very young lead

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.

Original post:
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Home Again (Home #1) by Cardeno C. Review

     Home Again  by Cardeno C. 2.5 Stars

Imposing, temperamental Noah Forman wakes up in a hospital and can’t remember how he got there. He holds it together, taking comfort in the fact that the man he has loved since childhood is on the way. But when his one and only finally arrives, Noah is horrified to discover that he doesn’t remember anything from the past three years.

Loyal, serious Clark Lehman built a life around the person who insisted from their first meeting that they were meant to be together. Now, years later, two men whose love has never faltered must relive their most treasured and most painful moments in order to recover lost memories and secure their future.

Review

Gah. This is a really weird book. Uncomfortable so at times.

I wanted to read Noah’s and Clark’s story because I had seen them in other books in the series and they are great.

This book is nuts. It is written in the past starring when Noah is 13 years old and Clark is 17. It has instra love (kinda creepy from a 13 year old kid). They don’t do anything until everyone is well of age.

There is a coma, forgiveness, betrayal, brother hateful nut job (who will get his own book), and I kid you not amnesia. Whoo boy.

Clark is just wonderful and smart and good. Noah is actually great too but he does this thing that is not in character. Also, he needs therapy and he would have not have bounced back from his childhood exploits which some may say accounts for his crazy act but I don’t buy it.

The brother is ewww and the time jump in the story makes things really off rhythm.

So, the romance hinges on this one event that doesn’t make sense in terms of character really (or at least I don’t buy it) and then it doesn’t get processed in a real way so the story while with likable characters in deeply in crazy town

Falling Down by Eli Easton Review

    Falling Down by Eli Easton 4 Stars! 

osh finds himself homeless at eighteen, but he has a plan. He’ll head north on the bus to New England and spend October there for his mother’s sake. She always talked about going to see the fall leaves someday. And when the leaves are done and the harsh winter comes, Josh plans to find a place to curl up and let go. It will be a relief to finally stop fighting.

Mark spent his life trying to live up to the tough swagger of his older brothers until he pushed himself so far against his nature that he cracked. Now a former Marine, he rents a little cabin in the White Mountains of New Hampshire where he can lick his wounds and figure out what to do with the rest of his life. One thing was clear: Mark was nobody’s hero.

Fate intervenes when Josh sets up camp under a covered bridge near Mark’s cabin. Mark recognizes the dead look in the young stranger’s eyes, and he feels compelled to do something about it. When Mark offers Josh a job, he never expects that he’ll be the one to fall.

The snow is coming soon. Can Mark convince Josh that the two of them can build a life together before the flurries begin?

Trigger Warning: Suicidal thoughts

 

Review

 

I was worried that this book would be too dark for me with its topics of PTSD, depression, suicidal thoughts, homelessness….sound grim. doesn’t it? But Eli Easton handles these issues with grace and realism and embeds these struggles in wonderful human characters that we are lucky enough to watch fall in love.

This is a thoughtful romance that slow lets the light fill it up with lovely prose and complex characters. There is no extra angst and drama just a heartfelt and healing love story.

I very much recommend this book.

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.

Where We Left Off (Middle of Somewhere Book 3) by Roan Parrish Review

 Where We Left Off (Middle of Somewhere Book 3) by Roan Parrish  4 Stars!

Leo Ware may be young, but he knows what he wants. And what he wants is Will Highland. Snarky, sophisticated, fiercely opinionated Will Highland, who burst into Leo’s unremarkable life like a supernova… and then was gone just as quickly.

For the past miserable year, Leo hasn’t been able to stop thinking about the powerful connection he and Will shared. So, when Leo moves to New York for college, he sweeps back into Will’s life, hopeful that they can pick up where they left off. What begins as a unique friendship soon burns with chemistry they can’t deny… though Will certainly tries.

But Leo longs for more than friendship and hot sex. A romantic to his core, Leo wants passion, love, commitment—everything Will isn’t interested in giving. Will thinks romance is a cheesy fairy tale and love is overrated. He likes his space and he’s happy with things just the way they are, thank you very much. Or is he? Because as he and Leo get more and more tangled up in each other’s lives, Will begins to act like maybe love is something he could feel after all.

 

Review

Leo and Will.

This romance unspools and it ends up being quite lovely and tender. However, it takes a long time to be sure of the love story and we have to trust in Roan Parrish to get us there.

She does.

Will and Leo are precarious. Leo is young and has a crush and is romantic. Will is closed off and use to people hanging ideas on him.

How do they become fuller selves? How do they both grow? They do.

There is a ton negotiate here a lot of philosophical ground is covered in the novel. What does it mean to romantic? What are scripts we follow? How beauty works? What is love? How to be yourself and let some one else be their self? How to be together and apart?

Will and Leo don’t really get together in a full emotionial way for a lot of the book. There are lots of fits and starts.

It is still sexy and very loving and its humanness hurts a bit as well.

This would have been a stronger romance for me if it had been told with changing points of view between Will and Leo. We get Leo’s voice mainly and because Will struggles to open emotionially, I struggled with a full embrace of the love I know he must feel.

I look forward to the series continuing and hope to see Will and Leo even further along in other books. The last scene is great.

That Alien Feeling by Alessandra Hazard Review

    That Alien Feeling by Alessandra Hazard 2.5 Stars

Banished by his parents to the third planet in the Sol system, Prince Harht’ngh’chaali of the Second Grand Clan is completely fascinated by its inhabitants. Assuming the human name “Harry,” he tries to pass for a human to survive, but being human is so much harder than Harry expected. Humans are so confusing.

Adam Crawford isn’t looking for love. Financially secure and good-looking, he’s in a good place in his life. He doesn’t mean to fall in love with the quirky guy working at the coffee shop near his office. Harry is ridiculous—and ridiculously endearing. He wears ugly shirts and flowers in his hair, and he has a kind word for everyone. Adam falls hard and fast.

Little does he know that Harry isn’t what he seems and anything between them is impossible.

Star-crossed love between a human man and an alien prince from a world half a galaxy away.

 

Review

Hmmm. This is a really strange little book.

It goes from good, to not so good, to what?, to bad.

What carries this book is Harry, the alien, who is enchanting. Period. It is fun to be with Harry. There is some intersting playing with asexuality and demisexuality as a part of the alien culture building.

ThoughI like the other hero, we only know what his job his and who is best friend is. He is very flat. But he loves Harry. Heck, I love Harry but I know he isn’t really.

Then, comes the world building and we don’t get enough of it. And next we get Harry’s alien world and family and politics and they are too lightly drawn to be that engaging. His brother is a jerk and it feels like he will get his own book….and I don’t care.

And then then ends seems to put Harry’s not already satisfing HEA in peril. And I am out. lol

 

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.

Play On (Glasgow Lads, #0.5) by Avery Cockburn

    Play On by Avery Cockburn 4 Stars! 

Duncan Harris is on the edge. Scandal has shredded his LGBT soccer team’s history-making season, and now the once-unflappable striker is lashing out. Only one person can tame Duncan’s rage and make him feel like himself again…

Bullied by schoolmates in his wee village, Brodie Campbell lurked deep in the closet before coming to the city of Glasgow. Here at university he’s out and proud, but the years of abuse have left him emotionally paralyzed. Can flatmate Duncan help Brodie escape his past and heal his wounded heart?

As the two lads grow closer, Brodie can’t forget how athletes like Duncan once tortured him. When Duncan attacks an opponent who threatens Brodie, the situation escalates. Soon Brodie doesn’t feel safe anywhere—especially in Duncan’s arms.
To defeat the bullies who’ve wrecked his life, his mind, and his ability to love, Brodie must find the strength to fight his own battles. And Duncan must find the strength to let him.

Review

I really like this New Adult romance. Duncan is in hot pursuit of Brodie and takes care of him while he is sick. It is sweet.

There is a lot going on in this novella. Brodie comes more fully into himself and Duncan learns empathy (or he is working on it) and anger management.

A tender intersting romance.

I love how sex isn’t perfect at first in Cockburn’s books and I love getting understand different facets of Scottish culture.

Carry the Ocean (The Roosevelt, #1) by Heidi Cullinan 5 Star Review

    Carry the Ocean  by Heidi Cullinan 5 Stars! 

Normal is just a setting on the dryer.

High school graduate Jeremey Samson is looking forward to burying his head under the covers and sleeping until it’s time to leave for college. Then a tornado named Emmet Washington enters his life. The young man with a double major in math and computer science is handsome, forward, wicked smart, interested in dating Jeremey—and he has autism.

But Jeremey doesn’t judge him for that. He’s too busy judging himself, as are his parents, who don’t believe in things like clinical depression. When Jeremey’s untreated illness reaches a critical breaking point, Emmet is the white knight who rescues him and brings him along as a roommate to The Roosevelt, a quirky new assisted living facility.

As Jeremey and Emmet find their feet at The Roosevelt, they begin to believe they can be loved for the men they are beyond their disabilities. But before they can trust enough to fall head over heels, they must trust their own convictions that friendship is a healing force and love can overcome any obstacle.

 

Review

I love this book. Sitting down to write this review, I just want to go and read it again.

Each character is complex, human and complete. They inhabit a full world. The writing is beautiful and dialogue compelling.

The details weave together in wonderful layer upon layer to create a love story with all the kinds of love.

This is not a light hearted romance but the ache here is really just the ache of being human.

As a disabled person, I really valued to discussion of adaptations, modification, and normality that are part and parcel of living in with a different t body, chemistry and/or mind that the majority.

Depression and anxiety are explored here better than I have ever read. They are part of the character but not all of him. And while there are things that are common to people with this disorder, the understanding that he is unique is clear as well.

The exploration of autism is just as powerfully done. I love that fact that even though the autistic hero seems outwardly more disabled, it is the more “normal” hero that is newer to journey of living with his disability rather than around it.

I love the layers of the parental reaction to this very young couple. The romance told in alternating points of very is beautiful. The writer shows the difficult of the relationship and its joy.

My favorite part of the book aside from the characters is the therapy sessions. Both heroes go and the parents.

I wish everyone had support like this to shine the light on love and self acceptance and the pain of being human. And the science of it all. So good.

I highly recommend this book for the romance and everything else.

For Real by Alexis Hall 5 Star Review!

 For Real by Alexis Hall  5 Stars!!!

Laurence Dalziel is worn down and washed up, and for him, the BDSM scene is all played out. Six years on from his last relationship, he’s pushing forty and tired of going through the motions of submission.

Then he meets Toby Finch. Nineteen years old. Fearless, fierce, and vulnerable. Everything Laurie can’t remember being.

Toby doesn’t know who he wants to be or what he wants to do. But he knows, with all the certainty of youth, that he wants Laurie. He wants him on his knees. He wants to make him hurt, he wants to make him beg, he wants to make him fall in love.

The problem is, while Laurie will surrender his body, he won’t surrender his heart. Because Toby is too young, too intense, too easy to hurt. And what they have — no matter how right it feels — can’t last. It can’t mean anything.

It can’t be real.

 

Review

Sigh. So good.

I don’t really love romances that contain BDSM aa a rule and the lean in on the SM part even less so but I do read them because despite by preferences there is some damn fine storytelling to be found in this troupe.

This book. This book might be the best I have ever read with a romance where the couples sexual needs are met through BDSM and the if BDSM were not in the story the character would be less of who they are and the plot of the book would suffer.

This love story is about integration of the self and love.

The age difference and being in very different life stages is exquisitely handled. And not just by the older hero but even more so by the younger hero. I love that Toby has acne. I love it so much. It is pitch perfect in terms of not being “grown” and yet being a full person. Laurie’s non caring about it is also such a wonderful thing because as we age the body’s imperfection tend to matter very little and our love comes from the person who inhabits the body. There is a lot of things that ages lets us let go that Laurie represents.

The other aspect of the age difference that Toby can’t be accepted for who he is (a Dom) because of age. He has other struggles of a 19 year old which drive the plot beautiful but never in the oh god grow up way but in the wow remember so human way.

Laurie is heartbroken which is a common theme in Hall’s books. Oh, and there is poetry and the love story that comes from finding equality and acceptance.

Excellent writing as usual and really gorgeous romance.