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review 2017-07-25 02:44
ARC Review: What The Cat Dragged In by B.A. Tortuga
What the Cat Dragged In (Sanctuary Book 2) - BA Tortuga

Whoever said cats and dogs don't get along hasn't met the feline and lupine shifters of this series. 

What a fun follow-up to the first book! Also, while this could be read as a standalone, you'd miss out if you didn't read about Sam (a panther) and Gus (a wolf) getting together in the first one.

In this book, we have Connor Ragbone, a bobcat shifter, and Brock Herman, a wolf shifter like Gus. 

Connor finds things. Something inside him pulls him in a certain direction, calling to him, even though he never knows what he might find when he answers that call. He never thought he'd have a permanent home base, being a bit of a loner, but he's found a place to come back to with Sam and Gus and their awesome family. 

His current call leads him to Brock. 

Brock Herman is self-sufficient, self-reliant, and basically also a loner. He's working undercover, trying to break up a poacher ring. He has no time for the bobcat that suddenly shows up in the middle of his ops, but the cat just won't leave him alone, dammit.

I laughed out loud so many times reading this book. Connor is a unique character, and I really enjoyed how much he trusts that inner voice calling him to his next find, and how laid back he was, never questioning whether following the call might end up with him in trouble or not.

Two loners - what could possibly go wrong, amirite?

Turns out Connor and Brock are mates, feeling that inexplicable pull toward each other, even if this doesn't fit with Brock's plans at all. The author did a great job not forcing the mating call, but letting Brock ("I work alone, dammit") come to terms with Connor's presence, despite his annoyance, and the romance develops slowly. Sure, UST and sexy times come fairly quickly, but the emotional bond takes time to grow. Well done, that. 

Connor was utterly adorable - I loved him from the start. He's quirky, funny, snarky, and super laid-back, but also quick to lend a hand, smart, and definitely loyal and courageous. His easy-going personality was well contrasted with Brock's more serious and focused personality, and I thought that the two men complemented each other rather well. They worked well as a team, which comes in handy when... nope, not gonna spoil this for you.

The story has action galore, what with the poacher ring, and bears in cages, which culminates in an edge-of-your-seat sequence of events that leaves Connor seriously injured, help from an unexpected source, and the villain... nah, you read this for yourself. 

The author did a fantabulous job with world building in this book and its predecessor, and the specific shifter mythology employed here worked really well for me. There's no magical healing, no mating bond compulsion, and no instant ILYs, but the book sure delivers what it promises - a feel good shifter romance. 

I can hardly wait for the next book in this series. 


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

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review 2017-07-19 01:35
Book Review: Not Safe For Work by L.A. Witt
Not Safe For Work - L.A. Witt
I snagged this when the author offered it for free a little while back, and devoured it as soon as I got a chance.

It exceeded my expectations!!

Now, I know LA Witt can write the sexy times, and I know that she will always, always, always make sure that her BDSM novels make it very clear indeed that while the Dom is in charge, the sub holds all the power. She takes the time to weave explanations about the lifestyle seamlessly into her books, and I cannot thank her enough for continuing to educate me and others what BDSM is really all about.

What pushed this book into 5 star territory though was the romance. Never mind the holy hot boysecks, what really impressed me here was the author's ability to convey how her characters felt, through their words and actions. She showed me their emotions, their fears, their joy - she didn't tell me. Told entirely from Jon's POV, we don't hear from Rick directly, but his character was well fleshed out just the same, and I felt a connection to him just as much as I connected with Jon.

Jon and Rick both have struggles to overcome, and Jon often carried a lot of weight on his shoulders (work issues, and paying for his kids' college education), but Rick was always supportive and understanding.

I loved every single minute I spend reading this book, cursing when work interfered, because I needed to keep reading, dammit, and follow Rick and Jon through their first realization that their kinks match up, through growing closer, through realizing that what they have is, while unexpected, exactly what they both need, and through the rough parts where they falter and stumble and nearly crash and burn.

This book is everything I could hope for in a romance novel. The conflict was exterior to the relationship, and I ranted out loud when Jon's employer did that thing they did, and I was enraged when Jon... no, you read this for yourself. 

Extra kudos for not having an evil ex-wife (Jon's ex-wife lives with him for financial reasons, and they are good friends, supportive of each other), and for having a wonderful supporting cast in Jon's co-workers that often made me laugh out loud. 

If you like your romance a bit on the kinky side (it's not overwhelmingly kinky, to be honest, and Rick is not a pain slut or a slave, and Jon isn't a sadist), then I would highly recommend you give this book a try. 

I loved it.
 
 

 

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review 2017-06-30 05:00
Release Day ARC Review: Manny Get Your Guy by Amy Lane
Manny Get Your Guy (Dreamspun Desires Book 37) - Amy Lane

This book is a sequel of sorts to The Virgin Manny, set about 10 years after the first book. If you've read the first book, you'll remember Nica, Tino's sister, and her now-husband Jacob/baby-daddy, who can't seem to stop procreating, as kid number five is on the way. And Nica needs help.

Thankfully, her best friend Taylor (he who was sort of dating Nica while hitting on Tino in book 1 while Tino was falling for Channing) is back in town, and 10 years is enough time to forgive and forget, right? Nica needs help with the kids, Taylor needs a job - voila, a new manny.

Except Brandon, Jacob's cousin, old enough at the time to remember Taylor being a douche, didn't get the "forgive and forget" memo, so he has some initial doubts about Taylor's good-guy persona and makes his concerns known. In his face. Multiple times

For some reason though, Brandon changes his mind quickly about Taylor and it's on like Donkey Kong. 

I quite liked both Taylor (29 here) and Brandon (22) because they actually really seemed to care about each other. Yeah, the love is pretty insta, but this is a Dreamspun Desires title so I kind of expect that. They did both step up to the plate though, providing each other what they needed, and Brandon, though younger, is certainly all in from the moment he gets his head out of his ass. Taylor is a bit more reluctant to jump in with both feet, and has some doubts that he's right for Brandon. Persistence pays off nonetheless, and eventually Taylor jumps too.

There's some cute banter too, and a lot of family time is woven into the plot as well, so much so that the romance almost took a backseat. The steam is within the limits set for this series, though I'm only mentioning this for those readers that like a lot of sexy times in their books - this isn't one of those. I myself don't care either way, as long as the relationship makes sense, and I don't miss the steam if it's not present. 

I would have liked there to be more interactions with the actual kids, considering Taylor is the manny, but with the exception of a few moments, it was mostly adults on page. 

This is billed as a standalone, but I wouldn't recommend reading this book on its own without having read the first one. Most of the characters in this book were established in the first one, and I think it's important for the reader to know the relationships since they're not explained in this book. 

Manny Get Your Guy is pure sugary-sweet fluff, and as such a perfect addition to this mostly fluffy series. I had a great time reading this.


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

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review 2017-06-16 01:59
Release Day ARC Review: Romancing The Ugly Duckling by Clare London
Romancing the Ugly Duckling (Dreamspun Desires Book 36) - Clare London

On the isolated island of North Uist, which is apparently off the coast of Scotland, there lives a man all by himself in a smallish house after running away from his assholish brothers and his neglectful parents to paint, dive for scallops, and be mostly a recluse, keeping to himself.

His four brothers, one of whom I hated on sight, all somewhat famous for some reason or other, hope to make a deal with a TV company to create a reality show a la Kardashians, but they can only get the deal if the 5th brother appears as well. Greg Ventura, gentle, kind giant, wants nothing to do with them or the TV show.

Poor Perry Goodwood (lulz at that last name), ambitious and fashionable, is sent by his boss to the island to convince Greg to come to London to participate. After a make-over, of course. He flies to Scotland and catches a boat to the island, and is then stranded at the port before being fortuitously delivered to Greg's doorstop, looking like a drowned rat. The team that was supposed to meet him to convince Greg to come to London is nowhere to be found, and Perry's boss is giving him a bunch of excuses.

Great start, amirite? City slicker meets backwoods grump, and opposites attract - excellent trope!

This book is full of cute and sweet and quirky, and as Perry slowly falls in love with the island and Greg, so does Greg fall for Perry. The setting is perfect, and rather well described, so much so that I felt like I was right there on the small island. There be heather and bogs and cold, cold lochs, and beautiful nature all around.

I really liked both Perry and Greg. Perry impressed me because despite his city roots, he really tried hard to fit in on the island, and he seemed so appreciative of everyone who gave a helping hand. He wanted to learn from Greg and experience island life for himself. Greg is a bit rough around the edges, and grumps a lot, but I could tell that this was mostly to protect himself. He was kind and gentle, if somewhat clueless on occasion. The chemistry between the two men was there from the start and truly believable. There are certain parameters for this series as far as on-page sexy times are concerned, and the author delivered within those parameters, but also managed to infuse a lot of emotional bonding outside of the bedroom scenes.

The locals on the island play a huge role in this book as well, and I just loved how the author gave them all unique personalities and characteristics. Dougie, Bridie, and Louisa were perfect in their roles, and I enjoyed especially Bridie's easy banter with Perry, and how she was ultimately... well, you read this for yourself.

The Scottish brogue comes across well in the writing, and I had no trouble reading the dialect.

Quirky. Cute. And utterly adorable. A perfect addition to the Dreamspun Desires series. I had a grand time reading it. The author did a fantastic job with the characters, the setting, and the pacing, giving us a really emotional romance between two men who are complete opposites at first sight, but turn out to both want the same thing after all.

Fabulous!!


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

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review 2017-06-07 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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