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Redesigning Max (Foothills Pride #2) by Pat Henshaw Review

    Redesigning Max (Foothills Pride Stories Book 2) by Pat Henshaw 2 Stars

Renowned interior designer Fredi Zimmer is surprised when outdoorsman Max Greene, owner of Greene’s Outdoors, hires Fredi to revamp his rustic cabin in the Sierra Nevada foothills. Fredi is an out-and-proud Metro male whose contact with the outdoors is from his car to the doorway of the million-dollar homes he remodels, and Max is just too hunky for words.

When Max comes on to Fredi, the designer can’t imagine why. But he’s game to put a little spice into Max’s life, even if it’s just in the colors and fixtures he’ll use to turn Max’s dilapidated cabin into a showplace. Who can blame a guy for adding a little sensual pleasure as he retools Max’s life visually?

Max, for his part, is grateful when Fredi takes him in hand, both metaphorically and literally. Coming out is the most exciting and wonderful time in his life, despite the conservative former friends who think they’re saving him from sliding into hell.

Review

This is my second time trying this writer and like the first time, this book didn’t work for me, It isn’t awful and I like the basic writing but it is too shallow and doesn’t do the work needed to make it a love story to believe in.

Again, I like the heroes. Max has inherited wealth for outdoor rec stores and some hidden talents, Fredi is at the top of his profession (a little young for that but okay).

Max had realized he is gay and pursues Fredi. This is very sweet and up front. And again if the characters where developed and the story driven by the characters it would be a good book. I like the slow burn dating. I like the Fredi protects himself. There is cool stuff in both books about recording and reporting hate crimes.

Max and Fredi both have awful pasts and we don’t really get to see that. We are told that.

Again the love scene are off page and this hurts the development of the connection between them and the love story.

Then there is crazy homophobia that is resolved but takes up the place of better character work. And then saccharine stuff that isn’t earned.

So. Not great.

 

PS The “droopy mustache” on Max…ewww.

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.

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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.

Love By Number by D.J. Jamison Review

Review:

Love By Number - DJ Jamison

Aidan doesn’t have the best record with relationships, but he’s had a lifelong love affair with baseball. Player stats and computer simulations make sense. People don’t. But when he needs a ride to the World Series, he must rely on another person: a sexy artist who is as spontaneous as Aidan is predictable.

Jesse doesn’t care about baseball. As an artist, he’d rather paint a player than watch him at bat. But his grandpa loves the Kansas City Royals, so he takes him to every home game. He has no idea a fender bender in the parking lot is about to deliver new inspiration in the shape of a man with a whole bag of quirks.

Despite their differences, Jesse and Aidan hit it off, and their sexual chemistry is fantastic. But when Aidan’s numbers betray him, Jesse isn’t prepared for the fall-out. If Aidan continues to put his passion for baseball stats above everything else, he could miss out on the most important numbers in life: the sum total of smiles, kisses and laughs they could share in a journey of a lifetime.

 

Review

 

 like books about particular things set in particular places. Jamison writer this book about a baseball fan who loves the probability side of the game set during the World Series in Kanas City and St. Louis. 

I love those bits of the story. 

Aiden, the math nerd, may be on the spectrum for autism but Jesse, an artist and bartender, has as many social connection issues. 

They both have loving elders in their. 

I like this romance but it suffers from a rush at the end because of its short length. I will pick up another book by this writer.

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Clang (The Riley Brothers #2) by E. Davies Review

Review:

Clang (The Riley Brothers Book 2) - E.  Davies

“I don’t know. I’m just lonely.”
Summer barbecues and his brothers’ renovations keep blacksmith Jackson Riley happy, but he’s missing one thing: a relationship. Sweet, sexy Chase helps him with his dating profile and catches Jackson’s eye instead. When they trade skills and time, the embers are stirred into a flame of passion. Jackson wants a family tattoo – something Chase’s skilled hands can deliver. But Jackson worries when Chase asks him to forge a sword. What could he need protection from?

“I don’t have a family.”
Tattoo artist Chase MacLeod can’t stop running from his past. When he thinks he’s escaped, a letter arrives that throws everything off balance. The fencing lessons he’s taking bolster his confidence, and his new flame Jackson steps in and defends him. Then, Jackson makes an offer to open his home and heart to him. Chase must find the courage to face his past.

“Just tell me if they’re gone for good.”
Chase wants to stick around and redefine the meaning of family, but the enemy fights dirty. Will Jackson’s protection be enough to help Chase stand up for himself? Or will Chase’s scars forever close his heart? Despite their best efforts, Chase’s worst enemy might just be himself.

 

Review

The love story between Jackson and Tate is super sweet. I love how awkward they are with each other about making sure each likes the other before making a move. 

The romance is hot too. I like that two artist fall in love with each other. Chase has an awful family that gets dealt with in this book and Jackson has a wonderful one.

It is a very good mellow circle of friends romance. A wonderful way to pass the day.

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Sex Ed by Z.B. Heller Review

    Sex Ed by Z.B. Heller 4 Stars!!

Jaxson Dane is harboring a secret.

Not the fact that he’s a geeky comic book lover, or that he secretly draws his own comic, Bunny Fu Ninja Warrior. It’s not even classified information that he’s out and proud!

His secret is the shame that he’s a twenty-three-year-old virgin.
Jaxson isn’t waiting for marriage or even afraid of taking that step, he just hasn’t found the one guy who will accept all of his adorkable qualities. Due to an unfortunate mishap with a self-pleasuring apparatus and his favorite appendage, Jaxson meets
Tyler Mason. The emerald-green-eyed nurse is a witness to the mortifying incident, leaving Jaxon both grateful and disappointed in their one-time meeting.

And then Tyler somehow shows up at Jaxon’s family dinner. The very dinner at which Jaxson’s hidden virginity is revealed to everyone, including the captivating nurse.

Even though he secretly found the ER situation hilarious, Tyler is also able to look past it to see Jaxson’s genuine nature and is drawn to the charming and hapless comic book artist. He’s tempted to pursue the inexperienced Jaxson, but a recent and life-altering decision puts a damper on his wants and desires. However, the more time they spent together, the more willing he is to take the risk of juggling his new commitments and winning Jaxon’s affections.

A large, insane, and meddlesome family, two prying co-workers, and a sexy nurse are all trying to give Jaxson a crash course in Sex Ed. Will he pass?

Review

 really loves this romantic comedy. I smiled and laugh and read the best lines out loud.

It is adorable and sweet and zany. A bit over the top, yes, but super fun and light with characters that although they feel kooky also feel real.

I had no idea when I picked this up the ZB Heller had already told the Mom and Dad love story and the Uncles as well. I didn’t need those to enjoy this one but I will be picking them up.

Jaxson and Tyler are pretty normal in the vortex of the crazy that is Jaxson foul mouthed, oversharing, sex positive, very loving family.

Tyler just is really into Jaxson and its grand. Who wouldn’t be into this super smart sexy geek? He holds his own by electing to raise his nephew and being really witty,

Jaxson is everything. I love the virgin hero trope and the accident prone trope and I love why Jaxson is still a virgin He is super witty too.

There is a late in the book conflict that lasts a bit too long and I could use more Tyler and Jaxson time in relation to the wonderful secondary characters but overall this is a real charmer of a book.

There is great quote about comedy that opens the book and I think Heller does a great job of letting the situations be funny and the emotion be real.

Good stuff! Can’t wait for more!

Small Change (Small Change, #1) by Roan Parrish Review

    Small Change  by Roan Parrish 4 Stars! 

Ginger Holtzman has fought for everything she’s ever had—the success of her tattoo shop, respect in the industry, her upcoming art show. Tough and independent, she has taking-no-crap down to an art form. Good thing too, since keeping her shop afloat, taking care of her friends, and scrambling to finish her paintings doesn’t leave time for anything else. Which … is for the best, because then she doesn’t notice how lonely she is. She’ll get through it all on her own, just like she always does.

Christopher Lucen opened a coffee and sandwich joint in South Philly because he wanted to be part of a community after years of running from place to place, searching for something he could never quite name. Now, he relishes the familiarity of knowing what his customers want, and giving it to them. But what he really wants now is love.

When they meet, Christopher is smitten, but Ginger … isn’t quite so sure. Christopher’s gorgeous, and kind, and their opposites-attract chemistry is off the charts. But hot sex is one thing—truly falling for someone? Terrifying. When her world starts to crumble around her, Ginger has to face the fact that this fight can only be won by being vulnerable—this fight, she can’t win on her own.

Read

Pick up this book and read it. It is a great romance which mediates within this great love story on gender roles, sexism, introversion, female community, women’s rights, tattoos, relationship of all kinds, innate personalty…

Ginger and Christopher are in their 30’s and both small business owners. Ginger is a lot of things like we all are. But so is Christopher even though he seems a lot more clear cut than Ginger but really he is just as complex.

I don’t want to go into all the complexities because this is a plot driven by internal conflicts and character development with outside forces sometimes changing the course or pace of events and emotions. Those complexities make up the heart of the book.

The romance centers around seeing love as illuminating a life and worth the risk.

Christopher is a super hot ginger who has an intersting past and is a great listener. He is steady but very much himself. I love him. I wish there was more sex in this book because that part of Christopher was riveting.

Ginger has a pile of anger and she works too much and she is funny and loving.

I adore how bisexuality is discussed in this book. I love having a bisexual heroine and the discussion on the differences between dating men and women.

All the tattoo stuff is grand as well. This is a better book if you have read at least the first two books in the series but it is very good on its own.

There are a bunch of romances that should spin off from this one (Farron and Jude, Phee +?, Marcus and his partner) and word at the back of the book is we shall get a second Christopher and Ginger book. I think it would have been richer to get a little more couple time into this book and not have another book but I look forward to that book too

How to Raise an Honest Rabbit by Amy Lane 5 Star Review

   How to Raise an Honest Rabbit   by Amy Lane 5 Stars!

Everything about Jeremy has always been a lie—including his last name. When one grift too many ends in tragedy, Jeremy goes straight. But life’s hard for an ex-con, and Jeremy is down to panhandling and hope when Rance Crawford offers him work at a tiny alpaca farm and fiber mill. Jeremy takes him up on the job, thinking this could be his last chance to be a good man, and meets Aiden, who is growing into a better one.

As Aiden comes of age, Jeremy finds himself desperate to grow up, too, because Aiden starts looking to him for things Jeremy doesn’t know how to give. Being honest is terrifying for a man who’s learned to rabbit at the first sign of conflict—more so when Aiden gives Jeremy a reason to stay that can’t be packed up and carried in a knapsack. When Jeremy’s past comes knocking at their door, can Jeremy trust enough in Aiden and his new home to answer bravely back?

Review

I think this is one of those you love it or you don’t romances. Jeremy is a chatty (hyper) person and we are in his head so that is not for everyone. I loved it.

Despite, Amy Lane’s unfortunate use of “boy’ as a term of endearment (and even explained it is unfortunate, I was utterly charmed by this sweet, achey, slow burn romances between a much older beta hero and a much younger alpha hero.

What I loved is what good friends Aiden and Jeremy are. I loved how much of his own person Aiden is and that age doesn’t matter as much in some people’s development. I really valued how the story takes its time and Jeremy healing and the impact of his trauma are well details and just don’t magically go away,

I really liked all the kinds of love here and the talents. The farming, knitting, and shop stuff are just cool as are all the friends.

The best part is the romance. Aiden is steadfast and tender and tough. Jeremy despite being older and having a pile more trauma is less adult but comes into is wonderful own.

I have already reread it feeling I had gone to fast the first time.

Long Haul by Bruce Rose Review

    Long Haul by Bruce Rose 3 Stars!

He’d only ever taken the short run…

Ryker Bacca had seen plenty of lot lizards at the truck stops along his route, but he preferred the anonymity of the restroom glory hole. In and done with each man getting what he needed. But this time was different. Not only did the guy on the other side have a mouth made of pure magic, but he managed to make Ryker break his number one rule: never get involved.

Once he’s in, Ryker can’t seem to say no to the blond-haired, blue-eyed cutie Jody Wilson. It isn’t long before Ryker’s breaking all his rules, and finding a connection with the one person in the world who seems to understand him. Irresistible temptation lures him deeper, but the last thing Ryker expected was to find a man worth the long haul.

 

Review

This romance starts in a pretty gritty place (glory hole at a truck stop with the older brother of the hero kicking the heck out of him) but it is really a sweet romance.

We have two lonely heroes and there are a few dramatic turns but we move steadily toward a Happily Ever After.

I also love down on your luck and working class heroes and here we get both and a puppy.

There could have been more time after the we agree to be together to make it a richer read but it was a nice one.

Permanent Ink (Art & Soul Book 1) by Avon Gale and Piper Vaughn 4 Star Review

Review:

Permanent Ink - Avon Gale, Piper Vaughn

At twenty-three, Poe Montgomery is going nowhere. He still lives in his father’s basement and spends most of his time tagging with his friends. When an arrest lands him in debt, Poe accepts the front desk job at Permanent Ink, the tattoo shop owned by his father’s best friend, Jericho McAslan. Jericho is nearly twice Poe’s age, but with his ink and prematurely graying hair, he quickly takes the starring role in Poe’s hottest fantasies.

Jericho is known for his ability to transform poorly designed tattoos into works of art, but he was once as aimless and misdirected as Poe. Wanting to pay it forward the way someone once did for him, Jericho makes Poe his apprentice and is determined to keep things strictly professional. Easier said than done when Poe makes his interest—and his daddy kink—abundantly clear.

Jericho can’t resist Poe or their intense chemistry for long. But between the age gap, tension with Poe’s father, and Poe’s best friend calling him a sellout, they’ll need to ensure they’re both on the same page before they can rewrite their rocky start into something permanent.

 

Review

I enjoyed this romance between a much older man and and a younger one much more than I thought I might.

 

I love Avon Gale’s writing which is why I picked it up and I have wanted to try Piper Vaughn.

 

I had heard a rumor of some Daddy kink and that is not my thing. And honestly Poe is young and aimless and really my ideal hero to read a love story about and the fact that Poe is Jericho’s best friends kid. A lot of no from me.

 

However, the Daddy Kink is light, Jericho didn’t know Poe as a child, and Poe grows up.

This is really a New Adult book to the max but with one of the heroes being much older so his journey is different. The New Adult, coming of age, growing up piece is really well done on most levels though I would have like more exploration of Poe’s sexual tastes or how something about his sexual self moving into a fuller adult hood.

 

I, like Poe, love Jericho, though I am not always sure why Jericho loves Poe, He explains it a couple times and it has to do with art a bit but I think the book would be richer if Jericho had more of an arc and though he has a backstory there is something missing.

 

I love the setting and can’t wait for more in this series. There are all these moments of emotional complexity seeded in this love story that make it a good read.

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