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review 2018-10-05 01:11
Book Review: A Springful Of Winters by Dawn Sister
A Springful Of Winters - Dawn Sister

It's not easy to write a compelling story about a neuro-divergent character that at once rings true and never veers into stereotypical territory.

It is clear early on that Kit is not neuro-typical. A bit socially awkward, as most social norms don't make sense to him, he has come to rely on a plethora of lists and contingency plans that allow him to venture into the world without becoming entirely overwhelmed. 

The book opens with a quick introduction to Kit, where we find ourselves seeing the world from his POV. The past year has been difficult for Kit. He lost his mother, who was his champion, and then his boyfriend, who was a bit of a jerk. And now Winter isn't quite done yet, even though the calendar says Spring has sprung, and Kit just cannot with the snow that's falling on this first day of Spring. 

I immediately loved Kit - his sweet and gentle nature, his love for his dog, his sadness, his outrage at the betrayal of snow in Spring, all served to make me want to hug him and tell him it would all be okay. 

Kit's neuro-divergence (he's on the autism spectrum) is never presented as a hindrance. It is, it exists. He makes it work for him, he tries to find reason and sense in an unreasonable and non-sensical world. He relies on Bessie, his service dog, and Yenta, an older woman who's his employer/landlord, and who treats him as the treasure he is. It is immediately clear that Kit loves Yenta, and Yenta loves Kit. 

Early on, a scene involving his service dog, who mostly listens, but in this scene doesn't, brings Kit to a location for which he has no contingency plan. This particular adventure serves as the catalyst to Kit meeting the man with eyes like the Spring.

And then he meets him again, during an unfortunate accident involving Kit's bike and the man's car door, and a bruised backside. 

While both incidents are humorous, they never felt as if we're expected to laugh at Kit. I giggled at the situations he finds himself in. He gets flustered because he's intrigued by the man with the eyes like Spring, and all of his contingency plans didn't prepare him for falling in love. The book gives insight into what may be termed the struggle neuro-divergent people have to deal with - not only because they have to make sense of a world that doesn't, but also because the world doesn't usually accommodate that what is not typical. 

Stephan, the man with eyes like the Spring, isn't portrayed as a hero who saves poor Kit - not all all. I think Stephan recognizes the beauty within Kit, the amazing person he is, and he falls just as hard. He rolls with the punches, he fits himself into the world Kit has created for himself, he listens intensely, and he celebrates Kit as a person. 

It's a poignant story, at novella-length, and I enjoyed it immensely. The writing is superb, and the author packs a fabulous story into a few pages. It's a quick read, but it stayed with me long after I closed the file on my e-reader. 

Fabulous, just fabulous. Recommended.

 

 

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

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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 2018-10-01 01:39
ARC Review: Raising The Bar by Leigh Dillon
Raising The Bar - Leigh Dillon

I liked this a lot. It's a quick read, at under 100 pages, and it has one fabulous horse inside.

There are actually three MCs in this book - Destin, the horse farm's owner, Tonio, the horse rider who comes to the farm to help Destin, and Black Sambuca, the horse that everyone thinks is uncontrollable.

The romance is swift and the sex is hot, but the scenes in the barn with Tonio and Black Sambuca were my favorite. I have ridden horse for a very long time, and I know exactly what it's like when you have a difficult horse that can make or break a rider. You always, always, always want to figure out what makes a horse tick, and Tonio does a fabulous job with that here.

So if you love horses, and you like M/M romance, even if the falling in love doesn't take very long at all, give this book a try. I enjoyed it and I think you will too. 


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

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review 2018-10-01 01:22
ARC Review: Hard Truths by Alex Whitehall
Hard Truths - Alex Whitehall

On one hand, this book was less superficial than I expected, considering the blurb. I love the fake boyfriend trope, and I was looking forward to a fun book. While there was lots of humor, the depth within surprised me.

On the other hand, I would have liked to repeatedly smack Isaac over the head, not only for continuing to hide Logan being his boyfriend, but also for not realizing that family isn't always determined by blood, especially when your parents are homophobic racist jerks. 

I think what bothered me the most is that Isaac often sounded much younger than I was told he is, especially when he's around his parents, and that he was too blind to realize that he was hurting Logan, and his friends, with his ridiculous stance. While I could understand his fears, those fears blinded him to what he already has, and he only saw what he stood to lose. He lives a couple of hours away from his parents, and he's out to everyone in his life, except for them. But every time he goes home, it is very clear that not only does he not like his parents, especially his father, but he also mocks and ridicules them. And thus I couldn't for the life of me understand what was stopping him from telling them to shove it and tell them who he truly is. 

The romance is definitely whirlwind, much like the blurb promises, and there is hot sex and cheesy puns, and I believed that both Isaac and Logan had feelings for each other. They have a lot in common, and the growth in their relationship felt realistic to me given the timeframe of this book. 

I guess Isaac still needed to grow up. And I guess he does by book's end; he just leaves a whole lot of hurt in his wake that could have been avoided, had he been more emotionally mature. 

The entire book is written from Isaac's POV, so we don't get a whole lot of true insights to Logan, and Isaac's friends, since his view is somewhat skewered and distorted though his lens. The humor was fun (not cheesy, really), and outside of Isaac's behavior with his parents, I did like him as a person. He's kind and considerate to others - just emotionally stunted. Which is likely a result of his upbringing, but I didn't see the same in his sister, and she grew up in the same emotionally stunted home. 

I liked the writing style, and I'm definitely going to check out more books by this author. 


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

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review 2018-10-01 00:50
ARC Review: Midnight In Berlin by JL Merrow
Midnight in Berlin - J.L. Merrow

I loved Leon's irreverent narrative - he was my favorite person in the book.

In a case of mistaken identity, a werewolf bites a human. Oops.

Christoph, a lawyer of sorts, and Lycan, driving through Berlin in his Porsche very late at night, spots Leon, a student/drifter, who's hitchhiking his way back to this hostel. Leon is covered in feather, after a pillow fight at a concert and some rain, and Christoph thinks Leon is Lycan too and has just killed a large bird. So he stops, offers him a rider, and takes him to his pack house in one of the Berlin 'burbs. Because wolves aren't supposed to run around arousing suspicion, and Christoph chides Leon for potentially revealing the secret.

Leon has no idea what the guy with the Porsche is babbling about, but he's not liking it. And never mind the guy's face growing fangs and sprouting hair. When the car stops, Leon bolts just as soon as Christoph realizes his mistake.

Long story short, Leon wakes up Lycan (oops) after Christoph bit him. Christoph is nowhere to be found, and nobody living in the house where Christoph took him is telling him anything useful.

The pack is led by a horrible man named Schreiber. He's brutal, he treats his pack members like crap, and he's not happy that Leon is now a wolf.

Leon discovers where Christoph is being caged for punishment (that was hard to read, OMG), and together with Schreiber's daughter, they flee the house. 

The rest of the story is basically telling us about their escape and their movements through Berlin, trying to find out what they can about the experiment Schreiber appears to be running. There's a side story with another pack, this one full wolves.

The plot is fast-moving and the action scenes were fascinating, but the romance was rather bland. Outside of some sort of mating bond, I didn't really feel it at all. 

Leon's character stood out for me - the rest of them all were more or less one-dimensional. Christoph was okay, once he let go of his guilt a bit, and we do get a HEA. The descriptions of Berlin felt accurate, and most of the dialogue rang organic and realistic for the characters. 

Not one of my favorites by this author, but I enjoyed it. 


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

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