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review 2020-04-05 22:33
Sweat and Soap (manga, vol. 1) by Kintetsu Yamada, translated by Matt Treyvaud
Sweat and Soap, Vol. 1 - Kintetsu Yamada,Matt Treyvaud

When she was a child, Asako was bullied for the way she sweated, and she's been painfully self-conscious about her body odor ever since. She now works in the Finance Department of her favorite toiletries and cosmetics company, Liliadrop, and although the company's soaps and other products give her happiness, she still worries so much about her body odor that it pretty much dictates her whole life. She keeps quiet and still so she won't work up a sweat, and she spends her work breaks reapplying deodorant.

Then one day a man comes up to her at work, sniffs her, and declares that she smells amazing and that, for the good of the company, he must sniff her every day. Natori is a planner in Liliadrop's production development. He's supposed to come up with ideas for the company's Winter soap lineup, but he's been drawing a blank. Asako's scent inspires him and, although the idea of being sniffed makes her anxious, Asako wants to help the man behind the soaps she loves so much. But what if there's more than just soap inspiration brewing between them?

Before reading the review that inspired me to buy this, I'd seen this work around multiple times and always scrolled past it without even bothering to look at its product page. I honestly didn't even know how it was tagged or what age range it was aimed at - I saw the cover art and automatically assumed it was rapey porn aimed at guys with a particular interest in on-page bodily fluids.

In reality, it's a quirky workplace romance that includes some steamy moments and a couple non-explicit sex scenes. There's more on-page nudity on her part than on his, but it's of the Barbie doll variety, with nipple-less breasts. The focus is more on Asako and Natori and their developing relationship than on sex.

I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this. I've actually read it three times now and am very much looking forward to the next volume. Natori wasn't the alpha jerk the cover art had me assuming he'd be. He was confident about his sense of smell and abilities as a soap creator, but more awkward when it came to his and Asako's romantic relationship, even though he didn't have Asako's pile of insecurities. Asako had spent so much of her life being small and quiet that it carried over into their relationship - she'd avoid talking about things that worried or upset her because she didn't want to upset or bother Natori. This caused some minor problems, but I was pleasantly surprised at a conversation they had at the end of the volume, and I'm crossing my fingers that jealousy (on her part) won't become volume 2's big issue.

In some ways, Asako and Natori's relationship made me think of Kimi no Todoke's Sawako and Kazehaya. Natori was the popular guy, always surrounded by people and generally comfortable in his own skin, while Asako, like Sawako, was more reserved and painfully aware of the negative effect she might be having on others (although in Asako's case it was more in her head - there was zero indication that anyone in her adult life thought she smelled bad or sweated more than other people).

The beginning of this volume, in particular, may throw some people off. Natori's Asako-sniffing sessions tended to look like quick workplace trysts, and there was one bit where he got a little too into it and started to cross a line, freaking Asako out. While I liked that he realized he'd done something inappropriate and apologized, I wished Asako hadn't felt the need to say that she was the one who should apologize. During my rereads, though, I realized that it fit her character - she was smoothing things over and avoiding conflict as best she could.

I wish I'd discovered this series after a few more volumes had been released - I'd love it if I could immediately read more. I'm looking forward to seeing where the author goes with this. Here's hoping the next few volumes are as enjoyable as this one.

Extras:

A two-page manga-style afterword by the author, plus a two-page bonus comic about Asako's bra shopping trip after her first night at Natori's place. One thing the afterword revealed that I hadn't realized: the manga's first chapter was originally a one-shot.

 

(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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review 2020-03-09 01:15
Dekoboko Sugar Days (manga) by Atsuko Yusen, translated by Christine Dashiell
Dekoboko Sugar Days - Atsuko Yusen

Rui is tall, energetic, sweet, and prone to fretting. Yuujirou is athletic, short, and has a complex about his height. The two high schoolers have been friends since they were children. Rui had fallen into a gutter and Yuujirou rescued him. At the time, Yuujirou thought Rui was a very cute girl...and fell instantly in love. Even after he found out that Rui was actually a boy, he couldn't shake his feelings, and it's getting harder and harder to hide them. What Yuujirou doesn't know is that Rui is starting to realize that his feelings of deep admiration for his friend might actually be love.

I hate myself a little for giving Tokyopop any of my money. I'm still bitter about the licenses they left in limbo and series that went unfinished after the company imploded. But this looked really cute, so I ignored my bitter feelings and bought it.

And it was cute, for the most part. The first half was devoted to Yuujirou and Rui's mutual pining. In the second half, they'd finally admitted how they felt about each other but were still feeling their way around being boyfriends in addition to childhood friends. And FYI, unlike a lot of one-shots, the entire volume is devoted to this one couple - no spinoff bonus stories at the end, and no unrelated older works by the same author. I appreciated that, although I wouldn't have said no to a bonus story devoted to Takenaka, the sad stud doomed to unrequited love.

My favorite part of the volume was the first half. I love mutual pining. I love the anticipation of the moment the characters finally realize that the person they love loves them back. This volume gave me a good deal of that, and it was fun.

Yuujirou's efforts to push Rui away were a little annoying, but understandable (poor Yuujirou and his embarrassing and inconvenient boners). I was more annoyed by the introduction of the freshman girl who had a crush on Yuujirou - Yuujirou didn't seem like the kind of guy who'd try out a relationship he wasn't into, even in an effort to hide his feelings for Rui, and it irked me that the girl didn't even get to have a name or a face (her eyes were always obscured by her hair).

Yuujirou was more aware of his feelings than Rui, so Rui's part of the story was more about him examining his admiration for Yuujirou and realizing what his friend meant to him. He was a complete sweetheart. Also, it was just a little thing, but I got a kick out of the visual gag involving his cat. Every time Rui was on his bed, fretting about Yuujirou, his cat came by to step on his face.

The second half of the volume was where dating and sex came in. The dating was fun - Yuujirou and Rui were two adorable dorks who were interested in sex but too used to going out as friends to know how to move things along. They eventually figured things out, though, and that's where my feelings about the story got a little iffier.

On the plus side, they were both 100% on board with sex - no rapey tinge, although there was one instance of accidental voyeurism (if there really are love hotel rooms like that, then eww). On the minus side, after a whole volume of adorable awkwardness on both their parts, Yuujirou suddenly became the sexy and perfect seme to Rui's blushing uke. Considering that their sex education seemed to be a bit shaky (it sure looked like the sex advice book Rui bought was intended for women, or possibly heterosexual couples) and that they were both high school students having sex for the first time ever, I'd have expected some awkwardness.

Now for the artwork. I mostly liked it. Characters' facial expressions were great, but it bugged me a little that Yuujirou and Rui's face shapes and body types were somewhat inconsistent. I occasionally mistook Takenaka for Yuujirou, and Rui had weird moments when he suddenly looked more buff. As far as the explicitness level goes, yes, there's on-page sex, but any potentially objectionable body parts were obscured. Fairly tame, despite the "Mature, Ages 18+" rating on the back. (Side note: manga ratings drive me nuts and aren't very helpful. I have one that's rated 16+ that's way more explicit than this.)

Anyway, despite my complaints I still enjoyed this overall and even reread the first three quarters or so a couple times. It's one of those rare one-shots that I think was exactly as long as it needed to be.

Extras:

Two full-color illustrations (on matte paper rather than the usual glossy) and a brief afterword by the author, with a cute illustration of Yuujirou, Rui, and a cat.

 

(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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text 2020-03-03 07:10
Release Blast - Forbidden on Ice
 
Title: Forbidden on Ice
Series: A Boys of Winter Novel
Author: S.R. Grey
Genre: Sports Romance/Romantic Comedy
Release Date: March 3, 2020
 
"Hilarious and perfectly 'played' sports romance that I devoured in one sitting! I can't wait to read more." - #1 NYT Bestselling author Rachel Van Dyken
 
"The usual Grey crisp writing, lovable heroes that you kinda want to slap, and a heroine that doesn't back down," Resistance on Ice is another fun standalone novel in the bestselling Boys of Winter hockey romance series.” - Wall Street Journal Bestselling Author Ilsa Madden-Mills
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
They say that which is forbidden tastes the sweetest. And you know what? 
 
It is abso-effin-lutely true. 
 
My name is Blake Cavaletti, and I was recently traded to the Las Vegas Wolves hockey team. But before the season even started, I met the coolest girl. Her name is Noelle, and she’s hot as sin. 
 
Too bad it may now end before it even begins. See, I just found out the girl I like so much is my teammate Noel Sandlund’s twin sister.
 
Talk about messed up! 
 
He’s a friend of mine and uber-protective of his sister. 
 
Man, how did I not see the resemblance? Must’ve been Noelle’s amazing boobs and fabulous ass that threw me off. Or maybe it’s because she’s so perfect for me.
 
Somehow, though, I don’t think that’ll fly with Noel. No, he’s probably going to kill me when he finds out. 
 
That’s why he can never learn the truth. 
 
Not until I prove myself—to the team, to Noelle, and to her protective brother. 
 
Before it all blows up. 
 
Forbidden on Ice is the eighth novel in the bestselling Boys of Winter hockey romance series. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
S.R. Grey is an Amazon Top 30 Bestselling Author and a #1 Barnes & Noble Bestselling Author. Check out her newest bestselling Boys of Winter hockey rom-com series. Each is a complete standalone novel, but the characters are interconnected and may pop up anywhere. 
 
Ms. Grey's novels have appeared on multiple Amazon Bestseller Lists, including the Top 100 several times. She is also a Top 100 Bestselling Author on iTunes. 
 
Residing in Pennsylvania, when not writing Ms. Grey can be found reading, traveling, running, and cheering for her hometown sports teams. Sometimes all at the same time!
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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review 2020-01-31 14:49
A Groom With A View by Sophie Ranald
A Groom With a View: Romantic Comedy with a Sting in the Tail... - Sophie Ranald

This was a light-hearted, funny romance with a sting. It was about relationships and how the past have a lasting influence on them, but above all it was about weddings and how they often get way out of hand and lead to bitterness and resentment.

 

Pippa and Nick have always said marriage isn’t for them, but when they go to a friend’s wedding they get very drunk and decide to get married. Pippa is a chef and can’t do the planning for the wedding because she’s really busy, so Nick takes over and even writes a blog about his experience called, A Groom With A View. Pippa wants the wedding to be a small, intimate affair, but soon enough it gets out of hand. The problem is she doesn’t really communicate this with Nick and instead gets more and more resentful. I know people get bothered about this plot maneuver, where if only the characters spoke to one another things would be resolved. I get why it’s annoying as I did feel this a bit. Anyway, Nick has some glaring faults, too, so it isn’t all Pippa’s fault. That’s what I really liked about this book, the characters were very real, although I must admit one made a surprising U-turn in her attitude at the end of the novel which was a bit unbelievable.

 

I’m not into weddings myself, so was skeptical about this book going in, but the focus wasn’t on weddings per-se, but instead how they can wreak havoc in relationships and garner much more attention than they deserve. That was my favourite aspect of the novel, the fact that it wasn’t just a fluffy romance, but imparted wisdom and caution. Weddings were almost critiqued, which I really liked.

 

Overall this isn’t a novel I’m going to especially remember in 6 months, but it was good for what it was and had much more substance than I initially thought it would.

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text 2020-01-29 07:05
Cover Reveal & Blogger Sign up - The Guy in the Middle
We're so excited to reveal the cover for The Guy in the Middle by Kate Stewart! The sign ups are open to bloggers, and we would love for you to join us for the upcoming release events!
 
 
Contemporary Romance
Blurb:
 

I was born to play and bred to win.

My priorities were instilled in me early on—family and football. Those ideals led me to TGU and a coach whose ironclad principles mirrored my own.

With one last college season to play, my goal was singular—get drafted. By realizing my NFL dream, I could save my family, our ranch, and the only home I’d ever known.

Two birds, one ball.

Playing hard was my only option, but there’s always a wild card.

For all of my planning and hard work, I never anticipated falling for the coach's daughter. Harper was a fair catch, but who knew loving her could be the one play to throw my career before it started or that the weight of our secret would change the game.

*The Guy in the Middle is a stand alone novel in the Underdog Series. This is Lance's story.

 
Blogger Sign ups!
Teasers: Feb 4, 11, 18, 25
Excerpt reveal: Feb 12
Release day: Feb 29
Review tour: Feb 29-Mar 7
 




About the Author::

USA Today bestselling author and Texas native, Kate Stewart, lives in North Carolina with her husband, Nick, and her naughty beagle, Sadie. She pens messy, sexy, angst-filled contemporary romance, as well as romantic comedy and erotic suspense. Kate's title, Drive, was named one of the best romances of 2017 by The New York Daily News and Huffington Post. Drive was also a finalist in the Goodreads Choice awards for best contemporary romance of 2017. Her works have been featured in USA TODAY, BuzzFeed, and translated in five languages.

Kate is a lover of all things '80s and '90s, especially John Hughes films and rap. She dabbles a little in photography, can knit a simple stitch scarf for necessity, and on occasion, does very well at whiskey.
 
 
 
 
 
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