I like romance and boys loving boys in my books.
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Join us again as we continue our celebrations with a look at the Fish Out Of Water series, including an exclusive excerpt from the third book which is forthcoming in September.
I sat on this review for a few days, hoping I would have the words.
I don't have the words. Sorry, Kristoffer.
But I promised a review, so I'll do my best to somewhat coherently tell you about this book. First off, this is not a romance. This is a thriller/mystery/paranormal/horror kind of book, and a prequel of sorts to the first book, Falling Awake. If you've read that first one, this second book will give you the background information that you wanted but didn't need for the first book.
When Andrew O'Connell was ten years old, he went to the fair with his friend Thomas, also ten. The night after they went, Thomas was abducted from his house in the middle of night, his parents slain in their bed. Thomas was found dead a few days later in an abandoned house. And for fourteen years, Andrew has felt unimaginably guilty, because he believes that what happened to Thomas was his fault. He has nightmares nearly every night, and he will not stop until he can figure out what really happened to Thomas, and find the men who so brutally killed his friend.
Andrew now works for OSHA, tasked with travelling to areas where an accident has occurred to find out what really happened, to smoke out the truth, always one step behind the elusive person responsible. At the same time, Andrew tries to gather more information on the incident that took his childhood friend, and he's not afraid to use whatever means he has to just to get the answers he needs. Andrew is not always a good man, he's not always a nice guy - he uses people even though he feels guilty doing so - because what matters is that he finds the perpetrators of that heinous crime and stops them before they can kill again.
The book is set in the early 1970s, when Andrew is 24, which means the original crime took place in 1958. The author did a fine job on the research to ensure the references to historical facts are accurate. There was but one inaccuracy, which I'm not going to tell you about - let's see if you can spot it yourself.
The writing is vivid, drawing you in from the get-go. Andrew's nightmares are visualized, and I was more often than not on the edge of my seat while reading this book. The author doesn't spare us the horrors perpetrated upon Thomas, though they are doled out in smaller doses so as to not overwhelm the reader. It's difficult on occasion to read about the violence that little boy endured, and there were tears in my eyes plenty of times as well.
Evil is real, and it will corrupt and claim a person's soul. But there is goodness too, there is light, and we have to believe that the light will prevail if only you have heart. The book is aptly named "Revenant" - one that returns.
There is no happy ending - there really couldn't be. And the ending was unexpected and also not - there actually was no other imaginable way of ending the book.
It is a prequel, of sorts. Keep that in mind when you read this. And read this, you should. Because it's different and it's fantastic, and it will haunt you and make you think.
I'm told the author is currently working on the third book, which I would assume will pick up where the first book ended.
I can hardly wait to read it.
** I received a free copy of this book from its author in exchange for an honest review. **
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I read this without realizing it was book 2 of a series, but that didn't really hurt my enjoyment of it.
Frenemies-to-lovers is a fabulous trope, and the author made fine use of it in here. However, that's not the only trope in here, because frenemies lead to fake boyfriends to oops, we got drunk married.
Victor and Todd hate each other, but love to hate-fuck each other when their friends/couple Rusty and Niles aren't looking, except they really don't, because Victor hides a massive crush on Todd behind his snarky sarcasm, and Todd only sort of hates Victor because of guilt and shame over almost screwing with Dusty and Niles' HEA (which apparently happened in book 1).
At the beginning of this book, Todd, Rusty, and Niles are coming back from vacation and stop over in OK City, before going home to small town Oklahoma. Victor lives in OK City, so they meet him for dinner. Todd is already counting the minutes until the end of dinner so he and Victor can sneak off for sexy times.
While coming down from the orgasmic high, and noticing a strange shift that seemed to have happened during sex, Victor tells Todd about attending his sister's upcoming wedding solo, and hating that, and somehow Todd agrees to be Victor's fake boyfriend at the wedding.
Alcohol comes into play, and they wake up the morning after the wedding married.
From there, the book turns into a bit of an angst-fest, with both men keeping the marriage secret while agreeing to see if they can make it work, Todd making up stories (lies) when Rusty and Niles inquire of his whereabouts, Victor wondering if this marriage will last the summer, and whether it should, Todd and Victor NOT talking about how they really feel, feelings getting hurt, Todd coming clean to his family, which is a bit... shall we say... rough, Victor feeling like giving up, and two men who love each other being almost too damn proud to confess their true feelings.
The writing is fabulous. There are one-line zinger that had me giggling, and some humorous moments, such as Victor's box of sex toys being labeled "important documents".
What I also really appreciated is that the author went beyond what could have become simply a rom-com and actually dug deeper into both characters. Todd especially suffers from a lack of confidence in his relationship skills, considering that he blew it with Rusty, and doesn't quite know how to navigate the waters between his feelings for Victor, his desire for something permanent, and his fears of screwing up again. Victor too isn't just all snark and sass, and there are worries keeping him up at night, specifically how to make enough money to keep paying rent, and whether his job will still exist after the summer.
So while there are giggles and snickers to be had, and while the sexy times are hawt, there is more to this story than just those. Add a sweet HEA, and you have yourself a fine romance. I had a grand time reading this book, even without knowing anything about these folks from the first book, and I think you would too.
** I received a free copy of this book from its author. A positive review was not promised in return. **
This is the 2nd book for Jesse and Sean, continuing shortly after where Hawk and the Rowan ended. Jesse still struggles with his place on the town council, with being the Alpha wolf, with having to be in charge of things, and he's finding it equally difficult to help Sean grieving the loss of his mother and finding his stride in dealing with his powers as a succubus.
There were some humorous moments to lighten the mood, which is mostly somber throughout the book, which was to be expected after the events of book 4, as well as considering what we find out in this book.
At around 30% or so, I had an inkling on how this would unfold, after finding out who sent the troll that killed Sean's mother, and the three young wolves showed up in town.
The book is told entirely from Jesse's POV, and he's a somewhat unreliable narrator, as his perception of how people feel about him isn't entirely accurate, something that he's starting to learn. His guilt stemming from mistakes made in the past, and how they are affecting the present, is obviously not helping him see himself clearly, and he continues to feel as if he's not good enough and can never measure up.
I would have liked to find out more about what makes Sean ticks, but perhaps that's still to come. I wish Jesse could see himself as others do, and it seems that by the end of this book, he's starting to get there. Their relationship gets a chance to grow in this book also, as Sean towards the end forces some honest conversations with Jesse instead of both of them fumbling with what needs to be said.
As the focus of this book is mostly on the new wolves in town, and Jesse struggling with his guilt and his keeping secrets from Sean and others about the true reason for the troll attack, we don't see a whole lot of the townsfolk in this book, at least not as much as we did in previous ones. Of course, all the main players make an appearance, and everyone contributes to the plot unfolding, but this book felt to some extent as a transition, a bridge, a set up for the next one. It also felt shorter than the previous ones, but certainly covered what it needed to cover.
Of course, the writing is as awesome as always, engaging and entertaining, and I continue to be fascinated with this series. Fletcher's 2nd book is next, and if the first chapter is any indication, it'll be a wild ride. I can hardly wait!
Please note: These cannot be read as standalone books and must be read in order.
** I received a free copy of this book from Signal Boost promotions as part of this tour in exchange for an honest review. **
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There were some really good themes in this book, and there were some things that weren't so good.
Let's talk about the good stuff first.
The author does a fine job exploring the impact and effects of PTSD that Cameron experiences, and how it shapes his interactions with the world around him, even when (and perhaps especially when) the traumatic events leading to the PTSD have passed. The darkness to which Cameron escapes is a place of safety to which he retreats when he's under extreme pressure or fear. An international aid worker for many years, Cameron has seen more than his fair share of human suffering, violence, and death, and there's not much left of the idealistic, out and proud gay man he was 10 years or so ago, the one who wanted to help others and jumped into aid work with both feet. Being gay is a crime in many African countries still, and Cameron knows only too well what might happen to someone who's found out to be gay. He has hidden that part of himself behind a cynical and gruff exterior because it's safer that way.
Tyler is very much an opposite to Cameron. Somewhat self-centered and career oriented, he struggles with his ethnicity (born in America of Chinese heritage) and having clawed his way to success out of growing up in foster care. He's extremely sensitive to perceived slights, and he's unhappy at his job because he feels that he's being marginalized for his race and heritage, and not given any real assignments other than covering the happenings in Chinatown. At first, I didn't like Tyler very much. He was angry, perhaps understandably so, but also standoffish. He grew on me, especially as the author peeled back the layers of his personality, and Tyler became Cam's main support system.
While sex happens early, intimacy and romance does not, and the slow burn inside needed to be, since Cameron's PTSD makes for a difficult companion, and Tyler doesn't initially know how to help the other man, helplessly watching Cam sink deeper and deeper into the darkness.
Love, as it happens between them, happens slowly, almost as a side product of their struggles to overcome the obstacles in their respective lives.
It is only when they are separated again, by choice to some extent, that both men realize how much they need the other, just when it's nearly too late. The darkness threatens to swallow Cameron whole, and there's no Tyler to pull him back when he needs it the most. The climax of this book did have me at the edge of my seat, even if the ending felt a bit rushed.
Now for the not so good. This was my first book by this author, and the writing style didn't really work for me. It was oftentimes more tell than show, which is a shame, really, because the story itself was well done. But show me what makes your characters tick - don't tell me.
There was also some slut-shaming inside, which I thought a bit odd, and while I don't know much about UN Aid workers and how things are run there, I was left to wonder if someone diagnosed with severe PTSD, under the supervision of a therapist, would then be sent back to another hellhole with the expectation of performing the job as if the PTSD didn't exist.
This is a heavy, angsty read, and not the kind of book you take with you for a sunny day on the beach. There's a lot of darkness inside, and both Cameron and Tyler have to fight their way into the light.
Overall, I enjoyed reading this book. If you like romances that are slow to develop, with a lot of angst, this might be a book for you.
** I received a free copy of this book from its publisher via Netgalley. A positive review was not promised in return. **
Join us once more as we celebrate this fantastic author!
Join us once more as we continue our celebrations for this fabulous author!
Morris Proctor is a self-proclaimed geek and comic book artist, really tall and lanky, and African-American. Somewhat lonely living by himself, but no interested in his family's attempts at match-making, he spends time with his niece, who's in a wheelchair since an accident, but who features prominently as the heroine in one of his comic series. A somewhat recent relationship with a non-geek who tried to change him has left Morris a bit wary of finding love with someone who's not into the same things he is.
Theo Boarman, short, white, has only recently moved into the apartment above Morris with his younger brother Lincoln, who's still a minor, after both their parents died. Theo is a chef and now co-owns his parents' restaurant with one of his sisters, and relations are somewhat strained with another two of his siblings. Theo is a busy man - there's not much time in the day for dating, while working a full shift at a restaurant, taking care of his little brother, and the responsibilities that generally come with being the oldest of the siblings.
Since they're neighbors, it's inevitable that they meet. Morris can't keep his eyes off the man playing basketball with his younger brother, and Theo is enchanted with the tall dude in a kilt.
This book is high on geeky references and talks about comic cons and it's very clear that Morris and Theo inhabit two very different worlds. But opposites attract, and neither is unwilling to participate in a little summer fling, because surely that's all it ever can be.
Except then stuff happens, and their worlds collide and mesh and it surprises both of them how easily they can fit into each other's worlds. There are plenty of supporting characters from Morris' and Theo's side of the aisle, and while there is a bit of angst and some minor misunderstandings, the reason the relationship is slow to come to fruition (frustratingly so at times) is for a couple of reasons - Morris' doubting that a non-geek like Theo will not try to change him or eventually start complaining about how much time Morris spends drawing the comic books or a cons, and Theo just putting too much on his plate and trying to carry the world on his shoulders.
I didn't entirely buy the romance, to be honest. I didn't feel that they were truly falling for each other for quite a while, but then eventually went with it. Maybe that's on me, and you'll feel differently reading this book. It was nice watching Morris' world through Theo's eyes, and vice versa. Also, some good food being mentioned, though it would have been great to see some recipes at the end of the book. I liked the dynamics between Theo and Lincoln, and see Theo interact with his employees at the restaurant. When he eventually learns to give up a bit of control and trust the people he's worked with for so long, and that it doesn't mean neglecting his parents' heritage, I could even see some growth in him.
Morris too has to learn to trust, not only his instincts, but another person who sneaks into his heart and thus has the ability to really hurt him. Merging two very different and separate lives isn't easy, but all good things are worth a bit of sacrifice, right?
I did enjoy reading this, with all his geek speak, and all the references about so-called geeky things.
Bonus points if you know what movie the final quote in the book is from. "Take Me To Bed, Or Lose Me Forever." (Put your guess in the comments, maybe?)
** I received a free copy of this book from its publisher in exchange for an honest review. **
I've never been to Bonaire, but after reading this book, I want to go. There are quite a few sections inside that read like an advertisement for the place, and I want to go. If you pop over to my blog, you'll see a couple of images of the reefs as well, taken by none other than the author.
Here's a link.
Tommy Gordon is getting ready for his wedding, straightening his tie just moments before the ceremony is supposed to start, when his groom-to-be tells him the wedding is off. Xavier (remember the name of the rancid jerkface) has cold feet/second thoughts, and it's goodbye, Tommy.
Heartbroken, Tommy wants nothing more than to hide, but there's the honeymoon trip, already planned and paid for, and what shall he do with that, amirite? Who wants to go alone on what's supposed to have been the honeymoon?
Tommy's best friend Grayson, who made the suggestion that Tommy take the trip anyway, finds himself and his young son Petey invited to join Tommy in paradise for a bit of snorkeling, relaxation, and enjoying the scenery.
Grayson's had a crush on Tommy for a long while, but he hasn't been a position or brave enough to change the status quo and ask for more.
And off they are, because when you have money, last minute ticket changes are not a hindrance, and thus the romance begins.
Slowly, of course, because Tommy is still mourning what might have been, and kicking his own rear end because he's just so pathetic and worthless that not even a gold digger like Xavier would want him.
Grayson is no gold digger, just a dude with a heart of gold, and while he has his son to think of, he is all on board with wooing Tommy, with Petey's encouragement.
I really, really want to go to Bonaire. The descriptions in the book are vivid and enticing, and the author did a fine job transporting this reader into paradise with his words alone.
Obviously, there's a bit of angst, what with Tommy's self-doubts and Grayson's fears of losing his friend, but they overcome all that. They overcome Xavier showing up at the resort uninvited (the nerve of that guy) and threatening Tommy (the NERVE of that guy), and Grayson making the unwilling acquaintance of a Man O' War (ouchie) and a bit of drama at the end just before all is well and they live happily ever after.
So yeah, this is fluffy fluff, with a wee bit of angst, and beautiful scenery, and would someone please invite me to go to Bonaire?
It's the perfect beach vacation read, so get this book and enjoy it on a day in the sun.
** I received a free copy of this book from its publisher in exchange for an honest review. **
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Well, this was utterly adorable. Extremely likable characters, even if Drew can be a bit of a diva, inside a mainly angst-free romance on a movie set between a famous Hollywood actor and the brand-new screenwriter whose first screenplay was just optioned and who's sucked into playing one of the leading roles in the movie, falling in love on set and off, and character growth wrapped in a fluffy, feel-good novel - yeah, I'm all for that.
Add some fun supporting characters, like Steve's mom, and Drew's agent, and you have yourself a well-rounded book with which to curl up in your favorite beach lounger for a sunny afternoon.
The meet-cute happens at the auditions where Drew rejects more than a few candidates to star in the movie opposite him, until he sees the cute screenwriter and decides on the spot that this is the guy who should be cast. Steve, the screenwriter, may not be a complete stranger to Hollywood but he values his privacy and would prefer to remain out of the spotlight. But who can possibly deny Drew?
Both of them are rather normal outside of the set, and they communicate with each other. There's a date and slow-dancing, and sweet kisses, and even a bit of steam. We see them on set making the movie Steve wrote, and we get to laugh with them when things don't go as planned. We get to see Drew get all frustrated, and we see Steve call him on that foul temper. Thankfully, there are no horrible miscommunications or stupid assumptions, and they even weather the media storm quite well when their budding romance is outed unexpectedly.
With a lovely epilogue, this book held me enthralled from start to finish, cute dog included. Also, could someone please make this movie from the book? It sounds fabulous, and I want to watch it!
Recommended. Buy this book and get yourself to your nearest beach or lakefront to enjoy this sweet romance.
** I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. **
This was a sweet, unassuming, and rather quiet romance novel.
We are first introduced to Seth from the title at a family gathering. He is the son of a construction business owner and a partner in the business, leading a construction crew. He comes across as someone reliable, steadfast, and very calm. He's also the only single and childless one in his family, which mean he's the one who's able to travel. The jobs he lands take him out of town more often than not, and while he's not too fond of the nomadic life, he enjoys the fruits of his labor, even if he's dealing with some high-maintenance clients - they sure pay well for his services. There are hints that Seth has never shown much interest in having a love life.
Tyler, a Hollywood set designer, who after clashing with the producer over a specific set design finds himself in need of a new job. Somewhat flamboyant, Tyler makes zero excuses for wearing make-up and dressing colorfully, and whoever doesn't like it can bite him. He expects perfection of himself and those he works with, and he's not afraid to speak his mind, which sometimes gets him in trouble.
Seth needs a new designer, and Tyler needs a new design job - obviously, that's how they meet.
Without giving away the plot, let me say that this book takes slow burn to a new level. I got the feeling that Seth is demi - he needed to form an emotional connection to Tyler before being able and willing to take things further. Tyler on the other hand is immediately intrigued by Seth and feels a strong attraction, but as his boss, Seth is obviously off-limits.
While this is on the surface an opposites-attract kind of theme, there's a whole lot more to it. Tyler yearns for a place to belong, for someone who'll take him as he is, someone who'll love him just the way he is. And Seth, having never really felt any kind of sexual attraction, is adorably confused when he starts reacting to Tyler, once he gets to know the other man.
What really struck me while reading this book is how real the characters felt, not only the MCs, but the supporting cast as well. Seth's family are a loud and somewhat overbearing bunch, but they were all kind and supportive. The construction crew was diverse but worked well together also. The friendly banter between Tyler and Seth was fun, and I could clearly see them both falling in love with each other.
This is a slow burn romance, so don't expect any hot smexy times right away. There's plenty of UST though, and plenty of longing and yearning, which I definitely enjoyed. The book is told from the 1st person POV, switching between Tyler and Seth. Since their voices were distinct, I had no trouble discerning who was talking at any given time.
Well-written dialogue in an engaging story - I enjoyed reading this very much, and I think you will too.
** I received a free copy of this book from its author in exchange for an honest review. **
I absolutely adore the Belladonna Arms series by John Inman, always anxiously waiting for the next installment. I do believe though that with this latest addition to the series, we may have seen the last of Arthur, the drag queen with a heart of gold, and the unique set of characters that all live in this somewhat dilapidated apartment building on a hill in San Diego.
I'm getting ahead of myself though. If you've followed the series, which should not be read out of order, you'll probably know that Arthur is preparing to finally get married. Though this doesn't stop him from opening his property and his huge heart to two more desperate souls who just need a bit of love pollen to find their way back from the abyss.
Gideon has just broken up with his boyfriend, now ex, whose last parting shot was donating all of Gideon's belongings to the Salvation Army, save his laptop, the clothes he was wearing at the time, and a couple of t-shirts he had in the trunk of his car. To say Gideon is hard up would be an understatement. But Arthur makes him a deal on the rent, and the generous spirit of the tenants at the Belladonna Arms is a indomitable force, and soon Gideon finds himself the recipient of all the things he needs. Slowly but surely, as he's embraced and welcomed by the tenants, the grief and anger over the ex lifts and Gideon begins to look forward.
Even if he's a ginger.
His apartment neighbor is Reed, who works on the Navy docks and has just come out of a four-year marriage where he hoped that he was bisexual instead of gay. Alas, he's really, really gay, and while his relationship with his now ex-wife ended mostly on good terms, he's lost his house in the divorce, hence his renting an apartment from Arthur. His guilt over leaving his wife due to that whole not-bisexual business still weighs heavily on him, and he's definitely not ready for anything new.
Oh, and Reed too is a ginger.
I will comment here on the ginger hate that seemed to permeate this book. I don't know if this was tongue in cheek or if the author truly believes that two gingers couldn't possibly fall for each other, and what the whole point was of hating on gingers the whole time, but it became bothersome a few chapters in and I had to force myself to just ignore it.
Reed and Gideon meet, and Reed offers to help Gideon with some repairs to the apartment, and the love pollen is strong and so their romance begins.
But gingers (according to the author) cannot be attracted to another ginger (what does that even mean?) and so they just skirt around that whole relationship issue because the sex is awesome, and the cuddles after are a balm for Reed's wounded soul. Gideon falls faster than he would think, and soon they spend a whole lot of time together.
But guilt is a funny thing, and... well... I guess it makes you stupid too, sometimes, and makes you do things you wouldn't otherwise do. I so badly wanted to reach into this book and slap one of these gingers over the head to make him see how he was being manipulated, but I couldn't and so... well, you read this for yourself.
Of course, all the tenants from previous books make an appearance here, multiple times. And we mustn't forget Arthur, larger than life, dressed in what can only be described as over-the-top costumes, huffing and puffing his way up and down the stairs, trembling in fear during the multiple earthquakes that rattle the windows, preparing for his wedding to Tom - Arthur alone is worth reading this series of books. The hijinks and hilarity and feel good moments are a bonus, really.
And of course, there is a HEA. Gideon and Reed have to take a couple of detours, but in the end they get their happy, as they should.
Like I said, not sure if there will be more, but either way, you should read this. All of the books in this series.
Though, OMG, what is it with the ginger hate???
** I received a free copy of this book from its publisher. A positive review was not promised in return. **