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review 2017-07-19 20:38
A horse trainer and a retired surgeon...how could things possibly go wrong?
An Unexpected Truth - S.A. Meade

‘An Unexpected Truth’ is my first book by this author…definitely not my last. I was pretty much enchanted from the word go when I realized that the story was set in England. I have a definite fondness for England…maybe, my in-laws are from there and maybe my mother’s family is from there and maybe it’s just a beautiful country but whatever, I love it so reading a book with England as the setting was definitely no hardship add in that it’s set in the countryside and there are horses and things are just getting better and better.

 

Brendan Matthews trains racehorses for a living and he’s happy with his quiet life but he’s also not a foolish man so when opportunity brings 6 yearlings that display more than a little potential to him and they happen to be owned by a man who’s ‘not to shabby either’. Who is Brendan to not open the door when opportunity knocks.

 

Adam Ahmadi is a wealthy orthopedic surgeon who’s looking for something to do with his time and money after an accident damages his hand forcing him to retire early. He was thinking horses but one look at Brendan and Adam’s interest go beyond having Brendan train his horses.

 

I really enjoyed this story from start to finish. The first part of the story focused on Brendan and Adam’s relationship and it was wonderful. These two men getting to know each other was sweet and a slow burn. They spent time together taking care of the horses, cooking for one another, taking walks, getting to know one another. There was no insta-love here and while there’s a bit of an age gap it’s not a big deal…so much not a big deal that I really can’t remember exactly how big of an age gap it was…so definitely not an issue for me.

 

The relationship between Brendan and Adam unfolded beautifully and was definitely one of my favorite parts. Also, there was a bit of drama and suspense unfolding in the background and while this part of the story was more prominent in the latter part of the book and for a while it was the dominant part of the story it was necessary in order for things to play out to a conclusion that brought us back to Brendan and Adam’s relationship and the HEA that these men so deserved.

 

As Brendan and Adam’s relationship deepens Adam’s past rears it’s ugly head forcing them apart and leaving Brendan more than a little mystified about what Adam’s feelings are and whether or not the future he wants with Adam can be a reality or not.

The ending of this one worked for me. There was just enough going on to hold my interest but not enough to make it overwhelming or confusing since most of what happened around Adam’s past wasn’t really revealed or dealt with until the last half of the book.

 

For me ‘An Unexpected Truth’ was a story that I was easily able to slip into reading and enjoy. The writing style was so enjoyable and easy to follow, the characters worked well together and I found myself enjoying all aspects of the story…the romance, the suspense, the little bit of a plot twist that I didn’t quite see coming. It all came together to create an unique and enjoyable reading experience that I look forward to experiencing again.

 

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A copy of ‘An Unexpected Truth’ was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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review 2017-06-30 21:12
Anything can work, if it's done right...
Making Nice - Elizah J. Davis,Michael Ferraiuolo

I'm not really a big fan of the 'miscommunication trope'. In fact it's probably one of my least favorite but as with many things in life 'never say never'. I actually bought the e-book for this one quite a while ago and as often happens in my life I squirreled off to other things and never got around to reading it. So there I was one day window shopping on audible.com and what did I see 'Making Nice' and it was narrated by Michael Ferraiuolo...whom I happen to like...a lot! So that became a done deal...happy birthday to me (it was part of my birthday haul courtesy of my awesome hubby). 

 

My only real disappointment with this story was that for some reason I really expected the story to be a bit more humorous and I have to admit I really think that one's on me, however, I ended up liking the story so much that it really became irrelevant what my inaccurate pre-conceived ideas were...maybe, it came from the underwear hanging on the bedpost? Who knows and while the story wasn't as humorous as I was anticipating it had some humorous moments and it was good...really good.

 

While miscommunication is definitely the main reason that Blake and Ryan have such a hard time getting their acts together. What made the difference in this story were the reasons why the miscommunication was happening. It wasn't that these two weren't talking or at least trying. It was 

 

There's this expression that goes 'past performance predicts future behavior' it's a business thing and while there is a certain amount of accuracy to it, like many things it's a guideline and not the gospel. Unfortunately Blake seems to live by this expression and it really skews how he perceives a lot of things in his life...well this and the fact that he's got a boyfriend in his past who really messed him up.

 

Ryan's got his life together...well, his professional life. His personal life is a bit of a train wreck. Personally he's an advocate of the quick hook-up, friends with benefits or one night stands. He pretty much doesn't do commitment or relationships. 

 

So it's inevitable that when Ryan meets Blake and his heart jumps for joy, poor Ryan's mouth is going to disconnect from his brain and Blake isn't going to cut him any slack. Now none of this would be any real problem if Ryan's best friend Matt wasn't head over heels in love with Blake's twin sister, Bianca.  

 

The dance that Ryan and Blake do as they try to show each other how right they would be together without being the first one to truly admit how they feel is definitely an interesting and frequently humorous comedy of errors. Despite all the miscommunication between two the one place where they seem to communicate without misunderstanding is in the bedroom...smexy times boys and girls, smexy times were had by all.

 

I'm not certain that I would have enjoyed this one quite as much if I'd just read the e-book because Michael Ferraiuolo was the narrator on this one and I'm partial to him and the voices that he gave to Blake & Ryan and the rest of the characters  just nailed it for me.

 

I'm looking forward to seeing what comes next from this author and if there's audio book narrated by Michael Ferraiuolo...well, that sounds like it could be a win too.

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review 2017-06-28 22:34
The story was good the audio...not so much for me...
Wrapped Up in Chains - Cindy Sutherland

I've been wanting to read this one for ages now so when the audio book became available I saw it as a golden opportunity and said 'yes please' to the chance. 'Wrapped In Chains' is a story of finding love and second chances. 

 

Because this was an audio book and both the author and narrator are new to me and unfortunately also because my rating for the book and for the audio portion are very distinctly separate I'm going to try and do this review in 2 parts. First the story and then we'll deal with the audio...

 

I really liked the story overall there was only one thing that I had a tiny niggle with so for me the book was 4 stars. 

 

Devon West runs his own BDSM club and he's a DOM with very strong ideals and beliefs about a D/s relationship especially the DOM's responsibility towards the sub. I liked Devon. I liked that he was someone who basically lived and breathed his moral values in all aspects of his life both as a person and a DOM. Needless to say it made it easy to believe that he would go to the extend that he does to protect Chase, a young sub whom he finds being violently beaten when he walks into his club one night. Devon's immediate actions are strong, confident and all focused on protecting Chase and ensuring that he is safe from the DOM who Chase suffered years of abuse from.

 

Chase ran away from home afraid of how his family would react when they discovered he was gay. It was a young, naive, scared Chase who is taken in and abused for years by James Kingston. Someone whom he believed was really a DOM but in fact is only an abusive, sociopath who's spent his life being protected by his wealth and privilege as well as several years being obsessed with Devon. Kingston's convinced that Devon is his perfect sub he just needs "proper discipline". 

 

 

Initially Chase felt so much more submissive than the personalities that I'm use to in BDSM stories but as the story progressed what had initially seemed like a totally submissive personality started to feel more like a combination of a sweet and gentle soul whose nature leaned towards submission and Chase went from seeming like someone whose nature was so totally submissive that he didn't seem to be able to make his own decisions to someone who as I said was sweet and gently and very capable of making his own decisions but also someone who craved the sense of balance and security that submission could give him. 

 

Devon and Chase worked well for me as a couple in that their personalities meshed well. Devon was a DOM but not one who wanted to control his sub 24/7 he wanted the control in regards to the sexual aspect of their relationship but outside of that he fostered and encouraged Chase to be independent and his actions always seemed to be geared towards what was best for Chase and while this initially wasn't always a matter of what Chase wanted he truly did seem to have an ultimate goal of Chase becoming confident and self sufficient in his day to day life but more than willing to also be the DOM that Chase so obviously craved.  

 

My one little niggle with the story was how quickly Chase became attached to Devon and yet, in some ways it was not really a stretch to accept this could happen given that Chase was held hostage for years and endured cruelty and abuse at the hands of the only person he's really had contact with for the past 7 years and suddenly he's rescued and cared for by someone who is his captures polar opposite. Someone who cares what he thinks and feels and treats him like his comfort and well being truly matters. it's like getting rain after a drought how can you not enjoy and appreciate it?

 

The other thing that balanced the immediate sense of attraction between Devon and Chase was Devon's sense of responsibility towards Chase and what had happened to him. While it wasn't Devon's fault in any way, I like that he realized that what Chase really needed wasn't being in another relationship but having help with dealing with the damage that being held hostage and abused for years did to him physically, emotionally and mentally. 

 

While the story had a bit of a fairy tale feel to it in the handsome knight (Devon) rescues the damsel in distress (Chase) and vanquishes the evil villain (James Kingston) way. It was still a very enjoyable and well done story and I really liked it. 

 

However, what really didn't work for me was the audio on this one. John Anthony Davis was the narrator for this book and while I liked his voice in terms of it's tone and that the voices were distinct and easily discernible in terms of who was speaking. I found that at times it was slow and almost hesitant or stilted when it came to fluidity and unfortunately that made it feel almost monotone at times. While Chase's voice for me had a too young sound to it that made me think of a young boy in his early teens rather than a young man of 23 or 24 which he was suppose to be. This unfortunately happened enough that I found it was a definite distraction from the story for me. So while the story was 4 stars for me...the audio was at best 2.5 stars. So over all this one's getting 3.5 stars from me.

 

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An audio book of "Wrapped Up In Chains" was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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review 2017-06-26 17:16
Surprise...it's my first time reading this author...
Forgotten Paradise (Dreamspun Desires) - Shira Anthony

Ok so I have to admit I was a little surprised when I realized this because truthfully I own more than a few books by this author and have somehow not managed to get to them yet...so many books, so little time...

 

"Forgotten Paradise" is part of Dreamspinner's Dreamspun Desires series and I enjoyed listening to the audio book. It was like being read a sweet, low angst fairytale...of the modern, adult variety, of course. 

 

Adam Preston is enjoying a well earned vacation in the Dominican Republic before returning home to deal with what can only be considered a hostile takeover attempt by Entech a company with a reputation for less than ethical behavior in their business dealings, when he decides to do a bit of scuba diving he's surprised to discover that his instructor is the attractive, charming and somewhat mysterious Jonah, whom he met at the resort bar the night before.

 

It turns out that Jonah's not just a mystery to Adam but to himself as well. Since he only remembers the last 10 years of his life when he woke up on a beach one day with no idea of who he was or how he got there. He's held that secret close until Adam, who for some reason is causing long hidden memories to try and resurface in his mind.

 

As Adam and Jonah get to know each other during their time together, their attraction grows and with each encounter Jonah finds himself recovering parts of a past he thought gone forever and one that maybe he no longer wants. 

 

It's a bit of a whirlwind romance between these two. Considering that they only have one week before Adam has to return to his real life. It works and I really didn't have a problem finding it believable...beautiful tropical setting, two intelligent, attractive, available people (men in this case) drawn to each other and who enjoy each others company.  Honestly no stretch of the imagination required here at all.

 

It's when Adam returns the real world that he begins to discover that his fantasy vacation was far more firmly rooted in reality than either he or Jonah could have ever imagined.

 

I enjoyed the first part of this story which introduced us to Adam and Jonah. Seeing their relationship go from a simple attraction to something so much stronger in spite of the fact that they knew they only had a week before Adam would be leaving.  It was fun and sexy and sweet and so easy the envision with the way that the author wove in the background information to create images of a beautiful tropical setting combined with the adventure of deep sea diving.  

 

However, it's the second part of this book that really won me over. Seeing Adam as he came to the realization of who Jonah was while also struggling to save his company and pull his family back together. More than the company that his father started Adam valued his family and while his relationship with his mother and his sister is fairly solid (his awesome sister, Karen...just sayin' with a name like that how could she not be awesome?), it's his brother Rodger whom he misses. They use to be best friends able to talk to each other about everything. But since their father's death that's changed and Adam wants to fix this. He's willing to do just about anything to have his friend and brother back.

 

Ironically when Adam's vacation ends he's not the only one who needs to return to real world. As Jonah comes to remember his life before waking up on a sandy beach he also comes to the realization that he can no longer hide from who and what he was. He needs to return to the life he's only now remembering and put his own house in order. 

 

While the first half of the book gave me a glimpse into the character of Adam and Jonah and what kind of men they are, it's the second half that really develops them and gives them depth. There are no cake walks here, both men have to fight for what they want. Proving that determination and strength of character is not in short supply where either of them are concerned.

 

"Forgotten Paradise" was narrated by Andrew McFerrin, who is a new to me narrator and while I have to admit I didn't fall head over heels in love with him. His voices were consistent and expressed emotion. While I can't say that any one voice was outstanding or hooked me into the story as I've had happen with other narrators. I wasn't put off by any of them either and I'm definitely willing to listen to future audiobooks by this narrator...I may even have a couple on my wishlist over at audible...the samples sound good so definite potential here for me.

 

When all is said and done it's 4 stars for the story and 3 for the audio portion and I'm just going to call it a day at 4 because if I take the median number as I usually do it's 3.5 and I'm just going to have to round up when I post this review in other places and I'm feeling lazy today plus truly this story deserves more than 3 stars so I'm not willing to round down...so 4 stars and I'm done here now.

 

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An audio book of "Forgotten Paradise" was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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review 2017-06-08 00:59
This is not the Peter Pan of my childhood...
Peter Darling - Austin Chant

I have to admit I'm not sure quite what I was expecting when I went into this but after sniffing and poking at the book I finally decided I just needed to put on my big girl pants and find out.

 

So what I was expecting...well, I'm still not sure. What I got was a retelling of a childhood story that to be quite honest was never really a favorite of mine. As a child I just never connected with Peter...I'm don't really know why...it could be as simple as he was a boy and I'm a girl...who knows. Needless to say this also contributed to making 'Peter Darling' a bit of a hard sell with me. But I was still curious after reading the blurb and then I started seeing all these awesome reviews being posted by my friends so I figured it was time to find out.

 

What I found was a story about a child who essentially came from a good home, but not the right home. Not a home where he was loved for who he was and allowed to be that person. Feeling frustrated, angry and alone Peter runs away to Neverland a place where he can be himself, where he has friends and goes on adventures...fighting Pirates and accomplishing brave and heroic deeds. But as with most children, Peter also begins to miss his family. Remembering not just the bad things but the good...his brothers, Michael and John, his parents and how much he misses everyone. Ultimately Peter realizes that it's time to go home.

 

Ten years have passed since Pan has left Neverland and they haven't turned out to be ten good years for either. No longer able to deal with the real world...Pan returns to Neverland...to his friends,Tinkerbell and the lost boys and to continue his battle with his nemesis...Hook. Only Peter's grown up and things aren't quite the same in Neverland. Peter begins to wonder if returning was the right choice but he knows staying with his family wasn't an option either.

 

Peter Darling in many ways felt more like a continuation of the original story than a retelling...more like 'What if Peter Pan returned to Neverland when he was grown up?' While the author did put a bit of a spin on the original story, he also held true to a lot of it as well creating a smooth and seamless version of the story that is with the story that will be.

 

I found myself being drawn into the story of 'Peter Darling' far more easily and readily than I was ever drawn into the original story of Peter Pan. I was fascinated with both the characters and this version of Neverland. While Hook has always been my least favorite character in this fairy tale, this time around not only did I like him, but for me, he was the most captivating character in the book.

 

The Hook we meet in 'Peter Darling' displays far more depth than what I've come to expect from this character in previous versions of the story. While he can be cruel, ruthless and greedy there were also moments of depth that tempered that side of him...we were shown intelligence and understanding, emotions such as compassion, grief, sorrow, regret, caring and yes, even love.

 

'Peter Darling' was not a happy go light tale. It was at times a bit sad with a touch of a dark side to it, that in truth, I always felt was also contained within the original story. For me 'Peter Darling' was also a beautifully told story by a 'new to me author' whose talent for crafting words into images left me more than a little impressed.  While "Peter Darling" isn't the only thing written by this author, it does appear to be their first novel...which leaves me to wonder if their first novel is this good...what's coming next?

 

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An ARC of 'Peter Darling' was graciously provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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