Character Driven

Cherry Pie (Mercury Rising, #1) by Samantha Kane Review

      Cherry Pie (Mercury Rising Book 1) by Samantha Kane 4.5 Stars!!

You can go home again—if you can get a foot in the door.

A year after packing and moving from L.A. to Mercury, North Carolina, John Ford still hasn’t adjusted to the heat. Or to life without his long-time partner. As he fixes up the old house he bought, the quiet becomes his only companion, and he’s content with that—until a deep-voiced stranger plants himself under a tree across the street.

Eight years ago, Connor Meecham left someone behind in that house—himself. Now he’s back to find the man he used to be, before drugs and prison sent his life careening off the tracks. But it’s not his mother’s face peering through the window any more. It’s a man who seems as lost as Conn himself.

When John learns what the house—and the dying town—mean to Conn, he finds himself opening the door to his heart. Just a crack. But it’s enough to get mixed up in a world of emotions as complicated as the recipe for the perfect cherry pie. Where one misstep can turn something sweet and juicy into one hot mess.

Review

Given the iffy title, I wasn’t expecting a great deal out of this book and was really pleasantly surprised.

I knew the love story would hot because Samantha Kane is an excellent erotic writer who uses sexy times to deepen the connection between characters. And the book has that loveliness for sure but this romance is also emotionial rich and sexy.

Many themes are at play here but the one I think is exceptionally well down is returning to your Hometown. Connor as been in recovery for two years and out of prison for more than a year. He decides to go home (its been the the better part of a decade) to reclaim the parts of himself, heal others, and build himself anew. He has to deal with the fact that someone has bought his family home, his mom has passed while he was serving time for possession and selling sex (though the charge was changed to vagrancy), reckon with how the town has changed, pick up old connection, forge new ones and find work. He left town as a golden football star in a small Southern town. He returns as a much better man in recovery, mindful, out about his sexuality and his past.

John is new to town and healing from the grief of losing his partner.

Class, age , and power difference play out in this romance is a powerful and healing way. They are emotionial equals and the joy of this book is in watching John and Connor fall in love and become partners.

The small town stuff is great and there are some wonderful secondary characters.

The writing is superb. Emotionially compelling, realistic (with the fantasy of less homophobia than there might be and John being really rich), and sexy.

Can’t wait for the next in the series.

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.

Unraveling Josh (Ellery College, #3) by Edie Danford 5 Star Review!

Review:

Unraveling Josh - Edie Danford

When the crown prince of bad boys hooks up with his former high school crush, he’s after just one kind of happy ending.

Nick McQueen just scored the perfect hookup—Ellery College ski champion, Joshua Pahlke. What better way for Nick to prove his transformation from high school loser to sexy sinner? He’ll gift golden-boy Josh with the hottest, dirtiest sex of his life and then leave him begging for more.

But his definition of happiness is about to change…

Josh needs to blow off steam. He’s spent years pushing himself in academics and sports, but nagging injuries and career doubts have him craving a new challenge. Nick might be the key—he sure as hell turns Josh’s crank. Josh eagerly rises to the task of winning over moody-broody Nick. But when new love and old secrets change the rules of their game, “winning” takes on a whole new meaning.

 

Review

 

This is a pitch perfect romance with wonderful characters, emotionial intimacy, healing, forgiveness physical trust, self discovery and so much love.

Josh and Nick. The journey they take together is wonderful but just as wonderful is the path they take as individuals. 

Josh might seems to perfect but he is self reflective and struggles with the burden of being so well rounded good in looks, attitude, sports, school that he is often unseen. He also struggles with his own set of issues as we all do.

Nick has crushed on Josh forever and has a lot of unexamined behaviors and painful past. Yet, he is very loving and kind with Josh. I love the different acts in this book and how we see Nick transform and become more himself and his best self not just in his relationship with Josh but to himself and others and even letting go of people that don’t support his better being. 

Josh and Nick together are red hot but also comforting and the time together a joy even in its painful moments.

The writing is lush and each character of the book compelling. A grand read.

I hope for more in the series especially with more difficult characters. 

A joy.

 

 

Original post:
northamericanwordcat.booklikes.com/post/1613922/unraveling-josh-ellery-college-3-by-edie-danford-5-star-review

Blue Mountain (Pack #1) by Cardeno C. Review

    Blue Mountainby Cardeno C. 3.5 Stars!

Exiled by his pack as a teen, Omega wolf Simon Moorehead learns to bury his gentle nature in the interest of survival. When a hulking, rough-faced Alpha catches Simon on pack territory, he tries to escape what he’s sure will be imminent death. But instead of killing him, the Alpha takes Simon home.

A man of action, Mitch Grant uproots his life to support his brother in leading the Blue Mountain pack. Mitch lives on the periphery, quietly protecting everyone, but always alone. A mate is a dream come true for Mitch, and he won’t let little things like Simon’s rejections, attacks, and insults get in their way. With patience, seduction, and genuine care, Mitch will ride out the storm while Simon slays his own ghosts and Mitch’s loneliness.

Review

I tend to like Cardeno C best when the plots are character driven and we get oodles of couple time.

In this Wolf Shifter Romance, we get a badly emotionially scarred Omega wolf hero and a gentle giant (but really fierce with everyone else) Alpha Wolf hero.

Almost all the book is spent with the Alpha Hero giving the Omega Hero time to trust and heal. It is sweet and lovely.

The world building is uneven but it is a nice read.

Jesse’s Diner by Cardeno C. Review

Jesse's Diner - Cardeno C.

Two men with a shared history and a mutual attraction must be honest with themselves and each other so both their dreams come true.

Quiet, unassuming Tanner Sellers spends his time running a diner in Hope, Arizona. Not particularly social, twenty-two-year-old Tanner keeps to himself and enjoys his simple life, but he longs for someone to call his own. In his most secret fantasy, that someone is sexy Steve Faus. But Steve is his friend’s father and mentor’s widower and therefore off-limits.

Despite some challenges, thirty-nine-year-old Steve Faus has had a good life. He’s extremely successful at work, has a great relationship with his college-age son, and lives in a wonderful town. Eighteen months after losing his partner, the one thing Steve lacks is someone to share his life. If Steve is honest with himself, that someone is the young man he has known and cared about for years. Steve and Tanner want one another, all they need is a little push in the right direction to make both their dreams come true

Review

 

Despite, not being a fan of the in love with my son’s best friends trope (at all), this is a really sweet, straight forward romance where two wonderful heroes get what they need in each other.

 

It is a really sweet and hot romance about finding a second chance at love for one hero and getting the one he loves for another.

 

There is conflict but it is all character driven and adds to the intimacy.

Original post:
northamericanwordcat.booklikes.com/post/1588196/jesse-s-diner-by-cardeno-c-review

All Note Long by Annabeth Albert 5 Star Review!

   All Note Long by Annabeth Albert 5 Stars! 

Michelin Moses is a country music star on the rise. With a hit single under his Texas-sized belt buckle and a sold-out concert tour underway, his childhood dreams of making it big are finally coming true. But there’s one thing missing—a promise to his dying mother that he’d find it—him—when the time was right. With a little luck, he won’t have to wait too long . . .

Lucky Ramirez is a hunky boy toy who dances at The Broom Closet, one of West Hollywood’s hottest gay bars. He loves what he does, and he’s good at it—almost as good as he is at playing dumb when he spots Michelin Moses at the bar. What happens next is off the charts—and keeps Michelin coming back for more. He’s just not sure it’s the right move for his career. But if Lucky gets his way, Michelin will get Lucky—and no matter how the media spins it, neither of them will be faking it . . .

Review

M and Lucky. What is not to like?

They are both wonderful, talented, kind, loyal, sexy as hell heroes.

We get a fun pretend relationship trope that is so well managed by the writer with bringing all the joy of this theme with none of its pitfalls.

The work toward equity in this relationship is a joy to see as is M coming to terms with balancing his personality and being out as a famous person.

I love how Lucky recognizes M’s needs and attends to them and how M comes to be a wonderful partner.

Albert writes this romance layer by lovely layer. We get every sexy, sweet, real and hopeful thing fro this love story.

Far from Home (Belladonna Ink, #1) by Lorelie Brown 5 Star Review!

    Far From Home   by Lorelie Brown 5 Stars!

My name is Rachel. I’m straight . . . I think. I also have a mountain of student loans and a smart mouth. I wasn’t serious when I told Pari Sadashiv I’d marry her. It was only party banter! Except Pari needs a green card, and she’s willing to give me a breather from drowning in debt.

My off-the-cuff idea might not be so terrible. We get along as friends. She’s really romantically cautious, which I find heartbreaking. She deserves someone to laugh with. She’s kind. And calm. And gorgeous. A couple of years with her actually sounds pretty good. If some of Pari’s kindness and calm rubs off on me, that’d be a bonus, because I’m a mess—anorexia is not a pretty word—and my little ways of keeping control of myself, of the world, aren’t working anymore.

And if I slip up, Pari will see my cracks. Then I’ll crack. Which means I gotta get out, quick, before I fall in love with my wife.

Review

Hot Goddess Damn. This was such a great book. One of my best of the year, for sure!

It starts kind of the middle of things and we are pretty deep in Rachel’s head so it is a bit disorienting at first. However, this feeling passes quickly and it is easy to give myself over to the exquisiteness of Brown’s writing and her intricately built character driven romance.

Brown plays with one of my favorite theme’s the marriage of convenience. Pari needs a green card marriage to go into business for herself and Rachel needs help with bills to get out from under her student loan debt.

Pari has more power in many ways but she never ever belittles Rachel. I can’t tell you how hot that is. Well, maybe I can. It is volacnic lava hot. Pari is just plain burning sexy anyway as we see her through Rachel’s eyes but she isn’t perfect and that makes her all the more lovely.

Rachel struggle with an eating disorder in the novel. The love story is a detailing of living and loving in recovery and not always winning. This aspect of the book is powerful.

The romance is everything. I don’t want to give anything away but it is no way “gay for you” which makes me a little nuts as a queer person and as reader. I side eye those books hard even though I sometimes read them.

The cast of characters is great as is the SoCal setting. The inter culture aspects of the romance are well done as is a look at late twenties, early thirties living Being deep in Rachel’s POV, we don’t get as much from Prvi as I might like but I think this POV was the right choice for this story.. The plot is well paced, lush, painful, tender, and with a great realistic closing.

I want to reread it and I am thrilled this is a series and I will get to see this couple in other books as their friends have their own stories. I bought the next book and I read this on Overdrive from the library but I just bought my own copy because I know this will be a comfort reread.

So! Woo hoo! A Five Star Read! Happiness!

Covet Thy Neighbor (Tucker Springs, #4) by L.A. Witt Review

   Covet Thy Neighbor (Tucker Springs Book 4) by L.A. Witt 3.5 Stars! 

Opposites attract, but heaven help these two.

Tattoo artist Seth Wheeler thinks he’s struck gold when Darren Romero rents the apartment across the hall. The new guy is gorgeous, witty, and single, plus he’s just the right blend of bold and flirtatious. Perfect.

Except then Darren reveals that he moved to Tucker Springs to take a job as the youth pastor at the New Light Church. Seth is not only an atheist, but was thrown out by his ultra-religious family when he came out. He tends to avoid believers, not out of judgment but out of self-preservation.

But Darren doesn’t give up easily, and he steadily chips away at Seth’s defenses. Darren is everything Seth wants in a man . . . except for that one massive detail he just can’t overlook. Is Darren’s religion the real problem, or is it just a convenient smoke screen to keep him from facing deeper fears? It’s either see the light, or risk pushing Darren away forever.

Review

 

I am really enjoying the Tucker Springs Series which are by different authors and I am a fan of LA Witt’s

Everything in this book I really like. The love story is sexy and the conflict is interestingly explored and I care for each of the heroes.

What I want more of is exploration of the clergy hero’s work life and less of annoying stuff from Seth and lusher resolve.

Good stuff all around!

Served Hot (Portland Heat, #1) by Annabeth Albert Review

Review:

Served Hot (Portland Heat) - Annabeth Albert

n Portland, Oregon, the only thing hotter than the coffee shops, restaurants, and bakeries are the hard-working men who serve it up—hot, fresh, and ready to go—with no reservations…
 
Robby is a self-employed barista with a busy coffee cart, a warm smile, and a major crush on one of his customers. David is a handsome finance director who works nearby, eats lunch by himself, and expects nothing but “the usual”—small vanilla latte—from the cute guy in the cart. But when David shows up for his first Portland Pride festival, Robby works up the nerve to take their slow-brewing relationship to the next level. David, however, is newly out and single, still grieving the loss of his longtime lover, and unsure if he’s ready to date again. Yet with every fresh latte, sweet exchange—and near hook-up—David and Robby go from simmering to steaming to piping hot. The question is: Will someone get burned?

 

Review

 

Sweet and character driven with a dash of hear.

I love Annabeth Albert’s books. I can count on her for great characters and conflict that comes that builds from who the characters are. Love it!

Both hero’s are impacted by their past relationships and it is really a joy to watch them fall in love and work it out.

Very pleasurable read.

 

Original post:
northamericanwordcat.booklikes.com/post/1575848/served-hot-portland-heat-1-by-annabeth-albert-review

Practice Makes Perfect (Housemates, #3) by Jay Northcote Review

     Practice Makes Perfect (Housemates Book 3) by Jay Northcote 4 Stars! 

Getting experience with the guy next door seems like a great idea—until the lines blur.

Dev, a geeky first year physics student, has zero sexual experience and he’s determined to change that ASAP. After a bad time in halls of residence, he’s starting the summer term with different housemates and a new plan of action.

Ewan lives in the house next door to Dev. He’s young, free and single, and isn’t looking to change that anytime soon. When awkward circumstances throw them together, Ewan offers to help Dev out in the bedroom in return for maths tutoring, and Dev jumps at the chance.

They work their way through Dev’s sex-to-do list, but what starts as a perfect no-strings arrangement gets more complicated as their feelings for each other begin to grow. If they’re going to turn their lessons in lovemaking into something more permanent, they need to work out how they feel about each other—before they get to the end of Dev’s list.

Review 

Oh, I love this book. What a joyful romance!

I like the heroes so much. This romance is sexy and equal. There is a little bit of communication problems but those makes sense.

A great ginger hero who is thoughtful and sexy geek. Sigh.