Sandra @ My Fiction Nook

I like romance and boys loving boys in my books. 

You can also find me on my main blog



1378 Devotees
122 Devoted To
3197 BOOKS

Currently reading

Secrets and Charms
Lou Harper
Progress: 100 %
The Luckiest (Lucky Moon Book 2)
M.J. O'Shea, M.J. O'Shea
Progress: 100 %
My Favorite Uncle
Marshall Thornton
Progress: 100 %
The River Leith
Leta Blake
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Favorite quotes

ARC Review: Fool's Gold by Sarah Madison

Fool's Gold - Sarah Madison

In the beginning of this book, golden boy Jake appears to have it all - Olympic-caliber horses he trains with daily, a superb facility afforded him by his father's money, love with a hot boyfriend who works with him at the farm, and a shot at the Olympics with the help of his fantastic trainer, Tom.

Until it all comes to a crashing halt, when an accident on their way home from a cross-country training ride claims the life of three of his horses, and leaves him without a boyfriend, without the horse he planned to take to the Olympics, and almost losing his own life.

Unbeknownst to Jake, his father's machinations in the hospital achieve severing his relationship with Rich, who was also severely injured in the accident. Eight years later, Jake is lonely, focused entirely on training up for the Olympics in Rio, and hoping he'll get another shot at the gold, even if he has nobody to share it with.

This book was an easy read, though I must say that if I weren't a horsewoman myself, I would have found it difficult to understand some of the more horse-related terms. In some cases, I thought that it might have been boring for a non-horse-crazy reader to read about the proper wrapping of a horse's legs before loading it into a trailer, or possibly wondering which part of a saddle a pommel is.

Me, I appreciated immersing myself in the world of Eventing, where not only does a rider have to master a cross-county course, but also excel in Dressage and stadium jumping. It's a hard sport, hard on your body, and hard on the horse, to gallop across uneven terrain and clear Olympic-size jumps, including drops and water jumps. It requires a lot of trust between horse and rider, and an excellent feel for your horse. All too often, either rider or horse, or both, are injured due to the difficulty of the course. At the same time, Dressage requires a perfect seat, shifting your weight and legs minutely to get the horse to change gaits, to extend from a collected trot into a forward trot, or to change hands while cantering down the center line. And on the third day, you get to canter through a stadium course full of twists and turns, while trying to clear jumps taller than yourself.

So clearly, this book appealed to me with all the horse talk. What didn't appeal was Jake's father - even though he did redeem himself in the end. I disliked him not only for his homophobia, but also for his behind-the-scenes responsibility of nearly destroying his own child's happiness.

I liked Rich a lot, the younger version who came across as so carefree, and also the older man, who still carries the scars from the accident, inside and out. I appreciated that he stood up to Jake's father, and actually got the man to see reason, eventually.

The writing flowed easily, and there weren't any major lulls in the story. The writing is also descriptive, and it was easy to imagine the visuals the author described. I liked the relationship between the two men, even though their backgrounds were as different as they could be - they worked well together, and they did talk honestly for the most part.

An enjoyable read, but I wish the book had delved a bit deeper into the changes Jake's father undergoes, as well as allowed Rich to point out the inconsistencies in Jake's behavior. It felt almost too easy in some cases, but maybe that was intentional. This is a romance, after all.

I would recommend this for lovers of M/M romance who have a bit of background in the horse world, or are willing to look up some of the specific terms they will encounter in this book.

** I received a free copy of this book as part of the review tour organized by Signal Boost Promotions. A positive review was not promised in return. **

ARC Review: Turning The Page by Andrew Grey

Turning the Page - Andrew  Grey

I do like books with older MCs, and books about getting a second chance at love.

This book promised both, so I was eager to read it when it became available. And while I enjoyed reading it, and while I liked the plot, and Hans, I had some trouble connecting with Malcolm.

On one hand, I understood his reluctance to open himself up to another chance at love, after having lost his long-term partner, David, and I understood his misgivings about his attraction to Hans because of their age gap (Malcolm is in his 50s, and Hans in his early 40s). When we first meet Malcolm, he's still lost in his grief and mourning, struggling even after nearly two years of sort of living without David. He doesn't go out, he more or less hides himself in his work as a tax attorney and in the house he shared with David. When he meets Hans, he's immediately attracted to the younger man, but tells himself to ignore it because Hans is a client.

Until Hans isn't.

On the other hand, Malcolm's near-constant second-guessing Hans' motives and sincerity, and his 'one step forward, two steps back' self-pity drove me batty. Once Hans stops being a client, their business dealing being concluded, Malcolm starts to enter the world of the living again, but guilt and grief keeps pulling him back. And as if that weren't enough to derail his second chance at love, Malcolm is also plagued by insecurities when he compares himself to the younger man. If Hans hadn't been so very patient, I think by the end of the book, the status quo wouldn't have changed much for Malcolm.

I'm a bit indifferent about the plot point involving Malcolm's firm, and the OTT characterization of his business partner who basically goes off the deep end. I'm not sure that it added anything to the romance, though it could be argued that he's perhaps part of Malcolm learning to trust himself and getting past his insecurities. Still, he couldn't have done that without Hans pushing him forward on occasion, and providing him with the confidence.

There is growth for Malcolm here, and I always appreciate that in a book. The author has a distinctive writing style, and while it may not work for everyone, it does usually work for me. I think having these detailed descriptions of everyday activities, such as getting out of bed, and making breakfast, only drove home how very lonely Malcolm is at the beginning of the book, how settled into a routine that showcases the depth of his grief. As the book moved along, I noticed that these mundane moments were getting less detailed and descriptive, and the focus shifted to more of a hopeful, exciting tone overall. Which basically mirrored Malcolm's transformation from grieving widower, trudging through his day, to hopeful boyfriend, looking forward to what the future holds. While it's made very clear that Hans isn't taking David's place in Malcolm's heart, the author also makes a point that love after love is possible. That nobody can replace David, but that Malcolm didn't die with him, and that David wouldn't want him to be the recluse he's been for two years.

As I said, life after loss plays a huge role in this book, and I think the author did a great job showing me how very difficult it is for Malcolm to move on and grasp that second chance. Hans was very patient, but insistent as well, finding all the right words to get what he wanted in the end, namely Malcolm. He was possibly a wee bit too perfect, but I didn't mind that so much.

Recommended for readers who like second chances, mature MCs, and sweet M/M romances with just a bit of heat.

** I received a free copy of this book from its publisher. A positive review was not promised in return. **

Book Review: The Forest Savage by Claire Davis and Al Stewart


I don't have words to review, to do justice to this book. Cal and Troy broke my heart as their pasts and their struggles were revealed. Two broken men who've been used and abused, but who find in each other exactly what they need.

That's all I got. It isn't enough.

All I can do is beg you to read it. It's free, you know.

Read it. Please.




Book Review: That Darn Muse - The Misadventures Of Doc And Dirk (Vol 1) by Dan Skinner

The Misadventures of Doc and Dirk, Volume I: That Darn Muse - Dan Skinner, Tina Adamski

Having followed Dan Skinner on FB for a while, I've seen Dirkisms he posts pop up in my timeline. This book is not only the beginning of a collection of said Dirkisms, but also allows a bit of insight into how Dan and Dirk met (at a gym) as well as how their relationship developed.

I giggled/snickered a lot. Dirk is quite the character. I awww'd at the story of how Dirk came out to his mom. Also, his mom. She's awesome.

Can't wait for more!

** I purchased a copy of this book for myself. **

ARC Review: Boyfriend Material (Ethan & Wyatt #2) by K.A. Mitchell

Boyfriend Material (Ethan & Wyatt) - K.A. Mitchell

In this 2nd installment of Ethan And Wyatt, we're picking up right about where the first book left off.

Except, the entire book is told from Wyatt's POV, and thus his glass-half-empty, this-can't-last-anyway attitude permeates the book.

And thus the tone of the book is much more pessimistic than the first one. Wyatt spends most of the book not really seeing what Ethan is offering him, and certainly not giving Ethan enough credit or believing that what they have can last. Of course, Wyatt's experiences and the shitty life he's led so far do not lend themselves to being eternally hopeful and positive like Ethan, but I got the impression that Wyatt didn't even try.

Not when Ethan shows him every damn day they're together that he's all in, not when Ethan does that special thing and uses his own money to do that special thing for Wyatt, not when Ethan tries so very hard to make Wyatt happy - Wyatt just can't see what's in front of him and he expects it all to crash and burn.

If you go through life expecting the worst, you might just get what you expect. Unless you pull your head out of your, ahem, behind, and start listening to what your boyfriend tells you and maybe, just maybe trust that he means what he says.

This book was obviously darker than the first one, very much so, and that's primarily due to spending the whole time in Wyatt's head. His pessimism is exhausting, to be honest. I wanted to holler at him to just. For. Once. Believe!!

While we do get a promising HFN at the end, mostly due to Ethan's eternal hopefulness and willingness to do whatever it takes, I do hope that the third book, announced at the very end, will show us Wyatt in a better place, a more hopeful place, where he believes that whatever crappy hand he's been dealt isn't the final word on things. That his past doesn't have to define him, and that it's okay to have hope. To live fully, to strive for better, instead of expecting the worst all the time.

I'm not happy with Ethan's mom in this book, for how she acted, and I hope that she will take the time to actually talk to Wyatt, and not let her opinion of him be defined by what she heard from others, who don't have the inclination to portray him in a positive light. I would also think that she ought to trust her own son enough to make the right choices, when he hasn't given her any kind of reason not to.

Ethan makes mistakes, sure. He did in the first book, and he makes some here too, but his mistakes are because he's young and doesn't know the best way to approach subjects yet, and even when he makes a mistake, he's quick to admit it. Everything he does is with Wyatt in mind, and it hurt my heart when Wyatt would question his loyalty, even if it was only in his mind. He's also willing to lay his heart on the line, and tell Wyatt how he feels.

I liked Wyatt's uncle and his girlfriend - I hope they'll feature in the third book as well, because I think that Wyatt needs family who stands by him, so he can learn that some people can be trusted, and that his Waardenburg is just a part of him, and not the whole. Nor should he let it define him.

Looking forward to the next one. 2017?? Gah, that's a long way off.

** I received a free copy of this book from its publisher via Netgalley. A positive review was not promised in return. **

Author Of The Month - Lisa Henry - Week Three

Join us again today as we continue our celebrations for this fantabulous author! 

ARC Review: Adulting 101 by Lisa Henry

Adulting 101 - Lisa Henry

Lisa Henry wrote a fluffy, laugh-out-loud romance, y'all.

On the surface, this book is hilarious fun. I loved, loved, LOVED the characters, the dialogue between Nick and Jai, Nick's lack of brain-to-mouth filter, with such gems as

“But, okay, I’m seriously wearing my favorite red shirt and I would really, really like to suck your dick.”

and the banter between Nick and Devon (his straight BFF). I was giggle-snorting many times before I had even hit the 4th chapter, and not only because of Nick's blurtiness.

Adulting is hard, y'all. Especially when you've hit that magical age of 18, you're heading to college, and the world expects you to be an adult almost overnight. And what better way to spend your last summer of relative freedom by hooking up with the hot-as-hell guy whose ass you've been admiring, not only by staring but also by writing haikus, amirite? Horny teenager, anyone?

But this isn't just a feel-good funny romance with characters getting caught in compromising situations. No, once you realize that this is a Lisa Henry book, you start to read more carefully and see how cleverly she inserted the hard, I mean, difficult stuff.

Nick's angst of not only being away from BFF Devon when he heads for college (these two are so charmingly co-dependent) but also not knowing what he wants to really study (quite normal for someone his age) is what really did it for me in this book. Add to that his somewhat precarious relationship with his parents, especially his dad, and the disappointment he sees in their eyes, and the realism in this book jumped to new heights.

Nick is a typical teenager at 18 - selfish to some extent, unable to think much further than his own desires and wants, and not really seeing that the world extends past his nose and surely doesn't revolve around him. He's also got an affinity for LotR.

Jai on the other hand is at 25 a bit more grown-up. He spends the summer in his small home-town to work and save up money so he can travel all over the world for the rest of the year. Never one to be in a long-term relationship, he romances whoever, male or female, is available and willing for a while, and then moves on, no hard feelings. No real feelings at all, really. He's a bit shocked by Nick's blurty awkwardness, but his dick sure isn't. The prospect of having a no-strings relationship for while he's home works for him, and he find Nick oddly charming.

But then he gets to know Nick, and starts to see the Nick he's kept hidden, the one who has some real angst and fears, who's worried, and who needs a shoulder to lean on and someone to understand and just listen.

As Jai becomes that for Nick, Nick also realizes that he's been a bit self-absorbed, and that he doesn't have to be that way. He starts making an effort, though he's still not clear on how to convey to his father that what he envision for himself and what his father envisions doesn't match. And it comes across quite well that Nick is, despite being a typical teenager, also kind and sweet and thinking of others, something that is made very clear in one particular situation.

There's actually some growth here too, for both main characters, not just Nick. Jai too realizes a couple of truths about himself that he has never actually considered, and as he falls more and more for Nick, he begins to think more long-term. And also think about why he keeps wanting to escape, not only from his home-town but also a romantic relationship.

While some people may call the ending a HEA, I'm more inclined to call it a HFN, considering that this is Nick's first adult relationship and that they haven't been together all that long when the book ends.

But it ends on a really good note, with some resolutions made.

Highly recommended!!

** I received a free copy of this book from its publisher via Netgalley. A positive review was not promised in return. **

Release Day ARC Review: Marriage Of Inconvenience by Mj O'Shea

Marriage of Inconvenience - M.J. O'Shea

This offering in the Dreamspun Desires series was deliciously tropey and thus a perfect addition.

Jericho Knox is a Hollywood bad boy/actor, known for his wild ways and public escapades. His publicist team is tasked with keeping him in the news which seems fairly simple, until Jericho is outed in a grainy image taken in a bar's restroom while getting a BJ - from a guy.

Of course in Spin-Everything-Hollywood, the publicist team does what it does best - put a positive spin on a this potential disaster, and, wouldn't you know, Jericho has been in a long-term relationship with Kerry Pickering, of said publicist team.

I understood Kerry's motives for going along with the ruse, and I actually quite liked his character. He did what had to be done, no matter how reluctant he was about the whole thing, and even if it was detrimental to his own reputation, considering the seediness of the, uhm, situation he pretended to have been a part of.

I didn't like Jericho for a long time in this book, especially not when he presumed that Kerry was doing it for the money, or the fame. I don't think he understood Kerry at all for the longest time, and he didn't seem to want to even make an effort to get to know the real Kerry, instead making assumptions that aren't based on any kind of reality.

Of course, this being a romance, the two fall in love over the course of the book, there's some more drama, but the happy ending left nothing to be desired.

The plot flowed well, without any major lulls, the writing was perfect for this tropey romance, and I was highly entertained throughout.

Nicely done!!

** I received a free copy of this book from its publisher. A positive review was not promised in return. **

Author Of The Month - Lisa Henry - Week Two

Join us again today as we continue our celebrations for this fabulous author!! 

ARC Review: Everyday History by Alice Archer

Everyday History - Alice Archer

I read this book at the request of the author who provided me with a free copy for review.

I had no idea what to expect, really, other than a romance developing between a history teacher (Henry) and his student (Ruben). The age-gap was initially a bit of concern, but as I got past the first chapter or so, I didn't think much about it any more. Though Henry does, of course.

It was fascinating to watch these two very different men, one young and impetuous, the other older and much more cautious, and how they acted with one another. Initially, it seems that Ruben views Henry as another conquest, but that's not really the case. And Henry, struck by Ruben just the same, is always very aware of how inappropriate his reactions are, and doesn't act on them until after Ruben is no longer a student of his. So, nothing untoward here.

The writing style is very different from my usual romance fare, and switching between Ruben's and Henry's POV, but in such a manner that was not jarring, but fascinating. Some of you may not like the POV switches, or the fact that this book is written in the present tense, which can make a story feel breathless - and which is not the case here. In fact, I think if it were written in the past tense, it would not have had the impact on my emotions that it did. Watching Ruben panic and flee after the intense weekend he spends with Henry, and watching him slowly come into himself and figure out what he wants and needs - magical to watch unfold.

The supporting cast in this book, including Henry's jerk of a literary agent, was also well done, and sufficiently fleshed out to not become cardboard characters. They fit seamlessly within the plot, and provided on occasion the catalyst for character growth, especially as far as Ruben is concerned.

The title of this book plays on the articles Henry writes, first for a newspaper column, then in book format, and I thought them to be rather interesting. To look at everyday objects and create stories around them, stories that put meaning into these objects - that was rather unique content, one that I really appreciated.

There is little steam here, though it'd be silly to ignore this book for that reason. What matters most to me in any romance is the emotional connection between the main characters, that their romance is believable, and that they touch me in some way, that they bring out my own emotions as well. Sexy times, while certainly appreciated, are not required for my enjoyment level. And emotions - this book has them in droves. They fly right off the pages, and I fell for Ruben just as quickly as I fell for Henry. And while the characters spend little time together on page, you can see the connection they have, the strength of it, even while they're apart.

Their relationship, even though derailed for a while, due to Ruben needing to grow up a bit and figure things out, and due to Henry being patient and understanding that all he might get is just that one weekend with Ruben, still grows and grows. Even if neither has any idea whether the other feels the same way, even if they don't reunite until almost the end. They both understand however that what they have is worth fighting for, and fight for it, they do, with Ruben going after what he wants, and Henry realizing that he can have Ruben for good if only he is brave enough to reach for him.

Beautifully written, highly engaging, and definitely recommended. Get yourself a copy of this and savor every single word inside. The many unique aspects of this book are well worth your time.

** I received a free copy of this book from its author. A positive review was not promised in return. **

Author Of The Month - Lisa Henry - Week One

Come join us today as we celebrate the fabulous Lisa Henry! 

Book Review: The Invasion Of Adam by Claire Davis and Al Stewart

The Invasion of Adam - Claire  Davis, Al  Stewart

The magical love story of Tork and Adam continues in this second book. Now in a relationship, Tork and Adam still have their individual moments of panic, but instead of running from each other, they tend to run toward each other, talk about things, communicate honestly, help each other through the moments of angst and crisis.

The writing is beautiful, and the voices of the two authors mesh ever so wonderfully in this book as well.

What I loved most about this book is how Tork and Adam give each other strength. As much as Adam gives Tork confidence to rebuild his life, helps him get off the streets into an apartment, looking into taking college classes, and even reaching out to his family again, so does Tork help Adam find his way as well. They fully support one another, and that's what their relationship is all about.

Even when Tork falls back into old habits and hides, Adam is not deterred and just knows where to find him. When Adam doesn't know how to move forward, when he fails his classes, Tork shows him that he has choices, that he doesn't have to feel stuck, and then encourages and helps with salvaging Adam's relationship with his parents.

Their commitment to each other throughout this book, despite individual setbacks, despite their ongoing struggles, is what makes this such a beautiful read. I believed in them, I feared with them, I rejoiced with them. Heck, I even laughed with them. Both Tork and Adam have such unique personalities, and while they are opposites in many ways, they just fit so well together.

The only niggle I had, and it's probably a minor one, is that around 40% Tork thinks about a horrid experience, which is then never mentioned again. That what he's hinting at in his mind made me hold my breath for a moment, and I was hoping, to some extent, that this would be discussed at some point in the book. It wasn't, and I wasn't quite on board with that. Perhaps the authors will cover this in a continuation of the story they have crafted here.

Still a 4.5 star read, rounded up bc Goodreads.

** I purchased this book for myself. **

ARC Review: Jacob's Journey by Sydney Presley

Jacob's Journey (Highgate Shifters Book 5) - Sydney Presley

This is book 5 of the Highgate Shifters series. It cannot be read as a standalone as each book builds from the previous ones.

Jacob is a lion shifter from the Oakland pride, sent by his pride leader to collect two missing members from the Highgate wolf shifter compound.

Upon arrival, he realizes that the two missing lions have bonded, and neither is interested in leaving Highgate to return to the autocratic ruler they left behind.

And then Jacob runs into Frankie, a wolf. Hello, mating bond.

The romance was nice, and I liked both Jacob and Frankie, and how their relationship developed. Even if Jacob was a bit reluctant to believe in lion/wolf matings, he couldn't deny the pull of the bond. Frankie was much more open to the concept from the start and didn't let the differences in species deter him from pursuing his goal. Because, you know, mate.

The conflict however seemed to have a huge build-up and then a rapid solution, that felt a bit like a letdown, as it seemed a bit too easy. Still, I was glad that it got resolved, and that Jacob and Frankie got their HEA.

I'm looking forward to the next one in this series.

Just heed the notice at the top. These cannot be read out of order. If you like M/M romance with shifters, sexy times and action, this may be a good series for you.

** I received a free copy of this book from its publisher. A positive review was not promised in return. **

Release Day ARC Review: Stranded With Desire by Rick R. Reed and Vivien Dean

Stranded with Desire (Dreamspun Desires Book 15) - Vivien Dean, Rick R. Reed

I love, love, love the "doing the bossman" trope. You know where the boss falls for his employee, the one that's been secretly pining for him all along.

And this book's blurb sounded pretty darn good - right up my alley - hinting at this particular trope.


In this book, we have Maine (the boss) and Colby (his assistant) whose plane crashes on their way home into the Cascade mountains. They make it out alive, but can't find the pilot. Together, the two men try to find their way off the mountain.

Of course, there's a bit of background story. Maine runs his own company, is engaged to be married to a nice woman, but is secretly gay. Knows he's gay, but doesn't think that he will be able to be openly gay, and pursue the nice assistant he's in love with. But nothing has an impact as much as a near-death experience to realize what's truly important, right?

Colby has been in love with his boss for a while and can't hardly believe it when Maine confesses the same. Their courage is tested a few times down the mountain, braving a bear and a massive flood. I really liked Colby. He has guts and spunk, but also a very vulnerable side, willing to stand aside if it would be the better choice for Maine.

I mostly bought the romantic relationship that very quickly develops (considering they're trying to survive their trip off the mountain), especially from Colby's side. I had some niggles with Maine's behavior, seeing how he is engaged, but again, nothing like almost dying to make you realize what counts. I felt sort of sorry for the rather nice woman in Maine's life, who's getting left, especially with how very understanding she was about the whole thing. I don't usually like cheaters, and while Maine had no way of contacting her while he was trying to get Colby and himself safely off the mountain, I felt that maybe he should have found his balls a little sooner. Like, before their plane fell out of the sky, especially since he realizes his feelings for Colby long before then.

The mystery around the plane crash, the ominous phone call that prompts Maine to leave Seattle sooner than planned, the hints at the coming show-down, the "whodunit" - all that was very nicely done and fit well within the romance plot. By the time of the "big climax", I wanted Maine and Colby to get their happy ending, so I was fully rooting for them.

For fans of Rick R. Reed, I would recommend you pick this up. Rick's style does shine through most of it. I don't have any experience with Vivien Dean, but her style appears to have meshed nicely with Rick's, and there weren't any jarring differences as far as I could tell. Overall this was an enjoyable read, with a fabulous HEA included.

** I received a free copy of this book from its publisher. A positive review was not promised in return. **

ARC Review: The Night Screams by Devon McCormack

The Night Screams - Devon McCormack
This book starts off with 17 year-old Cal, whose name we haven't been told at this point, running naked through the woods after having escaped from his kidnapper. The writing brilliantly describes his terror and determination and struggle to get away. I was on the edge of my seat, biting my nails, fearing for this young man.

Upon breaking out of the woods at the edge of a small town, Cal manages to steal some clothes from a thrift store, but is then caught stealing a bit of food from the convenience store next-door by 18 year-old Jake, the store's clerk. In the ensuing pursuit and fight, Cal is knocked unconscious.

When he comes to, he's in the home of Gary and Luce, Jake's aunt and uncle, who offer him a place to stay and food.

Jake is understandably upset and distrustful of Cal.

Cal is mute because of the terrors of his experience, of which we know a little by that point.

By this point, the author had me fully vested in the story. When Cal relays his story, of how he came to be homeless and how he was kidnapped and tortured, I cried hot tears.

By this point, I expected this book to relay Cal's struggles to come to terms with being kicked out by his parents, and being kidnapped and abused by a psychopath, but that's not actually what I got.

It seemed that the author dropped that particular subject down to Cal going to a few appointments with a counselor, and spun the story into an entirely different direction - that of the romance between Jake and Cal. I thought that considering the trauma Cal went through at the hands of his kidnapper, not enough time was spent on successfully working through that issue - it became almost a forgotten topic. I also didn't buy that someone who had experienced such horrible torture, as is described early on, would then be able to so quickly embark on a physical relationship without at least experiencing some major flashbacks. This kind of stuff isn't going to simply fall by the wayside, and I don't think the author did Cal any favors by portraying him this way. There was a bit too much telling here for my taste, when I wanted to be shown Cal's struggles. A few sentences do not healing make.

I did like the family Cal has the good fortune to meet, and especially Gary seemed to help Cal quite a bit. Luce struggles for a while when Jake and Cal start dating, but comes around when it counts.

Jake's portrayal was realistic enough when considering that he himself is a product of uncaring parents, and his aunt and uncle took him in, and this explains his actions and attitude toward Cal early on. While I didn't entirely buy the rapidity with which he fell for Cal (and vice versa), I could understand his actions later in the book and explain them with his age.

The author definitely captured the recklessness of youth in this book, and portrayed the characters well for the ages they are. What I didn't like is that Cal and Jake felt the need to
get married
(show spoiler)
 and I also didn't appreciate the added drama of Jake's ex-boyfriend's lies. That, while perhaps in character, felt unnecessary, and I had some real concerns for Cal and Jake's future relationship if Cal is still so insecure to have believed the lies so quickly.

If I were still a young adult, I might not have reacted with so much disbelief and critique as I did when reading this book, but at this point in my life I expect a more realistic portrayal of certain issues, especially considering that this book is geared toward young adults, who may be struggling with those issues themselves. In those cases, this book could be considered to set unrealistic expectations, and I don't appreciate that in a YA novel.

There were some really good parts in this book, and some that weren't to my taste, hence the three stars.

** I received a free copy of this book from the author via Netgalley. A positive review was not promised in return. **


Book Review: With The Band by L.A. Witt

With the Band - L.A. Witt

Dissenting opinion ahead...

So, this didn't work for me on a few levels. For starters, I didn't entirely buy that the relationship was a love match. It seemed to be mostly lust, and I couldn't quite follow at what point Bastian and Aaron fell in love. Their bedroom antics were hot, smoking, sure, but their relationship seemed to be based on mostly that, and while they may be young now, that sort of chemistry will eventually sizzle, so something else needs to be in place to bind them.

Secondly, the drama. While I got the need to keep the relationship secret, what with the rule of "don't date within the band" and the pressure of performing most every night, and their big chance on the horizon, I thought that there was a bunch of fabricated drama, including the BIG ONE toward the end that could have been avoided, if the other band members weren't so hell-bent on being right and actually gave both Bastian and Aaron a chance to plead their case, and then maybe, just maybe, put the brain they have to good use. Because ultimately, the other band members caused the drama and the angst for most of this book.

And, Todd - outing your brother, and with a comment like that? That's really, really low. Fuck you.

Also, I resented the characterization of Denise. Her only purpose was to be shrill and annoying and evil, and she didn't have one single redeeming quality. She felt entirely one-dimensional. Add to that that she's the catalyst of the BIG ONE drama. The way the band members talked about her, while perhaps in line with her portrayal, was also off-putting.

Certain themes were picked up, like Aaron's parents being homophobic, but then not resolved. The manager, Rob - seriously, what kind of manager was he? He ordered Aaron and Bastian to "fix it", but didn't have the smarts to realize that Aaron and Bastian, while the catalyst, weren't the root cause for the discord and tension within the band.

And I can't believe I say this, but there was probably too much sex in this book, and that's actually my biggest hang-up. It felt as if 50% of the book were sex scenes or leading-up-to-sex scenes, and I eventually starting skimming them. Not that they were super repetitive, and not that I didn't think they were hot because this author surely delivers on that, but it became too much, and seemed to be filler, instead of addressing the real issues in this book - two MCs who feel they have to sneak around because of an unwritten rule, even after they confess their love for each other, and three other band members who needed to pull their heads out of their asses. Yeah, yeah, when you date within the band and then break up, it could break up the band too. But, and that's my hang-up, I was pissed off with Todd and Andre, and Elena too, that they wouldn't even LISTEN for one damn minute about what Aaron and Bastian had to say. They expected them to end the relationship, and eventually, with their crappy attitude, caused Bastian to buckle under the pressure.

I liked Aaron and Bastian, and I liked the fiery chemistry they had, even though I have concerns that this will take them to a HEA. They did communicate honestly, for the most part, so maybe there's hope for them after all.

Yeah, this book didn't work for me as well as I had hoped based on the blurb. I don't regret reading it, though, so that counts for something.

I own a copy of this book that I purchased for myself.