difficult parent

Exchange of Hearts by N.R. Walker Review

    Exchange of Hearts by N.R. Walker 4 Stars!

Eighteen-year-old Harrison Haddon has grown up alone. Surrounded by wealth, nannies, and material things, all he craves is the approval of his father. Sent away to the boarding school his father and grandfather attended, it’s assumed he will follow in their footsteps from Sydney’s prestigious Ivy League school straight into medical school.

But Harrison doesn’t want to be a doctor.

He dreams of music and classical piano. His only true happiness, his escape from the world expected of him, is dismissed by his intolerant and emotionally detached parents.

Levi Aston arrives from London for a three-month student exchange program. Free-spirited and confident in who he is and what he wants to do with his life, Levi convinces Harrison not give up on his dreams.

But convincing Harrison not to give up on his family might not be so easy.

 

Review

This is as perfect little comfort read about first and lasting love. It stars with a slow burn and then moves into the passion for young adult lives. They are 18 when the books begins.

The heroes are each others first true lovers. It is a wonderful story of making it work, growing up, and being in love.

Heartwarming and sexy.

Played! (The Shamwell Tales #2) by J.L. Merrow Review

   Played! (Shamwell Tales Book 2) by J.L. Merrow 2 Stars

Posh boy Tristan Goldsmith has one last summer of freedom before he joins the family firm in New York—no more farting around on stage, as his father puts it. But the classically trained actor can’t resist when the Shamwell Amateur Dramatics Society begs him to take a leading role in their production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. As an added incentive, he’ll be giving private acting lessons to a gorgeous local handyman who’s been curiously resistant to Tristan’s advances.

As a late-diagnosed dyslexic still struggling with literacy, Con Izzard’s never dared to act before. With arrogant yet charming Tristan helping him with his lines, he finally has his chance to shine. But Con’s determined not to start a romance with a man he’s convinced only wants a casual fling.

Tristan’s never been one to back down from a challenge, especially when he realises his attraction to the tall, muscular handyman isn’t just physical. Just as he thinks he’s finally won Con’s heart—and given his own in return—disaster strikes with a slip of the tongue that shatters Con’s trust and sends him running for cover. This show may be over before the curtain’s even opened.

Review

There are some lovely moments in this book but overall its very unsatisfying.

Tristan is not very self reflective, entitled, self centered, arrogant and often cruel. He is 24 not 6 and as an actor one would hope be way more in touch than he is.

I think Merrow sets him up to be a study in unexamined privilege but he but he is mean and so thoughtless his road back to redemption needs to be longer than this book allows. We also have to spend time with his even more awful friends Amanda and that is not a pleasant way to spend an afternoon.

Con is lovely but a bit of a doormat. The rest of the plot is engaging which is why I finished it but Tristan should have had to work harder and longer on his change to get a HEA.

Too Stupid to Live (Romancelandia Book 1) Anne Tenino 4.5 Stars Review

Review:

Too Stupid to Live: Romancelandia, Book 1 - Riptide Publishing, Tobias Silversmith, Anne Tenino

t isn’t true love until someone gets hurt.

Sam’s a new man. Yes, he’s still too tall, too skinny, too dorky, too gay, and has that unfortunate addiction to romance novels, but he’s wised up. His One True Love is certainly still out there, but he knows now that real life is nothing like fiction. He’s cultivated the necessary fortitude to say “no” to the next Mr. Wrong, no matter how hot, exciting, and/or erotic-novel-worthy he may be.

Until he meets Ian.

Ian’s a new man. He’s pain-free, has escaped the job he hated and the family who stifled him, and is now — possibly — ready to dip his toe into the sea of relationships. He’s going to be cautious, though, maybe start with someone who knows the score and isn’t looking for anything too complicated. Someone with experience and simple needs that largely revolve around the bedroom.

Until he meets Sam.

Sam’s convinced that Ian is no one’s Mr. Right. Ian’s sure that Sam isn’t his type. They can’t both be wrong…can they?

 

Review

This isn’t a perfect book but its delightful and if you are a romance novel nerd like I am it is a must read for the meta commentary on the genre, the love of the gerne, and the playfulness Plus, it is a sexy romantic love story.

 

Same and Ian. I love that Ian isn’t attracted to Sam at first because he is shallow but really more because he isn’t attuned to himself yet. A great deal of this book his Ian’s journey to become emotionally connect to himself and others after having lived a closeted life and believed the cultural lies told by hyper masculinity.

 

His journey is moving as his is falling deeper and deeper in love and lust with Sam. I am so happy Ian is already seeking therapy and continues to do so as the plot develops. I love his relationship with his cousin and the developing relationships with the people at his new job.

 

He tries and grows and does great romantic gestures and emotionial bravery and this makes him a wonderful deserving hero for Sam even when he struggles.

 

Sam is everything I love. A nerd, socially awkward bookworm with great friendships and a loving heart. He is super smart and his thinking of the world through romantic novels themes is at once funny, charming, and wise. He is brave and takes risk as Ian learns. Sexy as hell.

 

This is a well plotted book with great charters and love you can believe in. I liked the second book in the series much better after reading this one and can’t wait for a third book.

 

The flaws are slight really. A weird lack of setting in an extra place. Western US not California. We never get to see Same as a grad student, writer, and teacher…just as a reader, friend, and waiter. This leaves some depth out of the novel that matters.

 

This will be a long time comfort read for sure. I am resisting the urge to reread right now!

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Summer Lessons (Winter Ball, #2) by Amy Lane Review

    Summer Lessons (Winter Ball Book 2)by Amy Lane 4 Stars!

Mason Hayes’s love life has a long history of losers who don’t see that Mason’s heart is as deep and tender as his mouth is awkward. He wants kindness, he wants love—and he wants someone who thinks sex is as fantastic as he does. When Terry Jefferson first asks him out, Mason thinks it’s a fluke: Mason is too old, too boring, and too blurty to interest someone as young and hot as his friend’s soccer teammate.

The truth is much more painful: Mason and Terry are perfectly compatible, and they totally get each other. But Terry is still living with his toxic, suffocating parent and Mason doesn’t want to be a sugar daddy. Watching Terry struggle to find himself is a long lesson in patience, but Mason needs to trust that the end result will be worth it, because finally, he’s found a man worth sharing his heart with.

Review

Terry’s and Mason’s love story and individual development are in turns delightful, painful, and tender.

We have age and class difference and in really knowing that a better way of being exists for both of them. They are both use to a certain kinds of the relationship. For Terry, it is simply sexual and for Mason, it has more to do with status or assumed behaviors. They both have to learn to be in a truely loving equal partnerships.

They each have dependents of a sort and the book doesn’t soft sell what it means to love someone who is bi polar or someone who is toxic.

The circle of friends is wonderful and expands. As always I love the Sacromento area setting. There is a secondary romance that I hope gets its own book.

This is a love story you will get more out of if you read the first book in the series. I hope there is more!

Danced Close (Portland Heat, #6) by Annabeth Albert Review

  Danced Close (Portland Heat Book 6) by Annabeth Albert 4 Stars!

Newly clean and sober, Todd’s taken a shine to his job at Portland’s most talked about bakery. It’s not just the delicious desserts they sell, but the tasty treats who keep walking through the door. That certainly includes Kendall Rose, a wedding planner with eyes the color of brown sugar and skin to match. Todd doesn’t try to hide his attraction to Kendall’s elegant confidence and unique style, even as he worries about exposing the secrets of his past.

For Kendall, the attention is just part of the anything-goes Portland he’s grown to love. But he’s still looking for that special someone who will embrace all of him—including his gender fluidity. So he takes a chance and asks Todd to be his partner in a dance class leading to a fundraiser. When the music starts and he takes Todd in his arms, Kendall is shocked at how good it feels.  Turns out taking the lead for once isn’t a mistake. In fact, it might be time to take the next step and follow his heart . . .

 

Review

I love this series and it is best read in order to enjoy it to the fullest.

I really don’t want this to be the last book in the series. I like this world of small business a great deal.

This romance takes on addiction, recovery, and gender but does so with a light and lovely touch.

Both heros has a lot of growing to do and it is a pleasure to witness their individual journeys as will as there one as a couple.

I enjoyed the dancing in this book the most. I love the sneaky skills of the younger hero.

Very good.

Dance With Me (Dancing, #1) by Heidi Cullinan 4 Star Review

Review:

Dance With Me - Heidi Cullinan

Sometimes life requires a partner.

Ed Maurer has bounced back, more or less, from the neck injury that permanently benched his semipro football career. He hates his soul-killing office job, but he loves volunteering at a local community center. The only fly in his ointment is the dance instructor, Laurie Parker, who can’t seem to stay out of his way.

Laurie was once one of the most celebrated ballet dancers in the world, but now he volunteers at Halcyon Center to avoid his society mother’s machinations. It would be a perfect escape, except for the oaf of a football player cutting him glares from across the room.

When Laurie has a ballroom dancing emergency and Ed stands in as his partner, their perceptions of each other turn upside down. Dancing leads to friendship, being friends leads to becoming lovers, but most important of all, their partnership shows them how to heal the pain of their pasts. Because with every turn across the floor, Ed and Laurie realize the only escape from their personal demons is to keep dancing—together.

 

Review

 

This book hovers between 3 Stars and 4 Stars for me but keeps sneaking back up to a 4 Star read.

This book does a relationship really well.

Laurie and Ed have a lot of stuff they need to work out in their own heads and yet they are able to make a wonderful space for each other to have a loving relationship while they heal and grown as individuals. This dynamic makes for a very good romance.

The cover is amazing as is all the dancing in the book. The thinking about failure and self and career is engaging. Ed’s struggle with his new identity as a disable person is powerful. There is a really moving scene about life goals that is so tender and wonderful example of seeing oneself through the eyes of love.

What makes the book less successful isn’t the love story but some dangling threads and just some weirdness.

We get hints that Laurie struggles with sex (its messiness for example but other things as well) and this doesn’t really get addressed or worked through in a way that would be up to the rest of the work Instead, we get a very out of character moment with another couple (not cheating) and really its has an eww factor (on several levels) that really knocked me out of the book. I am not sure why this scene survived the editing of the book.

The Mom stuff Laurie has going on as well as the Dad stuff and business partner stuff is left a mess and maybe it just stays a mess but it felt unfinished.

There other little irritants like that that keep the book from being flat out wonderful.

However, I am glad I read it and enjoyed it overall.

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Hard Wired by Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell Review

   Hard Wired   by Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell 3.5 Stars! 

My FallenCon agenda is simple: sit on a couple of panels and let people meet the real me. Jesse Garvy—mod of a famous Twitch channel and, if I ever come out of my shell, future vlogger. I definitely didn’t plan to sleep with a moody tattooed fan-artist, but he’s gorgeous and can’t keep his hands off me. There’s a first time for everything, and my first time with a guy turns out to be the hottest experience of my life.

But the next day, I find out my moody fan-artist is Ian Larsen AKA Cherry—someone I’ve known online for years. And he’d known exactly who I was while shoving me up against that wall. Before I figure out whether to be pissed or flattered, the con ends.

Now we’re back online, and he’s acting like nothing happened. But despite the distance between us, and the way he clings to the safety of his online persona, we made a real connection that night. I don’t plan to let him forget.

Review

This entry in the series is way more New Adult than the first two books. It handles the issues of breaking loose from young adulthood well and becoming yourself.

It also tackles the idea of online personas and being able to be your whole self.

The romance is all messed up and so are the lives of these two heroes but you root for them and are so happy when they each starting leading better lives together.

The really good parts of this book are in all the little details I don’t want to give away.

In the Middle of Somewhere by Roan Parrish 5 Star Review

Review:

In the Middle of Somewhere - Roan Parrish

Daniel Mulligan is tough, snarky, and tattooed, hiding his self-consciousness behind sarcasm. Daniel has never fit in—not at home in Philadelphia with his auto mechanic father and brothers, and not at school where his Ivy League classmates looked down on him. Now, Daniel’s relieved to have a job at a small college in Holiday, Northern Michigan, but he’s a city boy through and through, and it’s clear that this small town is one more place he won’t fit in.

Rex Vale clings to routine to keep loneliness at bay: honing his muscular body, perfecting his recipes, and making custom furniture. Rex has lived in Holiday for years, but his shyness and imposing size have kept him from connecting with people.

When the two men meet, their chemistry is explosive, but Rex fears Daniel will be another in a long line of people to leave him, and Daniel has learned that letting anyone in can be a fatal weakness. Just as they begin to break down the walls keeping them apart, Daniel is called home to Philadelphia, where he discovers a secret that changes the way he understands everything.

 

Review

 

Whoa. This is a good book. The kind I am going to read again and again.

Rex and Daniel are great nuanced characters. Each chapter reveals more and more about each hero. As their love grows, we love them more.

 

This is romance is a lot about emotional intimacy and being vulnerable. Rex has suffered and so has Daniel. But for all that the book is cheerful and funny as much it is shadowed. Just like life.

 

Dialogue, main character development and setting as well as a cast of characters that make each of these men’s lives full, rich and complicated make this book a joy to read. Watching them fall and love and hope for a live together is a real pleasure. Oh, and it is super sexy too!

 

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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!

Treble Maker (Perfect Harmony, #1) by Annabeth Albert 4 Star Review

Review:

Treble Maker (#PerfectHarmony, #1) - Annabeth Albert

Cody Rivers is determined to be a rock star, but couch-surfing between bar shows gets old fast. Joining an a cappella group for a new singing competition show could be his last chance at real fame—unless the college boy from the heart of the country messes it up for him. Lucas Norwood is everything gothy, glittery Cody is not—conservative, clean-cut, and virginal. But when a twist in the show forces them together, even the sweetest songs get steamy as the attraction between them lights up the stage. Lucas wants to take it slow, but Cody’s singing a different tune—and this time it may be a love song…

 

 

Review

I don’t like reality tv shows much but I am a bit of a fan of competitive singing shows. and I love a bass voice. So… I was in.

I think that this book could have stood to be longer in order to get the characters fuller arcs and in order for choices to be made more slowly but even though I don’t think Lucas would have moved so fast nor do I think Cody would have matured this fast, I really enjoyed the book.

I don’t want to give spoilers but Lucas is in an intersting pickle as to how he acts on what he wants. The idea of not seeing a spectrum of choice and behaviors instead of saint or sinner really is shown in Lucas upbringing. And this is a New Adult romance in terms of the pain of wanting to please your family especially when they are supportive but don’t yet see you as grown.

Cody has the same basic struggle with seeing the nuance and boy does he have trust issues.

Together, they are a sexy sweet couple that I wish only the best.

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