Categories
Angst Level Audiobook College/University coming of age Contemporary Gay GFY/OFY Heat Index Hidden Lovers Homophobia Hopelessly Crying Hurt/Abuse m/m New Adult Novel 140 pgs + (80K + words) Part of a Series Purchased Scorching/high heat

Smitten (SSU Book 2) Audiobook by Maris Black Narrated by Chris Patton

 

Smitten AudioBlurb

Dan Fisher is a fun-loving slacker from SSU with a passion for partying and dancing. When rich girl Avery Wakefield offers him a brand-new designer wardrobe in exchange for posing as her boyfriend, he reluctantly agrees. He hates lying, but it’s hard to turn down nice clothes and a chance to live in a historic mansion in Savannah for two weeks. What he doesn’t count on is falling hard for her mysterious, straight brother.

Julian Wakefield is as tortured as he is handsome. He keeps a secret close to his heart and everyone else at a distance. But now his sister’s new boyfriend is stirring up feelings he’s always been able to deny. Like an angel and the devil all rolled into one, he tempts him to take chances he never would have taken before. Too bad Dan belongs to his sister, whom he would never dream of betraying.

But…put two hot boys with an irresistible attraction in the same house for long enough, something is bound to happen.

Review

So we start at SSU with Dan, a friend of the wrestlers we met in book 1, but we quickly leave the state and head to North Carolina where Dan acts as the straight boyfriend to snooty Avery Wakefield for her cotillion. While there Dan meets her “straight” brother Julian and the two find themselves embroiled in a hot romance that was a bit expected when the dust settles.

It seems a simple enough plot and it was, but there is a hell of a lot of other stuff thrown in to make this simple story more (unnecessarily?) complex.

First, Julian is hiding his sexuality but it doesn’t take much for him to abandon that secret because of his obvious infatuation of Dan.

Second, there is a plot line involving a gay friend who ends up committing suicide and that impacts the group for a minute or two –but I’m not sure it was necessary or really handled all that well.

Third, Julian has a problem with alcohol and his new relationship forces him to come to grips with this in a way that was handled very poorly by Julian and mostly unbelievably by Dan.

Finally, there’s a Big Misunderstanding when Julian disappears that made me absolutely crazy in it’s ridiculousness. Avery wasn’t even freaked when her brother just disappears giving his lover his car and an expensive bracelet. Hello? Someone close to them just killed themselves, shouldn’t that act as a wake-up-call that the closeted Julian might be in danger?

So though I appreciated the attempt at making this story a bit more deep and complex than the previous two stories I have to say it didn’t work for me. I’m still a huge fan of Maris Black and am excited to move on to book 3, but this one left me feeling a little confused and unhappy.

Audio

Chris Patton rocks this narration! His southern accents are to die for and I loved listening to his interpretation of this story. It’s definitely worth a listen especially if you’ve been a fan of the series and of this narrator.

With that all being said, I give this 3 of 5 stars for the narration and the mostly good if somewhat hard to swallow story-line.

 

(Copy Purchased for Review)

Maris Black Presents

http://www.audible.com/pd/Romance/Smitten-Audiobook/B00YT8A8KG

Categories
adult - 18+ Angst Level Book College/University Contemporary Dreamspinner Gay Geek/Jock m/m May/December May/December Mid level angst Mid level steam/heat Novella 20-160 pgs (20k-40k words) Purchased

It’s Not Shakespeare by Amy Lane

ItsNotShakespeareBlurb

College professor James Richards is in a rut and feeling his age. He moved to northern California to escape heartbreak and humiliation, but so far the only good thing to happen to him has been his Boston terrier, Marlowe.

Then James’s toughest student sets him up with her best friend. Rafael Ochoa is worlds apart from James—chronologically, culturally, and philosophically—but he’s also beautiful, kind, and a shot of adrenaline to James’s not-quite-middle-aged heart. Together, the two of them forge a bridge between James’s East Coast sensibilities and Rafael’s West Coast casualness, but can their meeting of the hearts survive James’s lack of faith in happy-ever-after?

This is the prequel to You Can’t Make an Omelet from the DSP’s Halloween Howl Series.

Review

James has run from Maine because he got worked over spectacularly by his ex. He now works as a tenured professor in a small community college in California and he’s feeling each and every one of his 43 (bitter) years. Except… for his dog. He loves his dog and … well… he loves to teach, too.

Rafael is in his late twenties and hasn’t settled down because in his family they don’t believe in “the gay”. So despite his huge heart and hot body, he can’t find someone willing to be with him long-term.

When Rafael’s friend (and James’ student) set the pair up for a cute meet, it’s instant attraction but neither feels the other could possibly be in it long term.
But James can see the big picture and understands that sometimes life is the bridge where you meet and Rafael knows how to be loyal and true and sometimes those cute meets work out into forever.

**

I laughed when I read on GoodReads that this is the “prequel” to the teeny tiny short story from the DSP Halloween anthology. It’s wonderful (so is the Halloween story, but this is like 5 times as long!). James struggles so hard not to be a sad sack, but his heart is still broken and (more importantly?) so is his pride. When he sees the “underwear model” Rafi – it’s so wonderful how he’s willing to at least let go long enough to give it a try.

I loved that Rafi was so blunt and open with his feelings. We didn’t have to do the whole “men who won’t talk trying to figure their shit out” thing, because both men were fairly transparent. And… there were still problems to be worked out – real problems- and prejudices that had to be left behind.

The smexy times in this book are scorching and the humor is practically on every page but the most outstanding part of this story is the deep emotion and vulnerability that both guys show – pretty much from the start.

I loved this story very much and if you haven’t yet – I urge you to look it up!

(Plus – YOWZA that cover! Ai- papi!)

5 of 5 stars

5-stars-small

Morgan - Signature-small

Purchased for Review

Dreamspinner Presents

http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=2589

Categories
adult - 18+ Audiobook Author Provided Bi-Sexual College/University Contemporary Exploration Friends to lovers GFY/OFY Heat Index Humor m/m Mild level angst New Adult Novel 140 pgs + (80K + words) Part of a Series Purchased Scorching/high heat

Walk With Me Audiobook by Cardeno C Narrated by Alexander Collins

walk with me audioBlurb

When Eli Block steps into his parents’ living room and sees his childhood crush sitting on the couch, he starts a shameless campaign to seduce the young rabbi. Unfortunately, Seth Cohen barely remembers Eli and he resolutely shuts down all his advances. As a tenuous and then binding friendship forms between the two men, Eli must find a way to move past his unrequited love while still keeping his best friend in his life. Not an easy feat when the same person occupies both roles.

Professional, proper Seth is shocked by Eli’s brashness, overt sexuality, and easy defiance of societal norms. But he’s also drawn to the happy, funny, light-filled man. As their friendship deepens over the years, Seth watches Eli mature into a man he admires and respects. When Seth finds himself longing for what Eli had so easily offered, he has to decide whether he’s willing to veer from his safe life-plan to build a future with Eli.

Review

Cardeno’s home series is one of my all time favs! In previous books we’ve met the established couple, Eli and Seth, but now we get to hear their love story.

Eli is a young 18 year old when the story begins. He’s the son of the rabbi that Seth is working for. It turns out that the two had met even before this, when Eli was even younger and at summer camp. Seth had managed to really make an impression on the oh-so-horny Eli and Eli isn’t afraid to let him know.

Seth, who identifies as straight to begin, only sees Eli as son of his boss, and kind of a pest at first. Eli is over the top flirty and ridiculous with cheesy innuendos and come ons.
Over the years, Seth and Eli develop a deep and abiding friendship. Seth listens to Eli’s discovery of sex and his troubles in finding a boyfriend and Eli listens to Seth’s horrible wedding stories – there are so many of them!

It hurts to be rejected over and over, so eventually Eli decides to move on. He tries to date other guys, but not one of them ends up being “the one”.

After literally years, Eli finishes college and moves home to work on a PhD. Finally – Finally! Seth acknowledges that the “crush” Eli feels for him is more than that and the friendship they share can be so much more. He wrestles briefly with the fact that Eli is a man and not the woman he thought he’d end up with, but in the end his love for Eli and his willingness to explore lead them both to a real relationship of both friendship, super hot sex and love.

**

Eli is a hoot! He’s cheeky, brash, sometimes insecure and always honest. He never hides his emotions and that is truly refreshing.

Seth is a true nice guy. He puts up with so much – not just from Eli but also from his job! It was great watching their relationship grow- oh so slowly – over the years and when they do finally come together it is super-nova HOT!

Seth is surprisingly kinky and it’s wonderful to see Eli finally have the tables turned on him!

I thoroughly enjoyed this series and this ranks among the top as my favorite in the series.

(I love the new covers – this is my favorite – they are so damn cute!)

Audio

Alexander Collins sounds pretty much exactly like Mark Westfield… so I’m not sure what the name thing is all about but…
No matter what he calls himself, he does an absolutely amazing job with this! He does this great thing when there are phone calls or people in the hallway, it really makes it sound distinct and different like the people are talking from a distance. I found it really added to the story and made it seem even more like it was a movie or something. It definitely felt more realistic and made me even more immersed in the story. He does a passable Jewish accent ( although sometimes it sounded kind of Indian…) I loved this book and this narration made it even better! I highly recommend both the story and the narration!

6 of 5 stars

out-of-this-world-small

Morgan - Signature-small

Copy purchased for review

Cardeno C Presents

http://www.audible.com/pd/Romance/Walk-With-Me-Audiobook/B014JYSDYC

Categories
Angst Level Audiobook College/University Contemporary Exploration Gay GFY/OFY Heat Index Hidden Lovers Homophobia Hopelessly Crying Hurt/Abuse m/m Mid level steam/heat New Adult Novel 140 pgs + (80K + words) Part of a Series Purchased Sports Wrestling young adult

Pinned Audiobook (SSU Book one) by Maris Black Narrated by Chris Patton

pinnedBlurb

On his first day of college, all Jeremy Miller can think about is getting away from his hellish home life, making the wrestling team, and finally getting a real boyfriend. He’s sick to death of being used by closeted football players who are too afraid to admit they like guys. What he doesn’t count on is losing his mind over the gorgeous, golden-eyed wrestling captain who needs to keep their attraction a secret at all costs.
After earning a full-ride wrestling scholarship and getting accepted into an elite sports medicine program, Beck thinks he’s got it made. Now he’s a favorite for the national championship in his weight class. Life has never been sweeter or more predictable. Never mind that he’s gay and wishing he didn’t have to hide it. There will be plenty of time for a social life after graduation. Until then he doesn’t need anything to get in the way of his big plans, and that includes the adorable little wrestler who’s got him all tied up in knots.

Review

This is a complex YA/NA story about two wrestlers finding love in a sport that is fairly homophobic, but in this case their coach is dangerously homophobic.

There is a lot of sex in this – so I think for groupings New Adult is more appropriate, but the angst and drama and sometimes over-the-topness sometimes felt more Young Adult.

Beck’s is gay but closeted, doesn’t want to lose his wrestling scholarship. Jeremy is the new guy, super attracted and attractive to Becks, but having to fight against the fear of outing.

The first part of the book is their push-pull of attraction, the second part is dealing with the aftermath.

The second part is where (for me) it got a bit too dramatic at times, though I appreciated the overall statements that get made and the end result. (I won’t say but it involves the Coach in a very bad way and Jeremy makes some decisions that are really hard to witness.)

At the end we get a very satisfying HEA and our MCs manage to bring the bad guy to justice! (I loved the whole Batman/Robin switcheroo underwear thing – very clever!)

Audio

Well I just love Chris Patton so I loved the hell out of this narration. He’s so easy to listen to and I think this hits his “age level” spot on. Kind of young, but mature enough for some hot man on man action. ☺

4.5 of 5 stars

4.5-stars-small

Morgan - Signature-small

(Copy purchased for review)

Maris Black Presents

http://www.audible.com/pd/Romance/Pinned-Audiobook/B00YSSPEUQ

Categories
adult - 18+ College/University Contemporary Dreamspinner Exploration Friends to lovers Gay GFY/OFY Heat Index m/m Mid level angst Mid level steam/heat New Adult Novella 20-160 pgs (20k-40k words) Purchased

If I Must by Amy Lane

IfIMustBlurb

Joel Martinez, a practical and organized computer programmer, is roommates with Ian Cooper, a certified IQ-in-the- stratosphere mathematical genius who literally can’t find his own underwear in the mess of his day-to-day life. When Joel uneasily leaves Ian for the holidays, he ends up telling stories to his sister and discovers he feels much more for Ian than he thought. So when Ian calls, distraught because the only other thing in his life that loves him (a half-feral cat named Manky Bastard) is going to have to be put down, Joel hurries back home hoping that opposites really do attract.

Part of the Dreamspinner Press “Mistletoe Madness” advent calendar

Review

In this short story, Joel has a roommate, Ian who is a bit of a hot-mess. Ian has a huge IQ but not a great grasp on the mundane. Joel is a steadying influence and a great friend.

When Joel goes home for Thanksgiving it becomes clear to both guys that they mean something more to the other – more than just a body to come home to or someone to watch out for the laundry.

**

What I loved about this story – besides the humor – is the great development we see of Joel as a “clueless gay” guy. Without hitting us on the head, through a lovely demonstration of show (not tell) Amy exposes the subtle ways that Joel creeps from “buddy” , to “close friend”, to potential lover. In his language, accent and the use of the word “papi”. It’s wonderful! Such a short book but we get a great movement from just met through several months and I didn’t feel like I missed anything!

Of course, when we have these short stories, I am always sad to see them end and hopeful to see these guys again in the future – but it was a great look at this new “OFY” relationship and a definite HEA… even though… Amy had to give us some angst… poor Manky Bastard 🙁

6 of 5 stars

out-of-this-world-small

Morgan - Signature-small

Purchased for Review

Dreamspinner Presents

http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=1607

Categories
Angst Level Audiobook Bi-Sexual College/University Contemporary Dreamspinner Exploration Friends to lovers Gay Geek/Jock GFY/OFY Heat Index High School Homophobia m/m Mid level angst Mid level steam/heat New Adult Novella 20-160 pgs (20k-40k words) Purchased Sports Virgin Wrestling young adult

Superhero Audiobook by Eli Easton Narrated by Tristan Wright

 

SuperheroAUDMEDBlurb

It’s not easy for a young gay artist like Jordan Carson to grow up in Jefferson, Wisconsin, where all anyone seems to care about in middle school and high school are the sports teams. But Jordan was lucky. He met Owen Nelson in the second grade, and they’ve been BFFs ever since. Owen is a big, beautiful blond and their school’s champion wrestler. No one messes with Owen, or with anyone close to him, and he bucks popular opinion by keeping Jordan as his wingman even after Jordan comes out at school.

Their friendship survives, but Jordan’s worst enemy may be himself: he can’t seem to help the fact that he is head-over-heels in love with a hopeless case—his straight friend, Owen. Owen won’t let anything take Jordan’s friendship away, but he never counted on Jordan running off to find a life of his own. Owen will have to face the nature of their relationship if he’s to win Jordan back.

Review

Owen and Jordy have been friends since forever. Jordy is the arty, small boy to Owen’s large, jock, wrestling counterpart. When Jordy comes out Owen protects him and together they make a comic about a superhero who looks suspiciously like Owen with a counterpart who is suspiciously like Jordy.

Once, in a swimming pool, things between Jordy and Owen crossed the line – but Owen wasn’t ready for something like that, so it gets “tabled”. They remain friends, and in fact the three of them (Jordy, Owen and Emily – Owen’s long standing girl friend) remain tight throughout high school.

Eventually these guys face graduation and moving on to college. It’s at this crossroads that Owen must decide where his loyalties lie. Emily has decided on Smith – no wrestling there!- and her own career path. Owen had thought Jordy and he would be together forever, but when Jordy chooses something different, Owen has to come to grips with the fact that he can do without a lot of things – Jordy isn’t one of them.

**

You know I’m a huge Eli Easton fan (all my previous reviews can be found here:  http://kimichanexperience.com/?s=Eli+Easton or on GoodReads https://www.goodreads.com/search?utf8=%E2%9C%93&query=Eli+Easton), so this was right up there among the top titles of favorite books. The best part is that though it is YA, there’s an appropriate amount of hot smexy times, done just like Eli knows how to do ‘em!

The HEA and feels in this book are wonderful, as are the very well developed MCs and secondary characters.

Eli’s writing is always crisp and flowing, smart and engaging. She makes you laugh and say “awwww” every time.

“Say yes, Jordan,” he said, shifting closer.
“No,” I said.
Owen smiled. “Close enough.” And then he kissed me.”

I highly recommend this to any fan of the GFY/friends-to-lovers theme, don’t be dissuaded by the age, it’s just as hot as you’d want it to be!

 

Audio

Tristan Wright is a new narrator to me, but he does an excellent job with the narration. He doesn’t do anything over the top as far as voicing or acting goes, but he’s easy to listen to and does a nice job with the emotions and making the story come to life.

 

5 of 5 stars

5-stars-small

Morgan - Signature-small

(Copy purchased for review)

Dreamspinner Presents

http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=5193

Categories
Angst Level Book College/University Contemporary Dreamspinner Exploration Football Gay Geek/Jock GFY/OFY Hurt/Abuse m/m Mild level angst New Adult Novella 20-160 pgs (20k-40k words) Purchased Scorching/high heat Sports

Steamroller by Mary Calmes (Book Review)

SteamrollerBlurb

About the last thing Vincent Wade expected was for Carson Cress to ask him out. Vince is a dedicated biology student and a bit of a loner. Superstar quarterback Carson is larger than life, and he lives under a public microscope. There’s no way they should work. But Vince is learning that sometimes people just come steamrolling into your life and all you can do is hang on for the ride or lose your heart in the process. If their relationship can survive the fallout when an injury derails Carson’s future plans, maybe Vince can finally find something to believe in.

 

Review

Vincent is that snarky, obviously gay guy who kind of “reverse snobs” the “cool kids” before they can hurt him.

Carson is the golden boy. Never can do any wrong. Living the lie of being straight and playing football for his parents.

Carson wants Vincent, but Vincent isn’t going to make anything easy. He’s distrustful, and not eager to be anybody’s secret.

It takes an epic change in Carson’s life for Vincent to realize that Carson means it when he says that he and Vincent will be together forever… and like a steamroller, he always gets what he wants.

**

This is one of my first m/m books ever and it pleased me so much I’ve kept going and never looked back! It hits every single one of my buttons. Geek and jock. GFY. A very, very HEA. Humor. Passion. It’s so much fun to watch Carson court Vincent and for bitter and cynical Vincent to become putty in his hands.

Of course – it’s Mary – it’s gotta be amazing!

5 of 5 stars!

5-stars-small

Morgan - Signature-small

 

(Now we just need an Audiobook to make it perfect!)

 

 

(Purchased for Review)

Dreamspinner Presents

http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=3199

 

 

 

Categories
Audiobook Bi-Sexual Book College/University Exploration Gay GFY/OFY Hurt/Abuse m/m Mid level angst Mid level steam/heat New Adult Novella 20-160 pgs (20k-40k words) Purchased Virgin

Winter Chill Audiobook by Aria Grace and JJ Hunter Narrated by Michael Pauley

winter chill audioBlurb

Indie Walker started college with a basketball scholarship and a plan to stay focused on his studies. His roommate and best friend Daniel is one of the most popular guys on the wrestling team. When a power outage during a winter storm forces them to get closer than ever before just to survive the night, their relationship changes forever. Neither are gay but the physical chemistry they have is undeniable. Unfortunately, Daniel’s issues at home might be too severe for them to overcome.

Review

Indie and Daniel are roommates at college. When Christmas break rolls around a snow storm moves in essentially trapping the two in the dorms. They become closer to one another first as friends then begin to explore a more physical side of their relationship.

Indie is sure he isn’t/can’t be gay, though Daniel is more willing to embrace the idea. However, when something happens between Indie and Daniel’s evil step-mother to drive the two apart, the alone time makes both boys realize they want more from their relationship.

**

This is a very sweet, a little bit sexy, first time for both boys, GFY/OFY novella.
I liked that the boys mostly spoke with one another as you’d expect, for their age. I thought the step-mother thing was a bit too melodramatic to be believable, but it served its purpose.

I really, really liked the narration by Michael Pauley. He did an excellent job with giving the boys a distinctive flavor and the emotions and smexy times were handled very well.

(I’d like to say that I do wish more thought had gone into the cover.  One naked chest does not really explain a thing about the book.)

Overall a 4 of 5 stars for both book and audiobook.

4-stars-small

Morgan_sig

(Copy Purchased for Review)

To Buy

Aria Grace Presents

http://www.audible.com/pd/Erotica-Sexuality/Winter-Chill-Audiobook/B00U7TCKUW/ref=a_search_c4_1_1_srTtl?qid=1439754902&sr=1-1

Categories
adult - 18+ Angst Level Book College/University Contemporary Gay Homophobia Humor m/m Mid level angst Novel 140 pgs + (80K + words) Purchased Review Copies Scorching/high heat

In the Middle of Somewhere by Roan Parrish

middleBlurb

DANIEL MULLIGAN is tough, snarky, and tattooed, hiding his self-consciousness behind sarcasm. Daniel has never fit in—not at home with his auto mechanic father and brothers, and not at school where his Ivy League classmates look down on him. Now, Daniel’s relieved to have a job at a small college in Northern Michigan, but, a city boy through and through, when Daniel arrives in Holiday, Michigan, it’s clear that this small town is one more place he just won’t fit in.

REX VALE clings to routine to keep loneliness at bay: honing his large, muscular body until it can handle anything, perfecting his recipes, and making custom furniture. Rex has lived in Holiday for years, but his shyness and imposing size have kept him from connecting with people. Though he loves the quiet and solitude of his little cabin in the woods, Rex can’t help but want someone to share it with.

When Daniel arrives in Holiday, they are smitten with each other, but though the sex is intense and explosive, Rex fears that Daniel will be one more in a long line of people to leave him, and Daniel has learned that letting anyone in could be a fatal weakness. Just as they begin to break down the walls that have been keeping them apart, Daniel is called home to Philadelphia where a secret is revealed that changes the way he understands everything.


Review 

This story was such a wonderful surprise. I have to admit I was completely sold on this book based on the cover. Have you seen the two delectable men on that cover? Phew! I knew I had to read it!

Daniel is a great character. He’s tough, smart, ambitious and funny. All of those wonderful tattoos he has is a bonus! Daniel grew up in Philadelphia with his father and two brothers. They have a family run auto mechanic shop. Daniel has never really felt like he fit in with his brothers. He was always the smart kid into music and school and his brothers take more after their dad and work with him running the shop. His family doesn’t understand him being gay and they don’t really understand his love for English and school. He put himself through years of college with little to no support from his family.

Daniel moves to a small town in Michigan after getting a job at a local college. It’s a very small town where everyone knows everyone and Daniel is a complete city boy. Big adjustment.

Rex is a strong but quiet type of guy. Sort of like a gentle giant. He’s got muscles on top of muscles and he makes his own furniture to earn a living. He’s very good with his hands and really enjoys cooking. He’s a bit of a loner which is due to some tragic events that happened in his past. He has trouble meeting and talking with people. He has a cabin in the woods and he mostly keeps to himself.

I really loved everything about this story.

It’s told in Daniel’s POV which I absolutely loved because you get to know him so well. All of his quirks, his sense of humor, how he thinks and all his insecurities he feels about himself as a person. As someone being capable of loving another.

After finishing the story I would have loved even more if the story was told from Daniel and Rex’s point of view because Rex is just such a big teddy bear and I would have loved being in his head as much as Daniel’s. But I felt all in all that the author did a great job in showing the reader how Rex felt about his “issues”.

I enjoyed falling in love with Rex and Daniel as they slowly fell in love with each other. I absolutely loved Ginger and I really enjoyed the closeness that her and Daniel have. Daniel has a really crappy family who never made him feel as if he mattered. He never felt that his family is proud of all his achievements and his brother Colin is just awful to him. It’s no wonder that Daniel has certain insecurities. I love that he’s a scrapper and a fighter. I love his taste in music and his love of teaching and writing. I think what I liked the most was that every sex scene was written in a way that each scene was brand new…if that makes sense…like it wasn’t the same old same old…each intimate moment was written so erotically with Rex being very tactile and Daniel responding so whole heartedly.

So many things made me laugh out loud…the verbal dialogue between Ginger and Daniel…the fact that an espresso was named after Daniel. There are some really great secondary characters like Leo who is a young guy Daniel meets at a record shop and Rex’s friend Will who only wants to protect Rex from being hurt.

I hope the author gives us a book about Leo and Will. There were some sparks flying with those two. And of course Ginger who is Daniel’s bestest friend and go to person. Daniel’s brother Colin is a complete douche throughout the whole story, but I can see him being redeemed once we learn what his deal is.

The words are so descriptive and I was always “in” the story…I was there while they picked their Christmas tree… I was in their bedroom every time too!! Everything about Rex pushed my buttons…His body for one…I had a lovely time visualizing all those muscles…the fact the he cooks and makes things with his hands…His relationship with his mom…the fact that he moved around all the time and was extremely shy…and poor Jamie…that made my heart break for Rex…He is just such a great guy who wants to take care of Daniel… I want Rex!!

There is a HFN. There are a few things left in the air but not in a bad way. Will Daniel take the job at Temple? Will Colin ever tell Daniel what his deal is? Is there a romance in the cards for Leo and Will? I really enjoyed the realness of the book…and this will most definitely be a re-read for me. (An audio version of this book would be absolutely fantastic…I would love to hear Daniel’s inner thoughts on audio! )

Five stars!!

5-stars-small

Tracy - Signature-small

 

Copy Purchased for Review

To Buy

http://www.amazon.com/Middle-Somewhere-Roan-Parrish/dp/1634762126/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1439962802&sr=8-1&keywords=roan+parrish

Categories
Angst Level College/University Contemporary Gay Homophobia Hopelessly Crying Humor Hurt/Abuse m/m NetGalley New Adult Novel 140 pgs + (80K + words) Part of a Series Scorching/high heat Trans

Lonely Hearts (Love Lessons Book 3) by Heidi Cullinan

lonelyheartsBlurb

With the quiet help of his wealthy family, Sebastian “Baz” Acker has successfully kept his painful past at bay. But as the end of college draws near, his friends—his buffer zone—are preparing to move on, while his own life is at a crippling standstill.With loneliness bearing down on him, Baz hooks up—then opens up—with Elijah Prince, the guy Baz took a bullet for last year. The aftershocks of their one-night stand leave giant cracks in Baz’s carefully constructed armor. For the first time, the prospect isn’t terrifying.

Accustomed to escaping his demons by withdrawing into his imagination, Elijah isn’t used to having a happy herd of friends. He’s even less comfortable as the object of a notorious playboy’s affections. Yet all signs seem to indicate this time happiness might be within his grasp. When Baz’s mother runs for a highly sought-after public office, the media hounds drag Baz’s and Elijah’s pasts into the light. In the blinding glare, Baz and Elijah face the ultimate test: discovering if they’re stronger together…or apart.

Warning: Contains sex in a Tesla, sex in a cupboard, sex under a piano, kinky role play, and a cappella RuPaul songs. Just a couple of boys groping, battling, then finally loving their way to becoming me.

Review

This is book three in a series, and while technically it can be read on it’s own, it is definitely much better read – in order – as part of the series.

We met Elijah in book 2. He was the son of the crazed religious zealots who was a rent boy, homeless on the streets of the city for awhile, and then Aaron’s roommate. His folks got crazy when they found out he’d only “faked” being converted back from being gay and was, in fact, still gay – and attempted to shoot him! Baz, who we’ve also met before, got in the way of the bullet and sustained an injury but survived to add another scar to his repertoire.

Baz is the poor rich boy whose parents are the “Illinois equivalent to the Kennedy’s”. He was bashed as a teenager and is now crippled sometimes with chronic pain and eye difficulties.

Baz and Elijah had actually met before all the shooting when Baz had rescued Elijah from a trick gone bad and sent Elijah back to the evil parents.

Ok – now here we are today at Walter and Kelly’s wedding (woot!). Elijah is depressed. Baz is depressed. Elijah has a super crush on Baz and Baz is always “worried” about Elijah’s well-being.

They hook up. (Mild form of saying they have super-hot-monkey-sex in Baz’s new Tesla!) From there on the two are mostly on again/ off again lovers then boyfriends.

But… there’s a lot of drama. Elijah has so much guilt surrounding his “Poor Elijah” fund that he takes on a sucky food service job to allay the guilt (though he doesn’t need the cash.)

Baz is feeling unsettled because all his friends are “growing up” without him and graduating and now he needs to decide what he wants to do with his life.

Plus the media is in a frenzy because Baz’s mother and uncle are making moves in the political arena that put Baz and his life in the spotlight.

Elijah’s still in the news from being the victim of his crazed parents but he’s also now dating Baz and that isn’t good for the campaign – what with his background and such.

And… there’s Lewis/Lejla the almost trans friend Elijah makes while doing dishes.

So… lots of stuff and a little bit of the music scene too.

Eventually, they get it all sorted (of course they do!) and find their own version of the Disney Princess Happy Ending – and we get to see Laurie and Ed again! (Woo Hoo!)

**

Wow – I get it now. Even in summarizing this story I have to include many, many, many words!

This is a long story – 355 pages as compared to the 270 of book 2, but not as many as the 379 of book 1. There is a lot – a lot– of detail and a lot of drama.

But… there are a lot – a lot – of feels, too.

I really love Heidi Cullinan’s characters. They are rich, flawed – very flawed sometimes – real, emotive, charismatic, sometimes cantankerous yet charming, and very well developed. Even if you hadn’t read about them before, you know by the end of the book that you have a solid sense of each of these MCs as well as their cadre of friends.

She also has a way of taking these guys through some really awful stuff and making it seem manageable in a way that is realistic. No quick fixes or band-aids, but hard work and sacrifice. (For the most part – see the end for what I mean.)

In this book, we also have some seriously HOT sex, too. These boys can be DIRTY and it shows! But – somehow – it’s also very loving and revealing and tender at the same time.

I absolutely adored Lewis/Lejla and I hope s/he might be featured more in future works. Her story was so honest and heart-felt and really high-lighted some of the difficulties in actually becoming trans that get sort of swept away with the whole emotional process.

Of course it was so great to see our friends Walter and Kelly, Aaron and Giles again – moving on with life and being cute with each other. And the extra-special I about smiled my face off – Laurie and Ed from Dance With Me! Squeeee! I love that book and I LOVE those guys! I was stoked when Ed kinda put the eye on Baz but then said he had enough man waiting on him at home! Whoo-ee. Love those two!

I had just a few issues with this book.

First – the length. I really and truly felt it could have been shortened without losing any of the specialness. It felt – at times – like we were accounting for every minute of every day and every emotion either boy felt. A lot of the “agonizing in my head” stuff both Elijah and Baz did really could have been summarized because by the end I kind of felt bashed on the head with it. And I’m not sure that I needed to know every feature of the Tesla to appreciate that it was fancy and expensive. And I didn’t need to know every decoration on every table at the wedding. And I didn’t need to know about every movie made by Miyazaki.

Second- the ending. I’m going to sound hypocritical here but stay with me a moment when I say that the ending was too rushed. We spent agonizingly long pages outlining Baz’s pain and lack of direction and tons of time hearing Elijah’s self-deprecating and clearly depressed inner workings and in the span of only a handful of pages those two major problems are seemingly solved by bumping into the right guy at the right time and agreeing to eat more healthy and limit the cigarettes and alcohol.
Of course I’m being glib, but it felt that way. Especially Elijah’s part of the equation. I just didn’t buy that he would full scale decide he had everything to live for, reject drugs as a method of self-medicating, and embrace this new, organic, yoga-filled life when he’d been the poster child for self-destruction not 20 pages ago.
I think, realistically, long-term, intense therapy, AND some significant life-style changes over a long period might grant him some relief…

I mean, I really appreciated the sensitivity that Heidi shows around chronic pain (both with Ed and Laurie and now Baz and Elijah) and how a person’s definition of “sexual intercourse” can be different based on fulfilling different needs. So, maybe a bit more attention to the importance of in-depth psychotherapy for someone whose parents SHOT at you is warranted.

However – by large margins my complaints are pretty minimal in the face of how much I did appreciate where this book goes and the overall feeling of happiness that we end up with for these two very, very lost boys.

I highly recommend it to fans of the series and for those who might want to read it on it’s own I say Go For It! It’s really good, Heidi is a phenomenal writer and despite being a bit wordy, the ride is absolutely worth the time it takes.

4.5 of 5 stars

4.5-stars-small

Morgan_sig

This copy was generously provided by the Publisher through NetGalley

To buy

Samhain Presents
http://www.heidicullinan.com/Lonely-Hearts