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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

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


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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

Categories
adult - 18+

How to Make the Perfect Man by Catherine Curzon, Eleanor Harkstead

Good Reads

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/55290261-how-to-make-the-perfect-man

Blurb

PART OF THE SOME LIKE IT HAUNTED COLLECTION

Love isn’t science. It’s alchemy.

Needing a date for the hottest Hallowe’en party in town, scientist Aubrey Waldegrave sets to work creating his perfect man. Unfortunately, the Adonis who emerges from his laboratory is a free spirit who has no time for Aubrey’s brogues and tweeds.

Alchemist Trismegistus Nimlet can turn anything into gold, but when his apocathery’s alligator starts talking back and his werewolf allergy leaves him sneezing, it looks like Halloween might be a washout. Worse still, is Tris really about to lose the chap he secretly loves to a manmade surfer dude who’s more flash than Frankenstein?

With werewolves leaving fur in the ornamental fountains and a banshee making enough noise to wake the dead, Aubrey’s Halloween is going from bad to worse. All he wanted was to make his perfect man, but what if he was right there all along?

Review
This was a delightful story. It starts out a bit like Frankenstein, Aubrey creates “Adam”, a perfect man to be his date for the annual Halloween party. Things don’t go the way he plans. His perfect man ends up being a surfer boy who had an aversion to clothes and who wants to be called Kai. They are joined by Tris, Aubrey’s long-term friend, and the man Aubrey really pines for. The great mixture of characters and creatures really make this story. There are werewolves, banshee’s, sequin wearing frogs and a reanimated talking stuffed alligator. This is a very short story but so worth the read!

4 stars


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

 

Categories
adult - 18+

Paint by Number by Andrew Grey

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/paint-by-number-by-andrew-grey-11718-b

Blurb

When New York painter Devon Starr gives up his vices, his muses depart along with them. Devon needs a change, but when his father’s stroke brings him home to Alaska, the small town where he grew up isn’t what he remembers. Enrique Salazar remembers Devon well, and he makes it his personal mission to open Devon’s eyes to the rugged beauty and possibilities all around them. The two men grow closer, and just as Devon begins to see what’s always been there for him, they’re called to stand against a mining company that threatens the very pristine nature that’s helping them fall in love. The fight only strengthens their bond, but as the desire to pick up a paintbrush returns, Devon also feels the pull of the city. A man trapped between two worlds, Devon can only follow where his heart leads him.

Review
Paint by Number was another great story by Andrew Grey. This story, like most of Andrew’s books is sweet and full of feelings. I really enjoyed the two main characters, Devon and Enrique. I like that these two have a long history between them. Friends to Lovers is one of my comfort tropes. I thought that I might have a hard time with this book since Devon is a recovering alcoholic and that subject tends to be a touchy one for me, but Andrew handled the subject well. I also like the fact this this story took places in Alaska. Unlike the last few books I read from Andrew, this one really sucked me in. It’s written very well (not surprising), has compelling characters and beautifully described settings.
If you’ve never read a book from Andrew Grey and even if you have, I highly recommend this one.

5 stars


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

 

Categories
adult - 18+

Where Love Grows by Jay Northcote Narrated by Hamish Long

audiobookreview

https://www.audible.com/pd/Where-Love-Grows-Audiobook/B08FNHCYYJ?qid=1598094909&sr=1-1&ref=a_search_c3_lProduct_1_1&pf_rd_p=e81b7c27-6880-467a-b5a7-13cef5d729fe&pf_rd_r=QJM4STCKDHFSPQ5A34ZW

Blurb
When two broken men look to each other for help, an unexpected romance blooms.
Stephen’s home, deep in the heart of the Welsh valleys, suits his reclusive nature. However, as he recovers from illness, he’s struggling to manage alone. As nature reclaims the land he’s poured his heart into cultivating, he becomes increasingly unhappy. His only outlet is his blog, where he documents the decline of the garden that had been his pride and joy.
He was a high-flyer, living and working in London, until addiction sent him into free fall. Now on the road to recovery, he still wants to make some changes, but he’s unsure where to find the purpose and fulfilment he craves.
A mutual acquaintance suggests Luke visits Stephen to help him out for a while, and a seed of hope is planted. From prickly beginnings, shoots of friendship emerge, blossoming into a deeper connection when they act on their mutual attraction.
This was only ever supposed to be a temporary arrangement, and soon Stephen will be able to manage on his own again. But both men need each other in ways they’re afraid to admit. If their love is going to last for more than one season, they’ll need to find the courage to be honest.
Review
Story: I think this might very well be the best book Jay Northcote has written so far. There’s just so much emotion in this story. And the writing… it’s simply incredible. Such a pleasure to listen to, especially the almost poetic, evocative descriptions of nature and some of the MC’s internal musings. A book to be savored and enjoyed, never rushed.
Luke and Stephen get off to a rough start, but I very much enjoyed the slow but sure way their friendship developed. Stephen is a tough nut to crack. His heart, health, pride and self-esteem have suffered countless blows. He’s lost so much: his parents, his health, a job he loved, … and he finds it nearly impossible to believe he can have happiness again. He’s super prickly and antagonistic as a result, but so vulnerable underneath his hard exterior. Luke, on the other hand, is very open about how he feels and tries his hardest to form a connection with Stephen. He’s such a sweetheart and has his own cross to bear, unfortunately. Luke and Stephen both tugged on my heartstrings something fierce.
This book has an almost magical “Secret Garden” feel to it, with a prominent role going to Nature, with all its beauty and promise of growth and resilience. The garden slowly blossoming under Luke’s care wonderfully mirrors the progress both Luke and Stephen make as well.

Narration: Hamish Long is the perfect choice for this audiobook. His honeyed voice and wonderful ability to capture every emotion, however small or subtle, make this into a mesmerizing listen. I love the voices he does for both Stephen and Luke, though Stephen’s slight accent is especially enjoyable to listen to.

 

Number of stars out of 5: 6


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review