panic attack

Strong Signal by Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell Review

Strong Signal (Cyberlove Book 1) by Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell 4 Stars! 

I was counting down the months until the end of my deployment. My days were spent working on military vehicles, and I spent my nights playing video games that would distract me until I could leave Staff Sergeant Garrett Reid behind.

That was when I met him: Kai Bannon, a fellow gamer with a famous stream channel.

I never expected to become fixated on someone who’d initially been a rival. And I’d never expected someone who oozed charm to notice me—a guy known for his brutal honesty and scowl. I hadn’t planned for our online friendship to turn into something that kept me up at night—hours of chatting evolving into filthy webcam sessions.

But it did. And now I can’t stop thinking about him. In my mind, our real life meeting is perfect. We kiss, we fall into bed, and it’s love at first sight.

Except, like most things in my life, it doesn’t go as planned.

Review

I was charmed by this romance which takes on heavy issues of growing up in the rust belt, being queer in the army, middle eastern wars, anxiety, and panic and also thinks carefully about love connections over the internet and still manages to be sexy as hell with enduring and endearing characters.

Kai and Garrett are a wonderful pair of heroes. All the long distance and remote courting is well done and then the reconciling the demands of money, time, and mental health take this love story to the next level.

There are all sorts of intersting ideas explored from introversion to sex work but the story telling is engaging and compelling and they really earn that Happily Ever After.

I am thrilled we get to see them in more books in this series.

Glitterland by Alexis Hall Review

Glitterland  by Alexis Hall 4 Stars! 

Once the golden boy of the English literary scene, now a clinically depressed writer of pulp crime fiction, Ash Winters has given up on love, hope, happiness, and — most of all — himself. He lives his life between the cycles of his illness, haunted by the ghosts of other people’s expectations.

Then a chance encounter at a stag party throws him into the arms of Essex boy Darian Taylor, an aspiring model who lives in a world of hair gel, fake tans, and fashion shows. By his own admission, Darian isn’t the crispest lettuce in the fridge, but he cooks a mean cottage pie and makes Ash laugh, reminding him of what it’s like to step beyond the boundaries of anxiety.

But Ash has been living in his own shadow for so long that he can’t see past the glitter to the light. Can a man who doesn’t trust himself ever trust in happiness? And how can a man who doesn’t believe in happiness ever fight for his own?

Review

Alexis Hall makes the ending up to me by adding a short story that was really needed to make this book complete.

Darian. I love him. He is clever and knows himself. Ash has to grow a lot in this book to deserve him but he does.

This book has all the wonderful trademarks of a Hall book-contending with imperfect characters, setting, class and such love.

We get a great romantic gesture and a well needed grovel. As well as a wonderful look at how to let other people make their own choices and live (and thrive) with who we are.

Good stuff!

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.

Beta Test by by Annabeth Albert Review

  Beta Test (#gaymers Book 2) by Annabeth Albert 4 Stars! 

Brilliant graphic designer Ravi Tandel is ahead of the game—he’s just been asked to present a top secret project at a huge conference in Seattle. All systems are go…until he learns his buttoned-up office nemesis is coming along for the ride.

Tristan Jones isn’t really the gamer type, but he knows the back end of the video game business inside out. Together, he and Ravi will give an awesome presentation. If they survive the cross-country trip first.

Tossed together in close quarters, Ravi’s shocked to see Tristan’s sexy, softer side emerge from such a conservative shell. He’s less shocked to learn his handsome colleague’s prominent family would never support an out-and-proud son. But Ravi didn’t struggle through his own coming out to hide who he is now. To be together, Tristan will have to push past his fear and ultimately decide: Does he want a future with Ravi? Or is it game over before they’ve even begun?

 

Review

I am becoming a huge fan of Annabeth Albert! I have no doubt by the end of the year I will have read her entire backlist and being eagerly waiting for her next book.

This is another character driven book which is my favorite. It stars heroes we don’t understand very well at first but become more and more vulnerable and complex as the book moves on. I end up adoring both of them.

There are a few details I would have liked to spend more time with like Tristian panic attack early in the book but everything else in the romance is so detailed and lovely.

A super sexy opposites attract road trip office romance that deals with family obligations and the baggage left over from past relationships.

Such a wonderful read.

Carry the Ocean (The Roosevelt, #1) by Heidi Cullinan 5 Star Review

    Carry the Ocean  by Heidi Cullinan 5 Stars! 

Normal is just a setting on the dryer.

High school graduate Jeremey Samson is looking forward to burying his head under the covers and sleeping until it’s time to leave for college. Then a tornado named Emmet Washington enters his life. The young man with a double major in math and computer science is handsome, forward, wicked smart, interested in dating Jeremey—and he has autism.

But Jeremey doesn’t judge him for that. He’s too busy judging himself, as are his parents, who don’t believe in things like clinical depression. When Jeremey’s untreated illness reaches a critical breaking point, Emmet is the white knight who rescues him and brings him along as a roommate to The Roosevelt, a quirky new assisted living facility.

As Jeremey and Emmet find their feet at The Roosevelt, they begin to believe they can be loved for the men they are beyond their disabilities. But before they can trust enough to fall head over heels, they must trust their own convictions that friendship is a healing force and love can overcome any obstacle.

 

Review

I love this book. Sitting down to write this review, I just want to go and read it again.

Each character is complex, human and complete. They inhabit a full world. The writing is beautiful and dialogue compelling.

The details weave together in wonderful layer upon layer to create a love story with all the kinds of love.

This is not a light hearted romance but the ache here is really just the ache of being human.

As a disabled person, I really valued to discussion of adaptations, modification, and normality that are part and parcel of living in with a different t body, chemistry and/or mind that the majority.

Depression and anxiety are explored here better than I have ever read. They are part of the character but not all of him. And while there are things that are common to people with this disorder, the understanding that he is unique is clear as well.

The exploration of autism is just as powerfully done. I love that fact that even though the autistic hero seems outwardly more disabled, it is the more “normal” hero that is newer to journey of living with his disability rather than around it.

I love the layers of the parental reaction to this very young couple. The romance told in alternating points of very is beautiful. The writer shows the difficult of the relationship and its joy.

My favorite part of the book aside from the characters is the therapy sessions. Both heroes go and the parents.

I wish everyone had support like this to shine the light on love and self acceptance and the pain of being human. And the science of it all. So good.

I highly recommend this book for the romance and everything else.

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.

What Goes on Tour (The Texan Quartet #1) by Claire Boston Review

3 Stars

Few people know that socially awkward Adrian Hart is actually rock god Kent Downer, and that’s the way Adrian likes it. His privacy is essential, especially now that he has guardianship of his orphaned, ten-year-old niece, Kate. But when the nanny quits in the middle of his tour Adrian finds himself in a bind.

Until Libby Myles walks into his life.

Libby has only ever wanted to become a full-time author and prove to her parents that she can make it on her own. On the surface, the temporary job as the nanny for Kent Downer’s niece looks perfect—the pay is fabulous, the hours are short and Kate is a big fan—it’s the rock star that’s the issue.

Arrogant and way too attractive for anyone’s good, Kent Downer has enough swagger to power a small city. But when he’s out of costume he’s different—shy and uncertain. For Libby it’s a far harder combination to resist. She needs to find a balance between work, writing and ignoring her attraction to the rock star, because if she falls for him, it could mean the end of her dream.

But when a horrible scandal is unleashed—putting young Kate in danger—there’s more heat between Libby and Adrian than just sexual attraction. Libby must figure out if Adrian ever cared for her, or if it was all just part of the show …

Review

This book made me a bit batty I loved the idea of a stage persona for the hero and a shy off stage persona. The hero is great uncle and the kid is great. The heroine is pretty wonderful in personality too. Her writing life is engaging.

Then, everything else is fairly lame. The lack of security made me nuts. The lack of complexity in the other characters and meanness was not enjoyable. The sudden I am going to have a 3 week affair didn’t feel in tone. And the lack of communication about events as well as the heroine’s deep scarring from one love event in the past.

So, yeah, Not bad but not good for me.