Time to Comfort: Rend (Riven #2) by Roan Parrish

release day review

Good Reads Link

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/38944629-rend?ac=1&from_search=true

Blurb

After a whirlwind romance, a man with a painful past learns to trust the musician who makes him believe in happy endings.

Matt Argento knows what it feels like to be alone. After a childhood of abandonment, he never imagined someone might love him—much less someone like Rhys Nyland, who has the voice of an angel, the looks of a god, and the worship of his fans.

Matt and Rhys come from different worlds, but when they meet, their chemistry is incendiary. Their romance is unexpected, intense, and forever—at least, that’s what their vows promise. Suddenly, Matt finds himself living a life he never thought possible: safe and secure in the arms of a man who feels like home. But when Rhys leaves to go on tour for his new album, Matt finds himself haunted by the ghosts of his past.

When Rhys returns, he finds Matt twisted by doubt. But Rhys loves Matt fiercely, and he’ll go to hell and back to triumph over Matt’s fears. After secrets are revealed and desires are confessed, Rhys and Matt must learn to trust each other if they’re going to make it. That means they have to fall in love all over again—and this time, it really will be forever.

Review

This was not what I was expecting.

I’d really loved Riven – it had angst and pain – sure – but the overall feeling was lighter and definitely had a brighter outlook to it.

I’d thought this would have a similar vibe. Well – it didn’t. It was very, very, very, very angsty – drama at every turn and full of sadness and emotional upheaval.

If this is your bag- you will be psyched because Roan Parrish is a great writer. However, if you’re looking for something lighter in line with Riven – don’t read this.

I thought it was interesting that our MCs are already married in chapter 1 and the book is not our guys getting together but Matt getting over his low self esteem.

I really didn’t like the fact that Matt was a mental health professional with apparently no ability to manage himself – at all.

I think that was definitely part of the problem I had with this. I appreciated the idea of it, but I didn’t necessarily like that our guys were already together.

In any case – it was nice seeing the MCs from book 1 and – as I mentioned – Roan is a great writer – I was just over Matt and his self doubt pretty much from sentence one so this just didn’t tick any boxes for me.

3 of 5 stars


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

Recent Release: The Bones Beneath my Skin by TJ Klune

 

Goodreads link

Blurb

Set in 1995, this supernatural action thriller will make you re-think everything you know about earth.
After the gruesome death of his parents Nate Cartwright has no family left, besides the older brother who wants nothing to do with him. Getting fired from his journalist job not long before, he sets out to his family’s cabin to try and find some new direction for his life. High and secluded in the Oregon mountains, he expects to be left alone in the quite, lakeside cabin to ruminate and maybe write.

But quite and alone are the last things he finds when he gets there, inside is a rough man named Alex and a girl named Art. Well, Artemis Darth Vader that is, who is the oddest, most charming, intriguing and bewildering girl Nate has ever met.

A girl he soon finds out is as far from ordinary as can be. And she is being chased by forces who only want to put her back in a cage, to control and study. Alex will not have it, and Nate finds out he will not let her be taken back either. He has to choose between the unchangeable past and the unfathomable future he might just be able to create for himself.

Review

Like any TJ book, this was an unexpected read, and as unique and fantastic as his other books. What I loved was that the writing style itself was very similar to his Wolfsong, the first book I read by him. In Wolfsong it is more pronounced, but Bones has that same episodial narrative that is just captivating, creating a depth to the world through little motions, actions and memories. He leads the reader in the twists and unexpected turns of the plot with a hypnotists touch and you keep falling into little pockets of plot and memory that re just pure literary magic.

Klune weaves a complex web of emotions between his three main characters: Nate Alex and Art. The bond they share is so very human and at times, painful to read as it exposes them to the bone in a brutal way. Only through this vulnerability can they start bonding and soon they become a kind of family to rival any biological one.
Alex is such a gentle man, in a big hard shell, and the softness Art brings out in him moved me to tears. Nate is a character I found especially interesting, mainly because his reactions were so much more human than you usually read/see in this genre. He was the one to give both Alex and Art a true sense of family.
Art is just the most charming thing, funny and eccentric, she is painfully young and old at the same time, human and un-human. Her logic and dialogues are funny and t times shockingly brutal. I can honestly say I was not expecting her, much like Nate was not expecting her, but I fell in love with her just like he did.

The supernatural elements were so interesting, and very well handled, in a genre that has been written prolifically Klune manages to breathe new life. I was also expecting it be more angsty, and was happy to discover that, to me at least, it was not as heart jerking as I initially thought.
This book is unlike anything you read before, I remember thinking TJ’s books remind me of Haruki Murakami’s writing, and I still think Wolfsong and Bones fit that comparison well. A story of family and true, deep love between people, that goes as deep as the bones beneath your skin.

Number of stars out of 5


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

Review
Oh boy I love a good adventure and mystery and if it’s got a bit of an extra element to it so much the better. This story ticks all of my wish list boxes. I found it so gripping. Not to mention what a brilliant character Artemis Darth Vader is. Genius setting the story in 1995, just enough technology but not so much as today that the story wouldn’t work. So much action. It was like an action movie was playing out in my head as I read the book. The writing made everything so clear it was easy to picture it as it happens.
The mystery of who or what is Artemis is explained roughly halfway through, although there’s enough clues that you can guess before then. The main thrust is the slowly building trust and connection between Alex and Nate. Nate feels like he has no one and his life has gone downhill quickly. Alex is more of an enigma until later on in the book. We know he cares greatly for Artemis in the little things he does and in the same way can see him starting to do little things for Nate. Nate though is slow on the uptake. Artemis is the catalyst between them. There is so much to this book that I don’t think I can do it justice. The descriptive writing and pace of the story made the time I spent reading fly past. At the end I felt content, not wishing for more but feeling that I had enough of their story to keep me satisfied.

6 of stars out of 5


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

Time to get scared: Ascendent by Tal Bauer

Good Reads Link

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/41452339-ascendent?from_search=true

Blurb

Sasha Andreyev grew up on the wrong side of nowhere, dreaming of starlight as he strangled a secret. He fled, enlisting in the Russian Army, and worked his way up the ranks. Years later, after surviving a beating and being left for dead, he found a new life in Moscow, working with President Sergey Puchkov.

And then, he fell in love.

Desperate to avoid his runaway heart, crippled with a shame that infected his soul, and ravaged by demons haunting his memories, Sasha ran.

But he could never escape Sergey, or the gravitational pull of their love.

Nightmares trail behind his every step and weary ghosts live in the hollow chambers of his soul. He’s spent a lifetime brutally eviscerating the parts of himself he despises, and he’s an empty, shattered shell, struggling to be the man worthy of Sergey’s love.

The pieces of his soul he cut out are the very ones he needs in order to become the man he yearns to be. He’ll need to face himself, and his past, on a journey into the frozen heart of Russia, and into the midnight depths of the dead lands.

Only then can he ascend from the darkness, and be the man Sergey needs at his side.

Review

I will admit that Tal Bauer is my favourite author out there writing at this time. His books have the research and attention to detail that, in my opinion, put them above most other offerings. It is standard practice for me to have my Kindle in one hand and Google fired up and ready in the other, so I can look for myself at the places he describes.

With Ascendent, it was no different. Following straight on from where we left them at the end of Enemies Within, this story follows Sasha and Sergey and how they start to build a life together in Russia.

We spend most of our time in this book with Sasha as he battles his ingrown demons and self-loathing at being gay and how this feeling is slowly killing him. But we also get spend time with Sergey as he fights for his country as well as his love. With a horror twist that had me peering at the words from between my fingers, this is once again a superb offering by Tal Bauer.

These were the characters I took the least amount of interest in during the Executive Office series, so I was unsure how I would take to this book, but I needn’t have worried. Tal, once again with his clever, descriptive use of language drew me into the story and back into the Executive world. Possibly even out doing even himself with his beautiful phrasing and painful emotion.

I would not recommend this as a stand-alone book, as it references events in the Executive Office series more than once, but it is a wonderful look into the world of Sasha and Sergey and a fabulous gateway to what I am sure are more nail biting adventures to come.

Number of stars out of 5: 5


Purchased for Review

Time to get Paranormal: A Time To Rise by Tal Bauer

 

Good Reads

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/40526865-a-time-to-rise

Blurb

History says the Knights Templar were destroyed in 1307.
History is wrong.

Vampires haunt the sewers beneath Rome, revenants desecrate graveyards, ghouls devour helpless passersby, and incubi stalk dark alleys and seedy nightclubs in Italy’s capital. Deep in the Vatican, a brotherhood exists, sworn protectors of the earth, and they stand against the darkness. Operating in secret and silence, they protect our world from the sinister, the etheric, and the evils that exist beyond the Veil.

But it’s a lonely life, and Alain Autenburg knows that more than most. His lover was ripped from him years ago, and he vowed never to get close to another soul again. Even when the loneliness presses down on him, and his empty heart cries out for something more.

Something more comes in Cristoph Hasse, a new soldier arriving in Rome to serve in the Pontifical Swiss Guard. Young, brash, and fitting in at right angles everywhere he goes, Cristoph struggles in the murky, deceptive labyrinth of the Vatican. Propelled forward by a past he can’t understand, Cristoph collides with Alain as both men crash headfirst into the darkest secret of the Vatican… and of the world.

Review

A Time To Rise is Bauer’s first steps into the paranormal world, but don’t expect romantic “vegetarian” vampires with a bit of sparkle, because that isn’t how he writes. The vampires in this story are ugly, evil and they smell. Really, really bad.

As with everything he writes, Bauer’s level of research and attention to the small detail is second to none and sets him far above, in my opinion, most other authors out there.

As always, this book is character led, but with the romance taking a backseat to the drama and mystery of the story.
Both Alain and Cristoph are interesting personalities, who help drive the story along at its fast pace. They are helped by a whole host of great secondary characters not least of which is Father Lotario, a cigarette smoking, vodka drinking priest who I would love to sit and chat with in a bar one evening.

The twists and turns of this book will leave you gasping for breath and worried what you will find at the next turn of the page. Its a lot darker than most paranormal romances out there, but worth every bitten nail.

5 stars out of 5

Copy Purchased for Review

 

 

Retro Read: Blood and Rain(Book 1) by Shira Anthony

Blurb

Adrien Gilbert has spent several lifetimes searching for the love he lost. Born in the 1800s into a clan of fabled vampire hunters, Adrien once wanted nothing more than to tend his family’s vineyard in southern France or read a good book. But Adrien’s peaceful existence ends abruptly when his older brother, François, is murdered. Bound by his hunter’s oath, Adrien sets out on a path that will forever change his life when he agrees to execute his brother’s killer, the vampire Charles Duvalier.

After months chasing the elusive Charles, Adrien reluctantly makes a bargain with Nicolas Lambert, an ancient vampire. Adrien will escort Nicolas to Paris for his marriage to a rival clanswoman, and Nicolas will help Adrien find Charles. Nicolas’s quiet strength and gentle heart soon convince Adrien that Nicolas is nothing like the vampires he has sworn to destroy. As the wedding date draws nearer, a force intent on destroying the fragile peace between the vampire clans threatens to tear apart both the vampire realm and the world of the hunters. To secure both past and future for those he loves, Adrien must find a way to stop the looming war between hunters and vampires. But first he’ll have to let Nicolas go.

Review

First, I think anyone interested in this series should be PSYCHED to know that all 3 books are finally released. I didn’t touch this because I didn’t want to be in cliff-hanger torture while waiting for the series to finish. So…. Once I saw book 3 released I said – at last! – I can begin this series!

Second, this is Shira Anthony. So… you know you best be prepared for in depth world building, complex characters, lots of angst, and pain, and maybe some not-so perfect MCs.

I think, as someone who has enjoyed her other series – Blue Note and Mermen of Ea – that this (so far) seems to follow in their footsteps. Book one is all about the back story and world building and introducing us to all the myriad characters. Right now my interest in piqued with Charles and Francois more than Adrien – but time will tell…

I’m not a big fan – ok I hate – cliff hangers, and I’m actually more attracted to short stories than I am to epic multi book series – but – I’m looking forward to starting book 2. I do love Shira’s writing style and though I’m not loving the flashbacks and there was a lot of the time that I was really confused as to who was where and when but… – I love me some biting and vamps who like biting and all the magic – so….

4 of 5 stars

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Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

Steamy Romance: Unforgiven By: Ruth Clampett Narrated by: Eric London, Iggy Toma

Audible Link

https://www.audible.com/pd/Romance/Unforgiven-Audiobook/B071X7VW49?qid=1532034461&sr=sr_1_4&ref=a_search_c3_lProduct_1_4&pf_rd_p=e81b7c27-6880-467a-b5a7-13cef5d729fe&pf_rd_r=QRVS6K5PXVWC340YMVBR&

Blurb

Would you live a lie to hold onto the one you love?
Dean and Jason are best friends, like brothers since boyhood, now architecture students and college roommates. They’ve always had each other’s back, but when one walks in on the other with another man, everything changes. How do you explain to your best friend that he’s the one you’ve always wanted, that until now your life has been a lie?
Desperation and shame are two dirty words that run through Jason’s veins. He carries the scars from a wayward priest who stole his innocence and left him shattered. Meanwhile for years he’s watched Dean pursuing woman after woman, as his own heart slowly breaks.
When their world blows apart, they learn the powerful bond between them has more fire than either understood. Can two broken souls find the light in their darkness and come together to make a whole, or will sins of the past be forever unforgiven?

Review

This was a mixed bag for me. First, through no fault of the author, this is a really bad time for me to read anything remotely “angsty”. When I asked to review this – more than a year ago – I wasn’t as worried about our world – as I am today. Unfortunately we had some miscommunication and it took over a year for me to get the audio code and now… well, I’m in a different place.

 

However, the story itself is really good. There’s no denying that. The author does not pull ANY punches and if you have triggers – especially around molestation – please read the reviews that allude to the triggers. I don’t consider these things triggers for me personally but they were VERY disturbing and hard to read.

 

As for the romance – well- Dean is kind of a dick throughout most of the story and Jason is a pushover. That made it hard for me to root for these guys as a couple. Though I love the whole “discovering your gay side” stories – and that part was usually pretty dang hot! – the way Dean treated Jason before and after made it less … good.

 

The ending definitely ties things up for these guys and leaves us with a pretty solid HFN if not HEA.

 

What saved this – for me – was the dual narration. I think, had I been reading it, I’d have bailed. However, the narration was awesome! I really love dual narrators as I think they really help to differentiate the MCs so nicely!

 

I thought Eric London and Iggy Toma were well suited to their MCs and did an excellent job with the emotion, the timing and helping to immerse the listener in the story. For that reason I’d definitely recommend this, though I had reservations about the story itself.

 

 

Story 3 of 5 stars

 

Audio 5 of 5 stars

 

Overall 4 of 5 stars

 

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Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

Audiobook: Unquiet By: Melanie Hansen Narrated by: Michael Stellman

audiobookreview

Dreamspinner Presents

http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=7150

Blurb

A Resilient Love story

Loren Smith has been in love with Eliot Devlin almost his entire life. During their turbulent childhood and teen years, Loren didn’t always understand Eliot, and sometimes he could be a challenge, but Eliot was the only one to ever truly ease Loren’s deep loneliness and accept him. When Eliot’s increasingly erratic and self-destructive behavior culminates in a suicide attempt at 17, Loren is devastated.
Upon meeting again by chance nine years later, Loren is enjoying a successful career as a police officer while Eliot’s life has been a constant struggle for stability. In and out of mental hospitals, with a rap sheet a mile long, he continues to be buffeted by the twin storms of mania and depression. Loren’s love and protectiveness for Eliot are deeply ingrained in him, however, and their feelings for each other are quickly rekindled.
Loren has issues of his own that he’s dealing with, and trying to understand and cope with Eliot’s bipolar disorder isn’t easy. They believe they’re meant to be, and Eliot brings a fulfillment to Loren’s life that no one else will ever match. But, as they both come to realize, love by itself can’t cure all.

Review

(Book Reviewed Here Previously)

Wow. I’ve been really on a streak with my book choices lately. Talk about heart-wringers – this one will literally jerk it from your chest and pound it into the floor.

There’s something to be said about being on the inside of something like mental illness. If the author is good – it’s an uncomfortable ride – but worth it.

This – like the others I’ve read recently – had that same effect. From the blurb you get that Loren (who we met in book 2 as Kai’s love interest) and Eliot have been in each other’s hearts for years – since they were six in fact. The love story here is less about them “falling in love” and more about them working through that love.

Lord. Eliot has a tough road, and as a result so does Loren. It’s not something that will ever be “fixed” but it can be “managed”. His disease is so severe that there really is no cure. Loren – who has to be about the most saintly person out there – only knows that he loves Eliot like an extension of himself and he can do nothing more than be there for him – come hell or high water.

Melanie Hansen’s writing is beautiful and her story telling is heart breakingly touching.

I won’t say that this book is easy to read, because it’s really, really not. But – if you’ve got it in you to brave the Kleenex box – again!- you’ll find yourself in a truly remarkable story full of big, big hearts and people with faults and perfections.

The epilogue about did me in – be prepared – but it is a decidedly HEA – in as much as these guys get one.

4.5 of 5 stars

Audio

 Michael Stellman is probably the perfect narrator for this. His voice seemed to really suit the subject matter and all the deep emotions.
While I would have enjoyed some more accent variation, I think the overall tone really felt appropriate and this is an excellent way to enjoy this fascinating story.

4.5 of 5 stars

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Wheels Up (Out of Uniform #4) by Annabeth Albert

release day review
Carina Press
https://www.carinapress.com/shop/books/9781488030727_wheels-up.html

Blurb

Their love is forbidden, but their hearts aren’t listening to rules and regulations.

Lieutenant Dustin Strauss is a reformed man. No longer a twentysomething hell-raiser, he’s his SEAL team’s new XO-and a man with a secret. Or seven. He’s kept his bisexual identity under wraps for years, along with his kinky side and a fondness for the military-themed semianonymous hookup website Joe4Joe. His latest chat buddy is more than a sexy online distraction-they’re taking their very not-safe-for-work relationship into real time.

Petty Officer Wes Lowe has a smart mouth, a take-charge attitude and an uncanny ability for making things go boom. The life of an enlisted man isn’t always enough to satisfy him, but one wild, no-questions-asked weekend with his online love comes close. When a transfer order comes in, Wes feels ready and centered. He’ll make a good impression on his new SEAL team and keep his growing feelings for Dustin on the down low.

But as they log more time online and some very real emotions surface, Dustin and Wes struggle to pretend they’re just a harmless fling. And when his commander introduces Dustin to his team’s newest member, they’re in for the shock of a lifetime…and a crushing disappointment: their difference in ranks means even a friendship without sexual contact could end their navy careers for good.

With their hearts on the line, Dustin and Wes may not survive their next mission, let alone find a way toward a future together.

Review

I think I’m a sucker for make believe endings. The author clearly tried to make this story “realistic” and it felt that way. But it was way too frustrating for me and I guess I’m just not into that – as far as romances go. It’s one of the reasons I don’t like historicals – there’s so much hiding and lying and …. It’s frustrating.

In this case I got the hot smexy times that I’ve come to expect from this series – as well as a lot of feelz – but the back and forth and the “we can’t be together but I can’t stay away” see-saw ranked this story a bit lower for me than the previous in the series.

I guess I was looking for a more “happy” ending than I got and a bit less of the back and forth…. Maybe a bit more editing? I’m not sure – but this just didn’t hit me right.

I’d recommend this to fans of military romances, closeted lovers, angst and the author.

(LOVE the cover!)

3 of 5 stars

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Audiobook: If the Seas Catch Fire by L.A. Witt Narrated by Michael Ferraiuolo

audiobookreview

Audible Link

https://www.audible.com/pd/Romance/If-the-Seas-Catch-Fire-Audiobook/B076HYJW3J/ref=a_search_c4_1_1_srTtl?qid=1508964173&sr=1-1

Blurb

Sergei Andronikov was a child when the Mafia wiped out his family, leaving him with nothing but a hunger for revenge. Years later, through ruthless strategy and tireless patience, he’s a contract killer working for the three families ruling Cape Swan…and he’s nearly in position to bring them all down from the inside.
Domenico “Dom” Maisano is Mafia royalty, a made man…and a hitman. He’s caught up in a violent life he can’t escape, struggling to maintain an image he doesn’t want, and suppressing desires he can’t have.
A chance encounter throws the killers into each other’s paths. Though Dom knows he’s playing a dangerous game, he’s intrigued and keeps coming back. Sergei can’t resist him either – Dom is everything he set out to destroy, but he’s also everything he’s ever ached for in a man.
Then Sergei gets the contract he’s been waiting for – the hit that promises to bring the town’s Mafia to its knees.
But when a boss makes an unexpected move, Sergei must choose between dropping the hammer on the families he vowed to annihilate, and protecting the man he swore he wouldn’t love.
And the wrong choice – or even the right one – will destroy them both.

Review

If the seas catch fire audiobook it is has to be one of the most outstanding audiobooks and listens of this year – and that’s saying a lot because there are some amazing books out there!  This has that magical combination where you have an amazing narrator an amazing author who have managed to find just that right combination.  We also get two MCs who have  their own issues –  in this case we have a feisty Russian and “mademan ” Mafia style.  There’s absolutely no way this relationship should work and yet they manage to do it.

We get loads of very hot smexy times, a ton of feelz, and some really exciting action and adventure.   Add that to the fact that Michael Ferraiuolo can  do 89 accents for the whole cast of characters – all of them with varying accents and age groups – and you’re are practically sitting in the front row of the m/m version of the Godfather! 

This was absolutely amazing, and I cannot recommend this enough –  if I would give it more than six stars I would!  You have to go out and get this!

6 of 5 stars

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Copy Purchased for Review

Bad Boy’s Bard (Fae Out of Water #3) by E.J. Russell

release day review

Riptide Presents

https://riptidepublishing.com/titles/bad-boys-bard

Blurb

As far as rock star Gareth Kendrick, the last true bard in Faerie, is concerned, the only good Unseelie is . . . well . . . there’s no such thing. Two centuries ago, an Unseelie lord abducted Gareth’s human lover, Niall, and Gareth has neither forgotten nor forgiven.

Niall O’Tierney, half-human son of the Unseelie King, had never lost a wager until the day he swore to rid the Seelie court of its bard. That bet cost him everything: his freedom, his family—and his heart. When he’s suddenly face-to-face with Gareth at the ceremony to join the Seelie and Unseelie realms, Niall does the only thing inhumanly possible: he fakes amnesia. Not his finest hour, perhaps, but he never revealed his Unseelie heritage, and to tell the truth now would be to risk Gareth’s revulsion—far harder to bear than two hundred years of imprisonment.

Then a new threat to Gareth’s life arises, and he and Niall stage a mad escape into the Outer World, only to discover the fate of all fae resting on their shoulders. But before they can save the realm, they have to tackle something really tough: mending their own broken relationship.

Review

First, let me say that I’m not a fan of “reunion or second chance” romances – so this already had a mark against it.

Second, I wasn’t ever too keen on Gareth and didn’t quite warm up to him as a romantic interest.

Third, it was long and the slow burn got tiresome and the reward wasn’t enough of a pay off for my patience to feel rewarded.

Fourth – amnesia as a plot device – blech! I hate soap operas and this felt like that.

I’ve really enjoyed the others in this series and the writing and world-buidling are still great, but this wasn’t my favorite.

3 of 5 stars

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