Recent Release: Robby Riverton: Mail Order Bride by Eli Easton

Good Reads Link
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/39711956-robby-riverton?from_search=true

Blurb

Being a fugitive in the old west shouldn’t be this much fun.

The year is 1860. Robby Riverton is a rising star on the New York stage. But he witnesses a murder by a famous crime boss and is forced to go on the run–all the way to Santa Fe. When he still hasn’t ditched his pursuers, he disguises himself as a mail order bride he meets on the wagon train. Caught between gangsters that want to kill him, and the crazy, uncouth family of his “intended”, Robby’s only ally is a lazy sheriff who sees exactly who Robby is — and can’t resist him.

Trace Crabtree took the job as sheriff of Flat Bottom because there was never a thing going on. And then Robby Riverton showed up. Disguised as a woman. And betrothed to Trace’s brother. If that wasn’t complication enough, Trace had to find the man as appealing as blueberry pie. He urges Robby to stay undercover until the danger has passed. But a few weeks of having Robby-Rowena at the ranch, and the Crabtree family will never be the same again.

Damn, what a kerfuffle. If only Trace can get rid of the fugitive while hanging on to his own stupid heart.

Review

First, let me tell you how psyched I was for this. So psyched! Because Eli is one of my favs, this looks hysterical and one of my fav f/m tropes is the “mail order bride/forced marriage” scenarios.

Second, this surpassed my expectations by also being ridiculously touching – more on this in a bit.

I was wondering how the heck Eli could pull this off. Who would be fooled for long enough for this to work out and what would the long term game be. Well – she came up with a great plot and it totally made sense and kept me rooting for Robby. (If I have any complaints is that there is maybe too much lead in to the story and not enough post time with our couple as a couple… however that is a lot on taste.)

Trace is also another perfect MC for his role and plays it well. His family and their “secret” kept me laughing out loud! I don’t think it’s a spoiler to tell you that Robby likes to control things and has no problem brining Pa to hand – and it was one of my favorite parts of this story!

(All in all this was a wonderful “period” story from the old west that felt authentic and plausible in what should have been totally implausible. While I am eternally grateful for not living during those times, I believe she portrayed them accurately.)

Highly recommended!

5 of 5 stars

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Copy Purchased for Review

Friends to Lovers: Wow! (On A Night Like This Book 1) by Sean Kennedy

Good Reads Link

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/37952545-wow?from_search=true

Blurb: On a night like this, magic can happen.
Seven couples. Seven stories. One night. A night for love.

Mark is a respectable banker during business hours, but on a Saturday night he becomes the fabulous Allotta Moxie, drag queen extraordinaire. Allotta is everything Mark is not—confident, bold, sassy, and well-loved.
He wishes he had a quarter of her self-assurance, especially when it comes to Joel, the new hire at work. Most men run a mile when they discover Allotta hiding in his closet. She’s a lot to take on. So what will be Joel’s reaction when he meets Allotta for the first time? And more importantly, will Allotta like Joel?

 

Review: This is a really fun, original story. The characters were so much fun, especially Allotta. Mark works in an office by day, but he moonlights as drag persona, Allotta. There’s Connor – he and Mark have an awkward friendship, (they work together, hooked up but didn’t work out). And then Joel, the new guy at work. Mark and Joel hit it off, but Mark is afraid to tell him about Allotta, mostly because past relationships had issues with this part of his life.
This is the first of series of novellas revolving around 1 night – the 2nd and 3rd stories are now available and can be read as standalones.
Overall, this was a fun read!

4 stars out of 5

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Copy purchased for honest review

 

Mascara & Bandages (Mary’s Boys #3) by Brandon Witt

release day review

Dreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/mascara-bandages-by-brandon-witt-8652-b

Blurb

Ariel Merman is a new drag queen who’s already finding a family at Hamburger Mary’s. After a performance as Ariel, Zachary Cooper walks home in his makeup and is assaulted by homophobes. Zachary’s worry that the attack has thrown a wrench in his good fortune is eased when he looks into the eyes of his doctor.

Dr. Teegan Chau is a little lost after divorcing his wife and coming out of the closet, but he can’t deny the pull he feels toward the young man he patches up. Luckily, Zachary takes the initiative and asks Teegan out. But attraction is the easy part of their blossoming relationship—as they deal with an ex-wife and child, being a drag queen in a heteronormative culture, Zachary’s lingering trauma from his attack, and Teegan acclimating to life as part of an out-and-proud gay couple.

The challenges seem daunting at the start of a romance. Can Zachary and Teegan make it through the rough patches and take a chance on the love that’s been missing from both their lives?

Review
Continuing the theme of this series, we have Zachary – a drag queen – who gets HORRIBLY attacked on the way home one night while still in drag. He meets a recently out of the closet doctor and the two fairly easily fall for one another.

There isn’t a lot of relationship angst and the ex wife is a dear! – but there is a lot of emotional trauma for Zachary to work through.

While I think the entire issue of masculinity could have really been delved into in a deeper fashion, I appreciated that there wasn’t a lot of hang wringing and tears. The cultural issues Teegan felt could have been expanded upon, but I was actually glad it was dealt with so matter-of-factly.
(It was a little light on steam and I wanted to see more of these guys physically since that was such an important thing for Zachary.)

I thought this was a very romantic and sweet story with a nice amount of kick to give it some depth.

(I loved all the mermaid mentions and I pictured Brandon’s Christmas tree the entire time!)

Recommended!

4 of 5 stars

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Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

See Me: Lightning Tales, Volume 3 Audiobook by K.C. Wells, Narrated by Joel Leslie

audiobookreview

Audible Link

https://www.audible.com/pd/Fiction/See-Me-Audiobook/B071ZJG6GV?qid=1496853339&sr=1-4

Blurb

Adrian DeSoto spent most of his time in high school being bullied and beaten up, simply because he was perceived as gay. Always slight, effeminate, he was the perfect victim for guys like Martin Cavanaugh, one of the high school jocks. When it all got too much, Adrian was faced with two options, one more devastating than the other. Eleventh grade saw a new Adrian, one who hid his fears and pain behind a mask in a bid to survive.
Eleven years later, and Adrienne is one of the top drag acts in Orlando. She’s fierce, funny, and exuberant. A face from the past gives her a shock, and after that there’s only one thing on her mind – revenge.
Marty Cavanaugh has a particular kink. He loves it when a drag queen goes down on him. But that’s as far as it goes. He won’t admit to himself what’s under that tight fitting dress. And then he meets Adrienne and his whole world goes into a tailspin…
Warning – Contains men in drag, honey! You have been warned.

Review by Morgan

I really enjoyed book one in this series, and I haven’t (yet) read/listened to book two, so I believe this is totally fine as a standalone.

I love the different levels of complexity explored here. We get a lot of “gay guilt” but also this weird hybrid that allows Marty to feel “okay” as long as it’s a drag queen which is kind of the reverse when some gay guys feel drag queens aren’t “manly” enough for their “gayness”… or whatever. There’s a lot of crossing over sexual identity lines that are fascinating to explore.

Adrian/Adrienne is awesome! What a great character! I wish he/she’d have made Marty earn his way back with a bit more groveling, but I was pleased to see that hurdle crossed without a lot of angst.

I thought Marty’s self evaluations and movement toward self appreciation and forgiveness was authentic and moved at a good pace, but I do wish he and Adrian had spent more time together on page getting to know one another again as adults. There’s a big (6 week) time leap that frustrated me a bit and I wish we’d seen some of what happened during that time.

The birthday “gifts” were funny and sweet and though I wish we’d had more work up on page towards these events, they themselves were well done.

I’m not sure I’d have been as motivated to read this as I was to listen to it. Joel’s addition to the equation meant I was totally enthralled by all the flavor and color he adds with the addition of accents and other auditory pizazz which really brought these guys to light. Marty felt a lot more “flat” than did Adrian/Adrienne and I think listening to this helped him to “pop” more and feel more like a three-dimensional character.

Given that this is a relatively short story I think it met my expectations for feeling fully developed, but – as I said – if it’d been a bit longer I’d have felt more of a connection to our guys as a couple with staying power. Where it stands it still felt a bit like the main connection was their sexual chemistry and some lingering feelings from high school rather than a more mature and mapped out relationship between two adults.

All in all it was a fairly light read with a bit of emotional impact and a very good way to spend a few hours.

4 of 5 stars for the audiobook

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Review by Anna

 

Adrienne is a fierce drag queen, however her alter ego, Adrian, is not quite as confident. He is still haunted by his past, by the incessant bullying and loneliness in High School and when Adrienne spots one of her tormentors is the audience when she’s on stage, she can’t help giving Adrian the revenge he needs.

Marty, is not the same guy he was in High School, in fact he is one of the most lonely, sad and depressing characters I have read in a while, when we first meet him. He is a severe closet case, hiding so far back he can see Narnia. In his attempt at denying himself, he has developed a kink for drag queens. Men, but with all the outer trimmings of women.

This was a super sweet enemies-to-lovers story, with a long slow burn between the two main characters. I did however feel a bit let down, that we did not get to experience the first couple of weeks of their relationship. I felt cheated when the story suddenly jumped 6 weeks in time.

 

This is book 3 in the Lightning Tales series, and even if the story sort of works as a stand-alone I was a bit confused at the beginning as to Ric’s role in this. He plays quite a big part in this story, and I didn’t know him! I might have to go back and get his story too.

I listened to the audio version of this book and thought that Joel Leslie did a credible job with the narration, but I never warmed to his choice of voices for the two main characters, unfortunately. It was, however, not too bad, and the prose of the story flowed easily, the plot and the characters were engaging and interesting. I would recommend for an easy read with loads of queens!

 

 3.5 out of 5 stars

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Copy Generously Provided For Honest Review

Until You (At First Sight #3) Audiobook by T.J. Klune Narrated by Michael Lesley

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Dreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/until-you-by-tj-klune-8555-b

Blurb

Sequel to The Queen & the Homo Jock King

Together with their families and friends

Paul Auster

and

Vincent Taylor

request the honor of your company at the celebration of their marriage.

Review

(Book reviewed here previously)

OH. My. GOD!

This was SOOOOO funny. But also, unexpectedly touching, too. With some crazy smexy times thrown in for good measure.

(This is the third book in the series – the first two reviewed here: https://openskyebookreviews.com/?s=tell+me+it%27s+real+klune)

This is not a standalone – it’s full of “inside jokes” and things that only make sense if you’ve been reading the series all along. And it’s HYSTERICAL. OH MAN. I literally laughed out loud so often I had to leave the room so my husband could sleep. I snorted and almost cried, too.

Things I ADORED: The feelings. Yes – Vince can be sappy and so can Paul – but also Daddy and Sandy and –what? – Darren too? And the folks and – well pretty much everyone spills feelings all over this book. The GPS. That Bitch made me a fan of TJ from the first moment I read Tell Me It’s Real. It was one of the first times I felt the need to pull over and stop the car because I was laughing so hard. She’s back in this book and even bitchier! The Bros. O.M.G! When Corey and Sandy decide they can be bros and take a tour of the horse farm- I really almost peed my pants. The wedding. It was spectacular and wonderful and just as I’d expected. Jeremy and his father. Yes! I really want to hear about both of these men in a longer story. Daddy is a character I’ve loved from day one and I know Klune is comfortable about writing older figures (See Jack and Jackie) so it would be fantastic if we can see their story unfold from the beginning. Corey/Kori is another angst-fest waiting to happen – I can tell- but it seems like her Jeremy has a good, solid head on his shoulders and won’t be prone to any nonsense.

All in all this was so much fun to read, surprisingly touching, non-surprisingly hysterical and such a nice way to catch up to old friends and meet new ones! (The audio will probably make my head explode with it’s greatness!)

Audio

Gah! This was SOOOO funny. First you think it really can’t be more funny than reading it, right? Well – it’s different funny. In my head the jokes play out one way and in Michael Lesley’s mind another, so it’s a different funny and so you get two sets of experience! I adored listening to this! I laughed out loud and I found Michael’s special effects wonderful! There’s a crowd scene (you know where!), a Sat Nav voice (The evil bitch!), the phone, and more… all these extra touches which just make this already fabulous story rocket out of the stratosphere.

Favorite moment: Being Bros.  I couldn’t even stop laughing.  I was crying so hard!  I can’t wait for Kori’s story!!!!

So… if you haven’t already bought it – do it! But make sure you’ve read/listened to the others in the series first.

6 of 5 stars

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Copy Generously Provided by Publisher for Honest Review

A Taste of Honey by Ari McKay

release day review

Dreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/a-taste-of-honey-by-ari-mckay-8473-b

Blurb

2nd Edition
Boone Phillips needs a girlfriend—now! If he shows up to the family reunion alone, his mother will throw every woman in sight at him. But the only “woman” Boone trusts enough to ask is Honey, the drag queen alter ego of his best friend, Rob. It’s a crazy idea, but Boone is desperate.
Boone wins Rob over to the idea after first going on a “date” with him as Honey, but everything feels different once the plan is set in motion. Between nosy relatives, illegal moonshine, and the sight of Rob in white lace panties, Boone starts to wonder if he’s as straight as he thought. When an earth-shattering kiss sends Rob running, however, Boone learns some surprising things about both his family and himself. Now he needs to convince Rob to give him another chance, or his first taste of Honey might also be his last.
First Edition published by Torquere Press, 2016.

 

 

Review by Beth

This is a cute story filled with southern charm. I mean what can go wrong with bringing your best friend who is a drag queen disguised as your girlfriend to a family reunion? See with just that line you want to read this story. You won’t be disappointed.

The story moves along at a good pace. The characters, and there are definitely characters, are funny, warm and loving. I loved the acceptance the family offered. Kind of felt the ending was a tad rushed, but it’s a novella so really not too bad.

4 of 5 stars

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Review by Anna

I love stories about men in drag, I love stories about exploring your sexuality and I love a good fake partner story. So this story sounded like it was written for me, but I feel it drowned slightly in too much Southern charm, if such a thing exists.

Boone has been always been attracted to women, but has never found any relationship in which he feels as comfortable and close as he does with best friend, Rob. And as he starts to get a sneaking suspicion that he may be feeling a bit more than friendship for Rob, he isn’t sure what to do about it. The bisexual part of the story was nicely done, Boone did not angst too much about it. But I would have liked some more build up, some more sexual tension between the two would have been delicious, and there were great opportunities for it, with the classic ‘you are sharing a bed with your girlfriend’-scenario. But I guess the author may have been a bit limited with the lack of length of the story. 

Despite the huge drama potential here: Boone and Rob deceives the whole family for several days and the fact that Boone has not only brought home a boyfriend, but a cross-dressing one at that, this story is actually almost drama-free.

It’s really a story about accepting families and falling in love with your best friend, doused in unspoken quantities of sweet tea. Sweet and lovely, but nothing that will fill you up. It lacked a bit of oomph! But it was easily read and well written and I did enjoy it and would try this author again.

 

 3 of 5 stars

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Copy Generously Provided by Publisher for Honest Review