Time to Laugh: Muscling Through by J.L. Merrow

Good Reads Link

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/11045338-muscling-through?from_search=true

Blurb:

The bigger they come, the harder they fall… in love.

Cambridge art professor Larry Morton takes one, alcohol-glazed look at the huge, tattooed man looming in a dark alley, and assumes he’s done for. Moments later he finds himself disarmed—literally and figuratively. And, the next morning, he can’t rest until he offers an apology to the man who turned out to be more gentle than giant.

 

Larry’s intrigued to find there’s more to Al Fletcher than meets the eye; he possesses a natural artistic talent that shines through untutored technique. Unfortunately, no one else seems to see the sensitive soul beneath Al’s imposing, scarred, undeniably sexy exterior. Least of all Larry’s class-conscious family, who would like nothing better than to split up this mismatched pair.

Is it physical? Oh, yes, it’s deliciously physical, and so much more—which makes Larry’s next task so daunting. Not just convincing his colleagues, friends and family that their relationship is more than skin deep. It’s convincing Al.

Contains comic misunderstandings, misuse of art materials, and unexpected poignancy.

Review

This is one of my all time favorite m/m books ever. I re – read it several times a year. I love it’s simple honesty and love and the fact that it makes me laugh as well as touches me makes it golden.

JL Merrow’s dry British humor crackles throughout the book and I love the dialect and the slang: Al talking with Larry-

“Are you a poof?” I asked. I didn’t think he’d mind. And even if he did, there wasn’t nothing a little bloke like him could do to me, so that was all right.

Though there are a few “hurdles” most of the book is Larry and Al falling in love and it is so, so sweet.   But, since it’s told through Al’s eyes, it’s rough around the edges.

“I never met anyone who made me feel like Larry does. I don’t mean just the fucking. He makes me feel special, like I’m not just a set of muscles and a big cock.”

It has a great message. Don’t judge a book by it’s cover. Al is way more than just a big, hunk of a man, he’s also a fantastic artist with an artist’s soul. I love that Larry sees that part of him and helps him to develop it.

I can’t recommend this book enough and I give it 6 out of 5 stars! I hope it eventually comes out in audio!

 (I’ve tried and tried to reach the author to do an interview… but alas it isn’t to happen… one can only hope!)

6 of 5 stars

 

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Purchased for Review

 

Daily Dose Short Story: Putting Down Roots by Tam MacNeil

Dreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/putting-down-roots-by-tam-macneil-7160-b

putting-down-rootsBlurb

At twenty-nine, Mark is lonely and unhappy. With his teaching degree, he never expected to be scraping by at a dead-end job in a bookstore. So when he’s given the opportunity to do the work he’s always dreamed of, he jumps on it.

But there’s a catch. Mark has just agreed to spend the summer teaching a recalcitrant student at a lonely manor outside the most haunted village in the UK. It doesn’t take Mark long to figure out there’s something strange, really strange, about Thomas, his host and the father of his pupil. They say the village changes people, and it turns out Thomas is living proof. Now Mark has to decide if he should run like hell or stay and become part of the family.

Category: Paranormal, Werewolves/Shifters, Fantasy, High Fantasy, Urban Fantasy

Pages: 29

Review

Mark, a lonely teacher, moves to a “haunted village” to teach one of the town’s oldest family’s daughter English. Her father, Thomas, is an older but still quite attractive, man who appears as lonely as Mark.

Yes, strange things do appear to happen both around town and in the old home Thomas owns, but Mark can’t help but being attracted to Thomas anyway.

When tourists inadvertently threaten Thomas and his family his secret is exposed and Mark has to decide if he can handle the strangeness and put down some roots of his own.

**

Though this was a very interesting story with great world building, I didn’t feel the romance at all. The characters barely speak two words to one another and the situation Thomas is in feels particularly hopeless.

So, even though I thought it was an interesting story and a unique twist on the shifter theme, as a romance it failed for me.

2 of 5 stars

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Copy Generously Provided by Publisher for Honest Review

 

 

Helping Hand Audiobook by Jay Northcote Narrated by Mark Steadman

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51XkAGcuGfL._SL300_Blurb

Wanking with a mate isn’t gay—as long as you keep your hands to yourself.

Jez Fielding and James MacKenzie—Big Mac to his mates—are in their second year at uni. After partying too hard last year, they make a pact to rein themselves in. While their housemates are out drinking every weekend, Jez and Mac stay in to save cash and focus on their studies.

When Jez suggests watching some porn together, he isn’t expecting Mac to agree to it. One thing leads to another, and soon their arrangement becomes hands-on rather than hands-off. But falling for your straight friend can only end badly, unless there’s a chance he might feel the same.

Review

(Book reviewed here previously: http://kimichanexperience.com/helping-hand-by-jay-northcote/)

Abridged

Mac (James) and Jez (Jeremy) are two broke friends/roommates. Stuck for entertainment they stumble into a new way to pass the time.

Jez has “experimented” with other boys while in the all boys prep academy before university, but Mac has only ever identified as straight. So when the two of them find themselves bored, a little drunk and a little hot after watching an episode of “Game of Thrones” – it’s Jez who suggests they find some porn to work the tension off.   At first, the rule was no touching, but a bit of watching. Since that worked so well…

Over time things progress from watching to touching, to sucking to… you get the idea.

Interestingly, it’s the kissing and the cuddling that make each of them wonder “am I gay/bi”.

It isn’t until they are “outed” that they have to face facts and admit that this might just be something more than they bargained for.

**

The smexy times are really, really hot and the slow build to the love affair is rewarding and fulfilling.

My only wish would be for more time in Mac’s head – somehow – because I didn’t feel like I really got to understand his motivations very well. Jez was so clear but Mac more of a mystery.

I thoroughly enjoyed this and give it 4.5 of 5 stars

Audio

I’d really enjoyed Mark Steadman’s work on Lover’s Leap and so I was excited to see how he’d do here. Well… he was great! I loved his version of Mac – solid, steady – and he does the British humor so well – nice dry delivery and all that. I really like his voice and found this amazingly easy to listen to and thought it really brought the story to life.

Highly recommended!

Narration 5 of 5 stars

Overall 5 of 5 stars

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Copy Generously Provided by the Author for an Honest Review

Audible link

http://www.audible.com/pd/Fiction/Helping-Hand-Audiobook/B01FL19B34/ref=a_search_c4_1_1_srTtl?qid=1463684916&sr=1-1

Duke in Hiding by MJ O’Shea

 

release day review

Dreamspinner Presents

http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=7624

DukeInHidingLGBlurb

Every gentleman has something to hide.

Meeting Heath Blackwood, a gorgeous English farmer, is probably the most exciting thing to ever happen to small-town landscaper Theo Brody, who has lived in quiet Maplehurst, New Hampshire, all his life. The sexy and secretive Brit shakes the foundations of his orderly world as they are swept up in a springtime romance neither can resist.

But Heath’s secrets run deeper than Theo ever imagined. He’s actually Heathcliff Pierrepont Blackwood, Duke of Kingston, in hiding from recent death threats. Suddenly there’s more separating them than the Atlantic Ocean, and Theo doubts he’ll ever fit in with English nobility. Though Heath and Theo are opposites in almost every way, their love might bridge the gap—if they’re willing to take the risk.

Review

Theo is the town’s beloved orphan. He’s a bartender in the winter and a landscaper in the summer. He’s had one bad boyfriend and is focused on making his business work to the exclusion of a love life.

When the grumpy Brit – Heath – walks into his bar, at first Theo thinks he’s a jerk – and he kinda is – but as time moves on – the two fairly quickly find they have more in common than just being the only gay guys in town.

Unfortunately, Heath is hiding something pretty big and when Theo finds out their lives – which are already complicated by living across the ocean from one another – become almost completely incompatible.

**

These Dreamspun Desire books are just plain fun! I love seeing all these old tropes changed to fit a more modern and gay storyline!

In this case – the secret nobility! – we get to watch little orphan Theo get all his dreams answered but really we get to see two really lonely guys find their soulmates.

I think MJ O’Shea is a fantastic writer and she managed to beautifully blend the easy, sweet and predictable trope into a more complex and really well thought-out and well-developed story about real people – not just caricatures.

I really enjoyed this and though the ending was a little less satisfying than I wanted, I appreciated that it left us in a very plausible place that was still very, very happy.

Highly Recommended.

4.5 of 5 stars

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Copy Generously Provided by Publisher for Honest Review

After the Scrum by Dahlia Donovan

PrintBlurb

Caddock ‘The Brute’ Stanford lost his brother and rugby career within the same year. The once man-about-town is now a has-been and guardian to his young nephew. Not sure where life will go after the scrum, he decides to purchase a pub in the Cornwall village of Looe. He never expects to fall in lust—and then love.

Francis Keen hides his crippling anxiety behind his eccentric habits, lush interior design, and beloved dog, Sherlock. Alone by choice after an attack in college left him emotionally scarred, he lives by the sea with his gran, resigned to working small jobs for local businesses. Revamping the pub for the new owner is right up his alley—especially when he realizes who the owner is.

Two men, so different, on track for a romantic collision. Can they survive the impact?

Review

This is a super sweet, very British, shortish story about two guys who shouldn’t have fit together but do.

Caddock is an ex professional rugby player who now has sole custody of his little nephew after both his parents have died. He has just lost his ability to play rugby due to an injury and is forced into early retirement.

With the money he’s made he decides to open a pub in a small town on the shore, Looe. There he meets Francis, an interior designer with social anxiety after a brutal attack in London.

The two have an instant connection but dance around things briefly and let the tension mount but they can’t avoid it forever.

Caddock’s nephew is wonderful but ends up causing some troubles as his grandparents don’t think a gay man should be raising him.

Eventually, everything works out quite nicely and we get a very, very heart warming HEA.

**

This is a new to me author, but I will absolutely be looking for more in the future. The smexy times are fairly low steam, but the emotion is very sweet and the dialog witty.

I enjoyed the ending the best – so sweet! – and highly recommend this.

4.5 of 5 stars

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Copy Purchased For Review

Amazon Link

http://www.amazon.com/After-Scrum-Dahlia-Donovan-ebook/dp/B01DIF79W0/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1460135212&sr=1-1&keywords=after+the+scrum