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review 2017-05-23 01:58
Book Review: Lace by K.C. Wells
Lace - K.C. Wells,Meredith Russell

I'm of two minds about this book.

On one hand, this was perfect, kinky erotica, and I love how much emotion this author always puts into the sexy times. Also, manties. Yum!!

On the other hand, Dave is a jerk for outing Shawn's personal kink to someone else, and both of them suffer from "can't-talk-about-shit-itis". So frustrating.

Why four stars, then, you ask? Because it's K.C. Wells and I just adore her particular brand of magic. There's definitely a connection between the two men - best mates for ages - that turns to more when one of them finds out the other is not so straight after all, and the other finds some lacy knickers in a dresser drawer that prompts a WTF and a BJ.

Except, they just. Can't. Seem. To. TALK to each other. One makes a bloody stupid assumption, and the other makes a bloody stupid assumption, and they get all tangled into knots about each other and what the other might be feeling.

Jeez, guys, communicate, eh? It's not that difficult, right? OMG, they frustrated me to no end. I'm sure the author intended that, so - success!!

I liked both of them, except for that shit Dave pulls when he tells another guy about Shawn's proclivity for silky/lacy drawers, which is so uncool. Super uncool. I'm shocked that Shawn didn't seem to care all that much about Dave outing his little secret, especially considering that Shawn goes to the same gym, and seriously? *snarls*

But, my God, when they burn up the sheets, and then when they finally get it together? Yeah - that's where this book shines, and I was feeling all happy and gooey inside after the ending.

So, I'm of two minds, but the enjoyment side won out. It's a quick read, though I wouldn't recommend reading it during lunch time unless you work from home, and in that case, what are you waiting for? Read it!!



** I received a free copy of this book from Signal Boost Promotions. A positive review was not promised in return. **

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review 2017-05-15 02:37
ARC Review: Summer Stock by Vanessa North
Summer Stock - Vanessa North

Vanessa North has gone and done it again. With Summer Stock, she's back with a lovely romance between a rumored bad boy Hollywood actor and a North Carolina low country handyman who meet each other during a summer of building stage sets and acting for a local Shakespeare company owned by the former's cousin and the latter's friend.

Ryan Hertzog, Hollywood star, has returned to North Caroline for the summer, told to lay low by his publicist and avoid any further scandals. His rumored relationship with his friend Ali and her boyfriend West has sent him fleeing for the opposite coast to hide from the glare of the Hollywood lights.

Trey Donovan, handyman and owner of a renovation business, has had his own reasons for laying low - an abusive ex has made him distrustful and scared to get into another relationship.

They meet, they get it on, and then Ryan runs into Trey's dog Ferdinand (Ferdy), a 200 lbs mastiff with a heart of gold and an affinity for chewing on underwear, and ends up butt naked outside of Trey's house, with the paparazzi all too ready to take his picture.

Clearly, the relationship isn't off to a good start, even if it's only meant to be a summer fling.

But Ryan and Trey meet time and again and just cannot keep their hands off each other - the flames burn brightly. But it's only for the summer, right?

The book is really all about the relationship between the two men, and how a summer fling develops into more. Of course, it's not smooth sailing, what with Ryan being bisexual and Trey being a bit bi-phobic and suffering from foot-in-mouth disease on occasion, but they talk, apologies are made and accepted, and sheets are burned up. Holy hot boysecks, Batman!

This author continues to impress me with her writing. She's not afraid to defy the tropes, she unflinchingly speaks her mind through her characters, she points out how assumptions tend to be wrong, and she doesn't use stereotypes. Her characters are fully fleshed out, complex and imperfect, which makes them more likable and relatable. Vanessa North makes you question your own prejudice, especially when it comes to expectations of the Hollywood actors in this book.

Trey has some demons to slay, and he still suffers on occasion from a need to sabotage the good things in his life, because he was made to feel worthless by his ex and doesn't believe that he deserves a good thing like Ryan.

Ryan is not perfect either, but he's not a stereotypical Hollywood star. He loves acting, and he is committed to the small theater where he's performing for the summer, happily giving acting advice to his fellow players and wanting to do what's best for his cousin Caro and her friend Mason (the owners). He is sometimes exasperated by Trey's stupid comments about bisexuality, and at times hides his hurt.

There was a moment around 80% or so when I thought this book was taking a direction not to my liking, but of course I should have trusted the author who didn't let me down. In the end, both men grow throughout this book, and they journey they took was, while not smooth, definitely worth taking.

Kudos to this author for writing bisexual characters, stereotype-defying characters, and complex, flawed characters, not only for the main pairing but also for the supporting cast. And extra kudos for Ferdy, the most lovable, slobbering, and loving beast there ever was.

There's a HEA, of course, and a lovely epilogue, and all's well that ends well, as The Bard himself would tell you.

Highly recommended.


** 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 2017-05-01 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 2017-04-26 02:38
ARC Review: Anything For You by Ethan Day
Anything For You - Ethan Day

One major niggle up front - the way Trent drugged Jason, as unintentional as the consequences were - yeah, super not cool. I was mad!

But I got over it.

Jason is deep in the closet. So deep he's actually almost in Narnia. Not out to anyone except his closest friends, he has a basket by his front door so he can quickly "de-gay" his apartment whenever someone not his closest friends comes over. Such as his sister. Who's a lesbian herself, and who you'd think Jason might feel comfortable opening up to.

But no. Jason is in Narnia.

Then he meets Chad, while under the influence of alcohol and Valium. Chad is a coming-out guru who's recently moved back from D.C. and Jason wants to make like a monkey and climb him. And does. Repeatedly.

Except there's that thing about being in Narnia, and while Chad is patient for a while, eventually Jason needs to make up his mind about what's more important - staying in the closet and losing Chad, or joining the rainbow and keeping the love of his life.

With snappy dialogue, tons of humor, snark, and sarcasm, this is a fun and cute and really quick read. But it's not just a romantic comedy, there's some sadness and some angst too, but it's mixed in relatively sparsely and doesn't overpower the romance or the comedy. Well-developed characters, and a fine supporting cast, especially Jason's sister Annie, make this a great book to read during a long lunch break.

Recommended!


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

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review 2017-02-09 02:00
ARC Review: Just Like Cats And Dogs by B.A. Tortuga
Just Like Cats and Dogs (Sanctuary Book 1) - BA Tortuga

It took me a bit of time to warm up to this story, because it felt a little disjointed at the beginning, but then it sucked me right in and I ended up enjoying it quite a bit.

Sam, a feline shifter, was adopted as an orphan by a large family of wolf shifters who are part of an even larger pack. Being a cat, he never really fit in with the wolves, even though his mother tried hard to make him feel welcome. As soon as he could, Sam left the pack and struck out on his own.

Gus, a wolf shifter from the same pack, someone who bullied and tormented Sam when they were younger, can't quite believe it when he runs into Sam again by chance and feels a mating pull toward the cat.

Both Gus and Sam, as well as the rest of the pack, are rather animalistic even as humans, and I really liked that part of this mythology. They growl, they snap, they bite, they play; Sam thinks about tuna a lot (I mean A LOT), which was funny, and Gus was enamored with mostly raw meat and sweet stuff, especially chocolate in all forms.

They both realized early on that they were mates, even if that caused friction because of their different shifter species. Both of them eventually decide that the mating pull is more important and just go for it.

I giggled a lot, especially at the nicknames they have for each other - Puss and Pup. Hard to explain unless you read this book, and then I won't have to explain. I liked how Gus instinctively realized what Sam needed, and how he was hellbent on getting his Puss everything he wanted, even if that came at a cost to himself.

There are obviously struggles, what with the family dynamics for both of them, but they stick together and make it work. And there are some more sinister forces at work too that they have to overcome. Sorry, no spoilers here. You'll just have to read this book yourself.

I had some niggles though. I can excuse the lack of condom use bc they're shifters and thus immune to human diseases, though I would have liked to see it discussed at least. Sam's 17 siblings - only one of them really stood up for him, with the others treating him more like an outcast. Even his sister Helena, though initially on his side, struck out for me eventually. I had some confusion with some of the situations at Sam's loft in NYC, which I can't discuss without giving away a plot point, unfortunately.

Overall, this was a good and engaging story (once I got past the early parts), and I'm interested in checking out the next one in this series when it's available.


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

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