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Off Campus (Bend or Break, #1) by Amy Jo Cousins Review

     Off Campus   by Amy Jo Cousins 4 Stars! 

Everyone’s got secrets. Some are just harder to hide.

With his father’s ponzi scheme assets frozen, Tom Worthington believes finishing college is impossible unless he can pay his own way. After months sleeping in his car and gypsy-cabbing for cash, he’s ready to do just that.

But his new, older-student housing comes with an unapologetically gay roommate. Tom doesn’t ask why Reese Anders has been separated from the rest of the student population. He’s just happy to be sleeping in a bed.

Reese isn’t about to share his brutal story with his gruff new roommate. You’ve seen one homophobic jock, you’ve seen ’em all. He plans to drag every twink on campus into his bed until Tom moves out. But soon it becomes clear Tom isn’t budging.

Tom isn’t going to let some late-night sex noise scare him off, especially when it’s turning him on. But he doesn’t want any drama either. He’ll keep his hands, if not his eyes, to himself. Boundaries have a way of blurring when you start sharing truths, though. And if Tom and Reese cross too many lines, they may need to find out just how far they can bend…before they break.

Review

If you like New Adult angst, you will love this book. It is New Adult in the best ways

The problems our heroes have a real ones with have to do with owning sexuality, still being tied to parents for good and bad, and healing.

This is a hot read with heroes who fall in love with each other hard.

There is a lot of pain to get through but you will root for them.

I like less drama in my love stories but I still really liked this book even though I wanted a richer HEA,

Cousins is a really good writer!

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.

Finding Your Feet (Toronto Connections Book 2) by Cass Lennox Review

    Finding Your Feet  by Cass Lennox 3.5 Stars! 

While on holiday in Toronto, Evie Whitmore planned to sightsee and meet other asexuals, not audition for a dance competition. Now she’s representing Toronto’s newest queer dance studio, despite never having danced before. Not only does she have to spend hours learning her routine, she has to do it with one of the grumpiest men she’s ever met. Tyler turns out to be more than a dedicated dancer, though — he might be the kind of man who can sweep her off her feet, literally and figuratively.

Tyler Davis has spent the last year recovering from an emotionally abusive relationship. So he doesn’t need to be pushed into a rushed routine for a dumb competition. Ticking major representation boxes for being trans and biracial isn’t why he went into dance. But Evie turns out to be a dream student. In fact, she helps him remember just how good partnering can be, in all senses of the word. Teaching her the routine, however, raises ghosts for him, ones he’s not sure he can handle.

Plans change, and people change with them. Learning a few steps is one thing; learning to trust again is another entirely.

 

Review

This is a sweet romance that has a New Adult feel to it even though the leads are in their mid twenties.

The cast of characters is lovely and the idea of being together for a dance competition is cool.

The hero’s past relationship haunts him a bit and heroine is struggling to become fully herself. They are super cut. I love how they represent a new generation widening the orientation, gender, and sexuality perceptions. The way the writer handles this facets of the hero and heroine as just facets is refreshing.

There is unneeded drama towards the end the cuts into couple time along with lack of communication (which is why this book feeling more New Adult than it actually is) that drags on the romance but overall a good read.

I am excited to read other books in this series.

Embattled Hearts by JM Madden Review

  Embattled Hearts by JM Madden 3 Stars!

John Palmer hasn’t felt like a real man since he was injured during combat in Iraq. Though not content with his new life, he is mostly adapting, just like the other vets at the Lost ‘N’ Found Investigative Service. When Shannon Murphy is hired on as the new office manager, life suddenly gets a lot more interesting. Before long, John finds himself wondering if he could ever be the kind of man Shannon needs.

Shannon Murphy wasn’t really looking for love when she hired on at LNF, but finds herself hopelessly attracted to the sex-on-wheels former Marine, John Palmer. The man is grumpy and nearly impossible to work with, but his brand of masculinity appeals to her on a basic level. Soon Shannon is wondering just what it would take for John to want her the way she wants him.

When an old enemy tries to settle a vendetta against Shannon, John insists on protecting her. He moves into her house, fanning the spark of attraction into a blaze. But the danger continues to escalate. Will the connection that they’ve found survive when they’re thrust into a fight for their lives?

Review

I liked the setting of the this agency for veterans and the characters very much, I love a grumpy hero so John was really a lot of fun for me. Shannon is sweet.

The writing is a bit clunky in places and the villains are crazy and cartoonish but I did like how no one was stupid (well the villains were) even if I thought the villains motivation were simple to not believable.

I will read more in this series.

Candy Man (Candy Man #1) by Amy Lane Review

   Candy Man (Candy Man #1)  by Amy Lane 3.5 Stars! 

Adam Macias has been thrown a few curve balls in his life, but losing his VA grant because his car broke down and he missed a class was the one that struck him out. One relative away from homelessness, he’s taking the bus to Sacramento, where his cousin has offered a house-sitting job and a new start. He has one goal, and that’s to get his life back on track. Friends, pets, lovers? Need not apply.

Finn Stewart takes one look at Adam as he’s applying to Candy Heaven and decides he’s much too fascinating to leave alone. Finn is bright and shiny—and has never been hurt. Adam is wary of his attention from the very beginning—Finn is dangerous to every sort of peace Adam is forging, and Adam may just be too damaged to let him in at all.

But Finn is tenacious, and Adam’s new boss, Darrin, doesn’t take bullshit for an answer. Adam is going to have to ask himself which is harder—letting Finn in or living without him? With the holidays approaching it seems like an easy question, but Adam knows from experience that life is seldom simple, and the world seldom cooperates with hope, faith, or the plans of cats and men.

Review

I enjoyed this opposites attract romance. Finn is wonderful. The dog is great. Watching Adam find joy is a pleasure. The Candy Man is sill fun.

There are bits and pieces missing here that could add depth to the story but overall is a good read.

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.

Won’t You Be My Neighbor? by Vanessa Gray Bartal Review

  Won’t You Be My Neighbor?  by Vanessa Gray Bartal 4 Stars!

Sullivan Evans has had it up to here with needy, pushy women. His one goal is to live a peaceful life devoid of females. So when his formerly quiet neighbor–a woman so elusive he calls her Bigfoot–begins talking to him, it can only mean one thing: she’s on the prowl.

Blair has no idea her neighbor is eligible and wary. After being jolted from her self-contained world by the death of a local recluse, she decides to change her life and reach out. First on her list: say hello to the neighbors she has never spoken to. Her only goal is to not die alone, but a freak crossing of paths will change everything.

As Sully misreads Blair’s every signal, they seem more destined to be enemies than friends. Over time, the two people who seemingly don’t need anyone else just might learn they need each other the most.

Review

I really enjoyed this book and love story. It feels like a throw back to the old Harlequin Romances.

The heroine is great. Her journey to reconnecting and working through her social anxiety is well written. We get to see what a great person she really is and all the secondary characters that come in are also special.

Our hero is a real ego manic jerk at first. Rather than annoying, it is funny. He gets peeled like and onion and his backstory is engrossing.

The friends to lovers theme is well done. Very funny and sweet (kisses only) pleasure.

Can’t wait to read more by this writer!

Nameless Fate by Stephanie West Review

   Nameless Fate by Stephanie West 4 Stars!

Harper might get an uncanny gut feeling every now and then, but that didn’t mean she believed in portents, and certainly not the kind that got her abducted. As Harper gripped the bars of her cage, in the alien prison; it sunk in that she seriously had been kidnapped from Earth, to become the fated consort of some alien prince. This wasn’t some elaborate prank, or government experiment. True to form, Harper pissed off the tyrannical king with her refusal. Now she found herself at the mercy of convicts, locked away and forgotten in the bowels of a mountain.
Harper’s gaze fell on a shadowy beast of a man, sitting casually on the rundown catwalk. The imposing man looked like he ruled the prison. He was the color of midnight, and his eyes were that eerie arctic blue, that was nearly colorless. Harper shivered as he regarded her.
All Nameless knew was the Hold, with its misery and struggle. He never wanted to keep a female, surviving was hard enough, but that was before the Pink Pearl dropped into his world. Nameless had never seen anything like the stunning exotic little creature. Not only was she the catalyst for strange dreams and revelations about his past, but she made him feel. He had to have her.
Harper wanted free of the alien prison, and she wanted to go home, except Nameless wasn’t prepared or willing to let her go, even if she hated him because of it. He owned every part of her, and bound her to him, in ways that could never be undone, collar or no collar. In her wildest dreams, Harper never imagined the twists destiny could take, or that she would find soul deep satisfaction with such a nameless fate.
Follow Harper and Nameless as they struggle to get free of the Hold, and seek their revenge on the despot responsible for putting them there.

Review

This book is very similar to Claire Kent’s Hold. It has a future prison. A gruff hero who has to take care of a woman dropped in the prison.

However, this is actually a much more fully realized work with a cast of aliens, prophesy, and whole bunch of adventure.

There is a content issue the first time the hero and heroine are together but it makes sense in terms of the plot and didn’t bother me much.

The heroine is assertive, clever, and practical. The hero is a bit more of a mythic figure but he humanize.

I enjoyed it and hope the Alpha Wolf gets his story.

Warriors’ Providence (Cadi Warriors Book 2)

  Warriors’ Providence (Cadi Warriors Book 2) by Stephanie West 3.5 Stars! 

Providence worked hard to become one of the first women to join her pararescue squad. It was difficult being one of the guys and yet not, all at the same time, but she was up for the task. Besides, there was nothing more satisfying than helping your fellow man, it was what she was born to do. Never in a million years did Providence expect to find herself abducted from a routine mission off the Florida coast by…ALIENS.
Dagaa and Madhava, once enemies, became fast friends after a centuries long civil war. Both of them were beyond ready to see Cadi enter a new era. But now they face a new battle, convincing all of Cadi to embrace and rescue the Toufik, their former slaves, from a dying planet. It wasn’t going to be an easy task. Infighting threatened their hard won peace and put Cadi at risk from a new foe.
With so much at stake Madhava and Dagaa are blindsided when they find a fiery-haired human female on their enemy’s ship. Providence’s bold and loving nature awakens a side that both warriors had long since forgotten. The only problem, can Dagaa and Madhava share her affection, and can Providence withstand the love of not just one, but two overprotective warriors. Only fate knows a warrior’s providence.

 

Review

This is a fast paced action filed romance with Demon Aliens and a great heroine. It is fun ride through a culture in the midst of a shift after years of civil war.

We get a gruff and grumpy hero and a sunny flirt of a hero for our highly accomplished para rescue heroine. The scene where she kicks slaver butt is everything.

It is a good love story and a nice move forward in the series.

Pursued (Brides of the Kindred, #6) by Evangeline Anderson Review

  Pursued (Brides of the Kindred Book 6) by Evangeline Anderson 2.5 Stars

Elise is fractured inside, stained by a past she refuses to remember.
Merrick is scarred both inside and out, a half-breed with a brutal background, at home nowhere in the universe.

Now they are tied together by an unstable bond which could kill them both.
Their journey will take them to the lawless planet of Rageron—the wildest of all the Kindred worlds. There, in the deep blue jungles of an alien world, Elise must bare her soul and relive the horror that nearly killed her. Can she and Merrick make each other whole or will Elise run from her pain?

If she does, Merrick cannot help but chase her…Elise is being Pursued.

 

Review

The basic romance here between two very wounded people is engaging. I like the heroine doesn’t just magically get over her past.

However, she does a lot of stupid stuff.

The book gets a bit tedious after a while when the characters stagnate.

There are also too many characters that don’t have meaningful contributions to the story.

So, I want to like this series but it isn’t working for me.