Categories
adult - 18+ New Adult

Recent Release: Across the Pond (Arizona Raptors #2) by R.J. Scott , V.L. Locey

Good Reads
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/48637692-across-the-pond?ac=1&from_search=true

Blurb

The greatest journey isn’t from England to the States, it’s the one that two men take on the way to find each other.

Sebastian Brown is on a mission to rescue the Arizona Raptors and a vow he made to a friend in college. Either that or he’s on vacation. He’s not entirely sure that he’s made up his mind yet. Either way, traveling from England, to the arid desert of Arizona isn’t exactly a picnic, particularly with the doubts and worries he takes with him. He’s turned even the worst of companies around, but faced with the challenge of improving the reputation of a hockey team that everyone seems to hate, he knows his work is cut out for him.

Focus is key, but that is easier said than done when Seb is sent into a tailspin by the intriguing Alejandro. Seb’s entire marketing plan hinges on making Alex a poster boy for equality and fair play. But with Alex’s utter dedication to the game, and his dark secretive eyes, the gorgeous Alex is stubborn, opinionated, doesn’t want any part of being the team focus, and worst of all, doesn’t appear to like Seb at all. It takes everything that Seb has to keep his hands off of Alex, but things get out of hand and Seb’s life might never be the same again.

Alejandro Garcia has had to work hard to get where he’s at. Born to Mexican immigrants, his siblings and himself have never had it easy in this new country their parents dreamed of calling home. A native son of Arizona, Alex has always been the odd man out on the ice but he’s not going to let a stupid thing like his heritage get in the way of his dreams. He’s now a Raptor and he plans to put all that training and collegiate hockey experience to good use. Working hard comes naturally to him. It’s something his parents have instilled in him from the time he was a toddler. Being one of a handful of Latino hockey players makes him strive for success with even more determination. His first pro season has had some ups but a lot more downs, but Alex is one stubborn young man and failure is not an option.

As the Raptors struggle to rebuild not only their team but their core values, Alex finds himself drawn to one of the owner’s friends, a tall, lanky Brit with the face of an angel and an accent and attitude that bewitches and befuddles him. Sebastian is everything he thought he would never be attracted to but he can’t push the sexy, older, fun-loving man out of his thoughts. If ever there were a man he would not be able to take home to his parents – not that he can bring a man home since he is deeply closeted – it’s Sebastian, but desire knows no socioeconomic, age, or international borders. The heart wants what the heart wants and Alejandro’s wants Sebastian.

Review

(Contains mild spoilers)

 

 

 

 

I am soooo disappointed in this. I’ve been (mostly) loving this series and the original and I was really anticipating Alex’s story, but this did not deliver.

First, Sebastian is so bland and not fleshed-out, as to be almost non-existant. There is next to no real romance building between him and Alex and what there is goes by waaaayyy to fast to feel good.

Second, Alex is so all over the map, he gave me whiplash.  On one hand I know some of that is his character, but on the other hand he goes from being so deep in the closet to out and proud at his sisters party!  It just didn’t feel right.  I didn’t get the sense that the two really spent quality time together to build a relationship worthy of his spectacular coming out.

 

I think there are just too many plot points so none got well developed.  One that really deserved attention was the age gap and it was really skimmed over – at best.  Then they have to deal with either a long distance relationship or moving permanently?    We also had Alex’s virginity and his religion to contend with. Nope.  We just didn’t get enough of that for me to buy this romance as settled or even well thought out.

 

I’ll give the story a 2.5 stars for the characters and the continuation of other story lines, but their romance in particular did not shine as I’d hoped.

 

2.5 stars


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

Categories
adult - 18+ New Adult

Audiobook: A Forbidden Rumspringa (Gay Amish Romance #1) by Keira Andrews Narrated by John Solo

audiobookreview

Audible

https://www.audible.com/pd/A-Forbidden-Rumspringa-Audiobook/151594395X?qid=1567270521&sr=1-1&pf_rd_p=e81b7c27-6880-467a-b5a7-13cef5d729fe&pf_rd_r=C1ZBX33XBS1DN4T22H8S&ref=a_search_c3_lProduct_1_1

Blurb

When two young Amish men find love, will they risk losing everything?

In a world where every detail of life—down to the width of a hat brim—is dictated by God and the all-powerful rules of the community, two men dare to imagine a different way. At 18, Isaac Byler knows little outside the strict Amish settlement of Zebulon, Minnesota, where there is no rumspringa for exploration beyond the boundaries of their insular world. Isaac knows he’ll have to officially join the church and find a wife before too long, but he yearns for something else—something he can’t name.

Dark tragedy has left carpenter David Lantz alone to support his mother and sisters, and he can’t put off joining the church any longer. But when he takes on Isaac as an apprentice, their attraction grows amid the sweat and sawdust. David shares his sinful secrets, and he and Isaac struggle to reconcile their shocking desires with their commitment to faith, family and community.

Now that they’ve found each other, are they willing to lose it all?

Note: Contains explicit sexual situations and graphic language. This is not an inspirational/Christian romance.

Review

In this version of the Amish faith, electricity and running water are forbidden. Even English isn’t spoken in the home. School stops at the 8th grade and boys become married men at 18. In Zebulon even other versions of the faith are considered too lax and allow too much freedom.
Isaac is 18, and is now considered the oldest son since his brother Aaron left the faith in shame and is now, for all intents and purposes, dead to them. Isaac isn’t much of a farmer, the family business, so his father arranges for him to apprentice with their group’s carpenter, David Lantz.
David’s younger brother also shamed the community when he and 2 other kids got high and crashed their car and died. Now David is responsible for his mother and sisters, but financially speaking things are tough. David meets an “English” (non Amish) neighbor who helps him to sell some of his carpentry for cash to help his family. She also exposes him to things he never would have seen in the community: movies, magazines, MIRRORS, zippers, cars… the list is endless and with each new experience David’s beliefs are challenged more and more. Only his feeling of responsibility to his family remains the same: he can’t leave the community because he can’t leave them.
Isaac had noticed David and vice versa months before. When put in a situation of day to day proximity to one another the spark that started then ignites. It doesn’t take long before the two are engaged in their own version of “rumspringa” or adolescent romantic exploration and it involves lube!
Both men know what they are doing is strictly forbidden and this adds to the excitement. However, there will come a time when they both need to decide what the future holds : more unquestioning belief in a faith that has more questions than answers or doing the unimaginable and leaving behind everything they know to be together.

**
I admit I was not at all attracted to this book when I first saw it. I just don’t like religious themes – having had too many bad experiences. But I kept seeing the good reviews from people I trusted and I thought… well, I’ll give it a shot.
What a pleasant surprise! Yes, the religion plays a heavy, heavy role, but the romance is so beautiful that I didn’t mind the religion. For those of you with an interest in the religion Keira Andrews does an amazingly thorough job of explaining the Amish faith and the differences. I think you can skim those parts and still get the benefit of reading the story if those parts don’t interest you.
Isaac’s naïve view of the world, then his complete faith in love are really touching. I thought it was fascinating that of all the sins he was committing, he stood firm on not looking at himself in the mirror. Like, if he didn’t see himself doing these things, then perhaps he could still hide? David, is more comfortable with the “sin”, he’s more concerned about his family and his feelings of guilt surrounding them.
I found the ending to be actually sort of a surprise in the way things unfolded – it’s very exciting – you’ll enjoy it! And, even better news, this is book one and in book two we get to see more of the characters, that is awesome because … well I can’t tell you, but it will be great to see what happens next.
I had read Keira Andrews before and I found this book to be a step above her other books – it is very well written and the story is very touching and might just make you think, too.

Audio

John Solo seems to fit this story really well.  He does a nice job with the pacing and his tone matched that of the story.  This is a nice way to enjoy the story!

Recommended!

 

4 stars 


Copy Purchased for Review

Categories
adult - 18+

Coming Soon: Covet Thy Neighbor By L.A. Witt


May 3

Dreamspinner

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/covet-thy-neighbor-by-la-witt-10428-b

Blurb

A Tucker Springs Novel

Welcome to Tucker Springs, Colorado, where sparks fly when opposites attract—but are some obstacles too great to overcome?

When tattoo artist Seth Wheeler meets his new neighbor, it’s like a revelation. Darren Romero is everything Seth wants in a man: hot, clever, single, and interested. For a minute he seems perfect. Then Darren drops the bomb: he moved to Tucker Springs to be a pastor at the New Light Church.

As a gay man whose parents threw him out, Seth has a strict policy of keeping believers at arm’s length for self-preservation. But Darren’s perseverance and the chemistry bubbling between them steadily wear down his defenses.

In a small town like Tucker Springs, Seth can’t avoid Darren—or how much he wants him. Which means he needs to decide what’s more important: protecting himself, or his feelings for his neighbor.

Second Edition

First Edition published by Riptide Publishing, March 2013.

Review

Covet Thy Neighbor is the fourth book in the Tucker Springs series. Each book can easily be read as a standalone, but I recommend reading the previous books because previous characters are brought up in this book.

Any book with religious content is hit or miss for me, sometimes they come off too preachy and other times to sacrilegious, but Covet Thy Neighbor walked the line perfectly. I very much enjoyed Darren, who is a youth pastor and his perspective about faith and being gay.

For the most part I also liked Seth. He’s a proclaimed atheist. He walked away from any sort of religion due to his upbringing. However, what kind of irked me about Seth was how much he kept bring religion and how at times he was border line hypocritical. Darren does his best to soothe the snarky Seth and his doubts about whether a relationship between the two could ever work. Overall this was a good story, with lots sizzling moments.

4 Stars


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

Categories
4.5 stars adult - 18+ Audiobook Book Gay GFY/OFY Homophobia Little to no angst m/m Mid level steam/heat Monthly Theme Novel 140 pgs + (80K + words) Purchased Time to Laugh Uncategorized

Time to Laugh: Shiny! Audiobook by Amy Lane Narrated by Tyler Stevens

Dreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/shiny-by-amy-lane-5174-b

Blurb:
Will Lafferty and Kenny Scalia are both having sort of a day. Will gets fired for letting fifth graders read Harry Potter, and Kenny finds his boyfriend and his sex toys in bed with a complete stranger. When Will knocks over Kenny’s trash can—and strews Kenny’s personal business all over the street—it feels like the perfect craptastic climax to the sewage of suckage that has rained down on them both.

But ever-friendly, ever-kind Will asks snarky Kenny out for a beer—God knows they both need one—and two amazing things occur: Kenny discovers talking to Will might be the best form of intercourse ever, and Will discovers he’s gay.

Their unlikely friendship seems like the perfect platonic match until Will reveals how very much more he’s been feeling for Kenny almost since the beginning. But Kenny’s worried. Will’s new-found sexuality is bright and glittery and shiny, but what happens when that wears off? Is Will’s infatuation with Kenny strong enough to stay real?

Review:

You can’t have a month devoted to “funny” and not include Amy Lane.  I find her books to be some of the most consistently “clever” and thus funny and witty.

This is known as Amy Lane “Lite”.  Instead of her very angsty material, this is one of the sweet and happy books she gives us now and then. 

The story is a mix of Will exploring his sexuality and the developing friendship and work relationship Will and Kenny have and then later their coming together as friends turned lovers. There are some doubts – is Will just with Kenny because he’s his first or is it real? Where will Will work? What about Kenny’s being on the rebound? However… For those of us who love a sappy ending – the ending of Shiny will knock your socks off!
The secondary characters in Shiny are also great – Aunt Cara- the lesbian bride, Will’s mom – trapped in the 1960s, Kenny’s ex – the big, dumb cheater and Kenny’s ultra liberal family – trying so hard not to judge Will.

In the audio format Tyler Stevens does a really nice job. He does swishy voices fantastically and I adore his female voices as well.  I think he is a true “performer” rather than “reader” and as such we get a lovely performance to enjoy.  

This is one of those times where the narration adds to the story and makes it even better. I highly recommend this audiobook.

4.5 of 5 stars
4.5-stars-small

Morgan - Signature-small

Purchased for Review

Tags (whatever you can think of to describe the book in basic labels): teacher, GFY, virgin, weddings, comics, religion, cheating exes, friends to lovers

Categories
3.5 stars adult - 18+ Angst Level Book Contemporary Dreamspinner Gay GFY/OFY Heat Index Hidden Lovers Homophobia Hopelessly Crying Hurt/Abuse m/m Morgan Novel 140 pgs + (80K + words) Part of a Series Scorching/high heat

Safe in His Heart (Safe Book 2) by Renae Kaye

release day review

 

Dreamspinner Presents

http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=7684

 

29625071Blurb

 

Andrew and Paul learned about God and Jesus in different churches and realize their views of spirituality are worlds apart.

Andrew was raised Catholic and was told his homosexuality was a sin. For his entire life, he hid the truth. He married and had children to present a façade to the world—that of a straight man. It’s not until he has an affair with Paul, who shows him a different side of Jesus, that Andrew realizes he can be gay and still believe in God. Paul’s Jesus is one of acceptance and love, and in Paul’s church, being gay is not a problem.

For Paul and Andrew, falling in love is the easy part of their journey. They must make it through the fires of cheating, being discovered, Andrew’s wife leaving, the necessities of childcare and family life, the demands of their jobs, and working on their commitment to each other. Only then can they be safe in each other’s heart.

Review

Paul is Lon’s BFF whom we met in Safe in His Arms. We knew something hinky was going on with Paul by the way he was reluctant to share who his new love interest was and then we found out he’s a married man. Oh. Man.

So that gives us an instant set of judgments about both men – right? Cheating makes a lot of us squirm and makes us feel uncomfortable. Casey – Lon’s beau, is up front about it. He tells Paul it’ll all end in misery so he should end it now. In fact, most of the people in Paul’s life give him similar advice. Lon – not so wordy our Lon – tells him to be careful, but doesn’t tell him to stop seeing the guy.

Paul – himself – know it’s a bad idea, but he just can’t stop himself. Andrew – the cheating husband – is just so needy and hits Paul’s buttons just right.

Andrew – for his part – is a confused soul. He wants to please his family, is worried about his soul, and his job but most importantly he worries about his kids. He loves gay sex but he doesn’t love being gay. He’s had a crush on Paul for months before Paul finally caves in to an affair. Once they begin they soon realize this is more than a hook-up, but what can ever happen between them?

So –I don’t think this is a spoiler when I tell you up front – Andrew’s marriage is a sham. He and his wife are really just friends and roommates – it’s all explained in the first few chapters – but even given that information – the idea of them getting a divorce and Andrew being out and proud is a still a pretty dim prospect.

Of course, as the story moves on, things change – but for most of the first-half of the story, Andrew is stuck between a rock and a hard place – warring between what he wants and what he wants to want.

**

First let me say that I love and adore Renae Kaye and have loved each and every book she’s written and listened/read them over and over. They’re just that awesome! Safe in His Arms is soooo good and I was really psyched to see this book in the pipeline.

I had my reservations when I saw the blurb – cheating, married, religion… – uh-oh. These are all things I usually avoid like the plague. I won’t lie. They didn’t strike my fancy one bit. But – It’s Renae – it’s gonna be good right?

Well… mostly.

Though it truly pains me to do so – I can’t say that I loved this. I liked it and was definitely pleasantly surprised that I was able to get over the religion/cheating/marriage thing pretty easily. Those weren’t my issues with this story – not really.

What I didn’t love was the relationship itself between Andrew and Paul. God, it felt so lop-sided. Andrew is mostly a jerk through most of the book and doesn’t quite redeem himself by the end.

Paul – for his part – just gives and gives and gives – and – I’m not sure what he got for all his troubles.

The part that was missing for me is the relationship stuff apart from the sex. Sure – I see how compatible these guys are in bed. I can also see how “helping” is something that a nurse like Paul would be really attractive in a relationship. But Andrew – aside from the sex and getting a new “mother” for his kids – doesn’t seem to really like Paul. He doesn’t treat him with respect and the two don’t spend much time together not in bed. So I had some serious doubts about them as a long term couple.  I’m not even sure Andrew would have had to balls to be “gay” if it weren’t for Kristy’s actions – and that being the case – Paul would have had to move on because Andrew was definitely stuck and really showed no impetus toward being honest with himself.

The other thing I couldn’t reconcile was Andrew’s wife, Kristy’s behavior and her treatment of the children.  There just wasn’t enough there to explain how she was acting and why – so I was left confused and a bit frustrated by that.  Andrew seemed to just let her get away with A LOT and it was never clear why.

As for the religion – well – that’s tough.  I don’t share the same beliefs as the author and I respect all paths – so I just chalk it up as to each his own.  But I will warn readers that there are a lot of hot buttons in this book that may make people uncomfortable.  I think she tried to be diplomatic but it’s hard when so much passion is wrapped up in a subject and she doesn’t shy away from some tough topics, so… be warned.

I thought Erica was THE BEST and I loved Paul’s family and the glimpses of Ash and Devon, Case and Lon we see again. (Hope Ash and Devon get their own book next!)

The writing and editing is excellent – no faults there. I just didn’t gel with the couple as well this time.

I applaud Renae for her willingness to tackle both these big subjects in a way that is believable and authentic and I think she achieved those goals. The couple just needed some time to themselves – on page – to convince me they had what it took to make it long term.

3 of 5 stars

3-stars-small

 

Morgan - Signature-small

Copy Generously Provided by Publisher for Honest Review