difficult parent

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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Stuff (The Bristol Collection, #2) by Josephine Myles Review

   Stuff (The Bristol Collection Book 2) by Josephine Myles  4 Stars! 

Tobias “Mas” Maslin’s doesn’t need much. A place of his own, weekends spent clubbing, and a rich boyfriend for love and security. Pity his latest sugar daddy turns out to be married with kids. Mas wants to be special, not someone’s dirty little secret.

When he loses his job and his flat on the same day, Mas’s world starts unravelling… until he stumbles across a down-at-heel vintage clothes shop. Now he just needs to convince the delightfully shy owner he’s in need of a new salesman.

Perry Cavendish-Fiennes set up Cabbages and Kinks solely to annoy his controlling father. He’d much rather spend every spare moment on his true passion, art. That is until Mas comes flaming into his life, talking nineteen to the dozen and turning his world upside down.

Against his better judgment Perry offers Mas a job and a place to live, but it turns out he should have listened to his instincts. The shop is already financially on the brink, and Mas’s flirting makes him feel things he’s never felt for a man. Yet Mas seems convinced they can make a go of it—in the shop, and together. That is, until Mas’s past starts to catch up with him…

 

Review

This book looks like it might be a rom com because the characters are writ fairly large and quirky as all get out but these is an ache in this book that takes it deeper.

Perry is an artist but a very passive (for the most part) person who let things happen to him and uses inaction to make choices. This is balanced against how very driven and quirky he is at the same time.

Mas is an pretty assertive person who needs much more self reflection and is young and reactive but also very clever and wise. The time with Perry gives time to grow up a bit and soften.

The lack of communication and false drama of misunderstanding hurt my enjoyment of the romance but I love the writing and the characters.

Lip Action (Kiss Talent Agency #1) by Virna DePaul Review

   Lip Action (Kiss Talent Agency Book 1) by Virna DePaul 2.5 Stars! 

Marissa

Appearance is everything to my upper-crust mother, but when she insists I take back my pedigreed-but-cheating ex? I’d rather stab myself with a salad fork. So I blurt out I’m dating someone new. Someone like…that smoking-hot, vaguely familiar guy across the restaurant, who could be the next James Bond.

Turns out he’s the star of my favorite, cheesy, sci-fi soap opera. (Don’t judge me.) One minute I’m fantasizing about Borg and his green-hued abs. The next, Simon Dale is making me an offer my sex-starved body can’t refuse.

Simon

I’m up for a breakout movie role that’ll launch me off the B-list, but I don’t need a script to read the scene between Marissa and her mum. Even though I’m a London gutter rat who never rubbed elbows with a Royal, I easily slip into the role of Marissa’s doting boyfriend. Why? I need a favor in return— a steady girlfriend, just long enough to convince the producers I’ve changed my wild ways.

Trouble is, I’m going all Method on this relationship—and close to losing the one thing that could break me. My heart.

Review

I wanted to like this and the lead characters were likable as was basic plot. I love me some pretend relationship when we only just met.

I don’t mind mad cap rom com either but even though the feels between the leads felt right the plot time line was too rushed, the villains (parents included) teeth gritting simple and annoying, and the sex too fast and out of character.

So, a jump with a sweet connection at the center with a good closing.

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

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.