...Bookfanatic

 

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

Compelling...

Everyday History - Alice Archer

That's my one word for this story. Ok, now let me explain where I'm coming from with this. Many years ago I had a very dear friend, whom I loved like a sister. We played this game where we'd point something or someone out to each other and then we'd each have to describe or explain whatever had been selected with one word. My friend has since passed away but this game, this test of the mind if you will is part of my 'Everyday History' with her so it seemed really fitting to me that I start my review with a bit of my own everyday history by finding that one word that explained this story for me. 

 

I could have gone with fantastic, amazing, riveting, lovely...there were so many words that came to mind for me. But I finally settled on 'compelling' and if you chose to continue reading I'm going to try and explain why...hopefully without spoilers or boring you to tears.

 

I actually bought this in e-book format when it was first released last year but as sometimes happens I squirreled off to other things and while I kept intending to go back and read it...well, it just never quite seemed to happen. So I made grabby hands when asked if I wanted to review the audio book. Hell yeah, here we go another on off of Mt. TBR. I was all over this and then I started listening to the story and I couldn't stop. It was all I wanted to do...just sit and listen to Daan Stone tell me this beautiful, amazing story about 'Everyday History', about Ruben and Henry, about finding love at the wrong time in your life and realizing to late what you'd walked away from and could never forget, about fighting to get it back and make yourself complete. But more than this as I listened to this amazing story told by what I believe for this book was the  perfect narrator, I found myself looking around my room, my little haven where I often spend days surrounded by my own collection of 'Everyday History' with a whole new appreciation for the little things in my life and the meaning that they have for me.

 

I have to admit going into this my one real concern was the age gap. I've done bigger age gaps than this one and been ok with them, but for me this one was touchy because of Ruben's age at the beginning he was all of 18...well...almost, while Henry was in his thirties. Thankfully the author's handling of this particular challenge and the fact that the age gap was in fact only 14 years helped to ease my concern in this regard and if  you've read any of my other reviews for books where there's an age gap than you probably need to give your jaw a push up right about now because me saying the words 'only 14 years' in regards to this issue is probably a bit of a surprise. However I have in fact stated on previous occasions that my age gap comfort zone is 10 years and can stretch to 15 if things work for me and in this case things worked for me.

 

At the end of this wonderful journey that was created by a new to me author, Alice Archer and narrator, Daan Stone, I can truthfully say that my word for this is still 'compelling'. It was a beautifully combined effort that enchanted me from the very beginning and made me want to do nothing more than close my eyes and allow myself to be surrounded by the words that created this story.

 

I may read this in book format one day but truthfully I'll probably just go for the audiobook again and let the smooth richness of Daan Stone's voice take me on Ruben and Henry's journey again...after all if it's not broke...why fix it?

 

'Everyday History' may be Henry and Ruben's story but it's one that we all can tell.

 

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An audiobook of 'Everyday History' was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

A new series from L. A. Witt...

Back Piece (Skin Deep Inc.) - L.A. Witt

'Back Piece' is the first book in L.A. Witt’s latest series Skin Deep Inc. This is the story of two men damaged and hiding from the world. Colin is a tattoo artist and the owner of Skin Deep Inc. His past has left him damaged in so many ways but he’s a fighter and with determination and a solid support system he takes one day at a time and struggles to keep himself together. Commitment’s not on the table for him because he’s not ready to share his past with anyone else.

 

Daniel Moore is 26 and joined the Navy to get away from his ultra conservative and controlling parents. Daniel’s been hiding who he is and what he wants his whole life. Raised by parents who loved Daniel not for who he was but who they believed him to be Daniel’s kept himself firmly ensconced in the closet, but one look at Collin when he sees him for the first time at the gym with his ripped body covered in tattoos gives Daniel the courage to finally start going after what he wants some tattoos of his own and a man to go with them.

 

I loved how the relationship between these two men developed. It wasn’t love at first sight, there was a definite attraction but neither of these men were looking for the ‘L’ word. 

 

Colin likes big, strong military men like Daniel…and Daniel…well, Daniel likes muscles and tats. What starts as a business relationship when Daniel approaches him about his tattoos easily turns into more as Colin puts ink to skin. It’s during this first tattoo session that they begin to realize they also enjoy each others company and once again their relationship shifts to something more and they become friends and then friends with benefits when attraction becomes too strong to deny.

 

It’s during this time that Colin begins to open up and share his demons with Daniel. Colin’s issues aren’t the type that got away and he realizes that he needs…even wants to share this part of himself with Daniel. Neither man is willing to label their relationship but each acknowledges it’s importance in their own way.

 

I loved that Colin is both supportive and non-judgemental of Daniel’s reluctance to come out to his family, never pushing him to do what he is so obviously not ready for. He even spends a day with them as Daniel’s friend…his strictly platonic friend, and that Daniel shows him the same non-judgemental support when Colin opens up to him about his issues. The relationship between these two is so warm and positive and the author reflects this beautifully in how they share their passion for one another…it’s just hella’ hot…as in ‘turn on the cold shower’ hot.

 

For me one of the best parts of this book was when Daniel’s parents visited. As much as I wanted them to be…these people weren’t evil monsters or even abusive. They were just normal, average people who loved their kids and believed they were doing right by them. Sadly, they were also misguided and their idea of what the words ‘unconditional love’ meant had to many conditions tied to it. As a parent this of course was the part of the book that made my heart ache because there are too many Daniels out there in the world. Good kids who just want their parents to love and accept them for who they are rather than who their parents believe them to be or want them to be.

 

Ironically though it was Colin who really tugged at my heart. Colin had a good and loving family and they loved him for himself. For Colin it was the outside world that left him feeling broken and damaged, keeping him from seeing that he was a beautiful person inside and out. It’s not until Daniel that Colin feels like he’s found someone who sees him…not who they think him to be or want him to be but him…the Colin that is and likes what he sees…in fact loves what he sees.

 

As much as I loved the ending of this book it was part of the reason that this was a 4 star read for me and not 5. The ending in a lot of ways was so good, it was happy with a tiny expected touch of sad but unfortunately it was a little too abrupt as well. For me this would probably have easily been a 5 star read if the first part had been a tiny bit shorter and the ending had been a tiny bit longer, but, be that as it may at the end of it all ‘Back Piece’ was still an enjoyable story worth reading.

 

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An ARC of ‘Back Piece’ was graciously provided by the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Attention: THIRDS Nerds it's time to get your Hudson & Seb fix...

Darkest Hour Before Dawn - Charlie Cochet

I was so excited to finally get to this one. Seb and Hudson have been floating around in the background since the very beginning of THIRDS and it's not secret that they have a history...a very strong history. So finally here we are at their story and in general I loved it.

 

I loved seeing more of Seb and...oops, here's where I ran into a surprise...I can't really say this was a problem because that would imply that it affected how much I enjoyed the story and ironically this didn't but I was surprised to find that part way through this I was a little less than enchanted with Hudson. Up until now I'd liked him but in 'Darkest Hour Before the Dawn' I felt like Hudson was being shown to us at times in a bit of a different light...he's got flaws. I mean really? Who knew? Hudson's not perfect and I have to say I was ok with this mostly because he did begin to see that the things that other people were telling him weren't meant to be cruel or mean but they were things that he needed to see about himself because like anyone he wasn't perfect and he wasn't always right. Seb had his flaws as well but thankfully when it came to Hudson patience wasn't one of them. I liked that by the end of it all both of these men were just like so many people. Not perfect just two men trying to do their best and be the best person they could for themselves and for each other. 

 

There were so many questions answered in this story and of course some new ones arose as well. Once again along with giving us another couples story Ms Cochet has added on to the bridge that's taking us from what was and what is to what's will be. I'm honestly not sure how things are going to play out but with the addition of TIN and the things that have been revealed in this book I'm pretty sure it's going to be one hella' good ride. 

 

As always the world of THIRDS is laced with humor and thank goodness for that. These guys deal with some seriously scary and messed up stuff in their day to day lives and if you can't find a reason to smile and laugh from time to time...well then, really what's the point? Life's too short to always look on the gloomy side you have to take your happiness where and when you find it.

 

I'm definitely anticipating all the things that are coming next for this amazing group. For me one of the best parts of any book in this series along with getting a new story that often involves a new couple is simply the fact that we get to see a bit of all the THIRDS family members and occasionally a new member or two gets added. I loved seeing more of Seb's parents and Rafe, Austen...one can never have too much Austen. I was intrigued by Austen from the word go and I admit every book since I look for whatever little glimpse of him that I can get...his stories coming but we've got a ways to go before we get to it, so in the meantime I live for whatever Austen moments I can find and Wolf. Yes, we did find out stuff about Wolf this time around and I have to admit it was some pretty important stuff but there's more I'm sure of it and last but not least Dom. I definitely want more Dom. Ok, all kidding aside I just want more THIRDS. 

 

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

This is not a romance...

Sparkwood - Daria Defore

But it does have a touch of romance in it. 'Sparkwood' is more of a murder mystery/thriller with a very subtle romance developing in the background and I do mean subtle about halfway through this book I was questioning whether or not things couple possibly ever work out between the MCs. Their relationship seemed firmly ensconced in the love to hate category...as in they loved to hate each other but there was also a definite pull of attraction between them, so of course I had to keep reading because one...I needed to know who did it and two...I needed to find out if these two were going to get together or walk away when all was said and done. 

 

There were a couple of definite issues between them one being that Finn is a closeted bisexual and the only person he's willing to admit this to is himself and he has no use for the fae...doesn't trust them.

 

Robin is fae and takes an instant dislike to Finn. He's come to Sparkwood to invite Finn to attend his twin brother's funeral in Sparkwood...the other Sparkwood...the fae version of Sparkwood.  The only thing that Finn wants more than to not go is to know what happened to his twin brother Luke.  Someone killed Luke and Finn means to make sure they pay for their crime.

 

What Finn doesn't realize is that things aren't what they seem to be and the rules in the Fae Sparkwood are very different making it so much easier for a mere mortal to find themselves in over their head. Suddenly what's suppose to be a few days for a funeral and a bit of subtle sleuthing turns into an extended stay with a member of the fae who's even more irritating than Robin. Leaving Finn with only one option of who to turn to for help.

 

Daria Dafore is a new to me author and I have to admit this made me a bit nervous. Often times new to me authors are a bit of a toss up for me. It's either going to be incredibly good or horribly wrong. I can deal with incredibly good because really saying nice things it's fun. I mean who doesn't want to be able to tell someone things like "Wow! That was amazing, I loved it, etc. etc." hopefully maybe putting a smile on that person's face and brightening their day it's the other part that I hate doing so needless to say I'm happy that I get to have fun here. I enjoyed 'Sparkwood' the writing was good, the characters were interesting and likable and the story was easy to follow but not easy in the way that allows you to have it all figured out by the end of chapter one. 

 

I was intrigued by the premise of this book and in spite of the fact that it had fae characters, which not a deal breaker for me but once again it was either going to be epically bad or incredibly good...so again I found myself a bit nervous and I'm happy to say my nervousness in regards to this book was totally misplaced.

 

I liked the author's version of the fae and find myself more than a little hopeful that there will be more from this author about the residents of Sparkwood...especially if there's more Robin and Finn. I can't help but imagine that life with these two now that they're getting along would be anything but boring.

 

'Sparkwood' was an interesting and entertaining murder mystery/thriller with a nice dash of romance on the side from a new to me author that definitely had me intrigued and looking forward to finding out what comes next?

 

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

Looking for a happy place, I think I have one for you...

Practice Makes Perfect - Jay Northcote

Dev's just moved out of his residence at Uni because things weren't working out for him there and as luck would have it a friend of his has helped him move into a house with a few other students and a really hot neighbor, named Ewan. 

 

Ewan's Scottish and he's a ginger. He's also a psychology student having trouble with one of his classes...a class that involves numbers. Dev's good with numbers and Dev likes to make list...list of things he wants to do. One of those things on his list involves getting some experience...experience of a personal and intimate nature. So it only seems natural that Dev who's good with numbers and Ewan who's more than happy to help Dev get intimate with him strike a bargain...a gentleman's agreement if you will.

 

Things get a bit more complicated when both men realize that their feelings have gone well beyond the boundaries of their gentleman's agreement and neither of them wants things to end but they're not sure where they stand with each other or how to find out without risking their hearts.

 

'Practice Makes Perfect' is the third book in Jay Northcote's series 'Housemates' and while each book can be read as a standalone, I never felt like I was missing anything from this story in spite of the fact that characters from the first two books made appearances in Dev and Ewan's story, as soon as time permits I plan on going back to the beginning to read those first two stories not because I need to but because I enjoyed this book that much and this is a way to get more.

 

'Practice Makes Perfect' was awesome, I truly don't remember the last time I was so wonderfully enchanted by a story. Dev is so sweet and naive and just totally adorkable and while Ewan may be more worldly and experienced than Dev, he's also a very sweet and kind person and even before there's an emotional connection between these two men, he cares about Dev on a basic decent human being level.

 

Humor can be a wonderful thing in a story, but it doesn't always work for each person for a number of reasons. Sometimes we can feel like maybe the author is trying to hard or we just don't get it, maybe it feels like the humor's coming at someone's expense, whatever there's a myriad of reasons but for me the humorous moments in this story were spot on and this story quickly became a happy place for me. I laughed and smiled and yes, I may have found myself talking to the characters from time to time...hey, don't judge me, if guys can yell at the television when their hockey/baseball/football/whatever team screws-up, I can talk to my audio books from time to time.

 

While this wasn't really what I would call a comedy, there was definitely a sweet and serious side to things, the humorous moments planted throughout the story were ones that I could so easily imagine happening in real life.  

 

Add to what was just an overall well written story with characters who captured my heart a narrator whose voices were engaging and expressive...just perfect and what more could I really ask for.

 

'Practice Makes Perfect' is my second audiobook narrated by Mark Steadman and like the last one for me he did an awesome job. While the story was good and the narration was good the last time around for whatever reason I just didn't quite connect with things. This time it all worked wonderfully well. So well that I have zero doubt in my mind that I will be listening to this one more than once because just like anything that we like...why settle for once when you can enjoy it to your hearts content.

 

If you're looking for a sweet, uncomplicated story about young love that's guaranteed to make you smile and laugh in the best ways possible I highly recommend 'Practice Makes Perfect'.

 

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An audiobook of 'Practice Makes Perfect' was graciously provided by the author in exchange for an honest review. 

We all need love...even gangsters...

A Day Makes - Mary Calmes

I should probably start with what was wrong and what didn't work...but....Hello? 5 stars...so safe to assume nothing was wrong and everything worked in my world.

 

From the first page...no scratch that...from the cover because have you looked at it? Seriously if that's Ceaton Mercer and I suspect it is. I'm with Brinley on this one. I'd jump him as soon as he was in the same room with me too...I mean really...damn that's nice...vary, vary nice...ok, back to the story.

 

'A Day Makes' is the story of Ceaton Mercer from the day that changed his life...the day he first met Grigor Jankovic to the day that his life took another drastic change...the day he met Brinley Todd and so much more.

 

I smiled with pure delight from start to finish with this story. I am totally and unrepentantly addicted to this author's books. Whatever is right or wrong about them I care not. I'm all about stories that I just fall into and enjoy and as always Mary Calmes has delivered in spades.

 

I admit it all that I care about is that I am entertained, I thoroughly enjoyed this story from start to finish, I love the characters and the banter that flows between them and the way this author can make me melt into a puddle of goo with just a couple of lines...

"you saved me, right?"
"I did, but--"
"I think I'm supposed to save you right back."

On a bit of a separate sidebar there was a reference to a character from another series that I love by another author that I also love and it's not the first time this has happened so I just thought I'd put it out there that if Ms. Calmes and Ms. Ford are even remotely considering a collaboration for a book or maybe even a series...well, can I just say I whole heartedly endorse this consideration.

 

I think I've always been a fan of over the top stories even when I was a child...I mean really...Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs? Cinderella? Sleeping Beauty? Tell me those stories are over the top and beyond. When was the last time anyone saw a pumpkin turn into a coach? or mice become footmen? glass slippers? See what I mean OTT it's a staple of the classics. 

 

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

The book was good...the audio was even better? Who knew?

Wedding Favors - Anne Tenino

'Wedding Favors' is the seventh book in 'The Bluewater Bay' series and while I have fallen a bit behind with this series. I still keep buying the books because one day I will get back to them and get caught up and listening to this audio book simply confirmed that I need to do this.

 

As I frequently do with audio books that I've previously read here's the link to my original review...

Bluewater Bay #7 Wedding Favors - E-book Review

You might notice that I originally gave this one 4 stars, I really enjoyed it. It's a cute, fun second chance story by Anne Tenino but I have to admit add in narration by Nick J. Russo and that was all that was needed to push this up to a five star experience for me. Seriously I was laughing out loud and talking to the characters...good thing I was home alone or someone might have ordered me a new jacket in white with really long sleeves. This one went from enjoyable to a whole lot of hella' good fun for me and the sexy times...oh, lordie! Mr. Russo nailed those...there might have been a bit of replay going on...honestly Lucas and Gabe...damn, just damn! Sooooo HOT!

 

Best of all though was the scene where Lucas and Audrey are tasting wine...seriously laugh out loud stuff there folks and if you've read the book you know what I'm talking about.

 

Like any good piece of art, you need to start with good material but even then if you don't know what you're doing things can go wrong...horribly, horribly wrong. I'm very happy to say Nick Russo knows what he's doing. Even if you don't want to start a new series the wonderful thing about the 'Bluewater Bay' series is each book truly stands on it's own you can read one and thoroughly enjoy it without benefit of having read the rest of them and if you're looking to check out a well done audio book and possibly a new to you narrator (if you've never heard Mr. Russo before) I highly recommend 'Wedding Favors'. 

 

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An audiobook of 'Wedding Favors' was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Some secrets shouldn't be kept...

Poppy's Secret (Dreamspun Desires) - Andrew  Grey

'Poppy's Secret' was my third try at an audio book narrated by John Solo involving children and definitely my last. Unfortunately, while I do like John Solo as a narrator for me his children's voices are the one area that falls short. For me, Emma's voice was at time's whiny...I'm talking nails on chalkboard here and her moments of cute and precocious became mouthy and rude add to this that her voice sounded very reminiscent of the children in the two previous books...reminiscent as in just like the little boys who were in 'Commitment Ranch' and 'The Virgin Manny'.

 

Children aside I enjoyed Mr. Solo' narration on this audiobook...especially his voice for Edgerton 'Edge' Winters and this was the other distraction for me in this book not Edgerton's voice but his nickname because and this is definitely a personal and ok...slightly entertaining issue. Simply put in my world 'Edge' is a wrestler...tall, blonde and well built so not really a bad distraction but still hard to stay focused when I should be thinking artist at this name and my brain's conjuring images of a wrestling match...specifically ladder matches...Edge liked to have ladder matches...ok, back to the book.

 

Poppy is Emma's name for her father, Pat the man who is raising her. Edge is Pat's ex. The man who left right when they were about to start a family. He wasn't ready for it then but 8 years later things have changed...well some things but not his feelings for Pat and if he can just get Pat to give him a second chance maybe they could have that family Pat's always wanted.

 

'Poppy's Secret' was a warm and sweet story of second chances and forgiveness. It was two men both realizing that they'd made mistakes and they still loved each other enough to want a dream that they'd given up years ago.

 

Pat and Edge's efforts to find their way back to each other were sweet and while the path wasn't smooth it wasn't filled with a lot of unnecessary drama either and I loved that we were given each man's perspective and not left feeling like it was one person's fault. Both men made mistakes and both needed to own up to their part in why things ended so many years ago.

 

Children's voices aside 'Poppy's Secret' was a very enjoyable listening experience about second chances at love, getting and giving forgiveness in order to have the life you thought you'd lost.

 

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An audiobook of 'Poppy's Secret' was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

3 stars for what had the potential to be so much more....

The Winter Dark - J.S. Cook

but...I needed more for that to happen.

 

Ok before I get into the actual story I'm going to deal with the audio. K. C. Kelly was the narrator for this book and he's a new to me narrator and one that I'm definitely going to keep an eye on. I really enjoyed his narration on this book but I've also taken the time to listen to some samples of other books he's narrated and I have to say I want to listen to a few of them. I like his voices they're filled with personality and life adding both depth and emotion to the story. So the audio portion gets 4 stars from me.

 

I love a good romantic thriller and this one had all the hallmarks of being just that. Sadly that didn't happen. In short order this story was too short. It almost felt like a detailed story outline rather than a complete story. It felt to me like there were a few opportunities for this story to be fleshed out and turned into a far more detailed novel or novella at the very least.

 

The setting is small town Mississippi and our MCs are the sheriff  Eli Gallagher and his deputy, Stan Leach. I liked these characters and I very much enjoyed the story that was there. The book starts with both Eli and Stan involved with other people. We quickly find out that Eli's current interest is...to put it bluntly a bag of dicks. Seriously this guy is so full of himself it's pitiful and laughable so I did...laugh that is. This was also what made me like Gallagher. Gallagher basically showed himself to be a class act...while Gilbert, Eli's love interest, (or BoD...Bag 'o' Dicks as I lovingly came to think of him...add copious amounts of sarcasm here please) proved himself to be a totally pompous, pretentious, self-absorbed BoD.

 

Seems good old Gilbert wants to get married to a woman because 'it's time to settle down'...no spoiler here it's in the blurb. Seriously this part of the story left me trying to get my jaw off the floor with how astoundingly oblivious and full of himself our man Gil proved himself to be. I was very entertained with how the author wrote this part of the story...loved it.

 

Meanwhile Stan suddenly finds his hands full with Harvey Faber until they're not...this would be one of those chances to fill out the story...oh well opportunity knocked and no one answered the door. This was another part of the story that I really enjoyed I liked how Stan was with Harvey. It was sweet and kind. 

 

So at the end of it all my biggest problem with this story wasn't that I didn't like it. It was that I did. I liked it enough that I really wanted the author to give me more story. More background on both of these men and definitely more relationship time between Eli and Stan because yeah, I liked these two as a couple and I would have loved to have had more time with them both while they're getting together and after they become a couple. By the way everyone did I mention...AGE GAP!!! That's right there's about 15 years between these two and I didn't care...I think I'm cured.

 

Simply put at the end of it all I wanted more. I needed more to take this from 3 "It's ok, I liked it" stars to possibly 5 "HOLY Crap! This was great stars. I definitely feel the need to check out more of this author's books and K.C. Kelly is a yes on my audio narrator list. So while the book wasn't as good as it could have been I'd say this one was a win and if there's ever second release that gets notably revised I think I'm on board for a re-read...eeeerrr...re-listen on this on.

 

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An audiobook of 'The Winter Dark' was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

 

Sometimes too sweet is just right...

Imagines - N.R. Walker

Like the first book 'Imago' this one is also free of angst and drama. 'Imagines' is the sequel and the final chapter in this wonderfully sweet love story. 

 

Lawson has been asked to travel to the far northern part of Queensland to help figure out why the Ulysses butterfly is dying. It's decided that he and Jack will make this their first vacation together. It's a working vacation for Lawson but not for Jack. A bit of a relationship test and happily these two passed with flying colors.

 

I love how supportive Jack is of Lawson's career and needless to say I'm really, really glad that Jack was with him. Lawson and Jack are a sweet and loving couple. They're supportive of each other and throughout both of these stories I never felt like that was something that either of them took for granted. I love my stories with their angst and drama and over the top things but sometimes it's just really nice to find a story like this where the relationship is really solid. That Jack appreciated and respected Lawson for his intellect and dedication to his career was for me reciprocated by the fact that Lawson showed him the same appreciation and respect and never acted like Jack was less because he didn't have Lawson's IQ or credentials. This was for me a well balanced relationship and the fact that these two men were totally hot for each other...well that worked too.

 

While Jack and Lawson did have a bit of an adventure on this one, which was good because otherwise...boring. I enjoyed that their adventure didn't include any unnecessary relationship drama.

 

The extra bonus in this story for me was the butterflies. I love it when a story prompts me to learn more about something and I admit I've spent most of my morning googling about butterflies specifically ones native to Tasmania and Australia...I might have peeked at Cane Toads too but that didn't last long I learned all I need to know in a matter of seconds...they're freakin' ugly...poisonous and ugly what a wonderful combo.

 

'Imagine' like 'Imago' was one of those stories that you could just curl up and enjoy knowing that at the end of it all you'd feel good and be smiling no gut clenching or ragey moments involved. Just a few butterflies and a couple of butterfly kisses...

"Jack, there are species of Lepidoptera all over this world, but there are none - none - like those I experience when I'm with you..." 

Sometimes I like drama and angst and blow shit-up, adventure and over the top romance, steampunk or fantasy but sometimes my heart calls out for a drama free, sweet, loving romance story about two people who just find each other and love one another and live happily ever after...psst...there's a deleted scene at the end of the book that's guaranteed to make you smile...just sayin'...

 

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

I loved it! I loved it! I loved it!!!

Home Fires - Kate Sherwood

This was it, the final book in Kate Sherwood's series 'Common Law' and it was perfect. Did I finally get my sexy times...yeah, there wasn't a lot of them but what there was I loved. But more importantly than that these guys got their HEA! and so did I.

 

Like the previous books in this series there was action...seriously Wade went to the toy store and came back with 'blow shit-up' toys...how sexy is that. Sorry, I have a weak spot for men who can blow shit up...I'm a 'Die Hard' fan...so sue me ;)

 

Each of these books has contained a different story and I loved that because it kept things from getting too drawn out and reaching that point...you know the one...come on I can't be the only one that sat in theater yelling..."Throw the damned ring Frodo, just throw the ring." So while we had the same MCs in each book we had a whole new series of events and weren't kept waiting for answers, so in fact no cliffhangers. Each book was a self contained story. But this one...this one was definitely my favorite. There was drama and action...and did I mention shit got blown up...mmm...I get goosebumps just thinking about it.

 

Definitely one of my favorite things about this series was the relationship between Wade and Jericho. It was neither easy nor perfect and there were times that things were definitely one step forward and 3 steps back which only seemed right given that these men stand on opposite sides of the law. I loved the banter between Wade and Jericho and needless to say with each subsequent it just got better and better.  I have to admit I'm sorry to see this come to an end. 

 

While the series stands complete as it is the epilogue does leave room for the author to revisit the lives of Wade and Jericho something that I would love to see happen. While I wouldn't list any one book as an all time favorite for this year I can easily see that the series in it's entirety will remain a favorite for me.

 

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An ARC of "Home Fires" was graciously provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

It's Mary Calmes, it's Mary Calmes...I love Mary Calmes!!!

Chosen Pride (L'Ange Book 3) - Mary Calmes

Yeah, I'm back with more Mary Calmes and this times it's on audio. I enjoyed this book the first time around when I read it...I truly did. But I've made a discovery as much as I enjoyed reading the e-book the audio book was just hella' good fun.

 

Here's the link to my review of the e-book...Chosen Pride - original review

 

So...lets see...I think we've established I love Mary Calmes, I've read this book and really liked it but the audiobook was even funner (yes, that's a word of course it is...ok, I just made it one)

 

Tristan James did an awesome job on this one for me especially with the voices of the MCs. First off he met my initial requirements of giving me voices that were consistent and conveyed emotion keeping me engaged in the story. But beyond that he gave me voices that gave life to the characters and we're not just talking people here these are shifters and I needed the voices to give me that something more that make me feel like I was being emerged in the world of the paranormal and I was.

 

John Slade is a lion shifter who for me is just beyond amusing. John's a lion shifter so of course this means he's a predator and pretty much at the top of the food chain. Nothing truly makes him feel threatened so at times he's pretty oblivious to things in his world like Sebastian the shifter who's wanted him practically since they met and John is so secure in his knowledge of his place of in the food chain that he doesn't even realize Sebastian is a shifter for the longest time. John's also stunningly gorgeous and given that he's a lion shifter...this makes sense. I mean really think about it lions are one nature's noblest beast and they are truly beautiful so logic for me says that a lion shifter's going to be beautiful no matter what his form...human or beast. I love that there are things about his world that John just takes for granted and it comes through in his voice and it's almost bland tone of confidence that some things are the way the are and that he knows it without being told. I was more than a little pleased and impressed with how well Tristan James conveyed the personality contained by this character and really helped bring him to life for me. 

 

I was also totally enamored with Kelvin MacCurdy's voice. His thick Scottish brogue was beautiful and totally curled my toes. While not as complex of a character as John. Kelvin is a man who is strong and controlled physically, emotionally and mentally. He knows his world and understands his place in it until John Slade comes along and makes him want more. I loved the emotion and depth that were brought to this character for me by Mr. James.

 

While I absolutely enjoyed the e-book the audio book gave this story a level of fun and enjoyment that was a wonderfully pleasant surprise and has me thinking that maybe I need to get the audio books for the first two stories in this series.

 

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

There are busy books and then there's...

Dirty Games - Barbara Elsborg

'Dirty Games'...if you like books that are busier than a shopping mall at Christmas time...pull up a chair, I've got just the story for you.

 

I've read some books that have had a lot going on...I mean seriously a lot but I'm not sure any of them can compete with this one and I could tell you some of it but the problem is...in some way at some point it all connects. Actually I could probably keep it a lot shorter by telling you what didn't happen in this book...no one died...or at least I don't remember anyone dying...no, no I'm sure of it no one died. Pretty much every thing else is fair game...ok, maybe not EVERY thing...but damned close.

 

I truly don't remember the last time I read a book that had so many things happening in it. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed this one. Would I want all my books to be this busy...oh hell no...not unless they come with their own roadmaps but this one worked for me.

 

I very much enjoyed the MCs and their interactions. Not that he didn't take life seriously but Linton definitely had a lighter side and was quick with a joke as long as you didn't expect him to use the 'L' word because that ain't gonna' happen...nope, nope, nope. Thorne was instantly drawn to Linton and his quick wit that couldn't help but make Thorne laugh. He loved that Linton wasn't afraid to call him on his bs and wasn't afraid to help Thorne keep his ego in check either.

 

Thorne had definite trust issues and when he felt his trust had been misplaced he was quick to anger and that anger held a definite mean undertone to it. But his anger was equaled by his love and desire to help the people he cared about.

 

There were some interesting and dare I say 'deserving of their own story' secondary characters as well...Linton's brother, Dirk. While Dirk started off as a jerk towards the end we were beginning to see a different and a far more likable side to him.

 

Thorne's brother, River. River is autistic and displays what I think is probably a very high intelligence level...dare I say potentially genius and I for one found him to be a very interesting young man. I would love a story for him if not his own book.

 

Josh is Thorne's best friend, one few who's not afraid to call b*llsh!t on Thorne when he gets to full of himself and one of the few people Thorne truly trust. Orlando is Thorne's agent and while we only get little glimpses of him, he struck me as yet another character with the potential for an interesting story. He's an agent and he seems to be one off the good guys who also seems to always be one step ahead of where he should be...how is that? I'm just curious...like I said potential for a story.

 

There's also Nate and Owen. I'd actually like to see these two end up together...so that'll require a book and of course we have our usual raft of bad guys, Max and Pascal, Owen's brother and Linton's ex...respectively neither of them deserving of more than a quick mention and let's throw in a few thugs and general bad guys just for good measure as well.

 

Initially I really wasn't sure how much I was going to like this because I was getting a little dizzy with everything that was going on but somewhere around the halfway mark things started to click into place for me and I found myself really enjoying the story and anxiously reading every chance I got to see what could possibly happen next.

 

If you can handle the busy, busy stuff than this one is definitely worth reading. It's very possible that this story could have been just as good with less going on but honestly I doubt it because at the end every thing seemed to be tied together in one way or another. So if you're a fan of stories with a lot going on and some really good characters, If you like your MCs to be sexy, funny, strong and slightly broken and did I mention some of what was going on was pretty freakin' hot? and if you can also handle having more than a few interesting characters sitting in the background trying to steal your attention, than...'Dirty Games' is a book that you need to check into.

 

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An ARC of 'Dirty Games' was graciously provided by the author via Signal Boost Promotions in exchange for an honest review.

Another re-read....eeeerrrmmmm...listen...

You Are the Reason - Renae Kaye

I originally read this book back in 2015 and for the most part my original review is still an accurate representation of my thoughts on this story.

'You're the Reason' original review

With the exception that listening to the audiobook really brought home to me the fact that this story also represents what happens when love is right. Throughout the story we see Davo struggle to continuously redefine himself in terms of his perceptions of the world and what he's believed and while many of his perceptions are misguided at best and in ironically homophobic at their worst, we are also shown a man who slowly realizes that the world as he's perceives it, is  a world that is at times ugly and hurtful to him and those he cares about. Little by little we this man begin to revise what he believes and come to the realization that as well as being wrong and hurtful to others including those he loves, his beliefs have in fact kept him from being the person that in his heart he wants to be and more importantly it's now keeping him from having the love and happiness that he wants. It's this very same love that motivates him to want to be a better person, to look at himself with at times an extremely critical eye.

 

Listening to the voice of David Gillies as he read this story was like being given a new perspective and I felt like I was seeing Davo's world more from his viewpoint giving me a stronger appreciation of the growth that his character made throughout the book.

 

"You Are the Reason' was my first book narrated by David Gillies and while I had one or two minor hitches with things overall I found his narration to be solid and likable and look forward to hearing future audiobooks by this narrator.

 

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An audiobook of "You Are The Reason"  was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

I loved this book it was awesome, but...

The Imperfection of Swans - Brandon Witt

It was what came after that brought me to tears...well done Mr. Witt, very well done.

 

 

You'll probably notice that I say this a lot...but once again my decision to start reviewing audio books has enabled me to get to a story on my TBR list that I keep squirreling away from. There's no insult intended to anyone because this is just how I am. I actually do this with some of my favorite authors and have done it for my entire reading life. I read a lot and I also buy a lot of books and I squirrel from book to book a lot. Which ironically in spit of the fact that I own 10 of this authors titles makes this the first story that I've actually read...errr, listened to. 

 

Anyways, enough about my strange reading habits and I'll get back to the real issue at hand here...'The Imperfection of Swans'...wow, what a truly beautiful story. Kevin has always wanted to open up his own bridal store and Casper loves to bake and having his own bakery that specialized in wedding cakes would be a dream come true for him but it's not until these two meet and an acquaintance suggest that they need to partner up that both men begin to believe that they really can have their hearts desires fulfilled.

 

Kevin is both heartbreaking and inspiring. His constant struggle to maintain what he perceives to be the necessary image and to keep himself from falling victim to the harmful effects of his choices made my heart ache for him and in the end his efforts to finally acknowledge and break the cycle of harmful behavior that had ruled his life took so much courage. Yes, he had an amazing support system and I was so happy for that but still ultimately it was Kevin and only Kevin who had the ability to change things for himself and the strength that is needed to do this and succeed is so amazing. 

 

I loved Casper...was he perfect...no, but, he was perfectly wonderful and most important of all...he was perfect for Kevin. He loved and accepted Kevin warts and all and really can any of us every truly ask for more? 

 

There were more than a few awesome secondary characters in this book and for the most part I loved them. From Kevin's family to his ex, who I was happy to see wasn't portrayed as a bad person so much as the wrong person for Kevin. I'd actually like to see that character have a novel where he gets his own happily ever after. I'd also like more about Kevin's Uncle Tony and his husband and Casper's ex not-ex Brent just needs to go away...like I said a lot of interesting secondary characters in this one...the guy that ran the Sushi place? Seriously what was up with him?

 

I'm sure it's no real secret by now that the character of Kevin is based on the author's best friend and while the story got more than a few tears from me it was the comments of the real Kevin and the author that were read after the story that brought even more tears to my eyes because I was yet again reminded that Kevin, the real Kevin is truly a brave soul to share what was both a difficult and trying experience with the world is not something that a lot of people would be comfortable or willing to do. It takes strength to do this especially when you consider that the handsome young man on the cover is the real Kevin. So admittedly the story itself was probably a 4 star read for me but when all this is factored in I can in all honesty give this no fewer than 5 glowing 'you've wowed me' stars.

 

So where does that leave the audio book? Kirt Graves was the narrator for this one. His voices are expressive and have the discernible difference allowing me to listen without difficulty or losing track of who's speaking and questioning which voice is whose, I had no problem staying engaged with the story. In general this narrator works for me and while he's another new to me narrator, based on this book and the samples from a couple of his other books that I've listened to he's someone that I'll look forward to hearing more from in future.

 

'The Imperfection of Swans' is a story that deals with some really tough issues with insight and sensitivity by a 'new to me' author and narrator who made for a really enjoyable combination. 

 

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

Do you remember, when you were little and...

Frostbite - Alexandria Bellefleur

it was bedtime and you wanted your mom or your dad to read you a story....

 

Well this isn't quite that story but now that you're older if you'd like a bedtime story...this will work nicely.

 

Admittedly my biggest disappointment here is...there's no dragon...I have to say I felt a little cheated on that except one of the MCs name was Drachen and in truth he's no mere man but if you want to know why he's not...you'll need to read the story. Which shouldn't be problem because honestly it was a beautiful story.

 

I was totally enchanted with the fairytale feel of this story. It was so...enchanting. I do wish that the story had been longer but not because it was lacking or incomplete in any way...no, it was because I was enjoying it so much. It's been a long time since I've read a book that truly had me wanting to curl up and snuggle my favorite teddy bear...yes, I have a favorite, his name is Jackson, but I'm not here to talk about my bears. I'm here to tell you about this wonderful story that had me wanting to curl up with my favorite bear while someone read me a story. 

 

I'm not going to say anything about the details of this story because I truly want anyone who chooses to read this to hopefully be as enchanted with it as I was. While the blurb does give the general gist of what the story is about there were so many other details some smaller, some more important and all adding together to create a very different story from what I was expecting.

 

If you enjoyed fairytales when you were young and would like to revisit the beauty of those stories only with an adult touch to it, this is the perfect story. It's Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Beauty and the Beast and Snow White all rolled up into one. 

 

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

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