difficult parent

Heart of the Game by Rachel Spangler Review

Heart of the Game by Rachel Spangler  4 Stars! 

Sometimes baseball is just a metaphor for life, and sometimes it works the other way around. All Sarah Duke ever cared about was baseball, and she’s finally earned her shot as a full-time sports writer. She loves the work, she loves being one of the few women to ever gain access to a man’s world, but most of all, she loves the game. When Duke meets Molly Grettano and her two sons at the ballpark, she instantly connects with the young family, but Molly isn’t sure Duke’s ready for something more. Molly wants someone softer, more feminine, and more importantly, someone steady. She and her boys have been abandoned before, and she’s vowed to never to put them in that position again. If she were ever to trust anyone, it would have to be someone fully dedicated to her and her children. Duke has a lot of heart, but neither woman is sure there’s enough room left in it for anything other than baseball.

Reviews

5 Stars for the Baseball and 3 Stars for the Romance.

If you love baseball, you have to read this book. Even if you don’t love the sport, you should read this book. This story is such a love letter to the game. I adore reading about anyone’s passions and the writing here is just exquisite when it ponders baseball.

The setting is mainly in Busch Stadium where one heroine (Molly) is season ticket holder and takes her sons and the other heroine (Duke) is a sports writer.

The child characters are so well drawn.

I love Duke. Molly doesn’t thrill me and I have little idea why Duke is so gone on her but that (not knowing why someone is into someone) happens to me in real life too so I can let that go.

The love story is pretty achy for a ton reasons but all the reasons are based on well developed character foibles. We get a nice happy ending and a lot of great baseball.

I will for sure being reading by this writer!

Playing for Keeps (Glasgow Lads Book 1) by Avery Cockburn Review

    Playing for Keeps by Avery Cockburn 3.5 Stars! 

Fergus Taylor is damaged goods. Reeling from a brutal breakup, he’s determined to captain his LGBT soccer team out of scandal and into a winning season. For that, he needs strict rules and careful plans. He does NOT need a brash, muscle-bound lad messing with his head and setting his body afire.

John Burns has a rule of his own: Don’t get attached. Boyfriends are for guys with nothing to hide. Nobody—not his university mates, not the men he beds—knows his family’s shame. Now his double life is starting to unravel, thanks to a certain Highlander whose storm-riddled eyes turn John inside out, who wears a kilt like he was born in it.

Fergus is the first man John wants to share his secret with—but he’s the last man who could handle it. John knows the truth would shatter Fergus’s still-fragile heart. But how can he live a lie when he’s falling in love?

Review

This is my first book by Avery Cockburn but it won’t be my last.

I love the idea for the series which is an  LGBTQA soccer team in Scotland. The series has a lads title but I hold the lassies get a series as well.

I expected the book to be a bit lighter than it was but the angst here is well down and powerful.

This is an inter faith star crossed lovers romance more than the heartbroken romance that that the blurb conveys.

The love story deals with the tensions between Protestants and Catholics in current Scotland and it also deals with refugees from hate coming to Britain (though not in its leads characters though I hope the series will one day)

I don’t want to give too much away but it is a compelling love story and super hot as well. We get kilts. Grrr.

The love is a bit rushed but the heroes form a deep like as well as lust and secondary characters are great.

Rising Tides: Chesapeake Bay Saga Review

   Rising Tides by Nora Roberts 3.5 Stars! 

Ethan Quinn is a waterman. He wasn’t born to the tradition but has embraced it. He’s a quiet man whose heart runs as deep as the waters he loves. And now, with his father gone, Ethan is determined to make the family boatbuilding business a success. But amidst his achievements lie the most important challenges of his life…

There’s a young boy who needs him, and a woman and child he loves but never believed he could have. To shape his life around them, Ethan must face his own dark past—and accept not only who he is but what he hopes to become.

Review

I am often amazed when I read a Nora Roberts book. The opening of this book is just so lovely in terms of place, feeling, and character. How does she do this so prolifically?

I love that Ethan is a working class hero and so devoted to his family. The loved forever theme is a fun one and Grace is great as well.

Roberts writing shines but I am kept from falling in love with this book because I want to send Ethan to therapy and want what happens at the end of the book to occur in the middle of the book so that we get a love story of acknowledged equals rather than 95% of the story with Ethan doing what he thinks is best instead of evolving.

Finding Your Feet (Toronto Connections Book 2) by Cass Lennox Review

    Finding Your Feet  by Cass Lennox 3.5 Stars! 

While on holiday in Toronto, Evie Whitmore planned to sightsee and meet other asexuals, not audition for a dance competition. Now she’s representing Toronto’s newest queer dance studio, despite never having danced before. Not only does she have to spend hours learning her routine, she has to do it with one of the grumpiest men she’s ever met. Tyler turns out to be more than a dedicated dancer, though — he might be the kind of man who can sweep her off her feet, literally and figuratively.

Tyler Davis has spent the last year recovering from an emotionally abusive relationship. So he doesn’t need to be pushed into a rushed routine for a dumb competition. Ticking major representation boxes for being trans and biracial isn’t why he went into dance. But Evie turns out to be a dream student. In fact, she helps him remember just how good partnering can be, in all senses of the word. Teaching her the routine, however, raises ghosts for him, ones he’s not sure he can handle.

Plans change, and people change with them. Learning a few steps is one thing; learning to trust again is another entirely.

 

Review

This is a sweet romance that has a New Adult feel to it even though the leads are in their mid twenties.

The cast of characters is lovely and the idea of being together for a dance competition is cool.

The hero’s past relationship haunts him a bit and heroine is struggling to become fully herself. They are super cut. I love how they represent a new generation widening the orientation, gender, and sexuality perceptions. The way the writer handles this facets of the hero and heroine as just facets is refreshing.

There is unneeded drama towards the end the cuts into couple time along with lack of communication (which is why this book feeling more New Adult than it actually is) that drags on the romance but overall a good read.

I am excited to read other books in this series.

Blue Days (Mangrove Stories, #1) by Mary Calmes Review

Review:

Blue Days -  Mary Calmes

Falling for a coworker is rarely a good idea, especially for a man getting a last chance at salvaging his career. But from the moment Dwyer Knolls sees the beautiful but socially awkward Takeo Hiroyuki, he seems destined to make bad decisions.

 

Takeo’s life is a string of failed attempts to please his traditional Japanese father. Unfortunately, succeeding in business turns out to be just as difficult for Takeo as changing from gay to straight. In fact, the only thing Takeo seems to truly excel at is taking notice of Dwyer Knolls.

 

When Dwyer and Takeo head to Mangrove, Florida on a real estate buying trip, their tentative friendship combusts and becomes much more. Is their sudden connection real enough to bank their futures on, or should they chalk the whole thing up to the daze inspired by the blue ocean breeze?

 

Review

 

This is a very sweet slow burn romance. I love a socially awkward hero and we get that in every way while have the fun of a stunningly attractive man and great friends to lovers story. 

They sort of combust which is fun. However, this love story had a ton of places it could have been richer with Japanese culture and LGTBQ issues for example and we know nearly nothing of one the hero’s past romantic life. 

Sex is pretty much off page but not totally and I wanted more after such a build up. 

The epilogue is awesome but more couple time would have been great. 

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Beta Test by by Annabeth Albert Review

  Beta Test (#gaymers Book 2) by Annabeth Albert 4 Stars! 

Brilliant graphic designer Ravi Tandel is ahead of the game—he’s just been asked to present a top secret project at a huge conference in Seattle. All systems are go…until he learns his buttoned-up office nemesis is coming along for the ride.

Tristan Jones isn’t really the gamer type, but he knows the back end of the video game business inside out. Together, he and Ravi will give an awesome presentation. If they survive the cross-country trip first.

Tossed together in close quarters, Ravi’s shocked to see Tristan’s sexy, softer side emerge from such a conservative shell. He’s less shocked to learn his handsome colleague’s prominent family would never support an out-and-proud son. But Ravi didn’t struggle through his own coming out to hide who he is now. To be together, Tristan will have to push past his fear and ultimately decide: Does he want a future with Ravi? Or is it game over before they’ve even begun?

 

Review

I am becoming a huge fan of Annabeth Albert! I have no doubt by the end of the year I will have read her entire backlist and being eagerly waiting for her next book.

This is another character driven book which is my favorite. It stars heroes we don’t understand very well at first but become more and more vulnerable and complex as the book moves on. I end up adoring both of them.

There are a few details I would have liked to spend more time with like Tristian panic attack early in the book but everything else in the romance is so detailed and lovely.

A super sexy opposites attract road trip office romance that deals with family obligations and the baggage left over from past relationships.

Such a wonderful read.

One True Pairing by Cathy Yardley Review

    One True Pairing   by Cathy Yardley  3 Stars!

They couldn’t be more opposite, the Hollywood actor and the hometown girl, but all they need is a little convention magic to become the perfect ship in Cathy Yardley’s One True Pairing.

Jake Reese needs a decoy girlfriend. Fast. The lead actor of the popular TV show, Mystics, is tired of losing his shirt to overeager fans. Literally. Which is why a chance meeting with gothabilly bookworm-slash-barista Hailey Frost seems almost too perfect to be true. Hailey is not impressed with his TV fame and is desperate to save her family’s bookstore. It’s a match made in Hollywood, but as the two pretend to date, fan fiction becomes reality. Can this OTP become canon?

Review

I love Cathy Yardley’s writing. I love it in this book too. Her words just pop off the page.

She creates great characters. Jake is such a lovely sexy human. Halley is fierce and loyal and funny.

My favorite parts of the book are the most feminist ones. Yardley does a great job thinking about the small oppressions and aggressions on selfhood and imagine a world in which the heroine calls them sees them and calls them all out. Loved it.

She is sexually assertive and clear about her sexual needs. She calls Jake out when he tries to “do” for her when she can handle things herself or it really isn’t his business.

Jake is reflective and apologies. He has never been told these things and really processes what she says. That is hot. There is also a good bit that deals fandom and the objectification of Jake.

I love Haley’s sisters and Jake’s fellow actors. I adore pretend dating plots though really they just should have dated.

However, the rest of the plot was wonky, tired, and unneeded, I don’t want to give out spoilers but it would have been a much better book if it stayed with the basic conflicts and not pour all the extra sauce on.

I am really interested in the sisters getting books and I will read them happily.

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

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!

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.

Listen to the Moon (Lively St. Lemeston #3) by Rose Lerner Review

Listen To The Moon (Lively St. Lemeston #3)  by Rose Lerner 4.5 Stars!!

John Toogood dreamed of being valet to a great man…before he was laid off and blacklisted. Now he’s stuck in small-town Lively St. Lemeston until London’s Season opens and he can begin his embarrassing job hunt. His instant attraction to happy-go-lucky maid Sukey Grimes couldn’t come at a worse time. Her manners are provincial, her respect for authority nonexistent, and her outdated cleaning methods-well, the less said about them, the better. Behind John’s austere façade, Sukey catches tantalizing glimpses of a lonely man with a gift for laughter. Yet her heart warns her not to fall for a man with one foot out the door, no matter how devastating his kiss. Then he lands a butler job in town-but there’s a catch. His employer, the vicar, insists Toogood be respectably married. Against both their better judgments, he and Sukey come to an arrangement. But the knot is barely tied when Sukey realizes she underestimated just how vexing it can be to be married to the boss… Warning: Contains a butler with a protective streak a mile wide, and a maid who enjoys messing up the bed a whole lot more than making it.

 

Review

Oh this is so good!

A non London set Regency romance about a valet/butler and a maid. The themes are wonderful–opposites attract, marriage of convince to a much older man.

The characters are both lonely and charming with their own complex lives that come together.

The historical detail of holidays, food, class, women’s and servant’s rights in a small village are perfectly explored.

And it is very sexy. The banter and writing fierce and well paced.

There was some needless angst for me that took a little shine of the love story but overall all a really joy for any romance reader.

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