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review 2017-06-16 01:59
Release Day ARC Review: Romancing The Ugly Duckling by Clare London
Romancing the Ugly Duckling (Dreamspun Desires Book 36) - Clare London

On the isolated island of North Uist, which is apparently off the coast of Scotland, there lives a man all by himself in a smallish house after running away from his assholish brothers and his neglectful parents to paint, dive for scallops, and be mostly a recluse, keeping to himself.

His four brothers, one of whom I hated on sight, all somewhat famous for some reason or other, hope to make a deal with a TV company to create a reality show a la Kardashians, but they can only get the deal if the 5th brother appears as well. Greg Ventura, gentle, kind giant, wants nothing to do with them or the TV show.

Poor Perry Goodwood (lulz at that last name), ambitious and fashionable, is sent by his boss to the island to convince Greg to come to London to participate. After a make-over, of course. He flies to Scotland and catches a boat to the island, and is then stranded at the port before being fortuitously delivered to Greg's doorstop, looking like a drowned rat. The team that was supposed to meet him to convince Greg to come to London is nowhere to be found, and Perry's boss is giving him a bunch of excuses.

Great start, amirite? City slicker meets backwoods grump, and opposites attract - excellent trope!

This book is full of cute and sweet and quirky, and as Perry slowly falls in love with the island and Greg, so does Greg fall for Perry. The setting is perfect, and rather well described, so much so that I felt like I was right there on the small island. There be heather and bogs and cold, cold lochs, and beautiful nature all around.

I really liked both Perry and Greg. Perry impressed me because despite his city roots, he really tried hard to fit in on the island, and he seemed so appreciative of everyone who gave a helping hand. He wanted to learn from Greg and experience island life for himself. Greg is a bit rough around the edges, and grumps a lot, but I could tell that this was mostly to protect himself. He was kind and gentle, if somewhat clueless on occasion. The chemistry between the two men was there from the start and truly believable. There are certain parameters for this series as far as on-page sexy times are concerned, and the author delivered within those parameters, but also managed to infuse a lot of emotional bonding outside of the bedroom scenes.

The locals on the island play a huge role in this book as well, and I just loved how the author gave them all unique personalities and characteristics. Dougie, Bridie, and Louisa were perfect in their roles, and I enjoyed especially Bridie's easy banter with Perry, and how she was ultimately... well, you read this for yourself.

The Scottish brogue comes across well in the writing, and I had no trouble reading the dialect.

Quirky. Cute. And utterly adorable. A perfect addition to the Dreamspun Desires series. I had a grand time reading it. The author did a fantastic job with the characters, the setting, and the pacing, giving us a really emotional romance between two men who are complete opposites at first sight, but turn out to both want the same thing after all.

Fabulous!!


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

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review 2017-06-06 02:33
Release Day ARC Review: Action by Quinn Anderson
Action (Murmur, Inc. Book 2) - Quinn Anderson

When I first read the blurb, I was a wee bit worried that we'd see the two MCs perform with others, based on their line of business.

But I jumped right into this book, and then by chapter 4, the plot and fabulous writing kept me glued to the pages until the very end.

I should have left my assumptions at the front page.

Pete aka Jaden is in porn, working for Murmur Inc., to help pay for his college tuition. He enjoys it to some extent, and it pays the bills. But he's also sort of not loving it, and that comes across in his performance. His other job at a coffee shop isn't enough to cover tuition, and Pete needs this job. He also hoped when he first started that being a porn star would make him more outgoing and exciting, but that hasn't come to fruition. He's not out as a porn actor, and keeps that part of his life very much hidden from the coffee shop people and everyone else.

His boss at Murmur Inc. tells him about a feature film that she wants him to star in, with Evan/Kyle Darko as the star of the movie. And if he can't pull off his part in the movie, Pete may have to look for a new job.

Kyle is Pete's opposite in many ways - loves being a porn star, loves strutting his stuff in front of the camera, and, according to Pete, is way more daring and so not boring or gawky like Pete.

They meet as one does prior to starting the shoot, and oh boy, the UST just leaps off the pages. The scenes are super tame early on, because that's part of the movie, but I was already fanning myself from the sexual tension between the two men.

The book is told entirely from Pete's POV, so we don't really get Evan/Kyle's inner thoughts, but despite Pete's disbelief, Kyle falls for Pete. Hard.

I totally believed their romance, quick as it may be coming about, and I loved how sweet and humble Pete is, and I loved Kyle the same, even though he was a bit (okay, a lot) on the cocky side. But he knew what he wanted, namely Pete, and went for it, no hesitation.

Pete of course has trouble believing that a hot guy like Kyle could really want him, which is more or less the only angst found in this book. There is one moment where I was a little concerned that it might derail their relationship, but all's well that ends well, and it was but a blip on the radar, really.

I giggled a lot. A whole lot. The narrative in Pete's POV, and the dialogue are often snarky and hilarious, and there are quite a few one-liners that made me laugh out loud. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, and I think you will too.

Pete's mom was fabulous, and so was Kyle's family. They rounded out a fantastic cast.

Highly recommended. Also, while this is the 2nd in a series, it's no problem at all to read this as a standalone, though I would suggest that you read the first one, Hotline, as well, just to get the whole experience.


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

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review 2017-05-22 01:37
ARC Review: Michael, Reinvented by Diana Copland
Michael, Reinvented (Delta Restorations Book 2) - Diana Copland

4.5 stars for this 2nd installment in the Delta Restorations series!

 

First off, this shouldn't be read as a standalone. That's not to say that you couldn't - you just shouldn't. I think that to understand the progression of Michael and Gil's relationship, you should have read "David, Renewed", because the underlying UST between the two men develops in book 1, and is carried to its explosive conclusion in this book.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Michael is still David's assistant, and since David is still happily in love with Jackson (now living in the same house), and since Jackson and his band of merry men have formed a renovation company, with David slated as the interior designer, Michael still sees Gil on a fairly regular basis. Their relationship consists of a lot of teasing (on Gil's side) and a lot of "the lady doth protest too much" on Michael's side.

See, Michael is scared to admit to himself and anyone else that he's attracted to Gil, and that Gil possibly has the power to get past the brick walls Michael has erected around his heart due to past hurt. Therefore, Michael thinks that as long as he keeps Gil at bay and does not allow the man close, he'll be safe. So he snarks a lot. A lot. A whole lot. I giggled quite a bit at Michael's prickly responses to Gil's pursuit, knowing that it was inevitable, and just sat back to enjoy the ride to bliss.

Except the unknown entity from the first book who seems to be hellbent on hurting Michael's friends and business partners is still lurking in the bushes, and there's still the threat of David's abusive ex coming back to wreak more havoc, and when Michael is house-sitting for David and Jackson and finds a vandal outside of the house, his first call is not to the police but Gil.

Wonder why.

There's a lot more to Gil than Michael realized, and slowly but surely, as Michael discovers more about who Gil really is, his opinion of the man is changing, and Michael sees that maybe, just maybe, it's safe to be honest with himself and acknowledge with his head that what his heart has known for a while.

And just when Michael seems ready to take that step, tragedy strikes.

Nothing like a wake-up call to get your act together, is there?

I adored Gil - he was such a good, kind, and super patient guy, someone with a somewhat gruff exterior but a heart of gold. And Michael, prickly, hurt, and scared Michael, just grows on you - I realized in the first book that he must have had some real heartache in his life to become so standoffish and hide himself from what is definitely a good thing.

I can't say enough good things about the writing - super smooth and engaging, without any lulls or abrupt time jumps, with excellent pacing. While the book is told entirely from Michael's POV, and while Michael is a bit of an unreliable narrator, we get plenty of between the lines information about Gil. Michael may not always understand what makes Gil tick, but it's always very clear what Gil's priorities are, and how much he loves Michael, even if Michael refuses to see it.

Obviously, the men from Delta Restorations all make multiple appearances here, so we get to revisit with Vern, an older man with a rough exterior, (pretend-)grouchy most of the time, and Manny, who comes a bit more out of his shell in this book, but who still carries the scars from a previous relationship inside and out. I do hope that Manny's book will be next, because he sure as hell deserves someone who loves him fully and completely. Hopefully, that person will be Vern. I loved the easy banter between the group of men, and it was clear that they all respect each other and have formed a strong, supportive friendship.

This was a wonderful continuation of this series, and I can hardly wait to read the next book. Extra kudos for including the Velveteen Rabbit in this story - brilliant idea and execution, and thanks so much for making me cry.

One niggle - a neurologist isn't the same as a neurosurgeon, and these terms cannot be used interchangeably. I'm not sure if this was a research fail or an editing fail, but hopefully this was fixed in the final version.

Highly recommended that you pick up this book and its predecessor.


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

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review 2017-05-11 02:59
ARC Review: To Touch You (Mates #4) by Cardeno C.
To Touch You: A Vampire Shifter Gay Romance (Mates Collection Book 4) - Cardeno C.

Dear Salvatore Rossi - you're a jerk. A stubborn, selfish, snobbish jerk.

Having said that, you redeemed yourself in the end but only by a hair.

Not much love,

Me

****

This is the fourth, and probably last book, in the Mates series, which I loved. LOVED.

Here we have Yoram Smith, great-nephew of Ethan Abbatt (of Until Forever Comes), who at 7 years old gets a whiff of one Salvatore Rossi, abovementioned jerk, and knows, just knows, he's found his one true mate.

Salvatore, or Sal as Yoram calls him, is a business man, visiting the town near the Miancarem pack to entice Miguel Rodriguez, mate of Ethan, to sell him some land. Miguel has no interest in doing so, and if it weren't for Yoram proclaiming Sal his friend, Miguel might have simply chased him out of town. Except Sal is sick, sicker than he knows, and when his illness becomes terminal, and Yoram finds out, he implores Miguel to save his friend Sal.

So Sal becomes a vampire, and promptly returns to his business, caring not one iota about Yoram.

At 14, Yoram visits Sal in Las Vegas and is told to go home. Go home. By his mate!!

Yeah... I didn't like Sal at all, though I could appreciate that a 30-odd year old man/vampire would be slightly freaked out that a 14 year old boy tells him he's his mate.

So Yoram goes home, suffers alone, but he doesn't give up. He experiences similar symptoms as Ethan had before meeting Miguel, and some pointed questions later, Sal begins to get blood deliveries. Because Yoram is a saint, and just because Sal is a jerkface doesn't mean that Yoram needs to let his mate suffer.

There's some crossover here with book three, In Your Eyes. If you've read that book, you'll remember Korban Keller, who's the Alpha's son, and heir apparent, but whose mate Samuel is the Alpha of the Yafenack pack, and you'll remember what happened there, and what leads to Miancarem needing a new Alpha.

Yoram again steps up to the plate, because he's a fucking saint! He loves his pack, he loves the other wolves, and he wants to do what's best for them. Except that doesn't leave him any time for traveling to Vegas every month to deliver blood.

And then Salvatore Rossi wonders for possibly the first time who might have been bringing him blood, and what might have caused the deliveries to stop, and he travels to Miancarem to investigate. Still super selfish, amirite?

Character flaws of a particular vampire notwithstanding, I loved this book just as much as I loved the other three, though In Your Eyes will likely always be my favorite of the four. A lot of my enjoyment was because of Yoram, who is a FUCKING saint, and also because of Toby, a wolf from Yoram's pack and his brother-in-law, who provides the snark and attitude and humor in this book. He took no crap at all from Sal, he wasn't afraid of the big, bad vampire, and he took zero prisoners when it came to telling Sal what a jerk he'd been all these many years. He had some fantastic zingers, and I giggled a lot when he was on page.

This being a book by Cardeno C., there are also some super hot sexy times (when they then finally happen, OMG), and knotting. Knotting, people, which just gives the sexy times that extra oomph. Mating bites. Bloodsucking while making love. Gah. There is always such emotion within the sexy times, and I think that's one of the author's special gifts.

I was a little bit bothered by the rather abrupt transition from "where's the blood, dammit" to "OMG, I Love You, You're my everything" that Sal goes through, considering that his character was a stupid, selfish, snobbish jerk for most of the book, but I chalked that off to the mating pull doing its thing, and him finally being near Yoram for long enough to actually allow himself to feel it. The jerk.

This is definitely a fitting end to the series, and I loved that the couples from the previous book made an appearance. Well, all but Samuel. It can be read as a standalone, but why would you? Why would you not read all the books in this fantastic series? Exactly.

I will read any shifter book this author writes, ever, and I can hardly wait to get my grabby hands on the next one, even if it'll be a different series. Maybe we'll get another Syphon book next? Sign me right up.

I'm a CC addict, and I'm not ashamed to admit it. Just keep feeding my addiction, would ya, CC?


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

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review 2017-04-16 01:02
ARC Review: Relationship Status by K.A. Mitchell
Relationship Status - K.A. Mitchell

This obviously had the potential to be super-angsty, especially when we were in Wyatt's head, but it wasn't. It was mostly delightful to revisit Ethan and Wyatt and watch them find their way to a happily ever after. Also, the epilogue was like icing on the happy cake.

This is the third book in this trilogy, and it shouldn't be read as a standalone. It's actually best, now that book 3 is published, to read them all back to back.

I do love Ethan and Wyatt, even though they can be complicated, immature and annoying, and as a couple, they have the potential to crash and burn, but both of them are committed to their relationship. They struggle, of course, especially since Ethan doesn't always understand what drives Wyatt, and how his history continues to influence the decisions he makes, and how he sees himself. Wyatt comes across as resentful on occasion that Ethan's life to date has been fairly easy, and seemingly forgets that Ethan has been hurt too.

Some of the issues felt forced to me, though I liked that Wyatt didn't freeze out Ethan this time around as he had in the past, when Ethan does something immature. Part of me was also hoping that Ethan would have grown up a bit more in this book, but that wasn't always the case. I never doubted that he thought Wyatt hung the moon, but Ethan does on occasion come across as rather immature. I realize they're both still very young, so maybe I should cut them some slack.

In this book, they're also not living in dorms anymore - they're renting a room in a crappy apartment for the summer while doing internships - so this newfound freedom and privacy translates into lots and lots of sexy times, though, while definitely hot, there were so many that I started skimming them toward the end.

It also occurred to me during my reading of this book that this trilogy might have worked better overall if the three books had been released as one large volume, because neither book 1 nor book 2 really told the whole story. There is growth for both Wyatt and Ethan in this final book, which I appreciated, and they're better at being adults than in the first two, but Ethan still tends to fall back on his parents, whereas Wyatt doesn't really have that option. His uncle is still in the picture, and there's some additional plot around that, which I thought was rather well done, even if it felt like a bit much - it did highlight that Wyatt and Ethan do work as a couple, and that Ethan has a really good heart, and that Wyatt has finally started believing that they have a future.

Overall, this book was a fitting ending to this trilogy, and I enjoyed reading it.

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

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