short hero

Between a Rock and a Hard Place by Amy Jo Cousins 4 Star Review

    Between a Rock and a Hard Place (Bend or Break Book 6)  by Amy Jo Cousins 4 Stars!

When friends lose the benefits, can the friendship be saved?

Love Me Like A Rock

With the right art tools, there’s almost nothing Austin can’t make real. Except an official relationship with his best friend, rowing teammate and occasional hookup, Vinnie.

Emotional and sexual frustration fuel a spark between Austin and Sean, the nude model in drawing class. After a quick and very dirty encounter, all the reasons Austin has been waiting for Vinnie go fuzzy in his mind.

But if Austin can’t get his head and his heart on the same page, he could lose both his friend, and his lover.

Hard Candy

Vincent always assumed he and Austin would eventually end up together. But now that Austin’s in love with another man, Vinnie is at a loss.

After the world’s most awkward one-night stand with Bryan, a dance major, Vinnie is drawn to his vibrant spirit and calm center.

Physically, the rowing jock and the glittery dancer can match each other stroke for booty pop. But for the lovers to meet on common ground, they’ll have to find a way to get moving in the same direction.

 

Review

This is a lovely pairing of a romance.

We get two best friends Austin and Vinnie who are not good romantic partners for each other. They each find love that helps them grow and become their richer selves.

I enjoyed Austin and Sean romance a great deal. I do wish that we had been in Sean’s head. He was a great character I loved how he went after his crush on Austin. This is a wonderful coming of age story for Austin where he learns to love and be loved. Sexy too with lots of fun moments.

Vinnie and Bryan’s romance is a bit more moody. As they come together to trust as well as like each other the tenderness of the romance comes in. There is an intersting discussion of sexual desire that I wish had more page time but overall I was really happy with this queer New Adult Romance.

The overlap and braid of the two love stories makes this book special.

The Pill Bugs of Time (Offbeat Crimes #2) by Angel Martinez Review

The Pill Bugs of Time (Offbeat Crimes Book 2) - Angel Martinez

Relationship and communication issues plague Officer Vikash Soren, but those are nothing compared to facing stick-throwing tumbleweeds, pill bugs and…time travel?

Vikash Soren, the perfect police officer except for his odd paranormal ability, never seems to lose his temper. Always serene and competent, he’s taken on the role of mediator in a squad room full of misfits. But on the inside, he’s a mess. Unable to tell his police partner that he loves him, Vikash struggles silently, terrified of losing Kyle as a lover, partner and friend.

 

But life in the 77th Precinct doesn’t leave much room for internal reflection. A confrontation with a stick-throwing tumbleweed in Fairmount Park leads to bizarre consequences involving pill bugs, statues and…time travel? If Vikash manages to survive the week and stay in one point in time, he might be able to address normal things like relationship problems. He just needs Kyle to have a little more patience. Maybe a few centuries’ worth.

 

Review

 

This is the second book in the Off Beat Crimes series and the world and characters are great.

 

Kash and Kyle from the first book are on the case. Being closeted at work is taking a toll on their relationship and they have a case to solve.

 

I liked all the adventure elements and the emotionial struggles of Kash’s character.

It was a fun read with a nice romance and HEA.

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Winter Ball (Winter Ball #1) by Amy Lane Review

   Winter Ball by Amy Lane 4 Stars!!

Through a miserable adolescence and a lonely adulthood, Skipper Keith has dreamed of nothing but family. The closest he gets is the rec league soccer team he coaches after work—and his star player and best friend, Richie Scoggins.

One brisk night in late October, a postpractice convo in Richie’s car turns into a sexual encounter neither of them expected—nor want to forget. Soon Skip and Richie are living for the weekends and their winter league soccer games—and the games they enjoy off the field. Through broken noses, holiday decorating, and the killer flu, they learn more about each other than they ever dreamed possible. Every new discovery takes them further beyond the boundaries of the soccer field and into the infinite possibilities of the best relationship of Skipper’s life.

Skipper can’t dream of a better family than Richie—but Richie’s got real family entanglements he can’t shake off. Skipper needs to convince Richie to stay with him beyond winter ball so the relationship they started on the field might become their happy future in real life!

Review

Awwww.

I love a friends to lovers romance. This is a wonderful one between Richie and Skip. These two heroes have both had really not satisfying romantic relationships in their past with women. The premise here is that because of their backgrounds (less educated with less resources exposing them to a wider point of view and language to think about things) and the hyper masculinity and homophobia of their home cultures, it didn’t occur to them that they were gay–that their sexuality was not heterosexual.

It is an intersting premise which I struggle to match to my own set of truths and feel classism at work here, I thought for these characters the idea worked. Especially for Richie who had so much to lose if he even let in the glimmer of the thought that he might not be straight.

Richie and Skip have been falling in love for years and here we get to see it move into romantic and sexual., They also both need comfort and home.

The soccer bits are great as is the circle of friends. Richie and Skip do a wonderful job communicating inside and outside of the bedroom and it is lovely.

Body imagine is discussed in compelling ways as Skio use to be overweight and Richie is a short man. It is a very loving book where the villains get what they have coming but there is a realism too,

I bought the next book right away and hope there is a third or more in this series.

Let It Snow (Minnesota Christmas Book 1) Heidi Cullinan Review

   Let It Snowby Heidi Cullinan 3.5 Stars! 

The weather outside is frightful, but this Minnesota Northwoods cabin is getting pretty hot.

Stylist Frankie Blackburn never meant to get lost in Logan, Minnesota, but his malfunctioning GPS felt otherwise, and a record-breaking snowfall ensures he won’t be heading back to Minneapolis anytime soon. Being rescued by three sexy lumberjacks is fine as a fantasy, but in reality the biggest of the bears is awfully cranky and seems ready to gobble Frankie right up.

Marcus Gardner wasn’t always a lumberjack—once a high-powered Minneapolis lawyer, he’s come home to Logan to lick his wounds, not play with a sassy city twink who might as well have stepped directly out of his past. But as the northwinds blow and guards come down, Frankie and Marcus find they have a lot more in common than they don’t. Could the man who won’t live in the country and the man who won’t go back to the city truly find a home together? Because the longer it snows, the deeper they fall in love, and all they want for Christmas is each other.

 

Review

I had a lot of fun reading this Christmas Romance because Frankie is a delight. He is kind and funny.

Marcus worked my nerves a bit as he stays gruff and grumpy a bit too long and it takes forever for him to see clear of his cheating ex.

Frankie is big hearted and takes risks. All the snowbound fun is great and good look in to North Minnesota culture.

While, I thought Marcus’s friends were a bit over the top, I am wishing them luck with other people in love.

Christmas Kitsch by Amy Lane 5 Star Review!

  Christmas Kitsch by Amy Lane  5 Stars!

Sometimes the best thing you can get for Christmas is knowing what you really want.

Rusty Baker is a blond, rich, entitled football player in a high school full of them — just the type of oblivious jock all the bullied kids hate. And he might have stayed that way, except he develops a friendship with out-and-proud Oliver Campbell from the wrong side of the tracks. Rusty thinks the friendship is just pity — Oliver is very bright, and Rusty is very not — but then Oliver kisses him goodbye when Rusty leaves for college, and Rusty is forced to rethink everything he knows about himself.

But even Rusty’s newfound awareness can’t help him survive a semester at Berkeley. He returns home for Thanksgiving break clinging to the one thing he knows to be true: Oliver Campbell is the best thing that’s ever happened to him.

Rusty’s parents disagree, and Rusty finds himself homeless for the holidays. Oliver may not have much money, but he’s got something Rusty has never known: true family. With their help and Oliver’s love, Rusty comes to realize that he may have failed college, but he’ll pass real life with flying rainbow colors.

Review

Wow. At first, I was leery. I don’t love New Adult. I am not always a fan of characters who are not self reflective. But this book is lush and keeps going and going and gives me all the love.

Rusty (awful name but then he has awful parents) is a slow processor who works hard, has been taught to have good manners, and is miserable as he doesn’t even see himself in an effort to get along with parents who see him as an asset rather than a person.

Oliver is quick witted, determined, and loved. And he loves Rusty because Rusty is kind and hot.

This is a very New Adult Romance as our heroes meet in high school. We get a wonderful friends to lovers troupe with a lot of finding yourself. There are all sorts of amazing moments in this book.

Rusty is wonderful and his struggle to become himself powerful and endearing. Oliver is just the best. I wish we were in his head as well. The cast of characters are just great.

The happily ever after is well earned and left me so happy.

Sink into this lovely, sexy, sweet romance.

Redesigning Max (Foothills Pride #2) by Pat Henshaw Review

    Redesigning Max (Foothills Pride Stories Book 2) by Pat Henshaw 2 Stars

Renowned interior designer Fredi Zimmer is surprised when outdoorsman Max Greene, owner of Greene’s Outdoors, hires Fredi to revamp his rustic cabin in the Sierra Nevada foothills. Fredi is an out-and-proud Metro male whose contact with the outdoors is from his car to the doorway of the million-dollar homes he remodels, and Max is just too hunky for words.

When Max comes on to Fredi, the designer can’t imagine why. But he’s game to put a little spice into Max’s life, even if it’s just in the colors and fixtures he’ll use to turn Max’s dilapidated cabin into a showplace. Who can blame a guy for adding a little sensual pleasure as he retools Max’s life visually?

Max, for his part, is grateful when Fredi takes him in hand, both metaphorically and literally. Coming out is the most exciting and wonderful time in his life, despite the conservative former friends who think they’re saving him from sliding into hell.

Review

This is my second time trying this writer and like the first time, this book didn’t work for me, It isn’t awful and I like the basic writing but it is too shallow and doesn’t do the work needed to make it a love story to believe in.

Again, I like the heroes. Max has inherited wealth for outdoor rec stores and some hidden talents, Fredi is at the top of his profession (a little young for that but okay).

Max had realized he is gay and pursues Fredi. This is very sweet and up front. And again if the characters where developed and the story driven by the characters it would be a good book. I like the slow burn dating. I like the Fredi protects himself. There is cool stuff in both books about recording and reporting hate crimes.

Max and Fredi both have awful pasts and we don’t really get to see that. We are told that.

Again the love scene are off page and this hurts the development of the connection between them and the love story.

Then there is crazy homophobia that is resolved but takes up the place of better character work. And then saccharine stuff that isn’t earned.

So. Not great.

 

PS The “droopy mustache” on Max…ewww.

The Burnt Toast B&B (Bluewater Bay #5) by Heidi Belleau Review

    The Burnt Toast B&B (Bluewater Bay Book 5) by Heidi Belleau 3 Stars!

After breaking his arm on set, Wolf’s Landing stuntman Ginsberg Sloan finds himself temporarily out of work. Luckily, Bluewater Bay’s worst B&B has cheap long-term rates, and Ginsberg’s not too proud to take advantage of them.

Derrick Richards, a grizzled laid-off logger, inherited the B&B after his parents’ untimely deaths. Making beds and cooking sunny-side-up eggs is hardly Derrick’s idea of a man’s way to make a living, but just as he’s decided to shut the place down, Ginsberg shows up on his doorstep, pitiful and soaking wet, and Derrick can hardly send him packing.

Not outright, at least.

The plan? Carry on the B&B’s tradition of terrible customer service and even worse food until the pampered city boy leaves voluntarily. What Derrick doesn’t count on, though, is that the lousier he gets at hosting, the more he convinces bored, busybody Ginsberg to try to get the B&B back on track. And he definitely doesn’t count on the growing attraction between them, or how much more he learns from Ginsberg than how to put out kitchen fires.

Review

Ginsberg is an amazing hero. A stunt man and kind. He is a fun mix of lots of things and emotionally brave.

Derrick is actually even sweeter but he has a lot of self hatred to work through.

The romance is in turns funny, tender, and annoying. Derrick can be dense. And he is really not kind to his former boyfriend in his head or action and that comes out in general over time.

There is a moment when it seems like the book is going to go off the rails and Derrick just melts down but the writer keeps it on track. I would have liked the conflict to be more nuanced and more time spent working through some things but I enjoyed the book.

Ginsberg demands respect and love and there is good groveling and repentance.

Love Me Tenor (Perfect Harmony, #2) by Annabeth Albert Review

   Love Me Tenor (Perfect Harmony) by Annabeth Albert 4 Stars! 

Trevor Daniels is feeling aimless. A recent college grad, he’s not sure what to do with his useless degree, and his family all but abandoned him after he revealed the truth about himself. But a friend’s suggestion that he take his chances on a reality show aimed at finding the next big boy band strikes a chord with him—until the show’s producers convince him to act like he’s in a relationship with a guy who’s not at all his type. It isn’t exactly love at first sight for Jalen Smith either—but lust just might push them in an unexpected direction. If only their secrets weren’t even more twisted than their sheets, threatening to cost them the win—and each other…

Review

There is a lot going on in this romance and that is a good thing, From breaking free of a self hate to believing in a dream, dealing with illness and accepting love…

Trevor was in this first book in this series and he was sympathetic but not very likable.

He is so utterly human and in pain in this book and becomes utterly lovable,

Jalen starts out the book defensive in a way that is not really a match with the personality that is revealed but who he becomes (is) as the book moves on is pretty great.

They make a wonderful couple with pretend romance for the show to get them started.

It would be easy to give spoilers for this book that would take the fun out of why each hero is the way he is that would ruin the book.

This is a sexy, sweet, hot New Adult romance with a well earned Happily Ever After.

Counterbalance by Aidan Wayne Review

Review:

Counterbalance - Aidan Wayne

John loves his job as head rigger for Cirque Brilliance. The heavy scarring over half his face makes it a little hard to meet new people, but John’s got a good crew and a nice found family, and he’s content with his lot in life.

When Cirque hires talent for a new show, John meets Bao, a bright, ever-cheerful acrobat. Bao seems drawn to John and becomes a constant presence at his side — talking to him during downtime, spending time with him at lunch, and generally seeking out his company.

John doesn’t know what to make of this. Sure, he likes Bao — maybe a little too much, honestly — but he’s had enough experience to know that Bao couldn’t possibly like him back. Or so he thinks, anyway. Fortunately, Bao seems determined to prove him wrong.

 

Review

 

I love Bao. He is one of those amazing sunny, kind heroes with a lot of talent. John is nice but I adore Bao.

This is a slow burn and as such need to be more than a novella so that we could really see this relationship flourish.

I also would have preferred alternating points of view. Being stuck in John’s head with Bao’s limited English makes less of Bao and thus racially colors in a negative way this sweet love story.

Bao is so awesome. Aidan Wayne, please write longer books!

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He Completes Me (Home #2) by Cardeno C. Review

Review:

He Completes Me (Home Collection Book 1) - Cardeno C.

Not even his mother’s funeral can convince self-proclaimed party boy Zach Johnson to tone down his snark or think about settling down. He is who he is, and he refuses to change for anyone. When straight-laced, compassionate Aaron Paulson claims he’s falling for him, Zach is certain Aaron sees him as another project, one more lost soul for the idealistic Aaron to save. But Zach doesn’t need to be fixed and he refuses to be with someone who sees him as broken.

Patience is one of Aaron’s many virtues. He has waited years for a man who can share his heart and complete his life and he insists Zach is the one. Pride, fear, and old hurts wither in the wake of Aaron’s adoring loyalty, and as Zach reevaluates his perceptions of love and family, he finds himself tempted to believe in the impossible: a happily-ever-after.

 

Review

 

I really, really enjoyed this book. It is a super sweet romance and it just soaks in the couple time and we get so many phases of the relationship. Agh. Love it.

 

Aaron is completely sweet and well a wish fulfillment hero for someone as hurt and angry as Zack. Zack’s voice in wonderful with great asides to the read and wry self reflection.

 

Aaron is a bit of a doormat but there is some nice conflict around making sure Zach and Aaron are partners in this relationship.

 

As much as I liked it, and I did, there are issues with the writing in terms of unresolved stuff,.

 

Aaron’s relationship with Zach’s brother and wife need to be discussed. There is so much co dependency in Aaron.

 

Zach needs therapy for his childhood trauma.

 

The plot pacing is sluggish so while even though I enjoyed it, others will be driven batty.

Aaron has no pets. He is a vet. We never get to see his love of animals.

 

And there is other weird stuff but I liked it anyway, A lot. lol.

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