adult - 18+

Reining in the Bad Boy (The Men of River Gorge #5) by Jacki James


What kind of loser pretends to have a boyfriend?

Oh, yeah, that’s me, Landon Nichols. I’m the loser. In my defense, I didn’t actually make up a boyfriend. My mom just assumed I had one, and I figured if it made her feel better to think I had someone in my life, then what could it hurt? Nothing, right?

Until she decides I need to bring my pretend boyfriend home for a visit. I don’t want to lie to my mom, but I don’t want to worry her either. I’m flat out of excuses and I have no idea what to do.

Then in walks Miller Monroe. Miller has a reputation as a bad boy, so imagine my surprise when he insists on going with me to see my family. But I’m a horrible liar, and I know I’ll never pull off a fake relationship.

His solution? We’ll date, just as friends, so I won’t be lying. For a guy who is supposed to be terrified of commitment, Miller is awfully committed to making this fake boyfriend thing work, and now I have a whole new problem…

What kind of loser falls for his fake boyfriend?


This was almost to the point where I needed to stop reading.


I thought the idea was good but I never really felt the connection between the two MCs and they just seemed to dance around the “misunderstanding” trope and into the “all about the sex” trope.


It wasn’t for me.

2.5 of 5 stars

adult - 18+ Angst Level Audiobook Contemporary Dreamspinner Enemies to Lovers Fade to black/No Steam Gay Heat Index Hopelessly Crying Hurt/Abuse m/m May/December New Adult Novel 140 pgs + (80K + words) Older MCs Opposites attract second chance at love

Snowman Audiobook by Isabelle Rowan Narrated by Brad Walton

Dreamspinner Presents


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.


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


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Copy Generously Provided by Publisher for Honest Review