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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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text 2017-11-25 16:33
Recipes, Recipes, Recipes, Diet and Gluten Free
Smoothie Recipes for Weight Loss : 30 Delicious Detox, Cleanse and Green Smoothie Diet Book - Troy Adashun
Just Dessert Recipes: The Cookbook For Easy Weekday After Dinner Treats To Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth - Alisha Abbott,Aston Publisher,Amelia Cooke
Crock Pot: 500 Crock Pot Recipes Cookbook - Emily Addyson
Tasty Chocolate Dessert Recipes: Scrumptious Homemade Chocolate Desserts - Nora Aguro
School Lunches: 21 Delicious Gluten Free Recipes - Carrie Adair
Easy Gluten Free Bread Recipes Cookbook:... Easy Gluten Free Bread Recipes Cookbook: So Good Your Family Will Never Know The Difference - Mary Aden

Let me start by saying that School Lunches was an interesting assortment of "lunches" but not something I would have sent to school with my kids (when they were in Public School), because they were just not practical. The other thing with this book is that while they would be good for homeschooling lunches, this book is listed as not available (or at least the copy I got for free is not available). 

 

The other books were quite interesting and I marked quite a few for making with my kids for meals and desserts and for gifting. 

 

I read these all in one sitting, because my asthma started up strong (lots of drugs) and to top it off I got a sinus and ear infection (more drugs). I am just super tired and the birthday curse hit again. The birthday curse is when we celebrate 5 birthday in 3 days (2 on 22nd, my daughter and a cousin's daughter, my bil, my birthday and another cousin's daughter). 

 

I do recommend the books. I thoroughly enjoyed the smoothie book and think I will try making a few of those. 

 

Enjoy

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review 2017-11-21 23:53
ARC Review: The Secret Of The Sheikh's Betrothed by Felicitas Ivey
The Secret of the Sheikh’s Betrothed (Dreamspun Desires Book 46) - Felicitas Ivey

First off, I had no issues whatsoever with the writing style of this author, or the writing itself. The story flowed along well, and I wasn't bored at all while reading. That is one of the two reasons this book got two stars instead of just one.

The other one is that I was super enraged for most of the book at the treatment Ikraam had to endure at the hands of her sister.

Moving on.... 

After I mulled it over for a while, I realized I had massive issues with some of the characters, the plot, and the setting, as well as the social aspects of this book. The messages within are really problematic for me. 

I mentioned in my status update when I finished the book that "this was different". It sure is. The book is set in a country in the Middle East, where sheikhs and Bedouin tribes are still aplenty. Goat herding is mentioned. Grazing grounds. Filthy rich sheikhs. Camels. Donkeys. Lots of goats. Women are second class, at best, required to hide their faces and their bodies in hijabs, niqabs and veils. 

The basic premise is that rich billionaire sheikh Fathi, who's secretly gay, has been told by his grandfather that he's been betrothed to a Bedouin girl named Ikraam, sight unseen, before the girl was even born, due to some debt the grandfather owed to the girl's father many many years ago.

That's basically believable, right? 

The rest of this? Not so much. 

Ikraam is actually not a girl. Ikraam is a young man who was born to the 2nd wife of a Bedouin tribe chief/leader who thus far only fathered girls. He's been raised as a girl in a large harem because his oldest sister didn't want him to be the heir and remove her from her position of power after their father died. She basically forced Ikraam's mother, and then Ikraam as he grew up, to keep his gender a secret and raise him as female. This was continued after the mother died. The oldest sister married a weak man who became the new tribe leader, but it's really been her in charge. She then set out to marry off all her sisters to other tribes so she could be HBIC. 

I had some issues right there. Not only is this plot point unrealistic, but even if it were believable, the psychological repercussions of Ikraam being raised as a female, and eventually realizing he's not female, are never even addressed. Can you imagine being raised this way? And noticing at some point that, hey, I have a penis, and, hey, the others girls do not? And, hey, I could be killed at any time if someone finds out? And, hey, my oldest sister abuses me daily and I have absolutely no way out of this situation other than death? Wouldn't YOU have some serious psychological issues? Can you imagine how fucked up that is? The suffering? The constant fear? Knowing you will die on your wedding night? Feeling that you have to go along with this plan so you can possibly save your niece from a fate worse than death? 

Additionally, Ikraam has been raised without ever learning to read, without knowing anything about the modern world (which I guess is expected when one grows up in a tent in the desert, weaving cloth and hiding underneath a niqab). And yet, this is never addressed even when Ikraam marries Fathi. The difference between Fathi, who was raised with money and educated in the US, and the poor Bedouin woman/man, who's never even been to a city, who's never read a book, who has no idea how the world works outside of goat farming and weaving cloth and hiding behind a veil - how could they possibly be compatible? And to top this off, when the secret does come out, Ikraam suggests living as a female in public, and as a male in the privacy of their bedroom, and NO ONE questions the feasibility of this and its possible repercussions. Fathi thinks it's a great idea. Is Ikraam identifying as gender-queer, made so by how he was raised? Are we supposed to believe that gender identity is thus nurture instead of nature? What message is the author sending here? 

We are introduced to Fathi and his twin brother early on. Fathi has a secretary whose only apparent purpose was to be a contrast to Ikraam as this secretary is educated and modernized, but then used only to be shamed and ridiculed for her aspirations. There's a scene at the very end that had me cringe in second-hand embarrassment that the way this particular scene played out made it past the editor. What was that, even? This is a young, modern, educated woman, someone who did a good job in the position for which she was hired, and yet, she's shamed for being interested in her boss, and the uneducated, unworldly, MALE-pretending-to-be-female Ikraam is held up as a "better" example of being female than this young woman, going so far as showing up on the arm of his new husband, dressed in traditional FEMALE finery and given an opportunity to announce to the secretary that her boss is now married and she needs to take a hike. How did this make it past the editor? What message is this sending to the reader? Readers who are primarily women? 

Don't get me started on Ikraam's oldest sister and the mother of his niece. The woman was pure evil but basically gets away with it. Not only is she perfectly willing to let Ikraam die for her subterfuge, which his husband would then obviously discover, but she's also willing to get rid of her own daughter by attempting to marry her off to a disgusting and violent man at least twice her age, who will likely break not only her spirit but also her body. Evil sister/mother don't care. And even when all of these things come out, she's not punished for her behavior. Ikraam is safe, and so is his niece, but the evil sister never gets a real punishment for not only the deception but also the cruelty and suffering she inflicted. 

Fathi is secretly gay, as I mentioned. His grandfather, described as a very traditional and old-fashioned man set in his ways, then doesn't even really blink when a) Fathi admits to being gay, and b) Ikraam's secret is revealed, and c) they want to get married anyway. Say WHAT? You're trying to tell me that an old man from the Middle East doesn't care that his heir is gay? Embraces it? Is fine with the Bedouin girl being really a man? And you explain it away by stating that he's not super religious and THAT'S IT?? I'm sorry, but I didn't buy what the author was trying to sell here. 

The secondary men in this book, namely the tribe leader and the niece's potential groom, are either weak or evil. Both were one-dimensional characters and used to provide a specific plot point or two, then discarded. 

I usually like the titles in this very tropey series, but this was a complete miss for me. The gender identity issue could have been handled in a much healthier way here, and I would have expected more conflict and pushback from the grandfather based on his portrayal. I would have liked to see some psychological help for Ikraam, and some education as well. 

This book didn't work for me. YMMV.


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

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review 2017-11-21 23:46
Book Review: Silk by K.C. Wells
Silk (A Material World Book 3) - K.C. Wells,Meredith Russell,Michael Craft

This book was gifted to me by the author in hopes I'd leave a favorable review.

Hells, yeah!! 

First off, I love this series, each one focusing on a specific material. We had Lace and Satin, and now I've devoured Silk. 

Here, we have Lucas, early 40s, a self-made millionaire, whose stoic and rigid upbringing has left him with a mild case of social anxiety and an unwillingness to form romantic attachments. Or any kind of attachments with other people, really. When he needs sex, he calls upon an escort, never inviting the same man more than twice, at the very most. Usually, the escorts get only one dance upon his silk sheets - the rare man may be hired twice. 

It was clear early on that Lucas was lonely and unhappy, but didn't realize it. He thought his life was normal. Cuddles, embraces? Who needs them. 

Then Lucas, intrigued by images online, hires Matt, 27, an escort/underwear model/server at his parents' restaurant, which he'll take over at some point. When he's ready. Modeling underwear is for fun, as is escorting - and Matt likes sex. The money is nice, but Matt knows that this isn't something he'll do long-term. Besides, his parents would be mortified and disappointed if they knew about his side jobs. He has a few regulars, but is also perfectly happy to accept new clients.

So Matt breezes into Lucas' life/condo and their first night is super hot. Holy moly, do they burn up those silky sheets. A couple of weeks later, still thinking about Matt, Lucas hires him again. And then again. And then... well, you read this for yourself.

I really liked how the author drew her characters here, giving them a full backstory that made them who they are, but also gave them room to grow and expand their world views. As Lucas and Matt go from client/escort to more, spending time outside of Lucas' condo, they both realize that they could be much more than casual sex. Matt's rule of never falling for a client crumbles. He still has other clients, but there is thankfully no sex with others once he starts hanging out with Lucas outside of the bedroom. 

Lucas, though being the older man, doesn't have a whole lot of experience with romantic relationships and it shows. And Matt, as mature as he is, crumbles under the perceived expectations of not only Lucas, but also his parents, and he definitely has some growing up to do. He's stubborn and somewhat unreasonable, but so is Lucas to some degree. They both need to learn the fine art of compromise which is so important in any relationship, and they both need to learn to communicate honestly and openly, which translates to telling each other what's bothering them. What they want. What they need. And what they expect. 

Matt's sister Angela, as well as his parents, were also well done, and I absolutely adored Lucas' grandmother Diane. The scenes set at her house were often hilarious, but Grandma Diane also has a huge hand in sorting these two knuckleheads out when they can't seem to do that on their own. 

The somewhat large age difference really didn't matter here - they were well-matched from a maturity perspective, and Lucas had no issue keeping up with Matt's libido either. *fans self*

That epilogue - perfection. I loved, loved, loved it. 

This was an excellent read, and I enjoyed myself immensely while reading. I might have taken a cold shower after, but this is not unusual for a KC Wells book. 

Recommended!!

I also need the next book, Denim, like, RTFN! The short teaser at the end of this book has me salivating already. 


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

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