MyFictionNook

Sandra @ My Fiction Nook

I like romance and boys loving boys in my books. 

You can also find me on my main blog

 

 




1417 Devotees
124 Devoted To
3309 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
Progress: 100 %

Favorite quotes


Book Review: Shadows On My Soul by Leigh Jarrett

Shadows On My Soul - Leigh Jarrett

First off, trigger warning - there's is on-page male on male rape in this book. Be aware. The blurb hints, but doesn't spell it out. It's thankfully not drawn out, and done with sensitivity toward the subject matter.

This was my first book by this author. I liked the complexity of the characters in this book, but they exasperated me as well.

Supposedly best friends as well as business partners, Justin has kept a huge secret from Derek, and Derek has a secret of his own. Neither of them has the emotional maturity to discuss things honestly and openly, and their relationship was highly dysfunctional. Even at the end, which is supposedly a HFN/HEA, I didn't believe they will make it. There was a ton of unnecessary drama that could have been avoided if Derek wasn't so emotionally stunted and hadn't make such stupid assumptions, and if Justin hadn't lied for so long. Both of them needed therapy after the trauma (Justin for being violated, and Derek for having seen the violation first hand) to help them cope, but neither got that.

Their inability to read each other's facial expressions and emotions also threw a big wrench into their relationship, so much so that it made no sense considering that they had been best friends since their high school days. They just didn't really seem to know each other at all.

In addition to this, the two of them are also apparently completely oblivious to how their friends perceive them - Justin pretends to be straight and not in love with Derek, and Derek has one-night-stands to distract himself from being in love with his supposedly straight, supposedly best friend, but to everyone around them, they appear to be a couple.

The writing itself was perfectly fine, but the characterizations and the constant back and forth drama between the two main characters who have lied to each other, by omission or directly, for years, in a story that was billed as a romance, didn't work for me.

YMMV.


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

Author Of The Month - Riley Hart - Grand Finale

Join us once more as we celebrate this fabulous author!!

ARC Review: The Palisade by Rosalind Abel

The Palisade (Lavender Shores) - Rosalind Abel

Lavender Shores is a new series by Rosalind Abel (aka Brandon Witt), and it's certainly off to a great start.

In this first book, we meet Andrew Kelly, whose family was one of the founders of Lavender Shores, a small tourist town/LGBTQ haven north of San Francisco, bordered by the Point Reyes National Seaboard. I've never been in that area, but the descriptions of the landscape in the book paint a gorgeous picture.

Joel Rhodes has come to Lavender Shores at the behest of his father and boss to scope out the town for a new flagship store for his father's coffee empire, and close a deal for the store. He knows this is likely a test, one he's willing to take, but also realizes that he likely will never please his father despite his best efforts. It was fairly easy to feel kind of sorry for Joel from the start.

They first meet at a local restaurant where Andrew's family is celebrating his older brother's birthday and Joel just happens to be in the same restaurant the evening he arrives in town. Attraction is immediate and fiery, and Joel and Andrew spend a hot night together.

The very next day Joel is both delighted and dismayed to discover that Andrew is a real estate agent, handling the commercial properties. As they thus meet again, and as their night of passion still lingers, the two men spend more time getting to know each other. An extra day leads to a week, and falling in love happens quicker than either of them thought.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this. Like I said in my final update, there's hot sex, a ton of emotion, a tight narrative, and a well-chosen location, with excellent use of romance tropes - what's not to love?

There's a bit of angst, of course, because there has to be. Falling in love in a week, developing such a strong bond in such a short amount of time - there's got to be some angst to level out that playing field. Joel's in a terrible position, what with his father's expectations and his own desires at complete opposites, and Andrew is unable and unwilling to leave Lavender Shores behind, happy and content to stay in the small town he calls home - thus theirs is not a smooth ride to everlasting happiness.

But love will find a way, and there's the most amazing and teary-eye-causing happy ending, and I was overjoyed to see them so in love. Joel finds in Andrew what he's been missing most his life. And Andrew gets exactly what he's dreamed of for so long.

A sweeping romance, excellent pacing, and a cast of fantastic characters (Andrew's dad is a hoot), except perhaps Joel's father, who was a bit of a caricature horrible man, made this book a fabulous read and a real page-turner. There are quite a few sexy times inside but none of them felt superfluous and all of them helped move the relationship and thus the plot forward. I also want to point out that this being the first in a series, the author did a fantastic job introducing the town and its people without it distracting from the main couple's romance.

Highly recommended. I can hardly wait for the next installment.


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

Release Day ARC Review: Romancing The Ugly Duckling by Clare London

Romancing the Ugly Duckling (Dreamspun Desires Book 36) - Clare London

On the isolated island of North Uist, which is apparently off the coast of Scotland, there lives a man all by himself in a smallish house after running away from his assholish brothers and his neglectful parents to paint, dive for scallops, and be mostly a recluse, keeping to himself.

His four brothers, one of whom I hated on sight, all somewhat famous for some reason or other, hope to make a deal with a TV company to create a reality show a la Kardashians, but they can only get the deal if the 5th brother appears as well. Greg Ventura, gentle, kind giant, wants nothing to do with them or the TV show.

Poor Perry Goodwood (lulz at that last name), ambitious and fashionable, is sent by his boss to the island to convince Greg to come to London to participate. After a make-over, of course. He flies to Scotland and catches a boat to the island, and is then stranded at the port before being fortuitously delivered to Greg's doorstop, looking like a drowned rat. The team that was supposed to meet him to convince Greg to come to London is nowhere to be found, and Perry's boss is giving him a bunch of excuses.

Great start, amirite? City slicker meets backwoods grump, and opposites attract - excellent trope!

This book is full of cute and sweet and quirky, and as Perry slowly falls in love with the island and Greg, so does Greg fall for Perry. The setting is perfect, and rather well described, so much so that I felt like I was right there on the small island. There be heather and bogs and cold, cold lochs, and beautiful nature all around.

I really liked both Perry and Greg. Perry impressed me because despite his city roots, he really tried hard to fit in on the island, and he seemed so appreciative of everyone who gave a helping hand. He wanted to learn from Greg and experience island life for himself. Greg is a bit rough around the edges, and grumps a lot, but I could tell that this was mostly to protect himself. He was kind and gentle, if somewhat clueless on occasion. The chemistry between the two men was there from the start and truly believable. There are certain parameters for this series as far as on-page sexy times are concerned, and the author delivered within those parameters, but also managed to infuse a lot of emotional bonding outside of the bedroom scenes.

The locals on the island play a huge role in this book as well, and I just loved how the author gave them all unique personalities and characteristics. Dougie, Bridie, and Louisa were perfect in their roles, and I enjoyed especially Bridie's easy banter with Perry, and how she was ultimately... well, you read this for yourself.

The Scottish brogue comes across well in the writing, and I had no trouble reading the dialect.

Quirky. Cute. And utterly adorable. A perfect addition to the Dreamspun Desires series. I had a grand time reading it. The author did a fantastic job with the characters, the setting, and the pacing, giving us a really emotional romance between two men who are complete opposites at first sight, but turn out to both want the same thing after all.

Fabulous!!


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

Author Of The Month - Riley Hart - Week Three

Join us again today as we continue our celebrations for this fabulous author, with a look at the Blackcreek series. There's also a personal story Riley has chosen to share, and another chance to win one of her books!

 

 

ARC Review: Arrows Through Archer by Nash Summers

Arrows Through Archer - Nash Summers
"One morning I woke, but the two halves of my heart did not."



I don't have adequate words to review this book, or tell you how it slayed me, or how hard I cried and grieved and wailed for Archer and for Mallory, or how impressed I am with this author's writing skills.

I'm sorry, Nash Summers. I'll buy a copy when it comes out because I just cannot write you a review - I don't have the words.

"Leaving me there in a million broken pieces, Archer walked out the door."



If you're reading this review, dear people of Booklikes, just do yourself a favor and buy a copy of this book on June 14, when it comes out, hide yourself away in a comfortable corner and read it. Have tissues, wine and chocolate ready. Yes, there is a HEA, if that's something that worries you, but their journey there is what makes this book so outstanding, so raw, and so real.

That is all.


** I received a free copy of this book from its author. A review was not promised in return. Good thing too, seeing how I can't adequately review this brilliant book. **

ARC Review: Back To You by Chris Scully

Back to You - Chris Scully

There's a melancholy undertone to this book, and it permeates everything that happens within. Set in a small town along the Canadian Highway of Tears, a stretch of road where women and young girl mysteriously disappeared over a period of about 40 years, there's a certain kind of dread that sits in the pit of your stomach from the get-go.

 

Alex/Alexander/Sandy Buchanan, a journalist, returns to the town where he grew up after leaving with his mother 20 years earlier upon his parents divorce. He returns, reluctantly, because his estranged father's drinking has finally caught up with him and the old man is expected to die soon. Alex has no expectations of a happy reunion as he still resents his father, but hopes to get a story out of his visit.

 

The story is told entirely from Alex's first-person POV, which naturally lets the reader see only what Alex chooses to see. We don't get a whole lot of insight to Ben or what makes him tick, except of what we're allowed to see through Alex somewhat self-absorbed eyes. There's a moment when Ben lays it all out, and Alex finally... well, you read this for yourself.

 

Alex's older sister Janet lives close by, having returned to be closer to their father some years ago, and their relationship is equally strained, with Janet blaming Alex for never even trying to have a relationship with his father after the divorce, and Alex resenting Janet for continuing to ask him to. Their relationship is complex, and it was clear from the start that Janet was troubled.

 

The only thing that Alex looks forward to as he drives up to the small town is seeing his childhood friend Ben/Benji Morning, who's now an artist. Back when they were in their early teens, Alex had strong feelings for Benji that confused and scared him, and when Alex and his mom moved away, he quickly forgot all about Benji. In the years since, he's never been able to recapture the feelings from their one innocent kiss, not in the one-night-stands, the failed relationships, or even his relatively short marriage.

 

Additionally, shortly before Alex's mother left with him and his sister, Benji's older sister Misty mysteriously vanished one day. Alex's father was the last one to talk to her, and Alex and Benji observed her car driving down the highway the day she disappeared. She's never been found, and her and Benji's mother has never stopped looking, obsessed with finding out what happened to her daughter. In all those years, she's never had any emotional energy left for Ben, and he basically had to raise himself after his sister's disappearance. Now living in a small studio above the garage, Benji has worked hard to find a bit of peace while still keeping an eye on his mother, a peace that is threatened by Alex showing up on his doorstep. He's teaching free art classes to special needs kids and others, and has carved out a quiet albeit lonely existence for himself. He longs to move on, but realizes that his mother will continue to stagnate in her quest for finding his sister.

 

Just about the time Alex arrives in town, Misty's car is found in a nearby lake on the outskirts of town, and the investigation is given a second wind.

 

The mystery about what happened to Misty is deeply intertwined with Alex's relationship with his father and sister, and basically drives the story. The romance and rekindled feelings between Alex and Ben take second place, really, and theirs is not an easy road.

The book is full of poignant moments, but it's more suspenseful mystery than romance. Alex learns that what he believes to be the truth might not be after all, and that the dying man in the hospital bed has perhaps similar trouble in expressing his feelings, and that Alex is his father's son after all.

 

The truth about Misty's disappearance does eventually come out, though it wasn't a huge surprise to me. There were hints along the way, in what people said, hints that Alex either didn't understand or was too busy avoiding. Truth is a double-edged sword, as Alex surely finds out.

 

This isn't an easy read, and with the focus not on the second-chance romance but the mystery and suspense, it's not a book that would appeal to readers who look for fluffy M/M romances. They'd miss out, of course, as this book showcases this author's exquisite ability to set the stage and draw images with her words, transporting the reader into the story and giving him or her a unique experience. The writing is exceptional in creating the perfect atmosphere and evoking just the right emotions while reading. As with Until September, the author also doesn't shy away from making statements about the social issues behind the Highway of Tears. 

 

I was fascinated from the start, and couldn't stop reading. A true page-turner, this book delivered on everything it promised and more.

 

 
** 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 - Riley Hart - Week Two

Come celebrate with us again this week, with a look at the Crossroads series, and five little-known facts about Riley. There's also another chance to win one of her books!

 

 

ARC Review: Texting, Autocorrect, and a Prius by M.A. Church

Texting, Autocorrect, And A Prius - M.A. Church

Cute premise - the blurb had me interested, and I was looking forward to reading this book.

It started off well enough. Darrell, early forties, is a car mechanic who recently repossessed a Prius from a customer for not paying the repair bill. Darrell doesn't need or want the Prius and hopes to sell it to recoup some of the money. What better place than Craigslist, amirite? So on suggestion of his brother Bert, Darrell puts the car up for sale.

Enter Clay, mid-thirties, who needs an inexpensive car that won't break the bank in gas consumption for his daily round-trip to work, something he's no longer willing to do in his truck.

There are a couple of almost-meets early on that set the tone for the soon-to-come romance, but then the meet-cute happens when Clay texts Darrell about the Prius and autocorrect strikes.

"Is your penis still for sale?"

Bwahahahahahaha!!!!

The attraction is sizzling when they first meet at Darrell's house to look at the car. A test drive and some light innuendo-filled banter later, a deal is struck for a Prius and a date, sealed with a hot kiss.

This is also where the book had its first WTF moment for me - I couldn't believe that two grown men would actually yank their dicks out in the driveway upon first meeting. This just rubbed me wrong - like it was perpetuating some gay man myth about promiscuity and unrelenting horniness, without any thought to who might be observing them in the driveway during their display of public indecency.

But I moved on. The sale is agreed upon, as is a date for the next evening, and then the book took a nose dive into a 2nd WTF moment.

Sure, it's all explained and what not, but I wasn't expecting Clay to be such a massive idiot. Seriously, what a stupid assumption to make. Yeah, yeah, yeah, he had his reasons with past hurt and trust issues, but come on - really? Really?

So, meet-cute, followed by a handjob in the driveway, followed by a huge misunderstanding and lack of communication, and a HFN at the end. The two MCs were nice enough, as were the supporting characters, but at supposedly 35, Clay sounded and acted at least a decade younger, and I wasn't quite buying Darrell's supposed age either.

The writing includes quite a few minute details that stretched the word count but didn't really add anything to the plot. I usually like this author's writing, so I'm a little sad that this book didn't work for me.

YMMV.


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

Release Day ARC Review: Action by Quinn Anderson

Action (Murmur, Inc. Book 2) - Quinn Anderson

When I first read the blurb, I was a wee bit worried that we'd see the two MCs perform with others, based on their line of business.

But I jumped right into this book, and then by chapter 4, the plot and fabulous writing kept me glued to the pages until the very end.

I should have left my assumptions at the front page.

Pete aka Jaden is in porn, working for Murmur Inc., to help pay for his college tuition. He enjoys it to some extent, and it pays the bills. But he's also sort of not loving it, and that comes across in his performance. His other job at a coffee shop isn't enough to cover tuition, and Pete needs this job. He also hoped when he first started that being a porn star would make him more outgoing and exciting, but that hasn't come to fruition. He's not out as a porn actor, and keeps that part of his life very much hidden from the coffee shop people and everyone else.

His boss at Murmur Inc. tells him about a feature film that she wants him to star in, with Evan/Kyle Darko as the star of the movie. And if he can't pull off his part in the movie, Pete may have to look for a new job.

Kyle is Pete's opposite in many ways - loves being a porn star, loves strutting his stuff in front of the camera, and, according to Pete, is way more daring and so not boring or gawky like Pete.

They meet as one does prior to starting the shoot, and oh boy, the UST just leaps off the pages. The scenes are super tame early on, because that's part of the movie, but I was already fanning myself from the sexual tension between the two men.

The book is told entirely from Pete's POV, so we don't really get Evan/Kyle's inner thoughts, but despite Pete's disbelief, Kyle falls for Pete. Hard.

I totally believed their romance, quick as it may be coming about, and I loved how sweet and humble Pete is, and I loved Kyle the same, even though he was a bit (okay, a lot) on the cocky side. But he knew what he wanted, namely Pete, and went for it, no hesitation.

Pete of course has trouble believing that a hot guy like Kyle could really want him, which is more or less the only angst found in this book. There is one moment where I was a little concerned that it might derail their relationship, but all's well that ends well, and it was but a blip on the radar, really.

I giggled a lot. A whole lot. The narrative in Pete's POV, and the dialogue are often snarky and hilarious, and there are quite a few one-liners that made me laugh out loud. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, and I think you will too.

Pete's mom was fabulous, and so was Kyle's family. They rounded out a fantastic cast.

Highly recommended. Also, while this is the 2nd in a series, it's no problem at all to read this as a standalone, though I would suggest that you read the first one, Hotline, as well, just to get the whole experience.


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

ARC Review: Symbols by Mario Kai Lipinski

Symbols - Mario Kai Lipinski

Gosh, I wanted to love this book. I mean, read the blurb - the bullied kid who's spent his days hiding from everyone slowly falls for the gentle giant at the high school they both attend, until an act of violence threatens to tear them both apart... yeah, I signed up immediately for the ARC.

And for the first half or so, this book held me in its grip, as the story between Matt, the bullied kid, and Shane, the gentle giant, unfolds, as Matt begins to trust Shane, as they fall in love and forge a path together.

Yes, sure, there were some issues with the dialogue, which I attributed to the author not being a native speaker and not living in the US so research into how teens talk these days would have been tricky. And yes, sure, the principal pontificates to Shane when he first starts about there being a zero-tolerance policy at the school, and yet she has no idea that Matt has been bullied for years, hiding in corners, shaking and utterly miserable, terrified, in tears, something that even the cafeteria cashier has noticed, yet the principal has no clue - how's that possible? And why wouldn't the cafeteria cashier talk to an adult at the school? Many of the bullying incidents happen in hallways or inside the cafeteria, and yet nobody addresses it.

Still, it was engaging, and was invested.

However, right about the time, Matt is beaten up and ends up in a coma in the hospital, this book took a massive nose-dive. The asshole detective that arrests Shane for allegedly causing Matt's injuries (he didn't), the subplot with Shane engaging Matt's long-time nemesis to find the real perpetrator, the court date, the dramatic last minute rescue by Shane's former friend, the drama with Matt's mother's reaction to Shane's size, the nasty old woman on the bus, and, and, and - it was just all too much and too over the top and too unrealistic in how much was piled on Matt and Shane's shoulders.

Look, I got that the author tried to make the point that one shouldn't judge a book by its cover, i.e. a teenager by his size and tattoos, but good grief, that point wasn't just made so much as hammered home time and again. And Shane, whom I adored, just took the judgments time and again, making all kinds of excuses for people's reactions to him. I hated that he did that. I hated that people would judge him just based on his looks and not his actions. For Matt's mother to think that Shane had hurt Matt, for anyone to think that Shane would hurt a fucking fly just because he's super tall, just pissed me off.

And yeah, I knew who the villain was going to be, but the reasoning behind the violent attack was pathetic. The perpetrator's characterization up to that point didn't indicate anything like what was given as a reason - I didn't buy it at all, and thought that it was just too convenient.

I loved both Matt and Shane, and I loved how gentle Shane was with Matt, and how Matt came out of his shell over time, and became the stronger one of the two. Their relationship was well done, and the author did a fantastic job bringing across the emotional bond between the two young men. What I didn't like so much were the multiple incidents of miscommunication and false assumptions that both of them make, but I chalked that off to them being young.

I think it can be very difficult for a non-native speaker to successfully write authentic dialogue as language continually evolves, especially in this day and age, and that the manner in which teens talk cannot be gleaned from, say, books, TV shows, or movies.

The premise was fantastic - the execution not so much. Still, three stars is nothing to scoff at. I did enjoy reading this book for the most part, and I did love Matt and Shane.


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

Book Review: The Escort by Jeff Erno

The Escort - Jeff Erno

I picked up this book when it was offered for free by the author a little while back. I liked the blurb, and the trope used here (man hires escort and they fall in love) is one I enjoy. Plus, having the story set at a GRL-like convention - heck, yeah, that clinched it.

In his foreword, the author explains that the characters within aren't necessarily real people, but are an amalgam of certain types of characters that have attended these conferences in the past.

As have I, and I can certainly say that the author evoked quite a few giggles and quite a few cringes in me while I was reading this book, because many of the characters are just spot-on showcasing behaviors I have seen myself.

It often seems that the events and behaviors woven into the plot of the book are tongue-in-cheek reminders of things that might have happened in slightly similar fashion, and have scandalously blown up in this genre on Facebook and Twitter. There are subtle read-between-the-lines moments that had me wonder just from whom the author drew inspiration for certain characters.

The plot is rather straight-forward - popular author DJ Torrent (Darren), in his mid-forties, hires a male escort (Travis) to accompany him to the GRR (Gay Romance Retreat) conference being held in St. Louis, MO. It's Darren's first time attending a conference, and since his husband Dan left him, he's become a bit of a recluse, but feels that after the success of his latest novel, he owes it to his readers to make an appearance. Knowing he won't be able to do so on his own, he hires Travis to pose as his husband at the conference.

Travis is in his mid-twenties and a high-end escort. Initially he's taken aback when Darren doesn't want sex and instead offers him an all-expenses-paid trip to a book conference, by pretending to be his husband. Travis has known heartbreak in his past, and has basically come to the conclusion that he'll never find real love, and certainly not in his current profession. He's an interesting and complex character, and there's much more to him than meets the eye(-candy). He realizes that his escorting days will eventually come to an end, but also doesn't think himself worthy to become anything more than what he is. He's still charming, smart, and kind, and his personality comes across very well.

The book covers five days of the conference, from arrival on Wednesday to departure after the Sunday morning breakfast, and quite a nice epilogue. There's drama, of course, what with someone basically assaulting Travis during the Cock Walk (yeah, this is a real thing, people), and then publishing a nasty blog post, exposing the truth about Darren and Travis, which thankfully backfires spectacularly on the blogger, but there's also a lot of love, not only between Travis and Darren, but also from certain conference attendees, who are supportive and kind. There's a line in which Travis describes the people at the conference as his "tribe" - and that's exactly what it feels like. I've attended three so far, and it is truly like a massive family reunion, with love of the genre being what we all have in common. You get to hang with like-minded people for four days, gush over books and authors, dance and drink, have a ton of fun, and create strong friendships that often carry over into real life.

It's fascinating, really, to read this book having attended these conferences and seen, to some extent, the individual behaviors described within. It made me think, too, actually, and remind me that the authors who attend GRL are real people, with real emotions, and while I too have fangirled over certain authors, I try to be mindful of the fact that they are real people with real emotions and real lives outside of writing the books we so enjoy, and thus I try to keep not my distance but be respectful of their personal space. Hugs are great when offered, but not expected.

Moving on.

I did have some niggles, specifically with the proofreading efforts. I can't say whether the author employed someone to proof-read this book, and while there weren't many spelling or punctuation issues, there were many times when Travis became Darren and Darren became Travis. While their voices are distinct, the narrative often mixed up their names, something a good proof-reader or proof-editor should have caught. Each time it happened, I was pulled out of the story, trying to decipher what name should go where.

My other niggle is the characterization of Zach, someone from Travis' past, someone who owes money to Travis, who decides to blackmail him to keep quiet about the ruse, but then blabs anyway. I couldn't understand his motives, to be honest, and it didn't make sense for him to talk to Micah, the aforementioned blogger/assaulter, and expose Travis' secret. What was the point, unless this plot point was needed to make sure that Micah got the scoop he was after?

The book takes a rather unflinching look at what might go on at the conference, and I thought that publishing this might raise some eyebrows with some people. The romance is mostly believable, though there are instances where their actions are a little inconsistent. Darren keeping a massive secret from Travis felt realistic in light of the length of their acquaintance, but Jan knowing about it wasn't explained.

Despite these inconsistencies, I rather enjoyed reading this book. If you've never attended a GRL conference, don't believe everything you read within, as a lot of is is exaggerated, and if you have attended in the past - well, then, you might have a similar reaction as I did.

Author Of The Month - Riley Hart - Week One

Join us today as we kick off our month-long celebrations for the fabulous Riley Hart!!

Book Review: FU: Fixer Uppers by Devon McCormack

FU: Fixer Uppers - Devon McCormack, Daryl Banner

High on sexy times, with complex characters. High on sexy times. Like, HIGH on sexy times, without them becoming repetitive.

I enjoy this author's writing style, even if the men are somewhat unrealistically always ripped, with massive schlongs.

Release Day ARC Review: Breaking Bonds by Ari McKay

Breaking Bonds (Dreamspun Desires Book 35) - Ari McKay

It's no secret that I have loved almost all the books in the Dreamspun Desires series, having read devoured every single one, and this latest by Ari McKay was no exception.

Liam Walker, almost-famous NYC celebrity chef, cousin to Beau (from Striking Sparks), is in a resort/hotel near Asheville, NC, licking his wounds from a bad review he got that prompted him to punch the reviewer, in public, in the face. Served a less than mediocre meal at the resort, Liam doesn't hold back in his disgust with the frozen and clearly not fresh shrimp he's being served, and demands to talk to the manager.

Enter Carter Galloway, owner/manager of the resort, having distanced himself from his overbearing father and mother, barely holding it together, what with bills and old appliances and needing to succeed so he can finally break away completely from his father's demands and expectations.

Sparks fly at first sight. This is also right about the time where the reader needs to suspend all disbelief, as Liam offers his services to Carter to help out in the kitchen and train the young chef currently employed. For free. Because that's what a celebrity chef would do, right?

Whatever, I went with it. Because at that point, I was already invested in the characters and needed to find out what would happen next.

So the sparks are definitely there, but Liam is planning to return to NYC and Carter isn't interested in a fling. Liam cooks and teaches and longs for Carter, and Carter longs and watches and shares pieces of himself with Liam.

I liked both characters, despite Liam's initial arrogance, and I enjoyed how both of them had personal struggles to overcome. The title is apt - both of them have to break free of their bonds to others before they can have their HEA.

It's low steam, which I don't mind at all, but the UST just jumps off the pages, and when they finally, finally get together, it was well-fought for and ever so awesome. Liam at times seems a bit more sophisticated than Carter, but I think that was also part of Carter's charm - he's not a simpleton, for sure, but more laid-back, kind and generous, with a lot of respect and fairness in his heart.

There's a lot of talk about food, naturally, which often made me salivate, and I thought that the food choices worked well for the type of location represented here. This wasn't a hot spot NYC restaurant catering to celebs, but a resort-style place that catered to locals and tourists alike.

I liked quite a bit that Carter seemed to find his backbone in this story, and the courage to stand up to his parents, not allowing them to continue to berate him and demean his choices. He did so a little quicker than Liam, for whom the moment of clarity arrives at a later time, but bolstered by what he might have waiting for him in the mountains of NC. Their romance was believable within the setting of this book and worked well within the tropes employed here.

The requisite villains in this story, in the form of Carter's father and Liam's boss/mentor, were somewhat one-dimensional, but served their purpose. I thought that Marco, Liam's boss, was smarmy, self-serving, and rude, and Carter's father (and mother by extension) was nothing more than a stereotypical homophobic control freak who decided what his son would be and was then belligerent and condescending when his son chooses his own path.

The book utilizes the expected tropes rather well, and I thought it was a perfect addition to this harlequin-like series. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this, and if you like the sweet, fluffy, and easy-read romances, this is definitely a book for you.

Recommended.


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

Author Of The Month - Ari McKay - Grand Finale

Join us again today for our Grand Finale Celebrations for these fantabulous authors!!