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review 2018-12-30 00:30
Vanilla Clouds is not a vanilla book...
Vanilla Clouds - Roe Horvat,Vance Bastian

Wow! I've been wanting to read a book by this author for ages now and it just seemed like this was not going to happen so when I was offered the opportunity to listen to this one on audio narrated by a new to me narrator...Vance Bastian...you can bet that I ran off to audible to listen to the sample and yes my fingers were crossed as I diligently listened and hoped that I would like this new to me combo and well...needless to say I got my own little Christmas miracle (I got this one on Dec. 24th so who am I to dispute this). 

 

'Vanilla Clouds' for me was like a breath of fresh air. Roe Horvat has taken some things that logically speaking either shouldn't be believable or at the very least shouldn't work...don't sweat it, it all works. I love a sweet love story that leaves me feeling just a little starry eyed at the end and when it came to Magnus and Michal I was feeling more than a little starry eyed. These two men were beyond adorable together.

 

Magnus is in love with Michal before they ever meet and if truth be told his feelings are reciprocated. They've been on-line friends for a while now and sadly because of things (yep, read the story if you need more details) Michal refuses to meet Magnus. But Magnus is not a man who readily admits defeat and he's willing to risk whatever he has to for a chance with the man he knows he loves...Hell Yeah!!! I was cheering for Magnus.

 

'Vanilla Clouds' gives us a different setting...we're not in Kansas (code for the US) anymore or even Canada...the setting is Sweden we've got a Swedish MC and a Polish MC, we've got loving and supportive parents  and one kick-ass roommate...no seriously she can kick-...

 

We've got chocolate and let me just say I'm not a big lover of chocolate...don't hate me but if it's really good chocolate I can get on board with things.

 

We've got an age difference and once again not a fan but if it's done well and done right...again I can get on board.

 

We've got an MC who's healing from a horrible experience and working really hard to find his footing in the world again and we've got another MC who wants to help him. Who believes in him and wants to be there for him. To help make his world a better place.

 

I know a lot of us say we don't believe in love at first sight but this one begs the question 'if you don't believe in love at first sight...how do feel about love when it's sight unseen?' for me, Roe Horvat made it work.

 

On top of all this we have Vance Bastian the narrator who so perfectly captured the characters and the atmosphere of this story for me.

 

Needless to say my first Roe Horvat story was a definite success as was my first Vance Bastian audio experience...so of course, I'm a fan...of both.

 

At just under 4 hours if you're not familiar with either this author or the narrator than this really is a golden opportunity and if you are familiar this is a chance to enjoy a love story that's sweet and will very possibly leave you feeling a little starry eyed. 

 

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An audio book of 'Vanilla Clouds' was graciously provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

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review 2018-11-21 17:53
Holidays are coming, holidays are coming...
Love Happens Anyway - Sean Crisden,R.J. Scott

I first read this story last year and found it to be a delightful holiday story about pretend boyfriends who fall in love. I was going to attempt write an entirely new review for this one but when I revisited my original review I found that much of what is there still very accurately reflects my thoughts about this sweet story so I'm just going to borrow some of what I wrote before and add my thoughts on the audio component of this story...

Derek feels like his life is spinning out of control. He’s feeling like the job he has is neither the job he was supposed to get or the one he wanted, he’s at odds with his parents and feels like they’re constantly trying to marry him off. If he could just catch a break, put a little distance between him and the rest of the world.

 

Derek finds his buffer in the form of Luke…a former fireman who’s in need of twenty thousand dollars to finish paying or the renovations to on Halligans, his family’s bar in NY’s Financial District. So, when Luke’s friend asks him for a favor…a favor that will bring in Luke’s much needed money. Luke finds himself reluctantly agreeing to be Derek’s pretend boyfriend for the holidays…4 dates that’s all he needs to get through and then he’ll have the money he needs…what could possibly go wrong with just 4 dates?

 

What neither Derek or Luke is prepared for is that things would go right…so much righter than either man is prepared for as they find that not only is there a definite attraction between them but as they get to know each other they’re also finding that they like each other.

 

I admit I was fairly certain that I was going to enjoy this one before I even opened the book…the author’s R.J. Scott and for me that pretty well makes it a done deal. For me Luke was the perfect person for Derek. He saw past Derek’s exterior with his pretense of confidence in an effort to cover his insecurities. Luke saw a talented man that he knew he could both like and respect. For Derek, Luke was his dream man come to life.

 

One of the things about this story that really capture my attention was the relationship dynamics between Derek and his parents. So often in stories the relationship between adult children and their parents are portrayed as either being good or not good but for Derek and his parents that’s not the case. Derek loves his parents and they love him and are supportive of him, but Derek doesn’t see it this way and that’s largely due to a communication issue or more accurately a case of miscommunication. Which for Derek is a more common event in his life than it needs to be because of the defensive barrier he’s built around himself.

 

Luke’s efforts to get past Derek and his façade of confidence has a trickle-down effect on Derek’s life allowing him to re-evaluate his interactions not just with Luke but a lot of the other people in his life…colleagues, friends and his parents.

For me the fake-boyfriend to boyfriend premise of this story was well done. It was sweet, and not only did we get to see the relationship develop between these two, but we got to find out a bit more about each of them, their past, their present and what they wanted for their future.

Sean Crisden was the narrator for this story, so along with revisiting a story I liked by an author I really like. I get to listen to one of my favorite narrators read said story. Sean Crisden is one of those narrators whose voice has this laid back tone to it that just draws me into a story allowing me to relax and just enjoy what I'm listening to. For me the whole choice of what audio narrators a person likes is such a personal and subjective issue because it's not just a matter of the narrator it's also about the right narrator for the right book and when it came to this book, I'm not saying that another narrator couldn't have also done a good job but I am saying that for me...Sean Crisden did an excellent job in capturing the characters and the spirit of the holiday season contained within the pages of this story.

 

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An audio book of 'Love Happens Anyway' was graciously provided by Signal Boost Promo in exchange for an honest review.

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review 2018-08-21 23:18
Dear RJ Scott...
Second Chance Ranch - RJ Scott

Could you please, kindly stop making me cry first thing in the morning...yep, once again I started my day in tears because of you.

 

But while we're at it thanks for making some of them happy tears that helped a lot...

 

full review to follow soonish!

 

‘Second Chance Ranch’ is the 5th book in R.J. Scott’s Montana series and for me it was also the ultimate in 2nd  chance stories. While I’ve enjoyed all of the stories in this series and this may have been the 5th book in the series it’s absolutely #1 as my favorite book of the series so far.

 

We’ve seen glimpses of Rob in some of the previous books he was a part of the Justin’s life during his missing years…a part that Justin never wanted to see again, but things have changed for Rob and he’s in desperate need of help and with Justin being the closest thing he has to a friend…where else can he go?

 

And we’ve seen glimpses of Aaron in previous stories as well…Aaron is one of the Carter brothers, there are 5 in total…there’s Sheriff Ryan Carter, we met him as one of the MCs in ‘Snow in Montana’, along with Jason the fire fighter, Karl the owner of Carters (the local bar/pub) and Eddie the accountant. I know after 3 adrenalin junkies and the owner of the local night life hotspot…an accountant seems a bit bizarre, but it is what it is. You’re probably thinking so why does this matter but trust me on this one it matters because all of these people matter to some degree, at some point in one or more of these stories and as well as being Aaron and Rob’s story there’s another story playing out in the background for another one of the Carter brothers.

 

Overall in this series we actually have 4 families who are central to this series the Todds, the Allens and the Strachans, the 3 families that founded/own/manage ‘Crooked Tree Ranch’ and the Carters whose family may not be a part of the ranch but are very much a part of the Crooked Tree family all the same.

 

In each of the books in this series we’ve been given the answers to a bigger mystery one that began when the men in these stories were very young and now with this 5th installment in the Montana series we get a story that’s come full circle…what started on The Crooked Tree Ranch has come back as Rob comes to the ranch looking for help for himself and his nephews.

 

Rob’s plan is to make sure his nephews have a home, a place where they’ll be safe and then his list is finished, and he’ll be disappearing for the last time, except by the time he’s ready to go it’s to late and all Aaron wants is for him to stay…ok, that pretty much sets the scene now for the important stuff…

 

This book…I don’t even know where to begin with this one. I was neither expecting nor was I prepared for how many feelz were in this story. I’m not even going to go into the how’s or whys of it but this one kind of crept up on me with how much it made my heartache. I really liked both Rob and Aaron from the minute they first met. Their interactions felt good, right…natural.  There was snark so much awesome snark…sorry, I’m a fan of this and with these two if it had been any different I think I would have been disappointed.

 

While I’ve enjoyed all of the stories in this series with ‘Second Chance Ranch’ R.J. Scott has brought this one to life for me in a way that hadn’t happened yet and she made me cry…seriously there was me lying in bed early in the morning thinking I don’t feel like getting up yet, I’ll just quietly lie here and read. I can be nice and let the hubby sleep and that’s what I did…until…that’s right until the tears started the big ugly, gulping sobbing tears that I had to try and stifle so that I wouldn’t wake people up and then when I’d almost got them under control the other tears started…you know the ones I mean, the ones that are streaming down your face while you’re sitting there holding your breath whispering ‘yes, yes, thank you so much.’ because the author…that person who could have left you broken with your sadness has fixed you…so, thank you R.J. not for making me cry those ugly tears but for remembering to fix me.

 

‘Second Chance Ranch’ is for me the best one yet but only if you read it last.

 

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An ARC of Second Chance Ranch was graciously provided by the author in exchange for an honest

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review 2018-06-05 02:08
And this time the journey is being made on the ocean...
All the Way to Shore - C. Jane Elliott,Tim McKiernan

That's right I'm still traveling and so are the MCs in my audiobooks...

 

This time I'm going on a cruise with Jonathan Vallen and Marco Pellegrini as each man attempts to get a break from the life they lead and maybe find a little romance along the way only to discover that the love and romance they were looking for was right there in their life all along if they were brave enough to reach out and grab it...sometime you don't need to look any further than your own back yard to find what you want.

 

Jonathan gave up what he truly wanted from life when he thought that it would earn him the approval of the one person who he was certain he could never please...his father. When Jonathan's father told him it was time to step up and learn how to run the family business...Jonathan did it without hesitation...his father needed him of course he wouldn't let him down. Unfortunately life just isn't that simple and when Jonathan's father brings in Marco Pellegrini to 'train' Jonathan...well, that's when Jonathan decides to exit, stage right. Clearing the way for Marco to turn things around at Vallen Industries. While Jonathan does the same with his personal life. 

 

It's one year later and neither man is fully satisfied with where his life has gone so Jonathan grabs his good friend and cousin Anthony and heads out for the Caribbean on an LGBTQ cruise not knowing that one Marco Pellegrini and his sister are about to do the same. Jonathan's changed so much in the past year that Marco literally doesn't recognize him, but that doesn't stop him from liking and wanting the man he sees either and a shipboard romance begins. 

 

I really enjoyed how Jonathan and Marco's relationship developed. They spent time together actually doing things...that didn't involve begin naked...not that this didn't happen, but the relationship between these two was built slowly with time and while Jonathan was the driving voice behind events as they happened we got to know Marco through his journal entries making for a slightly unusual reading/listening experience but definitely one that I enjoyed. 

 

Jonathan and Marco made for a really adorable couple and while the disagreement that saw them separated for part of the book was inevitable I liked the resolute that brought them back together it was sweet...the kind of sweet that leaves you smiling and sighing in happiness. So overall this was  fun story to listen to and surprisingly this was my first CJane Elliott story and my first time listening to a book narrated by Tim McKiernan but I'm pretty sure it's not going to be my last time for this author or this narrator. Together they gave me a really enjoyable listening experience and I'm looking forward to finding out what more they have to offer both separately and as an author/narrator pairing in the future.

 

The icing on the cake for this one aside from a pair of well matched MCs were the supporting characters...Jonathan's cousin, Anthony was adorable and I really liked him. He was a good and loyal friend to Jonathan and honestly, I'd be more than happy to read a book or even a story about him getting how own HEA and then there was Marco's sister Sophia...I don't read much outside of the m/m realm these days but i think for Sophia, I could be persuaded to make an exception and Jonathan's father...well, every story needs a villain, right? The guy as a total and absolute douche and he just didn't deserve to have Jonathan for a son...that's all.

 

'All the Way to Shore' is the first book in this authors series 'Stories from the Shore' and I'm definitely looking forward to seeing what comes next..so sign me up for the cruise...anyone care to join me?

 

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An audio book of 'All the Way to Shore' was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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review 2018-04-07 22:26
Excuse me while I gush a little over this one...
Taking the Long Way - Max MacGowan

I've been very fortunate since realizing that contrary to my original thoughts I really enjoy audio books. I've listened to some awesome stories...some because the narrator was incredibly good...like Greg Tremblay or Nick J. Russo, just to name a couple or because the author has written an amazing story. Authors like T.J. Klune, Megan Derr or Mary Calmes writing books such as 'A Destiny of Dragons', 'The High King's Golden Tongue or 'Acrobat' again, just to name a few...or stories like this one by both an author and a narrator who are new to me.

 

Rye's a rent boy, paid companion, male escort...pick your term bottom line (no pun intended) he makes his living selling himself. Sometimes we do things out of necessity whether we like it or not really isn't the issue...for Rye is survival...it's all he knows.

 

Marcus is a functionally blind army vet given the opportunity to see a doctor who may be able to help him...but that doctor's on the other side of the country and flying is not an option for Marcus because of his injury and driving...well, did I mention functionally blind. Marcus wants this and who can blame him maybe he can recover at least some of his eyesight but getting there seems like the impossible dream until Rye and circumstances come together to make this a trip that could save them both.

 

So we've got a male escort, a wounded military vet and they're making a road trip add in some interesting and colorful secondary characters not to mention a couple of awesome dogs and back-up all of this with a narrator whose voice totally blew me away. I've come across narrators who have seemed more than a little amazing to me...narrators like Greg Tremblay, Nick J. Russo, Michael Ferraiuolo, Sean Crisden...there really are a lot of good narrators out there and several really exceptional ones...I think if future endeavors prove to be as well done as this one was that Matt Milne will fall into the latter category of being exceptional for me.

 

Throughout this book it wasn't like having someone read me a story or sitting down with a friend...no, it was better it was like having Marcus and Rye right there leaning over my shoulder whispering to me as they shared their story with me...now, this may sound scary to some but trust me at times this was really, really hella' hot...like cold shower, fanning my face hot...and sometimes that had nothing to do with the sex...I'ma just sayin'...listening to the story of how these two met and came to care about themselves and to mean so much to each other was simply delicious...I just don't have another word for it.

 

I honestly can't even begin to explain how much I loved the sound of their voices...both of them just absolutely totally did it for me but especially Rye. There were times that his voice had this slow, sexy, sultry tone that simply melted me the man could have asked me for the keys to Fort Knox and if I had them in my possession I would have gift wrapped them for him.

 

So simply put Matt Milne is totally on my radar as an audio narrator and while there currently only seems to be 4 books to this narrator's credit, I will definitely be on the lookout for more.

 

Truthfully, if I had to make one criticism about the narration I guess I'd have to say it was the fact that while the book is set in the United States both of the MCs have a slight British tone to their voices...and you know what, I didn't care. I admit there are times when this is enough to make me want to throw my laptop out the window...not this time...I simply didn't care. I just wanted to keep listening to Rye and Marcus talk...so, there you go, if accents are a big issue for you this might not be the book for you...but just to be sure you should head on over to Amazon or audible and check out the sound clip before making your choice...you might find that you don't care either and if you do than, you've saved yourself some time and money...either way it's all good.

 

Ok, now that I've gushed a bit about how much I loved the narration of this book let's move back to the actual story. As far as Rye being a 'male escort' I'm honestly neither here nor there in terms of this. For Rye being a male escort as I said was a life choice...he wanted to stay alive and the only way to do this was to be able to provide for himself...so, truthfully who am I to criticize? Sure I can say things like 'well, I'm sure there were other things that he could have done? there had to be another way?' but just like in the real world we can't know the hows and whys of someone's life if we haven't lived it. So to me Rye did what he had to in order to keep himself alive and I can absolutely respect that and to by honest I really liked Rye. I like his caring and his compassion, his snark and the fact that even though he maybe should have been one of the most cynical people out there given the hand that life dealt him he wasn't.

 

Then there's Marcus...again he should have been someone other than who he was considering his circumstances but for all of his bluff and bluster, he was a good and caring person...Marcus truly had a good heart and I loved his determination to remain so fiercely independent. I couldn't imagine going out into a world that I could no longer really see. I'm pretty sure I'd be hiding in a corner somewhere.

 

I loved the road trip setting for this one. I am totally a fan of road trip stories and the connection between Rye and Marcus for me was perfect. It wasn't a love at first sight for them it started with simply liking and being comfortable with each other and the banter between these two was filled with snarky humor and often enough honesty to have one or both of them feeling uncomfortable. 

 

'Taking the Long Way' was a story about more than just one journey. Yes, there was the obvious trip across country for Marcus to get to his doctor's appointment but there was also a journey made by each of these men to find themselves...a journey that they needed to make in order to make that final journey that would allow them to find their way back to each other. 

 

I loved this story and yes, it may have some flaws in it but ultimately I connected with it on a level that left me feeling like I'd gone on a bit of a road trip as well, as I traveled along with Rye and Marcus on their cross country journey. 

 

I'm looking forward to more from both this author and the narrator of what is  very probably going to be one of my favorite audio books EVAH!!!

 

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An audio book of 'Take the Long Way' was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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