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review 2017-01-18 15:09
This...is not your average love story...
The Impossible Boy - Anna Martin

I had my reservations on this one because the first line in the blurb said 'This is not your average love story.' and of course my response to that was...but is it? It it really even a love story? So I read on and I became intrigued, curious and ultimately interested...so of course reading the book became inevitable. I needed to find out for myself...was this a love story and yes, we're going with my definition of 'love story' vs 'romance' because hey, it's my review.

 

I knew from the blurb that I wasn't getting your average couple. Stan is gender fluid and while he did indicate in the story that he essentially identified himself as 'male' it was also clearly and beautifully evident that he acknowledged and even embraced the side of himself that so obviously identified as 'female'. Stan is gender fluid and wonderfully so. While Stan's life has for so many reasons not been easy neither has he wallowed in pity over the hand he's been dealt. Stan has for all intents and purposes made the most of the opportunities that have come his way and turned himself into a fashion blogging success. His looks are stunning and he could easily rule the catwalks of Europe, but Stan's no fool either, he sees the pitfalls that the fashion industry holds and especially for someone who's already dealt with anorexia so he's quite happy with his life in fashion behind the scenes. 

 

His personal life though that's another story. He's never known anyone who loved all of him...

who could see the girl...

                                  and like her...

and touch the boy...

                            and like him too...

                                                     until he walked into a bar and met Ben.

Ben's a tattooed, badass, wanna-be rocker. Who gets on look at Stan and he's a goner. He just doesn't know it...yet.

 

As much as I wanted to give the story 5 stars, in the end, I settled for 4 because for a fair chunk of this book I had a disconnect...not from Stan or Ben but from the actual story itself. There were moments when for want of a better word I was 'bored' I'd put the book down and wander off to do other things but then I'd pick it back up and start reading and wonder 'why the hell I'd ever put it down? and after a while I'd put it down again and wonder off...so I'm really not sure if it was me or the book.  Maybe it was just my mindset at the time and if this had only happened once or twice I probably would have attributed it to that but it took me 3 days to get through a book that I easily should have read in considerably less time so I'm sticking with the 4 stars and I'm also unrepentantly happy that I stuck with the book...because in the end it was a beautiful story that I'm glad I read.

 

'The Impossible Boy' wasn't a story about tow people falling in love...well, ok it sort of was but the story also told so much more. Loving someone is just the beginning, it's the making it work and how you fit into each other's lives and how and when you make the compromises and how and when you can't or don't. There was so much depth to this story, so much more than a typical romance or even those rare love stories that make me sight so contentedly at the end because I'm left feeling like what I read was real and tangible and enduring.

 

For me the biggest difference...the only real difference between a romance and a love story is how the story makes me, as a reader, feel so you it's a very personal thing...subjective, if you will. There's no right or wrong or good or bad here. Just a simple matter of opinion and in this case 'The Impossible Boy' felt like a love story. A well told love story of two people surrounded by a cast of wonderful characters. 

 

There were so many beautiful moments in this story. Moments that spoke to the heart of how much Stand and Ben cared for each other without ever using the words 'I love you'. But the one that stayed with me was Ben's and ironically it did involve the word 'love', but it was the totality of what he said that brought home, to me, the depth of his feelings for Stan...

"There is no 'what if,'" Ben said, throwing his hands up in exasperation. "I love you. That has to be enough to make you want those things, Stan. I can't give you any more than that. I love you. Please. If you love me too, the only thing I want you to promise me is to never take the man I love away from me. Never take the man who made my life complete away. I would never be able to forgive you if you did that."

'The impossible Boy' is more than just a story about falling in love. It's about finding love, making it work, fitting it into your life...in the good times and the bad, it's about fighting for it and believing in it.  It's about the kind of love that gives meaning and not just the big moments but the little ones as well and it left me feeling like what I read was real, tangible and enduring.

 

********************

An ARC of 'The Impossible Boy' was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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review 2017-01-09 22:58
It's time for the Gentlemen Brothers to take a final bow...
Broken, Collared and Ready for Revenge - James D. Cox

'Broken, Collared and Ready for Revenge' was the third and final story in 'The Gentlemen Brothers' trilogy by James Cox and that's why I decided to finish this in style with my first buddy read of the year. It was just me and Christelle this time around...apparently we were alone in our addiction to these Steampunk siblings...we're waiting for all our friends to discover this trio of steampunk hotness...and trust me...they are hot.

 

Joshua, Logan and Alex the Gentlemen brothers live in a steampunk world filled with danger and it's at the tender age of 11 that Alex quickly discovers how fast that danger can alter your reality. When their dirigible is raided, their father killed, Joshua falls to his death, or so his brothers are left to believe and Logan is rescued by the leader of the rebel force known as the Hinders it's in 'Broken, Collared and Ready for Revenge' that we get Alex's story and his is the darkest of all. Less fortunate than his brothers, Alex is taken to the mines where he's forced to dig for metals and fed barely enough to sustain himself. He and the other children there come to now hunger, abuse and deprivation as intimately as a mother's touch. Then when he's too big to dig in the tunnels he's collared and trained to be a mindless killing machine and he's raped.

 

The whole time right up until the torture that is the collar Alex believes that his brothers will find him and rightfully so because neither brother has ever given up looking for their siblings and when Joshua and Logan find each other they become even more determined to bring Alex home to them where he belongs. But it's not Joshua or Logan who give Alex the peace of mind that he needs to begin healing it's a quirky little inventor named 'one nut' Nigel, who brings peace to Alex's mind and passion to his soul.

 

I loved this series from start to finish and while the first book was admittedly my favorite I thoroughly loved the last two as well. Yes, I would have enjoyed this one had there been a little more page time dedicated to Alex and Nigel's relationship. These two men were adorable and I so enjoyed the romance as Alex discovered both his feelings and his undeniable attraction to Nigel...sweet, timid Nigel who was far more comfortable with his nose buried in a book than anywhere else until Alex came along. Their growing relationship was sweet and awkward and at times just so damned laugh-out-loud amusing. Who wouldn't want more?

 

The story of how these three brothers came to be separated and then reunited ran throughout this trilogy and while the ending was complete and nothing felt left out or missing for me it also had a tiny bit of a rushed tone to it, but that could just be me being greedy for more of something that I was enjoying...so sue me, I don't like to give up a good thing.

 

So at the end of it all...if you like steampunk, sex, damaged men, hot, fun sexy times and a solid HEA. Check this out because I think 'The Gentlemen Brothers' may be just what you're looking for.

 

Thanks for another awesome buddy read Christelle. It was definitely the right way to kick of a new year.

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review 2016-12-17 18:51
Sometimes you just gotta' take a chance...
Murder Once Seen (The Oddities) (Volume 1) - Susan J. Hall

That's what I did with this one. 'Murder Once Seen' is a new to me author writing in what is a new to her genre...paranormal/gay/mystery/suspense, I have to admit for me it felt more like a M/m Urban Fantasy with a definite dystopian flavor and a dash of mystery/suspense thrown in, but however you want to categorize it I liked it a lot...a whole lot!

 

 Elliot's a rent boy in the city of Nis, he's been on the streets since the age of 14 when his parents tossed him out not for his oddity but because he's gay. Life's not easy living on the streets and having the uncontrolled ability to read objects along with being gay and the fact that he likes...no loves pain and the chances of getting off the streets and having a safe, normal life seems like a bit of a pipe dream for Elliot. He never intended for this to be his life but then there's a lot he never intended to happen, but sometimes life just is what it is.

 

Derwin's got his own oddity one that he tries hard to keep off of the radar of the powers that be. He feeds off of other people's pain but the pain he craves is the pain that's freely given between a Dom and his sub. His oddity also gives him superhuman strength and agility...helpful skills if you're a bounty hunter. He's been alone for a while now because it's been 2 years since his boyfriend was murdered. A murder that still remains unsolved and that eats away at Derwin with the need to know what happened.

 

What started out as a job for Elliot and a way to feed and get a little sexual relief for Derwin quickly turns into a case of really strong mutual attraction when both men realize that their personal kinks are very mutually agreeable, but it's more than that as they each feel the stirrings of an underlying attraction that draws them towards one another.  I wouldn't call this a case of insta-love necessarily, it's close but for me it didn't quite have that feel and it was tempered by the fact that while both men were aware of their mutual attraction, they were also resistant to how fast and strong their attraction was developing.

 

I liked that their relationship was a far cry from boy-meets-boy, fall into bed and they all lived happily ever after. It so did not happen this way. There were obstacles...lots of them on both sides. 

 

My only issue with this story and honestly for me it was a small one and didn't really detract from my overall enjoyment of the story was at the very beginning we're given Derwin's background regarding his boyfriends death through a flashback and basically we get Elliot's background the same way and some of the general information about the overall setting is filtered in between the main character's flashbacks. So my issue and I have to say this may very well be a me thing but for some reason I found the flashbacks a little confusing and more so Elliot's than Derwin's. Ultimately for me it's was a minor glitch. 

 

I loved the mystery/suspense part of this story and the way it balanced with the development of Derwin and Elliot's relationship. Now, I don't really think I say this often and I know my friends will correct me if I'm wrong here, but i seriously would have been good with these guys having more up close and personal time than they did. Arguably the storyline didn't really facilitate this happening but it didn't stop me from wanting it. Derwin and Elliot were seriously hot together...very, very hot...ok, I may have read some parts twice but it was just for clarity...honest, purely in the interest of clarifying details.

 

I honestly can't wait for the next book in this series and I am so all over this one, but a word of warning to those who may choose to read this story...please keep in mind what Elliot does for a living...he's a rentboy, no there's not tons of him and other people sex happening honestly there's one scene and the sex is really more off page but again he's a rentboy. Also the ending is a bit cliff-hangerish and our guys have more of an HFN at this point but really excellent story and so worth going back for book 2, Fraud Twice Felt (coming soon) according to the book...sign me up, I'm all over this one.

 

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An ARC of 'Murder Once Seen' was graciously provided by the publisher through Net Galley.

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review 2016-12-04 20:59
Often times the best books are the hardest to read...
When Forever Ended - Cara Dee

...and review. That's what happened here. I finished this book for 2 days ago and I'm not really sure my brain is any more ready to write a review now than it was 2 days ago, but I need to get this done, however, before I do, I just need to say there are already some pretty damned good reviews out there for this book and I'm going to try really hard not to be redundant, sadly, we all know it's going to happen, so I'll just strive not to be too boring, ok?

 

This is only my second Cara Dee book and believe me fixing that is high on my list of reading priorities because 'Damn! This woman knows how to write a story.' Usually I can go through a book and at least say 'I really, liked this or this was really good' but to be honest this ones a case of I really liked the first page of this book and the last one was pretty excellent too and oh yeah, everything in between was freakin' fantastic. 

 

Ok, let's see if I can nail down a couple of specifics here. I'm pretty sure that most people by now know that this book deals with depression...what do you mean, you didn't know that? Seriously go read the blurb and then come back. I'll wait...there now that's better...as I was saying this book deals with depression and it deals with it realistically, but not with an air of hopelessness.

 

Two mature MCs with a history who haven't seen each other in over two decades, each has their own family.

 

William has a wife, a son and a daughter. William's struggling with depression...not for the first time in his life. Depression has been both William's companion and his nemesis for years having his childhood best friend and the man who ran from him after William kissed him, 24 years ago, suddenly return to Camassia Cove is the last thing that he needs or at least that's what William believes. 

 

Kelly's a single dad with a 16 year old son. Kelly's no stranger to depression and wants more than anything to be there for William. He's learned a lot about himself since the day that William kissed him. The day he ran and didn't look back, not the least of which was that he's gay and he's still in love with William, but did he stay away too long? Has 24 years created a gap he can't close? 

 

This story is filled with a wonderful cast of characters who are so easy to visualize as real people. People who I can quite easily imagine meeting in my day to day life. They're not perfect, they have their ups and downs, their good moments and their bad...just like you and I. It's not too often that I read a book where I like every single character in the story...well, except William's parents but there not really a part of the story...thankfully.

 

From start to finish this story was handled with warmth, compassion and a sense of realism that permeated every page. The problems were real and so were the solutions there were no magic fixes up to and including the ending.

 

William's struggle to deal with his depression took medications, time and effort. There were days that were one step forward and two steps back, there were days spent hiding from the world in bed because these are things that happen when someone suffers from depression and at the end there was no magical cure-all. William's success was hard earned and keeping it came with continued effort. So yes, he got his happily ever after and he damned well deserved it.

 

'When Forever Ended' is book 2 in Cara Dee's 'Camassia Cove' series and can easily be read as a standalone story, I know I did it but honestly I'm going back for the first book because 'damn can this author tell a story!'

 

********************

An ARC of 'When Forever Ended' was graciously provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

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review 2016-11-27 22:16
I has a problem...
Summer Lessons - Amy Lane

I really loved the first book in this series, Winter Ball. I mean I liked it so much that I gave it 5 stars and a pretty glowing review. So here's my problem I seriously like this one better. I mean way, way more and not because the first book wasn't total awesomesauce...nope, nope, nope, not even a little bit. It's more like Winter Ball was awesomesauce and Summer Lessons are super deluxe awesomesauce.

 

'Summer Lessons' are Mason and Terry's story and this one got me right straight in the feelz. I laughed because Mason...oh-my-god! the things that came out of his mouth. I seriously want to be his friend just so I can sit and talk with him and screen his boyfriends because his taste in men...not so good. Until Terry and as much as I adored Terry there were still issues. One of the biggest and ugliest ones being Terry's mother. Sweet merciful heavens can I get my hands on this woman? I mean seriously is there anything worse than making your kid feel like he's responsible for all that's wrong in your life? NO!!! Just hell no. You don't do this...yep, Terry's mom gives me rage.

 

So lets talk about better things...like Mason's brother Dane.  I loved Dane. His struggle to keep his life on track was heartbreaking and uplifting because he kept trying. Yes sometimes he needed the strength and support of his family to do it but hell sometimes I need that and I'm not bipolar. I loved that he recognized and appreciated what an awesome person and brother Mason was and yes, I want a story with an epic HEA for Dane because he so deserves it. It was also really awesome to have so many of the characters from the first book back as well these guys are just a wonderful, interesting and eclectic collection of personalities.

 

There is so much more that I could go on and on about because this is what Amy Lane does she creates stories that draw you in and introduce you to a world of people who make you feel. Whether it's because they make you rage in anger and frustration...Terry's mom or they make you laugh and smile until your ready to burst because you know without a doubt that if this person was standing in front of you, you would want them to be your friend, your mother, your father, sister, brother, partner, lover, something but you just know that you need someone like them in your life.

 

Surprisingly the thing I loved the most about this book was Mason and Terry's relationship which had me doing a double take because May/December...just not my thing. But I loved how Ms Lane handled this relationship. In so many ways Terry and Mason were at different places in their lives and Mason recognized this and he knew that for as much as he wanted Terry, he needed to be the one to do the right thing, the grown up thing and step-away from the relationship but he didn't do it until he was sure that Terry was in a position to explore his new found independence and find himself.

 

It's the hardest thing in the world to do what's best for the person you love even if it's the total opposite of what you want for yourself but Mason did it and not only did he do that, when Terry figured out what he wanted Mason never made him feel like the fact that he'd taken some time to figure out who he was and what he wanted was bad or wrong. it was after all what Mason had encouraged him to do. 

 

This story touched my heart and I know it's going to stay with me for a long time. I honestly have a hard time imagining that this won't be my favorite book from the series. It was all the imperfections of Mason and Terry as a couple and as individuals that ended up being perfection for me.

 

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An ARC of 'Summer Lessons' was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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