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adult - 18+ Book DA Dreamspinner Gay Heat Index Mild/low level heat Morgan no rating Novel 140 pgs + (80K + words)

Bankers’ Hours by Wade Kelly

release day review

 

Dreamspinner Presents

http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=7556

29225470Blurb

 

Even though bankers’ hours leave long weekends for romance, cosmic intervention is Grant’s only option when money doesn’t buy happiness and he’s got virginity in spades.

Grant Adams is a twenty-six-year-old bank teller who’s unlucky at love, yet hopelessly hopeful. After years of horrific first dates, he’s convinced he’s saving himself for true love. Surely he has bad taste in men because it couldn’t possibly be his persnickety nature that’s sent them packing.

Tristan Carr has been in a holding pattern since his daughter was born fifteen years ago, which suits his workaholic lifestyle just fine. This ex-Navy turned auto mechanic never wanted anyone interfering with being a weekend dad. For Tristan to rearrange his perfectly orchestrated life, a guy will need to be special. Or in the case of the newest employee at his bank, the guy will need to be adorable, shy, and open to the prospect of forever when it shows up at his window.

Review

So…. I really admire Wade Kelly and have enjoyed her other works tremendously. I think I’ve read most of them with the exception of “Misplaced Affection” which she warned me was “really angsty”. I thought the blurb for this sounded hysterical and I know Wade is really good at writing quirky characters full of charm.

The story started off really great. Grant is a neurotic 26 year old virgin bank teller who meets a guy at work – Tristann Carr , the mechanic – who really turns his crank. They begin an awkward flirtation each time Tristan comes in to make a deposit that eventually leads to a “date” and then more.

I tried – very hard – to stick with this and had it been shorter I might have done it, but it’s pretty long – over 5000 locations on my kindle (I’m used to most stories being about ½ that) – and I just couldn’t stand Grant any more. He was driving me NUTS.

I’m sure that his neuroses were part of his charm, but I just couldn’t take them any more. I quit rooting for him and kept wondering why Tristan not only put up with them but seemed to find them charming. In fact, the final straw for me, was when – in a fit of retaliation for an absolutely CRAZY ex – Tristan and Grant decide to get MARRIED after only knowing one another for a matter of weeks – I decided I’d had enough.

I just couldn’t get behind this relationship.

From reading other reviews, I know that others have really enjoyed this book and I encourage people to read those and decide with them in mind, because it just might be ME.

Like I said, I really like Wade Kelly and her books and just couldn’t get into this one very well, so I decided to bail, but I will absolutely be looking for more from this author in the future.

DNF

Reviewed by Morgan

Generously Provided by Publisher for Honest Review

Categories
4 stars Action/Adventure adult - 18+ Angst Level Book Contemporary Cop/Crime DA Fated Mates Heat Index Homophobia Hopelessly Crying Hurt/Abuse Insta Love m/m Medical Mid level steam/heat Military Morgan Novel 140 pgs + (80K + words) Part of a Series Purchased Siren-Bookstrand

The Pilot Soars with His Bad Boy (Rescue For Hire West Book 4) by Bellann Summer

Siren Bookstrand Presents

http://www.bookstrand.com/book/the-pilot-soars-with-his-bad-boy

29503622Blurb

[Siren Everlasting Classic ManLove: Erotic Alternative Romance, M/M, HEA]

Styx Randall has high hopes for his job interview with Rescue for Hire West. The idea of spending his days fixing the high powered planes and vehicles for the company is his idea of heaven. When he meets Flyer Wakefield, he adds the pilot to his list of wants in life, with want soon turning into need. But why is the nervous man’s phone ringing constantly? Styx finds out the first time he takes Flyer into his arms and discovers his scarred body.

Flyer accepts that he can’t sit still. He knows if he doesn’t keep eating he’ll wind down like a toy top. What he doesn’t understand is why his sadistic ex-boyfriend won’t leave him alone. Meeting the big, bad mechanic should send Flyer running for the hills, and yet the attraction is undeniable. Flyer finds strength and healing in Styx’s arms, but will that be enough when his ex-boyfriend kidnaps Flyer and some of his teammate’s partners?

A Siren Erotic Romance

Review

This is Rescue for Hire West and it follows the same general pattern as the guys from out East.

Alpha male finds his “one and only” in a usually more submissive/hurt/abused/smaller guy and the two find a way to make it work – eventually.

In this case, Flyer is the poster child for ADHD and has a very abusive ex who is stalking him. (In fact we get to see from the stalker’s POV – very disturbing!)

Styx is a tough guy, out of the military, looking for a place to make his home.

Most of the book is about the stalker and it can be very graphic and hard to read – fair warning – I had to skip a lot of that – too painful to read.

But… I loved Flyer and loved his energy and how Styx managed to calm him down. Styx has his own demons but is – for the most part – the solid presence in this relationship – keeping Flyer tethered when he needs to be.

At the end of the book we get a glimpse of who will be next and – wow – that looks like it’ll be a tough one….

For fans of the series I recommend this one – and if you haven’t read at least the books in this series I do recommend reading them in order – though technically they can all be read as a standalone.

4 of 5 stars

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Copy Purchased For Review

Categories
3.5 stars adult - 18+ Angst Level Book Contemporary Gay Heat Index Insta Love m/m Mild level angst Morgan Music/Rock Star Novella 20-160 pgs (20k-40k words) Part of a Series Purchased Scorching/high heat

Undercover Rockstar (Bulletproof Book 1) by Jenna Galicki

29219214Blurb

A spur-of-the-moment vacation was supposed to jolt Cameron Douglas out of his funk, but it appears he only traded locations. It was a chance meeting with a handsome stranger that changed everything. Brandon stirs Cameron’s interest and his heart, but will the mysterious man reveal his true identity before their vacation in paradise is over?
Sometimes life in the spotlight was a heavy weight to bear for Brandon Bullet. He never knew if men were interested in him as a person or just enamored with his rock star status – until he meets Cameron Douglas. It wasn’t often that Brandon shared a connection with someone who wasn’t aware of his notoriety. He’s determined to keep his identity a secret while the two of them get to know each other and before someone blows his cover.

Review

Cameron is on vacation trying to get over an ex in Rio. He meets a “mysterious stranger” at a bar and they have an instant connection. One thing leads to another leads to hot sex back in the cabana! Eventually Cameron learns his “stranger” is a very famous rock star named Brandon Bullet (though Cameron isn’t familiar with the band) and the two face a decision over what happens next.

**

This is a short story with a promise of more to come. So, with that in mind, and a HUGE GRAIN OF SALT, I give you this review:

I liked it! Sure, there was SO MUCH that was a bit (ahem) unbelievable, but it was FUN! I loved the idea of a hard rockin’ bunch of gay guys with tender hearts finding love on the beach in Rio. (I also kinda love this trope – the secret rich guy who sweeps the plain Joe off his feet…YUM!)

Cameron and Brandon also have unique chemistry in that both are a bit “alpha” and I like it when authors shake up those preconceptions. I also liked that being gay wasn’t “a thing” and that his being famous wasn’t really “a thing”. Instead it was two guys figuring out how their lives could mesh in a seemingly impossible circumstance. (Plus the smexy times were HOT!)

So… if you’re willing to suspend your disbelief and just have fun – give this one a go and look for more in the future.

3.5 of 5 stars

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Amazon link

(Free on Kindle Unlimited)

http://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B01CXB75VA?keywords=undercover%20rock%20star&qid=1458762937&ref_=sr_1_1&sr=8-1

Categories
4.5 stars adult - 18+ Angst Level artists Audiobook Book Contemporary Dreamspinner Friends to lovers Gay Heat Index m/m May/December Mid level steam/heat Mild level angst Morgan Novel 140 pgs + (80K + words) Part of a Series

Better Than Safe Audiobook by Lane Hayes Narrated by Tyler Stevens

audiobookreviewDreamspinner Presents

http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=7613

BetterThanSafeAUDLGBlurb

Paul Fallon is a fashion advertising guru. He’s a genius at dealing with difficult editors, art directors, and designers alike. He thrives on the chaotic atmosphere and constant challenges. But in his personal life, he’s hoping for peace and stability. Settling down with a nice doctor or lawyer sounds perfect. Anyone but an artist. He’s been there, done that, and he doesn’t want to relive the heartache.

Seth Landau is a model, occasional guitarist, and aspiring painter. He’s quirky, flighty, and wise beyond his years. Life has taught him some tough lessons, then given him opportunities he never dreamed of. He’s learned to appreciate the fragility of life and to express it in his work. Seth’s flare for the absurd combined with a supple mind and a beautiful body are too alluring for Paul to ignore. Against his best intentions, Paul is drawn to the younger man whose particular brand of crazy challenges Paul to accept that things aren’t always as they seem. Sometimes taking a chance is better than being safe.

Review
In Book 3 – Better than Friends – Curt briefly dated the very staid and British Paul. We know that Paul travels a lot and his dating life has been less than spectacular as a result. Since Curt, Paul has decided to really focus on his personal life and cut back on the travel to find someone serious to date.

Our friendly photographer – Aaron (yay!) introduces Paul to a model, Seth. At first blush there is nothing about Seth that appeals to Paul except – of course – his looks. Seth is late for their first date, cavalier and snide, and …too young. But there’s something about him…

Seth has been hurt before and is not inclined to just dive into a relationship, and as a result he keeps giving Paul mixed signals. The two begin to date but their relationship is on again/off again, on fire when they’re together but there’s a lot that stands between them and a happily ever after.

**

This book has a lot to stand up against. Book one is one of my favorite books, Aaron and Matt are a tremendous couple. In the grand scheme of things, books one and two were pretty wonderful, book three (for me) less so, and with this – book four – we have a run at number one again! It was really, really good!

Paul and Seth have an explosive chemistry that sizzles! Seth comes across as sort of bratty and Paul as sort of stuffy for much of the book, but they seem to complement one another. In fact, I wish we had gotten to see them more as a couple, since they spend a lot of time apart in this story, we don’t get as much time to appreciate them as a cohesive unit.

I loved that Seth fit absolutely no stereotypes, he was such a unique and interesting character. Paul felt rather bland to me by comparison, so I didn’t quite see the appeal of him for Seth, but he was a strong anchoring presence.

This is a quick read, the story only bogs down for a bit in the middle, and is mostly a fast paced ride from meet to happily ever after.

I always enjoy Lane Hayes’ writing and find her characters to be her strongest suit. I liked this story much better than book three and I think fans of the series will be very pleased with this book.

Audio

Tyler Stevens is a favorite narrator of mine. I fell in love with his voice and his acting skills when I listened to Aaron by JP Barnaby. In this he does a great job with Paul’s British accent and then going back to “American” with Seth. Since most of it is told in Paul’s POV he uses the British accent for setting the stage as well as the dialog. It works really well. He’s very good at emoting and his pacing is excellent as well.

I definitely think listening to this is the best way to experience this story as he really brings a lot to enjoy.

4.5 of 5 stars

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Copy Generously Provided by Publisher for Honest Review

Categories
4.5 stars adult - 18+ Angst Level artists Book coming of age Contemporary Established Couple Friends to lovers Gay Heat Index Homophobia Hurt/Abuse m/m Mid level angst Mid level steam/heat Morgan Novel 140 pgs + (80K + words) Part of a Series Purchased

The Spencer Cohen Series Book 2 by NR Walker

spencer 2Blurb

Finally going from fake-boyfriends to the real thing, Spencer Cohen and Andrew Landon are trying to take things slow. They know what they have could be something special and despite the flammable sexual tension, they don’t want to crash and burn.

Spencer is learning to open up, sharing the secrets of his past with Andrew. Afraid to put his heart on the line, yet seemingly unable to stop it, Spencer knows he’s falling in love with him. Andrew is petrified of leaping in blindly, yet it seems the slower they go, the faster they fall.

As they navigate their new relationship, Spencer worries Andrew will freak out when he takes on a new client. But it’s not a normal case and Spencer soon realises things are not what they seem. When things take a downward turn and they work together to help the client, Spencer and Andrew need to decide if they’re ready for the next step.

Review

We met Spencer and Andrew in Book 1 – see review :  https://openskyebookreviews.com/the-spencer-cohen-series-book-one-by-nr-walker/

This picks up literally where book one stops. Spencer has just confessed his true feelings for Andrew and is recovering from the bender he took thinking he’d lost Andrew forever.

The two agree to “date for real” and thus begins their dance around intimacy and relationship protocols and sex.

Luckily, NR Walker is an amazing writer and what should have felt ridiculously long and drawn out – doesn’t! It’s fun to watch these guys navigate their relationship and all the sudden Andrew has the upper hand, simply because he’s been in a relationship before, where Spencer hasn’t.

There is a side drama with a new client of Spencer’s and some red flags get raised that threaten everyone’s happiness – but even that seems to resolve in a way that will either end happily in book three or lend itself to it’s own new series.

I’m really enjoying this series and loving these guys as a couple and I can’t wait for their big happy moment in book three to arrive!

4.5 of 5 stars

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Copy Purchased for Review

Free on Kindle Unlimited!

http://www.amazon.com/Spencer-Cohen-Book-Two-ebook/dp/B01CX3TP6G/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1458331088&sr=8-2&keywords=spencer+cohen

Categories
3 stars adult - 18+ Angst Level Book coming of age Contemporary Dreamspinner Gay Hopelessly Crying Hurt/Abuse m/m Mild/low level heat Morgan Novel 140 pgs + (80K + words) second chance at love Teacher

The Worst Bad Thing by JE Birk

release day review

Dreamspinner Presents

http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=7555

29248968Blurb

 

Iceland, Stonehenge, London, Paris….

To the casual observer, it looks like a dream trip. For Tate O’Reilly, it’s anything but. He’s a man on a mission to rectify a critical mistake, and there’s nothing to hold him back—certainly not friends or family. For Tate, it all comes down to one simple thing—he must fix what he has broken.

What he doesn’t count on is meeting Gabriel Carillo. Gabriel is kind, mysterious, and seems to be on his own mission to ensure their paths keep crossing. But Tate’s hiding an awfully big secret—one he’s certain even Gabriel can’t forgive.

Does a man’s past have to determine his future? In the middle of cities filled with history, Tate is going to find out.

Review

(Spoilers)

 

I can’t really review this without giving away something that I think is obvious but might not be so – stop here if you don’t want to know what happens.

 

 

 

 

**

 

 

 

 

This is a very hard book to read. Tate’s headspace is so dark and confused that it’s difficult to be “with him” while he’s so conflicted. This was well done by the author.

I knew what (or suspected) his end game from the beginning and as such it was so painful to watch him develop a relationship with Gabriel knowing that he planned on ending his own life.

As a result, I was not as “behind” the relationship as I could have been – it felt wrong in a way – for him to be involving himself – at whatever level – given his level of depression. I found the two parts hard to reconcile – his steadfast determination to end his life and yet his desire to be “happy” with Gabriel… it was a hard place to be.

The writing was good and the underlying messages were good – I almost wish that it hadn’t been a romance… in a way I needed Tate to decide his life was worth living without Gabriel.

I really didn’t get Gabriel’s ability to walk away knowing what Tate planned but then be willing to fly back to Paris at the drop of a hat…I’d have thought he’d have fought harder – especially considering his back ground.

So while I think this was a well-written and interesting book, I’m not sure I really bonded with either MC very well, nor did I see much hope for them long term, simply because we didn’t get enough time with them past the sudden ending at Notre Dame. So… as a piece of fiction involving a gay man, I think this is a well-written book. As a romance it didn’t quite fulfill my needs.

3 of 5 stars

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Copy Generously Provided by Publisher for Honest Review

Categories
4.5 stars Angst Level Book College/University coming of age Contemporary Exploration Friends to lovers Gay Hidden Lovers Homophobia Hurt/Abuse m/m Mild level angst Mild/low level heat Morgan NetGalley New Adult Novel 140 pgs + (80K + words) Opposites attract Part of a Series Samhain Publishing

Hard Candy (Bend or Break #7) by Amy Jo Cousins

release day reviewSamhain Presents

https://www.samhainpublishing.com/book/5749/hard-candy

28437199Blurb

How to get over someone? Get under someone else—as soon as possible. 

Vincent Lim always assumed his best friend (and occasional hookup) Austin would be waiting for him—that eventually they’d end up together. But now that Austin’s in love with another man, Vinnie is at a loss.

After the world’s most awkward one-night stand with a dance major, Vinnie knows the drill. Minimize the embarrassment by pretending they’ve never met. Yet Bryan’s vibrant spirit and calm center lure Vinnie like a shelter from an emotional storm.

But Vinnie’s thrown off his game by the rest of Bryan’s total package. Vinnie’s a rowing jock with a single-minded focus on living up to his parents’ academic and social expectations. Bryan might as well be outfitted with glittery butterfly wings—with plenty of pride to match. Vinnie’s haphazard attention to a lover won’t cut it this time.

Physically, they can match each other stroke for booty pop. But for the lovers to meet on common ground, they’ll have to find a way to get moving in the same direction.

Warning: Contains one uptight rower, a dancer who can rock a skirt like nobody’s business, yoga lessons, and the benefits of being very bendy.

Review

This is book 7 in the series, but really you only need to read book 6. (The rest of the series is awesome, though, so … ya know…)

We met Vinnie in Book 6 – he was the boy Austen was pining and pining after. Well – after being summarily dumped by Austen, Vinnie goes on a bender and meets Bryan.

Though their first meeting was less than great, both men realize they want to see more of the other – although Vinnie is clearly on probation as he nearly says and does all the wrong things.

Over time – not unlike Austen and Sean – Vinnie is spending more and more time with Bryan, until it’s clear that Bryan means a lot to Vinnie. The problem is Vinnie lacks the ability to say his feelings in a way that doesn’t offend.

**

I loved Bryan and Vincent together. I would really have loved to spend more time in Bryan’s head as he was clearly a very complex and fascinating person and we didn’t get to see nearly enough of him to satisfy.

The fact that these 21 year olds were so great at communicating with one another was a breath of fresh air – especially after all the nonsense between Austen and Vinnie previously.

I was also glad to see that the parents weren’t going to be a big deal.

All in all this was a very sweet and sometimes funny story and a great way for us to see Vinnie all set up and happy.

4.25 of 5 stars

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Copy Generously Provided by NetGalley For Honest Review

Categories
4.5 stars Angst Level Book College/University coming of age Contemporary Friends to lovers Gay Heat Index m/m Mild level angst Morgan NetGalley New Adult Novel 140 pgs + (80K + words) Part of a Series Samhain Publishing Scorching/high heat

Love me like a Rock (Bend or Break # 6) by Amy Jo Cousins

release day review

28138678Blurb

 

In art and in love, it s the rough edges that make things interesting.

Having grown up with artistic implements always in hand, there’s almost nothing Austin can’t make real. Except for one thing—an official relationship with his best friend, rowing teammate and occasional hookup, Vinnie.

The combination of emotional and sexual frustration fuels a spark between Austin and the nude model in his drawing class. Austin isn’t used to having trouble focusing; models are merely challenging subjects to be rendered on paper. But the geology TA’s direct blue gaze is powerful enough to drag Austin’s focus away from his physique.

After a quick and very dirty post-class encounter, all the reasons that Austin has been waiting for his best friend go fuzzy in his mind. Sean is nothing like Vinnie. Sean is persistent, pays attention, and makes it clear he wants to be together.

But if Austin can’t get his head and his heart on the same page, he could lose his friend, or his lover. Or both.

Warning: Contains rock geeks, tent sex, a dictatorial cox whose idea of a good time is drawing naked dudes, plus one naked dude who wants to be more than a good time.

Review

This is the 6th book in the series, but it can absolutely be a standalone!

Austin and Vinny are best-friends-with-benefits. Only Austin really wishes it was more than that. In fact, he’s pining. But Vinny isn’t responsive and Austin figures some day he’s gotta do something about that.

Meanwhile, Austin meets Sean. Sean is a ginger! who models for one of Austin’s classes.   He can’t keep his eyes and then his hands and then his mind off of Sean once he actually sees the guy.

Sean is everything Vinny isn’t – and at first that freaks Austin out – but – over time – he realizes that might just be a good thing.

**

I fell in love with this series in book one and Amy Jo Cousins hasn’t disappointed me yet! I think this is my second favorite in the series – but really – it’s a close second to book one.

Austin is a GREAT character and what I love about the writing is how well Amy Jo shows us the progression in his head from “Sean’s a fuck buddy” to “Sean is something important”. It’s very well done and oh so sexy!

I was very glad to see the communication in this book was open and honest and never the central theme. Yes, Vinny and Austin could have talked to one another more, but I totally understood that Vinny and Austin’s history sort of precluded that from be a viable option. Sean only knew the “more adult” version of Austin so he could be a different guy. Someone Vinny never really knew.

Vinny’s absence from the story was important because as a reader I didn’t want to be attached to him through Austin (especially since the next book is about Vinny and a new guy!) so I was grateful that his part in this story was small.

The smexy times were plentiful but not overwhelming and though I wish we got to see them later in life – post graduation – I know that the HFN is solid and will lead to a HEA eventually.

(My favorite scene is when Austin and Sean go camping and Sean makes Austin “art supplies” – Swoooon!)

4.5 of 5 stars

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Categories
4.5 stars adult - 18+ Angst Level Author Provided Bi-Sexual Book Contemporary Established Couple Gay GFY/OFY Heat Index Insta Love m/m Mid level angst Military Morgan Novella 20-160 pgs (20k-40k words) Opposites attract Part of a Series Scorching/high heat second chance at love Virgin

The Screwdriver (Dirty Martini Book 2) by Renee George

 

Books 4 and 8 in the Other Team Series

22445994Blurb(s)

The Other Team Sports Bar & Grill, where mixology meets biology and it’s pure chemistry. USA Today Bestselling author Renee George, writing as G.R. George, invites you to the best little gay bar in the Midwest, where the drinks are cold, the men are hot, and it’s always Happy Hour. These steamy MM romances are tasty little recipes for a perfect evening of entertainment. Watch Chris and Marty navigate their new relationship in The Screwdriver, Book 8 of The Other Team series.

 

 

screwdriver

 

 

Marty Lincoln and Chris Lawson are only happy when they’re in each other’s arms. Unfortunately, their relationship remains long-distance as Marty completes his final months in the Army. Chris has a new and challenging job that keeps him busy, but he yearns every day for Marty. Marty suffers from PTSD and needs Chris as his anchor.

Time apart feeds the doubts each man harbors as they deal with their tragic pasts and try to hold on to the love blooming between them. Will fear make them give up before they even get started? Or will love find a way?

 

Review

Dirty Martini is about Marty and Chris. Marty is Jay’s younger brother (Jay is the owner of The Other Team – a gay bar and featured in two of the previous books in the series.) Chris is the manager of Jay’s bar.

Marty lost his best friend and career as a military man 2 years ago in Afghanistan. He’s been through rehab and is making his way again in the world. He’s back to visit Jay when Chris gets the news that his estranged father has just died.

For some reason, Marty (who previously only identified as straight but in his head as bi-sexual) is drawn to the pain he sees in Chris. His own loss and need perhaps make him understand where Chris is coming from.

Chris doesn’t do relationships so he knows getting involved with the boss’ brother – in any way – is a bad idea, but… He’s so lonely and needs someone who cares about him – if for just this once.

The two end up going to Chris’ dad’s funeral and starting up a relationship, despite the odds.

In book 2 – we see the continuation of this relationship as it stands the test of time and distance.

Can a die-hard one-night-stand- man make a relationship work? Do the two of them even have a relationship worth saving?

**

These are short stories that read better when read all in order. All the MCs play a role in the other stories and it really helps to set the stage. (My previous reviews are here: http://kimichanexperience.com/?s=renee+george)

What I love about these is that, even though they’re short, each vignette is a solid glimpse at the couple at a crucial time in their relationship. I love that the other MCs are involved and it plays out like a family drama type story.

The smexy times are super hot, but the relationship stuff still holds the priority.

In her book the author explains why the names have changed – but it’s the same storyline.

These are highly recommended for fans of hot, sweet, short, sexy and alpha stories.

4.25/5 stars

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Categories
4.5 stars Angst Level Book coming of age Exploration Friends to lovers Gay GFY/OFY Heat Index Hidden Lovers Homophobia Hopelessly Crying m/m Mild/low level heat Morgan New Adult Novel 140 pgs + (80K + words) Recent Past Riptide Publishing Virgin young adult

Trailer Trash by Marie Sexton

release day review

 

Riptide Presents

http://riptidepublishing.com/titles/trailer-trash#sthash.gkyYeP7W.dpuf

28531239Blurb

It’s 1986, and what should have been the greatest summer of Nate Bradford’s life goes sour when his parents suddenly divorce. Now, instead of spending his senior year in his hometown of Austin, Texas, he’s living with his father in Warren, Wyoming, population 2,833 (and Nate thinks that might be a generous estimate). There’s no swimming pool, no tennis team, no mall—not even any MTV. The entire school’s smaller than his graduating class back home, and in a town where the top teen pastimes are sex and drugs, Nate just doesn’t fit in.

Then Nate meets Cody Lawrence. Cody’s dirt-poor, from a broken family, and definitely lives on the wrong side of the tracks. Nate’s dad says Cody’s bad news. The other kids say he’s trash. But Nate knows Cody’s a good kid who’s been dealt a lousy hand. In fact, he’s beginning to think his feelings for Cody go beyond friendship.

Admitting he might be gay is hard enough, but between small-town prejudices and the growing AIDS epidemic dominating the headlines, a town like Warren, Wyoming, is no place for two young men to fall in love.

Review

Wow. So not what I was expecting when I first read the blurb.

There’s so much going on in this book.

First, Nate’s story. He and his dad move to Warren, WY (Nowhere) and it’s a hard adjustment. His mom is still in Austin, Tx. He has no friends. The teeny tiny town is about as different from life in Austin as you can get and the only friend he likes is the town pariah.

Then, Cody. Cody’s mom is all alone, doing what she can to make ends meet. Sometimes things she doesn’t want to talk about. The town knows about Cody and his mom and then… there’s the gay thing. Somehow the little town finds out Cody’s most hidden secret and they won’t let it go. (This is the state that killed Matthew Shepard in 1988.)

At first (over the summer), the two are really close friends. But when school starts, Cody distances himself from Nate in an effort to “save” Nate from being associated with Cody. Well, as time goes on, not only does Nate NOT want to be with the other jerks in town, he longs to be with Cody. He’s not sure why he wants that so badly… at first.

**

I had such a visceral reaction to this story. I grew up in that town (not literally, but almost – Colorado instead of Wyoming – but the wind still blew all the time, it was cold, there was nothing to do but get in trouble and we didn’t have MTV either!) so I know exactly how it feels to live in a town and your only fantasy is about the day you graduate so you can leave and never look back.

Of course, it’s different if in addition to all that other stuff you have to deal with the threat of gay-bashing and AIDS and losing your parents’ love too…

I thought Marie did an amazing job of letting the fear be real but not crushing for these boys. She gave them some real hope in a way that felt plausible and authentic. God, it would be so easy to turn this story into another Brokeback Mountain, but thankfully we get a HFN – probably a HEA to look forward to. (With one exception… so sad…)

I guess this book just really made me think and be thankful we live in a “different” world now… at least there’s more information out there and resources and less? fear… I hope so at least.

Anyhow, this is a very moving book that is well written and very compelling. There’s not a bunch of sex in it, it wouldn’t really feel right anyway, but there’s a lot of emotion and heart.

I highly recommend it and give it 4.5 of 5 stars

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Copy Generously Provided by Publisher for Honest Review