Categories
2 stars Action/Adventure adult - 18+ Angst Level Audiobook Bi-Sexual Book Contemporary Cop/Crime Enemies to Lovers Exploration Friends to lovers Gay GFY/OFY Heat Index Hidden Lovers High but not hopeless Homophobia m/m Mild/low level heat Military Morgan Novel 140 pgs + (80K + words) Part of a Series Purchased Unrequited Love Virgin

Colorado Wild (Colorado Heart Book 1) Audiobook by Sara York Narrated by Stan Jensen

audiobookreview

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When love sneaks up on you, shoot for the heart. Billy Bradford has a secret, and it’s bigger than the fact that he’s an assassin. When Tucker Hayes, Billy’s “straight” best friend, is injured on a mission, Billy acts in haste, kissing Tucker. Shocked by the act, Tucker runs. But desire is stronger than convictions, leading Tucker to hunt down Billy. The other guys on the ranch are oblivious to Tucker and Billy’s actions as they investigate a new target. Grant Stovall is hung up on his ex, but Roger Burk, their new operative, catches his attention and one small touch isn’t enough. Meet the cowboys of Wild Bluff Ranch in the first audiobook of the Colorado Heart Series, Colorado Wild.

Review

These books have been languishing on my To Be Listened to list for awhile and I’m not sure why… but I decided to give them a go! I grew up in Colorado and I’m a fan of books that take place there – so I was pretty psyched to explore this lengthy series.

First, I was excited to find out that this is not only a “cowboy” story but a military story too! Our boys live and work on a ranch but it’s a special ranch that’s more decoy and training grounds than anything. Mostly, it’s a base for operations of a secret unrecognized branch of the military who act like vigilantes and take out bad guys when the normal routes wouldn’t work or would take too long.

The premise sounds amazing – gather ex military men and super train them and give them resources they normally wouldn’t have then aim them at really, really bad people.

Now this is only the first book, so I assume that some of the “problems” I found with this are due to the world building that normally only exists in the first part of a series and so won’t be so prevalent in future books. But… there is a lot of telling in this story. The author gives us a lot of information and rather than demonstrate some of these things she has the characters somewhat awkwardly telling us stuff or simply outlining things directly for the reader. It’s not overwhelming, but it is noticeable.

Secondly, there are a BOAT LOAD of people. At least four (maybe six?) main characters in this book and a few more who will clearly be central figures in books to come. It’s a lot of names and I got confused a lot as to who was who and what they meant to one another. They aren’t all that different from each other so it was difficult to keep track of them all.

That being said, we have two main couples in this story (sort of). It looks (at the beginning) that it’s going to be a story about Grant and Roger. Roger is the new guy and not interested in forming a relationship with a new team member (or anyone really) and Grant is just out of a bad relationship with someone who may or may not end up being a bad guy.

Then there’s Billy and Tucker. Billy is gay and has been crushing on his “straight” BFF Tucker for years. Tucker is very confused about his feelings for Billy but when it looks like one of them might lose the other, he’s willing to explore his feelings after all these years. BUT he’s super worried about being gay and this colors all his actions and inner thoughts.

By the end of the story Billy and Tucker have sort of started a relationship (I have huge problems with how this played out – which I’ll get to) and I’m not sure if we’ll be seeing more from them or not – but I imagine they’ll grow along with the series.

(Here might be considered a bit spoilery so if that bugs you – skip down to the audio part of the review 🙂   )

My main problem with Tucker and Billy’s story is that Tucker says over and over and over that he’s not ready to move forward with a relationship – especially physically and especially penetrative. Billy tells him repeatedly that he’ll go slow and respect his wishes while IMMEDIATELY pushing him up to and including bottoming for the first time. When they do have penetrative sex for the first time Tucker is uncomfortable and talks about the pain for about 3 paragraphs then there’s a word or two of pleasure and it’s over. It never felt anything but awkward and while not “rapey” it definitely didn’t feel warm, loving or even like something they’d want to repeat! It absolutely left me cold and when – later – Tucker accepts a date with a woman in front of Billy – I wanted to scream at Billy : “HE’S NOT READY! Give him some space!” So… we’ll see how it goes with them but they aren’t off to a great start in my book.

As for Grant and Roger – it looks like they get more page time in book two, because in this they flirted around one another but never moved much past that and then Grant leaves on a mission.

I think this simply tried to do way too much in the first book and it was just a bit too scattered. My hope is that – as the series progresses – now that we’ve met the players (hopefully all of them?) the plot lines will become more clear and it won’t be so all over the map.

3 of 5 stars

Audio

My plan was to review these books as audiobooks (for all those made into audiobooks – right now that’s 6 of the 7). However, I absolutely could not finish this in audio format. The narrator, Stan Jensen is terrible. His style is a sort of overzealous, over the top almost comedic in an attempt to give all these characters a unique voice. His non dialog voice sounds a little older and all the men have a sort of geriatric twang to them. Occasionally he hits the mark – Duff, for example – is an older retired General and he sounds about as you’d expect. However, some of them are so strange as to be painful to listen to.   Billy’s was the absolute worst of the voices – he sort of squawks all the time. I eventually had to just stop because I was so distracted by the narration I lost track of the story itself.

(Stan narrates book two but thankfully none of the others in the series. I won’t be reviewing book 2 as an audiobook.)

1 of 5 stars

Overall 2 of 5 stars for the audiobook

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Copy Purchased For Review

 

Audible Link

http://www.audible.com/pd/Fiction/Colorado-Wild-Audiobook/B00HW1KDZM/ref=a_search_c4_1_1_srTtl?qid=1478457131&sr=1-1

 

Amazon link for the e-book

(Free on Kindle Unlimited!)

https://www.amazon.com/Colorado-Wild-Heart-Book-ebook/dp/B00FEYOW2O/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1479014986&sr=1-1&keywords=sara+york+colorado+wild

Categories
4.5 stars Action/Adventure adult - 18+ Angst Level Audiobook Book coming of age Contemporary DA Fated Mates Gay GFY/OFY Heat Index High but not hopeless Homophobia Hurt/Abuse m/m Mid level steam/heat Misunderstanding Morgan mpreg Novel 140 pgs + (80K + words) Paranormal Part of a Series Purchased Shifter Unrequited Love Virgin

Forbidden Mate: Holland Brothers 4 Audiobook by Toni Griffin Narrated by Dominic M McCartney

audiobookreview

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Finding his mate should have been Patrick Holland’s greatest day. Instead, it turned into a nightmare with one phone call. His mate didn’t want him. His heart broke. But at 16 he was too young to do anything. The next 10 years – 10 long years – of Patrick’s life are spent at odds with his mate. Split by forces he can’t comprehend and a long line of misunderstandings, Patrick doubts he’ll ever get the man he’s both loved and hated.
Jake Richmond never expected to come home from uni to find the youngest Holland brother was his mate. Knowing the news might uplift his still grieving father, Jake shares the news only to have his young mate threatened. Jake does the only thing he can think of: protect Patrick. The next 10 years are nothing but torture for Jake as he watches his mate grow into a remarkable young man.
They say time heals all wounds, but how much time?

Review
Holland Brothers Reviews: https://openskyebookreviews.com/determined-mate-holland-brothers-2-audiobook-by-toni-griffin-narrated-by-dominic-m-mccartney/

Atherton Pack: https://openskyebookreviews.com/?s=atherton

Well, we’ve been waiting for Patrick/Rick’s story for awhile now. He’s been looking sad and mysterious and now we get to understand why.

Here’s where this book will either work for you or it won’t. It’s a common plot angle: keep the lovers apart by threatening to kill the boyfriend/girlfriend/their families etc. For me, this totally worked for the first part of the book. I think Jake was truly scared (his father is a PSYCHO!) and he was young and so was Patrick. But… after he grows a bit this wore really thin. At some point he needed to reach out to Patrick and/or the Pack to at least help or explain things. His being a jerk should not have been a “thing” because he should have just explained himself.
However, once that part was settled I really appreciated that both Jake (and the author) admit HOW STUPID that was and how ridiculous it was not to just come clean and that had he been more mature he would have handled things differently. That felt very real and like something that could have happened. (We’ve all been young and dumb!)
On the plus side, I loved the entrée into the Atherton Pack stories that we get here – learning about the babies and meeting the pack members BEFORE they’re mated – FUN!
This is definitely best read/listened to in order and I highly recommend this and the series to fans of shifter romances!

(PS I LOVE the tattoo!)

4.5 of 5 stars

Audio

Dominic McCartney has been narrating this entire series and that is wonderful for at least two reasons. One, we get a consistent set of voices for all the brothers as they come and go throughout all the stories and it’s nice to hear the same voices. Two, he’s really good. He’s got great timing, nice voice quality, knows how to modulate for emotional scenes and has a great Australian accent. Highly Recommeneded.

5 of 5 stars

Overall 4.5 stars

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Copy Purchased for Review

Audible Link

http://www.audible.com/pd/Fiction/Forbidden-Mate-Audiobook/B01MDO2TK0

Categories
4 stars adult - 18+ Angst Level Audiobook Book coming of age Contemporary DA Friends to lovers Gay GFY/OFY Heat Index High but not hopeless Homophobia Hurt/Abuse Hurt/comfort m/m May/December May/December Mid level steam/heat Morgan New Adult Novella 20-160 pgs (20k-40k words) Part of a Series Purchased second chance at love Teacher Unrequited Love Virgin

Teach Me (Lightning Tales Book 1) Audiobook by KC Wells Narrated by Rob Drex

audiobookreview

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This is a gay romance that contains erotic scenes.

Nick Tremantle has had a rough 10 months. His professional life took a nosedive, and then his mom’s health took a turn for the worse. In a short space of time, everything changed. So when he spies the young man hitchhiking, Nick pulls over – he needs all the karma he can lay his hands on. But when the identity of the young man is revealed, it sets in motion a chain of events that unfold quickly, changing Nick’s life completely. Alex Nordmann’s life has definitely not gone the way he’d planned. Gone are his dreams of an education and living his life “his” way. He’d thought the worst was over until the morning he decided to come out to his parents. It just goes to show, people will surprise you every time. For instance, who could have foreseen that the man who gives him a ride – and an unexpected lifeline – would have been Alex’s first crush all those years ago? Alex has no idea what’s coming at him….

Review

Nick is a (essentially) closeted gay man who’s hiding from his true self due to a lot of guilt and because he lives in Florida. It takes running into the person who made him realize he was gay (a former student) as an adult for him to realize that he needed to really take a good look at himself and what he was “worth”.

Alex, who in years is the younger of the two in this couple, has ages and ages on Nick in terms of emotional maturity and (to some extent) experience (especially as a gay man). I think KC Wells did a tremendous job of showing how these two – with such a big age gap – could actually work so well together because of this difference in their emotional maturities.

I also think that despite his age, Nick has a strong need to be led and Alex is a great leader for him. I really liked that aspect of their relationship and felt it really worked for them.

There are certainly moments in this that are a little OTT in terms of drama. Alex’s illness, Nick’s mom and her issues and his subsequent guilt – these things were fairly huge and while I understand how it shaped them both, I wonder just how necessary it was to give them so many obstacles. Frankly, being so different in age and living in Florida would be enough to keep these guys busy for awhile! But I do think that it was handled well and in this short-ish story things move along quickly and we get to the good stuff!

I do wonder at their longevity once Alex finishes college… but we have to just trust in their HEA.

I enjoyed this as a quick, mostly light, story of May/December and OFY love and think anyone who has ever fantasized about a teacher will get a kick out of it!

4.5 of 5 stars

Audio

Rob Drex is a new to me narrator and in general I think he did a pretty good job. He was good at the pacing and emotion and he gave each MC a subtly different voice so that it was easy to tell who was speaking. What I didn’t like, however, was the fact that nobody in the story had an accent – and living in a small town in Florida, I think people would have one. Also, his voice seemed a little too old – even for Nick. I also got distracted by some of the sounds he made that made me think he had a dry mouth and needed to get a drink of water or something.

In any case, my complaints weren’t so many that I didn’t like the narration, it just wasn’t my favorite and I’d have to listen to a sample again before I purchased an audiobook by him in the future.

3.5 of 5 stars

Overall 4 of 5 stars

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Copy Purchased for Review

Audible Link

http://www.audible.com/pd/Erotica-Sexuality/Teach-Me-Audiobook/B01M4IZ5FJ/ref=a_search_c4_1_1_srTtl?qid=1477273848&sr=1-1

Categories
4 stars adult - 18+ Angst Level Book Contemporary Dreamspinner Enemies to Lovers Gay GFY/OFY Heat Index Homophobia Insta Love Little to no angst long distance love m/m Mid level steam/heat Morgan Novel 140 pgs + (80K + words) Opposites attract Part of a Series Unrequited Love

A Country Boy at Heart by MA Church

release day review

Dreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/a-country-boy-at-heart-by-ma-church-7751-b

 

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Hot damn, what more could a country boy want? Bass Pro Shop is finally opening in Tennessee. Nick plans to check out all twelve indoor acres chock-full of hunting, fishing, and boating in the Memphis Pyramid on the Mississippi River.

City boy Sandy wonders yet again how he let himself get talked into attending a grand opening for a hick hunting store. His geeky heart prefers the energy of the city. Little does he know all that is going to change due to a freakishly tall glass elevator—and Nick, the high-school crush who’s suddenly taking a second look at him.

A moment of panic while trapped in the elevator leads to a spark neither expected. Getting out is the least of the challenges they’ll face if they want to try to put their differences aside and find out if love is possible between a city boy and a country boy.

States of Love: Stories of romance that span every corner of the United States.

Review

This is a book virtually free of angst. It’s sweet and funny and fairly sexy.

The MCs resolve their past issues without a lot of fanfare – which was appreciated – and move into exploring today’s possibilities with open minds. They respect each other and move at a very reasonable pace, but yet the chemistry is still very evident.

I wanted to know more about Sandy and Houston? – are they a thing – it was quite mysterious!

I thought that they could have ended this on an even more solid note – it felt like these guys had been moving towards something permanent right from the start – but it was very sweet and a solid HEA.

I think this is the best book (that I’ve read) in this series so far. Recommended!

4 of 5 stars

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Copy Generously Provided by Publisher for Honest Review

 

 

 

Categories
4 stars adult - 18+ Angst Level Book Climbing coming of age Contemporary Dreamspinner Gay Heat Index High but not hopeless Hurt/comfort Insta Love m/m Mid level steam/heat Morgan Novel 140 pgs + (80K + words) Part of a Series second chance at love Unrequited Love Widower

Mapping The Forest (Rocky Mountain Boys #1) by Brandon Witt

release day review

Dreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/mapping-the-forest-by-brandon-witt-7718-b

 

mappingforest_postcard_front_dspBlurb

 

Happily ever after has no map, but sometimes fate sends a guiding light.

Gabe Rice, a seasonal ranger at the Rocky Mountain National Park, can’t seem to get his life on the right trail. He loves the rugged beauty of the land, and there is no place he would rather live than the mountain community of Estes Park. But after six years, Gabe is beginning to wonder if he’ll ever get a full-time position or find love. When Gabe sees Luis—and hears his gorgeous singing—he’s compelled to meet him.

Luis Martinez, the new owner of a hotel and steak ride business in Estes, left California and a career as a therapist for a fresh start in Colorado. But even the beauty of the mountains can’t help him forget the past or move forward. Unprepared for his strong attraction to Gabe, Luis is ready to run and hide from emotions he never thought he’d have again.

Suddenly the path ahead opens to a future that looks brighter for both of them, if they can find the courage to walk forward—together.

 

Review

So this is a spin off(?) from Brandon Witt’s Christmas story “Christmas Miracles of a Recently Fallen Spruce” (https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/christmas-miracles-of-a-recently-fallen-spruce-by-brandon-witt-3347-b)  that was included in last year’s Dreamspinner Advent Calendar. If you haven’t read it – you should – it’s a really sweet story and includes a bit about the Gay Boys Christmas Dinner [Club]. These guys get together to be the “family” that they choose and are really tight friends. (Brandon said it’s based on a true event!) In any case, you don’t need to have read it to appreciate this story, but it’s a nice bit of background.

Gabe and Luis are two very different people. Gabe is a park ranger at Rocky Mountain National Park in Estes (does NOT rhyme with testes!) Park, Colorado. He loves his job but hates his boss and his really only angst is that he’s been pining (pardon the pun) after his BFF for years to no avail.

Luis is far more broken. And he remains broken for most of the book. He’s just lost his husband (2 years ago) and is trying to make a go of a rashly purchased hotel in Estes.

What I liked about this was the unique take on their instant attraction. They don’t deny that it’s ridiculously fast or inappropriately intense, but embrace that fact. They also both jump into bed, but then regret the timing, only to do it again because they’re so hot for one another. It felt both “wrong” but honest and awkward but real.

For the most part I really liked their relationship and how it moved forward. I really felt badly for poor Gabe – he had a lot to contend with in a dead lover – but also poor Luis – who only wanted to honor both his “loves”.

What didn’t work as well for me – and what might just be because this is book one in a series – is the fact that a lot of the book is spent on secondary characters and their “partial” stories – which I’m sure become full-fledged later on in the series. It just felt distracting and not that integral to Gabe and Luis’ story and like it was just setting the scene for future books without being an important part of this one.

But… I’ve always been a fan of Brandon’s writing style – it’s both provocative and yet down-to-earth, poetic without being flowery. He writes really good sex scenes and their scarcity makes them that much more powerful. As a Coloradoan I appreciated his depiction of the “sights” and know that lots of people will want to take a trek up to RMNP when they go to GRL next year!

I really enjoyed this and was glad to see a “lighter” story from Brandon Witt again after his more “heavy” stuff of late.

4 of 5 stars

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Copy Generously Provided by Publisher For Honest Review