5 Stars

All Note Long by Annabeth Albert 5 Star Review!

   All Note Long by Annabeth Albert 5 Stars! 

Michelin Moses is a country music star on the rise. With a hit single under his Texas-sized belt buckle and a sold-out concert tour underway, his childhood dreams of making it big are finally coming true. But there’s one thing missing—a promise to his dying mother that he’d find it—him—when the time was right. With a little luck, he won’t have to wait too long . . .

Lucky Ramirez is a hunky boy toy who dances at The Broom Closet, one of West Hollywood’s hottest gay bars. He loves what he does, and he’s good at it—almost as good as he is at playing dumb when he spots Michelin Moses at the bar. What happens next is off the charts—and keeps Michelin coming back for more. He’s just not sure it’s the right move for his career. But if Lucky gets his way, Michelin will get Lucky—and no matter how the media spins it, neither of them will be faking it . . .

Review

M and Lucky. What is not to like?

They are both wonderful, talented, kind, loyal, sexy as hell heroes.

We get a fun pretend relationship trope that is so well managed by the writer with bringing all the joy of this theme with none of its pitfalls.

The work toward equity in this relationship is a joy to see as is M coming to terms with balancing his personality and being out as a famous person.

I love how Lucky recognizes M’s needs and attends to them and how M comes to be a wonderful partner.

Albert writes this romance layer by lovely layer. We get every sexy, sweet, real and hopeful thing fro this love story.

Far from Home (Belladonna Ink, #1) by Lorelie Brown 5 Star Review!

    Far From Home   by Lorelie Brown 5 Stars!

My name is Rachel. I’m straight . . . I think. I also have a mountain of student loans and a smart mouth. I wasn’t serious when I told Pari Sadashiv I’d marry her. It was only party banter! Except Pari needs a green card, and she’s willing to give me a breather from drowning in debt.

My off-the-cuff idea might not be so terrible. We get along as friends. She’s really romantically cautious, which I find heartbreaking. She deserves someone to laugh with. She’s kind. And calm. And gorgeous. A couple of years with her actually sounds pretty good. If some of Pari’s kindness and calm rubs off on me, that’d be a bonus, because I’m a mess—anorexia is not a pretty word—and my little ways of keeping control of myself, of the world, aren’t working anymore.

And if I slip up, Pari will see my cracks. Then I’ll crack. Which means I gotta get out, quick, before I fall in love with my wife.

Review

Hot Goddess Damn. This was such a great book. One of my best of the year, for sure!

It starts kind of the middle of things and we are pretty deep in Rachel’s head so it is a bit disorienting at first. However, this feeling passes quickly and it is easy to give myself over to the exquisiteness of Brown’s writing and her intricately built character driven romance.

Brown plays with one of my favorite theme’s the marriage of convenience. Pari needs a green card marriage to go into business for herself and Rachel needs help with bills to get out from under her student loan debt.

Pari has more power in many ways but she never ever belittles Rachel. I can’t tell you how hot that is. Well, maybe I can. It is volacnic lava hot. Pari is just plain burning sexy anyway as we see her through Rachel’s eyes but she isn’t perfect and that makes her all the more lovely.

Rachel struggle with an eating disorder in the novel. The love story is a detailing of living and loving in recovery and not always winning. This aspect of the book is powerful.

The romance is everything. I don’t want to give anything away but it is no way “gay for you” which makes me a little nuts as a queer person and as reader. I side eye those books hard even though I sometimes read them.

The cast of characters is great as is the SoCal setting. The inter culture aspects of the romance are well done as is a look at late twenties, early thirties living Being deep in Rachel’s POV, we don’t get as much from Prvi as I might like but I think this POV was the right choice for this story.. The plot is well paced, lush, painful, tender, and with a great realistic closing.

I want to reread it and I am thrilled this is a series and I will get to see this couple in other books as their friends have their own stories. I bought the next book and I read this on Overdrive from the library but I just bought my own copy because I know this will be a comfort reread.

So! Woo hoo! A Five Star Read! Happiness!

Antisocial by Heidi Cullinan 5 Star Review

Review:

Antisocial - Heidi Cullinan

A single stroke can change your world.

Xander Fairchild can’t stand people in general and frat boys in particular, so when he’s forced to spend his summer working on his senior project with Skylar Stone, a silver-tongued Delta Sig with a trust fund who wants to make Xander over into a shiny new image, Xander is determined to resist. He came to idyllic, Japanese culture-soaked Benten college to hide and make manga, not to be transformed into a corporate clone in the eleventh hour. 

Skylar’s life has been laid out for him since before he was born, but all it takes is one look at Xander’s artwork, and the veneer around him begins to crack. Xander himself does plenty of damage too. There’s something about the antisocial artist’s refusal to yield that forces Skylar to acknowledge how much his own orchestrated future is killing him slowly…as is the truth about his gray-spectrum sexuality, which he hasn’t dared to speak aloud, even to himself.

Through a summer of art and friendship, Xander and Skylar learn more about each other, themselves, and their feelings for one another. But as their senior year begins, they must decide if they will part ways and return to the dull futures they had planned, or if they will take a risk and leap into a brightly colored future—together.

 

Review

While I love the romance in this in this book, the discussion of art is so powerful, it often steals the show.

 

This romance is a slow burn and not just because one of the heroes is asexual. The fall in love is really pretty magical as they take down wall after wall for each other.

 

It is also a very well done New Adult with the kinds of conflict that have to do with finding new understanding of your family of origins and becoming your fuller self.

 

The setting is compelling as the circle of friends that builds and the mythology contained in the manga and an exploration of toxic masculinity from all parts of the policatal spectrum that is explored.

 

The writing is lyrical and lovely and while the pace might be too slow for some, it really worked for me.

 

At the heart of this book is the love story which is all about intimacy.

 

So very good!

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Silver Silence by Nalini Singh 5 Star Review!

Silver Silence (Psy-Changeling Trinity) by Nalini Singh 5 Stars! 

Control. Precision. Family. These are the principles that drive Silver Mercant. At a time when the fledgling Trinity Accord seeks to unite a divided world, with Silver playing a crucial role as director of a worldwide emergency response network, wildness and chaos are the last things she needs in her life. But that’s exactly what Valentin Nikolaev, alpha of the StoneWater bears, brings with him.

Valentin has never met a more fascinating woman. Though Silver is ruled by Silence–her mind clear of all emotion–Valentin senses a whisper of fire around her. That’s what keeps him climbing apartment buildings to be near her. But when a shadow assassin almost succeeds in poisoning Silver, the stakes become deadly serious…and Silver finds herself in the heart of a powerful bear clan.

Her would-be assassin has no idea what their poison has unleashed…

Review

This book makes me so happy. Nalini Singh does a wonderful job setting off the new series arc in this long running series making it so those of you crazy people who aren’t already addicted can jump right into this wonderful world.

My love of bear shifters can not be understated and the Bear Clan and hero here are AWESOME!

Silver is a badass and we have an amazing opposites attract romance. The baddies are interesting and the plot is as much centered on love and family as it is on the series drama which is great!

Valentine is the best kind of hero, sexy, smart, steadfast, and admiring of all that is Silver. Silver is exactly the same. Sigh.

The romances has a great twists and turns and is epic.

This will be a comfort read for years to come because it is exciting, tender, hot, and funny.

Carry the Ocean (The Roosevelt, #1) by Heidi Cullinan 5 Star Review

    Carry the Ocean  by Heidi Cullinan 5 Stars! 

Normal is just a setting on the dryer.

High school graduate Jeremey Samson is looking forward to burying his head under the covers and sleeping until it’s time to leave for college. Then a tornado named Emmet Washington enters his life. The young man with a double major in math and computer science is handsome, forward, wicked smart, interested in dating Jeremey—and he has autism.

But Jeremey doesn’t judge him for that. He’s too busy judging himself, as are his parents, who don’t believe in things like clinical depression. When Jeremey’s untreated illness reaches a critical breaking point, Emmet is the white knight who rescues him and brings him along as a roommate to The Roosevelt, a quirky new assisted living facility.

As Jeremey and Emmet find their feet at The Roosevelt, they begin to believe they can be loved for the men they are beyond their disabilities. But before they can trust enough to fall head over heels, they must trust their own convictions that friendship is a healing force and love can overcome any obstacle.

 

Review

I love this book. Sitting down to write this review, I just want to go and read it again.

Each character is complex, human and complete. They inhabit a full world. The writing is beautiful and dialogue compelling.

The details weave together in wonderful layer upon layer to create a love story with all the kinds of love.

This is not a light hearted romance but the ache here is really just the ache of being human.

As a disabled person, I really valued to discussion of adaptations, modification, and normality that are part and parcel of living in with a different t body, chemistry and/or mind that the majority.

Depression and anxiety are explored here better than I have ever read. They are part of the character but not all of him. And while there are things that are common to people with this disorder, the understanding that he is unique is clear as well.

The exploration of autism is just as powerfully done. I love that fact that even though the autistic hero seems outwardly more disabled, it is the more “normal” hero that is newer to journey of living with his disability rather than around it.

I love the layers of the parental reaction to this very young couple. The romance told in alternating points of very is beautiful. The writer shows the difficult of the relationship and its joy.

My favorite part of the book aside from the characters is the therapy sessions. Both heroes go and the parents.

I wish everyone had support like this to shine the light on love and self acceptance and the pain of being human. And the science of it all. So good.

I highly recommend this book for the romance and everything else.

For Real by Alexis Hall 5 Star Review!

 For Real by Alexis Hall  5 Stars!!!

Laurence Dalziel is worn down and washed up, and for him, the BDSM scene is all played out. Six years on from his last relationship, he’s pushing forty and tired of going through the motions of submission.

Then he meets Toby Finch. Nineteen years old. Fearless, fierce, and vulnerable. Everything Laurie can’t remember being.

Toby doesn’t know who he wants to be or what he wants to do. But he knows, with all the certainty of youth, that he wants Laurie. He wants him on his knees. He wants to make him hurt, he wants to make him beg, he wants to make him fall in love.

The problem is, while Laurie will surrender his body, he won’t surrender his heart. Because Toby is too young, too intense, too easy to hurt. And what they have — no matter how right it feels — can’t last. It can’t mean anything.

It can’t be real.

 

Review

Sigh. So good.

I don’t really love romances that contain BDSM aa a rule and the lean in on the SM part even less so but I do read them because despite by preferences there is some damn fine storytelling to be found in this troupe.

This book. This book might be the best I have ever read with a romance where the couples sexual needs are met through BDSM and the if BDSM were not in the story the character would be less of who they are and the plot of the book would suffer.

This love story is about integration of the self and love.

The age difference and being in very different life stages is exquisitely handled. And not just by the older hero but even more so by the younger hero. I love that Toby has acne. I love it so much. It is pitch perfect in terms of not being “grown” and yet being a full person. Laurie’s non caring about it is also such a wonderful thing because as we age the body’s imperfection tend to matter very little and our love comes from the person who inhabits the body. There is a lot of things that ages lets us let go that Laurie represents.

The other aspect of the age difference that Toby can’t be accepted for who he is (a Dom) because of age. He has other struggles of a 19 year old which drive the plot beautiful but never in the oh god grow up way but in the wow remember so human way.

Laurie is heartbroken which is a common theme in Hall’s books. Oh, and there is poetry and the love story that comes from finding equality and acceptance.

Excellent writing as usual and really gorgeous romance.

A Rational Arrangement (Arranging Paradise Book 1) in by L. Rowyn Review

  A Rational Arrangement (Arranging Paradise Book 1) by L. Rowyn

But these are vital aspects of marriage. If one cannot discuss them, what’s the use in meeting at all? It’s like trying to decide what you’ll have for dinner without mentioning food.”

Wisteria Vasilver does wish to marry. Truly. But though she lives in Paradise, arranging a match is full of traps and pitfalls for the unwary … or perhaps just for her.

Nikola Striker, Lord of Fireholt, expects he’ll wed — someday. But not now, and never to a rich icicle of a woman like Miss Vasilver. No matter how much his parents might want the match, or his house might need her dowry. Besides, he has his own problems — most of them people who need his help as a mind-healer.

Lord Justin Comfrey, Viscount of Comfrey, would be more than happy to help Striker with his financial troubles, and not just to ensure that Miss Vasilver’s dowry doesn’t tempt Striker into marriage. If only he could find some way to make his proud, stubborn friend accept the money!

Can three people of such different temperaments ever find their way to a more perfect Paradise?

 

Review 

This book is such a pleasure of a romance. In a Regency flavored culture set after the fall of another world in a new “Paradise,”  Rowyn meticulously builds cultures, history, religions,  a wider world, and a magic systems with as much beauty as the plot, characters, and love story.

I stayed up all night reading.

The heroine, Wisteria, is going right on my favorite heroines list. Wisteria brave, kind, moral, and with the keenest of minds. She falters and is big hearted.  She is somewhere on the  autism spectrum and thus able to see past cultural norms and mores and be baffled by them. Thus, she is socially awkward and misread as cold.  The hero/s come to adore her because of who she is and this romance explores the range of what is “normal” on so many levels and compellingly.

The hero, Nik, is burdened with responsibilities and in love with someone else that he can’t have publicly and thinks doesn’t really want him out of the bedroom.   Nik is a Blessed with gift of mind healing.  As he sees Wisteria more clearly, he comes to see himself more fully as well.  Their love story is one of honesty and have a safe place. It is sexy as all get out as well.

Our third lead is Justin. He is a charmer who really has to learn to trust, risk and talk to get his HEA with both the heroine and the hero and release old ideas about himself as well as the world.  He is loyal and brave.

This is a polyamorous romance that does a wonderful job thinking about the cultural aspects of marriage and sex and human nature. The writer makes you believe in the Happily Ever After because she doesn’t pretend it isn’t complicated.

The book takes on sex, religion, faith, ability gender roles, and marriage  from a global anthropological point of view as well as a biological one (though magic based as Nik can see minds). Wisteria’s analytical nature, Justin’s realism and Nik’s humanitarianism  all come together in a moving exploration of all these topics.

All all the while, we have sexy times, conflicts of all kinds, sexual tension, banter, carriage and Great Cats who talk!

Excellent.

I so hope there are more books in this world.

The Shameless Hour (The Ivy Years, #4) by Sarina Bowen 5 Star Review

5 Stars!!

She’s not looking for a hero. He’s not looking for a hookup.

For Bella, the sweet-talking, free-loving, hip-checking student manager of the Harkness men’s hockey team, sex is a second language. She’s used to being fluent where others stutter, and the things people say behind her back don’t (often) bother her. So she can’t understand why her smoking hot downstairs neighbor has so much trouble staying friends after their spontaneous night together. She knows better than to worry about it, but there’s something in those espresso eyes that makes her second guess herself.

Rafe is appalled with himself for losing his virginity in a drunken hookup. His strict Catholic upbringing always emphasized loving thy neighbor—but not with a bottle of wine and a box of condoms. The result is an Ivy League bout of awkwardness. But when Bella is leveled by a little bad luck and a downright nasty fraternity stunt, it’s Rafe who is there to pick up the pieces.

Bella doesn’t want Rafe’s help, and she’s through with men. Too bad the undeniable spark that crackles between the two of them just can’t be extinguished.

Review

The writing here is taut, the pacing spot on, the characterization wonderful, and the romance everything you will want.

The heroine has been around in early books of the series as a likable sexually confident woman. At te start of this book, she is hurting, Her crush loves someone else and a guy she was seeing has participated in a Frat tradition most foul.

The hero is hurting as well from a unexpected break up. He is kind, shy, and confident.

They have lots of heat and stumbles between them.

The characters are so finely drawn and the issues they face so real especially race and gender issues that I cried and laughed and really hoped they would find their way together and each of themselves.

So good. And sexy too.

Just Say Yes (Escape to New Zealand #10) by Rosalind James 5 Stars Review!

5 Stars!

Some fires warm you up. And some burn you down.
Kevin McNicholl may be a brutal force on the rugby field, but off the field, the star New Zealand All Black is a famously nice guy. His new tenant, though, arouses more than his protective side. She sets him on fire. Pity he’s evicting her.

Every woman deserves her dreams. Chloe Donaldson can’t afford dreams, though, so she’s given them up. Marriage, her ballet career, and now, her beautiful tower apartment with its view of the sea. Her new landlord is kicking her out, along with her three-year-old son, Zavy.

She should hate him. But when a man looks at you like that, it’s so easy to lose your focus.

Review

It is a devine feeling when the 10th book in a series you love is this good.

This book is good. So, very, very good.

It has all the great parts of the series with the wonderful New Zealand setting and culture as well as all the joy that is rugby. We get to see a lot of couples from other books.

However, what makes this such a great romance is the coming together of this couple–a ballet dancer and a rugby player. They are very different from each other and yet it is in the startling overlap of the physicality, drive, passion, and dedication of their lives that they see, know, and love each other.

Wonderful. Sexy. Emotionally compelling.

The hero. Ahhhh. I love a steadfast kind hero. James does a great job showing all layers of a person and gives us the kind of hero that well books should be written about. He exists inside a complex family and work life. He is complex and really sexy in all his ways.

The heroine is a single mother who is coming out of the haze of early motherhood and has family dynamics of her own to sort out. She is so herself and its wonderful. She is sexy as hell too.

Together. Boom. The celebration of bodies in this series is especially good in this editions. Very body positive for all the varied body types here. (with a little wobble on the weight issues of one side character). In every word, this book relish the unique bodies we all have. A really gift in this book.

The plots out side the romance are inside them because that is how life works and this is a well told story that will move you.

Kindred by Octavia E. Butler Review

5 Stars!

Dana, a modern black woman, is celebrating her twenty-sixth birthday with her new husband when she is snatched abruptly from her home in California and transported to the antebellum South. Rufus, the white son of a plantation owner, is drowning, and Dana has been summoned to save him. Dana is drawn back repeatedly through time to the slave quarters, and each time the stay grows longer, more arduous, and more dangerous until it is uncertain whether or not Dana’s life will end, long before it has a chance to begin.

Review

This is the kind of book that haunts you. It seeps into the nooks and crannies of your life and you see events and moments though a new lens.

It looks steadily into the legacy of slavery and doesn’t flinch. We flinch, cringe, and weep as we should.

Bulter, in this time travel love story, tells the tale of humanity when humanity has been denied to others and what that genetic, generational, and cultural memory means to all of the participants.

This book’s heart is individuals and love, weakness, and hate and love again. The romance is more compelling that most any you will read and the history something we should never forget.