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4 stars adult - 18+ Angst Level Audiobook Book Contemporary Dreamspinner Exploration Geek/Jock GFY/OFY Heat Index Hidden Lovers Homophobia Hopelessly Crying Hurt/Abuse Hurt/comfort m/m Mid level steam/heat Morgan New Adult Novel 140 pgs + (80K + words) second chance at love Teacher Virgin

Big Love Audiobook by Rick R Reed Narrated by Michael Pauley

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Dreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/big-love-by-rick-r-reed-7411-b

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Teacher Dane Bernard is a gentle giant, loved by all at Summitville High School. He has a beautiful wife, two kids, and an easy rapport with staff and students alike. But Dane has a secret, one he expects to keep hidden for the rest of his life – he’s gay.
But when he loses his wife, Dane finally confronts his attraction to men. And a new teacher, Seth Wolcott, immediately catches his eye. Seth himself is starting over, licking his wounds from a breakup. The last thing Seth wants is another relationship, but when he spies Dane on his first day at Summitville High, his attraction is immediate and electric.
As the two men enter into a dance of discovery and new love, they’re called upon to come to the aid of bullied gay student Truman Reid. Truman is out and proud, which not everyone at his small-town high school approves of. As the two men work to help Truman ignore the bullies and love himself without reservation, they all learn life-changing lessons about coming out, coming to terms, acceptance, heartbreak, and falling in love.

Review
(Previously Reviewed Here)

(Contains spoilers)

Dane is a teacher who is married to a woman and has two teenaged children. He knows he’s gay but has never acted on the fact as he and his wife got married out of college but were high school sweet-hearts.

When his wife dies suddenly, in a car wreck, he feels this release and the need to “be himself” so he tells his children he’s gay and has been hiding it all these years.

The very next day, one of his students attempts suicide for being bullied about being gay and Dane confesses to the entire school that he, too, is gay to show support to the student, Truman.

Seth is a new teacher in Dane’s department and he had developed a crush on Dane before he knew he was gay. He helps Dane help Truman and Truman’s mom during the time surrounding Truman’s suicide attempt. This allows him and Dane to get closer and explore their feelings for one another.

**

I have so many divided feelings about this book.

What I liked/loved:
Truman- he’s a great character and I loved the message that his story tells (Be yourself, no matter the cost!) I loved his little side romance and the ex, too.
The way it was told. I liked the alternating POVs. I felt like each man had their own growing and changing to do, and seeing the world through each of their eyes allowed them to all have a representative chunk of the story that was theirs and theirs alone. It felt really complete that way.
Truman’s mom – she was THE BOMB! I loved how she always knew that simply loving Truman was her best bet even if it might not always be enough.
Dane’s son- he was so supportive and yet a realistic teenager in that he didn’t go OTT to help out, just quietly supported his dad.

What didn’t work for me:
Dane – Is he gay or bi or demi? He says he really loved his wife, but yet never felt complete? I didn’t always understand his character. I really didn’t understand how he just blurted things out to his kids, the school, etcetera – without expecting major blow-back – and I would think being in the closet for all your life and just losing your wife – you might waffle a bit more than 6 months…
Seth and Dane – their relationship felt from out in left field. They barely knew each other, then their having sex, then they’re saying I love yous… it felt awkward in the grand scheme of things and really unfulfilling.
Truman – sometimes he acted in ways that felt older than his age – but that could be a function of his situation…
Coming out – I really felt like Dane would have had more issues coming out than he did.
Dane’s daughter – I never understood what her deal was and why Dane was virtually ignoring her eating disorder, letting her run around without permission and allowing her to treat him so badly…this bothered me a lot.

So… the book absolutely kept my attention – Rick Reed is a great writer and he knows how to draw you into a story – but there were several areas that just felt… imperfect to me. I liked it and was glad to have read it, but I had some high hopes that weren’t met.

3 of 5 stars

Audio

Michael Pauley did a really nice job with this. I liked his version of Dean and thought he created nice distinctions between all the characters pretty well. I think this was a great way to experience this story and I enjoyed listening to it.

Overall 4 of 5 stars

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Copy Generously Provided by Publisher for Honest Review

Categories
3.5 stars adult - 18+ Angst Level Audiobook Book College/University coming of age Contemporary DA Dreamspinner Enemies to Lovers Gay Heat Index Hopelessly Crying Hurt/comfort m/m Mid level steam/heat Morgan Novel 140 pgs + (80K + words) second chance at love Teacher

Pawsitively in Love Audiobook by MJ O’Shea Narrated by Marc Schindler

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Dreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/pawsitively-in-love-by-mj-oshea-7454-b

 

514cyOaFvKL._SL300_Blurb

What Austin Lloyd lacks in academics, he makes up for in his love of the animals who frequent his pet salon. He’s not lucky in romance, though, and his family would like him to settle down with a good man. Austin—and his golden retriever, Maggie—couldn’t agree more.

Evan Partridge isn’t good at letting people in. His messy family life and the past that’s shaped him aren’t worth bringing up. But his pug, Dexter, sure likes the pet salon owner.

Austin and Evan get off to a rough start, but being friends soon turns into something more. Unfortunately, Evan’s secretive behavior nearly does the relationship in, and the budding love affair almost crashes and burns when Evan’s troubled sister shows up on his doorstep.

Not speaking to each other is killing them both, but Evan doesn’t know how to keep Austin and help his sister at the same time. He just knows he has to try. Winning back Austin’s trust back, however, is going to take a whole lot of work.

 

Review

Austin is an adorable Pet Salon owner who ends up making a horrible first impression on the buttoned-up professor, Evan.

With some well stated apologies the two agree to be friends and a fun and fast friendship develops with a side-dose of flirting.

Everyone loves Evan and Austin together, but Evan balks due to his past.

Eventually, Evan’s attraction for Austin can’t be denied and he gives in and life is wonderful for a few short weeks… then disaster strikes in the form of his sister. Can their fledgling relationship withstand all the ghosts of Evan’s past?

**

Man I loved the first 80% of this book SO MUCH! I was a little annoyed with Evan and his contradictory attitude about Austin – he gave so many mixed signals!- but when Austin calls him out on it – he reacted like a normal, good guy and voila I was over it!

The secondary characters are wonderful, the dogs were super cute and mostly I was diggin’ the hell out this until the sister came in.

I’m just not sure what the point was of adding in that layer of stress to their relationship. It felt unfinished and not nearly as polished as the rest of the story. The ending absolutely fizzled for me. It was definitely rushed and left me with a not very good feeling for our guys.

Maybe there’s a sequel? Some closure for both Evan and Austin as well as some really needed help for Della?

Anyway, the last 20% took this from a 5 star read to a 3 star. It was good, but it coulda been great.

 

Audio

I really liked the sample of this narrator I wasn’t disappointed after listening to the entire book. Marc Schindler had good pacing and intonation. He did a nice job with the emotion, was easy to listen to and there weren’t many sound errors. He doesn’t do any different voices or accents – and that would have added a bit to the story-  but it was always easy to know who was speaking. I think this contributed to my overall enjoyment and is a good way to experience this story.

4 of 5 stars

Overall 3.5 of 5 stars

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Copy Generously Provided by Publisher for Honest Review