3.5 Stars

Ruck Me (A Play On series short) by C.D. Brennan Review

    Ruck Me by C.D. Brennan  3.5 Series 

Dependable and hard-working Dave Marsden is the loose-head prop for the Traverse City Blues. A big man with an even bigger heart, Dave doesn’t let the other players’ ribbing bother him about owning the premier flower shop in town. In fact, little in life bothers him…that is until his world collides with Sierra Richards, a teammate’s sister.

Now Dave is questioning everything. Thanks to their fierce physical attraction, his world has gone askew. Could a sexy siren like Sierra really fall in love with a big oaf like him? Sierra challenges Dick’s concept of normal with her slightly criminal attitude. With her computer hacking skills, she constantly pushes the boundaries of the law. And when Sierra’s hacking finally catches up to her, will Dave rescue her from her own misdeeds?

Because there is a right and there is a wrong, right?

Review

Dave is a wonderful hero. He is thoughtful, kind, respectful, appreciative, and sexy. He has a great deal of complexity to him as he loves rugby and loves running his flower business.

It is fun to be in this rugby world again. This love story is on the hotter end of the scale and Brennan is again exploring characters with some pretty serious flaws which I like.

The heroine is kind of Dave’s opposite but for the sexy part. She has reason for being suspicious and rude. I think if I had had a better idea of her age I might have warmed up to her faster.

Here is the thing though the novella and the set up for the romance don’t give her the room she needs to grow up, heal, and become less reactive and more her best self.

Dave loves her because she is hot, fierce, bold, smart, and protective which are all good qualities but she is also co dependent, enabling, angry, and has some issues with selfhood (which all makes total sense).

I want her to evolve and to really see her and David in a relationship with its day to day struggles after the first weeks.

We spend a good amount of time with another character who even though we are suppose to have some empathy for I still find repulsive. lol

I will keep reading in this series but hope great character like Dave get more of a love story than this novella offers.

I was given this book for my honest review. So there you have it!

Play It Safe: A Glasgow Lads Story by Avery Cockburn Review

  Play It Safe by Avery Cockburn  3.5 Stars! 

fter living together for three months, Fergus Taylor and John Burns have come to love each other’s quirks, and the bond between them is starting to look permanent. But when John wants to take things to the next level, Fergus balks, haunted by the betrayals in his own past.

John knows if he’s not careful, he could lose Fergus. If only he weren’t so bad at being careful.

To overcome his fears, Fergus must embark on an epic journey, a journey that will test his faith, his trust, and his ability to keep a cool head in a hot, hot place.

 

Review

I thought I might get annoyed at an extra helping of angst but this short story is a sweet peek back in on John and Fergus and the gang.

Fergus is still working through trust issues and they go somewhere that makes me want to wash with disinfectant (and this is because I have been to places like this in my misspent youth) but this is really a sweet, tender, and funny little follow up.

Playing for Keeps (Glasgow Lads Book 1) by Avery Cockburn Review

    Playing for Keeps by Avery Cockburn 3.5 Stars! 

Fergus Taylor is damaged goods. Reeling from a brutal breakup, he’s determined to captain his LGBT soccer team out of scandal and into a winning season. For that, he needs strict rules and careful plans. He does NOT need a brash, muscle-bound lad messing with his head and setting his body afire.

John Burns has a rule of his own: Don’t get attached. Boyfriends are for guys with nothing to hide. Nobody—not his university mates, not the men he beds—knows his family’s shame. Now his double life is starting to unravel, thanks to a certain Highlander whose storm-riddled eyes turn John inside out, who wears a kilt like he was born in it.

Fergus is the first man John wants to share his secret with—but he’s the last man who could handle it. John knows the truth would shatter Fergus’s still-fragile heart. But how can he live a lie when he’s falling in love?

Review

This is my first book by Avery Cockburn but it won’t be my last.

I love the idea for the series which is an  LGBTQA soccer team in Scotland. The series has a lads title but I hold the lassies get a series as well.

I expected the book to be a bit lighter than it was but the angst here is well down and powerful.

This is an inter faith star crossed lovers romance more than the heartbroken romance that that the blurb conveys.

The love story deals with the tensions between Protestants and Catholics in current Scotland and it also deals with refugees from hate coming to Britain (though not in its leads characters though I hope the series will one day)

I don’t want to give too much away but it is a compelling love story and super hot as well. We get kilts. Grrr.

The love is a bit rushed but the heroes form a deep like as well as lust and secondary characters are great.

Rising Tides: Chesapeake Bay Saga Review

   Rising Tides by Nora Roberts 3.5 Stars! 

Ethan Quinn is a waterman. He wasn’t born to the tradition but has embraced it. He’s a quiet man whose heart runs as deep as the waters he loves. And now, with his father gone, Ethan is determined to make the family boatbuilding business a success. But amidst his achievements lie the most important challenges of his life…

There’s a young boy who needs him, and a woman and child he loves but never believed he could have. To shape his life around them, Ethan must face his own dark past—and accept not only who he is but what he hopes to become.

Review

I am often amazed when I read a Nora Roberts book. The opening of this book is just so lovely in terms of place, feeling, and character. How does she do this so prolifically?

I love that Ethan is a working class hero and so devoted to his family. The loved forever theme is a fun one and Grace is great as well.

Roberts writing shines but I am kept from falling in love with this book because I want to send Ethan to therapy and want what happens at the end of the book to occur in the middle of the book so that we get a love story of acknowledged equals rather than 95% of the story with Ethan doing what he thinks is best instead of evolving.

Finding Your Feet (Toronto Connections Book 2) by Cass Lennox Review

    Finding Your Feet  by Cass Lennox 3.5 Stars! 

While on holiday in Toronto, Evie Whitmore planned to sightsee and meet other asexuals, not audition for a dance competition. Now she’s representing Toronto’s newest queer dance studio, despite never having danced before. Not only does she have to spend hours learning her routine, she has to do it with one of the grumpiest men she’s ever met. Tyler turns out to be more than a dedicated dancer, though — he might be the kind of man who can sweep her off her feet, literally and figuratively.

Tyler Davis has spent the last year recovering from an emotionally abusive relationship. So he doesn’t need to be pushed into a rushed routine for a dumb competition. Ticking major representation boxes for being trans and biracial isn’t why he went into dance. But Evie turns out to be a dream student. In fact, she helps him remember just how good partnering can be, in all senses of the word. Teaching her the routine, however, raises ghosts for him, ones he’s not sure he can handle.

Plans change, and people change with them. Learning a few steps is one thing; learning to trust again is another entirely.

 

Review

This is a sweet romance that has a New Adult feel to it even though the leads are in their mid twenties.

The cast of characters is lovely and the idea of being together for a dance competition is cool.

The hero’s past relationship haunts him a bit and heroine is struggling to become fully herself. They are super cut. I love how they represent a new generation widening the orientation, gender, and sexuality perceptions. The way the writer handles this facets of the hero and heroine as just facets is refreshing.

There is unneeded drama towards the end the cuts into couple time along with lack of communication (which is why this book feeling more New Adult than it actually is) that drags on the romance but overall a good read.

I am excited to read other books in this series.

Blueberry Boys by Vanessa North Review

   Blueberry Boys by Vanessa North 

Connor Graham is a city boy—a celebrated fashion photographer in New York. When his uncle’s death drags him back to the family blueberry farm, all he wants to do is sell it as quickly as he can. Until he meets his uncle’s tenant farmer.

Jed Jones, shy and stammering, devout and dedicated, has always yearned for land of his own and a man to share it with. Kept in the closet by his church, family, and disastrous first love, he longs to be accepted for who he is. But now, with his farm and his future in Connor’s careless hands, he stands to lose even the little he has.

Neither man expects the connection between them. Jed sees Connor—appreciates his art and passion like no one else in this godforsaken town ever has. Connor hears Jed—looks past his stutter to listen to the man inside. The time they share is idyllic, but with the farm sale pending, even their sanctuary is a source of tension. As work, family, and their town’s old-fashioned attitudes pull them apart, they must find a way to reconcile commitments to their careers and to each other.

 

Review

Filled with lovely details of setting and personality as well as the complication of family, this is is sexy sweet romance between a city boy and country boy.

I love that Jed is devout. It is wonderful to see faith woven into this book and how it figures into the plot in critical and intersting ways.

The romance is one you will root for and the happily ever after is believable and hard won.

There are lot of relationships and details that aren’t resolved or provided enough context (for example I can’t tell how old anyone is)  and detail for this book to be as rich as it could be for me but I enjoyed the central love story very much.

Knight of Ocean Avenue (Love in Laguna, #1) by Tara Lain Review

    Knight of Ocean Avenue  by Tara Lain  3.5 Stars! 

How can you be twenty-five and not know you’re gay? Billy Ballew runs from that question. A high school dropout, barely able to read until he taught himself, Billy’s life is driven by his need to help support his parents as a construction worker, put his sisters through college, coach his Little League team, and not think about being a three-time loser in the engagement department. Being terrified of taking tests keeps Billy from getting the contractor’s license he so desires, and fear of his mother’s judgment blinds Billy to what could make him truly happy.

Then, in preparation for his sister’s big wedding, Billy meets Shaz—Chase Phillips—a rising-star celebrity stylist who defines the word gay. To Shaz, Billy embodies everything he’s ever wanted—stalwart, honest, brave—but even if Billy turns out to be gay, he could never endure the censure he’d get for being with a queen like Shaz. How can two men with so little in common find a way to be together? Can the Stylist of the Year end up with the Knight of Ocean Avenue?

 

Review

I liked this book a lot because of the heroes Chase and Billy. Oh, and the cats.

Their love story is a sweet one about falling in love with who you fall in love with despite the picture in your head.

Billy is just a wonderful person. It is very sad that he spent so much time surprising a part of himself from himself. Chase is pretty great too.

There are a lot of side dramas in this book but they are well done. Plus, a cool scripture battle.

There is a element of insta love despite the slower burn.

I wish more had been done with Billy’s dad who is accepting and also I didn’t believe in the mom’s turn around.

Overall, a tender romance.

Blowing Off Steam by Joy Lynn Fielding Review

     Blowing Off Steam  by Joy Lynn Fielding   3.5 Star! 

Sam Chancellor has been in love with the steam engine Old Bess since he was six years old. Well, maybe not literally, but even when he’s lost everything else in his life, he’s always had her. But now her place in his heart has been unexpectedly challenged. Her new driver, Ryan Saunders, is the embodiment of all Sam’s fantasies.

Ryan has written off Sam as just another geeky trainspotter—until the moment Ryan sees him without his usual shapeless hoodie and realizes that, for a nerd, Sam’s pretty built. When Ryan overlooks Sam’s awkwardness long enough to suggest a hook-up, Sam seizes the opportunity—and Ryan—with both very eager hands. Finding common ground in their shared love of Bess, their time together is better than Sam ever dared dream.

But there’s a reason Ryan never talks about his past. And when Ryan’s job is threatened, Sam’s well-meaning intervention endangers more than just their fragile relationship.

 

Review

I should admit right up front, I like the nerdy hero Sam in this book, love trains. I am not a trainspotter like Sam but I like them enough to go to every train museum I see and take long and short train trips whenever I can.

So, this book had me at trains. lol

The old steam train and Sam are wonderful in this book. I love me a nerdy shy hero. Ryan is a lot more selfish and unkind than I think Sam deserves but it he grows.

There is a plot afoot which adds drama to the story but I would have been content with Ryan growing much more in his character and Sam valuing himself more but all in all a fun love story.

Candy Man (Candy Man #1) by Amy Lane Review

   Candy Man (Candy Man #1)  by Amy Lane 3.5 Stars! 

Adam Macias has been thrown a few curve balls in his life, but losing his VA grant because his car broke down and he missed a class was the one that struck him out. One relative away from homelessness, he’s taking the bus to Sacramento, where his cousin has offered a house-sitting job and a new start. He has one goal, and that’s to get his life back on track. Friends, pets, lovers? Need not apply.

Finn Stewart takes one look at Adam as he’s applying to Candy Heaven and decides he’s much too fascinating to leave alone. Finn is bright and shiny—and has never been hurt. Adam is wary of his attention from the very beginning—Finn is dangerous to every sort of peace Adam is forging, and Adam may just be too damaged to let him in at all.

But Finn is tenacious, and Adam’s new boss, Darrin, doesn’t take bullshit for an answer. Adam is going to have to ask himself which is harder—letting Finn in or living without him? With the holidays approaching it seems like an easy question, but Adam knows from experience that life is seldom simple, and the world seldom cooperates with hope, faith, or the plans of cats and men.

Review

I enjoyed this opposites attract romance. Finn is wonderful. The dog is great. Watching Adam find joy is a pleasure. The Candy Man is sill fun.

There are bits and pieces missing here that could add depth to the story but overall is a good read.

Behind the Curtain by Amy Lane Review

  Behind the Curtain by Amy Lane 3.5 Stars! 

Dawson Barnes recognizes his world is very small and very charmed. Running his community college theater like a petty god, he and his best friend, Benji know they’ll succeed as stage techs after graduation. His father adores him, Benji would die for him, and Dawson never doubted the safety net of his family, even when life hit him below the belt.

But nothing prepared him for falling on Jared Emory’s head.

Aloof dance superstar Jared is a sweet, vulnerable man and Dawson’s life suits him like a fitted ballet slipper. They forge a long-distance romance from their love of the theater and the magic of Denny’s. At first it’s perfect: Dawson gets periodic visits and nookie from a gorgeous man who “gets” him—and Jared gets respite from the ultra-competitive world of dancing that almost consumed him.

That is until Jared shows up sick and desperate and Dawson finally sees the distance between them concealed painful things Jared kept inside. If he doesn’t grow up—and fast—his “superstar” might not survive his own weaknesses. That would be a shame, because the real, fragile Jared that Dawson sees behind the curtain is the person he can see spending his life with.

 

Review

I really enjoyed this book. Dawson is a lovely main character. He is so himself and asks for what he wants and needs. His circle of friends is great.

I love the community college setting and the tech side of theater. The issues of virginity and distance relationships are nicely explored here.

Jared is a complex hero and I do wish we had gotten more time in his head. I like him and feel for his pain. The last section books hurts a bit because of the cruelty of others but we come out okay.

We get two secondary romance here. Woo hoo!

A lot more epilogue would enrich. Amber needs her own book, Just saying