Two for Trust by Elle Brownlee

release day review

Dreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/two-for-trust-by-elle-brownlee-8405-b

Blurb

A fairy-tale vacation—if he can get the ending right.

American nurse Finch Mason steps beyond the comfort of his orderly life and takes a dream trip to England, complete with a National Trust Pass so he can visit numerous historical sites. At the first one on his list, he’s warmly welcomed—and told he bought a pass good for two.

Finch doesn’t hesitate to offer the pass to Benedict, a handsome Brit also there on an outing. They spend a magical week touring the countryside, and while it’s too soon to get attached, Finch wishes their time together would never end.

Then Finch finds himself stuck abroad with no money, and he has no one to turn to but Benedict. Benedict is happy to help, but he also owes Finch some answers—such as who he really is and why he was at the estate where they first met.

Review
Another Dreamspun story for me. I love the concept behind this series, but so far the books I have read have been a mixed bunch. This one unfortunately falls somewhere between ‘meh’ and ‘bad’ in the mix.

The trope of commoner meets lord of the manor (but doesn’t know it), is taken up in this MM story. However, the fact that the two MCs are the same sex is completely irrelevant to the story and they are both so incredibly bland, that I think the only thing hinting at their gender was their names.

I will be the first to admit, that I like my sexy times on page, but I can live with off page or fade to black scenes, as long as I get chemistry between the characters and the tension leading up to the bedroom door closing in my face. That was completely missing in this book. There was no chemistry, no tension and absolutely no bedroom doors. In fact, this book is so completely devoid of intimacy, that I am hard pressed to even call it romance. There are the exact number of 4 kisses in this book, none of them passionate, and absolutely none of them sexually charged. You could publish this as an inspirational romance and no one would bat an eyelid, well you might have had to throw in some prayer now and again, or the mention of God, but other than that, you’d be set.

The two wander around the countryside together, they visit heritage sites together, they look after ailing grandmothers, pet the dogs together and they deliver handwritten correspondence together. And that’s it, folks! For 252 pages! And somehow this leads to a proposal and them being in love! How? I couldn’t tell you. I wasn’t in love, I was in tears, from boredom.

This was not for me. But if you enjoy your romance 100% steam free, very sweet and with a healthy dose of insta-love and English Heritage sites, this will be right up your alley.

1.5 of 5 stars

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Copy Generously Provided by Publisher For Honest Review

Traded Audiobook by Rebecca Brooke Narrated by Honey Scarlett and Leeroy Will

audiobookreview


Audible Link

http://www.audible.com/pd/Romance/Traded-Audiobook/B01L046YTA/ref=a_search_c4_1_1_srTtl?qid=1493524453&sr=1-1

Blurb

I’m a pawn, a piece of chattel, a toy–used and forgotten.

When you’re done with me, you can walk away with no regrets. That’s how my husband sees me. I try to be the best wife possible for him. After all, he took me on when no one else would. Now–he’s in debt and owes more money to the loan shark than we can possibly repay.

But, don’t worry, he’s come up with a solution, it’s just not one I was expecting.

…I’ve been TRADED.

Review

 This was a disappointment. Based on the blurb I was expecting a delicious dark romance with some dub-con sex and a bit of a twisted Stockholm syndrome leading to some sort of happy ending. Yum!

Unfortunately, what I got was an incredibly boring fairytale with a ridiculous cinderella plot, vapid characters and a bit of sugar kink.

There’s a feminist saying that a women needs a man, like a fish needs a bicycle. While that may hold true for most women, not so for our heroine, Elena. No, sir! Elena marries one douche bag and the second she gets a chance to leave that relationship she needs another. There is no way this woman can exist on her own.

She is in a bad marriage with a verbally abusive douchebag. We are led to believe that her doormat personality is a product of his doing, although I never believed that.
If we are to put any stock in her own memories of the day after they got married, Dominic was already a complete and utter bastard then and yet she still hoped to marry him and was happy that she did.

When the douchebag husband finds himself in gambling debt he cannot pay, he decides to trade his wife in lieu of payment. Enter our hero, Ashton, probably the worst loan shark in the world. He accepts trades, he gives second (and third chances), none of his ‘clients’ have any respect for him – understandably so – as he has the impulse control of a 15 year old, both when it comes to his temper and his sexual prowess – seriously if these two have intercourse that last more than 3 thrusts before he “can’t hold on anymore”, I missed it!
He cannot resist a damsel in distress and decides to lower the payment owed in return for 3 months with the wife. Except that his plan is to pamper and spoil her and show her “how a man treats a woman”.

Elena, being the shallow creature that she is, takes to new clothes and spa days, like a fish to water and after 2 weeks of pampering, all the mental scars of years of abuse is happily erased by Ashton’s magic dick. There’s quite a few sex scenes with some very very mild BDSM, mostly bondage, a few spanks and a small amount of anal play.

Both main characters are shallow and annoying, same goes for any secondary characters. And I really couldn’t care less about any of them. Ashton has no character development at all, Elena has some, I guess, but mostly it seemed that she just changed men and learned how to say the word f*ck. I only finished this book because I was given a review copy. Had I bought it, I would have put it down less than 30% in.

I can only surmise that the author did no research on anything before writing this novel, or at least none of the things that goes on in the silly plot of this book felt believable: Not how the slide into an abusive relationship work, not the psychology of recovering from it, not how a crime family works or how a loan sharks operates, not how body guarding works, not how to manage a restaurant, not how auditions and rehearsals for musical theatre works and certainly not on how police work with regards to kidnapping, organized crime or man slaughter.

The narrators of this book did their best, but there is only so much you can do with the material they were given. I was quite impressed I couldn’t hear them roll their eyes. I enjoyed the way it was produced, that the male narrator did all the male voices and the female all the female voices, regardless of whose point of view we were following.

 1.5 out of 5 stars

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Copy Generously Provided by Author for Honest Review

The Worst Best Man Audiobook by M.J. O’Shea narrated by Dorian Bane

audiobookreview

Dreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/the-worst-best-man-by-mj-oshea-8404-b

Blurb

It was her special day… but his worst nightmare.

A rekindled romance wasn’t part of the plan.

Despite his American background, August O’Leary is the most sought-after wedding planner in London. Naturally, Libby and Edward come to him for a wedding the city will never forget. But Edward is an international businessman, so the details are left to Libby and her best friend—who happens to be the love of August’s life and the one who broke his heart eight years ago: Christopher Burke.

How’s August supposed to pull off the event of the year with Christopher distracting him and old feelings crashing the party uninvited?

Christopher has let money and status dictate his life, but no more. His failure to stand up to others’ expectations cost him his future with August—one he hoped would include marriage. Now he has to face August’s hurt and anger and prove he’s still the best man to make August happy.

Review
I was raised on Harlequin romances. I have read hundreds and hundreds of them in my teenage years. And I love the concept of the Dreamspun series, where authors pay homage to the tropes of Harlequin romances in days gone by. And with that being said, I have to say that this leaves me in a slight dilemma.

Because this book certainly lives up to the trope it is aiming for: I couldn’t have you then, left you for your own good, but I have never stopped loving you, and I will have you now, come hell or high water… there might be a slightly shorter actual description of the trope, but I reckon you get the idea.
So, really, it does what it says on the tin, right? So how come I was disappointed and ended up only giving it two stars? Good question!

The main reason for that would be the lack of connection between the characters. I just never felt it. Not for one single moment did I believe that these two were ‘star crossed lovers, destined to be together’, that they were one another’s THE ONE. There was really nothing between them, except hurt feelings and awkwardness. And furthermore I really didn’t like either of them, especially not Christopher!

Added to that, their backstory didn’t ring true. Apparently August and Christopher were almost set to marry eight years ago, complete with promise ring and all, and yet, August had never met a single one of Christopher’s friends, never visited his home, never met his parents – said parents didn’t even know his name! I found that completely implausible. Frankly, had I been August I would have dumped him way before they broke up back then, no matter what he said, he obviously wasn’t committed at all.

However, if you swallow the unbelievable back story, the courting part of the book was rather sweet, if slightly too slow, but the conflict that arose was just so incredibly stupid! And again, Christopher was obviously not committed, regardless of what excuses he tried to use: “I was protecting you from them” – bah! Move on August, the man is a spineless liar.
At this point I was so over Christopher, that the conclusion left me with a bad taste. Christopher’s actions at the end were not romantic to me, they were borderline stalker-ish. If your ex moves to another continent to get away from you, following him there and interrupting him, whilst he is kissing someone else, and yelling: “Keep your hands off my boyfriend!” – is NOT romantic! It’s creepy and obsessive!

However, I have enjoyed other books by this author, so I will just write this one down as a glitch and not worry more about it. If you enjoy a slow burn, no steam, easily read little snack of a book this might still be for you, even if it wasn’t for me.

This was an audiobook, and I do wish I had read it, instead of listening to it, because the prose flowed easily enough and the writing seemed fine, when listening to it. Unfortunately the choice of narrator was not a good one. There wasn’t anything wrong with the narration as such, and I would give Dorian Bane another try, if the book he was narrating was set somewhere in the US. But his British accent was horrible, his northern accent was some kind of weird Dick Van Dyke imitation and his pronunciation on some words were so off that they pulled me completely out of the story several times. I did however learn to disregard the accents during the course of the book, if only because the characters actions annoyed me even more.

1.5 stars

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Copy Generously Provided by Publisher for Honest Review

More Things in Heaven and Earth by Paul Comeau

release day review

Dreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/more-things-in-heaven-and-earth-by-paul-comeau-7939-b
33224709Blurb

When young Danny Crawford’s father and a priest conspire to subject him to conversion therapy, Danny only sees one way out. But little does Danny know he’ll soon have a sentinel watching from the darkness, a guardian angel in the most unlikely form imaginable.

Damien, a vampire, is inexplicably moved by Danny’s plight. He takes it upon himself to make sure Danny’s father and the priest can never hurt him again, giving Danny a chance at a normal life. As Danny grows up, Damien struggles to keep the boy—and later the young man—from harm. He does not dare go any further, no matter how much he wants to. To do so would ruin everything he’s tried to do for Danny. He doesn’t realize that as Danny embarks on a successful modeling career and begins dating, Danny feels empty, longing for something—or someone—just beyond his reach: a shadow, a presence he despairingly believes forever lost to him.

When brutality and violence threaten Danny again, Damien must make a decision—risk revealing himself to Danny, or leave Danny to his fate.

 

Review

I waffled when I saw this offered up for review. I was a little leery because it’s a long(er) book by a new author and I worry about that. I love reading new authors, but if it’s not a great book then the shorter the better, right? I also try to pick books I can give good reviews to because I’m not here to do anything but read good books and recommend them!

Unfortunately, this is one of those cases when a gamble on a new author didn’t work out.

The first thing that bothered me was the main character, Damien. I didn’t like him and that never changed. He’s supposed to be an anti-hero, I get that, and he’s not a “nice” vampire, I get that, too. But we aren’t given any sort of motivation for why he acts like he does. Is it just vampire nature that makes him kill? Why does he kill when he feeds, is it possible to not kill and still feed? Why is he so angry? These are questions that I wanted answers to so that I could understand him as he made the decisions he did. I needed more world building to explain this and I needed it in the beginning so I could bond with him as a character.

There’s a part when book vampires are contrasted with “real” vampires (Damien) and it was mostly stuff about sunlight, garlic, holy water, etctera. What I wanted to know was – why did Damien turn into a vampire? Where are the other vampires? If Damien could be turned why doesn’t he turn others? That kind of stuff. So it was frustrating not understanding his motivations or his actions as a vampire. Then it was also difficult understanding his motivations as a guardian then boyfriend.

When Damien meets Danny he puts on a priest’s outfit (presumably to feed off a dying patient) and instead sees something in Danny that spurs Damine into becoming his guardian. I never did understand what in Danny made Damien change so dramatically. Their relationship just always felt “off” to me and I found I wasn’t really rooting for them to succeed.

Their physical relationship is off page, and while that is disappointing, a good romance doesn’t NEED lots of sex to be good (but it helps, am I right? : ) . But, I was lost sometimes trying to figure out if they were even intimate at all or still in the ward/guardian phase. They’d kiss on the cheek, but then I’d read about separate beds, then they’d kiss on the cheek and now they’re in the same bed. I think I needed it to be more revealing as to how their relationship changed from ward to boyfriend and why.

Finally, the writing style itself just didn’t work for me. I’d be reading along in Danny’s POV and then there’d be a line or two from someone else’s perspective. I had to read and re-read many times to figure out who was thinking what. There was a lot of telling and not nearly enough showing.

While I wouldn’t say that I’d never read another book by this author, I’d definitely look for a shorter story and then I’d be reluctant to offer to review it without reading it first.

1.5 of 5 stars

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Copy Generously Provided by Publisher for Honest Review

Scrooged Over By David Connor

 

Dreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/scrooged-over-by-david-connor-7982-b

 

Blurb

For dueling radio hosts Deke and Dudley, the battle over Christmas starts the day after Thanksgiving. Deke hates the whole season. Dudley is a yuletide overachiever. They put their debate to a vote, inviting audience members to weigh in. The loser must go on a blind date of the winner’s choosing. Dudley decides he wouldn’t mind taking the loss, if his blind date, picked by Deke, turns out to be Deke himself. As Christmas gets closer, not only does that fantasy seem unlikely, but everything that can go wrong for Dudley does, including malfunctioning decorations, rancid cookies, and a lost pile of hundreds of handwritten Christmas cards. Just days before Santa’s arrival, Dudley’s about to throw in the red and green towel and join all the haters. It’ll take a miracle to change his mind….

 

Review

Deke and Dudley are both gay but not advertising it (Deke even acts as though he’s straight while on air). They bicker constantly on air and off. Dudley, for some reason, has a crush on the perpetually crabby Deke and fantasizes about becoming his mystery date.

Meanwhile, someone is sabotaging Dudley’s Christmas (spoiler) It’s actually Deke and we are never told what his motivation is beyond being a JERK!) (End spoiler) and he’s getting more and more frustrated.

In the end these guys get together, but I have to tell you – I didn’t get it.

Their bickering got tiring, I didn’t see a connection between them, Deke seemed like a jerk the entire time. I didn’t understand how the “straight guy” kept doing naked episodes without raising eyebrows. I didn’t like their names (petty, but true.) There was also a little side story with Dudley’s father that didn’t add to the story but did make it a bit more distracted.

This just didn’t work for me.

1.5 of 5 stars

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Copy Generously Provided by Publisher for Honest Review

 

 

Hotline by Quinn Anderson

 

Riptide Presents Tomorrow!
http://riptidepublishing.com/titles/hotline

 

30828044Blurb

 

Zack never intended to become a phone sex operator, but with half a college degree and a smart mouth, his options were limited. It helps that he has a knack for thinking on his feet and a willingness to roll with whatever his clients throw at him. Sure, he gets his fair share of creeps and unconventional requests, but it pays the bills, and he’s in no danger of breaking his one rule: never fall for a client.

Until a man named “John” starts calling, and Zack finds himself interested in more than a paycheck. It’s not just that John has money, or that his rumbling baritone drives Zack wild. He’s everything Zack isn’t: educated, poised, and in total control of his life.

A twist of fate brings them face-to-face, and now that they’ve seen each other—and spent an unforgettable night together—they can’t go back to the way things were. A sex worker and a trust fund brat . . . It’s like Romeo and Juliet, but with less stabbing and slightly fewer dick jokes. Hopefully they can pull off a more successful ending.

 

Review

(Spoilers included, sorry – but fair warning. I don’t recommend this and I need to explain why – thus, spoilers.)

 

 

 

 

Let me start out by saying I hate writing negative reviews. Hate it. I think authors are amazing people who put their souls on the line each time they publish. So, in general I try to request books to review that have a likely chance I’ll enjoy them so I can write a good review. I read plenty of “not great books” but I don’t spend a lot of time reviewing them because that’s just not my thing. However, I requested this and spent the time reading it and I think I need to be honest. Therefore…

Based on the blurb I was expecting something like a rent-boy/cinderfella story. Some rich guy (bored) ends up on a phone sex line with a desperate (but good hearted) phone sex operator – and then the two fall in love. With some comedy. It says it’s like Romeo and Juliet without the stabbing – suggesting the families know one another? So, maybe some hidden pasts, too? Anyhow, that’s what I was expecting.

 

Well.

I was wrong.

First, there is no hidden family connection that I found. So, I really didn’t see the Romeo and Juliet comparison.

Two, John is pretty much the bored rich guy and does sort of match up to that image, but Zack isn’t exactly the desperate but great-hearted rent boy. He’s confused, stubborn, and kinda lazy. (You’ll see what I mean.) They do come from different walks in life, but Zack is there by choice, not because he has no where to turn.

Three, at no point in this scenario did I expect for John to STALK his newfound love (even Zack’s friend is telling Zack – Dude, he just stalked you – that’s scary!). I never expected for John to CHEAT on Zack. And I also never expected Zack to PUNCH John. I know the author treated all of these as sort of light hearted, more comedically over the top actions rather than give them the rightful social weight they deserve, but it was incredibly uncomfortable and if I hadn’t already not liked this story, these actions would have pushed me over the top.

Four, there is a lot of sex and the book is long so that means A LOT – which is ok. The author uses this as a tool for our MCs to get to know one another, but that is the ONLY way they relate to each other. When they meet in real life, it’s more sex and then “I love you”. I NEVER saw a real connection between these guys. They have some MAJOR hurdles to overcome – both with their own life differences and the fact that neither is in a good place on their own so neither is in a good place to “be there” for the other one. They are both still pretty “broken” in my opinion. No magic sex button to fix that.

Five, I didn’t like Zack’s entire treatment of his job. On the one hand I really appreciated it when he was defending sex work as an authentic employment that offered a service people needed. But, in reality, as his boss tells him, he doesn’t really feel that way. He feels “above” his callers and thus wasn’t great at his job. So it’s kind of a slap in the face. He didn’t know what else to do, but justified his employment to his friends as a needed service, but that’s never how it felt. It always felt a bit “dirty” – like he didn’t want to be doing it – so I never quite reconciled his and John’s relationship via that meeting – without making John “dirty” by direct contact.

 

So- while I thought the writing was good and found some humor here and there and really loved some of the secondary characters, I couldn’t help but be a little offended by some of the actions in this book pawned off as casual comedy nor did I feel a great connection between the two MCs that would last more than a short period of time.

I can’t recommend this and give it 1.5 of 5 stars

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Copy Generously Provided by NetGalley for Honest Review