So back on Mother's Day my hubby in his inimitable wisdom decided that since I was now listening to audiobooks what better gift than to treat me to some new ones and I got to go shopping for them so I could pick what I wanted and while I wanted more than a few this series was at the top of my list, especially since I had this one to review. Overall it was money and time well spent because not only did I love them but I am absolutely dying to go back to the beginning and re-listen to them all over again. I basically marathoned these books over the course of a weekend as soon as I was done listening to one, I clicked the play button to start the next one, which explains why I'm now sitting here catching up on the reviews.
I could not get enough...I devoured them, so needless to say once again Michael Ferraiuoloa was the narrator for this installment of 'The Five Boroughs' and once again I was not disappointed...well other than...more Oli time would have been really nice but since this is a David and Raymond story and not Oli and Caleb, I'm maybe being a little picky on this one, but that's just me.
'Interborough' is the fourth book in this series and unlike the previous books it's not about a new couple. With 'Interborough' we find ourselves back in the lives of David and Raymond. It's about a year later and these men are having a hard time of it...oh, they're still very much in love, unfortunately sometimes life doesn't leave us much time for love and these two are floundering.
David wants to be a loving and supportive partner but that's hard to do when you're feeling ignored, neglected and shut out.
Raymond wants to be the partner he thinks David deserves but with two jobs, school and unexpected demands on his finances and a new friend who really rubs David the wrong way. Raymond's feeling more than a little pressure and stress but he's determined that he can handle it on his own, if David would just give him time.
Both men are hanging on to the prospect of their forthcoming vacation cruise to try and regain some balance in their relationship. But between the sun, the fun and the mojitos Ray's having a hard time getting David alone so they can reconnect but once he does their passion blazes hotter than the tropical sun. Problem is will it last past the end of their cruise.
Raymond and David established themselves as a couple in 'Sunset Park' and while their ending may have been more of an HFN than an HEA they seemed fairly solid. But a little more than a year later things aren't so certain for this pair and it's not because of any over the top angst or drama. Sadly just like in real life what's driving these men apart isn't the big things it's all the little things that life throws at them and sometimes when enough of those little things get tossed our way, the pile they make seems insurmountable.
As in the previous books in this series we also get the fun of catching up with Michael and Nunzio, Caleb and Oli, as well as glimpses of other characters we've already met and new ones whose stories have yet to unfold.
What I really loved about this book was that more than any of the previous books I was really able to relate to what David and Raymond were going through. This was in some ways the most realistic story of them all because relationships...they're hard work and so often life hands us so much sh!t to deal with we lose sight of things...like what and who's really important. For me this wasn't a story about assigning blame it was about learning to truly be partners, to listen and share, to communicate and always appreciate that person who you've chosen to spend your life with. The good times are easy to get through but it's what you do when your faced with the day to day challenges that can often make or break a relationship.
'Interborough' didn't really so much feel like it was messing with the HEA of an established couple as it was taking us further along on their journey to show us that having a happily ever after means working at it every day in order to keep it. I absolutely loved that just like in real life there are no promises and guarantees, just chances and opportunities and it's up to David and Raymond to make the most of them.
From start to finish I was on the edge of my seat cheering for these two to find a way to make things work again. Caleb and Oli may be my favorite couple in this series so far but that doesn't mean I don't have a place in my heart for all of them.
An audiobook of 'Interborough' was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
I totally have a thing for Oli's voice...I mean have a thing...Oli's voice just...well, it gives me butterflies in the tummy and goosebumps and seriously I could listen to that voice all day and still want more. It's not just that I like Oli's voice which you know...bonus when you're listening to an audiobook, but for me as soon as I heard him speak it worked, it clicked into place and my brain was in total agreement that this was how Oli would sound.
Michael Ferraiuolo is again the narrator for this installment of Santino Hassell's 'Five Boroughs' series and I have to say I'm truthfully hoping this doesn't change. I freely admit I'm not from New York and have never had the opportunity to spend time there so in terms of dialects/accents I'm by no means any kind of authority and can honestly say that my liking this narrator as much as I do has nothing to do with how much he does or doesn't sound like someone from New York. For me, he ticked those basic boxes in my 'what I want from an audiobook' checklist. He was consistent, his voices were unique I had no trouble discerning which character was speaking, emotions were conveyed when the characters were speaking. It just all worked for me and in the case of Oli...he nailed it.
I've been playing catch-up with this series via the audiobooks and I was really excited to get to this one. Oli was a character that grabbed my attention from the word go back when he made a play for Ray in 'Sunset Park'...did I want him getting it on with Ray, not really but I liked that he was there because I hoped that he would be a motivator for David to get his butt in gear with Ray and truthfully I liked that he was direct and said what he wanted didn't play games. Plus we got just enough of a peek at him to lock him into my brain as someone who would be interesting. Who he'd end up with at that point, I really had no idea, but I have to admit that it was Caleb...well that totally intrigued me, because Caleb in some ways seemed to be Oli's polar opposite.
Caleb is David's ex and by the time I finished 'Sunset Park', while I was definitely feeling better about David, even though I still wasn't happy that he'd cheated on Caleb when they were together, I was still finding it hard to see Caleb as any kind of a victim for me, he came off as a bit of a cold, manipulative douchebag. But, I also felt like Caleb and David together were a train wreck waiting to happen. You can love someone with all your heart but that doesn't mean they're the right person for you and by the end of 'Sunset Park' I very much felt like Caleb and David just never really belonged together, in a nutshell they just weren't good for each other or too each other. So 'First and First' was my chance to get more Oli and take a second look at Caleb, which turned out to be a very good thing.
I like Michael & Nunzio and David & Raymond really are adorable, but at this point Caleb & Oli are my favorite couple in this series. I like the dynamics between these two the push/pull of their relationship and how they challenge each other. Oli with his sexually adventurous nature and his ability to get Caleb to really examine what it is he wants all while he challenges Oli to use his adventurous nature outside of the bedroom and to look closer at his feelings. One thing that neither Oli, nor Caleb can ignore is their attraction to each other and the sexually charged air that exist when they're together. The fact that by the end of this book not only were Caleb and Oli my favorite couple but I really like Caleb. I still don't think he's perfect but he does seem like someone that I'd be happy to know and be friends with and that I think speaks volumes to what an amazing job the author has done with this story...more so really than anything else that I could say.
'First and First' is the third book in this series and so far each book just gets better and better and there's no way that I'm stopping whether it's the audio book or the e-book I am so on board for whatever and whoever comes next in this series. Santino Hassell has created a world that's realistic and filled with all the passion and emotion that you'd expect to find and who knows this might be only chance to spend time in New York with a bunch of hot men!
'Fraud Twice Felt' is the second installment in J.T. Hall's 'Oddities' series and basically picks up where 'Murder Once Seen' leaves off. Derwin and Elliot are living together as a new couple and working on making their lives mesh.
They're happy and for the most part things are good...or as good as they can be with two men who both have oddities they're trying to keep secret from the rest of the world, are rebuilding their home after having it blown to bits by a killer as well as rebuilding Elliot's life so he can leave his rentboy days behind which would be easier said than done if he didn't have to avoid a former client who nearly killed him and still wants to 'own' him and just happens to be the leader of one of the most dangerous gangs in the city...but hey, let's not stop there why not have a friends son and his girlfriend go missing only to find out that not only are they missing but they've placed everyone in the middle of a power struggle between two of the most powerful gangs in the city.
Like the first book 'Fraud Twice Felt' is a bit stronger on the mystery/thriller part than the romance but for me that works. I cut my reading teeth on authors like Mary Higgins Clark and Phillip Margolin so mysteries are part of my staple reading diet add in that this one also has a touch of urban fantasy to it...Jim Butcher and Rachel Caine anyone? Needless to say this is all golden for me...mystery/thriller/urban fantasy with a touch of a m/m romance blended in and I'm happy, happy girl.
I really enjoyed the mystery here, it was solid and held a couple of surprises that added a nice little twist to events. What I really enjoyed was the growth that we saw in Elliot as he regained some of his confidence and stepped up to show his man that he's not going to stay anyone's damsel in distress, he wants to be self sufficient and able to protect himself and have Derwin's back when he needs to but more than that he wants to take his life in a different direction from his rentboy days...one that will clearly establish him as Derwin's partner and an equal in the relationship.
Watching Elliot struggle to regain the confidence that he lost as a result of the events that transpired in 'Murder Once Seen' is hard for Derwin. He's a good partner loving and supportive but he's already lost one man that he loved and he knows that losing Elliot to the dangers they face would be more than he could handle but he's smart enough to know that for both their sakes Elliot needs to be able to protect himself so he's determined to help make this happen. I really loved this about Derwin because as a wife and a parent I understand that feeling that need to protect those we love. I also understand that whether it's a child or a partner the best thing we can do for them if we truly love them is to give then the tools to be able to protect themselves. Sometimes doing what's best for those we love is the hardest thing we have to do, but it's also the most important.
While this story doesn't end on a cliffhanger we are given a hint of what's coming next and I'm definitely looking forward to the next installment in this series and the chance to see how Derwin and Elliot grow as a couple and as individuals. J. T. Hall has definitely found a fan in me with this series and I'm looking forward to my next visit to the city of Nis.
An ARC of 'Fraud Twice Felt' was graciously provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
The Boyfriend Makeover is a sexed up book. If you’re listening on audio you might want to make sure you’re wearing headphones or at least close your car windows otherwise you risk scandalizing yourself to the nosy Parker’s at the stop light. There’s one section that is 30 minutes or so of straight up sexy time. I listened on the drive home from an appointment (with my windows closed and the volume turned waaay down just in case someone thought me a perv), when I got home I put in my headphones, cleaned the kitchen mess everyone had left for me (yes, I know you all want my glamorous life) and played with the dogs ‘til they were huffing and puffing and the couple were still going at it.
But it is about other things too . . .
Noah donates his time to charity events and lives off of a trust fund. He’s a charmer and a smart dresser and gets talked into making over a doctor for the “Bachelor Bid” at his upcoming event. Ky is a workaholic who prefers his cowboy boots, flannel and giant belt buckle to most anything else but he also loves his sisters and agrees to auction himself off after they talk him into it. He thinks the whole thing ridiculous and he’s very uncomfortable but he’s also a very good big brother. Awwww, Ky.
Noah, naturally flamboyant and a shameless flirt can barely contain himself when gorgeous Ky is around. Is he gay? Noah is determined to find out and find out he does . . .
This is a fun book. Noah’s dialogue is ridiculously funny and Ky balances him out. And their chemistry is something else! There’s some angst and some drama as Ky keeps his sexuality to himself for reasons. Reasons that I am not going to spill. Noah drinks too much and his humor masks some deep pain. He has some serious work to do on himself before the two will ever live out a HEA and I like that this book addresses it and doesn’t gloss over it. And then there’s sex. Whew, if you want a steamy read this one’s calling your name!
This is book #3 in a series and I’m sure I would’ve gotten more out of the appearance of the myriad number of friends who pop in and out of the story had I read their stories. It stood alone pretty good though so you’ll get none of my typical mid-series complaints here. Now I want to read the other books just to see what I’m missing.
Narration Notes: I have to say, as much as I loved the story and the characters and all their angst and sexy ways, I wasn’t too crazy about the narrator, Marc Bachmann. He sounded like a newscaster when not doing a character voice and something about his voice just didn’t seem to fit any of the characters. He’s professional and polished but maybe a wee bit too dramatic for this story, eh I don’t know. Instead of falling into the story his voice kept pulling me out.
I received a copy of this book directly from Tantor. Thanks Tantor!