self esteem issues

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!

Dear Aaron by Mariana Zapata Review

    Dear Aaron  by Mariana Zapata 3 Stars! 

Ruby Santos knew exactly what she was getting herself into when she signed up to write a soldier overseas.

The guidelines were simple: one letter or email a week for the length of his or her deployment. Care packages were optional.

Been there, done that. She thought she knew what to expect.

What she didn’t count on was falling in love with the guy.

 

Review

There is a lot to like in this read and other parts are just rough.

Most of this book is in email and text form and for the most part that works well though there are pacing issues. The portion that is in person is pretty great but there needs to be much more of it, we get rushed to an epilogue and the epilogue is too short.

I like this couple. I like their story. I like the slow burn.

They could have talked more. Certain things don’t make sense. They would have exchanged photos and Skyped at a certain point or talked on the phone more.

I have only the vaguest idea what the heroine looks like. We get limited into the heroine’s point of view.

So, I liked it but it was frustrating

Treble Maker (Perfect Harmony, #1) by Annabeth Albert 4 Star Review

Review:

Treble Maker (#PerfectHarmony, #1) - Annabeth Albert

Cody Rivers is determined to be a rock star, but couch-surfing between bar shows gets old fast. Joining an a cappella group for a new singing competition show could be his last chance at real fame—unless the college boy from the heart of the country messes it up for him. Lucas Norwood is everything gothy, glittery Cody is not—conservative, clean-cut, and virginal. But when a twist in the show forces them together, even the sweetest songs get steamy as the attraction between them lights up the stage. Lucas wants to take it slow, but Cody’s singing a different tune—and this time it may be a love song…

 

 

Review

I don’t like reality tv shows much but I am a bit of a fan of competitive singing shows. and I love a bass voice. So… I was in.

I think that this book could have stood to be longer in order to get the characters fuller arcs and in order for choices to be made more slowly but even though I don’t think Lucas would have moved so fast nor do I think Cody would have matured this fast, I really enjoyed the book.

I don’t want to give spoilers but Lucas is in an intersting pickle as to how he acts on what he wants. The idea of not seeing a spectrum of choice and behaviors instead of saint or sinner really is shown in Lucas upbringing. And this is a New Adult romance in terms of the pain of wanting to please your family especially when they are supportive but don’t yet see you as grown.

Cody has the same basic struggle with seeing the nuance and boy does he have trust issues.

Together, they are a sexy sweet couple that I wish only the best.

Original post:
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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.

Sweet Topping (Cattle Valley #3) by Carol Lynne Review

    Sweet Topping by Carol Lynne 3 Stars! 

Wheelchair-bound, Kyle Brynn loves his home above the bakery he owns and runs. He’s proud of everything he’s managed to accomplish since the accident six years ago that took the use of his legs. At the age of twenty-six he’s an independent man living on his own, despite the protests from his family. However, with his independence comes loneliness. It’s not the townspeople’s fault that they see him as less of a man, it’s his.

Darshawn ‘Gill’ Gilling quit professional football at the height of his career without a word to the press as to why. Now settled in Cattle Valley, Gill’s happy running his garage and gas station. His life is much easier since coming out of the closet to his friends and family. He just wishes he’d had someone to come out for. Most folks in town tend to be a little awestruck when Gill comes around, but if he wanted fans he’d have stayed in football. What he really wants is that cute little baker down the street.

 

Review

This is a sweet romance. It does a decent job looking at a love life after an accident that left the one of our heros using a wheelchair.

Nicely, the books begins several years after the injury and he has a fully life and a hot man with a huge crush on him.

There is nothing really wrong with this book but the setting, the characters, and the plot are pretty thin. As with a lot of long running series, it likely relies on the series as a whole to build depth.

This is my first book in the series. I may or may not read more.

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.

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.