Time to Laugh: Beauty and the Bookworm by Nick Pagent

Good Reads Link

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22052456-beauty-and-the-bookworm?from_search=true

Blurb

Mason Leery is a bookworm and he thinks he might just be able to get through life simply by reading about it instead of living it.

Until he meets Shane Beaumont. Shane is the opposite of Mason in every way, he’s beautiful, athletic, and lives his life to the fullest.

Sparks fly when the polar opposites come together, but it will be up to the bookworm to shut down his e-reader and go after the beauty if he wants to love someone outside the pages of a book.

 

 

Review

The author set this story up for laughs. Mason the stereotypical gay librarian, Twyla the flashy, slutty best friend, Gran a lesbian, motorcycle riding, foul mouthed grandmother and Shane the hunky, athletic, twin, boyfriend. And he does this all with Mason telling the story in a snarky, “can you just see this?” voice.

The first time Mason and Shane meet, you can’t help but laughing out loud! And the laughs just move on from there. Being from Portland myself I can see many of the locations highlighted and picture both the location and the events that happen.

The ending gives you a feel good feeling after a long string of laugh out loud moments.

3.5 of 5 stars

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Purchased for Review

 

 

Audiobook: Point of No Return by NR Walker Narrated by Sean Crisden

audiobookreview

Audible Link

https://www.audible.com/pd/Romance/Point-of-No-Return-Audiobook/B0792L8YZG?ref=a_a_search_c3_lProduct_1_2&pf_rd_p=e81b7c27-6880-467a-b5a7-13cef5d729fe&pf_rd_r=GZ1XXQ7Y4Y0W3YG0FZ8A&

Blurb

Book one in the Turning Point series.
Matthew Elliot is one of LA’s best detectives. He’s been labeled the golden boy of the Fab Four: a team of four detectives who’ve closed down drug-rings all over the city. He’s smart, tough and exceptionally good at his job. He’s also a closeted gay man.
Enter Kira Takeo Franco, the new boxing coach at the gym. Matthew can’t deny his immediate attraction to the man his fellow cops know as Frankie. But in allowing himself to fall in love with a man known to his colleagues, Matthew risks outing them both.
Matt and Kira work to keep their relationship and private lives hidden from Matt’s very public life, fearing it would be detrimental to their careers. But it’s not the other cops who Matthew should be worried about finding out his deepest, darkest secret…. It’s the bad guys.
Third edition – has new cover and has been re-edited, though no new content has been added.

Review

I was so glad to see this FINALLY come to audiobook. This was my first exposure to this wonderful author and it hooked me in right from the start!

 

What I love about this is the classic story line: two people who shouldn’t be attracted to one another but can’t escape it. A slow burn dance of a romance as things gradually become physical. A deepening of the relationship over time capped with a dangerous situation which eventually pushes their hands and makes them really evaluate their priorities.

 

This is also an amazing story about coming out and finding your true self. It has some cultural notes in it as well as some disabilities. And we also get to learn something about fighting!

 

NR Walker isn’t afraid to make her guys really, really work for their HEA and even after things “look” happy we still see the “real life” struggles.

 

The chemistry between Kira and Matt is electric and the danger had me on the edge of my seat!

 

I loved Sean’s narration and thought he was a perfect choice for this. He does an amazing job narrating this and handling the various accents. He is a joy to listen to and I can highly recommend this!

5 of 5 stars

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Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

The Perfect Sub
( Eagle Iron Gym #2
) Audiobook by Sean Michael Narrated by Jeff Gelder


audiobookreview

Dreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/the-perfect-sub-by-sean-michael-8680-b

Blurb

While new couple Tide and Lance spend time deepening their relationship and further introducing Lance to the joys and vagaries of being a sub, established couple Tyrone and Bran discover that they still have a thing or two to learn as well.

A new job finds Bran run off his feet, and a visit to the eye doctor leads to the discovery of a brain tumor. Bran is terrified. He strives to be the perfect sub for his beautiful master and sees the tumor as a personal failing as he tries to handle every last phone call, e-mail, and text that comes in, no matter how early or late. When Tyrone finally finds out about the tumor Bran’s been keeping a secret, he realizes he’s been taking his sub for granted, and he works to rediscover his boy and their relationship. Of course, that’s easier said than done given that Bran’s job is taking up all his time and he would rather pretend the tumor just doesn’t exist than actually deal with it.

It’s going to take all of Tyrone’s prowess as a master to help guide Bran through these troubled waters.

Review

I initially started listening to This audiobook but realised that it would be better if I listened to book 1 first, The new boy, book 1 in The Eagle Iron Gym series. The first two chapters focus on Tide and Lance from book 1, Tyrone and Bran are a more established couple and come more fully into the story from chapter 3. From then on the focus swaps between the two couples. This can be listened to as a standalone but I wanted the context from book 1.

Sean Michael always writes really hot loving scenes. Master Tide continues to train Lance and build his self confidence. Whereas it’s more about the dynamics of Tyrone and Bran’s relationship. Tyrone and Bran love each other a lot but somewhere along the way Bran convinced himself he has to be perfect and when Tyrone realises this he blames himself. Tyrone is such a caring Master and he is very creative with punishments

Jeff Gelder is not a favourite narrator of mine. He comes across as sounding a bit robotic and doesn’t really bring out the emotions or excitement of stories. This one is no exception. I wasn’t really convinced by the voice he chose for Master Tyrone.

4.5 of 5 stars

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Copy Provided for Honest Review

 

 

Slim Chance 
by Jeff Erno


release day review

Dreamspinner Presents
https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/slim-chance-by-jeff-erno-8613-b

Blurb
Can a man improve his appearance without losing everything good inside him?

Oliver has always been obese and suffered from a negative body image. He’s tried diets before, failing time after time, but he vows this time will be different. As he begins an exercise program, his confidence increases—and so does his interest in his friend and coworker Benjy. Though they bonded long ago over a love of online gaming, it takes a lot of courage for Oliver to share his new body and be intimate with another man.

A passionate romance blooms, but as Oliver nears his goal, it seems he doesn’t need Benjy—with his chronic anxiety and troubled past—now that he’s made attractive new friends at the gym. But not all relationships are equal, and Oliver realizes that Benjy, who loved and supported him when no one else did, is more than a reminder of his old life.

A pleasing appearance means nothing when it hides a lonely, empty heart, and if Oliver cannot decide what’s truly important, he’ll lose what he cherishes most

Review

This is very much a story of self awareness and self esteem. Oliver makes a firm decision to lose weight and Benjy supports him. At the beginning Oliver is so judgmental not only of himself but also of Benjy. He values fitting in with what he views as being socially acceptable, not being overweight and not having anxiety problems etc.

Oliver and Benjy’s friendship develops further to hesitant lovers and a relationship. It is disappointing that whilst Benjy tries to understand and help Oliver, Oliver doesn’t try to do the same about Benjy’s issues. At those times Oliver is not a likable character. Several times towards the end I exasperatedly thought ‘oh Oliver’ but he comes good in the end.

I’m not sure how I feel about this book. It’s a good moral story. Treat others as you want to be treated and not to judge others. I liked the blurb and the idea of the story but something was missing and I can’t put my finger on it.

3.5 of 5 stars

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Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review
 

The Dom’s Way (Iron Eagle Gym Book 5) 
by Sean Michael


release day review

Dreamspinner Presents
https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/the-doms-way-by-sean-michael-8588-b

Blurb

Neal and Way from *The Closet Boy* are back, only now they’re Dom and sub, and exploring their relationship through the lifestyle. Way is eager to learn everything, and more in love with his master every day. For his part, Neal can’t believe how lucky he is to have found such an innocent but sensual boy.

As they learn what works best for them both, Way has trouble obeying some of the rules Neal imposes. Like the no touching himself rule. Neal wants Way to learn control, but Way, after so long holding back, has trouble not indulging. The two men must work together to find the balance that brings them each the most satisfaction and happiness

 

 

Review

The Doms Way carries on from the end of The Closet Boy(Iron Eagle Gym #4) so I recommend reading it first.

Sean Michael writes such sensuous and loving stories and this is no exception. Way is very new to the BDSM lifestyle and wants to learn. Neil is a very caring master and takes everything very slowly. The scenes between them captures the feelings and emotions of the scene not just the physical. Sometimes my attention wandered and I never expected to say that whilst reading BDSM! Having said that it was nice to read a story where the Master took the time to explain as they explored together. Way’s sheltered and strict religious upbringing means he has no knowledge of BDSM and very little awareness of his own sensuality. They have a beautiful relationship.

The story comprises mainly of one scene following another with short bits in between where Way gets to know Robin and understand more about being a Sub. To be honest by halfway through I started to skim over some of the scenes. Too much of a good thing and I became blasé about it. A bit more variety came into the second half when they spent time with the other Masters and their subs. I have mixed feelings about this story. I really liked the relationship side and Way is such a sweet boy. But I had a bit of a struggle sticking with it halfway and then it picked up again for me.

3 of 5 stars

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Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

 

Closet Boy
 (Iron Eagles Gym Book 4) by Sean Michael

Dreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/the-closet-boy-by-sean-michael-7805-b

Blurb

Way’ra Bernard is only twenty years old when his parents kick him out of the house. He has been brought up to believe being gay is wrong and he is going to go to hell for it. He tried very hard not to be gay but couldn’t change the way he felt. Now he’s living furtively in a closet on the third floor of the place he’s working as a janitor—the Iron Eagle Gym.

Neal McPherson is an unattached Dom in his midtwenties and a member of the gym. One evening after working out, he notices Way’ra on the stairs, and he’s immediately attracted and intrigued, so he asks Way’ra out. Unable to come up with a reason to refuse, and also interested in Neal, Way’ra accepts.

There are a lot of obstacles to the relationship they attempt to build after their date, not least of which is Way’ra’s upbringing and his lingering doubts about the kinky sex Neal enjoys. But with patience and persistence, Neal might convince Way’ra not only to accept himself, but to loosen his inhibitions enough to explore and find a happy ending together.

Review

Sean Michael writes such loving and intimate BDSM books. Way is homeless and lives in the closet at Iron Eagle Gym where he works. He has been doing this for awhile but it is only Neal that notices him and discovers his secret. Way is innocent and unworldly but he is intelligent. Neil is attracted to Way but recognises that he must be gentle and patient. This story is the slow wooing of Way by Neil. It is a sweet romance and a careful exploration of BDSM. Neil can see that Way is a Sub and the journey is Way understanding what their D/S relationship would be like and learning about himself.
Looking forward to reading The Doms Way where Neil and Way explore their new D/S relationship further.
4 of 5 stars

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Copy Purchased For Review

 

Before It’s too Late (Troubled Heart Book 3) by Savannah Brooks

Amazon Link

https://www.amazon.com/Before-Late-Troubled-Hearts-Book-ebook/dp/B06X99R3MK/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1496342319&sr=1-1&keywords=before+it%27s+too+late+brooks

Free on KU!

Blurb

Zach Rivas is a family man, or at least, he wants to be. It’s what he’s wanted for years, and it was within his grasp until a couple months ago, when his fiancé broke their engagement. Now, Zach is more lost and alone than ever before, because he’s started to believe that what he wants is out of reach or perhaps, simply not meant to be.

Cael Manning didn’t mean to fall in love with his best friend. It just sort of happened. No big deal, right? Wrong. Zach isn’t gay, and Cael isn’t foolish enough to hope that the closeness they share as friends could ever be anything more.

When a tragic car accident leaves Zach’s sister in the hospital indefinitely, Zach is faced with having to care for his sixteen-month old niece, Taylor. Cael, of course, is right there to help without a second thought. Spending quality time with Taylor and Cael gives Zach a glimpse of the family life he’s wanted for so long. For Cael, unexpected, intimate moments tempt him to reveal how he really feels, but Zach and Taylor are his priority, and he can’t burden Zach anymore than he already is right now with the truth.

Emotionally stressed, Zach leans on Cael more and more, and slowly comes to realize that his best friend may be the person he’s been looking for all along. Even that realization hurts, however, because Cael has always made it perfectly clear that he doesn’t want a relationship with anyone, ever.

Everyone else can see that Zach and Cael’s happiness is with each other. If they could only see it for themselves, they each might just get everything they’ve always wanted.

Although this book is part of the Troubled Hearts series, it has new main characters with their own HEA and can be read as a standalone.

Review
With a slow burn and everyone else seeing the obvious, this was a sweet story of friends to lovers. With everyone dropping hints to Zach it still takes him a while to figure out what everybody is saying. Then he’s afraid to act on it, not because he has never been with a guy before, but best friend Cael has said he will never settle down. That and the chance of running a 10 year friendship. I loved Cael’s unflagging support to Zach. I think if he hadn’t been in love with Zach all of this time, he still would have been there for him through the tragedy and upheaval we see throughout the story. I like that once Zach realizes what’s right in front of him, he doesn’t freak out or run.

This is a great story to find a hammock and a glass of something, curl up and read for the afternoon.

4.5 of 5 stars

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Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

The Luckiest Master
Audiobook by Sean Michael Narrated by Jeff Gelder


audiobookreview

Dreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/the-luckiest-master-by-sean-michael-8495-b

Blurb

Iron Eagle Gym Series

When Master Damien Richardson (Day to his friends) takes over the front desk manager job at the Iron Eagle Gym, he knows he’s going to need an assistant. But finding the right person for the job is harder than he thought it would be. When he meets Saw, he thinks he’s found the solution to all his problems, and maybe something more.

Sawyer Whitehead lost his master to a tragic car accident some years ago, and since then one opportunity after another has gone sour on him. Thoroughly convinced he’s cursed and a jinx to everything and everyone he touches, he refuses to officially become Day’s assistant because he knows that as soon as he does, something terrible will happen. He’s even more determined not to get involved with Day, despite his attraction, because it would kill him to be responsible for tragedy befalling the lovely man.

Day must convince Saw that he’s not cursed and that together, they can face any challenge that comes their way—in both their professional and personal partnerships

Review

The Luckiest Master is the third book in the Iron Eagle Gym series. I haven’t read (or listened) to the previous two books. Some characters from previous books are mentioned, but I didn’t find it hard to understand their context in this story.
Master Dillon (Day) is the new desk manager and needs an assistant. Sawyer (Saw) is a service sub who lost his Master In a car crash and now believes he is a jinx. Day is determined to show Saw he is wrong and slowly convinces Saw to spend more and more time with him. I liked Master Day he is gentle with Saw yet firm when needed. I lost count of how many times “Master” was said, there is no doubt this story is about a Master! You do get the sense that Saw has been emotionally hiding from life, not getting too close to anyone in case his curse affects them. When they get together it’s sweet and hot.

4 of 5 stars
Audio

The narration took awhile to get used to, I found it to be stilted and it affected the flow of the story. There were times I had go back to clarify what I heard.

Sean Michael knows how to write really hot sexy scenes. The problem I had was the narration didn’t reflect excitement and passion. It came across sounding flat and didn’t make me stop and listen.

2.5 of 5 stars

Overall
3.25 (rounded to 3.5 ) of 5 stars

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Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

Fair Catch (Players of LA #2) by Leigh Carman

release day review

Dreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/fair-catch-by-leigh-carman-8296-b

Blurb

Two men.

One night of passion.

They never expected to see each other again.

They were wrong.

Tobias Bennett is a quiet and unassuming man who teaches yoga and enjoys parkour. Though he is proud to be gay, an abusive relationship with a domineering man has left Tobias wary of romance, and he keeps to himself in his tidy Los Angeles apartment.

Pro football player Sullivan Archer is Tobias’s complete opposite: loud, brash, fond of the spotlight… and deep in the closet. When a hamstring injury sends Van to Tobias as part of his therapy, neither of them is expecting to come face-to-face with his one-night stand. Now they’re stuck together throughout Van’s healing process, and the close proximity will force them to deal with some hard truths. For Tobias, it’s realizing his hookup is a celebrity. For Van, it means accepting that he likes Tobias more than he wanted. They’ll both have to acknowledge that if they choose to pursue a relationship, their lives will change in big ways.

*The Players of LA Series are standalones, but characters from each book to appear in subsequent novels. It is recommended to read in order to maximize the reading experience*

Review

(Book 1 reviewed here:  https://openskyebookreviews.com/match-point-by-leigh-carman/)

There were parts of this story that I really liked. I loved the Parkour, the Yoga, and for awhile I was thinking that Archer would be learning a new “sport” or vice versa and our MCs would have some interesting conversations and activities surrounding that. But… those things were almost just teasers, and they really didn’t have much to do with the main story.

The main story was about being in the closet and being victimized by an awful ex.

I really felt that Toby was way too trusting and accepted Archer and his closet far too easily considering how poorly he was treated by Austin, the ex. If your whole life was spent in hiding by a malicious ex, I think the LAST thing you’d do is sign up to be someone’s secret. It is different abuse, but being constantly denied by someone professing to love you is abuse of it’s own.

The relationship path was so full of angst, that by the time we’d had not one or two but three or four “kiss and make up” scenes, I was getting pretty over it and none of it made me think highly of either MC.

There were just too many threads in this story that didn’t get enough attention and some gaping holes that left me feeling like the story wasn’t as complete as it could have been. I’d have loved a few less “reunion scenes” and some more time developing any of the many interests Toby had or finding out more about Archer – his past, his family, anything.

Toby was a genius, yoga guy, victim, parkour enthusiast and had a (very nosy) best friend/neighbor. His interactions with his ex were hideous and he continued to do things that involved him and just plain didn’t make sense. I didn’t really connect all that well with him.

As far as the relationship between Toby and Archer – besides sex and make up sex – I didn’t see them interact or bond in any meaningful way. Both of them ran hot then cold and it was incredibly frustrating.

While I loved the whole “coming out to the world” as a concept, it felt sort of anti-climactic by that point. The violence with the ex overshadowed anything and was immensely unsatisfying as far as resolutions go.

I really enjoyed book 1 and will definitely look into book 2 – especially if it ends up being with Leo and Viktor and HOCKEY! – but this didn’t work so well for me.

As always, I recommend looking at other reviews – other people enjoyed this a lot – so I do think it has an audience. It just wasn’t for me.

The writing was fine and it had a lot of potential, so I’m going to give it a 2.75 (rounded to 3) of 5 stars for effort and leave it at that.

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Copy Generously Provided by Publisher For Honest Review

Working It (Ringside Romance #1) by Christine d’Abo

release day review

(tomorrow)

Riptide Presents

http://riptidepublishing.com/titles/working-it

Blurb

Nolan Carmichael is getting a fresh start—new career, new company, new life. The only problem is, he liked his old life just fine . . . until an accident robbed him of his health, his job, his self-confidence, and his ability to go out in public without having anxiety attacks.

Zack Anderson has scared away his last four administrative assistants. So when he hires Nolan on a whim, he’s not too worried, since Nolan will be gone within the week anyway. Two weeks later, Nolan has made himself indispensable, completely reforming Zack’s schedule, life . . . and libido.

But in a company already torn by internal politics, one wrong step could ruin both their careers. And not only are they working to reopen Ringside Gym, Zack’s retreat when he was a troubled teen, but they also can’t help themselves falling for each other. If only the rest of their lives could go as smoothly as things do when they’re alone together.

Review

This is an eclectic story that has me scratching my head a bit. At first it looked like it was going to be a mix between a hurt/comfort and nerd/jock type romance. To a certain extent it is. Nolan is recovering from a severe car accident that has left him with PTSD like symptoms and Zach does help him with those. Nolan is also more brain than brawn and Zach is a big, muscled hot-head. Nolan’s previous life had him training in the work place for things like sensitivity and stress management, and Zach is every assistant’s nightmare because he’s so impulsive and hard to work with.

I liked the “opposites attract” part of this – these two definitely balanced each other well and helped the other be a better person. It was also great the way the story ends up leading Nolan to an even better place than he’d imagined in a way that wasn’t really obvious at the beginning.

However, there was a lot that just confused me and didn’t make sense from a story-writing perspective. I wasn’t sure what purpose Compass served (other than being a place for Nolan and Zach to meet). There was a lot of drama there that just seemed to detract attention from the meat of the story and it didn’t always make sense. The same could be said about the letter at the end. That came from left field and maybe it’ll mean something more later in the series, but in this story it just didn’t really fit and I wasn’t sure why it was included.

So, while I liked Zach and Nolan as a couple and I hope we see more of them in the future, I hope that this is more a pre-quel novel than a road map to the rest of the series. The writing was engaging and the characters well-developed, but the main points of the story just felt disconnected and I didn’t get a sense of fluidity.

I’ll definitely be looking into more from this series, and I do recommend this on it’s own merits, but it wasn’t something I’d consider “great”.

3.5 of 5 stars

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Review copy generously provided by NetGalley for Honest Review