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review 2017-04-27 01:56
Release Day ARC Review: Vodka And Handcuffs by Brandon Witt
Vodka & Handcuffs (Mary's Boys Book 2) - Brandon Witt

The title of this book, much like the first one in this series, plays on the occupations of the two MCs - one a bartender, the other a cop.

Vahin, the bartender, is Muslim, and from India, and gay, and out, which has caused him to be shunned by his family. Marlon, the cop, is black, also gay, but deep in the closet. His partner on the beat is basically a Jeff Sessions wannabe - a racist, homophobic, xenophobic asshole first class, who thinks he can do what he wants because his daddy is a Senator. He's also universally hated by all, including the Chief, and only assigned to Marlon because the Chief figured it'd be best to pair the asshole with his best cop.

Marlon meets Vahin at Hamburger Mary's, they have a night of drunken fun, mostly off-page, and then shit hits the fan, what with the racist cop partner trying to frame Vahin and arrest him, and Marlon being involuntarily outed, and ... yeah... none of it is pretty. This is not a fluffy book. The blurb is a bit misleading. Okay, maybe a lot misleading. Don't expect a fluffy, easy read.

The only real fun on page is when ManDonna struts her stuff - I flove her! She takes no shit, and she will hand you your balls, and you'll thank her for it.

I didn't quite believe the romance in the time line used, and while we get a HFN, I wasn't sure that things were going to last - perhaps we'll see how that goes in a future installment for this series. I do want them to last, I do. I just have doubts that their still fresh relationship can survive the roadblocks that will continue to be in their way, despite marriage equality, and despite the tide slowly turning in their favor. I want to believe that Denver is a bit more enlightened when it comes to racism, homophobia, and xenophobia.

I think this might have worked a little better for me if the book had been longer and had taken the time to really delve into the issues, and perhaps stretch out the time frame a little bit more. The issues raised here are definitely hot topics, and I was a little disappointed that Marlon's forced coming out, and that loathsome, filthy, evil, little cockroach partner's despicable actions weren't given adequate resolutions. Perhaps that is fitting after all - in today's political climate, what with the current administration in the White House, and the "values" for which they stand, it's certainly possible to look at this and realize that, yeah, there won't be any adequate resolutions to homophobia, xenophobia, and blatant racism, until we've gotten rid of the pestilence in orange that empowered this pond scum to strut around with their ignorant flags and "white power" bullshit.

Kudos to this author for making his main characters non-white. I wish there were more books that did that. There is a message within this book too - as a POC, you have to stand up for yourself every damn day, against hatred, against persecution, against blatant ignorance, and if you're POC and gay, your resilience will be tested time and again in triplicate. I commend the author for touching on these difficult subjects with honesty and sensitivity.

The author also sets up the next book toward the end, which will feature Zachary aka Ariel Merman. I had my heart in my throat while reading that bit, and I need the next book, like, now.

This series is quickly becoming a favorite of mine, and that's primarily due to what it isn't - lighthearted fluff. I want to read books that deal with current affairs, and this one definitely does.


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

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review 2017-04-26 02:38
ARC Review: Anything For You by Ethan Day
Anything For You - Ethan Day

One major niggle up front - the way Trent drugged Jason, as unintentional as the consequences were - yeah, super not cool. I was mad!

But I got over it.

Jason is deep in the closet. So deep he's actually almost in Narnia. Not out to anyone except his closest friends, he has a basket by his front door so he can quickly "de-gay" his apartment whenever someone not his closest friends comes over. Such as his sister. Who's a lesbian herself, and who you'd think Jason might feel comfortable opening up to.

But no. Jason is in Narnia.

Then he meets Chad, while under the influence of alcohol and Valium. Chad is a coming-out guru who's recently moved back from D.C. and Jason wants to make like a monkey and climb him. And does. Repeatedly.

Except there's that thing about being in Narnia, and while Chad is patient for a while, eventually Jason needs to make up his mind about what's more important - staying in the closet and losing Chad, or joining the rainbow and keeping the love of his life.

With snappy dialogue, tons of humor, snark, and sarcasm, this is a fun and cute and really quick read. But it's not just a romantic comedy, there's some sadness and some angst too, but it's mixed in relatively sparsely and doesn't overpower the romance or the comedy. Well-developed characters, and a fine supporting cast, especially Jason's sister Annie, make this a great book to read during a long lunch break.

Recommended!


** I received a free copy of this book from the author upon its re-release. A positive review was not promised in return. **

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review 2017-04-23 08:00
Blog Tour for Lie To Me by Jess Ryder: My Review
Lie to Me: A gripping psychological thriller with a shocking twist - Jess Ryder

How can you tell the truth... if all you've ever known is a lie?

Three minutes. That’s all it takes for Meredith’s entire world to fall apart when she watches the videotape of her four-year-old self with Becca, the mother who abandoned her.

Meredith can’t believe what her eyes have seen. Yet what if her memory has locked away the painful reality of her childhood? Can there be any truth in the strange and dangerous story her mother forced her to tell on camera? 

The search for answers leads Meredith to Darkwater Pool, the scene of the murder of a young woman, Cara, over 30 years ago. What could possibly be the link between her mother and the victim?

To find the truth Meredith must search through a past that is not her own. The problem is, she’s not the only one looking…

A dark, compulsive psychological thriller that will keep you up all night. Perfect for fans of Paula Hawkins and Louise Jensen.

 

My Review:

Lie to Me is a tale told from three different perspectives, with the narrator of each chapter named to avoid any possible confusion. As Meredith tries to uncover more about her mother Becca, following her discovery of the video tape in the present time; we also hear  from Cara, the Darkwater Pool murder victim from thirty years ago. We also hear from Christopher Jay, who was Cara's boyfriend at the time of her murder. All this information throws up threads linking the characters together and twists here and there. It was unusual to have the perspective of a murder victim, and I found it interesting getting to know her and find out more about her life and what happened leading up to her death.

 

There are more than a couple of red herrings here and there and a few twists, but among all the death and lies, Meredith's relationship with her lovely father Graeme shines through. It's a welcome relief! The appearance of the fabulous Isobel is great too. I enjoyed the second half of the book much more and it became much harder to put down. For a debut, this is a very readable novel and one I'd recommend to my fellow crime readers. I'm looking forward to seeing what Jess Ryder comes up with next!

 

Special thanks to Bookouture, Jess Ryder and Netgalley for providing an ARC in return for my unbiased review.

 

Lie To Me - Buy it here:-

UK 

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review 2017-04-16 00:25
ARC Review: Forgotten Paradise by Shira Anthony
Forgotten Paradise (Dreamspun Desires Book 32) - Shira Anthony

This book made lovely use of the amnesia trope - with a twist, albeit one that was (un)intentionally revealed fairly early on.

Adam Preston is a programmer by heart and a computer business owner by trade. Having taken over the company his father built after Dad's untimely demise, he now has Entech, a giant, ruthless company, after his business and his brains. At odds with his younger brother, and stressed from having to deal with a merger he doesn't want, Adam takes his sister's advice and take a week's vacation in the Dominican Republic.

Where he meets Jonah James, who's lived on the island for the last 10 years after washing up on its shore without any memory of his former life. He's managed to become a Diving Instructor, and now leads groups of or individuals tourists on dives around the island. Any time he tries to remember his past, he's hit by massive headaches and mostly doesn't even try anymore. Except spending time with Adam seems to lift the murky veils that cover his past, and Jonah starts to get glimpses of events of who he might have been before.

The first half of the story describes what they presume is just a vacation fling - picnics on the beach, diving, spending time together as much as possible, talking to each other about whatever comes to mind, and realizing that the feelings they're developing may be more than just a fling. On Adam's last night, they finally fall into bed together and burn up the sheets.

The second half of the book deals with the fallout of Jonah regaining his memory (nothing like a night of great sex to get that clarity, amirite), and that changes the dynamic completely.

Adam finds out on the news that what they had joked about during an evening at the beach is actually true, and (view spoiler).

Which brings us to the second trope utilized in this book - getting a second chance. Jonah, upon regaining his memories, and reliving the event that caused him to ultimately wash up on the beach, uses this as a turning point in his life and begins to make amends, realizing that chasing success ruthlessly isn't all that life's about. There's a subplot here too with his business partner that for a while there causes Adam and Jonah's romance to fully derail.

Adam too has a chance to change - especially the relationship he has with his brother - and look at things differently. He's heartbroken, of course, thinking that he's lost Jonah, but deals with the pain as best as he can.

The author did a fabulous job realizing fully fleshed-out, three-dimensional characters in this book and allowed them to grow as well. Set against a gorgeous backdrop, the romance was absolutely believable, even if Jonah's background story is pretty unrealistic, but I expect that from the books in this series. I very much enjoyed reading this, especially as the author seamlessly weaves in fun facts about diving as well.

Obviously, this has a HEA - it wouldn't be a Dreamspun Desires title without. Recommended.


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

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review 2017-04-09 00:08
ARC Review: Fallen Angel by Eden Winters
Fallen Angel (The Angel of 13th Street Book 2) - Eden Winters

In this sequel to The Angel Of 13th Street, we catch up with Noah and Jeremy shortly after the ending of the first book.

Jeremy is trying to help a meth addict off the streets, Noah is struggling with memories and haunted still by whom he couldn't save while he's trying to save another teenager, and Doc is making plans to turn the mission over to Noah, formalize it more, and get more volunteers.

And Jeremy is about to graduate from high school with plans to attend college on a scholarship, which will likely take him away from Noah.

In this book, Noah stumbles hard and nearly falls, and it's the Angel himself who needs saving this time around. Stuck in the memories from his former life on the streets, Noah lets his anger and his grief nearly consume him, full of doubt that he's doing any good at all, because he couldn't save Billy, not realizing that he's approaching an emotional meltdown.

This book is primarily Noah's story, whereas the first one was primarily about Jeremy finding his feet. We see flashback after flashback to Noah's life with Billy, his time as a rentboy, a drug addict, and the fall that nearly killed him but ended up saving him. We watch Noah fight his demons, and struggle with depression and hopelessness when he can't save Chip from the clutches of his pimp.

Eden Winters doesn't mince words here, and there's no fluff inside either. This is raw and gritty, showing the seedy underbelly of society that most of us don't want to see.

But there's love and hope too, and there are successes, such as Lark, who finds the strength to leave Tina behind and pull himself out of the mess his life has become.

We also get a full glimpse into Noah's and Jeremy's domesticity, and it was lovely to see Jeremy maturity level increase even more. I really enjoyed seeing him be so patient with Noah, not pushing, but also not allowing Noah to completely self-destruct either. I think that Noah's burned out emotionally, and he's not yet fully realized that Jeremy is an equal partner in the relationship, and not just the kid he saved and who's now running the Tub Of Suds next to the bar. The fact that Noah keeps things to himself and, even worse, keeps things from Jeremy is super not cool, but also understandable within Noah's frame of mind.

There are some intimate scenes, and these further the plot, showcasing how Jeremy catches Noah when he stumbles, which really drives home the point how much Jeremy has grown into himself.

Again, this is not a fluffy book, but it feels real, it's superbly crafted, it has fully fleshed out, three-dimensional characters, and the author is never afraid to call a spade a spade. I, for one, appreciate that.

I look forward to Lark's story.


** I received a free copy of this book via Indigo Marketing and Design. A positive review was not promised in return. **

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