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

Enemies to Lovers: Pressure Head, Plumbers Mate #1 by JK Merrow

Riptide
https://www.amazon.com/Pressure-Head-Plumbers-Mate-Book-ebook/dp/B078TPW1QY/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr

Blurb
Tom Paretski’s not just a plumber with a dodgy hip courtesy of a schoolboy accident. He also has a sixth sense for finding hidden things. Called in by the police to help locate a body near Brock’s Hollow, he’s staggered to encounter Phil Morrison, his old school crush—and the closeted bully whose actions contributed to Tom’s accident.

Phil’s all grown up now, and Tom’s unwilling attraction to him is back with a vengeance. Phil’s now openly gay—and what’s more, he’s interested in Tom’s personal charms as well as his psychic talents. As a private investigator called in by the dead woman’s parents, Phil is sceptical about Tom’s unusual gift, but nevertheless quick to spot its potential to aid him in his work.

The further they go with the investigation, the less they can ignore their shared past, and the more the pressure and the heat build between them. But Tom isn’t certain he wants to know the secrets he’s helping to uncover, while there’s a murderer on the loose who won’t hesitate to kill again—and this uneasy couple is moving right into his sights

Review
I absolutely loved this story. It reminded me of a modern day Miss Marple, but could have been more to do with the quaint English country village setting (rather than any similarity Tom Paretski has to her). Just like the good old murder mysteries there are red herrings to mislead you from the clues but still kept a good pace leading you to the conclusion. All done with humour. This story certainly kept me smiling.
Tom has a unique gift of finding things. Mostly it’s things people want to keep hidden, which is useful to some and an annoyance to others. One person who finds it useful is Tom’s old school bully who turns up again back home. Phil is now a private detective. Tom is still attracted to Phil but is wary of getting too close especially as Phil had made Tom’s life hell. The way these two circle each other, work together and eventually get intimately acquainted is very well written. Phil is so prickly and Tom is a bit too trusting for his own good.
This book is a great start to the series and I look forward re-reading the remaining ones and the new one coming out next month.

4 of stars out of 5

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Purchased by reviewer

 

 

Bobby Green by Amy Lane

release day review

Dreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/bobby-green-by-amy-lane-9320-b

Blurb
Johnnies: Book Five
Vern Roberts couldn’t wait to turn eighteen and get the hell out of Dogpatch, California. But city living is expensive, and he’s damned desperate when Dex from Johnnies spots him bussing tables.
As “Bobby,” he’s a natural at gay porn. Soon he’s surrounded by hot guys and sex for the taking, but it’s not just his girlfriend back in Dogpatch—or her blackmailing brother—that keeps him from taking it. It’s the sweet guy who held the lights for his first solo scene, who showed him decency, kindness, and a smile.
Reg Williams likes to think he’s too stupid to realize what a shitty hand life dealt him, but Bobby knows better. What Reg lacks in family, opportunity, education, and money, he makes up for in heart. One fumbling step at a time, they connect, not just in their hearts but in their bodies, where sex that’s not on camera, casual, or meaningless, becomes the most important thing in the world.
But Reg is hampered by an inescapable family burden, and he and Bobby will never fly unless he can find a way to manage it. Can he break the painful link to his unrealized childhood and grow into the love Bobby wants to give?

Review

I love the Johnny series! It ranks up with the top 3 of series I read and read again. I was really looking forward to Bobby’s story and I was not disappointed. (I don’t think you have to have read all the books to appreciate this but I think you should. I think there’s a lot of background in the other stories that help you to appreciate Bobby’s story and there’s a lot of things going on with other characters that help you to understand Bobby and his situation better.)

Digger is such a tough character. As is V. These two characters are both so easy to love and so hard to love in the way because they don’t fit any sort of typical mold. I appreciate the fine line Amy draws here with Digger’s IQ and that she fully shows us that despite the numbers Digger is a fully functioning adult who maybe doesn’t always make the best decisions. He also has a hard time with “gray areas” or nuance but many people are like that. V, on the other hand is so clearly in pain and suffering but Digger can’t forget his promise to her – despite all the time that has passed and the changes that have occurred in her mental status.

Vern’s story is no less heart breaking. He can’t identify with his true self because he’s spending so much time fighting for his mom and for his own life.

One aspect of the story that really helped me to see our guys in a forever relationship was how long it took them to have sex. The sex should have been the easy part – but it wasn’t and our guys realized this. I really appreciated Digger’s lack of understanding of the situation and how frustrated he was and confused because, – you know – love is confusing sometimes, too. Bobby didn’t know where he was with that either so the whole thing was just confusing.

The writing is beautiful and touching as always and this will gladly join my “favorites shelf” beside the others in the Johnnies Series.

PS

I really hope they get Sean Crisden to do the narration for this!

5 of 5 stars

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When the Devil Wants In by Cate Ashwood and J.H. Knight

release day review

Dreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/when-the-devil-wants-in-by-cate-ashwood-and-jh-knight-9306-b

Blurb: John Turner has been living a lie most of his life. Growing up in the rural Georgia town of Magnolia Ridge, he’s only ever let one person truly know him: his best friend, Chloe. To the rest of the world, they’re the perfect couple, but just between them, she’s helping John hide in plain sight.
Matt Kinsley, a cop from San Francisco, moves to town looking for a slower pace and to reconnect with his Southern roots. Starting over in Magnolia Ridge means taking a step into the closet, but Matt finds that with John for company, he doesn’t mind so much.
As the two start to explore a possible relationship, a horrific murder rips the town apart but brings John and Matt together in ways neither could’ve imagined. Matt must decide where his loyalties lie while John resists the urge to run again. Together, they have to discover who the real devil is before another life is destroyed.

Review by Dee

Interesting story. John is a closeted gay man who lives in in rural Georgia. He’s close to his family but scared of coming out to them, especially to his religious mum. His best friend is Chloe who pretends to be his long-term girlfriend.
The story starts slowly, but picks up speed and steam when John meets Matt as an out of state hookup. Imagine John’s dilemma when he finds out that Matt is the newest addition to the local police force!
The 2 men steal moments to be together whenever they can, until a devastating crime forces them apart. The crime was surprising, and the events surrounding it were interesting. I didn’t see it coming!
It took me a bit to get into the story, mostly because at the start, John goes to great lengths to establish Chloe as his girlfriend/soon-to-be fiancée. As the story progresses, it’s easy to see why John is closeted; however he begins to hope for an out if he continues to develop his relationship with Matt.
The characters weres well developed within a unique storyline. I hope there will be a story about/with Santiago ☺

3.75/4 stars out of 5

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Review by Mary

I am in two minds about this book. I was eager to read it because I’ve like both authors work and was intrigued to see what would come of the partnership. The start is a classic of an hookup who ends up meeting in regular life. The problem is that John is deep in the closet. Matt was a Puzzle. I couldn’t wrap my head around why someone out and proud would choose to move to rural Georgia effectively putting himself back in the closest. This was explained about a third of the way into the story but it just didn’t feel authentic. It was not until later into the story that I got more of a sense where Mac was coming from. The romance is just a series of hookups under the guise of a new friendship aided and abetted by Chloe. I was starting to wondering were the story would go with the romance side.
The introduction of the murder mystery came out of left field and was quite dramatic plot twist. I was a little startled, there was no way I saw it coming but there wasn’t enough time left in the book for it to develop into anything I could sink into. The conclusion to the murder felt like it was a quick wrap up as well.
The story seems to be straddling between being a romance and a murder mystery but never quite settling into either genre. I liked both sides but felt dissatisfied with the whole book. Good writing though, there is a real atmosphere of small town Georgia, the heat and scenery. I definitely can’t fault with the quality of the book, it just didn’t work for me this time.

3 of stars out of 5
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An Unlocked Mind by K.C. Wells & Parker Williams

Dreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/an-unlocked-mind-by-kc-wells-and-parker-williams-9140-b

Blurb
Sercrets: Book Two
Rob Daniels is determined to prove to himself that his brother Alex got it wrong. Alex believes he found love through BDSM; Rob is certain that’s not possible. He even makes several visits to a London club to prove his point. But when he attends the grand opening of Secrets, Rob gets a shock, one that has him fleeing, vowing never to return—until he does… and runs into the brick wall that is Dom Vic Prentiss. As first meetings go, theirs is a disaster.

The more time he spends around Rob, the more convinced Vic becomes of two things—one, something is eating away at Rob, and two, he’s looking for something. Every instinct tells Vic to help him, but trying to unlock the secrets hidden in Rob’s mind requires a key. All Vic has to do is find it. Because maybe then he’ll get to see the real Rob, the man who’s scared to let go…

Review
The main thrust of the story revolves around Rob and how with the help of Vic he feels able to turn his life around. To fully understand the extent of the issues between Rob and his brother Alex would I recommend reading book 1 of the collars and cuffs series, An Unlocked Heart. However, I think there is enough information in this story to get an idea of what happened. The history and circumstances of bad blood between the brothers is very well explained.
At the start of the book Rob is not a likeable character. He is an angry man that thinks life is out to get him. He’s in a spiral of self hate which comes across as a very short temper and aggressive behaviour. There were times however that his insecurity comes across and I felt sympathy for him. Meeting Vic was the best thing that could’ve happened to him. Vic was able to see past Rob’s walls and defensive behaviour to what is underneath. I really liked this gentle friends to lovers story with the Dom/Sub element. As it progressed I got more absorbed in the evolving relationship between Vic and Rob and how Rob mends bridges with his brother. If you are unsure about BDSM I would recommend this book as it is a gentle and caring relationship.

5 of stars out of 5

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Audiobook: Something Brewing at Joes by SJD Peterson Narrated by Chase Johnson

audiobookreview

Dreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/somethings-brewing-at-joes-by-sjd-peterson-8629-b

Blurb:
The promise of a dream job lures Murphy to Tampa, but he arrives to the rude awakening that the offer is on hold. Now he’s got two choices: slink back to Michigan with his tail between his legs or stay and look for work. Things perk up when he goes into a coffee shop and learns the owner is looking for someone to renovate the apartment above it. He happily takes the job, only later realizing he’s met Joe Sterling, Kaffeinate’s proprietor, before… when they hooked up at a club Murphy’s first night in Tampa.

Murphy and Joe are both proud, passionate, and outspoken. Neither is looking for a relationship, though they can’t deny they go together as well as coffee and doughnuts, in spite of their tempers. But that’s before Joe learns Murphy will be working for the corporation he believes is harming local businesses and the environment—and if Murphy will be supporting it, Joe wants nothing to do with him, dooming any possibility of an unexpected happy ending.

Review:
Reviewed previously by Beth here: https://openskyebookreviews.com/somethings-brewing-at-joes-by-sjd-peterson/

Beth really liked the story and I mostly agree with her. It’s solidly written and does have some really strong characters that drive the story at a fairly nice pace.
For me the story lacked that “hook” that grabs you and makes you want to keep reading. I was just not that invested in the story. It was nice and the writing was good, but I was never “captivated”.

3 of 5 stars

Audio

I enjoyed Chase Johnson’s narration.  He definitely does a lot to make this a performance more than merely a narration and he distinguishes all the characters nicely. It was a solid production, though sometimes it felt a little like dinner theatre in that the acting was a bit over the top.

I think listening to this is a great way to experience the story and I’d definitely look for this narrator in the future.

4.5 of 5 stars

Overall 3.5 of 5 stars

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Copy Generously Provided by Publisher for Honest Review

Audiobook: Out of the Shadows By: K.C. Wells Narrated by: Finn Sterling

audiobookreview

Dreamspinner Presents
https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/out-of-the-shadows-by-kc-wells-8704-b

Blurb

Can he step out of the shadows and into love’s light?
Eight years ago, Christian Hernandez moved to Jamaica Plain in southern Boston, took refuge in his apartment, and cut himself off from the outside world. And that’s how he’d like it to stay.
Josh Wendell has heard his co-workers gossip about the occupant of apartment number one. No one sees the mystery man, and Josh loves a mystery. So when he is hired to refurbish the apartment’s kitchen and bathrooms, Josh is eager to discover the truth behind the rumors.
When he comes face-to-face with Christian, Josh understands why Christian hides from prying eyes. As the two men bond, Josh sees past his exterior to the man within, and he likes what he sees. But can Christian find the courage to emerge from the darkness of his lonely existence for the man who has claimed his heart?

Review

(Book Reviewed Here Previously)

I loved loved loved loved this!

This was so much fun!

Both Christian and Josh are fun and interesting characters. Josh cracked me up with his bluntness and Christian won me over with his willingness to trust Josh.

I loved how flirty and fun and willing to laugh at themselves these guys were with one another. Their dialog felt authentic and really helped to make the story more plausible.

While I thought Christian’s transformation from complete recluse to “out on the town guy” was ridiculously easy, I appreciated that so much of his pain was internal and that viewed with adult eyes it might be easy to peel away.

The smexy times were nice, I wish there’d been more of them, but it felt appropriate for this series.

I was so enthralled with this I couldn’t put it down and while I was looking forward to reading it – it still managed to surprise me with how much I enjoyed it!

Highly Recommended!

4.5 of 5 stars

Audio

Finn Sterling is a good narrator. He handles the timing and emotions just fine. I really, really loved the voice he chose for Christian and while I thought that Josh sounded more like an elf or a teenager than fit his personality, it was okay enough.

I enjoyed this and recommend it.

4 of 5 stars

Overall 4.25 (rounded to 4.5) of 5 stars

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Holiday: Needing A Little Christmas by Silvia Violet

Amazon Link

https://www.amazon.com/Needing-Little-Christmas-Silvia-Violet-ebook/dp/B00GZ0T3IY/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1510427866&sr=1-1&keywords=needing+a+little+christmas

Blurb

Discovering his boyfriend’s affair with a co-worker wrecks Eli’s holiday plans. With his parents on a cruise and his brother and sister out of town, he’s on his own. His mother insists he escape to her friend’s mountain cabin. Eli reluctantly agrees, but he takes off unprepared and ends up driving into the worst snowstorm the area has seen in years.
He survives the trip, but he’s stuck with no logs for the woodstove and little food. Fortunately, he gets the number for Mac’s Wood Delivery. Mac doesn’t mind riding to the rescue, and his deep, sultry voice has Eli eagerly anticipating the delivery. Is Mac the little bit of Christmas cheer Eli has been needing?

 

Review

Short, cute holiday story. Eli decides to escape to a rural cabin from well-meaning relatives after a break-up. He’s woefully ill-equipped for rustic cabin life, but help come in the form of Mac, a local who runs a wood delivery service. The attraction is immediate when they talk on the phone, at least for Eli, but is mutual when they meet.
Both men fall pretty quickly, but it felt comfortable, warm and believable. Both men are at a place where there is no need for games – and I liked that.
For a quick holiday read, this hits the spot.

3.5 stars out of 5

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Copy Purchased for Review

 

 

PS by Caraway Carter

Beaten Track Presents
https://www.amazon.com/PS-Caraway-Carter-ebook/dp/B0754CPGZQ/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1509474658&sr=1-1&keywords=ps+caraway+carter

Blurb
Looking back, it was kind of crazy to put a down payment on a fallen-down train depot I’d never actually seen, in a state I’d never actually been to, and use it to build a life with a guy I’d never actually met, but love makes people do crazy things. If you’ve ever been in love, you know what I mean.

But before the plane had landed, I found out that Sam – the guy I’d met online and had been talking to for four years – wasn’t really Sam. He wasn’t even a guy.

I already own the little train depot, and I can’t go back to my old life. And Fairville is such a lovely welcoming town. Did I mention James? He’s made sure that I’ve had a really warm welcome.

All I want is to build a great little bookstore, and have a relationship based on humor, honesty, and hardbacks. I see some tough choices ahead of me.

Or maybe I don’t have to choose..

Review
I haven’t read anything by Caraway Carter before and my first impression of this book is that it is a very positive story. In the beginning we find out that Gus was a victim of catfishing and I wondered where the story was heading. It’s certainly not a theme I have read before. Caraway Carter handles this emotive situation quite well by not letting Gus dwell on what might’ve been. The line that struck me the most was from chapter one “she didn’t believe a guy could be so lonely as to sell everything he owned”. With these few words the Author helped me understand Gus and the whole premise for this story. Gus is a sweetheart. He chooses to see the silver lining rather than bemoaning about the situation he finds himself in. To be honest I was a bit torn over this story. I liked it a lot but in a fairytale kinda way where everything works out fine and the people are friendly and lovely. Part of me wanted some drama and angst over the catfishing angle, but that would be an entirely different book. This book is about the bright side of life and finding love at the same time. An absolute feel good book. I will be looking out for other work by this author.

What helped me quite a lot with visualising the building was Caraway Carter posting a link to the inspiration for the Train depot on his Goodreads page and Facebook page. If you do read this story I recommend checking it out
https://www.goodreads.com/author_blog_posts/15904050-inspiration-for-ps-the-train-depo

4 of stars out of 5

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Get a Grip (Bluewater Bay #19) by L.A. Witt

Riptide Presents

http://riptidepublishing.com/titles/get-a-grip

Blurb

If a tree falls in Bluewater Bay . . . could it be fate?

A year after his divorce, Shane Andrews isn’t interested in dating—not that he has time, between three kids and a demanding job as a grip. When a windstorm knocks a tree onto one of the Wolf’s Landing soundstages, Shane’s there to help with the mess . . . and so is firefighter Aaron Tucker.

A former smoke jumper, Aaron’s an adrenaline junkie and way too restless and reckless to be relationship material. As far as he’s concerned, monogamy is for penguins, and he’d rather be alone than tied down. Signing up to be a stepparent? No, thank you.

But after a scorching-hot night together, they’re hooked. Aaron is a taste of the excitement Shane’s been lacking, and Shane’s pushing buttons Aaron didn’t know he had. The more they’re together, the less Aaron craves wild nights with other men . . . but the more Shane wants to play the field like he never got to in his twenties.

This could be the love neither man knew he needed, but only if Shane gets his feet back on the ground before Aaron walks away.

Review

I’ve not always had the best of luck with this series, but I was really attracted to this because it has some older MCs. (I’m a sucker for those!) And a family, too!

What I liked about this was the sincere emotions that flowed between our guys throughout most of the book. (Of course it was super annoying when they kept ignoring the obvious…but, hey, that’s what kept me turning pages!)

Witt is amazing when it comes to hot sex scenes and there are plenty here! But she’s also great at giving us really relatable characters with real life problems without bringing it to the level of mundane. (I loved that the ‘ex’ is still part of the picture!)

You don’t have to be following the series at all to enjoy this (it’s really only peripherally part of the series) and I think if you like later in life / second chance love stories this will be right up your alley!

(The only thing that kept this from being a 5 star read was the soft HEA – though it felt very promising I’d have liked to see them a bit further down the road, or with a more definite “promise” if you know what I mean!)

Highly Recommended!

4.5 of 5 stars

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