Audiobook: Teaching Ben by Shae Connor Narrated by Kenneth Obi

Audiobook: Teaching Ben by Shae Connor Narrated by Kenneth Obi

audiobookreview

Dreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/teaching-ben-by-shae-connor-9302-b

Blurb

Learning to love means a study in patience.
Fresh out of the military, Ben Cooper is ready for a new start. He’s away from his domineering father, making his own choices… and out of the closet. On his first day of college, he meets David Powell, who’s just the kind of gorgeous man Ben’s dreamed of. Too bad he’s the teaching assistant—which makes him off-limits in Ben’s eyes.
David is Ben’s age, but his life has taken a different path. He’s close with his family, who helped him deal with personal struggles after he came out. And while he’s staying away from any hint of scandal, Ben’s a kind of temptation he hasn’t faced in years. If only they’d met on more equal footing.
As the semester progresses and their lives become more entwined, keeping their relationship platonic becomes more difficult. They just have to hold out until the end of the semester….

Review

(Book reviewed here previously)

I just couldn’t get into this book. (The narrator didn’t do much to change this opinion, unfortunately.  Sometimes a great narrator can really pull you into a book… but not this time.)

I wasn’t every really captured by the “romance” though the set up seemed “ripe” for a perfect hidden romance or slow burn. I guess I didn’t want everyone to make such “good choices” and “do the right thing”. (I admit this could totally be influenced by current mood – so be warned.)

In any case, it’s not a bad story and the writing is good, it just wasn’t something that pinged on my radar. Maybe too tame? Anyhow…

Audio

Kenneth Obi does a nice enough job with this. He’s easy to listen to and does a fair job with the timing and emotions. He’s not great at giving unique voices and he didn’t do much to elevate this for me.

Overall still 3 of 5 stars

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Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

Time to Laugh: Muscling Through by J.L. Merrow

Good Reads Link

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/11045338-muscling-through?from_search=true

Blurb:

The bigger they come, the harder they fall… in love.

Cambridge art professor Larry Morton takes one, alcohol-glazed look at the huge, tattooed man looming in a dark alley, and assumes he’s done for. Moments later he finds himself disarmed—literally and figuratively. And, the next morning, he can’t rest until he offers an apology to the man who turned out to be more gentle than giant.

 

Larry’s intrigued to find there’s more to Al Fletcher than meets the eye; he possesses a natural artistic talent that shines through untutored technique. Unfortunately, no one else seems to see the sensitive soul beneath Al’s imposing, scarred, undeniably sexy exterior. Least of all Larry’s class-conscious family, who would like nothing better than to split up this mismatched pair.

Is it physical? Oh, yes, it’s deliciously physical, and so much more—which makes Larry’s next task so daunting. Not just convincing his colleagues, friends and family that their relationship is more than skin deep. It’s convincing Al.

Contains comic misunderstandings, misuse of art materials, and unexpected poignancy.

Review

This is one of my all time favorite m/m books ever. I re – read it several times a year. I love it’s simple honesty and love and the fact that it makes me laugh as well as touches me makes it golden.

JL Merrow’s dry British humor crackles throughout the book and I love the dialect and the slang: Al talking with Larry-

“Are you a poof?” I asked. I didn’t think he’d mind. And even if he did, there wasn’t nothing a little bloke like him could do to me, so that was all right.

Though there are a few “hurdles” most of the book is Larry and Al falling in love and it is so, so sweet.   But, since it’s told through Al’s eyes, it’s rough around the edges.

“I never met anyone who made me feel like Larry does. I don’t mean just the fucking. He makes me feel special, like I’m not just a set of muscles and a big cock.”

It has a great message. Don’t judge a book by it’s cover. Al is way more than just a big, hunk of a man, he’s also a fantastic artist with an artist’s soul. I love that Larry sees that part of him and helps him to develop it.

I can’t recommend this book enough and I give it 6 out of 5 stars! I hope it eventually comes out in audio!

 (I’ve tried and tried to reach the author to do an interview… but alas it isn’t to happen… one can only hope!)

6 of 5 stars

 

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Purchased for Review

 

Release Day Review: Kiss Me Forever by M.J. O’Shea

release day review

Dreamspinner Presents
https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/kiss-me-forever-by-mj-oshea-9454-b

Blurb

Forever is too long to be alone.
Professor Avery Cook has spent his career researching the mysterious side of New Orleans. Superstitions, legends, and lore—Avery has an academic explanation for all of them….
Until one night when he walks into a bar and his life changes.
In a sea of impossibly beautiful people, Tyson stands out, and he sweeps Avery off his feet with his old-world charm and romanticism. But there’s a darkness in Tyson too, and Avery discovers Tyson is part of a world he thought existed only in books and stories—the paranormal tales he studies at the university.
Tyson’s been lonely for a long time, and he’s falling in love with Avery. But his past is a long one, and it’s full of enemies and danger. The best way to keep Avery safe is to push him away….

Review

I loved the “magic” in this and the interesting twist on an old tale. The setting – New Orleans – fits the story oh so well. I loved the professor as the “younger” MC in this scenario!

I wasn’t super compelled by the dilemma and I was a bit confused by the stumbling blocks but thought the romance was sweet and the paranormal aspect interesting.

I would definitely read more from this “world”.

3.5 of 5 stars

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Recent Release: Bad Seed by Gareth Vaughn

Good Reads Link
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/38901778-bad-seed?from_search=true

Blurb
Dane’s a Decrypter down on his luck — after accidentally dispatching the wrong creature, he’s sent to a small town where the cryptids he hunts are sparse. Crypt Coffee becomes his business front, but instead of a thrilling new mission on the side, he’s stuck sending ghosts back to where they came from. Dane can annoy customers, at least, and tries to scare off Professor Sean Sanderson when he starts poking around too much. But Sean isn’t about to stay away. Not when he hears about the murder of a former student, and definitely not if young, exciting Dane has information about it. But the more he allows himself to get dragged into this supernatural world of monsters and ghosts, the more the danger escalates. And if Sean and Dane aren’t careful, tracking down a murderer who can use magic might just get them killed

Review
I’m honestly not sure how I feel about this book. I love the idea of a kind of supernatural enforcer keeping rogue elements in line. But this book just didn’t settle with me. Both Dane and Sean start with an antagonist type relationship and it pretty much stays that way. Dane is very prickly, bitchy and short tempered. I’m not sure if that’s because he doesn’t want to be in bleu falls (he was sent there as a Decrypter) or he is always that way. Sean keeps coming back. If this is a start of a series featuring them that might explain it, they’ll have time to grow. There were also a few loose ends. Sean was initially looking into a student death by what he thought was a werewolf. This is never mentioned again. The investigation diverted on to another who it turns out was poisoned. Another is the all powerful Order Dane works for. We are left wondering if they do come to wipe Sean’s mind because he’s seen to much or not. Is this the start of an investigative/ supernatural peacekeeping partnership? I don’t know but this book hasn’t gripped me enough to want to know.

2.5 of stars out of 5

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Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

 

 

 

 

 

 

Friends to Lovers: Lessons in Love Audiobook by Charlie Cochrane Narrated by Phil Mayes

Audible Link

https://www.audible.com/pd/Fiction/Lessons-in-Love-Audiobook/B01AO7MOFW?ref=a_a_search_c3_lProduct_1_1&pf_rd_p=e81b7c27-6880-467a-b5a7-13cef5d729fe&pf_rd_r=KH0GYNMFVNQKRQJMBH41

Blurb
St. Bride’s College, Cambridge, England, 1905. When Jonty Stewart takes up a teaching post at the college where he studied, the handsome and outgoing young man acts as a catalyst for change within the archaic institution. He also has a catalytic effect on Orlando Coppersmith. Orlando is a brilliant, introverted mathematician with very little experience of life outside the college walls. He strikes up an alliance with the outgoing Jonty, and soon finds himself having feelings he’s never experienced before. Before long their friendship blossoms into more than either man had hoped and they enter into a clandestine relationship. Their romance is complicated when a series of murders is discovered within St. Brides. All of the victims have one thing in common, a penchant for men. While acting as the eyes and ears for the police, a mixture of logic and luck leads them to a confrontation with the murderer can they survive it

Review
I don’t normally read or listen to period romance or drama but I wanted to give this one a try. The setting and the time period intrigued me. There is charm to this story which reflects a world in its own bubble. The high morale code of behaviour and traditions which exclude anyone not in academia. The burgeoning friendship and later romance between Jonty and Orlando has such an innocence around it that cute feels like the wrong word.
I do like the way Charlie Cochrane introduced and kept the murder mystery side going. I certainly didn’t have a clue who could be doing it. Not to mention that the police didn’t seem to know what to do either. The conclusion of the mystery was enthralling.
The only fly in the ointment was the narration. Phil Mayes tone was slow and methodical. Whilst I appreciate that there needs to be narration that reflects the slower way of life in 1905 and to get the accent right for level class in society reflected in the story, I don’t think it works. I think I’ll stick to reading this book in future.

3 of stars out of 5

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Purchased by reviewer

 

 

 

 

 

 

Friends to Lovers: Trusting Tanner by Nicky James

Good Reads Link
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/32071080-trusting-tanner?from_search=true

Blurb
Maybe tomorrow it will be better…

Zander Baker has spent years forcing a smile onto his face to make the world believe he is a happy man. In reality, it’s a façade for the battered person he truly is. Living a life imprisoned in an abusive relationship, Zander doesn’t know how to break free. Ordinary enjoyments are not within his reach. Not only has he lost all his friends, but over the last seven years, he’s lost himself as well.
Tanner Mathews has recently returned to the city and needs to start life all over again. New job, new friends and a new relationship are top of his list. When he meets his niece’s new preschool teacher he is drawn in by his good looks and shy personality. Sadly, Zander is involved with someone else. Settling for friendship, Tanner soon realizes there is a lot more to Zander than what he shows the world. As their friendship struggles to grow, and details about Zander’s life come to the surface, Tanner finds himself unexpectedly falling in love. His heart aches for Zander and all he wants to do is help the man break free.
Can Tanner help Zander reclaim his life?
Will his feelings for his friend interfere with his intentions?
What happens if it all goes wrong?
Will love conquer all in the end?

Review

Trusting Tanner is an emotional roller coaster in several ways. We are shown Tanner’s point of view, not wanting to break up an established couple, yet he slowly falls in love with the man. Zander’s point of view of knowing the relationship he’s in is toxic yet he wants Tanner’s friendship even with Tanner pushing to show him what’s wrong with his life.

The author does a fabulous job of laying out the story, showing the partner abuse, the ability to use escapism to cope, the frustration of close friends who can blatantly see what’s going on and do nothing but support him. All while building this love story between Tanner and Zander.

Although this could be a hard story for some to read, it ends in a HEA. And in the end we are shown how strong Zander really is.

5 of 5 stars

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Purchased for review

 

Audiobook: Off the Beaten Path by Cari Z. Narrated by Jack Wesley

audiobookreview

Dreamspinner Press
https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/off-the-beaten-path-by-cari-z-9368-b

Blurb: 
When Ward Johannsen’s little girl Ava shifted into a werewolf, she was taken into custody by the feds and shipped off to the nearest pack, all ties between father and daughter severed. Ward burned every bridge he had discovering her location, and then almost froze to death in the Colorado mountains tracking her new pack down. And that’s just the beginning of his struggle.

Henry Dormer is an alpha werewolf and an elite black ops soldier who failed his last mission. He returns home, hoping for some time to recuperate and help settle the pack’s newest member, a little pup named Ava who can’t shift back to her human form. Instead he meets Ward, who refuses to leave his daughter without a fight. The two men are as different as night and day, but their respect for each other strikes a spark of mutual interest that quickly grows into a flame. They might find something special together—love, passion, and even a family—if they can survive trigger-happy pack guardians, violent werewolf politics, and meddling government agencies that are just as likely to get their alpha soldiers killed as bring them home safely

Review:
(Book reviewed here previously by Mary)

I’m always looking for a new twist on a shifter story and this did not disappoint.
With the way the world is is could see werewolves being treated in manner described in this story. Used when it suited the Government but kept isolated out of fear. The world building is superb. The treatment of the werewolves is so unjust they gained my sympathy immediately and I was so pulled in that I was sorry when I came to the end of the book. I felt connected with Wade and Henry. To have the Government take your child and never to see her again would be heartbreaking. He is strong in his determination to get her back. Henry is pulled in so many directions. He has his duty to his pack as Alpha and to his role as an elite black ops soldier. I liked the way both Wade’s and Henry’s situations were explained without taking too much time away from the crux of the story, the burgeoning relationship between Henry and Wade and Ava not being able to shift back. I hope Cari Z has plans for a sequel or a series.

The only problem I had was that it is written from both Henry and Wade’s points of view in alternating chapters. This did throw me a bit and I kept checking who’s POV I was reading. However I was so captivated by the story it didn’t affect my enjoyment. If you are a fan of shifter stories I wholeheartedly recommend Off the Beaten Path.

(Review by Morgan)

I agree with Mary, but I want to add that sometimes this was really hard. I’m sure there are some allegories between this story and “real life” camps that strike home.

I think, depending on your frame of mind, the hate and distrust and the making people feel isolated and different can really strike a nerve given our political times.

Audio

I thought Jack Wesley (new to me) did a great job. He was easy to listen to, did a nice job with the emotion, and helped differentiate the characters.

Overall 4.5 of 5 stars

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Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

 

Release Day Review: The Pick Up (Up Red Creek #1) by Allison Temple

release day review

Riptide Presents

http://riptidepublishing.com/titles/the-pick-up

Blurb

Kyle’s life is going backwards. He wanted to build a bigger life for himself than Red Creek could give him, but a family crisis has forced him to return to his hometown with his six-year-old daughter. Now he’s standing in the rain at his old elementary school, and his daughter’s teacher, Mr. Hathaway, is lecturing him about punctuality.

Adam Hathaway is not looking for love. He’s learned the hard way to keep his personal and professional life separate. But Kyle is struggling and needs a friend, and Adam wants to be that friend. He just needs to ignore his growing attraction to Kyle’s goofy charm, because acting on it would mean breaking all the rules that protect his heart.

Putting down roots in this town again is not Kyle’s plan. As soon as he can, he’s taking his daughter and her princess costumes and moving on. The more time he spends with Adam, though, the more he thinks the quiet teacher might give him a reason to stay. Now he just has to convince Adam to take a chance on a bigger future than either of them could have planned.

Review

There was a lot about this that had potential. I liked the idea of Kyle revisiting his hometown and reconnecting there. I liked the idea of a nerdy teacher giving him a run for his money and I thought his daughter was adorable. (Later in the story I also really liked Kyle’s father, too.)

For me, unfortunately, I never really liked Kyle all that much. I didn’t connect strongly with him, or understand his background fully. While I thought it was cute at first, his calling Adam “Mr Hathaway” all the time got under my skin. Since our guys spend so much time struggling, I really wanted them to have a decisive HEA and it’s only tepid.

I won’t say that I’m looking forward to book 2 in this series, but if the blurb is intriguing I wouldn’t turn it down based on this experience.

This might be a case of “it’s not the book, it’s me” but this just didn’t work for me that well.

3 of 5 stars
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Enemies to Lovers: Perfect Fit (Book 4 of the Fated Hearts Series) by Aimee Nicole Walker

Good Reads Link

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/28500149-perfect-fit?from_search=true

Blurb: Two incurable bachelors, one incredible journey…

Jagger Jackson hides behind a sexy playboy veneer. He’d rather people see him as a man who doesn’t believe in love, rather than one who doesn’t deserve it. No matter how hard he works, he still sees himself as the unlovable boy from the wrong side of the tracks.
Miller Brexler doesn’t believe he’ll ever meet a man who could make him want to settle down. He’s perfectly happy with his hit it and quit it lifestyle. Behind his easygoing nature is a man who’s passionately devoted to his career, family, and friends.
JJ and Miller are brought together when their best friends meet and fall in love. Sparks fly from the very beginning and no matter how much they try to fight it, their attraction is unavoidable. What starts out as “just sex” has the potential to become so much more if JJ can come to terms with his painful past, and Miller is willing to admit that love may be the missing piece in his seemingly perfect life.

Will these two stubborn hearts admit that they might’ve been wrong about love or will they allow the chance at true happiness to slip away? This is the tale of two imperfect men that together make a perfect fit.

Review

The way these two men fought their attraction, they might as well have been frenemies! This is the 4th book in the Fated Hearts series, but this is the one I started with. It can definitely be read as a standalone.
JJ and Miller, both confirmed bachelors, both with a backstory that keeps them from believing in their own HEA. However, they didn’t count on their powerful attraction to each other.
The fun of the story is how they fought against their attraction meaning anything and the feels start when they open up to each other and when they are tested after tragedy strikes.
This is one of my favourite books to reread.

4.5 stars out of 5

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Copy purchased for review

 

Valentine’s Day Read: Lessons in Love: A sparkling tale of mystery, murder and romance (Cambridge Fellows Book 1) by Charlie Cochrane

Good Reads Link

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/5942455-lessons-in-love?from_search=true

Blurb: A dangerous crime and a thrilling romance

It’s the turn of the century, Queen Victoria’s reign is over, it’s time for a new beginning. In Cambridge, Jonty Stewart takes up a teaching post, acting as a catalyst for change within the archaic institution. But he also has a catalytic effect on Orlando Coppersmith.
Orlando is a brilliant, introverted mathematician with very little experience of life outside the college walls. He strikes up an alliance with the outgoing Jonty, and soon finds himself having feelings he’s never experienced before. Before long their friendship blossoms into more than either man had hoped and they enter into a clandestine relationship.
Yet their romance is complicated when a series of murders is discovered within St. Brides. And all of the victims have one thing in common: a penchant for men. A fact that only puts Orlando and Jonty in greater danger, when they are enlisted to act as the eyes and ears for the police…

Review: This is a good murder/mystery with a gentle romance woven throughout the story.
Jonty and Orlando are almost polar opposites, one upbeat and the other, somewhat staid, but they work well together. The story is set in Victorian times, at Cambridge University and the prose reflects this. In other words, perfect.
I liked that the romance between the 2 men was a slow build up, totally fitting given that homosexuality could result in being jailed and ruined.
The mystery was interesting – definitely kept me engaged. I’ve already got the next book in my library ☺

4 stars out of 5

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Copy purchased for review