California

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.

Behind the Curtain by Amy Lane Review

  Behind the Curtain by Amy Lane 3.5 Stars! 

Dawson Barnes recognizes his world is very small and very charmed. Running his community college theater like a petty god, he and his best friend, Benji know they’ll succeed as stage techs after graduation. His father adores him, Benji would die for him, and Dawson never doubted the safety net of his family, even when life hit him below the belt.

But nothing prepared him for falling on Jared Emory’s head.

Aloof dance superstar Jared is a sweet, vulnerable man and Dawson’s life suits him like a fitted ballet slipper. They forge a long-distance romance from their love of the theater and the magic of Denny’s. At first it’s perfect: Dawson gets periodic visits and nookie from a gorgeous man who “gets” him—and Jared gets respite from the ultra-competitive world of dancing that almost consumed him.

That is until Jared shows up sick and desperate and Dawson finally sees the distance between them concealed painful things Jared kept inside. If he doesn’t grow up—and fast—his “superstar” might not survive his own weaknesses. That would be a shame, because the real, fragile Jared that Dawson sees behind the curtain is the person he can see spending his life with.

 

Review

I really enjoyed this book. Dawson is a lovely main character. He is so himself and asks for what he wants and needs. His circle of friends is great.

I love the community college setting and the tech side of theater. The issues of virginity and distance relationships are nicely explored here.

Jared is a complex hero and I do wish we had gotten more time in his head. I like him and feel for his pain. The last section books hurts a bit because of the cruelty of others but we come out okay.

We get two secondary romance here. Woo hoo!

A lot more epilogue would enrich. Amber needs her own book, Just saying

Fire Balls (Balls to the Wall Book 2) by Tara Lain Review

 Fire Balls by Tara Lain 3.5 Stars!

Renowned artist Rodney Mansfield stands five foot six, has pink hair, six earrings, a black belt in karate—and a desperate yearning for firefighter Hunter Fallon. But Rod, the Runtback of Notre Dame, knows he’ll never land the beautiful “straight gay” guy, so Rod musters his altruism and helps his more masculine friend Jerry attract Hunter. As if a broken heart wasn’t enough, Rod saves Hunter from a firehouse homophobe—humiliating Hunter in front of his dad!

Hunter lives a dream life—his father’s dream. While he’d like to teach literature in college, read poetry in the sun, and find a strong guy to top him, he fights fires for his dad. Hunter hates flamboyant guys like Rodney. So why can’t he resist him? Maybe it’s time to admit this is one flame he has no desire to put out.

Review

While the writing is a little broad and lacking nuance and detail that would make the book really great, this is a very enjoyable love story.

We have an artist hero with a crush and a firefighter hero who struggles to accept himself fully and give a life for himself.

There is great banter here the plot if a bit fast is well done. The character arcs are a bit sharp and certain major plot evolutions are rushed but there is much to enjoy. I wanted more time with Hunter and Rodney as a couple but what was there was sweet. I will read more books in this series.

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.

Ethan, Who Loved Carter by Ryan Loveless Review

Ethan, Who Loved Carter  by Ryan Loveless  3 Stars! 

By twenty-four, Carter Stevenson has stuttered and ticced his way to debilitating shyness. Although his friends accuse him of letting his Tourette’s dictate his life, Carter moves from Los Angeles to a quiet California town. He’ll keep his head down and avoid people. He doesn’t anticipate his new neighbor, Ethan Hart, crashing into his solitude and forcing him to get out and live.

From the beginning, Ethan makes his love for Carter clear. But he fears Carter won’t see past Ethan’s damaged brain, even though it makes Ethan more attuned to his emotions than most people. For Carter, there’s a bigger issue: he’s been burned by so-called “perfect” matches, and he won’t risk his heart again.

One way or another, Ethan’s determined to show Carter they belong together. Then Ethan receives tragic news. Suddenly he must turn to Carter for strength and support. Will Carter come through when Ethan needs him most?

Review

I have mixed feelings about this one but overall it is sweet book about two new adult heroes whose brains work differently for different reasons falling in love.

Ethan has a brain injury and at times he is too child like for my comfort but might simply be a “my comfort thing.

Carter makes good money doing something I am not sure someone so young would make good money doing and it drives me a little nuts as a fellow beach living Californian. lol

There is a plot twist I don’t want to spoil but something not explored there in term of the thoughts of the participants could have used way more development.

The book has a lovely look at friendships and anger as well.

However, their path to love is sweet and emotionial and I enjoyed this book.

Never Enough by Roxie Noir Review

4.5 Stars!!

It’s a simple enough transaction.
Marisol needs the money, and I need a nice girl to parade in front of the cameras.
No feelings. No strings. No falling for anyone.

I’ve been clean for months, but my record company’s not satisfied. Apparently it isn’t enough to only kick a heroin addiction – they’re insisting that I find a girlfriend as well.

If I don’t, they pull Dirtshine’s massive record deal.

It’s supposed to show that I’ve changed my ways, that I’ve turned over a new leaf, all that rubbish. But I’ve had it with suit-wearing wankers telling me what I’m to do, so I’m on the verge of telling them to go f*ck themselves.

And then she shows up.

Marisol locks me out of my own concert by accident. She’s wearing a suit at a rock show, searching for her lost law school textbook, has no idea who I am…

…and for the first time in years, I’m hooked.

She’s smart, driven, and utterly gorgeous. The sort of girl who earnestly believes in following the rules and hates when others don’t.

I’m a huge rock star, recovering addict, and general f*ckup.

Our relationship is for show, and that’s all. But with every smile, every laugh, and every breathtaking glance at her curves, I want her more.

Two months is all we agreed to. But it’s never going to be enough.

Review

I picked this book up because of my crazy “I can’t get enough Rock Star Romance” problem

It was really, really good. The “oh no I am going to read all this writer’s back list” kind of good.

Noir manages to make me trust her as a Romance writer because she never chooses the easy way out while dealing with fun themes and balance to dark and the light with enough complexity to the characters and the relationship to make for a really satisfying love story worth reading again and again.

The premise of a pretend relationship is silly but I love this troupe because I adore making strangers deal with each other and have to kiss. So sue me. lol

The theme is really well done with the truth of pretend media relationships making if more believable, the hero’s wanting choice in the matter, and the why the heroine agrees. Noir also messes with this theme in inventive ways that make the book a joy.

The Rock Star theme is handled with depth adds realism and conflict and characterization. The hero is in recovery for heroin addiction and it is a struggle. He is newly sober and his past and present and process deeply impact the relationship with the heroine as they would. This is realistic and moving look at what it means to be an addict, the scars of it, and the how it impacts others. I love this part of the book. There are little moments here and there such as Gavin’s relationship with his band mates and something that a new band members does that could have been richer but this aspect of the book is really a treasure.

The heroine, Marisol, is great. I love the nuances of Los Angeles where she as lived all her life (and I have lived there too) that come with her character. The impact of being a child of Guatemalan immigrants, a first generation college/law student, and the complexity of striving is so well done. She is comfortable with her self, very smart, and intellectually and emotionially curious. She often struggles with the right thing to do and does the best she can. I wish her sister and parents were a bit more present in the book and she had a close friend other than the one she is drifting away from but on the whole she is a fully realized person with her own goals and drives and this is why the hero loves her and we do as well.

The book is a slow burn but when they do get together the chemistry is off the hook. It is a super sexy book and yet Noir deals directly with the hero’s sexual past and the conflict around that as well.

There is a well earned happily ever after and I hope we get to stay in this LA World with other books.

Kindred by Octavia E. Butler Review

5 Stars!

Dana, a modern black woman, is celebrating her twenty-sixth birthday with her new husband when she is snatched abruptly from her home in California and transported to the antebellum South. Rufus, the white son of a plantation owner, is drowning, and Dana has been summoned to save him. Dana is drawn back repeatedly through time to the slave quarters, and each time the stay grows longer, more arduous, and more dangerous until it is uncertain whether or not Dana’s life will end, long before it has a chance to begin.

Review

This is the kind of book that haunts you. It seeps into the nooks and crannies of your life and you see events and moments though a new lens.

It looks steadily into the legacy of slavery and doesn’t flinch. We flinch, cringe, and weep as we should.

Bulter, in this time travel love story, tells the tale of humanity when humanity has been denied to others and what that genetic, generational, and cultural memory means to all of the participants.

This book’s heart is individuals and love, weakness, and hate and love again. The romance is more compelling that most any you will read and the history something we should never forget.

Hanging by a Thread (Riley O’Brien & Co., #3) by Jenna Sutton Review

4 Stars!

Thirty-year-old Bebe Banerjee is desperate to get rid of two things: her fiancé and her virginity. Escaping her arranged marriage might be impossible, but she refuses to give her firsts to an entitled jerk who lives on another continent. Instead, she devises a plan that guarantees another man will get her momentous firsts. But she never imagined that man would be Cal O’Brien, the gorgeous heir to the Riley O’Brien & Co. denim empire…

Although Cal has always been fascinated by Bebe’s brilliant mind and beautiful eyes, he’s never pursued her. She can’t stand the sight of him, and every time they’re in the same room, they end up trading insults. Yet when he finds out about Bebe’s bold plan, he makes his move, unaware of her upcoming nuptials. He promises to make her firsts unforgettable, but he doesn’t know how hard it will be to forget her when their arrangement ends.

Review

I knew I was going to love this book and I did.

I loved the Bebe the heroine who is a super smart overachiever. I loved watching her come into her own.

The hero is lovely. They are great together.

The conflicts come from parts of themselves they need to work through as well as some external issues. She has to learn to esteem herself and he needs to come to terms with how careless (emotionially) he has been sex at times and taking for granted the love of his family.

There are all sorts of great details like his car and the book is a bit of a love letter to the San Fransico setting.

They adore each other and the sexy times are hot and do a great job developing the romance.

They were a bit more self deluded than I would have liked in terms of their relationship but that is a minor quibble.

A very good book! I really love Jenna Sutton’s writing.

The Unyielding (Call of Crows #3) by Shelly Laurenston Review

4 Stars!

Stieg Engstrom, Angriest Viking Ever, has got big problems. The human Viking Clans of earth are in danger of being obliterated—along with the rest of the world—and the only one who may be able to save them is a super pain-in-the-ass Crow. Most people annoy Stieg, but this is the one woman he really can’t stand…

Erin Amsel loves being a Crow! Why wouldn’t she when the other Viking Clans are so hilariously arrogant and humorless? She’s not about to let all that come to an end! She just didn’t expect to be shoulder to shoulder in battle with Stieg. Then again, he’s so easy to torment—and also kind of cute.

With the future of the world riding on them, Stieg knows he’ll have to put aside his desperate need to kiss the smirk right off Erin’s face. Wait. What? He didn’t mean that—did he? No! They have one goal: To conquer the idiots. Because nothing bugs Stieg more than when idiots win. If only he can keep himself from suddenly acting like one….

Review

This is a wonderful action packed addition to the series. It does a great job closing one plot arc of the Crows and opening up another even more epic one.

We get the whole cast, lots of action, and a goat. It is funny. I love the hero and I love the heroine.

Mean fierce heroines and taciturn heroes are grand. We even get some shifters in this one.

As much as I loved it, it is short on romance in some ways. We get an epic quest so in that way we have lots of couple time but the falling in love intensity isn’t there. This is okay. The romance still works as an off to the side. I mean it is the end of the world after all and I believe and love this couple.

However, there is a down to the soul thing we sometimes get with Laureston that I miss but this is really good stay up all night reading sexy to the max fun.

I was given this book for my honest review. So, there you have it!