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Tied Together (Tied Together, #1) by Z.B. Heller Review

     Tied Together by Z.B. Heller 3 Stars!

Ryan Keller has it all: a great supportive family, friends, and no limit to his self-confidence. Coming out of the closet was not as traumatic as he would have thought. In fact, it was glitter, unicorns and rainbows. Navigating through life isn’t easy for any man, let alone a gay one. Rest assured that Ryan has it handled.

Brandon Ford comes from the wrong side of the tracks. With a dark past, he doesn’t have much going for him, no money, no friends, definitely no charisma, and his family makes people on Jerry Springer look like total winners. Life can’t be worse—until it becomes unbearable.

When Ryan helps Brandon out of a bad situation, chemistry sparks between them. Only Brandon has one problem: He’s hiding in the closet with no way of finding his way out.

After years apart, Ryan run’s into Brandon as he has his head in-between his friend’s lady business to deliver her baby. This spells emotional turmoil for both Ryan and Brandon. Can years of resentment and bad feelings pull them apart or force them to work on their relationship so they can end up Tied Together.

Review

I loved Sex Ed by this writer so I thought I would try her back list.

This is the story of the uncles in that book and it takes place over many years. I think it would have been a richer book if it open with the scene of Ryan and Brandon meeting as adults and then just referencing their.

It would have been a stronger love story for me to have them come together as healthy grown ups. Instead, this part of the romance is smooshed (with a great epilogue) and we spend a great deal of time with the heroes as very young and very dumb. lol

I still like them.

Redesigning Max (Foothills Pride #2) by Pat Henshaw Review

    Redesigning Max (Foothills Pride Stories Book 2) by Pat Henshaw 2 Stars

Renowned interior designer Fredi Zimmer is surprised when outdoorsman Max Greene, owner of Greene’s Outdoors, hires Fredi to revamp his rustic cabin in the Sierra Nevada foothills. Fredi is an out-and-proud Metro male whose contact with the outdoors is from his car to the doorway of the million-dollar homes he remodels, and Max is just too hunky for words.

When Max comes on to Fredi, the designer can’t imagine why. But he’s game to put a little spice into Max’s life, even if it’s just in the colors and fixtures he’ll use to turn Max’s dilapidated cabin into a showplace. Who can blame a guy for adding a little sensual pleasure as he retools Max’s life visually?

Max, for his part, is grateful when Fredi takes him in hand, both metaphorically and literally. Coming out is the most exciting and wonderful time in his life, despite the conservative former friends who think they’re saving him from sliding into hell.

Review

This is my second time trying this writer and like the first time, this book didn’t work for me, It isn’t awful and I like the basic writing but it is too shallow and doesn’t do the work needed to make it a love story to believe in.

Again, I like the heroes. Max has inherited wealth for outdoor rec stores and some hidden talents, Fredi is at the top of his profession (a little young for that but okay).

Max had realized he is gay and pursues Fredi. This is very sweet and up front. And again if the characters where developed and the story driven by the characters it would be a good book. I like the slow burn dating. I like the Fredi protects himself. There is cool stuff in both books about recording and reporting hate crimes.

Max and Fredi both have awful pasts and we don’t really get to see that. We are told that.

Again the love scene are off page and this hurts the development of the connection between them and the love story.

Then there is crazy homophobia that is resolved but takes up the place of better character work. And then saccharine stuff that isn’t earned.

So. Not great.

 

PS The “droopy mustache” on Max…ewww.

Coach’s Challenge (Scoring Chances Book 5) by Avon Gale 4.5 Star Review!

   Coach’s Challenge (Scoring Chances Book 5)  by Avon Gale  4.5 Stars!

It’s been decades since blackmail forced Troy Callahan to retire from playing professional hockey, and he’s built a successful career behind the bench. When he’s offered the opportunity to coach the Asheville Ravens—the most hated team in the ECHL—he’s convinced that his no-nonsense attitude is just what the team needs to put their focus back on hockey. But Troy is disheartened when he finds that the Ravens have signed Shane North, a player known for his aggression. And it only gets worse when Shane’s rough good looks give Troy inappropriate thoughts about a member of his team, even if Shane’s set to retire at the end of the season.

Shane’s career in the majors never quite took off. Wanting to quit on his own terms, Shane agrees to a one-year contract with the Ravens and finds himself playing for a coach who thinks he’s an aging goon and with a team that doesn’t trust him, the coach, or each other. Despite his determination to not get involved, Shane unwillingly becomes part of the team… and is just as unwillingly drawn to the gruff out-and-proud coach. As the Ravens struggle to build a new identity, Shane and Troy succumb to the passion that might cost them everything.

Review

This is a charming romance where likes attract and the likes are sarcastic, competitive, gruff, grumpy, witty, loving, argumentative, stubborn hockey heroes with explosive chemistry.

We have two grown up men who fall in love and lust with each other and a great sports story about turning around an awful team and taking homophobia and sexism on.

There is never a lack of communication or trust as Shane and Troy move from lust to love.

They are wonderful for each other and all kinds of little details make this romance a charmer and light hearted.

This is one of the best consistently great series I have read in a long time.

The wider circle of people we are already know gets just enough screen time and we get some wonderful new cast members.

I love River and Ben and I have been hunting around to see if they already have their own romance because I need to read it now! Matty is due a love story and Alani better get her some. I suggest a female hockey player that joins one of the teams, please.

So good!

 

 

Empty Net (Scoring Chances Book 4) Avon Gale 4.5 Star Review!

Review:

Empty Net - Avon Gale

Spartanburg Spitfires’ goalie and captain, Isaac Drake, ended last season with an unexpected trip to the playoffs. He’s found a home and a family with his coach and mentor, Misha Samarin, and he’s looking forward to making a serious run for the Kelly Cup. But things take an interesting turn when Isaac’s archnemesis, Laurent St. Savoy, is traded to the Spitfires. After Laurent’s despicable behavior in the playoffs last year, Isaac wants nothing to do with him—no matter how gorgeous he is. But that changes when Isaac discovers the reason for Laurent’s attitude.

Laurent St. Savoy grew up the only son of a legendary NHL goalie in a household rife with abuse. He was constantly treated like a disappointment, on and off the ice. When a desperate attempt to escape his father’s tyranny sends him to the Spitfires, the last thing Laurent wants is to make friends. But there’s something about Isaac Drake that he can’t resist. Laurent has an opportunity to explore his sexuality for the first time, but he’s cracking under end-of-the-season pressures. When facing the playoffs and a rivalry turned personal vendetta, Isaac’s not sure he’s enough to hold on to Laurent—or their relationship.

 

Review

This is by far the darkest book of the series so far but this love story really shows off what an amazing storyteller Avon Gale is.

 

She takes the villain from the last book in the series Laurents and pairs him with the beloved scrappy Drake in an truely stellar enemies to lovers romance with a healing journey for all.

 

This book delves into the darkness of what happens when someone is exposed to systematic abuse and what it means to love someone enough to stand by as they heal.

Laurents is awful for a reason. However, he chooses to become aware and change and risk loving someone. He gets therapy. I can’t tell you how much I celebrate when a character gets professionial help in a book showing others the way. He works at his recovery from an eating disorder and self care from his abusive childhood and young adulthood.

 

His demisexuality is gently explored. He becomes his better self and a wonderful partner for Issac. I love the dating scenes.

 

Issac is so much a great emotionally brave character and sexy as hell (Lauren is broodingly hot). Issac just shines and finding romantic love and the love of an adopted father makes him even more compelling.

 

He falls in love but doesn’t try to solve Laurents problems. He is a partner.

 

I really adored their romance as always the hockey and the secondary characters and the pondering for friendship.

 

The books ends with a happily ever after that includes doing the right things for yourself as well as others.

Original post:
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Power Play (Scoring Chances, #3) by Avon Gale 5 Star Review!

Review:

Power Play  - Avon Gale

A freak accident during the Stanley Cup Playoffs put an end to Max Ashford’s hockey career. Despite everything, Max gets back into the game he loves—only this time, behind the bench as an assistant coach of the Spartanburg Spitfires, the worst team in the entire league. But nothing prepares him for the shock when he learns the new head coach is Misha Samarin, the man who caused Max’s accident.

 

After spending years guilt-ridden for his part in Max’s accident, Russian native Misha Samarin has no idea what to do when he’s confronted with Max’s presence. Max’s optimism plays havoc with Misha’s equilibrium—as does the fierce attraction that springs up between them.

 

Not only must they navigate Misha’s remorse and a past he’s spent a lifetime trying to forget, but also a sleazy GM who is determined to use their history as a marketing hook. But when an unwelcome visitor targets a player, Misha revisits his darkest days, and that might cost him and Max the beginning they’ve worked so hard to build.

 

Review

 

So, I am loving Avon Gale. She is really pitch perfect in this series so far. We get fully realized characters, hockey, great love stories, and human complexity with no false drama. Sexy as hell as well.

 

I read the blurb to this book and I think. Hmmm. Its going to be angsty bleh but it is not. It is wonderful.

 

Misha and Max. Agghhh. Great opposites attract with Max as sunny hero and Misha as dour. They love each other so. And I want every joy for them.

 

Misha is grrrr sexy and tortured but he is also a grown ass man who handles his business and is emotionally available.

 

Mas is thoughtful and resilient. I want to go re read this finely writing romance right now.

 

A comfort read for years to come!

Original post:
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Clique (Heartsville) by Jayden Brooks Review

Review:

Clique (Heartsville) - Jayden Brooks

Adam Locke’s youthful looks aren’t the blessing everyone seems to think. At twenty-eight, he’s a successful photographer with his own studio and respected by his peers—but that doesn’t seem to matter to the men who catch his eye. Instead, he’s brushed aside like an underage twink with a daddy fetish.

When a hot, bearded stranger stops him from accidentally walking into traffic, Adam looks up and finds the man of his dreams. Unfortunately, his first meeting with Brandon ends with him being dismissed as a kid. Again. Adam can’t help his annoyance. He also can’t help staring (and drooling) whenever he spots Brandon walking through the neighborhood with a different dog.

He watches from afar, wondering about Brandon’s story—until the day he’s dared to take another chance. It’s just the push Adam needs, and finally, he catches Brandon’s interest. Now if only he could figure out the key to getting taciturn Brandon to open up and let Adam in. But Adam knows sometimes all it takes is a little patience for the last piece to click into place.

 

Review

 

There are parts of this novella that are really, really good . It is super funny in several places. I like the characters and the world.

 

Then there are places that the writer just doesn’t follow up so we get a lack of connection which makes the romance less powerful. (Like Brandon’s past)

 

And then there is conflict that is kinda dumb.

 

I will read more by this writer because the funny and charming parts.

Original post:
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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.

What’s in a Name? (Foothills Pride #1) by Pat Henshaw Review

    What’s in a Name? by Pat Henshaw 2 Stars 

Barista Jimmy Patterson thinks it’s a good idea to get rip-roaring drunk on his birthday after he’s dumped by his boyfriend. When the burly owner of Stonewall’s Bar rescues Jimmy, the night starts to look up.

Now Jimmy just wants to know the bartender’s first name since he’s worn a different name tag every time Jimmy’s seen him. “Guy” Stone gives Jimmy seven guesses, one for each night he takes Jimmy out on a date.

While Jimmy’s trying to come up with his name, he’s distracted by the destruction of his coffee shop and what looks more and more like a hate crime.

Review

There are seeds of a good book in here. I didn’t not enjoy it but the plot took the easy way out too many times and several ideas were undeveloped.

Here is what I liked: The setting in the foothills of the Sierra’s during the migration out of the Bay Area for a portion of the queer community. The heroes are kind. I like that even though this romance is super fast, they have really been falling in love for months. I like the friends and businesses.

The wish fulfillment of dating and courting is a bit saccharine but I enjoy that sometimes. The villains are cartoonish–especially the ex boyfriend.

If the characters had been more developed, out side of the Twink and the Bear, then the book’s plot would have been driven more by internal factors rather than a bit manic external ones.

The sex is off page. I don’t mind that but sex scenes based in their character would have let us seem them intimately and moved the romance plot forward in ways that this book lacked.

I liked the writing so I will try again with this author.

Leo Loves Aries (Signs of Love, #1) by Anyta Sunday 4 Star Review!

Review:

Leo Loves Aries - Anyta Sunday

A new person will enter your life in the early year, Leo. Look past any moments of frustration they might bring and laugh—this could be the start of a thriving friendship.

Theo Wallace usually laughs at the horoscopes his mom sends. Still hung up on his ex-girlfriend and practically friendless, this one begs him to reconsider. Because a friendship that stuck, that thrived…

Well, that would be a reason to leave past pains behind and look to the Bright Future.

When his sister Leone challenges him to find her the perfect date for a spring wedding, Theo uses it as a chance to make new friends. Theo’s ex economics tutor and newest roommate Mr. Jamie Cooper seems to be a possible and convenient match. Real convenient. Like written in the stars, convenient.

All he has to do is make sure this Jamie is good enough. Could really be The One for her, and the friend for him.

But watch out, Leo, the stars have a surprise in store…

 

Review

This is a light romance with a great pair of siblings, a lot of banter, and a slow burn with a clueless hero.

 

Boy is Theo clueless. It can be a bit much at times how much he doesn’t get that he is falling in love with Jamie and that he is jealous or that Jamie is gay. The banter is wonderful but it can also go a bit far when I long for more emotionial connections.

 

However, overall, this is a charming romance with wonderful smart characters and a great cast.

 

Good times!

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Summer Lessons (Winter Ball, #2) by Amy Lane Review

    Summer Lessons (Winter Ball Book 2)by Amy Lane 4 Stars!

Mason Hayes’s love life has a long history of losers who don’t see that Mason’s heart is as deep and tender as his mouth is awkward. He wants kindness, he wants love—and he wants someone who thinks sex is as fantastic as he does. When Terry Jefferson first asks him out, Mason thinks it’s a fluke: Mason is too old, too boring, and too blurty to interest someone as young and hot as his friend’s soccer teammate.

The truth is much more painful: Mason and Terry are perfectly compatible, and they totally get each other. But Terry is still living with his toxic, suffocating parent and Mason doesn’t want to be a sugar daddy. Watching Terry struggle to find himself is a long lesson in patience, but Mason needs to trust that the end result will be worth it, because finally, he’s found a man worth sharing his heart with.

Review

Terry’s and Mason’s love story and individual development are in turns delightful, painful, and tender.

We have age and class difference and in really knowing that a better way of being exists for both of them. They are both use to a certain kinds of the relationship. For Terry, it is simply sexual and for Mason, it has more to do with status or assumed behaviors. They both have to learn to be in a truely loving equal partnerships.

They each have dependents of a sort and the book doesn’t soft sell what it means to love someone who is bi polar or someone who is toxic.

The circle of friends is wonderful and expands. As always I love the Sacromento area setting. There is a secondary romance that I hope gets its own book.

This is a love story you will get more out of if you read the first book in the series. I hope there is more!