...Bookfanatic

 

Happiness is a cup of coffee and a really good book.

"They say there's someone for everyone in Porthkennack"...

Junkyard Heart - Garrett Leigh

‘Junkyard Hearts’ is the 7th book in the multi-authored series, ‘Porthkanneck’ and the second one by Garrett Leigh that I have read and loved. While my readings in this series have been very hit and miss I have to say the fact that each story is able to be read as a standalone is one of the things that I really love about this series.

 

‘Junkyard Hearts’ is about two men finding a second chance, starting over and in the end receiving faith, hope and love as they learn to forgive not just others but themselves.

 

Jasper (Jas) Manning has left the London rat race in an effort to regroup after having his heart broken by the man that he believed he’d be spending forever with. His life takes an unexpected turn for the better when he meets Kim Penrose at a local craft fair.

 

Kim and Jas are drawn to each other instantly…no, it’s not love at first sight…but the lust is strong…need I say more?  However, both Kim and Jas come with their own personal set of luggage.

 

‘Junkyard Hearts’ is about starting over, second chances, finding love, acceptance and hope and while there may be angst no one knows how to do it right like this author. I was all in on this one. It was emotionally gripping and tugged at my heart from start to finish but the icing on the cake with this one is how beautifully written Jas and Kim’s story was touching and I loved how well paced it was. Things moved along steadily and from the very start I was engaged and my attention was held firmly in the story’s grip.

 

While ‘Junkyard Hearts’ is a standalone story those who have read ‘House of Cards’ will recognize a few of the secondary characters from that story, especially Brix and Callum (House of Cards MCs) and the story where we first met Kim. 

 

Individually these men were both a bit broken and dealing with issues. Jas is fresh out of a bad relationship and has spend most of his time buried in his photography or swimming around in the bottom of a bottle. Ironically, Kim has spent the past couple of years fighting his way out of that bottle and dealing with a sense of self esteem that’s sorely lacking.

 

While neither man can truly see his own self worth, they are more than able and willing to see the good in one another so easily. The sex may have come easily (no pun intended) for Jas and Kim but the relationship took a lot more work and I loved how it developed there were times of one step forward and two steps back, the insecurity of wondering if you’re really reading the other person right or seeing what you want or hope to see. It was flawed and felt so real and natural.

 

Both Sam and Jas struggled with substance abuse and I liked that for both of them it was portrayed as a part of who they were but not the entirety of who they were these were two talented men who were multi-faceted in both their strengths and weaknesses.

 

In general, I love Garrett Leigh’s writing and her character portrayal is wonderful. While there may be angst in her stories given how much angst we can find in our own lives for me this only adds to the realism of the story and when it’s done right it gives emphasis to moments that can be crucial or pivotal to a story but never really goes over the top.

 

On a separate and maybe a bit more objective note than that of how much I loved and connected with this story emotionally is my appreciation for how the author dealt with the subject of bisexuality. Both Kim and Jas are bisexual and for me it was important that just because they were both men or the fact that Jas’s ex was male, and Kim’s was female didn’t change this…it felt like the author got it, she understood that bisexuality is a thing and it doesn’t change or go away because of the gender of your partner. In the scheme of things this may seem to be a small or even incidental issue but to me it’s also an excellent example of how details can help to refine and define a story and/or the characters it involves when they’re woven into the story and become a part of it without overwhelming the whole.

 

“Junkyard Hearts” is my 7th read by this author and while I still have a few to go in her backlist I can also honestly say that I am excited and looking forward to finding out stories Ms Leigh will present us with in the future…I do know I’ll be right there and read to read them whatever they might be.

 

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A copy of ‘Junkyard Hearts’ was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

I beg your pardon...I never promised you a rose garden...

Flowers for the Gardener - Sharon Marie Bidwell

‘Flowers for the Gardener’ is a bit of a quandary for me…it should have gone better for me than it did. This is an ‘enemies to lovers, second chance, starting over’ love story so much my thing. Richard (Rich) Gardener has come home following the death of his father to not only attend the funeral but he is to take over management of the family company…a company he really has no interest in, but there’s more…Rich also has to deal with a mother who while grieving the loss of her husband is one of the least sympathetic literary characters that I’ve encountered in quite a while. ‘Ruby’ is cold hearted, pretentious, scheming, manipulative, a snob…I could go on but I’m going to stop there. My point is I should have been able to find some small modicum of sympathy for this character…I mean we’re talking about a woman who’s lost her husband a husband whom she supposedly loved and sorry, folks but I’ve got nothing where Ruby’s concerned I’m pretty much a cold-hearted b*tch. I mean this woman seriously irritated me.

 

Among the other characters introduced in this story there was Rich’s sister, Sapphire, who was for me a definite bright spot in this story. Rosamund (Rosie) a long-time employee of the Gardener family and Christopher Talbot who proved to be an invaluable advisor for Rich in regard to the family’s marketing firm and last but not least we have Ethan Fields. Rich’s childhood nemesis and current love interest.

 

I was, to say the least, surprised that this story just didn’t seem to be working for me…so much so that part way through I decided to set it aside and read something else in the hopes that when I went back to it things would fall into place for me and I’d find myself enjoying the story a lot more…sadly this was not to be. I was determined to finish reading this story with the objective of at best enjoying it and at the very least understanding why things weren’t working for me.

 

So, at the end of it all for me it comes down to the fact that while this is a well written story that I found to be easily readable does not automatically make for a story that’s relatable and my ability to relate to either of the MCs in this story was tenuous at best.

Rich came from a very well to do British family where money was not an issue.

 

Unfortunately, neither was having a close and loving family. While Rich somehow managed to develop a semblance of a relationship with his sister it was definitely a work in progress, but I liked that it was something that both Sapphire and Rich seemed to want to work at. Making the interactions between Rich and his sister one of my favorite parts of the story.

 

Meanwhile from a purely socio-economic perspective while I was more able to relate to Ethan than Rich, there were still times that Ethan just felt too embittered by the fact that he wasn’t born into a rich family, however, as the story progresses we do find out the how and why of Ethan’s feelings which helped to give perspective to them, but for me this information came a bit to late to fully mitigate my initial reaction to Ethan’s feelings.

Now, the part that held the biggest quandary for me was Rich and Ethan’s relationship. I have to admit I’ve been pondering this for a few days now and what I keep coming back to is that for me the transition from what seems to have been an angry sex relationship where Rich and Ethan claimed that they were just together to fulfill a mutual physical relationship to admitting that they had feelings for each other simply took too long. I didn’t want it to be a blink and you missed it transition but I just felt like it took to long for each man to acknowledge his feelings for the other.

 

In hindsight I just feel like the timing for this one was off and that to me isn’t a reflection of the author or their skill but my personal preference of the moment. Things just felt like they were happening too soon or more often too late in the story for me and I can honestly say that I know from past experience that what worked or didn’t work this time may have a completely different impact with me another time. So while this one didn’t quite connect with me. I have no doubt that I will be reading this author again in future because whether this story worked for me or not I still enjoyed the author’s writing style and look forward to reading her other works.

 

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An ARC of 'Flowers for the Gardener' was graciously provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Why I adore Rhys Ford even though she made me cry...

Sin and Tonic (Sinners #6) - Rhys Ford

Actually, it's more like 'Why I freakin' adore this author' even though she's bringing one of my absolute favorite series to a close and she made me cry.

 

Now before I begin let me just say I am going to ramble and probably go on a bit more than necessary here but seriously can you blame me this is one of my absolute favorite series...I adore the characters of 'Sinners' and yes, i have to say characters because this isn't just about the men. It's about all of the characters who have graced the pages of these stories and some of them aren't necessarily from the 'Sinners' series or even from a Rhys Ford series at all and that's part of what's made this all such a wonderful adventure. 

 

I wish I could say that I'm sorry to see this series end...ok, I can say this, but I can also say that I love that Ms Ford is taking these boys out on a high note. I would rather see an author end a series with me wanting more than with me thinking "Oh please lord can this be done now." you see I'm one of those people who has to finish what they start and it may take me some time to get around to it but eventually I do my absolute best to cycle around to a series and catch up or finish reading the books and to me if I'm left feeling like I want more but knowing that things are complete well than that's a job well done.

 

I admit I'm hoping that we'll get a peek here and there at some of the characters from this series maybe in another of Ms Ford's stories or who knows maybe someone will pop up in a Mary Calmes series who knows who will run into who with these authors and who wants to the fun is in the surprise.

 

But that's enough postulating about what might be for now, let's talk about what is or was...'Sin and Tonic' is the last story in the 'Sinners' series and for me it was one hella' good roller coaster ride. There was so much that I loved about this book. We got bits and pieces of everyone Rafe and Quinn, Forest and Conner, Damien and Sionn, Brigid and Donal and of course Miki and Kane.

 

This one's due out in 5 days, Sinners fans and it's going to be worth the wait. I laughed and cried and sometimes I was laughing and crying simultaneously because I just wasn't sure which I wanted to do more. 

 

Like I said back at the beginning I love all the characters of Sinners and while Quinn and Rafe are probably my favorites even I have to admit no one deserves happiness more than Miki St. John. He's been through hell and back and he more than deserves it...he's damned well earned it and he's earned a world of love...

 

from Dude the dog...

"I'm sure the dog cares, just in his own way," she said with a laugh.

 

to Edie, their manager...

"Now do you understand why you need me?" She'd said to the shocked band members. "You just lost an argument with the person who is willing to go to the mat for you. Imagine how far you'll get when you go head-to-head with somebody who wants to bleed you dry?..."

 

to Donal...

"Then maybe what ye need to hear from me is that no matter who comes into your life, I will not let them hurt ye, and I will always be there when ye call out for your da."

 

to Brigid...

...So this time, when a pair of red stilettos beat on the floor like the drums of war, they were summoning the heavens to come protect him--a son she found rather than a son she'd borne.

 

and everyone in between but ultimately there is Kane...

"...You mean more to me than my badge and the dead. I love you. And if I have to, I would give up everything I've become--everything I've accomplished--just to hold you if you need me."

 

So yes, I laughed I cried my heart ached for all that was but ultimately in the end I was replete with the answers to so many questions and the knowledge that not only had Miki gone through hell but he'd come out the other side stronger and surrounded by love. Most of all I loved that while this is the ending for this series for Miki, Kane and the rest of Crossroads Gin and their partners it's just another bend in the road.

 

I know I'll be revisiting this series and I'm already looking forward to it especially on audio. I very unashamedly admit more than anything I want this one on audio and I've got my fingers crossed that like the rest of them Tristan James will be the narrator who  once again brings these characters to life for me.

 

It's been a hella' good ride with this series and I really can't think of anything more to say other than if you haven't read it check it out because you really don't want to read this one without having read the previous books and if you have I can't imagine that you won't love this final installment in the 'Sinners' series.

 

Thank you, Ms. Ford for writing what has  become one of my absolute favorite series...EVER!!!

 

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An ARC of 'Sin and Tonic' was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Who doesn't know the words to at least one song by Stevie Wonder...

Life is a Stevie Wonder Song - V.L. Locey

While I'm still not a big fan of stories where there's an age gap between the MCs and by age gap I mean 10 years or more. I really enjoyed this one. 

 

Stephen Ramsey is a successful 45 year old writer who's lost his muse. He's been married 3 times and has a college aged daughter who thinks he needs to try something different and wants him to go to a retreat for the summer...not having any better ideas he decides to give it a try and heads off for basically the middle of nowhere to find his muse and commune with nature. What he finds is 22 year old Declan Pomeroy a photography student who piques his interest and has him totally enchanted.

 

While I haven't read a lot of stories by this author I have to admit this one had a slightly different tone to the writing and I enjoyed it. At times it felt a little rambly and disjointed but at times life can be a bit rambly (yes, rambly's a word...ok, maybe i just made it one but hey how do you think all these other words came to be?) and disjointed so really why can't stories reflect that aspect of the real world if it works and in this case for this reader it worked.

 

There's a 22 year age gap between these two men and I have admit for me that's stretching things...I mean seriously we've gone from "who's your daddy?" to "I could be your father...literally I could be your father" and sometimes that's a little more than I'm comfortable with but there were certain things that really helped to offset this for me taking it from a story that could have been 'eewwww and creepy' to a story that was sweet and I enjoyed. So let's see if I can explain what went right for me...

 

1st is the fact that it was Declan who basically did the pursuing. Which for me can make a huge difference. It made this a story about 2 men who were interested in each other exploring a relationship and it offset the imbalance of power that I often feel when it's the older man who does the pursuing. Especially when the older man is established in his career and has the amount of relationship experience that Stephen has.

 

2nd I liked that Declan didn't loose sight of his goals and what he wanted out of life for himself when it came to a career. While Declan may not have totally had his life together neither was he anyone's pushover who was going to become some mindless little neophyte. If anything in some ways I felt like Declan was what some people would call an 'old soul'. But only in some ways in other ways he had a certain sweetness and innocence about him. 

 

3rd I enjoyed the interactions between these two. In general this pairing worked for me both in and out of the bedroom. I realize that Stephen suddenly realizing he's bisexual at the age of 45 may seem like a stretch or even a bit preposterous to some but honestly I had a dear friend who was in their 50s when had the same realization so for me it didn't seem so unlikely of an event.

 

4th I really liked the way the author wove music into this story. I think a lot of us could probably create our own 'life play list' without a lot of effort and I know for me a number of the songs in this book would be on my playlist so I think in hindsight that my connection to this story started with the music...

 

I haven't done this in a while but this story basically begged for it and I found that at the end of it all for Stephen and Declan it was a Stevie Wonder song...'Overjoyed'...

And though you don't believe that they do
They do come true

For did my dreams
Come true when I looked at you
And maybe too, if you would believe
You too might be
Overjoyed, over love, over me

This one was short, sweet and fun to read. So if you're in the mood for something that's not complicated but definitely enjoyable then load up your Stevie Wonder playlist and curly up for an hour or two of light entertainment with 'Life is a Stevie Wonder Song'.

 

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An ARC of "Life is a Stevie Wonder Song' was graciously provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Is it really possible for a closet to be too big?

Orderly Affair - D.J.  Jamison

Well yes, if you’re a hospital orderly named Ian Connolly who’s divorced, with a teenaged son and who is just starting to question his sexuality…at times that closet can seem huge and the doors may feel like they’re stuck shut.


But if you’re a lab tech named Callum Price…those closet doors have never really been closed and the only time you’re really in there is when you need to get clothes for work…or maybe explore an unexpected attraction with a not so straight orderly who pushes all of your buttons in the best way possible.


Ian’s been married since he was in his teens and never really had a chance to explore his bisexuality but now that he’s single again he’s determined to rectify that situation and explore his long ignored attraction to men.


Neither Ian nor Callum expected to connect with someone they knew when they start a conversation on a hook-up app. But that’s exactly what happens and both men realize from their first encounter that their attraction is off the charts…we’re not talking love at first sight here folks…nope this is most definitely lust at first sight and I’m good with that…I mean really who among us hasn’t seen someone that their first reaction to hasn’t been ‘Oh hell yeah! I’d do that.’ see…lust at first sight.


It’s as Ian and Callum’s encounters continue that they begin to get to know each other, enjoy each other and seek out the other’s company, care about the others dreams, hopes and aspirations, become supportive, turn to each other. In other words what starts as lust begins to become something more…deeper…love.


Callum and Ian are two very different people each having their own issues, concerns and problems to deal with.


Ian has a son and a family that doesn’t know he’s bisexual and that he fears may not be very accepting. He’s close to his family and doesn’t want to lose them but as things between him and Callum progress he also realizes that if he’s going to have the man who’s fast becoming a central part of his life, he’s going to have to step out of that closet that he’s been hiding in for so many years.


Callum’s gotten himself buried in responsibilities and a lot of them are of his own making. Somewhere along the way Callum’s forgotten how to stand up for himself and between a mother who doesn’t seem to appreciate her son and how hard he’s trying to take care of not just her but himself and Doug, his leach of an ex-boyfriend who doesn’t seem to understand that when the relationship’s over it’s time to move on, Callum’s burning the candle at both ends.


I loved how this story unfolded and how Callum and Ian developed a genuine friendship as well as their romantic relationship. Once again, we were given a couple that I had no problem imagining and could easily visualize not just them but their relationship as it played out.


Add in some of my catnip (insert characters from previous stories here) and you’ve me hooked. I loved this one and I’m pretty sure that I’d have to say it’s become my favorite one so far. There was a bit of everything for me there was drama, angst, even a bit of a romantic thriller, definitely sexy times and humor and everything flowed together to create a fun and interesting story that flowed easily and gives a very satisfying HFN that’s border on and tipping towards the HEA that these two men so deserve.


I’m hoping that we haven’t seen the end of this series, I have to admit I’m not sure who could come next but I’m certainly willing to hang around and see.


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An ARC of Orderly Affair was graciously provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

YOLO!!!! Definitely an acronym to live by…

Surprise Delivery  - D.J.  Jamison

‘Surprise Delivery’ is the 5th book in DJ Jamison’s series ‘Hearts and Health’ and for me each story has gotten better as the series progresses. In ‘Surprise Delivery’ we get to spend more time with Dr. Casper Rollins whom we met in ‘Room For Recovery’ and Medical Director. Eric Holtz who first appeared in ‘Bedside Manner’ as best friend to one of the MCs.

 

Casper lives life to the fullest…taking risk, going on exotic vacations, seeking thrills and adventure where ever he can find them. It’s his way of honoring and celebrating the love of his live, Kage Myers. A man who lived life full on never turning away from the next challenge or adventure that it held for him…after all ‘You Only Live Once’.  The man who Casper gave his heart to and had planned to spend his life with until he was taken from him too young and too soon. Casper’s closed his heart off to any kind of romantic involvement but he’d sure love to show the hospital’s work-a-holic Medical Director how to relax and enjoy himself.

 

Eric’s always been a workaholic and with his husband leaving him and nothing but a big empty house to go home to he really doesn’t see the need to change that…at least not until Olivia (Livvie), his teenaged, pregnant niece knocks on his door in need of a place to stay and some supportive family. Something that for both Eric and Livvie is very much lacking in their lives. Eric’s missed having family so while he and his niece don’t really know each other he’s willing to give her a home and the supportive family that she desperately needs but what he doesn’t count on is the fact that helping his niece could just be what’s needed by two men who are drawn to each other but have shut themselves off from love and romance.

 

I liked both characters when we met them in earlier stories from this series so getting to see them both as their romance developed was certainly no hardship for me. There was a lot about this book that worked for me first off Casper and Eric…to me this was a perfect pairing. While they were just different enough to keep things interesting, they weren’t so different that I was left wondering what the attraction was. I was also a big fan Livvie. I liked the way the author portrayed this young lady. She was human, she made a mistake, but she was also willing to own up to what she’d done and she wanted to have a say in how she fixed things, so to speak. This worked for me because one of the things that I’ve always believed is that we all make mistakes, it’s how we take responsibility for what we’ve done and how we handle the fall out from that mistake that shows the true measure of a person’s character and Livvie showed that she was definitely someone worth knowing and going to bat for…so points to Eric for his part in helping her.

 

I also really liked Casper’s family. They loved him and while they also loved Kage that didn’t mean they wanted Casper to bury himself beside him…neither literally nor figuratively. Also, we were once again treated to a peek at couples from previous stories in this series. Something that’s catnip for me. The romantic in me just loves it when an author weaves in characters and events from previous stories adding to the depth of the story and to my emotional involvement in things.

 

While there was some angst and drama in this one for me it was just enough to keep the story interesting and engaging but not take it over the top. However, while I did enjoy the romance between Eric and Casper there were a few moments for me that were just a bit too sugary sweet and I would have enjoyed them a bit more had they been less so, but this is definitely a matter of personal taste and something that needs to be decided by the individual.

 

Overall, I really enjoyed this one, the ending was good and worked for me and the epilogue was a nice touch showing a very solid HFN for this couple with a definite lead in to a much deserved HEA and the next book in this series.

 

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A copy of Surprise Delivery was graciously provided by the author in exchange for an honest review

More mysterious goings on in the town of Ashville…

Forged In Fire -  Ari McKay

You may remember or not…it doesn’t really matter that my first encounter with the residents of Ashville was via audio book and I loved it so much that when the second book came out I didn’t want to wait for the audio book…you see, this book is about Whimsy!!!!!! That’s right if you saw my review for the first book in this series or possibly anyone else’s for that matter, they may have made mention of Whimsy Hickes…Arden’s best friend and lover to him and the vampire Julian but that all ended when Ander found his mate in the alpha werewolf, Eli Hammond and now we have Whimsy feeling somewhat adrift about his romantic life as Arden is with Eli and Julian…well…Julian seems to have buried himself in some research and left sweet, adorable Whimsy feeling someone alone and adrift.

 

Thankfully not only is Arden, Whimsy’s best friend, he’s also not the type to leave things alone and he’s sure that he has just the cure for Whimsy in the form of one Harlan Edgewood a lycanthrope…which in the world or Asheville Arcana is a werewolf that was created when they are bitten by another werewolf rather than being born as one and of course the werewolf that bit Harlan was cursed…some people have all the luck…it seems that Harlan’s not one of them.

 

In the first book as well as Arden and Eli’s romance we had a bit of a paranormal mystery happening and while things seemed to be resolved for the most part in ‘Forged In Fire’ we find out that things aren’t always what they seem to be and the events from ‘Out of the Ashes’ weren’t an ending but a beginning and there’s more to come, that’s right there’s a big ole cliffy here folks and I’m sitting at the edge looking over and wondering… what in the name of all that’s unholy is going to happen next?

 

As Whimsy and Harlan get to know each other we also get to learn more about the mystery that began in ‘Out of the Ashes’ as well the progress that’s made in the battle against the demons and possessed werewolves and maybe a bear shifter or two, but things aren’t finished with this mystery yet and we’ll need at least book #3 to find out what’s going to happen so let’s go back to Whimsy and Harlan because…so cute and adorable…these two are totally delightful.

 

Harlan’s a 300-year virgin? I know? Who knew these even existed? But sadly, I must tell you, I think Harlan might be the only one and he’s totally besotted with Whimsy…guaranteed no one else has a chance and yes, I know ‘besotted’ is such an old-fashioned word well trust me, Harlan is such an old-fashioned guy.

 

Now as for Whimsy it seems that Arden’s not the only one who got more than his share of nurturing instincts. While Arden thought that Whimsy with his mage powers…and folks these are serious kick-ass mage powers that Whimsy has going on here…as in if you value your life don’t mess with his friends and unless you want a one way ticket to…well, sorry you’ll have to read the book to find out where that ticket takes you…just suffice it to say do not mess with Whimsy’s man because you will not like what happens next.

 

I found Whimsy and Harlan to be a totally delightful pairing…Whimsy with his nurturing and caring ways making him seem so deceptively harmless and Harlan while he seems strong and fiercely independent it turns out that he’s also filled with his own insecurities and a strong desire to have someone to love and to be loved. Not to mention that these two may not have rushed into the bedroom but when they get there things are hot…very, very hot!!!

 

At the end of it all we’re left with a happily mated Elf and his werewolf from ‘Out of the Ashes’ and a newly mated mage and his lycanthrope from this story and one lonely vampire who thinks that no one sees how lonely he is but Arden and Whimsy see and I’m curious to see how far they’ll go in their efforts to see Julian as happy as they are because as stand-offish as he tries to be Julian is their friend and they’re not prepared to abandon him just because they’ve each found their own happily ever after…that’s just not what friends do for friends.

 

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An ARC of “Forged in Fire” was graciously provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

There's a first time for everything...

Owned by the Sea - L.M. Somerton

"Owned by the Sea" is my first time reading this author and overall, I really liked the story that I was given, I loved the setting...a small fishing village on the English coast, I liked both of the MCs...Jonty and Jed worked as a couple for me and then there was Marmite...what an awesome dog.

 

Ok, I have to do a little bit of a rant about this dog. If you've never seen a Newfoundland dog seriously google is your friend. These dogs are huge...we're talking BIG!!! and beautiful and of course as pups they're adorable because let's face it have you ever seen an ugly puppy? Anyways, I loved Marmite he was just a really cool dog and an awesome addition to this story and yes, I might be a little partial to these gentle giants because like me they are Canadian...hence the dogs breed name of 'Newfoundland'...they're named for where they originated. Ok, that's my little tribute to Marmite and there was another dog that came along later in the story, but you'll have to read the book to find out about this cutie.

 

After being rescued from the sea the only survivor of the storm that took the lives of his parents and sister, Jonty remains at his families home on the edge of the village hiding from the world...it's been nearly a year since the storm that shattered Jonty's world and after a year living with survivor's guilt in a self imposed exile and painting the sea in a form of penance for having lived Jonty realizes that what he wants is to do something to honor his family and to figure out how to live again.

 

Jed's been attracted to Jonty since he first laid eyes on him but when you're pulling an unconscious man from the water during a storm that's neither the time to think or act on said attractions. So, Jed's kept his distance not wanting to be a reminder of what was unquestionably the worst day in Jonty's life. But when Jonty comes up with the idea of an art auction as a way to honor his parents and thank the lifeboat team that saved him, Jed's no longer able to keep his distance and agrees to work with Jonty.

 

So far it's all good right? I mean seriously I was loving this and I was feeling the connection between Jed and Jonty as it began to form. Unfortunately things went from getting to know you to 'getting to know you' way to fast for me and I got a little more lost when Jed first introduced the idea of a BDSM relationship to Jonty and my impression was that while Jonty may have been familiar with this idea it wasn't a life style that he'd ever actually taken part in and even though Jed's put forth as a Dom for me at best these two men were playing at a D/s relationship but not actually having one. I'll be the first to admit I'm not an expert on this lifestyle and I'm simply explaining the impression that I was left with and truthfully, I didn't have a problem with whether or not this was an actual BDSM relationship or two men 'playing at it'. It really doesn't matter to me but what I found really distracting was how quickly things progressed for me it just didn't feel right and yet...now here's where we get to the part that's a real first for me...

 

I've read stories where even though I can see a couple as a pair, I just don't feel the connection or where I just can't see it at all...it just doesn't work for me but I can honestly say that I can't think of one story that I've read where I get the connection and I can feel it, I like the pairing and they work for me as a couple except...well, except for when the sex comes into it and that's what's happening here. When Jonty and Jed are interacting together I get it I see them and really like them as a couple and the minute the clothes come off...I get a disconnect and I honestly think it's just that I need this to happen a little slower...I can't say for sure but that's what makes sense for me so I'm going with that.

 

Anyways aside from this little detail I found this story to be very enjoyable and while I'm not opposed to sexy times in my stories this turned out to be one of those times when less for me would have been more...less sex...more stars...who knew this could be a thing.

 

L.M. Somerton is an author that I've been wanting to read for some time now and I might have a few titles written by this author waiting on my TBR list and one thing that I've learned over the years is that more often than not one book for me does not an author make. I got a story from this book that held my interest and I enjoyed, I got to spend time on the English coast in a small fishing village with characters and a couple of adorable dogs that I really liked.

 

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An ARC of “Owned by the Sea” was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

First off let me just say...

Infamous - Jenny Holiday, Michael Fell

"THIS ONE TAKES PLACE IN CANADA!!!!!!!" and I didn't even realize this until I got listening to the story...yeah, I know it says 'Toronto' in the blurb but I admit it, I skimmed the blurb and listened to the audible sample and then said 'yes please'  I'm not even sure why because on of the MCs is a rock star...not my favorite. I have one series that I love with rock stars in it...just one...that's it and I read a lot so I think that speaks to how much I like rock stars...usually.

 

'Infamous' is the second book in Jenny Holiday's 'Famous' series and while I'm pretty sure that one of the MCs from book one is connected to Jess Jamison, I truly did not feel lost or like I was missing something at any time while I was listening to this story. 

 

When Jess boards the train...yes that's right, the train...hey, don't laugh those train tickets aren't cheap...anyways, Jess's goal is to get on the train and have a quiet ride home...well, it was until he spots the very handsome, young silver fox sitting alone and before his brain can censure his mouth he strikes up a conversation in which he discovers that his seat mate's name is Hunter Wyatt and he's a Pediatrician who works as a hospitalist (in plain speak he's a doctor who works strictly out of the hospital managing patient care for children who are critically ill...that's right children, Wyatt's a doctor at Toronto's Sick Kids Hospital and yes, it's really a place. They do a lot of amazing work there. Meanwhile Wyatt discovers that Jess is an up and coming...hopeful, wanna' be rock star. Plus before their train arrives at Union Station in Toronto they also discover they have one other thing in common they're both getting out of relationships that didn't work...

 

Wyatt when he realized that his 'roommate' of 10 years was never going to step out of the closet and make him more than a dirty little secret and Jess while they're on the train to Toronto and his current girlfriend sees the picture of Jess playing tonsil hockey with someone who's not only not her but not 'a' her at all. A few hours and several small bottles of wine later. Jess and Wyatt exchange contact information promising to stay in touch and move on...fast forward...

 

two years and Karma brings Jess and Wyatt back together and a friendship is born.

 

So that's the gist of things and really it's only the barest of outlines. Now where do I start in explaining how much I enjoyed this story...well first off let's start with how much I loved the interaction between Jess and Hunter...this one's slow folks, I mean seriously these two men are not rushing to dive under the covers...they're friends. Jess has had his wake-up call...remember the train ride? Yeah, his band was riding the rails and the new management flat out told him...NO MEN! Jess is bi so no problem right...no problem except for a certain young silver fox...but, Wyatt's not a problem he's had his fill of straight guys...so as far as he's concerned Jess is friendship material and that's it because there's no way in hell that anyone's putting Wyatt back in the closet again. No matter how much of a sexy, tattooed, bad-ass rocker they are or seem to be just because they're hiding a kind and gentle heart that's willing to visit a kid with a bad heart and teach her how to play guitar and help her and some other sick kids have their own rock band...or MC a charity fundraiser and then donate $200,000 to said charity and if you want to know how this happened you really need to read the story because...'Oh my god!!! So freakin' sweet.' and that's all I'm saying about that. 

 

Now, just to tease a little more we have the ending...and can I just say the ending on this one was "so freakin' melt my heart good". Yeah, it was a little bit over the top but in all the right ways and don't get me started on the secondary characters...like Jess's band and his sister and his nephew and Avery...the kid in the hospital...seriously they're all so awesome...You know, I really want to go listen to this one, again...oh and I almost forgot this one was narrated by Michael Fell. While Michael Fell isn't exactly a new to me narrator, this is my third audio book narrated by him and he's done a solid job on every one of them...this one had kids in it and if you know me you know how well I do with kids in audio books and folks I have to say Mr. Fell must have done ok because my ears didn't bleed, I wasn't running for the brain bleach, I didn't want to hurl my tablet (yeah, that's right Karen's got a new toy) and nope, no bad experiences so let's chalk up an extra point for this one because kid's voices and me are usually a really bad...like bad as in this book just got tanked and as you can tell by the 4.5 stars that didn't happen here. 

 

So hopefully there will be more from Jess and his band because truthfully, I'm dying to know if Bobby finally gets those bedbugs that he keeps obsessing about.

 

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An audio book of 'Infamous' was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Once upon a time, in a land far, far away there was...

Asylum - Robert Winter

No this isn't a fairy tale and while it is a work of fiction sadly and I say sadly with all sincerity it is based on real life events...things that never should have happened, did.

 

In writing this story the author has accomplished a few things...one he's told us a story that for the most part is interesting, entertaining and a testament to the strength of the human soul and it's ability to endure.

 

Hernan is a young man born and raised  in El Salvador until he comes under the scrutiny of a gang known as 'Cuernos del Diablo (Horns of the Devil) for being gay. Hernan has struggled with this all his life knowing that he dare not tell a soul about himself...being gay and living in El Salvador is not good for a person's continued existence. Unfortunately Cuernos del Diablo doesn't really ask if a person's gay they just decided. After being stabbed by members of Cuernos, Hernan is forced to flee his homeland. With only his Tio Juan (Uncle) to help him Hernan undergoes a journey that no one should have to experience.

 

Finally arriving in America, Hernan begins life as an illegal immigrant fearing only the long arm of Cuernos but that of ICE (Immigration & Customs Enforcement). If he's caught it means being departed back to El Salvador where he's sure he'll meet with certain death. 

 

Hernan doesn't trust people and truthfully I wouldn't if I was him either. What he doesn't count on is meeting a man who's honorable and simply wants to help him.  Colin Felton knows that he's lived a blessed life. He's been raised amidst a level of privilege that few can truly lay claim to. He also tries to keep this little fact about himself from becoming public knowledge.  He just wants to do his job and live a quiet life...maybe, meet someone he can share that live with one day and one day is coming sooner than he realizes when he goes for a walk in P-town following the wedding of his best friend Brandon to his fiance David. It was fun seeing the men from September again...well, except not so much with Gerald and Ethan...I really can't say I've missed these two, but we did decide that they'd be a really good couple, however, I'll pass on that story thank you very much. 

 

It takes more than a little effort on Colin's part to convince Hernan that not only can Colin help him, but Hernan can also trust him. 

 

This one started out really good and we were loving it...yes, I say we, not the royal we or even the 'hey, she's got a few screws loose we', no by we I mean my Buddy Read Besties...Josy, Simone and Christelle...the awesome ladies who continue to go on book adventures with me and we had not one...not two...but three stalkers... I mean cheerleaders...yes, cheerleaders...no actually they were awesome friends who stopped by from time to time to visit. A big thank you to Anne, Shile and Ariana your insight and shared thoughts only made things that much more enjoyable.

 

So for most of this story I was looking at 4 stars not a problem...sure there were a couple of things that maybe felt a little problematic for me but over all I liked what the author was doing here. You see Hernan's experience is based on the real life experiences of two young men who have lived through circumstances similar to what happens to Hernan and these are stories that need to be told...if for no other reason than to remind those of us who are luck enough to live in countries where not only can we speak our mind but we can be who we are...we can be gay, straight, bi, trans...we can be a rainbow and we can celebrate that rainbow. 

 

I think I got a little further along in the story before things started to tank for me but sadly they did. One of my biggest niggles was Colin...or more accurately his money...all the money...for me it felt like he started out rich and...well, I believe what I said to my friends was I know he's a trust fund  baby but it feels like he started with 'money' and then he had 'Money' and suddenly it was Colin has 'MONEY!!!' and yes, I know Colin didn't want people to know how rich he was, I get that but nope, sorry I just can't reconcile this with how it all came out and more importantly that his best friend seemed to be more concerned that Colin kept this from him than with the fact that his best friend was possibly in a great deal of danger, but hey, even though it didn't feel quite right, it still didn't spoil the story for me.  It takes a lot to really spoil a story for me...I mean full out make me feel like I want those hours of my life that I lost reading that story back spoil and that wasn't happening. 

 

I know a couple of my friends were bothered by a life changing event that happened to Hernan and/or how it played out at a point where he should have been feeling safe, feeling like things were finally going to get better and while I agree that it was unfortunate I think we all agree that it was almost inevitable...sadly, the writing was on the wall for this to occur.

 

Now, here's the part that took me from 4 stars to well...a rather shaky 3.5...please bare with me on this. I'm going to ramble a bit. I love a good HEA as much as the next person...hell, there are times that I live for them, but and this is a big but for me...I really, really need to feel that HEA, it has to be believable and real. I want to feel it in my heart. I want happy tears, I want to be able to sob and think 'Oh thank heavens. Hernan got to be happy, he found that person who deserved his love and whose love he deserved. They fit, they work in a way that is real. Sadly that wasn't how I was feeling by the end of this...somewhere along the line my happy ending turned into a cookie cutter Disney romance where Prince Charming...played by Colin Felton rode to the rescue of the Princess (in this case another Prince named Hernan) and his fairy godmother (Colin's father) waved his magic wand (got out his 'black' credit card...because black is the color that says "I am rich beyond your wildest dreams bitches!) and fixed everything...well everything except for the fact that while I was willing to overlook  a lot of the niggles in this book that weren't feeling quite right for me because there was a bigger picture story that needed to be told and it was real and at times brutal and gut wrenching and for so many people too many people it's so very real because somewhere in there were words that resonated with them...suddenly it just all turned into a fairy tale. I'm sure if most of us think about it we'll realize that we've known more than one immigrant in our lives and I have to say the ones that I've known have been incredibly strong and amazing people... 

 

Men and women who were doctors, nurses, lawyers, teachers and held other well educated and high paying professional positions in their homeland and now...well now they get to drive cabs and work as home support workers, waiters, generally as unskilled labor and even then there's still some kind of course or training that they need to take, so yes, while much of Hernan's story felt real and brought out my protective instincts and had me sitting on the edge of my seat and praying...praying that his ordeal would end soon. that he'd be ok, he'd get his happily ever after. When it came to the ending where he got his prince and they rode off into the sunset in their golden carriage on behalf of the immigrants that I've had the privilege to know both legal and illegal...I have to say I'm sorry but I can no longer suspend my disbelief. 

 

Maybe, this was someone's happy ending but somehow on top of all the other amazing things that happened to Hernan...and yes, I realize he also endured a great deal of tragedy...the ending for me rather than being enough...was just too much and maybe that's the cynic in me having a bad day...I know, let's call it that and move on because at the end of it all this was a story worth telling and mostly, worth reading.

 

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An ARC of 'Asylum' was graciously provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

There are so many reasons why we love the books we love...

Second Chance - Jay Northcote

and one of the biggest reasons that I loved this one is right there in the title...'Second Chance'...we all want them...need them and mostly we deserve them and this book is about just that second chances...so many second chances for so many people.

 

First there's Nate and Jack. Childhood friends who are reunited after years of separation and change. Both men have had so many changes in their lives and now here they are at the age of 45...that's right folks, our MCs are not young men. They're mature men...men who have been through a lot, they've been through good and bad and now they've come home to the place where they both started their lives and their friendship. A place that's filled with memories for them both...good and bad memories.

 

Jack's trying to get his life together after a bad break-up that sent him into a serious downward spiral...depression and addiction are his constant companions and Jack really wants to change that and it's going to take time and the help of his parents to get past everything and rebuild his life.

 

Nate's come home to help his mom following the death of his father and to get his daughter away from life in a larger city and temptations that seemed to be around every corner waiting to lead a young person astray. It's been years since Nate's lived in the small village...the place where people knew him as 'Nat or Natalie'...Nate's transgender and he's not use to living in a place where this is common knowledge.

 

In among the backdrop of the main story which is about Jack and Nate's second chance to return to the friendship that they shared years ago but maybe to have even more...something that Nate has secretly wanted since their school days.  We have Nate's daughter, Cass. Who's given a second chance to get her life on track after having run off the rails when they were in the city. We have Nate's mom, who's getting a second chance to have a relationship not just with her Granddaughter but her son and while things were never bad between them...they weren't nearly as good as they could have been and this is her chance to change that...to fix it and there's Jack's parents who also need that second chance to try and get things right with their son. 

 

Now don't misunderstand me while these are some of the second chances that happen in this story and there's at least one more but I'm not going into that one. It doesn't mean that they all happen or that things are perfect. Each second chance has its own solution and degree of positive outcome and that's part of what made this story work so well for me.

 

What I loved even more than the fact that this is a wonderful second chance story not just for Nate and Jack but for some many other people in it...is the fact that one of the second chances that it's about is Nate. Not just Nate's second chance with Jack but it's about his second chance to live life as the real Nate...Nate the man and not Natalie the woman the person that everyone else mistakenly thinks he is.

 

'Second Chance' is a story about love, second chances and it's told from a realistic perspective it's not about over the top magical solutions. It's two men dealing with what life has thrown their way one gay and the other gay and transgender and they're real. They're living with their parents because that's where life has taken them, reuniting as two people who were once friends and want to revive that friendship but in the process what they realize is that they both want more than their friendship...they want a chance at a life together. Sure they have misunderstanding but then they do what grown-ups do...they talk about it. But more than this is the perspective we are given into the more intimate times between these two men. It's real and there's passion and humor, awkward moments, interruptions and even a moment or two of frustration...ohmygod!!! It's like real life!

 

While every story is unique, each of us can often see bits and pieces of our story or that of some one we know in the story of others. It's often that commonality that draws us in and lets us relate to what we're reading. For me 'Second Chance' held tiny little pieces of a story that while it's not mine, is one that I'm almost as familiar with as my own and it was those small pieces that connected me to this story and kept me engaged and wanting to read it all.  This one's definitely going on my favorites shelf...well done Mr. Northcote...very well done indeed! Thank you.

 

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An ARC of 'Second Chance' was graciously provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

And they all lived happily ever after...sorta'...

Until You - T.J. Klune

This one was perfect...perfectly hilarious at times, perfectly adorable and just perfectly wonderful to listen to.

 

Paul and Vince are getting ready for the big day and all their friends and family are on board to help...even the parrot Johnny Depp. I've loved listening to this series and I know I'll be going back for a replay...this series is definitely going on my 'Comfort Food' list.

The Queen & the Homo Jock King  - T.J. Klune, Michael Lesley

I finished this one a few days ago and as much as I'd love to just review the hell out of it. Time is not my friend at the moment. So I'm going to have to suffice it to say that I loved this book...seriously I need to laugh and rant and just enjoy the hell outta' something right now and this was the perfect time for this one. It's awesome with it's over the top Sandy drama. #SandyRules4EVAH!!! 

Ok, the end. I gotta' go do the things and hopefully the next time I get to listen to it I'll have the opportunity to do some kind of review that explains how amazing I think the writing of TJ Klune is, ok? Have a good one and if you need a laugh...seriously check this out but for even more fun start with 22722642 then this one and you can probably finish with 35060337  that's what I've done...or at least I'm going to because...Josy told me I needed to and Josy never steers me wrong. Ok, really, now I've gotta' go there's packing to be done...fml!

This isn't a love story...but it is a story about love...

Crocus - Amy Lane

First off...if you haven't read 'Bonfires' you need to scoot off and do that because reading this book without that one is like going to a movie and not having popcorn...you can do it, but it's going to feel like something's missing and honestly, it's just not going to be as much fun.

 

Ok, so you've been warned this is one of those times when book #2 needs to follow book #1.  In the first book we got to meet Deputy Aaron George and Principal Larkin (a,k.a. Larx)  and see them do their adorable mating dance and cheer for them as they figured out how to make their lives mesh...kids and all.

 

So here we are after the events of 'Bonfires' and Larx and Aaron are together...well, there's Larx and Aaron and their combined family of 5 kids (Larx has 2 and Aaron has 3) and then we have some strays...see, Larx and Aaron are both nurturers in their own right and they're men with big hearts and a lot of love. So as we lovingly say at my house they take in strays and I'm not talking about four-legged furry ones, either...although I'm pretty sure they take in those as well. I'm talking about kids who got the short end of the stick in the life lottery...kids who's parents weren't bright enough or unselfish enough to get what being a parent really means...kids who just need someone to love and believe in them so that they can show the world what an awesome person they really are.

 

'Crocus' is still Larx and Aaron's story but it's a busy one and you can't have the jobs that these men have and the number of people depending on you that these men have and not have a busy life...it's neither possible nor realistic. 

 

You can't have a big family and not have chaos and confusion...I know  I came from a big family and whether it's the family you're given like mine was or the one that you've created like Aaron and Larx's the results are pretty predictable and this family that we get see here is just filled with love.

 

'Crocus' is about two men who are in love but like many of us they don't live in a bubble and much of what happens in their world intersects with their private life whether they want it to or not and luckily for these men love is something that the more you open up your heart and share the more you seem to have and 'Crocus' shows that in so many ways.

 

Larx and Aaron are already living together in a house that's packed tight not just with love but with kids...they've got Christiana, Kelsey and Kellen living with them and then there's Dozer...Larx's (read Aaron's) big blonde retriever dog. So do they really need a pregnant Olivia knocking on their door followed by Elton (Wombat Willie) and Jamie and his brother Berto...of course not but sometimes life gives to us that which we can handle and not necessarily only what we want.

 

I have to admit I loved this. I'm not bothered by big, noisy family type stories for me it's the familiar and having lived away from mine for a few years now for me stories like this are becoming comfort food and I'm not sure that anyone does this recipe better than Ms Lane. 

 

For me 'Crocus' was about family and love. It's set in a small town and sure there's more going on in this small town than the usual but let's face it if there wasn't a little extra imagination added to this...well, we'd all be bored silly. Yeah, I've lived in small towns for most of my life and really there's only so much of neighbor 'A' sleeping with neighbor 'C' while neighbor 'B' gets quietly sloshed every night that one can take before 'neighbor 'D' falls asleep from the sheer boredom and repetition of it.

 

While Larx and Aaron both seemed to frequently have the same objective...one that, while it seemed simple enough, was often a task of monumental proportions for them to accomplish and that was simply getting some time together...alone as couple...trust me when I say while it may not have happened often when it did these two men know how to take full advantage of their time together and it as worth the wait.

 

We've got a world of opportunities here for what can happen next in this series and while I'm on board for pretty much anything even different MCs for the next story. I'm still hoping that no matter what we'll always get more Aaron and Larx because truthfully I'm not even close to having had my fill of these two men. I'm so enjoying having a series with 'mature' men as the MC's, men who love and have messy, busy, crazy at times overwhelming and larger than but still real lives that we get to be a part of.

 

From start to finish for me it never felt like the happiness that Aaron and Larx had found was at risk it was more about the reader getting to see what as individuals we already know...if you are lucky enough to get an HEA in life, then keeping it means a lot of hard work and effort, keeping it takes a lot of effort and hard work, you have to hang on to it with everything you've got...but and I'm sure that Aaron and Larx would agree with me when I say...it's worth it, so very worth it.

 

This one definitely gets 5 big, shiny, messy, happy family stars from me as I try to patiently wait for what comes next.

 

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An ARC of 'Crocus' was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

I'm not really sure how to say this but...

Free Falling - S.E. Jakes, Dorian Bane

well, quite frankly this one bored me. I have a couple of theories why and I'm honestly not feeling the least bit shy about admitting that this time around I'm pretty sure the book and I can share the blame on this one.

 

'Free Falling' is the first book in S.E. Jakes 'Extreme Escapes' series or the second I'm not really sure because when I look this series up on GR it shows that there are 10 books to 'Extreme Escapes' and the listings seems to be a combination of some previously written smaller series by this author. The first story being 'Bound for Keeps' shows as being book #5 from her series 'Men of Honor' and from the sounds of the blurb the characters from it aren't a part of this book so I figured I'd be ok in terms of following the story and from that perspective I'm pretty sure I was, however, the next couple of books in the series are books the first two books from the series 'Hell or High Water' and then we jump to Dirty Deeds book #1 from a series with the same title, 'Dirty Deeds' and then it seems to jump back to the 'Hell or High Water' series...ok, I have to say this is a bit confusing to me because I'm kind of wondering where that leaves the rest of the books from the 'Men of Honor' series? Should they be read before starting this? After? Maybe it doesn't matter? But it also has me wondering how connected any of these stories are...so really does it matter what order they're read in at all? 

 

Blue's a thief and Mick's a mercenary but the one thing that's obvious from the word go in this story is that they have a history...at times it actually feels like a lot of history and some of it may have occurred in another book in another series I don't know. But after reading the blurbs from those books it doesn't seem like it and without having read the books I can't be sure. However, as far as background for the individual characters I felt like we got more about Blue than Mick in this story, but we did at least get a bit about both of them and while it may have zero effect on this story in terms of understanding. That bit of previous history for me helps me to establish a bond if you will with the characters. It's nice to feel like you're there from the beginning rather than just getting plunked in the middle.

 

And for me getting plunked down in the middle of what turned out to be a rather prolonged mating dance between these two men but at the same time they had this perpetual game of 'come here, come here, come here...no get away, get away...wait come here...' going on and for me that game becomes real tired real fast and I become a bored person. I think if I'd been there for more of their relationship in the early stages maybe when they  first met a couple of subsequent encounters I might have found myself more invested and ultimately more interested in that moment when they both realized that they wanted to be together...I can't really say for sure but what I do know for sure is that from start to end this one just let me feeling disconnected and wondering if maybe I should have read some of the other books first? 

 

At the end of it all I just know this was me...

 

However, I did manage to pay attention long enough to be able to say that my issue was definitely in regards to the story and not connected to the narrator...sorry Mr. Bane, I truly didn't forget or ignore you.

 

Dorian Bane was the narrator for this one and I do want to make note of the fact that his efforts did not go unnoticed. While I liked Blue's voice for me the winner was Mick. Mick had that husky gravelly voice that held a slight edge of ongoing frustration and anger to it and for me that was so reflective of Mick, who I quickly came to identify as someone whose anger and frustration was a constant simmer beneath the surface and given what he did for a living this felt like it should be a natural emotional state for him. He deals with the part of humanity that quite frankly most of us would rather pretend didn't exist...Mick's voice very definitely worked for me as did profit with his subtle English accent and huge helping of snarky, attitude. So yeah, the narration for me on this one was definitely solid.

 

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An audio book of 'Free Falling' was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

 

 

 

Well this one slammed into me like a freight train out of control...

Rock Solid - Riley Hart, Joe Arden

As a rule I tend to shy away from books about addicts. They're a mixed bag of feelings for me and sometimes it makes it hard to read a story and even pretend to be objective, but I decided to give this one a go...what I didn't expect was that this author would have me crying my eyes out at the end of it. 

 

Ok, let me explain here. I'm not nor have I ever been an addict...I am however, that person who fell in love or at least thought they were in love with an addict. In a previous life when I was young and foolish I was sure that he loved me enough not to want the booze more than me and he kept promising so it was going to happen right? I was going to save him...yeah, we all lie to ourselves and it's this part of my past that connected me to this story because Trevor was that person...the addict who whether he realized it or not had the strength to do what it takes to do battle with his addiction because you don't get cured and you never beat addiction...you fight it every day and every day that you don't give in you get a victory...a small victory in a battle that you have to be willing to fight again the next day and the next day. 

 

If you're really lucky, when you fight this battle, you have people who believe in you who tell you that you can do it and you know that they really mean it and if they're lucky you win the battle one day at a time.  Unfortunately many an addict will tell you by the time that they're truly on the road to recovery and winning the battle one day at a time on a regular basis they've managed to break faith with most, if not all of those who have believed in them with unfaltering faith...

 

Enter Trevor Dixon...Trevor's been clean for a year and he's come home to help his brother build his construction company, Rock Solid Construction into a company that's 'rock solid' and to show his twin brother, Blake and his momma that he's clean, he's getting his life together, they can have faith, trust him, believe in him again and stop worrying about him. But it's not Blake or their momma who gives Trevor the faith and trust that he needs to let him know that the bad days are worth the struggle, it's a stranger, a possible client for 'Rock Solid' and someone who's as messed up as Trevor in their own way. Dr. Simon Malone's trying to rebuild not just his new home but his life...he's a heart surgeon who can't perform surgery and has no idea what direction his life needs to go in but there's something about the undeniably attractive contractor who's comes to give him an estimate on his renovations.

 

Trevor and Simon get off to a decidedly rocky start and it takes a bit of effort on Trevor's part to convince Simone to give Rock Solid a chance at doing his renovations, but Trevor's sheer determination and tenacity finally wear him down.

 

I was definitely enjoying this story and if you'd asked me at any point up until around the halfway point I'd have told you this and Joe Arden's narration for the story was...'rock solid' (see what I did there). But somewhere along the way in the second half of the story my like went to 'oh-my-god-I-need-to-hear-the-rest-of-this-book' something just slipped into place for me with this story. Trevor's struggle to stay clean and not relapse broke my heart and while I understood where Trevor's mom and brother were coming from it didn't stop me from being angry at them that they couldn't find it in themselves to trust him one more time...he was trying so freaking hard and struggling on his own...feeling alone in the world until he realized that Simone was there for him...always there for him. Maybe he wasn't doing everything right...ok, no maybe about it. Simone screwed up superbly at times but he kept trying...something he'd never done for anyone before.

 

I've read more than a few books that I've really loved and enjoyed but it's not that often that I feel like I've connected with a book on such a visceral level. But this one did. I was cheering for Trevor and more than once I held my breath as I silently prayed 'don't do it Trevor, don't give in you're better than this.' and I raged at Blake and their mom as they tore away at Trevor's heart and his determination...I know they didn't mean to but it's what they were doing and the hurt it caused Trevor was palpable. Please don't get me wrong I do understand their hesitation as I said back at the beginning...I've been them and it's taken me a lot of years to realize that everyone deserves a second chance...they may not make good use of it but it doesn't mean they don't deserve it and Trevor well for me Trevor represents the second chance that isn't lost or wasted. 

 

I haven't read a lot of books by Riley Hart and maybe this isn't the best of what's been written but it's a story that I connected with and it truly touched my heart and for that reason it'll always have a special place on my bookshelves.

 

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Currently reading

Naamah's Blessing by Jacqueline Carey