self esteem issues

Nachos & Hash (Mary’s Boys, #1) by Brandon Witt Review

Review:

Nachos & Hash - Brandon Witt

Darwin Michaels is living his dreams in the Mile High City. While Denver offers the perfect job, scrumptious dining, and whirlwind dating options, Darwin is losing hope he’ll find the right man to spark his interest for more than a one-night stand—until he sets eyes on Cody Russell.

Cody has just accomplished his life’s goal—get the hell out of Kansas. In one fell swoop, he lands a job at Hamburger Mary’s and gets a newfound family and the chance to be with other gay people! All that’s missing is someone special. But when Darwin shows his interest, Cody is sure it’s too good to be true. After all, what can Darwin possibly see in the high school dropout serving him nachos?

As Darwin falls in love, Cody struggles to realize his worth. When his past threatens the fragile life he is building, Cody spirals into a moment of dark desperation. But Darwin is determined to show Cody that love and family and home are there for him… will Cody accept what is offered?

 

Reviews

 adore Darwin and I adore Cody. The yearning in each of them is tender. 

Darwin wants to find an man to love and Cody doesn’t think he can ask for more than what he has. 

The courtship of this book is great as is the circle of friends.

We are moving through a sweet and sexy romance when the plot takes a dark turn with some internal struggles for one of the heroes. 

And while this turn is realistic and the issue (not to give spoilers) one that deserves attention especially in a series that look critically at issues within the gay community, the turn is sharp and a more developed understanding of the character would have enrich the book.

The aftermath is better handled and we end in a very loving place.

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Empty Net (Scoring Chances Book 4) Avon Gale 4.5 Star Review!

Review:

Empty Net - Avon Gale

Spartanburg Spitfires’ goalie and captain, Isaac Drake, ended last season with an unexpected trip to the playoffs. He’s found a home and a family with his coach and mentor, Misha Samarin, and he’s looking forward to making a serious run for the Kelly Cup. But things take an interesting turn when Isaac’s archnemesis, Laurent St. Savoy, is traded to the Spitfires. After Laurent’s despicable behavior in the playoffs last year, Isaac wants nothing to do with him—no matter how gorgeous he is. But that changes when Isaac discovers the reason for Laurent’s attitude.

Laurent St. Savoy grew up the only son of a legendary NHL goalie in a household rife with abuse. He was constantly treated like a disappointment, on and off the ice. When a desperate attempt to escape his father’s tyranny sends him to the Spitfires, the last thing Laurent wants is to make friends. But there’s something about Isaac Drake that he can’t resist. Laurent has an opportunity to explore his sexuality for the first time, but he’s cracking under end-of-the-season pressures. When facing the playoffs and a rivalry turned personal vendetta, Isaac’s not sure he’s enough to hold on to Laurent—or their relationship.

 

Review

This is by far the darkest book of the series so far but this love story really shows off what an amazing storyteller Avon Gale is.

 

She takes the villain from the last book in the series Laurents and pairs him with the beloved scrappy Drake in an truely stellar enemies to lovers romance with a healing journey for all.

 

This book delves into the darkness of what happens when someone is exposed to systematic abuse and what it means to love someone enough to stand by as they heal.

Laurents is awful for a reason. However, he chooses to become aware and change and risk loving someone. He gets therapy. I can’t tell you how much I celebrate when a character gets professionial help in a book showing others the way. He works at his recovery from an eating disorder and self care from his abusive childhood and young adulthood.

 

His demisexuality is gently explored. He becomes his better self and a wonderful partner for Issac. I love the dating scenes.

 

Issac is so much a great emotionally brave character and sexy as hell (Lauren is broodingly hot). Issac just shines and finding romantic love and the love of an adopted father makes him even more compelling.

 

He falls in love but doesn’t try to solve Laurents problems. He is a partner.

 

I really adored their romance as always the hockey and the secondary characters and the pondering for friendship.

 

The books ends with a happily ever after that includes doing the right things for yourself as well as others.

Original post:
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The Sumage Solution (San Andreas Shifters, #1) by G.L. Carriger 5 Star Review!

     The Sumage Solution: San Andreas Shifters by GAIL CARRIGER 5 Stars!!

Max fails everything – magic, relationships, life. So he works for DURPS (the DMV for supernatural creatures) as a sumage, cleaning up other mages’ messes. The job sucks and he’s in no mood to cope with redneck biker werewolves. Unfortunately, there’s something oddly appealing about the huge, muscled Beta visiting his office for processing.

Bryan AKA Biff (yeah, he knows) is gay but he’s not out. There’s a good chance Max might be reason enough to leave the closet, if he can only get the man to go on a date. Everyone knows werewolves hate mages, but Bryan is determined to prove everyone wrong, even the mage in question.

Delicate Sensibilities?
This story contains M/M sexitimes and horrible puns. If you get offended easily, then you probably will. The ¬¬¬¬San Andreas Shifter stories contain blue language, dirty deeds, and outright admiration for the San Francisco Bay Area. Not for the faint of heart (mouth/tongue/etc.).

 

Review

I had a grand time reading this book. Its over the top and madcap but charming, hot, and engaging.

Humor is tough and for me this overblown paranormal world with a sarcastic hero and quirky non humans of all kinds really worked for me. I think because the heart of the story is the romance between Bryan, a beta wolf shifter able to be out about his sexuality for the first time, and a cranky, lanky not well functioning civil servant mage who had an awful childhood and a pretty crap romantic life until Bryan.

All the quirky and crazy plot around them was kept steady by the realism and the truth of this romance. It is a character driven love story set in a pretty well built and enjoyable paranormal world.

Some of the world building is a bit wonky but all the characters, banter, hot sexy times, and romance make up any flaws in a big way.

I can’t wait for more couples in this series and more time in this world.

Danced Close (Portland Heat, #6) by Annabeth Albert Review

  Danced Close (Portland Heat Book 6) by Annabeth Albert 4 Stars!

Newly clean and sober, Todd’s taken a shine to his job at Portland’s most talked about bakery. It’s not just the delicious desserts they sell, but the tasty treats who keep walking through the door. That certainly includes Kendall Rose, a wedding planner with eyes the color of brown sugar and skin to match. Todd doesn’t try to hide his attraction to Kendall’s elegant confidence and unique style, even as he worries about exposing the secrets of his past.

For Kendall, the attention is just part of the anything-goes Portland he’s grown to love. But he’s still looking for that special someone who will embrace all of him—including his gender fluidity. So he takes a chance and asks Todd to be his partner in a dance class leading to a fundraiser. When the music starts and he takes Todd in his arms, Kendall is shocked at how good it feels.  Turns out taking the lead for once isn’t a mistake. In fact, it might be time to take the next step and follow his heart . . .

 

Review

I love this series and it is best read in order to enjoy it to the fullest.

I really don’t want this to be the last book in the series. I like this world of small business a great deal.

This romance takes on addiction, recovery, and gender but does so with a light and lovely touch.

Both heros has a lot of growing to do and it is a pleasure to witness their individual journeys as will as there one as a couple.

I enjoyed the dancing in this book the most. I love the sneaky skills of the younger hero.

Very good.

Strong Enough (Family, #2) by Cardeno C. Review

  Strong Enough  by Cardeno C. 3.5 Stars!

When a casual hookup turns into the potential for love, staid Spencer realizes he wants to build a life with vibrant Emilio.

When twenty-two-year-old Emilio Sanchez sees handsome Spencer Derdinger walking by his construction site, Emilio makes it his goal to seduce the shy professor. Getting Spencer into bed isn’t difficult, but Emilio soon learns that earning the trust of a man deeply hurt will take time and patience. With a prize like brilliant, sweet Spencer on the line, Emilio decides he is strong enough to face the challenge.

Spencer is surprised when he’s approached by the gorgeous construction worker he’s admired from the safety of his office window. Acting spontaneously for the first time in his thirty-eight years, Spencer takes Emilio home. When the casual hookup turns into the potential for love, Spencer realizes that if he wants to build a life with Emilio, he’ll need to be strong enough to slay his personal demons and learn to trust again.

Review

Awww. Emilo and Spencer are great. I love how Emilo was steadfast and sure in his pursuit of Spencer. I love his kindness and care taking.

Spence takes risks even though he is pretty damaged from abusive past relationships. There is some great sexual healing in this love story.

Emilo’s family and Spencer’s friends are great. We get a wonderful opposites attract and even though there is a age difference Emilo more emotionial stability makes him a great match for Spencer and there is nice equality in the relationship.

It is sexy sweet romance with a little eye rolling moments (like that Emilo just moves right in) but overall a reread for sure.

Not a Game (Friends, #1) by Cardeno C. Review

   Not a Game  by Cardeno C. 4 Stars!

A new job, a new city, and hopefully a new life. When chubby gamer Oliver Barnaby receives a job offer from the best boutique game developer in the country, he leaves his family and his less than spectacular existence in Oklahoma without a second’s hesitation. Determined to change more than his career and his geography, Oliver implements a plan to finally land a boyfriend. Step one is improving his skills in the bedroom.

A life that looks perfect on paper, but feels empty in reality. Attractive, successful, charismatic Jaime Snow has a life other people envy. His already booming business is growing. He isn’t lacking in friends. And he has no trouble finding a date. But there’s an emptiness in Jaime’s heart and a hole in his life that only the right man can fill.

An accidental meeting, a misunderstanding, and falling in love. When Oliver and Jaime end up at the same bar at the same time, they each see something they want in the other. Going to bed together that first night is easy. Building the lifetime relationship they both desperately crave will require trust, time, and a little misunderstanding.

Review

This is a wonderful sweet romance and I can’t wait for more in the series.

There is no false drama which I adore. There are is no lack of communication and even the big reveal of the mistaken identity is handle as adults would so thats sexy as heck.

The book gets a high score from me because of the way it deals with bodies and attraction. I love that we have a big beautiful man hero. I adore the focus on him as sensual and how that plays out in the sexy times in the book.

The romance plays with mistaken identity and billionaire tropes is a lovely way as well well as the age difference.

No man whores here which makes the fact that they work on and want.a relationship a joy.

Dealing with past relationships is well done . I would have liked more on bother heroes families and more time with their support systems and much more on body type attraction *this is done in a bit too much summary and telling than shown in the past life of one of the heroes.

However, the romance in this one is great. I hope the ex-partner gets his own romance soon.

Knitter in His Natural Habitat (Granby Knitting, #3) by Amy Lane Review

 Knitter in His Natural Habitat   by Amy Lane 3 Stars! 

Stanley’s life took a left turn at a knitting shop and hit a dead end. The closest thing he’s had to a relationship breaks things off to date a “nice boy,” and none of the pretty young things in Boulder’s limited gay scene do it for Stanley. He needs to reevaluate whether working as a floor designer for a series of craft stores is really where he wants to be.

 

Then Stanley does a peculiar thing: he starts to live the life he fell into. Stitch by stitch, he knits his life into something meaningful. Just when he does, Johnny, the store’s new delivery boy, walks in.

 

Johnny is like no one Stanley has ever met: he doesn’t believe in quickies in the bathroom and has a soft spot for theater and opera. There has to be a catch. When Johnny’s dark past comes back to haunt them, Stanley realizes how much he loves his cushy life in the yarn store—but he’ll give it all up to keep the man who makes his ordinary life extraordinary.

Review

This is a book you need to read as part of the series to really enjoy it but it has lots of its own charms.

Johnny is someone we know of from the previous book and his story is compelling. I am really happy he finds his prince.

Stanley, we also met in a previous book and he is great. He learns to be treasured and treasure himself and really value his life in this book.

The romance is a bit insta love but the dating is nice.

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.

Cover Up (Skin Deep Inc. #3) by L.A. Witt 4 Star Review!

   Cover Up: A Skin Deep, Inc Novel (Skin Deep Inc.) by L.A. Wit 4 Stars! 

After ten years of blissful marriage, Navy Pilot Nate Chandler is divorcing his cheating husband. Single for the first time in years, Nate is numb to all emotion and kisses any chance of another relationship goodbye.

Not only is Nate struggling to get through this divorce, but his body is branded with a permanent reminder of his failed marriage: a matching tattoo with his ex. Searching for a place to cover up his old tattoo, Nate finds himself at the Skin Deep, Inc., where he meets the young and charming cover-up tattoo apprentice, Lucas Brandt.

From just flirty glances to steamy hot encounters, Nate and Lucas dive headfirst into a fling of hookups. But worried that he’ll forever be Nate’s “cover up” rebound relationship, Lucas fears that their love won’t be anything more than just skin deep. What was once just a casual attraction, Lucas now hopes to turn into a real relationship. But will he be able to convince the still tender-hearted Nate to fall in love again?

Review

I  read this in one sitting. I am fan of the series and I hope there will be more books though it doesn’t look like there is another couple teed up.

Lucas is a wonderful hero who is struggling to regain his feet after two divorces and starting his tattooing career. I love the way his bisexuality is presented in the book.

Nate is in the process of getting a divorce. This love story pivots on the question of rebound or not rebound.

It is a lot about loss inherent in a divorce as well. I really liked this part of the book.

The circle of friends is a real treasure in this book as is the tattooing and Navy aspects.

There could have been more depth with the family of the two heroes but overall this is a really nice read from a great series.

Hard Wired by Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell Review

   Hard Wired   by Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell 3.5 Stars! 

My FallenCon agenda is simple: sit on a couple of panels and let people meet the real me. Jesse Garvy—mod of a famous Twitch channel and, if I ever come out of my shell, future vlogger. I definitely didn’t plan to sleep with a moody tattooed fan-artist, but he’s gorgeous and can’t keep his hands off me. There’s a first time for everything, and my first time with a guy turns out to be the hottest experience of my life.

But the next day, I find out my moody fan-artist is Ian Larsen AKA Cherry—someone I’ve known online for years. And he’d known exactly who I was while shoving me up against that wall. Before I figure out whether to be pissed or flattered, the con ends.

Now we’re back online, and he’s acting like nothing happened. But despite the distance between us, and the way he clings to the safety of his online persona, we made a real connection that night. I don’t plan to let him forget.

Review

This entry in the series is way more New Adult than the first two books. It handles the issues of breaking loose from young adulthood well and becoming yourself.

It also tackles the idea of online personas and being able to be your whole self.

The romance is all messed up and so are the lives of these two heroes but you root for them and are so happy when they each starting leading better lives together.

The really good parts of this book are in all the little details I don’t want to give away.