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

Time to Laugh: Behind the Curtain Audiobook by Amy Lane Narrated by Hugh Bradley

Dreamspinner Press

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/behind-the-curtain-by-amy-lane-6070-b

Blurb

Dawson Barnes recognizes his world is very small and very charmed. Running his community college theater like a petty god, he and his best friend, Benji know they’ll succeed as stage techs after graduation. His father adores him, Benji would die for him, and Dawson never doubted the safety net of his family, even when life hit him below the belt.

But nothing prepared him for falling on Jared Emory’s head.

Aloof dance superstar Jared is a sweet, vulnerable man and Dawson’s life suits him like a fitted ballet slipper. They forge a long-distance romance from their love of the theater and the magic of Denny’s. At first it’s perfect: Dawson gets periodic visits and nookie from a gorgeous man who “gets” him—and Jared gets respite from the ultra-competitive world of dancing that almost consumed him.

That is until Jared shows up sick and desperate and Dawson finally sees the distance between them concealed painful things Jared kept inside. If he doesn’t grow up—and fast—his “superstar” might not survive his own weaknesses. That would be a shame, because the real, fragile Jared that Dawson sees behind the curtain is the person he can see spending his life with.

Review:

This is a sweet story of two people, seemingly in opposite phases of life, coming together and finding love.  Dawson is totally adorkable and Jared is too cool for school.  They are utterly perfect for each other!

Amy is so good at giving us these bony limbed-kersplang-awkward characters that you can’t help but absolutely adore and then pairing them with a masterful, solid, yet somehow broken-needing-to-be-fixed character.  Dawson says all these ridiculous things and it just works.  Just when you think Dawson is the one who needs to grow up, you realize that, no, he is the rock in this relationship and poor Jared is the one who needs to be rescued.

Amy also excels at “friends” and Dawson’s friends (and family) are so wonderful and though they may try to steal the story, they only add to its richness and texture, by giving it greater depth.

The dialog in this book is funny, sweet, touching and wonderful, just like Jared and Dawson’s love for each other. I really enjoyed these guys and I hope we get to see them in future books, I didn’t want this one to end! 

Audio:

The narrator, Hugh Bradley, is new to me, but I will definitely look for him in the future. He did an amazing job, really brining the characters to life with his voices and inflection. He seemed to really “get” Dawson and Jared and their story. Sometimes a narrator can mess up a story for you, if you have already read it and already have a feel for the characters in your head. But Hugh seemed to be reading the same story as me, and I really enjoyed listening to his version. I highly recommend this audible as a companion to the book or all on its own.

6 of 5 stars

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Copy Purchased for Review

Time to Laugh: Beauty and the Bookworm by Nick Pagent

Good Reads Link

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

Blurb

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

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

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

 

 

Review

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

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

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

3.5 of 5 stars

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Purchased for Review

 

 

Enemies to Lovers: A Different Light by Morningstar Ashley

Good Reads Link

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/37553326-a-different-light?from_search=true

Blurb
Bennett Cole had lived next door to Mitchell “Mac” Campbell, III for eighteen years of his life, in the small town of White Acre. They’d never gotten along, never seen eye to eye, and never understood one another…not that they’d ever cared to try.

But when Bennett’s so-called buddies ditched him at a party in the woods where he was assaulted and left for dead, Bennett pulled through. The emotional scars rendered him too terrified to go back to school and face his “friends” or his attackers. With little choice, his family packed up and left town.

Ten years later—at the request of his mother—Bennett returned to the place he’d grown up and the home he’d once felt safe, to oversee the repairs before his childhood house was sold. The contractor? None other than Mac, the once annoying boy next door, who still lives there in the home his parents gifted him.

Being in such close proximity—working together every day, to repair the Coles’ family home—Bennett and Mac’s contentious relationship goes from bad to worse as their personalities continue to clash. But their heated exchanges may not be as antagonistic as they seem. And when new information is revealed, can the men begin to see each other in a different light?

Review
We were asked to pick 4 or 5 books in the enemies to lovers genre for the month of February in honor of Valentine’s Day. This is not a genre I actively search for so I browsed several sights and this was the first story I found that caught my interest. All I can say is it drew me in and held my interest all the way through.

This book has MC’s falling into the rut of judging a person on how they look and the job they hold. Morningstar Ashley has incorporated this whole concept into the whole storyline. Bennett is the geek, Mac is the “bad” boy. Misconceptions start as kids, and continue into their adult life. Add in parents who also compare and push their son to be more like the neighbor boy and you can see why these to MC’s grate on each other.

Morningstar Ashley has created multi dimensional characters. While Bennett is truly a geek he is also survivor. As well as brave for returning to the town where he was so viciously attacked. Mac is a tattooed, motorcycling owner of a construction company and a good friend to those closest to him.

Morningstar Ashley takes us through Bennett and Mac meeting after 10 years. The two of them butting heads with their misconceptions, to them suddenly realizing the there are 2 sides to every story. Many of the secondary characters of this book play big parts in this story and make for a well rounded storyline.

Truly a sweet boy next door story, which is well written.

5 of 5 stars
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Purchased for Review

 

Mr. January (Calendar Men #1) by Bailey Bradford

GoodReads Link
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/37541479-mr-january

Blurb

There’s no sense in pussy-footing around when it comes to love.

Albert E. Washington is a nerd and proud of it. He’s a cool cat when he shifts, but for the most part, he’s just a guy who sometimes tapes his glasses together and enjoys quality clothing like bowties and suspenders. When his boss has him acting as an errand boy, Albert finds himself in the middle of a sexy calendar photo shoot. It’s a little too much for him to process and he ends up embarrassing himself.

Gregg is Mr. January—or he will be if the photo shoot ever gets going. Injuring his back when he trips on the set isn’t going to speed things up. The appearance of a seriously hot guy who flips the switch on Gregg’s geeky-man button makes a bad day great. Now, if Gregg can just get Albert to agree to a date, if he doesn’t scare Albert off, if Albert will just pick up on the flirtatious things Gregg says…

That’s a lot of ifs, but Gregg isn’t intimidated by them. He knows his dream man when he meets him. Now all Gregg has to do is survive the photo shoot and convince Albert to give him, and love, a chance.

Review

I’m a big fan of this author’s paranormal stories. One of my favorite shifter series is her Southwestern Shifter series https://www.goodreads.com/series/48347-southwestern-shifters, so I was excited to read this based on that.

Well… though there are shifters in this story I’m not really sure why. There was little if any shifting or use of those characteristics. There wasn’t any “mate” type stuff which I adore, either. Instead this was more about a nerd and a hot guy and a mystery which only involved these guys peripherally.

I skimmed most of it and will not likely pick up more from this series.

If you’re in the mood for some slightly funny nerd/hot guy romance with a lot of smexy times – this might be for you.

2.5 of 5 stars
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Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

Audiobook: Pricks and Pragmatism by JL Merrow narrated by Mark Steadman

audiobookreview

Audible Link

https://www.audible.com/pd/Romance/Pricks-and-Pragmatism-Audiobook/B078RQWVP6?ref=a_a_search_c3_lProduct_1_18&pf_rd_p=e81b7c27-6880-467a-b5a7-13cef5d729fe&pf_rd_r=WRA3W1J65912GT8NPR0M&

Blurb

Kicked out by his father at age 16, English student Luke Corbin’s used to trading on his looks and charm to keep a roof over his head until he can make it big as a journalist. He goes for men with money, power, and looks, in that order, and he doesn’t let emotions get in the way. But when his lover tells him it’s over, Luke finds himself homeless – just as his final exams are looming.
Moving in with geeky chemical engineer Russell may be a step down for him, but Luke can’t afford to be choosy. Fully prepared to put out as usual, Luke’s confused and frustrated when Russell refuses to take advantage of him – and even more so when he finds out Russell’s saving himself for someone special.
The more time he spends with the shy, honorable man, the more Luke finds himself bowled over by Russell’s sweetness and integrity. But just as he’s coming to terms with his own wish to be that special guy for Russell, Luke has to face facts: he’s fallen for the one man he can’t seem to charm.

Review
This was a book I’d originally read early on in my “new to m/m” days. I absolutely fell in love with JL Merrow’s sense of humor and her ability to make unique and quirky characters.

Luke is a tough cookie to love. He’s brash, bold, callous about sex and not afraid to use people to make his way in life. Russell is his polar opposite. Russell is quiet, unassuming, a virgin!, kind and wouldn’t dream of hurting a fly. When the two meet neither really knows what to do with the other.

What makes this book wonderful is Russell’s steadfast devotion and the absolute turnaround Luke makes.

Seeing Luke with different guys was hard and kept this from being one of my “favorite” books. I think it was important to know about from a character development perspective but I’m not sure we needed to read about it… IMHO.

Having Mark Steadman do the narration just adds that layer of authenticity you can only get by listening to a British actor perform such a British story. He does a lovely job with the emotions and comedy as well.

I give the story a 4 of 5 stars and the narration a 5 of 5 stars for an overall 4.5 of 5 stars.

If you’re a fan of nerdy virgins, british humor and quirky characters – give this a go!

Highly recommended!

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Copy Purchased for Review

Retro Review: Timber Pack Chronicles (Timber Pack Chronicles #1) by Rob Colton

GoodReads Link
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20937536-timber-pack-chronicles?ac=1&from_search=true
Blurb

The object of Parker Montgomery’s crush is big man on campus Colton Butler, who is much more than he appears to be.

Colton has been watching Parker from a distance, patiently waiting for the day when he will finally be able to claim his destined mate.

When Parker is threatened by a rogue wolf, Colton’s instincts take over and he finds that his actions have consequences that threaten to tear his pack apart.

 

 

 

Review

This is one of my “oft re-visited” stories. I love how sweet Colton is to Parker and how loyal his pack is to him as well.

I love the instant connection between the two and the total immersion Parker gets into shifter life.

I could do with a little less sex. These are 18 year old boys and the writing matches that – lots and lots and lots of sex and descriptions of jizz and boners and ….lots of it.

The pack dynamics are interesting and I love the secondary characters too.

If you’re a shifter romance fan and you haven’t run across this series – check it out!

4.5 of 5 stars

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Copy Purchased for Review

Holidays: New Game, Start (2017 Advent Calendar Daily – Stocking Stuffers) by CS Poe

Dreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/2017-advent-calendar-daily-delivery-package-stocking-stuffers-9042-b

Blurb
Reclusive medieval scholar, Edgar Royal, has a crush. On a guy. Not a big deal, except that said guy, Walter Chase, is a famous online gamer who has no idea Edgar even exists. Edgar has harbored these feelings for nearly a year, and when Walter announces on Twitter that he’ll be visiting New York City as a guest at the GamerOn convention, Edgar decides he’ll be one of the thousands of fans who responds to the message.
He definitely doesn’t expect to be singled out by the humble, gorgeous, out-and-proud heartthrob. And when it comes to dealing with people, Edgar’s skills are pretty nonexistent. Even with Walter giving all the right signals, Edgar lacks the courage do anything about the mutual attraction growing through their online courtship. He’s always been better with the written word, so maybe the perfect Christmas gift will say what he cannot. But if Edgar can’t get the present to Walter before the convention ends, he may miss out on the boyfriend of a lifetime.

Review
I just loved Edgar and Walter. Edgar is so insecure about himself that he can’t believe someone famous and wonderful like Walter would even know he existed. Sometimes you’ve just get to take a chance and go for what you want. And that’s what Edgar did and it won him the man of his dreams. They seem so suited to each other. Both of them paying attention to how the other one liked to be wooed. Part of me wants to know more and part of me is content with this little snapshot into their budding relationship. Lovely feel good story that fits any time of year not just Christmas.

4 of stars out of 5

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Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

 

 

 

Audiobook: The Weight of it All by NR Walker Narrated by Joel Leslie

audiobookreview

Audible Link

https://www.audible.com/pd/Romance/The-Weight-of-It-All-Audiobook/B075RBYT5V/ref=a_search_c4_1_1_srTtl?qid=1510272996&sr=1-1

Blurb

After being dumped by his long-term boyfriend for being overweight, Henry Beckett decides to make some drastic changes. In a vain attempt at getting his boyfriend back, Henry does the most absurdly frightening thing he can think of.
He joins a gym.
Reed Henske is a personal trainer who isn’t sure he’ll ever be ready to date again. He’s sick of guys who are only interested in the perfect body image, never seeing him for who he really is.
As Reed tortures Henry with things like diet and exercise, Henry enamours Reed with recipes and laughter. As the friendship lines start to blur, Henry is convinced there’s no way Thor-like Reed could ever be interested in a guy like him.
Reed just has to convince Henry that life isn’t about reaching your ideal bodyweight. It’s about finding your perfect counterweight.

Review

(Book reviewed here previously)

I have very mixed feelings about this book. I almost didn’t read it. I am very leery of books that make popular “make overs”. Every 1980s movie where the geek/nerd/fatty turns it around and finds love sets my nerve endings on overdrive.

I never thought Henry was invested in his own fitness as anything other than a way to get back at Graham until halfway. This bothered me a lot. I wasn’t convinced that he “wanted” his makeover, more that he felt he had to, or be alone. That’s a terrible feeling. It supports society’s belief that how we look is something we should be punished for and Henry was “punishing” himself for how he looked. Books like this remind us all that happiness is just one more diet and exercise program away.

Reed was wonderful and I approved of his methods for the most part, but I also felt like he never talked with Henry about what he wanted for himself and just bulldozed him/bullied him into training for the Bay Run. Sure, Henry kept coming in – and ultimately that was the proof that Henry wanted it – but I really wanted him and Reed to have a serious discussion about Henry’s goals and motivations. I wanted Henry to want this for himself and not for anyone else.

 

Audio

 

Joel Leslie, as always makes this such a more personal experience by really drawing the listener into the drama.  Because this is a funny book it’s vital to have precise timing as well as all those character voices.  Joel is more than up to the task – he excels at that.

Listening made this a better experience for me, so I give the audiobook a 4 of 5 stars!

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Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

A Shining Knight By Rebecca Locksley

eXtasy Books

http://www.extasybooks.com/a-shining-knight/

Blurb

Can a hard-bitten, horse-mounted fighting man adjust to the peaceful modern world? When nerdy medieval language scholar Gabriel Sussman finds himself responsible for two medieval crusaders stranded in the modern world, the whole question is complicated by his serious crush on the knight, Jordan De Courcy. Surely such a manly man could never be interested in someone like Gabriel. Or are Gabriel’s slim, pale-skinned good looks just the things to appeal to medieval tastes?

Review

I love time travel books, so when given the opportunity to review this book I jumped at the chance. I was not disappointed. Rebecca Locksley has woven a story that is both believable and interesting at the same time.

We have a Knight and his Squire dropped into the 21st century from the time of The Crusades. Because of their superstitions and fairytales they are lead to believe they are in another realm. An Elfin realm, where magic is commonplace. So much of what they first see is explained away as magic. The stories timeline travels over many months so that the 2 misplaced travelers are slowly exposed to all the modern world.

Sodomy is a crime in the knight’s time, so that even though he uses his squire for physical relief he makes no move on his benefactor. In a comedy of errors the truth comes out and Lord Jordon and Gabriel finally get together.

This story blends the belief and values of 11th century with the opportunities and advancements of the 21st century. Of a man who wants to go home to his own time where he was a man with a purpose and a titled lord, with a man who has only left his hometown once in his life and always felt he would be alone.

The sexy times are hot and the implications of the off screen times are good too. If you want a play by play of the sex scenes this is not the book for you.

4 of 5 stars

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Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review