...Bookfanatic

 

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

Surprise...it's my first time reading this author...

Forgotten Paradise (Dreamspun Desires) - Shira Anthony

Ok so I have to admit I was a little surprised when I realized this because truthfully I own more than a few books by this author and have somehow not managed to get to them yet...so many books, so little time...

 

"Forgotten Paradise" is part of Dreamspinner's Dreamspun Desires series and I enjoyed listening to the audio book. It was like being read a sweet, low angst fairytale...of the modern, adult variety, of course. 

 

Adam Preston is enjoying a well earned vacation in the Dominican Republic before returning home to deal with what can only be considered a hostile takeover attempt by Entech a company with a reputation for less than ethical behavior in their business dealings, when he decides to do a bit of scuba diving he's surprised to discover that his instructor is the attractive, charming and somewhat mysterious Jonah, whom he met at the resort bar the night before.

 

It turns out that Jonah's not just a mystery to Adam but to himself as well. Since he only remembers the last 10 years of his life when he woke up on a beach one day with no idea of who he was or how he got there. He's held that secret close until Adam, who for some reason is causing long hidden memories to try and resurface in his mind.

 

As Adam and Jonah get to know each other during their time together, their attraction grows and with each encounter Jonah finds himself recovering parts of a past he thought gone forever and one that maybe he no longer wants. 

 

It's a bit of a whirlwind romance between these two. Considering that they only have one week before Adam has to return to his real life. It works and I really didn't have a problem finding it believable...beautiful tropical setting, two intelligent, attractive, available people (men in this case) drawn to each other and who enjoy each others company.  Honestly no stretch of the imagination required here at all.

 

It's when Adam returns the real world that he begins to discover that his fantasy vacation was far more firmly rooted in reality than either he or Jonah could have ever imagined.

 

I enjoyed the first part of this story which introduced us to Adam and Jonah. Seeing their relationship go from a simple attraction to something so much stronger in spite of the fact that they knew they only had a week before Adam would be leaving.  It was fun and sexy and sweet and so easy the envision with the way that the author wove in the background information to create images of a beautiful tropical setting combined with the adventure of deep sea diving.  

 

However, it's the second part of this book that really won me over. Seeing Adam as he came to the realization of who Jonah was while also struggling to save his company and pull his family back together. More than the company that his father started Adam valued his family and while his relationship with his mother and his sister is fairly solid (his awesome sister, Karen...just sayin' with a name like that how could she not be awesome?), it's his brother Rodger whom he misses. They use to be best friends able to talk to each other about everything. But since their father's death that's changed and Adam wants to fix this. He's willing to do just about anything to have his friend and brother back.

 

Ironically when Adam's vacation ends he's not the only one who needs to return to real world. As Jonah comes to remember his life before waking up on a sandy beach he also comes to the realization that he can no longer hide from who and what he was. He needs to return to the life he's only now remembering and put his own house in order. 

 

While the first half of the book gave me a glimpse into the character of Adam and Jonah and what kind of men they are, it's the second half that really develops them and gives them depth. There are no cake walks here, both men have to fight for what they want. Proving that determination and strength of character is not in short supply where either of them are concerned.

 

"Forgotten Paradise" was narrated by Andrew McFerrin, who is a new to me narrator and while I have to admit I didn't fall head over heels in love with him. His voices were consistent and expressed emotion. While I can't say that any one voice was outstanding or hooked me into the story as I've had happen with other narrators. I wasn't put off by any of them either and I'm definitely willing to listen to future audiobooks by this narrator...I may even have a couple on my wishlist over at audible...the samples sound good so definite potential here for me.

 

When all is said and done it's 4 stars for the story and 3 for the audio portion and I'm just going to call it a day at 4 because if I take the median number as I usually do it's 3.5 and I'm just going to have to round up when I post this review in other places and I'm feeling lazy today plus truly this story deserves more than 3 stars so I'm not willing to round down...so 4 stars and I'm done here now.

 

********************

An audio book of "Forgotten Paradise" was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Life in the country isn't always as boring as it seems...

A Second Harvest - Eli Easton

David Fisher's lived his life according to everyone else's dictates. His father and then a wife and two kids, following the beliefs of the Mennonite church. But now his wife's passed away, his kids are grown and off at school and David's all but turned away from the church. David finds himself really just going through the motions of running the family farm.  Every days basically the same until the day he meets his new neighbor, Christie Landon.

 

Christie's escaped the city after leading life in the fast lane for years. A friend's close call when he overdoses causes Christie to re-evaluate his life and head for the country where he plans to sort out things at his aunt's house that he's inherited upon her death. Christie's looking to slow down, regroup and re-evaluate his life until he meets his new neighbor, David.

 

David and Christie are total opposites on the surface. David's closeted. He's lived his life in Lancaster County never travelling anywhere or seeing anything of the world. He's dreamed of if...his collection of National Geographic magazines can attest to that. At 40 years old not only does it seem like his life is over...it never really got a chance to start. While at 30 years old, Christie's a college graduate, he's got a solid career as a graphic designer, he's partied, walked on the wild side, seen a bit of the world and reached a point where he just wants to put the brakes on.

 

Neither of these men are really looking for a relationship but sometimes the heart wants what the heart wants and common sense doesn't really factor into it. 

 

I liked the slow burn on this one. Seeing David and Christie build their relationship over food and farm work. Watching as Christie slowly draws out David's awakening sexuality until David neither can nor wants to deny it.

 

I really liked both David and Christie. David for me was someone who was thoughtful,  strong and honorable. He stuck by his convictions regardless of how hard it was...when he was confronted by members of the church or his own children he didn't automatically do the easy thing and capitulate to what they wanted. While Christie was out and proud he was also a kind, caring and compassionate person. 

 

"A Second Harvest" had all the makings of an incredibly good story and while I enjoyed it.  It didn't make the same connection for me that other books by this author have. I'm honestly not entirely sure why this one didn't totally work for my but I do think at least part of that was due to the narration. I was fortunate to be able to listen to the audio book for 'A Second Harvest' which was narrated by Will Tulin, who is a new to me narrator and unfortunately for me this narrator just didn't quite work. His voices for the characters weren't the same as how I had imagined they would sound and I found this to be a bit distracting. While he did check off my basic checklist of 'what I look for' in an audio book, the voices just didn't work for me. So I have to caution that this is a very subjective opinion being expressed here. 

 

"A Second Harvest" is a story not just of two men discovering each other but themselves. Other than my issue with the audio, I'm not sure why this one didn't work for me...maybe it wasn't quite the type of story I was looking for at the time...who knows sometimes things work, sometimes they don't and this time was just ok and not 'howl at the moon awesome'.

 

********************

An audiobook of "A Second Harvest" was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

I'm thinking this ones on me...at least partially...

Chief's Mess - L.A. Witt

So far I've really enjoyed this series both 'Just Drive' and 'Fear of Flying' were stories that I really enjoyed and I basically knew what this story was about going in to it. 

 

Noah Jackson is a member of Anchor Point's military police. He's got a stressful job and unfortunately his solution for dealing with the stress of his job comes from a bottle and he sees no problem with this. As a matter of fact he's so on board with this that when a problem results from his drinking his solution is to make his life accommodate the drinking...can't drive home because you've had too much to drink...take a cab...problem solved because drinking less or not drinking doesn't even ping his radar as a reasonable solution. Noah is what is known as a functioning alcoholic. Unfortunately he's not as functioning as he believes people like his best friend and superior officer, Senior Chief Will Curtis see what's happening. I'm sure most of us have met or had someone like Noah in their lives at one time or another, I know I have. 

 

While we weren't introduced to Noah in 'Fear of Flying' we did meet Anthony. Anthony is the supportive brother of Curtis's ex-wife. There was a lot about Noah's behavior that I understood in regards to his mildly paranoid behavior about how much Noah drank. I got that and I remember being so cautious about people in my life and how much they drank wondering how much and how often they truly drank. Honestly, it's not fun living like that doubting and never fully trusting until you're sure really sure that it's safe to trust that person because they aren't going to crawl into a bottle every chance they get.

 

Noah and Anthony start out as a hook-up one night of hot sex. But one night becomes a few more until Anthony has to go home. As time passes Anthony and Noah begin texting and then as they get to know each other and each remembers how good the sex had been they decide to take a shot at a long distance relationship. 

 

You see the fact is that while I've known Noah, I've been Anthony...been part of the rubble left behind when the landslide stops. I've lived through the lies, the deceptions and justifications, the heartbreak of knowing you can't fix them. That they're the only person who can fix themselves and not until they're ready to.  The frustration of knowing that you've reached the point where the only thing you can do is walk away and save yourself.

 

The one real issue that I had with Anthony in fact actually goes back to the events of 'Fear of Flying' and Anthony's lack of basic compassion and understanding for his brother-in-law Curtis. Logically I knew where it came from, but, I still can't say I liked it.  

 

The concept for this story was good and while I liked it, I think maybe for me it came just a little to close to a reality that I've known which was a big part of the reason that I didn't enjoy 'Chief's Mess' nearly as much as the first two books.  However, I am looking forward to the next book in this series...'Rank & File' is Senior Chief Will Curtis's story and while we did get a bit of Will's background in this book, I'm hoping that 'Rank & File' 

will give us a all of Will's story and a peek at how things are going for the other men of 'Anchor Point'.  

 

********************

A copy of "Chief's Mess" was graciously provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Love with all it's dings and dents...

Afraid to Fly - L.A. Witt

'Afraid to Fly' is the second book in L. A. Witt's series 'Anchor Point'. We were briefly introduced to Travis Wilson in 'Just Drive' the first book in this series as best friend of Paul Richards one of the MCs from that story.

 

In 'Just Drive' Travis encouraged Paul to take a chance on love and now it's Paul's turn to do the same for Travis. While the author didn't really tell us a lot about Travis in 'Just Drive' we were told enough to know that Travis deals with chronic pain and in 'Afraid to Fly' we are given a much clearer picture of just how bad that chronic pain is and insidiously it has invaded every aspect of his life. Along with the chronic pain Travis deals with PTSD and shares his home with his adult daughter who also deals with her own PTSD.

 

Clint Fraser works down the hall from Travis and he's got his own case of PTSD to deal with...one that's cost him a marriage and time with his 3 kids.

 

It's always interesting when I finish a book to reflect back on the why I did or didn't like a book. Sometimes, I'm not really sure why and it's just a case of the story worked and I connected with it sometimes there's something very specific that I liked or several things and in the case of 'Afraid to Fly' while there were several things that I liked about this story the number one reason was Travis. I connected with Travis. I totally understood what his life was like. As someone who also suffers from chronic pain, while thankfully mine is rarely as extreme as Travis's is. It does affect my daily life. So I understood what it was like to always be thinking ahead wondering can I do this? How much more will I hurt? How can I manage the pain? and on and on. It's just what you do and how you have to deal with things to try and have as normal of a life as possible. To keep as much independence as possible. I got this, I understood his mindset and I really got his insecurities about his and Clint's relationship and how much it meant to him to have someone who accepts him with all his 'dings and dents' just as Travis does with Clint and his PTSD and the fact that he's a 'recovering' alcoholic. 

 

As well as how Travis's chronic pain and PTSD was dealt with how we saw Clint's medical issues, both the PTSD and the alcoholism dealt with for me was well done. It was an important part of the story but it never felt like it overpowered the development of their relationship but just like Travis's chronic pain and his own PTSD these were things that both men had deal with, it was all a part of the relationship dynamic. 

 

For me 'Fear of Flying' was about finding that person you connect with, want to spend your life with and loving them not in spite of their 'baggage' but because it's a part of them and who they are and ultimately you come to know and accept that the love they have for you is as strong as what you feel for them.

 

Matchmaker, matchmaker, make me a match, find me a find, catch me a catch...

Noble Intentions - Andrew  Grey

When Robert Ashton's uncles dies. Robert is in for a surprise when the will is read and he learns that he's the Earl of Hantford and that title comes with a couple of money pits. The family estate Ashton Park and a place in London which he quickly decides he'll probably sell but Ashton Park has been in his family for generations and it would break his mother's heart to see it sold and Robert's not sure selling Ashton Park is something that it's in his heart to do. But the problem is he doesn't have the money for the much needed repairs. However, Robert's thinks she has the perfect solution...she's sure that Robert just needs to marry someone with the much needed money.

 

Putting her plan for her son to marry someone with money into action. Robert's mom signs him up for a matchmaker service and before Robert knows it he's meeting Tech Wizard Daniel Fabian for dinner while on a business trip to New York. Danial has his own reasons for using a matchmaker and what he's looking for someone with a title so that when he goes to his high school reunion filled with old money snobs he can show up as a member of the aristocracy.

 

While Robert and Daniel ultimately ended up enjoying their first date in spite of it's awkward start and it did lead to arrangements for a second date. Thankfully it wasn't a case of insta-love. 

 

Overall I enjoyed the story and I liked that while it wasn't long before Daniel and Robert found themselves falling for each other it wasn't insta-love and they did take time to get to know each other. While neither of them confessed to their reasons for using the matchmaker service it was shared fairly early in the relationship so there wasn't any unnecessary miscommunication issues.

 

While there was the occasional bit of over the top sweetness it wasn't in excessive amounts and overall it didn't detract from the story for me. 

 

Robert Nieman was the narrator for this audiobook and while I really loved his narration for the previous audiobook that I listened to by him. This one wasn't working as well for me but I can't really say that has as much to do with the narrator as it does with the fact that while I liked this story I didn't fall over the moon in love with it. The only thing that bothered me that is directly related to the narration was the fact that while Robert was suppose to be British he really didn't have a British accent nor did his mother or any of the other secondary characters who were suppose to be British. The voices were distinct just not British.

 

'Noble Intentions' was a sweet standalone story about two men looking for solutions to the problems in their lives and what they find is that sometimes the answers to our problems come wrapped in love even when we aren't looking for it.

 

********************

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

The story was good but it was what came after that really got my attention...

Forest of Thorns and Claws - J.T. Hall

Having read the first two books in 'The Oddities' series by this author I decided that I'd like to try something different by the same author so when I saw 'Forest of Thorns and Claws' on NetGalley, it was like opportunity was knocking.

 

I liked the story well enough. It's got a solid plot about conservationist fighting to protect what is suppose to be federally protected land inhabited by rare and endangered species of both flora and fauna and unknown to the world of man it's also the home of a clan of tiger shifters. 

 

Donovan McGinnis is a veterinarian and Conservationist who along with his friend and business partner, Roark run a conservation center in Sumatra. Donovan becomes injured by a tigress when his patrol group rescues her from a poacher's snare. Donovan's life becomes even more complicated as he fights with the bureaucracy of local government to keep even more of 'Gunung Leuser National Forest' from disappearing into the pockets of big business, all while trying to understand his rapidly growing attraction to Kersen a member of the local were-tiger clan and adjust to the reality that he himself is now a were-tiger.

 

While I really enjoyed the part of the story that dealt with the battle to save the forest I think that if there had been a bit more focus given to the growth and development of the relationship between Kersen and Donovan it would have changed how much I enjoyed the story. I felt like the bond between these two men was meant to be really strong and intense and I just didn't get a sense of this from the story, so from this aspect things just didn't quite come together for me.

 

Although the book was only an ok read for me at the end of it all. What I really, really want to rave about for a minute here, if you'll just bare with me, is the fact that much of this story is based on real world events and the author has outlined it in the pages immediately following the story, something that I have to admit I read with a lot of interest. I love tigers and other wildcats. Whether it's a lion or a tiger, a cheetah or a jaguar these creatures have a beauty and grace that is incomparable. Needless to say the next thing I knew I was lost in the world of google. Learning things that quite honestly broke my heart...

 

Things like the fact that there are 5000 tigers in captivity in the United States but there are only an estimated 3,890 tigers living in the wild world wide. There are 9 different sub-species of tigers and 3 of those are extinct. Of the less than 4000 tigers, only an estimated 400 are Sumatran tigers. The Sumatran tiger is not the only tiger sub-species at risk, however, it is currently the most critically endangered.

 

What I also discovered was that while this seems so hopeless for these beautiful big cats, in 2007 the world population for the Amur Leopard numbered 30...just 30...3-0,  that's all that were known to exist and they were in Russia's 'Land of the Leopard National Park'. in 2014 that number was up to 57 plus another 8-12 were found to be living in adjacent areas of China. While this is still such a small and precarious number it gives hope that if we all take responsibility for guardianship of this world this can change for the Sumatran Tiger, the Amur Leopard and so many of the other animals of this world that man's thoughtlessness has endangered. 

 

This is just a small sample of the information that I discovered in my google research that probably never would have happened if I hadn't read this book and any book that motivates me to learn more about the world I live in is a book that I'm glad I read.

 

So in spite of the fact that this book was only a 3 star read for me. I give this author 5 stars for what motivated them to write this story and for sharing this information with the reader. It's a wonderful reminder that we all need to be conservationist in this world if we want to protect it for future generations. 

 

********************

A copy of "Forest of Thorns and Claws" was graciously provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

And the happy place continues...

Bonfires - Amy Lane, Nick J. Russo

While Mary Calmes is a tough act to follow with me. There are those who are up to the task and one of them is Amy Lane and I just happened to have the audiobook for 'Bonfires' to review so of course when opportunity knocks I always do my best to answer the door.

 

'Bonfires' is definitely an Amy Lane favorite for me and Nick J. Russo is one of my favorite narrators so there's no way I was passing on this one.  Let's start with my review of the book because it still works for me...

 

Can I just say "Holy Hell! Amy Lane, you nailed it with this one." 

 

Seriously this book was so freaking close to perfection for me. I've been trying to figure out if there was anything that was off, that I didn't care for, or would have liked if it had or hadn't been in the story and seriously folks...I got nothin'. So I'm just going to stop trying on that one.

 

I loved that the MCs were older not just one, but both of them were in their late 40s. It was excellent. Both of these MCs had been married and had kids. Aaron's a sheriff's deputy, who lost his wife in a motor vehicle accident ten years ago and Mr. Larkin or Larx as everyone calls him is principle at the local high school and they've been dancing around each other for a few years now, until Aaron sees Larx jogging at the side of the road...half naked, sweaty and just too damned sexy to resist Aaron convinces Larx that they need to start jogging together. 

 

These two men fit together so beautifully their relationship may have initially progressed at a quick pace but seriously if you're pushing 50 and you've been dancing around the person of your interest as long as these two have and you need to take mountains of time to figure things out all I can say is "Seriously? Dude get a clue and go for it." 

 

I just need to take a minute here and say one of the best things in this book for me is the fact that Aaron is bi...he's not straight and gay for you, he's unapologetically bisexual and he loved his wife. His memories of her are warm and loving and he doesn't regret a day of being with her. He is a breath of fresh air in the world of bisexual characters and he was monogamous when he was married and he wants that with Larx and Larx isn't afraid that he's going to suddenly want himself a woman one day! Am I tickled pink over this little fact...damned straight I am. 

 

As always Ms Lane gave us a rich and plentiful background of characters for this story to play out with. Some I loved Yoshi! for his name alone he was awesome never mind that he's genuinely a good person, Larx's best friend and the high school's VP and Nancy Pavelle another awesome, spitfire of a teacher, Eamon the sheriff who wants Aaron to run for sheriff when he retires gay, bi, straight he doesn't care he's sure that Aaron's the man for the job. Eamon's wife who may be an awesome cook but should never be allowed to make cookies or possibly bake. The kids between Aaron and Larx, they  have 6 and as happens in any house that's filled with love there's always room for more. 

 

Larx gardens, Aaron has chickens, they run, they joke and laugh, the have problems and as everyone with kids knows there's never enough time to be alone and sex is frequently a scheduled event that gets postponed when life adds too many demands to your 'to do' list, but still you hang in there, you work together and you plot and plan until you get the stars to align or there's a good movie playing at the theater an hour away. Of course this all takes a little more effort when you get dead bodies and students getting assaulted while other students are working to make like a living hell for everyone added to life's everyday demands.

 

This one had it all everyday life, love, romance, teenagers, murder, mayhem, friends from heaven, parent's from hell. I can honestly say if time had permitted I would have happily gone back to page one and started reading this all over again...It was that damned good.

 

Now about the audio book...all of this plus...Mr. Russo you are awesome. Your character voices for this story were spot on! Not just Larx and Aaron but everyone, Yoshi and all those teenagers and the other secondary characters. It all worked and just made me love this story all the more. I've probably listened to more audio books with Nick Russo than any other narrator and without fail I have enjoyed ever one of them and my 'basic things I look for list' has been met and exceeded each time. In the scheme of things there are a lot of audio books and narrators that I have yet to listen to but with I feel fairly confident saying that Nick Russo is absolutely a favorite narrator for me.

 

********************

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

Mary Calmes is my happy place...

Floodgates - Michael Anthony, Mary Calmes

This one's going to be short and sweet. I read 'Floodgate' a while ago and I really liked it. Here's the link to my original review...

Floodgates (e-book review) 

When I saw the e-book on audible.com I immediately listened to the sample smiled from start to finish and added it to my cart. Wanting to have a break from things a few days ago I scrolled through my list of books and when 'Floodgates' caught my eye I knew I'd found what I needed and clicked on play.

 

Michael Anthony was the narrator for this story and while I admit that Tristan James is my narrator of choice for Mary Calmes audiobooks. I was pleasantly surprised to find that I really enjoyed this narrator and won't hesitate to listen to other audio books narrated by Mr. Anthony or to replay 'Floodgates' and enjoy it again.

Age doesn't always bring wisdom with it...

Imperfect Harmony - Jay Northcote

"Imperfect Harmony" is a wonderful second chance story about to men who for all intents and purposes on paper shouldn't work but they do...sometimes opposites do attract. 

 

John is 19 years older than Rhys. He's already lost too much and keeps the world at a distance trying to keep the hurt away. But the world has a way of only letting a person have so much distance and when John's neighbor finally lures him into choir practice one day the world presents him with Rhys, he's young, he's got blue hair and tattoos and he can sing...like an angel. Sometimes the world fights dirty...music is John's weakness and little by little as he finds himself returning to choir practice with his neighbor he begins to realize how much he's missed having music in his life. 

 

It's their shared love of music that slowly draws these two men together. But it's the growing attraction that keeps them both wanting more than just choir practice time with each other. This could have been an over the top angst fest but instead it was sweet story about two men each dealing with their own grief while helping the other through theirs. 

 

The interaction between these two men was good, it was fun and sexy with serious moments and glimpses into their past and made even better with the addition of seeing John and Rhys interact with the other people in their lives as well...John with his neighbor, co-workers and other choir members and Rhys with his family, members in his choir group and the seniors at the retirement home where he goes every week to lead the residents in a sing-along. An event that he ultimately convinces John to join him in. 

 

It's all these little interactions that come together to create a picture of two men who are each kind and caring in their own ways, giving of themselves to the people around them and freely sharing kindness and making lives a little brighter but never realizing that they deserve to be happy too.  

 

Sometimes the road back from grieving can seem like it's all uphill until the right person takes your hand and starts to walk with you. 

 

I love a good second-chance story and "Imperfect Harmony" was a wonderful second chance story and it was only further enhanced in the audio book through the excellent narration provided by Mark Steadman. The 'basics list' was easily checked off and the voices fit readily into my perceptions of how these characters would sound adding a further dimension to the story and allowing me to enjoy things all the more. 

 

Whether it's an e-book or an audio book a good story is a good story and this good story is worth enjoying no matter what format you choose.

 

********************

An audiobook of "Imperfect Harmony" was graciously provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Sometimes things just work...

Arrows Through Archer - Nash Summers

I have to admit I'm head over heels in love with this book and honestly I'm not totally sure how to explain why, so I'm probably going to just ramble a little here.

 

Have you ever read a book and loved it just really loved it and had someone ask you why? And then you find that you don't really have a definitive reason. All you can say is 'because I did' that's pretty much what I'm feeling here. I know I've read books that are as good maybe even better but they didn't connect with me the way this one did. They didn't make me feel the way this one did. 

 

Was it well written? Obviously I think it was and truthfully from as objective of a viewpoint as I can give I'm sure it was. Have I read books that were written better? Probably, I've been reading for around 50 years now so I'm sure there's a good chance that I've read books that technically speaking were better written and some of them I'm sure I liked as much or more than this one but I also know that there a fair number that I probably couldn't tell you much more about them, than the author's name and the book title, partly because it's been a long time since I read them but mostly because they didn't make a place in my heart the way this one did.

 

So what else do I know about this for sure, well I know I reallyliked the characters...

 

Archer grabbed my heart and shredded it from the first page and he also made me want to mother him...yep, it's milk and cookies time. He's had some really crappy things happen in his life and he's struggling so hard to deal with it all and I felt that. I mean seriously felt it. It was like a sucker punch to my heart.

 

And Mallory. He's the father of Archer's best friend, Danny. Mallory's fighting his own emotional demons, but when Danny drags Archer home for Thanksgiving, Mallory finds he likes his company and the two men become comfortable with each other almost immediately...no we're not talking insta-love or even lust here and that's probably one of the things that I can clearly say contributed to how much I liked this book.

 

The comfort level between these men, while it was quickly established it wasn't an excessive over the top thing. It was that day to day thing that happens to any of us when we meet a person. I know every time I meet a new person how comfortable I feel with them varies. The first time I met my best friend we started chatting like we'd known each other for years there was no awkwardness, we just started talking. The same with one of my son's friends from the minute he walked into our home he became one of my kids and yet ironically my son's partner and I took time to get to that level of comfort...don't get me wrong I adore that girl and heaven help anyone who hurts her because I am a momma lion and she is as much mine as my son is. Ok, I think I've made my point and hopefully it explains a bit about why I loved this story so much...simply put it was little things like this that added realism to the story for me. 

 

On a more obvious l note and just one more little thing that added to my enjoyment was the setting, most of this story takes place in Banff, Alberta, CANADA and if you know anything about me you know that I am Canadian and Banff is practically in my backyard it's less than a 10 hour drive so of course I've been there...I've been to the Tim Horton's that Mallory and Archer went to for coffee...l know if you've read the book you're probably thinking this girls crazy there is no mention of Tim Horton's but you see there is...Mallory went through a drive-thru window and ordered Timbits and 2 regular coffees and there's only one place in Banff that you can do that.  I know that every book can't be set in Canada and certainly not in places that I'm familiar with but needless to say when they are I also know that I can enjoy the hell out of it and I did.

 

I'm not sure where this author makes her home but if she's not from the Banff, Alberta area. She's either spent some time there or does really good research because her descriptions totally nailed the beauty of the place and I really just want to say thank you for that Ms Summers it was yet another little thing that added to my love of this story.

 

'Arrows Through Archer' is not my first read from this author but it is definitely my favorite and one that I honestly hope to revisit. There was a balance to this one that I often look for in a story...there were bad times...heartache, sadness and loss, but there was also good stuff...love, joy and hope. It balanced and when it's done right like it was here the overall tone of the story creates a warm and harmonious imprint on my heart in a way that while hard to define is still very solid and real.  

 

So that's my ramble. I have some very definite things that I know made this story enjoyable but truthfully those things aren't what I connected so strongly with, they helped but it wasn't what sealed the deal for me. I think it comes down to the fact that sometimes things just work and just like with the people in our lives we love who and what we love and reasons aren't really necessary.

 

********************

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

The book wowed me and the audio book wowed me even more...

Training Season - Leta Blake

I read this one back in February of 2014 so when the opportunity arose to review the audio book and I saw that the narrator was Michael Ferraiuolo...well I was all over that one because he's fast becoming a favorite audio book narrator for me. 

 

So in terms of the story my original review still holds good and is attached here...

I love it when a book surprises me and this one did exactly that. It was a wonderful surprise. It went from being a pleasant, enjoyable story to "OH MY GOD, I cannot put this book down!"

At the beginning things were ok and as anyone who has read my updates know my only peeve was Matty, not the character the name. Try as I might I could not shake the image that to me a Matty is a 5 year old boy. I know it's my personal issue, but it's there and if you've read the book you know there are scenes where no 5 year old boy belongs, so for me there was that. But putting that aside and chanting my mantra of "Matty is a big boy." I got through it.

Now the important part the story, it was sweet and sexy, heartbreaking and romantic and sometimes so incredibly intense I felt swamped by the emotions being played out.

There were a host of wonderful characters in this book aside from Matty & Rob who were just incredible together. These two characters came together like a piece of perfection. I loved Matty's family, loving and supportive as a family should be, his friend Elliot, totally an over the top diva but also a staunchly loyal friend, Rob's friend, Billie and his roommate with benefits who he might have liked a little Angus, Anja, his other best friend and the mother of their son Ben and so many other minor characters who filled out this story and gave it life. This was a story that was also heartbreakingly grounded in reality for Matty and that left this reader with a very real message...Sometimes finding your happiness isn't about getting what you want, it's about grabbing on to what life has given you and realizing that we all make our own happiness.

I'm just going to add some thoughts about the narration and honestly I could just sum it up with 'Michael Ferraiuolo was awesome. I love the voices he gave to all the characters especially Rob and Matty's skating coach persona of 'Yuliya Yasneyeva' that voice was total perfection.

 

Mr. Ferraiuolo ticked all my basic requirements when it came to what I want in an audio book to perfection. The voices were clear, distinct, unique, expressive ...in a nutshell I was a happy, happy girl listening to this one and I see a re-read...err, listen? I'm never quite sure what word to use for this but it's gonna' happen again...soon, this ones going on my 'Play It Again Sam' list and if 'Training Complex' comes out on audio and Michael Ferrauiolo is narrating it I'll happily review that baby two and march off to audible.com credit card in hand to get me a copy...I care not how it happens just that it does.

 

'Training Season' is a very positive example of the fact that while a bad listening experience can spoil a good read for the listener the opposite is equally true. I loved the book but having Michael Ferraiuolo bring the characters to life through his reading added an extra level of enjoyment for me and this awesome 4 star read is now a glowing 5 star read.

********************

An audio book of 'Training Season' was graciously provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Where do you go once you leave Collars & Cuffs behind...

Before You Break - K.C. Wells, Katrina Parker Williams

‘Before You Break’ is the first book in a new series by K. C. Wells and Parker Williams entitled ‘Secrets’. ‘Secrets’ is in fact a spin off series from the authors’ very popular ‘Collars & Cuffs’ series. While it really isn’t necessary to read that series in order to enjoy this first book and I’m proof of that as I haven’t read the original series yet.

 

I have to admit I can see where parts of this book would have been more enjoyable had I read the original series…like the scene where a group of the characters from ‘Collars & Cuffs’ visit ‘Secrets’ on it’s opening night…not really required to know the background on all of these characters since, with the exception of Eli and Jarod, none of them factor into the main plotline between Ellis and Wayne, the MCs in ‘Before You Break’.

 

I admit it’s just a quirky little thing of mine that I love it when characters from books that I’ve read previously show up in the book I’m reading at the moment, it makes me all happy and bouncy…so, had I read ‘Collars &Cuffs’ I would have had my happy bouncy moment. However, it still made me smile and want to read Collars & Cuffs as soon as possible…so not a fail.

 

‘Before You Break’ is a steamy friends to lovers story and starts off around the same time that Eli and Jarod arrive in London to begin the next step in their lives together as the owners of London’s newest BDSM club, Secrets. I really liked this couple and look forward to reading the book that covers their story, but enough about them. I want to talk about Ellis and Wayne.

 

Ellis and Wayne are members of London’s Specialist Firearms unit and best mates they have been for the past 6 years. Their friendship was immediate from their first meeting when they were partnered together. But what Ellis doesn’t realize is that Wayne’s also in love with him and Wayne’s a DOM. Ellis knows that Wayne’s gay and while Ellis is supposedly straight…sexuality isn’t what defines their relationship.

 

I felt a little skeptical as to how this was going to be even slightly believable and was pleasantly surprised when I realized that in general this story was working for me.

 

One of the main things that made this all come together for me was the fact that while Wayne may have been gay and a DOM and in love with Ellis, I also felt that Wayne’s heart was in the right place. Sure, he wanted it all with Ellis but his first priority for me felt like it was Ellis’s well being. He wanted to help him get himself back on track because as Ellis’s best friend he could see how out of control Ellis was spinning and while he didn’t feel that a D/s relationship was or should be a replacement for any kind of therapy he also knew that his friend was resistant to the idea of therapy so it felt like his hope was that he could help get Ellis grounded and put some discipline and structure back into his life. It felt like Ellis’s well being was what came first for Wayne.


I liked the changes and growth that came between these two men as Ellis learned to trust Wayne in ways that he had never really considered before and I loved seeing Wayne step up not only as he introduced Ellis tot what it meant to truly be in a D/s relationship but as Wayne’s protective instincts took over and he helped Ellis navigate the minefield that was his family.

 

Ellis’s family…as families go was more than a little messed up and it was the strength of Wayne’s love, trust and faith in Ellis that helped him to make the changes necessary to preserve his well being both mentally and physically.

 

‘Before You Break’ was a solid start for this series and I look forward to seeing what happens next for all of these men, Jarod and Eli, Ellis and Wayne as well as any new characters that are introduced and taking a jump back and getting myself caught up with ‘Collars and Cuffs’ where it all began. If you’ve read, Collars and Cuffs’ I think you’ll enjoy this next part of the journey and, if like me you haven’t, you can jump in here and go forward without reading the first series but if it’s as good as this why miss out? I know I’m not going to.

 

********************


An ARC of ‘Before You Break’ was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Second verse...same as the first...

Trust Me - K.C. Wells

only with a different narrator.

 

'Trust Me' is the second book in K. C. Wells 'Lightening Tales' and while it was probably more of a 3.75 stars which I would have rounded up to 4. I enjoyed the story part of things. 

Connor and Ric were best friends and as they got older they drifted apart. Years later they're brought back at a friends wedding and while somethings have changed their mutual attraction to each other has not.

 

Once again at 2 hrs 26 min or 89 pages, 'Trust Me' is a short but sweet and well told story of second chances as Connor and Ric find their way back together amidst the turmoil of a broken engagement...Connor's, broken promises and abandoned vows...Ric's. Throughout the story we are treated to glimpses of Alex and Connor. 

 

While 'Trust Me' is a short story it's also complete. We are left with two friends who have found their way back to each other as lovers and have their feet firmly planted on the road leading to an HEA. 'Trust Me' was again a new to me narrator named Robbie D who surprisingly produced voices very much like the ones in the first book so my inner 12 year old came out to have another gigglefest over what should have been hot and sexy love scenes but instead became overly excited 12 year old and drama queens.

 

So for me this one was also a 4 star story with 2 star audio and just like the first book there are more reviews on audible.com and you should read them and listen to the audio sample as well before deciding whether this one is for you or not.

 

 

Proof that the voice can either make it or break it...

Teach Me - K.C. Wells

'Teach Me' is the first book in K. C. Wells 'Lightening Tales' and at 2 hours & 26 minutes on audio and 73 pages for the e-book it's a fairly quick listen/read no matter how you do it.  

 

I hesitated on this one because I'm really, really not a fan of romance stories where there's a power imbalance before things even start and in this case it's a teacher/student dynamic but there were a couple of things that saved this one for me. The first one being that there was nothing between this couple during the time that they were in fact teacher and student and the age gap was definitely within my 10 - 15 year comfort zone. Nick may  have been Alex's first crush but as a young man and a student he was never bold enough to act on his feeling.

 

I loved that the relationship between these two started off slow. Nick comes across Alex as he's leaving town after coming out to his parents, who were less than accepting of his news leaving Alex with the realization that if he's ever going to truly be himself it wouldn't happen living in his parents house. Nick offers Alex a place to stay where he'll be safe and able to get his feet under him.

 

For Nick it's a chance to have someone around...someone who becomes not only company that he enjoys but a friend. It's during this time that both men begin to realize that their feelings go beyond the boundaries of friendship. I loved how supportive and helpful Nick tried to be but never felt that he was trying to be controlling and Alex while appreciative of Nick's help was never made to feel obligated and we got to see him as Nick's equal in the friendship and comfort that he brought to Nick as he worked through emotional issues from his past.

 

'Teach Me' was a solid 4 star story for me...unfortunately what fell short was the audio portion. Rob Drex was the narrator on this one and he's a new to me narrator and unfortunately one that just didn't work for me. For the most part the voices just didn't feel right to me and sometimes characters went from sounding like an overly excited 12 year old to an over the top drama queen all in the course of a few sentences. But I have to admit what really did me in was the sex scenes it's been a while since I listened to an audio book where the sex scenes which I'm fairly certain should have been 'hot 'n steamy' had my inner 12 year old coming out for a good giggle fest.

 

Narrators are such a personal issue in my viewpoint and I know from checking out reviews on audible.com that some listeners really enjoyed this one. So while this audio book didn't work for me on the audio level. The story was really good and I very much enjoyed it, 4 stars for the story and 2 for the audio and we'll call it day with an overall rating of 3.

Well this is a first...

The Ties That Bind - H. Davidson

I really gave this one a lot of consideration once I'd finished reading it and ultimately I came to the decision that for a number of reasons in spite of the fact that I did finish this book, I won't be rating or reviewing it. 

 

'The Ties That Bind' turned out not to be the book for me.  While I found that I was able to appreciate the story that the author wanted to tell there was just too much of it that didn't work for me.  So at the end of it all I have to admit that for the first time since I started writing book reviews I've decided that I'm going to take a pass on reviewing this one.

Surprise! We had a buddy read for this one...

Call the Coroner - Avril Ashton

A long time ago when the author first announced this book Ele and I said..."Whoa! We need to read this together." and the lovely Christelle waved her hand and said 'me too' and we said 'of course' than the devil in us all said..."Josy needs to join us." Josy being sweet and trusting said 'Ok, if you think I should.' and we all smiled and said "Of course you should." and than Simone said "I shall stalk you." to which we all replied "AWESOME" or something like that. But however, it went I am so, so glad these awesome ladies joined me for this...uuummm...eeerrr...weeellll...rather interesting adventure.

 

Now I have to admit you're going to get the lazy version on this one. I feel like I've done little more than write reviews this week which also means I must have read and/or listened to a few books/audiobooks or what the hell would I be reviewing, right?  Ok, here goes.

 

Basically 'Call the Coroner' is about two guys who well...for want of a better description are 'kinda twisted'. There's Daniel Nieto who wants Stavros Constantinople dead and then there's Stavros...and Stavros is...well he's just a little wrong in the head. Trust me what Stavros calls 'foreplay most people call torture.' and somehow together these two men are 'hot' incredibly, hella, hella hot!!! I mean folks we went from 'I'm having a cold shower' to 'do you think I can get an iceburg expressed to my house?' that's some hot right there. On top of all this there was Syren and if you've read any of the series that lead up to this book you know who Syren Rua is and can I just say 'manties' in case anyone needs a memory jog.

 

Ok so lots of hotness and Syren Rua...life is good...oh, come on now we're talking Daniel and Stavros....you know all hell's going to break loose and it does. 

 

Bottom line I loved this book and if you've read it and loved it than you know there's a place for all of us. We've got rooms reserved with lovely white jackets...the arms are a little long and walls feel a bit rubbery but if you bring you're e-reader we can have some awesome buddy reads. Now seriously folks this one was fun...no it's nothing I ever want to encounter or see happen in real life. It's fiction and sometimes reading those stories that allow us to take a walk down a darker path with characters who have the strength and maybe that little touch of cray, cray that enables them to endure and survive what happens is just the break we need from everyday life. 

 

Whatever the reason I unapologetically, 100% enjoyed this one. So thank you beautiful ladies for sharing this dark and slightly warped adventure with me and a momento of our time together...sometimes we come up with songs because of a certain scene in the book or a character, the reasons aren't always the same but for this one here are the songs...

This is for Daniel and Stavros if you've read the book, then probably no explanation is needed...

Mama by MCR

 

This one felt like it suited the dynamics of the rather unusual triangle that is Stavros, Daniel & Petra...

Ghost of You by MCR

 

and this one is for Daniel and Stavros...

Bring Me to Life by Evanescence

 

this last song is for Stavros and I thought of it because of a conversation that he had with Daniel it was at the 83% mark for me, if you want to wait until you've read past that point so that this will really make sense.

One More Day by Diamond Rio

 

Ok that's if for me for now. I loved 'Call the Coroner' and my take on it is that it's probably going to be a love it or hate it type of book. Honestly I'll be surprised if there's a lot of middle ground on this one. But that's often how it goes with books that reach to extremes and I think this is one of those books. 

Currently reading

A Destiny of Dragons by By (author) TJ Klune
Willow Man by John Inman
Naamah's Curse ( Moirin Trilogy, #2) by Jacqueline Carey
Progress: 30%
A Madness of Angels by Kate Griffin
Progress: 49%
Side Jobs: Stories from the Dresden Files by
Progress: 16%