4.5 Stars

Cherry Pie (Mercury Rising, #1) by Samantha Kane Review

      Cherry Pie (Mercury Rising Book 1) by Samantha Kane 4.5 Stars!!

You can go home again—if you can get a foot in the door.

A year after packing and moving from L.A. to Mercury, North Carolina, John Ford still hasn’t adjusted to the heat. Or to life without his long-time partner. As he fixes up the old house he bought, the quiet becomes his only companion, and he’s content with that—until a deep-voiced stranger plants himself under a tree across the street.

Eight years ago, Connor Meecham left someone behind in that house—himself. Now he’s back to find the man he used to be, before drugs and prison sent his life careening off the tracks. But it’s not his mother’s face peering through the window any more. It’s a man who seems as lost as Conn himself.

When John learns what the house—and the dying town—mean to Conn, he finds himself opening the door to his heart. Just a crack. But it’s enough to get mixed up in a world of emotions as complicated as the recipe for the perfect cherry pie. Where one misstep can turn something sweet and juicy into one hot mess.

Review

Given the iffy title, I wasn’t expecting a great deal out of this book and was really pleasantly surprised.

I knew the love story would hot because Samantha Kane is an excellent erotic writer who uses sexy times to deepen the connection between characters. And the book has that loveliness for sure but this romance is also emotionial rich and sexy.

Many themes are at play here but the one I think is exceptionally well down is returning to your Hometown. Connor as been in recovery for two years and out of prison for more than a year. He decides to go home (its been the the better part of a decade) to reclaim the parts of himself, heal others, and build himself anew. He has to deal with the fact that someone has bought his family home, his mom has passed while he was serving time for possession and selling sex (though the charge was changed to vagrancy), reckon with how the town has changed, pick up old connection, forge new ones and find work. He left town as a golden football star in a small Southern town. He returns as a much better man in recovery, mindful, out about his sexuality and his past.

John is new to town and healing from the grief of losing his partner.

Class, age , and power difference play out in this romance is a powerful and healing way. They are emotionial equals and the joy of this book is in watching John and Connor fall in love and become partners.

The small town stuff is great and there are some wonderful secondary characters.

The writing is superb. Emotionially compelling, realistic (with the fantasy of less homophobia than there might be and John being really rich), and sexy.

Can’t wait for the next in the series.

Coach’s Challenge (Scoring Chances Book 5) by Avon Gale 4.5 Star Review!

   Coach’s Challenge (Scoring Chances Book 5)  by Avon Gale  4.5 Stars!

It’s been decades since blackmail forced Troy Callahan to retire from playing professional hockey, and he’s built a successful career behind the bench. When he’s offered the opportunity to coach the Asheville Ravens—the most hated team in the ECHL—he’s convinced that his no-nonsense attitude is just what the team needs to put their focus back on hockey. But Troy is disheartened when he finds that the Ravens have signed Shane North, a player known for his aggression. And it only gets worse when Shane’s rough good looks give Troy inappropriate thoughts about a member of his team, even if Shane’s set to retire at the end of the season.

Shane’s career in the majors never quite took off. Wanting to quit on his own terms, Shane agrees to a one-year contract with the Ravens and finds himself playing for a coach who thinks he’s an aging goon and with a team that doesn’t trust him, the coach, or each other. Despite his determination to not get involved, Shane unwillingly becomes part of the team… and is just as unwillingly drawn to the gruff out-and-proud coach. As the Ravens struggle to build a new identity, Shane and Troy succumb to the passion that might cost them everything.

Review

This is a charming romance where likes attract and the likes are sarcastic, competitive, gruff, grumpy, witty, loving, argumentative, stubborn hockey heroes with explosive chemistry.

We have two grown up men who fall in love and lust with each other and a great sports story about turning around an awful team and taking homophobia and sexism on.

There is never a lack of communication or trust as Shane and Troy move from lust to love.

They are wonderful for each other and all kinds of little details make this romance a charmer and light hearted.

This is one of the best consistently great series I have read in a long time.

The wider circle of people we are already know gets just enough screen time and we get some wonderful new cast members.

I love River and Ben and I have been hunting around to see if they already have their own romance because I need to read it now! Matty is due a love story and Alani better get her some. I suggest a female hockey player that joins one of the teams, please.

So good!

 

 

A New Man by P.D. Singer 4.5 Star Review!

Review:

A New Man - P.D. Singer

Senior year of college is for studying, partying, and having fun before getting serious about life. Instead, Chad’s days are filled with headaches and exhaustion, and his fencing skills are getting worse with practice, not better. Then there’s his nonexistent love life, full of girls he’s shunted to the friend zone. Is he asexual? Gay?

Grad student Warren Douglas could be out clubbing, but his roommate is better company, even without kisses. He’s torn up watching Chad suffer, gobbling ibuprofen and coming home early on Friday nights. If Chad weren’t straight, Warren would keep him up past midnight. They’re great as friends. Benefits might answer Chad’s questions.

A brief encounter with lab rats reveals Chad’s illness—he needs surgery, STAT, and can’t rely on his dysfunctional parents for medical decisions. Warren’s both trustworthy and likely to get overruled—unless they’re married. “You can throw me back later,” Warren says, and he may throw himself back after his husband turns out moody and hard to get along with, no matter how much fun his new sex drive is. Surgery turns Chad into a new man, all right…

…but Warren fell in love with the old one.

 

Review

 Phew. This is a great book with a wonderful premise which I don’t want to spoil.

 

A grand  friends to lovers and marriage of con but between lovers tropes.

 

Then, there is fencing, science, Colorado, body image, sexuality, and masculinity layered into a compelling romance between two super smart and kind heroes.

 

Really great!

Original post:
northamericanwordcat.booklikes.com/post/1612308/a-new-man-by-p-d-singer-4-5-star-review

Daily Grind (Takeover, #4) by Anna Zabo 4.5 Star Review!

Review:

Daily Grind (Takeover) - Anna Zabo

Brian Keppler, owner of Ground N’At, the coffee shop beneath SR Anderson Consulting, doesn’t have time for a relationship. His most recent girlfriend broke up with him because he’d become married to his shop, which is falling apart without his favorite barista, Justin.

As he struggles to stay afloat, the arrival of handsome British high-tech whiz Robert Ancroft becomes another complication. Rob quickly becomes a fixture at the shop with his sharp wit and easy charm, and Brian soon finds himself looking forward more and more to Rob’s visits—to the point where his heart skips a beat when he walks in.  

But will Brian be able to come to terms with his previously unexplored sexual identity and find happiness now that he has a chance?

 

Review

Wow. Runs around clapping! I found a great gifted new to me writer. 

Ana Zabo creates nuanced grown characters who I adore watching fall in love and then work to have a loving relationship. 

I have so many favorite things about this book. It gets all the details just so, This is a full world with lively and complex heroes.

We get a romance that deals with what it means to grown up working class and with addicted parents and be successful, what it means to be bisexual in your late 30’s through this era cultural change, small business ownership, coffee and third spaces, being a workaholic…

Brian is a workaholic. and Rob is workaholic. in recovery but with more resources than Brian. This is the core conflict in the book. Brian can be very annoying but it the true to life kind of frustration that you feel with people you love that have an addiction or point of view problem.

The love story is lush and comforting and sexy. Rob and Brian get a great deal of couple time as well well as time to make their own arcs. All the characters in this book matter and nothing is simplified. The setting is great. 

So well written! I ordered all the rest of the books in the series and can’t wait for more. A great love story. 

Original post:
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At Attention (Out of Uniform, #2) by Annabeth Albert Review

     At Attention (Out of Uniform) by by Annabeth Albert 4.5 Stars! 

Lieutenant Apollo Floros can ace tactical training missions, but being a single dad to his twin daughters is more than he can handle. He needs live-in help, and he’s lucky a friend’s younger brother needs a place to stay. He’s surprised to see Dylan all grown up with a college degree…and a college athlete’s body. Apollo’s widowed heart may still be broken, but Dylan has his blood heating up.

It’s been eight years since the teenage Dylan followed Apollo around like a lovesick puppy, and it’s time he showed Lieutenant Hard-to-Please that he’s all man now—an adult who’s fully capable of choosing responsibility over lust. He can handle Apollo’s muscular sex appeal, but Apollo the caring father? Dylan can’t afford to fall for that guy. He’s determined to hold out for someone who’s able to love him back, not someone who only sees him as a kid brother.

Apollo is shocked by the intensity of his attraction to Dylan. Maybe some no-strings summer fun will bring this former SEAL back to life. But the combination of scorching desire and warm affection is more than he’d expected, and the emotion between them scares him senseless. No fling lasts forever, and Apollo will need to decide what’s more important if he wants to keep Dylan in his life—his past or his future.

 

Review

I love this book because I adore these heroes and watching them fall in love is a joy.

There is a bonus for me as this book is set in San Diego, where I live, and Albert does a wonderful job placing little Easter Eggs for those of this that love this city.

Each hero has his own journey and I really like how they find equity and respect despite the age difference and very different outlooks and experiences.

Just one of the pleasures of this book is watching a crush turn into real love.

We get a great cast of characters and a very moving and sexy romance.

Connection Error (#gaymers #3) by Annabeth Albert Review

 Connection Error by Annabeth Albert 4.5 Stars! 

It’s typical of video game programmer Josiah Simmons to be the last one on the plane on the way to the biggest meeting of his career. Though he’s (mostly) coping with his ADHD, he can’t handle another distraction. But he also can’t ignore his rugged seatmate—especially once he learns the military man’s a fan of his game.

Ryan Orson refuses to let his severe injuries pause his career as a navy SEAL. He’s got hours of grueling physical therapy ahead of him, and no time for anything that might get in the way of his return to active duty. But that doesn’t mean he’s above a little first-class flirtation with geeky-cute Josiah.

When a delay strands the pair in St. Louis, they agree to share a hotel room and a night of gaming. Neither expects their new connection to move to the next level in the light of day. Opposites may attract, but is this game over before it’s even begun?

 

Review

This is a great romance. It is realistic and romantic. Ryan is adjusting to life without legs and relationship that ended some time ago but not well. Jos is much younger, has ADHD and is adjusting to the demands of a leadership position in his job as a game designer.

They meet on a plane. Jos has no filter and crushes hard on Ryan. Things work certain ways and they develop a strong friendship and more online and off as Ryan is doing rehab at Walter Reed and Jos is on the West Coast.

They each have rich lives of friends and family.

They grown into a wonderful relationship with each other and become their better selves. There is no miracle for either hero’s disability but rather adjustments and integration. Sigh. Good stuff.

Albert does a grand job as a storyteller and you will believe in this sexy happily even after.

Such a great read! Would have loved more in the epilogue but we get to see them in the series and spin off series so all is well.

Tell Me It’s Real (At First Sight, #1) by T.J. Klune Review

   Tell Me It’s Real  by T.J. Klune 4.5 Stars! 

Do you believe in love at first sight?

Paul Auster doesn’t. Paul doesn’t believe in much at all. He’s thirty, slightly overweight, and his best features are his acerbic wit and the color commentary he provides as life passes him by. His closest friends are a two-legged dog named Wheels and a quasibipolar drag queen named Helena Handbasket. He works a dead-end job in a soul-sucking cubicle, and if his grandmother’s homophobic parrot insults him one more time, Paul is going to wring its stupid neck.

Enter Vince Taylor.

Vince is everything Paul isn’t: sexy, confident, and dumber than the proverbial box of rocks. And for some reason, Vince pursues Paul relentlessly. Vince must be messing with him, because there is no way Vince could want someone like Paul.

But when Paul hits Vince with his car—in a completely unintentional if-he-died-it’d-only-be-manslaughter kind of way—he’s forced to see Vince in a whole new light. The only thing stopping Paul from believing in Vince is himself—and that is one obstacle Paul can’t quite seem to overcome. But when tragedy strikes Vince’s family, Paul must put aside any notions he has about himself and stand next to the man who thinks he’s perfect the way he is.


Review

TJ Klune is taking all my money but its okay. I will have his books to reread when I don’t have any food,

This is a funny treasure of a book that I will reread again and again. So, even though I wish the price was a little lower, it is a great investment.

I love me a plain and chubby hero. Seriously. I do and they are so hard to find. I also love when a world is a known one so for romances with gay characters I prefer the leads to already be out.

This book is silly in the best way. It is a romp and very self aware with the best jokes, situations, and dialogue.

I read passages out loud to my husband and giggled and so did he.

The setting and the secondary characters are amazing. Kooky and zany everywhere and yet real.

Paul is wonderful. Vince is wonderful.

There is a tender exploration of imperfections. I love that neither intellectual or body perfection trump the quality of character in this book. So good!

It is a slow burn that is sexy as hell.

Bye! I am off to buy more Klune books!

Pull Me Under by Zarah Detand Review

   Pull Me Under by Zarah Detand   4.5 Stars!!

 As the first British footballer to come out at the prime of his career, it helps that Ben Jimmer is in a long-term, committed relationship with university student Henry Brown. Even if that relationship is fake.

Or: A cheerfully clichéd tale of romance, tattoos, football, and friendship (both with and without benefits). Also, tea. And stupidly complicated feelings, of course. Let’s not forget about those.


Review

 Oh, this is so good.

This love story is a great sports romance with a wonderful pretend relationship theme played with a twist of two heroes.

The soccer scene are great as are the plot points about dealing with coming out when you are a famous athlete.

The leads are pretty young so this has a bit of New Adult feel to it but in a good way.

I like both heroes a great deal though the lack of communication is what knocks off half a star.

The romance is a nice slow burn where friends fall in love.

Great read!

How To Be A Normal Person by T.J. Klune Review

  How to Be a Normal Person by T.J. Klune 4.5 Stars!!!

Gustavo Tiberius is not normal. He knows this. Everyone in his small town of Abby, Oregon, knows this. He reads encyclopedias every night before bed. He has a pet ferret called Harry S. Truman. He owns a video rental store that no one goes to. His closest friends are a lady named Lottie with drag queen hair and a trio of elderly Vespa riders known as the We Three Queens.

Gus is not normal. And he’s fine with that. All he wants is to be left alone.

Until Casey, an asexual stoner hipster and the newest employee at Lottie’s Lattes, enters his life. For some reason, Casey thinks Gus is the greatest thing ever. And maybe Gus is starting to think the same thing about Casey, even if Casey is obsessive about Instagramming his food.

But Gus isn’t normal and Casey deserves someone who can be. Suddenly wanting to be that someone, Gus steps out of his comfort zone and plans to become the most normal person ever.

After all, what could possibly go wrong?

 

Review

 So, it looks like TJ Klune will just be getting all my money. I love discovering a new to me writer that is this good. My bank account has other feelings.

The comic pacing and imagination of this book amazes. There is such much fun and detail.

If you don’t like quirky characters, don’t read this. Every character in the book is quirky turned to 11 even the albino ferret. I delight in zane and oddball and here me roar so I was clapping with glee but they are all very strange, bright, and complexly human. Love me an old lady Vespa gang.

But under all the silly, quirk, and randomness is a very tender love story about friendship, grieving a partner, and being odd and human.

The fact that one of our heroes is asexual is thoughtfully explored and the other hero’s relationship with his beloved father is everything.

I did wish for just a bit more in terms of getting an epilogue or just more HEA but really this is the most endearing book and I can’t wait to reread it.

Waiting for the Flood (Spires Universe) by Alexis Hall Review

     Waiting for the Flood by Alexis Hall 4.5 Stars!!

People come as well as go.

Twelve years ago, Edwin Tully came to Oxford and fell in love with a boy named Marius. He was brilliant. An artist. It was going to be forever.

Two years ago, it ended.

Now Edwin lives alone in the house they used to share. He tends to damaged books and faded memories, trying to build a future from the fragments of the past.

Then the weather turns, and the river spills into Edwin’s quiet world, bringing with it Adam Dacre from the Environment Agency. An unlikely knight, this stranger with roughened hands and worn wellingtons, but he offers Edwin the hope of something he thought he would never have again.

As the two men grow closer in their struggle against the rising waters, Edwin learns he can’t protect himself from everything — and sometimes he doesn’t need to try.

 

Review

 Gah. This is novella is so good!

All the nerdy engineering stuff mixed in with book restorations and the the perfect etching of the setting.

The lyrical writing mixes in with exquisitely drawn characters. Gah. Just the best!

The shy, heartbroken caretaker of rare journal and everyday paper objects and the ginger civil engineer.

Such lovely flirting.

I wished for a longer timeline of the romance and more of an epilogue but really this is an amazing love story housed in the most lovely of writing.