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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.

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.

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.

Loving Jay (Loving You, #1) by Renae Kaye 4 Star Review

Review:

Loving Jay - Renae Kaye

One thing Liam Turner knows for sure is that he’s not gay—after all, his father makes it very clear he’ll allow no son of his to be gay. And Liam believes it, until a chance meeting with James “Jay” Bell turns Liam’s world upside-down. Jay is vivacious and unabashedly gay—from the tips of his bleached hair to the ends of his polished nails. With a flair for fashion, overreaction, and an inability to cork his verbal diarrhea, Liam believes drama queen Jay must have a screw loose.

An accident as a teenager left Liam with a limp and a fear of driving. He can’t play football anymore either, and that makes him feel like less of a man. But that’s no reason to question his sexuality… unless the accident broke something else inside him. When being with Jay causes Liam’s protective instincts to emerge, Liam starts to believe all he knew in life had been a convenient excuse to stay hidden. From intolerance to confrontations, Liam must learn to overcome his fears—and his father—before he can accept his sexuality and truly love Jay.

 

Review

 

Like most readers of the this book, I adore Jay. I end up adoring Liam as well.

Jay is kind, loud, hyper, and loving, Liam is kind, steady, mellow, and loving.

They are super sexy together. I love that they crush on each other.

Jay’s wonderful embrace of all he is makes the book joyful.

Liam struggle with all he is in teeth grinding at first. Not because of his internal conflict but because of the way its written. Its tedious, doubles back, and unthoughtful while trying to be thoughtful about sexuality. I get the feeling Liam is homo romantic on the asexual spectrum perhaps demisexual since his long crush and watching of Jay has bonded him. However, Liam (who is very bright) never does any research into his sexuality. Instead, we get this gay not gay don’t want to be gay, I am gay, I love Jay loop. Which again I don’t hate because of what is doing so much as the way it is written.

In this book and a later one in the series, Liam talks elegant about outwardly accepting a label that doesn’t really fit and its well done but the first several chapters of this book are not on this issue.

However, the rest of the book is great. Sexy, charming, tender, fun. Everything you would want.

Jay and his car and his family rock. Liam is such a quiet badass with his own great friends and family.

Together, wow. Power couple. Adore.

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Starting from Scratch by Jay Northcote Review

    Starting from Scratch (Housemates Book 5) by Jay Northcote 4 Stars!

Starting over isn’t easy, but Ben is ready to live his life as the man he was always meant to be.

Ben is transgender and back at university after hormone treatment and chest surgery. His new housemates have no idea about his history and Ben would prefer to keep it that way. He’s starting from scratch and his life is finally on track, except in the romance department. The idea of dating guys as a guy is exhilarating but terrifying, because if Ben wants a boyfriend he’ll have to disclose his secret.

Sid is drawn to Ben from the moment they meet. He normally gets what he wants—in the short term at least. Ben’s guarded at first, and Sid’s not used to guys rejecting his advances. He eventually charms his way through Ben’s defences and helps Ben on his journey of sexual awakening.

It doesn’t matter to Sid that Ben is trans. He’s attracted to the whole person, and isn’t worried about what is—or isn’t—in Ben’s pants. They’re good together, and both of them are falling hard and fast, but Ben’s insecurities keep getting in the way. If Sid can convince Ben he’s committed, will Ben finally be able to put his heart on the line?

 

Review

As always a lovely character driven romance with a lot of tenderness from Jay Norhcote.

This one is made special by a slow burn and the housemates are really showcased here. The trans hero is dealing with a relationship for the first time in a body he likes and the other hero is all in.

A lovely happily ever after you can believe in.

Connection Error (#gaymers #3) by Annabeth Albert Review

 Connection Error by Annabeth Albert 4.5 Stars! 

It’s typical of video game programmer Josiah Simmons to be the last one on the plane on the way to the biggest meeting of his career. Though he’s (mostly) coping with his ADHD, he can’t handle another distraction. But he also can’t ignore his rugged seatmate—especially once he learns the military man’s a fan of his game.

Ryan Orson refuses to let his severe injuries pause his career as a navy SEAL. He’s got hours of grueling physical therapy ahead of him, and no time for anything that might get in the way of his return to active duty. But that doesn’t mean he’s above a little first-class flirtation with geeky-cute Josiah.

When a delay strands the pair in St. Louis, they agree to share a hotel room and a night of gaming. Neither expects their new connection to move to the next level in the light of day. Opposites may attract, but is this game over before it’s even begun?

 

Review

This is a great romance. It is realistic and romantic. Ryan is adjusting to life without legs and relationship that ended some time ago but not well. Jos is much younger, has ADHD and is adjusting to the demands of a leadership position in his job as a game designer.

They meet on a plane. Jos has no filter and crushes hard on Ryan. Things work certain ways and they develop a strong friendship and more online and off as Ryan is doing rehab at Walter Reed and Jos is on the West Coast.

They each have rich lives of friends and family.

They grown into a wonderful relationship with each other and become their better selves. There is no miracle for either hero’s disability but rather adjustments and integration. Sigh. Good stuff.

Albert does a grand job as a storyteller and you will believe in this sexy happily even after.

Such a great read! Would have loved more in the epilogue but we get to see them in the series and spin off series so all is well.

Carry the Ocean (The Roosevelt, #1) by Heidi Cullinan 5 Star Review

    Carry the Ocean  by Heidi Cullinan 5 Stars! 

Normal is just a setting on the dryer.

High school graduate Jeremey Samson is looking forward to burying his head under the covers and sleeping until it’s time to leave for college. Then a tornado named Emmet Washington enters his life. The young man with a double major in math and computer science is handsome, forward, wicked smart, interested in dating Jeremey—and he has autism.

But Jeremey doesn’t judge him for that. He’s too busy judging himself, as are his parents, who don’t believe in things like clinical depression. When Jeremey’s untreated illness reaches a critical breaking point, Emmet is the white knight who rescues him and brings him along as a roommate to The Roosevelt, a quirky new assisted living facility.

As Jeremey and Emmet find their feet at The Roosevelt, they begin to believe they can be loved for the men they are beyond their disabilities. But before they can trust enough to fall head over heels, they must trust their own convictions that friendship is a healing force and love can overcome any obstacle.

 

Review

I love this book. Sitting down to write this review, I just want to go and read it again.

Each character is complex, human and complete. They inhabit a full world. The writing is beautiful and dialogue compelling.

The details weave together in wonderful layer upon layer to create a love story with all the kinds of love.

This is not a light hearted romance but the ache here is really just the ache of being human.

As a disabled person, I really valued to discussion of adaptations, modification, and normality that are part and parcel of living in with a different t body, chemistry and/or mind that the majority.

Depression and anxiety are explored here better than I have ever read. They are part of the character but not all of him. And while there are things that are common to people with this disorder, the understanding that he is unique is clear as well.

The exploration of autism is just as powerfully done. I love that fact that even though the autistic hero seems outwardly more disabled, it is the more “normal” hero that is newer to journey of living with his disability rather than around it.

I love the layers of the parental reaction to this very young couple. The romance told in alternating points of very is beautiful. The writer shows the difficult of the relationship and its joy.

My favorite part of the book aside from the characters is the therapy sessions. Both heroes go and the parents.

I wish everyone had support like this to shine the light on love and self acceptance and the pain of being human. And the science of it all. So good.

I highly recommend this book for the romance and everything else.

Why Love Matters by Jay Northcote Review

Why Love Matters by Jay Northcote 3 Stars! 

Alastair needs help overcoming issues with touch and physical intimacy in order to clinch a business deal with some demonstrative Italians who prefer hugging to handshakes.

Martin, his assistant, has the perfect solution. His mother runs cuddle workshops, which could help Alastair overcome his fears–if he’s brave enough to try. Alastair is nervous not only about the workshop, but also because he will be sharing a room with Martin, who’s starred in his fantasies more often than an assistant should.

Alastair reluctantly decides to give it a try, so they head to a commune in Wales where Martin grew up. The weekend at the commune with Martin proves to be transformative in more ways than one.

 

Review

This was a compelling and sweet romance about a boss and his personal assistant. The issue that Alastair had seemed a bit to easily resolved but it was a good read anyway.

The commune that the other hero grew up in was an intersting setting and I love his mom!

Torkel’s Chosen (A World Beyond, #1) by Michelle Howard Review

Review:

Torkel's Chosen - Michelle Howard

What would you do if Earth didn’t have enough men?
Would you take a chance and leave the only world you knew behind?
This is the decision Faith Reid faces. Placing all her hope in a new government program, she seizes the opportunity that offers a chance for the women of Earth to find love among the stars, on a world beyond the one they know.

How many times can one man risk rejection?
Would you give up on your dreams?
Torkel Alonson has had enough of being ignored and looked over by females on his adopted home world of Enotia. His pride has suffered and he must accept the painful truth. Females will never choose a male with his evil lineage despite his honorable service to his government’s military.

Can two people looking for the same thing find not just what they want but what they need in one another?

 

 

Review

 

 

I liked so much about this book. The world building is nicely done and it has one of my favorite troupes: a hero and heroine who both want to be married.

 

Though it isn’t exactly, mail order bride, it is close enough.

 

The band of brothers the Torkel leads is a wonderful group of special forces. His story of adoption and his loving family are great.

 

I like the heroine. However, she does something really dumb. It works my nerve and I think that if she doesn’t get how she should have come forward with it and why it was really, really bad, she becomes dumb. Agh. But this thing she does makes little sense to me and hurts character development. I get why she does one thing but then the other thing which would hurt as much more than the thing she is preventing, no. How is that for no spoilers?

 

Now, she really pays for her error. A lot. So, there is that.

 

So, I liked the book despite this maddening element. And will be buying the rest of the series because the other heroes and heroines look great!

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