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review 2018-10-05 00:23
ARC Review: The Nerd And The Prince by B.G. Thomas
The Nerd And The Prince - B.G. Thomas

It's a very romantic notion, isn't it - you're a small-town nerdy bookstore/cafe owner, and a prince-in-hiding comes to town and sweeps you off your feet, whisking you away from your mundane life into a world of castles and royalty and legends, to live happily ever after. 

Adam/Amadeo Montefalcone, Prince of Monterosia (a tiny fictional kingdom somewhere bordering Italy), has come to the small town of Buckman, MO, where Jason, nerdy bookworm, lives. Adam is running from his responsibilities as the Crown Prince, and from being married off to some poor unsuspecting woman for whom he would hold no love or desire. Because Amadeo is gay, and after being almost caught in flagrante on his knees in a dark alley, he feels that he just needs to get away.

His younger brother has helped him escape to the US, obtaining a small house that just happens to be next to Jason's bookstore/cafe/apartment. Jason Evander Brewster has no illusions of grandeur, and while he's not exactly flaunting his sexuality, he's not exactly hiding it either. He had a clandestine thing with Timothy who's deep in the closet, but that's long over, and Jason is still nursing a bit of a broken heart. His dreams are traveling the world, finding adventure and a love like a fairy tale.

This is a sweet, almost too sweet romance. Jason's personality is a bit underdeveloped, especially when viewed against Adam's larger than life joviality and worldliness. The romance is obviously rapid and swept-off-your-feet, and the emotions just drip off the pages. Adam is a perfect human specimen, with a god-like physique and model looks, and Jason is your stereotypical small-town nerd with expressive eyes, who doesn't believe he even has a chance at such a perfect creature. It's just enough over the top to not veer into ridiculous territory, and none of it feels realistic - but then most of the books in this Harlequin-esque series aren't to be taken super seriously. They're grand romance fairy tales, fantasies, and should be read as such - a way to spend a few joyful hours, forgetting about reality. 

The book also contains a plethora of information about Greek mythology, which was delightful, and a bunch of Italian phrases that I mostly understood, which was not so delightful. For most of them, a translation is readily provided as part of the narrative or dialogue, and I suppose it fit Amadeo, as that is his primary language, but it became slightly too much after a while. It's never easy to include a foreign language; surely appropriate when one of your MCs is a native to that foreign country, but it can also be tedious for the reader. 

While there is a wee bit of drama/angst, it's minor, and only really happens toward the end - the romance between Jason and Adam is completely angst-free - the two spot each other, fall in lust and then in love. I did appreciate that the author did allow them to get to know each other, instead of simply jumping into bed for a romp in the sheets. 

The finale and the subsequent HEA (obligatory in this series) in the epilogue were both well done. The solution to Adam's dilemma was rather obvious, so I wasn't surprised at all when that came to pass. The way of getting there however was interesting.

I enjoyed reading this book. It's a sweet, easy romance, with two likable MCs, a good supporting cast, and a lovely way to spend a few hours of your time. 


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

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review 2018-07-09 00:31
ARC Review: Stranger In A Foreign Land by Michael Murphy
Stranger In A Foreign Land - Michael Murphy
*sighs*

I hate writing negative reviews. 

Unfortunately, in the case of Stranger In A Foreign Land, there isn't a whole lot of good I can say. I liked the blurb, and the premise sounded promising.

The execution however left much to be desired. 

My first issue was with the amnesia itself, I suppose. While I completely bought the part where Patrick loses his memories, wakes up and doesn't know who he is, where he is, or how he got there - I bought that. I also agreed that it is likely extremely scary to wake up in a strange place with no memories of what got you there, and that you might fear for your life.

However, that does not mean that the loss of your memories also means the loss of your personality, or that a grown man suddenly becomes no more than a child in his actions and reactions. Limiting him to short sentences, with dialogue that felt stilted and unrealistic, didn't do him any favors. His actions didn't make a whole lot of sense to me either. 

Similarly, Jack is also not clearly defined beyond being Australian and having lived in Thailand illegally for 16 years, after having run away from Australia for some unclear reason, possibly related to his being gay, though how Thailand is better in that aspect, I don't know. While Jack rescues Patrick/Buddy and gives him a place to stay, and tries to figure out who Buddy really is, I never really got to know Jack either, outside of his easy-going nature, and his ethics. 

There is some sex as Jack and Buddy/Patrick have to share the one bed in Jack's ramshackle house, though it doesn't happen right away, and thankfully did not feel icky, as if Buddy felt obliged to repay Jack with his body for being fed and clothed and sheltered. Still, I felt as if Buddy clung to Jack only because there was no one else who spoke English, and no one else he felt somewhat safe with, so the romance was limited for me. While I didn't get the feeling that Jack was using Buddy for sex, I also didn't feel that Buddy/Patrick was in full control of his emotions and mental capacity to make the decisions he did. 

The 2nd half of the book, when Jack finds Patrick's brother, and Patrick reluctantly flies home to LA to meet the parents of whom he has no recollection, and the rude and aggressive behavior displayed towards these people he admittedly doesn't remember, really turned me against Patrick, and I no longer had any real sympathy for him. 

The ending, reuniting Jack and Patrick, left much to be desired. There was no mention of Patrick regaining his memories. There was no mention of how they can logistically be together, or any resolution of the issues they are still facing. It just ended. 

The writing itself isn't terrible, though dialogue is stilted and inorganic, and the sentences are somewhat choppy. What I did enjoy were the descriptions of the tropical locale, the seemingly authentic views of Bangkok and the surrounding areas. I though that the author did a fine job with those. 

This book didn't work for me. YMMV. 


** I received a free copy from the publisher. A positive review was not promised in return. **
 
 

 

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review 2018-03-07 01:38
Release Day ARC Review: Cowboy In The Crosshairs by B.A. Tortuga
Cowboy in the Crosshairs - B.A. Tortuga

Once upon a time, i.e. 10 years or so prior, Wacey, oldest son of the local rodeo company owners, and TJ were a couple in secret. TJ wasn't ready to come out as gay in their small town and also wanted what everyone else had - a wife and a couple of kids. They broke up and Wacey left town right after, hurt and angry, and they haven't spoken since. TJ married, had two kids, and then came clean to his now ex-wife about how he likes men more so than women.

That's the backstory of their relationship. I just love the second chance at love stories, so this one was right up my alley. I also love when the romance isn't all dramatic and full of angst, and I got that here too.

The story begins with TJ, sitting in the diner, doing his Chief of Police thing with the locals, including calming down some old biddie complaining about some art work on the side of house, when he's told that Wacey got hurt real bad and is coming home to the ranch to recuperate. TJ is still mad at Wacey for not coming home for so long, and Wacey wants nothing to do with his old boyfriend.

Obviously that doesn't last for long, as weird things happening at the Bene ranch keep throwing them into each other's path.

Someone apparently has it out for Wacey.

I just love me some good cowboy loving, and this author always delivers the goods. This was such a charming romance, and I adored both MCs. Their relationship was easy-peasy, and once TJ made up his mind to woo Wacey into his bed again, he was relentless in his pursuit.

The mystery/suspense was also really well done, with the incidents getting worse and worse and the suspense building, and nobody having any idea who might be behind it all. I had an inkling about halfway through about the villain, and though I thought that the reason for the villainy might have been a wee bit far-fetched, it's hard to say what might go on in such a mind.

The author's writing style also really worked for this story, and the dialogue felt organic for the setting and the characters.

This is a feel-good second-chance-at-love story with two likable main characters and a great supporting cast. Though, naming your kids Wacey, Lacey, Macey, and Kacey - I feel I must either question your sanity or applaud your sick sense of humor.

Give this a try, y'all. Definitely worth your time.


** 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 2018-01-05 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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