Food

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!

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!

A Second Harvest (Men of Lancaster County, #1) by Eli Easton Review

   A Second Harvest  by Eli Easton 4 Stars! 

David Fisher has lived by the rules all his life. Born to a Mennonite family, he obeyed his father and took over the family farm, married, and had two children. Now with both his kids in college and his wife deceased, he runs his farm alone and without joy, counting off the days of a life half-lived.

Christie Landon, graphic designer, Manhattanite, and fierce gay party boy, needs a change. Now thirty, he figures it’s time to grow up and think about his future. When his best friend overdoses, Christie resolves to take a break from the city. He heads to a small house in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, to rest, recoup, and reflect.

But life in the country is boring despite glimpses of the hunky silver fox next door. When Christie’s creativity latches on to cooking, he decides to approach his widower neighbor with a plan to share meals and grocery expenses. David agrees, and soon the odd couple finds they really enjoy spending time together.

Christie challenges the boundaries of David’s closed world and brings out feelings he buried long ago. If he can break free of the past, he might find a second chance at happiness

 

Review

A lovely romance between a Mennonite farmer and a younger man.

I loved the building of a friendship that allowed Christie and David to fall in love before our eyes. All the details of the farm are wonderful.

David’s life and Christie’s life are full and rich before they meet each other and have powerful impacts on their relationship.

This is a wonderful slow burn romance with a great Happily Ever After pay off that you will root for and believe in.

For Real by Alexis Hall 5 Star Review!

 For Real by Alexis Hall  5 Stars!!!

Laurence Dalziel is worn down and washed up, and for him, the BDSM scene is all played out. Six years on from his last relationship, he’s pushing forty and tired of going through the motions of submission.

Then he meets Toby Finch. Nineteen years old. Fearless, fierce, and vulnerable. Everything Laurie can’t remember being.

Toby doesn’t know who he wants to be or what he wants to do. But he knows, with all the certainty of youth, that he wants Laurie. He wants him on his knees. He wants to make him hurt, he wants to make him beg, he wants to make him fall in love.

The problem is, while Laurie will surrender his body, he won’t surrender his heart. Because Toby is too young, too intense, too easy to hurt. And what they have — no matter how right it feels — can’t last. It can’t mean anything.

It can’t be real.

 

Review

Sigh. So good.

I don’t really love romances that contain BDSM aa a rule and the lean in on the SM part even less so but I do read them because despite by preferences there is some damn fine storytelling to be found in this troupe.

This book. This book might be the best I have ever read with a romance where the couples sexual needs are met through BDSM and the if BDSM were not in the story the character would be less of who they are and the plot of the book would suffer.

This love story is about integration of the self and love.

The age difference and being in very different life stages is exquisitely handled. And not just by the older hero but even more so by the younger hero. I love that Toby has acne. I love it so much. It is pitch perfect in terms of not being “grown” and yet being a full person. Laurie’s non caring about it is also such a wonderful thing because as we age the body’s imperfection tend to matter very little and our love comes from the person who inhabits the body. There is a lot of things that ages lets us let go that Laurie represents.

The other aspect of the age difference that Toby can’t be accepted for who he is (a Dom) because of age. He has other struggles of a 19 year old which drive the plot beautiful but never in the oh god grow up way but in the wow remember so human way.

Laurie is heartbroken which is a common theme in Hall’s books. Oh, and there is poetry and the love story that comes from finding equality and acceptance.

Excellent writing as usual and really gorgeous romance.

Big in Japan: Accidental Sumo by Jennifer Griffith Review

Big in Japan: Accidental Sumo by Jennifer Griffith 3.5 Stars! 

Buck Cooper is big.

So big, in fact, that people don’t see him anymore—not at work, not in his love life. He’s become 300+ pounds of invisible. But when a family situation shanghais this Texan to Tokyo, suddenly being big makes him a spectacle—in a good way, especially when the spotlight at a sporting match lands on Buck and forces him into the sumo ring. Will this accident of fate be Buck’s chance of a lifetime, making him Big in Japan?

 

 

 

Review

The parts of this book that are good are so good that it warrant this high rating. I completely loved the book while I was reading it. However, as I have mulled over the book my enjoyment dims a bit because of some truncated elements of the plot that make it less fulfilling and silly in places.

What I loved: This book takes a deep dive into Sumo culture. I show up for this kind of detailed exploration in my romance novels. Clap my hands and give me a cool drink, I settle in.

Sumo hazing is crazy. I love me some Sumo (yeah not a sentence that most Westerns say but there it is) and was thrilled to to seek out this book based in the world of Sumo. It was really wonderful. The story showcases the sport, the athleticism and the culture.

The setting in Japan through our hero Buck’s (clearly and American) eyes well done. I got very hungry reading this story. All the senses are used to tell the tale of living in a vastly different place than he is use to and it is well done.

His hero’s journey is lovely to trace. Buck is the best person. His motivation are human and he is good without being saccharine. He does the right thing because that is his nature but the writer is gifted at showcasing how hard these choices can be for so many reasons.

The body issues that are explored here are powerfully rendered looking at culture, self worth masculinity, bullying and other nuances.

Buck works hard and is open minded. Love him!

When he falls in love, it is sweet. (FYI this book never gets past kisses which is a nice break from hotter fare).

However, the romance could have been way more developed, They are hardly ever together. We needed more couple time, I really would have liked some of the book from the heroine’s point of view. She remains pretty idolized.

There is crazy side plots of all kinds that are way over the top. Those are sort of fun but need to be balanced with more relationship development.

So, 3.5!

Trust Me (Paris Nights, #3) by Laura Florand Review

 Trust Me (Paris Nights Book 3) by Laura Florand 4 Stars!!

She’s nobody’s damsel in distress…
Top Parisian pastry chef Lina Farah is used to fighting for her success. But when a violent attack shatters her security, she needs a new tactic to battle her dragons. What better way to banish the monsters under her bed than by inviting a sexy SEAL to tangle the sheets?

He’s a professional dragon slayer…
Elite operative Jake Adams has never stayed in one place long enough to form a lasting relationship. Lina’s fire and beauty tempt him to give her the hot affair she craves. But her spirit and courage make him long for more. Can he convince a woman seeking forgetfulness to dream of ever after…with him?

 

Review

Our heroine Lina is recovering  from a terrorist attack which she foiled in the kitchen of her restaurant where she is an acclaimed pastry chef.

Our hero is an American on a black ops team working with the French to prevent such things from happening.

He fell in love with Lina when he witnessed her bravery and her deep caring for her friends oh and she is hot and fierce as well.

The wonderfulness of this book is all the little details like a flower opening that I don’t want to ruin. It is a quiet book that charts the coming to turns with a new reality, two career driven people falling and love, and emotionial healing.

There are moving and complex exploration of war, politics impact of each life, racism, sexism, gender relation all with a deft and gentle hand.

Lina just wants Jake for sex at first and he rightly resents it and I adore that start but I also adore how Lina knows mistakes can be corrected and we all can begin again.

A really lovely read!

PS Jake and his freckles are hella hot

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

Daughters of a Nation: A Black Suffragette Historical Romance Anthology by Kianna Alexander, Alyssa Cole , Lena Hart, Piper Huguley

   Daughters of a Nation: A Black Suffragette Historical Romance Anthology 4 Stars!!

The fight for suffrage was long, hard, and carried out on many fronts.In Daughters of a Nation, a black suffragette historical romance anthology, Kianna Alexander, Alyssa Cole, Lena Hart, and Piper Huguley bring you four novellas full of spirit, hope, and, most importantly: LOVE.

IN THE MORNING SUN by Lena Hart

With the election of 1868 underway, Madeline Asher’s mission is clear: educate and enlist the freedmen of Nebraska to vote. But when Union veteran James Blakemore comes back into her life, Madeline must choose either him and the future they’ve always wanted–or the chance to shape a greater nation.

THE WASHERWOMAN’S WAR by Piper Huguley ​

1881: Mamie Harper, a new teacher at Atlanta Female Baptist Seminary, hears of mistreatment from her washerwomen students and tells them to strike. She re-encounters summer pastor Gabriel Harmon, who has other ideas to help the washerwomen. Will these combatants be able to win in the war of love?

A RADIANT SOUL by Kianna Alexander

In 1881, Sarah Webster returns home to Fayetteville, NC for her mother’s milestone birthday. Her suffrage work is unknown to her family. Carpenter Owen Markham is intrigued by Sarah, and her father is playing matchmaker. When Owen discovers Sarah’s suffrage work, he’s not sure a love match can be made.

LET US DREAM by Alyssa Cole

​Harlem – 1917. Cabaret owner Bertha Hines is focused on women winning the vote, but when ornery chef Amir Chowdhury shows up in her kitchen, he proves to be a delicious distraction. Sparks fly, but between the vice squad and unfair immigration laws, can they hold on to their growing love?

 

 

Review

IN THE MORNING SUN by Lena Hart

This is a lovely reunion romance set in post civil war.

THE WASHERWOMAN’S WAR by Piper Huguley

The history of the washerwomen’s strike is a wonderful backdrop for this compelling romance.

A RADIANT SOUL by Kianna Alexander

A great exploration of women’s rights as the hero falls in love with a great heroine.

LET US DREAM by Alyssa Cole

My favorite of the collection. A fight for suffrage at the cross roads of race, class and gender. This is a compelling inter faith as well as inter racial romance with a tough intelligent heroine and hero who is worthy of her.

Buy this collection!

Wake Up Married Serial, Episodes 1 – 6 by Leta Blake and Alice Griffiths

4.5 Stars!!!

Episode One: Will & Patrick Wake Up Married

After a drunken night of hot sex in Vegas, strangers Will Patterson and Dr. Patrick McCloud wake up married. A quickie divorce is the most obvious way out—unless you’re the heir of a staunchly Catholic mafia boss with a draconian position on the sanctity of marriage. Throw their simmering attraction into the mix and all bets are off!

Episode Two: Will & Patrick Meet the Family

Meeting the family is challenging for every new couple. But for Will and Patrick, the awkward family moments only grow more hilarious–and painful–when they must hide the truth of their predicament from the people they care about most. Throw in the sexual tension flaring between them and you’ve got a recipe for madcap laughs and surprisingly heartwarming feels.

Episode Three: Will & Patrick Do the Holidays

A couple’s first holiday season is always a special time. Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve are magical when you’re in love. Too bad Will and Patrick’s marriage is a sham and they’re only faking their affection for each other. Or are they? Sparks fly in this episode of the Wake Up Married serial. Will the sexual tension between Will and Patrick finally explode in a needy night of passion? Or will they continue to deny their feelings?

Episode Four: Will & Patrick Fight Their Feelings

Will and Patrick have embraced adding hot sexy-times to their fake marriage, but as their emotions deepen, they confront whether or not they want to be more than friends-with-benefits. The heat is high (and occasionally kinky) as Will and Patrick struggle to accept their mutual affection.

Episode Five: Will & Patrick Meet the Mob

Patrick has finally accepted that he’s in love with Will, but his newfound determination to do something about that runs up against his father-in-law’s mobster plans. Will must face the truth about his family before he can fully come to terms with his feelings for Patrick. And Patrick has to decide if this whackadoodle world is something he truly wants to be part of forever.

Episode Six: Will & Patrick’s Happy Ending

Sure, Will and Patrick are in love now, but they weren’t when they got married in Vegas. For Patrick, that’s no problem, but Will can’t shake his doubts that a relationship started through coercion can ever become the real deal. Since the Molinaro crime family has reversed their position on divorce, Will and Patrick have a chance to rectify their drunken mistake. But is divorce the right choice for them?

Review

This book has all the cat nip. It is a sheer joy to read as it plays with tropes through hyperbole and reversals while mixing in powerful psychological depth.

It is at once silly and moving with a grand love story at its heart.

It would have been a 5 Star read for me but its a Serial (I hate them with all my heart) and there is some sex aftermath body stuff that happens repeatedly and is just a bit ewww for me in the way that it is described.

There is a lot of silly here that makes it fun. We have a strangers marry Vegas while drunk fun with opposites attract joy through in. They have to stay married because of an inheritance clause from the Mob family of Will who is much younger than the Patrick. Fun!

And yet each of these standard (and great in my opinion) is explored at the same time with emotionial truths. Will was drunk that night because he was relapsing in his alcoholism after getting dumped by his long time boyfriend via a phone call. The book does a beautiful job with addiction, recovery, and family made more compelling because Patrick is a neurosurgeon and looks at addiction biologically.

The mob family stuff show layers of recklessness and disfunction of Will’s family. Will has diabetes and the book details the daily life of such a disease. Will’s last relationship was awful and Patrick’s gruff but steadfast treatment and care and eventual love of will is a wonderful display what love should be. He respects and treasures Will.

Patrick is his own gruff, arrogant, funny mess. I don’t want to give to many spoilers as to why but he has a hard time with so much feeling and yet…he is the very best. The friendships he develops are their own awesome love story.

There is a joy in this book too that while internalized homophobia does come up they fact that gay marriage is legal means that everyone in the book simply looks at their marriage as a marriage.  The end.

This is just such a wonderful read with so much healing and love. Read it.

Dating-ish (Knitting in the City #6) by Penny Reid Review 4.5 Stars!

  Dating-ish (Knitting in the City Book 6) by Penny Reid  4.5 Stars!

There are three things you need to know about Marie Harris: 1) She’s fed up with online dating, 2) She’s so fed up, she’s willing to forego the annoyance and consider more creative alternatives, and 3) She knows how to knit.
After the most bizarre and irritating first date in the history of humankind, Marie is looking for an alternative to men. With the help of her friends, she quickly identifies a few possibilities:
Need a cuddle? Use a professional cuddler. Need affirmation? Get yourself a life coach. Need an orgasm? Try orgasm meditation! Why does she need the hassle of a romantic partner when she can meet all her needs with paid services?
But then her irritating date resurfaces. And he’s not at all the person she thought he was. And he suggests a different–and crazier–solution to her dilemma . . .
As everyone knows (or will soon come to realize), traditional relations between humans are a thing of the past. Robots are our future. And if robots are our future, then why do we need other people at all?

 

 

Review 

This is a charmer of a romance. It is at once a Romantic Comedy and a compelling exploration of the human need for connection.

Marie is a wonderful heroine who has intellectual curiosity, great friends and family, talent, hard work, and perfect for her job as a journalist to keep her company. Yet, she is lonely. She wants her person. Reid write a lovely romance about accepting that we long for intimacy and puts a lot of fun in taking a risk to get it.

Matt is a genius grump who would rather not want connection or something. He is funny and steadfast and really likes Marie. Oh, Matt is a whole bunch of sexy too. Big brains do it for me.

Each Reid book brings us a deep dive into a nerdom and in this one we get the twining of social psychology and artificial intelligence. I am here. Give me my popcorn.

I love the romance. I could have used a bit more back story (Matt’s friends/co workers and some other details) in places but this is a bright happy light of a book I read quickly and will read again soon!

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

Wrecking Ball (Hard to Love, #1) by P. Dangelico Review

4.5 Stars!

Cam DeSantis’ life is a hot, steaming pile. How else would you describe losing your husband, your job, and your money all at once? Desperate times call for desperate measures, so when salvation comes in the form of one intolerable a-hole, who just happens to be the starting quarterback for the vaunted NY Titans, she has no choice but to accept his offer as a live-in nanny slash teacher for his eight year old nephew. Now all she has to do is find a safe place in her mind to hide whenever she feels the need to throat punch him into tomorrow…which is often.

Calvin Shaw has zero interest in women. Wait, wait––let me rephrase that. He loves women, he just doesn’t want anything to do with ‘um. Not since his wife, presently ex-wife, got knocked up by the guy she was cheating on him with. Problem is––there’s one living in his house. And he doesn’t know what’s worse, that he promised to be civil, or that he’s attracted to her.

 

Review

I am so excited. I found an new author to love and a comfort read. I know I will read this one again and again.

The pacing of this book is just excellent. Each section is delicious. I love a slow burn romance and this one is so well done.

The hero and heroine start out not knowing each other or liking each other and then they do and become friends and then we watch them fall in love.

Calvin is gruff and grumpy and yet emotionially intelligent. He raised his siblings and is taking care of his nephew. He is closed off after his divorce and childhood.

Cam is grieving the death of her husband who left her with a scandal.

They each have friends and family. They are complex.

There is a lot of wit to this book as well as charm and ache.

It is full of little details and kindnesses and raw love and hurt.

I love that the hero is far from a man whore. I can’t get enough of the kind of hero who sees women (all women and not just the heroine) as people and not bodies.

The last turn of the book is a little melodramatic but it is still great. The epilogue is good but I wanted more. I am thrilled this is going t0 be series!

Really loved it!