Working Class Hero

Played! (The Shamwell Tales #2) by J.L. Merrow Review

   Played! (Shamwell Tales Book 2) by J.L. Merrow 2 Stars

Posh boy Tristan Goldsmith has one last summer of freedom before he joins the family firm in New York—no more farting around on stage, as his father puts it. But the classically trained actor can’t resist when the Shamwell Amateur Dramatics Society begs him to take a leading role in their production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. As an added incentive, he’ll be giving private acting lessons to a gorgeous local handyman who’s been curiously resistant to Tristan’s advances.

As a late-diagnosed dyslexic still struggling with literacy, Con Izzard’s never dared to act before. With arrogant yet charming Tristan helping him with his lines, he finally has his chance to shine. But Con’s determined not to start a romance with a man he’s convinced only wants a casual fling.

Tristan’s never been one to back down from a challenge, especially when he realises his attraction to the tall, muscular handyman isn’t just physical. Just as he thinks he’s finally won Con’s heart—and given his own in return—disaster strikes with a slip of the tongue that shatters Con’s trust and sends him running for cover. This show may be over before the curtain’s even opened.

Review

There are some lovely moments in this book but overall its very unsatisfying.

Tristan is not very self reflective, entitled, self centered, arrogant and often cruel. He is 24 not 6 and as an actor one would hope be way more in touch than he is.

I think Merrow sets him up to be a study in unexamined privilege but he but he is mean and so thoughtless his road back to redemption needs to be longer than this book allows. We also have to spend time with his even more awful friends Amanda and that is not a pleasant way to spend an afternoon.

Con is lovely but a bit of a doormat. The rest of the plot is engaging which is why I finished it but Tristan should have had to work harder and longer on his change to get a HEA.

Caught! (The Shamwell Tales, #1) by J.L. Merrow Review

      Caught! (Shamwell Tales Book 1) by J.L. Merrow 4 Stars!

Behind Robert Emeny’s cheerfully eccentric exterior lies a young heart battered and bruised by his past. He’s taken a job in a village primary school to make a fresh start, and love isn’t part of his plans. But then he’s knocked for six—literally—by a chance encounter with the uncle of two of his pupils.

Sean Grant works in pest control, lives on a council estate, and rides a motorbike. Robert is an ex–public schoolboy from a posh family who drives a classic car. On the face of it, they shouldn’t have anything in common. Yet Robert can’t resist Sean’s roguish grin, and passion sparks between them even after an excruciatingly embarrassing first date.

Too bad the past Robert’s hiding from is about to come looking for him. His increasingly ludicrous efforts to keep his secrets are pushing Sean away—but telling the truth could make Sean leave him for good.

Review

I tend to like JL Merrow’s books a great deal because the books are funny, human and very British.

This book had some rough patches for me but I liked Sean and Robert as well as the village romance so much that I glided over those.

The attraction, sheer I really like you, and sexual tension between Robert and Sean is lovely. They are both great people-though Sean is a bit more so as he is more open. The bowtie stuff is hot. lol I love me some nerd and a man who appreciate.

The class difference is well explored as is the discussion of bisexuality. Robert runs scared because of what happened to him and this causes several lack of communication and trust issues. This might be realistic but the events could have still happen and Robert had take the risk to confide and really it would have been a better romance because the relationship would have deepened. More interesting to me.

I love all the small village stuff and all the other characters. I am thrilled to spend more time with this couple in the series.

Knit Tight (Portland Heat) Annabeth Albert Review

Review:

Knit Tight - Annabeth Albert

One of Portland’s hottest young baristas, Brady is famous for his java-topping flair, turning a regular cup of joe into a work of art. Every Wednesday—aka “Knit Night”—hordes of women and their needles descend on the coffeehouse, and Brady’s feeling the heat. Into the fray walks a tall, dark, and distractingly handsome stranger from New York. His name is Evren, and he’s the sexy nephew of Brady’s sweetest customer, the owner of the yarn shop down the street. He’s also got a killer smile, confident air, and masculine charm that’s tying Brady’s stomach in knots. The smitten barista can’t wait to see him at the next week’s gathering. But when he tries to ask Evren out, his plans unravel faster than an unfinished edge. If Brady hopes to warm up more than Evren’s coffee, he’ll have to find a way to untangle their feelings, get out of the friend zone, and form a close-knit bond that’s bound to last a lifetime…

 

Review

 

I like a great deal about this romance.

 

Brady is wonderful hardworking young man. He is providing for his family when his world collides with Evern a famous knit blogger who has come home to care for his Aunt and her yarn shop as she fights cancer.

 

Evern nor Brady have time to fall in love. When they decided its too late this becomes a compelling and kind romance about make room.

 

However, Evern is really closed in and the aspects of his character like his art and cultural background don’t get explored as much as I would like. The issues with Brady’s younger sister are really left tangled (this might be a reality but it didn’t make for the best read.)

 

I love Brady but I wanted to feel as strongly about Evern for the book to be a real success. It still adds nicely to the series.

Original post:
northamericanwordcat.booklikes.com/post/1581486/knit-tight-portland-heat-annabeth-albert-review

Baked Fresh (Portland Heat) Annabeth Albert Review

Review:

Baked Fresh (Portland Heat) - Annabeth Albert

Vic Degrassi is a baker on the rise, and it’s all thanks to his rare ability to make—and keep—his New Year’s resolutions. Whether it’s losing weight, giving up smoking, or graduating from culinary school, Vic goes after what he wants—and gets it. This year? He wants Robin Dawson, the sweet-hearted hottie who volunteers with him at the local homeless shelter. When he learns that Robin is suddenly single after being unceremoniously dumped, Vic is more than happy to offer a shoulder to cry on—or at least a fresh-baked pastry to bite into. But it’s been a long time since Vic’s gone on a date, and he’s nervous about risking his friendship with Robin. So when their flirtation turns into a steamy night together, Vic and Robin have to figure out if they’re friends with benefits or lovers in the making, and if Robin is ready for something more than just a rebound. There’s only one way to find out: turn up the heat…

 

Review

 

This is another great character driven romance with Annabeth Albert.

 

A wonderful love story about what it means to be in love with a person with a fully realized past. Both Vic and Robin carry a lot of their old selves into their romance.

Here we get a nice friends to lovers tale with the blending for two lives and taking risks to trust and love.

 

Very well written and engaging and as always with Albert the best parts of the book are in the details I don’t want to give away.

Original post:
northamericanwordcat.booklikes.com/post/1581488/baked-fresh-portland-heat-annabeth-albert-review

Taxes and TARDIS by N.R. Walker 4 Star Review

Review:

Taxes and TARDIS - N.R. Walker

Brent is a jock, Logan a geek, these men are a world apart. But if opposites attract, maybe it’s the differences between them that make it worth the fight.

 

Brent Kelly is a laid-back tradesman whose only concerns are drinks with friends and which man to bed next. In need of a new accountant to sort out his nightmarish shoebox of tax receipts, he’s referred to Logan Willis.

 

He doesn’t expect to be intrigued by the science fiction-loving, geeky guy with dark-rimmed glasses and a TARDIS-blue shirt. So his fascination with the soft-spoken Englishman surprises him, and their mutual attraction is completely unexpected. He most certainly never expects to fall in love.

 

One a jock and the other a geek, both men know the differences between them are vast and could cause problems. But in this opposites-attract erotic drama, maybe it’s the differences between them that make staying together worth the fight.

 

Review

 

Taxes and Tardis is such a lovely sigh of a sexy romance.

 

It could have been more complex with some of the character work but what is here is so good. It would have been a 5 star read if we had both points of view.

 

I love a geek hero and I love it when someone gets gobsmacked.

 

Both heroes are kind and so into each other.

 

This is a delight.

Original post:
northamericanwordcat.booklikes.com/post/1588208/taxes-and-tardis-by-n-r-walker-review

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.

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.

Summer Lessons (Winter Ball, #2) by Amy Lane Review

    Summer Lessons (Winter Ball Book 2)by Amy Lane 4 Stars!

Mason Hayes’s love life has a long history of losers who don’t see that Mason’s heart is as deep and tender as his mouth is awkward. He wants kindness, he wants love—and he wants someone who thinks sex is as fantastic as he does. When Terry Jefferson first asks him out, Mason thinks it’s a fluke: Mason is too old, too boring, and too blurty to interest someone as young and hot as his friend’s soccer teammate.

The truth is much more painful: Mason and Terry are perfectly compatible, and they totally get each other. But Terry is still living with his toxic, suffocating parent and Mason doesn’t want to be a sugar daddy. Watching Terry struggle to find himself is a long lesson in patience, but Mason needs to trust that the end result will be worth it, because finally, he’s found a man worth sharing his heart with.

Review

Terry’s and Mason’s love story and individual development are in turns delightful, painful, and tender.

We have age and class difference and in really knowing that a better way of being exists for both of them. They are both use to a certain kinds of the relationship. For Terry, it is simply sexual and for Mason, it has more to do with status or assumed behaviors. They both have to learn to be in a truely loving equal partnerships.

They each have dependents of a sort and the book doesn’t soft sell what it means to love someone who is bi polar or someone who is toxic.

The circle of friends is wonderful and expands. As always I love the Sacromento area setting. There is a secondary romance that I hope gets its own book.

This is a love story you will get more out of if you read the first book in the series. I hope there is more!

For A Good Time, Call… (Bluewater Bay, #17) by Anne Tenino Review

    For a Good Time, Call… (Bluewater Bay Book 17) by Anne Tenino 3 Stars!

Thirty-seven-year-old Nate Albano’s second relationship ever ended three years ago, and since he’s grace — gray asexual — he doesn’t anticipate beating the odds to find a third. Still, he’s got his dog, his hobbies, and his job as a special effects technician on Wolf’s Landing, so he can’t complain — much.

Seth Larson, umpteenth generation Bluewater Bay, is the quintessential good-time guy, content with tending bar and being his grandmother’s handyman. The night they meet, Seth’s looking for some recreational sex to escape family drama. But for Nate, romantic attraction comes before sexual attraction, so while Seth thinks they’re hooking up, Nate just wants to talk . . . genealogy?

Dude. Seriously?

So they declare a “just friends” truce. Then Seth asks for Nate’s help investigating a sinister Larson family secret, and their feelings start edging way beyond platonic. But Nate may want more than Seth can give him, and Seth may not be able to leave his good-time image behind. Unless they can find a way to merge carefree with commitment, they could miss out on true love —
the best time of all.

Review

This romance tells the story of Seth and Nate. Nate is demi sexual and Seth has a high sex drive and really hasn’t had a relationship.

Nate, who is a special effects artist, is kind of clueless to social clues as well and this makes for a mess and he also waffles on the just friends thing as well.

I am happy to see Seth get his own romance. Seth has been badly treated in previous books in the series and he is a wonderful guy.

There are lots of off shoots to the main love story plot but the romance in the middled is compelling and engaging. The main conflict comes from Nate not valuing who Seth is and needing to heal himself around some issue of forgiveness and ambition. It is good stuff.

The history exploration here is great and its a fun mystery. However, it could have been better resolved which is the same for several other plots.

The dog is wonderful, of course but the actions of some of the other characters are a bit meh.

I enjoyed it overall.

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.