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review 2017-09-15 11:00
ARC Review: Be My Best Man by Con Riley
Be My Best Man - Con Riley

Con Riley never disappoints, and this author just keeps getting better and better.

 

In Be My Best Man, Con not only gives us a beautiful romance, but also head-on tackles one of the big current social issues.

 

Vanya, early 20s, has fled his home country of Russia nearly eight months ago when he was found out as being gay and violently beaten because of his sexuality. Now in Britain, still traumatized and scared, his dreams of becoming a teacher dashed, he is waiting to get this asylum request approved so he can be granted the ability to have a job and earn an income. In his current limbo, though finally safe from persecution for his sexuality, he lives in a run-down hostel where he has befriended a young man and woman from Estonia, who are both in Britain legally as EU citizens but whose status under Brexit is also uncertain. The hostel is not really safe either, though Vanya shares a room with his friend Kaspar. Theft is rampant. Rooms are broken into. Women fear being assaulted.

The author created a character that I immediately connected with. Vanya struggles to learn English, practicing whenever and wherever he can, and his struggles were authentic and realistic. His loneliness was evident, and I felt for him right away.

 

Jason is a man in his early forties, who's recently had a falling out with his foster brother Andrew over the brother's recent engagement and wedding plans. See, it's the 3rd wedding, and Jason, without even meeting the girl in question, has already decided that this is just another mistake. He too felt lonely to me, when he was first introduced, despite being rather successful in his business, and it was fairly clear to me that he was shaped by his childhood experiences and didn't really trust anyone, other than his late foster mother and foster brother.

 

The meet-cute happens in the department store where Kaspar works and Vanya is visiting after his latest asylum appointment and Jason is hiding to wait for a call or text from Andrew. Jason thinks Vanya works in the store, and Vanya wants to practice his English. And get to know the hunky older man.

 

Jason's wrong assumption leads to him hiring Vanya as his personal shopper, and the two begin spending time together. This is where the story really begins to take shape.


Con Riley combined the sweet yet complicated romance that develops between these two men with the social issue of asylum seekers who have no legal standing, are usually running from persecution, scared to death, having to learn the customs of a country so foreign to them, and being generally looked down upon by many people. Vanya's plight, his uncertain status before asylum is granted, his internalized shame, was heart-breaking, and I wanted to reach into the book and hug him and protect him. He keeps a huge secret from Jason, and this secret nearly breaks them.

 

Jason on the other hand is oblivious to Vanya's struggles for a long time, not intentionally of course, but he doesn't realize how traumatized the young man is. He also doesn't realize for a long time how much he's hurting Andrew and his future wife, and how his distrust of Andrew knowing his own heart is jeopardizing the remaining piece of family he has. But he learns. Under Vanya's attention, Jason begins to question decisions he's made, and how wrong he might have been. With Vanya in his life, Jason starts to believe that love might be real after all. He goes to finally meet Andrew's lovely young fiancee, and he begins to see how much they are truly in love, to the point where he even steps in to... well, no, you read this yourself.

 

The author has an extraordinary talent in giving life to the characters and making them feel real. Vanya's skittishness, Jason's irrational anger (born out of heartache), the social circumstances, Vanya making huge mistakes born out of fear - everything in this book was absolutely realistic and relatable.

 

This book (and the romance) flows slowly, and it needs to. Trauma such as Vanya's takes time to overcome. Jason's disbelief in lasting love can't just suddenly disappear. They are both shaped by their experiences, and since neither feels safe to talk freely and openly about their fears, they don't have an easy path to their HEA.

 

Writing their story in the third person present tense was also a stroke of genius, because this reader felt even more connected to the characters this way. Read every word carefully - this isn't a book you can speed-read. You must savor every carefully crafted sentence, every brilliant paragraph, and let the story unfold in real time to get the full impact. Vanya's English is heavily accented, and it's written in such a way, that I could easily "hear" him speaking the words.

 

I cried a few times. I wanted Jason to pull his head out of his ass. I wanted to shield Vanya from the big, bad world and give him shelter. I loved these characters, I loved this story, and I absolutely highly recommend that you read it.

 

Get to it.

 


** I received a free copy of this book from Signal Boost Promotions as part of the review tour for an honest and fair review. **

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photo 2017-06-01 18:55

So this amazing package arrived in my mailbox from author Megan Hart after I posted my review for Touched by Passion complaining about how Netgalley sent me a partial book. She contacted me via Twitter to see if I'd like to read the entire book and then she went and added in all of these other books. How awesome is she? Especially considering the fact that my review was, eh, honest. I always get a little nervous when an author contacts me after I write a review that is less than 5 stars (which is most of them) but she was gracious and generous when she could've easily ignored me or worse! Anyway, just wanted to let you all know that she's a good one :)  

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review 2017-05-27 21:24
Nice Work If You Can Get It, Celia Imrie
Nice Work (If You Can Get It) - Celia Imrie

I enjoyed this book although it took a while to get into the story. I received this book for free and voluntarily chose to review it. My problem was keeping all the characters sorted. There were so many characters. This story did have a lot of action and interesting things going on. And although there were a lot of characters, they seemed to weave altogether. So this was part fun, part action and interaction and a real interesting ending.

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text 2016-12-23 12:44
A SALE & A GIVEAWAY!!
Shattered Blue - Lauren Bird Horowitz

 

One of my FAVORITE books is the Kindle Daily Deal today! You can snag your copy of Shattered Blue today for only $1.99!! AND as if that wasn't awesome enough...after you get your copy you can send proof of purchase  (confirmation number or screenshot) to thelighttrilogy@yahoo.com to be entered in the giveaway from author Lauren Bird Horowitz to win an ARC of the sequel RENEGADE RED way before it is available for anyone else! You don't want to miss this awesome deal! 

 

Grab your copy of Shattered Blue on sale here: http://amzn.to/1Ln5dMe

 

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review 2016-12-06 05:00
Nice Work (If You Can Get It) - Celia Imrie

This was a fun and entertaining read. It had the glitz and glamour of Cannes, the excitement of 4 ex pats opening a restaurant, the suspense of someone breaking in at night and a millionaire (or was he) Russian vying for everyone's trust and attention. It just had a little bit of everything.

A lighthearted read that was refreshing to read after reading about five mystery/thrillers and one true crime book. It came around just in time.

The characters were mostly fun and there were definitely some laughs. There were also some quirky ones and some that would definitely get on my nerves if I had to spend a lot time with them. All in all it was just a fun and enjoyable read that I certainly loved.

Thanks to Bloomsbury for approving my request and to Net Galley for providing me with a free e-galley in exchange for an honest review.

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