life.

 

Though they've led very different lives Ben and David quickly discover that they share a mutual attraction and respect for each other and a friendship quickly begins. David is the TA in one of Ben’s college classes and while they’re attracted to each other neither man wants to complicate their life with a relationship while they’re student and TA so they’re determined to keep things strictly platonic until the semester is done even though there is no actual rule against them dating or having a more personal relationship. David’s got things in his past that have him wanting to ere on the side of caution and Ben’s just stepping out of the closet, so he simply wants to proceed with caution and he’s not looking to complicate the life of someone that he’s pretty sure he wants to have a life with.

 

I really enjoyed this one it was sweet and at just under 6 hours of listening time things were kept moving at a good pace without becoming boring or repetitious. There were some interesting secondary characters David’s sister and Ben’s laundry friend who took him underwear shopping…yeah, that was a fun time and if you want to know more you’ll need to check out the story.

 

The focus of this one is on the relationship and not the sex…sorry, but facts is facts. Now be that as it may I still found David and Ben to be an adorably sexy pair and their interactions were delightful and it was nice to have both David and Ben’s perspective on things as the story alternated between them. As with any interesting and entertaining story we are given at least one obstacle for our MCs to overcome and I liked how Ben and David came together to resolve their obstacle and I loved David’s family they were truly delightful…especially his mother. I got more than one chuckle from her.

 

‘Teaching Ben’ is only the second book that I’ve listened to that was narrated by Kenneth Obi but I have to say I’ve enjoyed them both and I certainly wouldn’t hesitate to listen to more of this narrators works. I liked the voices that each of the characters were given and they definitely meshed with any ideas that I might have had regarding how a character sounded and I also enjoyed that the voices were expressive and conveyed emotion and feelings within what felt like an appropriate range…in other words things never felt so extreme that I wanted to roll my eyes in exasperation. The conversations had a natural feel and sound to them and for me that’s a good thing. 

 

So for me Shae Connor and Kenneth Obi are each 2 for 2 and I’m looking forward to whatever comes next from this author and/or this narrator.

 

*************************

An audio book of 'Teaching Ben' was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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review 2018-02-20 01:16
Release Day ARC Review: Teaching Ben by Shae Connor
Teaching Ben (Dreamspun Desires Book 52) - Shae Connor

Ben Cooper put in his time with the military, but at 24 is now looking for a fresh start, using his GI bill to attend college in Savannah, GA. And finally step out of the closet. 

David Powell is a TA in Ben's class, same age as Ben, but obviously off-limits due to his status. David also had some struggles in his past, but has tried hard to stay away from temptation and stay the course. 

The attraction is immediate, but neither can act on it, thus there is lots of UST in this book, and the romance is super slow burn. David and Ben become friends, and as they learn more about each other, and secrets are revealed, their friendship, while platonic, becomes even stronger. 

I liked how the author gave Ben room to expand his horizons, how she let him spread his wings, away from his commandeering father, away from the rigors and structure of the Air Force, building the life he wants to live. 

David made a huge mistake once and it cost him dearly. He's making up for it, but he also knows that he cannot step a single foot out of line, no matter how attracted he is to Ben. The author did a fine job fleshing out his character and giving him a background story that felt realistic and believable in how much it still impacted his life. 

Told alternatively from Ben's and David's point-of-view, we get a well-rounded story with a believable plot that even had a bit of suspense, though the villain of the story was rather clear from the get-go and the suspense was more in how this particular piece of the plot would unfold and impact their budding relationship. 

As with all the books in this series, there is little explicit steam on page, which is fine as far as I'm concerned. I much rather read about the relationship development, and how the two MCs get to their HEA than about what they do in the bedroom. I much rather see an emotional connection develop more so that a romp in the sheets, and I got that here. Ben and David really clicked, like they were meant to find each other, with both of them having had to struggle to get to this point in their lives, which meant that they were more aware of what they found and thus more protective of it. 

I enjoyed reading this. 


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

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review 2018-02-02 01:10
Release Day ARC Review: Swann's Revenge by Shira Anthony
Swann's Revenge (Dreamspun Desires Book 51) - Shira Anthony

This book uses the Ugly Duckling to Beautiful Swan trope, with a bit of a twist.

When Jimmy Zebulon was 15, he was a bit of a band geek and a little on the short and chubby side, in love with Danny Parker, the hot and straight football player, who unknowingly broke Jimmy's heart when he stood idly by, allowing his teammates to reduce Jimmy to snot and tears with their torment and taunts.

Fifteen years have since passed and Jimmy is now J. Graham Swann, successfully attorney and co-owner of his very own law firm. The years have been good to Graham, who now sports movie-star looks and has left Jimmy, the band geek, in his past.

But of course the past comes back to haunt him - in the form of Danny, now Dan, recently widowed and moving back to North Carolina to be closer to his parents. 

Graham recognizes Dan, though not until after an almost hook-up, but Dan has for the longest time no idea that his super hot new boss is his former classmate. 

Graham is standoffish and almost rude, but then remembers to be a professional.

As the story unfolds, we see Dan and Graham become friends and then more, though Graham keeps his past identity to himself. Of course, I knew this would come back to bite him. Graham is not willing to tell Dan the truth - that he's Jimmy - and things are complicated a little bit further when Dan reveals he has a young daughter named Lacey.

And then Graham finds out that Dan, his secret high school crush, is gay and came out not long after leaving high school, met and married a man and adopted a child. 

I adored this story. I loved both characters, and I loved how well the author brought across Graham's hang-ups and his pain from the past, and Dan's confusion when Graham blows a bit hot and cold for a while. I loved how easily the story unfolded, how seamlessly each scene flowed into the next, how Graham and Dan go from employer and employee to friends and then to lovers.

And then... well, you read this for yourself. I don't think you'd regret it. The book has two great MCs, a lovely little girl that pulls them together, and an excellent supporting cast that rounded out the story. 

Seriously, read this. This was a perfect addition to the Dreamspun Desires series, and I utterly adored it.


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

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review 2018-01-16 01:04
Release Day Review: The Hockey Player's Heart by Jeff Adams and Will Knauss
The Hockey Player's Heart (Dreamspun Desires Book 50) - Jeff Adams,Will Knauss

I liked this story about an out hockey player who in his teens nursed a crush on his older sister's best friend who was also his geometry tutor. Who's now a teacher at the same school where his sister is the principal. 

After an injury, hockey player Caleb Carter returns to his home town of Foster Grove to recuperate and hang out with his sister before going back to NYC to play for the Rangers. He doesn't realize that his one-time teenage crush Aaron Price now works as a teacher for his sister, but is shook when he finds out. That teenage crush he thought he was over - yeah, not so much. So Caleb pursues Aaron - inviting the slightly older man on a date and makes his interest clearly known. 

Aaron is a bit gun-shy to date another athlete after one broke his heart back in California, but Caleb is persistent, and every argument Aaron brings up that a relationship between them wouldn't work, Caleb counters. And obviously, there's a spark for Aaron too. 

The plot doesn't have any big misunderstandings nor any obvious miscommunications, and both men are open and honest about their interest, even if Aaron isn't convinced this thing between them will be anything more than a short-lived romance. 

We get a glimpse into Aaron's life as a teacher, and Caleb's life with his hockey team (gotta love Dimitri, what a great friend), and also the school's hockey team. The kids were an added bonus, and I enjoyed watching Caleb and Aaron interact.

The drama in this story comes primarily from Aaron, shy, cautious Aaron, who doesn't think he fits in with Caleb's life as a star hockey player, so he finds excuse after stupid excuse to not fully give the relationship a real chance. 

I liked Caleb a lot. He was so honest and straight-forward, and so open about how he felt and what he wanted, but also not pushy - he gave Aaron time to come around to his way of thinking. And really, three hours drive isn't a deal-breaker for most people, especially since there's an off-season to consider. Aaron is just gun-shy, which I could understand, but I also didn't think it was fair of him to think that all athletes are alike. Aaron had some self-esteem issues too - again, understandable, after being treated like so badly by the California jerk. 

There is definitely chemistry between the two men, and we are treated to some steamy yet emotional scenes between them. This being a Dreamspun Desires title, I expected a grand gesture toward the end - and yeah, I got that. Lovely scene, that.

The entire story and relationship development takes place in just a few weeks' time, which might be too fast for some, but in this case, I believed the timeline from meet-cute to HEA, because the two men knew each other from high school, and both had a bit of a crush on each other - it was easy to see how that spark might be kindled to burst into flame. 

This was my first read by this author team, even though I own the Hat Trick series by Jeff Adams in paperback, which obviously I need to read. Apparently, there will be another book which will be about Dimitri, Caleb's friend and teammate. And judging by how Dimitri feels about romance and long-term relationships in general, I cannot wait to read that one!

Give this a try. While there's a lot of hockey in the book, the romance and relationship take center stage.


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

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review 2018-01-05 01:34
ARC Review: Prelude To Love by Anne Barwell
Prelude to Love (Dreamspun Desires Book 49) - Anne Barwell

This was a sweet hurt/comfort romance set in Wellington, New Zealand. Joel is a music teacher at a local school and is still not quite over his ex-boyfriend, and Marcus is a landscaper who is moving to Wellington after a break-up. Marcus' sister is married to Joel's college roommate and best friend. 

Neither is looking for a relationship, but with family/friends in common, they meet early on. There's interest on both sides, and as the book progresses, we see a sweet romance develop. 

The book has little relationship angst, other than both men being concerned about possible consequences with their shared family/friends if things don't work out. Marcus' ex shows up too to wreak havoc but doesn't get very far. Both men had some hang-ups they needed to work on, but once they made the decision to try, it worked out quite nicely.

I liked both characters, though I connected a bit more with Joel, as Marcus felt detached on occasion, and they were both drawn realistically and felt relatable. The supporting cast in Marcus' sister, Joel's best friend, and their daughter was also well done, and they played a huge role in getting Joel and Marcus to push past their fears and give their budding relationship a real shot. The pushy woman who tries to win Joel for herself (lol, he's gay) was a bit annoying on occasion, and I wasn't quite clear on her purpose, to be honest. I don't think she brought anything to the table, and I wouldn't have missed her, had she been removed from the book.

This is a feel-good book, one you'd read on a cold winter's day, curled up with a hot beverage, in your favorite chair. I enjoyed reading it, and I think you will too. Give it a try.


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

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