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review 2017-05-26 06:27
Age gap yum yum!
At Attention (Out of Uniform #2) - Annabeth Albert
  • A Group Unicorn Review with Adam and Cupcake

    FOUR HEARTS--I've seen this author's work, perused the blurbs and I didn't bite.

    But this blurb was the prettiest show pony with SRAL approved buzz words and themes:

    widower still grieving after partner's passing (bring on the pain)
    widower has kidlets AND needs a manny
    manny is the widower's best friend's little brother
    best friend's brother has had a crush on widower since his teens


    Of course, I lassoed the hell out of this book and gobbled all the words.

    Being as it's my first Annabeth Albert read, I'm not sure how it rates on the Annabeth Albert scale. If this was very on her A-game or there's better? *shrugs*

    I was entertained and had a great time reading At Attention.

    23 year-old Dylan gets a chance of his lifetime when his unrequited crush hires and moves him in his San Diego home for the summer. Dylan's crush, 34 year old Apollo needs a nanny to take care of his adorable 4 year old twins whole Apollo works on a naval base. This book can be read as a standalone, I wasn't lost. And I'm curious about the previous and future pairings.

    Dylan tries to tamp down his lusty feelings as Apollo works through his grief. Two years has passed but there is no time limit on grieving. And Apollo is a grumpy, more reserved bundle of emotions. He would take time to start to contemplate having feelings for another man. Luckily, Apollo's libido isn't broken. And try as he might, he can't deny the easiness he has with Dylan. The camaraderie and sharing his daily worries of being a single parent added more base to their friendship foundation formed with Dylan was just a teen.

    The story is a good mix of nerdy, adorable, (lightly) angsty, sexy and sweet. Dylan can't stop his feelings from blooming once again. Apollo sees his friend's kid brother in a new light, an adult. They try going the friendship route on equal terms, but their bodies won't be denied.

    The sex in this book?

    The sex was...hot. If I had to give it a flavor, it's hot vanilla custard. Sweet, varied and with a hint of spice. (highlights: intercrural (yay!), frottage, light domination/ control a smidge of exhibition) There is mirror sex but, it could've been hotter in my opinion. I might have been spoiled by a hotter mirror scene in another NA series I've read.

    The grieving and the time given for Apollo to work through his process was more important factor for me. Apollo plays hot and cold. The ghost of his lover is one he surrounds himself with daily and it's hard to break through. Dylan makes him crack through the shell. Plus, he's possessive and doesn't want any other guy getting Dylan's time. He wants it all to his self. That was bonus characteristics that I enjoy. The possessiveness and the control in the bedroom (of course).

    The best bonus of all? Dylan wasn't a pushover. And he spoke his mind even if might hurt, be it himself or Apollo. I'm #teamDylan all day!

    This story was really good. Not Earth shattering, or extremely memorable. For all themes it had going on, it worked. The writing is easy to read, all of the characters are likeable. All of them from kids to grandmas. I really liked how it ended, well maybe before the fluffed ending. It was added sugar I could have done without. But HEA lovers will totes lurve it.

    This couple totally worked for me and I see them having a long loving future ahead of them.

    Recommended for readers who enjoy contemporary, like the tropes I listed and wallow in second chance romance.

    Come join me as I ride my pretty pony into the sunset.

    #NoRegrets #teamDylan

    A copy provided via Netgalley for an honest review.
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review 2016-10-09 06:54
Pardon me, is that a Pretty Woman-esque Romance in your pocket?
Rented Heart - Garrett Leigh

It's an international unicorn gang bang review with Sheziss and Adam!

4.5 HEARTS--

"Am I your only client tonight?"
"Client?" Zac regarded Liam through a haze of smoke. "This ain't Pretty Woman, mate."

 Oh, but it was.

First things first, I haven't read a Garret Leigh before this, so I don't know what the standard or normal quality is. Consider this a virgin review, you dig? (Just about the only thing virgin in here. I kid. I kid.) Leigh is another author I've been meaning to read and it takes a review book to finally pop the cherry.

But the blurb was a SRAL magnet mathematics equation:

1 grieving widower (I want to lick your sweet tears)
1 rent boy (I swear a trombone plays every time rent boy is mentioned around me)
Damaged, lonely men = SRAL jackpot!

Garrett Leigh did a great job telling a story that wasn't as dark as I originally thought it would be. Instead, it wasangstyish, no way minimizing real life situations. But it had the rent boy romance fairy tale effect going on here something fierce.

Zac, the 23 year old hooker reminded me a lot of this pic:

He's been through so much through his young life, and yet he still keeps going. Liam was supposed be an attractive john, wank fodder to push Zac through his dark days. From day one the two men have enough chemistry to light up the Eiffel Tower.

To read their business/sexual relationship progress into a meaningful one a great read.

Granted, the erotic part was scorching as hell.

"Instead Zac found himself rushing to obey his gentle commands, every instinct screaming at him to make Liam happy because pleasing Liam did amazing this to Zac's heart.
That, and he had a feeling Liam was going to fuck his brains out and he couldn't bloody wait."

There is a lot of sex. (It's a story featuring a sex worker, the reader is taken along to the aftermath of some johns) But I never got tired nor did I think it was too much for the story.

Zac and Liam try to deny each other but that electricity they share can't be denied for long. The way Zac would understand Liam's loneliness added nice touches to the story. Do I wish the couple spent more time together? Yes. But for some reason, it worked for them.

I liked Liam. He was white knight all the way and I was swept up in the fantasy of him, even if he was a surfer (I'm not into them, sorry surfer lovers). I really liked Zac. I liked his tenaciousness, even if I don't think he thinks he is. That spirit that overcomes drug addiction, survived a crap life in the system and streets...he's a wonderfully flawed character.

There were a very few twists that slowly unfurled toward the end, some that I did not see coming. Some parts were a little predictable: the fairy tale ending and way everything is neatly wrapped up in a bow. Jamie made for a good secondary character. I hope the author revisits and shares more info about him in his own starring book. The Brit slang and ease of tone proved the author has a deft hand with writing. The way it didn't get into heavy melodrama, instead letting the main men and their lives lead the direction of the book proved it to me. It wasn't the most remarkable rent boy romance I've ever read, (it's 2016 and rent boy has been done to death though I never tire of it). But it was a solid rent boy romance.

And a rent boy romance wearing the Pretty Woman swirl and a happy ending (no matter how much the story tries to deny it) always makes me stops in my tracks.

The story is a solid 4 Hearts. The fact that I can't seem to stop thinking about the main characters days after finishing? It deserves an extra half heart. I definitely won't wait too long to read another Garrett Leigh.

A copy provided via Netgalley for an honest review.

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review 2016-06-08 05:35
Kleypas historical is my happ place...
Cold-Hearted Rake - Lisa Kleypas

Before Reading : I am living for this book.

I am all about it.

All of it.


After Reading :

My 1500th GR read (TBH, I know I passed this number but with deleted fan fics, not logging all my previous GR reads, etc. the number's off)

Whatevs. Celebratory AC Slater:

(spoiler show)

4.5 Stars--It's been proven I'm a Lisa Kleypas fan.

So much so, I figured I'd give it time before trying her new historical after her years long break. I read her contemporary return Brown-Eyed Girl earlier this year and I could tell, it wasn't up to snuff. Close but no cigar.

But with Cold-Hearted Rake, the first of the Ravenel series...

I guess she was saving her magic for her historical.

"It's a sin."
"How do you know?"
"Because it feels like one," she managed to say.
He laughed quietly and pulled her hips farther toward him with a decisiveness that drew a little yelp from her.
"In that case...I never sin by half measures."

The Ravenel family as the magic like another famous LK family, maybe you've heard of them? They go by the name Hathaway. Every damn character in this book was just a joy to read, even the ones who were maddening, especially the ones who were brooding.

Kleypas hit a couple of tried tropes and she made it delicious to read. Kathleen, ginger haired Countess Trenear is a widow only after three days of marriage. The dead earl's cousin and now new earl, Devon is known to be a rake of the first degree. He and his rakehell brother, Weston inherit a massive debt, crumbling estate with a widow and their three female cousins (the former earl's sisters) and about two hundred tenants that are in desperate need. Devon did not ask for responsibility and he certainly doesn't want it in the tiny form of Kathleen.

Kathleen is a tiny force to be reckoned with. Her and Devon do not start on the right foot. In fact, they were combustible from jump. But you know what they say, it's a thin line between love and hate. All their arguments were just precursors to falling in love, flirtations if you will.

"You took Theo's title and his home," West continued in appalled disbelief, "and now you want his wife."
"His widow," Devon muttered.
"Have you seduced her?"
"Not yet."
West clapped his hand to his forehead. "Christ. Don't you think she's suffered enough?"

Devon and Kathleen write angry letters while Devon tries to fix the damn estate he didn't want. His drunk of a brother, West along with the rest of the Ravenels provide comedic relief and keep the momentum going. West, with his redeemed rake angle was just too awesome. He had some of the best lines!

"Has anyone been corrupted or defiled?"
"Since the age of twelve," West said.
"I wasn't asking you, I was asking the girls."
"Not yet," Cassandra replied cheerfully.

Lady Helen, serene, quiet and unassuming...I know still waters run deep. Can't wait to read her book. Marrying Winterborne See who she's paired with?

The twins! They are infuriatingly adorable with their antics - Ladies Cassandra and Pandora.

Devil in Spring Sebastian and Evie's SON

(spoiler show)

All of the Ravenel magic was mixed in the stubborn-enemies falling in love.

Good God, were Devon and Kathleen hard-headed. First it wasn't kicking the ghost of Theo out of the way, then it was them figuring out their fighting was because they had chemistry - though Devon was away in London for periods of time. I felt like his presence was still there in Hampshire with the girls. Add in a near death experience to slowly turn Devon's head in the right direction:

Brooding over the past wouldn't change the fact that Kathleen had belonged to Theo first.
But she would belong to Devon last.

And when they got together?


Tropey but I could care less.

“Time is what I'm giving you," he said, staring down at her. His hand curved beneath her chin, compelling her to look at him. "There's only one way for me to prove that I will love you and be faithful to you for the rest of my life. And that's by loving you and being faithful to you for the rest of my life. Even if you don't want me. Even if you choose not to be with me. I'm giving you all the time I have left. I vow to you that from this moment on, I will never touch another woman, or give my heart to anyone but you. If I have to wait sixty years, not a minute will have been wasted--because I'll have spent all of them loving you.”

Because Kleypas can trope with the best of them in my opinion.

So Kathleen was a ball buster and her pigheadedness got in the way at times. Didn't care.
So Devon wasn't as cold-hearted as the title suggests. Didn't care.

The reader could see they were meant to be together before they finally realized it. And these two crazy kids make their path to love entertaining to read.

There was a little OTT-ness in the last 15% or so but if made the story move. I'm for it.

As for The Ravenels #2: Marrying Winterborne, starring that broody, asshole-ish Welsh hero?

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review 2016-06-08 05:30
It's been some time since I've read a book of this caliber...
A Year Less Three Days - Mychael Black,Alyx J. Shaw

How to describe to describe "A Year Less Three Days" by authors Alyx J. Shaw and Mychael Black:




If I could individually list all of "A Year Less Three Days" missteps, this review would possibly as long as the novella, because I honestly don't know where to begin. It was circling the 1 Heart rating from 20%, but I tend to give books a chance, maybe the plot turns in a different direction, etc


Not so with this book.


In fact, each chapter got progressively worse which is a feat in itself. It was like reading a 'What Not to Put in a Romance' how-to-guide. I have so many quotes and plot holes highlighted...*sigh* This will probably be a spoiler-y review.



What I got from the blurb: a heterosexual woodman (Lias)'s wife is presumed kidnapped and while searching for her, he is kidnapped into slavery. He he is tortured for a period of time and saved by a new Master, a knight who made a deal with a devil. Somehow master and slave, both damaged men, find a way to love one another. A romance.


What this story actually delivered: A mess of the plot. At different points, you can read the authors coming up with extraneous tidbits and plot devices with no explanation as the story moved along. Crazy things such as a wizard who is stuck as a creature, a horse who plays chess or another horse that can climb stairs, open doors and curl in bed like a dog, demons and special demon knights, a knight of some special order with no explanation, a mage that heals strangers by just knowing, a straight man who is raped and tortured but seems to have no PTSD, an adamantly straight man who by the grace of two conversations with different strangers automatically is gay when his homosexual master tells him he wants to bed him...oh while both are deathly ill...so they can have sex.


Find the plot in this mess.



While the blurb mentions two triggers, here are the additional warnings the book did not give:

- Cannibalism

- Major Character Death


I'm a reader whose limits are pretty open, but not every reader would read a story with those two warnings attached. Or are they supposed to be lumped under the "violence" warning?


Necromis is the master and knight of the white bear in a fantasy land where demons exist. He made a deal with a demon to make an abused, tortured straight slave fall in love with his master. Lias is the fifth slave to enter Necromis's mansion/castle (the dwelling types switched a few times) Lias is saved, but never shows he was traumatized or abused. And hates his master, he fights his master and looks down on Necromis being gay.


Necromis doesn't care because he's the prettiest (no lie) knight in the land, the meanest mean girl knight with long silvery hair down to the floor. Necromis likes to belittle those he deems beneath him (there was an equivalent to a "you can't sit with us" scene), takes his anger out on Lias by nearly killing him and then somehow falls in love. Without showing the reader how it happened. The instalove doesn't stop there, Lias gets told by two strangers that he should love Necromis and he gathers that he should just do it in gratitude for Necromis finding his children...that Lias figured out on his own.




I think a horror fairytale themed romance is what the authors were trying to convey. And there were one or two scenes where it got spooky, but the plot holes and wacky random ideas made the read ridiculous and took away from any semblance to a plot. The best thing going for the book is the cover- though it implies both men are equals and for the majority of the book, Lias is not. He's scarred, whipped and chained more than not...so it's not accurate.


Since I can't cover all of the problems with this book, I'll try to summarize the main areas with a few examples.


The Plot (or lack thereof) - to say it was rushed is the least of this story's problems. There were so many random things added to the tale, that it made no sense.  Lias was remarried and lost his wife, who he loved. I get the plot was supposed to entice the 'make a straight man gay' theme, since it was stressed, Necromis would need to get a straight slave to end his curse. But there was no effort into trying to show either man falling in love. It goes from I hate you--I'm dying-okay, I'll fuck you because someone told me to--and fuck me too while you're at it, because butt sex will cement a relationship that literally started at 70%. Since the previous 70% was filled with the horse farts and many side characters that added nothing to the weak plot.



What was up with all the horse farts? Every other page would have a description of someone or something farting. If it was supposed to be funny, the timing is way off. And if this was supposed to be a parody...it should have been clear. I can't see this story as something serious.


The Plot Holes - they were abundant, they overtook the story.


Filled with ass gas? Maybe?


Here are a few:


- Since the story tried to jam in an entire novella's worth of sex in roughly 20%, it seemed that the men didn't spend enough time together previously to know how the "exact way" Necromis would want to be stroked off during their first hand job scene.


Too vague?


- How about Necromis making a deal with Bonecracker, the big bad demon in this story to be rich enough to buy his original love...and becomes a white bear knight. Does being a knight automatically mean you're rich? I'm guessing not if there weren't as many rich knights? Is there a parallel the reader should just assume?



- It's told that Lias comes from a modest section of the country, where nakedness is kept behind closed doors. He even reacts to Necromis's exhibitionist side negatively. How is it that Lias's comfortable to be naked and fondling another naked man in front of his children? And his children from the same part of the land don't react to the nakedness? They're cool about it? No hiding their faces? No reaction?

Here's a better question: why wouldn't the adults cover up in front of the children? Is their fucking that important? Must everyone see their big ol' dicks?


- The tortured, abused, raped slave has no problems with having sex, gay sex at that. In fact, he can deep throat without an issue.



I won't even touch the actual penis sorcery performed to make an already humongous dick into tree trunk proportions. Because sex can't make up for the lack of development which leads to...


The Characters - they were as dimensional as a pocket of air. No explanation as to what the knights did. Necromis is a knight of a white bear. What does that mean? Someone was a knight of a boar. Why are animals being thrown out without explanations? These "knights" were worse than children. All of the adults read like sulky, bratty teens. We have the head knight telling any one how beautiful he was with his long silver hair to the floor, which makes no sense in battle to me, but I guess makes sense in this world. The characters just like the plot holes and plot were random and flat. Any emotion couldn't and wasn't shown, just told. Lias kept talking about how uneducated and straight he was. I guess to hype up the GFY/ slave angle. If written differently, he could deliver more than that. There was promise in the beginning but the poor writing style ruined any chance of the promise being realized. More yelling at the slave, threatening him and treating him like an animal rather than talking to him. It just was a big...horse fart bubble.


The Writing Style - All telling and junior high school telling at thatt with nothing shown. I will give the story something, it read like one voice rather than two, so at least the tones melded. But the story couldn't stick to one lane - horror, erotica, a mystery, paranormal, fantasy. It's not like it couldn't be done - I've read it written in more competent hands.



I had an imaginary red pen going through just about every paragraph and was left too many questions. Simple questions could have easily shaved this novella in half - did this add to the story? No? Then, it's a throwaway.


An example:

"It is as my mistress says, men who favor other men are all romance and foolishness."

Why this quote was even used in a gay romance novel when it adds nothing to the plot or overall story? It was said by a tertiary character who basically had one scene and did nothing for the plot.


This was a throwaway scene and character. Not needed and inflammatory for no good reason.


I've read one of the authors in this pairing in the past and enjoyed. But this...was a mess all around. I don't know if it was a first draft? The lowest that I can rate on Netgalley is one and I feel it's still too high. It's memorable for all the wrong reasons. The romance is dumped the moment the former slave who said he will never fall in love with another man other than Necromis...does the opposite and falls for another man after his lover dies.


Not recommended to anyone I know who can read.



Maybe not even non-readers either.


A copy provided via Netgalley for an honest review.


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review 2016-04-09 23:14
Age gap and office romance set in the Scottish Highlands
Taste in Men - Douglas Black

3.5 Hearts--When I see a new Douglas Black, I barely read the blurbs in my excitement before adding it to my TBR pile. I know that simple yet complex characters and intense situations are on menu.

With the Scottish Highlands as the main setting, "Taste in Men" is an sexual tension filled story about Taylor, an IT employee who is one foot out of the door at his company and Charles, the older silverfox head of the company. Taylor worked for the company since he was eighteen and all the hard work finally paid off with a big lucrative deal. He can finally leave the company where his technology skills were under appreciated. Down to his final two weeks at Webb, sadly, Taylor has to participate in a company team building weekend in the Scottish wilderness.

At 24 years old and carrying the baggage of a crappy childhood, Taylor is closed off, private and likes it that way. Imagine his surprise, when he feels an instant attraction to a man who doesn't fit his type of: barely legal, blonde and in the twink category. Charles is taller, older and broader than Taylor and he can't keep his eyes off the man. The sexual tension was delicious to read, I didn't expect any less from the author.

But I must say, this book isn't going to be for every reader. I think readers who don't mind contrary characters could give this a chance.

Taylor...he's interesting. I actually think Taylor has mental health concerns and undiagnosed disorders. He's antisocial but there more's to just being antisocial when it comes to Taylor. He's compulsive in his need to "not be tied down", to the point of touching slightly neurotic. And possibly on the spectrum with some of his habits displayed. He's so adamant about not being tied down, he won't buy the simplest things, though he has the coins to back it up. And his word vomit, some times it could grates the nerves.

It's perplexing at points. And Charles gets overshadowed with his baggage (loss of family) by Taylor's...uniqueness. He might be odd for some people, but there's something about his damage that made it an interesting read. I do wish it wasn't a singular POV (Taylor's). I think Charles was an equally interesting character if given a chance. His addition could be seen as telling since the reader misses out on his experience since meeting Taylor.

While the story has tension filled undertone, it wasn't saturated with abundant sex. There was outdoor sex! And a few thwarted occurrences just when the sexy times was imminent. You could just feel those blue balls for the men.

But with some good things, there were parts that weren't as solid.

Things not as strong:

There were weird loose ends, like Ray - was he interested or not? What's his deal? At times he seemed jealous, other supportive. And then as we got to the end, he just disappeared.

The epilogue was cool until the final paragraph (okay maybe 3-4 paragraphs) It was a weird spot. The growth great, but the dialogue got a little wonky. Something was a little off with the HEA feeling.

And the biggest one for me was missing out on the personal growth from Taylor. I wish there was more chances to read the interim parts of him trying to become a functioning adult with the one thing he didn't like, before skipping ahead in time.

Other than those things, the story is readable. Sexy, a little sad in parts, a little funny in others, a quick romance that I think would last. Just wish there was more elaboration in the less stronger bits.

Not my favorite for Douglas Black, "Port in a Storm", but not bad at all.

Recommended for readers who like age gaps, characters who don't emote out loud very well and sexy times outdoors.

A copy provided for an honest review.

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