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review 2018-06-11 01:15
Book Review: Secret Seth by Ki Brightly
Secret Seth - Ki Brightly

This was a sweet, unassuming, and rather quiet romance novel. 

We are first introduced to Seth from the title at a family gathering. He is the son of a construction business owner and a partner in the business, leading a construction crew. He comes across as someone reliable, steadfast, and very calm. He's also the only single and childless one in his family, which mean he's the one who's able to travel. The jobs he lands take him out of town more often than not, and while he's not too fond of the nomadic life, he enjoys the fruits of his labor, even if he's dealing with some high-maintenance clients - they sure pay well for his services. There are hints that Seth has never shown much interest in having a love life. 

Tyler, a Hollywood set designer, who after clashing with the producer over a specific set design finds himself in need of a new job. Somewhat flamboyant, Tyler makes zero excuses for wearing make-up and dressing colorfully, and whoever doesn't like it can bite him. He expects perfection of himself and those he works with, and he's not afraid to speak his mind, which sometimes gets him in trouble. 

Seth needs a new designer, and Tyler needs a new design job - obviously, that's how they meet.

Without giving away the plot, let me say that this book takes slow burn to a new level. I got the feeling that Seth is demi - he needed to form an emotional connection to Tyler before being able and willing to take things further. Tyler on the other hand is immediately intrigued by Seth and feels a strong attraction, but as his boss, Seth is obviously off-limits.

While this is on the surface an opposites-attract kind of theme, there's a whole lot more to it. Tyler yearns for a place to belong, for someone who'll take him as he is, someone who'll love him just the way he is. And Seth, having never really felt any kind of sexual attraction, is adorably confused when he starts reacting to Tyler, once he gets to know the other man. 

What really struck me while reading this book is how real the characters felt, not only the MCs, but the supporting cast as well. Seth's family are a loud and somewhat overbearing bunch, but they were all kind and supportive. The construction crew was diverse but worked well together also. The friendly banter between Tyler and Seth was fun, and I could clearly see them both falling in love with each other. 

This is a slow burn romance, so don't expect any hot smexy times right away. There's plenty of UST though, and plenty of longing and yearning, which I definitely enjoyed. The book is told from the 1st person POV, switching between Tyler and Seth. Since their voices were distinct, I had no trouble discerning who was talking at any given time.

Well-written dialogue in an engaging story - I enjoyed reading this very much, and I think you will too. 


** I received a free copy of this book from its author in exchange for an honest review. **

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review 2018-06-03 02:14
ARC Review: The Glasshouse by Rosalind Abel
The Glasshouse (Lavender Shores #6) - Rosalind Abel
The Glasshouse is the 6th book in the Lavender Shores series, and tells the romance of Adrian and Harrison.

You may remember Adrian Rivera as Micah's business partner, growing organic produce they sell to the businesses in Lavender Shores. On the farm is an old, somewhat dilapidated glass house (a growing house) with which Adrian isn't sure what to do. The Riveras are of course a founding family. 

Harrison Getty is a former NFL football player, now underwear model (after a career-ending injury), who's been starring in a reality TV show about his romance with and upcoming wedding to Will Epstein, who is also a member of a founding family. Their wedding ceremony will be broadcast live on national TV (as one does, I suppose). 

Adrian has a crush on Harrison, but obviously that can't go anywhere because Harrison is getting married to Will. He's one of the groomsmen and trying his best to keep his distance, and his mask in place.

And then Harrison, overwhelmed, unsure, and feeling trapped, runs. While the cameras are rolling.

Oh, the scandal!!!

And this is only the first chapter or so. Obviously, I'm not going to give away the entire plot here. Let's just say that Will leaves town to escape the humiliation (I did feel sorry for him), and Harrison hides in his brother Jasper's apartment. 

The fallout is massive, for sure, and gets worse when Harrison and Adrian are caught in a passionate embrace in said glasshouse. 

It's obvious from the start that Harrison hasn't been happy for some time, not with Will, not with how his life was going, and not with the TV crews following his every move. For a very long time, Harrison has been who everyone expected him to be, to the point that he doesn't even know what he really wants anymore. Or who he really is. So he's got some work to do on that front, and I really liked how the author gave him that chance here. 

The glasshouse becomes an important part of their story, and I thought that the analogy the author used here was rather clever - as Adrian cleans up the glasshouse (which is sort of the foundation of their romance) and reclaims the space, so Harrison de-clutters his life to make room for the person he wants to be, to make space for his true wants and needs. 

While some aspects of this book touch on couples from the previous books, and supporting characters from the series show up here as well, this can be read as a stand-alone, especially if you've reviewed the author's website that fully lays out how everyone is connected in this town. 

Though, to be honest, I would recommend you read the entire series. These are feel-good, easy reads, high on romance and passion, and well worth your time. 


** I received a free copy of this book from its author in exchange for an honest review. **

 

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review 2018-05-28 02:27
ARC Review: Nasu by Jet Lupin
Nasu - Jet Lupin

I was approached by the author about a review for this book. The blurb doesn't really tell you a whole lot about who (and what) Shige is, but I was intrigued so I said yes.

I'm glad I did. This was an interesting and enthralling read, despite the multitude of grammatical and spelling issues that a good editor or proofreader should have found. 

Phil, a nurse, is in dire need of some time off. He basically works, comes home to take care of his dog Hugo, eats, sleeps, and goes back to work. His shift is the graveyard one, so he's awake at night and asleep during the day, which doesn't really make for much of a social life. But now he's got some vacation coming, and his good friend decides they both need a night out on the town.

While at a club, Phil meets Shige, a handsome stranger. Attraction is instantaneous and mutual, and they spend a night together.

Then weird things happen. 

I won't spoil the plot here, but suffice it to say that the book had a myriad of interesting characters and doesn't focus on the romance between Shige and Phil. Evil forces are at work, and the relationship doesn't develop naturally because of those, as Phil and Shige don't spend a whole lot of time together, and even when they do, they keep getting interrupted. 

While Phil and Shige are interesting and engaging characters on their own, I didn't feel as if their relationship truly developed outside of the potential supernatural attraction they felt. Shige's mysterious aura, combined with his unwillingness to reveal his secrets, made for a contentious relationship, and though Phil eventually believes what his eyes (and everyone else) are trying to tell him, he too expresses a reluctance to commit. Not that I blamed him - if your entire life is suddenly uprooted because some guy you met a club whisks you off to his lair because of having put your life in danger, but doesn't tell you what's going on, you'd be pissed off too. 

The author did a fine job with the world-building. There was no info-dumping, and information was revealed slowly as part of the plot. There's a myriad of supporting characters, and the atmosphere created here is often dark and mysterious. The book kept me interested, and I didn't feel bored at all. The dialogue felt organic and believable, and I liked that Phil didn't take any crap from Shige or anyone else unless he absolutely had to. I also liked that he wasn't written as a "damsel-in-distress". 

What bothered me a bit was the ending - this wasn't advertised as the first in a series, and I was a bit surprised when I came to the end without having a HEA or even a strong HFN. There are still too many open questions, and I wasn't all that happy to find that the 2nd book isn't finished yet. While we leave Phil and Shige in a somewhat good place in their still developing relationship, their story isn't done, and I wish I had known this before starting this book. I wouldn't call it an absolute cliffhanger, but it wasn't a real ending. 

I mentioned the editing issues - on occasion, they would yank me out of the flow, and I recommend that the author get a good proofreader to fix those issues. I'd hate to see folks miss out on a good book because they can't get past the errors. 

This was my first book by this author, but I'm definitely interested to see what they cook up next. 


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

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review 2018-05-12 02:03
ARC Review: Hawk In The Rowan by Sam Burns
Hawk In The Rowan - Sam Burns

Oh, this was so, so good, y'all. This is the 2nd book in the arc for Devon Murphy, head of the town council, and Wade Hunter, deputy sheriff and his mate. While this might be readable as a standalone, I don't recommend you do. You'd miss out on their beginning, and you'd miss out on this quirky, wonderful, amazing town full of supernatural beings who all support each other and try to protect each other from harm of outsiders who would use and abuse them, simply for what they are.

In the very first book of this trilogy of trilogies, we got to meet Devon and Wade for the first time and watched them enter a romantic relationship, amid fighting a threat to the town and Devon coming into his own as he learns about his abilities, being Fae. That book left them with a strong HFN, but I knew that Devon struggled a bit - not only with his newfound abilities and responsibilities, but also with his inner voice that tells that he doesn't want to be tied down, and that he's not what they all see in him.

Now that the danger from the first three books has apparently passed, Devon wonders if he'll stay. Whether he should stay. Whether he should make a big commitment to Wade. Whether that is too much, too fast. Whether he's really supposed to stay, he, the wanderer.

We see him interact with Salli (a siren), Wade's brother Jesse, who's Devon's best friend, Fletcher and his mate, Jesse's mate Sean, Helena McKenzie who still treats Devon like he's dirt beneath her feet, for reasons we find out inside the pages, the vampire Cassidy, and the wise Oak - all the characters from the first trilogy make an appearance again and further the plot in their own way.

And then danger visits Rowan Harbor again.

I continue to be amazed by this author's prowess. For most of this book, I was at the edge of my seat, breathless and clutching my Nook white-knuckled. The tension builds slowly, like the blizzard coming, and when the weather unleashes its might, so does the danger, and Devon is right in the middle.

The symbolism is evident - as Devon fights the beast in the woods, he's also fighting the beast within him, the one that doubts, that fears, that wonders. And as he is victorious over the beast without, he also slays the one within. As he saves the towns folk (not on his own, of course), so he saves not only his own heart but Wade's too. And as the beast falls, so does Devon's doubt that he truly is exactly where he's meant to be.

And finally, Devon sees, really sees, what's been in front of him all along. Amazing what happens when you conquer your fears and speak your truth.

Obviously, this isn't the end, and I expect book 5 to pick up where we left off with Jesse Hunter and Sean Anderson as well as a new danger to the town, where all of our new friends have to come together to save the day.

This is such a fantastic series, and I cannot recommend it highly enough. Run, don't walk, to get yourself a copy of these books. They are well worth your time.



** I received a free copy of this book from the tour organizer in exchange for an honest review. **

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review 2018-05-01 03:01
ARC Review: Diego's Secret by Bryan T. Clark
Diego's Secret - Bryan T. Clark

25 year old Diego Castillo came to the US at the age of 17 after illegally crossing the border from Mexico with his two older brothers via a coyote - a person paid to smuggle people into the US. This cost their father lots of money, but they hoped for a better future than what they would have had in Mexico. When staying with an uncle didn't work out, Diego and his brother rented a tiny 2 bedroom apartment where they still live, plus the oldest brother's girlfriend. Unable to obtain legal status, Diego runs a landscaping business and tries to fly under the radar as much as possible, including keeping his sexuality a secret from his brothers. Being a Mariposa is obviously a no-no. 

Winston Makena, 32, is widowed and grieving. Having lost his husband suddenly, he's barely going through the motions. He lives comfortably in a mansion, where Diego is his gardener, but has basically distanced himself from his company and only leaves the house if he absolutely has to. He notices the gardener, who mows his yard every week, who plants the beautiful flowers his late husband loved, and who keeps the garden looking gorgeous. He notices. And finally steps outside to talk to the guy. 

And thus the two finally meet. Diego is of course aware of the older man, but keeps his distance, until Winston makes the first move.

This book is by design a slow-burn romance. Winston is struck by the younger man, but also unsure of whether he should pursue him, and Diego feels completely out of his element. There's a bit of a language barrier, but also, much bigger, a social barrier to overcome. They are two very different people, and for a long time Diego is hesitant and afraid to let Winston in, not only due to their different social standing, but also out of fear what his brothers will say.

While the two men spend a lot of time together on page, the author also took the time to expand on their daily lives, which made the book drag a bit on occasion. Still, there weren't many superfluous scenes, and the story unfolded mostly organically. 

In fact, I liked that the two men didn't immediately jump into bed, and that their romance didn't immediately solve all their problems. It felt realistic to me, though I still have questions about the solution to Diego's immigration status - simply marrying an illegal doesn't automatically grant them a Green Card, and there are additional steps they'll have to take. 

Overall, I believed the relationship, and I appreciated that it unfolded slowly - it made it more believable.

This was my first book by this author. 


** I received a free copy of this book from its author in exchange for an honest review. **
 

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