Release Day review: Bigger Love (Big Love #2) by Rick R. Reed

release day review

Dreamspinner

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/bigger-love-by-rick-r-reed-9967-b

Blurb

Truman Reid is Summitville High’s most out-and-proud senior. He can’t wait to take his fierce, uncompromising self away from his small Ohio River hometown, where he’s suffered more than his share of bullying. He’s looking forward to bright lights and a big city. Maybe he’ll be the first gender-fluid star to ever win an Academy Award. But all that changes on the first day of school when he locks eyes with the most gorgeous hunk he’s ever seen. Mike Stewart, big, dark-haired, and with the most amazing blue eyes, is new to town. He’s quiet, manly, and has the sexy air of a lost soul. It’s almost love at first sight for Truman. He thinks that love could deepen when Mike becomes part of the stage crew for Harvey, the senior class play Truman’s directing. But is Mike even gay? And how will it work when Truman’s mother is falling for Mike’s dad? Plus Truman, never the norm, makes a daring and controversial choice for the production that has the whole town up in arms. See how it all plays out on a stage of love, laughter, tears, and sticking up for one’s essential self.

Review

So I really liked Big Love and fell in love with Truman in that story. I was psyched to see his story fleshed out! But….

First, most of the story – like 67% or more is really about Truman and other people including a pregnancy scare that takes up way too many pages for not a lot of return (that we see in this book).

Second, though I love Truman, I wanted to see his romance not read about him and though I loved seeing him triumph I wanted more with Mike… except Mike was 100% an asshole and I didn’t like him – ever.

Third, so since I didn’t get to really meet him and what I saw was crappy – I didn’t get invested in these guys as a couple AT ALL and I really felt like I didn’t want them together so when the ILYs jump out I didn’t buy them.

Fourth, there is a VERY creepy scene involving Mike and a citizen that is super gross – and when we find out who he is I was like???? How is that guy thinking he’s being a secretive closeted gay boy when he goes around in a vintage mustang that everyone identifies as his??? It didn’t make any sense and was very uncomfortable.

So… while I applaud Truman and still love him – this story was not up to his personal wonderfulness and I can’t really recommend it.

2.5 of 5 stars


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

Recently Released: Push (Music in Motion #1) by B.L. Morticia

Dreamspinner

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/push-by-blmorticia-9916-b

Blurb

Music In Motion: Book One

Malakei Oakley, aka rapper M. Prophet, is at the top of his game—but deep in the closet. Handsome, wealthy, and successful as the head of 315East Entertainment, Malakei should be on cloud nine. Despite his awards and a Midas touch that has every musician clamoring to work with him, something is missing.

Seth “Reaper” Davies is ready for stardom. His band High Stakes plays to small, packed houses all over Birmingham and London but has yet to get their big break. But Seth isn’t giving up on his dream—no matter what it takes.

A viral video prompts a message from a person he doesn’t expect—the talented M. Prophet. Their musical styles are worlds apart, and Seth has no desire to change his style to sell records. But his curiosity—and his attraction to Malakei—wins out.

Malakei can’t get Seth out of his mind. He also can’t come out without ruining his reputation. No matter how much he wants the sexy singer, his only option is to push Seth away. But he’s about to find out Seth isn’t one to give up on what he wants—and he might be just what Malakei needs.

Review

Ok – there’s a lot about this I want to say – and I want to be as fair as possible.

1) I thought there were parts that were very compelling – the bias against LGBTQ in hip hop, the reluctance to lose face, the authenticity of the lives led by both MCs and their people
2) I didn’t buy the language used by either MC – it felt too over the top and didn’t feel at all what actual people would say – either to themselves or their families/friends
3) I never liked Seth. Malakei was a sweetie and Seth seemed like an asshole over and over so I never got invested in their relationship.
4) The making out with the ex thing never sat well with me and I didn’t think it needed to be on page
5) I didn’t understand why Seth would have a secret crush on someone everyone thinks is straight and whom he doesn’t really even like musically
In the end – though there was a lot about this that had potential I never bought in and as a result I can say I just didn’t like and can’t really recommend it.

2.5 of 5 stars


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

Recent release: Traded Out by Samantha Wayland

Good reads link

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/41555624-traded-out

Blurb

Olle Svensson came to Canada to play hockey, but now he’s wondering if twenty-five is too late to start university back home in Sweden. Things started out well, but then his friend Jamie gets caught with a guy in a men’s room stall at a random bar. Olle knows he should have stood by Jamie, in the bar and the locker room, but he’d been caught off-guard. He’d thought…well, it doesn’t matter anymore what he was thinking.

Jamie Gallagher is in hell. He’d been sure none of his teammates went to that bar, but now he’s been outed against his will and doesn’t have a single ally on the team. He’s giving serious thought to giving up on hockey until the Moncton Ice Cats come to the rescue. Jamie never thought he’d be so happy to be traded.

The only down side is that Olle is coming with him.

A Free Read through Insta-Freebee from August 28th to September 4th together with other authors ->
https://claims.instafreebie.com/gg/FC…

Review

I love this series and this author (and hockey)! This is a rather long story for a freebie and is wonderful!

It’s got a fair amount of hockey in it but is definitely relationship focused. We’ve got a clueless Jamie and an adorable Swede who quietly loves and protects Jamie until he finally clues in!

There is a bit of smexy times a lot of laughs and a nice glimpse of some of our previously loved and adored MCs.

Highly recommended for fans of the series/author but is absolutely fine as a standalone!

5 of 5 stars

Retro Read: Take a Shot by Samantha Wayland

Good reads link:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/40382971-take-a-shot

Blurb

If you want to score, you have to take the shot.

Chris Kimball is good at keeping things to himself, but when he breaks his leg during a hockey game, he quickly realizes his biggest secret might be impossible to keep. It was hard enough being in love with his best friend and teammate, Tim Robineau, but when Tim takes care of him as he recovers, Chris’s feelings only grow stronger.

Tim is aware that some people think he’s dumb, but they’re wrong. He’s just an easy-going guy who enjoys spending time with his team and friends—especially Chris. Tim has dated a lot of women who couldn’t understand that, and figures he’s cursed when it comes to love—but he’s not. He just doesn’t know it.

Yet.

***This story previously appeared in the Changing on the Fly Anthology***

Review

Tim and Chris are best friends and professional hockey player teammates. Tim 100% identifies as straight and Chris has been pining for Tim for a long time.

If you’re a fan of the author, Mike and Alexi are on their team and have suspected that Chris and Tim are perfect for each other, so they help the relationship along.

Chris gets injured on the ice and Tim realizes that he has more than “friend” feelings for his bestie.

**

This was a really fun and super sexy read. I love Mike and Alexi so it was great seeing them again. Since it’s short, Tim’s movement from “straight to gay” was a bit fast, but… it worked. (It’s not necessary to have read the other books in the series – that just adds “flavor”!)

Highly enjoyable!

4.5 of 5 stars

Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

Retro Review: Crashing the Net by Samantha Wayland

Good reads link
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22797434-crashing-the-net

Blurb

Mike comes to Moncton wanting nothing more than to play for the Ice Cats and finally live on his own terms. He’s broke, bruised, and covered from head to toe in cheap lube, but he isn’t going to let that stop him. All he needs is a place to live and some time to figure out how to reconcile who he really is with who everyone wants him to be.

Dumping three gallons of lube on the new kid is just another day at the office for Alexei. He knows exactly who he is: a goalie on the ice, a prankster in the locker room, and a man who knows better than to share his private life with anyone. He’s let people in before and it’s taught him that if he can’t have what he really wants, it’s better to be alone.

Despite their apparent differences, an unlikely friendship grows. Neither of them could ever have guessed how much they really have in common.

Review

Hockey season is just around the corner – so I’m doing my own little homage and reminding people of some great books that’ve come out about the great sport!

(Previously Reviewed here: http://kimichanexperience.com/crashing-the-net-by-samantha-wayland/)

H.O.T. This book is hawt! Mike is a 22 year old, newly living on his own and playing professional hockey. He meets Alexi after being beat up after a “night on the town” and Alexi becomes his protector and mentor.

Mike has the hots for Alexi but could never imagine that Alexi might also be gay. Well… he is and he’s been jonesing for Mike big time.

When the two finally get together they burn the sheets! Mike is the big V but that doesn’t slow him down. Alexi kind of likes things rough, but so does Mike so there’s no problem there.

There is a minor hiccup when Alexi feels Mike needs to go out and sow his wild oats before settling down and the fact that Mike hasn’t come out to his rigid parents… but those don’t last long.

Overall this was a fast paced read, the first half all about the sexual tension and the second all about exploring the reality.

There was a fair amount of tenderness and sweetness, enough to keep me satisfied, and a very happy ever after.

I highly recommend this book and give it a 4.5 stars of 5.

Copy Purchased for Review

Audioboook Month: Breaking Point (Turning Point Series, Book 2) by N.R. Walker Narrated by Sean Crisden

Audible Link
https://www.audible.com/pd/Fiction/Breaking-Point-Audiobook/B07CMKBM25?ref=a_search_c3_lProduct_1_2&pf_rd_p=e81b7c27-6880-467a-b5a7-13cef5d729fe&pf_rd_r=FC1HTDMZ5BCRNNTMXB40&

Blurb

Book two in the Turning Point Series.
A fight for what’s right becomes a fight for his life.
As guilt plagues him, Matthew Elliott’s world begins to spiral out of control. The harder he holds on, the more it slips through his fingers, and he’s helpless to stop it.
Entering into the underground cage-fighting scene, he starts out fighting for what’s right. The deeper he gets, the more guilt consumes him – the more pain he takes for his penance – and he’s soon fighting for more than justice.
He’s fighting for love.
He’s fighting for his life.
The third edition has a new cover and has been re-edited, though no new content has been added.

Review

 

I had forgotten the emotional toll this book takes. This is not a standalone, and takes place right where book 1 leaves off.

 

NR Walker is great at giving us these complex and somewhat broken but not completely broken characters. Matt is losing it but can’t tell Kira and it’s killing them both.

 

Luckily – we find out that love can conquer all – but… and here’s where NR Walker does something amazing – Kira and Matt agree that their relationship needs WORK and that it’s not just enough to say “I love you” and everything is sunshine and roses.

 

I really appreciated that nod to reality with this story.

 

The sexual chemistry is still there, but it is tempered by the emotions and does not preclude real discussions.

 

Highly recommended.

 

Audio

 

As usual Sean Crisden manages to continue to impress the hell out of me with his ability to show emotions and keep all the myriad characters separate and the action from dragging and …. Well everything! He absolutely adds to the overall experience and this is highly recommended!

 

5 of 5 stars

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Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

Recent Release: Test of Valor (Valor #2) by Keira Andrews

Good Reads Link
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/39818669-test-of-valor?from_search=true

Blurb

They’re free of the White House, but can their forbidden romance survive in the real world?

With his father no longer president, twenty-two-year-old Rafa Castillo can finally be with ex-Secret Service agent Shane Kendrick. Shane’s given up his career for Rafa, a move his fellow agents question the sanity and morality of. Eager to get away from the questions and judgement, Rafa and Shane are building a new life together in Australia. Though Shane struggles with nightmares and his over-protective instincts while Rafa fights his own insecurity, they love each other more than ever.

Now they just have to get through a visit from the former president and first lady.

Rafa’s parents certainly don’t approve of his romance with forty-year-old Shane, and they’re determined to make him see reason. They don’t see how their son could possibly be happy settling down with an older man, and they question Shane’s motives. Shane and Rafa just want a normal life together—but when they must suddenly battle for survival, they fight to prove their fierce love can withstand any threat.

This gay romance from Keira Andrews is the conclusion of the Valor duology. It features a May-December age difference, sex on the beach, and of course a happy ending.

Review

I fell in love with these guys in book one but I realized, once I’d gone back and re-read it, that they’d been left in a very HFN sort of situation and this book does a terrific job of sealing the deal.

Keira did a great job of showing us how Rafa’s insecurities are still running his life and demonstrating Shane’s issues as well. Rafa’s parents are not as “pretty” as they seem and though Rafa forgave them pretty easily, I’m not so sure either of them deserved it – just yet.

Australia was an interesting setting and appropriate given the new changes there!

I found the developing relationship to be wonderful and though the added “life or death drama” was a touch OTT – it served a nice purpose.

Overall I highly enjoyed this sequel and recommend it to fans of book 1 – but not as a standalone.

5 of 5 stars

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Copy Purchased for Review

Release Day Review: Medley (Changing Lanes #2) by Layla Reyne

release day review

Good Reads Link

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/37556674-medley?from_search=true

 

Blurb

Sebastian Stewart was never Mr. Dependable; he was more the good-time guy who only wanted to swim, party, and ink tattoos. Until he cost his team the Olympic gold four years ago. Bas is determined to do right this time around—by his medley relay team and his rookie mentee.

Jacob Burrows is in over his head. The Olympic experience—from the hazing, to the endless practices, to the unrelenting media—makes the shy nineteen-year-old’s head spin. He’s trying to be everything to everyone while trying not to fall for his gorgeous tattooed teammate who just gets him—gets his need to fix things, his dorky pirate quips, and his bisexuality.

When Jacob falters under the stress, threatening his individual races and the medley relay gold, he needs Bas’s help to escape from drowning. Bas, however, fearing a repeat of his mistakes four years ago, pushes Jacob away, sure he’ll only let Jacob down. But the only path to salvaging gold is for Jacob to finally ask for what he needs—the heart of the man he loves—and for Bas to become the dependable one.

Review

 There was a lot to like about this:
Jacob – super adorkable esp. with the pirate stuff
The Olympics
Swimming
Alex and Dane

There was a lot that was …. Less great:
Continual teenagey angst – even though most of the characters are older than that
A lack of communication
Lack of steam

This is more of a YA than a NA story. I think if you go into it like that – with those expectations – it’s feels better. As an NA story it felt lacking.

I really enjoyed book 1 a bit more, but I’d keep with the series.

3 of 5 stars

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Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

Audiobook: Red Dirt Heart 4 by NR Walker Narrated by Joel Leslie

audiobookreview

Audible Link

https://www.audible.com/pd/Romance/Red-Dirt-Heart-4-Audiobook/B07B5G5PRT?ref=a_a_search_c3_lProduct_1_1&pf_rd_p=e81b7c27-6880-467a-b5a7-13cef5d729fe&pf_rd_r=QM848VD7ZYBJ22S9Y83C&

Blurb

Moving from a Texas ranch to an Australian Outback station was a life changing decision for Travis Craig. Though it wasn’t really a decision at all. Something in his bones told him to go, though he had no clue as to why.

Until he met Sutton Station’s owner, Charlie.

Loving Charlie shouldn’t have been easy. The man was stubborn, and riddled with crippling self-doubt. No, it shouldn’t have been easy at all. Yet somehow, falling in love with Charlie was the easiest thing in the world.

Loving him was easy. Living with him, teaching him how to love in return and, more importantly, how to love himself, was not.

But Travis knew all along it’d be worth it. He knew the man with the red dirt heart was destined to be his. Just like he knew the red dirt that surrounded him was where he was supposed to be.

In the final installment of the Red Dirt Series, we see Charlie through Travis’ eyes. We see how much he’s grown and how much he loves. We go back to Texas with them, and we see Charlie get everything he truly thought he never deserved.

Red Dirt Heart 4 is Travis’ story.

And this is the story of not just one red dirt heart, but two.

Review

(Book reviewed here previously:  http://kimichanexperience.com/red-dirt-heart-4-nr-walker/)

OMG! If you are following this series this entire book is just one big glorious epilogue to make your heart sing!

Told from Travis’ point of view, we see how our neurotic friend Charlie looks through the eyes of the man who loves him dearly. Charlie has come so very far… he is finally accepting the engagement… he dances in public with Travis… he will do the quiet PDA… he loves his extended family unconditionally and wants to spread that love to other kids (in the neighborhood and throughout)… he finally admits he is worthy of the love he receives and is willing to bank on it.

I won’t tell you the epilogue of this epilogue book but it’s so worth the wait!

This is an amazing end to an amazing series and I just loved it to pieces – 6 of 5 stars.

 

Audio

Joel is just magnificent. He moved me more than once from tears to laughter and back again.  He was such a fantastic choice for narrator and I’m so glad these two amazing artists (Joel and NR have joined forces.)  Perfection!

out-of-this-world-small

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Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review