Release Day Review: Knowing Me, Knowing You by Renae Kaye

release day review

Dreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/knowing-me-knowing-you-by-renae-kaye-9931-b

Blurb

Loving You: Book Four

Can friends turned occasional lovers move beyond past mistakes and wrong assumptions to build something that can last?

Quiet bookworm Shane has a big secret—one he’s kept for fifteen years. AFL superstar Ambrose Jakoby grew up next door to Shane. They were close friends, and Shane supported Ambrose through school.

One night, everything changed.

Before Ambrose left Perth as a scared eighteen-year-old to head to Melbourne and take up his new footy career, Ambrose and Shane slept together.

For the next nine years, they continued a secret friends-with-benefits situation whenever Ambrose was in town. Shane never knew exactly where he stood or how to define Ambrose’s sexuality—and Ambrose didn’t know either. Then last Christmas, everything changed again, and a disagreement strained their friendship. Shane vowed to get over his unrequited love.

But Ambrose is back, recovering from an injury and hoping to make amends. He claims he’s ready for a real relationship. But Shane has to decide whether Ambrose means it and whether his Hufflepuff soul can take the chance.

Review by Aerielle

When I saw that Renae Kaye was writing another installment in the Loving You series I was very excited. While this book is a very good “friends-to-lovers” story it was lacking the pure joy and light heartedness that the first three books had.

Shane has always been in the background in the other stories, so coming into this book he was a complete blank page. He seems to have very little self-esteem and self-worth. He tends to calls himself “wallpaper Shane”.

Every few chapters there is an “Interview”, which is Shane asking his friends how long it took them to know they were in love. I really enjoyed getting these little insights.
By the end of the book I still felt like I didn’t really know much about Ambrose and only slightly more about Shane which is a real departure from all of Renae’s other books. This can be read as a stand-alone since there is a lot of explanation about the previous couples and their stories.

Overall this is a fairly decent story about two long-time friends who occasionally slept together coming to realize that they each mean the world to each other.

4 stars


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Review:  Jay and the gang are back! This time they make their appearances in Shane and Ambrose’s story.

I loved this addition to the series, especially 1 page ‘interviews’ with many of the cast from the previous stories.

Shane and Ambrose have been friends for years – Shane knows he in love, Ambrose appears to be straight. Until he’s about to leave for a professional football career in Melbourne (they live in Perth).

When Ambrose returns home to recover from an injury, the truth of his feelings for Shane comes out.

This ‘in the closet’ story could have been angsty and fraught with unnecessary misunderstandings; instead it is delightful, funny and warm.

As always, Renae Kaye writes warm personalities for her characters – Shane is the caring, self-deprecating (to a fault), snarky best friend. Ambrose is a bigger, but kind guy, looks out for his friends and still goes home to his mum.

This is a standalone story, but honestly, not reading the prior books would be a shame since they’re so good. There are references to 2 other characters from another author’s (Sean Kennedy) books which had me smiling, (I have the books).

 

Loved this story and I hope Hiram gets his own story.

 

4.5 stars out of 5


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Review

I really enjoyed the first three books of the series but I have some reservations about this one. Mainly, I could not get over how much I disliked the way their relationship was manipulated by Ambrose. I felt like he put too many terms, and did not give enough back to Shane. Shane is a character that is sometimes hard to like, and he treats himself so poorly, despite Ambrose’s claims of his worth, that Ambrose’s treatment of him just grated on me more.

It was mainly the undefined friends-with-benefits situation going on, were it seemed like Ambrose was the only one really gaining anything out of it, and believing that Shane should be with him because he has undefined, but strong feeling towards him he never spoke about. And in the end Shane did what Ambrose needed, because it was good for Ambrose’s career at the time, and I could just not get over how much I felt it was not equal between them, and Ambrose taking what he needed when it was right for him. And Shane’s job is constantly treated as something he dislikes. Like it’s not worth anything, and so he can leave it and just be a kept man/do something else in Melbourne because he was not attached to it anyway. It was hard to care about a character that seemed to be designed to be rootless and motiveless, aside from pining after Ambrose and getting some action when he was around. I also felt like the author did not deal with the issue of Ambrose’s sexuality (him being Demi, perhaps) and the issue with is native roots. It felt like a side note when it should have been a bigger part of the story to me.

Their relationship felt off, more so when you realize the amount of time they hid this undefined thing between them. It hurt to read and was unsatisfying when Ambrose turned out to be the one who’s feelings and needs needed to be considered and not the other way around and heir HEA did not satisfy me at all.

The things I liked were mainly the other couples from previous books showing up and the friendship they share in their group.

Number of stars out of 5
2.5


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Recent Release: Honeymoon For One by Keira Andrews

Good Reads Link

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/41823691-honeymoon-for-one?from_search=true

Blurb

The wedding is off, but the love story is just beginning.

Betrayed the night before his wedding by the supposed boy of his dreams, Ethan Robinson escapes the devastating fallout by going on his honeymoon alone to the other side of the world. Hard of hearing and still struggling with the repercussions of being late-deafened, traveling by himself leaves him feeling painfully isolated with his raw, broken heart.

Clay Kelly never expected to be starting life over in his forties. He got hitched young, but now his wife has divorced him and remarried, his kids are grown, and he’s left his rural Outback town. In a new career driving a tour bus on Australia’s East Coast, Clay reckons he’s happy enough. He enjoys his cricket, a few beers, and a quiet life. If he’s a bit lonely, it’s not the end of the world.

Clay befriends Ethan, hoping he can cheer up the sad-eyed young man, and a crush on an unattainable straight guy is exactly the safe distraction Ethan needs. Yet as the days pass and their connection grows, long-repressed desires surface in Clay, and they are shocked to discover romance sparking. Clay is the sexy, rugged man of Ethan’s dreams, and as the clock counts down on their time together, neither wants this honeymoon to end.

Review

From the moment we are first introduced to Ethan as he is heading home on a New York train on the eve of his wedding, I was pulled in by his vulnerability. Hard of hearing and trying to cope in the noisy city environment, showed me in the first few pages here was a man that had faced personal heartbreaks and was doing his best to overcome them. But when he arrives home everything blows up in his face, the wedding is cancelled and he decideds to take the honeymoon trip alone.

As someone who grew up in the 80’s, on a screen diet of Neighbours and Crocodile Dundee (its still my husbands all time favourite film) Clay Kelly hit every one of my teenage nostalgia buttons. His Aussie slang made me laugh out loud more than once as did his love of cricket (which personally I find only second to golf in the boring sports stakes) and I thoroughly enjoyed reading the emotional, self-realization journey he took.

This book is a sweet, slow burn romance of two characters who take the time to get to know each other rather than insta-love, insta-sex of some stories. We, the reader also get time to understand how the characters think and how their life experiences have defined them into the men they are now. Both these men are truly likable and had me rooting for them (snigger) right from the start.

This book has in my mind all the elements that a good story should, allowing me to both laugh and cry over the tale as it unfolded.

4.5 stars out of 5

Copy Purchased for Review

 

 

Release Day Review: Galaxies and Oceans by N.R. Walker

release day review

Good Reads Link

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/40489440-galaxies-and-oceans?from_search=true

Blurb
Seizing his one chance to escape, Ethan Hosking leaves his violent ex-boyfriend, leaves his entire life, and walks into the path of a raging bushfire. Desperate to start over, a new man named Aubrey Hobbs walks out of the fire-ravaged forest, alive and alone. With no ID and no money, nothing but his grandfather’s telescope, he goes where the Southern Cross leads him.

Patrick Carney is the resident lighthouse keeper in Hadley Cove, a small town on the remote Kangaroo Island off the coast of South Australia. After the tragic death of his lover four years ago, he lives a solitary life; just him, a tabby cat, the Indian and Southern Oceans, and a whole lot of loneliness. He’s content with his life until a stranger shows up in town and turns Patrick’s head.

Patrick never expected to be interested in anyone else.

Aubrey never expected to be happy.

Between Aubrey’s love of the stars and Patrick’s love of the ocean, these two fragile hearts must navigate new waters. If they can weather the storm of their pasts, they could very well have a love that eclipses everything.

Review
One of the romantic books I’ve read about two people and how their love heals one another. N.R Walker does it again. Her books contain so much more that I always get swept up in the story. Following the journey to a satisfying end. Seizing an opportunity Ethan grabs a chance to escape his abusive boyfriend. He becomes a new man Aubrey Hobbs. Aubrey remembers the advice from his beloved grandfather and follows the Southern Cross as far as he can. He reaches Kangaroo Island where he meets Patrick. Patrick is still grieving the loss of his partner four years ago. But he is drawn to this lonely enigmatic newcomer. He wants to protect and care for him. For Aubrey Patrick is the first friend he has had in along time and the first person he has been comfortable with. This is a beautiful love story. Two people slo getting to know and trust each other. Letting their guards down and seeing a possible future. One looking to the stars and the other to the Ocean. As it always does the past catches up. How they deal with it shows the strength of their new relationship. A beautiful story. One I’ll absolutely read again and again.

5 of stars out of 5


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

 

Time to Laugh: The Blinding Light Audiobook by Renae Kaye Narrated by Jonathan Young

Dreamspinner Press
http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=5211

Blurb

Jake Manning’s smart mouth frequently gets him into trouble. Because of it, he can’t hold a job. Combined with some bad luck, it’s prevented him from keeping steady employment. A huge debt looms over him, and alone he shoulders the care of his alcoholic mother and three younger sisters. When a housekeeping position opens, Jake’s so desperate he leaps at the opportunity. On landing, he finds his new boss, Patrick Stanford, a fussy, arrogant, rude… and blind man.

Born without sight, Patrick is used to being accommodated, but he’s met his match with Jake, who doesn’t take any of his crap and threatens to swap all the braille labels on his groceries and run off with his guide dog unless he behaves.

Jake gets a kick out of Patrick. Things are looking up: the girls are starting their own lives and his mum’s sobriety might stick this time. He’s sacrificed everything for his family; maybe it’s time for him to live his life and start a relationship with Patrick. When his mother needs him, guilt makes his choice between family and Patrick difficult, and Jake must realize he’s not alone anymore.

Review

Renae Kaye has that amazing ability to make you laugh while she tugs at your heart strings.
She’s very “australian” and I love that aspect of her writing, you definitely feel immersed.

I’ve read/listened to this several times by now and I’m always touched by the ending. It’s so perfect. I think Jake’s mom is both OTT and absolutely a real person. We all have those family members who are … atypical… and who march to their own drum. That’s her. While Jake might be a bit too perfect for words – in the end – he gets a Cinderella type reward worthy of his goodness.

Patrick is fantastic. Curmudgeonly and surly at first, only to be completely turned around when his sh*t is thrown back in his face by the mouthy Jake.

Jake’s friends and family are funny and well rounded as characters who add to the story without really detracting from the main thread – and whom later get their own stories! – most of them.

There was an appropriate amount of smexy scenes, not overwhelming and those that were there were definitely hot.

I also liked how the two resolved the issue of money between the two of them. It might not be the most romantic way to do it, but it’s a realistic approach to a sensitive, relationship-breaking subject.

Overall just a really touching, sweet and funny romance.

Audio

On the one hand I think Jonathan Young did a great job with this. I’m not sure what his background is but if I had to guess I’d say he’s American doing an Australian accent? This is based on listening to some of his other audiobooks as well as this one. I wish he’d stuck with the accent throughout instead of going back and forth – but it worked and I bought his accent as used in dialog.

This is a fantastic way to enjoy this story.

4.5 of 5 stars

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Copy Purchased for Review

Snowman Audiobook by Isabelle Rowan Narrated by Brad Walton

Dreamspinner Presents
http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=7322

snowmanBlurb

We all find ways to run away. Some do it in seclusion, others in the arms of lovers.

Since the death of his long-time partner, Caleb Maguire lives a quiet life in Australia’s Victorian high country with only his dog and horses for company. Each day is the same. There are no surprises—good or bad—until a major snowstorm hits his mountain and Caleb is called out to rescue a stranded tourist. The late night snow brings with it a lost soul who forces Caleb to reassess his solitary life.

Paul Turner is a barista in the trendy Melbourne suburb of Carlton. He lives life totally in the moment, but a life of no commitments is about to change for this city boy. Three days is all it takes for Paul to fall hard for Caleb, and Paul returns to the city with a promise he’ll be back after turning his life around… but only when all the roads are clear.

Review

Caleb lost his lover several years ago and has since sequestered himself in their cabin in Australia’s mountains all by himself (except for the animals). He doesn’t want to meet anyone new and seems to be happy with his life, even though he misses his lover desperately.

Paul is a party-boy who sleeps with a new guy every night. When he and his pals go to the mountains for a party he ends up lost in a snowstorm and is rescued by the reclusive Caleb. There is an instant attraction, but Caleb staves Paul off up until the last day.

When Paul leaves, Caleb’s life advice sticks with Paul – forcing him to re-evaluate himself and his goals.

Caleb is more determined than ever to remain alone and miserable. Paul texts Caleb over and over and over, but Caleb won’t let Paul in to his life. When there is another emergency, Caleb and Paul are thrown together briefly, but Caleb again rebuffs Paul – and Paul almost concedes the fight.

Paul ends up meeting the sister of the dead lover and befriends her, she pushes Paul into continuing her pursuit and ultimately coming back to the mountain to try to knock some sense into Caleb.

Caleb resists up until the very end, when he finally capitulates.

**

Though the above seems to give the story away – it’s obvious the two MCs end up together because this is a HEA romance and so we know eventually it has to work out, the question is how? Well… I’m not sure how.

My problem with this book is that I never felt like Caleb got over his lover and so I didn’t feel that he and Paul really stood a good chance.

I also HATED that 99% of the book the two MCs are apart and not even talking to one another.

Paul’s infatuation with Caleb felt more like him being stubborn and feeling challenged because Caleb kept telling him “no” and less like any authentic emotional bond. How could they really bond after 3 days together (where Caleb is anything but open) and months (literally) of one-sided texting.

I just didn’t buy into the romance. I almost wanted the potential sad ending that Caleb was headed toward to happen just so the miserable guy could finally find some peace!

The narration was fine – very Australian Brad Walton used some nice emotional inflections but didn’t “wow” me either.

All in all – though I was compelled to finish the story, in the end I wasn’t really pleased with the final result.

2 of 5 stars for the audiobook

2-stars-small

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Copy Generously Provided by Publisher for Honest Review