Categories
Action/Adventure adult - 18+ Angst Level coming of age Contemporary Enemies to Lovers Heat Index Hidden Lovers m/m Mild level angst Novel 140 pgs + (80K + words) Paranormal Part of a Series Purchased Scorching/high heat Shifter

Tiger Boys by Linda Gayle

tiger boysBlurb

Grad student Jules has always felt different. He’s got buddies, sure, but relationships make him turn tail and run. Dreams of tigers and memories of a mysterious great-grandmother make him wonder if there’s something his parents aren’t telling him. When an unexpected inheritance offers clues to Jules’s destiny, he’s intrigued, to say the least. It doesn’t hurt that the news is delivered by a sexy Russian who seems to know Jules better than he knows himself.

A prince of a powerful tiger clan, Sergei Sidorenko wants to live as an ordinary man. But his family nags him to take his place as king. They offer him a deal: teach the lost prince Julian how to shape-shift and control his untapped sorcerous talent. Then Jules will be king, and war between the once-rival clans will be avoided. Most importantly, Sergei will be released from clan obligations forever. It sounds like an easy out. But Sergei doesn’t count on Jules being so temptingly innocent, so eager to learn. Lessons in sorcery turn to lessons in love. And Sergei falls hard for Jules.

Dark clouds gather over the tiger clans. In a bid to seize power, Jules’s ambitious older brother, Anton, works on the key to immortality. And he needs Jules’s flesh and blood to finish the spell. Tangled in Anton’s machinations, with a traitor in their midst, Jules and Sergei must fight for their lives—and for the love that destiny would deny them.

Review

Sergei should be the next ruler of the Tigers, but he doesn’t want the headaches. He agrees to help find the next “lost” prince and train him for the job. He tells Jules about an “inheritance” from his grandmother, a house and some other things he can’t tell him about, but needs to show him instead.

Once the two arrive at the inherited house in Connecticut Sergei shows Jules that he is not just another college kid, but actually a powerful Tiger-Shifter who is next in line to rule the clan against enemies who would steal their power.

Jules has to decide if this is the life for him after he decides that Sergei isn’t actually crazy. Sergei admits to finding Jules attractive but takes longer to admit that maybe they mean more to one another than mere hook-ups and has to decide if he can be a guy who commits.

Once they decide to break free of their past lives the enemy rears its head and the two have to work together or risk everything.

This was a free read on Kindle for me, but I would have bought it anyway. I really enjoyed Linda Gayle’s shifter universe and thought the magic and the history she described were fascinating.

The love between Jules and Sergei is sweet if not overwhelming and the ending seemed to be a solid HEA even if it was still a bit tenuous by the end.

I highly recommend this book and give it a 4 of 5 stars.

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Copy purchased for review

http://www.amazon.com/Tiger-Boys-Linda-Gayle-ebook/dp/B00LYPZIZW/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1443752188&sr=8-3&keywords=linda+Gayle

Categories
adult - 18+ Angst Level Contemporary Gay Hidden Lovers Hopelessly Crying m/m Mild/low level heat Mystery NetGalley Novel 140 pgs + (80K + words)

Stranger on a Shore by Josh Lanyon

stranger shoreBlurb

Twenty years ago young Brian Arlington, heir to Arlington fortune, was kidnapped. Though the ransom was paid, the boy was never seen again and is presumed dead. Pierce Mather, the family lawyer, now administers and controls the Arlington billions. He’s none too happy, and more than a little suspicious, when investigative journalist Griffin Hadley shows up to write about the decades-old mystery. Griff shrugs off the coldly handsome Pierce’s objections, but it might not be so easy to shrug off the objections of someone willing to do anything to keep the past buried.

Review

Josh Lanyon always give us solid writing, interesting locales, fascinating mysteries and real, charismatic MCs. Stranger on the Shore holds true to this pattern. In fact, in this book we have all that, plus a slight homage to “The Great Gatsby” that he acknowledges early on in the story.

This feels like a classic “who-done-it?” with bitchy cousins, mysterious servants, suspicious accidents and a vaguely un-trustworthy lawyer, all working together to keep the young, idealistic reporter from getting his story.

I enjoyed getting to know all of the side-characters and imagining their role in the mystery. They were cloaked with an old school intrigue and bathed in old money which made for a delightful, rich reading experience.

The romance between Griff and Pierce was slow building but ended in a somewhat startlingly happy note in a short amount of time, but was, neveretheless, very sweet. The mystery plays out very well and the ending is just fantastic.

I enjoyed reading this book and would recommend it to any Gatsby fans, Lanyon fans, and really, any mystery fans who like a touch of romance thrown in for good measure.

I give it 4.5 of 5 stars.

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Copy provided by publisher for honest review

To buy
http://www.amazon.com/Stranger-Shore-Josh-Lanyon-ebook/dp/B00I15VL86/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1406066836&sr=8-1&keywords=stranger+on+lanyon

Categories
Action/Adventure adult - 18+ Angst Level Audiobook Contemporary Cop/Crime Dreamspinner Established Couple Gay GFY/OFY Heat Index Hidden Lovers Homophobia Hopelessly Crying m/m Mystery Novel 140 pgs + (80K + words) Part of a Series Scorching/high heat

Dirty Laundry (Book 3 Cole McGinnis Series) Audiobook by Rhys Ford Narrated by Greg Tremblay

DirtyLaundryAUDLgBlurb
For ex-cop turned private investigator Cole McGinnis, each day brings a new challenge. Too bad most of them involve pain and death. Claudia, his office manager and surrogate mother, is still recovering from a gunshot, and Cole’s closeted boyfriend, Kim Jae-Min, suddenly finds his teenaged sister dumped in his lap. Meanwhile, Cole has his own sibling problems—most notably, a mysterious half brother from Japan whom his older brother, Mike, is determined they welcome with open arms.
As if his own personal dramas weren’t enough, Cole is approached by Madame Sun, a fortune-teller whose clients have been dying at an alarming rate. Convinced someone is after her customers, she wants the matter investigated, but the police think she’s imagining things. Hoping to put Sun’s mind at ease, Cole takes the case and finds himself plunged into a Gordian knot of lies and betrayal where no one is who they are supposed to be and Death seems to be the only card in Madame Sun’s deck.

Review

I am late to the game as far as Rhys Ford goes – for whatever reason I had not read anything by her – despite the fabulous reviews, etc. DAMMIT! Is all I can say – she is fantastic! I started with the Cole McGinnis series and I am so psyched that I have all the others ahead of me to read! If you are reading/listening to Dirty Laundry you are probably well versed in the world of Cole and Jae – an amazingly sweet love story between a reluctant Korean man and a kind of goofy PI/ex-cop set in LA. You could read each book as a stand alone, Rhys does a good job of catching you up on the basics of each of her characters, but the story is far more rich when read as part of the series in order.

There is so much good to say about this series and this author – it is hard to choose where to start. First Rhys is an amazing writer. She does an amazing job of describing LA, the characters, their emotions, the Korean/Japanese culture in America – everything. She is lyrical and poetic, touching and sweet. She is a joy to read because all that she writes is so rich and detailed without being overdone and excessive.

Second, the love story. Oh man… so wonderful. Jae and Cole are so sweet together and in this book we get to see their relationship really gelling and it is not only tender and romantic but the smexy scenes – HOT! Those two can really “get it on”, but the tenderness is what does it for me. I just want to love on Jae and tell him it will all work out, but Cole does a pretty good job of that.

Third, the mystery. Ok this is the hard part. Here the reading vs listening raises its head a bit. Without paying close attention to the mystery it can be easy to lose some of the threads. The unfamiliar words, the quirky characters, the variety of places… can be difficult while listening (for me – clearly a visual vs auditory person). It is easier when I’m reading to follow more closely – I just substitute my own name for the Korean and it somehow works. But – like the first 2 books the mystery is exciting and the people are hilarious and you don’t see it coming til the end. I LOVE how every other adventure has at least one moment when “and then the shooting started”. This makes me crack up. Cole is like this superhero who is impervious to bullets, and poor Jae has to keep patching him back together.

Fourth, the characters. Ichiro – Delicious! I know from sneaking a peek at the next book that Ichiro becomes more and more involved and I am so happy to see that! What a great new addition! I loved learning about Mad-dog and Mike, I wanted to kill Barbara and Cole’s dad, Tiffany is growing on me and Bobby – like always- is proving to be the best friend a guy could have. Oh, and don’t forget Claudia- so good Cole has someone to mother him.

I can’t recommend this author or the series any more – 6 out of 5 hearts.

Audio

Greg Tremblay gets it.

He just gets it.

If you have the kindle version, you can read along and listen at the same time – don’t ask me why I did this, but I did. Maybe to help with some of the Korean words? Anyway. What I learned was that Greg will sometimes go off script – just a little. He clearly understands the dialog and the story so much he can extemporize a little – it’s as if he is these guys! And – somehow – he can do Cole AND Jae spot on, though they are such different people. Amazing! Like the radio stars of old, he is a true actor.

His reading of the smexy scenes will make you absolutely melt. It almost feels a little … invasive. It’s like you’re listening at their door, he’s so convincing. He does such a thorough job of adding in emotion and texture to his reading. He knows his vocabulary in English, French, Korean, Japanese, no easy feat. (Nothing annoys me more than a narrator who doesn’t know how to pronounce things, isn’t that their job?) He even has an amazing singing voice! (We saw this in Dirty Kiss with Scarlet). I just love his take on the story and am so glad he did all three books and I am hoping he will be doing book 4.

This is one of those books where I can honestly say I loved the audio version more than the written. Why? Greg Tremblay. He ACTS out this book for you, helps through the unusual words, and gives depth and timing to the emotion in the book. I absolutely recommend this book, this narrator and this author.

Greg Tremblay’s reading of the smexy scenes will make you absolutely melt. It almost feels a little … invasive. It’s like you’re listening at their door, he’s so convincing.

6 out of 5 stars

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Copy provided by Dreamspinner

http://www.audible.com/pd/Fiction/Dirty-Laundry-Audiobook/B00L3FJEBM/ref=a_search_c4_1_2_srTtl_s?qid=1443746459&sr=1-2

Categories
Action/Adventure adult - 18+ Angst Level Contemporary Enemies to Lovers Gay GFY/OFY Heat Index Hidden Lovers Homophobia m/m Mid level angst Military Novel 140 pgs + (80K + words) Paranormal Part of a Series Purchased Scorching/high heat Shifter

Strength of the Pack (Book 1) by Kendall McKenna

strengthBlurb
A Marine werewolf and his commander bring legends to life while surviving combat deployment in Afghanistan.

Lieutenant Lucas Young doesn’t know much about shifters. When Sergeant Noah Hammond is assigned to Lucas’ platoon, the Marine Corps’ True Alpha werewolf challenges the Lieutenant’s authority and his self-control. As Lucas learns to dominate and command Noah, he struggles against a strong attraction and deepening emotional bond. During their combat deployment to Afghanistan, Lucas and Noah begin mirroring legendary partnerships. Their bond and their power grow as they survive dangerous combat and ambushes. When one of them is wounded in battle, they both must embrace the strength of their bond before they lose each other forever.

Review

Lucas is a commanding officer in Afghanistan, one of his men is Noah, a True Alpha werewolf. Though in military terms Lucas outranks him, Noah, in terms of werewolf hierarchy is about as high ranking as it gets. The military – known for its flexibility – (sarcasm) – actually accounts for this and allows the wolves their own pecking order within the military ranks.

Everything seems to be working out well, but there is an extra something going on between Noah and Lucas. We find out, over time, that Lucas and Noah share an extra special bond between them and their ability to communicate with one another makes them invaluable on a war front.

The bulk of this book is spent avoiding explaining to Lucas the nature of their bond, and expecting him to go along with it, which he does. The two grow closer as soldiers and friends and then lovers, all the while muddling through confusion as to why he feels compelled to do the things he does.

Clearly Kendall McKenna knows her military speak well, she uses all the three letter acronyms and jargon with a practiced hand.

Her version of shifters is really quite sweet, given the setting, and though I was driven crazy by the fact that a lot of the conflict could have been eliminated by one simple conversation, I appreciated the fact that these are fairly recalcitrant alpha males who are unused to explaining their feelings and therefore were not likely to have a sit-down and put it all out there.

I had wanted there to be more “declarations” of love but, if you read between the lines you will see their feelings are more than clear and if you continue on with the series their love for one another is never in doubt.

I highly recommend this book and give it a 4.5 of 5 stars.

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Purchased the book for review

http://www.amazon.com/Strength-Pack-Tameness-Wolf/dp/1608208443/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1443751846&sr=8-1&keywords=strength+of+the+pack

Categories
adult - 18+ Angst Level Book coming of age DA Dreamspinner Established Couple Gay GFY/OFY Heat Index Hidden Lovers Homophobia Hurt/Abuse m/m Mid level angst Mid level steam/heat Novella 20-160 pgs (20k-40k words) Part of a Series Purchased second chance at love

Speechless and The Gig by Kim Fielding

Blurbs:

speechlessSpeechless

Travis Miller has a machining job, a cat named Elwood, and a pathetic love life. The one bright spot in his existence is the handsome guitar player he sometimes passes on his way home from work. But when he finally gathers the courage to speak to the man, Travis learns that former novelist Drew Clifton suffers from aphasia: Drew can understand everything Travis says, but he is unable to speak or write.

The two lonely men form a friendship that soon blossoms into romance. But communication is only one of their challenges-there’s also Travis’s inexperience with love and his precarious financial situation. If words are the bridge between two people, what will keep them together?

gigThe Gig

An accident in Drew Clifton’s past left the former novelist with aphasia, unable to communicate through either speech or writing. Through sheer strength of will, he built a quiet but lonely life for himself. But now he’s fallen in love with Travis Miller.

Travis has his own issues—a permanent eye injury and unemployment. But he’s determined to help Drew find ways to engage and succeed again in the wider world, and a guitar-playing gig at a local coffeehouse seems like a good start.

Dylan Warner and Chris Nock happen to be in the audience that evening, and they have a few niggling problems of their own. Perhaps a chance meeting will provide solutions that might benefit all of them.

 

I loved these books so much.  They rank among my all time favorite in the genre.  See my full review here:  http://kimichanexperience.com/speechless-gig-kim-fielding/

From Dreamspinner:

http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=3105

and

http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=3871

Categories
Action/Adventure adult - 18+ Angst Level Audiobook Contemporary Dreamspinner Gay GFY/OFY Heat Index Hidden Lovers Homophobia Hopelessly Crying m/m Mystery Novel 140 pgs + (80K + words) Part of a Series Purchased Scorching/high heat

Dirty Secret (Book 2 Cole McGinnis Series) by Rhys Ford Narrated by Greg Tremblay

dirty secretBlurb

Loving Kim Jae-Min isn’t always easy: Jae is gun-shy about being openly homosexual. Ex-cop turned private investigator Cole McGinnis doesn’t know any other way to be. Still, he understands where Jae is coming from. Traditional Korean men aren’t gay-at least not usually where people can see them.
But Cole can’t spend too much time unraveling his boyfriend’s issues. He has a job to do. When a singer named Scarlet asks him to help find Park Dae-Hoon, a gay Korean man who disappeared nearly two decades ago, Cole finds himself submerged in the tangled world of rich Korean families, where obligation and politics mean sacrificing happiness to preserve corporate empires. Soon the bodies start piling up without rhyme or reason. With every step Cole takes toward locating Park Dae-Hoon, another person meets their demise-and someone Cole loves could be next on the murderer’s list.

Review

Jae and Cole are trying to make a go of their relationship while still hiding things from Jae’s family.

There is another mystery, this time involving the fabulous Scarlet, whom we met in book 1. There’s a missing person and lots and lots of Korean people involved. (I highly recommend the audio version for help keeping track of all these people!)

What makes this book special is the deepening relationship between Jae and Cole. It. Is. Intense.

Their blossoming love is amazing to watch unfold and Rhys is the consummate story teller using rich language and evocative phrasing to add to their deep commitment to each other.

Greg Tremblay does amazing work with the narration, giving all the characters unique voices and creating the absolute PERFECT mood for both the mystery and the love story. A better narrator for this series could not be conceived!

I love this series so much and I think book two really hooks the reader into the love affair between Jae and Cole.

6 of 5 stars

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Copy Purchased for Review

Dreamspinner Presents

http://www.audible.com/pd/Fiction/Dirty-Secret-Audiobook/B00K6N4ZI4/ref=a_series_c2_2_saTtl_s?ie=UTF8&pf_rd_r=0QZ6D25DSB5ZEYRWZ6X2&pf_rd_m=A2ZO8JX97D5MN9&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_i=series-detail&pf_rd_p=1374482202&pf_rd_s=center-2

Categories
adult - 18+ Angst Level Audiobook Contemporary Cop/Crime Dreamspinner Gay Heat Index Hidden Lovers Homophobia Hopelessly Crying m/m Mystery Novel 140 pgs + (80K + words) Part of a Series Purchased Scorching/high heat

Dirty Kiss (Book 1) Audiobook by Rhys Ford Narrated by Greg Tremblay

DirtyKissAudLGBlurb:

Cole Kenjiro McGinnis, ex-cop and PI, is trying to get over the shooting death of his lover when a supposedly routine investigation lands in his lap. Investigating the apparent suicide of a prominent Korean businessman’s son proves to be anything but ordinary, especially when it introduces Cole to the dead man’s handsome cousin, Kim Jae-Min.

Jae-Min’s cousin had a dirty little secret, the kind that Cole has been familiar with all his life and that Jae-Min is still hiding from his family. The investigation leads Cole from tasteful mansions to seedy lover s trysts to Dirty Kiss, the place where the rich and discreet go to indulge in desires their traditional-minded families would rather know nothing about.

It also leads Cole McGinnis into Jae-Min’s arms, and that could be a problem. The death of Jae-Min’s cousin is looking less and less like a suicide, and Jae-Min is looking more and more like a target. Cole has already lost one lover to violence he’s not about to lose Jae-Min too.

Review:

Cole was a police officer who lost his lover and his job to a murder.  (It’s way more complicated than that, but you’ll have to read/listen to the entire series to get the full extent of the story.  You don’t find out here, but you get dribbles and drabbles along the way, piquing your interest.)  He’s now a private investigator, on a job.  He meets Jae-Min at the house of one of the people he’s investigating and is instantly attracted.

Jae is Korean, he can’t be gay.  But he is.  That is a huge deal for him.  He’s attracted to Cole but he knows for the sake of his family he has to push him away.  Cole won’t let that happen.

The mystery in this book is: Jae’s cousin committed suicide – or did he?  There is a lot hidden in Korean society and it’s up to Cole to dig through all the secrets to find the truth.  Of course, in the meantime he gets hurt too, but he seems to have 9 lives – like Jae’s cat!

We get to meet most of the characters we will grow to love throughout the series including Cole’s brother Mike, his assistant Claudia, his BFF Bobby and Jae’s bestie Scarlet.  The mystery gets solved and the beginning of the romance between Jae and Cole begins.

Though the mystery takes up the bulk of the story, to me, the romance is the main thrust of this book and the entire series. Watching Jae-Min and Cole learn to be a couple is the best part of this series. The funny side characters (some of whom get their own stories later on) are an added bonus.

I loved this book and the entire series and also gave it a 5 of 5 stars.

Audio version:
This is a case where the audio version is so amazing as to sometimes surpasses the written word. Greg Tremblay totally gets what Rhys is writing and he “performs” the story, not just reading it.

There are times, and I have said this before, where you feel like you are listening at the door, or listening to a movie soundtrack, instead of a simple narration.

It is supremely excellent.

Each character has a distinct and unique voice, and Greg even has a great singing voice.

I give the audio version a 6 out of 5 stars because it is Rhys’ words performed so excellently by Greg that together, the combination surpasses the book as an experience.

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Dreamspinner Presents

http://www.amazon.com/Dirty-Kiss-Book-1/dp/B00IX3FOKM/ref=tmm_aud_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=undefined&sr=1-1

Categories
adult - 18+ Angst Level Audiobook Baseball Contemporary Dreamspinner Friends to lovers Gay Geek/Jock Heat Index Hidden Lovers High School m/m Mild level angst Novel 140 pgs + (80K + words) Purchased Scorching/high heat second chance at love Sports

Caught Running Audiobook by Madeleine Urban and Abigail Roux Narrated by Jeff Gelder

CaughtRunningAUDmedBlurb

Ten years after graduation, Jake “the jock” Campbell and Brandon “the nerd” Bartlett are teaching at their old high school and still living in separate worlds. When Brandon is thrown into a coaching job on Jake’s baseball team, they find themselves learning more about each other than they’d ever expected. High school is all about image – even for the teachers. Brandon and Jake have to get past their preconceived notions to find the friendship needed to work together. And somewhere along the way, they discover that perceptions can always change for the better.

Review

Brandon and Jake were never friends nor really enemies in high school, simply occupants of totally different social spheres. Ten years later they are both teaching at their old high school and things are looking a lot different than they did back then.

Brandon, who was home schooled for much of his schooling, was never a “team” type of guy. But, he’s still an athlete. When the school needs a coach to help with the winning baseball team, new teacher Brandon is pressed into service.

Jake is very skeptical of Brandon’s “help” in the coaching department, but after seeing the guy run, he re-evaluates. They end up kind of working really well together as coaches, and that slowly blossoms into more.

It’s a slow-burn, but both are aware of the other physically, more than just friends. It takes an act of bravery on Jake’s part to test the waters, but once he does the two barely come up for air!

These are still tough times, and nobody can find out about them… and are they willing to even admit how important they are to each other?

**

I really loved this and it was my first audiobook that I bought in the m/m genre. It’s an easy read. Very low angst, very hot sex, fun dialog, quirky MCs and in general just a light fun book.

Now that I’ve read a ton more in this genre, and have come to expect a bit more from it, I can say that there are things that could be done to improve it – ie make these guys move past the ILYs to the nitty gritty living life in secret as co-workers, dealing with Jake’s pain management, coming to grips with Brandon’s life ambitions… lots of heavy “issues” that got fairly well brushed under the rug at the end of the book and left as things to be dealt with “later”.

I think that, as authors, both Madeleine Urban and Abigail Roux definitely grew and improved as they published more books, but as far as a fun, light books go – this still ranks among the top!

4.5 of 5 stars

Audio

Jeff Gelder isn’t my favorite author, and as has been pointed out in other reviews, he makes many mistakes with this narration. In addition, his tone is rather flat or sometimes takes on an up note that doesn’t fit the story.   In any case, it isn’t horrible, but it’s not great, and other narrators could’ve definitely done a better job.

Regardless, I still highly recommend this book and as a way to enjoy this without reading it, this narration will absolutely get the job done.

So for the book and the narration a solid 4 of 5 stars.

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(Copy purchased for review)

 

Dreamspinner Presents

http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=3247

Categories
adult - 18+ Angst Level Audiobook Basketball College/University coming of age Contemporary Dreamspinner Exploration Friends to lovers Gay GFY/OFY Heat Index Hidden Lovers High School Homophobia Hopelessly Crying Hurt/Abuse m/m Mid level steam/heat New Adult Novel 140 pgs + (80K + words) Purchased Sports Virgin

The Locker Room Audiobook by Amy Lane Narrated by Sean Crisden


locker roomBlurb

Xander Karcek has only wanted two things in his life: Christian Edwards and basketball—the man he loves and the game that let him escape a childhood he’d rather forget. His two obsessions have served him well. He and Chris beat the odds and stayed together through high school, college, and right on to the NBA. But life under fame’s microscope isn’t easy, especially when two men are pretending to be frat-buddies so the world doesn’t know they’re the next best thing to married. Their relationship survives the sacrifices they make and the lies they tell to stay together, but when their secret is exposed, the fallout might destroy them when nothing else could. Chris and basketball are the two things holding Xander together. Now the world is asking Xander to make a choice. Is there an option that includes a future with the man he loves?

Review

I feel like this story is so well known and beloved that everyone knows what it’s about and it’s hard to remember a time when I hadn’t read it or had it affect me.

But I know that’s not entirely true, and somewhere there are readers out there who have yet to experience the amazement that is this story.

So…

Xander is poor, pretty much raising himself as a teenager, keeping out of the way from mom’s “boyfriends” who want to steal his money and slap him around. The only thing that gives him any hope in the world are basketball and his “friend” Christian Edwards.

Chris is your typical all-American boy, a great family at home including a little sister, who meets a young boy playing basketball one day and sort of “adopts” him into his life and his family.

When Xander’s mother’s latest man friend forces Xander on to the streets Chris’ and Xander hatch a plan for him to work and go to school and live on his own. This lasts for a little while until exhaustion and hunger make him collapse one day on the courts, driving him to first move to a group home then later the Edwards’ house.

Everything would be perfect but for one thing: Xander and Chris have realized that they are more than friends. They don’t act upon it. A sense of morality keeps them to furtive kisses until they’re 18.

Basketball treats them both well, and sends them to be roommates in college. There, the fact that they’re so good works against them. Instead of living together as roommates as they’d dreamed, their skill lands them in the house of the varsity team, forcing them to keep their love quiet yet again.

When graduation comes they have to make the miraculous occur and get drafted by the same NBA team… they manage it, but at a cost. They can’t be gay and in the NBA. So, they manage an arrangement that … well, let’s just say they end up having to do more than just show up with a woman now and again to look like the straight celebrity athletes they are.

Finally, after years of hiding and the shame from denying their true nature, disaster strikes, eliminating basketball for one of them but opening the door to their future at the same time.

**

This book. GAH! I’ve read and listened to it so many times, and each and every time I am TORN OPEN. It is so gut-wrenching. They love each other so damn much and their pain kills me. Unlike some romances where them finding love is at least one if not the main obstacle, keeping their love quiet is the only focus in the book.

Probably the part of the story that guts me the worst is the part when they’re teenagers and Xander is living by himself and Chris’ mom finds out just how he’s been doing that… GOD I cry like a baby every time.

Then, there’s the nights the boys have to “fake it” to convince the media they are straight. It’s so heartbreaking!

Finally there’s the ending, which ends up being so bittersweet, but that interview they do with Barbara WaWa… bawling!

Amy’s ability to grab your heart and make it bleed is profound and amazing. She has such a way with emotion and finding just the right small thing to focus upon which manages to impart the greatest impact.

These guys are so well written that they feel real celebrities to me – they’ve made appearances in her other books as well as some guest appearances in other author’s works- it’s as if they are truly part of basketball history.

I know Amy has mentioned a book two for these guys and I know I for one would LOVE that. They need more time and we need to see Chris healed and give them their reward for all their years of silence.

Audio

Sean Crisden is just awesome! He is one of my favorite narrators and he does an amazing job here. Xander is just so stolid and stoic and Chris is just the right amount of peppy and growly. This is an absolute joy to listen to.

6 of 5 stars! A true M/M must read.

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(Copy Purchased for Review)

Dreamspinner Presents

http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=3121

Categories
Angst Level Audiobook Bi-Sexual College/University Contemporary Exploration Friends to lovers Gay Geek/Jock GFY/OFY Heat Index Hidden Lovers Homophobia Hopelessly Crying m/m Mild/low level heat Music/Rock Star Novel 140 pgs + (80K + words) Purchased Sports Virgin young adult

Social Skills Audiobook by Sara Alva Narrated by Andrew Eiden

 

 

social skillsBlurb

Music is the only form of communication Connor Owens controls. No matter how badly he wishes to fit in, friendly banter and casual conversations have never been his thing. College is yet another social universe he has no clue how to navigate – until he meets Jared, a football player with chestnut eyes and a cocky grin that holds the power to shatter his self-imposed prison. Jared’s attention opens Connor up to a new realm of emotional and physical intimacy. But as Connor’s self-confidence grows, so does his fear that everything will fall apart. Because in this socially stratified world, how long can a relationship between an introverted violinist and a closeted football player really last?

Review

Connor’s first year at university is turning out to be very hard. He’s very shy and socially awkard and gay. He finds a group of friends but is still rather lonely. When he meets (and falls for) Jared, a jock, he’s shocked when his attentions are returned.

Jared is a jock and tries hard to be “a man”. In fact, that’s one of his most identifying “issues”. When he realizes his attraction to men, he tries to be “bi” but finds that if he’s honest, he’s really “gay” and that’s hard for him to accept. He doesn’t want to let his mom down and his friends are kind of jerks about stuff like that.

Jared, however, loves being “the one” for Connor. They click and just feel good together. Jared, however, can’t deal with being public about their relationship and ultimately they split.

When something happens to make Jared realize he can’t let his friends or family expecations rule his life, he realizes he needs Connor more than he ever thought possible.

**

Boy… what to say?

First, it’s easy to love Connor. God, he’s just so painfully shy and geeky and you want to wrap him in a blanket and tell him it all gets better from here. (As a former band-geek I TOTALLY get Connor, so I’m a little attached to his happiness.)

Then there’s Jared… who, let’s face it, acts like a guy in his situation really probably would.

So… on the one hand I commend the author for that feeling of authenticity. I could buy this story as happening. There was some (mild) on page sex but mostly this is a YA book about coming out and coming into your own “selfness”.

I was (of course) rooting for the couple… who wouldn’t… but Jared has a long way to go to convince me he’s worthy of Connor and I’m not sure we quite got there. Jared’s kind of a jerk and though I think (especially in private) he really cares for Connor, are they really likely to succeed (long term) as a couple… meh… I don’t know.

But… FWIW I do think they come really close to being a good example of “first love” and gave both characters their first taste at being true to themselves.

So… the die hard romantic in me wasn’t very satisfied, but the more pragmatic reader of stories recognizes that this is a well written book full of really well developed and realistic characters that touches on some important topics in growing up and does it very well.

(I LOVE the cover and really, really want to give that boy a big hug!)

Audio

I thought Andrew Eiden did a good job with the narration. I liked how he handled the emotions and though he didn’t do a lot to “act” or give special voices to the characters, he was easy to listen to and made for a good way to experience this story.

4 of 5 stars

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(Copy purchased for review)

Sara Alva Presents

http://www.audible.com/pd/Fiction/Social-Skills-Audiobook/B00NIYVOW8/ref=a_search_c4_1_1_srTtl?qid=1441569197&sr=1-1