poverty

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.

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!

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.

The Space Merchants (The Space Merchants, #1) by Wendie Nordgren Review

    The Space Merchants by Wendie Nordgren  2.5 Stars

Teagan Green dreams of escaping the drudgery of Earth and traversing the stars.

How will her dreams come true when events from her past are intent on destroying her?

As soon as Teagan Green turns eighteen, she leaves her painful childhood behind and travels as far as her credits will take her. In Union Port City, she is homeless until she becomes a reclamation worker. Teagan’s only dream is to one day make it up into the stars. She gets her wish when she is hired as a domestic assistant on Tora, a merchant starship. On Tora, Teagan meets Yukihyo Lee, an alien who survived the brutal slaughter of his entire clan at the hands of the Parvac Empire. Yukihyo is of a race in which the males require emotional bonds with their females in order to control their aggressive tendencies. He finds that bond in Teagan. While exploring the Galaxic Expanse with the crew of Tora, Teagan discovers a universe full of beauty and danger, true love, and her own personal worth.

Review

This is long and slow and the idea that it goes on to at least four more books with same heroine is really more than I can take,

There are things I really like about it. The world building is good. I love the pets.

However, there is so much wish fulfillment in the writing I just don’t feel like a real character gets developed for anyone. There is a lot of plat but who people are doesn’t really move that plot.

Its sweet but not compelling or warming.

The Truth As He Knows It (Perspectives #1) by A.M. Arthur Review

    The Truth As He Knows It: (Perspectives #1) by A.M. Arthur 3 Stars! 

Lies are the chains that keep you weighed down at rock bottom.

Officer Noel Carlson isn’t out to anyone in small-town Stratton, Pennsylvania, only to distant friends and family, so a relationship is out of the question. That doesn’t stop him from wanting one, though.

When a night-shift call brings him face to thonged butt with a hired stripper whose girl-party gig went terribly wrong, Noel takes pity on the guy and lets him go. But he can’t get the encounter out of his mind.

Shane has big-time debts to repay, especially to the brother who sacrificed nearly everything for him. His two jobs, in a deli and as a stripper, leave him no time for a social life. But a non-date of hot sex and takeout food with Noel? He can squeeze that in.

The bond they form is stronger than either expected or wanted. Especially since the step Shane’s about to take to put his brother—and his soul—back in the black isn’t quite legal. And he never calculated just how much his determination to make things right will cost him in the end.

Review

I am not a huge fan of this amount of awful in a story. It is a tear jerker for sure and the HEA part of the story doesn’t get stretched out enough for me to make up for the ugly cry.

I was clearly engaged (thus the crying). But I am not sure if that was over the issues themselves–medical debt, poverty, prison, abuse, death of a loved one as it was the story its self.

I liked everyone but needed a breather between all the awful

Stuff (The Bristol Collection, #2) by Josephine Myles Review

   Stuff (The Bristol Collection Book 2) by Josephine Myles  4 Stars! 

Tobias “Mas” Maslin’s doesn’t need much. A place of his own, weekends spent clubbing, and a rich boyfriend for love and security. Pity his latest sugar daddy turns out to be married with kids. Mas wants to be special, not someone’s dirty little secret.

When he loses his job and his flat on the same day, Mas’s world starts unravelling… until he stumbles across a down-at-heel vintage clothes shop. Now he just needs to convince the delightfully shy owner he’s in need of a new salesman.

Perry Cavendish-Fiennes set up Cabbages and Kinks solely to annoy his controlling father. He’d much rather spend every spare moment on his true passion, art. That is until Mas comes flaming into his life, talking nineteen to the dozen and turning his world upside down.

Against his better judgment Perry offers Mas a job and a place to live, but it turns out he should have listened to his instincts. The shop is already financially on the brink, and Mas’s flirting makes him feel things he’s never felt for a man. Yet Mas seems convinced they can make a go of it—in the shop, and together. That is, until Mas’s past starts to catch up with him…

 

Review

This book looks like it might be a rom com because the characters are writ fairly large and quirky as all get out but these is an ache in this book that takes it deeper.

Perry is an artist but a very passive (for the most part) person who let things happen to him and uses inaction to make choices. This is balanced against how very driven and quirky he is at the same time.

Mas is an pretty assertive person who needs much more self reflection and is young and reactive but also very clever and wise. The time with Perry gives time to grow up a bit and soften.

The lack of communication and false drama of misunderstanding hurt my enjoyment of the romance but I love the writing and the characters.

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.

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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Like a Lover (Housemates Book 2) by Jay Northcote Review

    Like a Lover (Housemates Book 2) by Jay Northcote 3.5 Stars! 

Josh has a plan: get through uni with a good degree and no debts. Focused on his goals, he’s working as an escort to pay his way. He enjoys the no-strings sex and doesn’t have the time or inclination for a relationship. Falling in love definitely isn’t part of the deal–especially not with a client.

When Rupert meets Josh in a bar, he’s smitten on sight. He’s never paid for sex before, but when Josh propositions him, he can’t resist. He should have known one night would never be enough. Luckily for him, he has an inheritance to support his addiction to Josh, because his job in IT wouldn’t cover the cost.

With each appointment the lines get increasingly blurred. Something is developing between them that feels more like a relationship than a business transaction, but they come from different worlds and to go from client-and-escort to lovers seems impossible. If they want a future together, Josh and Rupert have a lot to overcome.

 

Review

 This is another sweet character driver romance form Northcote.

I am not a huge fan of the escort troupe but Josh is so okay with it and Rupert is a doll.

There is no too much drama and a lovely sexy romance.

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.