widower

Winter Knight by L. Valko Review

  Winter Knight by L. Valko 3 Stars!

fter three years living as a rich man’s toy, Micah Zaine is on his own again and struggling to salvage both his career and a shattered sense of self-worth. Accepting a position as a substitute kindergarten teacher seems like an excellent start, until he develops a crush on a student’s father.

Two years after the death of his beloved wife, Jacob Lournigran’s life revolves around work and raising his young son—a social life is nowhere in the picture. Until his meddling sister extends a holiday dinner invitation to his son’s handsome kindergarten teacher.

Spending time with Micah makes Jacob wonder if a friend could be just what he needs to start rebuilding his broken heart. And when financial difficulties and an angry ex put Micah in distress, Jacob has all the makings of a knight in shining armor.

Except Jacob is straight, and Micah is no damsel.

Review

This is a slow burn with Micah who is starting over after leaving an affair with a married man and Jacob whose is still grieving for his wife while raising his child.

Jacob is likely demisexual but the novella doesn’t talk about it much. This is mainly a book about falling in love, healing, and a bit of fairy tale love makes everything okay.

Quinn’s Gambit (AURA, #1) by Angel Martinez and Bellora Quinn Review

    Quinn’s Gambit (AURA Book 1) by Angel Martinez and Bellora Quinn 4 Stars!

An unregistered human con wizard and a duty-bound, straight-laced elf cop. As New York explodes with dangerous creatures, their passion goes nuclear.

After a terrible magical accident at Berkeley created unpredictable holes between realities, all manner of non-human creatures started popping into our world. These displacements, called Random Anomalous Reality Events or RARE, have taken magic out of fiction and relocated it firmly in reality, resulting in a great deal of chaos and confusion. Displaced elf Valerian works with AURA, the Agency of Unnatural Resettlement and Assimilation, to intercept these beings as they appear in the human world, helping the peaceful ones and subduing the violent, malevolent ones. It’s good, satisfying work, and Val would be happy if he wasn’t so lonely.

Quinten is a young mage just trying to get by, but New York isn’t the easiest city to make a living in. If his methods are sometimes morally dubious, his heart is still in the right place. Of course, for Quinn, the right place means firmly locked away, protected at all costs. Living by his wits and sometimes magically induced luck, he works as a ‘freelance magic user’, or unregistered mage and small-time con, according to the authorities. The last thing Quinn wants is to draw the cops’ attention, but when an Event happens right on top of him, he’s forced to turn to AURA for help. Valerian isn’t at all what he’d expected in an AURA cop, and he certainly wasn’t expecting to join forces with the sexy elf, a snarky drow and a bitter incubus, when certain individuals in power try to stop the RARE by any means necessary.

Things are not all what they seem at AURA headquarters, and a greater evil lurks at the top than anyone could have imagined.

Review

Quinn’s Gambit is a wonderful Fantasy/Paranormal/Urban Fantasy Romance.

The world building is excellent and based on the idea that there is a magical rift dropping all sorts of magic beings into Earth. One of our heroes is a police Elf older and grieving the lost of his mates in the other realm with Alpha mixed in with the social awkwardness of adjusting to a new culture and being deeply hurt. Our other hero is Quinn, troubled in his own ways, a mage hiding the extent of his power and much younger, working as a con man.

They, of course, get together and the save the world.

This is a slow burn romance with a wonderful cast of others and a great premise of being set in this agency of crime solving and magical being immigration. The other all tone is light but with some dark topics, great character driven romance and adventure.

Cherry Pie (Mercury Rising, #1) by Samantha Kane Review

      Cherry Pie (Mercury Rising Book 1) by Samantha Kane 4.5 Stars!!

You can go home again—if you can get a foot in the door.

A year after packing and moving from L.A. to Mercury, North Carolina, John Ford still hasn’t adjusted to the heat. Or to life without his long-time partner. As he fixes up the old house he bought, the quiet becomes his only companion, and he’s content with that—until a deep-voiced stranger plants himself under a tree across the street.

Eight years ago, Connor Meecham left someone behind in that house—himself. Now he’s back to find the man he used to be, before drugs and prison sent his life careening off the tracks. But it’s not his mother’s face peering through the window any more. It’s a man who seems as lost as Conn himself.

When John learns what the house—and the dying town—mean to Conn, he finds himself opening the door to his heart. Just a crack. But it’s enough to get mixed up in a world of emotions as complicated as the recipe for the perfect cherry pie. Where one misstep can turn something sweet and juicy into one hot mess.

Review

Given the iffy title, I wasn’t expecting a great deal out of this book and was really pleasantly surprised.

I knew the love story would hot because Samantha Kane is an excellent erotic writer who uses sexy times to deepen the connection between characters. And the book has that loveliness for sure but this romance is also emotionial rich and sexy.

Many themes are at play here but the one I think is exceptionally well down is returning to your Hometown. Connor as been in recovery for two years and out of prison for more than a year. He decides to go home (its been the the better part of a decade) to reclaim the parts of himself, heal others, and build himself anew. He has to deal with the fact that someone has bought his family home, his mom has passed while he was serving time for possession and selling sex (though the charge was changed to vagrancy), reckon with how the town has changed, pick up old connection, forge new ones and find work. He left town as a golden football star in a small Southern town. He returns as a much better man in recovery, mindful, out about his sexuality and his past.

John is new to town and healing from the grief of losing his partner.

Class, age , and power difference play out in this romance is a powerful and healing way. They are emotionial equals and the joy of this book is in watching John and Connor fall in love and become partners.

The small town stuff is great and there are some wonderful secondary characters.

The writing is superb. Emotionially compelling, realistic (with the fantasy of less homophobia than there might be and John being really rich), and sexy.

Can’t wait for the next in the series.

Jesse’s Diner by Cardeno C. Review

Jesse's Diner - Cardeno C.

Two men with a shared history and a mutual attraction must be honest with themselves and each other so both their dreams come true.

Quiet, unassuming Tanner Sellers spends his time running a diner in Hope, Arizona. Not particularly social, twenty-two-year-old Tanner keeps to himself and enjoys his simple life, but he longs for someone to call his own. In his most secret fantasy, that someone is sexy Steve Faus. But Steve is his friend’s father and mentor’s widower and therefore off-limits.

Despite some challenges, thirty-nine-year-old Steve Faus has had a good life. He’s extremely successful at work, has a great relationship with his college-age son, and lives in a wonderful town. Eighteen months after losing his partner, the one thing Steve lacks is someone to share his life. If Steve is honest with himself, that someone is the young man he has known and cared about for years. Steve and Tanner want one another, all they need is a little push in the right direction to make both their dreams come true

Review

 

Despite, not being a fan of the in love with my son’s best friends trope (at all), this is a really sweet, straight forward romance where two wonderful heroes get what they need in each other.

 

It is a really sweet and hot romance about finding a second chance at love for one hero and getting the one he loves for another.

 

There is conflict but it is all character driven and adds to the intimacy.

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At Attention (Out of Uniform, #2) by Annabeth Albert Review

     At Attention (Out of Uniform) by by Annabeth Albert 4.5 Stars! 

Lieutenant Apollo Floros can ace tactical training missions, but being a single dad to his twin daughters is more than he can handle. He needs live-in help, and he’s lucky a friend’s younger brother needs a place to stay. He’s surprised to see Dylan all grown up with a college degree…and a college athlete’s body. Apollo’s widowed heart may still be broken, but Dylan has his blood heating up.

It’s been eight years since the teenage Dylan followed Apollo around like a lovesick puppy, and it’s time he showed Lieutenant Hard-to-Please that he’s all man now—an adult who’s fully capable of choosing responsibility over lust. He can handle Apollo’s muscular sex appeal, but Apollo the caring father? Dylan can’t afford to fall for that guy. He’s determined to hold out for someone who’s able to love him back, not someone who only sees him as a kid brother.

Apollo is shocked by the intensity of his attraction to Dylan. Maybe some no-strings summer fun will bring this former SEAL back to life. But the combination of scorching desire and warm affection is more than he’d expected, and the emotion between them scares him senseless. No fling lasts forever, and Apollo will need to decide what’s more important if he wants to keep Dylan in his life—his past or his future.

 

Review

I love this book because I adore these heroes and watching them fall in love is a joy.

There is a bonus for me as this book is set in San Diego, where I live, and Albert does a wonderful job placing little Easter Eggs for those of this that love this city.

Each hero has his own journey and I really like how they find equity and respect despite the age difference and very different outlooks and experiences.

Just one of the pleasures of this book is watching a crush turn into real love.

We get a great cast of characters and a very moving and sexy romance.

A Second Harvest (Men of Lancaster County, #1) by Eli Easton Review

   A Second Harvest  by Eli Easton 4 Stars! 

David Fisher has lived by the rules all his life. Born to a Mennonite family, he obeyed his father and took over the family farm, married, and had two children. Now with both his kids in college and his wife deceased, he runs his farm alone and without joy, counting off the days of a life half-lived.

Christie Landon, graphic designer, Manhattanite, and fierce gay party boy, needs a change. Now thirty, he figures it’s time to grow up and think about his future. When his best friend overdoses, Christie resolves to take a break from the city. He heads to a small house in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, to rest, recoup, and reflect.

But life in the country is boring despite glimpses of the hunky silver fox next door. When Christie’s creativity latches on to cooking, he decides to approach his widower neighbor with a plan to share meals and grocery expenses. David agrees, and soon the odd couple finds they really enjoy spending time together.

Christie challenges the boundaries of David’s closed world and brings out feelings he buried long ago. If he can break free of the past, he might find a second chance at happiness

 

Review

A lovely romance between a Mennonite farmer and a younger man.

I loved the building of a friendship that allowed Christie and David to fall in love before our eyes. All the details of the farm are wonderful.

David’s life and Christie’s life are full and rich before they meet each other and have powerful impacts on their relationship.

This is a wonderful slow burn romance with a great Happily Ever After pay off that you will root for and believe in.

Pipe Dreams (Brooklyn Bruisers, #3) by Sarina Bowen Review

     Pipe Dreams by Sarina Bowen   3 Stars! 

 

Review

This is a good book. I don’t think Sarina Bowen can write a bad book.

What I don’t love about this book is all me. I hate flashbacks. This is a second chance romance and we get flashbacks to the hero and heroines previous relationship. Those flashbacks are also emotionially painful as the hero hurts the heroine with his choices.

Also, I just never get over the dumb choice the hero makes and end of resenting Bowen for not telling me right away like she did this to me. See, she is a good writer, I totally care and am involved I am just …gah.

Because I never get over what he did and why he did, I can’t be all in for the romance. And don’t get me wrong Mike is wonderful. He is all in and great. I just side eye him the whole time.

The heroine was a fierce and grumpy in the other books and that is explained here and soften but I kind of liked her mean. lol

Enjoyable but not a reread for me.

So, I am super excited for Nate’s romance! Love me a nerd!

Her Pregnancy Bombshell (Summer at Villa Rosa #1) by Liz Fielding Review

 Her Pregnancy Bombshell (Summer at Villa Rosa)  by Liz Fielding  2.5 Stars

Expecting her boss’s baby! 

Pilot Miranda Marlowe is too sick to fly her plane, and she must face the truth: she’s pregnant! She knows well enough that her boss, Cleve Finch, is still grieving for his late wife, so to think, she heads to her sister’s new inheritance, Villa Rosa.

Despite the spiders and dust, the Mediterranean palazzo is as gorgeous as ever. Until Cleve turns up with a dramatic offer: a convenient marriage as soon as it can be arranged! It may be the sensible answer…but is it enough for Miranda?

 

Review

I was enjoying this romance with its look at grief and comfort between two pilots.

The heroine has been in love with the hero since she was 18. He married another. The book opens with him in deep grief and the heroine comforting him physically.

She gets pregnant. I like very much what a respected pilot and airplane designer the heroine is. I like the setting of the the crumbling Italian Villa the heroine flees to (and the hero follows) to sort out what do to with her life now.

Then, for me the book goes south. The secondary characters don’t work well for me and worse the mystery of why the hero and heroine weren’t together misses the details I want and the details I get make me dislike almost everyone in the book.

Well written but it lost me. I was given this book for my honest review. So, there you have it.

A Seal Upon Your Heart by Pepper Pace Review

  A Seal Upon Your Heart  by Pepper Pace 4.5 Stars!!

Jane used to have a different name, a different life—but that was before she was rescued from the refugee camp after the Rwandan genocide and brought to the convent to be raised. Now she is being dismissed, told to go out into the world. But how does she do that when all she knows is the convent?
Sometimes she wants to scream, I am a child of Africa! And sometimes she wants to dream about a love that will save her from her loneliness…but mostly she wants to fit in.

Tim Singleton lost his wife to breast cancer less than a year ago and yet the pain and anger is still fresh in his mind. He hates the sympathetic looks from his colleagues and tolerates the invitations from friends with their good intentions. When Corrine died, so did Tim’s faith…so when he received the call from the convent that his wife had focused her charitable endeavors, Tim isn’t quite sure why he agreed to help the young African girl with a job.

She didn’t quite fit in with the others at the law firm that wore thousand dollar Chanel suits while her clothes were picked with care from the donation bin at the church. At nearly six feet tall, the shy girl tried to become invisible in the hectic world around her. But if her ill-fitting clothes didn’t draw attention to her, then it was a beauty that couldn’t be hidden so easily.

Soon Jane sees Tim as not only her benefactor, but her one true love. But can Tim finally open up and allow someone else to touch his heart? Can he forget their difference in race and age? And more importantly, would being with him mean the loss of her innocence?

Review

This is the kind of book that lingers with you long after you have put it down.

It starts with seemingly trite themes that one might find in an old Mills and Boon: a much older man (a grieving widower) and a his new personal assistant (naive and convent raised).

Then, the layers build. We are in Ohio. She is black and he is white. She is a Catholic and devout and he is non religious He drinks from grief. She has PTSD. She survived the Rwandan genocide as a young child and witnessed its horrors.

It is a powerful book and a powerful romance where they don’t heal each other but themselves.

The heroine isn’t perfect. She is young and struggles to find her full and complex self. The power issues bsased on age, money, race, gender and class are sometimes so intersting handled and sometimes clumsy.  She resilient and kind.

The hero too falters and errs and then becomes more. He contradicts himself and  doesn’t always do what he knows he should

There are no cookie cutter characters here and nothing is simple. The heroine is smart and so is the hero in terms of common sense, knowledge of profession, and emotionial intelligence.  Its glorious.

Racism and sexism are a large part of this tale.

I wish the sexism of the law firm and the hero’s privilege in it (he is never the issue but while he takes on a role protector and punisher, he doesn’t attack the issue at the systematic level that would be much more satisfying) had been more closely examined.

This romance is moving and a wonderful piece of writing as usual from Pepper Pace.

Trade (Deridia Book 2) by Catherine Miller Review

    Trade (Deridia Book 2) by Catherine Miller 4 Stars!!

Gullible.
Foolish.
Weak.

She had always done as she was told. She dug in the sands until her fingers bled so that her people could have something to barter. She packed up her sparse belongings without complaint when it was time to flee the Wastes, leaving behind the only home she’d ever known, and the site of the bittersweet memories she carried of her lost family. It was easier that way, to obey and not to question, knowing her own judgement to be faulty.

But when her people learn that the exchange for living on alien land and securing their safety is the price of one of their unclaimed women, the limits of her compliance are tested, as she is given in marriage to a man she does not want from a species and clan she does not know.

Only to discover that he feels precisely the same about their ill-begotten trade.

She was a Marzon now.

And she had no idea what that meant, other than giving up her clothes, her home, her people, all for a man who like to scowl and grunt and sigh.

“By what name shall she be called?” Sladec asked, and she eyed him with confusion.

She opened her mouth to answer, to finally inform them both that she most certainly had a name and it was important, no matter what Machrus had said, but the voice that gave answer was not her own.

But came from her husband instead.

“Renna. Now wife of Machrus of Krahl.”

 

Review

I love Catherine Miller’s character driven Science Fiction with a long slow burn.

The world building is very good and the ache of grief and loss is this book is compelling.

The hero and heroine are both so wounded it hard to like them at first because they hold so much of themselves as private but as they heal and come to love each other, we come to love and know them too.

If you liked Mercy, the first book in this series, you should like this one as well. It has similar themes of an arranged marriage and culture adjustment,. It also has some of the same drawbacks of not getting the hero’s point of view and some information held back too long to enjoy a full rich HEA. I would have loved a lush epilogue.

I would be very happy to read another romance in this world.