neglect

Bear, Otter, and the Kid (Bear, Otter, and the Kid #1) by T.J. Klune Review

Bear, Otter, and the Kid (Bear, Otter, and the Kid Chronicles Book 1) by T.J. Klune 3.5 Stars!

Three years ago, Bear McKenna’s mother took off for parts unknown with her new boyfriend, leaving Bear to raise his six-year-old brother Tyson, aka the Kid. Somehow they’ve muddled through, but since he’s totally devoted to the Kid, Bear isn’t actually doing much living—with a few exceptions, he’s retreated from the world, and he’s mostly okay with that. Until Otter comes home.

Otter is Bear’s best friend’s older brother, and as they’ve done for their whole lives, Bear and Otter crash and collide in ways neither expect. This time, though, there’s nowhere to run from the depth of emotion between them. Bear still believes his place is as the Kid’s guardian, but he can’t help thinking there could be something more for him in the world… something or someone.

 

Review

I liked this book much more after I read the sequel. Why? I think the characters are more developed in the second book and looking back at this book I could forgive the things that irrated me, the way I might forgive a teenager for annoying behavior. I will get to those behaviors later.

I picked this series up because I have read TJ Klune before and liked his quirky characters, We get that quirk here in spades with Bear and the Kid and some great side characters but there is a lot of angst as well.

The love in this circle of friends is amazing and Bear’s mile a minute brain and the genius Kid are charming,. Otter is a great romantic lead as well. Nice friends to lovers themes as well as in love with my best friends brother, raising my sibling, age difference, loved forever, and and class difference going on as well.

There is a bunch of drama but it is the kind of drama that comes from being raised in poverty with a neglectful alcoholic parent and being young so it made sense.

The annoying parts of the book were Bear’s hot cold and oblivious relationship with his sexuality and his own feelings. As well a lack of discussion of bisexuality, demi sexuality, or pan sexuality.

This resistance and ping ponging created false drama: the acceptance, denial, lack of communication, freak outs, embracing and running screaming all at the same time. You could say well Bear is young and doesn’t have good role models but that doesn’t explain Otter’s non direct communication or make it less irritating as it went on and on and happened again and again beyond what I thing the characters would honestly do. These moments soured the book in places for me where relationship building and dealing with the fall out of changing connections for everyone involved could have been in its place.

Never the less, I enjoyed the book well enough to read the next one but am happy I bought this one on sale.

Where We Left Off (Middle of Somewhere Book 3) by Roan Parrish Review

 Where We Left Off (Middle of Somewhere Book 3) by Roan Parrish  4 Stars!

Leo Ware may be young, but he knows what he wants. And what he wants is Will Highland. Snarky, sophisticated, fiercely opinionated Will Highland, who burst into Leo’s unremarkable life like a supernova… and then was gone just as quickly.

For the past miserable year, Leo hasn’t been able to stop thinking about the powerful connection he and Will shared. So, when Leo moves to New York for college, he sweeps back into Will’s life, hopeful that they can pick up where they left off. What begins as a unique friendship soon burns with chemistry they can’t deny… though Will certainly tries.

But Leo longs for more than friendship and hot sex. A romantic to his core, Leo wants passion, love, commitment—everything Will isn’t interested in giving. Will thinks romance is a cheesy fairy tale and love is overrated. He likes his space and he’s happy with things just the way they are, thank you very much. Or is he? Because as he and Leo get more and more tangled up in each other’s lives, Will begins to act like maybe love is something he could feel after all.

 

Review

Leo and Will.

This romance unspools and it ends up being quite lovely and tender. However, it takes a long time to be sure of the love story and we have to trust in Roan Parrish to get us there.

She does.

Will and Leo are precarious. Leo is young and has a crush and is romantic. Will is closed off and use to people hanging ideas on him.

How do they become fuller selves? How do they both grow? They do.

There is a ton negotiate here a lot of philosophical ground is covered in the novel. What does it mean to romantic? What are scripts we follow? How beauty works? What is love? How to be yourself and let some one else be their self? How to be together and apart?

Will and Leo don’t really get together in a full emotionial way for a lot of the book. There are lots of fits and starts.

It is still sexy and very loving and its humanness hurts a bit as well.

This would have been a stronger romance for me if it had been told with changing points of view between Will and Leo. We get Leo’s voice mainly and because Will struggles to open emotionially, I struggled with a full embrace of the love I know he must feel.

I look forward to the series continuing and hope to see Will and Leo even further along in other books. The last scene is great.

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.

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!

 

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Far from Home (Belladonna Ink, #1) by Lorelie Brown 5 Star Review!

    Far From Home   by Lorelie Brown 5 Stars!

My name is Rachel. I’m straight . . . I think. I also have a mountain of student loans and a smart mouth. I wasn’t serious when I told Pari Sadashiv I’d marry her. It was only party banter! Except Pari needs a green card, and she’s willing to give me a breather from drowning in debt.

My off-the-cuff idea might not be so terrible. We get along as friends. She’s really romantically cautious, which I find heartbreaking. She deserves someone to laugh with. She’s kind. And calm. And gorgeous. A couple of years with her actually sounds pretty good. If some of Pari’s kindness and calm rubs off on me, that’d be a bonus, because I’m a mess—anorexia is not a pretty word—and my little ways of keeping control of myself, of the world, aren’t working anymore.

And if I slip up, Pari will see my cracks. Then I’ll crack. Which means I gotta get out, quick, before I fall in love with my wife.

Review

Hot Goddess Damn. This was such a great book. One of my best of the year, for sure!

It starts kind of the middle of things and we are pretty deep in Rachel’s head so it is a bit disorienting at first. However, this feeling passes quickly and it is easy to give myself over to the exquisiteness of Brown’s writing and her intricately built character driven romance.

Brown plays with one of my favorite theme’s the marriage of convenience. Pari needs a green card marriage to go into business for herself and Rachel needs help with bills to get out from under her student loan debt.

Pari has more power in many ways but she never ever belittles Rachel. I can’t tell you how hot that is. Well, maybe I can. It is volacnic lava hot. Pari is just plain burning sexy anyway as we see her through Rachel’s eyes but she isn’t perfect and that makes her all the more lovely.

Rachel struggle with an eating disorder in the novel. The love story is a detailing of living and loving in recovery and not always winning. This aspect of the book is powerful.

The romance is everything. I don’t want to give anything away but it is no way “gay for you” which makes me a little nuts as a queer person and as reader. I side eye those books hard even though I sometimes read them.

The cast of characters is great as is the SoCal setting. The inter culture aspects of the romance are well done as is a look at late twenties, early thirties living Being deep in Rachel’s POV, we don’t get as much from Prvi as I might like but I think this POV was the right choice for this story.. The plot is well paced, lush, painful, tender, and with a great realistic closing.

I want to reread it and I am thrilled this is a series and I will get to see this couple in other books as their friends have their own stories. I bought the next book and I read this on Overdrive from the library but I just bought my own copy because I know this will be a comfort reread.

So! Woo hoo! A Five Star Read! Happiness!

Antisocial by Heidi Cullinan 5 Star Review

Review:

Antisocial - Heidi Cullinan

A single stroke can change your world.

Xander Fairchild can’t stand people in general and frat boys in particular, so when he’s forced to spend his summer working on his senior project with Skylar Stone, a silver-tongued Delta Sig with a trust fund who wants to make Xander over into a shiny new image, Xander is determined to resist. He came to idyllic, Japanese culture-soaked Benten college to hide and make manga, not to be transformed into a corporate clone in the eleventh hour. 

Skylar’s life has been laid out for him since before he was born, but all it takes is one look at Xander’s artwork, and the veneer around him begins to crack. Xander himself does plenty of damage too. There’s something about the antisocial artist’s refusal to yield that forces Skylar to acknowledge how much his own orchestrated future is killing him slowly…as is the truth about his gray-spectrum sexuality, which he hasn’t dared to speak aloud, even to himself.

Through a summer of art and friendship, Xander and Skylar learn more about each other, themselves, and their feelings for one another. But as their senior year begins, they must decide if they will part ways and return to the dull futures they had planned, or if they will take a risk and leap into a brightly colored future—together.

 

Review

While I love the romance in this in this book, the discussion of art is so powerful, it often steals the show.

 

This romance is a slow burn and not just because one of the heroes is asexual. The fall in love is really pretty magical as they take down wall after wall for each other.

 

It is also a very well done New Adult with the kinds of conflict that have to do with finding new understanding of your family of origins and becoming your fuller self.

 

The setting is compelling as the circle of friends that builds and the mythology contained in the manga and an exploration of toxic masculinity from all parts of the policatal spectrum that is explored.

 

The writing is lyrical and lovely and while the pace might be too slow for some, it really worked for me.

 

At the heart of this book is the love story which is all about intimacy.

 

So very good!

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Chase in Shadow (Johnnies #1) by Amy Lane Review

Review:

Chase in Shadow  - Amy Lane

Chase Summers: Golden boy. Beautiful girlfriend, good friends, and a promising future. 

Nobody knows the real Chase.

Chase Summers has a razor blade to his wrist and the smell of his lover’s goodbye clinging to his skin. He has a door in his heart so frightening he’d rather die than open it, and the lies he’s used to block it shut are thinning with every forbidden touch. Chase has spent his entire life unraveling, and his decision to set his sexuality free in secret has only torn his mind apart faster. 

Chase has one chance for true love and salvation. He may have met Tommy Halloran in the world of gay-for-pay—where the number of lovers doesn’t matter as long as the come-shot’s good—but if he wants the healing that Tommy’s love has to offer, he’ll need the courage to leave the shadows for the sunlight. That may be too much to ask from a man who’s spent his entire life hiding his true self. Chase knows all too well that the only things thriving in a heart’s darkness are the bitter personal demons that love to watch us bleed.

Review

 

Well. This book is a trigger fest (suicide, depression, eating disorder, PTSD, childhood trauma, and abuse) and we get buried pretty deep in Chase’s mind (and for much of the book he is not okay).

 

So much happens in this book. I can’t talk about much of it without spoilers It is a pretty crazy ride.. My favorite is Chase gets therapy. Tommy does too and I would have liked to see more of that.

 

How this couple gets together is rough but the after they are together parts are the best bits in the book to me and I wish that had happened earlier.

 

I like this couple. I read this book because of meeting Tommy in Freckles. They earn a happily ever after I can believe in (even though there is a twist at the end that is hard to take lol)

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Ruck Me (A Play On series short) by C.D. Brennan Review

    Ruck Me by C.D. Brennan  3.5 Series 

Dependable and hard-working Dave Marsden is the loose-head prop for the Traverse City Blues. A big man with an even bigger heart, Dave doesn’t let the other players’ ribbing bother him about owning the premier flower shop in town. In fact, little in life bothers him…that is until his world collides with Sierra Richards, a teammate’s sister.

Now Dave is questioning everything. Thanks to their fierce physical attraction, his world has gone askew. Could a sexy siren like Sierra really fall in love with a big oaf like him? Sierra challenges Dick’s concept of normal with her slightly criminal attitude. With her computer hacking skills, she constantly pushes the boundaries of the law. And when Sierra’s hacking finally catches up to her, will Dave rescue her from her own misdeeds?

Because there is a right and there is a wrong, right?

Review

Dave is a wonderful hero. He is thoughtful, kind, respectful, appreciative, and sexy. He has a great deal of complexity to him as he loves rugby and loves running his flower business.

It is fun to be in this rugby world again. This love story is on the hotter end of the scale and Brennan is again exploring characters with some pretty serious flaws which I like.

The heroine is kind of Dave’s opposite but for the sexy part. She has reason for being suspicious and rude. I think if I had had a better idea of her age I might have warmed up to her faster.

Here is the thing though the novella and the set up for the romance don’t give her the room she needs to grow up, heal, and become less reactive and more her best self.

Dave loves her because she is hot, fierce, bold, smart, and protective which are all good qualities but she is also co dependent, enabling, angry, and has some issues with selfhood (which all makes total sense).

I want her to evolve and to really see her and David in a relationship with its day to day struggles after the first weeks.

We spend a good amount of time with another character who even though we are suppose to have some empathy for I still find repulsive. lol

I will keep reading in this series but hope great character like Dave get more of a love story than this novella offers.

I was given this book for my honest review. So there you have it!

Behind the Curtain by Amy Lane Review

  Behind the Curtain by Amy Lane 3.5 Stars! 

Dawson Barnes recognizes his world is very small and very charmed. Running his community college theater like a petty god, he and his best friend, Benji know they’ll succeed as stage techs after graduation. His father adores him, Benji would die for him, and Dawson never doubted the safety net of his family, even when life hit him below the belt.

But nothing prepared him for falling on Jared Emory’s head.

Aloof dance superstar Jared is a sweet, vulnerable man and Dawson’s life suits him like a fitted ballet slipper. They forge a long-distance romance from their love of the theater and the magic of Denny’s. At first it’s perfect: Dawson gets periodic visits and nookie from a gorgeous man who “gets” him—and Jared gets respite from the ultra-competitive world of dancing that almost consumed him.

That is until Jared shows up sick and desperate and Dawson finally sees the distance between them concealed painful things Jared kept inside. If he doesn’t grow up—and fast—his “superstar” might not survive his own weaknesses. That would be a shame, because the real, fragile Jared that Dawson sees behind the curtain is the person he can see spending his life with.

 

Review

I really enjoyed this book. Dawson is a lovely main character. He is so himself and asks for what he wants and needs. His circle of friends is great.

I love the community college setting and the tech side of theater. The issues of virginity and distance relationships are nicely explored here.

Jared is a complex hero and I do wish we had gotten more time in his head. I like him and feel for his pain. The last section books hurts a bit because of the cruelty of others but we come out okay.

We get two secondary romance here. Woo hoo!

A lot more epilogue would enrich. Amber needs her own book, Just saying

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!