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review 2018-07-23 19:38
I think I need more zip and a little less zen...
Zen Alpha - Sionnach Wintergreen

When I first read the blurb for ‘Zen Alpha’ it struck me as being a sweet little romance story that I could enjoy on a summer afternoon, so when it crossed my radar as an audio book who was I to say no.

Bradley works as tech support and he’s sure he’s found his perfect alpha made in his current stock broker boyfriend, Jackson but when said stock broker boyfriend crosses a line Bradley decides that he needs to step back and rethink things.

Things become even more complicated when Bradley’s upstairs neighbour Ward Linden steps up offering him the help and support that he should have received from his ‘alpha’ male boyfriend…’WTF!’ what’s with the ‘alpha’ male thing Bradley…ok hang on we’ll come back to this.

 

Ward’s a teacher for autistic children at local middle school. He’s sweet, patient, kind and sexy as all get out but in Bradley’s eyes he’s so not an alpha male…again with the alpha male.

 

When circumstances put Ward and Bradley within proximity of each other on a daily basis and a friendship begins to grow blossoming into something stronger Bradley’s forced to look at his definition of what an ‘alpha male’ is and realize that sometimes even an Alpha can be Zen.

 

Overall, I definitely thought this one was adorable but unfortunately, I had a few niggling moments that definitely impacted on my enjoyment of the story. So, let’s have a quick chat about my niggling moments…

 

First off was Bradley’s obsession with the idea of an ‘Alpha male’. Seriously if you’re going to obsess about having an ‘Alpha male’ dear Bradley learn the difference between an ‘Alpha’ and an ‘A**hat’ (pardon my bluntness) but I call them as I see them and Jackson was by no means ‘Alpha’…he was however, a lying, cheating, emotionally abusive A**hat! Initially I was ok with Bradley’s misguided concept of what an ‘Alpha’ was. But for me it just felt like Bradley was a little dense when it came to realizing how ‘not Alpha’ his ex was.

 

Niggle number two was Bradley’s mother…I can’t even when it comes to this woman. No wonder poor Bradley’s ideals were misguided if this was the person who raised him…can we all say pretentious, self-centered, arrogant biotch…I’m going to nominate her for one of the moles in the new version of ‘whack-a-mole’ that I’m thinking about it’s called ‘whack-an-a**hat!’

 

Ok, now niggle number three was the disagreements that occurred between Bradley and a friend which I’m not going to say a lot about because…I’m trying to keep it spoiler free here folks. So, I’ll just say Bradley’s no better at picking friends than he was at picking boyfriends and then there were two…let’s call them miscommunications between Bradley and Ward and while in terms of the why and how’s of it I was ok with what happened it was the reaction of the injured parties that didn’t work for me. Don’t get me wrong I’m not saying anything here other than their reactions weren’t mine so it just didn’t work for me. No right or wrong here just a case of ‘it didn’t work’.

 

On an individual basis one or two of these things probably wouldn’t have bothered me as much but all three combined just left me a little detached and not feeling as invested in the story as well as contributing to the fact that I just wasn’t feeling the love where Bradley was concerned and started to think that maybe he just wasn’t quite good enough for Ward.

 

I have to admit by this point in the story I wasn’t sure that even 3 stars was happening thing for me but thankfully things started to resonate with me a bit more and Bradley got himself some redemption. Plus there was the narrator…Hugh Bradley. This is only my second chance to listen to this narrator and as with the first book I was once again treated to a very well narrated story adding the emotion and character needed to make listening to ‘Zen Alpha’ a more enjoyable experience.

 

While this was not my first time listening to Hugh Bradly, it was my first time with this author, Sionnach Wintergreen and even though I didn’t connect with this story as much as I’d hoped I would. I did like the overall story idea and as I’ve said before ‘one story does not an author make’ so who knows what the future will bring for me from this author. I’m looking forward to finding out.

 

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An Audiobook of ‘Zen Alpha was graciously provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

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review 2018-05-19 00:24
I beg your pardon...I never promised you a rose garden...
Flowers for the Gardener - Sharon Marie Bidwell

‘Flowers for the Gardener’ is a bit of a quandary for me…it should have gone better for me than it did. This is an ‘enemies to lovers, second chance, starting over’ love story so much my thing. Richard (Rich) Gardener has come home following the death of his father to not only attend the funeral but he is to take over management of the family company…a company he really has no interest in, but there’s more…Rich also has to deal with a mother who while grieving the loss of her husband is one of the least sympathetic literary characters that I’ve encountered in quite a while. ‘Ruby’ is cold hearted, pretentious, scheming, manipulative, a snob…I could go on but I’m going to stop there. My point is I should have been able to find some small modicum of sympathy for this character…I mean we’re talking about a woman who’s lost her husband a husband whom she supposedly loved and sorry, folks but I’ve got nothing where Ruby’s concerned I’m pretty much a cold-hearted b*tch. I mean this woman seriously irritated me.

 

Among the other characters introduced in this story there was Rich’s sister, Sapphire, who was for me a definite bright spot in this story. Rosamund (Rosie) a long-time employee of the Gardener family and Christopher Talbot who proved to be an invaluable advisor for Rich in regard to the family’s marketing firm and last but not least we have Ethan Fields. Rich’s childhood nemesis and current love interest.

 

I was, to say the least, surprised that this story just didn’t seem to be working for me…so much so that part way through I decided to set it aside and read something else in the hopes that when I went back to it things would fall into place for me and I’d find myself enjoying the story a lot more…sadly this was not to be. I was determined to finish reading this story with the objective of at best enjoying it and at the very least understanding why things weren’t working for me.

 

So, at the end of it all for me it comes down to the fact that while this is a well written story that I found to be easily readable does not automatically make for a story that’s relatable and my ability to relate to either of the MCs in this story was tenuous at best.

Rich came from a very well to do British family where money was not an issue.

 

Unfortunately, neither was having a close and loving family. While Rich somehow managed to develop a semblance of a relationship with his sister it was definitely a work in progress, but I liked that it was something that both Sapphire and Rich seemed to want to work at. Making the interactions between Rich and his sister one of my favorite parts of the story.

 

Meanwhile from a purely socio-economic perspective while I was more able to relate to Ethan than Rich, there were still times that Ethan just felt too embittered by the fact that he wasn’t born into a rich family, however, as the story progresses we do find out the how and why of Ethan’s feelings which helped to give perspective to them, but for me this information came a bit to late to fully mitigate my initial reaction to Ethan’s feelings.

Now, the part that held the biggest quandary for me was Rich and Ethan’s relationship. I have to admit I’ve been pondering this for a few days now and what I keep coming back to is that for me the transition from what seems to have been an angry sex relationship where Rich and Ethan claimed that they were just together to fulfill a mutual physical relationship to admitting that they had feelings for each other simply took too long. I didn’t want it to be a blink and you missed it transition but I just felt like it took to long for each man to acknowledge his feelings for the other.

 

In hindsight I just feel like the timing for this one was off and that to me isn’t a reflection of the author or their skill but my personal preference of the moment. Things just felt like they were happening too soon or more often too late in the story for me and I can honestly say that I know from past experience that what worked or didn’t work this time may have a completely different impact with me another time. So while this one didn’t quite connect with me. I have no doubt that I will be reading this author again in future because whether this story worked for me or not I still enjoyed the author’s writing style and look forward to reading her other works.

 

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An ARC of 'Flowers for the Gardener' was graciously provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

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review 2018-04-07 22:26
Excuse me while I gush a little over this one...
Taking the Long Way - Max MacGowan

I've been very fortunate since realizing that contrary to my original thoughts I really enjoy audio books. I've listened to some awesome stories...some because the narrator was incredibly good...like Greg Tremblay or Nick J. Russo, just to name a couple or because the author has written an amazing story. Authors like T.J. Klune, Megan Derr or Mary Calmes writing books such as 'A Destiny of Dragons', 'The High King's Golden Tongue or 'Acrobat' again, just to name a few...or stories like this one by both an author and a narrator who are new to me.

 

Rye's a rent boy, paid companion, male escort...pick your term bottom line (no pun intended) he makes his living selling himself. Sometimes we do things out of necessity whether we like it or not really isn't the issue...for Rye is survival...it's all he knows.

 

Marcus is a functionally blind army vet given the opportunity to see a doctor who may be able to help him...but that doctor's on the other side of the country and flying is not an option for Marcus because of his injury and driving...well, did I mention functionally blind. Marcus wants this and who can blame him maybe he can recover at least some of his eyesight but getting there seems like the impossible dream until Rye and circumstances come together to make this a trip that could save them both.

 

So we've got a male escort, a wounded military vet and they're making a road trip add in some interesting and colorful secondary characters not to mention a couple of awesome dogs and back-up all of this with a narrator whose voice totally blew me away. I've come across narrators who have seemed more than a little amazing to me...narrators like Greg Tremblay, Nick J. Russo, Michael Ferraiuolo, Sean Crisden...there really are a lot of good narrators out there and several really exceptional ones...I think if future endeavors prove to be as well done as this one was that Matt Milne will fall into the latter category of being exceptional for me.

 

Throughout this book it wasn't like having someone read me a story or sitting down with a friend...no, it was better it was like having Marcus and Rye right there leaning over my shoulder whispering to me as they shared their story with me...now, this may sound scary to some but trust me at times this was really, really hella' hot...like cold shower, fanning my face hot...and sometimes that had nothing to do with the sex...I'ma just sayin'...listening to the story of how these two met and came to care about themselves and to mean so much to each other was simply delicious...I just don't have another word for it.

 

I honestly can't even begin to explain how much I loved the sound of their voices...both of them just absolutely totally did it for me but especially Rye. There were times that his voice had this slow, sexy, sultry tone that simply melted me the man could have asked me for the keys to Fort Knox and if I had them in my possession I would have gift wrapped them for him.

 

So simply put Matt Milne is totally on my radar as an audio narrator and while there currently only seems to be 4 books to this narrator's credit, I will definitely be on the lookout for more.

 

Truthfully, if I had to make one criticism about the narration I guess I'd have to say it was the fact that while the book is set in the United States both of the MCs have a slight British tone to their voices...and you know what, I didn't care. I admit there are times when this is enough to make me want to throw my laptop out the window...not this time...I simply didn't care. I just wanted to keep listening to Rye and Marcus talk...so, there you go, if accents are a big issue for you this might not be the book for you...but just to be sure you should head on over to Amazon or audible and check out the sound clip before making your choice...you might find that you don't care either and if you do than, you've saved yourself some time and money...either way it's all good.

 

Ok, now that I've gushed a bit about how much I loved the narration of this book let's move back to the actual story. As far as Rye being a 'male escort' I'm honestly neither here nor there in terms of this. For Rye being a male escort as I said was a life choice...he wanted to stay alive and the only way to do this was to be able to provide for himself...so, truthfully who am I to criticize? Sure I can say things like 'well, I'm sure there were other things that he could have done? there had to be another way?' but just like in the real world we can't know the hows and whys of someone's life if we haven't lived it. So to me Rye did what he had to in order to keep himself alive and I can absolutely respect that and to by honest I really liked Rye. I like his caring and his compassion, his snark and the fact that even though he maybe should have been one of the most cynical people out there given the hand that life dealt him he wasn't.

 

Then there's Marcus...again he should have been someone other than who he was considering his circumstances but for all of his bluff and bluster, he was a good and caring person...Marcus truly had a good heart and I loved his determination to remain so fiercely independent. I couldn't imagine going out into a world that I could no longer really see. I'm pretty sure I'd be hiding in a corner somewhere.

 

I loved the road trip setting for this one. I am totally a fan of road trip stories and the connection between Rye and Marcus for me was perfect. It wasn't a love at first sight for them it started with simply liking and being comfortable with each other and the banter between these two was filled with snarky humor and often enough honesty to have one or both of them feeling uncomfortable. 

 

'Taking the Long Way' was a story about more than just one journey. Yes, there was the obvious trip across country for Marcus to get to his doctor's appointment but there was also a journey made by each of these men to find themselves...a journey that they needed to make in order to make that final journey that would allow them to find their way back to each other. 

 

I loved this story and yes, it may have some flaws in it but ultimately I connected with it on a level that left me feeling like I'd gone on a bit of a road trip as well, as I traveled along with Rye and Marcus on their cross country journey. 

 

I'm looking forward to more from both this author and the narrator of what is  very probably going to be one of my favorite audio books EVAH!!!

 

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

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review 2018-03-06 17:52
And here we have another new to me author...
Promise Me We'll Be Okay - Nell Iris

'Promise Me We'll Be Okay' intrigued me. It's a second chance story but it's honestly the kind of second chance story that I tend to avoid because we come into this story smack dab in the middle so to speak and a lot of time with stories like this I just don't get a feel for the couple and I tend not to feel invested in the  story but surprise that didn't happen this time. 

 

I really liked Jude and Vee (Vincent). Jude's musically gifted and loves his job as a high school music teacher almost as much as he loves Vee. Vee's ambitious and driven to succeed but Jude's his touchstone and he loves him completely and yet it's been about 2 years since Vee ended things between them and Jude's spent that time trying to move on, to get past loving Vee with all his heart and losing the dream that was suppose to be their HEA. 

 

Jude never really understood what happened or why what he thought was his perfect life with Vee suddenly came to an end, but he's trying really, really hard to move on from all of this until a knock on his door one evening brings him face to face with the past that he can't quite move on from. So needless to say I wasn't going to be a fan of Vee...nope, he's an idiot douche-bag and all those other rotten things, right? Nope, wrong...dammit, I liked Vee. It turned out that he was honestly a really nice guy who made a really big mistake and when he finally realized it he didn't try and blame anyone but himself. 

 

Truthfully I loved that Jude didn't play games when he finally talked to Vee and they began to work things out and I totally admit if I had been in Jude's shoes I think my reactions would have been the same. I really got where Jude was coming from and part of it was the why of Vee ending things. I'm not saying it wouldn't have hurt but it could have been so much harder. I loved that whatever the problem was between these two it didn't involve cheating and that's all I'm saying about that.

 

And yet, ironically, what really niggled at me was the reason why Vee ended things between him and Jude...as reasons go it was weak and somehow I couldn't quite reconcile it as something that the Vee we saw in the story would do, but while I was waffling over this, I realized that there are probably things that we can all say we've done that have struck people who know us as being outside of our character. So while it may not have struck me as being something that Vee would do I also realized that didn't make it something he wouldn't do.

 

Now what really worked for me was Jude and Vincent...it's through their conversations and Jude's memories as he and Vee begin to find their way back to each other that I began to see and feel the connection they shared. I loved these two men together. They worked I felt their connection and it was good. I also really enjoyed the secondary characters in this story from Jude's brother and his wife to his friend Benji and Benji's 3 dads. 

 

'Promise Me We'll Be Okay' is essentially a short, sweet second chance story that's touched with humor and low on angst and overall an enjoyable feel good story.

 

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An ARC of 'Promise Me We'll Be Okay' was graciously provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

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review 2018-03-06 15:50
It's mystery time...
Bone to Pick - Alan Moore,Michael Fell

"Bone To Pick' is my first time with a story by author T.A. Moore and seriously you can just color me impressed. I have to admit that being new to this author I had no idea what to expect so while I like the familiar as much as the next person...which, I did get that because hey, Michael Fell, narrated this one and he's quickly becoming a fav of mine when it comes to audio book narrators.

 

But as much as I like the familiar I also welcome the chance to discover something new and what I found here was an author that can deliver a solid mystery/thriller story with a touch of romance? mmm...maybe, not so much romance but definitely a relationship going on here between a couple of the MCs.

 

Cloister Witte works for the San Diego County Sheriff's Departments K-9 Unit. He's a man who's past haunts him...dad's a deadbeat, stepdad's a criminal and his brother disappeared and was never found and this is the demon that drives Cloister to do for others what no one did for his brother. Cloister and his K-9 partner, Bourneville bring the missing home.

 

When Drew Hartley goes missing Cloister and Bourneville are brought in to aid in the search and as much as he wants to help being brought in to help F.B.I. agent Javi Merlo is not high on Cloister's list of things he wants to do...but with a child missing both men try to put aside their animosity towards each other...notice I said try...yeah, some things are harder to do than others. While it's readily apparent that the animosity between Cloister and Javi is fueled as much by their attraction as it is by their past encounter.  For me the relationship here is far more physical attraction than any kind of emotional connection. I'm not saying that it doesn't have to potential to become more...just that throughout the course of this story while the physical attraction was definitely there if readers are looking for some kind of grand romance than they're going to be disappointed.

 

It's definitely the mystery/thriller part of this story that has prominence and takes center stage for most of this story. While I liked Cloister from the word go and of course I liked Bourneville...I mean really how can anyone not like a service dog. These dogs are the heroes of the dog world. Don't get me wrong they're not the only heroes when it comes to our canine companions but you have to admit service dogs are pretty damned amazing and this is also part of the reason why I just couldn't warm up to Javi with his less than informed attitude towards service dogs and what they are capable of...yeah, Javi was often times a self-righteous, condescending, jerk and truthfully my feelings towards him didn't really change but that didn't really seem to impact how much I enjoyed this story. 

 

Like many others I loved Bourne. For the most part I really liked Cloister. He was awesome with Bourne and fairly good with people in general...was he perfect...no, but really who is and for me this just added to making Cloister feel like a real person someone that I could actually meet one day. 

 

As for Javi...well sad to say I can imagine meeting him one day too...oh, wait I think I've already met him a time or two at least and I think this is part of why even though I wasn't a fan of Javi, he didn't spoil the story for me. Along with the good and the bad that was Javi and Cloister there were secondary characters who helped to fill out this story adding to the tension and realism of events. 

 

I admit it I loved this story not because of the 'romance' but more in spite of it. The mystery for me was enjoyable, the character interaction intriguing and the potential for more solid and I'm definitely on board to check out more by this author and last but not least...the narrator...Michael Fell.

 

I'm not sure what more there is that I can say here about Michael Fell..I could add a whole lot of flowery, gushy words and go on and on about the fact that he's steadily making his way to my top 10 list when it comes to audio book narrators and when I'm looking for an audio book to listen to if he's becoming a narrator who requires little if any consideration as to whether or not I'll enjoy the audio...so, like I said I'm not sure what more I can so except maybe if you enjoy audio books and you haven't listened to anything by Michael Fell...what the hell? How have you managed that and you need to fix it ASAP! and this is as good a book as any to start with if you enjoy a good mystery.

 

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

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