Categories
adult - 18+ New Adult

Audiobook: Valor on the Move by Keira Andrews Narrated by Iggy Toma

audiobookreview

Audible

https://www.audible.com/pd/Valor-on-the-Move-Audiobook/1977348661?qid=1564954678&sr=1-1&pf_rd_p=e81b7c27-6880-467a-b5a7-13cef5d729fe&pf_rd_r=8QZBSEQYH702E6VXTSBX&ref=a_search_c3_lProduct_1_1

Blurb

He’d give his life to protect the president’s son. But he never expected to risk his heart.

Growing up gay in the White House hasn’t been easy for Rafael Castillo. Codenamed “Valor” by the Secret Service, Rafa feels anything but brave as he hides in the closet and tries to stay below the radar in his last year of college. His father’s presidency is almost over, and he just needs to stick to his carefully crafted plan. Once his family’s out of the spotlight, he can be honest with his conservative parents about his sexuality and his dream of being a chef.

It’s definitely not part of Rafa’s plan to get a new Secret Service agent who’s a walking wet dream, but he’s made it this long keeping his desires to himself. Besides, it’s not like Shane Kendrick would even look at him twice if it wasn’t his job.

Shane’s worked his way up through the Secret Service ranks, and while protecting the president’s shy, boring son isn’t his dream White House assignment, it’s an easy enough task since no one pays Rafa much attention. He discovers there’s a vibrant young man beneath the timid public shell, and while he knows Rafa has a crush on him, he assures himself it’s harmless. Shane’s never had room for romance in his life, and he’d certainly never cross that line with a protectee. Keeping Rafa safe at any cost is Shane’s mission.

But as Rafa gets under his skin, will they both put their hearts on the line?

Review

You know that feeling when you finish a book and want to turn around and start it all over again? Well, this book will give you that feeling – and how!

Rafa is the last kid at home, in the last year of a two-term presidency, son of the President of the U.S. He’s 21, in his last year at UVA, and desperate for the freedom January will bring when he can finally leave the White House.

He’s painfully shy and socially awkward, knows he’s gay but has never been able to act upon this with his Republican parents and living life in the spot-light. He has a girlfriend who is a lesbian and together they protect one another’s secrets until the time is right for them to come out of the closet together. In addition to hiding the secret about his sexuality, he also struggles with the expectation to follow his father into politics when all he wants to do is become a chef and learn to surf.

Shane is a secret-service agent who is excited to be moving up the ranks to the “Big Show” of presidential protection. He’s a loner: only child, no parents, few friends, no attachments romantically. He gets his needs met with f*ck buddies and the occasional hook-up and he has no desire to change that. He tells his friend that he’ll know it’s time for something more when he actually cares to wake up to the same person everyday.

Rafa falls into instant lust with his new secret service agent but knows it can’t ever be anything real. But… he can’t help but dream. When Shane shows a bit of kindness to him and allows himself to be a guinea pig for some of Rafa’s recipes, he can’t but help hope for something more.

Shane knows he can’t be distracted by the young man in his charge. It wouldn’t be right on so many levels. But he sees the open heart and obvious crush and can’t help but be caught up with the lonely man he’s protecting.

A stolen kiss, a kidnap attempt, and a night in a cave change the course of their relationship forever.

There’s drama surrounding the kidnap, Rafa’s family finds out he’s gay and Shane’s friend in the service has both professional and family struggles that will both tug at your heart string and make you super mad at the same time.
In the end, everyone involved has to do some serious re-considering of their life choices and has to decide just what is most important in life.

**

Oh. My. God. I LOVED this book so hard! Rafa had me in his hands right from the start. He was so, so lonely. Such a good guy who had practically nobody to turn to. He was overshadowed by his celebrity family and left to his own devices to hide who he really was from both family and the public.

Shane was a genuinely nice guy with only a bit of angst in his past, but still a strong person who was willing to see the best thing for him in a situation that looked impossible.

I know that there are a lot of “impossible things” that happened in this story, but it was believable enough that I was on the edge of my seat the entire time. I cried so many times – the sick kids, Rafa’s high school career, Shane’s parents, the kidnapping and the ending… God! Such an emotional roller-coaster.

I loved the chemistry between Shane and Rafa and thought it was a brilliant move to make Rafa just a bit kinky when his other self was so reserved. The May/December aspect was handled well and made to seem as the least of their problems.

I thought the kidnapping part of the story was brilliant. I won’t give anything away, but I was totally on the fence between complete anger and total understanding. Brilliantly done!

My only wish was that we could have seen Shane and Rafa as a couple once the whole White House thing was over. I would have loved to see them together in Australia!

I can’t recommend this book enough. Keira is an amazing author who continually wows me with the width and breadth of the subjects she is able to master, from and Amish love affair to Zombies, she handles them all so effortlessly!

If I could give it more stars I would!

Audio

I enjoyed this so much! I think Iggy Toma did a great job with both the younger and older voices – and carried the emotional intensity very well.

He’s so easy to listen to and I think it made a great way to experience this amazing story.

5 of 5 stars

Copy Purchased for Review

 

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Uncategorized

Upside Down Audiobook by N.R Walker, Narrated by Glen Lloyd.

audiobookreview

 

Blurb
Jordan O’Neill isn’t a fan of labels, considering he has a few. Gay, geek, a librarian, socially awkward, a nervous rambler, an introvert, an outsider. The last thing he needs is one more. But when he realizes adding the label ‘asexual’ might explain a lot, it turns his world upside down.

Hennessy Lang moved to Surry Hills after splitting with his boyfriend. His being asexual had seen the end of a lot of his romances, but he’s determined to stay true to himself. Leaving his North Shore support group behind, he starts his own in Surry Hills, where he meets first-time-attendee Jordan.

A little bewildered and scared, but completely adorable, Hennessy is struck by this guy who’s trying to find where he belongs. Maybe Hennessy can convince Jordan that his world hasn’t been turned upside down at all, but maybe it’s now—for the first time in his life—the right way up.

Review
This was my second time reading this story, in audio this time. I admit I didn’t like this narrator in another book, he was not bad, just had a sort of flat emotional range in my opinion. Yet, here I slowly grew to love him, he had a great comedic sense, and I felt like he enjoyed narrating this book. I loved hoe he interpreted the characters, he got Jordan’s wacky, quirky humor just right, and added this layer of softness to the relationship between he and Hennessy.
This book was incredibly sweet, with the humor I liked so much in Walker’s ‘The Weight of it All’ and dealing with the subject of Asexuality in a wonderful eye-opening way. Walker showed the struggle Asexuals face in our overly sexualized culture.
I think the thing that makes this story so good it how much you don’t really need sex to feel the romance, longing and passion Jordan and Hennessy feel for each other. Jordan is one of the funniest characters I’ve read in a long time, and he had me laughing more times than I can count. Angus and Merry were some of the most amazing side characters I have ever read and I wish we could get their story someday.
This book makes you feel so good, while still having emotional depth and dealing with serious themes. The ending leaves you smiling and a gooey happy pile of emotions. Just a wonderful read through and through.

Number of stars out of 5
5


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

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The Dichotomy of Angels by N.R. Walker; narrated by Nick J. Russo

audiobookreview

Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/49921241-the-dichotomy-of-angels?ac=1&from_search=true&qid=UGkNks73xm&rank=2

Blurb: Nathaniel and Chasan are no ordinary angels.

Destiny chose them to be twin flames, fated mates. But Nathaniel has avoided Chasan for nearly a thousand years.
When sent to Earth on a mission to live and work together, Nathaniel comes face-to-face with his destiny. Short-tempered, petulant, and grumpy, he hates the idea of being fated to anyone and has chosen an existence of isolation rather than spending time with the calm, kind, and serene Chasan. But now he has no choice.
One is fire, the other is air; a true dichotomy of angels. Together they will be ignited, or they will be extinguished. This assignment will seal their fate either way.

Review:
Story: This is such a fun story! Two angels – one grumpy (Nathan) and the other one, a ray of sunshine (Chasan) have been assigned to work together on a mission to save a child.
Both angels have to assume human identities – including being married to each other – and teach nursery school children. Oh, and they’re fated mates! Nathan has been avoiding his fate (heh!) for centuries, so he’s not pleased with this development – at all.
I really enjoyed seeing how they navigated through our world, especially Nathan. I especially enjoyed how both MCs navigate their emotions and the relationship that develops. There is a lot to love about the story, I recommend that you discover what you love about it too 

Narration: Nick J. Russo made this an excellent experience! He gave a great performance with the varying voices/accents for all characters. He also captured and conveyed the various emotions of the characters so well that I abandoned reading and just listened. Excellent way to enjoy the book!

Story: 4.5 stars
Narration: 5 stars


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

 

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Elements of Retrofit by N.R. Walker, narrated by Nick J. Russo

audiobookreview

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/45187628-elements-of-retrofit

Blurb

Generation versus generation, traditional versus contemporary, these men are about to learn a lesson in architecture and love. Can they prove that the old and new can be the perfect design?

A successful New York architect, Thomas Elkin almost has it all. Coming out as gay and ending his marriage before his 40th birthday, he needed to start living his life. Now, four years later, with his relationship with his son back on track, and after a few short-lived romances, this esteemed traditional draftsman thinks he knows everything about architecture, about life.

Cooper Jones, 22 years old, is about to take the architect world by storm. Talented, professional, driven and completely infuriating, Cooper is the definition of Generation Y.

Starting an internship working with Thomas, Cooper is about to knock Tom’s world off its axis. Tom can teach Cooper about the architecture industry, but Cooper is about to teach Tom what it means to live.

Review

A captivating May/December romance with well-rounded MC’s. I loved the funny back-and-forth between Thomas and Cooper. Cooper is not intimidated by ‘Tom’ at all, even though he greatly admires his talent. I liked the mutual respect between the MC’s and how they are equals in their relationship, even though Thomas is Cooper’s boss (at least for some of the story) and is quite a bit older. There is some relationship drama, with Tom being a little presumptuous and not as communicative as he should be and Cooper showing his youth when they hit a certain bump in the road, but it serves the purpose of the story and heightens the emotional stakes in a good way.

Narration: Nick J. Russo was the perfect choice for this story. I loved his take on Thomas and Cooper, the way he captured both Tom’s more reserved nature and Cooper’s teasing banter. Loved it!

 

Number of stars out of 5: 4.5



Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

 

Categories
adult - 18+

Next to Me by: Veronica Cochrane

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/next-to-me-by-veronica-cochrane-11803-b

Blurb
Can an awkward student and a closeted rock star make beautiful music together?

Music composition student Chase Collins has always worn his heart on his sleeve. That’s why it was so quick to break in high school when Chase lost Carter West, his best friend and first love, to an ill-fated kiss.

Imagine Chase’s surprise five years later when Carter, now a rising rock star, admits to the world that Chase inspired his band’s award-winning song—and that Carter was in love with him all along.

Frontman Carter West has been closeted his whole life. Now that he’s out in the most public way possible, he can finally indulge in the romantic impulses he’s always had to keep stifled. Reconnecting with Chase gives him the opportunity to explore a whole new side of himself.

But the next tour draws inevitably closer, and Chase is wary. Carter left Chase once before. Can two gifted musicians write themselves a love song that will last a lifetime?

Review
I found this to be a sweet second chance, friends to lovers romance. What I liked most was there wasn’t a lot of miscommunication and drama in this story. The time gap was only five years but in that time both Chase and Carter have had to do a lot of growing up. The fame angle was handled well without anyone becoming starstruck. I enjoyed the story. It was nice and light with a little friction to keep life interesting. When the story switched POV between the characters it took me a little while to settle into which character was speaking, nothing to detract from the story.

Number of stars 3 out of 5


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Categories
adult - 18+

Sixty Five Hours by N.R. Walker, narrated by Nick J. Russo

audiobookreview

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/54870010-sixty-five-hours

Blurb

Cameron Fletcher and Lucas Hensley are advertising executives who have Sixty Five Hours to pull together the campaign of their careers.

Sixty Five Hours to get along. Sixty Five Hours to not kill each other. Sixty Five Hours to fall in love.

Review

Sixty Five Hours was one of the first m/m books I ever read, and returning to it with this audio version was utterly wonderful. The story effortlessly withstands the test of time in my eyes, and forced proximity has never been quite this sexy or this much fun! Cameron and Lucas’s romance is on a tight schedule, the same way they are for working out their new marketing proposal. As a reader, I was completely sold by how their relationship developed, the same way the Lurex CEO was. Things moved so quickly, but both MC’s are amazingly three-dimensional, and their connection progresses in a genuine, heartfelt way. Nothing feels rushed or cliché, a testament to N.R. Walker’s writing talent.

Narration: Nick J. Russo did a brilliant job with this engaging enemies-to-lovers romance, enhancing the story in a way I hadn’t expected. I was ridiculously charmed by his sexy drawl for Lucas and the more proper voice he gave Cameron, fitting their personalities to a T, and I was utterly captivated by the emotions and intensity he brought to his performance. Definitely worth another listen!

Number of stars out of 5: 4.5


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

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Uncategorized

Secret Santa by Jay Northcote, narrated by Hamish Long

audiobookreview

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/56332312-secret-santa

https://www.audible.com/pd/Secret-Santa-Audiobook/B08QM5PVF5?ref=a_library_t_c5_libItem_&pf_rd_p=85df3330-9dc4-4a45-ae69-93cc2fc25ca4&pf_rd_r=JC0N6CW947WKQVNCNC5C

Blurb
Keeping secrets is never a good way to start a relationship.
Theo hardly has time to date. Between work and caring for his four-year-old son, there aren’t many hours left over. He’s lonely though, so he joins a hook-up app and starts chatting to a guy called Luke. Luke seems friendly, and they arrange to meet. Theo doesn’t mention that he has a child. It’s early days, and he’s worried about putting Luke off before they get to know each other.
Luke is currently working as Santa at the local shopping mall. He figures Theo never has to know. Christmas will be over soon, and Luke will move on to a new, less embarrassing job. He’s surprised when Theo and a little boy visit Santa one afternoon. Theo doesn’t recognize Luke, and Luke realizes he’s not the only one with a secret.
Despite misgivings on both sides, they start dating, and the chemistry is amazing. But as Christmas approaches, their secrets pile up like colorful packages under the tree. If they’re not careful, they’ll lose the best gift of all – each other.
Review
What a lovely holiday romance! Sweet and cute, giving you all the feels, but never crossing the line and becoming too mushy or overly sentimental. Perfect for finding some holiday cheer!

What truly made this story stand out for me is that it’s about two real, genuine people searching for and finding love in a realistic way while dealing with the hustle and bustle of everyday life and worries. No over the top drama or angst here!

I especially loved Archie, Theo’s little boy. He is an integral part of the story and incredibly adorable! Theo is a wonderful parent, putting his child first, and I found it really easy to relate to him because of that. I like that he has such a great relationship with Caroline and that there is no evil ex in the story.

I thought the references to Top Gear and The Great British Bake Off were a very nice touch in making the characters seem even more real and relatable. Luke, I’m with you, btw!
Narration: Utter bliss. Hamish Long is such a talented narrator! I always enjoy listening to his warm voice and was awestruck, once again, by his knack for capturing the characters’ personalities and emotions. I loved his performance of Secret Santa! He brought Theo and Luke to life in the best way.

Number of stars out of 5: 4.5


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

Categories
adult - 18+

Demon’s Wish by Xenia Melzer

Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/56144105-demon-s-wish

Blurb: Finding love is hard—especially when you’re a demon and your potential mate is your sacrifice…

Sammy is content with running his bookshop and leading a book club consisting solely of paranormal creatures. Despite the persistence of his friends, he has resolved himself to a life without romance, since he doesn’t think anybody could find him and his tendency to spill useless knowledge whenever he gets nervous attractive.

Dresalantion is a demon prince and slightly—make that majorly—annoyed when somebody persistently tries to summon him. He finally decides to show up and put the fear of Dresalantion into his summoners but finds himself rescuing their sacrifice instead.

Sammy intrigues him from the get-go, and when Dre realizes that Sammy can get him the manga he’s been hunting for months—not to mention that he refuses a wish he offered him—the sexy demon decides to get to know this fascinating man better. Much better.

Review: I loved this story! Dre, a demon prince has been summoned, (via a potential human sacrifice), to do the bidding of some misguided kids – he soon sets them straight! The sacrifice, Sammy, is quick to realise that he’s in a bit of a predicament, what with facing off with a demon. However, Dre surprises both Sammy and himself by wanting to get to know Sammy better.
Sammy is a nerdy delight – he’s smart, unconsciously funny, full of trivia, which happens to be Dre’s favourite thing. I loved everything about the story – the banter, the friendship/dating thing both men had going on and some of the secondary characters, like the members of Sammy’s book club. I started to highlight some of my favourite lines, but I would have ended up highlighting the entire book!
Definitely one of my new favourite books!

5 stars out of 5

Copy generously provided by author

 

Categories
adult - 18+

Half a Cowboy by Andrew Grey

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/half-a-cowboy-by-andrew-grey-11801-b

Blurb

Ever since his discharge from the military, injured veteran Ashton Covert has been running his family ranch—and running himself into the ground to prove he still can. Ben Malton knows about running too. When he takes refuge in Ashton’s barn after an accident in a Wyoming blizzard, he’s thinking only of survival and escaping his abusive criminal ex, Dallas. Ashton has never met a responsibility he wouldn’t try to shoulder. When he finds Ben half-frozen, he takes it upon himself to help. But deadly trouble follows Ben wherever he goes. He needs to continue on, except it may already be too late. Something about Ben makes Ashton feel whole again. But before they can ride into the sunset together, they need to put an end to Dallas’s threats. Ben can make a stand, with Ashton’s help—only it turns out the real danger could be much closer to home.

Review

The story starts out promising with the strong cowboy with a protective streak who is immediately touched by the misfortune of a mysterious city boy on the run from his dangerous ex. Ashton is there to help Ben and is willing to keep him safe from the first, even when that means bringing danger upon himself and his friends. This felt a bit rushed for me. I’d have liked them to have had more time to form a connection to justify Ashton jumping in so quickly as Ben’s selfless hero. As they prepare to face Dallas, Ben’s crime boss ex, they grow closer and start to fall for each other. Ben’s background story was left too vague, and I never felt truly convinced of his dire situation over the years nor his supposed gullibility. And so I couldn’t really get behind the romantic plot between Ben and Ashton. They both also could have been drawn with a little more nuance and depth. These MC’s that have known pain and disappointment, which affords the author plenty of opportunity for character growth, but Ben and Ashton still seem too much like formulaic stereotypes, and their struggles sometimes veered dangerously close to self-absorbed ‘whiny’ territory. There are several secondary characters in the story to help create a world around our two MC’s, both to give that sense of finding family and to increase the suspense and dangerous vibes through Dallas and his goons. The first worked out well, but the latter fell a little flat, mostly because Dallas is a bit of a letdown as a villain. The author did have some surprises up his sleeve as the criminal aspect of the plot thickened, which was a nice plus.

 

Number of stars out of 5: 3



Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

 

Categories
adult - 18+

A Christmas Break by Annabelle Jacobs

Good Reads

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/55845390-a-christmas-break?ac=1&from_search=true&qid=7e0Q0Rl2uD&rank=1

Blurb

Christmas is a time for giving, not lusting after your brother’s best mate.

Finn has never had the Christmas of his dreams, and this year isn’t shaping up to be much better. Then he rents his spare room out to Jasper, and life begins to look up.

Laid-back Jasper is nothing like Finn expects. He’s hot, sweet, and easy to talk to. Finn could easily fall for him. But, he’s his brother’s best friend. He’s off limits, and Finn would never break that sacred rule…right?

Jasper has carried a torch for his best mate’s brother for years. Living with him sparks an old flame to light, and the more time they spend together, the brighter it burns. Finn is gorgeous and kind. He’s everything Jasper has ever wanted.

But he’s also scarred by old wounds and reluctant to let his guard down again. Friendship blooms, and for a short while, it’s enough. But the fire between them is undeniable. Finn can fight it as much as he likes.

He won’t win.

Review

This was a lovely, easy-to-read, feel-good love story with two adorable, well-rounded MCs. A part of the book’s plot focuses on (re-)connecting with family, which I love above all in a holiday romance. It gives this romance that extra heartwarming touch.
Jasper is Finn’s younger brother’s best friend, so they have known each other for a while; still, the author managed to write in a fun “meet-cutey” moment to start them off on the right track to new possibilities. They really shouldn’t go there, or should they? The story builds on some of my favorite tropes like forced proximity and the slightly forbidden brother’s best friend angle, and I liked what the author did with that. It never feels trite or too predictable when Finn and Jasper grow closer, and the emotional depth that sneaks in among the festive cheer is much appreciated. The writing is fluent and engaging, and I especially liked the humor interspersed among the book’s overall sweetness. The secondary characters, both human and animal, are great, the perfect cast to support our MCs. Finn’s mom is sweet but a little devious, and I loved how she “helps” Finn give a home to the most adorable rescue cats ever. I was absolutely charmed by A Christmas Break. Recommend.

 

Number of stars out of 5: 4


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review