Relase Day Review: Reunited by Andrew Grey

release day review

Dreamspinner

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/reunited-by-andrew-grey-10179-b

Blurb

Back in high school, nobody noticed quiet nerd Kevin Howard.
But everybody noticed handsome, athletic, and ultra-popular jock Clay Northrup.
They had nothing in common and lived in different worlds.
But a lot can change in fifteen years, and when they meet again at their high school reunion, Clay is no longer the big man on campus, and Kevin isn’t hiding in a corner anymore.

Can they put aside who they were? Can one night really lead to forever?

Review

Cute second chance at love story with a high school reunion turning into an unlikely first date. I liked that we get quite a lot of backstory for our MC’s, even in this short a novella. Both MC’s have changed a lot since high school, but we still get that opposites attract vibe which is always fun. Kevin is a great guy, but came off a bit boastful sometimes and not as restrained or centered as he prides himself on being.
There’s certainly potential for these two MC’s, both in the romance and finding family department, but there are practical challenges to be faced if they are to make a success of a real relationship.

I would have liked to have had more of an answer to the final question on the blurb. The ending, though sweet and hopeful, still left quite a bit open.

Number of stars out of 5: 3


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Audiobook: Don’t let Go by Andrew Grey; Narrated by Jeff Gelder

audiobookreview

Dreamspinner
https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/dont-let-go-by-andrew-grey-9792-

Blurb
Avery Rivers is a country music sensation, selling records by the millions and playing to sold-out crowds. But behind that persona is Robert, a burned-out musician cracking under the pressure. He’s unable to write any new songs, and he wants out of the business—at least for a while. He changes his appearance and finds honest, hard work in Jackson, Wyoming. Maybe getting to be a regular guy for a while will get him past his block.

Hy Whitely was a championship bull rider until he watched his best friend thrown in the arena and decided the rodeo circuit was no longer the place for him. He wants to be plain old Zeke for a while, and when he returns to his family ranch, he bumps right into Robert—a one-night stand from his last rodeo appearance who is now working there as a ranch hand.

The heat between the men could sear the grass off the range, but each one is hiding a secret. Robert and Zeke, the men behind the public images, fall in love, but can they hold on when Avery and Hy are pulled back into the spotlight

Review
I remember reviewing the book when it came out and saying how much I enjoyed it. Well that hasn’t diminished at all. I love the concept of two people who both had secret identities, neither realising the other is someone famous. Both of them living in the moment enjoying each other’s company. Both Zeke (Hy) and Robert (Avery) have reached a turning point in their life and need to make a decision. Although it does seem in their heart they already knew what they wanted it just took meeting each other to make it happen. Their idyllic life is put in jeopardy when Robert is identified as Avery but the family and friends rally round to protect him.
I’m not completely sold on Jeff Gelder’s narration. To me it sounds flat and not paced very well. He does provide some level of characterisation that suits the characters making them distinct. The story kept me listening though.

4 of stars out of 5 for the story
3 of stars out of 5 for the narration
Overall 3.5 stars


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Release Day Review: Nomad’s Dream by August Li

release day review

Dreamspinner

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/nomads-dream-by-august-li-10134-b

Blurb

Two men, each with a hidden destiny. Can they defeat a web of deceit and dark magic to ensure their fates intertwine?

Bedouin Isra al-Grayjaab’s dreams lead him to Janan, an amnesiac beggar on the street of Qena—one who steals his heart and starts him on a seemingly hopeless quest. With only their wits, Isra’s knowledge of the desert’s secrets, and the aid of a mercurial djinn, they must recover Janan’s past. But neither can predict his true identity or the lengths others will go to see that his mind remains broken and his true power out of his reach.

In a sweeping romantic adventure that takes them across the Eastern Desert to the modern streets of Cairo and on to the luxurious Red Sea Coast, Janan and Isra seek a truth that will either bring them into each other’s arms or tear them apart forever.

Review

To me this felt much more like a mystery/adventure story, and rather less like a romance. Though Janan and Isra fall in love and spend quite a lot of time together, I was left wanting more. As love stories go this one is rather more mellow than I like as far as feelings & passion go. It reads like an action-filled fairy tale and I prefer my romances a little grittier with MC’s who develop a deep emotional connection and build a life together as couple. We leave our MC’s before they get to do that.

This book has a peculiar mix of paranormal characters on the one hand and very religious characters on the other, which is certainly different from what I’m used to reading. I think the author did an amazing job in describing the Bedouin way of life and the beauty of the desert, and I also liked how she interspersed the story with Arabic terms & customs. Always with a light and respectful touch. I felt like I stepped into a tale of the Arabian Nights.

The story is set in modern-day Egypt which still has quite a way to go in matters like LGBT rights, gender equality and women’s empowerment. These issues are important to the story and I was pleased to see our fictional characters come out on top and pursue a happy and hopeful life together. How that translates into their daily life stays vague, however, they are both still in the closet as far as I know.

The secondary characters are well-written. Flicker, the djinn who befriended and protected Isra, is intriguing and mysterious, and we also get two very strong and independent female characters, Sehrish and Nawra, which was a nice plus.

Number of stars out of 5: 3


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The Other Book by Roe Horvat

 

Good Reads

 

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/43380012-the-other-book?from_search=true

 

Blurb
It was supposed to be just sex… Famous last words.

Tyler doesn’t overthink pleasure and avoids complications. He knows it might be stupid to get involved with his closeted boss, but the temptation is too great. At first, the cold and beautiful Joel Sandstrom seems to loathe Tyler’s guts.

Except one late night at the office, his reasons become clear…and his control breaks.

Every time they touch, Joel’s stony face comes alive, harsh lines smooth out, and for a minute, he looks serene. Happy, even. Just sex – dirty, intense, spectacular sex.

During their covert encounters, Tyler discovers the power he has over the lonesome man, and it’s a heady feeling. What if he could set Joel free and give him peace of mind? When Tyler realizes how much Joel needs him, he doesn’t regret breaking his own rules.

Gay erotic romance. Contains explicit scenes and sexual interactions between more than two partners. For adult readers only.

Review
Joel and Tyler are very interesting characters, their relationship hits you in the face unexpectedly and the Enemies-to-Lovers vibe is very strong in this book. It’s hard to wrap your head around what is going on at first but I did like that the story didn’t drag it out too long and they did come clean to each other in a relatively healthy way.

This book was very intense and erotic sexually, and in that sense I liked it even though I usually do not like when couples add a third (or fourth) in a relationship. Despite that I felt it was written well and didn’t affect my delicate monogamist sensibilities too much. It was also important for Joel to find freedom, in the confining darkness of the closet imposed upon him, so that scene was a pinnacle moment for him in a way.
I liked that despite the awful situation between Joel and his father the darkness was not too overpowering and it ended with a good HEA.
I know Roe Horvat wished this book to be read without reference to his previous work (according to his author’s not in the beginning) but I could not make that distinction and I feel like his other books (such as Vanilla Clouds) were better. That being said, this is a good length story with enough heat to singe off your eyebrows and good emotional development in the characters.

Number of stars out of 5
3.5


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Recent Release: Tigers on the Way (Tigers and Devils #4) by Sean Kennedy

Dreamspinner

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/tigers-on-the-way-by-sean-kennedy-10072-b

Blurb

Documentary producer Simon and ex-footballer Declan are taking some big steps toward a lasting life together. They’ve bought a house, and they’ll need it for the family they plan to start. Their friend, Nyssa, has made the generous offer to be their surrogate, and Declan couldn’t be more excited about the idea of a baby.

Simon knows fatherhood is a huge commitment, and though it’s daunting, he sees how much Dec wants it, and he’s sure that together, they can succeed in anything—despite the worries nagging at him.

But just as their new life is taking shape, a health scare disrupts their plans at the worst possible moment. With time running short, Simon and Dec will have to bare their fears and doubts to each other so they can face them before their world changes forever.

It might mean a literal leap of faith.

 

Review

This was a lot of fun!  I’d forgotten how much I enjoy Simon’s snarky humor and Declan’s steadfast devotion.  The secondary characters are also back and so funny, too!

There is no steam in this – and I missed that aspect – I think a little bit would have helped – we don’t need a ton but…

I really enjoyed watching the couple navigate Simon’s health scare and the decision to become fathers.  I really liked how that was handled.

I was worried, given the length of this, that I was going to be bored – I tend to find sequels like this can be tedious – but I wasn’t and I can really recommend this to all the fans from the original books.

I will say that I do think it could have been edited a bit tighter and that there are some parts of this that could have been deleted 🙂  IMHO

 

4 of 5 stars

 


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Time for the Holidays: Dreamspinner Advent Calendar Story The Faller by Daniel de Lorne

Dreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/2018-advent-calendar-daily-delivery-package-warmest-wishes-10067-b

 

Blurb

Being caught with another man sends Charlie Young fleeing his family to the forests of southwestern Australia to scrape together steamer-passage to the big smoke of London. But life as a timber faller isn’t easy and it’s made worse when the men, he works with are brash, bigoted, and often brutal. All except Jack Tapper, who’s the kind of gentle giant that sets Charlie’s heart racing.
While the other men head into town for Christmas, it’s just Charlie and Jack and acres of forest. But trees tell no tales and a few days alone is the perfect opportunity to indulge a bourgeoning passion. When the men return and find things not as they once were, Charlie and Jack have to make the hard decisions about whether to stay where they are or run for their lives.

Review

Charlie is running away and trying to hide. He stops to work as a faller hoping to get some money for a ticket to London where he imagines he will be safe, but will he make it? The big men he is working with surely will not look kindly at him if they ever find out what he likes.
When the biggest man of them all turns out to be the one Charlie can count on will the two fight to stay or run?

Charlie has been through a lot and is learning early on how tough life can be. He longs for a chance to live and love. When a chance for love comes with Jack Charlie must make some hard choices. It was nice to see the way Charlie and Jack connected as their attraction turned into something more. There is so much Charlie must learn before he can truly be free. Charlie and Jack are good men who must let go of their past to find a future. Both men go through some self-searching and they learn the hard way that love is worth fighting for.

Number of stars out of 5: 3

Copy Generously Provided by Publisher for Honest Review

Audiobook: Fire Balls (Balls to the Wall #2) by Tara Lain Narrated by Nick J Russo

audiobookreview

 

Dreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/fire-balls-by-tara-lain-8126-b

Blurb

A Balls to the Wall Romance

Renowned artist Rodney Mansfield stands five foot six, has pink hair, six earrings, a black belt in karate—and a desperate yearning for firefighter Hunter Fallon. But Rod, the Runtback of Notre Dame, knows he’ll never land the beautiful “straight gay” guy, so Rod musters his altruism and helps his more masculine friend Jerry attract Hunter. As if a broken heart wasn’t enough, Rod saves Hunter from a firehouse homophobe—humiliating Hunter in front of his dad!

Hunter lives a dream life—his father’s dream. While he’d like to teach literature in college, read poetry in the sun, and find a strong guy to top him, he fights fires for his dad. Hunter hates flamboyant guys like Rodney. So why can’t he resist him? Maybe it’s time to admit this is one flame he has no desire to put out.

First Edition published by Etopia Press, 2012.

Review

(Book reviewed here previously)

Though this is the second book in the series, they are absolutely okay as standalones. I do like watching the progression, however, as each new couple (or triad!) meets and we see them in future stories.

Rod is the artist who painted David – if you read book one. He’s very flamboyant and he both loves and hates this about himself. He’s also not very tall, but he’s super tough and a black belt in Karate.

There’s a lot to this story that I love: I love Rodney. He’s a great character. Self assured. Charismatic. Colorful. Stereo-type defying. Hunter is unique as well. I love that Rodney helps Hunter but that it’s Hunter’s family who helps him the most.

What I didn’t love: the first two times Hunter and Rodney are together physically felt both like cheating and a little less than consensual. I don’t mean rape – while Rodney probably could hurt Hunter physically , he would never – but more mentally. I didn’t like that it was clear Hunter wasn’t mentally in a good place to make decisions, he was dating Jerry, and he didn’t want to want Rodney. I didn’t feel good about how Rodney sort of “seduced” him… it’s hard to explain but it clearly wasn’t something both men were on the same page about and it left both men feeling bad after it happened.

So, I’m conflicted about the rating, because I love Rodney and appreciate so much about the story, but that aspect really brought my appreciation of this story down. I’m going to go with 3 of 5 stars and leave it at that.

(I’m not sure if anything changed from the first edition to this one, but I’d read the original and couldn’t tell a difference, but it’d been a long time ago.)

3 of 5 stars

Audio

Nick J Russo is one of my favorite narrators ever, so it’s not unreasonable that I loved this just as much as any of his other narrations.  He is so good at giving everyone unique voices and handling the sometimes awkward phrasing that the author has chosen.  

I always know if Nick’s narrating I’ll be entertained and that the book will be undoubtedly elevated beyond just the reading of the material.

Recommended in this format!

5 of 5 stars for the narration

Overall

4 of 5 stars


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

Time for the Holidays: Dreamspinner Advent Calendar Story Tulsi Vivah by Anna Kaling

Dreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/2018-advent-calendar-daily-delivery-package-warmest-wishes-10067-b

 

Blurb

 

The festival of Tulsi Vivah ushers in the Hindu wedding season and tears away the love of Kristopher’s life. Three years of passion and tenderness are reduced to a shameful skeleton in the closet as Arjuna submits to the marriage his parents have arranged for him. His family has never even heard Kristopher’s name.

The festival, a ritualistic wedding between the holy basil plant, Tulsi, and her eternal lover, Vishnu, is as much of a play-act as Arjuna’s upcoming nuptials, but he believes the wedding will honor his parents and please Vishnu. So why is his Tulsi plant—whose leaves heal and bless the devout, who is Vishnu’s representative on earth—dying? Arjuna tends to her with all the care of a concerned parent, but it might take more than his devotion to save her. She might need Kris, with his clever green-fingers—and maybe a revived Tulsi can heal two hearts.

Review
Not exactly my cup of tea, but still a sweet and hopeful holiday romance. In the end. It took a while to get there.
I guess what bothered me so was that we have an established couple that breaks down, not because of an outside threat, but because of one of the MC’s himself. Not something I like to see in a romance. Pet peeve of mine.

I had a hard time warming up to Arjuna, because I hated how he treated Kris and even more how he broke up with him. So much in their relationship happened on Arjuna’s terms, which is just very unhealthy as well as unbalanced and I didn’t feel as if Arjuna appreciated Kris’ efforts enough. He suffered too during their separation, so that did win him some highly-needed bonus points. But then it also takes Arjuna (a lot of) time to realize it would be awful of him to marry Sharanya under false pretenses, and that initial willingness to spend a lifetime lying to a spouse like that again didn’t endear him to me.

I liked learning more about Hinduism and its mythology, and the really wonderful thing for me was that the Tulsi plant was used as a subtle way to show Arjuna that he should feel free to pursue love and happiness, even if it comes in the form of a relationship with Kris and not in that of an arranged marriage to a woman.

In the end, Arjuna makes some brave choices and is a very lucky man to still hold Kris’ affections. However, both MC’s had to face a learning curve in order to better understand the other’s point of view and create a stronger foundation for their relationship.
I loved the final scene where Kris finally meets Arjuna’s parents. A very heartwarming send-off for our MC’s.

Number of stars out of 5: 3

 

Copy Generously Provided by Publisher for Honest Review

 

Time to Celebrate the Holidays: A Soldier’s Wish (The Christmas Angel #5) by N.R. Walker

Good Reads Link

https://www.goodreads.com/series/242950

Blurb

The year is 1969…

Gary Fairchild is proud to be a hippie college student, and he protests the Vietnam War because he believes in love and peace. To him, it isn’t just a counterculture movement—it’s a way of life. When tickets to the Aquarium Exposition—3 Days of Peace & Music, or Woodstock, as it was better known, go on sale, there’s no way he isn’t going.

Richard Ronsman is a sheltered farm boy who lives in the shadow of his overbearing father. He’s hidden his darkest secret to earn his father’s love, but nothing is ever good enough—not even volunteering for the Vietnam War. And with just a few days left before he’s deployed, a striking hippie invites him to join them at a music festival.

Three days of music, drugs, rain, mud, and love forged a bond between these two very different men that would shape the rest of their lives. They share dreams and fears, and when Richard is shipped off to war, they share letters and love. For Richard’s first Christmas home, he is gifted a special angel ornament that just might make a soldier’s wish come true.

Review

Wow. This was so amazing! I have to admit – having grown up in the 70s and 80s I never really thought much about Vietnam. I mean, I learned about it as a general piece of history, but I never thought about what it meant to these men who truly believed it was the “wrong” type of war or to whom they never wanted to kill a human and they get drafted based on their birthday – ugh! How horrible – NR Walker really helped me to put it in context of today and I am amazed at how many men even went on without draft dodging.

In any case, this is a tremendously sweet story with a great look at history and a very sweet ending. If I have any complaints its that there was way too much sex in relation to the emotional connection that she usually gives us. IMHO.

4.5 of 5 stars


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Time to Celebrate the Holidays: Christmas Homecoming (The Christmas Angel #4) by L.A. Witt

 

Good Reads Link

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/41718469-christmas-homecoming

Blurb

August 1939. Roger Miller and Jack O’Brien have been close since childhood. By the time they realize there’s more between them than friendship, Jack is leaving their sleepy Iowa town for college. But they console themselves knowing he’ll be home for Christmas. Right?

It is Christmas before they see each other again, but that Christmas comes six years and a world war later. Aged, beaten, and shaken by combat, they’re not the boys they were back then, but their feelings for each other are stronger than ever.

Neither know the words to say everything they’ve carried since that peacetime summer kiss, though. Even as they stand in the same room, there’s a thousand miles between them.

But maybe that’s some distance the little angel in Roger’s rucksack can cross.

The Christmas Angel series books are standalones and can be read in any order.

Review

This was so sweet! Although this was a bit hard to swallow –I still loved it and was so glad for their HEA. LA Witt really did a nice job imagining the hardship of war for these boys and how it would affect their future decisions. I loved the line “We can be some other town’s ______ bacherlors” – such a lovely outcome for them!

4 of 5 stars


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review