angst

The Truth As He Knows It (Perspectives #1) by A.M. Arthur Review

    The Truth As He Knows It: (Perspectives #1) by A.M. Arthur 3 Stars! 

Lies are the chains that keep you weighed down at rock bottom.

Officer Noel Carlson isn’t out to anyone in small-town Stratton, Pennsylvania, only to distant friends and family, so a relationship is out of the question. That doesn’t stop him from wanting one, though.

When a night-shift call brings him face to thonged butt with a hired stripper whose girl-party gig went terribly wrong, Noel takes pity on the guy and lets him go. But he can’t get the encounter out of his mind.

Shane has big-time debts to repay, especially to the brother who sacrificed nearly everything for him. His two jobs, in a deli and as a stripper, leave him no time for a social life. But a non-date of hot sex and takeout food with Noel? He can squeeze that in.

The bond they form is stronger than either expected or wanted. Especially since the step Shane’s about to take to put his brother—and his soul—back in the black isn’t quite legal. And he never calculated just how much his determination to make things right will cost him in the end.

Review

I am not a huge fan of this amount of awful in a story. It is a tear jerker for sure and the HEA part of the story doesn’t get stretched out enough for me to make up for the ugly cry.

I was clearly engaged (thus the crying). But I am not sure if that was over the issues themselves–medical debt, poverty, prison, abuse, death of a loved one as it was the story its self.

I liked everyone but needed a breather between all the awful

Dance With Me (Dancing, #1) by Heidi Cullinan 4 Star Review

Review:

Dance With Me - Heidi Cullinan

Sometimes life requires a partner.

Ed Maurer has bounced back, more or less, from the neck injury that permanently benched his semipro football career. He hates his soul-killing office job, but he loves volunteering at a local community center. The only fly in his ointment is the dance instructor, Laurie Parker, who can’t seem to stay out of his way.

Laurie was once one of the most celebrated ballet dancers in the world, but now he volunteers at Halcyon Center to avoid his society mother’s machinations. It would be a perfect escape, except for the oaf of a football player cutting him glares from across the room.

When Laurie has a ballroom dancing emergency and Ed stands in as his partner, their perceptions of each other turn upside down. Dancing leads to friendship, being friends leads to becoming lovers, but most important of all, their partnership shows them how to heal the pain of their pasts. Because with every turn across the floor, Ed and Laurie realize the only escape from their personal demons is to keep dancing—together.

 

Review

 

This book hovers between 3 Stars and 4 Stars for me but keeps sneaking back up to a 4 Star read.

This book does a relationship really well.

Laurie and Ed have a lot of stuff they need to work out in their own heads and yet they are able to make a wonderful space for each other to have a loving relationship while they heal and grown as individuals. This dynamic makes for a very good romance.

The cover is amazing as is all the dancing in the book. The thinking about failure and self and career is engaging. Ed’s struggle with his new identity as a disable person is powerful. There is a really moving scene about life goals that is so tender and wonderful example of seeing oneself through the eyes of love.

What makes the book less successful isn’t the love story but some dangling threads and just some weirdness.

We get hints that Laurie struggles with sex (its messiness for example but other things as well) and this doesn’t really get addressed or worked through in a way that would be up to the rest of the work Instead, we get a very out of character moment with another couple (not cheating) and really its has an eww factor (on several levels) that really knocked me out of the book. I am not sure why this scene survived the editing of the book.

The Mom stuff Laurie has going on as well as the Dad stuff and business partner stuff is left a mess and maybe it just stays a mess but it felt unfinished.

There other little irritants like that that keep the book from being flat out wonderful.

However, I am glad I read it and enjoyed it overall.

Original post:
northamericanwordcat.booklikes.com/post/1577820/dance-with-me-dancing-1-by-heidi-cullinan-review

A Good Neighbour (London Lads, #3) by Clare London Review

   A Good Neighbour  by Clare London 2 Stars

A secret affair can’t go on forever.

Dylan Philips admits it himself: he’s a relentlessly single man in a small suburban town, both proud of and resigned to being a good teacher and a devoted nephew to his mischievous great-aunts.

When the aunts take a hand in matchmaking him with Josie Whitman, the girl who lives along the street, Dylan doesn’t tell them what kind of soul mate he’s really looking for—and the fact that he’s already found the man in question. It’s not Josie who’s travelling from London every month to her town property, but her journalist brother Neal. And Dylan meets up with Neal whenever he can.

But decisions must be made for their future. Dylan is risk-averse to everything from overseas travel to coming out, whereas Neal embraces adventure—and now he wants to take Dylan with him.

Horrified that his chance at love will move even further out of his reach, Dylan realises it’s time for him to own up to what kind of man he really is. He needs to find courage and compromise. And who knows whether the great-aunts will be a help or a hindrance with that?

Review

So much unneeded angst and drama in what is really a quiet book. The lack of communication from every single character killed me.

I glare read this book.

Mature Content by Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell Review

   Mature Content  by Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell 4 Stars! 

My life plan is to be brutally honest all the way to the bank. Don’t believe me? I run a popular YouTube channel called TrashyZane, and my claim to fame is oversharing about every aspect of my personal life. Sometimes while tipsy. Not everyone loves my style, but I have a long history of icing out people who can’t handle me. I have no time for judgmental foolishness.

Except, apparently, when it comes to Beau Starr. His channel is the polar opposite of mine, and so is he. Wholesome, inspirational, and clean-cut. Everything about him should turn me off, but when we hook up following a confrontation at a convention, my world flips upside down. Not only does Beau Starr turn me on, he uses the exact combination of dirty talk and roughness needed to turn me out.

But we still hate each other. I think.

 

Review

 

I liked a great deal about this book. Beau and Zane have an intense sexy connection that is realistic and compelling. I like the circle of friends and the exploration of internet fame and communities. The writers do a good job thinking about persona, brand, self, and authentic selves, and the right to privacy. There are some good discussion on the need for varied representation of gayness and I particularly like the rant about gay sex being seen as more dangerous the het sex. Good stuff.

I believe in the romance. This is by far the most erotic of the series and nice work is done thinking about sexual desire as well.

I wish the book had more character details here and there. Zane’s relationships romantic and otherwise in particular.

Beau keeps to a really annoying point of view and allows himself to be controlled for way too long. This time in the book could have been better spent with Zane and Beau in a public relationship.

But there is an epic grovel so that is good.

The series is taking a rest but I can see a number of characters that could use their own stories so I hope it picks up again!

Hard Wired by Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell Review

   Hard Wired   by Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell 3.5 Stars! 

My FallenCon agenda is simple: sit on a couple of panels and let people meet the real me. Jesse Garvy—mod of a famous Twitch channel and, if I ever come out of my shell, future vlogger. I definitely didn’t plan to sleep with a moody tattooed fan-artist, but he’s gorgeous and can’t keep his hands off me. There’s a first time for everything, and my first time with a guy turns out to be the hottest experience of my life.

But the next day, I find out my moody fan-artist is Ian Larsen AKA Cherry—someone I’ve known online for years. And he’d known exactly who I was while shoving me up against that wall. Before I figure out whether to be pissed or flattered, the con ends.

Now we’re back online, and he’s acting like nothing happened. But despite the distance between us, and the way he clings to the safety of his online persona, we made a real connection that night. I don’t plan to let him forget.

Review

This entry in the series is way more New Adult than the first two books. It handles the issues of breaking loose from young adulthood well and becoming yourself.

It also tackles the idea of online personas and being able to be your whole self.

The romance is all messed up and so are the lives of these two heroes but you root for them and are so happy when they each starting leading better lives together.

The really good parts of this book are in all the little details I don’t want to give away.

Save the Date by Annabeth Albert and Wendy Qualls Review

  Save the Date  by Annabeth Albert and Wendy Qualls 3 Stars!

Randall Young has one duty as his sister’s “man of honor”: to ensure she has the best wedding ever. That includes an epic bachelorette pub crawl, leading him to Portland’s most popular gay bar… and into Hunter Mitchell’s well-muscled arms. A one-night stand with a sexy soldier is the perfect way to ditch that pesky V-card and get himself in the mood for a weekend of flowers, cake, and nuptials.

Hunter wants to blow off some steam before he stands up as his best friend’s best man. He’s already married to his military career, not looking to settle down. He certainly doesn’t intend for the one guy he met (and, okay, got off with) in Oregon to be his counterpart in the wedding party. Or a virgin. Definitely wasn’t intending that. Luckily, they have the rest of the weekend for Hunter to show Randall what he’s been missing.

The more they’re thrown together by the wedding, the more Randall and Hunter grow together outside the bedroom… which is dangerous because there’s a lot more than 2500 miles standing between them and a happily-ever-after. If they want a future beyond their wedding weekend hookup, both must find the courage to take a chance on love.

Review

This is a nice romance with lots to like.

The opposites attract is always hot and I love a nerdy take charge hero. Sadly, we see Randall more clearly than we do Hunter. Hunter adores Randall and Hunter changes the most in the course of the story wanting more. I would have liked to seeing Randall adoring Hunter more.

The cast of characters and destination wedding theme is fun and the epilogue is satisfying.

Fast Connection by Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell Review

Review:

Fast Connection (Cyberlove) (Volume 2) - Megan Erickson, Santino Hassell

 

 

After a decade of serving in the Army, everyone still expects me to be Dominic ‘Nicky’ Costigan–the skirt-chasing player. They don’t know I’ve been spending my days trying to figure out my post-military life. Including how to pick up guys.

When I meet Luke on a hookup app, he makes it clear it’s for one-night only. That’s fine with me, because I’m down to see what this silver fox can do. But after I arrive at his doorstep, it doesn’t take long to realize we have serious chemistry, and we end up meeting again.

He’s got more walls around his heart than a military base, but I think he’s as addicted to me as I am to him. He can’t resist me for long. I mean, who can? Except Luke’s rules exist for a reason, and when I test his limits, things get complicated. Maybe too complicated

 

Review

 

This is a great book with an unlikely hero in Nick.

This book tackles a lot of crazy topics and it comes out on top. What is it like to be a working class guy in all the ways who discovers he is bisexual? How do you readjust to leaving the service? How do you come home when the messy family life you left behind is still there and you have grown up but no one else has? How do you balance your needs and wants against your kin’s?

Nick is brash and rude and a real jerk in the first book in the series but we see that he is a heart of gold character who really risks himself in all ways and loves deeply. He is charming and silly and intense.

Lucas has been burned in relationships and is raising his teens. He doesn’t see Nick coming and has to learn to love and trust again to really have joy.

Oh, and it is all hot as hell.

Wonderful!

Original post:
northamericanwordcat.booklikes.com/post/1576407/fast-connection-by-megan-erickson-and-santino-hassell-review

Wallflower by Heidi Belleau Review

 Wallflower (Rear Entrance Video Book 2) by Heidi Belleau

4 Stars! 

This gamer geek has a pretty little secret.

Art student and MMORPG addict Robert Ng has always been a loner, but he’s recently made it his goal to make more (IRL) friends. Which is how he winds up working nights at Rear Entrance Video, shilling sketchy porn and blowup dolls as a favor to his roommate. The longer he works there, though, the more he realizes he’ll never be truly happy until he becomes the person he is online: his female persona, Bobby.

Bobby is cuter and funnier than Rob is, and a thousand times more popular with boys. Becoming Bobby IRL presents its own set of challenges, though . . . especially when you’re sitting on the fence between two genders, only one of which has caught the attention of your seriously cute customer/classmate.

Dylan Ford is a six-foot Inuit comic book artist who always says what’s on his mind, and screw anyone who doesn’t like it. As rough as he appears, though, Dylan has a soft spot for Rob. But will out-and-proud Dylan still want Rob if he’s not all man?

Review

This was a angsty New Adult Romance where we along with both heroes are trying to figure out exactly what is going on in terms of gender identity.

The heroes are great and though this book looks carefully at a range of “issues” from indigenous adoption, asian immigration, sex shops, gender binaries, art, these discussions are well woven into the fabric of the characters lives.

Dylan is charming and charing. Bobby/Rob is more snarky and guarded but comes into his own.

This is a very New Adult Romance so I am not sure how long the Happily will last but I am glad they found each other.

Playing with Fire by Avery Cockburn Review

  Playing With Fire (Glasgow Lads Book 3) by Avery Cockburn 4 Stars! 

Robert McKenzie has a secret. As the only straight player on an all-LGBT soccer team, he’s known to fans as “McWhataWaste.” No one would guess Robert’s actually bisexual. At twenty-one, on the verge of a brilliant career in video game design, he’s finally ready to be his true self. The only thing keeping him in the closet is…his gay best friend?

Liam Carroll has a problem. His gorgeous pal and teammate wants to kiss him and touch him and…everything with him. But for how long? With Robert embarking on a bright future—far from their rough-and-tumble East End streets—Liam may soon be left behind. He can’t risk falling in love with a man he can’t live without. His solution? Keep things casual, “see what happens.”

Aye, right. After a single camping trip, the bridge back to mere friendship is well and truly burned. Now Robert wants more than sex, but diehard cynic Liam won’t drop the barriers around his heart. These two tough center-backs must find a way forward as lovers, or their lifelong bond—the heart of the Warriors team—will rupture for good.

Review

There is so much achey goodness in this book.

A rich friends to lovers romance that contends with biphobia, making a life together, and hope.

All the conflicts hurt a little because they are true and real.

While I am not always thrilled with Liam’s thoughts or action, he grows and risks a lot and his romantic gestures are the bomb.

Robert is wonderful and how he decided to make things work real seals the loveliness of this story.

A great cast, a great setting, and great writing!

Glitterland by Alexis Hall Review

Glitterland  by Alexis Hall 4 Stars! 

Once the golden boy of the English literary scene, now a clinically depressed writer of pulp crime fiction, Ash Winters has given up on love, hope, happiness, and — most of all — himself. He lives his life between the cycles of his illness, haunted by the ghosts of other people’s expectations.

Then a chance encounter at a stag party throws him into the arms of Essex boy Darian Taylor, an aspiring model who lives in a world of hair gel, fake tans, and fashion shows. By his own admission, Darian isn’t the crispest lettuce in the fridge, but he cooks a mean cottage pie and makes Ash laugh, reminding him of what it’s like to step beyond the boundaries of anxiety.

But Ash has been living in his own shadow for so long that he can’t see past the glitter to the light. Can a man who doesn’t trust himself ever trust in happiness? And how can a man who doesn’t believe in happiness ever fight for his own?

Review

Alexis Hall makes the ending up to me by adding a short story that was really needed to make this book complete.

Darian. I love him. He is clever and knows himself. Ash has to grow a lot in this book to deserve him but he does.

This book has all the wonderful trademarks of a Hall book-contending with imperfect characters, setting, class and such love.

We get a great romantic gesture and a well needed grovel. As well as a wonderful look at how to let other people make their own choices and live (and thrive) with who we are.

Good stuff!