blonde hero

Clear Water by Amy Lane Review

  Clear Water by Amy Lane 4 Stars! 

Meet Patrick Cleary: party boy, loser, and spaz. Patrick’s been trying desperately to transform himself, and the results have been so spectacular, they’ve almost killed him. Meet Wes “Whiskey” Keenan: he’s a field biologist wondering if it’s time to settle down. When the worst day of Patrick’s life ends with Whiskey saving it, Patrick and Whiskey find themselves sharing company and an impossibly small berth on the world’s tackiest houseboat.

Patrick needs to get his life together—and Whiskey wants to help—but Patrick is not entirely convinced it’s doable. He’s pretty sure he’s a freak of nature. But Whiskey, who works with real freaks of nature, thinks all Patrick needs is a little help to see the absolute beauty inside his spastic self, and Whiskey is all about volunteering. Between anomalous frogs, a homicidal ex-boyfriend, and Patrick’s own hangups, Whiskey’s going to need all of his patience and Patrick’s going to need to find the best of himself before these two men ever see clear water.

 

Review

I think this is my favorite Amy Lane book I have read.

It has the wonderful Sacromento area setting this time on the river. I know this like might be a quirk of mine because I know the area well but I think everyone can enjoy a book that is so firmly of a place like her books are and that place doesn’t have to be glamorous just reach in the kind of details that shape a plot and character.

I love the ADHD aspects of Patrick’s character and how when paired with people who don’t expect him to be like everyone else, he is loved and learns to love his self.

We get the difference of age and the working out of those issues here like in many of Lane’s books.

Whiskey is grumpy and wonderful. Flea Bait also. So, we get this second family fun.

What I love about the book aside from the crazy sauce plot (which I do adore) is all the science, a little mystery, a lot of character growth for everyone, and couple time. I love the couple time.

Really good book!

Candy Man (Candy Man #1) by Amy Lane Review

   Candy Man (Candy Man #1)  by Amy Lane 3.5 Stars! 

Adam Macias has been thrown a few curve balls in his life, but losing his VA grant because his car broke down and he missed a class was the one that struck him out. One relative away from homelessness, he’s taking the bus to Sacramento, where his cousin has offered a house-sitting job and a new start. He has one goal, and that’s to get his life back on track. Friends, pets, lovers? Need not apply.

Finn Stewart takes one look at Adam as he’s applying to Candy Heaven and decides he’s much too fascinating to leave alone. Finn is bright and shiny—and has never been hurt. Adam is wary of his attention from the very beginning—Finn is dangerous to every sort of peace Adam is forging, and Adam may just be too damaged to let him in at all.

But Finn is tenacious, and Adam’s new boss, Darrin, doesn’t take bullshit for an answer. Adam is going to have to ask himself which is harder—letting Finn in or living without him? With the holidays approaching it seems like an easy question, but Adam knows from experience that life is seldom simple, and the world seldom cooperates with hope, faith, or the plans of cats and men.

Review

I enjoyed this opposites attract romance. Finn is wonderful. The dog is great. Watching Adam find joy is a pleasure. The Candy Man is sill fun.

There are bits and pieces missing here that could add depth to the story but overall is a good read.

Brute by Kim Fielding Review

   Brute by Kim Fielding  3.5 Stars!

Brute leads a lonely life in a world where magic is commonplace. He is seven and a half feet of ugly, and of disreputable descent. No one, including Brute, expects him to be more than a laborer. But heroes come in all shapes and sizes, and when he is maimed while rescuing a prince, Brute’s life changes abruptly. He is summoned to serve at the palace in Tellomer as a guard for a single prisoner. It sounds easy but turns out to be the challenge of his life.

Rumors say the prisoner, Gray Leynham, is a witch and a traitor. What is certain is that he has spent years in misery: blind, chained, and rendered nearly mute by an extreme stutter. And he dreams of people’s deaths—dreams that come true.

As Brute becomes accustomed to palace life and gets to know Gray, he discovers his own worth, first as a friend and a man and then as a lover. But Brute also learns heroes sometimes face difficult choices and that doing what is right can bring danger of its own.

  Review

I like everything this romance very much. You can’t ask for a better hero than Brute. It is a joy to see his life improve. His kindness is is heroic

Gray is a great hero too if a kind of redeemed one.

Their love story is sweet.

What I wanted more of was a better understanding of the world, magic systems, and much more couple time.

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.

Bitter Taffy (Candy Man) by Amy Lane Review

   Bitter Taffy (Candy Man) by Amy Lane 4 Stars! 

Rico Gonzalves-Macias didn’t expect to fall in love during his internship in New York—and he didn’t expect the boss’s son to out them both and get him fired either. When he returns to Sacramento stunned and heartbroken, he finds his cousin, Adam, and Adam’s boyfriend, Finn, haven’t just been house-sitting—they’ve made his once sterile apartment into a home.

When Adam gets him a job interview with the adorable, magnetic, practically perfect Derek Huston, Rico feels especially out of his depth. Derek makes it no secret that he wants Rico, but Rico is just starting to figure out that he’s a beginner at the really important stuff and doesn’t want to jump into anything with both feet.

Derek is a both-feet kind of guy. But he’s also made mistakes of his own and doesn’t want to pressure Rico into anything. Together they work to find a compromise between instant attraction and long-lasting love, and while they’re working, Rico gets a primer in why family isn’t always a bad idea. He needs to believe Derek can be his family before Derek’s formidable patience runs out—because even a practically perfect boyfriend is capable of being hurt.

 


Reviews

This is a lovely romance about a heartbroken hero with family issues and a wonderful man.

The circle around these two is half the goodness in the book. We also have a great dog and cat.

The drama level with the family is pretty high but the love between the cousins is powerful.

There are large slices of weird, funny, and too good to be true here but I really enjoyed this love story overall and can’t wait to read the rest of the series.

How To Be A Normal Person by T.J. Klune Review

  How to Be a Normal Person by T.J. Klune 4.5 Stars!!!

Gustavo Tiberius is not normal. He knows this. Everyone in his small town of Abby, Oregon, knows this. He reads encyclopedias every night before bed. He has a pet ferret called Harry S. Truman. He owns a video rental store that no one goes to. His closest friends are a lady named Lottie with drag queen hair and a trio of elderly Vespa riders known as the We Three Queens.

Gus is not normal. And he’s fine with that. All he wants is to be left alone.

Until Casey, an asexual stoner hipster and the newest employee at Lottie’s Lattes, enters his life. For some reason, Casey thinks Gus is the greatest thing ever. And maybe Gus is starting to think the same thing about Casey, even if Casey is obsessive about Instagramming his food.

But Gus isn’t normal and Casey deserves someone who can be. Suddenly wanting to be that someone, Gus steps out of his comfort zone and plans to become the most normal person ever.

After all, what could possibly go wrong?

 

Review

 So, it looks like TJ Klune will just be getting all my money. I love discovering a new to me writer that is this good. My bank account has other feelings.

The comic pacing and imagination of this book amazes. There is such much fun and detail.

If you don’t like quirky characters, don’t read this. Every character in the book is quirky turned to 11 even the albino ferret. I delight in zane and oddball and here me roar so I was clapping with glee but they are all very strange, bright, and complexly human. Love me an old lady Vespa gang.

But under all the silly, quirk, and randomness is a very tender love story about friendship, grieving a partner, and being odd and human.

The fact that one of our heroes is asexual is thoughtfully explored and the other hero’s relationship with his beloved father is everything.

I did wish for just a bit more in terms of getting an epilogue or just more HEA but really this is the most endearing book and I can’t wait to reread it.

Someone Else’s Love Story (Shandi Pierce #1) by Joshilyn Jackson Review

  Someone Else’s Love Story by Joshilyn Jackson 4 Stars! 

Shandi Pierce is juggling finishing college, raising her delightful three-year-old genius son Nathan, aka Natty Bumppo, and keeping the peace between her eternally warring, long-divorced parents. She’s got enough complications without getting caught in the middle of a stick-up and falling in love with William Ashe, who willingly steps between the robber and her son.

Shandi doesn’t know that her blond god Thor has his own complications. When he looked down the barrel of that gun he believed it was destiny: It’s been one year to the day since a tragic act of physics shattered his world. But William doesn’t define destiny the way others do. A brilliant geneticist who believes in facts and numbers, destiny to him is about choice. Now, he and Shandi are about to meet their so-called destinies head on, making choices that will reveal unexpected truths about love, life, and the world they think they know.

Review

There is a so much to love about this b0ok. The lyrical writing, amazing characters, details of place and time.

This isn’t a romance really (exactly) as the actual couples (there are two) spend most of the book apart but we do get Happily Ever Afters that are well earned,

Our hero is a brilliant neurodivergent and utterly wrecked with grief and rage. We get his love story in flashback. He is the king of romantic gestures and has an amazing bestie.

The heroine is much younger (and not his heroine it will turn out. Not a spoiler! The title gives this away). You have to read the book to get her story (cause that would be a spoiler) but the writer has a very interesting exploration of a pile of topics with her. You may or may not like it but it will make you think.

I wish her love story had been given more page time and after time. I am a romance reader and I want my romance. lol

It is a great book with a lovely ending.

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!

Shade’s Lady (Reapers MC, #6.5) by Joanna Wylde Review

 Shade’s Lady: A Reapers MC Novella by Joanna Wylde 

Looking back, none of this would’ve happened if I hadn’t dropped my phone in the toilet. I mean, I could’ve walked away from him if I’d had it with me.
Or maybe not.
Maybe it was all over the first time he saw me, and he would’ve found another way. Probably—if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that Shade always gets what he wants, and apparently he wanted me.
Right from the first.

 

Review

Wylde always writes solid books. The basic story and events are intersting as is the hero and the heroine.

It is over the top lust and moves into a possible love.

However, even in this short space, we don’t get enough (excecpt for one great geeky Wonder Woman Bat Man conversation) of either character or the love story to make this great.

A nice quick read. It does make me want to check out the longer books in the series I have not read and I would like Dopey’s story.

Heart Fate (Celta’s Heartmates, #7) by Robin D. Owens Review

 Heart Fate (Celta Series Book 7) by Robin D. Owens 4.5 Stars! 

Wed to a wealthy older man when she was just a girl, Lahsin Yew runs away from her abusive home to find a new life. At seventeen, she?s about to enter her Second Passage, when her Flair?and perhaps her HeartMate?will be revealed.

Lahsin finds sanctuary in a secret garden, where she meets Tinne Holly. Though he is her HeartMate, he cannot tell her, and her troubled past prevents her from trusting any man. Pretending to find her by chance, Tinne helps her through her Second Passage. But when the truth is revealed, can she forgive his deception, and learn to trust in her destiny?

 

Review

This is a tender love story between two young people whose lives have already seen so much suffering.

The hero and the heroine are fated to mates but the heroine’s family marries her off at 14 to an abusive older man. The hero marries someone else and is suffering the effects of a miscarriage an the very rare ending of that marriage.

Tinne and Lashin hurt, heal, and love together. If you have been reading the series, you will be so happy the Tinne’s gets his own book but even if you haven’t this book stands alone as a great romance where respect and care overcomes abuse.

The world building as always is sport on with cultural and magic systems details of the highest order. The dog and the cat and a lonely house are perfect additions and the villain suffers.

A comfort reread for me. Adored.