long hair hero

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.

Twist (Dive Bar #2) by Kylie Scott Review

      Twist: A Dive Bar Novel (Dive Bar Series Book 2) by Kylie Scott 3.5 Stars!

When his younger brother loses interest in online dating, hot bearded bartender Joe Collins only intends to log into his account and shut it down. Until he reads about her.

Alex Parks is funny, fascinating, and pretty much everything he’s been looking for in a woman—except that she lives across the country. Soon they’re emailing up a storm and telling each other their deepest, darkest secrets…except the one that really matters.

When Alex pays Joe a surprise visit, however, they both discover that when it comes to love, it’s always better with a twist.

 

Review

 

I liked Twist epically more that Dirty the first book in this series.

It has a wonderful first meet with the hero and heroine. Wonderfully awful.

I really liked how messed up our hero and heroine are in different ways and how loved they are by their circle of friends. I love the you are not my type attractions.

And then the book goes sideways in the end. They are dumb dumbs. Sigh. And then we have a huge jump in time and thing work out. Sigh. I am glad things work out.

There are two other couples featured in the book that it seems sad we won’t get their stories.

I need at least two other books before I can read the next hero’s romance because he needs a lot of growth before I want to spend time with him.

All the Wrong Places (Bluewater Bay, #14) by Ann Gallagher Review

   All the Wrong Places (Bluewater Bay Book 14) by Ann Gallaghe 4 Stars! 

Three cheating girlfriends in a row have given skateboarder Brennan Cross the same excuse: he wasn’t meeting their needs. Desperate and humiliated, he goes to the professionals at the local sex shop for advice.

Zafir Hamady, a sales clerk at Red Hot Bluewater, has an unusual theory: he doesn’t think Brennan is a bad lover. In fact, he doesn’t think Brennan is heterosexual. Or sexual at all, for that matter. He also can’t stop thinking about Brennan. But even if he’s right and Brennan really is asexual, that doesn’t mean Zafir has a chance. Brennan’s never dated a man, and Zafir’s never met anyone who’s game for a Muslim single father with a smart mouth and a GED.

Brennan’s always thought of himself as straight. But when sex is explicitly out of the mix, he finds himself drawn to Zafir for the qualities and interests they share. And Zafir can’t help enjoying Brennan’s company and the growing bond between Brennan and his son. They work well together, but with so many issues between them, doubts creep in, and Brennan’s struggle with his identity could push away the one person he didn’t know he could love.


Review

This book does a lovely job capturing love in your late twenties when your job isn’t great and you have a lot of responsibilities.

This is a sweet and tender romance that I enjoyed very much.

A large part of the story is one hero coming understand and accept his asexuality but the equally important part is an exploration of single fatherhood with little means.

Each hero is carefully creating and it is a a really pleasure to watch them fall in love. The conflict late in the book is taken a little to far as the freak out could have remained inside the hero’s head but overall really well done.

Knight of Ocean Avenue (Love in Laguna, #1) by Tara Lain Review

    Knight of Ocean Avenue  by Tara Lain  3.5 Stars! 

How can you be twenty-five and not know you’re gay? Billy Ballew runs from that question. A high school dropout, barely able to read until he taught himself, Billy’s life is driven by his need to help support his parents as a construction worker, put his sisters through college, coach his Little League team, and not think about being a three-time loser in the engagement department. Being terrified of taking tests keeps Billy from getting the contractor’s license he so desires, and fear of his mother’s judgment blinds Billy to what could make him truly happy.

Then, in preparation for his sister’s big wedding, Billy meets Shaz—Chase Phillips—a rising-star celebrity stylist who defines the word gay. To Shaz, Billy embodies everything he’s ever wanted—stalwart, honest, brave—but even if Billy turns out to be gay, he could never endure the censure he’d get for being with a queen like Shaz. How can two men with so little in common find a way to be together? Can the Stylist of the Year end up with the Knight of Ocean Avenue?

 

Review

I liked this book a lot because of the heroes Chase and Billy. Oh, and the cats.

Their love story is a sweet one about falling in love with who you fall in love with despite the picture in your head.

Billy is just a wonderful person. It is very sad that he spent so much time surprising a part of himself from himself. Chase is pretty great too.

There are a lot of side dramas in this book but they are well done. Plus, a cool scripture battle.

There is a element of insta love despite the slower burn.

I wish more had been done with Billy’s dad who is accepting and also I didn’t believe in the mom’s turn around.

Overall, a tender romance.

How To Be A Normal Person by T.J. Klune Review

  How to Be a Normal Person by T.J. Klune 4.5 Stars!!!

Gustavo Tiberius is not normal. He knows this. Everyone in his small town of Abby, Oregon, knows this. He reads encyclopedias every night before bed. He has a pet ferret called Harry S. Truman. He owns a video rental store that no one goes to. His closest friends are a lady named Lottie with drag queen hair and a trio of elderly Vespa riders known as the We Three Queens.

Gus is not normal. And he’s fine with that. All he wants is to be left alone.

Until Casey, an asexual stoner hipster and the newest employee at Lottie’s Lattes, enters his life. For some reason, Casey thinks Gus is the greatest thing ever. And maybe Gus is starting to think the same thing about Casey, even if Casey is obsessive about Instagramming his food.

But Gus isn’t normal and Casey deserves someone who can be. Suddenly wanting to be that someone, Gus steps out of his comfort zone and plans to become the most normal person ever.

After all, what could possibly go wrong?

 

Review

 So, it looks like TJ Klune will just be getting all my money. I love discovering a new to me writer that is this good. My bank account has other feelings.

The comic pacing and imagination of this book amazes. There is such much fun and detail.

If you don’t like quirky characters, don’t read this. Every character in the book is quirky turned to 11 even the albino ferret. I delight in zane and oddball and here me roar so I was clapping with glee but they are all very strange, bright, and complexly human. Love me an old lady Vespa gang.

But under all the silly, quirk, and randomness is a very tender love story about friendship, grieving a partner, and being odd and human.

The fact that one of our heroes is asexual is thoughtfully explored and the other hero’s relationship with his beloved father is everything.

I did wish for just a bit more in terms of getting an epilogue or just more HEA but really this is the most endearing book and I can’t wait to reread it.

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!

A Rational Arrangement (Arranging Paradise Book 1) in by L. Rowyn Review

  A Rational Arrangement (Arranging Paradise Book 1) by L. Rowyn

But these are vital aspects of marriage. If one cannot discuss them, what’s the use in meeting at all? It’s like trying to decide what you’ll have for dinner without mentioning food.”

Wisteria Vasilver does wish to marry. Truly. But though she lives in Paradise, arranging a match is full of traps and pitfalls for the unwary … or perhaps just for her.

Nikola Striker, Lord of Fireholt, expects he’ll wed — someday. But not now, and never to a rich icicle of a woman like Miss Vasilver. No matter how much his parents might want the match, or his house might need her dowry. Besides, he has his own problems — most of them people who need his help as a mind-healer.

Lord Justin Comfrey, Viscount of Comfrey, would be more than happy to help Striker with his financial troubles, and not just to ensure that Miss Vasilver’s dowry doesn’t tempt Striker into marriage. If only he could find some way to make his proud, stubborn friend accept the money!

Can three people of such different temperaments ever find their way to a more perfect Paradise?

 

Review 

This book is such a pleasure of a romance. In a Regency flavored culture set after the fall of another world in a new “Paradise,”  Rowyn meticulously builds cultures, history, religions,  a wider world, and a magic systems with as much beauty as the plot, characters, and love story.

I stayed up all night reading.

The heroine, Wisteria, is going right on my favorite heroines list. Wisteria brave, kind, moral, and with the keenest of minds. She falters and is big hearted.  She is somewhere on the  autism spectrum and thus able to see past cultural norms and mores and be baffled by them. Thus, she is socially awkward and misread as cold.  The hero/s come to adore her because of who she is and this romance explores the range of what is “normal” on so many levels and compellingly.

The hero, Nik, is burdened with responsibilities and in love with someone else that he can’t have publicly and thinks doesn’t really want him out of the bedroom.   Nik is a Blessed with gift of mind healing.  As he sees Wisteria more clearly, he comes to see himself more fully as well.  Their love story is one of honesty and have a safe place. It is sexy as all get out as well.

Our third lead is Justin. He is a charmer who really has to learn to trust, risk and talk to get his HEA with both the heroine and the hero and release old ideas about himself as well as the world.  He is loyal and brave.

This is a polyamorous romance that does a wonderful job thinking about the cultural aspects of marriage and sex and human nature. The writer makes you believe in the Happily Ever After because she doesn’t pretend it isn’t complicated.

The book takes on sex, religion, faith, ability gender roles, and marriage  from a global anthropological point of view as well as a biological one (though magic based as Nik can see minds). Wisteria’s analytical nature, Justin’s realism and Nik’s humanitarianism  all come together in a moving exploration of all these topics.

All all the while, we have sexy times, conflicts of all kinds, sexual tension, banter, carriage and Great Cats who talk!

Excellent.

I so hope there are more books in this world.

Shadow’s Stand (Hell’s Eight Book 5) by Sarah McCarty Review

   Shadow’s Stand (Hell’s Eight Book 5) by Sarah McCarty 

Shadow Ochoa is lying low in the western Kansas Territory, waiting for his fellow Texas Rangers—the Hell’s Eight brotherhood—to clear his name. That is, until he’s unjustly strung up for horse thieving…and pretty Fei Yen intervenes. Invoking a seldom-used law, the exotic lady prospector claims Shadow as her husband and rides off with the bridegroom shackled to her buckboard.

Savvy, fearless Fei is single-mindedly devoted to her hidden claim and all it promises: wealth, security and freedom. A husband is just a necessary inconvenience and a name on paper to hold the claim she cannot.

Shadow isn’t a man to take orders from anyone, especially from lovely Fei—except that the daily friction between them ignites into nightly blazes of all-consuming passion. Soon Shadow is dreaming a little himself: of the life they could have if only Fei could see past the lure of independence. If only bounty hunters weren’t closing in on him. If only he’s left standing when the impending showdown has ended….

4 Stars!

Review

The hero and heroine in this book have really met their match. Sparks fly.

There is a really sense of the West in this entry into the series as our Chinese American heroine who knows how to blow things up meets our badass Mexican Indian hero.

They heal each other and have awesome sexy times. A great adventure!

The Demon Prince (Ars Numina Book 2) by Ann Aguirre 5 Star Review

   The Demon Prince (Ars Numina Book 2) by Ann Aguirre

Charming. Irreverent. Haunted.
Alastor Vega is the sole challenger in a brutal battle for succession. Against all odds, he must stop his power-mad brother, Tycho, before he destroys the Numina. Though he never wanted to rule, he must claim the throne and liberate his people, or the consequences will be calamitous. Yet only the surprising support of a beautiful Animari doctor gives him the fortitude to fight.

Focused. Analytical. Solitary.
Dr. Sheyla Halek has always been more interested in research than personal contact, but family ties—and the needs of her pride—keep her in Ash Valley, deferring her dreams. Brusque and abrasive at the best of times, she never expected to bond with anyone, let alone Golgoth royalty. Strangely, Alastor seems to need her as no one has before, and not only for her medical skills.

Their attraction is forbidden, likely doomed beyond the wildness of wartime, but these fires burn too hot and sweet to be contained…

Review

I really loved the first book in this series but this one is even better.

The heroine… The hero… The plot… The world building…. The series arc… The romance…

Spot on.

This love story takes place during the start of what will be a long war where the paranormal species must unite and fight together to defeat a cruel enemy.

Our hero is a prince of the demon shifters who must rally the exiles and his people against his brother who is the tyrant who wants more power and to the cull the weak. The hero has suffered a horrible illness his entire life and his out of his meds.

Thus, our heroine, a doctor and researcher, is assigned to him and choses to follow him to the front lines. She is a cat shifter, on the spectrum, and fierce as hell.

The hero is a charmer and burdened with his too large task.

Their love story is epic and so hot. I don’t want to spoil with the details but our heroine give the hero a safe place to just be and it is amazing.

The culture building is grand as are all the secondary characters.

This is just top notch story telling. If you like Paranormal Romance, this book is a must read for you.

I was given this book for my honest review (Though I would have bought it anyway), So, there you have it!

Reap (Scarred Souls, #2) by Tillie Cole Review

3.5 Stars

Raised as a prototype for the Georgian Bratva’s obedience drug, 221 fails to think, act, or live for himself; he’s his master’s perfectly-crafted killing puppet. Standing at six-foot-six, weighing two-hundred-and-fifty pounds, and unrivaled in to-the-death combat, 221 successfully secures business for the Georgian Mafiya Boss of NYC, who rules the dark world of the criminal underground. Until his enemies capture him.

Talia Tolstaia dreams to break from the heavy clutches of Bratva life. She dreams of another life–away from the stifling leash of her Russian Bratva Boss father and from the brutality of her work at The Dungeon, her criminal family’s underground death-match enterprise. But when she stumbles upon her family’s captive who is more monster than man, she starts to see the man underneath. A powerful, beautiful, damaged man whose heart calls to hers. But sacrifices must be made–blood for blood…life for life…souls for scarred souls…

 

Review

In this second installment of the Scarred Soul series, we get the story of Zaal. Zaal is way more intersting that Talia but thats okay.

All the elements of the first book are here but thankfully with less sexual violence (though there is enough). You need to read the first book to be really compelled by this book.

This book is a lot of about healing. It is sweet and compelling in the middle of all the over the top and brutal world building.

The heroine does some dumb things but she is steadfast.

You want Zaal to have a better like and you want Luka (from Raze) to complete his healing as well.

The romance is a fated mate/star crossed piece but again the world building really strengthens every aspect of the book.