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review 2017-03-10 21:53
Review: "The Imperfection of Swans" by Brandon Witt
The Imperfection of Swans - Brandon Witt

"He was more than a pretty face, this Kevin Bivanti. Maybe he was worth crying over in a bathroom. “Because of fate. We have to have both. Fate and hard work. And the willingness to leap."

 

This was even more wonderful in the reread. So I'm bumping up my initial rating from 4.5 to 5 stars while also putting this gem on my "favorite" shelf.

 

If this book was a wedding dress, it would have been designed by Vera Wang.

 

 

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

First read: January 28th, 2016

1st reread: March 10th, 2017

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review 2017-03-05 18:23
Review: "Fast Connection" (Cyberlove, #2) by Megan Erickson & Santino Hassell
Fast Connection - Megan Erickson,Santino Hassell

"She shook her head. "He seems like he's the opposite of simple."

I snorted. He's completely complicated. And lost. And frustrating. But we do something for each other." I intertwined my fingers. "We fit. We need each other."

 

The first book in this series, Strong Signal, was already close to perfection for me. But this? THIS WAS GODDAMNED EVERYTHING. I really don't think you can write a better story about imperfect characters with realistic problems and reasonable motivations and actions.

 

This book reminded again why the "fuck buddies-to-lovers" trope is such a favorite of mine. I just LOVE the concept of "lust first, feelings later". When what was supposed to be just a casual hookup with no strings attached becomes a regular arrangement, then feelings (oh, those damn feelings) are beginning to sneak their way in, slowly but unavoidably. With jealousy, possessiveness and all. Ugh, so good.

 

 

Usually, once the MCs got together in my books, I lose interest. Very quickly, very thoroughly. Sure, it's nice to see how they manage their everyday life (family, friends, work) now that they're in a new relationship, but I already know that life is hard and complicated and I don't want to read about it. It unnerves me.

 

But that wasn't the case here. Not at all. I loved the first part of the story (the "getting together" part) just as much as the second part (the "handling RL together" part). The sex scenes in the first half were nothing but smoking HAWT (not really a big shocker if you're familiar with these authors' other works), and the (multiple) family dramas in the second half were realistic and believable. And thankfully not too angsty.

 

 

I can't really say anything more or add anything else that hasn't been said already in other reviews. This was a solid 5 star-book for me, it goes onto my "favorites" shelf and I can't recommend it highly enough.

 

"Named a Best Romance of the Year by The Washington Post"? Well, consider me NOT surprised. Absolutely rightful and deserved.

 

Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell, I salute you.

 

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review 2017-01-15 18:39
Review: "Violated" by Jamie Fessenden
Violated - Jamie Fessenden

"I like you, Russ. A lot. You’re a great guy, and you deserve to be with somebody who can hold you and make love to you—"

Russ held up a hand to quiet him. "Sorry. I think I got some dog hair clogging up my ear or something. That whole last sentence was just ‘blah, blah, blah.’ I didn’t hear anything after ‘I like you, Russ. A lot.’"

Derek stared at him for a long moment. Then a shy smile slowly crept across his face. "That’s okay. I didn’t really say anything after that."

 

Trigger warning: on-page sexual abuse & male rape!

 

Judging from the serious topic and the blurb, I was prepared to be left with my heart crushed when I finished this book. And I'm not gonna lie, this was NOT an easy read. Far from it.

 

But even though Derek's sufferings made me angry, raging, feeling frustrated and outraged most of the time, I've never once felt actually depressed or hopeless.

 

And that's because of two things:

 

1. RUSS

 

Sweet, patient, supporting and comforting Russ. Russ, who was just desperately looking for love and a serious relationship, for "a nice guy who likes dogs and cuddling". Russ, who couldn't have stepped into Derek's life at a more convenient time. Russ, who took my heart by storm and instantly became one of my all-time favorite characters ever.

 

 

2. Jamie Fessenden's writing

 

The writing was very strong, and it handled the difficult subject of male rape and its fallout very well, with a lot of respect and dignity. There was just the right balance between the "hurt" and the "comfort" parts of the story. It was a satisfying and great read overall. Well done, Mr. Fessenden. Very well done, indeed.

 

 

So if you're mentally prepared for a tough and challenging read with a sensitive subject, you should give this book a chance. The author handled the heavy topic of male rape realistically and respectfully, but there were also enough sweet, tender and romantic moments between Derek and Russ to make your heart still go all "Awwww!".

 

This is an outstanding book. An important book. A book that will be staying with me for a long time. It gets a million stars from me.

 

 

Highly, highly recommended!

 

Thanks to Julie for the BR!

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review 2016-12-30 16:49
Review: "Connection Error" (#gaymers, #3) by Annabeth Albert
Connection Error - Annabeth Albert

"God bless naked Twister."

Hooyah! I am bursting with joy right now. What better way to end the year than with a 5-star read?

 

 

It's impossible to write a proper review without giving away any spoilers. I went into this book with only the information from the blurb and without having read any reviews and I highly recommend that you do the same!

 

This is one of those cases where it definitely pays out to go into a book blindly, because there was a HUGE twist/revelation quite early in the story (chapter 2, at 9% on my Kindle) which dominated the rest of the book. I can only imagine that the author didn't want to give this information away in the blurb so that the reader can take this journey together with the MC Josiah from the beginning. AND IT WORKED! I was totally taken aback when I got to that point.

 

 

What I can tell you though is that I loved the way the two MCs Josiah and Ryan have been written and how their relationship progressed oh so ever slowly and full of banter, sexual innuendos and emails. I just LOVED how Josiah didn't hold back his attraction towards Ryan from the very first moment they've met and how he slowly but surely tore down Ryan's walls and made him see that it's OK to not just give, but also accept comfort from other people. This truly was hurt/comfort at its best.

 

The - in romance novels unavoidable - relationship conflict towards the end was surprisingly and refreshingly realistic and absolutely convincing. It was the natural climax the story was building up to from the start, and it was resolved just perfectly. I was SO relieved that it wasn't just one of those big misunderstanding arguments (ugh!) or - even worse! - another "I'm not good enough for you, so I'm breaking up with you." (UGH!) BS moment.

 

 

Connection Error can definitely be read as a standalone; you don't need to read the first two books from that series to understand what's going on. But I recommend that you do, because I liked those stories just as well. But this one turned out to be my favorite of the series so far.

 

 

One last shout-out to Sean Crisden for giving another outstanding audiobook performance. If you get the chance, you should listen to the audiobook because it took an already great book and made it even more perfect.

 

 

Highly, highly recommended! And thanks to Marte for the BR!

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2016-10-25 19:04
Review: "Afterimage" (In the Company of Shadows, #2) by Sonny & Ais
Afterimage - Ais,Santino Hassell

"So why aren't the two of you gay together anymore?"

~Emilio~

 

*** SPOILER ALERT! ***

*** THIS IS NOT A DRILL! ***

*** SPOILER ALERT! ***

 

Ok, NOW we're fucking talking!

 

While I stand by my (very correct) opinion on "Evenfall" (too long, too repetitive, too many unnecessary details/events/chapters), you'll just have to trust me on this:

 

"Afterimage" surpasses its predecessor in every way!

 

 

Part of my struggle with this series is that just when I had decided that maybe it might not be for me, it had to go and give me one of the most emotional reads in months that left me completely satisfied. But on the other hand? I'M AN EMOTIONAL MESS RIGHT NOW.

 

 

The writing was noticeably tighter and faster-paced than in the first book, and it managed to convince me that this series really is as good as everyone claims it is.

 

 

The reason why “Afterimage” was so incredible is that it gave me all the angst, emotions and ugly tears while also remaining to give me a totally fascinating view into not just one (deeply damaged) character's head, but two.

 

 

I was so frustrated at times with Boyd and Sin's actions and behavior that I screamed. I SCREAMED.

 

That idiotic thing with Ann, Sin? And your reasons for it? That was some rude ‘tude, dude. Especially when I'm pretty sure that you very well KNOW the definition of cheating since you talked about it in "Evenfall", you stupid fucking idiot. (But also, farewell for now until the next book, you mega-dreamboat. #TeamSin)

 

 

That idiotic thing with Kassian, Boyd? It was definitely HAWT, I'll give you that. But also, what a hell of a way to deeply hurt Sin, you asshat.

 

 

The secondary characters remain a pleasure to behold. Ryan, Kassian (I don’t know about you, but I DEFINITELY ship these two), Carhart and also all of the Level 10 trainees.

 

 

And let's not forget about Emilio. I lolled so hard whenever he opened his shameless and unfiltered mouth. His addition to this series is a gift, a treasure, and I had to put down my Kindle at the end of the book and smile out the window for a minute, he just made me that happy.

 

 

Guys, what a great and emotional series this is turning out to be. “Afterimage” was exactly the addictive and mind-blowing book that I've been waiting for. It not only rectified all my complaints from "Evenfall", but paid off with compelling plot lines, captivating suspense and fascinating characterizations.

 

 

I just can’t quit you, ICoS!

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