Time to get scared: Blood Guard (Mission book 1) by Megan Erickson

Good Reads Link

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34444705-blood-guard?from_search=true

Blurb
When Tendra arrives home after her bartending job in Mission city, she doesn’t expect to meet a vampire. Said vampire also claims to need her in order to save his vampirical clan, by marrying his brother, the future king. Athan’s clan only feed on consenting humans, without killing them- a notion their enemies do not share. They want Tendra dead before she makes it to Athan’s brother, to share the power in her blood that has been growing in her bloodline for ten generations, and to her future as his queen. Hard to believe as it is, Athan shows her proof she cannot ignore and whisks her into a dangerous journey through the secret underground vampire tunnels of his clan to their family compound outside Mission city. He must protect her at all costs for she is destined to his brother, to save his clan and the human world from being enslaved to the other vampire clans.
But, with every minute they spend together the pull Athens feels for Tendra gets stronger, and the close proximity they are forced to share is not helping him keep his desire for her in line with his duty to his brother, his king, and his role as the head of guard.

Review
For the last two years I have only been reading M/M romance, and if anyone can lure me out of it for some M/F it’s Megan Erickson! She is one of my favorite authors, with a geeky infused writing style I adore! This book was a pleasant surprise, much like her M/M Shifter books: The Silver Tip Pack series (a genre I Never liked for its cliché-ness). I think Megan’s greatest talent is taking a cliché genre and writing a book that while it has many of the characteristics to make it a cliché is still refreshing and enjoyable. Not every book is a unique masterpiece, but having the ability to read a story in a plotline that have been so thoroughly chewed and re-chewed that I, as a reader well versed in this genre to the point I was sick of Twilight wannabees, loved the book is amazing to me. I credit it to the humor, banter between characters, fluidity of the plot and putting little twists throughout the story.

I love Tendra’s personality, she is independent while still being dependent on Athan for her survival, and is realistic in that sense but she can and will protect herself when needed. Tendra is a badass heroine that does not spend days mourning what she lost while still understanding she is in a new situation and learning to deal with it. Athan is both though and soft, with a gentleness and emotional depth I credit to Megan’s M/M writing. The fast pace the story starts out at does not mean the characters get it on within the first chapter, another strong point to me. I feel like they really see each other before sex gets thrown in the mix. The fantasy world setting is interesting and believable and well rounded.
If you love the supernatural romance genre, vampires and great characters you should definitely read this book, it is everything Twilight and its look a likes wanted to be and are not with a splash of humor and sass.

Number of stars:
4.5


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The Gryphon King’s Consort by Jenn Burke

release day review

Dreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/the-gryphon-kings-consort-by-jenn-burke-9104-b

Blurb
Love takes flight.

The sudden death of the Gryphon King throws the kingdom of Mythos into uncertainty, and Crown Prince Luca rushes both his coronation and an arranged marriage to a man he’s never met. Eirian is young and idealistic, and while they both want what’s best for their people, their philosophies couldn’t be more different. While Luca believes in honoring tradition, Eirian is determined to infuse modern values into their kingdom of magical creatures. When given the choice between loyalty to his husband and his own crusade, Eirian makes a decision that might doom their marriage.

Still, Luca is committed to making their union work, and that means forgiving his brash consort. But when Eirian becomes the target of a deadly conspiracy, Luca must act fast—or forever lose the chance to explore their burgeoning love

Review
I did like this take on the arranged marriage. Known to be opposites in outlook they are to be married to give a sense of balance. They both know this going into the arrangement. I did struggle with this book. I felt my attention drifting away to other things that wouldn’t normally distract me from reading. It is roughly halfway through when they consummate their marriage and mark each other. I liked that they started to bond over romance books and other things but this common ground was short lived. I empathised with Eirian’s frustration at not being valued as a person. All Luca seems to worry about is position. I found it hard to connect with either character. Their mood switched too frequently and the relationship seemed too tempestuous to survive. It felt like if it wasn’t for the mating bond they wouldn’t choose to be together. From early on I had an inkling who was behind the disruption between Luca and Eirien but the surprise was another character being the main driving force. Stirring up Luca to be discontent with his choice in Eirien. The story picks up in the last quarter which redeemed it for me. Although the ending did seem a forced happy ever after. Overall I found the story to be mediocre.

2.5 of stars out of 5

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His Convenient Husband by Robin Covington


October 9, 2017

Entangled Publishing
https://entangledpublishing.com/author/robin-covington

Blurb

NFL football player Isaiah Blackwell lost his husband three years ago and is raising their teen son alone. He lives his life as quietly as his job allows, playing ball to support his family but trying not to draw unwanted attention. His quiet life is shaken up when a mutual friend introduces him to Victor, a visiting principal ballet dancer who is everything Isaiah is not.

Brash, loud, and gender fluid Victor Aleksandrov has applied for political asylum to avoid returning to Russia, where gay men are targeted and persecuted. He’s been outspoken about gay rights in his home country, and if he doesn’t get asylum, going back to Russia is a death sentence.

Their one-night stand turns into a tentative friendship, a relationship they both agree is temporary… until Victor’s denied asylum. Isaiah can’t offer Victor a happily ever after, but he can propose something that’ll keep Victor in the US and safe… marriage He just doesn’t expect his new husband to dance away with his heart.

Review

This was a bit more substantive story than I’d originally pictured. First, Isaiah is still pining for his dead husband, so that colors his “now” quite a bit. Second, Victor’s stance against Russia is a bit more political than just a story hurdle. Third, Victor’s “outness” is mirrored by Isaiah’s son’s own desires and it becomes something between father and son as well as between the two husbands.

On the one hand I wish Victor had been more Russian – besides his name there wasn’t a lot about him that felt like he was in fact from another country.

It sounds silly, but Isaiah and Evan and Ian – these names were all so easy to get confused over. I’d have chosen differently.

Victor and Isaiah’s chemistry was good and the difficulties facing their marriage was handled well. I did get tired of Isaiah’s reluctance after awhile, but I was glad when he finally does acknowledge that risk is part of loving.

Evan was awesome and Ian bugged me a lot – but maybe that’s just his job? I never warmed up to either MC as much as I wanted to and as a result I wasn’t that enthralled with the book. It was pretty good, but not great.

I’d recommend this to fans of bi-racial couples, “must get married” trope, opposites attract and single parent romances.

3.5 of 5 stars

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Audiobook: Mating the Omega: Mercy Hills Pack, Volume 1 by Ann-Katrin Byrde Narrated by Nick J. Russo

audiobookreview

Audible Link

https://www.audible.com/pd/Romance/Mating-the-Omega-Audiobook/B074KPKYC2/ref=a_search_c4_1_5_srTtl?qid=1503460644&sr=1-5

Blurb

Omega wolf Jason and his family have been on the run for six years, to keep Jason from being forcefully mated to his pack’s cruel Alpha. When a brutal attack leaves his father desperately injured, Jason comes to the conclusion that it’s time to call it quits. Terrified as he is to deliver himself into an Alpha’s power, he makes a deal to mate with the Alpha of the richest pack in the country, and discovers that he’d rather mate the Alpha’s handsome Head of Security. When Mac captures the feral shifter that climbed the walls surrounding the Mercy Hills Pack enclave, he feels for the young shifter’s fear, though he knows his Alpha isn’t the sort of shifter Jason believes he is. He’d be happy to see the two mated, except that, as time goes by, it becomes more and more difficult to deny his own feelings for the young, damaged Omega. A sudden turn of events sees Mac and Jason mated and expecting, but Jason’s old pack isn’t done with them yet.

Review

 What an interesting series! Get ready for a whole lot of angst! In this world shifters are known but made to live in enclaves – very much second-class citizens. Jason and his family are on the run, because Omegas are considered second-class citizens among shifters themselves.

What I liked about this was the world-building and the subtle social messages that we get in this and in future books in the series. I will admit that by book 3’s end I needed a break because it gets a bit overwhelming – but each book is really well written and not all about the sex like some shifter/omega/mpreg books can be. In fact, there isn’t nearly as much sex as you’d expect.

The angst is pretty high – but manageable- and the feels are also correspondingly high.

In audio format, Nick J Russo does a great job of brining the myriad voices to life – which is tough, because everyone will eventually star in their own book – so keeping everyone voiced in a unique way is important.

I really enjoyed this as a series and in audio format and recommend it to fans of mpreg and shifter romances.

4.5 of 5 stars

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Noble Intentions Audiobook by Andrew Grey Narrated by Robert Nieman

audiobookreview

Dreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/noble-intentions-by-andrew-grey-8681-b

Blurb

Robert Ashton is in for the surprise of a lifetime. His mother, a bit of a rebel, raised him away from the rest of the family, and it’s not until he’s contacted by his lawyer about an inheritance that he learns who he truly is: the new Earl of Hantford. His legacy includes ownership of the historic Ashton Park Estate—which needs repairs Robert cannot afford. He’ll simply do what the nobility has done for centuries when in need of money. He’ll marry it.

Tech wizard Daniel Fabian is wealthy and successful. In fact, he has almost everything—except a title to make him worthy in the eyes of the old-money snobs he went to prep school with. His high school reunion is looming, and he’s determined to attend it as a member of the aristocracy.

That’s where Robert comes in.

Daniel has the money, Robert has the name, and both of them know they can help each other out. But their marriage of convenience has the potential to become a real love match—unless a threat to Daniel’s business ruins everything.

Review

I’d had this book on my TBR list but hadn’t gotten to it by the time the audiobook came out, so I was psyched to listen to it, as I usually read a book before I listen and I consider it a treat to listen to a book for my first exposure to a story.

In general I’m a fan of Andrew Grey and I find his books to be a reliable source of low angst, feel-good romance that you can trust for a solidly enjoyable experience. Some of his stories really touch me and some are just pleasant, but rarely am I disappointed.

I was disappointed with this.

Part of the reason why – I think – is because the narrator choice was just wrong. I’m actually a fan of Robert Nieman and I find his narrations to be enjoyable most of the time. But he has a specific style and tenor to his voice that really didn’t match up with this story and his lack of appropriate accents was glaring.

I don’t know how much “artistic license” an author has when choosing a narrator, but I do think someone else would have been a better choice. Nieman used a vague British accent inconsistently for the British characters and gave no Texan accent to Daniel despite the fact that his accent is referenced in the story. He also gave no New York accent to anyone though the story is set in the city for some of the time.

I could have looked that over except that Nieman also has a style that is more rambling and chaotic with speed changes and pauses that aren’t always what I’d predict and that can really work in some cases (ie Amy Lane’s Clear Water) but didn’t work here. He also mispronounced a few words and that always bugs me.

Nieman is easy enough to listen to and the sound quality was fine but I don’t think he added to the story.

Now, about the story. I love the premise and I thought Grey did a fair job of making me “believe” these two guys could form a partnership in this day and age based on the idea that they each offered something the other needed. However, Daniel’s “need” was weak at best and didn’t seem to fit given that he was already leery of “gold-diggers” before he and Robert met. I wanted him to spend more time explaining why Robert’s version of gold-digging was okay before he accepted the proposal.

Beyond a very superficial amount of concern regarding distance and the particulars of the partnership there is almost no tension in this story. As a result there is very little chemistry or drive for the relationship on an emotional level either. When our MCs get their HEA it didn’t feel “hard won” or even that difficult and I wasn’t that invested in the outcome.

I stuck with the story easily enough and wasn’t ever tempted to stop, but it wasn’t something I’d recommend to a friend either.

All in all it was like bland tea and dry toast – it filled some empty spaces but that’s about it.

 

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Retro Read: Eastern Embrace (King’s Command Book 2) by Stormy Glenn and Olivia Black

Amazon Link

https://www.amazon.com/Eastern-Embrace-Command-Publishing-Everlasting-ebook/dp/B00TXV73SY/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1490839590&sr=1-1&keywords=eastern+embrace

Blurb
By the King’s Command… Daimyo Akihiro Shimada didn’t have the hatred for humans that many of his kind did. It was a known fact that humans were weak. Every dragon knew that. When the king commands him to take a human as a mate, Akihiro is instantly smitten with Isei but fully aware that he must treat his mate with gentle care, even if his gut instincts say otherwise. Isei Hironaka is a second son. He has no chance of ever being anything more than he is until he is forced to impersonate his brother at the King’s coronation ceremony. When the new king orders him to mate with a dragon, Isei is positive his ruse will be discovered. Mating to strengthen the bond between clan and clutch is one thing. Staying mated is an all together different story, especially when those around Akihiro and Isei believe dragons and humans have no business falling in love and they will do everything within their power to keep them apart.

Review

Series previously reviewed here:
http://kimichanexperience.com/kings-command-series-by-stormy-glenn-and-olivia-black/

In each book of this series the king pairs a human with a dragon shifter (or two) and there is initially disgust by one or both at the pairing with another species. The general theme of hate, followed by insta-love, problem/separation, reunion is also in all 5 books. There are some pretty fun “differences” between human anatomy and dragon anatomy. Aaaand everyone ends up pregnant at some point. So each of the books is fairly similar but has their own unique points and – I gotta tell ya – I loved this series! Book 2, Eastern Embrace is my favorite for quite a few reasons, but it will give you a sense of the series. They don’t need to be read in order.
The writing pair of Stormy Glenn and Olivia Black is an excellent one. Stormy (I think) tempers some of Olivia’s darker tendencies and Olivia seems to add some grounding to Stormy’s more fantastical nature. Both are great at hot male on male romance and so, so creative!

In book one the world is set up – sort of Medieval with a twist – where the King is magical and is protecting his boundaries by pairing up humans and dragon-shifters so that all the beings in the area will be on the same “side”. When the King mates the couple they have 24 hours to bond then they must go to their home to present a united front to their “subjects”. In this case the couple has previously met but there was a big misunderstanding and now they must see if they can find that love again.

In book two the human is not the actual leader of his people, but a stand in for his brother. He ends up being mated to the dragon and therefore the new leader by default even though he is quite small and timid. It’s this timidity that makes his new dragon keep him sequestered away (at the advice of the evil midwife) which ultimately leads him to believe he is not good for anything and thus gets him almost killed. (This is my favorite of the series!)

What I loved about this was the deep, deep pain felt by Isei (the human) then the amazing remorse shown by the dragon, Akihiro, who does absolutely everything wrong. There are some family drama moments and lots of dragon lovin’.

I loved this entire series and this book the most – highly recommended to fans of shifter romance with a strong hurt/comfort element and mpreg!

4.5 of 5 stars

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Tall, Dark, and Deported by Bru Baker

release day reviewDreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/tall-dark-and-deported-by-bru-baker-8257-b

Blurb

Crossing the border into love.

Snap decisions and misguided ideas bring Portuguese national Mateus Fontes and businessman Crawford Hargrave together at the Canadian border crossing.

Mateus is caught in a catch-22. With his almost-expired tourist visa, entrance to Canada is denied, but the US won’t let him back in either. Crawford thinks he’s solved things when he tells the border agent they’re engaged, and it works—except now they have to actually get married before either of them can get back into the United States. But Crawford has been burned by marriage once, and he’s determined not to make that mistake again.

Neither of them expects real feelings to bloom out of their fake marriage, but they do. And the two of them have to learn how to be honest with each other to make things work, which is especially hard when their entire marriage is based on lies.

Review

This is a very, very sweet book that fits the “trope” perfectly.

If you’ve been reading all or most of the books in the Dreamspun series – this reminds me a lot of Jacob Flores’ book Suddenly Yours (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/31825486-suddenly-yours). Crawford doesn’t want to muddy the waters with sex so they agree (although Mateus is reluctant) to be celibate while they remain married. In that sense, most of the relationship building is strictly platonic and it really gives the story that “Harlequin Romance” feel – where the two romantic leads pine for one another longingly for most of the book as they slowly get to know one another.

If you enjoyed Suddenly Yours, you’ll love this as much. The character development is well done and though I didn’t always like how Davis – the ex- played such a prominent role – I felt most of this was solid, character driven romance with a very, very light dash of sexual tension.

Highly enjoyable!

3.75 (rounded to 4 ) of 5 stars

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The Heart of Texas (Texas Series Book 1) Audiobook by RJ Scott Narrated by Sean Crisden

audiobookreview

Audible Link

http://www.audible.com/pd/Fiction/The-Heart-of-Texas-Audiobook/B01JQB9JPK/ref=a_search_c4_1_1_srTtl?qid=1484683587&sr=1-1

Blurb

Riley Hayes, the playboy of the Hayes family, is a young man who seems to have it all: money, a career he loves, and his pick of beautiful women. His father, CEO of HayesOil, passes control of the corporation to his two sons; but a stipulation is attached to Riley’s portion. Concerned about Riley’s lack of maturity, his father requires that Riley ‘marry and stay married for one year to someone he loves’.
Angered by the requirement, Riley seeks a means of bypassing his father’s stipulation. Blackmailing Jack Campbell into marrying him for love suits Riley’s purpose. There is no mention in his father’s documents that the marriage had to be with a woman and Jack Campbell is the son of Riley Senior’s arch rival. Win win.
Riley marries Jack and abruptly his entire world is turned inside out. Riley hadn’t counted on the fact that Jack Campbell, quiet and unassuming rancher, is a force of nature in his own right.
This is a story of murder, deceit, the struggle for power, lust and love, the sprawling life of a rancher and the whirlwind existence of a playboy. But under and through it all, as Riley learns over the months, this is a tale about family and everything that that word means.

Review

Man! This brings back memories.

This was one of my first m/m romance series, and I fell in LOVE with Riley and Jack. They are a super hot, GFY couple, with two VERY alpha personalities who have a TON of super hot sex. This series is definitely up there as being one of the reasons I fell in love with this sub-genre.

All of the drama reminded me of stories long since passed. Depending on your age – you might be reminded of TV’s Dallas (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0077000/) or Dynasty (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0081856/?ref_=nv_sr_1 ). Especially since this is set in Texas, the rich cowboy feel is unmistakable. As a reader, I was reminded of Janet Dailey and her Calder series (https://www.goodreads.com/series/53488 ). That was one of my first introductions into Romance as a genre and it plus Johanna Lindsey (https://www.goodreads.com/series/43347-wyoming )made me an addict!

In any case, I’ll say that the all the drama didn’t bother me on the first read through, but as a listener, who’d already read the book, I did get a bit bogged down by all the nonsense. It did seem a bit OTT. However, Sean Crisden’s narration makes it all mostly palatable.

Since there are SO man characters, having someone as gifted as Sean do the narration makes listening to this the adventure it should be. He gives each and every person of importance a unique voice and I really love how he depicts Jack and Riley. (Though even Sean’s gorgeous voice couldn’t make me love the nick-name “Het-boy”!)

I figure there are two groups of listeners out there. Those of you who’ve read the series and are eager to see what Sean did with it and those who’ve never read the series. To those of you who have read the series – I’ll say that you will be SO PLEASED with this narration, and you should absolutely give this a go! For those of you who are new to the series – I’d read some of the reviews and decide if you’re a fan of drama and soap opera-esque story lines (ie “That’s not your father!” and forced marriages and Last Will and Testament decrees and new babies. As the series progresses we get other types of drama – victims of abuse, etcetera, too.) then this is for you. I’d say this is also great for fans of first-time gay romance lovers, enemies to lovers, and cowboys.

I give the audiobook 4.5 of 5 stars because Sean Crisden is amazing and FWIW the series is a lot of fun and has a lot of great characters.

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Chosen Pride (L’Ange Book 3) By Mary Calmes

release day review

Dreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/chosen-pride-by-mary-calmes-7923-b

33137778Blurb

Jon Slade finally met his mate, but instead of it being the happiest day of his life, it became the saddest when wolf shifter Kelvin MacCurdy chose his obligations over their fated bond, leaving Jon to pick up the pieces of his shattered dreams. Lucky for him, Roman Howell, his boss and the owner of L’Ange, saw promise in the forlorn lion and put him to work so he wouldn’t have time to sit around and lick his wounds while he waited for his wounded spirit to heal.

Then the wolves make an official visit to L’Ange, and Jon finds out Kelvin’s pining for him is taking its toll on his position as the king’s champion. Though Kelvin’s training and the expectations of others steer him toward an intended mate, Jon has an unbreakable hold on his heart, and it’s no longer possible for Kelvin to keep himself from where he truly belongs.

But the conclave brings more than Kelvin to the château. It also brings a challenge to jackal alpha Quade Danas, a threat that Quade and Roman, Arman and Linus, and Jon and Kelvin may have to fight in order to keep L’Ange’s family intact. Jon never wanted to lead a pride, but the loyalty and devotion to one is ingrained in him. Kelvin was raised to punish anyone who questioned his king, but the calling to protect others runs through his veins just as deeply. To come out on the other side of the battle together, Jon and Kelvin will have to hold the darkness of solitary pride and broken hearts at bay—and find strength in belonging to something bigger than themselves.

Review

I’ve been waiting for this for SO LONG! I ADORE this series in both it’s written and audiobook formats. I listen to them frequently so I feel like I know these guys personally LOL.

Jon started out as a sort of “bad guy” in that he was meant to seduce Roman (to get a promotion) but couldn’t because Roman was in love with Quade. Jon seems like he’s lazy or at least without direction, but Roman sees something else in him and decides to “keep” him at L’Ange. Then we see him again when he travels to New York to help Arman with Linus’ revenge and there’s where he meets Kelvin.

We got a delicious hint of their matehood there and thus the anxious waiting for this book!

Kelvin is a wolf-shifter who (we find out) has a specific set of (TERRIBLE) rules to follow regarding his station. (Mary’s wolves are NOT noble creatures in general but rather barbaric – which is funny because her Hyena and Jackals are very noble!) He’s never been with a man and (at first) feels he can’t be with Jon due to his job title and the subsequent duties associated with his title.

However… there’s some pretty exciting twists and turns which put our poor heart-broken Jon in the same proximity as Kelvin (who’s also hurting) and their mate-bond cannot be denied.

But before all that – there’s a wrinkle – and this wrinkle had me scratching my head and wondering where the story was headed – and that has to do with a certain assistant Linus hires.

(I’m not going to elaborate because that’s the fun of reading the story yourself!)

In any case, it’s a Mary story, so you know it’s good. You know it ends happily. You know there’s going to be some violence and some excitement. (WOW – yes there is!) Fans of the series will get to see more of our previous MCs – I LOVE LINUS so much in this!!! And Arman has a scene that brought me to tears.

Highly recommended for fans of the series and the author, but I would read books one and two first (because they are awesome and because they add so much to this story.)

(I can’t wait for the Audio – Tristan James is gonna ROCK Kelvin’s accent – I hope!)

4.25 of 5 stars

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The Greek Tycoon’s Green Card Groom Audiobook by Kate McMurray Narrated by Rusty Topsfield

audiobookreview

Dreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/the-greek-tycoons-green-card-groom-by-kate-mcmurray-7221-b

618wr5etohl-_sl300_Blurb

Marriage gets less convenient when love is involved.

It started simple: Ondrej Kovac marries Archie Katsaros so Ondrej can stay in the US, away from his judgmental family in eastern Europe. Archie marries Ondrej in exchange for the money to bail out his failing company. It’s a fraud neither man is convinced he can pull off.

But as Archie introduces Ondrej to New York society and Ondrej proves his skill in the office, they start to discover a connection between them. Can they overcome the rocky foundation their relationship was built on, meddling immigration agents, gossip columnists determined to out their deception, and an aggressive executive set on selling Archie’s company out from under him? Only if they can prove to each other their love is worth fighting for.

Review
(Book reviewed here previously)

Ondrej (pronounced Andre) has inherited some money from his grandfather and has a desire to leave his oppressive Czech home to explore New York. He gets an internship with Archie’s company and enjoys his work there. When his internship ends and he fails to get another job to extend his visa, he and Archie work out an agreement wherein he gets a green card and Archie’s company gets a cash influx.

Now the two, who were never even interested in one another before, are forced into a relationship that has them in the public eye.

**

This story, with it’s forced marriage trope, should have been one of my favorites. I love the idea of “arranged marriages or marriages of convenience” but this just didn’t work for me as much as I’d like it to. It’s not easy for me to put my finger on my issues with the story, but the one thing I can think to say is it lacked a “passionate” feel. It wasn’t a bad story – not at all – it just wasn’t anything that made me feel super compelled to keep reading.

First, I never quite felt the chemistry between Ondrej and Archie. It was a bit too dry. Almost, “since we’re here we might as well have sex” instead of “now I have an excuse to hump you like crazy!”. Even when they are having their “sex marathon” I didn’t feel their passion.

Second, I didn’t like Ondrej’s character much. He was a bit too laid back for me. I didn’t see him as passionate about anything in particular.

Finally, there wasn’t much passion in the rest of the story. The angst was tepid at best and didn’t do much to keep my interest. Yes, they were worried about the company and proving their marriage was “real” but – for whatever reason – I didn’t feel any real urgency about these issues.

The epilogue was super sweet and did manage to bring up my estimation a bit, but I wish that level of passion had been kept throughout the story.

The writing was technically good and I didn’t find editing errors, but I wasn’t that compelled by this couple. It might just be a matter of taste or timing, and if you like the trope you might have a different feel, so I urge you to read other reviews and see if it appeals to others in a way that didn’t work for me.

Audio

Rusty Topsfield narrates this and he attempts to give all the many different characters a unique and authentic voice. His accent for Ondrej doesn’t sound Czech to me (but I’m no expert) and it tends to come and go throughout the story. I did like Archie’s voice, solid, natural, and warm.  Sometimes the other characters sound a bit more like caricatures (cartoonish) than authentic people (like big booming Banker-man voice and OTT Socialite voice) but it does keep the book entertaining. His non-dialog reading still tends to end on an upswing, like a lilt, that bothers me at times, but after awhile I was able to ignore it.

I think this is a good way to listen to this story but I don’t think it adds much to the overall experience.

3 of 5 stars for both book and narration

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