Cronin’s Key III by NR Walker (Review for Tour)

cronin's 3Blurb

History isn’t always what it seems…

Twelve months after his change, Alec MacAidan is still getting used to his many vampire talents. While most vampires would give anything to have more than one supernatural power, Alec craves nothing more than peace and time alone with Cronin. But when Alec meets entities from outside this realm, he’s left powerless in their presence.

Zoan are half-lycan, half-dragon creatures that have slipped through time and reality, seemingly undetected by man and vampire. Or have they? They bear an uncanny resemblance to gargoyles, leaving Alec’s view on all things weird to get a whole lot weirder.

This new quest leads Alec, Cronin, and their band of friends to Paris, Rome, and Moscow, where they learn that gargoyles aren’t simply statues on walls. In the underground pits beneath churches all over the world, Alec discovers the Key’s true destiny. Facing the Zoan might take every talent he has. And he may need help from the dead to get them all out alive.

Review

If you’ve been following along, we met Alec and Cronin in book one – fated mates, one human one vampire. It took until book two for them to finally complete the bonding process and they risked everything for the conversion. Now we finally get to see just what a “key” is made of and what he can do with his newfound talents.

It’s not a surprise when I tell you that Alec ends up with not one, or two, or three, but ALL the vampire skills and it’s a bit overwhelming. There is yet another crisis to save the world – a portal which opened up upon his conversion allowed in, the Zoan (sort of gargoyles, lycan, werewolf… creatures who are very bad and can stop time!)

In the end there is lots of drama – some loss of good friends – some reconnecting with past friends and lots of ooey gooey lurve between Cronin and Alec.

**

I’m having a hard time rating this… on the one hand I really liked that we got to spend so much time with Alec and Cronin as a couple and I loved that we got to see all the cool things Alec could do! That was amazing. By then end of the book I really felt like their story was complete and that’s a great feeling.

However, I missed the electrical connection we saw in books one and two between Alec and Cronin as there were few smexy times and most of the book was devoted to the conquering of the Zoan. So I missed the “romance” in this romance.

I appreciated the tied-up loose ends and the really happy future that got laid out for our MCs and the nice, tidy ending for some of the secondary characters, but I missed spending time alone with our guys.

Overall, it was a great series and a nice ending and I recommend it to fans of the series.

3.5 of 5 stars

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(Copy provided by Author for honest review)

NR Walker Presents

http://www.amazon.com/Cronins-Key-III-N-R-Walker-ebook/dp/B015425184/ref=sr_1_4?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1442196063&sr=1-4&keywords=cronin%27s+key

 

cronin tour

The Foster Family Audiobook by Jamie Samms Narrated by Greg Tremblay

 

foster familyBlurb

Growing up in foster care has left Kerry Grey with little self-esteem or hope for his future. A college dropout, Kerry scrapes by on a part-time job at a garden nursery. His friendship with his boss and working with the plants are the only high points in Kerry’s life. He’s been dating the man who bullied him at school, but when his boyfriend abandons him at a party, Kerry wanders down the beach to drown his sorrows in a bottle of scotch.

Malcolm Holmes and Charlie Stone have been together for 15 years. Despite Charlie’s willingness to accept Malcolm’s unspoken domination in bed, something is missing from their relationship. Early one morning, they rescue a passed-out Kerry from being washed away by the tide, and Charlie immediately senses a kindred spirit in the lost younger man. When Kerry’s roommate kicks him out, Malcolm and Charlie invite him into their home. As Charlie and Kerry bond over Charlie’s garden, Malcolm sees Kerry may be just who they have been looking for to complete their lives. All they have to do is show Kerry, and each other, that Kerry’s submissive tendencies will fit their dynamic.

But someone is sabotaging Kerry at every turn. As he struggles to discover the culprit, he fears for the safety of his new friends. If Malcolm and Charlie cannot help, their lifelong search for their perfect third may not end with the happily ever after they imagined.

Review

I think the gist of the story is pretty well laid out in the blurb.

**

Let me start by saying that I took a long time to finish this book and write a review because I feel pretty conflicted about it.

I really wanted to like the triad, I don’t generally have a “problem” with them as a concept, but in this case the relationship felt really unequal. I never felt that Kerry was a full partner in this relationship.

I also really don’t like BDSM – esp the Dom/sub thing and I struggle to keep that bias free from clouding the story. I totally understand that for some this dynamic works – but it goes against my personal “equality” issues so – again – this partnership just felt out of balance.

Kerry’s coming of age story was really well done and I almost think that if it had been the main thrust of the story it would have had been a better story overall.

I can’t fault the writing and I think the characters were really well developed – people not so hung up on equality will probably really like this story – it’s very touching.

Audiobook

I love Greg Tremblay and he just does amazing things for this or any story he reads. He is so good at adding emotion to a story that you feel made part of it. His narration is why I even took this story on – otherwise I would have let it lie, based on the description.

For the book and the narration as a sum total I give it 3.5 hearts

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(Copy purchased for review)

Dreamspinner Presents

http://www.audible.com/pd/Fiction/The-Foster-Family-Audiobook/B00PX86ZP8/ref=a_search_c4_1_2_srTtl?qid=1441569101&sr=1-2

Bully and Exit (Midwest Series book 1) by Brigham Vaughn

bully exitBlurb

Theater student Caleb Stockwell is ready to leave college behind. Too bad his past isn’t ready to let him go.

With less than a month to go until graduation, Caleb runs into Nathan Rhodes at a house party. Nathan is a star hockey player for Western Michigan University and finally ready to step out of the closet. He’s also the guy who broke Caleb’s heart in high school.

Nathan’s determined to make amends for what he did four years ago, but Caleb isn’t willing to risk getting his heart stomped on again. With only a few weeks left before they go their separate ways, it’ll take all of Nathan’s creativity and help from some interfering friends to convince Caleb to give him a second chance.

Review

Caleb and Nate met in their senior year of high school. Caleb wasn’t sure of his sexual orientation, but he knew he was sometimes attracted to guys and girls. Nate was pretty sure he was gay, but was in no way prepared to act upon his desires.

When Caleb catches Nate’s eye, they begin a hidden affair – mostly innocent – that ends in disaster on Prom night.

Now, it’s four years later and though they’ve been at the same university, they’ve not met up again. Until now. It’s one month before graduation and when Nate sees Caleb at a party he just knows he has to do what he can to both let Caleb know how much he’s changed, how sorry he is and how much he’d like to start over again.

Caleb has been carrying around a lot of pain and anger from the incident in high school and can’t let it go. With the urging of his friends and family and a relentless pursuit by Nate, he finally agrees to sit down and hear Nate’s side of the story.

In the end we get a very solid HFN that looks promising and a very satisfying end to the pursuit.

**

I really liked this book. I was worried because I don’t like “second chance loves” as a general rule. (For me that first meet is what really pushes my buttons) but in a way we get that too as a series of flashbacks into the boy’s high school life.

There is lots of talk of sex and some uncomfortable discussions of past lovers, but only one real sex scene between the MCs. So, to me, this reads as just barely a NA book and almost a YA book.

I appreciated, however, that the reactions of both guys felt pretty authentic and age-appropriate.

If you are a fan of second chances, college romance and geek/jock pairings – give this one a try!

4.5 of 5 stars

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(Copy Purchased for Review)

Amazon Presents
http://www.amazon.com/Bully-Exit-Midwest-Book-1-ebook/dp/B011BZWO6A/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1442196151&sr=1-1&keywords=bully+and+exit

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

Never the Perfect Moment (Perfect Moments Book 1) By K-lee Klein

never momentBlurb
Bryan Monroe has always catalogued his life in terms of moments—right moments, wrong moments, perfect moments. But when his best friend and partner on the police force, Chrys Delos, is shot in a raid gone bad, it’s one of the worst moments of Bryan’s life.

Bryan’s been secretly in love with Chrys for years, and the shooting is a wake-up call that it might be time to tell Chrys the truth. The problem is, Bryan’s never been with a man before, so in addition to worrying about Chrys’ injuries, he’s an indecisive wreck over the future.

But with the help of two unlikely matchmakers, Bryan knows it’s time to find the courage, and the perfect moment, to tell Chrys exactly how he feels…

Review

This is a very short book (1000 locations or so) that tells the sweet story of a pair of cops who fall in love. Bryan realizes his love when his partner Chrys is shot trying to protect Bryan.

It’s a GFY, Bryan is a divorced dad who still lives next to his BFF ex-wife.

There isn’t much (if any) angst. We enter the story with Bryan realizes he’s in love but not knowing how to tell Chrys how he feels and we leave the story… pretty much after he tells him.

There is a lot of sweetness in between beginning and end but there isn’t much story.

I liked the premise a lot and the characters had potential but it was not realized fully. I really wanted to see how Bryan handled the physical side of the story, but that, too, was brief.

Instead of spending a lot of time on the waffling about how to tell his buddy how he feels, I wish we’d had more time exploring their relationship with one another.

K-lee gave us a tantalizingly brief glimpse into these characters, even giving us well-developed secondary characters like Chrys’ dad and Bryan’s ex-wife, but not much story.

I liked it a lot, but wished there was more. (And now that I know there’s a sequel – I’m stoked!)

I give it 4 of 5 stars

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(Copy purchased for Review)

Amazon Presents:

http://www.amazon.com/Never-Perfect-Moment-K-lee-Klein-ebook/dp/B00MBQ546Q/ref=sr_1_14?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1407109693&sr=1-14&keywords=k-lee+klein

A to Z (Coda Books #2) Audiobook by Marie Sexton Narrated by Mark L Jones

A TO ZBlurb

Zach Mitchell is stuck in a rut. His college boyfriend left him 10 years ago, but Zach still lives in the same apartment, drives the same car, and feeds his ex-boyfriend’s ungrateful cat. His Denver business, A to Z Video Rental, is struggling. He has annoying customers, eccentric neighbors, and an unfulfilling romance with his landlord, Tom.

A combat boot-wearing punk with an attitude, Angelo Green was raised in foster homes and has been on his own since he was sixteen; he has never learned to trust or to love. He doesn’t do relationships, so when Angelo takes a job at A to Z Video, he decides Zach is strictly off-limits. Despite their differences, Zach and Angelo quickly become friends, and when Zach’s break-up with Tom puts his business on the line, it’s Angelo who comes up with a solution. Together with Jared and Matt, their friends from Coda, Colorado, Zach and Angelo will find a way to save A to Z, but will they be able to save each other too? (Listen to Jared and Matt’s story in Promises.)

Review

You can get the gist of the story from the blurb. Zach is clueless. He owns a movie store but knows nothing about movies. Angelo is a wonder. He’s sweet, but gun-shy, knows everything about movies and is in love with the clueless Zach.

It takes a trip to the mountains of Colorado where they meet Jared and Matt (from Promises) and the opportunity to start over, and do it their way, that Zach finally comes to his senses.

The battle isn’t over, though. Angelo is like a bird in a cage. Sometimes he’s content and feels secure in Zach’s love, other times he feels confined and restless.

**

This is a slow-burn, but extremely hot love story. There are parts that can be hard to read for some – Zach’s affair with Tom and later there’s some sharing as a couple – but that isn’t the main thrust of the story.

Mostly this about two guys finding someone to love, someone who compliments them, someone who will be there in the long run and someone who means everything.

I absolutely love Angelo. He’s nervous, flighty, snarky, sweet, insecure and wonderful. He needs someone as plain and solid as Zach to keep him grounded. Angelo brings life and vibrancy to Zach’s world and Zach brings order.

Both the sexy times and the emotions are top notch in this book and though I loved Matt and Jared, this book and this couple are my absolute favorite in the series.

I highly recommend this book and the entire series.

Audio

I did not love this narrator. This is the only series I’ve listened to with him as a narrator, but I didn’t care for his pacing. His voice is nice enough to listen to, but he doesn’t do anything to modulate the difference between speakers and oftentimes the inflection he uses doesn’t match the words he’s speaking.

I was a bit disappointed by his performance, but not enough to stop listening. The quality of the book surpasses the annoyance with the narration and still makes it a good experience.

For the book, 5 of 5 stars; for the combination with the narration 4.5 of 5 stars

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(Copy purchased for review)

Dreamspinner presents:

http://www.audible.com/pd/Fiction/A-to-Z-Audiobook/B006MGRCVQ/ref=a_search_c4_1_5_srTtl?qid=1441576309&sr=1-5