childhood friends

The Other Side of the Roses by R. Cooper Review

  The Other Side of the Roses by R. Cooper 3 Stars!

Sami is twenty-seven and happy to live at home with his family, even if he is a little lonely and dissatisfied with his job at a nursing home. Caring for people is what Sami does. Unfortunately, putting his loved ones first is also part of the reason Sami is single. As accepting as his parents are, he isn’t sure how they’d react if he brought home a boyfriend. So he spends more time than he should dreaming of what might be, and fighting with his younger sister over the perfect sunny spot on the couch. Which is probably why the perfect potential boyfriend chooses that moment to move in across the street.

There’s just one problem—his new neighbor isn’t really new. He’s the son of the woman Sami’s mother has had a feud with for years. Toby and Sami grew up together but were never allowed to say more than a few words to each other despite Sami’s repeated efforts. Quiet, serious Toby was Sami’s first and biggest crush, and everyone knew it—a big part of their reason their mothers didn’t get along. Toby’s mother went as far as planting dozens of thorny rose bushes around her house to ensure Sami couldn’t even see Toby anymore.

But Toby’s mother is long gone, and Toby has no interest in reviving the feud. If anything, he seems determined to end it. Finding out why, and if it has anything to do with the way he looks at Sami, means Sami will have to raise the issue with his family—and dare to step beyond the wall of roses that kept him out all those years ago.

Review

While I was utterly charmed by this funny sweet romance of Sami getting his high school crush of a nieghbor and loved every moment of it, this love story is too short to be satisfying.

There is a cute re meet, a great family, flirting, romantic gesture and then we get to a first date and a yes I like you and then we are done.

Gah. So, much more fun could have been had.

Tied Together (Tied Together, #1) by Z.B. Heller Review

     Tied Together by Z.B. Heller 3 Stars!

Ryan Keller has it all: a great supportive family, friends, and no limit to his self-confidence. Coming out of the closet was not as traumatic as he would have thought. In fact, it was glitter, unicorns and rainbows. Navigating through life isn’t easy for any man, let alone a gay one. Rest assured that Ryan has it handled.

Brandon Ford comes from the wrong side of the tracks. With a dark past, he doesn’t have much going for him, no money, no friends, definitely no charisma, and his family makes people on Jerry Springer look like total winners. Life can’t be worse—until it becomes unbearable.

When Ryan helps Brandon out of a bad situation, chemistry sparks between them. Only Brandon has one problem: He’s hiding in the closet with no way of finding his way out.

After years apart, Ryan run’s into Brandon as he has his head in-between his friend’s lady business to deliver her baby. This spells emotional turmoil for both Ryan and Brandon. Can years of resentment and bad feelings pull them apart or force them to work on their relationship so they can end up Tied Together.

Review

I loved Sex Ed by this writer so I thought I would try her back list.

This is the story of the uncles in that book and it takes place over many years. I think it would have been a richer book if it open with the scene of Ryan and Brandon meeting as adults and then just referencing their.

It would have been a stronger love story for me to have them come together as healthy grown ups. Instead, this part of the romance is smooshed (with a great epilogue) and we spend a great deal of time with the heroes as very young and very dumb. lol

I still like them.

Home Again (Home #1) by Cardeno C. Review

     Home Again  by Cardeno C. 2.5 Stars

Imposing, temperamental Noah Forman wakes up in a hospital and can’t remember how he got there. He holds it together, taking comfort in the fact that the man he has loved since childhood is on the way. But when his one and only finally arrives, Noah is horrified to discover that he doesn’t remember anything from the past three years.

Loyal, serious Clark Lehman built a life around the person who insisted from their first meeting that they were meant to be together. Now, years later, two men whose love has never faltered must relive their most treasured and most painful moments in order to recover lost memories and secure their future.

Review

Gah. This is a really weird book. Uncomfortable so at times.

I wanted to read Noah’s and Clark’s story because I had seen them in other books in the series and they are great.

This book is nuts. It is written in the past starring when Noah is 13 years old and Clark is 17. It has instra love (kinda creepy from a 13 year old kid). They don’t do anything until everyone is well of age.

There is a coma, forgiveness, betrayal, brother hateful nut job (who will get his own book), and I kid you not amnesia. Whoo boy.

Clark is just wonderful and smart and good. Noah is actually great too but he does this thing that is not in character. Also, he needs therapy and he would have not have bounced back from his childhood exploits which some may say accounts for his crazy act but I don’t buy it.

The brother is ewww and the time jump in the story makes things really off rhythm.

So, the romance hinges on this one event that doesn’t make sense in terms of character really (or at least I don’t buy it) and then it doesn’t get processed in a real way so the story while with likable characters in deeply in crazy town

Bear, Otter, and the Kid (Bear, Otter, and the Kid #1) by T.J. Klune Review

Bear, Otter, and the Kid (Bear, Otter, and the Kid Chronicles Book 1) by T.J. Klune 3.5 Stars!

Three years ago, Bear McKenna’s mother took off for parts unknown with her new boyfriend, leaving Bear to raise his six-year-old brother Tyson, aka the Kid. Somehow they’ve muddled through, but since he’s totally devoted to the Kid, Bear isn’t actually doing much living—with a few exceptions, he’s retreated from the world, and he’s mostly okay with that. Until Otter comes home.

Otter is Bear’s best friend’s older brother, and as they’ve done for their whole lives, Bear and Otter crash and collide in ways neither expect. This time, though, there’s nowhere to run from the depth of emotion between them. Bear still believes his place is as the Kid’s guardian, but he can’t help thinking there could be something more for him in the world… something or someone.

 

Review

I liked this book much more after I read the sequel. Why? I think the characters are more developed in the second book and looking back at this book I could forgive the things that irrated me, the way I might forgive a teenager for annoying behavior. I will get to those behaviors later.

I picked this series up because I have read TJ Klune before and liked his quirky characters, We get that quirk here in spades with Bear and the Kid and some great side characters but there is a lot of angst as well.

The love in this circle of friends is amazing and Bear’s mile a minute brain and the genius Kid are charming,. Otter is a great romantic lead as well. Nice friends to lovers themes as well as in love with my best friends brother, raising my sibling, age difference, loved forever, and and class difference going on as well.

There is a bunch of drama but it is the kind of drama that comes from being raised in poverty with a neglectful alcoholic parent and being young so it made sense.

The annoying parts of the book were Bear’s hot cold and oblivious relationship with his sexuality and his own feelings. As well a lack of discussion of bisexuality, demi sexuality, or pan sexuality.

This resistance and ping ponging created false drama: the acceptance, denial, lack of communication, freak outs, embracing and running screaming all at the same time. You could say well Bear is young and doesn’t have good role models but that doesn’t explain Otter’s non direct communication or make it less irritating as it went on and on and happened again and again beyond what I thing the characters would honestly do. These moments soured the book in places for me where relationship building and dealing with the fall out of changing connections for everyone involved could have been in its place.

Never the less, I enjoyed the book well enough to read the next one but am happy I bought this one on sale.

Volley Balls (Balls to the Wall #1) by Tara Lain Review

   Volley Balls (Balls to the Wall Book 1) by Tara Lain 2 Stars

A double dose of alpha male might be better than one.

Despite just getting out of an abusive relationship with an asshole alpha, David Underwood’s wandering glance lands on two hot members of the Australian volleyball team on Laguna Beach and gets him harassed again. Still, when the delicious Gareth Marshall proves his interest by coming out to his team, David succumbs to his attraction. But Gareth’s volleyball partner, Edge, who’s equally hot, makes the lovers’ lives miserable.

For Gareth, a lifetime of hiding his orientation—and his attraction—from his best friend, Edge, as well as everyone else around him, adds up to hurt and frustration. David’s the first man to ever compete with Edge for Gareth’s passion. But Edge has secrets of his own, and David’s ex-lover will never be happy without David under his fist. With everything stacked against him, can a gay Laguna man find happiness with an alpha male–or two?

Review

I have liked several books set in this world but not this one.

It was too short for the kind of work it was trying to do: setting up a poly relationship, coming out, dealing with an abusive ex, internalized and then externalize homophobia, friends to lovers, loved forever.

Every move was just too fast.

Married for a Month by Cate Ashwood 4 Star Review

Review:

Married for a Month - Cate Ashwood

Best friends since high school, Chase Bradley and Alec Montero are opposites in almost every way. The one thing they can agree on, though, is that marriage is for suckers.

Everything is going their way until a drunken bet leads Alec and Chase to the altar. Their temporary “I Do’s” aren’t as amusing in the sober light of day when they find themselves thrown into married life and everything that goes with it.

The question they have to ask themselves now is, can their friendship survive being married for a month.

 

Review

This low angst friends to lovers romance was right in the sweet spot with a great fake marriage plot, conflict only based on character, sexy love, and well earned happily ever after. True love. 

A lovely low angst romance that is engaging because of the wonderful relationship and well its sexy. 

I adore a fake marriage plot and the live with each thing and that gets even better when we have to grown men who are best friends for a lot of their lives. They know their sexualities and have rich professionial lives as well as family and friends. They haven’t found love and then, of course it is right there in their best friend. They worry a bit about ruining the friendship but not so long it feels false and then they take the risk. So wonderful.

So, far I have found Cate Ashwood to be a writer’s whose books I can turn to when I just want to be delighted by love and have a cuddle,. Good stuff!

 
 
 

 

 

 

 

Original post:
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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!

Sutphin Boulevard by Santino Hassell Review

Sutphin Boulevard (Five Boroughs Book 1) by Santino Hassell

Michael Rodriguez and Nunzio Medici have been friends for two decades. From escaping their dysfunctional families in the working-class neighborhood of South Jamaica, Queens, to teaching in one of the city’s most queer-friendly schools in Brooklyn, the two men have shared everything. Or so they thought until a sweltering night of dancing leads to an unexpected encounter that forever changes their friendship.

Now, casual touches and lingering looks are packed with sexual tension, and Michael can’t forget the feel of his best friend’s hands on him. Once problems rear up at work and home, Michael finds himself seeking constant escape in the effortless intimacy and mind-blowing sex he has with Nunzio. But things don’t stay easy for long.

When Michael’s world begins to crumble in a sea of tragedy and complications, he knows he has to make a choice: find solace in a path of self-destruction or accept the love of the man who has been by his side for twenty years.

 

Review

Santino Hassell is a wonderful writer with great dialogue, great turns of phrase, and intersting characters.

That said, I could not settle into this book. I wanted to wack Micheal up side the head so often. I wanted him get get it together much earlier in the book so the real work of a real relationship could begin.

I am very interested in his brother’s book but this book and its angst on high just irrated me.

Virgin (A Real Man, 2) by Jenika Snow Review

 Virgin (A Real Man, 2)  by Jenika Snow 3 Stars! 

She’s the only one he’ll ever want.
He is the first boy she fell in love with.
Quinn
I met Isabel when I was ten.
I fell in love with her before I even knew what that meant.
I knew from the moment I saw her she was it for me. No one else compared to her, and I’d do anything to make her mine. But I was afraid of losing the friendship we have, so I’ve kept my mouth shut.
But she’s leaving me, and I know I can’t keep how I feel inside any longer.
Saving myself for the girl I love isn’t a hardship, but it’s something I’m proud of. When it comes to Isabel, giving her my virginity, and making her see we belong together, is all that matters.
Isabel
Quinn is like the other half of my soul, the one person I can talk to about anything. He has the bad boy thing going on but is also respectful as much as he is a rebel.
He is the first and only boy I will ever love.
Being forced to move across the country, and leave him behind, is like leaving a piece of myself in the process. But telling Quinn I am madly in love with him could put a strain on our friendship. I don’t know if that’s something I could handle or risk.
Quinn
Nothing can keep me from Isabel. She is it for me, and I mean that in every conceivable way. Nothing can keep me from her. I hope she’s ready because there isn’t anything or anyone that will stop me from having her as mine.

Review

This is an erotica read with a fierce sweet alpha who happens to be saving himself for the woman he loves.

I like that this series is set in working class spaces with economic realities They are a great bit of completely devoted hero fantasy with heroines who are pursuing their dreams.

Nice epilogue for a for sure HEA.

Childhood Friends/Nemesis to Lovers in Contemporary Romance

There is a real joy in finding romantic love with a friends. The friends to lovers there has a special sparkle when the couple has know each other for a long time particularly as childern.  The leads must see each other as more complex than they every have before and that makes for a great love story.

Here are some of my favorite Contemporary Romance Novels that do this theme of childhood friends to lovers right.

 All for You (Paris Nights Book 1) by Laura Florand

Some crushes aren’t meant to be.

When her older brother’s best friend left to join the Foreign Legion, eighteen-year-old Célie moved on to make a life for herself as a Paris chocolatier. Now, five years later, the last thing she needs is another man to mess up her happiness.

Let alone the same man.

But five years in the Foreign Legion is a long time for a man to grow up, and a long time to be away from the woman he loves.

Especially when he did it all for her.

Half strangers, more than friends, and maybe, if Joss Castel has his way, a second chance…

 Rock Chick by Kristen Ashley

Indy Savage, cop’s daughter, rock chick and used bookstore owner, has been in love with Lee Nightingale, once bad boy, now the man behind Nightingale Investigations, since she was five years old. No matter what ingenious schemes Indy used to capture his attention, Lee never showed an interest and Indy finally gave up. Now Indy’s employee, Rosie, has lost a bag of diamonds and bad guys are shooting at him. When Indy gets involved, Lee is forced to help. Complicting matters, Lee has decided he’s interested, Indy’s decided she’s not. But she can’t seem to keep Lee out of her life when she’s repeatedly stun gunned, kidnapped and there are car bombs exploding (not to mention she’s finding dead bodies).

Indy’s best bet is to solve the mystery of the diamonds before Lee. Lee’s challenge is to keep Indy alive and, at the same time, win back her heart.

 

Truth or Beard (Winston Brothers Book 1) by Penny Reid

Beards, brothers, and bikers! Oh my!
Identical twins Beau and Duane Winston might share the same devastatingly handsome face, but where Beau is outgoing and sociable, Duane is broody and reserved. This is why perpetually level-headed Jessica James has been in naïve and unhealthy infatuation with Beau Winston for most of her life. Whereas Duane and Jessica have always been adversaries. She can’t stand him, and she’s pretty sure he can’t stand the sight of her…
But after a case of mistaken identity, Jessica finds herself in a massive confusion kerfuffle. Jessica James has spent her whole life paralyzed by the fantasy of Beau and her assumptions of Duane’s disdain; therefore she’s unprepared for the reality that is Duane’s insatiable interest, as well as his hot hands and hot mouth and hotter looks.
When Jessica finds herself drawn to the man who was always her adversary, how much of her level-head heart is she willing to risk?

Three Little Words (Fool’s Gold Book 13) by Susan Mallery

Isabel Beebe thinks she’s cursed in the romance department. Her teenage crush, Ford Hendrix, ignored all her letters. Her husband left her for another…man. So Isabel has come home to dust off her passion for fashion and run the family bridal shop until her parents are ready to sell it. Then she’ll pursue her real dreams. At least, that’s the plan, until sexy, charming Ford returns and leaves her feeling fourteen all over again…..

Seeing Isabel all grown-up hits bodyguard trainer Ford like a sucker punch. Back when heartbreak made him join the military, her sweet letters kept him sane. Now he can’t take his eyes—or his lips—off her. The man who gave up on love has a reason to stay in Fool’s Gold forever—if three little words can convince Isabel to do the same.

 

 

 Seducing Cinderella (A Fighting for Love Novel Book 1) by Gina Maxwell

Mixed martial arts fighter Reid Andrews’s chance to reclaim his title as light heavyweight champ is shattered when he’s injured only months before the rematch. To make sure he’s healed in time, his trainer sends him to recuperate under a professional’s care–Reid’s best friend’s little sister, all grown up.

Disorganized and bookish Lucie Miller needs some professional help of her own. She’d do anything to catch the eye of a doctor she’s crushed on for years, so when Reid offers seduction lessons in exchange for 24/7 conditioning for the biggest fight of his career, Lucie jumps at the chance.

Soon Reid finds himself in the fight of his life…winning Lucie’s heart before she gives it to someone else

 To Do List (Bettencourt Brothers Book 1) by Lauren Dane

Belle Taylor’s life, the one she’s worked for meticulously since before she’d even graduated high school had turned out exactly as she’d hoped. And it exhausted her in ways she’d never even known to expect.

She needs to re-evaluate her future, find a way to do what she loved but still have the time and energy for things other than work. So she heads home for the holidays, where she can rest and get her head together.

Rafe Bettencourt was most assuredly not an item on Belle’s to-do list and yet, when her older brother’s best friend kissed her under the mistletoe, Belle finds herself with another set of goals to balance what she’d thought she wanted.

Rafe has loved Belle from afar for years and when he runs into her the night she comes back to Davis, he realizes he’s done waiting around and it was time to make a move. He’s got to help her see she can have a life that includes more than just her job and that she could do it with him at her side.

 

Want more great Friends to Lovers Romance? Check out my Showcase of this theme: Best Friends to Lovers in Romance Novels.