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review 2018-02-01 23:02
Let's talk about rhubarb...
The Rhubarb Patch - Deanna Wadsworth

Yeah, let's start with rhubarb because that's where this story really begins. I'm a country girl so needless to say I'm familiar with rhubarb and country life in general. Which was part of the appeal this book held for me.

 

When Scott Howe inherits a house in the country from his estranged grandmother, he's not really sure what to expect but he takes this as his opportunity for time and chance to allow him to make the changes in himself that he needs to make if he's ever going to be truly happy. Scott's tends to want to make others happen even when it's at the expense of his own personal happiness and his identity and while he recognizes this, he also knows that it's not the road he needs to take it he's ever going to be truly happy and content with himself. So Scott packs up and heads for his new home in the country just outside of Gilead and declares it to be 'the year of no men' or no men until a tightie white, orange rubber boot wearing, rifle carring Phineas Robertson confronts him in...come on you know where it is...take a guess...that's right...in the rhubarb patch.

 

While Phin and Scott may each like what they see when they first meet and granted Scott definitely gets to see more than Phin, lol!!! This is not a love at first sight story...not even close. Phin and Scott start out as neighbors and from there they progress to friends and then lovers. They take their time getting to know each other and Scott tentatively tries to hang on to his 'year of no men' vow but Phin's kind and gentle nature and his patience are more than Scott can resist not to mention his big, bear of a body...yep, Phin's not a GQ model or straight out off the cover of Sports Illustrated. He's a real man with a few extra pounds and initially he's a bit self conscious about it but as his relationship progresses with Scott he comes to realize that Scott likes what he sees and he's not interested in Phin being any different...which is one of the things that I liked about Scott.

 

There's a lot going on in this story besides Scott and Phin's growing relationship. Scott's got some definite family dynamics to deal with there's a cousin who's oars aren't in the water and he's 'out to get Scott for stealing his inheritance', there's issues between Scott and his mother that are coming to the forefront of their relationship because of his inheriting his grandmother's farm as well as mom's relationship with her latest 'loser' boyfriend...seriously woman, if you think this joker treats you well than we need to talk...he's so much excess baggage but you know love is blind...deaf and sometimes downright dumb.

 

So simply put this is a bit of a romance/mystery/thriller type story and Scott's not alone in having things to work out because Phin's got his own baggage from his past to deal with but at least none of his is coming after him or anyone else it all about putting his memories in the past where they belong so he can move on.

 

My biggest hang-up with this story was the details...I mean the abundance of details. Don't get me wrong I like detail in my story but it's a matter of finding the right balance and in this case I found that the amount of detail tended to be too much, to often. Sorry I re-lived more than I needed to when it came to gardening, canning and country life in general and that could very well be on me because...country girl here, done it, seen it...ate the rhubarb.

 

I enjoyed the parts where Scott went exploring his new surroundings that worked for me and I liked seeing the little town of Gilead through his eyes as he discovered his new surroundings. I was good with any time that Scott and Phin spent together unfortunately for some reason I just never became a big fan of Scott and Phin together...as a couple. They never quite seemed to work and maybe that was due in part to the fact that while I liked Scott and as a person he really did mature from where he was at the beginning of the book, I just never quite connected with him and to be honest I also had a teeny, tiny issue with Phin as well...

 

Scott and Phin were supposedly working on a total honesty concept and at one point Phin seemed to be priding himself on his total honesty but it was all while having a loaded handgun in his night table. A gun that he had promised Scott wasn't there...so yeah, I had a tiny issue with this because total honesty...not so much.

 

I think one of my favorite parts of this story was 'Nancy', Scott's grandmother...yes, I'm talking about the deceased grandmother who left Scott her house. Throughout this story we are painted a picture of one person viewed through the eyes of her grandsons...Scott and Mike, the grandson who felt should have inherited things, Scott's mother, who while I have to admit is probably one of my least favorite mothers...ever had her own less than unbiased view of who Nancy was and we are given a look at her through the eyes of the community she lived in and lastly we are painted yet another picture of 'Nancy' as she was to her best friend and neighbor...Phin.

 

For me Nancy was representative of almost any of us because I'm betting if you asked 6 people you know to write down their impression of you what you would find would be 6 impressions that differed to varying degrees. This for me made Nancy seem real. I don't think any of us act exactly the same with each person we know and unless it's done intentionally or with malice intended I think subtle changes in a persons behavior happen as part of an instinctual response to a persons environment and even though she was technically dead Nancy seemed to be the driving force behind a lot of what was happening in this story.

 

Overall 'The Rhubarb Patch' was a sweet, second chance, starting over, finding true love kind of story and while it wasn't as good for me as I had hoped it would be there was still more that I enjoyed than I didn't and I'm looking forward to seeing not only what but who comes next in 'The Men of Gilead'. 

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review 2017-10-04 02:10
This was surprising little gem...
Out of the Shadows (Dreamspun Desires Book 40) - K.C. Wells,Finn Sterling

I have to admit I wasn't sure what to expect with this one  but it's K. C. Wells so I felt fairly certain that at the worst I was going to at least like this one. Well I did and I was even more pleasantly surprised to realize that I more than liked it. 

 

'Out of the Shadows' turned out to be a sweet story about a Christian Hernandez, a man who is left severely scared on the right side of his body...specifically his face and arm and how he comes to see that while the scars he was left with are a part of him they don't have to define him and Josh the sweet man who enters his life due to renovations that are being made in the apartment complex where he lives who sees beyond how Christian looks to the man he is. One of my favorite things about this story is the banter between Josh and Christian. From their first conversation I found them to be totally charming and adorable.

 

While there's not really any angst in this one neither does Josh's entrance into Christian's life magically fix things. This is a slow burn as Josh and Christian go from strangers to a very tenuous relationship as acquaintances and with time and patience they become friends as Josh slowly and persistently strives to bring Christian out of his shell and help him accept to reclaim his life...a life that can exist outside of the walls of his apartment.

 

I think for me this was a case of right story right time. I loved the simplicity of this story that was quite honestly filled with a whole lot of people who seemed really nice and had the ability to see beyond the surface and appreciate the person inside. I also liked that this was not a story filled with insta-love, insta-fix...insta-anything nor was it a story of overly complicated and convoluted solutions. Sometimes the solutions in life are straightforward solutions that just need time and effort which is how things felt in this story.

 

'Out of the Shadows' was narrated by a new to me narrator named Finn Sterling and I have to admit that not all of the voices he created for these characters matched what my mind conjured but I was ok with this because while they didn't match my imaginings they were unique and expressive to each character. 

 

This book #40 in Dreamspinner's Dreamspun Desires series and can easily be read or listened to on audio as a standalone story.

 

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An audio book of 'Out of the Shadows' was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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review 2017-10-03 23:03
Well this was a cute way to pass a bit of time...
Horny - Anne Tenino,Nick J. Russo

'Horny' was a cute story that took more than a little poetic license with Greek mythology. When Ryan Caulfield ends up with a group of supernatural law enforcers in his bar hunting for a less than law abiding Zeus the last thing Ryan expects to happen is that he'll be attracted to one of them and even more surprising they're attracted to him. As a paranormal investigator and an eroté, Leander's use to not having to work for his conquest but when it comes to Ryan things just are coming easy to Leander and not everything's as it seems to be.

 

With a title like 'Horny' the one thing that you could reasonably safely assume is that this is not a serious story and you're right. There were some funny and entertaining moments in this one unfortunately they were interspersed with moments of what felt a little bit like the story was maybe trying too hard. While the first half of this story waffled between 2 and 3 stars the second part made up for it and was a little more consistently on a 3 star level. I found myself far more interested and invested in what was happening and where my mind had wandered a bit at the beginning I found myself paying closer attention to what was happening and enjoying myself a bit more during the last half of the story.

 

While the story started out feeling very much like insta-love/lust at first things became far more interesting when it got dialed back a notch and Leander had to start working for what he wanted and both men are taking the time to get to know each other along with still having a wayward Zeus to bring to justice.

 

Nick J. Russo was the narrator for this light and amusing story and his voice added depth and character to the story and making for yet another entertaining listening experience.

 

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

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review 2017-10-03 18:39
“…Nothing worth anything was ever easy…”
First Season - V.L. Locey,R.J. Scott

And for Layton Foxx and Adler Lockhart it’s going to be an uphill battle. Layton’s a spin doctor, PR troubleshooter…whatever title you want to use he’s the man you need when things are going FUBAR for you and/or your organization. He comes in and does damage control, makes a plan and fixes things, handles the media. He’s all about the success both for his clients and himself but don’t make it personal he doesn’t do personal. His past has taught him where that road leads and it’s a trip he doesn’t want to take again any time soon or ever. But he’s not a coward by any means either and letting his past rule his future isn’t something he’s prepared to do.

 

Adler’s had life handed to him on a silver tray. The best of everything…cars, homes, schools, whatever he’s wanted…whatever’s kept him out of his parent’s lives because they don’t do kids. Adler’s grown up feeling like he’s never good enough, no matter what he’s done, it’s not enough to get him the love he wants from his parents and it’s left him feeling more than a little inadequate about himself so he tries to fill the void with his gruff joking exterior and following his parent’s role model that ‘love comes in a box with a fancy price tag’. Adler for me was like that puppy you see when you enter the pound the one that looks at you with hope and optimism in his eyes because each new person that enters his world is another opportunity to find his place, but it’s not until he encounters Layton that he begins to learn that it’s not about finding your place in the world it’s about creating something new…(I admit it, you’ll have to read the story to fully understand this quote and how it came to be.)

“I want to be paint with you.”

 

“Oh…kay. I want to be paint with you too?”

 

A raspy, coughing laugh rolled out of me. “Cool. We’re going to make one truly vibrant and unique color, Layton.”

On the surface, this is probably one of the most unlikely pairings that I’ve encountered in a while but at the end of it all, it’s also one of the sweetest.

 

I really enjoyed ‘Changing Lines’ the first story in this series and with this story while we have new MCs in Layton and Adler and they really are the focus of the story we also get more about Jared and Tennant, which I really liked since they’re story really isn’t finished. I have to admit I’m more than a little impressed with how well balanced this story is the events of the story that pertain to Jared and Tennant neither overwhelm nor get lost in what’s developing between Layton and Adler and if you pay close attention the groundwork is laid for the next book in this series.

 

So far I’m a fan of the characters we’ve been given…not just the MCs, there are lot of awesome secondary characters in these stories…Adler’s best friend Apollo was intriguing, I love Landry’s family. They were big and loud and in your face protective of him and with good reason and all the players that we get little glimpses of both from the Railers and other teams.

 

While I’m not a huge fan of sports themed stories this series was just too tempting to resist. It’s hockey and I am Canadian…so the least I could do was give it a try, right? But what’s got me wanting more isn’t the hockey it’s the wonderful stories that the writing team of R.J. Scott & V.L. Locey have produced. I can’t wait to see what’s ahead for this team because so far it looks like the Harrisburg Railers are shaping up to be a winning team.

 

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An ARC of ‘First Season’ was graciously provided by the authors in exchange for an honest review.

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review 2017-09-29 01:17
This one absolutely gutted me...
Unquiet (Resilient Love #3) - Melanie Backe-Hansen,Michael Stillman

I don't think I've ever read a book where a couple deserved a 'happily ever after' more. "Unquiet" is the third book in Melanie Hansen's 'Resilient Love' series and I've enjoyed each of these stories so very much but this one...damn, it seriously broke my heart. It's one of the few books where I can honestly say I think I spent at least as much time crying as not. Sometimes it was happy tears...othertimes not so much.

 

We first met Loren in 'Signs of Life' book #2 in this series. He's the former boyfriend of Kai, who was one of the MCs in that story and while he and Kai are very good friends who still care for each other a lot. What they share is a strong and secure friendship and they've each moved in. Kai's story was in 'Signs of Life' and at the end of it we were given the indication that Loren was going to go after the man who held his heart. 

 

Loren and Elliot have been friends all their lives and they've loved each other that long. Unfortunately love's course is never easy and when one of the people involved is a cop and the other deals with mental health issues...you see Elliot is bipolar...if you're not familiar with this condition...take a minute before reading this book and remember google is your friend. I was fortunate in that because I've worked in health care for over 15 years, during that time I had the experience of working with several clients who were bipolar and the one thing I know from that experience is that it takes an incredibly strong person to be the partner of someone who's bipolar and it takes an even stronger person to not just survive being bipolar but to thrive, to make a good and productive life for themselves and that's what Elliot wants but it's not easy. It's so far from easy there aren't even words.

 

There's no perfection between these men they both make mistakes such huge mistakes but it's never done with the intent to hurt the other person. Loren struggles to be the supportive partner that Elliot needs while still trying to pursue his career goals as a police officer. Elliot fights so hard to manage his condition and be what Lauren needs...they both stumble and have to find ways to pick themselves back up and put themselves and their relationship back together...it's heartbreaking, gut wrenching and seriously if you can read this book without shedding any tears, without feeling their pain...well, you're a tougher person than I.

 

I had times when I was frustrated with Loren and Elliot but honestly never was there a point at which I didn't want them to find a way to be together. Melanie Hansen has created two incredibly amazing men in this story...not perfect but strong, resilient men who were willing to do what it took...anything it took to be together because when you love someone whose bipolar..."You're either all in or all out."

 

All of this was made even more vivid for me with the addition of Michael Stellman's voice narrating this story. He gave such depth and emotion to these men and to the people in their lives allowing me to connect with the story on an emotional level that I'm not sure I would have felt had I just been reading the book. I'm not saying I wouldn't have still loved this book no I think it's more a case of Michael Stellman took a book that I would have loved regardless and simply made it that much better.

 

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An audio book of "Unquiet" was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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