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review 2017-12-07 00:38
ARC Review: A Christmas Promise by K.C. Wells
A Christmas Promise - K.C. Wells

It's no secret to anyone who follows and/or knows me that I adore the books this author writes, and this Christmas story is no exception.

The book begins with Micah Trant, early 20s, driving home at night, in the snow, somewhere in Wyoming, when the lights of his car shine upon what looks to be just a bundle of clothing. Micah stops the car and realizes that he has found a badly beaten young man who's nearly frozen to death. 

Micah immediately takes the young man to the nearest hospital and refuses to leave him. Greg, the young man, may be a stranger, but Micah will not abandon him alone in a hospital, and certainly not once he finds out the extent of Greg's injuries. 

Greg came to Wyoming to deliver a letter from his late father to Joshua Trant - who just happens to be Micah's father. Once that information is revealed, both Micah and Joshua convince Greg to come home with them to recuperate. Micah and his father and sister are still grieving the loss of their mother and wife not quite two years ago, while Greg is still struggling with the more recent loss of his father and the many years he missed out on truly knowing the man, since he was so very young when they divorced. 

This story is a sweet and quiet romance as feelings start to develop between Micah and Greg, and also a tale of lost love, not just once but twice, bittersweet memories and grief for what might have been, if it hadn't been for societal norms and disapproving parents. It's about family, the one you're born into and the one you choose for yourself. It's about missing what you've lost, but also learning to live again. 

Joshua, Micah's father, and Naomi, Micah's younger sister, play a huge role in this book as well - the focus isn't on the slowly developing romance - and they were both very supportive of Micah, his art, and his sexuality. I would love for Joshua to get his own story in a future book, one in which he learns to open himself up to living again and perhaps finding someone to spend the rest of his life with. My heart broke while reading about his grief, and the deep and abiding love he had for both Greg's father when they were mere teenage boys, and his wife, whom he lost too soon.

There are many poignant moments within, and as days turn into weeks, and the Trants and Greg prepare for Christmas, the story becomes about shared laughs and smiles, and finding joy again.

This is not a story filled with sexy times - while Micah may be a bit more experienced than Greg, neither has been in a relationship before, and Greg has only recently come to terms with his own sexuality. He's not out to his mother, and never had a chance to come out to his father either. There are tentative hugs that turn into sweet kisses and nights spent in the same bed, cuddling. And it's not about the sex - I think having Micah and Greg go at it repeatedly and explicitly would have been very detrimental to the story and the message of this book.

I think this book truly showcases the talent of this author - conveying real emotions with realistic, fully developed and complex characters that the reader can connect with and cheer on. 

Recommend holiday reading!


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

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review 2017-12-03 02:27
Release Day ARC Review: High Test by Elizabeth Noble
High Test (Dreamspun Desires Book 47) - Elizabeth Noble

Fluffy romance between a grad student and a rich, older man of Indian descent with hints of Cinderfella.

 

Hayden, the grad student, is working an alumni/sponsor event for his university, where he meets Neal, the rich guy. There's some apparent assumption on Neal's part that Hayden's last name, Owens, means he belongs to the Owens family of coffee house fame. Hayden doesn't get a chance to correct that assumption, and after a dance at the event, he must rush to catch his bus. Cinderfella, right? Leaving after the dance?

 

And Hayden also forgets to exchange contact information with Neal. No matter, because Neal knows where Hayden works, so the coffee house, it is.

 

They have another date, and still don't exchange phone numbers.

 

The book continues in this fashion for a while, with Hayden thinking that Neal believes he's related to the owners of the coffee house chain, but not finding an opportunity to correct Neal and confess that he's just a poor grad student barely scraping by.

 

I liked that the author gave Neal an Indian background - diversity is appreciated.

 

There's just a lot in this book I didn't like. I don't mind an age gap, and that wasn't my issue here either, but Hayden sounded and in some instances acted younger than he should have, and Neal kind of steamrolled him toward the end - I didn't appreciate that.

The two explicit sex scenes allowed under the provision of the Dreamspun Desires titles felt clinical, robotic, and unemotional. I got Tab A inserted into Slot B, but there was just no chemistry and no connection to be felt. As a matter of fact, I was only told about their connection - I wasn't really shown that they had one.

 

The writing itself and the plot progression were fine for the most part. I didn't like the bitchy female (the jilted woman from the blurb, who wasn't actually jilted at all, because Neal never even had a relationship with her), whose only purpose was to cause trouble between Hayden and Neal, and I didn't like the ridiculous "meet-the-parents" dinner with Neal's parents. They were utterly rude, for no particular reason other than their homophobia and Hayden's age. Hayden's mom was a sweetheart, though. I liked both Hayden and Neal - they were both nice, kind, thoughtful people.

 

Overall, 3 stars, primarily for the writing which was engaging, except the intimate scenes, as well as the overall flow of the story. YMMV.

 

 


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

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review 2017-10-16 00:47
Release Day ARC review: The Fireman's Pole by Sue Brown
The Fireman's Pole - Sue Brown

This book is pure fluff. Which, let's be honest, fits perfectly within the Dreamspun Desires titles. And the cheeky title - hahahaha!

Here we have Dale, a firefighter who recently moved into the little village of Calminster, still smarting from a bad break-up with his closeted, cheating ex, hoping to lick his wounds and put his hopes and dreams for that relationship behind him. Unwilling to be in the closet himself, he's open about his sexuality, but has no aspirations to find himself another boyfriend.

Called out for a fire on his first shift, he manages to rescue the homeowner, a sweet elderly woman, and draw the ire of his Lordship at the same time. Shortly thereafter, he backs the big fire engine into the maypole, which was originally erected by his Lordship's great-great-grandfather. So, having blown his opportunity for making a good first impression, Dale offers to fix the pole in hopes to calm down Ben, Lord Calminster, who is behaving like an ass both during the fire and after Dale's unfortunate mishap with the big fire truck and the maypole. 

Don't expect any kind of realistic or believable relationship development - there's none. 

Ben, the lord of the manor, has kept his own sexuality hidden to the point where he's got a girlfriend/beard. Of course, he takes one look at our hunky firefighter, feels the stirring in his loins and finds the backbone to break things off with the woman he's been dating. 

Dale was a nice guy, and I liked him. Ben, once he removed the stick from his ass, was a nice guy too. I liked him fine as well. 

It's just that nothing here between Ben and Dale felt anything close to realistic. Dale states that he's still hurting from the break-up and doesn't want to fall in bed with yet another closeted man, but then shortly thereafter dismisses that notion and jumps right in with Ben. 

Ben apparently, after meeting and tongue-lashing Dale twice, is willing to risk a whole lot for the possibility of being with Dale. Perhaps exchanging angry words with the firefighter turns him on. 

There's a bit of mystery here with someone unknown setting fires all over the village, a subplot that culminates in an edge of your seat sequence of events that not only casts Dale as a hero again but also firmly pulls Ben right out of that closet for good. 

Since I usually suspend disbelief whenever I read one of the Dreamspun Desires titles and don't expect anything realistic, I didn't mind the rapid development of the romantic relationship. What I did mind however is that we're merely told these two men have the hots for each other - we're not actually shown that they do - so this book ended up in three star territory. Sure, there are sexy times within, but I didn't really feel their passion - I was only told about it.

Still an enjoyable read that fits perfectly within this harlequin-esque series. 


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

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review 2017-10-03 01:59
Release Day ARC Review: The Bunny And The Billionaire by Louisa Masters
The Bunny and the Billionaire (Dreamspun Desires Book 43) - Louisa Masters

This is such a Harlequin-esque book. I mean, seriously, this one lays it on super thick, and as such fits the Dreamspun Desires series to a T.

Here we have Ben Adams, a nurse from Australia, who recently inherited a large sum of money (and when I say large, I mean LARGE) from the old lady whom he looked after for some time, and whom he still misses. Never having known wealth, Ben decides on a tour of Europe but still counting his pennies and saving money where possible. 

While in Monaco, he meets Leo Artois, the billionaire from the book's title, who's never known a day without wealth, seeing how his mother is a princess and his father is not only fabulously wealthy but also almost French royalty or something of the sort. 

Why Leo insists on calling Ben Bunny all the time escaped me. Leo, as well as his circle of friends, come across as the sort of people who never had to work a day in their lives and who think nothing of spending money whenever they please. 

Ben only planned to stay in Monaco for a few days before heading to Italy, but after meeting Leo, and the instant attraction he feels for the man, he decides to stay a while longer. 

What I liked about this book is that Ben isn't shy about pointing out to Leo how wasteful spending isn't impressive to him, and that Leo make concessions for Ben's point of view on money issues, but also teaches him that some things are worth the money they cost and introduces him to some of the finer things in life that most mortals will never be able to afford. 

Ben, despite his substantial inheritance, is still a normal guy and tries to impress that normalcy on Leo. 

I believed their holiday fling. Their attraction burned brightly from the start, and I bought that Leo was fascinated with Ben, and vice versa, but their HEA romance - nah. Didn't believe it. They had so little in common, and despite Ben's new wealth, their social circles and life experiences didn't really mesh for me at all. Ben was too normal whereas Leo was way more sophisticated and often came across as someone whose illusions of entitlement were showing. Ben came across as uncomfortable with the OTT displays of wealth Leo and his circle found normal, and that doesn't make for a life-long romance. I mean, obviously with this series, disbelief must be suspended most of the time anyway, but the romance should still be something that resonates. And here, it sadly didn't, for me. YMMV.

The writing was pretty good; the dialogue was believable (with some snark, yay) for how the two men were characterized, and I'm interested in reading more by this author.



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

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review 2017-09-21 09:23
I loved the Irish history and legends that coursed through this book
The Shadows - Megan Chance

I went into this book with a little trepidation. Despite normally not doing so, I had managed to stumble across a few of the other Goodreads reviews before I started, and they weren't all glowing. Pacing seemed to be a major concern from a number of reviewers and lack of plot driven excitement. 

Well, I'm happy to say that while the story as a whole was slow, I didn't find it dull. When working with trilogies or series it can be difficult to get the world building and plot driver levels correct to keep your readers engaged and provide the information they need. 

Megan managed to introduce a large cast of characters, each with complex backgrounds in a way that didn't overwhelm the reader, provided teaser information and whetted the appetite for books 2 and 3. 

Complexity of characters was lacking in some of the later introduced characters, but I'm sure they'll be explored in more detail in the next book/s. The main cast had quite a lot of time to unfold their natures to the reader and do so in a manner that I don't really trust yet, but I feel that was the intention. 

It feels to me that Megan will portray a character in a certain way to start, only to have that original idea smashed by some later revelation. This is quite ingenious as it allows for character growth that the reader experiences too.

I loved the Irish history and legends that coursed through this book and long to delve further into the Sidhe and Fianna. 

The biggest blow to this book was the love triangle. I am hoping it is redeemed later in the trilogy, but I'm not holding my breath.

**Note: I was provided an electronic copy of this book through NetGalley in return for an honest review**

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