grief

Cherry Pie (Mercury Rising, #1) by Samantha Kane Review

      Cherry Pie (Mercury Rising Book 1) by Samantha Kane 4.5 Stars!!

You can go home again—if you can get a foot in the door.

A year after packing and moving from L.A. to Mercury, North Carolina, John Ford still hasn’t adjusted to the heat. Or to life without his long-time partner. As he fixes up the old house he bought, the quiet becomes his only companion, and he’s content with that—until a deep-voiced stranger plants himself under a tree across the street.

Eight years ago, Connor Meecham left someone behind in that house—himself. Now he’s back to find the man he used to be, before drugs and prison sent his life careening off the tracks. But it’s not his mother’s face peering through the window any more. It’s a man who seems as lost as Conn himself.

When John learns what the house—and the dying town—mean to Conn, he finds himself opening the door to his heart. Just a crack. But it’s enough to get mixed up in a world of emotions as complicated as the recipe for the perfect cherry pie. Where one misstep can turn something sweet and juicy into one hot mess.

Review

Given the iffy title, I wasn’t expecting a great deal out of this book and was really pleasantly surprised.

I knew the love story would hot because Samantha Kane is an excellent erotic writer who uses sexy times to deepen the connection between characters. And the book has that loveliness for sure but this romance is also emotionial rich and sexy.

Many themes are at play here but the one I think is exceptionally well down is returning to your Hometown. Connor as been in recovery for two years and out of prison for more than a year. He decides to go home (its been the the better part of a decade) to reclaim the parts of himself, heal others, and build himself anew. He has to deal with the fact that someone has bought his family home, his mom has passed while he was serving time for possession and selling sex (though the charge was changed to vagrancy), reckon with how the town has changed, pick up old connection, forge new ones and find work. He left town as a golden football star in a small Southern town. He returns as a much better man in recovery, mindful, out about his sexuality and his past.

John is new to town and healing from the grief of losing his partner.

Class, age , and power difference play out in this romance is a powerful and healing way. They are emotionial equals and the joy of this book is in watching John and Connor fall in love and become partners.

The small town stuff is great and there are some wonderful secondary characters.

The writing is superb. Emotionially compelling, realistic (with the fantasy of less homophobia than there might be and John being really rich), and sexy.

Can’t wait for the next in the series.

Falling Down by Eli Easton Review

    Falling Down by Eli Easton 4 Stars! 

osh finds himself homeless at eighteen, but he has a plan. He’ll head north on the bus to New England and spend October there for his mother’s sake. She always talked about going to see the fall leaves someday. And when the leaves are done and the harsh winter comes, Josh plans to find a place to curl up and let go. It will be a relief to finally stop fighting.

Mark spent his life trying to live up to the tough swagger of his older brothers until he pushed himself so far against his nature that he cracked. Now a former Marine, he rents a little cabin in the White Mountains of New Hampshire where he can lick his wounds and figure out what to do with the rest of his life. One thing was clear: Mark was nobody’s hero.

Fate intervenes when Josh sets up camp under a covered bridge near Mark’s cabin. Mark recognizes the dead look in the young stranger’s eyes, and he feels compelled to do something about it. When Mark offers Josh a job, he never expects that he’ll be the one to fall.

The snow is coming soon. Can Mark convince Josh that the two of them can build a life together before the flurries begin?

Trigger Warning: Suicidal thoughts

 

Review

 

I was worried that this book would be too dark for me with its topics of PTSD, depression, suicidal thoughts, homelessness….sound grim. doesn’t it? But Eli Easton handles these issues with grace and realism and embeds these struggles in wonderful human characters that we are lucky enough to watch fall in love.

This is a thoughtful romance that slow lets the light fill it up with lovely prose and complex characters. There is no extra angst and drama just a heartfelt and healing love story.

I very much recommend this book.

Who We Are (Bear, Otter, and the Kid #2) by T.J. Klune 4 Star Review

Who We Are (Bear, Otter, and the Kid Chronicles Book 2)  by T.J. Klune

Bear, Otter, and the Kid survived last summer with their hearts and souls intact. They’ve moved into the Green Monstrosity, and Bear is finally able to admit his love for the man who saved him from himself.

But that’s not the end of their story. How could it be?

The boys find that life doesn’t stop just because they got their happily ever after. There’s still the custody battle for the Kid. The return of Otter’s parents. A first trip to a gay bar. The Kid goes to therapy, and Mrs. Paquinn decides that Bigfoot is real. Anna and Creed do… well, whatever it is Anna and Creed do. There are newfound jealousies, the return of old enemies, bad poetry, and misanthropic seagulls. And through it all, Bear struggles to understand his mother’s abandonment of him and his brother, only to delve deeper into their shared past. What he finds there will alter their lives forever and help him realize what it’ll take to become who they’re supposed to be.

Family is not always defined by blood. It’s defined by those who make us whole—those who make us who we are.

Review

If you loved or even just liked the first book in the series, this one is a must read.

I think it is much better actually as you get all the charm, funny, and drama of the first with the wonderful characters without the lack of communication and freak outs.

There will be crying and Bear and Otter can’t seem to escape the awful coming but there is a lot of sweet and Bear is much more of a grown man here.

I think the secondary romance could have been way more developed and the mystery never was a mystery to me but all in all it is very good ride

Blue Mountain (Pack #1) by Cardeno C. Review

    Blue Mountainby Cardeno C. 3.5 Stars!

Exiled by his pack as a teen, Omega wolf Simon Moorehead learns to bury his gentle nature in the interest of survival. When a hulking, rough-faced Alpha catches Simon on pack territory, he tries to escape what he’s sure will be imminent death. But instead of killing him, the Alpha takes Simon home.

A man of action, Mitch Grant uproots his life to support his brother in leading the Blue Mountain pack. Mitch lives on the periphery, quietly protecting everyone, but always alone. A mate is a dream come true for Mitch, and he won’t let little things like Simon’s rejections, attacks, and insults get in their way. With patience, seduction, and genuine care, Mitch will ride out the storm while Simon slays his own ghosts and Mitch’s loneliness.

Review

I tend to like Cardeno C best when the plots are character driven and we get oodles of couple time.

In this Wolf Shifter Romance, we get a badly emotionially scarred Omega wolf hero and a gentle giant (but really fierce with everyone else) Alpha Wolf hero.

Almost all the book is spent with the Alpha Hero giving the Omega Hero time to trust and heal. It is sweet and lovely.

The world building is uneven but it is a nice read.

No! Jocks Don’t Date Guys (Jock, #2) by Wade Kelly Review

    No! Jocks Don’t Date Guys by Wade Kelly 3.5 Stars!

What is a sexy soccer stud supposed to do when “following family tradition” falls 180 degrees opposite his closeted ideal?

From birth, Chris Jackson has been schooled on how to land a cheerleader. After all, his father married one, and his father’s father before him. Heck, even his older brother married a stereotypical cheerleader the summer before Chris went off to college. For two years, Chris dodges invasive questions about relationships by blaming his lack of female companionship on grueling practices and heavy course loads. But his lack of interest in girls should’ve given his family a clue. It isn’t until Chris mentions meeting a boy that his father’s synapses short-circuit.

Alonzo Martin is anything but a buxom blond. From his black hair, combat boots, and trench coat to his nail polish and guyliner, the mysterious introvert isn’t easily persuaded to date. Alonzo’s insecurities keep Chris at arm’s length, but Alonzo’s painful past might meet its match in the charismatic jock’s winning smile and sense of humor.

When opposites attract, only cheerleaders and gummy bears can help overcome fear and family tradition.

Review

Despite the light hearted title, this New Adult romance does some heavy emotionial lifting.

Chris is a sunny extrovert hero who is kind and while not out yet is very much out to himself.

Lonnie is an introvert who we slowly open himself to Chris and a circle of friends that show him it is okay to be his full self in a a safe place.

The love story and healing of Lonnie is really well done and Chris is someone anyone would fall in love with in his steadfast, attentive, and brave ways.

The cheerleader side story is just awful, creepy, disjointed and weird and almost ruins to the book. I elected to ignore it.

The Backup Boyfriend (The Boyfriend Chronicles Book 1) by River Jaymes Review

   The Backup Boyfriend (The Boyfriend Chronicles Book 1) by River Jaymes  3.5 Stars!

Professionally, Dr. Alec Johnson has almost reached his goals. As this year’s recipient of a humanitarian award with his ex, Dr. Tyler Hall, Alec’s work with the homeless is about to be recognized. Unfortunately, his personal life sucks because now he has to attend several events alongside Tyler—with his ex’s new boyfriend in tow. In an attempt to lift his mood and break out of his rut, Alec purchases a motorcycle he has no idea how to start.

Dylan Booth doesn’t have time for Dr. Clueless and his fickle 1964 Harley, but the cocky mechanic can’t say no to the request for help. Having spent his teen years on the streets, and losing his best friend to HIV, Dylan decides teaching the do-gooder how to ride is the least he can do. But watching Alec flounder in his ex’s company throws Dylan into protector mode, and the confirmed hetero introduces himself as Alec’s new boyfriend.

The ex suspects Dylan is lying.

Alec claims Dylan’s plan is insane.

And Dylan’s not sure he can fake being gay.

But Dylan’s a master bullshitter, and the phony PDA soon turns ultra-hot. Alec can’t afford to get attached, and Dylan’s learned everyone eventually leaves. Unfortunately, playing the backup boyfriend is starting to feel way too real…

 

Review

I like the journey Alec and Dylan take in their love story. The are each well defined interesting characters whom I like very much. The conflict comes from who they are and for me that it is always the best kind.

Each hero grows and the romance is a real pleasure.

Alex’s day to day work life was missing and would have added depth but Dylan’s work was well integrated.

I do grow weary of the “no labels” arguments and think that the resolution for their difficulties is a bit too rush given the ups and downs of the relationship. I would have liked to wallow a bit even the the epilogue is good and I know they are found in later books in the series.

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.

Original post:
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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!

 

Original post:
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St. Nacho’s by Z.A. Maxfield Review

St. Nacho’s by Z.A. Maxfield  3 Stars

Cooper has spent the last three years running from a painful past. He’s currently moving from town to town, working in restaurant kitchens, and playing his violin for tips. As soon as he starts to feel comfortable anywhere–with anyone–he moves on. He’s aware that music may be the only human language he still knows. Ironically, the one man he’s wanted to communicate with in all that time is deaf.

Shawn is part of a deaf theater group at the nearby college. Shawn wants Cooper as soon as they meet and he begins a determined flirtation. Cooper is comfortable with down and dirty sex, just not people. As far as Shawn is concerned, dirty sex is win-win, but he wants Cooper to let him into the rest of his life as well.

Cooper needs time to heal and put his past away for good. Shawn needs to help Cooper forgive himself and accept that he can be loved. Both men find out that when it comes to the kind of healing love can bring, the sleepy beachside town of Santo Ignacio, “St. Nacho’s” as the locals call it, may just be the very best place to start.

Review

I loved the first section of this book. I would have liked it better if we had Sean’s pov as well as Copper. Sean is wonderful but I would have loved to know more about him. Cooper needs to ask but instead we get deep dipped into Connor’s awful past and he goes home.

The sections with his ex lover and his ex lovers connection to a church to help with his sobriety are teeth gritting in the level of angst and self punishment.

I think that Cooper needed to go through this fire but without Sean around for a portion of it and without Sean’s point of view (So he becomes St.Sean) this part of the plot is really hard to take.

We need much more after Cooper comes out the other side to make this a good romance for me.

Out of Nowhere by Roan Parrish Review

 Out of Nowhere by Roan Parrish  4 Stars! 

The only thing in Colin Mulligan’s life that makes sense is taking cars apart and putting them back together. In the auto shop where he works with his father and brothers, he tries to get through the day without having a panic attack or flying into a rage. Drinking helps. So does running and lifting weights until he can hardly stand. But none of it can change the fact that he’s gay, a secret he has kept from everyone.

Rafael Guerrera has found ways to live with the past he’s ashamed of. He’s dedicated his life to social justice work and to helping youth who, like him, had very little growing up. He has no time for love. Hell, he barely has time for himself. Somehow, everything about miserable, self-destructive Colin cries out to him. But down that path lie the troubles Rafe has worked so hard to leave behind. And as their relationship intensifies, Rafe and Colin are forced to dredge up secrets that both men would prefer stay buried.

 

Review

Oh boy. Colin is a hot mess. Internalized homophobia, anger management, self harm, alcohol abuse, cruelty, clueless…

And yet I root for him anyway. I would advise Rafe against dating him (Rafe is a wonderful social justice crusader with humility and self awareness. He is sexy as hell.) but this ain’t my romance.

Roan Parrish is a wonderful writer. This book takes on issues of social justice in terms of LGTBQ kids and the prison pipeline for men of color. The setting and exploration of working class life is excellent.

I may not always like Colin but he is real. Made of a place, time and neglect. I want him to have love and healing.

I would have liked more healing to happen in the book. That man needs to get clean and to find a therapist and support group. The lack of these elements make me worry for him and Rafe long term but Colin changed and grew and settled into himself and its a really good book.