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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 2017-05-01 14:35
Release Day ARC Review: Nightsong (Notes From Boston #2) by A.M. Leibowitz
Nightsong (Notes from Boston Book 2) - A. M. Leibowitz

If you've read the first book in this series, you'll remember Nate.

I disliked him intensely in the first book after he cowardly outed Trevor out of jealousy and spite, and I wasn't quite sure that the author would find a way to redeem him.

I should've had more faith.

Nate Kingsley is a rather complex character, someone who has patched his wounds with band-aids, and whose self-esteem issues are rooted in past heartbreak. He's lost, so lost, when this book begins, because he misses Trevor's friendship, and he doesn't know how to apologize and how to make up for what he did. His cowardly actions are haunting him, and he's unhappy but doesn't know how to fix what he broke.

Not even his work can pull him out of the doldrums, and in his loneliness, floundering without the friend he hurt so badly, he again makes a huge mistake that costs him dearly later on in the book.

Izzy Kaplan is an EMT whose drag queen alter ego, TaTa Latke, has caught Nate's eye. Unbeknownst to Nate, Izzy harbors a similar crush for him. Izzy has trust issues, much like Nate, and he keeps parts of himself hidden from view. He has reasons, of course, even if those reasons perhaps only make sense to him. He realizes that something is going on with him, but doesn't want to deal with it, and thus makes like an ostrich - head in the sand.

I really loved how this book showcased the variety of the rainbow, and how non-judgmental the author handles all the different flavors of sexuality and gender identity. While the characters may favor one over the other, it's always very clear that this isn't what the author believes to be true. This was similar to the first book, and we get to visit with Trevor, Andre, and Marte again in this book.

What also stands out is that both MCs hide their true selves from their friends, at least for a long while, and that they both learn to be more open by the end. Both are dealing with some devastating health issues, and trusting each other, and their friends, is a hard-won battle.

There's a ton of angst inside, some of it external to the relationship, and some of it self-induced, but none of it ever felt unreasonable. Both Nate and Izzy have their own personal demons to slay, and they both still have some important lessons to learn. The book touches on some really heavy yet important topics and handles them with sensitivity and honesty, without becoming preachy.

The romance is really subdued here and takes quite some time to develop and then come to fruition, but that also made sense within the overall time line. Neither Nate nor Izzy are ready to confront their demons early on, and a more rapid development would likely have sent them to crash and burn. The author includes intimate scenes, but none of them felt superfluous or gratuitous, and all were furthering the plot. While I would classify this as a romance (because there is a happy ending for Nate and Izzy), it's actually a lot more than that. It's a character study of two rather flawed and often frustrating men, who find exactly what they were looking for when they didn't even realize they were looking for it.

This book could be read as a standalone, but probably shouldn't, as it's built on the events of the first book, and a reader is better served knowing the history between Nate and Trevor, which is one of the main catalysts for Nate changing himself in this book.

By the way, I wanted to junk-punch Rocco. Repeatedly. Once you've read this book, you'll know why.

This isn't your typical M/M romance fare, and I was glad for it.

Highly recommended.


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

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review 2017-01-16 03:03
Book Review: Cheating Bastard by Devon McCormack
Cheating Bastard - Devon McCormack WTF did I just read? What kind of twisted tale was this? Didn't expect it to end this way, but probably should have. Dark. Never mind the rough sex, the dubious consent, the mind games - the sociopath within takes the cake. Holy shit, what a ride.
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review 2016-12-06 21:54
Hunt the Dawn (Fatal Dreams #2) by Abbie Roads
Hunt the Dawn (Fatal Dreams Book 2) - Abbie Roads

This is the second installment of the Fatal Dreams series but can definitely be read as a standalone because I haven’t read the first one and never felt lost.
I feel like that the first thing I need to say is that this book should come with the words ***TRIGGER WARNING***, and in big bold, capital letters, if not on the blurb then at the beginning of the book at the very least. Please be aware that there are scenes with emotional, physical, and sexual abuse and they are extremely descriptive.

To me it was not so much a romantic suspense but rather a thriller with paranormal and romantic undertones. I liked the plot but overall I didn’t love it as much as others did. There were a some things that didn’t click with me especially when it came to Evanee and the main villain.
The beginning of the story provided a nice background to both main characters, however, and this might just have been that the author is new to me, the prose sounded a bit trite and repetitive. Without going too much into spoilery ground, I’m going to say that when Lathan and Evanee meet, she does the exact opposite of what I think any sane person would do. Her actions were later explained in the book but when I read it they sounded so reckless that I had to roll my eyes. I also feel the story focused too much on her past history and that left Lathan’s feeling incomplete. Finally, towards the end when she’s told someone she's come to trust has done terrible things (and was about to commit some more) she still wanted to remain friends with that person. Uhm, huh? That felt as if the author wanted to reassert what a loving and innocent person she still was in spite of the rough life she’d lived but I thought that was utterly unnecessary.

I don't know, perhaps if there would have been just one thing to focus on but there were just too many things to look at. What with the psycho, the sociopath, the survivor, the rapist, the toxic family, the hero with the hearing disability and "superpowers", the crazy-a$$ dreams... Honestly, this book had me ranting plenty of times but when I wasn’t ranting I kind of liked it. I specially liked the friendship between Lathan and his friend Gill. I’m still debating whether I want to continue reading the series if more books come out but since I already have the first one I will at least read that one.


*** I received this book via Netgalley at no cost to me and I volunteered to read it; this is my honest opinion and given without any influence by the author or publisher.***

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review 2016-09-26 02:17
Book Review: Bashed by Rick R. Reed
Bashed - Rick R. Reed

I don't have a lot of clever words for this one either, other than that it made me angry, so angry, because the gay-bashing within happens still all over the world, and it enrages me to know that people like Ronnie exists, people who hate others simply for who they are.

I cried a lot. Donald's grief and pain, and even his numbness, all rang true.

I wanted to reach in and throttle the young men who commit this horrible crime before it happened, so Mark could live, and he and Donald could be happy.

The afterword from the author about killed me. Thank you to the cop who showed up just in time so his story didn't end like Donald and Mark's.

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