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Hello world!

This blog is all about Romance!  We review books about romance (mostly m/m – but there might be an occasional m/f, f/f, m/m/f, space-alien-babies, what have you).

In addition we are inviting fan fiction, slash fiction, fan-art – anything that moves you to create.

We hope you find something that entertains you or inspires you – Enjoy!

Feel free to email us at openskyebookreviews@gmail.com with any questions or concerns.

Recent Release: In Safe Hands by Victoria Sue

Dreamspinner

Link: https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/searchresults?q=victoria+sue

Blurb: Former helicopter pilot Maverick Delgardo’s injuries ended his Air Force career, leaving him bitter and one drink away from becoming an alcoholic. When his sister asks for his help on a private protection case to babysit a disgraced pop star, Mav reluctantly agrees.
Deacon Daniels, onetime lead singer and idol to his teenage fans, saw his career and reputation ruined when a reporter’s exposé led to a devastating scandal. Without money or a job, a heartbroken Deacon has lost custody of his baby niece. And just when he thinks his life can’t get any worse, a stalker’s threatening messages escalate to murder.
Mav only agreed to one meeting, but his protective instincts kick in, along with an attraction to Deacon. When the body count increases, however, Mav is unsure he is up to the task of protecting Deacon from a killer. But it is too late for Mav to step away, now that he’s lost his heart, and he must find the strength to reassure Deacon and his niece that they are in safe hands no matter the cost.

Review: This is a really good romantic suspense story. I really enjoyed it, especially the fact that I didn’t guess the killer until Mav did.
Mav, ex-military, disabled, bitter and one drink away from becoming an alcoholic – not the most lovable character, right? Wrong – underneath he’s really a good guy who doesn’t know how to handle not being a ‘complete’ man. Once he has a purpose, protecting Deacon, he finds himself. What I liked about his character is that he doesn’t become an ‘Alpha male’ once he gains more confidence – he still worries that he can’t protect Deacon, he worries about dropping Molly; but he does become a stronger person knowing that he can make a difference.
Deacon, he was so nice! I felt bad for all the things that had happened to him, and his horror of a mum! Yikes! But he persevered, didn’t really let life beat him down. He and Mav made a good couple. I enjoyed how their tentative attraction naturally progressed to something more – it’s a sweet romance with none of the cold/hot that could easily be added for ‘tension’. I really appreciated that ☺
The murder/mystery was really good – I liked reading from the murderer’s perspective as well.
Overall, a really good story!

4.5 stars out of 5


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Recent Release: Blue Umbrella Sky by Rick R. Reed

Dreamspinner

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/blue-umbrella-sky-by-rick-r-reed-10315-b

Blurb

Milt Grabaur has left his life, home, and teaching career in Ohio to start anew. The Summer Winds trailer park in Palm Springs, butted up against the San Jacinto mountain range, seems the perfect place to forget the pain of nursing his beloved husband through Alzheimer’s and seeing him off on his final passage.

Billy Blue is a sexy California surfer type who once dreamed of being a singer but now works at Trader Joe’s and lives in his own trailer at Summer Winds. He’s focused on recovery from the alcoholism that put his dreams on hold.

When his new neighbor moves in, Billy falls for the gray-eyed man. His sadness and loneliness awaken something Billy’s never felt before—real love.

When a summer storm and flash flood jeopardize Milt’s home, Billy comes to the rescue, hoping the two men might get better acquainted… and maybe begin a new romance.

But Milt’s devotion to his late husband is strong, and he worries that acting on his attraction will be a betrayal.

Can they lay down their baggage and find out how redemptive love can be?

Review

I was very intrigued by the blurb but sadly this book did nothing for me. I really struggled to finish it. The two main characters are Milt, who’s husband passed away from Alzheimer’s and Billy, a young man struggling with sobriety. Milt has pulled away from all human contact until a flood forces him into Billy’s orbit. The two men have the beginnings of a friendship going on. Billy admits to himself early on that he was intrigued and falling in love with the lonely man. Milt in the other hand doesn’t want to move on from his deceased husband due to a promise he made to him on the sick bed. The ending seemed very rushed. I think if a few extra chapters of more build up were added I would have liked it more. I also found the frequent jumps back in time to be confusing since there was no notice that it had happed.

3 stars of 5


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Recent Release: Rapid Response (Hearts and Health #8) by D.J. Jamison

Good Reads

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/44143237-rapid-response?from_search=true

Blurb

A confused straight guy and a gay hookup artist walk into a bar …

Firefighter Sean Connolly is straight — until one impulsive night changes everything. He tries to dismiss it as a fluke, but when a fire rescue leads him back to the guy who blew his mind, he’s thrown into a chaos of confusion and want. He gives in to curiosity, exploring a new side to himself — not just his attraction to a man, but his desperate need to please.

Paramedic Jace Gillespie is a hookup pro, never letting anyone get too close. When he meets Sean, though, he feels a connection right away. An ill-advised threesome seems to kill a friendship in the making, but when they’re thrown together by work, it doesn’t take long for passion to reignite. Sean calls to something in Jace he never knew was there, and together, they explore a dynamic that fulfills them both.

But as feelings deepen, doubts surface. Sean is in the closet, and Jace struggles to trust his promise that it won’t last forever. With family conflict and his career in the balance, Sean finds it difficult to picture his life without secrecy, but if he doesn’t find a way, he may lose the one person he most wants to please.

Review

This is a really wonderful OFY romance with a delicious dose of the required angst for this trope, but it’s also very moving and filled with deeper emotions. The story is written with D.J. Jamison’s typical sweet and light touch, and has a lot of humor and heartwarming moments in it. Although she doesn’t make it easy for Jace and Sean to find their HEA and there’s sadness and dark times for them to overcome, still it’s always done with a delicate touch and she never errs to the melodramatic side.

There were a couple of cringeworthy moments for our MC’s to endure, that I barely even dared to read, those are so not my cup of tea because I tend to empathize too much with the characters. I could have done without the threesome scene in the beginning, where Jace’s friend, Lena , especially rubbed me the wrong way, both during and after. I found her difficult to like and not at all a good friend to Jace in the aftermath of that particular debacle. Awkward beginnings aside, I really enjoyed Jace and Sean’s story.

I loved the surprising dynamic between Jace and Sean, so refreshing that it’s the built firefighter that longs to give up control. Sean is so giving and caring. I adored him for that. I also loved that he worked so hard to keep his family together and tried to (re-)build bridges for all those he loves. He doesn’t always get it right, however, and some of his decisions were like a train-wreck waiting to happen… the fall-out wasn’t pretty. Jace is every bit as much an intriguing character, longing for love, same as Sean, and discovering new truths about himself as well as their relationship develops.

For those who’ve read the other books in this series, reconnecting with some of the earlier characters will be great fun, but the book can be read as a standalone too.

I very much enjoyed this story. It had an intensity and emotional drive that I really liked.

Number of stars out of 5: 4.5


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Coming soon! Scott (Owatonna U Hockey #2) by R.J. Scott and VL Locey

March 27

Good Reads

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/42108159-scott

Blurb
What happens when you try to fix the past and end up threatening your future?

Scott is struggling. Grieving the loss of his brother, carrying the weight of his father’s expectations, and getting his ass kicked in the rink, he’s in a downward spiral. He needs a solution and fast, but when his steroid use is exposed, he’s close to losing his place at Owatonna and more importantly, on the Eagles Hockey team. Thrown out of his house, with nowhere to go and no future in sight, he only has one choice; agree to mandatory counseling, random drug tests, and get his act together. Only then will he have a chance at normal. Meeting Hayne, a senior connected to the world through his art, is a shock to the system. Moving in with him is his only option, but falling for the shy artist leaves Scott in an impossible situation, and one he can’t escape.

Hayne has always been that quiet, creative kid who sat in the back of class drawing instead of listening to the teacher. A talented artist, the shy and sensitive young man is struggling with the loss of his childhood friend. Seeing his sadness reflected in his usually colorful paintings, he decides to attend grief counseling and meets Scott, a lost soul in desperate need of light and color in his life. Taking in a homeless hockey player certainly was never part of his carefully orchestrated ten-year plan. But now that Scott is in his life, he’s discovering the joy of this man’s loving smile and tender touch is one of the most beautiful palettes on earth.

Review

Ugh.

Sigh.

Sorry.

I loved book one SO MUCH! I love this spin off as a concept. I love the adjustment to YA/NA as far as theme and topics and steam. I love all of it.

Except … this mostly didn’t work for me.

I’m a fan. I’m following the stories including the supplementals and sometimes I was confused about what happened. I think a bit more surrounding the steroid crisis itself would have helped. Then I really wanted to see more of Scott’s recovery rather than hearing about it off page. I also didn’t buy the family turn around – it didn’t feel authentic and though I can totally get behind shiny happy HEAs – it didn’t resonate. These authors aren’t shy about giving us angst and drama – so own it! Let his family continue to be as they are – maybe give us some glimmers of hope? But it felt too cleanly tied up given the amount of fuckery they’d engaged in for the last 4 or so years.

I super loved Hayne’s family and I somehow wanted to know more about them at the beginning. I was having a hell of a time picturing him until the family came to town and gave me a more solid picture.

The evil roommates. I think we needed to either make this more of the story’s central theme or get rid of them. They were a distraction and OTT. (I hope they were OTT – sheesh!) I really wanted Craig to get a lot more smack down then he got as it is. What a Douche Bag!

Finally – I don’t know where these boys are going. I love that Ten et al are able to help them out – but I kinda wanted them to have a more concrete plan of their own.

As it stands we have this sort of mix of “reality” like situation meets total fairy land and it was conflicted and hard to follow at times.

I’m not sure how much of this comes from the 2 authors collaborative efforts or just because the story itself lacked cohesion but I felt it here more than in their other works together.

I’m still a fan and I still can’t wait for Benoit but I was disappointed.

2.75 rounded to 3 stars


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Audiobook: Love You So Special (Love You So Stories #3) by Tara Lain Narrated by Ry Forest

audiobookreview

Dreamspinner

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/love-you-so-special-by-tara-lain-9894-b

Blurb

Can a man’s secret yearnings be revealed in a tank full of fish?

Artie Haynes knows he’s nothing special, with just-your-regular-brown hair, a solid plumber’s job, not much education, and a family that can barely get off the couch. But Artie has quirks—like his love of tropical fish, a landlord who’s a professor of existentialism, a passion for the amazing piano music he hears at a concert hall while he’s fixing the bathrooms—and the fact that he’s never come out as gay and probably never will. But when he’s hired to build a guesthouse for the pianist whose music enchanted him, Artie is swept up into an unimaginable world.

Francois Desmarais may be famous, rich, and revered as one of the world’s great classical composers and pianists, but he’s soothed and challenged by the inquisitive, stalwart, protective man in his back yard. When Francois’s terrible fear of crowds turns into a dangerous plot, Artie can stay in the closet or prove just how special he is.

Review

This was so awesome! The story is very sweet and very touching. I’m not always crazy about Tara’s dialog – her characters sometimes feel really old fashioned in their speech – but it didn’t bother me much with this one. She is really good at giving us the Blue collar meets white collar guy and this one reminded me a lot of her “Knight of Ocean Avenue” – which is one of my favorites!

I loved the music and color imagery as well as the surprising way everyone acted and turned out. It was a bit sugary sweet at the end with Artie’s family – but you know what? I loved it!

The narrator for this is new to me and I wasn’t super impressed. He did ok but his accent wasn’t great and 50% of the dialog is supposed to be French accent.

The non French parts were good – so I’d give him another chance in the future.

It wasn’t a hardship to listen to but I don’t know that he added a lot.

I’d give the story 4.5 stars
Narrator 3 stars

And overall 4 stars – recommended!


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Recent Release: In His Sights by L.A. Bryce

Good Reads

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/43680948-in-his-sights?ac=1&from_search=true

Blurb

Meet two men who need each other’s help but don’t realize it until it’s almost too late.

Noah is gay and terrified someone might find out. So much so that when he was blackmailed with pictures of himself with another man, instead of coming clean, he left his SEAL team without a word.

The other man is openly gay Mason, a former Marine and now part of the FBI’s Joint Terrorist Task force. It takes eight years after their first meeting in the desert for a chance event bring the two men together again. Now Noah must decide if he’s ready to accept who he is or if it’s easier to cut and run. Can they navigate the obstacles in their path to build a relationship? And why does the thought of that scare them more than investigating a group of terrorists?

Review

This book involves Mason, FBI and Noah, a former SEAL. There is an instant attraction. The way Noah struggles with his sexuality is something that some readers can relate to. It was a shame he was blackmailed. His “hot and cold” with Mason was frustrating, but understandable. Mason lives with guilt for not being able to catch the people responsible for terrorist attacks that affects him personally. The two meet in a bar, had seen each other briefly years ago, and grew close. The book has humor, mystery, action, and some steamy mm scenes. Both go through a lot in the book. It’s not a cutesy and sweet romance, there’s many aspects to the book. Some surprises packed in the book also. Highly enjoyed reading.

Number of stars out of 5

4.5


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Recent Release: Dirty Laundry (#3 Tucker Springs series – 2nd edition) by Heidi Cullinan

Dreamspinner

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/dirty-laundry-by-heidi-cullinan-10335-b

Blurb

Sometimes you have to get dirty to come clean.
When muscle-bound Denver Rogers effortlessly dispatches the frat boys harassing grad student Adam Ellery at the Tucker Springs laundromat, Adam’s thank-you turns into impromptu sex over the laundry table. The problem comes when they exchange numbers. What if Adam wants to meet again and discovers Denver is a high-school dropout with a learning disability who works as a bouncer at a local gay bar? Or what if Denver calls Adam only to learn while he might be brilliant in the lab, outside of it he has crippling social anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder?
Either way, neither of them can shake the memory of their laundromat encounter. Despite their fears of what the other might think, they can only remember how good the other one feels. The more they get together, the kinkier things become. They’re both a little bent, but in just the right ways.
Maybe the secret to staying together isn’t to keep things clean and proper. Maybe it’s best to keep their laundry just a little bit dirty.

Review

I always love an outwardly tough and physically imposing hero who then turns out to be a gentle giant, caring and kind. Even better if they have a vulnerable side and insecurities to bring into that mix. So needless to say, Denver swept me off my feet as easily as he did Adam.

Heidi Cullinan did an amazing job writing with so much insight and sensitivity about Adam’s mental health issues and his struggle to cope with his OCD and to find the right people to help him do so. The panic attacks, the anxiety and worries that constantly plague Adam were all described very convincingly and I constantly felt myself tense up right alongside Adam. One of the things that struck me most was the metaphor of the horses for his OCD. I was so happy for him when he managed to grasp control of the reins for a while.

Denver and Adam are the sweetest couple, even when they’re being surprisingly kinky. There’s always an element of care or gentleness in their interactions with each other, even when things get intense physically. Which they do, these two have amazing chemistry!

There are a some hurdles to overcome, of course, because true love doesn’t normally come easy, not in romance novels nor in real life. There’s quite some angst (yay!) in this story, because Adam and Denver both have hang-ups to overcome, but they help each other get there. With a little help from friends as well.

The secondary characters were well-written, the good ones and the other one (maybe he was just a tad too awful though). I loved Louisa especially, she’s such a good friend to Adam, loyal and wise. The scene where she takes Denver to task was incredible!

I very much enjoyed this story, it’s one of my favorite books by this author.

m/m – contemporary – opposites attract – hurt/comfort – mental health – angst – nerd/cowboy – bdsm

Number of stars out of 5: 4


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Recent Release: Redeem by Christina Lee

Good Reads

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/44152554-redeem?from_search=true

Blurb
Successful financial analyst Michael Walsh leads a picture-perfect life that anyone would envy—unless they caught a glimpse beneath the surface. Haunted by failed relationships and self-doubt, Michael harbors a soul-deep loneliness that no number of casual hookups can fulfill. So why can’t he stop thinking about his New Year’s fling with a man whose quiet desperation matched his own?

Barista Stewart Jenkins has an abysmal track record with relationships, and no matter how hard he tries to keep things tightly under wraps, his life is spinning out of control. His hookup with the gorgeous Michael was only supposed to be sex—hot, dirty, uncomplicated—but that small taste leaves him yearning for more.

Every no-strings encounter that follows between Michael and Stewart peels away more layers, blurring the lines, until they’re left with a raw tenderness and acceptance they both crave. A relationship seems out of the question—they come from drastically different lives and are plagued by inexcusable sins. Being vulnerable is sure to reveal old wounds, and forgiveness seems out of reach, unless they can find a way around their fears on the road to redemption.

Review
Both Michael and Stewart have both come out of relationships they have tried to cling on to. Both of them have been painted as the bad guys. It during this period of acceptance and introspection that they meet each other and the penny drops. They know of each other through their former partners. Small world. Both of them are carrying a lot of baggage and resist getting involved with anyone again. They are so drawn to each other that they dance around admitting that they want anything more than to hook up. Both of them grow so much during this story that it’s a captivating read. They are getting together at the right point for both of them, they are now receptive to understanding where things have gone wrong in the past and do not want to make the same mistakes again. Even though they don’t quite want to open up to each other in the bedroom Stewart and Michael are so hot together, phew what chemistry.
Although this book can be read as a stand alone I personally think you get a deeper understanding of exactly how far both of them have come if you’ve read, or listened, to the previous two books. West (Jonas) relationship with Tristan is in Reawaken and Elijah and Kam’s story is in Reclaim.

5 of stars out of 5



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Recent Release: Exploring Limits by Nicki Bennett and Ariel Tachna

Dreamspinner
https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/exploring-limits-by-nicki-bennett-and-ariel-tachna-10299-

Blurb

We could always share him….

After failing to capture the attention of their bicurious costar singlehandedly, Kit and Devon team up to seduce Jonathan, who plays King Arthur in the new miniseries Camelot.

The chemistry between the three actors is off the charts, and it brings out the adventurous side in all of them. Things heat up in the bedroom as the trio explores the pleasures of dominance, submission, bondage, toys, and anything else they can find to get the most out of their secret time together.

But a gay ménage presents problems without easy solutions—especially as they work closely together on set. For their threesome to survive and evolve into a true committed relationship, they’ll all have to test their physical and emotional limits.

This volume includes newly edited and expanded versions of the novellas:
Exploring Limits
Stretching Limits
Refining Limits

Review
I read these books along time ago when they were three separate books and I wanted to see if they tightened them up by putting them in two volumes. As I remembered it was a case of what felt lightning quick into very hot scenes. From this the physical attraction was evident but how was the relationship side between Kit, Devon and Jonathan going to be developed? Especially as Jonathan was supposedly straight, not even questioning. During these scenes they get to know each other in the context of what turns each of them on, rules of play, toys, role play etc but the book feels and reads like a series of hookups. I went in looking for more because as hot as it sounds I don’t think I can cope with 300 plus pages of sex. The pace changed about half way through when more BDSM comes into the picture but there’s still more sex than story.

I finished the book but It was slow going for me but that’s just my tastes it could very well work for you. I hope that the relationship side comes more to the front in the second book

2 of stars out of 5


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Recently Released: Skin and Bone by TA Moore

Dreamspinner: https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/skin-and-bone-by-ta-moore-10259-b

Blurb: Digging Up Bones: Book Two

Cloister Witte and his K-9 partner, Bourneville, find the lost and bring them home.
But the job doesn’t always end there.

Janet Morrow, a young trans woman, lies in a coma after wandering away from her car during a storm. But just because Cloister found the young tourist doesn’t mean she’s home. What brought her to Plenty, California… and who didn’t want her to leave?
With the help of Special Agent Javi Merlo, who continues to deny his growing feelings for the rough-edged deputy, Cloister unearths a ten-year-old conspiracy of silence that taps into Plenty’s history of corruption.
Janet Morrow’s old secrets aren’t the only ones coming to light. Javi has tried to put his past behind him, but some people seem determined to pull his skeletons out of the closet. His dark history with a senior agent in Phoenix complicates not just the investigation but his relationship with Cloister.

And since when has he cared about that?

Review: A really good follow up to Bone to Pick!
Cloister and Javi are still dancing around the relationship they started in book 1; both men have baggage that they seem unable to fully unload. Their relationship is slowly morphing into something more than monogamous hookups – they just have to work on their trust issues, among other things.
The mystery is solid (really good) – I wasn’t able to figure out the perp until the end ☺ And let’s not forget Bourneville – she is as much a part of the story and probably Cloister’s only friend (until Javi can admit he’s falling for him 😉 )
The mystery is solved, but there is the unfinished business of the romance –they get another HFN. I’m looking forward to seeing both men get their HEA.

Definitely recommend this sequel.

4 stars out of 5


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