adjusting to a new culture

Be My Best Man by Con Riley 4 star Review

  Be My Best Manby Con Riley 4 Stars!!

Will Jason’s third time as a best man lead to first-time love for Vanya?

After fleeing violence in Moscow, student teacher Vanya Petrov winds up lonely in a run-down London hostel. At least visiting the Bond Street store where his roommate works lets him practice his English, but as Vanya’s vocabulary expands, so does his isolation, especially when he sees happy couples planning their perfect weddings.

According to Jason Balfour, weddings are a waste of time and money. After all, he’s been best man for his brother twice already. Saying that a third marriage will end in divorce too leads to an angry ultimatum: to save his relationship with his brother, Jason must meet his fiancée, at last, and make a good first impression.

Jason’s need to dress to impress brings him and Vanya together. Language is no barrier to falling in love with the young and fragile Russian, and neither is their age difference. But Vanya’s bruised soul carries secrets that could rip them apart. As the wedding draws near, Vanya must confess, and soon, or risk losing Jason—his own best man in Britain.

Review

This is a very good romance that explores the issue of refugee status for queer people whose home countries.

Vanya is in an untenable position when he meets Jason an older man struggles to accept his brother’s pending marriage.

What is wonderful about this love story is how much these two heroes have in common and the emotion they share.

You can feel Jason’s respect for Vanya and Vanya’s admiration and empathy for Jason.

The conflicts that arise make sense.

The book wobbles in the end as Jason reacts instead of thinks and it doesn’t seem wholly in character. He clings to the lessons of a bad relationship in ways that though explained don’t seem on the nose. The end of the book would have been richer if we got to see more of Vanya together than apart.

Still, it is a very good romance and worth reading.

The Winter Courtship Rituals of Fur-Bearing Critters by Amy Lane Review

 The Winter Courtship Rituals of Fur-Bearing Critters  by Amy Lane 3 Stars!

Rance Crawford is an alpaca rancher, fiber mill owner, and self-proclaimed grumpy bastard. When sweet, charming tenderfoot Ben McCutcheon moves onto Crawford’s rural road, Rance is very aware that Ben makes it a grand total of two gay men in their tiny town, and even though he is instantly, painfully smitten, any move he makes could be simply chalked up to being hard up. Using his best weapon and favorite skill, Crawford launches an awkward, wordless effort to make sure Ben is kept warm during the cold Colorado winter, every last piece of him—especially his heart.

Review

I enjoyed this novella a lot and it is a great kick off this this series which I loved.

Rance is super gruff and social awkward and a badass sweetheart.

Ben is just charming.

The setting and the circle of friends and all the knitting are great and come on Alpacas.

This is a slow burn and we get much more of Rance and Ben in the other books in the series but the characters while engaging are pretty flat. The courtship is wonderful but the book would have been better with more after they are together time and insight into their pasts and day to day love story.

There is one crazy part that almost knocked me out of the book and I can’t believe it survived editing where Lane refers to being aroused is a very disconcerting way. It happens twice and then lucky NEVER AGAIN. lol

So, a must of the knitter and pretty fun for all.

Quinn’s Gambit (AURA, #1) by Angel Martinez and Bellora Quinn Review

    Quinn’s Gambit (AURA Book 1) by Angel Martinez and Bellora Quinn 4 Stars!

An unregistered human con wizard and a duty-bound, straight-laced elf cop. As New York explodes with dangerous creatures, their passion goes nuclear.

After a terrible magical accident at Berkeley created unpredictable holes between realities, all manner of non-human creatures started popping into our world. These displacements, called Random Anomalous Reality Events or RARE, have taken magic out of fiction and relocated it firmly in reality, resulting in a great deal of chaos and confusion. Displaced elf Valerian works with AURA, the Agency of Unnatural Resettlement and Assimilation, to intercept these beings as they appear in the human world, helping the peaceful ones and subduing the violent, malevolent ones. It’s good, satisfying work, and Val would be happy if he wasn’t so lonely.

Quinten is a young mage just trying to get by, but New York isn’t the easiest city to make a living in. If his methods are sometimes morally dubious, his heart is still in the right place. Of course, for Quinn, the right place means firmly locked away, protected at all costs. Living by his wits and sometimes magically induced luck, he works as a ‘freelance magic user’, or unregistered mage and small-time con, according to the authorities. The last thing Quinn wants is to draw the cops’ attention, but when an Event happens right on top of him, he’s forced to turn to AURA for help. Valerian isn’t at all what he’d expected in an AURA cop, and he certainly wasn’t expecting to join forces with the sexy elf, a snarky drow and a bitter incubus, when certain individuals in power try to stop the RARE by any means necessary.

Things are not all what they seem at AURA headquarters, and a greater evil lurks at the top than anyone could have imagined.

Review

Quinn’s Gambit is a wonderful Fantasy/Paranormal/Urban Fantasy Romance.

The world building is excellent and based on the idea that there is a magical rift dropping all sorts of magic beings into Earth. One of our heroes is a police Elf older and grieving the lost of his mates in the other realm with Alpha mixed in with the social awkwardness of adjusting to a new culture and being deeply hurt. Our other hero is Quinn, troubled in his own ways, a mage hiding the extent of his power and much younger, working as a con man.

They, of course, get together and the save the world.

This is a slow burn romance with a wonderful cast of others and a great premise of being set in this agency of crime solving and magical being immigration. The other all tone is light but with some dark topics, great character driven romance and adventure.

Too Stupid to Live (Romancelandia Book 1) Anne Tenino 4.5 Stars Review

Review:

Too Stupid to Live: Romancelandia, Book 1 - Riptide Publishing, Tobias Silversmith, Anne Tenino

t isn’t true love until someone gets hurt.

Sam’s a new man. Yes, he’s still too tall, too skinny, too dorky, too gay, and has that unfortunate addiction to romance novels, but he’s wised up. His One True Love is certainly still out there, but he knows now that real life is nothing like fiction. He’s cultivated the necessary fortitude to say “no” to the next Mr. Wrong, no matter how hot, exciting, and/or erotic-novel-worthy he may be.

Until he meets Ian.

Ian’s a new man. He’s pain-free, has escaped the job he hated and the family who stifled him, and is now — possibly — ready to dip his toe into the sea of relationships. He’s going to be cautious, though, maybe start with someone who knows the score and isn’t looking for anything too complicated. Someone with experience and simple needs that largely revolve around the bedroom.

Until he meets Sam.

Sam’s convinced that Ian is no one’s Mr. Right. Ian’s sure that Sam isn’t his type. They can’t both be wrong…can they?

 

Review

This isn’t a perfect book but its delightful and if you are a romance novel nerd like I am it is a must read for the meta commentary on the genre, the love of the gerne, and the playfulness Plus, it is a sexy romantic love story.

 

Same and Ian. I love that Ian isn’t attracted to Sam at first because he is shallow but really more because he isn’t attuned to himself yet. A great deal of this book his Ian’s journey to become emotionally connect to himself and others after having lived a closeted life and believed the cultural lies told by hyper masculinity.

 

His journey is moving as his is falling deeper and deeper in love and lust with Sam. I am so happy Ian is already seeking therapy and continues to do so as the plot develops. I love his relationship with his cousin and the developing relationships with the people at his new job.

 

He tries and grows and does great romantic gestures and emotionial bravery and this makes him a wonderful deserving hero for Sam even when he struggles.

 

Sam is everything I love. A nerd, socially awkward bookworm with great friendships and a loving heart. He is super smart and his thinking of the world through romantic novels themes is at once funny, charming, and wise. He is brave and takes risk as Ian learns. Sexy as hell.

 

This is a well plotted book with great charters and love you can believe in. I liked the second book in the series much better after reading this one and can’t wait for a third book.

 

The flaws are slight really. A weird lack of setting in an extra place. Western US not California. We never get to see Same as a grad student, writer, and teacher…just as a reader, friend, and waiter. This leaves some depth out of the novel that matters.

 

This will be a long time comfort read for sure. I am resisting the urge to reread right now!

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Tender Mercies (Men of Lancaster County, #2) by Eli Easton 4 Star Review!

Tender Mercies (Men of Lancaster County Book 2) by Eli Easton 4 Stars! 

Eddie Graber’s dream of a sanctuary for rescued farm animals was about to come true when his partner backed out at the last minute. Now Eddie risks losing the twenty-five acre property in Lancaster County—and all the hopes he held for it—before the project even gets off the ground. He needs help, he needs money, but most importantly, he needs to rediscover the belief in a higher purpose that brought him here in the first place.

Samuel Miller worked hard to fit into his Amish community despite his clubfoot. But when his father learns Samuel is gay, he is whipped and shunned. With just a few hundred dollars to his name, Samuel responds to an ad for a farmhand and finds himself employed by a city guy who has strange ideas about animals, no clue how to run his small farm, and a gentle heart.

Samuel isn’t the only lost soul to serendipitously find his way to Meadow Lake Farm. There’s Fred and Ginger, two cows who’d been living in a garage, a gang of sheep, and a little black pig named Benny who might be the key to life, love, money—and even a happily ever after for two castoffs.

Review

I was so excited for this book that I read it on the day it came out. And it lived up to my expectations.

This is a quiet sweet book about Samuel and Eddie. The heroes comes from very different walks of life and show each other a better way to be.

The love story between them is tender and wonderful. There are all sorts of curves snd detail that make this book great. It is a low angst book about series subjects. The animals, farm, setting and dialogue are great.

I do wish Samuel had gotten a little more time in coming terms with his faith and deeply changed way of life and an epilogue of greater length would have make me happy but this is a really wonderful romance.

I liked it even better than the first one in the series and can’t wait for the next one!

Thrall (Deridia, #3) by Catherine Miller Review

    Thrall (Deridia Book 3) by Catherine Miller 3 Stars!

Slow.
Useless.
Failure.

Ness had always tried to do as the masters told her, tried to fulfil her expected purpose within the time allowed. She was a thrall and nothing more. Every pain was a lesson, every hurt was for her betterment. And someday, perhaps, she could earn honour enough to serve the Narada in a household.

But when the masters tire of her repeated failures to produce the allotment required of her, she is chosen, not for the death she expects, but to serve as payment to a people she has never seen, whose ways are strange and utterly impossible for her to accept.

Taken in by a man who claims that he is not her new master, she is troubled when he does not comprehend the defective nature of the thrall he has been given, and how unworthy she is to be in his service.

And, perhaps even more concerning, his persistent belief that she is no slave at all.

Review

I am a fan of this series and was happy to read another slow burning romance in this world.

Our heroine is Ness. We are deep in her point of view. We slowly see her get acculturated to being not a slave and having a self and value.

The hero is kind and he has to adjust as well.

This is a very sweet romance. I like the pace. However, more details of the non humans and the culture would have made of a stronger read but overall a pleasure.

Big in Japan: Accidental Sumo by Jennifer Griffith Review

Big in Japan: Accidental Sumo by Jennifer Griffith 3.5 Stars! 

Buck Cooper is big.

So big, in fact, that people don’t see him anymore—not at work, not in his love life. He’s become 300+ pounds of invisible. But when a family situation shanghais this Texan to Tokyo, suddenly being big makes him a spectacle—in a good way, especially when the spotlight at a sporting match lands on Buck and forces him into the sumo ring. Will this accident of fate be Buck’s chance of a lifetime, making him Big in Japan?

 

 

 

Review

The parts of this book that are good are so good that it warrant this high rating. I completely loved the book while I was reading it. However, as I have mulled over the book my enjoyment dims a bit because of some truncated elements of the plot that make it less fulfilling and silly in places.

What I loved: This book takes a deep dive into Sumo culture. I show up for this kind of detailed exploration in my romance novels. Clap my hands and give me a cool drink, I settle in.

Sumo hazing is crazy. I love me some Sumo (yeah not a sentence that most Westerns say but there it is) and was thrilled to to seek out this book based in the world of Sumo. It was really wonderful. The story showcases the sport, the athleticism and the culture.

The setting in Japan through our hero Buck’s (clearly and American) eyes well done. I got very hungry reading this story. All the senses are used to tell the tale of living in a vastly different place than he is use to and it is well done.

His hero’s journey is lovely to trace. Buck is the best person. His motivation are human and he is good without being saccharine. He does the right thing because that is his nature but the writer is gifted at showcasing how hard these choices can be for so many reasons.

The body issues that are explored here are powerfully rendered looking at culture, self worth masculinity, bullying and other nuances.

Buck works hard and is open minded. Love him!

When he falls in love, it is sweet. (FYI this book never gets past kisses which is a nice break from hotter fare).

However, the romance could have been way more developed, They are hardly ever together. We needed more couple time, I really would have liked some of the book from the heroine’s point of view. She remains pretty idolized.

There is crazy side plots of all kinds that are way over the top. Those are sort of fun but need to be balanced with more relationship development.

So, 3.5!

Trade (Deridia Book 2) by Catherine Miller Review

    Trade (Deridia Book 2) by Catherine Miller 4 Stars!!

Gullible.
Foolish.
Weak.

She had always done as she was told. She dug in the sands until her fingers bled so that her people could have something to barter. She packed up her sparse belongings without complaint when it was time to flee the Wastes, leaving behind the only home she’d ever known, and the site of the bittersweet memories she carried of her lost family. It was easier that way, to obey and not to question, knowing her own judgement to be faulty.

But when her people learn that the exchange for living on alien land and securing their safety is the price of one of their unclaimed women, the limits of her compliance are tested, as she is given in marriage to a man she does not want from a species and clan she does not know.

Only to discover that he feels precisely the same about their ill-begotten trade.

She was a Marzon now.

And she had no idea what that meant, other than giving up her clothes, her home, her people, all for a man who like to scowl and grunt and sigh.

“By what name shall she be called?” Sladec asked, and she eyed him with confusion.

She opened her mouth to answer, to finally inform them both that she most certainly had a name and it was important, no matter what Machrus had said, but the voice that gave answer was not her own.

But came from her husband instead.

“Renna. Now wife of Machrus of Krahl.”

 

Review

I love Catherine Miller’s character driven Science Fiction with a long slow burn.

The world building is very good and the ache of grief and loss is this book is compelling.

The hero and heroine are both so wounded it hard to like them at first because they hold so much of themselves as private but as they heal and come to love each other, we come to love and know them too.

If you liked Mercy, the first book in this series, you should like this one as well. It has similar themes of an arranged marriage and culture adjustment,. It also has some of the same drawbacks of not getting the hero’s point of view and some information held back too long to enjoy a full rich HEA. I would have loved a lush epilogue.

I would be very happy to read another romance in this world.

ABDUCTED, AUCTIONED, & STOLEN BY AN ALIEN by Amanda Milo Review

Review:

ABDUCTED, AUCTIONED, & STOLEN BY AN ALIEN: An Alien Mate Romance - Amanda Milo

 

AROKH
I broke the rules and stole an auction item from her buyers.
Because somehow, they’d managed to abduct a Gryfala princess.
Though… she doesn’t look, or act, or sound quite like I thought one of her kind would.
But I’m merely a Rakhii gladiator; this is the closest I’ve actually ever been to a princess.
I’d be considered lucky indeed if she chose me to guard her.
Instead, I want more.
I need her to claim me.
Because she doesn’t know it, but now I can’t let her go.

ANGIE
Woke up in a freaking auction pen.
With no coffee.
But there were aliens.  And they didn’t bid on me out of the goodness of their hearts.
FML.
Then this nice alien showed up in the nick of time, but he keeps referring to me as “Princess” and I’m starting to worry what he’ll do when he finds out that there’s been a little case of mistaken identity, that I’m not royalty – see, I’m not even whatever alien he mistook me for…
I’m just a human.

 

Review

 

 

If you are a fan of the sub genre of Science Fiction Romance that features abducted humans adjusting to aliening cultures, this book will be your jam.

 

The title is awful. Why is it awful? Impossible to remember as unique and makes the book about a kind genre erotic fetish (not that there is anything wrong with that) than about the romance, plot, characters, and fun of the themes of the sub genre.

 

If this book hadn’t been recommended to me and on Kindle Unlimited. I would never had taken the chance of picking it up.

 

Having read and really enjoyed it, I will try to follow the writer (social media and website aren’t up yet) and hope Milo puts out more books in this series and world.

 

The world building is really good with fully realized culture of the hero and the people that he assumes the heroine is from.

 

There are hints that other cultures and HEAs will be explored like cat like aliens and amphibious aliens. A poly love set of space pirates. Woo hoo!

 

Our hero is a super thoughtful, protective, respectful, brave loving warrior elephant/rhino dragon humanoid alien. Yea! He was great.

 

The heroine is great too though she could be much more developed. Sometimes, we suddenly just find out stuff about her like we knew it all along. She is funny and practical.

 

The couple is on the run and the hero is dealing with all his cultural norms and bonding. The heroine is just adjusting. There is a language barrier for a while that is well done.

 

They just like each other and so their falling in love makes sense and make me happy.

 

Okay, so…need that website and news of the next book….

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