...Bookfanatic

 

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

A new dragon story by a new to me author...

The Dragon's Rebel - Jacqueline Rohrbach

I love dragons...my family will tell you 'I love dragons' my friends will also tell you that I love dragons...so when one of those friends poked me and said 'hey, have you seen this. It's a new dragon story and you can get it from NetGalley.' that's exactly what I did. 

 

This is the first book I've read by this author and I was to say the least suitably impressed not only did she give me a dragon story that I enjoyed...she created a dragon that I would honestly love to read more about.

 

Cheron was simply a rebel leader but now he's a newly crowned king and he's a king on a mission that takes him to the kingdom of Wren Gardens where he hopes to find what he needs to free his goddess. What he finds instead is a very alluring and intriguing love slave named Ekos...a love slave who seems to be more than he appears.

 

It soon becomes clear to Cheron that Ekos has his own mission but what remains to be seen is can Cheron trust Ekos and will his mission destroy them all.

 

I loved how spirited Ekos was and how he interacted with Cheron it was very much a love to hate or maybe that was hate to love relationship between these two. Throughout the story no matter how they tried or didn't try they were perpetually being thrown together and found themselves to be allies sometimes willingly...sometimes, not so much.

 

As well as Cheron and Ekos, I found myself quite taken with Lion and his connection to Ekos was surprising in a very delightful way.

 

Even more than the characters and trust me I loved the characters what impressed me with this story was the world building. Usually if an author's going to lose me in a fantasy story this is where it's most likely to happen and not only did she not lose me but I thoroughly enjoyed this aspect of the story. Everything was vividly brought to life for me from the clothes that were worn to the king of Wren Gardens private gardens which seriously could have stayed private as far as I was concerned that king was one seriously sick and twisted dude.

 

As much as I love dragons though I can also say that I'm not a fan of dark fantasy and while I can't say that I'd label this one as dark fantasy for me it was definitely a fantasy story that leaned strongly towards the dark side, which i very much enjoyed in spite of this. I think the one thing that maybe could have worked better for me would have been if the romance was a little bit stronger at times but still the story was solid and overall I quite enjoyed it and I'll be watching to see what else this author has that will catch my eye.

 

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A copy of 'The Dragon's Rebel' was graciously provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

There are four seasons in a year and...

Season's of Love - Carol Lynne

Four seasons to love...

 

'In Seasons of Love' and just like nature's seasons love begins with 'spring' when like the flowers love begins to bloom for Sidney and Nash. 

 

I admit this was a bit of a challenge for me because of the age difference or more specifically the ages at which the MCs first met. Sidney was all of 10 years old, but before you panic...ok, before I panicked I reminded myself of a couple of things one I've read many books by this author and nope that shi*t won't be happening in one of her books and two sometimes ya just gotta' have faith and I did. Let me just say Ms. Lynne handled the age difference very well.  During the first 10+ years of Sidney and Nash's relationship it was more of a big brother/protector dynamic and Sidney needed someone to protect him because to his last breath Sidney's father was a total, absolute, abusive, douche of a father and sadly Sidney's mother died when he was only 10 years old...yeah, there's a connection there. 

 

It's also worth noting that Sidney's feelings of love towards Nash manifested first. Nash truly felt that he was too old for the ever determined and persistent Sidney, who was determined that for him...Nash was the one.

 

I very quickly became a fan of these two men. I loved seeing their relationship change as Nash went from being Sidney's champion and protector, to being his best friend and ultimately his lover and always the constant in his life. The one person that Sidney could count on to be there for him, to have his back and be supportive when he needed it.

 

As with the seasons of the year, Sidney and Nash's love moves from the new bloom of Spring to Summer's heat. Both men are ready to be together as a couple and as ever Nash is Sidney's staunchest supporter and willing packs up and moves to Chicago with him to allow his career as an architect to flourish. 

 

Nash and Sidney quickly discover that with a new city and new home come new challenges that they can only hope their love is strong enough to overcome.  As with any relationship it takes two and there will always be challenges to face, it's how that's done that can determine the relationships future. 

 

As Summer's heat fades and the colors of Fall begin to appear reminding the world that nothing last forever. Nash and Sidney get their own reminders that nothing is forever nor does it remain the same and once again it's the challenges of change that test these men. 

 

Finally the cooler days of Fall give way to Winter the season that reminds us all that another year has come to an end and in this final season of their story Sidney comes to realize that while another year is coming to an end, it's within his power to make sure that this isn't the end for him and Nash. It's going to take changes to ensure that they have more time together but they're changes that Sidney can and will make. 

 

As someone who's been married for nearly 40 years (33 next month) I loved this book I was so able to relate to much of the journey that Sidney and Nash took us on and I found myself laughing and crying with these men in equal measure.

 

I've enjoyed a lot of books by this author...I've read all of her 'Cattle Valley' series and the Lobster Cove spin off, her 'Poker Night' series, 'Good Time Boys' and a whole lot more in between but 'Season's of Love' is definitely at the top of my 'favorites list' for this author.  It may not be a perfect love story, but then what story is real or fictitious...love is what you make of it and what's perfect for some isn't for others.

 

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A copy of 'Seasons' of Love' was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

It’s been a long time since I’ve indulged in an A.E. Via story…

Embracing His Syn - A.E. Via, Aiden Snow

...that is, if we’re not counting the one, I listened to the other day. Since this is the second book in a series I wanted to start at the beginning of the series so I took the time to listen to ‘Nothing Special’, the first story in this series and I came away with two solid take-aways from this experience the first one being that while you could read or listen to book #2 without benefit of book #1, I would honestly discourage doing this. I think starting at the beginning gives some background and a feeling for some of the secondary characters in this story that you wouldn’t get as clear of a picture of, if you started with ‘Embracing His Syn’ and my other take-away is Aiden Snow, the narrator for both of the audio books. Mr. Snow has done a hella’ good job with the voices for these books and for that he gets a sold 4 stars from me.

 

For the most part the men in these stories are big tough, strong alpha males and he gives them what for me are voices that help to reinforce the visuals of ‘big, strong alpha males’ without having the voices become so over the top that rather than enhance the image the author is creating could give it a comedic overtone.

 

While the first book in the series dealt with Cashel Godfrey (you can call him ‘God’) and his partner Leonidis ‘Leo’ Day (you can call him ‘Leo’ but most people called him ‘Day’) these two men are very much present in this story as well. Sometimes maybe a touch too present, but the central focus in ‘Embracing His Syn’ is the relationship between the newest addition to the Atlanta Narcotics Task Force…Sergeant Corbin ‘Syn’ Sydney (and yes, most people call him ‘Syn’) and one sexy tattooed bartender Furious Barkley (and yes, most people call him ‘Furi’).

 

I’m just going to take a sentence or two to address what for me was ‘the elephant in the room’ and that’s the names…especially God, Syn & Furi…I know, I know they’re suppose to be all tough and cool and maybe it’s just me so let’s just say “it’s me and be done with it” but for whatever reason it just felt like everyone was trying too hard with the tough guy nicknames.

 

Ok, so on to more important things like the actual story. ‘Embracing His Syn’ is one of those stories that you enjoy just for the sake of enjoying a hot and steamy romance with a little action...ok, maybe more than a little.

 

I found Syn and Furi to be an intriguing match…Syn who’s never really been in a relationship with Furi a man who’s not only fresh out of a relationship but an abusive one no less. While Syn initially seems reluctant to get involved with someone much less another man, he’s also not willing to just walk away from the attraction that he feels to Furi, just as Furi initially is reluctant to give Syn a chance. He also seems to find the inner strength to be willing to take a chance and while at times we’re shown a side of Furi that tells the tale of someone who’s been a victim we also see the side of him that shows a strong individual who may have been a victim at one time but who’s equally determined not to be the victim anymore.

 

No matter how good or bad a story might be one of the things I enjoy the most is the challenge of finding those moments when a character faces the choice of ‘how far, is too far? And have they reached it yet?’ Often the answers aren’t clear cut, nor are they always obvious and as the story progresses Syn repeatedly faces this question when it comes to Furi’s safety.

 

There’s a lot that can happen between the covers of a book that will entertain and delight me but if it happens in the real world not only would I be surprised but you’d probably find me giving it a big ‘oh hell no!’. Frequently stories like ‘Embracing His Syn’ tend to deviate from what most of us can safely assume will happen in the real world, when it comes to how the ‘good guys’ operate. It’s pretty much a given that the bad guys (criminals) aren’t going to follow the rules because like it or not rules weren’t made for the criminal element…I mean honestly if they followed the rules, they wouldn’t be criminals …would they? It’s a fine line and in a couple of instances while I know in the real world I would have been appalled if Syn had crossed that line here within the confines of a book I also found myself thinking…’I can’t say that I’d blame him if he did.’ Ironically just like it sometimes happens in real life…it’s thanks to people in his life who matter most to him and to whom he truly matters that Syn sees how far is too far before he takes those final steps that would take him from enforcing the law to breaking it.

 

The audio book ‘Embracing His Syn’ is  a well narrated, sexy, action-filled story about hot men in law enforcement keeping their city safe and finding love along the way and while this one didn’t garner 5 stars from me it was an intriguing story that offered 11+ hours of listening entertainment.

 

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An audiobook of ‘Embracing His Syn’ was graciously provided courtesy of ‘Signal Boost Promotions’ in exchange for an honest review.

'Love's Magic' is the story of how 1 event touches 4 lives, leaving them forever altered...

Love's Magic - Janice Jarrell, Adam Hall,  Andrew Penman,  Ans Westra,  Bill Manhire,  Boh Runga,  Catriona Williams,  David Fagan,  Dick Frizzell,  Fiona Pears,  Gareth Farr,  Dame Gillian Whitehead,  Richard Nunns,  Sam Johnson,  Sarah Walker,  Selina Marsh,  Steve Gurney,  Swee Tan S

From the bigger picture issue of sexual assault and violent crimes in the setting of academia, Janice Jarrell takes us into the lives of four men, giving us a very up close and personal look at how one act of violence touches their lives...bringing them together, driving them apart, making each man look more closely at what he has, what he could loose and ultimately what he's willing to do to keep it.

 

'Love's Magic' isn't an epic or grand action or romance story, but rather it's a story about how one event unfolded to touch the lives of four men.  We begin with David and Nate, who are in a committed relationship at the start of the story and we follow them as they each struggle to deal with Nate's attack. While each man's reaction to events is distinctly different their love for each other and their desire not to give up on the relationship that means so much to them remains strong within their hearts. It's going to take a lot of introspection on both of their parts to find their way back to each other. 

 

When Professor David Gardener gets a call telling him that Professor Nate Reese, the man he lives with and loves more than life itself has been seriously injured preventing the assault of one of the college's students all he can think about is getting to his lover. What neither David nor Nate could possibly foretell was how much their lives and the lives of those around them would be affected.

 

As the reader, or in this case the listener, follows David and Nate, while each man deals with the effects of Nate's attack in their own way we are introduced to a number of secondary characters and while our look at the effects on their lives isn't as in depth as that of David and Nate it is undeniably present from the strain it creates between David and his fellow professors to the bond that forms between Nate and the guardian of the student he rescued to how it draws Sergeant Colin Campbell from the campus police  and Dr. Joshua Abrams, the colleges Title IX Consultant, together...ultimately becoming the catalyst that pushes them apart leaving Colin on his own to deal with the memory of events from his past that could keep him from having the future that in his heart he knows he wants with Joshua. 

 

Ms Jarrell has created four characters that are all very likable and by the end of this story I was a fan of all four men...each of them containing their own admirable traits and imperfections...making all of them seem not just human but so very likable and real. While the focus of the story is David and Nate along with Colin and Joshua the author also weaves other characters into the story giving a more thorough and well rounded picture of the story's events along with who and how their lives were touched. At the end of it all we are essentially given David and Joshua's story with a solid HEA and we are left with Colin and Joshua in a good place. 

 

If you’re looking for a steamy, sex fixes everything story than I have to admit you’re probably going to be disappointed. That’s not to say that there aren’t any sexy times here but the sex in this one is very much a part of the relationships and often times almost fade to black and not a driving force of the story. This ones definitely more plot driven than sex dependent and if you’re a fan of stories where it take more than some dazzling sex for the MCs to be able to overcome obstacles and get their lives on track than I think maybe like me, you won’t be disappointed.

 

I'm not really sure what I was expecting when I started this one but what I got was a story that drew me in, was compelling, realistic and told with very believable characters and was narrated by new to me narrator Walker Williams, who did a superb job of giving added depth and emotion to both the story and the characters while bringing them to life. While his overall narration was enjoyable for me his voices for David, Nate, Colin and Joshua connected incredibly well with each of the characters and meshed perfectly with the images that I had in my mind. So in the end what I was given was a story that I loved and that I’m looking forward to continuing with more of in regards to Colin and Joshua but if David and Nate turn up from time to time you can be sure that this listener/reader will be doing a bit of a happy dance.

 

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An audio book of "Love's Magic" was graciously provided by the 'Gay Book Promotions' in exchange for an honest review.

You know that moment...the one where things can be saved or lost...

Trusting Cade (Custos Securities #1) - Luna David, Tristan James

This one probably ended up closer to 2.5 than 3 stars for me but there's no 1/2 stars here and I'm not feeling like I want to split hairs so I'm calling it a day at 3 stars.

For the most part this one was ok and I liked it. Tristan James was the narrator so no problems there as far as I'm concerned. Mr. James is one of those narrators who never fails to provide me with an enjoyable audio experience when it comes to the audio portion of things.

 

As for the story there were two issues that really dragged this story down for me...the first one was the insta-love and folks we are talking insta-love here. This was probably one of the fastest cases of love at first sight on record. It whipped by so fast that it feels like I've got a case of whiplash which resulted in the fact that for me the connection just wasn't there.

 

There were a couple of times when Cade felt like Braden didn't have as much faith in him as he should and Cade was all "You should know by now..." and there sits me going "He should know what by now? He's had the relationship from hell and it's still stalking him, he's known you for 5 f*ing minutes and you think he should know what? That you're the end all, be all of boyfriends?" sorry but I think Cade needed to get over himself a little.

 

My second issue was in regards to the events that transpired when they were searching for Braden...I've already had my little rant about that in an earlier comment so for now I'm just going to say that 'not only was it unbelievable at times it was also laughable' and not in a good way. This should have been a very dramatic and pivotal point in the story. It was the perfect chance for the author to make, what was until then an average story into something better...it was the the moment when things could have been saved or lost...unfortunately for me it was the moment when things were well and truly lost and the story became locked in as being less than the solid 3 stars that it was until that point.

 

Now having said all of that I'm off to the second part of Cade and Braden's story in 'Protecting Braden' so there's still a chance for the author to win me back. I'm willing to keep an open mind and she's already got a point in her favor because this one is also narrated by Tristan James...so, I know it's a win for the narration but I'll just have to wait and see how the story goes.

I wish this had worked better for me but sadly...

Protecting Braden (Custos Securities Series Book 2) - Luna David, Tristan James Mabry

if anything I liked it even less than the first book. The story had potential but unfortunately it got lost in the execution. I wanted characters that had depth and dimension, people who were relatable and felt real...sadly what I got felt pretty flat.

 

'Protecting Braden' was 10 hours and 30 minutes of a story that probably could have been told in 4 if we didn't have to listen to Cade and Braden repeatedly tell the world just how wonderful the other one was and how lucky they were to find each other and how much they loved each other...seriously I got the message after the first dozen or so times that I heard it and after a while I was definitely beginning to wonder who they were really trying to convince.

 

Unfortunately in spite of all the drama of Braden once again being kidnapped, people being shot, Braden back in the hospital yet again and on and on. Somehow it always felt like Cade and Braden were just carrying on with their ideal little lives and everything was sunshine, lollipops and roses and nothing really touched them...there were no gut clenching, riveting moments that left me feeling like anybody was ever truly at risk and considering some of what happened in this story...that's really kind of sad.

 

So, while I've still got the third book to listen to and as much as I do enjoy the narrator for this series I think I'm just going to tuck my rose colored glasses away for a bit and give this one a break before tackling that last story that hopefully will work a bit better for me...it's not the same MCs so I'm going to remain ever the optimist on this one.

I've been thinking about this one...

Where the Allegheny Meets the Monongahela - Felicia Watson, Jeff Gelder

and I have to admit I'm still feeling a torn about how I feel about this story. I think it's admirable that the author tackled the subject matter that she did and yes, this was a longer than usual story, but, I think it needed to be in order to appropriately deal with the issues. At just over 9 hours it was by no means the longest audio book that I've encountered and overall I didn't find my attention wandering so definitely points in the books favor.

 

There were aspects of the story that I struggled with and I think that at least some of this is a case of geographical issues. I'm from Canada so I'm really not well versed in the differences in laws and guidelines followed by agencies in the US but in my part of the world Logan would never...I repeat never have been allowed to run a class for victims of domestic violence as he was in this story...regardless of whether it happened one time or a dozen he abused his wife and 'anger management issues' does not excuse it. If anything it increases the odds of the abuse being repeated.

 

Yet at the same time I felt badly for Logan...he's a character who is very much a product of his environment and sadly had he been raised in a different environment than he was it's very possible that for one thing the abuse might never have happened and two...Logan wouldn't have been raised in an environment that fostered homophobia and in his own way Logan's behavior was motivated by homophobic ideals but thankfully he was also able to re-evaluate his ideals and see them for what they were.

 

I also had an issue with Trudy, Logan's counselor...truthfully more often than not I felt like she was pushing her agenda more so than helping Logan to deal with his problems and work through his issues and while he was in counselling because it was court mandated I never seemed to reach that point where it felt like Logan was beginning to understand that he did have issues that he needed help dealing with and that things were shifting from a must do situation in Logan's mind to a situation of 'I need this and it's helping me'. Logan's relationship with Trudy never held the positive or constructive sense that a patient/counselor relationship should hold. Logan consistently conveyed a sense of resentment when it came to Trudy with his anger at having to attend the sessions and at Trudy's 'intrusive' questioning of how he felt about things and for less tangible reasons I found that I wasn't overly impressed with Trudy and quite honestly if I'd been Logan I'm not sure that I wouldn't have asked for a change of counselor... overall this relationship just didn't work for me.

 

While some things didn't work for me there were also things that worked such as how much Logan wanted to be able to see his daughters again and ultimately his realization of how his behavior could impact his daughter's ideas of how a relationship should be. The picture we are given of how much Logan's children meant to him was for me a really big redeeming quality in his favor along with his realization that irregardless of how he felt about his wife, he wasn't the only one who deserved better...so did she.

 

Nick's relationship with his mother and how things between he and his father were portrayed along with this the part of the story what really worked the best for me was the relationship development between Nick and Logan. Overall, I was comfortable with how things played out between them and that it wasn't all sunshine and rainbows made for a very realistic relationship between these two men and yes, I have to admit it 'thank the writing gods it wasn't insta-love, it seems like a number of the books that I've read lately have been based on this and it was just really nice to read a story where it took some time and effort for the MCs to get to know each other, like each other and have that become something deeper with a stronger bond. I'm not saying there's no such thing as love-at-first-sight but sometimes the things that are real and worth having also take time and effort and that's what it felt was happening in this story.

 

Just one more thing to mention before I chase move on to the next story and that's the narrator for this one...it was Jeff Gelder and while Mr. Gelder isn't a new to me narrator this is somewhere around the 8th of his audio book narrations that I've listened to and while I've enjoyed them all this one for me was definitely one of the better ones and he truly did an awesome job with the narration. I don't doubt that I'll listen to this one again in future.

 

And here I am at the end of things and finally feeling like I can give this a rating that I'm comfortable with so I'm going to go back up and give this 4 stars because when I compare this to other stories that I've given 3.5 stars to for me it's really a bit better than that so we're going with 4 well thought upon stars.

The title pretty much says it all for me...

Nothing Special - Aiden Snow, A.E. Via

as much as I was looking forward to this series from all the reviews that I've seen at the end of the story for me the story really was 'Nothing Special'.

 

However, while the story was only average for me the narrator Aiden Snow was above average and brought a lot to things making for a more enjoyable listen than it might have ended up being with a less talented narrator.

 

And I'm on to the next story in this series, so here's hoping that the next story is 'something special'. 

‘Single’ is the start of RJ Scott’s new series ‘Single Dads’...

Single (Single Dads #1) - R.J. Scott

Ash is the single dad we get to meet this time around. He didn’t plan it this way but his partner or the person who he thought was his partner decided that the whole family, parent thing just wasn’t for him…’whew’ thank heavens Ash and his sweet little baby girl, Mia dodged a bullet on that one.

 

While Ash had a moment or two when I admit he was a little hard to take, he was no where near as irritating as his ex…I could have totally done with out him at all…he left, wanted no part of anything and for me, he should have just stayed gone and the other thing that was a bit challenging for me was Ash’s relationship with his mother. There were things about his relationship with his mom that for me were well done and some that maybe could have been handled a bit better but then again, we can often say the same thing about real life too…can’t we?

 

In a lot of ways, I really empathized with Ash. While I wasn’t a single parent my hubby travelled for his work when our son was young and there were times, I sure felt like one. It’s a hard job, like seriously hard. Ash was a bit over the top at times with his insecurities about being a new dad and raising a child on his own. I have to admit I was reminded of my favorite mantra when my son was young and I was on my own with him…better a parent who cares too much than one that doesn’t care enough and yet…still there were times that I wanted to maybe give Ash a swift kick in the behind.

 

As well as Ash we get to meet his neighbors the sexy ER doctor Sean who sets his sights on Ash at first sight and Sean’s roommates and best friends…Eric the firefighter whose first meeting with Ash was less than impressive but definitely entertaining and Officer Leo and his adorable dog ‘Cap’. That’s right Ash has his own personal team of first responders living next door and along with his neighbors, his twin sister and the single dad’s support group that he finds for himself that includes Brady, who becomes a good friend to Ash.

 

They say it takes a village and as Ash goes from being a zombie (code talk for parent of a newborn) to a semi-functioning adult we get to share his journey as he finds his own village to help him become the competent and loving dad he wants to be and to maybe find someone who wants to take that journey with him and help him create the family that he’d envisioned having when he first started. While there wasn’t a lot of sex in this one there were still some sweet and sexy moments between these two men.

 

I loved Sean’s patience and willingness to include Mia whenever they got together. Being a single parent is hard, being a single parent trying to have a relationship…well, I know from friends who have been in that position it’s a challenge that takes a special person to make it worth the effort and that’s what Sean was for Ash he was that special person who made it worth the effort for Ash. For the most part Sean was the driving force in their relationship not that Ash was resistant more that as much as he was attracted to Sean, he was also hesitant to get involved with anyone because in his mind with being a new parent he really needed to focus on Mia and he just didn’t have the time for anything else…so, it was up to Sean to break down the barriers and show Ash that anything worth having, is worth working for and Sean was sure that Ash was worth working for and thankfully Ash did finally realize that Sean was definitely worth working for.

 

I enjoyed the fact that Sean and Ash’s relationship moved at a slower pace and they took time getting to know each other amidst all the fun day to day pieces of life that can happen. One of my favorite parts of this one was definitely the epilogue for me it was the icing on Ash and Sean’s HEA cake and the cherry on top was when we almost got to see the meeting between the MCs for the next story in this series… almost…like seriously close here folks they’re just a few feet apart…oh well, I guess we’ll see how this goes come August I know I’m looking forward to it.

 

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

‘Third Times the Charm’ was my first time reading this author...

Third Time's the Charm (Boston Seasons #1) - K. Evan Coles

...and I’m pretty sure it’s not going to be my last because at the very least be looking for the next book in this series.

 

Between running his computer programming company with his friends, being the primary caregiver for his 10-year-old niece with everything that raising a 10-year-old entails the last thing that Luke Ryan has time for is a relationship.

 

Finn Thomason’s new to Boston and with his hours in the ED at the hospital, trying to find himself a place to live and the whole reason he left Chicago there’s no way that he’s looking for a romance.

 

Yet when these two men spot each other in line at the local Starbucks and then meet again when Luke’s caught without an umbrella during a torrential downpour and stops under the awning of the nearest building to wait out the storm. Not willing to just walk away from someone that they’re so attracted to the two men decide that where there’s a will, there’s a way and some how they’ll find the much needed time to spend with each other.

 

I can only imagine how frustrating things were at times for Luke and Finn, since I found things to be more than a little frustrating at times. But my frustration was also due to the fact that I really like these two and I wanted to see them together as a couple.

 

I really can’t say that I would call this story a slow burn, it was more a case of constant progress interruptus… over and over again. You know that old saying ‘life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans’ well for Luke and Finn it was also a case of ‘Life is what happens when you’re trying to have one. While a busy life wasn’t the only problem these two faced at times there was also a definite breakdown in communication; another one of those real life things that can happen sometimes no matter how hard we try to avoid them and sometimes it seems like the harder we try the more things can break down.

 

Interestingly enough Luke’s niece turned out to be a bit of an emotional quandary for me.  I loved her bad jokes and while I wanted to like her I also felt like she was keeping me at arms length along with Finn and it was this same thing that had me thinking the author did an awesome job portraying her character since given her circumstances she really didn’t come across as a child who would be open and affectionate with the world. Ella knows the pain of having someone you love and who you should be able to depend on more than anyone else in the world leave, she’s not a bad child by any means just one who’s scared of being hurt again. So while I did get where she was coming from I still found myself getting a bit frustrated with her as well.

 

Overall I enjoyed this story there were a few moments in the pacing that just felt a bit too slow for me causing my interest to wane and ironically at the ending I almost felt like things were a bit rushed…maybe a bit of the story time could have been shifted over to add to the ending but then again if you ask me where to take that time from I’d tell you I don’t know because while there were parts of the story that the pacing seemed slow for me everything connected…so I guess when it comes right down to it, I really just wanted a bit more ending.

 

One of the things about this story that I actually enjoyed the most was just how easily it was to imagine a relationship like Luke and Finn’s happening in the real world…how many times have any of us made a comment like “there just aren’t enough hours in a day.” Well for some of us that could be a daily mantra and that’s the case with Luke and Finn. I’m really looking forward to the next book in this series with the hopes that it will fill out the ending from this book making me a very happy reader.

 

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An ARC of ‘Third Times the Charm’ was graciously provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

There’s going to a bit of fangirling going on here...

Benoit (Owatonna U #3) - R.J. Scott, V.L. Locey

So, let’s go back to the beginning and by beginning I don’t mean Ryker…nope I’m talking about Harrisburg home of the Harrisburg Railers. I was intrigued when I saw that first book for the Railers and the blurb sounded good so I figured ‘ok, I’ll give it a go’ and so far there’s been no looking back in my mind. I have loved every word of the Harrisburg Railers that I could get my hands on and from there things just flowed over to ‘Owatonna U’ where we got to know more about Ryker as he met and fell in love with Jacob.

 

From there we discovered Ryker and Jacob’s teammate and a troubled young man named Scott who’s path leads him away from hockey and straight to Hayne, an artistically talented and gently soul who sees past Scott’s troubles and finds someone worth loving…seriously I loved…abso-freakin’-lutely loved!!! Both of these books but for me Scott and Hayne’s story was just that little bit more compelling and there was just no way things were going to get better…well, I was wrong because here we are at ‘Benoit’ the final book in this series and I can honestly say as much as I loved ‘Ryker’ and ‘Scott’…’Benoit’ surpasses them both.

 

First off, we have an MC who’s Canadian and if you know me than you know I am proudly Canadian, and I am also extremely pleased that Benoit is from Quebec. Admittedly, I’m from Ontario and while I do love it here Quebec has a beauty and history to it that is uniquely it’s own. So to have this absolutely wonderful character named Benoit come not only from Canada but from one of our most beautiful provinces for me is just really special…so thank you for this, Ms Locey and Ms Scott. I’m sure any other Canadians who read this book will agree with me when I say that we would proudly claim Benoit as one of our own.

 

Now aside from the fact that I like where Benoit was born, I simply loved this character. He’s focused, determined, talented and so committed to his family. This is not a young man who’s gone off to college to party and have a good time…this is a young man who loves his family and his goal is to get drafted to the NHL so he can earn the big bucks…so that he can lead the good life…right? Nope, not Benoit…because once again for Benoit, his motivation for this comes back to family. I’d say he’s a good kid but that’s not accurate at all…he’s a young man and he’s a young man with a strong sense of responsibility to his family and in general he’s just a really good person and he’s also hot…totally sexy and hot…no really he is just ask Ethan…

 

Ethan Girard is the other half of this story…he’s 32 years old his contract with my beloved Bruins is up, I know, I know I’m Canadian what the H-E-double hockey sticks am I doing cheering for the Bruins…well, sorry but that’s another story for another day, and after breaking his leg he’s coming to realize that it’s time for him to consider the direction his life’s going in. But once again we’re not faced with someone who’s life is in some way a mess. There’re no drugs, alcohol, gambling or any of the things that are warning signs of a person spiralling out of control…nope, but at 32 years of age Ethan recognizes that he’s had a good run with the Bruins and maybe after 14 years it’s time to hang up the skates and see what else life has to offer him, but for now what better way to fill his days until he finds that direction than to help out a friend and do some coaching with his hometown team the Owatonna U Eagles.

 

Benoit and Ethan are drawn to each other from the first time they see each other…no it’s not love at first sight. It’s more a case of lust at first sight, but it’s also a lust that neither man wants to give in to. Benoit feels that he’s got more important things to focus on and Ethan tries to tell himself that he’s too old for the sexy, young goalie who’s sparked his interest…yeah, you just keep telling yourself that Ethan.

 

While Benoit is just starting his career, Ethan is considering bringing his to an end with retirement and I have to admit the juxtaposition of where each man is at in his life had me a little nervous because of the power dynamic that it had the potential to create, but thankfully controlling is not Ethan’s nature so they were able to find a balance that worked. Also the communication between these two men is pretty awesome…not to say that there’s never any misunderstanding, just that they get worked out…no drama llama’s required.

 

I realize this may all sound a little boring but trust me when I say that Benoit and Ethan are not living in a bubble and as is often the case life is what happens when we’re busy making other plans and sometimes it’s what happens when we’re not looking that derails the best laid plans. But it’s how we deal with life’s surprises that helps to form the basis of who we are and the relationships that we have; such is the case for Benoit and Ethan. 

 

As Benoit and Ethan work together to make things work between them, it’s when they get help from a few of their friends that things start to fall into place. So here’s where I get to fangirl a bit more because as much as I loved this story the icing on my cake, the cherry on my sundae was the fact that we got to spend time with some very familiar characters…such as a certain captain of the Bruins and more than a couple of Railers along with Ryker, a bit of Jacob and Benoit’s other roommates, Scott and Haney…really? How could this one possibly go wrong…it can’t, no really there’s just too much awesome for this story to be anything but ‘awesome’!

 

And now at the end of it all…with Ten and Mads’ wedding fast approaching, the men of Owatonna U going out into the world to find their way; one might wonder what comes next…well, I’ve heard a rumor that Arizona’s an interesting place to be come September so I think I’ll make like a snowbird and head down there to see what’s happening because if it’s more of what we’ve been getting…sexy hockey men with interesting stories…sign me up because I’m all in for more.

 

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An ARC of ‘Benoit’ was graciously provided by the authors in exchange for an honest review.

It's here, it's here...the big day is finally here...

Save the Date - V.L. Locey, RJ Scott

I have loved this series so much from start to finish and where we started was with Madsen and Tennant in 'Changing Lines'. and now we've come full circle to 'Save the Date' where we join Mads, Ten and pretty much the rest of the team to share in their big day...it's time for Mads and Ten to say "I do."

 

There's not a complex story line here just a lot of wedding antics, a bit of chaos and a whole lot of fun as Mads and Ten enlist the help of friends and family to help pull off a wedding to remember.

 

With only a couple of weeks left until the big day both men are going crazy they want to have the big day...not plan it and when things seem to go from bad to worse and progress doesn't seem to be getting made in the planning department...enter Trent...figure skater and planner extraordinaire.

 

It's with Trent's frenetic but well intentioned help that things start to come together and then we have Stan...best friend to Ten and the other saving grace when wedding plans keep collapsing.

 

For anyone who hasn't read this series just do it before you tackle this one. It's not that you won't be able to follow what's happening but more that it's everything that's come before that leads to this story...this day for these two men that helps to make it as special as it is.

 

I loved that as this story progressed we got a little peek at the characters from previous stories from Layton and Adler whom we met in the second book to Bryan Delaney and Gatlin Pearce the tattoo artist who won Bryan's heart in the final pairing of this series...they're all here whether it's in a more supportive role like Trent who drags Mads and Ten through the planning process...kicking and screaming so to speak or as a guest at the wedding. Mads and Ten are determined to share their big day with all of the important people in their lives...even their fans...have been invited to attend the wedding of the season. 

 

It's wedding season and this is one wedding that Railers fans won't want to miss...so take the time and enjoy the day.

 

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An ARC of 'Save the Date' was graciously provided by the authors in exchange for an honest review.

Another short but fun listen...

Mummy Dearest - Josh Lanyon,  Sean Crisden

narrated by Sean Crisden another one of my favorite narrators. It's been a while since I enjoyed a Josh Lanyon story and I really enjoyed this one so for me it was an easy choice to enjoy this story again while I was organizing some of my computer files. 'Mummy Dearest' was slated to be the first book in Josh Lanyon's 'XOXO' series and while nothing more has been released since this one, 'Mummy Dearest' is able to stand on it's own as an enjoyable short story.

 

With Sean Crisden as always providing an enjoyable narration that adds depth and interest to the characters and the story this one works really well as an entertaining and enjoyable way to pass an afternoon and if you like a touch of humor in your stories this one hits the mark in that department as well.

 

Definitely recommended for a short, fun listen when you've got a couple of hours to fill.

It's been quite a while...

Clockwork Tangerine - Rhys Ford, Greg Tremblay

...since I read this story and revisiting it through the narrations of Greg Tremblay was as always purely delightful. This one's short at just over 2 hours but if you like steampunk and a slow burn with just a bit of steamy smexy times check it out. It's an enjoyable way to pass a bit of time. Definitely recommended.

Anyone who knows me will tell you...I'm a Rhys Ford fan...

Ramen Assassin (Ramen Assassin #1) - Rhys Ford

So no big secret there and needless to say when 'Ramen Assassin' was offered up for review I wanted it...again no big secret there. I've read pretty much every word that Ms Ford has committed to paper...virtual, figurative and audio. I've read the 'Sinners', Cole McGinnis, '415 Ink.', 'Murder & Mayhem', 'Hellsinger', 'Halfmoon Bay' and on and on...Rhys Ford writes it and I read it and so far this has worked really, really well for me and this has not changed.

 

'Ramen Assassin' is the first book in a new series by Ms. Ford where were are introduced to Trey a 28 year old who's life so far has been a roller coaster of highs and lows as his career as a child actor gave him years of success that was quickly followed by a roller coaster rid of drug and alcohol abuse, numerous stays in a variety of rehab centers. Trey's life is the stuff of soap operas because along with his personal collection of bad life choices he's got the family that not only put the 'fun' in dys'fun'ctional but they sucked it right  back out again as well. After his last stint in rehab Trey swore that he was going to get his act together and he's stuck to his promise to himself and that's how he came to be on Kuro Jenkins' radar.

 

Kuro's the sexy owner of the local Ramen shop that Trey likes to frequent and jog past when the devil on his shoulder becomes too much to deal with and Trey feels the need to wear himself out with running so that he's too tired to chase the need...the addiction that courses through his veins calling to him...tempting him. When he can't stand it anymore Trey runs and when he can Kuro watches and he may lust after the sexy young man who spends his time trying to outrun his demons and seeks sustenance in his ramen shop from time to time. 

 

Trey's family has been through the mill with his escapades over the years and I get that really I do but honestly I can't help but wonder how much of their toxic behavior towards him hasn't contributed to his struggles. I get that ultimately Trey is responsible for Trey's behavior but addiction is an illness and having a family whose attitude seems to be that he's going to fail before he's ever really tried can't be very helpful.

 

But while Trey's family may have fallen short of the mark...Kuro was amazing. He believed in Trey when no one else seemed to and yet, he didn't do it blindly and for me it felt like he wanted to believe in Trey but he also knew that Trey's struggles to stay sober were ongoing and that what he was dealing with wasn't going to go away but Kuro wanted to be there for the long haul. He wanted to be that person that Trey could depend on and I'm a total sucker for second chance stories so this just worked 100% for me.

 

it's not until Trey finds his life in jeopardy that he and Kuro actually cross each other's paths and it's thanks to Kuro that Trey doesn't suddenly find his life ending abruptly and unexpectedly in an alley one night until Kuro who may be run a ramen restaurant now had another life and that life equipped him with the skills he needs to keep Trey alive.

 

I loved that Trey was sincerely working on getting his life straightened out. He wasn't trying to blame everyone else for his screw-ups rather he was taking ownership of what he'd done and trying to move on and be a better person. That Kuro was willing to believe in Trey not just because he was interested in him but because he trusted his own instincts and those instincts told him that Trey was worth the effort.

 

As Trey and Kuro work together to solve the mystery of who wants not only Trey dead but Kuro, we're introduced to a collection of secondary characters set against the background for a new series that promises to be every bit as entertaining as 'Cole McGinnis', 'Murder & Mayhem' or any of the other thoroughly enjoyable stories crafted by this author.

 

If you're a fan of Rhys Ford, this one's definitely recommended, if you've never read Rhys Ford, seriously? what are you waiting for...this is as good a time as any to start. So grab your e-reader and a bowl of ramen, curl up in a comfy chair and enjoy.

 

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

I've been wanting to read this one for quite a while now...

Wake Up Married serial, Episodes 1 - 3: Wake Up Married, Meet the Family, Do the Holidays - Alice  Griffiths, Leta Blake, a. K. A. John Fahey,  founding father of the solo steel-string guitar) Dale Miller (Reinventing the Steel - The continuing saga of /Blind Joe death

and happily I finally got the opportunity to check out the first 3  Will & Patrick stories on audio.

 

I have to admit I was expecting something that had more of a comedic bent to it...please don't misunderstand me, there are some humorous moments to be enjoyed in these stories, but there's also some serious stuff going down as well.

 

This one presents a bit of a challenge for me when it comes to how to do my review so I'm going to start with things that are common to all 3 stories in this collection, so let's start with the narrator...John Solo. 

 

This is by no means my first John Solo audio book. Nope, this is somewhere around #10 for this narrator and I and while I enjoyed the narration there was as always for me one little niggle...children's voices...I know, I know I sound like a stuck record but it is what it is and while there wasn't a lot there were children's voices involved and sorry to say...the kids voices just weren't working for me which is why at the end of it it's only 4 stars for the narration...sorry, but it is what it is and as for the adult voices I think Will and Patrick's voices were two of Mr. Solo's better characterizations.

 

Now as for the story let's talk about Will's ex...Ryan. Ok, I can't lie I'm not going to talk about Ryan...I'm going to rant!!! Seriously RANT!!! Because for the life of me, I cannot understand why anyone much less everyone one, except Patrick, thought Ryan was the second coming of you know who!!! The guy was such a freakin' useless PoS!!! I couldn't stand him and the fact that Will's mother and his Uncle both thought he was just so perfect and amazing made me want to wretch and then smack them both upside the head. If my son brought someone like him home to meet me, I would flip my sh*t!!! Ok, so in case you missed it I disliked Ryan with a passion!  #teamPatrickonthisone!

 

Now let's talk about Patrick. I liked him yes at times he was a bit to abrupt and seemed to be missing some of his basic good social skills filters...still, I'm rather someone who speaks their mind honestly than someone...like...well, someone like Ryan.

 

Last but not least a little bit about Will...overall I liked Will. He was sweet and trying so hard to do what was right for everyone except maybe himself. When it came to Will's family the only thing I can say is..."I'm sorry....like seriously sorry!"

 

Will & Patrick Wake Up Married...is the first story in this series and honestly the title says it all. I know they say that what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas....well, that's only if you didn't marry what happened in Vegas, which is what happened to Will and Patrick. When Will falls of the wagon resulting in a night of drunken debauchery the two men wake up to find that somewhere in their escapades they got married and as is often the case it's going to take more than a few minutes to undo what it took mere minutes to do.

 

This one got 3 stars from me because the premise intrigued me and there were definitely parts of it that I liked but at the same time things occasionally started to feel a little more convoluted than I would have liked...things like the issue between Patrick and his employer (now former employer) but still there were some good moments...like pretty much any conversation that Will and Patrick had.  These two had a true love/hate relationship going on the only thing in question was whether they loved to hate each other or hated to love each other but I'm guessing that at this stage of the game even they didn't know.

 

Will & Patrick Meet the Family...or at least we meet Will's family. Which apparently includes his ex, Ryan? Why I ask you why would anyone include their kid's ex in family gatherings? I'm sorry I don't care how much I may like my kid's ex...my kid is my kid and his ex is just that his ex. There is no freaking way that I would ever include them...unless of course I was so oblivious to things that I couldn't see that my kids ex had a toxic personality and I somehow thought they were good for my kid...yeah, Imma' gonna' get me some of those drugs...no thanks. So in spite of the presence of Will's less than stellar ex. I actually enjoyed this episode more than the first one and for me it comes in somewhere between 3.5 - 4 stars but definitely things are heading in the right direction when it comes to holding my interest.

 

and the last episode in this audio book is...

Will & Patrick Do the Holidays...so I'm a bit of a Christmas fiend and this one just did it for me. It's the holidays and we all know holidays + family = stress, anxiety, drama, angst and all things that make for insanity and needless to say in this department Will's family is no different than the next persons and...before I forget there's more Ryan. But it seems that maybe cracks are starting to show in Ryan's public facade and the court of public opinion is starting to reconsider his 'golden boy' status one can only hope but even more importantly it looks like Will and Patrick are beginning to realize that while their marriage may have resulted from a moment of #badlifechoices there may be more to it than either man is willing to admit or to let go of just yet...so I'm giving this one '4 sign me up for more Will & Patrick stars' because these two are definitely taking the long and winding road to happily ever after and they've got me wanting to take the trip with them.

 

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An audio book of 'Will & Patrick Wake Up Married' series was graciously provided by the authors via Signal Boost Promotions

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