Audiobook: Crocus by Amy Lane narrated by Nick J Russo

audiobookreview

Blurb
Saying “I love you” doesn’t guarantee peace or a happy ending.

High school principal “Larx” Larkin was pretty sure he’d hit the jackpot when Deputy Sheriff Aaron George moved in with him, merging their two families as seamlessly as the chaos around them could possibly allow.

But when Larx’s pregnant daughter comes home unexpectedly and two of Larx’s students are put in danger, their tentative beginning comes crashing down around their ears.

Larx thought he was okay with the dangers of Aaron’s job, and Aaron thought he was okay with Larx’s daughter—who is not okay—but when their worst fears are almost realized, it puts their hearts and their lives to the test. Larx and Aaron have never wanted anything as badly as they want a life together. Will they be able to make it work when the world is working hard to keep them apart

Review
(Previously reviewed by Mary on site.)
In my opinion you really do need to read or listen to book 1, Bonfires, before starting Crocus. Bonfires is the story of how Aaron and Larx meet and fall in love with all the complications of joining two families. It ends when Larx’s eldest daughter Olivia comes home from college and tells them she is pregnant. This book takes off from that point. We learn that not only is she pregnant she also has Depression. Amy Lane handles this very difficult subject very well. There is no miraculous recovery just because it suited the storyline. We go through Olivia’s struggles to move out of the dark place she is in and Larx’s struggles as a parent to help her. At the same time his rock, Aaron is injured whilst on duty, one of his students is suffering from domestic abuse and is missing in a snowstorm. In amongst this two brothers need his support. There is so much to keep you on edge desperate to know more and wanting everything to work out. I love the dose of reality and practically Amy Lane has in these stories. By the way the book ended I am certain there will be a third book, can’t wait.

From Morgan: I absolutely agree with Mary. Even though the HEA for our guys happens in book 1, we don’t really see them interacting a whole lot together because – in typical Amy fashion – they are BOMBARDED with drama. Though the drama is still in heavy doses in book 2 – our guys handle it TOGETHER and that makes all the difference.

I was glad to see Amy confront the depression issues head on and not shy away from the less than perfect side of pregnancy, etc.

Highly recommended and can’t wait for book 3!

Audio

I just love Nick J Russo. I can’t say that enough. He makes every listening experience a joy and I always know I can depend on him to provide a quality character choice and interpretation. I love how he manages to give Aaron the laid back and stolid voice while in the next breath giving us the hyper and sometimes frenetic Larx.

Well done and highly recommended!

5 of 5 stars for both


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

 

Audiobook: Shared Revelations By: Andrew Grey Narrated by: J.J. Boyer

audiobookreview

Blurb

It’s the 60s, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to be different. Eddie Baronski spent his high school years looking out for his partially deaf friend, Jack Emmons. Now that they’ve graduated, they spend their free time at Green Bay’s newly renamed Lambeau Field, taking in the practices.
When Eddie’s crush, Johnny Grant, a new Packers team member, offers him a ride home, Eddie thinks it’s the start of a grand romance. But Johnny and Eddie may not be on the same page, and love – true love – sometimes comes from an unexpected quarter.

Review

This was both really sweet and touching and not very satisfying.

I loved the idea that it spans almost 7 decades and gives a teeny tiny glimpse into the lives of these two men, but as far as page time I almost feel like we got more on page time with Eddie and Johnny and Eddie’s fantasies about Johnny than the real love story between Eddie and Jack.

While I’m sure there’s a reason behind the whole Lambeau field being the center of attention – I’m not sure what it was.

What I would have wanted was more interactions with Jack and Eddie as boys, and then maybe some glimpses of their struggles over the years so that the culminating Epilogue would have felt hard won.  This could have been about being gay, being deaf, growing up in the 60s, being hurt by an old closeted lover…. but it wasn’t any of those things.

I was expecting to see good ol’ Johnny again or at least hear about him – but he just disappears and I’m not sure what the first half of the story has to do with the second half at all.  Or what it matters that one of the MCs is deaf.  Or that some of it happened in the 60s.

So, while I appreciated the premise of this story – I think it mostly confused me.

Audio

JJ Boyer was a narrator, not really a perfomer. He did a nice job reading this story but didn’t really add anything to my overall experience.

So, while I’m an Andrew Grey fan and I usually love short stories – I’d have to give this a pass.

2.5 of 5 stars

Morgan - Signature-small
Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

Steamy Romance: The Blueprint Audiobook by SE Harmon Narrated by Sean Crisden and Alexander Cendese

Dreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/the-blueprint-by-se-harmon-9446-b

Blurb

Kelly Cannon is satisfied with his life. He has friends, a wonderful family, and a great job. But his love life has reached a new level of pitiful. Why? Well, his heart decided to break all the rules. Don’t fall in love with a straight guy. And definitely don’t fall in love with your best friend.
NFL standout Britton “Blue” Montgomery has pressure coming at him from all sides. From his father, who’s only interested in Blue’s football career. From his coaches, who just want him to play without getting injured again. From the fans. From his agent. And from his mother, who has popped up on the radar after leaving his family years before. And now his relationship with Kelly is on shaky ground, and that frightens Blue more than anything.
When Kelly admits he’s in love with Blue, bonds are tested, and Blue has to decide what’s really important. He doesn’t want to lose the number-one person in his life, but the cost to keep Kelly close might be more than he’s willing to pay.
It’s a good thing his nickname is the Blueprint—it’s time to draft a new set of plans.

Review

(Book reviewed previously)

I was really attracted to this because “Friends to lovers” and especially, first time with a man romances are some of my favorite things. I’m not a big football fan, and luckily the football didn’t overwhelm the story.

I thought the original ideas were great – long time friends finally explore some sexual feelings for one another – but the execution never felt good. Blue is mostly an ass and I never felt a strong connection between these guys – despite their being friends for years and years.

The sexual component was sometimes really hot and somehow felt flat, too. I just never bought in to Blue’s change of heart and though I could tell he liked the sex – I didn’t feel the emotional connection.

I think fans of the author, fans of football romances, and fans of gfy/ofy will probably find this at least entertaining. The writing was good, it was the romance that wasn’t great.

3 of 5 stars

Audio
I love dual narrators and Sean Crisden is one of my favs, so this is an obvious win for me! I thought their VERY distinct voices really helped to emphasize the difference between the two mcs. Sean was lovely and growly and really suited Blue. Alexander’s Kelly wasn’t as “twinky” as I think I’d have expected but he did a nice job representing him.

Both narrators really tackled the steamy scenes well – and since there are A LOT of them – that is important.

Listening to this really brought home the fact that this is a HFN and I’m hoping the next book gives us a bit more of these guys- even though I know it’s about a different couple.

5 of 5 for the narration

Overall 4 of 5 stars

Morgan - Signature-small
Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

Audiobook: The Quarterback by Mackenzie Blair Narrated by Greg Boudreax

audiobookreview

Audible

https://www.audible.com/pd/Romance/The-Quarterback-Audiobook/B07C7MYH7X

Blurb

Matt Lancaster is the star quarterback at Bodine College, a small Southern Division II school with an ultra-conservative Dean of Athletics. Matt is also very much in the closet, and he thinks he’s kept his secret well hidden. Until his best friends take him to a happy endings massage parlor and request a male masseuse for him.

In walks Trevor Kim, a gorgeous, pierced, tattooed fellow Bodine student who does massages—without happy endings—to pay for school after his family kicked him out for being gay. Trevor takes one look at Matt and breaks all his own rules about mixing business with pleasure.

Matt needs to keep his scholarship, win the National Championship, and survive his asshole father. Instead, he falls in love. Trevor needs to accept that the football god is meant to end up with him rather than a perky cheerleader. It’s time for a happy ever after for both of them.

Review

(Book reviewed here previously)

Well, ‘tis the season for sports minded romance! This is one of three or four GFY or supposedly straight guys finding their gay side that I’ve read in the last month. Honestly, they’ve all been really good, so I haven’t minded one bit!

What I liked about this was that Trevor speaks up for himself and isn’t willing to be shut up in a closet. Trevor is also pretty unique and funny and as a character, was a lot of fun.

Matt is pretty typical, as far as jock characters go – though I found his willingness to try things at the happy ending massage place pretty funny.

There is quite a bit of exploratory/virgin sex , some pretty unrealistic team mates and some super awesome family members. The dialog was witty and fun and there wasn’t a lot of football to get in the way of the romance – which I appreciated!

I really enjoyed this and recommend it to fans of GFY/OFY jock/nerd romances.

4.5 of 5 stars

 

Audio

This might be the first time I’ve ever said this… but while Greg did his usual great job, I’m not sure he added as much to this as I was expecting.  I didn’t see a big difference between Matt and Trevor and I figured there’d be at least something what with all the potential for accents based on location, heritage, etc.

I thought he did great with some of the other guys on the team but I was looking for something a bit different for the two MCs.

It was still wonderful and amazing and a great way to enjoy this story.

Highly recommended!

4.5 of 5 stars

4.5-stars-small
Morgan - Signature-small

Copy Purchased for Review

Friends to Lovers: The Blueprint by SE Harmon


release day review

Dreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/the-blueprint-by-se-harmon-9446-b

Blurb

Kelly Cannon is satisfied with his life. He has friends, a wonderful family, and a great job. But his love life has reached a new level of pitiful. Why? Well, his heart decided to break all the rules. Don’t fall in love with a straight guy. And definitely don’t fall in love with your best friend.
NFL standout Britton “Blue” Montgomery has pressure coming at him from all sides. From his father, who’s only interested in Blue’s football career. From his coaches, who just want him to play without getting injured again. From the fans. From his agent. And from his mother, who has popped up on the radar after leaving his family years before. And now his relationship with Kelly is on shaky ground, and that frightens Blue more than anything.
When Kelly admits he’s in love with Blue, bonds are tested, and Blue has to decide what’s really important. He doesn’t want to lose the number-one person in his life, but the cost to keep Kelly close might be more than he’s willing to pay.
It’s a good thing his nickname is the Blueprint—it’s time to draft a new set of plans.

Review
I was really attracted to this because “Friends to lovers” and especially, first time with a man romances are some of my favorite things. I’m not a big football fan, and luckily the football didn’t overwhelm the story.

I thought the original ideas were great – long time friends finally explore some sexual feelings for one another – but the execution never felt good. Blue is mostly an ass and I never felt a strong connection between these guys – despite their being friends for years and years.

The sexual component was sometimes really hot and somehow felt flat, too. I just never bought in to Blue’s change of heart and though I could tell he liked the sex – I didn’t feel the emotional connection.

I think fans of the author, fans of football romances, and fans of gfy/ofy will probably find this at least entertaining. The writing was good, it was the romance that wasn’t great.

3 of 5 stars
3-stars-small

Morgan - Signature-small
Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

Retro Review: Timber Pack Chronicles (Timber Pack Chronicles #1) by Rob Colton

GoodReads Link
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20937536-timber-pack-chronicles?ac=1&from_search=true
Blurb

The object of Parker Montgomery’s crush is big man on campus Colton Butler, who is much more than he appears to be.

Colton has been watching Parker from a distance, patiently waiting for the day when he will finally be able to claim his destined mate.

When Parker is threatened by a rogue wolf, Colton’s instincts take over and he finds that his actions have consequences that threaten to tear his pack apart.

 

 

 

Review

This is one of my “oft re-visited” stories. I love how sweet Colton is to Parker and how loyal his pack is to him as well.

I love the instant connection between the two and the total immersion Parker gets into shifter life.

I could do with a little less sex. These are 18 year old boys and the writing matches that – lots and lots and lots of sex and descriptions of jizz and boners and ….lots of it.

The pack dynamics are interesting and I love the secondary characters too.

If you’re a shifter romance fan and you haven’t run across this series – check it out!

4.5 of 5 stars

4.5-stars-small

Morgan - Signature-small

Copy Purchased for Review

Holidays: Snow Balls By Tara Lain

Dreamspinner Presents
https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/snow-balls-by-tara-lain-9124-b

Blurb
A Balls to the Wall Romance
JJ LaRousse looks like a quarterback but acts like a queen. He’s trying to be proud of who he is—until a robbery at the famous Laguna Winter Fantasy brings JJ face-to-face with tough cop Ryan Star. JJ hears Ryan likes manly men, so he drops his voice an octave, colors his pink hair, and tries to pass as a football fan.
Ryan Star may be tough, but he keeps his sexuality to himself at work. He learned in New York that being a gay cop can be deadly. His attraction to JJ threatens his secret, but he’s finding it hard to back away from a guy who’s so totally his type. Then, during a ski trip and a confrontation with JJ’s biggest nemesis, all the façades come crashing down. In the aftermath, can Ryan love JJ for who he really is? More importantly, can JJ?

Review

I’d forgotten how much I enjoyed this! This is a really nice look at how we perceive ourselves and societal expectations without being heavy or preachy.

Poor JJ suffers the fate of his insides not matching his outsides and when he tries to “fake it” he learns – again – you have to be true to yourself.

In typical Tara Lain style this was sexy and fun and a really nice holiday read to boot!

Highly Recommended!

5 of 5 stars

4.5-stars-small

Morgan - Signature-small
Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

Audiobook: You Never Know by Mary Calmes Narrated by Greg Tremblay

audiobookreview

Dreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/you-never-know-by-mary-calmes-8692-b

Blurb

Hagen Wylie has it all figured out. He’s going to live in his hometown, be everybody’s friend, explore new relationships, and rebuild his life after the horrors of war. No muss, no fuss is the plan. He’s well on his way—until he finds out his first love has come home too. Hagen says it’s no big deal, but a chance encounter with Mitch Thayer’s two cute sons puts him directly in the path of the only guy he’s never gotten out of his head.

Mitch returned for three reasons: to raise his sons where he grew up, to move his furniture business and encourage it to thrive, and to win Hagen back. Years away made it perfectly clear the young man he loved in high school is the only one for him. The problem? He left town and they have not talked since.

If Hagen’s going to trust him again, Mitch needs to show him how he’s grown up and isn’t going to let go. They could have a new chance at love… but Hagen is insistent he’s not reviving a relationship with Mitch. Then again, you never know.

Review

(Book Reviewed here Previously)

Well, hell. You all know I’m a giant Mary Calmes fan and it pains me deeply to say – this book wasn’t for me. It can happen, I know, and I’m sure others will still love this to pieces because it’s Mary and she is fabulous after all, but this wasn’t one of my favorites.

Mary’s books are strongly character driven (for the most part) and as such you really have to love the characters to love the story. She’s done an excellent job of creating two unique characters and I really feel like I have a pretty good grasp of Hagen and where he’s at. I didn’t feel like I understood or knew Mitch as well, and that is part of my problem.

Hagen and his involvement with Ash gets a lot of page time and this relationship and how Hagen handles it didn’t sit well with me. I was kind of rooting for them to be the couple that “makes it” more than Mitch and Hagen. Ash seems infinitely redeemable and I felt like I knew him better than I knew Mitch so I was rooting for him 😉

While I wouldn’t call it cheating, I didn’t like that Hagen seemed to leave Ash hanging at the last minute – though I know he claims he wasn’t monogamous right from the start and I know that Ash was involved with others we don’t know about at the same time. I wanted their relationship to have ended way before Hagen gets re-involved with Mitch.

I never felt a connection to Mitch. Mary does a great job of showing the hurt he causes Hagen and how tough it is for Hagen to rally and move on – but I didn’t understand fully WHY Mitch acted the way he did – his family didn’t seem to care and I wasn’t really buying the whole “pro football” thing without more of an explanation.

Mitch hurt so many people and didn’t do nearly enough groveling to earn his way back into Hagen’s life – IMHO.

I worried for Mitch’s kids and wanted to know more about their mother and what was going on there. It made my heart hurt to think of them uprooted every 6 months.

The fact that Ash and Hagen have more on page times of intimacy (if not the full act) also felt wrong. I needed more time with Hagen and Mitch working things out to really pull for them as a couple.

So… all in all – this just didn’t fit my tastes in romance. It’s a blip and I’m sure others will love this – but it wasn’t my cup of tea.
(The cover is amazing though!!!)

2.75 (rounded to 3) of 5 stars

Audio

Greg is such a delight to listen to. He can add nuance and depth and really make a great story better or even add to a story that might need some help. In this case I think he helps to give this story a bit more substance – which for me helped it out.

I really enjoy his tone and voice quality and think this is an excellent way to enjoy this story.

5 of 5 stars

Overall 4 of 5 stars

4-stars-small

Morgan - Signature-small
Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

His Convenient Husband by Robin Covington


October 9, 2017

Entangled Publishing
https://entangledpublishing.com/author/robin-covington

Blurb

NFL football player Isaiah Blackwell lost his husband three years ago and is raising their teen son alone. He lives his life as quietly as his job allows, playing ball to support his family but trying not to draw unwanted attention. His quiet life is shaken up when a mutual friend introduces him to Victor, a visiting principal ballet dancer who is everything Isaiah is not.

Brash, loud, and gender fluid Victor Aleksandrov has applied for political asylum to avoid returning to Russia, where gay men are targeted and persecuted. He’s been outspoken about gay rights in his home country, and if he doesn’t get asylum, going back to Russia is a death sentence.

Their one-night stand turns into a tentative friendship, a relationship they both agree is temporary… until Victor’s denied asylum. Isaiah can’t offer Victor a happily ever after, but he can propose something that’ll keep Victor in the US and safe… marriage He just doesn’t expect his new husband to dance away with his heart.

Review

This was a bit more substantive story than I’d originally pictured. First, Isaiah is still pining for his dead husband, so that colors his “now” quite a bit. Second, Victor’s stance against Russia is a bit more political than just a story hurdle. Third, Victor’s “outness” is mirrored by Isaiah’s son’s own desires and it becomes something between father and son as well as between the two husbands.

On the one hand I wish Victor had been more Russian – besides his name there wasn’t a lot about him that felt like he was in fact from another country.

It sounds silly, but Isaiah and Evan and Ian – these names were all so easy to get confused over. I’d have chosen differently.

Victor and Isaiah’s chemistry was good and the difficulties facing their marriage was handled well. I did get tired of Isaiah’s reluctance after awhile, but I was glad when he finally does acknowledge that risk is part of loving.

Evan was awesome and Ian bugged me a lot – but maybe that’s just his job? I never warmed up to either MC as much as I wanted to and as a result I wasn’t that enthralled with the book. It was pretty good, but not great.

I’d recommend this to fans of bi-racial couples, “must get married” trope, opposites attract and single parent romances.

3.5 of 5 stars

3.5-stars-small

Morgan - Signature-small
Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

Back to School Month: My Hero Audiobook by Max Vos Narrated by Jared Bradford


Audible Link
https://www.audible.com/pd/Fiction/My-Hero-Audiobook/B0147LP8RC/ref=a_search_c4_1_7_srTtl?qid=1504115418&sr=1-7

Blurb

When he was 16 years old, Rich Miller saved a young man from drowning at his local pool. Little did he know that years later, as a senior in college and Olympic diving hopeful, Rich would meet up once again with Johnny Milloway, now a big football player – and when Rich says big, he really means “bear”. The shy jock remembers his saviour, and the two men become friends.
Johnny isn’t put off by the fact that Rich is gay. In fact, the more time he spends with Rich, the more curious he becomes. Johnny wants to know all kinds of things – what it’s like to kiss a guy, for instance. Only it doesn’t stop there…
Rich finds it difficult to believe that this relationship can go anywhere. Johnny is straight, and Rich isn’t prepared to deal with the heartache he knows will come his way in the future. He has enough on his plate as it is – the worlds are just around the corner. His father would rather watch a football game than spend time watching his son dive. What he doesn’t count on is Johnny, who can be very determined. And having Johnny in his life proves to be a catalyst for some pretty earth-shattering changes.

Review

Let me start by saying sports and/or college based books are not my first choice when choosing a book. They get a little angsty for me and so I normally avoid them. This audiobook was suggested for me to listen and review and I am really glad I did not let my aversion to this type of story stop me because it really was a nice, sweet and thoughtful story. Rich is portrayed as a man who is comfortable in his skin, knows what goals he has set for himself and is working hard to achieve them. Johnny is a younger man who is just starting out at college and he too seems comfortable with who he is and where he’s at in life so far. But college opens many doors for students, and Johnny finally gets to meet his hero, the person who saved his life many years ago. From there a friendship develops and seems to move on to a curiosity phase of man on man action. And wow what action, there was no hesitation on Johnny’s part!
You have the typical problem of coming out for Johnny and Rich feeling like he was used, but in the end a HFN ending that leaves you with a warm feeling.
Jared Bradford is a new narrator for me and I have to say his timing and inflection were spot on. The voices for each character were recognizable, and appropriate. You always knew who was speaking and what emotion was being expressed.

5 of 5 stars

5-stars-small

Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review