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review 2018-01-11 03:09
ARC Review: Only You by Kay Doherty
Only You - Kay Doherty

Holy Insta-Love, Batman! And holy magic dick, Batman!

I took a chance on a new-to-me author, because the blurb of this book was intriguing. Rich party-boy/man-whore seeks new life away from the six maybe-boyfriends who'd only use him for his money and runs to his aunt's house in small-town Clover City, where he meets older, grumpy, closeted sheriff, who's still nursing a broken heart and carrying some massive guilt after his PD partner/secret lover died, back in Denver, during a domestic disturbance call gone very wrong.

I liked Case(y) initially - I could see that he was tired of being used and adrift, not sure of his way, and I hoped that he would find what he was looking for. He was immature to some extent (breaking up with his many boyfriends via text is just one example) and in desperate need of some direction in his life, something that would make it meaningful. But then, one of Case's ex-BFs tracks him down and instead of sending the guy back to where he came from, he puts him up in a hotel and pays the bill? Where was his spine? It's not like this happened shortly after Case's arrival - no, ex-BF shows up when he's already deeply involved with the sheriff. What gives?

Rawley, the closeted sheriff, is still mourning the loss of his partner, a death for which he blames himself, though he has built himself a quiet and mostly content life in Clover City. He's lonely, of course, even though he'd deny that if asked. Rawley takes one look at Case and wants. Grumpy sheriff wants the younger man, and after dragging him away from a barbeque to his house and sexy times, the sheriff is completely in lurve with the younger man, wants to keep him always, but also wonders if Case's man-whore past is not entirely a thing of the past. Jealousy is an ugly thing. 

There were some sweet moments too, and this book is entertaining. The plot flows well, I liked Case's aunt Sylvia (she was a sweetheart), and the townsfolks were nice too. 

Rawley just came on too strong sometimes, and I thought that the age gap was actually hindering them. Many times, Case acted like a doormat, and I wondered if he saw Rawley as a father figure too, instead of only a lover and an equal. Rawley had some hang-ups about Case's age as well and a bit of a dominant personality that, while it suited Case's character, was for me a bit too much. I like equality in the relationship, equal standing from a maturity perspective as much as possible, and I didn't get that here so much. 

Some of the plot points had me scratching my head, such as the rapidity with which Rawley stops grieving his ex-lover after meeting Case and their first bedroom encounter. Not only that, he also quickly gets over his guilt, a guilt that he's carried with him for two years and that he's worn like a shield to keep everyone out. Similarly, Case has one encounter with our grumpy sheriff, gets fucked through the mattress, and suddenly swears off anyone else's dick - never again will he have sex with anyone else, because... well, I guess because Rawley's dick is magic too. It's so magic, actually, that Case willingly puts up with Rawley's jealousy and distrust in his statement that he's done being a party-boy/man-whore and came to Clover City for that reason - to be done with that life. 

The ending felt a little too abrupt to me. I still had questions. What is the punishment Deputy Ted promised at the end? Is Jordan, the ex-BF, going to get that talk Case wants to have with him, and why, oh why is he still in town when the book ends? 

So, this wasn't a great read, but it did keep me entertained. Case and Rawley had some good banter going on, and while the relationship smacked of insta-love, they do get a rather nice HFN that will likely lead to a HEA, even if that must happen off-page. I could see Rawley open himself up to new beginnings and a second chance at love, and I could see Case find what has eluded him so far - someone who cares for him not because of what he can do for them, but for who he is. And don't we all want that, too?

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

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review 2018-01-02 00:15
ARC Review: Bad Company by K.A. Mitchell
Bad Company (Bad in Baltimore Book 1) - K.A. Mitchell

I read the 2nd edition of this book, upon its re-release via Dreamspinner Press.

This is a well-done enemies-to-lovers romance between two men who were as thick as thieves as kids, but had a huge falling out when one of them (Nate) came out as gay to the other one (Kellan), and then suffered a betrayal of such magnitude that their friendship abruptly ended. 

Additionally, Kellan's father allegedly stole the formula for an energy drink from Nate's father, which then caused Nate's father to lose his job, and the family to lose everything they had, whereas Kellan's father, and thus Kellan, became rich. 

Nate has not forgiven Kellan, even though it's been many years, and he hasn't spoke to his ex-friend ever since. 

What made this book stand out for me is that both Nate and Kellan are anti-heroes, meaning they're both unlikable, in that they're selfish and self-absorbed for a good chunk of this book. Kellan's plan to "stick it" to his overbearing and controlling father by coming out as gay, even though he isn't really (or at least, he thinks so), by pretending that Nate is his boyfriend, thereby sticking it to his father even more, is really selfish, and for a long while Kellan doesn't really think things through. He's perfectly willing to use Nate to anger his father, without any concerns really how that might make Nate feel, which only cemented my initial assessment of him as an arrogant and selfish rich prick.

Nate, on the other hand, is so angry with Kellan still that he's almost unable to pull his head out of his own ass, even as Kellan softens toward him and slowly tries to rebuild their friendship. He's curt, abrupt, rude, and condescending, and treats Kellan badly - out of anger, and then out of fear. There was a scene relatively early on that had me shake my head at Nate, even though I understood to some extent where he was coming from. Hate is just another side of the same coin - the opposite of love is not really hate, but indifference, and it was clear that Nate wasn't, despite his internal protests, indifferent to Kellan. His righteous anger is just a cover for the pain Kellan caused him, for how he broke his heart when he left him to the wolves. 

The book also features Eli, Nate's employee/subordinate, who gets his own book in Bad Boyfriend (the only book of the series I read before this one), and who provided some comedic relief on occasion that thawed the tension between Nate and Kellan. I suppose one could say that Eli also acted as a catalyst of sorts for both Nate and Kellan to confront their feelings and become used to the idea that their fake relationship might have turned real. 

Kellan struggles with his attraction to Nate and spends a lot of time in this book confused, trying to figure out whether he's straight, or not so straight after all, and that his actions in their teenage years, those suppressed memories, were born out of fear. His personal growth throughout the book was my favorite part. 

So fake-boyfriend plus enemies-to-lovers = excellent read, with flawed and complex, yet mostly realistic characters who needed to work on themselves to overcome the pain of their pasts to find lasting love. Worth your time. 

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

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review 2017-12-15 03:06
Book Review: Unbroken by Larry Benjamin
Unbroken - Larry Benjamin

No words. None.


If you read but one book this year - make it this one.


All the stars! Utterly breathtaking. 

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review 2017-12-14 02:01
Book Review: Barbed Wire Cowboy by Renee Stevens
Barbed Wire Cowboy - Renee Stevens

Barbed Wire Cowboy is at once a gritty tale of living and working on a cattle ranch and a love story between two men who suck at communicating honestly and openly.

After coming out to his rancher father, Marc Poulson found himself kicked out, stripped of his family and alone, but in the years since found a place as foreman of the Double R Ranch. If it weren't for his feud with his ex-friend Casey, foreman at the neighboring Del Rio Ranch, life would be nearly perfect. 

Marc doesn't understand why Casey would rather punch him than continue to be his friend - the reason for this change in status is not immediately clear to the reader, as neither Marc nor Casey provide any insight - but their continued fighting has now landed both of them in a jail cell.

Bailed out by their respective bosses, Marc and Casey are given an ultimatum - shape up or ship out. And learn to work together again. 

Marc is happy to call a truce between them, but Casey isn't on board. When Marc saves Casey's ass from a rampant bull, the event proves to be somewhat of a turning point. 

Except Casey continues to blow hot and cold, and refuses to tell Marc what demons are still haunting him. He makes mistake after mistake, driven by the terror of his past, until Marc has enough, and when provided with an unforeseen option, Marc is done with Casey's bullshit and leaves.

The author really brought the grittiness, long hours and hard work of the cattle ranches across, and the huge amount of physical labor that's involved. She also did a fine job with the characters - they are complex and complicated, and rough around the edges, like you'd expect cowboys to be - but also gave them individual pasts that continue to shape their actions and derail what might be. Neither knows how to really talk about their feelings, and Casey hiding a huge secret from his past that he refuses to address and would rather forget has a lot to do with his behavior - their actions and reactions made sense to me. 

This is a rollercoaster ride as Marc and Casey go from enemies to lovers to heartbreak, full of anger and fear and hiding, with an overriding sense that love may not always be enough to keep a couple together unless they're willing to confront their differences and their pasts head-on to have a future.

Whether Casey and Marc overcome the odds - well, find out by reading this for yourself. 

** I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. **

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review 2017-10-03 01:59
Release Day ARC Review: The Bunny And The Billionaire by Louisa Masters
The Bunny and the Billionaire (Dreamspun Desires Book 43) - Louisa Masters

This is such a Harlequin-esque book. I mean, seriously, this one lays it on super thick, and as such fits the Dreamspun Desires series to a T.

Here we have Ben Adams, a nurse from Australia, who recently inherited a large sum of money (and when I say large, I mean LARGE) from the old lady whom he looked after for some time, and whom he still misses. Never having known wealth, Ben decides on a tour of Europe but still counting his pennies and saving money where possible. 

While in Monaco, he meets Leo Artois, the billionaire from the book's title, who's never known a day without wealth, seeing how his mother is a princess and his father is not only fabulously wealthy but also almost French royalty or something of the sort. 

Why Leo insists on calling Ben Bunny all the time escaped me. Leo, as well as his circle of friends, come across as the sort of people who never had to work a day in their lives and who think nothing of spending money whenever they please. 

Ben only planned to stay in Monaco for a few days before heading to Italy, but after meeting Leo, and the instant attraction he feels for the man, he decides to stay a while longer. 

What I liked about this book is that Ben isn't shy about pointing out to Leo how wasteful spending isn't impressive to him, and that Leo make concessions for Ben's point of view on money issues, but also teaches him that some things are worth the money they cost and introduces him to some of the finer things in life that most mortals will never be able to afford. 

Ben, despite his substantial inheritance, is still a normal guy and tries to impress that normalcy on Leo. 

I believed their holiday fling. Their attraction burned brightly from the start, and I bought that Leo was fascinated with Ben, and vice versa, but their HEA romance - nah. Didn't believe it. They had so little in common, and despite Ben's new wealth, their social circles and life experiences didn't really mesh for me at all. Ben was too normal whereas Leo was way more sophisticated and often came across as someone whose illusions of entitlement were showing. Ben came across as uncomfortable with the OTT displays of wealth Leo and his circle found normal, and that doesn't make for a life-long romance. I mean, obviously with this series, disbelief must be suspended most of the time anyway, but the romance should still be something that resonates. And here, it sadly didn't, for me. YMMV.

The writing was pretty good; the dialogue was believable (with some snark, yay) for how the two men were characterized, and I'm interested in reading more by this author.

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

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