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review 2018-10-01 01:22
ARC Review: Hard Truths by Alex Whitehall
Hard Truths - Alex Whitehall

On one hand, this book was less superficial than I expected, considering the blurb. I love the fake boyfriend trope, and I was looking forward to a fun book. While there was lots of humor, the depth within surprised me.

On the other hand, I would have liked to repeatedly smack Isaac over the head, not only for continuing to hide Logan being his boyfriend, but also for not realizing that family isn't always determined by blood, especially when your parents are homophobic racist jerks. 

I think what bothered me the most is that Isaac often sounded much younger than I was told he is, especially when he's around his parents, and that he was too blind to realize that he was hurting Logan, and his friends, with his ridiculous stance. While I could understand his fears, those fears blinded him to what he already has, and he only saw what he stood to lose. He lives a couple of hours away from his parents, and he's out to everyone in his life, except for them. But every time he goes home, it is very clear that not only does he not like his parents, especially his father, but he also mocks and ridicules them. And thus I couldn't for the life of me understand what was stopping him from telling them to shove it and tell them who he truly is. 

The romance is definitely whirlwind, much like the blurb promises, and there is hot sex and cheesy puns, and I believed that both Isaac and Logan had feelings for each other. They have a lot in common, and the growth in their relationship felt realistic to me given the timeframe of this book. 

I guess Isaac still needed to grow up. And I guess he does by book's end; he just leaves a whole lot of hurt in his wake that could have been avoided, had he been more emotionally mature. 

The entire book is written from Isaac's POV, so we don't get a whole lot of true insights to Logan, and Isaac's friends, since his view is somewhat skewered and distorted though his lens. The humor was fun (not cheesy, really), and outside of Isaac's behavior with his parents, I did like him as a person. He's kind and considerate to others - just emotionally stunted. Which is likely a result of his upbringing, but I didn't see the same in his sister, and she grew up in the same emotionally stunted home. 

I liked the writing style, and I'm definitely going to check out more books by this author. 


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

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review 2018-10-01 00:50
ARC Review: Midnight In Berlin by JL Merrow
Midnight in Berlin - J.L. Merrow

I loved Leon's irreverent narrative - he was my favorite person in the book.

In a case of mistaken identity, a werewolf bites a human. Oops.

Christoph, a lawyer of sorts, and Lycan, driving through Berlin in his Porsche very late at night, spots Leon, a student/drifter, who's hitchhiking his way back to this hostel. Leon is covered in feather, after a pillow fight at a concert and some rain, and Christoph thinks Leon is Lycan too and has just killed a large bird. So he stops, offers him a rider, and takes him to his pack house in one of the Berlin 'burbs. Because wolves aren't supposed to run around arousing suspicion, and Christoph chides Leon for potentially revealing the secret.

Leon has no idea what the guy with the Porsche is babbling about, but he's not liking it. And never mind the guy's face growing fangs and sprouting hair. When the car stops, Leon bolts just as soon as Christoph realizes his mistake.

Long story short, Leon wakes up Lycan (oops) after Christoph bit him. Christoph is nowhere to be found, and nobody living in the house where Christoph took him is telling him anything useful.

The pack is led by a horrible man named Schreiber. He's brutal, he treats his pack members like crap, and he's not happy that Leon is now a wolf.

Leon discovers where Christoph is being caged for punishment (that was hard to read, OMG), and together with Schreiber's daughter, they flee the house. 

The rest of the story is basically telling us about their escape and their movements through Berlin, trying to find out what they can about the experiment Schreiber appears to be running. There's a side story with another pack, this one full wolves.

The plot is fast-moving and the action scenes were fascinating, but the romance was rather bland. Outside of some sort of mating bond, I didn't really feel it at all. 

Leon's character stood out for me - the rest of them all were more or less one-dimensional. Christoph was okay, once he let go of his guilt a bit, and we do get a HEA. The descriptions of Berlin felt accurate, and most of the dialogue rang organic and realistic for the characters. 

Not one of my favorites by this author, but I enjoyed it. 


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

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review 2018-09-04 02:47
ARC Review: Wight Mischief by JL Merrow
Wight Mischief - J.L. Merrow

I'm super late with this review - my apologies to the author and publisher.

The pairing in this book was a bit unusual - one a somewhat slow but super nice guy, and the other mysterious and vulnerable.

Will is visiting the Isle of Wight with his friend (I use the term loosely here, because I didn't like the guy - a self-absorbed user who didn't seem to care about Will much at all, but kept him by his side to warm the spot when nobody else was available) Baz, a wannabe journalist, helping to research a book on ghosts. Will is a nice guy - reliable, dependable, and slowly coming around to the fact that Baz isn't as good a friend as Will thought, and definitely not worthy of the shine Will's taken to him for years. He's intrigued by Marcus, whom he initially thinks a ghost (!!) when he first sees him on the beach below Marcus' mansion. 

Marcus is a recluse author, orphaned after his parents' violent deaths as a teenager, and having been raised by his creepy controlling guardian, a family friend, he doesn't venture outside of his manor much. Born with albinism, he avoids the daylight as much as possible and only goes outside at night. Marcus has built some massive walls around his heart - partially mortared by his guardian's controlling manner. 

The mystery/suspense was well done, even though it was clear to me early on who the villain was - I didn't mind; I enjoyed the journey to the final revelation (that was a bit of a shock) and dramatic climax. 

The author's writing style just works for me, and there hasn't been a JL Merrow book yet that I didn't like. Vivid descriptions of the island transported me directly to the location - I could feel the moonlight on my face, I could smell the salty ocean breeze. It may be a small island, but it sure sounds like a spot worth visiting - tons of history set amidst a rocky, rugged landscape. 

The romance is by design slow-burn but also fast - feelings develop quickly - as Marcus is torn between wanting to trust Will, wanting to experience what it would be like to be loved by a man such as Will, but also fearing his guardian and opening his heart to love. 

I adored Will. I wanted him to be happy, and I feared for his safety as the plot progresses. I don't want to give too much away here. Just know that this is a lovely story, with wonderful MCs, and totally worth your time. 


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

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review 2018-09-04 02:08
ARC Review: Love At First Hate by JL Merrow
Love At First Hate - JL Merrow

While this is the 11th book in the loosely connected Porthkennack series, it's book 3 for the Roscarrocks; this one being about Branok (Bran) who was a real git in the first two books, and whom I'd basically written off as a jerk not worth my time.

Boy, was I wrong.

It could theoretically also be read as a standalone, though the characters from the previous two books make an appearance, and it would probably be best to read both of them before reading this one, to fully grasp the layers of Bran's misunderstood character. 

Bran was a real a-hole to his nephew Devan (from book 1) when he came to Porthkennack to search for his birth mother, though it's not clear why until this book. 

Bran showed some contempt for his little brother Jory (from book 2), and again, the reasons aren't clear until this book.

Living with a huge burden on his shoulders, his late father's voice in his ear, Bran has locked himself into the closet all his life, never feeling free to be who he really is. His twin sister Bea (Devan's mother) and he have spent most their adult life on their family estate, setting themselves apart from the general populace as what would 500 years ago be similar to feudal overlords. 

And Bran has for many, many years kept a massive secret from his sister and brother. 

Sam Ferreira is an old friend of Jory, whom he met while at university. Trusting someone he thought he could trust turned out to be detrimental for Sam's academic career, and, in some debt from gambling, he's now in dire need of a new job. When Jory comes to him about helping with an exhibit Bran is funding, about The Black Prince, Sam jumps at the chance to prove himself and says yes.

And thus Bran and Sam meet. The romance between them is slow burn by design - and when I say slow, I mean slooooooooow. There's a lot of UST and longing, but we're more than halfway in before they first kiss. To be honest, the slow burn was necessary - both men have baggage, and it takes some time for Bran and Sam to trust the other. 

The romance is quiet, almost taking a backseat to the rest of the plot, which is basically an exploration, a study of Bran's character. The man, outwardly sensible and hard and difficult to read, is in reality vulnerable, insecure, and scared. He hides his true self. He's taken on the responsibility of carrying the family legacy. He's jealous, he's demanding, and he barks at others. But he puts family above all else, he's generous, and he desperately wants to be loved. Even if he's loathe to admit that to anyone, including himself.

I'm not one who needs a lot of on-page sex, and this book doesn't have a lot of it, which suited me fine. What passion there is felt genuine. We leave Bran and Sam with a HFN, but one that I can absolutely see turn into a HEA, possibly in a future book in which we get to revisit these characters.


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

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review 2018-08-07 11:00
Release Day ARC Review: Bad Behavior by K.A. Mitchell
Bad Behavior - K.A. Mitchell

This book starts off with a bang - literally - as Beach, irresponsible, immature, and full of IDGAF, meets a hot guy at a bar (where he's not really supposed to be, what with the ankle bracelet and alcohol monitor, courtesy of his dumbassery) and ends up pushed against the bathroom stall for a pounding.

I snickered a whole lot when hot guy turns out to be his probation officer. Oopsie.

Tai, a Dominant without a sub, dumps Beach off on his co-worker real fast, and tells the other man that there still can't be anything further happening between them, except Beach is used to getting his will, and Tai notices how Beach reacts to when he's given a direct command. 

Isn't that interesting, Tai thinks to himself and continues to test that theory.

I didn't like Beach in Gavin's book, because he was a spoiled brat, but I sure as heck like David Beauchamp, once the author peels back the layers that poor boy has wrapped himself in and explores his full backstory. No wonder that man is so fucked up in the head. 

The D/s aspects of their relationship completely made this novel for me. This wasn't playful kink like we saw in Bad Boyfriend, this was full-time DD/Ds, and I watched David grow into himself as he gives himself over to Tai's direction and discipline. 

Until he fucks up, and badly, and it all comes to a crashing halt. 

Because despite his growth, David still doesn't know his own worth, doesn't realize that he's worthy of being loved, doesn't understand that his fear of abandonment directs his steps until it's almost too late, because when he has to make a choice, he falters for a bit. 

Tai too has to learn here - though not quite as much as David - and he too makes some serious missteps.

I loved what the author did with Beach's character. She not only gave him room to grow (up) but also let him find that inner strength that was there all along, hidden below the layers, hidden behind that mask, hidden so deeply that David almost didn't know it was there. But it is, and I think of all the characters in this series, David grows the most. This one ranks high as one of my two favorites in this series.

As for the supporting characters, Jamie was a massive prick in this book. While I could understand the animosity due to the history there, he didn't have to be such an asshole to David. I also thought that Gavin was portrayed here as a bit more shallow than he was in his own book - again, perhaps of the history there, and how Beach almost cost him Jamie. Eventually Gavin does see the light though, and I appreciated that. 

I think this might be the end of this series, and I'm a little sad about that, but there's always the option to re-read them all. 

As for this one - loved it.


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

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