self esteem issues

Clear Water by Amy Lane Review

  Clear Water by Amy Lane 4 Stars! 

Meet Patrick Cleary: party boy, loser, and spaz. Patrick’s been trying desperately to transform himself, and the results have been so spectacular, they’ve almost killed him. Meet Wes “Whiskey” Keenan: he’s a field biologist wondering if it’s time to settle down. When the worst day of Patrick’s life ends with Whiskey saving it, Patrick and Whiskey find themselves sharing company and an impossibly small berth on the world’s tackiest houseboat.

Patrick needs to get his life together—and Whiskey wants to help—but Patrick is not entirely convinced it’s doable. He’s pretty sure he’s a freak of nature. But Whiskey, who works with real freaks of nature, thinks all Patrick needs is a little help to see the absolute beauty inside his spastic self, and Whiskey is all about volunteering. Between anomalous frogs, a homicidal ex-boyfriend, and Patrick’s own hangups, Whiskey’s going to need all of his patience and Patrick’s going to need to find the best of himself before these two men ever see clear water.

 

Review

I think this is my favorite Amy Lane book I have read.

It has the wonderful Sacromento area setting this time on the river. I know this like might be a quirk of mine because I know the area well but I think everyone can enjoy a book that is so firmly of a place like her books are and that place doesn’t have to be glamorous just reach in the kind of details that shape a plot and character.

I love the ADHD aspects of Patrick’s character and how when paired with people who don’t expect him to be like everyone else, he is loved and learns to love his self.

We get the difference of age and the working out of those issues here like in many of Lane’s books.

Whiskey is grumpy and wonderful. Flea Bait also. So, we get this second family fun.

What I love about the book aside from the crazy sauce plot (which I do adore) is all the science, a little mystery, a lot of character growth for everyone, and couple time. I love the couple time.

Really good book!

Brute by Kim Fielding Review

   Brute by Kim Fielding  3.5 Stars!

Brute leads a lonely life in a world where magic is commonplace. He is seven and a half feet of ugly, and of disreputable descent. No one, including Brute, expects him to be more than a laborer. But heroes come in all shapes and sizes, and when he is maimed while rescuing a prince, Brute’s life changes abruptly. He is summoned to serve at the palace in Tellomer as a guard for a single prisoner. It sounds easy but turns out to be the challenge of his life.

Rumors say the prisoner, Gray Leynham, is a witch and a traitor. What is certain is that he has spent years in misery: blind, chained, and rendered nearly mute by an extreme stutter. And he dreams of people’s deaths—dreams that come true.

As Brute becomes accustomed to palace life and gets to know Gray, he discovers his own worth, first as a friend and a man and then as a lover. But Brute also learns heroes sometimes face difficult choices and that doing what is right can bring danger of its own.

  Review

I like everything this romance very much. You can’t ask for a better hero than Brute. It is a joy to see his life improve. His kindness is is heroic

Gray is a great hero too if a kind of redeemed one.

Their love story is sweet.

What I wanted more of was a better understanding of the world, magic systems, and much more couple time.

Tell Me It’s Real (At First Sight, #1) by T.J. Klune Review

   Tell Me It’s Real  by T.J. Klune 4.5 Stars! 

Do you believe in love at first sight?

Paul Auster doesn’t. Paul doesn’t believe in much at all. He’s thirty, slightly overweight, and his best features are his acerbic wit and the color commentary he provides as life passes him by. His closest friends are a two-legged dog named Wheels and a quasibipolar drag queen named Helena Handbasket. He works a dead-end job in a soul-sucking cubicle, and if his grandmother’s homophobic parrot insults him one more time, Paul is going to wring its stupid neck.

Enter Vince Taylor.

Vince is everything Paul isn’t: sexy, confident, and dumber than the proverbial box of rocks. And for some reason, Vince pursues Paul relentlessly. Vince must be messing with him, because there is no way Vince could want someone like Paul.

But when Paul hits Vince with his car—in a completely unintentional if-he-died-it’d-only-be-manslaughter kind of way—he’s forced to see Vince in a whole new light. The only thing stopping Paul from believing in Vince is himself—and that is one obstacle Paul can’t quite seem to overcome. But when tragedy strikes Vince’s family, Paul must put aside any notions he has about himself and stand next to the man who thinks he’s perfect the way he is.


Review

TJ Klune is taking all my money but its okay. I will have his books to reread when I don’t have any food,

This is a funny treasure of a book that I will reread again and again. So, even though I wish the price was a little lower, it is a great investment.

I love me a plain and chubby hero. Seriously. I do and they are so hard to find. I also love when a world is a known one so for romances with gay characters I prefer the leads to already be out.

This book is silly in the best way. It is a romp and very self aware with the best jokes, situations, and dialogue.

I read passages out loud to my husband and giggled and so did he.

The setting and the secondary characters are amazing. Kooky and zany everywhere and yet real.

Paul is wonderful. Vince is wonderful.

There is a tender exploration of imperfections. I love that neither intellectual or body perfection trump the quality of character in this book. So good!

It is a slow burn that is sexy as hell.

Bye! I am off to buy more Klune books!

Embattled Minds (Lost and Found #2) by J.M. Madden Review

   Embattled Minds by J.M. Madden  3 Stars!

Zeke Foster has little to no experience with women over the past couple of years, after being injured in Afghanistan. Brutally scarred, he has no expectation that he’ll ever find a woman capable of accepting him the way he is. But he can’t help but be enamored of Ember, the waitress of a local watering hole.
Ember Norton’s life has turned into one devastating catastrophe after another. When the scarred soldier with the kind eyes brings some security to her life, she’s afraid to trust her luck. She’s been self-sufficient for a long time. But his wounded soul calls to her and she finds herself falling for him.
In spite of the secrets he continues to keep.

Review

The portrayal of PTSD mirrored differently in several characters is very engaging in this romance.

The heroine crush on the hero and struggle with her loving but troubled father makes her endearing.

The hero has self esteem issue that while reasonable are a bit one note.

I like this book slightly better than the last one as it was more character driven which I prefer.

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!

To Woo A Warrior (Southern Sanctuary, #1) by Jane Cousins Review

   To Woo A Warrior (Southern Sanctuary Book 1)  by Jane Cousins  3.5 Stars!

t was common knowledge that Hadleigh Valhalla was a complete failure when it came to men. Too blood thirsty. Too tall at 6.6ft and without a coy bone in her too voluptuous body. If there had been a ‘fun, flirty and feminine’ test she would have failed it hands down.
Thankfully she was much more suited to her role as an Enforcer, protecting her magically enhanced eccentric extended family on a daily basis from all kinds of nasties. It was a job she loved, much preferring to be out there beheading the baddies than dating any day of the week … much less stressful.
Except now there’s a new threat in town. Great Aunt Alma, the family match maker has returned to the fold and set her sights squarely on all the singletons. Hadleigh will do anything she has to in order to avoid Alma’s matchmaking manoeuvres even if that means signing on as the newest member of the hit reality TV show ‘Paranormal Exterminators.’

Vaughn, Captain of the Goddess Maat’s elite warriors has a mission, to find and annihilate any and all magical beings that threaten to tilt the scales of justice into chaos.
A paranormal reality TV show provides the perfect cover. But there’s trouble on set. Their only female cast member has gone missing and they need a replacement fast. Enter Hadleigh Valhalla, the most luscious thing on two legs he’s seen in a century. From the moment he sets eyes on her he’s determined to make her his.
There’s only one problem, Hadleigh insists she has a strict no dating policy. Claiming she’d rather be fighting than flirting.
A series of mishaps means it’s a race against time for Vaughn and Hadleigh to discover just who is targeting the show and stop them before someone gets seriously hurt or dead. While doing so Vaughn intends to teach Hadleigh to break all the rules and prove to her she is just as much woman as she is warrior.
His warrior. His woman.

Review

I was promised a light hearted fun paranormal romp in an interesting magic system and that is exactly what I got.

I am looking forward to the frothy reading of this series with a matchmaking great aunt on the loose.

I loved the steadfast hero and the kickass warrior heroine. I wish her self esteem issues weren’t such and issue and we got more depth in the world and with each of their relationships.

However, I am sure each of these factor will build through out the series making each book more and more rich.

Size Matters (A Perfect Fit #1) by Alison Bliss Review

    Size Matters (A Perfect Fit) by Alison Bliss

Leah Martin has spent her life trying to avoid temptation. But she’s sick of low-fat snacks, counting calories, and her hyper-critical mom. Fortunately, her popular new bakery keeps her good and distracted. But there aren’t enough éclairs in the world to distract Leah from the hotness that is Sam Cooper – or the fact that he just told her mother that they’re engaged . . . which is a big, fat lie.

Sam sometime speaks before he thinks. So what started out as defending Leah’s date-ability to her judgmental mother soon turned into having a fiancee! Now the plan is to keep up the fake engagement, stay “just friends,” and make Leah’s family loathe him enough to just call the whole thing off . But Sam has an insatiable sweet tooth, not only for Leah’s decadent desserts but her decadent curves. Her full lips. Her bright green eyes. Yep, things aren’t going quite according to plan. Now Sam has to convince Leah that he’s for real . . . before their little lie turns into one big, sweet disaster.

Review

This book has all sorts of cat nip for me with a curvy heroine, friends to lovers and a fake engagement.

However, all that fun could not overcome a lack of a body positive point of view and tedious self esteem issues around weight that kept popping me out of the story.

I just couldn’t settle in because I was hoping for a book that had a richer understanding of size.

Sigh.

Wake Up Married Serial, Episodes 1 – 6 by Leta Blake and Alice Griffiths

4.5 Stars!!!

Episode One: Will & Patrick Wake Up Married

After a drunken night of hot sex in Vegas, strangers Will Patterson and Dr. Patrick McCloud wake up married. A quickie divorce is the most obvious way out—unless you’re the heir of a staunchly Catholic mafia boss with a draconian position on the sanctity of marriage. Throw their simmering attraction into the mix and all bets are off!

Episode Two: Will & Patrick Meet the Family

Meeting the family is challenging for every new couple. But for Will and Patrick, the awkward family moments only grow more hilarious–and painful–when they must hide the truth of their predicament from the people they care about most. Throw in the sexual tension flaring between them and you’ve got a recipe for madcap laughs and surprisingly heartwarming feels.

Episode Three: Will & Patrick Do the Holidays

A couple’s first holiday season is always a special time. Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve are magical when you’re in love. Too bad Will and Patrick’s marriage is a sham and they’re only faking their affection for each other. Or are they? Sparks fly in this episode of the Wake Up Married serial. Will the sexual tension between Will and Patrick finally explode in a needy night of passion? Or will they continue to deny their feelings?

Episode Four: Will & Patrick Fight Their Feelings

Will and Patrick have embraced adding hot sexy-times to their fake marriage, but as their emotions deepen, they confront whether or not they want to be more than friends-with-benefits. The heat is high (and occasionally kinky) as Will and Patrick struggle to accept their mutual affection.

Episode Five: Will & Patrick Meet the Mob

Patrick has finally accepted that he’s in love with Will, but his newfound determination to do something about that runs up against his father-in-law’s mobster plans. Will must face the truth about his family before he can fully come to terms with his feelings for Patrick. And Patrick has to decide if this whackadoodle world is something he truly wants to be part of forever.

Episode Six: Will & Patrick’s Happy Ending

Sure, Will and Patrick are in love now, but they weren’t when they got married in Vegas. For Patrick, that’s no problem, but Will can’t shake his doubts that a relationship started through coercion can ever become the real deal. Since the Molinaro crime family has reversed their position on divorce, Will and Patrick have a chance to rectify their drunken mistake. But is divorce the right choice for them?

Review

This book has all the cat nip. It is a sheer joy to read as it plays with tropes through hyperbole and reversals while mixing in powerful psychological depth.

It is at once silly and moving with a grand love story at its heart.

It would have been a 5 Star read for me but its a Serial (I hate them with all my heart) and there is some sex aftermath body stuff that happens repeatedly and is just a bit ewww for me in the way that it is described.

There is a lot of silly here that makes it fun. We have a strangers marry Vegas while drunk fun with opposites attract joy through in. They have to stay married because of an inheritance clause from the Mob family of Will who is much younger than the Patrick. Fun!

And yet each of these standard (and great in my opinion) is explored at the same time with emotionial truths. Will was drunk that night because he was relapsing in his alcoholism after getting dumped by his long time boyfriend via a phone call. The book does a beautiful job with addiction, recovery, and family made more compelling because Patrick is a neurosurgeon and looks at addiction biologically.

The mob family stuff show layers of recklessness and disfunction of Will’s family. Will has diabetes and the book details the daily life of such a disease. Will’s last relationship was awful and Patrick’s gruff but steadfast treatment and care and eventual love of will is a wonderful display what love should be. He respects and treasures Will.

Patrick is his own gruff, arrogant, funny mess. I don’t want to give to many spoilers as to why but he has a hard time with so much feeling and yet…he is the very best. The friendships he develops are their own awesome love story.

There is a joy in this book too that while internalized homophobia does come up they fact that gay marriage is legal means that everyone in the book simply looks at their marriage as a marriage.  The end.

This is just such a wonderful read with so much healing and love. Read it.

Never Say Never to an Earl (Heart of Enquiry Book 5) by Grace Callaway Review

   Never Say Never to an Earl (Heart of Enquiry Book 5) by Grace Callaway

A Wallflower Who Guards Her Secrets
Miss Polly Kent has no illusions about finding love. Not only is she a wallflower, but her freakish ability to read others’ emotions has led to devastating rejection time and again. When it comes to her future, she knows that a marriage of convenience, one in which she can keep her secret affliction hidden, is the only safe choice. Yet when fate throws her into the path of the ton’s wildest rake, she discovers that desire can jeopardize the most carefully laid plans…

A Rake Who Makes No Apologies for His Past
Sinjin Pelham, the Earl of Revelstoke and heir to a duke, has a reputation darker than London’s fog. His exploits have made him the envy of men and the desire of women, but behind his wild and jaded façade lies a painful secret. He knows that no woman can love the devil inside him, yet when he is accused of a ghastly crime, the only one who stands by him is a beautiful virgin, one whose wanton innocence makes him long for the one thing he cannot have…

When Good and Wicked Make Perfect
A marriage that begins with smoldering passion soon deepens into something more. All the while, a dangerous enemy lurks, waiting to strike. As Sinjin and Polly untangle the threads of mystery to clear his name, they must confront their greatest fears, risking all for their love—and their very lives.

4 Stars!

Review

I liked a great deal about this book and am happy to have found a good historical romance author to read!

The psychological aspects of this romance make it compelling. The hero is bi polar in a time when there is no real treatment nor understanding of the condition. The heroine has self esteem, trust, and body issues.

They are both good people and the sexual chemistry between them is hot. This is s very sexy book.

The heroine’s family is as wonderful as the hero’s family is awful.

The plot of the story is well paced with lots of great secondary characters.

The history bit is very thin even with an awful peek into the treatment of the mentally ill at the time. The heroine’s sister is fairly unlovely and doesn’t make me want her to be the heroine of the next book nor buy in this heroine’s adoration of her.

However, overall this was a very engaging read.

I Want You to Want Me (Rock Star Romance, #2) by Erika Kelly Review

3 Stars

Derek Valencia finally has the success he’s worked so hard for. His band is touring its debut album and great reviews are rolling in. But when pictures of him tossing naked groupies off a balcony go viral, it’s damage-control time. He’s assigned a “babysitter” whose sole job is to keep him out of trouble.
Violet Davis swore she’d never work in the music industry again, but being a minder for a rock star will earn her enough to pay off the mortgage on her wildflower farm. And for a girl brought up in the foster care system, owning her own home means more to her than anything.

Though at first the two bang heads, the rocker and the farm girl soon grow close and realize that they make sweet music together. But can a girl who craves the stability of life on a farm really make it work with a man whose life is spent on the road with his band?

Review

I like a great deal about this book but I dislike about the same amount.

I love how competent the heroine is and the very real portral of how foster care system shapes her. I think it is intersting how her job as a minder grew out of her emotionial intelligence gained in the system.

The hero’s self esteem struggles are also interesting. I like the close look at addiction and denial in the other characters as well as group dynamics.

Who doesn’t love a wildflower farm?

What I did not like is how long it took the hero and heroine to evolve. They really needed to at least say out loud how they thought this thing between them might or might not work and then try. Given who they are they would stumble but this would be a much better book if they just adulted a little in terms of communication.

We get horrible drama instead which makes both of them undatable.

And the other band members are such wankers. Which is fine but there is all this talk of how close and what a family they are.

We have some good moments of recognition of wankerness but I needed way more.

There is too much red haze lust in here which gets in the way of plot for me.

So…. Calix looks like a great character and is up next but I am not sure I can take all the side stuff and more lack of TALKING.