angst

Christmas Kitsch by Amy Lane 5 Star Review!

  Christmas Kitsch by Amy Lane  5 Stars!

Sometimes the best thing you can get for Christmas is knowing what you really want.

Rusty Baker is a blond, rich, entitled football player in a high school full of them — just the type of oblivious jock all the bullied kids hate. And he might have stayed that way, except he develops a friendship with out-and-proud Oliver Campbell from the wrong side of the tracks. Rusty thinks the friendship is just pity — Oliver is very bright, and Rusty is very not — but then Oliver kisses him goodbye when Rusty leaves for college, and Rusty is forced to rethink everything he knows about himself.

But even Rusty’s newfound awareness can’t help him survive a semester at Berkeley. He returns home for Thanksgiving break clinging to the one thing he knows to be true: Oliver Campbell is the best thing that’s ever happened to him.

Rusty’s parents disagree, and Rusty finds himself homeless for the holidays. Oliver may not have much money, but he’s got something Rusty has never known: true family. With their help and Oliver’s love, Rusty comes to realize that he may have failed college, but he’ll pass real life with flying rainbow colors.

Review

Wow. At first, I was leery. I don’t love New Adult. I am not always a fan of characters who are not self reflective. But this book is lush and keeps going and going and gives me all the love.

Rusty (awful name but then he has awful parents) is a slow processor who works hard, has been taught to have good manners, and is miserable as he doesn’t even see himself in an effort to get along with parents who see him as an asset rather than a person.

Oliver is quick witted, determined, and loved. And he loves Rusty because Rusty is kind and hot.

This is a very New Adult Romance as our heroes meet in high school. We get a wonderful friends to lovers troupe with a lot of finding yourself. There are all sorts of amazing moments in this book.

Rusty is wonderful and his struggle to become himself powerful and endearing. Oliver is just the best. I wish we were in his head as well. The cast of characters are just great.

The happily ever after is well earned and left me so happy.

Sink into this lovely, sexy, sweet romance.

Caught! (The Shamwell Tales, #1) by J.L. Merrow Review

      Caught! (Shamwell Tales Book 1) by J.L. Merrow 4 Stars!

Behind Robert Emeny’s cheerfully eccentric exterior lies a young heart battered and bruised by his past. He’s taken a job in a village primary school to make a fresh start, and love isn’t part of his plans. But then he’s knocked for six—literally—by a chance encounter with the uncle of two of his pupils.

Sean Grant works in pest control, lives on a council estate, and rides a motorbike. Robert is an ex–public schoolboy from a posh family who drives a classic car. On the face of it, they shouldn’t have anything in common. Yet Robert can’t resist Sean’s roguish grin, and passion sparks between them even after an excruciatingly embarrassing first date.

Too bad the past Robert’s hiding from is about to come looking for him. His increasingly ludicrous efforts to keep his secrets are pushing Sean away—but telling the truth could make Sean leave him for good.

Review

I tend to like JL Merrow’s books a great deal because the books are funny, human and very British.

This book had some rough patches for me but I liked Sean and Robert as well as the village romance so much that I glided over those.

The attraction, sheer I really like you, and sexual tension between Robert and Sean is lovely. They are both great people-though Sean is a bit more so as he is more open. The bowtie stuff is hot. lol I love me some nerd and a man who appreciate.

The class difference is well explored as is the discussion of bisexuality. Robert runs scared because of what happened to him and this causes several lack of communication and trust issues. This might be realistic but the events could have still happen and Robert had take the risk to confide and really it would have been a better romance because the relationship would have deepened. More interesting to me.

I love all the small village stuff and all the other characters. I am thrilled to spend more time with this couple in the series.

Empty Net (Scoring Chances Book 4) Avon Gale 4.5 Star Review!

Review:

Empty Net - Avon Gale

Spartanburg Spitfires’ goalie and captain, Isaac Drake, ended last season with an unexpected trip to the playoffs. He’s found a home and a family with his coach and mentor, Misha Samarin, and he’s looking forward to making a serious run for the Kelly Cup. But things take an interesting turn when Isaac’s archnemesis, Laurent St. Savoy, is traded to the Spitfires. After Laurent’s despicable behavior in the playoffs last year, Isaac wants nothing to do with him—no matter how gorgeous he is. But that changes when Isaac discovers the reason for Laurent’s attitude.

Laurent St. Savoy grew up the only son of a legendary NHL goalie in a household rife with abuse. He was constantly treated like a disappointment, on and off the ice. When a desperate attempt to escape his father’s tyranny sends him to the Spitfires, the last thing Laurent wants is to make friends. But there’s something about Isaac Drake that he can’t resist. Laurent has an opportunity to explore his sexuality for the first time, but he’s cracking under end-of-the-season pressures. When facing the playoffs and a rivalry turned personal vendetta, Isaac’s not sure he’s enough to hold on to Laurent—or their relationship.

 

Review

This is by far the darkest book of the series so far but this love story really shows off what an amazing storyteller Avon Gale is.

 

She takes the villain from the last book in the series Laurents and pairs him with the beloved scrappy Drake in an truely stellar enemies to lovers romance with a healing journey for all.

 

This book delves into the darkness of what happens when someone is exposed to systematic abuse and what it means to love someone enough to stand by as they heal.

Laurents is awful for a reason. However, he chooses to become aware and change and risk loving someone. He gets therapy. I can’t tell you how much I celebrate when a character gets professionial help in a book showing others the way. He works at his recovery from an eating disorder and self care from his abusive childhood and young adulthood.

 

His demisexuality is gently explored. He becomes his better self and a wonderful partner for Issac. I love the dating scenes.

 

Issac is so much a great emotionally brave character and sexy as hell (Lauren is broodingly hot). Issac just shines and finding romantic love and the love of an adopted father makes him even more compelling.

 

He falls in love but doesn’t try to solve Laurents problems. He is a partner.

 

I really adored their romance as always the hockey and the secondary characters and the pondering for friendship.

 

The books ends with a happily ever after that includes doing the right things for yourself as well as others.

Original post:
northamericanwordcat.booklikes.com/post/1581191/empty-net-scoring-chances-book-4-avon-gale-4-5-star-review

The Sumage Solution (San Andreas Shifters, #1) by G.L. Carriger 5 Star Review!

     The Sumage Solution: San Andreas Shifters by GAIL CARRIGER 5 Stars!!

Max fails everything – magic, relationships, life. So he works for DURPS (the DMV for supernatural creatures) as a sumage, cleaning up other mages’ messes. The job sucks and he’s in no mood to cope with redneck biker werewolves. Unfortunately, there’s something oddly appealing about the huge, muscled Beta visiting his office for processing.

Bryan AKA Biff (yeah, he knows) is gay but he’s not out. There’s a good chance Max might be reason enough to leave the closet, if he can only get the man to go on a date. Everyone knows werewolves hate mages, but Bryan is determined to prove everyone wrong, even the mage in question.

Delicate Sensibilities?
This story contains M/M sexitimes and horrible puns. If you get offended easily, then you probably will. The ¬¬¬¬San Andreas Shifter stories contain blue language, dirty deeds, and outright admiration for the San Francisco Bay Area. Not for the faint of heart (mouth/tongue/etc.).

 

Review

I had a grand time reading this book. Its over the top and madcap but charming, hot, and engaging.

Humor is tough and for me this overblown paranormal world with a sarcastic hero and quirky non humans of all kinds really worked for me. I think because the heart of the story is the romance between Bryan, a beta wolf shifter able to be out about his sexuality for the first time, and a cranky, lanky not well functioning civil servant mage who had an awful childhood and a pretty crap romantic life until Bryan.

All the quirky and crazy plot around them was kept steady by the realism and the truth of this romance. It is a character driven love story set in a pretty well built and enjoyable paranormal world.

Some of the world building is a bit wonky but all the characters, banter, hot sexy times, and romance make up any flaws in a big way.

I can’t wait for more couples in this series and more time in this world.

Power Play (Scoring Chances, #3) by Avon Gale 5 Star Review!

Review:

Power Play  - Avon Gale

A freak accident during the Stanley Cup Playoffs put an end to Max Ashford’s hockey career. Despite everything, Max gets back into the game he loves—only this time, behind the bench as an assistant coach of the Spartanburg Spitfires, the worst team in the entire league. But nothing prepares him for the shock when he learns the new head coach is Misha Samarin, the man who caused Max’s accident.

 

After spending years guilt-ridden for his part in Max’s accident, Russian native Misha Samarin has no idea what to do when he’s confronted with Max’s presence. Max’s optimism plays havoc with Misha’s equilibrium—as does the fierce attraction that springs up between them.

 

Not only must they navigate Misha’s remorse and a past he’s spent a lifetime trying to forget, but also a sleazy GM who is determined to use their history as a marketing hook. But when an unwelcome visitor targets a player, Misha revisits his darkest days, and that might cost him and Max the beginning they’ve worked so hard to build.

 

Review

 

So, I am loving Avon Gale. She is really pitch perfect in this series so far. We get fully realized characters, hockey, great love stories, and human complexity with no false drama. Sexy as hell as well.

 

I read the blurb to this book and I think. Hmmm. Its going to be angsty bleh but it is not. It is wonderful.

 

Misha and Max. Agghhh. Great opposites attract with Max as sunny hero and Misha as dour. They love each other so. And I want every joy for them.

 

Misha is grrrr sexy and tortured but he is also a grown ass man who handles his business and is emotionally available.

 

Mas is thoughtful and resilient. I want to go re read this finely writing romance right now.

 

A comfort read for years to come!

Original post:
northamericanwordcat.booklikes.com/post/1581187/power-play-scoring-chances-3-by-avon-gale-5-star-review

Falling Down by Eli Easton Review

    Falling Down by Eli Easton 4 Stars! 

osh finds himself homeless at eighteen, but he has a plan. He’ll head north on the bus to New England and spend October there for his mother’s sake. She always talked about going to see the fall leaves someday. And when the leaves are done and the harsh winter comes, Josh plans to find a place to curl up and let go. It will be a relief to finally stop fighting.

Mark spent his life trying to live up to the tough swagger of his older brothers until he pushed himself so far against his nature that he cracked. Now a former Marine, he rents a little cabin in the White Mountains of New Hampshire where he can lick his wounds and figure out what to do with the rest of his life. One thing was clear: Mark was nobody’s hero.

Fate intervenes when Josh sets up camp under a covered bridge near Mark’s cabin. Mark recognizes the dead look in the young stranger’s eyes, and he feels compelled to do something about it. When Mark offers Josh a job, he never expects that he’ll be the one to fall.

The snow is coming soon. Can Mark convince Josh that the two of them can build a life together before the flurries begin?

Trigger Warning: Suicidal thoughts

 

Review

 

I was worried that this book would be too dark for me with its topics of PTSD, depression, suicidal thoughts, homelessness….sound grim. doesn’t it? But Eli Easton handles these issues with grace and realism and embeds these struggles in wonderful human characters that we are lucky enough to watch fall in love.

This is a thoughtful romance that slow lets the light fill it up with lovely prose and complex characters. There is no extra angst and drama just a heartfelt and healing love story.

I very much recommend this book.

Vodka and Handcuffs by Brandon Witt Review

Review:

Vodka & Handcuffs (Mary's Boys Book 2) - Brandon Witt

Vahin Arora, Hamburger Mary’s sexy bartender, plays the flirtatious role so well even his closest friends—his chosen family at Mary’s—don’t realize Vahin hasn’t had a hookup in months. Then Tall, Dark, and Handsome steps through the door, and Vahin’s libido races back to life.

Being a black cop on the Denver police force is no easy job—Marlon Barton can’t imagine adding being gay to the equation. And while Marlon loves his work as an officer, his life has taken a turn for the hellish because of his new partner, the nephew of a senator.

Fleeing his partner’s company one night, Marlon stumbles into Mary’s for the first time… and wakes up with a hangover in the bartender’s bed. The one-night stand heats up into a budding romance, but not without stress as Marlon’s partner’s actions threaten Vahin’s livelihood and Marlon’s future on the force. Can Vahin and Marlon face the challenges and hold on to the love, friendship, and family they’ve found?

 

Review 

Ultimately, the plot of this book pulled in to many direction so that I couldn’t settle in and enjoy the story.

 

I like this circle of friends and Mary’s and was happy to to see the cast but the heroes spent a great deal of time a part and the drama and angst meter was sky high from minute one.

 

I have some issues with consent with the drunk sex, then the subplot with the evil partner really runs the show. I like some scenes a great deal but I never get the love story I am hoping for with this two very compelling heroes.

Original post:
northamericanwordcat.booklikes.com/post/1609739/vodka-and-handcuffs-by-brandon-witt-review

The Burnt Toast B&B (Bluewater Bay #5) by Heidi Belleau Review

    The Burnt Toast B&B (Bluewater Bay Book 5) by Heidi Belleau 3 Stars!

After breaking his arm on set, Wolf’s Landing stuntman Ginsberg Sloan finds himself temporarily out of work. Luckily, Bluewater Bay’s worst B&B has cheap long-term rates, and Ginsberg’s not too proud to take advantage of them.

Derrick Richards, a grizzled laid-off logger, inherited the B&B after his parents’ untimely deaths. Making beds and cooking sunny-side-up eggs is hardly Derrick’s idea of a man’s way to make a living, but just as he’s decided to shut the place down, Ginsberg shows up on his doorstep, pitiful and soaking wet, and Derrick can hardly send him packing.

Not outright, at least.

The plan? Carry on the B&B’s tradition of terrible customer service and even worse food until the pampered city boy leaves voluntarily. What Derrick doesn’t count on, though, is that the lousier he gets at hosting, the more he convinces bored, busybody Ginsberg to try to get the B&B back on track. And he definitely doesn’t count on the growing attraction between them, or how much more he learns from Ginsberg than how to put out kitchen fires.

Review

Ginsberg is an amazing hero. A stunt man and kind. He is a fun mix of lots of things and emotionally brave.

Derrick is actually even sweeter but he has a lot of self hatred to work through.

The romance is in turns funny, tender, and annoying. Derrick can be dense. And he is really not kind to his former boyfriend in his head or action and that comes out in general over time.

There is a moment when it seems like the book is going to go off the rails and Derrick just melts down but the writer keeps it on track. I would have liked the conflict to be more nuanced and more time spent working through some things but I enjoyed the book.

Ginsberg demands respect and love and there is good groveling and repentance.

Who We Are (Bear, Otter, and the Kid #2) by T.J. Klune 4 Star Review

Who We Are (Bear, Otter, and the Kid Chronicles Book 2)  by T.J. Klune

Bear, Otter, and the Kid survived last summer with their hearts and souls intact. They’ve moved into the Green Monstrosity, and Bear is finally able to admit his love for the man who saved him from himself.

But that’s not the end of their story. How could it be?

The boys find that life doesn’t stop just because they got their happily ever after. There’s still the custody battle for the Kid. The return of Otter’s parents. A first trip to a gay bar. The Kid goes to therapy, and Mrs. Paquinn decides that Bigfoot is real. Anna and Creed do… well, whatever it is Anna and Creed do. There are newfound jealousies, the return of old enemies, bad poetry, and misanthropic seagulls. And through it all, Bear struggles to understand his mother’s abandonment of him and his brother, only to delve deeper into their shared past. What he finds there will alter their lives forever and help him realize what it’ll take to become who they’re supposed to be.

Family is not always defined by blood. It’s defined by those who make us whole—those who make us who we are.

Review

If you loved or even just liked the first book in the series, this one is a must read.

I think it is much better actually as you get all the charm, funny, and drama of the first with the wonderful characters without the lack of communication and freak outs.

There will be crying and Bear and Otter can’t seem to escape the awful coming but there is a lot of sweet and Bear is much more of a grown man here.

I think the secondary romance could have been way more developed and the mystery never was a mystery to me but all in all it is very good ride

Bear, Otter, and the Kid (Bear, Otter, and the Kid #1) by T.J. Klune Review

Bear, Otter, and the Kid (Bear, Otter, and the Kid Chronicles Book 1) by T.J. Klune 3.5 Stars!

Three years ago, Bear McKenna’s mother took off for parts unknown with her new boyfriend, leaving Bear to raise his six-year-old brother Tyson, aka the Kid. Somehow they’ve muddled through, but since he’s totally devoted to the Kid, Bear isn’t actually doing much living—with a few exceptions, he’s retreated from the world, and he’s mostly okay with that. Until Otter comes home.

Otter is Bear’s best friend’s older brother, and as they’ve done for their whole lives, Bear and Otter crash and collide in ways neither expect. This time, though, there’s nowhere to run from the depth of emotion between them. Bear still believes his place is as the Kid’s guardian, but he can’t help thinking there could be something more for him in the world… something or someone.

 

Review

I liked this book much more after I read the sequel. Why? I think the characters are more developed in the second book and looking back at this book I could forgive the things that irrated me, the way I might forgive a teenager for annoying behavior. I will get to those behaviors later.

I picked this series up because I have read TJ Klune before and liked his quirky characters, We get that quirk here in spades with Bear and the Kid and some great side characters but there is a lot of angst as well.

The love in this circle of friends is amazing and Bear’s mile a minute brain and the genius Kid are charming,. Otter is a great romantic lead as well. Nice friends to lovers themes as well as in love with my best friends brother, raising my sibling, age difference, loved forever, and and class difference going on as well.

There is a bunch of drama but it is the kind of drama that comes from being raised in poverty with a neglectful alcoholic parent and being young so it made sense.

The annoying parts of the book were Bear’s hot cold and oblivious relationship with his sexuality and his own feelings. As well a lack of discussion of bisexuality, demi sexuality, or pan sexuality.

This resistance and ping ponging created false drama: the acceptance, denial, lack of communication, freak outs, embracing and running screaming all at the same time. You could say well Bear is young and doesn’t have good role models but that doesn’t explain Otter’s non direct communication or make it less irritating as it went on and on and happened again and again beyond what I thing the characters would honestly do. These moments soured the book in places for me where relationship building and dealing with the fall out of changing connections for everyone involved could have been in its place.

Never the less, I enjoyed the book well enough to read the next one but am happy I bought this one on sale.