Recent (re) Release: Not Just Friends by Jay Northcote

Goodreads link

Blurb

Leaving home for university has it’s struggles: meeting new people, classes, taking care of yourself and dealing with roommates how might not have the same views as you about dishes (that is, actually cleaning them) just to name a few. But what Lewis really isn’t prepared for the powerful crush he develops on his gay roommate Max. Because Lewis had always thought he was straight.

Lewis cannot keep his jealousy over Max’s new relationship hidden and forces him to confront his newfound sexuality. When Max’s relationship falls apart painfully, Lewis is there for him as a friend, one thing leads to another and even though Lewis is ready to take the next step, Max prefers them to stay as friends only.

Lewis tries to move on, keeping their friendship despite his feeling for Max. When the tables turn and Lewis is the one who needs Max’s support he learns maybe there is a future for them after all, if only he can risk his heart a second time.

Review

This is a re-release with no new content, and I enjoyed reading it the second time as much as the first one, which was on audio a while back. Jay’s stories always have that touch of realness to them, especially in the collage age stories, like his Housemates series for example. Relationships are not usually perfect from the start, sexuality isn’t either, and he manages to capture the small bumps in the roads and the physical exploration of sexuality so well. He also creates a true sense of group of friends, with all he small day to day issues of living together, collage lifestyle and all the side characters really shine in his books, here included.

This is a pretty typical coming out story, when Lewis suddenly comes face to face with an out and proud man, Max, he finds he is instantly attracted to, in close quarters no less. What follows are the very real struggles of a confused young man trying to figure out his sexuality, when he assumed he was straight and had a long term girlfriend before. All this while he is navigating collage life, new friends and awkward social situations, his roommate’s baking and attempts at matchmaking.

Max has no place for a relationship in his life, and after their tumble between the sheets he prefers to stay friends, but the friendship they share is so strong they cannot ignore their feelings anymore, and they both need the other for support. I like how they don’t have a clear path, Lewis figures out his sexuality it’s not the only thing in his way to a relationship with Max and they keep hitting walls and having to find ways to overcome them. They form a true friendship and bond that is so much stronger than having them fall into bed, and love, and face the difficulty of Lewis coming out like other romances of this troupe tend to do. This is a great romance that shows the not so perfect sides of romance and how, despite many odds against them, when two people are meant to be they can find a way to make it work if they are willing to take a risk.

Number of stars out of 5
3.5


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

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


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

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


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

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


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

Audiobook: Bad to the Bone by Nicki Bennett Narrated by Colin Darcy

audiobookreview

Dreamspinner Presents
https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/bad-to-the-bone-by-nicki-bennett-9442-b

Blurb

A second chance at first love—if he has the courage to take it.
Alex can’t think of himself as anything but a failure. In high school, he was on the fast track to a career in pro football when he forged an unlikely friendship with a half-Comanche boy from the wrong part of town, Ricky Lee Jennings. Their shared love of books could have grown into more—but a homophobic teammate attacked Ricky Lee, and Alex wouldn’t risk his scholarship to defend him. Ricky Lee was kicked out of school, and Alex never heard from him again.
Now Alex’s glory days are nothing but a memory. An injury ended his football aspirations, his marriage fell apart, and his dreams of making a difference as an environmental lobbyist are as dead as his fantasies of sports stardom.
But all that could change in one magical night, when Ricky Lee shows up at their high-school reunion.

Review

(Book reviewed here previously)

While I don’t usually like “second chance” books, I really enjoyed this one.

This was very heart-felt, with a real-ish type setting but enough “fantasy” elements to make it feel a bit like Cinderella.

I loved the added touches of making Ricky Native American, as well as rich. The “bad guys” were super bad and I definitely felt like I was reading an old timey romance – with a gay twist!

I thought Alex and Ricky Lee had great chemistry and their story was mostly sweet and little hot. I loved Sam – especially the end scene!

Overall this was exactly what you’d expect for the genre, well-written and a quick sweet read.

 

Audiobook

I found the narrator, Colin Darcy, to be good but not great.  He definitely makes the attempt to give everyone a unique voice and does his best to “act” out the emotions.  However, there are times when his narration is rather sing-song and while I appreciate his attempts, he doesn’t always give a good match in terms of tone or tenor to the emotions that he is reading.

Those are definitely “icing of the cake” type issues and the main body of his narration is good and solid and easily a perfectly fine way to enjoy this story.

Overall 3.75 of 5 stars


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

Coming Soon! Game Changer by Rachel Reid


October 22!

Good Reads Link

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/38620127-game-changer?from_search=true

Blurb
This hockey superstar needs to focus on his game — not on love.

Scott Hunter is the superstar captain of the New York Admirals hockey team. He has lived his entire adult life in the spotlight—and in the closet. One day he stops at a smoothie shop after a run and is immediately charmed by the cute guy behind the counter.

That guy is Kip Grady, an underemployed college grad who would never in a million years think he had a shot with the rich and famous Scott Hunter. Scott returns to the smoothie shop every game day, telling Kip—and himself—that he likes to stick to routine when he’s playing well. The chemistry between them is immediate and undeniable, and finally Scott tells Kip he’s interested and invites him to his penthouse.

They begin a passionate relationship full of red-hot sex and sweet romance. But after weeks of barely leaving the confines of Scott’s penthouse, Kip isn’t sure how much longer he can be Scott’s secret. With the pressures of the playoffs upon him, Scott needs to decide how big a risk he’s willing to take for Kip—and himself.

Review

Scott Hunter is so far in the closet he can hardly see daylight. Having lived his whole adult life playing professional hockey, a game not known for its gay friendly attitude on the ice, he feels he must hide this large part of himself. His sexual encounters are few and far between and usually in a foreign country where nobody knows him.
That all changes one day when he goes into a smoothie shop and sees the cute guy behind the counter.

Kip Grady is a college graduate still living in his childhood home because he can’t afford to move out, and working in a smoothie shop, a job he hates, until Scott Hunter, the captain of the New York Admirals comes in one day…

This is a cute romantic tale of two men and their instant attraction for each other.
Both Scott and Kip are likeable enough, but they just didn’t seem to ring quite true for me. The “I love you’s” came far too quickly and once I love you had been said (and said often) the taking each other for granted and walking away just seemed too easy. Nobody was putting any major effort into keeping this relationship alive and when things got a little tough, they quickly walked away.

There is also a lot of sex in this book. A lot of sex. So much so that at times it felt like word padding.

But overall, this was a well written enjoyable tale, with no major angst and a very sweet, big romantic finish.

3.5 stars of 5

Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

 

Recent Release: 11 Seconds by John Charles

 

Blurb : In a world dominated by greed and political loyalties, the line between right and wrong is often completely blurred.

He wanted more than revenge. His was a vendetta, a vendetta that he was capable of carrying out. Tenodod was a cyber hacker who knew how to use the skills he developed while working for one of the most powerful systems developers in the world. Only now, he was using those talents to bring down Bertram Lynnworth, Chairman and CEO of ESTG, and would continue until his vendetta was fulfilled, no matter who got hurt in the process.

Mystery, romance, and intrigue in a suspense filled thriller that will leave you asking how to protect yourself and your family.

We Own You appeared on every monitor in every ESTG facility around the world. There Is No Escape voiced the laughing clown as Tenodod took over every system within the company.

Hackers can steal your identity, control your car, access your secret files. What if one had a grip on your beating heart? What if it only took 11 seconds?

Tenodod would make Bertram crawl for what he did to all those innocent people. Unfortunately, Marc Lynnworth, Bertram’s unsuspecting son, and hundreds of others, would become pawns in Tenodod’s evil plot. “I never wanted anyone to die; I only wanted your father to see the error of his ways.”

Review
I’ve not read anything by John Charles before and I’m always up for something new. I was surprised that at the beginning the author offers a free book which is I think a prequel to the series. Unfortunately I didn’t have time to read it before this book so I’m not sure how much information it gives. This is a well paced story which kept my interest. It’s set around cyber terrorism. An anonymous foe is creating havoc every 11 days. All the alphabet organisations are hunting him. one. Of the main characters, Marc, is a Robin Hood type hacker working with the authorities to bring him down. He is in college and deeply in love with Kylar. Asher is assigned to protect Marc. Another main Character is the NSA agent leading the investigation. She is a good strong female lead. I liked the way all the characters actions are believable, in that the pressures of being in the middle of in effectively being held to ransom by someone who has the ability to wreak havoc over the whole country, through controlling the network, would do. I was also surprised by how vilified Bertram was. He seemed more like someone in over his head and trapped working with the CIA rather than a deliberately crewel father or boss. But he is not given a chance of redemption at the end of the book.
Here’s the part that surprised me. Asher Redman was a background character. I’m so used to the characters series are named after taking centre stage that I kept waiting for it to happen but it didn’t. The story isn’t even from his POV. It’s from either Julie’s or Marc’s. Here I’m torn. I liked the story and the pace. It all takes place over about 6 weeks, from 11th November to just after Christmas. But something didn’t click for me and I was quite disappointed because from the blurb it sounded like my kind of book. Don’t let that put you off because n the whole it is an engaging story of young love and family in a very trying time.

3 of stars out of 5


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

 

 

Book Link

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07FZPKGSW

Release Day Review: Wight Mischief by JL Merrow

release day review

Dreamspinner Presents
https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/wight-mischief-by-jl-merrow-9635-

Blurb

A ghost of a chance at love.
Personal trainer Will Golding has been looking forward to a getaway with his best friend, Baz, a journalist researching a book on ghosts. But on the first day of their camping trip on the Isle of Wight, Will takes a walk on a secluded beach and spies a beautiful young man skinny-dipping by moonlight. Ethereally pale, he’s too perfect to be real—or is he?

Lonely author Marcus Devereux is just as entranced by the tall athlete he encounters on the beach, but he’s spent the years since his parents’ violent death building a wall around his heart, and the thought of letting Will scale it is terrifying. Marcus’s albinism gives him his otherworldly appearance and leaves him reluctant to go out in daylight, his reclusiveness encouraged by his guardian—who warns him to stay away from Will and Baz.

The attraction between Will and Marcus can’t be denied—but neither can the danger of the secrets haunting Marcus’s past, as one “accident” after another strikes Will and Baz. If they don’t watch their step, they could end up added to the island’s ghostly population.

Review
This book is a mystery with a gentle romance wrapped up within it. Whilst his best friend Baz is researching his book on ghosts Will meets enigmatic Marcus, a reclusive writer. Will doesn’t know that Baz has another story he’s investigating involving Marcus and his family. Both sides of the investigation dove tail together taking Will and Baz all over the Island. I loved the descriptions of places and attractions on the island, they evoke a wonderful atmosphere when reading those parts of the story. The beautiful coastline with rugged cliffs and sandy beaches, tales of the ghosts of smugglers and soldiers, pubs in historic settings. Makes me want to go there right now. The romance is full of English reserve, Will and Marcus don’t properly get together until towards the end but it was totally fitting with their characters and what was going on around them. The mystery side kept me entertained, the bad guy was obvious from the outset and it ws good seeing the characters playing catch-up. At times Baz provides the comic element, he’s a very self centred character and in that regard I didn’t like him. But you can see the depth of friendship between them. Overall I felt this was a very enjoyable story.

4 of stars out of 5


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

 

Retro Read: Blindsided By You: A Gay For You Sports Romance by Cameron Riley

Good Reads Link
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/31549350-blindsided-by-you?from_search=true

Blurb

 Could their forbidden romance be everything they never knew they wanted?
Seth is a college senior and star quarterback. Unlike his best friend Marc, he doesn’t love being a football hero — but since his coach is also his father, he feels trapped. When he meets Marc’s younger brother Aaron, Seth is surprised at the instant attraction between them, since he’s always considered himself straight.

Aaron knows he’s gay — his favorite pastime is reading M/M romance novels. It’s almost as if Seth stepped right from the pages of one of Aaron’s books and straight into his fantasies. Aaron is more than ready to make them real … if Seth will make a move.
But Marc doesn’t want his brother’s sexuality making headlines — for Aaron’s protection, yes, but also for the sake of Marc’s future career. Can Seth and Aaron keep their relationship a secret? If they’re discovered, can they survive the fallout?

Review:
The premise of the story had promise, but the execution and editing errors detracted from my enjoyment.
The beginning started off well: Seth plays college football and Aaron is the non- sporty type; complete opposites. Seth realises that he is not entirely happy with his life – he wants more. It dawns on him that he may not be entirely straight and admits to himself that he doesn’t really like football.
The MCs meet at a frat party and interest is kindled. However, from here, the storyline does not flow well. For some reason, Seth takes on the responsibility of paying for damages from the frat party, but what about his frat brothers? It was never clear that Seth orchestrated the party by himself. Another thing that didn’t work – Set takes a job at a gay club (to pay for the damages) and on his first day is able to find time to dance with Aaron? (he said it was his break, but it was last call for closing).
There were other inexplicable instances, but the last straw was that at the end of the book, despite Seth not wanting to play football, he goes in for the NFL draft and is happy to be selected!
The plot and editing issues made this a disappointing read.

2.5 stars out of 5

Copy purchased for review

 

Time to go Dark: Little (Trenton Security #2) by J.M. Dabney

Good reads Link
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/39928008-little?from_search=true

Blurb

Insanity was in the eye of the beholder.

Harmon Little was a surveillance expert. He lived in the shadows, and he liked it there. There wasn’t a place he couldn’t get in and out of without detection. As usual with his mischievous nature, his current assignment went south, and he ran. He thought he was free and clear until he knocked someone over in a grocery store aisle.

Sanity wasn’t all it was cracked up to be.

Solomon “Solo” Poe was counting calories. Working out until he fell into bed hungry and exhausted. He was plain and pudgy, plus he couldn’t remember when he’d last gone on a date. He wanted more than the occasional, lights out, one-night stand. So, he was going to lose the weight and find himself a man. At least that was the plan, then a big man with a huge smile tried to kill him in a store aisle. There was one thing he was sure of, Harmon was his.

Review

 

Review

While I love Dabney’s series’ in general – I didn’t find anything new or gripping here. Twirled world was so captivating because it was unique. Though I love seeing all the crazy and the insta love and the slightly dumpy guy finding a hot lover – nothing in this gripped me as hard as some of the author’s previous works.

Little was fun but I didn’t see the connection between him and Poe and though I supported their unique take on courtship it didn’t always make sense.

I enjoyed it and will certainly still keep buying in this series – but so far in the Trenton series I’d call it two strikes…

 

3 of 5 stars

(Huge props to the new covers – GORGEOUS!)

Morgan - Signature-small

Copy Purchased for Review

Release Day Review: Bad to the Bone by Nicki Bennett

release day review

Dreamspinner
https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/bad-to-the-bone-by-nicki-bennett-9442-b

Blurb

A second chance at first love—if he has the courage to take it.
Alex can’t think of himself as anything but a failure. In high school, he was on the fast track to a career in pro football when he forged an unlikely friendship with a half-Comanche boy from the wrong part of town, Ricky Lee Jennings. Their shared love of books could have grown into more—but a homophobic teammate attacked Ricky Lee, and Alex wouldn’t risk his scholarship to defend him. Ricky Lee was kicked out of school, and Alex never heard from him again.
Now Alex’s glory days are nothing but a memory. An injury ended his football aspirations, his marriage fell apart, and his dreams of making a difference as an environmental lobbyist are as dead as his fantasies of sports stardom.
But all that could change in one magical night, when Ricky Lee shows up at their high-school reunion.

Review

While I don’t usually like “second chance” books, I really enjoyed this one.

This was very heart-felt, with a real-ish type setting but enough “fantasy” elements to make it feel a bit like Cinderella.

I loved the added touches of making Ricky Native American, as well as rich. The “bad guys” were super bad and I definitely felt like I was reading an old timey romance – with a gay twist!

I thought Alex and Ricky Lee had great chemistry and their story was mostly sweet and little hot. I loved Sam – especially the end scene!

Overall this was exactly what you’d expect for the genre, well-written and a quick sweet read.

3.75 of 5 stars

Morgan - Signature-small
Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review