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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.

Disasterology 101 by Taylor V. Donovan Review

  Disasterology 101 by Taylor V. Donovan 4 Stars!!

Kevin Morrison had it all. A house he worked hard for, a loving wife, and three beautiful children. But it wasn’t until his marriage ended that he realized what the void he’d felt almost all his life meant. Coming out as a gay man at thirty-six is not an easy feat, but he is determined to be true to his heart. Meeting a man who shares his values, and is good with his children would be a bonus, but when the guy arrives in a uniquely wrapped package, and has very specific handling instructions, Kevin needs to decide if he’s up for that kind of love.

Obsessed with order and symmetry, and a paralyzing fear of germs, Cedric Haughton-Disley has lived with isolation and loneliness as long as he can remember. Desperate to be normal, he makes some much-needed changes in his life. If he can commit to his treatment, he might very well be able to procure some quality of life… even if that’s all he can get, as finding love and having a relationship are only possible in Cedric’s wildest dreams. But when a chance encounter leaves Cedric wishing for more, he decides to take a leap of faith, and pursue the guy he wants.

Together the two men make an unlikely match. Cedric needs organization, and Kevin represents chaos. In order to stay together they both need to compromise, but will they be able to deal with Cedric’s issues and the potential disaster, or let it break them apart?

Review

This is a tremendously good book.

At the center of its goodness is the weaving in of topics that don’t often get discussed in romance novels but should. Realistic sex with differing sex drives or interfering issues. The impact of anti depressants which are needed to manage chemical imbalance but play havoc with your sex life.

This is a romance book and like life the sexy times are still hot as hell but they are in context of having other factors and how we manage and don’t mange them.

As over the top as this book is, in terms of Cedric’s wealth and Kevin’s wonderfulness, at the heart of that fantasy is a compelling look at intimacy, trust, and vunerabilty.

Kevin, while he doesn’t have OCD, brings his own complications to the relationship with Cedric. Cedric has to figure out how to be Kevin’s safe place as well.

This is a moving and intimate romance with compelling conflicts, great secondary characters and wonderful love story.

Kayson (Kennedy Ink. #1) by Jenny Wood Review

   Kayson (Kennedy Ink.(by Jenny Wood 3 Stars

Kayson Kennedy and his family pack up shop and move to tiny town, Georgia in order to get to know his newly found baby sister.
After the passing of their mother, Kayson and his brother Kingsley are determined to hold on to the only family they have left.
Opening up their tattoo shop in a small, conservative, town; Kayson never imagined he’d find love at all, most especially not right across the street…

Conner Allen owns his own bookstore in a plaza of other small stores, directly across the street from gorgeous, tatted up, Kayson Kennedy. Daydreaming for days about what it would be like to see him up close; his wish comes true when he’s attacked outside of his bookstore by a scared, angry teenager.

Now that the ice has been broken between the two, Kayson realizes he’s pretty smitten with the bookstore owner from across the street…. and his overweight cat, named, Pickles!

What will they do when the threat may not be over? Will the backlash of conservative, small town bigots keep Conner from the real life fantasy, he’s been dreaming about since Kayson moved in across the street? Or will Kayson do everything in his power to make those daydreams a reality?

Review

Okay. This book is a hot mess and ridiculous. But notice I still gave it 3 Stars. Hold on and I will explain.

It needs editing. The author has a little note about that. However, its is crazy sauce. The errors are about plurals and possessives and not about regional speech. I am not a grammar fiend and the errors made my eye twitch so if you have grammar based trauma, please avoid this book. It is really the first few chapters that are terrible and teeth gritting with these issues. Please let a copy editor reach out to Ms. Wood.

There is a both a slow burn and an insta love here. Slow seduction and then WHAM crazy intense love. So, what I am saying it the love story is tonally irregular.

We get the start of a small town gay romance and yay out characters who aren’t commitment phobic. Then, WHAM, crazy stalker/crime action. This is sorta of fun (if that kind of thing can be fun) but again tonal shift in these scenes and we never get back to the fun couple time we were having.

I am promised a lot of cat action. There is some but really I need more hero and cat time.

The reason the brothers move to the town are a little ….far fetched but whatever.

Both heroes are great–not man whores and they really like and value each other.

The circle of friends is good.

The romance just gets jerked around a bit.

Sooooo, far from stellar but lol I will likely pick up the next one and see if the ride is less all over the place.

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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Blackbird Knitting in a Bunny’s Lair by Amy Lane Review

   Blackbird Knitting in a Bunny’s Lair  by Amy Lane 4 Stars!

After three years of waiting for “rabbit” Jeremy to commit to a life in Granby—and a life together—Aiden Rhodes was appalled when Jeremy sustained a nearly fatal beating to keep a friend out of harm’s way. How could Aiden’s bunny put himself in danger like that?

 

Aiden needs to get over himself, because Jeremy has a long road to recovery, and he’s going to need Aiden’s promise of love every step of the way. Jeremy has new scars on his face and body to deal with, and his heart can’t afford any more wounds.

 

When their friend’s baby needs some special care, the two men find common ground to firm up their shaky union. With Aiden’s support and his boss’s inspiration, Jeremy comes up with a plan to make sure Ariadne’s little blackbird comes into this world with everything she needs. While Jeremy grows into his new role as protector, Aiden needs to ease back on his protectiveness over his once-timid lover. Aiden may be a wolf in student’s clothing and Jeremy may be a rabbit of a man, but that doesn’t mean they can’t walk the wilds of Granby together.

 

 

Review

This is a must read if you are a fan of this series. I am so I really liked it.

I will tell you a secret, I don’t love extended same couple stories but this one about Jermey and Aiden really worked for me.

I loved the journey of this couple and the place and people.

This is lovely (despite the use of the nickname boy again). I love how both Aiden and Jeremy come into their full self and into their relationship.

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.

Cover Up (Skin Deep Inc. #3) by L.A. Witt 4 Star Review!

   Cover Up: A Skin Deep, Inc Novel (Skin Deep Inc.) by L.A. Wit 4 Stars! 

After ten years of blissful marriage, Navy Pilot Nate Chandler is divorcing his cheating husband. Single for the first time in years, Nate is numb to all emotion and kisses any chance of another relationship goodbye.

Not only is Nate struggling to get through this divorce, but his body is branded with a permanent reminder of his failed marriage: a matching tattoo with his ex. Searching for a place to cover up his old tattoo, Nate finds himself at the Skin Deep, Inc., where he meets the young and charming cover-up tattoo apprentice, Lucas Brandt.

From just flirty glances to steamy hot encounters, Nate and Lucas dive headfirst into a fling of hookups. But worried that he’ll forever be Nate’s “cover up” rebound relationship, Lucas fears that their love won’t be anything more than just skin deep. What was once just a casual attraction, Lucas now hopes to turn into a real relationship. But will he be able to convince the still tender-hearted Nate to fall in love again?

Review

I  read this in one sitting. I am fan of the series and I hope there will be more books though it doesn’t look like there is another couple teed up.

Lucas is a wonderful hero who is struggling to regain his feet after two divorces and starting his tattooing career. I love the way his bisexuality is presented in the book.

Nate is in the process of getting a divorce. This love story pivots on the question of rebound or not rebound.

It is a lot about loss inherent in a divorce as well. I really liked this part of the book.

The circle of friends is a real treasure in this book as is the tattooing and Navy aspects.

There could have been more depth with the family of the two heroes but overall this is a really nice read from a great series.

Blindside (Blind Faith, #3) by N.R. Walker Review

   Blindside: Mark’s Story (Blind Faith Series Book 3)  by N.R. Walker 3.5 Stars!

Mark Gattison has avoided love and commitment his entire adult life. Not interested in more than a one night stand or a brief encounter in a bathroom stall, he is the epitome of a good time.

Will Parkinson is the guy who defends him, the guy who puts up with him, the guy Mark calls his best friend.

When Will becomes unsettled and a little distant, Mark takes it upon himself to find Will a boyfriend. Not familiar with the concept himself, Mark thinks Will needs someone to make him happy.

What Mark doesn’t know, is that he’s about to get blindsided. He’s about to get knocked off his feet by the one thing that’s been right in front of him the entire time.

Review

This is a major slow burn as through Mark and Will are best friends and we get a lot of couple time, Mark is clueless for most of the book, has no idea he loves Will and that Will is in love with him and that it is couple time.

We meet Mark in the first book in this series and he is funny, brash and a walking bisexual stereotype of anything that moves. He manages to be super charming and loyal.

He is also clueless and isn’t connected to his feelings to a degree that is a little TSTL but oh well.

Will is a great guy but a bit of a doormat. However, it all works out in the end and we get an epic HEA.

The Weight of It All by N.R. Walker 5 Star Review!

     The Weight Of It All  by N.R. Walker 5 Stars!!

After being dumped by his long-term boyfriend for being overweight, Henry Beckett decides to make some drastic changes. In a vain attempt at getting his boyfriend back, Henry does the most absurdly frightening thing he can think of.

He joins a gym.
Reed Henske is a personal trainer who isn’t sure he’ll ever be ready to date again. He’s sick of guys who are only interested in the perfect body image, never seeing him for who he really is.

As Reed tortures Henry with things like diet and exercise, Henry enamours Reed with recipes and laughter. As the friendship lines start to blur, Henry is convinced there’s no way Thor-like Reed could ever be interested in a guy like him.

Reed just has to convince Henry that life isn’t about reaching your ideal bodyweight. It’s about finding your perfect counterweight.

Review

Bam! It is so rare to find a romance that deals with weight loss in a way that is no body shaming. This love story gets it spot on. It takes about weight for Henry (and Henry only not all people of size) being a way to hide away or not see himself anymore. And we know Reed loves him at all sizes and wants Henry simply to be happy and himself. Yea!

I am often in search of a plain Joe hero and we have it in the oh so funny Henry. I would like it better if Reed wasn’t such a perfect sexy beast but Reed’s history and the burden of those kinds of looks make great plot and character moments so it all works out.

Reed and Henry. Sigh. They are the best! Reed is hot, yes, but more than that he is thoughtful and he adores Henry. Henry, after years in a not great relationship, regains his super awesome self.

The food porn in this one is crazy good and its is all healthy. The heroes just like and and then love each other so much.

Ahhhgggh. I stayed up too late. I love all the little moments of this book. Sweet, sexy, and funny!

Mature Content by Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell Review

   Mature Content  by Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell 4 Stars! 

My life plan is to be brutally honest all the way to the bank. Don’t believe me? I run a popular YouTube channel called TrashyZane, and my claim to fame is oversharing about every aspect of my personal life. Sometimes while tipsy. Not everyone loves my style, but I have a long history of icing out people who can’t handle me. I have no time for judgmental foolishness.

Except, apparently, when it comes to Beau Starr. His channel is the polar opposite of mine, and so is he. Wholesome, inspirational, and clean-cut. Everything about him should turn me off, but when we hook up following a confrontation at a convention, my world flips upside down. Not only does Beau Starr turn me on, he uses the exact combination of dirty talk and roughness needed to turn me out.

But we still hate each other. I think.

 

Review

 

I liked a great deal about this book. Beau and Zane have an intense sexy connection that is realistic and compelling. I like the circle of friends and the exploration of internet fame and communities. The writers do a good job thinking about persona, brand, self, and authentic selves, and the right to privacy. There are some good discussion on the need for varied representation of gayness and I particularly like the rant about gay sex being seen as more dangerous the het sex. Good stuff.

I believe in the romance. This is by far the most erotic of the series and nice work is done thinking about sexual desire as well.

I wish the book had more character details here and there. Zane’s relationships romantic and otherwise in particular.

Beau keeps to a really annoying point of view and allows himself to be controlled for way too long. This time in the book could have been better spent with Zane and Beau in a public relationship.

But there is an epic grovel so that is good.

The series is taking a rest but I can see a number of characters that could use their own stories so I hope it picks up again!